Richard G. Petty, MD

Tomatoes and Prostate Cancer: What to Do? What to Do?

In June a new study on tomato intake and prostate cancer was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention and it really put the cat among the pigeons.

I am sure that you have heard a bit about the studies that seemed to show a protective effect of tomatoes on prostate cancer, and those studies have lead to large advertising campaigns by the manufacturers of the phytochemical lycopene, which is though to be a key component of the protective effect. Lycopene has attracted particular attention because it happens to be concentrated in some of the cells of the prostate gland.

Then along comes this study suggesting that lycopene offered no protection against prostate cancer in a group of 28,000 men.

It is just the latest in a long line of research into the effects of lycopene-containing foods, and as I said, the majority of previous studies have suggested that tomatoes and tomato-based products offer some measure of protection against prostate cancer.

One of the key points that is so often not discussed, is that loading up on any one food or food supplement is not a good idea and certainly not supported by the research. For foods to be effective in humans, they may well have to be in their natural form, and the strongest evidence shows that diets high in a variety of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are associated with lower risk of developing heart disease, cancer and several other problems.

It is certainly true that in the laboratory, tomato components have stopped the proliferation of several types of cancer cells including breast, lung, and endometrium. In animal models, consumption of large amounts of compounds extracted form tomatoes has been linked to large decreases in prostate cancer risk.

The best known study recruited 47,894 men and evaluated their diets for six years. The data showed that those who ate the most tomato products – raw, cooked tomatoes, tomato sauce, pizza and tomato juice – had a 35% lower risk of early prostate cancer and a 53% lower risk of advanced prostate cancer than men who ate the least of these foods.

We are all eagerly awaiting the publication by the American Institute of Cancer Research and its international affiliate organizations on November 1st of this year, of the most comprehensive assessment of the scientific literature on diet, physical activity and cancer risk ever undertaken.

That report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, will synthesize data from thousands of studies and provide guidelines for the public and for the scientific/medical community. It is bound to be controversial, but hopefully it will provide answers to questions about nutrition and cancer that are based on a thorough review of the available science.

(You can find out more about the WCRF/AICR Expert Report here. I am looking forward to reading the report and I shall be taking you through the highlights as soon as I get a copy)

Let me re-iterate one of the principles of Integrated Medicine, that is so very important when considering the impact of nutrition on health:

Combinations are Key for they create a powerful synergy.

Non-pharmacological and Lifestyle Approaches to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: 11. Integrated Medicine

The whole point of Integrated Medicine and Integrated Health is to help the person with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to become integrated as a person by using an integrated approach to treatment. This kind of comprehensive approach is particularly important for many people with ADHD. I also want to re-emphasize that although ADHD is the approved term for the problem, many people, particularly adults, may have little overt evidence of hyperactivity, and they are better thought of as having “ADD.”

Attentional problems come in all shapes and sizes. Some are so mild that people just need to be shown how to use a day planner and implement some time management scheme. Others need a more aggressive and comprehensive approach. Whatever we do has to be individualized to the person with the problem. Not only do we have to match the plan with the person, we also need to match it with his or her belief system.

It is important to recognize that no one approach is likely to work on its own. Medications may be very helpful, but they are only tools to help people get organized so that they can fulfill their potential. And medications are unlikely to be effective unless we also deal with nutrition, posture, breathing, sleep and environmental stress.

It is also essential to realize that ADHD is highly co-morbid: there is evidence of increased rates of physical problems, including disturbances in thyroid function and cell membrane function throughout the body. The rates of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, learning disabilities, tics and Tourette’s, worry, anxiety and mood disorders are all much higher in people with ADHD. So high that until recently, many experts believed that ADHD was a symptom rather than a clearly delineated illness. This overlap is also one of the reasons why some people persist in saying that the diagnosis of ADHD is nothing more than a stigmatizing label for socially unacceptable behavior.


  • Medications
  • Nutrition
  • Posture
  • Exercise
  • Environment

Over the last few weeks we have spent a lot of time looking at some of the options for treating the physical components of the problem. Now let us look at the rest.


