People who take cholesterol-lowering statins may be at twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, says a new study.
Statins are a class of drugs that can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. More than a quarter of middle-aged adults use a cholesterol-lowering drug, according to estimates.
The study, published in the Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews journal, found that statin users had more than double the risk of diagnosis compared to those who didn’t take the drugs. Those who took the cholesterol-lowering drugs for more than two years had more than three times the risk of diabetes.
“The fact that increased duration of statin use was associated with an increased risk of diabetes – something we call a dose-dependent relationship – makes us think that this is likely a causal relationship,” said the study’s lead author Victoria Zigmont, a graduate student at the Ohio State University.
“Statins are very effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes. I would never recommend that people stop taking the statin they’ve been prescribed based on this study, but it should open up further discussions about diabetes prevention,” Zigmont added.
For the study, the researchers included over 4,000 men and women who did not have diabetes, were candidates for statins based on heart disease risk and had not yet taken the drugs at the start of the study. About 16 per cent of the group – 755 patients – were eventually prescribed statins during the study period.
Researchers also found that statin users were 6.5 percent more likely to have a troublingly high HbA1c value – a routine blood test for diabetes that estimates average blood sugar over several months.
“Although statins have clear benefits in appropriate patients, scientists and clinicians should further explore the impact of statins on human metabolism, in particular the interaction between lipid and carbohydrate metabolism,” said co-author Steven Clinton, a Professor at the varsity. (IANS)
Early exposure to anaesthetics in life may make adolescents more susceptible to developing alcohol use disorder (AUD), warn researchers. Anaesthetics are commonly used drugs in the healthcare field and are often administered to children to induce unconsciousness and immobility during surgeries.
For the findings, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, the research team examined whether exposure to anesthetics during adolescence could affect a person’s response to alcohol in adulthood, especially the development of AUD.
Researchers discovered that anaesthetic exposure during adolescence may be an environmental risk factor that leads to an increased susceptibility to developing AUD later in life. Although not all adolescents who drink alcohol develop AUDs, the research team said it’s important to identify risk factors that contribute to an increased susceptibility to alcohol abuse
“This is highly concerning. Given that although the age of initiation and subsequent binging during adolescence are linked to alcoholism later in life, apart from stress, it was not clear what other environmental factors may play a role,” said study author David Werner from Binghamton University, New York in the US. During the study, researchers exposed early-adolescent male rats to isoflurane, a general anaesthetic, in short durations and tested them on various alcohol-induced behaviours later in adolescence or adulthood.
The team found that exposure to anaesthetics in adolescence had extremely similar behavioural and neural effects as adolescent chronic alcohol exposure. In the study, the adolescent rats exposed to isoflurane had a decreased sensitivity to the negative effects of alcohol, such as its aversive, sedative and socially suppressive effects. These rats also showed an increase in voluntary alcohol consumption and cognitive impairment, and certain behaviours continued into adulthood after their initial anaesthetic exposure.
These results further suggest that exposure to anaesthetics during adolescence, while in some cases is necessary, may have unintended consequences that incubate over time. “Apart from infancy to early childhood, adolescence can be considered the most critical developmental stage following birth,” Werner said. (IANS)
Drinking coffee may help reduce the risk of certain digestive disorders, including gallstone disease and pancreatitis, a new study has suggested.
The study from the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) also highlighted other beneficial effects that coffee consumption may have on the process of digestion, including supporting gut microflora and promoting gut motility. “Data indicates benefits against common digestive complaints such as constipation, as well as a potential reduction in the risk of more serious conditions like chronic liver diseases,” said study author Carlo La Vecchia from the University of Milan in Italy.
Gallstone disease is a common digestive disorder, caused by the accumulation of gallstones in the gallbladder or bile duct, which affects approximately 10-15 per cent of the adult population. While the mechanism by which coffee may protect against gallstone disease is not yet known, it has been observed that the risk for the condition declines with increasing daily consumption of coffee, the researchers said. Caffeine is thought to play a role in these associations, as the same effect is not observed with decaffeinated coffee.
A common question among consumers and focus area for research is whether coffee is associated with heartburn or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). While a small number of studies have suggested an association between coffee drinking and GORD, the majority of studies reviewed suggest that coffee is not a major trigger of these conditions.
The report also reviewed a growing area of health and nutrition research, namely: the effect of coffee on the gut microflora (microorganism populations). Recent studies suggest that populations of the beneficial gut bacteria Bifidobacterium spp, increase after drinking coffee. The findings showed the dietary fibre and polyphenols found in coffee, support the healthy growth of microflora populations.
