From the monthly archives: "May 2009"

A doctor well-known for performing late-term abortions was shot and killed at church early this morning. Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas ran and operated one of only three late-term abortion clinics in the country. According to reports, he was shot dead at around 10 am Central time in the lobby of his church. The shooter has yet to be identified or captured.

Dr. Tiller has been the frequent target of anti-abortion organizations, and this isn’t the first attempt on his life. He was shot in both arms back in 1993, the shooter being convicted of attempted murder, and his Wichita clinic was bombed at least one time. Dr. Tiller was recently acquitted of charges that he had performed late-term abortions that violated state law. Kansas law allows late-term abortions when two independent doctors agree that a woman would suffer irreparable harm by giving birth.

Dr. Tiller was a controversial figure, being the subject of many efforts of prosecution by groups such as Operation Rescue–an anti-abortion organization. A spokesperson from the group denounced the killings, saying,

“Operation Rescue has worked tirelessly on peaceful, non-violent measures to bring him to justice through the legal system, the legislative system. I’m a tireless advocate and spokesman for the pre-born children who are dying in clinics everyday. Mr. Tiller was an abortionist. But this wasn’t personal. We are pro life, and this act was antithetical to what we believe.”

But leaders of abortion rights organizations expressed outrage. They point to the fact that Dr. Tiller was one of the only doctors in the country to perform late-term abortions to save women whose were at risk from the pregnancy and/or childbirth. They stated that it will now be even harder for women in need of these late term terminations to get the care they need.

All I can say is this world is getting crazier by the minute. I sometimes hear that it’s just our access to massive amounts of information that make these crazy occurrences seem like they are happening with greater frequency, but I’m not sure about that. I really think sometimes that large numbers of people are teetering on the edge of insanity. Maybe modern technology does increase the likelihood of these events happening, as well as our ability to hear about them; but this recent killing is just another attempt of people trying to control how others live. It’s all a part of the same stew. Just whacked. My condolences to the doctor’s loved ones. May Dr. George Tiller rest in peace.

Want to quit smoking? Just focus on some nasty “effects of smoking” pictures, says the World Health Organization (WHO). According to Douglas Bettcher, head of the organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, placing pictures of black lungs, bleeding brains and yellow teeth are enough to prevent some people from picking up the habit, and motivate others to quit.

“Although some people question the need for such pictures, the evidence is absolutely clear that they convince people to quit,”says Bettcher. More than 20 countries, including Britain, Iran, Peru and Malaysia already use visual warnings on their tobacco products. Around 80% of smokers live in developing countries; this has led to ramped-up marketing by tobacco producers, so WHO officials believe that the use of shocking images should go a long way in combating the efforts. They point to the recent emergence of designer cigarette pack-holders and other accessories to cover up some of these health warnings in Canada.

I don’t know if shocking images are enough to get people to quit smoking. I smoked for twenty years; I smoked all through undergrad and chiropractic college. I was exposed regularly to the nasty images of black lungs–didn’t stop me. I quit right before graduation from chiropractic college because I knew that smelling like an ashtray wouldn’t be good for business, and I was all about my upcoming career. But I applaud the effort and I hope it works. As I’ve said countless times: my life is extraordinarily better since I quit smoking, no doubt about it.

So if you are a smoker and you want to quit, and you think it’ll help, here you go:

For Los Angeles residents who love to salute the sun but have limited funds, free yoga classes go on every day at Runyon Canyon in Hollywood. The daily schedule is:

Monday – Friday
10:30am, 2pm, 6pm

Saturday & Sunday
10:30am, 6pm

And if Hollywood is too far west or parking is a beast, try Yoga on The Green at the Americana at Brand in Glendale! This goes on every Sunday morning from 9:30am-10:30am and is also FREE!!!

There you have it. When funds are tight, options still exist. So no excuses people: For ohm grown fitness and fun, try the free yoga in Hollywood and Glendale–and get your asanas moving!

Since starting this blog two years ago, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the flu vaccine. Regular readers know my feelings on this completely bogus inoculation–it does nothing. My reasoning behind this belief is two-fold: First, the influenza virus is one of the most rapidly mutating viruses on the planet. The difficulty of developing a viable viral vaccine against such rapid mutation is close to impossible–it’s not entirely impossible, just a low probability of effectiveness from year to year. We need only to look at the 2007-2008 flu vaccine to confirm my point exactly.

The second point of my reasoning is that I believe that we must encounter the influenza virus head-on from time to time (yearly, every other year, whatever) to develop natural immunity. I believe that each time we get sick with the flu, we are exposed to the latest strain, the latest mutations if you will. This is necessary to keep our immune system up-to-date, much like downloading the latest updates for your virus scan. This provides a degree of protection against new flu strains that arise as a result of their constant mutation.

