Philip S. Chua M.D (23)

Health@Heart

Red meat and cancer

We have discussed this red meat-cancer link in this column a few years back, but recent studies have sparked new interest on this medical controversy, and confirmed fundamental findings which might be of interest to you. After all, everyone wants to be as healthy as possible and live as long as our telomeres would maximally allow.

What are telomeres?

Telomeres are the protective caps at each end of our DNA. They shorten with age and could also be affected by good or bad lifestyle. Avoiding bad habits and bad diet (living a healthy lifestyle) will slower its shortening, therefore, maximizing life span.There are now on the market DNA tests that will track cellular age (telo-years) based on telomere length, for $129 per test.

But why test for the amount of “poison” in our system and spend that amount for a test when the better way is to stop taking in known “poisons” and simply live a healthy lifestyle thru exercise, diet, abstinence from tobacco, moderation in alcohol intake, and stress management with RRR (regular rest and relaxation).

As far as diet is concerned, red meat is on the spotlight again.

What’s with red meat?

Red meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, mutton, goat, and other mammalian muscles), fresh or processed, are both suspected to increase the risk for cancer and other major illnesses. The processed ones are deemed worse. Some of the processed red meats are sausages, bacon, ham, patties, hamburgers, bologna, corned beef, salami, pepperoni, pastrami, most deli-meats, and canned meats.

How much red meat is consumed in the USA?

In the United States last year, it is estimated that one person consumed about 106.6 pounds of red meat. Over the years, the consumption of red meat has gone down from 145.8 pounds per individual in 1970 to almost 40 pounds less today. The past ten years alone saw the red meat eaten has gone down about 10 pounds per person. The lowest on record was in 2014, at just 101.7 per person. Indeed, red meat intake has dramatically fallen the past four decades because of widespread news of colorectal cancer and other forms of malignant tumors, and their link to consumption of red meat.

Why are so many eating less red meat?

Besides being more expensive than white meat and plant-based food items, the damaged reputation of red meat as being unhealthy for us and its link to increased cancer risk, and the warning being on the internet and all social media today, people around the world are becoming more educated and health conscious. Their desire to live healthier and longer is encouraging them to stay away from red meat and instead eat fish, legumes (the various types of beans and garbanzos) and/or chicken as sources of protein. For breakfast, many have switched to the old fashioned oat meal and some fruits, instead of high carb foods (like rice, bread, pancakes, waffles, soft drinks (liquid candy), etc.) and processed foods which are also high in saturated fat (bacon, sausage, ham.)

Is read meat really that bad?

The World Health organization in October 2015 highligted in a report that “when it comes to red meat intake, cancer is perhaps the most well-established health implication.” It concluded that red meat is "probably carcinogenic to humans," meaning that there is some evidence that it can increase the risk of cancer, a cancer-causing agent. It has been found that those who eat a lot of vegetables, legumes, fish daily (instead of red meats) are healthier and less prone to cancer. The Cancer Council recommends no more than 455 g of red meat a week, if any at all. Many abstain from red meat and opt for fish, vegetables, legumes, which are protective against many forms of cancer, like colorectal, stomach, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers

What are processed meats?

The World Health Organization defined processed meat as "meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation," and as such is "carcinogenic to humans." There is sufficient evidence today that processed meat intake increases cancer risk.

What in red meat is cancer-causing?

Studies have shown that two groups of toxic agents (cancer-causing), Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclice aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when muscle meat (beef, pork, poultry and fish) is cooked at high temperature, like pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame. HCAs and PAHs are known to damage DNA and suspected to increase the risk for cancer formation. The World Health Organization says ”that each 50-gram portion of processed meat - which primarily includes pork or beef - consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.” The burned (charcoal black) portions of fried or grilled meats are toxic.

How did WHO come to that conclusion?

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed more than 800 independent studies analyzing the effects of red meat and processed meats on the different types of cancers. The evidence uncovered reveled that those who ate red meat had increased risk for colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. There are ongoing studies about the role of HCAs and PAHs in human cancer risk.

Why the shift to plant-based foods?

There are approximately 8 million adults in the United States who are vegetarians or vegans for animal welfare, the 2016 Harris Polls reported. But there are millions more who are switching from red meat to plant-based diet because it is healthful. A position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in December 2016 suggested that “a plant-based diet can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by 62 percent, as well as reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.” Actually, what entice people is not only the health benefits of consuming plant-based foods but the significant link of eating red meat and cancer.

What are the options?

As we grow older, health becomes more significant and a priority. The adage “Health is Wealth” is most valid and true. Just ask those millionaires or billionaires who are going blind from a disease with no cure, or who are dying from cancer, or losing their mind from Alzheimer’s. They would give up their material wealth in an instant just to regain their health.

We have options. Since we do not know if our genes (DNA) can tolerate and survive regular red meat consumption without developing cancer and major cardiovascular illnesses, it behooves us to enjoy a diet of fish, vegetables, legumes, and nuts daily and stay away from, or significantly reduce, our red meat intake, in view of the scientific evidence before us. Or, we can continue our red meat diet and accept the consequences of killer diseases and of premature death. Like anything in life, it is a matter of choice.

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Kidney stones? drink lemonade, not pop !

Nothing to date can dissolve kidney stones, in spite of various marketed herbal substances or “natural and home” remedy potion or pills which claim to be able to do so. Don’t be fooled by false advertisements which are only after your hard-earned money.

If you are prone to develop kidney stones, drink lemonade. It cannot dissolve kidney stone crystals, but it can slow down the development of stones. It is a delicious way to control your stone formation.

"When treating patients in our kidney stone center, we put everyone on lemonade therapy," says Steven Y. Nakada, chair and professor of urology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.at a previous annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Atlanta.

Potassium citrate is usually prescribed for patients with kidney stones. Citrate is a kidney-stone preventing substance, and lemonade (lemon juice) is full of citrate. The pill is more potent but the citrate in lemonade has been found to also slow down kidney stone formation. An alternative to “another pill” to take.

Liquid biopsy?

The term biopsy conventionally means cutting a piece of solid tissue for microscopic analysis to make a diagnosis. Liquid “biopsy” is a new promising procedure for detecting early-stage cancers by blood test, which replaces cutting a “solid tumor,” hence termed “liquid biopsy.” The article about this future much less invasive way of finding cancer at its early stage, edited by William E. Chavey, MD, MS, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine.

The report says “the technique allows assessment of sequence changes in circulating cell-free DNA. Researchers used the method to look for alterations in nearly 60 cancer-related genes in blood samples from 44 healthy individuals and 200 patients with colorectal, breast, lung, or ovarian cancer. None of the healthy patients showed genetic changes related to solid cancers, while the test detected genetic alterations in 60%–70% of those with stage I or II cancer. The researchers say the approach could "in principle" be implemented for cancer screening, pending validation studies. Early detection and intervention are likely to be the most effective means for reducing morbidity and mortality of human cancer. When it is validated and accepted as a standard diagnostic procedure, “Liquid Biopsy” could save hundreds of millions around the globe.

Your teeth, sleep, and diabetes

Most people do not know or realize that poor dental health and impaired sleep increase our risk for diabetes T2 and, in turn, this metabolic disease adversely affects our teeth and sleep. It is a vicious cycle of cause and effect highlighted by the American Dental Association.

The ADA “two-way-street” clarification: “Blood sugars fueling the acidity that leads to tooth and root decay and gum disease, and dental disease that leads to infection and boosts blood glucose when the body’s immune system responds. The 2017 publication recognizes the close association of dental disease and diabetes, even though ADA acknowledges that causes and effects aren’t yet universally understood.”

Also, dental/oral infection, and infection (inflammation) in any other parts of the body increase our risks for cardiovascular diseases and cancer too.

This is why dental hygiene and regular visit to the dentist is paramount.

Sleep and diabetes

Impairment in sleep raises our risk for metabolic disease, like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular illnesses, like heart attack, stroke, and even cancer. Yes, lack of restful sleep leads to increased proneness to all these major ailments, including deadly cancers. Indeed, sleep is that important to our health and well-being.

More and more, physicians today are far more vigilant about Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as a most common cause of impairment of sleep and its association and role to the development of (and as a worsening factor) for the major illnesses listed above. For emphasis, I wish to highlight cancer is on that list.

About 3-7 percent (roughly about 10 to 16 million) of the US population have sleep apnea, more among men. There are countless undiagnosed OSA cases. Almost 25 percent of individuals with diabetes T2 also have OSA,

Then, there is Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), affecting about 60 percent of the adult and elderly population, where the person does not stop breathing but breathes shallower and gets about 30 percent less airflow for 10 seconds. In OSA, there is frequent (could be hundred times a night) breath holding, severely reduced oxygen level, and the person wakes up gasping for breath. Some do not even wake up at all, suffering anoxia and heart attack or fatal heart-rhythm problem. The constant reduction in oxygen due to OSA every night also leads to fatigue, sleepiness during the daytime, lack of concentration, poorer decision-making, and inferior performance. Depriving the body oxygen and rest also increase the risk for those major diseases mentioned above, including cancer.

Among diabetics, SDB, OSA, and all stresses, impair the metabolism of our body in general and, among those with diabetes, the body’s ability to allow the medications to work fully.

Metformin, the most popular drug for diabetes T2, which acts to reduce the glucose production in the liver and reduce the cell insulin resistance, acts less than 100 percent when the patient has an untreated sleep disorder, most frequently sleep apnea. This makes the treatment less optimal. And the same thing is true among those patients with high blood pressure or other major ailments on treatment. A good restful sleep every day is essential for all of us.

After a Sleep Study has confirmed the diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the best treatment is the use of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) whenever going to sleep. CPAP has saved and improved countless lives.

SEATCA Statement: Secret operations of tobacco

Secret operations of tobacco companies to undermine global health governance

Bangkok, 14 July 2017: New explosive investigative reports by Reuters and The Guardian have exposed how transnational tobacco companies, particularly Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT), are running secret campaigns to block or undermine the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and governmental negotiations at the FCTC Conference of Parties (COP).

The investigations reveal multiple tobacco industry offensives across at least 14 countries in Africa, America, and Asia, including Vietnam, and how they subvert the treaty on multiple levels. The COP was targeted because it is a venue where government delegates gather to decide on important FCTC and tobacco control decisions. The industry also lobbies and infiltrates government delegations, and challenges government by filing cases at the country level, where treaty decisions are implemented. For example, PMI targeted Vietnam at the sixth and seventh sessions of the COP in 2014 and 2016, corroborating civil society observations of how Vietnam’s COP statements frequently mirrored PMI’s positions on tobacco control regulations.

Besides undermining the COP sessions, PMI also targets tobacco control NGOs, including SEATCA, of which PMI says, “We’re still building ASEAN-wide counterweights to SEATCA, the major ATO [anti-tobacco organization] in Asia.”

​SEATCA's Executive Director Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee reacted positively, "PMI's identification of SEATCA as 'the major anti-tobacco organization in Asia' and its work to counter our activities show SEATCA is effectively protecting public health in our advocacy for strong tobacco control policies," she said.​

PMI also complained of “attacks on our fiscal arguments and allies”, citing SEATCA’s critique of the PMI-funded report on illicit tobacco trade by the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) and Oxford Economics.

“These investigative exposés clearly show that transnational tobacco companies have not changed despite their recent rhetoric about less harmful products and a smoke-free future. They will continue to interfere with government efforts and stringent tobacco control legislations and attack civil society groups that protect public health,” added Ritthiphakdee.

The best antidote for tobacco industry tactics such as those revealed in the investigations, is to implement FCTC Article 5.3 that protects governments and public health policies from tobacco industry interference.

Tobacco use kills about 500,000 people per year in the ASEAN region. Tobacco use in ASEAN not only impoverishes the users but also burdens national economies with more than USD10 billion in healthcare costs annually due to tobacco-related illnesses and premature deaths.

Contact:

Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Manager – SEATCA

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Mobile: +63 999 881 2117 ##

Related links:

Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the anti-smoking treaty – http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/pmi-who-fctc/ Threats, bullying, lawsuits: tobacco industry's dirty war for the African market - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/12/big-tobacco-dirty-war-africa-market

About SEATCA

SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance working to promote health and save lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General's Special Recognition Award in 2014.

Metformin: anti-cancer

Long-term use of metformin has been associated with increased homocysteine levels[65] and malabsorption of vitamin B12.[66][67] Higher doses and prolonged use are associated with increased incidence of vitamin B12 deficiency,[68] and some researchers recommend screening or prevention strategies.[69]

Lactic acidosis[edit]

The most serious potential adverse effect of biguanide use is metformin-associated lactic acidosis (MALA). Though the incidence for MALA about nine per 100,000 person-years,[70] this is not different from the background incidence of lactic acidosis in the general population. A systematic review concluded no data exists to definitively link metformin to lactic acidosis.[71] Lactic acidosis can be fatal.

Phenformin, another biguanide, was withdrawn from the market because of an increased risk of lactic acidosis (rate of 40-64 per 100,000 patient-years).[70] However, metformin is safer than phenformin, and the risk of developing lactic acidosis is not increased except for known high-risk groups.[71]

Lactate uptake by the liver is diminished with metformin administration because lactate is a substrate for hepatic gluconeogenesis, a process that metformin inhibits. In healthy individuals, this slight excess is cleared by other mechanisms (including uptake by unimpaired kidneys), and no significant elevation in blood levels of lactate occurs.[28] Given impaired kidney function, clearance of metformin and lactate is reduced, increasing levels of both, and possibly causing lactic acid buildup. Because metformin decreases liver uptake of lactate, any condition that may precipitate lactic acidosis is a contraindication. Common causes include alcoholism (due to depletion of NAD+ stores), heart failure and respiratory disease (due to inadequate tissue oxygenation); the most common cause is kidney disease.[72]

Metformin has been suggested to increase production of lactate in the large intestine, which could potentially contribute to lactic acidosis in those with risk factors.[73] However, the clinical significance of this is unknown, and the risk of metformin-associated lactic acidosis is most commonly attributed to decreased hepatic uptake rather than increased intestinal production.[28][72][74]

Lactic acidosis is initially treated with sodium bicarbonate, although high doses are not recommended, as this may increase intracellular acidosis.[75] Acidosis that does not respond to administration of sodium bicarbonate may require further management with standard hemodialysis or continuous venovenous hemofiltration.

Overdose[edit]

A review of metformin overdoses reported to poison control centers over a five-year period found serious adverse events were rare, though the elderly appeared to be at greater risk.[76] A similar study in which cases were reported to Texas poison control centers between 2000 and 2006 found ingested doses of more than 5,000 mg were more likely to involve serious medical outcomes in adults.[77] Survival following intentional overdoses with up to 63,000 mg (63 g) of metformin have been reported.[78] Fatalities following overdose are rare.[75][79][80] In healthy children, unintentional doses of less than 1,700 mg are unlikely to cause significant toxic effects.[81]

The most common symptoms following overdose include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tachycardia, drowsiness, and, rarely, hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.[77][80]

Amazing anti-cancer compound derived from the French Lilac: Galega officianalis (metformin)

Aug 29, 2011 Brian D. Lawenda, M.D.

Metformin is a medication derived from the herb Galega officinalis (French lilac, also known as Goat’s Rue or Italian Fitch) and has been used as a traditional botanical (tea infusion) for over 3,000 years to relieve polyuria (frequent urination) and halitosis (sweet odor on the breath), both are now well known symptoms of diabetes. Approved for the treatment of hyperglycemia in Britain since the late 1950’s, Canada in the 1970’s and U.S. in 1995, metformin is the most widely prescribed diabetes drugs (over 120 million prescriptions filled yearly worldwide).

Although the mechanism of action of metformin in diabetes is only partially understood, metformin treatment reduces levels of both blood glucose and insulin. The primary mechanism of action in diabetes is on the liver through reduced production of glucose. (ref)

Scientists have recognized for years that certain cancers (i.e. breast, prostate, colon, endometrial, pancreatic, lung, etc.) thrive in the presence of elevated blood sugar and insulin levels, eventually leading to higher rates of tumor development, progression and metastases. By keeping blood sugar levels low (either by diet or medications), cancer development and progression is impaired. (I have written more extensively about the role of sugar and insulin in cancer development and progression on the IOE website.)

Anti-cancer effects of metformin:

Over the last decade, numerous studies have discovered that metformin (compared with other glucose-lowering therapies) appears to have powerful anti-cancer effects that extend far beyond simply lowering blood sugar and insulin: (ref)

activation of AMP-kinase (AMPK):suppression of human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2) AMPK inhibits glucose production in the liver (indirectly reducing insulin and insulin-like growth factor, IGF-1, levels)AMPK increases insulin sensitivity (reducing blood sugar levels) by increasing glucose uptake in muscleAMPK activation blocks gene expression of cancer promoting proteins, leading to inhibition of tumor cell growth (induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis)AMPK inhibits the genetic signaling of the molecular complex, mTOR (mTOR activation is implicated in cancer development and chemotherapy resistance)

selective killing of cancer stem cells (often chemotherapy resistant cells)aromatase inhibition (decreasing estrogen production in the body)increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy (higher pathologic complete response) and radiation therapy (radiation sensitization)significantly decreases body mass index (via effects of maintaining lower blood sugar levels and appetite suppression); obesity increases systemic inflammation, estrogen levels, free radicals (all of which can stimulate cancer growth and progression)lower blood sugar levels maintain lower insulin secretion (insulin and its’ associated hormone, IGF-1, are tumor growth factors)

Metformin & breast cancer:

56% reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer among those taking metformin versus not taking metformin (ref)24% of diabetics breast cancer patients taking chemotherapy with metformin had a complete remission versus 8% who were not taking metformin (ref)

Metformin & colon cancer:

42% reduction in precancerous tissue changes among those individuals taking metformin for 1-month versus no change among matched controls not on metformin (ref)

Metformin & lung cancer:

24-45% improved progression free survival and 35% improved overall survival among type-2 diabetics treated with chemotherapy and metformin for non-small cell lung cancer versus those who were treated with chemotherapy without metformin (ref)

Metformin & prostate cancer:

44% reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer among those taking metformin versus those not taking metformin (ref)

Metformin & pancreatic cancer:

62% reduction in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer among those taking metformin versus those not taking metformin (ref)

Ongoing clinical trials of metformin and cancer:

Currently, a number of clinical trials examining the use of metformin as a cancer therapy are underway including studies in prostate, breast, endometrial and pancreatic cancer patients. Increasingly, published data support the anti-cancer effects of metformin not only in diabetics but also among those without diabetes. Therefore, many of these clinical trials are enrolling cancer patients with or without diabetes. One of the largest studies was recently initiated by the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC MA.32) examining the effect of metformin versus placebo in over 3,500 non-diabetic women with early stage breast cancer. These clinical trials will be integral to the development and effective use of metformin as an anticancer therapy.

Metformin dosage and contraindications:

The typical metformin dosages are 250-850 mg taken 2-3 times each day (before meals).

Read more about the contraindications for metformin here.

Bottomline:

Metformin is a promising anti-cancer therapy with multiple mechanisms of action that extend beyond its classical role as an anti-diabetes agent. As one of the most widely prescribed, well-studied, safe and inexpensive (generics have been available for years) medications on the market, metformin stands a good chance of becoming one of the standard adjuvant therapeutic agents in our war against cancer development, progression and recurrent

Metformin is used with a proper diet and exercise program and possibly with other medications to control high blood sugar. It is used in patients with type 2 diabetes. Controlling high blood sugar helps prevent kidney damage, blindness, nerve problems, loss of limbs, and sexual function problems. Proper control of diabetes may also lessen your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Metformin work, s by helping to restore your body's proper response to the insulin you naturally produce. It also decreases the amount of sugar that your liver makes and that your stomach/intestines absorb.

HealthDay Reporter

Latest Thyroid News

Flame Retardants Tied to Thyroid Cancer RiskHigh Thyroid Hormone Levels Tied to Stiff ArteriesCheck Your Neck for Thyroid AbnormalitiesCan You Blame Your Headaches on Your Thyroid?Restrictive Diets May Cause Thyroid TroublesWant More News? Sign Up for MedicineNet Newsletters!

WEDNESDAY, May 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- When your thyroid isn't working properly, it can cause a lot of problems. It's important to understand what your thyroid does and to be aware of signs that can signal a health issue.

The thyroid is a small gland located near the base of your neck. Its primary job is to produce the hormones that control many bodily functions, including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats.

If your thyroid produces too many hormones, your metabolism quickens. This problem, called hyperthyroidism, can cause symptoms like anxiety and irritability, weight loss and a rapid heart beat. You may have muscle weakness or trembling in your hands or fingers.

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones. You might feel tired or sluggish and even depressed. You might experience weight gain, muscle weakness and possibly constipation.

In either case, symptoms can develop slowly, sometimes over years. At first, you may not even notice or know you have a problem. And when symptoms do start, it's easy to mistake them for other health problems.

So if you're just not feeling like yourself, talk to your doctor. It could be your thyroid. A simple blood test might be all you need to know for sure. And the right treatment could be as simple as taking a daily pill when you wake up in the morning.

Truth aboutMiddle-aged and older folks with elevated levels of a thyroid hormone may face a higher risk of developing hardened blood vessels, a new Dutch study suggests.

Hardened blood vessels (atherosclerosis) develop when plaque builds up on blood vessel walls. This condition is a risk factor for heart disease.

"Coronary heart disease and stroke remain a leading cause of mortality worldwide, despite advances in prevention and treatment," study author Dr. Arjola Bano said in a news release from The Endocrine Society.

Therefore, identifying additional modifiable risk factors for hardened blood vessels is important, he said.

"These findings suggest that thyroid hormone measurement can help identify individuals at risk for atherosclerosis, and may have future implications for the prevention of atherosclerotic morbidity and mortality," Bano said. He's a doctoral candidate at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.

To explore the issue, the researchers spent an average of eight years tracking about 9,800 Dutch men and women. The participants were about 65 years old, on average.

During the study, nearly 600 participants were determined to have died due to plaque build-up in the blood vessels. Roughly 1,100 experienced some kind of a problematic event related to hardened blood vessels.

The research team concluded that those who had higher levels of what's called "free thyroxine," or FT4, faced a higher risk for plaque build-up and heart disease complications.

Bano and his team presented their findings Saturday at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Orlando, Fla. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

THURSDAY, Jan. 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Regular self-exams play an important role in early detection of thyroid disease, a specialist says.

That's a timely reminder because January is Thyroid Awareness Month.

"The number of cases of thyroid cancer is rising, and while in most cases the outcomes of treatment are favorable, some patients present with disease that has progressed and may be more difficult to treat," said Dr. Ilya Likhterov. He is an ear, nose and throat doctor in New York City.

About 200 million people worldwide have thyroid disease. Of more than 20 million Americans with thyroid disease, only four out of 10 know they have it, according to the American Thyroid Association.

"While in most patients thyroid cancer develops without signs or symptoms, patients who have had significant exposure to radiation or who have first-degree family members with a history of thyroid cancer need to be especially cautious, since they are at a higher risk," Likhterov added.

All patients must pay attention to sudden voice changes or masses in the neck, said Likhterov, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

If undetected and untreated, thyroid disease can cause depression, constant exhaustion, joint pain, muscle aches, weight gain and hair loss, according to a Mount Sinai news release.

To perform a thyroid self-exam, use a mirror to view the lower middle area of your neck, above the collarbones, and below the larynx. This is where the thyroid is located.

While focusing on this area, tip your head back, take a drink of water and swallow. As you swallow, watch for any bulges or protrusions, Likhterov said.

It's important not to confuse the Adam's apple with the thyroid, which is located farther down on your neck, closer to the collarbone.

If you detect any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your physician, Likhterov said. You may have an enlarged thyroid or a thyroid nodule. A doctor can determine if cancer is present or if you require treatment for thyroid disease.

-- Robert Preidt

People with migraines and other headache disorders have a greater risk of a thyroid disease known as hypothyroidism, a new study suggests.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the body doesn't produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone. This can cause mood swings, weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, constipation and irregular menstrual cycles, according to researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

The study included more than 8,400 people. The volunteers were followed for 20 years as part of a medical monitoring project.

