Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

Viagra and Hearing Loss

Hugh Hefner’s widow, Crystal Harris, claims Viagra caused her late husband’s hearing loss.

In 2011, then 25 year old Harris told Howard Stern on his radio show, that the Playboy founder wanted to avoid the erectile dysfunction medication due to its effect on his hearing.

How does Viagra cause hearing loss?

In 2007, a study published in The Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery reported sudden hearing loss in one or both ears in some individuals who took Viagra and/or other PDE5 inhibitors for erectile dysfunction.  Moreover some patients reported tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

PDE5 inhibitors work by allowing smooth muscle within the arterial walls of the penis to relax and allow more blood to remain present to maintain an erection.

Although the exact reason for hearing loss was not discovered, experts postulated that an increase in blood flow could have affected the auditory system affecting sounds to be transmitted properly.  Moreover increase blood flow turbulence may lead to ear ringing.

As a result of multiple reports of hearing loss, the FDA was prompted to ask manufacturers of PDE5 inhibitor drugs such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis to include warnings of the side effect on the label.

In 2011, Khan et al reported the following:  There is increasing evidence that PDE-5 inhibitors may induce sensorineural hearing loss via plausible physiological mechanisms. There needs to be more awareness of this disabling side effect among healthcare professionals responsible for prescribing this drug.

What’s challenging is many seniors who struggle with hearing loss may think age could be leading to its progression rather than a medication they are taking.  However, sudden hearing loss does NOT occur naturally  with age and could signal something more is occurring.

Any hearing loss or tinnitus should prompt an evaluation by a hearing specialist.

 

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

 

Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

Julia Louise-Dreyfus Reveals She Has Breast Cancer

The Seinfeld and Veep iconic comedian is battling breast cancer.

On social media, Julia Louise-Dreyfus revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer the day after she won her 6th consecutive Emmy.

“1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one,” Louis-Dreyfus, 56, wrote. “The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality.”

At this time no further details have been revealed of her cancer staging, which would come after further testing.

How is breast cancer staged?

Breast cancer is staged based on size of the tumor, if lymph nodes are affected and whether the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body.  Prognosis varies greatly on the stage.

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Image above from Johnston Health

How common is breast cancer?

1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer of the course of their lifetime. According to BreastCancer.org, an estimated 252,710 cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US with 63,410 cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

40,610 of these women are expected to die this year of breast cancer.

Is family history a huge factor?

85% of breast cancer cases occur in women with NO family history.

Screening of breast cancer

Mammograms are the first line screening tool for breast cancer and are currently recommended biennial for women aged 50-74.  However for those at higher risk, mammogram screening should start earlier, with possible follow-up ultrasound, and be performed more regularly.

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3-D Mammogram image

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

Risk factors for breast cancer include:

Age greater than 50

Family History

BRAC1 and BRAC2 genetic mutations

Alcohol use

Never been pregnant or becoming pregnant for the first time over 35 years old

Early menarche at age 11 or younger

Obesity, especially after menopause

Dense breasts

Lack of physical activity

Use of oral contraceptives

Previous “precancerous” tumors such as atypical hyperplasia

DES exposure

Previous radiation therapy

 

This is a developing story.

 

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

 

Posted in Health, news, Politics

Was the Repeal and Replace Obamacare Fail a Strategy?

As the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, struggled to stay afloat, Trump and the GOP called for its repeal and replacement.

Premiums, deductibles, Medicaid spending skyrocketed and insurance companies were leaving the exchanges in droves.

A repeal and replacement of Obamacare seemed inevitable, almost necessary, to revamp the healthcare system.

However, once in office, President Trump discovered that a repeal and replacement of a 2300 page bill with thousands of more pages in regulations was much more difficult than it seemed.

When Congressional leaders attempted multiple times to pass various bills to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Democrats held firm in their opposition and the GOP couldn’t seem to unite.  Some felt an all-out repeal was necessary while others thought a repeal could collapse the healthcare system.

And it could.  The ACA was designed like a timebomb, where any molestation of the wires could trigger its detonation.  How do you repeal Medicaid spending?  How do you maintain the highly popular preexisting condition protection while trying to reduce premiums?

President Trump, in response to the lack of progress, called for letting “Obamacare fail”.  If Obamacare was sinking anyway, he thought, Democratic leaders would come to the table to work with the GOP eventually.

There was one problem. The GOP as well as the President were elected to do what they promised, repeal and replace Obamacare.  They couldn’t stand around twiddling their thumbs waiting for Obamacare to fail. Doing “nothing” wasn’t an option.  And if the GOP lost seats in the midterm election, a Democratic majority could infuse more dollars into Obamacare’s life support.

So, try your hardest, or appear to try your hardest, to repeal and replace, and if you can’t, well you did all you could and let the cards fall where they may….the GOP strategy?  It might work.  They can then tell voters during the midterm elections that they tried their hardest.  Meanwhile bipartisan struggles with premiums, deductibles, provider access, lack of insurance choices, and individual/employer mandates might bring everyone to their senses to work together to come up with a replacement.

A divided GOP….maybe not.  Maybe a fail on repeal and replace was the most stratetic move they could make.

 

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

Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

Hugh Hefner Dies, age 91

Playboy Magazine founder, Hugh Hefner, died at his home, the Playboy Mansion, Wednesday of natural causes. He was 91.

Cooper Hefner, his son and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, said in a statement, “My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.”

Last year rumors surfaced that Hugh Hefner was battling health issues and suffered significant weight loss.  In 1985 he was 58 years old when he suffered a minor stroke.  His daughter Christie subsequently assumed more of a role of the Playboy empire, later becoming CEO.

