Let's Exercise Our Mental Muscles

Readers of "Single-Set Theory" [Moving Crew, Nov. 2] have been fooled by the apparent "consensus of experthood."

First, there is no such thing as a single-set theory. There is only comparative science that examines the effectiveness of single sets against multiple sets. The great majority of published research shows that single sets are equally beneficial as multiple sets, regardless of trainee experience level.

The research not only refutes the claims by William Kraemer and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) but also show that lower volume (single-set) training offers equivalent benefits (not better, but just as good). You may be shocked at how many studies used by the ACSM are flawed or irrelevant to their claims. Unfortunately, many large "authoritative" agencies in the science field may suffer from similar concerns.

There is no "consensus of experthood." There is only exercise science and what is demonstrated by pertinent scientific analyses that look closely at these questions. Anything else, no matter how passionately argued, is unsupported opinion.

At a time when Americans are actually growing less fit and more obese, the erroneous message that "more is better" is not merely wrong, but a potentially dangerous deterrent to training for those who believe that it requires many hours of gym time to make significant improvements. It doesn't -- not for anyone. And that's the good news.

Roy Gione

New York

Having been in the fitness business for 40 years and having dealt with so-called exercise scientists including William Kramer, I can only say I am glad geology professors have brighter minds than they. Otherwise, they would be preaching that the world is flat and would have plenty of evidence to back it up.

I have never talked with one "exercise scientist" who remotely understood the biology of exercise. They don't preach weight lifting, they promote weight throwing. If three sets is better than one, then six must be better than three and 12 better than six, and so on.

I have challenged several of these "scientists," and they refuse to try anything they don't promote. Some of the best trainers in the world practice and teach one-set exercise with close to remarkable results.

John Colman

Fountain Hills, Ariz.

I suspect Kraemer has never undergone strength training employing a protocol of high-intensity, continuous resistance and controlled moment. Such a protocol, when executed properly, takes each muscle group to complete failure, maximizing inroad and promoting muscular development. I've been doing it now for almost five years and I have never reached a plateau.

By the way, the protocol to which I'm referring goes by various names, including Slow Burn, Power of Ten and SuperSlow. Web sites such as www.seriousstrength.com, www.baye.com and www.ultimate-exercise.com may prove useful.

H. Anthony Semone

Wyndmoor, Pa.

69 Almonds and Counting

When are scientists and reporters free to ignore the results of a clinical trial and substitute their own conclusions? Apparently, when the clinical trial deals with supplements.

In the Nov. 2 Lean Plate Club column ["Chew Vaccine: The Anti-Flu Diet"], you say getting more vitamin E may help, citing a study that showed a benefit in nursing home residents who were given 200 IU of vitamin E supplements. However, the column ignores the study's conclusion about supplements, suggesting instead that people should get their vitamin E from foods -- a handful of almonds, for example. This questionable leap of logic is perplexing at best, since three ounces of almonds (69 nuts) will provide only one-tenth of the amount of vitamin E used in the study.

People seeking to improve their immune function would be better advised to go where the scientific studies point them, which in this case is a vitamin E supplement.

Annette Dickinson

President

Council for Responsible Nutrition

Washington

Another Word About Treating Breast Cancer

"For Some Lumpectomy Patients, a More Convenient Treatment" [Oct. 19], which featured the MammoSite delivery catheter for radiation treatment, was confusing in several significant aspects, and the ensuing letter to the editor did not clarify these issues.

The MammoSite device allows for a form of partial breast irradiation, or brachytherapy, that has been used for more than 15 years in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer. As such, it should not be considered as new treatment, but rather as a device designed to deliver this type of treatment. Indeed, FDA clearance of the MammoSite in May 2002 was based on its determination that the MammoSite was comparable in safety and efficacy to conventional brachytherapy delivery treatments. Moreover, the FDA did not and has not restricted its use as a "boost," or extra, focused treatment.

The MammoSite allows for a five-day treatment time, minimal radiation exposure to healthy (noncancerous) tissue, and excellent cosmetic results. Importantly, a recent study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute demonstrated that, over the course of five years, partial breast irradiation produced comparable results to whole-breast radiation therapy in preventing breast cancer recurrence in women with early stage breast cancer who had undergone breast conservation. Clinical trials using the MammoSite for first-line partial breast irradiation have also shown similar results.

I would also like to note that, contrary to the information included in that letter to the editor, the most expensive radiation therapy for breast cancer generally available to patients is intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), not MammoSite. No long-term studies of the benefits of IMRT to breast cancer patients have been published.

Stephanie Akbari, MD, FACS

Director, Center for Breast Health, PC

McLean