Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stoned Kidneys

SINCE its introduction in the early 80s. the use of shock waves to pulverise kidney stones has become common practice. Doctors have found, though, that the brunt of the treatment can cause short-term damage to surrounding tissues. Might this procedure, called lithotripsy, have long-term effects as well?

A study compared medical data on 288 people who had lithotripsy about 19 years earlier with an equal number whose kidney stones had been treated at the same time in a different, nonsurgical way. Over the ensuing years. 182 people developed hypertension and 67 developed diabetes. Lithotripsy recipients were nearly four times more likely to have diabetes and 50% more apt to have hypertension than were those not exposed to the shock-wave technology. The more shock treatments people received, the higher their risk of diabetes. People who had lithotripsy on both kidneys had a higher risk of hypertension than did those who had one kidney treated.

Who may be affected by these findings? People who have had or are considering lithotripsy. Most kidney stones are small enough to pass through the urinary system on their own; larger stones can be dissolved by medicine, removed surgically, plucked out through a tube threaded through the ureter or smashed via lithotripsy.

Caveats: Newer lithotripters, the machines that deliver the shock waves, have a more narrow focus area and might produce different effects.

You can find this study in the May issue of the Journal Of Urology; abstract available online at www.jurology.com.
Learn more about kidney stones at www.kidney.org and http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov. - LAT-WP

Uterine prolapse and incontinence

WEAKENED pelvic muscles can cause the uterus to sag and sometimes protrude through the vaginal opening, To correct this, women usually have surgery, called sacro- colpopexy. Afterward, however, coughing or sneezing often causes urine leakage. To prevent this so-called stress incontinence, might it help to have an additional procedure at the time of surgery, suturing the vagina to a pelvic ligament?

A study randomly assigned about half of 322 women undergoing sacrocolpopexy to have a second procedure, a Burch colposuspension, at the same time. Three months later, 44% of the women who had Only the surgery reported symptoms of stress incontinence, compared with 24% of those who also had the Burch procedure. About four times more women in the surgery-only
group than in the Burch group reported the most bothersome symptoms.

Who may be affected by.these findings? Women with pelvic organ prolapse, which can occur after frequent childbirth or with

Caveats: Surgeries lasted about 12% longer when they included the Butch procedure. Long-term effectiveness remains unknown.
Whether the findings apply to women who have different surgical procedures for prolapse or incontinence remains unclear.

You can find this study in the April 13 issue of the New Engiand Journal of Medicine; abstract available online at www.nejIn.org:r Learn more about uterine prolapse at www.mayoclinic.com and www.medem.com (search for "pelvic support"). - LAT-WP

Mercury in cavities

WHEN children are exposed to even low levels of lead. their 1Q scores have been shown to suffer. Might the same occur with
exposure to another known neurotoxin, mercury, which is contained in the silver, or amalgam, fillings often used to restore teeth damaged by cavities?

A study randomly assigned 534 children, six to 10 years old, to have cavities in their back teeth filled with either amalgam or a mercury-free, resin-based composite material. None of the children had any existing amalgam fillings, and only a few had detectable levels of mercury in their urine. After five years, mercury levels had increased in both groups but were higher in the amalgam group. However. periodic neuropsychological tests (of memory, learning, visual-motor skills) and 1Q scores showed no real differences between the groups.

Who may be affected by these findings? Children of elementary school age. Amalgam fillings have been used for about 150 years; newer composite materials, tooth-coloured but usually more costly, often are used to fill cavities in the more visible front teeth.

Caveats: Findings may not apply to younger children and to others who may be especially sensitive to mercury. The study did not determine whether exposure as a child could lead to negative health effects later in life, and it was not designed to detect whether exposure produced minor effects in children.

You can find this study in the April 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association: abstract available online at www.jama.com. Learn more about cavities at http://kidshealth.org and www.ada.org. - LAT-WP

Note: The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatrnent's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.

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Quantum physics and qi

TODAY I want to tell you the story of the universe. I was fortunate to attend a lecture by an American nuclear scientist who said that he found God through his understanding of quantum physics. And I marvelled at his theory on the origin of the universe, and the nature of light and matter.

Although I am not a physicist, quantum physics has always been a favourite subject, and I try my best to understand this fasdnating subject because it leads me to appreciate more the simphdty behind this very complex universe. And ff you believe in God, you will marvel at His brilliance. Even if you don't believe in God, this is still interesting reading.

According to Prof Muhammad Al-Mahdi, God created the universe by first creating the primordial light. Then God "slowed down" and "reduced" the energy of light to what it is now so that matter can materialise. Now, many religions describe God Himself as Light, but the created light is of a different nature than Divine Light.

For a start, created light has a lower energy. This is an interesting statement, since we have been told that nothing exceeds the speed of light, and everything in this universe is gnverned and limited by that (Einsteins' E=mc2). Created light had a much higher energy initially, and the energy was so intense that it resulted in the Big Bang.

