Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit

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Health News: Research-based Findings on Diseases Declining / Cures & Chronic Diseases

Health News: Diseases Declining / Cures / Effective Treatments | Health News: Challenging Chronic Diseases, Effective Treatments & Coping Strategies

Diseases Decline

Measles deaths globally are down 60 percent from 1999 to 2005: The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that measles is a leading cause of vaccine preventable childhood mortality. Worldwide, the fatality rate has been significantly reduced by partners in the Measles Initiative: the American Red Cross, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). Deaths have dropped from an estimated 873,000 in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005. Africa has witnessed the most success, with annual measles deaths falling by 75 percent in just 5 years, from an estimated 506,000 to 126,000. The measles vaccination campaigns have contributed to the reduction of child deaths from other causes as well and have become a channel for delivery of other life-saving interventions,such as bed nets to protect against malaria, vitamin A supplements and de-worming medicine. All such efforts combined aim for a two-thirds reduction in child deaths between 19990 and 2015.

Decrease in reported Tuberculosis cases in 2009 is documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): A March 2010 report said, "Every year, CDC reports results from the National TB Surveillance System for the previous year. For 2009, a total of 11,540 tuberculosis (TB) cases were reported in the United States. The TB rate was 3.8 cases per 100,000 population, a decrease of 11.4% from the rate of 4.2 per 100,000 reported for 2008. The 2009 rate showed the greatest single-year decrease ever recorded and was the lowest recorded rate since national TB surveillance began in 1953." A similar report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene dated March 2009 states that the number of TB cases reached its fifth consecutive record low in New York City in 2008. The American Lung Association in California reported in March 208 that statewide in California TB cases decreased, while TB cases increased in 22 local California health jurisdictions.

Sickle cell disease effectively reversed in 9 of 10 adults severely affected by the disease using a blood stem-cell transplant regimen according to research results released in December 2009 and reported by the National Institute of Health (NIH): "This trial represents a major milestone in developing a therapy aimed at curing sickle cell disease," said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers M.D., a co-author of the paper. "Our modified transplant regimen changes the equation for treating adult patients with severe disease in a safer, more effective way." This new method of treatment that allows the patients' immune systems to safely accept the transplanted stem cells combined with an immune-suppressing drug may offer a complete reversal of the disease in adults. In the United States, approximately 80,000 people have sickle cell disease, found mainly in people of African ancestry. It occurs to a lesser extent in people of Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Asian and white ancestry. Patients with sickle cell disease have a genetic mutation that results in defective crescent-shaped red blood cells. Severe disease causes stroke, severe pain, and often fatal damage to major organs. Millions of people worldwide have sickle cell disease.

Mother & Child: Mortality and Infections Decline

Maternal deaths in sharp decline across the globe from 1980 to 2008: April 2010 report in the medical journal The Lancet found that for the first time in decades researchers are reporting a significant drop worldwide in the number of women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, to about 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980! Reasons cited include lower pregnancy rates in some countries; higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more education for women; and the increasing availability of "skilled attendants"—people with some medical training—to help women give birth. Improvements in large countries like India and China helped drive down the overall death rates, while six countries accounted for more than half of all maternal deaths: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Child Mortality rate or under-5 mortality rate, per thousand live births, continues to drop since 1990: UNICEF reported that child mortality rate worldwide dropped by a third from 1990 to 2009—UNICEF reported in September 2010 that the total number of under-five deaths decreased globally from 12.4 million per year in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009. As a result, 12,000 fewer children are dying each day throughout the world compared to 1990. An excerpt from Wikipedia: "In 2009, the world average was 60 (6.0%), down from 68 (6.8%) in 2007, and 89 (8.9%) in 1990. In 2006, the average in developing countries was 79 (down from 103 in 1990), whereas the average in industrialized countries was 6 (down from 10 in 1990). One in eight children in Sub-Saharan Africa die before their fifth birthday. The biggest improvement between 1990 and 2006 was in Latin America and the Caribbean, which cut their child mortality rates by 50%. The world's child mortality rate has dropped by over 60% since 1960."

