October 30, 2012

Health Roundup: Anti-depressants, pregnancy, herbal supplements, statins, DNA, flu shot, dental plaque

Don't give anti-depressants to women of childbearing age, warns leading psychiatrist
Drugs such as anti-depressants could have serious side effects for pregnant women or their child.  Antidepressants should be avoided by all women of childbearing age as half of pregnancies unplanned

Prozac pregnancy alert: Mothers-to-be on anti-depressants are putting babies at risk, warn scientists

The widely prescribed pills have been found drastically to raise the odds of miscarriages, premature birth, autism and life-threatening high blood pressure, they say.  Harvard researchers believe far too many women are taking the drugs during pregnancy because their GPs are not aware of the dangers.  They also suspect that drug companies are trying to play down the risks because anti-depressants are so lucrative to them. They focused on the complications linked to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Prozac and Seroxat.

But the researchers have found that they increase the risk of a miscarriage by 17 per cent and more than double the likelihood of pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure during pregnancy – which can be fatal.  They also double the chances of the baby being born premature, or developing autism.  In addition, the researchers say, the babies are more likely to suffer from heart defects and problems with their bowels.

Combining popular supplements with prescription drugs could cause heart problems

Herbal supplements such as echinacea and St John's Wort could make medication dangerous….The research suggest combining the popular alternative remedies may cause mild-to-severe heart problems, chest pain, abdominal pain and headache, particularly among people receiving medication for problems with their central nervous or cardiovascular systems.

Those taking Warfarin, insulin, aspirin, digoxin and ticlopidine had the greatest number of reported adverse interactions with the remedies or supplements.

Dangerous herbal pills used to treat menopausal symptoms leave woman suffering liver failure.  Black cohosh to blame in 53 adverse reports in Britain, the majority involving liver problems.

Another reason to make sure you get your flu shot.  Flu jab 'can halve heart attack risk': Vaccine 'also cuts cardiac deaths and chances of stroke'

Researchers found that the jab can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 50 per cent and cardiac deaths by 40 per cent.

Cancer Patients Too Optimistic About Chemo

The finding suggests that many patients with stage IV disease misunderstand what they can expect from chemotherapy, "which could compromise their ability to make informed treatment decisions that are consonant with their preferences," the researchers argued.

Previous small studies, most confined to a single center, have suggested that patients overestimate how long they are likely to live and mistakenly think palliative chemotherapy has a curative potential.

Scientist discover why statins aren't effective in 40% of patients.

40 per cent of people taking statins are resistant to their cholesterol-lowering effect. High levels of the protein resistin in the blood could stop statins from working effectively.

What Your Doctor Isn't Telling You About Your DNA

The test results were crystal clear, and still the doctors didn’t know what to do. A sick baby whose genome was analyzed at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia turned out to possess a genetic mutation that indicated dementia would likely take root around age 40. But that lab result was completely unrelated to the reason the baby’s DNA was being tested, leaving the doctors to debate: Should they share the bad news?
--
When it comes to scanning DNA or sequencing the genome — reading the entire genetic code — what to do with unanticipated results is one of the thorniest issues confronting the medical community.

Why you should see your dental hygienist at least twice a year.  The Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm found that dental plaque can increase the risk for premature death by cancer by 79%

Posted by Jill Fallon at October 30, 2012 11:07 AM | Permalink