Posted in Health, news

E-Cigarettes May Leak Toxic Metals During Vaping

A new study reveals that toxic levels of lead and other metals may leak from the heating coil element into the vapor inhaled during e-cig use.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found these metals to include:

  • lead
  • nickel
  • manganese
  • chromium
  • arsenic

We’ve known for some time that vaping fluid could contain chemicals that turn toxic once heated, but this study shed light on e-cig metal components causing metal leakage to the vapor making contact with delicate respiratory epithelium (lining).

Reported by Forbes, Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, stated the following, “the FDA does not currently test any of the most popular vaping and e-cigarette instruments being manufactured at unregulated factories in Asia that source  low-grade parts, batteries, and materials for the production of these devices,” suggesting that “the metal and parts composition of these devices must be stringently tested for toxic analytes and corrosive compounds.”

These chemicals may act as neurotoxins, affecting our nervous system, cause tissue necrosis (cell death) and even multi-organ failure.  Moreover they can affect how our immune system reacts to other chemicals as well as foreign pathogens, affecting our ability to fight other diseases.

Although studies have suggested e-cig vapor to be safer than tobacco smoke, not enough research has been done, in the relatively few years vaping has been around, looking at how heat-transformed chemicals and leaked metals affect our breathing, lungs and other organs once absorbed into the body.

 

Vaping Linked to Heart Disease and Cancer

A study from New York University found the nicotine in electronic cigarettes to cause DNA damage similar to cigarette smoking.

Dr. Moon-shong Tang and his colleagues exposed mice to e-cig smoke during a three-month period, 5 days a week for three hours a day.  They found these mice, compared to those breathing filtered air, to have DNA damage to cells in their bladders, lungs and hearts. The amount of nicotine inhaled was approximately 10mg/ml.   That dose would be commonly consumed by many humans who vape.

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They then looked at human bladder and lung cells and found tumor cells were able to grow more easily once exposed to nicotine and vaping chemicals.

Last May, researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville found e-cig smoke to increase one’s risk of bladder cancer.

In 2015, the University of Minnesota identified chemicals commonly found in e-cig vapor to include:

  • Formaldehyde (human carcinogen)
  • Acetaldehyde (carcinogen related to alcohol drinking)
  • Acrolein (highly irritating and toxic)
  • Toluene (toxic) NNN, NNK (tobacco carcinogens related to nicotine)
  • Metals (possible carcinogens and toxins)

Although electronic cigarette “juice” may appear safe, it could produce harmful chemicals once heated to become a vapor.

A lethal dose of nicotine for an adult ranges from 30-60 mg and varied for children (0.5-1.0 mg/kg can be a lethal dosage for adults, and 0.1 mg/kg for children).  E-cigs, depending on their strengths (0 – 5.4%) could contain up to 54 mg of nicotine per cartridge (a 1.8% e -cig would contain 18mg/ml).

The topic of nicotine increasing one’s vulnerability to cancer is nothing new as decades ago researchers found nicotine to affect the cilia (brush border) along the respiratory tree, preventing mucous production and a sweeping out of carcinogens trying to make their way down to the lungs.

More research needs to be performed but this recent report reminds us that exposing our delicate lung tissue and immune system to vaping chemicals may not be as safe as we think.

For more on the study read here.

 

Twitter @DrDaliah

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

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Posted in flu, Health, news

Could FluMist Have Prevented Many of this Year’s Flu Deaths?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee voted this week to return the FluMist, nasal spray flu vaccine, to the recommended options for the 2018-2019 flu season.

In 2016 it was not recommended and discouraged as they found its effectiveness against seasonal flu to be approximately 46%, when 65% efficacy was touted by the injectable flu shot.  However this flu season, the current flu vaccine was found to be only 35% effective with one of the worst flu seasons in years taking the lives of healthy young adults and children.

Why was this season so severe? The H3N2 strain was the predominant one, notorious for bad flu seasons, and is crafty, able to mutate before the vaccine is finalized.  Hence our flu vaccine was not able to be as close a match as desired.

The panel voted 12-2 this week to include FluMist as an option for medical providers to recommend against the upcoming 2018-2019 flu season.

Why was FluMist removed?  Experts found it to be ineffective against one of the influenza A H1N1 strains. With its overall efficacy found to be lower than the flu shot it was deemed a less ideal option than the shot.

