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OnCall Show Notes:  

HealthNews RoundUp-3rd Week of January, 2019



I’m Dr. Howard Smith, PENTA Medical Network,  #reporting from NYC with the Health News Roundup for the third 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:

Hearing Loss Fuels Depression

10 Things To Know About Marijuana

Starve Your Appetite For Better Weight Loss

This Vitamin Can Kill You…Or Save You

Which Video Game Cancels Post-Traumatic Stress

Safest Medicine For Menopausal Hormone Replacement

Bad Eating Shrinks Your Brain

Monkey See Monkey Do When It Comes To Screen Time

Eating Good Carbs is Lifesaving

The Wrong Sleeping Pill Can Burn You

TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS: Teens return disabled Veteran’s Lost Wallet.


Entire Vidcast:


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



Let’s begin:

Hearing Loss Fuels Depression

To remain happy in the mainstream of life, check your hearing.  Researchers in Columbia’s ENT department studied over 5,000 New Yorkers with hearing tests but also screening for depression.  They found that even a mild hearing loss doubles your chances for depression. If you have a severe hearing loss, you are 4 times more likely to be depressed.


Almost everyone over 70 has at least a mild loss.  It is easily diagnosed and treated with amplification or surgery.  If you or someone you know is missing conversations and instructions, drag them to get a hearing test.  I say drag, because most of us resist the idea of a personal hearing loss as a sign of aging.


Here’s good news: you can test the benefit of amplification by using your smartphone with an earphone as an amplifier.  Also be aware that hearing aids will soon be available over-the-counter at reasonable prices.


hearing loss, depression, hearing aids, health news, health tips

#hearing loss #depression #hearingaids #healthnews #healthtips


Justin S. Golub, Katharine K. Brewster, Adam M. Brickman, Adam J. Ciarleglio, Ana H. Kim, José A. Luchsinger, Bret R. Rutherford. Association of Audiometric Age-Related Hearing Loss With Depressive Symptoms Among Hispanic Individuals. JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, 2018; DOI: 10.1001/jamaoto.2018.3270




10 Things To Know About Marijuana

Doctors who regularly prescribe marijuana have some practical advice for you, and I’ll pass it on.  The Annals of Internal Medicine solicited this information and here are the pearls:


  • not the first thing to try; 

  • if you try begin with low doses, avoid smoking it in favor of edibles and topicals;

  • begin with CBD (cannabidiol) rather than the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol); 

  • choose tested compounds; 

  • listen to your body.


  • still a controlled substance and not covered by insurance; 

  • not standardized; 

  • off-limits during pregnancy and lactation;

  • should be avoided by cardiac patients; 

  • should be removed from dangerous drug list.



marijuana, pain, opiods, CBD, THC, pregnancy, health news, health tips

#marijuana #pain #opiods #CBD #THC #pregnancy #healthnews #healthtips


How To Starve Your Appetite For Better Weight Loss

Fasting intermittently while on restricted intake was the most effective path to weight loss for the obese.  That’s the result of Australia’s Adelaide University’s study of 88 overweight or obese women on controlled diets over a 10 week period.  


The data showed that those who ate only 70% of their normal caloric requirement and fasted for 3 non-consecutive days a week lost more weight than those who either ate only the restricted-calorie diet or those who only fasted.


Dieting for weight reduction must be done carefully.  Fasting without proper supervision can be dangerous.


dieting, obesity, fasting, health news, health tips

#dieting #obesity #fasting #healthnews #healthtips


Amy T. Hutchison, Bo Liu, Rachel E. Wood, Andrew D. Vincent, Campbell H. Thompson, Nathan J. O’Callaghan, Gary A. Wittert, Leonie K. Heilbronn. Effects of Intermittent Versus Continuous Energy Intakes on Insulin Sensitivity and Metabolic Risk in Women with Overweight. Obesity, 2019; 27 (1): 50 DOI: 10.1002/oby.22345



This Vitamin Can Kill You…Or Save You

Everyone assumes that Vitamin supplements in reasonable quantities are safe and beneficial.  Investigators at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital now show that for Vitamin E and cancer that assumption is dead wrong.  The word dead is significant.


