Experts Warn of Severely Low Influenza Vaccine Efficacy

Picture courtesy of PxHere

Picture courtesy of PxHere

Experts from the World Health Organization and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are warning that the 2017-2018 flu season may be worse than past years due to an ineffective vaccine. Currently the influenza A strain H3N2 is sweeping through the southern hemisphere. Australia, which had 59,000 cases of the H1N1 swine flu virus confirmed by mid-October in 2009, had 215,000 cases of H3N2 by mid-October this year. Preliminary data suggests that the flu vaccine for H3N2 in 2017-2018 is only 10% effective. Earlier this year the WHO recommended that flu vaccines block against the same strains that were recommended in 2016-2017, which could be contributing to the low efficacy as other strains that aren’t blocked arise. It will be extra important this flu season to focus on washing hands, covering coughs, and disinfecting to prevent the spread of germs.

For more information please visit MedScape, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Did you receive the 2017-2018 flu vaccine this season and still got the flu? Have you noticed more patients asking for flu remedies this year?

FDA Okays Once-Monthly Buprenorphine Shot for Opioid Use Disorder

Image courtesy of Pixabay – OverHook

Image courtesy of Pixabay – OverHook

Last week the FDA approved Sublocade, a once monthly injection of extended release buprenorphine, for the treatment of moderate and severe opioid abuse disorder in adults. The injection can only be administered by a healthcare provider and the patient must also enroll in a treatment program that includes counseling and psychosocial support. Sublocade (buprenorphine) works by binding and occupying opioid receptors in the brain and preventing true opioids (heroin/painkillers/etc) from binding and having effect for 30 days. The net result is that with the opioid receptors occupied, drug abusers begin to stop liking and wanting opioids, allowing them to break the cycle of addiction with the combined counseling and therapy. It is estimated by the CDC that from 2000-2015 more than 500,000 people have died from drug overdose, and in 2017 an average of 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose daily. Sublocade is set to become available in early 2018.

For more information please visit MedScape.

Do you have any patients, family, or friends struggling with opioid addiction who could benefit from treatment with Sublocade? What plans need to be put into place for the dispensing and administration of Sublocade at the retail level? 

Male-Pattern Baldness and Premature Graying Associated With Risk of Early Heart Disease

Picture courtesy of Pixabay – kalhh

Picture courtesy of Pixabay – kalhh

Researchers presented data at the 69th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India this week that links early hair loss and graying to an elevated risk of heart disease in men under 40 years old. The data showed that compared to those with no heart disease, men under 40 years old with coronary artery disease had a higher prevalence of premature hair loss (50% vs 30%) and premature graying (49% vs 27%). Adjusted for age and cardiovascular risk factors, males in the study who presented with premature balding or greying had 5.6 and 5.3 times greater risk of coronary artery disease respectively. In the entire study, premature balding and greying were the most reliable indicators of coronary artery disease; even greater than obesity (4.1 times greater risk), diabetes, hypertension, family history, dyslipidemia, and smoking. Premature hair loss and graying are typically a result of a combination of family history, stress, insufficient sleep, and poor diet. It is important to emphasize that losing your hair is not something that causes heart disease, but rather something that can help to identify someone with a higher risk of heart disease.

Please visit ScienceDaily for more information.

Have you noticed a similar trend among patients with heart disease? What are some things that we can do to reduce stress? How many hours of sleep are you getting every night and is it enough?

Bodybuilding Products Sold Online May Be Mislabeled or Unsafe

Image courtesy of fairchild.af.mil

Image courtesy of fairchild.af.mil

According to a new study many bodybuilding supplements sold online are mislabeled and contain unapproved drugs and other ingredients that may not be safe. Researchers tested 44 products that were marketed as nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), which mimic the effects of testosterone and help build muscle. The study found that only about half of the supplements actually contained SARMs. One in four products contained ingredients that weren’t on the label, including potentially dangerous drugs, and 59 percent had more or less than the advertised amounts of certain ingredients. Four products were found to contain tamoxifen, a drug used in the treatment of breast cancer. It is very important to be cautious when buying any workout or nutritional supplements online, make sure to research the company selling the product.

For more information visit Reuters.

Do you ever purchase any supplements online, if so where from? Do you know how to tell if a company is trustworthy? How do you feel about more stringent regulations on supplements/bodybuilding products that are sold?

More Middle-School Girls Are Inflicting Self-Pain, Experts Say it Might Be Because of Smartphones.

Picture courtesy of TheHunt – Shadowmxses

Picture courtesy of TheHunt – Shadowmxses

An analysis of emergency room visits for adolescent and teenage girls has discovered an alarming increase in self harm over the past decade. From 2009 to 2015 the rate of self-harm emergency visits for girls aged 10-14 increased 18.8% yearly from 110 per 100,000 to 318 per 100,000. Comparatively, the rate for girls aged 15-19 increased 7.2% yearly from 2008-2015 and for age 20-24 by 2.0% yearly from 2001-2015. Experts and psychologists believe that the higher rate increase for younger girls may be related to smartphones, the internet, and social media. Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, has found in her research that teens who spend 5 or more hours on the internet daily have a 71% increased likeliness of having a suicide risk factor (such as depression or suicidal thoughts) compared to teens who spend one hour or less. The original iPhone was released in mid-2007, and in 2015 surveys showed that nearly 74% of girls age 13-17 have their own smartphone, up from less than 40% in 2012.

