Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tylenol Deadly? Not according to this study!

I find it very interesting that there is such ranting against one of the safer medications available, like Tylenol, and very little against meds like Cerebrex, or the statin drugs and ibuprofen - both of which are much more taxing on the liver than tylenol.

The latest study found that (as the headline on MSNBC read) "Even a tiny overdose of tylenol can be deadly".
Doing the math on this one.... The single dose of 27 grams was equal to 27,000 MG! That much of anything can be deadly!

From Google's calculator: 1 gram = 1000 mg. Extra Strength tylenol = 0.75 grams per pill, not even a gram.

Now if those folks took 24 grams of tylenol over "several days" (how many days "several days" meant isn't mentioned) but say they mean 14 days so that's 24/14 = 1.7 grams a day or 1700 mg so... if they broke it up into 4 doses, that would be 425 mg per dose.

It's true that this is a tiny over dose - your liver can only handle 325 mg at a time.

But then, do we know what other drugs these folks had been taking? They could have been taking statin drugs which are very hard on the liver. Marajuana, medical or not, is hard on the liver. Splenda and Nutrasweet really tax the liver as does Alcohol - which can be a liver killer - did they sequester these folks and give them two weeks of a healthy diet to make sure their livers were "clean"? Seems not.
"Staggered overdose patients may have fared less well because they did not receive the appropriate treatment soon enough, or because they had been drinking alcohol along with acetaminophen, he said."
Looking at the study, we find that they took 663 patients over a 17 year period having liver problems. Then somehow accessed how much tylenol they'd been taking (probably from hospital records which would be what the people self reported and people tend to understate what meds especially OTC's they are taking).

Then, looked at how many died.

But one may ask, how do they know it was the tylenol which caused the damage since there are so many other medications and substances people use which also cause liver damage?
Epidemiological studies are notoriously inaccurate because they never have sufficient amount of information on the cohort to make a good analysis.

A good example of this is the deviation in the results of the epidemiological studies on low dose birth control (for hormone replacement therapy) which found that birth control hormones greatly lowered the risk for heart attack and stroke, and the clinical studies on birth control hormones for HRT which found that these hormones greatly raised the risk for heart attack, stroke and thrombosis as well as significantly raised the risk for breast cancer.

Epidemiological studies can be misleading in other ways - they often can be manipulated to conclusions desired by those funding the studies. For example if they asked how many of those folks rode bicycles when they were kids, they would likely find that most or all of them did. Using the logic of the study they could then, reason that riding a bicycle when you are a kid burns your liver as an adult! No wonder Phillip Johnson a doctor of law, quipped that if lawyers used the same logic as scientists, they'd be laughed out of court! :)

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine collapsed with a heart attack from the medication she was taking. She didn't tell me what it was but I suspect something like Celebrex which raises the risk for heart attack. She was fine and then, suddenly, she keeled over. Of course, she's 78 years old so she could have had a heart attack anyway even without the medications. Hard to tell. If we don't get something else, we will get a heart attack sooner or later. Age 78 is pretty close to the expected lifespan of women in the USA and she also has had a lot of stress in her life since she was forced to move several times etc.

My spiritual advisor, a Jesuit priest, on Warfarin, was found in a pool of blood - brain bleed. He died in the hospital 2 hours later. The reason he was on Warfarin was because 2 years before I met him, in his mid 70's, he had been put on Vioxx. After two weeks of no arthritis pain, he keeled over suddenly, with a heart attack. A fit, active man who rode his bicycle at least once a week or so, he didn't expect a heart attack and attributed it to the drug, but again, it could have been that the occasional exercise he got, wasn't enough to really protect his heart, plus the extreme stress he was under, trying to keep working and being forced to retire because of his age.

It's true the warfarin saved him from another heart attack. He died of a brain bleed instead. I remember his arms being a sort of purplish from the obvious internal bleeding going on. Warfarin is also still used as "rat poison". We must ask if it is compartimentalizing too much to say that we should give one drug which works well for what it's specified but produces side effects which can be equal or worse than that from while the person is being "saved".

