From The Editors Health

Obese or Not – Study Says Extra Weight Can Cause Death

A paper on the findings of a Study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine which basically says that being overweight and not obese, does not lessen the risk of weight-related death – anyone carrying extra weight is at risk of dying from the additional burden.

40 % of the 4 million weight-related deaths in 2015 were not the result of clinical obesity – just being overweight did them in.

The Study has also revealed that over 2 billion people, including children, suffered from heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, and even some types of cancer – all due to being overweight.

“People who shrug off weight gain do so at their own risk – risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening conditions,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, author of the study and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

“Those half-serious New Year’s resolutions to lose weight should become year-round commitments to lose weight and prevent future weight gain,” he added.

The protracted research of 35 years (1980 – 2015) took into consideration 195 countries and the conclusion is that 2.2 billion children and adults who make up 30% of the world’s population are victims of overweight.

Out of the 2.2 billion affected people, over 600 million adults and 108 million children have a body mass index (BMI) higher than the threshold of 30 which makes them clinically/medically obese.

By the way, BMI of an individual is calculated by dividing his/her weight (in kilograms) by his/her height squared (in centimeters). Anyone with a BMI of 30+ is considered clinically/medically obese.


The Study observes that obesity has been steadily on the rise since 1980, having doubled in more than 70 of the 195 countries surveyed. What is alarming is that 13% of American children and adults are over the BMI threshold – simply put, they are obese.

Egypt, however, was at the top of the list at 35% in so far as adult obesity is concerned.

Last year, in an interview with Ruth Michaelson of the Guardian on the issue of obesity in Egypt, Dr. Randa Abou el Naga of the World Health Organization, held the lack of “vigorous physical exercise” responsible for the state of affairs.

What’s more worrying about the Study findings is that children are getting obese at a faster rate than adults with 15.3 million obese children in China and 14.4 million in India. The numbers make sense largely for two reasons:

a. China and India are the two most populated countries in the world, in that order. A higher number of obese children in the two countries with such large populations should be expected.

What is not right, though, are the number of obese children in the two countries and what steps the two governments and, indeed, the world should take to check the alarming rate with which it is happening.

b. Both countries have experienced tremendous growth and a surge in their respective economies in the last couple of decades. Prosperity has brought about “increased availability, accessibility, and affordability of energy-dense foods, along with intense marketing” which “could explain the weight gain in different populations,” says the Study.

The lowest on the obesity list of the Study are Bangladesh and Vietnam at a healthy 1% – at least, as far as obesity is concerned.

“Governments throughout the world caught like rabbits in car headlights, become petrified in the face of escalating obesity. Year after year, mega-statistics like these are published confirming that administrations appear powerless to avoid being crushed by them,” Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, has remarked.

Dr. Ashkan Afshin, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of Global Health at IHME observed that “Excess body weight is one of the most challenging public health problems of our time, affecting one in every three people.”

It is imperative that the world governments sit up and take notice, and intervene, and work on a war footing to counter the menace of obesity.

The authors stressed the need for intervention to reduce the pervasiveness of high BMI among populations in order to fight overweight and obesity and their consequences.

Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said “Our work to tackle obesity in England is world leading and we want to see other countries following our example.

“We have set clear guidelines for the food industry to reduce sugar in the foods children eat the most of and will openly and transparently monitor and report on their progress.”

To give you an idea of the seriousness and enormity of the situation here’s an extract from the article, “Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years,” published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide. Epidemiologic studies have identified high body-mass index (BMI, the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) as a risk factor for an expanding set of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, many cancers, and an array of musculoskeletal disorders. As the global health community works to develop treatments and prevention policies to address obesity, timely information about levels of high BMI and health effects at the population level is needed.”

From The Editors Health

Are Doctors Responsible For Opioid Dependency by Over-Prescribing It?

Opioid prescribing, opioid dependence and opioid overdose deaths have been in the ascendancy and have increased four times in the United States in the last three decades. Medicare insured senior citizens are the most affected by this opioid over indulgence which is taking epidemic proportions.

The elderly are more susceptible to the risks involved not only in the protracted use of opioids and opioid overdose but also when low-intensity opioids are administered over shorter periods of time. This is because of their vulnerability to the sleep-inducing side effects of the drug. Most of the Medicare seniors have a history of falls, fractures and broken bones and, not to forget, the potentially fatal, opioid dependence and addiction.


