Friday, October 20, 2017

Journal Watch October 2017

CHRONIC PAIN
Hormone therapy may benefit migraine sufferers without increased risk of heart disease: Migraine headaches are common among women, but due to various health risks can be challenging to treat in the elderly. While hormone therapy is effective in relieving many menopause symptoms, its safe use in women with migraines was unconfirmed. A new study demonstrates its safety for this population. Science Daily

IV Prochlorperazine Beats IV Hydromorphone for Migraine: Intravenous (IV) hydromorphone is less effective than IV prochlorperazine plus diphenhydramine for acute migraine treatment in the emergency department, according to a study published online Oct. 18 in Neurology.

Tofacitinib Superior to Placebo in Active Psoriatic Arthritis: For patients with active psoriatic arthritis who have an inadequate response to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors or to conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), tofacitinib is superior to placebo, according to two studies published online Oct. 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

COMPLEMENTARY & ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Mind and Body Practices for Fibromyalgia: Research on complementary health approaches for fibromyalgia must be regarded as preliminary. However, recent systematic reviews and randomized clinical trials provide encouraging evidence that practices such as tai chi, qi gong, yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, and balneotherapy may help relieve some fibromyalgia symptoms. Small studies have examined various natural products—such as topical creams containing capsaicin or dietary supplements like S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) or soy—for fibromyalgia. A 2010 systematic review concluded that there is not enough evidence to determine whether these products, taken orally or applied topically, provide relief from fibromyalgia symptoms or related conditions. This issue of the digest provides a summary of the science of several complementary mind and body approaches often included in treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. NCCIH Clinical Digest

Cancerous Toxins Linked to Cannabis Extract: Researchers at Portland State University found benzene and other potentially cancer-causing chemicals in the vapor produced by butane hash oil, a cannabis extract. Their study raises health concerns about dabbing, or vaporizing hash oil -- a practice that is growing in popularity, especially in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. ACS Omega

Daily 'Light Therapy' May Help Some With Bipolar Disorder: People afflicted with bipolar disorder may find some relief from depression with daily doses of light therapy, new research suggests. With light therapy, people spend time sitting in close proximity to a light-emitting box -- in this case, bright white light -- with exposures increasing from 15 minutes per day to a full hour over a period of weeks. The study found that within a month the therapy helped treat depression in people with bipolar disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry

Adulteration of proprietary Chinese medicines and health products poses severe health risks: Traditional Chinese medicine is widely used as a form of complementary medicine all over the world for various indications and for improving general health. Various reports have documented the adulteration of pCMs and health products with undeclared agents, including prescription drugs, drug analogues, and banned drugs. Such adulteration can have serious and even fatal consequences. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

Yoga and aerobic exercise together may improve heart disease risk factors: Heart disease patients who practice yoga in addition to aerobic exercise saw twice the reduction in blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol levels when compared to patients who practiced either Indian yoga or aerobic exercise alone, according to new research. American College of Cardiology

Six-Month Tai Chi Program Improves Physical Activity in CHD:  A six-month tai chi program is safe and improves physical activity (PA), weight, and quality of life for patients with coronary heart disease who decline to enroll in cardiac rehabilitation, according to a study published online Oct. 11 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

FDA ACTION
• Cleared the Senhance System, a new robotically-assisted surgical device (RASD) that can help facilitate minimally invasive surgery.
• Cleared the first seven tesla (7T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device, more than doubling the static magnetic field strength available for use in the United States.
• Approved the Remede System a new treatment option for patients who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe central sleep apnea
• Approved the first test for screening Zika virus in blood donations
• Launched a new user-friendly search tool that improves access to data on adverse events associated with drug and biologic products through the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). The tool is designed to make it easier for consumers, providers, and researchers to access this information.
• Approved Verzenio (abemaciclib) a new treatment for certain advanced or metastatic breast cancers
• Approved first continuous glucose monitoring system for adults not requiring blood sample calibration
• Conducts major global operation to protect consumers from potentially dangerous prescription drugs sold online
• Approved the second gene therapy for use in the United States. Yescarta fights a type of lymphoma; move is heralded as helping open 'new era' in medical care

PREVENTION
Moving Just 1 Hour a Week May Curb Depression Risk: Just one hour a week of any kind of exercise may lower your long-term risk for depression, new research suggests. The finding comes from a fresh analysis of a Norwegian survey that tracked exercise habits, along with depression and anxiety risk, among nearly 34,000 adults. After a closer look at the data, a team of British, Australian and Norwegian analysts determined that people who engage in just an hour of exercise per week -- regardless of intensity level -- face a 44 percent lower risk for developing depression over the course of a decade than those who never exercise at all. American Journal of Psychiatry

