Friday, May 29, 2009

America's Fittest Cities, surprise!?

No surprise to see the west coast cities listed here... what shocks me is that Wash. DC is #1. Is the capital really shaping up? Not from what I have seen via the media, that's for sure... jd

Which City Is America's Fittest?

Nation's Capital Is Fittest City in U.S., According to American College of Sports Medicine By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

May 26, 2009 -- Washington, D.C., tops the American College of Sports Medicine's new list of America's fittest cities.

The list is based on personal factors -- including the percentage of residents who smoke, are obese, get regular physical activity, eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and have conditions such as diabetes and heart disease -- and on local resources, such as parks, farmers' markets, number of primary health care providers, and crime rates. Data came from sources including the CDC, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the nonprofit Trust for the Public Land.

Here is how the cities ranked:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Minneapolis-St. Paul
  3. Denver
  4. Boston
  5. San Francisco
  6. Seattle
  7. Portland
  8. San Diego
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. Virginia Beach, Va.
  11. Hartford, Conn.
  12. Sacramento, Calif.
  13. San Jose, Calif.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Low Vitamin D & Cancer

New Model Of Cancer Development: Low Vitamin D Levels May Have Role

ScienceDaily (May 26, 2009) — In studying the preventive effects of vitamin D, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, have proposed a new model of cancer development that hinges on a loss of cancer cells' ability to stick together. The model, dubbed DINOMIT, differs substantially from the current model of cancer development, which suggests genetic mutations as the earliest driving forces behind cancer.

"The first event in cancer is loss of communication among cells due to, among other things, low vitamin D and calcium levels," said epidemiologist Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, who led the work. "In this new model, we propose that this loss may play a key role in cancer by disrupting the communication between cells that is essential to healthy cell turnover, allowing more aggressive cancer cells to take over."

Reporting online May 22, 2009 in the Annals of Epidemiology, Garland suggests that such cellular disruption could account for the earliest stages of many cancers. He said that previous theories linking vitamin D to certain cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies.

"Competition and natural selection among disjoined cells within a tissue compartment, such as might occur in the breast's terminal ductal lobular unit, for example, are the engine of cancer," Garland said. "The DINOMIT model provides new avenues for preventing and improving the success of cancer treatment."

Garland went on to explain that each letter in DINOMIT stands for a different phase of cancer development. "D" stands for disjunction, or loss of intercellular communication; "I," for initiation, where genetic mutations begin to play a role; "N" for natural selection of the fastest-reproducing cancer cells; "O" for overgrowth of cells; "M" for metastasis, when cancer cells migrate to other tissues, where cancer can kill; "I" refers to involution, and "T" for transition, both dormant states that may occur in cancer and potentially be driven by replacing vitamin D.

While there is not yet definitive scientific proof, Garland suggests that much of the evolutionary process in cancer could be arrested at the outset by maintaining vitamin D adequacy. "Vitamin D may halt the first stage of the cancer process by re-establishing intercellular junctions in malignancies having an intact vitamin D receptor," he said.

According to Garland, other scientists have found that the cells adhere to one another in tissue with adequate vitamin D, acting as mature epithelial cells. Without enough vitamin D, they may lose this stickiness along with their identity as differentiated cells, and revert to a stem cell-like state.

Garland said that diet and supplements can restore appropriate vitamin D levels, and perhaps help in preventing cancer development. "Vitamin D levels can be increased by modest supplementation with vitamin D3 in the range of 2000 IU/day," he noted.

The researchers noted that many studies show an apparent beneficial effect of vitamin D and calcium on cancer risk and survival of patients with breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. However, there are some studies that have not found such benefit, especially when taking smoking, alcohol and viruses into account. While more research needs to be done, Garland recommends that individuals should have their vitamin D level tested during an annual check up.

Garland and his colleagues have published epidemiological studies about the potential preventive effects of vitamin D for some two decades. Last year, his team showed an association between deficiency in sunlight exposure, low vitamin D and breast cancer. In previous work, they showed associations between increased levels of vitamin D3 or markers of vitamin D and a lower risk for breast, colon, ovarian and kidney cancers.

Other authors on the study include Edward D. Gorham, Sharif B. Mohr and Frank C. Garland, UC San Diego.

