“Daily Fiber Intake is Important”Jan 20, 2019
Fiber is an essential part of a healthful diet, and most Americans do not meet the recommended daily guidelines. Meeting the daily recommended intake of fiber can provide many health benefits. High-fiber foods are an essential part of a healthful weight loss diet. It is important to consume the right amount of fiber each day, spread throughout the day. A less common problem is when a person eats too much fiber too quickly, which can cause digestive problems. Fiber is the carbohydrate component of plant-based foods that is not digested or absorbed as it moves through the intestine. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the following approximate daily intake: men require about 34 grams (g) depending on their age and women require about 28 g depending on their age. Eating more than 70g per day is not advised and can have adverse effects. When increasing the amount of fiber in the diet, it is best to start slowly, increasing it gradually to allow the digestive system time to get used to it. According to a new review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), eating more dietary fiber and whole grains protects against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. For every 15 g increase in daily consumption of whole grains, total deaths and the incidence of CHD, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer decreased by 2% to 19%.
“Cancer Incidence Still Increasing”Jan 13, 2019
Cancer is expected to become the leading cause of mortality and the greatest barrier to increasing life expectancy in every country in the 21st century. The rapid worldwide growth in cancer incidence and mortality reflect aging and growth of the population; changes in the prevalence and distribution of the main risk factors for cancer, some of which are linked to socioeconomic development; and marked declines in mortality rates of stroke and coronary heart disease compared with cancer in many countries. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) now cause most deaths worldwide. In 2018, an estimated 18.1 million new cases cancer were diagnosed globally, and 9.6 million died from the disease. One in 5 men and 1 in 6 women worldwide will develop cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 8 men and 1 in 11 women will die from cancer. Cancer incidence and mortality are rapidly growing worldwide. Worldwide, the total number of people who are alive within 5 years of a cancer diagnosis (the 5-year prevalence) is estimated to be 43.8 million.
“Lifespan Slowing Increasing in America”Jan 06, 2019
Recently, researchers predicted that by 2040, people the world over will be living longer. In extreme cases, such as Syria and Nigeria, the researchers projected life expectancy to increase by as many as 10 years. But in the United States, they estimated that it will rise by only 1.1 year—putting the United States in the bottom five of all countries in terms of life expectancy growth by 2040. In 2016, the United States ranked 43rd among all nations’ life expectancies, with an average lifespan of 78.7 years. But in 2040, life expectancy in the United States is forecast to be only 79.8 years, falling to a rank of 64th among all nations—the biggest drop in rank among high-income countries. China ranked 68th in 2016, with an average life expectancy of 76.3 years. But if trends continue through 2040, China could rise to a rank of 39th, with an average life expectancy of 81.9 years—a 5.6-year increase in lifespan. So, what is holding us back? Researchers anticipate a coming shift in premature death from communicable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, and lung cancer and problems related to obesity. However, people can still learn to make changes to avoid these outcomes. For example, one bright spot for the United States was that it was one of only 20 countries that reduced the population’s risk of exposure to tobacco faster than 2% between 1990 and 2016. The future of the world’s health is not preordained. Experts say that the top three health drivers behind the future trajectory for early death will be metabolic factors—high blood pressure, high body mass index, and high blood sugar.
“Marijuana Pros and Cons as of 2019”Dec 30, 2018
Marijuana, or cannabis, was first used in Egypt 3,000 years ago and Britain’s Queen Victoria was also prescribed tincture of cannabis. Yet, the Food and Drug Administration has not deemed marijuana safe or effective in the treatment of any medical condition. But, this has not stopped the drive for its legalization. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have now made marijuana available for medical—and, in some states, recreational—purposes. Consequently, we have seen a sharp rise in marijuana use and this has prompted major public health concerns. So, what are the harms or health benefits of “pot.” Research has yielded results to suggest that marijuana may be of benefit in the treatment of some conditions, such as chronic pain, alcoholism and drug addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. A large 2017 review found that marijuana, or products containing cannabinoids are effective at relieving chronic pain. Another 2017 review found that using marijuana may help people with alcohol or opioid dependencies to fight their addictions. But, other studies suggests that marijuana use actually drives increased risk for abusing, and becoming dependent on other substances. A review published in Clinical Psychology Review found some evidence supporting the use of marijuana to relieve depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
“Cancer Linked to Infections”Dec 23, 2018
Almost 22% of cancer deaths in the developing world and 6% in industrialized countries are caused by chronic infections and most are known to be due to viruses. For example, hepatitis B or C virus are known to cause cancer of the liver, human papillomavirus (HPV) is linked to cervical cancer and helicobacter pylori bacteria increases the risk of stomach cancer. Even though the infections described here can raise a person’s risk of certain types of cancer, most people with these infections never develop cancer. The risk of developing cancer is also influenced by other factors. For example, infection with Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) bacteria might increase your risk of stomach cancer, but what you eat, whether or not you smoke, and other factors also affect your risk. The percentage of infection related cancer deaths is even higher in developing countries, but it is lower in the United States and other developed countries. This is partly because certain infections are more common in developing countries, and partly because some other risk factors for cancer, such as obesity, are more common in developed countries. Also, some infections weaken the immune system, making the body less able to fight off other cancer-causing infections. And some viruses, bacteria, and parasites also cause chronic inflammation, which may lead to cancer. Many of the infections that influence cancer risk can be passed from person to person, but cancer itself cannot.
