From the monthly archives: "June 2011"

Low back pain can come from many sources, but one common cause is tight hip flexors.  The hip flexor complex is made up of three muscles–the psoas major, then iliacus, and the rectus femoris of the quadriceps femoris group.  The psoas and iliacus together form the iliopsoas complex.  The hip flexors do just that, they flex the hip.  In people that sit a lot, or those that do either excessive or incorrect abdominal exercises are prone to developing hip flexor tightness or spasm

When the hip flexors get tight, the pain is referred down the low back, in a longitudinal pattern down the side of the spinal column.  The best thing to do to get immediate relief is to visit a Los Angeles sports chiropractor.  For the long-term solution, however, you will want to stretch and lengthen the iliopsoas and hip flexor complex.

One thing to be cautious of is the spasmed or hypertonic psoas.  A person–very often a flexible female–can have long hip flexors, but have a muscle spasm happening in either the psoas or iliacus muscles.  This can be very painful, particularly in the hip region, front or back.  In these instances, the person will need to see a sports chiropractor or physical therapist (or a good massage therapist) to have the spasm released.

Watch the video below to learn one of the best hip flexor, iliopsoas stretches available.  Have fun and stretch daily.

Listen up, people, to words of wisdom:

“Any intervention that you do to a patient, whether it be surgical or radiation, is never going to make the person (function) better than they are at the present time.” ~ Dr. Tracey Krupski, an assistant professor of urology at the University of Virginia

This statement was in reference to a recent study of 152 men that underwent prostate removal surgery (some only partially).  The men were counseled to educate them of the risks, like erectile dysfunction (ED) and urinary incontinence, and surveyed before the surgery.  The survey questions asked about their expectations of urinary, bowel and sexual function a year post-surgery.

About half of men expected that they would have the same function after surgery as before, and 17% of men anticipated better sexual function after the surgery.  Better sexual function…hmmm….

Following up one year later, the researchers found that  just 36% of men’s expectations for urinary function matched the true outcomes, and 40% of the expectations for sexual function matched reality.

Daniela Wittmann, the sexual health coordinator in the urology department at the University of Michigan and a researcher on the study, said doctors are unable to tell patients specifically how well they are likely to recover their urinary and sexual functions.

“We can only (inform them) in terms of overall statistics, we can’t predict for the individual man” how well he will recover, Wittmann said, “which means that, if in doubt, people tend toward being hopeful and optimistic.”

Duh!  Not that knowing the risks to sexual and urinary function should, or would stop men from getting the surgery; but what’s important to me is that I’m sure most people feel this way with any medical intervention.  Sure, we can call it hopeful…but we can just as well call it misguided.

Far too many people think the progress of modern medicine is such that we can be made ‘good as new’.  Some even believe that we can become bionic–better, stronger, faster…c’mon, geez!

Let me reiterate what the good Dr. Krupski said: You are never going to come out of a surgery or radiation the same or better than you were before.  Duh!  This ain’t science fiction, people!  I know, I know…you saw it in a movie…not there yet!

Listen, you gotta have your prostate removed, so be it.  But elective c-sections, ass-implants, low back surgeries, two, three, four carpal tunnel surgeries, double mastectomies, hysterectomieswhat the f….????? You better understand that the minute your tissue is cut–YOU AREN’T THE SAME!

I see it everyday in my Los Angeles chiropractic practice: people coming in following a bad auto accident, and we work hard to get them back to one hundred percent.  How many do we actually get there?  Not many.  Trauma is trauma.  Cut the flesh…it ain’t a paper cut.  I had an appendectomy five years ago–I’m not the same; wiser but not ‘better’.  That’s a fantasy, peeps.

Let me spell it out:  If you’ve got a choice between letting the innate healing ability of the body do its thing, or removing a body part, think hard.  Looking at enhancing yourself surgically, think hard.  Doctor recommending a ‘routine’ surgery, think hard.  That’s all.  If you still decide to go for it, and they have you take a survey…check the box next to, “not the same; a bit worse.”

Stop acting surprised!  Can’t you see that the bigger a thing gets, the more corrupt it becomes?  Wake up!…and welcome to today’s medical industry.  Yes, the same medical industry that has brought us Quackwatch, medical ethics, and the healthcare monopoly–oh, that medical industry.  Yes, yes, yes…not the glorified one depicted in Grey’s Anatomy or the talk show circuit, but the real deal.  Oh you really don’t know?  Hmmm..all right, check it:Device manufacturing giant Medtronic, and doctors paid by the company to carry out research, are under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee to determine whether the company failed to report serious side effects from the bone-growth agent Infuse in clinical studies.

The product was introduced in 2002 to help bones heal after spinal surgery and has been used in about 500,000 patients.  Since its arrival on the market, it has also been linked to some cases of cancer, male sterility, throat swelling and leg pain.  Some doctors in the spinal community believe that a “small number, fewer than five” fatalities may have even resulted from its use, though no published data points to any deaths.

Medtronic, its paid researchers, and its practices were attacked by a prominent US medical journal, The Spine Journal, its authors alleging that they failed to report adverse events to the journals that publish them.  Through thirteen trials involving 780 patients, “industry-funded researchers did not report a single adverse advent involving Medtronic’s Infuse Bone Graft,” said the three US-based doctors that co-authored the review article.

The reviewers went on to point out that the paid researchers of “nearly all the trials had financial ties with the manufacturer, with investigators earning as much as $26 million per study.”  The product brings in about $900 million in annual revenues for Medtronic, according to US media.

In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health notice about “life-threatening complications” associated with the product, also known as recombinant human Bone Morphogenetic Protein (rhBMP), when used in the upper or cervical spine.  According to the FDA:

“FDA has received at least 38 reports of complications during the last four years with the use of rhBMP in cervical spine fusion.  These complications were associated with swelling of neck and throat tissue, which resulted in compression of the airway and/or neurological structures in the neck. Some reports describe difficulty swallowing, breathing or speaking.”

Last week the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to Medtronics asking it to “produce documents related to its controversial bone growth product Infuse.”  The senators raised concerns that the company knew of the adverse effects of Infuse but failed to report them.  Now why would a medical device company do that?  Here are $900 million reasons, which is the annual revenue brought in by Infuse.

Here’s the game, folks: Big Daddy medical device manufacturer invents product promising billions.  Doctors are hired to conduct research and make it look promising; they are compensated handsomely.  Adverse effects are…whoops…left out of publication, and research papers sent to journals.  Journals rave, FDA approves manufacture and sales to the ever trusting American, then world, markets.  Company makes beaucoup bucks, some people get sick, some die; company pays out restitution or go-away money; everybody happy.

Listen, I’m not a “medicine and Big Pharma are evil” kind of guy.  On the contrary, I believe strongly that both industries are invaluable to human life and progress.  However, anything that gets too big, gets corrupt; and modern medicine is not immune.  Bravo to to the doctors calling out Medtronic for its heinous practices.  They knew, and they hid, the truth–that deserves the highest punishment…whatever that is.

But don’t for a second think that as western medicine grows to its behemoth monstrosity that it is above influence, corruption and greed.  We all are.  The bigger we get, the more we think we are above the rules…and doing what’s right.  The medical industry is all of us, our potential unleashed.  Let us be the ones, then, to rein it in.

Know what’s cheaper than gas and water today?  Your blood.  You heard right, blood is so readily available that doctors have been using it like an endlessly replenish-able commodity.  Blood transfusions are all too common a medical procedure–heck, we can even call them routine 

Throw some blood at it, Trapper, that should fix things…good, good…control the bleeding, my ascot! 

But not so fast, a U.S. government advisory committee is calling for national standards on when a blood transfusion is needed–and how to conserve this precious resource.

