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Other Diseases & Conditions

Exercise to Help Prevent Dementia

Sitting and lying without moving for long periods is a significant risk factor for dementia. In a recent study, almost 50,000 non-demented people in the UK, age 60 and older, wore wrist accelerometers 24 hours a day for a week to measure their levels of activity, and were then followed for almost seven years. By the end of the follow-up period, 414 of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia. Compared to sitting for a little over nine hours a day, those who spent 10 hours a day sitting or lying had an eight percent increased risk for becoming demented and those who spent 12 or more hours not moving had a 63 percent increased risk for becoming demented.

Marijuana Use Linked to Increased Risk for Heart Attacks and Strokes

Two studies were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Studies (2023), showing that regular use of marijuana markedly increases risk for heart attacks and strokes in people with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol (CNN Health, Nov 6, 2023). Marijuana increases risk for heart failure by about one-third, compared to people who reported never using marijuana.

Body Odor is Usually Harmless

All people can develop body odor when certain bacteria or fungi colonize on their skin. Normal sweat doesn’t smell when it first reaches your skin. The odor usually comes only after certain microbes on the skin’s surface break down the fat in sweat to form chemicals that smell. Most sweat glands produce sweat that contains no fat, but the sweat glands around the breasts, genitals and armpits produce sweat that contains fat.

Blood Tests to Predict Who Will Live to 100

A study of 44,000 Swedish adults, 64 to 99 years of age, followed for up to 35 years, found that 2.7 percent (1,224) lived to their 100th birthday (Geroscience, Nov 4, 2023). Among the 1,224 centenarians in this study, 84 percent were women. The researchers wanted to find out which blood tests (measures of metabolism, inflammation, liver function, kidney function, anemia, and nutritional status) would appear to predict longevity.

Masks Help to Prevent Infections with Respiratory Viruses

Refusing to wear a mask when you have a respiratory infection and are near other people shows total disregard for their health. We have just gone through the major portion of a COVID-19 epidemic and can expect other epidemics from this and other viruses in the future. Many studies show that a proper mask will block some of the viruses, and droplets spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or talks.

Every New Contact Puts You At Risk for Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 20 million new cases of venereal diseases occur every year. One out of five North American adults have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and STDs cost the U.S. healthcare system nearly $16 billion/year. Worldwide, 31 percent of adults have genital herpes (HPV) that causes many cases of genital and oral cancers

Early Diagnosis Helps to Prevent and Treat Colon Cancer

An early colon cancer often has no symptoms whatever, so screening tests can boost survival rates by diagnosing a colon cancer before it has caused symptoms and spread to other parts of the body. Polyps detected in any of the screening tests can be removed, which greatly improves the rates of survival.

Lifestyle Factors Linked to Delaying Memory Loss

A study from Spain called the Vallecas Project has followed 1169 non-demented people, average age 74.4, for six years and found that some of the participants had memory test scores that were equal to people who were 30 years younger. The authors call the high-scorers "superagers" and they have done further testing on 64 of them, with a matched control group of 55 "typical older adults" who had average memory test scores.

How to Avoid Skin Cancer

Almost all skin cancers are caused by repeated damage to the DNA in skin cells from excessive exposure to sunlight. Every cell in your body is programmed to live for a limited time and then die. This is called apoptosis. For example, red blood cells live for only around 120 days and then die. A new skin cell starts on the inner bottom layer of your skin and then progressively moves to the outside, where it is sloughed off as dander or dandruff at about 28 days.

Inflammation May Explain Association of Dementia with Constipation

Ten thousad people attended the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) in Amsterdam on July 19, 2023, which featured more than 3,000 scientific presentations. Much of this conference dealt with amyloid plaques and the drugs associated with them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved anti-amyloid drugs Lecanemab (Leqembi, Eisai) and Aducanumab (Aduhelm TM), and fast-tracked a third drug, Aducanumab. These drugs may help to slow brain damage caused by amyloid plaques that deposit in and damage the brain as much as 20 years before a person suffers loss of mental function.

Eating Mammal Meat is Associated with Increased Risk for Gastro-Intestinal Cancers

Researchers at the Centre for Ecological Research in Hungary analyzed the death records for 110,148 animals from 191 mammal species that died in zoos and found that carnivorous mammals were much more likely to die of cancer than mammals that rarely or never eat animals. Humans are mammals, so we might expect to see similar results in studies of human diets.

Sleep Problems Associated with Increased Stroke Risk

A study of 1,799 people, who had suffered and survived strokes at the average age of 62, found that stroke risk is markedly increased by sleep disturbance symptoms, poor sleep quality, napping for long periods, and sleep apnea symptoms (Neurology, May 23, 2023;100(21): e2191–e2203). The stroke survivors were compared to age-matched people who had not had a stroke and the results were adjusted for smoking, physical activity, depression, and alcohol intake.

One Injection of HPV Vaccine Can Prevent Many Cancers

Many of the more than 150 strains of Human Papilloma Viruses (HPV) are relatively harmless, but about 15 are classified as high-risk types because they can cause cancer and other health problems. A single dose of the vaccine for types 16, 18 and the other high-risk types of HPV appears to provide at least eight years of protection against these infections. These viruses are the most common cause of cancers of the cervix and other parts of the uterus, as well as of the penis, anus, throat, vagina and vulva

The Latest on COVID-19

I am following the latest Bivalent Booster Protects Against the Most Recent COVID-19 Viruses: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that is available today helps protect against infection by the omicron variant XBB and its subvariant XBB.1.5 that dominate infections today. The present bivalent booster was made specifically against both the initial SARS-CoV-2 virus and the BA.4/BA.5 variants. However, BA.5 and its subvariants account for just about two percent of cases now, and BA.4 and the original virus are essentially gone.developments on COVID-19.

