"If you aren't seeing a chiropractor, you must be on drugs."

August 9 , 2005 [Volume 6, Issue 17]

A Hot Way to Ease Low Back Pain

If you've ever had low back pain, you know that your doctor of chiropractic may try several different procedures to make you feel better. While some chiropractors may simply adjust your back, others may offer a variety of treatments ranging from heat to certain exercise routines. A recent study compared the effectiveness of these other treatments, and found that a combination of heat and exercise worked better than either therapy by itself.

Scientists examined 100 people with acute low back pain and randomized them into one of four groups. The first group wore a disposable low-level heat wrap eight hours per day for five consecutive days; the second group performed a series of flexion and extension exercises at various times for five days; the third group used a combination of exercise and heat wraps; and the final group received an educational booklet. At baseline and other intervals, the patients were examined to determine their functional ability, along with the intensity of their low back pain and any relief the therapies offered.

By the time the study concluded, patients who received the combination of heat and exercise showed significant improvements in function, disability and pain relief compared to the other groups. In some instances, the improvements were up to 175 percent greater; no adverse effects were reported among patients using the heat-exercise combination.

If you suffer from low back pain, talk to your doctor of chiropractic about what treatments may work best for you.

Mayer JM, Ralph L, Look M, et al. Treating acute low back pain with continuous low-level heat wrap therapy and/or exercise: a randomized controlled trial. The Spine Journal 2005;5:395-403.

Say Goodbye to PMS With Calcium and Vitamin D

It has been estimated that up to 20 percent of all women suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). While the symptoms of PMS may vary from person to person, they usually include conditions such as depression, irritability, cramping and headaches. Oftentimes, these conditions are severe enough to interfere with a woman's ability to function throughout the day. As a result, scientists have looked for various remedies that could reduce, or even prevent, many of the symptoms that occur with PMS.

In this study, researchers looked at the levels of calcium and vitamin D intake in a group of approximately 3,000 women, more than a third of whom had developed PMS over a 10-year period. Results showed that women who consumed the highest amounts of calcium were 20 percent less likely to have PMS than women who consumed the lowest amounts of calcium. In addition, women with the highest levels of vitamin D intake were 41 percent less likely to develop PMS compared to women taking the least amount of vitamin D.

Foods that contain substantial amounts of calcium and vitamin D include skim milk, low-fat milk, and some cheeses. Vitamin D and calcium are also available in supplement form. For more information on ways to increase levels of calcium and vitamin D in your diet, talk with your doctor.

Bertone-Johnson ER, Hankinson SE, Bendich A, et al. Calcium and vitamin D and risk of incident premenstrual syndrome. Archives of Internal Medicine 2005;165:1246-1252.

Red Meat, Fish and Cancer: What Are the Risks?

It's been well established that consuming large amounts of red meat may not be good for you. Less well-known, however, are the benefits that can come from consuming high quantities of fish. A new study of more than 478,000 people has revealed just what type of effects red meat consumption can have on the body - and how fish can help nullify those effects.

In the study, researchers examined the health records of people in 10 European countries. Among the items measured were daily intakes of red meat, processed meat, and fish. All of the people were free of cancer at the start of the study, but after approximately 5 years, over 1,300 people had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Results: People eating higher amounts of red or processed meat (160 or more grams per day) were significantly more likely to develop bowel cancer than those who ate lower amounts (less than 20 grams per day). Fish intake, on the other hand, seemed to have a protective effect; people who consumed more than 80 grams of fish per day were 31 percent less likely to develop colon cancer, compared to people who consumed less than 10 grams of fish daily. People who ate high amounts of fish and low amounts of red meat were also significantly less likely to have colorectal cancer than those who ate low amounts of fish and high amounts of red meat.

The message to take from this study? If you want to reduce your chances of getting colon cancer, reduce the amount of red meat you eat, and start eating more fish. Your doctor of chiropractic can develop a health plan that includes a healthy balance of fish and meat, along with fruits, vegetables, good sources of dietary fiber, and regular doses of exercise.

Norat T, Bingham S, Ferrari S, et al. Meat, fish, and colorectal cancer risk: The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 15, 2005;97(12):906-916.