Childhood ear infections dramatically declines, possibly because of fewer parents smoking and less second hand smoke, research released in March 2011 shows: Health researchers state that over the last 15 years, the rate of childhood ear infections has fallen by as much as 30 percent, a fact the researchers state is because more parents are choosing not to smoke around their kids.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Misconstrued

Misdiagnosis of "shaken baby syndrome": More than a 1,000 babies a year in the United States are given the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. Increasingly it appears that a good number of the people charged with and convicted of homicide may be innocent. It turns out that the triad of symptoms--retinal hemorrhages, bleeding around the brain and brain swelling--may have multiple causes (e.g., bleeding in the brain may be from a fall, an infection, an illness like sickle-cell anemia or birth trauma). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome be discarded and replaced with "abusive head injury," which does not imply that only shaking may have caused the injury. Even with a shift in scientific consensus, debate about the legitimacy of this diagnosis continues. A comprehensive study seems warranted to resolve areas of disagreement. In essence, prosecutors, judges and juries need exercise greater skepticism since the triad of symptoms alone cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an infant has been fatally shaken.

Actual 455-page report (PDF):

Smoking Cigarettes Declines / Secondhand Smoke is Dangerous

Four decades-Long U.S. decrease in rate of cigarette smoking shows a cut by half for Americans: As of March 2006, federal government data showed that Americans smoked fewer cigarettes in 2005 than at any time since 1951. Smoking rates according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November 2007 states that about 20.8 percent of American adults are smokers, with 80 percent of them (36.3 million people) smoking every day and the rest smoking on some days. Gallup found rates of smoking continuing to slowly fall, from 25% in 2001 to 21% as of 2008. As of November 2008, the percentage of Americans who smoke cigarettes has fallen below 20%, specifically 19.8%, and nearly 1 in 5 Americans still smoke cigarettes. Adult smoking rates declined more than 15 percent from 1997 to 2004, but have plateaued and unchanged since. Apparently the relatively unchanged price of cigarettes since 2002 is considered important to understand this phenomenon because more people stop smoking because of cost than for any other single reason. Other links document the harmful effects of tobacco.

Disturbing news was released in April 2011 showing that secondhand smoke is linked to kids' psychological (mental) symptoms including depression, anxiety and ADHD.

Hepatitis "C" Cure

Hepatitis 'C' cure called "biggest breakthrough ever": Each year 170,000 new cases of hepatitis C are diagnosed in Americans and now a combination of drugs used to treat the liver destroying disease is promising a possible cure. In June 2011 a new pharmaceutical drug "Incivek" has been just approved by the F.D.A. that nearly doubles the cure rate, according to worldwide clinical trials, much of which took place at Alamo Medical Research in San Antonio, Texas showing over the last six years that eight out of ten Hepatitis C patients who took the medication "Incivek" were cured and this medication treatment shortens treatment time! Another medication also was strongly endorsed from an FDA advisory panel for treating Hepatitis C. One link below explores whether there is a natural Hepatitis cure.

Down Syndrome 100% Detection

Blood test predicts with 100 percent accuracy for Down Syndrome and could replace amniocentesis in detecting this chromosomal disorder: A March 2011 research reports the development of a new blood test to detect Down Syndrome administered in the 11th week of pregnancy that predicts with 100 percent accuracy whether or not the baby will be born with an extra chromosome 21 and may have a significant impact on prenatal testing and decrease the use of invasive amniocentesis procedure in pregnant women. Researchers say the new test is more accurate, less invasive, and less risky than the current method, called an amniocentesis. Down Syndrome affects about one in about 700 to 800 births. Read more and watch the accompanying video about the concerns Down Syndrome families have about the new prenatal tests. An earlier report in January 2011 provided further evidence that a blood test of the pregnant woman was able to accurately detect all 86 fetuses with Down Syndrome in 753 pregnant women deemed to be at high-risk due to previous screening test results looking at other blood markers. Doctors seem in agreement that this development can be a game-changer in early detection of Down Syndrome.

Video: aolnews.com/2011/03/08/prenatal-blood-test-to-detect-down-syndrome-video/

Diabetes I and II Cures

High levels of vitamin D may prevent heart disease and diabetes according to researchers: Researchers at Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom reviewed 28 previous medical studies of nearly 100,000 people and found that high levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome in a February 2010 study. Middle aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D could reduce their chances of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes by 43 percent! A related study from January 2008 showed that a lack of vitamin D may increase heart disease risk.

