Dr. James Marchums

  • Understanding the big picture
    A recent report by the National Cancer Institute, and reported in USA Today, has stated that cancer death rates have been falling for at least 25 years. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in America behind cardiovascular disease. This sounds like good news, but let’s unpack what lies behind the headlines. Does this represent the big picture? Lower smoking rates are translating into fewer lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in America. Early detection has also helped reduce deaths due to lung cancer. In USA Today headline, the most important factor in helping lower the death rate was stopping the leading cause of our most deadly cancer. Intuitively, getting at the cause is what is lowering cancer rates, specifically lung cancer.  In 2017, increasing death rates were reported in 7 of the 10 leading causes of death. Is cancer really a bright spot? Why is the rate of lung cancer still high in some states? Is the rate of cancer dropping? What about the other types of cancer? Dr. Rob Headrick, one of my partners and chief of thoracic surgery at Memorial Hospital, shared this on lung cancer with our group in Tennessee:  “We’ve got a terrible cancer death issue in our state, and people in our communities are hurting worse than others in the rest of the country.” Smoking prevention would help Tennessee catch up with the rest of America. Many types of cancer have increasing death rates. These include the cancers associated with obesity. Obesity is associated with many physiologic changes increasing the cancer risk. Pancreatic, uterine, liver, and breast cancer have links to obesity. It may take decades to see the full effects of obesity on cancer. The take home is that cancer death rates will improve as we find ways to lower the stressors that trigger the mutations of cancer. We have helped lung cancer rates with lower cigarette rates. More treatment is not the solution in lowering death rates from cancer. We must find ways to lower the cause, whether that be losing weight, being smart about sun exposure, lowering substances that trigger colon cancer, increasing fiber, and the list goes on. One report does not give a complete picture. Read more »
  • We do not know
    This last month there have been quite a few articles in the media regarding artificial sweetener. Much of the information has been on the negative side. Some has been defending the artificial substances. I have an opinion for what it is worth. The opinion is, I do not know. Artificial sweeteners are basically substitutes for sugar. These are found in many products. They are much sweeter than traditional sugar without the caloric load. Diet colas, cereals, and many processed foods contain artificial sweeteners. They may taste good and have few calories, but there are risks. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sucrose. Our brain likes sugar and many with susceptible genetics can become addicted to sugar. We need more and more sweetness to keep the pleasure pathways in the brain happy. Our bodies want to feel good. Our receptors down regulate and we need more sugar to make the dopamine and natural opioids are body craves. With the additional sugar come more calories. Traditional sugar has a cost in calories and may lead to a plethora of health problems. Aspartame was developed to help with the caloric burden. There has been much in the media about aspartame. It has been implicated in Attention Deficit Disorder, birth defects, cancer, behavioral problems, and interactions with medications. In reading through the articles, the elephant in the room is that we just do not know what these artificial substances do to the body. These substances have very complex bio-chemical breakdown pathways that may vary from person to person. For example, aspartame breaks down into phenylalanine, methanol, aspartic acid, formaldehyde and formic acid. Aspartame may deplete the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which has many implications in brain health. Aspartame breaks down to phenylalanine. Tyrosine, another amino acid, is derived from phenylalanine. The more aspartame, the more tyrosine. This mechanism reduces tryptophan in the brain. The brain needs tryptophan to make serotonin. The brain needs appropriate levels of serotonin for many physiologic functions including, learning. All brains and especially developing brains are susceptible to these chemical changes. These complexities are not conveyed on a label. The labels will not say, “we do not know” the full physiologic consequences of ingesting these chemicals for prolonged periods The scrutiny of aspartame and other sugar substitutes is growing. New sugar substitutes are being developed. Sucralose is showing up in many products. Everything we put into our bodies and brains have a physiologic consequence. An AP story from Albany, New York, recently implicated an herbal supplement, kratom. This product is marketed as an energizer and is suppose to help with addictions. This substance was implicated in the death of a police officer. Our genome, the DNA inherited from our ancestors determines our susceptibilities. Individuals with a condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot handle phenylalanine. Each one of us has a unique genome. If the genetics are stressed, problems may ensue. The goal is to not stress our bodies on all levels. I am not ashamed to admit that we do not know. We often do not know the physiology of these chemicals and breakdown products. We do not know which individuals have susceptible genes. We do not know how developing brains will respond. The body is too complicated. Those selling all sorts of products, including aspartame, are doing their job, which is to make money. Some of these chemicals create the potential for addictions. When a product raises suspicion, a new substitute is developed. When in doubt, listen to the wisdom of Dr. Hippocrates, do no harm. This is the safest route. You cannot believe everything you read. It is acceptable to admit, we do not know. Read more »
  • Heart and Mind – Dr James Marcum
    The human heart and the human mind are interconnected in some rather profound ways. Cardiologist Dr. James Marcum examines how our thoughts impact our health and vice-versa. Disease prevention is vital in all areas of the body. Read more »
  • Heart Health Part 2 – Dr James Marcum
