American Doctor's Popular Posts

Friday, July 29, 2011

Weight loss 'sleeve' a good option?

Weight loss 'sleeve' a good option?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.
Question asked by Lynn C. of Madison, Ohio
I have had a weight problem for 23 years. I have lost and regained over 400 pounds. My weight-loss doctor is offering the "sleeve." I have been told because of my gastroesophageal reflux disease that the Lap Band is not an option, nor is the more well-known gastric bypass because of a high family history of cancer.
I have all the problems common in morbidly obese people, some I had even when thin. High, difficult-to-control blood sugar, blood pressure and a mild heart issue controlled by meds. The sleeve has been done only a few years - can it be a good option for me?

Expert answer:
Hi Lynn. Although I'm a nutrition doctor and I focus on weight loss through lifestyle measures such as diet and exercise, I realize that sustained major weight loss is not always achievable and that surgical intervention, particularly when patients have obesity-related diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, can be lifesaving and life changing.
Since I am not a bariatric (weight loss) surgeon, I turned to Dr. Kai Nishi, a highly respected bariatric surgeon at the Khalili Center for Bariatric Care in Beverly Hills.
He agreed that Lap Band may not be the best option if you have GERD as it could worsen symptoms.
However, if your GERD is due to a hiatal hernia, this could be repaired at the same time that your band is placed and your GERD could potentially be cured. Gastric bypass surgery is an anti-reflux surgery and in many cases can cure GERD.
Regarding your family history of cancer, the only type of cancer that would make gastric bypass surgery not an option is stomach cancer.
If you have a family history of other types of cancer including colon, lung, breast and prostate, this type of surgery, which has been around for longer than the newer sleeve procedure and thus physicians have more experience with the procedure and there is more research into the risks and benefits, would still be an option (the best option according to Nishi.)
The sleeve gastrectomy is a surgery in which 85% of your stomach is removed so you are left with just a tube for a stomach. Gastric bypass surgery also cuts the stomach, but it creates a new smaller pouch, about the size of an egg, which is attached to the second part of the small intestine.
This can lead to more nutrient absorption issues than the sleeve but it can also lead to better weight loss. With the sleeve procedure, results show 50-60% excess body weight loss at one year vs. 65-70% with gastric bypass and 45-50% with gastric band.
Excess body weight loss, or EBWL, refers to the percent excess weight a person begins with. If you are 100 pounds overweight and you lost 50 pounds that would be a 50% EBWL.
Weight-loss surgery in general leads to a 70-80% resolution of diabetes and 50% resolution of high blood pressure, with better results for both conditions with gastric bypass (because the sleeve is a newer procedure less data are available).
So if your weight-loss surgeon, who is fully aware of all of your medical history and issues, feels that the sleeve is the best option, and you truly do not believe that you are capable of maintaining weight loss permanently through lifestyle measures, (losing even 10% of your excess body weight can make a significant health difference), then I think the sleeve could be a good option for you.
If you do go forward with any type of weight-loss surgery, make sure that you have an adequate support system in place. It is still critical that you permanently adopt a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise and good food choices after the operation.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do you obsessively check your phone?

Do you obsessively check your phone?
By Elizabeth Cohen

There I was at a long-awaited dinner with friends Saturday night, when in the midst of our chatting, I watched my right hand sneaking away from my side to grab my phone sitting on the table to check my e-mail.

"What am I doing?" I thought to myself. "I'm here with my friends, and I don't need to be checking e-mail on a Saturday night."

The part that freaked me out was that I hadn't told my hand to reach out for the phone. It seemed to be doing it all on its own. I wondered what was wrong with me until I read a recent study in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing that showed I'm hardly alone. In fact, my problem seems to be ubiquitous.

The authors found smartphone users have developed what they call "checking habits" -- repetitive checks of e-mail and other applications such as Facebook. The checks typically lasted less than 30 seconds and were often done within 10 minutes of each other.

On average, the study subjects checked their phones 34 times a day, not necessarily because they really needed to check them that many times, but because it had become a habit or compulsion.

"It's extremely common, and very hard to avoid," says Loren Frank, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. "We don't even consciously realize we're doing it -- it's an unconscious behavior."

Why we constantly check our phones

Earlier this year, Frank started to realize that he, too, was habitually checking his smartphone over and over without even thinking about it. When he sat down to figure out why, he realized it was an unconscious, two-step process.

