Nov
01
2006

Diverticulitis Associated With Obesity

Medical textbooks used to describe acute diverticulitis as a disease that was mostly seen in adults over 50 years of age. Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center have assessed the medical records of 104 patients ages 22 to 88 years with the condition of diverticulitis diagnosed between 1999 and 2003. 56 patients (54%) were age 50 or younger, and the remaining 48 (46%) were over 50. The researchers found that a significantly higher proportion of patients (88 %) with abdominal obesity were present in the younger age group with diverticulitis.
Acute diverticulitis is a condition characterized by the chronic inflammation of sacs in the intestinal tract. The condition causes constipation and severe abdominal pain. It is usually related to a low fiber diet containing refined carbohydrates or processed foods.
Dr. Barry who was leading the study observed that the younger the patients with diverticulitis are, the more obese they are likely to be.

Diverticulitis Associated With Obesity

Diverticulitis Associated With Obesity

Also, he found the younger they are when they get the disease, the more likely they will get recurrent attacks, and he sees the most important point in diverticulitis prevention is a change to healthy eating habits without over-processed food from fast food outlets.

More information about diverticulitis: http://nethealthbook.com/digestive-system-and-gastrointestinal-disorders/diverticulitis/

Reference: The Medical Post, October 10, 2006, page 1 and 60

Last edited November 1, 2014

Jul
01
2006

Coffee Protects Against Liver Cirrhosis

Coffee has been used as a stimulant for centuries, and more recent research has shown that moderate use of coffee can be beneficial.
The flavorful brew has been used as a wake-up drink, especially after a bad night’s sleep. Those suffering of a hangover after too much alcohol have also brewed it and felt better afterwards.
A new study in the June 12 Archives of Internal Medicine found that there was more benefit than just headache relief for those who drank too much booze. Heavy alcohol drinkers who also drank coffee reduced their risk for liver cirrhosis. (Liver cirrhosis is one of the severe side effects of too much alcohol use.)
Researchers examined the data of 125,580 subjects between the 1978 and 1985. Nearly 200 of these people developed alcoholic cirrhosis by 2001. The researchers found that for each coffee drink per day, there was a 22% drop in the risk of alcohol induced liver cirrhosis.

Coffee Protects Against Liver Cirrhosis

Coffee Protects Against Liver Cirrhosis

Generally tea is considered a beneficial beverage due to the bioflavonoids content. This large study also examined whether tea consumption would decrease liver cirrhosis risk, but no similar benefits were found for tea drinkers.

More information about liver cirrhosis: http://nethealthbook.com/digestive-system-and-gastrointestinal-disorders/liver-cirrhosis/

Reference: National Review of Medicine June 30, 2006

Last edited Nov. 1, 2014

Jun
01
2006

Screening Colonoscopy Highly Effective

The proverbial “ounce of prevention” can be very crucial when it comes to cancer screening methods. Cancer screening has been in the forefront for some time. Early disease detection is not only crucial for successful treatment; it can be a lifesaver!
Effective screening methods are available for some forms of cancer. Mammography screening for breast cancer and rectal examination and PSA tests for prostate cancer are methods that have received attention in the media.
Screening the large intestine for colon cancer by performing a colonoscopy has not made inroads, but new statistics point out the benefits. A colonoscopy will examine the colon for irregularities, namely the formation of polyps. Polyps are initially harmless and non-cancerous, however over time, some polyps have the potential to turn cancerous. In a colonoscopy examination, small polyps can be removed immediately, and this “weeding out” process is a highly effective preventative method against colon cancer. Research has shown, that one colonoscopy that is performed in a middle-aged patient (in his 50’s or 60’s) decreases the risk of developing colon cancer quite significantly. If no polyps are found in the initial screening, it is safe to assume that no colon cancer will present itself for 10 years.

Dr. Harminder Singh and associates from Cancer Care Manitoba and the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg Manitoba/Canada, analyzed data of the Manitoba Health’s physicians’ database where 35,975 patients had undergone a colonoscopy, but were negative for colon cancer.These colonoscopies took place between April 1, 1989, and December 31, 2003 and follow-up was for 10 years. The end point was death or diagnosis of colon cancer.

