ELLEN LOST A BET…SO WHY IS SHE SMILING?

Ellen and I had a bet. She had heard about the measles outbreaks and was worried she could be susceptible to an infection since she did not have measles as a child.

Since Ellen was born prior to 1957 she did not get the measles vaccine as it was not available…but that is also why I was sure she had the measles even though she did not recall it nor had she been told it as a child.

Measles (rubeola) is a viral infection that is the most highly contagious of viral infections and virtually all people born before 1957 were infected. Some people would have a ‘subclinical’ case, having not seen any rash but they were infected nonetheless.

As Ellen is not an ‘only child’ it was statistically impossible to me that she did not have the measles…but Ellen was certain, so to come to an understanding we did a blood test looking for IgG levels (gamma globulin specific to measles) that she had the infection in the past. Ellen was so sure…she wanted to ‘bet’….so we did….2 bottles of diet coke.

Sure enough…..her blood test was positive. I was not surprised, but Ellen was. She was certain of her history, but the blood test revealed otherwise. Like any good scientist, being proven ‘wrong’ is among the greatest achievements….as we learn so much from this. Ellen was glad to be found wrong…..and rejoiced in seeing the light. Edison, the great experimenter, found negative results helpful, commenting….. ‘I’ve not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’

Twain said it even better….. “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble…it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

WHEN PIGS FLY……PROBABLY SOMETIME SOON

I’ve written before about human organ transplantation that is about to become a reality as genetic engineering of pigs allows us to eliminate the barriers to trans-species transplantation (xenografting).  We already use pigs for valve transplantation and in the previous generations, for producing insulin and heparin.

Using the latest techniques of genetic engineering made possible by the revolutionary technique of Crisp-cas-9, we are on the brink of commonplace organ transplantation from pigs.  It is a real possibility.

Read more about it >>>HERE<<< in this article from the NY Times.

AGREED….IT’S A GAME-CHANGER

I’m intrigued by the new Apple 4 watch that has an FDA approved EKG monitor.

This is a much more accurate way to measure heart rhythm and is really the first readily available health monitor that provides accurate information that can be shared with the doctor.

I’m excited for this ‘new future’ and the Apple 4 is a game changer.  Read more >>>HERE<<<<

PS…Hypochondriacs…please don’t buy this…it will only cause consternation.

GET CRACKIN!

Physical activity is the single most important action you can take to improve your healthy.  Staying active impacts all aspects of health from memory to balance to heart and lung capacity.

Anyone, no matter their physical condition, and increase the physical activity…and dare I say, even exercise!

Yes, if this fellow in the England’s National Health Service can exercise…so can you.

Look at this LINK >>>HERE<<< for a series of easy-to-do exercises that are very simply explained.

DOES THE FLU SHOT CAUSE HEART ATTACKS…THE ANSWER: NOPE

I recently had a patient tell me about their friend who had a heart attack shortly after having a flu shot, and this was their reason for not getting a flu shot:   That the flu shot can cause heart attacks and strokes.

This is a great question.  If I heard this story, I too might hold off on my flu shot.

Do immunizations rev up the immune system and this initiate heart attacks and strokes?

I wasn’t sure of this answer, so I went to Google….but not regular Google where you find all sorts of misinformation when you are looking to answer a scientific question:  I went to Google Scholar.

For those who are not familiar, Google Scholar is a subset of Google that focuses on scientific and legitimate articles to eliminate the ‘trash’ on regular Google searches when you are trying to ask a more specific science question.

And, looking into this topic, I found a very specific answer to this question in an article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

IN this 2004 article out of England, the researches did a population study and showed:

  1.   Flu shots and other immunizations are NOT associated with heart attacks and strokes
  2. Infections (respiratory and urinary) are associated with an increased risk for subsequent heart attack stroke in the following several weeks
  3. The mechanism of action is presumed due to inflammation activation…but this is unknown.

Although these are not high likelihoods, we can confirm that taking a flu shot for heart and stroke patients:  A:  Is Safe and B:  Will reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by preventing infections.

Case Closed!

DO YOU HAVE PAGOPHAGIA?

The desire to chew on ice is called pagophagia, and if a person has an intense desire to chew ice they of  will often be found to have iron deficiency anemia.

It is the iron deficiency that causes this behavior as the person is seeking iron in their environment, and that desire if focused into eating ice as opposed to other natural substances (such as soil/dirt….non nutritive substances) that have a high level of iron in them naturally.

