George W Citroner

Copywriter, Writer

Journalist and Medical Writer. As seen in: Fox News, Salon, Medscape, Healthline, and Cancer Therapy Advisor

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Article, Blog Post, Interview, Whitepaper
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CUNY Hunter College, BSc
New York, NY, USA|English

Medical/Health Journalism

Excessive Daytime Napping May Be a Sign of Alzheimer’s Disease

While an occasional nap can help us get through the day, excessive daytime sleepiness could be a sign of increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. That’s according to research published today by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). In the study, scientists measured signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain regions associated with promoting wakefulness in 13 deceased individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and compared them to 7 people who didn’t have it. The researchers obtained the data from the UCSF Neurodegenerative Disease Brain Bank. The brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease had a significant buildup of a protein called tau in all the wakefulness-promoting areas they examined. Tau is a protein normally found within nerve cells that helps form structures that move nutrients within nerve cells. Usually tau protein helps keep these structures — called microtubules — stable and strong. But in Alzheimer’s disease, this protein collapses into masses called tangles. When this happens, the microtubules can no longer transport nutrients and other essential substances in nerve cells, leading to cell death. Tau tangles are considered a sign of Alzheimer’s disease development. “In this particular study, we were curious if a specific network within the brain stem and subcortical regions are affected in Alzheimer’s disease. We found that the network, which [promotes] wakefulness, is obliterated in Alzheimer’s disease,” Joseph Oh, the study’s lead author and a staff research associate in the Grinberg Lab Memory and Aging Center at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at UCSF, told Healthline.

August 11th, 2019
Are New Fertility Apps Effective in Preventing, Aiding Pregnancy?

Women commonly rely on gynecologist visits to monitor their reproductive health. But fertility awareness method (FAM) apps are an increasingly popular way to track the monthly changes that a woman is more or less likely to become pregnant. Just how effective are they? And how might sharing this intimate information online affect your privacy? Researchers working with Stanford University in California analyzed 200,000 users of two FAM apps, Sympto and Kindara. Both apps use the symptothermal method to identify periods of fertility during the menstrual cycle with recordings of cervical fluid, body temperature, and other physical symptoms. The study was designed to determine what users voluntarily tracked on these apps and to find out if this information accurately detected and estimated ovulation timing. The researchers concluded the average duration and range of the follicular phase that begins the menstrual cycle and ends at ovulation were larger than previously reported. Their models showed only 24 percent of ovulations occurred at days 14 to 15 of the cycle. However, the data also confirmed that both duration and range of the luteal phase (the latter part of the menstrual cycle) was in line with other studies.

July 21st, 2019
Waiting for CAR-T

While chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell (CAR-T) therapies targeting the CD19 antigen have produced durable remissions, potentially severe toxicities, such as cytokine release syndrome and immune effector cell neurotoxicity syndrome, may limit their use. But, these severe reactions are often reversible. Perhaps less discussed is what can happen when a patient is “waiting for CAR-T,” or during the period in which patients wait for their cells to be processed and engineered into adoptive cell therapies. This bridging period, as it is known, can leave patients extremely vulnerable. “There is a 2-4 week period of cell processing and manufacturing and there is always a risk of progression during a time period of no treatment,” said Joshua Mansour, MD, a board-certified hematologist and oncologist in Stanford, California. “In terms of bridging strategy, there are several different approaches that can be taken as one waits for the CAR T cells to be developed,” said Stephanie F. Williams, MD, division chief, adult blood and marrow transplant program, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan, in an interview with Cancer Therapy Advisor. “Many of the patients are refractory to chemotherapy, so different types of agents such as venetoclax or [immounomodulatory drugs] could be helpful. Radiation therapy is another option that can also be used as a bridging therapy.” However, according to a recent retrospective review of adult patients with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (R/R ALL), chemotherapy may not be the best solution. “Use of high- compared to low-intensity bridging was not associated with higher rates of successful CAR T cell infusion (63% vs 79%, P >.05) or a combined end point of CAR T-cell infusion or alternative therapy including transplant (80% vs 86%, P >.05),” the authors wrote in an abstract. They defined bridging therapy as any therapy given from trial enrollment to cell infusion that could be classified as either high intensity (remission-inducing or myelosuppressive regimens, such as hyper-CVAD or high-dose cytarabine-based regimens) or low intensity, such as maintenance or less myelosuppressive regimens, including POMP (purinethol [6-mercaptopurine], oncovin, methotrexate, and prednisone), blinatumomab, and tyrosine kinase inhibitors).

