[COLUMN] On beer, chocolate, energy drinks and other medical findings

BEER and bone health

Dietary silicon, which is found in beer, helps keep bone strong by improving the bone mineral density, a new report from the University of California, Davis, stated in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. The silicon content varies from beer to beer. After testing 100 commercial beers, the study found that the silicon content ranged from 6.4 to 56.5 milligrams per liter. Those containing high level of “malted barley and hops are riches in silicon.” This medical finding is for information only and not a recommendation for people to drink beer.

Chocolate and stroke

Three new studies have shown that eating dark chocolate appears to decrease the risk of developing stroke or lowers the death rate after a stroke. The reviews of these research on chocolate consumption and stroke expanded from 2001 to 2009, conducted at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Deadly air pollutants

Traffic pollutants, nitrogen dioxide and tiny particulate matter may be linked to higher death rates among people who have survived a stroke. The risk of dying rose 28% when the nitrogen dioxide was up by just 10 micrograms per 3 square meters of air. A similar increased in particulate matter was associated with a 52% increase in the death rate. These same pollutants in the air also cause cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

Acne drug vs. HIV

A cheap antibiotic used for acne has been found to “target the HIV infected immune system cells at their dormant stage before coming back to life and spreading the infection” to cause AIDS, according to Janice Clements, professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Minocycline (Minocin) “targets the T-cells and makes it harder for them to reproduce and keeping HIV dormant,” a welcome drug as an adjunct in the treatment of HIV infection. Incidentally, premature aging of the brain has been found among HIV patients.

Drug helps sex drive

The antidepressant drug Wellbutrin SR (bupropion) may help improve the sex drive in younger women suffering from HSDD (hypoactive sexual desire disorder) who have persistently low interest in sex, according to a study published in the  medical journal BJU International. Not approved in the United States, another drug, a testosterone patch called Intrinsa is being used in Europe for the treatment of HSDD among post-menopausal women. More extensive studies are needed to confirm the suggested effectiveness of bupropion for HSDD.

Music for anxiety

Massage has been known to help reduce anxiety very effectively and has been used in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. However, a new study shows that a cheaper and simpler alternative, resting and listening to enjoyable and relaxing music, is equally effective. Comparing the two, the researchers found no difference in their effectiveness (level of relief) after 3 months of therapy. Not to mention the convenience and cost difference in the two modes of treatment.

Heart rhythm on flight

Air flight could increase the risk of irregularity of heartbeat, especially among those individuals with a history of heart disease, says a new study presented at the American Heart Association annual conference in San Francisco last month. Flying is like going from sea level to scaling a mountain 8,000 feet high, which is obviously a great stress for the cardiovascular system, in spite of the pressurized cabin and all. The overall effect appears not to be significant, though, and flying is deemed safe for almost everybody, including those who have had open heart surgery and are asymptomatic.

Thalidomide ‘rediscovered’

The drug for morning sickness introduced about 50 years ago, Thalidomide, which was banned because it was found to cause birth defects, has been discovered to be effective in the treatment of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), which affects one in 5,000 people. With an anti-cancer power, Thalidomide is more recently used for the treatment of certain forms of cancer, like Multiple Myeloma.

Herbal not for asthma

Researchers found that people who chose to take herbals for their asthma were experiencing more episodes of shortness of breaths and poorer quality of life. These were individuals who were not on any prescribed medications or who had abandoned their physician-ordered drugs and took herbals instead. About 7.85% of the 309,115,457 population of the United States have asthma, increasing about 0.5% every 3 years. Louisiana (5.05%) has the lowest incidence and Rhode Island (10.68%) has the highest, while only one state, Nevada, experienced a decline in asthma cases. Herbals are not an effective substitute for the management of asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other medical conditions.

Vitamin D and cancer

About 150,000 Americans were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2009. Studies revealed that those with the highest level of Vitamin D in their blood stream have up to 40% lower risk of this cancer than those with low level of Vitamin D. Good sources of Vitamin D are sunlight, fish (salmon, tuna, etc.), breakfast cereal, yogurt, fortified milk. For daily supplement, Vitamin D3 is the form recommended by physicians.

Warning on energy drinks

Combining alcoholic beverage with caffeine energy drink is a popular cocktail today.  Energy drinks, unhealthy beverages, have been popular. This alcohol-coffee mix has been found to be dangerous, leading to higher state of drunkenness and severely impaired driving, compared to drinking alcoholic drink alone.

“There’s a very common misconception that if you drink caffeine with an alcoholic beverage the stimulant effect of the caffeine counteracts the depressant effect of the alcohol, and that is not true,” says Bruce Goldberger, director of toxicology in the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Being wide awake and drunk can lead to dangerous, if not deadly, consequences. Energy drinks have been associated with irregularity of heartbeat, heart attack, and death.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, newspaper columnist, and chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. He was a recipient of the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1995, presented by then Indiana Governor, US senator, and later a presidential candidate, Evan Bayh. Other Sagamore past awardees include President Harry Truman, President George HW Bush, Muhammad Ali, and Astronaut Gus Grissom (Wikipedia). Websites: FUN8888.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected].


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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