Apparently, much variability exists among doctors as to how much of the red oil is ordered during any given procedure.  For example, some surgeons try to boost the blood of anemic elderly patients with a pint or two, when other measures could be taken.

All the variability shows “there is both excessive and inappropriate use of blood transfusions in the U.S.,” advisers to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius concluded earlier this month. “Improvements in rational use of blood have lagged.”

Other doctors bypass bleeding control, and simply order a few pints instead.  Why not?  Well, for me the why not is simple.  I don’t want someone else’s blood over my own.  If I need it, yes…gimme some heme and a little globin too, yo!  But if I can get by on my own, then duh!

But this is just another peril of medical modernization–taking our rich supply of back-up blood for granted.  Blood banks–like the American Red Cross–welcome the idea, as they try to balance how to keep just enough blood on the shelves without it going bad or running short.

The U.S. uses a lot of blood, more than 14 million units of red blood cells a year.  Between 1994-2008, blood use climbed 40%, Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, told the Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability. In many years, parts of the country experienced spot shortages as blood banks struggled to bring in enough donors to keep up.

As an oddity, blood use has actually dropped since the recession, roughly 6% over two years, Benjamin says, although he couldn’t say why.  Maybe financial considerations affect more than we think, including medical rations.  Interesting at the very least.

Transfusions are not risk free: Some people experience allergic-style transfusion reactions and other complications, sometimes fatal ones, despite the dangers of contracting HIV or other viruses being very rare today.

Multiple studies have proven the overuse of blood in U.S. hospitals: One study showed a difference between two hospitals, tracking over 100,000 patients, of 8% blood transfusions in one, while the other was up to 93%.  Survival rates at the two hospitals were not significantly different.

Another study last fall examined Medicare patients who received blood for various reasons over a 10-year period, and found those who live in the South are the most likely to get a transfusion and those who live in the West, least likely.  Overall, the U.S. uses about 49 units of blood for every 1,000 patients, substantially more than Canada or Britain where those transfusion rates are in the 30s, Benjamin says.

All I can say is the bigger western medicine gets, the more mundane its application.  Ah Charley, all you need is a new kidney; you’ll be good as new, you’ll see…and don’t worry, you won’t have to stop taking your heart meds.  Crazy!

We’ve become so numb to the magnitude of medical intervention that a blood transfusion is like getting an oil change at Jiffy Lube.  No doubt, modern medicine is awe-inspiring, but c’mon–I know people that get a surgery every year (I am NOT kidding!).  Is it any wonder conventional wisdom supposes there’s a ‘health care crisis’?  I’ll say there’s a crisis all right…but it’s in the respect for human health and universal laws.  Think about it.

A few posts ago, I showed an excellent exercise to strengthen the gluteus maximus muscles.  Another gluteal muscle that tends to get weak, or lazy is perhaps a better way to say it, is the gluteus medius.  This hip abductor is located on the outer edges of the pelvis, and it functions to hold the pelvis upright as we stand and walk.

When the gluteus medius gets weak, it can leave you susceptible to pelvic subluxations, low back pain and even knee pain.  A recent sports injury and rehabilitation study showed that knee pain and problems in runners could be helped by strengthening the hip muscles, particularly the gluteus medius.

Watch the video below to learn the best exercise–hip abductions–to strengthen the gluteus medius hip muscles.

Good news adventurers, campers, hikers and rangers–a new ointment has been developed that can increase survival rates for those suffering snakebites.  The ointment contains nitric oxide, which has been found to delay the entry of snake venom into the blood stream.

Nitric oxide (NO), not to be confused with nitrous oxide (NO2) or laughing gas, is a chemical messenger in mammals.  It acts as a blood pressure and neurological regulator, and has been shown to lower blood pressure in stroke patients.  NO works by dilating blood vessels (vasodilator), slowing blood flow, and thus decreasing pressure.  It has also been found to slow down the pumping mechanism of the lymphatic system, which is the point of entry for many types of snake venom.  Researchers put two and two together, and came up with an ointment they thought should decrease the entry rates of the toxin into the human body.