The enzyme that controls how the body uses Vitamin E comes in 3 genetic variants.  It turns out that women with the met-met variant who taking Vitamin E had a 14% lower cancer incidence while those with the val-val variant and taking the Vitamin E had a 15% higher incidence of cancer.


We’re only beginning to understand human genetics, and most of us do not know which specific gene variants we have.  Until we do, we should all be cautious about taking any supplements except to correct deficiencies.  The smart money remains on eating a balanced, healthy diet and avoiding supplements.


Vitamin E, women, cancer, health news, health tips

#Vitamin E #women #cancer #healthnews #healthtips


Hall, K et al. COMT modifies alpha-tocopherol effects in cancer prevention: gene-supplement interactions in two randomized clinical trials. JNCI, 2019 DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djy204



Which Video Game Cancels Post-Traumatic Stress

Terrifying flashbacks and horrifying visual memories are suffered by those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  German and Swedish researchers now publish data in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology that demonstrates suppression of these hallucinations by playing  Tetris.


Their studies showed that 75% of those who played Tetris while experiencing triggers that normally would provoke the flashbacks experienced a 64% reduction in those scary visions.  The investigators explain the effect by proposing that the flashbacks and Tetris compete for the same brain regions.  Apparently Tetris wins.


If you or yours have PTSD, playing Tetris may be a winning strategy whether or not the game is won.


PTSD, post-traumatic stress,Tetris, health news, health tips

#PTSD #posttraumaticstress #Tetris #healthnews #healthtips



Henrik Kessler, Emily A. Holmes, Simon E. Blackwell, Anna-Christine Schmidt, Johanna M. Schweer, Anna Bücker, Stephan Herpertz, Nikolai Axmacher, Aram Kehyayan. Reducing intrusive memories of trauma using a visuospatial interference intervention with inpatients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2018; 86 (12): 1076 DOI: 10.1037/ccp0000340



Safest Medicine For Menopausal Hormone Replacement

Women experiencing serious post-menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and flushing are frequently prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  One uncommon but life-threatening risk associated with this therapy is venous thromboembolism, the formation of blood clots in leg or other veins that can travel up into the heart and lungs or beyond.


British epidemiologists studied nearly 6000 women 40 to 79 years of age who had used HRT and compared them to over 21,000 who had not.  The only hormonal drugs not associated with any increased risk of thromboembolism were hormone patches, and with some patches the risk of clots was actually lower than for those women not using HRT.


Women at higher risk for vein clots including those who are older, overweight, immobile, or having a family history of clotting should consider patch rather than oral estrogen therapy.



Vinogradova Yana, Coupland Carol, Hippisley-Cox Julia. Use of hormone replacement therapy and risk of venous thromboembolism: nested case-control studies using the QResearch and CPRD databases BMJ 2019; 364 :k4810 doi:


hormone repolacement therapy, HRT, venous thromboembolism, VTE, estrogen patch, health news, health tips

#hormonereplacementtherapy #HRT #venousthromboembolism #VTE #estrogenpatch #healthnews


Bad Eating Shrinks Your Brain

Excess abdominal fat, particularly visceral fat around the bowels that creates a pear-shaped belly, can substantially raise your risk of heart disease even more than just being overweight or obese.  A new study published in the journal Neurology now associates pear-shaped bellies with smaller brains.  


The study reviewed over 9600 middle aged people and looked at the association between various weight parameters and brain volumes as determined by MRI imaging.  Those with the smallest volumes of brain gray matter, the so-called thinking tissue, were those overweight with pear-shaped bodies.  Overweight subjects without the expanded mid-sections had less reduction in gray matter compared with those of normal weight.  Reduced gray matter is associated with less cognitive ability and eventually dementia.


These results only show an association, and we don’t yet know if obesity and excess abdominal fat make your brains shrink or if those with small brains are unhealthy eaters.  Whichever the case, it’s smart to eat healthy and maintain normal weight.


Mark Hamer, G. David Batty. Association of body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio with brain structure. Neurology, Jan. 9, 2019; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000006879


overweight, obesity, abdominal fat, pearshaped body, brain atrophy, health news

#overweight #obesity #abdominalfat #pearshapedbody #brainatrophy #healthnews




Monkey See Monkey Do When It Comes To Screen Time

Restricting childrens’ sedentary screen time in favor of more physically active pursuits is the latest weapon in the war against childhood obesity.  New Canadian research just published in the journal BMC Obesity reminds us that parenting practices are key factors in their offsprings’ screen time.