First, his brain liked the feeling when he received an e-mail. It was something new, and it often was something nice: a note from a colleague complimenting his work or a request from a journalist for help with a story.

"Each time you get an e-mail, it's a small jolt, a positive feedback that you're an important person," he says. "It's a little bit of an addiction in that way."

Once the brain becomes accustomed to this positive feedback, reaching out for the phone becomes an automatic action you don't even think about consciously, Frank says. Instead, the urge to check lives in the striatum, a part of the brain that governs habitual actions.

The cost of constant checking
For Frank, constant checking stressed him out and really annoyed his wife.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a neurologist at UCSF, sees another cost: Whenever you take a break from what you're doing to unnecessarily check your e-mail, studies show, it's hard to go back to your original task.

"You really pay a price," he says.

Habitually checking can also become a way for you to avoid interacting with people or avoid doing the things you really need to be doing.

"People don't like thinking hard," says Clifford Nass, a professor of communication and computer science at Stanford University. Constantly consulting your smartphone, he says, "is an attempt to not have to think hard, but feel like you're doing something."

How to know if you're a habitual checker

1. You check your e-mail more than you need to.

Sometimes you're in the middle of an intense project at work and you really do need to check your e-mail constantly. But be honest with yourself -- if that's not the case, your constant checking might be a habit, not a conscious choice.

2. You're annoying other people.

If, like Frank, you're ticking off the people closest to you, it's time to take a look at your smartphone habits.

"If you hear 'put the phone away' more than once a day, you probably have a problem," says Lisa Merlo, a psychologist at the University of Florida.

3. The thought of not checking makes you break out in a cold sweat.

Try this experiment: Put your phone away for an hour. If you get itchy during that time, you might be a habitual checker.

How to get rid of your checking habit

1. Acknowledge you have a problem.

It may sound AA-ish, but acknowledging that you're unnecessarily checking your phone -- and that there are repercussions to doing so -- is the first step toward breaking the habit.

"We can be conscious of the habit of checking. We can unlearn its habits," says Sherry Turkle, a psychologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.

2. Have smartphone-free times.

See if you can stay away from your phone for a few hours. If that makes you too nervous, start off with just 10 minutes, Merlo suggests. You actually don't have to stay away from your phone altogether -- you can just turn the e-mail function off (or Facebook or whatever you're habitually checking).

3. Have smartphone-free places.

You can also establish phone-free zones, which is what Frank did to cure his smartphone habit.

"The first thing I did was banish it from the bedroom," he says. "I would have to walk down the hallway to my study to actually be able to see it."

You could also force yourself to stop checking when you're in a social situation, like out to dinner with friends. (Last Saturday night, I shoved my phone way down into my purse where I couldn't see it).

Joanne Lipari, a psychologist who practices in California, uses this strategy when her teenage daughter has friends over.

"I have a rule. Like the Old Wild West which had you check your gun at the saloon entrance, I have a basket by the door, and the kids have to check their phones in the basket," she says. Otherwise, she says, the kids would stare at their phones and not interact with one another.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Should doctors practice what they preach?

Should doctors practice what they preach?

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in Metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor.
What do you call a chain-smoking, morbidly obese, soda addict who just graduated medical school?
Yep. Doctor.
How would you feel if he were your doctor? Would you listen to him if he asked you to adopt a healthier lifestyle?

