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HEALTH HEADLINES FOR FIRST HALF October, 2018.
Flu shots, the expense of non-fatal injuries, the latest FDA approvals, a new drug prevents diabetes, how to avoid blindness, the danger of stomach reflux drugs, and vaccinating your child to avoid losing your pediatrician. All that and more in this health news roundup featuring the latest medical discoveries that you can use to keep yourself and your family healthy.
It’s the 100th anniversary of the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic, the worst outbreak in history when one-third of the worlds people were infected and 50 million died. We’ve had others including the 1957 Asian flu, the 1968 Hong Kong flu, and the 2009 swine epidemic. Now, those who ignore history are destined to repeat it, and the tragedy a century ago not only occurred due to the lack of an effective vaccine but also was driven by malnutrition, poor public health with widespread diseases like tuberculosis, and population crowding. This is all recounted in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. We all can weather this years flu season by getting vaccinated, eating properly, and maintaining sanitary conditions in our homes and communities.
NON-FATAL INJURIES BREAK BANK
Researchers at Brown University in association with the Pacific Institute, report that the price tag for non-fatal injuries in the US was more than 1.8 trillion dollars in 2013 and is certainly more by now. This price tag totals all treatment, rehabilitation, and lost-work costs.
Most of these accidents are preventable by application of the four E’s: engineering, education, economics, and enforcement. People must be educated to appropriately use engineered safety devices such as cycle helmets and child car seats, those who cannot afford safety devices should receive financial help, and societal rules should promote their use.
Let’s look at the big ticket items. In 2013, there were almost 13 million falls and assaults each costing $66,000 to $100,000. Then the add the 3 million motor vehicle accidents, each with a $67,000 price tag, nearly half million self-harm injuries with a similar $68,000 price tag, and finally 74,000 gunshot injuries with a whopping $220,000 cost. The bottom line: we can save a load of bucks by playing it safe, being good to ourselves, driving carefully, and regulating guns.
LATEST FDA APPROVALS
Gardasil 9, the human papilloma 9-valent vaccine, typically recommended for adolescents, is now also approved and recommended for individuals 27 to 45 years of age. This vaccine prevents nasty genital warts and precancerous lesions as well as devastating cervical cancer. The vaccination routine involves 3 shots over a 6 month period and is worth getting. Previously we only had a vaccine that protected against 4 types of papilloma virus rather than 9.
Bose will soon be offering over-the-counter hearing aid. This device can be fit and programmed by you, and will not require a formal hearing test or a doctor’s visit except on a state-by-state basis. Your smart phone will control and adjust the hearing aid. We don’t have a price or an availability date. While, there are already amplification devices on the consumer market, this one will be the highest quality.
Remember, though, that hearing loss may be a symptom of a more serious problem such as a tumor along the auditory nerve. Merely amplifying the sound is a “Band-Aid” that could be covering a possible future disaster in your head. A proper diagnostic visit with an ENT doctor can not only determine the extent of your loss but also its root cause.
Let’s pause today’s news for a feature I call FutureMed, the medicine of the future. If you’re like me, you probably get your movie reviews and ratings from the Rotten Tomatoes and Ebert sites. A group of chemists at Germany’s Max Planck Institute has studied a “better mousetrap” for measuring the scream effect of horror flicks as well as rating movies to determine age suitability.
The scientists screened 11 different movies for some 13,000 audience members and analyzed the volatile organic chemicals the viewers released into the theater air. It turns out that the more nervous, tense and frightened we are, the more of the chemical isoprene our body tissues release into the bloodstream and out through our lungs. The more isoprene we collectively shed, the more unsettling the flick has been.
These researchers are now on a search for other chemical markers to measure other emotions such as relaxation, anger, and, without being graphic, other types of stimulation. It will be awhile before we can forgo the fresh or rotten tomatoes or the rotating thumbs.
Back now to the news stories.....
PREVENTING DIABETES COMPLICATIONS
Diabetics, type 2, and pre-diabetics perk up. An appetite suppressing drug has been reported to reverse your problems. That drug is lorcaserin, marketed as Belviq, and it activates a serotonin receptor in the hypothalamus. Researchers at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s studied 12,000 overweight or obese persons 80% of whom were diabetics or pre-diabetics. Use of the drug reduced the diabetics’ kidney and eye complications by over 20% and reduced the risk that pre-diabetics would progress to frank diabetes by about the same percentage. If you are at risk and not doing well on your current therapy, ask your doctor about trying the drug.
VEGGIES FIGHT BLINDNESS
Macular degeneration of the retina is a common cause of blindness with nearly a quarter million cases occurring in the US annually. A new study from down under in more than 2,000 Aussies reveals that spinach and beets can prevent this dread disease. Subjects who consumed 100 to 142 mg of vegetable nitrates per day had a 35% lower risk of macular degeneration. Both spinach and beets have from 15-20 mg of those beneficial nitrates per 100 grams. Other foods have them too including carrots, green beans, cabbage, lettuce, and especially arugula.
SWEETEN THAT BRATTY KID
Want to avoid raising a materialistic child, better known as a spoiled brat. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago studied some 900 teens 11 to 17 years of age. They report that gratitude exercises, drills forcing the kids to realize just how lucky they are, fostered more generosity and a drop in selfishness and materialism. One winning strategy was having the teen maintain a gratitude diary to post their thoughts. It’s certain that a gratitude app for smartphones is already under development!
Ever wonder how your body works. In this feature, TELL ME WHY, let’s explore why we shiver.
Most of us shiver and shudder when our bodies are cold, as our muscles begin to involuntarily contract and produce internal heat. But shivering may have other causes as well: fever, stress, general anxiety, specific traumatic memories, depression, psychogenic movement disorders, neurologic tremor, post-general anesthesia, and a deadly disseminated body infection called sepsis. If you experience recurrent shivering without the cold trigger, be certain to bring it up with your doctor.
REFLUX DRUG DANGER
Stomach acid reflux is common, and proton-pump inhibitor medications or PPIs, the best known of which are Prevacid, Nexium, and Prilosec, are effective treatments. But PPIs have downside risks including preventing the absorption of vital nutrients including calcium. The latest studies implicate the chronic use of PPIs as a cause of devastating osteoporosis and a 26% increased risk of hip fractures.
Take home point: If you’re taking a PPI, have your doctor check your calcium, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin B12 levels on a periodic basis. As we live longer, we do want to live better, and long healthspans, years of good health and productive life, are more important than long lifespans. The key to a long healthspan is maintaining not only your mental capacity but also your mobility.
VACCINATE AGAINST LOSING YOUR PEDIATRICIAN
If you’re a parent who resists vaccinating your kids against the common childhood communicable diseases, you may soon find yourself without a pediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatrics now condones expulsion of little patients and their parents from a practice if the pediatrician has exhausted all avenues of counseling and parents continue to refuse immunizations.
Unprotected children in a practice put the other children, parents, and even office staff at risk. All of the scientific literature continues to underscore that vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary to prevent more serious and sometimes fatal disease.
CHILD’S PLAY BUILDS BONES
Kids who play sports during childhood do develop studier bones. An Australian study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, that followed nearly 1000 children beginning at age 5 showed that both boys and girls who were consistent players did have more robust leg bone mineral content by age 20. We don’t know if this excellent bone density will carry into later life, but it certainly should help.
COFFEE CLEARS YOUR SKIN
Caffeinated coffee consumption may help keep a woman’s complexion soft and healthy. The latest data on nearly 83,000 women enrolled in the Nurses Health Study and compiled by researchers at Brown University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital revealed a 24% reduction in the incidence of rosacea in those women who consumed caffeinated coffee.
The caffeine in tea, soda, and chocolate had no benefit nor did de-caffeinated coffee. Rosacea is a chronic facial skin condition that produces dilated blood vessels, generalized redness, and pimples on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin.
PRE-NATAL CARE MAY PREVENT DEMENTIA
Good prenatal care is essential for preventing maternal and fetal complications. One all too frequent maternal problem is pre-eclampsia that is heralded by high blood pressure and protein in the urine and can lead to impaired liver and kidney functions, anemia, and lung fluid.
A Danish study, published in the British Medical Journal, now warns that the end of the perinatal period may not be the end of problems. Reviewing data from over a million women who gave birth over a 40 year period reveals that pre-eclampsia is associated with a three-fold increased risk of vascular dementia later in life.
Young women of childbearing age should always have comprehensive prenatal care, and those women who have experienced pre-eclampsia should be monitored carefully for high blood pressure, lipid disorders, diabetes, and the onset of cognitive problems foreshadowing dementia.
Overly strict parenting leads to overly aggressive children and adolescents. A study of over 200 identical twins conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University concludes that harsh parental treatment and lack of parental warmth, more so than genetics, will foster the development of anti-social behavior and aggressive traits.
Simply put: bullies beget bullies. We as parents must do what we can to break this chain of hate and ill-will. During these trying times, resist the temptation to take out your frustrations on your kids.
KILL JOY FOOD NUMBERS
We’ve all been to restaurants that list the calorie count along with the ingredients of a particular menu selection. A study from New York University in the Journal of Consumer Psychology reveals that those foreboding numbers work most effectively to curb overeating if they appear on the left side of the menu and before the name and description of the entree.
Study participants given menus where the calorie count is read before the item ordered food with 24% fewer calories than those given menus with the calories on the right or with no calorie information. Just to dispel some odd left-right preference, a mirror study was conducted with a group of Hebrew-speaking Israelis who read right to left, and, for them, the calorie count placed on the right produced the same food choice discretion.
Whichever way you read, exercise constraint when dining out. Restaurant food tends to contain far too many carbs and fats, and the portions are so large a doggy-bag is mandatory.
Try A Little Kindness Story
Good news is good for the soul, and here’s a great story to end my report. I call the feature “Try A Little Kindness.”
Earlier we talked about the human chemistry of horror and rating horror movies, and the king of horror, Stephen King, turns out to one kind guy. His story appears on the site GoodNewsNetwork.org. Some 40 years ago when he began earning income from his books, he developed what he called the Dollar Babies Program to promote student filmmaking.
For the paltry sum of $1, he will grant budding film auteurs the rights to his stories not under current contract to commercial movie producers. As with so many acts of kindness this one ended up “paying it forward!”
King’s generosity nurtured the career of director-producer Frank Darabont. He, in turn, later made one of King’s greatest cinema hits, the Shawshank Redemption.
Kirsty R. Short, Katherine Kedzierska, Carolien E. van de Sandt. Back to the Future: Lessons Learned From the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 2018; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fcimb.2018.00343
Mark R. Zonfrillo, Rebecca S. Spicer, Bruce A. Lawrence, Ted R. Miller. Incidence and costs of injuries to children and adults in the United States. Injury Epidemiology, 2018; 5 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s40621-018-0167-6
Erin A Bohula, Benjamin M Scirica, Silvio E Inzucchi, etal. for the CAMELLIA-TIMI 61 Steering Committee Investigators. Effect of lorcaserin on prevention and remission of type 2 diabetes in overweight and obese patients (CAMELLIA-TIMI 61): a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32328-6
Gregory D Myer, Kim Barber Foss, Staci Thomas, etal. Altered brain microstructure in association with repetitive subconcussive head impacts and the potential protective effect of jugular vein compression: a longitudinal study of female soccer athletes. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2018 DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099571
Bamini Gopinath, Gerald Liew, Annette Kifley, etal. Association of Dietary Nitrate Intake with the 15-Year Incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2018.07.012
Lan Nguyen Chaplin, Deborah Roedder John, Aric Rindfleisch, Jeffrey J. Froh. The impact of gratitude on adolescent materialism and generosity. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2018.1497688
Ito T, Jensen RT. Association of Long-term Proton Pump Inhibitor Therapy with Bone Fractures and effects on Absorption of Calcium, Vitamin B12, Iron, and Magnesium. Current gastroenterology reports. 2010;12(6):448-457. doi:10.1007/s11894-010-0141-0.
Rheumatol Int. 2018 Aug 29. doi: 10.1007/s00296-018-4142-x. [Epub ahead of print]
Kathryn M. Edwards, Jesse M. Hackell, THE COMMITTEE ON INFECTIOUS DISEASES, THE COMMITTEE ON PRACTICE AND AMBULATORY MEDICINE
Pediatrics Aug 2016, e20162146; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-2146
Joanne A McVeigh, Erin K Howie, Kun Zhu, John P Walsh, Leon Straker. Organized Sport Participation From Childhood to Adolescence Is Associated With Bone Mass in Young Adults From the Raine Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.3583
Li S, Chen ML, Drucker AM, et al. Association of Caffeine Intake and Caffeinated Coffee Consumption With Risk of Incident Rosacea In Women. JAMA Dermatol. Published online October 17, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.3301
Saima Basit, Jan Wohlfahrt, Heather A Boyd. Pre-eclampsia and risk of dementia later in life: nationwide cohort study. BMJ, 2018; k4109 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.k4109
Rebecca Waller, Luke W. Hyde, Kelly L. Klump, S. Alexandra Burt. Parenting is an Environmental Predictor of Callous-Unemotional Traits and Aggression: A Monozygotic Twin Differences Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2018.07.882
Steven K. Dallas, Peggy J. Liu, Peter A. Ubel. Don't Count Calorie Labeling Out: Calorie Counts on the Left Side of Menu Items Lead to Lower Calorie Food Choices. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/jcpy.1053