Category Archives: Medicine

Could A Deadly Disease Kill Cancer?

Every day we’re hearing more and more about new cures for cancer, new prevention, new treatments. There are always new people claiming breakthroughs in medical science when it comes to cancer, including a recent cancer vaccine. It’s not preventative. You would simply inject a certain mix into tumors and make them shrink quite dramatically in a short period of time.

Most recently, experts are trying what they call virotherapy, which means that they inject the measles vaccine to fight cancer, which seems to be having extremely positive effects thus far. It was first announced in May, and just recently, they published a follow-up with the patient Stacy Erholtz, who has been completely cancer-free for a year. The next phase of the clinical trials will be starting shortly.

Erholtz reported to Minnesota’s Brainerd Dispatch, I’m really excited about it, not for myself, but I want some multiple myeloma measles friends. I’ve had a dose, and you can’t be redosed. It’s time for other people to have a dose. It’s a giant step forward for cancer. Let’s get it out there. Let’s put some money behind it and get it out there.

Erholtz previous had an aggressive form of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer found in the plasma cells of the bone marrow. It spread across her whole body in just 10 years. She ended up in the Mayo Clinic’s experimental study when she ran out of other options. They gave her a single high dose injection of the measles vaccine, which could have inoculated 10 million people on a normal basis. She went into complete remission after just one dose.

Research on mice has suggested that viral therapy overwhelms cancer cells and makes them literally explode. Viruses like herpes and poxvirus are particularly effective, and they bind tumors and use them as hosts to replicate their own genetic material; the cancer cells eventually explode and release the virus.

Unfortunately, the measles vaccine has not been found to be effective for all types of cancer. Other patients in the study did not see remission as Erholtz did. The effects are partially dependent on your immune system. Most people have already been vaccinated against measles, but if you have a suppressed immune system (and little previous exposure in Erholtz), you are more likely to respond to the measles virus.

You only get once chance with this kind of treatment. Once the body recognizes it, it will start attacking it before it can bond to the cancer cells. They are currently researching how to determine the right dose for each patient.

The Mayo Clinic will be offering 15 doses of the measles treatment in the new trial. 350 people are currently on the waiting list, and they want to experiment on numerous types of cancer in the brain, ovaries, neck, and head. They hope to receive FDA approval in the next 4 years.


Some Of Us Really Don’t Need As Much Sleep As Others

Ever wonder why you can’t keep up with your sister? You don’t get your 8 hours of sleep, and you’re dragging around while she is up and bouncing after only 6. I personally just drink coffee, but there are others who may actually have it in their DNA.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area published their study in the journal Sleep. They claim that there is actually a genetic mutation that could explain why some people can get by on 6 hours whereas others of us struggle with our regular 8.

The researchers monitored a sleep study with 100 pairs of healthy, same-sex twins. They were monitored at home while sleeping, and then they were given a battery of cognitive tests during a 38 hour period of being awake. The participants performed pretty well despite being sleep deprived and slept less when they had a gene mutation in the BHLHE41 gene called p. Tyr362HIS.

They say that similar mutations reduce total sleep while maintaining NREM sleep and provide resistance to the effects of sleep loss. They also recover faster from the 38 hours without sleep.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr Timothy Morgenthaler reported, This work provides an important second gene variant associated with sleep deprivation and for the first time shows the role of BHLHE41 in resistance to sleep deprivation in humans.

So what does this mean for you? How and when you sleep may not be a preference you can just get over. It is a biological need that may be wired into your DNA. Chances are, you’ve probably overestimated your ability to get by on less sleep. Research shows that a mere 5% of those who claim they need less sleep actually need less. The rest are simply sleep deprived and don’t know it.

In general, experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Do Black People Age Faster?

According to a new study, and plenty before it, being African American may not be so great in terms of your health. African Americans are reported to die faster and younger than their white counterparts, which could be related to everyday stressors of being black.

Researchers at USC calculated a biological age gap between black and white subjects by looking at the physical exams and lifestyle surveys of 7664 Americans 30 and up. 11% of the subjects were black, and the rest were white. They looked at 10 age related biomarkers including total cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and systolic blood pressure to start. They also looked at factors like education level and history of smoking. There was an average biological age gap of 53.16 years for African Americans and 49.84 years for white Americans. When socioeconomic positions and health behaviors were taken into account, the gap went to 52.72 for black people and 49.89 for whites, which is still a 3 year age gap.

Why would this happen?

According to researchers, black people saw higher rates of obesity, and a recent study also looked over black people who may internalize the idea of racial inferiority and anti-black bias. They showed even shorter biological age markers.

Your Doctor Shouldn’t Be Dr Wikipedia

We live in an age where the hypochondriac has more tools to work with than ever before. There’s Specialist Google, Surgeon Bing, and even Dr Wikipedia. When it comes to our doctors, we have learned that they don’t know everything, and we depend on commercials, the internet, and other sources for information over them. We self-diagnose, and more often than not, we end up wrong. I guess not actually having a medical degree does make a difference.

Interestingly, it’s not just us turning to the Internet, which is somewhat scary for me. What did doctors do during all of those years of school and residency, and moreover, why am I paying them when recent studies have suggested that they are looking on Wikipedia for diagnoses, just like many of us. Call me crazy, but I like to hope that a doctor has more of a reference to what those symptoms sound like rather than guessing in the dark. I’m completely okay with a medical database for doctors just to double check themselves, but Wikipedia isn’t exactly the best source for expertise. Hence why so many of us get bad self-diagnoses from it.

Instead, we are getting doctors who use Wikipedia as the #1 source of medical information. 70% of MDs report using it as an information source in providing medical care. 90% of the medical information provided on the site is inaccurate. Not so reassuring, and this comes from the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Hilary Gerber MD of Yahoo Health says, We compared the 10 conditions responsible for the most medical costs. For example, hypertension, back pain, and depression, then cross-referenced them with updated, peer reviewed studies. Most of the information on Wikipedia was inaccurate. There is information that is correct, but there just wasn’t enough that was right.

The idea is that doctors will still practice good medical judgment, but is that really enough? If they are referencing Wikipedia instead of actual medical text, I have questions about their judgment, especially considering the reports of inaccuracy. There’s no way to tell if your doctor is using Wikipedia beforehand, and even during, not necessarily unless you see them doing it. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to just shoot in the dark:

  • Research At Your Doctor’s Background: Visit websites and check out your doctor. Most of the time, you can easily find free information from your state’s medical board and other reliable sources online. You will only find settled, not any pending lawsuits if there are any. However, if you do not find it online, you can still get it from the medical board directly.
  • Get A Second Opinion: If you have your doubts, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would even say that’s healthy at times. Your doctor, even if they’re a good doctor, could be wrong from time to time. They could miss something important than another doctor would pick right up on. In fact, if they’re a newer doctor (for your second opinion), they may be fresh out of school and ready to double check their facts.
  • Check Credentials: You just assume that if your doctor is working in a clinic, they must be properly licensed, and that really should be a safe assumption. Just because they’re an MD though doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re meeting your specifications for the problems that you are suffering. It never hurts to check.

Why You Get Migraines

It’s not just a headache, it’s extreme pain that explodes, causing light to be painful, pain if you touch it, and nausea just to start. Eating things like raw onions, red wine, being around cigarette smoke, and even hormone swings that you can’t just control through diet could all be contributing factors. For hormones, some find birth control effective, and there are some pills that are actually meant to prevent migraines, stress headaches, and other severe headaches like that.

Interestingly enough, for some, they try diet changes, activity changes, taking birth control and other pills, and none of that works. Still, they have headaches and migraines come up. There are some who even find that the pills that are supposed to prevent the headaches may actually be causing them. In these cases, sometimes something like acupuncture, which is obviously an unusual approach, can be used.

So how widespread is this? Headaches and migraines are by no means unusual. Over 30 million Americans currently live with chronic migraines. 45 million people deal with chronic headaches of some kind (tension headaches, migraines, or otherwise). However, many of these people try to just deal with the headaches on their own rather than seeking relief through acupuncture, a doctor’s visit, or something else.

The American Academy of Neurology and the International Headache Society have both looked to complete more research to fight and prevent these types of headaches. If you find that you are experiencing this, you can take Advil or other pain pills, but you may want to visit your doctor if they are chronic to see about preventative approaches.

Why You Can’t Remember Being A Baby

There are plenty of pictures for most people of when they were babies. There is proof that yes, once you were that tiny human who required someone to do just about everything for you, but just try remembering that. For the average human being, that is never going to happen. Scientists have recently announced why that is, and it’s not because you simply don’t have the capacity to build memories as a baby.

When your body creates new cells in young and developing brains, they naturally push out and eliminate the circuits where you form memories. When your brain slows the process of making new brain cells, it makes it easier and possible for you to craft more concrete memories. Despite what may seem obvious, when your brain is busy building new brain cells, you have less capacity for creating memories.

Paul Frankland, a neurobiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children In Toronto who led the original study says, Some kind of forgetting is important for memory. There’s finite capacity. You want to get rid of all the junk, and you want to remember the important features and important events.

For years, scientists and ordinary citizen alike have guessed and questioned why we can’t remember our baby memories. They has been puzzled, but now we have a hard reason. Before, we were depending on the likes of Freud and more modern scientists’ guesses. Freud originally claimed we were just repressing our memories, because they were too filled with psychosexual content. Scientists only realized that this might be faulty when studying the fact that other animals experienced the same problem.

The recent research is still in its infancy, though it is naturally exciting. It’s definitely something that scientists will continue to study, and it definitely is an important breakthrough.

Is Stress Causing Your Headache?

Whether it’s all over tension headaches or localized migraines, when you experience more stress, studies have suggested that you will also suffer more and more frequent headaches. A study in Germany followed subjects for 2 years, tracking stress levels, headache types, and headache regularity with 500 adult subjects. If they were to report more stress, they also reported more headaches according to the study. The scale given was 0 to 100, and they found that every 10 point increase in stress led to a 6% increase in headaches.

However, this is still early. The exact links between stress and headaches aren’t 100% clear according to coauthor Sara Schramm MD of the University Hospital of Duisburg-Essen University. According to Schramm, the actual causes of headaches may be much more complex, and there’s no simple answer. The good news in a way is that the connection definitely does exist.

Schramm has recommended stress lowering techniques such as yoga and meditation to prevent future issues with unnecessary headaches.