Over the counter painkillers linked to heart problems


pillsPainkillers such as Ibruprofen, which is commonly used to reduce pain caused by inflammation, have been linked to increased risk of heart disease.

NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are recommended to patients suffering from Osteoarthritis and other painful conditions associated with inflammation, but new research has now linked these to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The researchers have now warned GPs to take cardiovascular risk into account with each individual patient before recommending the use of NSAIDs.
In 2004, a new generation anti-inflammatory drug, the COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib was withdrawn from the market after a trial found that it was linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This sparked a wide debate over the safety of such anti-inflammatory drugs, especially in those patients already at increased risk of developing heart disease.
The ongoing debate led researchers in Switzerland to perform a full analysis of all trials comparing NSAIDs with non NSAIDs or placebos – a total of 31 trials and 116,429 people taking 7 different drugs.
However, the researchers found that although the number of cardiovascular events occurring during the trials were low, they do not consider this to be proof of the drugs being safe to take when already at increased risk of heart problems or stroke – which applies to many patients suffering from musculoskeletal problems.
When compared with placebo, rofecoxib and lumiracoxib were associated with more than twice the risk of heart attack, while ibubrofen was associated with more than three times the risk of stroke. Etoricoxib and diclofenac were associated with the highest risk of cardiovascular death – around four times the risk when compared with the placebo results.
Naproxen appeared the least harmful of the 7 drugs involved in the analysis.
The results of this research indicate that more research needs to be done on this issue, given the risks involved and the regular recommendation of these drugs. It is clear that alternatives to the traditional anti-imflammatory drugs need to be evaluated and promoted.
Perhaps a worrying outcome of this study is its links to aspirin – also an NSAID – which is recommended to people attempting to keep their heart healthy. A clear guide to the NSAIDs would benefit the public and enable people suffering from Osteoarthritis and joint pain to have more say in their treatment.
If you want to find out more about all the NSAIDs, please visit the NHS link below;

Aspirin cuts breast cancer risks


New York: Women who have completed treatment for early-stage breast cancer and who take aspirin have a nearly 50% reduced risk of breast cancer death and a similar reduction in the risk of metastasis. The findings are based on an analysis of data from the Nurse’s Health Study, a large, ongoing, prospective observational study.

“This is the first study to find that aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of cancer spread and death for women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer,” said lead author Michelle Holmes, MD, DrPH, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

“If these findings are confirmed in other clinical trials, taking aspirin may become another simple, low-cost, and relatively safe tool to help women with breast cancer live longer, healthier lives.”

Investigators report it is not yet clear how aspirin affects cancer cells, but they speculate it decreases the risk of cancer metastasis by reducing inflammation, which is closely associated with cancer development. Prior studies have also suggested that aspirin inhibits cancer spread: One study found that people with colon cancer who took aspirin lived longer than those who did not, and laboratory studies have also shown that aspirin inhibited the growth and invasiveness of breast cancer cells.

In this analysis, which was published online in an issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers evaluated data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which included 4,164 female nurses in the United States (aged 30-55 years in 1976) who were diagnosed with stage I, II, or III breast cancer between 1976 and 2002 and were followed through June 2006.

They examined patients’ use of aspirin for 1 or more years after a breast cancer diagnosis (when patients would have completed treatment such as surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy) and the frequency of metastasis and breast cancer death.

The authors emphasised that patients undergoing active treatment should not take aspirin due to potential interactions that can increase certain side effects.

A total of 400 women experienced metastasis, and 341 of these died of breast cancer. Women who took aspirin 2 to 5 days per week had a 60% reduced risk of metastasis and a 71% lower risk of breast cancer death. Those who took aspirin 6 or 7 days a week had a 43% reduced risk of metastasis and a 64% lower risk of breast cancer death. The risk of breast cancer metastasis and mortality did not differ between women who did not take aspirin and those who took aspirin once a week.

Researchers also found that women who took non-aspirin non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 6 or 7 days a week also had a reduced risk of breast cancer death (a 48% reduction), but women who took NSAIDS less frequently and those who used acetaminophen did not experience such a benefit.

“Several studies have suggested that aspirin may have beneficial effects against cancer because of its anti-inflammatory effects. But aspirin can cause stomach bleeding and is not for everyone. These are promising findings, and if they are confirmed in additional clinical trials, physicians may be able to regularly recommend aspirin to their breast cancer patients to reduce risk of cancer spread and mortality,” said breast cancer expert Lori Pierce, MD, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

While the investigators did not collect data on aspirin dose, they noted that women who took aspirin regularly most likely took it for heart disease prevention; the typical dose for that purpose is 81 mg/day.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology

Lunch time naps increase diabetes risk

Glasgow: Taking regular lunchtime siestas could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of a research study being presented this week at leading health charity Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference in Glasgow.

Researchers¹ looked at the napping habits of 16,480 people and found that diabetes prevalence increased with napping frequency. The study found that those who napped had a 26 per cent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those who never napped.

The researchers believe several factors may be behind the link, including an association between napping and reduced physical activity. In addition, napping during the day may disrupt night-time sleep which could have an impact as short night-time sleep duration has been shown to be associated with increased Type 2 diabetes risk7, 8,9.

Waking up from napping activates hormones and mechanisms in the body that stop insulin working effectively. This could also predispose people to Type 2 diabetes which can develop when the insulin the body makes does not work properly.

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “We know from previous studies that looked at the link between disturbed night sleep patterns and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes that interrupted sleep at night could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. We already know that people who are overweight or obese, and therefore more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, can have problems sleeping. This new research could be another step towards explaining the possible link between disturbed sleep patterns and Type 2 diabetes.

“However, in terms of being major risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, disturbed sleep or napping are likely to remain less significant than already established risk factors such as being overweight, being over the age of 40 or having a history of diabetes in the family.”

Researcher Dr Shahrad Taheri, from the University of Birmingham, said: “Our research provides us with an additional insight on the risk factors behind Type 2 diabetes. As the number of people with Type 2 diabetes keeps increasing, it is crucial that we do everything we can to help prevent people from developing the condition.”

Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to long-term complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation. Short-term complications include hypoglycaemic episodes, known as ‘hypos’, which can lead to unconsciousness and hospitalisation if left untreated, and persistent high blood glucose levels can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which if untreated can be fatal.

For more on diabetes go to www.diabetes.org.uk

More information about the research:
Research conducted by scientists from the University of Birmingham and from Guangzhou Hospital, China. S taheri, CQ Jiang, KH Lam, T Arora, WS Zang, KK Cheng, NG Thomas and TH Lam. P16. Napping is associated with increased risk of diabetes: the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study.

The Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference (APC) is taking place from 11 to 13 March 2009 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Glasgow. It is the UK’s largest diabetes conference with over 3,000 healthcare professionals attending.

Diabetes UK is the leading charity for the three million people in the UK with diabetes. It is our 75th Anniversary in 2009 and events to mark this special occasion will be taking place around the country. We aim to spend more than £8 million on research in 2009 as well as campaigning and providing information and support.

Up to half a million people in the UK have diabetes but do not know it. During our 75th Anniversary year, we hope you will be able to join in and support us so that we can carry on improving the lives of people with diabetes into the future. For more information visit www.diabetes.org.uk

In the UK, there are currently 2.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes and it is estimated that up to half a million people have the condition but do not know it.

The Diabetes UK Careline (0845 120 2960) offers information and support on any aspect of managing diabetes. The line is a low cost number and opens Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm (operates a translation service). Recorded information on a number of diabetes-related topics is also available on this number 24 hours a day.

Membership of Diabetes UK is from £23 a year with special rates available. In addition to our bi-monthly magazine Balance, members receive support and the latest information on diabetes care and treatments to help them live a healthy life.

Authors: Spiegel K. Knutson K. Leproult R. Tasali E. Van Cauter E. Title: Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. [Review] [98 refs] Source: Journal of Applied Physiology. 99(5):2008-19, 2005 Nov.
Authors: Vigg A. Vigg A. Vigg A. Title: Sleep in Type 2 diabetes.[see comment][retraction in Joshi SR. J Assoc Physicians India. 2004 Jul;52:530; PMID: 16189926].
Title: Sleep duration is associated with an increased risk for the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged women – The FIN-D2D survey. [see comment] Sleep Med. 2008 Mar;9(3):219-20; PMID: 17681882

Scientists find sex gene risk for Alzheimer’s in certain females


New York: A gene found on the X chromosome harbours the first sex-specific genetic variant linked to a greater susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida and Rochester, Minnesota showed that women who inherited the same variant of the gene, known as PCDH11X, from both parents were far more likely to develop the disease.

Among Alzheimer’s patients evaluated for the study, “the odds a women had two copies of the PCDH11X variant as opposed to no copies was nearly twice as high as for the control group,” the lead researcher, Steven Younkin, told AFP by email.

Both men and women with only a single copy were also slightly more likely to have Alzheimer’s. But only women have two X chromosomes, making them uniquely vulnerable to the impact of the double variant.

Men have one Y chromosome, and one X chromosome.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disorder of the brain characterised by forgetfulness, agitation and dementia. There is no known cure.

While many gene variants, or alleles, have been implicated in the onset of the disease, only one other — APOE 4 — has been shown to be a higher risk factor.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, do not necessarily mean that women as a whole are more prone to getting Alzheimer’s.

“There may be male-specific risk factors — genetic or environmental — that balance the increased risk in women from PCDH11X variant,” Younkin explained.

The researchers discovered the wayward string of DNA by scanning the entire genome of 844 patients and 1,255 healthy persons, looking for telltale markers that might point to a genetic culprit.

After identifying PCDH11X, they confirmed the “highly significant association” by repeating the gene tests on an even larger group of 1,547 patients, and a slightly smaller number of controls.

Follow up studies will investigate the exact mechanism by which the variant affects the nervous system in order to help diagnose the disease early on and develop suitable drugs, Younkin said.

