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What You Should Know About Monkeypox

So far, the monkeypox virus does not appear to be likely to cause an epidemic or to be any more dangerous than chicken pox. There is evidence that it can be spread from humans-to-humans, rather than from most cases previously of animal-to-human transmission, so there is concern that this recent monkeypox virus has changed to become more transmissible.

Should Men Take Testosterone?

Many men take testosterone because they think it will help them to function better sexually, increase muscle strength, raise bone density, and improve mood, behavior, and mental function. As of May 2022, the only FDA-approved indication for men to take testosterone is having low testosterone levels. Testosterone has not been approved for age-related drops in testosterone, and there is significant concern that testosterone use is associated with increased plaques in the arteries leading to the heart.

Cancer Patients Are At Increased Risk for Heart Attacks

A study of 4,519,243 Canadian adults followed for 12 years found 224,016 cases of new cancers, and the people with newly diagnosed cancers were at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, lung clots, or death from heart disease. Patients with new cancers of the kidney, urinary tract, stomach, intestines, chest, nervous system or blood were at the highest risk for heart disease.

The Latest on COVID-19

I am following the latest developments on COVID-19 and our efforts to control the pandemic or to deal with it as an endemic disease. I will update this page regularly, so if you are interested, check back often.

Exercise to Treat Arthritis

If you have joint pain, you should still keep moving. There is increasing evidence that exercise can help to treat and prevent osteoarthritis of the hips and knees. Low-intensity sessions of walking or cycling offered pain relief after just 2-12 weeks (BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, Feb 3, 2022;23(113)), and after joint replacement surgery (Sport Sci Rev, 2021;49(2):77-87).

Daily Aspirin is Beneficial Primarily for People at High Risk for a Heart Attack

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has advised against people aged 60 and older taking aspirin for primary heart attack prevention because of their increased risk for bleeding into the brain or gastrointestinal tract.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent and Treat Diabetes

A healthful plant-based diet can help to cure Type II diabetes if you already have it, or help to protect you from developing diabetes in the first place. People who eat the healthful plant-based foods -- vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds --are far better protected than those who eat the "unhealthful" plant-derived foods, such as refined grains, fried potatoes and sugar-added foods

Strength Training to Help Prevent and Treat Osteoporosis

All men and women will develop osteoporosis if they live long enough and the best way to prevent this increased risk for breaking bones may well be a resistance exercise program. A study from Romania found that a resistance training program markedly increased the bone density of osteoporotic women, average age 56 years, in just six months.

A Low-Fiber Diet to Treat Constipation?

The standard treatment for chronic constipation is to eat a high fiber, plant-based diet. However, other studies have shown that taking in large amounts of fiber can actually cause constipation in some people. In one study, constipated people on a high-fiber diet solved most of their constipation problems by going on a very low fiber diet..

Sleeping with Lights on and Not Getting Enough Sleep Both Increase Risk for Diabetes

Sleeping with the lights on or a television set on for just one night raises blood sugar, heart rate and insulin resistance, all risk factors for diabetes. Five to ten percent of the light can actually get through a closed eyelid. An elevated nightly blood sugar, called the "dawn phenomenon," increases risk for heart disease and diabetes

Excess Fat in Your Liver Increases Risk for Heart Attacks, Strokes and Dementia

Having excess fat in your liver is associated with increased risk for a heart attack. A review of 36 studies on 5,802,226 middle-aged individuals with 99,668 cases of heart attacks, in a median follow-up period of 6.5 years, found that those with fatty liver disease had 1.5 times the incidence of heart attacks as the general population.

High Triglycerides Are a Major Risk Factor for Heart Attacks and Diabetes

Having blood triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) puts you at increased risk for a heart attack, stroke, or heart valve disease, even if your blood cholesterol levels are normal (Eur Heart J, Dec 2021;42(47):4791-4806). About 10 percent of North Americans suffer from high triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are often found in people who are diabetic, obese or alcoholic.

Plastic Water Bottles May Be Harmful

A study from Copenhagen found more than 400 different substances from bottle plastic, and more than 3,500 substances derived from dishwasher soap in reusable plastic bottles stored for 24 hours after being washed in a dishwasher. The water stored in plastic bottles contained endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, insecticides, plastic softeners, antioxidants and release agents used in the manufacture of the plastic, as well as Diethyltoluamide (DEET), found in mosquito sprays.

Does Marijuana or Hemp Affect Brain Health?

The American Heart Association (AHA) reported that cannabinoid chemicals in marijuana and hemp may have harmful effects on the brain, and presented a review of the scientific literature at the AHA’s 2022 International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.

Should You Take Melatonin to Help You Fall Asleep?

This year, about six million North Americans will take over-the-counter sleeping pills called melatonin. The percentage of people taking melatonin regularly has increased five-fold, from 0.4 percent in 1999 to 2.1 percent in 2017, even though the evidence that it helps people fall asleep is controversial.