According to current scientific understanding, the Big Bang occurred about 13-15 billion years ago. In the first few millionths of a second, the universe expanded extremely rapidly while fundamental particles (the most basic unit of all matter, called quarks and leptons) and from these the elementary particles (protons and neutrons), were being formed. All this took less than 0.000001 sec. Then atoms were formed and the formation of matter and the physical universe as we know began.

The Big Bang

The known universe contains billions of galaxies, reaching across 10 billion light years in distance (1 light year is the distance travelled by light in one year = 9.3 billion kiiometres).

To give some idea of this vastness, the distance to the moon is 385,000 kin; the sun is 150 million krn (which equals 1 ALl, Astronomical Unit); Pluto's distant position (it has an elliptical orbit around the sun) is 40 AU or 4 billion km; and the distance to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.3 light years, or 40 billion km.

As to the vastness of the entire universe, only God knows!

The Orion Nebula
Although science has unravelled most of the secrets of the universe, having discovered (or at least observed)what is believed to be the complete array of the fundamental particles (six quarks and six leptons, and their anti-matter parmers), and also the force-carrying "particles" (called bosons; of which the electromagnetic energy-carrying photon is one of them), the picture is still incomplete. The so-called "standard model" of current scientific understanding cannot yet fully explain gravity (scientists predict the existence of gravity-carrying particles called ,'gravitons" but have yet to observe this) and several other things.

Scientists are still cracking their heads over how to explain everything into one coherent unified theory. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, Newton's Law of Motion and other established scientific formulae cannot explain the observed
nature in full.

As we understand more, it gets more interesting, Now we know that space can be "bent", time itself can be "slowed", and that matter and antimatter can annihilate each other!

What is different about this new concept and current science? By saying that light was slowed down implies that everything need not be governed by the known behaviour of the photon (which is the unit of light, and of other electromagnetic energies
we know - electricity, sound, heat, radio waves, radiation, etc, or of other bosons (force-carrying particles).

It also brings Creationism (that God exists and created everything) closer to secular scientific theory (that the universe began as an immensely-dense coin-sized matter that exploded and everything we see now is a result of random events not under the influence of a supernatural force/God; from where or how that coin-sized matter came to existence is anybody's guess).

Many other things may be explained by assigning different energies/speed to the force-carrying particles. The accepted speed of light explains the physical universe well, but cannot explain the spiritual world, the nature of angels and jinns,
and the nature of qi! Now you know why I am fascinated by all this.

The spinning universe
One interesting observation from the quintessential realm of quantum physics and the expansive world of astronomy is that everything spins. All the fundamental particles and elementary particles spin and/or have orbits. At the other dimension, all
celestial satellites (eg. the moon around the earth), planets, stars and galaxies spin or orbit around an axis. These are what we can observe using the most cutting-edge particle accelerators and space-telescopes.

The most awesome dance of nature is the spiralling galaxy. This is what the Sufi dance tries to convey. It tells the story of the Oneness of the Creator and the creation - and that the DMne plan is one Unified Plan.

Qi still an enigma to science
While science is coming close with the understanding of gravity and nuclear forces, it has very little knowledge of life-force, or qi.

In my research, I did find one scientist that came up with something fascinating. Over 60 years ago, Anton Bovis, a French archaeologist-physi-cist' while doing research regarding the pyramids, noticed that there appeared to exist an energy phenom-
enon within the structures. He called it life-force, and proceeded to invent a method to measure it. Interestingly, this scale was able to also measure the life-force in various items such as food or water. This energy is also referred to as "biophotons".

It turns out that his method (called the Boris Scale) measures the life-force according to the charge and spin of the atoms. Low life-force readings of O to 6,500 (Bovis Energy Units, BELl) are life-detracting, while those above 6,500 BEU are life-enhancing. The desired minimal energy level for humans is between 8,000 and 10,000 BELl. The Earth itself creates energy in the 7,000 to 18,000 BELl range.

Further, scientific research has correlated the clockwise or right spin of atoms and molecules with low energies of below 6,500 (i.e. life-depleting). Even our chromosomal DNA is a left turning spiral. In contrast, cancer cells are grossly mutated with DNA in a right-turning spiral.

So we have here another convergence of scientific knowledge and life-force or qi, and the mystery of qi and the healing effects of qigong will slowly but surely be better understood.

Prof Muhammad Al-Mahdi passed away peacefully last week. I humbly dedicate this artide to him. May his soul rest in peace.

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Radicals that cause disease

THERE is a "paradox" about oxygen in that we cannot live without oxygen, yet it is dangerous to our existence. A war is being waged within every cell of your body. It is called oxidative stress (refers to a condition where antioxidants in the body cannot cope with free radicals generated) and is believed to be the root cause of more than 60 degenerative diseases, from arthritis to cancer, heart disease, premature ageing and even the breakdown of your immune system.

The same process that causes iron to rust and cut apples to turn brown is going on in every living cell in your body. We
are essentially rusting inside and are not even aware it is happening. We must gain an understanding of this process and learn how to protect ourselves against its destruction.

