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Gum Disease Might Raise Your Blood Pressure

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Here’s a compelling reason to keep those dreaded appointments with your dentist: New research suggests that red, tender or bleeding gums could trigger high blood pressure.

In a review of 81 studies that included more than 250,000 people, U.K. scientists found that those who had moderate to severe gum disease (periodontitis) had a 22% increased risk for high blood pressure, and those with severe gum disease had a 49% higher risk.

Oral health is closely linked to general health,” explained researcher Dr. Francesco D’Aiuto, head of the periodontology unit at University College London’s Eastman Dental Institute.

“Looking after your teeth and gums is often neglected, but [it] should be as important as managing other general health risks,” he added.

Among people with periodontitis, systolic pressure (top number) was 4.5 mm Hg higher and diastolic pressure (bottom number) was 2 mm Hg higher, on average, than people without gum disease, the researchers found.

In five of the studies analyzed, researchers found that blood pressure dropped when periodontitis was treated. Blood pressure also dropped in patients treated for gum disease who didn’t have hypertension, they added.

But whether treating periodontitis really is the cause of a drop in blood pressure isn’t certain, D’Aiuto said, since the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

“Bad brushing and bacteria accumulation around teeth causes gum bleeding and disease, but also could raise body inflammation and cause blood vessel damage,” D’Aiuto said.

When the gums are infected, the disease can spread to other parts of the body causing systemic inflammation, which can harm blood, the researchers noted.

Some people may have a genetic susceptibility that might also play a part, along with other risk factors such as smoking and obesity, they added.

“Every dentist should inform their patients of the potential link and the risk of developing high blood pressure,” D’Aiuto said.

In addition to giving advice on good dental hygiene and treatment, dentists should advise patients to keep tabs on their blood pressure with their primary care doctor, he said.

Continued

“Future research should look at the effects of treating gum disease on blood pressure,” D’Aiuto said. “If the association is proven true, then patients could benefit from managing gum disease beyond the mouth.”

A growing body of evidence shows an association between periodontitis and hypertension, along with hardening of the arteries, said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

More than 50 studies have shown that periodontitis is associated with increased risk for heart disease and an association between tooth loss and stroke, cardiovascular death and death from any cause, he said.

“However, it remains unclear whether gum disease is a marker or mediator,” Fonarow said.

“If causal, these associations would be of great importance because of the potential that preventing or treating periodontal disease could reduce blood pressure levels, as well as reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events,” he said.

More studies are needed to see if improving oral health can influence heart and vascular health, Fonarow added.

The report was published Sept. 24 in the journal Cardiovascular Research.

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Sources

SOURCES: Francesco D’Aiuto, D.M.D., Ph.D., professor, head, periodontology unit, Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, England; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Sept. 24, 2019,Cardiovascular Research

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Pubic Grooming Doesn’t Raise STD Risk

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Women who shave or wax their pubic hair aren’t more likely to get chlamydia or gonorrhea, according to new research that challenges studies suggesting that so-called extreme grooming increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The study included 214 women who visited an on-campus location at Ohio State University (OSU) for STD testing.

The women completed a questionnaire about their sexual and grooming behaviors. Nearly all (98%) said they had done some grooming, and between 18% and 54% were extreme groomers, meaning they removed all pubic hair at least weekly during the past year, or at least six times in the past month.

About 10% tested positive for an STD, but there was no association between extreme grooming and the risk of chlamydia or gonorrhea, according to the study published Sept. 4 in the journal PLOS One.

Unlike other studies, this one relied on laboratory-confirmed STD diagnoses, the OSU researchers noted.

“Previous research asked participants if they’d ever had a sexually transmitted infection, but didn’t measure whether they had one at the time of survey. That makes connecting any current grooming habits to STDs difficult,” lead author Jamie Luster said in a university news release. Luster is a former graduate student in public health at Ohio State.

