From the monthly archives: "August 2010"

The fight over cesareans has gone international…and violent.  Two Italian doctors are being blamed for the botched delivery of a newborn that have led to complications for both the mother and son, after the doctors got into a fistfight in the delivery room.  Medical mistakes UFC-style.

According to reports, the mother Laura Salpietro, 30, had to have her uterus removed and her son, Antonio, suffered heart problems and possible brain damage following his birth last Thursday in a Messina, Sicily public hospital.  The two doctors, one a state hospital employee, the other a private doctor hired by Salpietro as a gynecologist, disagreed on whether the patient should have a C-section.  The disagreement turned to blows.

Sapietro’s husband, Matteo Molonia, said the fight delayed the C-section by over an hour leading to the complications.  This has become a big story in the country, forcing the Italian health minister to traveled to Sicily on Monday to apologize to the woman.

The fiasco is only one of a number of errors plaguing the southern Italian region infamous for its high rate of medical mistakes.  Not lost on me is one significant detail of the Italian health system.  Yep, you guessed it–universal health care.

As a result of the entitlement-based system is an explosion of private doctors available to people that can afford them.  I have predicted the same to happen here in the U.S. if nationalization of our system continues to grow.  People that can afford it will hire private doctors to get around the inadequacies of government-run hospitals.  Just a conclusion of deductive reasoning, that’s all.

What has made this particular situation tragic is that the patient decided to have her birth in a public hospital with a private doctor present.  Duh!  I guess she learned the hard way that doctors can be territorial, literally and figuratively, and if she has followed common practice she would have given birth at a private clinic instead. 

This story also highlights the dramatically high C-section rates in Italy in general, and Sicily specifically.  According to reports, approximately 38% of all births in Italy are done by C-section, more than twice the 15% recommended by the World Health Organization. In Sicily rates reach 52%.  In other parts of Italy, Campania–the southern mainland region that includes Naples– for instance, C-section rates have reached 60%.

I have said in several posts, this is a major issueC-section are way over-prescribed, and experts believe the trend will continue.  Although many reasons for recommending C-section exist, most thinkers agree it is too high.

So keep your wits about you, America.  Don’t ignore the inevitable problems associated with universal health care.  It ain’t the panacea it’s being sold as.  If you can’t see the flip side from our friends in Europe, then you’ve let your blinders fall too far.  My condolences to the Molonia/Salpietra family–I hope it turns out okay.

When it comes to preventing cancer, are nutritional supplements effective?  Some say yes, some say no.  There is, however, a superior way to prevent cancer nutritionally–by eating healthy foodsYou don’t say?  Yes, nothing beats whole natural foods when it comes to dietary health.

Recent studies have shown that neither vitamins C nor E did the trick in preventing cancer or heart disease when taken as supplements.  However, we know how important these vitamins are for proper function.  So what’s the deal?  Well, as I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, there is no substitute for real food.  C’mon folks, we haven’t found the magic pill yet that can replace food in providing either energy or nutrients (necessary as co-factors in metabolic processes).

Saying that, though, I am not yet convinced that nutritional supplements are useless.  In the big Women’s Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study II, which provided the most damning case against supplements, one must admit the doses for vitamin C, at least, were very low (500 mg).  I personally take 2000 mg per day.  I will contend that 500 mg, while not useless, is probably too low to show such dramatic effects as preventing cancer or heart disease.

Remove vitamin C from the diet, though, and watch your health deteriorate.  Hmm, so what then?  Vitamin C is necessary but only valuable when coming from real food?  I don’t think so.  We must remember that supplements are just that–supplementing the diet.  Like exercise alone not guaranteeing good health, when combined with diet, rest, chiropractic care, sufficient water intake, and so on, you better believe it will increase your chances of experiencing optimal health.

So preventing cancer, I am certain, requires more than just supplementing.  True, studying each individual vitamin and minerals’ individual effects on the body is valuable.  But I think before we throw the baby out with the bath water, we might need to design more rigorous studies to learn the whole truth.

