Saturday, March 31, 2007


Nearly every time I have had a blood test the doctor has told me that my triglycerides were high. Of course this was before I became a vegetarian, stopped drinking soda, lost a lot of weight, etc. I don’t know what they would say now.

Triglycerides are supposed to contribute to heart disease, atherosclerosis, and risk of heart attack. According to the, some ways to lower your triglycerides include: lose weight, eat fewer calories, avoid sugary foods, limit cholesterol, use healthier fats like olive oil, exercise, and avoid alcohol.

Ok, well I have lost about 12 pounds, and my BMI says I am nowhere close to being overweight. I accomplished the weight loss by eating fewer calories and doubling my exercise time to one hour per day. I don’t eat cake, cookies, doughnuts, soft drinks, milk chocolate, muffins, pancakes, cupcakes, meat, or much of anything else that is bad for me anymore. I do have a little sugar with my green tea and with my morning cheerios. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. I also eat a lot of ethnic food such as Indian and Middle Eastern, because they have a strong and very tasty vegetarian component. I do have a glass or two of wine per evening (the article says to avoid alcohol for triglycerides, but other articles praise the role of alcohol in preventing heart disease) and I do take fish oil, which is supposed to help, so I feel that I am doing about everything I can humanly do to keep my triglycerides low. If the alcohol makes them high, I may eventually cut that out, but sometimes I really feel like I am in the process of giving up everything that is really good to eat, and I hope it is all worth it. (That is not totally accurate. I do eat a lot of good food, it is just not fast food, or junk food, or things like that. Besides I have eaten enough of that unhealthy stuff in the past. If I never eat anymore of it I will be a lot better off. If I want to be healthy I must take responsibility for my health, and to me that means eating a healthy diet, which I did not do for the first 40 or 50 years of my life.)

In order to get my weight down I drastically changed my evening snacking routine. And at the present time I am in the process of changing my snacks again because I would like to lose another five pounds, and I think the way to do that is to cut even more fat from my diet, à la Dean Ornish. Dr. Ornish recommends that if I want to reverse heart disease, according to his formula I should consume no more than about 23 grams of fat per day. Now considering that I might consume 23 grams of fat before lunch, especially if I have some heart-healthy walnuts, and a teaspoon of heart-healthy fish oil, that does not leave me with room for much more fat for the rest of the day and night. So I have stopped eating pistachio nuts because even though they have a lot of monounsaturated fats, that is still a lot of fat. (I might not be doing any of this if I had not smoked for so long.)

Anyway, I expect to continue my war with triglycerides and fats in general. For those who want to join me in the fight, or who just find out more information, here are some interesting articles:

This article says that green tea lowers triglycerides. I drink two cups of green tea per day.

This article has some very important information on maintaining a healthy heart.

No post would be complete unless Wikipedia told us how to reduce triglycerides.

This article has a very thorough and interesting discussion of triglycerides. It says, “Anything that increases blood glucose will potentially increase triglycerides.” I eat a lot of fruit, and I drink wine and pomegranate juice, all of which is supposed to be healthy for my heart. But all of them have a significant amount of sugar. Granted, most of it is fructose, not glucose, but I wonder what effect fructose has on triglycerides. In looking around quickly on the internet it is difficult to get a definitive answer. Here is another article about which I am not sure.

Here are nine ways to lower blood fats, including triglycerides.

This article says that exercising in the morning before breakfast helps keep triglycerides low all day. I have one reservation about that: since most heart attacks happen in the morning I am a little hesitant to do my exercising then, and especially before breakfast.

As I said, I am doing all I can do for now to keep my triglycerides low. It remains to be seen if there is anything else I can do. In the meantime I must go eat lunch now and hope I don't eat too much fat or sugar. Boy, it can be difficult to eat a healthy diet.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

HDL and Carbohydrates

I think I eat a lot of carbohydrates, so you can imagine my consternation when I read that eating carbs causes a reduction in HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol. I could not imagine giving up pasta or any other carbs for that matter. Yet I wanted to increase my HDL, because it is supposed to help fight heart disease and clogged arteries. This article, however, says that eating carbs may not be a problem after all. Sure, they still lower HDL, but according to the article “lower HDL probably means less HDL is needed to remove cholesterol from peripheral tissues.”

I don’t know about all that, but I do feel somewhat better having read the above article. Here is another article that credits a low fat, high carb diet with a 12% reduction in overall risk of cardiovascular disease compared with the average American diet. That looks good. And besides, these diets do not exist in a vacuum. For example, if I exercise for an hour per day, that has a beneficial effect on my HDL level, doesn’t it? And certain foods in my diet also have a similar effect, not to mention taking niacin. So even though HDL levels may fall under certain circumstances, they also rise under certain other circumstances.

There are a lot of articles out there that talk about raising HDL or reducing LDL. Here is one article on boosting your HDL levels. Here is an article on food and cholesterol.

The Mediterranean Diet is supposed to be very healthy, but it contains a significant amount of carbs. (Can you imagine Italians not eating pasta or pizza? Give me a break.) Some other diets are not intrinsically unhealthy. For example, can you imagine billions of people in Asia not eating rice?

This article says “a healthy diet should consist of approximately 60% carbohydrates.” That sounds good. I think I will stop worrying. We need carbs. And besides, what are my options, start eating meat again? That is not going to happen. So I will just enjoy my meals with pasta or rice or bread and do all I can, aside from that, to live a healthy lifestyle, with exercise and stress reduction. That is all I can do, at least for now.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Multiple Sclerosis

A woman from England wrote to me yesterday and asked if I knew of any new treatments for Multiple Sclerosis. As fate would have it I had run into this article recently, and I was happy to be able to pass it along for her information. (In case that link does not work, here is another.) Basically the article says that women, when they are pregnant, often have fewer symptoms of MS than when they are not pregnant. They think this is due to the action of Estriol, a female hormone produced by the placenta. In one study four years ago, women who were given Estriol experienced “an 80 percent drop in inflammatory lesions in the brain, a hallmark of the disease.” That is really great, and I think it gives some hope to sufferers of MS. The article goes on to say that more studies are going to be done with Estriol, and researchers are optimistic about the drug’s potential.

Here is more information on MS.

Here is more information on Estriol and MS.

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Premature Babies

In giving birth to babies prematurely, mothers who were treated with nitroglycerin “had significantly healthier babies.” This is great news considering that caring for premature infants can be very expensive, not to mention the emotional impact that such a birth can have on the family.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stents and Drugs

I am still digesting the study about stents and heart medication. Of course some of it depends on which article one reads. Some articles say that most angioplasties are unnecessary. Other articles say other things. It is a lot to digest. For a long time now I have been convinced that angioplasty and/or bypass was the way to go. Now I am not so sure. The conclusion seems to be that as long as I do not have an emergency situation, then drug therapy is just as good as angioplasty, etc. Actually that is good news to me. Of course I do not want to start taking a bunch of pills, but I think I would rather take them than have someone put a stent in one of my arteries.

Jeffry Fawcett at Your Own Health and Fitness has an interesting take on the whole thing. He says, in effect, that you can resist those who want to stick a stent in your artery, unless you get caught up in the fog of fear, and give in to the inertia that will exist once you enter an emergency room. It is difficult to resist that inertia, especially if you are in enough pain. As Fawcett says, “most importantly you can take control by taking care of your heart and your blood vessels so you won’t get wheeled into the emergency room in the first place.” I am with him on that. I just hope that all my efforts now will trump all the indiscretions of my youth – smoking, eating at McDonald’s, ordering fried food instead of baked, etc. And I also hope that today’s youth do not have to learn their lessons the hard way. I hope they can take care of their hearts and blood vessels. Maybe I am hoping for too much.

As a followup on the above study, they are now saying that the results of the study are unlikely to change the status quo: doctors will probably continue putting in stents, even though some of them are apparently unnecessary. That may be true generally, but the results of this study have certainly changed my attitude toward the whole thing. Now, if I am faced with an angioplasty, I will certainly explore other alternatives. (I know a thing or two about getting railroaded into a procedure that I ended up regretting. As I have said before, I wish I had not had that prostate biopsy in 2000. I think it was unnecessary.) In any event, I will continue to digest this latest news. I am thankful that, so far, I am not faced with a medical crisis. That gives me the opportunity now, with no pressure, to consider what I might do if I am faced with a medical crisis in the future.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Breast Cancer

Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may cut your risk of getting breast cancer.

Controlling fat, whether it be how much of it you eat, or how much body fat you have, may decrease your risk of getting breast cancer.

Can exercise reduce your risk of getting breast cancer?

According to this story, some day you may be able to get a painless, 3-D mammogram.

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Exercise After 55

This article suggests that you may still benefit from a supervised exercise routine even if you start it after the age of 55. In this study there were two groups, both aged 55 to 75. One group exercised and the other group remained sedentary. After ten years the group that exercised showed a 3.5% increase in fitness. I feel bad for the sedentary group, though, because they had a 13.8% decrease in fitness and also had other problems, such as symptoms of metabolic syndrome. And it did not have to be that way. Apparently all they had to do to feel better was exercise like the other group did.

The thing is, though, I don’t think any of this is really unexpected. If you don’t exercise, you’re not going to be as fit as you would be if you did exercise. If you get up and move around, in many cases it will be easier for you to get up and move around.

On the other hand, if people know that exercise is good for them but they don’t do it, it is a little hard to really feel sorry for them.

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High levels of zinc have now been found to be associated with the eye deposits that contribute to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Previously zinc had been associated with the plaque buildup in brains of Alzheimer’s patients. What does all this mean? Who knows? It might be one of those pieces of information that, at the present time, we are better off not knowing, because there may be nothing we can do about it. Zinc is found in such food as chickpeas, peanut butter, frozen peas, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and cheddar cheese, so there doesn’t seem to be any way of avoiding it. Nor would we want to, I suppose. Zinc is an essential nutrient which in many cases contributes to good health. So I’ll repeat: what is it doing in the eyes of AMD patients and the brains of Alzheimer’s patients? I don’t think we know yet, but someone somewhere is working to solve that puzzle.

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I don’t take aspirin, but those who do might be interested in this research: “lower doses of aspirin may be as effective as higher doses when used to prevent blood clots after procedures such as angioplasty and stenting.” It also seemed to reduce “the long-term risk of major bleeding.” By low dose they mean less than 100 milligrams, as opposed to 200+ milligrams, which would be high dose.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Oral Cancer

I went to the dentist the other day and he offered me a new diagnostic test to screen for oral cancer: Vizilite Plus. After some temporary anxiety I made a quick decision on the spot and decided to go ahead and have the screening.

With this new test I had to rinse my mouth with a special liquid, spit it out, and then let the doctor look into my mouth with a special light. The liquid and the light together are supposed to disclose any problem areas and make them easier for the doctor to see. The whole procedure was painless, relatively quick, and cost $55. I guess I’m glad I had it done, especially since it didn’t turn up any problem areas for me. Whew!

If you have to go to the dentist or the periodontist anytime soon, you might be given this same decision: have the test, don’t have the test? You might want to read up on it beforehand.

More diagnostic tests like this are certainly in our future. I mentioned the other day about a saliva test to detect breast cancer. And while Vizilite Plus is not a saliva test, there are more saliva tests in development.

I think all this is really good, and I think this is what scientists should be doing instead of genetically modifying our food supply. Better diagnostic tools are always welcome as far as I’m concerned.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Coronary Artery Disease

I grew up with a copy of the Merck Manual in my home. I didn’t read it much myself, but my father was something of a hypochondriac, so he was always reading it. The thing about the Merck Manual is that it, like the Bible, contains no jokes. It is a very serious book. If you are looking for information about a particular disease, the Merck Manual probably has a no nonsense, very clinical, and authoritative discussion of it. At least that is the way I remember it used to be.

Yesterday I was looking for information about diagnosing narrowing of the arteries. I ran across this article in the Merck Manual online that says, “Doctors diagnose angina largely based on a person's description of the symptoms.” This is very interesting to me. That’s a little subjective, isn’t it? I thought they would give you an MRI, shoot some dye into your blood stream, something like that. In all fairness, though, if you scroll down the page a bit, there are other methods of evaluating coronary artery disease. I just thought it was funny that doctors would rely on patients to diagnose angina, but as I said, there are no jokes in the Merck Manual.

Then, however, the article goes on to say that “Treatment begins with attempts to slow the progression of coronary artery disease or to reverse it by dealing with risk factors.” Dealing with risk factors means quitting smoking, eating a low-fat diet, exercising, and losing weight, among other things. That is amazing. According to this you are supposed to be able to slow or reverse heart disease by dealing with these risk factors. And the thing is, I am already doing all these things. I quit smoking 23 years ago; I became a vegetarian, and cut out a lot of fat in my diet (particularly trans fat) about 6 years ago; I have been exercising since I quit smoking; and I lost about 12 pounds recently, down to about 140 (BMI of 21.9, which is right in the middle of “normal weight” BMI) so in theory I am already doing all I can to prevent progression of coronary artery disease and avoid having a bypass operation, which was one of my main motives in dealing with these risk factors in the first place.

Let me say that Dr. Dean Ornish advocates pretty much the same thing (dealing with those risk factors) in his book on reversing heart disease. I have been sort of following his recommendations for about five or six years. From what I have seen, Ornish has not gotten very good press recently. In fact, a lot of articles that came out several weeks ago loudly trumpeted the fact that Atkins beat Ornish in a study on losing weight. Ornish published an article in Newsweek that attempted to rebut many of those claims. None of that really matters to me, though, because from what I now understand, the Merck Manual agrees with Ornish. That is good enough for me.

As I say, I have been following Ornish for some time now. (I admit that I have been eating a little too much fat recently, mainly from olive oil and pistachio nuts, but I think I’m going to change all that. I think I am going to seriously limit my fat intake like I used to do and see what happens.) On the whole, though, I plan to continue doing what I have been doing. I seem to be doing all the right things. I wasn’t sure before, but I feel a lot better now that I’ve read it in the Merck Manual.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Medical Tourism, Hospitals, Etc.

Dick Gordon has a program produced at North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC – entitled The Story. There was an interesting item on his program recently about a man who had no health insurance but who needed open heart surgery. Apparently the man found a hospital in New Delhi, India that was willing to perform the operation for a small fraction of the amount charged by hospitals in this country. Listen to that story, Outsourcing Healthcare, and more here.

This story, as you can imagine, interested me a lot. So far I don’t have a diagnosed medical problem, but I smoked for a long time and being a realist I feel that a stay in the hospital may be in my future. I don’t know if I would want to go to India to have surgery. Fortunately I have hospital insurance, which presumably would cover most of my hospital expenses. I realize I still might have to pay a considerable amount of money beyond what the insurance would cover, but I suppose I would still choose a hospital in the United States.

U.S. News and World Report published a list of the best hospitals in the country. Within that list is a ranking of the best hospitals for different specialties, including heart surgery. Apparently the best of the best is the Cleveland Clinic. (I find it interesting that most of the major heart centers are found in places like Cleveland which, as far as I know, is not known as a center of vegetarianism.)

I don’t know who would seriously consider medical tourism. For those of you who would, maybe you can find more information here. This hospital is supposed to be the best one in India. It may be the one where the man who was interviewed by Dick Gordon went, I’m not sure. The figures may be outdated, but apparently you can get a bypass for $6,000 instead of ten times as much; a nose job for $2,000; hip replacement for around $4,300. I don’t know – this is looking better. This place provides a real comprehensive service. They provide an escort to stay with you until full recovery. They have package deals which enable you to sightsee throughout the country. Check out their tour packages. Here is some more. And here is a page on cardiac care. Wow. It sounds really cool. I might go for a hip replacement or a knee replacement. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just go to India for a vacation. I don’t have to get major surgery and a tour guide, even though it is tempting. It’s funny how appealing things can appear online.

Medical tourism, for me, may involve nothing more bold than going to Duke Hospital if I ever need major surgery instead of going to one of the hospitals in Raleigh, where I live. Duke is twenty-some miles down the road and that is a long enough trip for me. Besides, it is supposed to be the seventh best hospital in this country for heart surgery, better even than the one where President Clinton had his bypass operation. So right now I am thinking Duke, even though I am not particularly partial to their basketball team. But I will not tell them that if I ever need to go to their hospital. In fact, maybe I’ll buy a Duke Blue jersey to wear over there. And who knows, if I ever need an operation, and if it is successful, and if I come back home alive, then maybe I would finally become a Duke fan after all. Stranger things have happened . . . .

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

This would be really cool if it worked out: scientists are working on a new diagnostic tool for detecting breast cancer in women. It might be possible for dentists to routinely administer a simple test of women’s saliva to screen for breast cancer. The idea is that people go to the dentist more often than they go to the doctor, so the dentists would be likely candidates for administering the test.

I wonder how the dentists feel about this, though. It is one thing to tell someone they need a root canal. It is quite another thing to tell someone they may have cancer. Of course, the sooner any diagnosis is made, the better off the patient is.

If we can save lives by having better diagnostic tools, then I am all for it. Maybe they’ll develop saliva tests for other cancers as well.

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Lung Cancer and Green Tea

This article says that drinking green tea may reduce your risk of getting lung cancer. I drink green tea, but I don’t think I could do five cups a day like the article suggests. Two cups are my maximum right now, one morning, one afternoon. Otherwise I’d be going to the bathroom too much. I suppose one could take green tea extract. Maybe I’ll consider doing that? Anyway, here are more articles for further reading.

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Obesity and Prostate Cancer

Here is an article on prostate cancer and obesity. Basically it says that losing weight may reduce the risk of dying of prostate cancer. Now the researchers don’t have definitive proof that obesity makes you more likely to die of that disease, but some people don’t need definitive proof. I am one of those. I will continue to control my weight because I do not want to die of some weight-related disease. What will others do? I cannot say. But for me a word to the wise is sufficient: losing weight may reduce the risk of dying of prostate cancer. If others choose to ignore that – well, is that wise?

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Inflammation Is Bad!

I talked about inflammation in my previous post. The following information is very important, and I did not want its importance to be lost or obscured. This article says that there is a much greater risk of heart disease from inflammation than from cholesterol.

Some ways to combat inflammation include: cutting SUGAR and PROTEIN, taking fish oil, drinking alcohol (I do not recommend drinking alcohol – I am just passing on what I read), losing weight, as well as taking vitamin C.

So, now let’s all reduce our inflammation and get healthy!

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Recent research suggests that inflammation may be the culprit that causes prostate cancer to metastisize. The article goes on to say “promoting inflammation of the cancerous tissue, for instance, by performing prostate biopsies, may, ironically, hasten progression of metastasis.” They use the word “ironically.” I might say “tragically.” I assume that the prostate biopsies they are talking about are necessary. If not, then the situation would be even more tragic, especially in this day when some people are talking about a wait and see approach to prostate cancer. If, however, “inflammation associated with the progression of tumors actually plays a key role in the metastasis of prostate cancer,” then that would seem support the idea that the sooner we get rid of the cancer the better, because presumably we would be avoiding the inflammation.

I know I seem ambivalent in this post – operate, don’t operate – but prostate problems apparently are complicated, and it is sometimes difficult to know what to do.

Don’t get me started on biopsies, though. I wish I had never had one. There was really nothing wrong with me at the time and I think my biopsy was unnecessary. Now they’re saying that doing biopsies could trigger a process that leads to cancer’s metastisizing? Lord, save me from the doctors.

One thing about it all, though: I think we can draw the conclusion that inflammation is not a good thing. I personally am doing everything I can do to keep inflammation down, as I talked about yesterday in the post “More Reasons to Lose Weight,” and as I will touch on in my next post "Inflammation is Bad."

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Monday, March 19, 2007

More Reasons to Lose Weight

The bad news:
Obese patients have a higher risk of complications following surgery than non-obese patients, including a five times greater rate of heart attack, and nearly twice the rate of death.

Abdominal fat may promote inflammation that leads to heart disease and other conditions.

The good news:
Oily fish, omega-3, and fish oil may reduce inflammation.

Fiber in your diet may help reduce inflammation. Note: there is not much fiber in burgers or in many snack foods.

And lo and behold, exercise may help reduce inflammation. (Please talk to your doctor if you are planning to start exercising.)

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Pancreatic Cancer

Someone asked me recently how taking vitamins might affect getting pancreatic cancer. I don’t know the answer to that really, but I do know that taking vitamin D might cut your risk of getting it.

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Purple Grape Juice

Apparently purple grape juice has the most antioxidants of any of the juices. We may have already suspected that but it is good to have an article like this to confirm it. Purple grape juice may help prevent heart disease, and it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 76%. That is great.

Welch’s, which is not a neutral observer in all this, nevertheless has some interesting information on their website.

This website says that grape juice may contain more resveratrol than is contained in many wines. And it gives you a link where you can order grape juice concentrate direct from growers. That is wonderful, although I would rather have organic if I could. Apparently one quart of concentrate can make more than one gallon of juice drink.

Here are other articles for your reference.

The only problem with the grape juice, besides its not being organic, is that it contains a significant number of calories. So whatever you choose to do with your diet, you need to balance the number of calories you take in with the number of calories you actually need. Otherwise you might gain weight.

I have been looking at the purple grape juice recently in the grocery store. I would drink it occasionally. It is important to get your nourishment from a variety of sources. Besides, it is cheaper than buying a bottle of wine, and a lot safer in some respects.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Walk-2-Quit (Smoking, that is)

If you’re trying to quit smoking, a short walk or moderate exercise might help reduce cravings. I know it helped me. When I quit in 1984 I often went for a walk to avoid smoking. Also I would often go to bed to avoid smoking. Whatever it takes to quit – as long as it is legal and ethical – is all right with me. It is important that everyone quit smoking, but you have to really want to quit or else it will not work.

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Fruit, Fruit, Good for Your Heart

There’s an old joke of course that begins, “bean, beans, good for you heart. . . .” (The joke aside, beans probably are good for your heart, what with the fiber, etc.) However I don’t want to talk about beans right now. I want to talk about fruit.

This article says that apples, pears, and red wine may reduce the risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women. It goes on to say that, “Women of all ages are encouraged to consume more fruit and vegetables.” This study did not deal with men, but I am sure they could benefit from more fruit and vegetables as well.

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Bumper Sticker Wisdom

I saw a bumper sticker today that said, “Be kind to animals – don’t eat them.” That is one point of view. Another point of view is, “Be kind to yourself – don’t eat animals.”

I think that being a vegetarian is one of the best things someone can do for his or her health. If we all became vegetarian, the only drawback I can see is that certain industries that depend on animal products might lose money. The thing about businesses and industries, however, is that if they lose money in one area, they could easily make money in a different area. So what appears to be a drawback might not actually be a drawback after all. As usual, though, businesses don’t go down without kicking and screaming and making an awful fuss. But people will pay you just as much, maybe more, to give them healthy food as they pay for you to give them unhealthy food. Besides, if you don’t kill your consumers, they will be around longer to give you more money. Providing healthy food really makes good economic sense, and it’s the right thing to do.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blood Sugar and Cancer

High blood sugar increases your risk of cancer? I guess I'm not too surprised, although this article seems to confirm it.

You know, I was beginning to worry a little about the sugar I put in my Cheerios, the sugar in my green tea, all the fruit I eat; but then I remembered that the average American consumes about a gallon of soft drinks per week (somebody else is consuming my gallon because I don’t drink any), so whatever I am doing I think it pales in comparison to what everyone else is doing. I see these people carrying around these Big Gulp-type soft drinks, sipping on them regularly; I go to some (unnamed) fast food restaurants where it is very difficult to buy a truly small soft drink; and if sugar really does increase our risk of cancer, then these places that are selling us all these soft drinks are certainly contributing to the epidemic of cancer in the country.

The article above says, “By avoiding excessive fat and other dietary risk factors, and by getting regular exercise, you can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes -- and cancer." The only problem with all this is that people would defend their right to drink a gallon or more of soft drinks per week a lot more vigorously than they defend their right to kill themselves eating trans fat, etc., so I don’t know how much good reports like these do. There are some people, however, who are glad to make healthy choices, and I suppose those people are glad to know that by limiting their sugar intake they are doing something positive for their lives.

Here is an interesting article. I don’t know how accurate it is. And here are more articles on sugar and cancer.

One more thing: it is getting more and more difficult to ignore the fact that what you eat and how you live can have a profound effect on your health. Think about it.

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Sleep Apnea

Apparently sleep apnea can be a serious condition leading to brain damage and possibly stroke. Here are some articles to help get you up to speed on sleep apnea.

Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Mayo Clinic has great coverage on many subjects, including this one.

Here’s one solution to sleep apnea, albeit a little drastic.

Here are some results from Google. Check the ads, etc, too.

The more you read about sleep apnea, the more you realize how complicated it is. Good luck dealing with it.

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Friday, March 16, 2007


A recent study on the relationship between eating soy and developing prostate cancer apparently came to the conclusion that “intake of isoflavone chemicals, derived largely from soy foods, decreased the risk of localized prostate cancer but increased the risk of advanced prostate cancer.”

The results, of course, seem contradictory, and the situation might be humorous if it were not for the seriousness of the issues involved. These scientists can’t figure out how to explain the results of the study. For example, “they also calculated that the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer was twice as high in men who consumed two or more bowls of miso soup a day than in men who ate less than one bowl of soup.” Isn’t that a little ridiculous? Many people believe that miso soup is very healthy, but this statement seems tantamount to saying that eating more than two bowls of miso soup a day increases the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. Maybe it does, but I don’t believe it. I do, however, believe that eating two cheeseburgers per day increases the risk of prostate cancer. Of course I don’t eat miso soup or cheeseburgers anymore so I don’t have to worry about that.

