20. September 2016 · Comments Off on Chiropractic Patients Recover Faster, Spend Less Money · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Lower Back Pain

Back pain is an expensive health problem for both patients and businesses. A 2012 study reported that we spend about $635 billion on pain every year, with a significant amount of that spent on back pain. Over the years, quite a few studies have shown that chiropractic care is more effective for back pain than medical care, plus chiropractic patients spend less money on their care than medical patients do.

Because back pain is such a common problem, a group of Canadian researchers recently investigated the role that the type of primary caregiver has on financial compensation.

This was a large study of 5,511 patients who experienced a work-related back injury in Ontario, Canada. The patients saw the following providers for their first visit:

  • 85.3% saw a medical doctor
  • 11.4% saw a chiropractor
  • 3.2% saw a physical therapist

The authors set out to “compare the duration of financial compensation for back pain” among patients from each care group.

The study found that chiropractic patients had the shortest amount of time receiving compensation for their pain and also were less likely to have a recurrence.

In addition, chiropractic patients didn’t need to see other healthcare providers for their pain. 75% of chiropractic patients saw no other provider, while 58.6% of physical therapy patients also saw a medical doctor.

The authors conclude:

“The type of healthcare provider first visited for back pain is a determinant of the duration of financial compensation during the first 5 months. Chiropractic patients experience the shortest duration of compensation, and physiotherapy patients experience the longest.”

Blanchette M, Rivard M, Dionne CE, et al. Association between the type of first healthcare provider and the duration of financial compensation for occupational back pain. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 2016 Sep 17.

02. February 2016 · Comments Off on Lean Forward – Fall Down! · Categories: Latest News

Research Shows You Must Stand Taller to Keep Standing Longer

“Old Posture” is the phrase we use to communicate to patients the flexed-forward head, flexed-forward torso posture commonly associated with aging. Consequences of “Old Posture” include increased fall risk, and, especially for older individuals, the risk of a life-changing fracture goes up as well.

According to de Groot et al, (2013), motor function breaks down and fall risk goes up in those people who develop flexed forward head protrusion and an increased thoracic kyphosis with age.

de Groot’s team noted that increased thoracic kyphosis brings the body’s center of mass forward, requiring a reflexive response to maintain balance. In addition to training muscles and molding ligaments into flexed posture, this also reduces the ability to respond to unexpected changes and perturbation, further setting the stage for falls. A corresponding loss of other unused muscle patterns explains the observed higher variation in the gait pattern in flexed-posture patients.

Conclusions (from deGroot et al):

  • “Impairments in postural control during walking are a major risk factor for falling,” and
  • “These impairments may affect motor function, and consequently increase the risk of falling and fractures.”

The collapse of the kinetic box we call “Old Posture” was also previously described by Vladimir Janda as an Upper Cross syndrome model.

BOTTOM LINE: Regardless of the label, the more a body is falling forward, the likelier it is to fall down. And the likelier it becomes that the person doesn’t get up.


CITED STUDY

de Groot, M. H., van der Jagt-Willems, H. C., van Campen, J. P., Lems, W. F., Beijnen, J. H., & Lamoth, C. J. (2013). A flexed posture in elderly patients is associated with impairments in postural control during walking. Gait & Posture, 39(2), 767-72. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.10.015. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24268470

12. December 2015 · Comments Off on Chiropractic Can Help Improve Quality of Life for Seniors · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Wellness

Chiropractic Can Help Improve Quality of Life for Seniors

Chiropractic great for senior citizensThe late Baseball Hall of Famer Casey Stengel once said, “The trick is growing up without growing old.” If you’re over the age of 65 (which roughly 13 percent of the United States population is), you’ve likely pondered this same notion at least once in your life as newly released information published by PLOS One reveals that this particular age group has many complaints when it comes to the aging process.

In this study, 7,285 individuals 75 years of age and older indicated that they experienced issues with walking, standing, seeing clearly, cognitive function, pain, weakness, and more. Additionally, the more complaints a person had, the lower their functional outcomes and quality of life.

Since the number of seniors is expected to rise from roughly 13 percent of the population to over 20 percent by the year 2050, that makes these types of issues a major concern for individuals in this age range. Fortunately, chiropractic can help as a number of studies have found that this particular healthcare remedy provides many benefits for people as they age.

For example, one study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine involved 19 people over the age of 40 who struggled with issues related to balance, neck pain, and dizziness–three common complaints of growing older. However, after just eight weeks of chiropractic care, researchers noted “a clinically meaningful change” in the participants’ levels of dizziness, as well as noting improvement in their neck disability, level of pain, and balance.

Chiropractic has also been found to help older individuals with multiple other health concerns. In one specific case which was also published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, an 83-year-old male with “a history of leukemia, multiple compression fractures, osteoporosis, and degenerative joint disease” was studied. Based on his physical condition, he reported his pain being 10 out of 10 on a pain scale and he also indicated that he suffered with spasms and tenderness in his lower back, making it very difficult to care for his disabled wife.

After receiving eight treatments using Activator Methods protocol, the patient stated that his pain dropped to 4 out of 10 (6 pain points in total) and that he no longer experienced pain or spasms in his spine. As a result, he was able to more easily care for his wife.

Regular spinal manipulations offer many benefits such as these for seniors, which ultimately means living a higher quality of life. Perhaps chiropractic is the trick to growing up without growing old?

Resources

  • Raphel A. (2014, August 5). Trends and statistics relating to U.S. seniors, elderly: Census Bureau 2014 report. Journalist’s Resource. 
  • Roberts JA, Wolfe TM. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for a geriatric patient with low back pain and comorbidities of cancer, compression fractures, and osteoporosis. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2012;11(1):16-23.
  • Strunk RG, Hawk C. Effects of chiropractic care on dizziness, neck pain, and balance: a single-group, preexperimental, feasibility study. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2009;8(4):156-64.
  • van Blijswijk SC, Chan OY, van Houwelingen AH, et al. Self-Reported Hindering Health Complaints of Community-Dwelling Older Persons: A Cross-Sectional Study. PLOS One 2015;10(11):e0142416.
05. November 2015 · Comments Off on Osteoarthritis and Chiropractic Care · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News

Osteoarthritis and Chiropractic Care

Numerous studies have shown that chiropractic can be an effective treatment for lumbar spinal pain. A new study describes the previously reported benefits of chiropractic:

“Giles and Muller compared the outcomes of acupuncture, medication, and spinal manipulation on spinal pain syndromes. Only spinal manipulation led to significant improvement. One report states that 73% of the patients who sought pain relief treatment from both a rheumatologist and an alternative form of medicine found chiropractic care to be helpful. It may be reasonably concluded that chiropractic care is a successful treatment for lower back pain.”

No previous study, however, has examined the effectiveness of chiropractic for back pain symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis. This current report set out to do just that, by comparing chiropractic treatment to moist heat treatment. Previous studies have shown that application of heat to the affected area is an effective self-management tool for arthritis symptoms.

The authors of this study recruited 252 patients with osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine; subjects were excluded if they were currently receiving chiropractic care, physical therapy, or were using anti-inflammatory medications.