  • Find out and work with a person’s interests. ADHD is highly dependent on context. A child or adult may have terrible problems with schoolwork, but be able to play a video game for hours on end
  • There are multiple intelligences: uncover which are of the greatest importance. It is essential for a person to discover their strengths rather than being forced to focus on the weaknesses. Many people with ADHD find that highlighting text in a book can be useful, while others learn by doing
  • People are more likely to follow instructions if they are interesting and emotionally charged
  • Bear in mind that many people have poor self-esteem and others suffer from enormous feelings of regret. This is a particular issue for people who may have reached middle age before being diagnosed. We have seen countless people who feel that they have missed out on life. A man working in construction realized that he could have gone to college thirty years ago if only his ADHD had been diagnosed and treated
  • Teach visualization skills
  • Discover which times of the day are best in terms of attention and alertness
  • Learn some simple relaxation techniques
  • Learn problem-solving skills


  • ADHD can play havoc with relationships. If a child has it, there can be enormous stress on the parents and siblings, all of whom are at higher risk of some features of ADHD themselves. It is essential to help the family with coping skills. ADHD can also put a great deal of stress on a spouse or children. It is also important to know that many people with ADHD have sexual problems that stem from impatience, a low frustration threshold if they cannot have sex when they want it, and real problems with enjoying the moment and taking time to enjoy a romantic interlude. Some people also use sex as a form of self-medication. So it is essential to find out if there are sex or relationship problems and to deal with them, which may need outside help
  • Many people with ADHD are socially awkward and may need to learn some social and communication skills
  • ADHD and social awkwardness can be magnets for bullies, and it is remarkable how many young people with untreated or inadequately treated ADHD have been bullied. Occasionally they become the perpetrators of bullying to compensate for their difficulties. In either case it is important to discover and deal with bullying. It is one of several reasons why some experts have recommended enrolling a child in martial arts classes. Not only can they help with self-defense, but also the discipline of a martial arts class can work wonders for some people with ADHD
  • Role models are important for people with ADHD. It is very helpful, particularly for young people to see that other sufferers have become extremely successful
  • It is also important for parents and other family members to develop and maintain a positive image of the person with ADHD
  • Develop positive yet realistic career and life goals


  • Poor breathing techniques can engender many problems. Learning to breath effectively can have profound physical effects as well as stimulating and balancing the subtle systems of the body
  • As we have seen, although the research base is very small, yoga, t’ai chi ch’uan or qigong can all be very helpful
  • Many people with ADHD are acutely sensitive to “atmosphere:” to the thoughts, feelings and attitudes of other people, and they need specific help to remain grounded and to protect their senses. Some of the flower essences can very helpful for that, as well as some other techniques that we shall be publishing shortly


  • How can there be a spiritual component to ADHD? Some people find it difficult to engage in prayer or meditation because of problems with attention. However, with a little perseverance, we have evidence that some forms of meditation may actually help.
  • Second the rituals of religion can sometimes provide a wonderful anchor for the person who is having a had time with ADHD.
  • Another point is that ADHD is not all bad. Some people who have it become more attuned to nature, animals and to a mystical understanding of the world: an over-reliance on reasoning and linear learning can stifle those perceptions.
  • Some people have suggested that ADHD may for the same reasons unlock a rich vein of creativity that might otherwise never have appeared.

There are plenty of books and websites that portray ADHD as a gift. While I have the greatest respect for this approach, it is still important for us not to forget the demonstrable problems caused by inadequately treated ADHD.

ADHD exists, it is treatable, and though it can bring many problems, it can also bring many opportunities. Just so long as we remember to respect every dimension of the person who has it, and remember that if we do not manage it, it will manage us.

Spirituality, Depression and Suicide

It is an interesting sign of the times that a major medical publication – the Southern Medical Journal – has dedicated an entire section this month to a series of papers on the Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project that is being supported by the John Templeton Foundation.

Attention to our spirituality is an important part of fulfilling our potential and treating people in trouble. It is no accident that Integrated Medicine always includes all of the five major dimensions of an individual:

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Subtle
  • Spiritual

To get a bit technical, each of the five domains or dimensions contains something of each of the others. The body, mind and spirit and not separate but part of one whole. Mind, consciousness and spirit permeate the body.

We sometimes use the technical term “Five Interlinked Nested Domains” or “FINDS,” to reflect this reality.

