Category Archives: Research

Scientists say they already know how to reduce cancer deaths by half

Scientists say they already know how to reduce cancer deaths by half

No treatment required.

In fact, it wouldn’t take any drugs at all. All we need to do is get people to follow the recommendations that doctors have been making for decades: don’t smoke, drink moderately, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly.

At least, that’s the message from a new study that looked at the lifestyles of more than 100,000 doctors and nurses in the US.

This study made it clear right up front – lifestyle alone is never going to stop all cancers. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the disease strikes totally at random, and it can happen to even the healthiest of people.

But the new study serves as a reminder that while we often focus all our money and effort on new treatments, there are already proven ways to reduce people’s risk of developing cancer.

“Even while we’re making new discoveries, that shouldn’t stop us from acting on the knowledge we already do have.”

So is the prevention issue really that cut and dry?

While the occasional study might find something random, the reality is that the vast majority of research is on the same page when it comes to risk factors for cancer – cigarettes, too much alcohol, obesity, and a lack of exercise are all bad.

Fitness and diet infographic

Fitness and diet infographic

(And that’s not to mention sun exposure, because this specific study only looked at carcinoma – which are most cancers except brain and skin cancers.)

To figure out just how much of a risk living an ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle really is, Mingyang Song and Edward Giovannucci from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at data on taken from a range of long-term studies on doctors and nurses in the US.

After looking at cancer rates, they found that up to 80 percent of lung cancer could be put down to lifestyle, as well as more than one-fifth of colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and kidney cancer cases.

When they applied those rates to the rest of the US population, they found that between 41 and 63 percent of cancer cases could be preventable, as well as 59 to 67 percent of cancer deaths.

That’s a pretty huge if you consider the fact that despite countless promising new treatments, we’re still no closer to a ‘cure’ for cancer – the more we learn about the disease, the more complex we realise it is.

“These findings reinforce the predominant importance of lifestyle factors in determining cancer risk,” the researchers write in JAMA Oncology. “Therefore, primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control.”

From Science Alert.  Click here for full article.

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Popping Knuckles

If you are a patient of mine, this is old hat.  But check out this short video from Vox on what happens when you pop your knuckles…

 Popping Knuckles Video

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With that being said, as your chiropractor I would recommend not twisting joints to “pop” them, you are just as likely to damage the surrounding soft tissues as create the vacuum in the joint.  And that’s bad.  Leave the adjusting to a professional.  Chiropractors are trained to focus on the singular problem and apply a very specific amount of force to that particular joint for a therapeutic benefit.

Healthy sleep

Sleep may make you feel better, but its importance may also go beyond just boosting mood or banishing under-eye circles.

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) has just released new guidelines on sleep.

“Sleep plays a vital role in human health, yet there is a lack of sufficient guidance on promoting good sleep health,” said Sutapa Mukherjee, PhD, the chair of the committee that produced the statement, in a press release.

According to the statement, poor sleep — defined as less than six hours or more than nine hours of sleep a night — may lead to health problems. These health problems may include less efficient immunity to disease and memory loss. Consistent poor sleep may also increase the risk of death, according to the statement.

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Many people don’t know how important sleep is when it comes to health, and many people don’t get the right amount of sleep, Dr. Mukherjee and team wrote. Children and teens also need different amounts and types of sleep than adults, and many don’t get the sleep that helps them function best.

The authors noted that children need to be taught that it’s important to go to bed on time, and that they should be allowed to sleep until they wake up naturally.

The authors called for more education on sleep hygiene and noted the need for doctors to encourage proper sleep without the use of sedatives. Doctors also need to be more aware of sleep disorders, such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to Dr. Mukherjee and colleagues.

This statement was published June 15 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The American Thoracic Society funded this research.

