Monthly Archives: April 2010

Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to remind your children and teens about the importance of sun protection. “Even one blistering sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer. As few as five sunburns can double your risk of skin cancer,” Dr. Anjali Dahiya, a dermatologist at the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said in a news release.

Teenage girls need to be especially vigilant about sun protection. The potentially fatal skin cancer melanoma is the most common cancer in young women aged 25 to 29.

Much of the sun-related skin damage in these young women occurred in their teens.

“Sun exposure plays a significant role in the development of melanoma. Although more adults are using sunscreens during outdoor activities, many are unaware of how important it is to make sure that their children are getting the necessary skin protection,” Dr. Desiree Ratner, director of dermatologic surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, said in the news release.

The doctors offered the following skin protection tips for teens and “tweens”:

  • Apply sunscreen to the entire surface of your body about 30 minutes before going outside.
  • If you’re swimming, reapply sunscreen once you’re out of the water.
  • Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and be sure it has both UVA and UVB blocking ingredients.
  • Limit your sun exposure.
  • In addition to using sunscreen, use hats, sunglasses and umbrellas.
  • Never use tanning beds — try self-tanning creams for a safer summer glow.
  • Watch for freckles, which may be a sign of sustained sun damage.

Spanking your kid could hatch a bully? Don’t bet on it!

Well, here we go again. The news media and liberal pundits are lauding a new study that claims “… even minor forms of corporal punishment, such as spanking, increase risk for increased child aggressive behavior.” Could this be true?

As Time Magazine reports, “Disciplining young children is what parents are supposed to do — most moms and dads have no trouble agreeing with that. But should the punishment include spanking? As many parents can attest, few disciplinary measures stop a child from misbehaving as quickly as a swift smack or two on the bottom.”

But, most of the news media ran a different direction:

Disciplining young children is what parents are supposed to do — most moms and dads have no trouble agreeing with that. But should the punishment include spanking?
As many parents can attest, few disciplinary measures stop a child from misbehaving as quickly as a swift smack or two on the bottom.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1983895,00.html#ixzz0mbrf7deB
  • Reuters reports, “punishing your toddler with a few swats on the rear may come back to bite you, a new report suggests.
  • The New York Times says, “hitting a child — whether in anger or as a proscribed punishment — does not permanently improve behavior and can cause long-term emotional harm.”
  • ABC News claims, “A new study links frequent spanking with aggression in young children.”

Theses news sources are basing their biased coverage on a biased study.

In this new study, researchers at Tulane University surveyed 2,500 mothers and found that when 3-year-old children are spanked often, they are 50 percent more likely to show aggressive behavior two years later. The study researchers say their study shows that even “light spanking” can increase the risk of aggression.

Since this “new” data goes against my experience and my understanding of the research literature on the topic, I contacted the researcher and expert I most trust in reviewing the studies on spanking — Robert E. Larzelere, Ph.D., at Oklahoma State University.

After reviewing the study, Dr. Larzelere has submitted this comment to the journal that published the misleading study:

Dr. Taylor.s study is well-intentioned but biased. It does not distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate spanking nor does it identify what parents should use instead.

In a recent study published in BMC Pediatrics, we used the same methods used in the Taylor article and got the same results (3rd row of Table 5).

The only problem was that we got the same apparently harmful child outcomes for grounding, sending children to their room, and even for child psychotherapy.

This led us to conclude that something is wrong when the “strongest evidence yet against the use of spanking” is based on statistical analyses that would make psychotherapy for children look as harmful as spanking!

Our study shows that these results are biased because defiant children lead parents to use all disciplinary tactics more often as well as to seek psychotherapy for their child.

Further, like all anti-spanking studies, Taylor’s study does not distinguish appropriate from inappropriate spanking.

Our 2005 summary of all 26 studies investigating other disciplinary alternatives as well as spanking found that spanking resulted in less noncompliance or aggression than 10 of the 13 alternatives when it was used nonabusively to back-up milder disciplinary tactics in defiant 2-to-6-year-olds.

Spanking led to worse outcomes than alternative tactics only when it was used too severely or as the primary disciplinary method.

The best parenting combines love and limits, using the mildest disciplinary tactic that fits the occasion, but spanking has been shown to be an effective option when young children respond defiantly to milder tactics, such as time out.

Then they will learn to cooperate with time out, so that loving parents can phase out spanking as soon as possible.

You can read more about spanking myths (and find out the facts about appropriate spanking) in several previous blogs I’ve written on appropriate spanking:

  • Introduction
  • Argument #1: Many psychological studies show that spanking is an improper form of discipline.
  • Argument #2: Physical punishment establishes the moral righteousness of hitting other persons who do something which is regarded as wrong.
  • Argument #3: Since parents often refrain from hitting until the anger or frustration reaches a certain point, the child learns that anger and frustration justify the use of physical force.
  • Argument #4: Physical punishment is harmful to a child.
  • Argument #5: Physical punishment makes the child angry at the parent.
  • Argument #6: Spanking teaches a child that “might makes right,” that power and strength are most important and that the biggest can force their will upon the smallest.
  • Argument #7: Spanking is violence.
  • Argument #8: Spanking is an ineffective solution to misbehavior.
  • Argument #9: Adults who were spanked as children are at risk for using violence as a means of resolving conflicts as adults.
  • Argument #10: Spanking leads a parent to use harmful forms of corporal punishment which lead to physical child abuse.
  • Argument #11: Spanking is never necessary.
  • Belief in God Relieves Depression

    I wanted you to read an excerpted from, “Belief in God Relieves Depression,” an interesting article in the The Washington Times by Jennifer Harper:

    The “Big Man Upstairs” is getting accolades from mental health specialists who say they are finding that a belief in God plays a positive role in the treatment of anxiety and depression. University of Toronto psychologists reported last year that “believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress,” their research showcasing “distinct brain differences” between believers and nonbelievers.

    In patients diagnosed with clinical depression, “belief in a concerned God can improve response to medical treatment,” said the new research, which has been published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. The operative term here is “caring,” the researchers said.

    “The study found that those with strong beliefs in a personal and concerned God were more likely to experience an improvement.”

    “In our study, the positive response to medication had little to do with the feeling of hope that typically accompanies spiritual belief,” said study director Patricia Murphy, a chaplain at Rush and an assistant professor of religion, health and human values. “It was tied specifically to the belief that a Supreme Being cared,” she said.

    “We found that religious people or even people who simply believe in the existence of God show significantly less brain activity in relation to their own errors,” said Michael Inzlicht, assistant psychology professor at the University of Toronto, who led the research. “They’re much less anxious and feel less stressed when they have made an error,” he said.

    A fellow member of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations with me, lawyer and psychiatrist Robert Rogan, DO, JD, wrote this in response:

    Faith is “the substance of things hoped for.”

    Many of us can still recall what living without Christ was like – everything was up to us. Striving and uncertainty were the norm for many of us. A serious disease was terrible and overwhelming with seemingly no chance of hope.

    Realizing there is Someone infinitely greater who really cares about us, even loves us, brings great assurance and relief.

    Today, unfortunately, we’re taught to be an “army of one.”

    As per the article the belief that a Supreme being cared for the patient made the difference in healing and recovery. We can even believe that our mistakes and failures are for a good (perhaps divine) purpose.

    Have we not as physicians noticed the trend that patients with faith recover sooner and may even have ‘thinner’ charts?

    Of course the researchers did not cover the actual experience of salvation through Christ and the freedom associated therewith. Also the article did not specify the actual brain responses revealed in the study.

    Nevertheless, for us as Christian physicians we need to stay alert to the patient’s faith and work with that faith to develop the best treatment plan for them.

    Our faith is in that same Supreme being (in most cases). But, our current politically correct environment makes our work more challenging and that is where our faith comes into play.

    Let us not forget that God designed our brain’s neurochemistry too.

    All I can say, is, “Amen.”

    Bedside Economics and Healthcare Reform – A Christian Doctor’s Response

    My dear friend, Al Weir, MD, is an oncologist in Memphis, TN. He has served in Africa as a missionary and served with the Christian Medical Association. He’s just written a wonderful devotional called, “Bedside Economics” It is based upon Psalm 106:3, “Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.” Al’s writings alway provoke me to deep contemplation. None moreso than this one:

    It has provoked me to deep contemplation.

    He was an oncologist transplanted from the Caribbean to Canada where he worked in a small British Columbia city. We sat beside each other at a medical meeting and began to discuss the economics of healthcare in both his country and mine.

    In discussing a given treatment regimen, both effective and approved for use, he made the statement, “Those drugs are too expensive for the 5% of people whom thy actually save, so I don’t use them.”

    In the midst of our national healthcare reform discussion we are all aware of the cost of healthcare. Healthcare costs too much for many of our patients and for our country’s economic health. Sometimes in our discussions, and even in our practice decision making, we may confuse the macro economics of patient care with the economics of caring for the individual patient who is sitting in front of us.

    The cost of care in each is extremely important, but the doctor’s considerations in each are quite different. As doctors, we do have a special level of understanding of the healthcare arena and thus have a responsibility to inform the national debate regarding the expenditure of healthcare dollars. We should enter this debate publically without the bias of personal gain and seek to maximize both good for patients in general and for our nation as a whole.

    However, when we face our individual patients with diagnostic and therapeutic decision making, our concerns are modified.

    We, as Christian doctors, understand that we have a covenant relationship with our patients in which they offer their trust and compliance, while we offer our full dedication to their benefit, unaffected by our desire for personal gain. Actually, we have a three way covenant relationship since our Lord is partnering with us in their care, increasing our concern for the good of the patient and adding the commitment that our care should point towards Him.

    This covenant relationship should lead to at least three defining questions each time we present our patients with diagnostic or therapeutic options:

    • Which approach provides the greatest benefit for this patient, both toward his/her stated goals and toward my understanding of their best good?
    • Which approach harms my patient least economically?
    • Am I certain that my recommendations are not distorted by personal gain?

    I have discovered in my own practice that when I fail to ask these questions, I will drift toward my natural desire for personal fulfillment, which may not be the best way to show God’s love for my patient.

