Monthly Archives: June 2016

Melatonin for Migraines?

MigraineMonth2016

In honor of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, today’s post will discuss recent research regarding the use of melatonin for migraine prevention.

A group of researchers from Brazil designed and completed a randomized placebo controlled study comparing melatonin, amitriptyline, and placebo for migraine prevention. A total of 196 participants were enrolled in the study, which included both men and women, ages 18-65. Patients were experiencing 2-8 migraine attacks per month. Subjects were evaluated by a trained headache specialist at the time of enrollment in the study, and then followed for 12 weeks. The main outcome measure was the number of migraine headache days per month. Secondary outcome measures included migraine intensity and duration.

Participants in the study kept a diary in which they recorded information about their headaches, which in turn was reviewed by the headache specialists at baseline, and at the end of 1, 2, and 3 months of treatment.

Results of the study showed that melatonin was as efficacious as the amitriptyline and superior to placebo, in decreasing the number of headaches per month (primary endpoint). Melatonin was superior to amitriptyline and placebo in headache responders, which were those participants with better than a 50% improvement in headache frequency. Melatonin also demonstrated less side effects than amitriptyline.

Given the results of this study, showing the efficacy of melatonin for preventing migraine headache with a favorable side effect profile, melatonin may be an option for those who find tradition therapies ineffective or suffer intolerable side effects.

(Source- Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2016; 0:1-6)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Yoga May Offer Hope for PTSD in Women

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In honor of PTSD Awareness Day, today’s post looks at research on the possible benefits of yoga on women with PTSD. Researchers from Boston designed a pilot study which involved 12 sessions of yoga in a group of women with PTSD, ages 18-65 years.

38 women were randomized to either a yoga intervention group, or a control group. Women in the yoga group had 12 sessions of yoga of 75 minutes each, with other elements such as mindfulness included. Subjects were assessed at the time of enrollment, after completion of the intervention, and at a one month follow-up. Questionnaires were used to assess the subject’s alcohol and substance abuse risk.

Researchers found a trend towards decreased alcohol and drug use in the yoga group, compared to the control group. Women in the yoga group also reported substantially approved symptom management. The research group theorized that the improved management exhibited by the yoga group may in turn lead to less alcohol and substance abuse.

As this was a small pilot study it was not large enough to find statistical differences between the two different groups. However it is important research as it looks at a understudied group, PTSD in women. The yoga intervention would seem to have few significant side effects. A larger study seems warranted based on this promising pilot study.

(Source- The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Volume 20, Number 10, 2014)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Acupuncture May Offer Help In PTSD

PTSD Awareness

 

Out of respect to National PTSD Awareness Day today’s post will examine a possible role for acupuncture in treating PTSD.

A group of researchers in Korea and the U.S. performed a systematic review of the published studies regarding acupuncture for PTSD. After eliminating several studies whose design did not meet criteria, researchers looked at four randomized controlled trials and one uncontrolled clinical trial. Study participants were from the U.S. and China.

After studying these particular clinical trials the researchers concluded that the evidence in support of acupuncture to treat PTSD was encouraging. They also felt that additional well designed studies in this area would be helpful.

PTSD can be a challenging condition to treat. It would great if new and novel treatments were available. Perhaps in the future some well designed clinical trials will provide a definitive answer as to acupuncture’s effectiveness to treat PTSD.

(Source- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013, Article ID 615857)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Eating Chocolate May Help Prevent Strokes

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt”.
Charles M. Schulz

In this installment in honor of Men’s Health Week, today’s post is about chocolate, specifically chocolate and the risk of stroke in men.

Swedish researchers followed a group of 37,000 men for upwards of ten years. The chocolate consumption was assessed at the start of the study using a food questionnaire. Men were grouped according the amount of chocolate consumed per week, and were then followed for incidence of stroke.

This study found that the consumption of chocolate was associated with a significantly reduced risk of stroke, in fact the men who were in the group of largest consumers of chocolate had a 17% lower risk of stroke than those men in the lowest chocolate consuming group.

This was the first chocolate study to look strictly at men, prior studies had looked at groups of men and women. Interestingly the prior studies of men and women showed a 19% decreased risk of stroke between the highest and lowest group of chocolate consumption, which is very similar to the risk reduction showed in this Swedish study.

The researchers noted that they did not differentiate between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. In Sweden, about 90% of the chocolate consumed is milk chocolate. From prior studies on chocolate it is felt that dark chocolate provides more benefits than milk chocolate. Perhaps if the study participants had eaten more dark chocolate than milk chocolate, the benefit would have been even greater.

So, enjoy your chocolate today. Make it dark chocolate if possible and eat in moderation.

 

(Source- Neurology 2012;79:1223-1229)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Got ED? Get Checked for Diabetes

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“I give you bitter pills in sugar-coating. The pills are harmless, the poison is in the sugar”
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

 

In our continuing series of blogs in June dedicated to Men’s Health Month today’s post will examine the relationship between erectile dysfunction (ED) and undiagnosed diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

A research group in Canada looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 2001-2004. The NHANES is designed to be a retrospective survey of the U.S. population. Researchers studied more than 4500 men ages 20 and older.