FluMist is a live attenuated vaccine that is not recommended in infants and pregnant women. It is indicated for those between the ages of 2-49 and introduces a live, weakened version of the flu virus to incite an immune response.  This differs from the injectable flu vaccine which uses killed versions of the flu strains to induce a flu response.

Children prefer the FluMist as the nasal spray offers a less painful option than an injection.

The FluMist Quadrivalent nasal spray, manufactured by MedImmune of AstraZeneca PLC, offers protection against 4 strains of flu including H1N1, H3N2 and two influenza B strains.  According to FluMist’s prescribing information, the FluMist proved 90% effective against H3N2 as opposed to influenza B where it scored 44.3% effectiveness.   Another review found its efficacy against H3N2 to be 79%.

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Now that’s not to say the FluMist would have been immune to the vaccine issues experienced with this year’s flu shot as H3N2 is a highly virulent and mutable virus, and could have snowed the FluMist vaccine makers as well.

Yet we may need to consider that the FluMist may be more efficacious for some strains of the flu whereas the flu shot may better protect us against others.  More research needs to be done in this area. As of now choosing which flu shot to get for the next flu season may be a crap shoot.

 

Twitter @DrDaliah

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

 

 

 

Posted in Health, news, pornography, sex

Is Watching Porn Bad for Your Health?

Millions of people view porn every day and the Florida House has approved a resolution to protect their constituents from its inherent health risks.

According to the resolution’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Ross Spano, “Research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior.”

So is pornography a public health risk?

What constitutes a “Public Health Risk?”

A public health risk is something that could pose a health threat, injury to humans or could contribute to health risks of other humans.  This could include drunk driving, mosquitos or rats transmitting disease, or even smoking.

So watching pornography would pose a public health risk if not only the “pornee” gets hurt but affects others surrounding him. Now the effect of others could be in the form of missing work, viewing porn at work (considered sexual harassment and/or assault by others not wanting to view it), and unwanted sexual acts with one’s partner.

How does watching pornography affect health?

Although we do not have any definitive studies telling us porn is good or bad for our health, there are many opinions on the matter.

One concern is inactivity and time spent in front of a screen.  Sitting in front of a computer, tablet, or hand-held device watching hours of porn could increase risk of a blood clot, heart disease and (prolonged sitting) has been linked to colon cancer.  However, according to PornHub, the average time spent viewing porn only ranges from 9-13 minutes.

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What about lack of sleep? Are people secretly watching porn at night, and not getting their 7-9 hours of uninterrupted rest?

According to PornHub the most common time during the day to watch porn was between 10 pm and 1 am.  If one is only online for 10 minutes and falls asleep afterwards, they may still receive a good amount of sleep.

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What about the risks of frequent masturbation?

In 2009 a study found frequent masturbation in young males could increase their risk of prostate cancer, but in older men (>50 years), reduced their risk.  Other studies have suggested reduced risk of prostate cancer that occurs in older men but not aggressive cancer in younger men.

Excessive masturbation could affect one’s refractory period, or time it takes to form an erection again after sex.  For some this could last 15 minutes, for others a week.  So if a date night is planned for later that evening, one with a long refractory period could have issues.

Chafing and inflammation can also occur but are usually rectified with a change in modality.

What about the impact on children?

The American College of Pediatricians released this statement:

The consumption of pornography is associated with many negative outcomes: increased rates of depression, anxiety, violent behavior, early sexual debut and sexual promiscuity, higher rates of teen pregnancy and a distorted view of relationships. For married adults, pornography also results in an increased likelihood of divorce which, in turn, is harmful to children.

Author, L. David Perry, MD, states, “Pornography glorifies decontextualized sex. Its use by adolescents and young adults often leads to a distorted view of sexuality and its proper role in fostering healthy personal relationships.”

If state governments choose to debate porn being a health risk, I agree with strict restrictions on child and adolescent access.  I also agree with education of condom use to protect against unsafe sex practices.  Moreover, counseling resources for those addicted to porn should be increased as internet and porn addiction is a growing public health threat.  However, does the occasional video view pose serious health risks….no.

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

 

Posted in Health, news

Allergy Season May Start Early This Year

Multiple states are reporting “early” allergy seasons.

We still have a month left of winter yet grass is sprouting, leaves are growing and flowers are blooming.  Add warmer than normal temperatures to the mix and this is the perfect recipe for an early allergy season.