Alzheimer’s is caused by a massive loss of cells in several regions of the brain, driven by a buildup of plaques of amyloid protein. The disease occurs most frequently in old age.

An estimated 37 million people worldwide live with dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease causing the majority of cases, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

With the ageing of populations, this figure is projected to increase rapidly over the next 20 years.

Healthy diet, including moderate alcohol intake cuts prostate disease risk


Seattle: A heart-healthy diet, and even moderate alcohol intake, may help decrease the risk of prostate problems, new US research has found.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found a high-fat diet increased the risk of benign enlargement of the prostate or symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia, known as BPH, by 31 percent and daily consumption of red meat increased the risk of BPH by 38 percent.

Study author Alan Kristal of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle said: “We don’t really know how it’s working but it’s pretty clear that eating a high amount of fat and it doesn’t appear to matter what kind fat, increases the risk of BPH.”

As well as consuming low-fat foods, risk was also reduced 32 percent by eating four or more servings of vegetables daily and 15 percent by making 20 percent of the daily calorie intake lean protein.

The study assessed diets, supplement use and alcohol consumption of 4,770 BPH symptom-free men for seven years during which time 876 developed BPH symptoms. The study also found moderate alcohol intake reduced the risk of BPH by 38 percent.

Moderate alcohol increases breast cancer risk

New York: Drinking just two glasses of wine a day raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer, say researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre.

In an animal experiment, female mice given the human equivalent of two alcoholic drinks a day, developed breast tumours twice the size of those given none.

The six-week old mice were fed moderate amounts of alcohol over a four week period.

Lead researcher Jian-Wei Gu said alcohol consumption is the most important avoidable risk factor for women in contracting breast cancer.

The conclusion is based on the fact that studies in mice mimic the results in humans. It is thought that the increase in tumour size is a result of an increase in blood flow through vessels caused by the alcohol.

Over 50’s taking too many risks abroad

London: Bungee jumping, skydiving, abseiling, and swimming with sharks are just some of the adventures that the over 50’s are enjoying on their holidays – but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warns at the same time of an upsurge in cases of over 50’s needing consular assistance abroad.

Over 50’s now represent 35% of all trips abroad and the new research from the FCO reveals that nearly 70% of over 50’s say they are more adventurous with their trips now then ten years ago. Over a third have visited more than 20 countries and almost a fifth have taken part in adventure activities like bungee jumping or abseiling on recent holidays. And with 25% looking to swim with sharks or 15% wanting to skydive in future on holiday the FCO is advising the over 50’s to start making better preparations for their adventurous travels.

In recent years cases of over 50’s approaching Foreign Office consuls have increased – from more lost passports to cases seeking help with hospital costs because of a lack of travel insurance. The FCO believe the majority of the problems are due to over 50’s not making proper preparations before they leave.

Steve Jewitt-Fleet from the Consular Communications Team at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), said: “In our recent research we were surprised to discover that a massive 65% of over 50’s asked, didn’t take out travel insurance on their last trip and out of those, 47% felt they didn’t need it. In addition, nearly half didn’t research their destination and only 27% made a note of their credit card number. As we have noticed an increasing number of over 50’s swapping relaxing holidays in Marbella for treks in the Himalayas, we would like to see more over 50’s being better prepared for their trips to ensure they are fully covered for any eventuality.”

This trend has prompted the FCO to join forces with Lonely Planet to launch ‘World Wise’, an advice book aimed at older travellers which includes a host of simple advice to ensure that they are fully prepared to have the most exciting travels without any unpleasant experiences. ‘World Wise’ is available to download at the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk/travel or in all Hayes and Jarvis stores. The FCO has also produced a TV filler aimed at this audience advising them to be better prepared.

Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet, is sixty this year and says: “It is clear that not only are there more over 50’s than ever before, but that they are travelling more and being more adventurous with their travels. It is no longer all about two weeks in Spain or saving up for a cruise – we are the generation who thinks retirement is the chance to do all the things we ever wanted to, from safaris to sailing down the Mekong. It’s great to see the FCO thinking specifically about this audience and we were really pleased to work with them to launch World Wise.”

FCO advice to over 50’s travelling abroad

Take out fully comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for all activities you choose to do
Buy a guide book and read up on your destination so you have an idea of the geography – your hotel in relation to the main tourist area etc
Know the local laws and customs e.g. acceptable behaviour and alcohol laws
Check out the travel advice at the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk/travel, or by phone from the FCO’s Travel Advice Unit on (0870 6060 290)
Remember to check that your passport is valid, in good condition and that the ‘Next of Kin’ details are filled in. Take a photocopy and keep it with you
Ensure you take adequate back-up funds (credit or ATM cards, travellers’ cheques) for every eventuality and take copies of vital numbers
Keep the contact details of the nearest British Consulate with you; they could prove invaluable in times of trouble
In Europe apply for an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – online at www.dh.gov.uk/travellers, by phone on 0845 6062030 or at the Post Office. This entitles you to reduced cost, sometimes free, healthcare in most European countries* should you need it. EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance