Archive for July, 2009
July 29th, 2009 by Nina Thompson, ARNP
A low-carbohydrate diet may help improve skin condition in people with acne, according to a recent study from the University of Miami.
In a large survey, more than 80% of those adhering to the South Beach Diet reported noticeable improvement in acne within three months of starting the new diet. And among survey participants taking acne medication, 91% said they decreased the dose of medication or the amount of acne treatment after starting the diet.
Although many dermatologists believe that diet and acne are unrelated, recent evidence suggests that diet-induced hyperinsulinemia (an excess amount of insulin is released in the bloodstream in response to a high carbohydrate meal) triggers an endocrine response that simultaneously triggers unregulated epithelial growth and keratinization as well as androgen-mediated sebum secretion.
Source: Rouhani P, et al “Acne improves with a popular, low glycemic diet from South Beach” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009; 60(suppl): Abstract P706.
Source: “AAD: Low-Carb Diet Touted as Possible Acne Aid”, MedPage Today, March 13, 2009
July 24th, 2009 by Nina Thompson, ARNP
Readily available on the internet and shopping malls, electronic cigarettes are marketed to teens and touted as a healthy substitute for cigarettes. E-cigarettes, which are often made to look like real cigarettes, are far from healthy.
The FDA has recently analyzed the ingredients in a small sample of cartridges from two leading brands of e-cigarettes. A chemical used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans was found, as well as other known carcinogens, such as nitrosamines, were detected.
These products have never been submitted to the FDA for evaluation or approval, so at this time the agency has no way of knowing, except for the limited testing it has performed, the various levels of nicotine or the different amounts or kinds of other chemicals that these products deliver to the user. In fact, little is known about the devices.
The devices, known as e-cigarettes, are battery operated and contain nicotine, flavors, and other chemicals that are converted into a vapor that the user inhales. Flavors such as chocolate, cola and bubble gum provide a youthful appeal. Manufacturers provide no health warning on the product and claim that they are a safe alternative to cigarettes because they do not burn tobacco.
The FDA said it has been examining and detaining shipments of e-cigarettes at the borders since Summer 2008, and is currently involved in a lawsuit challenging its jurisdiction over certain e-cigarettes.
Source: “E-Cigarettes Subject of FDA Warning”, MedPage Today, July 23, 2009
July 22nd, 2009 by Nina Thompson, ARNP
A new investigational weight loss drug, Contrave, is a combination of antidepressant bupropion and addiction treatment naltrexone. Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is a popular drug used for depression and smoking cessation (Zyban). Naltrexone (Vivitrol) is used to fight alcoholism and opiate addiction. Both are well known drugs that successfully target behavior and reward pathways in the brain.
Contrave works by decreasing food cravings and helping patients better control their eating. Patients who took this obesity drug lost significantly more weight than those on placebo and was also found to decrease waist circumference, reduce blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes, and improve levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
The manufacturer, Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., plans to seek FDA approval for Contrave in early 2010.
Source: “Orexigen obesity drug meets goals in 3 studies”, Google/AP July 21, 2009
July 21st, 2009 by Nina Thompson, ARNP
Curcumin, a polyphenol found in the Indian spice turmeric, and Vitamin D3 may help the immune system eliminate hamful plaques from the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers from UCLA, UC Riverside and the Human BioMolecular Research Institute. Their recent study found that both vitamin D3 and curcumin helped stimulate macrophages, a critical part of the immune system response, which appears to help decrease the buildup of disease-producing plaques in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric is commonly used in foods such as curry powders, mustards, and cheeses. It is grown as a shrub and is related to ginger. Turmeric is grown throughout India, other parts of Asia, and Africa. The root of turmeric has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to relieve a variety of conditions.
In this study, the researchers found that naturally occurring curcumin was less effective than synthetic curcumin, but they also noted that since this is early laboratory research, no dosage of vitamin D or curcumin can be recommended at this point. Larger vitamin D and curcumin studies with more patients are needed and planned.
A growing body of literature on vitamin D is also shedding light on the importance of this nutrient in the prevention of many chronic diseases. A simple blood test can measure the circulating Vitamin D levels in your blood, and many doctors are now drawing blood levels of Vitamin D to to make sure patients are getting enough. Doctors are finding that deficiences in Vitamin D are common, even in those who get daily sunshine and follow a good diet. Ask your doctor about this.
Read more about Vitamin D from Bay Area Medical Information
Source: Masoumi A, et al “1a,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 interacts with curcuminoids to stimulate amyloid-beta clearance by macrophages of Alzheimer disease patients” J Alzheimer Dis 2009
Source: “Stimulating Immune Response May Help Clear Alzheimer’s Plaques”, MedPage Today, July 2009
July 20th, 2009 by Nina Thompson, ARNP
The new H1N1 swine flu virus is “unstoppable”, according to the World Health Organization, who has given drug makers full authorization to manufacture vaccines against the circulating strain of influenza. Healthcare workers are to be the first to receive the vaccine.
The H1N1 virus appears to attack people differently than seasonal influenza. It tends to affect younger people, the severely obese and often healthy adults.
The elderly seem to have some immunity to this H1N1 swine flu virus which is a very distant cousin of the H1N1 swine flu virus that caused the 1918 pandemic which was the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. People born before 1920 have been found to have the antibodies to the 1918 viral strain.
The H1N1 swine flu virus is also different from the seasonal flu in that it causes disease deep in the lungs and does not infect the nose and throat. It also tends to cause gastrointestinal effects, whereas most seasonal influenza viruses affect the nose and throat, and usually do not cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
Source: Journal of Nature, July 2009
Source: Reuters, July 2009
Source: World Health Organization, July 2009