IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  February 1, 2005

Statins: Health Benefits

If your cholesterol is a little high, your doctor may think you should take a statin such as Lipitor or Pravachol. Not only are they good for lowering bad cholesterol, but research is turning up a bundle of other health benefits that statins provide.

Statins such as Lipitor can reduce inflammation. They may act directly on plaque in the arteries, making it less likely to burst and cause a heart attack.

A new study at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Birmingham shows that taking a statin for more than 23 months significantly decreased glaucoma risk.

Other studies have hinted that statins offer benefits for everything from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer's disease. Now cancer can be added to that list.

A study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology shows that statins can reduce colon cancer risk by 51 percent.

Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University report that statin use slowed prostate cancer risk lowered by 56 percent.

No doctor will give you a statin as all-purpose medication. If you have to take it anyway, there are plenty of other benefits in following the doctor's orders and taking your medicine.

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Walking Keeps the Mind Sharp

Exercise, even walking at an easy pace, appears to protect the aging brain from erosion of thinking ability and Alzheimer's disease.

Doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health found that older people who were physically active, including those who walked at a leisurely pace up to three hours a week, performed much better on tests of memory and thinking ability than those who were inactive. They had a 20 percent reduced risk of doing poorly on tests of cognitive ability. There were more than 18,000 participants in the study.

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Anyone Can Buy a Defibrillator

The Food and Drug Administration has approved purchase of a defibrillator without a doctor's prescription. Anyone worried about sudden cardiac arrest can purchase the $2,000 HeartStart home defibrillator.

About 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrest cases happen at home. Cardiac arrest is best treated by a shock from a defibrillator. Those buying a home defibrillator are cautioned to call 911 first, then use the home defibrillator until professional help arrives.

The device is approved for adults and children at least 8 years old and weighing at least 55 pounds. A less expensive Samaritan model is shown at right and can be purchased at http://www.aedsafety.com

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Sick Workers: Stay home

A study by Cornell University labor researchers shows that it's better for employers if sick people don't come to work.

People who are sick have more trouble concentrating, work more slowly, and have to redo tasks. They slow down productivity overall, the study found.

If their disease is infectious, such as a cold or the flu, workers can spread the sickness to others, although the study did not include that factor in calculating sick worker costs.

The Cornell researchers conclude that sick workers and the lost productivity they cause represent a cost of $255 per employee per year.

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More Heart Attacks in Winter

Studies reported by the European Society of Cardiology show that heart attack risk doubled when temperatures dropped below 39.2 degrees. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels and thickens blood, making clots more likely, say the researchers. They tracked more than 700 patients hospitalized over a two-year period. People with high blood pressure were at greater risk.

This is a partial explanation of the high number of heart attacks among people who are shoveling snow. Cold temperatures add to the exertion of shoveling snow and significantly increase risk.

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FIT, The Exercise Key

If you want better bones and balance, and a stronger heart and body, exercise is the key. It can do more good than medication over the long term.

Exercise comes down to three variables, frequency, intensity and time. Remember the word FIT. According to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports:

Frequency means five times a week. Sporadic exercise doesn't help much.

Intensity means you should perspire and breathe more heavily, but be able to talk in short sentences.

Time means a target of 30 minutes, but doing three 10-minute sessions is OK. If you're really out of shape, start with five-minute sessions and work up to 10.

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Does Red Wine Add Lifespan?

Scientists at Harvard say that a compound in red wine helps insects live well beyond a normal life span. They say that wine is not a longevity elixir, but they are confident that any longevity drug developed to lengthen life span would include reservatrol such as that in red wine.

It activates a protein that is essential for repairing DNA. They say drinking a glass of red wine at least three times a week might also prevent some cancers. Reservatrol is more effective in the presence of alcohol.

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Treating Athlete's Foot

The Food and Drug Administration has reviewed evidence about the effectiveness of over-the-counter remedies for athlete's foot.