The patients were divided into two groups: the treatment group received 20 chiropractic treatments with 15 minutes of moist heat; the control group received only the moist heat treatments. The subjects were evaluated at 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 weeks for pain levels, activities of daily living , and range of motion.

The study found significant improvements in the patients who were given the chiropractic/moist heat treatments, as illustrated by the following graph that shows average extension of the spine measured at each evaluation point:

Chiropractic helpful for osteoarthritis
Here is a summary of the other findings:

  • Chiropractic was significantly more effective in reducing pain than moist heat alone, even though both treatments reduced pain to some degree.
  • The study examined right and left lateral flexion, average flexion, and average extension. “Chiropractic care plus moist heat is more effective than moist heat alone for improving ROM, as measured by these particular tests.”
  • Chiropractic care was also more effective in improving daily activities, while moist heat alone did not improve activities of daily living.

The authors conclude:

“There are no studies in the literature that evaluate the effectiveness of chiropractic care in the treatment of OA. We found that chiropractic care was significantly better than moist heat alone for the treatment of OA. Although moist heat did improve low back pain, there is a more rapid and greater decline in pain under the treatment condition than with moist heat alone. The chiropractic treatment group also showed a more rapid and greater increase in range and flexion scores. With the exception of standing, sleeping, and sexual activity, chiropractic treatment participants reported a statistically significant improvement in their ADL.”

  1. Beyerman KL, Palmerino MB, Zohn LE, Kane GM, Foster KA. Efficacy of treating low back pain and dysfunction secondary to osteoarthritis: chiropractic care compared with moist heat alone. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2006;29:107-114.
  2. Veitiene D, Tamulaitiene M. Comparison of self-management methods for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 2005;(37)1:58-60.

 

01. October 2015 · Comments Off on 7 Reasons Why Chiropractic is About Wellness · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Wellness

7 Reasons Why Chiropractic is About Wellness

When most of us think about seeing our chiropractor, we think about getting help with back pain or some other kind of musculoskeletal problem. But did you know that chiropractic is also a great way to improve your general health and wellness?

The core concept of chiropractic is to restore the function of your nervous system so that it can do what’s it’s designed to do: keeping your body healthy and active. Chiropractic is truly about prevention. If you keep your nervous system working smoothly and without interference, many health issues become non-issues!

Don’t take our word for it, though. Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of scientific research that shows that chiropractic is good for much more than just aches and pains. Here’s a review of some of this literature.

1 – Chiropractic Boosts Immune Function

A 2010 study found that chiropractic adjustments actually boosted blood serum levels of some important natural antibodies in patients. The authors suggested that chiropractic adjustments might “prime” the immune system, making it easier to ward off infection and illness.

2 – Chiropractic Reduces Inflammation

Researchers in a 2011 study compared back pain patients to people with no pain and gave both groups chiropractic adjustments. The authors found that the back pain patients who received chiropractic care had dramatically lower levels of a key inflammatory cytokine, known as TNF-α. High levels of TNF-α have been linked to inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis.

3 – Chiropractic Reduces Blood Pressure

Hypertension is a huge public health issue in the US; it’s estimated that about 30% of adults suffer from this serious condition. A 2007 study in the Journal of Human Hypertension looked at a group of patients with high blood pressure. Half received received an adjustment of their atlas, and the other half received a sham adjustment.

The decrease in blood pressure was so dramatic in the patients who received real adjustments that the researchers wrote that it “is similar to that seen by giving two different anti-hypertensive agents simultaneously.” In fact, 85% of the study patients had improvement after just one adjustment!

4 – Chiropractic Reduces Stress

An interesting study by a team of Japanese researchers in 2011 gave chiropractic adjustments to 12 men and examined PET scan images and blood chemistry to examine the effect that chiropractic has on the autonomic nervous system.

After receiving a chiropractic neck adjustment, patients had altered brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for pain processing and stress reactions. They also had significantly reduced cortisol levels, indicating decreased stress. Participants also reported lower pain scores and a better quality of life after treatment.

5 – Chiropractic Improves Balance

As we age, sometimes we start to lose some of our balance, strength, and flexibility that we had in our youth. Because of this, older folks are vulnerable to serious injuries from trips and falls. Chiropractic helps keep your body active by restoring the normal, healthy functioning of your spine. One of the important roles of your spine is balance, aided by nerves called proprioceptors. These propriocepters relay information to your brain on the position of your body.

A small study from 2009 found that people who received chiropractic adjustments had reduced dizziness and improved balance. A 2015 review of the literature suggests that chiropractic care might be an effective, natural way to help prevent falls in elderly patients.

6 – Chiropractic Relieves Colic in Babies

In 2012, researchers studied 104 infants who were suffering from colic. One-third of the infants were treated with chiropractic adjustments and the parents were aware of the treatment; one-third were treated and the parents were unaware of the treatment; and one-third were untreated but the parents were anaware.

The authors found that the parents reported a significant decrease in infant crying in the treated babies, compared to the infants who didn’t receive treatment. The knowledge of the parent had no effect on the improvement.

7 – Chiropractic Relieves Asthma Symptoms

A 2013 study reported that chiropractic adjustments were effective at increasing lung functioning, and some recent research9 shows that chiropractic care can help reduce the symptoms of asthma in some children.

Reference Studies

  1. Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, McGregor M, Ruegg R, Injeyan HS. Interleukin 2-regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2010;(18)26.
  2. Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, Triano JJ, McGregor M, Woodhouse L, Injeyan HS. Elevated production of inflammatory mediators including nociceptive chemokines in patients with neck pain: a cross-sectional evaluation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2011;34(8):498-505.
  3. Bakris G, Dickholtz M Sr, Meyer PM, Kravitz G, Avery E, Miller M, Brown J, Woodfield C, Bell B. Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study. Journal of Human Hypertension 2007;21(5):347-52.
  4. Ogura, Takeshi and Manabu Tashiro, Mehedi,Shoichi Watanuki, Katsuhiko Shibuya, Keiichiro Yamaguchi, Masatoshi Itoh, Hiroshi Fukuda, Kazuhiko Yanai. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011;17(6):12-17.
  5. Strunk RG, Hawk C. Effects of chiropractic care on dizziness, neck pain, and balance: a single-group, pre-experimental, feasibility study. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2009;8(4):156–164.
  6. Kendall JC, Hartvigsen J, French SD, Azari MF. Is there a role for neck manipulation in elderly falls prevention? – An overview. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2015;9(1):53-63.
  7. Miller JE, Newell D, Bolton JE. Efficacy of chiropractic manual therapy on infant colic: a pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2012;35(8):600-7.
  8. Engel RM, Vemulpad SR, Beath K. Short-term effects of a course of manual therapy and exercise in people with moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a preliminary clinical trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013;36(8):490-6.
  9. Pepino VC, Ribeiro JD, Ribeiro MA, de Noronha M, Mezzacappa MA, Schivinski CI. Manual therapy for childhood respiratory disease: A systematic review. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013;36(1):57-65.
12. May 2015 · Comments Off on Chiropractic More Effective for Back Pain than Medical Care · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Lower Back Pain

Chiropractic More Effective for Back Pain than Medical Care

Chiropractic great for back pain

This study based used a practice-based, observational model to look at the effectiveness of intervention in a selected group of patients with both acute and chronic lower back pain (LBP).  It compared the efficacy of chiropractic intervention with standard medical care in both types of LBP.

