Category Archives: Medicine

When Green Tea Is A Bad Thing

Green tea has been talked about as some miraculous supplement. Year after year, they have talked about all of the benefits, saying that it can help you to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and so on down the line. However, in other news, the benefits of green tea have been downplayed to a considerable degree, and more than that, there are some who suggest that it may not be as safe as they want you to think.

The American College of Gastroenterology and offered new recommendations about green tea, suggesting that it could actually cause toxic liver failure.

Catechins are key here. Yes, they have been called out for being healthy, fat burners, cholesterol lowering antioxidants even. The problem that many don’t realize is that it’s very possible to have too much of a good thing. Catchins target the mitochondria powerhouse cells, and they stop them from metabolizing your food for energy according to research, which could lead to jaundice, hepatitis, or liver failure according to study authors including Herbert Bonkovsky MD.

The National Institutes of Health estimate that unregulated supplements have a direct connection to 20% of drug-related liver injuries. Despite what you may think, it takes a surprisingly small dose to do this much damage. So it’s best to tone it down. You should limit yourself to a maximum of 500mg per day, if even that. Proceed with caution as some supplements researchers tested had 700mg in just one capsule.

Bonkovsky says, There isn’t any need to take these supplements, and when you look at the actual scientific evidence, the benefits of green tea are small to nil. A bit harsh? You would think, but then again, I tend to trust the research of a qualified doctor over the commercials simply designed to sell you something.

Scientists Have Designed Stem Cells To Kill Cancer

Another cancer breakthrough: scientists have developed a new method of stem cells that will target and kill cancer. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have tested this method on mice, and they have published their initial findings in the journal Stem Cells. The new stem cells will secrete a toxin that effectively kills cancer cells. They were also able to remove brain cells from mice without any damage to the healthy cells.

Lead author Khalid Shah described his research saying, Cancer-killing toxins have been used with great success in a variety of blood cancers, but they don’t work as well in solid tumors because the cancers aren’t as accessible and the toxins have a short half-life. Now we have toxin-resistant stem cells that can make and release cancer-killing drugs.

In short, doctors would ideally be able to target cancer cells rather than radiation, which doesn’t discriminate. They would leave healthy cells unharmed, allowing them to come back and replace cancer cells or fight them off more effectively.

The researchers started with mice with brain cancer, surgically removing their tumors. They then extracted the genetically engineered stem cells and put them in place of the old tumor in a gel. Their biggest concern at that time was that the gel might kill healthy brain cells as well, and they were successful in getting around this issue.

Next, Shah plans to target other types of cancer, and of course to test his theories and treatments on human subjects. He believes that we can now cure brain cancer, but there will be plenty of work ahead to perfect and apply this to other types of cancer. It’s still amazing news.

Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London said, This is a clever study, which signals the beginning of the next wave of therapies. Cells can do so much. This is the way the future is going to be.

Obese Women Are Different Than Men

Over and over, we’re given options to lose weight this way and that, and they spread them across the board. There are those who blame women’s habits for women having a harder time losing weight than men, but it’s more than that. For one thing, testosterone is a natural fat burner that women just don’t have as much of.

Women actually gain weight for different reasons than men, and it’s not just the basic hormones. Obese women, according to a study in the journal Cell Biology, have a specific, food related learning deficit as they call it that is not observed in obese men or people of healthy weight. This may explain why they gain so much weight.

Researchers looked at this by presenting men and women with different colored squares and then pictures of rewards (food or money). They were then asked to predict the likelihood of a reward after a certain color or pattern. It was only obese women who struggled to accurately predict when a food picture would come, but they easily predicted the money suggesting a different learning curve when it comes to food.

Co-author Ifat Levy PhD, neuroscientist at Yale University says, I must admit that we did not expect a gender difference. She explains that it might be that obese people have additional cognitive loads when it comes to food. Levy continues, Women are generally more concerned about being obese or their appearance, and therefore this load may be heavier for women.

Of course, they will need to conduct more studies to determine if the learning deficit is actually the cause or the other way around. Levy posits, It could be that obese individuals – or at least obese women – fail to flexibly adjust their valuation of food. For example, when we are hungry, food is perceived as highly rewarding. But when we are full, the food is less rewarding and can even be aversive. It is possible that some obese individuals fail to recognize the change in their internal environment, and thus keep regarding the food as highly rewarding even when it should not be.

Levy hopes for her research to help move the field of obesity research along and break into more of the actual causes to find better treatments.

Are Good Looking People Healthier?

Celebrities are easily the pinnacle of looks, but they’re also known for their extreme (and unhealthy) diet fads. They may be skinny, toned, and fit, but are they actually healthier? Are the people who you see who are regular Joes, but are better looking, are they acutally healthier? It’s evolution. According to what some would consider common sense and others would consider evolution, more attractive people may actually be healthier.

I’m not talking about celebrities who really don’t look good until they put on makeup. I’m talking about genuinely good looking people. The University of Cincinnati conducted a study following 15,000 men and women in the US from age 10 to ages 24-35. They tracked their physical and mental health, and over and over again, they observed a striking correlation. The more attractive you were, the better your health. The most attractive people were the least likely to suffer from asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, ADHD, and depression as well as stutters or tinnitus.

They also conducted 90 minute interviews, and they were rated on a five tier scale ranging from very unattractive to very attractive. Study overseers Joseph L Nedelec and Kevin M Beaver found that for every point of attractiveness achieved in the rankings the lower the risk of disease by 13 to 23%. For women, the likelihood of illness could drop by as much as 22% for just one point.

Of course, this is one study, and its results and actual meaning are limited. More attractive people we’ve seen tend to get paid more, get higher grades, and they are even liked more by children. However, compared to other studies, the Cincinnati study has a wide breadth and detail, and they argue that the differences are evolutionarily based.

You could ask what the correlation actually is. Are more attractive people healthier because of their looks, or are their looks correlated with better care that would lead them to be healthier? Do we simply perceive them to be healthier because they pass on their genes? Scientists argue that it could be a bit of each. There is no simple one sided explanation.

When Celebrities Eat Clay

Zoe Kravitz recently claimed to lose 20 pounds by eating clay. Salma Hayek will be introducing a one ounce bentonite clay shot in September, and there are plenty of cleansing supplements that claim that clay will attract toxins and help you to lose weight and be healthier at the same time. Should you eat clay?

It’s a fun trend to be sure. You’re not eating food, and one could refer to the practice as a form of PICA. But clay does have its roots in traditional medicine according to Holly Phillips, an internist and medical contributor to CBS news. It’s supporters certainly jump to cling to that fact.

The problem is that clay is much more complicated than some would like to think. Clay can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites according to Phillips. Concerns have been raised about dangerously high arsenic and lead levels in many of the supplements sold in health food stores and online.

Dr. Kent Sepkowitz has also criticized the act of eating clay for health. He has jumped on the celebrity diet, saying:

The purported benefits of geophagy, including its ability to somehow take toxins out of the system, strike me as nutty and decidedly untrue, though surely there is some impact on digestion. What needs a bit more consideration is the risk side. Dirt, after all, is dirty, and—be it clay from Attapulgus, Georgia, or the fields of Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, or the Oklahoma hills that Woody Guthrie once sang about—contains the excrement from countless animals who work the territory as they look for non-dirt nourishment.

I would say anything that is a celebrity trend is worth viewing with a skeptical eye.

What The FDA Isn’t Telling You

Traci Johnson was discovered hung on February 7, 2004 in an Indianapolis laboratory run by Eli Lilly. She had been involved in a clinical drug trial on the antidepressant duloxetine, and investigators from the Food and Drug Administration were there to investigate, coming up with inconclusive results. This left plenty of people wondering, was the drug safe or not?

Was Johnson’s death that one off situation? Now, more recently, researchers have been able to nail down differences between different types of depression from blood and urine test. They have determined that some types actually respond badly to traditional antidepressants, as Johnson did, whereas some others respond well. So what stopped them from looking for the differences before running this test?

Eli Lilly focused on the idea that this was nothing more than an isolated incident, and when any drug company chooses not to publish or reveal these types of results, it leaves the public at large partially uninformed, and in a way, if it is an isolated incident, it protects us from throwing away possibly great drugs because of those one offs.

If you read off the side effects on virtually any common antidepressant, suicide is one of the possible side effects, but only in extreme situations of course. Maybe that’s their way of revealing these types of results in an obscure way. However, the FDA claims their silence is due to the idea that some data in clinical trials is considered trade secrets or commercially protected information. In other words, if somebody dies, they hide behind trade secrets.

To be fair, the same thing can be said about measured effectiveness, and yet it’s different. Because our body chemistry is so different and we respond so differently, it’s difficult, if not impossible to find any antidepressant that is going to be effective for everybody. We’ve all been through our share of failures and side effects in trying to find the right drug.

The market is littered with stories similar to that of Johnson’s. Marketers are afraid, whether or not their product is riskier, and they don’t want you to know about these incidents, and apparently, neither does the FDA.

Eli Lilly officially lists no suicides and 2 deaths among patients who were enrolled in clinical trials for Cymbalta, which actually had suicides documented. The website now lists 10 clinical trials of Cymbalta and 5 for a drug called Yentreve, where they disclose 1 suicide and 5 deaths combined. There are 5 suicides allegedly left out of the FDA results.

Does this mean that you should swear off your antidepressants and never trust another thing your doctor says about FDA approved drugs? Not at all. Frankly, there have been many helped by antidepressants that may not work or even cause problems for others. But it does mean that you should take the FDA’s word with a grain of salt, and if you find yourself having negative side effects or things like suicidal thoughts, take them seriously and listen to yourself.

Is Medical Marijuana Going To Create An Epidemic?

The debate about marijuana in general has been raging on for years. When it comes to medical marijuana, it goes even deeper. Frankly speaking, I’m all for legalizing marijuana across the board, but when it comes to medical uses, many of the applications they name have no proof. They have one case somebody observed where they think this person had good results, and that’s about it. This said, for other things, such as reducing nausea, it can be pretty darn effective. Throw that in with chemo, and amazing. It depends on what use you’re talking about.

A new study from the Public Health Institute found that 92% of Californians using medical marijuana believe that it helps with whatever their suffering happens to be. New York mayor Michael Blooomberg on the other hand calls it one of the great hoaxes of all time, and frankly the studies are questionable in many cases at best. Anybody ever heard of the placebo effect?

I say just legalize it. Why does everything have to be medical?

There are of course some snags that are bound to come up. The Colorado Supreme Court is deciding right now if employees can be fired for medical marijuana use, even though it is considered legal.

As far as the big picture of marijuana though, one myth has traveled around. Many of the medical claims are unfounded. However, there are also those who claim that medical marijuana legalization would lead to widespread use, and that is also a myth.

Our study contradicts commonly held beliefs that medical marijuana is being overused by healthy individuals. The results lend support to the idea that medical marijuana is used equally by many groups of people and is not exclusively used by any one specific group.

The study has found that about 5% of adults in California are medical marijuana users. White adults, especially between 18 and 24, are the most common users. But every age and racial group had at least a 2% usage rate. Chronic pain was the most common reason for medical marijuana use at 31%. Arthritis and cancer were at 11%, and migraines were at 8%.

Among doctors, a New England Journal of Medicine survey showed that 76% of doctors approve of medical marijuana. The study gathered information from doctors from around the world.