I have spent much of today thinking about the past year,
and indeed about the past millennium. I am amazed and awed by how rapidly
things are changing. I know that the coming year and the coming years will
continue to bring changes and challenges to us at a speed that will continue
to accelerate.† Many of those things
we have counted upon in the past will lose their effectiveness.† Antibiotics are a prime example of this,
but we will see much more.† Those who
are flexible, who can adapt to an unstable environment will be those who will
thrive.† Perhaps a good definition of
health is adaptability in body, mind, and spirit.
In this upcoming year, I wish you health, that you may
enjoy your life to itís fullest; happiness in all areas of your life, Love
that transcends all limits, and may all of your highest wishes manifest in a
beautiful and good way.†
In the News
Nicotine Patch Does Not Help Pregnant
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Smoking during pregnancy is known to have
detrimental effects on the baby, such as increased risk of low birthweight
and preterm birth, so doctors encourage expectant mothers to quit. But a new
study suggests that women who use nicotine patches to help quit smoking
during pregnancy are no more likely to quit than women who use inactive
The finding, reported in the December issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
comes from a comparison of nicotine patches versus inactive patches in 250
pregnant women who continued to smoke during their first trimester of
Active patches contained 15 milligrams (mg) of nicotine for the first 3
weeks of the study and 10 mg for the second 3 weeks. All patches were worn
for 16 hours per day.
Women using the nicotine patches were no more likely to quit smoking by
the end of 6 weeks than women who used inactive patches, lead author Dr.
Kirsten Wisborg, of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues
Women did not always use the patches as instructed, which perhaps limited
the researchers' ability to detect an effect of the patches on smoking.
However, women who used the patches for more than 2 weeks were more likely to
refrain from smoking than those who used the patches for shorter periods of
One benefit of the nicotine patches was that infants born to mothers using
the nicotine patches were on average 136 grams heavier than control infants,
and women using the active nicotine patch were slightly less likely than the
other women to deliver low-birthweight infants.
SOURCE: Obstetrics and Gynecology 2000;96:967-971.
Constipation Is Not the Root of All Evil After All
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who gauge their health by their bowel
movements may be using a long-outdated yardstick. Over the last few
centuries, reports of the ill-effects of constipation have been greatly
exaggerated, according to a report in the December 23/30 issue of the British
Although today's medical experts do not consider constipation the root of
all evil, as doctors once did, many people still cling to the idea that a
daily bowel movement is vital to good health. According to Dr. James Wharton
of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, constipation's
bad reputation has been tough to eliminate from Western society.
While some people suffer chronic constipation that requires diet and
lifestyle changes, far more often the condition is occasional. And while it
may be unpleasant, constipation does not trigger a build-up of toxins in the
body, Wharton writes.
But until about the middle of the 20th century, many doctors and the
public believed that a daily bowel movement was vital to clearing the body of
disease-causing ``foulness.'' Consumers were bombarded by claims of
laxatives, enema equipment, rectal dilators and abdominal support belts that
promised a good 'cleaning out.'
By the 19th century, Wharton explains, there was even medical consensus
that constipation was the ``foremost disease of civilization, a universal
affliction in industrialized societies that engendered the full range of more
serious human ailments.'' It was known as ``autointoxication''--poisoning
oneself by failing to relieve oneself.
While modern science has certainly toned down this constipation hysteria,
it has also put much faith in the idea that the high-fiber diets that battle
constipation may prevent colon cancer as well. Recent studies, however, have
suggested fiber may engender no such benefit, Wharton notes.
Despite this history of overreaction to constipation, certain age-old
recommendations for treating the condition are still good ideas: eating more
fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains; regular exercise; and
answering when nature calls for a bowel movement. However, according to
Wharton, people have historically felt these measures ``require more self
discipline and sacrifice than they cared to exercise.''
SOURCE: British Medical Journal 2000;321:1586-1589
Wine, Tea May Protect Against Non-Fatal
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Antioxidant compounds found in
tea, wine, fruits and vegetables may lower the risk of having a non-fatal
heart attack for some men but they do not appear to offer protection against
more deadly episodes, researchers report.
Antioxidants are compounds found in foods that combat the
effects of free radicals, which are naturally-occurring particles that can
contribute to chronic disease and aging.
Studies have shown that the antioxidants known as
flavonols and flavones can mop up free radicals, reducing the risk of stroke
and reducing the effects of LDL, or ``bad'' cholesterol.
To investigate whether they offered any protection against
heart attack, researchers analyzed the diets of more than 25,000 male smokers
aged 50-69 years with no history of heart attack.
According to the findings, published in the January issue
of Epidemiology, men who consumed the greatest amount of these compounds had
a slightly lower risk of having a nonfatal heart attack six years later,
compared with men who consumed the lowest amount each day.
But there was only a weak association between these
compounds and death from heart attack, conclude Dr. Tero Hirvonen, from the
National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues.
Their finding contradicts previous studies, which have
shown a stronger relationship between the antioxidant compounds and death
from heart attack. The authors note that the average levels of flavonols and
flavones consumed in their study were low, compared with levels consumed in
other trials, possibly because consumption of tea and wine in Finland is
Individuals in the present study also smoked and ``it is
possible that the effects of flavonoids are different between smokers and
nonsmokers,'' researchers suggest.