I am a firm believer in the healing and preventative power whole natural foods.  But I know that we need vital nutrients.  It can’t be possible that supplementing with compounds containing the same molecules as natural foods is folly.  Unless there are synergistic reactions that occur with other, as of yet, undiscovered agents…well, it just doesn’t make sense.  We know certain things about antioxidants in general, and the vitamins that fill that role specifically, so I’m thinking better studies are needed.

But forget not the principle–without healthy, whole natural foods as a staple in your diet, you won’t be preventing cancer or general malnutrition by simply swallowing a pill.

Huh?  Preschoolers using statistics to learn psychology?  Weren’t we taught that young children are egocentric–they can’t understand the world outside of themselves?  Well a new study sheds light on how children learn preference, and it’s neither consistent with egocentrism nor affective cues (how others respond to preferred items), but instead statistics.  That’s right–the human brain evaluates statistical information to come to conclusions.  Go figure.

The study set out to determine how preschool-aged children “understand the actions of other people in terms of underlying psychological causes, such as desires, preferences, beliefs, emotions, and knowledge states.”  It did so by creating an experiment testing a child’s recognition of nonrandomness, and whether this recognition allowed the child to make conclusions about another person’s preferences.

To do so, researchers recruited 72 preschoolers (average age: 4 years, 1 month) and put them in a room individually with a squirrel puppet named Squirrel.  They then watched Squirrel choose toys out of a box.  The available toys were of two types–foam red circles and blue flowers–in different proportions, randomly selected.  The proportions were either 18%, 50% or 100% target toy (let’s say red circles).  Squirrel then proceeded to pull out five samples of the target toy–still following?–and played with those toys for a short period.  The toys were then put back in the box and the boxes removed.  Out came three dishes with five samples of three types of foam toys–red circles, blue flowers and yellow tubes (as a control)–and the children were told to give Squirrel the toy it preferred.

Aha!  Here’s where it gets interesting: The children gave the squirrel the correct toy–the target–most often when it was the least present, that is, when at an 18% ratio.  When present at 50%, children gave the target correctly only half the time, and at 100%, they correctly gave the target only 25% of the time.  Hmmm…

Statistical analysis of the results showed that when the target toy was in the lowest proportions, the results were significantly greater than a chance occurrence, whereas in the 100% proportion the results were no greater than chance.

This study shows that the developing brain uses statistical information to determine preference.  If Squirrel chooses red circles despite their being less of them in the box than blue flowers, then it must prefer red circles.  Right.  When the proportions were equal however, or when there were only red circles, then the little brains could not infer which toys squirrel actually preferred.  Right again.

Now this may seem obvious to some, and judging by some comments I’ve already read about the study this seems to be the case for a few people.  However, to make this more interesting, the researchers set up a second study where they used affective cues–eyes widening, oohs and aahs, and so forth–when they received the preferred toy (in this study they used adults instead of Squirrel to test if children use visual and audial cues to make preference determination).  And again the results showed that children more correctly chose the preferred toy when it was in lower proportion, despite affective cues.  Genius.

I love this study because it gives some preliminary info on the workings of the young mind and how we come to certain understandings.  Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said of the adult mind.  Reading about this study initially in a TIME online article, I was appalled at the conclusion presented by the author,

“Even preschoolers, in other words, can see that some people might need more help getting what they want when less is available to them.”

This is a gross misrepresentation of the results and the author of the piece clearly did not understand the study.  If you happen to come across this nonsense in any other article, please note that this study showed that children used statistical information to infer preferences in other people only.  It had nothing to do with altruism, although I’m sure some people would love to see it that way to further their own beliefs.  But this study was on learning mechanisms, and at that it was brilliant.  We’ll leave the morality for another study.


Shoulder pain can have many causes and presentations. Although a painful shoulder might seem like a standard situation, it’s important to distinguish what type of problem you might be dealing with. You can therefore do a self-assessment to determine if your shoulder injury is something you can treat yourself at home, or whether you’ll need to visit a sports chiropractor.

