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Can we really “reverse” aging? Should we?

Westlake Legal Group hospice Can we really “reverse” aging? Should we? The Blog reversal medicine Health age

A bit of medical news that flew over the transom this weekend was interesting in a “kinda good, kinda creepy” sort of way. Newsweek was reporting that a new drug trial had resulted in a group of patients experiencing “reverse aging” with some of them “regaining two years of youth.”

Considering how long Juan Ponce de León spent searching for the fountain of youth (he actually didn’t, that’s just a legend… see episode 65 here) this will certainly be of interest to somebody. I suppose we’d better check in and see what this is all about.

Scientists believe it may be possible to reverse a person’s biological age with a combination of drugs and growth hormones, based on evidence presented in the results of a small clinical study.

The study, which was conducted by geneticist Steve Horvath at the University of California, Los Angeles, effectively reversed participants’ epigenetic clock by an average of two and a half years, the scientific journal Nature reported. Additionally, the patients’ immune systems appeared to rejuvenate after treatment with the combination of growth hormone and two diabetes medications.

Even the scientists who worked on the study were surprised by the results. At the same time, some are urging caution as the results are still preliminary.

So they supposedly accomplished this by giving the patients a combination of diabetes medications and a growth hormone. And they began reverse aging? Assuming this is true (a big assumption) then that’s pretty phenomenal. And if you managed to reverse age them two years on your first try, how much further could you push it after you’ve had time to refine the procedure? A decade? More?

There are a couple of reasons to throw the brakes on our enthusiasm here. The first is that this study is very new and hasn’t really had time for a full review. Other experts in the field are already noting that it was a very small sample size – nine white men between the ages of 51 and 65 – and “not well controlled.” They’re going to have to demonstrate that this is reproducible on a much wider scale before anyone starts planning their 150th birthday party in advance.

Of course, it’s not the first attempt at turning back the clock. We’ve already heard some horror stories about wealthy elderly people getting mass blood transfusions from young people in an effort to stave off the inevitable. And before you run out to try this, the FDA is already warning that it doesn’t work and might wind up killing you.

But let’s assume that this new drug cocktail actually can reverse aging. Is this something we should really be doing? Oh, sure… it sounds like a great idea when it’s just being applied to you. But to everyone? Think of the long term implications. If we have an entire generation that starts living vastly longer lives, the population is going to spike dramatically, with a significant majority being composed of the elderly. If these people are still retiring at 62 to 70, they will have to be cared for by an increasingly smaller percentage of younger, working-age folks. The balance of the entire planet will be thrown off.

And do you really want to live well into your hundreds or even two hundred? I suppose that depends on the quality of life you could expect, but the whole thing just sounds unnatural and probably dangerous. Of course, it sounds like Pandora’s Box may already be open here so the debate might be too little, too late.

The post Can we really “reverse” aging? Should we? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Pharma Regulations Bite Worse Than Snakes

Overregulation is killing competition in the pharmaceutical industry. Rather than letting markets work, companies are essentially allowed monopolies that drive prices to astronomical heights. Take anti-venin for example. Chances are you’re not going to be bitten by a poisonous snake or scorpion but, if you are, that’s just the first bite. The next one is out of your wallet.

Here’s how it works. You get bitten, you go to the hospital because you don’t want to die. You are injected with 4-6 vials of  CroFab (the recommended starting dose), and it saves your life with few of the side effects that used to plague anti-venins. Then you get the bill. It turns out that the wholesale price for that medicine is more than $3,000 per vial. Once they get enough in you to save your life and you pay the consumer price? Let’s hope you aren’t stuck with a price tag of nearly $68,000. It’s happened before.

It should be good news for bite victims, then that there’s something new on the market- Anavip.However, pharmaceutical regulations are such that competition isn’t likely to bring the prices down significantly. Anavip seems less expensive at $1,220 per vial but, with a recommended initial dose of 10 vials, the price is pretty equal.

Robin Feldman, a professor at University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, who specializes in pharmacy law told NPR “When we allow a system of perverse incentives to flourish, this is the result we get.” It’s the generic drugs which really bring down drug prices, and bureaucracy is making it just about impossible for anti-venins to enter that market.

NPR reports:

In the U.S., even when the FDA approves another drug, the maker can manipulate the patent process to keep competitors out. A patent allows a drug manufacturer to claim ownership of certain product information and bar others from making, using or selling a drug based on the protected content for 20 years. This gives manufacturers a powerful edge – they can sue potential competitors for patent infringement.

