Yoga Can Help Keep Kids in School

August 27, 2013

GirlYogaAn excellent discussion below published in Forbes…given the increasing stressors kids face today, yoga exercises provide a form of movement that help kids to cope, focus and thrive.

 

In health,

Dr. Gina

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Forbes (forbes.com) – How Yoga Could Help Keep Kids In School – By Alice G. Walton

Scientific evidence is mounting daily for what many have long sensed: that practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help us address certain intractable individual and societal problems. Prominent companies – Google, General Mills, Target, Apple, Nike, AOL, and Procter & Gamble among them – and prominent individuals have already embraced this possibility. Tim Ryan, the Ohio congressman who wrote the book A Mindful Nation, has been a big proponent of bringing mindfulness to the masses. He, along with others, believes that mindfulness should be a part of everyone’s day, to help wire our brains to deal with our many modern stressors.

And, perhaps more importantly for our global health, for kids dealing with extreme stressors, traumas and abuse, putting these practices into schools could be the difference between failure and success.

Last month, a group of American and Canadian scholars, researchers, businesspeople, and yoga teachers came together for a weekend at Omega Institute to discuss how this group of practices that helps us self-regulate as individuals could, quite possibly, help us regulate on a society level. The issues the country is facing – the massive dropout rate of school kids, substance abuse among all age groups, PTSD among veterans, the staggeringly high incarceration and recidivism rates – cost the country volumes in human potential, not to mention trillions in dollars.


Mammography…A Perspective Worth Reviewing

August 26, 2013

mature_healthy_womanOur female patients over 40 often ask whether or not they should receive  mammograms.  It can be confusing for women to make a decision because the information available through their doctors and elsewhere is conflicting. Below is an article published by Dr. Johnnie Ham on  Mercola.com that discusses his research on the mammography industry…valuable information for women to consider when making their own decision on whether or not to receive routine “preventive” mammograms.

In health,

Dr. Gina

By Johnnie Ham, MD, MBA

Many women are completely unaware that the science backing the use of mammograms is sketchy at best. As was revealed in a 2011 meta-analysis by the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, mammography breast cancer screening led to 30 percent overdiagnosis and overtreatment, which equates to an absolute risk increase of 0.5 percent.

There’s also the risk of getting a false negative, meaning that a life-threatening cancer is missed.

Unfortunately, even though some high-profile people agree that mammography has limitations as well as dangers, others prefer to ignore the science and continue to campaign for annual screenings without so much as a hint at the risks involved.

Now, they’ve unrolled “new and improved” 3D TOMOSYNTHESIS mammogram, which still requiring mechanical compression, and delivers 30 percent more radiation!

In order to make better informed decisions, I provide my patients with all of their screening options, their strengths and weaknesses, and I reinforce that they have a right to utilize those options. Some of the options may include; self and clinical breast exams, thermography, ultrasound and/or MRI. My role as a doctor is to diagnose and treat, but I am also an educator. I want my patients’ focus to be on prevention to improve their health and well-being.

The Industry of Cancer

Breast cancer has become big business, starting with the multi-billion dollar goliath, mammography. No other medical screening has been as aggressively promoted. My passion is providing integrative primary care as an MD for hundreds of patients. I also have over 23 combined years of military experience as an OB/GYN, trauma surgeon, experimental test pilot, and master army aviator.

My training prepared me to navigate through challenging, and sometimes life threatening situations. Unfortunately, most women do not have the training I received, yet they could certainly use some of it to help navigate through the fear based methods of the breast cancer industry.

The tide of thought on mammography’s benefits is rapidly changing as evidenced by recently published studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine,1 the Lancet Review,2 the British Medical Journal3 and the Nordic Cochrane Center;4 and the fact that the US Preventative Services Task Force5 and the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care.6

Why are Nearly All Health Care Professionals Not Following Current Mammogram Recommendations?

