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Monthly Archives: December 2016

3 Bloody Health Risks of Being a Vampire

Major vitamin D deficiency. It doesn’t matter which vampire-ideology you subscribe to, most myths stick to this: Vampires and sunlight don’t mix. While some believe blood-suckers have a heightened sensitivity to sunshine, triggering extreme pain,Twilight’s Edward (and the rest of his vamp-fam, the Cullens) stick to dreary, dark locations because their extremely fair skin actually sparkles in the sunlight (which could out them as vampires, of course). Either way, there are real health risks to living sunshine-free. Daylight is a natural source of vitamin D, the powerful vitamin that promotes the body’s absorption of calcium — the mineral that keeps your teeth and bones strong. Without vitamin D, your risk of conditions such as osteoporosis skyrocket.

Fortunately for the Cullens, vitamin D supplements are available, and it can also be found in a number of foods, such as salmon, sardines, and dairy.

Sleep deprivation. No wonder vampires are so darn cranky! Twilight’s living dead never sleep (sounds like a big drawback to us, Bella); others walk the night (so we’re willing to bet their sleep habits aren’t very sound).

What does that mean for these fatigued freaks of nature? Along with about 30 percent of humans, vampires likely suffer some pretty hefty health problems due to insomnia. Skimping on zzzs is tied to a number of symptoms — from higher levels of depression and heart problems to lower sex drive and energy.

Dental issues. Just like the rest of the body, teeth need certain nutrients to stay healthy. Are those nutrients found in human blood? Nope — they’re found in foods like calcium-rich dairy, fruits, and veggies. In fact, dentists are so sure that vampires’ pearly whites are in terrible shape, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) recently launched a dental health campaign around the idea. The video, aimed at dentist-evading teens, features a young woman about to be bitten by a vampire, when she suddenly pushes him away, repulsed by his awful breath and hideous teeth.

Alcohol Not Main Killer of Drinkers

Older people who drink heavily don’t necessarily have to fear dying of liver disease, a researcher said.

In a population-based Dutch study, only a handful of heavy drinkers in an older cohort died of liver-related causes, according to Jeoffrey Schouten, MD, of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The major causes of death were cardiovascular disease and cancer, but not hepatocellular carcinoma, Schouten reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

On the other hand, the study confirmed previous studies that suggest light and moderate drinking is protective, Schouten said.

He and colleagues followed 3,884 residents of Rotterdam — all 55 or older at the start of the study in 1990 — for a median of 15.2 years, until they died or until Dec. 31, 2008.

The participants were stratified by their drinking level, with the aim of understanding the causes of death for those who drank heavily, as well as the links between all-cause mortality and alcohol consumption.

Every four or five years, participants went through cycle of examinations, including clinical studies and questionnaires on various aspects of their lives, such as alcohol consumption. The clinical exams included blood work, anthropomorphic measurements, and imaging studies.

The study included the following:

  • 1,398 non-drinkers
  • 1,144 light drinkers (less than one gram of alcohol a day)
  • 963 moderate drinkers (between 10 and 30 grams daily)
  • 379 heavy drinkers (more than 30 grams a day)

Over the study period, Schouten reported, there were 1,825 deaths: 556 from cardiovascular disease, 496 from cancers, and 773 from a host of other causes, including three from alcohol-related liver disease.

Among the 188 heavy drinkers who died, 28% died of cardiovascular causes and 34% of cancer, he said. But only three cases of alcohol-related cancers and no cases of liver cancer were reported.

Only two of the heavy drinkers, or 1%, died of alcohol-related liver disease, he said.

A multivariate analysis showed that light and moderate drinkers fared better than both non-drinkers and heavy drinkers in terms of all-cause mortality.

Schouten said previous studies have showed similar patterns, but they were limited because older people were under-represented.

He added that doctors can use the findings to discuss the major risks among older patients who drink heavily, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, rather than liver disease.

The findings, while not surprising, have some implications for how doctors counsel older patients about their drinking, according to Mack Mitchell, MD, of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who was not part of the study, but who was one of the moderators of the session at which it was presented.

