Senate report links Avandia to increased risk of heart attacks, death. What am I telling my Avandia patients to do?

Men's Health, Woman's Health
In a front-page story, the New York Times reported, "Hundreds of people taking Avandia [rosiglitazone], a controversial diabetes medicine, needlessly suffer heart attacks and heart failure each month, according to confidential government reports." A Senate Finance Committee review cites internal FDA documents that highlight a dispute among regulators that "has been brewing for years but has been brought to a head by disagreement over a new clinical trial." The Wall Street Journal reports that the Senate committee concluded that Glaxo was aware of the risks, but minimized the issue and attempted to suppress concerned physicians. The FDA's documents also indicate that agency scientists said the drug should be pulled from the market in 2008, but FDA chiefs rejected the recommendations. Now, agency commissioner Margaret Hamburg is expected to meet "with FDA scientists…
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Osteopathic care may ease late-pregnancy back pain

Woman's Health
Low back pain in pregnancy is extremely common and manipulative therapy has been shown in a number of studies to be very helpful -- especially for a condition called sacroiliac subluxation. Now, comes a story from Reuters Health confirming that gentle manipulation from an osteopathic doctor may relieve late-pregnancy back pain that frequently hinders bending, lifting, or walking. The findings came from a small study hint and was performed by doctors in osteopathic medicine (DOs), who are medical doctors additionally trained in gentle manipulative techniques to help restore function, range of motion, and lessen pain in bones and adjoining muscles supporting the neck, back, chest, shoulders, and hips. Osteopathic manipulation may particularly benefit pregnant women seeking medication-free back pain relief, note Dr. John C. Licciardone and colleagues at University of…
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Are heels OK for little girls? Parents, doctors debate!

Children's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
The AP had a report carried in USA Today that I thought you parents of girls might find helpful. Basically, not only do I not recommend heels for girls, I don't recommend them for women. You can read more about this in my blog, "Do you want more back and foot pain? Wear heels!" Now, for the information for your daughters. A pair of sparkly, peekaboo shoes with heels 2 inches high are favorites of 6-year-old Helena Bell ever since she got them for a wedding. "She's worn them to the point where the jewels have fallen off," says Helena's mother, Dana Bell of Woodland Hills, Calif. "It's not my preference, but I've stopped fighting it." The heels aren't allowed at school, but the first-grader slips on her white treasures…
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Obese Children Twice as Likely to Die Young

Children's Health, Heart Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
In my Amazon.com best-selling book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, I predicted that if we did not stem the epidemic of childhood obesity, that our children could become the first generation in American history to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Now, the New York Times is reporting on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine "that tracked thousands of children through adulthood found the heaviest youngsters were more than twice as likely as the thinnest to die prematurely, before age 55, of illness or a self-inflicted injury." While "youngsters with ... pre-diabetes were at almost double the risk of dying before 55, and those with high blood pressure were at some increased risk," it was obesity that was "most…
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One in five US teens may have abnormal lipid levels — most related to overweight or obesity

Children's Health, Heart Health, Nutritional Health
The Washington Post reports that "one out of every five US teenagers has a cholesterol level that increases the risk of heart disease," according to a new study published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. For "the study ... researchers analyzed data collected from 3,125 youths through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey." The data indicated that "20.3 percent had abnormal 'blood lipid' levels." Bloomberg News reports that "obese children were at the highest danger of abnormal levels, with 43 percent testing outside the recommended ranges." Ashleigh May, an epidemiologist at the CDC's division of heart disease and stroke prevention, said, "Parents should inquire about whether their child is eligible for this lipid screening, especially if their child is overweight or obese." MedPage Today reported that "an unsigned commentary by…
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Surgery better than diet, exercise in morbidly obese teens

Children's Health, Nutritional Health
Reuters is reporting that severely (morbidly) obese teens who had surgery to limit what they could eat lost more weight and enjoyed more health benefits than those who did an intensive lifestyle program. Researchers announced that 21 of 25 severely obese teens aged 14 to 18 who underwent a form of gastric banding lost more than half of their excess weight compared with just 3 out of 25 who did a diet, exercise and behavior modification program. "In this study, gastric banding proved to be an effective intervention leading to a substantial and durable reduction in obesity and to better health," Dr. Paul O'Brien of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. O'Brien and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of Allergan Inc's Lap-Band…
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Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Nutritional Health
Soaking in more sunlight and drinking more dairy may help you ward off colon cancer according to a report in Medscape. Researchers in Europe have found that people with abundant levels of vitamin D -- the so-called sunshine vitamin -- have a much lower risk of colon cancer. The findings add to a growing body of evidence that suggest vitamin D may have the power to help prevent colon cancer and possibly even improve survival in those who have the disease. The body makes vitamin D after the skin absorbs some of the sun's rays. You can also get vitamin D by consuming certain foods and beverages, such as milk and cereal, which have been fortified with the vitamin, but few foods naturally contain it. For the current study, researchers…
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Daily Calcium Plus Vitamin D Supplements May Reduce Fracture Risk