Dr. Michael L. Barnett (Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health) and his team have conducted a study based on exactly those concerns.

Growing overuse and the resultant addiction or dependency and whether it could be partly because of trigger-happy physicians who prescribed the addictive drug a little more frequently than others, were the areas the research team, led by Dr. Barnett, intended to probe.

Furthermore, among the opioid prescribers, there are those physicians who prescribe low-intensity opioids and others who write out high-intensity opioid prescriptions and the study proposed to look at this angle as well.

The methodology of the research team involved identifying Medicare claims recipients, mostly sixty-five and above, who had visited the emergency department of the same hospital and had not been prescribed any opioids in the last six months before the visit. The purpose behind the six-month-condition was to check the resulting effects of exposure on opiate-free patients.

The next step included identifying prescribers of low and high-intensity opioid in each of the hospitals surveyed. Subsequently, patients treated under these two categories of prescribers were examined in order to determine rates of prolonged use and subsequent hospitalizations.


The research was conducted on 215,678 patients treated by prescribers of low-intensity opioids and 161,951 patients treated by high-intensity opioid prescribers during an emergency department visit and the outcome was worse than what was being expected.

The findings revealed that, in a given hospital, the rate of low-intensity opioid prescribers was 7.3% in comparison to 24.1% high-intensity prescribers in the emergency department of that hospital – a variation too wide for anybody’s comfort.

The results also showed that prolonged opioid use was higher among patients treated by higher-power-opioid prescribers than those treated by prescribers of low-intensity opioids.

“The whole medical community has a responsibility for this,” says Dr. Barnett.

“I think it’s a warning shot to doctors about understanding the risks of these medications and communicating them much more clearly — both to each other during training, as well as the patients,” he said.

Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

How do opioids differ from opiates?

Drugs manufactured with opium from the poppy plant are called opiates like morphine, codeine, and thebaine.

The term opioid, on the other hand, was previously used only to describe drugs that were synthetically made to mimic the effects of opiates; however, nowadays, the term is used broadly to include all opiates, semi-synthetic opioids like heroin, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone, and synthetic opioids that induce the effects of opiates but are not its derivatives such as methadone and fentanyl.

Medical uses of opioids

In addition to being used for pain relief and anesthesia, opioids are also used for:

* Relief from a cough and diarrhea
* Addiction treatment
* Reversal of opioid overdose
* Suppression of opioid-induced constipation

Side effects of opioids

While opioids are known to be safe when used correctly, older adults are vulnerable to side-effects like constipation, nausea and vomiting, urinary retention, sedation and falls, dependency, and addiction.

From The Editors Health

Looming Antibiotics Crises?

Since times immemorial it has been man’s consistent effort to discover new remedies of the prevailing ailments. The ancient Greeks were probably the first few in the civilized world to practice proper medicine.

Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine established the first medical school in Kos where he was born in 460BC.

Hippocrates is credited with being the first person to believe that diseases were caused naturally, not because of superstition and gods.

He believed that diseases were the product of environmental factors and living habits and not an act of the wrath of the gods as was the common belief of the times.

The philosophy of Greek Medicine was that man is essentially a product of nature or the natural environment. Health is living in harmony with Nature, and disease results when this harmony and balance are upset.

It was a generally held notion that the use of herbal medicine was not exclusive to humans for animals in the wild when sick would eat herbal plants till they got better.

It was thus that herbal medicine amongst humans first evolved as an imitation of this universal healing practice of the animal kingdom.

Herbal medicine is presently a universal practice among all the world’s traditional medical systems, which developed systems or models of herbal healing based on the holistic healing principles and concepts inherent to that system.

In the olden days, when there were no such things as antibiotics people relied on this form of healing. The village healer would use a certain herb for the certain ailment and another for another ailment.

The origins of herbal medicine lie in the common empirical experience of the human race, in observing which plants the animals ate when they were feeling sick, and following their example.

From these origins, augmented by centuries of experiential trial and error, a body of knowledge and lore developed in each region of the world, which became the world’s indigenous folk medicine traditions.

Over time the medical practice has evolved by leaps and bounds and as a result of modern research and technology medical practitioners find it easy to analyze, diagnose and treat an ailment in the shortest possible time.

There is no denying that herbal medicine does have it curative power but we live in such a fast-paced age that like the fast food we prefer an instant fix or in this case a quick cure for everything.


