Your favorite cold medicine could be shrinking your brain. A new study reveals that drugs used to treat colds and a range of other common health issues, including allergies, heartburn, hypertension, insomnia, and depression, may erode gray matter and increase the risk for dementia and other cognitive problems in older adults. Over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as Tylenol PM, Benadryl, Claritin, Dimetapp, Paxil, Xanax, Zyrtec, Lasix, and Coumadin, belong to a class of drugs known as anticholinergics. They work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits electrical impulses between nerve cells. Using PET and MRI scans, researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine examined the brain structure and metabolism of 451 people with an average age of 73. The study found those taking anticholinergic drugs had smaller brains and lower levels of glucose metabolism, particularly in the hippocampus—a brain region involved with memory that is vulnerable to earlystage Alzheimer’s disease. (Read More)
The opioid epidemic gripping the U.S. is getting worse, not better, according to a grim report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between July 2016 and September 2017, suspected opioid-related overdoses increased by 30 percent across 45 states, reports NPR.org. A more specific analysis of emergency room visits in 16 states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, found a 54 percent increase in overdoses in major metropolitan areas; in Delaware and Wisconsin, they surged by more than 100 percent. Overdose rates increased among men and women of all age groups, the report showed. Furthermore, children who have gained access and exposure to their parents’ drugs have become secondary victims of this health crisis. A separate study found that since 2004, hospitalizations for opioid overdoses have nearly doubled among kids between 1 and 17 years old. “We have an emergency on our hands,” says acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat. “The (Read More)
With tens of thousands of patients flocking to hospitals and at least 37 children dead, this year’s flu season is shaping up to be the worst in nearly a decade — and it’s not over yet. At a time when experts hoped new cases would start tapering off, federal health officials said Friday that the number of patients seeking care for flulike symptoms continues to rise sharply. Nearly 12,000 people have been hospitalized with confirmed cases of flu, an increase of 3,000 in just one week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest report, for the week ending Jan. 20, shows the rate of people seeking care now rivals that of the swine-flu pandemic of 2009. The CDC estimates that every year since 2010, influenza has resulted in 9.2 million to 35.6 million illnesses, 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths in the U.S. As (Read More)
Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish and fish oil supplements reduce the risk of cardiac death up to 30 percent, says a review of 14 randomized, controlled trials published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology. Omega-3s reduced the risk of cardiac death by 17 percent in people who had elevated triglycerides or LDL cholesterol. But patients who took more than 1 gram every day of EPA and DHA – the main fatty acids found in fish oil – reduced their risk by almost 30 percent.
Sleep often takes a backseat to parenting or a career that requires long hours, but new research suggests that sacrificing slumber for productivity is a bad trade-off. Surveys of 22,000 Americans show that people who slept five hours or less on average weeknight were 28 percent more likely to have had a cold in the past month than those who averaged at least seven hours. Worse still, Reuters.com reports, the sleep-challenged subjects were 82 percent more likely to report battling the flu, pneumonia, or an ear infection. The study doesn’t prove that sleep loss increases susceptibility to infections, but researchers note that sleep deprivation does hinder infection-fighting white blood cells. Moreover, people who are chronically tired may also be less likely to exercise or follow a healthy diet. Says study author Aric Prather, “It is our hope that this work will help raise the profile of sleep as a critical (Read More)
Most people take Vitamin C to fend off a cold, but new research suggests it could also be a possible weapon in the fight against cancer. A team of researchers at the University of Salfod in England evaluated seven substances – Vitamin C, two natural products, and four experimental cancer drugs – on their ability to block the growth of cancer stem cells, which inhibit chemotherapy and help tumors spread throughout the body. They found that Vitamin C did block the growth of cancer cells; in fact, it was 10 times more effective than one of the pharmaceuticals, although it was outperformed by two experimental drugs. The finding adds to previous research indicating that high dose vitamin C treatments could slow the growth of cancer cells in the prostate, liver, and colon. “Vitamin C is cheap, natural, nontoxic, and readily available,” study co author Michael Lisanti tells ScienceDaily.com. “To (Read More)
For those of you that appreciate a nice cold beer at the end of the day, a recent study says you now have a healthy reason to imbibe. But remember… as it says in Proverbs: “Whatever you do, do it in moderation”. When it comes to our lives (including our health), these are indeed wise words.