Nearly every woman age 40 and older continues to be told by their primary care physician, their gynecologist, the media, self-proclaimed advocacy groups, and even their medical insurance carrier, “get your annual mammogram!” despite the fact that nearly every recent authoritative study concludes that women should know all of the facts before agreeing to a mammogram screening. Yet nearly all health care professionals insist on mammograms. If a woman dare refuse, she may be chastised or worse, threatened. These efforts have gone beyond persuasion to guilt and even coercion, “I can’t be your doctor if you don’t get a mammogram.” Women need to stop this runaway train, not only for their sake, but for the sake of their daughters.

In November 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Dr Archie Bleyer, MD from The Oregon Health Sciences Center, and his co-author, Dr H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., M.P.H., from Dartmouth, challenging the validity of mammogram screenings and concluded that mammograms have little to no influence in the reduction of the number of women who ultimately die of breast cancer.7

Thirty years of US government data studied found that as many as 1/3 of cancers detected by mammography may not have been life threatening, and that over 1 million women have been over-diagnosed; leading to unnecessary treatments involving disfiguring surgeries; radiation and chemotherapy. They also showed that mammogram screenings have increased from about 30 percent of women 40 and older in 1985, to about 70 percent of women screened, proving how effective we have been at convincing women they need to get a mammogram.

I have witnessed this strategy for decades and I have seen the profound psychological effect it has had on many of my patients. This paradigm has seriously misled women regarding the actual effectiveness, and the benefits vs. potential dangers of mammograms. They also have women confused about the erroneous belief that mammography is their only tool. Some women actually believe mammograms can prevent cancer, or do not realize they have the right to say, no!

Most women comply with the current “gold standard” in fear of the ravages of breast cancer, convinced their annual mammogram will save their life through early detection. It is nearly impossible for them to negate decades of slick marketing, annual reminders from radiology imaging centers and the exploitation of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month blitz. All of these efforts beautifully packaged, tied up with a pretty pink ribbon.

I take my oath to do no harm very seriously. After many years of research, clinical practice; and due to my wife’s personal experience with mammography, I cannot in good conscience recommend mammograms. I inform my patients that mammograms are considered the current “gold standard”, but I also make certain they know the facts about the screening and that there are other screen tools available.

Facts and Persisting Concerns: Mammograms

More women are refusing mammograms. This is reflected in the dramatic decline of 4.3 percent in 2010. Previously, mammography use had increased annually by 1 percent between 2005 and 2009. Mammograms:

  1. Are incorrect 80 percent of the time (providing a false negative or false positive)
  2. Require repeated ionized radiation that can cause cancer
  3. Use compression, which can damage breast tissue or potentially spread cancer
  4. Are not effective for up to 50 percent of women (women with dense breasts or implants)
  5. Can lead to over-diagnosis and over-treatment of non-invasive cancers
  6. Can lead to the disturbing practice of “preventative” double mastectomies

What is Mammography Industries Solution?

The “new and improved” 3D TOMOSYNTHESIS mammogram, still requiring mechanical compression, and 30 percent more radiation! We know all levels of ionizing radiation can cause cancer but, astonishingly, radiologists still want you to have your traditional mammogram screening first, followed by tomosynthesis mammogram for those with dense breasts or an area of suspicion. When my local Radiology Community approached me in an effort to disprove my concerns, I posed one simple question: Can you show me, one well-designed study that proves screening mammography has improved ultimate survival rates? I am still waiting for their answer.

We cannot prove that screening mammography improves the ultimate survival rate. A quick look at the SEER data would suggest treatment has improved, by a decline in the death rate since 1998 of 1.9 percent.8 For every 1,000 women in this country, today 125 will ultimately be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of those 125, over 40 will be over-diagnosed, and receive treatment they never needed, and suffer the potential psychological consequences of a cancer diagnosis. That leaves about 80, of which 28 will die of breast cancer. The decline since 1998 in the death rate means that for our 28 women who would have otherwise died from breast cancer, 2 more out of 1000 women diagnosed with breast cancer survived due to over a decade of treatment advances.

