February 2004

In This Issue:

More Parents Refusing to Get Kids Vaccinated

The above headline comes from the Feb. 9, 2004 issue of the AMA News. The article came with a sub-title that read, " Physicians are increasingly confronting parents who are concerned about the safety of childhood immunizations." 

According to a recent University of Michigan study that surveyed by mail a random national sample of 750 pediatricians and 750 family physicians, an increasing number of parents express concerns about rumored ill effects like autism, autoimmune diseases, compromised immunity, learning disabilities, diabetes and paralysis. Gary L. Freed, MD, MPH, the study's lead investigator and director of general pediatrics at the university's health system in Ann Arbor, Michigan explained the purpose of the study, "We wanted to quantify the degree to which parents were refusing or expressing concerns."  He continued, "Our findings indicated to me that parental concern and refusal is a relatively common occurrence."

The study, originally published in the January American Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed that 93% of pediatricians and 60% of family physicians reported that at least one parent had refused a vaccination for his or her child in the last year. Additionally, 69% percent of the physicians said that the number of concerns had increased substantially over the past year.

Although there continues to be much debate, the evidence continues to mount as to the dangers of adverse reactions from vaccinations.  One such study was published on the "NewsWise" website from Northeastern University, and started with the headline, "New Research Suggests Link Between Vaccine Ingredients and Autism, ADHD." That article began with a chilling statement, "According to new research from Northeastern University pharmacy professor Richard Deth and colleagues from the University of Nebraska, Tufts, and Johns Hopkins University, there is an apparent link between exposure to certain neurodevelopmental toxins (ingredients found in vaccines) and an increased possibility of developing neurological disorders including autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder".  This research was the first to offer an explanation for possible causes of two increasingly common childhood neurological disorders and is published in the April 2004 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Canadian Chiropractors Warn About Improper Snow Shoveling

tv_top60.jpg (14864 bytes)An article that appeared in the January 28, 2004 issue of the Parry Sound "North Star" started with the headline, "Donít throw your back out while throwing snow".  The article warns readers about the possible spinal problems that can result from Improper Snow Shoveling.

Dr. Dean Wright, president of the Ontario Chiropractic Association stated in the article, "Chiropractors are finding that some patients experience back and muscle pain as a result of improper snow shoveling technique." He continued, "Improper technique can be anything from bending at the waist instead of at the knees to throwing snow instead of pushing it. When you combine improper technique with the average weight of one shovelful of snow, three to five kilograms, the result can be a serious problem for both adults and the children who help them."

Dr. Kristina Peterson, a chiropractor in Thunder Bay added, "Back problems can surface in patients during the winter, especially those who are unaccustomed to participating in challenging physical activity on a regular basis.  Activities requiring exertion, such as winter sports or pushing a stranded car, can lead to back injuries. However, snow shoveling, slips and falls are the top reasons patients present with back and muscle pain in the winter."

To help prevent problems, the Ontario Chiropractic Association offers the following preventive tips:

  • Warm-up. Before beginning any snow removal, warm-up for five to 10 minutes to get the joints moving and increase blood circulation. A good warm-up should include stretches for the back, shoulders, arms and legs. This will ensure that your body is ready for action.

  • Donít let the snow pile up. Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run.

  • Pick the right shovel. Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel.

  • Push, donít throw. Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing. If you must throw, avoid twisting and turning -- position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.

  • Bend your knees. Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.

  • Watch the ice. Coarse sand, ice salt, ice melter, or even kitty litter can help to give your walk and drive ways more traction, reducing the chance of a slip or fall.

  • Wear proper footwear. Shoes and boots with solid treads on the soles can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls.

  • Take a break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.


Health Care Spending Hits $1.7 Trillion in 2003 in US

According to a February 11, 2004 Associated Press story, health care spending in the United States grew to an estimated $1.7 trillion in 2003. This represents more than $5,800 for every American.  The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated that this expenditure represents more than 15% of the gross domestic product of the United States. 

The rate of increase of health care spending was 7.8% over the previous year.  This figure continues to place healthcare spending increases far ahead of the rest of the US economy.  The article continued to note that health care spending, is projected to outpace growth in the rest of the economy for the next 10 years.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also estimated that by 2013, annual spending on health is expected to reach $3.4 trillion and be more than 18 percent of gross domestic product.  These projections did not include the anticipated increases from the new Medicare prescription drug law, which will offer seniors prescription drug coverage beginning in 2006.  However, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials said they expect a shift in who pays prescription drug bills rather than a significant increase in spending on drugs. It was noted that the increase in spending on prescription drugs will continue to outpace the rest of health care for the next 10 years.

