Word of the Day: Telomere

January 28, 2010

Telomeres

Telomeres are the little white ends

What if I told you one of the most important words in your health vocabulary should be telomere.  Let me give you a quick definition and you should immediately understand what I am talking about.  A telomere is the end of a chromosome. These specialized structures are involved in the replication and stability of linear DNA molecules.

Wait….what?

In all seriosness, anti aging experts now believe that telomeres may be the key to staying young and more importantly staying healthy.  What the experts now know is when the telomere shortens the cell it is living in dies.  This is important in that cell death can lead to serious disease as well as pre mature aging.

The experts are now focusing creating therapies to lengthen already shortened telomeres or even better yet, how to prevent them from shortening in the first place.

What have they found works well in preventing telomere shortening….Exercise.  Research shows that people who exercise have less erosion of their telomeres than people who are healthy but are not very active.

Last post I encouraged people to get out and vote.  This post I am encouraging you to just plain get out and get moving….your telomeres are depending on it.


Case of the Month October 2009

October 26, 2009

Mrs. X presented to the office with bilateral carpal tunnel.

First a little background.  Carpal tunnel is a common term for pain in the wrist.  For many years it was assumed that because the pain was in the wrist, then the problem was originating in the wrist.  Chiropractors have worked to show there may be other factors that influence the pain in the wrist, including neck misalignment, muscle spasm and joint misalignment.

Back to the patient.  Mrs. X reported no significant history of trauma.  She did report that she spent between 8 and 1o hours at the computer, with about half of that on a laptop.  When asked to reproduce her work position I noted there was significant leaning forward with a lot of slumping of the shoulders.

Examination showed significant restrictions in the neck and muscle spasm in the shoulders and forearms.  X-Ray exam showed a 7 degree curve in the neck, where 45 is ideal and 36mm of forward head carriage.

After going through my findings with Mrs. X I suggested a 5 visit trial where I would get to see how she responded to the care and she would determine if this course of care was for her.  Care consisted of neck and midback adjustments, extension traction and trigger point therapy.  After evaluating the wrists, I made the decision to not mobilize the wrists as I judged they were already moving well.

On the first visit I asked Mrs. X to rate the pain in the wrists, it came in at a 7.  I adjusted Mrs. X, had her stretch and worked on the muscle spasm in the forearms.  This went on for 5 visits.

At the beginning of the fifth visit, Mrs. X reported her wrist pain had improved to a 3!!!  As excited as she was about this, her objective changes were what was getting me fired up.  The muscle spasm in the forearms was significantly better, the restrictions in the neck were clearing up and I was even seeing a change in her posture.

This is a classic example of the pain being in one area but the problem located in another area.

If you would like to see a research report that shows chiropractic as effective as taking a bunch of pain killers for carpal tunnel click here.  Please remember, what we did with Mrs. X involved no drugs, which for sure saved some wear and tear on the liver, stomach, etc.


Can We Trust the FDA?

October 13, 2009

fda-logoThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services established to regulate the release of new foods and health-related products.  Health related products includes but are not limited to medicine, cosmetics, supplements, and even certain veterinary products.  Their mission is to be responsible for ensuring that foods are safe, wholesome and sanitary; human and veterinary drugs, biological products and medical devices are safe and effective; cosmetics are safe; and electronic products that emit radiation are safe.

In a nutshell, we trust them to have our back when new products hit the market.

There have always been whispers that the FDA was ignoring the risks of artificial sweeteners, that they had been bought off by the companies that produced and used them.  MSG was another one that people have forever said the FDA is looking the other way despite mounting evidence that it may not be all that great for you.

Most of these claims were written off to conspiracy theorists with nothing better to do…..until now.

The FDA recently came out and admitted that 2 senators and 2 representatives from New Jersey placed undo influence on the FDA to approve a knee operation patch made by the company ReGen Biologics, which happens to be located in New Jersey.  The well wishing senators claim that the money that was donated to their coffers, around $26,000, had nothing to do with the pressure they put on the FDA, they were merely looking out for a constituent company.

Here is how it went down.  The agency’s scientists for years unanimously ruled that this device was unsafe due to a high failure rate, forcing the patient to have another surgery.  A clinical trial of the device failed to show that it worked any better than routine surgery.  That should have been the end of it, however, the agency managers overruled the scientists and approved the device for use.

The FDA’s report said that its Office of Legislation began receiving calls from members of Congress in December 2007 complaining about its review of the device, and the office’s director “described the pressure from the Hill as the most extreme he had seen.”

With all this pressure from the Congress the FDA caved and approved a device that does not appear to work.  The San Antonio Spurs, of the NBA, orthopedic physician Dr. David R. Schmidt said he was involved in the original clinical trial of ReGen’s Menaflex device and concluded that patients did not benefit. He said he was surprised that the FDA approved it.

In January, the Government Accountability Office concluded that it was long past time that the agency demanded that manufacturers prove that all complex devices are safe and effective before being approved for sale.

What should we make of this?  Do we need more oversight?  Do we really want politicians placing calls to the FDA to approve things that shouldn’t get approved?

Hopefully in the future these agencies can stay above the fray of campaign finance and rule on things as they see fit.


Doctors Getting Paid To Market Drugs

October 5, 2009
Drug Marketing

Drug Marketing

A while back I wrote a post on a drug company, Eli Lilly, using ghost writers to write favorable articles and having doctor’s sign their names to them as if they had written them.  You can read that here.  At best it is a murky situation.

Recently, Eli Lilly was back in the news here in Boston, when the Boston Globe reported that at least 60 area doctors received more than a half million dollars in speakers fees.

A very common practice in the drug industry is to hire physicians as speakers , provide them with the literature on the drug they are marketing, and turn them loose speaking on behalf of the company that hired them.

Imagine the difference in credibility between a drug salesman and a renowned doctor.  When that doctor, whom may be at the top of their field, speaks people will listen.  The drug companies know this and have very smartly used the doctor’s credibility to help them push drugs through these talks.  The question I have is this:  Hasn’t that doctor become nothing more that a glorified drug salesman?  Is their credibility now under fire?  I think it has to be and I am not alone in those thoughts.

Mass General researcher, Eric Campbell found out that 16% of all US doctors and 25% of hospital department heads belong to one speaking bureau or another.  Mr Campbell is quoted as saying, “Academics who want to be drug salesmen should go be drug salesman. But don’t do it under the shroud of academia.’’

Everyone from politicians to other physicians are voicing concern that these company paid doctors cannot give unbiased information, whether that may be downplaying the side effects of a drug or not talking about the generic equivalent which would cost less.

What do these doctor’s whom are paid this money say?  They claim they vet all information and would only present material that they believe in, even if the company is the one providing the material.  They also claim these talks are great ways to educate other doctors about new drugs.  Although one doctor did admit he was doing the talks in order to cover his children’s college tuition.

The public is starting to wake up to this and put pressure on these companies to disclose their financial relationship with doctors.  To their credit Eli Lilly released a list of all their paid speakers.  Good for them, it is nice to see that the much asked for transparency is starting to become reality.

Because of this debate and other problems – pharmaceutical firms have paid millions in fines for illegally marketing medications – companies are under political pressure to disclose their financial relationships with doctors. Lilly is one of the first companies to publicly release a list of paid consultants and speakers.

In January the FDA reported they were fining Eli Lilly 1.4 billion dollars for illegally marketing a drug.  That is a lot of money until you realize that Eli Lilly did 20.38 billion in sales in 2008.

The drug they are getting fined over….in 2006 did 4.7 billion in sales.

Now let me ask you this, if I told you I would let you market a drug to 4.7 billion in sales, but if you get caught you would have to pay a fine of 1.4 billion would you take that deal?  Darn right you would.

Paying doctors to market drugs needs a complete overhaul.  We need to be demanding complete transparency.  Good for Eli Lilly to be the first one to do it, let’s hope it keeps going.


If You Try My Free Cream I Will Make You 7 Feet Tall!

August 10, 2009

You cannot go anywhere on the web without seeing these crazy ads.

  • Learn this one rule and lose 3 pounds tomorrow!
  • Learn how this Boston Mom got whiter teeth!

I never thought anything about them until a couple of patients came in this last month and had fallen prey to these shysters.

If you are unfamiliar with internet marketing, it can be a world of sleazy, bait and switch scammers.  The key component to these programs is offering you a free trial that is really never free.  You pay a very modest amount for shipping and handling, somewhere between $1.95 and $7.95.  If you agree to this they got you.

In the super fine print you are agreeing to spend a lot of money for a product that at best is of questionable

snake-oil-cableseffectiveness.  Here is a sample of the fine print on one of the weight loss flogs (fake blog):

Start your FREE Trial today and we will send you a full 30 day supply of the xxxxx Acai Weight Loss System dietary supplements. Just pay $3.95 in shipping and processing. You will have 14 days to try the xxxxx Acai Weight Loss System dietary supplements and discover why they are the perfect weight loss dietary supplements for you. If you like how our dietary supplements help reduce body fat, boost metabolism and control your appetite, do nothing. At the end of your free trial period you will be charged the discounted price of $79.95If for any reason the dietary supplements are not for you, call xxxxxx Acai Customer Care toll free at 1–xxx–xxx–xxxx within your 14 day free trial period to cancel. Then simply return the product (even if it is empty!) and you will NEVER be billed any additional amount. No commitments, no hassles.
Plus, if you decide to keep the xxxxx Acai Weight Loss System dietary supplements, you will receive FREE acceptance in Club xxxxx Acai and will receive a fresh supply of the xxxxx Acai Weight Loss System dietary supplements approximately every 30 days at the same low price of $79.95, plus $3.95 for shipping. You can cancel anytime by calling xxxxx Acai Customer Care. No risk, no obligation, cancel any time!

If you click on a couple of these ads you notice a running theme.  With the exception of a few personal twists thrown in the stories, pics and even comments on the flog are identical.  Here is the running theme:

  • Personal story of how the mom gained all her weight, almost all blamed having kids
  • They all tried a bunch of different diets, need I tell you none of them worked, try to hide your shock
  • Picture of them at their heaviest, right before they tried the magic potion; of course they throw in a picture of how fabulous they look now, after taking the magic potion
  • Every one of them just happened to tune into Oprah on the day that Dr. Oz spoke of the Acai berry
  • Saw Dr. Oz the next day on TV talking about another product that would also help lose weight
  • They all like Dr. Oz and Oprah, so much in fact they all wrote about it; here is the writing from 3 of these flogs, does anything strike you as similar here?

I liked Oprah and Dr. Oz because they themselves were not trying to peddle some product themselves. Oprah and Dr. Oz was trying to get the public understand the health benefits simply taking either an Acai berries or a Colon Cleanse supplement pills. And Rachael Ray did it herself!

What I most like about Oprah and Dr. Oz is that they were not promoting a specific product. They really just wanted to get the word out about the health benefits of using Acai berry and Colon cleanse supplements.

I liked Oprah and Dr. Oz because they themselves were not trying to peddle some product themselves. Oprah and Dr. Oz was trying to get the public understand the health benefits simply taking either an Acai berries or a Simple Cleanser supplement pills. And Rachael Ray did it herself!

Hopefully by now I have convinced you these sites are scams.  Not only is the site a scam, the product does not work as advertised.  It has gotten so out of control that both Dr. Oz and Rachel Ray have had to come out with statements that they do not endorse these products and their lawyers are going after the scammers.

If you do any sort of google search you will see tons of sites out there with people telling how they couldn’t get rid of the charges.  Some even had to go as far as switching bank accounts as some of these companies are not located in the US and are not subject to our laws.

Wait, Dr. Kevin, those flogs all had tons of comments that were universal in their love for the product.  Umm yeah, those comments are fake and if you go to any number of the sites, you will see identical comments.  This has gotten so out of control that the FTC is now stepping in and dropping the hammer on these sites.

Lastly, if you have been scammed by one of these sites please contact your bank/credit card and see what they can do.  If you are insistent on trying one of these products and they ask for your bank account information including routing and account number…..never ever give them those, you will be changing bank accounts shortly and that is a pain.

If after all this you still need to try one of these products, do yourself a favor and go buy a Visa gift card and use that for your trial.  If you like the product you can switch to something else after a period of time, that way you are protected in case you don’t like the product and don’t want to go through the hassle of canceling.

Please remember, if it sounds to good to be true it almost always is, except for when hear about how awesome I am.  That is the 100% truth!!!!


Is This Bad Economy a Good Thing?

July 30, 2009

Crazy right, how could there be a silver lining in the economy cloud?  Well if you are a little older in age and this economy has forced you to rethink retiring, it may be saving your brain.

There is a promising study out of Britain that studied  medical records of 382 men whose Alzheimer’s symptoms emerged around age 75. They found that, all other factors being equal, the symptoms were delayed about seven weeks for each extra year the men worked.

It is very perplexing as to why certain people stay mentally sharp and others aren’t.  There is some thought that people posses a trait called cognitive reserve.  The reserve refers to the brains ability to cope with damage.  The more damage, the greater the chance of Alzheimer’s.   The theory is the more you expose yourself to mentally challenging activities, things like; education, work, and volunteering, the more reserve you build.  The more reserve you have the better the chance you have off fending off memory loss and dementia.

Unfortunately there is not easy answer as to how much is the right amount.

If you are looking to keep active here are some great choices:

  • Volunteer.  There are so many organizations that need your time.  This is a win win.  You help out a worthy organization and keep your brain charged up.  Get more information here…http://www.volunteermatch.org/
  • Get a pet.  Especially if you are alone.  There are a lot of studies out that show having someone to care for at home will help with fighting dementia.
  • Work part time.  There are companies out there that would love to have a reliable, nice person working for them

What does not appear to have any benefit are the brain exercise products, often sold as computer based games.  A Rhode Island company, reviewed all of the existing trials on such products and concluded in a study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia this spring that loss of memory was not helped with these products.

Shameless plug.  There is some talk that better blood flow to the brain equates to a lower chance of getting a certain type of Alzheimer’s.  Chiropractors improve the bio mechanics in the neck area, thus improving blood flow to that region.  Is this a cure, most definitely not.  Is there a chance it could help….we’ll see.

The one thing that everyone can agree on…get and stay active.  Use it or lose it does not apply only to muscles, it appears to also do the brain a lot of good.

What are you or a loved one doing to stay active?  Please comment below.


Seatbelts Save Lives

July 5, 2009

Woke up this morning to this headline in the Boston Herald….Eight killed in wrecks before dawn

For anyone who knows me, inexplicably, I am a huge NASCAR fan. I watch the race, the minor league races, the talk shows, I even read websites about it. I have often joked that I would pick going to the Daytona 500 over most any other sporting event.

To make this more of a conundrum, I barely know which side of the screwdriver to hold, never mind having any knowledge of cars. It is the science of the sport that absolutely fascinates me and today’s post is about the safety side.

When I went to bed last night, at the conclusion of the NASCAR race from Daytona, Kyle Busch, one of the sports biggest stars, had just got turned into the wall at 180+ MPH. His car then spun, was struck from behind, spun again and was hit even harder on the drivers side door. Again all of this at 180+ MPH. His car was totally destroyed. A few weeks prior to that Carl Edwards, another huge star, got hit, spun, hit again, his car went into the air, flipped, hit a fence before finally landing on the track. Again his car was totally destroyed.

What a car looks like after getting hit at 180 MPH

What a car looks like after getting hit at 180 MPH

The common theme in these two 180+ MPH wrecks is that both drivers walked away. Carl Edwards even made a big show of jogging across the finish line, not 15 seconds after his car stopped.

How is it possible that these two guys walk away from their wrecks, yet 8 people were killed last night, July 4th, in wrecks where people weren’t going near half their speed?

After I read the headline of the article, I found this later in the piece…”A common thread in the tragic, predawn carnage was that none of the drivers or passengers in the deadliest accidents in Walpole and Attleboro were wearing safety belts while driving at high speeds.

When a NASCAR driver gets behind the wheel, he does so knowing that this race could be his last. The possibility of death stares him right in the face.  In order to give these drivers a much better chance to survive these crashes a complex safety system is used.  The drivers are basically strapped into their seats.  Trust me when I tell you this, there is not much wiggle room.  There is a 5 point seat-belt and even their helmets are attached to the seat.  A window netting is also included to prevent arms from coming outside of the car.

When a young driver gets behind the wheel, I suspect they are more pre occupied with how they look in the car versus how safe they are.  No wonder parents can’t sleep when their kids are out late.

The safety devices available to a driver pale in comparison to what you would find in a typical NASCAR car, however, since the speeds are hopefully only 1/3 of what they will drive, they are more than sufficient if used properly.

There are 4 key points to safety within the car:

  1. Seat-belt
  2. Airbag
  3. Seat
  4. ABS

Seat-belt.  To not wear your seat-belt is shear idiocy.  There is absolutely no excuse.  Plainly stated the seat-belt will keep you in the car.  It will also keep you in your seat and off the steering wheel or windshield.  You must use the lap and shoulder belts.  This point is not open for debate.

Airbag.  If you strike something hard enough the airbag will deploy.  While this will make a sound and you will smell something odd, these are very effective at keeping your head off the windshield and steering wheel.  Word of caution, short people need to sit as far from the steering wheel as possible, maybe even consider getting pedal extenders.  Same for pregnant women, you don’t want the airbag striking you with too much force, it is best to sit as far back as you can.

Seats.  The seat is designed to absorb the energy if you crash.  In order for it to work properly, you must have the seat as upright as possible and have your head no more than 1 inch from the headrest.  The headrest should also be high up enough so your entire head touches it, don’t just leave it on the seat.  Riding like the gangsta with the seat all the way back and you leaning forward has to end.

ABS.  These are standard on most cars today.  These brakes will allow you to continue steering in the case where you need to stop quickly.  One note of caution, these brakes only work if you keep the pedal depressed.  DO NOT pump these types of brakes.  When you have these brakes all the way pressed down, sometimes they will vibrate or pulse, that means they are doing their job, don’t let up.  If the car that you are looking at buying does not come with ABS, please consider another model.  If you must choose between the moon roof and the ABS, please choose the ABS.

If you know you are going to get in an accident there are a couple of things you can do to try and lessen the imapct of the crash.  Begin by forcing your head against the head rest, while looking straight.  The second thing you can do is tense for the crash, this goes against the old advice of staying loose.  Lastly, if you are in a postion to try and avoid the accident, focus on where you want to go.  If you want to stay on the road and avoid the trees, focus on the road and do your best to ignore the trees.  You will be shocked at how effective this is.

Hey wait, that sounds like life advice also, focus on where you want to go…………

Your state of mind may be the most important tool in your arsenal of safety.  Driving while drinking, under the influence of drugs, tired, angry, or now dialing/talking on the cell and texting is severly limiting your chances of staying out of an accident.  Changing the radio station and eating are also distractions that you must be very careful with.

If you do get in an accident please check in with your doctor right away.  If the accident is bad enough a trip to the ER is a good idea for a set of x-rays.  In most cases you will not need a neck brace, those have been shown to increase scar tissue formation and actually slow down healing.

Lastly, please slow down.  Driving 50 on a road designed for 30 is going to get you in trouble.

If you have any questions you can always ask here through the comments or give me a call at the number above.