All posts in Research

Gardening is a common hobby that is stressful to many body parts such as knees, back, shoulders and neck.

Gardening is a common hobby that is stressful to many body parts such as knees, back, shoulders and neck.

Here are a few tips on how to reduce stress on the body when working outside.
• Warm up first by walking and stretching.
• Alternate positions or activities often.
• Sit on a bucket or stool instead of bending over.
• Use a wheelbarrow as much as possible.
• Plant in elevated potters so that you don’t have to kneel so close to the ground.
• Use proper body mechanics when lifting or pulling anything. Your power should come from the legs, not the back.

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Are there side effects to statins?

Are there side effects to statins?
SeniorsThe latest guidelines for cholesterol treatment recommends more seniors need to be on statin medications to lower their risk of heart disease. This is an interesting article because there is a misconception that statins are dangerous drugs. When they were first introduced in the 1980’s, the FDA initially required every patient to see an eye doctor yearly because of a possible risk of cataracts. This was quickly reversed as the target patient group was itself at a high risk of developing cataracts. For years, we had to monitor liver functions and patients were worried about liver damage. This is so rare (even though statins can harmlessly elevate liver enzymes a little bit) that a few years ago the FDA withdrew the requirements of regular monitoring of liver functions.
This is a direct quote from the article:
“Many side effects such as myopathy, fatigue, muscle aches, and rhabdomyolysis, and memory loss have been commonly attributed to statins, but the researchers found that these were no more common among patients taking statins than among those taking a placebo. The withdrawal rate from trials was also similar for statins and placebo, at around 12-15%.” There was a slight risk of developing diabetes: 3% of statin patients vs 2.4% incidence in the placebo group.
 
Please be reassured that taking statins are safe and, to date, there is NO evidence that any OTHER cholesterol lowering medication (herbal or prescription) have ever been shown scientifically to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
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Should You Be Meditating?

Should You Be Meditating?

Meditation has been around for thousands of years. It seemed to be big in the 60’s and 70’s (thanks to The Beatles) and appears to be making a comeback. It is important to know that it is not a cult and religion plays no role. Many celebrities like Howard Stern and Jerry Seinfeld have been practicing it for many years. The movie producer, David Lynch has even started a foundation to teach it to children. Russell Simmons has just written a book about it.

There have been many scientific studies showing how meditating can reduce stress and depression and improve sleep, mental alertness and lead to clearer thinking. Other studies show a decrease in blood pressure and heart disease.

Recently there were even articles about meditating in “Men’s’ Journal” and ‘The Wall Street Journal”.

A great book to read is called “TRANSCENDENCE: HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION THROUGH TRANCEDENTAL MEDITATION” by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a psychiatrist currently at Johns Hopkins who not only researches it by practices it too. 

Many people use meditation in conjunction with other therapies. If you are already taking medications or seeing a therapist, you should not STOP without consulting your physician first.

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Electronic Cigarettes – Do they help smokers quit?

Electronic Cigarettes – Do they help smokers quit?

A recent study in JAMA showed no evidence the e-cigarettes were associated with a change in cigarette use after 1 year!

This is important because it was only a few weeks ago that I reported on the toxicity of the so called safe “fumes” from e-cigarettes.

More importantly for the general public, this is a great example of how hype and anecdotal successes try to replace scientific studies.

Just because a few people cut back on cigarettes doesn’t mean MANY people will have the same success. (The ads never advertise their failures.)

Also, I don’t consider my patients to be ex-smokers until they have been smoke free for at least 5 years.

No one can quit smoking unless they are 100% committed. Chantix, Wellbutrin, Nicotine patches, hypnosis and acupuncture have all been used with success in the past.