One good thing about publishing the results of studies like these is that maybe some scientist will come along and either explain the contradictions in this study, or design a better study that will give us some clearer results. In the meantime I plan to continue having Cheerios and soy milk every morning for breakfast.

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

This article says that using a pacifier may lower the risk of SIDS. Let us hope something would help. Too many infants die from this cause.

Just a word about pacifiers, though. Problems can develop with children’s teeth if they use the pacifiers too long. Their top front teeth can be pushed forward somewhat, resulting in problems with their bites, so you might want to try to stop using it before these problems result.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Exercise and Breathing

I think that breathing is a very important part of exercising. Oxygen is like fuel for your blood, your muscles, and your heart, which of course is also a muscle. The reason I bring all this up is that I have been walking a lot – an hour per day – but I don’t think I have been breathing properly or enough. And of course with my new interest in biofeedback, I can see how beneficial proper breathing can be. Here is a rather extensive article on walking and breathing, with lots of links.

One thing about breathing is that when you exhale, that activates the nerve that calms your heart. If you don’t exhale enough, or properly, then maybe your heart remains agitated, your pulse remains elevated, and from what I understand that could increase the possibility of sudden cardiac arrest. (A small digression: eating fatty fish, or taking fish oil – omega-3s – is supposed to reduce heart rate and be good generally for proper functioning of the heart, unless you have heart failure, in which case it could be bad for you.) Whenever I have checked my blood pressure on the machine at the drug store, my pulse rate has seemed rather high, so anything I can do to bring my heart rate down would be good, I think.

Anyway, one thing I have been doing recently on my walks is deliberately breathing. I have been timing my breaths to my steps. Six steps equal one complete cycle of inhale and exhale, except I have been inhaling for two steps, and exhaling four steps, counting 1-2-3-4 on my exhale. This gives me about 20 complete breaths per minute, and 12 to 20 is supposed to be normal, although I'm not sure about the normal breath rate while exercising.

It occurs to me that I might be better off – the breathing might be more meditative – if I inhaled 1-2-3-4 and exhaled 1-2-3-4 – one with each step. This would give me 15 breaths per minute. I might try that soon and see how it works. I thought about doing 1-2-3 inhale and 1-2-3 exhale. Part of the reason I place the emphasis on exhale is because that is what calms the heart. However, there probably should also be a big emphasis on inhale, because that is what gives the heart muscle fuel to function.

Usually when I walk I like to just daydream and think about things. Often I have some of my best ideas while out on a walk. I can still daydream and think about things, but I believe I need to think more about how and how much I am breathing. I believe that would be good for my health.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Breast Cancer

Do antiperspirants cause breast cancer? According to this article “ there was no conclusive research linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants to breast cancer.”

One thing that interests me about this article though is the fact that “ the average adult is exposed to 126 chemicals every day -- just in their personal care product use alone,” and that “one in every 13 women is exposed to a known or a probable human carcinogen every day, with one in every 24 women -- or 4.3 million total -- exposed to personal care ingredients that are known or probable reproductive and developmental toxins.”

I, for one, would like to get rid of all these toxins. But I suppose everyone remembers what happened when people proposed getting rid of trans fats. There was a big uproar, with an extremely vocal segment of society crying FOOD POLICE, or NANNY STATE, or things like that. So I presume if we call for the elimination of toxins in our personal care products you would probably have an extremely vocal segment of society screaming that they have a right to expose themselves to 126 chemicals every day, including reproductive and developmental toxins. Doesn’t anyone see how absurd all that is?

Do antiperspirants cause breast cancer? So far scientists don’t know for certain. But put another way, if I don’t use antiperspirants, then I know for sure that they will not cause me to get breast cancer. If I do use them, then I can’t be so sure. The question then becomes, do I want to take that chance? For me the answer is no. I do just fine without antiperspirants. I daresay that most people do, or would if they gave it a try. In many cases they are just one more thing that we the public have been sold.

If we don’t use these products though, some corporation is not going to make the money they were planning to make. But don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll come up with something else to sell us.

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