Health Updates 29 February 2012

  • FDA adds diabetes warning to statin label: “The FDA said today that all statins must carry warning about increased risks of elevated blood sugar and possible transient memory and cognition problems, but at the same time the agency removed a standing recommendation for routine liver function tests for patients taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs….Despite the additional warnings, the FDA said it ‘continues to believe that the cardiovascular benefits of statins outweigh these small increased risks’.  Rather than regular monitoring of liver function, the agency said that clinicians should now simply order a liver function test before starting a patient on a statin.  Although the drugs do carry a risk of liver damage, the agency has judged the risk to be ‘rare and unpredictable in individual patients’.” Label changes apply to Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Altoprev, Livalo and Zocor, among others. (Peggy Peck, MedPage Today)
  • Study supports soy cholesterol benefits for some: “Despite past evidence suggesting that eating soy might only lower cholesterol in those whose bodies are able to convert it to an estrogen-like compound called equol, a new study hints that soy might benefit a wider range of people.  Canadian researchers found that a diet high in soy isoflavones lowered so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol, or LDL, about equally in people who were considered ‘equol producers’ and in those who weren’t.  The equol producers, however, maintained their previous levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, while the non-producers’ HDL dropped as well….Before they started eating the soy, both equol and non-equol producers had LDL cholesterol in the range that would be considered high according to the American Heart Association (AHA).  Their HDL cholesterol was also considered low.” (Reuters)
  • Citrus fruits may lower women’s stroke risk: “Eating oranges and other citrus fruits may help reduce stroke risk, new research suggests.  Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been linked with lower stroke risk in other studies, but researchers weren’t sure why.  For this study, they zeroed in on compounds called flavanones present in citrus fruits and found a winner.  ‘These data provide strong support for consuming more citrus fruits as part of your daily fruit and vegetable intake,’ to reduce the risk of ischemic [blood clot-related] stroke, said study leader Aedin Cassidy, head of nutrition at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in England.  It’s possible that the flavanones in citrus fruits improve vessel function or reduce inflammation, which has been linked with stroke….For maximim benefit, whole fruits are preferable to juice because they contain more flavanones and no added sugar…”. The study involved nearly 70,000 women who reported their food intake every four years, including details on fruit and vegetable consumption. (HealthDay)
  • Many ‘mistakes’ found in newbie-doctors’ resumes: “Honesty and attention to detail are qualities expected of physicians, yet two studies looking at applications to training programs in obstetrics showed that up to 30 out of every 100 applicants took credit for research publications that could not be found.  ‘Our hope is that these are honest mistakes and not willful attempts to mislead,’ said Dr. Michael Frumovitz, a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and lead author of one of the studies.  In a field where precision is important, ‘even if it’s an honest mistake it’s very troubling,’ he said.”  The applicants in question were all doctors who had completed their medical school and residency training. (Reuters/NIH)

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