Health Updates 7 March 2012

  • Prescription meds can put on unwanted pounds: Medications taken by  millions of Americans for mood disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions can have an unhealthy side effect: weight gain.  While other choices exist for some types of drugs, adjusting medications is not simply a matter of switching, said Ryan Roux, chief pharmacy officer with the Harris County Hospital District, in Houston.  In the late 1990’s, Dr. Lawrence Cheskin conducted early research on prescription medicines and obesity.  ‘Some medications make an early, noticeable difference, causing patients to become ravenously hungry, while changes are subtle for others.  A few months taking them and you’ve gained 10 pounds,’ said Cheskin…People should talk with their health care providers if they’re troubled by weight gain, Roux said.  ‘I advocate patients talking with the pharmacist first, so they don’t arbitrarily stop their medication before their next [medical] appointment….It should not be an embarrassment either to a patient or a provider to try to dig in, to get into a person’s specific comfort level with their medication’.” (MedlinePlus)
  • Drinking scenes in movies may spur teens to do the same: “The more adolescents watch movie stars sidle up to the bar on the big screen, the more alcohol they drink themselves, a new study suggests.  A cross-sectional survey of more than 16,000 teens aged 10 to 19 from six European countries – the largest study of its kind – indicated that 27 percent had consumed five or more drinks on at least one occasion.  Teens who had seen more alcohol use in movies were significantly more likely to have engaged in binge drinking, a pattern observed across cultures with different norms regarding teen and adult alcohol use.  ‘The striking thing to me is how consistent the results were across countries and cultures,’ said study co-author Dr. James Sargent…’Whatever you want your alcohol to do for you – make you feel rich, funny, sophisticated – you can see that in the movies.  That shapes how kids see alcohol and their decisions whether to binge drink‘.” (HealthDay)
  • Christopher Lyles, got synthetic trachea, dies at 30: “Christopher Lyles, whose cancerous windpipe was swapped in November for a synthetic one seeded with his own cells in only the second operation of its kind, died on Monday in a Baltimore hospital.   He was 30 and lived in Abingdon, Md….Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, a surgeon and a leader in the field of tissue engineering who performed the windpipe surgery on Mr. Lyles in Sweden, described his death as a ‘terrible loss’.  When he returned to the United States in January after his surgery and recuperation at Karolinska University Hospital near Stockholm, Mr. Lyes had said he was feeling well and ‘thankful for a second chance on life’.  He said he was hoping eventually to resume his job as an electrical engineer with the Department of Defense.  The replacement of his natural trachea with a tissue-engineered one was considered Mr. Lyle’s only hope for survival after his tracheal cancer had progressed to the point where it was considered inoperable.” The first patient to receive a synthetic tissue-engineered windpipe is still doing well. (NY Times)
  • Amish farm kids have lower asthma, allergy risk: “Children growing up in the Amish culture in Switzerland have significantly less asthma and allergies than Swiss children who didn’t grow up on a farm, according to new research.  What’s more, Amish youngsters even have less risk of asthma and allergy than Swiss children who grew up on non-Amish farms.  The study could support the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ that a too-clean world is causing today’s urbanized kids to be more sensitive to allergens than their country cousins.  ‘In Europe, children living on traditional farms seem to have a very low prevalence of asthma and allergy,’ noted the study’s lead author….In contrast, he said ‘in the general population as many as 50 percent will have evidence of allergic sensitivity.  They may not all have the symptoms of allergy, but they will test positive for sensitivity’.  But, ‘in Swiss children who live on farms, about 25 percent have allergic sensitivity…In Amish children, it was only 7 percent.  There’s something very protective in the Amish children’.” (

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