• Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

    Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

    A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group stated that poor diets threaten Americans and cause diseases. More than 500,000 people in the US are dying every year because of poor nutrition. 46% of adults have unhealthy diets; but children have even more, namely 56%. In 1979 the US healthcare cost was 6.9% of the … [Read More...]

  • Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

    Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

    Research on white women aged 70 years or older found that eating fish protects the brain from air pollution. Dr. Ka He from the Columbia University of New York published the new study on July 15, 2020 in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. 1,315 women who did … [Read More...]

  • The Immune System Changes With Age

    The Immune System Changes With Age

    When we are young, we do not think about our immune system, but the immune system changes with age. When we are older than age 60, we notice that we may be taking longer to recover from a flu. How does the immune system work? There are two parts to the immune system, the innate immune system and the adaptive … [Read More...]

  • Key Factors for Centenarians

    Key Factors for Centenarians

    A study from Washington State University (WSU) showed some of the key factors for centenarians to survive. The publication of the study goes back to June 17, 2020. In general, it was common knowledge that genetics plays a role in 25% to 35% of centenarians for their survival. That is to say, the remainder is the … [Read More...]

  • Fat Deposits Mean Higher Covid-19 Risk

    Fat Deposits Mean Higher Covid-19 Risk

    A new study showed that fat deposits mean higher Covid-19 risk. This study was reviewed here. The article is based on the June 10, 2020 publication of the British Medical Journal. They did large population studies showing that obesity is an independent risk factor for severe disease and death from Covid-19. … [Read More...]

  • Probiotics and a Phage Blend for Digestive Problems

    Probiotics and a Phage Blend for Digestive Problems

    In general, probiotics and a phage blend for digestive problems can help patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is important to realize that about ¾ of Americans suffer from digestive problems. They develop symptoms of gas, bloating, diarrhea and stomach pains. To put it another way, about 1 in 7 Americans … [Read More...]

    Aug
    01
    2004

    Too Much Fat Fuels Metabolic Syndrome

    In a review article for physicians from the St. Michael’s Hospital of the University of Toronto (see reference below) Dr. Monge outlined some of the newer human research where links were found between the lining of the blood vessels and the hormones produced by fat cells that lead to the complications of the metabolic syndrome. In obese people there is a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, lipid abnormalities and high insulin levels, which is known as “metabolic syndrome”. Another name that was used for this condition in the 1990’s was “syndrome of insulin resistance”.

    Dr. Monge pointed out that blood vessel health depends on the fine balance between two opposing forces. On the one hand there is a system that leads to blood vessel spasm, blood clotting, growth promoting, inflammation causing and oxidizing. On the other hand there is a system that is responsible for blood vessel relaxation, growth inhibition, blood clot dissolving, inhibiting inflammation and antioxidant activity. Complex changes occur in our metabolism when we put on pounds and accumulate too much fat. It is important to realize that fat is not just sitting there, but is composed of highly active fat cells that respond to insulin and growth factors and in turn produce a number of hormones and factors that affect the cells that are lining the blood vessels. Inflammatory cytokines are produced by fat cells that attack the blood vessels by producing atheromatous plaques, causing them to accumulate fat again and help in the processes that lead to rupture of the plaques.

    Too Much Fat Fuels Metabolic Syndrome

    Too Much Fat Fuels Metabolic Syndrome

    The end result is that the deadly interplay between the fat cells and the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels tips the balance between the two systems mentioned above to the point where heart attacks and strokes suddenly occur.

    There are two complex pathways that are involved in this process and that are linked to what was stated above. One crucial aspect of this involves nitric oxide, a small molecule that is normally produced by the endothelial lining cells and that is needed for normal circulation of the heart muscle, skeletal muscles and internal organs. This protective system is where much of the derangement of normal metabolism occurs with regard to the metabolic syndrome.

    Dr. Monge pointed out that with these newer insights into the complex metabolic changes associated with the metabolic syndrome in obese people, there will be very practical results in the near future. Anti-inflammatory medications are already being utilized and some of the anti-diabetic medications have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks. It is hoped that sensitive tests will be developed to measure the hidden endothelial dysfunction at a time when preventative steps are still effective or early intervention can be done.

    More info on the metabolic syndrome: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/metabolic-syndrome/

    Reference: Metabolic Syndrome Rounds (April 2004): J.C. Monge “Endothelial Dysfunction and the metabolic syndrome”

    Last edited Oct. 26, 2014

    Aug
    01
    2004

    Citrus Fruit Peel Lowering Cholesterol

    New research from London/Ontario in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculature has shown that in hamsters cholesterol can be reduced by about 35% through a diet that contains compounds derived from orange peel.

