[Vol 38] Medi-Scene: Your Weekly Health News Update

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MediScene Vol 381. Study: Cholesterol medicines can help lower cancer-related deaths in women

According to an analysis published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, among women with breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or melanoma, those who were taking cholesterol-lowering medications, were less likely to die from cancer. The analysis included 6,430 women in Australia who were diagnosed with breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and melanoma, respectively, from 2003 to 2013. The women had been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins before their diagnosis. The more consistently women took these medications in the year after being diagnosed with cancer, the lower their likelihood of dying from the disease, suggesting that the drugs may have anti-tumor effects. Co-author Jia-Li Feng, BMed, MMed, PhD, of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, “If this inverse adherence-response relationship is confirmed, cholesterol-lowering medications primarily statins could be repurposed as adjuvant therapy to improve cancer prognosis.”

2. Critically ill infants given a blood transfusion before surgery have poorer outcomes: Study

According to the new study by Nemours Children’s Health System researchers, critically ill newborns who receive blood transfusions prior to surgery had about a 50% increased rate of complications or death than those who did not receive transfusions. The findings demonstrate the potential danger that blood transfusions may have on the surgical outcomes of neonatal patients. Loren Berman, MD, pediatric surgeon at Nemours Children’s Health System in Delaware, “In some cases, blood transfusions may be doing more harm than good when used before surgery in our most critically ill infants. Giving a transfusion in anticipation of blood loss may seem prudent, but our findings suggest that a “wait and see” approach to giving infants blood during surgery may reduce surgical complications and the risk of death.” Berman and her colleagues conducted a retrospective database analysis of 12,184 infants who underwent surgery between 2012 and 2015. From there, a total 1,209 were identified who received a blood transfusion within 48 hours prior to surgery. The team compared the complications and deaths that occurred in this group within 30 days after surgery to those who did not receive a pre-operative transfusion. Because the group that received transfusions was found to be sicker prior to surgery, the team also conducted propensity score matching, statistical analysis to make a more equal comparison. Dr Bermn further added, “”It is clear that research is desperately needed to inform decision-making and improve surgical outcomes in these vulnerable infants.”

3. Seasonal illnesses see a sudden peak

The change in Delhi’s weather has led to a surge in cases of influenza, marked by cold, cough, sore throat and fever, among others, symptoms similar to those for Covid-19. Due to these similarities, the doctors said that flu, otherwise considered a harmless viral infection, is causing panic among people. Dr Atul Gogia, senior consultant, internal medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “The mortality rate of flu is less than 0.1%, but people are frightened because its symptoms are similar to those of Covid, which has a mortality rate over ten times higher. In the case of the latter, recovery time is also longer.” Both Covid and flu, or the seasonal influenza, cause respiratory discomfort and are transmitted by contact, droplets and fomites. But, according to the World Health Organization, there are important differences between the two viral infections and how they spread. WHO says, “While the true mortality of Covid will take some time to fully understand, the data we have so far indicate that the crude mortality ratio (the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases) is between 3% and 4% and the infection mortality rate (the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections) is lower. For seasonal influenza, the mortality is usually well below 0.1%. However, mortality is to a large extent determined by access to and quality of healthcare.” Those most at risk for severe influenza infection are children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with underlying chronic conditions and those who are immunosuppressed. Dr Jugal Kishore, head, department of community medicine, Safdarjung Hospital commented saying, “For flu, there exists a preventive vaccine. We advise all elderly people and those at high-risk of developing complications to avail vaccination before the onset of winter. However, there is no preventive vaccine available for Covid as yet.”

