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Evidence Shows Optimism Might Lengthen Your Life

By Alan Mozes        
       HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A sunny outlook on life may do more than make you smile: New research suggests it could also guard against heart attacks, strokes and early death.

In the review of 15 studies that collectively involved almost 230,000 men and women, the findings were remarkably consistent, the study authors added.

“We found that optimists had a 35% lower risk for the most serious complications due to heart disease, compared to pessimists,” said lead author Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of cardiology at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City.

That mind-body connection held up across all age groups, said investigators, ranging from teenagers to those in their 90s. That “suggests that optimism may be an asset, regardless of age,” Rozanski noted.

The studies also found the more positive one’s outlook, the less one’s risk for heart trouble or death.

Ten of the studies specifically looked at positivity’s impact on heart health, while nine looked at how a person’s outlook affected their risk of dying from a wide range of illnesses.

Many of the investigations asked basic questions touching on expectations of the future. In response, some participants indicated that they generally felt upbeat despite the uncertainty of what’s to come. Others said they never assume that things will pan out well down the road.

Over time, those who held more positive viewpoints were more likely to remain heart-healthy.

Yet, despite suggesting that “the magnitude of this association is substantial,” Rozanski and his colleagues stressed that the review can’t prove that optimism directly protects against heart disease and premature death.

Still, the team pointed to a whole host of potential reasons why positivity — directly or indirectly — may help stave off illness.

Some of the studies in the review indicated that optimistic people are more adept at problem-solving, better at developing coping mechanisms, and more apt to realize goals. And those are the kind of skills that could drive someone to take a more active interest in monitoring and maintaining their health, the researchers said.

Continued

“Consistent study has shown that optimists have better health habits,” Rozanski noted. “They are more likely to have good diets and exercise,” and they may be less likely to smoke.

“Increasing data also suggests that optimism may have direct biological benefits, whereas pessimism may be health-damaging,” he added. “This biological connection has already been shown for some other psychological risk factors, such as depression.”

Positivity may also work its magic by lowering inflammation and improving metabolism, the authors suggested.

This is not the first study to find such a link. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August found an upbeat view of life boosted the odds of living to a ripe old age.

Looking ahead, Rozanski’s team pointed to the potential for developing new mind-body treatments, likely in the realm of behavioral therapy, designed to cut down on pessimism and boost optimism.

“However, further research will need to assess whether optimism that is enhanced or induced through directed prevention or intervention strategies has similar health benefits versus optimism that is naturally occurring,” the report cautioned.

The findings were published Sept. 27 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Dr. Jeff Huffman, director of cardiac psychiatry research at Massachusetts General Hospital, cowrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

The review provides “yet more evidence that optimism seems to be an independent predictor of superior cardiac health,” he said.

As to why that is, Huffman agreed that optimism is “associated with more physical activity, healthier diet, and a range of other healthy lifestyle behaviors, and it is likely this association that explains a lot of the benefit.”

But optimism also impacts biological processes, he added. And ultimately, “the mechanism by which optimism leads to better health is likely a combination of biology and behavior.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Alan Rozanski, M.D., professor, cardiology, department of cardiology, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City; Jeff Huffman, M.D., director, cardiac psychiatry research, Massachusetts General Hospital, and associate professor, psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Sept. 27, 2019,JAMA Network Open

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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More Evidence That Socializing Helps Protect the Aging Brain

MONDAY, July 15, 2019 — Join a book club, take a cruise or just visit friends — new research supports the notion that social activities help stave off mental decline as you age.

The study found that seniors with high levels of an Alzheimer’s-linked protein in their brains were able to slow any mental decline if they got out and socialized regularly.

So, “social engagement may be an important marker of resilience” in older adults at risk of dementia, said senior author Dr. Nancy Donovan. She’s chief of geriatric psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

In the study, researchers tracked data on 217 men and women aged 63 to 89. These seniors were all taking part in the Harvard Aging Brain Study, a trial aimed at identifying early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants started the study with no evidence of mental decline, but some had high levels of amyloid beta protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s that can be detected in brain scans.

The researchers assessed seniors’ levels of social engagement (such as spending time with friends and family, and doing volunteer work) and their mental (cognitive) function at the start of the study and again three years later.

Among seniors with high levels of amyloid beta, those with lower levels of social engagement at the start had greater mental decline after three years than those who were socially active, the findings showed.

This association was not seen among people with low levels of amyloid beta, according to the study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

“Social engagement and cognitive function are related to one another and appear to decline together,” Donovan said in a hospital news release.

Her team believes longer studies might add more insight into mental decline over time as well as Alzheimer’s progression.

“We want to understand the breadth of this issue in older people and how to intervene to protect high-risk individuals and preserve their health and well-being,” Donovan explained.

This study relied on a standard measure of social engagement that didn’t assess all the subtle effects of digital communication or all the impacts of relationships, the researchers noted.

A more comprehensive assessment could be valuable in future clinical trials of Alzheimer’s disease, the authors added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer’s disease.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019

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Here’s More Evidence Obesity Can Shorten Your Life

By E.J. Mundell

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A study that tracked the weight and survival of more than 6,000 Americans for 24 years reinforces the notion that piling on excess pounds can lead to an earlier grave.

Being statistically obese, but not simply overweight, was tied to a 27 percent increase in the odds of dying within the study period, according to a research team from Boston University.

People in the “obese” category had a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 34, with 30 being the statistical threshold for obesity. For example, a 5-foot 4-inch person weighing 175 pounds has a BMI of 30.

The risk of dying young was also higher for “very” obese people — those with a BMI of 35 to 39. People in this weight category had nearly double the odds of dying during the 24-year study period compared to people with a normal weight, said biostatistician Ching-Ti Liu and colleagues.

The study was unique, Liu’s team believes, because it wasn’t based on a person’s BMI at one point in the life span, but instead tracked people’s “weight history” over time. That should “improve the accuracy of BMI data and thus lead to better estimates of the association between obesity and mortality,” the study authors reported.

The approach did turn up one finding that may be heartening to people fighting the “battle of the bulge”: Being overweight, but not past the BMI 30 threshold for obesity, did not seem to affect life span.

The study found that overweight people could expect roughly the same survival odds as those in the normal-weight category.

“There was no difference in mortality risk for those who remained overweight and those who remained normal weight,” noted Mark Pereira, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. That could be because healthy lifestyle changes can stave off disease, even in overweight people, he suggested in a commentary accompanying the new study.

Prior studies “have clearly shown that decreases in disease incidence are possible through improved diet and physical activity among overweight and obese individuals, whether weight loss is achieved or not,” he added.

Continued

The Boston University study relied on detailed information collected every few years on the weight of nearly 6,200 adult participants in the ongoing Framingham Heart Study, with records stretching back over 24 years.

Overall, more than half (56 percent) of the study group had died by the end of 2014. Being obese or very obese seemed to have a significant impact on whether death arrived relatively early, Liu’s team found.

Because smoking could confound the results, his team also ran the numbers for only those 3,075 participants who had never smoked.

The trends appeared to be even stronger in the absence of smoking, the findings showed.

In this group, being obese was tied to 31 percent higher odds of death during the study period, while being very obese bumped up the risk to nearly 2.4 times that of normal-weight never-smokers.

Surprisingly, in the “never-smokers” group, being overweight (but not obese) did seem to have an effect in lowering life span, relative to normal-weight people.

Overall, all of these effects seemed more profound in men than in women, the researchers said.

There was one more intriguing finding: The impact obesity has on survival seems to have eased over the past few decades.

According to the Liu’s team, that may be due to better “risk factor control” — healthy lifestyle changes — or improvements in drug therapy (statins, for example), surgeries such as angioplasties or bypass, and hospital care.

All of those advances may be keeping obese Americans alive longer than in decades past, the researchers said.

Still, Pereira wrote, “the bottom line from these analyses was that the lowest mortality risk was observed among individuals who remained in the normal weight or overweight categories over time,” and never became obese.

Doing so may be becoming tougher, he added, since “to be overweight or mildly obese today, relative to four or more decades ago, appears to be the new normal.”

That doesn’t mean obese Americans are helpless to improve their health, however. According to Pereira, the study supports “lifestyle and environment changes to prevent chronic diseases and mortality among overweight and obese individuals.”