The report published in the  January / February 2004 Issue of the Health Affairs, the number one cited health policy journal devoted to publishing original peer-reviewed research and commentary, reported that private health insurance premiums per enrollee grew 10.4 percent in 2003, the third consecutive year of double-digit premium growth.

Modest Activity Fights Obesity

A report in the January 12, 2004 issue of the Archive of Internal Medicine that also was published on January 12, 2004 on the Web MD website, noted that "Walking 30 Minutes a Day Keeps Extra Pounds Away Without Dieting".  The research, conducted at Duke University Medical Center, compared the effects of three different exercise programs vs. no exercise at all on the weight and waist circumference of 120 sedentary overweight adults.

The participants in the study were told not to change their diet and were divided into three groups with differnet levels of exercise.

  1. High amount/vigorous: Equivalent to jogging about 20 miles per week at 60%-80% of maximal heart rate

  2. Low amount/vigorous: Equivalent to jogging 12 miles per week at 60%-80% of maximal heart rate

  3. Low amount/moderate: Equivalent to walking 12 miles per week at 40%-50% of maximal heart rate

What was not surprising about the findings was that researchers found that the more the participants exercised, the more weight they lost. However, what was very interesting was that low-amount / moderate intensity groups also showed significantly greater improvements than the non-exercise group. For example, compared with the non-exercisers, all groups significantly decreased their waist measurements.

Researcher Cris A. Slentz, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center noted, " These findings strongly suggest that, absent other changes in diet, a higher amount of activity is necessary for weight maintenance.  Most individuals can accomplish this by walking 30 minutes a day."

Chiropractic and Migraines, A Case Study

From the February 2004 issue of the Journal of Chiropractic Pediatrics, comes a documented case study of a 28 year old women who suffered with migraine headaches for over a decade before being helped with chiropractic care.  In her case there was no history of previous trauma.  Her migraines would last for several days and would cause nausea and dizziness.

In addition to her headaches, she also revealed a history of an irregular menstrual cycle, she would normally menstruate no more than twice per year.  This problem resulted in infertility.  After years of not becoming pregnant, she sought help from a reproductive endocrinologist. She was placed on medication which created additional side effects but did allow her to become pregnant.  Unfortunately, after 9 weeks she suffered a miscarriage.

After years of these problems the woman started chiropractic care.  She was initially given an examination and it was determined that she did have spinal problems.  A series of specific chiropractic adjustments were then initiated.  A re-examination was performed one month after care began. The patient reported a reduction in her headaches.  After the second month of care another examination was performed and the patient reported that she had no incidence of migraine headache for the entire previous month. Additionally, the patient noticed that she had started a regular menstrual cycle.  Within six months of the initiation of chiropractic care, she became pregnant.

The McDonaldís Diet?

In the January 22, 2004 issue of the New York Post was an interesting story about a man named Morgan Spurlock (right) who decided to become guinea pig for a unique diet.  He decided to eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald's and document the impact on his health.  Prior to this experiment he was a strapping 6-foot-2 New Yorker - who started out at a healthy 185 pounds. 

After the 30 day regime Spurlock had gained 30 pounds and suffered other health consequences.  Within a few days of beginning his drive-through diet, Spurlock, 33, was vomiting out the window of his car.  "It was really crazy - my body basically fell apart over the course of 30 days," Spurlock told The Post.

The doctors who examined him were shocked at how rapidly Spurlock's entire body had deteriorated. Upon testing they noted that his liver became toxic, his cholesterol shot up from a low 165 to 230, his libido flagged and he suffered headaches and depression.

Spurlock recorded his journey from fit to flab in a tongue-in-cheek documentary, called "Super Size Me", which he has taken to the Sundance Film Festival with the hopes of getting a distribution deal. Over the course of the film, Spurlock is regularly examined by a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist and SoHo-based general practitioner, Dr. Daryl Isaacs, who told the Post, "He was an extremely healthy person who got very sick eating this McDonald's diet."  Dr Isaacs continued, "None of us imagined he could deteriorate this badly - he looked terrible. The liver test was the most shocking thing - it became very, very abnormal."

In the article Spurlock further recounted his ordeal, "I got desperately ill," he says. "My face was splotchy and I had this huge gut, which I've never had in my life. My knees started to hurt from the extra weight coming on so quickly. It was amazing - and really frightening. I was feeling like a typical American on Thanksgiving - very bloated and happy on the couch - and at some point on the news they were talking about two women who were suing McDonald's. People from the food industry were saying, 'You can't link kids being fat to our food - our food is nutritious.' I said, 'How nutritious is it really? Let's find out."

Not surprisingly, Spurlock has steered clear of the Golden Arches since the filming of his documentary was completed.