Major New Study Conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Health (N.I.H.) Finds that Raising “Good” Cholesterol DOES NOT REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART ATTACK OR STROKE

In fact, it appears to increase the likelihood of stroke…

So, if increasing the amount of “good” cholesterol doesn’t actually make you any less likely to have a stroke or heart attack, then are we still calling it “good”?

Here is the most important line in the article to digest:

“The results are part of a string of studies that suggest that what doctors thought they knew about cholesterol may be wrong.”

It is a peculiar arrogance of man that allows him to believe that he can fully understand and even outsmart the human body. If there are raised levels of cholesterol in the blood, perhaps this is part of a beneficial or benign function the body is performing, a process more commonly occurring in those with poor cardiovascular health? Cause and effect is unknown.

That is merely a very simple thought, but it is a source of reasonable doubt to anyone weighing that thought without prejudice.

Now, there is no standard measure of doubt which may exist in a doctor’s mind before he or she may prescribe medication to treat a condition, but there is a standard I hold myself to when it comes to me putting things into my body.

NIASPAN (niacin) is an unscored, medium-orange, film-coated tablet for oral administration and is available in three tablet strengths containing 500, 750, and 1000 mg niacin. NIASPAN (niacin) tablets also contain the inactive ingredients hypromellose, povidone, stearic acid, and polyethylene glycol, and the following coloring agents: FD&C yellow #6/sunset yellow FCF Aluminum Lake, synthetic red and yellow iron

The above illustration and accompanying description is that of the medication in question.

What is purely factual is that scientists have discovered a link between high levels of so-called “bad cholesterol” and increased risk of heart attack or stroke, but they still have not uncovered the nature of that link. Scientists and drug companies then made the assumption that since lowering levels of “bad” cholesterol decreased the likelihood of a stroke or heart attack, that then increasing the levels of “good” cholesterol would similarly protect cardiovascular health. This assumption was just proven wrong. In fact, increasing levels of “good” cholesterol was found to expose people to an increased risk of stroke.

Despite the multitude of potentially dangerous drugs on the market to solve the cholesterol “problem”, the problem hasn’t truly been unmasked and defined clearly. Rather, there is a relationship involving cholesterol and heart health, but the relationship is currently not well understood. Perhaps it will be fully understood in time, but presently there are only theories which are currently being tested on millions of Americans who use these medications.

In scientific education, one of the earliest and most important concepts any good thinker must embrace fully is the appreciation that correlation does not equal causation. A relationship between “A” and “B” does not mean one causes the other in a strictly linear fashion. They both may be influenced by another, presently unknown, variable…“C”.

Far too often the other, unseen variable is waiting to be recognized, and that discovery unlocks a whole new level of understanding, and everybody is forced to admit that they had no idea how little they understood the topic previously.

“Not surprisingly, doctors thought that if they could raise H.D.L. levels, their patients would benefit. So far, that assumption is not panning out. Nobody knows why.”

So, what does this mean to the millions of Americans currently taking expensive prescription medication that they were told would help keep them safe from heart attack or stroke? It means you may have been taking that medication unnecessarily. Modern medicine’s best effort may have failed you and millions of others and exposed you to side-effects as-of-yet undocumented.

When you watch the commercials for medications like these types, please notice the warnings about how certain medications are not safe for people with liver problems. This is because the liver is the vital organ that filters toxins out of your body. These medications are viewed by your body as toxic foreign substances, and the liver has to put in additional work trying to cleanse your body of the “hypromellose, povidone, stearic acid, and polyethylene glycol, and the following coloring agents: FD&C yellow #6/sunset yellow FCF Aluminum Lake, synthetic red and yellow iron oxides, and titanium dioxide” inside the pill.

The effectiveness of a medication has to be weighed against any possible toxic effects on the body. If a medication truly does prevent stroke or heart attack, then this certainly can be an important benefit, and is likely a medicine worth taking no matter the extra work your liver has to do to break it down and send it on a one-way trip into your toilet.

In closing, I would like to mention that the drug in question is called Niaspan. It is a slow-release form of Niacin. Niacin is commonly known as Vitamin B3. Yes, you read that right…vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 can be found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats. In order to get Vitamin B3 into a slow-release capsule the ingredients and additives listed above in italics were added to a vitamin.

Abbot Laboratories sold just under $1 billion worth of Niaspan in 2010.

The original NY Times article is here.

Beating Chronic Pain with Natural Anti-Inflammatory Remedies

Omega-3 Fatty Acidstalked about them already.

White Willow Bark – The use of white willow bark medicinally goes back far. Ancient Egyptians used white willow for inflammation. The Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about white willow’s medicinal uses in 5th century B.C. White Willow Bark’s active ingredient, salicin, is the same active ingredient as in Aspirin. People take white willow bark instead of aspirin because it does not appear to be as irritating to the stomach lining. It may be because the salicin found naturally in white willow bark is only converted to the acid form after it is absorbed by the stomach. Aspirin is absorbed by the stomach lining.

Turmeric – lots of research has come out recently showing turmeric can reduce inflammation and has some properties which make it a drug that can possibly help to prevent certain types of cancers. It can be found in Indian and Pakistani foods, foods with curry. It’s a spice.

Green Tea – anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory.

Kava Root Drink – Calming, muscle relaxant, and sleep aid.

Valerian Root – anti-anxiety, sedative effects. This can be a natural alternative to prescription sleeping pills.

As with all things, take caution if more than one herb or supplement, or other medications, are being used at once. All treatments have side-effects, including natural alternatives. Of course, you should make sure you are using the recommended amount and for the right reasons.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has an interest in the science of pain and it’s relationship to chiropractic. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are available to speak to groups about pain, the importance of a healthy nervous system, and other health topics.

Beating Chronic Pain with Proper Nutrition

Q. How Can the Foods We Eat Cause Pain?

A. In three ways:

Physical – Heartburn, Disability due to Obesity, Feeling So “Full” You Can’t Move

Chemical – Inflammation (Omega-3’s), Ulcers

Emotional – Pain leads to Overeating leads to Fatigue & Inactivity leads to Depression leads to Overeating

The foods you eat can actually cause pain. Typically, the kind of pain food is known to cause is pain from maybe having gas, or from eating really spicy food. Other ways food can physically cause you pain include from heartburn, getting acid coming out of your stomach into your esophagus. If you are overweight so that you can’t exercise or get adequate activity, then a sedentary lifestyle will lead to many health problems, all of which can lead to painful conditions [ex. osteoporosis can lead to a compression fracture or a hip fracture].

Pain can also be caused chemically, and by this I am talking about inflammation, which is a biochemical process in the body that is characterized by pain. You can have an ulcer, where a physical problem is caused by overly acidic stomach juices, or by chemical things like NSAID’s and aspirin use. You can have generally high inflammation levels in the entire body, as well, if you have an unhealthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 Fatty Acids.

So, just like the wrong type of diet can CAUSE pain, the right kind of diet can DECREASE pain. One of the main ways pain is caused is by inflammation, which is a natural process in the body that occurs whenever something happens that the body senses as some sort of insult – like bumping into something, an allergic reaction, a germ getting into the body, or a paper cut. Blood flow increases to bring repairative substances to the injured area, and the swelling and even some of those repairative substances actually stimulate the nerve endings that cause pain.  In many cases, if not most of them, inflammation is a good thing and the proper reaction to whatever the body is responding to. But, when inflammation is not the being triggered by a less-than-adequate diet this is not a good thing.

Well, that same inflammatory process that happens in specific injured areas of the body, and that lead to a whole body rash when you eat something you are allergic to, will cause low-level chronic inflammation throughout the entire body when the things you eat throw you out of balance and feed into this inflammatory process.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids, when part of your healthy diet, can change the inflammatory balance in your body and therefore decrease pain. In fact, Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been shown to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis, to help combat depression.

Inflammation causes pain

Omega-3 Fatty Acids vs. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Both are essential to health, neither are made by the body naturally – they must come from your diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are natural anti-inflammatory agents, while Omega-6 FA’s are pro-inflammatory agents.

The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that the current ratio of Omega-6 Fatty Acids to Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the average American diet is about 15-to-1.

An ideal ratio would be 4-to-1.

Omega-3’s are found in:

  • Flaxseed or flaxseed oil
  • Cold water fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and trout
  • Fish oil
  • Other seeds and oils.

OMEGA-6’s are found in:

  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • Dairy products
  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids such as soybean oil, canola oil and corn oil (often found in processed snacks, baked products and commercial salad dressings).

Pain can even be caused by emotional factors. We’ve likely all seen the anti-depressant commercial that says “depression hurts”.

Well, then. What is a good diet that will promote a pain-free lifestyle?

  • Fruits – fruits are tasty and healthy. Don’t eat too many, though, because they are very high in sugar
  • Vegetables – you should have plenty of vegetables, including leafy greens.
  • Fish & Poultry – these are healthy protein sources and are low in fat.
  • 5+ Small Meals – eating numerous small meals help your body smooth out blood sugar levels and prevents overeating.
  • Eat Slowly – if you eat too fast you can miss the body’s signals that you have eaten enough.
  • Not Too Strict – strict diets are hard to follow and are more punishment than strategy.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has an interest in the science of pain and it’s relationship to chiropractic. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are available to speak to groups about pain, nutrition, the importance of a healthy nervous system, and other health topics.

Preventing Falls with a Healthy Nervous System

We are going to discuss your nervous system. Your central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal cord and all your nerves. Most of what the nervous system involves itself with is below the level of consciousness, and while we all might do a lot of thinking every day that is still a very tiny percentage of what the nervous system is busy doing. Your nervous system directs the digestion of your food, the sweat glands in your feet and everywhere else, the activity of your thyroid, and the tone of your muscles – and almost everything else. The list of things your nervous system controls and coordinates can go on and on.

Reflexes do not require your brain, only your spinal cord. They happen outside of conscious control and awareness. When a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer, you don’t need to tell your leg to kick. When you throw a cat in the air (not recommended) it will land on its feet because of reflexes that allow the cat to right itself.

Your posture, the way you sit and stand, is a result of a combination of postural reflexes which your brain uses to keep your eyes level with the horizon and your body from falling over. All this is also occurring outside of your conscious mind and is only under your control when you focus on it. Sometimes when your body develops weakness in one area, your postural reflexes will alter your posture to keep you more-or-less upright, although your compensated posture will be less healthy and will probably cause your body to develop other weaknesses down the road, making you more prone to falling down and getting arthritis.

Balance

Balance is an Interaction Between Three Senses

* Eyes – maintaining a steady gaze on the important stuff

* Inner ears – senses when the body isn’t level

* Sense of body position – via sensors in joints and muscles

* A healthy nervous system puts all that information together instantaneously to maintain balance, proper posture, and to prevent falls. When you have a less-than-healthy nervous system the 3 key components of balance do not function correctly, and dizziness and a lack of sure footing is the result.

The Nervous System Controls Body Movement

* The brain controls the movement of your arms, legs, and trunk (and your entire body) so that you can move smoothly  and with precision.

* Being able to put your foot where you want it to go while walking, climbing stairs, or getting out of the tub is all a result of a healthy brain.

* Dizziness, vision problems, and an out-of-balance brain can all lead to falls, injuries, activity avoidance, and even depression.

* Being able to have improved control over your balance and your body will help you avoid falls in the first place.