My third year of medical school during my family medicine rotation, I was assigned to follow Dr. Ben, one of the residents in the outpatient clinic. Dr. Ben didn’t look like any other doctor I’d met. He was 5 feet 6, weighed well over 300 pounds, chain-smoked during his lunch break and hauled around a twelve-pack of Mountain Dew, which he polished off by the end of his shift.
Dr. Ben was also well-read, intelligent, dedicated and caring.
My first day with Dr. Ben, a steady flow of patients arrived in the clinic with conditions ranging from ear infections to sprained ankles. They all listened to his advice carefully and agreed to undergo any necessary tests and take the proper medications to treat their ailments.
Then in walked Joe, 55, an overweight desk jockey with hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Joe smoked, drank and the only exercise he got was lifting himself off the couch to waddle over to the fridge for another beer. He came to the clinic for a follow-up visit to check on his high blood pressure. Dr. Ben and I entered the exam room, introduced ourselves and looked over Joe’s chart. After a brief physical, Dr. Ben shook his head.
“Joe, I have to be honest with you. Your blood pressure is way too high. You need to eat healthier, lose weight and stop smoking. You’re putting yourself at risk for a heart attack, lung cancer, or stroke, and I’m just getting started. Do you exercise?”
Joe raised an eyebrow. “Me? No.”
“If you don’t change your lifestyle, there’s nothing I can do. All the medication in the world won’t help you.”
“Are you serious?” Joe paused. “Look at you. No offense. When’s the last time you skipped a meal?”
I felt my checks redden. I’d never heard a patient talk to a doctor this way.
Dr. Ben blushed. “I’m not the patient,” he said.
As Dr. Ben scribbled a prescription refill for a hypertension medication, Joe tapped his foot impatiently. Once Dr. Ben ripped the prescription from his pad, Joe grabbed it, flung open the door, took a last look at him, and rolled his eyes. As he lumbered down the hall I heard him mutter, “When’s the last time you saw your feet?”
Out of earshot, Dr. Ben barreled into the kitchen, popped open his sixth Mountain Dew of the day, chugged it and belched.
Fifteen years later, I offer full disclosure: I am not Dr. Perfect. Far from it. I try. I have a healthy BMI, I don’t smoke, and I exercise regularly. I also enjoy a Bud Light or two, drink a Pepsi every day at lunch, and - I admit it - my name is Tony and I’m a fast food addict. To me, the height of decadence would be to fly to Los Angeles for lunch just to gorge myself on In-N-Out cheeseburgers “animal style.”
As physicians, we are advocates for our patients’ health and well-being. But what if we’re not advocates for ourselves? Does that make us lesser physicians? Will our patients follow our recommendations? Are we supposed to be role models?
I think we should be. Dr. Ben was an outstanding doctor, but the way he looked interfered with his ability to practice medicine. If we don’t work at attaining a healthy lifestyle, why should we expect our patients to? Do as we say, not as we do? That doesn’t work for parents or doctors.
And I’m kidding. I’d never fly to In-N-Out for lunch.
But I’d love them to deliver.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Actress blasts body image extremes

Actress: I got compliments for looking emaciated
Actress Rosario Dawson has some pointed words about expectations on women and their bodies.
"It's a form of violence in the way that we look at women and the way we expect them to look and be for what sake? Not for health, survival, not for enjoyment of life, but just so you could look pretty," Dawson told Shape Magazine. 
Dawson who appears on the August cover discussed industry-wide pressures to maintain an ideal body type.  After losing weight to play a drug addict dying of HIV/AIDS in the 2005 film "Rent," she was stunned to hear compliments about her  figure. “I remember everyone asking what did you do to get so thin? You looked great,” Dawson recalled. “I looked emaciated.”
The controversies surrounding the pressure to be too thin and constant airbrushing of photos are nothing new.
“I’m constantly telling girls all the time everything is airbrushed, everything is retouched to the point it’s not even asked,” she told the magazine.  “None of us look like that."
In the competitive world of magazine covers, skin is nipped, blemishes erased and waist trimmed.  Photoshopping models and celebrities for ultra svelte bodies became a huge topic in France in 2009 when a politician proposed a law that require altered advertisement photographs to carry a label.
This year, the American Medical Association adopted a policy during its annual meeting warning that photo alteration of models’ bodies “can contribute to unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image – especially among impressionable children and adolescents.
“A large body of literature links exposure to media-propagated images of unrealistic body image to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems,” according to the AMA.
The group called on advertising associations to discourage altering photos that could promote unrealistic expectations of body image.
From glossy fashion magazines to even health and fitness routinely retouch photographs.  Is it contradictory that fitness magazines that preach healthy lifestyle retouch their models or celebrities’ photos to look skinnier?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Alzheimer's: Early detection, risk factors are crucial

Alzheimer's: Early detection, risk factors are crucial
By Elizabeth Landau

With more than 5 million people suffering from Alzheimer's disease in the United States, a number that's expected to rise to 16 million by 2050, the pressure is on to find better methods of diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Around the world, Alzheimer's disease is the second most feared disease, behind cancer, according to a recent survey of five countries conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Yet there is still a lot of misinformation: Only 61% of Americans who responded to the survey correctly identified Alzheimer's disease as a fatal illness. Many participants also mistakenly believe there are sure diagnostic methods and effective treatments to slow the disease, but most would seek medical attention if they became aware of their own early signs.