People with pre-existing headache disorders -- such as cluster or tension headaches -- had a 21 percent higher risk of hypothyroidism, the investigators found. And people with a possible migraine disorder had a 41 percent greater risk.

The findings suggest that people with migraines are particularly susceptible to hypothyroidism. However, the study doesn't prove that one condition causes the other.

Migraine affects about 12 percent of Americans. Hypothyroidism affects about 2 percent. The conditions are rarely life-threatening. But these conditions can cause decreased quality of life if patients don't get adequate treatment, the study authors noted.

What might link headaches to hypothyroidism isn't clear, the researchers pointed out.

"It is possible that the development of hypothyroidism in a headache patient might further increase the frequency of headache, as past studies have found that treatment of hypothyroidism reduces the frequency of headache," study co-author Dr. Vincent Martin, a professor of medicine, said in a school news release.

"Regardless, physicians should be more vigilant in testing for hypothyroidism in persons with headache disorders," concluded Martin. He's also co-director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute.

The thyroid is a gland at the base of the neck that is part of the endocrine system. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many of the body's activities, including heart rate and how fast you burn calories.

The study was published online Sept. 27 in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.

-- Robert Preidt

TUESDAY, May 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Two cases of children who developed iodine deficiency highlight the risks of putting too many restrictions on young kids' diets, researchers say.

The doctors said that the children -- aged 2 and 5 -- developed iodine deficiency because their diets lacked salt, dairy products, bread and other sources of the mineral.

Iodine deficiency is common in developing countries, but was virtually eliminated in the United States after iodized salt was introduced almost a century ago.

However, it can still happen if a child's diet is strictly limited, said study author Dr. Brigid Gregg. She is a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

"Parents should be aware that if they're really restricting the foods their children eat, iodine deficiency is a possibility," Gregg said.

The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones, which help control metabolism and other essential functions. Lacking iodine, the thyroid gland can become underactive -- what's known as hypothyroidism.

In infants and young children, that can result in stunted growth and even brain damage, Gregg pointed out.

Still, she said, when a young child is not growing well, hypothyroidism is "not the first thing that jumps to mind." And when hypothyroidism is suspected, doctors would not immediately think iodine deficiency is at the root of the problem, she added.

"We don't typically think of it in this country, because we've considered the problem 'solved' in the U.S.," Gregg said.

One of the children her team treated was 5 years old and had been diagnosed with autism. His parents were keeping him on a gluten-free, casein-free diet -- which meant he wasn't getting the dairy products and grains that are major iodine sources in the typical American diet.

His parents brought him to the pediatrician because he was suffering from fatigue and chronic constipation, which are two symptoms of hypothyroidism. The doctor discovered the boy had a goiter, or an enlarged thyroid gland.

From there, the boy was tested for autoimmune thyroid disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the gland. But there was no evidence that his immune system had turned against him.

Instead, it turned out to be iodine deficiency.

The second case involved a 2-year-old boy with stunted growth and a limited diet -- both because he refused many foods, and because of his parents' restrictions. They'd replaced cow's milk with coconut milk, avoided processed foods and used sea salt instead of table salt.

Those were well-intended moves, Gregg said. The problem was, the child's diet had no good iodine sources.

Neither sea salt nor coconut milk contain the mineral, said Marina Chaparro, a clinical dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"I'd recommend using iodized salt," said Chaparro, who was not involved in the study. "That's probably the easiest way to make sure your child is getting enough iodine."

And it doesn't take a lot, she noted: A half teaspoon of iodized salt each day would be enough for a child.

Milk, yogurt and commercially made breads are probably the most child-friendly food sources of iodine, according to Chaparro. But fish and seaweed also contain it, she said.

To Chaparro, the two cases highlight a broader issue: Children with restricted diets could be at risk of various nutritional deficiencies if parents aren't well-informed.

"Children aren't small adults, and we need to be mindful about placing our own dietary restrictions on them," Chaparro said.

She suggested that when parents do eliminate certain foods -- such as meat or dairy or gluten-containing grains -- they talk to their pediatrician or a dietitian about how to best replace those foods.

Chaparro also cautioned parents against getting caught up in diet trends. "Never put a child on a fad diet," she said.

The findings were published online May 10 in the journal Pediatrics.

coconut water

Coconut water (buko juice) is a popular drink in Asia and South America. The top ten countries on the list of world-leading coconut producers according to volume are: Indonesia, Philippines, India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. The Philippines export more than $1 billion worth of coconuts to the United States alone.

What actually is coconut water?

Coconut water is the clear liquid inside coconuts which, in early development, “serves as a suspension for the endosperm of the coconut during its nuclear phase” of growth. The endosperm matures into “cellular phase and deposits into the rink of the coconut meat.” The coconut water and the soft meat of young coconut is a delicacy, popular among locals and tourists in those tropical countries and others where coconuts thrive. They are sold fresh on the street by vendors with machetes who cut a hole at the top for drinking, with or without a straw. They are also available bottled, soft-packed, and canned, usually consumed chilled.

What are the other coconut products?

Besides its water and meat, other coconuts products include copra, coconut oil and coconut cream for cooking and for cosmetics, palm sugar, flower syrup, butter, desiccated coconut, powdered sugar, jelly, milk-cream, kefir (probiotic), flour, vinegar, nata de coco fruit jelly, etc.

Can it reverse Alzheimer’s?

The popular claim that coconut oil products can reverse Alzheimer’s disease is baseless and unfounded. There is no scientific evidence to this effect. The same is true with the other medicinal claims for other illnesses. As a matter of fact, there is a controversy that coconut oil and products can be detrimental to the consumer’s blood cholesterol/lipids levels and cardiovascular health, if consumed regularly, except for the virgin coconut oil. Fresh uncontaminated coconut water is deemed acceptable and safe. Scientifically, the use of coconut oil for hair and skin as conditioner-moisturizer has been proven to be of good cosmetic value.

What are the nutritional values of coconut water?

Coconut water is 95 percent water and 100 ml provides only 19 calories, 4 percent carbohydrates, under 1 percent protein and fat. It does not contain any vitamin or dietary minerals of any significant amount.

While this has been marketed as “natural energy drink or sport drink,” claiming it has significant electrolyte content, this is not true. The potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium in unprocessed coconut water per 100 ml are insignificant and not balanced. The health benefit claims, that it is antiviral, that it lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar, are false, and the US Food and Drug Administration has warned producers against misleading marketing.

Various firms have faced class action lawsuits over false advertisements that coconut water was “super-hydrating,” nutrient-packed,” and “mega-electrolyte” source. The suit was settled with a US$10 Million award in April 2012.

Was coconut water used as IV fluids?

During World War II, coconut water was used as intravenous fluids for rehydration when medical fluids was not available during emergencies. It is actually not similar in composition as our plasma. Intravenous coconut water is not accepted as within safe standard of care today and must not be performed at all as it would be malpractice. Drinking it is the safer way to take coconut water.

Is excessive consumption safe?

No, drinking a large amount of coconut water is unsafe. As a matter of fact, coconut water is used in southern districts of Tamil Nadu, India, for senicide of the elderly, a traditional accepted practice performed by family members called thalaikoothal, an involuntary euthanasia for those incapacitated and seriously ill, where “the elderly is made to drink an excessive amount of coconut water, eventually resulting in fever and death.”

Are you at risk for a stroke?

FRIDAY, May 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Every 40 seconds someone in America has a stroke.

But fast action and quick treatment can save lives and reduce disability.

"Stroke statistics are alarming. It's the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious adult disabilities," said Dr. Randolph Marshall, chief of the stroke division at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

"The most effective method in saving a stroke victim's life is to diagnose and treat immediately after a stroke occurs," said Dr. Matthew Fink, neurologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Both hospitals are in New York City.

"Strokes kill nearly 133,000 people a year. The good news is that approximately 80 percent of strokes can be prevented," Marshall said in a NewYork-Presbyterian news release.

As part of Stroke Awareness Month, the two experts offered stroke prevention tips.

Certain lifestyle changes greatly reduce the risk of stroke.

High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke. Cutting your salt intake is one of the best ways to achieve a healthy blood pressure. Instead of salt, use a variety of spices to flavor your food.

Eating a heart-healthy diet can prevent high cholesterol and maintain a healthy balance between good and bad cholesterol. This will reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Don't smoke. Smokers have twice the risk of stroke because smoking damages blood vessels, raises blood pressure and speeds up the clogging of arteries.

Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke

FRIDAY, May 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Reports of new hepatitis C infections in the United States nearly tripled over five years, reaching a 15-year high, federal government data show.

The highest number of new infections were reported among 20- to 29-year-olds. Many stemmed from the growing use of injected drugs linked to the current opioid epidemic, officials said.

The number of reported cases rose from 850 in 2010 to 2,436 in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But nearly half of people who have the liver infection don't know it, so most new cases are never reported. The CDC estimated there were actually about 34,000 new hepatitis C infections nationwide in 2015.

"We must reach the hardest-hit communities with a range of prevention and treatment services that can diagnose people with hepatitis C and link them to treatment. This wide range of services can also prevent the misuse of prescription drugs and ultimately stop drug use -- which can also prevent others from getting hepatitis C in the first place," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin in a CDC news release.

He is director of the agency's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

The virus can be spread by sharing drugs and needles, the stick of a contaminated needle, and through sex. A child can also catch it if born to an infected mother.

More Americans die from hepatitis C than any other infectious disease reported to the CDC. Nearly 20,000 Americans died from hepatitis C-related causes in 2015, and most were age 55 and older, according to the new report.

Three-quarters of the 3.5 million Americans infected with hepatitis C are baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965. They are six times more likely to be infected than people in other age groups and have a much higher risk of death from the virus, the CDC said.

Recent CDC studies also show that hepatitis C infections are rising among women of childbearing age, putting a new generation at risk.

New medicines can cure hepatitis C in as little as two to three months, but many people who need treatment can't get it, according to the CDC.

"Stopping hepatitis C will eliminate an enormous disease and economic burden for all Americans," said Dr. John Ward, director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis.

"We have a cure for this disease and the tools to prevent new infections. Now we need a substantial, focused and concerted national effort to implement the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan and make effective prevention tools and curative treatment available to Americans in need," Ward said.

The federal action plan sets goals for improving prevention, care and treatment of viral hepatitis and eliminating new infections.

Drug Expiration Dates — Do They Mean Anything?

Reaching for imodium (loperamide) in your medicine cabinet for your bothersome diarrhea caused by what you had for dinner, you find that your savior medication expired five months ago. It’s past ten in the evening. What do you do?

It you took the “expired” medication anyway, chances are you would get the relief you expected, for the reason we shall discuss below.

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL HEALTH PUBLICATION

Updated: September 2, 2015 FDA

Published: November, 2003

With a splitting headache, you reach into your medicine cabinet for some aspirin only to find the stamped expiration date on the medicine bottle is more than a year out of date. So, does medicine expire? Do you take it or don't you? If you decide to take the aspirin, will it be a fatal mistake or will you simply continue to suffer from the headache?

This is a dilemma many people face in some way or another. A column published in Psychopharmacology Today offers some advice.

It turns out that the expiration date on a drug does stand for something, but probably not what you think it does. Since a law was passed in 1979, drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

So the expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use. Medical authorities state if expired medicine is safe to take, even those that expired years ago. A rare exception to this may be tetracycline, but the report on this is controversial among researchers. It's true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency still remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, hormones, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years.

Is the expiration date a marketing ploy by drug manufacturers, to keep you restocking your medicine cabinet and their pockets regularly? You can look at it that way. Or you can also look at it this way: The expiration dates are very conservative to ensure you get everything you paid for. And, really, if a drug manufacturer had to do expiration-date testing for longer periods it would slow their ability to bring you new and improved formulations.

The next time you face the drug expiration date dilemma, consider what you've learned here. If the expiration date passed a few years ago and it's important that your drug is absolutely 100% effective, you might want to consider buying a new bottle. And if you have any questions about the safety or effectiveness of any drug, ask your pharmacist. He or she is a great resource when it comes to getting more information about your medications.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

http://www.medicinenet.com/ibs_pictures_slideshow_understanding_ibs/article.htm?ecd=mnl_spc_042617

Fibromyalgia

http://www.rxlist.com/fibromyalgia_slideshow_learn_about_fibromyalgia/article.htm?ecd=mnl_spc_042817

WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Parents worry -- often rightly so -- about how much time their kids are spending in front of screens.

