Contributor: James Johnson
South Asians Beware of Kidney
A new study has revealed that South Asians are at a higher risk of contracting heart problems after kidney transplants when compared to populations outside South Asia. Dr Ramesh Prasad, a nephrologist, told CNN that he tracked 800 Canadians, 139 of whom were South Asian and during his study it was discovered that 4.4 out of 100 South Asians who had a kidney transplants died after a major cardiac arrest if it occurred within one year of the transplant. Other groups studied showed only 1.3 out of 100 deaths occurred in other ethnic groups. The study according to Dr. Milan Gupta of McMaster University showcases why ethnic based health understanding is important for surgical practices. The study specifically showcases why all Asian groups should not be lumped together for surgery practices.
Nutrition Facts When Eating Out?
You may not have realized that with the passing of the Health Care bill, Section 2572 requires that any restaurants with 20 locations must soon begin displaying nutritional and calorie information on menus. Many restaurants have already begun the process of adding such information to their menus, while others have requested more information from the Federal government. Under the legislation the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) must suggest specific regulations by March 2011 and there will then be an unspecified time period for those proposals to go into effect. Restaurants argue that the move will greatly insult their bottom line, while health agencies have heralded the move as nearly one-third of Americans are classified as obese and another one-third are classified as overweight.
One Tylenol Is to Much for Teens
Epidemiologist Richard Beasley, Director of the Medical Research Institute in Wellington, New Zealand, has published a study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggesting that teens taking just one acetaminophen pill, more commonly known as Tylenol in a one year period are more susceptible to asthma related issues. The study currently in stage 3 of 4 testing, examined 322,000 teenagers in 50 countries from 113 different medical centers. The study has found that teens who take just one pill in one year are 43 percent more likely to have asthma, while once a month use increases those risks 2.5 times. According to the study, "Acetaminophen use may represent an important risk factor for the development and/or maintenance of asthma..."
Young Men, Beware of Your Weight
Young obese men beware! A Danish study has found that men who are obese by 20-years-old die eight years sooner than non-obese counterparts. The study included 5,000 military conscripts (2,000 who were obese at the start of the study) and participants ranged in age from 20 to 80-years-old. The study found that obesity by the age of 20 increased the risk of death by 10 percent for every point over 25 body mass index points. Esther Zimmermann of Copenhagen University Hospital says "At age 70 years, 70 percent of the men in the comparison group and 50 percent of those in the obese group were still alive and we estimated that from middle-age the obese were likely to die eight years earlier than those in the comparison group." Other top studies have validated these findings in men and women.
Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease
A new study from the American Heart Association has found that individuals with sleep apnea are more likely to suffer heart trouble. Sleep apnea, which causes shallow or stopped breathing while sleeping can lead to extreme fatigue, eventually causing injury to the heart. The study took place over eight years with 4,500 adults, all of whom were 40 years or older. Daniel Gottlieb, study author and associate professor at Boston University's School of Medicine told CNN, "Men with severe obstructive sleep apnea were 58 percent more likely to develop new congestive heart failure over eight years of follow up compared to men without sleep apnea." To fight the effects of Sleep Apnea researchers suggest that a mixture of weight loss through diet and exercise be used to maintain a healthy body.
Fat Kids = Acid Reflux Issues
Childhood obesity is bad in children for many reasons, now we can add an increased chance of acid reflux to the list. Researchers studied 690,000 children enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente health plan and they found that even moderately obese children and teens had a 30% greater change of contracting GERD, while extremely obese children had a 40% chance. In comparison only approximately 15 percent of the general population contract GERD. GERD can cause inflammation in the esophagus, acid indigestion and heart burn among other issues. The main concern is that the longer someone has acid reflux, the higher the probability of contracting esphogeaal cancer. While children can be treated for GERD, the medication can affect the way their bones form, leading to weak bones as they grow older.
Back Pain? Perhaps Try a Placebo
A recent Norwegian study has found that glucosamine is no more effective than placebo pills when attacking chronic back pain caused by degenerative arthritis. The study, lasting 6 months, urged researchers to recommend that doctors do not prescribe the medicine for backpain. Glucosamine is a dietary supplement which has been shown effective in smaller studies, but had not been studied on the type of scale offered by this recent study. The team from Oslo University Hospital wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "Based on our results, it seems unwise to recommend glucosamine to all patients with chronic lumbar pain and degenerative lumbar osteoarthritis." 80 percent of the population suffers from some sort of back pain and glucosamine was a cheap treatment option.
Mini Telescope Gives Vision
"This implant will mean so much to so many people who have lost their independence"
- Joan Karpeak in the comments
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a procedure in which a miniature telescopic implant is placed in the eye, helping replace macular degeneration. According to CNN macular degeration is the leading cause of "severe vision loss" in the United States for people over the age of 60. The device works by acting as a telescope inside the eye, replacing the eyes natural lens while magnifying and projecting images onto the still healthy part of the retina. The telescopic section works for straight forward vision, while the persons non-implanted part of the eye takes care of peripheral vision. The implant is a move in the right direction for nearly 8 million Americans who suffer from the disease. The implant is meant for patients 75 years and older who have sever vision issues.
A Menopause Timetable Test
Woman who don't want to be surprised by the onset of menopause may soon have a better idea of when it will arrive. Using a simple blood test it's believed doctor's will one day be able to determine when menopause will arrive, with woman as young as 20 years old being able to take the test. The test is being validated with further studies and could help more accurately determine reproductive decisions as woman enter the later part of life when reproductive capabilities can falter. Authors of the study are expected to reveal their findings on Monday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. According to CNN, the study worked by measuring the amount of anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) in women's bodies. AMH is proportional to the number of viable eggs left in the ovaries.
Detecting a Deadly Disease
"I have spent 12 hours searching the CDC site and PubMed for documentation of the claim about current test problems, but have found nothing to support it. Where is it documented?"
- Roma Levy in the comments
The FDA today approved a new diagnostic test that detects not only antibodies, but also antigens. Antigens are proteins that are created by a virus, bacteria or other microorganisms directly upon infection, which means the test will be able to detect the disease days earlier than older antibody only tests. The new test, called ARCHITECT HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay was created at Abbott Laboratories and can be used to detect both HIV-1 and HIV-2 in adults, children 2 years and older and pregnant women. The test does not detect what type of HIV is present, but can help lead to other testing if needed. The CDC says traditional tests miss up to 10 percent of infections in "high-risk" populations, while the new test will help more accurately test low to high risk groups.
Wanna Get Sick? Buy Fake Tamiflu
The Food And Drug Administration is warning consumers that fake Tamiflu is currently available at various online locations. FDA officials say the fake substance is dangerous to people who are allergic to penicillin. According to the warning, the fake drug contains cloxacillin which is similar to penicillin and can kill individuals who suffer from penicillin allergies. If you have taken Tamiflu and you are experiencing difficulty breathing, rapid or weak pulse or swelling of the tongue or throat you should call 911 immediately. Tamiflu is only available by prescription, yet FDA investigators were able to buy 30 yellow and tan capsules online. Each capsule was marked "oseltamivir phosphate" the main ingredient in Tamiflu, but contained cloxacillin. The fake drugs are shipped from India.
A Bloody Dilemma over Meds
The FDA this week opened an investigation into the blood pressure medicine Benicar which may increase the chance of heart-related issues. The investigation comes from two clinical trials in which patients with diabetes were more likely to suffer from heart conditions versus a placebo control group. The FDA posted a risk notice on Friday, however they also said they stand behind the drugs benefits. A positive effect from both trials? Benicar appeared to slow kidney disease. Unfortunately both trials also found several cases of heart attacks, strokes and sudden death. Benicar is known as an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARBs) and there are other forms of treatment for high blood pressure. The FDA is still determining how to better assess Benicar's cardiovascular effects.
Gay or Straight, Blood Is Needed
Since the 1980's it has been illegal for gay men to give blood. The lifetime ban was put into place at the height of the AIDS epidemic stemming from fears that gay men would more quickly spread the disease. Now a special government health committee has been formed to investigate whether the Food and Drug Administration should remove or revise the ban. Since it's inception the law has been reviewed every 10 years with no changes. According to the William Institute at the UCLA School of Law, 219,000 additional pints of blood could be donated annually if the ban was removed. Gay rights groups argue that a heterosexual man who has sex with an HIV-positive partner or a prostitute must only wait 12 months before donating. The Red Cross would like a more lenient one-year "Deferral" system.
21 Million Cancer Cases a Year?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that they expect 21 million new cases of cancer to be diagnosed annually by 2030, while nearly 13 million deaths will be attributed to the disease by that time. According to their study 12.7 million new cancer cases occurred in 2008, while 7.6 million cancer patients died during that same period. That same study showed that lung cancer is the most diagnosed of cancers, afflicting 1.8 million patients in 2008, while breast cancer was second at 1.4 million cases and colorectal cancers rounded out the top three at 1.2 million cases. The study also found that lung cancer is the most deadly with 1.4 million people killed, followed by stomach cancer with 740,000 deaths and liver cancers with 690,000 people dying from the disease.
