Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lifestyle Factors Accelerate Aging, Risk Factors Not Controlled

Two articles hit the news on April 27. A British study reported that bad habits can age the body up to 12 years. The habits are smoking, more than 2-3 drinks a day, less than 2 hours of exercise a week, and fewer than 3 servings of fruit and veggies daily. The CDC stated in an on-line report that nearly half of the adults nationwide are at high risk of heart disease and 15% of those are not aware that they have a problem. Major risk factors include high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. These risk factors are basic, but there are more. The effects of stress and pollution (especially from lead and mercury) are equally dangerous. All of the factors are treatable, with minimal reliance on medications, which have their own set of side effects. Prevention and safe, effective treatments are the answer to our health care crisis.

See. The Toledo Blade (click here), April 27, 2010, p. 1&4.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Distracted Driving is a Huge Risk Factor

Researchers from the University of Michigan and Georgetown found that 16% of driving fatalities were caused by distracted driving. In 2009, 515,000 people were injured while not paying attention to the road. When texting, drivers are not seeing the road 4.6 out of 6 seconds. Texting drivers had accident rates 23 times as high as nontexting. Truck driver texting was twice as dangerous. Cell phones also increased the risk, and there was no difference with hands-free phones. Please pull over. You might be putting us all at risk.

See JAMA (click here), 4/14/10, p. 1419-1420.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Calcium Reduces Risk of Cancer

A Puerto Rican study funded by the National Cancer Institute found a 40% reduction in the incidence of breast cancer in women who take calcium supplements. Previous studies have indicated that calcium helps prevent colon cancer as well. Calcium helps with DNA repair. To get the maximum benefit, I suggest that you take at least 500 mg of calcium daily that is balanced with magnesium, add a multivitamin, and top it off with about 5000iu of Vitamin D. A family history of breast cancer, long term use of a synthetic progestin, and no history of breast feeding are other important risk factors.

See Bloomberg News, 4/20/2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

HbA1C Has Now Become the Standard for Diagnosing Diabetes

No longer is a fasting blood sugar considered a valid test to see if you have diabetes or a tendency for it. The HbA1C measures the average blood sugar over a 3-month period, and is a more accurate indicator. Levels at 6.5% or higher diagnose diabetes. Levels between 5.5-6.4% raise the yellow flag that you have prediabetes, and need to improve your diet and exercise immediately. If you already have diabetes, levels at or below 7% indicate good control. Pushing to the low 6’s is not necessarily better, probably due to the added drugs required, some of which result in weight gain.

From Family Practice News (click here), 3/15/10, p. 16.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sweetened Beverages Increase Heart Attacks and Diabetes

The computer-generated Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model, supported by an AMA grant concluded that there were 14,000 new cases of coronary heart disease and 130,000 new cases of diabetes caused by an increased consumption of sweetened beverages between 1990 and 2000, which includes soda, sports drinks and fruit drinks. The risk was additive to that caused by an increase in obesity during the same period. One solution proposed is ludicrous, adding a 1-cent tax on all such drinks. Anyone who has shopped for a drink at a gas station lately has noted a much greater increase in price than that in the last few years with no obvious decrease in volume sold. What we need is much better nutrition education in our schools and in our media. It can mean life or death or long-term disability.

Google Dr. Litsa K. Lambrakos of the University of California, San Francisco, reported in Family Practice News (click here), 3/15/10, p. 10.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Landmark Article on MMR Risk for Developing Autism Retracted by Lancet

In an editorial for Family Practice News, Dr. Stephen Pelton expressed relief that prominent English medical journal, Lancet, had retracted its 1998 article by Andrew J. Wakefield and associates that postulated that their might be a link between giving the MMR vaccine and developing autism and that it would be safer to separate the shots into individual units. In Japan this recommendation was followed, and the incidence of autism continued to increase. Pelton referred to other studies that have failed to show such a link. The extraordinary step of article retraction was obviously politically motivated. Pelton serves on the Advisory Boards of 3 drug companies. FP News is published by the same company as Lancet. There was no reason to void Wakefield’s article from the urgent debate. There is no one cause for autism. Genetically susceptible kids are stimulated to having their genes expressed by some combination of toxic chemical exposure. The incidence of autism is skyrocketing. We need a massive effort to make our kids safer from this devastating disease. Parents repeatedly link the beginnings of autism to vaccine administration. There is a lot we can do to make vaccine administration safer. Why don’t we focus on that, at least to start with?

See Family Practice News (click here), 3/15/10, p. 9.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Glaxo-Smith Kline and Senate Debate the Risk of Taking Diabetic Drug

One of the biggest drug companies, GSK, has been chastised by a Senate Committee for hiding information from the public about Avandia causing an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The report claims that GSK also tried to intimidate a scientist from submitting an article to that effect that was eventually published in the New England Journal of Medicine. At least 7 major drug companies have paid a total of $7 billion in fines since 2004 for such “unseemly activity”. Despite this cost of doing business, these companies continue to make huge profits in a troubled economy.

See Family Practice News (click here), 3/15/10, p. 5.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Osteoporosis Might Become Worse with Drug Treatment

Two fairly small studies reported in Family Practice News indicated that drugs like Fosamox and Boneva increased the quantity of bone growth, but decreased the quality so that there was an increased risk of fractures of the Femur after long-term use. Even though the studies were small, one of the studies was supported by biopsy findings and the other compared the results with calcium and low-dose vitamin D supplementation. Those patients taking supplements had better long-term results. Those taking at least 5000 iu of vitamin D might have even better results.

See Family Practice News (click here), 3/15/2010, p. 1-2.