ErinPharm Gazette  February 2007
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This month has been notable for a final systemic review establishing the safety of statins as a monotherapy option, with recognition of defined and known interactions with other medications. There is continued interest in raising HDL-cholesterol although with little progress to date on therapy to raise levels by major amounts. Technological progress on visualizing arterial plaque is coming into prominence as more clinical trials are planned. Debate continues on how low LDL-levels could be taken for optimal health benefit.
The importance of raising the target levels for circulating Vitamin D3 has gained attention because of reports that a major section of the American population is below optimal levels thus increasing the risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Folate deficiency and niacin deficiency have been identified as risk factors for loss of mental acuity and Alzheimer's disease in the elderly population.
The developed world continues to fight obesity, particularly among the young, while in the underdeveloped world tens of millions of impoverished people are undernourished, have primitive sanitation, contaminated water, and lack rudimentary health care while they suffer the impact of hunger, malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.
A review of February 2007
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  February 28, 2007                            John L. Fahey 
The Life Extension Foundation
Tremendous strides forward are being made in the treatment of breast cancer. Keep up to date on these advances. Medscape Breast Cancer Resource Center
Keep up to date with advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of colorectal cancer.
Medscape Colorectal Cancer Resource Center
Know about the latest treatment guidelines for addiction.
Medscape Addiction Resource Center
Patients should know everything there is to know about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Medscape GERD Resource Center
Advances in lung cancer therapies are moving ahead. Keep up to date.
Medscape Lung Cancer Resource Center
Leading expert Dr. Mark Freedman presents new perspectives on multiple sclerosis
University of Kansas research scientist, Dr. Ann Manzardo, is exploring the link between thiamine deficiency and a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
Alcoholism and thiamine deficiency
Treatment of chronic pain patients with opioids causes serious problems for primary care physicians.
Opioids, chronic pain
The first comprehensive map of Genomic copy number variations has been developed. Such copy numbers influence genetic diversity and susceptibility to disease.
Gene copy numbers
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.
Read this article from Medscape
The American Cancer Society is your main source of information in the ongoing battle against cancer.
The American Cancer Society and You
A systemic review of statin safety should finally put to rest inaccurate reports that statins currently on the market are not safe. It is probable that the beginning of these reports dates back to the withdrawal of cerivastatin (Baycol)from worldwide markets in August 2001 because of alarming reports that Baycol had an 80-fold increased reporting rate of rhabdomyolysis compared with other statins available at the time. This review of issues regarding the safety of statins currently available is based on data from a wide variety of sources including prospective cohort studies, placebo controlled trials, voluntary notifications of drug-related adverse events to national regulatory authorities, and published case reports.
It is of course important to recognise that although statins are safe as monotherapy, that when other medications are taken that safety can become compromised. Thus a review of muscle toxicity, myopathies and creatine kinase elevations found them to be essentially random, transient, or uncommon. with a slightly higher incidence of minor muscle pain compared with placebo. A number of potential concomitant medications have been identified that do present risk and warrant lower statin doses due to the heightened risk of myopathy including treatment with gemfibrozil or other fibrates, grapefruit juice and other CYP3A4 inhibitors, ritonavir and other HIV protease inhibitors, erythromycin and other macrolide antibiotics, azole antifungals, and other drugs such as the antidepressant nefazodone.  
Muscle toxicity, creatine kinase elevation, and myopathy  

Although a low incidence of elevated liver transaminases occurred in a dose related manner in some patients, reversal occurred with continued treatment, reduced treatment, or discontinuation. Liver toxicity, if it exists at all, was judged to be exceedingly rare. Gall bladder disorders were found to be lower in patients receiving statins compared to a placebo. No evidence was found for an increase in renal failure or chronic renal failure in those taking a statin, and there was actually a significantly lower rate of decline in glomerular filtration rate in patients taking statins compared to controls.  
Liver and kidney diseases  
Some evidence was found that although statins reduce the risk of stroke overall (largely acute ischemic stroke) there is some evidence of an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke but that effect could be due to cholesterol reduction by any means and not specifically due to statin treatment. A low incidence of peripheral neuropathy was found, resolving on statin discontinuation. Cognitive decline in elderly patients was comparable between statin treatment and placebo. 
Neurologic diseases  

In conclusion, the review of available data concluded there is a very low absolute risk of statin-associated toxicity and given the very considerable risk of cardiovascular events in patients being treated with a statin, it would not be prudent to withold statin treatment fearing adverse events. Caution would be appropriate in witholding or discontinuing statins for patients receiving medications that can increase circulating statin levels via pharmacokinetic reactions as identified above. 

