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Health Updates 20 June 2012

  • Statin drugs cause fatigue in some people: “Many observational reports have suggested that statin drugs cause fatigue in some people, and now a randomized trial has found further evidence for the effect.  The experiment, published online June 11 in Archives of Internal Medicineincluded 1,016 healthy men and women over age 20 with levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, ranging from 115 to 190 milligrams per deciliter of blood (around 100 milligrams per deciliter is generally considered optimal).  A third of them took 20 milligrams of simvastatin, a third 40 milligrams of pravastatin, and a third took a placebo daily for six months.  They rated themselves for ‘energy’ and ‘fatigue with exertion’ on 5-point and 10-point scales.  The researchers found that LDL levels declined significantly in the groups on statins.  But as a group, those on statins were significantly more likely than those on placebo to  report that their overall energy level and their energy on exertion had declined.  The effect was more apparent in women than in men.  The lead author, Dr. Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, said that the side effect was not rare.  ‘Patients need to be aware of this, in case they notice fatigue when on statins, so that they can have a discussion with their physicians,’ she said.  ‘A minimum step would be a trial of discontinuation to see if the statins are a contributing factor’.” (NY Times)
  • Weight-loss surgery increases alcohol use disorders over time: “Adults who had a common bariatric surgery to lose weight had a significantly higher risk of alcohol use disorders (AUD) two years after surgery, according to a study by a National Institutes of Health research consortium.  Researchers investigated alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders symptoms in 1,945 participants from the NIH-funded Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS), a prospective study of patients undergoing weight-loss surgery at one of 10 hospitals across the United States.  Within 30 days before surgery, and again one and two years after surgery, study participants completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification (AUDIT) test.  The test…identifies symptoms of alcohol use disorders, a condition that includes alcohol abuse and dependence, commonly known as alcoholism.”  Results indicated that by the second year after by-pass surgery, there was a relative increase of 50% in symptoms of alcohol use disorders compared to pre-surgical rates.  One  in 8 LABS study participants reported having at least three drinks per day on a typical drinking day the second year after surgery.  This is concerning, given the negative impact heavy drinking may have on liver function, maintaining weight loss, and vitamin and mineral status.  Depressive symptoms were also increased.  The prevalence of bariatric surgery to treat obesity has increased dramatically.  More and better pre- and post-procedure counseling and monitoring is recommended. (NIH News)
  • Discount supermarkets tied to rising obesity rates: “People who shop at lower-cost supermarkets are more likely to be obese than those who shop at higher-priced stores, according to a new study.  The findings suggest that supermarket prices – rather than proximity – may be a key weapon in the United States’ fight against obesity….Specifically, the researchers analyzed where the residents [of a King County, Washington group] primarily shopped for groceries and what brands of food they bought.  They also divided the supermarkets used by the residents into three price levels based on the average price of 100 products.  After taking into account the shoppers’ demographics, education and income, the researchers found that only one in seven participants said they shopped at the nearest supermarket…The study, published June 14 in the American Journal of Public Healthalso found obesity rates were linked to the type of supermarket the people used.  The prevalence of obesity was just 9 percent among those who shopped at higher-priced supermarkets, compared to 27 percent at lower-cost stores.  Although bringing supermarkets closer to underserved areas may help combat the obesity epidemic, the researchers said making healthy foods more affordable is a key strategy that also should be considered.” (HealthDay)
  • Health tip: when memory loss isn’t normal “Some memory loss is typical as you age, but there are other warning signs that suggest a person’s memory loss goes beyond simply getting older.  The Cleveland Clinic says these warning signs may be cause for concern:
    • Inability to remember recent events.
    • Inability to remember a task without a written reminder.
    • Difficulty performing daily tasks and chores.
    • Inability to perform more complex tasks, such as driving or paying bills.
    • Being unaware that you have memory loss.
    • Showing poor judgment.
    • Exhibiting significant behavioral changes, such as excessive worrying, or often feeling agitated or suspicious.  (womenshealth.gov)
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