Strong antibiotics provide an instant cure for ailments like flu, fever, aches and pains.

With time, herbal medicine was less practiced and people nowadays prefer latest drugs.

Although, Traditional healing wisdom and good old common sense told the common man for hundreds, even thousands of years that Nature’s botanical medicines were the best way to health and healing.

All the world’s great religions all have passages from their sacred texts advocating the use of herbs for health and healing.

So what exactly is herbal medicine and how does it compare with pharmaceutical drugs.

Herbal medicine is the use of plants and other natural substances in healing. Although plants and botanical medicines are the mainstays of the world’s great herbal healing traditions, not all the natural substances used for medicine are of plant origin. Botanical medicines make up about 85% of traditional pharmacopeias, with mineral substances comprising about 10% and those of animal origin about 5%.

Herbal Medicines
Herbal Medicines

Plants are used both for food and medicine and with medicine as well as with food, the more natural, whole and unrefined a substance is, the higher it is in nutritive value, and the better it is assimilated and metabolized by the body.

A pharmaceutical drug is a very potent, refined substance that has been designed for a very narrow, specific purpose; and so, it is not metabolized in a balanced, harmonious way by the body and its humor, which creates a whole host of negative side effects.

In order to comprehend the curative powers or the healing potential of herbal medicine, it is necessary that we compare the differences with that of pharmaceutical drugs.

The main advantages are ;

Herbs tend to work with nature not against it by increasing the natural functions and defensive healings reactions of the organism.

Pharmaceutical companies administered drugs, however, tend , suppress key bodily functions and block these natural healing reactions.

Over the long term, this negative approach wears down the inherent vitality and resistance of the organism.

Herbs have less after effects and are gentler whereas the negative side effects of pharmaceutical drugs cause thousands of unnecessary deaths every year.

Herbs have a nutritive value that drugs lack. No pharmaceutical drug that your doctor can prescribe will be able to rebuild your body; only whole foods, nutritional supplements, and herbs can do that.


Many herbs are nutrient-rich superfoods; as whole natural substances, their nutrients are better absorbed and retained by the organism than even the finest natural vitamins, which are fractionated, concentrated extracts.

Herbs are living medicines that can vitalize and energize the organism; synthetic drugs, as lifeless substances, can’t do this. Also, the biological intelligence inherent in herbs gives many of them a bivalent capacity to adjust or optimize key bodily functions, like digestion, circulation, metabolism, and immunity.

Synthetic drugs, which lack this biological intelligence, work only in one direction, and their dosages must be closely monitored to avoid excess or overdose.

The wheels of nature and herbs grind slowly and work well , Herbs usually take longer to work than synthetic drugs, but they work naturally and get to the root of the problem.

Synthetic drugs may give you the quick fix, but this is often deceptive; many times, pharmaceutical drugs merely mask the symptoms, suppress the body’s natural healing processes, and may even drive the root cause deeper into the organism. The choice is yours: Do you want to be healed slower, but better, or quickly but not as well?

Pharmaceutical companies are constantly researching and developing drugs but it seems that sooner or later they will have to go back and adopt herbal medicine in their scheme of things strategy.

There are many who avoid antibiotics because of negative reactions. Elderly folk prefers the traditional herbal medicine as they fear new and powerful drugs.

Drug companies are cash cows
Drug companies are cash cows

Although pharmaceutical companies spend billions on research and development of a drug and test new drugs and its effects, first on animals and then humans it has to go through various checks and balances especially in the U.S.A where the Federal Drug Administration , the government’s official watchdog is very strict in its guidelines.

People in the less developed countries still follow the traditional system of herbal where superstitions and taboos exist and the are very scared to use quality pharmaceutical drugs.

With a growing population, the world is running short of resources water, power, gas as well as quality drugs. One must not forget that healthcare should be our foremost priorities for there is a universal saying “ Health is Wealth” for if health is lost all is lost.

Cassandra Quave is Ethnobotanist based at Emory university in Atlanta.

Dr.Cassandra Quave, Ethnobotanist
Dr.Cassandra Quave, Ethnobotanist

On a visit to her father’s ranch in Arcadia, Fla her eyes witness what she describes as a vast botanical tapestry, rich as a Persian rug. A Smilax vine dangled menacingly on a wire fence pointed leaves, like a necklace of shark’s teeth. Beneath it, tiny wild daisies and mint ornamented the grass with pink tassels and purple corners.