“The most creative activity in the drug company should be in the lab, not in the legal department” says Hastings law professor Feldman, paraphrasing a former FDA commissioner.

One solution? The 340B medical drug pricing plan which provides life-saving medications cheaper for lower-income Americans at no cost to taxpayers. At Banner Health in Arizona, scorpion bites are more common than in other parts of the country, and their 340B pricing program saves lives without breaking the bank.

Page Smith, director of Banner’s 340B program, explains:

 

The post Pharma Regulations Bite Worse Than Snakes appeared first on RedState.

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Crazy: A Women Rushes to the Hospital for Kidney Stones. One Goes in, Four Come Out

Westlake Legal Group easter-2144595_1280-620x411 Crazy: A Women Rushes to the Hospital for Kidney Stones. One Goes in, Four Come Out Uncategorized triplets South Dakota rapid city medicine healthcare Health Front Page Stories dannette glitz childbirth babies austin glitz Allow Media Exception

 

 

Ever think you have kidney stones and then surprisingly end up expelling other human beings out of an orifice?

It happened to a woman in South Dakota.

Dannette Giltz had had kidney stones previously — she should know the feeling. So on August 10th, she was rushed to the hospital for more of that same ol’ kidney stone crampin’.

But the medical masters told her: Those aren’t stones, lady; they’re people.”

She was in labor.

She didn’t even know she was pregnant.

What’s more — she’d actually had a baby before, too.

Twice.

Still, nothing had rung a bell. Just memories of the stones.

But doctors told her to expect twins.

One came out, and within 4 minutes, there was another.

She started thinking about names.

But POW! A third popped out within another 4 mins.

It was Surprisebabies on Parade.

She and her husband, Austin, named the kidney st– I mean, children…Blaze, Gypsy, and Nikki. Two chicks and a dude.

Each rugrat weighed just 4 pounds.

Lotsa 4’s in this story..

Dannette and Austin — who’ve been married for 12 years (a multiple of 4)– hadn’t planned to have any more kids.

Austin told Rapid City’s KOTA TV, “Once we left the hospital, she’s out of the hospital, I know she’s okay. I’m overwhelmed, honestly. It’s still exploding in my head.”

Dannette still can’t figure out how she was 34-weeks knocked-up without knowing. And the trio’d troop was a particular shock, given that she’d received no outside help:

“You don’t ever see triplets being conceived naturally, let alone going 34 weeks without knowing. So, everyone’s like I can’t believe it, I’m like we’re still in shock, trust me, we know what you mean like I go to the doctor’s thinking I’ll have surgery for kidney stones and end up going into labor with a c-section that night. It’s crazy.”

Yes. It is.

According to the new mommy, the family’s received a ton of support, from both friends and strangers:

“It’s amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that’s not expected.”

You know what’s really unexpected? A woman having two ladies and a gentleman inside her without realizing it.

I guess sometimes you don’t know if you’re dealing with a kid or kid(ney).

A little wordplay there. That’s what I’m here 4.

-ALEX

 

See 3 more pieces from me:

In Order To Save The Planet, President Jair Bolsonaro Asks Brazilians To Hold In Every Bowel Movement For Two Days

The 10 Stages Of Genocide: A Social Media Marvel Provides A Window Into America’s Growing Mental Disorder

At Playboy, #TimesUp: The Woke Rabbit’s New Man In Charge Is A Gay Millennial

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

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The post Crazy: A Women Rushes to the Hospital for Kidney Stones. One Goes in, Four Come Out appeared first on RedState.

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Here’s what women need to know about their risk for heart disease

Westlake Legal Group stethoscope Here’s what women need to know about their risk for heart disease medicine Medical Features medical advice Heart Attacks Heart Attack health and wellness Health expert tips

By Tania Chao, M.D.

Tania Chao, M.D., is a board-certified cardiologist with Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group. She sees patients at the Kaiser Permanente Tysons Corner Medical Center.

Heart disease is an equal-opportunity killer—the No. 1 cause of death for both women and men worldwide. As a cardiologist who treats many women in my practice, what concerns me most are women’s unique risks.

Perhaps the most critical is a lack of awareness among women that they are at risk for a heart attack. Despite decades of public health campaigns, many women—nearly half in a recent American Heart Association (AHA) survey—don’t realize a heart attack is by far their biggest serious health hazard. Among women of color, some two-thirds are unaware of their risk, according to the survey. But the reality is that more women die from heart disease each year than men, and heart disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. Further, cardiovascular death rates for American women and men have actually increased in recent years after decades of declining, according to a recent study. Consider this startling statistic from the AHA: While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease is the cause of one out of every three deaths.