Health News: Diseases Declining / Cures / Effective Treatments | Health News: Challenging Chronic Diseases, Effective Treatments & Coping Strategies

Heart / Cardiovascular Research

Calcium supplements increase heart attack risk by 30% and also ups stroke and mortality risk in a July 2010 meta-analysis: Authors recommend a re-evaluation of whether patients with osteoporosis should generally be treated with calcium supplements.

U.S. deaths from heart disease and stroke dropped about 25% from 1999 to 2005, which translates into 160,000 fewer deaths in 2005 and an estimated 36% drop in heart disease deaths and a 34% drop in stoke deaths compared with 1999. Having sex twice a week reduces chance of heart attack by almost half!

High levels of vitamin D may prevent heart disease and diabetes according to researchers: Researchers at Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom reviewed 28 previous medical studies of nearly 100,000 people and found that high levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome in a February 2010 study. Middle aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D could reduce their chances of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes by 43 percent! A related study from January 2008 showed that a lack of vitamin D may increase heart disease risk.

Heart-attack risk about triples in the hours after exercise and within two hours of having sex, research results released in April 2011 show: At the same time, the overall likelihood of having a heart attack after working out or making love is still quite low—on the order of 3 in 1,000,000, as opposed to 1 in 1,000,000. The study also found that the study participants who were more physically active appeared to be less susceptible to a heart attack following intercourse or a workout. So stay in shape, enjoy both exercise and making love, and live a little, very low risks and all.

Cancer Research Results / Effective Treatments

Cancer mortality rates for all U.S. age groups, especially among young, has declined steadily over the last three decades according to an August 2009 review. A March 2011 annual report published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that for the first time in four decades, lung cancer deaths have begun to decline in women and this follows a similar decline in men by about 10 years. Overall, cancer incidence rates fell about 1% per year and cancer deaths by about 1.6% per year from 2003 to 2007.

Dogs can detect cancer with high sensitivity and specificity, even early cancer, according to research released in January 2011. Canine olfactory detection of cancer has been reported for melanoma as well as bladder, lung, breast and ovarian cancer.

Dogs can be successfully trained to sniff out bladder cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and diabetes: Several research findings have emerged to indicate that dogs, due to their strong scenting/smelling ability, are capable of detecting cancer and diabetes. Also check out the article and video from the program 60 Minutes.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy reduces symptoms in cancer patients: A 2010 research study found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) decreased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and distress along with clinically significant increases in quality of life in the MBCT group relative to the control group. This study was the first to evaluate the effectiveness of MBCT for these variables. Further, the effect sizes associated with MBCT were larger than those reported for other intervention studies with cancer patients, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and supportive counseling provided to individuals with medication.

Cancer Survivors—United States, 2007: 1 in 20 in U.S. is a cancer survivor given advances in early detection and treatment such that cancer has become a curable disease for some and a chronic illness for others, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in a March 2011 report. From 1971 to 2001, the number of cancer survivors in the United States increased from 3.0 million to 9.8 million, while from 2001 to 2007 the number of cancer survivors in the U.S. increased from 9.8 million to 11.7 million. Additionally 65% survive beyond 5 years of a cancer diagnosis with 60% of survivors were above age 65. Breast, prostate and colorectal cancers were the most common types of cancer among survivors accounting for 51% of diagnoses.

Cancer is likely a man-made disease caused primarily by toxic overload related to environmental- and lifestyle factors, according to research findings presented in March 2011 by medical doctor, Dr. Mercola who offers 6 significant risk factors, 3 cancer advancements (i.e., taking Vitamin D regularly, optimizing your insulin levels and exercise) and 12 preventative tips for a cancer-free life: During the last 40 years cancer rates have increased and now surpass heart disease as the biggest killer of Americans. Well worth your perusal.

More migraines, less breast cancer—Studies published in 208 and 2009 found that women being treated for migraines have a 26% to 33% lower risk of breast cancer than other women, seemingly associated with the role of estrogen as well as people with migraines tend to avoid key triggers of smoking, drinking alcohol and taking hormone-replacement therapy (al risk factors for breast cancer) and use pain medications aspirin and ibuprofen (associated with lower breast cancer risk). A January 2010 study published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that people who experience migraines were 11% less likely to develop breast cancer overall and 17% less likely to develop a hormone-sensitive breast cancer.

