Medical Notes 19-11

19-11 notes

Medical Notes this week…

Does the world’s most widely used broad-spectrum weed killer cause cancer? A number of studies have come to different conclusions. But now a comprehensive new analysis in the journal Mutation Research – Reviews in Mutation Research has looked at all the evidence, including a test of more than 50,000 licensed pesticide applicators. The study concludes that yes, the chemical glyphosphate raises the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by as much as 41 percent. Glyphosphate is the primary ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.

If you’re a middle-aged man and can do 40 pushups without stopping, you’re at a 96 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who can do only 10. A study in the journal JAMA Network Open finds that the pushup test may be the most reliable and inexpensive way to judge a man’s heart health over his next 10 years, even more reliable than treadmill tests. But if you can’t do 40 pushups, don’t despair. Heart disease risk is lower to some degree as long as you can do 11 or more.

And finally… gardeners will tell you that playing in the dirt makes them happy, and the reason? There’s a natural antidepressant in soil that acts much the same way as Prozac, but without side effects. A study in the journal Neuroscience shows that gardeners inhale a soil microbe called Mycobacterium, which acts to raise serotonin in the brain, increasing feelings of relaxation and happiness for as long as three weeks.

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19-09 Segment 1: Silent Heart Attack

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Heart attacks that produce few if any symptoms may be mistaken for indigestion or simple malaise, but they can be more serious than heart attacks that bring crushing pain because they often don’t bring a victim to the hospital for lifesaving help. Experts discuss.


  • Dr. Martha Gulati, cardiologist, University of Arizona and Editor-in-Chief, American College of Cardiology patient education initiative
  • Dr. Robert Vogel, Professor of Medicine and Cardiology, University of Colorado and co-author, The Pritikin Edge

Links for more information:

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Medical Notes 19-05

Medical Notes this week…

Cancer deaths are continuing to decline. In fact, a report from the American Cancer Society trumpets a major milestone—cancer death rates have dropped every year for the last 25 years. Overall, they’ve dropped 27 percent since 1991… but some cancers are even more striking. For example, lung cancer death rates are down by 48 percent among men. Breast cancer death rates are down by 40 percent, and prostate cancer death rates have dropped by 51 percent.

Parents of teenagers are remarkably pessimistic that schools are keeping their kids safe. A study in the Journal of Community Health shows that 36 percent of parents believe their local high school is “highly likely” to have a shooter incident in the next three years. The study finds that the majority of parents are dissatisfied with the systems schools have in place to counteract gun violence.

Two drugs commonly prescribed for type two diabetes may significantly raise the risk for heart attacks. The drugs, sulfonylureas (sul-fon-eye-loor-ee-ahs) and basal insulin, are often prescribed when metformin doesn’t work. But a study in the journal JAMA Network Open shows that patients who take basil insulin are twice as likely to experience cardiovascular harm, and those taking sulfonylureas are 36 percent more likely to be harmed than patients taking newer second-line drugs. Experts say the results should prompt large scale changes in how type two diabetes is treated.

And finally… more than half of people who take medical marijuana for chronic pain admit they’ve driven while under the influence… and one in five users say they’ve driven while they were “very high” in the last six months. The study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence surveyed medical marijuana users in Michigan… where recreational marijuana is also legal. Researchers say they’re troubled that users don’t think there’s much risk to driving under the influence of pot… but they admit they’re not sure how marijuana affects driving for people who use it every day.

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Medical Notes 18-52

Medical Notes this week…

Death rates for most major health conditions have been in decline, but chronic kidney disease is a big exception, according to a study in the journal JAMA Open. Researchers say that deaths due to chronic kidney disease have increased overall by 58 percent over the last 15 years… and among people under 55, who previously suffered little chronic kidney disease, death rates are sharply up as well. Scientists blame high-sugar, high-salt foods and the increase in health problems such as high blood pressure and type two diabetes… which can trigger kidney disease.

Some people say having a tough childhood makes kids grow up fast. But a new study in the journal Biological Psychiatry finds that it also ages children prematurely. Researchers analyzed DNA of children age eight to 16 who had been exposed to violence, neglect, or emotional abuse… and found that on a cellular level, they were older than similar children living in a more stable environment. Those changes are reflected in the average age of puberty… which is lower among children growing up in a tough environment.

And finally… if you’re a night owl, your health may suffer for it. Previous studies have linked being a night owl to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease… and now a study in the journal Chronobiology International has added up the effect—night owls may have a 10 percent higher risk of early death. Researchers admit they don’t know why a person’s chronotype has such an effect.

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