RESEARCH: SSRIs MAY BE LINKED TO BREAST & OVARIAN CANCER
A meta-analysis of 61 studies that looked at the relationship between cancer and antidepressant use shows a “small but statistically significant” increase in the risk for breast and ovarian cancer in women who use selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Study author, Lisa Cosgrove, PhD, and her Harvard University colleagues also found that researchers with industry affiliations were significantly less likely than researchers without industry ties to conclude that antidepressants increase the risk for breast or ovarian cancer. The study was published online April 6 in PLoS ONE.
RESEARCH: INCREASED RISK OF STROKE WITH ANTIDEPRESSANTS
Not only does depression increase our risk of stroke, but new evidence reported in the current issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, associates antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), with raising the risk of having a stroke. A growing body of evidence suggests that SSRIs may induce bleeding complications and vasoconstriction of the large cerebral arteries, which can result in ischemic stroke.
Researchers at Taiwan University studied 24,214 patients with stroke who were enrolled in the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan from 1998 to 2007. Antidepressant use in the 2 weeks before the stroke was associated with nearly a 50% higher risk for stroke. Previous use of SSRIs did not increase the stroke risk.
It is safe to assume that even if you have taken an antidepressant in the past, if you are not currently taking an SSRI you do not have to be concerned about your past use. However, having this information may be useful in helping you make a decision about how to treat your depressed mood, particularly if you have never taken an antidepressant before. The study authors found that the stroke risk appears to be dose related and higher in the first few prescriptions rather than in long-term usage. They recommend starting antidepressants at low dosages and closely monitoring the side effects for initial prescriptions.
You may wish to explore natural alternatives like yoga and diet before taking medication, especially if you have other risk factors for cerebrovascular events or if this is your first prescription for an SSRI. In fact, please read the next article that gives further credence to yoga as a prophylactic treatment for stroke and its accompanying side effect of depression.
RESEARCH: YOGA REDUCES IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT & MAY HELP PREVENT STROKE
Researchers from the University of Kansas Hospital have found that three yoga classes a week can help reduce episodes of irregular heartbeat by almost half and improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression often associated with atrial fibrillation. (Atrial fibrillation is a major cause of stroke, so reducing its occurrence may save lives.)
The 49 patients with atrial fibrillation, ages 25 – 70, were new to the practice of yoga. For three months, they were encouraged to continue any type of physical activity they were previously accustomed to doing. The next three months, the patients participated in a supervised yoga program consisting of pranayama breathing exercises, yoga postures, meditation and relaxation. Participants were also given an educational yoga DVD and encouraged to practice at home every day.
The researchers found that the three-month yoga intervention not only reduced the number of episodes of irregular heartbeat among atrial fibrillation patients, but that yoga also reduced self-reported depression and anxiety scores and improved quality of life scores in the areas of physical functioning, general health, vitality, social functioning and mental health.
According to the study’s lead author, Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, M.D, “There are currently no proven complementary therapies that are known to help decrease the symptoms of atrial fibrillation in a noninvasive fashion with minimal side effects and reasonable safety and efficacy.” Most treatments are surgically invasive or have unwanted side effects. The only side effects associated with yoga are positive changes as evidenced in the improved quality of life scores after the yoga intervention.
“These findings are important,” Dr. Lakkireddy says, “because many of the current conventional treatment strategies for atrial fibrillation include invasive procedures or medications with undesirable side effects.”
RESEARCH: MEDITATION REDUCES PAIN
Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that with only 80 minutes of a form of mindfulness meditation called “focused attention” participants felt 57% less pain than when previously subjected to the same stimulus – 120 degree heat on their calves. The study appears in the April 6 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Not only did subjects report that the sensation was less unpleasant, but their brains registered the same stimulus differently after four meditation sessions of twenty minutes each. Brain scans conducted during the pain experiments showed that meditation appeared to cause a number of changes in how the somatosensory cortex, which contains a kind of map of the body, responded.
Before meditation training, the area corresponding to the right calf was quite active when the heat was applied to the volunteers. There was little activity in this region when heat was applied while they were meditating. This suggest, says the lead author Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., that “meditation reduces pain by reducing the actual sensation.” Previously, the assumption has been that meditation helps mitigate the effects of pain by helping us handle it better–from a more relaxed and allowing place, with less constriction around it. What this study shows is that while our previous assumption of meditation’s effects are still likely true, that meditation may, in addition, actually change the nature of the pain before we are aware of it. The end result is that our perception of its unpleasantness is reduced.