This research also accounted for other factors associated with STD risk, including sexual frequency, income, race and age, noted Maria Gallo, associate professor of epidemiology and Luster’s adviser on the study.

“Particularly concerning is that previous work didn’t adjust for sexual frequency. It could be that women who were having more sex with more people — and were therefore more likely to contract infections — were more likely to be grooming,” Gallo said in the news release.

The study finding wasn’t a surprise because there’s no obvious biological reason to believe that shaving or waxing pubic hair would increase the risk of chlamydia or gonorrhea, said Luster, who is now a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

About 2.86 million new cases of chlamydia and 820,000 of gonorrhea occur in the United States each year, many in teens and young adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To protect against STDs, the CDC recommends sexually active people stay in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an STD-free partner and use latex condoms consistently and properly.

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Sources

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, Sept. 4, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Shaving ‘Down There’ Won’t Raise STD Risks: Study

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 4, 2019 — Women who shave or wax their pubic hair aren’t more likely to get chlamydia or gonorrhea, according to new research that challenges studies suggesting that so-called extreme grooming increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The study included 214 women who visited an on-campus location at Ohio State University (OSU) for STD testing.

The women completed a questionnaire about their sexual and grooming behaviors. Nearly all (98%) said they had done some grooming, and between 18% and 54% were extreme groomers, meaning they removed all pubic hair at least weekly during the past year, or at least six times in the past month.

About 10% tested positive for an STD, but there was no association between extreme grooming and the risk of chlamydia or gonorrhea, according to the study published Sept. 4 in the journal PLOS One.

Unlike other studies, this one relied on laboratory-confirmed STD diagnoses, the OSU researchers noted.

“Previous research asked participants if they’d ever had a sexually transmitted infection, but didn’t measure whether they had one at the time of survey. That makes connecting any current grooming habits to STDs difficult,” lead author Jamie Luster said in a university news release. Luster is a former graduate student in public health at Ohio State.

This research also accounted for other factors associated with STD risk, including sexual frequency, income, race and age, noted Maria Gallo, associate professor of epidemiology and Luster’s adviser on the study.

“Particularly concerning is that previous work didn’t adjust for sexual frequency. It could be that women who were having more sex with more people — and were therefore more likely to contract infections — were more likely to be grooming,” Gallo said in the news release.

The study finding wasn’t a surprise because there’s no obvious biological reason to believe that shaving or waxing pubic hair would increase the risk of chlamydia or gonorrhea, said Luster, who is now a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

About 2.86 million new cases of chlamydia and 820,000 of gonorrhea occur in the United States each year, many in teens and young adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To protect against STDs, the CDC recommends sexually active people stay in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an STD-free partner and use latex condoms consistently and properly.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on STD prevention.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Lots of Gluten During Toddler Years Might Raise Odds for Celiac Disease

TUESDAY, Aug. 13, 2019 — Too much white bread and pasta fed to at-risk kids under age 5 could increase their odds of developing celiac disease, a new international study has concluded.

Every extra daily gram of gluten a young child eats increases their risk of celiac disease, if they are genetically predisposed to it, researchers found.

For example, eating an extra half-slice of white bread every day at age 2 can increase a kid’s risk of celiac disease at age 3 by 7%, according to findings published Aug. 13 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The kids who went on to celiac disease were consuming more gluten in their diet in early childhood,” said study co-author Jill Norris, head of epidemiology at the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health.

However, Norris’ team warned it’s too soon to recommend eliminating gluten from the diets of young children, even those with a genetic risk for celiac disease.

“The worry is you would cut out healthy foods high in fiber and other nutrients simply to cut out gluten,” Norris said. “There are ways to remove gluten from the diet and maintain a healthy diet, but it’s actually quite difficult.”

Who’s at risk?

Celiac disease is an immune reaction in the small intestine to gluten, a protein found in some grains. It often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating, abdominal pain and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.

A person with a parent, child or sibling who has celiac disease carries a 1-in-10 chance of developing the disorder, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

It often develops in early childhood, but it hasn’t been clear why some kids at risk for celiac disease wind up with it while others don’t, Norris said.

“Virtually everybody is exposed to gluten during their lifetime, and there are a number of people who we consider genetically at increased risk but they never get the disease,” Norris said. “We’re trying to figure out what’s different about the people who do end up getting the disease.”

For this study, researchers followed more than 6,600 children from birth through age 15 at six clinical research centers in Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United States. All had an inherited risk for celiac disease.

Their diets and gluten intake were tracked based on three-day food diaries taken at regular intervals throughout their lives.

About 18% of the kids developed autoimmune responses related to celiac disease and 7% developed full-blown celiac disease, with the onset of both conditions peaking at 2 to 3 years of age, researchers found.

Every 1-gram increase in daily gluten intake — about a half-slice of white bread — at age 2 was associated with an increased chance of celiac disease by age 3, they concluded.

“We can now confirm that besides certain genes, high intake of gluten also is an important risk factor for celiac disease,” said senior researcher Dr. Daniel Agardh, a pediatrician with the Diabetes and Celiac Disease Unit at Lund University in Sweden.

Tough to ‘micromanage’ diet

Still, more research is needed before doctors can offer parents solid advice about their young child’s diet, experts said.

Other possible factors in celiac disease still need to be considered, such as early childhood infections, changes in gut bacteria, and antibiotic exposure, noted Dr. Jacqueline Jossen. She’s a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Susan and Leonard Feinstein Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“There’s a lot that was not specifically analyzed in this study, and there is previous literature to suggest those things may have a role as well,” said Jossen, who had no part in the research.

At this point, she wouldn’t recommend any dietary changes based off these findings.

“It’s such a small amount of gluten they’re talking about here. Even half a slice of bread can make a difference? Even on a practical level, it’s hard to micromanage something like that,” Jossen said.

Jossen speaks from experience. She has celiac disease and has a 3-year-old daughter with a genetic predisposition toward the condition.

“Even for me on a personal level, I wouldn’t change her diet based on this yet,” Jossen said of her daughter.

Is testing worth it?

And how do you even know for sure that you or your child is at risk?

Genetic tests for celiac disease risk are available, but often are not covered by insurance, said Dr. Maureen Leonard, clinical director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston.

“Online commercially available tests do not always assess all compatible genes for celiac disease,” said Leonard, who wrote an editorial published with the study. “Therefore, I would suggest parents speak with their physician about whether a genetic test may be appropriate for their child.”

Agardh doesn’t think genetic testing would be of much help, “since these genes are common in the general population.”

“In fact, the majority of individuals carrying these risk genes eating gluten will not develop celiac disease,” he said.

A second study this week in JAMA Pediatrics found that gluten also can boost children’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Among children with a genetic susceptibility for type 1 diabetes, a high intake of gluten was associated with an increased risk of an immune response that can damage or destroy the body’s ability to produce insulin over time.

“Given that these cereals are eaten by most children daily and are important sources of many essential nutrients, further studies are warranted to confirm or rule out the findings,” said the authors led by Leena Hakola from Tampere University in Finland.

More information

The Celiac Disease Foundation has more about celiac disease.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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High Levels of Estrogen in Womb Might Raise Autism Risk

MONDAY, July 29, 2019 — New British research is bolstering the theory that elevated levels of sex hormones in the uterus could play a role in autism risk.

Prior studies had already implicated higher uterine concentrations of male sex hormones — androgens — in increasing the odds for an autism spectrum disorder, noted a team led by Simon Baron-Cohen. He directs the Autism Research Center at the University of Cambridge.

That prior finding might help explain why autism is so much more prevalent in boys than girls.

However, the latest research from the Cambridge team suggests that exposure to high levels of estrogen hormones in the womb might also raise the odds for autism.

In the new study, Baron-Cohen and his colleagues tested samples of amniotic fluid from 98 individuals sampled by the Danish Biobank, a repository of amniotic samples from more than 100,000 pregnancies.

The 98 individuals went on to develop an autism spectrum disorder.

The researchers looked specifically at amniotic levels of four different estrogen-like hormones.

The investigators compared levels for the 98 people with autism against those from amniotic samples of 177 people who did not have the disorder. This time, Baron-Cohen’s group found an even stronger relationship to autism than was seen with high levels of male sex hormones.

“This new finding supports the idea that increased prenatal sex steroid hormones are one of the potential causes for the condition,” Baron-Cohen said in a university news release. “Genetics is well established as another [cause], and these hormones likely interact with genetic factors to affect the developing fetal brain.”

Dr. Ruth Milanaik is an autism expert who directs the neonatal neurodevelopmental follow-up program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Reviewing the new findings, she agreed that there is probably no single cause for autism.

“This is a strong study that brings us a step closer to understanding the roots of this issue, but by all means [it is] not a definitive cause,” Milanaik said. “Further research is needed in all areas in order to fully understand the implications of these findings.”

For his part, Baron-Cohen stressed that testing uterine hormone levels in pregnancy to gauge future autism risk is not the goal here.

“We are interested in understanding autism, not preventing it,” he said, adding that the findings shouldn’t be used to develop such a screening test.

In fact, it’s not yet even clear what might cause sex hormone levels to rise in the womb, the researchers said.

According to study co-author Alex Tsompanidis, a graduate student at Cambridge, “These elevated hormones could be coming from the mother, the baby or the placenta. Our next step should be to study all these possible sources and how they interact during pregnancy.”

The findings were published online July 29 in Molecular Psychiatry.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on autism.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019

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Midlife Diabetes Can Raise Your Stroke Chances Later

By Serena Gordon

       

         HealthDay Reporter        

THURSDAY, June 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — In a finding that further confirms the link between type 2 diabetes and stroke, a new study shows that having the blood sugar disease during middle age may boost your risk of having the most common type of stroke later in life.

In addition to a 30% greater chance of an ischemic stroke, the researchers also found that people who had type 2 diabetes in their 40s or 50s were twice as likely to have narrower blood vessels in their brain in their 60s and beyond.

“Our findings highlight the need for controlling midlife type 2 diabetes mellitus to help prevent [ischemic stroke and narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain],” said study author Rongrong Yang. Yang is a Ph.D. candidate at Tianjin Medical University in China.

An ischemic stroke, which is the more common type of stroke, is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel in the brain. This damages the area of the brain that’s no longer receiving enough blood. The less common type of stroke is known as a hemorrhagic stroke. That type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts, causing blood to leak into the brain and cause swelling and tissue damage, the National Stroke Association says.

Type 2 diabetes has long been associated with the risk of stroke, but it’s been hard to know if an increased risk of stroke comes from the diabetes or from other genetic and environmental factors, according to background information in the study.

To better tease out if diabetes itself was a likely culprit, the researchers reviewed data from the Swedish Twin Registry. More than 33,000 twin individuals met the criteria for the study.

The study participants were all born before 1958. None had evidence of narrowed brain blood vessels or stroke before age 60.

Just under 4% of the group had diabetes in midlife. More than 9% had late-life (after 60) strokes or narrowed blood vessels in their brain, the study authors said.

After adjusting the data to account for other stroke risk factors, such as smoking and obesity, the researchers noted the increased risk of ischemic stroke, but didn’t find an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

Continued

Yang said that genetic and environmental factors didn’t appear to account for the increased risk of ischemic stroke, but noted that more research needs to be done. This study wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

So why might diabetes lead to more ischemic strokes?

“The mechanisms underlying the association of type 2 diabetes mellitus with stroke are complex and not completely understood,” Yang said. But, people with type 2 diabetes have abnormal cholesterol levels and that might contribute to the narrowed blood vessels in the brain.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said the Swedish population has significantly less type 2 diabetes than would be found in the United States.

