March 2010

EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT JUST FOR THE YOUNG

When we think of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, we usually assume it only happens in young people and especially young women. However, a recent study done at the Eating Disorder Center of Denver has found that it is not just an issue with younger people. They have found that women in midlife from 30 to 65 are also having problems with eating disorders. The majority of these women suffered from eating disorders when they were younger and life events threw them back into old behaviors. Many of these women had similar psychological profiles to younger patients including low self-esteem and a poor body image.

Anorexia and bulimia can lead to serious health problems including heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms and even rupture of the esophagus. It is really important that if you suspect that a friend or loved one is suffering from either of these diseases, that they get help as soon as possible. It is never too early to get help to prevent potentially deadly consequences. This is one of those throw backs to youth that we would like to avoid!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE TALLER?

I am only 5’2” and always looking for ways to improve my height. A recent study done in Philadelphia has found a potential way to do that. They studied 24 women over 65 years of age and enrolled them in a nine-week yoga program. They did an hour and a half of yoga twice a week. After the women completed the program, they were more stable on their feet, walked faster, felt more confident and…..they gained an average of a centimeter of height!

I have taken many yoga classes and have to admit, there are other forms of exercise I prefer. However, if yoga can improve my health and become taller at the same time, I might reconsider!

PREVENT PROSTATE CANCER

There are approximately 220,000 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed each year. Men have a 1 in 6 chance of developing prostate cancer over a lifetime. When the cancer is localized to the prostate the five-year survival rate is 100%. Fortunately, due to early detection and new treatments the death rate is 1 in 35 and is going down. There are some things that men can do to decrease their chance of getting prostate cancer or decreasing the spread if they have it. The place to start is by eating cancer-fighting foods.
These include:

• Beans
• Berries
• Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale
• Dark green leafy vegetables
• Ground flaxseed
• Garlic
• Grapes
• Soy
• Tomatoes
• Whole Grains and…

Green Tea

Green tea is packed with polyphenols. The one most commonly studied is Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. The catechins found in green tea such as EGCG have been found to stimulate the death of cancerous cells, act as an anti-inflammatory agent, and prevent the genetic expression of some of the more aggressive prostate cancers.

There have not been a lot of studies looking at the prevention of prostate cancer using green tea. However, there was a trial of 60 volunteers with a precancerous condition for prostate cancer. They were given 200 mgs of green tea extract capsules (the mgs refers to the polyphenols that were contained in the whole plant) three times a day. After one year only 3% of the treated group vs. 30% in the control group developed prostate cancer.

Three cups of green tea provides between 240 and 320 mgs of polyphenols and as much caffeine as one cup of coffee. It can be taken in tea or in supplements. If you want to use the extracts make sure they are standardized to contain at least 25% polyphenols and you take 600 mgs a day in divided doses. It can affect the liver over time, so it is important to let your doctor know what you are doing and have your liver enzymes checked periodically.

Eating healthy foods and drinking green tea are just couple of ways to keep your prostate healthy. So, eat your fruits and veggies and when it comes to green tea…drink up!

WANT TO LIVE TO BE 100? BEHAVE!

It is no surprise that as our generation is reaching retirement more studies are being done to see what improves longevity and function as we head toward landmark ages such as 100.

It also should be no surprise that there are a few behaviors that really make a difference. The biggest is not smoking. In a recent study of 2300 men reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, smoking doubled the risk of dying between the ages of 72 and 90. Those who had diabetes had an 86% chance of dying before the age of 90; obesity increased the risk by 44% and high blood pressure by 28%.

So, you might be thinking, who cares, I don’t want to get to 90 and be disabled anyway. However, many of the people who lived to 90 and beyond had minimal disability and were living independently. What was their secret? They lived well. They did not smoke, ate fruits and vegetables, exercised and remained active (mentally as well as physically).

Even if you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, you can live to be100 if you are able to treat your disease aggressively. Studies have confirmed that if you can find a doctor who becomes your partner and treats your overall health it can happen and you can maintain your quality of life.

What is the take home lesson in all of this? Live well and take care of yourself, find a good doctor and find ways to incorporate healthy activities (like exercise) into your every day life. Simple? Maybe not, but essential!

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS ANTI-AGING?

There is a relatively new field in medicine known as Anti-aging. It is not recognized by mainstream organizations such as the AMA. However, patients (especially baby boomers) are flocking to it. The goal of anti-aging doctors is to help their patients feel and look younger. The treatments involve hormones and supplements.

The conventional side of medicine claims that this is just a way for doctors to make money. The anti-aging group claims they are in it to help their patients feel good.
What is a patient to think?

As a baby boomer myself, I noticed that when I started going through menopause, I needed help with my hormones. I continue to use them. I feel better when I can sleep, don’t have hot flashes in the middle of a conversation and have fewer body and joint aches. For me some simple hormone adjustments have made a big difference. Vitamin D has also made a huge difference. I was at the rickets level of vitamin D until I started supplementing with it. I noticed that my energy level, muscle strength and balance have improved 100%.