The research that came out of the Alzheimer's Association 2011 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, which took place in Paris last week, reflects a growing emphasis on early detection.

Research suggests the best targets for exploring treatments are patients who do not have full-blown Alzheimer's disease, but experience mild symptoms. Scientists have identified biological indicators called biomarkers that seem to be associated with Alzheimer's, although they are not perfect predictors.

Alzheimer's Association: 10 signs of Alzheimer's

"Things are heading earlier and earlier. And the use of biomarkers has been really essential for helping everybody move toward an understanding of what the earliest changes are and when they can be detected," said Dr. Allan Levey, chair of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Early detection

So far, no drug has been developed to significantly slow the progression of the disease in all patients. And there's no way to halt or reverse the decline of memory and other cognitive abilities once Alzheimer's has been diagnosed. Since attempts to help patients who already have symptoms in these ways have failed, scientists must look to the earliest stages of Alzheimer's in hopes of stopping it before it begins.

Studies presented at the conference reinforced the notion that signs of Alzheimer's may develop in the brain 10 to 20 years before any symptoms begin.

A substance in the brain called beta-amyloid has been associated with dementia in people who have those kinds of symptoms. This is the main ingredient of plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

People with a rare genetic form of Alzheimer's, whose specific genetic mutations guarantee that they will develop the disease, tended to show signs of amyloid plaques in PET scans and cerebrospinal fluid 10 to 20 years before the onset of symptoms. These results come from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network project.

But that represents only a small fraction of Alzheimer's patients -- 1% of cases worldwide, specifically. If you don't have the genetic form, there's no way to tell if you will go on to develop the disease, even if you have accumulation of amyloid plaques. There are some people who have them but do not show symptoms of Alzheimer's.

The kinds of tests that would detect beta-amyloid levels are not widely available. And it's not clear that pulling the amyloid plaques out of the brain reverses the process of cognitive decline; this is one area of research right now.

Another biomarker of interest is a protein called tau, implicated in the neurofibrillary tangles -- which basically take the shape of cells and destroy them -- that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, particularly in the memory center called the hippocampus. But there's no scan to detect these tangles in a living patient.

A major focus of research on early detection is patients who have mild cognitive impairment, a collection of symptoms involving difficulty with memory, language and other mental functions, but which does not interfere with everyday life. It is not necessarily a precursor to Alzheimer's disease, but it does raise the risk of progressing into that more severe illness.

Understanding mild cognitive impairment is important in coming up with better treatments for dementia in general, because the brain hasn't deteriorated as much as in Alzheimer's, so it may not be too late to intervene, experts say.

The brain is the primary organ the disease attacks, but a small study presented at the conference suggests the eyes may also reveal signs of Alzheimer's. Researchers looked at photos of retinal blood vessels and found some differences in Alzheimer's patients, but further research is needed to confirm this idea of using an eye exam to help diagnose Alzheimer's. The same holds for a study suggesting that falling is indicative of Alzheimer's early stages: It's a preliminary idea that needs further investigation.

Identifying risk and prevention factors

Another area of focus is identifying risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. These are associations, not known direct causes.

"Age is a risk factor we can't modify, at least yet. Our genetics, we can't modify yet, which is another major risk factor," Levey said. "But certainly seeking clues about ones that are modifiable is an important" research area.

At the Paris conference, researchers said 3 million cases of Alzheimer's could be prevented worldwide if lifestyle-based, chronic disease risk factors were reduced by 25%. This estimate is based on a mathematical model.

In the United States, physical inactivity had the biggest association with Alzheimer's out of the risk factors studied, followed by depression and smoking. Midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, low educational attainment and diabetes are other risk factors.

"If we can demonstrate that these risk factors can be modified, and that it will lead to lower rates of Alzheimer's disease, the impact could be huge," Levey said.

People in their 40s and 50s have still got perhaps a couple of decades to modify lifestyle to potentially lower risk, he said.

There is also growing evidence that head trauma may increase the risk of dementia. One study presented at the conference in Paris found that traumatic brain injury was associated with dementia among older veterans.

A study of former NFL players suggests that football players also may be at increased risk for mild cognitive impairment or similar cognitive decline, perhaps as a result of repeated head injury during these former athletes' sports careers. In fact, 75 former professional football players are suing the NFL, alleging that the league concealed information about the harmful effects of concussions on the brain for decades.