 

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ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION AND HEART DISEASE-THE CANARY IN A COAL MINE

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION AND HEART DISEASE-THE CANARY IN A COAL MINE
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION AND HEART DISEASE-THE CANARY IN A COAL MINE
American Journal of Medicine, 02/22/2014
 
“All men with vasculogenic erectile dysfunction require a cardiovascular workup”
 
This is the conclusion by the researchers studying the connection with ED and heart disease in men. When they say “vasculogenic”, they are referring to people who smoke, have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. “Non-vasculogenic” would include psychological or medication induced impotence(antidepressant, for example)
Younger men should be evaluated for cardiovascular risk factors and make the lifestyle changes associated with better health. Any male with a higher risk (age, diabetes, high blood pressure, smokers) should have further testing done. The two best tests would be either a stress (exercise) test with a cardiologist or possibly a C-T scan to look for coronary artery calcium -which might be an indication of atherosclerosis. (Some insurance companies WILL NOT pay for this one and it may be expensive)
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Can depression cause heart disease?

Can depression cause heart disease?

DEPRESSION AND HEART DISEASE

The Scientific Statement was published online February 24 in Circulation.

We all know that obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, genetics and smoking are the major risk factors for heart disease. But did you know that DEPRESSION is also linked to heart attacks? According to an American Heart Association panel, depressed patients were more likely to get heart disease than non-depressed people. It is hoped that by treating depression, we can help treat/prevent heart disease. We have known for years that all stroke patients benefit from antidepressants whether they are clinically depressed or not. There have also been numerous studies about quality of life in patients who have diabetes, heart disease, cancer or depression. As you can probably guess, the depressed patients consistently score worse than all of the other patient groups!

Even though depression is more widely accepted now than in the past, there is still a stigma associated with depression. Most insurance companies with NOT even pay the physician if a depression code is listed on the bill! And counseling! Forget about it. Insurance companies don’t mind paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for heart surgery, but to pay a few thousand for psychotherapy………..

 

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New hypertension guidelines

New hypertension guidelines

If there is anything constant about the practice of medicine is that nothing stays the same. The latest blood pressure guidelines were published by JNC 8 (Joint National Commission) suggesting that higher blood pressures were acceptable in patients older than 60. They claim that our goal should be readings of 150/90. The problem with this is that it is controversial and contradicts generations of conventional thinking about blood pressure control. The concern is that systolic readings of 150 will lead to more heart attacks and strokes.

This is one study that I don’t have faith in and I will continue to use the old guidelines. The only exception is when I think lowering the blood pressure too much will lead to an increase in dizziness and falls in the elderly.

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Do probiotics help with weight loss?

Do probiotics help with weight loss?

A study from the British Journal of Nutrition found that, all things being equal, women dieters who took probiotics lost almost twice as much weight after 12 weeks when compared to women who took a placebo. The probiotic was a mix of Lactobacillis, Inulin and oligofructose and the dose was divided into 2 capsules-30 minutes prior to breakfast and dinner. The same study failed to show any benefits to men, who seemed to lose weight easier than women. The product used was made by Nestle but is not yet available in the U.S. It is unknown whether other probiotics have the same effect.

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The operating room of the future

The operating room of the future

This futuristic surgery is being done right now.
Picture cancer surgery, hysterectomy, Parkinson’s, tumors – treated non-invasively!

InSightec, a company which is headquartered in Tirat Carmel near Haifa, Israel and draws 80 percent of its staff from Technion graduates, has developed a surgical system to treat tumors inside the body that perhaps can cure many different illnesses electronically without having to cut open the human body. This Israeli innovation has the potential to transform how medicine will be practiced internationally, enabling many patients to recover from various illnesses much quicker than they presently are able to do utilizing traditional surgery. Indeed, it can perhaps replace the hospitalizations that follow surgery with out-patient care.

Click on this link to see this technology – including the amazing transformation of a Parkinson’s patient.

http://safeshare.tv/w/DTAINyElxY

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‘Skip the supplements’ reports New York Times

‘Skip the supplements’ reports New York Times

Reproduced from Dece,ber 14, 2013 article in New York Times su

By PAUL A. OFFIT and SARAH ERUSH
Paul A. Offit is chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Sarah Erush is the clinical manager in the pharmacy department.

December 14, 2013

PHILADELPHIA — PARENTS whose children are admitted to our hospital occasionally bring along something extra to help with their care: dietary supplements, like St. John’s wort to ameliorate mild depression or probiotics for better health.

Here’s the problem: The Joint Commission, which is responsible for hospital accreditation in the United States, requires that dietary supplements be treated like drugs. It makes sense: Vitamins, amino acids, herbs, minerals and other botanicals have pharmacological effects. So they are drugs.

But the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as drugs — they aren’t tested for safety and efficacy before they’re sold. Many aren’t made according to minimal standards of manufacturing (the F.D.A. has even found some of the facilities where supplements are made to be contaminated with rodent feces and urine). And many are mislabeled, accidentally or intentionally. They often aren’t what they say they are. For example:

In 2003, researchers tested “ayurvedic” remedies from health food stores throughout Boston. They found that 20 percent contained potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury or arsenic.

In 2008, two products were pulled off the market because they were found to contain around 200 times more selenium (an element that some believe can help prevent cancer) than their labels said. People who ingested these products developed hair loss, muscle cramps, diarrhea, joint pain, fatigue and blisters.

Last summer, vitamins and minerals made by Purity First Health Products in Farmingdale, N.Y., were found to contain two powerful anabolic steroids. Some of the women who took them developed masculinizing symptoms like lower voices and fewer menstrual periods.

Last month, researchers in Ontario found that popular herbal products like those labeled St. John’s wort and ginkgo biloba often contained completely different herbs or contaminants, some of which could be quite dangerous.

The F.D.A. estimates that approximately 50,000 adverse reactions to dietary supplements occur every year. And yet few consumers know this.

Parents of children admitted to our hospital often request that we continue treating their child with dietary supplements because they believe in them, even if that belief isn’t supported by evidence. More disturbing were the times when children were taking these supplements without our knowledge. Doctors always ask parents if their children are taking any medicines. Unfortunately, because most parents don’t consider dietary supplements to be drugs, we often never knew about their use, let alone whether they might react dangerously with the child’s other treatments.

The F.D.A. has the mandate, but not the manpower, to oversee the labeling and manufacture of these supplements. In the meantime, doctors — and consumers — are on their own.

Our hospital has acted to protect the safety of our patients. No longer will we administer dietary supplements unless the manufacturer provides a third-party written guarantee that the product is made under the F.D.A.’s “good manufacturing practice” (G.M.P.) conditions, as well as a Certificate of Analysis (C.O.A.) assuring that what is written on the label is what’s in the bottle.

The good news is that we’ve been able to find some vitamins, amino acids, minerals and a handful of other supplements that meet this standard. For example, melatonin has been shown to affect sleep cycles and has a record of safety, and we identified a product that met manufacturing and labeling standards.

The bad news is that this was a vanishingly small percentage of the total group. Around 90 percent of the companies we reached out to for verification never responded. They didn’t call us back, or their email or manufacturing addresses changed overnight. Of the remainder, many manufacturers refused to provide us with either a statement of G.M.P. or a C.O.A.; in other words, they refused to guarantee that their products were what they said they were. Others lied; they said they met G.M.P. standards, but a call to the F.D.A. revealed they had been fined for violations multiple times. Perhaps most surprising, some manufacturers willingly furnished information that their product didn’t meet standards — like one company that provided a C.O.A. showing that its product contained 47,000 International Units of beta-carotene, when the label stated 25,000.

Now, when parents in our hospital still want to use products whose quality can’t be assured, we ask them to sign a waiver stating that the supplement may be dangerous, and that most have not been studied for their effectiveness. “Use of an agent for which there are no reliable data on toxicity and drug interactions,” the waiver reads, “makes it impossible to adequately monitor the patient’s acute condition or safely administer medications.”

What can other individuals who are concerned about supplement safety do? They can look for “U.S.P. Verified” on the label — this proves the supplement has been inspected and approved under the United States Pharmacopeial Convention. Unfortunately, fewer than 1 percent of the 55,000 or so supplements on the market bear this label. The real answer is that, until the day comes when medical studies prove that these supplements have legitimate benefits, and until the F.D.A. has the political backing and resources to regulate them like drugs, individuals should simply steer clear.

For too long, too many people have believed that dietary supplements can only help and never hurt. Increasingly, it’s clear that this belief is a false one.

 

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