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Showing posts from March, 2011

Pine Nut Bitter Taste

After practicing medicine for 25 years, I didn't think there was much I hadn't seen or diagnosed.  Was I surprised to learn about a condition called Pine Mouth from a friend who experienced it!  Of course that sent me to the internet where I learned that there truly is a weird food syndrome known as Pine Mouth.  And from the google search, it seems everyone but me knows about it!  In case you don't, here is what I found:

For reasons that are not understood, some people experience a persistent bitter-metallic taste after eating pine nuts (aka: pignoli if you live in Italy).  This taste can last a few days or up to two weeks.  Nothing tastes good because the bitter taste permeates the mouth.  It isn't a "disease", nor does it cause any illness...just an annoying taste.

The medical term for this metallogeusia, "a perceived metallic or bitter taste" and it was reported on in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.  One theory is that some Chinese Red Pine imp…

Doctors Don't Discuss Weight Loss With Patients

Patients are more likely to lose weight when physicians tell them they are overweight and advise weight loss.  Despite this, fewer than half of overweight patients and fewer than 2/3 of obese patients say they have been told by their physicians that they are overweight.  The current obesity epidemic has made higher weights and larger sizes seem more normal.  Patients who don't perceive their weight accurately also don't recognize the health risks, so physician intervention is a key component to encouraging weight loss and lower risk of disease.

Data from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey (which looked at 7,790 patients)  found that overweight and obese patients who were not told by their physicians to lose weight, continued to consider themselves to be of normal weight.  Of the overweight subjects (BMI>25), only 45% reported their physicians told them.  Those that were told by their doctors were much more likely to identify themselves as overwei…

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Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will 
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living, with Margaritas.

Margaritas may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or 
nursing should not use M…

Lifesaving Antibiotics Losing Power Due to Resistant Germs

The single most important medicine ever discovered is the antibiotic.  Prior to 1930, humans died at early ages of simple infections and even childbirth was a major killer of women because of infection.   The mortality rate from simple staph aureus was as high as 80%,  but between 1944 and 1972 the human life expectancy jumped by 8 years because of antibiotics.   By 1950 the golden age of antibiotics was already looking tarnished as organisms became resistant to the drugs.  Now many medical advances that we take for granted, including cancer treatment, surgery, transplantation and neonatal care are endangered by increasing antibiotic resistance and a decline in new medications to combat the super germs.

Drug resistance is both a public health and global security threat. Resistance has emerged for all known antibiotics in use.  For most antibiotics, resistant genes have created super bugs that require more combinations of antibiotics  to treat and there are certain infections that we…

Japanese Hospital Provides Disaster Care

Senen General Hospital was hit hard by the Tsunami in Japan, but it continues to provide care for patients even though there is no electricity or running water.  The hospital is located between a river and the coast and it was flooded on the first floor when the giant tsunami hit the neighborhood. The basement held the boiler, electrical room and other machinery.  The kitchen was ruined and there is no heat in the hospital.

Most of the staff lost their homes and now live in shelters, yet they are working round the clock to keep patients alive.  To combat subfreezing temperatures, the staff pours hot water into plastic juice bottles and tucks them around patients.  The nurses hand feed patients cold meals by the light from windows. The six story hospital lost one wing and the ground floor in the earthquake and flooding.  Patients have been clustered together, buried under mounds of blankets against the cold.

The hospital had about 200 patients when the earthquake hit and many of the pat…

Exercise Helps Knee Osteoarthritis

When we think of osteoarthritis (OA), we think of chronic "wear and tear" on a joint that has just plain worn out.  Many patients with arthritis become less and less active and that is actually the worst thing for an arthritic joint.  A new study published in Arthritis Rheum. looked at the functional performance in 2589 adults with knee OA and found that there was a consistent relationship between physical activity level and better performance in these patients.

Patients with high self reported physical activity and a timed 20 meter walk test had better performance than patients who were not active.  Even a small increase in activity was related to better walking function.  Other studies have shown that active patients who engage in vigorous forms of exercise did not increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee.

We don't know what causes OA.  It is the number one chronic disease and the most common form of arthritis.   OA is characterized by a progressive l…

Radiation From Japan

The week after the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami have had Americans watching the events unfold in horror.  The explosion at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima and the threatened melt down of the reactors created a near panic in some Americans thousands of miles away.  I am not downplaying this event and the potential damage to the reactor core with release of large quantities of radiation is certainly a disaster.  But we need to understand that the risks vary depending upon proximity and exposure and people in the United States are at the very low end of the risk pole.

I was dismayed when U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin endorsed the idea that the public should stock up on potassium iodide as a "precaution".  What was she thinking? 

First of all, the only think that iodine helps prevent is thyroid cancer.  Radiation poisoning affects the entire body's DNA and iodine does nothing to protect us.

Second, the risk of any clouds of radiation reaching the U.S. in amounts …

Blogging Vacation

I'll be away for a few days...taking some of my own advice to heart and exercising and relaxing.  Here is what I'll be doing.  But not quite this well....

Here is who I hope I will see:

For great blog reading, please look to the links on the right.  Lots of interesting blogs and information for you.  See you next week back at EverythingHealth.

Eat More Fiber

Fiber is great for us because it helps with weight control and high fiber diets reduce colorectal cancer.  The American Cancer Association recommends 25 grams of fiber a day for women and 38 grams a day for men.  That is about 3 1/2 to 5 cups of vegetables and fruit a day.  So if you are eating your recommended 5 cups a day you are in good shape.  Keep it up.

If you struggle with getting enough fiber,  here are some suggestions for healthy quick snacks that will increase your fiber intake.  Put these on your shopping list and keep them handy in your pantry for a quick grab:

1 and 1/8 cup edamame in the pods: 9 grams of fiberOne medium-sized pear, apple, orange or banana: 3 grams of fiber1/2 cup of cooked black beans: 8 grams of fiber1/4 cup of hummus: 4 grams of fiber1 cup bran flakes: 7 grams of fiber1 oz. slice whole wheat bread: 2 grams of fiberMedium baked potato with skin: 4 grams of fiber1/2 cup of oatmeal: 2 grams of fiber6 whole wheat crackers: 3 grams of fiber
Compliments of M…

Blogosphere Grand Rounds

Head on over to Dr. Pullen's blog for the best of Grand Rounds on the Blogosphere.  There are so many good medical writers.  My current favorite is the wonderful Grady Doc.  Read her every day and be uplifted with wonderful writing and stories.  We should all be so talented!

Higher Risk of Death For Women With Heart Attack

Several studies have shown that women have a higher mortality rate than men if they have a heart attack.  A study published in the American Heart Journal  helps to explain why.  The researchers looked at data from 2,542 women who had a heart attack.  Compared to men, the women were older, less likely to be white and less likely to smoke.  They also had more serious health conditions than the men.  They had diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and COPD.

We have known for a long time that women are about 10 years older than men at the time of their first heart attack.  The authors believe that the reason women are more likely to die is because of these other conditions that are present. Women in the study were also more likely to receive a transfusion and experience gastrointestinal bleeding, strokes and vascular complications which lead to death.

They did not find any gender difference when they controlled for these other conditions.  The number of diseased vessels were the…

Charlie Sheen is Sick

Charlie Sheen is sick and not in a good way.  After a media blitz over the past few weeks, I finally saw one of his many interviews on ABC  and it was immediately obvious that he is in the throws of a major psychiatric condition.  He talks at length about his drug use and super-human ability to control drugs, which is a common denial we see in drug addicted people.  But beyond that, he is showing classic symptoms of the manic phase of a bi-polar illness.

Mania in a bipolar disorder is a hallmark cluster of symptoms and it can quickly spiral out of control as shown by Mr. Sheen.  In this disease patients experience increased energy, restlessness and constant activities that keep them going from place to place. (Notice how he has suddenly appeared on talk shows, events, even showing up at UCLA to give a pep talk to the baseball team).

Other symptoms are rapid, pressured speech that is peppered with grouping words based on their sounds and rhyming without much logic in pairing the words.…

Guys React to Vasectomy

Essure has an effective way to market their new permanent birth control device.  Make a humorous video that shows how some men view vasectomy and leave it to the women. 

Previously there were only two methods for voluntary permanent sterilization...a male vasectomy or female tubal ligation.  Of the two, vasectomy is the cheapest and safest.
(Fatalities per 100,000 tubal ligation - 3.51  cost $2,500     Fatalities vasectomy - 0    cost $750-850)

Essure is a newer technique of inserting coils in the fallopian tubes without surgery to block them and create permanent, non-reversible birth control.

This creative marketing campaign is aimed at women.  Not much has changed when it comes to who takes the ultimate responsibility for contraception.  It has always been the woman.   Essure is one more tool for us to consider.

Serena Williams Has Serious Lung Blood Clot

Serena Williams is one of my tennis heroes and is also one of the strongest women athletes in the world.  At age 29 she has won 13 Grand Slam tennis titles.  It was a surprise to the tennis world to learn that she was hospitalized in Los Angeles with a pulmonary embolism (PE); a serious blood clot in the lungs.  These blood clots do not form in the lung. They start in veins elsewhere in the body, usually the legs or pelvis and break off and travel to the lung vessels where they obstruct blood flow.  A pulmonary embolism is often a life-threatening event and is always very serious.  Thirty percent of people with a PE die immediately without treatment.

Although it is speculation, I can try to piece the scenario together of how Serena Williams was afflicted with a PE.  She cut her foot on glass last July after winning Wimbledon and has not been in a tournament since then.  She underwent an operation in October and possibly a 2nd surgery since then.  She had a protective boot removed and …

Potassium Increase Cuts Stroke by 20%

There are few medical conditions that people fear more than a stroke.  We know that blood pressure control and lowering cholesterol levels reduces stroke risk.  Now, thanks to a huge analysis from Italy, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, we know that higher dietary consumption of potassium is associated with lower rates of stroke and could also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and total cardiovascular disease too.  What is even more remarkable is that the results apply to all parts of society and not just to specific "at-risk" subgroups.

Most doctors are not even aware of how important it is to eat potassium rich foods.  And what are these foods that have potassium? is fruits and vegetables like bananas, tomatoes, oranges, apricots, most legumes, spinach, winter squash, avocado kiwi and cantaloupe.  Actually almost all fruits and vegies have moderate to high potassium content.

The researchers looked a number of well done …