Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Breast Cancer Vaccine on the Horizon

Women over 40Cleveland Clinic researchers report promising results with the development of a vaccine that may not only treat, but prevent breast cancer. Dr. Vincent Tuohy and his team have worked for the last eight years, testing a potential vaccine for breast cancer.

The single vaccination prevents breast cancer tumors from forming and also stops the growth of existing tumors, according to the researchers.  The drug makes the immune system attack a particular protein found in most breast cancer cells and in the mammary tissues of breastfeeding women.

To date the treatment has only been tested on mice, but these results have been ”overwhelmingly favorable”  according to Dr. Tuohy,  an immunologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, in an article by Fox News.  “If it works in humans the way it works in mice, this will be monumental,” he said.

Clinical trials on women are planned to begin next year, but it may be as long as 10 years before the vaccine is available.

More Information:

SOURCE: “U.S.-Developed Vaccine ‘Could Eliminate’ Breast Cancer”,, June 1, 2010
SOURCE: “Breast cancer vaccine successful in mice” CNN Health, May 31, 2010 

Smoking Linked with Multiple Sclerosis

CigaretteSmoking appears to increase the chances of developing multiple sclerosis in people who already have one of the established risk factors for the disease,  according to a large recent study from Harvard School of Public Health.

The Epstein-Barr virus is known to increase the risk of MS, and in this study, smoking nearly doubled the chances of developing MS in those who also had high antibody levels against Epstein-Barr virus. 

MORE INFORMATION: Smoking Cessation

SOURCE: Simon KC, et al “Combined effects of smoking, anti-EBNA antibodies, and HLA-DRB1*1501 on multiple sclerosis risk” Neurology 2010; 74: 1-1. 

SOURCE: “MS Risk Linked to Smoking and Viral Antibodies”, MedPage Today, April 7, 2010 

Fibromyalgia Associated with Inactivity and Poor Weight Control

Bathroom scalesWomen who are overweight appear to be at higher risk of developing fibromyalgia than those who have a healthy body weight, say Norwegian researchers.  And those who are also sedentary have an even greater risk, according to their recent study published in the May issue of Arthritis Care & Research.


SOURCE: “Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay”, HealthDay News, April 30, 2010

Low-Fat Diets More Successful than Low-Carb

Low-fat diets are more successful that low-carb diets in the long runIn a recent study, obese participants on low-fat diets lost more weight long term than those on a low-carb plan. In fact, those on low-carb diets had gained back nearly all their weight after three years, while those on low-fat diets continued to lose.  

The reason for these findings, the researchers speculated, was that low-carb diets are more difficult to follow long term. They require drastic changes in the way people typically enjoy their food. Eating a sandwhich without the bread, for instance, is very difficult to follow long term. Whereas in low-fat diets, all food groups are allowed with certain important changes, such as switching from mayonnaise to mustard or from whole to skim milk.

Also in the study, rapid weight loss lead to rapid regains.  Those who lost the most in the beginning were more likely to gain the weight back, and those who achieved weight loss by doing it in a slower manner, were more likely to keep it off.

SOURCES: M Vetter, M.D., R.D., medical director, Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; L Sandon, R.D., assistant professor, clinical nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; Annals of Internal Medicine, March 2, 2010,

Source: “Low-Fat Diets Beat Low-Carb Regimen Long Term”, HealthDay, March 1, 2010

FDA Warns Consumers Not to Use Ear Candles

This is a consumer advisory warning from the FDA, released February 20, 2010:

Anatomy of the earEar Candles: Risk of Serious Injuries

FDA is notifying consumers and healthcare providers of its warning not to use ear candles - a hollow cone about 10 inches long made from a fabric tube soaked in beeswax, paraffin or a mixture of the two - because they can cause serious injuries, even when used according to the manufacturer’s directions. According to advertised claims, a burning ear candle draws ear wax and “impurities? or “toxins? out of the ear canal. Other claims for ear candles include relief from sinus and ear infections, headache and earache, as well as improved hearing, “blood purification,? improvements in brain function, and cure cancer. FDA has found no valid scientific evidence to support the safety or effectiveness of these devices for any medical claims or benefits. FDA has received reports of burns, perforated eardrums and blockage of the ear canal which required outpatient surgery from the use of ear candles. 

FDA is especially concerned because some ear candles are being advertised for use in children. Children of any age, including babies, are likely at increased risk for injuries and complications if they are exposed to ear candles. Small children and infants may move during the use of the device, increasing the likelihood of wax burns and ear candle wax plugging up the ear canal. Also, their smaller ear canal size may make children more susceptible than adults to injuries.

Ear candles are sold and promoted in a variety of locations, including health food stores, flea markets, health spas and salons, as well as on commercial web sites. 

Consumers and health care professionals are strongly encouraged to report injury related to the use of ear candles to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

Read the complete MedWatch 2010 Safety summary, including a link to the FDA Advice for Patients, at:

Locate Swine Flu and Seasonal Flu Shots

An office that provides flu shotsA flu vaccine finder service is being provided by Google at, which is designed to locate facilities that offer H1N1 and seasonal flu shots. 

The flu-shot finder service will soon be available at, as well as the website of the American Lung Association. 

Routine Sinus Rinses May Not Be a Good Idea

Normal Saline DropsRinsing sinuses with a saline solution tends to have soothing short-term benefits, removes the bad mucus, and helps treat sinus infections. But a recent study found that chronic rinsing with saline can actually make a person more likely to get infections in the long run by stripping the nose of good mucus needed for immune protection. 

The researcher’s advice is to avoid using nasal saline irrigation on a long-term basis, limiting its use only to when an infection is present. This study is to be presented Sunday in Miami Beach at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Source: “Sinus Rinses May Do More Harm Than Good” Health Day, Yahoo News, November 9, 2009

Don’t Give Cough or Cold Remedies to Children Under Four

Cough syrupParents should always consult their pediatrician before giving any medication to their child, but the labels on cough and cold remedies have historically stated that these medicines should not be given to children under age 2. 

Cough and cold remedies are coming under fresh scrutiny and drug manufacturers have voluntarily decided to change their labels stating that cough and cold medicines should NOT be given to children younger than age 4. Products with the old labels will not be removed immediately from store shelves but will be gradually replaced with newly-labeled products.

A booming, and rapidly growing, multimillion dollar industry, herbal drugs as well as other over-the-counter drugs, line the shelves of grocery stores and pharmacies. People often assume that they are safe if they are sold in their neighborhood grocery store.  This is not necessarily true.  Every year, thousands of children under age 12 end up in emergency rooms after taking over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. Most of these children were unsupervised when they took the medicine.

Read more:

Source: CDC, October 2009

Caffeine: Too Much of a Good Thing?

CoffeeMost of us depend on caffeine to get us through the day, and we especially look forward to that first cup in the morning.  It helps us wake up, and gets us through a long hard day.  But unfortunately the bad side effects of caffeine can be unpleasant and sometimes even harmful. 

Excess caffeine can cause a fast heart rate, palpitations, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, depression,  difficulty sleeping, irritable bladder, excessive urination, stomach irritation, peptic ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), nausea and vomiting.

Caffeine is notorious for interfering with much-needed sleep. Many people get in a viscious cycle of using caffeine to mask their sleep deprivation, but then the excess caffeine keeps them from falling asleep the following night. The best way to break this cycle is to avoid all caffeine eight to ten hours before your desired bedtime. Individual sensitivity to caffeine varies however.  People who are more sensitive to caffeine may need to avoid it 10 to 12 hours before bedtime, while others can drink it 4 hours before falling asleep.

Stretching exerciseSo how does one keep working for long hours, and stay awake and alert until it’s time to go to bed?   Exercise is a great way to wake up–it wakes up your body and your mind.  A brief 5-minute break of floor exercises, once every hour or so, can stretch stiff muscles and keep your mind alert and until it’s time to go to bed. 

Caffeine Content:

An eight ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee contains about 85 mg of caffeine, whereas eight ounces of black tea only has about 45 mg of caffeine and 12 ounces of Coke contains 35 mg of caffeine. Many of the so called Sports/Energy Drinks on the market are loading up on caffeine for that extra jolt and may contain over 150 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine is also present in chocolate and some over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medications, and diet pills. These products can contain as little as 16 milligrams or as much as 200 milligrams of caffeine. 

Caffeine and Alcohol Don’t Mix:

Contrary to the popular belief that coffee will sober you up after drinking too much alcohol, it can actually worsen the problem.  A recent study found that a high caffeine energy drink mixed with vodka actually reduced the participants’ perception of motor coordination compared with vodka alone.  This could obviously lead to disasterous consequences in a person who is drinking heavily away from home and has several cups of coffee to sober up before driving home.

Interactive Tool for the Swine Flu

An elderly man using the InternetAre you wondering if you have the swine flu and need to see a doctor?  Microsoft has recently unveiled an interactive Web site which may help you decide.

Go to . Type in your age and answer questions about your current symptoms and general health.