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NOTES: HealthNews RoundUp - 3rd Week of April, 2019



I’m Dr. Howard Smith, PENTA Medical Network,  reporting from NYC with the Health News Roundup for the 3rd week of APRIL, 2019.  I have Health News You Should Use, the latest medical discoveries and commonsense advice that you can use in a practical way to keep yourself and your family healthy.  


Here’s a run down of this weeks stories:

The Healthiest Breakfast For Diabetics

Kids’ Foreign Body Ingestions Double Over 20 Years

Muscle Power Versus Muscle Strength Associated With Longer Life

Smiling Does Make You Feel Happier

An ICU Stay Can Disrupt Brain Function

Petting Zoos Harbor Bad Germs

Taking A Break From Learning New Skills Hastens Success

Flow And Grow Drugs Are Associated with Diabetes

New Imaging Detects CTE Brain Damage In The Living

Dental Whitening Could Destroy Your Teeth

Fecal Transplants May Help Autism

A Five Minute Exercise Works Wonders

Glimpses Of Coffee Mimic Caffeine Effect

Fruits and Vegetables Keep Your Vision Clear

MEDICAL MAILBAG: Farxiga For Weight Loss?


For more information, you’ll find all the references for the stories and a copy of show notes on my website at: 


#Egg #diabetes #sugar #hyperglycemia #Ingestion #parenting #Musclepower #strength #Expression #mood #weightlifting #ICU #neuropathy #Learning #practice #rest #Finasteride #dutasteride #diabetes #CTE #chronictraumaticencephalopathy #tau #dementia #football #soccer

#Whiteningstrips #dentalenamel #dentin #collagen #autism #MTT #microbiome #fecaltransplant

#Inspiratorymuscletraining #IMST #aerobics #respiratorymuscles #Cataracts #fruits #vegetables #farxiga #dieting


Here is the news:

The Healthiest Breakfast For Diabetics

Should you eat fruit with toast or eggs and ham for your first meal of the day if you’re a type 2 diabetic.  The answer comes from the University of British Columbia, and the eggs win hands down.


Researchers there studied 23 adults with non-insulin dependent diabetes and randomly fed them a meal plan that contained identical numbers of calories and differed only in the content of the breakfasts.  One plan had the higher fat and protein egg breakfast and the other the typical breakfast with the majority of calories from carbohydrates.  The lunches and dinners were the same.  The study had a crossover design in which each subject experienced each meal plan.  Their blood glucose levels were continuously monitored throughout the day.


When the subjects were fed the higher fat and lower carb egg breakfast versus the higher carb cereal, fruit, and toast breakfast, they experienced a significantly lower sugar peak mid-morning after the meal.   Additional benefits of the protein and fat breakfasts included: less variability of glucose levels; less pre-meal hunger; and fewer cravings for sugar the rest of the day. 


Since sugar spikes drive blood vessel and kidney damage in diabetics, the good old egg beats the breakfast of champions any morning.


Courtney R Chang, Monique E Francois, Jonathan P Little. Restricting carbohydrates at breakfast is sufficient to reduce 24-hour exposure to postprandial hyperglycemia and improve glycemic variability. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy261


#Egg #diabetes #sugar #hyperglycemia #lowcarb #highfat

Egg, diabetes, sugar, hyperglycemia, lowcarb, highfat



Kids’ Foreign Body Ingestions Double Over 20 Years

The turn of the century has not been good for kids choking on and swallowing foreign bodies.  Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System just published in the journal Pediatrics shows that twice as many kids are choking on and swallowing foreign bodies now compared with 20 years ago.


A majority of ingestions involved infants and toddlers 1 to 3 years of age.  The most frequent objects ingested were coins at 62%, then toys at 7%, jewelry at 7%, and batteries also at 7%.  Almost 90% of the batteries ingested were the button batteries, and these are the most dangerous type of foreign body ingestion since the batteries can leak caustic chemicals that damage gastrointestinal or respiratory lining tissues.


Preventing these potential tragedies is easy:

  • Store items such as spare change, batteries, high powered magnets, and medicines out of sight and out of reach.  

  • Don’t disable child-proof packaging.

  • Follow age recommendations when buying toys, and use the choke test cylinder to determine when a toy or toy part is safe for a child under 3 to handle.

  • If an ingestion occurs, get helps quickly.  If a battery or magnet, get your child to the ED as soon as possible.  

