News News News
WASTING TIME AND MONEY
Aside from its pernicious effect on patient-physician relationships and draconian control of medical decision making, third-party financing of “health care” is a tremendous burden on society and practitioners.
Our “bloated and error prone claims processing system eats up nearly one of every three dollars that patients spend on healthcare in this country, says a survey of 200 hospital and insurance executives and 1000 consumers” (Medical Economics April 20, 2007 p17)
One of five claims is delayed or denied, and an astonishing 96 per cent must be submitted more than once.
None of this monkey work benefits anyone but a few fat cats and is a strong disincentive for talented students who would otherwise consider a career in medicine.
HOW MANY IMPOSSIBLE THINGS CAN BE BELIEVED BEFORE BREAKFAST?
For fans of our present “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” logic of health care, a new industry has been created to assist with just the problem cited in the previous item.
“Denial-management systems” promise to reduce the number of times doctors and hospitals have to resubmit an insurance claim before actually receiving payment for the services provided. It is always of benefit for the fat cats to delay or deny payment, as it means more profits for them.
The “denial management industry” of course will add another layer of technology, insecurity of data, delay, expense and bureaucracy. (“Denial Management Systems can Bring Cleaner Claims” American Medical News April 23/30, 2007 p. 18)
FERTILITY & OBESITY
Being overweight can impair fertility in both men and women, and being underweight can also affect male fertility. A study of 16,000 young Danish men found that sperm counts and sperm concentration were respectively 21.6% and 23.9% lower in those who were overweight, and 28.1% and 36.4% lower in those who were underweight.
As far as women are concerned, analysis of nearly 6000 attempts at IVF found that the rate of successful implants of embryos in overweight women was significantly reduced (1 in 5) compared to healthy weight women (1 in 4). (American Society for Reproductive Medicine Meeting, October 2004).
KEEP ON EXERCISING
People in their 50s and 60s who take regular exercise are approximately 35% less likely to die within eight years than inactive people in the same age group, according to a study carried out at the University of Michigan Health System.
The benefit was even greater among active people with a high heart disease risk; they were 45% less likely to die within eight years than sedentary people with high heart risk. The exercise did not need to be vigorous, with benefits shown for activities like walking, gardening or dancing regularly.(Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, November 2004, Volume 36, Issue 11: 1923-1929).
Meanwhile new research has cast doubt on the suggestion that the negative effects of obesity can be countered by becoming fit.
A study of data from nearly 120,000 women in the Nurse’s Health Study found that women who were physically active but obese had almost twice the risk of death of women were both active and lean.
And women who were sedentary but slender were 55% more likely to die, whilst women who were both sedentary and obese were almost two and a half times more likely to die. (New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 351:2694-2703).
DOGS CAN SMELL BLADDER CANCER
Six dogs have been trained to discriminate between urine from patients with bladder cancer and urine from diseased and healthy controls.
After seven months of training the dogs were able to select the urine of patients with cancer 41% of the time, whereas the success rate expected by chance alone was 14%. (BMJ 2004;329 (25 September).
LAPTOPS DAMAGE FERTILITY
Sitting with the legs together and working on a laptop computer can raise the temperature of the scrotum by up to 2.8°C, an amount sufficient to affect testicular function and impair spermatogenesis.
The rise in temperature is partly due to the sitting posture and partly due to the heat generated by the computer. (Hum. Reprod. Advance Access published online on December 9, 2004).
HOW TO LIVE LONGER
A recent study has found that over a ten-year period, there was a 23% reduction in overall deaths among adherents of the Mediterranean diet.
Furthermore moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a 22% reduction in risk, regular physical activity with a 37% reduction and not smoking with a 35% reduction.
The Mediterranean diet is defined as one that emphasizes whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables and potatoes, but not meat and dairy products. (JAMA, September 22/29, 2004; 292: 1433 – 1439).
Meanwhile another dietary study reports that men who eat a diet rich in non- and poly- unsaturated fats have a significantly reduced risk of developing gallstones. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, nuts and avocados, whilst polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils and oily fish. (Ann Intern Med, Oct 2004; 141: 514 – 522).
RISE IN CAESAREANS
Caesarean sections have been implicated in a greater risk of long-term infertility and a reduced chance of subsequent successful vaginal delivery.
All the more extraordinary, therefore, to discover that first-time caesareans among women with no reported medical risk (i.e. no medical risk and no labor and delivery complications recorded on the birth certificate) rose 67% between 1991 and 2001. Of first time mothers aged 34 and over, 1 in 5 gave birth by caesarean in 2001. (BMJ 2005;330:71-72).
DAIRY FOODS & OVARIAN CANCER
A study carried out at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute which analyzed data from over 60,000 women for more than 13 years, has found that after taking other known risk factors into account, consumption of four or more helpings of dairy food a day was associated with a doubled risk of developing serous ovarian cancer.
The association was particularly marked with milk consumption, more than one glass of which a day doubled the risk. (Am J Clin Nutr 2004 80: 1353- 1357).
SOYA & CHOLESTEROL
A University of Oxford study has found that women who consume moderate amounts of soya protein (6 grams a day or more) have lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol than do women with a low (0.5 grams) or zero intake. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 80, Nov. 2004: 1391-96).
SOYA & ENDOMETRIAL CANCER
A Shanghai study which compared soya consumption in 832 women suffering from endometrial cancer and 846 healthy controls reports that regular consumption of soya products is inversely associated with (i.e. appears to reduce the risk of) the cancer. (BMJ 2004; 328:1285).
YOGHURT & HELICOBACTER PYLORI
A Taiwanese study has indicated that live yoghurt (containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis bacteria) is effective at controlling H.pylori infection, although it is probable that the yoghurt would have to be consumed regularly long term to maintain control. (Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 80, 2004: 737-41).
ACUPUNCTURE EFFECTIVE FOR PELVIC PAIN IN PREGNANCY
One in three women suffers potentially severe and disabling pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. Now a Swedish study has demonstrated that acupuncture is more effective than either standard or specialized exercises in relieving the pain.
386 pregnant women were assigned to a six-week treatment program involving either standard home exercise, standard exercise plus acupuncture or specialized exercises designed to improve mobility and strength.
Pain levels were assessed morning and evening. The women receiving the acupuncture showed the greatest relief in pain, which, achieved without the use of medication, is of particular benefit to pregnant women.
Acupuncture treatment focused on the following points: Baihui DU-20, Hegu L.I.-4, Guanyuanshu BL-26, Ciliao BL-32 Zhongliao BL-33, Zhibian BL-54 Henggu KID-11,Kunlun BL-60, Huantiao GB-30, Chongmen SP-12 and Zusanli ST-36. Qi sensation was obtained and the needles were retained for 30 minutes, with manipulation every 10 minutes. Treatment was given twice weekly for the six-week study period.
The authors of the study say: “We conclude that acupuncture as well as stabilizing exercises constitute effective complements to standard treatment for pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain. Acupuncture was superior to stabilizing exercises in this study.
The findings are of particular importance because no previous study has shown such marked treatment effects among pregnant women with well defined pelvic girdle pain”. (BMJ 2005;330:761 (2 April), doi:10.1136/bmj.38397.507014.E0).
MORE PROOF THAT ACUPUNCTURE WORKS
Real acupuncture directly stimulates the area of the brain that manages pain and the nervous system in a way that both sham acupuncture or simply applying pressure to the skin does not.
Although many clinical studies have clearly demonstrated the value of acupuncture in treating various diseases and relieving many different symptoms, this is one of the few studies showing how the brain responds to acupuncture needling.
This study also specifically demonstrates that the effect of true acupuncture is independent of whether a person does or does not believe it will be effective. (NeuroImage vol. 25, issue 4, 1 May 2005, p1161-1167).
ACUPRESSURE FOR DIALYSIS PATIENTS
A Taiwanese study set out to determine whether acupressure was effective in treating fatigue and depression in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving hemodialysis treatment.
The study applied an experimental pre-test and post-test design. Sixty-two patients were randomly assigned to an acupressure group or a control group. Patients in the acupressure group received point massage for 12 minutes daily, three days a week, for four weeks. Patients in the control group received only routine unit care.
The study found that fatigue and depression among patients in the acupressure group showed significantly greater improvement than in patients in the control group. (J Nurs Res. 2004 Mar;12(1):51-9).
A previous Taiwanese study randomly assigned 98 end-stage renal disease patients with sleep disturbances into an acupressure group, a sham acupressure group and a control group.
Acupressure and sham acupressure group patients received point or non point massage three times a week during hemodialysis treatment for a total of 4 weeks, whilst the control group received only routine care.
The results indicated significant differences between the acupressure group and the control group in a whole range of sleep markers as well as significantly improved quality of life. (J Adv Nurs. 2003 Apr;42(2):134-42).
"What Were They Thinking?" Department
CONVENIENCE OR FUTURE CATASTROPHE?
The chemists at Wyeth pharmaceuticals think they have a clever idea. Why not stop the menstrual cycle completely? After all, modern medicine understands physiology, psychology, cardiology, neurology and endocrinology so well that we are ready to shut down a system that connects with almost every important organ in a woman's body.
Don't think this is such a wise idea? Well, neither do I.
In a development that rivals the unthinking and monstrous cruelty to horses that Wyeth demonstrates by the development and promotion of Premarin®, the approval of Lybrel® promises a future of complications and adverse effects to an entire generation of women, if their doctors prove as compliant as they were in promoting conjugated (horse derived) estrogens for decades.
One of the most useful diagnostic systems for practitioners of Oriental medicine is, in fact, the menstrual cycle. In addition, improvement in symptoms related to this fundamental 28 day cycle is an important sign that treatment is successful, even in women whose primary reason for coming for treatment is not a menstrual problem.
Many seemingly unrelated disorders, from allergy to migraine, are tied to the menstrual cycle, and altering these monthly neurohormonal cycles will affect these in complex and unpredicatable ways. This is one reason that I also don't support the use of Seasonale®, a related product that is prescribed to limit the monthly cycle to four times a year.
In reality, these drugs do not work so perfectly, with unpredictable bleeding and increased risks of blood clots and cardiovascular disease. Future risks are by definition unknown, but every class of drug has seen new and unexpected adverse effects develop over time.
Inasmuch as I and other practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe that the menstrual cycle is a self regulating system and not a pathologic process, it is illogical to treat it as a simple on-off mechanism like a light switch. Time will prove that drugs like this and the philosophies behind their development indicate that medicine has entered a dark and backward thinking era.