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More Education About Venereal Diseases Needed

This month, researchers at the National Center for HIV showed that 25 percent of American girls aged 14 to 19, and 38 percent of the more sexually experienced females in that age group, are infected with at least one of the five most common venereal diseases: gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas, herpes type 2, or the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer. Twenty percent of those who claimed that they had had only one sexual partner were infected with a venereal disease. (Pediatrics, December 2009).

Researchers at Indiana University found that more than 50 percent of girls start having intercourse between 13 and 15 years of age, and of those 25 percent had acquired proven venereal diseases (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, December 2009). Having an untreated venereal disease can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (which can be fatal), infertility later on, ectopic pregnancy, preterm births and increased risk for HIV.

These studies included only five known venereal diseases that have some form of treatment, but there are other sexually- acquired diseases that doctors can neither diagnose nor cure. During my almost 50 years of medical practice, I have seen hundreds of patients who had unprotected intercourse and soon afterwards suffered unbearable discomfort in the bladder, vagina or urinary tract. Multiple cultures and blood tests often fail to yield a cause, many months of antibiotics do not cure them, and they continue to have genital and urinary tract symptoms that do not respond to any known treatment.

I think that young girls and boys should be immunized against HPV before age ten and be given specific instructions of the dangers of unprotected exposure to the exchange of body fluids. At any age, people with new partners should always use methods to prevent the exchange of body fluids. Modern medicine has little to offer many people who acquire sexually transmitted diseases that cannot be diagnosed by any available laboratory test.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Will the antioxidant vitamins C and E help to prevent muscle damage during a hard workout?

A recent review of the scientific literature concludes that taking large doses of vitamins C and E will neither prevent nor treat muscle damage caused by intense exercise and can even impair muscle function during exercise (Sports Medicine, December 2009). A study from the University of Valencia in Spain shows that one gram of vitamin C per day for eight weeks tires male athletes earlier during long-term exercise, and similar doses per weight reduced the distance rats could run (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2008).

Every muscle cell has hundreds of small inclusions called mitochondria. Mitochondria convert food to energy by moving electrons from one molecule to another, causing extra electrons to accumulate in tissues. If the extra electrons attach to hydrogen, they are converted to water which is harmless. However, if the electrons attach to oxygen, they become reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can damage cells and make muscles burn or feel tired during exercise. The body produces antioxidants that help protect a person from cell damage from these oxidants (ROS).

Contracting muscles markedly increase their conversion of food to energy, so they produce lots of extra electrons to make more ROS. However, exercising muscles produce far more antioxidants to rid themselves of the extra ROS. Muscles of regular exercisers produce more antioxidants than those of non- exercisers and therefore remove ROS more rapidly from their cells. Giving large doses of vitamin C before exercise appears to prevent them from producing antioxidants, so ROS levels increase and they tire earlier during exercise.

*********************************************** Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can anxiety cause muscle cramps?

It's possible, if your anxiety causes you to breathe hard and fast for several minutes. Breathing rapidly can cause you to blow off large amounts of carbon dioxide from your bloodstream. This causes your blood to become alkaline, which makes calcium unavailable to your muscles to cause cramps. A healthy person can correct this imbalance quickly by slowing breathing so you retain carbon dioxide, which brings the blood pH back into its normal range and makes calcium available to your muscles again. If this is a persistent problem, you need a medical workup.

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Recipe of the Week:

Southwestern Bean Salad

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 22nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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