    Dr. Weir then offers this prayer, one that I prayed today:

    Dear God, please let me always put the good of my patients first so that Your reflection from my life may not be distorted by the economics of their care. Amen.

    The Cat’s Out of the Bag on the True Costs of the Healthcare Reform Bill

    My friend, Congressman Doug Lamborn, sent me a just published report from the nonpartisan, independent actuaries at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Their analysis of the newly enacted Democrat health care overhaul has shocked people on both sides of the aisle. Among its many troubling findings, the report concludes that national health care costs will increase significantly over the next decade under the new law.

    Here’s a short summary of the report’s key findings produced by the Minority staff of the House Ways and Means Committee:

    • Health Care Costs Increase:  “National health expenditures under the health reform act would increase by a total of $311 billion (0.9 percent) during calendar years 2010-2019.” [Page 4]  The actuaries found the law bends the cost curve up by a greater degree than either the House or Senate-passed legislation, despite the Administration’s claim that slowing national health spending was the “single most important” reason to overhaul the health system.
    • Over One-Half Trillion in Medicare Cuts: The Medicare actuaries found that the new health law cuts “$575 billion” [Page 4] from Medicare.
    • Seniors’ Access to Care Jeopardized: As a result of the cuts to Medicare, the actuaries found, “absent legislative intervention, [providers] might end their participation in the program [possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries].” [Page 10]
    • Workers & Seniors Can’t Keep the Health Plan They Have and Like: “We estimate that such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 14 million.” [Page 7]  Furthermore, 2 million Americans who currently have employer-provided health coverage will be dumped into Medicaid.  [Page 3]  Additionally, the actuaries predict millions of seniors will lose their Medicare plan because massive cuts to the program will result in “about 50 percent” of seniors no longer being in a plan. [Page 11].
    • Long Wait Lines Resulting From A Shortage of Doctors and Hospitals: “For now, we believe that consideration should be given to the potential consequences of a significant increase in demand for health care meeting a relatively fixed supply of health care providers and services.” In other words, Americans should be prepared for doctor and hospital shortages under the new law.  [Page 20]
    • False Promise to Those With Pre-Existing Conditions: “By 2011 and 2012 the initial $5 billion in Federal funding for [high risk pools] would be exhausted, resulting in substantial premium increases to sustain the program.” [Page 16]
    • Massive & Unworkable Entitlement Expansion: “First, an estimated 18 million would gain primary Medicaid coverage as a result of the expansion.” [Page 3]  In addition to burdening both federal and state budgets, the actuaries caution this expansion will fail to provide meaningful access to health care.  “Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of the increased demand for Medicaid would be difficult to meet, particularly over the first few years.” [Page 20]
    • Millions Will See Their Health Benefits Taxed for the First Time: “It should be noted, however, that an estimated 12 percent of insured workers in 2019 would be in employer plans with benefit values in excess of the thresholds [before changes to reduce benefits] and that this percentage would increase rapidly thereafter.” [Page 13]
    • Budget Gimmicks Revealed: President Obama’s actuaries found that the new government-run long-term care program that Democrats had touted as saving $72 billion dollars over the next ten years, will “face a significant risk of failure.” [Page 15]
    • New “Medicare Tax” Doesn’t Go To Medicare: “The Reconciliation Act amendments introduced a new 3.8-percent “unearned income Medicare contribution” on income from interest, dividends, annuities, and other non-earnings sources for individual taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 and couples filing joint returns with incomes above $250,000.  Despite the title of this tax, this provision is unrelated to Medicare; in particular, the revenues generated by the tax on unearned income are not allocated to the Medicare trust funds.” [Page 9]

    Hopefully we will be able to replace those who voted for this monstrosity with those who are willing and committed to repealing this legislation and replacing it with reform that gives the American people more choices, more care, more caring, and not more government.

    Should Kids take Fish Oil Supplements?

    All the talk about the benefits of omega-3s has parents asking whether CHILDREN should take fish oil supplements. Omega-3s are important for neurodevelopment … and they’re now showing up in many prenatal vitamins, infant formulas, and foods. Fish oil supplements for kids are often promoted as improving visual acuity, brain function, or intelligence.

    But, according to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, “there’s no proof that omega-3 supplements make kids ‘smarter’…or have any cognitive benefit in most kids.”

    In fact, according to the NMCD, “… many of these claims will be removed … due to pressure from the feds.”

    The NCMD recommends this to physicians and healthcare professionals who care for kids:

    • Tell parents that most kids don’t need fish oil supplements.
    • Instead, suggest that kids eat about 4 oz/week of fatty fish … such as canned light tuna, salmon burgers, etc. This provides about 250 mg/day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
    • Supplements may be worth a try for kids who don’t get enough omega-3s from diet … especially those with behavioral or psychiatric disorders as preliminary evidence suggests fish oil MIGHT benefit kids with ADHD symptoms … autism … depression … or those at high risk for psychosis.
    • Reassure parents that most fish oil supplements don’t contain mercury or harmful levels of PCBs. To be safe, suggest a “USP Verified” or “ConsumerLab” product.
    • Tell parents NOT to use cod liver oil, as it has too much vitamin A.
    • Tell parents NOT to use flaxseed, as it doesn’t contain the same omega-3s as fish oil.

    If You Are Going to take Fish Oil — here’s how to take the right amount

    The amount of fish oil one has to take each day depends upon why one is taking it. Here are some diseases and the amount of the effective daily doses of total fish oil or EPA and DHA (the most active components of fish oil) needed for each disorder (according to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database): Continue reading

    Omega-3 Fatty Acid Protects Against Polyps

    Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) have been shown effective in treating high levels of triglycerides and in preventing primary and secondary cardiovascular disease. Now comes a new study showing that the fatty acid found in fish oil (EPA) has shown promise in the prevention of colorectal cancer in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. The study was a randomized study. Although the study was performed in patients with a genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer, the benefits might also extend to non-inherited, or sporadic, colon cancer. Here are the details from  MedPage:

    An omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid significantly reduced both the number and size of rectal polyps in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis, a randomized trial found.

    Six months of treatment with the free fatty acid formulation of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) led to a decrease in mean number of polyps from 4.13 at baseline to 3.61, a 12.4% decrease, according to Nicholas J. West, MBBS, of St. Mark’s Hospital in London, and colleagues.

    In contrast, six months of placebo treatment resulted in an increase from 4.50 polyps at baseline to 5.05, which represented a 9.7% increase, the researchers reported online in Gut.

    Familial adenomatous polyposis is an autosomal dominant disorder in which affected individuals are predisposed to colorectal cancer, and prophylactic removal of the colon is recommended.

    In younger patients, the procedure generally undertaken is colectomy with ileorectal anastomosis, but the remnant of rectal tissue remains susceptible, so patients must undergo routine endoscopic surveillance.

    In the past, patients also were given chemoprevention with cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitors, but the recognition that these drugs have cardiovascular toxicity limits their long-term use today.

    Strong preclinical evidence suggests that certain polyunsaturated fatty acids are active against colorectal cancer, but typical fish oil supplements are associated with adverse effects such as dyspepsia.

    So a new, enteric-coated, free fatty acid formulation which is released and absorbed primarily in the small intestine was used to evaluate the potential efficacy of EPA for prevention of colorectal cancer in post-colectomy patients.

    A total of 55 adult patients with familial polyposis were randomized to receive 2 g EPA per day or placebo.

    After six months the difference between the change in polyp number between the EPA and placebo groups was −1.06 (95% CI −1.78 to −0.35, P=0.005), with an overall decrease of 22.4% (95% CI 5.1 to 39.6%, P=0.012).

    In addition, the sum of polyp diameters decreased by 12.6% in the EPA group and increased by 17.2% in the placebo group — an overall difference of 29.8% in polyp size (95% CI 3.6 to 56.1, P=0.027).

    Video endoscopy determined that EPA treatment was associated with a modest improvement in the global rectal polyp burden (+0.09), compared to overall worsening with placebo (−0.34). The difference was statistically significant (P=0.011).

    There also was a mean 2.6-fold increase in rectal mucosal EPA levels associated with the active treatment.

    Two patients in the placebo group withdrew because of abdominal pain, nausea, and rash, while one patient in the EPA group withdrew because of nausea and epigastric discomfort.

    The most common adverse event in both groups was diarrhea, which may reflect a post-colectomy lack of physiologic control of fecal water, the investigators suggested.

    Nausea was reported by nine patients receiving EPA and by three receiving placebo.

    Patients reported no bleeding episodes, and there were no serious adverse events attributable to the treatment.

    The antineoplastic activity demonstrated in the study “is almost certainly a combination of regression of existing adenomas and prevention of de novo tumor growth,” the researchers concluded.

    Comparison of these findings with those from previous studies of chemoprevention in familial polyposis with the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib found that the magnitude of effect was “remarkably similar.”

    The authors said the data also suggest a role for EPA in chemoprevention of sporadic colorectal neoplasia.

    The mechanisms by which EPA inhibits neoplastic activity remain uncertain, although both COX-dependent and COX-independent mechanisms of action have been described, including antioxidant effects and alteration of T cell and colonocyte membrane ‘lipid raft’ functions.

    Aside from antineoplastic activity, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have beneficial cardiovascular and antiplatelet properties.

    “Therefore, it is possible that EPA [free fatty acid] treatment may combine [colorectal cancer] chemopreventative efficacy with cardiovascular benefits, which is a particularly attractive therapeutic strategy for middle-to-old age populations relevant to secondary prevention of sporadic colorectal neoplasia,” the investigators asserted.

    Vitamin D Supplementation and Cancer Prevention

    Readers of this blog know that, in general, I’m in favor of healthcare professionals checking vitamin D levels as part of routine exams. I do this on all adolescents and adults. And, I’ve blogged more on the topic of vitamin D this year than any other topic. So, I’m trying to post less on the topic, but this and the next too blogs were too important not to mention to you.

    The subject of this blog is based upon an abstract of an amazing study titled “Vitamin D Supplementation and Cancer Prevention.” It is authored by Thomas L. Lenz, PharmD, and published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine (2009;3[5]:365-368):

    It is estimated that approximately 1 billion people worldwide have blood concentrations of vitamin D that are considered suboptimal.