The study was published online Nov. 16 in JAMA Network Open.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: Nov. 16, 2018,JAMA Network Open, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


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No Evidence Acupuncture Boosts Fertility Treatment

TUESDAY, May 15, 2018 — Although some women may try acupuncture hoping it will help them conceive, new research suggests it won’t.

The study compared outcomes for more than 800 Australian and New Zealand women who underwent either real or “sham” acupuncture along with their in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.

The women ranged in age from 18 to 42 and underwent IVF cycles using fresh embryos, according to an Australian team led by Caroline Smith, of the NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University.

In the sham acupuncture group, needles were placed away from true acupuncture points.

Nevertheless, the study found that live birth rates really didn’t differ depending on whether a woman got the real or the sham acupuncture.

Rates for live births were 18.3 percent in the real acupuncture group and 17.8 percent for those who got the fake treatment — a statistically non-significant difference, the researchers said.

However, Smith said further study might still be needed, especially when looking at outcomes for women who received acupuncture more frequently.

And she said that the powerful “placebo” effect of acupuncture can’t be ignored. “Some studies suggest reproductive outcomes may be improved when acupuncture is compared with no treatment,” Smith noted in a university news release.

Two U.S. experts said the ancient therapy might have other benefits for stressed-out women undergoing fertility treatments.

“I believe that any method that promotes relaxation and lowers the stress levels of patients undergoing fertility treatment is blessed — whether it is acupuncture, massage, physical and sexual activity [when permitted] or seeing a professional to discuss and treat anxiety and stress,” said Dr. Tomer Singer. He directs endocrinology and infertility at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Singer also noted that acupuncture may help women deal “with bloating and nausea, which are sometimes associated with fertility drugs.”

Dr. Avner Hershlag is chief of Northwell Health Fertility in Manhasset, N.Y. The jury might still be out on acupuncture’s role in boosting fertility, because the live birth rates in the new study were too low and the study groups differed in “many important ways,” he said.

“At this point, acupuncture’s validity and how it relates to female physiology is still unknown,” Hershlag said.

The findings were published May 14 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

There’s more about infertility treatments at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: May 2018

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Abominable news: Purported yeti evidence came from bears, dog

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For fans of the yeti, newly published genetic research on purported specimens of the legendary apelike beast said to dwell in the Himalayan region may be too much to bear – literally.

FILE PHOTO: An actor dressed as a ‘Yeti’ waves from a tour bus during a promotional event for Travel Channel’s “Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti” in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. on October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Scientists said on Tuesday that genetic analysis of nine bone, tooth, skin, hair and fecal samples from museum and private collections attributed to the yeti, also called the Abominable Snowman, found that eight came from Asian black bears, Himalayan brown bears or Tibetan brown bears and one came from a dog.

“This strongly suggests that the yeti legend has a root in biological facts and that is has to do with bears that are living in the region today,” said biologist Charlotte Lindqvist of the University at Buffalo in New York and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, who led the study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Lindqvist called the study the most rigorous analysis to date of purported yeti specimens. The researchers sequenced mitochondrial DNA, genetic material in structures within cells that was passed down from mothers, of purported yeti samples from Tibet, India and Nepal as well as from black, brown and polar bear populations.

The yeti is a creature of folklore in the Himalayan region that has become a part of Western popular culture. It is separate from North America’s Sasquatch and Big Foot folklore.

FILE PHOTO: A tour bus driver watches as an actor dressed as a ‘Yeti’ walks on his bus during a promotional event for Travel Channel’s “Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti” in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. on October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

“I initially became involved in this study when I was contacted about a previous study that found two purported yeti samples to match genetically with an ancient, 120,000-year-old polar bear that I was doing research on,” Lindqvist said.

FILE PHOTO: Actors dressed as a ‘Yeti’ ride aboard a tour bus during a promotional event for Travel Channel’s “Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti” in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. on October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

“But the data was very limited, and it made me suspicious about the speculation that the yeti legend represented some strange, hybrid bear roaming the Himalaya mountains. So, I agreed to follow up on this study with a more rigorous approach based on more genetic data from more purported yeti samples,” Lindqvist added.

Lindqvist said purported yeti samples came from places including the Messner Mountain Museum in Italy and were gathered by British independent television production company Icon Films.

While no actual yeti was identified, the DNA research shed light on bear populations in the region.