4. Cardiovascular disease after menopause linked to PCOS

According to findings presented at the virtual American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) 2020 Scientific Congress, Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) before menopause appear to have a greater risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular events after menopause. Presenter Jacob Christ, MD, a resident at the University of Washington in Seattle said, “We found a PCOS diagnosis prior to menopause was associated with a 64% increased risk of cardiovascular disease after menopause independent of age at enrollment, race, body mass index, and smoking status. Taken together, our results suggest that women with PCOS have more risk factors for future cardiovascular disease at baseline, and a present PCOS diagnosis prior to menopause is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease after menopause.” Amanda N. Kallen, MD, an assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Yale Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut said, “As fertility specialists, we often see women with PCOS visit us when they are having trouble conceiving, but often [they] do not return to our care once they’ve built their family. This excellent talk emphasized how critical it is for us as reproductive endocrinologists to have ongoing discussions with PCOS patients about long-term cardiovascular risks at every opportunity, and to emphasize that these risks persist long after the reproductive years have ended.” Characteristics of PCOS in adolescence are already understood, including hyperandrogenism, acne, irregular bleeding, and variable ages of menarche. Similarly, in women’s reproductive years, PCOS is linked to abnormal uterine bleeding, hirsutism, dyslipidemia, infertility, impaired glucose tolerance, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Dr Christ further added, “What is less clear is if baseline cardiometabolic dysfunction during reproductive years translates into cardiovascular disease after menopause. Menopausal changes may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease among PCOS women, as it is known that overall, androgen levels decline during menopause. Furthermore, ovarian aging may be delayed in PCOS women, which may be protective against cardiovascular disease.” Among 1340 women included in the analysis, 174 (13%) women had PCOS and 1166 did not. The average age at screening and at menopause were not significantly different between the groups, but they did differ based on other baseline characteristics. Ginny Ryan, MD, MA, professor and division chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle said, “Although the findings are not necessarily surprising, the study’s value particularly lay in its size, prospective data collection, and rigorous methods. While this study’s criteria used to identify subjects with PCOS selected a population with a particularly severe phenotype of PCOS and thus a higher risk population for cardiovascular disease, it is vital for women’s health providers to truly understand the medium- and long-term life-threatening associations found more commonly in many with PCOS.”

5. Some mouth was and oral rinse may help reduce Covid-19 spread: New Study

According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Virology, certain mouthwashes and oral antiseptics may inactivate human coronaviruses, and help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19. indicate that some of these products might be useful for reducing the viral load, or amount of virus, in the mouth after infection. The researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine in the US tested several oral and nasopharyngeal rinses in a laboratory setting for their ability to inactivate human coronaviruses, which are similar in structure to SARS-CoV-2. The team found that several of the nasal and oral rinses had a strong ability to neutralise human coronavirus, which suggests that these products may have the potential to reduce the amount of virus spread by people who are Covid-19-positive. Craig Meyers, a professor at Penn State College of Medicine, “While we wait for a vaccine to be developed, methods to reduce transmission are needed. The products we tested are readily available and often already part of people’s daily routines.” They treated solutions containing a strain of human coronavirus, which served as a readily available and genetically similar alternative for SARS-CoV-2, with the baby shampoo solutions, various peroxide antiseptic rinses and various brands of mouthwash. The researchers allowed the solutions to interact with the virus for 30 seconds, one minute and two minutes, before diluting the solutions to prevent further virus inactivation. According to Meyers, the outer envelopes of the human coronavirus tested and SARS-CoV-2 are genetically similar so the research team hypothesized that a similar amount of SARS-CoV-2 may be inactivated upon exposure to the solution. Several of the mouthwash and gargle products also were effective at inactivating the infectious virus, the researchers said. Many inactivated greater than 99.9 percent of virus after only 30 seconds of contact time and some inactivated 99.99 percent of the virus after 30 seconds, they said.

Reference links:

  1. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/cholesterol-medications-linked-to-lower-cancer-related-deaths-in-women-finds-study/78784977
  2. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/study-finds-critically-ill-infants-given-a-blood-transfusion-before-surgery-have-poorer-outcomes/78785786
  3. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/the-other-viral-seasonal-illnesses-see-sudden-peak/78779529
  4. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/939402
  5. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/new-study-suggests-some-mouthwashes-oral-rinses-may-help-reduce-covid-19-spread/78790043

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