The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) have released a committee opinion statement that they recommend over-the-counter access to oral contraceptive pills (OCs). ACOG believes that access and cost are the major barriers to women using contraception, and that OTC birth control pills will greatly reduce those barriers, thus lowering the unintended pregnancy rate. ACOG feels that there is no significant safety risk when OCs are compared with medications such as aspirin, which has been OTC for decades. (Note, however, aspirin would unlikely be approved if it were starting the whole FDA approval process in 2012! Great drug, very … Read more
Following up on yesterday’s Great American Smokeout…, an interesting study was published this year looking at the effectiveness of TEXTING support to help people quit smoking. This was an analysis of several other studies, including over 9000 total participants. Text messages were used either exclusively or as a supplemental part of smoking cessation programs. Although the results were not fully consistent between the individual studies, ultimately the data is encouraging to support use of this ever-present appendage to aid people in quitting smoking.
In fact, the National Cancer Institute has a texting support program for smokers wanting to quit. … Read more
TODAY, the third Thursday in November, is the annual GREAT AMERICAN SMOKEOUT sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Each year, smokers are encouraged to use this day as a QUIT date, or at least as a day to make a plan to quit. If you have a friend who still smokes, please reach out to them today and kindly encourage them with a reminder that today is a special day earmarked for their health. With this vice, there is NO amount that can be justified as being “good” for you. Tobacco harms virtually every organ in the body. Everyone knows … Read more
Happy November! In honor of election day tomorrow, let’s ELECT NOT to gain the standard 7-10 pounds during the holidays this year. We have begun the eating trifecta…Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas/Hannukah. Americans love to celebrate these holidays with excessive amounts of high calorie foods- in large quantities. Can you enjoy the season and NOT gain weight? Of course! But yes, some discipline and primarily large doses of awareness are necessary.
Let’s start with the Halloween candy. Most people have “leftovers” of snack-sized chocolates. We finish up our favorites (always the Reeses cups in our home) and then mindlessly polish off … Read more
Difficulty swallowing, known medically as “dysphagia”, is a very common complaint. In fact, up to nearly a quarter of patients seen in primary care settings will suffer from this problem. Dysphagia is definitely more common in the older population, whether they are in nursing homes or living independently.
What causes dysphagia? The most common cause depends on the age. In small kids, there may be structural problems present from birth that may need surgical correction. In adults, however, the cause is often something that can be fixed more simply, with medications and/or behavior changes.
Smoking, excess alcohol, and obesity all … Read more
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women has been back in the news. In medicine, we’ve swung from placing virtually every post-menopausal woman on estrogen to barely allowing even the most miserable, hot-flashing, night-sweating woman to have any (after the Women’s Health Initiative- WHI). What’s the answer? Is estrogen safe or not?
As always, the devil is in the details. The WHI never said that we shouldn’t be using estrogen (and progesterone) for women who had menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes and night sweats). In fact, this is an excellent use of estrogen, and physicians and patients need … Read more
Continuing my discussion this week about the HPV vaccine Gardasil, I’d like to address side effects. At this point in the United States, there have been over 46 million doses of HPV vaccine administered (the vast majority Gardasil), which implies over 15 million people (since a series includes three shots.) Unfortunately, when you start involving a population this large, within that group there will be uncommon diseases that occur in the general population. For example, a disease that occurs in only one out of 500,000 will have 30 cases in this group. Sorting out which of these rare occurrences are … Read more
Continuing the discussion about the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine Gardasil...I’d like to step back and talk about exactly what is IN this vaccine. Much of the fear about immunizations surrounds concerns about the makeup of the vaccine, and what peripheral damage could potentially be caused from the content.
First of all, can you “catch” HPV from the vaccine? NO. Absolutely NOT. There are vaccines (like chicken pox or measles) that contain essentially watered-down versions of live virus, and as such, can in the course of an appropriate response cause a mild version of the disease as the body reacts … Read more
The Gardasil vaccine is back in the news. Gardasil is the vaccine recommended for both boys and girls to protect them against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes genital warts and cervical cancer) Yesterday, an article published in Pediatrics confirmed that girls who had received this vaccine did not, in fact, have any increased sexual promiscuity compared with their peers who did not receive the vaccine. Why was this study done? One reason for lower vaccination rates with this recommended vaccine (compared to other vaccines recommended in this age group) was parental concern that giving their preteen and teenage daughters … Read more
In 2009, headlines already noted that one in five teens “sext” despite knowing the risks. Teens sexting may be old news, but as the percentage of teens involved in cell phone based sending and receiving of sexually explicit pictures and texts increase, the links from this behavior to end points such as sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy need to be assessed. Last month in Pediatrics, a new study focused on teens & sexting: “Sexually Explicit Cell Phone Messaging Associated with Sexual Risk Among Adolescents“. Nearly 2,000 students from Los Angeles high schools were surveyed to try and determine … Read more