University of California - San Diego (2009, May 26). New Model Of Cancer Development: Low Vitamin D Levels May Have Role. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/05/090522081212.htm

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Response to the Bishops' Statement on Reiki

Though somewhat lengthy, I recommend this article on Reiki in response to a doctrine issued by U.S. Catholic Bishops on March 25, 2009. The article includes an articulate and accurate description of the history of Reiki as well as providing examples of scientific studies that have been performed. jd

The International Center for Reiki Training

A Response to the Bishops' Statement on Reiki
by William Lee Rand

On March 25, 2009, U.S. Catholic bishops issued a statement advising Catholic hospitals, health care facilities, and Catholic chaplains not to support the use of Reiki sessions. The statement was issued by The Committee on Doctrine, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and titled: “Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as Alternative Therapy.”

The statement was based on research the committee had done over a period of several months involving information found on the Internet and in Reiki books. Based on these sources, they concluded that Reiki came from Buddhist texts and has a religious basis; that Reiki healing energy is directed by human thought and will; that Reiki is not validated by scientific studies and has no scientific explanation, and that Reiki is not accepted by the medical community.

When considering the value of the bishops’ statement, it’s important to note the sources they accessed. Much of their research came from information published on Internet Web sites. Overall, the Internet isn’t a good source of factual information because there is no requirement that information published there be checked or approved for accuracy. Anyone can set up a Web site and publish anything they wish. What often happens is that authors of sites copy from each other, so if inaccurate information is published on one site, it can easily spread to many sites across the Internet. If one makes use of the Internet for research, one must use a developed set of selection criteria that limits one to only the most respected and reputable Web sites. Otherwise, one runs the risk of accepting rumor and misinformation as fact.

This is especially true for Reiki Web sites. Reiki information has been riddled with inaccurate ideas from the beginning of its practice in the West. Many Reiki practitioners, teachers and authors fail to check the accuracy of the information they base their teaching and writing on, and this has had a detrimental effect on the quality of information published both on the Internet and in Reiki books.

The best information on Reiki comes from those who have researched the history and practice of Reiki professionally by conducting research in Japan, reading original documents, and interviewing members of the founding Reiki organization in Japan. If the bishops who wrote the statement on Reiki had interviewed several of these experts, they would have realized that much of the published information on Reiki is inaccurate, and they would have had accurate, verifiable information on which to base their conclusions.

Origin of Reiki
One of the stories told by Mrs. Takata about the origin of Reiki indicates that the founder, Mikao Usui discovered the secret of Reiki n Buddhist texts.1 This story has been repeated over and over in Reiki classes, on Internet Web sites and in many Reiki books. Yet we know this isn’t true. For many years, Mrs. Takata was the only source of information about Reiki for those in the West, and most practitioners accepted her statements without question. Language, cultural, and organizational barriers in Japan made research difficult for those who wanted to learn more about the origins and practice of Reiki. It wasn’t until the end of the 90’s that a few researchers were able to make breakthroughs.

Researchers, including Toshitaka Mochizuki, Hiroshi Doi and Frank Arjava Petter, made contact with the original Reiki organization, discovered Mikao Usui’s grave, translated the story of Reiki inscribed on his memorial stone, and uncovered an original document written by Mikao Usui about the nature of Reiki. These sources indicate that Mikao Usui wasn’t seeking to discover a method of healing, but that the ability to heal came to him spontaneously during a spiritual experience on a sacred mountain. Furthermore, in his Reiki Ryoho Hikkei (Reiki Healing Art Handbook), Mikao Usui states: “My Usui Reiki Ryoho (healing art) is original, never before explored, and incomparable in the world.” These facts indicate that Reiki couldn’t have come from Buddhist texts, nor could it be connected to any religion or belief system. In addition, Japanese Reiki Masters who have knowledge of Buddhism have indicated that they can find nothing from Buddhism in the practice of Reiki and that Reiki is religiously neutral.2

The Nature of Reiki Healing
One of the first things I noticed after I took my first Reiki class and began to practice Reiki is that Reiki healing energy directs itself. I was unable to direct it with my mind or will and realized this wasn’t necessary as Reiki had its own form of guidance that was superior to my own. This experience has been verified by other professional Reiki practitioners and forms the basis of one of the important keys to using Reiki: If you want Reiki to provide the best healing experience, it’s necessary for the practitioner to set their own desire, will and ego aside, and allow the Reiki energy to guide itself.

Scientific Explanation for Reiki
There is a scientific explanation for Reiki that is based on scientific studies and factual information. This explanation has been presented as a testable hypothesis by James Oschman, Ph.D.

Dr. Oschman is a scientist with a conventional background who became interested in the practice of energy medicine. Through research, he discovered a number of important scientific studies that point to a scientific basis for energy medicine based on the laws of physics and biology. These findings are discussed in an interview, “Science and the Human Energy Field,” published in the Winter 2002 issue of Reiki News Magazine.

The electrical currents that run through every part of the human body provide the basis for Dr. Oschman’s hypothesis. These currents are present in the nervous system, organs, and cells of the body. For instance, the electrical signals that trigger the heartbeat travel throughout all the tissues of the body and can be detected anywhere on the body.

Ampere’s law indicates that when an electrical current flows through a conductor, an electromagnetic field is produced that reflects the nature of the current that created it. Tests with scientific instruments indicate that electromagnetic fields exist around the body and around each of the organs of the body, including the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, stomach, etc. The heart has the strongest field, which has been measured at a distance of 15 feet from the body.

The fields around each of the organs pulse at different frequencies and stay within a specific frequency range when they are healthy, but move out of this range when they are unhealthy. The hands of healers produce pulsing electromagnetic fields when they are in the process of healing, whereas the hands of non-healer do not produce these fields. When a healer places his or her hands on or near a person in need of healing, the electromagnetic field of the healer’s hands sweeps through a range of frequencies based on the needs of the part of the body being treated. Faraday’s law indicates that one electromagnetic field can induce currents into a nearby conductor and through this process, induce a similar field around it. In this way, a healer induces a healthy electromagnetic field around an unhealthy organ, thus inducing a healthy state in the organ. A detailed explanation of this hypothesis, including descriptions of the scientific studies, diagrams, and references is presented in the interview mentioned above.

Acceptance by the Medical Community
Although Reiki is not universally accepted within the medical community, many medical professionals, hospitals, and healthcare facilities recognize its benefits and accept it as an adjunct therapy. In Holistic Nursing, A Handbook for Practice, Chapter 2 “Scope and Standards of Practice,” the American Holistic Nursing Association (AHNA) lists Reiki as an accepted form of treatment.3 In addition, according to the American Hospital Association, in 2007 Reiki was offered as a standard part of patient care in 15% or over 800 hospitals across the US.4 Doctors have recommended Reiki to their patients for amelioration of various health-related conditions. Surgeons make use of Reiki practitioners prior to, during, and following surgery. As an example, Dr. Mehmet Oz, one of the most respected cardiovascular surgeons in the US, uses Reiki during open-heart surgeries and heart transplants. According to Dr. Oz, “Reiki has become a sought-after healing art among patients and mainstream medical professionals.”5

Ethical Implications
To refuse Reiki treatment to patients that request it creates an ethical issue. According to the AHNA statement in response to the bishops’ statement, the practice of holistic nursing is not subject to regulation by the Catholic church and it would be an ethical violation for a member of the AHNA to withhold Reiki treatment from a patient who requests it; this includes those working in Catholic hospitals.

Scientific Studies
There are a number of reputable scientific studies that provide evidence that Reiki is therapeutic. These studies can be found by using one of the professional medical databases such as PubMed or Cochrane Collection.6 Studies meeting medical and scientific standards are usually published in peer-reviewed journals. There are over 20 such studies on the therapeutic value of Reiki. A review of some of these studies, “An Integrative Review of Reiki Touch Therapy Research” by Anne Vitale, Ph. D., can be found at While the Reiki studies conducted to date are preliminary in nature, they do provide support for additional studies.

One well-designed Reiki study is “Autonomic Nervous-System-Changes During Reiki Treatment: A Preliminary Study.”7 Forty-five subjects were assigned randomly to three groups. One group received no treatment, another received Reiki treatment by experienced Reiki practitioners, and the third group received sham treatment by a person with no Reiki training who used the same hand positions as those receiving real Reiki.

Measurements were made of heart rate, cardiac vagal tone, blood pressure, cardiac sensitivity to baroreflex, and breathing. Heart rate and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly for those receiving Reiki, but not for those receiving sham Reiki, or no treatment. This study indicates that the body does respond to Reiki energy and that this response isn’t purely psychological. It also indicates a potential therapeutic effect for Reiki.

“Reiki Improves Heart Rate Homeostasis in Laboratory Rats”8 is another valuable study. The value of using animals in this type of study is that they are not affected by belief or skepticism regarding Reiki. In addition, highly accurate telemetric implants were used to transmit the biometric data. White noise was used to increase the heart rate of three implanted laboratory rats. The rats were treated by a Reiki practitioner and by a sham Reiki practitioner prior to being exposed to white noise and after exposure. The procedure involved the practitioner directing their hands toward the caged rat at a distance of four feet. The rats that received Reiki experienced a significant reduction in heart rate, both before having their heart rates elevated by white noise and after, whereas those treated with sham Reiki did not. This is one of the most rigorous Reiki studies to date and demonstrates that Reiki reduces the heart rate in both stressed and unstressed animals and promotes homeostasis, both of which promote healthy heart function.