Over 40? Obesity Can Be a Killer
Under 40 and obese? You might feel moderately healthy, but a new study has found that Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a vast array of other health issues have a higher chance of occurring after the age of 40. The study took into consideration the number of medications participants took in different age groups from 25 to 70 years old. Information was polled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1988-1995 and 2003-2006. Among those surveyed was 8,880 men and 9,071 women. The study found that older obese people took much higher levels of medication than younger obese people. As an example, 28.7% of obese men from 25 to 39 years old took medications, while 60 percent of obese men from 40 to 54 years old were on medication. The study offered no conclusive results.
CDC Can Keep That Pregnancy Away
Officials at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced today their first ever guidelines for the use of contraceptives. The guidelines, aimed specifically at women who have lost weight due to surgery or with certain medical conditions targets more than 1 million individuals in the United States alone. According to the the CDC "it's safe for women with medical conditions to use most contraceptives." However, some woman with certain after surgery weight-loss can not absorb the pills active ingredient, rendering it less effective, if not useless all together. The CDC's guidelines were largely borrowed from International guidelines, however they chose to focus largely on inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions more commonly observed in the United States.
Measles Don't Like Budget Cuts
Measle cases have rapidly increased recently in parts of Africa, Asian and some European countries according to the World Health Organization. The disease is easily avoidable with proper vaccinations, however funding for vaccination campaigns have been drastically cut since 2008, allowing the extremely contagious disease to spread after being nearly eradicated. Thankfully according to MSNBC Health, "Measles deaths among young children fell to 118,000 in 2008, compared with 1.1 million in 2000." The link between the disease and a lack of vaccinations was seen when the British people received false reports linking Measles vaccines to autism. Britain has reported 1,000 cases of measles in the last two years, a number 10 times higher than a decade earlier.
Tuberculosis Extends Reach
"An increase in the diagnosed cases of TB was predicted many years ago because of the predicted growth in the number of immune-compromised people with HIV/AIDS"
- LD in the comments
Despite the efforts of health experts around the world, the number of Tuberculosis cases has continued to rise. According to a Tuberculosis edition of the British Medical Journal Lancet, 9 million infected people in 2009 with 2 million reported deaths. According to the report, more people now have TB than any time in history. The World Health Organization implemented a program several years ago in which health workers must actually watch patients take their TB drugs, a program which has failed to yield results. New strategies to fight the disease include fixing living conditions including housing, education and transportation, especially in crowded areas where TB thrives. Getting patients to finish their drugs can also ensure new drug-resistant strains do not continue to develop.
Vitamins to Good to Be True?
Taking a high level of Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements may actually increase your chances of getting sick. According to a new study, high levels of antioxidants have been shown to increase cancer risks. The connection between the pills and the disease was discovered by accident when stem cell researchers were attempting to use antioxidants to reduce oxidative damage. The scientists who discovered the connection believe that antioxidants impede the enzyme that correct DNA during the cell division process. In response to the report a doctor stated, “The simple message for consumers is: eat as much fruit and vegetables as you like,” adding “But supplements can take you into the danger zone.”
Over the Counter Fear Mongering
Starting Friday May 12th shoppers at more than 6,000 drugstores will be able to pick up over-the-counter genetic tests right next to their toothpaste and Tylenol. The tests claim to scan each users sample for increased chances of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, breast cancer and various other ailments. The tests also claim to tell users if they have a higher chance of becoming obese, going blind and even the risk of a baby being born with Tay-Sachs or Cystic Fibrosis. Users may even learn how outside factors such as cholesterol-lowering drugs and caffeine can affect their quality of life over time. While the tests may seem like the perfect solution for many users, some experts fear that without proper doctor guidance users will over react to test results and demand unnecessary treatments.
Infants and Antibiotics Debate
Children who have been prescribed antibiotics during their first year of life are three times more likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A recent study looked at imbalances in normal intestinal bacteria which is developed in larger amounts during infancy, the study found that 60% of children with IBD had received one or more prescriptions, while boys with IBD were seven times more likely to have been given infant antibiotics. Almost no link between girls and the disease was found. Researchers are still determining if other factors, such as other drugs or underlying conditions could also be contributing factors, rather than antibiotic treatments. IBD is often found in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, conditions which can cause painful side effects.
Lack of Sleep, No Lack of Fat
A recent study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has found that a lack of sleep in tweens and teens can lead to obesity. The study, assessed calorie intake for 723 tweens and teens and followed each individuals levels of daily exercise. 33 percent of those who slept less than six hours were obese, while at least seven to eight hour sleepers were in the best shape with only a 22 percent obesity level. The study found that middle school and high school boys who lack sleep are most likely to have an increased body mass index (BMI), while high school girls who lack weekend sleep tend to be the most likely to be obese. The study also pointed to other conditions of sleep deprivation including higher blood pressure, an increased risk of diabetes and depression.