Nutritional Health
MedScape reports that daily supplements of calcium plus vitamin D, but not of vitamin D alone, are associated with significantly reduced fracture risk, according to the results of a patient level-pooled analysis reported in the January 12 issue of the BMJ. "A large randomised controlled trial in women in French nursing homes or apartments for older people showed that calcium and vitamin D supplementation increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, decreased parathyroid hormone, improved bone density, and decreased hip fractures and other non-vertebral fractures," write B. Abrahamsen, from Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues from the DIPART (vitamin D Individual Patient Analysis of Randomized Trials) Group. "Subsequent randomised trials examining the effect of vitamin D supplementation — with or without calcium — on the incidence of fractures have produced…
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Farmed or wild fish: Which is healthier?

Nutritional Health
CNN has a nice report about a question that I'm often asked, "Which is healthier -- farmed or wild fish?" These days, it's hard to know what underwater life you should be eating. There's talk of great benefits from fish-originating omega-3 fatty acids but worries about contamination and concerns about the environmental impact of farmed fish. PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, even launched a campaign last year to discourage people from killing and eating fish, suggesting that they be called "sea kittens" instead. In answering a recent reader question about the relative benefits of farmed and wild salmon, CNNHealth's nutrition expert, Dr. Melina Jampolis, urged the reader to "limit farmed salmon consumption to once a week at most if you are unable to find fresh, wild salmon."…
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Sexual satisfaction is a complex process that vexes many women and their doctors

Marriage and Family Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
Continuing our Valentine's Day theme of sexual satisfaction in marriage, I thought you might find this article from the Washington Post of interest. It's penned by Daphne Miller, a family physician, who is the author of "The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets From Around the World -- Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You": My patient Debra practically waltzes into my office. She is giggling and barely waits for the door to close before she announces: "I am having sex again and really enjoying it. Not only that, but I'm actually having random lusty thoughts." What a change from a couple of months ago, when sex was no more interesting to her than office furniture. Her husband is also delighted, she tells me. He plans to shower…
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What to Do When Heart Disease Hurts Your Sex Life

Heart Health, Marriage and Family Health
This article, from Health.com, will be, I would think, very helpful for married couples where one or both spouses has cardiovascular disease. It answers a number of common questions my patients ask: If movies and soap operas are anything to go by, sex can be dangerous for people with heart conditions. While research shows that sex can indeed trigger heart attacks in some people, especially men, the odds of literally succumbing to passion are very low. Sexual activity is a contributing factor in less than 1% of heart attacks, according to a 1996 study by Harvard Medical School researchers. Although heart attacks during sex are rare, no one wants to be among the unlucky few who die while getting lucky. So if you have cardiovascular disease (CVD), or even if…
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Poll Shows Majority of Americans Say Abstinence Effective, Want Parents Involved

Children's Health, Parenting
Abstinence-only program helps kids postpone sex A new Rasmussen poll shows a majority of Americans believe abstinence education programs are effect and a commanding majority would rather have parents than schools teaching sex education, according to a report in LifeNews.com. The survey follows on a new study showing abstinence more effective than sex education. According to the Rasmussen poll, released yesterday, 50 percent of American adults believe abstinence-only education programs are at least somewhat effective in preventing teen pregnancy. Some 15 percent say they are very effective. Just 42% of Americans disagree and a smaller 13 percent take the strongest position saying they are not at all effective. Overall, 68% of adults nationwide approve of health education classes teaching children about sex or abstinence while only 21 percent of Americans…
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Herbals and Heart Health

Alternative Medicine, Heart Health
The folks at Natural Standard recently sent out a notice of a significant review in the cardiology literature on the potential interactions between herbs and heart medications. A news release on the study can be found here. This new analysis suggests that herbal supplements, such as Ginkgo biloba and garlic, may cause dangerous interactions when combined with heart medications. Some examples of herbs and their adverse effect on heart disease management include: St. John’s wort, which is typically used to treat depression, anxiety and sleep disorders among other problems, reduces the effectiveness of medications contributing to recurrences of arrhythmia, high blood pressure or increase in blood cholesterol levels and risk for future heart problems. Ginkgo biloba, which is supposedly used to improve circulation or sharpen the mind, increases bleeding risk in…
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Acupuncture found lacking for fibromyalgia