Nancy Rogers, MD, in her book, NO MORE HEARTBURN, observed that medicine seems to all too often treat one thing which is broken in the body by breaking something else.
Epidemiological studies are advantageous for making good news headlines as they use large numbers of people in the cohort and most folks don't question how the study was constructed so being published all over the world in the news media can open the door for large grants for the the researching scientists. One scientist told me "of course epidemiological studies are baloney sausage, but if they come out with a result we like, then we use them." :( As ex-NASA climatologist reminded, "Scientists are human too!" (Roy Spencer, PhD, CLIMATE CONFUSION, NY 2008)
I like this recommendation in the article:
"Acetaminophen also appears in combination with other drugs in certain prescription products. In January the Food and Drug Administration asked all manufacturers of acetaminophen to lower the dose in a single tablet to 325 mg. Even at this dose, patients who took two tablets every four hours for 24 hours would be at risk for a staggered overdose, Lenchus said."
I hope this goes through. Lately I've only been able to find Tylenol Regular, 325 mg a pill in house brand. I agree here. 1 pill, 4 times a day is about all a person wants to take. Of the pain meds, Tylenol in the proper quantities is about the safest and a whole lot safer than aspirin (which to me, is like playing Russian Roulette because if you do get a brain bleed from aspirin, you have only a 20% chance of surviving). Not withstanding aspirin can also cause a severe gastrointestinal bleed (1 in 1000 says the Bayer company) and microbleeds in the brain (one UK study found that a large percentage of those who took the daily aspirin got these).

I think more than tylenol, that ibuprofen, statin drugs, alcohol and aspartame are what is a huge factor in the increased incidence of liver damage we are seeing. As for this study, it sounds rather poorly designed to me!

But it did make a good news story! Which is of course, the bottom line.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Essure birth control - miracle or not?

Listen to the ads on Essure (and read the website) and it sounds really great - a one time non surgical procedure which takes care of birth control forever.

The devil, as they say, is in the details. They call it "non surgical" because although it involves a procedure which has to be done in the doctor's office, there is no incision but in another way, it could be considered surgical because it's invasive - it's just that they go in through an opening already there - that's why no incision. And also, they are inserting a foreign medal object (two of them) into your body in order to cause an irritation in the tubes which go from the ovaries to the uterus in order to force your body to create scar tissue in the tubes and thus, in theory, block the tubes.

The way that is said delicately on the website is "your body forms natural barrier around the micro-inserts that prevents sperm from reaching the eggs". Well, yes, scar tissue is a natural reaction but the irritation which caused it is not natural at all and can be a health risk!

And if you are still ovulating, blocking your fallopian tubes like this can raise the risk for ectopic pregnancy, a condition which can be life threatening for the mother.

That is, it doesn't take very much for a sperm to sneak through the scar tissue if it isn't really a super strong barrier. (Sperm are very small).

Also, it must be causing some other problems because the side effects are listed as heavy bleeding during periods, dizziness and more, which according to not happy campers, continue long after the procedure. We are not told why it's causing these side effects but a page on FaceBook where unhappy Essure patients hang out, confirms that at least a percentage of women get these uncomfortable side effects. The cramps the Essure folks warn can happen are described by some as "stabbing pains in the abdomen"

The women who are not happy with the procedure (posting on the complaint site), all say they are sorry they ever had it done and since it's permanent and the only fallopian tubes they will ever have, have been ruined, unlike something like "tubal ligation", Essure cannot be undone. The nice doctors who performed the procedure in the first place (there are 150 of them in my area for example) apparently, according to these women, are not any help when they are suffering side effects and some complain that the fatigue, nausea and dizziness, heavy bleeding etc, are pretty disabling.

On one site, there are more complaints about Essure.

Another side effect which doesn't seem to be listed in the Essure material but which many complain about, is weight gain.

On the website, they admit that the claim of rendering a woman safe from pregnancy was made from tests of less than one year.

This procedure doesn't sound like a real good idea to me. Sold on the premises Americans love, of "fast and easy", it sounds like if your body objects, it can be difficult and painful.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do we sit too much?

Computers are great but problem is, we don't have to expend much energy using them (says she sitting in her easy chair writing this blog)! :)

Will sitting too much kill us? Well, it depends on how much we move otherwise and all of this is very unproven, anyway although if you listen to the scare tactics in the news, you might get the impression, it's well proven! hmmm. Fact remains, even with our cars, and sitting most of the time, we today, are living decades longer than our active ancestors. Perhaps one can go too far in getting upset about lifestyle? Just make sure you get in a 30 or more minute cardio workout daily or most days, and do get up from your desk every so often but even if you don't do this, you will likely live a lot longer than your active ancestors lived. Thank modern medicine - also modern nutrition, sanitation and a myriad of factors! :) At the link below are some good suggestions that those of us who sit a lot at computers can do to help our bodies and our hearts. Of course, they emphasize the "dangers" of obesity - they missed that there are no studies which found that obesity ALONE kills - ooops...and in re-visiting this infographic (which I originally put up here because the person asking me to do so was charming - ok...not the best reasoning...anyway, in re-visiting it, I find several things on it which are either unproven or questionable. Because of that I have removed the infographic but you can still view it at the link below. I think some of the info on it may be outdated or unproven. Take-away message - if you sit at work all day, get up from your chair, once every hour or so and walk around. During lunch or breaks, take a little walk - no evidence that you will survive longer than the office chair potato (cousin of the couch potato) but at least the exercise will invigorate you and send blood to the brain etc. i.e. it's all good! :)...

See InfoGraphic at: Infographic about sitting too much and the dangers thereof

Monday, May 2, 2011

Aging musicians have sharp brains

Did you study music as a kid or are you studying it now? I've never met anyone who was sorry they studied music but I've met quite a few people who tell me that they wished they had studied music or studied it longer! (the photo is of me in my 20's - I am still playing at the age of 66!)

Besides all the other benefits of musical study, here's a new one. Two scientists who tested a group of people with several levels of musical study, found that those who had studied music the longest, also did the best on cognitive tests - the type of tests that elderly usually don't do so well on. A news article on detailed the study.

Hanna-Pladdy and Alicia McKay, then both at the University of Kansas Medical Center, enrolled 70 individuals, aged 63-80 years old, in their study. Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, clinical neuropsychologist now at Emory University and lead researcher on the study commented that :

Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging. ... Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older.
Those with over 10 years of study, functioned the best, those with 1-10 years of study functioned the second best and the ones who functioned the least well were those with no musical training. All of the cohort were about the same fitness level and none had evidenced signs of Alzheimer's disease.

The study was published in the April 2011 issue of Neuropsychology Journal.

Dr Hanna-Pladdy did point out that more research is needed because they could not make a direct connection between musical training and better cognitive skills but the study results are interesting and makes sense to me - especially that I am an aging musician!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New York city not growing in population

Will the familiar skyline which has signaled the excitement of New York City, change as the lights go out, one by one?

Indications are if NY doesn't stop aborting many times more unborn babies than carrying to term, it might indeed change things and not in necessarily a way people will like.

In the past decade, according to statistics, NY has only increased a modest 2.1 percent since over 1 million potential citizens were aborted.

The following were listed in a Molecular Biologist's blog as the repercussion of virtually no population growth:

  • NY has lost 2 representatives for the House in Congress so the state has less voting power

  • Like Japan which is suffering a similar program, NY is beginning to experience a labor shortage

Scientifically speaking, a society which is not reproducing itself, is a society which will not survive. Of interest to Hispanics and African Americans, statistically, 79 percent of babies aborted are either Hispanic or African American. (And that was actually founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger's original plan - she wanted to eliminate those populations she thought "inferior").

Dr Nadal the blogger concludes by writing "we are dying out".

To read Dr Nadal's blog which is well cited, please click here.