But, we really don’t know what actually saved those 2 women, of the 125 diagnosed with breast cancer for every 1,000 women in our group. If we attribute anything to lifestyle changes we have emphasized recently (which has been shown repeatedly to work), then either we wipe out any improved survival rate from decades of treatment advances, or worse, we cause death to some of those 40 women who were over-diagnosed!

If You Have Dense Breasts it is Even Worse

Breast density laws have now been passed in California,9 Connecticut, New York, Virginia and Texas making it mandatory for radiologists to inform their patients, who have dense breast tissue (40 to 50 percent of women) that mammograms are basically useless for them. Dense breast tissue and cancer both appear white on an X-ray, making it nearly impossible for a radiologist to detect cancer in these women. It’s like trying to find a snowflake in a blizzard. A law is now being considered at a Federal level as well.

Some radiologists already provide density information to their patients, and encourage them to utilize other options like thermography, ultrasound and/or MRI. I believe it reasonable for a woman to trust that her radiologist is not withholding vital density information. Unfortunately, many have kept this potentially lifesaving data from women for decades, and our government agencies have failed to protect them from this unethical practice.

I know it is extremely difficult to navigate through all of the contradicting information and study findings. It would better serve women if efforts, money and resources were utilized on educating women on cancer prevention, being that 95 percent of disease is lifestyle related. Yet 40,000 women continue to die of breast cancer each year. The only way to reduce this number is through utilizing preventative therapies.

Basic Cancer Prevention Strategies

As mentioned above, many women are completely unaware that the science backing the use of mammograms is sorely lacking, and that more women are being harmed by regular mammograms than are saved by them. Many also do not realize that the “new and improved” 3D tomosynthesis mammogram actually delivers even MORE ionizing radiation than the older version. This is not a step forward…

Please understand that there are other screening options, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and you have a right to utilize those options. Also remember that in order to truly avoid breast cancer, you need to focus your attention on prevention.

A few simple, yet great options to assist in your efforts to avoid breast cancer are: making sure you are getting enough vitamin D, K2 and iodine; that you utilize lymphatic massage; use stress management techniques, exercise often, and balance your hormones naturally. It is also wise to eat a Mediterranean diet consisting of organic foods. Avoid processed and GMO foods; and toxic environments.

In my practice, I recommend breast thermography, even for young women to get a baseline, but also combine the imaging not only with a review of the findings, but more importantly, as a venue to educate women on breast health. It is far more effective to prevent breast cancer, than it is to wait until it is there and then treat it. We are all different so make sure you consult with your doctor and do your own research before utilizing any of these suggestions.

The advice I give all of my patients is to be your own health advocate, do your own research and always ask questions before agreeing to any therapy or treatment, screening and/or procedure.

About the Author:

Dr. Johnnie Ham, MD, former Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army Medical Corps, is the Medical Director of Coastal Prestige Medical Services, Pismo Beach, CA. Coastal Prestige Physicians offer top-notch comprehensive healthcare, with an emphasis on evidence-based primary care and preventive health for all ages.


Ten Nutrition Changes Could Save 1 Million Children

June 25, 2013

istock_000005618515smallThis is a timely publication…the Lancet offers excellent guidelines on preventing disease in children with proper nutrition to the mother and to the baby.

AANP via The Lancet – Ten Nutrition Changes Could Save Lives Of A Million Children- (Monday, June 10, 2013)


Nearly 15 percent of all deaths in children under age five (a total of over 900,000) can be prevented, and over a fifth of all cases of growth stunting averted, if 10 nutrition interventions are scaled up to cover 90 percent of the population in the 34 countries most affected by malnutrition, according to a new study on maternal and childhood malnutrition.

More than half of this cost would be accounted for by India and Indonesia, both countries with sufficient financial resources to make a substantial contribution to the cost of stepping up the fight against malnutrition. The scientists estimate that prevalence of stunting in children under age 5 would be reduced by 20 percent.

The ten interventions include providing folic acid, calcium, and balanced energy protein and micronutrient supplements to pregnant women; promoting breastfeeding and delivering appropriate complementary feeding to infants; providing vitamin A and zinc supplements to children up to the age of five; and using proven treatment strategies to manage moderate and severe malnutrition in children. This study was released June 6, 2013 by The Lancet.

