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Sunlight: More than Vitamin D

For many years I have offered my opinion that sunlight provides benefits that are not gained just from taking vitamin D pills. Recent research is confirming that opinion, and many scientists now believe that low vitamin D blood levels are only a marker for not getting enough sunlight.

Lifestyle and Drugs to Treat Osteoporosis

On April 9, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new osteoporosis drug called Evenity. Bones are constantly changed by bone cells called osteoblasts that grow new bone and osteoclasts that remove old bone cells. Evenity is a monoclonal antibody that blocks the effects of the protein sclerostin that encourages the growth of osteoclasts that remove old bone cells.

Night-Time Leg Cramps

Up to 60 percent of North American adults suffer from night-time leg cramps, a sudden painful contraction usually of the calf muscles that can last from a few seconds up to 10 minutes or more. Doctors do not know what causes most cases of leg cramps, but usually they are not caused by dehydration or lack of minerals.

Herd Immunity With Vaccines

The only way that the pandemic will end is when a sufficient percentage of people become immune to COVID-19, most by being vaccinated plus a lesser number of people who have been infected with the virus and recovered. This is called herd immunity. Researchers tell us that in the U.S., the pandemic will not end until about 40 to 70 percent of the population is immune.

Do Not Overdose on Vitamin D

You cannot be poisoned by vitamin D through sun exposure or diet alone, but vitamin D poisoning can occur when people take high-dose supplements for an extended time. Excess vitamin D can cause blood calcium levels to rise and after several months of having high blood calcium levels and having no symptoms at all, you can develop kidney failure and not even know it.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Joint Pain

Eighty percent of North Americans have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis by age 65, and 60 percent have significant joint pain. Researchers at Surrey University in England reviewed 68 studies on the effects of diet on osteoarthritis and found that osteoarthritis is associated with everything that increases inflammation, and that the joint pain can be reduced by everything associated with the control of inflammation.

Some Cases of Dementia Have Effective Treatments

More than six million North Americans suffer from dementia, which affects three percent of people age 65-74, 17 percent of age 75-84, and 32 percent of those age 85 and older. Anything that damages brain cells can cause dementia and many of the causes are treatable.

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).

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.

Reduce Inflammation and Clotting to Prevent Heart Attacks

Heart attacks and strokes cause 50 percent of the deaths in North America today, yet many people are not adopting the lifestyle changes needed to prevent the factors that cause them: inflammation and clotting. A new study from the University of Michigan shows how important inflammation is as a cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Dry, Cracked Skin on Heels (Fissures)

Dry skin on any part of the body can be annoying and can cause flaking and cracking, redness due to scratching, and unsightly patches of thick or hard skin. When dry skin occurs on the feet, the symptoms are magnified due to wearing shoes, the stretching of the skin on the feet with every step . . .

High Blood Pressure and Colon Bacteria

The CARDIA Study shows that having certain types of bacteria in your colon is associated with having high blood pressure, and that you can lower blood pressure by improving the proportion of healthful to unhealthful bacteria in your colon. Lifestyle changes may be more important than drugs in treating high blood pressure.

A First Vaccine for COVID-19

Oxford University in England has developed a vaccine and will start trials on more than 6,000 people on Thursday, April 30, 2020, to see if their new vaccine is safe and effective.

What Do Blood Cholesterol Levels Mean?

Having a high (>100 mg/dL) bad LDL cholesterol or a low (<40) good HDL cholesterol has long been associated with increased risk for heart attacks. However, new studies show that you can form plaques and be at risk for a heart attack even if your bad LDL cholesterol is as low as 50.

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery is Usually Useless

I have said repeatedly that surgery to trim attached cartilage in the knee is usually worthless. I have seen many patients who have had cartilage removed by surgeons for an average charge of $5000, and then they must have a knee replacement several years later.

Most Urinary Symptoms are Caused by Infections

The vast majority of women who have burning on urination, frequency and urgency have urinary tract infections, even if their cultures do not grow any germs.

Co-Enzyme Q10 Pills Do Not Lessen Muscle Aches from Statins

Up to 20 percent of people who take statin drugs to lower cholesterol suffer from muscle aches, particularly when they try to exercise. A systematic review found eight studies that showed that Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) does not reduce statin-induced muscle pain, compared to placebo.

Protecting Yourself from COVID-19

As businesses and activities are re-opening, many people have decided to relax their precautions to avoid infection with COVID-19. If you are a person who is at high risk for complications from this virus, I believe that you should continue to be on guard.

Blood Type

There are more than 300 known variations in blood types. For example, you are also classified as to whether the surface of your red blood cells contain a Duffy surface. Almost no one in Africa has the Duffy red blood cell type.

Blood Pressure During and After Exercise

Your blood pressure usually rises as soon as you start to exercise and drops a little bit while you exercise at the same intensity. However, as you continue to increase the intensity of exercise, your blood pressure usually rises higher and higher.

Metabolic Syndrome Predicts Heart Attacks and Diabetes

A huge study from Korea confirms that people with Metabolic Syndrome are at increased risk for heart attacks, and that when they correct some or all of the components of Metabolic Syndrome, their risk for a heart attack goes down dramatically.

Hammer Toes

A hammertoe is a general name for a toe that is bent. Hammertoes are caused by genetics, arthritis, poor-fitting shoes, or feet that are either excessively high-arched or flat. You can't change genetics, and in most cases, you can't prevent arthritis.

Aging and Risk for Dementia

Dementia means loss of brain function, and your chance of having dementia increases with age. Doctors can now predict increased risk for developing dementia by ordering an MRI which can show decreased volume of grey matter in the brain.

Your Appendix is Useful After All

I had my appendix removed when I was a child because the doctor told my mother it was a useless organ that might someday burst and cause horrible problems. After generations of children had their appendices removed for no reason, researchers have found that perhaps it may have an important function.

Best Diet to Prevent and Treat Diabetes

More than 30 million adults in North America suffer from diabetes and another 85 million have pre-diabetes that is likely to become full-blown diabetes within five years. Research papers published this month suggest that people who are diabetic or likely to become diabetic should eat a very large amount of plant fiber and restrict animal products, particularly red meat and processed meats.

Sunscreens and Sun Protection

Sunscreens help to prevent sunburns and skin cancers because they actually block the ultraviolet rays of the sun that damage the skin. However, some sunscreens are safe, while others may not be safe.

Atrial Fibrillation in Endurance Athletes

Medical researchers agree that exercising into old age helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes and cancers and prolongs lives, but one report shows that sometimes competing in endurance sports may cause atrial fibrillation.

How Would I Treat Myself If I Got COVID-19?

If I had COVID-19 and was not very sick, I do not know if I would take anything. Today there are no drugs or treatments proven to prevent or cure COVID-19, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not licensed any treatment specifically for the virus.

Heart Attack Prevention Guidelines

On November 10, 2018, heart specialists presented the latest recommendations for preventing heart attacks from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association: Treat all of their patients with recommendations for heart-attack-preventing lifestyle changes, and Treat all patients with significant heart attack risk factors with medications that lower blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol.

The Search for Drugs to Treat COVID-19

Today there are no drugs that have been proven to treat the coronavirus, COVID-19, but a study from China showed that the inexpensive anti-malarial drug, Chloroquine phosphate, was safe and effective in shortening the course and decreasing symptoms in patients suffering from COVID-19 pneumonia.