Zonszein was not, however, surprised to see a higher risk of stroke and narrowed blood vessels in people with diabetes.

“We need to be much more alert to getting the proper diagnosis of diabetes and controlling risk factors. Focus on the things we can change to try to improve risk factors,” Zonszein said.

“Smoking cessation is important, and we have to treat high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts people at high risk of stroke. People with diabetes should be on a statin to control cholesterol levels, and they should be on the proper medications to control their diabetes,” he added.

Study author Yang agreed that controlling risk factors is key.

“Diabetic patients need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as doing regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight, no smoking, as well as [blood sugar] control, in order to reduce the risk of [stroke] in late life,” Yang said.

The findings were published June 5 in Diabetologia.

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Sources

SOURCES: Rongrong Yang, Ph.D. candidate, department of epidemiology and biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tianjin Medical University, China; Joel Zonszein, M.D., director, clinical diabetes center, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; June 5, 2019,Diabetologia

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Bill Would Raise U.S. Legal Age to Buy Tobacco to 21

May 21, 2019 — A bill to raise the minimum age for buying any type of tobacco product, including electronic cigarettes, from 18 to 21 was introduced Monday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The proposed bipartisan legislation comes at a time when soaring underage use of e-cigarettes has health experts alarmed, the Associated Press reported.

McConnell’s home state of Kentucky was long one of leading tobacco producers in the country, but he said passage of the bill is “one of my highest priorities.”

“Kentucky farmers don’t want their children to get hooked on tobacco products while they’re in middle school or high school any more than any parents anywhere want that to happen,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, the AP reported.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., another state that’s been a major tobacco producer.

Fourteen states have enacted laws raising the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21, according to the anti-smoking Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Similar action has been taken by 470 municipalities, the AP reported.

A recent federal government survey found that 1 in 5 U.S. high school students reported using e-cigarettes the previous month. Most e-cigarettes contain highly addictive nicotine, which can harm young people’s brain development and may increase their risk of smoking cigarettes later in life, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Youth vaping is a public health crisis,” McConnell said Monday. “It’s our responsibility as parents and public servants to do everything we can to keep these harmful products out of high schools and out of youth culture.”

The American Cancer Society’s advocacy organization, the Cancer Action Network, said the bill is a “welcome indication that Congress is taking the alarming crisis of increased youth tobacco use seriously and is committed to taking action,” the AP reported.

But it warned against including amendments that could override stronger restrictions by states and municipalities, exempt some young people or exclude certain products.

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Valium, Xanax Could Raise Miscarriage Risk

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 15, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Pregnancy is often a time of heightened worry. But researchers warn that taking anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax may increase the risk of miscarriage.

Called benzodiazepines, these powerful drugs have long been prescribed to treat a variety of mood disorders. However, a new Canadian study finds that when taken in early pregnancy, they raise the risk for a miscarriage in the first trimester by 11%.

Medication use in pregnancy is a tricky business, experts say.

“In medications in pregnancy, physicians have to decide, are the risks higher than the benefits, because there isn’t any risk zero,” said lead researcher Anick Berard. She’s a professor at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine in Montreal.

In this case, doctors must balance the severity of the woman’s mood problem against possible harm to the developing fetus, she said.

For the study, Berard and her colleagues collected data on about 442,000 pregnant Canadians from 1998 through 2015.

The study found that 6% of pregnancies ended in a miscarriage. Among those who miscarried, slightly more than 1% were taking a benzodiazepine for the first time in early pregnancy.

Berard said that it didn’t matter which benzodiazepine a woman took, as all were linked with an increased risk for miscarriage. Besides Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam), this class of drugs includes Ativan (lorazepam) and Klonopin (clonazepam).

Berard cautioned, however, that this study can’t prove that tranquilizers cause miscarriages, only that an association exists.

And the researchers were unable to account for smoking and alcohol use, which may also increase risk for miscarriage.

Exactly how these drugs are linked with a failed pregnancy isn’t known. But animal studies have shown that benzodiazepines affect fetal development and raise miscarriage odds, Berard said.

And she stressed that although benzodiazepines may negatively affect pregnancy, so can anxiety and insomnia.

Women should not stop taking their benzodiazepines, but should have a discussion with their doctor about the risks and benefits of these drugs, Berard said.

“Anxiety and insomnia are serious mental health issues, and they are relatively common in pregnancy,” said Catherine Monk, a professor of medical psychology in obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University.

Continued

“Anxiety can affect up to 15% of pregnant women, almost two times the rate of gestational diabetes,” said Monk, who wasn’t involved in the study.

But far too often, she said, primary care doctors or obstetricians prescribe benzodiazepines rather than refer expectant mothers to a mental health professional for evaluation and non-drug treatment.

Psychotherapists have a variety of tools, Monk said. They can encourage good sleep habits, help set up a “worry book,” and advise meditation. Using what’s called cognitive behavioral therapy, they also can teach patients to see worries from different perspectives and to use relaxation techniques, she said.

“Typically, some of these different techniques provide immense relief from anxiety and insomnia,” Monk noted.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical and health officer at the March of Dimes, said benzodiazepines also increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight infants.

“This study reinforces the fact that these drugs have a risk potential that is significant and needs to be discussed with the patient,” he said.

Patients should be offered “non-pharmacological therapies as well as other pharmacological options if the non-pharmacological options do not work,” he added.

The report was published online May 15 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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Sources

SOURCES: Anick Berard, Ph.D., professor, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine, Montreal, Canada; Catherine Monk, Ph.D., professor, medical psychology in obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia University, New York City; Rahul Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and chief medical and health officer, March of Dimes; May 15, 2019,JAMA Psychiatry, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Does Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer Raise Dementia Risk?

SUNDAY, May 5, 2019 — When men with prostate cancer have to take drugs that block the testosterone fueling their tumors, they can suffer a host of side effects that include impotence, bone loss, heart trouble and obesity.

But new research uncovers yet another possible downside to the treatment: These men may be at greater risk for dementia.

For any type of dementia, that risk increased 17%; for Alzheimer’s disease, it increased 23%, the researchers said.

Common side effects of so-called androgen-deprivation therapy include hot flashes, unstable mood, trouble sleeping, headaches, high blood sugar, allergic reactions and impotence.

“Androgen-deprivation therapy may not only cause physical changes — such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease or obesity — but may also cause changes in cognition,” said researcher Dr. Karl Tully, a research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

But Tully cautioned that this study cannot prove that such hormone therapy caused dementia, only that the two are associated.

The investigators also found that men on this type of therapy had a 10% greater risk of seeking psychiatric services.

The risk for dementia increased as the length of therapy increased, the researchers noted. Men on androgen-deprivation therapy for six months had a 25% increased risk for any kind of dementia and a 37% increased risk for Alzheimer’s, the findings showed.

Being on hormone therapy longer than six months increased the risk for dementia and using mental health services even more, Tully said.

For the study, Tully and his colleagues collected data on more than 100,400 men enrolled in Medicare. The men were diagnosed with prostate cancer between January 1992 and December 2009.

Given these findings, “physicians should be telling their patients about that risk and should probably perform regular screening,” Tully said.

One urologist, however, doesn’t think patients need to be told about this tenuous association.

“I don’t think it’s a fair discussion to have,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

In this population, the increase in dementia may not be from hormone therapy at all, Kavaler said. As people live longer, the odds of developing dementia naturally increase.

Moreover, many of these patients probably had other medical conditions that might increase their risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s, Kavaler added.

“Earlier generations were all worried about cancer — we’re worried about dementia,” she said.

In addition, patients with prostate cancer may not have a good option whether to start hormone therapy or not, she noted.

“We really don’t have a choice. Androgen-deprivation therapy is what can be offered to men with recurring or advanced prostate cancer. It’s a matter of treating a deadly disease versus the risk of developing a non-life-threatening condition,” Kavaler said.

“How do you ask somebody to choose between losing your mind or not treating their high-risk disease,” she said. “It’s a hard position to put a patient in. I wouldn’t even bring it up.”

The findings were scheduled to be presented Sunday at the American Urological Association annual meeting, in Chicago. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Visit the American Cancer Society for more on prostate cancer.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: May 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Long Antibiotic Use May Raise Women’s Heart Risks

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Antibiotics can be lifesaving, but using them over a long period might raise the odds of heart disease and stroke in older women, a new study suggests.

Researchers tracked the health of nearly 36,500 U.S. women over an average follow-up of nearly eight years. During that time, more than a thousand developed heart disease.

The study found that women aged 60 and older who used antibiotics for two months or longer were 32% percent more likely to develop heart disease than those who did not use antibiotics.

Women aged 40 to 59 who took antibiotics for longer than two months had a 28% higher risk than those who did not take the drugs, said a team led by Lu Qi. He directs the Tulane University Obesity Research Center in New Orleans.

Said another way, the results mean that for older women who take antibiotics for two months or more, 6 per 1,000 would go on to develop heart disease, compared with 3 in 1,000 among those who did not take the drugs.

There was no increased risk of heart disease among women aged 20 to 39 who took antibiotics, according to the study published April 24 in the European Heart Journal.

“This is an observational study and so it cannot show that antibiotics cause heart disease and stroke, only that there is a link between them,” Qi said in a journal news release. “It’s possible that women who reported more antibiotic use might be sicker in other ways that we were unable to measure, or there may be other factors that could affect the results that we have not been able take account of.”

However, the researchers did take into account other factors, including age, race, sex, diet and lifestyle, reasons for antibiotic use, overweight or obesity, other diseases and medication use.

The most common reasons for antibiotic use among women in the study were respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and dental problems.

So what could be the link between antibiotics and heart risk?

Continued

One possible reason could lie in the fact that antibiotics do alter the balance of gut microbes, destroying good bacteria and increasing the proportion of viruses, bacteria or other microbes that can cause disease, Qi suggested.

“Antibiotic use is the most critical factor in altering the balance of microorganisms in the gut,” he said, and “previous studies have shown a link between alterations in the microbiotic environment of the gut and inflammation and narrowing of the blood vessels, stroke and heart disease.”

Study first author Yoriko Heianza is a research fellow at Tulane University. She noted that, as the women in the study aged, “they were more likely to need more antibiotics, and sometimes for longer periods of time, which suggests a cumulative effect may be the reason for the stronger link in older age between antibiotic use and cardiovascular disease.”

According to Qi, the take-home message from the new study is that “antibiotics should be used only when they are absolutely needed. Considering the potentially cumulative adverse effects, the shorter time of antibiotic use, the better.”

Dr. Eugenia Gianos directs Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She wasn’t involved in the new research, but said the findings are “interesting and warrant further analysis.”

Gianos agreed that the study couldn’t prove cause and effect. “It is very possible that patients who require antibiotics for an infection have a worse underlying infectious or inflammatory process, and that the systemic effects of these diseases are what cause cardiovascular disease,” she reasoned.

But the interplay between antibiotics, the gut’s “microbiome” and the cardiovascular system could be important as well, Gianos said.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES Eugenia Gianos, M.D., director, Women’s Heart Health, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City:European Heart Journal, news release, April 24, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Severe ‘Mono’ Infection May Raise Risk for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

TUESDAY, April 2, 2019 — As if having the exhausting “kissing disease” — also known as mononucleosis, or “mono” — isn’t bad enough, about 1 in 10 people with this infection will develop chronic fatigue syndrome in six months, researchers report.

To better predict which people with mono might end up with debilitating chronic fatigue syndrome, investigators at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago developed a new scale to rate how severe a mononucleosis infection is. They then tested it in 126 college students diagnosed with mono.

“We looked at what factors correlated with bad outcomes and then tried to validate these measures,” said Dr. Ben Katz, an attending pediatric infectious diseases specialist.

People with the most severe mononucleosis infections based on the new scale were more than three times as likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome, Katz explained.

And three factors in particular often showed up in people with more severe mono. These included:

  • Being unable to leave home when symptoms were worst.
  • Having trouble breathing.
  • Experiencing digestive symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

Mononucleosis is a contagious infection, commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It often occurs in younger people — especially those in high school and college. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, fever and sore throat. Between 1% and 5% of college students are diagnosed with mono, according to the study authors.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is also called myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). The CDC says it causes extreme fatigue, sleep problems, thinking and memory issues, dizziness and pain. Symptoms can get worse after exercise. The exact cause is unknown, and it’s difficult to diagnose, the CDC noted.

Unfortunately, there are no good treatments that get to the root of either mono or CFS, according to Katz. There are supportive treatments that may make people feel better, he said, but no cures for either illness.

“This is a big problem on college campuses, and it could help to have a tool to predict who might have trouble,” Katz said.

Dr. Jane Swedler, chief of adolescent medicine at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., reviewed the findings.

“We know there is an association with CFS and a certain history of specific infections, like mononucleosis,” she said.

Swedler said the new, validated measure should be helpful for guidance and planning. “There’s a predictive value to it, and it may be used to standardize care and possibly for earlier treatment of CFS,” she said.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t get mono, and then possibly CFS?

There’s no vaccine for mononucleosis. To help prevent it, the CDC recommends that you do not share certain items, such as: drinks and food; eating utensils; and personal items, like toothbrushes.

And, if you think someone might have an infection, don’t kiss them, because the disease can be transmitted through kissing, the CDC warns.

The study was recently published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

More information

Learn more about chronic fatigue syndrome from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: April 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Secondhand Smoke Can Raise Fetal Heart Risks

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, March 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Fathers-to-be who expose their pregnant partners to secondhand smoke put their babies at risk of heart defects, researchers warn.

For the new study, investigators in China reviewed 125 studies that included a total of nearly 9 million prospective parents and more than 137,000 babies with congenital heart defects.

All types of parental smoking were linked to an increased risk of these birth defects, the analysis found. Compared to no smoking exposure, the increased risk was 124 percent for women exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant, 74 percent for men smoking, and 25 percent for women smoking.

“Fathers are a large source of secondhand smoke for pregnant women, which appears to be even more harmful to unborn children than women smoking themselves,” said study author Jiabi Qin of Central South University in Changsha, China.

“Fathers-to-be should quit smoking,” Qin said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.

The overall risk with all types of parental smoking was greater when the analysis was restricted to Asian groups, the study authors noted.

Women’s exposure to secondhand smoke was dangerous throughout pregnancy — and even before, according to the report. While those who smoked before getting pregnant had no added risk, those who smoked during pregnancy were more apt to give birth to a child with a heart defect.

Specifically, smoking while pregnant was associated with a 27 percent higher risk for the newborn to have a hole in the wall between the heart’s upper chambers (atrial septal defect), and a 43 percent higher risk of an abnormality in which the smooth flow of blood through the heart is blocked (right ventricular outflow tract obstruction).

Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of stillbirth. These birth defects also affect eight in 1,000 babies born worldwide. Though treatments have improved, the effects last a lifetime.

Qin said women should stop smoking before trying to conceive and should avoid smokers, too. Employers can help by ensuring workplaces are smoke-free.

“Doctors and primary health care professionals need to do more to publicize and educate prospective parents about the potential hazards of smoking for their unborn child,” Qin concluded.

The study was published March 24 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE:European Society of Cardiology, news release, March 24, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Fertility Treatments Don’t Raise Cancer Risk for Offspring