One Screening Colonoscopy Guarantees Low Colon Cancer Risk for 10 Years (modified JAMA. 2006; 295: p.2366-2373)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This retrospective study showed the following results depicted in the modified graph bar. Patients who were negative in the beginning of the study had a reduction of colon cancer rates of 72% at the 10-year point when compared to those who had no colonoscopy. This is quite an astounding finding. Even at the 5-year point there was a reduction of colon cancer risk by 45% from a single colonoscopy. This would indicate that a person should have a colonoscopy at about the age of 50 to establish freedom of colon cancer. This could be repeated only every 10 years to ensure that no colon polyps and colon cancer develop in the meantime. This should be definitely done in patients who have a family history where colon cancer occurred in a first relative such as mother, father, brother or sister, where specialists say screening should be done every 3 years. In this familial form of colon cancer they should also have a colonoscopy done earlier (at age 40 or earlier). However, this data would indicate that in everybody such colonoscopy screening would be beneficial as it is one of the most common cancers in men and women and other tests are not reliable at this time.

More information about colon cancer: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/colon-cancer/

Reference: JAMA. 2006;295: page 2366-2373

Last edited Nov. 1, 2014

Jun
01
2006

Probiotics Help Gut Against Stress

In times of stress our bodies react: the heart will beat faster, palms will feel sweaty, and a difficult situation may manifest itself in other reactions of the body. In every day’s terms we speak about something “being a pain in the neck”, or the fear of an exam showing up as “butterflies in the stomach”.
Dr. Mary Perdue of the Intestinal Diseases Research Program at Mc Master University in Hamilton, Ontario went a step further. The fact that mental stress can bring physiologic changes in the lining of the intestine has been known for some time. As a result the epithelium (the lining) is more vulnerable to the attack of pathogenic bacteria. The researchers put a solution of lactobacillus to the test, to see whether these gut-friendly bacilli could offer some help. Stressed rats that received the treatment with lactobacillus showed a remarkable degree of protection. The stressed and treated animals were almost as resistant to intestinal pathogens as animals that had not been stressed at all. Contrary to that the non-stressed animals did not show much evidence of bacterial adhesion or penetration: they were more resistant to the attack of bacteria to their guts.
Dr. Perdue explains that it may be difficult to extrapolate from the rat model to the human model. Yet it is clear that humans who are stressed can develop intestinal dysfunction over time, or gastrointestinal symptoms can be exacerbated by stress.
In the meantime probiotics are recommended by many doctors and nutritionists to help restore the gut’s natural flora. New guidelines from Yale Medical School recommend them for diarrhea in children and adults and in diarrhea, which comes as a result of treatment with antibiotics.

Probiotics Help Gut Against Stress

Probiotics Help Gut Against Stress

More research is needed, but existing data suggest that probiotics can help manage lactose intolerance, prevent infections, and reduce inflammation. It can lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure and may help with prevention of colon cancer.

More information on:

1. Stress management: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/stress-management-relaxation-techniques/

2. Probiotics: https://www.askdrray.com/probiotics-important-for-your-health/

Reference: National Review of Medicine, May 15, 2006, page 8

Last edited Oct. 31, 2014

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May
01
2006

Vaccinate Kids Against Hepatitis A

To vaccinate or to not vaccinate is often a point of dispute, especially if new vaccinations come into the forefront. Often the vaccinations have been used for a long time in areas where certain diseases were a threat to the population.
Hepatitis vaccines have been tried and tested for a long time (for hepatitis A and B). They have made their way into TV commercials, warning travelers to get vaccinated before they embark on exotic trips. It is true that the ice cube in a tropical drink could be the source of hepatitis, but it is a fallacy to believe, that staying home means being safe from hepatitis A and B. The demographics are also different: it is not only adventurous adult travelers that can get infected with hepatitis. Children share the same risk. They don’t even have to travel!
In October 2005, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an advisory panel to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended that all children age 12 to 23 months should receive a hepatitis vaccination. The vaccination would protect the young population not only against endemic but also imported viruses. A common source of infection can be agricultural products. Vaccination reduced the incidence of infection by 80% between 1999 and 2003.
There is always the question, whether this is just one vaccination too many, but bearing in mind that hepatitis can be a killer, the answer is more obvious.

Vaccinate Kids Against Hepatitis A

Vaccinate Kids Against Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A has devastating consequences when super-imposed on chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C has been on the rise in the U.S., and there is no vaccination available. In order to avoid more serious consequences it is very likely of benefit to vaccinate children early.

More information about hepatitis: http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/sexually-transmitted-disease/viral-hepatitis/

Reference: BMJ 2006; 332:715-718 (25 March)

Last edited Oct. 31, 2014

Aug
01
2005

Virtual Colonoscopy May Help Find Other Disease

California-based researchers reported in the August issue of the medical journal Radiology about a study involving CT colonography, also known as “virtual colonoscopy”. This utilizes CT scanning. Dr.Yee, from the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, did a prospective study where 500 men were studied with an average age of 62.5 years.
200 of them had an average risk for colon cancer; the remainder was at a high risk for colon cancer. The surprising finding was that many disease conditions were found (315 patients or 63%) that were not related to the colon at all, such as renal cysts and hiatal hernias. These were considered to be clinically not important. However another 50 patients (8.4%) were found to have liver lesions, pulmonary nodules, aneurysms and renal tumors, which were largely unknown and were thought to be clinically very significant.
Dr. Judy Yee said that it takes a trained radiologist to interpret these CT scan findings, but that this method of screening would be very cost effective. Looking for the additional life threatening conditions in the routine virtual colonoscopy added only about 28 $ per CT examination and was considered to be very cost effective. The clinically important extra-findings were equally distributed between the high and low risks for colon cancer. Dr. Yee summed up by saying that she hopes that many more Americans would come in for virtual colonoscopy as part of colorectal cancer screening.

Virtual Colonoscopy May Help Find Other Disease

Virtual Colonoscopy May Help Find Other Disease

The advantage is that this is less invasive than a conventional colonoscopy procedure, but at the same time that colon cancer is screened for the radiologist may pick up other clinically relevant medical problems.

More info about colon cancer:  http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/colon-cancer/

Reference: Radiology 2005;236:519-526.

Last edited October 29, 2014

Apr
01
2005

Sweet Alcohol Has Bitter Consequences

Aggressive marketing of sugar/alcohol, called “girlie drinks” or “alcopops”, are luring young girls into alcohol consumption. Colorful commercials convey the image of fun and sexy drinks, and as a result, the percentage of girls who drink is more on the rise than boys. The American Medical Association has conducted two teen surveys, and discovered some troublesome facts:
-Approximately one third of teen girls have tried the aggressively marketed alcopops.
-About one in six were sexually active after drinking.
-One quarter has driven after drinking or ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking.
-The average age of the first alcoholic drink is now 13.
It is obvious from the marketing content, that alcoholic beverage marketers go after young teens, reported Dr. Bob Mann PhD, senior scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

This advertising is highly effective, as it was observed in a study, which was conducted several years ago. Young males were questioned two months after a brewery launched an advertising campaign for a high-alcohol beer that was geared towards young males. 66% of underage drinkers were consuming the product.

Sweet Alcohol Has Bitter Consequences

Sweet Alcohol Has Bitter Consequences

In Canada federal and provincial governments are out of the regulation of alcohol advertising. It is essential that parents, educators and family physicians point out the hazards of excessive alcohol use long before the first drink is sampled. An American Medical Association poster shows a young girl taking a swallow from a bottle. The headline warns: “Girlie Drinks…women’s diseases”, and the list of diseases are shown: brain damage, STD’s, heart problems, liver disease, and menstrual disorders.

More information about alcoholism and the effects of alcohol on the body: http://nethealthbook.com/drug-addiction/alcoholism/

Reference: Medical Post, March 1, 2005, page 23

Last edited October 27, 2014

Mar
01
2005

Liver Cirrhosis Threatens Overweight Children

Generally the condition of liver cirrhosis has been associated with excessive alcohol intake, and the victims have been adults.
A similar condition is the fatty infiltration of the liver, where the function becomes impaired through the growth of fatty tissue, which replaces healthy tissue. In its worst form this non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can advance to cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. So far this devastating course of illness has been seen in adults, but it is not confined to the adult population. The most important risk factor for this disease is obesity, and with one in three children in Canada now overweight, the previous adult-only disease is now affecting kids. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is now the most common cause of abnormal liver tests.

Dr. Ariel Feldstein, a pediatric gastroenterologist from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester reports that the average age of children with these symptoms is about 12, which is an alarmingly low age for this picture. There is also a warning, that children do not even have to sport a sky-high body-mass index (BMI). The risk is already significant with a high BMI.The most direct approach to prevent type 2 diabetes and fatty-liver disease in children has to start within the family. Instead of singling out the child it is important to work together as a family to become healthier. The terms”fat”, “chubby”, “exercise” and “diet” are less conducive to improvement than “physical activity” and “better nutrition”. Consistent minor changes are also more important than crash diets that come and go.

Liver Cirrhosis Threatens Overweight Children

Liver Cirrhosis Threatens Overweight Children

Eating more vegetables and fruit, not eating and snacking mindlessly in front of the TV, eating together as a family and preparing healthy snacks instead of tossing a cookie bar or a bag of chips into the lunch bag are all ways that benefit the entire family.
A study from Dr. Robert Berkowitz at the Children’s’ Hospital of Philadelphia affirms even more, that prevention has to start with the parents: children born to overweight mothers have a higher risk of following the pattern of having a high body mass index than those whose parents were normal weight.

More information about liver cirrhosis: http://nethealthbook.com/digestive-system-and-gastrointestinal-disorders/liver-cirrhosis/

Reference: The Medical Post, February 15, 2005, page 21

Last edited October 27, 2014

Dec
01
2004

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

Gallbladder problems rank fairly high among health problems in Canada: nearly 20% of women and 10% of men harbor gallstones.  According to the Canadian Liver Foundation certain racial groups have an even higher incidence: in the aboriginal population between 70 and 80% are affected. Statistics in the US would be similar.
Leaders in gallstone research at Harvard Medical School came up with new studies recently from the large scale Health Professional Follow-up and the Nurses Health study with respect to how eating habits influence the formation of gallstones.

Dr. Chung-Jyi Tsai and colleagues examined the relationship between nut consumption and the risk of gallstone disease. Men who consumed about 5 oz of nuts per week had a significant decrease in gallstone development than those who ate less than 1 oz per month. Women fared similarly. The 20-year study involving 80,718 female nurses found that women who consumed at least 5 oz of nuts per week had a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones requiring gall bladder surgery than those who rarely ate nuts or nut butter. It turned out that not all nuts have equal benefits. Peanuts decreased the risk only by 19%, peanut butter consumption decreased the risk by 15%, whereas other nuts lowered the risk for gallstones by 35%. Nuts offer this prevention due to a combination of fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, as well as magnesium and beneficial plant chemicals. Fats as “the good guys” in gallstone prevention may sound like a novel idea, but there are differences in fats: it is the monounsaturated fats and the polyunsaturated fats that are the winners. They are the ones that are found in nuts or vegetables, but not in meat.

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

The coauthor of the Harvard study, Dr. Edward Giovanucci, points out, that a diet that is high in saturated fat (the fat which prevails in meat products) and high in refined carbohydrates (bakery products, pasta, sugar) increases the risk of gallstones. It also depends on the dosage: those who consumed a diet high in insoluble fiber decreased the risk by 17%. So, what is the reason? Insoluble fiber acts like a broom that sweeps waste out of the intestinal tract faster than a diet that lacks fiber. It also reduces the bile acid secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides (harmful blood fat levels). The good news is, that you can get it all at a local supermarket. Nuts, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, whole grains like cracked wheat (as opposed to flour), beans, apples, berries and pears are all good and inexpensive sources.

For more info on gallstones: http://nethealthbook.com/digestive-system-and-gastrointestinal-disorders/gallbladder-disease/cholelithiasis/

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, November 30,2004, page 13

Last edited October 27, 2014

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Dec
01
2003

Help For Patients With Iron Overload

Patients who are born with an inborn enzyme defect that leads to iron overload (hemochromatosis) and others with secondary hemochromatosis due to sickle cell anemia will benefit from new research by Dr. Gavin Oudit, Dr. Peter Backx, Dr. Peter Liu and others. The researchers at the University of Toronto and Toronto General Hospital have published their findings in the Sept. 15 issue of Nature Medicine.

In animal experiments they found that the same calcium channels that transport calcium to vital organs are also the channels through which poisonous levels of iron are introduced with iron overload disease. In both animal experiments and in the clinical situation, human iron overload affects mainly the pancreas, the heart muscle and the pituitary gland. The authors of this study found that in hemochromatosis patients the calcium channel blockers, such as amlodipine (Norvasc), verapamil or diltiazem will stop the accumulation of toxic levels of iron in these organs.

Dr. Peter Backx, professor of physiology and medicine at U of T in the Heart & Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence and senior author of the paper, explained that more detailed research determined that the L-type calcium channels that play a role in the normal calcium transport across the cell membrane are the same channels that allow the iron molecules into the heart muscle cells and into the cells of the other organs that get damaged with hemochromatosis. By using calcium channel blockers, heart drugs that are already on the market, it is possible to prevent accumulation of iron to the point of toxic levels. Up to now the only approach to therapy was to remove excessive iron from the body by expensive iron chelation medication that had to be given intravenously.

Help For Patients With Iron Overload

Further clinical trials on a larger patient population are necessary to determine who will benefit most from this approach of treating iron overload conditions with calcium channel blockers and what dosage to take. Dr. Peter Liu is another senior author regarding this study and is a cardiologist at the Toronto General Hospital and director of the Heart & Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence and professor of medicine and physiology at U of T. He stated that this alternative therapy for heart failure from iron overload cardiomyopathy will likely open the doors for those patients worldwide who could not afford to have expensive chelation done, which is presently the only treatment method to remove the excessive iron. People of North American, European, Mediterranean or Asian descent are more prone to genetic hemochromatosis, thalassemia and sickle cell anemia that can all lead to iron overload requiring this type of therapy.

Last edited December 9, 2012