Archive for January, 2011

Water-The Best and Cheapest Diet Ever!

January 31, 2011

Water Before Meal Means Fewer Calories Consumed

Drinking 16 ounces of water before meals helped a group of dieters lose more weight than other dieters who didn’t consume water first reports Cynthia Graber in the Scientific American in August 2010.  Americans, and American physicians, are concerned about ballooning waistlines and the accompanying health problems. Now, researchers have presented the first randomized trial of what they hail as a side-effect-free, prescription-free and simply free appetite control agent. That is, of course, water. Brenda Davy, lead researcher from Virginia Tech, presented the findings at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Previous studies showed that middle-aged and older Americans who drank two cups of water before a meal ate about 75 to 90 fewer calories over the course of the meal. For this study, the scientists took 48 adults between 55 and 75. All ate a low-calorie diet for 12 weeks. Half of the group drank 16 ounces of water before meals. The other half didn’t.

After the 12 weeks were over, the water drinkers lost on average 15.5 pounds, while the ones who weren’t prescribed water lost about 11 pounds. Davy says that this phenomenon could occur because water is filling and has, of course, zero calories. It could also be displacing other, sweeter drinks that the dieters might consume. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s certainly a cheap and simple addition to any weight-loss plan.

Eat Your Veggies-It Just May Prevent Cancer

January 31, 2011

Cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that preferentially destroy ineffective mutant p53 tumor suppressor proteins, but leave the good ones alone. Steve Mirsky reports in the Scientific American.

Generations of American children have been told, “Eat your broccoli!” And for decades, researchers have known that broccoli and related vegetables like cauliflower and watercress appeared to lower the risk of some cancers. And that compounds in the vegetables could kill cancer cells. But how the cruciferous veggies worked their medical magic was a mystery. Until now. Because researchers have figured out just what broccoli does that helps keep cancer in check. The work appears in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. [Xiantao Wang et al., “Selective Depletion of Mutant p53 by Cancer Chemoprevention Isothiocyanates and Their Structure-Activity Relationships“]

Proteins coded by the gene p53 help keep cancer from starting to grow. But when the p53 gene is mutated, the protection is gone. Mutated p53 is implicated in about half of all human cancers.

Broccoli and its relatives are rich in compounds called isothiocyanates, or ITCs. And these ITCs apparently destroy the products of the mutant p53 gene, but leave the healthy p53 proteins alone and free to suppress tumor development.

The researchers write that “depletion of mutant p53 may reduce drug resistance and lead to new strategies for treating cancer in the clinic.” In the meantime, eat your broccoli!

 

Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers-A book about treatment of prostate cancer

January 30, 2011

Ralph Blum, a cultural anthropologist with prostate cancer, and Dr. Mark Scholz, an oncologist who specializes in the treatment of prostate cancer, chronicle the various treatment options for prostate cancer in the book Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, Other Press.  Mr. Blum looks a the disease from the standpoint of patient who is confronted with the decision of how to treat this common male cancer that affects nearly 200,000 men each year.  Many men receive a radical prostatectomy which surgically removes the prostate gland and leaves the man at risk for erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence or leaking of urine requiring the use of diaper.

The authors advise those who are confronted with making a decision regarding the treatment of prostate cancer to slow up and take a deep breath and get the facts about all the treatment options including watchful waiting which means treating prostate cancer as a chronic condition and obtaining an examination and a PSA blood test every 4-6 months to monitor the cancer.  I recommend this book as a good resource for those men who have the disease and want to make a good decision with the help of their doctor to find the best treatment for their prostate cancer.

Take Two And Call Me In The Morning-Sex Not Aspirin

January 30, 2011

In the past, this blog focuses on wellness, exercise, and mental health.  In this issue I will devote to the benefits of having intimacy with your partner.  Who would ever imagine that an activity that is so much fun could be so beneficial to your health.

Sexual intimacy is a form of exercise.  Each time that you engage in the sex act you burn approximately 100 calories.  Of course, if you have sex like Lady Chatterly’s Lover, then it’s a lot more.  Now 100 calories a pop doesn’t sound like much, but if you engage in sex 2-3 times a week, that’s 5000-7500 calories a year.  That’s equivalent to the energy required to jog from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama.

In addition to the aerobic work out of huffing and puffing and increasing your heart rate, sexual activity provides resistance training.  This is the contraction of the muscles of the back, pelvis, and extremities against passive resistance.

Another advantage of regular sex is that it can actually lower your total cholesterol level, and increase the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or the good cholesterol.  So if you indulge yourself in an extra steak with butter, indulge yourself in extra sex and you’ll be calorically even.

