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NOTES: HealthNews RoundUp-2nd Week of February, 2019



I’m Dr. Howard Smith, PENTA Medical Network,  reporting from NYC with the Health News Roundup for the SECOND week of FEBRUARY, 2019.  This is Health News You Should Use, the latest medical discoveries that you can use in a practical way to keep yourself and your family healthy.   Besides that, I’ll also present some Health Crap You Should Scrap: some non-prescription meds that you should avoid.  There is no solid evidence that they work, and they can be harmful.


Here are the headlines:

Ovarian Cysts Need Not Be Removed

Fruits and Veggies Buff Your Mind As Well As Your Muscles

HEALTH CRAP: Pain Creams Are a Waste of Money

Your Golf Swing May Kill Your Back

E-Cigarette Flavorings Are Toxic

Teen Boozing Can Drive Brain Damage

Third-Hand Smoke Chemicals Stick To Your Kids

Desserts Can Help You Eat Healthy

Smaller Take Out Boxes Will Right-Size Fast Food Meals

HEALTH CRAP: L-Norvaline May Be Bodybuilders’ Enemy

Tonsils and Adenoids Don’t Shrink With Age

Don’t Clamp That Umbilical Cord Right Away

Exercise Trains Your Fat To Be Healthy

TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS: Our Earth Is Becoming Greener


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



Here is the news:

Ovarian Cyst Surgery Not Always The Best Option


No one likes the prospect of surgery.  If you’ve been diagnosed with an ovarian cyst and your doctors have recommended removal, a new study suggests that an operation may not be necessary for every cyst.


Ovarian cysts are little balloon-like bumps that arise on the surface of the ovaries.  They are discovered with ultrasound scans when abdominal pain or bloating occurs.  The ultrasounds can determine if the cysts appear harmless or likely cancerous.


Many doctors recommend that any ovarian cyst be removed due to a risk of cancer developing or the cyst causing an ovary to twist.  A new multi-national study just published in The Lancet Oncology instead recommends watchful waiting and regular ultrasound imaging for those cysts that do appear benign.


Their study of almost 2,000 women with cysts suggests that surgery for every cyst may have more risks than benefits.  Twenty percent of ovarian cysts disappear on their own and cancer or ovarian twisting only occurred in less than one-half of one percent of women. On the other hand, the risk of complications from surgical removal ranged from between 3 to 15%.


Ovarian cysts may be followed without surgery, but you must commit to careful followup with regular ultrasound or scan imaging.  Should there be any question of a suspicious lesion, immediate surgery is then a must.


Ovarian cyst, ultrasound, ovarian torsion, health news, health tip

#Ovariancyst #ultrasound #ovariantorsion #healthnews #healthtip


Imperial College London. "Ovarian cysts should be 'watched' rather than removed, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2019. <>.




Fruits and Veggies Buff Your Mind As Well As Your Muscles


I’ve presented many studies proving that fruits and vegetables in your diet will keep you strong, fit, and physically healthy.  Now, new data from Great Britain’s University of Leeds shows that these key dietary components also boost your mental capacities.


The researchers studied some 40,000 persons and report that those consuming more fruits and vegetables report better mental health and higher life satisfaction than matched controls.  They also lament that the majority of UK citizens still fail to eat at least 5 portions of fruits and veggies a day. 


I’d hasten to say that most Americans don’t hit that target either.  If you do want to feel wonderful in mind as well as in body, fill your meals with fruit and vegetables.


mind, body, fruits, vegetables, good feelings, health news, health tips

#mind #body #fruits #vegetables #goodfeelings #healthnews #healthtips



Neel Ocean, Peter Howley, Jonathan Ensor. Lettuce be happy: A longitudinal UK study on the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and well-being. Social Science & Medicine, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.12.017



HealthCrap: Pain Creams Are a Waste of Money


Those compounded creams and gels you buy to rub on your aching muscles and joints may be worthless to you for relieving pain.  They are worth gold to the hucksters who manufacture and market them to the tune of at least 6 million dollars a day.


Pain specialists at Johns Hopkins and the Walter Reed Hospital studied nearly 400 subjects with 3 types of pain: 1. neurogenic pain such as that due to diabetes or shingles; 2. nociceptive pain due to tissue injuries or burns, or 3. mixed pain.  Half the patients in each pain category received a topical product with active ingredients tailored to the type of pain under treatment including anesthetics, NSAID analgesics, sedatives, antidepressants, anti-seizure meds, and muscle relaxers.  The others were given a mediction-free placebo.  Neither the scientists nor the subjects knew which agent they were rubbing in.