Watch the video below to learn how to self-assess your shoulder pain and what steps you can take if you need shoulder treatment to avoid surgery. Although shoulder surgery is sometimes needed, many forms of rehabilitation can prevent shoulder, arm and back pain from leading to the knife. But you’ve got to know how to approach things first. Watch the video below.

If you need a sports chiropractor, come visit my Los Angeles, West Hollywood or Beverly Hills sports chiropractic office.

Just when you thought it was all safe–you threw out the eggs, you tossed the Wal-Mart sandwiches–here goes another Listeria warning: Listeria monocytogenes found in raw milk cheese produced in Missouri and sold in four California counties, including Los Angeles, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The listeriosis causing bacteria was found in two raw milk products labeled, Morningland Dairy Raw Milk Cheese Garlic Colby and Morningland Dairy Raw Milk Cheese Hot Pepper ColbyThe products were shipped from the Missouri plant to locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, Mendocino and Santa Cruz counties.

Listeriosis can be life threatening and is especially risky for pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and immunocompromised people (HIV, cancer).  Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, meningitis can occur.

If you like raw cheese and Morningland is your brand, move it to the same location you did the eggs and sandwiches–in the garbage.

Your doctor’s decision to pull the plug might be connected to his or her religiosity.  Yes, doctor’s belief in God may color their views on ending life.  So says a recent British study that shows nonreligious doctors to be twice as likely as religious ones to make decisions that could end the lives of their terminally ill patients.

The study surveyed more than 3,700 doctors across the UK, of whom 2,923 reported on how they took care of their last terminal patient.  Doctors who described themselves as “extremely” or “very nonreligious” were nearly twice as likely to report having made decisions like providing continuous deep sedation, which could accelerate a patient’s death.  Doctors taking part in the survey ranged from neurologists to family practitioners, with those specializing in elder and palliative care also included.

The author of the study, Dr. Clive Seale, professor at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, concluded that doctors and patients should discuss beliefs in order to best comply with a patient’s end of life wishes.  Whereas “nonreligious doctors should confess their predilections to their patients,” Seale also found that doctors who were religious were much less likely to have talked about end of life treatment decisions with their patients.   

Doh!  Looks like neither side is honoring the patient.  Bad doctors, go to your rooms!  No, seriously–probably a good idea to have this discussion upfront, doctors.  Kind of like, “Were gonna cut your penis off, is that okay with you?”  Duuuh!  You’ve got to ask.

In those rare events when patients are unable to communicate their wishes, doctors must not simply rely on their own values, but that they “should take all reasonable steps to maximize the patient’s ability to participate in the decision-making process.”

So here’s my suggestion: Discuss your end of life wishes with your doctor on your first visit.  If you have a doctor now, discuss it at your next appointment, and have them write it down in your chart.  Even better, get your wishes documented in a will or trust.  Don’t leave it to your physician who probably has his own beliefs.  Finding out your doctor’s belief system while getting your last sedation will probably bum your trip out.  Or if you’d rather a little help…a pious position might just stand in the way of your peaceful passing–probably not the way you want to go.  So do the smart thing now–discuss it with your doctor first chance you get.

If tainted eggs ain’t bad enough, we’ve now got contaminated deli meats to contend with.  According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Zemco Industries of Buffalo, New York, has recalled approximately 380,000 pounds of deli meat that may be contaminated with a potentially life threatening bacteria.

The deli meats, distributed to Wal-Marts nationwide, may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which was discovered in a retail sample collected by inspectors in Georgia. The USDA has received no reports of illnesses associated with the meats.  Wal-Mart notes that the voluntary recall is of meats that are ingredients in their Marketside Grab and Go sandwiches, but not individual packages of deli meat.

Copyright Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc. (www.denniskunkel.com)

Copyright Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc. (www.denniskunkel.com)

Listeria monocytogenes is the causative agent of listeriosis, the leading cause of death among food-borne bacterial pathogens with fatality rates exceeding even Salmonella and Clostridium botulinum.  Listeriosis is rare and most commonly affects immunocompromised people–newborns, the elderly and people with immune deficiency syndromes. Pregnant women are at a higher risk.