They conclude that the creams, sprays, lotions, and powders need improved labeling. Labels indicate that the product should be used only for a few weeks. They do not make clear that relief from symptoms may not occur until several weeks after treatment has ended. Discolored or deformed toenails may be a sign of a deeper fungal infection. Over-the-counter remedies are ineffective in this case. Ask you doctor about Sporanox treament.

To prevent athlete's foot, keep feet dry, especially between toes, wear cotton or wool socks, and change them at least every day. Wear well-ventilated shoes.

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Vitamin D for a Stronger Heart

Doctors at the University of Michigan say vitamin D receptors in the heart suggest a cardiovascular benefit from consuming enough vitamin D. People produce vitamin D through their skin but only by being out in the sun for at least 15 minutes a day.

During the winter months when people are not outside during the day, the doctors recommend taking a supplement or a multivitamin pill.

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Reducing Sound Transfer

If excessive noise filters down to your condominium from neighbors upstairs, you can do something about it other than asking neighbors to walk more lightly.

Installing a drywall ceiling on resilient channels is one option. Resilient channels help stop transmission of sound between floors and are available at builders' supply firms. They should be attached to the joists 4 inches on center.

Installing acoustical ceiling tiles can also help deaden sound. They can be attached to a smooth ceiling with an adhesive. Or you can nail furring strips at right angles to the joists and nail or staple the tiles to the strips. These products are a good solution to isolate aerobic rooms from the rest of the gym. This website has a number of products for this application http://www.soundproofcow.com

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Kids' Asthma

Don't tear out the carpeting, buy a humidifier, or get rid of the dog. First, get an allergy test to discover what actually triggers your child's asthma.

A new study by the University of Michigan shows that only half of all drastic steps parents take are effective. In the case of the humidifier, buying one could actually make things worse if the child has an allergy for mold.

Doctors at the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinics say skin testing is needed to determine the allergens. If the child isn't allergic to dust mites, for example, throwing out the carpet won't do any good. Buying an electronic air purifier to suck up dust and dander can be a waste of money if the child is allergic to plant pollen and mold, say the doctors.

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Sports for Kids With Glasses

These are the numbers, according to the Vision Service Plan:

  • 25 percent of kids who participate in team sports wear glasses or contact lenses.
  • 54 percent of children say they enjoyed sports more after they began to wear corrective lenses.
  • 90 percent of parents of kids with corrective lenses think that their child's performance improved after getting glasses or contacts.

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    Highest Slopes and Mountain Fever

    For doctors and nurses at Colorado's highest elevations, ski season means a steady flow of casualties from a little-understood problem: acute mountain sickness.

    Skiers are ready for the risk of broken bones and frostbite, but they often don't know how mountain sickness works, and resorts don't tell them. The condition is caused by a decrease in oxygen in the blood at higher altitudes. It affects people who travel rapidly from sea level to elevations over 8,000 feet. A more serious condition, high-altitude pulmonary edema, is fatal in 1 percent of cases.

    Thousands of skiers experience symptoms within a day of arriving: headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and vomiting. About 25 percent to 40 percent of visitors experience symptoms of mountain sickness. Copper Mountain Ski Resort warns would-be visitors about it. Their flier says it creates a "hangover" feeling and pregnant women, people with anemia, or chronic lung and heart conditions should be cautious.

    Aspen, Vail, and some other Colorado mountains have bases at or above 8,000 feet, but people at hotels experience less altitude sickness. The hotels lie at lower elevations, allowing bodies more time to adjust. The peak at Aspen rises to 12,510 feet. At Telluride, the peak is 12,255. Brekenridge peaks rise to 12,998 feet, and Copper Mountain peak is 12,313 feet.

    Skiers coming from sea level locations such as Chicago (668 feet) or Michigan (839 feet) should allow time for their bodies to adjust before going to the higher peaks.

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    Early Signs of 'Frozen Shoulder'

    Doctors are concerned that cases of frozen shoulder are on the rise. Surgeons at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., say that because of increase in obesity, diabetes, and an aging population, the increase is a continuing concern.

