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October 2007
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December 2007

We need a "No Junk Mail" list similar to the "Do Not Call" list

Junk_mail In the Fall, 2007 issue of YES magazine there is a brief article entitled "Signs of life: People we love". One of the people mentioned is Rev. Todd Eklof.

Rev. Todd saved all his junk mail for one year and then on Earth Day in 2007, he pulled a wagon full of more than 50 lbs. of junk mail four miles from his church to the Louisville, Kentucky post office.

Todd wants a "no junk mail" list similar to the "Do Not Call List".

I think it is a great idea. I get my mail out of my mailbox and sort it over the garbage can. Usually I throw about 4/5 of my mail away. Here is the brief article about Todd in YES magazine.

Rev. Todd Eklof Weighing in on waste On Earth Day 2006, Reverend Todd Eklof had something of an epiphany: it was time to make a statement about the excess of garbage in America. His idea: save all his junk mail for one year as a visual symbol of waste. “If I could have saved all my garbage for a year, I would have,” he says, “but I didn’t have anywhere to put it.” On Earth Day 2007, Rev. Elkof loaded a cart with more than 50 pounds of accumulated junk mail and pulled it four miles from his church to the local Louisville post office, where he staged a press conference drawing attention to the wastefulness of junk mail. The press conference included Kentucky state representative Jim Wayne, who proposed a statewide “no junk mail” bill. Modeled after the national “Do Not Call list,” it would prevent everyone except nonprofits and politicial candidates from sending junk mail to people who don’t want it. Rev. Eklof is optimistic about its chances of success. “Everybody hates junk mail.”

Link: People We Love: Kelydra Weckler, Reverend Todd Eklof, Lauren Jacobs, Corbin Harney.

New Research on Disruptive Kindergartners

On November 14, 2007, Diane Rehm had an interesting show on some recent research which has been done on disruptive kindergartners. Diane interviewed Sharon Landesman Ramey, Director, Center for Health and Education, Georgetown University, Dr. Philip Shaw, Psychiatry Fellow, National Institutes of Mental Health, and Greg Duncan, Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Education and Social Policy Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

Here is a brief synopsis of the show:

A new study finds children considered troublemakers in kindergarten will do just as well academically as their peers in later school years. There's also new research on children with A.D.H.D. suggesting a possible brain development delay but no long term deficit. New insights on evaluating and educating young children with behavior problems.

In my practice I see many of these kids and every situation is unique and little bit different, but there are also developmental similarities as well. Overall our kids now days are terribly pressured to behave in ways that they are not biologically, biochemically, socially, and emotionally developed enough to comply with. I often suggest to parents that sometimes the best thing they can do for their children is to give them what I call "the gift of time". This can be oversimplistic, but often is exactly the prescription. Now there is research that bears my judgment out.

This show is well worth listening to and you can access it by clicking on the link below.

Having Lots of Kids Helps Dads Live to 100

According to a study reported today, November 19, 2007 on Health Day, men who had 4 children before they were 30 have a 61% greater chance of living to 100 than men without this history. I had 5 children before I was 30 and 8 children before I was 40 and 9 children before I was 43. So I ought to live to be 200, right?

Here is a small part of what the HealtDay article on Yahoo news says:

Some surprising findings emerged. First of all, a man's chances of reaching 100 rose along with the number of children he had produced by age 30.

Compared to childless men of the same age, a 30-year-old man in 1917 who had one to three children had a 61 percent increased chance of living past a century, the data showed. However, a man's chances for extreme longevity almost tripled if he had fathered four or more children by age 30, the study found.

That's at odds with a prevailing theory in longevity research that holds that "there is a trade-off between the number of children and [parental] longevity," noted Arnold Mitnitski, a longevity researcher and associate professor of medicine, mathematics and statistics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

Link: Having Lots of Kids Helps Dads Live to 100 - Yahoo! News.

Sleep apnea treatment improves depression

Reuters reported on October 31, 2007 on an article in the October 15, 2007 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine that treatment for sleep apnea with a CPAP machine seems to also improve symptoms of depression.

The use of a breathing treatment called continuous positive airway pressure may improve depressive symptoms in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common problem in which patients stop breathing for short periods during sleep. It occurs when soft tissues in the back of the throat relax and temporarily block the airway. The condition is frequently seen in individuals who are obese and those who snort.

With continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), the patient wears a special mask that continuously blows air into the throat, preventing the tissues from collapsing.

"The significance of our findings," Dr. Daniel J. Schwartz said, "is that symptoms which might otherwise be ascribed to depression -- feelings of sadness, discouragement about the future, feelings of excessive personal failures, perceived decreases in self-confidence, a sense of being overly self-critical, the inability to derive pleasure from things, and even suicidal (thoughts) -- may at times be attributable to obstructive sleep apnea, an easily treatable medical illness."

This is timely information for me because I had my sleep study on the night of November 9-10 and I have an appointment this morning to get the results. I also started on an anti-depressant a little more than a month ago and my sleep has improved somewhat and now I am wondering whether the depression has caused the poor sleep or the poor sleep as caused the depression?

This is of further interest to me because I have several patients complaining of depression who either have sleep apnea and don't like to wear the CPAP machine, or who have symptoms of sleep apnea and have refused a referral for the study. I also have talked to people with sleep apnea who use the CPAP machine who say that it is the best thing they ever did and the quality of their lives has improved tremendously.

Link: MedlinePlus: Sleep apnea treatment improves depression.

State Hospitals Struggle to Give Up Smoking

There is an article in the November 16, 2007 issue of the Psychiatric News about how state hospitals across the nation are beginning to address the issue of smoking in their facilities.

It is an interesting observation that people with problems with alcohol, drugs, and serious psychiatric disorders smoke at rates 3 and 4 times the rates of people without those problems. For example, in New York State currently, the smoking prevalence rate in the general population is 16% but among alcoholics it is 85-90% and among people with serious mental illness it is about 75%.

In New York State all alcohol and drug treatment facilities and programs which are licensed by the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (OASAS) must be tobacco free by July 28, 2008. The 14 Alcohol Treatment Facility run by OASAS itself are already tobacco free and this requirement is now being extended to the nonprofit facilities licensed by OASAS. The Psychiatric facilities are still behind though even though they are catching up.

"Smoking kills, and it kills seriously mentally ill people early," Mary Diamond, D.O., said at the APA Institute on Psychiatric Services in New Orleans in October.

About 75 percent of seriously mentally ill people are tobacco dependent—over three times the rate among the general population—yet 59 percent of public mental health facilities still permit smoking, she said. Even some states that have banned cigarettes in prisons continue to allow smoking in their mental hospitals.

It still is not clear why substance abusers and psychiatric patients smoke at such high rates although there is some evidence that nicotine affects the biochemical balance in the brain. It seems a shame that substance abusers get into recovery, and psychiatric patients compensate and improve, and then cigarettes wind up killing them. Dr. Bob and Bill W. the founders of AA both died from smoking. 

Link: State Hospitals Struggle to Give Up Smoking -- Levin 42 (22): 4 -- Psychiatr News.

Quote of the day

"Kids are smart. They know when they're getting the short end of the stick...and it doesn't make them be good citizens. People that you abuse do not become good citizens."

Stephen Gaskin, An Outlaw In My Heart, p. 90

Faith in our future: West Virginia's Kelydra Welcker of Parkersburg West Virginia

It is easy to get cynical about America's future especially when you consider the incompetent and self serving politicians beholden to the Industrial-Military-Corporate complex who want us to believe they are leading our country and working for the welfare of the nation while they are lining their pockets and protecting their power base. But then along comes a young person or a statesperson who really does have the best interests of their family, community, and the nation at heart. One such person is Kelydra Welcker from Parkersburg, West Virginia, who is a young scientist interested in the pollution caused by a Dupont plant upstream on the Ohio river polluting the drinking water of her community with APFO, a carcinogenic chemical caused in the manufacturing of Teflon. Kelydra developed a quick in home test for the presence of the chemical and a cheap and effective way for homeowners to remove it from their drinking water. With people like Kelydra working on problems in our communities and nation, it gives me faith in our future.

I am adding a new category to my blog today entitled, "Faith in our future" which I intend to use to tag articles which are positive about how we has Americans can improve our nation and its future for the next generations.

Link: Business Wire: West Virginia's Kelydra Welcker of Parkersburg Named One of America's Top Ten Youth Volunteers.

Daily walk lowers diabetics' heart risks

Reuters reported on November 15, 2007 on a study which appeared in the October, 2007 issue of the International Journal of Sports Medicine which found that people who with Type II diabetes who walk for 20-30 minutes per day have a much lower incidence of heart disease and stroke.

People with type 2 diabetes may lower their risk of heart disease by committing to a daily walk, new research suggests.

In a study of 102 adults with type 2 diabetes, Japanese researchers found that those who stuck with a daily walking regimen for 17 months had a lower risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke than those who stopped exercising.

The study participants, who ranged in age from 35 to 75, were instructed to take a 20- to 30-minute walk every day. Among the 64 who managed to achieve this, just 1 - or 2 percent -- suffered a stroke and none developed heart disease during the 17-month study.

In contrast, of the 38 participants who failed to stick with their exercise prescription, 7 -- or 18 percent -- developed heart disease or had a stroke.

Walking is a behavioral change which no physician or pharmaceutical company are going to make money from, and patients have to actually do something other than pop a pill or undergo medical procedures; they will actually have to make some life style changes to save their lives. Are people able and willing to do this? By and large, no, not without proper motivaton and encouragement which is sorely lacking in our culture.

The largest killers in our culture are behaviors which only the individual can change: drinking too much alcohol, using illicit drugs, eating too much, smoking, and lack of exercise. The most signicant changes in health care costs, productivity, mental health, and life expectancy could occur if people could modify the above behaviors.

I, myself, have Type II diabetes and I was walking pretty regularly 30 minutes a day until some Plantar Fasciitis in my left heel really slowed me down and then stopped me from walking every day. However, lately, with some Advil, it seems to be improved and I need to get back at it because even though I am 61, I would like to live another 25 years.

Link: MedlinePlus: Daily walk lowers diabetics' heart risks.

Quote of the day

"In my Cold War childhood, 'godless communism' was the unifying all-purpose enemy that justified everything from an overkill arsenal of nuclear weapons to a host of unsavory allies. Sept. 11...ushered in a new all-purpose enemy: terroism."

Ellen Goodman