An important principle of this interconnected health model is that it’s almost always a mistake to look for a single cause for a problem, imbalance or illness. Not only is it usually incorrect to think about “one illness, one cause,” but it is also usually not enough to use just one therapy or one health maintenance plan: Carefully coordinated combinations are key, for they generate a powerful synergy.

Because the domains are interlinked, physical and psychological health, to say nothing of our social health, and the health of our subtle systems are difficult to maintain without spiritual health. The road to spiritual health begins with understanding and following the natural laws of the Universe, finding your true Purpose and applying both to the service of others.

The articles in this issue of the Southern Medical Journal are excellent.

Here are some highlights:
Dan Blazer from Duke University provides an introduction that gives a fine overview of the growing field of spirituality in medicine in general and depression in particular
Harold Koenig, also from Duke has an article entitled, “Spirituality and Depression: A Look at the Evidence”
Bob Cloninger from Washington University in St. Louis writes about “Spirituality and the Science of Feeling Good.”

Unfortunately the abstracts and papers are not yet available on line, except to members of the Southern Medical Association. Hopefully the Templeton Foundation will be able to arrange with the Journal to make at least the abstracts freely available.

If they do, I shall let you know.

Otherwise, if you have ready access to a library, and if you are interested in this important and rapidly growing field, I am sure that they will be able to help you.

A Shocking Study

I have been teaching medical students and doctors since the 1970s. But there have recently been times when I have despaired about the way in which so many young doctors no longer engage in common courtesies with their patients.

I just spoke to someone who had visited a new family physician. She was fresh out of her residency, and her residency director has something to answer for. She did not make eye contact or shake hands, and could not remember the person’s name. When the patient extended her hand the doctor became confused because she was focused on her laptop.

I know that I can be accused of being old fashioned, but that shocked me, as did a recent report that medical students at a highly rated school are going to be getting classes in empathy and talking to people. This was announced with great fanfare. My question: why on earth do intelligent people need to be taught how to communicate? And if they have a problem in that area, first, how did they get accepted into that excellent medical school? During the years that I was involved in medical school admissions, I would have not have given a high score to someone with poor interpersonal skills. Second, why are the students’ teachers not modeling communication skills?

So first I heard about the extraordinary manner of the primary care physician. Then it was the self-congratulation that accompanied the announcement that students were going to be taught how to speak to people.

And then this.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that left me shaking my head.

The researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine found that Doctors do not address patients by name in half of first-time visits, even though nearly all patients want this common courtesy.

There has been research on what doctors should wear but little about how they should greet patients or what patients actually expect. Most good physicians have relied upon empathy and common sense to guide them. This study focused on finding out what patients think is an appropriate greeting. He also analyzed a sample of interactions between doctors and patients during first-time visits.

The researchers collected information from 415 phone surveys in which people were asked how they expect to be greeted by a doctor. Researchers also viewed and analyzed more than 120 videos of primary care visits in which the doctor and patient met for the first time.

They found that 78 percent of survey respondents wanted the physician to shake their hands. Nearly all patients wanted to be greeted by name, including 50 percent by their first name, 17 percent by their last name and 24 percent by both their first and last name. Most patients, about 56 percent, wanted physicians to introduce themselves using first and last names, while 33 percent expected last name and 7 percent expected first name.

The researchers found a striking difference between expectations voiced in the phone surveys and the actual interaction between doctors and patients in the videos. While 83 percent of doctors shook hands in the videos, only half addressed the patient by name.

Obviously everyone has their own communication style, but the researchers recommend that doctors should incorporate a greeting strategy that uses first and last names for both doctor and patient. Doctors also should plan to shake a patient’s hand, but need to be sensitive to body language or other nonverbal cues that may indicate whether a patient does not want to or is not physically able to reciprocate or respond.

How we use names or handshakes will also change over time.

Why does this business of doctor-patient communication matter so much?

It is not simply a point of courtesy, though that would not go amiss. The real issue is that relationships are the heart of healing. Relationships might not be so important to the person performing some technical service, but for healing they are essential. If I need to get my car fixed, it is nice if the mechanic wants to talk, but it is not essential. He can treat my car as the hunk of metal and moving parts that it is.