Alternative Medicine
Reuters Health is reporting on a new study examining the treatment of fibromyalgia with acupuncture. Indeed, acupuncture may provide some temporary pain relief for people with fibromyalgia, but does not help with fatigue, sleep problems, or physical function, according to a new research review. However, the results are too inconsistent to recommend acupuncture as a treatment fibromyalgia, the reviewers conclude. Fibromyalgia, a debilitating pain syndrome that affects an estimated 2 to 4 percent of the population, is characterized by chronic pain, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. It's a somewhat mysterious condition with no clear-cut cause. Winfried Hauser of the Klinikum Saarbrucken in Germany and colleagues reviewed seven randomized controlled trials of acupuncture that included a total of 385 people with fibromyalgia. The study subjects were mostly white middle-aged women. All of…
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Colon Cleansing and Body Detoxification: Any Evidence of Benefit or Harm?

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
Claims of marked health benefits from “detoxification” have stimulated public interest in colonic cleansing and generated a multimillion-dollar industry promoting oral agents, colonic hydrotherapy, or enema therapies designed to empty the bowel. Questions about colonic cleansing are among the most common inquiries to the American College of Gastroenterology and are often posed to family physicians. Family physician and medical editor, Anne Walling, MD, has reviewed a study on colon cleansing and body detoxification for American Family Physician. The study, by Acosta and Cash, reviewed the evidence of benefit and risk of harm from colonic cleansing to better inform physicians and the public. The Study: The authors searched Medline, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Collaboration Database to identify relevant articles published between 1966 and 2008. They also reviewed abstracts from gastroenterology subspecialty conferences…
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Consuming one serving of chocolate every week may reduce stroke risk

General Health, Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Just in time for your Valentine's weekend, a new report indicating that chocolate may both cut your risk of a stroke and reduce the risk of death after a stroke. And, the effect may only require one small serving of dark chocolate a week. USA Today reports, "A new analysis, which involved a review of three prior studies, suggests eating about a bar of chocolate a week can help cut the risk of stroke and lower the risk of death after a stroke." Researchers in Canada explained that "one study they looked at found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22% less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate." A second study showed that "1,169 people who ate 50 grams of…
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Seven Foods for Better Sex

General Health, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
For this Valentine's Day weekend, some more advice for our married readers from my friends at Health.com, written by Julie Upton, RD, on how you can improve your diet and your sex life at the same time. Knock out two birds with one stone: Enough about oysters, already! If you want to put some sizzle back into your sex life, food can help you set the mood. There’s nothing better than a romantic, home-cooked dinner, featuring some R-rated foods to help turn up the heat. “There’s a growing body of evidence that some of the vitamins and components in foods can enhance sexual function and sexual experience,” says Jennifer R. Berman, MD, director of the Berman Women’s Wellness Center in Beverly Hills, Calif. Here are some of the food ingredients (and my…
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3 Lifestyle Habits That Can Boost Your Sex Drive

General Health, Heart Health, Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
For this Valentine's Day weekend, some advice for our married readers from my friends at Health.com on how you can not only boost your sex drive, but become more highly healthy at the same time: 1. Get plenty of exercise If you want to make your marriage a bit more "hot-blooded," then improve your circulation. Physical fitness can increase blood flow, which in theory can make sex more pleasurable since sexual arousal for both men and women involves increased blood flow to the genital area. And that can increase desire itself—if it feels great, you tend to want to do it more. Exercise boosts endorphins, which lift your mood, and it can increase your energy. Not to mention that being toned makes some people feel sexier. 2. Eat a healthy…
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New Drug Ellaone Billed as Better Morning After Pill, But It Causes Abortions

Bioethics, Children's Health, Woman's Health
LifeNews.com is reporting that abortion advocates are pushing a new drug that they say is an expanded morning after pill, or emergency contraception. However, pro-life doctors and advocates say Ellaone, also known as Ulipristal, works as an abortion drug and not an agent that prevents conception. The morning after pill, or Plan B drug, has been around for years and can either prevent fertilization from occurring or can sometimes act as an abortifacient by killing the unique human being fertilization develops. Ellaone is different -- instead of working hours or just a couple of days after sexual relations take place as the morning after pill does, it can be used up to five days afterwards. The drug is becoming popular in Europe and abortion advocates there are pushing it as…
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Fish oil may stave off psychiatric illness

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
The AP reports that "fish oil pills may be able to save some young people with signs of mental illness from descending into schizophrenia," according to a study published in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. For the study, investigators "identified 81 people, ages 13 to 25, with warning signs of psychosis," then randomized 41 of them "to take four fish oil pills a day for three months" at a "daily dose of 1,200 milligrams." The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported that "for a year after" the study "was completed,12 weeks of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oil reduced progression to full-blown psychosis in a large group of adolescents and young adults," while simultaneously improving "many of the symptoms that identified these young patients as likely schizophrenics…
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Lancet formally retracts paper linking vaccine to autism

Children's Health, Parenting
U.S. study clears measles vaccine of autism link One of the world's most respected medical journals, The Lancet, is formally retracting an article that sparked a fierce debate and falsely linked autism to vaccines. The 1998 study linked the vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) to autism which led to a drop in vaccinations and a jump in measles cases around the world. In the meantime, at least 25 studies have found no link between the vaccine and autism. The move "is part of a reassessment that has lasted for years of the scientific methods and financial conflicts of Dr. Andrew Wakefield," whose "research showed that the ... vaccine may be unsafe," the New York Times reports. Last week, the Times reports, "a British medical panel concluded ... that Dr. Wakefield…
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Vegetative patient “talks” using brain waves

Bioethics, Mental Health
According to a report in Reuters,  man in a deeply unconscious state for five years has been able to communicate with doctors using just his thoughts in a study scientists say is a "game changer" for care of vegetative state patients. British and Belgian researchers used a brain scanner called functional magnetic resonance imaging to show the man, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury in a road accident in 2003, was able to think "yes" or "no" answers to questions by wilfully changing his brain activity. Experts say the result means all patients in coma-like states should be reassessed and it may change the way they are cared for in future. After detecting signs of awareness, the doctors scanned the man's brain while he was asked to say "yes"…
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Brain scans of patients in vegetative state reveal some activity

Bioethics
A stunning new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that many "patients in a vegetative state ... are more conscious than previously believed. They showed brain activity when questioned about familiar names or given instructions." In a front-page story, the New York Times reports that the study showed "the limits of the current bedside test for diagnosing mental state," which "experts said ... could alter the way some severe head injuries were diagnosed." The finding may also "raise troubling ethical questions about whether to consult severely disabled patients on their care." For the study, researchers placed 54 patients "inside advanced brain scanners," finding that five patients' scans "flashed exactly like any healthy conscious person's would," the Washington Post reports on its front page. Of those five patients, four…
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Abstinence-only program helps kids postpone sex

Children's Health, Parenting
Reuters Health is reporting that abstinence-only sex education can work – if it's based on established strategies for helping young people change their attitudes about other types of risky behavior like smoking and drinking, stunning new research shows. Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association, released a statement calling this a “landmark study.” "Science has finally caught up with logic and what parents have known for centuries by empirically demonstrating that equipping teens to abstain from sexual activity is an effective way to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases." The National Abstinence Education Association has noted, "A survey from Zogby International showing that when parents become aware of what abstinence education vs. comprehensive sex education actually teaches, support for abstinence programs jumps from 40% to 60%,…
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Half of teen girls have STIs by 2 years of first sex

Children's Health, Parenting
Reuters Health is reporting that within 2 years of having sex for the first time, half of teenage girls may be at least one of three common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to results of a study published in December. Often, those girls are infected by the age of 15. Researchers followed 386 urban adolescent girls aged 14 to 17 for up to 8 years. Within 2 years of becoming sexually active, half of the girls were infected with at least one of three common sexually transmitted organisms: Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, or Trichomonas vaginalis the organisms that cause chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis, respectively. The researchers found that a quarter of the women had acquired their first STI by age 15, most often Chlamydia. "Repeated infections were very common," study…
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Media Alert – Larimores Discuss Sexual Abuse on “Focus on the Family” Broadcast today and tomorrow

Children's Health, Parenting
The Larimores (Barb, Kate, Scott, and I) will be on a two-day Focus on the Family Daily Radio Broadcast discussing the topic “Finding Healing from Sexual Abuse” on Monday, February 1 and Tuesday, February 2. Information about listening to the broadcast live or via podcast can be found here: Monday, February 1, 2010, Finding Healing from Sexual Abuse (Part 1 of 2), Tuesday, February 2, 2010, Finding Healing from Sexual Abuse (Part 2 of 2). I first publically discussed the sexual abuse that occurred in our family in my bookBryson City Secrets. It was this abuse that led us to leave Bryson City back in 1985. Why would Barb and I (and, why would Kate and Scott [and Scott’s wife Jennifer]) want to discuss such a private thing – such an…
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