There is also the idea of cognitive reserve: that keeping the mind active can at least delay the onset of dementia. It also seems that intelligence might help the brain stay in the mild phase of the disease longer, although more study needs to be done in this area as well.

"We know that highly intelligent people have more tolerance to plaque buildup and to loss of energy in their brains than people with lower levels of intelligence and less education," said Dr. Steven DeKosky, vice president and dean of the University of Virginia's School of Medicine, at an Alzheimer's forum at the National Press Foundation in May. "Their brain basically fights it off and finds some other ways to get the things done."


One of the underappreciated effects of Alzheimer's disease is how great a toll it takes on caregivers. Caregivers are much more frequently ill and die earlier than people who do not care for someone with the disease, studies have shown. The stress of taking care of someone chronically ill is sometimes called caregiver syndrome.

Caregiving is hazardous to health because of the stress of helping Alzheimer's patients, and because caregivers may ignore their own health, DeKosky said.

"Alzheimer's patients, when they get into moderate and severe stages, don't have some real sense of time," DeKosky said. "They have to be watched every minute."

Patients may hurt themselves or wander off if not under constant supervision. And it's common for patients to reverse their sleeping and waking cycles, so caregivers' daily habits are likewise disrupted.

The cost is staggering: Caregivers provide more than $200 billion in unpaid care, 17 billion hours each year, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Gibbons' advice to Alzheimer's caregivers: Breathe, believe and receive

Why don't we know more?

Two of the biggest obstacles to finding treatments for Alzheimer's disease are lack of money and difficulty enrolling people in clinical trials, experts say.

The United States spends $450 million each year in Alzheimer's research money, compared to $6 billion for cancer, $4 billion for heart disease and $3 billion for HIV/AIDS research.

In spite of the money that does exist for research, Alzheimer's clinical trials are hard to fill with participants, said Dr. R. Scott Turner, director of the Georgetown University Memory Disorders Program.

Sometimes people believe they're just having "senior moments" and don't want to acknowledge their illness, Turner said. In other cases, patients don't want to go through the hassle of the trial if they're not guaranteed to receive an experimental drug; but, in order for a scientific study to be valid, patients must be randomly assigned to either the drug or a placebo.

Also, some trials don't test drugs at all, but simply look for those biomarkers that may help predict disease later or explore other early diagnostic methods. Such methods will be in high demand when an effective treatment is developed, DeKosky said.

"When the first drug is successful, let's say in symptomatic disease -- may it be so -- the crush to take advantage of what we know, while it's still in research format now, will be immense," DeKosky said.

If you or a loved one are interested in exploring clinical trials, the Alzheimer's Association runs a system called TrialMatch to assist in finding a trial near you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cancer more likely in tall women

Study: Tall women more likely to develop cancer

The taller a woman is, the greater her risk of developing one of 10 different cancers, according to a new study published in the journal Lancet.
Researchers followed 1.3 million middle-aged women in the United Kingdom for several years, and found the risk of cancer increased by about 16% for every 4 inches or 10 centimeters of increased height.
But the question remains, why?
According to Jane Green, a clinical epidemiologist at Oxford University and the lead author of the study, the tallest group – women 5 feet 9 or taller – were 37% more likely to develop cancer than the shortest group – women 5 feet and shorter- regardless of factors such as age, socioeconomic status, body-mass index and amount of physical activity.
There were 97,376 incidents of cancers reported among the women, and height related increases were greatest for the following: colon, malignant melanoma, breast, endometrial, kidney, central nervous system, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and leukemia.
The study did not investigate what specifically about height led to the increased risk, but the research add to other studies that have found a link between cancer and height.  The study authors aren't sure what exactly increases the cancer risk, but they believe there are several theories that warrant more investigation.
For one, the authors propose that “taller people have more cells, and thus a greater opportunity for mutations leading to malignant transformation.”
Another possible culprit:  Hormone levels resulting from insulin-like growth factors both in childhood and in adult life.
“Growth hormones increase cell growth and rate of division, and inhibit cell death,” Green explained in an email. “Both of these might be relevant to cancer either directly or perhaps just by increasing the number of cell divisions during which mutations can occur in the cell DNA.”
A study published earlier this year by researchers in Ecuador found that a condition that stunts the growth of extremely short Ecuadorians, simultaneously reduced the risk of cancer and diabetes in that population. The patients in that study all exhibited a specific mutation in their growth hormone receptor gene.
According to experts with the American Cancer Society, tall people should not be alarmed because of these findings.
"The underlying biological reason for the slightly higher risk among taller people is not known,” explains Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology. “Nobody will be trying to make themselves shorter to lower their cancer risk, and the current results do not mean tall people need additional cancer screening," Jacobs explains.
In fact the study found that smoking was a much stronger risk factor. In current smokers, smoking-related cancers were not as strongly related to height, which Jacobs says highlights the overwhelming importance of the role smoking plays in cancer risk.
"The bottom line is that both short and tall people can lower their risk of developing and dying from cancer by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting the recommended cancer screening tests," he says.
The authors also note more research is needed as certain populations continue to grow taller. The average height of people in Europe has increased by about 1 cm (or .39 inch) per decade throughout the 20th century, the study authors say.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 1960 and 2002, the average height of an adult man in the U.S.increased from just over 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 and ½ inches, while the average height of a woman increased from just over 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 4. 
“The increase in adult height during the past century could thus have resulted in an increase in cancer incidence some 10–15% above that expected,” the authors report.
Study: Tall women more likely to develop cancer

