Medical Notes 19-15

 

Medical Notes this week…

Millions of Americans take a low-dose aspirin every day in hopes of preventing a heart attack or stroke. But now the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association say to stop taking it if you have no history of heart attack or stroke. The new recommendation comes in the wake of a major study showing that a daily aspirin does nothing to prolong life and increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Experts say doctors should limit aspirin to people at high heart risk who also have a low risk of bleeding.

We’ve told you about the stroke risk connected to drinking lots of diet soda among post-menopausal women, now there’s another study showing that soda with sugar is also connected to heart death. The study in the journal Circulation finds that the risk of premature death goes up by 63 percent in women who drink more than two sodas per day and 29 percent among men. Sugary sodas increase cancer risk by 18 percent.

Nobody likes to get caught in traffic caused by road repairs but a new study in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation finds that preventive road maintenance saves a lot of money, time, and pollution. Researchers say performing maintenance when a road is in its early failure stage ends up saving 10 to 30 percent in cost and saves drivers two to five percent in fuel consumption, tire wear, and vehicle repairs. Keeping roads in good shape also cuts greenhouse gases by as much as two percent.

And finally, you have to be nuts to maintain your brain function as you age or, more correctly, you have to eat nuts. A study in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging shows that eating at least two teaspoons of nuts each day can boost brain function by 60 percent, equivalent to putting off two years of brain aging.

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Medical Notes 19-14

 

Medical Notes this week…

The average American eats three or four eggs a week, and that’s enough to raise your risk for heart attack and death by six to eight percent. Cholesterol is the reason according to a large new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It shows that each additional 300 milligrams of cholesterol in your daily diet raises the risk of both heart disease and premature death by about 17 percent. One large egg has about 185 milligrams of cholesterol. However, since eggs have lots of other nutrients, researchers say not to cut them out of the diet, just eat them in moderation.

Common heartburn medications are being linked to kidney failure and chronic kidney disease. The medications are called proton pump inhibitors and are sold under brand names like Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix. A study in the journal Pharmacotherapy finds that PPIs increase the risk of chronic kidney disease by as much as 20 percent and quadruple the risk of kidney failure. People over 65 are at highest risk.

And finally, a large new study shows that your Apple watch might be able to detect an irregular heartbeat. The study presented to the American College of Cardiology shows that the watch can flag apparently healthy people who may have atrial fibrillation. Doctors say about a third of the people the watch indicated were in danger actually did have AFib when they later received EKG monitoring. Researchers admit using the watch of an AFib diagnosis is far from perfect.

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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.

Guests:

  • 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 19-04


Medical Notes this week…

A drinkable cocktail of designer molecules is showing promise in stopping the development of dementia. A study in the journal Cell Reports finds that a cocktail based on an old antibiotic can keep amyloid beta peptides from binding to prion proteins—one of the first steps in Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers say the cocktail has also repaired synapses in the brains of rats… restoring memories. Scientists will now start testing the cocktail for toxicity.

If you’re using sugar substitutes as part of a weight loss resolution, a new study says “don’t bother.” In fact, the study in the journal BMJ finds there’s no compelling evidence that sugar substitutes help regulate any important health variable. Blood sugar levels and the risk of heart disease or cancer did not benefit from the use of saccharin, aspartame, or other artificial sweeteners. People who used plain old sugar ended up pretty much in the same place health-wise.

And finally… shaming people for what they do isn’t right… even though new research suggests that it can get people who engage in dangerous activities to quit. A study in the Journal of Consumer Affairs shows that smokers are more likely to quit if they’re told that their peers disapprove of smoking. However, experts warn that shaming people leads others to think that the bad effects of a bad habit are all their fault… and they deserve what they get.

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Medical Notes 18-50


Medical Notes this week…

Millions of people take low dose aspirin in hopes of warding off a heart attack. Millions more take omega-3 fish oil supplements in part for the same reason. But a pair of studies in the Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine show that if you’re healthy and haven’t had a heart attack already… neither one will do you much good. In both studies, heart events were virtually the same as for people taking a placebo. And those taking aspirin had nearly twice the stomach bleeding… and a lot more indigestion.

People who’ve suffered a terrible loss often suffer worse health afterward. Now scientists have tracked one reason. A study at Rice University shows that people suffering from severe grief experience as much as 53 percent higher levels of inflammation throughout the body compared to normal people, and that outward signs of depression are no guide to the inflammation going on inside. Researchers say inflammation contributes to almost every disease in older people… especially heart attack and stroke.

And finally… some people consider attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder to be a disability. But a study in The Journal of Creative Behavior finds that in some fields, like marketing, product design, and technology, having ADHD is an asset to employment. Researchers find that people with ADHD resist conformity and ignore typical information. In short, they much more easily think outside the box.

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