A long-term study by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers is reinforcing the idea that taking care of yourself throughout life will extend your life and decrease disability in later years.Following more than 1,700 adults who graduated from college in 1939 and 1940, investigators defined two groups: one group was nonsmokers, exercised regularly, and were not overweight; the other group did not meet all of those standards.
The preliminary results of this ongoing study finds that members of the unhealthy group suffered disabilities an average of five years sooner. Among those that have died, members of the healthy group spent less time being disabled before their death, even though they lived longer. The researchers predict that the healthy-lifestyle group will live about 10 years longer, on average.1
1. New England Journal of Medicine, April 9, 1998.
A study at Ohio State University at Newark reports that gossip can tarnish the image of not only the person being discussed, but also the one doing the talking. Researchers evaluated the impression made by persons talking about a third party to a new acquaintance. Most of the time, the listener subconsciously transferred the same qualities being discussed to the speaker. It seems to work for both positive and negative qualities. For example, if you describe someone as having good athletic abilities, you will be perceived as athletic. If you say they're dishonest, the listener will tend to not trust you, either.2
2. John Skowronski, associate professor of psychology, as reported by United Press, March 19, 1998.
Vitamin E for the Prostate
A paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute3 reports that vitamin E supplementation may be a strong inhibitor of prostatic carcinoma. In this 5-8 year study of 29,000 smokers, there was a 33 percent lower incidence of the disease among those taking supplements, (compared to those not increasing their intake). Deaths decreased by 41 percent. The vitamin E dosage was approximately 50 IU per day.
3. JNCI, March 17, 1998.
Hospital Staff Has Poor Sanitary Habits
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, investigating an outbreak of yeast infections that sickened babies in a Lebanon, New Hampshire hospital, traced the problem to poor sanitation. The yeast, malassezia pachydermatis, is apparently carried by doctors' and nurses' dogs. The pet owners played with their pets, then went to work with premature babies without washing their hands thoroughly, according to the CDC's report.
The infection can cause fever, irritability, and death. Investigators who observed the medical staff found that they would only wash up between patients one third of the time, though when surveyed most claimed 100 percent compliance in this area.4
4. Associated Press, March 12, 1998.
Low Cholesterol May Trigger Reckless Behavior
A new analysis of more than 30 peer-reviewed medical reports confirms that low blood cholesterol levels can lead to a violent death. Men with levels below 160 milligrams per deciliter died from homicide, suicide, or accidents up to 80 percent more often than those with high cholesterol levels. Monkeys show aggressive behavior when their cholesterol levels are lowered, according to the same researchers. Analysts suggest that when cholesterol is lowered artificially (for example, by cholesterol-lowering drugs), serotonin levels in the brain go down, which in turn leads to reckless behavior.5
5. American College of Physicians' Annals of Internal Medicine, March 15, 1998.
Low-Salt Intake Harmful
A study published in The Lancet6 strongly suggests the a restricted salt diet can be harmful. Researchers analyzed data from 11,000 participants in a research program that began in 1971. They discovered an inverse relationship between salt intake and mortality; in other words, those patients that consumed less salt died sooner. More research is likely.
6. The Lancet, March 14, 1998.
Schnapps Are Good for You
Sweden's medical research board reports that they have evidence that a few ounces of Schnapps each day offers cardiovascular benefits in the middle-aged and elderly persons that rival, and may even exceed, those attributed to red wine. Coronary artery disease and thrombosis occur less frequently than in abstainers, though the mechanism still eludes researchers. Men over 40 and women in above 50 seem to benefit the most.7
7. Reuter, March 12, 1998, reporting on a public health seminar in Stockholm.
Theft Sensors May Affect Pacemakers
A study from the research center at the Heart Institute of St. Petersburg, Florida, warns that pacemaker patients should not linger in the doorway of stores that use certain theft control systems. Researchers tested systems that set off an alarm if the customer walks through the sensor with a tagged piece of merchandise. The most popular device, called an acustomagnetic detection system, can potentially cause problems. Effects were not generally seen if the patient walked through the device without stopping; but when lingering for two minutes, 96 percent of the patients experienced effects such as dizziness, fainting, or rapid heartbeat. In 24 percent of the patients, the pacemaker was shut off.
A variety of pacemakers were included in the study. The acustomagnetic system is different from others on the market in that it uses pulsed, low frequency signals that can induce a relatively powerful magnetic field. Higher frequency devices tested did not seem to interfere with the pacemakers in this study.8
8. Associated Press, reporting on work presented by Dr. Michael E. McIvor, March 11, 1998, at a retail security seminar in London.
Hospital Infections Rising
CDC researchers report that while hospital stays are growing shorter, the relative incidence of hospital acquired infections is increasing. In the past 20 years, patients have picked up 36 percent more disease while in the hospital. About two million people suffer nosocomial (hospital-induced) infections each year in the United States; about 90,000 die as a result. Researchers blame the problem on increase use of invasive procedures and indiscriminate antibiotic therapy.9
9. Reuter, in an interview with Dr. William Jarvis of the CDC, March 11, 1998.
More Calcium Channel Blocker Effects
Another study is warning about the hazards of calcium channel blockers used in the medical treatment of high blood pressure. Swedish doctors found a five-fold increase in the incidence of suicide among patients who used these drugs, compared to those undergoing a different course of therapy for their hypertension. The suicides are thought to result from depression induced by the CCBs.10
10. British Medical Journal, March 7, 1998.
Autism and MMR
A paper published in The Lancet11 describes a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism. Doctors at the Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine in London noticed that certain children who suddenly began losing certain skills, such as the use of language, were also suffering from intestinal disorders -- and that both symptoms began soon after MMR shots. The researchers stress that their findings are not yet definitive and research is continuing.
11. The Lancet, February 28, 1998.
In response to recent reports to the FDA, the manufacturer of an acne treatment drug (Accutane) is issuing additional warnings about its side effects. Accutane was already associated with bouts of depression and suicidal tendencies. However, recent incidents are prompting these warning to be strengthened. The drug maker is not saying how many reports have been received.12
12. Reuter, February 25, 1998.
Brian Sutton, DC
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Click here for previous articles by Brian Sutton, DC.