Risky, Cannabis and Your Heart

It is well known that the ‘pot’ (‘skunk’ to some) your grandmother enjoyed was much less potent than today’s strains.

Risky-Cannabis and your Heart

Along with interacting with prescribed medications, cannabis can affect your heart. No matter if it is smoked, vaped, or eaten. Some presume eating cannabis is safe not so,  also with more and more vaping associated lung problems have arisen.

Like most drugs, cannabis is broken down in the liver, where so many medications such as blood thinners, and heart drugs also are.

While research including from the American Heart Association touts the positive effect of cannabis on pain, there is a dark side. A study out of Canada’s University of Toronto found an increased incidence of a heart attack in certain users. Pretty serious!

The Numbers

-Health data from over 33,000 adults

-Ages 18 to 44 included in US CDC Prevention surveys(2017-18). 

-Of the 17% of adults who reported using cannabis within the previous month, 

1.3% later had a heart attack while only 0.8% of non-cannabis users reported the same.

This study did not specifically research the exact mechanism for cannabiss’ affects the heart, however previous research had shown, this drug can affect the user’s heart rate. Irregular heartbeats effect oxygen consumption by the heart muscle, any mismatch can precipitate a cardiac event. ‘Adults under 45 years old who consumed cannabis within the last 30 days, suffered from nearly double the number of heart attacks than adults who didn’t use the drug’, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

In any therapy,  a health care person must weigh the merit versus the risk of procedure or medication. 

Myocarditis Side Effect, Less Likely From Vaccine Than From COVID-19 Illness

Side effects from contracting COVID-19 leave one with more side effects and the possibility of being a ‘long hauler’.  A study out of Israel of over 880,000 mRNA vaccinated individuals, (Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162B2) compared side effects with an equal number of unvaccinated individuals.

They studied, rates of the 25 potential adverse events within three weeks following either vaccine dose.

Note – Previous studies relied on voluntary reporting by individuals who receive the vaccine.

This blog looks at Myocarditis as one adverse event. Findings revealed vaccine was found to be safe: 

  •  Out of 25 potential side effects examined, 4 were found to have a strong association with the vaccine.

  • Myocarditis was found to be associated with the vaccine, but only at the rate of 2.7 cases per 100,000 vaccinated individuals over the rate that naturally happens in the population (males ages 20-34 most affected).  

  • Myocarditis in unvaccinated COVID-19 infected individuals was 11 excess cases of myocarditis per 100,000 over occurrences in the general population.

Sicker with COVID-19, Also More Dangerous To Others

Sicker with COVID-19 Also More Dangerous To Others

A recent publication in JAMA Internal Medicine supports the idea that if a person with COVID-19 is sicker, they are more contagious compared to asymptomatic cases. One is most likely to spread the virus to close contacts two days before the onset of symptoms to three days after symptoms appear. The risk of transmission is highest when patients had mild or moderate disease severity, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Georgia. Conversely asymptomatic cases had lower transmissibility. Maybe it is not a surprise? 

Data were drawn from a China study of 730 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, between Jan. 8, 2020, and July 30, 2020. In-depth study w contract tracing. This resulted in finding 8,852 close contacts. To date, this is one of the largest contact tracing studies.

Deceptive Recovery From COVID-19

More than 175 million people worldwide have been infected after a year, and over 3.8 million people have died from the COVID-19 at this posting date.

Plenty of data for study and boy have researchers be mining the reports. A review of all publications that studied more than 100 patients for long covid symptoms revealed a slew (50) long-term effects from this viral illness. In total 15 studies were included for this systematic review. There were eight studies from Europe and UK, three from the USA, one each from Australia, China, Egypt, and Mexico. Adults ranging from 17 to 87 years of age were studied. After initially recovering, persistent symptoms can start after 14-110 days. Published August 9, 2021, in Scientific Reports  

The review found the five most common symptoms noted were fatigue (58%), headache (44%), attention disorder (27%), hair loss (25%), and dyspnea (24%). It is estimated that up to 80% of recovered patients develop one or more long-term problems. If you have a mild case or severe case it appears from patient symptom tracking that weeks to months later abnormal signs or symptoms can appear.

The lasting effects, at any point in the illness, will not be known and so far can’t be predicted nor guessed. Even what term is used to refer to the condition is so different in the literature. Examples used include: long, post, persistent, chronic, ongoing, post-acute, ongoing. 

An agreement must be arrived at, also what precisely defines the condition. In so doing all studies can become more valuable. Questions to be answered include does it just not totally go away? Does one recover totally then symptoms new or similar to illness occur? How do you or medical tests determine you totally recover? If you have a mild case or severe case it appears from patient symptom tracking that weeks to months later abnormal signs or symptoms can appear. 

Compounding the inconsistencies within the medical community are all the social media postings by individuals who have ‘recovered’ or ‘not recovered’. Is a negative test equal recovery – end of?  Presence of antibodies in your blood means recovery? No, we are not that naive, this virus starts things/processes within our body that can appear later after our antibodies have neutralized or blocked the SARS-CoV-2 virus. I believe this and that this virus is a trigger itself or our own defenses go a bit haywire. In each of us, it will be different.

Characteristically, ‘breakthrough’ infections (occurring in vaccinated individuals) result in mild to moderate symptoms or no symptoms at all. Remember most people recover from mild to moderate COVID-19 in a few weeks. ‘Long Covid’ is a baffling set of symptoms — brain fog, fatigue, and muscle pain are very much a possibility in ‘breakthrough’ cases.

Screen Time Definitely Harmful For Teens

Researchers have linked effects of screen time to adolescents’ mental health. Times exceeding two hours a day for girls and four hours a day for boys were found to lead to negative effects.

UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences researcher underwent a global study of more than 577,000 adolescents aged 13 to 15 years across 42 high-income countries. Data gathered revealed, while there was some benefit to the first hour of viewing, after 75 min. in girls and 105 min. in boys, detrimental effects occurred. Excess negative effects can include depression, obesity, poor quality of life, unhealthy diet, and decreased physical and cognitive abilities. For this study screen time did not include educational (schooling) screen time. This study was only just published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health

The study arrived at a formula of ‘one hour of physical activity and no more than two hours of screen time a day provided optimal mental wellbeing’.

Lack of physical activity, social connection, and skills occur and can have a negative effect on global wellbeing and individual mental health.

 

 

COVID-19 Vaccine + Flu Vaccine Helps

Last year I blogged that taking the flu vaccine may help with contracting COVID-19, well enough time has passed and data has been collected to suggest. Yes, physicians/scientists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine after reviewing over 74,000 patients files from around the world, published that the flu vaccine may provide protection against COVID-19.

Their deduction after studying charts from vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID-19 patients: in unvaccinated (recall Vaccines approved Dec. 2020) individuals who received the flu vaccine, COVID-19 infections were less likely to have the complications of a stroke, sepsis, and DVT. Those who had both vaccines (against SARS-CoV-2 and flu) and developed breakthrough COVID-19, were less likely to visit the ER or be admitted to ICU. Remember the SARS- CoV-2 vaccine prevents – to varying degrees dependent on which vaccine you receive – contracting a severe case or dying from the illness.

Everything I just stated is from a retrospective study, no definite cause and effect but the probable likelihood is assumed.

Flu activity was unusually low throughout the 2020-2021 flu season both in the United States and globally. Please visit CDC Flu resource and read 2021-2022 information. Plan your flu shot for October so your immunity is present when flu season is at its peak.

 

Are Antioxidant Supplements Senseless?

Are Antioxidant Supplements Senseless?So much of medical beliefs and practices come as a result of lab studies, some just done in a test tube, others tested in ‘lab animals’. The conviction that ‘supplements’ especially antioxidants have merit in preventing chronic conditions is one. Is it senseless? My review and the publication of studies recently completed the challenge to the veracity of this belief.

Clinical trials, funded by the NIH to compare the effects of antioxidant supplements vs placebo on diseases such as cancer and heart disease were relooked at along with new studies. These include the Woman’s antioxidant cardiovascular study, Physicians’ health study II, SELECT trial.

Bottom line -antioxidant supplements may do little to facilitate better health.

According to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), people are most likely to have side effects or adverse reactions from supplements when taken in excess. What is too much is unknown also the safety is unknown. The FDA position: “The dietary supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed. FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. Generally, manufacturers do not need to get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements.”

Scary once a problem, if recognized then it is checked out. An FYI: there are organizations that offer quality testing, they are:

Ultimately, not all research translates from lab to bedside, and for antioxidant supplements—unless a deficiency is present—it is most likely best to acquire needed nutritional components from a balanced diet.  A fruit or vegetable offers a balanced combination of nutrients versus an isolated intense antioxidant supplement.

Amazing Watermelon

Yes, your BBQ has a side of watermelon, naturally. You know it is hydrating and has a surprisingly low sugar content? But did you know it is also packed with antioxidants?

You’ve heard the term anti-oxidant in the same sense as ‘good for you’  but do you realize the important role it has in our bodies? A quick few facts that will have you looking for these free-radicals ‘eaters”. Free radicals cause disease and damage to our bodies. Think prevention of diabetes, heart disease, and yep, even cancer. The body needs balance if the free radicals outnumber the antioxidants, the body goes into ‘oxidative stress’. Stress of almost any kind is not good. This state causes damage to tissues, and we become ill.

Lycopene gives watermelon its vibrant pink hues, it is a carotenoid that gives many fruits and vegetables a red color. It is both an antioxidant and an anti-cancer nutrient. It is the most powerful antioxidant in foods. Lycopene is in many cells, its presence in the skin literally protects against solar radiation damage. High lycopene foods include guavas, cooked tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, papaya, sweet red peppers, persimmon, asparagus, red cabbage, and mangos.

H. Sies studied micronutrient’s role in cancer prevention and we have him to thank for these important contributions. Watermelon can also help people who already have cancer, plus since it is 90% water helps with the common problem of dehydration.

Watermelon can be made into a drink, a salad with feta cheese and balsamic vinegar, look and ask around for healthy watermelon recipes.

Enjoy!

 

Incredible Number Of Skin Cancers

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. Incredible is the fact, it is estimated that one out of seven people in the United States is diagnosed with skin cancer each year. According to the American Cancer Society, each year, more than 5.4 million basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed, Sun exposure is the major culprit. This blog is not about prevention, but I do want to remind you, it is easy enough to prevent sun damage to your skin. SPF greater than 30 (learn about sunblocks) applied after water exposure, with sweating along with a 3 inch brimmed head covering will protect you.

Skin cancer risk factors, you know many of them. Yes, fair skin, excessive exposure to the sun, and tanning beds will do it. But you need to realize a history of sunburn, fair skin, and family history are also risk factors. 

Folks most likely to promote skin cancer are individuals with fair skin, blonde or red hair, light-colored eyes, a history of sun exposure, or a tendency to burn or freckle when exposed to the sun. Those who have a family history of skin cancer are also at increased risk. People with dark skin, myself included, can develop skin cancer

Squamous and basal cell skin cancers are the most common types. Melanoma, another less common type of skin cancer is a more serious type of skin cancer as it is more invasive.

In this short blog, I want to give you some clues so you can perform once a monthly a self-check of your skin. In a well-lit private place with a large wall mirror, you may find changes in the way your skin looks or feels. Use a hand mirror to check for anything new on your skin, discoloration, a new mole, or changes to a mole you already have. Don’t forget to check your scalp and between your toes.Incredible Number of Skin Cancers

Take a picture with your phone if you are concerned. This is important in case you think it is a pimple and watch if it changes. Below I will share well-known clues to suspecting abnormal skin lesions. Keep track of any changes you may see, and tell or email your doctor. Dermatologists are best at examining and recognizing skin lesions. Also, they can treat them with the latest removal techniques. The Mohs surgery to remove lesions has a cure rate exceeds 99 percent for new skin cancers and 95 percent for recurrent skin cancers

The ABCDE’s of suspicious skin lesions

  • A – Asymmetry: One half does not look like the other half
  • B – Border: Edges are irregular, uneven, or ragged; margins fade into the skin around the lesion.
  • C – Color: Uneven color or varying shades; shades of black, brown, and tan can be present; also areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue 
  • D – Diameter: The size of the lesion, spot or mole can be very small or bigger than pea size (one-fourth of an inch) or larger
  • E – Evolving: All of the above characteristics change over  time making it suspicious for cancer 

If you have a lesion or any skin change, find out if it is concerning by seeing a trained medical provider. Timely diagnosis and removal, if it is suspicious, is very important.