Researchers examined the association of ED with undiagnosed diabetes, undiagnosed high blood pressure, and undiagnosed high cholesterol amongst the sample of 4500 men.

ED was found to be strongly associated with undiagnosed diabetes, and in particular in men ages 40-59 years old. In the 40-59 year old age group undiagnosed diabetes was present in 19.1% of men with ED, whereas diabetes was present in only 3.3% of men without ED. Interestingly there was no statistically significant relationship between undiagnosed high blood pressure and ED, or undiagnosed high cholesterol and ED.

Given this convincing data men who develop ED should strongly consider being tested for diabetes.

 

(Source- Annals of Family Medicine, Vol. 13, No. 4)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Mom Was Right- Eat Your Wheaties

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“Hope makes a good breakfast. Eat plenty of it”.
Ian Fleming

 

In today’s installment in honor of Men’s Health Week I will review a study from Harvard University which examined the relationship between eating breakfast and risk of coronary heart disease, in a group of male health professionals.

Researchers look at data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS). which is an ongoing study of over 51,000 male health professionals from the U.S. The HPFS began enrolling subjects in 1986, and included men ages 40-75 at that time. After exclusions, nearly 27,000 men were enrolled in the sample. Dieting assessments were made by having the subjects fill out a dieting questionnaire. coronary heart disease (CHD)  was defined as non-fatal MI (heart attack) or fatal CHD, and was assessed by questionnaires as well as review of medical records and autopsy reports.

The results of the study showed that in age-adjusted models men who skipped breakfast had a 33% higher risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who ate their breakfast.

Also, men who ate breakfast late at night (defined as eating that occurs after going to bed) had a 55% higher risk of coronary heart diseases, compared to men who are not late night snackers.

It should be noted that this study was comprised almost exclusively of Caucasian males, and as such, the results may or may not be applicable to women or other ethnic groups. It would be interesting to see if these same results could be replicated in women or other ethnic groups.

So, for those of us who were told that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”  or to “eat your Wheaties”, it appears that once again, mom was right.

(Source- Circulation 2013;128:337-343)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Want to Avoid E.D.? Quit Smoking.

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“Smoking is harmful to the nose, harmful to the brain, and dangerous to the lungs”

King James I

June is Men’s Health Month, and this month I will write several articles about men’s health issues. In today’s post we will discuss the relationship between smoking and erectile dysfunction (ED).

A group of researchers at the School of Public Health at the Tongji Medical College in Wuhan China performed a meta-analysis of existing studies which covered the topic of smoking and ED. They eventually included ten studies which involved more than 50,000 men. Both smoking and ED were assessed by the use of questionnaires.

What the researchers discovered was that not only the quantity of cigarettes was positively associated with the risk of ED, but the duration (number of years) was associated with the risk of ED as well. For instance, the risk of ED increased 14% for smoking 10 cigarettes a day, and the risk of ED increased 15% for ten years of smoking.

One of the strengths of this meta-analysis is that is pools data from several countries, including Australia, China, U.S., Brazil and Italy, which increases the applicability of the results. Hopefully data like this will encourage men who smoke to think twice before they light up the next cigarette.

(Source- Journal of Sexual Medicine 2014; 11)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

Five Things Men Can Do To Help Prevent Heart Attacks

MHW_15

“The problem with heart disease is that the first symptom is often fatal.” 

Michael Phelps

June is Men’s Health Month, and this month I will write several articles about topics related to men’s health. In this post we will discuss five simple things men can do to help prevent a heart attack in the future.

A research group from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden enrolled nearly 21,000 men in a study which began in 1997 and ended in 2009. The men were of ages 45-79. In general this was a healthy group of men, with no history of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

The researchers looked at five different factors felt to be important in preventing heart attacks- diet, alcohol intake, use of tobacco, exercise level, and waist size. The men were assessed for these five elements by the use of a food frequency questionnaire and a physical activity questionnaire.

Researchers discovered that by following the five healthy diet and lifestyle habits-  quality diet (more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and fish), moderate alcohol consumption (3 or less drinks per day), no tobacco, exercise (walked/cycled 40 minutes/day with more formal exercise of one hour/week), and with waist size 37 inches or less could prevent 79% of the heart attacks in the study group. This is a profound drop in heart attack risk.

The total reduction in heart attack risk consisted of a 36% reduction in risk for not smoking, 18% reduction for a healthy diet, 12% reduction for a lower waist size, 11% reduction for moderate alcohol intake, and 3% reduction for being physically active.

The 79% risk reduction in heart attacks is substantial, particularly since the participants in the study were considered “healthy” (no cardiovascular disease) at time of enrollment in the study. These five elements of risk reduction would seem to be low impact, with few side effects. If you are a middle age male how many of these elements could you easily incorporate into your lifestyle, to help lower your risk of heart attack in the future?

(Source- Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol. 64, No. 13, 2014)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does in create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.