Citations:

Green mango salad (som tum mamuang)

From the Guardian, click here for article

Green mango salad (som tum mamuang)

Green mango salad (som tum mamuang). Photograph: Tara Fisher for the Observer

South-east Asian cooking transforms a salad from a side dish to the main event, giving a perfect opportunity to eat more fruit, veg, healthy proteins and nuts. These textures together with the taste explosion of sweet, savoury, spicy and sour dressing mean you won’t miss unrefined, fibreless carbs.

Mangoes are also rich in a protective, soluble fibre that will slow down the digestion of the entire meal. Add chicken left over from a roast for extra thrift.

Serves 2 as a main course
fine green beans a handful
peanuts a handful, toasted and crushed
red onion ½ (or whole shallot), finely sliced
cucumber a handful, finely sliced at an angle
red chilli 1, with seeds
tomatoes a handful, quartered
mint and coriander 1 tbsp of each, chopped, stalks included,
leftover roast chicken torn strips (other good options are prawns, griddled and sliced, or chicken breast)
mango 1 large, under-ripe

For the dressing (the important bit)
chilli 1-2
garlic 1 large clove
palm sugar 1 tbsp (you can substitute honey or normal sugar)
fish sauce 2 tbsp
lime 1, juiced
extra-virgin olive oil

This salad is easiest to make with a Japanese mandoline, but there are other options if you don’t have one: you could use a combination of a knife and a potato peeler or a cheap julienne peeler.

The beans will need blanching in salted boiling water for around 3-4 minutes until they are tender but retain a little bite. Drain and “refresh” by cooling with cold water – it’s nice if they are warm but not hot in the salad.

Toast the unsalted peanuts in a dry non-stick pan until they have a golden colour. Roughly crush – best done by bashing in a mortar and pestle.

Slice the onion, cucumber and chilli and quarter the tomatoes. Finely chop the herbs and include the fragrant coriander stalks as well as the leaves. Add the chicken (or prawns) and incorporate all together in a large bowl with the sliced mango, green beans and crushed, toasted peanuts.

The dressing is best made in a mortar and pestle, although you can pulse the ingredients in a blender.

Add together the dry ingredients and bash into a smooth paste – the sugar helps with abrasion. Now add the wet ingredients and stir them together.

Dress the salad and allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes for the flavours to marinate. Then pile high on a large serving plate and enjoy.

How Exercise Keep Us Young

4/18/2017: New York Times, see article here.

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Active older people resemble much younger people physiologically, according to a new study of the effects of exercise on aging. The findings suggest that many of our expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us. Aging remains a surprisingly mysterious process. A wealth of past scientific research has shown that many bodily and cellular processes change in undesirable ways as we grow older. But science has not been able to establish definitively whether such changes result primarily from the passage of time — in which case they are inevitable for anyone with birthdays — or result at least in part from lifestyle, meaning that they are mutable. This conundrum is particularly true in terms of inactivity. Older people tend to be quite sedentary nowadays, and being sedentary affects health, making it difficult to separate the effects of not moving from those of getting older.

In the new study, which was published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach. They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit.  “We wanted to understand what happens to the functioning of our bodies as we get older if we take the best­case scenario,” said Stephen Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London. To accomplish that goal, the scientists recruited 85 men and 41 women aged between 55 and 79 who bicycle regularly. The volunteers were all serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The men had to be able to ride at least 62 miles in six and a half hours and the women 37 miles in five and a half hours, benchmarks typical of a high degree of fitness in older people. The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes. They also had the volunteers complete the so-called Timed Up and Go test, during which someone stands up from a chair without using his or her arms, briskly walks about 10 feet, turns, walks back and sits down again.

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The researchers compared the results of cyclists in the study against each other and also against standard benchmarks of supposedly normal aging. If a particular test’s numbers were similar among the cyclists of all ages, the researchers considered, then that measure would seem to be more dependent on activity than on age. As it turned out, the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability. And their Timed Up and Go results were exemplary. Many older people require at least 7 seconds to complete the task, with those requiring 9 or 10 seconds considered to be on the cusp of frailty, Dr. Harridge said. But even the oldest cyclists in this study averaged barely 5 seconds for the walk, which is “well within the norm reported for healthy young adults,” the study authors write.