    Much research has been conducted over the past 30 years linking low vitamin D serum concentrations to both skeletal and nonskeletal conditions, including several types of cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, upper respiratory tract infections, all-cause mortality, and many others.

    Several observational studies and a few prospectively randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that adequate levels of vitamin D can decrease the risk and improve survival rates for several types of cancers including breast, rectum, ovary, prostate, stomach, bladder, esophagus, kidney, lung, pancreas, uterus, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

    Individuals with serum vitamin D concentrations less than 20 ng/mL are considered most at risk, whereas those who achieve levels of 32 to 100 ng/mL are considered to have sufficient serum vitamin D concentrations.

    Vitamin D can be obtained from exposure to the sun, through dietary intake, and via supplementation.

    Obtaining a total of approximately 4000 IU/d of vitamin D3 from all sources has been shown to achieve serum concentrations considered to be in the sufficient range. However, most individuals will require a dietary supplement of 2000 IU/d of vitamin D3 to achieve sufficient levels as up to 10,000 IU/d is considered safe.

    Vitamin D3 is available as an over-the-counter product at most pharmacies and is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared with the demonstrated benefits.

    What am I doing in my practice? As mentioned above, I check a vitamin D level as part of my annual exam. I do this on all adolescents and adults.

    If the vitamin D level is below 50, I suggest supplementing with vitamin D and rechecking.

    I give my patients two options:

    1. OTC vitamin D, 2000 IU per day, and recheck the level in 4-6 months, or
    2. Prescription vitamin D, 50,000 IU per week for 12 weeks and then recheck the level.

    Vitamin D helps fend off flu and asthma attacks

    In a recent study of Japanese schoolchildren, vitamin D supplements taken during the winter and early spring helped prevent seasonal flu and asthma attacks. Here’s more on the study from Reuters Health:

    The idea for the study, study chief Dr. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, told Reuters Health, came from an earlier study looking at whether vitamin D could help prevent the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. The researchers in that study noticed that people taking vitamin D were three times less likely to report cold and flu symptoms.

    This led Urashima, of Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo, and colleagues to randomly assign a group of 6- to 15-year-old children to take vitamin D3 supplements (1,200 international units daily) or inactive placebo during a cold and flu season.

    Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is more readily absorbed by the body and more potent than vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, the form often found in multivitamins.

    During the study, conducted between December 2008 and March 2009, 31 of 167 children taking placebo caught influenza A, the most common form of the virus, compared with only 18 of 167 taking vitamin D.

    The vitamin D group was 58 percent less likely to catch influenza A, the researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    Vitamin D also appeared to suppress asthma attacks in children with a history of asthma.

    Two children taking vitamin D had asthma attacks during the study, compared to 12 children taking placebo.

    Urashima admitted to being a bit surprised by this finding and hopes to confirm it in a randomized trial targeting children with asthma.

    Dr. Adit Ginde, of University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health: “This is the first time a study has been done that rigorously shows that vitamin D supplementation can reduce a type of influenza in a dedicated clinical trial.”

    Ginde and colleagues published a study a year ago showing that asthmatics with lower vitamin D levels were at five times the risk for colds and flu.

    In the Japanese study, vitamin D supplementation did not prevent influenza type B, which tends to appear later in the flu season than the “A” flu variety.

    Ginde said there is no solid explanation for why vitamin D prevented influenza A and not influenza B. “The immune system fights different viruses in different ways. This finding needs to be explored in more detail,” Ginde said.

    Based on the current study, giving kids vitamin D supplements during the winter may help reduce cases of influenza A, the researchers conclude.

    Urashima suggests that children could take 1,200 IU per day starting in September to prevent flu and asthma attacks during the flu season. This is three times the currently recommended intake, but well within safe limits for children.

    Increasing vitamin D levels may cut heart disease risk

    I may have blogged more on vitamin D this year than any other topic. And, now, the Los Angeles Times is reporting, “Raising the amount of vitamin D in the blood appears to help some people — at least those deficient in the vitamin — reduce their risk of heart disease by about 30%.” This is according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting.

    In the past, “researchers have been uncomfortable randomizing people with low vitamin D into a group that … does not” receive treatment, because deficiency “can contribute to weaker bones and” has “been associated with increased risks of several diseases, including several types of cancer.”

    The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the researchers reported that “patients who increased their vitamin D levels to 43 nanograms per milliliter of blood or higher reduced their risks of the chronic diseases.” Currently, 30 nanograms is “considered ‘normal'” by some (although in our community, many of the specialists want vitamin D levels to be 50 or higher).

    Meanwhile, researchers also found that “patients who raised their vitamin D levels were 33% less likely to have a heart attack, 20% less likely to develop heart failure, and 30% less likely to die between” visits to their physician, WebMD reported. HealthDay also covered the story.

    What am I doing in my practice? Checking a vitamin D level as part of my annual exam. I do this on all adolescents and adults. If the vitamin D level is below 50, I suggest supplementing with vitamin D and rechecking. I give my patients two options. (1) OTC vitamin D, 2000 IU per day, and recheck the level in 4-6 months, or (2) Prescription vitamin D, 50,000 IU per week for 12 weeks and then recheck the level.

    Oral Medication May be more Effective than Topical for Killing Head Lice

    In a column I wrote for physicians nearly a decade ago, I discussed the growing use of oral medications, like ivermectin, for some topical skin infections. Now, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that in tough cases of head lice, Stromectol (ivermectin), which is “not approved for use in the US for head lice,” eradicates the “parasites more effectively than” a lotion containing the insecticide malathion.

    According to a report in The Los Angeles Times, the researchers studied “812 people in 376 households in seven areas in the world,” and found that in the “ivermectin group, 95% of the participants were lice-free after two weeks, compared with 85% of the malathion group.” The Times adds, “Ivermectin is not approved for use in the US for head lice.”

    Bloomberg News points out that “those in the medical trial were considered hard to cure because they had been treated unsuccessfully with lotions for their head lice for two to six weeks before the start of the study.”

    The researchers also “said the medicine should be restricted to people whose head lice doesn’t go away with other treatments to prevent resistance to the drug.”

    Resistant Ringworm Common in Some Elementary Schools

    Treatment-resistant ringworm is common among urban elementary school children — at least according to a new report from U.S. researchers. They studied 10,514 children in kindergarten through Grade 5 at 44 schools across the bi-state Kansas City metropolitan area, and found that 6.6 percent of them were infected with the fungus (T. tonsurans) that causes ringworm, which can cause scaly, itchy scalps and hair loss. Here are the details from a HealthDay article:

    Infection rates varied by age and race. More than 18 percent of black children in kindergarten and the first grade were infected. That rate dropped to 7 percent by fifth grade. Infection rates were 1.6 percent for Hispanic children and 1.1 percent for white children. The reasons for the higher rate among black children aren’t clear. The study is published in Pediatrics.

    “The organism T. tonsurans has become the leading cause of scalp infection in the U.S., and we believe it is on the rise in inner city areas,” study author Susan Abdel-Rahman, a professor of pediatrics and pharmacy at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, said in a news release.

    “This study supports what I and many of my peers are seeing, children with scaly, itchy scalps and hair loss are prevalent in metropolitan areas. If not treated, ringworm can lead to permanent hair loss, which can damage a child’s self-image. There is also some evidence that it may worsen seemingly unrelated problems such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.”

    The oral antifungal medicine used to treat ringworm does not completely eliminate the fungus in many children, which means they can spread the infection to others even after treatment.

    T. tonsurans has learned how to stay on the host and avoid eradication. This can be very frustrating for children who keep getting re-infected and for their parents who are doing everything they can to prevent this,” Abdel-Rahman said.

    “We have only recently started to appreciate just how many children carry this pathogen so we don’t yet know the best way to tackle this problem. However, I do advise parents to limit the sharing of items that come into contact with the scalp, such as hats, combs, brushes and pillows.

    “Watch closely for signs of infection, such as flaking that looks like dandruff, white patchy scaling, itching, hair thinning or loss, and small pus-filled bumps, especially when your child has come in contact with another infected child. Make an appointment to see your doctor if you suspect that your child is infected and make sure to take the prescribed medicine as directed along with the application of a medicated shampoo two to three times a week.”

    The Nemours Foundation has more information about ringworm and related infections.

    Stricter government oversight of dietary supplements may be moving closer – thank goodness

    Whenever I give talks on natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements), whether to healthcare professionals or laypersons, people seem shocked to learn that these substances are virtually unregulated in the United States. I’ve written about the many problems this causes healthcare professionals and consumers in my book, Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely. So, I was very happy to read an AP article reporting “Stricter government oversight of dietary supplements is moving closer, thanks to an agreement among senators to include guidelines in” the Dietary Supplement Safety Act.

    The report says that in a letter sent to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) outlined “four key areas of ‘common ground,'” two of which include “requiring all dietary supplement manufacturing, processing, and holding facilities to register with the Secretary of Health and Human Services,” and “giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to issue a mandatory recall order if a dietary supplement is adulterated or misbranded.”

    I hope they are successful. If so, it will go a long way toward protecting consumers from the deceptive practices and advertising used by some manufacturers or natural medications.

    Good News for those with Migraine Headaches

    Here’s a good news story for those of us who suffer with migraine headaches. According to two new studies, migraine sufferers may be able to get sufficient relief without turning to prescription drugs.

    The studies, published in the latest issue of the journal Headache, conclude that naproxen (marketed over-the-counter [OTC] as Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) effectively decreased or eliminated pain and reduced migraine recurrence and migraine-associated symptoms to a degree defined as a “desirable outcome” of migraine therapy by the International Headache Society.

    Here are more details from Reuters Health:

    Migraine headache affects as many as 28 million Americans and costs the U.S. economy an estimated $24 billion every year.

    About three-quarters of people who suffer from migraines report more than one migraine a month. The symptoms — pain, light and noise sensitivity, nausea — can last from 4 to 72 hours and often lead to missed days from school or work.

    Researchers from Thailand analyzed four well-designed previous studies of naproxen at doses of 500 to 825 milligrams for treatment of acute moderate to severe migraines involving 2,168 patients.