Case in point: Experts now say that the H1N1 swine flu virus is not a new virus. Instead it’s a mutated hybrid of human, pig and bird flu strains; and that it has probably been circulating undetected for years. Somewhere, maybe in Mexico, maybe in Asia, it made the jump from swine to humans. The three most recent flu pandemics–1918, 1957 and 1968–started when a new avian flu virus started infecting people. Experts are saying that the current “triple reassortant virus” as the swine flu is called, is not a rapidly mutating virus–a sample from a patient in Mexico is virtually identical to samples from various U.S. states and other countries.

So again I make my point: It’s important to get sick; It’s important to encounter new flu strains as they arise; mutations create potentially new bugs, and only by encountering them periodically will we develop recognition of their deadlier cousins in the future.

Swine flu? It can be mild or it can be nasty; but like any other virulent microorganism, the environment is as important as the bug. So swine flu is here. It’ll kill some people, but lots of people are surviving it now, and many more will continue to do so. Just take care of yourself. Get lots of rest, stay hydrated, stay away from immune lowering toxins like narcotics, heavy alcohol or loads of pharmaceuticals. And if you smoke…well just know it lowers immunity. And don’t freak if you get the flu, or the swine flu; same as usual, sleep, water, nourishing food–you’ll be fine.

Krishna Pattabhi Jois, the modern guru of ashtanga yoga has died at the age of 93. Jois, who studied ashtanga yoga since he was twelve years old and taught his first western student in 1964, died on Monday according to his institute’s website. Ashtanga yoga, one of the most rigorous forms of yoga, was popularized by celebrities like Sting and Madonna. Jois visited the United States for the first time in 1975 and also brought his form on yoga to Europe at that time.

“If we practice the science of yoga, which is useful to the entire human community and which yields happiness both here and hereafter – if we practice it without fail, we will then attain physical, mental and spiritual happiness, and our minds will flood towards the Self.” — Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

For the guru Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois biography, click here. And for more on ashtanga yoga, click here.

Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois will be dearly missed.

Read what Carolyn Aldwin, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at Oregon State University has to say about health and aging and pay very close attention:

“It is also interesting that social class differences in morbidity and mortality* exist in every country in the world, even those, like Britain, that have universal health care. Although this relationship is partially mediated through factors such as health behavior habits, perhaps social class differences in neonatal health may have life-long effects (emphasis mine).”

Maybe, good doctor…but more likely, as you’ve said, through lifestyle choices. So I again reiterate: Healthy behaviors are the primary factors involved in reducing risk to the development of ill health, disease and premature death. Period.

And a little more information for all you universal health care groupies, Dr. Aldwin says:

“Baby Boomers will also demand more services and better quality ones. I am eagerly awaiting the first sit-down strike or takeover of the administration in a nursing home! (emphasis mine)”

Yeah, just what we’ll get with universal health care “more and better services.” You probably won’t have to wait long for that strike, sister.

*Morbidity and mortality = Illness and death

Check the scenario: Family gets health insurance coverage through wife’s employer, pay their premiums, and then husband gets into car accident. When the bills reached more than the annual premium, the insurance company canceled the policy. Why? They went back into the man’s health records and found that he failed to disclose previous conditions. It’s now a big court case in California.

This is a fairly typical scenario when it comes to private insurers. Insurers are in the business of making money–nothing wrong with that, I mean, who isn’t? But what makes this case important is a question of “good faith.” What that means is: Did the insurance company violate good faith practices by failing to check on the man’s health history before accepting him as an insured. That’s the main question that will determine this case.

According to the insurance company, and rightly so, the man withheld that he had been treated for complications related to obesity and a stomach condition two months prior to obtaining the Blue Shield coverage. This omission is legally cause for rescinding of an insurance policy. You lie, you lose–that’s fair. However, Blue Shield failed to carry out its due diligence, and according to the Health Insurance Access and Equity Act of 1993

“No health care service plan shall engage in the practice of postclaims underwriting. For purposes of this section, ‘postclaims underwriting’ means the rescinding, canceling, or limiting of a plan contract due to the plan’s failure to complete medical underwriting and resolve all reasonable questions arising from written information submitted on or with an application before issuing the plan contract. This section shall not limit a plan’s remedies upon a showing of willful misrepresentation.”

The last line is the important one, “a showing of willful misrepresentation.” The insurance company is trying to prove that the family willfully withheld the previous conditions. The family states they did not, they thought that only the wife’s information was required since the policy was under her name (from her employer).

This case will be very important as far as how insurance companies will be required to treat incoming clients. Why would an insurance company not carry out its due diligence to the tee before insuring someone? Cha-ching…premium dollars, that’s why. What are the chances one person will run up a $45,000 medical bill? Slim, most people don’t (sorry, universal health care groupies, despite the propaganda, this type of medical expensive is not as common as we are being Kool-Aid drugged into believing), so health insurers make a nice chunk of change from each underwritten premium. It’s not until they have to pay out that a foul is committed–at least in their eyes. But, this might just be a case of the health insurance industry’s game just coming back to bite them. Oh well.

Anyway, this type of shenanigan is not an isolated incidence when it comes to health insurance. Many people find themselves at the losing end of rescinding policies for “withholding medical information” which happen after an medical expense is incurred. In fact, health insurers have been shown to reward employees for rescinding policies (cutting coverage), an act described as “reprehensible” by a California arbitration judge in an earlier case. We’ll find out how this one turns out, but I think the insurance company will get nailed on this one.

What do you think—should courts decide how you care for your child’s health? Tough question, since the law is ultimately supposed to protect people, and children are often in need of such safeguarding. But how much is too much?

A Minnesota judge ruled yesterday that a 13-year-old cancer patient must be evaluated by a doctor to determine if the boy would benefit from restarting chemotherapy over his parents’ objections. The family belongs to a Native American spiritual organization called the Nemenhah Band, which believes in natural healing. The boy—who is considered a medicine man and an elder in the group–has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Apparently he has made the decision himself to refuse chemotherapy (he only went through one session) and instead treat the cancer with nutritional supplements and other alternative therapies.

The treating oncologist, Dr. Bruce Bostrom, from Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota has stated that the boy’s tumor had shrunk after the sole chemotherapy session. Other doctors have said that the boy has a 90% survival rate if he continues with chemotherapy; but if he opts out, they say, he only has a five percent chance of survival.

The family, and the boy according to his legal team, want the right to choose whatever treatment option best suits them. But the court has ruled that the boy is unable to properly make that decision, stating that he has a learning disability* and can’t read. According to Judge John Rodenberg, the boy has only a “rudimentary understanding at best of the risks and benefits of chemotherapy. … he does not believe he is ill currently. The fact is that he is very ill currently.”

And so the judgment is that the boy must adhere to the doctors orders regarding chemotherapy, and if the parents refuse, the boy will be taken in protective custody. But it gets even more complicated. Check this out: If the boy refuses the chemo–hold onto your hats–doctors do not yet know how they will administer the drugs to him. Why don’t they just pin him down and inject it into him by force? Isn’t that the way to ensure compliance—gangstick ’em, Frances Farmer style?

Tsk, tsk, tsk…now if I haven’t heard it all. OK, first let me accede: these Nemenhah Band people are a bunch of nuts—no doubt about it. But who the hell is the government to step in and tell people what to do with their own bodies. Ok, ok…if the kid was absolutely clueless in all this, then maybe the parents are negligent and responsible for child abuse. But this kid knows what he wants. No, he doesn’t understand the full implications. Nonsense! He knows enough; and anyway, who the hell understands the full implications? Nobody has a complete handle on cancer; if they did, it wouldn’t be the new second leading cause of death worldwide.

Here’s the main problem with this ruling: At what point is governmental protection simply intrusion? Sure this is a tough case—as I’ve said, the family is teetering on the brink of lunacy. But ruling for court mandate in these complicated cases can far too easily lead to the same in other less complicated cases—like mandatory vaccinations, or worse, court-ordered psychiatric drugging of children, particularly those in “protective custody” (to get your bloodcurdling, read this frightening essay on state-prescribed medicating of children).

To what degree do we want our freedoms taken away, like the right to choose what each of us deems right for our family’s health and well being? It seems innocuous enough, this case in Minnesota—for sure it’s dealing with loonies right up there with Christian Scientists, those nut jobs refusing any medical treatment at all because of their belief that God will protect them. But this case is bigger, much bigger, because it’s deciding where Big Brother has the right to step in and dictate what we can and cannot do with regard to our families’ health. No vitamins—doctors say they aren’t necessary. Vaccinate your children or go to jail—like in Belgium. And absolutely, positively, without question you must take your pharmaceuticals because…well…doctor knows best. Just one question: What the hell are they going to do if that kid dies anyway? Doh!

*Learning disorder was a term coined by the psychiatry profession in 1963 to include children in the ever-growing envelope of mental disorders and to provide funds for disabled children in schools.

I hate to say I told you so, but well…I did. Here’s the latest on American health insurance habits: Americans spend more on medical care than their foreign counterparts. But not their own money…oh no, uh uh…Americans spend more insurance dollars, because the perception is that their health is somebody else’s responsibility.

According to new research conducted at George Washington University, insured immigrants spend less on medical expenses than U.S.-born citizens, even after accounting for lower levels of insurance coverage. Well, no kidding; you don’t say. In fact, overall health care spending was 20% less for American immigrants, even when controlling for factors like health status and age.

No surprise to me–I’ve been reporting on the convoluted American health paradigm for quite some time. Americans, in general, think that health care is an entitlement–which might not be a problem if the average citizen did all they could to take care of themselves. But when a large number of all illnesses are lifestyle related, it really skews the stats, doesn’t it?

The authors of the study point out that these results “contradict the popular belief that immigrants are a drain on the U.S. health system.” I agree. But even more telling in my opinion is that Americans overuse the medical system for one simple reason: They aren’t footing the entire bill. Truth is that all insured people foot the bill for those using health care the most–the obese, drug addicts (both recreational and pharmaceutical), and the neglectful. And our current government wants to now give us more to pay for with universal health care. You really think this is the answer to “fixing” the health care crisis? Wake up call: not only is there not a crisis, but universal health care is going to cost way more than ever imagined. You’ll see.

Does more activity in school cause kids to be more active out of school? Nope, not according to research conducted in Great Britain. In fact, children may have a “set-point” for activity; and once reached, it may shut down a child’s further activity for the day.

206 children, ages 7-11, were followed for one week for four consecutive school terms and their activity levels measured and recorded by accelerometers–the devices currently used in video game controllers. They were set on three different physical education schedules–9.2, 2.4, or 1.7 hours per week. The accelerometers recorded the kids’ duration and intensity of activity.

The researchers found that those kids most active in school were least active outside of school or at home. Those least active at school were most active when outside of school. They believe that people in general have a “personal set point” that determines their activity level, and they will tend to reach it one way or the other.

This information comes at a useful time, while public health official and educators attempt to deal with the rising obesity problem amongst children, and shoots down the assumption that more opportunities for activity will lead to just that. As co-researcher Alissa Fremeaux, from Peninsula Medical School puts it, “These findings have implications for anti-obesity policies because they challenge creating more opportunity for children to be active–by providing more playgrounds, sports facilities, and more physical education time in schools–will mean more physical activity.

I think the interesting thing about these findings is that we have had this sense intuitively about activity levels being sort of personalized to each individual. But in trying to deal with obesity in general, and in children specifically, we have been searching for answers, and it may not be in activity levels at all. In fact, an earlier study this week has showed that most obesity is due to overeating, not lack of physical fitness. So bravo to the researchers looking hard at this stuff. It looks like we are getting a clearer picture.

Listen up, women: Probiotics may help you shed post-pregnancy weight. But there’s a catch. You’ve got to start them early, first trimester to be exact.

Recent research conducted in Europe has shown that pregnant women given probiotics in the first trimester of pregnancy were less likely to develop central obesity, which is characterized by a body mass index of 30 or higher or a waist circumference greater than 31.5 inches. At one year following childbirth only 25% of women given probiotics developed central obesity, compared to 43% given diet advice alone. 40% of women receiving neither probiotics nor advice developed central obesity.

Although preliminary, this study is good news for women worried about losing the post-delivery pounds. Nothing beats getting back into nature and walking the birthing weight off, but taking probiotics throughout pregnancy is a helpful addition, especially since it offers so many other benefits as well.

Want to stay slim? There’s a secret regimen that far too few people are taking advantage of these days–it’s called sleep. You got it–catching enough z’s is yet another way to keep your body lean and mean.

A recent study conducted by the European Center of Taste Science in Dijon in central France has found that people who are sleep deprived had greater feelings of hunger than people getting adequate sleep; and these same sleep deprived people went on to satisfy their hunger by consuming an additional 550 calories (equivalent to one large hamburger).

Another separate study conducted at Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that children who got less sleep in puberty than when they were younger gained more weight compared to children whose sleep patterns did not change.

To me these findings make sense. Since we replenish our energy stores and ATP stockpiles during sleep, not getting enough leads to lower energy. It would appear to me that the body would attempt to increase its energy through any means possible, including increasing calorie intake. But is that efficient?

The bottom line here is that the sleep process is essential to many functions from energy production to wound healing to cognitive function. It’s one of the six keys to optimal health. When we rob the sandman the global health takes a hit. And now we know sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain–definitely not efficient. So get your rest and stop burning the candle at both ends–you might see you waistline shrink as a result.

On March 25, 2009 Good Morning America aired this piece on chiropractic and blood pressure. A pilot study conducted in 2007 showed that chiropractic adjustments reduced blood pressure significantly offering hope to the millions of people plagued by high blood pressure in the U.S.

The study conducted out of the Rush University Hypertension Center in Chicago showed that hypertensive study subjects provided with specific chiropractic adjustments (and sans meds) lowered their blood pressure by an average of 17 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic. The study was a double blind, placebo-controlled design, and the study cohort was 70% male with a mean age of 53. The subjects receiving placebo (sham adjustment) showed little change in blood pressure.

Well this is exciting news for people with hypertension. It shows that there are alternatives to medications for treating hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension affects one third of all Americans, so this is huge for the country as a whole. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack or stroke, and all medications have side-effects. Interestingly, the study showed no side-effects for the chiropractic adjustments.

Of course, organized medicine is embracing this study cautiously. That’s okay…truth is truth is truth is truth is truth. The chiropractic technique used in the study was Upper Cervical Specific or NUCCA. Check out the GMA video below to get the full story.

Another tragedy in the entertainment world: legendary Las Vegas showman Danny Gans died in his home early this morning; he was found by his wife at 3:00 am, “having trouble breathing.” The cause of death, as of now, is unknown. Gans was reportedly in good health at the time of his death.

Gans, eleven-time Vegas Entertainer of the Year, was well-known for his rapid fire imitations of famous celebrities from Tony Bennett to Al Pacino to Sarah Vaughn. He also sang, proclaiming himself a “musical impressionist.” Gans started his career on Broadway doing a one man show in 1995, but then moved to Vegas in 1996 starting at the Stratosphere, then moving to the Rio, and eventually the Mirage, where he signed a $150 million-a-year contract in 2000. Gans won the prestigious Entertainer of the Year 11-times in a row–an impressive feat considering that his competition included the likes of Cher and Celine Dion. Gans changed venues again this year, moving to the Encore, a sister property of Wynn, Las Vegas.

Gans did not start out as an entertainer. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals out of high school, and played in the minor leagues. An injury ended his baseball career, but a small film roll in the hit movie Bull Durham gave him the entertainer bug. He started as a traveling performer working mostly corporate functions before moving on to Broadway.

Gans will be sorely missed both by his colleagues in the entertainment world and his adoring public. I find this especially sad because Danny Gans was in the prime of his life. He was in great shape, they say–a probability knowing how important one’s health is to performing day in and day out. Although the cause of death is currently unknown, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is yet another tragic drug overdose. If Gans wasn’t using recreational drugs, then my guess he is just another victim of pharmaceutical overload. I hope not, but healthy young people don’t just die in their sleep–something else must have happened.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the Gans family. Here’s to a great entertainer that will be for ever immortalized in Las Vegas and the world over.

Walking around in pain? Disabled? You’re not alone: Twenty percent of Americans have a disability, according to new reports out of the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). The CDC reports that the number of people with disabilities rose 7.7% over a six year period. From 1999-2005, the number of disabled Americans has reached 48 million. Pretty pathetic considering most of the top disabilities have a sound solution. Let’s take a look:

  • Arthritis was the leading cause of disability, affecting 8.6 million people
  • Back and spine problems were next at 7.6 million people
  • Heart related disabilities knocked down 3 million people
  • Women were more disabled than men
  • And the CDC predicts that the overall numbers will continue to rise as baby boomers age

What makes this scenario sad is that most of the disabilities hobbling our countrymen are treatable or preventable. Arthritis, low back pain, neck pain and other musculoskeletal pain conditions are all effectively treated by chiropractic care. But are doctors recommending it to their patients? Seeing that less than twenty percent of the population is taking advantage of chiropractic care, it’s not surprising that the numbers of disabled are so high.

Fortunately, the younger generations are turning to chiropractic to prevent future disabilities. I see it in my own practice. Baby boomers come, but not as much as Gen Xers and Millennials. I guess what grandma and grandpa tended to pass on, kids are embracing. Very smart youngsters, very smart. You don’t have to take on the family legacy and fulfill the CDC’s prediction of “more disabled” by 2030. On the contrary, if instead we do what the CDC recommends to stop the trend–that is, focus on “disability prevention” through safe, effective chiropractic care, then I’m certain these numbers will come down.

I think the younger generation gets it–Keep getting adjusted by your chiropractor for health, wellness, prevention and pain relief, and leave the baby “disability” boom behind.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.