Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fibromyalgia a ‘Real Disease,’ Study Shows

Researchers Say People With Fibromyalgia Have Abnormalities of Blood Flow in the Brain
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 3, 2008 -- A new brain scan study concludes that fibromyalgia is related to abnormalities of blood flow in the brain.

"Fibromyalgia may be related to a global dysfunction of cerebral pain-processing," study author Eric Guedj, MD, of Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de la Timone, in Marseille, France, says in a news release. "This study demonstrates that these patients exhibit modifications of brain perfusion not found in healthy subjects and reinforces the idea that fibromyalgia is a 'real disease/disorder.'"

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain and fatigue. It affects 2%-4% of people, mostly women. It has been called the "invisible syndrome" because it can't be diagnosed based on a lab test or X-ray.

For this study, researchers took brain scans on 20 women with fibromyalgia and 10 women without the condition. Participants also answered questions to assess measures of pain, disability, anxiety, and depression.

The brain imaging technique, called single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), is able to detect functional abnormalities in the brain.

Past imaging studies of patients with fibromyalgia had shown abnormalities in cerebral blood flow, also called brain perfusion. In some areas of the brain, blood flow was below normal, and in some areas, it was above normal. In this study, by using whole-brain scans on the participants, researchers were able to analyze how perfusion in each area of the brain related to measures of pain, disability, anxiety, and depression.

Researchers confirmed that patients with fibromyalgia exhibited brain perfusion abnormalities in comparison to the healthy participants. These abnormalities corresponded with the severity of the disease. An increase in blood flow was found in areas of the brain involved in sensing pain and a decrease was found within an area thought to be involved in emotional responses to pain.

There seemed to be no relationship between these abnormalities and presence of depression or anxiety. "We found that these functional abnormalities were independent of anxiety and depression status," Guedj says in a news release.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CPR, to a Disco Beat

The New York Times

October 28, 2008
Vital Signs

PREVENTION: Chest Compressions, to a Disco Beat


Well, you can tell by the way he pounds your chest, he’s an E.R. man, and his tempo is best.

That’s right — “Stayin’ Alive,” the song some people might pay to get out of their head, may be just what their heart needs if it suddenly stops.

Researchers say the Bee Gees song, from the 1977 hit movie “Saturday Night Fever,” offers almost the perfect pace for performing chest compressions on people who have had heart attacks. Emergency workers doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation are advised to press down on the chest 100 times a minute. “Stayin’ Alive” has 103 beats a minute.

The findings were presented at a recent conference of the American College of Emergency Physicians by Dr. David Matlock of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.

This is not to say that people would actually be forced to listen to the song.

“We’re not advocating turning on the song in the middle of a resuscitation,” Dr. Matlock said. “If it helps people to sing it out loud, I guess that’s O.K.”

For several years, Dr. Matlock said, emergency workers have been told that compressions done to the tempo of the song are more likely to conform to the recommendations of the American Heart Association. Doing it right can triple the survival rate, the researchers said. But no one had proved that the song actually helped.

For the study, researchers had 10 doctors and 5 medical students practice compressions while listening to the music. When they were retested five weeks later without the song, they did the compressions at an average rate of 113 a minute, within the acceptable range.

“Stayin’ Alive,” by the way, is not the only song found to be helpful. “Another One Bites the Dust,” by Queen, may also work.

“Obviously,” Dr. Matlock said, “ ‘Stayin’ Alive’s a little more appropriate for the situation.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More studies on high fructose corn syrup

Just this month, researchers from Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago took a look at the link between kidney disease and high-fructose corn syrup. Using data from nearly 9,400 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004, they tracked consumption of sugary soft drinks, a major source of high-fructose corn syrup in the United States, and protein in the urine, a sensitive marker for kidney disease. They found that overall, people who drank two or more sugary sodas a day were at 40 percent higher risk for kidney damage, while the risk for women soda drinkers nearly doubled.

In June, the Journal of Hepatology suggested a link between consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in sodas and fatty liver disease.

And this summer, a small study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggested that fructose may make people fatter by bypassing the body’s regulation of sugars, which means it gets more quickly converted to fat than do other sugars.

As writer Michael Pollan told The Washington Post earlier this year, high-fructose corn syrup “may be cheap in the supermarket, but in the environment it could not be more expensive.”

Most corn is grown as a monoculture, meaning that the land is used solely for corn, not rotated among crops. This maximizes yields, but at a price: It depletes soil nutrients, requiring more pesticides and fertilizer while weakening topsoil.

“The environmental footprint of high-fructose corn syrup is deep and wide,” writes Pollan, a prominent critic of industrial agriculture. “Look no farther than the dead zone in the Gulf [of Mexico], an area the size of New Jersey where virtually nothing will live because it has been starved of oxygen by the fertilizer runoff coming down the Mississippi from the Corn Belt. Then there is the atrazine in the water in farm country — a nasty herbicide that, at concentrations as little as 0.1 part per billion, has been shown to turn male frogs into hermaphrodites.”

Excerpts from:

Quinoa: A Protein-Packed Alternative to Grains

The New York Times

November 3, 2008
Recipes for Health

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a relative newcomer to the American pantry. The tiny, ancient Peruvian seed, which has a mild, nutty flavor, is related to leafy green vegetables and is often used like a grain. Quinoa is as versatile as rice but it has a protein content that is superior to that of most grains, because it contains all the essential amino acids. In particular, quinoa is high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it has a high iron content.

Quinoa is very easy to cook. It’s important to rinse the seeds well, because they are naturally coated with a bitter substance that protects them against birds and other predators. Most packaged quinoa has already been cleaned, but it doesn’t hurt to soak and rinse it just in case. Quinoa cooks in 15 minutes, and it’s easy to tell when it’s done because the seeds display a little white thread that curls around them.

Basic Steamed Quinoa

Many recipes for quinoa suggest cooking it like rice, in two parts water for one part quinoa. This works, but I find the grains are fluffier if I cook them in three parts water and drain the excess water once the quinoa is tender. The tiny seeds swell to about four times their original size, so 1 cup uncooked quinoa yields about 4 cups, enough for 6 to 8 servings.

1 cup quinoa

3 cups water, chicken stock or vegetable stock

1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)

1. Place the quinoa in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit 5 minutes. Drain through a strainer and rinse until the water runs clear.

2. Bring the water or stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt and the quinoa. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and translucent, and each grain displays a little thread. Drain and return to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dish towel, replace the lid and allow to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Yield: about 4 cups, serving 6 to 8

Advance preparation: Cooked quinoa will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator and can be reheated in a microwave or in the oven.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Simple bandaging can remove skin tags, wow!

This column is posted on the People's Pharmacy website. They have an informative weekly radio show on National Public Radio stations.

"I have noticed quite a few skin tags appearing on my body. I have had one or two of the larger flaps cut off by my doctor.
I was fascinated to read in your column that a reader had success getting rid of skin tags by putting special BandAids on them. I tried this but could never get a bandage to stay on long enough.

I was about to give up when I ran across some liquid bandage in my medicine cabinet. I had a large flap growing on my shoulder and put the New Skin Liquid Bandage on it. Within a week the flap fell off. I put it on some smaller skin tags and they shriveled and fell off too. Have you heard of this before or have I discovered an alternate way to get rid of these unsightly skin growths?"

A. Skin tags are benign fleshy growths that commonly appear in skin folds such as under the arms, in the groin area or on the neck. They can also show up on the face. They are common and not dangerous. Dermatologists can remove them surgically or with an electric needle.

A few years ago a reader suggested applying BandAid Clear Spots tightly over skin tags to get rid of them in a week or two.

People's Pharmacy website, click here