“Many people believe they should not drink alcoholic beverages above a certain age for health reasons,” he told MedPage Today, but the study showed that, “the mortality rate for those drinking in moderation was actually lower.”

So the message should not be to stop drinking but to stop drinking to excess, he said.

You Need to Know About This Product’s

Enfamil Newborn baby formula: Wal-Mart has pulled all 12.5-ounce cans of Enfamil Newborn powder with the lot number ZP1K7G, after a 10-day-old boy in Lebanon, Mo., died from what doctors believe was a rare bacterial infection.

It is not yet known whether the boy contracted the infection from the formula, but Wal-Mart spokeswoman Diana Gee says the company isn’t taking any chances. All cans have been removed from shelves, and refunds or exchanges are available for any consumers who purchased the product prior to the recall.

Formal investigations are pending by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but Enfamil manufacturer Mead Johnson Nutrition says that the batch in question tested negative for any bacteria before it was shipped. Public health officials will retest samples from the same lot and also look for other possible causes of the infection, such as the water used to prepare the formula or anything else the baby may have consumed.

Motrin: Johnson & Johnson has issued a voluntary recall of about 12 million bottles of Motrin pain relievers from stores. The reason? The caplets may not dissolve as quickly when they near their expiration dates, making them less effective — but not necessarily unsafe.

Consumers can continue taking the product as recommended, at no risk to theirhealth, but the company warns that there may be a delay in experiencing relief.

ShoulderFlex massagers: The FDA issued an alert on Wednesday warning that the ShoulderFlex massager, by King International, could cause strangulation — and possibly even death. One woman, Michelle Ferrari-Gegerson, 37, of Florida, was killed by the device last Christmas Eve after her necklace got tangled up in it, and at least one other person was injured in a similar incident.

“The ShoulderFlex massager poses serious risks,” said Steve Silverman, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement. “Consumers should stop using this device, health care providers should not recommend it to their patients, and businesses should stop distributing and selling the device.”

The massager was actually recalled in August, but King International failed to properly alert stores and consumers and subsequently went out of business. Many Web sites still carry the product.

If you or someone you know owns a ShoulderFlex device, discontinue use immediately and dismantle it before throwing it away so no one else can use it and be hurt by it. The FDA recommends removing the massage fingers and power supply and disposing of each part separately.

Evidence Coffee Can Safe Your Heart

Coffee lovers, rejoice. There’s more evidence that your morning mug won’t harm your heart, according to a new study from Sweden.

In the study, researchers found that drinking coffee was not associated with an increased risk of a condition called atrial fibrillation, which is a type of irregular heartbeat, in either men or women.

“This is largest prospective study to date on the association between coffee consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. We find no evidence that high consumption of coffee increases the risk of atrial fibrillation,” Susanna Larsson, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and lead author on the study, said in a statement.

“This is important because it shows that people who like coffee can safely continue to consume it, at least in moderation, without the risk of developing this condition,” Larsson said.

The study comes on the heels of an earlier study from this year, which suggested that coffee may lower the risk of heart attacks.

In the new study, the researchers looked at data from about 42,000 men and nearly 35,000 women who were participating in two long-running studies, the Cohort of Swedish Men and the Swedish Mammography Cohort. In 1997, all the participants filled out questionnaires that asked about their health and diet, including how many cups of coffee they drank daily or weekly. During the 12-year follow-up period, the researchers used the Swedish Hospital Discharge Register to determine which patients developed atrial fibrillation.

The researchers found no association between coffee consumption and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, though they did observe a slight increase in risk when they limited the analysis to men. However, this increase was not statistically significant (meaning it could have been due to chance), the researchers wrote.

“Whether men may be more sensitive to a high coffee or caffeine intake warrants further study,” the researchers wrote in their article, published today (Sept. 22) in the journal BioMed Central.

The researchers also did a meta-analysis, looking at six other studies on atrial fibrillation and coffee intake, which confirmed their results.

The researchers cautioned that although coffee does not appear to increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, it may increase risk for other types of irregular heartbeats.