RESEARCH: EMOTIONAL PAIN REGISTERS AS PHYSICAL PAIN IN THE BRAIN
It seems that it’s not even good science to separate the mind and body! I mention this research here, not because it is yoga related, but because it vividly validates the connection of mind and body–a connection that yogis have understood for thousands of years.
In a study that appeared this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Edward E. Smith, director of cognitive neuroscience at Columbia University, and his colleagues had 40 people with recent romantic breakups look at a picture of their ex while thinking of the breakup. The same areas of the brain were triggered that let us know of “real” physical pain. According to Dr. Smith, this makes “heartbreak truly, physically painful to add to the emotional distress it causes.”
Previous research by Kipling Williams and his associates at Purdue and discussed by Williams in the January/February issue of Scientific American Mind shows that social ostracism (feeling left out, or getting the silent treatment from someone you care about) affects the physical pain centers of the brain. The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the insula light up, showing strong physical reaction as well as emotional pain. In another experiment at the University of Kentucky, Nathan DeWall and his colleagues gave subjects Tylenol twice a day for three weeks before subjecting them to the social ostracism experiment. The subjects had less activity in those areas of the brain and in a parallel experiment the same dosage of Tylenol as compared to placebo showed reduction in distress and hurt feelings from social rejection.
REVIEW by Rose Kress
The Yoga Body Diet: Slim and Sexy in 4 Weeks (Without Stress)
by Kristen Schultz Dollard and John Douillard, DC, PhD
The Yoga Body Diet
Weight loss is often a stressful striving to change what we see in the mirror. At one point or another, we have all pushed ourselves to the point of exhaustion only to get on the scale and not see any difference. In this book, Dollard and Douillard, offer a safe and easy alternative. This book is not about changing the number on the scale, rather it is about creating a positive change in our bodies that leads to greater health. This book and this plan is “about you and your connection with your body-mind.”
Dollard and Douillard create an easy to read and understand combination of Yoga and Ayurveda (Indian Medicine). Ayurveda, meaning the science of life, plays a very prominent role in this book. Here you will take a test to determine your body type and then tailor the program to meet your body’s specific needs using recipes for your type and yoga practices for your type.
Successful practices and changes in life can be characterized by what we cultivate, rather than what we eliminate. Instead of asking the reader to stop doing certain behaviors, the authors encourage cultivating a positive quality–in yoga we call this Bhavana. For instance, during Week 1 of the four-week program, called “Teach Your Body to Burn Fat Again,” the reader is asked to change how to eat. Calming breathing techniques are introduced. Every week, positive changes are made to replace detrimental habits.
The authors include diet and shopping lists for each type; a plethora of recipes; 30, 60 and 90 minute yoga practices for each type; a yoga pose and pictorial guide; and the all important maintenance plan–when the four weeks are up, ways in which you can maintain your success.
Even if you do not need to ‘lose’ weight, I recommend this book as a motivational tool to support a healthy you.
REVIEW by Rose Kress
Colorado Cleanse: 2 Week Detox and Digestion Boot Camp by John Douillard, DC, PhD Colorado Cleanse
Another important aspect in our personal health is cleansing. Dr. Douillard shares that we have moved away from a seasonal diet because we can get whatever we want at anytime of the year–granted those mangoes may not be very ripe or very inexpensive. Our bodies are designed to eat seasonally, and up until the last 100 years or so they did. During the winter, one would naturally eat hardy foods that fatten us up to keep us warm during the winter. Then as spring comes we would move to eating foods that cleanse the body of the meats and fats we had been munching on all winter. But who does that anymore?
Douillard believes that we need to detox our bodies on a regular basis to maintain and support our optimal health, while at the same time, we also need to restore the ‘natural detoxification pathways’ that are built into our system. The best way to do this would be a panchakarma, an Ayurvedic cleanse, but that is not always available. An easier alternative is the 2 week cleanse in this book.
Colorado Cleanse begins with General Cleansing Guidelines. These guidelines are to be followed throughout the cleanse and you are encouraged to continue these guidelines for up to a month after your cleanse. The purpose of this plan is for “strengthening digestion, de-stagnating the lymphatic system and balancing fat metabolism and blood sugar.” The next step is the Four Day Pre-Cleanse, then the Seven Day Main Cleanse followed by the Three Day Digestive Reset.
This book provides full support for your cleanse, including recipes, frequently asked questions, herbal support, yoga practices, self massage, and success stories. Douillard also includes information on how to get more support if you need it, through his website, www.lifespa.com.
On a personal note, there was not enough time between receiving this book and this newsletter going out for me to do the cleanse. However, I was so inspired by what I read, that I have blocked out a two week period next month so that I can fully cleanse and enjoy this program!