“Infodemic” (information + epidemic) – Beware!

“Infodemic (information + epidemic) -BewareNo one disagrees that the dialogue on the pandemic is enormous. The challenges of misinformation and disinformation have been around long before the internet. Infodemic was coined in 2003. A tsunami of information hit us all. The current pandemic has generated so so much conversation and reveals. What is ‘IN’ today may be “OUT’ next week.

Does infodemic contribute to the mismatch of money spent on health care and life expectancy? 

In the American public health has been a reality of the haves and have nots. health is a paramount concern in almost all civilizations. And in a country that spends 17.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care. Along with Japan and several European countries, Canada, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand also boast high life expectancy rates.

If born in the US in 2019 life expectancy of  78.9 – while Canada has 82.4 with 11.5 % of GDP going to health care.

Do we overdue risk in the US? Is it ‘out of an abundance of caution’ that motivates our litigious society?

Our government has multiple ‘authoritative’ entities all working to ensure a certain level of health for citizens. One of the cabinet seats is for the Department of Health & Human Services. An entity Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is dedicated to just with a budget of 6 billion. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has a budget is equivalent to $9.95 per American per year. 

“We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference on Feb 15, 2021.

Yes, it became the wild west with everyone rushing research and sharing while publishing online with the caveat ‘without peer review’. This means a critical inspection by authoritative professionals in the field has not occurred. Almost all with the expressed intention of as rapid as a possible solution to tackle the newest viral threat – SARS CoV-2. But such papers can result in misuse of drugs, therapies, and prevention steps. Even the use of masks is a hot topic on the internet. 

Social and conventional media have allowed information and perhaps more misinformation without updates or corrections to be propagated. 

Breast Cancer Diagnosed

Yes, 1 in 8 US women will develop breast cancer. This means the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. So 7 out of 8 won’t! There are many types some more aggressive than others. Family history is a risk factor but in approximately 80% of cases, there is no family history. Men are not spared incidence in men 1 in 10 will develop mostly in their 60-70 age groups. Although at any age it can present. Abnormal hormone levels and gene mutations. Breast Cancer Diagnosed

FAMILY HISTORY

I mentioned above family history is a factor in some cases. It has been shown that if a ‘first-degree relative’ (a parent, sibling, or child) has had or has breast cancer, you are twice as likely to develop breast disease. Makes sense if you happen to have two first-degree relatives with breast disease your chances are higher.

AGE IS A FACTOR 

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found a measurable increase of cases each year since 1970. This was noted in American women ages 25 to 39. The cases were found to be advanced.  Young women’s tumors are likely to be more dangerous than older women’s cancers.

ABOUT MAMMOGRAPHY

It is known that up to age 50 women’s breasts are quite dense and typical ‘mammos’ testing would miss tiny cancers. Today we have digital technology which has tremendously improved making an accurate diagnosis. Even more recent is 3D mammography the makes slices thru the layers of breast tissue. Fewer cancers can be overlooked. Naturally, there are those concerned by the ‘higher’ number, does it mean more radiation? It thanks to programming only slightly more exposure.

Balancing exposure to radiation and the chance of missing cancer or delaying finding cancer and going thru surgery, chemo and/or radiation. The breast images of 3D mammograms are so much clearer, hence the false positives are far lower than with digital mammograms.

3D detects up to 41 percent more invasive cancers than 2D, according to large-scale clinical research published in the JAMA.

Dangerous Droplets

                              Fact  

– easier to catch a virus (ex. corona, influenza) in winter than in summer 

– that our breath condenses into droplets in the cold air.

– humidity helps a virus spread, in winter it is higher than in summer 

 

Latest

TU Wien (Vienna), in cooperation with the University of Padova research, has studied air that an infected person exhales when sneezing. They found that the infectious viruses are in liquid droplets of different sizes, with gas in between. The lab experiments used high-speed cameras and computer simulations to identify size and flow. They noted as each droplet burst an increase of humidity occurs, making the remaining droplets evaporate more slowly.

This naturally affects the flow and how long droplets hover.

This research can impact what exactly is social distancing. I believe from my review of the literature it is more than 6 feet. Furthermore, this sort of research and its results will impact the use and type of mask. I will be watching publications for more on this.

Conquer Anxiety With Exercise

Conquer Anxiety With Exercise

  • present in 10% world population

  • start early life 

  • women 2 times more than men

Exercise Relationship

Research states exercise can reduce anxiety events in individuals, but it is not known if exercise can deter this condition from starting.

A Swedish group of investigators published  (Frontiers in Psychiatry) their findings after studying 400,000 long-distance cross country skiers (both men and women) from 1989-2010. They compared them to non-skiers during the same times period. They reported a “significantly lower risk”  of developing anxiety in the long-distance skiers compared to non-skiers. The more physically active lifestyle individuals were at an almost 60% lower risk for starting with anxiety disorders. These findings were found in both sexes.

Interesting, especially me, was the finding that “highest performing female skiers had almost the double risk of developing anxiety disorders compared to the group which was physically active at a lower performance level.” But it was still lower than the development of anxiety disorder in the inactive women’s group. This was not seen in the men’s data analysis.

Likely exercise behaviors and anxiety symptoms are affected by personality traits, psychological factors, and of course genetics.

Questions arise is it long-distance skiing, is it skiing, being outdoors for protracted time, or is it the pure degree of exertion that factors? Will the association of exercise and anxiety vary by sport? Wither exerted indoor or outdoors matters?

More research for sure will follow, especially with a focus on youngsters. Nip this disorder in the bud, so to speak!

more info:Martina Svensson et al, Physical Activity Is Associated With Lower Long-Term Incidence of Anxiety in a Population-Based, Large-Scale Study, Frontiers in Psychiatry (2021). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.714014

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.