Dr. Magryta: A random update
1) Influenza continues to be a mess around the United States. It is now known to be spread easily by just exhaled breath. This year we are at epidemic levels not seen since the 2009 H1N1 season. Prevention remains your best avenue to safety. Keeping your immune system fully functional is key. Remember to get adequate sleep, eat an anti-inflammatory diet and keep your vitamin D and zinc levels up.
2) Why fake operations are a good thing by Claudia Wallis is an interesting read. She discusses the recent literature showing that many of the common surgical procedures are no more beneficial than placebo. For example, she discusses the Lancet article on cardiac stent placement versus sham surgery for a blocked coronary artery. What the researchers found was that the stent placement offered no benefit for the patients over placebo over a 6-week period post procedure.
Why is this important? First, it helps us understand that not all things are true despite what we are told. Second, the longer I live, the more I learn that the body is really good at healing itself if you support it. Third, this information follows up on the large body of literature on the placebo effect in general. It is strong and beneficial for us. Thoughts create. Keep them positive.
3) Processed food is associated with cancer! In an observational study of 100,000 French people over a 2 year period they found a consistent increase in cancer risk as the volume of processed food eaten increased. The reality of a study like this is that it is a guide and nothing more. It does not prove causation.
However, the mechanistic evidence as to why this would be true exists. Humans and all animal species have increasing volumes of DNA mutations as they age because of telomere length reductions. What accelerates the aging DNA process and in turn the risk of cancer and senility is multifactorial. However, two things are clear. 1) Exposure to toxins and chemicals cause direct damage and 2) Inflammatory foods destroy the natural immune function that clears the damaged cells. Processed foods and meats are notorious for causing systemic inflammation. A non processed diet like the Tsimane Indians of Bolivia is associated with no disease risk increase.
4) Following up on autoimmunity and allergy articles with a discussion of sublingual immune therapy seems prudent at this time. Once prevention has failed, you have allergies and are following a program as outlined in the articles, you can consider adding sublingual immune therapy or SLIT to your treatment/prevention arsenal. SLIT is well studied and very effective at retraining your immune system to tolerate your current allergenic triggers.
Random is good,
Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org