    A development company (KGH Syndergize, London/Ont.) under the lead researcher, Dr. Elzbieta Kurowska (PhD), has identified the active compounds in the peels of oranges or tangerines that are having cholesterol lowering properties. They are a group of substances known under the name of “polymethoxylated flavones” (PMFs) and have the advantage that they have no side-effects. They are naturally occuring and have been part of the food chain that our bodies are used to.

    The research results were recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, which is a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society.

    The animal and cell line experiments showed that the liver cell metabolism of cholesterol is changed so that bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) is lowered, but the good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) is unaffected. When hamsters were fed a diet with 1% PMFs their LDL blood levels were lowered by 32% to 40%.

    Citrus Fruit Peel Lowering Cholesterol

    Citrus Fruit Peel Lowering Cholesterol

    The experiments were so successful that there is now a human trial on the way where the longterm effects of PMFs on LDL levels is being followed. Dr. Kurowska cautioned that drinking orange or tangerine juice would be having many beneficial health effects. But in order to get the cholesterol lowering effect that you can achieve with the citrus peel PMF supplement you would have to consume about 20 cups of orange or tangerine juice every day.

    Reference: The Medical Post, Vpl. 40 (June 22, 2004): page 18

    Last edited December 8, 2012

    Aug
    01
    2004

    Electronic Nose Smells Sickness

    Sniffing out disease has become a reality with a new device called Cyranose 320.
    This electronic “nose” is able to recognize bacteria by sampling a patient’s breath.
    The device has been tested and found to be quite accurate, as it was able to successfully diagnose 92 % of pneumonia cases in 25 patients.

    This hand-held little invention costs about $8,000, and has been fitted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania with a smart chip, which is capable of learning chemical “smellprints” of different bacteria. A further study showed that the Cyranose was also able to diagnose sinusitis- the most common respiratory complaint in US outpatient clinics.
    This electronic nose will show its value for early detection of pneumonia in the intensive care unit, where patients on ventilators can be safely and quickly tested. About 25 % of these patients on the average develop pneumonia, and the lead researcher of the first study, Dr. William Hanson III, emphasizes that early recognition of pneumonia and avoiding wrong diagnoses is crucial for the swift treatment of pneumonia, which can be life saving.

    Electronic Nose Smells Sickness

    Electronic Nose Smells Sickness

    Reference: National Review of Medicine (Canada), June 30, 2004, page 5

    Last edited December 8, 2012

    Jul
    01
    2004

    Gene Therapy Can Repair Blood Vessels

    When the first attempt of gene therapy were made, a concoction of LDL- receptor genes was infused into the portal vein of patients with a family trait of high cholesterol levels. This was back in 1989, and the results at that point were not encouraging.
    In the meantime advances have been made in genetic research. Dr. Duncan Stewart of the cardiology department of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto who is considered by many as the guru of cardiac gene therapy, reports that we are now “at a crucial stage of the field”. He cautions, that having the gene on hand is only part of the answer. For good results it is also important to understand how the delivery system to the diseased organ works.

    Gene therapy stands out from other treatment options, because instead of drugs, DNA is provided. DNA itself is not the therapeutic agent. It penetrates the cells where it sets up shop and produces proteins, which are needed for therapy. In the case of heart disease, where heart vessels are blocked or have been damaged, the idea is to send specific DNA sequences to the heart cells and stimulate the production of growth factors. These growth factors would trigger new heart vessels to grow and take over for damaged or blocked vessels. This is not just a dream of a research team: a gene therapy trial – the only one of its kind in Canada – is on its way under the leadership of Dr. Stewart. This ambitious project was launched in 2002. In seven sites across Canada 110 patients with heart disease are receiving the vascular endothelial growth factor gene (VEGF for short). The gene is being directly injected into the areas of the heart where blood vessels have become diseased or blocked. The placement is measured with a mapping system known as NOGA. At the end of the year the study enrolment will be finished. Patients will be followed up for results 6 months later. This therapy promises long lasting effects, but it  still has a long way to go.

    Gene Therapy Can Repair Blood Vessels

    Gene Therapy Can Repair Blood Vessels

    Dr. Robert Hegele from the Blackburn Cardiovascular Genetic Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario is credited with uncovering eight genes for human disease (four of them are related to cardiovascular illness) and 80 mutations in other genes that are contributing to premature heart disease and diabetes. Dr. Hegel’s interest is to discover the villains that predispose people to illness, but at the same time he cautions that genes are not everything. Being genetically susceptible does not necessarily foretell one’s destiny when it comes to developing heart disease. Dr. Hegele emphasizes that the longer he works in the genetic field, the more he respects environment and lifestyle and finds that most people can even overturn genetic susceptibility and he leaves us with the final remark: “Tell your patients to stay away from tobacco, eat wisely and get that needed exercise.”

    More info on arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries): http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/atherosclerosis-the-missing-link-between-strokes-and-heart-attacks/

    Reference: The Medical Post June 29, 2004 (Vol. 40, No.26): page 35

    Comment (July 9, 2012): Note that this trial failed to show effectiveness as indicated in the paper below. So, eat wisely, exercise and don’t smoke.

    VEGF gene therapy fails to improve perfusion of ischemic myocardium in patients with advanced coronary disease: results of the NORTHERN trial. Stewart DJ, Kutryk MJ, Fitchett D, Freeman M, Camack N, Su Y, Della Siega A, Bilodeau L, Burton JR, Proulx G, Radhakrishnan S; NORTHERN Trial Investigators. Mol Ther. 2009 Jun;17(6):1109-15. Epub 2009 Apr 7.

    Last edited Oct. 26, 2014

    Jul
    01
    2004

    Beer A Red Flag For Gout

    For centuries gout has been known as the affliction of the affluent. The Greek physician Hippocrates first described it as “the disease of the kings”. In the meantime the illness has jumped social boundaries, as the over consumption of meats and alcohol will occur in all population groups.

    In its April 17 issue the British medical paper”The Lancet” shows the first publication on the link between alcohol and gout. Dr. Hyon Choi of the rheumatology unit of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, headed a study that showed that moderate amounts of wine did not pose a risk for gout. It was the beer drinkers that were headed for trouble! Those who drank more than two 350 ml cans or bottles of beer per day had a 2.5 times higher risk of developing gout than nondrinkers. People who had 2 shots of liquor a day ran a risk that was 1.6 times higher than those who did not drink. Moderate wine drinkers had the same risk of developing gout as nondrinkers, as long as they did not overindulge: 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day were the limit! It is not clear at this point, which would be the noxious substance in beer and spirits that is responsible for attacks of gout, and moderation is still in order for all wine lovers!

    Beer A Red Flag For Gout

    Beer A Red Flag For Gout

    More info about gout: http://nethealthbook.com/arthritis/gout/

    Reference: National Review Of Medicine, May 15,2004, pg.10

    Last edited Oct. 26, 2014

    Jul
    01
    2004

    New Asthma Drug Works Slowly But Surely

    Patients with severe asthma will have a new treatment option. A new medication under the name omalizumab has been studied in clinical trials by Dr. Jean Bousquet of Arnaud de Villeneuve Hospital in Montpellier, France.

    In the study it was also determined which patients would benefit most of the new drug. The results are very encouraging: those patients who had the least success with other asthma medications had the best response. However, it is not an instant response. 67 % of the patients showed a good response after 4 weeks of treatment. 87 % of patients showed a response only after having been on the medication for 12 weeks. As a result of this trial it was determined, that patients with asthma should be treated with omalizumab for at least 12 weeks. FDA approval for difficult to manage cases of allergic asthma came in June of 2003 (trade name Xolair, manufacturer: Genentech, Inc). On the other hand, patience is also of essence: if the medication is only administered for a month, a lot of patients with difficult to treat asthma will miss out on the beneficial effects, as opposed to those who persist and reap significant improvement after 12 weeks. One of the downsides of the medicine is the possibility of anaphylactic reactions.

    Reference: National Review of Medicine, May 15, 2004, pg. 27

    New Asthma Drug Works Slowly But Surely

    New Asthma Drug Works Slowly But Surely

    More information about asthma: http://nethealthbook.com/lung-disease/asthma-introduction/

    Here is a NEJM article (case study involving omalizumab)

    Last edited Oct. 26, 2014

    Jul
    01
    2004

    Insomnia Sufferers Will Get Help

    People with chronic insomnia not only have difficulties to get a good rest at night. If they reach for the currently available sleeping medications, their days start with a drug-induced mild “hangover”: they feel drowsy for a few hours, and once they discontinue the medication, withdrawal can be a problem.

    A new medication by the name of indiplon to treat chronic insomnia will be a safer, more effective form of medicine for patients with sleep disorders, reports Dr. James Walsh (PhD). He is an executive director and senior scientist at St. Luke’s Hospital and the Unity Sleep Medicine Center in St. Louis. Dr. Walsh reports that the new medication has a very short half-life, meaning, that it is out of the body, by the time the patient wakes up in the morning. A 35-day trial showed that it is not only safe and effective, but also suitable to treat patients who have trouble falling asleep and those who have trouble sleeping through the night.
    More studies are needed, before the medication will be available in the U.S. (conditional approved in 2007 in the US, see link above) and in Canada. Here is a more extensive review regarding this complex new sleeping pill.