This lack of awareness can have serious consequences. It has been estimated that as much as 80% of heart attacks are preventable with lifestyle changes—healthy diet, regular exercise and managing weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. But if you don’t realize that you are risk, you may not take these steps in time, and you might ignore symptoms when you have them. Researchers have found that women wait longer than men to call 911 when they have their first heart attack, often because they see themselves as caregivers for other people and are more inclined to dismiss their own symptoms, especially when symptoms temporarily subside.

Even when women do show up with symptoms, heart trouble may not be the first thing on their primary care provider’s mind. This is especially true if the symptoms are atypical for heart problems: nausea, faintness and extreme fatigue, for instance. And in some cases, the patient is young and has few of the traditional risk factors. These risk factors apply to both men and women and include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes, smoking, high alcohol intake or drug use, being overweight or having a family history of heart disease.

Some risk factors for heart attacks that are more prevalent in women (depression, for example) aren’t even included in standard risk assessments. Women are also more likely to be sedentary than men and more likely to be obese. Many common risk factors increase women’s heart attack risks much more than men’s. For example, women smokers have a 25% greater risk than men of developing heart disease, and women with diabetes have a 44% greater risk.

It’s also a myth to assume that heart disease is only something to worry about when you are very old. I remind my patients that heart disease impacts women of all ages. In fact, for younger women, the combination of taking birth control pills and smoking can increase your risk by 20%. Along these lines, a study published last year in the AHA journal Circulation has been a cause of concern for me and my colleagues. It showed an increase in the number of hospitalizations for heart attack among young people, most dramatically among young women between the ages of 35 and 54.

Recognize the Symptoms

Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to the heart is severely reduced or cut off, most often because of a blocked artery. For most people, this results in uncomfortable pressure or fullness in the center of your chest. Some describe it as the feeling of an elephant sitting on your chest. It’s hard to ignore.

But for some women experiencing a heart attack, the symptoms can be less obvious, and thus easier to miss. Some of my women patients, for example, experience pain in one or both arms, feel short of breath and/or feel extremely exhausted. Some feel pain in areas of the body not typically associated with the heart, like the neck and jaw, the shoulders, upper back or abdomen. Sometimes these symptoms are accompanied by nausea or vomiting. If you or someone close to you experiences these symptoms, you may be having a heart attack and it is important to call 911 immediately. The longer the blood supply is cut off, the more likely your heart will be damaged.

Prevention is Key  

While it’s important to know your risk and to recognize the signs of a heart attack, remember that the overwhelming majority of heart attacks can be prevented. Here’s how:

  • Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check, and if they’re not in a healthy range, work with your doctor to better manage them.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit alcohol to one drink a day.
  • Manage stress with meditation, yoga, massage, qi gong or a related therapy.
  • Get treatment for grief or depression.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g., walking) a day.

I’ve seen patients change their lives, especially after a heart attack, which is for many a wake-up call. My goal as their doctor is to help them realize how much power they have, not only over their heart health, but over their general wellbeing.

To read more about women and heart disease, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the website of the Office of Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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How safe are dietary supplements? Here’s what you need to know

Westlake Legal Group pills How safe are dietary supplements? Here’s what you need to know medicine Medical Features health and wellness health advice Health doctor's advice
Photo by Kayla Maurais

By Sara Mukherjee, MD

Sara Mukherjee, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine physician with Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group. She sees patients at the Kaiser Permanente Fair Oaks Medical Center.

Have you ever wondered how safe it is to take dietary supplements with prescription medications, but you’ve been wary of discussing your supplement use with your doctor?

You’re not alone. More than 72 million Americans who take prescription drugs also take supplements, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it’s estimated that fewer than one in five mention it to their health care providers.

Many patients are afraid we will disapprove, or perhaps even laugh at their use of supplements. But in my Washington, DC-area practice, I strive to develop a relationship with my patients so that they trust me and are comfortable discussing their use of alternative therapy, including supplements. Our job as doctors is not to judge, but to listen and learn, and help as we can.

What does worry me is that many people who take supplements seem to think of them as wholly benevolent—that they are natural and, therefore, safe. One patient came to me with a list of more than 70 supplements he was taking. Though there is a growing body of research about these products and their interactions, we don’t know nearly enough. Working with my clinical pharmacist, I discovered there was insufficient data, not only to assure the safety of taking this quantity of supplements, but to predict their potential interactions. So, it was almost impossible for me to treat this patient for his health issues while he was ingesting that many supplements.

The truth is that dietary supplements are medications, concentrated extracts of natural products which, when combined indiscriminately with prescription and even over-the-counter medicines, can lead to dangerous interactions. Some popular supplements are known to decrease the effects of the drugs you are taking, and others can increase the effects—including unwanted side effects.

I also worry about quality control. There is minimal regulation of dietary supplements, which are defined by law as products taken orally to supplement the diet that contain one or more dietary ingredients (vitamins, minerals or herbs, for example). Herbal supplements are a type of dietary supplement made from plants, algae and/or fungi. Sold as tablets, capsules, powders and teas, dietary supplements are regulated only for safety, not for whether they work. As to purity and truth in labeling, manufacturers are generally trusted to police themselves.

Here are just a few of the most popular herbs that can cause complications when taken with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and even other supplements.

St. John’s Wort
One of the oldest natural treatments for depression, this herb can be dangerous when taken with any of a wide range of drugs, including some chemotherapy agents, heart and migraine medications, birth control pills, antidepressants, blood thinners and the vital anti-rejection drugs used after an organ transplant. St. John’s Wort is known for decreasing the effectiveness of more than 70 percent of all drugs, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Goldenseal
Widely used for colds, stomach upset and other conditions, goldenseal should not be used with any of the many medications broken down by the liver: the painkiller ibuprofen, the sedative diazepam and the chemotherapy drug tamoxifen are just a few examples.

Cranberry
A popular remedy for urinary tract infections, cranberry supplements should not be used with blood thinners such as warfarin and should be used cautiously with medications broken down by the liver.

Gingko Biloba
Many people take this ancient herb for memory issues, though studies have not found it to be effective in improving memory or slowing cognitive decline. It should not be taken with blood thinners or in the days or weeks leading up to elective surgery, because it may increase your risk of bleeding. It can also increase or decrease insulin levels in people with diabetes, and can interfere with medications broken down by the liver, including those used to prevent seizures.

Ginseng
One of the world’s most popular supplements, ginseng may support the immune system, lower blood sugar, improve mood and boost endurance. But people with diabetes should take it only under a doctor’s supervision, and it can interact with blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs, certain cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering medications, and some antidepressants.

Garlic
Often used to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and support the immune system, garlic is another supplement that does not mix well with blood thinners. It may also interfere with some HIV drugs, migraine medications, certain antidepressants and with drugs broken down by the liver. However, garlic supplements shouldn’t be confused with the amounts of garlic typically used to flavor cooking. Modest amounts of fresh, dried or powdered garlic typically used in cooking shouldn’t interfere with medications.

So, you should be wary of supplements if you are on blood thinners or blood pressure medication and other life-saving drugs. You should also stop using supplements several weeks before surgery to avoid interactions with anesthetics and to avoid increasing your risk of bleeding. If you must undergo emergency surgery, be sure to inform your surgeon and anesthesia provider about all the supplements you are taking.

Drug-herb interactions can be especially serious in the elderly and young children, and you should never take supplements or medications while pregnant or breastfeeding without your doctor’s approval.

Dietary supplements can be very helpful, but please consult your doctor (including your dentist, eye doctor or dermatologist) before taking them if you are using prescription medications.

There is a lot of good research out there; however, there is also a lot of hype and misinformation. Your doctors are here to help you make sense of it all.

To read more about how medications and supplements can interact, visit the website of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

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Researchers find a more reliable cancer detector than tech

Westlake Legal Group Beagle715 Researchers find a more reliable cancer detector than tech The Blog medicine medical research dogs cancer

Graciously, after years as a senator and vice president, Joe Biden has vowed to defeat cancer. once and for all. But only if he’s elected President of the United States next year.

That would be a wondrous thing, even for a Democrat who falsely promised tens of thousands of new stimulus jobs back in 2010.

But just in case Biden loses, as poll leaders at this early stage usually do, medical researchers are working on an alternate path to diagnosing cancers early: Beagles.

All dogs have far better noses than humans. Especially those great trackers beagles. Dogs rarely share what they’ve deciphered from numerous sniffs, even from butts.

But now researchers with the American Osteopathic Association have determined that beagles can detect cancer by scent from a patient’s blood. With — wait for it — a 97 percent accuracy!