A continuing decrease in breast cancer mortality rates, but not for all women

Women reduce risk of breast cancer by eating less and exercising more: March 2010 talk by Carlo La Vecchia, head of epidemiology at the University of Milan, cited figures from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which estimated that 25 to 30 percent of breast cancer cases could be avoided if women were thinner and exercised more. Apparently many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue. Experts suspect that the more overweight a woman is, the more estrogen she's likely to produce, which could in turn spark breast cancer. Even in slim women, exercise can help reduce the risk of cancer by converting more of the body's fat into muscle. Drinking less alcohol would also help given that experts estimate that having a couple of drinks a day can boost a woman's risk of getting breast cancer by 4 to 10 percent. Other links provide clear preventative measures you can take to lower risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer patients with early-stage disease, known as T1 or T2 tumors--about 20 percent of breast-cancer patients—can get less surgery, according to research study results released in February 2011: Those receiving standard surgery, radiation and chemo as well as extensive underarm node removal when compared with those who had only the sentinel nodes removed had five-year survival rates of about 92percent and equally similar no recurrence of cancer at that point (83.9% versus 82.2%, a statistically insignificant difference. In other words, women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer disease can now be offered the option of not having their underarm lymph nodes removed, even if they contain cancer.

Death rates for melanoma, the most severe skin cancer, has been declining for 20 years for people under age 50: Skin cancer is remarkably treatable when caught early—A dermatologist can use liquid nitrogen chilled to 320 degrees below zero to freeze and kill patches of dry, potentially cancerous cells, mainly basal and squamous cells. Going to your dermatologist can be a fine investment in your health, especially for the boomer generation who exposed themselves to the sun in the 1980's (before strong sunblocks were available). According to a New York Times article in May 2010, Melanoma for men over age 50 has the highest increase in death rate, 3.2 percent a year since 2002, with the highest annual increase among white men over 65, 8.8 percent a year since 2003. Skin cancer is one of the most treatable cancers when caught early. Over the last 25 years, there has been steady progress in reducing death rates of skin cancer. The five-year survival rate for melanomas has improved from 82 percent in the mid-'70's to 87 percent in the mid-'80's and to 92 percent by the mid-2000's! Early detection is vital!! For perspective and comparison: in 2009, 11,590 people died of skin cancer, greater then the number of people who died of stomach cancer (10,620) and less than those who died from pancreatic cancer (35,240), breast cancer (40,610) and, the biggest number of all cancers, lung cancer (159,390). Nearly twice as many men as women die of skin cancer every year. When a melanoma is removed while still confined to the skin, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent; if spread to the lymph system or blood, the survival rates drops to 65 percent; and if it has reached the organs, 15 percent. Prevention and early detection are key.


Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease & Multiple Sclerosis: Reducing the Risk

Reducing the risk of dementia: A February 2010 report shared the results of a BBC-convened panel of independent experts, chaired by the Alzheimer's Society, which evaluated more than 70 research papers and articles to come up with a series of tips for reducing the risk of dementia. Additional links share further action steps, including taking vitamin D, regular dancing, brushing your teeth, developing long term relationships and eating fish, to reduce dementia risk. Beyond these lifestyle choices, additional ones include have coffee (!), floss, Google, grow new brain cells (e.g., aerobic exercise daily, strenuous mental activity, eating salmon and other fatty fish, restrict saturated fats, keep cholesterol normal, and avoid obesity, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, heavy drinking and vitamin B deficiency), drink apple juice, protect your head from head injuries (e.g., wear seat belts and helmets, fall-proof your house, and don't take unnecessary risks), meditate, fill your brain with a rich accumulation of life experiences (e.g., education, marriage, socializing, a stimulating job, language skills, having a purpose in life, physical activity, and mentally demanding leisure activities), and avoid common infections. Given that 25% of us have the Alzheimer's gene, for about $200 a simple blood test can inform you if you carry the major Alzheimer's gene. It is possible that people who carry the gene would be safer if they knew their susceptibility and could take extra precautions. A study released in May 2010 found that adults whose spouse has Alzheimer's or another form of dementia face an increased six-fold risk of developing dementia themselves. Specifically, after adjusting for a number of factors, the researchers found that people with a spouse who developed dementia were six times more likely to develop dementia themselves than people whose spouse never had dementia, with men having a higher risk than women and older age being significantly associated with dementia risk. Research results released in October 2010 support that bilingualism may build a stronger, more resilient brain and delay the onset of symptoms of dementia by an average of four years.

