Persons suffering from depression may find that exercise helps, according to a review of studies published in the journal, The Physician and Sportsmedicine.1 A number of studies have correlated improved moods with exercise and one study found that running improved mental health scores as much as psychotherapy.There are a few mental health experts who are skeptical however; one says that the improvements may only be due to -- get this -- psychological factors.
Alcohol Craving Hamsters
A Chinese herb called Kudzo vine contains a component that seems to reduce alcohol cravings in hamsters. Researchers at Harvard Medical School summarized their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.2 Hamsters seem to have a natural liking of a little alcohol in their drinking water, but an extract from the herb seemed to curb that appetite. Researchers expect human trials to begin within a year.
The Tea Council of the USA issued a nationwide "tea preparation advisory" this past September. Officials in Ohio and Kentucky have discovered fecal coliform bacteria in samples of iced tea from various restaurants.3 The Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating the problem. Concentrations from 400 to nearly 100,000 times the legal limit have been measured. It is thought that contaminated tea leaves are being shipped from the growers. Both commercial and retail packages of tea have been affected. The council recommends that you use high temperatures (such as boiling water) when brewing tea.
Deformed Frogs Springing Up
Frogs are said to be very sensitive to environmental changes, so there is some concern now in Minnesota where "extremely large numbers"4 of deformed frogs are being found. Scientists are trying to figure out why so many northern leopard frogs are turning up with deformed, missing, or extra limbs. Some have only one eye. So far, no reason is apparent, though it is still early in the investigation.
Arterial Plaque Attack
Researchers using positron emission tomography have found a significant improvement in patients who made certain lifestyle changes, compared to a control group. Nearly all patients who ate a vegetarian diet, did not smoke, exercised, and practiced stress management were able to stop or reverse arterial plaque build-up over a five year period.5 The vegetarian diet was 15 percent protein and 75 percent complex carbohydrates.
According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control, even thorough cooking will not prevent the gastrointestinal distress related to consumption of virus-laden oysters. The study followed 131 attendees of 38 New Year's celebrations who suffered the nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and vomiting associated with the virus. It is thought that human waste (containing the virus) was dumped by recreational boaters and fishermen near large harvest sites on Florida's Gulf Coast, contaminating the oysters.6
Labor Drug Called into Question
Mothers in labor are often given oxytocin by medical staff under the assumption that it will help push the baby out and prevent the need for a Cesarean section. However, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine7 finds that this component of "active management of labor" does not improve the Cesarean rate. Nearly 2,000 women participated in the study.
Cataracts Tied to Weight
Overweight men are nearly twice as likely to develop cataracts, according to a recent study of over 17,000 subjects.8 The research is consistent with previous studies done on mice that show similar results. Over 12.9 million Americans have cataracts.
Does Ancient Herbal Treatment Ease Menopause Symptoms?
Researchers at the Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City will be conducting a double-blind study of the effects of a Chinese herb preparation on menopausal symptoms. Investigators will be evaluating the effect of a 12-herb combination, including ginseng root and Don quai, on the frequency and severity of hot flashes.9 The formula is based on a preparation dating back to 1253 A.D.
Indiscriminant Prescribing of Antibiotics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines in September asking doctors to stop prescribing antibiotics to people who don't need them. The antibiotic vancomycin, medicine's last remaining treatment for certain enterococci bacterial infections, is the primary concern at the moment. Indiscriminate use, say experts, will result in the drug being useless in the very near future.10 The CDC guidelines specifically warn doctors against prescribing antibiotics for viral diseases. Most of the recommendations are aimed at hospitals since most "superbug infections" originate there.
Don't Sleep with Contact Lenses in
When disposable contact lenses were introduced, people thought that they would be much safer and easier on the eye surfaces than reusable lenses (because of less handling). However, when disposable extended-wear lenses are worn overnight, there's a dramatic increase in the risk of eye infection compared to reusable lenses that are removed before sleeping, according to a professor of opthamology in Dallas.11 The biggest problem is that nearly all types of soft contact lenses reduce oxygenation of the cornea, making it much more vulnerable to infection.
Chronic Fatigue & Blood Pressure
Another study is relating chronic fatigue syndrome to a lack of blood pressure. This one was done by researchers at Johns Hopkins University on 26 patients. A combination of drug and salt therapy raised the blood pressure and improved energy levels in 76 percent of the patients. Many of these patients had previously been restricting their salt intake in an effort to become "healthier."12
Side Effects of Birth Control Hormone
Norplant, a device that releases contraceptive hormones steadily over a five year period, was introduced just a few years ago as a safe, effective, no-bother birth control option. Now about five percent of all women who tried it have retained lawyers for legal suits over its side effects. The implant is accused of causing severe headaches; shortness of breath; anxiety attacks; irregular heart beats; weight gain; persistent menstrual bleeding; ovarian cysts; depression; hair loss; strokes and heart attacks.13
Cell Phone Radiation?
The European Commission announced on October 3, 1995, that it has commissioned a panel of scientists to put together a research plan to study the effects of radiation from cellular phones on humans.14 You have probably heard allegations that certain phones lead to cancerous growths in the head, due to the proximity of their antennae. A number of studies have already suggested little or no effect at power levels used by c-phones, but most of those were done at the higher electromagnetic frequencies used more often in microwave ovens.15 The Commission is hoping to begin studies by mid-1996.
- The Physician and Sportsmedicine, August 1995.
- PNAS, September 12, 1995.
- United Press, September 11, 1995.
- According to Geneticist Bob McKinnell, of the University of Minnesota; quoted in a United Press story, September 18, 1995.
- JAMA, September 20, 1995.
- Reported at the 35th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Francisco.
- NEJM, September 21, 1995.
- Archives of Opthamology, September 1995.
- The study was announced at the San Francisco meeting of the North American Menopause Society in September.
- Associated Press, September 28, 1995.
- Dr. H. Dwight Cavanagh, speaking at a Research to Prevent Blindness seminar in October.
- JAMA, September 27, 1995.
- Associated Press, October 1, 1995 "The Norplant Controversy."
- Reuter, October 3, 1995.
- Associated Press, October 2, 1995.
Brian Sutton, DC
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