Dr. Walt’s Take on the Health Headlines – May 28, 2008

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Best Treatment for Vertigo Is Easiest One

For years I’ve been using this maneuver, called the Epley Maneuver (or Cannalith Repositioning Procedure) to treat my patients with Benign Positional Vertigo. It’s highly effective, easy to do, inexpensive, and now is being announced as “the best treatment for vertigo” by the American Academy of Neurology.

Also called BPPV (or, Benign Paroxysmal [meaning sudden] Positional Vertigo), this inner ear disorder is a common cause of sudden bouts of nausea and dizziness related to head movement.

The maneuver is a simple series of head and body movements performed by a doctor or therapist while the patient is seated on a bed or table.

According to the AAN, “It’s believed that benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is caused by loose calcium carbonate crystals that move in the sensing tubes of the inner ear. The maneuvers recommended in the guideline move the crystals out of the sensing tube and into another part of the ear, where they can be absorbed.”

What’s best of all is that patients can try these maneuvers at home without the assistance of a healthcare professional. To learn more about this, click here.

Gum disease may raise cancer risk, study finds

In my book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Person, I discuss the surprising fact that gum disease is associated with cardiovascular disease and even some problems with pregnancy. Now comes this report saying gum disease may increase the risk of developing cancer.

In this long-running study, male health professionals with a history of gum disease had a 14 percent higher overall risk of developing cancer – even after controlling for smoking and other risk factors.

The bottom line – it’s a highly healthy habit to have a dental cleaning and exam every six months.

Teens OK with community-based weight loss program

This is more good news in the battle against the epidemic of childhood obesity. If you’re looking for a good resource to help either prevent obesity in your family, or help anyone in your family wrestling with overweight or obesity, order a copy of my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat.

Also, my clinically proven 8-Week Family Fitness Plan (developed with the experts at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida) can be found in the “Tools” section of the homepage at www.DrWalt.com.

Stroke patients may take antidepressants preemptively

Depression is common among stroke survivors, but this new study finds treatment with an antidepressant or problem-solving therapy can reduce the odds of depression in these patients.

Doctors randomly assigned 176 stroke patients to either problem-solving therapy, in which they identified problems in their lives and developed a course of action to resolve it, the antidepressant Lexapro, or a placebo.

Twenty-two percent of placebo patients developed depression, compared to 8.5% of patients taking Lexapro and 12% of those in problem-solving therapy.

Furthermore, antidepressants like Lexapro may work not only by making the chemical serotonin more available in the brain, thus preventing depression, but also by promoting brain repair.

Omega-3 may ease depression during pregnancy

According to this small clinical trial, pregnant women diagnosed with depression may be able to significantly reduce their symptoms by taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Why? Depression in pregnancy has been reported to be associated with an abnormality of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) due to the requirements of the growing baby.

In some women, this can lead to a decrease in omega-3 PUFAs in the mother during pregnancy and lead to depression.

The researchers caution that before omega-3 fatty acids can be considered as a primary treatment for depression in pregnant women, the results need to be replicated in larger studies.

You can learn more about omega-3’s and fish oil in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook.

Prenatal fish intake benefits kids’ brains

In a related study, it was found that three-year-olds whose mothers ate more fish while pregnant with them scored better on several tests of cognitive function than their peers whose mothers avoided seafood.

However, since some seafood can contain mercury, and since children exposed to more mercury perform worse on these same tests, moms should consume seafood with lower mercury levels.

Pregnant woman should not eat certain types of large, long-lived fish — including tuna, tile fish, and swordfish – during pregnancy.

Cancer Patients Should Steer Clear of Antioxidants

This story will, I suspect, surprise many DrWalt.com readers.

A new review of existing research suggests that cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy avoid supplements with high levels of antioxidants – even green tea and vitamin A or E supplements.

Antioxidants may decrease the effectiveness of radiation or chemotherapy or even make the toxicities of these treatments worse. The researchers “would recommend that you do not take these agents during chemo or radiation.”

However, I find many of my cancer patients take supplements, antioxidants, and green tea specifically because they think antioxidants will help their treatment.

In this Journal of the National Cancer Institute review, the researchers reviewed all studies that looked at antioxidants and chemotherapy. Overall, the effect on life spans of taking antioxidants appeared to be small.

And, one of the studies found that antioxidant treatment appeared to raise the likelihood of death.

The researchers say, “We don’t know whether even a multivitamin is OK to take.”

You can learn more about antioxidants in my book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook.

Low vitamin D tied to back pain in older women

New research shows that older women who aren’t getting enough vitamin D appear to be at risk for suffering from back pain.

Add to this fact that vitamin D deficient adults are more likely to have several varieties of cancer, more likely to have weaker bones, more likely to fall, and more likely to have fall-related fractures, you can see why many experts, including me, recommend adults take a calcium and vitamin D supplement.

Remember, calcium is best absorbed after a meal. And, most folks cannot absorb more than 500 – 600 mg of calcium at one time.

Also, many experts are now recommending adults take supplements with 1000-1200 mg of calcium and 400-800 mg of Vitamin D.

Therefore, the best way to do this if find a supplement with 500-600 mg of calcium and 200-400 mg of vitamin D and take one of the tablets twice a day with food.

You can learn more about calcium and vitamin D in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook.

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