    Led by Chuthamanee Suthisisand of Mahidol University in Bangkok, the authors concluded that naproxen effectively reduced headache intensity, pain and symptoms within 2 hours of taking it – defined by the International Headache Society as a desirable outcome.

    When compared to other drugs known as triptans, naproxen did as well as the prescription drug frovatriptan (marketed as Frova) but did not offer the same clinical benefits as almotriptan (marketed as Axert) and zolmitriptan (marketed as Zomig).

    However, because of side effects, not all patients can take triptans, and naproxen offers those patients a non-prescription alternative, Suthisisand told Reuters Health by email.

    Still, the authors found that naproxen “appears to be inferior” to aspirin in treating migraines. Suthisisand said the science suggests 1,000 milligrams of aspirin is the best of several treatments that include naproxen and acetaminophen for acute moderate to severe migraine episodes, as long as patients can tolerate potential gastrointestinal side effects.

    Although the Thai team acknowledged that the quality of studies such as theirs depends on the quality of the original studies, they said they were confident the studies they reviewed were high-quality.

    In the second study, researchers from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the makers of Tylenol, randomly assigned 378 migraine sufferers to either 1000 milligrams of Tylenol or a dummy pill.

    In the 90-day trial, the researchers, led by Mary Jane Prior, found that the Tylenol group began to benefit within an hour of taking the medication. At 2 hours, 52 percent of the acetaminophen group reported that their pain was reduced to mild or no pain, compared to 32 percent of the dummy pill group.

    The team also reported a benefit for severe pain sufferers, but they could not determine whether that was due to chance, given the small number of patients in the trial.

    The study also found that acetaminophen offered “significantly larger” relief than placebo from nausea and noise sensitivity at 2 hours and nausea, light and noise sensitivity and functional impairment at 6 hours.

    The study, the authors concluded, adds to earlier clinical evidence supporting acetaminophen’s use to treat migraine.

    “When effective,” the authors wrote, “acetaminophen provides consumers with a non-prescriptive, lower cost alternative to costly prescription migraine drugs.”

    Acetaminophen is not currently approved by the FDA as a migraine treatment except as part of an aspirin or aspirin and caffeine compound. McNeil Consumer Healthcare declined to say whether they were applying to the FDA for approval of acetaminophen for use in migraine.

    Study Finds Unborn Babies Respond to Mother’s Mood

    The more we learn about the unborn child, the more miraculous and amazing they seem to be. Now, a study out of Nagasaki, Japan, tells us that  unborn babies respond to their mother’s mood while she is watching a movie, becoming quiet and still if the film is sad and very lively if the film is happy. Here’s the story as told by LifeSiteNews.com:

    Dr. Kazuyuki Shinohara and colleagues in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior of Nagasaki University in Japan showed 10 pregnant volunteers a cheery 5-minute clip from the Julie Andrews musical The Sound of Music. Another 14 watched a tear-jerking 5 minutes from the 1979 Franco Zeffirelli film The Champ, in which a boy cries at the death of his father.

    Each clip was sandwiched between two “neutral” film clips so that the team could measure any changes in fetal movements against a baseline.

    The women listened to the movies using headphones to guarantee that only the effect of the mothers’ emotions was being measured and that their unborn babies were not being influenced by the movie’s soundtrack.

    “Fetuses can hear by the last trimester,” explained Dr. Shinohara.

    The team counted the number of arm, leg and whole body movements via ultrasound and found that during the happy film clip the unborn babies moved their arms significantly more than when the pregnant women watched the neutral clips.

    However, the unborn babies of the women watching the sad clip moved their arms significantly less than normal.

    “These findings suggest that induced emotions in pregnant women primarily affect arm movements of their fetuses, and that positive and negative emotions have the opposite effects on fetus movement,” Dr. Shinohara wrote in his report.

    Outlining the motive for his research Dr. Shinohara said that the association between maternal psychological well-being during pregnancy and fetal welfare has recently attracted increasing attention.

    “Chronic stress exposure for pregnant women affects fetal development, resulting in preterm birth and low birth weight. In addition to stress, persistent negative maternal emotions during pregnancy such as anxiety, depression, and anger also exert an influence on fetal and later development of a child,” Shinohara explained.

    Shinohara concluded that while it was unclear what makes the unborn child of a happy mother “wave,” he suggests that sadness releases more of the “fight or flight” hormone epinephrine (adrenalin), which redirects blood away from the uterus and prepares muscles for exertion.

    The study, titled “Fetal response to induced maternal emotions” was published by The Journal of Physiological Sciences.

    Premature baby ‘Tom Thumb’ born at 25 weeks weighing half a pound survives

    German doctors have revealed photographs of the smallest premature baby boy to have survived against incredible odds after being born at 25 weeks weighing just over half a pound. To give you and idea of how incredible this is … when I was in my medical training in the 1970’s, we did not even try to resuscitate a 25 week old baby. We kept him or her warm and comfortable, but they died very quickly. Here’s the story:

    The baby, who doctors dubbed “Tom Thumb” was less than the length of a sheet of A-4 paper and weighed a fraction over 9.7 ounces (275 grams) when he was born by Caesarean section 15 weeks prematurely at the University of Medicine at Göttingen in western Germany in June 2009.

    For 24 hours a day, the child was in an incubator and hooked up to feeding tubes, breathing tubes, a heart monitor, a catheter and a plethora of electronic devices to monitor every vital sign as he faced risks of cerebral haemorrhage or organ failure.

    In December, the baby was finally pronounced “stable” after achieving a weight of 8.2lbs – considered an average birth weight in Germany.

    Now, nine months after his birth, doctors have allowed the unnamed boy’s parents to take him to the family home in Eighsfeld, central Germany, after ruling that he is strong enough to survive.

    Officials from Göttingen hospital said that, having checked all available records of premature births worldwide, they were unable to find a viable birth of a boy at a lower weight. Three girls – including one born in the US at just 244 grams – had survived lower birth weights. The smallest boy previously recorded weighed 10.4 ounces.

    Dr Stephan Seeliger, an expert on premature babies, said: “I spoke to the parents about the birth beforehand – whether we should go for it or not. In the end, I said: ‘Good thing we did it!'”

    I would agree, Dr. Seeliger. Well done. Well done, indeed.

    Larimore Monthly Prayer Letter – April 17, 2010

    This prayer letter will cover from April 15 through June 15 (It’s a two-month prayer letter).

    PRAISES:

    1. Article in Revive Magazine – Mentored by a Milker of Cows
    2. Physician Resource Council
    3. COMING IN MAY: Workplace Grace: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work
    4. COMING IN JUNE: Time Scene Investigators: The Influenza Bomb
    5. Events of the last month:

    PRAYER REQUESTS:

    1. Hazel Creek novel
    2. Possible Movie or TV project
    3. Events of the next month
    4. Trip to Italy

    MONTHLY FAMILY NEWSLETTER


    PRAISES:

    1) Article in Revive Magazine – Mentored by a Milker of Cows

    I’ve grateful that an article I had written about my dear friend and mentor, Bill Judge, has been published by Revive Magazine.

    revive_relationship_article_8_t250

    The article is titled “Mentored By A Milker Of Cows.” It’s the story of how this wise and gentle dairy farmer has mentored me for the last 25 years. And, I hope it will be an encouragement to you to both be in a relationship with a mentor, as well as relationships in which you can mentor others.

    You can read the article here. If you like it, I hope you’ll share it with friends.


    2) Physician Resource Council

    From 1995 through 2004 I had the privilege to serve on Focus on the Family’s Physician Resource Council – advising the ministry on medical and health issues. When Barb and I left FOTF in 2004, I moved to “emeritus” status with the PRC.

    Recently we attended a PRC dinner when the group was meeting at FOTF. We were delighted to be with so many old friends and catch up on long years. The food and fellowship were both delicious to and for us.


    3) COMING IN MAY: Workplace Grace: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work

    Many of you are aware of the Going Public with Your Faith book and small-group study curriculum that I wrote with my dear friend William Carr Peel, ThM.

    Bill and I have been working for sometime on a revision of the resources and they are being released in May under a new name: Workplace Grace: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work.

    Workplace Grace 100kb

    Here’s a synopsis of the materials:

    Workplace Grace flies in the face of almost everything you’ve ever read or heard about evangelism. It is written for all Christians who may not think they have a gift for evangelism but want their lives to have an impact on the people around them. It describes evangelism as a process and helps you understand how your skills and God-given gifts can easily be used to draw customers, clients, and coworkers to new life in Jesus Christ.

    The new book, small group participant’s study guide, and small-group DVD course (and leader’s guide) should all be available at my e-bookstore by sometime in June.

    However, if you’d like to look at the materials now, here’s where you can find them:


    4) COMING IN JUNE: Time Scene Investigators: The Influenza Bomb

    Many of you are aware of my first novel, co-written with my friend, Paul McCusker, Time Scene Investigators: The Gabon Virus, which was released last summer. Of that book, one reviewed said, “”Just finished the Gabon Virus. It was a splendid tale. We hope to get many more great novels from the men. The best new authors I have found in some time.”

    Well, the reviewer’s wish for another novel has come true. In June, the anxiously awaited sequel to The Gabon Virus will be released and is titled Time Scene Investigators: The Influenza Bomb.

    Cover - TSI 2 - Influenza Bomb- Small copy

    Here’s a description of the book:

    Masses of people are dying from a mysterious flu. While the TSI team searches for a cure, a notorious eco-terrorist group,Return to Earth, uses an influenza bomb to poison the water. It’s a race against time—with the outcome impacting the entire world.

    By the time the team discovers that the terrorists are using the water supply to infect people, the sickness is spreading worldwide and no one has a cure. When Return to Earth makes off with a mysterious device called the influenza bomb with the intent to destroy all of mankind, Dr. Hutchinson must stop the contamination from being spread before it’s too late.

    And, here are some early reviews:

    • Fast-paced and gripping, this book will make us all think, “This could happen!”
      • Debbie Maccomber, New York Times bestselling novelist
    • Crisp prose, never-slowing action, a frighteningly plausible plot that weaves impeccably through history and across international borders, all tempered with a tender reminder of divine forgiveness.
      • Jeanette Windle
    • This is an international thriller with chilling relevance today. The authors have done their homework and written a totally realistic novel that may keep you awake at night! You will never again read about H1N1 outbreaks without wondering about their origins.
      • Dorothy Cowling, Creator and Book Reviewer, The List
    • Engaging. Innovative. Entertaining. And downright scary. Pray this story never becomes a news headline. Larimore and McCusker have penned an unforgettable tale!
      • Alton Gansky, novelist
    • McCusker and Larimore have crafted a chilling tale of bioterrorism. Peppered with scientific details that bring the story to life, The Influenza Bomb is delightfully disturbing and will leave the reader with a ghastly list of ‘what ifs’ that will haunt the reader long after the last page.
      • Harry Kraus, MD, Bestselling Author, The Six-Liter Club and Salty Like Blood

    The new book, autographed by both authors, should all be available at my ebookstore by sometime in June. However, if you’d like to preorder the book, you can do so at the Simon and Schuster website or at Amazon.


    5) Events of the last month:

    Mar 24 – Apr 2: Barb was in Baton Rouge visiting with family. She had a wonderful visit with her parents, family, and friends.

    Mar 28 – Apr 2: I was in Tulsa, OK, serving as a visiting clinical professor at the In His Image Family Medicine Residency Program. I’m always blessed to be able to serve patients, students, residents, staff, and faculty. My teaching sessions were well received and I had a number of very fruitful counseling sessions.

    Apr 14: I traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, to speak twice on the topic of “Protecting Your Child from the Obesity Epidemic.” The talks were sponsored by the Public Health Department. The media interviews and talks seemed well received and I hope will be of help to the many families and healthcare professionals who attended.


    PRAYER REQUESTS:

    1)  Hazel Creek novel

    Between now and May 7th, I need to finish the final edits on my first solo novel, tentatively titled Hazel Creek. Would you pray for me during this process? I’d appreciate your prayers for wisdom and creativity as I edit – as well as the discipline to apply myself to the writing process.


    2) Possible Movie or TV project

    Barb and I still are praying for the movie producer who is considering a TV series or movie based upon my three Bryson City books. We are praying the Lord will give him wisdom and guidance on the next steps. We’ll let you know when we hear from him.

    We know he’s incredibly busy as his next movie, “Letters from God,” is scheduled for national release in the U.S. on April 9th.  We were blessed to be able to attend a screening of the movie here in Colorado Springs. If you liked “Facing the Giants” or “Fireproof,” you’ll love this wonderful family movie.


    3) Events of the next month:

    • Apr 18: I’ll be speaking to the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians in Colorado Springs on the topic of “Natural Medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements): How to find evidence-based, trustworthy, up-to-date information. How to recommend safe product.”
    • Apr 28-May 2: Barb and I will fly to Chicago where I will participate in the AMA RUC meetings. These technical meetings are always very trying for me – but I pray that I may be salt and light to others who are there.
    • May 8 – 24: Trip to Italy (see below)
    • May 28 – Jun 1: Barb and I will fly to Atlanta. On May 29 I will speak to the American Academy of Physician Assistants on the topic of “Natural Medicines for Osteoarthritis: Evidence-Based Recommendations.” However, most of our time will be joyously spent with son, Scott, his wife, Jennifer, and their girls, Anna Kate and Sarah Elizabeth.
    • Jun 2 – 6: Barb and I will fly to Washington, DC, where we will sightsee and I will participate in an AMA CPT meeting.
    • Jun 13 – 20: Barb and will, as we do every year, travel to Young Life’s Crooked Creek Ranch near Frazier, Colorado, to volunteer for the week.

    4) Trip to Italy

    Barb and I are SO excited to have an opportunity to return to one of our favorite countries in the world – Italy. We first traveled there between medical school and residency in 1978. We returned for a nearly-one-month sabbatical in the fall of 2004. Now we are going back for the wedding of a dear friend. Here’s our schedule:

    • May 8-9: Fly from Denver to Rome.
    • May 9-10: Visit Rome
    • May 11: Train to Venice
    • May 12: Visit Venice
    • May 13: Train to Cinque Terre
    • May 14-15: Visit the towns of Cinque Terre
    • May 16: Train to Florence
    • May 17-19: Visit Florence
    • May 20: Train to Rome
    • May 21: Attend the wedding of Anne Hartman at St. Peter’s Bascilica in Vatican City (yes, that St. Peter’s). Annie is the youngest daughter of our dear friends, John and Cleta Hartman. John and I practiced medicine together from 1985 – 2000 in Kissimmee, FL.
    • May 22-23: Visit Rome
    • May 24: Travel Home

    Barb and I are SO grateful for your prayer support for us and our ministries together. We could not do this without your love and the precious gift of your prayers and friendship.


    Monthly Family Newsletter

    If you’re interested in our family newsletter, the April 2010 issue, you can find it here.

    Mentored By A Milker Of Cows

    I’ve written an article about my dear friend and mentor, Bill Judge, for Revive Magazine. It’s called “Mentored By A Milker Of Cows.” You can read the entire article here, but here’s an excerpt to wet your appetite. If you like it, I hope you’ll share it with friends:

    I knew I needed a mentor. I was busy with my career as a physician—too busy for my family. My priorities were out of whack. I needed someone who would encourage me and keep me on track. So I asked the pastors who came through the hospital, “Who’s the one layperson you know in this area who looks most like Jesus?” When I heard the name Bill Judge multiple times, I said, “This is a guy I’d like to meet.”

    I called Bill and asked if he would mentor me. I was taken aback when he quietly said he would meet with me once and decide.

    Early on a Tuesday morning, more than twenty years ago, I shared with Bill about my life and struggles. He responded by saying he wanted to pray about whether we would spend more time together. (I felt like I was waiting for a medical school application or something, to see if I’d be accepted!)

    What I later learned was that Bill was considering committing himself to me in an unusual way, even getting up an hour before our early morning sessions to pray for me. Although his experiences of raising five daughters and nearly going through bankruptcy before committing his finances and farm to God were rich and extremely valuable to a young man like me, he wanted to bring more to our relationship than what he had done.

    Bill wanted to teach me about the Creator, the Father God and His Son Jesus. He wanted me to understand what the blood of Christ and the resurrection meant. He wanted me to be indwelled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit. He wanted me to discover my gifts and to bask in the joy of seeing the Lord produce fruit in my life. So he wanted to pray about it first!

    When he called back, he said yes . . . with conditions.

    “The first is that we’ll meet at 5:30 in the morning, usually at Joanie’s Café in downtown Kissimmee, for breakfast. And bring your Bible.”

    Next, “The first Tuesday of each month, I want you to bring your checkbook and your credit card bill so we can go through them together. The second Tuesday, I want you to bring your schedule, so we can discuss the stewardship of time.

    “Before our meeting on the third Tuesday of the month, I want the freedom to be able to call your kids, Kate and Scott, so that you and I can talk more meaningfully about what type of dad you are.” (My kids loved those phone calls! Imagine trying to discipline your little boy, and he says, “I’m going to tell Mr. Bill. I’m going to call Mr. Bill.”)

    It got worse, because before the fourth Tuesday of each month, he said he’d also like permission to call my wife, Barb. She looked forward to that week, and they often had long discussions about our marriage! “And when there’s a fifth Tuesday,” he said, “I’d like to be able to talk to your staff and your business partner. Will you give me that permission?”

    I have to tell you, I thought long and hard about those conditions. That’s where the rubber met the road, and it was a tough deal. But I agreed, and we began the mentoring relationship.

    Someone has said that mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a push in the right direction. But for me, mentoring began as a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a kick in the pants!

    But I’ll never forget that first Tuesday when we were to discuss my finances. I was nervous, because there were some things I wasn’t too proud of. Bill arrived with a little satchel, and he pulled out his checkbook and credit card bill for us to examine. Instead of just requiring me to do it, Bill showed me what it meant to budget, give, and save by sharing honestly about mistakes and victories from his own life.

    That humility and transparency characterized Bill’s way of working with me. He has never asked me to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. His relationship with God was honest, vibrant, and fresh. And it changed my life. In recent years Barb and I have been on the road more and more, but Bill and I still talk regularly. The accountability continues.

    There are plenty of New Testament examples of mentoring. Jesus mentored His twelve disciples, and specifically the three. Peter, one of the three, then mentored Barnabas, who in turn mentored Paul. Paul mentored Timothy, and also gave the pastoral admonition to train other men (2 Tim. 2:2). Men mentoring men and women mentoring women—that’s how the church began and spread.

    Make no mistake, one-on-one relationships are costly and time consuming. And the difficult work of relationship doesn’t start in a church building. It starts at places like Joanie’s on Tuesday mornings.

    Early in my relationship with Bill, I asked God to give me one or two men I could pour my life into the way Bill was pouring his into me. The Lord gave me two men, the first people I had ever mentored, to meet with for a year.

    Eventually those men moved away, and I lost touch with them. Then recently, as I was teaching at Baylor Medical College, about fifty people came up to me as a group. One of them said, “About twenty years ago, you mentored a man for a year. He then started a business, went to seminary, and started a church in our town. He led us to Christ and discipled us. And he sent us here to learn from you and to thank you.”

    I think that’s what heaven is going to be like if we’ll make the effort, like Bill, to mentor others. You don’t have to be that far down the road. You just have to intentionally get on your knees and say, “Father, would You give me someone I can mentor and pray for and love?”

    Mentoring Basics

    Here are a few principles for mentoring that Bill brought into our relationship:

    1. He took me to God’s Word. We did not have a time together that Bill’s Bible wasn’t there and open. He lived the principles and promises in God’s Word, and he taught me their value.
    2. He prayed with me. I don’t remember a time we met without prayer. Even now, I can’t call him on the phone from anywhere in the world that he doesn’t tell me what he’s praying for me—and of course he wants to pray with me over the phone.
    3. He lovingly monitored my progress. With every three steps forward, there were usually two back (sometimes more!). Through all my failings, I could always call Bill and find a man who was willing to accept and encourage me no matter what.
    4. He protected me. I remember a period when I was wrestling with some movies I’d watch on the road. Instead of judging me, Bill just said, “From now on, when you check in at the hotel, you have the receptionist call me and tell me that he or she has turned those things off.” I’ve witnessed some funny expressions on the faces of receptionists around the country when I checked in! But Bill loved me enough to protect me.

