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

January 24, 2006 [Volume 7, Issue 3]

In this issue of To Your Health:

  • Increased Muscle Strength Reduces Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

  • More Reasons Not to Smoke During Pregnancy

  • A Little Bacteria May Be Good for You

Increased Muscle Strength Reduces Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

The benefits of exercise are well-known. In addition to increasing one's strength and endurance, exercise - specifically, resistance-type exercise - lowers the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and can help reduce body weight. A new study also suggests that increasing muscle strength with resistance exercises can lower a person's risk of developing metabolic

In the study, more than 3,200 men (ages 20 to 80) who did not have metabolic syndrome had their fitness levels measured using leg-press, bench-press and treadmill tests. Follow-up tests were conducted an average of 6.7 years after the initial series of tests. During the follow-up period, 480 men were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

Men who demonstrated the greatest muscle strength were much less likely to be at risk of developing metabolic syndrome than men with the lowest muscle strength. Overall body weight did not appear to be a contributing factor, as men with a normal body mass index were 44 percent less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, and men considered overweight or obese were 39 percent less likely to be at risk.

Exercise plans come in all shapes and sizes. Some are designed primarily to increase muscle mass; others improve overall muscle tone; and still others target weight loss and reductions in body fat. If you are interested in improving your fitness levels, talk with your doctor of chiropractic about designing an exercise program that's right for you.

Jurca R, Lamonte MJ, Barlow CE, et al. Association of muscular strength with incidence of metabolic syndrome in men. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, November 2005;37(11):1849-1855.

More Reasons Not to Smoke During Pregnancy

For decades, women have been cautioned not to smoke while pregnant. Not only is smoking unhealthy for an expectant mother, it can cause a variety of problems for her developing child, ranging from low birth weight to asthma, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. New research has shown that smoking during pregnancy can cause severe physical deformities as well, and that the more a woman smokes while pregnant, the more likely she is to give birth to a child with excess, webbed or missing fingers and toes.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers examined the records of more than 6.8 million live births in the United States during 2001 and 2002. They found 5,171 children who were born with some type of digital anomaly, such as excess toes or webbed fingers, in which the mother smoked during pregnancy but did not suffer from other medical complications. When compared to a control group of normal births, the study authors found that pregnant women who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes per day increased the risk of having a child born with a toe or finger deformity by 29 percent. Smoking 11 to 20 cigarettes per day increased the risk 38 percent; smoking 21 or more cigarettes per day increased the risk 78 percent.

The sooner a mother stops smoking during her pregnancy, the better it will be for both her and her baby. If you currently smoke, it's not too late to talk to your doctor about ways to quit - or at least cut down - smoking while pregnant.

Man LX, Chang B. Maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of having a child with a congenital digital anomaly. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, January 2006;117(1):301-308.

A Little Bacteria May Be Good for You

According to the National Institutes of Health, respiratory infections (such as the common cold) and gastrointestinal problems are two of the leading causes of workplace absence. Shift workers appear to be more susceptible to these types of illnesses than other workers. Finding ways to improve the health of shift workers can not only increase productivity in the workplace, but save billions of dollars each year in terms of time missed from work and other costs.

In this randomized, controlled trial, 262 shift workers at a packaging company were assigned to take a drink containing Lactobacillus reuteri, a type of probiotic known to boost immune system function, or a placebo drink every day for 80 days. A total of 181 workers completed the study.

More than 26 percent of the workers taking the placebo drink took sick leave during the course of the study, compared to just 11 percent of workers taking the probiotic drink. The probiotic appeared even more effective in employees who worked the night shift; no night-shift workers taking the probiotic drink called in sick during the study, compared to 33 percent of those given the placebo.

While Lactobacillus reuteri occurs naturally in the body, it is also available as a dietary supplement, either alone or in combination with other friendly bacteria. If you frequently suffer from colds and other ailments, talk to your doctor of chiropractic about how you can incorporate L. reuteri and other foods that help your immune system function better into your diet.

Tubelius P, Stan V, Zachrisson A. Increasing work-place healthiness with the probiotic lactobacillus reuteri: a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Environmental Health, November 2005;4(25).