Bingo!  They were right.  In two experiments they showed that snake venom was slowed significantly in its entry into the mammalian blood stream.  In the first experiment the researchers injected a venom-like substance into one foot of 15 volunteers, and measured the time it took for the toxin substitute to reach lymph nodes in the groin.

They repeated the experiment, but rubbed the NO-containing ointment into the foot of the volunteer within one minute of the injection.  Amazingly, the transit for the venom-like substance went from 13 minutes to 54 minutes–a more than 4x decrease.

The second experiment looked at the survival rates of rats injected with snake venom.  The rats receiving the ointment continued to breathe 50% longer than rats receiving venom injections alone.

These findings are important as 100,000 people die worldwide every year from snakebites, while another 400,000 must amputate limbs that have been injected with poison. Godsend for snake charmers.

Currently, the most common treatment is to immobilize the patient and restrict blood flow as much as possible until medical assistance is available.

“These results point to a new method of snakebite first aid that may also be useful for bites to the torso or head,” the researchers concluded.

Finally, something snake-oil salesmen can be proud of.

Listen up, cokeheads–we know when you said you’d give your left ear for another bump you didn’t mean it literally!  But junkies in New York and Los Angeles are doing just that: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reports that 82% of street cocaine is laced with the veterinary drug levamisole, which is used to deworm cattle, pigs, sheep…and now junkies.

Levamisole can can also rot the skin off noses, ears and cheeks, doctors says.  Multiple cases of rotted flesh have already been reported.  Eeeeww….

Dealers usually cut the coke with baking soda, but may have turned to the veterinary drug as a way to extend the coke high (studies in rats suggest the drug acts on the same brain receptors as cocaine).  More high, more sales.  But bad for the health: Reports of rotted flesh in the left and right coast’s two biggest cities abound.  Anything for another line…here take my nose.  One doctor reported seeing a man whose entire body was black with dying flesh.

Some users seem to be immune, but others no such luck.  some doctors are comparing the flesh eating effects, and the suppression of white blood cell formation eerily similar to AIDS (Hmmm, seems like somebody has said drugs/AIDS in the same breath before). 

“It’s a little bit like having HIV,” said Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist with Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute in an ABC article. “About 10 percent of those patients will die from severe infections. They may be walking around like a time bomb.”

Dr. Craft believes the problem must be nationwide and we just aren’t seeing the full ramifications yet.

The good news: Once levamisole is cleared from the body, the wounds do heal, leaving behind a shiny scar.  Phew.  And on to another day. 

Just reminds me of one thing: Whether street powder or pharmaceutical crank (think Ritalin, Adderall), drug dealers don’t give F&*# about their customers.  Freakin’ weird.

When it comes to weight gain, is one food-like substance worse than another?  Yes, say Harvard University researchers, and the biggest offenders are potato chips!  Whaddayaknow–worse than sodas, worse than fries, worse than candy?  Yup, chips were more than four times more fattening than sweets or desserts.  Dang!  I’d say, “Who knew,” but isn’t it kind of obvious?

The study (actually three studies combined) looked at more than 120,000 people over a twenty year period, analyzing their dietary and lifestyle habits.  The subjects were all health professionals and not obese at the start.  Their weight was measured every four years, and they detailed their diet on questionnaires.  On average, participants gained nearly 17 pounds over the 20-year period.  For each four-year period, food choices contributed nearly 4 pounds, while exercise–for those who did it–cut less than 2 pounds.

This is how foods broke down into the fattening quotient (pounds gained/4 years):

  • Potato Chips — 1.69
  • French Fries — 1.28
  • Candy — 0.41
  • Alcohol (drinks) — 0.41
  • Watching hour of TV a day — 0.31
  • Recently quitting smoking, 5-pound increase
  • People who slept more or less than six to eight hours a night gained more weight.