July 18th, 2019
Can a Healthy Lifestyle Reduce Your Dementia Risk Despite Genetics?
July 15th, 2019
People Who Survive Cancer May Be Less Likely to Develop Alzheimer’s

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) confirms that cancer rates in the United States are steadily increasing. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. That number is only expected to grow in the coming years. However, a new study finds that middle-aged people who survive cancer may be at a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline later on. This study builds on previous research that also found an association between surviving cancer and reduced Alzheimer’s risk. “We conducted this research because previous studies found a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people with a previous diagnosis of cancer,” Dr. Monica Ospina-Romero, a master student in training in clinical research at the University of California San Francisco and lead study author, told Healthline. “With our study, we wanted to evaluate if adults with new cancer had a more favorable memory performance before and after diagnosis when we compare them with adults who were never diagnosed with cancer,” she added. This study included almost 15,000 people born before 1949 with no history of cancer from the Health and Retirement Study. Participants had their memory tested twice yearly for up to 16 years — from 1998 to 2014. During the study period, 2,250 received a cancer diagnosis versus 12,333 who didn’t. The researchers discovered that, on average, those who received a cancer diagnosis performed better at memory tasks than those who were cancer-free. Romero said the study findings were surprising. “The inverse association between cancer and Alzheimer’s disease is very intriguing,” she said. “We were very excited when we found that this evidence was reproduced with a totally different approach and that cancer patients had better memory function even before the diagnosis.” “This supports the hypothesis of a common causal factor between carcinogenesis and neurodegeneration,” she explained.

June 23rd, 2019
Vitamin D Won’t Lower Risk of a Heart Attack, But There Are Still Reasons to Take It

The benefits of regular vitamin D consumption has received a lot of attention in recent years. Among the health improvements associated with this nutrient are better bone development and a stronger immune function. But new research has concluded that a lower risk of heart disease isn’t among the vitamin’s many benefits. The analysis of previous studies states that vitamin D doesn’t help prevent cardiovascular disease. However, experts who spoke to Healthline emphasize the vitamin is still an essential part of a healthy diet. Vitamin D provides a broad range of benefits including building healthy bones, regulating sugar metabolism, and maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system. Due to many recent studies that found vitamin D supplementation doesn’t affect heart health, researchers at Michigan State University decided to combine the results of 21 randomized clinical trials with a total of 83,000 participants to find if there really isn’t any cardiovascular benefit. This type of study is called a meta-analysis, a research method that can provide a more precise estimate of the effect of a treatment or risk factor for disease than any individual study. “The use of vitamin D supplements has been increased substantially in the last few years in the United States and there was a belief that it could have some cardiovascular benefit. Multiple randomized trials have been published recently about vitamin D and cardiovascular disease,” Mahmoud Barbarawi, MD, a clinical instructor at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine and lead study author, told Healthline. “This is why we decided to conduct a meta-analysis with enough power to clarify if vitamin D does or does not have a protective effect on cardiovascular health,” he added. Dr. Barbarawi said that while vitamin D has been found ineffective as a potential strategy to prevent cardiovascular diseases by other researchers, the results of that research had too many variables. “This meta-analysis is very important to provide the most recent information about any cardiovascular benefit vitamin D may have,” he said. After analyzing the data from previous studies, the research team’s results “showed no cardiovascular and mortality benefit of vitamin D that contradict the general prevalent concept from previous research,” Barbarawi said.

June 19th, 2019
Medicaid Expansion Tied to Lower Rates of Child Neglect, but Not Abuse

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is associated with a significant reduction in rates of child neglect, new research shows. Investigators from the Seattle Children's Research Institute in Washington found significantly lower rates of child neglect in the 31 states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 compared with the 19 states that did not opt for Medicaid expansion. "This study suggests an association between the ACA Medicaid expansion and reductions in the rate of screened-in reports made to CPS [Child Protective Services] for concerns of neglect in children younger than 6 years," write Emily C. B. Brown, MD, and colleagues. The study was published online June 14 in JAMA Network Open. Reducing Maltreatment Risk Based on CPS data, estimates suggest approximately 5% of all children in the US are victims of physical abuse or neglect. Previous research shows that ACA Medicaid expansion is associated with improved parental financial stability and greater access to mental health services — both important risk factors for child maltreatment. "Because mental health issues and poverty are risk factors for child physical abuse and neglect, we wanted to see whether the Medicaid expansion was associated with changes in the rate of reports to Child Protective Services for abuse and neglect," Brown told Medscape Medical News. "The fact that some states chose not to expand Medicaid meant that we could compare those states to the ones that did expand," she added. For the study, the investigators compared pre- and post-Medicaid expansion state-level rates of child physical abuse and neglect from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems (NCANDS) from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2016.

