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Multiple Partners Increase Risk of Oral HPV

Seven per cent of Americans have the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) actively growing in their mouths (Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan. 25, 2012;307(4):335-421). HPV can cause cancer of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, head, neck, cervix, penis or skin. This study shows that TRANSMISSION BY CASUAL, NONSEXUAL CONTACT IS UNUSUAL.

• Oral HPV is spread through sexual contact, rather than casual contact such as kissing. The incidence of oral HPV is lower than that of genital HPV.

• HPV is found far more frequently in sexually-active people compared to abstainers, and the most significant risk factor for being infected with these viruses is the lifetime number of sex partners. The more sexual partners in your lifetime, the more likely you are to carry HPV and suffer oral cancer.

• The younger you begin having sex, the greater your chances of carrying oral HPV.

• Men are three times more likely than women to have HPV in their mouths. The authors believe that this is probably because the rate of men performing oral sex on women is higher than the rate of women performing oral sex on men (Emerg Infect Dis, 2008;14(6):888-894). Oral HPV prevalence increased more sharply with the number of sexual partners for men than for women.

• The two age groups with the highest incidence of oral HPV are 30-34 and 60-64-year-olds.

• HPV vaccines can prevent anal and genital cancers, but we do not have data showing that they prevent oral HPV.

• The signs and symptoms of mouth cancer are mouth ulcers, sores, or red or white patches that last longer than three weeks, persistent pain on swallowing, difficulty swallowing, a change in voice, ear pain, a feeling of a ball in the throat, a neck mass, or unexplained weight loss.

• Tobacco use increases oral cancer risk.

• Other studies show that alcohol and a diet low in fruits and vegetables also increase risk for oral cancer.


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Why Injected Steroids Are Effective in Relieving Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Cortisone-type injections into joints control painful rheumatoid arthritis by blocking protein changes that damage joints (Arthritis Research & Therapy, published online Feb. 2012).

REACTIONS THAT CAUSE RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by the production of PAD enzymes that convert an amino acid, arginine, into citrullinated proteins. Then the victim's immunity makes highly specific anti- citrullinated protein antibodies that attack the synovium and cause it to swell, thicken, and hurt.

WHY CORTISONE INJECTIONS WORK: Injecting cortisone-type drugs into the joints blocks the production of the PAD enzymes that produce citrullinated proteins, and this decreases the thickness of the synovium, and the resultant pain.

THE STUDY: The authors biopsied the swollen knees of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and normal controls. One group was given methotrexate, a common RA treatment used for more than 40 years. The other group was given cortisone-type injections (40 mg triamcinolone hexacetonide) into the knee joint.

Antibodies to citrullinated proteins were found in 86 percent of biopsy samples from the RA patients and in none of the healthy tissue samples. After eight weeks, those receiving the cortisone- type injections had far less swelling of their synovia, far less evidence of inflammation under the microscope, and lower levels of cutrullinated proteins and PAD enzymes. Methotrexate had no effect on citrullinated proteins, PAD enzymes or inflammation in the synovium, although these patients did feel better.

CONCLUSION: This study explains why cortisone-type injections are such an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. However, the effects of the injections do not last and a few months later, the patient may need another injection that may increase risk for diabetes, osteoporosis, and other side effects.


Vitamin D Deficiency in Wintertime

Low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with muscle pain, weakness, and increased susceptibility to injuries. While 93 percent of professional Spanish soccer players have adequate levels of vitamin D in the fall (October), only 64 percent had adequate levels in the winter (February) {Clinical Nutrition, February 2012; 31(1):132-136}.

If you are a regular exerciser who has a decrease in performance, recurrent injuries or chronic muscle or tendon pains, get a blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. If it is below 75 nmol/L =30 ng/ml, you need more sunlight or vitamin D pills. You cannot meet your needs for vitamin D from the food that you eat.


Recipe of the Week:

Red Pepper Soup

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE


February 5th, 2012
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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