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yoga poses for what ails you

Yoga poses for what ails you
By Elizabeth Cohen

When Dr. Carolyn LaFleur was in a car accident six years ago, she couldn't move her neck for a year and a half, she had terrible pain in her hip, and she would get headaches at her temples.

Frequent icing, physical therapy and massage therapy helped her neck and hip, but didn't do much for the pain in her head.

Then just last year LaFleur discovered yoga. While it didn't get rid of her headaches, it did make the pain much more manageable.

"Yoga has given me strength," says LaFleur, 66, an anesthesiologist who practices in Hudson, New York.

She has her yoga "prescribed" by Dr. Loren Fishman, a rehabilitative medicine specialist at Columbia University's New York-Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan.

"Yoga lowers your tension. It relaxes the basic tone of your muscle," he says. "And the minute you notice that yoga helps, it raises your confidence that you can help yourself. It gives you the feeling of 'I can do it.' "

Fishman and others have done studies showing yoga can help all sorts of medical ailments, from depression to sexual dysfunction to rotator cuff injuries.

"People often have a hard time believing they can get such powerful change from yoga, but they do," says Dr. Dean Ornish, who has studied the health benefits of yoga.

Ornish, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco, says yoga works by bringing down stress levels, which relaxes everything in your body, including blood vessels.

"Your arteries begin to relax so there's more blood flow everywhere, so everything is better," says Ornish, president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute.

Here are 10 ailments where yoga can make a difference.

1. Headaches

Fishman suggested to LaFleur that she do the camel pose, thebridge pose and the wheel pose for headaches. He says these poses stretch the muscles in the front of the chest, which help control the head. The Yoga Journal has more information on yoga for headaches.

2. Asthma

Several studies, including one published in the "Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology," show yoga can help asthma sufferers. Livestrong and Women Fitness list poses that seem to help.

3. Sexual dysfunction in women

A study in the "Journal of Sexual Medicine" shows yoga improved women's desire, satisfaction and orgasms. Health magazinesuggests a sequence of wide leg squat to lizard lunge to frog pose to improve a woman's sex life. Harvard Medical School also has suggestions (added) for yoga poses to enhance sexual function.

4. Sexual dysfunction in men

Doctors in India have successfully used yoga to treat men with premature ejaculation; there are more details in an article in the "Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy." Men's Health suggests certain poses to help men improve their sex lives, including something called "horndog pose."

5. Sleep problems

Researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found lymphoma patients who did yoga slept better than those who didn''s yoga guide suggests trying the happy baby pose or the goddess pose before you go to bed.

6. Menstrual pain

According to a study published in the "North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology," the cobra, cat and fishposes helped teens and young women with menstrual pain.

7. Rotator cuff injuries

Fishman published a study earlier this year showing a chair-assisted headstand can help people with rotator cuff tears. See Figure 2 for how to do it.

8. Osteoporosis

Fishman also published a study showing a regimen of 10 yoga poses helps build bone mineral density after menopause.

9. Pain sensitivity

According to the "Harvard Mental Health Letter," a study at the University of Utah showed people who practice yoga had a higher pain tolerance than those who didn't.