Even though his doctor stated the stroke was not life threatening, Hefner stated in an interview at that time, “My recovery is total and something of a miracle. What has happened is actually a ‘stroke of luck’ that I fully expect will change the direction of my life.”

He continued his iconic work that began when Playboy empire was launched in 1953.  Rumors circulated in 2011 that Hefner had died of a heart attack, for which he rebutted with, “I’m lying in bed next to Shera with a big smile on my face, reading tweets about my unexpected demise,” as reported by Daily Mail.

This is a developing story.

Posted in food, Health, news

Can Coffee Cause Cancer?

For years we’ve been told drinking coffee wards off cancer but this week the topic of cancer-causing chemicals in a cup of joe is giving people the jitters.

A legal battle in Los Angeles may result in coffee donning cancer-warning labels due to its acrylamide content.

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics wants coffee manufacturers, distributors and retailers to post warnings regarding the acrylamide content.

The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, passed in 1986, requires businesses that expose individuals to toxic chemicals in the course of doing business to first give warnings to such individuals.

If they do not, they can be open to liability.

What is acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a chemical used in many industrial products that produce plastics, adhesives, food packaging and the treatment of drinking water.  It can also be produced when foods are heated, fried, baked, or roasted to above 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit).  In 2002 reports came out regarding acrylamide in french fries, and in 2013 the FDA issued guidance to the food industry on how to minimize producing the chemical.

Roasting coffee requires the beans to be heated to close to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  This heat produces a chemical reaction between the amino acid asparagine and sugars resulting in the formation of acrylamide.

The amounts however are miniscule.  Much smaller than other modes of acrylamide exposure such as cigarette smoking and exposure at work when working in industries that use acrylamide such as plastics, food processing, mining, paper, agriculture and construction.

What can acrylamide do?

In rodents, acrylamide was found to increase several types of cancer. But the doses were 1,000-10,000 times greater than what the average human is exposed to.

According to the American Cancer Society, most of the studies done so far have not found an increased risk of cancer in humans. For some types of cancer, such as kidney, ovarian and endometrial cancer, the results have been mixed, but there are currently no cancer types for which there is clearly an increased risk related to acrylamide intake.

How do I decrease exposure?

As noted earlier, acrylamide can be in a variety of products we use throughout the day.  Large quantities, however, can be consumed through cigarette smoke, hence avoiding smoking is key.  Moreover, avoiding frying foods, especially starches, greater than 120 degrees Celsius/248 degrees Fahrenheit if possible.  Frying and or toasting to a light gold, rather than crispy dark brown color, may limit your exposure as well.

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But keep in mind, numerous studies have found coffee drinkers to lower their risk of cancer, especially liver, uterine, prostate and mouth cancer.  However 4-6 cups had to be consumed in order for researchers to notice a benefit.

More research still needs to be done.  So while we wait for the verdict lets kick back with a cup of …..hot chocolate?

 

 

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

 

Posted in Health, news

Mexican-Americans at Higher Risk for Liver Cancer

Image above from HealthLine.com

A study out of UCLA finds Mexican Americans to be more at risk for liver cancer than those living in Mexico.

Researchers looked at data of close to 15,000 individuals, 9000 of whom lived in Mexico, 2300 US born Mexican Americans and 2000 Mexican born individuals now living in the US.

Although liver cancer risk factors such as Hepatitis B and C were down, Mexican Americans were found to have an increased incidence of obesity, diabetes, and heavy alcohol use.

Risk factors of hepatocellular carcinoma, liver cancer, include:

Hepatitis B infection

Hepatitis C infection

Obesity

Diabetes

Excessive alcohol use

Cirrhosis – scarring of the liver from alcohol, infection, or drugs

Iron storage diseases such as hemochromatosis.

Symptoms can include bloating, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, jaundice, weakness, fatigue,  and nausea and vomiting.

Screening for liver disease can be easy.  Life Line Screening offers the following  services here.

life line

This study suggests that habits adopted by Americans can not only increase their risk of obesity and diabetes but their cancer risk as well.

 

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

Posted in Health, news

Baby Boomers’ Dedication to Blood Donation needs to be Embraced by Younger Individuals

As Baby Boomers age out of blood donation, younger generations need to help fill the void.

Although the process of blood donation and transfusion was discovered in the 1600’s, widespread civilian blood donation became popular during World War II.  According to the American Red Cross, 13 million pints were collected for the war effort.  And children of this era learned of how significant blood product was for our troops and war effort.  Baby Boomers incorporated routine blood donation as part of their culture.

 

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Yet as Baby Boomers age are the younger generations picking up the slack?

According to James AuBuchon, president and chief executive of Bloodworks Northwest, “The older generations seemed to have internalized the message that we always have to have an adequate supply of blood on the shelves.”  He continues, “The younger generations just seem less wired toward that message.”

Blood banks have, however, made some progress recruiting younger individuals as many are beginning to donate blood on high school and college campuses.

According to USA Today:

20% of blood donations come from the youngest of age groups 16-18 and 19-22.

Less than 10% of blood donations come from 23-29 year olds.

Less than 12% of blood donations come from those in their 30’s.

This year, the active hurricane season has hampered blood collection efforts.

The White House Can Help

A petition has been started asking the White House to proclaim a National Blood Donation Week to help raise blood supply and awareness.  People can easily add their name to the petition here:

Petition for National Blood Donation Week

How can I Donate Blood?

As long as you are over 17 years old (16 with the consent of parent) and weigh above 110 lbs, you may qualify for blood donation. The blood bank will screen you prior to donation.

Local drives can be found going to  American Red Cross Blood Drive Locator.  or United Blood Services/BloodHero.com.

One pint of blood can help save up to three lives.  Thank you so much for your support!!

blood-drive

 

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