Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Can you 'C' yourself after a festive meal?

Sure you can see yourself--a little too full and a quite a bit sleepy. But oy, can you picture your arteries?

We're talking major arterial dysfunction here after a high-fat meal. The endothelial cells that line the blood vessels supplying oxygen-rich blood to the body ideally have the capacity to dilate these passages and increase blood flow as needed. When stunned by a load of saturated or trans- fats, these cells lose this ability, and those arteries already affected by atherosclerosis are most vulnerable to high-fat assaults.

Chinese cardiologists invited 124 patients down to the lab to chow mainly on high fat foods. Arterial function was measured before and after the meal, and half the group was pre-medicated with 2 gm of vitamin C before they dug in. Both participants with coronary artery disease and normal controls showed no change in vessel elasticity with vitamin C on board, but those who were C-less in Hunan showed a critical sproing in their springiness after the feast.

Experts estimate that most American women have cholesterol deposits in arteries by age 65. If you must eat high-fat food--and most of us indulge on occasion--chase your fat with a C!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Are things piling up on you?

If so, be aware that you're at risk for depression. This study from the Archives of General Psychiatry used mathematical modeling to identify underlying mechanisms of depression
"Depression is found to result more often from pileup of negative stimuli than from single life events."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Justice at work

No fairness in the workplace? No's bad for your health. Investigators from Finland and England suggested employers ponder this:

An indicator of justice at work is whether people believe that their supervisor considers their viewpoints, shares information concerning decision-making, and treats individuals fairly and in a truth manner.

Previous studies have confirmed that undervalued is way worse than overworked when the longterm effects on health and wellbeing are considered. This particular study reported last year in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed 6500 British civil servants over nearly 9 years, correlating incidence of coronary heart disease with perceived justice in the workplace. They found that the level of justice was a significant predictor of future heart disease even when numbers were adjusted for conventional risk factors such as hypertension and smoking.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I've seen a lot of unhappy workers in my office recently. Certain local government offices here in Denver are not only endangering the daily satisfaction but also the future health of their employees.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bookmark and you will get a glimpse behind closed doors. It's a remarkable web-site; thanks Leigh for sharing it with me.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Is Lemon Zinger your nightcap of choice?

Aromatherapy uses essential oils from flowers or herbs to promote health. And if you happen to be a rat and prefer working out on your exercise wheel instead of sleeping, than lemon oil is your odor of choice.

Japanese neuroscientists worked with a group of good-smelling rats (rodents with a working sense of smell--we can only guess how they smelled). As the rats prepared for bed, the researchers presented them with a number of oils to sniff.

Whiffs of valerian and roses sent the animals into a prolonged snooze shortly after they settled down. But did lemon aid their sleep? Insomnia city for the citrus snorters; they scuttered about until the wee hours of the morning.

The researchers concluded: "The present results may suggest the possibility that lemon inhalation may cause a worsening of insomnia symptoms." So pass up the lemon meringue pie at bed.

For more information on valerian, check out the latest issue of femailhealthnews which will be e-mailed to subscribers in the next few days.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Weeping in the exam room

Don't feel bad if you do. Lots of other people weep as well, as often as not over their jobs. What makes employers think that employees will do their best if the job makes them cry?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

GAD, how I hate being anxious. It's one thing to fret a bit as you watch the teen head off for an evening with friends, but quite another to dither endlessly over replacing the gutters, or finding a parking place, or, worst of all, to pace the floors over no troubles at all.

A patient I saw yesterday could hardly bear his ride to work on the light rail; he'd plot his escape at each stop, then grit his teeth and travel on, promising himself he'd surely bail at the next opportunity. Then another patient in the early afternoon related that she'd finally gotten up the nerve to come in to discuss her unending fear, then nearly made herself sick with worry that her employer would be angry that she was taking time off to visit my office.

Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD is associated with an unpleasant free-floating sense of danger, exaggerated worry over the trials of everyday life, and an inability to relax. Social scientists have recently released a 7 item screening test to easily identify GAD, appropriately named GAD-7.

Worried that you suffer from GAD? Check out:Are you overanxious?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Docosahexaenoic acid

DHA is an appealing PUFA (poly-unsaturated fatty acid) delivered by fish oil. French investigators theorize that this PUFA or omega-3 fatty acid becomes incorporated into the cell membranes of neurons. Once embedded in the cellular surface, DHA may protect against the injurious effects of amyloid-beta, the protein fragment that gums up the brainworks in Alzheimer's disease.

