Daily Archives: November 19, 2010

Patients use prayer as part of healing process

The Chicago Tribune reports, “The relationship between prayer and physical healing has long been the subject of conflicting studies. Some indicate prayer can help, but at least one study concluded that in some cases it can be harmful.”

Researchers “found that coronary bypass patients who were told strangers were praying for them did worse than those who got no prayers.” But, “increasingly … prayers are being offered by chaplains, doctors, nurses, and social workers. They are recited in hospitals before and after surgery, during treatments, upon admission and discharge, and on the anniversary of a diagnosis.”

Despite this one negative study, there are not “some” studies showing prayer can help, but hundreds of studies showing a positive association between a wide variety of spiritual interventions (spiritual assessment, prayer, spiritual counseling, etc.) and physical and emotional health outcomes.

You can read more on this topic in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. You can order a signed copy here. You can also read some of my blogs on Faith-Based Health and Healing:

You can read more on this topic in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. You can find it here.
Also, citations to all of the studies quoted in this blog are found in the book.
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Additional Blogs on Faith-Based Health and Healing:
Part 1 – What does the Bible say about health?
Part 2 – What Value Should We Place on Our Health?
Part 3 – Devout Faith Helps but Does Not Guarantee Good Health
Part 4 – Can Faith be Unhealthy?
Part 5 – What Causes Sickness?
Part 6 – Why God’s Response Isn’t Always to Heal
Part 7 – Not All Healing is From God
Part 8 – Illegitimate Spiritual Practices
Part 9 – Life Energy and Medical Magic
Part 10 – Medical Characters Condemned for Pursuing Certain Forms of Healing
Part 11 – Look to the Bible, Not Inner Voices, for Guidance
Part 12 – Biblical Principles on Which to Base Medical Decisions and The Power of Faith

Most Doctors Don’t Follow Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines

Most doctors (81 percent) fall short when it comes to comparing what they do for colon cancer screening with what they should be doing. And, we docs fall off both sides of the balance beam, either ordering tests too frequently or too seldom. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

Only one in five doctors in the United States follows all the recommended colon cancer screening guidelines, a new report finds. Some 40 percent of doctors follow guidelines for some tests, while the remaining 40 percent don’t follow guidelines for any colon cancer screens, the researchers said.

“There’s more work to be done to understand how to improve colorectal cancer screening,” concluded lead researcher Robin Yabroff, an epidemiologist at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Most doctors also don’t adhere to guideline recommendations about when people should start screening and how often they should be screened, she added. The report is published in the online edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In the study, the researchers looked at the recommendations for various tests to find colon cancer, including colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test (stool-based testing) and double-contrast barium enema.

For the study, Yabroff’s team questioned almost 1,300 doctors who participated in a National Cancer Institute survey. The researchers compared the survey answers against expert guidelines for the various screening tests.

They found that while most doctors correctly recommended beginning screening for adults at average risk for colon cancer at age 50, and correctly recommended how often screening was needed, only 19 percent followed the guidelines for the different types of tests they recommended.

Doctors who followed screening guidelines tended to be younger and board-certified, Yabroff’s group noted.

In addition, they were more likely to use electronic medical records and take patient preferences into account. They were also likely to be influenced by the clinical evidence behind the screening guidelines, the researchers found.

Moreover, many doctors either overused or underused certain tests, Yabroff’s team found. For example, colonoscopy was the test many doctors recommended more frequently than the guidelines called for.

Colonoscopy is the most expensive screening test and the most commonly recommended, the researchers found. They note that overuse of screening can result in unnecessary follow-up testing and an increased risk of complications.

On the other hand, some doctors recommended starting colon cancer screening in patients older than age 50, or at intervals that are less frequent than guidelines recommend. Underuse of screening can result in fewer cancers being found at an early stage when they are more likely to respond to treatment, Yabroff’s group says.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Durado Brooks, director of colorectal cancer at the American Cancer Society, said that “the good news is that most of these physicians do recommend colorectal cancer screening. The concern is how inexact their recommendations are.”

Brooks noted that the knowledge gap around the guidelines is occurring mostly in older doctors. They often continue to practice as they have since they were trained and aren’t keeping up with the latest recommendations, he said.

“We need to figure out how to disseminate that information effectively to people once they have been out in practice,” he said. But as the number of doctors using electronic health records increases, adherence to guidelines will also increase, Brooks believes.

Patients also have a role to play in cancer screening, Brooks said.

  • First, they should be aware of the need for screening and
  • Second, they should know which tests are available, when screening should start, and how often it’s needed, he said.

“As much as we can get people to take responsibility for their personal health and the health of their family members, the greater the likelihood that care can be given appropriately,” Brooks said.

