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

June 14, 2005 [Volume 6, Issue 13]

And the Winner is...Chiropractic

You suffer from low back pain (LBP) and you'd like to seek a doctor's care, but you're not sure where to go. Consider this: A recent study compared the effectiveness of chiropractic care vs. medical management for LBP and found that chiropractic care had a higher success rate in treating LBP than did traditional medical care.

Researchers examined 2,870 adult patients with acute or chronic LBP from the practices of 51 chiropractic clinics and 14 general practice community clinics. At baseline and at various intervals over the next four years, patients rated the intensity of their current pain levels on a pain scale of 0-100 and completed a questionnaire designed to measure the effects of their pain on functional disability.

Results: The greatest degree of improvement was seen within three months of the initial treatment of back pain, with a "modest advantage" seen for chiropractic care over medical care of chronic pain patients in the first 12 months. At the one- and three-month intervals, "clinical importance" was achieved with chiropractic care administered to chronic LBP patients. Comparing chiropractic vs. medical care, the average difference in pain scores was 12.2 points at one month and 10.5 points at three months, favoring chiropractic care.

Still undecided? Chiropractic isn't just for back pain anymore. Regular chiropractic care has been shown to, among other things, relieve chronic headache and arthritis pain as well as relieve stress and promote general health.

Reference: Haas M, Goldberg B, Aickin M, et al. A practice-based study of patients with acute and chronic low back pain attending primary care and chiropractic physicians: two-week to 48-month follow-up. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2004;27:160-169.

Secondhand Smoke and Kids: A Bad Combination

The warnings have been clear. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence that secondhand smoke is detrimental to one's health, an estimated 40 percent of American children are still exposed to secondhand smoke in the home. Pediatric conditions linked with secondhand smoke include middle ear disease, sudden infant death syndrome, and a host of respiratory and behavioral problems.

Few studies have examined the effects of secondhand smoke on a child's cognitive abilities or whether exposure to secondhand smoke as a child can have along-term impact on intelligence. Researchers measured levels of cotinine, a derivative of nicotine, in the blood levels of 4,339 children, ages six to 16, and compared that information with the children's test scores on a series of math, reading and visuospatial exams.

Results: Serum cotinine levels were significantly higher among African American children than Hispanic or non-Hispanic white children. Children exposed to prenatal smoke and postnatal smoke, and children exposed to postnatal smoke alone, had higher cotinine levels than those exposed to prenatal smoke alone. Mean cotinine levels were significantly higher among children who had at least one smoker living in the home. The level of cotinine increased as the number of smokers in the house and the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day in the house increased. Children with the highest serum cotinine level received "significantly lower" performance scores on all four tests compared to children with the lowest cotinine level. Average math scores were 7.14 points lower in children with the highest concentrations of cotinine; reading scores were 7.54 points lower. Proportionally lower scores were also seen when evaluating block design and digit span tests.

So, do right by your kids! Keep them safe from the dangers of secondhand smoke for the good of their bodies and minds. And while you're at it, why not give up smoking altogether? You'll not only reap your own health benefits, you'll be around that much longer for your kids, too.

Reference: Yolton K, Dietrich K, Auinger P, et al. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and cognitive abilities among U.S. children and adolescents. Environmental Health Perspectives January 2005;113(1):98-103.

Eating a Mediterranean Diet May Increase Life Expectancy

It's no secret that a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fats has myriad health benefits. Conversely, numerous studies have reported the consequences of a poor diet, including obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, all of which can lead to early mortality.

Researchers examined the effects of a modified Mediterranean diet on elderly participants from nine European countries to determine its impact on longevity. A Mediterranean diet was characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables and unrefined whole grains; a moderate to high intake of fish; a low intake of saturated lipids, but a high intake of unsaturated lipids, namely olive oil; a low intake of meat; a low to modest intake of dairy products; and a modest intake of wine. Participants included 74,600 men and women, ages 60 or older, with no prior history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer. Dietary intake was assessed at baseline, as was additional data on lifestyle and health. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was measured using a 10-point scale, 0 being least, 9 being maximum adherence. Study participants were followed for approximately seven years.

Results found that mortality rates dropped 8 percent for each two-point adherence increase on the Mediterranean diet scale. A stronger rate of survival was found among participants in Greece and Spain, which the authors attributed to the fact that people in those countries already adhere to the Mediterranean diet as a part of their regular lifestyles. When the diet score was calibrated across the countries, the reduction in mortality was 7 percent.

Conclusion: "Adherence to a diet relying on plant foods and unsaturated lipids and that resembles the Mediterranean diet, may be particularly appropriate for elderly people, who represent a rapidly increasing group in Europe," the researchers wrote.

No matter what type of diet you settle on, remember that a healthy eating plan consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats, whole grains and a limited sugar intake.

Reference: Trichopoulou A, Orfanos P, Norat T, et al. Modified Mediterranean diet and survival: EPIC-elderly prospective cohort study. BMJ online. Apr 8, 2005; doi:10.1136/bmj.38415.644155.8F.