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130620_MEDEX_CIGAR.jpg.CROP.article568-large (Copy)A big fat duuuuuuuhhhhhh in the world of health today, as a new study discloses that half of all cardiovascular deaths are due to preventable factors. Why duh? I have been reporting on this phenomenon since I wrote my quintessential health manual, The Six Keys To Optimal Health, a decade ago. Okay, okay, to be fair, many of you have not read it; and I am certain many of you do not peruse the health news in the same manner I do. However, saying that, we all know the risk factors for cardiac events, so why are people not taking heed?

The study, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine online, looked at data from the BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) 2009–2010 of over 500,000 people, ages 45 to 79, to asses risk factors associated with cardiovascular deaths (heart attacks, heart failure, etc). The five primary risk factors were: smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure—and all are preventable. Complete elimination of each of these risk factors would reduce cardiovascular deaths—the leading cause of death in the U.S.—by 54% in men, and nearly 50% in women.

heart disease risk factorsSmoking and high blood pressure led to the highest proportion of preventable deaths, and nearly 80 percent of people reported exposure to at least one of the five risk factors. Despite these risks being preventable, if every state was brought to the level of the best state, only ten percent of the deaths would be prevented. Get it? What this means is that Americans, in general, practice risky cardiovascular behaviors. Yes, eighty percent of the country either smokes, is obese, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. And many have several, and some have all! Do you get it? That’s freakin’ abysmal. And we wonder why health is so poor in the U.S. Can’t blame healthcare (sickcare) for this one.

Like I said, we all know the risks, so why do we fail to avoid them? Ummmm…I can take a guess…let’s see: because American citizens have become so spoiled by ease and comfort that we believe we are entitled to live as we please, and then be “saved” by medicine. That’s precisely what universal health care was all about – our inalienable right to have our preventable conditions treated – and this study proves it. Preventable! I know it is hard to hear, and it certainly doesn’t endear me to the masses when I say it, but it’s the truth and we both know it.

So let’s go over it again:

I know we are all going to die, but nobody reading this wants it to be them, not prematurely anyway. So do the right stuff and I promise you will get more out of life, and more life to get things out of. I’ll continue to send out tough love via health information, facts, and no nonsense interpretations meant to wake…you…up. Hope you are listening.

Doing yoga helps cancer patients overcome sleep problems.  So says a recent study to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to be held in Chicago this June.  According to the study, yoga also improved quality of life, reduced fatigue and reduced the need for sleep medications in cancer survivors.  Now how ’bout that?

The study looked at 410 patients who had finished treatment two to 24 months before and who had reported greater-than-average sleep disruptions (80% of cancer patients have trouble sleeping while undergoing treatment, and about two-thirds say the problems persist after treatment ends). Almost all of the participants were women, and three-quarters had had breast cancer, although the cancer had not spread. None had done any yoga in the past three months.  Participants were randomized to either receive regular follow-up care for cancer survivors or to receive regular care plus two 75-minute sessions of yoga per week for four weeks.

Emphasis was on doing postures (asanas) breathing from the diaphragm rather than the chest (pranayama) and on mindfulness, visualization and guided meditation.
Here are the results:

  • 22% of yoga participants reported improvement in sleep quality, while only 12% of controls reported the same
  • 31% of yoga participants who had started out with clinically impaired sleep quality recovered vs. only 16% of controls
  • 42% in yoga group had reduced fatigue, compared to only 12% in the control group
  • 20% of yoga participants had reduced daytime sleepiness, while only 5% of controls had the same 
  • 6% on average in yoga group reported their quality of life improved, while none in the control group did
  • While the yoga group was able to get by with less sleep medication, people in the control group actually used more.

Pretty amazing, but not surprising.  I know firsthand the multitude of health benefits of practicing yoga, as I have been involved in my own practice for 10 years.  What is remarkable is the degree and rapidity with which cancer survivors respond to yoga practice.

The combined focus on physical activity, mental focus and breathing is a recipe to benefit all people.  Yoga has been around for thousands of years precisely because it has taught people a way of enhancing their life forces.  If yoga has the ability to transform the lives of cancer survivors, then it certainly has the ability to do the same for you and me.  I’m doing yoga daily; I encourage you to do the same.  Yoga will transform you.

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