I am not trying to reverse aging, we all know that it is impossible. No matter what we do, time marches on. However, I think that aging as healthfully as we can is a reasonable goal. How one does that is very individual. Some women choose hormones others do not.

I think that for me as a physician (and a patient) that the middle ground works best. I aim to help my patients become as healthy as possible with diet, exercise, and supplements, for which there is evidence to show they help such as omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and B vitamins as well as foods such as ground flax seed. I also utilize mainstream approaches. So ultimately, I do not think there is a way to stop the clock or turn it back, but there is a way to help it to run more smoothly.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG-TIME TO DIET?

When many of us think about bathing suit weather we look at ourselves in the mirror, cringe and decide once again to lose weight. Most of us turn to “diets” for help. Of course, I believe that the one thing that really works over the long haul is a lifestyle change, however, diets can be a guide to what lifestyle changes work. There are the low carb diets, the no carb diets, the raw food diets, Weight Watchers….there are a zillion choices out there. I am going to pick a diet a week and describe them. Let’s start this week with the Good Carb/Bad Carb diet.

Many diets (such as Atkins and the early phase of the South Beach diet) restrict carbohydrates. This diet focuses mainly on not restricting carbohydrates, but rather on eating carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index (those that release sugar slowly into your system). Sugars that are from processed foods (candy, chips, cheese doodles) have a high glycemic index. They release sugar very quickly (these are a no-no). Whole grains, brown rice and beans are considered good carbs and release sugar slowly (these are a yes-yes).

This diet also focuses on the need to eat small meals throughout the day and on eating lean protein. It is basically focusing on a healthy diet. There is a book devoted to the topic: http://www.amazon.com/Good-Carbs-Bad-Indispensable-Optimum/dp/1569245371

DRUGS IN THE WATER?

Pharmaceutical drugs are everywhere. They are on the shelves of pharmacies, the radio, television commercials and now…….the water?! According to researchers many drugs can be found all around the world in very small amounts in drinking water, river ways, and lakes. Antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, pain medications, sex hormones, and all kinds of drugs can be found depending on the city.

The main source is treated wastewater. It is very hard to get drugs out of the water supply. In addition to human waste, animal waste is a problem as well. Cattle are treated with a variety of medications as well as poultry and pets. A process called reverse osmosis can remove them but it is very expensive, causes pollution in and of itself and so it is not used for water treatment.

Hopefully, in the very near future, we will have a filtration process that will help to get these drugs out of our water. In the meantime, maybe we could all find ways to become healthy enough through diet and exercise so that we don’t have to take as many of these drugs!

COLONOSCOPY:THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW

It’s amazing how just one word can strike fear into the hearts of most Baby Boomers: colonoscopy. We shudder at the thought of a doctor sticking a long tube up our rear ends. But before you run for the hills, consider these five important reasons you need to call and make an appointment:

1. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the U.S.
2. Nine out of ten people with colon cancer are 50 years or older.
3. Colonoscopy is the “gold standard” procedure for colon cancer screening and prevention.
4. Most cancers start out as small polyps. Colonoscopies are one of the only ways a doctor can find the polyps and remove them before they become cancerous and spread.
5. Colonoscopies have become a lot more civilized.

What’s a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopies are performed using a five-foot long tube with a mini-flashlight and camera on the end. The doctor will take the tube and insert it into your rectum, and then up and around to view your entire colon. Don’t worry, you’ll be given a sedative so you’ll sleep through the procedure (you won’t feel a thing) and wake up feeling fine. (Seriously, you shouldn’t have any pain in the “region” even after the procedure.) The colonoscopy can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes.

Have the test at age 50, or sooner, depending on your family’s health history. If an immediate relative had colon cancer, take your test ten years prior to when that family member got their cancer. (For example, If your dad had it at 50, you would want your colonoscopy at 40.) And as long as your results are clear, you won’t need to repeat the test for ten years.
The One Tip You Need

You need a squeaky clean colon if the doctors are going to spot the polyps. In the past, patients had to drink a gallon of Fleets phospho-soda (or something called Golytely) to get “cleaned out”. The stuff tastes bad and the sheer quantity you have to drink is pretty disgusting. Now the civilized part: You can now take some Visicol, a pill—actually 40 pills over four hours. (Believe us, this is a better option than the jug of the other stuff that some people say tastes like “fish juice”.) You can also take Miralax, a powder that dissolves in liquid, and has very little taste. If your doctor doesn’t prescribe either of these options, be assertive about asking for them.

To Ensure a Successful Colonoscopy:

1. Follow your doctor’s pre-procedure instructions.
2. Use wet wipes, instead of toilet paper, during the “colon
cleaning” or you can get very sore.
3. Make sure you have someone to drop you off and pick you up.
4. Have a follow-up appointment to discuss the results—you may not want to rely on your memory after the procedure.

Don’t be afraid. Get your colonoscopy! Think of it as just another rite of passage. It can save your life.

 

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