Reiki is practiced by followers of many religious traditions. Although some practitioners integrate Reiki into their existing religious beliefs, Reiki is not a religion, doctrine, or dogma. Reiki is grounded in the principle of compassionate action, which is common to all religious traditions. While each religion has the right to create its own rules, it’s within the nature of human dignity and free will for each person to decide which path to follow and what activities are appropriate for them.

1 Paul David Mitchell, The Blue Book, revised edition for The Reiki Alliance (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho: 1985), page 13.

2 Personal communication with Japanese Reiki practitioners Hiroshi Doi and Hyakuten Inamoto.

3 page 56.

4 and


6 PubMed is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. The Cochrane Collection provides access to a collection of databases, which focus on the effects of health care and evidence based medical practice.

7 Nicola Makay, M.Sc., Stig Hansen, Ph.D., and Oona McFarlane, M.A., The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Volume 10, Number 6, 2004, pp. 1077–1081. This study is also discussed in “The Science of Reiki” by Nicole Mackay, Reiki News Magazine (Summer 2005).

8 Ann Linda Baldwin, Ph.D, Christina Wagers, and Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D., The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Volume 14, Number 4, 2008, pp. 417–422.

William Lee Rand is president of the International Center for Reiki Training and executive editor of the Reiki News Magazine. He has studied with five Reiki teachers, including two from Japan, and has made three trips to Japan to research the history and nature of Reiki. Rand has practiced Reiki since 1981 and has taught full time for 20 years.

The International Center for Reiki Training
21421 Hilltop Street, Unit #28 • Southfield, Michigan 48033
Toll Free: (800) 332-8112 •
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© Copyright 1990-2009 The International Center for Reiki Training

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Virus may cause high blood pressure

Common virus may cause high blood pressure: study
Fri May 15, 2009 10:47am EDT

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A common virus may be a major cause of high blood pressure, researchers said on Thursday in a finding that may bring new approach to treating a condition that affects an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.

Based on a series of studies in mice, they said cytomegalovirus or CMV -- a herpes virus that affects some 60 to 99 percent of adults globally -- appears to increase inflammation in blood vessels, causing high blood pressure.

And when combined with a fatty diet, CMV may also cause hardening of the arteries, a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease, they said.

"I think it could be very important," said Dr. Clyde Crumpacker of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who worked on the study in the Public Library of Science Journal PLoS Pathogens.

"It may suggest a whole new way of looking at high blood pressure and vascular disease," Crumpacker said in a telephone interview.

He said the research offers the first direct proof that the virus causes persistent infection in blood vessels. Doctors typically use generic drugs such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors to control blood pressure, a condition that affects one in every three adults in the United States.

Crumpacker said the study suggests vaccines and antiviral drugs may offer a new approach at treating hypertension.

Currently, there is no vaccine, but several companies, including Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis , GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Vical, are working on them.

And Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG makes an antiviral drug called Valcyte to prevent CMV infections in transplant recipients.


By age 40, most adults will have been exposed to CMV, although many never experience any symptoms. But the virus can cause harm in people with compromised immune systems, such as transplant recipients, and it is a major cause of birth defects in babies whose mothers were infected during pregnancy.

In one experiment, Crumpacker and colleagues examined four groups of lab mice. Two were fed a standard diet and two were fed a high fat diet. After for weeks, half of the mice from the standard and fatty diet groups were exposed to the virus.

Six weeks later, mice in both infected groups had elevated blood pressure, but 30 percent of infected mice on high cholesterol diet also showed signs of atherosclerosis.

"This strongly suggests that the CMV infection and the high cholesterol diet might be working together," Crumpacker said.

In another study of kidney cells in infected mice, the team found high levels of the enzyme renin, which is known to cause high blood pressure. They found the same high rates of the enzyme in human blood vessel cells infected with CMV.

And they found that CMV infection increased markers for inflammation in blood vessels.

More research is needed looking at the role of viruses in causing heart disease, but Crumpacker said the findings suggest new treatment possibilities.

"Some cases of hypertension might be treated or prevented by antiviral therapy or a vaccine against CMV," he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved.