Farah & Farah February 2016 Newsletter

Posted on February 3, 2016

Common OTC Heartburn Drug Warning

Everyone has seen the ads on television.  A rather portly man shoving a huge meat sandwich in his mouth then complaining of heartburn. What does he do? He reaches for an over-the-counter medication. Take a pill to cure your ill.

If only it were that simple.  

A recently published study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health pokes a hole in the use of these popular drugs to treat indigestion, acid reflux and heartburn. They are known as proton pump inhibitors or PPIs.  You may know them as Nexium, the little purple pill made by AstraZeneca; Prilosec, advertised by Larry the cable guy (AstraZeneca); and Prevacid (Novartis). 

The study links the use of PPIs to an elevated risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

This is a concern because an estimated 15 million Americans takes these drugs both over-the-counter and by prescription to a tune of $10 billion in 2013. Johns Hopkins researchers believe we may be prescribing and using these medications too often and too casually.

First prescribed in the 1980s, there has been rising concern about the safety of PPIs. They have been linked to infections, heart problems and bone fractures.  In conducting their study, epidemiologist Morgan Grams of Johns Hopkins looked at the records of more than 10,000 patients who were part of the Arthrosclerosis Risk in Communities study and 248,000 in the Geisinger Health System of Pennsylvania. 

They found an 11.8 percent estimated absolute risk for chronic kidney disease after ten years in 322 patients using PPIs.  That was not expected. The expected risk would have been 8.5 percent.  The ten year absolute risk among 16,900 patients in Geisinger Health System was 15.6 percent, nearly two percentage points about what was expected. 

That is a 20 to 50 percent increased risk of kidney disease. This is a correlation, not a causation, stresses Grams.

The precaution is to take OTC PPIs no more than 3 times a year for up to fourteen days and prescription drugs up to eight weeks.  Twice a day dosing was associated with a higher risk than a once a day pill.

The general consensus in a story done for NBC News is to change your diet. Dr. Jonathan Aviv, has authored book on acid reflux and talking to NBC he says he prescribes the drugs but he believes food is the answer — change your diet, making it less acidic. Avoid coffee as it is an acidic food as are berries and chocolate, for 28 days and see a difference.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, February 2016.  #

Sources:  http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2481157,   http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm213259.htm,  http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm213259.htm;  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/11/462423759/popular-acid-reflux-drugs-are-linked-to-kidney-disease-risk;   http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/heartburn-medicine-linked-to-chronic-kidney-disease-risk-study-shows-618929731773

State of Emergency in Seven Florida Counties over Zika Virus

Gov. Rick Scott has declared a health emergency in Florida after nine cases of the Zika virus were detected in four counties. A few days after that announcement, Gov. Scott expanded the state of emergency to seven Florida counties.

That is the mosquito-borne illness that affects children most severely. Children born of mothers bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus may be born with microcephaly, a brain deformity characterized by a diminished capacities and a small skull, especially above the eyes.  Pregnant women are at risk during the entire 40 weeks of pregnancy and women who might become pregnant also could be at risk.

The virus, when transmitted through an infected mosquito, can mimic the flu with symptoms such as a headache, muscle aches, joint pain, a rash, fever and conjunctivitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many may not realize they are suffering from a Zika virus because the symptoms are so mild.

The counties affected are Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Lee, Osceola, St. Johns and Santa Rosa counties. Mosquito control will be the first line of defense there and health officials warn everyone to use mosquito repellent.

Besides Florida, over 30 cases of the Zika virus have been found in the U.S. in New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Delaware, Texas and Massachusetts.

In Florida it’s believed the nine cases came from people who had recently travelled to countries where the virus is prevalent, especially Brazil.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared this an international emergency because of the rapid spread of the virus. It was the WHO that put together the arrival of the Zika virus and the surge in the babies born with the brain deformity, though there is no definite causation established.

The virus is now found in 22 countries outside of Brazil and the WHO predicts there could be upward of four million cases of the Zika virus in Central and South America in 2016.  The CDC advises pregnant women to avoid travel to those 22 countries.  Women in El Salvador are warned not to get pregnant for two years due to the outbreak.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the carrier of the virus. It is transmitted when the bug bites an infected person and then bites another person.

The CDC has activated the highest level of emergency operations because of the risk of transmission in the U.S. That is a level of response only seen after Hurricane Katrina, Ebola and the H1N1 influenza.

Why Zika virus developed is also a mystery. It was originally discovered in the Ugandan forest, and was focused in southeast Asia, but is now found predominately in Central and South America.  It’s thought that it could be a mutation to a virus that made it easier to transmit. Zika comes from the same family as the West Nile virus, dengue and yellow fever.

In early February, the CDC confirmed a sexually transmitted case of Zika from a man who had recently traveled from Venezuela back to Texas where he infected his partner who had not travelled out of the country. The virus can remain in the blood for about a week but it is not now known if it remains in the semen, according to the CDC. The good news, if there is any, is that only about one in five people infected will actually become ill with the Zika virus.

There is a vaccine in the works, but presently none exists. #

http://health.wusf.usf.edu/#stream/0;  http://www.dallascounty.org/department/hhs/press/documents/PR2-2-16DCHHSReportsFirstCaseofZikaVirusThroughSexualTransmission.pdf;  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/zika-virus-outbreak-updates-florida-expands-state-emergency/story?id=36806853

Did Boston Scientific Smuggle Pelvic Mesh from China?

It reads like a thrilling tale of corporate crime.  A multinational company, one of the largest manufacturers of pelvic mesh, is cut off of its supply of raw plastic resin by its U.S. supplier so it secretly smuggles counterfeit raw resin in from China avoiding detection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

That is the contention of a recently filed class action lawsuit and it if is true, it raises serious questions about the counterfeit mesh and its ingredients implanted in thousands of unsuspecting women.

The class action suit was recently filed in Charleston, West Virginia where there are 87,000 product liability cases naming seven different manufacturers of pelvic mesh. That is implanted in women permanently to hold up a bladder, uterus or urethra.

This action is separate from the thousands of product liability lawsuits and is a class action with hundreds of participants, led by plaintiff Teresa Stevens of West Virginia. She suffered from stress urinary incontinence and was implanted with the Boston Scientific Obtryx-Halo Urethral Sling System in October 27, 2014.  She believes her implant was made with the contaminated mesh from China.

About 55,000 women a year are still implanted with this plastic mesh despite the thousands of defective product lawsuits.

The story reads like this. Boston Scientific bought polypropylene resin, the polymer that makes surgical mesh, from EMAI Plastic Raw Materials from Guangzhou, China. That is not the Marlex HGX-030-01 that the Food and Drug Administration approved as part of Boston Scientific’s application to sell its mesh.  China is known to sell inferior products to U.S. consumers. Dog food was tainted with melamine as was baby formula, cadmium, a known carcinogen, was discovered in children’s jewelry from China that was recalled in the U.S.

When supplies of Marlex ran short in the U.S., the company went to smuggle counterfeit Marlex out of China from June 2011 through the fall of 2012. The resin was sent to a factory in Belgium to produce fibers and then sent to a plant in Ireland to make the counterfeit mesh. Those companies are also named in the action as is a plant in Indiana where the final knitting the mesh takes place.  Because 30,000 pounds were smuggled it’s alleged the mesh products made after that time were constructed of the counterfeit Chinese mesh.

That could be very bad news for women who have recently received a pelvic mesh from Boston Scientific. A temporary restraining order has been issued so Boston Scientific doesn’t destroy documents in its control that can fill in the very bad facts that are unfolding for this company and its shareholders. #

Sources: www.meshnewsdesk.com

Still Ahead:


Girls are not receiving their HPV vaccines unless they are from Hispanic communities.


JAMA on bicycle injuries
More Americans want to bike on city streets and elsewhere but hospital admission rate, especially among those 45 and older, shows it’s not always a safe alternative transportation.

Teens who consume energy drinks more likely to be injured

What Rockstar Energy Drink can do to your body
http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-energy-drink-rockstar-heart-20151109-story.html;   http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=2469194

According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, a single can of Rockstar energy drink raised blood pressure and can incite your fight or flight hormone all within 30 minutes. A single 16 ounce can has 240 mg of caffeine and 2,000 mg of taurine. Also included is guarana seed, an energy booster, ginseng root and milk thistle extract. Mayo Clinic also served a placebo energy drink to 25 volunteers on another day. With an average age of 29, all were in good health and none were on medication.  Thirty minutes after consuming Rockstar their systolic blood pressure was up about 6 percent with about three additional beats per minute.  The real difference was in the nearly doubling of the amount of norepinephrine after drinking Rockstar. The precursor of adrenalin, that is linked to cardiovascular.   

Popcorn lung disease tied to e cigarettes

Environmental Health Perspectives is reporting that a flavoring compound added to Electronic cigarettes is suspected of causing respiratory problems.

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