Monday, January 26, 2009

Young Women Beat the Pressure With Vitamin C

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Yeah, It's Good For You...

Are you high strung? Do you feel the pressure of life coming at you at lightening speed? Or, are you the laid back type, with not so much as a care in the world? If you’re the first type, new research shows you may benefit from vitamin C, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure in young women.

What if you’re the second, “what me worry?” type? Well, sure – you’ll get the same terrific benefits of lowering your blood pressure as the other group.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, studied close to 250 women for a period of 10 years. The women were between eight and 11 years old at the study’s onset, and the assessment of vitamin C’s impact occurred at the ten-year mark.

Those women with the highest levels of vitamin C were found to have the lowest blood pressure. The average difference was just under 5 points for the systolic reading (the top number) and just over 6 points for the diastolic reading (the bottom number).

This is good news for young women. Those who are stressed now have one additional, quite simple way to fight high blood pressure. Those who are already laid way back will most likely find even more good reasons to say, “Ah, maybe tomorrow.”

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about foods rich in vitamin C, see this from the World’s Healthiest Foods.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Don’t Rush C-Sections

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Two More Weeks?!

Of course it goes without saying—it’s been a long pregnancy. Really long. And, even though you remain totally committed to your precious little soon-to-be-daughter-or-son, if this goes on any longer you may have to kick them out of the house years earlier than planned. Yes—a C-section sounds better all the time.

Not so fast…

A recent study reveals that timing is critical in opting for a C-section delivery. Choosing to deliver your baby even a few days early can cause significant respiratory problems and other health issues.

"The cesarean rate in the United States has risen dramatically, from 20.7 percent in 1996 to 31.1 percent in 2006,” said lead researcher Alan T.N. Tita, M.D., Ph.D. “A major reason is the decline in attempted vaginal births after cesarean. Because elective cesareans can be scheduled to accommodate patient and physician convenience, there is a risk that they may be performed earlier than is appropriate. We knew from previous small studies that infants born before 39 weeks gestation are at increased risk for respiratory distress. Because nearly 40 percent of the cesareans performed in the United States each year are repeat procedures, we undertook this large study to describe the timing of elective repeat cesareans and assess its relationship with the risk of various adverse neonatal outcomes."

The 39 week threshhold appears to be the critical factor. Though many physicians consider full gestation to be 37 weeks, those babies delivered at 37 weeks were twice as likely to suffer from complications as infants delivered at 39 weeks. Babies delivered at 38 weeks were still one and one-half times more vulnerable.

So, though it grows more painful to do so with each passing day, take a deep breath. Don’t beg your doctor for a C-section at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of week 37. After all, when the time really does come to "gently encourage" your now fully grown child out the door and into the pathways of real life, you’ll want to have the assurance they’re starting off in vigorous health.

To read more about the study, and to see an interview with Dr, Tita, see this from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. To learn more about having a healthy pregnancy, see this from the American Pregnancy Association.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Alternative Medical Treatments Popular

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Some Alternative Home Remedies Fail...

Sure, it’s nice to be popular. Who doesn’t want people excitedly talking about them to friends, family, and the occasional passerby? But, just because “Johnny jumps off a cliff…” Well, we all know the rest of that age-old parental admonition. So, it appears the real issue comes down to good old-fashioned work—as in does it or doesn’t it? Work, that is…

Of course, when it comes to alternative medical treatments, that’s at the heart of the debate. Do these, typically untested, treatments really do what they say—relieve pain, lower cholesterol, calm the nerves? Or, is it all a giant scheme to fleece unsuspecting seekers-of-health out of their quickly dwindling cash? Hmm…

Regardless of which side of the debate you support, more Americans than ever are turning to alternative treatments for a wide variety of illnesses. A recent survey found that 38 percent of U.S. adults used some form of alternative medicine in 2007. That’s up from 36 percent who did so in 2002. Yes, it’s a surprisingly stable figure, despite the ongoing debate.

The most common reason for choosing an alternative approach is pain—especially back pain. Some of the most popular alternative approaches for pain reduction are chiropractic, message therapy and acupuncture. This area makes terrific sense, as even traditional physicians admit that pain is a tricky area, both difficult to diagnose and to treat.

Natural products are also widely used, often to treat high blood pressure and to lower cholesterol. The most commonly used natural product: fish oil.

To read more about the survey, see this from Reuters. To learn more about alternative medical treatments, see this from the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fruit Cordials Take on the Common Cold

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Ahh - This Should Help...

Leave it to the Brits. While the rest of the sneezing, sniveling, shivering mass of humanity is hunkering down for a long hard winter, the Brits are enjoying a hot totty. Not just any hot totty, of course, but a hot totty with a purpose: seek out and destroy the common cold.

Researchers at the Common Cold Centre have found that drinking hot fruit cordials are quite effective in fighting the common cold. “It is surprising that this is the first scientific research on the benefit of a hot drink for treating cold and flu symptoms,” said The Centre’s Director, Professor Ron Eccles.

Eccles and his team found the fruit cordials—they chose apple and blackberry currant for their research—offered immediate relief from the sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and other common cold symptoms. But, as an added bonus of sorts, the cordial’s effects were also persistent, continuing to relieve symptoms for a sustained period.

The report didn’t specify whether the researchers used an alcohol-infused cordial or a teetotaler’s version. It was reported, however, that the team of scientists was later seen enjoying a pint at the local pub.

The Common Cold Centre is the only facility in the world strictly dedicated to finding new cures for the common cold and flu.

…Leave it to the Brits.

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To learn more about this unique research center, see this from the Common Cold Centre.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Are Big Pharma's Ad Changes Enough ?

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How Fast Are You?

It's a familiar situation, played out in countless households every night. It's well after midnight and someone, maybe even a child, develops a sudden fever. Chills and nausea quickly follow and, well, it's probably just a stomach flu. But then things go from bad to worse and the ankles start to ache, there's a sharp pain just beneath the rib cage on the right side, and...

You know it's time to take action so, though it's terribly late, you do what any responsible person would-you flip on the television and start channel surfing like your life depends on it.

OK, so it may not be quite that bad, but the money spent in Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising is over the top. And, sadly, more Americans are getting their health information from these television commercials every day.

But, is that a problem?

Consider: the drug industry spends about $5 billion every year in DTC ads. Ads that Big Pharma says are designed to inform and educate the public about a variety of treatment options. Much in the same way, one can imagine, that Hollywood trailers are designed to disseminate accurate information about a movies content, allowing a better-informed public to make a reasoned decision at the box office.

Consider: there are currently just a handful of countries that allow Direct-to-Consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. OK, so "handful" is a stretch, unless the hand in question has been diminished through an unfortunate accident. Only the United States and New Zealand allow this type of direct targeting of consumers.

So, is that a problem?

Well, that depends. If you feel you can trust Big Pharma to be square with you about its wares, and you're really quick with the remote, you may be good. But if you'd like to play things a bit more cautiously, you may want to cancel that late night appointment with the television "doctor" and find a less biased resource.

To read more about the advertising changes Big Pharma is promising, see this from Reuters. To find reference information about specific prescription medications, see this from Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.