Nearly 40 families with at least one child 18 monthS to 5 years of age were studied.  Parental device use and television viewing during meals as well as the offering of extra screen time as a reward resulted in excessive screen times for the children. 


Kids are sponges, and they quickly see if you follow your own advice.  Get your head out of your phone and offer a good example.  To reward healthy behavior, offer physical activities such as the playground, sports play with you, and healthy treats rather than always suggesting extra screen time and sugary treats.


screen time, parenting, exercise, obesity, health news

#screen time #parenting #exercise #obesity #healthnews


Lisa Tang, Gerarda Darlington, David W L Ma, Jess Haines. Mothers’ and fathers’ media parenting practices associated with young children’s screen-time: a cross-sectional study. BMC Obesity, 2018; 5 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s40608-018-0214-4




Eating Good Carbs is Lifesaving

Eating fiber-rich foods and whole grains rather than fast food carbs will prolong your healthy life.  A meta-analysis of 135 million person-years of data, completed in New Zealand, was just published in The Lancet.


The highest consumption of dietary fiber and whole grains led to a 15-30% reduction in deaths from all causes, in the incidence and deaths from heart disease, in the incidence and deaths from stroke, in the incidence of diabetes, and in the incidence of colon cancer.


Most of us eat half of the recommended daily fiber which is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.  Boost your fiber intake by eating: pears; strawberries; avocado; apples; raspberries; and bananas.  For whole grains, you should have at least 48 grams or 3 servings a day that include: oatmeal; popcorn; whole wheat bread, pasta, or crackers; brown rice; quinoa, and barley.


fiber, whole grains, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, colon cancer, health news

#fiber #whole grains #heart disease #diabetes #stroke #colon cancer #health news


Andrew Reynolds, Jim Mann, John Cummings, Nicola Winter, Evelyn Mete, Lisa Te Morenga.  Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.  The Lancet, Available online 10 January 2019




The Wrong Sleeping Pill Can Burn You

Half of the millions using the most common type of sleeping pills might never wake to escape a fire.  Taken to induce sleep and relaxation, the popular benzodiazepine medications or benzos for short include Restoril, Halcion, Ativan, Xanax, and Valium.  This class of drugs induces drowsiness but also suppresses emergency arousal.  Even newer drugs such as Ambien and Lunesta trigger sustained drowsiness and some disorientation.


A new class of medication called DORAs, dual orexin receptor antagonists, induce sleep but permit retention of sensory input including sound, vibration, smell, and lack of oxygen.  This makes for a safer sleeping pill.  After a threat has passed, the medication also re-induces sleep.


To date, only one DORA sleeping pill has won FDA approval.  Belsomra (suvorexant) may only be prescribed those 18 years or older, but its expensive and often not covered by insurance.  As other DORA drugs become available, competition will drive down price and increase availability.


insomnia, sleeping pill, benzo benzodiazepine, health news

#insomnia #sleeping pill #benzo benzodiazepine #health news


Shouhei Iwakawa, Yuichi Kanmura, Tomoyuki Kuwaki. Orexin Receptor Blockade-Induced Sleep Preserves the Ability to Wake in the Presence of Threat in Mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2019; 12 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00327




TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS:  Teens return disabled Veteran’s Lost Wallet.

Disabled veteran Marc Walsh was frantic and disheartened when he noticed that his wallet, filled with cash, credit cards, and difficult to replace identification cards, was not in his pocket.  Meanwhile, two teen sisters, walking along a snow-covered West Detroit street, saw the wallet and picked it up. 


Opening the wallet, Walsh’s military ID card immediately caught the girls’ attention.  They thought of their grandfather, himself a veteran, and they hoped that anyone finding his wallet would return it.


Return it they did to a nearby store that then notified Walsh.  Thrilled and grateful, he appealed to  Fox 2 in Detroit to help him find the girls.  They broadcast the story on the news and arranged for him to meet the Vincent sisters.  His faith in humanity restored, he met and hugged them generously giving them the money in the wallet as a reward.


That’s health news you should use.  Thanks for listening.  Until then, 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 therapies!

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