Category Archives: Prevention

Health: Foods That Fight Inflammation (Harvard)

HARVARD STUDY: VITAMIN D LOWERS THE RISK OF YOUNG-ONSET COLORECTAL CANCER

COMMENTARY:

Vitamin D has many beneficial effects, but my comments will be restricted to the effect of vitamin D on cancer.

Interest in this association was started by the observation that certain cancers are less common near the equator, where there is more sunlight exposure, and therefore more natural vitamin D generation in your skin.
The most information on cancer in humans Is available on colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Colorectal cancer, highlighted DWW our posting, is the only cancer that apparently is affected by vitamin D.

Several studies have suggested that vitamin D can decrease cancer cell growth, stimulate cell death, and reduce cancer blood vessel formation. Increasing cell death, or apoptosis, is what interests me the most, since this is one of the factors which increases inflammation in aging.

The infographics stated that only 300 international units of vitamin D is necessary to produce a 50 Percent reduction in cancer, and that a healthy diet generally supplies this.

I personally take 5000 international units vitamin D. This produces a blood level of about 60 ng/mL, and what the NFL recommends to keep their players healthy, and well within the maximum recommended level of 120 ng/milliliter.

Excessive vitamin D can produce an elevated calcium blood level, and mine is within normal limits. I take the higher dose because of vitamin D’s other effects, such is benefiting the immune system in a time of Conid-19.

I suggest that you get a vitamin D blood level, and also a calcium blood level if you elect to take more of this useful vitamin.

–Dr. C

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Hypothyroidism: TSH Test First, Then Hormone Test

SCIENCE: CLEANING INDOOR AIR WILL IMPROVE HUMAN HEALTH AND COGNITION

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COMMENTARY:

Joseph Allen, the “air investigator”, was apparently on board early in the COVID-19 epidemic, stressing the importance of suspended  air particulates, less than 2 microns in size, causing transmission of the disease.

His article in Science: “clean indoor air will improve human health and cognition” is well worth reading, or at least inspecting the info graphic. As a practicing allergist, I was aware that inside dust mite particles and mold spores made allergies worse. We had a service where we would go into homes and sample the air. An excess of certain Indoor mold spores, compared with those outside, would indicate a “problem home”. We would then try to find the water leakage source that produced the molds.

I also had a patient who could not tolerate a new house, with its carpets and other artificial materials. The only place where she felt better was in an old seaside house 100 miles south of San Francisco. I thought there were some psychological factors, but who knows? Volatile organic compounds, VOCs, probably affect some people more severely.

Beginning shortly after the energy crisis in the 80s, the “sick building syndrome”, characterized by headache and fatigue in certain buildings, was on the news. The eventual solution was to create better ventilation, with a reduction of CO2 and VOCs in those buildings. In addition, federal agencies began banning certain artificial  fabrics that out-gassed VOCs.

There was eventually less talk about sick building syndrome, except for the occasional air system which was contaminated with Legionella bacteria.

The present article stresses accumulation of CO2 and VOCs In the stale air in the individual home or office as a cause of diminished attention and productivity.

CO2 monitors still cost about $200, and so I think I am going to just try to increase the ventilation in my office, where I get sleepy in the afternoon, by opening the windows and sliding doors. I wonder about  the indoor CO2 in Scandinavian winters, where depression is increased.

—Dr. C.

DEPRESSION: HOW KETAMINE CAN HELP (YALE MEDICINE)

Depression is one of the most common and most debilitating mental health disorders, affecting some 17 million adults in the US. It also continues to be a misunderstood, often hard-to-treat illness. Researchers have worked for decades to better understand the neurobiology underpinning depression.

For patients with severe, treatment-resistant depression, spending months or even years searching for good treatments can be totally disabling. The prevailing hypothesis for years was that depression was regulated by the neurotransmitter’s serotonin and norepinephrine.

Eventually, data began to suggest that maybe something much larger and more global was involved in the brain to account for depression, which led researchers to begin working with glutamate and GABA, the most abundant neurotransmitters in the brain. These chemicals are involved in neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to adapt to change and protect itself against stressful events.

Neuroplasticity is a physical thing, too: it manifests itself “in terms of synapses, how these neurons are actually touching each other and communicating with each other,” explains Gerard Sanacora, PhD, MD, Director of the Yale Depression Research Program. “And we know that in depression, the number and strength of these interconnections decreases,” says Rachel Katz, MD, a professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Yale.

Ketamine – originally developed and still used as an anesthetic – works on those two neurotransmitters and was discovered to have rapid antidepressant effects. Some experience an improvement in symptoms in 24 hours or less. “We think that one of the things that Ketamine does, that helps to explain its antidepressant effects, is help the brain to regrow the synapses, the connections between nerve cells,” says John Krystal, MD, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale.

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Melanoma: How To Catch Skin Cancer Early (Mayo)

Dr. C’s Journal: Risks & Symptoms Of Heatstroke

We humans, in common with all mammals and birds, are homeothermic; we defend a body temperature of approximately 98.6 F.. When we are cold, we shiver to warm up. If we get too cold, such as being in 50° water temperature for 50 minutes, we have a 50% chance of dying. When we are warm, we sweat . When we get too warm, and our core body temperature rises above a critical point, approximately 105°, we may die.
This article is about HEAT EXHAUSTION, which is very topical, considering the season and the recent “heat dome” in the Pacific Northwest, not to mention global warming.

Our main defense against heat is to sweat. The water in sweat has a very high heat capacity. Changing sweat into water vapor requires a lot of heat, which is gratefully donated by the person who is too hot. Too much water vapor in the air, a high relative humidity, decreases the rate of evaporation, and therefore of Cooling. The critical measurement to warn us of Environmental overheating danger is the WET-BULB THERMOMETER,  which is used in tandem with the regular, dry bulb thermometer to calculate the relative humidity.

To give perspective, the wet bulb thermometer reached 77° And the dry bulb thermometer read 116° in the pacific northwest, associated with 118 fatalities. In 2003, when Europe was hit by a heat wave, the wet bulb thermometer reached 82.4°, associated with 30,000 deaths.
When it Feels hot (check the heat index), which is related to both the temperature and the relative humidity, you should start to worry. You should drink extra fluids, wear loose fitting clothes, stay out of the direct sun, avoid sunburn, exercise in the cool of the morning and night, not during the heat of the day, avoid closed vehicles, especially for children, and don’t get sunburned, which decreases the ability of the skin to produce sweat.

Certain groups have more risk, such as very young or old age, the obese, and  diabetics. Certain drugs, such as Alcohol, diuretics and beta blockers are factors.

Some typical symptoms are heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, and headache. If you are hot, and think you might be experiencing heat exhaustion, you should stop all activity, move to a colder shaded place, and drink cool water or sports drinks.

If you’re caring for somebody, you should worry about confusion, agitation, and other central nervous system symptoms; the brain, together with the heart, kidneys and muscles are very susceptible to overheating.

Rectal temperature is the most reliable, and if it gets to 104°, immediate cooling is necessary, even packing in ice. Don’t bother to use aspirin, since it does not work with heat exhaustion. If coma or seizures develop, and the patient is diagnosed with a heat stroke, the fatality rate and long-term neurological complications are grave.

Please read the excellent article by Joe Craven McGinty in the July 10 Wall Street Journal, or the accompanying mayo clinic article. And stay Cool!

—Dr. C.

Heatstroke article in WSJ

DIABETES: HOW TO AVOID HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES