Health Help for Consumers

consumer labA week does not go by without someone asking me what is the ‘best vitamin C to get?’ That question could end with calcium or zinc and the possibilities go on. Would it not be great if there was an FDA-type organization for over-the-counter  (OTC) health products?  Good news, it does exist – and I have been using it for decades. Although there is a yearly membership fee it is well worth knowing the supplement you paid for is truly worthwhile. At this publishing, fees are $3.25/month for 2 years (billed at $78.00) or  $3.95/month for 1 year (billed at $47.40).

Over 1300 hundred health products from such major brands as Walmart’s, GNC, and Walgreens are tested and reviewed.

Categories beyond product reviews, include Save money read warnings and clinical findings from experts. You can stay informed with their e-newsletter. Site major sections are Health conditions, Brands, Warnings, and News. You can get answers to your questions. A recent one answered by an MD was ‘Which vitamins and minerals should someone over 70 take?’

You can find a reliable resource for such Unique reviews include olive oil,  Masks, avocado oil, spices, and much more.  Pediatric and pet health products are also reviewed!

Check it out and decide for yourself. As always trying to empower you to better health.

Grief Shared Is Grief Lessened

Grief Shared Grief LessenedExperiencing the emotion  ‘grief’  from death is a natural reaction for humans. No matter if it’s the death of a loved one, an acquaintance, or a co-worker,  the sorrow of the loss of life is deep.

I chose this topic as more than ever given the pandemic the passage of life is minimally noted. It is sparse. Pre pandemic there was sharing, hugs support, comfort, meal sharing bolstering each other. Assuring the dying individuals’ words of love, intimate, meaningful kind. Then a coming together of those left behind -the funeral a celebration honoring and praying.

Grief  Lessened

At present no visitors in hospitals, no loved ones present at the hospital bedside, no hugs, kind words. The nurses don’t know your favorite music you might wish was playing as life slips away. A favorite of mine is C.P.Cavafy’s poem ‘Ithaca’, recited by Sir Sean Connery and with music specially composed by Vangelis. Others enjoy hearing the “Ave Maria” sang. If you don’t already know the preferences for the enjoyment of an ill person find out and inform the caregivers.

Almost everyone knows of someone who has died from COVID-19. Deaths from other causes have been solo due to this pandemic. Also, those without the deadly virus who are in medical settings like nursing homes and inpatient hospice must go alone.

It has long been known that healing comes from togetherness and virtual funeral services don’t offer much comfort to survivors. Several years ago in this blog I wrote about Death Cafes -started in the UK and growing in NYC at that time.

Silent Grief Remains

The medical literature describes a new phenomenon  “the silent epidemic of grief” – with emphasis on “silent.” It stems from an epidemic of pain being experienced by survivors who are made to feel alone in their grief. It is very difficult if not prohibited to connect with others given the pandemic, and who need love and supports more now than ever before.

Sharing with others a loss brings healing as well as comfort to an area inhabited by hurt and pain.

Mind-Blowing, Dementia Associated with Processed Meats

Worldwide Dementia incidence is catapulting! A health condition that affects 5%-8% of those over the 60s worldwide.

Processed meat vs unprocessed meats, the difference, processed meats are modified in order either to improve their taste or to extend their Dementia Associated with diet of processed meatsshelf life.

A growing body of evidence linking processed meat consumption to poor health is now found in medical journals. Long known that red meat is bad for one’s heart and that processed meats can increase the risk for cancer but now a shift to researching what other risks are there from such a diet. The Brits are the first to study this matter over several years.

An  8 years study clearly ID’ed a link between specific meat types and amounts, and the risk of developing the disease. A study of 493,888 UK Biobank participants is published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Can’t argue as to the number of participants from whom to glean data. UK Biobank, a database containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants aged 40 to 69, investigated the associations between consuming different types of meat and the risk of developing dementia.

But their findings also show eating a small amount – some – unprocessed red meat, such as beef, pork, or veal, could be protective, as people who consumed 50g a day were 19% less likely to develop dementia.

There is a message for us all, the diet should be in moderation and balanced fish plant protein must also be included. Have a review of my blog on MIND diet from Jan. of this year addressing ‘BEST DIETS’.


Incredible COVID-19 Numbers, Variants, & Vaccine Failure

Incredible COVID-19 Numbers Need to unleash numbers to give perspective & Vaccine FailureNeed to unleash these numbers as of 4/16/21. A summary.

-More than 150,000,000 shots have been administered in the U.S. so far.

0.005% may have resulted in a serious side effect.

– fewer than 1 in every 13,000 vaccinations were infected post-vaccine.

  • Of those breakthrough cases, 29 percent were asymptomatic and 7 percent required hospitalizations. 

  • CDC releases that 74 of those vaccine recipients who had breakthrough infections died.

Six reported cases of blood clots in women following a Johnson & Johnson vaccination prompted the CDC this week to recommend a pause in the single-dose vaccine. More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S., adverse reactions from vaccines are rare 

At least 550,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, a rate of 1,700 deaths per 1 million residents. More than 2 million Americans have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since August. That’s over 6,200 patients per million.

Washington state reported 4/14/21– 217 people among the 1.7 million fully vaccinated there have had breakthrough infections. Five deaths among patients ranging in age from 67 to 94, all with multiple underlying conditions, are under investigation there. 

New Variants have been numbered, that is their names. These causing a dramatic increase in cases due to multiple changes in the genome from the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. Previous variants only had one area of genome change.

B.1.617, first identified in India

B.1.526/ B.1.525, first identified in New York

B.1.427/B.1.429, first identified in California – more infectious 

Vaccine Failure

Please take a few minutes listening to my latest podcast then read on. “Primary vaccine failure” is when the body doesn’t mount a robust immune response. That could be caused by poor health, age, medication, or something wrong with the vaccine. “Secondary vaccine failure” is when immunity fades over time, or if the person is exposed to a different virus strain.

Bottom Line

The shots are safe. Even incomplete defense is better than none. And the small chance of experiencing a serious side effect from the vaccine is far outweighed by the danger of COVID-19.

PLEASE REMEMBER – If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible — monoclonal antibodies must be given within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. they provide a defense till your body can make it’s own antibodies

Vaccine Failure

Please take a few minutes listening to my latest podcast then read on. “Primary vaccine failure” is when the body doesn’t mount a robust immune response. That could be caused by poor health, age, medication, or something wrong with the vaccine. “Secondary vaccine failure” is when immunity fades over time, or if the person is exposed to a different virus strain.



Self – Testing Revolution & Insights

Did You Know

Let me start by saying I believe there are situations where you should order a test online. You may already be familiar with in-home testing if you’ve used a Home Pregnancy test or your doctor has ordered an in-home colon cancer screening test that is mailed to a lab.   Not all tests require a blood sample. Most online ordering goes through either LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics, the two major testing companies. However, in certain states, you are unable to order online and must get a provider order for the test. Labs are prohibited from operating on behalf of patient ordering in the following states:  LabCorp in NY, NJ, RI, MA, MD  & Quest Diagnostics in NY, NJ, RI.


In this pandemic time, at-home testing is booming. Want to know whether you are carrying the antigen for the SARS-CoV-2 virus-infected, simply order the test! Wonder if you have antibodies to the virus, order a different test. There is a particularly growing number of COVID-19 self-testing resources.

Self-testing positive versus negative

Positive(L) – Negative (R) images

A new layperson self-test from Siemens won approval in February for use in Germany. The CLINITEST Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test takes a nasal swab and examines for antigen. Direction on the box: “Wash swab in a reagent, dissolving a specific protein from the surface of the virus. This liquid is dropped into a well in the test cassette. Within 15 minutes, the test sample flows into the field of view of the cassette and becomes visible by a dash. The position and number of lines indicate whether the test result is positive or negative, or whether something was done incorrectly during the test procedure and the test must be repeated”. See image.

General Testing

Other situations for patient’s online ordering of tests might include one of the following scenarios. What if you do not want your insurance company to know that you have high cholesterol or a sexually transmitted disease?   You may bypass going to a physician and order the test online. Often lack of insurance and lack of a medical caregiver could prompt someone who is suspicious of recurrent urinary tract infection to go online and order a urine analysis and culture.

At this time insurance companies do not pay for patient-ordered online tests but will be told by the lab ‘you may still want to submit the charge’. 

Doc’s Insights

I don’t have a specific site that I would recommend, but based on your need and location, you may find the URLs I’ve listed below helpful in finding an online lab.  I also encourage you to consult your physician to see what’s available in your community. It’s worth comparing if you don’t already have a go-to resource. – antigen test for SARS-CoV-2 only






Follow The Science – Fruits and Vegetables Rule

fruitDo you stop at an apple a day to keep a doctor away? Follow the science – studies that asked what is the Magic Number for Daily Fruit and Vegetable Intake found the 5 a day rule works. 


Two servings per day of fruit and three vegetables conferred the greatest benefit; eating more servings did not yield additional mortality risk reduction, published in Circulation. That’s 5 a day! They also found that eating more will not increase your longevity.

Follow The Science

In two well-known prospective studies over 30 years with more than 100,000 participants discovered that five-a-day” was, in fact, better than two servings per day in terms of lower risk of death from any cause (13%), a lower risk of death from heart disease (12%), lower risk of death from cancer (10%) and lower risk of death from respiratory disease (35%).fruits and vegtables

Noted was that starchy vegetables (e.g., peas, corn), fruit juices, and potatoes, were not associated with decreased mortality over 3 decades of follow-up.
Read the previous blog on diet.

If you have high blood pressure also consider the MIND diet, read a recent blog on this.

Viral Divulge of the Latest on Pandemic

Below the latest, at this writing, on scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus.

‘The numbers of new cases are down’. There’s a lot of sweet little lies that we tell ourselves, “It will be okay.” It is not okay. Recent U.S. numbers (3/24/21):

  • The number of new COVID-19 cases reported each day is hovering at a high level of 50,000 to 60,000.
  • New hospital admissions have also plateaued at 4,500 to 5,000 admissions a day.
  • Deaths from COVID-19 are declining but remain high, and the rate of decline is slowing.

Add to this new evidence shows variants to date have escaped at least 2 of 3 types of human antibodies. Researchers looked at how mutations in coronavirus variants affect antibodies’ ability to target a key region on the virus spike called the receptor-binding domain (RBD), which has been mutating rapidly. This evidence may explain reinfection in individuals as most likely from a variant virus -but not proven as yet.

Many fully vaccinated (more than 3 weeks) medical professionals, felt to have ‘full’ immunity, have been contracting COVID-19! Are they the % that can’t develop immunity from the vaccine? Or is it that the vaccines do not protect us from contracting COVID-19? Or did they contract a variant virus? Recall the vaccines were developed presuming the so-called ‘wild virus’ before it ever mutated. The vaccines were touted as keeping us alive as well as out of the hospital from COVID-19. At the time of emergency use authorization, it was unknown as to whether or not immunized individuals could contract and/or transmit the virus. 

Yep, it is a dynamic rapidly changing viral scene, new variants become the predominant spreading strain. It is alphabet soup with the numbering of the multiple variants circulating in our air. Currently, there is no agreed-upon system for naming the variants! Regretfully several to date, the new variants spread easier and cause more severe illness. 

It was so simple a year ago one virus the “wild-type” (or natural) strain of the coronavirus, now hang on for the new spreading* ones :

B.1.429, .427 CA, USA

B.1.1.7  (UK)

B.1.351 Zambia “South African” 50% more transmissible

P.1 Manaus “Brazil” also in Japn prevalent

B.1.525 Nigeria

B.1.526 NYC -60% on new cases NYC (3/21/21) also in TX, WY, and MD

I want to elaborate a bit on B.1.526, as it is for all intense purposes acting as a double variant, featuring a pair of common mutations known as E484K and S477N. At this posting, it remains unclear if more transmissible and if more lethal. At this posting, it remains unclear if it is more transmissible and/or more lethal.

NEWS flash on 3/24/21 – a NON-assigned number – new “double mutant” variant of the coronavirus was detected from samples collected in India. One of the mutations is present from the South African variant – E484Q position change in S protein appears to make it potent that is more dangerous.

After a retrospective review, researchers have noticed in post-Moderna vaccine candidates, 12.4 times less effective against the South African variant (7.6% protective), and Pfizer’s was found to have reduced effectiveness by about 10.3 times ( 9.4% protective). 

The good news is that the mRNA vaccines (Moderna & Pfizer) held up well against the UK Covid-19 variant.


Impressive Hypertension in Adults & Children

Are you below 120/80?  If you are higher you have high blood pressure – hypertension (HBP) – no matter your age!Hypertension

As in adults, for children, the definition is 120/80 mm Hg and is in the 95th percentile or greater, then the patient has hypertension. Like podcast form, check out my podcast channel – Doc Handal Speaks! Listen up! specifically on HBP on iTunes or the RSS feed. Also re-read the blog offering more background data.

Are you one of the 75 million American adults (29-32.6% according to CDC), the is 1 in 3 adults, who have high blood pressure?  17.2% of sufferers, almost half, don’t know they have elevated pressure in their arteries doing big-time damage. Sadly of those that know they have high blood pressure half do not have it under control.* BTW you will always have it as you take meds to control. It is true you might get off meds if you lose dramatic weight but even with that once your vessels harden even diet and exercise may not lower your’ numbers’.

Children with Hypertension (HBP)?

Children can develop HBP, as a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends annually checking blood pressure starting at age 3. Once found the child with HBP, is recommended a DASH diet and along with moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 3 to 5 d per week (30–60 min per session) to help reduce BP. Consider the MIND diet, check out a past blog.  Back to diet sodium is an accepted culprit Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) sodium  levels defined by the National Academies (2020-2025) suggests consumption of :Causes Hypertension

1,200 mg/day for ages 1 through 3;

1,500 mg/day for ages 4 through 8;

1,800 mg/day for ages 9 through 13; and

2,300 mg/day for all other age groups.

The CDRR for sodium was established using evidence of the benefit of reducing sodium intake on cardiovascular risk and hypertension risk.


AHA Guidelines

The incidence of HBP in ages is too prevalent worldwide. A recent study in Pakistan aged between 4 and 7 years (19.2%) and there is a strong association between high BMI (body mass index), family history of HTN, and high-fat diet intake with HTN in children. There was no significant variation of prevalence between both genders.

2017, CDC Study detected that 1 in 25 youth ages 12 to 19 have hypertension, and 1 in 10 has elevated blood pressure. data from more than 12,000 participants ages 12 to 19 who responded to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001 to 2016.

Secondary HBP is a common result as is the direct result of obesity, possibly medications but also you can inherit this medical problem.

Again no surprise, same as for adults, sedentary behaviors during childhood increases the risk of developing HBP. You can imagine missing the presence of this will cause irreversible damage in so many body organs that life expectancy will drop. 

Check your and your youngsters’ numbers, Trust me they will enjoy monitoring especially if they can record on their smartphones.


*Executive Summary: Heart Disease and From the American Heart Association. D Mozaffarian, EJ Benjamin, AS Go, DK Arnett… – Circulation, 2016

Gripping Medical News

medical newsI want to communicate some recent gripping medical news, specifically what’s up with sugar and new SARS-CoV-2 variants.


I wish Biden would alter the results of the sugar lobbyists and change the new 2020-2025 USDA dietary guidelines — released under the Trump

About 40% of American adults are obese, which predisposes them to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and premature death. Moreover, obesity rates are higher among Black and Hispanic adults compared with white and Asian adults. The prevalence is highest among adults with low income and limited education.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans are overweight or obese, conditions directly related to sugar consumption. Some 128 million Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and 90% of those with pre-diabetes don’t know they have it. Nine of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. are a result of or made worse by, poor blood sugar. Children are developing increasing rates of fatty liver disease and chronic liver dysfunction — up 62% in the past 10 years. Have a read on a recent past blog on children and diabetes.

COVID-19 has been shown to be significantly more lethal in individuals with high blood sugar, and diabetes and obesity are key drivers of mortality.

The recommendations for added sugar in the 2020-2025 USDA dietary guidelines — released under the Trump administration — a result I believe from the sugar industry lobbying, also the processed food industry, and financial gains.

 These recommendations were made despite the science and will continue to cause significant harm to American children and adults, with unfortunate health and financial ramifications for years to come. 

USDA Guidelines recommend a sugar quota to less than 6% of total calories, from its current level of 10%, and give Americans a fighting chance at health. The Committee suggests that “less than 6% of energy from added sugars is more consistent with a dietary pattern that is nutritionally adequate.” The suggested 4% drop in total calories from added sugar (from 10% to 6%) might not seem like a lot, but it represents 20 grams of sugar per person, per day, which adds up to roughly 2,400,000,000,000 — that’s two trillion four hundred billion — extra grams of sugar per year consumed in the U.S.

Power of Advertising @1960s


Will continue until spread can be stopped! It is only as the virus travels into someone else-infects another human host that it can change its sequencing. These changes which can be multiple determine its transmission rate and severity of illness it can cause.

At this writing, there are at least 6 concerning variants. customarily given names like ‘B1526’ first reported in NYC, or B1351 from South Africa. B117, the variant first detected in Kent, England. Newest from Nigeria B1525.

Stay tuned medical news will continue to share new variants. We must along with getting the ‘jab’- continue to follow social distancing and mask-wearing. The pharmaceutical companies are already trying to guess which variants contain dangerous changes to its code that vaccines must target.