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October 30, 2010

Rickrolling another generation.

Chaperoned a party at my son's school tonight.  As the next to last tune the DJ played "Never Let You Down" by Rick Astley. The kids were dancing and having a great time. I don't consider myself a part of the cultural or intellectual "lete", but a couple of us parents had a tough time keeping our smug grins under control - yet another generation was innocently being Rickrolled - made my evening! Give it another 20 years and this song might actually be "in" again!

October 25, 2010

Low vitamin D may raise cancer risk


U. ROCHESTER (US) — Two new vitamin D studies suggest intriguing ties between a deficiency of D and breast and colon cancer, particularly among African Americans.

The research adds to mounting evidence that some connection exists between vitamin D and cancer, although it is not yet known how vitamin D modifies or contributes to cancer risk. Evidence is also inconsistent as to whether vitamin D might be used for cancer prevention.

Many of the body's tissues and cells have vitamin D receptors, making it a potent regulator of cell activity and growth. Researchers report vitamin D might generally improve DNA repair, reduce inflammation, and promote the death of potentially malignant cells.

October 23, 2010

Sorry honey, no more pole dancing!

Today, I had the curious experience of being asked for an "intyg" (doctor's note) for a patient that needed to take a break from pole dancing class due to recurring low back pain.  A first for me!!
Thankfully, it was "recreational pole dancing" not for "professional purposes" - or so I was told. What has the world come to??!!

October 17, 2010

Study Suggests Yoga Can Help Counteract Symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

James W. Carson, et al. A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Yoga of Awareness program in the management of fibromyalgia. Pain, 2010; 151 (2): 530  Cited from Sciencedaily.com (Oct. 14, 2010).

According to new research conducted at Oregon Health & Science University, yoga exercises may have the power to combat fibromyalgia -- a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain.

"Previous research suggests that the most successful treatment for fibromyalgia involves a combination of medications, physical exercise and development of coping skills," said James Carson, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist and an assistant professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine. "Here, we specifically focused on yoga to determine whether it should be considered as a prescribed treatment and the extent to which it can be successful."

The researchers divided a total of 53 participants in two groups: one test and one control group. After eight weeks both groups were reasessed both with questionnaries and physical exams with regard to pain, fatigue, stiffness, poor sleep, depression, poor memory, anxiety and poor balance.  The yoga group did better not only statistically but also to the extent that improvemnts were clinically visible.



October 08, 2010

Seven Steps to Avoid Burnout.


The author outlines real world steps to avoid burnout:
1. Plan ahead, avoid overcommitting
2. Separate work and leisure time
3. Set boundaries for expectations from others
4. Keep sharp boundaries between work and play
5. Eliminate "busy work"
6. Create connections to "other realities"
7. Maintain a healthy lifestyle - including exercise.

Comments: The timestamp on this one is going to reveal that I am in gross violation of at least two of these recommendations - but this how I relax and have fun.
Personally, I would probably add a few points:
8. Keep the faith (if you have one). If you believe in God: Know that there are no accidents, no random events and that most events in your life have a purpose - even if you may not be able to realize it for one or five or ten years later (been there!!).
9. In reference to #8: Keep a positive perspective and avoid the trap of continuing to feel like a victim.  Take control of your emotions and reclaim the mastery of your life: Do what you have to do; find Faith, find your source of passion, reinvent yourself in charity, find your destiny - but find something - most importantly something more important than yourself and your current circumstances! 

October 04, 2010

Benefits of Taking Naps At Work

Harvard Business Review, Blog.  Tony Schwartz.

The author reviews a series of physical and mental advantages to short duration naps.  This includes increased energy level, faster reaction times, vastly improved productivity and improved learning ability.
The internet search firm Google, recognizes the importance of having a rested and energetic crew and actually provides napping pods for its employees.

My comments: Alternatives to naps include certain kinds of meditation ("providing a serious "power nap" effect), and music with frequencies scientifically proven to be able to drive the brain into deep restful states, such as products from www.pzizz.com.

October 01, 2010

Side effects of QTF

In 1995, Canadian insurers sponsored a study to assess the effects and severity of whiplash injuries in Canada.  The effort was called Quebec Taskforce on Whiplash Related Disorders (QTF), and was produced by a number of prominent researchers and authorities.  The study was later published by the prestigious journal, Spine.  These researchers were challenged to evaluate the relevant literature produced to date and produce a general assessment of the status and effects of whiplash.  The study, while initially generating a lot of buzz, has since been thoroughly discredited and is now regarded as deeply flawed and biased by many.  The reasons for this are many: When a study is sponsored by an insurer (an interested party= bias) the outcome is immediately suspect.  It was claimed that a large part of this bias manifested in the phase of the study where they excluded various studies, that in retrospect was counter the eventual final conclusions of QTF.  One of the conclusions was that most whiplash injuries heal within 6-12 weeks.  While that may be true for some, but certainly not all, it is also a handy argument ("I'm sorry Ma'am, research has proven that injuries such as yours heal within......, so we do not believe that you are actually hurt") for insurance companies both in court and when talking to injured insured parties, it is not true for a staggering number of real life whiplash victim. What's worse: For some people (and we seem them regularly in our offices, in Scandinavia I believe) are people who did not feel the effects of the injury immediately after, received no treatment and end up with headaches, numbness in the arms, memory and fatigue problems and dizziness years after.  X-rays may reveal loss of lordsis (normal neck curve) and extensive degenerative changes in the mid and/or lower neck, dating the injury back 5-15 years - right around the time of that accident where "nothing happened".
Thanks to extensive and relevant critique, QTF is no longer taken seriously by informed professionals, but could still be abused by unscrupulous parties elsewhere, say in Scandinavia, where the knowledge and experience about whiplash injuries is still in its infancy.

Effect of dark chocolate on blood pressure.

Authors: Karin Ried et al.  BMC Medicine 2010, 8:39 

In this meta-analysis, the authors looked at studies that investigated the possible effects of dark chocolate and other other flavanol-rich rich cocoa compunds on a couple of types of high blood pressure. Thirteen studies performed between1955 and 2009 met the inclusion criteria.

Meta analysis looked at the association between type of treatment, dosage, baseline bloodpressure.

It appears that dark chocolate indeed has a positive effect on blood pressure, or in scientific speak:"Our meta analysis suggests that dark chocolate is superior to placebo in reducing systolic hypertension or pre-diastolic prehypertension".  They were very excieted about their results, indeed. 

Just to be clear, this study did not include milk chocolate or white choclolate.