Free radicals In the process of using oxygen for the production of energy in the cell, free radicals are created. Free radicals are also formed in the body when you inhale smog, house cleaning chemicals and cigarette smoke, consume polluted drinking water and drugs. Exercise, exposure to sunlight, illnesses, high blood sugar - also contribute to production of free radicals.

Bruce Ames, a research scientist at University of California-Berkeley estimates that each cell in the human body suffers
about 10,000 "hits" per day from free radicals, The extent of the damage is impressive: free radicals destroy enzymes, pro-
teins, fat compounds, DNA molecules, and cell membranes and structures - altering the way cells code genetic material.

"In fact," says biochemist and antioxidant researcher Richard A. Passwater, "free radicals can also activate the socalled cancer genes, also known as oncogenes, and suppress the immune system."

Free radical damage has a cumulative effect that interferes with cellular function, bogs down chemical reactions and neurological communications between cells, and speeds the growth of mutant cells and degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. The highly reactive free radicals are also implicated in other diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer's, cataracts and macular degeneration.

The good thing is that we are not completely powerless. Antioxidant supplements can help protect us from the damage of free radical "bombardment".

We have our own army of defence against free radicals and they are called antioxidants. Antioxidants have the ability to
render the free radicals harmless. As long as there are adequate amounts of antioxidants within our bodies to handle the free
radicals produced within the cell there is no damage to surrounding tissues.

The body has the ability to make some of its own antioxidants, five of which are superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase,alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and glutathione peroxidase, but the body may not be able to produce enough antioxidants on its own to neutralise all the free radicals that are produced.

Although many antioxidants can be obtained from food sources, it is difficult to get enough of them to hold back free radicals constantly generated in our polluted environment. That is why we need to get the rest of the antioxidants from

* Primary antioxidants

Beta carotene - is a powerful free radical scavenger that attacks and neutralises the singlet oxygen, a dangerous free radical that affects our eyes, skin and lungs.

Vitamin C - is a powerful antioxidant that helps minimise free radical damage in the watery regions of the body, such as
blood plasma, lung fluid, eye fluid, as well as in between cells. It also helps protect the nervous system from free radical
attacks. Another amazing function of vitamin C is that it helps to recycle vitamin E to keep it actively fighting free radicals.

Vitamin E - is a potent antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of lipids (fats) in cell membranes, which strengthens the
outer cell layers against free radical attacks. Vitamin E works best in the presence of selenium, and helps protect vita-
min A. Research shows that vitamin E stimulates the immune system, improves the circulatory system and oxygen absorption, fights cancer, and has a role in preventing cataracts. It also helps keep low density lipoprotein (LDL) from the oxidation that creates arterial plaque.

* Antioxidant support nutrients

These nutrients are not antioxidants themselves but are essential components of glutathione and superoxide dismutase (SOD) which are antioxidant enzymes made by the body.

Selenium - is a trace mineral that synergises well with vitamin E and is the key component in the powerful glutathione-based antioxidant enzymes that convert hydrogen peroxide free radical into water.

Zinc - has antioxidant properties that protects the body. Zinc is required to maintain effective levels of vitamin E and
A. It is also the key ingredient in the very important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD).

Copper and manganese - are both essential components of superoxide dismutase (SOD) that neutralises the most dangerous free radical in the body - superoxide.

* Targeted antioxidants

Alpha lipoic acid (ideal antioxidant) - Dr Lester Packer, professor of the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, is among the world's leading antioxidant researchers, and perhaps the foremost researcher on
alpha lipoic acid. He has described alpha lipoic acid as very close to an ideal antioxidant.

Alpha lipoic acid works in both the watery as well as fatty regions of the cells. It also has the ability to regenerate oxidised vitamin E and C, CoQ10, glutathione and even alpha lipoic acid itself. It raises " blood levels of glutathione - nature's most powerfulantioxidant - better than any other substance known. It improves insulin sensitivity and improves glucose metabolism. Alpha lipoic acid has been used widely in Germany for over 30 years for treatment of symptoms associated
with diabetes such as neuropathy and retinopathy.

Grape seed standardised extract (super antioxidant) - The active ingredients found here are oligomeric proanthocyanidines (OPCs). Research indicates that OPCs may be 20-50 times more potent as an antioxidant than vitamin C and E. Because they bond to collagen, protecting against free radicals, OPCs keep joints and skin supple, promoting a youthful appearance. They also strengthen capillaries, improve circulation, reduce joint pain, and protect nerve tissue. OPCs can also help convert oxidised vitamin C back to its active form.

The body produces many species of flee radicals - singlet oxygen, superoxides, hydroxyl, hydrogen peroxide, peroxyl and
so on, and almost all are damaging to the body. Different antioxidants neutralise different species of free radicals. Hence when it comes to antioxidant supplementation, it makes sense to take a supplement that contains a variety of antioxidants.

Make sure that the ingredients listed are in adequate amounts thus providing a wider daily protection against degenerative diseases.

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