It is sometimes amazing when I find a person with very low iron levels and anemia and ask them about their ice eating.  They feel like I am a mind-reader.  Often their ice eating, although extreme, has not struck them yet as a bizarre sign that something must be wrong with them.

Pagophagia is just one form of pica, the eating of non-nutritive substances.  Other picas include eating hair, soil, paint chips (thus the children with lead poisoning, and even blood (vampires exhibit pica.)

So….eating ice is fine and is a normal behavior, but if you always feel the need to have ice in an ice chest in your car or cup, you may find that you are anemic and it would be worthwhile getting bloodwork to find out.

 

 

IT’S GETTING HARDER TO KNOW WHAT’S REAL

Medical research is a difficult undertaking.   Exploring new ideas and proving new concepts takes genius and diligence.

Reading the story of James Allison, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, you hear of all the dead ends and crazy ideas he pursued, until he finally lighted upon the novel method of proving that you could turn the immune system on, and fight cancer with the body’s own defenses.   His story is a master class in perseverance and tenacity.

Contrast that with Brian Wansink, a Cornell nutrition researcher whose entire list of research has been withdrawn from journals due to his duplicity and mendacity in reporting false results.    His misleading results have wasted time and money, all in the pursuit of his own ego and money.

In this world, it can be difficult to separate these two types.  History if filled with deceptions and greatness…..on the same page.

It is my job, as a Hopkin’s trained medical scientist, to help my patients decipher what is a great advance and what is a bunch of hooey.   I’m at it 24/7/365…..so….rest easy!

 

Read more ….HERE

 

NOW IRBESARTAN IS RECALLED

First, it was a few manufacturers of Valsartan..then more and more.  As a result, I had switched many patients (myself indcluded) to Irbesartan….a very similar medication.

Now there are concerns about small amounts of carcinogen in Irbesartan.  It is just starting with only one manufacturer, but probably there will be more.

For now…sit tight and don’t change.  There may be no safe harbor.   Issue is developing.

We will keep you posted.  Here is what the FDA is saying..so check on this for now.  Check >>>HERE<<<”

 

To Reach about the safety seen so far, despite the contamination of Valsartan, read more >>>>HERE<<<

A PATIENT ASKS ABOUT RECALLED MEDICATION…AND I RESPOND

Doctor Doug:

I heard on the news that one of my  medications was recalled due to chemical concerns and cancer risk.  Can you tell me what you recommend I do?

Sid

I responded

Sid;
Right now…..several blood pressure medications are being implicated with concerns of imperfect production with chemical ‘taint’.
The studies do not support any short term worries, but nonetheless, this is not ideal or acceptable over time.

Plan:
1. Call your pharmacy and check to see if your medication lot# has been recalled.

2. Get an alternative producer if your manufacturer or lot has been directly recalled, if available in that pharmacy. If not, call an alternative pharmacy to see about their medication and lots.
2. Return to our website where we will post and updated list on medications that are recalled and resources where you can locate information
3. Continue on your current medication dose and type if it is working as there may be no perfectly safe harbor until this issue is clarified.

D

LINKS

Lack of short term risk of tainted medications

https://www.tctmd.com/news/lack-short-term-cancer-risk-tainted-valsartan-reassuring

FDA RECALLS:

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm

FDA EMAIL UPDATES FOR RECALLS (SIGN UP)

http://go.fda.gov/subscriptionmanagement

 

HALLELUJAH!!!! INEXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTIONS MEDICATIONS

Finally, there is an on-line pharmacy that allows you to check the price of a medication so you have a reference point for your own pharmacy charges and costs.

In addition, it is a full-service pharmacy that is available in all 50 states and has been sanctioned by Consumer Reports.  You can order your medications for these prices at…..

www.HealthWarehouse.com

It is a great resource to find the cost of your medications and also a great place to get inexpensive generic medications.

Combine that with this Canadian resource

www.pharmacychecker.com

to get prescriptions that are not yet available as generics here in the US or which may be cheaper as brand name medications in Canada, and you have a potent one-two punch against the abuses by Walgreens, CVS, and the like non-covered medications.

 

PS…..add www.Costco.com to the list of ‘good guys’.  You can always get a good price there and they will not gouge you.   You don’t have to be a member to Costco to use their pharmacy services, but I’d support them with a membership if I got my medications there.