But healing is different from treatment. Healing demands a relationship, intention and a shared vision. An interaction that will create something that is greater than the sum of the parts. A polite, personal greeting creates a first impression that can affect the chance of developing a therapeutic relationship. Ignoring the normal rules of social interaction sets the tone for everything that comes afterwards. It is respectful to use a person’s name and on a purely practical level, helps ensure that you are seeing the right person! More than once I have been given the wrong chart before meeting a person for the first time.

Interestingly, accrediting organization quite rightly emphasize that communication is a critical skill for physicians. Sadly many medical schools put such a huge emphasis on academic attainments that some people enter the medical profession without natural communication skills, and their training does little to help them get better at it. But this skill may not come naturally to all doctors, so it’s important to offer guidance on different aspects of communication such as greetings

My students will tell you something that I have said a thousand times: “You have spent a lifetime developing people skills. You have learned how to talk to Aunt Mabel, how to feel when you are in a dangerous environment and how to deal with that guy at the bar who is becoming annoying. These are very valuable skills. Why did you check them at the door on the day that you entered medical school?”

One of my mentors once lamented, saying that 90% of medical students would have been better served by a technical college than a medical school, because they had no curiosity, no desire to move the field forward and no wish to engage with the people who came to see them. And that was in England, where there is socialized medicine. I did not want him to be right, but he probably was. In fact he was right about a great many things, which is why he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine on three occasions.

If medical schools want to turn out healers rather than technicians, then it is clear that medical students and doctors have to be helped to learn basic communication skills.

One of the many reasons that so many holistic therapists and practitioners of Integrated Medicine are popular is that they do understand the importance of good communication. Not because of research, but because that is their natural way of being.

What have your interactions with doctors been like?

How do you like them to greet you?

“True communication is remembering that everything is relationship — that, regardless of the appearance, no one stands alone.”
–Hugh Prather (American Spiritually-oriented Counselor and Writer in the Field of Personal Growth and Relationships)

“Once a human being has arrived on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him in the world about him.”
–Virginia Satir (American Family Therapist, 1916-1988)

The Integrated Approach to Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Regular readers will have noticed that I have been posting much less than usual over the last couple of months. It is not that I have run out of things to say (!), but I have been working on some new projects that I shall be telling you about fairly soon.

There has also been something else that I had not planned to talk about until a conversation that I had a couple of days ago. I mentioned in passing that I had noticed that my weight had crept up a bit over the last couple of years, but that I had identified the reasons, corrected it, and lost twenty pounds over the last eight weeks. I was immediately surrounded by people wanting to know the secret. Well it’s no secret. It is a series of techniques that I, and people that I have trained, have used with thousands of people over the last thirty years. Then I realized that this secret had somehow not got as much coverage or publicity as it should have.

The other day I was talking to someone who has had some legitimate concerns about her weight for over ten years. She has tried every fad diet going, and has spent a fortune on books, tapes and courses. All to no avail.

I asked her, “Why do you keep falling for these fad diets? They are the nutritional equivalent of get-rich-quick schemes!”

“But there must be an answer somewhere,” she replied.

Well, she was half right: there is an Answer that is based on impeccable scientific research, and has been validated with tens of thousands of people. But it is not a fancy diet, supplement or exercise plan.

The first point is that we never recommend, “dieting” to get healthy. You get healthy so that your body can keep you do the work that it was designed to do. And that includes keeping you at your ideal weight.

Humans participate in multiple relationships, from our cells to our soul, and from the smallest atoms to the largest galaxies: we are connected to all of them. Weight problems invariably imply an imbalance in one or more of these relationships. We are more than physical bodies. We are also psychological, social and spiritual beings who are engaged in these multiple relationships. And the quality of these relationships is essential to our well bring.

The approach that we have used for three decades is very precise and consists of two parts.

First is the Plan: a series of steps that involve the re-integrations of your body with your mind, your relationships, the subtle systems of your body and your spirituality. Part Two consists of a series of “Rescues and Re-starts.” Anybody who has ever tried a weight management program knows that it is easy to fall off the wagon. There are times when things happen. You are tempted to miss an exercise session or to eat something that your body does not need. The beginner’s mistake is to respond by feeling bad, becoming disheartened or having someone reprimand you. Those are all a waste of energy. The smart thing is to have a series of sixty-second strategies that rescue you and start you on the Plan.

