To my Patients and Friends,
Here are the latest health highlights… enjoy!
A recent Canadian study published in JAMA Pediatrics has revealed that recovery time after a concussion can depend on age or gender. In young children, symptoms generally improve significantly within two weeks, regardless of gender. However, in adolescents, girls were found to take significantly longer than boys to recover– up to twelve weeks.
And in a related study soon to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Orlando, it was found that young athletes who have good sleep quality after sustaining a concussion are more likely to recover within two weeks. Those who don’t have good sleep quality often take longer to recover, sometimes greater than 30 days.
It would be prudent to take these factors into consideration when discussing a concussion recovery protocol with your physicians.
A large Canadian study of almost 149,000 women just published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that delaying a second pregnancy by 18 months versus 6 months can lead to better neonatal outcomes for all mothers, and particularly for younger mothers.
In a trial composed of 1,617 participants that was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish oil) did not lead to a total reduction in the overall incidence of cardiovascular events or invasive cancer. These findings are certainly notable. However, a deeper dive into the data revealed that omega 3s reduced the rate of heart attacks specifically by 28%. To further confuse the picture, another study published in the same journal found that taking a proprietary prescription strength fish oil supplement (called Vascepa) did reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
So perhaps these supplements aren’t all that they’ve been cracked up to be. Or perhaps higher doses of fish oil may be beneficial, or that benefits don’t appear until they are used for a longer period of time. Or perhaps the benefits are only conferred when refined fish oils are used. More to come on this… but in terms of the risk-to-benefit ratio, it may be reasonable to continue using these supplements depending on your particular state of health, as the anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3s are likely beneficial, irrespective of any impacts on heart health.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have determined that people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)- a common condition in which excess fat is stored in the liver- is linked with increased cancer risk. NAFLD refers to a buildup of fat in the liver that is not caused by heavy alcohol use but rather is most commonly associated with such factors as obesity, high blood sugar or diabetes, or high levels of fats in the blood. NAFLD is often first found during a routine physical, when abnormal blood tests are noted. In most cases, improved lifestyle habits (such as a healthy diet and regular exercise) can help correct NAFLD. According to the researchers, nearly all specific cancer types- excluding lung and esophageal cancers- are significantly more common with NAFLD. So this study provides us with another example of ways in which simple lifestyle choices can actually reduce cancer risk.
Evidence is mounting that there may be concrete benefits to choosing organic foods. In a recent study of nearly 70,000 French adults published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that a higher frequency of organic food intake is associated with a reduced cancer risk. This was an observational study and not a clinical trial, so we don’t really know whether these findings are due to reduced exposure to pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, or because people who eat organic foods also tend to engage in other beneficial lifestyle patterns (which can also reduce cancer risk). Either way, as organic foods become increasingly available and affordable, it would make sense to keep them on your shopping list when possible.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced another blood pressure medication recall over concerns the contaminated drug might be carcinogenic.
Sandoz Inc. is voluntarily recalling lot #JB8912 of losartan potassium/hydrochlorothiazide tablets because the pills could contain N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), which has been deemed as a probable human carcinogen.
Patients who are currently taking tablets from this lot number are advised to contact Sandoz Inc. at 800-525-8747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, talk to your physician or pharmacist about making a temporary change.
I always encourage everyone to get flu shots, and it’s not too late this season. Please arrange for a flu shot if you haven’t gotten one already!
I’ll end this entry with a couple of links related to the dangerous ways in which “Big Food” influences U.S. federal agencies, nutrition guidelines, the health of our nation and your grocery list. Check out this short video and this fascinating (but disturbing) article.
That’s all for this edition… Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
Larry Leibowitz, MD