Dr. Lou’s Top 10 Medical Stories of 2007
Drug that Might Give You a Heart Attack… Avandia.
In previous years, it was hormone replacement therapy then Vioxx. This year, it’s the diabetes medication Avandia. In its 6/14/07 issue, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article that looked at data pooled from 42 trials which compared Avandia to Placebo. It showed an increased risk of both heart attack and cardiovascular death in patients on Avandia compared to patients receiving placebo. Thus far the FDA has not removed Avandia from the market and the manufacturer of Avandia questions the results of the analysis.
Over-the-Counter Drug which May Cause Anal Leakage… Alli.
Alli is the trade name of the drug Orlistat. Orlistat has been available as a prescribed weight loss drug since 1999. This year the FDA has approved it for over-the-counter sales at a lower dose than prescription strength. Orlistat works by blocking digestion and intestinal absorption of fat. When combined with calorie restriction and exercise, Alli can aid in weight loss. Unfortunately, it also can produce the side-effect of malabsorption, leading to vitamin deficiencies, bloating, diarrhea, and oily anal leakage.
Not So Surprisingly Bad for You Item… Soda Pop.
In an article published in the July 23, 2007 issue of Circulation, researchers reported that people who drank more than one can of soda daily (including diet soda) were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is comprised of high blood pressure, high fasting glucose, low good cholesterol, high triglycerides, and (possibly most important to the gay boys) increased waist circumference.
Amazing Medical Photo/ Surgery of the Year… The Pre-operative Photos and Surgery of Lakshmi Tatma.
Lakshmi is the Indian girl who was born with 4 arms and 4 legs due to becoming conjoined to a twin who died in-utero. Lakshmi had a successful 27 hour surgery to remove the extra arms and legs.
Doctor Behaving Badly… Doctor Raymond Adamcik.
Dr. Adamcik is a 54-year-old Florida physician who was arrested for allegedly groping women at a bar while he was dressed as Captain America, with a burrito stuffed down his tights. Link at thesmokinggun
Runner-up is Dr. Adam Hansen, the Mayo Clinic surgeon who was suspended from duty for taking a cell phone photo in the operating room of his unconscious patient’s penis, which had been tattooed with the words “Hot Rod”
Sad News for Foreskin Lovers… Circumcision Reduces Risk of Contracting HIV.
In the February 24, 2007 issue of Lancet, 2 studies were reported showing circumcision did reduce the risk of acquiring HIV infection. Study populations were young, uncircumcised, HIV negative men in rural Africa who were randomly assigned to either immediate circumcision or delayed circumcision. At 2 years, there were roughly half the number of new HIV cases in the circumcision groups than in the control groups in both studies.
Good News for Sun Lovers and Milk Drinkers… Vitamin D May Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer.
The July 18, 2007 issue of The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported results from an ongoing observational study following health professionals showing a statistically significant lower rate of colon cancer in subjects with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D. Sunlight and ultraviolet light turn the precursor form of vitamin D in the skin into an active form which can be transported to the organs. The active form of vitamin D can also be ingested from food or vitamin supplements.
Breakthrough Making the World Less Scary… Human Vaccine for Bird Flu.
Scientists have produced a vaccine for the H5N1 strain of bird flu. World-wide there have been over 300 human cases of bird-flu with about a 50% mortality rate. The main fear concerning bird flu has been its potential to cause a world-wide pandemic if it mutates to a form that can be spread directly via person to person contact. This year the FDA approved the first Bird Flu vaccine which appears to be protective. The vaccine is not available to the public, but will be produced and stock-piled in case of pandemic.
Bacteria Making the World a Little Scarier… Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria that can cause anything from skin infections and boils to life-threatening systemic infections. For decades there has been a growing problem with strains which have become resistant to certain antibiotics, though mainly spread in hospitals, especially intensive care units. Recent increasing numbers of community acquired MRSA, some causing fatal infections in previously healthy individuals, created a huge jump in news stories and public awareness concerning MRSA. Overuse of antibiotics is one of the main causes of increasing prevalence of MRSA and other bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics.
Heart Healthy Habit… The Siesta.
The February 12, 2007 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine reported the results of a large observational study showing a 37% lower coronary mortality in patients who frequently took daytime naps and a 12% lower coronary mortality in those who occasionally napped compared to non-nappers. There were numerous articles published in 2007 reporting improved health, memory, and performance in individuals getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.