A July 2010 report of research examining the brains of 872 people substantiated the consistent finding over the past decade that the more time you spend in education, the lower the risk of dementia, those with more education are better able to compensate for the effects of dementia, and further that for each additional year of education there is an 11% decrease in risk of developing dementia. A July 2010 study shows depression may nearly double the risk of developing dementia.

A december 2010 research article in the Archives of Neurology found that higher HDL (Good) cholesterol levels associated with 60% less Alzheimer's risk in older individuals!

Parkinson's disease protection may come with taking the painkiller Advil: A new six-year longitudinal study released in February 2011 found that people who took ibuprofen (found in Advil) three or more times per week were 38 percent (some reports round this number up to 40 percent) less likely to develop the debilitating disease.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS): May 2011 research findings show that low levels of sunlight, coupled with glandular fever, could increase your risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). The BBC News in April 2011 reported: "The researchers found that just by analyzing sunlight, they could explain 61 percent of the variation in the number of MS cases across England. However when they combined the effects of sunlight and glandular fever, 72 percent of the variation of MS cases could be explained." The researchers conclude that the effect of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) on generating vitamin D seemed a most likely candidate for explaining its relationship with MS. They further conclude that UVB and infectious mononucleosis (IM) together can explain a substantial proportion of the variation of MS.

A July 2010 New York Times Magazine lead article "The End of Forgetting" presents the impossibility of erasing your posted past and moving on, although software is in the works to make internet postings time-limited before expiring and being erased.


HIV / AIDS: Some good news---San Francisco's aggressive new policy recommending everyone diagnosed with HIV start treatment immediately could dramatically cut the rate of new infections if widely accepted by patients and doctors, according to a new study by researchers fro UCSF and the San Francisco Department of Public Health that was released in mid-April 2011. The infection rate among men who have sex with men could be lowered by more than 60 percent over the next eight years if everyone diagnosed with an HIV infection began taking antiviral drugs right away, instead of waiting for signs of a weakened immune system. More good news about HIV care in the United States is that treatment costs are not prohibitive. Other links provide what uplifting news is available on HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment.

Prevent HIV infection in heterosexuals with a daily pill containing the medication Truvada, according to the July 2011 results of two studies: One study showed a 73% lower chance of getting infected, while the other showed a 63% lower risk of infection. These studies follow a November 2010 study showing that men who took Truvada daily were 44% less likely to be infected.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: It can be reduced with exercise and psychological therapy, according to results from a February 2011 study---Results of a randomized study support that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) can be effective treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome. Other links provide information and treatment approaches to address Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.


Tinnitus: Researchers explore new treatments to silence the persistent din of Tinnitus—Some 50 million Americans at least occasionally and 16 million U.S. adults frequently experience tinnitus, a persistent hearing of a high-pitched buzzing sound, although it has also been described as a ringing, roaring, hissing, chirping, whooshing or wheezing sound. Apparently the incidence is rising along with the aging of the population and listening to personal music players at high volume. While people with Tinnitus usually are told that there is no cure for tinnitus, new treatment options are showing encouraging results. For example, 40% of people with tinnitus find relief with a regular hearing aid that restores sound in lost frequencies. Other alternatives are the Oasis device by Neuromonics Inc., taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, ginkgo,zinc, magnesium and other supplements, a new magnetic pulse treatment called repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) along with cognitive behavioral therapy (cited as one of the most effective treatments).


Epilepsy and frequency of seizures responds well to a diet that strictly reduces the amount of carbohydrates while increasing the amount of fats, research released in November 2010 shows: Epileptics on this diet seemingly tricks the body into a starvation state in which it burns fats, instead of carbs, for the fuel of living. This process is called ketosis and it has an antiepileptic effect. There is some speculation that this approach could be used to treat seizures in adults and could be applied to people who have Parkeinson's, Alzheimer's, A.L.S. and certain cancers. Most who respond well on this ketogenic diet stay on it for about two years, although some children who started in infancy were on the diet for more than five years. The New York Times article says: "Typically the diet is stopped at one of three junctures: when children have been seizure- free for two years; when they outgrow their seizures, as about 60 percent do; or when families decide the sacrifices required to stay on the diet have become too onerous."

George Demont Otis     Path Through The Trees

© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.

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