April 2002 Issue
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In this issue:
Chiropractic Joins the Mainstream
From the April 4, 2002 issue of the New York Daily News comes a story with a headline that reads, "The Conventional Alternative Once on the fringe, chiropractic joins the medical mainstream." The story in essence reports that chiropractic care is gaining mainstream acceptance even in the medical community. The story reports on several individuals who tout the benefits they have received from chiropractic care.
One such proponent is New York-based opera singer Frederick Burchinal who can spend entire evenings bent over in the role of a hunchback. He expands upon his problems by saying, "They are aches and problems that, if let alone, could escalate into other kinds of illness, in the sinus! flu! stomach problems!" He continues, "I am much healthier now. Sometimes I go away for two or three months, for work, and I notice I start to feel not at peak performance. Then I have one or two sessions with my chiropractor, and I am right back in form."
The article also hears from Dr. James Dillard, an M.D., acupuncturist, chiropractor and head of Oxford Health Plans' alternative medicine program. He says, "There has been a shift." For a long time, the medical establishment "wanted chiropractic to go away." "Now, the demand is so loud that HMOs and PPOs and other convoluted arrangements under managed care are recognizing that they must provide coverage." In fact, says Dillard, "States with insurance equality [laws] actually require third-party payers not to discriminate against chiropractors."
The article suggests that it is the patient responses that have actually gotten the medical and insurance community to be more responsive to chiropractic. The article also suggests that one of the reasons is, "Chiropractors seem more caring, as a group, than many traditional, time-pressed doctors." Additionally the article reports that among a group of workers with back-related injuries, those who saw chiropractors paid about a tenth as much and lost a tenth of the workdays as those who went to medical doctors. They also reported on other published studies from 1997 to 2001 that showed chiropractic helps tension and migraine headaches and ear infections. In a Minnesota study, children with asthma had fewer severe attacks after regular adjustments. The results are that 30 million people seek some form of chiropractic care each year.
Chiropractic is even finding its way into hospital programs. John Weeks, a complementary medicine expert who works with insurance companies says, "These days, chiropractic is key — the backbone, in fact — to many of the 125 hospital-based integrative medicine programs up and running in 2001. Finding a way to successfully integrate chiropractic" into hospital programs like Beth Israel's is "critical" in making them work financially."
Back Surgery Results Very Disappointing
According to a story from the April, 8, 2002 issue of the New Yorker online magazine "Fact", the results of back surgeries performed over the years have been much less than expected. The article starts by asking the question, "Is surgery the best approach to chronic back pain?" It then goes on to state, "Last year, approximately a hundred and fifty thousand lower-lumbar spinal fusions were performed in the United States."
When asked about the chances for success with spinal surgery, Dr. Eugene Carragee, at Stanford, who says he performs the operation only on a select group of patients who have been carefully screened, estimates that less than a quarter of the operations will be completely successful. For the majority of patients, the surgery does not have a dramatic impact on either their pain or their mobility. He concludes, that the patient's prospects for a future that is free from back pain is fairly poor.
The New Yorker article also states that many patients who have had surgery end up going back to their surgeons. In a study in the state of Washington of workers injured on the job who received fusions for degenerative-disk disease, the results showed that twenty-two per cent had further surgery. The article also reported that Dr. Seth Waldman, at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, claims to regularly see spinal-fusion patients who experience persistent pain after multiple operations. Sadly, few patients facing spinal surgery seem to have any idea that the statistics are so unfavorable.
In the December 2001 issue, the journal "Spine" published the results of an award-winning study from Scandinavia in which patients who underwent fusion surgery for chronic lower-back pain were compared with those who had had no surgery. In this randomized controlled trial, only one out of every six of the patients in the surgical group was rated by an independent observer as having an "excellent" result after two years. Additionally, Dr. Richard Deyo, an internist and an expert on back pain at the University of Washington, recently published a statistical analysis of existing research which suggested that spinal fusion generally lacked scientific rationale, and also that it had a significantly higher rate of complication than did discectomy.
In conclusion, the article quotes Dr. Seth Waldman, who sees the consequences of failed fusions at the Hospital for Special Surgery every week. Dr. Waldman wishes that the medical profession could be persuaded to show a little restraint. He concludes the article by saying. "If you have a screwdriver, everything looks like a screw. There will be a lot of people doing the wrong thing for back pain for a long time, until we finally figure it out. I just hope that we don't hurt too many people in the process."
Chiropractors Give Good-will Adjustments in Panama
A story reported in the April 01, 2002 Northwest Florida Daily News reported on a chiropractic mission to the country of Panama where tens of thousands of Panamanians got chiropractic adjustments. In this mission project 32 chiropractors closed their offices for a week and spent their own money to help people in the Central American country. The chiropractors paid for their airfare, room and board, but the Panamanian government supplied their transportation once they were in the country.
The group, known as Chiropractors Restoring Energy Worldwide (CREW), was in Panama for its seventh humanitarian visit since the program began in 1997. The municipal government of Panama City sponsored the mission. Dr. Michael Dorausch, a CREW member and Los Angeles-based chiropractor, said the group was "received with open arms." Dorausch said, "We provided care in civic gymnasiums, government offices, privately owned factories and bus terminals, retirement centers, orphanages, malnutrition homes and prisons."
Panama City Mayor Juan Carlos Navarro, who is a Dartmouth graduate and recipient of a master's degree from Harvard University, welcomed the chiropractors in order "to offer one a better quality of life." "The people in Panama embrace chiropractic adjusting," said chiropractor Dr. Karen Humbert. "It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck," she said. "When we'd walk into the gymnasium, the Panamanians would applaud. It gave me goose bumps. I felt humbled because what comes so naturally for me is appreciated so much. We had several instances where people got tingles in their legs that had been paralyzed for a while. And I had one case where a patient had chronic problems for years but after being adjusted he could lift his left arm for the first time in a year."
The chiropractors' mission to Panama also cared for the country's top-ranked pro baseball team. Dr. Dorausch recalls, "I received a call for us to come and meet and adjust the team. We did it right on the baseball field."
On March 9, the last day of the CREW mission, Mayor Carlos Navarro showed his country's appreciation by presenting CREW organizers Drs. Luis and Lina Ocon with the key to the city.
Breast-Feeding Is Best For Baby
Two separate stories from the February 27, 2002 and March 27, 2002 issues of Intelihealth both tout the benefits of breastfeeding. One of the articles starts off by explaining the financial benefits of breast feeding, where estimates that mothers who breastfeed can save around $3000.00 per year on formula. Additionally, the article states that breast feeding will help a baby to develop maximum intelligence, eyesight, and protection from disease.
One article written by Stacy Kennedy, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N., C.N.S.D. of Brigham and Women's Hospital, slams the formula companies with the quip, "One of the top manufacturers of infant formula boasts that it has been developing its products for over 70 years. Human milk has been in development for 65 million years, since the Cenozoic Age, which saw the rapid evolution of mammals. So the oldest formula companies have been doing research and development only for .0001 percent of the time our biology has been perfecting a product all females have in their possession." She continued by stating, "We have learned that the longer a child is breast-fed, the better he or she will do in school and the higher the child will score on IQ and other standardized tests compared to children who are formula-fed."
An extensive study on breast feeding recently took place in Norway and Sweden and was conducted by researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The study showed that full-term babies who were small at birth and who were exclusively fed breast milk for the first six months of their lives scored an average of 11 points higher on IQ tests at age 5, compared with similar-sized babies who were fed breast milk and formula, or breast milk and solid food.
The article also notes that breast-feeding can help to ensure that children won’t overeat. Breast fed baby’s immune systems also grow into powerful defense arsenals, equipped to protect him or her from a lifetime of exposure to infections and disease. The first human milk that a woman produces, colostrum, is jam-packed with antibodies and key protective nutrients. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding only human milk to babies for the first six months of life and continuing to breast-feed for the first year.
