Currently viewing the tag: "lifestyle behaviors"

OK, OK…now that genetics is out as a cultural crutch for obesity, here goes something to quickly take its place.  Get this: Childhood obesity might be linked to the common cold virus.  Yes, yes, the common cold.  Not lifestyle behaviors, but a virus.  How’s that for quick thinking?

A recent study to be published in the September 20 issue of Pediatrics showed that some children infected by adenovirus 36 (AD36), which causes the common cold and slight gastrointestinal upset, were an average of 50 pounds heavier than children who hadn’t been infected by this particular strain.  The study, small and rife with coincidences, is the latest in “take-the-blame-off-the-patient” obesity hypotheses.

The study looked at 124 children between the ages of 8-18, with more than 50% (67 total) considered obese based on body-mass measurements for their age and gender, and found that nearly one in four obese children had been infected with AD36, compared to only 7% of non-obese children.  In total, the numbers are 15 and 4 respectively–this makes a study?  Further, within the entire group of obese children, those who were AD36-positive weighed about 35 pounds more than obese children who hadn’t been infected with AD36.

I repeat, this makes a study?  Now granted, the authors do not claim to have proof, but I laugh at the absurdity of the notion from the start.  Why not study the link between biting one’s fingernails and developing hemorrhoids?  Seriously.

OK, I get the rationale, but come on!  Whether or not a child has been infected with adenovirus does not remove the necessity to watch the diet and to be active, plain and simple.

But we musn’t blame people. Why the hell not?  Why perpetuate the ultimate problem: the lack of knowledge, understanding, discipline and responsibility?  Here’s why.  Hypotheses lead to further studies, connections lead to rationales, and rationales lead to drug and vaccine development–think anti-depressants.  New drugs for epidemics means a shipload of money.  The public gets a new wonder drug, doctors get more business, and government gets to look like it supports the public health by endorsing poppycock.

So the rest of us get a good five years of having to hear how people are fat because they’d at one time caught a cold; a particular cold; a fat cold.  And we get to pay even more for their health care, because it’s not their fault and everyone should be entitled to be an ignorant, irresponsible and undisciplined glutton.  We support you…literally.

Now before I get accused of being insensitive to obese people, remember, I’m the first to say be whatever you want to be.  I have nothing against obesity, ignorance, irresponsibility or a lack of discipline, because I know that everyone has these same characteristics somewhere in their lives.  In fact, I have said in this very blog and in my health articles that I am more an advocate for people loving who they are as they are, even if obese, as long as if they want to change, they take the responsibility to do so on their own.  No BS, no excuses, just take the leap and accept the glory and the blame.

But I do not support removing personal responsibility from one’s physical health and well-being; and I definitely do not support the use of so-called science to find further reason to move the blame away from the individual.  To answer one of the study’s authors, who thinks we should “move away from assigning blame, and broaden the way we think about obesity,” I say, it help much less to give people another crutch to simply rationalize reality: It takes hard work and a drastic change in lifestyle to lose weight and keep it off.  You’ve got to cut the sodas, work out, and keep the overeating in check.

Trying to pass off the notion that obesity is somehow caused by exposure to the common cold is irresponsible, and in my mind, an obvious attempt at creating the next blockbuster drug.  It’s a free market, yes–but will it change the world’s obesity profile?  Fat chance.

No free ride—dang!  There never seems to be something for nothing. Always a cost, always a price. Anyway, now it looks like a popular blood pressure medication may raise cancer risk. You mean I can’t eat what I want, neglect exercise, or indulge in type-A behavior at any time I want, and then just take a magic little pill that’ll make everything all right? Whuh?

According to a recent analysis of five previous studies following about 60,000 patients, researchers found a link between taking angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) and cancer. ARBs are taken by millions of people worldwide for conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetic kidney disease. Researchers found that people taking these meds had a one percent higher risk of developing a whole range of cancers, including prostate, breast and a noticeable spike in lung cancer. About 85 percent of the people in the studies were on telmisartan, sold as Micardis, made by Boehringer Ingelheim Corp.

Although the individual risk is modest, the wide numbers of people taking these drugs means that the overall cancer numbers worldwide should increase due to ARB use. It is unknown at this time if the cancer risk is reduced following discontinuation of the drugs.

Of course, Boehringer Ingelheim Corp., makers of the drug Micardis, dispute the results, claiming their hypertension drug is one of the most-studied in the world. The company claimed in a statement that it had “internal safety data” contradicting the recent study. According to studies run by the pharmaceutical company, there was no link between increased cancer risk and Micardis. Yeah, yeah, yeah…

Lead author of the study, Dr. Ilke Sipahi, warned patients not to stop taking their drugs, and recommended they consult their doctor if they were concerned. However, he does say that he now thinks twice before prescribing ARBs himself. Nevertheless, for some people that can’t handle the side-effects of some of the other hypertension drugs, the risk of dying of stroke or heart disease far outweigh those of developing cancer.

Well let me interject my two-cents. Hypertension comes in two flavors, primary and secondary, the former being due mostly to lifestyle behaviors, the latter secondary to other causes, many hormonal. 85 percent of people with high blood pressure have the primary type. I hope you see where I’m going. If you handle your own lifestyle modification, take things into your own hands, why…you could lower your blood pressure and avoid the increased risk of developing cancer by using and ARB, like Micardis. Go figure.

Here are a few simple tips to lowering blood pressure:

  • Get adjusted—studies have shown chiropractic care can reduce blood pressure by 17mmHg systolic and 10mmHg diastolic*
  • Lose weight—obesity increases blood pressure; the heart has to work harder to pump through the fat
  • Reduce sugar intake—yeah I know it’s hard, I live it every day. So what, do it anyway; sugar is a killer
  • Reduce salt intake—this decreases blood pressure in about 33% of people
  • Quit smoking and reduce or quit drinking alcohol—I know, I know, but just so you know, both increase blood pressure immediately
  • Learn to handle your stress—stress is a necessary part of life; however, putting things into balanced perspective is essential (don’t know how? contact me)

Blood pressure medications are supposed to be prescribed after lifestyle changes have been modified. But you know as well as I do that, like pretty much all medications in our arsenal, they are prescribed first and immediately, with lifestyle behaviors touched only obligatorily with the five second, “Oh, and you should probably lose weight and quit smoking,” line your doctor says as he hands you your scrip and walks out the door.

Listen, don’t rely solely on your doctors. They are overworked, and they know that most people won’t comply with suggestions on lifestyle changes (although this is not entirely true, it is a belief of the average medical doctor).  Be good to yourself, take your health into your own hands.  The results are yours and yours alone.  Trust me, there’s never something for nothing.  Nobody can do your exercises for you, and there is no such thing as a magic bullet.  Don’t worry, it’ll be worth all the hard work.

*Thank you Dr. Tim Swift, best chiropractor in San Clemente, for the reminder of my obvious oversight.

Get this: Up to one third of breast cancer cases can be avoided through diet and fitness. You don’t say? Yes! Eating less and exercising more can reduce the incidence of breast cancer, said experts at the European breast cancer conference in Barcelona yesterday.

Although better treatments, early diagnosis and mammogram screenings have dramatically slowed breast cancer, researchers estimate that 25 to 30 percent of cases could be avoided if women were thinner and exercised more. The numbers come from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, the WHO estimates that one third of ALL the world’s cancers are preventable.

Please digest this, people: Cancers are preventable. Hmm. One more time: Cancers are preventable. Geez…

Is this concept a part of our new world health order? Not yet, too avant garde. Let me point out the discrepancy between current medical thinking and the most up-to-date health research and information. This should make us all rest easy since we now have equal access to medical care. Our country’s lawmakers have found it in our best interest to give us more of the system that has brought us medical dependence. We’ll call our current system the “old way,” and the newer, not yet accepted by medical standards (and this includes the Congress and POTUS) approach, the “new way.” Here we go.

New way: “What can be achieved with screening has been achieved. We can’t do much more,” Carlo La Vecchia, head of epidemiology at the University of Milan, said in an interview. “It’s time to move on to other things.”

Old way: Any discussion of weight and breast cancer is considered sensitive because some may misconstrue that as the medical establishment blaming women for their disease.

New way: Dr. Michelle Holmes of Harvard University, who has studied cancer and lifestyle factors, said people might wrongly think their chances of getting cancer depend more on their genes than their lifestyle. “The genes have been there for thousands of years, but if cancer rates are changing in a lifetime, that doesn’t have much to do with genes,” she said.

Old way: Tara Beaumont, a clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, a British charity, said her agency has always been careful about giving lifestyle advice. She noted that three of the major risk factors for breast cancer–gender, age and family history–are clearly beyond anyone’s control. “It is incredibly difficult to isolate specific factors. Therefore women should in no way feel that they are responsible for developing breast cancer,” says Beaumont.

New way: Karen Benn, spokeswoman for Europa Donna, a patient-focused breast cancer group, said it is impossible to ignore the increasingly stronger links between lifestyle and breast cancer. “If we know there are healthier choices, we can’t not recommend them just because people might misinterpret the advice and feel guilty,” she said. “If we are going to prevent breast cancer, then this message needs to get out, particularly to younger women.”

Frickin’ duh!

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime is one in eight. Obese women are 60% more likely to develop any cancer than normal-weight women. Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue, so experts suspect that the fatter a woman is, the more estrogen she’s likely to produce, which in turn could feed breast cancer. Even in slim women, exercise can help reduce the cancer risk by converting more fat into muscle.

Drinking less alcohol might also help lower the risk. Experts estimate that having more than a couple of drinks a day can boost the risk of breast cancer by 4-10%.

Further, searching for magic bullets is counter-productive. There is no one pill or therapy that will make you healthy and live forever. Please wake up. Women who jumped on hormone replacement therapy to bypass the down-side of menopause increased their risk of developing breast cancer. In the ’80s and ’90s breast cancer rose steadily as obesity and the use of estrogen-containing hormones after menopause increased.

A sharp drop in breast cancer rates occurred as women abandoned hormone-replacement therapy due to a discovered link between the treatments and breast cancer. Experts said a similar reduction might be seen if women ate healthier and exercised more.

New way: Dr. Michelle Holmes, the Harvard expert, said changing diet and nutrition is arguably easier than tackling other breast cancer risk factors.

Well no shiitake, Samurai! That’s the new way; yet, we’re still stuck in the old. But at least we’re ALL stuck in it together.

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