Friday, November 15, 2013

Health Day

Netanya AACI had a Health Day on Weds, a full day of booths, presentations and lectures on a wide variety of subjects. At the booths there were items for sale as well as free giveaways. There were also demonstrations of low-level laser therapy, Indian head massage, reflexology (foot treatment), omega-3 oil from plants, spine tuning (chiropracty), water filtration and healthy eating. Many of the "alternative medicine" applications are of questionable efficacy, although they claimed to cure and/or improve many ailments. What I found most objectionable was when they started talking about "energy healing," and when I asked what energy they were talking about they got very defensive, one is not supposed to ask such questions.

Regarding the low-level laser therapy (LLLT), this should be distinguished from high-level laser therapy in which lasers are used to remove superficial skin lesions, and is very effective. The main claim for LLLT is that it relieves pain, particularly muscular pain in the joints, neck, etc. In a study published in the journal Pain (vol 52, p. 63, 1993), after reviewing all data in the literature, Gam et al concluded "LLLT has no effect on pain in musculoskeletal syndromes." The sellers of the LLLT laser product claimed that the laser light penetrates 3.5 cm into the body, I seriously doubt this and have not been able to find any publication that documents this.

I missed the presentation on homeopathy, but I suppose that was just as well. I think that these alternative medicine methods have blossomed because we are all living longer, due to the success of scientific medicine. But the fact is that everyone gets some ailments, and when their standard medical practice cannot help them anymore they turn to what this is, an alternative. Most of the claims have no factual basis, yet people will shell out large sums of money when they become desperate.

In the afternoon, Don Silverberg, a nephrologist and practicing physician, gave his usual smooth talk about the latest patterns in health care. He spoke about high blood pressure medication, statins against cholesterol and aspirin against strokes, all of which most members of the audience seem to take. He discussed vitamins, iron deficiency, sleep apnea, some cancers, such as ovarian and prostate, and mentioned a relatively new pain-killer named Lyrica, that reduces pain from peripheral nerves. He emphasized the need for regular checkups, for example by women for cervical and ovarian cancer, and by men for PSA that may indicate prostate cancer. He said that vitamin D levels in Israel were unusually low and everyone should take some, also iron (as in free iron in transferrin not in hemoglobin) was often low and an indicator of fatigue and often heart and other lung problems.

Most people came away from this experience having learnt more about their health and how to improve it. Thanks go to Sylvia Kovler and Natalie Green for organizing the day.


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