The brown bears roaming the high altitudes of the Tibetan Plateau and those in the western Himalayan mountains appear to belong to two separate bear populations separated from each other for thousands of years, despite their relative geographic proximity, Lindqvist said.

Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Peter Cooney

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Reuters: Oddly Enough

More Evidence That Midlife Weight Gain Harms Your Health

TUESDAY, July 18, 2017 — For many adults, weight gain is slow and steady, but new research suggests that even a few extra pounds can boost your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

“People don’t become obese overnight,” said study lead author Dr. Frank Hu. He’s a professor in the departments of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“On average, people gain about a half a pound to a pound per year. Most people gain weight all the way to 55 and up,” Hu said. “But once you cross the obesity threshold, it’s difficult to go back. This study provides very strong evidence that prevention of weight gain is very important.”

The researchers found that for every 11 pounds gained, the risk of diabetes went up 30 percent. The same weight gain was linked to a 14 percent increased risk of high blood pressure and an 8 percent higher risk of heart disease or stroke.

Each extra 11 pounds was also associated with a 6 percent increased risk of an obesity-related cancer, a 5 percent higher risk of dying prematurely, and a 17 percent decrease in the odds of healthy aging.

For those who gained significantly more weight, the researchers found dramatic rises in the risk of chronic illness. For example, for people who gained 44 pounds or more, the odds of type 2 diabetes spiked by 10-fold compared to those who kept their weight relatively stable over the years.

The risk of high blood pressure more than doubled, and the risk of developing heart disease or stroke was almost twice as high, according to the study. However, the research did not prove that weight gain caused these conditions.

The information came from two large-scale studies of health professionals in the United States. They included almost 93,000 women whose health was followed for 18 years, and more than 25,000 men whose health was followed for 15 years.

The women were asked to recall their weight at age 18. The men recalled their weight at age 21.

At age 55, the average weight gain for women was 28 pounds and for men it was 21 pounds.

The findings were published online July 18 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. William Dietz is chair of the Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

“Virtually nothing is known about the factors that promote excess weight gain in adults,” Dietz said.

“I think one of the key periods for weight gain and weight retention is during pregnancy and the postpartum periods. There’s a significant disparity in the difference in excessive weight gain in women than men, and whether this explains that difference isn’t clear,” he said.

Dietz said it’s also unknown if changes in physical activity or nutrition from young adulthood to middle age are what’s behind the weight gain. But, more importantly, he said is that this time period represents a potential opportunity to intervene and prevent later obesity and the chronic illness that comes with it.

For example, if pregnancy is a time of significant weight gain, then obstetricians-gynecologists could play a role in obesity prevention.

“During pregnancy, gynecologists may provide weight counseling, but once a mother has delivered, she may not see the gynecologist for a while, and care shifts back to her primary care doctor, who may be uncomfortable raising the idea of obesity,” Dietz explained.

“But adult weight gain is not a benign condition. We need to help health care providers learn how to treat people with obesity,” he said.

On an individual level, both Hu and Dietz recommended monitoring your weight on a regular basis, especially during life transitions, such as getting married or becoming a parent. Step on the scale to see what you weigh, measure your waist circumference or pay attention to how your clothes fit. If you notice a change, get your weight in check sooner rather than later.

Although it’s never too late to gain health benefits from losing weight, it becomes much harder to take weight off and keep it off the heavier you get.

“If the dam is already open, the flood has already happened and it’s extremely difficult to rebuild the whole damn instead of repairing it,” Hu said.

“Prevention is much more important and much more effective. Health professionals should pay attention to even modest weight gain,” he said.

More information

Learn more about preventing weight gain from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Posted: July 2017

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Off-Label Antidepressants Common; Evidence Lacking

By Alan Mozes

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Doctors often prescribe antidepressants to tackle conditions like migraine headaches for which they aren’t technically approved. Now, researchers say such “off-label” usage mostly occurs without clear scientific evidence backing up the treatments.

A new Canadian study found that almost one-third of antidepressants are prescribed for pain, insomnia, migraine or other unapproved uses.

But just 16 percent of those off-label prescriptions were found to be supported by strong research.

Study lead author Jenna Wong described the findings as “eye-opening” but in line with the findings of prior investigations.

Wong, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology, biostatistics, and occupational health at McGill University in Montreal, said she hopes the findings raise awareness among doctors.