The researchers conclude that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to gaining or losing weight.  Although I definitely agree with this statement in context of today’s western society, I wouldn’t say that’s a physiological fact, thermodynamically speaking.  Today’s foods may just be harder to burn, but I don’t know that it is true for all foods (and can’t one, technically, get fat from an excess of any food?).  Okay, different subject, I know, but I will agree that our current obesity epidemic ain’t from eatin’ too many carrots.

This is a decent study, but I would say we should put things into perspective.  Many people believe that as long as they work out, they should be able to eat whatever they want…within reason.  Problem is, people grossly underestimate how many calories they are eating at any given time.  A great piece came out in Scientific American last year discussing a study which showed most people, oddly, miscalculate total calories when high-calorie items are accompanied by ‘healthy’ side dishes.  Subjects overwhelmingly assigned less calories to plates with cheeseburgers and celery, than they did to cheeseburgers alone.  Doh!  Think that might happen regularly in real life?

Listen, crap is crap is crap is crap.  Chips are crap, period.  Eat them more than a few times a year (seriously) and expect fatness.  Same for sodas, canned ravioli, frozen tater tots and doughnuts–sorry to break-up the party, but…

Do we really need a study to tell us chips and fries are not Jenny Craig material?  I wish not, but sadly…we do.  So now you know.  Do with it what you will.

Shoulder injuries are some of the most common conditions people walk into my Beverly Hills sports chiropractic office with, and treating them can be tricky.  I find that shoulder impingement, along with rotator cuff syndrome, has become increasingly problematic for people, especially as people pick up exercise as a lifestyle habit.  Now everyone knows that I think doing so is of mega-importance to achieving and maintaining great health, but it’s not without its challenges.

First, without proper form, most people lifting weights can cause injury to themselves.  So form is foremost, period.  This is true whether we’re talking about lifting weights, doing yoga, Pilates, or whatever.

Poor form during shoulder exercises can lead to impingement syndrome.  I find that in stubborn cases of impingement syndrome, the offending agent is an inflamed biceps tendon.  Please don’t take this to mean that the biceps is the primary problem in shoulder impingement syndrome–it’s one of three structures that can get inflamed–but it is the most often missed and neglected during the treatment process.

What you can do on your own to speed up the healing process for shoulder impingement syndrome is to ice and stretch.  Watch the video below to see the best home stretch for a biceps tendonitis.

When dealing with a stubborn shoulder injury (that means chronic, not one you’ve just hurt), go see a sports chiropractor right away.  But you can help your own case by icing and stretching your shoulder, particularly the biceps.  Enjoy.

Summer’s here–time to cool down.  Put the kids in the portable pool and forget about it, right?  Wrong!  Every five days a child dies in a portable pool–this according to a recent U.S. study, first of its kind.

From 2001-2009 there were 209 deaths and 35 near-drownings of children, 94% of them under five, and 81% happening in summer.  Horrible.

“The anecdotal evidence was suggesting that because portable pools are readily available in many convenience stores and malls, and they’re relatively cheap, parents would pick them up, take them home, quickly assemble them, and all this would be done without a lot of forethought about the safety aspects,” said senior author, Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

The study looked at portable pools, from wading pools less than 18 inches deep to inflatable pools and other soft-sided pools that can reach depths of 4 feet.  Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Independent Safety Consulting in Rockville, Md. They say the findings are comparable to drownings related to in-ground pools.  Unfortunately, portable pools don’t have the many safety nets–like pool covers, fences, alarms, and removable and lockable ladders–that in-ground pools can have.

The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals supports “layers of protection,” and the study underscores the importance of active, undistracted adult supervision, said Carvin DiGiovanni a senior director at the Alexandria, VA-based association.

Listen parents–no kidding!  You can’t leave kids in, or near, a pool of any sort unsupervised.  Same goes for bathtubs.  I sure most everyone heard the news of the child drowning in the tub, while mom went to play on FacebookDuh!

I don’t mean to bash people here, because I cannot think of a more painful experience than losing one’s child to a bad mistake.  Nobody’s suggesting that people should be helicopter parents, but c’mon…gotta supervise the little tykes in the water, period.

According to the researchers: children were supervised by adults in fewer than half (43%) of the drownings and near-drownings, and that most (73%) were at home.

Further, the study showed that CPR was administered to the drowned or near-drowned child only 15-17% of the time.  Researchers conclude that it’s high-time every parent learned CPR.  I couldn’t agree more.  Take it from a guy who saved his own mother’s life with basic CPR–you’ll wish you knew it when the time comes unexpectedly.

Feeling sick, or maybe a little limp–ditch the Tylenol and Viagra, baby, take a bite of iguana.  That’s right, the reptilian vegan of Central and South America is a regional delicacy making its way up to North America.  Salvadoran immigrants pay big bucks for the languid lizard’s meat, as they believe it to have magical cure-all properties ranging from fighting the common cold to improving sexual performance.

Border officers in San Diego last week stopped a man trying to sneak iguana meat across the U.S.-Mexico border.  Odelay, pinche Iguana-runner–whatchoo got under them fishes?  159 pounds of prime pink iguana flesh, ripe for consumption.

Okay, okay…before you get grossed out: Central and South American people have been eating the Green and Black variety for 7000 years.  Iguanas are now raised on farms for such consumption, and Salvadoran and American businessmen have been bringing the meat to the U.S. to help provide a “taste of home” for Latinos now living in the States.

The meat is said to have a taste similar to chicken, but a bit stronger and tougher. At $14 a pound (retail), or about $50 for the average purchase, it isn’t for ordinary meals. Still, “the demand for them is higher than we can provide,” says Frank Rodriguez of Distribuidora Cuscatlan, an importer of foods from El Salvador.

The seized iguana meat from last week was turned over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents, and the man, and American, was arrested. The meat had an estimated value of $4,500.

Well, I don’t usually knock people’s culinary preferences because I know people gotta do what they gotta do, but methinks the wild iguana population in El Salvador be shrinking. According to one 2006 report, the Salvadoran government, in response to over-hunting and habitat destruction, has cracked down on the gaming of iguanas. So, although it may be a natural cure for erectile insufficiency, I don’t know that bringing this little ‘taste of home’ to an enormous market like the U.S. (and reportedly Asia) is all that great for the little Latin American lizard. 

Do what you gotta do; but with more bust like these, this lizard delicacy might just become the next caviar. $$

Low back pain, hip pain and knee pain can all originate from a weak pelvic girdle.  When the muscles of the butt and pelvis get weak, the low back loses support–add in a weak abdominal core and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

In my West Hollywood chiropractic office, I always evaluate the pelvis and buttocks muscles, which are also known as the gluteals.  The gluteus maximus is the main muscle of walking, as it is the primary hip extensor–a movement necessary to bring the leg back during walking (gait) cycle.  The gluteus medius is the muscle that holds the pelvis upright as we stand.  When the glutes get weak–or perhaps lazy is a better word–they need to be isolated and strengthened. 

No muscle can be totally isolated because muscles work together–synergistically–as a group.  However, there are two exercises that are outstanding for isolating the gluteal muscles as much as possible.  The first is called gluteal bridges, and if you watch the video below, you can see a great version that will not only strengthen the gluteus maximus muscles, but will also help correct any muscular imbalances that are in place, whereby one side becomes stronger or weaker than the other.  The second exercise is called hip abductions and we’ll save that for another post.

You should have your work cut out for you with the gluteal bridges I demonstrate in the video, so watch and practice.  If you are not sore the next day, then you aren’t doing them right.  But don’t worry, you’ll be sore…

Have you ever had “stomach flu?”  Gastroenteritis–man it’s the $#!*$.  I got it again this weekend, and I must say…makes you feel like dying.  President Zachary Taylor died of gastroenteritis in 1850.  You’re probably thinking, “No S#*T!,” but believe me he gave more than he had…I speak from experience.

