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For June 25, 2019

  • Dieticians look at health effects of coffee
    Dieticians look at health effects of coffee
    From Medical Correspondent Linda Ciampa

    (CNN) -- Millions of Americans jump start their day with a cup of coffee, but what are the health effects of this morning ritual? That is the question being discussed at this week's American Dietetic Association's (ADA) meeting in Atlanta.

    "The research shows us that moderation which is about three cups of coffee a day is fine. It does not cause disease," said ADA's Edith Howard Hogan.

    While it is unlikely that coffee will cause cancer, heart disease or osteoporosis, there are a few reasons some people should cut back on their intake.

    For instance, studies have shown drinking more than three cups of coffee a day may affect a woman's fertility and increase pregnant women's risk of early delivery. And while the evidence in humans is inconclusive, caffeine has been shown to cause birth defects in rats.

    Also to be considered is caffeine's impact on mood and sleep. Dr. John Hughes of the University of Vermont and others say the substance is addictive and for some people, as little as a cup of coffee a day is too much.

    "If you have anxiety or insomnia, it's very important to look at your caffeine intake and cut down on your caffeine and see if that makes it better, because this is an easy fix," said Hughes.

    But stopping cold turkey is not always easy, some people experience withdrawal symptoms including headaches and cramps.

    Experts say caffeine is something that should be given up slowly. The best way to quit is by reducing the number of cups of coffee you drink each day, or diluting the full strength coffee with a decaffeinated version. As you slowly reduce intake the caffeine craving with disappear.

  • Tips to Ease Back Pain
    Tips to Ease Back Pain

    Simple Advice for Preventing and Reducing Back Pain

    (Prevention, September 1999) � Women and men suffer from about the same amount of back pain, but while men most often get long-lasting back pain from lifting too much, women often ache from sitting too much. "The second highest incidence of back pain is reported by sedentary workers, most of whom are women who sit at desks -- often in front of computers all day," says Sheila Reid, P.T., coordinator of rehabilitation services at The Spine Institute of New England in Williston, Vermont. Here are some simple tips for reducing back pain:

    Adjust your work station. "A good chair should be fully adjustable and fit the person who sits in it as well as the tasks that he or she performs," says Annie Pivarski, ergonomics and injury prevention program supervisor at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. To get the best back support, your feet should be flat on the floor and your lower back supported by the back of the chair. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips or level with them, and you shouldn't have to crane to see your computer, says Reid.

    Move around. Every half hour, move around to keep your muscles and spine from stiffening.

    Try a lumbar pillow. Buy one at a medical supply store or just roll up a towel behind your waist for greater lower-back support while you sit at your desk.

    Wear low heels. Low-heeled shoes can sometimes help with arch support, but more than 1 1/2 inches will misalign the curvature of your back, which can lead to back pain. If you must wear heels, save them for special occasions.

    Lift first, turn second. It seems natural: You grab a bag of groceries and turn to load them into the car in one quick movement. Don't do it, say experts. Over time, twisting can lead to herniated disks. Instead, lift your load, hold it close to your abdomen, and then turn, using your feet to get you where you want to go instead of swiveling your hips.

    Stay close to your loads. Think about it: The closer you stand to whatever you're picking up--be it a child, a bag of groceries or a box of office supplies--the less strain you put on your muscles. Here's the right technique:

    Beginning in a standing position, squat from your knees rather than bending from the waist to pick up the load. Plant your feet firmly in front of you, one foot slightly ahead. Once you have your arms around it, keep the load as close to your abdomen as possible while lifting and lowering. And use both hands so that you lift symmetrically.

  • Treating Overuse Injuries
    Treating Overuse Injuries

    Johns Hopkins Health

    You will usually feel the discomfort of an overuse injury within 24 hours. The main symptoms are a dull ache, a twinge when the joint is moved a certain way, or a burning or shooting pain when the injured area is touched or weight is put on it. Swelling may occur and you will find that exercise causes discomfort or pain.

    Because overuse injuries are caused by repeated stressing of the same tissue over and over, the most important treatment is to immediately stop whatever activity caused the irritation in the first place. You should then see your doctor about further treatment. Often, 2 or 3 weeks of rest will allow the inflammation to subside, but your doctor might also want to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, like NSAIDS (which include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen), cortisone or other drugs.

    During the first 48 hours after the injury, an ice pack (applied every few hours) is particularly helpful in reducing swelling. Sports medicine specialists now think ice application is the best treatment for an inflamed joint or area. It should be applied daily for 30 minutes and after workouts. Ice should be applied everyday at least once and preferably twice, for as many days as needed for the pain to resolve. Heat is now recommended only for stretching, especially muscle strains.

    It's also important to identify exactly what caused the inflammation and learn how to avoid it in the future. Sometimes this may mean cutting back on a certain activity, or switching to one that is less stressful on your joints (for example, substituting swimming or cycling for running or walking). Equipment should be checked carefully as well: A tennis racket that is too heavy or tightly strung can contribute to elbow inflammation (tennis elbow), while shoes that are too stiff can strain the tendons in the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis). Changing techniques with a coach or trainer can also be helpful.

    Improving the strength and mobility of an affected joint, along with related muscles, can also help prevent a recurrence. A physical therapist or other trained professional can work with you to identify your weaknesses, and also teach you exercises that will increase your range of motion.

    Strains and sprains are often used as interchangeable terms, but they are not synonymous. When you strain or "pull" a muscle, you have over-stretched or torn the muscle itself. You've strained yourself when you push yourself harder than usual--for example, you decide to sprint down the street to the mailbox when you are not used to running. A sprain is a torn or over-stretched ligament (the tough, flexible cord that links bone to bone). You can sprain a joint--like your ankle--but you can't sprain a muscle. Two of the most commonly strained muscles, the hamstrings (rear thigh muscles) and inner thigh (groin) muscles, pull because they are stretched when placed under high demand such as sprinting. Strained muscles should be treated with ice for at least 72 hours. Heat can be used to allow stretching, but they should still be treated with ice after exercise. Before working out, you should take 5 minutes to warm up, and loosen these muscles. If you strain yourself, you should stop doing that particular exercise for several days, until the muscle repairs itself. To speed the healing process, you can apply ice to the injured area. The RICE treatment may also be used for sprains, most likely for a sprained ankle.

  • Low Back Strengthening For The Prevention And Treatment Of Chronic Low Back Pain
    Low Back Strengthening For The Prevention And Treatment Of Chronic Low Back Pain
    By I.S.S.A.

    Chronic low back pain (CLBP) remains one of the most difficult and costly medical problems in the industrialized world.

    A review of nineteenth and early twentieth century spine rehabilitation shows that back disorders were commonly treated with aggressive and specific progressive resistance exercise (PRE). Despite a lack of scientific evidence to support their efficacy, therapeutic approaches to back rehabilitation over the past 30 yr have focused primarily upon passive care for symptom relief.

    Recent spine rehabilitation programs have returned to active reconditioning PRE centered around low back strengthening to restore normal musculoskeletal function. Research has shown that lumbar extension exercise using PRE significantly increases strength and decreases pain in CLBP patients. It appears that isolated lumbar extension exercise with the pelvis stabilized using specialized equipment elicits the most favorable improvements in low back strength, muscle cross-sectional area, and vertebral bone mineral density (BMD). These improvements occur with a low training volume of 1 set of 8 to 15 repetitions performed to volitional fatigue one time per week.

    Patients participating in isolated lumbar extension PRE programs demonstrate significant reductions in pain and symptoms associated with improved muscle strength, endurance, and joint mobility. Improvements occur independent of diagnosis, are long-lasting, and appear to result in less re-utilization of the health care system than other more passive treatments. Low back strengthening shows promise for the reduction of industrial back injuries and associated costs.

  • Hormone Induces Weight Loss
    Hormone Induces Weight Loss

    Injections of Leptin Shown to Curb Appetite in Young Girl

    (MSNBC Health, September 15 1999) � For the first time, injections of the hormone leptin have been shown to curb appetite and induce weight loss in a human, a new study says. Scientists caused a stir four years ago when they announced that leptin could evoke weight loss in mice, but until now, a direct role in human obesity had not been confirmed.

    THE FINDINGS by doctors at Addenbrooke�s Hospital in Cambridge, England, provide important clues as researchers try to decipher the genetic and environmental factors in obesity. The work could lead to medical treatments for some forms of the condition. Leptin is a protein produced by fat cells. It is supposed to signal the brain to stop eating, but the signal does not get through properly in some overweight people.

    The study published in Thursday�s edition of The New England Journal of Medicine involved a severely overweight 9-year-old girl who suffered from a rare genetic defect in which her body produced virtually no leptin. While the girl�s condition is uncommon, the researchers, led by Dr. I Sadaf Farooqi, believe the findings have implications for the general population.

    Obesity is a major source of illness and death, and is the most common nutritional ailment in the United States, according to the Minnesota Obesity Center. The new work involved a girl from a Pakistani family who was born with a leptin deficiency. She was so overweight, she got liposuction at age six to remove fat from her legs and allow her to move around. She was constantly hungry and became disruptive when denied food.

    In 1997, when the girl was 9 and weighed 208 pounds, doctors began administering daily injections of leptin. With the shots, her weight gain stopped abruptly. Her mother and doctor found that the girl began eating far less food than before, and stopped craving between-meal snacks. She began losing 2 to 4 pounds per month. After a year of treatment, she had lost 36 pounds, virtually none of it muscle and all of it fat.

    In addition, her level of physical activity increased 19 percent during the first 12 months of therapy. �Treatment of this 9-year-old patient with congenital leptin deficiency with recombinant leptin led to a sustained reduction in weight, predominantly as a result of a loss of fat,� said Farooqi.


    In an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Michael Rosenbaum and Dr. Rudolph Leibel of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons said further research on leptin �may help to move us closer to an effective pharmacologic treatment of obesity.� But many factors besides leptin affect weight, and people should not conclude that leptin injections would make losing weight easy, they added.

    If anything, leptin might help some people stick to a diet by curbing their hunger and aid in keeping the weight off, Rosenbaum said. �The only thing that we know is that it decreases appetite in this child and in a mouse,� Rosenbaum said. �It�s not the be-all and the end-all to promote effortless weight loss.�

    Leptin is being tested in ordinary fat people as an appetite suppressant. Preliminary findings from one study indicate that it isn�t a miracle cure, but shows some promise when combined with diet and exercise. Dr. Richard A. Dickey, President of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, called the study �a great start,� adding that although doctors generally believe many factors are involved in human obesity, leptin is clearly important.

    �It�s very possible that this child is a clue to appetite control and weight gain across a large portion of the population,� he said. �I think that everybody�s excited about the role of leptin.�

    The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

  • Fat Loss in a Bottle
    Fat Loss in a Bottle

    Here are some nutritional supplements on the market that can help your weight-loss process along.

    Originally featured in: Men's Fitness May, 1999

    It may sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, but thermogenesis could be the secret to losing your love handles.

    Literally meaning "the creation of heat," it involves cranking up the calorie- and fat-burning processes in your body. While exercise and diet are the keys, many of us are genetically limited as to how much fat we can burn.

    This is where modern science comes to the rescue: There are nutritional supplements on the market that can help the process along. The products discussed below won't work without a sound weight program and plenty of cardio, but they might be worth a try.

    Citrus aurantium

    This fruit, also called "bitter orange," contains a naturally occurring fat-burner called synephrine. Citrus aurantium can increase your body's ability to burn fat and may exert a mild hunger-suppressant effect. It has only recently been introduced in supplement form and should be widely available toward the end of the year.

    "Citrus aurantium is the ideal fat-loss aid for guys who have plateaued in their workout programs," says Douglas Kalman, RD, director of clinical research at Peak Wellness, a Greenwich, Connecticut�based health-care facility. The latest study performed at Peak Wellness on citrus aurantium showed no signs of potential side effects. Stay tuned.

    7-keto DHEA

    You've probably heard of DHEA, a hormone-replacement therapy that some guys use to gain muscle mass and lose body fat. Unfortunately, DHEA is not very effective in guys under 35, and it's associated with some nasty side effects, including prostate enlargement, acne and premature baldness.

    Earlier this year, an altered version of DHEA was introduced. It's called 7-keto DHEA, and research indicates that it works by preventing your metabolic rate from dropping when you're on a calorie-restrictive diet.

    Kalman believes 7-keto holds great promise. "When individuals diet to lose body fat, their progress stops after a period of a few weeks," he says. "This version of DHEA can prevent this without the hormone-like side effects."

    Caffeine and ephedra

    These two controversial stimulants are thermogenic on their own but have an even greater effect on fat loss when combined. They are added to several ready-made drinks or pills found in health-food stores, sometimes referred to by their respective herbal names, guarana and ma huang.

    The problem, again, is side effects. Overuse of caffeine and ephedra has been associated with increased heart rate, insomnia, nervousness and even death. "Scientific studies have shown that [the combination] works, but I'm not crazy about the potential for side effects," Kalman says. If you're on antidepressant medication, ephedra is not an option.


    A recent study demonstrated that as little as 6 grams of pyruvate per day can enhance fat loss and increase muscle mass in guys who exercise regularly and follow a reasonably low-fat diet.

    "I like this one because it basically has no side effects, it's all natural, and data shows pyruvate can not only effect fat loss, but can make you exercise harder and longer," says Kalman.


    Yohimbine is a natural substance derived from the bark of two African trees. It is a potent vasodilator that first became popular because it increases the blood supply to the penis. In fact, yohimbine was the pre-Viagra impotence treatment for millions of men around the world.

    Yohimbine also increases levels of norepinephrine, which has a marked effect on fat utilization by the body. However, it may cause stimulatory-type reactions such as dizziness, irritability, headaches, anxiety and increased heart rate.

    "The side effects are pretty common," says Kalman. "Also, it can have negative interactions with antidepressant medications." If yohimbine strikes your fancy, stick to the prescription brand Yocon, or make sure over-the-counter varieties declare that they are standardized for yohimbine activity. Ask your doctor before trying it.


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