Posted in Health, news

Caffeine consumption found to lower heart attack risk

Your morning cup of coffee may be just what the doctor ordered.  Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine found caffeine to lower inflammation which has long been associated with heart disease.  Previous studies have reported coffee drinkers tend to live longer than non coffee drinkers and this may explain why.

To begin, scientists looked at a protein called, IL-1-beta.  In study participants who had higher levels of this inflammatory agent, they found an increased risk of high blood pressure and stiff arteries compared to those who had lower levels of IL – 1- beta.

Then researchers injected mice with IL-1-beta to see what it could do, and found blood pressure to rise as well as inflammation.

The scientists then looked at the genes that encode IL-1-beta and found less activation of these genes in those who drank caffeinated drinks.

Then the researchers took human cells in a laboratory setting and used agents to trigger inflammation, finding them to produce more IL-1-beta.  They then tested to see if caffeine subdued the inflammation and it did.

Therefore they confirmed the IL-1-beta protein was inflammatory, those who drank coffee activated the genes less, and caffeine reduced inflammation.

The lead researcher was Dr. David Furman and the study was published online Jan. 16 in Nature Medicine.

Now the next question is:  If caffeine is healthy for the heart, does this mean caffeine drinks and caffeinated foods are healthy?  Unfortunately this study does not dive into the foods or food products that offer high caffeine alternatives.  We’ve seen previous research discussing caffeinated coffee to have health benefits but decaf, or soda with caffeine does not.

And energy drinks have long been associated with increase heart attack risk, especially abnormal heart rhythms.  Last year a 19 year old died after drinking three and a half cans of Monster Energy Drink within 24 hours of having a heart attack.

One explanation for why energy drinks may not offer the same caffeinated health benefits is the drink is imbibed quickly rather than a slow sip from a hot cup of coffee.  Another reason could be there are ingredients in the caffeine drink that negates its beneficial effects.

For now, we can take this promising news, consider maintaining our daily cup of Joe and await more research to tell us why coffee seems to be the only drink getting all the glory.  Soda pop and energy drinks may till need to stay on the shelves.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician



Posted in Health, news

Eating Spicy Food Found to Help You Live Longer

Eating red hot chili peppers found to reduce death by 13%.


Researchers from the University of Vermont looked at data of over 16,000 Americans and found a 13% lower mortality in those who ate red hot chili peppers, especially when it came to heart disease and stroke.  This study was published in the medical journal PLoS ONE.

This is not the first time hot and spicy food has been found to decrease mortality.  In December, researchers from Germany found Capsaicin, which gives food their fiery kick, was found to inhibit tumor growth, specifically breast cancer.

In 2015 a study published in the British Medical Journal found those who ate spicy food more than 1 -2 times a week were 14% less likely to die than those who ate spicy food less than once a week.

Both teams of researchers have been looking at how Capsaicin affects Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, that mediate how we perceive taste, pressure and vision.

In this study, they found that those who ate a diet high in red hot chili peppers were “younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats … had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education.”  Lower HDL and smoking could increase one’s heart disease risk so the fact that they had lower mortality due to this dietary addition was significant.

Now diets high in spicy food could worsen one’s heartburn and Gastroesophageal reflux disease and concerns have been raised with spicy food and colon cancer.  But more evidence appears to surface that it lowers cancer risk.

But if capsaicin continues to show researchers that it improves cardiovascular health, obesity, and cancer risk, hot chili peppers may become our new superfood.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician


Posted in Health, news

Superbugs: if Antibiotics Won’t Work, What Will?

In 2016, a woman in Reno, Nevada died of a bacterial infection that was “incurable”.  She had sustained a femur fracture in her leg while living in India and subsequently developed an infection.  Last August she was seen in a hospital in Reno.  Public health officials stated her Klebsiella pneumonia infection was apart of the CRE — carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae. The CDC has been monitoring these superbugs, named by director Dr. Tom Frieden, “nightmare bacteria”, due to their dangerous drug resistance, but this particular case in this woman who is unidentified and in her 70’s was pan-resistant to every antibiotic tested.  Subsequently she died in September.  India has been battling many drug resistant superbugs and the CDC has been tracking cases as they surface in the US.  This case, albeit rare, reminds us of how powerless we are to these bacteria that outsmart our fanciest of antibiotics.