After only three weeks of training, a trio of beagles using just their God-given sensitive noses, were able to detect the difference between blood serum from healthy patients and from those suffering from malignant lung cancer, the leading cause of death for both men and women globally. Almost without fail.

As you might imagine, doggie treats as rewards are far cheaper and more immediate than existing time-consuming blood tests.

According to the study’s lead author, Thomas Quinn of Lake Erie College:

We are using the dogs to sort through the layers of scent until we identify the tell-tale bio-markers. There is still a great deal of work ahead, but we’re making good progress.

Early cancer detection drastically improves patient survival rates. Existing lung cancer tests like CT scans and chest X-rays have a high false positive rate, not to mention the elapsed time and expenses they require.

The BT’s (Beagle Tests) have been so successful, that Dr. Quinn and colleagues have expanded their doggie research into the canines identifying lung, breast and colorectal cancers using samples of patients’ breath collected through a face mask. Early results show an equally high accuracy rate.

Quinn added:

Right now it appears dogs have a better natural ability to screen for cancer than our most advanced technology. Once we figure out what they know and how, we may be able to catch up.

The post Researchers find a more reliable cancer detector than tech appeared first on Hot Air.

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Ocasio-Cortez on the VA: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Westlake Legal Group ocasio-cortez-on-the-va-if-it-aint-broke-dont-fix-it Ocasio-Cortez on the VA: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it Veterans Affairs The Blog socialized privatization ocasio-cortez medicine Medicare AOC

Westlake Legal Group a-2 Ocasio-Cortez on the VA: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it Veterans Affairs The Blog socialized privatization ocasio-cortez medicine Medicare AOC

If you don’t have time to watch the clip, no worries. It’ll be reprised a thousand times from many different pols over the course of your life once we finally realize the dream of Medicare for All. The system is working. The only threat is privatization.

Few, though, will be as bold as Ocasio-Cortez in citing one of the most chronically troubled agencies in the federal government as a case study in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Ask the average American to name a “broken” department and the VA would doubtless be a strong finisher, maybe even top two. (The Department of Ed is a perennial favorite.) VA scandals famously bedeviled the last Democratic president. It’s true that the agency has improved since the dark days of 2014 with shorter wait times on average for primary care and some specialties than in the private sector, although regions like the south with a higher concentration of vets continue to see longer waits. But to cite Veterans Affairs, of all entities, as some model of government performance is amazing.

A recent USA Today survey of VA hospitals revealed that, believe it or not, they continue to underperform the private sector in some important ways.

At roughly 70 percent of VA hospitals, the median time between arrival in the emergency room and admission was longer than at other hospitals, in some cases by hours, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the department’s data…

On patient satisfaction surveys, veterans overall were less likely than non-VA patients to say medical workers treated them with respect or listened to and respected what they had to say, the USA TODAY analysis found.

They were less likely to recommend VA hospitals to others and rated their medical care providers lower.

The VA scorecards analyzed by USA TODAY feature questions for inpatients and outpatients about their health care experiences. Nearly every VA facility – 141 out of 146 – scored below other facilities on a majority of questions surveyed.

Last year saw rare bipartisan consensus in Congress in streamlining how the VA pays for private care for veterans, which could end up quadrupling the number of vets who go outside the system for treatment. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who has personal experience here, is a fan:

Crenshaw said he has received care at four different VA facilities since his return from the war, but that too often care is inconsistent from location to location. Expanding options for veterans who face longer waits or insufficient expertise is not only a sensible step ahead, he argued, but a duty for the country.

“I need the VA to be flexible enough to send me outside for care,” he said. “This is a step in the right direction.”

As with so many other things, AOC’s messaging strategy is actually quite Trumpian. Imagine Trump pushing a big broad policy goal of his with some nuanced argument about making progress amid occasional setbacks. He doesn’t chatter at you about how easing illegal immigration requires a multifaceted approach that’ll involve technology, more border hires, aid to Central America, and ambitious enforcement measures like E-Verify. He’ll tell you to BUILD THE WALL. And not only that, he’ll tell you contra available evidence that THE WALL IS BEING BUILT AND IT’S WORKING. Ocasio-Cortez understands that the battle for hearts and minds over a change as momentous as nationwide socialized medicine isn’t going to be won with points like, “Well, the VA has sucked at times but it’s certainly gotten better recently!” You win with bold points that make people’s confidence surge: IT’S WORKING LIKE A DREAM. BUILD THE MEDICARE FOR ALL.

The post Ocasio-Cortez on the VA: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it appeared first on Hot Air.

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