And in clinical news, a decade long study of Boston oldsters showed a 48% decrease in the incidence of AD among those who had the highest levels of DHA due to regular intake of fatty fish.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tylenol troubles for liver

The recommended daily limit of 4 gm may be too high.

University of North Carolina researchers found that a significant number of participants in a recent trial had notable abnormalities in a liver enzyme test called ALT. These elevations occured after two weeks daily dosing of a combination analgesic that provided 4,000 mg of Tylenol (acetaminophen) in a day. While such elevations do indicate liver damage, all the participants normalized their levels after they discontinued the drug.

Twelve Tylenol tablets in a day may sound like a lot, but many persons with chronic pain easily ingest the equivalent amount of acetaminophen through products such as Vicodin or Lortab. Eight tablets of Vicodin ES or 5-6 tablets of Lortab-Plus contain 4 gm of acetaminophen.

Friday, August 18, 2006

One of the most frustrating things about undertaking a weight loss program is the initial lack of success, particularly in people who have become seriously overweight. The inability to see even a little progress leads to that 'to-heck-with-it-today-maybe-tomorrow' mentality that dashes diets in the late afternoon.

Part of the problem is that prolonged obesity with its resultant insulin resistance causes changes in the way that muscle cells use fat for energy. As a result, these cells fill up with fat droplets. Chronic, persistent exercise is needed to pull the fat out of the muscle cells before a more normal metabolism finally initiates weight loss.

One drug designed to return proper fatty acid metabolism to muscles actually made it to phase 3 clinical testing with initial bright results. Unfortunately, many patients became resistant to the favorable effects of Axokine. Australian investigators are, however, hot on the trail of other pharmaceutical methods to induce weight loss by directly targeting skeletal muscle cells.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Don't let this swell your head, but skulls these days are significantly larger than the head bones of centuries past.

UK orthodontists measured 30 skulls from victims of a 14th century Black Death epidemic and 54 skulls of unfortunate sailors who went down with the ship off Portsmouth in 1545 and compared them with x-rays of modern young adults. In particular, scientists found that the size of that part of the skull which houses the frontal lobes--the portion of the brain which sits behind our foreheads and is associated with intelligence--has gained in size while our faces are now less prominent.*

While the researchers acknowledge that humans have increased in overall size in the intervening centuries due in part to better diets, they theorize that our bony brain cases may be swelling disproportionately to changes in the attached body.

*Think Kanamites, the flesh-eating aliens of The Twilight Zone who arrived on earth "To Serve Man."

Friday, August 11, 2006

"....Vitamins are potent, essential nutrients which have effects that can precipitate harm as well as provide benefit.
---Margo Denke, MD, Center for Human Nutrition

Dr. Denke's remarks were in reference to a study on vitamin A intake and hip fractures in postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis and hip fracture are associated with chronic over-consumption of this essential nutrient at levels just twice the current recommended RDA.

There is growing concern among experts about this 'subtoxicity' of too much vitamin A, particularly in developed countries where food is fortified with A and there is a high level of use of vitamin supplements.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Can this neuron be saved? Check out:

Doc of Ages

or, a new blog for women of age.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Diarrhea forever vs. The Techno-Goat

You may recognize the phrase 'diarrhea forever?!?' from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire. For two million people each year, diarrhea forever means the end of the line. That's the number of persons, mostly children, who die annually due to dehydration from intestinal infections.

Nursing infants are protected by enzymes in breast milk from the bacterial dysentery. Specifically, the protein lysozyme rips open the walls of E coli causing their germy little guts to leak out. While human milk is rich in lysozyme, animal milk is not. Once children are weaned, therefore, they are much more vulnerable to toxic bacterium and the terminal runs.

Scientists at the University of California have discovered a way to inject human lysozyme-producing genes into the milk-producing instructional DNA packet located in goat mammary glands. As a result, the transgenic goats' milk has much higher levels of the enzyme and has been proven to decrease the bacterial load in the guts of baby pigs.

Lead investigator Dr. Jim Murray hopes that the milk will someday boost the immune systems of children at-risk.
Up your nose with a video camera!

Now how fun is this? Visit with Dr. Edward Hepworth of the Colorado Sinus Institute and watch the pus pour from your sinuses!

Ellen of Denver reports that Dr. Hepworth invited her to share the view from her maxillary sinus as he scoped out her nasal situation. While it wasn't pretty, it explained her misery. Better yet, the specialist at CSI offered her a new and careful approach to her sinus situation.

Considering the toll that Denver's dry and dusty air takes on our upper airways, Dr. Hepworth's skills are a wonderful addition to our therapeutic solutions. You can reach him at 303-744-1961.