Wednesday, November 09, 2005 

Lose Weight, Avoid Cancer

Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, end stage renal disease, gout, birth defects, infertility, infections... etc. etc. etc... According to the American Obesity Association (AOA), these conditions have a higher chance of occuring in obese individuals.

From 1971-2000, the prevalence of obese individuals in the United States in both men and women aged 20 - 74 have doubled. It has become such a critical health condition that Medicare redefined obesity as an Illness in 2004 allowing Americans to make medical claims for weight-related treatment.

That's not the end of the bad news - a review of published studies and reports showed that about 10% of ALL cancers could be avoided (more than 100,000 cases a year) if overweight and obesity did not exist.
By applying the current US levels of overweight and obesity, Colditz from the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that 14 percent of colon cancers -- over 14,000 cases -- would be avoided if no one was overweight or obese.

Likewise, if no one was overweight or obese, "we would avoid 11 percent of breast cancer -- over 18,000 cases; 49 percent of endometrial cancer, almost 20,000 cases; 31 percent of kidney cancer, over 11,000 cases; 39 percent of esophageal cancer, 5,500 cases; 14 percent of pancreas cancers, 4,500 cases; 20 percent of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases, over 11,000 cases; and for multiple myeloma 17 percent of cases," Colditz told reporters.

Given the increasing prevalence of obesity in the US, these estimates are conservative, he said.

"We can clearly conclude that adult overweight and obesity cause cancer," Dr. Colditz said, "and increasing rates of obesity in the US are continuing to drive up the burden of these cancers." [Reuters, Nov. 2005]

Again, let me quote from Ellen G. White:
"Many are so devoted to intemperance that they will not change their course of indulging in gluttony under any considerations. They would sooner sacrifice health, and die prematurely, than to restrain their intemperate appetite. And there are many who are ignorant of the relation their eating and drinking has to health. Could such be enlightened, they might have moral courage to deny the appetite, and eat more sparingly, and of that food alone which was healthful, and by their own course of action save themselves a great amount of suffering." [Counsels on Diet & Foods p158]
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005 

Eat Your Vegetables

100 years ago, Ellen White wrote this paragraph in her book:

Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigour of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet. [Ellen White, Ministry of Healing p296 (1905)]

My mother told me a similar version, in simpler terms every meal time - "Eat your vegetables." Maybe they both had insight into the beneficial effects of vegetables. Well, science appears to be taking their side.

Broccoli sprouts, cabbage, ginkgo biloba and garlic appear to have a role in preventing a variety of cancers, researchers report.

  • In the first study, Akinori Yanaka and colleagues from the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that in 20 people, a diet rich in broccoli sprouts significantly reduced Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. H. pylori, a bacterium, is a cause of gastritis -- inflammation of the stomach lining -- and is a major factor in peptic ulcer and stomach cancer

  • Another study with broccoli sprouts found that when an extract from the sprouts was applied to the skin of hairless mice, it counteracted carcinogenic responses to ultraviolet light exposure, a cause of skin cancer

  • Data collected from the U.S. component of the Polish Women's Health Study showed an association between eating cabbage and sauerkraut and a lower risk of breast cancer. The effect seemed to be highest among women who eat high amounts starting in adolescence and continue to do so throughout adulthood. The most protective effect appeared to come from raw or briefly cooked cabbage

  • In the fourth study, researchers from Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston found that ginkgo biloba appears to lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer

  • In the final study, researchers found that garlic may help ward off carcinogens produced by meat cooked at high temperatures. Cooking meats and eggs at high temperatures releases a chemical called PhIP, which may be a carcinogen.
    "Generous consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced cancer risk"

"An extensive body of epidemiologic evidence suggests consistently, if not decisively, that generous consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced cancer risk," said Dr. David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health and director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. [A Shopping Cart of Cancer Fighters, Yahoo! News Oct. 31, 2005]

So now when kids refuse to eat their vegetables, all their moms have to do is to start up their web browsers and show today's Net savy kids the benefits of following their advice… Now, if only something could be done about the taste of vegetables...

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Saturday, October 29, 2005 

Stroke and the Air We Breathe

"The stomach, liver, lungs and brain are suffering for want of deep,
full inspirations of air
which would electrify the blood and impart to it a bright,
lively color, and which alone can keep it pure, and give tone and vigor
to every part of the living machinery." [Ellen G. White, Testimonies Vol. 2]

Most of us have a relative or know someone who has suffered from a stroke. A stroke usually occurs when there is sudden loss of blood supply to a part of the brain (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). It can cause problems with thinking, judgment, memory; complete paralysis on one side of the body; and even death.

