OnCall Show Notes:

November, 2018 HealthNews

12/9/18

 

I’m Dr. Howard Smith, PENTA Medical Network, live from NYC.  Program will feature:

#Health News You Should Use, the latest medical discoveries that you can use in a practical way to keep yourself and your family healthy.  

There is a ton of medical and healthcare news every week.  I distill this down for you go those tidbits that contain actions you and your family can and should actually take. 

 

On this first broadcast,  I’ll cover topics from height increasing your cancer risk to last resort treatments for migraine headaches, how hypnosis can help treat inflammatory bowel disease, and why father’s who smoke may be reducing their sons’ fertility. 

 

One more thing:  you’ll find all the references to what I discuss as well as show notes on my website at www.drhowardsmith.com.

 

#In addition to medical news, I’m adding a group of specials that include:

• Health Tips You Can’t Skip- pointers, reminder lists, and home remedies..

• FutureMed-a look at today’s medical miracles that will make tomorrows health care better.

• Tell Me Why- the stories about how your body works.... or doesn’t.

  • HELP-timely self-help resources.

  • Health Crap Scrap-disreputable and frankly fraudulent medical products and procedures you should avoid.

  • Thorns To Warn-a homage to the great CBS reporter Andy Rooney by reviewing those things in our everyday lives that annoy us and how to get relief from them.

  • Try A Little Kindness- some good news and uplifting reports.

 

#For you early birds here at the beginning of the Vidcast, let’s begin with a health tip:

 

HEALTH TIP

There’s lot’s of dining out during the holiday season.  If you or a member of your family has a food allergy, every meal is a disaster waiting to happen.  To get you through the holiday season, here are tips for safe dining from WebMD.

 

  1. #Research before going: call ahead; check menu online.

  2. #Choose cuisine carefully: avoid  Asian for peanut exposure; avoid seafood.

  3. #Eat off-hours: avoid crowded restaurants: kitchen mistakes; cross contamination.

  4. #Be prepared: Epipen, 

  5. #Discuss concerns with staff, management, chef, and emphasize your level of sensitivity to the food in question.

  6. #Ask about cross-contamination during food prep: insist on separate fryers and pans..

7.    #Leave if you don’t like answers.

#Height Increases Cancer Risk

The taller you are the more cells you have in your body.  A study from UC-Riverside shows that every four inches of height beyond the average is associated with a 10% increase in your cancer risk.  This is particularly true for skin cancers, specifically the potentially deadly melanoma, in both men and women. All cancers except those in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and pancreas show the effect.  Skin is preferentially affected since the cells turn over so rapidly.  All of us need to carefully watch our skin, but that’s particularly true if you are on the tall side.  The average height for women is is 5 feet 4 inches or 63.7 inches and for men is 5 feet 10 inches or 69.7 inches.  Do your calculations and be on guard the taller you are over that average.

 

#WOULD-BE DAD’S FITNESS IMPACTS OFFSPRING

Listen up would be dads.  Your exercise habits and fitness, not only mom’s, will impact the health of your kids.  An experimental study from Ohio State and Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center using a mammalian model, that is mice, showed offspring of Mickey Mice who exercised prior to conception had improved sugar metabolism, decreased body weight, and decreased fat mass.  This is a similar finding to that seen for Minnie Mice moms.  The scientists trace the parent-offspring passage to cellular RNA.  The take home point is that young would-be parents should be healthy and fit.

 

#GENETIC MARKER FOR PANCREATIC CANCER

Pancreatic cancer runs in families, and its inheritance is autosomal dominant,  That means, if your mom or dad had pancreatic cancer, there is a 50% chance you will develop it as well.  Unfortunately, this cancer is usually detected too late, but it can be treated if caught early.  The latest Dana-Farber Cancer Institute newsletter highlights the fact that there is a link between mutations in the BRCA2 gene and the development of pancreatic cancer.  They suggest that anyone with a strong family history of pancreatic cancer, and I would say any family history of pancreatic cancer, should have the simple blood test for the BRCA2 mutation.  Individuals and family members who test positive for the mutation should have imaging of the pancreas using MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) and an endoscopic pancreas ultrasound.  Any suspicious shadows can then be needle biopsied and, if cancerous, treated with chemotherapy and surgically removed before the cancer spreads.

 

#HOME BIOFEEDBACK FOR CONSTIPATION

Constipation is common and it affects some 15% of Americans.  One-third of those, that’s 5% of our friends and neighbors, have dyssynergic constipation that does not respond to the usual dietary changes, stool softeners, or laxatives.  What does work is teaching sufferers to control their muscles using biofeedback, and Medical College of Georgia clinicians report that the successful office routines work almost as well at home.  At least three-quarters of subjects learned to successfully relieve themselves.  Now home kits are underdevelopment, so stay this tuned.

