Articles Posted in Wellness

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Oxycontin and the Opioid Crisis
Over the past few years, an opioid epidemic has caused horrific problems for many regions of the country. In 2015 alone, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids, causing over 33,000 overdose deaths. In 2013, the opioid epidemic resulted in $78.5 billion in economic losses.  In response to this tragic loss of life and the economic strain placed on many state and local governments, several lawsuits have begun.

What Exactly Are Opioids?

Opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic forms of opiates (like morphine). Opiates are derived directly from the poppy plant while opioids are manufactured chemicals that are very similar to opiates.

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supermoon-724384_1920-287x300If you’ve kept up with politics even a little bit, you know how much gridlock exists in Congress. It’s amazing that anything can get done in Washington. However, a new law called the 21st Century Cures Act just passed with tremendous bipartisan support; this law must be really good, right?

21st Century Cures Act: The Good

The 21st Century Cures Act has the potential to save lives. For instance, it will provide funding for cancer research, fight painkiller drug abuse, advance Alzheimer’s research and improve mental health treatments.

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Cobalt and Chromium from metal-on-metal hip implants
Over the years I have worked with many people who had hip replacement surgery. Many of these clients discovered high metal levels in their bodies from metal-on-metal (MoM) hip components. Often the person would let me know that she had her metal levels checked and that the blood work came back with abnormally high readings of cobalt, chromium, or other metals. Still, the treating physician would occasionally dismiss the blood work results. At least one doctor told a patient, “no one knows the effects of higher metal levels on the body. We haven’t studied the impact of metallosis sufficiently. It is nothing to be worried about at this point.”

Sadly, this isn’t true. And it’s not the best medical advice. There have been several studies over the years that looked at metallosis in the body derived from metal-on-metal hip components. The first incident of metallosis from MoM hip implants was reported in 1971. Since then, doctors have been reporting the higher incidence of metallosis in patients who received MoM artificial hip implants. Several scholarly studies have been conducted, including a recent one whose results were published this month examining the impact of metallosis on the cells of patients.

What Is Metallosis?   

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Exercise and Medical Device Failures

I was reading an article about the latest study touting the benefits of exercise. It was stunning. The study involved analyzing the brains of two groups of mice: one group in a cage with an exercise wheel; the other in a cage without the wheel. Researchers watched the mice for four weeks. Predictably, the mice with the exercise wheel exercised; the mice without the wheel did not. After a month the scientists measured brain activity in both groups.

Turns out, running and other forms of exercise produce a protein in the brain called “brain-derived neurotropic factor” or BDNF (I feel smarter just writing that name). This stuff is very good for your brain. BDNF promotes the growth and vigor of neurons. BDNF has also been shown to strengthen the synapses that connect neurons, which allows the brain to function better. Low levels of BDNF has caused cognitive decline in people and animals. Exercise increases levels of BDNF in the brain.

Exercise Promotes BDNF and Ketones

In the study scientists discovered that in the brains of mice who exercised regularly, a molecule which blocked the growth of BDNF was less effective. As a result, much more BDNF was produced in the mice who exercised. Sadly but predictably, less BDNF was produced in the sedentary mice. Researchers also found that the exercising mice produced ketones which make their way to the brain and fight off the bad molecules and further promote the growth of BDNF. The guy who directed the study, NYU professor Moses Chao, said: “It’s incredible just how pervasive and complex the effects of exercise are on the brain.”

You can check out the new study here. It’s the latest in a long line of studies which prove time and again that exercise is vital to your health. Seriously, people have to exercise. Not exercising causes all kinds of physical and mental problems.

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Zofran and pregnancyPregnancy brings with it many physical challenges, including nausea and vomiting which impact about 80% of pregnant women. It can range from being a minor issue to a potentially serious health risk, depending on the severity of the nausea and health of the mother. The drug Zofran is designed to limit nausea but it was not approved for use by pregnant women and it may cause birth defects. Although medical causation is not settled on the issue, many women who took Zofran during pregnancy gave birth to children with birth defects. Because of that potential link hundreds of lawsuits have been brought against the maker of Zofran, seeking compensation for the harm possibly done by the drug.

Intended Uses

Zofran (or ondansetron hydrochloride) helps prevent nausea and vomiting by blocking the effects of serotonin, a chemical in the body that can trigger nausea and vomiting. It was originally designed to help cancer patients dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy but is also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for those suffering nausea due to radiation therapy, anesthesia and surgery.

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Woman with failed transvaginal mesh keeping symptoms journal

For thousands of women, transvaginal mesh has caused more problems than it has solved.  Women with TVM have reported infections, urinary problems, pain during sexual intercourse, scarring, bladder perforation, recurrence of pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence, and other problems.  If you have a transvaginal mesh implant and now suffer unusual pain or other symptoms, you need to take action quickly.

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Woman Suffering Complications From Transvaginal Mesh

Mark this down in the “It’s About Time” column.

On January 4, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally made the move to reclassify transvaginal mesh medical products from Class II to Class III.

Surgical mesh is a medical product that has been used for more than sixty years and is intended to provide “additional support when repairing weakened or damaged tissue.”  FDA News Release.  It is typically a plastic lattice-type mesh that is surgically implanted around weakened, loose human tissue (such as a vaginal wall).  While surgical mesh can be used to treat different kinds of problems, such as hernia, the mesh that has caused much of the current suffering and most of the lawsuits involves transvaginal mesh (TVM).  Pelvic organ prolapse (POP), where organs fall from their normal position and press against the vaginal walls, is one of the conditions treated by TVM.

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Attorney Should Give a Client Confidence and Assurance

I have had bad eyesight since I was a teenager. Now in my mid-forties, I have endured retinal tears, cataracts, elevated eye pressure, even something called vitreous detachment. I will spare you the details, but this year the cataracts became bad enough that my ophthalmologist suggested I consider surgery to remove the cloudiness on the lenses of both eyes.

I needed to find the right surgeon to perform this delicate procedure. I mean, we’re talking about my eyes. Few things in our lives are as important to our quality of life as our vision. Needless to say, I was not going into this search lightly.

Searching for Assurance

I asked everyone I knew to recommend the most competent physician performing cataract surgeries. Fortunately I know many people who work in the medical field, and I set out to get everyone’s views on the subject. First I asked my ophthalmologist, who gave me a few names. I asked my retinal surgeon, who gave me four names. I asked an ophthalmology nurse, who gave me her views on the best cataract surgeons. I asked people who had undergone the procedure in the past. I asked people who may not have had a clue as to which surgeon might be good for these surgeries. I was going to do my homework before allowing some stranger to make incisions on my eyes.

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1. If You Develop Harmful Side Effects, Stop Taking Testosterone.

Of course I am no doctor, but this is the safe and correct call. If you suffer a heart attack, you won’t have any choice, as you will most likely be incapacitated; but even with less serious side effects like anxiety or sexual dysfunction, the unwanted condition is a red flag that testosterone may not be right for you. Therefore I suggest you stop taking the drug and schedule an immediate appointment with your doctor.

In fact, I would say that even if you have no symptoms, you should ask your doctor (or a doctor who did not prescribe testosterone in the first place) if you should stop testosterone replacement therapy. As we saw in the last post, in one study men receiving testosterone were almost five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than were men in the study taking a placebo. And beyond heart attacks, other side effects include the growth of breasts on men, skin irritation, and depression (not to mention the strange side effects testosterone can have on your family members and pets).

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Testosterone Side Effects
Part 2

In the last post we looked at the introduction of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) on the marketplace and the huge marketing efforts that sold billions of dollars’ worth of the hormone therapy in the last ten years. The pharmaceutical companies targeted men of a certain age (typically forty and older) who may (or may not) have actually suffered from a collection symptoms: fatigue, low energy, weight gain, loss of sexual interest. The “disease” was labelled Low-T, and although doctors say this condition is real, it is not nearly as common as the drug companies would have had us believe. One study from Great Britain found that just 0.1 percent of men in their forties suffered from Low-T combined with sexual symptoms, 0.6% of men in their fifties, 3.2% of men in their sixties, and 5.1% of men in their seventies. Despite these (startlingly) low numbers, the drug companies sold billions of dollars’ worth of testosterone. Then many of these men—and even their family members and pets—began having alarming side effects.

Study Shows Increased Risk of Heart Attacks