Monthly Archives: March, 2014

A curriculum including complementary alternative medicine for medical students



Surgeon YogaWith the rising trend towards a greener and more natural lifestyle, the latest issue of the British Medical Journal is making its reader aware of the continuing debate related to alternative approaches to health and well-being. Some say that including complementary alternative medicine (CAM) in the medical school curriculum is necessary in order for a medical professional to provide a wide range of options for patients while others caution the idea of teaching students to recommend treatments without evidence of efficacy or safety. Those in favor argue that lifestyle choices such as performing yoga and meditation has been shown to improve overall health while those against it portray CAM as “seductive yet utterly devoid of scientific merit”. Based on your personal knowledge and experience, should medical students be taught complementary alternative medicine? Why or why not?


For the article, visit BMJ

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Pheromones: a whole new meaning to ‘chemistry’



Blog 3-28 Was your first impression of someone ever influenced by their odor? Pheromones, a biological factor, play an important role in our sense of attraction. With that in mind, a bar in east London has brought a new scent to the growing dating market where people sniff t-shirts of others in order to determine if they are date-worthy. How do you feel about using science when it comes to the dating world?

For the article visit BBC

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici]

Overweight seen as the norm, says UK chief medical officer 3027

BBC summarized the annual report of health in UK suggesting an overwhelming shift of social stigma on weight with overweight becoming the norm. According to chief medical officer, Dame Sally, parents as well as the general populace are failing to identify obesity due to recent changes in media portrayal. Dame Sally recommended a sugar tax in hopes of preventing poor diet trends and increasing levels of obesity from continuing. What are your thoughts? Would similar taxation improve US issues with weight or cause more controversy?

For additional information please see BBC
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Aloe plant gives hope to breast cancer treatment

Sliced Aloe Vera Stock PhotoKenyan researchers recently published a manuscript in the journal Molecules analyzing multiple chemical constituents from the roots of Aloe for their activity against breast cancer cells. Of those chemical constituents, two resulted in strong activity against specific breast cancer cells. This study may confirm Aloe’s traditional medicinal use of cytotoxicity and serve as a foundation for future medical innovations and research in breast cancer treatment. How do you think these findings will influence the oncology industry and future innovations for the treatment of breast cancer? What do you typically use Aloe roots and leaves for in your patients?
For additional information please see Molecules. — please use this link.

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A Longitudinal Analysis of Electronic Cigarette Use and Smoking Cessation

dstockzlaja-i-pedjaset2pedja-no-2stock-4-100229272The latest Journal of American Medical Association published a longitudinal analysis evaluating the smoking cessation rates in close to 1600 current smokers using electronic cigarettes. The authors stated that the study did not achieve statistical power, but contributed to the building evidence that e-cigarettes do not increase smoking cessation rates, as often suggested by manufacturers. What is your experience with e-cigarettes – personally or with your patients? Would your current recommendations change after reading this survey?

For additional information, please see JAMA.

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Keep low-calorie foods close to choose them more often

zirconicussoLaziness can be a factor for bad food choices.  By putting healthy foods closer to you within reach, laziness can be used as an advantage for healthier eating. Privitera, a psychology researcher at Saint Bonaventure University, conducted a study with 56 men and women with an average age of 19 years old and in good health (20 healthy weight, 21 overweight, 15 obese). Participants were seated at a kitchen table with a bowl of apple slices and a bowl of popcorn, one within arms’ reach and the other twice as far away. The control group sat where the apples and popcorn were placed at the same distance away. Those who sat closer to the apples ate about 1.5 ounces of apple slices, those who sat closer to the popcorn ate 0.2 ounces of apple, and the control group ate 1 ounce of apple. People tend to grab what is most convenient even though it may not be a healthy option. Setting up a food environment with healthy food choices, such as fresh fruits on the counter in close reach, can reduce the amount of unhealthy foods we eat. What foods do you recommend your patients as a healthy snack?

For additional information, please see Reuters.

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Protein May Hold the Key to Who Gets Alzheimer’s

dream designsCognitive decline and memory problems of Alzheimer’s disease may be related to a failure in the brain’s stress response system. The protein (REST) is found in the brains of developing fetuses and regulates by switching off genes to keep fetal neurons in an immature state until enough development is needed for proper brain function. REST is the most active gene regulator in elderly brains and appears to protect neurons in healthy older people from age-related stresses. People with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, and other types of dementia have a depletion of REST in the key brain regions associated with memory. Dr. Yankner, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and lead author, and his team discovered REST switches off genes that promote cell death, protects neurons from normal aging, inflammation and oxidative stress. The researchers analyzed the brains of young adults ages 20 to 35 and found they contained little REST, while healthy adults between ages 73 to 106 had plenty. Possible development of new drugs for dementia may be seen in the future once more research and findings are established for REST protein. What are your thoughts about this research?

For additional information, please see The New York Times.

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Probiotic Eases Ills in Children

arztsamuiTaking daily doses of probiotics can help reduce episodes of diarrhea and respiratory tract infections in children at day care centers. This randomized, double-blinded trial published in Pediatrics evaluated 336 healthy children, aged 6 months to 3 years old, whom half received Lactobacillus reuteri (probiotic) and half received an identical placebo. During the 3 month study, there were 69 cases of diarrhea in the placebo group versus 42 cases in the supplement group. The placebo group also had 204 cases of respiratory tract infections with subjects spending an average of 4.1 days on antibiotics, while the L. reuteri group had 93 cases of respiratory tract infections and subjects spent an average of 2.7 days on antibiotics. Follow-up continued for 3 months after the trial without any supplements of probiotics. There seems to be a beneficial effect for children taking daily doses of L. reuteri to have a significant reduction in episodes of diarrhea as well as respiratory tract infections. What are your thoughts on giving infants and children probiotics to prevent possible illnesses?

For additional information, please see The New York Times.

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States Urge Retail Giants With Pharmacies to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Grant CochraneLetters were sent from more than twenty attorneys general representing 28 states and territories to five of the country’s largest retailers: Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, Safeway, and Walmart, encouraging retailers to discontinue selling tobacco products in stores that contain pharmacies. The leaders of the group of attorneys general, Eric T. Schneiderman and Mike DeWine, are urging the other retailers to follow the example CVS Caremark set forth in February to stop selling tobacco products. Drugstores and pharmacies are marketing themselves as a place for providing community health care and services, by selling tobacco products retailers are contradicting their own message. What are your thoughts about retailers discontinuing the sale of tobacco products to promote better health?

For additional information, please see The New York Times.

Image Courtesy of [Grant Cochrane]/

Seven tips for a stress-free vacation – Have a great Spring Break!

winnondVacation may become another source of stress for some people. Here are seven tips to keep in mind if you are traveling or vacationing for spring break.

1. Plan ahead. Plan excursions, travel and accommodations ahead of time.

2. Craft a budget. Figure out how much you want to spend prior to leaving therefore you can enjoy the vacation and not think about budget.

3. Choose your companions wisely. Vacation with family and close friends to minimize frustration.

4. Allow time to unwind. Be able to incorporate room for some down time between activities.

5. Try new things. Experiment with something new mentally and physically, like taking a walk down the beach.

6. Remember to refuel and stay hydrated.

7. Take a deep breath. Unexpected delays or miscommunication may arise, instead of feeling miserable, relax and enjoy your time away.

What strategies do you typically recommend your patients to unwind stress-free?

For additional information, please see Fox News.

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