By jeremyc | February 1, 2015
According to a new study, heavy drinking may be more dangerous for middle-aged people than diabetes and high blood pressure. The study found that middle-aged people who drank over two alcoholic beverages every day had a greater risk of stroke than either of the two aforementioned chronic conditions.
The study was led by Pavla Kadlecová, MSc, a statistician at the St. Anne’s University Hospital International Clinical Research Center in the Czech Republic. Apart from a high risk of stroke, heavy drinkers also suffered from stroke around five years earlier than people who drank less.
Kadlecová said, “We now have a clearer picture about these risk factors, how they change with age and how the influence of drinking alcohol shifts as we get older. For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later productive age (about 60s).”
The study involved the assessment of data on over 11,000 middle-aged twins in Sweden. The data spanned 43 years. On analysis, it was found that the twins who had a stroke also drank more than their other twins who did not suffer from a stroke. Heavy drinkers were found to have a 34 percent greater risk of stroke five years later.
By jeremyc | January 31, 2015
A recent study has found that NFL players who began playing football before they were 12 years old had more severe cognitive impairment.
The study on former NFL players who cognitive and memory problems was led by Robert A. Stern, PhD, of the Boston University School of Medicine.
Stern said, “Our study suggests that there may be a critical window of brain development during which repeated head impacts can lead to thinking and memory difficulties later in life. If larger studies confirm this association, there may be a need to consider safety changes in youth sports.”
He, however, stressed, “There are tremendous benefits of participating in youth team sports. The goal [of this study] is to make them safer.”
The study involved 42 NFL players who had had thinking and memory issues for a minimum of six months. They had an average age of 52 years. They underwent various mental ability tests. On analysis of the results, those who began playing football before they were 12 years old had performed around 20 percent worse than those who played football afterwards. However, both groups were found to have scored below the general average.
The researchers noted that the study focused solely on NFL players, who play more football in general than the average person. Therefore, the results of this study may not directly translate to the general public.
By jeremyc | January 30, 2015
According to a new study, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may be dangerous for healthy women, and not just for reproduction. The study tied PCOS with an increased risk in diabetes, uterine lining cancer, heart disease and various mental health conditions.
The study researchers said that women may need more health resources given the increased risk of these chronic diseases linked to PCOS. Study author Roger Hart, MD said, “PCOS has profound implications for a women’s reproductive health as well as her long-term risk of chronic illness. Our study indicates women who have PCOS have twice as many hospital admissions as women without the condition. Additional health care resources should be directed to address the risks facing this population.”
Hart added, “We found women who have PCOS are particularly prone to developing metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Since only 25 percent of the women we studied were older than 40, we anticipate the rate of diagnosis would rise as these women continue to age.”
PCOS is a hormone disorder commonly seen in women who are of reproductive age. It has long been associated with a negative impact on women’s reproduction; in fact, it is the leading cause for infertility in women.
This study was done by Hart and Dorota A. Doherty, PhD, of the School of Women’s and Infants’ Health at the University of Western Australia in Crawley. They looked at data on over 2,500 women who were diagnosed with PCOS. They found that women with PCOS had a greater risk of miscarriages, endometrioses, ectopic pregnancies and uterine lining cancer. They also had a greater risk of high blood pressure, asthma, musculoskeletal disorders, asthma, heart disease and late onset diabetes.
By jeremyc | January 29, 2015
A new review has found that the benefits of testosterone treatment may outweigh its potential heart disease risks. Testosterone treatment has recently been scrutinized for its potential heart health risks.
The review was led by Sandeep Singh, MD, a board certified internist and cardiologist on the medical staff at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital. In the past, several major studies have pointed out that testosterone treatment can have a negative impact on heart health. Public perception of these risks can prevent many people from seeking testosterone treatment.
