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Posts from the ‘prevention’ Category

Healthy lifestyle habits that put you at risk for undesirable side effects

We live in a global environment: any news flies around the planet in seconds and that includes fake promises, expectations and lies about healing miracles. It is quite difficult to distinguish between scientifically proven truth and assumptions on which many potential cures are based.

Why does that happen? We have to understand that in nowadays profit-taking world it is not consumers’ health that always comes first. While many companies which intend to manufacture health promoting products start out honestly, there are also very many companies that use the consumers’ trust in miracles in their favor. TV and media advertising do not promote only good and well-tested products: they will advertise anything that looks like it might be true and brings in money.

Considering the epidemic obesity rates, which include early childhood and young age obesity, abnormally high numbers of patients with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular, as well as heart diseases, not to mention cancer epidemics, people need something promising. TV, phone, laptop and computer screens scream to us: vitamins and supplements are the answer!

This era is also characterized by extreme efforts trying to maintain youthful look and energy, as well as live and stay active longer. There was no long-term research present when the first statements about the beneficial use of synthetic vitamins and supplements as our daily routine were made publicly available. Since the naturally occurring vitamins, amino acids and minerals played such an important role in functioning of our body and mind, it was simply believed that more of these nutrients are better. It was believed that the source of these nutrients was not the most important aspect.

adjustment-and-vitamins-017

For how many decades now have you heard from your doctor: just take some multivitamins, use omega-3 or fish oils, don’t forget vitamin C and E; obviously we all suffer from lack of vitamin D and calcium, so these should not be forgotten either? That has become such an indisputable healthy life-style feature that you will find hardly any person in the developed countries who hasn’t been on lots of vitamins and supplements at some moment of their life.

The CONCERN ABOUT OVERUSE OF SYNTHETIC VITAMINS and SUPPLEMENTS is growing with every new clinical trial that has been carried out to observe whether there are any significant benefits from such synthetic supplement use. The findings are shocking at some point. While almost everybody knows by now that multivitamin use did not result in any health benefits, not everybody is still aware that over-the-counter supplements do not do what they are supposed to, as well.

Millions of people reach every day for their calcium or vitamin D3 pill, or combination thereof.  Here is a quote from Science Daily (summary of a clinical trial): “Taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears be protective, say researchers at conclusion of their study that analyzed 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people.”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161011182621.htm

Almost everybody over 50 believes that taking calcium supplements will aid in avoiding bone fractures and loss of bone mass and its mineral density: osteoporosis. That is not the only review; there are quite a few clinical trial conclusions that state the same: calcium in the form of a synthetic supplement does not provide with the same effects as consumption of dietary calcium, calcium naturally occurring in food products.

Meticulous testing showed that most of calcium taken as supplements did not even get to the bones: it was partially excreted with urine (hypercalciuria was quite common among calcium supplement users) and also calcium spikes were observed which does not happen with calcium-rich food intake. Judging by tests which showed no improvement with bone density, researchers believe that the other part of synthetic calcium dose is absorbed by soft tissue which explains arterial plagues and calcification of arteries. Calcium spikes were also responsible for heart conditions. Strokes and coronary artery blockages occurred much more frequently in those taking high doses of synthetic calcium supplements. Moreover, there was not observed decrease in fractures or osteoporosis.

Journal of the American Heart Association  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161011182621.htm

Quote: “Because of the widespread awareness and treatment of osteoporosis with calcium supplements among older adults, this population would appear to be at greater risk of developing the adverse consequences of positive calcium balance, including vascular calcification.”

 “Calcium may be involved in pathogenesis of CVD (cardiovascular diseases) through multiple pathways, including through influences in lipid metabolism, insulin secretion and sensitivity, inflammation, thrombosis, regulation of body weight, and vascular calcification.”

The same goes for so much widely popularized omega-3 or healthy fatty acids. The evidence from many clinical trials exploring different conditions, such as omega-3 effects on cardiovascular and heart diseases, strokes and heart attacks, impact on brain function and delays of age-related dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and quite a few others, is very unconvincing. The widespread assumption that fatty acids may help delaying onset of some heart conditions, eye degeneration, brain malfunction and prevent cancers has no strong scientific evidence. It was noted that people who lived far north and consumed mostly fish suffered less from the above mentioned conditions. It wasn’t taken into account that their physical loads may be way different or their environment might be almost pollution-free. Therefore, it was soon assumed (and that was based on the facts that human body does not produce omega-3 fatty acids, therefore they have to be consumed) that synthetically processed omega-3 might contribute to higher levels of absorbed omega-3 fatty acids. We know by now that more is not better. MORE SUPPLEMENTS that exceed the daily allowance for such doses can cause significant health risks. Omega-3 fatty acids interact with medications, as well. If you are taking fish oil, especially fish liver oil, vitamin D and vitamin E, you are at significantly higher risk for bleeding. When all these supplements are combined with blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) that many people take to prevent thrombosis or heart attacks, the outcome might be seriously bad because the blood clotting will be significantly affected.