SOURCE: Epidemiology 2001;12:62-67.t
Antibiotics Resistance Common, Rising
By Gene Emery
BOSTON (Reuters) - The risk of developing an antibiotic-resistant
infection rose by about a third from 1995 to 1998, the latest warning that
antibiotics are losing their effectiveness due to overuse, researchers
reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine (news
Extensive use in both people and animals is breeding new
generations of bugs that withstand antibiotics, drugs that revolutionized
medicine when they were introduced in the middle of the 20th century. The
declining effectiveness of antibiotics is a serious concern to the medical
The new study focused on Streptococcus pneumoniae, the
most commonly identified cause of meningitis, pneumonia and middle ear
infections in the United States. The findings illustrated that the risk of developing
an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection rose substantially between 1995
Among those who developed a Streptococcus pneumoniae
infection, 14 percent in 1998 had one resistant to at least three different
types of antibiotics, compared to 9 percent in 1995.
``Multidrug-resistant pneumococci are common and are
increasing,'' said the research team, led by Dr. Cynthia Whitney of the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news
sites) in Atlanta.
Millions Of Pounds Of
Antibiotics Consumed Annually
About 160 million antibiotic prescriptions are written in
the United States each year for some 25 million pounds of antibiotics. About
half of those prescriptions are unnecessary, according to an editorial in the
Animals are fed a similar amount of antibiotics.
The new study's findings were based on tests of 3,475
samples from 1998 from all over the country. Twenty-four percent of the bacteria
in the samples were resistant to penicillin, and the rate ranged up to 35
percent in Tennessee and down to 15 percent in New York and California.
Once the bacteria had adapted to fight off penicillin, the
researchers found, they were likely to be able to withstand the onslaught of
other types of antibiotics as well.
One answer, researchers said, is to take greater care in
the use of the drugs, which are so common they are often included in the food
Another is to immunize people against pneumococcal
infections through vaccination. The vaccine, already used for adults,
recently has become available to young children in the United States.
In their editorial, Drs. Richard Wenzel and Michael Edmond
of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond said routinely immunizing
infants in the United States would prevent 53,000 cases of pneumonia, 12,000
cases of meningitis and 110 deaths each year.
The elderly and those with weak immune systems also face a
high risk of death or illness from pneumococcal infections.
``We need to reassess policies on antibiotic use while
changing our approach to include vaccinations against pneumococcal infections
of all children over the age of 4, all adults over age 65, and all people
with HIV infection,'' Wenzel and Edmond said.
C'mon Harry, Let's Walk Upstairs And Make Love!
I Can't Do Both At The Same Time, Honey!
When it comes to medical research on sex, most of the
attention is on sexually transmitted disease and sexual disfunction-Syphilis,
gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, impotence and frigidity.† From this point of view, having sex is a
grim and risky business.
Yet sex is probably one of the most common, and certainly
most pleasurable activities we humans experience-indeed essential for the
survival of the species.† Yet only a
handful of studies exist to help us understand and enhance the health
A study on aging from Duke in the 1970s found that for men
the frequency of sexual intercourse was associated with lower death
rates.† For women the enjoyment of
intercourse was associated with longer life.
A Swedish study found increased risk of death in men who
gave up sexual intercourse.† A study
published in 1976 found that sexual dissatisfaction was a risk factor for
heart attacks in women. †Now a new
study published in the esteemed British Medical Journal offers more good
news.† The findings suggest that men
who have frequent sex are less likely to die at an early age.
An intrepid group of researchers from Great Britain
included a question about sexual activity in a long-term study of health.
The authors studied nearly 1000 men aged 45 to 59 and
living in or near Caerphilly, Wales.†
The men were asked about the frequency of sexual intercourse.† They were divided into three groups:
those who had sex twice or more a week, an intermediate
group, and those who reported having sex less than monthly.
A decade later, researchers found that the death rate from
all causes for the least sexually active men was twice as high as that of the
most active.† The death rate in the
intermediate group was 1.6 times greater than for the active group.† A similar pattern of longevity and
frequency of orgasm was found for all causes of death, coronary heart
disease, and other causes.
Of course many questions arise with this type of
study.† Does the frequency of orgasm
cause the improved health?† Does poor
health cause lower sexual activity?†
Or does some other factor such as physical activity, alcohol,
depressed mood, or "vital exhaustion" cause both poor health and
less sexual activity?
The researchers did find that strength of the results
persisted even after adjusting for differences in age, social class, smoking,
blood pressure, and evidence of existing coronary heart disease at the
initial interview.† This suggests a
more likely protective role of sexual activity.
To quote the researchers:
"The association between frequency of orgasm and
mortality in the present study is at least-if not more-convincing on
epidemiological and biological grounds than many of the associations reported
in other studies and deserves further investigation to the same extent.
Interventions programs could also be considered, perhaps
based on the exciting, 'At least five a day' campaign aimed at increasing
fruit and vegetable consumption- although the numerical imperative may have
to be adjusted."
More research is needed.†
Since the overall death rate was reduced 36% for an
increase of 100 orgasm per year, one could easily imagine a new prescription
Rx: Sexual Intercourse At least 2 x per week.† Such a prescription might have few side
effects and would be far more pleasurable than many other regimens often
prescribed.† And even if sex doesn't
prove to add years to life, it may add life to years.
Remember, if she says, "Why now George?".† Just tell her that your Doc.† prescribed it .† .† .† not for fun mind you, but solely for
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