The first step is to treat you body so that you are ready to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Remember the “hidden” causes of weight gain:

  • Stress
  • Salt
  • Pesticides
  • Viruses
  • Intestinal bacteria

It can he hard to rid ourselves of all of these, but we can certainly reduce the effect that they have on us.

There may be other physical factors that contribute to weight problems. One that has recently attracted some publicity has been the idea that some people have a “leaky gut” – and increase in intestinal permeability – that allows them to absorb toxins that should stay out of the circulation. I have a friend and colleague who, starting in the early 1980s, did a ton of research on intestinal permeability in illnesses like alcoholism, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and schizophrenia. I also did a study of intestinal permeability in migraine, which was negative. There certainly are ways in which intestinal permeability can be increased: alcohol, allergies and some drugs will do it. But so far the evidence that increased intestinal permeability is a common cause of weight problems or other symptoms is not good. That could always change: that is what science is all about: testing falsifiable hypotheses and changing models, practice and recommendations if the evidence changes.

After attending to the physical side of weight maintenance, we go on to recommend some simple psychological work. As I said at the beginning, if your brain thinks that you are trying to kill yourself by starving to death, it will sabotage you: millions of years of evolution have designed you to stay alive and to put on weight whenever possible. So we it is essential to understand and work with those psychological mechanisms from the very beginning.

But it is not enough to simply change your thinking: much of your behavior is driven by unconscious, preconscious and subconscious “thoughts.” We also have several sets of emotional systems that drive our behavior. What’s more, there are separate sets of habits and automatic behaviors that we need to identify and deal with. We also have to deal with the effects of certain foods on your moods and perceptions: countless eating plans have failed because nobody considered that a person might be sensitive or allergic to some foods, or that changes in diet can have a big impact on the way in which our brains function. When we work with all of them the results start to come in very quickly.

We also have to deal with the social aspects of weight: have you been stigmatized because of weight? Have you been sabotaged by people around you, or family members? Do you or your family use meal times to socialize? Do you constantly eat out? There are a huge number of social issues that can mess with healthy eating. Ignore them, and it will be nearly impossible to achieve your aims.

We then also work on any disorganization or blockages in the subtle systems of the body, as well as the spiritual aspects of health and wellness.

It may sound odd to talk about spirituality when considering weight management and health, but they are inseparable.

It is only after we have done all of those things that we look at the precise composition of your diet, tailored to your age and gender. Just as important as what you eat, is when you eat. The way in which you exercise, stretch, breath and sleep can be as important as what and when you eat, and each has to be carefully tailored to the individual.

On a future occasion I shall explain exactly how your can work with each of the five systems of you body – Physical, Psychological, Social, Subtle and Spiritual – to create and maintain vibrant health and a radiance that at the moment you can only dream about.

That’s a promise!

“I don’t eat junk foods, and I don’t think junk thoughts.”
–Peace Pilgrim (a.k.a. Mildred Norman, American Peace Activist, 1908-1981)

“He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician.”
–Chinese Proverb

“Give the body the attention it deserves, but not more. When you cultivate the attitude that you are the body, the body will demand from you more food, more variety in food, more attention to appearance and physical comfort.”
–Sathya Sai Baba (Indian Spiritual Teacher, c.1926-)


It is sometimes frustrating to see peoples’ medical problems reduced – incorrectly – to a single factor. Worse yet, failing to see that all the systems of the body, the mind, our relationships, environment and spirituality all have a part to play in the maintenance of our health and the treatment of disease.

I grew up in England and benefited from and then trained and worked in the National Health Service. Which is nothing of the sort: it is a disease management service.

The problem lies not with money or inefficient systems, but with an emphasis on management rather than prevention of disease.

The next revolution in healthcare is not being driven by science and technology, but by empowerment: being given the tools for taking personal responsibility for our own health and well-being.

Not just so that we feel better and may have the chance of avoiding costly medicines, but so that we can grow as individuals.

The ultimate goal of any form of personal development, of psychotherapy and indeed of medicine, is to remove restrictions from people.

Freedom unlocks human potential.

We are inundated with information about health. Much of the information is confused and confusing. Integrated Medicine is based on the idea of integrating different approaches and integrating the different parts of a person and all of his or her relationships form cell to soul.

The key to that is understanding how to fit all the pieces together, whether a person is a Buddhist or a Baptist, a meat-eater, vegan or junk food addict. To be able to answer these kinds of questions:

  • What diet is right for me personally?
  • What type of exercise should I do at my age, level of fitness and time constraints?
  • How can I get the quality sleep that I need with all the demands on my time?
  • How can I manage the stress in my life?
  • How can I manage my emotions so that I run them instead of them running me?
  • How can I have satisfying connections with other people?
  • How can I find my meaning and purpose in life?

The good news is that we already have answers to most of those questions and we have developed hundreds of tips and techniques that people can do in minutes a day.

I revealed some in the book and CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose, and in response to a great many requests, I shall be sharing many of these techniques in the months to come.

“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.”
–B.K.S. Iyengar (Indian Yoga teacher, 1918-)

“If we could learn how to balance rest against effort, calmness against strain, quiet against turmoil, we would assure ourselves of joy in living and psychological health for life.”
–Josephine L. Rathbone (American Sports Physiologist and Pioneer in Health and Relaxation, 1899-)

“Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.”
–Marianne Williamson (American Author, Unity Church Minister and Lecturer on Spirituality, 1952-)

“Questions focus our thinking. Ask empowering questions like: What’s good about this? What’s not perfect about it yet? What am I going to do next time? How can I do this and have fun doing it?”
–Charles Connolly (American Psychologist)

Honey Bees, Blue Tits and Canaries

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.”
–Albert Einstein (German-born American Physicist and, in 1921, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1879-1955)

Anyone interested in Integrated Medicine should also be interested in trends that may have a major impact on our health and our potential to grow.

Over the last year the sparrow population of England has been declining, and now there is something new. In recent weeks there have been reports from bird watchers in Southern England that some species of birds have suddenly started become obese. The birds most affected seem to be blue tits. There is no suggestion about why it is happening, or what they are eating. Or whether something else in the environment is changing and causing the problem.

Second, British Government inspectors are investigating reports of unusually high numbers of honeybee deaths. Beekeepers all over Southern England are reporting that their hives have been decimated. This is a serious matter. Not just to the bees, but because bees pollinate fruit trees and other crops, the consequences for British farmers of a collapse in honey bee numbers could be devastating. The total contribution of bees to the British economy has been estimated at somewhere around 2 billion dollars.

No one yet understands the cause of these widespread honey bee colony deaths, and it is not just in the England: unexplained, severe colony losses with bees failing to return from their searches for pollen and nectar in Poland, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

But here in the United States the situation is even worse: Beekeepers in 25 US states have lost 50 to 90 per cent of their colonies to a mystery condition being called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) – in which bees suddenly abandon their hives and disappear to die. It is having a major effect on the mobile apiaries (Bee farms) that are transported across the US to
pollinate large-scale crops, such as oranges in Florida or almonds in
California. Some have lost up to 90 per cent of their bees.

The cause of CCD is unknown, but some of the suspects include pesticides, malnutrition, antibiotics, mites and increased solar radiation due to ozone thinning. There has also been a theory that it might have something to do with all those towers that support the cell phone network, or the introduction of genetically modified crops.

In the 1990s, honeybee populations were badly affected by the varroa mite – a parasite that makes colonies more vulnerable to viruses. Some experts believe the recent deaths could be caused by the parasite becoming resistant to drugs used against it.

Like most things in nature, animal populations go through regular cycles: there is a sophisticated mathematics that can be used to describe fluctuations in populations. But when we see several odd things at once, that don’t fit the mathematical models, it is time to ask the question whether the obese blue tits and the disappearance of sparrows and bees are a harbinger of further changes in our environment.

Are the bees and blue tits the “Canaries in the Coal Mine”?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Diagnosis and Complications

I have had a great many requests to talk more about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): what it is, and what it is not; when is it a problem and when is it just “normal” childhood or adolescent behavior? And what evidence is there for non-pharmacological approaches?

Although there is a lot of information about ADHD available in books and on line, some is better than others, and some is misleading. I have recently had the privilege of giving a series of lectures on each of these topics, and many people have thought that I had a different take on the issue, so I an going to summarize some of the lectures here.