How can we fight superbugs?

Well to begin, let’s understand what we’re dealing with.  A superbug is a pathogen, most commonly bacteria, that can survive antibiotics that most species would buckle under.  It’s resistance could be caused by a variety of factors.  Maybe it has a mutation that makes it stronger.  Maybe its genetic material shields it from the toxic medicine.  Maybe it’s luck.  So shortly after it celebrates surviving the antibiotic assault, it divides to reproduce, making more bacteria.  If this progeny bacteria maintain the same genetic material as its parent, or if included, mutation, they can be now be resistant to the antibiotics as well.

Since the birth of antibiotics in 1928 with Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin, we’ve aimed to make them stronger and shrewder than the bacteria.  However, nature always wins, and some bacteria have outsmarted our fanciest of antibiotics, as we’ve seen with CRE.  The more antibiotics we make and use, the stronger the bacteria become.  Fueling this fire may not be the way to go.  The key to fighting superbugs may not lie in the antibiotic arsenal.  So thinking ahead may require us to look back.



Sir Alexander Fleming  (Corbis)



During the Roman empire and Middle Ages, Silver had been used as healing agent.  During the Civil War, silver nitrate was used to cure Gonorrhea, another bacteria currently becoming drug resistant.  The silver nitrate was eventually replaced by a colloidal silver. But in 2013 researchers at Boston University discovered why silver was so antibacterial.  Its properties interfered with the cell metabolism of the pathogen as well as  disrupted its wall.  This mimics what antibiotics have been designed to do.  Silver may be able to be used as an agent by itself, in a non toxic form of course, or used in conjunction with current antibiotics who cannot break into the bacteria wall by themselves.





Yep, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  Discovered in 1915 by Frederick Twort in great Britain, bacteriophages, viruses that attack bacteria, have been found to target certain strains including superbugs.  Current research done at Yale University has found success in treating Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria known to have resistant forms to some of the fanciest of antibiotics.




Wasp Venom

At the end of 2018 MIT researchers found that the venom from the Brazilian Polybia paulista wasp was effective at killing antibiotic resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria known to cause many types of infections, including those contracted during a hospital stay.  This MP1 toxin may also be effective in combating cancer cells.




Mammal Milk

In 2016, researchers from Sydney University found a protein in Tasmanian Devil milk that allowed the immunologically immature young baby devils to withstand the superbug that was killing their parents.  They found the milk to successfully kill most superbugs. The milk contains antimicrobial peptides called cathelicidins, which were found to kill the superbugs MRSA and Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus.    This looks promising.




In 2008, researchers at University College London, found a laser activated dye to kill a wide variety of bacteria.  Kind of a  Da Vinci meets Star Wars sort of treatment…..


Red Berry Extract from the Brazilian Peppertree

This staple of Brazilian traditional medicine has treated skin lesions and wounds with its leaves and bark. But the fruit has been found to have an extract that can weaken superbugs such as MRSA so the body’s defenses can fight the bacteria more successfully.



(Photo: Emory University)


Heading off the infection at the pass by boosting our immune system has played a huge role in protecting us against pneumonia, meningitis, tetanus to name a few.  Superbug vaccines may be difficult because of the mutative nature of these bacteria but generic immune boosters may be the strategy here.

This is just the beginning of what researchers have been testing.  Last fall, scientists created the Multivalent Adhesion Molecule 7, or MAM7, that essentially “blinded” the bacteria, preventing it from sticking to the host and spreading.

Although we need to continue to develop stronger antibiotics, our efforts should also focus on non-antibiotic bacteria busters.  The answer to solving our superbug problem could be right under our noses…..




                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician



Posted in Health, news, Sports

Using the NFL Injury Report to predict Playoff winners

The long awaited Divisional playoffs are here!!!!  The injury report however as of 20:00 1/13/17 is not complete.  So working with what we have here are this week’s picks.



I don’t care about the groin injury reported on the Cowboys.  I can’t choose the Packers sorry.



We pray that no one gets hurt and those who do recover quickly.  Here’s to rounding out a safe season of one of the best sports ever!!  FOOTBALL!!

