Friday, August 17, 2007

Did Merck Hide the Fosamax Risks?

Merck, maker of the osteoporosis drug Fosamax, may have seriously under reported the risks of jawbone death related to the drug, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

Jawbone death is associated with the use of a bisphosphonate class of drugs that includes Fosamax. Bisphonsphonate-Related Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (BRONJ) is always serious. It destroys the bone in the jaw and it's extremely difficult to treat.

Another Fosamax adverse side effect that Merck chose to ignore was covered in our October 1st 2004 Friday Pearl. It focused on an ocular adverse drug study funded by Research to Prevent Blindness and published in Ophthalmology. This study suggested Fosamax stimulates the production of a distince subgroup of T cells that release cytokines associated with inflammatory uveitis and /or scleritis, which can lead to major loss of vision.

Are menopausal / postmenopausal women (by far the largest users of Fosamax and the target of the Fosamax TV ads), once again innocent victims of Big Pharma?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Grapefruit Intake & Breast Cancer?

This may come as a surprise to lovers of grapefruit.

An epidemiological study published in the July 2007 British Journal of Cancer suggets there could be a correlation between grapefruit consumption and breast cancer in menopausal and post-menopausal women.

The biological plausible mechanism of action for the observed effect is that grapefruit is a well known cytochrome CYP34A inhibitor (membrane-bound hemoprotein enzyme). As a result, regular consumption of grapefruit can increase circulating concentrations of estrogens, which are otherwise metabolized by these enzymes.

Higher systemic levels of estrogens are associated with a increased risk of breast cancer in older women.

The study conclusion suggests the information in this study might be sufficient for menopausal and post-menopausal women to limit their grapefruit consumption.

FYI: The Texas red grapefruit was designated the offiicial state fruit in 1993. Given the large number of people that could be affected by the study above; they may want to rethink this decision.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Smoking and AMD

Diseases related to cigarette smoking now include age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. AMD is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the US, with smokers up to four times more likely to develop the disease as nonsmokers, according to a recent study from Great Britain.

Sheila West, professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins, says since we are already on the verge of an epidemic of AMD related blindness due to our aging population, this is yet one more reason for smokers to quit.

There's reason to recommend smoking cessation now not just for general health, but for a number of other conditions to which are now added prevention of cataract and macular degeneration.

Smoking is more likely to be related to the severe forms of AMD and more likely to result in blindness.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Jersey Democrats, Creatine & Minors

The President of the New Jersey legislature, Sen, Richard Codey, introduced legislation (SB 1951) that would restrict the sale, distribution and possession of creatine to individuals under the age of 18. It's unclear whether the legislation will move forward or not, so far, no companion legislation has been introduced; however, the New Jersey senate and house both have democratic majorities, the governor is a democrat, the bill was introduced by the Senate President (democrat) and the Democratic Majority Whip is the chair of the committee of jurisdiction.

It would seem this bill has a good chance of passing unless the public becomes better educated about these three issues:

Steroids are dangerous.

Supplements are NOT steroids.

Supplements have real benefits for athletes

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid (protein building block) found mainly in muscles. About half of our bodies creatine is ingested through the foods we eat and the other half is made in the liver, kidney, and pancreas.

I can only assume that Senator Codey's major concern with young people is that some people insist on spreading the word that habitual use of creatine might possibly prevent young bodies from producing their own creatine, although I could find NO supporting science for this assumption.

As far as the iron-pumping gym rats who load up on too much creatine and any thing else they can get their hands on to look big and buff in their own mirrors; hate to tell you this guys-it's water weight, not strength, for the most part.

Nevertheless, a peer-reviewed study published in this months Journal of Strength Conditioning Research suggests that carbohydrate-protein (creatine) beverages consumed during the ride significantly prolonged endurance and prevented postexercise muscle damage in both male and female cyclists.