In this issue:

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the October 2007 issue of True North's Tune-Up. We continue to emphasize “up stream” strategies for health in the areas of nutrition, mind-body, and lifestyle. The last link is to a provocative New York Times Magazine article. It reminds us that scientific evidence has many levels of credibility. Well designed clinical trials are more reliable than some epidemiology studies. The other studies are from peer-reviewed scientific journals.

To your health,

B. Joseph Semmes, MD
Director of Research, True North
Diplomate, American Boards of Internal Medicine, Critical Care Medicine (ABIM) and Emergency Medicine

Diet and Breast Cancer Risk

Evidence is strongest that reducing weight if overweight, and having one or fewer alcohol drinks per day lowers the risk of developing breast cancer. Taking folate daily may protect women from the increased risk from alcohol. The roles of vitamin D, soy, red meat are less clear. Author WC Willett, a top epidemiologist at Harvard, has contributed to over a thousand papers in the U.S. library of medicine.

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Read more about Vitamin D, calcium lowering the risk for breast cancer

Acupuncture for chemotherapy-addled brains

One fifth to half of breast cancer patients on chemotherapy have adverse cognitive symptoms. This review supports a role for acupuncture. Acupuncture has cerebral effects as shown by MRI.

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Vitamin D may protect from multiple sclerosis

The days are shortening and skin is less exposed to sunlight (UVb activates Vitamin D in the skin). Earlier Tune-Ups have featured studies on how vitamin D is associated with better mood, less cancer, stronger bones. This Journal of the AMA study looks at the epidemiological and experimental evidence where Vitamin D lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis. Higher quality “prospective” studies have not been done.

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Physicians Fail to Recognize Depression

Physicians failed to diagnose and treat depression in 40% of patients with depression and heart failure.

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Do we really know what makes us healthy? (What if it is just bad science?)

The most credible level of clinical evidence is the “n of one,” where an individual patient can be his own “blinded control.” (At True North the practitioners emphasize the individuality of each patient.) Next comes batched analysis of multiple large high quality studies. Further down comes Epidemiology. Richard Peto, Oxford Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology puts it: “Epidemiology is so beautiful and provides such an important perspective on human life and death, but an incredible amount of rubbish is published,” by which he means the results of observational studies that appear daily in the news media and often become the basis of public-health recommendations about what we should or should not do to promote our continued good health.

Recent large studies about fiber in the diet and colon cancer, spirituality and survival etc. have not supported earlier hopeful reports. This important discussion of potentially flawed thinking is free but you must register: Click here to register and read


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Information provided in the True North Tune-Up is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The information and links in this e-publication are intended to provide general education on the topics listed, but you should not use the information or links to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare practitioner. True North advises you to always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioner prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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