Additional research findings highlighted that coffee consumption is thought to stimulate digestion by encouraging the release of gastric acid, bile and pancreatic secretions. Coffee is one of the most widely researched components of the diet, and its effect on digestion remains a growing area of research, the researchers noted. (IANS)
The body’s immune system plays a vital role in safe-guarding us from most infections, but as we age, our immune system also ages and gradually loses its ability to fight against infections. Among older people, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart and liver ailments put pressure on their weakened immune system, which makes it more difficult for them to deal with threats like the Coronavirus.
Dr Karthik Anantharaman, Director e-pharmacy, Medlife talks about the various chronic ailments that affect immunity and how one can protect themselves with the right diet, exercise and medicines. These exercise workouts can go a long way.
Diabetes is a major cause for concern among the older generation, and if not kept in control, may make them susceptible to other high-risk infections. High amounts of sugar in the body tends to release free-radicals, which can damage blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis, a condition that restricts free blood flow in the body.
This may cause a stroke, or damage the smaller blood vessels present in the entire body – the eyes, leading to diabetic retinopathy, the kidneys – diabetic nephropathy, the nerves – diabetic neuropathy, where the patient loses all his sense of pain.
Uncontrolled blood sugar and diabetes also has a negative impact on the body’s immune system. It suppresses the immunity providing white blood cells (WBCs). When faced with an external infection, the immune system produces a protein called eantibody’, which is tested as eantibody test’, as a part of the eCOVID-19 tests’ to check whether the body has produced enough eantibodies’ to attack the virus from inside. This is done mainly because once the body produces enough antibodies to fight an infection the first time, there is little to no chance of the same infection returning again, which is the basis for any vaccine.
People who suffer from low thyroxine hormone levels are also at huge risk when dealing with infections due to reduced immune function. The thyroid gland is very important when it comes to managing several important body functions. The gland has an impact on pancreas, blood vessels, brain functions, digestive system, breathing functions, kidney, liver and the heart, thus making it important for immunity as well. Maintaining a normal level of thyroxine in the blood is extremely critical to the functioning of multiple organ systems, aside from the actual production of blood cells in the body.
Liver and Kidney
Liver and kidney-related ailments also negatively impact the immune system. In cases of liver or kidney failure, a patient can have a significantly weakened immune system due to reduced production of blood cells from bone marrow and some of the medicines used to treat liver/kidney diseases directly reduce immunity as well. Such patients need to take extreme care to keep infections at bay and not skip routine tests and medicines.
Heart patients are typically ones with high blood pressure & high cholesterol. High BP patients need to control their salt and fluid intake & their daily intake needs to be monitored the most. Heart patients also need to ensure they take their medications on time, at the exact prescribed hour because the intervals at which the medicines are taken at, inform their doctor on how the patient’s heart is performing. Based on this data, they may increase/decrease dosage or change the medicine.
Stress is a major factor in today’s lifestyle that needs to be watched out for, especially for heart patients.
Dos and Don’ts
For all the above listed ailments, a combination of healthy food, timely exercises, and combining it with medicines and tests is more than enough to ensure a healthy body, and a healthy immune system. For instance, someone with kidney complications needs to watch out for total salt intake, which has to be bare minimum, and fluid intake, which has to be in proportion with the food eaten. Someone with liver complications has to stay away from alcohol. Intake of foods rich in Vitamin B and Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Zinc are the most effective ways to increase the production of WBCs and antibodies. A healthy amount of sunlight also needs to be absorbed by the body to ensure a good amount of Vitamin D.
Increase in medication sales during COVID-19
Chronic ailments such as diabetes or high blood pressure don’t just disappear; they need to be monitored every single day. With the rise of COVID-19 cases day by day, people are becoming more aware, have more fear and are thus taking steps to ensure their safety, by keeping themselves equipped. They are becoming more compliant with their medication and ensuring they take it regularly and on time, which is why there is an increase in the sales of these medications. “Over the last couple for months, we have seen a sharp increase in the sales of blood pressure and diabetes medicines, more specifically, a 20% increase in blood pressure and heart medicines and a 10% increase in diabetes medicine”, says Dr Karthik.
How important is it for chronic patients to not skip/delay lab tests?
For most chronic diseases, like diabetes & high cholesterol, tests are prescribed at specific intervals. For instance, a random blood sugar test is to be done at least twice a week, fasting sugar is to be done at least 5 times a week, but that seldom happens in practicality. Hence, we recommend patients to do a fasting blood sugar test at least 2 times in a week and keep their records. For a hypertensive patient, maintaining a record of their pressure at least once a day is crucial. This kind of sequential data is very critical for a doctor to take decisions pertaining to their patients. (IANS)