“Some physicians may not be aware that certain off-label antidepressant uses are not evidence-based, especially if the broader community of physicians prescribes antidepressants for these off-label uses so frequently that it seems like the norm,” she said.

Doctors prescribe off-label for other reasons as well.

In cases where the approved medication carries major side effects — such as insomnia drugs for older patients — “physicians may prescribe antidepressants instead of thinking that these drugs are safer,” Wong said.

The new findings stem from an analysis of more than 100,000 antidepressant prescriptions issued in Quebec, Canada, between 2003 and 2015. They were written by 174 Quebec doctors.

According to the study, trazodone was the most common off-label use for antidepressants. It’s often prescribed to help people sleep.

In terms of class of drugs, tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline were the most likely to be prescribed off-label. This is a common migraine treatment.

Antidepressants known as selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — including fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) — were less likely to be used off-label. That was also the case for drugs like venlafaxine (Effexor), which is a serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), the study found.

The researchers said 44 percent of the alternative drugs lacked any strong research backing up the effectiveness of the intended off-label purpose. Another 40 percent lacked evidence for the medicine at hand, but did have strong evidence supporting use of a similar drug in the same class for the intended off-label usage.

Continued

Wong said she expected “trends to be similar” in the United States, although she can’t be sure.

The results were published online Feb. 21 in BMJ.

The author of an accompanying journal editorial, Daniel Morales, pointed out that off-label use “has always happened.”

“Some off-label prescribing has strong evidence, but pharmaceutical companies may not apply for a license for a new indication because it is a complex and expensive process,” said Morales, a fellow in the school of medicine at the University of Dundee in Dundee, Scotland.

The bottom line is that “the strength of evidence for using an antidepressant for a particular patient or condition” is equally important whether the antidepressant is used “on” or “off” label, said Morales.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., cautioned against painting off-label prescribing in a broadly negative light.

The practice “invites concern and caution, but does not necessarily indicate poor choices,” he explained.

“I have prescribed off-label many times myself, and generally it was because my patient needed me to get creative to figure out how to help them when the more obvious choices had failed for various reasons,” Katz said.

He agreed that because the regulatory approval process is so expensive, drug companies often stop after acquiring approval in one area of use.

“But to be clear,” he added, “a product might work just as intended (or) hoped, even if there is no multinational randomized trial in the thousands to prove it,” Katz added.

Wong and her team suggested more research is needed to examine the effectiveness of off-label antidepressant uses.

Also, “when evidence is lacking, we encourage physicians to prescribe conservatively or engage with their patients in a shared decision-making process to decide whether taking an antidepressant is the right choice for them,” Wong added.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Jenna Wong, Ph.D. candidate, department of epidemiology, biostatistics, and occupational health, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; Daniel Morales, Ph.D., academic general practitioner and discovery fellow, school of medicine, University of Dundee,  Scotland; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H, specialist in preventive medicine and public health, Yale University, and director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn., and president, American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Chesterfield, Mo.; Feb. 21, 2017, BMJ, online

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Boston-Area Evidence Tampering Scandal Could Endanger Drug Prosecutions

Hundreds of cases may not go forward.

Here’s your daily round-up of pot-news, excerpted from the newsletter WeedWeek. Download WeedWeek’s free 2016 election guide here.

An emerging evidence-tampering scandal in Boston-suburb Braintree has jeopardized hundreds of drug prosecutions. Former inmates explain drug dealing in prison to The Daily Beast.

Some states are reducing the size of drug-free school zones, a policy that’s under new scrutiny. The State University of New York, one of the country’s largest systems, will stop asking applicants if they have a felony conviction.

Some of the prisoners granted clemency by President Obama will still have to serve months or years more of their sentences.

A man has come forward to claim that he was part of a death squad under the command of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte when the politician was mayor of Davao City. The former militiaman said the group carried out daily killings of suspected criminal. Duterte’s office denied the accusations, though as president he openly calls for vigilantes to kill drug dealers.

A U.K. dealer was incriminated by photos on his phone where he flashes huge wads of cash.

A video narrated by Jay-Z with artwork by Molly Crabapple calls the war on drugs an “ epic fail.

Singer Merle Haggard will join the weed industry posthumously. The singer of ‘Okie from Muskogee’ wasn’t always a pot fan.

