House Calls

  1. Study should be final word on PSA for older men

    by Dr. Alan Inglis

    If you're over 75 years old and some doctor is still trying to give you a PSA screening for prostate cancer, get a second opinion – fast.

    More research has emerged that seriously calls into question the value of this already- flawed test for older gentlemen. You might recall that last year the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force urged doctors to stop giving the PSA to older men.

    That didn't stop the practice, of course, even though the PSA has been a pretty lousy predictor of prostate cancer.

    The overall mortality rate from prostate cancer has dropped only about 6 percent to 8 percent since PSA testing first began about 15 years ago. Meanwhile, the number of cancer diagnoses has more than doubled, resulting in a great deal of unnecessary treatment, cost, and suffering for many men.

    The new research, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, looked at men over 75 and found that not one – let me repeat that, not one – died of prostate cancer if he had a PSA reading of under 3 nanograms per milliliter.

    It's not that they found the risk was low – they found the risk was zero.

    For men with PSA readings higher than 3 nanograms per milliliter, the study authors concluded there might be some value to continued screening, as these men are in a higher risk group.

    Exactly how high that risk is, I'm not sure. Study after study shows that most forms of prostate cancer are very slow growing, and men with prostate cancer are likely to die of something else first.

    At any rate, two-thirds of men over 75 have PSA readings below 3 nanograms per milliliter, which means that, for the vast majority of older men, this testing craziness can finally end.

    It's about time.

  2. Science proves mom right again…

    by Dr. Alan Inglis

    Once again, it turns out mom knew best. I'm sure plenty of us grew up with a mother who insisted on operating a clunky humidifier in our bedrooms during cold and flu season. Our mothers swore the little puffs of steam helped ward off illness – and they were right.

    A new study demonstrates how the flu jumps from one person to another through dry air. This explains why the flu season gets more intense in those calendar months when we are all indoors, where we breathe drier air.

    Turns out, when the air is dry, the virus survives for a longer period. A group of Oregon researchers found strong links between absolutely humidity and trends in how the flu virus was transmitted and how long it lived. In short, by keeping your home and work space from getting too dry, you can cut down on flu transmission.

    But if you're getting ready to haul out the trusty humidifier, don't go nuts. A little bit of moisture will allow you to reduce flu transmission, while too much moisture (especially in a small space) can lead to mold growth.

  3. Prescription drug abuse finally on FDA's radar

    Now, the organization charged with protecting our health has finally decided to do something about the abuse of prescription opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin.
  4. Bad eating habits, courtesy of mom and dad

    Good dietary habits begin at home, according to a new study from the University of California at Los Angeles. And if you don't eat well, don't expect your kids to, either.
  5. FDA finally announces new heparin guidelines

    Case in point, the FDA announced with much fanfare recently that it was implementing new measures to prevent the contamination of the blood thinner heparin.
  6. America's seniors have plenty to smile about

    A recent survey found that the older people get, the happier they are-America's seniors are even happier than young folks.
  7. Hamburger, kidney disease and fries

    A new study has found that these foods are often loaded with phosphorous, which can be deadly if you have advanced kidney disease.
  8. Don't turn spring cleaning into a germ-fest

    If you think you're doing a healthy thing wiping down your counters, doorknobs and appliances with those antibacterial wipes, research shows you need to reconsider.
  9. Doctors ignoring drug interaction alerts when writing prescriptions

    According to a new study, doctors are ignoring electronic drug interaction alerts up to 90 percent of the time!
  10. Skip the gym… and get a sponge

    New research is recognizing the benefits of a good sweat-which means at least 20 minutes of sustained exercise-and housework can be a source.
  11. Gardasil's European tour off to a rocky start

    Spanish authorities recently recalled the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil after two girls had to be hospitalized shortly after getting injections.
  12. Straighten out your wrinkles with these natural cures

    Free radicals hurt more than just your heart and eyes. They can also do a lot of damage to your skin.
  13. Banning popular painkillers proving to be an ugly process

    An FDA panel recently recommended that the painkillers Darvon and Darvocet be pulled from the market. And it's about time.
  14. Good news, bad news with new online salmonella resource

    The FDA has created a pretty useful online tool where you can see exactly which products have been recalled because of the salmonella scare.
  15. Steroid inhalers not a breath of fresh air for asthmatic kids

    A recent study from the University of Leicester in England reexamined the protocol at many hospitals, where children who are admitted with sudden wheezing attacks often are given steroid inhalers.
  16. Keeping your brain sharp may be easier than you think

    You can get a sneak peek at an elderly person's future mental health if you know something about their lifestyle, outlook and exercise habits.
  17. Air Force policy gives wings to alternative health treatment

    The Air Force announced recently that it is going to train more doctors to use acupuncture to treat injuries in the field.
  18. The secret weapon against breast cancer

    If you're a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, all the more reason to have your vitamin-D level checked: research suggests a link between low levels and recurrence of, or death from, the cancer.
  19. FDA helped unleash salmonella-laced peanuts on public

    The FDA played a larger role than we thought in allowing a salmonella outbreak to sweep through the nation, sickening hundreds and possibly killing 8 people.

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