Popular pain killer… it doesn’t just dull pain… it may dull the brain too… next
Acetaminophen Dulls Brain Processing
Reported in bottom Line Personal, Tylenol dulls “evaluative processing”—your ability to notice something out of place (i.e., incorrect) in routine activities that you perform on “autopilot.”
Researchers at The University of Toronto gave 30 men and women a placebo, and another group of 30 1,000 mg of acetaminophen, which is what you’d get if you took two extra-strength Tylenol. The researchers hooked up the participants’ brains to EEG machines and gave them a fast-paced computer task designed to mimic the kind of autopilot we normally lapse into when doing routine or repetitive tasks.
Compared with the group that didn’t take the drug, the acetaminophen group failed to notice deliberate errors that were part of the computer task…and showed less activity in a part of the brain that normally lights up when you realize that you’ve made a mistake. In other words, the drug not only made them less aware of errors but reduced their ability to evaluate their actions…to realize when they’re off their game.
This skill is important. According to study author Dan Randles, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the university, “Sometimes you need to interrupt your normal processes or they’ll lead to a mistake. When you’re talking to a friend while crossing the street, for example, you should be ready to react to an erratic driver.”
More research is planned to investigate implications raised by this study, including whether acetaminophen also causes people’s minds to wander and to actually make more mistakes—not just fail to notice them.
Can marijuana be useful for arthritis? Many so-called experts Say no… but new research says yes…next
Study: Cannabis Fights Arthritis-Related Cartilage Loss
Emily Gray Brocious writing in Extract reported a study published recently in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health shows that synthetic cannabinoid treatment reduces osteoarthritis-related cartilage breakdown, as reported by The Weed Blog.
The findings align with years of anecdotal evidence suggesting cannabis may fight osteoarthritis-related cartilage breakdown as well as treating pain and discomfort that typically accompany the degenerative joint disease.
Due to marijuana’s analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties, it makes logical sense that the drug would act as an effective treatment option for osteoarthritis patients.
The most recent study, conducted by researchers at The Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in China’s Hunan province, provides scientific evidence to support “a novel mechanism by which cannabinoids may prevent cartilage breakdown in OA (osteoarthritis).”
Does Psoriasis Increase Risk of Abdominal Aneurysm?
Jack Cush writing in Rheum Now reported Danish researchers studied a cohort of 59,423 mild psoriasis and 11,566 severe psoriasis patients over a 14 year period. They found 240 and 50 cases of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), respectively.
When compared to the general population, the adjusted incidence rate ratios for AAA were increased in mild psoriasis and in severe psoriasis.
Comment: Disturbing and a caution for patients with psoriasis.
Expert advice about shingles vaccine in rheumatoid arthritis
Bruca Jancin writing in Rheumatology News reported on a lecture given by Dr. John Cush at the Winter Rheumatology Symposium. While the recommendation is against giving zoster vaccine to patients on biologics, Dr. Cush did a survey of more than 200 patients inadvertently given the vaccine while on biologics. Not one case of shingles occurred. A study conducted in Alabama of 633 patients on biologics given inadvertent zoster vaccine also failed to show an increase in shingles risk and actually showed a 39% reduction in shingles risk.
Comment: Reassuring news that shingles vaccine, even though it is live, is not the end of the world if given to patients on biologic therapy. That being said, I still think that a 4 week waiting period before vaccination while holding a biologic is prudent.
Uric acid lowering therapy is important for patients with symptomatic gout. However, for certain groups there is a risk of treatment… next
HLA-B*5801 Testing Needed In Asians And Blacks With Gout
Dr. Jack Cush in Rheum Now reported on a study by Choi and colleagues who analyzed US hospitalizations (2009–2013) to assess the frequency and racial distribution of patients hospitalized with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) related to the use of urate-lowering (ULT) therapy (predominantly allopurinol). They found 606 hospitalizations while receiving ULT. There was an overrepresentation of Asians (27%) and Blacks (26%), and an underrepresentation of Whites (29%) and Hispanics (% too low to report).
These SJS/TEN events were 12 time more frequent in Asians, and 5 times more frequent in Blacks when compared to Whites (reference group).
The HLA-B*5801 allele has been strongly linked with the allopurinol hypersensitivity syndrome and has been found in higher frequency in certain populations, especially Koreans, Japanese, Thai and Han Chinese – and in some Europeans. This study demonstrates the potential use of HLA-B*5801 in U.S. Asians and Blacks.
Comment: Really important info to know when treating certain racial groups with gout.
Bruce Jancin writing in rheumatology News reported on a British study of more than 13,000 patients who underwent total knee replacement. A matched nonsurgical group was used as control. During the first month after knee replacement, there was an almost 9 fold increase in the risk of heart attack compared with the control group. At 3 months the risk was four times greater and at 6 months 2 times greater. Another finding was that the risk of venous thromboembolism- a blood clot that goes to the lungs- remained elevated for 5 years.
Comment: Wow… not good news for you if you want to have a knee replaced.
Tequila Could Be the Basis for a New Osteoporosis Treatment
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick writing in MD reported in addition to being the most important ingredient in margaritas, substances derived from tequila can play an important role in health.
Not only did new research find that Agave tequilana (or tequila agave) may help maintain bone health, but it could also be the basis for a new osteoporosis treatment. Mercedes López, PhD, led the project at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) in Mexico.
Using animal models, the researchers induced osteoporosis in mice by removing their ovaries. The animals were then given agave fructans (polymers that store carbohydrates in some fruits and vegetables). After eight weeks, femur samples were collected in order to assess the absorption of minerals and osteocalcin (a protein that indicates new bone production).
“It was found that mice that consumed this fructans synthesized nearly 50% more of such protein, in addition that the diameter of their bones was higher compared with the subjects which were not supplied with derivatives of the agave,” López explained.
New osteoporosis drugs work well but may worsen rheumatoid arthritis…
Anti-sclerostin osteoporosis drugs worsen RA
Jeff Evans writing in Rheumatology news reported antisclerostin antibodies increase bone mineral density and have done well in clinical trials in osteoporosis. However, they may have the opposite effect in rheumatoid arthritis according to a German study. Researchers showed these drugs accelerate joint damage in mouse models of rheumatoid arthritis.
Comment: Often, new drugs aimed at helping one condition can worsen another.
Changing your gut bugs may be the next step in the future of medicine…
Pharmaceutical companies considering potential of treating microbiome
Elizabeth Preston writing in STAT reported that “as scientists learn more about the microbiome’s role in conditions ranging from allergies to anxiety to cancer,” pharmaceutical companies are “paying close attention.” The goal of such research is to “treat or prevent some of our most intractable diseases” by “delivering drugs to the microbiome.”
The microbiome has generated a ton of interest in researchers across all disciplines. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.
A commonly used over the counter drug causes dementia… next
Anticholinergic Medications May Be Linked To Increased Dementia Risk
Mandy Oaklander writing in Time reported researchers “analyzed already existing data from 451 people around ages 70-75 who had normal brains,” then “examined the results of memory tests, MRI brain scans and other neuroimaging data – all while paying particular attention to people who said they took anticholinergic” medications. Seniors “who regularly took at least one anticholinergic drug- sold over the counter and by prescription as sleep aids and for chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease according to Ben Tinker of CNN- showed poorer cognition, lower brain volumes and less glucose metabolism in the whole brain and the temporal lobe” than seniors who did not. The study was published online in JAMA Neurology.
Comment: Wow. The list of what we can take that doesn’t cause bad side effects is shrinking fast.