Allergy season usually begins with the start of Spring in March.  Yet many may start their symptoms as early as February if they are allergic to what’s blooming.

Tree pollens start first in January and then taper off in April.  Grass pollen starts to rise in February and March.   Finally weed pollens join the party by the Spring and extend through the Summer and Fall.

Here are your questions answered:

What are allergies?

Allergies are the result of the immune response to a foreign particulate that our body senses.  One could be allergic to pollen, dust, dander, food, insects, mold, metals, transfused blood, grafts, medicine and anything the body senses as a foreign intruder.  Even though these may be individually harmless, a hypersensitivity reaction occurs as a result of their intrusion into the body.  IgE antibodies find the allergen (intruder) and activate mast cells in the tissue and basophils in the blood.  When these cells get activated, they release substances to help protect the body, including histamines, leukotrienes, and cytokines. These help the body attempt to sneeze and cough the allergen out, wall off the antigen, signal more antibodies, or produce tears and nasal secretions to flush it out.

What are symptoms of seasonal allergies?

Symptoms of allergies could include any or a combination of the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye watering
  • Red Eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Rash
  • Itchy throat
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion….. to name a few.

How do they differ from a cold?

Colds may have very similar symptoms to allergies.  However they are different.

The common cold is caused by a virus.  When one gets infected by the virus they may feel malaise, fever, and achy.  This does not occur with allergies.

Moreover, nasal secretions from allergies are usually clear.  In a cold, the mucous could be thicker and with color.

The same holds true with sputum.  During an allergy the cough may have little to no mucous and if so, be light colored.  Thick mucous could be a sign of an infection.

An allergic sore throat will seem more dry and scratchy.  A sore throat from a cold is more uncomfortable and less easy to soothe.

Allergies may persist or be cyclical.  Cold symptoms will usually subside after a few days and rarely persist longer than 10 days.

Can allergies lead to a cold?

Yes and no.  Allergies should not in and of themselves cause an infection. However they may make one more vulnerable for a virus or bacteria to take over.    Hence a bronchitis, sinus infection, or pneumonia could uncommonly follow an asthma attack.

Are seasonal allergies dangerous?

As stated previously, if one is susceptible to colds, an allergic attack could make them vulnerable. Moreover if one suffers from asthma, an allergy attack could incite an asthma attack.  Very rarely would we see a life threatening anaphylaxis to an allergen such as pollen.

How can we prevent and treat allergies?

Avoiding, or decreasing exposure to the allergen is key.   We suggest the following:

  1.  Be aware of your local weather and pollen counts.  If the weather begins to warm and regional vegetation is blooming, allergy season may be upon you sooner than you know.
  2. Avoid outside pollen from coming into your house.  Avoid the urge to open all the windows during Springtime as wind will bring the pollen in.
  3. Clean your air filters.  Replace air filters frequently and consider using HEPA Filters
  4. Wash off pollen from your hair and clothes before you sit on the couch or jump into bed.
  5. Close your car windows when you park.
  6. “Recirculate” the air in your car
  7. Discuss with your medical provider if you are a candidate for medications such as antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids or leukotriene antagonists.  
  8. If you suffer from respiratory illnesses or a chronic medical condition, discuss with your medical provider if you need to start your allergy medication before allergy season hits. Some of these medications may take a couple of weeks to reach therapeutic levels.

How can I find my local pollen counts?

Local tree, ragweed and grass pollen counts can be obtained here.

 

                                                                                                       

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

 

Posted in Health, news

Plane Makes Emergency Landing Due to Passenger’s Farts

A pilot made an emergency landing when a fight broke out between passengers when one wouldn’t stop farting.

According to the NY Post, two Dutchmen sitting next to the flatulent passenger reportedly asked the man to stop, but he refused and continued to break wind aboard the Transavia Airlines flight from Dubai to Amsterdam Schiphol.

The airline stated, “Our crew must ensure a safe flight. When passengers pose risks, they immediately intervene. Our people are trained for that. They know very well where the boundaries are. Transavia is therefore square behind the cabin crew and the pilots.”

In July a report surfaced stating an American Airlines jet evacuated all their passengers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport when a passenger “passed gas”, making other passengers sick.  Airline officials however refuted it saying the plane was not evacuated and a medical call came in because of an “odor” on a plane.

