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In This Issue

  • The Power of Probiotics
  • How To Lower Health Risks
  • "Good" cholesterol an important marker
  • Did you know?

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The Power of Probiotics

Irene Alleger reviews "The Power of Probiotics" by Gary Elmer, PhD, in December's Townsend Letter News. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea are being studied for treatment with probiotics. The authors - all experts in the field of probiotics - cite exciting new research on the use of probiotics with allergies and with autism.

The microbial flora of infants with allergies has been shown to differ from that of non-allergic infants. Higher numbers of clostridia and staphylococci have been seen in infants with allergic dermatitis, whereas the healthy controls had higher numbers of bifidobacteria in their stools. Scientists theorize that if atopic dermatitis can be prevented in infancy, the risk of allergic rhinitis and asthma may be decreased in adulthood. This is based on the evidence that probiotic administration can favorably influence immune response, which makes probiotics an exciting new tool in non-pharmaceutical medicine. Click to continue...

How To Lower Health Risks

Based on your ancestry, you could be predisposed to certain disease: R.J. Ignelzi, writer for San Diego Union, lists the following tips to help lower your risk for some health problems.

  • Breast cancer: Get a clinical breast exam every 3 years in your 20s and 30s; yearly after 40. Start mammograms at age 40. If a close relative had breast cancer, there may be reason to start screening even earlier. African-American women may want to request ultrasonograms (using sound waves) or an MRI (radio waves) instead of a mammogram, because they're better for looking at dense breast tissue.
  • Cardiovascular disease/stroke: Maintain your optimal weight; exercise at least 30 minutes a day; keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control; don't smoke; eat a healthy low-fat diet.
  • Cervical cancer: Get annual Pap test and gynecological exams. If between ages 9 and 26, consider getting the Gardasil vaccine to protect against genital human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer.
  • Diabetes: Maintain a healthy weight; eat a low-fat, low-sugar diet; exercise at least 30 minutes a day; get a glucose blood test early and frequently if you're at risk.
  • Glaucoma: Get an annual eye exam after age 35. Dilation should be part of every exam, as should opthalmoscopy, a test in which light is projected through the eye to examine the optic nerve.
  • Hypertension: Eat a low-fat, low-sodium diet; lose excess weight; exercise at least 30 minutes a day; quit smoking; reduce stress; eat plenty of potassium.
  • Melanoma: Use sunscreen with at least 15 SPF; wear protective clothing, hats and sunglasses; restrict sun exposure, especially from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; tell doctor about changes in moles or skin.
  • Osteoporosis: Exercise (cardio and strength training) frequently; take calcium and vitamin D supplements; consume foods high in calcium; don't smoke and limit alcohol; if at risk, talk to your doctor about a bone-mineral density test; consider medications that can stop further bone loss.
  • Prostate cancer: African-American men may want to consider prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing every 1 - 2 years starting at age 40.

Based on your ancestry, you could be predisposed to certain diseases.

  • The rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality for Vietnamese-American women exceed those of any other minority or majority population in this country.
  • South Asians (people with origins in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh) have rates of coronary artery disease 4 times higher than the general population. Heart attacks strike South Asian men younger; half are under the age of 50.
  • More than twice as likely as Caucasians to develop stomach or liver cancer.
  • Women have a high incidence of osteoporosis.
  • Up to 90% are lactose-intolerant.
  • Women have more risks of developing breast cancer compared with other populations.
  • Light-skinned Caucasians have a higher incidence of melanoma than other populations.
  • Women, especially those who are thin, have a higher incidence of osteoporosis compared with some other populations.
  • Diabetes occurs twice as often compared with Caucasians.
  • Increased risk of hypertension.
  • Women have a high incidence of cervical cancer.

"Good" cholesterol an important marker

The amount of "good" cholesterol remains an important marker for heart disease regardless of how much "bad" cholesterol is lowered, says researcher Dr. Philip Barter of the Heart Research Institute in Sydney.

Among patients taking statins, the higher the HDL or good cholesterol, the less likely they were to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event.

Barter said the result "shows very, very clearly that the risk is real" when levels of good cholesterol, known as HDL, are too low.

Doctors have known for years that HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, protects against heart attacks and stroke, probably by cleaning up the bad low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, known as LDL.

Did You Know ???

  • Boiling or steaming broccoli can deplete as much as 34% of its vitamin C stores. The Journal of Food Science says, however, that microwaving preserves most nutrients, because it cooks veggies by heating natural water content instead of adding and discarding liquid.

  • Ladybugs, the little insect, could be causing your congestion and sneezing, particularly in the fall and winter when the bugs move indoors to escape the chill. Consumer Reports on Health says a study found that as many as 20% of people tested for ladybug sensitivity were allergic.

In Good Health.
Pamela Nathan

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