    A Word from Bill

    I milked cows for a living. I tell you that so you will understand how humbling it was for someone like Walt to ask me to mentor him. Walt has a tremendous mind. He is not only a medical doctor who built a successful practice, but he went on to become an author and television medical commentator.

    What does a milker of cows have to offer a man with that kind of résumé? I certainly didn’t feel qualified to be his mentor. But I’ve since discovered that every person has something special in them that they can communicate to another person. We need each other, and whoever you are—even if you milk cows for a living—God can use you to help someone else move up.

    I marvel at what has happened through Walt’s and my friendship. As we’ve met together, I’ve just tried to wait on God to give me answers to the questions he’s asked. I’ve trusted Walt, and he’s trusted me, and we’ve just walked together in that with God.

    First Thessalonians 5:24 says, “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” He calls you to do it, and then He will do it. So why are we sweating? It’s Him! It’s Him in us that does it.

    Praying for Our Unborn Children and Grandchildren

    When Scott (our son) and his wife, Jennifer, were pregnant with their first child (Anna Kate), we were visiting with our dear friends, Boone and Peggy Powell, while volunteering together at Young Life’s Crooked Creek Ranch out in the Rocky Mountains. One morning, over coffee, Peggy asked me, “Do you pray for that unborn grandchild?” I was embarrassed to have to tell her, “No.” In fact, to my shame, I had not even thought about it.

    So, Peggy gave Barb and me a list of prayers we could lift up on a daily basis for Anna Kate. Subsequently, I prayed the same for Scott and Jennifer’s second child, Sarah Elizabeth. Here are the prayers Peggy suggested and I hope you’ll be able to use them as you pray for any unborn children that the Lord brings into your life:

    • Thank you, Lord, that You are forming my grandbaby’s inward parts; that You, O God, are knitting my grandbaby together in ________________________’s (Mom’s name) womb. (From Pslams 139:13,14)
    • I give thanks to You, Creator God, for You are fearfully and wonderfully making this precious child. (From Proverbs 24:3,4)
    • I pray that the parents of this grandbaby, ___________________ and __________________, will build their home by Your wisdom, establish it with understanding and by knowledge fill all the rooms with precious and pleasant riches as they prepare for the birth of this little one. (From Colossians 2:6)
    • I trust, Dear Lord, that You will early bring this child to faith, that as he/she receives Christ Jesus, so may this child walk in Him. (From Deuteronomy 6:5)
    • How I pray, Lord, that our grandchild will love you, the Lord God, with all his/her heart and with all his/her soul and with all his/her might. (From Proverbs 1)

    Here are some prayers that I utilize in praying for our grandchildren now that they are born (but, could certainly be offered before birth):

    • I fervently pray that ___________ will be wise.
    • Loving Lord, I pray that ____________ will enjoy Bible stories in these early years, (Psalm 119:36) and will want to hide Your word in _____________’s heart. (From Psalm 119:11)
    • Please, Father, prompt ___________’s parents to model before _____________ a love for reading Your word and for praying. (From 2 Timothy 1:5)
    • I pray that ________________ will gladly and promptly obey (his/her) parents. (From Ephesians 6:1)
    • And may ______________ early, O God, come to know Christ as (his/her) own Lord and Savior. (From 2 Timothy 3:15)

    Here are some prayer resources that may be helpful for children ages 7 and under:

    • What Happens When Children Pray, by Evelyn Christenson, Chariot Victor Publishing. Beautifully illustrated examples to help children learn biblical principles of praying. A bible memory verse accompanies each short principle.
    • I Want to Know about Prayer by Rick Osborne and Christie Bowler, Zondervan Publishing. Practical basisc of biblical teaching on prayer is applied in current culture situations. Answers a lot of “why” as well as ” how”.
    • Teaching Children to Pray, by Mary J. Davis, Rainbow Publishers. This is actually a set of four books beginning with 2 & 3 year olds and going to grades 3 & 4. The prayer activities have reproducible art and short memory verses with each lesson.

    ‘No child left on his or her fat behind’

    Also, while in Kearney, Nebraska, this week, a reporter from the local paper came to one of my two talks on the topic of “Childhood Obesity: Practical Tips for Busy Families.” I thought you’d be interested in seeing the article she wrote. You can see it here, or I’ve posted it below.

    By the way, if you’d like more tips on how to protect your family from the obesity threat, here are some resources I have for you:

    • An autographed hard cover edition of my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. On sale for $4.99 (while supplies last)
    • An autographed soft cover edition of my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. On sale for $4.99 (while supplies last)
    • You can view the book’s Table of Contents here
    • You can read the book’s first chapter here
    • You can view the book’s Web site here

    Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010 2:00 pm | Updated: 12:22 pm, Thu Apr 15, 2010.

    By JENNIFER CHICK Hub Regional Correspondent

    HOLDREGE — Childhood obesity is a problem parents and communities can’t afford to ignore, says an author and doctor.

    “There are millions of kids heading towards cardiovascular disaster that are simply just not recognized,” said Dr. Walt Larimore, co-author of “Super Sized Kids: How to Rescue Your Child from the Obesity Threat.”

    Larimore spoke to community members in Lexington and Holdrege Wednesday. His appearances were sponsored by Two Rivers Health Department, Lexington Community Foundation and Phelps Memorial Health Center Foundation.

    YMCA of the Prairie also had a weeklong healthy fitness challenge for school kids taken from strategies in Larimore’s book.

    Nebraska ranks 21st in teenage obesity in the nation, Larimore said. Since 1990, 10 percent to 14 percent of Nebraskans have fallen into the obese category. By 2008, that number climbed to 25 percent to 29 percent.

    “It is an epidemic that is not just affecting the country in general, but Nebraska specifically,” Larimore said.

    The average teenage boy drinks 68 gallons of soda in a year, and the average teenage girl drinks 48 gallons per year, Larimore said. The phosphoric acid in soda can affect young women’s bone mass.

    “We have women entering their 20s with lower bone masses than have ever been recorded before,” Larimore said. “So, the impact on them as far as fractures later in life may be huge.”

    He said the No Child Left Behind Act forced schools and educators to reduce the amount of physical education and recess time offered in schools in favor of more academic minutes. Larimore cited studies that showed physical education and recess time increased not only report card scores, but also performance on standardized tests, especially for boys.

    “Instead of the No Child Left Behind, I suggest a new law for the Unicameral Legislature in the state of Nebraska, and that is, ‘No child left on his or her fat behind,’” Larimore said, which brought a laugh from the crowd of more than 150.

    Larimore said parents are reluctant to think of their kids as overweight or obese and instead refer to them as Cornhusker strong.

    “It’s become so prevalent, so common, that a skinny child looks sick,” he said.

    To combat childhood obesity, families must work together to change their habits.

    “Family traditions are a huge part of it,” Larimore said. “This is not genetics. It’s because of the decisions that families make.”

    On his Web site, Larimore provides three free tools that can help families take charge of their health: a family assessment tool, an eight-week family fitness plan and a 16-week family fitness plan, all available at drwalt.com.

    “Our goal is just to help families help kids,” he said.

    The fitness plan is not focused on weight loss, but on making healthier choices such as eating meals at home without TV distractions, cutting children’s screen time to less than four hours a day, reducing red meat or processed meat intake, and adding fruits and vegetables to diets.

    If a family successfully completes the first eight weeks of the family fitness plan, they can then implement a 16-week plan that builds on the first plan’s success.

    “The childhood obesity epidemic is here,” Larimore said. “It’s going to reduce the length of life of our kids and the quality of their life. And we, that love and care for kids, can make a difference. We just have to choose to.”

    The Two Rivers Public Health Department was my sponsor and packed a lot of fruitful activity into a long day (thanks to Terry Krohn and Heather Easton for all the hard work and wonderful hospitality).

    TV Interview: Super Sized Kids and Childhood Obesity

    Earlier this week I was in the Kearney, Nebraska area to speak twice on the topic of “Childhood Obesity: Practical Tips for Busy Families.” The Two Rivers Public Health Department was my sponsor and packed a lot of fruitful activity into a long day (thanks to Terry Krohn and Heather Easton for all the hard work and wonderful hospitality). I thought you might be interested in seeing an interview I did with one of the local television stations. Just go here and click on the video camera icon in the upper left hand portion of the page.

    If you’d like more tips on how to protect your family from the obesity threat, here are some resources I have for you:

    • An autographed hard cover edition of my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. On sale for $4.99 (while supplies last)
    • An autographed soft cover edition of my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. On sale for $4.99 (while supplies last)
    • You can view the book’s Table of Contents here
    • You can read the book’s first chapter here
    • You can view the book’s Web site here

    Here’s the text from the NTV station interview by reporter Jessica Phinney:

    “Super sized.” It’s a phrase we know well.

    On Wednesday night, a nationally recognized family physician, author and former host of “Ask the Family Doctor” on Fox’s Health Network spoke to folks in Lexington and Holdrege.

    Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades.

    You might be thinking your child’s extra pounds are “baby fat” they’ll grow out of. Think again. According to Dr. Walt Larimore, chances are they won’t.

    With recent films like “Super Size Me” and “Fast Food Nation,”  folks are weighing in on the obesity epidemic even at the White House. Mrs. Obama recently launched the “Let’s Move” campaign.

    Yet, we don’t seem to be getting the message as our kids continue to battle the bulge. In Nebraska, 31% of kids are overweight. That makes the cornhusker state 21st in the country when it comes to childhood obesity.

    Terry Krohn, director of the Two Rivers Public Health Department, said, “A study that was done in central Nebraska several years ago showed the children in our area are actually the heaviest in the whole state, which really did surprise me.”

    In his book “Super Sized Kids: How to Rescue Your Child from the Obesity Threat,” Dr. Walt Larimore said it’s time to cut the fat.

    Larimore said, “If we don’t reverse this epidemic, our children will be the first generation in the history of the United States whose life expectancy will be shorter than their parents.”