    Frozen shoulder is a condition in which the shoulder capsule contracts or becomes inflamed, causing adhesions and scaring that "freeze" the shoulder. Inactivity after even a minor injury can bring it on, though it usually begins spontaneously. Symptoms include pain in the shoulder, especially when attempting to raise the arm.

    When raising an arm straight up, normal range of motion allows the arm to be raised as high as top of the head. A person with severe frozen shoulder can move a straight arm only waist high or lower.

    Orthopedists say that if patients and doctors understood the risks and symptoms, the disorder could be successfully treated by physical therapy. Early diagnosis when the condition is still "freezing" is the key. Early therapy lessens the severity and lifespan of the disease.

    Currently, about six million people in the U.S. suffer from the condition. About 10 percent to 20 percent of diabetics will have it at one time or another. And women are affected somewhat more often than men.

    Shoulder ligaments are normally elastic and tighten when you reach up high. In a frozen shoulder, the joint gets smaller. Ligaments adhere to the shoulder or tighten at its resting position. Movement becomes painful and difficult, or even impossible.

    Doctors have also found that a shot of cortisone into the shoulder may prevent a full-blown case of the disease.

    For severe cases, surgery is required. But for many with advanced frozen shoulder, full range of motion will not be achieved.

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    Hormone Use Not Harmful in Younger Women

    This is how one study showed hormone use affects heart-attack risk. It shows that the younger a woman is when beginning hormone treatment, the safer it is.

  • Women starting hormone use up to nine years after menopause had their heart attack risk reduced by 11 percent.
  • Heart attack risk was increased by 22 percent for those whose who began treatment 10 to 19 years after menopause.
  • Heart attack risk was increased by 71 percent for those starting hormone treatment 20 years after menopause.

    The analysis was recently presented to the North American Menopause Society's annual meeting. Previous studies included women of all ages, which brought the overall percentage of heart attack risk much higher.

    The finding is significant, and may surprise many women. Previously, data appeared to implicate all hormone use and scared many women away from the treatment. Many doctors, however, were convinced that the heart attack data did not apply to the typical 50-year-old patient.

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  • Quotes

    The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like and do what you'd druther not.
    - Mark Twain

    There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.
    - Mark Twain(Samuel Clemens)

    A cigarette is a roll of paper, tobacco, and drugs, with a small fire on one end and a large fool at the other.
    - Ann Landers's reader

    A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular.
    - Adlai Stevenson"

    A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.
    - Unknown

    Zen: Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side & a dark side, and it holds the universe together.


    Q: What is the ideal weight for a 15 year old?

    A: Depends on you height and build. Use the BMI chart in our Fitness Training manual on the website to determine your optimum weight. The BMI chart is not valid for athletes.

    Q: I wonder if you can help me with some simple exercises to help strengthen and increase ROM of an injured knee and shoulder.

    A: This is the role of a physical therapist not a personal trainer. I am not qualified to treat injured clients.

    Q: We just purchased a punching bag, and as we try and kick we often tend to hurt our feet while trying these exercises. So I was just wondering where to kick on the bag, and what part of your foot your are to use? Thank you!

    A: Kick with the top of your foot and push kick with the ball of your foot. Yes it will hurt but defense training is not for your health it is for defense.

    Q: How long should I hold a stretch?

    A: Hold each stretch for 20 seconds. Do not bounce but hold a steady pressure. Do not stretch to the point of pain, just tightness.

    Q: I continue to struggle with my weight and have in fact gained in past year. Help! How many calories should I aim for to lose about a pound or less a week?

    A: Try to limit caloric intake to 1500 to 1800 calories per day. This is a safe level. Lower than this level will trigger your body to store more fat.

    Q: I'm 38 years old. My high blood pressure is 135/90 and my heart beat usually over 90 beats per minute what is the normal numbers for both?

