ErinPharm Gazette October 2007
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The focus this month is on the need to become aware of, and be tested, for peripheral artery disease. Dramatic news that autologous (self) tissues can potentially be generated from skin cells. Breast cancer mortality is continuing to drop; women should schedule mammograms. News that small portable ultrasound scanners for carotid artery disease have become available for use in the average physician's office. Merck has announced it is in human clinical studies with a drug candidate that can raise HDL-cholesterol as much as 139% while lowering LDL-cholesterol by 40%. Recent studies reveal that aggressive medical treatment for minor stroke can reduce the incidence of a later major stroke by about 80%. A webcast video editorial is a clarion call to the young heading to college to promote the idea of a Global Medical Village and a US Global Health Service.
A review of October 2007. A selection of topics.
This web page is one of a number of ErinPharm web pages designed by me as a synopsis of topics that interest me as well as being a quick reference page for my newsletter subscribers and myself. I have no affiliation of any kind to any pharmaceutical company or medical group. The opinions expressed are my own. I welcome communication and debate. I am an optimist. I look forward to the future with wonder.
The Life Extension Foundation
Keep up to date with advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of colorectal cancer.
Know about the latest treatment guidelines for addiction.
Patients should know everything there is to know about Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Advances in lung cancer therapies are moving ahead. Keep up to date.
University of Kansas research scientist, Dr. Ann Manzardo, is exploring the link between thiamine deficiency and a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
The first comprehensive map of Genomic copy number variations has been developed. Such copy numbers influence genetic diversity and susceptibility to disease.
The American Cancer Society is your main source of information in the ongoing battle against cancer.
Are you trying to lose weight and have been misled by the multi-billion dollar industry selling pills, potions, and 'magic cures'? You are not alone. A survey backed by a commercial drug company reports that approximately 70% of American dieters have tried scientifically unproven methods to lose weight. That's an astounding number of people who have tried dietary supplements in the form of pills and powders. About half of survey respondents incorrectly think supplements are approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, while about two-thirds believe such products must carry warning labels for side effects. All that happens is maybe temporary loss of weight and the emptying of your pocket. Resist the temptation to believe in those seductive commercials. The only way you can lose weight and keep it off is by a commitment to a change in lifestyle. I recommend lifestyle changes. For more about companies who will help you with lifestyle changes look near the end of the index page for ErinPharm. Index page.
The first ever national survey about awareness of peripheral artery disease (PAD) has brought us the troubling news that in the American population PAD is barely known to one in four people and that fewer than 5% of physicians even use an ankle/brachial (arm) blood pressure test to screen for peripheral artery disease. Since many people, particularly those with a sedentary lifestyle, may not even notice the temporary leg pain and cramp from walking a more than normal distance or even worse shrug it off as yet another sign of getting older, the perilous consequence of lack of awareness is a major health problem. The symptoms of restricted blood flow to the legs due to plaque build-up is a sure sign that plaque build-up in the arteries of the heart and/or carotid arteries to the brain has already begun or is likely to follow. The discovery that coronary plaque can be halted in progression or even reversed which reached publication in April 2004 has added impetus to a national focus on lowering blood pressure and reducing circulating blood cholesterol, which has contributed to the ongoing decline in mortality from cardiovascular disease. This survey brings emphasis on the next important factor to bring under control. Since plaque build-up in the coronary arteries, carotid arteries, and femoral arteries leading to the legs are all part of the same system of metabolic dysfunction the same medications and lifestyle advice become relevant to those diagnosed with peripheral artery disease. Bring this article to the attention of your physician, insist that you get regular ankle/brachial blood pressure measurements, do not allow lack of knowledge impede you in your search for optimal healthy longevity.
The most common malignancy in men is prostate cancer, found as small carcinomas in an estimated 60% of men as they reach 60 years of age. This article brings good news that prevention strategies under study have much promise while treatment options avert aggressive intervention common in the past. The overall risk of dying from prostate cancer remains quite low so current medical research promises an era in which this cancer will be brought under control.