“Coffee – Pros and Cons”Dec 16, 2018
Over half (55%) of the US population drinks coffee on a daily basis, at an average of about 2 cups per day. The U.S. spends $40 billion on coffee each year. But, is all this coffee affecting our health? Caffeine and other compounds in coffee have been shown to help you burn more calories, reduce cellular damage, aid in DNA repair, and provide anti-inflammatory effects. Coffee may even lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Yet, the American Academy of Pediatrics says caffeine has been linked to harmful effects on young people’s developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems. People are bewildered by confusing medical reports related to coffee. A Mayo Clinic study found that men who drank more than four 8 oz. cups of coffee had a 21% increase in all-cause mortality. Too much coffee can cause restlessness, wakefulness, and “the jitters.” In addition, too much coffee during pregnancy (more than 4 cups per day) has been linked with preterm births, low birth weights, and stillbirths. Coffee also raises the risk of bone fractures in women. A new study in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation found that people who drank a moderate amount of coffee (fewer than five cups per day) experienced a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes and suicide. Surprisingly, those reductions may not be due to the caffeine in those magic beans. Coffee drinkers experienced the same beneficial effects whether they sipped full strength or decaf. Drinking coffee raises cholesterol and it significantly contributes to increased levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and triglycerides.
“Vitamin D and Fish Oil of Little Benefit in Heart Disease, Cancer”Dec 09, 2018
More research is showing no significant benefit from vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer and little benefit from omega-3 supplements. The Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL) is one of the largest randomized, placebo-controlled trials to examine these associations. The study comprised almost 26,000 participants. The two primary outcome measures were invasive cancer of any type and major CVD events, which was a composite of stroke, myocardial infarction (MI), and CVD-related death. Neither the participants who received vitamin D3 nor those who received 1 g of marine n-3 fatty acids (omega-3) per day showed a significantly lower incidence of either outcome over 5 years of follow-up. However, there was a 28% reduction in risk for myocardial infarction (MI) alone in the full group receiving omega-3 and a 77% reduction in MI risk among black participants in the omega-3 group. This may point to a very promising approach to reducing coronary risk among African Americans. But overall the results were not impressive with any of the primary findings and only showed marginal benefits in “sub-analyses or in secondary endpoints,” which are not reliable scientific evidence of benefit. Importantly, no significant adverse events occurred with either agent, including no increased risk for hypercalcemia with vitamin D and no increased risk for bleeding with omega-3. Jane Armitage, MD, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, noted that although this was a well-conducted and well-powered study with an ethnically diverse population and good follow-up, “it was robustly negative” overall.
“Should the Doctor Shake a Patient’s Hand?”Dec 02, 2018
Dirty hands can transmit many types of infection. If you think shaking hands is a friendly gesture, thing again. It is a well-known health hazard. Dirty hands can transmit infections such as noroviruses and salmonella that cause diarrhea and vomiting, rhinoviruses that can give you a cold, as well as the viruses that cause flu and chickenpox. Diseases that spread rapidly and can be fatal, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile, can also lurk on hands. The bugs can be transferred to surfaces and door handles for other people to share. So, should we keep our hands to ourselves? These days, hospitals and offices are oozing with indestructible bacteria and patients are trigger-happy with lawsuits over perceived offenses. When you shake hands with someone, you’re greeting dozens, if not hundreds, of species of bacteria. In one study, researchers found that the typical person’s hand has more than 150 distinct species of bacteria living on it. And the bacteria are diverse. The microbes on the other person’s hand are vastly different from the ones on your hand. Specifically, researchers found more than 4,700 different bacteria species among 102 human hands, with just 5 species shared among all participants—a commonality of only 13%. Even your right hand has only 17% of the same bacteria as your left hand, the researchers found. Surprisingly, the researchers also showed that the overall diversity of bacteria on individual hands was not significantly affected by regular handwashing. Either the bacterial colonies rapidly re-establish after hand washing or washing does not remove most bacteria found on the skin surface. Still, that’s no excuse to skip washing your hands.
“Five Things Harboring Germs in Hospitals”Nov 25, 2018
Surprisingly, many hospital surfaces are contaminated with germs and should not be touched. It turns out that there’s a body of research on the infectious nature of fomites (infection-harboring materials) in health-care settings. You may never look at a clipboard, stethoscope, faucet, clothing item or tie in the same way again. Canadian researchers discovered that patient privacy curtains found in hospital rooms become increasingly contaminated as days go by, and by day 14, nearly 90% harbored methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Five everyday hospital contaminated areas are as follows: 1) Patient privacy curtains; 2) Stethoscopes; 3) Tabletops; 4) Hospital linens; and 5) Neckties.
“Aspirin of Little Benefit for Heart Disease, Stroke”Nov 18, 2018
As of 2016, recommendations were for older Americans with a high risk of heart disease, to take low–dose aspirin every day to reduce their risk of a heart attack, prevent some cancers and cancer death, extend their lives and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients over the course of 20 years. By 2017, experts recommended that you should use daily aspirin therapy only after first talking to your health care professional, who can weigh the benefits and risks. However, after carefully examining scientific data from major studies, FDA had concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called “primary prevention.” In such people, the benefit has not been established but risks—such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach—are still present. Caution is needed with blood thinners. When you have a heart attack, it’s because one of the coronary arteries (which provide blood to the heart), has developed a clot that obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Aspirin works by interfering with your blood’s clotting action. Care is needed when using aspirin with other blood thinners, such as warfarin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and apixiban (Eliquis). As of 2018, three new large studies have been completed as follows: the ASCEND study, the ARRIVE study and the ASPREE study. In the ASCEND study, aspirin use was linked to a 12% drop in the rate of serious vascular events, but a 29% increase in the rate of major bleeding events.