Symptoms of listeriosis are fever, muscle aches and vomiting, and less commonly nausea and diarrhea. If the infection spreads to the nervous system it can cause meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, which can lead to headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.  Symptoms usually last 7-10 days.

 

“Listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy,” the USDA said.

The products being recalled are:

  • 25.5-pound cases of “Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches BLACK FOREST HAM With Natural Juices Coated with Caramel Color” with the number 17800 1300
  • 28.49-pound cases of “Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches HOT HAM, HARD SALAMI, PEPPERONI, SANDWICH PEPPERS” with the number 17803 1300
  • 32.67-pound cases of “Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches VIRGINIA BRAND HAM With Natural Juices, MADE IN NEW YORK, FULLY COOKED BACON, SANDWICH PICKLES, SANDWICH PEPPERS” with the number 17804 1300
  • 25.5-pound cases of “Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches ANGUS ROAST BEEF Coated with Caramel Color” with the number 17805 1300.

The meats were produced on dates ranging from June 18 to July 2, 2010. The “Use By” dates range from August 20 to September 10, 2010.

If you shop at Wal-Mart and buy their Grab and Go sandwiches, better grab and throw…that crap away–listeriosis is serious business.


Knee pain happens. Athletes and weekend warriors might find themselves with swollen, painful knees due to sports injury or simple overuse. Knee pain and swelling often needs to be checked by a sports chiropractor, but you can do some things at home that can help the healing process and prevent the painful knee from becoming a chronic injury.

Icing the knee at the painful injury site (see video) for 15 minutes at a time is crucial. Ice will decrease knee swelling and prevent the rapid formation of scar tissue. Ice saves–don’t forget this principle. Wrapping the pained knee in an ACE bandage will provide stability and prevent further knee injury. Then staying off the knee–NO SPORTS!–is essential.

Swelling can signify a torn knee ligament–like the ACL (anteriorcruciate ligament), PCL (posteriorcruciate ligament), MCL (medial cruciate ligament) or LCL (lateral cruciate ligament). Ligament tears can be rehabilitated conservatively, thereby avoiding knee surgery. A torn meniscus can also be conservatively treated. Meniscal tears can go through knee therapy and rehab successfully, but what is necessary is a proper knee diagnosis. If what you have is a simple knee sprain, then ice, therapy and rehab will get you back into your sport quickly.

If you have a painful knee injury get in to see a sports chiropractor right away. If you live or work in my neighborhood, come visit my Los Angeles, West Hollywood or Beverly Hills sports chiropractic office for knee pain relief today.

Hey, try my new workout…designed by Navy SEALs.  Oh, and my new supplements…designed by Navy SEALs.  And I’ve got this great new chiropractic adjustment…yup, you guessed it, designed by Navy SEALs.  In fact, if YOU have anything you’d like to sell, just add the line “designed by Navy SEALs” to the title or label and voilà, instant top seller.

I’m laughing at all the stuff Navy SEALs seem to have time to design–from training programs (two major ones I’ve found–I guess Navy Seals North and South have competing workouts) to exercise equipment, to diets (swear), fighting two wars hasn’t stopped this elite fighting force from providing YOU, the American consumer, a kick-ass fitness routine.

C’mon, anybody can be a Navy SEAL!  Just do the workout…see!

“Designed by Navy SEALs,” along with “organic,” “all natural,” “hormone-free,” and other BS labels are a way to market products.  Hey, I’m not knocking it, I’m just enjoying the absurdity of it all.  If you want to believe that your new program is designed by the Navy SEALs (as opposed to some dude who was simply in the Navy SEALs, and is now laughing all the way to the bank), then be my guest.  Just watch out for the Green Berets.

This blog brought to you by UC Berkeley Molecular Biologists.

Danger Will Robinson: U.S. residents that have purchased eggs in the last couple of month might need to toss them due to a massive salmonella outbreak that has 266 illnesses in California alone linked to the chicken embryos.  Hold the omelets, hold the presses, check your eggs–if they come from a company called Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa better throw them out.