Sleep Problems Can Be Harmful

It is common and normal for people to occasionally have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night, but if this occurs on a regular basis and interferes with functioning during the daylight hours, you may need a medical evaluation to find the cause. Getting fewer than seven hours of sleep each night is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, depression, weight gain and diabetes.

Gas Stoves May Be Harmful

About 40 percent of U.S. households cook with gas stoves. A recent study reported that “12.7 percent of current childhood asthma in the US is attributable to gas stove use." However, the authors did not show that gas stoves cause asthma. They presented evidence that gas stoves emit gases such as nitrogen dioxide, that can worsen symptoms in people who have asthma. Any air pollutant can cause an asthmatic to cough, wheeze and become short of breath. These authors have not demonstrated cause-and-effect, they only found an association between gas stoves and asthmatic symptoms.

Midlife Obesity Increases Risk for Dementia

Obesity in your 40's-60's increases risk for developing the dementia of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Researchers analyzed brain scans of more than 1,300 people from the UK Biobank and found that people who were obese in midlife had already lost gray matter in the brain in the same areas as those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

Loss of Hearing is a Major Risk Factor for Dementia

The National Health and Aging Trends Study from Johns Hopkins followed 2,413 community-dwelling participants aged 65 and older, and found that 10.3 percent suffered from dementia. Of those with dementia, 36.7 percent suffered mild hearing loss and and 29.8 percent had moderate to severe hearing loss. The people with moderate to severe hearing loss were 61 percent more likely to suffer from dementia than those with normal hearing, and every 10-decibel loss of hearing was associated with a 16 percent increase in dementia risk.

Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle to Help Prevent Dementia as You Age

About 22 percent of North Americans ages 85-89 and 33 percent of those over 90 suffer some degree of dementia. A study from the Chicago Health and Aging Project, which followed 2449 men and women over age 65, suggests that there is a lot that you can do to help protect yourself from dementia. The healthful lifestyle factors tracked in this study included diet, physical activity, cognitive activity, not smoking, and avoiding or limiting alcohol

Why I Still Recommend COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Every week I receive emails asking why I recommend vaccinations against COVID-19 when they can have serious side effects that can result in hospitalizations and deaths. I have been following the data and research since the beginning of the pandemic, and they clearly show that: • Vaccination helps to prevent hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by a very wide margin • The rates of heart damage or death from vaccination are vastly lower than from the disease itself

Get Your Flu Shot Now

This winter is expected to be a severe flu season. Flu virus is headed here from the southern hemisphere, and Australia already has a very severe flu season. Only 49 percent of North Americans plan to get a flu shot during the 2022-2023 flu season, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

Intense Exercise May Reduce Cancer Spread

A study from Israel found that intense exercise may help to prevent cancer from spreading, in humans and in mice, by using up body sugars so that less energy is available for the tumor cells to grow and spread. Compared to non-exercisers, those who exercised regularly before they developed cancers had a slightly reduced incidence of cancer, while those who exercised at high intensity after developing cancer had a 72 percent lower incidence of metastatic cancer than those who did not exercise after developing cancer.

Best Times to Brush Your Teeth

Dentists do not agree on whether it is better to brush before or after breakfast. I think you should brush after breakfast, but you should try to wait and brush at least 30 minutes after eating. If that doesn't fit into your schedule, do whatever works best for you. Any brushing is better than no brushing.

Early Warning Signs of Dementia

University of Cambridge researchers analyzed genetic, lifestyle and health data on more than 500,000 adults, 40-69 years old, and found that those people who were later diagnosed with dementia had tested poorly up to nine years before on measures of problem solving, memorizing, reaction times and grip strength. The study authors believe that this information could lead to earlier diagnosis to start preventive treatments that target known risk factors for dementia.

Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that by mid-October 2022, adults with mild to moderate hearing impairment will be able to buy hearing aids directly from stores, pharmacies and other retailers without a prescription or health care appointment. That's good news for the 30 million U.S. adults who could benefit from hearing aids but think they are too expensive or too much trouble.

New COVID-19 Vaccine Appears to Be More Protective

More than 450 people are still dying every day from COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) have authorized the new bivalent COVID-19 vaccines as a single booster dose at least two months after primary or booster vaccination, for anyone over 12 years of age).

Healthful Lifestyle Linked to Lower Death Rate in Parkinson’s Disease

In the largest prospective study yet on the subject, researchers followed 1251 participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses' Health Study who developed Parkinson's Disease. (JAMA Netw Open, Aug 19, 2022;5(8):e2227738). The average age at diagnosis was 73.4 years. During the 32-34 years of follow up, 942 patients died. They found that compared with those who had the worst before-and-after lifestyles, those with the healthiest eating and exercise regimens prior to diagnosis reduced their all-cause death rates by 49 percent.

Suspected Carcinogens in Some Sunscreens

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2022 annual Guide to Sunscreens, which found that 75 percent of more than 1,850 sunscreen products evaluated either offered poor skin protection from the sun, or contain ingredients that may harm your health or increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun’s harmful rays, Only 25 percent of the products met EWG's standards for adequate protection and did not contain harmful ingredients such as oxybenzone that is an endocrine disrupter.

Monkeypox Declared a Public Health Emergency

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared monkeypox to be a public health emergency, and the U.S. has recorded more than 7000 infections, more than any other country in the world. The only two states that have not yet reported monkeypox infections are Montana and Wyoming.

Gut Bacteria Associated with Colon Cancer

A study from Harvard Medical School found that a typical Western diet increases growth of specific bacteria in the gut called “polyketide synthase (pks+) E. Coli” that produce a chemical called colibactin, which causes DNA mutations that can turn normal colon cells into cancer cells.