Insulin Needs It's Sleep Too
Missing even one nights worth of sleep can hinder the bodies ability for insulin to process sugar in the bloodstream. A new research study has found information to tie the rise in adult-onset diabetes to Western societies who have begun sleeping less in recent years. Other studies have found the same link in multiple nights of no-sleep, this new study is the first to examine a single nights sleep. Esther Donga, Director of the Leiden University Medical Centre, told MSNBC, "Our findings show a short night of sleep has more profound effects on metabolic regulation than previously appreciated." A lack of insulin control can cause major damage to kidneys, nerves, eyes, heart and major arteries. The study is one of the first to find that insulin sensitivity isn't fixed just to unhealthy people.
How to Forget Your Fat
Certain individuals who are predisposed to obesity also have a higher probability of suffering from dementia later in life. That information is found in two studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and UCLA teaming with the University of Pittsburgh. In those studies scientists have discovered the gene that causes the brain to continuing shrinking and degenerate during aging. The fat mass and obesity gene (FTO gene) led to 8-12 percent less tissue in the carriers brain, as brain mass decreases the chance for dementia increases. Paul Thompson of UCLA, a researcher on the project says the gene can make the carriers brain look 16 years older than it actually is. Researchers recommend a low-fat diet and a regular exercise regime to fight the onset of dementia.
Yaz and Yasmin
Two popular birth control pills made by Bayer HealthCare, Yaz and Yasmin, have received new blood clot risk labels. The new labels (Yaz label, Yasmin label), designed in conjunction with the FDA, provide the same type of warnings for the drugs as found with other oral contraceptives. According to MSNBC Health, the newly minted label is based on multiyear studies of over 120,000 women in the U.S. and U.K. and the risk of blood clots they experienced. Both drugs contain drospirenone, ethinyl and estradiol, derivatives of naturally occurring female hormones. Despite the changes, the labels make clear that "[t]he serious side effects of the pill occur very infrequently, especially if you are in good health and are young."
Processed Cancer. Meats to Avoid
A recent study conducted at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia has found a possible link between processed meats such as hot dogs and salami and ovarian cancer. The report, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition observed 2,000 women with Ovarian cancer and 2,200 without the disease. Woman who ate four or more servings of processed meat per week increased their chances of Ovarian cancer by 18 percent. The study also found that women who ate four or more fish servings per week were 24 percent less likely to contract Ovarian cancer, poultry also reduced risk of the disease. One theory for a processed meats link is that nitrites and nitrates can form nitrosamines, known causes of cancer in animals. Nitrosamines have yet to be linked to Ovarian cancer.
Adult Candy? Not Quite
Brand new smokeless tobacco products that look like breath mints and breath-freshening strips have begun to enter the market and with flavors that include mint and cinnamon, researchers are seeing a rising number of tobacco poisoning cases in children who have ingested the products. Camel Orbs, a form of tobacco filled mints and Camel Strips, a dissolving tongue strip are not only easy to ingest, they feature scents and flavors that kids have come to know from popular products such as tic tac mints and Listerine strips. Tobacco poisoning has traditionally occurred when children have eaten actual cigarettes or smokeless tobacco (chew), now RJ Reynolds has made the process of tobacco poisoning easier than ever before. It should be noted, the products are said to be in child safe casing.
Hair Today. Gone Tomorrow
Researchers have discovered a human gene that they believe may affect hair growth. The discovery is being investigated to determine if new treatments for male pattern baldness can be created or hair removal processes can be developed. The team, located at Columbia, Rockefeller and Stanford Universities found the APCDD1 gene which causes a hair condition known as hypotrichosis simplex which is a progressive condition that starts at childhood and develops into adult age. The condition causes hair follicles to shrink and narrow over time, causing thick hair to be replaced by fine hair and "peach fuzz." During testing on Mice scientists discovered that they could use the gene to turn on and off hair growth is the rodents, unfortunately no human experiments have taken place at this time.
Smoking Can Be Quite Depressing
Individuals with depression share a link to the cigarettes they smoke. According to a government report, people 20 years and older with depression are twice as likely to be cigarette smokers. That same study found that the more severe the smoker's depression, the higher the likelihood that they would increasing their smoking frequency. According to the study 43 percent of adults males 20 years and older who have depression are smokers, while only 22 percent of non-depressed men in the same group smoke. Women with depression had similar numbers, however women without depression smoked less than males without depression. The study also found that depressed smokers are less likely to quit. What the study failed to address is why depressed people tend to smoke more and quite less.