Each subject dutifully rubbed on the products 3 times a day for 6 months.  When the code was broken, the expensive topical pain creams produced no significant relief for any type of pain in any location on the body when compared with the inactive cream.


The bottom line: save your money!  Now I’m not saying that the placebo effect isn’t powerful.  I am saying that, if rubbing on a cream or gel makes you feel better, go for a cheaper one and one that don;t contain medicinal incredients like lidocaine that can induce skin allergy.


pain creams, pain gels, anesthetics, analgesics, NSAID, anti-seizure drugs, health news, health tips

#paincreams #paingels #anesthetics #analgesics #NSAID #antiseizure drugs #healthnews #healthtips


Robert E. Brutcher, Connie Kurihara, Mark C. Bicket, Parvaneh Moussavian-Yousefi, David E. Reece, Lisa M. Solomon, Scott R. Griffith, David E. Jamison, Steven P. Cohen. Compounded Topical Pain Creams to Treat Localized Chronic Pain. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2019; DOI: 10.7326/M18-2736




Golf May Kill Your Back


First we had tennis elbow, more recently football CTE dementia, and now we have golfer’s wrenched back.  The latest study in the Joural of Neurosurgery:Spine sounds an alarm for golfers to ease up on their swings a bit.


Over the past 40 years, competitive pressure has driven the golf swing to become more and more powerful.  Golfers now seek strength training to turbocharge their swings, but they should also be seeking defensive coaching to prevent their swings from crippling them.


During a powerful downswing, dangerous compressive forces target the spinal discs and verterbal joints.  Since a golfer swings those clubs more than 300 times during an average round, repeated micro trauma to spine structures leads to repetitive traumatic discopathy or RTD, likely the injury suffered by Tiger Woods.


If you golf, do seek a professional analysis of your swing.  With proper training, you can play low handicap golf without breaking your back by developing RTD.


golf, discopathy, spinal disc, ruptured disc, twist injury, health news, health tips

#golf #discopathy #spinal disc #ruptured disc #twist injury #health news #health tips


Walker CT, Uribe JS, Porter RW. Golf: a contact sport. Repetitive traumatic discopathy may be the driver of early lumbar degeneration in modern-era golfers. J Neurosurg Spine, 2019




E-Cigarette Flavoring Toxic

Electronic cigarette use is on the upswing, and their makers trumpet the latest studies showing that e-cigs help current tobacco smokers kick the habit.  In actuality, as older smokers quit more teens use e-cigs and move on to the nasty and dangerous habit that is tobacco cigarette smoking.


Besides the addicting nicotine, the e-cigs vaporize and spew a raft of of chemicals into the lungs including heavy metals, propylene glycol or anti-freeze, and formaldehyde.  The latest study from Harvard’s School of Public Health focuses on the toxicity of the chemicals used for flavoring the vapors.


Those ingredients are diacetyl and pentandione, and they create a buttery aroma.  You’ve definitely smelled it at the movie theater, and repeatedly inhaling the vapor leads to chronic irreversible lung damage and a disease appropriately named “popcorn lung.”


The Harvard team conclusively showed that these flavoring chemicals interfere with the genes that control development of normally functioning human ciliated respiratory lining cells growing in tissue culture.  This confirms findings in previous animal experiments where exposure to vaporized flavoring chemicals produced significant airway lining cell injuries.


Vaping, like tobacco smoking, is hazardous to your health.  E-cigarettes should not be marketed to children and they should be avoided by people of any age.


e-cigarette, vaping, flavored vapors, popcorn lung, diacetyl pentadione, ciliated linings, health news

#e-cigarette #vaping #flavoredvapors #popcornlung #diacetyl #pentadione #ciliatedlinings #healthnews


Hae-Ryung Park, Michael O’Sullivan, Jose Vallarino, etal.  Transcriptomic response of primary human airway epithelial cells to flavoring chemicals in electronic cigarettes.  Scientific Reports.  Volume 9, Article number: 1400 (2019) 



Teen Boozing Drives Brain Damage As Well As Liver Failure


Alcohol abuse is rampant in teens and young adults, and hospitals are reporting an epidemic of premature chronic liver disease and failure in millenials.  A new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics now shows that binge drinking prevents development of normal connections in the developing brain’s amygdala.  That’s the region of the brain responsible for emotion, fever, and anxiety.