    Reference: The Medical Post, May 25, 2004, pg. 16

    Insomnia Sufferers Will Get Help

    Insomnia Sufferers Will Get Help

    Comment on Nov. 5, 2012: It appears that there are problems with long-term safety studies that were never completed. I would suggest to stick to over-the-counter melatonine proparations in the 1 mg to 3 mg range. Melatonine is safe as it is a body hormone. Prescription hypnotics (as sleeping pills are called) are problematic as they do not fit into the body chemistry receptor-wise. No problems there with melatonine.

    Last edited December 8, 2012

    Jul
    01
    2004

    Flu Shots For Young Children And Pregnant Moms

    It may be summer, but next winter will be there and along with it the threat of flus.
    Flu shots are offered in fall, and especially people with health problems (like asthma or diabetes, just to name a few) and seniors have been the primary target groups for public vaccination programs. U.S. health authorities now have also added young children under 2 to the program.

    This step has been taken, as babies and young children are at a substantially increased risk for influenza-related hospitalizations.
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has just release a new recommendation, that all women who are pregnant during the influenza season should get flu shots. Pregnant women who contract influenza frequently have an increased rate of complications, including pneumonia, tachycardia (rapid heart beat), and contractions.
    Even though most pregnant women are young and healthy, their hospital admission rate during the flu season is similar to what you see in the elderly.
    Statistics show that generally only 12% of women with uncomplicated pregnancies get vaccinated. With the threat of a severe strain of influenza A, which showed its aggressive and widespread activity last winter, it can be expected that there will be an increased demand for flu shots this year.

    Flu Shots For Young Children And Pregnant Moms

    Flu Shots For Young Children And Pregnant Moms

    References: The Medical Post, May 18, 2004, pg. 8 and 9

    Last edited December 8, 2012

    Jun
    01
    2004

    Eczema – More Than Skin Deep

    Dermatologists have seen more than a threefold increase of eczema in the last thirty years. The condition is common especially in childhood. Skin irritants can play a role. Dr. Harvey Lui, Professor for Dermatology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, also observed, that eczema is much more common in the Asian population. Patients who came from the warmer climate of Southeast Asia and are exposed to a harsher, colder climate will get into trouble more easily, as dryness of the skin will aggravate the skin condition.

    Dr. Lui also stresses, that patient education about sensible skin care is of great importance. Fighting fire with fire – like taking a hot shower to combat itchy and dry skin- will make things worse in the long run. Inflamed skin needs to be kept cool. Dr. Lui also stresses that skin has to be kept from drying out. These simple measures for which no prescription is needed are often neglected.

    In severe cases the traditional steroid cream has been replaced by preparations, which have an effect on the immune response. Dr. Lui explains that eczema is partially an exaggerated response of the immune system to whatever is noxious or irritating in the environment. The medication tacrolimus (Prograf) is a naturally derived compound that makes the immune cells (T-cells) less active, as they are responsible for the overactive response. It is called an “immunomodulator”.

    Eczema - More Than Skin Deep

    Eczema – More Than Skin Deep

    Due to this knowledge more treatment options are available than in the past. Atopic eczema is very often combined with asthma and allergies and tends to run in families. As the immune system gets strengthened during childhood, eczema tends to be worse in the young person, and time can be the greatest ally in the healing process.

    More info on skin rashes: http://nethealthbook.com/dermatology-skin-disease/skin-rash/

    Reference: 1. The Medical Post, March 2, 2004 (p.2 and 65) 2. “Guidelines of care for atopic dermatitis”
    Hanifin J – J Am Acad Dermatol – 2004 Mar; 50(3), p.391

    Last edited Oct. 26, 2014

    Jun
    01
    2004

    New Antibody Treatment For Colon Cancer

    The drug Cetuximab landed Martha Stewart in the middle of an insider-trading scandal back in December of 2001. Inside information stated that the FDA had turned down the application for this drug in December. However, now there is good news for patients.

    The FDA has recently approved the drug, also known as Erbitux. The medication offers treatment for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who are not tolerating chemotherapy with irinotecan. The most innovative feature of Erbitux is the fact, that it is the first-of-its-kind antibody that inhibits a specific protein, which in turn stops cell division of cancer cells. Clinical trials that were done in Europe consisted of testing stage III colorectal cancer patients with irinotecan (chemotherapeutic agent) alone or in combination with Cetuximab (equivalent of Erbitux). The survival advantage was almost 9 months better in the combination group. Cetuximab alone also had a certain effect, but was not as good as the combination therapy. In the next few years more of these new antibody therapies will be tested in clinical trials to check out the safety and the effectiveness in various cancer types.

    New Antibody Treatment For Colon Cancer

    New Antibody Treatment For Colon Cancer

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

    Based on a paper by Harris M – Lancet Oncol – 01-MAY-2004; 5(5): 292-302: “Monoclonal antibodies as therapeutic agents for cancer”.

    Last edited October 26, 2014