What’s Happening in Health
Shop Contact Us DECEMBER 2009

Nearly time to make New Year’s Resolutions!
Maybe the research news and natural health tips below can help guide your choices. Here’s wishing you a joyous holiday season!

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This month’s articles:
Mammogram Confusion
When new guidelines contradict old wisdom, what should women do? Read more
Can Caffeine Counteract Too Much Alcohol?
Coffee may be the age-old answer; but new data might make you reconsider. Read more
Eggs: The New Weight Loss Secret
Two eggs daily = 65% more weight loss. Read more
Frankincense Extract Soothes Arthritis Pain
Best of all: it works really fast! Read more
4 Best Foods for Prostate Health
Even reverse annoying enlargement. Read more
Medication in Motion
Tai Chi can lower your risk of falling 50%! Read more

Cranberry & Pecan Rice Pilaf
Whether it’s served hot or cold, this colorful side dish is a great addition to any holiday table.

■ 4 cups cooked brown rice (or couscous)
■ 1 cup dried cranberries
■ 1 tsp grated orange rind
■ ¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Prepare rice or couscous. Stir in cranberries, orange rind and pecans. (Try cooking the rice or couscous in chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. Delicious!)

Holiday Pie Crust


Should You Get a Mammogram? And how Often?
Last month, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force dramatically changed their recommendations on when (and how often) women should have routine mammograms. To make matters even more perplexing, the federal panel’s new guidelines contradict longstanding advice from the American Cancer Society (ACS). The lively debate will undoubtedly continue for several months, but here are the major questions being asked…  
What exactly are the new guidelines? There are three important changes.
■ Until age 50, women do not need routine mammograms unless they are considered to be at increased risk for breast cancer. (See factors that define this higher-risk category.)
■ Between ages 50 and 74, women should have a routine mammogram every two years. Beyond age 74, the panel concluded that both the benefits and risks of the test are scientifically uncertain.
■ Monthly self-examination is no longer recommended and the value of a doctor’s manual exam is not scientifically certain.
What makes this new advice so controversial?  It departs significantly from the old standard, which was a mammogram every year, for every woman, starting at age 40 along with monthly self exam (and an annual doctor’s manual exam).  Some experts worry that the new guidelines will keep younger women from being routinely screened in time for early diagnosis and, therefore, optimal treatment.  
How common is breast cancer? It’s the most common cancer in American women.Experts say that 1 in every 8 will develop the disease. Just for the sake of comparison, lung cancer (the second most common malignancy in females) strikes one in 14 women. Maybe even more important, in terms of reacting to the new guidelines: a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases steadily with age. 


     Your age…     Your risk for breast cancer

  20 years

  1 in 1,985

  30 years

  1 in 229

  40 years

  1 in 68

  50 years

  1 in 37

  60 years

  1 in 26

  70 years

  1 in 24


Do mammograms improve your odds? Research definitely shows that they reduce your chances of dying from the disease. Overall, your risk of dying from breast cancer after age 40 is 3 percent. Scientific studies indicate that getting an annual mammogram lowers that risk by 15 percent in women between the ages of 40 and 59.
So why not start having a yearly mammogram, as early as possible? The fact is, nobody thinks mammography is an ideal diagnostic tool. Screenings don’t always detect abnormalities that are present, especially in younger women because the density of their breast tissue makes images difficult to read. Ironically, however, this helps explain why almost half of all mammograms done on women under age 50 yield “suspicious” results that require follow-up tests, often including biopsies. These supplemental procedures can be painful and they themselves involve risks. For example, mammograms expose women to radiation, and while many experts feel the risks are insignificant, others say that premenopausal women screened annually over a 10-year period are exposed to enough radiation to potentially increase their risk of developing the disease. And the younger the woman, the more sensitive her breast is to radiation exposure.   
Will insurance still cover annual mammograms for women under 50? Maybe, but there’s no guarantee.  Insurance companies are strongly influenced by private groups, such as the ACS, which still recommends annual screens beginning at age 40. Additionally, companies also tend to cover the cost of tests that qualified medical professionals deem necessary. So if you speak with your doctor and decide together that, despite the new guidelines, you should be screened annually—then regardless of your age, your provider may pay. Worst case scenario, you can always pay out-of-pocket for the test, which generally costs about $100.
What’s the bottom line? The panel urges every woman to discuss the matter with her physician and come to an agreement about how best to protect her health. Also worth noting: respected research shows that women can reduce their risk for breast cancer by limiting alcohol intake, exercising regularly and maintaining appropriate weight. Breast feeding for at least several months also reduces risk, as does avoiding post-menopausal hormone therapy. 

What Increases Your Risk for Breast Cancer?
1. Two first-degree relatives (a mother, sister or daughter) or second-degree relatives (a       grandmother, aunt or granddaughter) who developed breast cancer before age 50.

2. Three first- or second-degree relatives who developed breast cancer at any age.

3. A known gene mutation that is linked with breast cancer.

Can Caffeine Really Counter Too Much Alcohol?
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have learned that coffee isn’t as good an antidote to alcohol as many people think. The caffeine does counteract the “subjective” effects of too many drinks, but doesn’t reverse the “performance” effects. So people think they’re sober, but their reaction time and judgment remain just as impaired. That’s why, says investigator Roland Griffiths, “College kids who are using combinations of caffeine and alcohol are more likely to be involved in accidents than those consuming just alcohol.” Amazing-Health Tip: Help soothe hangover pain by drinking a banana milkshake sweetened with honey. It works!


Eggs: The New Weight Loss Secret

Containing a whopping 5 grams of fat apiece, eggs have been eliminated by many people 

aiming for a healthy diet. Recent studies suggest that they may want to reconsider. A Louisiana State University investigation enrolled overweight research subjects. Half were asked to eat two eggs for breakfast at least five times a week. The others were asked to eat a bagel (which contained the same number of calories). After two months, investigators found that those who ate eggs consumed, on average, 300 fewer calories each day. They lost 65% more weight, reduced their waist measurement 83% more and reported feeling more energetic than their bagel-eating counterparts. Amazing-Health Tip: Avoid eggs if you have diabetes. A recent study of nearly 118,000 people with the disease found that those who ate even one egg daily increased their risk of heart disease.


Frankincense Extract Soothes Arthritis Pain
Results are out on the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trail on the effects of frankincense extract in relieving osteoarthritis pain. The University of California-Davis study lasted 90 days and involved 75 patients. The treatment group not only showed significant improvement in knee joint function and marked reduction in pain; but benefits were felt as quickly as seven days after starting to take the extract.   Amazing-Health Tip: You can read the full research study abstract at http://arthritis-research.com/content/10/4/R85


The 4 Best Foods for Prostate Health

Benign prostate enlargement is the curse of middle age men worldwide. More than half eventually develop the condition—with its annoying urgency, painful urination, weak stream and sometimes erectile dysfunction. Researchers have published findings from the large, ongoing Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. They tracked 24,000 men over 14 years and saw a lower incidence of enlargement among men with diets high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and lutein. These men were up to 16% less likely to suffer with symptoms and the findings were most striking when the nutrients were consumed from food rather than packaged supplements. Particularly protective are orange juice, peas, peaches and spinach. Amazing-Health Tip: Use frozen food in dishes where they retain their natural liquid. Otherwise you’re losing valuable nutrients. 


Tai Chi, the Ultimate Exercise
Americans are living longer, but falling more. Researchers at Washington University in Saint Louis recently reported that about one in every three people over age 70 falls each year. Nearly 2 million of them are injured seriously enough that they seek an emergency room. Experts agree that the best way to avoid falling is to improve your balance. The simplest approach is to practice standing first on one leg and then the other, with your eyes closed. (Be sure there’s something nearby to grab onto if you stumble.) A more formalized approach is tai chi, the ancient Chinese martial art that stresses slow, balanced movements. Four separate studies have found that doing tai chi three times a week for three months can lower your risk of falling by as much as 50%. And not a single injury was reported by any study participants. Amazing-Health Tip: To learn more about the benefits of tai chi and where classes are offered in your area, visit http://www.americantaichi.org



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