The researchers of this review noted that they had reservation about the conclusions of these past studies. Singh said, “The results of this study do not really change the way a clinician should think about testosterone replacement therapy. Without a large scale randomized double-blind study, we cannot conclusively say one way or another about the relationship between [testosterone] replacement and risk of heart disease or stroke.”
Singh noted that the data assessed for this review was mostly taken from past events or were observational. As a result, the data can be misleading due to unaccountable factors and bias. Singh noted that in 1990s, hormone replacement therapy similarly saw studies that indicated that it could protect women from bone and heart problems. A 2002 large-scale randomized study, however, indicated that it had a greater risk of thromboembolism, stroke and heart disease.
Singh said, “When making a decision about any medical treatment (whether it’s testosterone replacement or other medications), the decision should only be made with a licensed MD who can carefully weigh the risk and benefit of the intervention based on the patient’s individual needs.”
By jeremyc | January 28, 2015
According to a new study, a high dose of anticholinergic medicines can increase dementia risk in older adults.
The study was led by author Shelly L. Gray, PharmD, of the University of Washington in Seattle. Gray said, “Prescribers should be aware of this potential association when considering anticholinergics for their older patients and should consider alternatives when possible. For conditions with no therapeutic alternatives, prescribers should use the lowest effective dose and discontinue therapy if ineffective.”
The study looked at pharmacy data on close to 3,500 patients who were over 65 years old. Close to a quarter of those who were using anticholinergics were found to have developed dementia over the follow-up period. Close of 80 percent of these patients developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Anticholinergic medications are indicated for incontinence, depression, allergies and sleep disorders. This class of medications includes antihistamines such as Atarax and Benadryl and anti-depressants such as Sinequan.
Gray said, “For most conditions, there are alternatives to anticholinergics. Older adults should avoid using over-the-counter sleep aids which often include strong anticholinergics.” She added, “For older adults with urinary incontinence, nondrug therapy should be tried first. However, if nondrug therapy does not provide full improvement in symptoms and anticholinergic therapy is warranted, health care providers should use the lowest effective dose, monitor the therapy regularly to ensure it’s working, and stop the therapy if it’s ineffective.”
By jeremyc | January 27, 2015
According to a new study, prostate cancer patients who had a smoking habit also had an increased risk of cancer recurrence and spreading. Also, past and current smokers had more radiotherapy side effects.
The study was led by Michael J. Zelefsky, MD, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, who said, “Upwards of 50 percent of smokers with cancer continue to smoke after their diagnosis.” He added, “Given the increased risk of prostate cancer progression and radiation toxicity among smokers, a stronger emphasis on smoking cessation is clearly appropriate.”
The researchers suggested several reasons for the tie between smoking and increased risk. Fox Chase Cancer Center’s surgical oncologist Alexander Kutikov, MD, said, “We must be cautious not to over-interpret the data. Correlation does not always mean causality.”
For this study, the researchers looked at data on over 2,300 patients with prostate cancer, all of whom underwent radiotherapy for their condition. The patients were categories as non-smokers, current smokers, former smokers and unknown current smokers.
On analysis over an eight-year period, the researchers found that the chances of cancer non-recurrence over 10 years was 66 percent among non-smokers, 63 percent among past smokers and 52 percent among current smokers. Also, those who smoked had an over twofold increase in the risk of cancer spreading or of dying of cancer, as compared to non-smokers and past smokers. Moreover, past and current smokers reported more side effects from radiotherapy than non-smokers, with most side effects in their urinary tract.
By jeremyc | January 26, 2015
A new study has found that the severity of postpartum depression in women may be tied to the time when they begin to suffer from it during pregnancy and the reason for their depression.
The study was led by Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program, Center for Women’s Mood Disorders, University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine. Meltzer-Brody said, “We now understand that postpartum depression can have onset of symptoms that may begin in pregnancy.”
The study found that women who started suffering from depression during their pregnancy had the higher risk of having severe depression. Meltzer-Brody said, “We are now working to apply our findings from this work to future biological and genetic studies of depression in women across the [time before and after giving birth].”