    A: Your blood pressure is borderline high on both systolic and diastolic pressures. If this is your resting heart rate, it is high. I would recommend seeing a doctor for a checkup. If all checks out, then you need to start with walking everyday until you are able to intersperse some jogging. Now is the time to get going. If you wait until your 40's it will be much harder. Do not ignore these signs. Your body is telling you that it does not necessarily have a problem now but it is just around the corner.

    Q: What exercises are good for burning fat if you do not have Gym equipment. Also how do I obtain an aerobic machine in Ghana and where. If negative can you send me online training?

    A: The best aerobic exercise for fat loss is jogging. Alternate jogging and walking if you need to. Try this 3 or 4 times a week for whatever you can take. I am not aware of any fitness supply centers in Ghana. I would recommend have one shipped in. You can search on the internet using Google.

    Q: I am 22 weeks pregnant. What is the general weight gain per month over the 40 week pregnancy period?

    A: Weight gain during pregnancy should be gradual with the most weight being gained in the last trimester. According to the ACOG, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during the first three months of pregnancy and then 3 to 4 pounds per month for the rest of your pregnancy. Total weight gain should be about 25 to 30 pounds. This will decrease the risk of delivering a low-birth-weight baby. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women who have a low Body Mass Index (BMI) -- the ration of weight to height -- should gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy and women who have a higher BMI should gain 15 to 25 pounds. Check with your doctor to determine how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy for you.

    Weight gained includes 6 to 8 pounds for the weight of the baby. The remaining weight consists of a higher fluid volume, larger breasts, larger uterus, amniotic fluid, and the placenta. Make sure to visit your doctor throughout your pregnancy for an assessment of your weight gain. Your doctor can make recommendations about how much weight you should be gaining to ensure that your pregnancy is progressing smoothly and that you are getting the right amount of nutrients.

    Reprinted from the Office on Women's Health

    Q: Which organization will recognize this certificate in Israel, may you send me the contact information?

    A: We have instructors in Israel. I would suggest giving a call to some of the local gyms there and getting some feedback about IFA. We cannot provide contact information for any of our members due to IFA privacy policies.

    Q: I would like to or know about low fat diets methods and techniques.

    A: This website is an excellent resource to detail each of the current diets: http://www.faddiet.com/

    Q: In your manual you state that your should drink nore water if you are retaining water. How is that?

    A: The following is an excerpt from this website http://www.bodyandfitness.com

    The amount of water you drink is going to play a key role in water retention. Water not only is essential in dissolving and transporting nutrients such as oxygen and minerals to the body but can also help in the digestion, assimilation, metabolism, elimination, and the waste removal in the body. Water is also necessary with weight loss. Water intake helps in flushing out toxins from the fat cells, which are store in fat tissue and released into the bloodstream.

    In order to burn fat cells, the fat cells first will have to be free of excess water and toxins. The body will hold on to excess water for survival if adequate amounts of water is not supplied. Water is a critical nutrient for many bodily processes. When you are dehydrated, your body excretes less water, and bloating can set in. For optimum health, the National Research Council recommends an intake of 12 cups of water a day for men and 9 cups a day for women. Remember: In with the good, out with the bad.

    There are other reasons for retaining water, some serious. So it is a good idea to get a doctor's checkup in order to rule out any clinical problems that may exist.

    Q: I have downloaded your course and I want to know why the body's strength deteriotes even when muscle size remains more or less the same.

    A: Muscle size does not remain the same. As muscle atrophies and metabolism slows, fat is deposited both in and around muscle structures giving the appearance of same size. It feels softer to squeeze.

    Q: I have constant throbbing in my head. The doctor put my on a low dose of an anxiety drug which makes me sleepy. I ask questions but get no answers. I am 64 years old and retired from education. Any advice?

    A: I'm not a doctor, I can only offer some educated guesses. Headaches can be caused by poor eyesight, loud noises, food allergies, strong household cleaners, high frequency sounds (like sonic alarms), and assorted physiological reasons that a doctor would be able to determine.

    Sounds like your doctor may be contributing to your "anxiety." Try seeing another doctor. He may offer a fresher outlook on the problem.