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death among US residents, responsible for more than 650,000 deaths annually, 500,000 recurrent myocardial infarction (MI, heart attack) cases, and approximately 700,000 new cases of myocardial infarction each year. Statins are integral to reduce this incidence and several landmark trials have demonstrated a 23% to 37% reduction in relative risk and coronary mortality because of their ability to modify lipid levels as well as inflammatory, thrombotic, and other mechanisms of atherosclerosis.
Benefit of statin treatment   

Although serious muscle toxicity with currently marketed statins is very rare, ongoing patient interaction to monitor myotoxicity on the continuum from mild myalgias to rhamdomyolysis is essential since interaction with other medications is known, has been defined, and does present risk.
Risk of muscle toxicity   

Current monitoring of liver enzymes should be continued, although there is no need to discontinue statin therapy for an isolated asymptomatic transaminase level 1-3 times the upper level of normal, and if routine evaluation is greater than 3 times the upper limit of normal the test should be repeated and, if still elevated, other causes ruled out. Healthcare professionals should be alert to patient reports of jaundice, malaise, fatigue indicating hepatotoxicity.
Hepatic safety   

A baseline renal function should be done for patients about to be placed on statin therapy, however several lines of evidence indicate that statins may have a renoprotective effect.
Potential renoprotective effect    

Since the potential risk of peripheral neuropathy is very small, if it exists at all, it is reasonable to rule out secondary causes such as diabetes, alcohol abuse vitamin B12, renal insufficiency and hypothyroidism. There is some evidence that statins can reduce the rate of cognitive decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Statins and Alzheimer's disease     

The benefit/risk ratio for statin therapy in averting myocardial infarction (heart attack) and cerebral infarction (stroke) is very high.
The benefit/risk ratio for statins                                     Conclusions 

Since the first major clinical trials established the efficacy of statin therapy in the prevention of coronary heart disease it has also been noted that the therapy reduces the risk of stroke. It has been reported that a risk reduction of 28%
of ischemic stroke with no apparent difference in the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
Reduction in risk of stroke   

Further investigation of high dose statin therapy in patients without coronary heart disease but a history of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) as reported at the International Stroke Conference, February 7-8, 2007, the SPARCL study, has established efficacy in reducing the risk of stroke. On a 4.9 year follow-up patients with a greater than 50% reduction of LDL-cholesterol had a relative reduction in risk of stroke of 31%.
The SPARCL study   

A study in the Netherlands on folate deficient patients aged 50 to 70 years treated with folic acid daily for three years showed an association with significantly less decline in global cognitive function, memory, information processing and sensimotor speed.
From Medscape  
Due to the increasing number of trials aimed at plaque reversal by increasing HDL-cholesterol as well as the disappointing termination of the torcetrapib trials an emerging interest in visualizing arterial plaque with newer technological methods promises to place future trials on a firmer basis of evaluation.
Looking at arterial plaque    

A multidisciplinary group has developed new guidelines for evaluating carotid plaque in the general population not yet exhibiting symptoms. Such guidelines could help avert stroke before it happens.
Averting stroke before the event    

Implanted radioactive seeds for early stage prostate cancer have been shown to have an excellent outcome.
Radioactive seeds and prostate cancer  

Researchers have claimed that adding 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily to an individual's diet could lower the risk of breast cancer by half and colorectal cancer by two thirds. Further study of this claim is needed.
Vitamin D3, breast cancer and colorectal cancer  

Increasing circulating Vitamin D3 levels improves survival rates in patients after surgery for early stage lung cancer.
Vitamin D3 and lung cancer   

Increased circulating Vitamin D3 levels have been associated with significantly less risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D3 and multiple sclerosis  

Intake of Vitamin D3 is needed to achieve new guidelines for optimal circulating Vitamin D3 levels.
Optimal Vitamin D3 levels  

The Rush Institute in Chicago has published data showing that an adequete supply of Niacin in the diet can cut the incidence of Alzheimer's disease by as much as 70%.
Niacin and Alzheimer's disease.  

Debate continues on how low LDL-cholesterol levels should be taken.
Lowering LDL-cholesterol target levels even more?  

Research continues on finding new drug candidates to lower LDL-cholesterol.
New drugs to lower LDL-cholesterol    

Raising HDL-cholesterol is still a major objective despite setbacks.
Raising HDL-cholesterol     

For the first time teeth grown from single cells in culture have been used successfully to replace natural teeth in mice. Is this the beginning of hope for those wearing dentures?
Growing back natural teeth

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