Archive for the “Medicine” Category


This is me finishing the Los Angeles Marathon in 2011

No, according to a new study.

Despite well-publicized stories of people dropping dead during or after running a marathon, the race isn’t all that risky, researchers found.

Among nearly 11 million marathoners and half-marathoners, only 59 went into cardiac arrest during a race, for an incidence rate of just 0.54 per 100,000 participants, Aaron Baggish, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Event rates among marathon and half-marathon runners are relatively low, as compared with other athletic populations, including collegiate athletes, triathlon participants, and previously healthy middle-aged joggers,” they wrote.

Men, however, were more likely to have an event than women, they noted.

In 2010, about two million people around the U.S. ran long-distance races, a figure that more than doubled from 10 years prior. But that growth has been accompanied by a rise in race-related heart problems and in news headlines about the risk of sudden death.

So the researchers created the Race Associated Cardiac Arrest Event Registry (RACER) to assess the incidence and outcomes of cardiac arrest associated with long-distance races in the U.S. between Jan. 1, 2000 and May 31, 2010.

The database included a total of 10.9 million runners; only 59 had suffered a cardiac arrest, for an overall incidence rate of 0.54 per 100,000 participants, the researchers reported. Their median age was 42.

A total of 71% of those cases were fatal.

As expected, rates of cardiac arrest were significantly higher during marathons than half-marathons (1.01 versus 0.27 per 100,000, respectively, P<0.001), as was the incidence of sudden death (0.63 versus 0.25 per 100,000, P=0.003).

I will be run/walk/running my 8th Los Angeles Marathon on March 18th.

By the way, I have already been cleared to run the race by my physician.

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According to a new study.

Women who have non-melanoma skin cancers are more likely to have smoked cigarettes compared to women without skin cancer, said researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., who published study results in a recent issue of Cancer Causes Control.

The researchers concluded that:

  •     Cigarette smoking was associated with non-melanoma skin cancer, and the risk increased with increasing dose (cigarettes per day) and number of years smoked.
  •     Among men, smoking was modestly associated with BCC andSCC.
  •     Among women, smoking was strongly associated with SCC, but not BCC.

So, if you don’t smoke, don’t start.

If you do smoke, cut back and then quit….

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According to a new study.

Chewing gum containing xylitol may actually prevent ear infections in kids, researchers say.

In a meta-analysis of three Finnish studies, children who chewed gum — or took other products laden with xylitol, including lozenges or syrup — had about a 25% lower risk of developing acute otitis media compared with control interventions, Amir Azarpazhooh, DMD, of the University of Toronto, and colleagues reported in Cochrane Reviews.

“Based on the studies we reviewed, xylitol seems to be a promising alternative to conventional therapies to prevent acute otitis media among healthy children,” they wrote.

Acute otitis media is the most common infection for which kids are treated with antibiotics, which has spurred concerns over antibiotic resistance. So researchers have searched for alternative means of prevention or treatment, not all of which have been successful.

Xylitol, or birch sugar, has been one such alternative. It’s a five-carbon polyol sugar alcohol found in a number of fruits, which has been shown to inhibit the growth and acid production of certain bacteria, particularly S. mutans.

It is for this feature that some dentists recommend it for preventing cavities, the researchers said.

Since a key step in the pathogenesis of otitis media is the colonization of the upper airway with bacteria that move from the nasopharynx to the middle ear via the eustachian tubes, the researchers hypothesized that it may be effective for preventing middle ear infections.

A win – win here. Prevent tooth decay and ear infections.

Hey, a lot better than taking massive amounts of antibiotics.

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 How great would a vaccine be against these horrible diseases.

And, a new vaccine is showing some promise.

 A vaccine that coaxes the body to attack tumor cells has shown promise in a small study of advanced breast and ovarian cancer patients, improving overall survival times and stopping the disease for a handful of breast cancer patients.

The PANVAC vaccine, administered to 26 women through monthly shots, helped the body’s immune system recognize proteins produced specifically by cancer cells, said study author Dr. James Gulley, director and deputy chief of the clinical trials group at the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

All of the women had breast or ovarian cancer that had spread to other organs and were considered “heavily pre-treated” with other therapies, with 21 having received at least three chemotherapy regimens. In addition to the four breast cancer patients whose disease stopped progressing, one woman with breast cancer experienced a “complete response,” meaning her cancer disappeared.

The study is published Nov. 8 in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Let’s be hopeful that work progresses on this vaccine and that it is made widely available as soon as possible.

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Tongue Cancer

For the first time, cancer is the number one cause of death in Canada.

For the first time, cancer has overtaken heart disease as the number-one cause of death across Canada, according to the latest statistics here [1].

According to numbers released yesterday, cancer accounted for 29.6% of deaths (70 558) in 2008–the latest year for which stats have been made available by heath authorities. Heart disease caused 21.3% of deaths (50 722).

Stroke, in third place, caused 5.8% (13 870) of deaths.

Statistics from the previous year had cancer leading heart disease in every province and territory with the exception of Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories. In the 2008 statistics, heart disease has now moved into second place in every province/territory, with the exception of Nunavut, where suicide ranks second.

Between 2007 and 2008, cancer deaths climbed 1.4% nationally, continuing a trend seen since 2000. By contrast, heart-disease deaths declined between 2000 and 2006 but actually crept upward between 2007 and 2008.

In the United States, heart disease is still the leading cause of death.

Preliminary US numbers published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that heart disease was still the leading cause of death for both 2008 and 2009, followed by malignant neoplasms, with both diseases declining in this period, although that decline was three times greater for heart disease [2].

Now, if we can work on obesity and diabetes, we can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease even further.

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