There is something you should know about buying a 23andMe genetic test. You’re genetic data may be shared by big Pharma.
Here’s what you should know.
There is something you should know about buying a 23andMe genetic test. You’re genetic data may be shared by big Pharma.
Here’s what you should know.
Here is a wonderful article to take the guilt out of eating dark chocolate. It needs to be at least “70% cacao” according to the most recent studies this year carried out by Loma Linda University.
The benefits are impressive which include reducing stress levels, inflammation, improving mood, memory and immunity. It may even help neuroplasticity of the brain which can help the brain adapt to changing demands which results in learning and acquiring new skills.
So enjoy a nice piece of dark chocolate after dinner…it’s good for you!
What I sometimes see is elevated levels of DHEA and other hormones in women that are not on supplements. Where are these hormones coming from? I often check thyroid and adrenal hormones for symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and mood changes. Estrogen and Progesterone levels are also evaluated for insomnia, hot flushes and peri-menopausal symptoms.
There are several body products that have hidden endocrine disruptors which raise hormone levels in women (and men). Endocrine disrupting chemicals are substances in our environment (heated plastics, pesticides, etc), water, food, and personal care products that interfere withe the production, transport, metabolism, binding and elimination of hormones. These chemicals ultimately effect the balance of the body and can cause symptoms as I mentioned above, in addition to obesity, diabetes and certain cancers.
So when I see elevated hormones I recommend a detox program which consists of healthy exercise, lots of water (half your body weight in ounces), and healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids and flax seeds). I encourage dark leafy vegetables and colorful fruits with lean proteins. Avoid sugars, alcohol and processed foods. I will add a liver detox supplement to help clear liver pathways to flush out toxins. Healthy bowel movements are also important for detoxing.
Then we start investigating….
What body products, cosmetics, shampoos and other topical products are you using? Here is a common list of what to avoid that could be raising your hormone levels and risk for hormone imbalance and other chronic health illnesses.
Mammograms continue to be the gold standard for breast cancer screening. How often to do these tests for average risk women is debatable depending on the health organization that you follow or discuss with your health practitioner. This site can be helpful https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/BreastCancerScreeningforWomenatAverageRisk.html.
Many facilities also now offer a breast Tomosynthesis test along with your mammogram, which does make the screening more sensitive to finding breast cancer lesions. This 3-D mammogram may find up to 47% more cancers in women with dense breasts according to a Norway study in 2012. But be aware that it delivers twice as much radiation than traditional mammograms and the breast is compressed for about 48 seconds compared with about 20 seconds for a standard exam. Ouch!!
The question many women are asking is if they should get a breast MRI or when that would be indicated. Investigators performed an observational study in which they used > 2 million images from 6 breast cancer surveillance consortium registries to evaluate biopsy and pathology results after screening mammography and compared that with breast MRI. They looked at women with and without personal histories of breast cancer.
Results showed more high-risk benign (non-cancer) lesions involving biopsies with breast MRI than with mammogram regardless of personal history of breast cancer. Overall, biopsy rates were fivefold higher for MRI than mammography.
Recommendations are that women should not undergo routine breast MRI for cancer surveillance unless they meet certain criteria which includes:
Of course, discuss recommendations with your practitioner to determine the best screening for you.
Reference: Buist DSM et al. Breast biopsy intensity and findings following breast cancer screening in women with and without a personal history of breast cancer. JAMA Intern Med 2018 Feb 12; [e-pub]. (https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.8549).
Robert Silverman, DC has written a compelling article describing how It’s an interesting concept considering how many people have delayed recovery of this common, but not well-understood condition. So how does this occur?
First, we need to know that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is something that does not just occur with football players. It can happen in a car accident, slipping and falling, or impact with any contact sport. Immediately following a head injury or several weeks after the event, a patient may experience a variety of symptoms. These can include headaches, vomiting, lethargy, and irritability. TBI can also have long-term effects on the musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal tract and the immune system. These problems sometimes takes months to emerge from the initial accident.
