04 January 2006

Health Updates

Not All Diets Created Equal

Low fat, high carb diets don't hurt, but they don't help much either. Over seven years, women on such a diet lost an average of 2 pounds (4.8 pounds in the first year, some of which was regained). Women not on diets neither gained nor lost weight. The dieters reduced their fat intake as a percentage of daily calories by an average of 25%, although the goal was 50%, and replaced the fat intake mostly with carbs. Low fat diets have been the mainstay of diet recommendations for some time. High protien diet advocates have claimed low fat, low carb diets cause obesity, however, which they don't.

Statins Don't Stop Cancer

Statins, a class of drugs taken to reduce cholesterol, are highly effective at reducing heart disease. But, serious doubt has been cast on early indications that they are also very effective at reducing certain kinds of cancer. New studies show that they have little impact on cancer for good or ill.

Medical Marijuana Legal In R.I.

"Federal law prohibits any use of marijuana, but Colorado, Maine, Vermont, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington allow it to be grown and used for medicinal purposes." Now, Rhode Island has brought to eleven the number of states that have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana.

Vitamin D Important In Lung Function

Preliminary studies based on data from a national representative 14,000 person survey of lung function and vitamin consumption show that Vitamin D consumption is a key factor in lung health, in addition to other previously known benefits:

[P]eople who never smoked but who were getting little vitamin D had 35 percent worse lung function than did former smokers who were getting adequate amounts of the vitamin. Current smokers, regardless of their vitamin D intake, had worse lung function than did either of these groups.

Further studies to see if this is a matter of mere corollation, or if Vitamin D is actually the cause of the lung health differences are planned.

Asthma Not Just A Disease Of The Poor

Asthma has been stereotyped to some degree as a disease that impacts ghetto kids. While the incidence of asthma is higher in poor neighborhoods, the disease is not so limited. The revelation that teen heart throb Lindsay Lohan suffers from the disease makes that point graphically.

Heart Attack Treatment Improved

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has started using a new device, which costs about $25,000, to lower the body temperatures of heart attack victims brought to the hospital to about 92 degree Farenheit, for up to twenty-four hours. The approach draws from the observation that people who were submerged in cold water often avoided brain damage long after the usual rule of thumb that one can manage without air (which reaches the brain via blood pumped by the heart) for only about four or five minutes. So far only anecdotal evidence supports the new device which is experimental at this point. Heart attacks currently have only about a 5% survival rate and often cause brain damage even in those who do survive. Since it is a leading cause of death, even a slight improvement in heart attack care could save many lives.

Of course, the device can work only in patients make it to the hospital. New CPR guidelines that focus on doing as chest compressions as possible (30 a minute for all patients for every two rescue breaths, without stopping to check for improvement), may help on the score.

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