Low Vitamin D Increases Risks for Heart Attacks and Severe COVID-19

Recent studies show that having low levels of vitamin D is associated with increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and severe consequences of COVID-19. Researchers in Australia collected data prospectively from 295,788 participants, and found that having low blood levels of vitamin D is associated with increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. (Normal blood levels of hydroxy-vitamin D are considered to be above 30 ng/mL).

Check Your Own Blood Pressure

You can’t depend completely on blood pressure measurements done only in a doctor’s office because being active, having “white coat syndrome,” (feeling nervous or stressed), or an improper hurried measurement can raise blood pressure considerably. In one study, systolic blood pressure was 7.3 mm Hg higher in a doctor’s office than when measured more precisely in a research setting.

Treat High Blood Pressure with Lifestyle Changes

Very aggressive control of high blood pressure helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes and premature death far more effectively than less stringent control. You cannot cure high blood pressure with drugs, you can only control it as long as you continue to take the drugs. Most of the time, your blood pressure cannot be controlled with just one drug and most people end up with three or more drugs to treat their high blood pressure.

Preventing Osteoporosis

Everyone loses bone with aging. A review of 40 studies on almost 80,000 subjects found that more than 35 percent of people over 60 suffer from osteoporosis that increases risk for bone fractures and death. People who suffer osteoporotic hip fractures have a 20 percent chance of dying within the next year. If you have suffered bone fractures with minimal trauma, the odds are strong that you have osteoporosis.

Forgetfulness is Not Necessarily a Warning Sign of Dementia

One in nine North Americans over age 65 will develop dementia, a progressive brain disorder that interferes with normal daily living and is marked by memory loss, personality changes and impaired reasoning). Aging is the major risk factor for dementia, but forgetfulness among seniors does not necessarily mean the person is headed for dementia.

Are Electric Blankets Safe?

There is no good data to show that electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) produced by electric blankets, cell phones and other devices cause cancer. Electric blankets do emit radiation from the movement of electric current through wires. Extensive studies in animals have repeatedly failed to show that low-frequency radiation EMFs cause cancer.

Many Common Drugs Can Raise Blood Pressure

A very important new study of 27,599 adults, average age 47-50, showed that almost 15 percent of North American adults and almost 19 percent of those with high blood pressure take medications that can raise blood pressure. The blood-pressure-raising medicines taken most frequently were antidepressants, NSAIDs, steroids, and estrogens.

Less Salt, More Potassium to Help Prevent Heart Attacks

A review of six major studies that measured salt intake by the amount of salt in the urine found that a high salt intake is associated with significantly increased risk for suffering heart attacks and strokes. This review is extremely dependable because it measured salt intake directly by how much salt and potassium was secreted in a person’s urine each day, and did not depend on a patient's memory.

Lifestyle Changes to Treat and Prevent Prostate Cancer

Extensive data show that the typical western diet, obesity, and lack of exercise are associated with increased risk for prostate cancer. Recent studies now show that intense exercise and an anti-inflammatory diet help to reduce markers for prostate cancer progression in men who already have prostate cancer.

Blood Pressure is Often Higher in Wintertime

If you have high blood pressure in the winter, you are at increased risk for a heart attack, even if your blood pressure is normal in the summertime. Blood pressure is often higher in winter and lower in summer, and heart attacks are significantly more common in the winter than in the summer

New Guidelines on Aspirin for Heart Attack Prevention

Daily aspirin can help to prevent heart attacks, but the United States Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that: adults 60 years and older should not take aspirin to help prevent a first heart attack, and those 40-59 years old who are at high risk for heart disease should take aspirin only on their doctor’s recommendation

Overdiagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease

Older people may be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease because of their results on a routine blood test called eGFR (Estimated Glomular Filtration Rate) that is used to screen for kidney damage. This test is important because patients with kidney disease often have no symptoms until just before the kidneys fail. However, it is normal for people to lose some kidney function with aging.

The Latest on COVID-19: Archive

This post contains older entries in my summaries of research on COVID-19 vaccinations and other aspects of the epidemic since it began in late 2019. Newer entries can be found in the main post titled The Latest on COVID-19.

Impotence Often Precedes a Heart Attack

Impotence often precedes a heart attack by three to five years. A review of the scientific literature found that men who are impotent have a 59 percent increased risk for heart attacks, a 34 percent increased risk for a stroke, and a 33 percent increased risk for dying from any cause. One study showed that impotent men were twice as likely to develop heart disease.

Stabilizing Plaques with Exercise and Possibly Statins

Heart attacks are not caused by plaques making arteries too narrow. They are caused by plaques suddenly breaking off from the inner lining of a heart artery, followed by bleeding, and then a clot forms that completely blocks all blood flow to a part of the heart muscle.