HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

October 2012

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UPDATE

Sleep Apnea Under-

Diagnosed in Women

As we learned in “Sweet, Slender Dreams” (June 2012 Malady Makeover), sleep apnea, a disorder marked by stoppages in nighttime breathing, can cause sleepiness during the day and make it difficult—if not impossible—to lose weight.

Scientists make the point that sleep apnea often goes undetected, especially among women.

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that up to 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Patients often wake up many times a night with no recollection of the awakenings the following day. This disorder has been linked to increased cardiovascular risk.

It is thought that men suffer more from sleep apnea. However, women with apnea often don’t have loud snoring, a prominent symptom. Instead, “they tend to report vague symptoms of not feeling well or having a sense of depression or anxiety,” says Joyce Walsleben, RN, PhD, former director of the New York University School of Medicine's Sleep Disorders Center at Bellevue Hospital. “It’s such a slow process that it can go on for years.”

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UPDATE

Outdoor Life Good for Teens

In “The Great Outdoors” (July/August 2012), we learned about activities such as geocaching that provide engaging alternatives to dull exercise routines.

A recent study in Pediatrics highlights the effects a life lived outdoors has on teenagers.

Researchers at Australia’s University of Sydney found that adolescents who spent more time outside were not only healthier but also happier than their more sedentary peers, who were more likely to report “feelings of loneliness or shyness.”

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UPDATE

Life Purpose May

Reduce Dementia Risk

As we learned in “The Road to Purpose” (January 2009), living a meaningful life has been linked to greater well-being.

A sense of purpose may also help protect against dementia. Scientists at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago analyzed autopsies of 246 people who had previously undergone brain tests; the rate of cognitive decline was 30% slower for those who had a stronger sense of life purpose. Results were reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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UPDATE

Scientists Map the Body’s Microbes

Our story “The Human Terrain” (July/August 2009) looked at the Human Microbiome Project, designed to explore interactions between the human body and the microbes that call it home.

The HMP continues to pay dividends. The latest findings, summarized in 14 studies appearing in two publications, show a microbiome that consists of 10,000 species and 8 million genes—as many as 10 microbial cells for every body cell.

The researchers found that each of the 240 volunteers carried different microbes; the team
theorizes that all people have unique “microbial signatures.”

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MEDIA

Natural Medicine, In Depth

As we learned last month in our look at the life and work of John Bastyr (Wellness Watch), naturopathic medicine went into eclipse in the middle of the 20th century only to experience a revival
in the 1970s and 80s. As part of this resurgence, many writers attempted to make the modality’s principles more accessible to the public. This effort included publication of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray, ND, and Joseph Pizzorno, ND, two notable names in the field. (Pizzorno, one of Bastyr’s students, was the founding president of Bastyr University.)

More than a million copies sold later, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine is now in its third edition (Atria). The first three parts present an introduction to natural medicine, the four cornerstones of good health—positive attitude, healthy lifestyle, healthy diet and appropriate supplementation—and information on special topics, such as stress management and immune system support. (For Murray’s advice on bolstering immune defenses against colds and flu, see this month's feature on Immunity.)

The heart of the book, though, lies in the fourth part, where detailed discussions of more than 80 health conditions are presented. Each includes causes, therapeutic considerations, a bullet-point
review and a treatment summary.

Murray and Pizzorno say their book is “based on firm scientific inquiry and represents an evidence-based approach to wellness.” Combining this white-coat approach with alternative medicine’s time-honored belief in the body’s power to heal itself helps explain The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine’s enduring appeal.

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Low D Levels Increase Mortality Risk

Older people who have low levels of vitamin D are at a 30% greater risk of dying than those who have higher levels, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Low D levels were found to be especially dangerous among the frail elderly, defined as people age 65 and older who suffer from functional impairments that hamper their ability to live independently. A study team led by researchers at Oregon State University arrived at these conclusions based on data taken from more than 4,300 adults as part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Another study has found a link between low vitamin D and reduced lung function in smokers.

Scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looked at data from 626 male participants in the ongoing Normative Aging Study. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, this study “suggests that vitamin D sufficiency may have a protective effect against the damaging effects of smoking on lung function.”

Vitamin D has also been linked with circulatory health, and a recent paper published in Dermato-Endocrinology suggests that low D may be a risk factor for erectile dysfunction. ED, which may affect as many as 30 million men in the US, is often caused by poor circulation.

The study from the Sunlight Institute in Saint George, Utah, cites previously published research showing vitamin D to play a crucial role in maintaining proper blood pressure and blood vessel function, and in reducing inflammation.

“If proven in further research, vitamin D optimization has the potential to influence the cause of ED,” says lead author and Sunlight Institute director Marc Sorenson.

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Wheat Germ Extract Shows

Promise Against Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is often deadly: Not only is it often discovered late, but it often becomes resistant to chemotherapy.

A study in the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer suggests that fermented wheat germ extract (FWGE) may help. Scientists added FWGE to ovarian cancer cell samples, both with and without the chemo agent cisplatin. The extract was able to make cisplatin more effective. What’s more, it had “significant antiproliferative effects” of its own, according to the study report.

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MEDIA

Mental Illness Awareness Week

October 7-13

THE IDEA: Raising public awareness of mental illness, which affects almost 58 million Americans in any given year

SPONSORED BY: National Alliance on Mental Illness

ACTIVITIES: NAMIWalks in locations throughout the US; other advocacy efforts through local NAMI affiliates

CONTACT: www.nami.org (type “awareness week 2012” in search box at upper right),
703-524-7600

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