  • Call for advice from the local ED or the national poison control center at 800-222-1222.


We parents need to keep a closer eye on our kids, and remind them not to put anything but food and drink into their mouths.


Danielle Orsagh-Yentis, Rebecca J. McAdams, Kristin J. Roberts, Lara B. McKenzie. Foreign-Body Ingestions of Young Children Treated in US Emergency Departments: 1995–2015. Pediatrics, 2019; e20181988 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2018-1988


#Ingestion #parenting #battery #coins #infants #toddlers #childsafe 

Ingestion, parenting, battery, coins, infants, toddlers, childsafe 



Muscle Power Versus Muscle Strength Associated With Longer Mobile Life

A long, healthy life with continued mobility depends on healthy, toned muscles, and many turn to weight lifting to achieve that goal.  Turns out, though, that not all types of weight lifting exercises do the trick.


A study presented just last week at the congress of the European Society of Cardiology shows muscle power rather than muscle strength is the important skill to develop.  Muscle strength is the mere ability to lift or move a given weight while muscle power is that ability plus the capability of moving the weight quickly and efficiently.


Brazilian researchers studied more than 3800 non-athletic persons 41-85 years of age.  Using a rowing exercise test, they determined the maximal muscle power in watts per kg that each subject could exert.  


Then each subject was observed over time for health issues.  During the average 6.5 year followup period, those with better than average muscle power had the best survival.  Those with below average muscle power were 5 to 10 times more likely to die.


Looking beyond survival, coordinated muscle power is more important than raw strength for getting around.  Climbing stairs requires strength in motion rather than just strength.


It is relatively easy to develop your muscle strength.  If you use weight lifting, focus on smooth, sustained motion and complete 6-8 repetitions with weights that you can handle.  Rest half a minute between reps to recharge your muscles.  


To develop muscle strength for all extremities, rowing is even better than weight lifting, since it develops smooth, coordinated weight motion.  Cycling has the same effect for the lower extremities only.


European Society of Cardiology. "Ability to lift weights quickly can mean a longer life: Not all weight lifting produces the same benefit." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2019.


#Musclepower #strength #weightlifting #rowing

Musclepower, strength, weightlifting, rowing



Smiling Does Make You Feel Happier

Psychologists have been debating over the past century whether or not smiling will actually make you feel happier.  Most thought that smiling was indeed a picker-upper until 3 years ago when a landmark study questioned that premise.


Psychologists at the University of Tennessee now provide a more definitive answer to the question by performing a meta-analysis of 138 studies that collectively reviewed findings on more than 11,000 subjects.  The tabulated results show statistically that smiling makes a person feel just a little bit happier, frowning has the opposite effect, and scowling induces an overlay of anger.


So the next time that you are in a funk, think happy thoughts and beam a smile.  Remember too, that if you are having negative thoughts about someone, your expression could give it away.  To keep your feeling to yourself, use your innate acting skills to suppress that frown.


Nicholas A. Coles, Jeff T. Larsen, Heather C. Lench. A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable.. Psychological Bulletin, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/bul0000194


#Expression #mood

Expression, mood, 



An ICU Stay Can Disrupt Brain Function

Patients admitted to an ICU for any medical problem, whether it directly affects the mind or not, is likely to be discharged with a thought disorder properly labeled a neuropathy.  Neuroscientists at Ontario’s Western University report this result after studying 20 patients who entered their hospital’s ICU with non-neurologic problems.


Each patient was assessed with psychometric tests upon discharge, and 100% of them demonstrated cognitive defects in two or more spheres including attention, decision-making, logical reasoning, and memory.  This is not surprising since any illness such as cardiovascular disease, infection, or traumatic injuries severe enough to land you in the ICU may certainly have secondary effects on your brain.


If you or a family member is in the ICU or has been there, a post-discharge visit to a neurologist should be considered.  Also be certain that the patient in question has proper supervision during the weeks following hospital discharge in order to detect an sudden and possibly life-threatening deterioration in status.


