Weekly Health Update

“The best six doctors anywhere, and no one can deny it Are sunshine, water, rest, and air, exercise and diet.”
~ Wayne Fields


Mental Health: Living At High Altitude Linked to Depression, Suicide

Utah researchers recently uncovered a startling factoid: while the folks in Utah tend to be some of the physically healthiest in the country, they also have some of the highest rates of mental illness. In fact, in the greater context of the Rocky Mountain states, the cities that sit high atop the mountains tend so strongly toward depression that some have started referring to the mountains as the ‘suicide belt.’ The theory is that living at high altitudes alters your brain chemistry and promotes depression, schizophrenia, and suicide. The theory falters on a global scale, however, as countries like Bhutan and Nepal are high-altitude countries with significantly better mental health overall than the U.S.
Salt Lake Tribune, March 2014

Health Alert: Autism Linked With Environmental Toxin Exposure…and Genes

Researchers from the University of Chicago, led by professor of genetic medicine Andrey Rzhetsky, analyzed data of nearly 100 million children gathered from different states in the United States to measure autism rates and intellectual disability. The study was epidemiological in nature, which means it didn’t focus on finding a single ‘smoking gun’ chemical that was ‘at fault’ — but what they did find is that there is significant evidence that autism happens when certain genetic states coincide with certain environmental circumstances. A glance at the map that comes with the study seems to point to high-fracking areas as being high-autism areas in general, though that may be purely coincidental.
Autism Speaks, March 2014

Diet: ‘Free Sugars’ Strongly Linked to Heart Disease

JAMA last month contained a large study that linked ‘sugar as a percentage of caloric intake’ to ‘death from cardiovascular disease’ and found that the correlation between the two was startling. We all know by now that correlation doesn’t imply causation, but nevertheless the World Health Organization is revising its guidelines, suggesting that ‘free sugars’ (in other words, sugar added to food rather than those naturally occurring within food) should comprise 5% of less of your total caloric intake. (For the record, that would put almost every American breakfast food off limits.)
The Journal of the American Medical Association, February 2014

Exercise: Late-Night Exercise Won’t Mess Up Your Sleep Schedule

The National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll for 2013 finally came back a few weeks ago, with interesting results. It seems that people who get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise sleep better at night — no surprise there. But even people who get that exercise right before bedtime sleep better than people who don’t get it at all — so the old theory that you should use the hour before bed to relax and do nothing has been officially tossed. If you can’t sleep, get some exercise, and try again.
Prevention Magazine, March 2014

Neuromuscular Massage: Amazing Treatment for Back, Neck, Hip and Knee Pain: Pain and Posture

A study from IPSB college showed that in people with chronic hip, knee, and back pain, a simple assessment of their posture can lead to new potential avenues of treatment. They assessed the pelvic tilt of people who reported many years of chronic hip, knee, and back pain. Then, they applied neuromuscular massage therapy intended to correct the posture of the patients — and when the five-week process was complete, they verified that complaints of pain were reduced in rough alignment with the correction of the pelvic tilt accomplished by the neuromuscular massage.
IPSB college, June 2008

Wellness/Prevention: Even Prevention Can Be Overdone

A massive study out of Canada last week revealed that preventive medicine can be taken too far. It turns out that there was zero difference in breast cancer mortality between women ages 35-60 who had annual mammograms and those who did not. What did change was that the women who received mammograms had more false positives, meaning lots of unnecessary fear, stress, and medication.
Modern Healthcare Magazine, February 2014

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