Merry Jane counsels on pot-related relationship problems.

Non-psychoactive cannabis beer is becoming a thing. One company, which makes a beer called General Washington’s Secret Stash, received the first federal approval for such a product.

Variety goes through a host of new weed-themed TV and celebrity tie-ins.

Recode spoke to Keith McCarty, CEO of California delivery service Eaze. The Orange County Register asks what the $ 1 billion in tax revenue will do if California goes REC.

A chihuahua needed medical attention after eating a THC cookie. There’s a picture of a very high chihuahua.

Toke of the Town

More Evidence That Smog a Heart Threat

TUESDAY May 24, 2016, 2016 — Air pollution can worsen heart disease risk factors, especially in people with diabetes, a new study suggests.

“We found an association between air pollution exposure in the intermediate term and undesirable changes in cholesterol,” said study first author Maayan Yitshak Sade, of Ben-Gurion University and Soroka University Medical Center in Israel.

“This suggests that cumulative exposure to air pollution over the course of a lifetime could lead to elevated risk of cardiovascular disease,” Sade added.

The researchers analyzed the results of more than 600,000 blood samples taken between 2003 and 2012 from more than 73,000 adults in southern Israel. All of the participants were smokers or had been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or too low/too high levels of fat in the blood.

Those exposed to higher levels of air pollution in the previous three months had higher blood sugar levels, higher levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and fats in the blood, and lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol than those exposed to lower levels of air pollution.

In general, the link between air pollution and these heart disease risk factors was higher among people with diabetes. However, there appeared to be a protective effect among those taking diabetes medications other than insulin.

The study was published May 24 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“While air pollution is linked with relatively small changes in cardiometabolic risk factors, the continuous nature of exposure and the number of people affected gives us cause for concern,” said senior study author Dr. Victor Novack, also of Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University.

“Even small changes in glucose levels and glycemic control can contribute to increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” he said in a journal news release.

More information

The World Health Organization has more on air pollution and health.

Posted: May 2016

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

More Evidence This Drug Raises Bladder Cancer Risk

But odds are small, and experts want it to remain on market, although newer drugs are available

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) — More evidence linking the diabetes drug Actos to an increased risk of bladder cancer has surfaced in a new study that also finds the risk rises with increased use.

Actos (pioglitazone) appears to increase risk of bladder cancer by 63 percent, Canadian researchers say. The findings, published March 30 in The BMJ, stem from an analysis of nearly 146,000 patients treated between 2000 and 2013.

The data also showed that bladder cancer risk increases if Actos is used for more than two years, or if someone takes more than 28,000 milligrams over the course of their lives.

The overall risk is small, however. Still, “the more you accumulate the drug into your system, the higher the risk,” said senior researcher Laurent Azoulay, an associate professor of oncology at McGill University in Montreal.

Azoulay and his colleagues did not find a similar link between bladder cancer and Avandia (rosiglitazone), another diabetes drug in the same class of medication as Actos.

“It appears to be a drug-specific effect, not a class effect,” Azoulay said.

The maker of Actos, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, issued a strong statement in response to the study.

“Takeda is confident in the positive benefit-to-risk profile of pioglitazone. Two large, long-term observational studies found no significant increase in the risk of bladder cancer in diabetic patients taking pioglitazone. This data includes a 10-year, prospective cohort study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and Kaiser Permanente Northern California and … a large epidemiological study utilizing five European Union databases … to investigate the potential risk of bladder cancer with pioglitazone use,” said Elissa Johnsen, head of the company’s Global Product and Pipeline Communications.

Actos and Avandia are thiazolidinediones, a class of drug that helps lower blood sugar by helping the body’s cells more effectively use insulin.

Both drugs have been around since the late 1990s in the United States, Azoulay said, and each has had a troubled history.

Previous studies have linked Avandia to heart failure and heart disease, while in 2005 a clinical trial unexpectedly showed an increase in bladder cancer cases among patients taking Actos, he said.

WebMD Health

New Research Shows No Evidence Linking Head And Neck Cancer With Marijuana Smoking

A new PubMed report shows that lifelong exposure to marijuana smoke has little to no bearing on the potential of individuals developing cancer of the head or neck.