    But, Larimore said there are simple things parents can do that are easy to digest. The basics including sitting down for home cooked family meals instead of ordering, trading TV and computer time for exercise and making sure they get enough sleep. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, that amounts to 11 hours for kids and at least nine hours for teens.

    “There are a couple of hormones we have. One of them increases our appetite. One of them decreases our appetite,” Larimore explained. “The less sleep you get the more those hormones get out of balance.”

    Larimore said it’s about taking small steps to give your kids a lifetime of health and happiness.

    “We’re  the last guardians of protecting our kids. I mean, who is there besides us?” he asked.

    Larimore said you actually burn more calories sleeping than watching TV.

    Walking Plus Glucosamine Sulfate May Improve Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

    A 30-minute walk taken at least 3 days a week combined with glucosamine sulfate supplements may reduce symptoms of mild to moderate hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA), researchers report in a new study published online in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

    Here’s are some of the details based upon a MedScape report:

    “Management of [OA] includes the use of non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies,” wrote Norman T. M. Ng, MD, from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues. “Although walking is commonly recommended for reducing pain and increasing physical function in people with OA, glucosamine sulphate has also been used to alleviate pain and slow the progression of OA.”

    The main goal of this feasibility study was to evaluate the combined effects of a progressive walking program and glucosamine sulfate intake on OA symptoms and physical activity participation in people with mild to moderate OA.

    In addition, the investigators compared the effectiveness of 2 frequencies of walking (3 vs 5 days per week) and 3 step levels (1500, 3000, and 6000 steps per day), combined with glucosamine sulfate supplements, and also examined compliance with supplement intake and the walking program.

    The study included 28 patients aged 42 to 73 years. All patients were given 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate per day for 6 weeks and then began a 12-week progressive walking program while continuing to take glucosamine.

    Fifteen patients were randomly assigned to walk 5 days per week, and the remaining 13 were randomly assigned to walk 3 days per week. The participants received a pedometer to monitor their step counts. Step level of walking was gradually increased to 3000 steps per day during the first 6 weeks of walking and to 6000 steps per day for the next 6 weeks in both groups.

    Patients were assessed at baseline and at 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-week follow-ups.

    Glucosamine Alone Was Helpful

    The researchers found that during the first 6 weeks of the study, when patients were taking glucosamine supplements only, physical activity levels, physical function, and total Western Ontario and McMaster Universities scores improved (P < .05).

    These outcomes continued to improve through to the final follow-up, although most improvements were seen between weeks 6 and 12, the authors report.

    Compliance with the walking program was the same for both groups

    Walking 5 days per week was not more effective than walking 3 days per week in reducing pain and stiffness, increasing physical function, or improving most other measures used in the study, the authors report.

    Participants in the 3-day walking group walked 3 days per week, but participants in the 5-day walking group walked slightly less than 4 days per week, which suggests that it may be difficult to get people with hip or knee OA to walk more than 3 to 4 days a week, the authors write.

    Increased Activity Further Improved Results

    Increasing the number of steps from 1500 to 3000 steps per day, combined with glucosamine intake, resulted in a 125% increase in minutes of physical activity, a 17% reduction in pain scores, and improvements in physical function. Increasing the steps to 6000 steps per day resulted in a further 57% increase in physical activity participation and further improvements in physical function.

    “Although the study included a small sample, the findings provide preliminary evidence that OA sufferers can obtain health-related benefits from the combination of glucosamine supplements and walking,” the authors conclude. “If the benefits of this program are confirmed, it could be promoted to increase physical activity among people with hip or knee OA.”

    Chris Morris, MD, a practicing rheumatologist at Arthritis Associates in Kingsport, Tennessee, commented on this study for Medscape Rheumatology, saying that it supports what many rheumatologists believe — that low- to no-impact exercise can make a difference in OA of the knee.

    Dr. Morris added that many patients have unrealistic expectations about the beneficial effects of exercise. “They expect immediacy in terms of results — they expect to be able to do everything they did 20 years (and often 50 pounds) earlier, and when their knees hurt, they just give up. Patients need to understand that they have to start out light and gradually work their way up — that any program takes time, and that they must commit to the activity long-term.”

    The study by the Australian researchers “provides yet another study to help support the viewpoint that exercise can help arthritic symptoms and the patient’s well-being,” Dr. Morris said. “I encourage my patients to exercise and have recommended walking to those who do not have the resources or access to health clubs, wellness centers, water exercise programs. Most people live reasonably near an enclosed shopping mall, many of which are carpeted, and most of which open their doors early for walkers.”

    Concerning glucosamine and/or chondroitin for osteoarthritis, here are the recommendations to physicians from the Doctors of Pharmacology at the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database:

    • If recommending a product, suggest glucosamine SULFATE; Glucosamine Hydrochloride products might also help, but the best evidence is for glucosamine SULFATE, particularly a specific product called Dona (Rotta Pharmaceuticals, Italy).
    • Recommend a dose of 1500 mg once daily; however if this dose is not tolerated, suggest switching to 500 mg three times daily.
    • Chondroitin sulfate appears to be effective for osteoarthritis when combined with conventional treatments; however, there is more and better evidence for glucosamine SULFATE.
    • Combination products of glucosamine plus chondroitin are probably effective, but there is no reliable evidence that the combination is better than treatment with just glucosamine SULFATE.

    Acupuncture may provide some relief from depression during pregnancy

    The New York Times reported in “Vital Signs” that, according to a new study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, “acupuncture may provide some relief” from depression “during pregnancy.”

    In an eight-week study of “150 depressed women who were 12 to 30 weeks pregnant,” 52 of whom were randomized “to receive acupuncture specifically designed for depressive symptoms, 49 to regular acupuncture, and 49 to Swedish massage,” Stanford researchers found that nearly “two-thirds of the women who had depression-specific acupuncture experienced a reduction in at least 50 percent of their symptoms, compared with just under half of the women treated with either massage or regular acupuncture.”

    This might be an option many women would be interested as there are potential risks of using systemic medications (whether prescription, OTC, herbal, or supplements) during pregnancy.

    TENS judged to be ineffective for low-back pain

    Lots of us doctors, and many physical therapists, utilize TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) for low back pain. Now a Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that, according to new guidelines published online in the journal Neurology, the “popular pain therapy using a portable device called TENS should not be used to treat chronic low-back pain.” Wow, this will be a change for many of us.

    After reviewing studies and medical literature, researchers from the Kansas University Medical Center said that “the therapy is ineffective for low-back pain.”

    HealthDay reported, “An exception was diabetic nerve pain, also known as diabetic neuropathy, which can cause symmetrical numbness, decreased sensation, and a feeling of burning, usually involving the legs, but sometimes affecting the hands.”

    Study lead author Richard M. Dubinsky, MD, MPH, FAAN, “chair of practice improvement for the” American Academy of Neurology (AAN), said “there is good evidence that TENS is effective in this condition, which develops in about 60 percent of people with diabetes.”

    WebMD explained that TENS, which “is a pocket-sized, battery-operated device that sends electric currents to the nerves via electrodes with the goal of treating pain,” has been “used for pain relief for four decades.”

    But, after reviewing five “TENS studies involving patients with chronic low back pain lasting three months or longer,” AAN investigators found that while some “studies did show a benefit for TENS, the two most rigorously designed and executed trials reviewed by the researchers did not.”

    Well, I guess TENS is now out of my tool bag for low-back pain.

    Organic: What it actually means on different products

    You see the word ‘organic’ more and more. But what does it actually say about what it’s on? Some consumers are more than willing to pay higher prices for organically grown food and other products. But is the extra dollar worth it? The answer may depend upon personal priorities. Here are tips for fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat, cosmetics, processed foods and cotton and coffee from a great report in the LA Times:

    By definition, organically grown foods are produced without most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge. Livestock aren’t given antibiotics or growth hormones. And organic farmers emphasize renewable resources and conservation of soil and water.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the National Organic Program, says organic is a “production philosophy,” adding that an organic label does not imply a product is superior. Moreover, some nutrition experts say, there’s no need to eat organic to be healthy: Simply choose less processed food and more fruits and vegetables.

    To compare the nutrient density of organically and conventionally grown grapes, researchers would have to have matched pairs of fields, including using the same soil, the same irrigation system, the same level of nitrogen fertilizer and the same stage of ripeness at harvest, acknowledged Charles Benbrook, chief scientist at the Organic Center, a pro-organics research institution.

    Last summer, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a comprehensive review concluding that organic and conventional food had comparable nutrient levels.

    The study outraged some members of the organic community, who criticized the study for not addressing pesticide residues, a major reason people choose organic. Nor did the study address the effect of farming practices on the environment and personal health.

    Maria Rodale, a third-generation advocate for organic farming, urges consumers to look beyond nutrition to the chemicals going into our soil, our food and our bodies. “What we do to our environment, we are also doing to ourselves,” said Rodale, chairwoman and chief executive of Rodale Inc., which publishes health and wellness content.

    So, here’s a closer look at some of the factors that may influence your decision whether to buy organic products.

    Fruits and vegetables

    Farmers using conventional practices treat crops with pesticides that protect them from mold, insects and disease but can leave residues. Organic fruits and vegetables have less pesticide residue and lower nitrate levels than do conventional fruits and vegetables, according to a 1996 scientific summary report by the Institute of Food Technologists.

    The bottom line: Pesticide residue poses little risk to most consumers, health experts say. But unborn babies and children are more vulnerable to the effects of synthetic chemicals, which can be toxic to the brain and nervous system, said Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

    The Environmental Working Group, a public health advocacy organization, recommends buying organically grown peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes and pears because conventionally grown versions are the most heavily sprayed. Onions, avocados, sweet corn and pineapples have some of the lowest levels of pesticides.

    As for nutrition, one French study found that, in some cases, organic plant products have more minerals such as iron and magnesium and more antioxidant polyphenols. But although mounting evidence suggests that soil rich in organic matter produces more nutritious food, “we are never going to be able to say organic is always more nutrient dense; that’s going beyond the science,” said Benbrook of the Organic Center.