Now, new research suggests that when children at risk of mental health problems spend a lot of time on smartphones or other digital technology, they're more at risk of attention and disruptive behavior issues.

But the news isn't all bad. The researchers also saw a positive benefit from screen time. When kids sent more text messages on any given day, they seemed less anxious and depressed.

"These findings suggest that for already at-risk teens, high usage may amplify existing problems," said study co-author Candice Odgers.

But, Odgers added, "we cannot say that technology use is causing these problems."

She is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy in Durham, N.C.

Electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets have become so pervasive that a 2015 study found that most babies used them before they reach the age of 2 years.

Other research suggests that social media sites such as Facebook have distinct benefits for kids, including opportunities for education and connection. But there are also potential risks such as cyberbullying.

Odgers and her colleagues recently reviewed the findings of previous studies. And they found "much more evidence for positive associations between teen technology use and their social relationships than would be expected amid the widespread fears about the rising use among adolescents," she said.

However, Odgers said, "we still know very little about whether adolescents' constant connectivity or patterns of usage have effects on their mental health, relationships and development."

For the new study, the researchers gave smartphones to 151 children between 11 and 15 years old. The kids lived in poor U.S. neighborhoods and were considered at risk for mental health problems. About 60 percent of the participants were white.

The smartphones beeped three times a day for a month, alerting the participants to briefly answer questions about how they were feeling.

The kids also answered questions about how much they were using digital technology each day.

MONDAY, May 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Taking certain types of antibiotics during pregnancy may boost the risk of miscarriage, a large study suggests.

Macrolides, quinolones, tetracyclines, sulfonamides and metronidazole were associated with an increased risk of "spontaneous abortion," meaning loss of pregnancy before the 20th week of gestation.

The study doesn't prove cause and effect. But, it does tie use of certain medicines to a higher risk of miscarriage -- up to double the risk for some classes of antibiotics, the researchers said.

"Some seem to be safer when it comes to the risk of spontaneous abortion, and some aren't," said study author Anick Bérard, a professor at the University of Montreal's Faculty of Pharmacy.

However, the new evidence does not suggest that pregnant women should stop taking antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.

"It [miscarriage] is still a rare outcome," Bérard added.

The reason some antibiotics appear to be riskier than others may be related to how each drug works in the body, Bérard said.

Tetracycline, for one, is not recommended in pregnancy because it permanently discolors fetuses' teeth and may affect fetal bone growth, she said.

There's also animal data showing that quinolone affects DNA, Bérard said.

On the other hand, nitrofurantoin appears to be a safer option. It was not associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and may be a good alternative for treating urinary tract infections, the study authors noted.

Bérard said urinary tract infections are the most common type of infection in pregnancy.

Penicillin also seemed to be a good choice, added Dr. Errol Norwitz, who was not involved in the study.

While the association between antibiotics and adverse pregnancy outcomes isn't new, evidence related to spontaneous abortion hasn't been as robust, explained Norwitz, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

"I think the consensus is that there probably isn't an association, but this study suggests that maybe there is," he said.

"Overall, it [the study] was quite well done," Norwitz added.

To tease out the effects of antibiotics, Bérard and her team at the University of Montreal matched 8,700 cases of spontaneous abortion with more than 87,000 controls by gestational age and year of pregnancy.

The researchers used data from women ages 15 to 45 who were covered by Quebec's drug insurance plan.

Roughly 16 percent of the women who had miscarriages were exposed to antibiotics during early pregnancy, compared to less than 13 percent of the controls.

Norwitz was surprised that so many women received antibiotics before 20 weeks gestation. "I didn't think it would be that high," he said.

Azithromycin and clarithromycin, which belong to the macrolide class of antibiotics, were linked to a 65 percent and twofold increased risk of miscarriage, respectively.

Norfloxacin, a type of quinolone, was associated with more than a fourfold increased risk, the study showed.

The study's biggest deficiency, in Norwitz's view, is that it did not address underlying genetic problems, which he said account for the vast majority of miscarriages.

There is no way to know for sure who had a prenatal diagnosis that could have explained the spontaneous abortion, Bérard conceded.

The researchers also couldn't rule out that the severity of women's infections may have influenced the results. But they don't think such differences fully explain their findings.

So what's a woman to do if she's pregnant and has a bacterial infection?

The best approach is to aim for the "lowest effective dose" using the most appropriate antibiotic, Norwitz said.

The study appears in the May 1 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Anick Bérard, Ph.D., professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Montreal, Canada; Errol Norwitz, M.D., Ph.D., chairman, obstetrics and gynecology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston; May 1, 2017, Canadian Medical Association Journal

THURSDAY, April 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- When a woman chooses to stop smoking during her pregnancy, the potential effects to her baby are probably on her mind.

But a new British study hints that smoking in pregnancy could even affect the health of a woman's grandchildren -- specifically, their risk for autism.

"We already know that protecting a baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things a woman can do to give her child a healthy start in life," said study co-author Jean Golding of the University of Bristol. "Now we've found that not smoking during pregnancy could also give their future grandchildren a better start, too."

The study can't prove cause-and-effect, but one U.S. autism expert who reviewed the findings said the researchers' conclusion is not farfetched.

While the finding is new, "the mechanism by which it might be occurring has been a focus of study for half a decade," noted Alycia Halladay. She's chief science officer for the Autism Science Foundation.

Halladay believes that when a woman smokes in her pregnancy, this could affect the developing eggs of a female fetus in the womb. And that, in turn, might affect the odds that her daughter's children are at higher autism risk, she suggested.

In the new study, researchers analyzed data from more than 14,500 children born in the United Kingdom during the 1990s.

The study found that people with a maternal grandmother who smoked during her pregnancy had a 53 percent increased risk of developing autism.

The findings also showed that girls whose maternal grandmother smoked during pregnancy were 67 percent more likely to have autism-linked traits -- symptoms such as poor social communication skills and repetitive behaviors.

The researchers agreed with Halladay: Exposure to cigarette smoke while in the womb could affect a female's developing eggs, causing changes that may eventually affect the development of her own children.

Still, the study authors stressed that further investigation is needed to determine what those molecular changes might be, and to find out if the same associations occur in other groups of people.

Another U.S. autism expert said the findings were intriguing.

"There are innumerable reasons why people should not smoke," said Dr. Andrew Adesman. "This study provides more reason: women who smoke during pregnancy put their granddaughters at increased risk of an autism spectrum disorder."

But "the overall increase in risk related to smoking is somewhat modest," added Adesman. He is chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"Although a woman's exposure to cigarette smoke prenatally appears to be linked decades later to autism spectrum disorder in her own offspring, women who smoke or who were themselves exposed to cigarette smoke prenatally should take some comfort in knowing that their risk of having a child with an autism spectrum disorder is still very low," Adesman said.

For her part, Halladay said it's typically been tough for scientists to assess how behaviors affect multiple generations of offspring, and so most of the research in this area "has been done in animal models."

But the U.K. database used in the new study "has the data to assess grandparental exposures," she believes.

Because the database the researchers drew on was so detailed, the researchers said they were able to rule out possible other factors that might account for the link.

Autism spectrum disorder affects about one in 68 children in the United States, with boys affected far more often than girls.

The study was published April 27 in the journal Scientific Reports.

-- Robert Preidt

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WEDNESDAY, April 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A new study hints that young blood may harbor clues to a "fountain of youth" for older brains.

Researchers say blood from human umbilical cords appears to have helped reverse memory loss in aging mice.

The findings suggest that something in young blood is important in maintaining mental acuity.

No one, however, is saying that cord blood could be a magic bullet against Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

For one, any effects seen in elderly rodents may fail to translate to humans.

Instead, the findings might set the stage for new drugs that target the dementia process, said study lead author Joseph Castellano. He's an instructor in neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

"Part of what makes this exciting is that it suggests there's more communication between the blood and brain than we've thought," Castellano said.

The study builds on earlier work by the same Stanford team. There, the researchers found that old lab mice benefited from infusions of plasma (the liquid portion of blood) from young mice.

Specifically, the old mice showed improvements in learning and memory. This was measured by the ability to accomplish tasks like navigating a maze or building a nest.

The aim of the new study, Castellano said, was to see whether injections of human plasma given to mice could have similar effects.

It turned out that they did -- at least when the plasma came from umbilical cords. Plasma from young adults had less of an impact. And plasma from older adults, ages 61 to 82, had no benefit at all.

That led to a critical question: What is it about umbilical cord blood that's special?

The researchers found evidence that it might be a protein called TIMP2. It is present in high levels in cord plasma, they said, but declines with age.

What's more, injections of TIMP2 benefited older rodents' brains in the same way that cord plasma did.

Castellano said it was "surprising" that a single protein had such effects.

But, he noted, TIMP2 could be "upstream" of many biological processes. It belongs to a family of proteins that regulate other critical proteins. Those proteins, in turn, have the task of "chopping up" yet more proteins that exist in the matrix surrounding body cells.

But researchers know little about how TIMP2 acts on the brain, Castellano said.

"Now, we really need to get a better understanding of what it's doing in the brain," he said. "We are not saying we've found the protein that's responsible for brain aging."

Dr. Marc Gordon is a professor at the Litwin-Zucker Center for Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.

He agreed that the study identifies a protein "target" that should be studied further.

"But this is not saying that cord blood is a cure for aging," Gordon stressed.

And it's probably unrealistic to use cord blood as a dementia treatment, said Castellano.

Nor can anyone predict whether TIMP2 will point researchers toward new drugs for dementia. Findings in lab animals often fail to pan out in humans.

Plus, Gordon said, this study involved mice that were old, but did not have an "animal model" of Alzheimer's. That refers to lab mice that are genetically modified to have Alzheimer's-like brain pathology.

"What this could mean for human disease is purely speculative," Gordon said.

Drugs for age-related brain disease have so far been "elusive," Castellano said. The available medications for dementia symptoms have limited effects, and cannot stop the disease from progressing.

"We're excited," Castellano added, "about this knowledge that there are proteins present in the blood that evolve over the life span, and may affect brain function."

The findings were published April 19 in Nature.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Joseph Castellano, Ph.D., instructor, neurology and neurological sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.; Marc L. Gordon, M.D., professor, Litwin-Zucker Center for Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, N.Y., and chief, neurology, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, N.Y.; April 19, 2017, Nature, online

SAN FRANCISCO — A new study found that non-obese Filipino Americans aged 5 and over have a mch hig\her revalence of diabetes

than non-Hispanic white Americans (7.6 percent vs. 4.3 percent).

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto, University of Victoria and University at Albany, SUNY.

“Even after taking into account many of the risk factors of diabetes such as age, sex, fruit and vegetable consumption, exercise, smoking, poverty status, non-obese Filipino Americans had almost three times the odds of diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites,” stated co-author Adity Roy a recent graduate of the University of Toronto.

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The study could not explain why Filipino Americans are at such higher risk of diabetes, reported lead author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Institute for Life Course and Aging.

“In future research we hope to investigate ethnic variations in central obesity, dietary patterns (particularly white rice consumption), insufficient sleep, low birth weight, and hypertension, among other risk factors for diabetes that may disproportionately disadvantage the Filipino population in North America,” Fuller-Thomson said.

The study examined a representative sample of community-dwelling Californians aged 50 and over from combined waves of the 2007, 2009 and 2011 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The study sample was restricted to Filipino Americans (1,629) and non-Hispanic whites (72, 072) who were non-obese, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of less than 30.

“We were interested in what factors are associated with diabetes among older, non-obese Filipinos. We found considerable variation by sex. For Filipino men, older age, living in poverty, and cigarette smoking, were associated with increased odds for diabetes. For Filipina women, age was the only significant predictor for increased rates of diabetes,” said co-author Karen Kobayashi, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, at the University of Victoria.

The number of Filipinos in North America has increased dramatically in recent years. There are now approximately 3.9 million Filipino Americans in the USA and one in every 50 Canadians is of Filipino descent.

“We found that 70 percent of Filipino Americans with diabetes are not obese. This highlights the urgent need to screen non-obese Filipino Americans for diabetes and to target them for prevention efforts, because preventive approaches with lifestyle intervention have been shown to be effective in preventing and/or postponing the onset of diabetes in other high-risk non-obese populations,” stated co-author Keith Tsz-Kit Chan, Assistant Professor, School of Social Welfare, University at Albany, SUNY.

Read more: http://usa.inquirer.net/3171/diabetes-much-higher-among-non-obese-fil-ams-non-hispanic-whites#ixzz4fItwyy6i
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Hep C

Q:Nothing can relieve the symptoms of morning sickness. True or False?

A:False. Actually, morning sickness is a misnomer because it can occur at any time of the day and it is not a sickness. Nausea and vomiting are normal characteristics of early pregnancy. In some cases, nausea and vomiting can be controlled. Nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy can be affected by the amount of food eaten and what time it is eaten. Avoiding greasy, fried, or spicy food might help pregnant women manage their nausea. Pregnant women may also try to eat smaller meals, frequent meals, and bland foods like toast and crackers.

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Q:Occasionally, small amounts of alcohol are fine for pregnant women. True or False?

A:False. There is no safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink during her pregnancy. Drinking anything that contains any amount of alcohol can cause problems for babies. When a fetus is exposed to alcohol, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can result, potentially causing problems in later life. The exact amount of alcohol that leads to problems in pregnancy is not known, so pregnant women are advised to abstain from alcohol completely.

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Q:Fetal alcohol syndrome describes birth defects caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. True or False?

A:True. The term fetal alcohol syndrome describes the sum total of the damage done to the child before birth as a result of the mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) always involves brain damage, impaired growth, and head and face abnormalities. The brain damage can lead to problems with mental capacity, learning, and other functions.

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Q:Preconception health should be addressed five years before a planned pregnancy. True or False?

A:False. Talking to a doctor at least three months before pregnancy can improve the chances or getting pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy, and having a healthy baby. Women who are trying to get pregnant may benefit from talking to a doctor about how her health conditions and risk factors could affect a baby's health. Doctors can also discuss what to do to improve the health of the mother before pregnancy. Bear in mind, some women need more than three months to get their bodies ready for pregnancy.

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Q:Exercise is dangerous for pregnant women and should be avoided during pregnancy. True or False?

A:False. It is not dangerous to exercise or to be physically active during pregnancy. In fact, doctors recommend it for most pregnant women. Women who exercised before pregnancy should continue to do so. Women who wish to become active during pregnancy may feel free to do so and should start slowly. If you are pregnant and would like to start exercising, check with your health care professional before beginning an exercise program.

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Q:Physical activity during pregnancy can lessen the discomforts associated with pregnancy. True or False?

A:True. Physical activity and regular exercise during pregnancy can improve common discomforts such as backache and fatigue, and can increase the likelihood of early recovery after delivery. In general, most kinds of aerobic, resistance, and flexibility exercises like yoga are safe during pregnancy.

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Q:High blood pressure caused by pregnancy is called preeclampsia. True or False?

A:True. Preeclampsia or gestational hypertension, refers to high blood pressure (hypertension) caused by pregnancy. Many pregnant women with high blood pressure have healthy babies without serious problems.

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Q:If you are pregnant and traveling by air, the seat over the wing of a plane will provide the smoothest ride. True or False?

A:True. Domestic travel is usually permitted for a woman who is pregnant until she is in week 36 of gestation, and international travel may be permitted until weeks 32-35, depending on the airline. Keep in mind: An aisle seat at the bulkhead will provide the most space and comfort, but a seat over the wing in the midplane region will give the smoothest ride. A pregnant woman should be advised to walk every half hour during a smooth flight and flex and extend her ankles frequently to prevent phlebitis. Dehydration can lead to decreased placental blood flow and hemoconcentration, increasing risk of thrombosis. Thus, pregnant women should drink plenty of fluids during flights.

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Q:Folic acid is a very important vitamin to take during pregnancy. True or False?

A:True. Pregnant women need 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day. All women who are sexually active and able to become pregnant need this amount of folic acid every day. The best way to ensure that you are getting the necessary amount of folic acid is by taking prenatal vitamins.

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Q:Folic acid helps in the development and formation of a baby's brain and spine. True or False?

A:True. Folic acid, a member of the family of B vitamins, aids in the development and formation of a baby's brain and spine, and can prevent serious types of birth defects. Research studies indicate that insufficient intake of folic acid in the mother's diet is a key factor in causing spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

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Q:Since a pregnant woman is eating for two, she needs an additional 1,000 calories per day. True or False?

A:False. During pregnancy, the body needs more nutrients to provide for the baby to grow properly and be healthy. A pregnant woman is eating for two, but this does not mean that she must ingest excessive calories, or double her caloric intake. Most pregnant women only need to consume 300 extra calories per day!

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Q:All women should aim to gain 25-30 pounds during pregnancy. True or False?

A:False. The amount of weight a woman should gain during pregnancy depends on her body mass index (BMI) before she became pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) provides these guidelines: Women at a healthy weight before pregnancy should gain about 25 to 30 pounds. Women who were underweight before pregnancy should gain between 28 and 40 pounds. Women who were overweight before pregnancy should gain between 15 and 25 pounds. Women should gain weight throughout the pregnancy. Most of the weight should be gained in the last trimesters. Generally, doctors suggest that women gain weight at a rate of 2-4 pounds total during the first trimester, and 3-4 pounds per month during the second and third trimesters.

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Q:Not including the baby, pregnancy weight gained is all fat. True or False?

A:False. For an average pregnancy, only about 7 pounds accounts for added pregnancy weight. So, where does the added weight go? Pregnancy weight is added because of the baby, the placenta, amniotic fluid, uterus growth, breast growth, blood and body fluids and, protein and fat. The typical gain in weight can be broken down as follows: baby: 6 to 8 pounds; placenta: 1½ pounds; amniotic fluid: 2 pounds; uterus growth: 2 pounds; breast growth: 2 pounds; mom's blood and body fluids: 8 pounds; mom's protein and fat: 7 pounds.

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Q:Sex during pregnancy can harm a growing baby. True or False?

A:False. There is no reason to change or alter a sex life during pregnancy unless a doctor advises otherwise. Intercourse or orgasm during pregnancy will not harm the baby, unless there is a medical problem. An unborn baby is well protected in the uterus by the amniotic fluid that surrounds him or her.

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Q:It is impossible to prevent stretch marks from occurring during pregnancy. True or False?

A:False. According to George Kroumpouzos, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at South Shore Medical Center in Norwell, Massachusetts, more than 90% of pregnant women will develop stretch marks in response to the pulling and stretching of underlying skin during pregnancy. Dr. Kroumpouzos adds, "Exercise and use of lotions or creams with alpha-hydroxy acids can be used to prevent stretch marks from occurring."

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Diet, cellphone, etc.

“Eating whole grains instead of bakery products, rice, and pasta lowers high cholesterol, lowers high blood pressure, reduces body weight…and lowers insulin level,” says an article from the Framingham Study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study points our that elevated insulin levels constrict arteries to cause chest pains or even heart attacks. High levels of insulin also stimulate the hypothalamus in the brain to make you hungry, and stimulate the liver to manufacture fat and make you fat. And the opposite is true: everything that lowers insulin levels helps you lose weight, lowers high blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, and prevents heart attacks, diabetes and strokes.

Eating rice or foods made with flour leads to a rapid rise in blood sugar level, which is not healthy, and is one of the reasons why there is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, especially in the Philippines. Whole grains, and other more complex carbohydrates, according to our current knowledge “are like capsules that release their contents very slowly. It takes about an hour to cook whole grains because of this tight capsule, and your body still has a difficult time breaking the capsule, so they are very slow to digest. Whole grains help prevent diabetes and obesity because they keep insulin levels lower.

The culprit
Most of us, including physicians, used to think (till recently) that people who were overweight or fat were “eating too much.” To a significant extent, that may well be true. But the recent discovery of a “Fat Gene,” tells us that not all fat people are eating their way to obesity. Some people are simply “destined” to be overweight.
Researchers stated that “overweight people are predisposed to gaining weight in much the same way that kids born to brunette parents are likely to have, gasp!, brown hair.”
All the studies have confirmed that many individuals genetically programmed to have weight problems have a chromosomal abnormality, which “deprives them of normal amounts of dopamine, the feel-good drug released by the brain in response to stress.”
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.6 billion adults worldwide are overweight and about half a billion are obese. And this problem is associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and even cancer.
As always, this kind of discovery often leads to a prompt search for a remedy, if not a cure. And scientific “diagnosis” like this one is a welcome find, one that will open a lot of doors for research that will someday arm us with “weapons” to battle and prevent diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

Hormones Curb Cravings
New research suggests that “appetite-regulating hormones and peptides may be involved in the neurobiology of alcohol craving, and has confirmed that appetite-regulating peptides leptin (satiety hormone, reduces appetite) and ghrelin (hunger hormone, increases appetite) do indeed influence alcohol craving, but especially among certain subtypes of alcoholics.” Craving is a significant factor to the development and maintenance of alcoholism.
These new findings are essential in finding a drug that could prevent addiction among those who are more prone to it. Many shun even social drinking, especially among Asians, for fear that frequent parties might lead to a craving for alcohol. And for those who now crave for alcoholic drinks, this discovery could spell a big difference towards the prevention of alcoholism in the future.
For obese persons where diet alone and exercise are not enough to control their weight, gastric bypass is an option. One of the common procedures cuts out the right half (and “tip”) of the stomach that produces ghrelin, reducing stomach size (to make the individual feel full sooner) and at the same time reducing ghrelin.
Electromagnetic risks

At what dose of repeated radiation exposure from medical imaging diagnostic devices, natural or artificial sunbathing, microwave oven, cell phone signals, radiofrequency (radio-TV) signals, extremely low frequency power lines (said to be associated with childhood leukemia) can cause various forms of illnesses, including cancer, is still controversial. But we cannot simply ignore the warnings. In this current situation, the wise and prudent strategy is to minimize exposure to any of these electromagnetic forces as much as we can as we take advantage of the benefits provided by these advances in science and technology. Let’s just be more conscious and careful.

Cellphone warnings

Electrical Hypersensitivity Syndrome is truly a medical condition, characterized by fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, facial rash, digestive symptoms, following “exposure to visual display units, mobile phones, Wi-Fi equipment, and commonplace appliances, affecting about 3% of all people and about 33% of us to a lesser extent.” Cordless phones and mobile phones emit the same amount of radiation…landline phones don’t. Use of speaker phone for cordless and mobile phones, or a hollow (preferred) wired (hands-free) earpiece is safer. Bluetooth wireless headsets are worse emitters. Texting is safer than calling with the handset against your ear. If the cellphone is carried close to the body as most men do, the battery should be facing away from the body since this acts as the antenna, the dial pad facing the body. If not using a hands-free device, switching from one ear to the other every 15 seconds or so is a good practice. As much as possible do not use cellphone in elevators or close spaces, since the weak signal will make the phone maximize its signal strength (and radiation!). Children should NOT use cell-phones except for emergencies, since they are more vulnerable to the effects of radiation.
Exercise Wonders

The amazing wonders of physical exercise are scientifically proven to keep the body and mind healthy, strengthen the immune system, improve cardiovascular fitness and reduces heart attacks by 33%, lessen the risk of the development of type 2 diabetes by 91%, prevent, if not minimize high blood pressure by more than a third --- all these for doing 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. Tai Chi, Tai Bo, dancing at any speed, walking (moderate to brisk), swimming, bicycling, or any aerobic exercise. There is no age limit to doing exercises. My mother did aerobic exercise up to her mid-80s (at a moderated pace) daily 2-mile exercise following the Leslie Sansone’s DVD aerobic exercise program. At 99, though using a walker and some help, she still feels great, remembering the birthdays of my 10 grandchildren, better than I could.

Besides positive attitude and a cheerful countenance, proper diet, abstinence from smoking and moderation in alcohol intake (red wine preferred), exercise is a major key to health and longevity, as it lowers the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses, Alzheirmer’s, and even cancer.

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Facts and trivia

How many cells do we have in our body?

The figures often quoted are between 50 to 75 trillion cells. The average life span of the cells is: red blood cells, 120 days; white blood cells, over a year; platelets, ten days; bone cells, 25-30 years; brain cells, lifetime; colon cells, 3-4 days; skin cells, 19-34 days; stomach cells, 2 days; and sperm cells, 2-3 days. Obviously, these cells regenerate under normal conditions.

What is the force of a human bite?

Tightly clenched teeth can generate a force as much as 55 pounds (25 kilos) on the incisors and 200 pounds (90.5 kilos) on the molars. For the molars, a greater force at 268 pounds (122 kilos) has been recorded.

Which is the largest organ in our body?

The skin is the heaviest and largest organ in the human body. The total surface area is 20 square feet or 1.98 square meters for an average individual and 25 square feet or 2.3 square meters for a larger person, and a weight of about 5.6 pounds or 2.7 kilograms. The liver is the second largest organ (1.1 to 1.5 kilos) and serves about 500 functions as the main chemical factory of the human body.

How long is the human intestine?

Our small intestine is about seven meters (22 feet) long, and the large intestine (colon) is about 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length.

How much blood do we have?

A male weighing about 70 kilos (154 pounds) would have about 5.5 quarts or 5.2 liters of blood. A female of about 50 kilos (110 pounds) would have about 3.5 quarts or 3.3 liters. This blood is circulated through blood vessels that stretch to about 60,000 miles (95,500 kilometers), if placed end to end. The largest artery in the body is the aorta, the largest vein, the vena cava.

How fast does human hair grow?

On the average, human hair grows about nine inches each year. It grows faster in the summer because warm weather increases blood circulation to the hair follicles. The finger nails, on the other hand, grow about 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) every year. The middle finger nail grows the quickest. Fingernails grow four times faster than toenails.

What does the term LASER stand for?

The acronym LASER stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. The applications of laser technology is far reaching and wide: micro matching of components and circuit boards for our computers; fiber-optic communications in long distance telephone networks; bar coding scanners; medical diagnostics and therapeutics; desktop printers, color scanners, etc; military target designators, etc.

Why the dimples in golf balls?

Dimples reduce the drag that will slow down the golf ball as it travels (some up to 300 yards or more) by minimizing the eddies or wake effect that drain the ball’s energy and velocity. This is achieved by the air clinging to the dimpled balls longer.

Can human voice break glass?

Yes, this has been proven in several experiments. The amplified high-pitched singing voice of a soprano or a tenor standing about ten feet from a wine glass cracked the glass in less than half a minute. Without amplification, this could conceivably be done with the glass about two feet away. The sheer force of the vibration from the vocal cords does it.

Will a resected heart beat?

Yes, a human or animal heart cut out of the body will continue to beat on its own, until all the stored energy (glucose and derivative enzymes, etc) in the cardiac muscle cells are used up. This is usually within five to eight minutes. The heart is the only organ in the body that has automaticity and rhythmicity, hence it beats automatically and with rhythm even after resection from the body (as in the preparation for heart transplant).

How does icy temperature cause frostbite?

Prolonged exposure to extremely low temperature, mostly during winter in parts of the world where subzero weather is the rule, causes the capillaries (most distal tiny blood vessels), arterioles and venules (small arteries and veins), and regular sized blood vessels to constrict (go into spasm) and shut off the circulation to the toes, fingers, and ears, depriving these parts of the much-needed blood. Frostbites, and even gangrene, are very common. Holding your finger directly against ice for prolonged period can also cause frostbite.

Do our hands have bacteria?

Yes, as a rule, everybody’s hands and fingers, the entire body, are full of “resident” bacteria 24/7. They do not get infected because the intact skin is a tough protective layer that prevents the bacteria from gaining access into the soft tissues and muscles, etc. underneath the dermal shield. Severe abrasion, contusion or cut will allow the bacteria to invade and infect the inner parts of these structures. Washing the hands daily, before and after eating, after using the bathroom or touching money, or any activity that will add more bacteria to our hands and fingers, would minimize the number of bacteria and ward off infection. And the same is true with our mouth, where a lot of bacteria reside. The intact mucus membrane in the mouth, like the intact skin, protects the deeper structures from getting infected.

Do gloves prevent food poisoning?

Food handlers who use gloves properly, Iike surgeons and nurses in the operating room, will definitely prevent bacterial contamination and food poisoning. However, I have observed gloved food handlers in various restaurants and fast food chains in many countries and invariably they break the “sterile code.” All surfaces, especially in the kitchen, are teeming with bacteria, without exception. The proper way to use gloves is to touch ONLY the cooked food items, and not touch the knife, cookware handles and covers, tables, microwave and oven doors, wash cloths, faucet, sink, and all other surfaces, and not scratch or touch their face or body, which are ALL normally full of bacteria. The use of gloves does not guarantee freedom from bacterial contamination. The false security with their use even makes degree or contamination worse. When opportunity comes up, try and observe gloved food handlers in your area. And the use of mask among them, with the nose sticking out, is also wrong.

When was the first shopping mall built?

In 1896, built at Roland Park, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, is one of the world’s largest, covering 5.2 million square feet (480,000 square meters) on a 121-acres (49 hectares) lot. There are 828 stores and service centers in it, with parking space for 20,000 cars.

How many muscles do we use to smile?

To produce a smile, we use seventeen (17) facial muscles. To frown, we use 40% more muscles, 43. So, let’s exert less effort, use less muscles, and use less energy, by smiling more and having a happier andmore attractive face.

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Facts and Trivia

How many cells do we have in our body?

The figures often quoted are between 50 to 75 trillion cells. The average life span of the cells is: red blood cells, 120 days; white blood cells, over a year; platelets, ten days; bone cells, 25-30 years; brain cells, lifetime; colon cells, 3-4 days; skin cells, 19-34 days; stomach cells, 2 days; and sperm cells, 2-3 days. Obviously, these cells regenerate under normal conditions.

What is the force of a human bite?

Tightly clenched teeth can generate a force as much as 55 pounds (25 kilos) on the incisors and 200 pounds (90.5 kilos) on the molars. For the molars, a greater force at 268 pounds (122 kilos) has been recorded.

Which is the largest organ in our body?

The skin is the heaviest and largest organ in the human body. The total surface area is 20 square feet or 1.98 square meters for an average individual and 25 square feet or 2.3 square meters for a larger person, and a weight of about 5.6 pounds or 2.7 kilograms. The liver is the second largest organ (1.1 to 1.5 kilos) and serves about 500 functions as the main chemical factory of the human body.

How long is the human intestine?

Our small intestine is about seven meters (22 feet) long, and the large intestine (colon) is about 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length.

How much blood do we have?

A male weighing about 70 kilos (154 pounds) would have about 5.5 quarts or 5.2 liters of blood. A female of about 50 kilos (110 pounds) would have about 3.5 quarts or 3.3 liters. This blood is circulated through blood vessels that stretch to about 60,000 miles (95,500 kilometers), if placed end to end. The largest artery in the body is the aorta, the largest vein, the vena cava.

How fast does human hair grow?

On the average, human hair grows about nine inches each year. It grows faster in the summer because warm weather increases blood circulation to the hair follicles. The finger nails, on the other hand, grow about 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) every year. The middle finger nail grows the quickest. Fingernails grow four times faster than toenails.

What does the term LASER stand for?

The acronym LASER stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. The applications of laser technology is far reaching and wide: micro matching of components and circuit boards for our computers; fiber-optic communications in long distance telephone networks; bar coding scanners; medical diagnostics and therapeutics; desktop printers, color scanners, etc; military target designators, etc.

Why the dimples in golf balls?

Dimples reduce the drag that will slow down the golf ball as it travels (some up to 300 yards or more) by minimizing the eddies or wake effect that drain the ball’s energy and velocity. This is achieved by the air clinging to the dimpled balls longer.

Can human voice break glass?

Yes, this has been proven in several experiments. The amplified high-pitched singing voice of a soprano or a tenor standing about ten feet from a wine glass cracked the glass in less than half a minute. Without amplification, this could conceivably be done with the glass about two feet away. The sheer force of the vibration from the vocal cords does it.

Will a resected heart beat?

Yes, a human or animal heart cut out of the body will continue to beat on its own, until all the stored energy (glucose and derivative enzymes, etc) in the cardiac muscle cells are used up. This is usually within five to eight minutes. The heart is the only organ in the body that has automaticity and rhythmicity, hence it beats automatically and with rhythm even after resection from the body (as in the preparation for heart transplant).

How does icy temperature cause frostbite?

Prolonged exposure to extremely low temperature, mostly during winter in parts of the world where subzero weather is the rule, causes the capillaries (most distal tiny blood vessels), arterioles and venules (small arteries and veins), and regular sized blood vessels to constrict (go into spasm) and shut off the circulation to the toes, fingers, and ears, depriving these parts of the much-needed blood. Frostbites, and even gangrene, are very common. Holding your finger directly against ice for prolonged period can also cause frostbite.

Do our hands have bacteria?

Yes, as a rule, everybody’s hands and fingers, the entire body, are full of “resident” bacteria 24/7. They do not get infected because the intact skin is a tough protective layer that prevents the bacteria from gaining access into the soft tissues and muscles, etc. underneath the dermal shield. Severe abrasion, contusion or cut will allow the bacteria to invade and infect the inner parts of these structures. Washing the hands daily, before and after eating, after using the bathroom or touching money, or any activity that will add more bacteria to our hands and fingers, would minimize the number of bacteria and ward off infection. And the same is true with our mouth, where a lot of bacteria reside. The intact mucus membrane in the mouth, like the intact skin, protects the deeper structures from getting infected.

Do gloves prevent food poisoning?

Food handlers who use gloves properly, Iike surgeons and nurses in the operating room, will definitely prevent bacterial contamination and food poisoning. However, I have observed gloved food handlers in various restaurants and fast food chains in many countries and invariably they break the “sterile code.” All surfaces, especially in the kitchen, are teeming with bacteria, without exception. The proper way to use gloves is to touch ONLY the cooked food items, and not touch the knife, cookware handles and covers, tables, microwave and oven doors, wash cloths, faucet, sink, and all other surfaces, and not scratch or touch their face or body, which are ALL normally full of bacteria. The use of gloves does not guarantee freedom from bacterial contamination. The false security with their use even makes degree or contamination worse. When opportunity comes up, try and observe gloved food handlers in your area. And the use of mask among them, with the nose sticking out, is also wrong.

When was the first shopping mall built?

In 1896, built at Roland Park, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, is one of the world’s largest, covering 5.2 million square feet (480,000 square meters) on a 121-acres (49 hectares) lot. There are 828 stores and service centers in it, with parking space for 20,000 cars.

How many muscles do we use to smile?

To produce a smile, we use seventeen (17) facial muscles. To frown, we use 40% more muscles, 43. So, let’s exert less effort, use less muscles, and use less energy, by smiling more and having a happier andmore attractive face.

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Senior Brain Youth

One of the powerful attributes that we admire (or even marvel at) among many elderly, age 80, 90, and older, is the “youthfulness” of their mind. Unfortunately, not every one of them is gifted with senior brain power or brain youth when they reach 70 or older, and some have significant physiological “cerebral handicaps” even before they reach 70.

A generation ago, these senior “disabilities” (forgetfulness, diminished cognitive power, reduced mental “energy” in general) were considered normal and inevitable. Today, with the advancement in medical science and technology, we know that many of these “age-related” changes in the anatomy and physiology of the brain are treatable, and many of them even preventable. Science now believes that even Alzheimer’s could be significantly slowed down, if not prevented.

An article in the New York Times asks “Is there hope for your hippocampus, a new lease for your temporal lobe?” Funny as it might sound, this is serious stuff.

Brain calisthenics is in! All over the United States, brain health programs are now a craze, whose objective is to provide “cognitive fountain of youth.” There are now brain gyms on the web, and brain-healthy foods on the shelves of natural nutrition and herbal stores. There are also mental exercise programs and physical activities for the elderly at home and at assisted living centers. All of these are aimed at preserving a healthier mind by slowing down loss of brain cells and ward off the onset of dementia. We want a sharp cerebrum and an alert, youthful, happy, and playful brain, even at age 101.

"This is going to be one of the hottest topics in the next five years,” said Nancy Ceridwyn, co-director of special projects for the American Society on Aging. "The challenge we have is going to be a lot like the anti-aging industry: how much science is there behind this?"

Let’s take Alzheimer’s for example. It is a dreaded condition among the elderly. a severely devastating disease of the brain that, in an instant, totally robs and erases the person’s memory, a nightmare everyone fears. When it occurs, it happens so fast like transforming a well-lit room into total darkness with a flip of a switch. The entire memory bank is emptied, turning even a great, talented mind and a charismatic communicator, like the late President Ronald Reagan, one of the best presidents the United States has ever had, into a confused, non-verbal, totally dependent and helpless stranger, oblivious of his environment, his loved ones, and even of his own self. If we could slow this process down with a “wonder” drug and brain calisthenics, it would be one of the greatest medical discoveries of our time.

Currently, there are a lot of simultaneous activities and programs all over the United States addressing this issue. Alzheimer’s Association and its “Maintain Your Brain” workshop at Apple Computer and Lockheed Martin; MetLife’s 61-page “Love Your Brain” book; Humana’s $495 brain fitness software and “brain fitness camps,” and many others. On the web, we have HappyNeuron.com and MyBrainTrainer.com “for those who wished you could be a little quicker, a little sharper mentally.”

The post-mortem pathology found among Alzheimer’s patients is the abnormal and extensive build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, which damages the nerve cells and their connections, resulting in memory loss.

The brain exercise we can do daily may include reading, doing cross word puzzle or sudoko (logic), or solving puzzles and riddles for mental agility, watching stimulating shows, like Discovery, National Geographic, Jeopardy, Millionaire, etc. frequent interaction with family and friends, and indulging in philosophical thinking about our environment, nature, universe, etc.

So, while it makes sense to do physical exercises daily and take cholesterol-lowering drug, fish oil, multivitamin and minerals, prescribed by our physician, Gingko Biloba, coffee, tea, and other antioxidants, and abstain from alcohol abuse and tobacco, doing regular mental calisthenics or brain exercises will allow us to maximize the health benefits of those medications listed above. A healthy lifestyle now includes activities geared towards the preservation of our brain power, our cerebral health, our brain youth, even in our senior years.

CGCG From Green Tea

A new study from the University of South Florida (USF) which came out September 2005, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, reported that high doses of an antioxidant ingredient in green tea, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), significantly reduced by 54% the formation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain of laboratory mice that were first genetically induced to develop Alzheimer’s for this particular experiment, and then treated with high doses of EGCG.
This substance is among antioxidants called flavonoids found in plants. Abstinence from red meat and eating a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits are known to protect active people against heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Drinking Green Tea Not Enough
There are a variety of antioxidants in green tea, and some of these have been found to decrease the ability of EGCG to reduce beta-amyloid production. So, drinking green tea alone is definitely not enough to ward off Alzheimer’s. There is obviously a need to selectively concentrate the EGCG antioxidant to override the negative effects of the other flavonoids in green tea.
More extensive studies in the laboratory are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of EGCG, followed by clinical studies in humans, before we get the final word on this issue. But certainly, green tea is a healthier beverage compared to the colas, alcoholic drinks and to the so-called “energy drinks” that are now flooding the market and are potentially dangerous to health, with their irresponsible and baseless claims.
Fatty Acids from Plants Show Promise
A fatty acid in safflower, corn, and sunflower oils may help prevent Alzheimer’s in some people, according to Sara M. Debanne, PhD, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.
“In people who did not have the inherited Alzheimer’s risk factor gene (ApoEe4), eating a diet rich in linoleic acids reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by about 50%. But in those who carried the disease-causing gene, linoleic acids appeared to raise the risk of developing the mind-robbing disease even further”, says the researcher.
A healthy lifestyle that includes physical and brain exercises and stress management are essential to our overall health and well-beong.

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Are PPI pills safe?

Are PPI pills safe?

Gastro-Eophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is very common worldwide. Here are some prevalence estimates: “18.1%-27.8% in North America, 8.8%-25.9% in Europe, 2.5%-7.8% in East Asia, 8.7%-33.1% in the Middle East, 11.6% in Australia and 23.0% in South America. Incidence per 1000 person-years was approximately 5 in the overall UK and US populations, and 0.84 in pediatric patients aged 1-17 years in the UK. Evidence suggests an increase in GERD prevalence since 1995 (p<0.0001), particularly in North America and East Asia.” In the Philippines, GERD had significantly increases in 2000-2003 compared to 1994-1997.

The current standard of care includes the use of Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) medications, which blocks the acid production in the stomach which reduces heartburns and corrosive esophagitis (inflammation and scarring of the lower food pipe at its connection to the stomach. PPI drugs are marketed as esomeprazole, pantoprazole, omeprazole, lansoprzole and reberprazole.

A study published in the British Medical Journal Open suggests that PPI increased general mortality rate. Researchers evaluated data from the US Department of veterans Affairs among new and nonusers of acid suppression treatment. The study did not include non-PPI anti-acid drugs.
Their findings revealed that “during a median 6 years' follow-up, use of PPIs was associated with increased risk for death, relative to use of H2 blockers (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.25). Risk was also increased among patients taking PPIs, compared with those not taking acid suppression therapy, and among those taking PPIs who did not have a gastrointestinal condition that would warrant a PPI prescription.”
There are other preliminary studies, which need further research and large scale confirmation, reported that the long term use of PPI could possibly lead to higher risk of chronic renal disease, dementia, osteoporosis, low magnesium blood level, Clostridium deficile infection, community-acquired pneumonia and shortening of the telomere, suggestive of shorter life span. All these are postulates that require more extensive clinical studies to be accepted a valid. Also, each individual has a unique genetic constitution and will therefore generally react differently.
The researchers have this advice: "Although our results should not deter prescription and use of PPI where medically indicated, they may be used to encourage and promote pharmacovigilance and emphasize the need to exercise judicious use of PPI and limit use and duration of therapy to instances where there is a clear medical indication and where benefit outweighs potential risk."
For any concerns, discuss them with your family physician, who is familiar with your individual health details.
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Chocolate and your heartbeats

Chocolate lovers can rejoice: A 13-year study of 55,000 individuals in Denmark revealed that those who ate chocolates “often tended to have a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that raises stroke risk.” The risk of AF was about 10 percent lower among those who had one to 3 servings of chocolates a month, and 17 percent lower risk for those ate one serving a week and 20 percent lower still among individuals who had 2 to 6 servings a week. The benefit was found to taper off at 16 percent among adults who ate one or more 1-ounce serving of chocolate a day. Although chocolates contain high levels of flavanol, it is not clear why it provides this anti-arrythmic benefit. But the researchers advise moderation as a prudent key.
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Over-the-counter hearing aids
Hearing aids today could cost as much as $6,000 or more. They are so small one could hardly see them and works very well. Obviously, this is too pricey for most of us and many have no choice but to accept the hearing handicap or consider over-the-counter hearing aids, whose quality is mostly doubted.
But there is good news: The Journal of the American Medical Association recent study shows that “some over-the-counter sound amplification devices are nearly as effective as prescription hearing aids.”
The investigators evaluated and “compared five personal sound amplification products on the market with one hearing aid in 40 older adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.”
The findings revealed that “speech understanding improved with the hearing aid and four of the amplification products. For three of the products (Sound World Solution sCS50+, Soundhawk, Etymotic BEAN), the improvement in speech understanding was within 5 percentage points of that of the hearing aid.”
The conclusion of this study “lend support to current national initiatives ... requesting that the US Food and Drug Administration to create a new regulatory classification for hearing devices meeting appropriate specifications to be available over the counter."
* * *
In the past, we have pointed out the alarming association between poor oral hygiene and dental infections and cardiovascular diseases. While this link may sound remote and ridiculous, this relationship is evidence-based, medically proven.
Statistics from 2011 to 2014 show that among 5-19 years of age, untreated dental caries was about 18.6 percent and among adults (20-44) about 31.6 percent. Between ages 18-64, 36 percent had not visited a dentist in 2016.
Unfortunately, dental care is not only for a “mouth or oral” problem. It would be more expensive and life threatening to have heart attack/stroke, etc., than a visit to the dentist every six months.
* * *
Loud music causing deafness?

Yes, and not only music. Prolonged or repeated exposure to any type of very loud noise or sound can cause damage to the auditory nerve damage, which could lead to varying degrees of hearing impairment, and even to permanent deafness. Headset users should set the volume of sound to a safe level. A simple way to do this is to turn the volume down until you can barely hear it, then gradually increasing the loudness (and adjusting the treble and the base if possible) to a comfortable level.

* * *

Does surgery make cancer spread?

No, this is a myth. Doing surgery or “opening the patient up” does not cause metastasis (spread) of the cancer. In general, cancer proliferates rapidly to invade surrounding tissues and distant organs. The misconception resulted from the refusal of patients suspected or confirmed to have cancer to be operated on early when first advised, and had delayed the surgery so much that the malignant tumor had already spread beyond help before acceding to have the operation. So, when the surgeons operated on them that late, invariably the cancer had already spread all over. When the patients soon expired, people blamed the surgery as the cause of the spread. Today, almost everybody knows that prompt detection and early operation in the treatment of cancer gives the best chance for a cure for majority of patients with malignancy.

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Valuable medical pearls for health

Losing weight on a diet that is high in fat is dangerous for overall health. The risk of coronary heart disease has been found to be significantly increased among those individuals who stayed on a high protein red meat diet to lose weight. While these subjects became slimmer, their cholesterol levels were high, leading to a higher rate of heart attacks. The object of dieting is not only to maintain a normal weight but to be healthier all around. Nothing beats abstinence from red meat and eggs (eating only fish, vegetable, fruit, high-fiber is healthier), combined with daily exercise, abstinence from tobacco, and disciplined alcohol intake is the best formula for maintaining good health.

* * *

Persons getting a flu shot to prevent influenza may even experience an added benefit from it. Studies have shown that flu vaccination appears to be associated with a reduced risk of stroke, especially among those who are 60-75 years old.

* * *

Soft drinks, in whatever form, cola or uncola, caffeinated of decaf, diet or regular, are all toxic to our body, especially to children. This beverage harms our DNA in the long run and increases the risk for the development of metabolic syndrome. There is no healthier substitute for fresh, filtered, clean water, which is also less expensive.

* * *

Forget all old worries and past problems, if you want your blood pressure not to shoot up. It is a medical fact that recalling previous sad or morbid events, or emotional trauma, raises the blood pressure during the moment of recollection. If these spikes in blood pressure happen often, they could adversely affect the heart. All of us should let go of these painful experiences of the past and not dwell on them. Life ahead of us is so precious we ought to leave our miserable baggage behind and have a more positive outlook, at the same time protect our heart.

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If you love tuna, which is a good fish, it is better to eat canned light tuna and not the giant albacore because its mercury content is much lower than fresh or frozen tuna. Short-lived and younger tuna is used for canning. Giant fish in general have higher mercury content.

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You do not really have to run or jog for health. Brisk walking can lower the incidence of heart disease by 18%, as effectively as any of those more vigorous exercises, minus the injuries attendant to them. Minimal impact exercises are better for our joints.

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Oil of oregano: an “antibiotic”? It seems so, to a certain extent, anyway. It has been found that oil of oregano, which is used in salad dressing and for cooking, reduces harmful food pathogens. This oil has been found to inhibit E. Coli and Listeria monocytogenes.

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Mustard is a popular condiment, used in a variety ways, especially with hotdogs. The compound that imparts yellow color in mustard is curcumin, component of tumeric spice, and curcumin has been found to slow down the progression of cancer. All spices are potent antioxidant that lower the risk for cancer development.

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Vegetables of all colors and types reduce cancer risk and boost the immune system. Also a cancer inhibitor is raspberry, actually ALL berries, because of their content, ellagic acid, a cancer-inhibitor. Make sur to wash vegetables, berries, and other fresh food items before consuming them to cleanse them of any contamination, bacteria, fungal, or chemicals.

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Which cooking oil is the best for us? Here is a list of the most commonly found ones on the grocery shelves, including the calories (Cal), fat contents in grams (F), saturated fat in grams (SF), cholesterol (Ch), per tablespoonful: Canola Cal-121, F-13.6, SF-1; Coconut Cal-118, F-13.6, SF-11.8; Corn Cal-121, F-13.6, SF-1.7; Olive Cal-119, F-13.5, SF-1.8; Peanut Cal-119, F- 13.5, SF- 2.3; Soybean 121, F- 13.6, SF-2.0; Palm Cal-121, F-13.6, SF-6.7. All of these have zero cholesterol and sodium. Virgin olive oil and canola have the lowest saturated fat content, and coconut, the highest. One coconut has about 1349 calories and 127.7 grams of fat, 113 saturated fats and 76 mg of sodium. Eating a lot of coconut oil or food items made of, or with, coconut, is not really healthy. Our choice for cooking oil is, of course, virgin olive oil, canola, second.
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One can of beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine or one shot of whiskey reduced the incidence of heart attack, according to the American Cancer Society. The same benefit was found with ingesting 2, 3, or 6 drinks. But at one drink the cancer rate and over-all death rate was lower. At two drinks, the prevalence of cancer and death rate are the same as among non-drinkers, and both total death and heart death are lower. At 3 drinks, the cancer death rate is higher. At four drinks, total death and cancer death are both higher.

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Homocysteine is a substance within our body that is implicated in the development of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the artery), leading to blockages in the carotid (causing stroke) and coronary arteries (causing heart attack), including the aorta in the chest and abdomen (causing aneurysm/ rupture and bleeding), and arteries in the legs (causing gangrene). The Framingham studies showed that the more elevated the level of homocysteine in the patient, the higher the finding of blockages in carotid and coronary arteries. Those with low folate (folic acid) to metabolize the harmful homocysteine have 3 times higher risk of developing heart attack. Folic acid in B complex vitamin is prescribed to these patients. This substance is found in green leafy vegetables, like spinach, lettuce, chard, whole grains, yeast, peanuts, wheat germ and dry beans.

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Is genetic a more important factor than diet in the development of coronary heart disease/heart attack? Familial hyperlipidemia (super high serum cholesterol due to a genetic defect) is seen in one in 500 persons. Except for this type of individuals, and all “unhealthy habits” (smoking, inadequate, or lack of, daily exercise) remaining equal, diet is a very significant factor in the causation of coronary heart disease. It has been shown that even if the parents had coronary heart disease, the children did not necessarily develop the disease, if these offspring lived a healthier lifestyle than their elders. Keeping the cholesterol level low by minimizing red meat and eggs intake, and concentrating on fish, vegetables, fruits, hi-fiber diet, coupled with abstinence from cigarettes, minimal alcohol use, doing daily exercises, properly treating high blood pressure and or diabetes, if present, is the best strategy to ward off coronary heart disease/heart attack and stroke. The caveat: simply because we cannot choose our parents, does not mean we are trapped in this genetic dilemma, and, therefore, are hopeless. Far from it. If we are disciplined enough to live a healthier lifestyle than our parents did, we can outsmart those particular defective genes they gave us.

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Silent heart attack

Many patients with coronary heart disease have no chest pains or other symptoms indicative of ischemia (diminished blood flow and oxygen to the coronary arteries that supply the muscles of the heart). As such, this silent (asymptomatic) type of ischemia is treacherous and increases the risk of sudden and unexpected death and other cardiac events. Symptoms, in any illness, are the body’s defense alert system, a good warning sign that allows the affected individual time to do something pre-emptive to protect itself and prevent serious complications, like in seeking prompt medical help. Silent ischemia could strike an individual surreptitiously, causing heart attack or even cardiac arrest. These are the sudden deaths we all hear about every now and then, where the victims do not even know or realize the dangerous situation they are in.

The Mechanism

The muscles of the heart require oxygen and nutrition to function properly. These vital ingredients are in the blood which is supplied to these structures by the coronary arteries. If the blood supply is diminished because the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries that reduces the luminal diameter of these arteries), the muscles are deprived of vital oxygen and nutrition. As a result, theoretically, angina pectoris (heart pains) ensues. But a significant number of heart patients, even with their coronary arteries narrowed, some of them blocked severely, somehow do not develop chest pains. These are the asymptomatic or silent ischemia patients who could be a walking time bomb.

Why “Silent”?

When there is myocardial ischemia, it is logically expected that the individual will have chest pains, much like lack of blood to the leg will cause “Charlie Horse”-type pains, medically termed claudication (pain and spasm of leg muscles) and even gangrene. The explanation for silent ischemia of the heart muscles (asymptomatic patients) is not fully understood. Some of the theories include: the patient may have a high threshold for pains; the size of the affected muscles in the heart may be small; there may be some collateral circulation to the ischemic area; the ischemia may be of short duration; some persons may have self-denial; the person may have a defective “warning system,” related to some past brain injury, past heart attack (known or unknown), diabetes, past heart bypass or transplantation.

Etiology

The etiology or cause of narrowing of the arteries is multi-factorial. While heredity plays a role in the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis, lifestyle appears to be the major culprit. This includes a high-cholesterol, high-fat, high-carbohydrate, low-fiber diet of red meat, eggs, dairy products, bread, potato, rice, pasta, cakes, and sweets, instead of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. The other important factors are smoking, the lack of daily regimented physical exercises, excess body mass index (weight), and poor stress management. Alcohol abuse, inadequate treatment of existing or undiagnosed hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes mellitus are aggravating conditions that hasten the build-up of cholesterol plaques in the inner walls of the arteries that lead to blockages and resultant ischemia.

The Minimum Test

Obviously, the early detection of myocardial ischemia, especially among those asymptomatic (silent) cases, is essential. This can prevent sudden cardiac death. Since many of these persons have no indication whatsoever about the state of their coronary arteries and they all may be feeling “100% healthy,” the only prudent strategy is to do prophylactic (preventive) investigation. Based on medical statistics, the minimum test recommended is a stress electrocardiogram (Stress EKG) for those with chest pains or other symptoms suspicious of coronary heart disease. Those with a strong family history of coronary heart disease or heart attack and/or hypercholesterolemia and diabetes, regardless of age, should also have Stress EKG every 2 to 5 years, depending on the severity of their hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. For those with none of these illnesses and with no familial history of coronary heart disease, Stress EKG is nonetheless advisable when they are 45 and older, especially for those who smoke, and a mandatory test for pilots and some giant corporate executives. There are other more sophisticated tests available.

The Supreme Court of Heart Tests

To arrive at the final confirmatory diagnosis, a cardiac cath is performed. This is the “court of last resort,” the “supreme court” of heart tests, that will tell us, once and for all, with 100% accuracy, if there are stenoses (blockages) in the coronary arteries or not, how powerful or weak the ventricular contraction is, the integrity of the heart muscles, in segments and as a whole, and if there are any other cardiac abnormalities present, like heart valve disease, etc. If there are coronary artery stenoses present, this angiogram, which is recorded in a video film(movie of the heart in action), will also show which arteries are blocked, how many percent obstruction there is (are) and the exact location of the blockage(s). The findings will also help the cardiologist and the cardiac surgeon make a final decision if heart surgery is needed or not, and if it is, what procedure to do, which arteries to bypass, blocked arteries) will be, the percentage of risk of the surgery, and the prognosis.

Clinical Highlights

Various investigative studies have been done to address this particular issue on silent ischemia, its diagnosis and treatment. To of these trials are the ACIP (Asymptomatic Cardiac Ischemia Pilot) and the ASIST (Atenolol Silent Ischemia Study). The findings are as follows: (1) Silent cardiac ischemia could lead to sudden cardiac death; (2) In the ACIP trial, it has been shown that revascularization, using coronary angioplasty or bypass surgery provided more effective relief of the ischemia than medical (pill) therapy alone; (3) In the ASIST study, those treated with Atenolol showed great reduction of ischemia and the risk of future events compared to those who were given placebo (“sugar” pills, in the controlled group); (4) the prevalence and risk of cardiac events have been much less where ischemia has been treated with revascularization; (5) that risk factor modification (lifestyle and behavioral changes: cessation of smoking, abstinence from red meat and eggs, a diet of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains, daily exercises), together with aggressive treatment as in numbers 2 and 3 above, reduces or eliminates myocardial ischemia, left ventricular dysfunction, and the incidence of sudden cardiac death. It is obvious that a pre-emptive strike, a prophylactic strategy, on everyone’s part is the only way to beat sudden cardiac death.

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Red Meat and Cancer

A diet high in processed meat (sausages, luncheon meats, etc.) may increase the risk of carnivores developing pancreatic cancer by almost 70%, reported a recent major study that was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The report showed “an average of 41 cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed per 100,000 people each year among those who ate the most processed meat compared with 20 cases among those who ate the least.”
This research, which included 180,000 individuals, also found that individuals who ate even non-processed red meats, including pork, beef, and any other red meats, had a 50% higher risk of having cancer of the pancreas. While this is 20% lower compared to those who ate processed meats, 50% increase in the risk is still too high for comfort, since pancreatic cancer is a very painful and fatal disease, with no known cure.
Scientists think the culprit-carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) may not be the saturated fat in red meats but the nitrate-based preservatives and the cooking method, like charcoal-grilling and broiling. Apparently, the cooking method and the nitrate preservatives each play a great role as carcinogens.
While the saturated fat in fresh (no preservative) red meat appears not to be linked to pancreatic cancer in this study, other studies have shown that people who eat red meat regularly have a higher risk for developing cancer of the colon, breast, and other cancers in general, compared to those who minimize eating red meat. Red meat also causes a quick rise in the cholesterol blood level, a condition that increases the risk for the development of heart attack and stroke.
In 2005 alone, 32,180 Americans and 60,000 Europeans were found to have pancreatic cancer, a disease that is often diagnosed late because they are not readily obvious clinically. Less than 5% of these patients live for more than five years after the cancer is first detected.
Other risk factors include smoking, family history of cancer of the pancreas, obesity, diabetes, age (older ones), gender (male), ethnicity (African), exposure to certain dyes, pesticides, and chemicals related to gasoline. Helicobacter pylori infection that causes the common ulcer of the stomach is also a predisposing factor. African Americans appear to have higher incidence of pancreatic cancer and poorer prognosis than Whites.
Abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, and Endoscopic ultrasound are some procedures, together with some blood and liver function tests, that aid in the the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
The treatment of pancreatic cancer varies according to the stage of the malignancy. The management includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy alone, and chemotherapy with a targeted treatment. The Whipple Procedure is the most popular surgery for cancer of the head of the pancreas. Modern advances in surgery today have allowed resection of pancreatic cancers which were considered unresectable in the past. Completely resected pancreatic cancer provides the best opportunity for a longer term survival, albeit still not a cure.
The most common drug used is gemcitabine (Gemzar), but recently this drug, in combination with erlotimib (Tarceva), has proved useful in advanced cases. Chemotherapy may be used in combination with radiation, which uses high energy x-rays to shrink the tumor or slow its growth.
The other option is biological and targeted therapies, which “enhances the body natural immune system to stop tumor growth, changing cellular signals that permit tumor growth, making tumors more susceptible to an immune system attack; and blocking the process that change normal cells into cancer, thereby stopping the abnormal growth behavior of a tumor.”
Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors, besides eating red meat. For prevention, minimizing red meat ingestion, abstinence from cigarettes, maintaining a normal body weight, daily exercises, and eating a lot of vegetables, fruits and whole grains have all been found to significantly lower the risk of the development of pancreatic cancer, not to mention heart disease, stroke, other forms of cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.
In contrast, those with untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) have higher risks for those illnesses mentioned, including cancers. Those who snore and wake up at night gasping for breath, especially those who are overweight, who do not have a restful sleep, feeling tired and sleepy during the daytime, should have a life-saving Sleep Study to confirm or rule out OSA.
In cardiovascular illnesses, like heart attack and stroke, in metabolic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, and in most cancers, lifestyle and personal behavior are the greatest factors in the causation of these maladies, and these killers are, therefore, preventable.
As always, as far as our health is concerned, the ball is in our court. How we play it will determine the quality of our life, our future, and our longevity.
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