2780 patients were enrolled in the study over a 2-year period (1994 to 1996) from the practices of 60 DCs (1855 patients) and 111 MDs (925 patients) in 51 chiropractic and 14 general practice clinics. Patient data was obtained at the initial visit through a questionnaire administered in person, and the patients were followed up with 7 mailed questionnaires at regular intervals over a period of 4 years. Mailings were sent at 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year after the initial visit. In phase 2, patients were followed up at 24, 36, and 48 months.

Patients were eligible if LBP was their primary complaint, and was of mechanical origin; they were excluded if manipulation was contraindicated, or the back pain was of nonmechanical origin (such as from organic referred pain).  Acute patients were those whose back pain was of less than 7 weeks duration; chronic back pain patients were those whose back pain was of 7 weeks duration or longer.

The physicians in the study delivered a variety of treatment methods. Chiropractic physicians gave care that included spinal manipulation, physical therapy, an exercise plan, and self-care education. Medical physicians gave care that included prescription drugs, an exercise plan, and self-care advice; roughly 25% of these patients were referred for physical therapy.

The primary outcomes measured were present pain severity, and functional disability, which were measured by questionnaires mailed to the patients at the above stated intervals.

The medical patients showed more severe baseline pain and disability when entering treatment, greater prevalence of pain radiating below the knee, and poorer general health status, than in patients treated by chiropractors. These differences were more pronounced in the chronic patients than in the acute patients.

A modest advantage was seen for DC care when compared with MD care in pain relief for the first 12 months. This difference was very small for acute LBP, but was greater for those with chronic LBP during the first year of treatment. There were no differences for patients cared for between 12 and 24 months. Trends in disability were similar to the pain trends, but were of smaller magnitude.

There was an advantage chiropractic care in chronic patients with pain radiating below the knee, and some small advantages were also seen in the acute patient group. Differences were also seen in chronic patients with no leg pain during the first 3 months of care. There were no differences in the 2 groups and the 2 types of medical care for pain radiating above the knee.

All patient groups saw clinically significant improvement in pain and disability over the course of treatment. Acute patients saw greater improvement, with many obtaining near complete relief of their symptoms. Most achieved symptom relief by 3 months, followed by a plateau through 12 months. This was followed by significant, clinical aggravation of pain at 12 to 24 months, with another plateau until 4 years. Little increase in disability was seen between 12 and 48 months.

Of note, at 3 years into the study, 45% to 75% of patients noted at least 30 days of pain during the previous year, even in those who had gained significant pain and disability relief through early intervention. 19% to 27% of chronic LBP patients noted daily pain during the previous year.

  • Early interevention reduces chronic pain. Those who received early intervention for acute lower back pain, at 3 years after the initial injury, reported fewer days of back pain than those who waited longer for intervention. This would support providing early intervention for patients with acute back pain, since outcomes were better than in those who delayed treatment.
  • Chiropractic is beneficial for certain kinds of pain. Chiropractic care was more effective than standard medical care in certain situations: during the first 12 months in patients with chronic lower back pain, and for the treatment of LBP with pain radiating below the knee. The majority of the relief was obtained during the first 3 months of treatment, and was sustained throughout the first year.

Haas M, Goldberg B, Aickin M, Ganger B, Attwood M. A practice-based study of patients with acute and chronic low back pain attending primary care and chiropractic physicians: two-week to 48-month follow-up. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2004;27(3):160-169.

27. April 2015 · Comments Off on Statins vs. the Mediterranean Diet · Categories: Latest News, Nutrition

NNT for Statins vs. the Mediterranean Diet

Shereen K. Lehman, DC, MS and James Lehman, DC

 

THE NUMBER NEEDED TO TREAT NNT represents an estimate of the number of people who need to undergo the treatment of interest in order to prevent one additional adverse outcome from occurring. For example, if an intervention has an NNT of 10, it means you’d have to treat 10 people with that specific intervention to prevent one additional bad outcome.As a measurement, the NNT is considered to be more clinically useful than sorting through relative risks, odds ratios or absolute risk reduction.1 But it’s important to understand the population that was studied and what the specific outcome of interest is. For example, a medication used to prevent heart attacks from occurring will have one NNT for people who have never had a heart attack but probably a different NNT when it’s used for people who are trying to prevent a second incident.

The NNT is typically included in the results of research studies and reviews. An organization called The NNT Group reviews various therapies and diagnostic interventions and lists the findings on its website, thennt.com.

NNTs and Statins

Time frame matters too. According to The NNT Group, statin drugs given for five years, in order to prevent heart disease in people who have no history of heart disease, is 104.2 That means that 104 people have to take statins in order to prevent one extra person from having a heart attack. The NNT Group calculates the number needed to harm (NNH) as well. According to its findings, one in 50 people on statins develops diabetes and one in ten experiences muscle damage as defined as rhabdomyolysis. Undiagnosed muscle pain, such as myalgia, wasn’t included.

The picture changes when considering patients who have a history of heart disease. In this case, according to the reviewers, the statins NNT is 83 in order to prevent an additional death from occurring and 39 for preventing a nonfatal heart attack.3 The harms are the same as in the previous instance.

In comparison, the Mediterranean diet has been studied in a large randomized trial and is included on The NNT website. When followed for five years, the Mediterranean diet has an NNT of 61 for preventing stroke, heart attack or death with no harms noted.4 So, according to The NNT, the Mediterranean diet appears to be a better choice than statins for primary prevention of stroke, heart attack or death.

When the focus is shifted to studies on patients who’ve had one heart attack and are trying to prevent a second one, the NNT for the Mediterranean diet drops even lower. In fact, the NNT for preventing that repeat heart attack is 18, and the overall NNT for preventing death or cancer in this group is 30.5

Endnotes

1. Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. Number Needed to Treat (NNT). www.cebm.net/number-needed-to-treat-nnt

2. The NNT. Statins for Heart Disease Prevention (Without Prior Heart Disease). www.thennt.com/nnt/statins-for-heart-disease-prevention-without-prior-heart-disease

3. The NNT. Statins for Heart Disease Prevention (With Known Heart Disease). www.thennt.com/nnt/statins-for-heart-disease-prevention-with-known-heart-disease

4. The NNT. Mediterranean Diet for Heart Disease Prevention (Without Known Heart Disease). www.thennt.com/nnt/mediterranean-diet-for-heart-disease-prevention-without-known-heart-disease/

5. The NNT. Mediterranean Diet for Post Heart-Attack Care. www.thennt.com/nnt/mediterranean-diet-for-post-heart-attack-care/

18. February 2015 · Comments Off on Chiropractic Provides Quick Recovery in Spinal Degeneration Patients · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Lower Back Pain

Chiropractic Provides Quick Recovery in Spinal Degeneration Patients

spineblackSpinal degeneration occurs when your discs start to lose some of their fluids, sometimes causing it to leak out through any cracks that are in their outer layer, possibly creating a bulge or rupture in the disc itself. While this can occur normally with wear and tear as you age, other factors can affect its progression as well; namely, doing hard physical labor and smoking. However, it can also begin as a result of an injury, such as slipping and falling or being involved in an auto accident.