Kimia Honarmand, Sabhyata Malik, Conor Wild, Laura E. Gonzalez-Lara, Christopher W. McIntyre, Adrian M. Owen, Marat Slessarev. Feasibility of a web-based neurocognitive battery for assessing cognitive function in critical illness survivors. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (4): e0215203 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0215203


#ICU #neuropathy #cognitivedeficit #memory #attention

ICU, neuropathy, cognitivedeficit, memory, attention



Petting Zoos Harbor Bad Germs

Nasty bacteria are everywhere, and petting zoos turn out to have some of the nastiest.  An Israeli study of some 8 randomly selected petting zoos in that country reveals that an alarming number of animals are carrying drug resistant E. coli that can and do spread to human visitors. These results were presented this week at a meeting of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.


The microbiologists collected some 380 samples from about 230 animals of varied species in the petting zoos and found that 12% of the animals were colonized with one or more strains of dangerous and antibiotic resistant E. coli.  These germs cause terrible diarrhea and urinary tract infections.


Most of the bacteria were predictably in feces, but nearly a quarter of the positive cultures came from the nimasls’ skin, fur, and feathers.


Most petting zoos I’ve visited in the US do have hand washing stations.  Even so, infants and toddlers who tend to lick and suck on their fingers before that can be cleansed should not touch any of the animals.  


Older children should be watched carefully, and parents should thoroughly wash everyone’s hands after the petting zoo visit.  One more thing: do not not consume any food near these animals.  The animals may be eating there but you shouldn’t since their germs could waft though the air into your lunch.


European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. "Petting zoos could potentially transmit highly virulent drug-resistant bacteria to visitors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2019.


#Pettingzoo #ecoli #antibioticresistantbacteria #parenting #children #gastroenteritis

Pettingzoo, ecoli, antibioticresistantbacteria, parenting, children, gastroenteritis



Taking A Break From Learning New Skills Hastens Success

If you are trying to teach yourself new skills, either physical or mental, give your brain a short break during the learning process.  Neurophysiologists at the National Institutes of Health make this recommendation after analyzing the brain activity of volunteers as they master the task of reproducibly pressing a series of keys.


The scientists noted that brain wave activity which signals the cementing of behaviors into memory was more intense during short rest periods between skill practice sessions.  The subjects performed incrementally better when their initial mastery and practice sessions were interrupted by short rest periods compared with intense practice sessions followed by a night off and re-testing in the morning.


So, if you are trying to perfect a skill, learn it and practice it for awhile, then take a break, and the return to practice.  After several cycles, you should be able to optimize your performance and make it reproducible.


Marlene Bönstrup, Iñaki Iturrate, Ryan Thompson, Gabriel Cruciani, Nitzan Censor, Leonardo G. Cohen. A Rapid Form of Offline Consolidation in Skill Learning. Current Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.02.049


#Learning #practice #rest #skillconsolidation

Learning, practice, rest, skillconsolidation



Flow and Grow Drugs Can Trigger Diabetes

The drugs in question are those that make men’s urine flow and their hair grow.  Many men take finasteride, better known as Proscar and Propecia, to shrink their prostates to improve urine flow and others take the same medicine help hair grow on their scalps.  


A new study from Scotland’s University of Edinburgh reveals that this drug and its cousin dutasteride (Avodart), technically known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, can make the body less sensitive to insulin and induce type 2 diabetes.


The investigators reviewed health records from 55,000 men in the UK each of whom been taking these drugs over an 11 year period.  They discovered that this drug increases a man’s chances of developing diabetes by about 33%.


Finasteride and dutasteride are effective and popular.  Experts agree that these medications may be continued, but they add the sound medical advice that dictates close followup and surveillance of the users carbohydrate handling capabilities.  In simple terms, long term user’s docs should check them for diabetes periodically.


Li Wei, Edward Chia-Cheng Lai, Yea-Huei Kao-Yang, Brian R Walker, Thomas M MacDonald, Ruth Andrew. Incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in men receiving steroid 5α-reductase inhibitors: population based cohort study. BMJ, 2019; l1204 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.l1204


#Finasteride #dutasteride #diabetes,

Finasteride, dutasteride, diabetes




New Imaging Detects CTE Brain Damage In The Living

CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the disease caused by repetitive head trauma is typically only diagnosable by autopsies.  It was discovered by post-mortem brain examinations of professional football and soccer players that sustained repetitive head trauma.  CTE may soon be diagnosable in the living.  


Radiologists at Boston University’s med school, the Harvard Medical School, and the Mayo Clinic now report a study of  26 former NFL players using the latest PET scanning technique. These new positron emission tomography studies using unique injectable contrast agents can now detect depositions of tau proteins in the brain.