Many passengers complained of nausea and headaches, which brings up the question: If someone did pass gas, can farts make you sick?

What’s in a fart?

Flatus, or flatulence, is commonly called a “fart”.  Flatus is made up of multiple gases obtained from swallowing and produced by the microbes lining the intestine. These include hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and methane.

Flatus odor, however, is caused from minor sulfur gas components including hydrogen sulfide, dimethyl sulfide and others.

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IMAGE FROM PHYSICS STACK EXCHANGE

Can farts make you sick?

Studies have found that bacteria passed from flatus will grow on a petrie dish but that clothes provide a filter.  Reports of pink eye being obtained from a pillow case soiled in flatus are anecdotal.

However, nausea and headaches can happen.  The hydrogen sulfide, depending on the dose, can cause headaches, nausea, skin and eye irritation.  In toxic doses, hydrogen sulfide (which has the characteristic rotten egg odor) can cause convulsions, delirium and death.  But hydrogen sulfide comprises such a minute amount in flatus that no one would become that ill by smelling it.

Can farts be beneficial?

For the farter, yes.  It assists in movement of the stool and passing it can help prevent bloating and constipation.  However for the recipient of the smell, it may be beneficial too.

In 2014, a study from Exeter University, found the hydrogen sulfide in gas to HELP cells recover from mitochondrial damage, allowing their energy powerhouses to continue working. Researchers believe this could help repair the damage in heart disease, stroke, dementia and many other diseases.

Yet before you ask your buddy to do you a solid, wait for more research. And if you need to exit a plane due to fart smell, breathe into your shirt and wait until the plane lands before disembarking.    I think many of us can admit to loads of experience with this one……

 

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

Posted in flu, Health, news

Should We Keep our Mouths Shut When it Comes to Guessing Flu Shot Efficacy?

Low flu shot efficacy predictions may be turning people off from getting the life-saving vaccine.

A 3-year-old girl from Indiana who died days after being diagnosed with the flu was never vaccinated against the virus since the family was dissuaded by efficacy reports.

Alivia Viellieux of Muncie, Indiana was diagnosed with Influenza A when she presented to medical providers with a fever of 106 degrees.

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She was hospitalized and when she improved she was sent home. Unfortunately she began feeling worse again at home and died in her sleep the next day to what the family believes was pneumonia.

The number one cause of flu-related death is pneumonia.  Most children are vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia with Prevnar as infants, as are those over 65 who receive the Pneumovax.

Alivia’s grandmother, Tameka Stettler, stated they didn’t give the toddler the flu shot this year due to its purported low efficacy rate.  She states, “Alivia did not have it because they had told us once the flu is going around it’s not going to matter if you got it or not.” She continued, as reported by Fox News, “We just decided not to put those chemicals in the girl’s body if it’s not gonna help.”

The flu vaccine this year has been reported to be approximately 30% effective against this year’s flu strains, including H3N2, H1N1 and an Influenza B strain.  Strong efficacy would range in the 60-65% range. Why not 100%? Virus strains mutate easily as weeks go by and vaccine manufacturers need to rely on data from the Southern Hemisphere who combats the flu season before us.

A November study published in the New England Journal Of Medicine stated that Australia had dealt with the majority of strains this season to be H3N2 and their flu shot was found to only be 10% effective.

US media outlets reported these findings and the public panicked.  However, the medical community still urged everyone over 6 months of age to get the flu shot as any vaccine efficacy can still be life saving.  However, that might have fallen on deaf ears.

Which brings me to ask….Should we be reporting flu shot efficacy before we know the facts?

We don’t really know how effective the flu shot is until late until the season.  Moreover in those of us who received the flu shot and did not get the flu this season, was it due to the shot or our good health, or luck?  And who reports to the CDC that they were “all clear” this flu season?  If data on flu shot efficacy is not able to accurately collected on those who did not get the flu, how are we getting a true estimate of vaccine effectiveness?

I understand that media outlets want to warn us of a deadly flu season without an ideal vaccine but the panic may work against us with many NOT taking precautionary measures.

I suggest at the start of next flu season, the media reminds viewers, listeners, readers that flu shots are never 100% effective but can provide protection without giving a “guestimate” percentage. Reporting what happened in the Southern Hemisphere the season before is fine with a caveat that we may not know our vaccine’s true effectiveness till later in the season.  Emphasizing good hand washing, avoiding others who are sick, good nutrition, being well rested and getting vaccinated will do more good than grabbing people’s attention with a scary headline that may not be entirely accurate.

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

Posted in food, Health, news

Eat Slower to Lose Weight

Another study has found eating too fast may lead to weight gain and metabolic syndrome.

In a recent study published in BMJ Open, researchers looked at 60,000 patients, analyzing their BMI and waist circumference and found 22,000, or 1/3 gobbled down their food at a fast rate. Those who ate at a normal speed were 29 percent less likely to be obese than the gobblers and those who ate slowly were 42 percent less likely to be overweight.  BMI and waist circumference were noted to be higher in the fast eating groups.

One reason for this is fast eaters may be more likely to consume more calories before they feel full. Their food choices may also be those that you can eat quickly (like a cheeseburger) rather than a salad that takes forever to get through.

Last year, researchers from Hiroshima University in Japan also found that those who ate their meals quicker were more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome.

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is comprised of a group of risk factors that puts one at risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  Any three of the following classify as one having metabolic syndrome:

  • Large waistline or apple shaped habitus
  • High blood pressure (over 130/80)
  • High fasting blood sugar (over 100)
  • High triglyceride level
  • Low HDL (good cholesterol)

Researchers looked at 1000 people in 2008 who didn’t have metabolic syndrome and rated them as slow eaters, normal eaters and fast eaters. Those who scarfed down their food were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome within 5 years.

Previously I discussed how our eating speed has helped fuel our obesity crisis.

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Fast food has become the staple of many American and European diets and we’ve seen obesity rise.  True more people take public or private transportation to work over walking, and many have given up smoking every time they had a hunger itch, but the most popular reason for our waistline increase is fast food.  But is it the caloric content of the fast food that’s fueling the obesity epidemic, or the speed at which its ingested?

What is Fast Food?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Fast Food is “food that can be prepared and served quickly”.  A burger, shake and fries is considered fast food but so is a take away salad or sandwich.  It’s implied that fast food is a meal that is not made fresh but made previously and preserved such that it can taste fresh when needed to be served.

How Caloric is Fast Food?

According to CalorieKing, a McDonald’s Big Mac is 540 calories.  A large order of fries is 510 calories.  So a meal over 1000 calories is obviously not the healthiest choice.

But let’s return back to the sandwich alone.  While a Big Mac is 540 calories, CalorieKing finds Chick-Fil-A’s Cobb Salad (without dressing) 500 calories.  Bob Evans Restaurant’s Cobb Salad is 516 calories.

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Now on the same site a Tuna Salad Sandwich (5 oz) w. mayo, 3 oz Bread is 679calories.

So are we becoming obese eating cobb salads and tuna salad for lunch just as one would eat a Big Mac?  We don’t know since people don’t study cobb and tuna salad eating consumers.  My guess is No.

Are we eating too fast?

Yes, and so fast that I believe it could be messing with our metabolism.

Think back to caveman days.  We had to chew.  And not on a soft sesame seed bun, but chew our meat.  Nuts and vegetables took a chewing as well.  Food was more scarce so it was savored and meals weren’t on the run while on a subway or at a stop light in one’s car.

Previous studies have shown that eating slowly and chewing it multiple times allow the body’s signals to trigger the satiety sensation sooner, hence one would eat less.

So gulping down a burger in 5 bites could be accomplished prior to the brain receiving the signal that it should be satisfied.

Now the metabolism issue.  Fast food could contain sugars, fats and preservatives that alter metabolism.  But eating on the run could cause metabolism issues in and of itself.

When a body senses that the food source is short-lived, unpredictable, and coming at a speed preventing proper absorption of nutrients, it may slow down metabolism to allow the body to make the most of what it has.  Eating a meal slow and methodical may be the most successful way to not only feel full but to eat less and lose weight.

I suggest a study be done looking at two groups of people eating the same food with the same caloric content but differing on the speed at which they eat it.

I suggest to you all to take an extra 15 minutes to complete your meal than what you’re accustomed to and determine if you see results after a few weeks.

Of course avoiding fast food would be the most beneficial for our weight but if you must eat fast food, eat it slowly.

 

                                                                                                         LearnHealthSpanish.com

                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

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