    Dairy and meat

    Organic dairy and meat products come from animals not treated with antibiotics or genetically engineered bovine growth hormones, which are used to stop the spread of disease and to boost milk production. Past rules on “access to pasture” were vague and didn’t require that the animals actually venture into it. But a new regulation requires that animals graze for a minimum of 120 days. In addition, 30% of their dietary needs must come from pasture.

    The bottom line: The dairy cow’s diet is key. Organic milk has more vitamins, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid because the cows eat high levels of fresh grass, clover pasture and grass clover silage. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found organic milk can improve the quality of breast milk and may protect young children against asthma and eczema.

    Though the FDA says milk from cows treated with bovine growth hormone is safe and indistinguishable from other milk, consumers are spooked. Dean Foods, the nation’s largest dairy producer, no longer sells milk from those cows, and Kroger (which owns Ralphs), Wal-Mart, Costco, Starbucks, Dannon, Yoplait and several other companies have pledged not to use it.

    As with dairy, organic meat has higher levels of omega-3s because of the higher forage content in the animals’ diet. It also has lower fat overall than that from animals fed a high-corn diet, said Benbrook. Eating organic dairy or meat also can help with another issue: The use of antibiotics on farms has contributed to an increase in antibiotic-resistant genes in bacteria, say health and agriculture experts.

    “Pushing animals to grow really fast has a cascade of effects on the environment and the health of the animal,” said Benbrook. “We need to back off the accelerator and focus on the health of the plant, the health of the animal, as well as the nutrient composition of the food.”

    Cosmetics, personal care

    Chemicals in personal care products have been linked to both environmental pollution and human health concerns. Of particular concern are phthalates, which have been linked to endocrine disruption. Environmental concerns also are rising about the tiny nanoparticles now being added to cosmetics, sunscreens and other products. Notably, organic personal care products can be labeled “organic” but still contain synthetic ingredients.

    The bottom line: Of the 3,000 chemicals used in high volume in personal care products, only half have been put through basic toxicity testing, according to Landrigan.

    You may be paying more for “organic” products that aren’t actually organic; the USDA regulates organic personal care products only if they’re made of agricultural ingredients. Look for the USDA logo rather than the word “organic” on the label.

    Processed foods

    Many processed foods — pasta, candy, cookies, crackers, baby food — now come in organic versions. Products made from at least 95% organic ingredients can carry the “USDA Organic” seal if the remaining ingredients are approved for use in organic products. Products with at least 70% organic ingredients may label those on the ingredient list.

    The bottom line: Processed organic food hasn’t been shown to be any more nutritious than processed conventional food.

    In conventionally processed products such as baby food, pesticides aren’t commonly detected because the processing steps “are quite effective in breaking down trace residues of pesticides,” said food toxicologist Carl Winter, director of the Food Safe Program at UC Davis and co-author of the Institute of Food Technologists scientific summary.

    “Pesticides are rarely used on crops grown for baby foods since the ultimate appearance of the crop is less important due to the processing before the product is ultimately sold,” Winter said.

    Some consumers may decide to choose organic because those products are not supposed to contain genetically modified organisms.

    Cotton, coffee

    Cotton and coffee are two of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world. Pesticide residue has been detected in the cottonseed hull, a secondary crop sold as a food commodity, and conventional coffee production has contributed to the deforestation of the world’s rain forests.

    The bottom line: Pesticide residue is generally removed during the processing, but the chemicals can have a huge effect on the land, biodiversity and the health of the workers involved. Though buying organic can help preserve environmental health and support farmers who use ecological methods, “it’s more important to focus on the circumstances of growers and farms versus the product itself,” said food writer Corby Kummer, the author of “The Joy of Coffee.”

    Dealing With Those All-Too-Public Tantrums

    Parents often have a hard time figuring out what to do when their children decide to throw tantrums. It doesn’t help matters that kids often have their meltdowns in public places — the supermarket, the mall, the family restaurant. According to a report in HealthDay News, an expert is saying, “Don’t let glares, stares tempt you to give into your child’s meltdowns.” So, just what should you do?

    Chuck Smith, a Kansas State University child development expert, has compiled tips to help parents deal with out-of-control youngsters. Here’s his advice:

    • Set rules and enforce them. “Many parents are concerned with the glare of onlookers, so they’ll let their kids get away with things because of the threat,” Smith said in a news release. “You can’t let a child leverage your own sense of embarrassment in public to get what he or she wants. It’s not that you ignore the public, but you have to decide where your real priority is — and that is with teaching your child. You can’t ever lose focus on that.”
    • Make sure your rules are age-appropriate. A 5-year-old may have a hard time keeping quiet in church, so expecting her to do so may be unreasonable. But that same child should be able to keep her food in her mouth when you go out to eat.
    • Make sure you only discipline kids for breaking rules that they know about. Gently remind them by asking whether they remember what they’re supposed to do. “Then, when they look at you in a confused manner, you firmly remind them of the rule,” Smith said. “You don’t ever punish a child for something they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to do.”
    • It’s OK to ignore some types of behavior, such as pleading for a toy at the department store. “Any response to whining or crying, even punishment, shows that a child is in control and is pulling a parent’s strings,” Smith said. “The parent should rise above this noise and remain steadfast to the limit they set. You have to be smarter than the kid and realize that you are not going to be drawn into this. If you give in, you’re going to have lots of temper tantrums before they realize it doesn’t work.”

    Want more tips on raising a happy, well-behaved, and healthy youngster? You can learn more in my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen:

    • You can order an autographed copy of the book here.
    • See the Table of Contents here.
    • Read the Forward by Dr. Gary Chapman here.
    • Read the first chapter here.

    Also, I’m expecting the revision on my now sold-out book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child, to be out later this year. I’ll let you know when it comes out. Until it does, you can:

    • See the Table of Contents here.
    • Read the Forward by Dr. John Trent here.
    • Read the first chapter here.

    Doctors Say Schools May Be Spreading Misinformation About Homosexuality

    The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) is sending a letter to school superintendents asking that they not tell students who may experience same-sex attractions to simply accept that they are homosexual. And, the group has launched a new web site with material for educators and students on the topic.

    According to a report on CitizenLink, the letter cites studies that “demonstrate most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25.”

    The report says, “One such study shows as many as 26 percent of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation, yet only 2-3 percent of adults actually identify as homosexual. Therefore, the majority of sexually questioning youth ultimately adopt a heterosexual identity.  Many schools, however, tell such questioning students that they should embrace homosexuality and identify themselves as gay.”

    Tom Benton, president of the ACP, said even children with Gender Identity Disorder, will “typically lose this desire … if the behavior is not reinforced.”

    “It is clear that when well-intentioned but misinformed school personnel encourage students to ‘come out as gay’ and be ‘affirmed,'” he explained, “there is a serious risk of erroneously labeling students who may merely be experiencing transient sexual confusion and/or engaging in sexual experimentation. Premature labeling may then lead some adolescents into harmful homosexual behaviors that they otherwise would not pursue.”

    Joseph, founder of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, said that many studies show early intervention has an impact.

    “Once you discover it, there are things you can do to diminish those attractions and to develop your heterosexual potential,” he said.

    You can learn more about helping your teen prepare for puberty and sexual choices in my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen:

    • You can order an autographed copy of the book here.
    • See the Table of Contents here.
    • Read the Forward by Dr. Gary Chapman here.
    • Read the first chapter here.

    “Fat dissolving” spa treatments do no such thing

    So-called “fat dissolving treatments” offered by spas do NOT eliminate fat and the companies should stop saying so — at least according to a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA says the procedures are called by names such as lipodissolve, mesotherapy, lipozap, lipotherapy, or injection lipolysis — and all involve unproven injections. The AP reports that “the Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on what are billed as fat-melting injections used in spas across the US, saying the drugs” have not “been cleared by federal scientists, as required by law.”

    “We are concerned that these companies are misleading consumers,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “It is important for anyone who is considering this voluntary procedure to understand that the products used to perform lipodissolve procedures are not approved by the FDA for fat removal.”

    Reuters Health reports the agency issued warning letters to:

    • Monarch Medspa in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania;
    • Spa 35 in Boise, Idaho;
    • Medical Cosmetic Enhancements in Chevy Chase, Maryland;
    • Innovative Directions in Health of Edina, Minnesota;
    • PURE Med Spa in Boca Raton, Florida, and
    • All About You Med Spa in Madison, Indiana.

    The FDA also warned a Brazilian company that markets so-called lipodissolve products on two Web sites found here and here. “The FDA will notify regulatory authorities in Brazil of this action,” the FDA said in the statement.

    The Brazilian company and the six medical spas in the US have to provide a written response within 15 days with their action plan to correct the situation, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    The Philadelphia Inquirer explains that in these procedures “patients receive a series of injections meant to ‘dissolve and permanently remove small pockets of fat from various parts of the body,’ the FDA said. The primary ingredients are phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate, although vitamins and herbs may also be added.”

    The agency “has not evaluated the drugs and says it knows of no ‘credible scientific evidence’ that shows they eliminate fat.”

    Although no “definitive studies of side effects” have been reported, the risks of the injections “also aren’t understood,” the NPR “Shots” blog reported. Nevertheless, some patients have experienced “pain at the injection site, knots under the skin, and permanent scarring.”

    The CNN “Paging Dr. Gupta” blog reported that “the companies have been cited for a variety of regulatory violations, including making unsupported claims that the products have an outstanding safety record and are superior to other fat loss procedures, including liposuction.”

    According to HealthDay, “some of these companies have claimed that lipodissolve can treat certain medical conditions, such as male breast enlargement, benign fatty growths called lipomas, excess fat deposits, and surgical deformities.”

    WebMD reported the FDA has also “issued an import alert to prevent the importation and distribution of unapproved lipodissolve drug products into the United States.”

    MedPage Today reported that Kathleen Anderson, PharmD, of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, explained that if the companies’ response to the FDA’s letter is unsatisfactory, “they could face injunctions, seizure of the products, and civil or criminal action.”

    “The agency has issued an import alert against the zipmed.net and mesoone.com entities to prevent the importation and distribution of unapproved lipodissolve drug products into the United States.”

    In the meantime, it seems that it would be best not to waste your hard earned money on these procedures that have neither been shown to be effective or safe.