Monthly Archives: May 2014

Stopping Statins for Terminal Patients a Safe Option: Study

FRIDAY, May 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) — A new study suggests that it’s safe and helpful to stop treating dying patients with the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.

Patients who were expected to live less than a year didn’t die any sooner after they stopped taking the drugs, and researchers report that their overall quality of life improved.

“Many doctors argue that, near the end of life, it is not necessary to continue medications for chronic illnesses that are not life-threatening. But we have no guidance on what medicines to stop and when to do so,” study author Dr. Amy Abernethy, a medical oncologist and palliative care specialist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said in a Duke news release. “Our study provides the first evidence that stopping statins is safe and improves patient quality of life.”

It can be helpful to reduce medications in the final year of life because terminally ill patients often have little appetite and difficulty swallowing. Medications can also cause side effects, especially when they interact with other drugs.

The researchers tracked 381 patients who had a life expectancy of a year or less and had been taking statins for at least three months. The patients were randomly assigned to continue taking the drugs or stop taking them.

The investigators found that stopping the drugs made little difference in terms of heart problems. Those who stopped taking statins actually lived longer (an average of 229 days compared to 190 days among those who didn’t stop the drugs).

“Discontinuing chronically administered medications near the end of life has limited study,” cancer researcher Dr. Patricia Ganz said in a statement provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). “However, now we have evidence that discontinuing certain medications is safe, specifically in the case of the widely prescribed statin drugs, and can improve quality of life for patients.”

The study is to be presented June 3 at the ASCO annual meeting, in Chicago. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Try the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more on statins.

Drug May Lower Odds of Early Menopause in Breast Cancer Patients

FRIDAY, May 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Adding a drug called goserelin to chemotherapy reduces the risk of early menopause in breast cancer patients and seems to improve survival, according to a new study.

Early menopause is one of the most upsetting side effects of chemotherapy among young breast cancer patients, the researchers noted.

The investigators found that adding goserelin to chemotherapy significantly reduced the risk of early menopause in breast cancer patients, and increased the chances that survivors could get pregnant and have a healthy baby later.

Goserelin (Zoladex) temporarily puts the ovaries “at rest” during chemotherapy, according to study senior author Dr. Kathy Albain, of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.

“We found that, in addition to reducing the risk of early menopause, and all of the symptoms that go along with menopause, goserelin was very safe and may even improve survival,” she said in a Loyola news release. “I think these findings are going to change our clinical practice.”

The study included 257 premenopausal women younger than 50 with early stage estrogen- or progesterone-receptor-negative breast cancers. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either standard chemotherapy or chemotherapy plus goserelin.

After two years, 45 percent of women in the chemotherapy-only group showed signs of early menopause, compared with just 20 percent of those in the chemo plus goserelin group. In addition, the authors noted, the pregnancy rate was 11 percent in the chemotherapy-only group and 21 percent in the goserelin group.

After four years, 89 percent of the women in the chemo plus goserelin group showed no signs or symptoms of cancer, compared with 78 percent of those in the chemotherapy-only group. Survival rates at four years were 92 percent in the goserelin group and 82 percent in the chemotherapy-only group, according to the report.

“Premenopausal women beginning chemotherapy for early breast cancer should consider this new option to prevent premature ovarian failure,” the study authors concluded.

The findings are scheduled for presentation Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held in Chicago. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Goserelin is an injection drug that is similar to a natural hormone made by the body. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of prostate cancer, certain benign gynecological conditions and certain breast cancers.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about breast cancer.

What gym bag do you use for before or after work?

What gym bag do you guys use to bring clothes to and from work? My friend and I go the the gym at 7am before work everyday and always have similar struggles about our business professional attire getting wrinkled or bunched up in the bag, it’s unorganized and a hassle to pack and unpack (take the bus so can’t hang in the car).

Wondering if anyone else has this problem or found a solution for this? He’s an engineer so he’s been talking non stop about “inventing a new gym bag”, I just want something that works!

Anybody like to check this newbie’s diary?!

Hi guys! :-)

So, as I’ve not long started with SW EE, I have been browsing all your food diaries on here to gain some tips and inspiration! Wondered whether someone would be able to look at mine, for past two days, and let me know what you think? :-)

WEDS 28th: –
B/FAST – Skinny cappuccino Muller Light, w/chopped blueberries & Strawberries (only a small handful)

LUNCH – cup Coffee w/SS milk (part of my HEa)
205g Heinz spaghetti hoops, 1 x sml wholemeal slice Hovis (no butter), w/fried egg (fry light)

TEA – SW easy chicken korma w/Pilau Rice (free) (recipe from latest SW mag!)

SNACKS – banana, tangerine

THURS 29th: –
B/FAST – 2 x wholewheat Hovis sml toast (unbuttered), 205g tin Heinz spaghetti hoops, poached egg, green tea

LUNCH – Muller Light coconut w/lime yoghurt, w/chopped strawberries (sml handful) & coffee w/SS milk

TEA – jacket potato (no butter) w/beans, grated mozzarella, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped up packet ham (4 slices), 1 x tblspn salad cream

SNACKS – Green tea (cup), tangerine

Sent from my C6603 using mobile app

Many Pets Are Too Plump

THURSDAY, May 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Much like their human companions, many of America’s pets are overweight.

Just over half of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, and 58 percent of cats are carrying too many pounds, according to a survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

And, like people, animals can face health consequences from excess weight.

“Overweight animals also have certain health issues,” said Dr. Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor in the department of clinical sciences and veterinarian at the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center, in a university news release.

Excess weight “can aggravate joint disease. It can lead to type 2 diabetes. It can aggravate heart conditions, and it can lead to skin diseases as folds in the pet’s skin get bigger. It can even shorten their life span,” noted Nelson.

How can you know if your pet is overweight? You may not be able to tell by appearance alone, since pets can appear to be in good shape even when they aren’t.

At the appropriate weight, Nelson said, pets should only have a thin layer of fat over their ribs and show an hourglass shape from above. If you have a long-haired pet, it may be best to do this when your dog is wet.

Nelson also recommends using a measuring cup to figure out how many calories your pet is eating each day. It’s also important to re-check that information every time you switch brands or types of food since calories may vary as much as 200 to 300 per cup between different brands or types of food, she said.

Calorie information should be available via the bag or can of pet food. If you can’t find calorie details on the packaging, contact the manufacturer.

Be cautious about the suggested amount of food for your pet, Nelson said. “In the testing facilities, these animals are typically mandated to have a certain amount of exercise per day because they are research animals,” she said. “In reality, a lot of the pets that we own don’t get as much exercise as those dogs and cats in the research facilities.”

Nelson suggests cutting back on treats too, keeping them to no more than 10 percent of your pet’s diet. And exercise your pet 20 to 30 minutes per day, if possible.

Exercising dogs is usually simple, but what about cats?

“You can try scattering the food around in small portions throughout the house so that they have to hunt for it and get more exercise that way, or you can place the food in a location where the cat has to go up and down stairs,” Nelson said. “There are also items call food puzzles that you fill with food and the pet needs to work at it to slowly retrieve the kibble.”

If you think your pet is overweight, it’s important to consult your veterinarian before putting your pet on a weight-loss regimen, Nelson cautioned.

More information

To learn more about excess weight in dogs, go to the ASPCA.

Why the Typical Heroin User is Now a Middle-Class Suburbanite

Why the Typical Heroin User is Now a Middle-Class Suburbanite

May 29, 2014 | By Health Editor


By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Today’s typical heroin user is a middle-class suburban dweller who started off with prescription painkillers, a new study reports.

Once mainly a problem of teens living in impoverished neighborhoods in large cities, heroin use now more commonly affects whites in their early 20s, according to research published online May 28 in JAMA Psychiatry.

“There really has been a shift, in just the past five years or so. There’s been a migration (of heroin abuse) to the suburbs,” said lead researcher Theodore Cicero, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis.

Cicero added that the current findings weren’t unexpected. “This is verifying, in a systematic way, what we’ve suspected,” he said.

The shift of heroin use to the suburbs appears to be mainly related to abuse of prescription narcotics such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and fentanyl (Duragesic). A “subset” of people prescribed those medications become addicted, cannot afford to keep abusing the pricey drugs, and then switch to heroin, Cicero said.

That didn’t happen before the 1990s because doctors weren’t prescribing powerful narcotics, explained Dr. Herbert Kleber, an addiction expert at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

“For years, a lot of people in pain couldn’t get adequate relief,” Kleber said. “Then in the 1990s, there was a rebellion against that. Pain became the ‘fifth vital sign’ in medicine.”

That meant that many more pain patients got legitimate prescriptions. A side effect, though, was that prescription painkiller abuse and overdose shot up, Kleber noted.

U.S. sales of prescription narcotics rose 300 percent between 1999 and 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, drug overdose deaths tripled during roughly the same time period — largely due to prescription narcotics.

And, then there’s the issue of prescription narcotic abusers switching to heroin. Media reports have highlighted the problem, Cicero said, but the new findings give it scientific weight.

For the study, the researchers used data from a survey of almost 2,800 U.S. patients undergoing treatment for heroin abuse. They found that patients who’d begun using heroin back in the 1960s were mostly men who’d chosen heroin as their first drug of abuse — usually as teenagers. Just over half were white.

That profile shifted over time, however — especially during the 1990s. And by 2010, about 90 percent of recently initiated heroin abusers were white, and half were women. The average age of today’s heroin user was 22.9 years old. And, 75 percent lived in “less urban” areas, according to the study.

Three-quarters of people who began abusing heroin after 2000 only did so after they were hooked on prescription painkillers.

In interviews with the researchers, 54 study participants talked about their motivations to switch to heroin: It’s cheap and easy to get.

“The heroin dealer has changed from the stereotypical image of a guy on a dark street corner in a bad neighborhood,” Cicero said.

Instead, people reported getting heroin from middle-class neighbors or classmates. And the price tag added to the allure.

On the street, OxyContin can run up to $80 for a pill — while heroin can be as cheap as $6 for a bag, Kleber noted.

What’s “scary,” Cicero said, is that injecting heroin carries risks beyond those of abusing narcotic pills — including the risk of infection from sharing needles, and the potentially fatal effects of injecting a substance that may not be pure or sterile.

That said, both Cicero and Kleber stressed that the findings are not a reason to deny painkiller prescriptions to people who need them.

“Very few” people who take the medications for legitimate reasons are going to become heroin addicts, Cicero pointed out. “The average patient doesn’t need to worry about that,” he said.

Another addiction expert said the study is limited by the fact that it included only heroin abusers seeking treatment at around 150 centers. It’s not clear how “socioeconomically diverse” that group of people might be, said Janina Kean, president of the High Watch Recovery Center, a drug rehab facility in Kent, Conn.

However, she agreed that heroin is now entrenched in the suburbs.

The bigger issue, Kean said, is that “in this country, we are still not adequately treating a serious chronic disease, which is addiction.”

In this study, some heroin abusers said they didn’t, at first, see themselves as addicts because they did not fit the stereotypical “junkie” image. Kean said people need to be educated on what addiction really looks like.

“There’s so much stigma around it,” she said. “And stigma is a barrier to treatment.”

More information

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has more on substance abuse treatment.