The end result is typically pain, and sometimes osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis. As more and more pressure is put on the spinal column, it can also affect other areas of your body as your nerves can become impinged, making treating this issue a necessity for a higher quality of life. Fortunately, one study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has found that chiropractic provides a quick recovery in patients with spinal degeneration—bringing hope to patients who are afflicted with this particular condition.

A group of researchers looked at 40 male participants in the 30 to 40 year age range that had been previously diagnosed with degenerative lumbar disease. They were divided evenly into two separate groups: one of which was the treatment group and one acting as a control group. The treatment group was then subjected to one spinal manipulation technique, whereas the control group received a placebo treatment.

To determine whether the treatment had any effect, researchers measured the subjects’ heights, perceived level of pain in their lower back, their neural mechanosensitivity, and their level of mobility. Some data was collected via manual tests conducted by researchers and some were collected by self-report of the study participant.

Researchers found that the treatment group noticed immediate improvements in “self-perceived pain, spinal mobility in flexion, hip flexion…and subjects’ full height.” Essentially, benefits were gained in every test area, even after just one treatment session.

Researchers further suggested that studies be conducted on women to determine if the same positive effects will be found. In the meantime, this is hopeful information for people suffering with spinal degeneration as relief may be just one chiropractic appointment away.

Vieira-Pellenz F, Oliva-Pascual-Vaca A, Rodriquez-Blanco C, et al. Short-term effect of spinal manipulation on pain perception, spinal mobility, and full height recovery in male subjects with degenerative disk disease: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2014;95:1613-19.

18. February 2015 · Comments Off on How to Recover Faster from Low-Back Pain: Stay Active! · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Lower Back Pain

How to Recover Faster from Low-Back Pain: Stay Active!

Low back pain patients who remain active are better off than those who are less active.

Researchers evaluated how patients recovered from low back pain in relation to their activity levels. Some patients were advised to “stay active” despite the pain while others were told to adjust their levels of activity based on their pain.Those who remained active ended up recovering more quickly and feeling less depressed. On the other hand, patients who adjusted their activity levels felt more depressed and were less mobile.

Researchers suggest that back pain patients remain active and continue their daily activities when possible. This will likely promote a positive outlook and increase your physical mobility to put you on the path towards recovery. Consult with a doctor in your area to learn more about how you can stay active even with back pain.

Olaya-Contreras, Patricia. Biopsychosocial analyses of acute and chronic pain, especially in the spine: The effect of distress on pain intensity and disability. Institute of Clinical Sciences at the Sahlgrenska Academy University of Gothenburg. 2011. 

31. December 2014 · Comments Off on Chiropractic Helps Senior Citizens Stay Active · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News

Chiropractic Helps Senior Citizens Stay Active

Chiropractic helps keep elderly active

Aging isn’t always easy as your risk of certain medical conditions increases and, often, your mobility decreases—both of which can lower your quality of life. Unfortunately, when you have a spinal condition, the effects can often be worse. However, research recently released in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics suggests that engaging in regular chiropractic care may offer some very specific to seniors with spine-related issues.

Researchers set out to discover the difference in outcome for seniors who engaged solely in medical treatments versus those who received chiropractic care over a year’s time. Their participants were 65+ year old Medicare recipients with at least one claim resulting in a diagnosis of a musculoskeletal disease, dislocation, sprain, or strain.

Each participant’s functional outcomes were measured according their ability to bathe, sit in or get up from a chair, dress, eat, and walk across a room. They were also asked to assess their level of difficulty with specific activities such as lifting, reaching, stooping, and walking.

Individuals were also assessed regarding their self-reported health status on a scale of one to five, as well as their level of satisfaction with the care that they received (with included happiness with both treatment and cost). Once all of this information was obtained, the study participants were differentiated between those who had used any chiropractic services during the course of the year and those who did not and opted strictly for medical care instead.

What researchers found is that the individuals who engaged in some form of chiropractic care had fewer functional limitations, less difficulty engaging in activities such as lifting and walking, and a lower number of doctor’s visits and hospitalizations. They concluded that chiropractic had a sort of “protective effect,” safeguarding them against physical deterioration.

Furthermore, patients of chiropractic were also more satisfied with their care during initial treatment as well as follow-up, the cost out-of-pocket, and the information provided to them about their condition. Therefore, this study suggests that engaging in chiropractic offers many benefits to seniors with spinal conditions, allowing them greater function and happiness as a result.

Weigel PAM, Hockenberry JM, Wolinsky FD. Chiropractic use in the Medicare Population: prevalence, patterns, and associations with 1-year changes in health and satisfaction with care. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2014;37:542-551.

28. October 2014 · Comments Off on Chiropractic Beats Physical Therapy for Back Pain · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Lower Back Pain

Chiropractic Beats Physical Therapy for Back Pain

Chiropractic Helps Patients Avoid Back Surgery, Study Shows

Many people are sent to physical therapists for back pain, but a recent study finds that chiropractic patients have better results.

Numerous studies have shown that chiropractic can be an effective treatment for patients with low back pain. Now a new report has looked further into the effectiveness of chiropractic by comparing it to physical therapy treatment, and, more significantly, studying the long-term benefits of chiropractic as measured by the annual number of office visits.

Most studies that look at long-term effects of treatment simply look at self-reported outcomes: level of pain and disability. This study took a different approach. By examining how much care patients sought after the initial study period, they could determine the effect each treatment method had on future health care consumption:

“Care seeking behavior by patients with low back pain is most commonly associated with increased pain and disability, meaning more care is sought when worse symptoms are experienced. The amount of health care utilized may therefore be used as a measure of patient health status, and thus may be compared between groups of patients to determine effectiveness of certain therapies.”

The authors started with 191 patients with low back pain. 107 patients received chiropractic care and 84 patients received active exercise therapy  from physical therapists. All patients received treatment 2 to 4 times per week for four weeks. The study subjects were then followed for one year to assess outcomes. The authors found:

38% of the chiropractic care patients and 54% of the physical therapy patients sought care for their back pain during the one-year follow-up. Chiropractic patients had an average of 2.2 visits to a health care provider after the treatment period, while physical therapy patients had an average of 6 visits.

“We hypothesized that there would be no group difference in the average number of visits to any health care provider. The results demonstrated that actually there were significant group differences during the year after trial participation, with a higher number of visits to any health care provider and to a general practitioner in the EP group.”

The authors conclude:

“Based on one-year follow-up data imputed for complete analysis, participants who received physical therapy (exercise program) during a clinical trial attended a higher number of visits to any health care provider and to general practitioners during the year after care when compared to participants who received chiropractic care (flexion distraction) within the trial.”

  1. Cambron JA, Gudavalli MR, McGregor M, et al. Amount of health care and self-care following a randomized clinical trial comparing flexion-distraction with exercise program for chronic low back pain. Chiropractic and Osteopathy 2006:14:19.
  2. Proctor TJ, Mayer TG, Gatchel RJ, McGreary DD: Unremitting health care utilization outcomes of tertiary rehabilitation of patients with chronic musculoskeletal disorders. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 2004, 86A:62-69.
15. July 2014 · Comments Off on Overweight? Don’t blame it on overeating · Categories: Latest News, Nutrition

Overweight? Don’t blame it on overeating

weightlossPick up most any weight loss book and one of the first things the authors usually address is scaling back on portion sizes and reducing your calorie intake. However, Medical News Today reports that a study just published by the American Journal of Medicine now points to lack of exercise as the biggest culprit in the growing obesity crisis, potentially changing the focal point behind what it takes to get thin.

Researchers from Stanford University analyzed data from 22 years of eating, exercise, and obesity among participants involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Between 1988 and 2010, some interesting trends developed:

  • A yearly rise in body-mass index (BMI) for both males and females, approximately 37% annually for each
  • Growing waistlines for women at the rate of 0.37% and for men at the slightly lower rate of 0.27%

According to conventional weight loss wisdom, one may attribute these increases to the prevalence of fast food, super-sizing, and more emotional eating to deal with the stressors so common today, but the researchers found that daily caloric intake didn’t really change all that much in this two-decade time span. What did change, though, is the amount of exercise people were getting (or, actually, the amount that they were not getting).

When the data was examined, researchers discovered that the number of sedentary people went from just over 19% to over 50%, or, more than double. If this trend continues, by the end of the century, hardly anyone will be exercising and obesity will be almost unstoppable, raising mortality rates through the roof and depriving our children and grandchildren from living long and healthy lives. This adds to research published last year showing that 80% of Americans fail to meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity.

Certainly, eating nutritious foods is still part of a healthy lifestyle, as is engaging in regular chiropractic care, but so too is getting physically active. It’s not just your health that depends on it. It’s your life.

Reference

Uri Ladabaum, et al. Obesity, abdominal obesity, physical activity, and caloric intake in US adults: 1988-2010. The American Journal of Medicine 2014.

18. March 2014 · Comments Off on 90% of Herniated Discs Improve with Chiropractic · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Lower Back Pain

90% of Herniated Discs Improve with Chiropractic

 90% of Herniated Discs Improve with Chiropractic A new study confirms the vast majority of patients with lumbar disc herniation can find relief with chiropractic care. The findings show that 90% of patients report substantial improvements within three months of receiving their first chiropractic adjustment.

The results are encouraging, since more research is raising questions about the safety and effectiveness of epidural steroid injections for the long-term management of lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and sciatica. The study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics, shows that both chronic and acute herniated discs can be effectively treated by chiropractors.

Researchers conducted a study of 148 patients with MRI-confirmed lumbar disc herniation causing back pain, sciatica, and radiating leg symptoms. The majority of patients (79) suffered from chronic LDH, lasting longer than three months. Thirty seven patients had LDH for fewer than four weeks at the start of the study.

Chiropractors treated the patients with specific spinal manipulations based on individual characteristics, including results from the MRI that demonstrated the area and type of herniated disc. After two weeks, most patients (70%) had significantly improved disability and pain. By the three-month mark, 90.5% had substantial improvements in disability and pain, and that percentage stabilized at the six-month and one-year evaluations.

The researchers pointed out that these improvements cannot be attributed to natural history alone. Earlier studies have suggested that that typical prognosis for acute disc herniation is favorable, with 36% showing significant improvements after two weeks. However the acute patients in this study had faster improvements, with 80% significantly improved after two weeks, and 94.5% after three months.

Other studies have shown that chiropractic care can also assist patients suffering from recurrent lumbar disc herniation also called failed back pain surgery syndrome. Cumulatively this research suggests that patients can benefit from chiropractic for LDH, regardless whether their herniated disc is acute, chronic, or recurrent.

 

Reference

Lee, Serafin. Outcomes of acute and chronic patients with magnetic resonance imaging-confirmed symptomatic lumbar disc herniation receiving high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulation therapy: a prospective observational cohort study with one year follow-up. Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics 2014. doi 10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.12.011. http://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(14)00034-7/abstract.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off on Eggs Don’t Cause Heart Attacks — Sugar Does · Categories: Latest News, Nutrition

Eggs Don’t Cause Heart Attacks — Sugar Does

by

It’s over. The debate is settled.

It’s sugar, not fat, that causes heart attacks.

Oops. Fifty years of doctors’ advice and government eating guidelines have been wrong. We’ve been told to swap eggs for Cheerios. But that recommendation is dead wrong. In fact, it’s very likely that this bad advice has killed millions of Americans.

A rigorously done new study shows that those with the highest sugar intake had a four-fold increase in their risk of heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intakes. That’s 400%! Just one 20-ounce soda increases your risk of a heart attack by about 30%.

This study of more than 40,000 people, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, accounted for all other potential risk factors including total calories, overall diet quality, smoking, cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and alcohol.

This follows on the heels of decades of research that has been mostly ignored by the medical establishment and policy makers. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends getting no more than 25% of your total calories from added sugar. Really?? This study showed that your risk of heart attacks doubles if sugar makes up 20% of your calories.

Yet more than 70% of Americans consume 10% of their daily calories from sugar. And about 10% of Americans consume one in every four of their calories from sugar.

Failed Dietary Guidelines

U.S. Dietary Guidelines provide no limit for added sugar, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still lists sugar as a “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) substance. That classification lets the food industry add unlimited amounts of sugar to our food. At least the American Heart Association recommends that our daily diet contain no more than 5% to 7.5% added sugar. Yet most of us are eating a lot more. Most of us don’t know that a serving of tomato sauce has more sugar than a serving of Oreo cookies, or that fruit yogurt has more sugar than a Coke, or that most breakfast cereals — even those made with whole grain — are 75% sugar. That’s not breakfast, it’s dessert!

This is a major paradigm shift. For years, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that fat causes heart attacks and raises cholesterol, and that sugar is harmless except as a source of empty calories. They are not empty calories. As it turns out, sugar calories are deadly calories. Sugar causes heart attacks, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia, and is the leading cause of liver failure in America.

The biggest culprit is sugar-sweetened beverages including sodas, juices, sports drinks, teas and coffees. They are by far the single biggest source of sugar calories in our diet. In fact, more than 37% of our sugar calories come from soda. The average teenage boy consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar a day, or about 544 calories from sugar. Even more troubling, this isn’t just putting kids at risk for heart attacks at some remote later date in their lives. It’s killing them before their 20th birthday.

This new research syncs with decades of data on how sugar causes insulin resistance, high triglycerides, lower HDL (good) cholesterol and dangerous small LDL (bad) cholesterol. It also triggers the inflammation we now know is at the root of heart disease.

And fats, including saturated fats, have been unfairly blamed. With the exception of trans fats, fats are actually protective. This includes omega-3 fats, nuts and olive oil, which was proven to reduce heart attack risk by more than 30% in a recent large randomized controlled study.

Here’s the simple fact: Sugar calories are worse than other calories. All calories are not created equal. A recent study of more than 175 countries found that increasing overall calories didn’t increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but increasing sugar calories did — dramatically.

How to Cure Our Sugar Addiction

America lags far behind the rest of the world in addressing this problem. Mexico, for example, responded after learning that when soda consumption increased to 20% of calories for the average citizen, their rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes skyrocketed. Public health officials there researched effective solutions to combat obesity and diabetes from around the world.

The key interventions they implemented included taxing soda, banning junk food television advertising, and eliminating processed foods, junk food and sugar-sweetened beverages from schools. More than 15 countries have targeted sugar-sweetened beverages by taxing them — a strategy that’s proven successful.

Another effective strategy is revamping food labeling to make it clear if a food is good, should be consumed with caution, or is bad for you. In the United States, even someone with a Ph.D. in nutrition has trouble deciphering food labels. How can the average person be expected to know?

Recent and mounting scientific evidence clearly proves that sugar — and flour, which raises blood sugar even more than table sugar — is biologically addictive. In fact, it’s as much as eight times more addictive than cocaine.

The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour a year. It’s imperative that we revamp our outdated and dangerous national dietary guidelines. And we need clear strategies and medical programs to help people understand and address the health risks and addictive nature of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

That’s how we can reverse this tsunami of obesity and chronic disease that is robbing us of our health and crippling our economy.

In my new book, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, which will be released on February 25, I provide an easy, step-by-step plan to rid yourself of sugar addiction and reverse your risk of heart attacks. To download a sneak preview of this book, go to www.10daydetox.com and pre-order the book on Amazon.

Wishing you health and happiness, Mark Hyman, MD

10. February 2014 · Comments Off on Neck Adjustments Effective for Cervicogenic Headache · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Neck Pain

Most people with chronic headache depend on medication to get by, but a recent study reminds us of the power of drug-free treatments.

Cervicogenic headache is estimated to affect between 20-25% of the adult population, but because the symptoms often mimic migraine and tension-type headache, the diagnosis can be easily overlooked.

This headache type is caused by musculoskeletal impairments in the cervical spine, or neck, that cause pain at the base of the skull or above the eyes. Patients also often report dizziness and lightheadedness. Both invasive and non-invasive treatments are available for CGH, but more research was needed to confirm the effectiveness of non-invasive approaches.

A recent study included a meta-analysis of six randomized, controlled trials on the effects of manual therapies for CGH. The interventions assessed included therapist-driven cervical manipulation and mobilization (neck adjustments); self-applied cervical mobilization; cervico-scapular strengthening; and therapist-driven cervical and thoracic manipulation.

Patients in all but one study reported a decrease in disability and pain after these treatments, as well as an improvement in function. The researchers found that a combined treatment of therapist-driven cervical manipulation and mobilization, along with strengthening exercises, were the most effective for minimizing pain.

These results add to previous research demonstrating the efficacy of a combined chiropractic and exercise treatment for CGH. Before you reach for medication for your headache, consider seeing a chiropractor who can help to diagnose and treat your headache once and for all.

References

Jull G, Trott P, Potter H, et al. A randomized controlled trail of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine 2002; 27(17):1835-1843.

Racicki S, et al. Conservative physical therapy management for the treatment of cervicogenic headache: a systemic review. Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy 2013; 21(2): 113-124.

02. January 2014 · Comments Off on 5 Steps To Solve Your Migraines · Categories: Latest News

5 Steps To Solve Your Migraines

Migraines are a big problem. They affect millions of people and are responsible for billions of dollars in healthcare costs. In fact, they’re one of the most common reasons people end up in the emergency room.

The question we really need to ask isn’t, “how do you treat a migraine?” but rather, “what’s causing the migraines?”

This is where Functional Medicine comes in. Functional Medicine is medicine by cause; not by symptom. It helps us discover the underlying triggers of disease. And you know what? The root cause of your migraine may not be in your head at all. In fact, it may be caused by many other factors. Let’s go through some of the things that can cause migraines, because 10 people with the exact same symptoms might have very different underlying causes.

Migraines can be caused by:

  1. Sensitivity to foods like peanuts or dairy or eggs. I had a patient who had migraines for 40 years, and we discovered that they were caused by the eggs she was eating. When she stopped eating eggs, the migraines went away; when she started eating them again, the migraines came back.
  2. Gluten allergy. This is a special kind of food allergy that creates a lot of inflammation. Many people are sensitive to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt.
  3. Hormonal imbalances. For example, many women get premenstrual migraines, which is often caused by imbalances in estrogen and progesterone—too much estrogen, not enough progesterone. This can be caused by stress; by consuming too much alcohol, sugar, flour, and starches; and by not getting enough exercise or sleep.
  4. Vitamin B deficiency. Some people who don’t get enough riboflavin get migraines.
  5. Imbalances in melatonin. Newer studies have shown that this may be related to sleep cycles, which can be improved with melatonin.
  6. Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is the relaxation mineral. If you’re deficient in it, you can often get headaches and migraines. I once had a patient with chronic migraines who tried everything to cure them, but nothing helped. It turned out that she had a massive magnesium deficiency. I gave her a very high dose of magnesium, and her migraines went away.

So, remember: migraines are not all the same. You have to find the underlying cause. Here are some simple things you can do to identify and eliminate what might be causing your migraines:

  1. Do an elimination diet. Get rid of the common food allergens. Use my book The UltraSimple Diet as a guide.
  2. Try magnesium. Take 300 to 600 milligrams twice a day in the form of magnesium glycinate or citrate.
  3. Try riboflavin or vitamin B2, 400 milligrams a day. It will turn your urine a dark yellow, but don’t worry about it.
  4. Balance your hormones to stop premenstrual migraines by exercising; eliminating caffeine, alcohol, and sugar; and eating a diet rich in plant foods, especially the broccoli family, flax seeds and tofu as well as other vegetables, and fruits.
  5. Try melatonin, which has been shown to help relieve migraines. Take 1 or 2 milligrams at night.

These are just a few simple things you can do at home to fix your migraines, and I have many more suggestions. So, I encourage you to read my blogs on migraines and take advantage of the information on my website by clicking the links in the “Learn More” section at right.

And if you like this House Call, I encourage you to share it with your friends and family on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for the newsletter, and submit your questions, so that, next week, I may make a House Call to you.

Wishing you health and happiness, Mark Hyman, MD

31. December 2013 · Comments Off on Top 10 chiropractic research studies of 2013 · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Lower Back Pain, Neck Pain

Here are the top 10 chiropractic research studies of 2013.

1. Immediate Benefits of Chiropractic Visible on MRI: For the first time, researchers used MRI to document changes in spinal gapping immediately after a chiropractic adjustment.

 2. AMA Recommends Chiropractic Before Resorting to Surgery: The Journal of the American Medical Association released new guidelines for back pain treatment that encouraged patients to seek chiropractic and physical therapy before resorting to surgery.

3.Chiropractic as Effective as Epidural Injections for Lumbar Disc Herniation: Patients with lumbar disc herniation were randomly assigned to receive either nerve root  injections or chiropractic care. Overall, 76% of chiropractic patients reported feeling “better” or “much better” after treatment compared to just 62.5% of injection patients.

4. Chiropractic Lowers Blood Pressure: Hypertensive patients had reduced diastolic blood pressure readings after receiving chiropractic adjustments in a new study.

5. Chiropractic Best Option for SI Joint Pain: Chiropractic care was better than physical therapy or injections of corticosteroids for sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

6. Neck Adjustments Immediately Improve Joint Position Sense: Cervical manipulation was shown to improve joint position sense, which could assist in improving mobility in patients with neck pain.

7. Chiropractic Better than Medical Care Alone for Back Pain: Military personnel with back pain had a significantly better chance of recovery when they received a combined treatment of chiropractic and medical care, compared to those who only received medical care.

8. Spinal Adjustments Relieve Muscle Pain Instantly: Patients with myofascial pain experienced immediate improvements in pressure pain thresholds after receiving chiropractic adjustments.

9. Cervical Disc Herniation Eased by Chiropractic: A study of patients with cervical radiculopathy showed that 85% experienced significant reductions in pain and disability after receiving chiropractic care for three months.

10. Chiropractic Thaws Frozen Shoulder Syndrome: Patients had a 78% improvement in pain after receiving chiropractic care for frozen shoulder syndrome. In another study of patients treated with manipulation under anesthesia, patients had significant reductions in nighttime pain and shoulder stiffness.

15. December 2013 · Comments Off on Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins · Categories: Latest News

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins

by Dr Mark Hyman

Do vitamins kill people? How many people have died from taking vitamins? Should you stop your vitamins?

It depends. To be exact, it depends on the quality of the science, and the very nature of scientific research.  It is very hard to know things exactly through science. The waste bin of science is full of fallen heroes like Premarin, Vioxx and Avandia (which alone was responsible for 47,000 excess cardiac deaths since it was introduced in 1999).

That brings us to the latest apparent casualty, vitamins.  The recent media hype around vitamins is a classic case of drawing the wrong conclusions from good science.

Remember how doctors thought that hormone replacement therapy was the best thing since sliced bread and recommended it to every single post-menopausal woman? These recommendations were predicated on studies that found a correlation between using hormones and reduced risk of heart attacks.  But correlation does not prove cause and effect. It wasn’t until we had controlled experiments like the Women’s Health Initiative that we learned Premarin (hormone replacement therapy) was killing women, not saving them.

A new study “proving” that vitamins kill people is hitting front pages and news broadcasts across the country.  This study does not prove anything.

This latest study from the Archives of Internal Medicine of 38,772 women found that “several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality”.  The greatest risk was from taking iron after menopause (which no doctor would ever recommend in a non-menstruating human without anemia).

The word “may” is critical here, because science is squirrelly. You only get the answers to the questions you ask.  And in this case, they asked if there was an association between taking vitamins and death in older woman.  This type of study is called an observational study or epidemiological study.  It is designed to look for or “observe” correlations. Studies like these look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations. All doctors and scientists know that this type of study does not prove cause and effect.

Why Scientists are Confused

At a recent medical conference, one of most respected scientists of this generation, Bruce Ames, made a joke.  He said that epidemiologists (people who do population-based observational studies) have a difficult time with their job and are easily confused. Dr. Ames joked that in Miami epidemiologists found everybody seems to be born Hispanic but dies Jewish. Why? Because if you looked at population data in the absence of the total history and culture of Florida during a given time, this would be the conclusion you would draw. This joke brings home the point that correlation does not equal causation.

Aside from the fact that it flies in the face of an overwhelming body of research that proves Americans are nutrient deficient as a whole, and that nutritional supplements can have significant impact in disease prevention and health promotion, the recent study on vitamins is flawed in similar ways.

How Vitamins Save Money and Save Lives

Overwhelming basic science and experimental data support the use of nutritional supplements for the prevention of disease and the support of optimal health.  The Lewin Group estimated a $24 billion savingsover 5 years if a few basic nutritional supplements were used in the elderly.  Extensive literature reviews in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine also support this view.  Interventional trials have proven benefit over and over again.

The concept that nutritional supplements “could be harmful” to women flies in the face of all reasonable facts from both intervention trials and outcome studies published over the past 40 years. Recent trials published within the last two years indicate that modest nutritional supplementation in middle age women found their telomeres didn’t shorten. Keeping your teleomeres (the little end caps on your DNA) long is the hallmark of longevity and reduced risk of disease.

A plethora of experimental controlled studies — which are the gold standard for proving cause and effect — over the last few years found positive outcomes in many diseases. These include the use of calcium and vitamin D in women with bone loss; folic acid in people with cervical dysplasia (pre-cancerous lesions); iron for anemics, B-complex vitamins to improve cognitive function, zinc; vitamin C, E, and carotenoids to lower the risk of macular degeneration, and folate and vitamin B12 to treat depression. This is but a handful of examples. There are many more.

Why Most Vitamin Studies are Flawed

There is another important thing to understand about clinical trials that review the utility of vitamins in the treatment of disease. The studies that show harm are often designed like drugs studies. For example, a study may use a high dose of vitamin E and see what happens.  This is actually a prescient example also explored in recent media. Studies recently found that high doses of vitamin E and selenium didn’t prevent prostate cancer and may increase risk. What this study didn’t explore properly was the true biochemical nature of vitamin E and selenium. These nutrients work as antioxidants by donating an electron to protect or repair a damaged molecule or DNA. Once this has happened the molecules  become oxidants that can cause more damage if not supported by the complex family of antioxidants used in the human body. It’s sort of like passing a hot potato.  If you don’t keep passing it you will get burned. This study simply failed to take this into account.

Nature doesn’t work by giving you only one thing.  We all agree that broccoli is good for you, but if that were all you ate you would die in short order. The same is true of vitamins. Nutrients are not drugs and they can’t be studied as drugs. They are part of a biological system where all nutrients work as a team to support your biochemical processes.

Michael Jordon may have been the best basketball player in history, but he couldn’t have won six NBA titles without a team.

Obesity is Linked to Malnutrition

The tragedy of media attention on poor studies like these is that they undermine possible solutions to some of the modern health epidemics we are facing today, and they point attention away from the real drivers of disease.

Take the case of obesity for example. Paradoxically Americans are becoming both more obese and more nutrient deficient at the same time. Obese children eating processed foods are nutrient depleted and increasingly get scurvy and rickets, diseases we thought were left behind in the 19th and 20th centuries.

After treating over 15,000 patients and performing extensive nutritional testing on them, it is clear Americans suffer from widespread nutrient deficiencies including vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, folate, and omega 3 fats.  This is supported by the government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on our population. In fact 13% of our population is vitamin C deficient.

Scurvy in Americans in 2011? Really? But if all you eat is processed food – and many Americans do— then you will be like the British sailors of the 17th century and get scurvy.

Unfortunately negative studies on vitamins get huge media attention, while the fact that over 100,000 Americans die and 2.2 million suffer serious adverse reactions from medication use in hospitals when used as prescribed is quietly ignored.  Did you know that anti-inflammatories like aspirin and ibuprofen kill more people every year than AIDS or asthma or leukemia?

Flaws with the “Vitamins Kill You” Study

So what’s the bottom line on this study on vitamins in older white women in Iowa?

After a careful reading of this new study a number of major flaws were identified.

  1. Hormone replacement was not taken into consideration. Overall the women who took vitamins were a little healthier and probably more proactive about their health, which led them to use hormone replacement more often (based on recommendations in place when this study was done). 13.5% of vitamin users also used hormones, while 7.2% of non-vitamin users took hormones.   Remember the Women’s Health Initiative Study I mentioned above? It was a randomized controlled trial that found hormone therapy dramatically increases risk of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, and death.  In this Iowa women’s study on vitamins, the degree of the effect of harm noted from the vitamins was mostly insignificant for all vitamins except iron (see below) and calcium (which showed benefit contradicting many other studies).  In fact, the rates of death in this study were lower than predicted for women using hormone therapy, so in fact the vitamins may have been protective but the benefit of vitamins was drowned out because of the harmful effects of hormones in the vitamin users.
  2. Iron should not be given to older women. Older women should never take iron unless they have anemia. Iron is a known oxidant and excess iron causes oxidative stress and can lead to cardiovascular disease and more. This is no surprise, and should not make you stop taking a multivitamin. If you are an older woman, you simply need to look for one without iron. Most women’s vitamins do not contain it anyway.
  3. Patient background was ignored. In this observational study it was not known why people started supplements. Perhaps it was because of a decline in their health and thus they may have had a higher risk of death or disease that wasn’t associated with the vitamins they were taking at all. If you had a heart attack or cancer and then started taking vitamins, of course you are more likely to die than people without heart attacks or cancer.
  4. The population was not representative. The study looked only at older white women – clearly not representative of the whole population. This makes it impossible to generalize the conclusions.  Especially if you are an obese young African American male eating the average American diet.
  5. Forms and quality of vitamins were not identified. There was no accounting for the quality or forms or dosages of the vitamins used.  Taking vitamins that have biologically inactive or potentially toxic forms of nutrients may limit any benefit observed.  For example synthetic folic acid can cause cancer, while natural folate is protective.
  6. A realistic comparison between vitamins and other medications as cause of death was not made. 0ver 100,000 people die every year from properly prescribed medication in hospitals. These are not mistakes, but drugs taken as recommended.  And that doesn’t include out of hospital deaths.  TheCDC recently released a report that showed in 2009, the annual number of deaths (37,485) caused by improper/overprescribing and poor to non-existent monitoring of the use of tranquilizers, painkillers and stimulant drugs by American physicians now exceeds both the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents (36,284) and firearms (31,228).

In short, this recent study confuses not clarifies, and it has only served up a dose of media frenzy and superficial analysis. It has left the consumer afraid, dazed, bewildered and reaching for their next prescription drug.

Please, be smart, don’t stop taking your vitamins.  Every American needs a good quality multivitamin, vitamin D and omega-3 fat supplement. It is part of getting a metabolic tune up and keeping your telomeres long!

For more information on getting a metabolic tune up see www.drhyman.com.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

What do you think about the recent media hype regarding vitamins?

Why do you think vitamins get this kind of media while pharmaceuticals, which have a much larger impact, are often ignored?

Why do you think the decades of research showing positive effects of vitamins is hidden?

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

 

 

 

About Dr Mark Hyman

MARK HYMAN, MD is dedicated to identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic illnessthrough a groundbreaking whole-systems medicine approach called Functional Medicine. He is a family physician, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in his field. Through his private practice, education efforts, writing, research, and advocacy, he empowers others to stop managing symptoms and start treating the underlying causes of illness, thereby tackling our chronic-disease epidemic. More aboutDr. Hyman or on Functional Medicine. Click here to view all Press and Media Releases

View all posts by Dr Mark Hyman →

 

27. November 2013 · Comments Off on Fat does Not Make You Fat · Categories: Latest News

Watch Video

Fat Does Not Make You Fat

If you’re feeling completely confused about whether you should cut fat from your diet, you are not alone.  But here’s the bottom line: fat does not make you fat or sick.

So, why do so many people believe that fat is bad for you and causes heart attacks?  This all started in the Dr. Key’s Seven Countries Study decades ago that examined heart risk based on lifestyle and dietary habits.  He found that in the countries where people ate more fat—especially saturated fat—there were more cases of heart disease, and he concluded that the fat caused the disease.  But here’s the problem with this study: correlation is not causation.  Just because both fat intake and heart disease were higher among the same population doesn’t mean the heart disease was caused by the fat consumption.  Here’s another way to look at it: Every day, you wake up and the sun comes up, but although these events happen at the same time, you waking up doesn’t cause the sun to come up.  A study that observed this would show a 100% correlation between these two events, but it would be wrong to conclude that you caused the sun to rise.

Because of studies like this, we became sidetracked into believing that saturated fat causes heart disease.  But in fact, we are now learning that sugar is the true culprit, not fat.  A review of all the research on saturated fat published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found there was no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease.  And a recent editorial in the British Journal of Medicine hammers home the same point and shatters the myth that fat causes obesity and heart disease.  Researchers have found that, while it’s true that lowering saturated fat in the diet may lower total cholesterol, it’s actually lowering the good kind of cholesterol, the light, fluffy, buoyant LDL that’s not a problem.  When people eat less fat, they tend to eat more starch or sugar instead, and this actually increases their levels of dangerous cholesterol, the small, dense cholesterol that causes heart attacks.

In fact, studies show that 75% of people who end up in the emergency room with a heart attack have normal overall cholesterol levels.  What they do have is pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.  So, what’s the conclusion here?  Eating a diet with good quality fat and protein prevents and even reverses diabetes and pre-diabetes (diabesity).  And eating sugar and refined carbs cause diabesity.

So, I encourage you to look at the issue of fat and sugar in a totally different way.  Don’t cut out the fat; enjoy it!

Eat good fats. Here are my favorite sources of fat:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts—walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts (one recent study showed a handful of nuts a day reduced death from all causes by 20 percent)
  • Seeds—pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp
  • Extra virgin olive oil (a large study showed that those who consumed 1 liter a week reduced heart attacks by 30 percent)
  • Enjoy grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products (I recommend the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to eating good quality animal products that are good for you and good for the planet).
  • You can even eat saturated fat like extra virgin coconut butter, which is a great plant-based source of saturated fat that has many benefits.  It fuels your mitochondria, is anti-inflammatory, and it doesn’t cause problems with your cholesterol.  In fact, it may help resolve them.  I have many diabetic patients whose health improves when I get them on diet that’s higher in fat.

I was just talking to researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center who told me that the low fat recommendations for diabetics promoted by the American Diabetic Association has in fact been harmful, bad advice making diabetes worse!  Their new research shows that diabetics should be switching to a diet that’s about 30% fat, 30% protein, and about 40% low starch vegetables and fruits (carbohydrates).  That turns their previous advice on its head.

So here’s the take-home message: Fat doesn’t make you fat.  Sugar makes you fat.  Eating good fats can actually help you stay healthy.  So, eat good quality fats and real, whole, fresh food, and don’t worry about it.

Now, I’d like to hear from you.  Send in your comments and share your experiences.  How have you noticed fat and sugar affecting you?  What happened with your cholesterol when you changed your diet?  I encourage you to share this newsletter with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.  And submit your questions so that, next week, I may make a House Call to you.