After a head injury, the brain becomes inflammed. We are not sure why, but this leads to inflammation in the gut. It also happens very quickly…within hours. This gut inflammation increases intestinal permeability which allows large, immunogenic (substances that are able to produce an immune response) dietary proteins and bacterial toxins into the bloodstream. Inflammation in the bloodstream follows which keeps the blood-brain barrier (BBB) open and fuels the inflammation in the brain. The intestinal mucosa is the most nutrient-dependent, toxin vulnerable organ in the body. So when the intestinal villi are destroyed due to inflammation after a TBI, then it compromises the patients ability to absorb important nutrients for healing and repair. Also, the compromised BBB allows entry of more circulating substances that provoke the immune system, fueling the neurological inflammation. It’s a double whammy!
Knowing what structures are breaking down in the gut is important. Blood tests for certain bacterial toxins such as Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and distending toxin-B (CdtB) are recommended to determine the state of a patients gut health. The sooner you test the better, because delays identifying this cycle results in greater neurological tissue damage and reduced quality of life.
Reference: Silverman, R. “Gut Dysfunction Frequently Follows Traumatic Brain Injury”. Holistic Primary Care, Spring 2018, p. 8
In 2011, investigators discovered that a bacteria known as Fusobacteria, is often found in colon cancer tissue. Even though the bacteria may be an innocent bystander, it might also be a causative agent for colon cancer, much the same way as Helicobacteria pylori can be for gastric carcinoma.
In a new multicenter study, researchers pooled over 500 cases of colorectal cancer and confirmed that fusobacterial DNA was found in nearly 50% of primary tumors. They also found that this bacteria and it’s proteins were primarily in malignant cells rather than in non-malignant cells. This bacteria was cultured from primary and metastatic tumors.
Also, human colon cancer cells that were positive for fusobacterial DNA often grew into tumors when implanted in mice. When cells from those tumors were transplanted into other mice, they retained their bacterial DNA and grew into new tumors. When mice with tumors containing fusobacteria DNA were treated with metronidazole, an antibiotic to which fusobacteria are sensitive, tumor growth decreased. This did not occur with other antibiotics to which the bacteria was not sensitive.
This study suggests that such tumors might be prevented and treated by antimicrobial agents. More studies are needed, but this and more studies may lead to breakthroughs in cancer treatments.
Bullman S et al. Analysis of Fusobacterium persistence and antibiotic response in colorectal cancer. Science 2017 Dec. 15; 358:1443.
When we feel miserable with a sinus infection, we just want a magic pill to make the symptoms go away. Some people expect to go to their doctor and get an antibiotic for treatment. This can be a bad idea if it’s not the cause of the infection. We live in a time where antibiotic resistance is a big problem. Handing out antibiotics for treating colds that are due to viruses, is the main reason for this resistance problem. So here are some things to know…
The correct term is actually, “rhinosinusitis.” This is when the mucous lining in the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity become inflammed. It effects 1 in 7 adults each year in the U.S. It causes swelling and blockage of the normal openings that drain mucous. It also decreases the function of cilia (small hair-like structures) which are responsible for sweeping out mucous and debri from the nasal cavity.
Most (>80%) infections are due to viruses, which originate from the common “cold”. We catch these colds from direct contact by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching our face, wiping our nose or mouth. The other way it is spread is through airborne droplets that occur when someone coughs.
In the first 3-4 days of illness, you can’t tell a viral or bacterial infection apart. Symptoms are similar which includes nasal congestion, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, post nasal drip, sore throat, tooth and facial pain/pressure, fatigue, headache, bad breath and fever. Thick green mucous does not mean it is a bacterial infection needing antibiotics. This can be viral or it can indicate that the infection is coming to the end of its cycle and almost cleared.
During the first 7-10 days, it is best to do nasal washes with saline which you can make on your own, using 1 cup of warm filtered water and adding 1/4 tsp of sea salt and 1/8 tsp of baking soda. You can also use this solution for gargling if you have a sore throat. Decongestants are also helpful with nasal swelling and post nasal drip. You can try a homeopathic remedy or use over-the-counter Sudafed. Drink lots of water, get rest and fresh air. Exercise is fine as long as you are not running a fever. Try to avoid sugar, alcohol and coffee which can compromise the immune system.
So when to think about antibiotics? If your symptoms worsen over 10 days or you improve after the first few days and then your symptoms come back much worse. Also, predominant sinus pain on one side and discharge that looks like pus are times when you should see your practitioner.
Always wash your hands and cover your mouth with your arm or a tissue, (rather than your hands) when sneezing or coughing. Try to stay away from sick people if you can. There are some people that need to be referred to a specialist if symptoms continue to worsen after maximum treatment.