Some aspects of aging did, however, prove to be ineluctable. The oldest cyclists had less muscular power and mass than those in their 50s and early 60s and considerably lower overall aerobic capacities. Age does seem to reduce our endurance and strength to some extent, Dr. Harridge said, even if we exercise. But even so, both of those measures were higher among the oldest cyclists than would be considered average among people aged 70 or above. All in all, the numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active. “If you gave this dataset to a clinician and asked him to predict the age” of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, Dr. Harridge said, “it would be impossible.” On paper, they all look young. Of course, this study is based on a single snapshot of an unusual group of older adults, Dr. Harridge said. He and his colleagues plan to retest their volunteers in five and 10 years, which will provide better information about the ongoing effects of exercise on aging. But even in advance of those results, said Dr. Harridge, himself almost 50 and an avid cyclist, this study shows that “being physically active makes your body function on the inside more like a young person’s.”

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It’s good for every body!

A version of this article appears in print on 01/13/2015, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A Prescription for Youth. © 2017 The New York Times Company

October is Spinal Health Month – See your Chiropractor!

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Don’t wait to get healthy!

From The Doctor will see you now”, link here

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The rate of heart disease in the U.S. has declined steadily over the last 40 years. But even though heart attacks are uncommon in young women, the rate for deaths in women 35 to 44 years of age has remained about the same. Researchers wondered if this could be explained by certain lifestyle choices and set out to test their theory.

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What they found is that young women — and presumably men — can avoid many heart problems simply by developing six healthy lifestyle habits that greatly reduce the risk of having a heart attack or developing a risk factor for heart disease as they get older.

Up to 75 percent of heart attacks that occur in women could be prevented had they followed healthy lifestyle practices, the study found. Even those women with a diagnosed risk factor for heart disease who adhered to at least four of the healthy practices had a lower risk of developing the disease.

Researchers defined the six healthy lifestyle practices as:

  • Not smoking
  • Exercising at least 2 ½ hours per week
  • Eating a diet low in red meat, refined grains and sugar, and high in vegetables and whole grains
  • Having a body mass index in the normal range
  • Watching less than seven hours of television weekly
  • Consuming no more than one alcoholic drink per day

The study followed nearly 70,000 women for 20 years who were, on average, 37 years old at the beginning of the study. During the course of the study, 456 women had heart attacks, and over 31,000 women were diagnosed with at least one risk factor for heart disease.

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The women in the study who practiced all six healthy habits had a 92 percent lower risk of having a heart attack and were 66 percent less likely to develop a risk factor for heart disease, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol, compared to women who ignored the six healthy habits.

Those women who were diagnosed with a risk factor, yet who practiced at least four of the healthy practices, had a markedly lower risk of developing heart disease as they got older, compared to those who didn’t adhere to any of the practices.

Looking at the healthy practices independently, exercise, not smoking, healthy diet, and lower BMI each were associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and women who consumed one drink a day had the lowest risk, compared to those who didn’t consume any alcohol or those who consumed a larger amount.

A surprise finding was that 140 of the 456 women who suffered heart attacks during the study had a normal body mass index or BMI meaning that a healthy weight isn’t necessarily a protective factor. Their lack of exercise, unhealthy diets, and smoking status are factors that may well have contributed to their heart problems.

Lifestyle plays a huge role in a person’s risk of developing heart disease, and lifestyle changes are often the first recommended intervention when someone is diagnosed with a risk factor. Unfortunately, more often than not, people don’t decide to make changes to their lifestyle until after a coronary event has occurred.

The study sends an important message to young women (men, too). The time to establish healthy habits is early in life — in your 20s. Waiting until something happens to decide to “get healthy” can be a gamble that may not pay off.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.