What the Experts Recommend on Colon Cancer Screening

Here are the American Cancer Society’s current guidelines on checking for colorectal cancer and polyps (often precursors to cancer). Starting at age 50, men and women should follow one of these testing schedules:

To detect both polyps and cancer (preferred) :

  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or a colonoscopy every 10 years (sigmoidoscopy examines the lower part of the colon, colonoscopy is more extensive)
  • double-contrast barium enema once every five years
  • or CT (“virtual”) colonoscopy once every five years

To primarily detect a cancer:

  • Fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
  • Stool DNA test (SDNA), interval as yet uncertain

Some people may require a different screening schedule due to personal or family history; the cancer society recommends that you talk with your doctor to determine which schedule is best for you.

For more information on colon cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute here.

Abortion Boosts Breast Cancer Risk 193%: Study

Researchers in Iran have published the results of a new study showing women who have an abortion face a 193% increased risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, women who carry a pregnancy to term find a lowered breast cancer risk compared with women who have never been pregnant. Here are the details in a report from LifeNews.com:

The study follows on the heels of new reports indicating Komen for the Cure gave $7.5 million to the Planned Parenthood abortion business in 2009. The findings were reported in the journal Medical Oncology but are coming to the public’s attention only now.

Hajian-Tilaki K.O. and Kaveh-Ahangar T. from Babol University of Medical Sciences compared 100 cases of women who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer compared with 200 age-matched controls to review several reproductive factors.

The researchers discovered abortion significantly elevated breast cancer risks. Also, having a first pregnancy at an older age increases the breast cancer risk by 310 percent – which has implications for women who have relied on birth control and delayed a first pregnancy until later in life.

The Iranian scientists also confirmed what other studies have found, namely that increasing parity or the number of births reduces the breast cancer risk significantly.

Reporting on the study, the FoodConsumer web site indicated women with parity equal to or greater than 5 reduced their breast cancer risk by 91 percent compared with women who had never been pregnant and not given birth. Each additional birth also reduced the breast cancer risk by 50 percent.

The Iranian study came just before another research study conducted by scientists in Sri Lanka, which found women who had an abortion in the past were 242 percent more likely to contract breast cancer. That study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology and found a 3.42 odds ratio against women having abortions compared with those who kept their baby.

Abortion was the most significant factor in the study on breast cancer risk and researchers found a significantly reduced risk associated with prolonged duration of breastfeeding a newborn. Malintha De Silva and colleagues from the University of Colombo led the study.

Combined with the Iranian study and others from the U.S., China, and Turkeyfive studies in the last 18 months have shown abortion elevates breast cancer risk.

In the one from the United States, Louise Brinton, a NCI branch chief, served as co-author. She and her colleagues admitted that “… induced abortion and oral contraceptive use were associated with increased risk of breast cancer.” The authors cited a statistically significant 40% increased risk of breast cancer following an abortion.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for the NCI to keep its fingers and toes in the dike,” said Malec, “especially since many researchers in other parts of the world do not depend on the agency for grants.”

See related articles:

Devotional for Men – Healthy Through and Through – Part 3 – The Physical Wheel of Health

Here’s the third of an eight-part devotional for men based upon my chapter on health in Coach Joe Gibbs best-selling book, Gameplan for Life. The devotional was featured by the Men of Integrity ministry of Christianity Today. I hope you enjoy the series. Here’s Part 3 of 8:

THE PHYSICAL WHEEL

THE SERIES’ THEME: Healthy Through and Through. What does it mean to be a truly healthy man of God?

KEY BIBLE VERSE: You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. (1 Corinthians 6:19, CEV) Dig Deeper: Proverbs 3:7-8

When NASCAR racing teams prepare for a race, they put the cars through a series of tests to check out all the systems in these expensive machines. Such tests are designed to either prevent problems before they happen, or find them early, when they are far less expensive to fix.

Though the cost to build the best race cars is well into six figures—not to mention the millions of dollars it takes annually to staff and support a team—your body is far more valuable than any automobile. Why wouldn’t you want to treat it with just as much care and respect as NASCAR mechanics and technicians lavish on [their] cars? To take care of your “temple” means seeing a doctor regularly—not only in an emergency or when your wife begs you or when you’re forced to in order to buy an insurance policy.

When a disease or disorder proves incurable, physical health involves learning to cope and adapt. Can you see why the physical wheel may actually be the least important? With good emotional, relational, and spiritual health, a person can still be highly healthy, even though his or her body may not be “whole.”

MY RESPONSE: To do a better job at taking care of my physical health, I would be wise to make the following changes:

1)

2)

3)

PRAYER FOR THE SERIES: Dear Creator-God, show me what I need to do or change to be a truly healthy man of God; guide me as I strive to care for my physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health.

I have a free assessment tool that can help you evaluate your four wheels of health. You can take it now, or at the end of this devotional series. You can download it for free here.

You can learn also more about this principle in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. Autographed copies are available here.

10 E's

Here’s the entire series:

Adapted from Game Plan for Life (Tyndale, 2009) by permission. All rights reserved by the copyright holder and/or the publisher. May not be reproduced.