Posts Tagged Health

Should You Ice Your Boo-Boo? More Studies Necessary, Says Meta-Analysis.


IMG_5789 (Photo credit: creativevictuals)

If you don’t care about the discussion, just skip down to the boo-boo in bold.

In my recent post about most scientific studies being wrong, I began questioning the very basis for evidence-based medicine.  How can we know what we know?  When we do a large scale human study, we have to trust the results.  We can’t run off to a lab and have them do it again.

So I thought a quick check into alternative medicine advances might be in order.  As expected, most studies are small and underfunded compared to the massive studies produced by drug companies.  And it is those massive  drug studies that are in question for their ability to give us truthful answers about what will work.  If they cannot be reproduced in a consistent manner, then what chance does alternative medicine have?

There is another avenue for medical knowledge, largely disregarded by current researchers but widely used by the public.  It is the school of what works.  One of the basics, something we are taught from the school yard, is that ice helps boo-boos.  In more medical terms, cryotherapy is largely regarded at efficacious for the treatment of minor acute trauma.  But is it true?

Do Boo-Boos Get Better With Ice? 


According to the Cochrane Meta-Analysis entitled:  Does Cryotherapy Improve Outcomes With Soft Tissue Injury? (free full article here) the researchers concluded:  “no authors have assessed the efficacy of ice in the treatment of muscle contusions or strains.”

That’s right, mothers across America.  You are applying ice to those boo-boos without a shred of scientific evidence that the ice is effective.

Until medical researchers address this ” large void in the literature,” you could be harming your child, or engaging in a worthless placebo effect.

Yes, icing has been shown to be effective after: “ligament repairs and knee and hip replacements. The results of these studies cannot be generalized to muscle strains and contusions.”

But ice works?  You’ve seen it work?  Mere anecdotal evidence.  Unreliable and prone to patient bias.  The researchers tenatively regarded ice as possibly helpful for pain, but concluded that: “Many more high-quality studies are required to create evidence-based guidelines on the use of cryotherapy.”

So until they do that, don’t waste your hard-earned health care dollars on ice cube trays and washcloths.

Let’s all wait until definitive studies conclude that ice does indeed help with boo-boos.  It may not happen anytime soon, because ice is not patentable (although you know they keep trying).  So we may need to create the “Boo-Boo Foundation” to fund ice research.  Get ready to march in “Stop the Boo-Boos” marches and send your dollars in.  Who knows?  In a few decades we might just be able to apply ice to those bumps with the knowledge that it actually works.

Or, if you’ve been following the discussion about studies, we might conclude that good-hearted researchers might want to spend a little less time in the lab and a little more time in the playground.   If they banged themselves on the monkey bars, they might just ask for a little ice.

Some things, because they work consistently and well, do not have research.  Giving a hug and a kiss are also tried-and-true, unscientific, aids for boo-boo relief.



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People With No Sense of Humor Can Prove Laughing Is Bad For You.


laughter (Photo credit: withrow)

In a bizarre twist, I was looking for information on the “Laughter Yoga” movement and happened upon presentation notes (click for link) from a couple who must have faces like lemon eaters and attitudes to match.

Before we enter into this couple’s work, let me say I just attended a Laughter Yoga workshop and you never hurt quite that much doing anything as laughing for fifteen minutes.  Afterward, I felt closer to the people around me and we had a wonderful conversation for several hours afterwards.  But evidently, it was all in my mind.

According to the “lemon-eaters,” I couldn’t possibly have felt better, I just thought I did.  “These results suggest that, although high humor individuals do not seem to have objectively better health, they are somewhat more subjectively satisfied with their health.”

I should cease and desist all laughter, because:

•Past research has shown that extraverted individuals, in comparison with introverts, are
–more likely to drink alcohol,
–more likely to smoke cigarettes,
–less likely to quit smoking,

and more likely to be obese.”