For more information please visit The Washington Post, and the original letter via the Journal of the American Medical Association.

How old were you when you got your first phone? Have you ever had to talk to a child about body image or self-harm? What can we do to combat the rising rates of teenage depression, internet bullying, and self-harm in America?

Blood Lead Levels Lower, But Tooth Decay Higher in Children Who Do Not Drink Tap Water

Picture courtesy of Flickr – USEPA

Picture courtesy of Flickr – USEPA

A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine examined the relationship of tap water consumption to blood lead levels and tooth decay in children aged 2-19 years old. Researchers from the University of North Carolina reviewed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted from 2011-2014. From this data they found that children who reported not drinking tap water were 38% less likely to have a blood lead level ≥3 μg/dL, but also 13% more likely to have dental caries upon examination. Elevated blood lead levels, defined by the CDC as ≥5 μg/dL, are associated with lower IQ, decreased attention span, and decreased academic achievement. Dental caries lead to cavities, tooth decay, and other dental problems. Much of the tap water in the United States contains fluoride, which helps to kill bacteria in the mouth that cause dental caries.

For more information please visit ScienceDaily, and the original study via the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Do you encounter many parents who are concerned about lead levels in tap water and will only drink bottled water? Did you know that Britta water filters will remove lead and other contaminants from tap water while preserving fluoride? If you are avoiding tap water do you make sure to use fluoridated toothpaste and brush teeth diligently?

Cinnamon Turns Up the Heat on Fat Cells

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Researchers had previously observed that an essential oil, cinnamaldehyde, which gives cinnamon its flavor, appeared to protect mice from obesity and hyperglycemia by affecting metabolism. Researchers in the lab of Jun Wu, assistant research professor at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, found that cinnamaldehyde improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, adipocytes, inducing them to start burning energy through a process called thermogenesis. Wu and her colleagues tested various human adipocytes, when treated with cinnamaldehyde they noticed increased expression of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism, observing an increase in Ucp1 and Fgf21 regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis. Cinnamon has been enjoyed by people for thousands of years, so this could potentially offer patients an easier to adhere to approach for metabolic health. Further studies are needed to determine how to attain the best metabolic benefits from cinnamaldehyde without causing adverse side effects.

For more information visit ScienceDaily, and the original study via the journal of Metabolism.

How often do you consume cinnamon? Would you consider incorporating cinnamon more often in your diet now? Do you know of any other spices that also boost metabolism?

Anti-Malaria Drug Shows Promise as Zika Virus Treatment

Image courtesy of freestockphotos.

Image courtesy of freestockphotos.

A new collaborative study from Stanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) and UC San Diego School of Medicine has found that Chloroquine, a medication used in the prevention and treatment of malaria, may also be effective for the Zika virus. Chloroquine has been around for a long time, is relatively inexpensive, and most importantly is safe to use during pregnancy. The researchers utilized pregnant mice, who were infected with the Zika virus, and found that Chloroquine reduced the amount of virus in the maternal blood and in the fetal brain cells. Even though the virus was not completely cleared, the drug reduced the viral load, suggesting it could limit the neurological damage in newborns who are infected by the virus. Additional studies are needed to determine Chlororquine’s effectiveness against the Zika virus in humans, but this is a step in the direction towards finding a possible cure.

For more information visit ScienceDaily.

Do you know which areas are high risk of Zika virus? Have you traveled to an area with a high risk of Zika virus? Do you know where to find more information about Zika virus?

Proteins in Breast Milk Protect Offspring Against Food Allergy

Picture courtesy of PxHere

Picture courtesy of PxHere

A study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine has shown that breastfeeding newborns is linked to their protection against common food allergies. The study was conducted in mice by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Milk from mice that had been exposed to egg protein provided egg allergy protection to their offspring, as well as to offspring of other mice who had not been exposed to egg protein. The study found that the offspring of egg protein exposed mothers did not receive a sufficient amount of egg allergy protection if they were not also breast fed. The the offspring with the greatest allergy protection came from egg protein exposed mothers that both birthed and nursed the newborn. The results of the study are consistent with new dietary recommendations which promote consumption of commonly allergenic foods such as milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish, while pregnant and nursing.

For more information please visit FoodAlergy.org, and the original study via JEM.

How often do you discuss breastfeeding with new mothers or counsel them about food allergies? Do you discuss the consumption of highly allergenic food during pregnancy?

Dog owners have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, a study of 3.4 million Swedes has found.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay – 1426260

Picture courtesy of Pixabay – 1426260

A recent study of over 3.4 million people conducted in Sweden has found a link between dog ownership and a significant reduction in risk of heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular death, and all cause death. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that when adjusted for age and sex, dog owners had a 23% reduced risk of cardiovascular related death and 20% reduced risk of all cause death. Interestingly, compared to people who live alone, single dog owners had a 33% reduced risk of death and 11% reduced risk of heart attack. People who own dogs are more likely to be physically active, have social contact, and be exposed to different beneficial bacteria that a non-owner might not be. The dog breed with the largest risk reduction were hunting dogs such as pointers (40%) and scent hounds (37%).

For more information please visit the BBC, and the original study via Scientific Reports.

Do you think that the reduced risk of death in this study was more related to the effect of owning a dog, or the type of person who owns a dog? Should we consider recommending that people who live on their own get a dog given the huge death risk reduction for that population?