Category Archives: medicine

Medical guidelines may be overaggressive, biased

For the most part I opt for natural remedies over drugs for my own personal health. But, there are times when a doctor’s recommendations may differ from my wishes. So I was fascinated to learn that sometimes medical practitioners may not be totally objective in their appraisals of our health.

Dr. Sunita Sah practiced general medicine for several years in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. When she came to the United States, she noticed something strange.

three person looking at x ray result

Photo by EVG photos on

The U.K. guidelines for tests such as mammograms and colon cancer screenings drastically differed from those in the U.S. – even though they were based on the same medical evidence.

“Having colonoscopy at the age of 50 – that struck me as rather odd when I moved to the U.S., because you don’t really hear about people having colonoscopies as a screening procedure in the U.K.,” said Sah. “It’s much less invasive to test for blood in the stool. It’s also less costly and doesn’t have the risks of undertaking a colonoscopy.”

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Filed under cancer, colonoscopy, doctor visit, doctors, medical guidelines, medicine, personalized medicine

Doctors Prescribing Exercise as Medicine – Wall Street Journal

“The older I get the more medicines I find myself taking,” a Senior Citizen.

This is a common lament among seniors. But the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has a new and better idea. They declared May of 2014 as Exercise is Medicine month.


“Everyone should start or renew an exercise program now as an investment in life-long health,” said Robert E. Sallis, M.D., FACSM, chair of the Exercise is Medicine. “Every person, regardless of age and health, is responsible for his or her own physical activity. There are far more reasons to exercise than excuses not to.”

Research shows that exercise has a role in the treatment and prevention of more than 40 chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and hypertension, an ACSM press release pointed out.

“While there are numerous reasons for soaring health care costs, one undeniable explanation is the poor physical health of so many Americans,” Sallis said. “Exercise is something every person can do to control the rising cost of health care and improve quality of life.”

Eat less; move more has long been the mantra of this blog. It is nice to see the mainstream moving ahead in the same vein.

Today’s Wall Street Journal ran a feature by Laura Landro entitled Doctors Dole Out Prescriptions for Exercise!

This is a direct result of the ACSM program.


“Although the benefits of exercise in preventing and controlling a number of diseases are well-known, studies show that doctors don’t always counsel patients on adding more physical activity. About half of Americans report that they meet federal guidelines to engage in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, but not everyone owns up to how little exercise they get, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found only about 10% of adults actually met recommended levels, though 62% reported they did.

Regular readers know that I am a senior citizen and instead of medicines, I ride my bike regularly and walk whenever I can. Last year, I pedaled over 7000 miles on my bike and as a a result of that and careful eating, I generally find myself in the best health of my life. I wrote about my aversion to taking statin drugs in Do I Have to go on Statin Drugs for the Rest of my Life to Fight High Cholesterol?

The Journal reported, “So many people look at exercise with fear and trepidation as if it’s something to be endured or swallowed like a bad-tasting medicine. But the reality is once people begin to move and gain strength and fitness they realize what a gift it is to feel agile and healthy,” says Susanna Carter, a Birmingham, Ala., obstetrician and gynecologist who left her medical practice last year to start Project 150, using Skype and email to counsel patients on exercise and nutrition.”

The Journal piece cites numerous examples of folks who took up exercise instead of medication and experienced very positive results.

The ACSM program “Exercise is Medicine” has training for doctors in more than 40 countries.

If you, like a lot of us, are concerned about your medical care going forward as Obamacare becomes the law of the land, it seems a good time to rethink previous sedentary ways and take a positive step toward maintaining your health without having to resort to doctor’s prescriptions.

I hope my excitement about this news and program is understandable, especially to regular readers. I have said from the beginning that we need to get out and move. Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise) for more.


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Filed under ACSM, aging, Exercise, medicine, Wall Street Journal

What is Personalized Medicine?

A 2001 study that was published in Trends in Molecular Medicine found that prescription drugs are only effective for between 50% and 75% of patients, on average. This number drops down to 25% for patients with cancer and 30% of people taking drugs to treat Alzheimer’s.

SwissChiropractic's Blog

Since the first healers began treating people for illness, the way it worked was that you described your symptoms to the doctor, who would then give you a physical examination and perhaps run some tests. Then he or she would make a diagnosis of your condition and treat you double-helix-200-300with drugs or other therapies that were standard for that condition. Personalized medicine takes the diagnosis and treatment of disease to a whole new level due to recent advances in genetics.

Scientists are now beginning to understand that each person’s unique genetic and molecular profile gives them greater susceptibility to particular diseases. Personalized medicine is a way of approaching medical treatment for the individual based upon their specific genetic profile. This can allow doctors to design treatments that are likely to be the most safe and effective for that person. For example, one drug may work well for one person, but…

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Filed under medicine, personalized medicine

The Other Side of Alzheimer’s

Regular readers know I have a strong interest in dementia as I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s Disease and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. A lot of my healthy aging activities are aimed at preventing that from happening to me. So I was struck by the story of Charles Schoenfeld. He didn’t get Alzheimer’s, but he took care of his mother who did. I thought it would be worthwhile for readers who might find themselves someday in the position of caregiver to hear what Charles has to say.

As you can see from the previous post, Charles spoke at Aspirus Senior Center on his book A Funny Thing Happened on my way to the Dementia Ward.

alz book
In his own words, “After retiring from a 27 year job as a truck driver, I went to work at North Central Health Care (NCHC), providing care to residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Filed under aging, Alzheimer's, appreciation, brain, dementia, happiness, health, medicine

Positive, Happy People Suffer Less Pain

Regular readers know that I have written repeatedly about the importance of happiness in our lives. A couple of the posts include, Why Should I Be Happy?, What is Positive Psychology?  You can click on the happiness or kindness tags at the right to read others.


A paper published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health on Psychological Variables that Influence Placebo Responses says that “There is also growing evidence that personality may affect the placebo response. The main personality traits for which there is evidence of an effect are optimism, pessimism, trait anxiety, and neuroticism. Dispositional optimism and pessimism are habitual styles of expecting good or bad outcomes in life and therefore can be regarded as a dispositional bias in expectation. Optimists demonstrate an attentional bias for positive information and, even when faced with negative information, will tend to reframe the information in positive ways. Optimism correlates negatively with trait anxiety and neuroticism and positively with reported use of positive coping strategies in general. Scheier and Carver [another study] suggest that the general positive expectations associated with optimists lead to persistence and striving toward goals in the face of adversity. Optimism may therefore influence the extent to which a patient, given a placebo treatment, persists in the treatment and interprets it positively.” Continue reading

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Filed under appreciation, brain, chronic pain, medicine, pain, placebo, relaxation, stress

Some Steps to Prevent the Flu From Catching You

First of all, as I have recommended several times here, get that flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest everyone over the age of 6 months get one.

I took a course from The Great Courses entitled “Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age.” The professor stated that for people over 65 influenza is the most common preventable cause of death. Additionally, vaccinations in adults could prevent about 80% of all influenza deaths.

Besides your flu shot there are other good actions you can take that reduce your likelihood of coming down with the flu.

2307429541_2a7d43048a_zThe CDC  recommends the following:

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

If you come down with the flu, the CDC says to take antiviral drugs if your doctor provides them.

• If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
• Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
• Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors , treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
• Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
• Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.


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Filed under flu deaths, flu season, flu shot, medicine