To my Patients,
Here are the latest medical news highlights…enjoy!
Reading with children? Expect happier endings with ink
In a study recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics, it was found that parents and their young children interacted more constructively when reading books with actual pages versus on electronic tablets. The researchers found that, during the course of flipping through pages together, there was more dialogue between parent and child, and toddlers tended to verbalize more readily when reading in print. They speculate that the additional stimuli associated with e-books may supplant interactions that would otherwise take place in the absence of enhancements like sound, captivating imagery, etc. Based on these findings, it might make sense to dust off those old-fashioned books as a means of engaging more effectively with your children and, perhaps, more adequately preparing them for the school years that lie ahead.
Again with the drug recalls
More blood pressure medications within the angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARBs) category have been recalled. A new series of recalls (again due to contaminants) was recently posted by the FDA for generic LOSARTAN due to the discovery of trace amounts of N-Nitroso N-Methyl 4-aminobutyric acid (NMBA), considered to be a “probable human carcinogen.” Previous recalls have involved certain VALSARTAN and IRBESARTAN products. Interestingly, in response to the resulting drug shortage, the FDA has allowed for a temporary increase in the threshold level of NMBA in these medications, indicating that their researchers found that higher exposures for six months were not associated with increased cancer risk (although I question the robustness of this evidence). This means that manufacturers are temporarily allowed to sell losartan containing NMBA at levels which were previously considered unacceptable. To be honest, I am not comfortable with this exception. While the FDA says they expect NMBA-free LOSARTAN to be back on shelves in approximately 6 months, my interim advice is to check with your pharmacist to make sure there have been no recalls listed for your particular medication’s lot number and/or manufacturer, or check the FDA website as follows:
- For valsartan-containing products currently recalled, click here.
- For irbesartan-containing products currently recalled, click here.
- For losartan-containing products currently recalled, click here.
Alternative ARBs that have not yet been affected by recalls and which you may want to consider include:
- azilsartan (brand: Edarbi)
- candesartan (brand: Atacand)
- eprosartan (brand: Teveten)
- telmisartan (brand: Micardis)
- olmesartan (brand: Benicar)
The FDA has also published a link with helpful information on the recalls, including a Q&A section. Please check your meds!
Friends or foes?
Eggs are back in the headlines. At one time, eggs were shunned by physicians and dieticians for their high cholesterol content. Then, with the more recent paleo, keto, and other “low-carb” movements, the perspective had begun to shift, and eggs assumed a more agreeable position in the eyes of many who embrace these dietary philosophies (for the record, I do not). Now the pendulum seems to have swung back a bit. A new study recently published in JAMA seems to reconfirm that there is a causative link between higher dietary cholesterol intake and heart disease risk. In this study, each additional half an egg consumed was found to be associated with increased heart and mortality risk. Other recent studies have found similar associations between dietary cholesterol (and saturated fat) and heart disease. Although we don’t know for sure whether or not an otherwise very healthy diet may counteract the potential negative impact of dietary cholesterol on our heart vessels, my advice is and always will be: eat fewer eggs. Click here for a brief summary of the decades-long back-and-forth on eggs.
Wine enthusiasts take heed
According to a recent British study, one bottle of wine per week increases lifetime risk for cancer by 1% for non-smoking men and by 1.4% for non-smoking women (the greater increase for women being due to breast cancer risk). The researchers equate this increased risk to that associated with smoking 5-10 cigarettes per week…which is an eye-opening analogy. Although it would be hypocritical of me to advise that you sever all connections with the fruit of the vine, this study does add to the mounting evidence that there are cancer risks associated with even moderate alcohol intake. Studies do indicate that no amount of alcohol should be considered absolutely safe. I can only suggest that you keep this new study in mind. And particularly for women with a personal or family history of breast cancer (and please don’t shoot the messenger), less may definitely be more.
Autism researchers with vision
Although probably not yet ready for prime time, I found this new approach to helping kids with autism to be noteworthy. Researchers at Stanford University published a study showing that the use of smart glass-based artificial intelligence enabled children with autism to more effectively interpret facial expression—typically a major obstacle to effective interpersonal communication in this group. The study showed that, over the course of six weeks, subjects who used Google Glass linked to a proprietary smartphone app demonstrated improved social abilities compared with subjects who continued with usual therapy alone. Very cool, indeed.
That’s all for now…Happy Spring!