There are many risk factors for stroke. A few of them are:

High blood pressure
Cigarette smoking
High cholesterol and triglycerides

A study by Dr. Gregory A. Wellenius, et. al. may add another factor to the list - Air Pollution.

"...the team found that an increase in particulate air pollution from the lowest to the highest levels raised ischemic stroke admissions by 1.03 percent on the same day. Further analysis yielded similar results for levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.

By contrast, the investigators found no association between air pollution and hospital admission for hemorrhagic stroke.

Wellenius cited three possible mechanisms, which alone or in combination might explain how air pollution promotes stroke. "One possibility is through inflammatory effects. The other is through pulmonary reflexes that trigger changes in blood pressure or heart rate." A third possibility is changes in clotting factors that tend to promote more blood clots.

"Taken together with previous reports, the results suggest that reducing exposure to air pollution is likely to reduce the risk of a number of health problems, including heart disease and stroke," Wellenius concluded. [Yahoo! Health News Oct. 28, 2005]

Unfortunately, Metro Manila is one of the cities with increased levels of air pollution. In its 2000 Annual Review, the World Bank reported that more than 4000 Filipinos died of air pollution in Manila alone. In addition 90,000 suffer from severe chronic bronchitis. [Earthvision News]

Many laws passed by the government in an effort to curb air pollution, but it seems to be getting worse. Although air pollution may be considered an avoidable risk factor of stroke, if the Filipinos don't band together and do something about it, the only way to avoid this risk factor may be to leave the country (which doesn't sound so bad right now *sic*).

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Thursday, October 27, 2005 

Sympathy & Compassion in Medicine

"...Sympathy and tact will often prove a greater benefit to the sick
than will the most skillful treatment given in a cold, indifferent way"

It's easy to forget how to sympathize, empathize, or be compassionate when you are in the medical field. As a doctor, I see pain, suffering, & dying all the time. Technology, by lessening the interaction between the doctor and his patient adds to the loss of sympathy. I have seen some doctors berate patients who were already in pain. Some even blamed the patients for their illness - which even if true plays no role in the treatment of the patients.

In 2001, a systematic review was conducted to determine if doctor-patient relationships have a therapeutic effect, independent of any drug treatment.

There is much inconsistency regarding emotional and cognitive care, although one relatively consistent finding is that physicians who adopt a warm, friendly, and reassuring manner are more effective than those who keep consultations formal and do not offer reassurance. [Influence of context effects on health outcomes: a systematic review]

An 2003 Editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia, "Can compassion survive the 21st century?" asked the question: "Is compassion in its death throes two millennia after one man in Jerusalem advocated loving others as oneself, and another in Mecca described “a person’s true wealth [as] the good he or she does in the world”?" and noted that the answer is happily, "No", since there are many doctors still motivated by compassion.

I have been exposed to both government and private hospitals here in the Philippines and I have observed that genuine compassion is more often practiced by those working in government hospitals where most of the patients are poor and cannot afford proper health care. Unfortunately, it is also where I observed poor treatment of patients. Apparently, poor working conditions bring out the best and worst in doctors.

In Medical school, the bioethics class constantly reminded me to remember that the patient is a human being, not just a bed number or a case study. It's not an easy thing to remember when you have only 1 hour to finish your morning rounds of 20+ patients.

"...role models are integral to medical training, and medical students and young doctors value attributes such as compassion in their role models, as eminent neurologist Lance attests. Yet good role models are not plentiful in our hospitals… Medical schools must be responsive to, and proactive about, societal needs. Our initial and ongoing education should also seek to actively instil a recognition of the social determinants of health, and the place of humane values and ethics." [Can compassion survive the 21st century?]

A medical student has this to say in his post:

I firmly believe that all doctors-to-be go into medical school with a big heart and that “I want to help people” mentality, but then reality shoves her acne-riddled, bloated face in their way and they slowly shift from spending as much time as they can knowing their patients to making sure they have acquired the maximum amount of information in the smallest amount of time that will appease their superiors. Why? Because there are 60 patients in the waiting room demanding to be seen right now, and one of them may or may not be packing a rifle. Of course, every patient thinks he or she is the most important patient there, and who is anyone to say they are wrong…I guess what I’m trying to say is, I have yet to see a doctor not busting his or her ass day in and day out, but given the medical establishment as it currently stands, it is really difficult to make it through the day without detaching yourself from the patients and still having enough left over to come home and be at least moderately functional. [Ask The Fake Doctor 3 - Ah Yes, Medical School]
I understand his sentiments. They say that "knowing is half the battle." So I'm left with the other half - showing compassion to my patients

"If you want others to be happy, practise compassion.
If you want to be happy, practise compassion." [The Dalai Lama]

Monday, October 24, 2005 

Mad Cows - Mad Humans?

"Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing. Those who use flesh foods little know what they are eating. Often if they could see the animals when living and know the quality of the meat they eat, they would turn from it with loathing. People are continually eating flesh that is filled with tuberculous and cancerous germs. Tuberculosis, cancer, and other fatal diseases are thus communicated"
[Ministry of Healing, p. 313].

This was written by Ellen G. White more than a century ago. Although still have to find articles about Tuberculosis and cancer being transmitted by eating meat, let's focus on the last part: "... and other fatal diseases are thus being communicated."

In the mid1980s , 180,000 cattle were killed by a disease diagnosed in 1986 as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) [A brief history of Mad Cow Disease]. The cause of BSE is not certain. Early theories proposed that it was caused by feeding meat and bone meal (MBM), which was made from sheep carcasses which suffered from scrapie and incorporated in cattle feed. Later inquiries failed to prove this connection and suggested that BSE probably originated from a novel source early in the 1970s, possibly a cow or other animal that developed disease as a consequence of a gene mutation and recycled itself within other cattle [The BSE Inquiry].

There were suspicions that the disease could be transmitted to humans and as a precaution European authories destroyed 5 million potentially infected cattle.

In 1996, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a rare and fatal human neurodegenerative condition was described. Like the classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), it was characterized by spongy degeneration of the brain. However...

"In contrast to the traditional forms of CJD, vCJD has affected younger patients (average age 29 years, as opposed to 65 years), has a relatively longer duration of illness (median of 14 months as opposed to 4.5 months) and is strongly linked to exposure, probably through food, to a TSE of cattle called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

The most likely route of exposure was through bovine-based food, although infectivity is mainly found in the brain and spinal cord of clinically ill animals over two years of age." [WHO: Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease]

The signs & symptoms of the disease:

"Early in the illness, patients usually experience psychiatric symptoms, which most commonly take the form of depression or, less often, a schizophrenia-like psychosis. Unusual sensory symptoms, such as "stickiness" of the skin, have been experienced by half of the cases early in the illness. Neurological signs, including unsteadiness, difficulty walking and involuntary movements, develop as the illness progresses and, by the time of death, patients become completely immobile and mute." [WHO: Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease]

Although there still is no definite conclusion, many governments are not willing to take the risk. Maybe Ellen White's advice makes sense.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005 

Pancreatic Cancer & Vegetables

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth
and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
[Genesis 1:29]

Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are the basic constituents of food and before our body can use them they have to be digested. Aside from producing insulin, the pancreas plays a major role in digestion. It makes pancreatic juices that contain various enzymes that digest food.

Many diseases, the most popular being diabetes, are associated with the pancreas, and so is pancreatic cancer.

An estimated 31,800 Americans (15,820 men and 15,980 women) will die of pancreatic cancer in 2005, making this type of cancer the fourth leading cause of cancer death overall.

Genetics, pancreatitis, and smoking are among the suspected causes of pancreatic cancer. Because of the largely untreatable nature and poor survival rate of patients with pancreatic cancer -

Only about 23% of patients with cancer of the exocrine pancreas will be alive 1 year after their diagnosis; only about 4% will live 5 years after diagnosis. Even for those people diagnosed with local disease (has not spread to other organs), the 5-year relative survival rate is only 15%. [ACS Statistics on Pancreatic Cancer]

- efforts to find ways to prevent its occurrence are being made. A study made by the University of California, San Francisco showed that vegetables could reduce the risk pancreatic cancer by up to 50%!

Researchers conducted a case-control study that compared the diets of 532 pancreatic cancer patients with that of 1,700 randomly selected cancer-free participants in a control group reflecting a similar age and gender range. After interviewing participants about their diet in the year preceding the interview, researchers found that those who reported eating at least five servings a day of certain vegetables or vegetables and fruit combined had a 50% lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared with those who ate two servings per day or less. (An example of one serving is one half-cup of cooked vegetables or two cups of leafy salad.)

Most beneficial were yellow vegetables - such as carrots, sweet potatoes and corn - as well as beans, garlic, onions and leafy and cruciferous vegetables. Researchers say that preparation might affect the results as well, with raw vegetables providing greater benefit than cooked or fried vegetables. [TIME Daily Rx Sept 16, 2005]

Before you make conclusions, I would like to point you to a post in Parallel Universes by Dr. Emer about studies concerning Diet & Cancer:

Yet despite the often adamant advice, scientists say they really do not know whether dietary changes will make a difference. And there lies a quandary for today's medicine. It is turning out to be much more difficult than anyone expected to discover if diet affects cancer risk. Hypotheses abound, but convincing evidence remains elusive. [Diet & Cancer @ Parallel Universes]

Despite the lack of certainty I believe that there is no harm in increasing one's diet with vegetables. Most of the evidence, although inconclusive, show that the benefits are many.

