From the Healthcare Office...

Feel Great Fast! - Part 2 The Year's Top Medical Breakthroughs! Prevent Cancer

The Sunshine Vitamin

You can slash your risk of the most common, deadly cancers by taking vitamin D and catching a few rays. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, reviewed 63 studies from 1970 to 2004 and concluded that getting 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily-2-1/2 times the amount now recommended appears to lower colon cancer risk by 50% and breast and ovarian cancer risk by 25%. A Northwestern University study of 122,000 adults found that those who got 300 to 450 IU of vitamin D daily (the current DV is 400) had a 43% lower risk of pancreatic cancer than those who took in less than 150 IU. But few adults hit the 400 IU mark-an amount many experts now believe isn't nearly enough. Start today. Drink two cups of D-fortified fat-free milk and swallow one or two 400 IU supplements a day. You can get some sun, too-10 to 15 minutes of exposure without sunscreen twice a week is a beneficial dose. Just be sure to put on sunscreen if you're out longer.

Tea, the Power Drink

A spot of tea will cut your odds of ovarian cancer. A Swedish study of 61,000 women showed that those who drank a cup of black tea daily had a 24% lower risk of developing the disease than women who drank none; two cups a day reduced risk by 46%. A Harvard study of 66,000 women found that green or black tea-and other foods rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids-can diminish the risk of developing this cancer by 38%. Start today. Not a tea drinker? Substitute one cup of broccoli or kale, which are also high in the protective nutrients. Apples, grapefruit, and Brussels sprouts are other good choices. Biopsy is Best If you need further tests after an abnormal mammogram, a biopsy will give you the most accurate results. A review of 81 studies by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that the old-fashioned biopsy beat newer noninvasive tests in confirming breast cancer. The other methods included PET, MRI, ultrasound, and mammograms enhanced by radioactive tracer; all missed 4 to 9% of the tumors that biopsies identified. Start today. One in 10 American women will receive a worrisome mammogram this year. If you or someone you know is in this group, forget the high-tech wizardry: Ask the doctor to follow up immediately with this gold-standard test.

Almond Joy

Snack on almonds, peanut butter, and other high-magnesium foods, and you'll cut your risk of colon cancer considerably. Magnesium-more than 350 mg a day-reduced colon cancer risk by 25%, found a University of Minnesota study of 35,000 women. Another study, which was performed in Sweden and involved 61,000 women, reported similar results. Start today. You need a mix of foods to get all the magnesium you need-320 mg per day for women and 420 mg for men. Good bets include almonds (24 nuts = 78 mg), peanut butter (2 tablespoons = 49 mg), black-eyed peas (1 cup = 85 mg), and wheat bran cereal (1 cup = 65 mg).

Stop Diabetes

The Winning Combo Add a calcium supplement to your vitamin D and cut your diabetes risk. A Tufts-New England Medical Center study of 84,000 women discovered that those who got the highest levels of this daily duo-they were taking in more than 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D-had a 33% lower risk of diabetes than women who consumed the least. Start today. Take a 500 mg calcium supplement and eat at least the recommended three servings of lowfat dairy daily. For vitamin D, add one or two 400 IU supplements.

Sleep Strategy

Sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night will ward off type 2 diabetes. Studies at Yale, Case Western Reserve and Columbia universities add to the growing evidence that a good night's slumber can have lifesaving benefits. Compared with sleeping 7 to 8 hours, snoozing 5 or fewer hours a night doubled men's and women's risk of high blood pressure, and it doubled men's risk of diabetes. Too much shut-eye causes problems, too: Sleeping more than 8 hours tripled men's diabetes risk. Researchers say too much or too little sleep increases stress hormones and insulin resistance-an indication that the body is struggling to regulate blood sugar. Start today. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, give up coffee after noon, spicy dinners, and late-night television. Do your bills and busywork in the living room, not in bed, and restrict your water intake in the evening. Sleeping long hours could be a sign of depression or metabolic problems, so see your doctor.

The Coffee Solution

A morning cup of coffee can stave off diabetes. Drinking 2 or 3 cups of coffee daily-regular or decaf-cut the odds of developing type 2 diabetes by 42% in a Harvard study of 88,000 women ages 26 to 46. And a University of Minnesota study of 27,300 postmenopausal women showed that 1 to 3 cups of coffee daily lowered the chances of dying from heart disease by 24%. Earlier studies found that coffee boosts your health, but these were the first to show that drinking just a few cups of coffee, even decaf, has these specific benefits. Start today. Go ahead and have a couple of mugs of regular or decaf, but steer clear of the frappe-cappamocha- drinks that often deliver as many calories as a milkshake.