English: Contagious Laughter

English: Contagious Laughter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My goodness, it’s horrible, this laughter.  An addiction I tell you!  Quick, join the LA (Laughers anonymous).

But it’s also a terrible use of medical resources, didn’t you know?  “Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky has a player piano, humorous books, cartoon albums, and Nintendo game sets for patients and family members to use together.”

Dreadful, dreadful, all this family time and joyful material.  Don’t those parents know that laughter can make their children obese?  They should be very careful putting the material in a hospital, because:  “People have individualized senses of humor, and what makes one person laugh might annoy or insult someone else.”

But do not fear, the lemon eaters have already lost.  “Almost every major hospital in the United States now uses clowns, pets, clergy, and humor intervention as a regular part of their care systems.”  Really, I don’t recall clowns or dogs available in the local ER.

And what are we to make of the inclusion of “clergy” into the above statement.  Are religious ministers inherently funny?  I think adding in clergy gives the lemon eaters a much broader “threat” than if they just included hospitals that had clowns.  I think the clergy were there before the laughter movement took hold.  The tip off here is that the clergy are usually available for condolences for the grieving.  I have yet to see one with a red rubber nose and tiny bicycle peddling for the cancer wards.

So what are we to make of the lemon eaters?  Evidently someone needs a stooges film festival and a whoopie cushion, STAT!


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What To Feed Your Paleo, Vegan, Raw Food, Fruitarian, and Vegetarian Guests.

English: Alaska wild berries from the Innoko N...

English: Alaska wild berries from the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you’re having a get together.  And you lost your mind and invited all these different dieters.  Or maybe you got back your invitations and read with an ever sinking stomach:  “we’ve gone Paleo,”  or “we’ve decided animal flesh is immoral,” or even “I’m on a true raw kick.  Would it be alright if I brought steak tartare?”  So what can you give all these people as a host without permanently damaging your friendship?  Not to mention avoiding the problem of having your guests try to kill each other as one of the skirmishes of the diet wars.  What can you feed them?

Berries.  That’s right.  Lots of berries.  Tell everyone to bring their own dish of raw meat or whatever, but provide them with clean, washed berries of various sizes and assortments.  All of the diets eat berries, and I remember thinking that berries were where Dr. Robert Atkins and Dr. Dean Ornish finally met on a common ground.

I recently did another piece on Dr. Oz’s cancer fighting foods, and I was amazed that again, all your guests with cancer would do fine having berries.  They don’t need the Noni, Goji, Hippity-Hoppity berries either.  Your standard blue, black, straw, and raspberries will work just fine.

So bring out the berries and hide the steak knives.  Keep everyone focused on the game and away from the ins and outs of what they’re eating.  If they look around at everyone else chowing down, they might even realize we’re all one big dysfunctional family after all.  Or they’ll maintain the delusional that everyone else is a paleo-raw-forager like themselves.  Whatever avoids bloodshed.

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What Is Your Real Age? Dr. Oz Wants You To Change It.

English: Hair scissor for thinning hair Deutsc...

English: Hair scissor for thinning hair Deutsch: Modellierschere (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I took the Real Age test.  It’s available from Dr. Oz’s site.

If you want to know your real age, figure out what year you were born, and figure out what year it is.  Subtract the year you were born from this year, and you have a rough estimate of your real age.

If you want a medical gimmick for your real age, feel free to give a computer program your contact information, your birthdate, and an enormous amount of personal medical information highly tailored to your previous answers.  I knew I was in trouble when the computer asked me who had diagnosed my thinning hair and I checked self rather than saying a licensed professional had diagnosed it.

The problem with any sort of computer simulation is that it only asks questions about known or reasonable risk factors.  There should have been a great deal more on family history.  If you want to know how long you’ve got, look at when all your grandparents died.  Factor in whether they smoked like chimneys or drank like a waterfall, and you have a good idea of how long you’ll live.  Knowing that I’m officially RealAge 37.7 (I like the .7) isn’t much help if all my family kicked off in their early forties.