The Chicago research group studied the brains of drinkers who began binge drinking before they reached 21 years.  They compared them to drinkers who started after 21 and to non-drinkers.  All subjects died in their mid to late fifties.  


The early onset drinkers had a 30 to 40% deficit of the molecule BDNF in their amygdalas, and without this chemical normal brain connections fail to form leading to increased anxiety and then  likely to more drinking through life.


With each new study, we learn how important health behaviors during our childhood, teen, and young adult years are for the function of our bodies and minds throughout the remainder of our lives.  Like any successful journey, preparation, forethought, and discipline help to guarantee a smooth voyage.


alcohol, teen drinking, binge drinking, brain, amygdala, health news.

#alcohol #teendrinking #bingedrinking #brain #amygdala, healthnews.


John Peyton Bohnsack, Tara Teppen, Evan J. Kyzar, Svetlana Dzitoyeva, Subhash C. Pandey. The lncRNA BDNF-AS is an epigenetic regulator in the human amygdala in early onset alcohol use disorders. Translational Psychiatry, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41398-019-0367-z




Toxic Third-Hand Smoke Coats Your Kids


We know all about the dangers of second-hand smoke, those clouds of toxic fumes emanating from cigarettes, cigars, and pipe bowls.  Now a study from the University of Cincinatti and the Cincinatti Children’s Hospital hone in on the vapors that waft up from those yellow stains on walls, ceilings, carpets, upholstery and, yes, the fingers of smokers themselves.  We call these third hand smoke.


The investigators measured the levels of nicotine on the hands of children exposed to these 3rd hand sources but not to parental smoking directly, and these children had the same levels of nicotine as an indirect measure of all toxic chemicals as those kids directly exposed to cigarette smoke.


Also know that these poisonous chemicals accumulate.  The children under 2 years had average hand nicotine levels of 69 ng, and that figure shot up 2.5 times by age 4 years.  The nicotine levels detected were a function of the number of cigarettes smoked by their parents and caregivers.  Even more disturbing was the finding that those with higher nicotine levels suffered from more respiratory symptoms including cough and wheezing.


Don’t smoke in your home even if your children aren’t present.  Better yet, kick the habit entirely if you love your kids.  If you have been smoking indoors, give your walls and furnishings a thorough cleaning in an honest attempt to exorcise cigarette nicotine and tars..


third hand smoke, second hand smoke, nicotine, tarm cigarette stain, health news

#thirdhandsmoke #secondhandsmoke #nicotine #tar #cigarettestain #health news


E Melinda Mahabee-Gittens, Ashley L Merianos, Eunha Hoh, Penelope JE Quintana, Georg E Matt. Nicotine on Children’s Hands: Limited Protection of Smoking Bans and Initial Clinical Findings. Tobacco Use Insights, 2019; 12: 1179173X1882349 DOI: 10.1177/1179173X18823493




Desserts Can Actually Help You Eat Healthy


Eying that 10 layer chocolate cake or mile high apple pie before you select your main and side dishes will help you make a  more nutritious choice.  So says a study from the University of Arizona’s marketing department just published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology:Applied.


Dining subjects  were presented with either a luscious lemon cheesecake or fresh fruit as a dessert choice at the beginning or at the end of a cafeteria line.  For the meal, they could chose healthy by selecting grilled chicken fajitas with a side salad or unhealthy by picking fried fish and chips.


When the diners put the cheesecake versus the fresh fruit dessert on their trays before selecting the remainder of their meal, they were twice as likely to pick the healthy entree and actually consumed 30% fewer calories.  There were similar findings in a test of online ordering for home delivery.


The researchers also observed that diners with alot on their minds by being challenged with a memory test, a so-called “cognitive load,” made poorer food choices.  They selected the high cal, high fat foods as well as the mega cal cake.


The next time you eat out or order in, check out that tantalizing dessert display before you order.  To relax yourself and clear your mind, have that small glass of wine.


dessert, cake, fruit, healthy eating, health news

#dessert #cake #fruit #healthyeating #healthnews


David Flores, Martin Reimann, Raquel Castaño, Alberto Lopez. If I indulge first, I will eat less overall: The unexpected interaction effect of indulgence and presentation order on consumption.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/xap0000210



Smaller Take Out Boxes Can Right-Size Fast Food Meal


Take out meals, just like sit-down restaurant offerings, are way too large with way too many calories.  A British fish n’ chip wholesale supplier cooperated with academic nutritionists at Newcastle University to design what they call the Lite-BITE® box carry out box as part of a UK national campaign to fight obesity.


The usual fish and chip take out meal clocks in at over 1600 calories which is almost an entire day’s caloric tally.  The Lite-BITE® box holds 5 ounces of fish and 5 ounces of chips for a more moderate 650 calories.


Fried fish and fried potatoes are hardly healthy choices, but at least the smaller take-out box keeps the calorie count down.   If a you as a  diner need a more filling meal, a side salad should complete your order.


Right-sizing portion size is a powerful tool in maintaining a healthy weight.  Smaller takeout boxes also makes the food portion appear less puny.  Remember back in the days when airlines actually served us food, they employed the same optical illusion by serving scraps of food on tiny plates and giving us tiny utensils.


fish, chips, takeout, obesity, dieting, health news

#fish #chips #takeout #obesity #dieting #healthnews


Louis Goffe, Frances Hillier-Brown, Natalie Hildred, etal. Feasibility of working with a wholesale supplier to co-design and test acceptability of an intervention to promote smaller portions: an uncontrolled before-and-after study in British Fish & Chip shops. BMJ Open, 2019; 9 (2): bmjopen-2018-023441 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023441



L-Norvaline May Be A Bodybuilders’ Enemy


L-norvaline is a common amino acid component of popular body building supplements, but an Australian study just published by the journal Toxicology In Vitro shows that this compound can actually damage and kill human brain cells.


L-norvaline is touted as “one of the leading methods to safely and naturally boost nitric oxide levels to new heights.”  High nitric oxide levels are said to accelerate blood flow, oxygen delivery, and muscle action.  It is the chief ingredient in popular body-building supplements including Myonox, Charge, Pump Extrem, and Preseries Bulk.


The tissue culture studies show that l-norvaline initially permits brain cells to produce more energy, but, with continued exposure to this amino acid, the cell machinery employed to produce this energy is damaged.  This is the cellular equivalent to revving your car engine too high for a prolonged period of time.


L-norvaline is a so-called non-protein amino acid because it is normally not used to make human proteins.  There’s a reason for that.  In nature, some non-protein amino acids are used by plants to kill other plants and eliminate competition for soil nutrients.  L-norvaline itself is known to be toxic to bacteria and to some plants.


Food supplements are unregulated, and many of them have not undergone rigorous safety testing.  If you want to build up your body, it is always safest to consume protein sources such as fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables that have been time-tested safe and nutritous.  Metabolic shortcuts are usually re recipes for disaster.


body-building, norvaline, muscle building, nitric oxide, health news

#body-building #norvaline #musclebuilding #nitricoxide #healthnews


Kate Samardzic, Kenneth J. Rodgers. Cytotoxicity and mitochondrial dysfunction caused by the dietary supplement l-norvaline. Toxicology in Vitro, 2019; 56: 163 DOI: 10.1016/j.tiv.2019.01.020



Tonsils and Adenoids Don’t Shrink With Age


Conventional medical wisdom states that a child’s tonsils and adenoids begin to shrink in size between the ages of 12 and 20 years.  Since these tissues, when enlarged, affect a child’s breathing, sleep, and dental alignment, the expectation that their size will diminish is key for planning medical and orthodontia therapy.


A new study from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University now shows that tonsils and adenoids do not shrink over the teen years.  A careful longitudinal study of 90 adolescents using sequential cephalometric imaging at ages 8, 10, 13, 16, and 19 years of age reveals that growth of the throat cavity itself does occur giving more space to the same-sized tonsils and adenoids. 


Since the extra throat space that develops may not relieve the breathing or dental problems, this new data suggests that clinicians treating young children with obstructive tonsils and adenoids should be more proactive and consider removing these tissues at an earlier age.  


Younger children have fewer surgical complications from a T&A.   They will also benefit from the additional years of snore-free and apnea-free breathing, sounder sleep, and an opportunity for their teeth to adopt a healthier configuration obviating expensive orthodontia.


tonsils, adenoids, OSA, orthodontia, sleep apnea, tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, health news

#tonsils #adenoids #OSA #orthodontia #sleepapnea #tonsillectomy #adenoidectomy #healthnews


Takayoshi Ishida, Asuka Manabe, Shin-Sheng Yang, Hyung Sik Yoon, Eiichiro Kanda, Takashi Ono. Patterns of adenoid and tonsil growth in Japanese children and adolescents: A longitudinal study. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-35272-z



Don’t Clamp That Umbilical Cord Right Away


Over the past 4 years, delayed clamping and division of the umbilical cord of preterm babies has become an internationally-accepted guideline.  The delay permits a needed autotransfusion of the baby’s own iron-rich blood from the placenta preventing neonatal anemia and facilitating better myelin production and neurologic development.


Now, neonatologists at the University of Rhode Island, one of the groups that championed clamping delay for premies, have published a study in the Journal of Pediatrics that demonstrates advantages of delayed cord clamping for term babies as well.  Their data on 65 term babies followed subsequently for 7 years demonstrates that waiting 5 minutes before clamping the cord while the baby enjoys an initial skin-to-skin encounter with mommy has tremendous value.


They found that delayed clamping leads to a 30% increase in total blood volume and a 50% increase in iron rich red cell volume.  Those infants had a higher iron storage levels at 4 months which was in turn associated with a significant increase in brain myelin volumes as shown on MRI imaging.   Previous studies on premies with delayed clamping revealed improved fine motor and social skills at 4 years of age.


The Rhode Island investigators hope that the new data will encourage more obstetricians and pediatricians to adopt a delayed cord clamping routine for not only premies but now for all newborns.


umbilical cord, cord clamping, myelin, ferritin, iron, red blood cell mass, autotransfusion, health news

#umbilical cord #cordclamping #myelin #ferritin #iron #redbloodcell mass #autotransfusion #healthnews


Judith S. Mercer, Debra A. Erickson-Owens, Sean C.L. Deoni, Douglas C. Dean, Jennifer Collins, Ashley B. Parker, Meijia Wang, Sarah Joelson, Emily N. Mercer, James F. Padbury. Effects of Delayed Cord Clamping on 4-Month Ferritin Levels, Brain Myelin Content, and Neurodevelopment: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2018; 203: 266 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.06.006



Exercise Trains Your Fat To Behave


Exercise not only strengthens your heart, tones your muscles, and drives more blood flow to your brain, it also trains your fat cells to release healthy proteins into your blood that help keep your body humming.  New research from Harvard’s Joslin Diabetes Center just published in Nature Metabolism demonstrate that exercise-primed fat releases a healthy so-called adipokine that improves glucose metabolism.


This magic protein, Transforming Growth Factor Beta 2 or TGFbeta2, appears in both humans and mice as the result of exercise.  It controls blood sugar levels and neutralizes the effect of a high fat diet which in mice and in many humans induces diabetes.


Your muscles do play a role in the process too.  The lactic acid they produce as you exercise appears to be the trigger that leads to TGFbeta2 release from fat.  The investigators speculate that, someday, this key protein messenger released by fat may become a practical treatment for diabetes.


fat, adipose tissue, obesity, diabetes, TGFbeta2, transforming growth factor, health news 

#fat #adiposetissue #obesity #diabetes #TGFbeta2 #transforminggrowthfactor #healthnews


Takahashi et al. TGF-B2 is an Exercise-Induced Adipokine that Regulates Glucose and Fatty Acid Metabolism. Nature Metabolism, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s42255-018-0030-7






Here’s some good climate news for a change.  It comes from my the


NASA satellite pictures prove that our home planet is significantly greener than it was 20 years ago.  For this we can thank two countries with the largest populations, India and China.


The greening didn’t happen by accident either.  It occurred as the result of aggressive tree planting programs in both countries.


The extra greenspace, more than 2 million square miles of it, is equivalent to the area covered by the Amazon rainforests.  This represents a net increase of 5% for the entire Earth over the past 2 decades.


Additional good news: by employing efficient farming strategies, food production in China and India has increased by 35-40% since 2000.  These countries, recognizing their own growing populations, have been able to successfully address their impeding food supply shortage head on.


This success shows that human ingenuity can tackle huge problems and come out on top.  It provides much needed reassurance that if we work together we will reverse our climate change downward spiral.

That’s health news you should use.  Thanks for listening.  Until we next speak, I’m Dr. Howard Smith, PENTA Medical Network, 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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