Floss Fix

For people with diabetes, brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist could be a lifesaver. Spanish researchers recruited 20 adults with gum disease, characterized by puffy red gums; 10 of them had diabetes. After the volunteers got the standard dental treatment called scaling and root planning, the scientists discovered something surprising: The diabetics' blood sugar dropped by as much as 20% and remained down for at least 3 months, significantly reducing their risk of complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The researchers theorize that the bacteria that cause gum disease also drive up blood sugar. Start today. Brush after every meal, floss at least once a day-preferably at night-and see your dentist if your gums turn red, swell, or start to bleed.

HEARTBURN AND ACID REFLUX DISEASE

Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux disease.  Another name for acid reflux is 
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease.) Persistent heartburn two or more days
a week is the most common symptom of GERD. 

 Other signs include:
o	Trouble swallowing
o	Coughing, wheezing hoarseness, or sore throat
o	Food coming back into your mouth after you swallow
o	A sour or bitter taste in your mouth
o	Burning chest pain
o	Belching

The Upper Gastrointestinal Tract

Esophagus. This tube connects your throat and stomach.  When you swallow, t
he muscular walls of your esophagus contract to push food down into you stomach.

Lower esophegeal sphincer (LES).  The valve opens to let food flow into your stomach 
and closes to keep food and stomach acid from flowing back into your esophagus. 
If you have acid reflux disease, the LES is weak, or it relaxes at the wrong time, 
and the stomach acid flows back into your esophagus.  When acid juices touch 
the lining of the esophagus, they create a burning feeling in your chest or throat.  
This is hearburn.

Stomach.  Food travels from your lower esophagus to your stomach wherre it's broken 
down and passed through to the small intestine.

1.	Doesn't everyone have heartburn occasionally?
                 Yes.  Everyone experiences hearburn once in a while.  But if you experience 
                 any of the following, it's probably time to see your doctor:

	You have hearburn two or more days a week
	You don't get lasting relief from the medicines you take
	You've had heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease for several months.
	Your heartburn disrupts your sleep.

2.	I take antacids every day so I don't need another medicine, right?
                No.  Antacids are fine for managing occasional heartburn, but they don't
                provide long-term relieif or help heal damage in you esophagus. 
                Plus, overusing antacids can lead to constitpation or diahhhea.  
               If you take over-the-counter antacids two or more days a week, 
               talk to your doctor.


A Serious Sign 
Why hearburn may signal a more serious health problem.

If acidic stomach juices continually back up into your esophagus, they can cause 
damage.  I you have long-term heartburn, you're at greater risk for developing 
esophageal ulcers or esophageal stricture, a narrowing of the esophagus.  
However, it's also possible to develop these condtions even if you don't have 
heartburn symptoms.

About 10 to 15 percent of people with long-term acid reflux disease develop 
a condition known as Barrett's esophagus, which is an abnormality of the lining 
of your esophagus.  This condition may lead to esophageal cancer.

Seven Ways to Help Heartburn

1.	Avoid large, fatty meals.  Eating smaller, healthier meals halps reduce pressure 
            on the LES and helps prevent acid backwash.
2.	Avoid trigger foods. Including: decaffeinated or carbonated beverages; 
            citrus fruits or juices; fried, fatty foods; mint flavorings; 
            garlic; onions; chocolate, alcohol; tomato-based foods; heavy seasonings.  
            Keep a diary of foods and beverages that cause  your symptoms.  
            Avoid those foods.
3.	If you smoke, quit.  Smoking makes heartburn worse.  It weakens your LES, 
            allowing acid reflux to occur, and causes your stomach to produce more acid.  
            Plus, swallowing air while smoking can cause belching.
4.	Loosen up your pants.  Wearing tight belts or pants can put pressure on 
            your somach and LES.
5.	Lose weight.  Extra abdominal fat puts pressure on the stomach, which causes  
            acid to splash back into your esophagus.  
            Even if you lose a moderate amount of weight, you may have less heartburn..
6.	Don't eat three to four hours before going to bed.  For some people, heartburn
            can make it difficult to fall asleep, or can wake them up in the middle of the night.
7.	De-Stress.  Stress or strong emotinos can make heartburn worse.

Keep your head up!

If your head is slightly elevated, stomach acid is less likely to back up into your esophagus.  
Elevate your head six to eight inches with wooden or concrete blocks under the legs of your bed.  
You can also place a foam wedge in betwwen your mattress and box spring.  Don't use extra 
pillows, which can increase abdominal pressure and bend the torso.