I had an irrational urge to cheat on the Real Age questions.  What if I claimed to be a svelte female me?  Would I live longer?  What if I claimed I smoked like a chimney?  Would that age me overnight?  What difference did it make that I checked thinning hair rather than the tempting “no illnesses.”  Why did they even ask about thinning hair?  Is it really an aging factor?  Did it age me because of the “thick haired men look younger” gene?

I think they should add a section to the Real Age answer sheet where they explain what the “right” answers would have been.  How are you supposed to improve your real age if you don’t have a clear picture of what you’re missing?  Oh, that’s right.  I’ll get pieces of my “right” answers in the mail, tailored to keeping me hooked on an endless supply of pamphlets and overpriced supplements.  Even as we speak, a pamphlet for thinning hair is winging its way through the internet ether to land with a solid thud at my email door.  Now that I’ve given my health information away, all I can expect is an endless parade of people who want to fix the boxes I checked.

So what’s my real age?  It’s not 37.7.  First I take the current year, then I deduct the year I was born…

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Vitamin D Keeps You Alive Longer If You Have Heart Trouble. Another Reason To Get Out In the Sun.


Vitamins! (Photo credit: bradley j)

In a study of patients scheduled for a coronary angiography (so we assume they all had heart ailments) the doctors checked their blood vitamin D levels.  They then followed the patients over almost eight years.  22% of the patients died, most from heart issues.

When the doctors looked at vitamin D levels, patients with the lowest amount died almost twice as often as those with the highest amount.  Even those patients who died of other causes died twice as often as those with the highest amounts of vitamin D.

What caused the difference?  Lower vitamin D led to higher inflammatory markers in the blood.

What does it matter to you and me?  Experts estimate that 50-60% of older populations of the world do not have enough vitamin D.

So get your D.  Not necessarily as a pill.  Twenty minutes of sunlight will give you plenty (and keep your dermatologist happy).  Here in Maine we get all our sun in the summer, so we need a bit more.  But just a bit.

But don’t believe me.  Here’s the link to the complete study and here’s the abstract below.

Independent Association of Low Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D Levels With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality

Harald Dobnig, MD; Stefan Pilz, MD; Hubert Scharnagl, PhD; Wilfried Renner, PhD; Ursula Seelhorst, MA; Britta Wellnitz, LLD; Jürgen Kinkeldei, DEng; Bernhard O. Boehm, MD; Gisela Weihrauch, MSc; Winfried Maerz, MD

Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(12):1340-1349.

Background  In cross-sectional studies, low serum levelsof 25-hydroxyvitamin D are associated with higher prevalenceof cardiovascular risk factors and disease. This study aimedto determine whether endogenous 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitaminD levels are related to all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

Methods Prospective cohort study of 3258 consecutive maleand female patients (mean [SD] age, 62 [10] years) scheduledfor coronary angiography at a single tertiary center. We formedquartiles according to 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitaminD levels within each month of blood drawings. The main outcomemeasures were all-cause and cardiovascular deaths.

Results  During a median follow-up period of 7.7 years,737 patients (22.6%) died, including 463 deaths from cardiovascularcauses. Multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for patientsin the lower two 25-hydroxyvitamin D quartiles (median, 7.6and 13.3 ng/mL [to convert 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels to nanomolesper liter, multiply by 2.496]) were higher for all-cause mortality(HR, 2.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.60-2.70; and HR,1.53; 95% CI, 1.17-2.01; respectively) and for cardiovascularmortality (HR, 2.22; 95% CI, 1.57-3.13; and HR, 1.82; 95% CI,1.29-2.58; respectively) compared with patients in the highest25-hydroxyvitamin D quartile (median, 28.4 ng/mL). Similar resultswere obtained for patients in the lowest 1,25-dihydroxyvitaminD quartile. These effects were independent of coronary arterydisease, physical activity level, Charlson Comorbidity Index,variables of mineral metabolism, and New York Heart Associationfunctional class. Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were significantlycorrelated with variables of inflammation (C-reactive proteinand interleukin 6 levels), oxidative burden (serum phospholipidand glutathione levels), and cell adhesion (vascular cell adhesionmolecule 1 and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 levels).

Conclusions  Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitaminD levels are independently associated with all-cause and cardiovascularmortality. A causal relationship has yet to be proved by intervention trials using vitamin D.



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Dr. Oz And the Thirty Day Flat Belly Diet. Just Add Hot Coals.

Sweet potatoes, 12-27-08

Sweet potatoes, 12-27-08 (Photo credit: polkadotpup)

Dr. Oz is promoting a thirty-day flat belly diet.  “In only 30 days, you can have the flat belly you’ve always dreamed of! That’s the promise made by Brett Hoebel, a weight-loss guru who’s designed a miracle formula for flat abs.”

Doesn’t it sound like every infomercial you’ve ever heard?  With before and after photos of ex-models who’ve gained  a few pounds and worked them off in thirty days?  So now it works for everyone!  You, yes you mr. oxygen dependent emphysema patient, can get a flat belly in thirty days!  And you, lady who now weighs a thousand pounds because she’s trying to win some personal record, drop all that weight in thirty days!  Not gonna happen.

So let’s change it to “healthy people being slightly healthier in thirty days.”  Less catchy, but attainable.

Next we have the shopping list, which looks like the shopping list for every New York model.  If you eat only these foods, you will definitely be dropping weight.

Shopping List


  1. Chicken
  2. Turkey
  3. Eggs

Complex Carbs

  1. Sweet Potato
  2. Brown Rice Cakes
  3. Oatmeal
  4. Leafy Greens (broccoli, spinach, asparagus, lettuce, kale, chard etc.)

Simple Carbs

  1. Apples
  2. Berries


  1. Raw Nuts & Nut Butter (almonds, cashews, walnuts, almond butter, peanut butter)

Bonus Food: Beans. Legumes are a great source of protein, carbs, good fats and fiber.

Then we start the day with an anti-bloat smoothie.  But look at the ingredients.  My shopping list didn’t include my fresh mint garnish!  And my probiotic straws, where are my probiotic straws!  (Oh, for crying out loud.  Dip a regular straw in yogurt and call it probiotic.)

The meals are all from the “starve-u-R-us” recipe book.  Try adding a bit of cinnamon to your one sweet potato.  You might just forget you’re starving.  But what is this?  I need ten grams of glutamine and not just CLA but Tonalin CLA?  Doggone it, now I’ve got to hit the all-night GNC to get my fat burning supplements.

And exercise?  Where’s that component?  Oh, I can do the five-minute fat burning workout three times a week and that will cover me.  Of course, if that’s all I do, I’ll end up tearing something or hurting something by week two, but never mind that.  Jump and dance.

The only way this plan will give you a flat belly in thirty days is to heat it up, with my new Hot Coals Oompa Loompa! (patent pending).  Do all of the above, but add a ten-by ten foot bed of hot coals (recycled food logs from fair marketed renewable crops).  Every day, twice a day, spend ten minutes on a bed of hot coals.  There’s no instructional tape.  You just do what comes naturally on a bed of hot coals, and watch those pounds literally melt away!


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2nd Heart Attack Grill Victim? Woman Collapses While Eating Burger | Reuters

Supersize Me !! -- The bypass burger strikes a...

Supersize Me !! -- The bypass burger strikes again! ... Heart Attack Grill -- 23 April 2012 (Las Vegas) .. (Photo credit: marsmet491)

2nd Heart Attack Grill Victim? Woman Collapses While Eating Burger | Reuters.

Another victim of the Heart Attack Grill.  Further down the street, at the “STD Bar,” three dozen patrons frolicked and contracted things from each other.  Is it any wonder we have the highest health care bills in the world?

I heard today that New Zealand is considering raising the price of a pack of cigarettes to a hundred dollars.  What would you pay for your vices?

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