Sex also jump-starts your hormones.  Men can have a surge of testosterone during sex.  Testosterone is the hormone produced in the testicles that is responsible for libido or sex drive, muscle mass, and strength of bones.  Regular sex increases the level of estrogen in women which results in increase in the blood supply to the vagina keeping the vaginal tissues young, supple and moist.  There is even evidence that sex prior to or at the time of the menstrual period may relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  There are other studies that suggests that oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland during sexual intimacy, contributes to long-term bonding between partners.

Sexual intimacy also results in the release of endorphins which is the ultimate painkiller or analgesic.  Endorphins are many times more potent that morphine, the most powerful man-made analgesic in use for the relief of pain.  So the next time you have a headache, don’t turn down sex but turn on and your relief is just a few minutes in the sack away.  There’s even a scientific explanation for the relief of headache pain with sex.  During sex there is an increase in the blood supply to the muscles and the genital organs.  As a result there is a decrease in the blood supply to the brain thus taking the pressure off of the tension in the brain.

For men, sexual intimacy is protective for the prostate.  Prostate infections and prostate enlargement, which begins after the age of 50 in most men, result in compression of the urethra, the tube in the penis that allows transmission of urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  As a result men complain of difficulty with urination.   For dozens of years,  older men have gone to the doctor to have their prostate gland massaged to express the retained secretions that produce many of the symptoms of prostate disease.  For most men this is uncomfortable and expensive if you don’t have Medicare or insurance to pay for the doctor’s visit.  One inexpensive and fun way to relieve these symptoms produced by an enlarged prostate gland is to engage in sexual intimacy either through intercourse or even masturbation.   Both will produce prostate pleasing results.  So if you want to be good to your prostate gland, be good to your significant other….in bed.

Sex is good for stress.  Never let the sun set on an argument.  Having sex is an effective method of reducing the tensions that exist between partners.  You can’t be arguing when you are having good sex.

So for those of you who are not interested in going to the YMCA or a health club, you can have the benefits of a health club not in your own back yard but in your bedroom.   There are naysayers that say this is fooey. Take Two and Call Me In the Morning-Not Aspirin, But Sex. For those of you who need more motivation, give me a call and I’ll write you a prescription!

Berries For Your Blood Pressure-How Strawberries Can Reduce Your Risk of Hypertension

January 30, 2011

Eating just 1 cup of strawberries or blueberries each week can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The new findings appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The new study included 87,242 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II, 46,672 women from the Nurses’ Health Study I, and 23,043 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up study. During the 14-year follow-up period, 29,018 women and 5,629 men developed high blood pressure.

Men and women with the highest amount of anthocyanin from blueberries and strawberries had an 8% reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure, compared to study participants who ate the least amount of these anthocyanin-rich berries, the study showed.

Anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant that gives blueberries and strawberries their vibrant color. It may also help open blood vessels, which allows for smoother blood flow and a lower risk for high blood pressure.

No. 2- Try Harder, Especially if you Have Constipation

January 27, 2011

Few of us like or are comfortable talking about our problems with urination or with bowel movements.  However, when these functions go awry, all havoc takes place. Though not usually serious, constipation can be a concern.  This article will discuss constipation and what can be done to resolve the issue. 

Almost everyone gets constipated at some time during his or her life. It affects approximately 2% of the population and the elderly are more commonly affected.

What Is Constipation?

Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; others, only one or two times a week. The longer the interval between bowel movements, the harder the stool becomes and the more difficult to pass.

You are considered constipated if you have two or fewer bowel movements in a week.

 What Causes Constipation?

Constipation is usually caused by inadequate water intake. Inadequate fiber in the diet. inadequate activity or exercise or immobility, eating large amounts of dairy products, resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, which is sometimes the result of pain from hemorrhoids, overuse of laxatives or stool softeners.

How Is Constipation Diagnosed?

Most people do not need extensive testing to diagnose constipation. Only a small number of patients with constipation have a more serious medical problem. If you have constipation for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor so he or she can determine the source of your problem and treat it. If constipation is caused by colon cancer, early detection and treatment

How Can I Prevent Constipation?

Fiber and water help the colon pass stool.  Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereal (especially bran).   Drink 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water each day. Avoid milk, as dairy products may be constipating for them.  Moving around and exercise tends to promote bowel regularity. 

Treatment

If you are constipated, try the following:  Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day (unless fluid restricted).  Add fruits and vegetables and fiber to your diet.  If needed, use a very mild stool softener or laxative (such as Peri-Colace or Milk of Magnesia). Do not use laxatives for more than two weeks without calling your doctor, as laxative overuse can aggravate your symptoms.

Call your doctor if:  You have blood in your stool; you have severe pain with bowel movements; or your constipation has lasted more than two weeks.

 Bottom Line: Constipation is a common problem.  Most people can prevent constipation with diet and moderate exercise.

When Your Pee Changes Color

January 27, 2011

Most of us are uncomfortable talking about our waste products, urine and feces.  However, changes in the color and odor may signify disease that can be treated or prevented.  This article will review causes of discoloration of urine and when there is a change in the odor of urine. 

For hundreds of years doctors have looked at urine as a barometer of what is happening in the body.  The urine can tell what you have been eating, how much fluid you are consuming, and what diseases you may have.  Early doctors even tasted the urine of their patients in order to diagnose their medical conditions.  Fortunately, we have made progress and a simple urinalysis can make this determination in seconds.                   

Urine is an important part of the body’s regulation process. Its job is to remove the extra water and wastes that the kidneys filter out of the blood. The urine is there primarily to get rid of toxins or things that would otherwise build up in the body that would be bad for the body.

When you notice that your urine has changed color, or there’s a strange odor emanating from the toilet, the cause might be something as harmless as what you had for dinner such as asparagus. It also might be a sign of a more serious condition, such as an infection or cancer. 

Color Changes

Urine normally varies from pale yellow to deep amber, depending on the concentration of the urine, which is determined by the amount of fluid you consume. Darker urine is usually a sign that you’re not drinking enough water.   Correction is as simple as consuming more liquids, especially water. 

The opposite is also true. If your urine is very pale, it means that you’re either drinking a lot of fluid, or you’re taking a diuretic or water pill which is a drug that forces the body to eliminate excess water.

Urine can turn a rainbow of colors, and an unusual hue isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. Certain medications can turn the urine fluorescent green or blue, the carotene in carrots can tint it orange, and vitamins can give it a yellow hue.  Pyridium, a medication, which is used to treat burning on urination, will turn the urine orange-red.

Seeing red is typically a sign that there is blood in the urine, but before you panic, know that a little blood can produce a dramatic color change. Just like a drop of food coloring will add color to a large volume of food or fluids, it only takes one drop of blood to turn an entire toilet bowl red.

Red urine is usually an ominous sign and can indicate an infection or maybe even cancer.  Red blood is a real warning sign and should prompt you to see your doctor or urologist, a doctor who specializes in disease of the kidneys and bladder.

Odor Changes

Urine normally doesn’t have a very strong smell. If your urine has a foul odor, you could have an infection or urinary stones, which can create an ammonia-like odor. Diabetics might notice that their urine smells sweet, because of excess sugar.

Some foods can also change urine odor. Asparagus is among the most notorious. What people are smelling when they eat asparagus is the breakdown of a sulfur compound called methyl mercaptan (the same compound found in garlic).

How Often Do You Need to Go?

How often you need to go can be as important an indicator of your health as the color or smell of your urine. Most people take bathroom breaks about six to eight times a day, but you might go more or less depending on how much fluid you drink. If you’re constantly feeling the urge to go and it’s not because you’re not drinking extra fluid, causes can include:

Overactive bladder  (when you gotta go, you gotta go!), urinary tract infection, Interstitial cystitis (painful urination without an infection), prostate gland enlargement, and diabetes. 

The opposite problem, not going to the bathroom enough, can occur when there is a blockage or infection. Or, it can be the result of bad bathroom habits. Some people — especially teachers, surgeons, and anyone else who doesn’t have time for regular bathroom breaks throughout the day — tend to hold it in.

Delaying urination can also cause problems.  The bladder can develop a chronic over-distension and will not empty completely.  As a result urine is left in the bladder and can be a source for developing a urinary tract infection.

Develop good bathroom habits.

Drink whenever you’re thirsty, but certainly increase your fluids before going outside in the hot summer sun or before exercising. 

If you’re getting up during the night to use the bathroom, stop drinking three to four hours before bedtime. Limit caffeine, which can irritate the lining of the bladder. Also watch your intake of alcohol, which can have an effect similar to a diuretic.

Finally, don’t hold it in. Don’t delay answering the call of the rest room.  Your bladder will thank you.

Bottom Line:  Pay attention to the color and odor of your urine.  If there is a change, contact your physician.

Men, Want To Become A Father? Try Taking Antioxidants!

January 19, 2011

ABC World News (1/18, story 7, 0:25, Sawyer) reported, “A new report has found that men who take antioxidants while trying to get their partner pregnant are four times more likely to succeed than men who do not. And, the type doesn’t matter — vitamin E, zinc, magnesium all work. Scientists just don’t understand why.”

 

MedPage Today (1/18, Phend) reported that “antioxidant supplements may boost fertility for men,” according to a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. After pooling “the results from 34 randomized controlled trials that included a total of 2,876 couples with male factor subfertility or unexplained subfertility who were undergoing assisted reproductive technology using their own sperm and eggs,” researchers found that “men taking antioxidants were over fourfold more likely than controls to get their partner pregnant and see a successful live birth.”

New YouTube video on female sexual dysfunction-When It’s No Longer Fun “Down There”

January 12, 2011

Dr. Neil Baum, urologist Please see my video on “female sexual dysfunction” on YouTube. To see video go to: http://bit.ly/hfZafP