10. Depression and anxiety

A German study mentioned in the same Harvard publication showed that emotionally distressed women became less depressed and anxious after they took two 90-minute yoga classes a week for three months. This yoga journal article suggests camel pose, bridge poseand wheel pose.

Does Your Personality Dictate Whether You'll Be Overweight?

Does Your Personality Dictate Whether You'll Be Overweight?

People who are impulsive, aggressive or risk-takers more likely to weigh more, study contends.

Personality traits may play key roles in body weight, according to a new U.S. study.
Researchers from the U.S. National Institute on Aging found that people who are impulsive, cynical, competitive or aggressive were more likely to be overweight. And those who are highly neurotic and less conscientious are likely to see their weight go through many ups and downs.
"Individuals with this constellation of traits tend to give in to temptation and lack the discipline to stay on track amid difficulties or frustration," said the researchers in an institute news release. "To maintain a healthy weight, it is typically necessary to have a healthy diet and a sustained program of physical activity, both of which require commitment and restraint. Such control may be difficult for highly impulsive individuals."
For the study, published online July 11 in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the researchers examined data compiled over 50 years on nearly 2,000 generally healthy and highly educated people to determine how their personalities might affect their weight and body mass index.
The participants were assessed on the so-called "big five" personality traits — openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism — as well as 30 subcategories of these traits. They were also weighed and measured over the course of the study.
Although people tend to gain weight as they age, the study found those who are impulsive were the most likely to be overweight. People who scored in the top 10 percent on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 pounds more than those in the bottom 10 percent, the researchers said.
"Previous research has found that impulsive individuals are prone to binge eating and alcohol consumption," the study's author, Angelina R. Sutin, said in the news release. "These behavioral patterns may contribute to weight gain over time."
Those who are risk takers, antagonistic, cynical, competitive and aggressive also had greater weight gain, the study showed.
On the flip side, the study found that conscientious people are typically thinner and their weight did not trigger changes in personality during adulthood.
"The pathway from personality traits to weight gain is complex and probably includes physiological mechanisms, in addition to behavioral ones," Sutin concluded. "We hope that by more clearly identifying the association between personality and obesity, more tailored treatments will be developed. For example, lifestyle and exercise interventions that are done in a group setting may be more effective for extroverts than for introverts."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Smoke leads to teen hearing loss

Secondhand Smoke Associated with Hearing Loss in Teens
By Meredith Melnick

It's not news that second-hand smoke can be dangerous—even deadly. Now add one more price nonsmokers pay for living around people who light up: According to a new study from New York University's Langone Medical Center, teens who are regularly exposed to second hand smoke are nearly twice as likely to have hearing loss as teens who live in smoke-free environments.

The study involved 1,533 non-smoking adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 who underwent hearing tests to determine auditory acuity at both high- and low-frequencies. Researchers also measured the subjects' blood concentrations of cotinine — a byproduct of the neurotoxin nicotine that is often used as a biomarker of smoke exposure.

Not only were teens who had the highest level of cotinine more likely to have high- and low-frequency hearing loss, the degree of that impairment was proportional to the level of blood toxicity. In other words, the greater the smoke exposure, the greater the damage — which suggests that the rate of hearing loss could be cumulative.

"Prior work has shown an association between secondhand smoke and ear infection in children which can be associated with conductive hearing loss that is reversible. In adults, smoking has been associated with early hearing loss," says lead author, Dr. Anil K Lalwani, a professor in the departments of Otolaryngology, Physiology and Neuroscience and Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center. "I was concerned that secondhand smoke could similarly be injurious to children and cause injury to the inner ear leading to permanent sensorineural hearing loss."

But even with this suspicion and the evidence provided by the study, it's too early to say with certainty how secondhand smoke could relate to hearing loss. As Lalwani says, previous studies have established a link between smoke exposure and ear infections in children. When that exposure is chronic, the infections could be too, and hearing loss could result. For now, that mechanism is only theorized and more work will be needed to establish it conclusively.

Still, with up to 50% of American kids exposed to second-hand smoke either in the home or out in the world, it makes less sense than ever for smokers to keep lighting up. "In homes where there is active smoking, parents and caretakers should be made aware of risks to hearing in their children," wrote the researchers. Adults unwilling to safeguard their own health might at least take steps to look after that of their kids.

The study was published in the medical journal, Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.