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What’s New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter

August, 2001

My patients frequently ask my opinion about new health books on the market. And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling their advice! While many of these books are excellent, others are written by people who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply put - they're inaccurate.

The people writing the books either don't regularly use the medicines they write about or they're presenting theories as if they are facts. Others can be valuable tools for improving the quality of your life.

If you find this newsletter useful, please forward it to a friend!

- Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton

Genetically Engineered Food
Changing the Nature of Nature
By Martin Tietel, Ph.D. and Kimberly A. Wilson

"Imagine yourself sitting in a newly designed airplane. As you settle into your seat, the plane taxis toward the active runway. Just as the plane begins to lift its wheels from the ground, your eye catches a front page article mentioning that engineers are beginning a series of tests to determine whether or not this model of airplane is safe." Now imagine you are sitting down to a bowl of cereal, orange juice and a piece of toast all of which have been genetically modified. None of us know for sure how they will affect us long-term, yet we are told that they are perfectly safe. In fact, the tests to determine their safety are going on right now - with us as the test subjects. This scenario may seem farfetched to most of us. We don't want to be alarmists and frankly, some of the people preaching anti-GMO (genetically modified foods) seem like crackpots. Yet, according to the most conservative estimates, 60-70% of the food in our supermarkets is already genetically engineered. This issue affects each and every one of us.

What are Genetically Modified Foods? Teitel, the author of Genetically Engineered Food, describes it as a piece of DNA from one source (a fish, for example) that is isolated, removed and then "pasted" into the DNA of another source such as a tomato via the use of enzymes, viruses and bacteria.

One of the most important reasons to use genetically modified foods is a decreased need for the insecticides and pesticides because the gene-altering effect makes the plant more resistant. For example, consider the Irish potato blight of 1845 resulting in widespread crop loss, starvation and economic ruin. A plant chemically engineered to be resistant to the potato blight might have avoided this catastrophe.

What about the negatives? One genetically engineered food, the soybean, had less nutritional value than its unaltered counterpart. Another problem is the control of the gene removal and pasting process. We are still in the trial and error stage. Can it get out of control and cause food that can adversely affect the bacteria that commonly lives inside us? What if you are highly allergic to peanuts and are eating a tomato that has been genetically engineered with a peanut, how will you know how to avoid it?

The bottom line to me is how this will impact our health. And the truth is - we don't know. At this point, it is conjecture on both sides. We do know that rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) injected into our cows has resulted in animals with cystic ovaries and uterine disorders. In laboratory rats, cysts on the thyroid and prostate occurred. We still don't know how this translates for the human drinking the milk or eating the cheese. We do know that because of the potential risk, it has been outlawed in most developed countries of Europe and in Canada, but not in the United States.

Genetically Engineered Foods tries to make sense out of an inflammatory situation by sifting out the sensationalism and presenting a highly referenced book explaining the ramifications of the GMO food. They don't look better, they don't taste better, they aren't better for us, and the farmer can't get more money for them, so why do we need genetically modified foods at all? If you want to get a handle on the situation, read the newspaper articles crafted by the large agricultural companies and for the other side of the debate, read Genetically Engineered Foods.

Sleeping Soundly
Understanding and treating sleep disorders
By Dr. Antonio Ambrogetti

Your husband snores in his sleep, sort of gasps and then settles down for a little while before he repeats the same behavior. He laughs it off, but it scares you a bit. Your daughter has had serious insomnia ever since her divorce and it's hindering her ability to do her job. And you have developed restless legs at bedtime recently and are not sure whether it's connected to that new blood pressure prescription you received. If this sounds familiar or if you have any other sleep questions, then this book is for you.

Your husband snores in his sleep, sort of gasps and then settles down for a little while before he repeats the same behavior. He laughs it off, but it scares you a bit. Your daughter has had serious insomnia ever since her divorce and it's hindering her ability to do her job. And you have developed restless legs at bedtime recently and are not sure whether it's connected to that new blood pressure prescription you received. If this sounds familiar or if you have any other sleep questions, then this book is for you.

Sleeping Soundly has to be one of the most "information only", bare-facts books I have ever read. Unlike many books directed toward the layperson, it makes no effort to be interesting. You could think of it as a sleeping aid - or as a sleep primer. If you have a sleep question, it very likely will have the answer and the conventional treatment plan for it.

Stressing insomnia is a symptom of a disease rather than a disease unto itself, Ambrogetti covers insomnia due to sleep apnea (obstructive and central) in adults and children, snoring, jet lag, night shifts, depression, sleep deprivation, medications, asthma, heart failure, chronic back pain, chronic fatigue, gastric reflux (both painful and painless), fibromyalgia, menopause, Marfan's disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, obesity, and allergies. He discusses the mechanism of the condition, what works and what doesn't work. For example, he notes that surgery is not particularly effective for severe sleep apnea or snoring as these conditions generally recur within a few months of the surgery. It is, however, effective for mild sleep apnea. Nasal strips don't work very consistently for people suffering from blocked nasal passages due to allergies. And men with small chins are more likely to snore than their larger chin counterparts.

I like the fact that he includes psychophysiological (mind affecting body) insomnia and offers some cases to help explain it. One case included a sleep-deprived mother working full-time out of the house. Dr. Ambrogetti recognized her insomnia as a symptom of both physical and mental overwork and chronic sleep deprivation when she slept soundly during the overnight sleep study away from her usual environment. He prescribed a decreased workload and time alone and successfully resolved her insomnia.

While this book will never win any awards for style, it's content is extremely useful for people wanting a more complete understanding and conventional solutions for their insomnia.

Outsmarting Female Fatigue
Eight Energizing Strategies for Lifelong Vitality
By Debra Waterhouse

"When was the last time you were beside yourself with excitement and exploding with vitality? When was the last time you encountered any woman who had an enduring bounce in her step, an enthusiastic smile on her face, and extra time on her hands?" If your answer is "I don't know", then read on.

Waterhouse starts the book out by validating women's fatigue. According to Waterhouse and 90% of all the women I know and see in my office, women are tired and stressed. She quotes a resent survey "the State of American Women Today," in which it says that 67% of us report that we don't have the energy to make it through any given day." Consider these figures offered in this book.
- We work eighty-five hours a week between home and career - more than two full-time jobs.
- We are responsible for over 90% of the day care, parent care, home care, healthcare, and even pet care decisions.
- We do 1,473 hours of housework a year - the same amount we did in the 1960s when most of us didn't have an outside job.
- About half of us say that our only true quiet time is in the shower or tub. The other half report that the car is their only sanctuary - when they are not taxiing their kids around town or returning calls on their cell phones.

Just at the point in which I was getting tired just reading about how much fatigue the average woman experiences, Waterhouse switches gears and offers solutions. Her eight point solution covers the usual food, exercise, and sleep, but in a much more realistic way than what I usually read in self-help books.

For starters, she recommends that women stop dieting. How can any logical person think that if you deprive yourself of your major energy source - food - that you won't be tired. My major complaint with her dietary recommendations is her portion control method. She reasons that since your empty stomach is about the size of your fist, then you should only eat a fist size worth of food 4-5 times a day. Personally, I would starve on that small amount of food. Also, our stomachs are elastic and designed to expand and contract as needed. So, it's fine to ignore that piece of advice. However, most of the rest of her advice is excellent - especially spending time outdoors.

Nature is a tremendous rejuvenator. A sea of wild-flowers, the crashing ocean or a canopy of old growth timber has a way of soothing and recharging your batteries at the same time. If you can't remember the last time you sat by a brook or took a walk in the woods, then plan one for this weekend.

Outsmarting Female Fatigue is first and foremost a fun-motivational book. Waterhouse fills it with repetitive and sometimes silly mini-quizzes ans affirmations that are suppose to make the tired woman reflect upon her situation. But don't get me wrong. When I see a woman sitting across from me with so little energy that there is no more joy in her life, I would recommend in a heartbeat.

Herb Tip: I should really call this a vanity tip as well as a herb tip. Many of my patients comment on my natural lack of gray hair. I actually started going gray 10 years ago. It was then that a health food store worker with thick brown hair at 55 years old suggested I take chlorella (blue green algae which is full of chlorophyll that keeps plants leaves green) to arrest this process. So, I did and yes, it worked. Unfortunately, I have yet to come across a research article to confirm it. So, this is all anecdotal evidence.

Initially, you need to be very consistent with the chlorella (300mg/day) for 4-6 months. You should see a substantial decrease in gray. At that point, cut back to taking 2-3 times a week. Fine to stop for a month or two at a time.

What else is chlorella good for? There is recent research suggesting that it may be protective from heavy metals and dioxins (toxic components of insecticides and herbicides).

I have no idea if this will work for everyone, but it has worked for those who have tried it consistently for 4-6 months.

Health Tip: Reasons for you and your children to eat carrots. Raw carrots can decrease cholesterol (11% in one study) and one carrot (cooked or raw) a day may cut the risk of lung cancer in former smokers in half. Similarly, eating carrots daily decreases the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Copyright 2001 Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton, LLC



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Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton
11825 SW Greenburg Road, Suite A2
Tigard, OR 97223