Due to a lack of profit potential, Novartis Pharmaceuticals has been the latest to join the exodus of drug companies from antibiotic research and development.
The Swiss based pharmaceutical company will shut down their antibacterial and antiviral research programs resulting in the termination of 140 jobs.
They join Sanofi, Allergan and AstraZeneca who have also pulled out of antimicrobial R & D.
Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Roche will remain active in the antimicrobial market.
Since the birth of antibiotics in 1928 with Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin, we’ve aimed to make them stronger and shrewder than the bacteria. However, nature always wins, and some bacteria have outsmarted our fanciest of antibiotics, as we’ve seen with MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph aureus) and CRE (carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae). The more antibiotics we make and use, the stronger the bacteria become.
Since insurance companies favor generics, new drugs that do go through the long and expensive process of R & D have no guarantee of turning a profit. According to a report published by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD) the cost of developing a prescription drug that is successful enough to make it to market costs approximately $2.6 billion. Drugs that are researched, developed, tested but then fail in obtaining FDA approval or success long-term may never make it to market, costing the drug company millions.
And pharmaceutical companies aren’t stupid. They see the legal circus surrounding Purdue Pharma for its “role” in the opioid crisis, so drug companies may wonder if they’ll eventually be held liable for the “superbug crisis”. If a company thinks they will lose money or be sued in the future for a drug that cost billions to manufacture, they may choose to pass.
But if they pass….who steps up?
I suggest more research into other forms of treating antibiotics such as laser treatments. Or go old school with silver. During the Roman empire and Middle Ages, silver had been used as healing agent. During the Civil War, silver nitrate was used to cure Gonorrhea, another bacteria currently becoming drug resistant. The silver nitrate was eventually replaced by a colloidal silver. But in 2013 researchers at Boston University discovered why silver was so antibacterial. Its properties interfered with the cell metabolism of the pathogen as well as disrupted its wall. This mimics what antibiotics have been designed to do. Silver may be able to be used as an agent by itself, in a non toxic form of course, or used in conjunction with current antibiotics who cannot break into the bacteria wall by themselves.
When brains get deprived of oxygen, during sleep apnea or trauma, dementia and/or neurological sequelae may ensue.
For years I’ve suggested giving oxygen at night to those athletes at risk of CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and those at high risk for dementia and Alzheimers. Oxygen at high concentrations have been found to help wounds heal, and why should a vulnerable organ fight for oxygen. Give the brain what it needs.
Now a study from Sydney University reports loud snoring could be an early warning sign for dementia and memory issues.
Those who have airway obstruction will make noise when they sleep. Those with obstructive sleep apnea, inability to breath during sleep due to airway obstruction by fat, large tonsils, large posterior tongue and other issues, may in response snore loudly.
Researchers found those who had sleep apnea had reduced thickness in the temporal lobes, memory centers of the brain which also are integral in speech processing and abstract thinking. When memory tests were given, those with these changes scored poorly.
Study authors suspect that older people should therefore be screened for obstructive sleep apnea. Currently we screen those who are overweight, fatigued, or hypertensive, but maybe we should screen all seniors? Personally, I feel we should intervene sooner, such as middle age, if we want to ward of dementia early.
Last year we learned of a two-year old near-drowning victim, who was submerged for nearly 15 minutes and sustained brain-damaged, surprisingly has “minimal” deficits after given extensive oxygen therapy.
In February 2016, Eden Carlson climbed through a baby gate while her mother was showering and fell into the family pool. Her mother performed CPR and medical personnel worked to revive her for hours. They succeeded, but she had suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage. Upon discharge from the hospital 48 days later, Eden had difficulty speaking, walking and responding to her family.
Her medical team then tried oxygen treatments twice a day in 45 minute sessions. These were “normobaric” oxygen treatments, or oxygen at the concentration of one atmosphere (sea level). Then three weeks later she was moved to New Orleans for “hyperbaric” oxygen treatments, or breathing 100% oxygen in a chamber greater than atmospheric pressure.
