Counseling Sheet

Science/Health Abstracts #2

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

Zinc Supplements/Heart

Excess zinc can lead to a trace element imbalance, particularly copper deficiency, which researchers feel may be associated with atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease. Dr. Walter Mertz, chairman of the Agriculture Department's Nutrition Institute in Beltsville, Maryland, states that the intake of copper in the American diet is very low; therefore zinc supplementation could readily produce an imbalance of the zinc-copper ratio (Medical Tribune, April 16, 1980).

Body Weight/Breast Cancer Survival

N. F. Boyd of the Toronto Princess Margaret Hospital reported a 10-year study of breast cancer patients which showed that 60% of patients weighing less than 140 pounds lived five or more years after surgery while only 49% of those weighing more than 140 pounds survived that long. Fifty percent of patients weighing less than 140 pounds survived at least 10 years; only 39% of those weighing more than 140 pounds lived that long. The study suggests that body fat may encourage breast cancer. Previous studies have show that women who consume high fat diets are more likely to get breast cancer (Science News 117:310, May 17, 1980).

Exercise/Intraocular Pressure

Vigorous exercise produces a decrease in intraocular pressure according to Dr. Philip Lempert of Houston, Texas. Nineteen subjects who exercised on a bicycle ergometer demonstrated a steady fall in intraocular pressure as physical exhaustion was approached. The fall continued for at least two hours post-exercise (American Journal of Ophthalmology 63: 1173-1176, June 1967).

Exercise for Painful Menstruation

Many women are plagued by cramps, headache, and backache with their menstrual periods. Dr. L. J. Golub, Assistant Professor of Ob-Gyn at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pa. reports an effective exercise for the relief of these symptoms. The woman stands with feet approximately 15 inches apart, and arms straight out at shoulder height. The trunk is twisted to the left, bent downward, and the woman touches the floor in front of the left foot with her right hand. After returning to starting position, she repeats the exercise to the right side. On each repetition of the exercise she should attempt to reach farther outside the opposite foot and more toward the heel. The exercise should be repeated four times daily for the first week, and gradually increased until 3 total, of ten repetitions is done daily. The feet are kept flat, in place, and knees kept straight throughout the exercise. Dr. Golub cautions women not to start the exercises during a period of dysmenorrhea. He suggests that they be begun after a period, and then may be continued through subsequent periods. The exercise stimulates circulation, increases muscle tone, and improves flexibility. Some women have relief with the next period, but most report relief only after several months (Journal of the Association for Physical and Mental Rehabilitation 18:97-109, July-August 1964).

Walking During Labor

Walking during labor can be beneficial to both mother and fetus according to a British study. Women who walked had shorter labors, required less pain medication, and the fetus was in better condition at the time of birth. Apgar scores of babies whose mothers had been allowed to walk were higher, at both one and five minutes, and there were fewer fetal heart abnormalities (British Medical Journal 2:591-593, 1978).

High Protein Diet/Calcium Loss

Men who were given a high protein diet demonstrated an increased loss of calcium in a University of Wisconsin at Madison study (Medical Tribune, March 14, 1973).


Patients who die of cancer, particularly carcinoma of the colon, breast, or ovary, or lymphoma or leukemia, are twice as likely as the normal population to have had an appendectomy. In most cases studied the appendix had been removed during childhood or early adulthood. Up until about the age of 30, the appendix is richly endowed with lymphoid tissue, which researchers feel may be an antibody producing tissue. For this reason, Dr. Howard R. Bierman, director of the Institute for Cancer and Blood Diseases at Loma Linda University School of Medicine suggested that persons who had their appendix removed (for other than acute disease) before the age of 30 be more carefully watched for signs of cancer.

Dr. Bierman reported that 42% of the persons in his study dying of cancer of the colon had undergone appendectomy, as had 62% of those dying with cancer of the breast, and 84% of those dying with cancer of the ovary. The average age for appendectomy was 27; the average age at death was 55 years (Medical World News, March 18, 1966, p. 108).

Douches/Cervical Cancer

A significant increase in risk of cervical cancer is associated with an increase in frequency of vaginal douches according to a Buffalo, New York study. Some 49.4% of patients diagnosed as having cervical cancer had used douches for 25 or more years, compared to 32.5% of controls. About 49% of the patients and 34% of the controls reported at least weekly douching. In the oldest and youngest age groups there was a clear increase in risk as douching frequency increased. In the middle age group, risk for those never douching or douching less than once a month was 1.0, rose to 1.40 for those douching one to three times a month, and to 2.13 for those douching once a week or more often. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 63:23-27, July 1979)

Oral Contraceptives/Microcirculation

Women taking oral contraceptives demonstrated a change in the tiny blood vessels of the retina (Obstetrics and Gynecology 39(6):909, June 1972).

Vitamin B-15

Dichloroacetate, an ingredient commonly found in commercial preparations of pangamic acid ("B-15") has been shown to be mutagenic. Pangamic acid is not a vitamin, and has not been evaluated for safety or efficacy (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 33:1179-1182, June 1980).

Intrauterine Devices/Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

The use of intrauterine devices (IUDs) doubles the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease in women. Dr. S. Osser studied 690 patients who had been hospitalized for acute salpingitis. He reported that the mean interval between insertion of the IUD and the development of pelvic inflammatory disease was ten months. Dr. Osser feels that the use of IUDs "may be of serious concern to those who wish to retain their fertility" (Infectious Diseases, October 1980, p. 16).

Early Menarche/High Abortion Rate Women who begin menstruation at a young age appear to have unusually high rates of spontaneous abortion. In a study of over 1000 women, those who began menstruation at or before 12 years of age showed spontaneous abortion rates 1.5 to 2 times greater than those who began menstruation at age 14 or older (American Journal of Epidemiology 111:753-758, 1980).

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