Author Archives: Menon Medical Center

Exercise- The Magic Pill

Middle Age Men Who Exercised Had Fewer Cancers

According to a study in JAMA Oncology, men who are more physically fit in middle age are less likely to develop lung and colon and rectal cancers and less likely to die from these cancers compared with their less-fit peers.

Compared with men at the lowest fitness level, those at the highest level had roughly 50% reductions in lung and colorectal cancer incidence. Among men who developed lung, colorectal or prostate cancer, both cancer-specific and cardiovascular mortality were significantly lower in the active group.

Prostate Cancer Increases Risk of Breast Cancer 

Women who have a first-degree relative with prostate cancer are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, suggests an article in the journal Cancer. 

Roughly 78,000 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study provided family cancer histories at baseline. Roughly 4% of women were diagnosed with breast cancer over a median 11 years’ follow-up.

Having a first-degree relative with prostate cancer was slightly more common among women with breast cancer than among those without (11.6% vs 10.1%). The association persisted after adjusting for family history of breast. Women who had family histories of both breast and prostate cancers had higher risk,  and African American women with family histories of both types of cancer had even greater risk.

The authors conclude: “Risk communication between the physician and the patient as well as the dissemination of this information from the patient to immediate relatives would be important in shaping the health behaviors (such as screening for early detection) of those family members, even among those of the opposite sex.”


Vegetarian Diet Associated with Less Colon Cancer

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, nearly 80,000 adults completed food-frequency questionnaires at baseline and then were divided into five dietary groups: vegan (8% of the population), lacto-ovo vegetarian (29%), pesco-vegetarian (10%), semi-vegetarian (6%), and non-vegetarian (48%).

During 7 years’ follow-up, researchers documented 490 cases of colorectal cancer. Compared with non-vegetarians, all vegetarians combined had a significantly reduced risk for colorectal cancer, When examined by type of vegetarian diet, only pesco-vegetarians had a significant reduction in risk.

Doctor- Do I Really Need That Antibiotic?

As part of the Choosing Wisely campaign, the Infectious Diseases Society of America has released its list of five tests and treatments that physicians and patients should question:

1. Antibiotics should not be used to treat bacteria in the urine if the patient does not have symptoms, unless she is pregnant.

2. Physicians should avoid prescribing antibiotics for upper respiratory infections since most are viral. There are specific guidelines, about when antibiotics can be used.

3. Antibiotics should be avoided for stasis dermatitis of the legs, a condition where the lower leg is red and mildly swollen due to a number of reasons. Discuss the causes with your doctor. The standard of care is leg elevation plus compression stockings.

4. In the absence of diarrhea, physicians should not test for Clostridium difficile.

5. Antibiotic prophylaxis should not be given to patients with mitral valve prolapse to prevent heart infections. The guidelines have changed, please discuss this with your doctor, before routinely taking antibiotics for dental, and other procedures.

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

The National Sleep Foundation has made recommendations for sleep duration for various age groups based on a literature review by an expert panel. The following recommendations on sleep durations for healthy people without sleep disorders were published in Sleep Health:

  • Newborns: 14–17 hours a day (previous recommendation: 12–18 hours)

  • Infants: 12–15 hours (previously, 14–15)

  • Toddlers: 11–14 hours (previously, 12–14)

  • Preschoolers: 10–13 hours (previously, 11–13)

  • School-aged children: 9–11 hours (previously, 10–11)

  • Teenagers: 8–10 hours (previously, 8.5–9.5)

  • Young adults (up to age 25): 7–9 hours

  • Adults (26–64 years): 7–9 hours

  • Older adults (65+): 7–8 hours

Beet Root Juice Lowers Blood Pressure

Interesting double blinded placebo controlled article in  Hypertension 2015 Feb 65:320, where 64 patients were given 250 ml of beet root juice for 4 weeks, and all of them saw roughly a 7mm reduction in systolic (top) and a 2.5mm reduction in diastolic (bottom) numbers.

Inorganic nitrates in beet root juice when consumed are converted to the vasodilating nitric oxide which is responsible for lowering the blood pressure. Diabetics however need to be aware of the high sugar content in all juices

Medicare To Pay For Yearly CT Scans for Lung Cancer Screening in Smokers

Medicare will cover annual lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography in high-risk patients, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced last week.

To be covered, beneficiaries must meet the following conditions:

  • be asymptomatic and aged 55 to 77;
  • be either currently smoking or have stopped smoking within the past 15 years;
  • have a smoking history of 30 or more pack-years;
  • have a written order from a clinician obtained during a lung cancer screening counseling and shared decision-making visit, which includes information on the procedure’s risks and benefits.

Eat Your Eggs

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has lifted the restriction on dietary cholesterol from the upcoming 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Recommendations to cut back on dietary cholesterol have been a mainstay of U.S. guidelines for years. This change, which has been long coming, reflects a major shift in the scientific view of cholesterol. Although serum cholesterol is still considered an important risk factor, consuming cholesterol does not increase the blood cholesterol levels. The committee’s new report states, “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for over consumption.”

Do You Really Need That CT Scan?

A new survey in Consumer Reports points out that 2% of all future cancers in this country may be caused by the high doses of radiation received from CT scans. It also states that consumers are rarely warned about the risks of receiving radiation, and most patients actually feel it was important to get that additional study. The article also notes that the annual number of CT scans has increased from roughly 3 million in 1980 to over 80 million now.

The authors encourage patients to question whether these tests are necessary, research whether the imaging facility and technicians are properly credentialed, ask for the lowest effective dose of radiation, and avoid unnecessary repeat testing.

On a side note- This also applies to the radiation received when Thallium Stress testing is performed by cardiologists.

A Novel Way To Treat Obesity Without A Pill

The FDA has approved a new device that treats obesity, and works in the gut, by controlling feelings of hunger. The Maestro Rechargeable System is indicated for adults 18 and older with a BMI of 35 to 45 who have at least one obesity-related condition like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and for whom other weight-loss programs have been ineffective.

The device, needs to be surgically implanted into the abdomen, and works on a nerve that emits electric pulses to the brain and blocks  stomach signals of emptiness and fullness. Unfortunately the Maestro did not meet the clinical trial’s primary endpoint (10% more excess weight loss in the treatment group than in the control group); but an advisory panel concluded that its benefits of sustained weight loss outweighed any potential risks.

The manufacturer will conduct a 5-year postapproval study to look at adverse events and changes in obesity-related conditions, among other things. Serious adverse events included nausea, surgical complications, and vomiting.