 

#HYPOTHYROID MOMS THREATEN FETAL BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

The developing fetal brain requires normal maternal thyroid function for the first 16 weeks of a pregnancy.  Many child-bearing women do have thyroid problems, yet go untreated  because neither the USA or Great Britain have universal screening programs for maternal hypothyroidism.  The US and British health systems instead rely on the so-called case finding model insisting that women with significantly low thyroid hormone will be symptomatic.  Data shows otherwise, and doctors at the UK’s Cardiff University suggest that all prospective mothers should have thyroid testing before getting pregnant.  They feel that eliminating even mild hypothyroidism in a mom would improve child intelligence and eliminate other pregnancy complications.  If you are considering a pregnancy or suddenly find yourself pregnant, get a battery of thyroid screening tests done.

#FUTUREMED: GROW YOUR OWN SPINE DISKS

Degenerative back disease will likely affect most of us if we live long enough, and the most common issue is deterioration of the disks between the vertebral bodies.  When the disks fail, often the common management involves surgery and spinal fusion.  There are artificial disks now available, but they wear out and can be uncomfortable.  Bioengineers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Schools of Engineering and Veterinary Medicine has been growing new disks from stem cells and testing them in ever larger animals.  In the not too distant future, it will be possible to replace a human degenerated disk with a fresh disk grown from a the patients own stem cells.   

#LAST RESORT MIGRAINE TREATMENT

If you have migraine headaches that respond poorly or not at all to conventional therapy, you may want to ask you doctors about trying a novel approach with the Calcitonin Gene Receptor Protein-blocking antibody erenumab, marketed as Aimovig.  This preventive drug, injected monthly, is effective but pricey with costs ranging from $6-8000 a year.  Neurologists also have some questions around possible long-term effects as the drug has not been used over an extended period of time.  In the short run, it may you give the relief you seek until better therapy is available or the drug is shown to have no lasting side effects or complications.

 

#GOING ORGANIC PREVENTS CANCER

Organic food intake may prevent cancer.  A study of nearly 70,000 French adults published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed a 25% lower risk of common cancers in those consuming pesticide-free organic food.   Although the study bears confirmation with more data and standardization of the types of foods involved.  Meanwhile, it is food for thought, and may be another reason to pay more for true organic foods.

#Easier MacULAR DegenERATION Treatment

Patients with so-called wet macular degeneration can have their disease progression slowed and blindness prevented with the biopharmaceutical antibody ranibizumab, marketed as Lucentis, but the treatment requires eye injections every 4 to 6 weeks.  Ouch.  As a result,, people go under treated.  Researchers at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia have developed and begun testing a tiny rice grain-sized implantable reservoir that need only be refilled every 4 months or so.  If you or a family member has macular degeneration, ask the doc when the reservoir is coming to your neighborhood.

#FISH FATS REDUCES MISCARRIAGES AND LOW BIRTH WEIGHT

The omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood, if taken in sufficient quantities, can lower the risk of premature birth by as much as 42% and reduce the risk of a having a low birthweight baby by 10%.  A Cochrane Review meta-analysis of  70 randomized studies showed that fatty fish and fish oil supplements that contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid do the trick.  The optimal dose if at least 500 mg of DHA beginning no later than the 12th week of pregnancy.  #Omega 3’s may be found in mackerel, sable, salmon, sardines, and herring, and about two portions of fish will do the trick.

#LICKING PACIFIER CLEAN MAY LICK ALLERGIES

It sounds gross but studies at Detroits Henry Ford Health System conclude that parental licking of infant pacifiers is associated with lower levels of childhood allergy IgE antibodies until at least 18 months of age.  The data does not say whether this effect persists or whether it leads to reduced childhood allergies.  More studies must be done.  It seems that the parental licking passes beneficial bacteria to the infant that then populate the babies gut.  This study is more proof that a little bit of dirt is good for kids.

#TELL ME WHY - NOSEBLEEDING

Ever wonder why you get nosebleeds.  Most nosebleeds occur when the tiny vessels at the front part of the nose break. This occurs due to dryness but usually due to PICKING!  You can prevent nasty nosebleeds, in medical jargon epistaxis or epi’s for short, by keeping your fingers out of your nose or move them in gently with cut nails, by moisturizing the linings using humidification and aerosol saline, and by softening and cleansing any nasal crusts with the use of topical antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin.  Oh, one more thing:  AVOID BLOWING YOUR NOSE!  Noseblowing irritates the linings and increases pressures in the nasal blood vessels making bleeding more likely.  Treatment?  We’ll discuss that another time.