She added, “At the very least, these women must be closely followed by the obstetrical provider as they are at higher risk. Screening for psychiatric symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety should be done. Some women will require a mental health referral.”
The study looked at data on close to 18,000 women from the Postpartum Depression: Action Towards Causes and Treatment (PACT) study. They used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) for measuring depression severity.
On analysis, the researchers found that women who began suffering from postpartum depression during pregnancy had a greater risk of severe depression, and they also had a higher risk of suffering complications during birth. Those who were depressed after birth were more likely to have a less severe case of depression.
By jeremyc | January 25, 2015
According to a new study, daily drinking can increase the risk of cirrhosis in men more than lifetime alcohol drinking and less frequent drinking. The study also found that wine increased the risk by a smaller extent than beer and liquor.
The study was led by Gro Askgaard, MD, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, who said, “Regarding alcoholic cirrhosis, daily drinking compared to drinking less frequently - for instance, drinking five to six days a week - increases the risk for the same amount of alcohol ingested per week.”
Thus, men who drank five-six days a week saw a significant decrease in cirrhosis risk, as compared to those who drank every day. A total of 30 cirrhosis cases were found among those who drank five-six days a week, as compared to the 171 cases found among daily drinkers. A total of 56,000 patients aged 50-64 years were part of the study. Their data from the 1993-2011 Danish Cancer, Diet, and Health study was analyzed. Alcoholic cirrhosis was diagnosed among 257 men and 85 women.
Wine was found to be tied to a lower cirrhosis risk when consumed moderately, as compared to beer or liquor. Moderate consumption was defined as one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
The cirrhosis risk also increased with the amount of alcohol consumed. Light drinkers were found to have a higher risk as compared to abstainers.
By jeremyc | January 24, 2015
According to a new study, coffee may lower the risk of melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. More specifically, those who drank four or more cups a day had a lower risk of the cancer than coffee non-drinkers.
The study was led by Erikka Loftfield, MPH, of the National Cancer Institute. The researchers concluded, “Lifestyle modifications [like drinking more coffee] with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma.”
For this study, the researchers looked into close to 450,000 people who did not have cancer at baseline. Over a follow-up period of an average of 10.5 years, close to 3,000 developed melanoma. On analysis, it was found that those people who drank four cups of coffee or more per day had a 20 percent lower chance of getting melanoma than those who did not drink coffee at all. The lower risk was tied to caffeinated coffee, but not de-caffeinated ones.
The researchers said that caffeine or other compounds in coffee could play a part in lowering the risk of melanoma.
By jeremyc | January 23, 2015
A new research review has identified several new remedies for pain, some of which are specifically for women, like pain after breast cancer surgery or childbirth.
The review of pain management methods was conducted by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) to raise awareness among women. Author Donna-Ann Thomas, MD, an ASA Committee on Pain Medicine member, said, “I can’t tell you the number of women I see who have been told they just have to live with the pain. It’s just heart breaking because many of these women have been suffering a long time. Women, especially older women, are less likely to speak up and seek treatment for their pain.”
Thomas noted that women may not be receiving proper treatment for phantom pain, which is a type of pain that occurs after the removal of a body part, like the removal of a breast due to breast cancer. Thomas said, “It’s fairly clear-cut when someone has phantom pain after a limb amputation, but it’s often overlooked when a woman has the same pain after a mastectomy or lumpectomy and she suffers unnecessarily.”
The review looked at several studies focused on pain management in women. It found that alternative therapies worked well in some cases, like yoga for back pain and a stomach massage with rose oil for menstrual pain. In another study, some types of anesthesia were more effective than others for women. Nerve blocks and regional anesthesia, for instance, was found to be more effective than general anesthesia among women undergoing breast cancer surgery.
In one study, music was found to have improved pain management for women with labor pain, and their babies were found to have better heart rates too.