Compared with healthy controls who had not sustained head injuries, the NFL players with cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms had significantly higher deposits of tau protein on imaging.  The more years of tackle football a player had under his belt, the greater the accumulation of tau protein in the brain.


This study marks the beginning of testing for CTE in living patients.  The study authors caution that the technique is not yet ready for prime time as more and larger confirmatory studies must be completed.  


If you do know of a patient with a history of repeated head trauma who is evidencing symptoms of deteriorating brain function, it may be possible for that patient to join a study and receive imaging that could lead to treatment once that is available.


Robert A. Stern, Charles H. Adler, Kewei Chen, Michael Navitsky, Ji Luo, David W. Dodick, Michael L. Alosco, Yorghos Tripodis, Dhruman D. Goradia, Brett Martin, Diego Mastroeni, Nathan G. Fritts, Johnny Jarnagin, Michael D. Devous, Mark A. Mintun, Michael J. Pontecorvo, Martha E. Shenton, Eric M. Reiman. Tau Positron-Emission Tomography in Former National Football League Players. New England Journal of Medicine, 2019; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1900757


#CTE #chronictraumaticencephalopathy #tau #dementia #football #soccer

CTE, chronictraumaticencephalopathy, tau, dementia, football, soccer



Dental Whitening Could Destroy Your Teeth

Using whitening strips to wipe away those coffee and nicotine stains from your dental enamel makes your teeth sparkle.  But…..the chemical reactions that occur beneath the surface could trigger a time bomb.  


This warning comes from biochemical studies at New Jersey’s Stockton University that were presented last week to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


All commercial whitening strips contain hydrogen peroxide.  After it whitens the surface enamel, the peroxide penetrates deeper into the protein-rich dentin layer that makes up most of your tooth.  These new studies show the that hydrogen peroxide fragments the dentin collagen explaining why previous studies detected a diminution in the total amount of dentin collagen present.  The concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the whitening strips is sufficient to totally destroy the dentin collagen.


There are no studies to indicate whether dentin collagen can regenerate.  Until such information surfaces, the smart money is on avoiding use of whitening strips so that you don’t find your teeth crumbling.


Experimental Biology. "Teeth whitening products can harm protein-rich tooth layer: Researchers show active ingredient in whitening strips damages dentin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2019.


#Whiteningstrips #dentalenamel #dentin #collagen 

Whiteningstrips, dentalenamel, dentin, collagen 



Fecal Tranplants May Help Autism

Building on increasing evidence that the bacteria residing in our gastrointestinal system influence our brain function, a team of biotechnologists at Arizona State University report beneficial effects of gut bacterial manipulation on the behavior and GI symptoms of autistic subjects. Their latest report in the journal Scientific Reports catalogs the long-term success of Microbiota Transfer Therapy that is essentially the transfer of highly selected GI bacteria from healthy donors.


Autistic persons typically have not only behavioral issues but also gastrointestinal issues.  The Arizona group conducted longitudinal studies of 18 subjects who had undergone an intense regimen of gut bacteria transfer, known as microbiota transfer therapy or MTT, two years previously.


The results show that the MTT therapy course was associated with a continuing improvement in both psychological and gastrointestinal symptoms.  The 2 year post-therapy assessment showed a 47% reduction of autistic symptoms and a 58% reduction of gastrointestinal symptoms.  The data revealed a correlation between improvement in both spheres for any given patient.


These results are indeed exciting, and more studies are underway to define the best sources for the transferable bacteria.  Once a supply of such bacteria are available, this promising technique will surely spread.


Dae-Wook Kang, James B. Adams, Devon M. Coleman, Elena L. Pollard, Juan Maldonado, Sharon McDonough-Means, J. Gregory Caporaso, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown. Long-term benefit of Microbiota Transfer Therapy on autism symptoms and gut microbiota. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-42183-0


#autism #MTT #microbiome #fecaltransplant

autism, MTT, microbiome, fecaltransplant, 



Five Minute Exercise Works Wonders

Here’s a quickie exercise routine that can lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart attack, boost your fitness, and sharpen your brainpower.  The best part is that there is no weight lifting, jogging, or sweating involved.


Integrative physiologists at the University of Colorado reported to the recent Experimental Biology scientific meeting that exercising your muscles of breathing just 5 minutes a day with an inhalation device that can vary the resistance you breathe against has all of these beneficial effects.


