Counseling Sheet

Science/Health Abstracts #3

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine


Cholesterol cholelithiasis (gallstones) could be prevented by increasing dietary fiber according to Dr. Roderick M. McCougall, of the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine in Edmonton, Canada. Eight of nine gallstone patients had a biliary cholesterol return to normal after four weeks of consuming an all bran cereal (50 g/day) in addition to their regular diet. The remaining patient had a significant decrease in his biliary cholesterol saturation. The bran decreased intestinal transit time, increasing the excretion of cholesterol and bile acids (Internal Medicine News, May 1, 1978, p. 18).


Breast-fed infants are at an advantage biochemically and immunologically over those bottle-fed. The human infant is relatively immature at the time of birth; only 25% of its mature brain weight is present at birth. After birth, the phase of most rapid growth continues and nutritional requirements are essential. Taurine, probably of importance in brain development, is two times more abundant in breast milk than in cow's milk (Medical Tribune, October 5, 1977).


The author reports numerous cases of blood in the urine in patients who drink soda pop. He tells of two patients who underwent complete urological workup including cultures, cystoscopy with retrograde pyelogram and cultures from each ureter, with normal results. In both cases the bloody urine stopped on the third day of hospitalization. The author learned that the two men had identical jobs - checking soft drink bottles for foreign material. When they became thirsty they would take a bottle of soda pop off the line and drink it. The author states that since that time he has seen many similar cases of this nature (Journal of the American Medical Association 239(3):193, January 16, 1978).


Urinary tract infection in some children may be due to constipation. Apparently fecal retention can produce a "functional" bladder neck obstruction. The full rectum produces displacement of the bladder and posterior urethra, probably causing urinary stasis and interference with passage of urine. The uterus may contribute to the problem in girls. In 36 of 45 children whose abnormal bowel habits were corrected, cure or improvement in urinary tract symptoms resulted. There was recurrence of the urinary tract problems in those children whose constipation was not corrected (Pediatrics 52:241-245, 1973).


Work may lead to improvement in anorexia nervosa and weight gain if the patient wants to work and enjoys employment (Ohio State Medical Journal 65:1107-1109, 1969).


Many elderly stroke patients report having eaten an unusually large meal just prior to their stroke. Dr. Otto Appenzeller, associate professor of neurology and medicine at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque believes that there may be a loss of vasomotor control after a large meal, and that a change in posture produces a significant fall in blood pressure which decreases blood flow in a part of the brain perhaps already diseased, leading to infarction. The elderly person's ability to adjust to the sudden blood pressure change may be inhibited by hypersecretion of insulin with its resultant unfavorable effect on baroreceptor reflexes, in response to the glucose from a high carbohydrate meal (Medical World News, October 3, 1969, p. 13-14).


Nonsmoking women exposed to their husband's cigarette smoke have a much higher incidence of lung cancer than nonsmoking women married to nonsmoking men. The risk of nonsmoking wives was one-half to one-third that of women who smoke. The risk of lung cancer in women whose husbands smoked 2 or more packs a day was 2.08 times higher than those with nonsmoking husbands, while those whose husband smoked 1-19 cigarettes daily had a risk 1.61 times greater than nonsmokers. A study of 346 women who died of lung cancer over a 14-year period revealed an annual lung cancer death rate of 8.7 per 100,000 when the husband smoked only occasionally or not at all, 14 per 100,000 when they were ex-smokers or used less than 20 cigarettes daily, and 18.1 per 100,000 when the husbands smoked 20 or more cigarettes daily (Medical World News, February 16, 1981, page 17, 19; Science News 119(4):53, January 24, 1981; Physician's Washington Report 3(8):5, February, 1981).


A double-blind study of allergies in rheumatoid arthritis patients suggests that environmental and nutritional factors play a role in connective tissue disorders. Of 30 patients with rheumatic symptoms, 86% showed rheumatic symptoms in response to challenges. A single patient sometimes had a musculoskeletal allergic reaction to as many as 10 tested extracts. Many of the patients also demonstrated nervous, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and vascular system reactions. Soy was reported to be the most common symptom-producing substance with coffee, egg, milk, and sugar following. A smaller group reacted to apple, beef, lettuce, and orange, and half of the group showed an unfavorable reaction to alcohol, pork, potato, tobacco, and yeast (American Family Physician, February 1981, p. 237, 241; Medical World News, March 31, 1980, p. 16, 18).


Toxemia of pregnancy which can result in the death of both mother and fetus is characterized by high blood pressure, fluid retention, and excessive protein in the urine. Researchers at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama have shown that a high intake of dietary fat may play a role in the development of this severe disease. The daily diet of 65 pregnant women during the last three months of their pregnancies was studied and those who developed preeclampsia were shown to consume significantly more cholesterol and fat-containing foods. The women who developed toxemia were also shown to reuse their cooking oil several times, some as often as 20 times (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 32:1902-1911, 1979).


Methylxanthines found in coffee, tea, colas and chocolate have been shown to be mildly antithyroid and strongly goitrogenic in laboratory animals (Endocrinology 85:410, 1969).

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