Good Lifestyle Choices Add Years to Your Life Change your lifestyle, change your life span. That's the claim of a new study that found not smoking, watching your weight and continuing to learn new things could help you live longer. And genes play a part in the lifestyle choices people make. Nature Communications

Dance Your Way to a Healthier Aging Brain Dance classes may beat traditional exercise when it comes to improving older adults' balance -- and it might enhance brain areas related to memory and learning along the way. That's the finding of a small study that compared dance lessons against standard exercise -- including brisk walking -- among 52 healthy seniors. Over a year and a half, older adults who took weekly dance classes showed gains in their balancing ability. There were no such improvements in the traditional exercise group. Researchers also found hints that all those mambos and cha-chas had extra brain benefits. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Tai Chi: A Gentler Way to Exercise for Ailing Hearts People with heart disease who shy away from traditional cardiac rehabilitation may benefit from tai chi. A small study found that the slow, gentle movements of this traditional Chinese practice may help increase physical activity among those who are reluctant to exercise. Journal of the American Heart Association

Too Much Exercise for Males Can be Bad: A new study  found  that white men who exercise more than seven hours a week have an 86 percent higher risk of developing plaque build-up in their arteries. No such elevated risk was seen among either black men or women. Plaque build-up is a critical warning sign for possible future heart disease risk. Mayo Clinic Proceedings

Even a Little Walking Can Lengthen Your Life: A study of nearly 140,000 American adults found that those whose only exercise was walking less than two hours per week had a lower risk of death from any cause than those who did no physical activity. Those who did one to two times the minimum amount of recommended weekly exercise (2.5 to 5 hours) by only walking had a 20 percent lower risk of death. The risk of death was similar among those who exceeded activity recommendations through only walking. American Journal of Preventive Medicine

To Reduce Risk of Recurring Bladder infection drink more water: A new study suggests that drinking more water is effective at reducing bladder infections in women who are prone to them and results in issuing 47% fewer prescription for antibiotics. ID Week.

NUTRITION/SUPPLEMENTS/VITAMINS
Could Skipping Breakfast Feed Heart Disease? Middle-aged adults who routinely skip breakfast are more likely to have clogged heart arteries than those who enjoy a big morning meal, a new study finds. Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Eating nuts can reduce weight gain, study finds: A five-year study that evaluated diet and lifestyle data from more than 373,000 individuals from 10 European countries between the ages of 25 and 70 says consuming nuts can reduce weight gain. European Journal of Nutrition

A spoonful of oil: Fats and oils help to unlock full nutritional benefits of veggies, study suggests: Some dressing with your greens may help you absorb more nutrients, according to a new study. The research found enhanced absorption of multiple fat-soluble vitamins in addition to beta-carotene and three other carotenoids. The results may ease the guilt of countless dieters who fret about adding dressing to their salads. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Vitamin D protects against severe asthma attacks: Taking oral vitamin D supplements in addition to standard asthma medication could halve the risk of asthma attacks requiring hospital attendance, according to new research. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine

How Foods Labeled 'Healthy' Can Still Make You Fat: Be careful when you reach for foods labeled "healthy" -- new research suggests if they have hidden high levels of sugar, you may snack more later. Appetite

Black tea may help with weight loss, too: Black tea may promote weight loss and other health benefits by changing bacteria in the gut, research indicates for the first time. European Journal of Nutrition

Milk-alternative drinks do not replace the iodine in cows' milk: Consumers of milk-alternative drinks may be at of risk iodine deficiency, according to the findings of a new study. British Journal of Nutrition

Calcium in the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis: A new clinical guide summarizes the evidence regarding the effects of calcium in reducing the risk of osteoporosis after menopause. The recommended daily intake of calcium after menopause varies between 700 and 1,200 mg, depending on the endorsing society. It is uncertain whether excessive intake can cause harm. Some epidemiological studies have raised concern about possible cardiovascular risk, dementia or even, paradoxically, fracture. Calcium may be obtained from food or supplements containing calcium salts. Most people should be able to get enough calcium through healthy eating, but this is not always the case. Maturitas

TREATMENT
Singulair Tied to Nightmares, Depression: The asthma medication Singulair (montelukast) appears linked to neuropsychiatric side effects, such as depression, aggression, nightmares and headaches, according to a new review by Dutch researchers. But experts aren't yet ready to pull the plug on this class of medication.  Pharmacology Research and Perspectives

Treating Asthma, COPD With Steroid Inhaler Raises the Risk of Hard-to-Treat Infections: Older people who use steroid inhalers for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more likely to suffer lung infections caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria, which are notoriously difficult to treat and resistant to a number of common antibiotics. European Respiratory Journal,

Carnosine Supplementation Improves Glycaemic Control and Oxidative Stress in Diabetic Nephropathy Supplementation with the amino acid carnosine improves oxidative stress, glycaemic control, and renal function in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and diabetic nephropathy. International Meeting of Pediatric Endocrinology (PES)

Zonisamide May Benefit Patients With Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia With Lewy Bodies A randomized study of 346 patients with Parkinson’s Disease and probable Lew bodies found that Zonisamide may be an effective option. World Congress of Neurology

One Weight Loss Surgery Shows Lasting Results: The study, of more than 1,100 severely obese adults, found that those who underwent gastric bypass lost an average of 100 pounds over two years. By year 12, they'd managed to keep 77 of those pounds off. NEJM

Radiation and Chemotherapy Together Boost Lung Cancer Survival: About one-third of stage 3 patients alive after 5 years, a development called promising by oncologists. American Society of Radiation Oncology meeting, San Diego

Diabetes Pill Might Replace Injection to Control Blood Sugar An injectable class of diabetes medication -- called glucagon-like peptide-1 or GLP-1 -- might one day be available in pill form, research suggests.  Based on the results of a global phase 2 clinical trial, the study authors reported a significant drop in blood sugar levels for people on the oral medication, and no significant increase in low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) compared to a placebo over six months.  The findings also showed that people taking the highest dose of the pill lost a large amount of weight -- about 15 pounds -- compared to a weight loss of fewer than 3 pounds for people on the inactive placebo pill. JAMA

Common acid reflux medications promote chronic liver disease: Approximately 10 percent of Americans take a proton pump inhibitor drug to relieve symptoms of frequent heartburn and acid reflux. That percentage can be much higher for people with chronic liver disease. Researchers have discovered evidence in mice and humans that these medications alter gut bacteria in a way that promotes three types of chronic liver disease. Nature Communications

No evidence that widely marketed technique to treat leaky bladder/prolapse works: The abdominal hypopressive technique, or AHT for short, has been taught to more than 1500 coaches in 14 countries, and has been widely publicised on TV and on social media. AHT is one of several methods based on breathing exercises and correction of body posture, which have been proposed as ways of preventing or treating prolapse and urinary incontinence. Others include Pilates and Tai Chi. But the trial data indicate limited or "questionable" effects for these techniques, and in the case of AHT, no evidence at all, including when added to pelvic floor muscle exercises, for which there is strong evidence of effectiveness. Researchers conclude, they conclude: "At present, there is no scientific evidence to recommend its use to patients. This particular treatment currently illustrates the phenomenon that not all recommended treatments are evidence based." Note that the study did find that the pelvic floor muscle training, developed by US gynecologist Arnold Kegel in the 1940s, has systematically verifiable effectiveness in treating problems such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. British Journal of Sports Medicine

For Hepatitis B Patients, Aspirin Tied to Lower Risk of HCC: 5 years of aspirin therapy linked to significantly lower incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma. American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

• Statins Tied to Lower Community-Acquired Staph Infection Risk: Statin use is associated with a decreased risk of community-acquired Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia (CA-SAB), particularly in long-term users, according to a study published in the October issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

OTHER
Does a Drug’s High Price Tag Cause Its Own Side Effects?  Pricey drugs may make people more vulnerable to perceiving side effects, a new study suggests -- and the phenomenon is not just "in their heads." researchers found that people were more likely to report painful side effects from a fake drug when told it was expensive. But it wasn't just something people were "making up." Using brain imaging, the researchers traced the phenomenon to specific activity patterns in the brain and spine. Science

A-Fib Hits Men Earlier Than Women: Men develop a dangerous type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation a decade earlier than women, a new study suggests.And while being overweight increased odds for the condition in both sexes, those extra pounds were more troublesome for males, the German researchers found. Circulation News

Family members play important role in managing chronic illness Family members often play an important role in managing chronic illnesses, and a family approach may produce more effective, long-term benefits for the patient, according to a researcher.  "For some family groups, setting goals together for making lifestyle changes such as healthier eating habits and regular exercise, helps patients to stay on track and may benefit family members as well.” Psychological Science

One in three older adults take something to help them sleep but many don't talk to their doctors: Sleep doesn't come easily for nearly half of older Americans, and more than a third have resorted to some sort of medication to help them doze off at night, a new national poll finds. But most said they hadn't talked to their doctor about their sleep, even though more than a third said their sleep posed a problem. Half believe -- incorrectly -- that sleep problems just come naturally with age. Science Daily


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Take a Break with Treehouse of Horror


Love the Simpson’s special Halloween productions “Treehouse of Horror.” Really fun to watch them, even if you’ve seen them before. Below are links to help get you started:



Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else. Note there are lots of “take a breaks” for Halloween.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How to Respond as Trump Chips Away at the ACA

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Just about every news outlet carried some version of the story on Thursday that the administration would end the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) cost-sharing reduction payments designed to help low-income Americans get health care. Not paying the subsidies, health care experts have warned, could send the health insurance exchanges into turmoil. The implications are significant for many. These are the key points:

• Insurers must continue providing cost subsidies, as required by the ACA but they won’t be reimbursed.

• Having anticipated that such an elimination could occur; some insurers have substantially raised rates for 2018-anywhere from 2% to 23%. It is anticipated that those who haven’t will either now try to do so or pull out of the exchange.

• If you are already receiving subsidies you won’t have to pay much more. However, you may need to switch plans to rates the same. The big impact will be on middle class Americans who earn too much to get premium subsidies, and would be adversely impacted by higher rates.

• Because of Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of payments, ACA insurers are going to have pay for the last three months of the year. It is anticipated that some, if not all, insurers will take legal action.

• The skyrocketing premiums will also hit taxpayers. Trump's move will actually cost the federal government an estimated $7.2 billion more next year because it will have to shell out more in premium subsidies to cover these higher rates, according to an Urban Institute analysis.

Since the November election, I’ve been posting various articles about ways to prepare and protect.


Living within your means: Un stuff yourself 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Take a Break: Ghost Stories & Legends


It’s the right time of year to read or listen to ghost stories. But how exciting to learn about ghosts, spirits and legends where you live. Start by Goggling your town, state, county or country name with “ghost stories.” You may be surprised by what you find.

Here are some links to check out.

Strange New England: A compendium of history, folklore and evidence of the unexplained. 
Ghosts & Gravestones  provides information about various sites for Boston, Savannah, San Diego, St. Augustine and Key West.

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else. Note there are lots of “take a breaks” for Halloween.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Life with Chronic Conditions: Skin Care


If you follow the Journal Updates, you may remember the following article:

Many skin moisturizers that claim to be fragrance-free or hypoallergenic are not, and may aggravate skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, a new study says. Northwestern University researchers examined the top 100 best-selling, whole-body moisturizers sold at Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart for affordability and content. They found that 83 percent of so-called hypoallergenic products had a potentially allergenic chemical. The researchers also discovered that 45 percent of products marketed as fragrance-free contained a botanical ingredient or one that reacts to a fragrance that can cause a skin rash or skin allergy. In addition, moisturizers with "dermatologist-recommended" labels cost an average of 20 cents more per ounce than those that did not have the label. Only 12 percent of the best-selling moisturizers were free of such allergens, according to the report. Looking for allergen-free skin products? Your best bets are white petroleum jelly, some coconut oils that are cold-pressed and not refined, Vanicream's hypoallergenic products and Aveeno Eczema Therapy moisturizing cream. And the three most affordable moisturizers without any NACDG allergens: Ivory raw unrefined shea butter, Vaseline original petroleum jelly and Smellgood African shea butter, the researchers said. JAMA Dermatology

Because of another article in JAMA Internal Medicine about the un regulation of the cosmetics industry, in July, I wrote the post Life With Chronic Conditions: What Touches Our Skin. Since skin is a critical protector of our body, and we’re heading into the winter months, when it can feel incredibly dry, it’s a good reminder to read, or re read this post, as it provides links to check out the safety of the products you are using and other tips.

Note that the most recent article recommended Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. However Vaseline, is a derivative of oil refining. Originally found coating the bottom of oil rigs in the mid-1800s, it’s a byproduct of the oil industry and therefore an unsustainable resource-not eco-friendly. Because there are carcinogenic components that are removed to make Vaseline, and therefore the product is regarded as safe, you have no idea what’s going on with the generic brands marketed as “petroleum jelly.” Check out Petroleum Jelly May Not Be as Harmless as You Think.

Research indicates that  organic coconut oil  and virgin olive oil are good moisturizers to use. Note: If you are going to use olive oil, be sure to check that your brand is certified by the North American Olive Oil Association Also keep in mind that a product containing coconut oil is not the same as pure coconut oil. Both of these oils are readily available at your super market and will cost less and last longer than many commercially available skin products.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Take a Breathe: Prepare to Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day



The Abenaki who lived in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire
 For nearly 40 years there has been a movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. My state, Vermont, has already made this change.

So why the change in holidays? Well for starters, contrary to what’s been previously taught. Columbus never discovered the Americas and for that matter, he never set foot on either continent. Some other facts: He didn’t prove the world was round, that was already known as far back as the Greeks. In fact, he thought the world was pear shaped. His voyage was economic so slave trading was a lucrative opportunity and he captured natives for such purposes. Columbus’ men brought syphilis back to Europe and they also brought small pox and other diseases that caused the deaths of millions of indigenous people. While Columbus may have been a very brave and skillful sailor, he was also deeply flawed human who set the stage for the Spanish conquistadors who looted and killed natives by the thousands.

There are many issues around the idea of  Columbus’s “discovery.” Leif Ericksson arrived well before Columbus in what is today Newfoundland and it’s very possible that St. Brendan’s voyage took place 500 years before Ericksson and 1,000 years before Columbus. However, all of them are “Johnny come latelies,” as the Americas were already occupied possibly as early as 16,000 years ago.

Ways to prepare for Indigenous Peoples Day
• Learn more about the settlement of the Americas:

First Humans Entered the Americas Along the Coast, Not through the Ice: Evidence mounts against the traditional story of early human migration through an ice corridor.

A 24,000-year-old horse jawbone is helping rewrite our understanding of human habitation on the continent

• Learn about the indigenous people in your area. Start by checking your state’s historical society.

• Make plans to attend an event hosted by a Native group, organization or cultural center near you.

• Check out Vision Maker Media for Native related films to watch

• Read a book on or by Natives. For various titles check American Indian Books.

• Visit the National Museum of the American Indian  in person or virtually or check Native American Indian Museums & Heritage Centers for other museums closer  to you.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Overwhelmed and Numbed by Disasters and Relief Appeals?: What to Do


At the moment I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and even numb by watching and reading about the disasters of Harvey, Irma, Maria and Mexico’s earthquake along with the various requests to help with relief efforts.

Where I shop, there are people outside the store collecting money and when I pay for my purchases I’m asked if I’d like to make a donation to one cause or other. Local TV channels are sponsoring relief efforts so that your favorite show is cropped to make room for Red Cross donation information. Our local school not only is fundraising for disaster relief but they are also looking for funds for field trips, school supplies etc. On Facebook, various friends are collecting money and signatures for a variety of causes and my in box is flooded with e-appeals.

As a friend noted that between her friends wanting her to support their causes, donating to an organization she believed in, only to be inundated with e-mails for continued support, and fundraising campaigns at her workplace, she was starting to turn a blind eye to everything.

It is not that people aren’t concerned or caring, it’s just how much to give, when and to whom. So here are some things to consider:

• Don’t give until it hurts.

• Set a budget of what you can give financially and/or of your time. Both are of value. Identify in your “budget” what skills you have to donate as an in-kind, how often and if you have a preferred group. It’s fine to focus on your condition specific organization (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation) as many of those affected by these conditions live in places that have been heavily impacted by the various natural disasters.

• Prioritize what organizations, charities etc. are most important to you. Contribute only when it fits in your budget and when you feel like your contribution will have the most impact. Keep in mind that many people are experiencing “donor fatigue” and so when it comes to annual contributions during the holidays, organizations that you may depend on might fall short in their fundraising goals.

• In the workplace. If the company you work for is pushing for 100 percent employee participation in their campaigns it can feel like a lot of pressure. While you may want to give a very nominal amount, it would be prudent to speak to those in charge and explain that  a) This approach doesn’t feel voluntary and b) This isn’t the manner in which you feel comfortable giving. If a co worker or a manager is soliciting for a charity consider your budget and priority list. A small contribution isn’t a big deal, as long as it’s not a big deal to you. Regardless of the situation, only give if you want to.

• During disasters there are people that set up bogus operations and try to scam people as a way to make money. If you are going to donate, make it to a reputable charity. Use sites like Charity Navigator to help you.

• If you own a business, consider registering for www.donationmatch.com as a way to control request. If you have a special skill, such as being an artist or crafts person, read How to Handle Donation Requests, which provides some very helpful advise-including sample letters-to use.

• Check out previous posts that relate to this topic: