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OnCall Show Notes:  HealthNews RoundUp-5th Week of January, 2019



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

Aspirin Can Help Cure Cancer

Most Brainpower Develops During Childhood and Adolescence

Muscle Power Banked During Youth Supports Later Vigor

Weed is Fetal Poison

A Short Delay Bathing Newborns Enhances Breastfeeding

Low Dose Aspirin Prevents Preelampsia-Associated Stroke

A Simple Swallow Can Detect Esophageal Cancer

The Ketogenic Diet Is Safe

It’s Karma: School Bullies Sustain More Injury Than Victims

Girls In Pain Get Less Sympathy

Pop Music Lyrics Getting Darker and Angrier



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



First Up: 

Aspirin Can Help Cure Cancer


Aspirin has now been shown to significantly improve survival for at least one type of cancer in those patients whose tumors have a specific genetic variant.  That cancer is squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck with an altered PIK3CA gene.


A study just published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine followed 266 patients after surgical resection of their tumors and post-operative chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.  Those patients regularly taking aspirin or another NSAID for 6 months and also having an activated PIK3CA gene were 3 times more likely to survive 5 years.  Specifically, the average survival rate rose from a baseline of 25 percent to a gratifying 78 percent.  Those without the PIK3CA gene mutation enjoyed no survival benefit.


A larger, confirmatory study is now underway.  Meanwhile, know that the PIK3CA oncogene is present and mutated in about one-third of other cancers including colon, stomach, esophageal, pancreatic, liver, breast, cervical, endometrial, ovarian, brain, and skin but not melanoma.  We don’t yet know if aspirin added to conventional therapy will improve survival in any of these, but studies should be forthcoming.  One early study suggests that aspirin co-therapy dues not improve endometrial cancer treatment success.


If you have cancer, ask your oncologist about the mutations found in your tumor.  If yours has the PIK3CA mutation, then ask about aspirin therapy.  If you are having a a biopsy or surgery for any type of cancer, be certain that a genetic analysis is performed on the tumor tissue and and that it’s preserved for future genetic studies.  Treatment based on cancer genetics is increasingly more common.



Matthew L. Hedberg, Jennifer R. Grandis, etal. Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs predicts improved patient survival for PIK3CA-altered head and neck cancer. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2019; jem.20181936 DOI: 10.1084/jem.20181936


Samuels Y, Waldman T. Oncogenic mutations of PIK3CA in human cancers. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2010;347:21-41.


cancer, aspirin, ibuprofen, NSAIDS, health news, health tips

#cancer #aspirin #ibuprofen #NSAIDS #healthnews #healthtips



Most Brainpower Develops During Childhood and Adolescence


Most of our brain’s horsepower, so called general cognitive ability or GCA, develops early in life.  An international team led by those at UC-San Diego now report that 99% of our intellectual abilities measurable at age 62 have already developed by age 20.  


Said another way, the higher education, job challenges, and various intellectual pursuits that we pursue over more than 40 years since our teens only increases our raw thinking and problem-solving abilities by about 1%.  This conclusion is supported by brain imaging that links brain size in 60 year olds with GCA test scores at age 20.


So parents and kids alike should cram as much intellectual stimulation as possible into the childhood and teen years.  This early brain charging creates a vital trajectory into satisfying careers, rewarding relationships, and a gratifying, thoughtful life.


University of California - San Diego. "Youthful cognitive ability strongly predicts mental capacity later in life: Education, job complexity and intellectual activities play only minor roles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2019. <>.


#brainpower #highereducation #intellectualdevelopment #healthnews #healthtips

brainpower, higher education, intellectual development, health news health tips



Muscle Power Banked During Youth Supports Later Vigor


Muscular development during our younger years provides the building blocks for strength maintenance as we age.  This the conclusion of a literature review from UMass-Amherst.  


Biology professor Lawrence Schwartz reminds us that, during the first decades of our lives, our muscles not only grow in size but generate more and more cell nuclei, the local brains of our cells and tissues.  Muscles are syncytial tissues with many nuclei but fewer blended cell bodies.  


During our younger days, we trigger desireable muscle nuclear proliferation with exercise and training.  As we age, we may lose muscle bulk, muscle cell bodies, but we retain our muscle nuclei.  If we have enough of these so-called myonuclei banked, we can then maintain and redevelop muscle mass with exercise and conditioning thereby preventing elder weakening and frailty.


The bottom line: childhood, adolescent, and young adult physical activities are critical for “charging our muscle batteries” to insure a long and strong healthspan with full mobility.


Lawrence M. Schwartz. Skeletal Muscles Do Not Undergo Apoptosis During Either Atrophy or Programmed Cell Death-Revisiting the Myonuclear Domain Hypothesis. Frontiers in Physiology, 2019; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01887


muscle mass, myonuclei, frailty, health news, health tips

#musclemass #myonuclei #frailty #healthnews #healthtips



Weed is Fetal Poison


We doctors constantly repeat it and you constantly hear it: avoid all but healthy food during pregnancy.  Despite this mantra, nearly one-third of pregnant women believe that cannabis is safe for their developing babies.


The analysis by Canadian doctors of 6 US studies shows that, as years go by, more pregnant women are using marijuana.  Currently, at least 4% of women use the drug sometime during their pregnancy.  


Ironically, the rate of use is the highest at 7.4% during the critical first trimester when so many body systems are just beginning to blossom.  In one study, 35% of women were users when they discovered their pregnancy, and that only dropped down to 12% after the positive pregnancy test.  Half of those continuing to use did so almost daily.


The available research on cannabis shows that it is associated with low birth weight, stillbirths, and NICU admissions.  OB/GYN specialists and most doctors recommend against any cannibis use while trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding.


Hamideh Bayrampour, Mike Zahradnik, Sarka Lisonkova, Patti Janssen. Women's perspectives about cannabis use during pregnancy and the postpartum period: An integrative review. Preventive Medicine, 2019; 119: 17 DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.12.002


Marijuana, cannabis, pregnancy, low birth weight, NICU, health news, health tips

#Marijuana #cannabis #pregnancy #lowbirthweight #NICU #healthnews #healthtips



A Short Delay Bathing Newborns Enhances Breastfeeding


Don’t rush your newborn into the baby tub if you want immediate breastfeeding success.   A study from the Cleveland Clinic’s obstetric unit shows that delaying the traditional post-delivery dunk by 12 hours significantly increases a new mom’s chances of exclusively breastfeeding her baby.


The obstetric nurses leading the study conjecture that the warmth and higher energy of an unbathed newborn, the longer mother-child skin-to-skin time, and the baby’s smelling of its own amniotic fluid coating all contribute to better latching.


A ton of studies prove that breastfeeding helps a an infant emotionally, nutritionally, and immunologically.  The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends exclusive breastfeeding and feeding with pumped breast milk for 6 months and continued breast feeding while introducing foods up to 1 year of age.


Heather Condo DiCioccio, Candace Ady, James F. Bena, Nancy M. Albert. Initiative to Improve Exclusive Breastfeeding by Delaying the Newborn Bath. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.jogn.2018.12.008


newborn bathing. breastfeeding, health news, health tips

#newbornbathing #breastfeeding #healthnews #healthtips




Low Dose Aspirin Prevents Preelampsia-Associated Stroke


Women suffering preeclampsia during their pregnancies have a 30% higher risk of later stroke.  Columbia University neurologists studied 84,000 California teachers and found that low dose aspirin at least 3 times weekly virtually erases the greater risk of stroke for women before they reach the age of 60.  Once past 60, aspirin’s protective effect vanishes.


Preeclampsia complicating pregnancy is rising in the US, and one in every 20 pregnancies is now affected.  An increasing incidence of obesity and associated high blood pressure in women seem to be responsible.


If you experienced preeclampsia during your pregnancy and are currently less than a young 60, do ask your doctor about beginning a course of low dose aspirin.


Steven K. Feske, Cheryl Bushnell. Stroke prevention. Neurology, 2019; 92 (4): 159 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000006802


preeclampsia, stroke, hypertension, aspirin, health news, health tips

#preeclampsia #stroke #hypertension #aspirin #healthnews #healthtips



A Simple Swallow Can Detect Esophageal Cancer


Cancer of the esophagus is so often asyptomatic that it it kills almost a half million persons around the world before they know what hit them.  From Johns Hopkins now comes a simple, non-invasive test that can diagnose this cancer early without the need for a formal endoscopic procedure.


The test, called the EsophaCap, is a dissolvable capsule containing a tiny self-inflating sponge.  The patient swallows the capsule, and an attached string permits the released sponge to be drawn back up the esophagus capturing cells along the way.  The cells on the sponge are then analysed for genetic material looking for cancer or a pre-cancerous condition.


Patients with a history of GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or even recurrent heartburn should have this test.  If you fit the description, look into having the EsophaCap test.


Zhixiong Wang, Swetha Kambhampati, Yulan Cheng, Ke Ma, Cem Simsek, Alan H Tieu, John M Abraham, Xi Liu, Vishnu Prasath, Mark D Duncan, Alejandro Stark, Alexander Trick, Hua-Ling Tsai, Hao Wang, Yulong He, Mouen A Khashab, Saowanee Ngamruengphong, Eun J Shin, Tza-Huei Wang, Stephen J. Meltzer. Methylation Biomarker Panel Performance in EsophaCap Cytology Samples for Diagnosing Barrett's Esophagus: A Prospective Validation Study. Clinical Cancer Research, 2019; clincanres.3696.2018 DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-3696


esophageal cancer, heartburn, gerd, gastric reflux, esophagitis, health news, health tips

#esophagealcancer #heartburn #gerd #gastricreflux #esophagitis #healthnews #healthtips




The Ketogenic Diet Is Safe


You may have heard about the ketogenic diet controversy.  Some including the popular fitness expert and Biggest Loser consultant Jillian Michaels insist that this high fat, low carb diet dangerously robs you of critical macronutrients including blood sugar.


To fact check Michaels’ conclusion, a scientific analysis of the ketogenic diet by University of Alabama nutrition scientist Amy Goss reveals that, despite no carbohydrate intake, the body does not become sugar-starved.  The liver uses other sources to create sufficient glucose to fuel the brain.


The ketogenic diet is useful for controlling or eliminating obesity, type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, and non-alcoholic liver disease. If you do use this or any elimination diet, do so safely under the direction of a registered dietician.


ketogenic diet, low carb, high fat, obesity, diabetes, spilepsy, heath news, health tips

#ketogenicdiet #lowcarb #highfat #obesity #diabetes #spilepsy #heathnews #healthtips




It’s Karma: School Bullies Sustain More Injury Than Victims


School violence is on the rise but, surprise, it’s the bullies themselves who are most likely to be seriously injured.  This the conclusion of a study by researchers at the University of Texas-Houston who studied of some 4300 5th, 7th, and 10th graders in Houston, LA, and Birmingham, Alabama.


In 5th grade, 17% of children sustained at least one violent injury with a gun or knife, but that percentage rose to 33% by10th grade with gunshot injuries predominating.  Bullies themselves were 41% more likely to be violently injured compared with other children because they engage in more risky and violent activities.


If you are the parent of a bully, don’t think that encouraging your child to “feel his/her oats” will end well.  Aggressively stop this behavior and redirect your child’s energies in more positive directions.


Katelyn K. Jetelina, Jennifer M. Reingle Gonzalez, Mark A. Schuster, etal. Mechanisms and Frequency of Violent Injuries Among Victims and Perpetrators of Bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.10.295


school violence, bullying, guns, knives, health news, health tips

#school violence #bullying #guns #knives #healthnews #healthtips



Girls In Pain Get Less Sympathy


Another goal for the #metoo movement is suggested by the latest study from Yale psychologists.  As research subjects observed a video of the very same child being subjected to the classic, old fashioned medical torture, the fingerstick, but identified as either Samuel or Samantha, the majority of observers, both men and women, believe that the girl Samantha felt less pain than the boy Samuel.


This gender bias result is in synch with similar impressions of adults experiencing pain.   The result can be explained by the widespread misconception that boys are more stoic than girls, and it would take greater pain to elicit the same response in the male. 


Parents of girls and significant others of women undergoing procedures need to advocate for their child or partner if they feel that the  pain management being offered is insufficient whether or not it’s due to gender bias.  


Brian D Earp, Joshua T Monrad, Marianne LaFrance, John A Bargh, Lindsey L Cohen, Jennifer A Richeson. Gender Bias in Pediatric Pain Assessment. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsy104


girls, women, pain, gender bias, health news, health tips

#girls #women #pain #genderbias #healthnews #healthtips



Pop Music Lyrics Getting Darker and Angrier


The pop music in the soundtracks of Americans’ lives has become more sad and more angry over the past 7 decades.  Musicologists at the University of Michigan now report this conclusion from their computerized sentiment analysis of more than 6,000 songs on Billboard’s Top 100 from the 1950s through 2018. 


Angry lyrics increased yearly except from 1982-84 and surged in the 1990s.  Sadness, disgust, and fear in lyrics also increased over the same timeframe.  


The bubblegum sounds of the late 50’s and early 60’s were muted by the ugly Vietnam war, and the lighthearted optimism they expressed never recovered under the influences of corporate greed and resurgent intolerance.   I peronally love listening to music, but I consume a blend of oldies, show tunes, and jazz. 


Kathleen Napier, Lior Shamir. Quantitative Sentiment Analysis of Lyrics in Popular Music. Journal of Popular Music Studies, Vol. 30 No. 4, December 2018 DOI: 10.1525/jpms.2018.300411


Pop music, anger, hate, sadness, health tips, health news


#Popmusic #anger #hate #sadness #healthtips #healthnews



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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