None of the previously carried out clinical trials about benefits of supplemented omega-3 use has provided with statistically significant proof that such use is beneficial for any of these conditions, but healthy life style and consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from clean food sources is. Therefore, it is much more advisable to eat good food and stay away from supplements, unless your doctor has prescribed them. That might be a drug form that is different from the over-the-counter form and, therefore, it might work for you. Uncontrolled use of any kind of supplements when somebody is already on prescription medications can be DANGEROUS  and it CAN AFFECT THE WAY YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION WORKS. Always consult a doctor, assuming your doctor is aware of the newest scientific discoveries and follows up on developments in the area of synthetic vitamins and synthetic supplements.

US National Institute of Health publication https://nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3/introduction.htm

The truth is that synthetic supplements have a different chemical composition; it is not the same respective vitamin or mineral which we are absorbing from food. Therefore, the metabolism pathways and the way this supplement or vitamin act and behave in the body are not completely known. It is also believed that vitamins and minerals from natural sources work the way they do because food usually contains a set or combination of minerals, amino acids and vitamins in their natural form which is recognized by the body; and this recognition is due to the program which is set by our very individual DNA.

Next articles will review the problems with synthetic antioxidants, vitamin E (the only synthetic form which is available at pharmacies: alpha-tocopherol), vitamin C and some other supplements. If you do not know where to look for supplement and vitamin recalls (there are quite a lot of them), google Health Canada and FDA websites. Such lists are publicly available.

 

 

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Preventable accidents and coincidences: a few hospital stories

If we knew where we fall, we would put down a pillow to save us.

Sometimes, the guardian angel does this for us: I mean these situations when somebody is very unlikely to make it, but they do.

Guardian angel

Painting by Murillo, public domain image

There are moments when we have done everything we could, but the disaster happens regardless of that because we are at a wrong place at a wrong time.

The sad consequences of life threatening accidents

I am a survivor of such an accident. I believe I survived due to my spiritual and mental strength, fighting power and love to life, but for the main part: due to the knowledge and devotion of the treating physician. There was 24/7 monitoring and all 9 surgeries went well.

One is never completely new after being fixed. Whatever our injuries, they leave after-effects, and they can be devastating. Chronic pain and anxiety are just one side of such post-accident experiences.

However, it is not that we cannot prevent the regular daily troubles by putting down such a pillow: preventing accidents, injuries and diseases from happening.

The unforgiving negligence

The reality is such that if there is chance for something bad to happen it most likely will. Placing hot items on the edge of any surface is lack of caution; that refers to hot coffee cups and other dishes with boiling hot liquids. Leaving harmful liquids in inappropriate containers or easy to access places is dangerous. I witnessed while practicing at hospital how a man had gotten major stomach injuries because he had been preparing pickled fish and also was having a glass of drink at the same time. He accidentally drank the highly concentrated vinegar by taking a big mouthful from the glass. Kids use to grab anything and try its taste whenever something is available for them to reach: kids have been hospitalized with laundry soap intake, vinegar and alcohol intake, not to mention after eating a lot of strong medication. In those, cases prevention would have been easy: just do not leave anything out there and within their reach.

Drunk driving and aggressive behavior of addicted spouses and friends

The major and absolutely preventable accidents are caused by driving drunk or high. Human perception changes to abnormal extent under the influence of alcohol and substances that alter brain chemicals. It’s needless to say, nobody should ever do that, but we are witnessing this again and again, and there is no end of people who put their and other peoples’ lives at risk.

I spent almost a year in a hospital. I had quite a few fellow patients, and their stories were sad. A young woman across my bed was thrown out of window from the 5th floor by her husband. It’s hard to describe the feelings she was going through when she woke up after surgical treatments. Some accidents mean: the one who was super healthy, will be partly or completely immobilized for life and having major health consequences.  However, when I had already recovered to some extent, I went to see her, and guess what? She was back with her offensive, aggressive, drinking husband, and I could see they continued the same what had been the cause of her very long hospital stay. I asked her: why didn’t you go somewhere else? Anywhere? She said she couldn’t walk and there was no place for her to go or work and so she couldn’t support herself. Well, this wasn’t any better or easier.