Inhalation exercise devices are available on Amazon for $30 to $50.  You may want to try using this so-called Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) using your blood pressure and level of fitness for aerobic exercise as outcome measures to see how it is working for you.


Buffing up your respiratory muscles is a wonderful idea, but it is no substitute for consistent, aerobic exercise.  I highly recommend stationary recumbent cycling as a form of aerobic exercise that is oh so easy on your joints and back.


University of Colorado at Boulder. "Novel 5-minute workout improves blood pressure, may boost brain function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2019.


#Inspiratorymuscletraining #IMST #aerobics #respiratorymuscles

Inspiratorymuscletraining, IMST, aerobics, respiratorymuscles



Glimpses Of Coffee Mimic Caffeine Effect

Tired of shelling out 3 bucks for that Starbucks Latte.  You might just derive some of the same emotional and psychological effect by looking at a picture of it.


Management researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman Management School studied responses to seeing even glimpses of coffee-related images.  Called priming, such images caused the subjects to think more precisely and to sense a shorter than actual time scale loosely mimicking the effects of caffeine.


The effect was definitely stronger in Westerners for whom coffee has a strong tradition than it was for those accustomed to Eastern culture and drinking tea.  


This priming effect apparently also works for fast food logos.  Seeing them prevented viewers from relaxing and enjoying a pleasurable experience.


Eugene Y. Chan, Sam J. Maglio. Coffee cues elevate arousal and reduce level of construal. Consciousness and Cognition, 2019; 70: 57 DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2019.02.007


#Coffee #caffeine #priming #arousal

Coffee, caffeine, priming, arousal



Fruits and Vegetables Keep Your Vision Clear

Eating foods high in antioxidants will lower your risk of developing age-related cataracts.  This is the conclusion of a meta-analysis from Australia and China recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


The investigators reviewed 20 studies from as many world nations.  Their data indicates that eating citrus fruits, carrots, tomatoes, and dark green vegetables suppresses the development of cataracts.


The only definitive treatment for cataracts is extraction and lens replacement, and these operations, where they are available, have racked up a $5.7 billion price tag.  For those without access to the surgery, cataracts cause 35% of all blindness around the world.


Prevention is far better than treatment, and now you know exactly what to do.


 Hong Jiang, Yue Yin, Chang-Rui Wu, Yan Liu, Fang Guo, Ming Li, Le Ma. Dietary vitamin and carotenoid intake and risk of age-related cataract. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2019; 109 (1): 43 DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy270


#Cataracts #fruits #vegetables

Cataracts, fruits, vegetables



MEDICAL MAILBAG: Farxiga For Weight Loss?


A viewer on YouTube asks the following question:

I am not type two diabetic but my doctor has given me farxiga for weight loss cause I am 225 lbs and 5' 2 with a bmi of 39.9. Would you consider this drug safe for just weight loss?


I responded to her with the following:

Farxiga is not FDA-approved for any use in non-diabetics.  There are no published experimental studies on its use for weight loss in non-diabetics.  


The only available data on Farxiga and weight loss was in diabetics.  This drug and its sister medication Invokana, both sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors, cause blood sugar to spill out through the kidneys and trigger weight loss.


A study reported in 2014 showed that, when Farxiga 10 mg was taken daily for 6 months, there was an average weight loss of only 1 kg or 2.2 pounds over that entire 6 months.  Not impressive!  A more recent study combined the Farxiga with insulin but in type 1 diabetics and clocked only a 3.8% weight drop.


Weigh that meager weight loss against some of Farxiiga’s side effects.  It’s blood glucose lowering can trigger ketoacidosis, the toxic breakdown of body fat stores that can be deadly.  Drug use has also been associated with kidney failure.  Also consider that Farxiga drug can trigger urinary tract infections and genital fungal infections.


The bottom line: the drug is no way to effectively lose weight and it has some fierce downside risks.  As always, the best formula for lasting weight loss is eating healthy foods in moderate amounts and exercising regularly.


If you have a health question, you can direct it to me as a comment on YouTube, a Tweet to me, or as an email to


That’s health news you should use.  Thanks for listening and special thanks to my followers on social media.  My next regular reports with go up on May 17th after a Spring hiatus. Until then, I’m Dr. Howard Smith reminding you to keep a smile on your face, your brain active, and your body in motion....these are the best medicines!

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