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Who is Ellen White?

In the first post of this blog, Health: The Adventist Way, I mentioned that future posts would contain articles that agree or disagree with the Health Teachings of the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church. The teachings come from 2 sources: the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White.

Who is Ellen G. White?

Ellen White is the last recognized prophet of God by the SDA Church. She was born November 26, 1827 and had a twin sister, Elizabeth. When she was 9 years old, she was involved in an accident in which a rock hit her face breaking her nose and causing her to fall into a state of semiconsciouness for 3 weeks. Her injuries caused difficulty in her studies and she had to leave school after receiving just less than 3 years of formal schooling.

"It seemed impossible for me to study and to retain what I learned.... My nervous system was prostrated, and my hand trembled so that I made but little progress in writing, and could get no farther than the simple copies in coarse hand [first level in penmanship].... My teachers advised me to leave school.... It was the hardest struggle of my young life to...give up the hope of gaining an education."[LLUMC Legacy: Daring to Care]

Despite her handicap, she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books and 50,000 pages of manuscript. She wrote articles about health & nutrition, education - areas where she had no formal education or schooling. From the age of 17 to her death at the age of 87 she claimed to have received about 2000 visions and dreams from God. [Ellen White: A Brief Biography]

Try searching her name on Yahoo! or Google and you will come up with hundreds if not thousands of links that aim to discredit her teachings - plagiarism, hallucinations because of the head injury as a child, wrong health advice:

The Ellen White Research Project
Ellen G. White's Crack Health Reform

I do not intend to persuade anyone
about anything. In this age of evidence-based learning, I will try to see if modern medicine has completely proved or disproved her teachings.

Then again, nothing is absolute in medicine.

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Laughter for the Heart

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..."
[Proverbs 17:22]

Laugher Is the Best Medicine! Reader's Digest has a section similarly titled - That was the section I always read first whenever I got hold of a copy. Have you noticed how relaxing it feels after you have had a hearty laugh? No matter how bad or ill you feel, laughing somehow makes it less noticeable. Research is revealing, more than just a psychological effect, there may be a beneficial physiologic effect of laughing.

A study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore last November 2000 was the first to indicate that laughter may help prevent heart disease.

The researchers found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

"“We don'’t know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack,"” says Dr. Miller who is also an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

People with heart disease were less likely to recognize humor or use it to get out of uncomfortable situations. They generally laughed less, even in positive situations and they displayed more anger and hostility. [Laughter is the 'Best Medicine' For Your Heart]

Laughing is free, and along with a good sense of humor does not harm anyone. Maybe I should start including, "Laugh for 2 minutes 3x/day" in my prescriptions :)

Humor Yourself [Laughter... Heart]
  1. Figure out what tickles your funny bone
  2. Rent a funny movie
  3. Add comedy to your commute
  4. Start a humor library
  5. Laugh with others
  6. Find humor in seemingly ordinary, everyday things
  7. Learn the basics of humor
  8. Remember a funny moment
  9. Laugh at yourself
  10. Make fun of your fears
  11. Act silly
  12. Learn to play
  13. Visit the zoo and watch the animals
  14. Lighten up!

"The most powerful thing we're given is our ability to laugh, It's our greatest gift, especially if we can laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves so seriously." [Goldblum-Carlton]

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Friday, October 21, 2005 

Health: The Adventist Way

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" [1 Corinthians 6:19]

I was born and raised as a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA). In this religion, health & education is emphasized as much as spiritual concerns to the point that most of the members believe that it is a sin to go against the religion's principles of health.

As a kid, there were so many things - healthwise - that was prohibited. Pork, most of the seafoods, smoking, drinking alcohol… the list was endless. Yes, the dangers of some of these prohibited things are pretty obvious but it was not the ill effects that was used to persuade us (kids) theese things rather it was almost implied that eating or indulging ourselves in these things was the same as murder, adultery - and so was the punishment - HELL!

As I continued my studies, I came across books, articles and studies that showed me other reasons (aside from going to hell) why I should follow the health principles of the SDA Church. It was no longer blind obedience but rather an enlightened/educated one.

I am now a physician. I am not an expert in any field (yet) but I will try to provide scientific proof to prove OR disprove the validity of the health principles of my religion which are based on the Bible and on the teachings of Ellen G. White.

Throughout medical school, I have relied heavily on my textbooks for information and I am new to medical research on the World Wide Web. So please bear with me if at times I present conflicting articles or studies.

There is nothing absolute in Medicine, so I welcome every comment and/or additional information you can provide for any of my posts.

Enjoy reading.

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