The fact of the matter is that the aggressive behavior when it is caused by addiction to substances rarely changes. The only hope would be in case somebody gives this up completely. However, there is always a risk of relapse with such people.

I have seen and read a lot of stories how people can recover from addiction, but that happens only when that person genuinely wants it, is ready for it and can replace the addiction with something that fills up the emptiness which occurs after they have given up their terrible habit. Art groups, social clubs, interest groups, sports and church groups are very good thing to start with.

She needed a new face: victim of drunk driving

The other woman in my hospital room didn’t have her real face any more. She was driving and got hit by another car; it was nose-to-nose crash at a high-speed, so the upper part of her car got literally taken off. Doctors restored her face as much as it was possible which meant creating a new nose and putting in place cheek bones, jaw bones and implanting new teeth. When she was that far that she could look at herself in a mirror, she was in shock. There was a scary silence for a while. It’s not me, she screamed. What do I do now, nobody will recognize me and my kids will not believe it’s me? Her kids were 4 and 6, two girls. They had kept these kids away from hospital for a while, just to get more time and to put off the unpredictable and potentially upsetting first time meeting in person. That couldn’t go on forever, so kids were taken to the hospital to meet their mom approximately 6 months after the accident. Everybody was crying: this lady, her daughters, every doctor and every patient in the room. At that moment, girls did not recognize their mom, they couldn’t believe and accept that was her because that was virtually a completely different woman in the hospital bed, not the one who was residing in their memories. It took many meetings and long time until everybody found peace of mind and re-established their relationship. This tragedy was caused by a drunk driver.

drunk driving victims

Public domain image

Physical and mental abuse: things that cannot be straightened out

People also usually do not take into account that racial, national and cultural diversities can be a problem exaggerating and issue causing aspect. Although, we are all humans, our background is very distinctive. Things that are very acceptable and very appropriate in some country, community or family, can become a subject of never-ending arguments, and eventually cause the relationship to go toxic.

As we were diagnosing patients in the urgent surgical care department at a hospital, the professor who was taking us around warned before we entered an intensive care unit: “This lady didn’t listen to her parents who told her not to engage with this particular man who is in custody at the moment. Dear girls, do not marry people who have completely distinctive background!”

The sight was extremely shocking: there was practically no face or something one could recognize as a human face, hence, it was some kind of extremely swollen dark blue, black and purple-read smashed raw meat. Eyes were not visible; they were somewhere deep under the swelling. The person could not speak, swallow anything, and not even water because of broken jaw bones. The professor lifted sheets and, as far as it was visible, the body was in exactly the same condition: bruises, hematoma at many spots, swollen limbs and torn wounds, huge five-finger imprints in bright dark purple color around the neck told that she was also been choked. Stabbed with sharp, but luckily not too wide kitchen knife which occurred to be of a flexible metal and that practically had saved her from more serious internal injuries. Her recovery took about 18 months and included fraction cure, sutures, treatment of neuroses, anxiety, abnormal physical pain and series of restorative surgery. They were successful with fixing her, and this was a case which had a happy end. Not all do.

Her husband came from a Russian family with a long history of alcohol abuse, imprisonment, family fights, strange concepts about marriage and trust, and he used to interpret the reality in a way that was severely distorted by prison moral. He was pathologically jealous, and every episode of alcohol use in excess caused him to become extremely aggressive. The closest target was always his new wife who was a young student, just relocated to start studies at the university. How do such people meet? Easy. At a bar, at a concert, and these aggressive manipulators can pretend being the nicest people on the globe when they want or have to.

Cutting off a toxic relationship

We should listen to people who care about us and warn us. We should take into account the harsh reality and advice that comes from people who have gone through hell. Do we? I did not listen to my parents and suffered for 19 years. Why? Who knows, I believed I could fix and straighten out anything. My daughter initially did not listen to me and my parents. These toxic relationships are lost time, it is time we have stolen from ourselves. Thankfully, my daughter and I found great, rewarding relationships after years of struggles. These valuable relationships contribute daily to our well-being and personal growth.

We have to learn cutting off a toxic relationship straight where it starts, not allowing to evolve into something more serious and destroying. I don’t mean only spouses and closest relatives. We have to avoid and, if necessary, immediately walk away from toxic relationship that hurts, abuses and exploits. That is the best prevention from any more serious mental and physical suffering. It is not worth it. There are so many nice people out there, and it makes sense to keep reaching out for them.

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