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OnCall Show Notes: HealthNews RoundUp-2nd Week of January, 2019



I’m Dr. Howard Smith, PENTA Medical Network,  reporting from NYC with the Health News Roundup for the second week of January, 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.  


Here are the headlines:

Vitamin C prevents Metabolic Syndrome










TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS: a brave child partners with the media to save a life.


If you want to dig in deeper, you’ll find all the references for the stories and a copy of show notes on my website at



First up:

Vitamin C Helps Metabolic Syndrome Patients

Metabolic syndrome is a nasty group of problems that might kill you but certainly will make your life miserable.  If you have any 3 of these 5 issues, namely central obesity or a body like a pear, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high blood triglycerides, or low high density lipoproteins, then you’ve got metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome is accompanied by excess body oxidation and it puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and mental dullness deteriorating into dementia.


Researchers at Oregon State University now show that the type of overeating and fat consumption that triggers metabolic syndrome also causes a body depletion of Vitamin C since less is absorbed.  This critical anti-oxidant works in tandem with another anti-oxidant, Vitamin E, to put a lid on tissue inflammation.  If your Vitamin C levels are low, your Vitamin E stores then begin to drain as your body makes hopeless efforts to prevent oxidative inflammation.  At this point, the sickening consequences of metabolic syndrome begin to appear.


The good news?  You can prevent all this by eating plenty of  vitamin-rich fresh fruits and vegetables that prevent obesity, blood sugar chaos, and lipid problems.  The triad that will prevent metabolic syndrome is ONE - dietary moderation except for fruits and vegetables, TWO - exercise, and THREE - stress elimination. 


If you think that you may have metabolic syndrome, have your doctors check on your levels of Vitamins C and E.  If you are depleted, remember that Vitamin C abounds in citrus fruits and know that Vitamin E is found in almonds and wheat germ.  Nutritional guidelines suggest at least 90 milligrams (mg.) of Vitamin C and 15 milligrams of Vitamin E each day.  Just be aware that vitamin supplements are never a substitute for a balanced diet so eat real food rather than wolfing down pills.


metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, dementia, health news, radio news

#metabolicsyndrome #diabetes #hypertension #heartattack #stroke #dementia #healthnews #radionews



Maret G. Traber, Garry R. Buettner, Richard S. Bruno. The Relationship Between Vitamin C Status, the GUT-Liver Axis, and Metabolic Syndrome. Redox Biology, 2018; 101091 DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2018.101091




Ever hear of prescription digital medicine?  Who ever heard of doctors and other therapists prescribing the playing of therapeutic video games? Well that is now a reality for children with autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and it may soon be used for other patients as well.


Pediatricians at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research collaborated with the prescription digital medicine company Akili Interactive to study the effectiveness of  the company’s AKL-T02 instrument via an action video game experience designed to improve the childrens’ attention, task completion, and memory.


The so-called Project: EVO studied a group of 19 children age 9-13 years diagnosed with both autism and attention deficit and exposed them to both the digital medicine and control therapy.  This group was selected since children with both autism and ADHD tend to respond poorly to conventional drug therapy used for ADHD alone.


Not suprisingly, the kids embraced the video game experience completing more than 95% of the treatment sessions.  This preliminary study revealed that the treated children with both autism and ADHD will focus on the high tech therapy and it improved their attention and focus while reducing their distractibility. 


Larger studies will follow, but Akili Interactive is already developing other prescriptive digital medicines, ATL-T03 and ATL-T04 for adult patients with depression to improve their memory, attention, executive function, and emotional processing.  Why are the products “by prescription?”  I’d guess: in order to qualify for health insurance coverage!


autism, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, attention deficit, digital medicine

autism #autismspectrumdisorder #ADHD #attentiondeficit #digitalmedicine



Benjamin E. Yerys, Jennifer R. Bertollo, Lauren Kenworthy, Geraldine Dawson, Elysa J. Marco, Robert T. Schultz, Linmarie Sikich. Brief Report: Pilot Study of a Novel Interactive Digital Treatment to Improve Cognitive Control in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Co-occurring ADHD Symptoms. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-018-3856-7




Women’s who suffer from chronic peri- and post-menopausal hot flashes and night sweats, so called vasomotor symptoms or VMS, lasting close to 10 years or longer have a 13% higher risk of developing breast cancer.  This the conclusion of a Women’s Health Initiative analysis of more than 25,000 women 50 years of age and older who never had any menopausal hormone therapy and who were followed for a median of 18 years.


The good news is that, despite the higher incidence of breast cancer, those with persisting VMS did not have a less favorable outcome when treated for their cancers.  They were just as likely to become breast cancer survivors as women free of enduring hot flashes and night sweats.


If you or yours are suffering from these persisting menopausal VMS symptoms, increase your surveillence for breast cancer.  Don’t miss an opportunity for breast self-examination and be certain to follow a consistent mammography schedule.


hot flashes, night sweats, menopause, vms, vasomotor symptoms, breast cancer

hotflashes #nightsweats #menopause #vms #vasomotorsymptoms #breastcancer


Rowan T. Chlebowski, Joanne E. Mortimer, Carolyn J. Crandall, Kathy Pan, JoAnn E. Manson, Rebecca Nelson, Karen C. Johnson, Mara Z. Vitolin, Dorothy Lane, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Karen Kwan, Marcia L. Stefanick. Persistent vasomotor symptoms and breast cancer in the Womenʼs Health Initiative. Menopause, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001283





Celiac disease may be initiated by an agent used to improve food texture and to literally glue together meat fragments into a more substantial, steak-like product.  The agent is microbial transglutaminase, and a review of data about the causation of celiac diease just published in Frontiers in Pediatrics suggests that the increasing amounts of this substance that are finding their way into our food supply may be at fault.


Over 3 million American have celiac disease.  It is an inherited autoimmune disorder, and you are 6 times more likely to have it if a close member member is affected.    It is characterized by an attack of a person’s own immune system on their gut lining, and it’s triggered by the presence of the gluten protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Other factors such as stress, infection, or antibiotic use seem to initiate or exacerbate the process.


Although our own systems make transglutaminase, they do so in very small quantities compared with what we can ingest in processed foods.  The extra transglutaminase appears to break down any available gluten into small protein fragments that often bind to the transglutaminase itself and then serve to ignite the auto-immmune attack on the intestinal linings.


The FDA has not yet ruled on the safety of transglutaminase as a food additive.  The smart money is on avoiding it if possible even if you don’t now have celiac disease.  


By federal law, packaging must indicate its presence. Transglutaminase is more likely to be in meat products labeled as “formed” such as “formed turkey thigh roast, “ and it is also found in many baked goods.  When dining out, you can ask the restaurant staff about its use in their cuisine.


Celiac disease, transglutaminase, food additives, health news, radio news

Celiacdisease #transglutaminase #foodadditives #healthnews #radio news



Matthias Torsten, Lerner Aaron. Microbial Transglutaminase Is Immunogenic and Potentially Pathogenic in Pediatric Celiac Disease. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 2018; 6 DOI: 10.3389/fped.2018.00389




Campaigns by Medicare to reduce patient readmissions to a hospital within a month following discharge, the so-called Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, is associated with more patient deaths from heart failure and pneumonia rather than improvement in care quality.  This is the conclusion of a study of some 8 million hospitalizations over a decade beginning in 2005 was completed and recently published by Harvard cardiologists at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Mass. General Hospital.


They compared post-hospital mortality statistics before and after announcement and implementation of new financial penalties for hospitals to discourage readmission within a month after discharge.  Their findings suggested that this penny pinching resulted in some 8,000 deaths from heart failure and some 12,000 deaths from pneumonia that could have possibly been avoided.


In addition, many sick persons who did return to the hospital were not formally readmitted as inpatients as their condition demanded, but they were instead brought back into the hospital on observation status.  This limbo status permits the hospital to treat them as inpatients but not categorize them as such for insurance purposes skirting the Medicare rules.  


Observation status is a terrible rip-off for patients, since your insurance classifies you as an outpatient, pays the hospital less, and holds you responsible for a greater percentage of the charges that can be considerable for what are essentially complicated and expensive inpatient services such as CT scans and MRIs.


Do not permit the hospital doctors and discharge planners to throw you or family members out prematurely.  If you do have to go back into the hospital, scream until you they admit you as an inpatient and not on observation status.  If you make enough noise, they will reluctantly do the right thing!


Hospital Readmissions Reduction, heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, premature discharge, observation status

HospitalReadmissionsReduction #heartattack #heartfailure #pneumonia #prematuredischarge #observationstatus



Wadhera RK, Joynt Maddox KE, Wasfy JH, Haneuse S, Shen C, Yeh RW. Association of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program With Mortality Among Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized for Heart Failure, Acute Myocardial Infarction, and Pneumonia. JAMA. 2018;320(24):2542–2552. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.19232






Obsessive, compulsive symptoms (OCS) in adolescents and young adults may be a sign of serious mental illness including major depression and suicidal intent.  A study at the University of Pennsylvania looked at 7,000 subjects 11 through 21 years of age and found that 20% of those with OCS had thoughts about harming themselves or others and pictured violent images.  Psychiatrists know that such children are likely to develop major mental disorders.


Teens who evidence repetitive and ritualistic behaviors including checking and rechecking things, cleaning over and over, and ordering and reordering items need to be carefully monitored for the development of mental illness.  If you see this in your teen, speak with their pediatricians about a referral to a child psychiatrist.


Obsessive compulsive syndrome, depression, suicide, repetitive behavior, cleaning, ordering, checking

Obsessivecompulsivesyndrome #depression #suicide #repetitivebehavior #cleaning #ordering #checking



Ran Barzilay, Ariana Patrick, Monica E. Calkins, Tyler M. Moore, Daniel H. Wolf, Tami D. Benton, James F. Leckman, Ruben C. Gur, Raquel E. Gur. Obsessive-Compulsive Symptomatology in Community Youth: Typical Development or a Red Flag for Psychopathology? Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2018.06.038





Repeated miscarriages, that is 3 pregnancy losses in a row each before 20 weeks of gestation, are usually thought to be due to maternal factors including uterine defects, infection, hormonal imbalances, and autoimmune disease.  A study from Imperial College, London, now suggests that flawed sperm may also play a key role in some miscarriages.


After analyzing the sperm of 50 men whose partners experienced recurrent miscarriages and compared them with sperm from 60 males whose partners had delivered successfully, the investigators found twice the incidence of DNA damage in the recurrent miscarriage group.  The damage may be done by an excess of reactive oxygen species that, in normal quantities, protect sperm from bacterial infection.


Isolated miscarriage occurs in about 15% of pregnancies, but recurrent miscarriage happens in only 1-2% of pregnancies.  If you are experiencing recurrent miscarriages, be certain that both you and your partner are studied.


Recurrent miscarriage, miscarriage, sperm, health news, women’s healthcare, radio news

Recurrentmiscarriage #miscarriage #sperm #healthnews #womenshealthcare #radionews



Channa N. Jayasena, Utsav K. Radia, Monica Figueiredo, Larissa Franklin Revill, Anastasia Dimakopoulou, Maria Osagie, Wayne Vessey, Lesley Regan, Rajendra Rai, Waljit S. Dhillo. Reduced Testicular Steroidogenesis and Increased Semen Oxidative Stress in Male Partners as Novel Markers of Recurrent Miscarriage. Clinical Chemistry, 2019; 65 (1): 161 DOI: 10.1373/clinchem.2018.289348





Unpredictable income can be deadly, and that reality is all too common in today’s so-called gig economy.  A collaborative study from the Universities of Miami, Minnesota, California at San Francisco, Northwestern, and Massachuetts of nearly 400 persons 23 to 35 years of age was launched in 1990, and the subjects were monitored for 25 years.


Those relatively young persons without steady jobs and ping pong incomes were twice as likely as consistently employed persons to develop cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke and were twice as likely to die.  This conclusion underscores just how stressful personal economic turmoil can be.


If you are subject to income fluctuations due to participation in the gig economy, take precautions to avoid tragedy.  Live a healthy lifestyle with sensible eating, abundant exercise, avoidance of smoking and excessive drinking, and stable relationships for stress reduction.  Be on the lookout for trouble by having regular check-ups and surveillance of your health.


Fluctuating income, heart attack, stroke, early death, gig economy, health news, radio news

Fluctuatingincome #heartattack #stroke #earlydeath #gigeconomy #health news #radionews


American Heart Association. "Fluctuating personal income may be associated with an increased heart disease risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2019. <>.





If you’re taking an antibiotic with “FLOXACIN” in its name, listen up.  The FDA wants you to know that the drug can weaken the walls of your aorta leading to deadly ruptures.


The fluoroquinolone antibiotics including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), ofloxacin (Floxin), and moxifloxacin (Avelox) and a few others have been around for more than 30 years, and they can be invaluable for treating some nasty bacteria that other drugs won’t touch.  Although used in Europe, their approval by the FDA for use in the USA was delayed for many years by concerns about their tendency to weakening connective tissues leading to tendon ruptures.  Now, after FDA approval, they are increasingly and unnecessarily being prescribed for less critical infections such as sinusitis that other antibiotics can effectively treat.


This year, the FDA issued significant warnings and labelling changes due to an accumulation of adverse event reports.  This past July, the FDA strengthened warnings that this class of drugs can cause serious mental disturbances including disorientation, agitation, memory impairment, nervousness as well as blood sugar disturbances including hypoglycemic coma.


Now, the FDA heralds a more serious warning: the “FLOXIN” antibiotics tendency to weaken connective tissue can lead to a sudden rupture of the aorta, the high-pressure “fire hose” leading from your heart and distributing arterial blood back to the heart itself, your brain, and to other vital organs.  If an aortic tear occurs, sudden death can follow.  If you’re luckier, an excruciating back pain may drive you to the hospital where a risky operation often requiring cardiac bypass may stabilize your situation.


Persons with high blood pressure, known vascular disease especially aortic aneurysms, advanced age, neurologic conditions, and diabetes should not take the “FLOXIN” antibiotics.  If you are taking one of them, immediately ask your doctor if another, safer drug may be substituted.


fluoroquinolones, floxin antibiotics, aorta, aortic aneurysm, aortic rupture, diabetes, hypertension, psychiatric disease, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, ofloxacin, moxifloxacin, health news, radio news

fluoroquinolones #floxinantibiotics #aorta #aorticaneurysm #aorticrupture #diabetes #hypertension #psychiatricdisease, ciprofloxacin #levofloxacin #ofloxacin #moxifloxacin #healthnews #radionews




If you’re a regular user of the pinks, blues, yellows, and greens, the non-sugar sweeteners, a study just published in the British Medical Journal now reveals that these products will not help you lose weight.  Scientists at Germany’s University of Freiberg conducted a Cochrane review of 56 individual studies and found no convincing statistical evidence that use of fake sugar leads to weight loss for either obese children or overweight adults.


They admit that many of the available studies were of relatively short durations and that longer, longitudinal studies would be helpful.  Meanwhile, they recommend moderating the use of artificially-sweetened drinks or switching from them to water or natural juices as the safety of continuously using fake sugar has not been confirmed.


nonsugar sweeteners, fake sugar, obesity, weight loss, saccharin, sweetnlow, aspartame, equal, sucralose, splensa, acesulfame, aceK, stevia, truvia, health news, radio news

nonsugarsweeteners #fakesugar #obesity #weightloss #saccharin, sweetnlow #aspartame #equal #sucralose #splensa #acesulfame #aceK #stevia #truvia #healthnews #radionews


Ingrid Toews, Szimonetta Lohner, Daniela Küllenberg de Gaudry, Harriet Sommer, Joerg J Meerpohl. Association between intake of non-sugar sweeteners and health outcomes: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised and non-randomised controlled trials and observational studies. BMJ, 2019; k4718 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.k4718





An 80 pound, 11 year old immigrant boy saved a 34 year old man twice his weight from drowning in a Minnesota apartment swimming pool when no other swimmers were around.  


Advaik Nandikotkur, an Indian boy only 3 years in this country, was at the pool with his parents, both non-swimmers, when another apartment resident began drowning.  His father was unable to reach the panicked man with a flotation device, but Advaik quickly plunged into the water and pulled the victim to safety.


His uncle, untrained in CPR, began working on the drowned man with maneuvers he had seen on   TV and in the movies.  The victim began to recover before the EMTs arrived and took him to the hospital.  Thanks to Advaik’s swift and selfless actions, he made a full recovery.  


The near-drowning victim later thanked Advaik for what the St Paul police lauded as heroic actions, but the shy boy underplayed his role.  We can also thank the accuracy of those TV and motion picture CPR rescues for “training” his uncle and contributing to the happy outcome.


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