Aring, A et al. Current Concepts in Adult Acute Rhinosinusitis. American Family Physician. July 15, 2016 Vol. 94. Number 2
Its American Heart Month and I feel like I will be telling readers what they already know…We know what NOT to do.
Anti-inflammatory medications have been known to be harmful to the developing fetus. Many pregnant women instead have used acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever or pain relief. Recent research has shown an increase in the risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children from prenatal acetaminophen exposure. The question is whether this is due to acetaminophen exposure or parental ADHD.
To answer this question, researchers compared data from a Norwegian registry of approximately 113,000 children born between 1999-2009 (including 2246 with ADHD) with data on maternal and paternal ADHD symptoms, pre-pregnancy use of acetaminophen, and conditions for acetaminophen use. These were the results:
1. When mothers used acetaminophen for < 7 days during pregnancy, they had a slightly lower risk for ADHD in their children.
2. When mothers used acetaminophen for >7 days during pregnancy, they increased the risk for ADHD in offspring in a dose-dependant manner.
3. Pregnant mothers’ use of acetaminophen for >29 days more than doubled the risk for ADHD regardless of why women were taking this medication.
4. Maternal acetaminophen use before pregnancy was not associated with an increased risk of ADHD in offspring. Pre-pregnancy use was used as a control which strengthens the argument that acetaminophen exposure, not maternal ADHD symptoms explains the findings.
5. Paternal pre-conception use of acetaminophen for >29 days was also associated with a higher risk for ADHD in offspring!
I think the most surprising finding was that the father’s use of acetaminophen prior to conception increased the risk for ADHD in offspring. This medication may influence spermatogenesis (the process of sperm cell development).
This is another risk factor for developing ADHD. Women should limit their use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and find other ways to reduce pain. Mindfulness and yoga are a few ways to help tolerate the stress of parenting. ADHD is primarily determined by genetic factors so no woman should feel guilty about their prenatal acetaminophen use. I’m sure we will continue to find other risk factors as well as advances in treatment of this complex condition.
Ystrom, E et al. Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen and risk of ADHD. Pediatrics 2017 Nov; 140:e20163840.
Wolraich ML. An association between prenatal acetaminophen use and ADHD: The benefits of large data sets. Pediatrics 2017 Nov; 140e20172703.
It’s a new year…and with that comes new advances new medical breakthroughs. A new vaccine to prevent against Shingles was approved last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This really looks to be a breakthrough, so much so as Dr. William Shaffner, preventative disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine claims that with this new vaccine “the immune system of a 70-or 80-year-old responds as if the person were only 25-30.”
The new vaccine Shingrix, has been shown through international studies to prevent more than 90% of shingles cases, even at older ages. This is a big deal considering that the current shingles vaccine, Zostavax only prevents about half of shingles cases in those over age 60, and is far less effective among elderly patients. The effectiveness of Zostavax drops from 64% for people in their 60’s to 38% for those in their 70’s. Immunity starts to wane 5 years after receiving the vaccine. After 11 years the protection is close to zero! Whereas the new Shingrix vaccine prevented 90% of shingles in those 70 to well past 80.
Most older Americans have acquired shingles (varicella zoster virus) through childhood chickenpox, whether they knew they had the disease or not. The virus stays dormant and then erupts later in life. Different types of stressors are known to increase the risk of eruption, but the risk rises sharply after age 50. Getting shingles is hardly benign. Besides a very painful rash, it threatens to cause vision problems and lingering and debilitating nerve pain, called postherpetic neuralgia, that sometimes lasts months, even years after the initial rash fades.
What makes this new vaccine better?
1. It provides better protection against shingles from the start.
2. It’s protection lasts longer. So far, it remains effective for at least 6 years or longer.
3. It may protect people with compromised immune systems. Those with a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy or transplants, or H.I.V. or taking steroids may be able to get the vaccine where the old vaccine was off limits.
Problems?? First, Shingrix requires 2 vaccines given at least 2 months apart. Second, it tends to be more painful and cause more swelling and redness in the arm for up to 2 days. For those over age 70, 8.5% can experience fatigue, fever or achy joints for 1- 2 days. Lastly, it will be pricier. It may be covered depending on your insurance and medicare coverage.
Is it worth the discomforts or price? Compared to weeks or years of shingles and its complications…it’s a small price to pay.