August 27, 2017

Health Roundup: Opioids, wonder drug for hearts, loneliness, chronic fatigue, peanut allergy and coffee

More than a third of US adults prescribed opioids in 2015.

That's 92 million people.  ....Opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, claiming more than 60,000 lives per year.

New wonder drug hailed as biggest breakthrough in fight against heart attacks and cancer

Cholesterol-busting statins are given to millions of adults deemed to be at risk of heart disease. But half of heart attacks occur in people who do not have high cholesterol at all. Now scientists have found that reducing inflammation in the body can protect against a host of conditions - with a “really dramatic effect” on cancer deaths. The drug canakinumab, given by injection every three months - cut repeat heart attacks by one quarter. Statins cut the risk by around 15 per cent.


Professor Paul Ridker of Harvard Medical School,  said it opens up a “third front” in the war on heart disease.  The landmark study tracked 10,000 heart attack victims who were given canakinumab, a drug which targets inflammation. The four-year study found those given the new treatment saw a 24 per cent reduction in heart attacks and 17 per cent fall in angina, while those on the highest dose saw cancer deaths fall by 51 per cent.

Loneliness, Social Isolation Greater Health Problem In US Than Obesity

Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University conducted two meta-analyses of previous studies to determine how social isolation, loneliness, and living alone plays a role in a person’s risk of dying. In an analysis of 148 studies that included more than 300,000 people total, her research team found that “a greater social connection” cuts a person’s risk of early death by 50 percent.

“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need — crucial to both well-being and survival. Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment...There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” says Holt-Lunstad.

Caregiving Is Hard Enough. Isolation Can Make It Unbearable.

“Don’t invite me for lunch — you know I can’t go,” Ms. Sherman-Lewis said. “Just bring a pizza and a bottle of wine and come by.”....Though tangible help counts ...so do regular texts, calls or visits. They help keep caregivers from feeling invisible and forgotten. Counselors in the NYU program once had the friendly inspiration, since they kept caregivers’ information in their database, to send clients a card on their birthdays.  It sounds sweet, if trivial. But often, Dr. Mittelman said, “they’d call up, so grateful, and say, ‘You’re the only one who remembered.’”

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Appears to Leave a 'Chemical Signature' in The Blood

And it's similar to that of hibernating species.... Senior researcher Mark Davis from Stanford University said, "Our findings show clearly that it's an inflammatory disease and provide a solid basis for a diagnostic blood test."  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Linked to 7 Specific Gut Bacteria.  The study adds to research from last year, which showed that up to 80 percent of patients with ME/CFS could be accurately diagnosed by looking at their gut bacteria. And it's also known that up to 90 percent of ME/CFS patients have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Peanut allergy treatment 'lasts up to four years'

An oral treatment for peanut allergy is still effective four years after it was administered, a study conducted at the Murdoch Childrens' Research Institute in Melbourne has found. Children were given a probiotic, with a peanut protein, daily for 18 months. When tested one month later, 80% could tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms and after four years, 70% of them were still able to eat peanuts without suffering any side-effects.

Researchers say you might as well be your own therapist

A meta-analyses of 15 studies found no significant difference in the treatment outcomes for patients who saw a therapist and those who followed a self-help book or online program. The findings  suggest, as the researchers write, that self-help “has considerable potential as a first-line intervention.” For those who can’t get a therapy appointment right away, self-help CBT exercises can still have a powerful effect.

Four cups of coffee a day could slash chance of early death

Research on 20,000 middle-aged men and women found that those who drank it regularly had mortality rates almost two thirds lower. Previous studies have found that coffee can improve liver function, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science

Posted by Jill Fallon at August 27, 2017 6:10 PM | Permalink