Now this post isn’t about my horrid weekend.  It’s about what I call perspective balancing.  Sometimes we take life for granted–we get all high on ourselves, thinking this or that was built for us specifically (whatever our own personal this or that’s happens to be at any given time).  Let’s just say we might even believe that our $#!T doesn’t smell.  And that’s when life teaches us otherwise.

No, no, no…I don’t believe we get gastroenteritis to teach us any metaphysical lessons.  But what I know for sure is that when you are curled up on the couch…alone…writhing in severe pain…wanting to puke at every Jack in the Box commercial that comes on the tube, but you have no strength to even reach over to the remote and turn that crap off (no pun intended…well, okay, maybe just a little)…there is a strange little mind thing that occurs…you realize you ain’t all that, and it could be Zachary-Taylor-time any day, any hour, any minute.  And it makes you realize…all the crap you worry about, all the crap you think you are doing or NOT doing…really doesn’t matter because…well, anything beats gastroenteritis…even a root canal.

Perspective balancing is what happens as you writhe in pain from gastroenteritis, and even more so when you stop.  The sky looks brighter, the birds sound more cheerful, everyone is your brother–better than LSD, I tell ya–you gotta try it sometime.  But heed my warning: it’s definitely not for the faint at gut.

*Thank you’s to Jen R. for inspiring this piece with her question, and to foodborne illness for making me see the light (hallelujah, free again!)

Stop the presses, stop the presses–this just in: California might require condoms in porn! That’s right–Cal/OSHA officials have drafted rules to require porn performers to use condoms and other barriers in sex scenes to prevent being infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

The 17-page draft proposal will be discussed at a public meeting in Los Angeles on June 7.  The draft would then go to the state’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board for a ruling on whether it becomes part of state code.

I know you think I’m obsessed with this story, and that’s because..I am.  This is groundbreaking–it could spell the end of porn as we know it.  I can see it now: Porn industry moves out of California, and sets up shop in Nebraska.  Holy Cornhuskers!

Some major porn producers have opposed the use of condoms in straight films.  Their beefcake is exactly that they think nobody will want to watch latex-laden sex, and so they fear the industry will have to move out of California (and into the back-alleys, no pun intended).  We’ll see how many free speech groups come to the rescue of smut.

Oh well, nanny-state here we come.  If we can’t smoke, eat fast food, carry guns or watch condom-less porn, what next?  I’m thinking they’ll start to limit our prescription drugs and vaccines…nah!!!

Another blow to the ‘genetics-is-the-answer-to-everything’ faction of medical science.  According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers often overstate the importance of biomarkers as links to disease, by citing papers that report the strongest associations, even when ensuing analyses downplay the connection.

The study looked at papers on biomarkers–biological characteristics, such as gene or protein activity, which can be used to monitor a person’s health–that had been cited more than 400 times.  These studies were then compared to others on the same biomarkers, and it was found that many papers were reporting stronger links between biomarkers and disease than were actually found in the majority of studies.  Even worse, many papers reported a stronger association than was observed in the largest single study of the same biomarker.

As an example:

A 1991 study that was cited 1,436 times found that patients with a high level of a compound called homocysteine in their blood had a 27.7-fold elevated risk for vascular disease. But a meta-analysis reported only a 1.58-fold increased risk.

Doh!

I love this because I know that there just is no such thing as true objectivity in science.  The fact that science is carried out by humans with beliefs and biases means that it will always veer in the direction of researchers’ own perspectives.  And that’s the way it should be!  Yes, we all want objectivity in science, but puh-leez–the universe (at least as it pertains to humans) is driven by our thought processes.  It is impossible not to affect observations, studies, or science as a whole by the human factor.

It takes a genius (Newton, Einstein, Watson/Crick) to drive a paradigm–the way in which we view the world.  The rest is up to the people of the era: WE direct science, art, politics, philanthropy, economics and education based on our own interpretations of the world.

So yes, there will be citation bias in science.  More reason to scrutinize the ‘genetics-is-the-answer-to-everything’ mind-set.  It ain’t.  In fact, my bias is that it merely plays a supportive role in most health/illness issues.  But that’s not our current paradigm, so I will gleefully chuckle at a distance every time some free-thinking scientists pick up on the current cultural biases at play during our attempts at objective observation.  Watch out climate researchers!

Ha ha ha…nothing like the naivety of youth.  Take medical students for example–they actually think they cannot be influenced by gifts or trips provided by pharmaceutical manufacturers.  Silly little doctors-to-be; it’s like one of my teachers in chiropractic college said, “You think you know exactly what you’ll do until you have trouble paying the rent, your daughter needs braces, and college for your son is right around the corner.”  Ha ha ha…exactly.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School analyzed published studies that included a total of 9,850 students at 76 medical schools in the United States. The investigators found that most of the students had some type of interaction with drug companies and that this contact increased during the clinical years, with up to 90% of clinical students receiving some form of marketing materials from drug makers.

Among the students queried, most believed there was no ethical problem in accepting gifts from drug companies. Their justifications included financial hardship or pointing out that most other medical students accepted such gifts.

Nearly two-thirds of the medical students claimed that drug company promotions, gifts or interactions with sales representatives did not affect their impartiality regarding drug makers and their products.

Yeah, everyone thinks they are above such influence.  I personally think commercials are useless against my steel will, but who’s the fool?  Bottom line: Drug companies wouldn’t waste their time and money on aggressive marketing if it didn’t work.  And going after medical students is a strong step toward successful indoctrination.  Heck, if it works for Coke and Pepsi with the pre-schoolers, why not for Big Pharma and the med-schoolers?

The drug companies have even begun to target their marketing efforts to individual doctors.  They can buy biographical data from the American Medical Association (AMA) and analyze individual doctors personal and prescribing habits.  They can learn which drugs doctors lean toward, and they can even find out a doctor’s taste in dining, hobbies and travel.  Imagine an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii, from your friendly neighborhood pharmaceutical company.  And you think you wouldn’t buckle…now who’s the fool?

Listen, marketing influences consumers…even doctors.  No matter how much a doctor thinks, as a scientist, he is above basic marketing techniques, truth is he is influenced like the rest of us.  One study showed that doctors’ prescribing rates doubled and tripled for certain drugs following an all-expenses paid trip.  But that was just coincidence.

Get smart, med students–you will be influenced by pharmaceutical marketing.  It’s not a problem as long it’s in the best interest of the patient, the public health and the person paying the bills.  Until your profession lays down some regulations limiting contact between med students and pharmaceutical sales reps, you’ll just have to humble yourself to the power of marketing…and keep mind of your post-contact habits.

Most people coming into my Los Angeles sports chiropractic office with numbness and tingling of the hands and fingers believe they have carpal tunnel syndrome.  Interestingly, many of them have been told that by a doctor.  The problem is that they are being told it’s carpal tunnel syndrome, even when it is not.

So let me help: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a paresthesia of the median nerve; as a result it is felt as numbness and tingling in the first three digits of the hand–the thumb, forefinger and middle finger (see picture on right).

Numbness and tingling in the last two digits (ring and pinky fingers) is NOT carpal tunnel syndrome.  I will trust that my clients who tell me their GP has diagnosed their 4th and 5th digital numbness as carpal tunnel syndrome just misunderstood what the doctor was saying, because I know the good doctor would not say that…right, doctors?  Right?

OK, numbness and tingling in the last two fingers is called cubital tunnel syndrome, and it involves the ulnar nerve.  If you are reading this and you currently have numbness/tingling in your hand(s) or fingers, please visit your local sports chiropractor’s office.  If you live in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills or West Hollywood, chiropractic is just a phone call away.

As a gift, watch the video below to learn one way to beat carpal or cubital tunnel syndromes.  And then call your sports chiropractor–no need to suffer.

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