Should Doctors Recommend Alcohol for Patients’ Health? Experts Debate

Should doctors recommend alcohol as a way to reduce their risk of heart disease? At the recent Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse annual meeting, an expert in heart health and an expert in addiction and primary care medicine came up with sharply different answers.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the Boston University School of Medicine and a senior investigator in The Framingham Heart Study, argued in favor of recommending alcohol to benefit patients’ health. “Is light to moderate alcohol intake associated with beneficial health effects?” His answer is overwhelmingly yes, based on trials in humans and a huge amount of experimental data. He notes there have been many thousands of experimental studies (animals and humans) that support the premise that moderate alcohol and wine intake is associated with better health outcomes.

“While I am not recommending that everyone should drink, it is important that the public be given the truth. Middle-aged and older people should be aware that, unless contraindicated (by former abuse, pregnancy, religious beliefs, etc.), the regular consumption of a small amount of alcohol each day is associated with a lower risk of most of the diseases of aging, and with a longer lifespan,” Dr. Ellison said.

The important message to tell the public, he says, is explaining that drinking patterns make a big difference. “Fourteen drinks a week can mean two drinks a day, or all 14 drinks in one weekend—there’s a striking difference between the two,” he said.

Full story of doctors recommending alcohol at DrugFree.org

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Heartburn drugs could cause B12 deficiency

Patients who use certain acid-suppressing drugs for heartburn over a period of two years or longer are more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency than those who do not use them, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2 blockers), are available by prescription and over-the-counter, under names such as Prilosec and Nexium. They are designed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, as well as other acid-related conditions.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, looked at the medical records of 25,956 adults who received vitamin B12 deficiency diagnoses between 1997 and 2011, comparing them with 184,199 patients without B12 deficiencies.

They found patients who took PPIs for more than two years were 65% more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency and when patients were given higher doses of the PPIs, the deficiency was even more prevalent.  The risk of deficiency was not has high in  patients who used  H2 blockers long-term: 4.2%, compared with 3.2% of nonusers.

But with both drug types, researchers say they believe this happens because these medications suppress the production of gastric acid, which keeps the body from absorbing vitamin B12.

Full story of B12 and heartburn medication at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Can you OD on caffeine?

The rumor: It’s possible to get caffeine poisoning

As he was driving down an Ohio freeway minutes after swallowing five Magnum 357 caffeine pills, Christian Brenner started to vibrate — and the cars in his rearview mirror did as well. Fortunately, Brenner pulled over and walked around in an effort to try and come down.

Today, he swears off caffeine, even coffee — the mental aftereffect of what he says was straight-up caffeine poisoning.

The verdict: Yes, you can OD on caffeine. The trick is to know your body, pay attention to what else you’ve ingested and do your homework on energy drinks

Caffeine acts as a stimulant in humans. It can be found in the seeds, leaves and fruit of plants like coffee or kola nuts.

“Safe doses of caffeine are usually quoted at around 200 to 300 milligrams, or two to four cups of coffee per day,” says Dr. David Seres, associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University.

Full story of OD on caffeine at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Half of us may be able to see without light

Wave your hand slowly in front of your face.

Did your eyes track the movement? If so, your brain has formed a memory of that action; it will remember what the motion looks like in case you ever do it again.

In fact, a new study suggests that even if you wave your hand in front of your face in total darkness, your eyes may “see” it simply because they’ve seen it before.

“One thing our brains are exceptionally good at is picking up on reliable patterns,” said lead study author Duje Tadin, professor of cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. “Think about how many times you moved your hand and saw that movement … It makes sense that our brains exploit this strong link.”

Tadin and his colleagues conducted five experiments involving a total of 129 people. Their results were published online this week in the journal Psychological Science.

The blindfolds

For the first two experiments, participants were shown two blindfolds. They were told that one of the blindfolds “may allow a small amount of light to pass through.” In reality, both blindfolds blocked all light.

Full story of seeing without light at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Teen Filmmaker: My View of Teen Medicine Abuse

With his new documentary, “Out of Reach,” filmmaker Cyrus Stowe, a senior at a Dallas high school, set out to uncover the growing problem of friends sharing and abusing prescription medications in his hometown.

If you’re selected to create a film, debut it at a New York City film festival, cast it with friends from your own life and do it within the span of about a month, it’s a pretty daunting undertaking.

The subject of my film, “Out of Reach,” was teen abuse of prescription medicine, and drawing on my own, very personal connection to the issue, it took me on a life-changing adventure. Co-produced with a great mentor, Tucker Capps of A&E’s “Intervention,” it premiered last week in New York City at the Genart Film Festival.

From my first treatment to the final cut, I wanted to raise awareness about just how many teens are abusing medicine. However, it wasn’t until I started talking to my friends and making this film that I understood the true scope of the problem, which is pretty scary.

I go to school and am friends with kids who have been abusing medicine for years, but I didn’t have the slightest clue they were using. These are good, smart kids, and if I had no idea, I imagine that many of their families don’t either. My friends, those in front of and behind the camera, are a big reason why this film was possible, and I’m so thankful they could be a part of it.

Full story of teen medicine abuse at DrugFree.org

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education