Up above, on the sloping branches of oak trees, whiskery bromeliads, Spanish moss and the gray fronds of resurrection fern tangled in a miniature jungle all their own.

Each of these species intrigued Quave. Her eyes lingered enough to merit a pause, a verbal greeting, a photo. An ethnobotanist based at Emory University in Atlanta, Quave, 38, has an unabashed fondness for all citizens of the kingdom Plantae. But on this evening, her attention lingered on certain species more than others: those with the power to heal, with the potential to help prevent a looming medical apocalypse.

Ethnobotany is a historically small and obscure offshoot of the social sciences, focused on the myriad ways that indigenous peoples use plants for food, shelter, clothing, art and medicine. Within this already-tiny field, a few groups of researchers are now trying to use this knowledge to derive new medicines, and Quave has become a leader among them.

Equally adept with a pipette and a trowel, she unites the collective insights of traditional plant-based healing with the rigor of modern laboratory experiments.

Over the past five years, Quave has gathered hundreds of therapeutic shrubs, weeds, and herbs and taken them back to Emory for a thorough chemical analysis.

She is one of the few researchers who believes that sooner or later the World will have to use herbal medicine as a looming medical crisis looms globally.

There are a growing number of diseases emerging in the world and with it frantic efforts to have alternative drugs to cure the same. The world wants to be cured of ailments whether from herbal medicine or pharma drugs. They don’t want to be part of the squabbling.

From The Editors Health

Is Organic Food Healthier Than Conventional Medicine?

We live in a complex world, in the fast track lane slogging to meet ends meet ignoring the fact that our pursuit to make our lives better is taking its toll on our health.

It has been duly observed that in our society there is an ever increasing number of people suffering from various ailments such as such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.

When people suffer from such ailments they general consult a physician or a general practitioner who examines them and prescribes them medicine for immediate relief or cure.If the ailment is serious the patient is referred to a specialist who in turns conducts tests to determine the nature of the problem.

All this is part of what is called conventional medicine which deals with the immediate disorder and its immediate cure and treatment.

However, Functional medicine is that branch of medicine which delves into the root cause of the problem exploring in depth as to what brought the disorder in the first place.

“Prevention is better than cure“ is a well heard saying or proverb which unfortunately many people do not take heed of. If an ailment and its root cause are detected at an early stage then it can be easily nipped in the bud Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease and is a more patient-oriented approach.

It effectively serves and addresses the healthcare needs of the community in the 21st century.

Functional medicine engages both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It deals with the whole person and not just an isolated set of symptoms.

It explores patient history spending time with patients studying their lifestyles and factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.

In every aspect of life whenever a problem arises it is better to try to discover the cause of the problem rather than just taking care of the matter. Children are told not to play with sharp objects which can hurt them, mothers tend to keep infants and toddlers out of the kitchen lest they are victims of some unforeseen hazard.

Similarly, functional medicine goes for the root cause and it’s early and permanent cure rather than let the effects linger on too long term problems.

There are many who would argue what is the point of functional medicine when conventional medicine does the job easily.

Well, the answer to the question is several. Let we examine the need for functional medicine.

As mentioned earlier our society is afflicted with all sorts of diseases which are increasing day by day, the system of medicine.

There are six core principles of functional medicine which can be outlined as under;

#1 An understanding of the biochemical individual of each human being based on the concept of environmental and genetic uniqueness.

#2 To be aware of the evidence which is patient centered and not diseases centered.

#3 Approach to treatment ;Search for dynamic balance among the internal and external body, mind, and spirit.

#4 Familiarity with the web-like interconnections of internal physiological factors.

#5 identification of health as a position vitality not merely the absence of disease emphasis. Those factors that encourage the enhancement of vigorous physiology.

#6 Promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance health span not just the lifespan of each patient.

Proper methodology is lacking in the acute care approach to medicine and the tools for preventing and treating chronic disease.


Most physicians are concerned with immediate care and treatment of the problem at hand and prescribe medicines and drugs or recommend surgery as the case may be.

There are a huge or tremendous gap between research and practice by doctors at least 50 years especially in the case of chronic illness.

Most Physicians are not qualified to deal with the long-term causes of chronic illness and disease. And to apply strategies such as nutrition , diet, and exercises to both prevent and treat these diseases.

If you can prevent something unhealthy and dysfunctional from happening in the body by exploring the root cause of the problem in its initial stages then the problem of will not grown at all.

An expert on Functional Medicine, Dr. Mark Hyman, an author whose book was on the NYT best selling list gives a clear perspective on functional medicine.

In the case of cancer,doctors only conventional methods are applied.

Doctors tend to cut the malignant tissue, cauterize it or burn it or remove it with surgery or radiation therapy.

Making a prognosis or diagnosis does not entirely cure the disease. It merely eases the pain or suffering temporarily.

Conventional medicine focuses on naming diseases based on geography, body location and specialty, instead of by the cause, mechanism or pathway

Functional medicine is a personalized model of diagnosis, It involves a doctor-patient relationship which means engaging the patient to discover the root cause of the disease afflicting him or her.

This method enables and empowers patients and practitioners to achieve the highest expression of health by working collaboratively to address the causes of disease.

As an analogy, functional medicine doctors can be compared to soil farmers: They create a healthy soil, so pests can’t come and weeds can’t flourish. A healthy soil means disease can’t take hold. With cancer, a functional medicine practitioner would say that yes, we still need radiation and other conventional approaches, but what else can we do?

How can we properly cultivate a healthy soil? Cancer results because of an imbalance in the system, so many people are walking around with tumors and don’t know it. We can do something to prevent them from growing by maintaining a healthy soil.

The core causes that can result in chronic diseases is explored in a larger context from the functional medicine perspective. If the root cause of a disease can be identified, isolated and treated in its early stages then thousands of lives can be protected.

Cancer is scary and most people when hearing that they have the disease are panic stricken. It is important to realize what works with you and develop a plan to stick with it. Cancer should be thought of differently.

Dr. Hyman
Dr. Hyman

Dr. Hyman has effectively suggested five cancer prevention tips which we will study as under.

# Dump the Sugar:. Sugar feeds cancer and creates diabesity, a form of diabetes associated with obesity It is estimated that diabesity affects ver 1.7 billion people worldwide. The number one thing one can do to prevent or control cancer is to control insulin levels with a high-fiber diet rich in real, fresh, whole foods and minimize or eliminate sugary, processed, insulin-raising foods.

# Eliminate food sensitivities: In a major study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, hidden gluten sensitivity was shown to increase the risk of death by 35 to 75 percent, mostly by causing heart disease and cancer. By just this mechanism alone, more than 20 million.

Americans are at risk for heart attack, obesity, cancer, and death. Dairy and gluten are the most common triggers of food allergies that are linked to insulin resistance. Cutting them out of the diet allows the inflamed gut and an inflamed body to heal.

# Inflammation: Inflammation is the common thread connecting most chronic disease, including cancer. In fact, out-of-control inflammation causes insulin resistance, which, as we now know, is the main factor in all these diseases, apart from autoimmunity and allergy. The insulin resistance then creates, even more, inflammation and the whole biological house burns down. Besides removing sugar and food sensitivities like gluten and dairy, we want to eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, including omega-3-rich foods like wild fish and flaxseeds.

Organic food
Organic food

# Improve gut health: Cancer often originates in your gut. Not just colon cancer, but with many cancers. We are currently studying about the gut microbiome and breast and prostate cancers. Beyond avoiding inflammatory foods, adding in probiotics, prebiotics and lots of phytonutrients, like curcumin (found in turmeric) and resveratrol (found in grapes), can reduce gut-based inflammation.

# Reduce toxic exposure: The average newborn has 287 chemicals in her umbilical cord blood, 217 of which are neurotoxic (poisonous to nerves or nerve cells). The chemicals these infants are exposed to include pesticides, phthalates, bisphenol A, flame retardants and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic.

These chemicals have a broad range of negative effects on human biology; they damage the nervous system and increase the risk of cancer, and now they have been shown to contribute to obesity. Going clean and green means becoming more aware of how environmental toxins affect your health.

I encourage you to visit the Environmental Working Group to learn more.

# Change your thoughts: Change your thoughts to change your immune system. This bonus strategy is often overlooked, but it’s just as important as the other strategies above.

Science is now proving what we all knew intuitively – that how we live, the quality of our relationships, the food we eat and how we use our bodies determines much more than our genes ever will. There are numerous strategies to combat or prevent cancer, including getting sufficient sleep, controlling stress levels and exercising regularly.

The above guidelines of Dr. Hyman should be followed if one wishes to remain healthy.