Olympic Team USA had an Official Chiropractor
Some will probably say that it was just a coincidence, but the USA's best ever showing in a Winter Olympics was the first year that the team officially had a chiropractor as part of their sports medicine team. An Ohio chiropractor, Dr. Robin Hunter was appointed as the official and sole Doctor of Chiropractic on the United States sports medicine team for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. She is the first Chiropractor ever appointed to a U.S. Winter Olympic team. In additon to Dr. Hunter the team consisted of 14 MDs, 12 trainers, and a massage therapist.
Dr. Hunter a practicing chiropractor for 17 years from Columbus, Ohio, said, "We worked elbow-to-elbow in a clinic in the Olympic village, with people in and out all day, and it was fantastic!" She added, "The fundamental principles of our profession apply so well to athletics. Correcting biomechanical faults and misalignments, and treating injuries with hands-on work, so that the athletes can return to play faster and better, is what sports chiropractic care is all about." She concluded by saying, "It's truly overwhelming to represent our country and profession. I have a deep sense of pride when touring Salt Lake City and the Olympic Village with the Team USA uniform on."
Arthritis Drug May Cause Liver Damage
Arava, the popular drug for rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to liver damage and at least 12 deaths. According to a story from the March 29, 2002 Intelihealth, the FDA has received at least 130 reports of severe liver toxicity linked to Arava use. The full toll according to the article was reported as including 56 hospitalizations and 12 deaths, said Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. Two of the deaths were people in their 20s. He also stated that this prescription drug for rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to dozens of serious liver injuries and 12 deaths and should be banned.
To date, the FDA has six times more reports of liver damage among Arava users than users of methotrexate (another popular arthitis drug), even though thousands more people use methotrexate. Last summer the American College of Rheumatology warned doctors to take special care in prescribing Arava, by repeatedly testing patients' livers for signs of harm.
"It is impossible to predict which patients will be at risk", said Dr. David Yocum of Arizona Health Sciences Center. "I do not believe that the general rheumatologist understands or has any knowledge about these serious and potentially life-threatening complications."
Tomatoes and Orange Juice Show Health Benefits
In two separate stories, both tomatoes and orange juice have been shown to have some unexpected health benefits. One story reported in the March 19, 2002 issue of MSNBC Health states that, "Drinking orange juice lowers blood pressure." The other article from the March 5, 2002 issue of MSNBC Health had the headline, "Tomatoes may lower cancer risk."
In one study Dr. Dennis Sprecher of the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center studied two dozen volunteers who drank two glasses of orange juice a day for six weeks. The results were listed as astonishing with a measured 10 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure, and a diastolic blood pressure decrease by 3.5 mm Hg, on average for participants. Dr. Sprecher remarked, “This is an enormous amount for two months. We were astonished.”
The second study performed by Dr. Edward Giovannucci of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that men who ate at least two meals a week containing tomato products lowered their risk of prostate cancer by 24 to 36 percent. “These most recent findings add support to the notion that a diet rich in tomatoes and lycopene-containing foods, as well as other fruits and vegetables, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer,” said Giovannucci.
Tomatoes also faired well in a second study of nearly 1,000 postmenopausal women enrolled in Harvard’s ongoing Women’s Health Study. In this study women with the highest blood levels of lycopene, the compound that gives tomatoes their red color, were about one-third less likely to develop heart disease over the course of seven years than those with those lowest levels.
Over-the-counter Cough Medicines Have "No Evidence of Effectiveness."
The February 9, 2002 issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) carried an article that reports on the relative ineffectiveness of over the counter cough medications and the total lack of evidence that these common remedies work any better that placebos. The research study reported in the BMJ was designed to determine whether over the counter cough medicines are effective for acute cough in adults. This study reviewed 15 clinical trials involving 2166 participants involved in randomized controlled trials.
The results showed that antihistamines seemed to be no better than placebo. There was also conflicting evidence on the effectiveness of antitussives, expectorants, antihistamine-decongestant combinations, and other drug combinations compared with placebo. This total lack of conclusive evidence lead the researchers to conclude, "Over the counter cough medicines for acute cough cannot be recommended because there is no good evidence for their effectiveness. Even when trials had significant results, the effect sizes were small and of doubtful clinical relevance."