In order to avoid a fall you need to focus on maintaining a healthy nervous system and maintaining an active lifestyle as much as you safely can.  At Park Bench Chiropractic we focus on helping our patients maintain healthy nervous systems. Call us at (301) 378-0334 or stop by today.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has worked with the older population in practice as a chiropractor as well as at numerous nursing homes and facilities. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are also available to speak to groups, including seniors, about fall prevention and recovery and the importance of a healthy nervous system.

See Also: The Hidden Injury After a Fall: Fear, When Seniors Fall: The Science, and Falls and the Elderly: Some Facts.

When Seniors Fall: The Science

We are going to go over some science (don’t worry, it won’t get too complicated). Specifically, we are going to talk about bones getting stronger and weaker, and why that happens.

* Wolff’s Law states that bone in a healthy person will adapt to the loads it is placed under. If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel and add minerals to itself over time to become stronger to resist that same sort of loading in the future. The opposite is true as well: decreased load on that bone will cause a bone to weaken and shed mineral over time. The body takes back the minerals in those bones that aren’t needed and uses them elsewhere – or gets rid of them by excreting the minerals.

Here are some real-world examples of how this plays out:

* Tennis Players – In avid tennis players the racquet-holding arm bones become stronger. The tennis player will have more calcium and stronger bones in their dominant playing hand. This is the body’s natural response to increased demand being placed on that limb. Calcium from the diet is put into the bones to reinforce the arm and shoulder bones.

* Astronauts – After returning from space astronauts will have weaker bones because there has been no gravity weighing on the person’s frame. When they get back to Earth they will need to exercise in order to re-strengthen the bones to avoid fractures.

This means, simply put, that it is important to remain active. The body literally thrives on movement – fluids move, the brain is stimulated, bones are strengthened, and the muscles are exercised. In the simplest terms, the more you place burdens on your body, the more your body will work to adapt to that by strengthening itself where strength is needed.

That old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, is very true.

Now, as any senior knows, as you get older there is a process in the body in which many men and especially women lose bone mineral density and develop something called osteopenia and then osteoporosis. Doctors will recommend supplementing your diet with additional calcium and Vitamin D, and that is a good start.

Diet: Calcium & Vitamin D

If you are going to fall, of course you want to make sure your bones don’t break. A proper diet can help you have strong bones. Be aware that some medical conditions or medications can interfere with your body’s ability to take in calcium and other vitamins and minerals.

A combination of calcium and Vitamin D can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends:

“Adults under age 50 should have 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 – 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Adults age 50 and older should have 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 – 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.”

-National Osteoporosis Foundation

That is a 20% increase in calcium and a 25-100% increase in Vitamin D in your diet compared to the recommendations for younger people!

Some dietary sources of calcium:

* Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products

* Dark green vegetables such as collard greens, kale, and broccoli

* Sardines and salmon with bones

* Calcium-fortified foods and beverages such as cereals, orange juice, or soymilk

Certain types of foods can interfere with calcium absorption. These include foods high in oxalate (such as spinach and beet greens) or phytate (peas, pinto beans, navy beans, wheat bran). Diets high in animal protein, sodium, or caffeine may also interfere with calcium absorption.

Some dietary sources of Vitamin D:

* Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna

* Egg yolks

* Liver

* Vitamin D-fortified milk, orange juice, soymilk, or cereals

Exposure to sunlight stimulates the skin to produce Vitamin D, meaning that many people can get a fair amount of Vitamin D just from spending ½ hour outside in the sun.

In order to avoid a fall you need to focus on maintaining a healthy nervous system, getting the proper nutrients in your diet, and maintaining an active lifestyle as much as you can.  At Park Bench Chiropractic we focus on helping our patients maintain healthy nervous systems. Call us at (301) 378-0334 or stop by today.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has worked with the older population in practice as a chiropractor as well as at numerous nursing homes and facilities. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are also available to speak to groups, including seniors, about fall prevention and recovery and the importance of a healthy nervous system.

See Also: Preventing Falls with a Healthy Nervous System, The Hidden Injury After a Fall: Fear, and Falls and the Elderly: Some Facts.