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2016 Publication Archive

“Presidential Little-known, Medicine-related Interesting Facts: Number One”

Dec 25, 2016

There are many little-known but interesting, medicine-related facts regarding our American Presidents. President William Henry Harrison briefly studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania until his father died and left him without money to continue his education.

No US president has ever held a degree in medicine. Harrison lost his first presidential bid in 1836 at age 63 but was successful the next time around, in 1840—only to die 32 days after taking office, of complications from pneumonia. He had the tragic record of having had the shortest presidency. Ron Paul, MD was the first physician in modern times to run for US president. Dr. Paul, father of ophthalmologist Rand Paul, first ran for President of the United States in 1988 as the candidate of the Libertarian Party. In 2008 and 2012, he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for president. Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, campaigned for the Republican nomination this year but dropped out of the race. Dr. Howard Dean, the only Democrat family physician, sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. Dr. Jill Stein, an internist, ran for president in 2012 on the Green Party ticket. John F. Kennedy was the first President to name the first woman to the office of Chief Physician to the US President. Janet Graeme Travell, MD, became the personal physician to President Kennedy when he was elected in 1960.

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“Holiday Overeating”

Dec 18, 2016

Like going on a cruise, the holidays are known for overeating and weight gain. According to one study, the average person consumes over 7,000 calories on Christmas Day, more than triple the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily caloric intake. So, what is one to do? First, try to avoid too many calorie-rich celebratory alcoholic drinks. They can be calorie block busters, along with seasonal food favorites. Still, many will eat/drink too much and regret it later, as heartburn, nausea, bloating and other types of discomfort kick in. Research suggests that eating habits are transmitted socially, and that social influence affects what and how much we eat. Social influence refers to the impact that one or more people have on the behavior of others, including food consumption. When we eat with others, we tend to conform to their ways. People eat differently whether in a group or alone, and food consumption depends on who is sitting round the table. If a fellow diner is eating a large amount, a person will probably eat more than they would alone.

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“Aspirin In Low Doses Has Many Benefits”

Dec 11, 2016

A University of Southern California study reported that for older Americans with a high risk of heart disease, taking low–dose aspirin every day could 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. Low dose aspirin, 80 mg or less daily, is the dosage in discussion. However, the long-term benefits of low-dose, daily aspirin were questioned this year after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued updated aspirin guidelines that declared the clinical benefit of aspirin, but seemed at odds with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA was concerned that some patients, particularly those 60 and older, face an increased risk of stroke and bleeding — both gastrointestinal and in the brain — if they take aspirin daily. Étienne Gaudette, an assistant professor at the USC School of Pharmacy and policy director of the USC Royal Center for Health Policy Simulation, said, “The problem that this creates for Americans and medical professionals is that the information about aspirin is confusing.

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“Alcohol Intake Linked to Cancers, Now Include Prostate Cancer”

Dec 04, 2016

Breast, esophagus, colon, and liver, are malignancies for which alcohol is a well-established risk factor. New studies indicate that prostate cancer can be added to the list of cancers for which drinking alcohol is a risk factor. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared alcohol to be a cancer-causing agent (carcinogen) in 1988. Alcoholic beverages can contain at least 15 carcinogenic compounds, including acetaldehyde, acrylamide, aflatoxins, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, ethanol, ethyl carbamate, formaldehyde, and lead. Ethanol is the most important carcinogen in alcoholic beverages. The 2014 World Cancer Report (WCR), issued by the World Health Organization’s IARC said that no amount of alcohol is safe. Nonetheless, today we hear the dangerous mantra of “responsible drinking” which promotes or gives one a free pass to drink alcohol in moderation. Repeated studies show the more alcohol that a person drinks, the higher the risk of developing cancer. In fact, a causal relationship exists between alcohol consumption and cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon-rectum, liver, and female breast. Additionally, a significant relationship also exists between alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.

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“Statins: A 2016 Update”

Nov 27, 2016

The global market for statins has been estimated to be staggering over the last decade, as drug manufacturers have set out to “statinize” the world with cholesterol-lowering medicines. Total sales of statins may approach $1 trillion worldwide by 2020; the most commercially successful drug in history, atorvastatin (Lipitor®), had sales exceeding $120 billion between 1996 and 2011. Under the new guidelines, about 1 in 3 American adults overall, and perhaps as many as 1 billion worldwide, would be potential candidates for statin treatment. However, there are hundreds of studies proving the adverse effects of statins, which includes everything from memory loss, to muscle problems to diabetes and increased cancer risk. Harm from taking statins are a major concern and statin users have reported numerous potentially statin-related side effects, ranging from decreased cognitive ability and fatigue to diabetes and liver and kidney damage. However, the majority described myalgia (muscle pain) and rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown) thought to be related to statin use.

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“Heartburn Drugs May Increase The Risk Of Stokes”

Nov 20, 2016

Even Larry The Cable Guy is hawking heartburn drugs, without mentioning the possible harmful downside to these powerful medications.  Most PPIs in the United States are now available over the counter. The most common PPIs are omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium).  At a 2016 meeting of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, it was shown that a popular group of antacids known as Proton Pump Inhibitors, or PPIs, used to reduce stomach acid and treat heartburn may increase the risk of ischemic stroke and the increased risk was dramatic.  Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, is caused by clots blocking blood flow to or in the brain.  Most patients do not know that PPIs have been associated with unhealthy vascular function, including heart attacks, kidney disease and dementia.  Experts say that at one time, PPIs were thought to be safe, without major side effects, but this new study further questions the cardiovascular safety of these drugs. Researchers analyzed the records of 244,679 Danish patients for nearly six years of follow up, and 9,489 patients had an ischemic stroke for the first time in their lives.

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“Alkaline Water: Is it Worth the Money ?”

Nov 13, 2016

Recently, the craze to alkalize everything hit the general news, especially drinking alkalinized water. But, what is the scientific evidence that it is actually good for your overall health?  Claims of health benefits have helped increase the popularity of alkaline diets and sales of machines that turn water alkaline. Ionizing machines are one example of these products, which can cost up to a thousand dollars. Alkaline water is the opposite of acidic water and it has a pH above seven. It has a higher pH level than plain water, which is below a pH of 7.0, down to zero. Neutral is a pH of 7.0. On the acidic side, vinegar is around pH 3, lemon juice is around pH 2, and battery acid is around pH 1. On the alkaline side, baking soda is between pH 8 and 9, and Milk of Magnesia is between pH 10 and 11. Water that is too high or too low in pH has adverse effects. Water that is too alkaline has a bitter taste. It can cause deposits to encrust pipes and appliances. Highly acidic water may corrode metals or even dissolve them. Machines called ionizers make water alkaline, but they are expensive.

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“Antibiotics: Debunking the Myths”

Nov 06, 2016

Famed Johns Hopkins physician, Dr. Osler, said, “Half of everything we’re taught is wrong – the problem is, which half?” Such appears to be the case with modern day antibiotics. Investigators are attempting to debunk widely believed myths about antibiotics and resistance. A sulfa drug synthesized in 1931, prontosil rubrum, was the first clinically useful antibacterial that was safe and effective. However, prontosil was not the first antibacterial agent and humans were not the initial inventors. Between 2 and 2.5 billion years ago, genetic analysis indicates that bacteria invented antibiotics and an antibiotic-resistance mechanism. Bacteria have been killing each other with these antibiotic weapons, and using antibiotic resistance mechanisms to protect themselves against these weapons, for 20 million times longer than we have even known that antibiotics exist. Investigators explored a deep cave in the Carlsbad Caverns system in New Mexico, a geological formation that has been isolated from the surface of the planet for 4 million years and had never before been accessed by humans. They found every strain of bacteria was resistant to at least one modern antibiotic and most were multidrug-resistant. Investigators concluded microbes had already invented antibiotics to poison every possible biochemical pathway, and resistance mechanisms to protect every one of those pathways, even in absence of mankind’s interference.

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“Calcium: Get it from Natural Foods Not Supplements”

Oct 23, 2016

Experts are recommending a cautious approach to taking calcium supplements, especially following the results of new studies. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronary heart disease kills over 370,000 people each year in the U.S. More than half of women over 60 take calcium supplements, many without the oversight of a physician, because they believe it will reduce their risk of osteoporosis. An estimated 43% of American adult men and women take a supplement that includes calcium, according the NIH. Researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people in a federally funded heart disease study and found that taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, even though a diet high in calcium–rich natural foods appears be protective. However, in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers caution that their work only documents an association between calcium supplements and atherosclerosis, and does not prove cause and effect. Still, they say the results add to growing scientific concerns about the potential harms of supplements, and they urge a consultation with a knowledgeable physician before using calcium supplements.

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“Flu Vaccines: Ten Reasons to Question their Effectiveness”

Oct 16, 2016

In the U.S., it is recommended that everyone get the flu vaccine every year. But, are the flu vaccines effective or safe for adults and children? Based on an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola, I have found ten reasons to question the yearly use of the flu vaccine as follows: 1) With each successive annual flu vaccination, the protection afforded by the vaccine appears to diminish. Vaccine-induced protection against influenza was greatest among those who had NOT received a flu shot in the previous five years. 2) In January 2015, U.S. government officials admitted that flu shots are, at best, 50 to 60 percent effective. 3) Even when studies “matched” vaccines to the viral strain, 97% of those injected received no benefit. 4) Compared to children who do not get an annual flu vaccine, those who receive influenza vaccinations have a three times higher risk of hospitalization due to influenza. 5) Statin drugs — taken by 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 45 — may undermine your immune system’s ability to respond to the flu vaccine.

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