According to health officials at the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and various state health departments, 228 million eggs, or the equivalent of 19 million dozen-egg cartons, have been recalled by the Wright County Egg company.  That number has been increased to nearly 32 million dozen-egg cartons.  The eggs have been distributed around the country and packaged under the names Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp.

Salmonella food poisonings have increased in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.  No deaths have been reported.

Salmonella is the most common cause of food poisoning.  The bacterium responsible–Salmonella enteritidis–is responsible for 20% of all cases.

Most of the cases have been centered around restaurants in California, Colorado, Minnesota and North Carolina.  They are not necessarily breakfast joints–many cases are from restaurants that have raw egg in the salad dressing or dropped into soups.

Although cases have been reported since June, the recall on eggs started last week.  Once again, check eggs from the companies listed above, and if you’re unsure, dump them

Well gents, when it comes to chicks, it’s not what you’ve got in your pocket that matters, but what you’ve got in your pocketbook.  Your lady’s propensity to orgasm is directly linked to your wallet.  So says a 2009 study of five thousand women showing a strong correlation between the reported wealth of their mates and the number of orgasms they experience.  Humbling, I know.

The study, a statistical analysis of data collected from the Chinese Health and Family Life Survey, looked at women, aged 20-64, representing 60 different regions in China, and controlled for such factors as female age, educational attainment, happiness, health, relationship duration, regional differences, and differences between partners in educational attainment and wealth.  Researchers found that the wealthier the male, the more orgasms their female partners reported.  Due to the sensitive nature of the survey, takers were allowed to answer privately and anonymously.

Despite being able to control a large number of variables, the study’s authors did admit that the results could be due to response bias.  In other words, it is possible that women with frequent orgasms over-reported their partner’s wealth or that women with perceived “high-quality” mates over-reported climax frequency.

This study is important because it adds credence to a controversial view on female orgasm.  A split within evolutionary biology circles pits those that believe female orgasm is an adaptive trait, serving a role in securing high-quality mates, and those that think it is simply a by-product of the ejaculatory response in men.  Seriously folks, this is a big issue.

These results seem to support the adaptive view, as earning power and wealth could be perceived by women as high-quality survival traits.  Biologically speaking then, women might respond functionally to this advantage, leading to a favorable sexual response: The Big O.

Although at least one interpretation has any desirable trait increasing the frequency of female orgasm, I don’t think it’s that simple.  I don’t believe that physical attractiveness or education level are necessarily associated with survival success, but financial wealth certainly is.

By no means does this Chinese study make a definitive correlation.  It does, however, open the door for further investigation.  An interesting point is that the cohort (Chinese women), despite having many cultural differences from western women, may represent females as a whole.  A 1989 study showed that women across 27 countries placed high value on resource acquisition, or buying power, in potential mates.

What can I say?  I love this study, because…well, it’s something we men have always suspected, especially judging (on our end) by what she is doing with him.  And now we know.

Two sisters in Sylmar are wanted in connection with the death of a 22-year-old woman from an injection of silicone into her buttocks.  The women allegedly ran an illegal cosmetic fillers business, and were investigated as recently as last month after several other women complained following silicone injections into their faces or butts causing them to fall ill.  The victim died of respiratory stress.

Sisters, Guadalupe Viveros, 53, and Alejandra Viveros, 50, are now on the lamb, as police suspect they might have fled to Mexico.  The 22-year old woman, Mayra Lissette Contreras, of Pacoima died Friday.

The sisters were taken into custody June 21 for practicing medicine without a license, police said. They were held on $20,000 bail before being released.  They are thought to have a long list of clients in the Sylmar area, officials said. Alleged victims are asked to contact detectives at (818) 834-3115.

Women, be careful of illegal cosmetic “enhancement” rings.  If it ain’t a doctor or registered nurse–don’t f*#king do it!

Natural or natural-like, which would you prefer?  More importantly, how should manufacturers be allowed to label their products if they are, say, pretty-much natural?  That is the question currently facing the chicken industry and U.S. government as chicken producers duke it out over use of the word “natural” in food labeling.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a policy of allowing the term “natural” to be applied to any product not flavored artificially or preserved with chemicals.  OK, so far so good…but wait…it doesn’t have restrictions on chicken injected with water, salt or chicken broth, a common practice for many of the biggest chicken producers in the country.

Big chicken manufacturers like Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride use such techniques to make the chicken juicier or more flavorful.  But other chicken producers like Perdue, the nation’s third largest poultry producer after the aforementioned two, are crying fowl.  They believe the use of the term natural should not be applied if any ingredients are added, period.

“Our labels say natural or all natural only if there is nothing added,” Perdue spokesman Luis Luna said. “Under no circumstances is it acceptable to label poultry that has been enhanced with water or broth or solutions as natural, or all natural.”

Perdue has joined a group called the Truthful Labeling Coalition, which has hired a lobbyist and launched an advertising campaign.

Part of the issue for consumers is that some people have illnesses that are sensitive to salt, and therefore neglecting to label salt-injected poultry could be problematic.  Further, proponents for stricter regulations on food labeling feel that transparency is best to allow consumers to make best choices for themselves.

Representatives for the big-two chicken producers parry.  Gary Rhodes, spokesman for Pilgrim’s Pride, said the company simply wants to offer its customers a choice.

“We offer both 100 percent natural enhanced and non-enhanced fresh chicken,” Rhodes said. “It really depends on what the customer wants. It’s all about choice.”

Hmm….and now the government is getting involved (they actually do something useful?…sheesh, I was starting to get worried).  California Sen. Barbara Boxer has called a press conference for the USDA to “immediately prevent sodium injected chicken from using the ‘natural’ label and require all poultry producers to identify added ingredients in print large enough to ensure that consumers can make informed choices.”

I have got to side with Sen. Boxer and the truth in labeling crowd.  It has been apparent to me for years that companies are simply jumping on the wellness bandwagon because it sells products (check out my great podcast on the subject).  Whether or not they actually sell healthy products seems incidental.  Tag it with “natural”–big market there; we’ll sell a bundle.

I think it’s important for consumers to keep their own eyes open.  Don’t trust manufacturers to give you all the information you require.  For instance, bottled water companies have no restrictions preventing them from attaching pictures of mountain springs to their product even if the water comes from a basement tap.  And many companies use the term “natural” very loosely.  Sorry, but it’s the consumer’s responsibility to be on top of what’s in a product because…it’s your health.

Saying that, I do think regulations should be tighter on food labeling.  I have no problem with companies selling crap in the guise of food.  Just be straight in what your ingredients are so we can all know what kind of crap we are buying.  If that means restricting the use of the term natural, similarly to what they’ve done with the term “organic,” then it seems fine by me.

Other than that, buyer beware.

When it comes to child development for adopted children, whether they are raised by hetero or homosexual parents matters not.  All that matters is parenting style, not sexual orientation.  So says a recent study to be published in the August issue of the journal Applied Developmental Science.

The study looked at 106 adoptive preschool-age children living in different parts of the United States and found that they were all developing well regardless of whether their parents were gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

I want to say “no sh*t!” considering all that matters anyway is love.  But I guess some people need proof.  Case in point: some states like Michigan and Mississippi have laws prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children, and the issue remains controversial throughout the country.

All I can say is “What?!?!”  Are you freakin’ kidding me?  With the thousands of children in need of loving homes, we are still actually debating this?  Holy hieroglyphics!  That’s cave-person morality.  You mean to tell me that there are children praying to be adopted and loved, and we need proof that sexual orientation has no effect on child development?  And what precisely are we afraid of?  Certainly not that they might be raised in a primitive culture, as this antiquated dilemma of whether or not same-sex couples can provide a child with love and a good home knocks us back into the Pleistocene.

I didn’t need this study, but I know some people do.  So I really hope we can get past this nonsense and allow all types of people to raise beautiful, healthy families without having to prove their worth–sexually–as parents or people.

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