First I would like to direct you to a short article on the diagnosis on ADHD. The most important point is that we have to tell the difference between kids being kids and a problem that needs treatment.

Second is an article that talks about some of the problems that may follow if someone has ADHD and it is not diagnosed or treated.

Over the next two days I am going to follow up with articles that I have written on "Non-pharmacological and Lifestyle Approaches to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder":
Diet, nutrition, allergies and sensitivities
Herbs and supplements
Movement, exercise, sleep and environmental design
Massage, qigong, tapping therapies and acupuncture
Mind-body approaches to treating ADHD
Homeopathy and flower essences in ADHD
Using Integrated Medicine in ADHD

“Thoughts of themselves have no substance; let them arise and pass away unheeded. Thoughts will not take form of themselves, unless they are grasped by the attention; if they are ignored, there will be no appearing and no disappearing.”
–Bhikshu Ashvaghosha (Indian Playwright and Master of Buddhist Philosophy, c. A.D. 1st Century)

“The true art of memory is the art of attention.”

–Samuel Johnson (English Biographer and Essayist, 1709-1784)

“Attention makes the genius; all learning, fancy, and science depend upon it. Newton traced back his discoveries to its unwearied employment. It builds bridges, opens new worlds, and heals diseases; without it taste is useless, and the beauties of literature are unobserved.”
–Robert Aris Willmott (English Author, 1809-1863)

New Causes for Hope in Psychotic Illnesses

Since many health care providers read this blog, I try to update everyone on promising new treatments that can be used to provide a comprehensive care plan for people.

I have talked before about some new medicines for the treatment of schizophrenic illnesses, and yet more are coming down the road.

There is a short article with quite a number of links here.

"I would like to quote something from the article that is very important for all of us:
It is very interesting that most experts are now focusing on medicines that will make it easier for us to undertake psychosocial rehabilitation, rather than simply relying on a medicine to "cure" the illness.

The most important message from all this research is that the future looks promising for many of our sickest patients."

Medicines designed to help and support, not to sedate or damp down the mind’s activity, but to enable a person to take back control of themselves, their thinking and theior emotions.

Colon Cancer: Improving the Chances of Cure

I was very pleased to see how many people have read and downloaded the advice about reducing your risk of colon cancer. I was also very happy with the announcement this morning that Tony Snow’s cancer has not spread to his liver.

People who develop cancer of the colon can often be cured of their original tumors, but some grow back and then they can be more difficult to eradicate. Most relapses occur within 2.5 to 3.0 years. If a tumor has not returned within five years, many doctors consider that the patient has been cured.

The risk of getting a tumor and of it recurring is greater if there is some “predisposing factor,” including a positive family history for colon cancer, familial polyps of the colon or inflammatory bowel disease. The risk of recurrence is also higher in people who get the illness before the age of fifty. We are beginning to see the emergence of genetic tests that can help predict people at high risk of developing colon cancer. People with any of these factors should get particularly careful screening.

Over the last ten years several new drugs for the treatment of colon cancer have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration:
Avastin (Bevacizumab)
Camptosar (Irinotecan)
Eloxatin (Oxaliplatin)
Erbitux (Cetuximab)
Vectibix (Panitumumab)

None is a cure, but they may help in people whose disease has spread to other organs. Most are used in combination with older and often more toxic chemotherapies.

Colorectal cancer is the number two cause of cancer-related death in the United States. It is estimated that there will be 153,000 new cases this year that will ultimately result in 52,000 deaths. The earlier that the disease is caught, the better the chance of a cure. The American Cancer Society has published these five-year survival figures:
Stage 1 – Limited to the colon 93%
Stage 2 – Spread through the wall of the colon 72-85%
Stage 3 – Spread to local lymph nodes 44-83%
Stage 4 – Spread to other organs 8%

Bear in mind that even the most gloomy figures are only based on current treatments: we do not know what the future holds.

The data are also for people who have only had conventional treatments. Integrated Medicine suggests using conventional treatment as well as addressing the psychological, social, subtle and spiritual aspects of the illness. We have little empirical data that such a comprehensive approach works better than conventional medicine alone, but clinicians around the world have accumulated a great deal of experience to indicate that this kind of comprehensive approach helps not only with survival, but also in quality of life and in comprehending the meaning and purpose of the illness.

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