—In health,

Dr. Gina


Pesticide Exposure and Parkinson’s

May 29, 2013

A new study child_picking_strawberriesreveals that prolonged exposure to pesticides, bug and weed killers, and solvents  raise the risk for developing Parkinson’s disease.

Italian investigators who reviewed more than 100 prior studies found exposure to such agents boosted Parkinson’s disease risk by anywhere from 33 percent to 80 percent, they reported in the May 28 issue of the journal Neurology.

“Due to this association, there was also a link between farming or country living and developing Parkinson’s in some of the studies,” study leader Dr. Emanuele Cereda, of the IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, said in a journal news release.

Some studies specifically explored how home or work environment affected disease risk. Where individuals got their water also was the subject of some investigations.

Environmental toxins absolutely contribute to this disease and there are ways to test the blood and urine which we regularly do for our patients at HealthBridge to identify possible exposure and associated damage to neural tissue years before a disease like this has the opportunity to manifest.  We implement customized purification programs to assist in lowering the toxic burden and risk of disease.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Step #1: Exercise!

April 30, 2013

RunningNatureHere is a link to a great article highlighting the benefits of exercise, especially outdoor exercise,  as an inexpensive, readily accessible remedy for anxiety, insomnia, back pain, and more.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Warning for Parents: Toxic Lead Levels in Imported Rice

April 16, 2013

BoywithRiceCakeA new press release from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians reveals that rice not manufactured in the US has high levels of lead that are causing toxic reactions in children.

US companies must maintain strict quality control measures when importing foods and herbs from other countries. The study cited was just presented at the American Chemical Society’s meeting and is extremely concerning, especially because of the gluten free trend in children’s foods. Manufacturers are turning to rice based products as an alternative for wheat.

There was concern over high arsenic levels in rice in late 2012. For now, to be on the safe side, I recommend avoiding rice-based infant and children products altogether.  There are other options for grains if desired, that promote balanced nutritional health, such as quinoa.

In health,

Dr. Gina

TOXIC LEVELS OF LEAD COMMON IN IMPORTED RICE, RICE FLOUR: A new study has found that the rice imported into North America from Asia, Europe and South America contains very high levels of lead that represents serious health risks, particularly for infants and children, who are especially sensitive to its effects, and adults of Asian heritage who consume larger amounts of rice. (Rice and rice flour imports to the US have tripled since 1999 and rice is the staple food for 3 billion people worldwide. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys. It causes potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders in children.) The researchers found that for children, the daily exposure levels from eating the rice products imported from these countries would be 30 to 60 times higher than the FDA provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) levels; for adults, the daily exposure levels were 20 to 40 times higher than the PTTI levels. This study was presented in New Orleans at the meeting of the American Chemical Society. The full report will be available when it is published in a journal at a later time.


Yoga for Depression and Anxiety

April 15, 2013

Yoga Pic 2A new article in the Los Angeles Times helps to shed light on the value of yoga as part of a treatment plan for anxiety and depression.

In health,

Dr. Gina

Los Angeles Times (latimes.com) – Yoga Might Help Boost Mental Health – By Amber Dance – (Saturday, April 13, 2013)

As you stretch into warrior pose and inhale and exhale, you’re not just stretching those hamstrings and lungs; you’re also doing good for your brain with a practice that can stave off or relieve problems such as stress, depression and anxiety.

Yoga “gives some sense of sanity,” says Sat Bir Khalsa, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “You’re no longer washed away by the avalanche of your emotions. You are more in control.”
Yoga practice can also lower heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure, and may make people less sensitive to pain.

In some cases – particularly for anxiety, depression and stress – yoga might be more effective than medication, though this hasn’t been proved, says Dr. Murali Doraiswamy of the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. While it won’t get rid of whatever is causing you distress, it could make it easier for you to deal with the issues. Doraiswamy compares learning yoga to learning to surf: Once you’ve got the skills, you can ride the wave instead of drowning underneath it.


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