    Life is good. The future looks bright. Then suddenly, an elephant sits on your chest. Cardiologist Dr. James Marcum, answers important questions concerning heart disease; how to survive and, even more important, prevent it! Read more »
  • Heart Health Part 1 – Dr James Marcum
    Clogged arteries in your body, just like clogged water pipes in your home, mean trouble. Cardiologist Dr. James Marcum, founder/director of Heartwise Ministries, answers listener’s questions about coronary disease and how to prevent it from developing in the first place. Read more »
  • Thrive in Midlife – Stephen Arterburn
    Who am I? Where am I going? What am I doing? What’s the meaning of life? If you’re an adult male over the age of thirty-five or forty, you may have asked yourself those very questions. Counselor Stephen Arterburn provides guidance through the midlife crises. Read more »
  • Health FAQ – Dr James Marcum
    Cardiologist Dr. James Marcum addresses some of the questions listeners have posted on the heartwiseministsries.org Website; questions concerning taking supplements, dealing with atrial fibrillation, overcoming anxiety, and many others. Read more »
  • Grass Roots Health – Kathleen Braun
    Sometimes, you just got to go home again. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave behind excellent sources of information and guidance when it comes to healthy living. Kathleen Braun explains. (filledwithplenty@gmail.com) Read more »
  • Hearts of the Fathers – Charles Crismier
    “Fatherlessness now defines American life and culture.” Pastor, educator, attorney, and broadcaster Charles Crismier discusses the role fathers play in the well-being of their children. (www.saveus.org) Read more »
  • Rewiring the Brain – Tammy Beasely
    For most, eating food is a natural, comfortable, enjoyable thing to do. But for others, food isn’t something to be savored. Nutritionist Tammy Beasely explores the dangers of eating disorders. (www.castlewoodtc.com) Read more »
  • Malfunctioning Thyroid – Dr James Marcum
    Our body’s inner workings run on chemistry and chemical reactions. If these reactions malfunction, the results aren’t pleasant. Dr. James Marcum reveals some dangers and solutions. Read more »
  • Fast Food Genocide – Dr Joel Fuhrman
    The world’s growing obsession with fast, processed foods is killing more people than any war. Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about his latest book and how we need to learn from the past and help shape the future for everyone in our community. (www.drfuhrman.com) Read more »
  • Just Say No – Dr Michael Greger
    There are items we may willingly be putting into our bodies that can do us some serious harm…and we may not know it. Dr. Michael Greger reveals some common—and sometimes not-so-common substances that we should seriously avoid. (www.nutritionfacts.org) Read more »
  • Food Fight – Melainie Rogers
    We have met the enemy, and it is…food! Often, what we place in their stomachs is far from healthy. The reasons we do it can be unhealthy as well. Melainie Rogers, a certified eating disorder registered dietitian talks about food and motivation. Read more »
  • DNA Study Announced
    The U. S government is currently seeking one million people from all walks of life willing to share their DNA, environment, and health habits with researchers. The goal is to evaluate how lifestyle changes our genes. This ambitious 1.45 billion dollar study by the NIH will give new and valuable information on the importance of lifestyle factors in health. Frances Collins, director of the NIH, describes the All of US Research Program as “A national adventure that is going to transform medical care.” We know that stress from certain lifestyle habits can age our genes. Pending our genetic hardware, these stressors eventually may cause damage with the resulting symptoms. The terms telomere shortening and methylation are just some of the mechanisms that attempt to explain these changes. Our current medical system focuses on evaluating symptoms and treating them. This study hopes to quantitate the role of various lifestyle factors on physiology. Why do some people stay healthy despite smoking, poor nutrition, or other environmental stressors? Could lifestyle changes be more important than medications? How do nutritional interventions, and mental stress change our genetics? I am particularly interested in the physiology of worship. This NIH study aims to be the largest and most diverse of its kind. This study will need to enroll a diverse group and plans to follow one million for ten years. I applaud those initiating this important study. This study has enrolled 25,000 to date. Finding those one million to study will be no easy task. This is a story we will want to follow. Read more »
  • Blood Under Pressure – Dr. James Marcum
    If you think you’re under a lot of pressure, you’re right. Normal blood pressure in our bodies keeps things moving. Lack of pressure means we’re dead. But, too much pressure? Dr. James Marcum provides insights into how to keep this dangerous condition at bay. Read more »
  • Caregiving – June Hunt
    “I didn’t sign up for this!” These unspoken words are more than likely on the lips of many people who have found themselves playing the role of caregiver in the saga of their lives. Counselor June Hunt shares how we can transform that responsibility from prison to privilege. Read more »
  • Employee Wellness – Susan Levin
    Adults in the United States spend more than half of their waking hours at work. But, workplaces aren’t always healthy places. This is made evident—in part—by the growing health crisis and escalating health care costs in this country. Susan Levin offers solutions. (www.pcrm.org) Read more »
  • Beautiful Forgiveness – Yvonne Ortega
    “As long as we have breath, there’s hope we can move from broken to beautiful.” This is the theme of a series of books written by Yvonne Ortega as she attempts to move us all from the first to the second. On this program, she examines the beauty of forgiveness. (hopefortheheart.org) Read more »
  • Dangerous Sleep – Dr James Marcum
    Sleep—that glorious, peaceful escape from the daily grind. We all need it. More to the point, we probably all need more of it. However, there is a medical condition that can turn sweet dreams into your worst nightmare. Dr. James Marcum wakes us up to the reality of dangerous sleep. Read more »
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