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

What does the Zika rash look like?

Physicians of the first woman who contracted Zika on US soil published her case study this week in the New England Journal of Medicine including pictures of what the rash looked like.

A team of physicians from the University of Miami Health System reported the 23-year old Miami-Dade pregnant patient presented to them in July with fever, sore throat and the rash pictured below.  This rash was present on her chest, arms, legs, palms and soles of her feet.

zika-rashNew England Journal of Medicine



The fever came first, then the rash, and then joint pain.  She was at that time 23 weeks gestation, or roughly 5 months pregnant.  At this time, the only cases of Zika in the US were those acquired during travel to affected areas and those acquired from sexual contact.  No one yet had been infected by local mosquitoes.

The patient, however, was knowledgeable on Zika and its risk to a fetus and when she presented, made known her concerns.  She had not traveled to any affected countries and the rash was very pronounced.  The medical team ran laboratory tests on various viruses including measles and mumps and Zika results proved positive.  Fortunately, she gave birth to a healthy full term infant late last year with no evidence of birth defects and no trace of the Zika virus.

Zika has been linked to a congenital syndrome that can cause microcephaly (small and poorly developed head), neurological deficits, seizures, feeding problems, limb abnormalities and even eye issues.

Congenital Zika Syndrome is described here:

Dr. Lucy Chen is a Dermatology resident at Jackson Health System in Miami and was lead author of this study.  She stated:

“Dermatologists and clinicians had an idea of what the Zika rash looked like, but it wasn’t until the patient presented here that we were able to get an up-close and personal look and photograph the skin.
“Any doctor now has a visual sense of the rash to properly diagnose and refer patients to the appropriate specialists.”


As of January 4, 2017 the CDC reports the United States has 216 locally acquired mosquito-borne cases reported (210 in Florida and 6 in Texas).

The CDC’s breakdown includes the following:

US States

  • Locally acquired mosquito-borne cases reported: 216
  • Travel-associated cases reported: 4,618
  • Laboratory acquired cases reported:  1
  • Total: 4,835
    • Sexually transmitted: 38

US Territories

  • Locally acquired cases reported: 35,021
  • Travel-associated cases reported: 131
  • Total: 35,152
  • *Sexually transmitted cases are not reported for US territories because with local transmission of Zika virus it is not possible to determine whether infection occurred due to mosquito-borne or sexual transmission.


In December, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared the state free of locally transmitted Zika.  We’re hoping this good news persists when the Spring and Summer returns.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

The Appendix: NOT a useless organ

In medical school we learned that nothing in the body is useless.  Well maybe my ovaries have become so, but that will be discussed in my next article on facial hair.

It troubled many of us in the medical profession that an appendage attached to the right sided colon, cecum to be specific, would be useless.   We have to study the appendix profusely in school as an appendicitis attack is not one to be misdiagnosed.  I took out so many appendixes in my training that I could do it blindfolded.  This “vestigial structure” denoting it didn’t have a function, did so as far as I was concerned.  It averaged approximately 10 cm, was about 1 cm in diameter when not swollen and abscessed and was a uniquely hollow tube.

If an organ or body part becomes useless, nature selects it out.  This is why humans don’t have tails. We can pull eachothers hair if we need pull something.  Over 500 animal species have appendixes.  Must be for a darn good reason.

Grammar note.  The plural word for the organ appendix is “appendixes”.  If we were discussing a segment in a book, it would be “appendices”.  

Then in 2007, a team of immunologists from Duke University reported that the appendix has a function:  to produce and harbor healthy bacteria that can help “reboot” the gut when it becomes low in its microbiota.  Makes sense.  But not everyone got the memo and I overheard people in line at Starbucks talk about how the appendix was useless all over again.

This month, scientists at Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine again confirm that the dangling worm like tube had a purpose. Not only did they believe the appendix to be a reservoir for good bacteria but also play a role in our immune system with its high level of lymphoid tissue.  Dr. Heather Smith, lead author, stated “In animals that have an appendix, there is a higher concentration of lymphoid tissue in the cecum.”   Moreover she said, “The appendix has a concentration of good gut bacteria that can repopulate the gut.”