June 19th, 2019
Why You Probably Shouldn’t Give Antacids to Infants

An infant’s pain or distress can be heartbreaking to watch for some new parents. We instinctively want to make them better as quickly as possible. But sometimes the easiest solution comes with unintended consequences. A new study published this month in the journal Pediatrics concludes that infants who are given antacids in their first year of life have a significantly higher risk for bone fractures as they get older. Infant reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux (GER), is when stomach acid flows back into the tube connecting a baby’s mouth and stomach. It’s one reason why babies spit up. This condition is rarely serious. It happens less frequently as baby gets older, typically resolving by 18 months. “Infant reflux is common and normal in young infants and is frequently implicated as a cause of fussiness by parents and providers,” Elizabeth Hisle-Gorman, PhD, the study’s corresponding author and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, told Healthline. “While acid suppression in infants may be appropriate in certain cases of gastroesophageal reflux disease, there’s a growing body of evidence that acid-suppression medication use in infants is not only ineffective but may be associated with adverse effects that include an increased risk of infections,” Hisle-Gorman said. According to Hisle-Gorman, her study adds to the evidence against antacid use for infants “by finding that there also may be adverse effects on bone health, leading to an increased risk for fracture.”

June 12th, 2019
Osteopenia: Bone disease striking men 35 to 50 years old

Osteoporosis typically affects seniors, placing them at much greater risk of fractures. But there’s another condition called osteopenia, which can happen at virtually any age. Traditionally considered a woman’s disease, men can get it, too. In fact, a new study has revealed that more middle-aged men than women may have osteopenia, a condition that causes weakened bones that can eventually lead to osteoporosis.

June 9th, 2019
Warfarin and Vitamin K: How to Find the Right Balance

Patients taking blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin are told by doctors to reduce their intake of vitamin K because it’s believed too much of this vitamin can decrease the drug’s effectiveness. This is due to the belief that the vitamin interacts with the body’s clotting process and can interfere with the drug’s blood-thinning properties. But what if this advice is wrong? According to a new clinical trial, people taking these drugs should actually be told to increase the amount of vitamin K they consume. This clinical trial is the first randomized controlled trial testing how people taking warfarin responded to dietary changes aimed at increasing vitamin K intake. The study included nearly 50 patients with a history of anticoagulation instability, which is an inability to maintain healthy levels of blood clotting. Half of the participants were provided dietary counseling sessions and cooking lessons that offered general nutritional advice. The rest attended counseling sessions and received cooking lessons that focused specifically on increasing consumption of vitamin K–rich vegetables, oils, and herbs. “Green and leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and lettuce are rich in vitamin K. Also, foods such as kiwi, asparagus and soybeans are good sources of vitamin K,” Dr. Brandie Williams, FACC, a cardiologist at Texas Health Stephenville, told Healthline.

June 10th, 2019
90 Percent of People with Heart Failure Don’t Make Lifestyle Changes

Heart failure affects almost 6 million people in the United States. Half will die within five years of diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Failing to make lifestyle changes or take prescribed medications can contribute to worsening symptoms and raises the risk of hospitalization. However, less than 10 percent of those affected will follow their doctor’s recommendations to improve the condition, according to a new study. The researchers found being lonely may be the biggest reason why. “We suspected that adherence to lifestyle recommendations would be low, but we didn’t think we’d find that only seven percent of patients followed all of them,” Natalia Świątoniowska, a study author and researcher in the department of clinical nursing at Wroclaw Medical University in Poland, told Healthline. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in late May. The findings haven’t been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal.

June 2nd, 2019
Brain Changes May Occur 30 Years Before Alzheimer’s Symptoms Appear

Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease and typically diagnosed only after symptoms appear, when there’s little that can be done. But, what if doctors could identify those most at risk — decades before they start losing memories? Scientists at Johns Hopkins say they’ve identified brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s that can occur decades before the disease’s first symptoms show. The researchers reviewed medical records of 290 people 40 years and older with a family history of the disease from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland in an effort to discover predictors of cognitive decline. “They were all selected based on risk, but none had Alzheimer’s yet, and only some had developed the disease since 1995. This allowed us to look at people over 20 or 30 years before they present clinical symptoms,” Michael Miller, PhD, a study researcher, director of the Center for Imaging Science, and co-director of the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute at Johns Hopkins, told Healthline. By the end of the study period, 81 participants had mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Looking back on their records, researchers found significant differences from the study participants who still had healthy mental function. This included subtle changes in test scores measuring their mental abilities taken up to 15 years before. When researchers looked at cerebrospinal fluid levels, they said they found a substance linked to Alzheimer’s called tau proteins had significantly increased in a process that started almost 35 years before symptoms developed. In earlier research by Miller and his team, slight changes were also observed in the brain area responsible for memory almost 10 years before cognitive problems became apparent. “Our study suggests it may be possible to use brain imaging and spinal fluid analysis to assess risk of Alzheimer’s disease at least 10 years or more before the most common symptoms, such as mild cognitive impairment, occur,” Laurent Younes, PhD, a study author, professor, and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering, said in a statement. Currently, Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis relies mostly on observed mental decline through a series of cognitive tests. But by this point, Miller said, there’s already severe brain damage. “The findings were very surprising. Initially we didn’t know if we’d really be able to measure the structural and functional changes that would have been occurring years before symptoms were apparent,” said Miller. He explained that by the time some of the study participants were diagnosed with cognitive impairment, the changes in brain structure compared to measurements taken years before were striking. The researchers believe these biomarkers — something that can be measured to indicate the presence of disease — offer one of the most promising paths to early detection. When it comes to Alzheimer’s diagnosis and living with the disease, time is of the essence. “Early diagnosis allows a patient the opportunity to take part in clinical trials, have important discussions with their families around their future, consider financial planning and also understand what’s going to happen, what’s going to change, and actively participate in their care planning,” Heather M. Snyder, PhD, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, told Healthline. She added the earlier diagnosis can even help with drug trials. “You have to look well before there are clinical symptoms, years before. This has a very strong impact on the design of drug trials and perhaps is why some drug trials may have historically failed,” said Miller. “It may be that if you look too late in the progression of the disease, you’re looking at a very different phenomenon than if you looked earlier when things are still really working in the brain.” “Maybe some of the drugs that have been shown effective could perhaps be even more effective if researchers looked much earlier in the course of this disease,” he added. When it comes to Alzheimer’s risk, one of the most prominent factors is family history. “In terms of what the science tells us, there are hints that we see regarding what may increase an individual’s risk,” said Snyder. “One is first-degree relatives like a parent or a sibling that had Alzheimer’s. This carries a significantly increased risk.”

May 26th, 2019
The End of the Road for Lead Screening?

Five years ago, the residents of Flint, Michigan, saw a startling change in their drinking water. It had turned brown, foul-smelling, and bad-tasting. Eventually we learned why. To save money, the city's water supply was switched to the highly corrosive Flint River, exposing the population (including 9000 children) to lead-contaminated drinking water for a year and a half. This wake-up call refocused the nation's attention on the problem of lead toxicity. Speculation that Flint was only the tip of the iceberg and that water supplies delivered through ancient pipes across the country could be similarly tainted prompted new questions about lead screening, particularly for young children and pregnant women. Lead screening seeks to identify children with the heaviest exposure to this neurotoxin. Recent efforts to reduce lead exposure (deleading gasoline and paint, reducing lead in food, and educating the public about the hazards of lead) have been successful, yet lead remains a significant environmental hazard. Children in at least 4 million US households are exposed to unsafe levels of lead, and roughly a half million of those aged 1-5 years have blood lead concentrations higher than 5 µg/dL, the level now deemed to require public health intervention. Lead Screening, Prevention, and Treatment Against this backdrop, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its 2006 guidance on routine lead screening, examining current evidence on the benefits and harms of screening for and treating elevated blood lead levels among children and pregnant women. An elevated blood lead level serves as a prompt for clinical monitoring, prevention, and treatment.[1] Historically, two methods have been used to identify those with elevated blood lead levels: screening questionnaires and blood lead testing. The USPSTF found that traditional screening questionnaires and clinical tools fail to predict which asymptomatic children (aged 1-5 years) or pregnant women have elevated blood lead levels. Direct testing of the concentration of lead in the blood, however, accurately identifies those who have been exposed to lead. Capillary blood is the preferred medium for this (although it is associated with more false-positive results), and venous blood is used to confirm high capillary blood lead levels. The USPSTF also reviewed studies on the prevention of lead exposure (counseling and nutritional interventions) and on chelation treatment to lower high blood lead concentrations. The evidence was inadequate to show any short-term benefits (eg, reduction in blood lead levels) or long-term benefits (eg, improved health outcomes) of these interventions. The bottom line: The USPSTF could not determine the balance of benefits and harms of lead screening among asymptomatic pregnant women and children younger than age 5 years. How Much Lead Is Too Much? Joseph F. Hagan, Jr, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, often tries to stump his students by asking them to define a normal blood lead level. "They always fall for it and say under 5 μg/dL. I tell them that a normal lead level is actually zero; you shouldn't have any lead, which offers no physiologic benefit and can be harmful." He remembers that early in his medical career, a blood lead level below 25 μg/dL was considered acceptable. In subsequent years, this threshold was lowered to 10 μg/dL and then to the current level of 5 μg/dL.

May 21st, 2019
Online DIY Sunscreen Formulas Can Be Unhealthy for You and Your Kids

Should you trust all the medical advice you read on the internet? In fact, the “cures” you find may cause more harm than good. A quick Pinterest search for do-it-yourself (DIY) sunscreen reveals thousands of recipes, most of which have no scientific evidence to back their claims. A new study finds people who use these sunscreen recipes could be putting their lives at risk. Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and lead author of the study, said her team investigated how homemade sunscreens were portrayed on Pinterest. She said they found that about 95 percent of DIY sunscreens were positively promoted for their effectiveness, but almost 70 percent recommended “a recipe for sunscreen offering insufficient UV radiation protection.”

May 20th, 2019
'Unprecedented' Rise in Suicide Rates Among Young Girls

Suicide rates have increased among all youth, but there has been a particularly sharp rise among young females, new research shows. A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that the suicide rate among girls aged 10 to 14 years tripled from 1999 through 2014. Although males traditionally take their own lives at much higher rates, researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, found that this gender gap is narrowing. "Based on recent mortality data showing an increase in female youth suicide rates, we investigated trends among US youth aged between 10 and 19 to better understand if the traditional gap between male and female youth suicide rates is decreasing," lead study author Donna Ruch, PhD, postdoctoral scientist at the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research, the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, told Medscape Medical News

May 17th, 2019
How you can get lung cancer, even if you don't smoke

You don’t have to smoke to get lung cancer. In fact, as many as 20 percent of people with lung cancer have never smoked. And many of those people are diagnosed with the disease when it’s at a stage where it’s incurable. Cancer experts have set off some alarm bells after publishing a report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that states an increasing number of non-smokers are being diagnosed with lung cancer. MOM FITTED WITH PACEMAKER AT 32 SAYS SHE DRANK 6 ENERGY DRINKS A DAY The researchers reviewed a 30-year follow-up study of 1.2 million participants in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II. In it they found cases of lung cancer in nonsmokers were on the rise.

May 11th, 2019
Psoriasis Treatment Dilemma: Biologic Drugs Are Effective but Expensive

New targeted drugs may be safer than conventional treatments to treat the skin condition psoriasis, a new study concludes. However, researchers note these biologic drugs are more expensive to use. That fact may cause consumers to wonder whether the benefits of them are worth the cost. These biologics work by inhibiting an overactive immune response that causes the disease’s symptoms. The drugs are effective in clearing skin rashes and other conditions caused by psoriasis. In this study, researchers compared the risk of serious infection, a potential side effect due to the immune-altering effects of the new drugs, against seven other medications. “There is a good amount of data published on the comparative effectiveness of systemic treatments for moderate to severe psoriasis but very little on comparative safety,” Dr. Erica D. Dommasch, MPH, the study’s lead author and a dermatologist in the department of dermatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts, told Healthline.

May 13th, 2019
Yes, Sunscreen Chemicals Get Absorbed Into Your Blood: Is That a Health Risk?

The most common cancer in the United States is skin cancer and sunscreen is the most effective way to prevent getting it. However, recent research found that some ingredients from those sun-protecting lotions are being absorbed into your body. Is this a risk to your health?

May 6th, 2019
New Version of Blood Test Can Predict Heart Attacks, Strokes Years Before Symptoms

Blood tests are widely used to help doctors diagnose heart attacks after a patient experiences symptoms. Now researchers recently found a more sensitive version of one test that may predict the chances for heart attack or stroke years in advance of any signs of cardiovascular disease. It’s called the high-sensitivity troponin I test. The blood test was examined as part of an Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study designed to investigate the causes and clinical outcomes of atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries. More than 15,000 middle-aged men and women were enrolled from four communities in the United States. The research team, using data from this study, concluded that the troponin I test could help predict the onset of cardiovascular issues in healthy middle-aged or older adults. The researchers examined a group of 8,121 people between 54 and 74 years old from the ARIC study who had no history of cardiovascular disease. Troponin levels were detected in almost 90 percent of them.

May 5th, 2019
How You Can Get Lung Cancer Even If You Don't Smoke

You don’t have to smoke to get lung cancer. In fact, as many as 20 percent of people with lung cancer have never smoked. And many of those people are diagnosed with the disease when it’s at a stage where it’s incurable. Cancer experts have set off some alarm bells after publishing a report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that states an increasing number of non-smokers are being diagnosed with lung cancer.

April 30th, 2019
A Novel Method for Biomarker Discovery in Clinical Trials

Recent research finds that a new tool in biomarker discovery may be inferred through the analysis of Kaplan-Meier (KM) curves for time-to-event data from clinical trials. Using clinical trial simulations and trial data reanalysis, researchers investigated how survival results from clinical trials could be impacted by previously undiscovered responder subpopulations.