#FDA APPROVES MENOPAUSE DRUG

Menopausal hot flash sufferers will get some relief by mid-2019.  The FDA has approved an effective estradiol-progesterone so-called bioidentical combo drug called Bijuva.  It has no synthetic hormones, but there are no studies to show that it is safer or more effective.  It will require long term studies to see if it can reduce the risks of breast cancer, seep vein thrombosis, or heart attacks.

 

#HYPNOSIS FOR TOUGH-TO-TREAT IBD

Many patients with IBD, inflammatory bowel disease, respond poorly to dietary therapy such as low fiber diets, medicinal therapy including mesalazine and steroids, and the newest fecal microbe transplants.  A multi-center study of nearly 500 IBD patients shows that cost effective and accessible group hypnotherapy is as effective as individual hypotherapy and more effective than educational supportive therapy alone.

#BRAIN INJURY FROM HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

There is no safe game of tackle football when it comes to the players’ brains.  The latest study from UC-Berkeley, Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill utilized the latest MRI imaging technique to study 16 high school players ages 15-17.  After only one season of play, the scans detected significant damages to the grey matter in the front and rear of the brain where higher order functions such as memory, attention, and cognition reside.  There were also damages to the deeper thalamus and putamen that process sensory and movement information.  Bottom line: football, soccer heading, and hockey quickly produce brain damage in amateur and pro players leading to permanent damage, dementia, and diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

#WEIGHTLIFTING IS HEART-HEALTHY

Lifting weights for less than an hour a week may be lifesaving by reducing your chance of a heart attack or stroke by 40-70 percent.  This Iowa State University study included data from nearly 13,000 adults.  The resistance exercise that builds muscles drives an increase in their metabolic activity that is as beneficial as aerobic exercise at preventing obesity and diabetes. Weightlifting also strengthens bones.  The study did indicate that health club members were more likely to remain consistent about the resistance exercise.

#FAMILY MEALS FOSTER GOOD TEEN NUTRITION

Teens who eat meals with their families eat healthier.  A group of investigators at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Amherst College, and Harvard Medical School studied the eating habits of more than 2700 teens and young adults 14 to 24 years as a function of how they took their meals.  Those who had dinners with their families ate significantly more fruits and vegetables and less fast food, takeout food, and sweetened beverages.  This finding was true whether or. not families were rated as close-knit or dysfunctional.  Take home point: plan for family meal, especially dinners, no matter how busy everyone seems.

#HELP: IDEAS FOR KID FUN

Your kids are on winter vacation.  You live in the Northeast., You’re looking for things to do.  Look no further than MommyPoppins.com.  This website covers New York City, Westchester, Long Island, Boston, Phillie, Jersey, Connecticut, and Los Angeles.  Wait....that’s not NorthEast.  They occasionally have articles about other cities like the one pictured here about Charleston, S.C.  This is an incredible resource for families listing indoor and outdoor activities, holiday and seasonal specials, parks and playgrounds, shows, sports events, and even suggested short trips.

 

#SOY BABY FOOD MAY TRIGGER PAINFUL PERIODS LATER

Soy baby formula upsets a female baby’s developing reproductive system.  This the finding  of the National Institute of Environment Health Sciences in conjunction with Nashville’s Vanderbilt university and Detroit’s Henry Ford Health system.  The ingredient in soy formula that’s  one of the culprits is genistein, a plant-based estrogen.  Other studies have associated soy formula withe the development of endometriosis, where uterine lining cells find their way into other pelvic tissues, the development of uterine polyps, and vaginal lining cell abnormalities.  If your female child or grandchild can’t tolerate mother’s milk or cows milk, ask the pediatrician to consider an alternative to soy.

#SMOKING FATHERS CAN TANK THEIR SON’S FERTILITY

If your father was a smoker at the time you, his son, was born, you might just have problems becoming a father yourself.  Sweden’s Lund University reports that men born to smoking fathers had half as many sperm as non-smokers.  This was true even if their mothers didn’t smoke, and previous studies showed that smoking mothers’ sons had reduced sperm counts.  The researchers looked at more than one hundred men 17 through 20 years of age and found that the sons of smoking dads had 51 percent fewer sperm and a 41 percent lower sperm concentration.  One other thing: smoking father’s have daughters with a shorter reproductive lifespans.  All this is no doubt due to the fact that smoking causes DNA mutations.  So if you cant quit smoking to help yourself, at least kick the habit to help your kids.

#HOW TO COACH YOUR KIDS TO TALK

Your children learn to speak from you, but new data suggests the most effective way for you to teach them.  Clinicians at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences have shown in the past that infants respond best to so-called parent-ese.  No it’s not baby talk but real sentences with real words but longer vowels and more modulation.  #Parentese is pleasant-sounding but also higher pitched, slower in tempo, has exaggerated intonation, and is acoustically expanded.  Babies prefer to listen to it.   The investigators report that parents can be successfully coached to learn and use parent-ese.  After 8 months of parental language stimulation, the babies of the coached parents vocalized significantly more words than babies in the control group.

 

#DOC MAY BE PRESCRIBING TOO MANY NARCS AFTER SURGERY

You’ve heard lots about the opioid crisis, and the latest data from the University of Michigan provides more proof that we doctors are partly to blame.  The multi-center study of nearly 2400 patients at 33 Michigan hospitals shows that nearly 3 of every ten painkiller narcotic pills are never taken.  Furthermore, the more pills that are prescribed, the more patients tend to take.  Since this study was completed last year, new guidelines for narcotics prescribing have been established in Michigan.  These guidelines may or may not exist in your locale, so encourage your surgeon to softpedal the narcotics.  General guidelines call for use of non-narcotics such acetaminophen, Tylenol, or ibuprofen, Advil, first.  Then only a 2 day supply of narcotics should be prescribed if more severe pain is expected.

#REDUCING SOCIAL MEDIA SCREEN TIME WILL MAKE YOU HAPPIER

The latest in the “more is less” category is time spent on social media in general and Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram in particular.  Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania studied 143 college students determining their level of mental health and its relation to time spent looking at other’s lives.  The tabulated data led to one compelling conclusion: reducing social media time reduces levels of depression and loneliness.  The explanation for these results points to the phenomenon that all of us look at other’s rosy-appearing lives and develop comparison envy.  The UofP psychologists don’t recommend going cold turkey on internet evesdropping but rather moderating your use of social media sites.  Also, view your friends pages with a healthy dose of skepticism and your own life with more optimism.  Nothing “is as good or as bad as it appears.”

#HEALTH CRAP

Researchers at Montreal’s McGill University are concerned about bogus research promoting garbage drugs that are ineffective and costly.  First on their hit list was Pfizer’s blockbuster pain drug Lyrica.   Bioethics Professor Jonathan Kimmelman studied how drug companies promote the idea that their drugs may be useful for conditions other than those for which they were tested and approved by the FDA or the Canadian equivalent Health Canada.  Once their drugs are found useful for a particular condition and approved, the companies and researchers launch studies to expand the indications. The results of these studies are often less compelling than those used to approve the drug, but they are promoted to doctors and patients alike to encourage so-called off label uses of the drugs.  Lyrica was approved for use in diabetic peripheral neuropathy, post-shingles pain, and later for fibromyalgia.  Pfizer and its army of salespersons then began promoting the drug and encouraging doctors to prescribe the drug for other forms of chronic pain, perioperative pain, and migraine headaches.  The FDA fined them $43 million having previously fined them more than $2 billion for other infractions.  Ask your doctor whether the drugs they’re prescribing you are FDA approved for that purpose and if not, why not.

#HOOKAH SMOKING MAY BE MORE DANGEROUS THAN CIGARETTES

Urban legend suggests that hookah smoking is safer than cigarette smoking.  Nurses at UCLA and the Cedar Sinai Medical Center studied 30 twenty-something users and showed that just the opposite is true.  Hookah smokers not only inhale the nicotine from the heated, flavored tobacco but they are also literally “gassed” by a 10 times normal concentration of toxic carbon monoxide produced by the charcoal used to heat the tobacco.  The research showed that hookah, conventional cigarettes, and electronic cigarettes all create the same nicotine high but sadly also the same damage to blood vessel linings.  Then, hookah aficionados, you also have an overload of potentially toxic, even deadly, carbon monoxide.  Would you taking puffs from a an automobile tailpipe?

#CERTAIN COFFEES MAY PROTECT AGAINST PARKINSON’S AND ALZHEIMER’S

Coffee seems to prevent the aggregation and deposit of amyloid proteins and tau proteins that, when they collect in the brain, are the hallmarks of Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Dementia.  Clinical and basic scientists at the University of Toronto now show which components of coffee bear the beneficial properties.  First cross caffeine off the list.  Both de-caf and high test brews did the trick, and the effect was only slightly better with caffeine present.  It turns out that the magic ingredient is phenylindane, and this component increases in dark roast coffee.  This study is a test tube study, but it does offer an explanation as to why coffee drinkers have a lower incidence of these protein-aggregate dementias.  So, if you plan to drink coffee and lower your risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, choose the dark roast.

 

#HOT BREW V. COLD BREW COFFEE?

I won’t bury the lead on this one.  Hot brew is better!  Scientific Reports recently published a study from Philadelphia and Thomas Jefferson Universities that demonstrated higher levels of beneficial antioxidants in the hot brew.  This correlates with other studies that associate hot brewed coffee with a lower risk of cancer, diabetes, and depression.   Cold brew has been said to be less acidic than hot brew, but both had the same range of pH.

THORNS

From the “it’s healthy to let it all out” department,  don’t you wonder why ”easy open packaging” rarely open easily.  You know the type.  The manufacturer tantalizes you with zip lock type strips suggesting that the package will be easily resealable after you sample your first tastes of the product.  You have only to tear the plastic bond above the zip lock to open the package.  Trouble is, that turns out not to be easy.  Either the plastic won’t tear without the strength of King Kong or it natural tears at the wrong spot damaging the usefulness of the ziplock.  Worse yet, often the ziplock unit is poorly attached to the sizes of the package, so that it is impossible to reseal the package effectively if you ever get it open.  Why don’t manufacturers create preperforated plastic headers that will reliably tear, and why don’t they bond the ziplock unit to the side walls better.  Here’s my fix for this problem: use scissors to precisely cut the header plastic.  If the ziplock attachment is flawed, use an binder clip to hold a folded top in place.

#FARMERS’ MARKETS MAY FOOD POISON YOU

To protect the citizens of Pennsylvania, the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences studied the state’s farmers markets and were appalled by what they found.  Over 75 percent of the vendors failed to use protective gloves when handling food.  Many of those who did use gloves used them improperly handling food and money sequentially without changing gloves.  It was then no surprise to the investigators when they assayed the food being sold for bacteria.  E. coli was found in 40% of beef, 18% of pork, 28% of kale and lettuce, and 17 percent of spinach.  Penn State is now providing hygiene training to vendors in Pennsylvania.  You, need to protect yourself.  Don’t buy from vendors at farmers’ markets on on the street who don’t use gloves or use them improperly by handling food and money.

 

#APPLE WATCH AND YOUR HEART

If you’re an Apple Watcher you know that the latest Apple Watch, the series 4, is capable of recording an electrocardiogram and possibly detecting that your heart has a dangerous rhythm or is fluttering in a so-called atrial fibrillation pattern.  What you don’t know is that Apple, in cooperation with Stanford University cardiologist, has enrolled more than 400,000 Apple Watch users in a heart study in order to develop apps that detect cardiac danger.  One app uses the Series 4 electrocardiogram patterns but the other will work on any Apple Watch because it analyzes pulse data.  This pulse app has an advantage over the EKG app since it works in the background and can survey the situation without the cooperation of the wearer.  The latest Apple Wtch OS update, 5.1.2, enables these features.  If you have the latest Series 4 watch, you can see your EKG.  If you have Series 1 through 3 watches, you can still use the pulse program to monitor for possible arrythmias such as AF or atrial fibrillation.

#KINDNESS - GOOD NEWS

Here’s another piece of good news and a “pay it forward” from one of my favorite websites, goodnewsnetwork.org.  Here’s a motorcyclist with a disabled cycle stuck in the center lane of a busy superhighway.  A trucker pulls up behind, assesses the situation, and instead of pulling to the left to pass the motorcycle, the truck driver signals to the cyclist that he will help by slowly moving over lane by lane to create a rolling roadblock permitting the cyclist to roll the machine to the breakdown lane safely.  Now that’s a Good Samaritan, and in this time of sometimes remarks and snarky tweets, we need some good news and acts of kindness!

 

 

 

 

We’ll that’s it for now. I’m Dr. Howard Smith for the PENTA Medical Network thanking you for joining me and hoping to see you next time. Keep smiling and keep your mind and body in motion!

 

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References—

 

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Carole A. Federico, Taiji Wang, Adélaïde Doussau, Jeffrey S. Mogil, Dean Fergusson, Jonathan Kimmelman. Assessment of Pregabalin Postapproval Trials and the Suggestion of Efficacy for New Indications. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.5705

 

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