Dramatic and profound news from the Whitehead Institute alert us to the beginning of the ability to produce autologous tissues (our own tissue with our own DNA) from mature skin cells. This development bypasses the controversy over embryonic stem cells since these reprogrammed skin cells can give rise to every kind of tissue type. The research, by Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch and his colleagues at the Whitehead Institute, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, and Dr. Konrad Hochedlinger of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute is quoted as being so simple it could immediately be duplicated in thousands of laboratories around the world. This would enable scientist researchers to take this proof in principle, resolve technical issue, and then produce autologous tissue ready for human clinical trials. This is truly remarkable and all those who have worked to produce these results are pioneers in a new world of autologous tissue and organ transplants. This is a time of reflection and wonder.
But there is still a lot more work to be done in resolving those technical issues as described by Andrew Pollack in the New York Times.
The death rate from breast cancer is continuing to drop steadily, by about 2% a year, with a sharper drop of 4.8% a year since 2001 for women over 50. Unfortunately black women and younger women have no such decline, with breast cancer mortality rates remaining about the same. A small decline in mammograms and consequent early breast cancer diagnoses is a trend that must be reversed by encouraging women to include an annual mammogram, uncomfortable and painful though it may be, to help diagnose breast cancer earlier when it is most treatable and potentially curable.
Discussion and controversy is arising over the rising availability of miniature ultrasound scanners that can be used to evaluate whether a healthy patient has carotid artery plaque and thus the possibility of undetected cardiovascular disease. As an early surveillance, non invasive, method of giving healthy individuals peace of mind surely this is a good thing. It brings within the competence of the average physician a cost effective ability to determine whether a patient needs advice, medication, or further testing. This article by Marilynn Marchione presents a balanced review of what should become a part of a regular office visit.
In dramatic news from Merck the company has announced that results from a small 8-week clinical trial show that a Merck experimental drug, MK-859, raised levels of HDL-cholesterol by 139% and lowered LDL-cholesterol by 40%. The drug belongs to the same class of inhibitors of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) as torcetrapib, the Pfizer molecule which showed great promise until data showed increased blood pressure and so clinical trials were terminated. In comparison MK-859 does not increase blood pressure and has an incidence of side effects comparable to placebo. This news illustrates the intense competition between the major pharmaceutical research companies to reach the market with with a drug that will put arterial plaque into rapid regression by such major changes in the levels of HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. ErinPharm will follow and report on MK-859 with great interest during the progress of clinical trials over the next four years - an estimate of the time needed to accumulate suficient data to present to the FDA.
A major shift in thinking about transient ischemic attack (TIA), or minor stroke, should follow publication of two separate studies, in Lancet and Lancet Neurology, which showed rapid assessment and aggressive treatment reduced a major subsequent stroke event by about 80%. Led by Dr. Peter Rothwell, the EXPRESS study, the Early Use of Existing Preventive Strategies for Stroke, from Oxford University in the United Kingdom, gives ample reason to immediately implement such strategies to patients presenting with minor stroke.
In a clarion call to the young Americans heading toward college, Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at George Washington University, gives a webcast video editorial appealing for a basic national commitment to the idea of a Global Medical Village in which a US Global Health Service would reach out to the suffering of this world. Such a message, and a mission, should engage the attention of all American youth.
In an interesting study it was found that statin usage among smokers and former smokers had some protective effect against progression of lung damage.
In this review of carotid atherosclerosis and the option of carotid andarterectomy the suprise to many may be that even substantial plaque build-up in a carotid artery is not necessarily reason to perform this very invasive surgery. More than most diagnoses this impels the individual to seek multiple medical opinions before making a decision for surgery. Most certainly the medical option of a statin (with coenzyme Q10), omega-3 fish oils, an anti-oxidant fruit juice such as pomegranate juice, dietary changes and lifestyle exercise changes for most could well be a real option.
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