May 1st, 2019
Common Food Additive Could Lead to Obesity, Diabetes

Maybe it’s not how much you eat, but something that’s added to what you eat that’s making you gain weight. Researchers have found that a common food additive increases levels of hormones associated with an increased risk of both obesity and diabetes. “Understanding how ingredients in food affect the body’s metabolism at the molecular and cellular level could help us develop simple but effective measures to tackle the dual epidemics of obesity and diabetes,” Gökhan S. Hotamışlıgil, a study author and a professor of genetics and metabolism and director of the Sabri Ülker Center for Metabolic Research at Harvard T. H. Chan School, said in a statement.

April 28th, 2019
Diabetes Drug Metformin May Help Reverse Serious Heart Condition

A medication taken for type 2 diabetes may also help reverse a potentially life-threatening heart condition. That’s according to recently published research on the commonly prescribed drug metformin. The study, called the MET-REMODEL Trial, suggests that metformin can reduce left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in people who have prediabetes. It’s the first clinical trial to show that metformin can reverse this heart condition. In their study, researchers gave 68 participants with an average age of about 70 either a daily 2,000 mg dose of metformin or a placebo. Changes to the heart were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Weight, body fat, and blood pressure were also tracked throughout the study. Only the metformin group experienced improved LVH symptoms, reduced blood pressure, and significant weight loss, the researchers reported. Lower blood pressure and weight loss are two effective ways to reduce the effects of LVH. Researchers did note that larger trials are needed to confirm the cardio-protective role of metformin.

April 21st, 2019
Why People Don’t See Results Taking Statins for High Cholesterol

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the in the United States. And one of the most effective preventive measures to lower the risk of a CVD event are statins — a class of cholesterol-lowering medications. It’s well established that statins save lives, but a recent study finds that even after two years, half of all people prescribed statins don’t achieve healthy cholesterol levels. Now researchers are exploring the viability of creating individually tailored treatments to help people better meet their cholesterol targets. Elevated cholesterol is one of the most widely acknowledged contributors to CVD. In the United States, roughly of adults have high levels of LDL, the most harmful type. Statin drugs lower cholesterol by blocking a substance needed to make it. They can even help your body reabsorb built-up cholesterol on artery walls, preventing blockages and reducing CVD risk.

April 16th, 2019
Marijuana May Protect the Liver from Alcohol — But Experts Urge Caution

The negative health consequences of misusing alcohol are becoming clearer every day. Regularly exceeding the of one drink for women and two drinks for men is associated with an increased risk for high blood pressure, stroke, and numerous cancers, including liver cancer. Recently, researchers sought to understand the effects of regular alcohol and cannabis use on the liver. While it may not be a good idea to combine intoxicating drugs, recent research finds that using alcohol and cannabis regularly has an unexpected effect on your health. A 2018 study looked at about 320,000 people with a history of both misusing alcohol and using cannabis to discover what effect, if any, using both drugs had on liver health. What they found out was surprising.

April 15th, 2019
How This Virtual Reality Program Can Help People with Parkinson’s

A high-tech tool may be able to help people with Parkinson’s disease improve their balance and reduce their risk of dangerous falls. That’s according to the results of a new study published today. About 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year. Some of them could be helped by virtual reality, a computer-created environment that can be displayed in a visor or special room called a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE). Researchers say they have now developed a novel virtual reality-based training system that allows people living with Parkinson’s disease to improve their balance and muscle control in a safe environment. As they walk on a treadmill, participants practice stepping over virtual objects that appear in the virtual reality environment. Success in one round means the objects become larger in the next.

April 8th, 2019
New FDA Policies on Mammograms: What You Need to Know

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the first policy change in more than 20 years involving mammography services for women. Agency officials are recommending new steps to modernize breast cancer screening and provide patients with more information when they’re making decisions about breast healthcare. “It can be difficult for primary care doctors to be as informed as they should be, but we need to educate them to have meaningful discussions with their patients,” Dr. Michele Carpenter, FACS, breast surgeon and cancer specialist with St. Joseph Hospital in California, told Healthline.

March 31st, 2019
A Cream with Synthetic Vitamin D May Help Reduce Skin Cancer Risk

Almost 10,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). One of every five Americans will experience skin cancer in their lifetime. But, for people who already have precancerous skin lesions, there may soon be a way to reduce their cancer risk. New research reports that a cream combining two drugs can reduce the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) on the face and scalp by nearly 75 percent. The two drugs in the cream are 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a type of topical chemotherapy, and a synthetic form of vitamin D called calcipotriol.

March 24th, 2019
Statins Reduce Cholesterol, So Why Don’t People Take Them?

People with narrow arteries who take statins can cut their risk of heart attack or stroke in half. But new research finds that only 6 percent of these patients are taking the drug as recommended by a doctor. So, researchers set out to determine: If statins are so effective, why are so many people failing to take them? The answers weren’t easy to come by. The recent study included 5,468 people first diagnosed with cardiovascular disease between 1999 and 2013. They all received a statin prescription to reduce cholesterol within the first year of being diagnosed.

March 18th, 2019
FDA Approves Adult Eczema Drug for Use with Children

Relief is on the way for teenagers who have eczema. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved injectable dupilumab (Dupixent) for eczema patients aged 12 to 17 years who don’t respond well enough to topical treatments. The drug, initially approved for adult use in 2017, is self-administered every other week after the first dose is given by a healthcare provider. “For patients with really severe eczema, up to now we didn’t have anything to give them that’s safe for long-term use,” Dr. Emma Guttman, vice chair of the Department of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York whose research and clinical trials helped lead to FDA-approval, told Healthline.

March 13th, 2019
Who Will Benefit From Eli Lilly’s New, Cheaper Insulin

For people in the United States living with diabetes, the cost of the medicine they need to survive continues to go skyward. Eli Lilly has brought them a little hope, offering a half-price generic version of their insulin brand. However, they might be asking if this less expensive insulin is as good as the brand-name version and who exactly will benefit from it. Eli Lilly executives announced early this week that a generic version of their insulin injection Humalog will be made available at half the brand-name price.

March 7th, 2019
How prostate cancer becomes resistant to treatment

A new study released today from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, California, details how prostate cancer can be transformed into an aggressive and incurable disease — by the treatment that’s supposed to save lives. Hormones called androgens stimulate prostate cancer cells to grow. Newly developed anti-androgen therapies for prostate cancer are a major advance in the fight against this disease.

March 8th, 2019
Confronting Transphobia in Healthcare

Patients are often anxious when seeking medical care. Could my symptoms be serious? Do I need a second opinion? How much is this going to cost? Compounding these worries, transgender and gender-diverse patients experience a unique type of anxiety: the fear of gender-related discrimination. These patients can be misgendered or unintentionally "outed," or they may find themselves having to educate their providers about their healthcare needs.

March 8th, 2019
Hip Fracture May Be an Early Sign of Alzheimer’s Development

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore examined spinal fluid in 168 patients hospitalized to repair hip fractures. The patients ranged in age from 65 to 102 and almost 80 percent were women. Spinal fluid was collected before hip surgery and participants also completed two routine tests used to determine mental state, memory, and thinking ability. The tests were the Mini-Mental State Exam and the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly. Only four of the patients showed signs of moderate dementia while 81 patients demonstrated mild cognitive impairment. Another 70 showed no cognitive problems at all. These are the patients the researchers focused on.

March 4th, 2019
How Prostate Cancer Becomes Resistant to Treatment

It’s the second most diagnosed cancer in men, just behind skin cancer. It’s typically slow growing and there are life-saving treatments available. But, sometimes the cure can make more deadly. A new study released today from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, California, details how prostate cancer can be transformed into an aggressive and incurable disease — by the treatment that’s supposed to save lives. Hormones called androgens stimulate prostate cancer cells to grow. Newly developed anti-androgen therapies for prostate cancer are a major advance in the fight against this disease. Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are the main androgens in men. Lowering androgen levels or stopping them from getting into prostate cancer cells can make those cells shrink or grow more slowly. However, men who receive these new treatments are also more likely to develop a deadly, treatment-resistant cancer called neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC). There are no effective treatments for this type of cancer.

February 27th, 2019
Partner's Pornography Habits May Worsen Women's Eating Disorders

Eating disorders (EDs) in women may worsen if their significant other regularly watches pornography, new research shows. A study led by investigators from Ohio State University is the first to look at how a partner's porn viewing habits may be associated with the likelihood that a woman will experience guilt about eating, as well as her preoccupation with body fat, binging, or purging.

January 9th, 2019
Excessive Screen Time for Kids Can Cause Developmental Delays

It may be the easiest way to calm restless or misbehaving kids, but handing over a phone or tablet could be doing children long-term harm.

February 8th, 2019
Parental Warning: Harmful Chemicals in Vinyl Floors, Furniture

When considering the dangers some chemicals can present to children’s health, we’re usually concerned with pesticides and air pollution. But what do we do when the danger is part of our homes?

February 19th, 2019
FDA Warns 17 Companies About Selling Alzheimer’s “Cures” Online

Alzheimer’s disease is reaching epidemic proportions, with more than 5 million people in the United States now living with the condition. Federal officials say some supplement companies are capitalizing on the fear and uncertainty about Alzheimer’s disease to promote unproven and possibly unsafe solutions. So the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking action. The products identified by the FDA range from “safe” substances such as vitamin C and fish oil to potentially life-threatening substances such as mineral, herbal, and chemical mixes.

February 13th, 2019
Here's Why Certain Kids Repeatedly Get Strep Throat

Watching your child suffer from a bad case of strep throat is heart-wrenching, but it’s a nightmare when the infection occurs over and over. There are many theories why some kids get strep throat repeatedly and lots of advice on how to prevent it. But according to a recent study, this could be something that can’t be controlled.

February 6th, 2019
Compounded Pain Creams No Better Than Placebo

Compounded pain creams are no more efficacious for treating localized pain than placebo, which brings into question the high cost of these products, a new study says. Results of a double-blind, randomized controlled trial showed there were no differences in the mean reduction in average pain scores between treatment and control groups for patients with neuropathic pain, nociceptive pain, or mixed localized chronic pain.

February 4th, 2019
Recalls Causing Shortages of Blood Pressure Drugs: What You Can Do

We trust drug companies to provide us with safe medicines. Now, we’re finding out what happens when things go wrong. Since last July, we’ve seen medications for high blood pressure pulled from pharmacy shelves because of potential contamination from a cancer-causing agent.

January 30th, 2019
Excessive Screen Time for Kids Can Cause Developmental Delays by Kindergarten

It may be the easiest way to calm restless or misbehaving kids, but is handing over a phone or tablet doing children long-term harm? Although the occasional cartoon or video game may not be a problem, a new study finds too much screen time can seriously affect children’s long-term development. Children are growing up with unprecedented access to electronic devices. Starting as toddlers, many kids now spend part of every day staring at a screen instead of being physically active or interacting with others. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at 2,400 typically developing children in Canada. Researchers found that greater amounts of screen time from ages 2 to 3 were associated with significantly poorer performance when their development was assessed at ages 3 and 5.

January 27th, 2019
Could This Be Behind the Early Puberty Trend in Girls?

During the past couple of decades, the age of puberty onset in US girls has been declining.[1] Although environmental causes have been suspected, the reasons for earlier puberty have been somewhat of a mystery. It is a concern because early puberty can come with significant health risks.[2] Molly Regelmann, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, New York, said "Early menarche, the first menstrual period, is associated with higher rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and certain cancers, such as breast cancer, later in life." Regelmann, who was not associated with this study, added "The normal range for the start of puberty in girls is between 8 and 13 years."

January 28th, 2019
Is Aspirin the Best Medication for Heart Health? Some Experts Aren’t So Sure

New research finds that while aspirin does lower the risk of heart attack or stroke, it may also increase the risk of potentially dangerous bleeding. Researchers from Imperial College and King’s College in the United Kingdom analyzed 13 clinical trials involving more than 164,000 participants without cardiovascular disease between the ages of 53 and 74.

January 21st, 2019
7 Simple Ways You Can Lower Your Risk of Diabetes

There are seven lifestyle choices we can make that will reduce our risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And a new study finds that following as few as four of them can also help prevent diabetes. According to new research from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, adults who followed at least 4 of the 7 AHA guidelines were 70 percent less likely to develop diabetes over 10 years.

January 16th, 2019
One-Time Cannabis Use May Alter Teen Brains

Using marijuana even once or twice can significantly alter the grey matter volume (GMV) in several parts of the developing brains of teens, new research suggests. After analyzing data from a large research program assessing adolescent brain development and mental health, investigators found that brain regions rich in cannabinoid receptors are significantly affected in teens who reported very little cannabis use.

January 14th, 2019
Risk of Alzheimer’s May Be Higher in Older Adults With Sleep Problems

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say that older people who spend less time in slow-wave sleep — the sleep phase you need to wake up feeling rested — show increased levels of a brain protein called tau that’s associated with Alzheimer’s disease. “Our project is the first to show an association between slow-wave sleep and tau in very early Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Brendan Lucey, an assistant professor of neurology, director of the Washington University Sleep Medicine Center, and lead author of the study.

January 13th, 2019
Antibiotic Ointment May Reduce Staph Infections for Newborn Infants

Newborns are vulnerable to all types of infections, and some are life-threatening. Researchers now say they may have come up with a simple solution that can significantly reduce the risk.

January 7th, 2019
The Year's Don't-Miss News in Contraception

From a controversial implant recently pulled from the US market to new rules that will limit access to contraceptives previously ensured by the Affordable Care Act, 2018 brought major developments in contraception. Essure is two small metal coils designed to cause sterilization. Once inserted into the fallopian tubes, which carry eggs to the uterus, scar tissue forms around the coils, blocking sperm from reaching the eggs.

December 27th, 2018
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