"DC" On Line
By Brian Sutton, DCPhenobarbital Lowers I.Q.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association1 reveals that males who were exposed to phenobarbital while still in their mothers' wombs show a seven percent decrease in intelligence as adults.Other prenatal factors decreasing I.Q. turn out to be maternal poverty and unwanted pregnancy, combining with the drug treatment to lower I.Q. by an average of 20 percent. It is estimated that there are 23 million Americans who were exposed to the drug in utero.
1. JAMA, November 15, 1995.
Support Socks Work
A Saginaw, Michigan study2 finds that over-the-counter support socks produce a significant increase in venous blood flow in the lower limbs. In addition, patient compliance approaches 100 percent, unlike prescription socks which are uncomfortable to many patients. The socks are recommended for patients at risk for deep vein thrombosis and venous insufficiency. The study used ultrasound to gauge blood flow.
2. Presented to the centennial meeting of the American Osteopathic Association in Orlando, Florida.
A Columbus, Ohio company is developing a candy bar that will be promoted as having cholesterol-lowering capabilities. Initial tests of the bar lowered volunteers' levels 33 points from an initial average of 263. The product appears to lower the low- density lipoprotein (LDL) component of blood cholesterol, leaving the levels of "good" HDL cholesterol alone. It is made from guar gum, soy protein, and rice bran oil. There will be two flavors, chocolate and raspberry, but it is said that the taste "still needs some work."3
3. Associated Press, November 13, 1995.
Time to Close Medical Schools
A study by the private Pew Health Professionals Commission4 is recommending the wholesale closure of about 25 or more of the 125 medical schools in America to prevent an impending doctor glut. There are currently about 620,000 practicing medical physicians. The commission foresees an excess of 100,000 or more within about 10 years as demand for specialists decreases. Also, pharmacy automation and centralization are expected to displace a large number of pharmacists. 200,000 to 300,000 nurses are expected to be turned out of work by hospital closings.5
4. The commission is administered by the Center for the Health Professions at the University of California, San Francisco.
FDA Panel Approves Obesity Drug
In a narrow 6-5 vote, an FDA advisory panel has decided to support the anti-obesity drug dexfenfluramine for use in the United States. The drug has been available in some other countries for a few years, but there is some concern about side effects such as hypertension. It acts by changing serotonin levels to promote a higher feeling of fullness after eating. Opponents are worried about the likely unrestrained usage in the U.S., unlike France where doctors are limited to a one-year course of therapy. Said one member, "Of concern to me is that we have very little information about the long-term effects of this drug."6 But, according to another who voted for approval, "The only thing I care about is that it helps people lose weight."7
6. Associated Press, November 16, 1995, "Panel Recommends Obesity Drug."
Mental Stress Slows Healing
Researchers at the Ohio State University School of Medicine (Columbus) have found a marked difference, attributable to stress, in the healing of puncture wounds in female volunteers. Women who were caring for relatives suffering from dementia took 25 percent more time to heal superficial wounds than those free from such responsibilities. Blood tests verified differences in interleukin-1B levels, an immune component known to be affected by stress. The same group8 has also found that similar stresses reduce the production of antibodies after influenza vaccination.
8. Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, et al.
SIDS Study Says Sharing Beds Okay
A study published in the British Medical Journal9 finds no correlation between infants who sleep with their parents and sudden infant death syndrome. In fact, the researchers suggest the practice may be beneficial because it prevents susceptible infants from falling into a too-deep, undisturbed sleep, since the sleep patterns of the infant and adult seem to synchronize.
9. BMJ, November 11, 1995.
Now it's official: a positive attitude can make you healthier. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology10 suggests that high blood pressure and maybe even potential heart attacks may respond to good vibes. It's not just that naturally positive people are healthier. This work examined people who had to force the good feelings. It studied the electrical communication in the autonomic nervous system between the heart and the brain during episodes of perceived mental stress. Volunteers used a technique called "freeze-frame" to divert their attention from the stressor to something more upbeat until the crisis was past.
10. American Journal of Cardiology, November 15, 1995.
Peter Duesberg was one of the world's most respected authorities on retroviruses. He had garnered many major grants for his work and enjoyed an elite status among world scientists, that is until he announced his belief that the human immunodeficiency virus does not cause AIDS. Now he is basically an outcast, along with a number of similarly minded scientists who feel that the HIV connection is not an open-and-shut case. In an attempt to get his ideas out to the public, he has authored a new book, Inventing the AIDS Virus,11 available in February. Other skeptics include Dr. Robert Willner, a medical doctor who has injected himself with blood from an HIV-positive patient to back up his assertion that the HIV theory is more a product of greed and irresponsibility than scientific insight.12
11. Inventing the AIDS Virus, by Peter Duesberg and Bryan J. Ellison, Regnery Publishing, Inc.
Cancer Herbs Tested
Researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston have found a compound in certain Taiwanese herbs that might make them useful in treating breast cancer. Scute herba, lithospermum, and oldenlandia contain an ingredient that binds to estrogen receptors. The research is in the early stages, but investigators think the herbs may prove to be effective but much gentler than standard chemotherapy treatment.
Brian Sutton, DC
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