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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Medical Notes 18-30

 

Medical Notes this week…

If you’ve ever wanted to find out more about your doctor and his license now there’s an app for that. The Medical Board of California is releasing an app called “Med Board CA” for users in the state who will have access to information on their doctors with a click of a button. The medical board says it wants to help California consumers make informed health care decisions and they’re hoping other states will follow suit.

The human body contains billions of bacteria so it may not be surprising to hear that surgical implants, such as knee replacements, can harbor bacteria of their own. A study in the journal APMIS finds that bacteria, fungi or both may colonize surgical implants, including hip replacements and the screws that fix broken bones but not to worry no patients with implants have shown ill effects from infection.  

Doctors have long known that after menopause, obesity leads to a higher risk of breast cancer. But before menopause, it may be the opposite. new research in the journal Jama Oncology shows that younger women with a higher body mass index have a lower breast cancer risk than those who are thinner. Factors such as hormones, growth factors and breast density all play a role in the apparent link between higher BMI and lower cancer risk. So researchers say gaining weight is no way to prevent breast cancer.

Diabetics may soon be able to say goodbye to painful finger pricks, thanks to a new non-invasive blood glucose monitoring that combines radar and artificial intelligence. The device developed at Waterloo University uses high frequency radio waves to detect the amount of glucose in a liquid. Initial tests with volunteers show the device is about 85 percent as accurate as traditional invasive blood analysis.

And finally, if you’re thinking about what foods are good for you, how about a cup of coffee…or four. A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine followed a large group of people over 10 years and found that coffee drinkers are about 10 to 15 percent less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. Researchers suspect coffee contains several bioactive compounds with potential beneficial properties. So go ahead, pour yourself another cup.

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18-06 Segment 2: The High Health Cost of Sugar

 

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Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, President of Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease explains that generally people believe that obesity is a calorie problem: people eat too much and exercise too little. But, he states that there is something else at play here–the enormous increase in the consumption of dietary sugar across the country.

However, it is hard to place the blame on a lack of self-responsibility. Dr. Lustig explains that evidence shows sugar is addictive and it is capable of exciting the brain in a similar way that other substances of abuse do, too. Dr. Lustig believes there are two reasons sugar has become so prevalent in the human diet: first, sugar became cheaper, and second, the food industry put an emphasis on “low-fat”and “fat-free” diets that encouraged people to eat these foods that are higher in sugar.

The negative effects of sugar are not only seen through the increase in obesity, but also in the rise of diabetes which is increasing at a far quicker pace. Dr. Lustig states that this growth in diabetes is not just affecting those who are obese, it is affecting all people who consume sugar at a high rate. He further explains that diabetes is not about obesity, but that it’s about how our bodies metabolize what enters it and the damages that these bad foods cause in the process. In order to decrease the number of people being affected by diabetes and obesity, sugar consumption must go down.

Guests:

  • Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, President of Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease

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