According to the recent study, researchers from the UFMG (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais) in Brazil evaluated nine case-control studies to determine if marijuana smoking promoted the growth of head and neck cancer.

Taking into consideration such variables as alcohol and tobacco use, age, race, and gender, the participating scholars confirmed that subjects who were lifelong consumers of marijuana were no more likely to develop the various forms of cancer than were subjects who abstained from smoking pot.

The study’s conclusion:

“No association between lifetime marijuana use and the development of head and neck cancer was found.”

The results of the study were nothing new. In a separate analysis published last June in the International Journal of Cancer, scientists also noted no link between pot smoke exposure and lung cancer. Additionally, a 2009 study published on PubMed reported that modest marijuana consumption was associated with a reduced risk of head and neck cancer.

This new 2015 report confirms the findings from a 2011 Brown’s University study mentioned below.


Marijuana

More Evidence Weight-Loss Surgery Helps Fight Type 2 Diabetes


Bariatric procedures beat drug therapy in easing the disease over the long term, study found

By EJ Mundell

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Prior research has suggested that weight-loss surgery might help people rid themselves of type 2 diabetes, and a new study finds that the effect might be long-lasting.

“This is a very important study because it’s the first randomized trial comparing bariatric surgery to medical treatment of diabetes with five years of follow-up,” said Dr. Philip Schauer, who directs the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

Schauer was not involved in the new British study, which was led by Dr. Francesco Rubino of King’s College London. Rubino’s team tracked five-year outcomes for 53 obese patients with type 2 diabetes. The patients were randomly selected to undergo either one of two types of weight-loss surgery, or just to continue with conventional drug therapy to help control their diabetes.

The study found that half of the 38 weight-loss surgery patients maintained diabetes remission, compared with none of the 15 patients in the drug treatment group.

And regardless of whether or not their diabetes went into full remission, patients who underwent surgery still tended to have lower blood sugar levels than those treated with drugs, the researchers reported Sept. 3 in The Lancet.

The patients in the surgery group also used far fewer diabetes and heart medications, the research team added.

“The ability of surgery to greatly reduce the need for insulin and other [diabetes] drugs suggests that surgical therapy is a cost-effective approach to treating type 2 diabetes,” Rubino said in a news release from the college, where he is chair of bariatric and metabolic surgery.

The new study backs up findings from previous research. For example, a study published in July in JAMA Surgery, of 61 obese people with type 2 diabetes, found that weight-loss surgery was better at keeping the disease at bay compared to diet and exercise alone.

And in 2014, another study from King’s College London, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, found that obese people who underwent the surgery had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

WebMD Health

New Study Provides More Evidence Against “Gateway” Theory

A study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse adds even more evidence showing that marijuana use itself does not cause people to use harder drugs.

HealthDay reports:

“We found that marijuana use within itself wasn’t a risk factor for use of other drugs,” said lead author Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor in the New York University Langone Medical Center’s department of population health. “People do generally use marijuana before other drugs, but that doesn’t mean marijuana is a cause of [using] those other drugs.”

The researchers based their conclusions on data gathered from Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes and values of American high school students. Roughly 15,000 high school seniors are assessed each year.

“Most teens who use marijuana don’t progress to use of other drugs, and we believe this is evidenced in part by the fact that nearly two-thirds of these marijuana-using teens did not report use of any of the other illicit drugs we examined,” he noted.

These results show that educators and counselors would do better to prevent drug use if they focus on the reasons that students give for trying illicit substances, Palamar concluded.

“We need to address the reasons why people use, the drives that lead people to use,” he said. “The majority of adults in the U.S. have at least tried marijuana, and we know the majority has never gone on to use another drug, yet we tend to treat all drug use as pathological.”

The post New Study Provides More Evidence Against “Gateway” Theory appeared first on MPP Blog.


MPP Blog

More Evidence That Hormone Therapy Might Not Help Women’s Hearts


Hormone Therapy May Not Help Women’s Hearts

Review also found raised risk of stroke for some, although timing of use may be a key factor

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — There’s yet another study looking at the potential dangers of hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms, and this one supports the notion that the treatment may not help women’s hearts.

The research, a review of collected data on the issue, found that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not protect most postmenopausal women against heart disease and may even increase their risk of stroke.

Also, the findings suggest that the harms and benefits of hormone therapy may vary depending on woman’s age when she started the therapy, explained study lead author Dr. Henry Boardman, of the cardiovascular medicine department at the University of Oxford in England.

“This ‘Timing Hypothesis’ may be the critical key to the use of HRT,” agreed one expert, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“For certain women who fit the criteria, being on HRT early in menopause may be beneficial, and the fear of taking it may be unfounded,” said Steinbaum, who was not involved in the new study.

The findings were published March 10 in the journal Cochrane Library.

A woman’s natural supply of estrogen diminishes after menopause, and HRT has been widely used to control menopausal symptoms. HRT has also been used to help prevent heart disease in postmenopausal women, the researchers noted.

However, results from the Women’s Health Initiative study released in 2002 found that long-term use of HRT boosted a woman’s odds for breast cancer as well as strokes. Those findings caused a steep drop-off in the number of women using HRT.

In the new study, Boardman and colleagues analyzed data from a variety of studies involving more than 40,000 women worldwide. The women used HRT for periods between seven months to over 10 years.

Overall, the results showed no evidence that the therapy reduces the risk of death from any cause, death from heart disease, or nonfatal heart attack or angina in healthy women or those with heart disease.

In fact, hormone therapy was associated with a slightly increased risk of stroke, the researchers found.

WebMD Health

More Evidence Ties Some Bone-Building Drugs to Rare Fractures

THURSDAY Sept. 4, 2014, 2014 — Taking osteoporosis drugs called bisphosphonates to help prevent fractures may carry a slight risk for unusual breaks in the thigh bone, Swedish researchers report.

For those who took bisphosphonates for four to five years, the so-called “relative risk” was 100 times higher than among people who didn’t use the medications. But the researchers explained that the absolute risk of having such a fracture was small, and would affect only one in 1,000 people.

“If you have osteoporosis, the benefit of bisphosphonates outweighs the risk during the first years of treatment. But if you don’t have osteoporosis, but only a moderate decrease in bone density, the benefit is likely to be smaller than the risk,” said lead researcher Dr. Per Aspenberg, a professor of orthopaedic surgery at Linkoping University in Sweden.

However, U.S. experts said bisphosphonates still have a critical role to play in preventing normal bone breaks.

“The benefits of bisphosphonates strongly outweigh the risk for women and men with osteoporosis or a high risk of fracture,” said Dr. Steven Cummings, professor emeritus in the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Unfortunately, since reports about rare instances of atypical breaks in the thigh bone have surfaced, prescriptions for osteoporosis treatments have dropped by about 50 percent in just five years, he added.

“That means dozens of thousands of fractures have occurred that could have been prevented by bisphosphonate therapy, to avoid a handful of atypical fractures,” Cummings said.

Aspenberg did note that his study found the risk of atypical fractures decreases rapidly after one stops taking bisphosphonates, even though the drug stays in the bone for years.

“We now know how much the risk increases for each year that the treatment is prolonged. Unfortunately, the industry has not provided data for how much the benefit increases for each year’s use. There are reasons to suspect that there is minimal gain in prolonging treatment after a few years,” Aspenberg said.

To come to this conclusion, Aspenberg’s team reviewed the X-rays of more than 5,000 women and men aged 55 and older with fractures of the thigh bone. Of these patients, 172 had an atypical fracture.

Dr. Robert Recker, director of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., also took issue with the study.

“The article is frankly misleading,” he said. “There are huge epidemiological studies among osteoporosis patients that give a good estimate as to the risk of atypical fracture in patients treated with bisphosphonates, and they certainly aren’t as alarming as this study seems to show.”

Recker said bisphosphonates are also used in very high doses to treat cancer patients, and that’s where these atypical fractures are more common.

“Atypical fractures in osteoporosis patients are exceedingly rare,” he said. “It’s questionable whether they’re any more common than they are in the general populace.”

The risk of atypical fractures associated with bisphosphonates is outweighed by the benefit of these drugs in preventing fractures, Recker said.

For patients wary of bisphosphonates, there are alternatives, such as injections of denosumab (Prolia) or teriparatide (Forteo). “But there is a risk of fracture with Prolia, too,” Recker noted.

The new report was published as a research letter in the Sept. 4 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

More information

Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more on osteoporosis.

Posted: September 2014

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