After ten sessions her mother reported “near normal” activity with doctors finding only “minimal damage” on her MRI scan.
According to NYDailyNews, the cortical and white matter atrophy (thinning) almost completely reversed.
This raises the question, should oxygen therapy, either normobaric or hyperbaric, be instituted immediately after injury (near drowning, concussion, infection, etc.) and chronically for those at higher risk of dementia (diabetics, those with heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and stroke victims)?
Athletes who sustain multiple concussions are at high risk of developing CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This progressive, degenerative disease of the brain is also found in veterans and those who have sustained repeated head trauma. Symptoms include mood disorders, paranoia, impulse control issues, aggression, and memory loss to name a few.
Many victims of CTE aren’t diagnosed until after they die, upon autopsy and evaluation of brain tissue, hence it may be worth researching early oxygen intervention to those at high risk before symptoms surface.
Now oxygen therapy is not without its risks, as those with COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, could lose their respiratory drive, and oxygen toxicity could cause bleeding and seizures. But controlled trials could allow us to investigate if one of the simplest of treatments can help battle some of the most difficult of diseases.
A study finds patients don’t mind their ER doc’s body art.
Researchers from St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania surveyed emergency room patients who rated the providers on a five point Likert scale on their perception of competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability in their doctor. Their findings found patients had “no perceived difference” in the above metrics, “and assigned top box performance in all domains >75% of the time, regardless of physician appearance.”
No, not so fast. Although body art is beautiful, and accessorizing with piercings can make our dreary scrubs pop, the average physician is fighting more and more these days to capture the faith of the patient who keeps turning to the web for medical advice.
The above study surveyed patients in emergency rooms….a setting in which patients are desperate to receive care in an emergency and are grateful, on most occasions. What about the oncologist who needs to give somber news about a patient’s cancer? Would patients appreciate the skull and crossbones tattoo on his neck? Probably not.
Piercings and tattoos make a statement, tell a story, or add character to the body on which they adorn. And the attention they command is why I’m such a fan. So I agree that it has no bearing on one’s “competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability.” However, in many medical scenarios the patient needs to feel he is the main focus. Patients want to believe we providers wake up, eat, exercise to maintain our health, dress, and wash our hands for them. And they’re right…we do. So our personal style, statements and stories are kept to a minimum at work.
It’s unfortunate because I was really hoping to get the following Lord of the Rings tattoo of Aragorn when hubby wasn’t looking….
For more on the study see here.
Canadian researchers report women who work 45 hours or more a week are at higher risk of developing diabetes. Those who work 30-40 hours weekly, however, are not at increased risk.
In this study, published in the British Medical Journal Diabetes Research and Care, study authors looked at 7000 men and women, aged 35-74, who were working a variety of hours per week. They found men more likely to develop diabetes, especially if they were obese, but women who worked greater than 45 hours/week were 62% more likely to acquire the disease than women who worked “normal working hours.”
This may shock many of us whose normal work week plus housework clocks in at 80-100 hours. However, extra hours of work increases stress inducing hormones that may contribute to poor sugar metabolism.
Another theory is longer work days may induce more carbohydrate eating for energy.
Study author Peter Smith of the Institute of Work and Health in Toronto said, “If you look at time spent outside of work, women do more care of household members and more routine housework. The only thing women don’t do more of is watching TV and exercising.”
According to the CDC, 23.4 million people in the US have diabetes, and in total 100 million Americans suffer from prediabetes or diabetes.
Previously the 7th leading killer of Americans, diabetes affects so many people that it has now become third leading cause of death in the US. A study in 2017 found 12% of deaths in the US is caused by diabetes, trailing behind heart disease and cancer, ranked at #1 and #2.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn’t utilize and metabolize sugar properly. When we consume food, its broken down into proteins, nutrients, fats, water, and sugar. These components are necessary for cell growth and function. They get absorbed in the small intestine and make it to the bloodstream. In order for a cell to utilize sugar, it needs the hormone insulin to help guide it in. It’s similar to a key that fits in the keyhole of the “door” of the cell, opening it up so sugar can enter. Insulin is produced in the pancreas, an organ that receives signals when one eats to release insulin in preparation of the sugar load coming down the pike.