The cecum is a pouch like structure that marks the beginning of the large intestine.  It receives the food that was digested in the small intestine and starts its passage through the colon, which will absorb its water content and prepare it to become its dream…..poop.


Graphic from

We see more and more studies discussing our digestive system’s bacteria and its role in our health.  It would make perfect sense that our colon had a means to repopulate its bacteria inhabitants if stress, antibiotics, or diarrhea washed it away.  As we come to learn that we big organisms rely more and more on microorganisms, we face the fact that the simplest of all creatures deserve credit for our existence.  Its time we appreciate the simplest of organs as well……our friend the appendix.




                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician




Posted in Health, news

Local pubs good for our mental health

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place up the road where everyone knew your name?  Cheered “Daliah” every time you walked in.  Toasted you everyday when you got props at work…. bought you a round when you had a bad day. But most importantly, a pub that would always be there, consistent, friendly faces, no matter what day or time of year?

Well scientists at Oxford confirm that this would be good, in fact healthy, for our mental well being.  Apparently, those who frequented a local pub were more happy and socially engaging.  According to lead researcher, Professor Robin Dunbar, he stated, “This study showed that frequenting a local pub can directly affect people’s social network size and how engaged they are with their local community.

“Our networks provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness. While pubs traditionally have a role as a place for community socializing, alcohol’s role appears to be in triggering the endorphin system, which promotes social bonding.”

The frequent conversation, story telling, laughter can all help one’s mental state.  But what about the alcohol?

In the summer of 2012, a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found moderates amount of alcohol, if consumed in a social setting, relieved negative emotions and enhanced positive ones. It also increased social bonding.  Additionally, a study in July 2016 found couples who drink together appear happier and stay together.   Study author,  Dr. Kira Birditt told Reuters, “We’re not sure why this is happening, but it could be that couples that do more leisure time activities together have better marital quality.”

My theory is people can’t be alone.  The age of social media has turned a once loud, laughing, carousing nation to an isolated, quiet (except for the keyboard clicking), lonely country of computer worshipers.  We need to rub shoulders with people, hear their mundane stories, see their facial expressions, feel their touch, get their approval, note their disapproval, and even get into a scuffle once in a while.  At the end of the night when we’re tired and sick of people, then we escape to our home where we can have some peace and quiet.


Plus, we need to wind down after work.  We love our families, but leaving a chaotic work day to deal with bumper to bumper traffic to then dealing with screaming kids and homework leaves little time to catch a breather.

And as for regular socializing, we’ve turned our home, our sanctuary into a mission control and I don’t think its doing our psyche any good.  So I suggest to find Cliff Claven, grab Norm, ignore Diane, patronize Frasier and mosey on down to Sam’s bar.  Its what this doctor ordered…..


                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician


Posted in Health, news, Sports

Using the NFL Injury Report to predict Wild Card weekend winners

Wild Card weekend.  The injury report is out.  Here we go!

Giants – very close



Texans/Raiders -Possibly Texans but too close to call

We pray that no one gets hurt and those who do recover quickly.  Here’s to rounding out a safe season of one of the best sports ever!!  FOOTBALL!!

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

Another recession may already be here

As Washington boasted of a growing economy, I as well as many of you were cautiously pessimistic.  Did the recession ever officially end?  Was America reluctant to start spending after they lost most of their savings during the recession?  But it was the following that had me the most worried.


  1.  Internet sales surpassing store-based sales.  We watched companies such as Radio Shack, Blockbuster and Frederick’s of Hollywood close stores across the country.  We witnessed more people “Cyber Monday” shop than “Black Friday” shop during the Holidays.  We heard jokes that large retail stores would act as “showrooms” for people to test out a product after which they would run home and try to find the best internet deal.  And if a big commercial retailer closes down their store, not only does it mean job loss and loss of all workers associated with maintaining the property, but a large empty retail space is ominous for any strip mall and their sales.  And beyond retail stores, doctors offices are being replaced by Skype sessions from a mission control.  So the question for many companies remains…. Why would we pay rent if we don’t have to?
  2. Jobs becoming displaced by automation.  Electronic health records cutting the need for file clerks in medical offices, tableside kiosks eliminating foodservers, robots in warehouses, and the list goes on.  Employees are expensive with payroll, taxes, health insurance costs rising.  Why wouldn’t an employer opt for a long term substitute that couldn’t call out sick, file a Worker’s Compensation claim, or sue for wrongful termination.  Thus sadly for us, many employers find robots and automation much more legally and financially attractive.
  3. Baby Boomers leaving their homes and millennials not becoming home buyers.  As the large generation of Baby Boomers leave their single family residence due to age or opting for roommates to cut the costs, a housing glut looms.  One would expect millennials to pick up the slack but many are in no position to purchase a home with a bleak career future and insurmountable college debt.


This trifecta creates the perfect storm for a huge economic downturn.  Real estate gluts and unemployment are bad news all around.  We’ve been saying it for years, but have we been preparing?

Focus has been surrounding the Affordable Care Act, and rightfully so.  But it can’t take all the blame.  True, employers being penalized for not purchasing health insurance per employee makes for a poor incentive to hire more.   But even if the law does become repealed and replaced as promised by the Trump Administration, it may be too little too late as unemployment soars from the other aforementioned factors.

Macy’s has reported it will cut 10,000 jobs.  MD Anderson Medical Center reports it will downsize by 1000 employees.  Sears and Kmart will cut 150 stores affecting hundreds if not thousands of ancillary workers.  Amazon reports success with their surge from 30,000 to 45,000 robots.

The writing’s been on the wall for years. And now the Federal Reserve has promised to raise rates.  Hopefully the new administration can soften some of the hard times about to come, but American needs to prepare and financially hunker down. This storm could get ugly.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

This week’s Health Headlines

Ebola Virus found to hide out in the lungs

Post infection, the lungs now adds to a list of places Ebola can hide including the eyes, semen, amniotic fluid, placenta, breast milk and the central nervous system.

Heartburn drugs again found to increase risk of C. diff.

These included both the PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, and Nexium) as well as the H2 Blockers (Pepcid, Zantac).  Users demonstrated increased risk of abdominal infections caused by C. difficile and Campylobacter bacteria

Vision checks may need to be required when kids return to school after concussion

In this study, of the children who suffered concussion and had lingering symptoms 10 days after, 46% demonstrated visual issues such as blurry vision, meaning they weren’t ready to return to school and should be reevaluated.

The Mediterranean diet appears to preserve brain health

In this study it appeared that those keeping a Mediterranean diet appeared to suffer less brain volume loss than those who did not.


Living close to a major roadway increases dementia risk

Living within 50 feet of a major roadway was linked to a 7% increase risk of dementia.  This decreased the father away one lived, let’s say, from the 215.


Low Vitamin D levels linked to headaches

This study however only involved men from Finland who have less exposure to sunlight.  Those who had the lowest levels of Vitamin D appeared to suffer from headaches the most frequently.


Ear wax is protective and shouldn’t be excessively removed

We’ve told patient’s for years not to obsess about their ear wax in that it keeps the canal moist and provides a protective barrier but experts released guidelines outlining what not to do with one’s ear wax (i.e. use Q-tips)


Chronic marijuana use linked to a hyperemesis syndrome (CHS)

This is interesting in that many self treat their mild nausea and abdominal pain with marijuana. However if they are developing CHS, they will make it worse.

Alcohol abuse again linked to heart disease

In addition to atrial fibrillation this study found drinking in excess is also linked to heart attack and heart failure.

Mesentery now joins list of human “organs”

The mesentery does more than hold our intestines in place. This promotion/reclassification to “organ” means we now have to study and be tested on it in anatomy and physiology class.

Iron deficiency linked to hearing loss

There are many different causes of hearing loss depending if one has conductive vs sensorineuroal vs. combined. But this study interestingly found iron deficiency to double one’s risk, possibly by damaging the hair cells of the inner ear.


Children of obese parents may be at risk of developmental delays

Theses included cognitive milestones such as problem solving skills as well as physical (feeding, dressing one self, balance, etc).

The broader the New Year’s Resolution, the easier to fail.

Patient’s will say “I’m going to lose weight”, or “I’m going to get healthy!” These are nice but too broad.  Make each goal a small finite one, so its easier to tackle. Rather than pledging “I’m going to study more”, how about “I’m going to read my flashcards while on my treadmill”, etc.


                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician