Good Advice for Healthier Living – Issue 27

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

You’d probably agree that being sick changes your entire life. It makes it difficult to carry out everyday tasks—or even relax without pain and worry.

That’s why it’s important to take preventive measures to help protect your health.

In today’s Monday Edition of Health News Weekly™, you’ll discover ways to help keep your bones strong and healthy… how the amount of food you eat may affect your life span… and how to avoid bone fractures that can wipe out your independence.

Read on to find good advice for healthier living!

Breast Cancer Treatment
May Give You Old Bones!

Layne Lowery

Chemotherapy and aromatase inhibitor therapy for breast cancer patients tends to cause premature bone thinning and aging, according to research reported at a recent meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

Dr. Pauline M. Camacho and colleagues at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois, researched the charts of 238 postmenopausal women. Doctors referred these women to their institution between 2000-2005 for the management of osteoporosis or osteopenia—a bone-thinning condition just short of osteoporosis.

Sixty-four women had a history of breast cancer, while 174 women did not. The women with breast cancer had early-stage disease and were undergoing or considering hormone therapy with aromatase inhibitors.

Researchers found about three-quarters of the women in both groups had at least one secondary cause of osteoporosis.

Vitamin D deficiency was the most common secondary cause of bone thinning for both groups. The investigators found about 37% of the breast cancer group and 51% of the non-breast cancer group were vitamin D-deficient.

Comacho recommends measuring bone mineral content before treatment. She also favors screening patients with breast cancer for secondary causes of bone loss.

In an interview with Reuter’s Health, Comacho said she advises doctors to evaluate these women’s bones as if they were much older. “It may be wise to keep them on tamoxifen, which is bone-sparing and avoid the aromatase inhibitors, which cause bone loss,” Comacho added.

Could Your Aching Legs Signal
A Pending Heart Disaster?

Roz Roscoe, Staff Writer

If you know what peripheral artery disease (PAD) is—congratulations! You may be one of the few Americans who know how protect your heart from the dangers of this disease!

According to a Health Day report, survey results revealed three-quarters of adult Americans said they knew little or nothing about PAD—a very common blockage of blood vessels in the legs that boosts heart risk.

Dr. Timothy Murphy, co-author of the survey report and a professor of diagnostic imaging at Brown University said his team was not surprised that many patients at risk don’t seek medical attention.

But given the 8 million cases of PAD in the United States—Murphy said he was surprised at the general lack of knowledge about the disease.

PAD can occur when fatty deposits in leg arteries cause narrowing or blockages. Leg pains may be the ONLY recognizable symptom of the disease. If the disease progresses without treatment—folks with PAD may face leg amputation.

The disease can also signal a raised risk of heart attacks or strokes caused by a narrowing of other body arteries.

Researchers conducted telephone interviews with 2,051 people aged 50. Participants said they were aware of strokes, and two-thirds knew about risks of coronary artery disease and heart failure.

But just 25% knew about PAD—far less than those who were aware of much rarer conditions, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (36%) and multiple sclerosis (42%). Survey results were published in the September 18 issue of Circulation.

Among the one in four adults who were aware of PAD, only 28% associated it with an increased risk of heart attack. And just 14% linked it with amputation and death.

Relatively few family doctors routinely perform the basic diagnostic test for PAD, called the ankle-brachial index, he said. This test requires blood pressure readings at the arm and at the ankle.

The measurements are repeated at both sites after five minutes of walking on a treadmill. Lower pressure at the ankle indicates PAD. The lower the ankle-brachial index, the greater the danger.

Murphy said primary-care physicians rarely perform the test because it is not reimbursed under Medicare unless there are symptoms. A PAD diagnosis signals a need to give attention to other risk factors for arterial blockage , such as smoking… high blood pressure… cholesterol levels… and lack of exercise, said report co-author Dr. Alan T. Hirsch. Dr. Hirsch is a professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota.

Lack of awareness means that even adults who have leg pains or other symptoms of PAD are not aware the danger, Hirsch said. “At a time when the public is bombarded with health messages, it would seem wise for those with one of the single most common cardiovascular diseases to be aware of the risk,” he said.

Fast Fact

There’s no known cure for the common cold. But you CAN wash your hands often to minimize the chance of contracting cold germs. If you do come down with a bug… take 4,000 mg of vitamin C as soon as you feel cold symptoms. Follow this with 2,000 mg every two hours. If the high doses of boosting vitamin C intake causes diarrhea—cut the dose in half. And drink at least 8 eight-ounce cups of water each day to stay fully hydrated.

Eat Less to Live Longer!

Haley Whiten, Contributing Editor

Harvard researchers say they’ve discovered a clue that seems to explain why cutting calories might lengthen your life.

It turns out the mitochondria in your cells have two specific genes that act as watchdogs to prevent cells from dying.

Mitochondria are responsible for producing energy in your cells. Scientists have long believed that losing mitochondria is a major cause of aging.

Lead researcher David Sinclair, director of the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for Aging Research at Harvard Medical School said their research has identified two cellular proteins that could be used to slow down the aging process.

According to study findings published in the September 21 issue of Cell, Sinclair said for decades people have known calorie restriction made the cells less prone to death…

…but the Harvard research team now believes they know how it works.

Sinclair and his colleagues found when they subjected rat or human cells to a caloric-restricted diet—the overall concentration of a compound called NAD dropped sharply in cells. This was true everywhere except within the mitochondria.

Sinclair’s team found that by cutting calories—the amounts of NAD in the mitochondria actually increased!

The researchers concluded that mitochondria can make their own NAD to withstand stress. This helps the cells stay alive long enough to repair themselves.

Two proteins within the mitochondria—SIRT3 and SIRT4 from the family of sirtuin genes—must be present for the mitochondria to produce NAD.

Sinclair said his team concluded that “if those genes keep mitochondria active, that’s the gatekeeper of cell health,” he added. “The cell can be essentially dead, but if the mitochondria and the sirtuins are active, the cells will live.”

This suggests that if SIRT3 and SIRT4 could be chemically activated, scientists may be able to achieve the benefits of caloric restriction without the diet.

This could slow the progress of diseases such as Alzheimer’s… cancer… and diabetes which are based on cell death, Sinclair said. This could possibly extend the life span!

Sinclair said his company, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, is now looking for compounds that could activate SIRT3.

Health E-Hints

Simple Steps to Prevent Painful Falls!

If you have thin or brittle bones—the LAST thing you want is to have a misstep or fall cause a painful fracture.

Here are 4 hints that may help prevent falls and broken bones from occurring:

  • Exercise to improve strength and balance—physical activity helps keep your reflexes sharp and your muscles strong. It also helps build bone density to help reduce your risk of falls!
  • Walk more carefully—choose low-heeled shoes with good support and rubber soles. When walking outside in wet conditions, walk on grass instead of concrete which may be more slippery.
  • “Lighten up” your home—low light makes it harder to see objects in your path. Try installing overhead lights in rooms, using nightlights or even a flashlight as a guide. And make sure all your stairways are well lit.
  • Understand how medicines affect you—sedatives… blood pressure medications… muscle relaxants and other prescriptions may cause dizziness. If any of the medicines you take increase your risk of falls, see if your doctor can change your dosage—or change medicines altogether.

There’s no guarantee you can completely avoid all bone fractures. But with a little effort to control some risk factors—you can help protect yourself from devastating falls and some painful time in rehab!