So I imagine our mouth like a waiting room, the blood stream like a hallway, and the cells of the body the rooms along the hallway. Insulin is the key to open the cells’ “doors” allowing sugar to enter. If the sugar does not get in, it stays in the bloodstream “hallway” and doesn’t feed the cell. Weight loss occurs, and individuals may become more thirsty as the sugar in the blood makes it fairly osmotic, something the body wants to neutralize, reduce. The kidneys are going to want dump the excess sugar, so to do so, one would urinate more, again causing thirst. So when a diabetic loses weight, urinates more frequently and becomes thirsty, you now understand why.
Cardiovascular disease – Sugar is sticky, so it can easily add to atherosclerotic plaques.
Blindness – high sugar content draws in water to neutralize and small blood vessels in the eye can only take so much fluid before they burst. Moreover, high blood sugar weakens blood vessels.
Kidney disease – the kidneys work overtime to eliminate the excess sugar. Moreover, sugar laden blood isn’t the healthiest when they themselves need nourishment.
Infections – pathogens love sugar. Its food for them. Moreover blood laden with sugar doesn’t allow immune cells to work in the most opportune environment.
Neuropathy – nerves don’t receive adequate blood supply due to the diabetes-damaged blood flow and vessels, hence they become dull or hypersensitive causing diabetics to have numbness or pain.
Dementia – as with the heart and other organs, the brain needs healthy blood and flow. Diabetes has been found to increase risk of Alzheimer’s as well.
Type I Diabetes, previously called insulin dependent or Juvenile diabetes, occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, possibly from the immune system destroying the cells that produce the hormone. When this occurs there is rapid weight loss and death could occur if the cells don’t get the sugar they need. Insulin has to be administered regularly.
Type II Diabetes, previously called non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes, occurs in those who began with a fully functioning pancreas but as they age the pancreas produces less insulin, called insulin deficiency, or the insulin produced meets resistance. This is the fastest growing type of diabetes in both children and adults.
Insulin resistance, if using our hallway and door analogy, is as if someone is pushing against the door the insulin is trying to unlock. As we know, those with obesity are at higher risk for diabetes, hence fat can increase insulin resistance. It’s also been associated with an increase in heart disease.
If your fasting blood sugar (glucose) is greater than 126 mg/dl, or your non fasting blood sugar is greater than 200 mg/dl, you may be considered diabetic. Pre-diabetes occurs when the fasting blood sugar is between 100 and 125 mg/dl. If ignored, and the sugar rises, pre-diabetics may go on to develop diabetes.
1/3 of American adults are currently pre-diabetic. Experts predict 1/3 of US Adults will be diabetic by the year 2050. Although genetics plays a big role, decreasing ones sugar intake and maintaining an active lifestyle can help ward of diabetes.
Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates increase one’s risk, so a diet rich in vegetables and lean meats is preferred.
For more information, visit http://www.diabetes.org/.
A study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that most of our meat purchased at the supermarket contains antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System tested bacteria on meat in 2015 and found them to be resistant to one of fourteen antibiotics. These “superbugs” were detected on:
Dr. Gail Hansen, a public health expert and veterinarian states, “Bacteria transfer their antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria they come in contact with in the environment and in the gastrointestinal tract of people and animals, making it very difficult to effectively treat infections.”
The EWG provides a tip sheet on how to avoid superbugs in meat here.
A superbug is a pathogen, most commonly bacteria, that can survive antibiotics that most species would buckle under. Its resistance could be caused by a variety of factors. Maybe it has a mutation that makes it stronger. Maybe its genetic material shields it from the toxic medicine. Maybe it’s luck. So shortly after it celebrates surviving the antibiotic assault, it divides to reproduce, making more bacteria. If this progeny bacteria maintain the same genetic material as its parent, or if included, mutation, they can be now be resistant to the antibiotics as well.
According to the CDC: Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.
One theory is we give antibiotics to farm animals to keep them healthy, avoid disease and improve their growth. These antibiotics may be used and consumed so frequently that bacteria learn how to overcome and create new, resilient progeny.
The following is a guide on temperature goals for various meats:
Although it's been long known that flight attendants are at higher risk of breast cancer and melanoma, new research has found an increase risk in the following additional cancers:
Researchers from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, led by research associate, Irina Mordukhovich, surveyed over 5000 flight attendants as part of the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study (FAHS) and found a four-fold risk in non-melanoma skin cancer, a two-fold risk in melanoma, and a 51% greater risk of breast cancer, among other malignancy risks.
Those flight attendants with three or more children had even a higher risk of breast cancer.
TIME Magazine reported the following:
“Flight attendants are considered a historically understudied occupational group, so there is a lot we don’t know about their health,” says Mordukhovich. “What we do know for sure is the exposures that both pilots and flight attendants have—the main one being high radiation levels because of cosmic radiation at altitude.” That exposure may not be concerning for people taking individual flights, but for people whose jobs involve flying, that risk may have a negative effect on their health, as the study results suggest.
A 2007 study found an increase risk of heart attacks, respiratory illness, poor sleep, depression and anxiety in cabin crew.
What’s surprising is the average flight attendant does not smoke and maintains a healthy weight, hence thought to live a healthier lifestyle, decreasing heart and cancer risk. So….
Multiple factors can affect those who work high in the skies. These include:
It’s difficult for those who staff airlines to alter their schedule, diet or uniform. But what’s recommended is the following:
The CDC recommends the following:
Try to reduce your time working on very long flights, flights at high latitudes, or flights which fly over the poles. These are flight conditions or locations that tend to increase the amount of cosmic radiation the crewmembers are exposed to. You can calculate your usual cosmic radiation exposures. The FAA’s CARI program website allows you to enter information to estimate your effective dose from galactic cosmic radiation (not solar particle events) for a flight.
If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, it is important to consider your work exposures, including cosmic radiation. If you are pregnant and aware of an ongoing solar particle event when you are scheduled to fly you may want to consider trip-trading or other rescheduling actions if possible.
For flight attendants, a NIOSH study found that exposure to 0.36 mSv or more of cosmic radiation in the first trimester may be linked to increased risk of miscarriage.
Also, although flying through a solar particle event doesn’t happen often, a NIOSH and NASA study found that a pregnant flight attendant who flies through a solar particle event can receive more radiation than is recommended during pregnancy by national and international agencies.
Regarding solar particle events:
NIOSH has estimated that pilots fly through about 6 solar particle events in an average 28-year career.
Avoiding exposure to solar particle events is difficult because they often happen with little warning. You can find out whether a solar particle event is currently active through these sources:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation System (NAIRAS) is being developed to report potentially harmful flight radiation levels to flight crews and passengers.
A space weather app for the iPhone offers current information on solar activity
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center’s Aviation Community Dashboard includes a forecast for solar particle events.
Experts have suggested that those who are frequent fliers are still at low risk of being exposed to “too much radiation”. Traveller.au.com writes: Overall, the amount “is really inconsequential,” said Dr. Edward Dauer, director of radiology at Florida Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, adding that medical CT scans result in a much higher dose.
Therefore medical professionals may suggest flying “in moderation” and checking in for regular check ups.
The American Nuclear Society provides a calculator, based on where one lives, how many x-rays, and how many hours one flies, here.
Since 2017 multiple states have declared outbreaks of the Hepatitis A Virus and now the Department of Heath in Ohio (ODH) has declared one as well.
Since the start of 2018, cases in Ohio have risen to 79, double the total number recorded for 2017 in the Buckeye state.
WTOL reports: Ohio’s hepatitis A outbreak cases appear to be primarily among people who use illegal drugs, those who have been incarcerated, people who have had contact with known cases, those also infected with hepatitis C, men who have sex with men, and people experiencing homelessness.
Per the CDC, the below states have reported the following number of cases:
Last year Colorado reported a doubling of Hepatitis A cases since the previous year.
Hepatitis A is a disease that affects the liver. Its caused by a virus (Hepatitis A virus) that is most commonly ingested. Poor hand washing and/or contaminated food are likely culprits. It’s transmitted by the fecal-oral route, where food or drink contaminated by fecal matter enters another person’s GI tract. Sexual transmission of Hepatitis A has been reported during activities involving oral-anal sex.
Hepatitis A can live outside the body for months, so unclean dining areas can be contaminated and transfer to food.
Those who are immunosuppressed run the risk of dying from the infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include:
Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes
Clay – looking stools
Loss of appetite
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Most hepatitis A infections resolve on their own.
We usually recommend rest, fluids, and offer medications to help with nausea and vomiting.
For liver injury we avoid medications and alcohol that can worsen liver damage. The liver will usually recover within months after hepatitis A infection.
There are vaccines for Hepatitis A included in the childhood vaccination schedule. Those older who weren’t vaccinated as a child can get the vaccine from their local provider or health department. Many states require all health care and food workers to be vaccinated.
The best form of prevention however is good hand washing, dining area hygiene, and cooking food thoroughly.
Disney/Pixar may now include a warning for viewers that some scenes in their latest hit, Incredibles 2, may induce seizures at the request of the National Epilepsy Foundation. Some viewers found the strobe and flashing light scenes to be potential seizure triggers.
Veronica Lewis tweeted the following:
HEALTH ALERT I haven’t seen this mentioned in a lot of places, but the new Incredibles 2 movie (#incredibles2) is filled with tons of strobe/flashing lights that can cause issues for people with epilepsy, migraines, and chronic illness.
A seizure occurs when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain. If the electricity doesn’t conduct properly, brain function gets disrupted. This could lead to convulsions (involuntary jerking movements), loss of muscle tone, changes in senses such as vision, hearing and smell, loss of bladder control, loss of consciousness and sometimes stroke, brain damage and death.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which a person has recurrent, unprovoked seizures.
Photosensitive epilepsy, in which visual triggers can induce a seizure, occurs in 1 in 4000 of the population.
In December of 1997, a Pokemon cartoon aired in Japan resulting in over 700 children to the hospital with ailments ranging from dizziness to epilepsy. It was determined that the rapidly strobing flashes of red and blue lights induced this “Pokemon Shock.”
A study from Prasad et al in 2012 found no increase risk of seizures with 3D movies than conventional television. They explain why seizures are induced here:
The mechanism in which TV and cinema movies trigger seizures in patients with photosensitive epilepsy is related to several factors including the light intensity, the environment and the frequency of picture frames per second. Normal 2D movies have a frame rate of 24 per second, which may pose a risk for patients with photosensitive epilepsy, but the light intensity in the cinema is very low and there are relatively a few reports of seizures precipitated in cinemas. In contrast, 3D movies project images at 48 frames per second aimed, by the use of colored or polarizing filters, at different eyes and resulting in 24 frames per second per eye. The polarizing effect of 3D films may reduce the light output by around fifty percent leading to a reduced risk to trigger a seizure to people with photosensitive epilepsy. Therefore, the risk of 3D movies to trigger a seizure is around fifty percent less than with conventional 2D movies. However if provocative material such as flashing light is presented the risk can be as high as that for normal 2D movies.
Although there is “insufficient evidence” to connect 3D movies to epilepsy, researchers agree with the need for more study.
Which makes us rely on anecdotal, or testimonial evidence such as the tweet from Veronica Lewis.
The following have been suggested on moviehealthcommunity.tumblr.com to have strobe effects or flashing lights that may affect one’s photosensitivity risk of inducing a seizure:
Although one of my favorite franchises, some of my listeners found the Transformer movies to have similar issues with high speed movements and strobe lights.
Many more movies are listed but the common thread are those with high action, high-speed, strobe lighting, storms, horror, and fast-moving race or fall scenes.
More can be found at moviehealthcommunity.tumblr.com.
For years, men have voiced frustration when their medical providers insisted on a cardiac workup prior to initiating an ED prescription. Some thought it was because they’d have a heart attack during sex. But it’s not. Erectile dysfunction is a vascular issue, and if the vessels of the penis are compromised, how does one know his heart vessels aren’t as well?
Now in a recent study from John Hopkins School of Medicine found an increase risk of stroke, heart attack and cardiac arrests in those men who suffered from erectile dysfunction. Study author, Michael Blaha, professor of Medicine, states, “Our findings suggest that clinicians should perform further targeted screening in men with erectile dysfunction, regardless of other cardiac risk factors and should consider managing any other risk factors — such as high blood pressure or cholesterol — that much more aggressively.”
Last December, a study published in the Journal of Vascular Medicine, found the same risk factors leading to erectile dysfunction are also culprits in heart disease.
Risk factors shared by both erectile dysfunction and heart disease include:
Last year, researchers from Mount Sinai Medical Center, Florida International University and Baptist Health South Florida reviewed multiple studies and found a link between erectile dysfunction and compromised blood vessels whose endothelium (lining) demonstrated impaired vessel relaxation. This is necessary for both erections as well as blood flow to the heart and rest of the body.
Moreover carotid media-intima thickness, a marker of atherosclerosis, appeared to be correlated to erectile dysfunction as well.
Both studies remind us that if one bodily function is impaired, other organs may be quietly suffering the same impairment.
I like to credit the pharmaceutical companies that created erectile dysfunction drugs with saving millions of men’s lives as:
Young men aren’t immune to cardiovascular disease and need to be screened as well if they have issues starting or maintaining erections.
Each year 45,000 Americans take their lives. That averages to 123 people a day. And each suicide affects everyone with whom the person has regular encounters. So why is it so common? Here are six reasons people choose to end their life.
Many of us have been trained to act on a whim. We quickly reply to a text, pop some food in the microwave, flick the controller while playing a video game…and these quick, instinctive acts are becoming a part of our daily behavior. So when one has a fleeting thought of suicide, they may be less likely to slow down and think it through.
When tragedy strikes, whether it be an accident, break up, job loss, missed opportunity, some can’t see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Many think and navigate through life one step at a time, which may be productive when it comes to tackling tasks, but if they feel the obstacle in front of them is insurmountable they may believe their options are far and few between, with death being the only out.
This is one of the least discussed reasons people commit suicide, but unfortunately more common than we think. Although most of us fear death and dying, some pathologically can’t handle the thought of it happening out of the blue. Those who need control and need to plan ahead, may find solace in the fact that they are planning their own death. They can’t control their birth but they can control their death, they believe, and for those who feel they have lost control of their life may find this tragic option welcoming.
Hollywood stereotypes depression as a woman sitting on a couch eating ice cream to combat the tears and loneliness of a breakup. But many have symptoms of severe depression and don’t know it.
So many self medicate either by overeating, drinking alcohol, smoking weed, or taking pills, which when wears off, can sink one into a lower funk. Without psychological or medical intervention, one struggles to recover.
Since so many people are undiagnosed when it comes to depression, family members and friends are unaware their loved one is struggling. Going about one’s business may be inferred as indifference by someone suffering from a mood disorder. “They won’t even notice I’m gone,” pervades their thoughts and worsens their loneliness.
If one feels they’ve been ignored, unheard or wronged, this could incite an “I’ll show ’em” attitude in which their suicide is plotted to be a form of psychological revenge.
Sadly many out there secretly hope they get help but don’t know how to ask for it. It’s up to us to seek them out and guide them to a medical professional who can listen, understand, and work with them.