Pain relievers carry higher risks

July 13th, 2015    Posted by: ctslat

Suddenly, many over-the-counter pain relievers don’t seem to be that safe anymore.
The Food and Drug Administration recently decided to increase the consumer warning language on the labels of many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) due to the increased risk of stroke or heart attack for users.
NSAIDs are used to reduce fever temporarily or to treat minor aches and pains such as headaches, toothaches, backaches, muscular aches, tendonitis, strains, sprains and menstrual cramps. Common over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). In addition, some combination medicines that relieve various symptoms, such as multi-symptom cold products, contain NSAIDs.
“Be careful not to take more than one product that contains an NSAID at a time,” said Dr. Karen M. Mahoney, deputy director of FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products. To figure out if your favorite pain-relieving product is a NSAID, check the list of active ingredients in the Drug Facts label on the packaging.
The labels for both prescription NSAIDs and OTC NSAIDs already have information on heart attack and stroke risk. In the coming months, FDA will require manufacturers of prescription NSAIDs to update their labels with more specific information about heart attack and stroke risks. FDA will also request that the manufacturers of OTC NSAIDs update the heart attack and stroke risk information in Drug Facts labels.
FDA added a boxed warning to prescription drug labels for this risk in 2005. More recent data and information are prompting FDA to update NSAID labeling. Now medical experts know that the risk of heart attack and stroke may occur early in treatment, even in the first weeks.
“There is no period of use shown to be without risk,” said Dr. Judy Racoosin, deputy director of FDA’s Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Addiction Products.
People who have cardiovascular disease, particularly those who recently had a heart attack or cardiac bypass surgery, are at the greatest risk for cardiovascular adverse events associated with NSAIDs.
FDA is adding information in the drug label for people who already have had a heart attack. This vulnerable population is at an increased risk of having another heart attack or dying of heart attack-related causes if they’re treated with NSAIDs, according to studies.
But the risk is also present in people without cardiovascular disease. “Everyone may be at risk – even people without an underlying risk for cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Racoosin said.

Battling the mosquito plague

June 26th, 2015    Posted by: ctslat

Looks like the mosquito plague will be with us until at least November given the spate of recent wet weather.
The blood-sucking insects seem so thick in some areas it makes it difficult to be outdoors for any extended period.
But there are ways to repel the critters.
Wear insect repellent:
Products containing DEET, such as Cutter, OFF!, and Skintastic are effective.
Those containing Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin) also work well. Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced and Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus.
Repellents with oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD also are effective, such as Repel and Off! Botanicals.
An ingredient called IR3535 also works. It is found in Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
Beyond repellents, cover up by donning long-sleeved shirts and pants as well as hats.
Try to keep mosquitoes outside by using air conditioning or making sure screens don’t have small holes that will let in the bugs. Brush yourself off before entering the house to ensure you’re not bringing in hitchhikers. The blood you save may be your own.

Area beaches to be sampled again

June 25th, 2015    Posted by: ctslat

Monroe County health officials will be taking water samples again on Friday to see if the contamination levels that resulted in no-contact advisories for three area beaches have fallen within acceptable levels.
The health department issued advisories Wednesday afternoon for beaches at Bolles Harbor and Avalon Beach as well as the mile-long beach at Sterling State Park.
The levels of E. coli bacteria were substantially higher than permissible levels both on daily and 30-day mean scales. E. coli usually is associated with fecal matter. Episodes of water contamination with E.coli often occur after heavy rains that can cause sewage treatment plant in various communities.
To see the sampling results for the specific beaches, click here.
State officials are working to speed up water testing results by providing funding for more areas around Michigan to do real-time testing. That would eliminate the typical lag time that occurs between the time a water sample is taken and it is analyzed by a lab.

Standing water great for mosquitoes

June 23rd, 2015    Posted by: ctslat

Did you know Michigan has more than 50 species of mosquitoes? Sure you do. You probably met them all in the last few weeks.
All these bugs are different, to some degree, but can be put into two basic categories: Spring mosquitoes and summer mosquitoes.
Spring mosquitoes produce only one generation of adults each year. The larvae develop in low-lying areas that hold water from snow melt and spring rains. Spring mosquitoes had a great year this year due to the wet spring.
The bad news is that summer mosquitoes are like that relative who stops for a visit, but seems to never leave.
That’s because summer mosquitoes keep producing generation after generation as long as there is standing water available.
Seen any standing water lately?
Sure enough, all those flooded fields and lawns from recent rains are the perfect nursery for still another crop of the pesky insects.
See you at the blood bank.

Sunny summer brings melanoma risk

June 22nd, 2015    Posted by: ctslat

What’s the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States, and the deadliest?
Melanoma, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s an important statistic to consider as we mark the official start of summer. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are due to damage from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Melanoma rates doubled between 1982 and 2011 but comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs could prevent 20 percent of new cases between 2020 and 2030, according to the CDC.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. Melanoma rates rose from 11.2 per 100,000 people in 1982 to 22.7 per 100,000 in 2011. Without additional community prevention efforts, melanoma will continue rising over the next 15 years, with 112,000 new cases projected in 2030. The annual cost of treating new melanoma cases is projected to nearly triple from $457 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2030.
Melanoma is responsible for more than 9,000 skin cancer deaths each year. In 2011, more than 65,000 melanoma skin cancers were diagnosed. By 2030, according to the report, effective community skin cancer prevention programs could prevent an estimated 230,000 melanoma skin cancers and save $2.7 billion dollars in treatment costs. Successful programs feature community efforts that combine education, mass media campaigns, and policy changes to increase skin protection for children and adults.
“Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and clothes that cover your skin. Find some shade if you’re outside, especially in the middle of the day when the dangerous rays from the sun are most intense, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen.”
“The rate of people getting melanoma continues to increase every year compared to the rates of most other cancers, which are declining,” Dr. Lisa Richardson, Director of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “If we take action now, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of new cases of skin cancers, including melanoma, and save billions of dollars in medical costs.”

Fluoride: Too much of a good thing?

June 19th, 2015    Posted by: ctslat

Fluoride in the public water supplies long has been the subject of public debate.
Some suggest that its benefits in preventing tooth decay are outweighed by other potential health impacts. Cancer, kidney and heart disease all have, at one time or another, been blamed on fluoride. Some opponents to fluoridation claim it’s akin to rat poison.
There is no clear evidence that the amount of fluoride added to public water supplies poses a serious health threat. But now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that the fluoride level in drinking water be set at .7 milligrams per liter. This would replace a 1962 standard that recommended a range of .7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.
Why the change?
The government agency says it’s because Americans now have greater access to more sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, than they did when water fluoridation was first introduced in the United States. As a result, fluorosis has been on the rise.
Fluorosis is a discoloration of the teeth characterized by less-than-obvious lacy white markings or spots on the tooth enamel. The lower level recommendation is meant to still protect teeth from decay while lessening the likelihood of fluorosis, according to HHS.
“While additional sources of fluoride are more widely used than they were in 1962, the need for community water fluoridation still continues,” said U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. “Community water fluoridation continues to reduce tooth decay in children and adults beyond that provided by using only toothpaste and other fluoride-containing products.”
Ironically, the benefits of fluoride in preventing tooth decay first was noticed by a dentist in Texas in 1931. He was struck by the large number of his patients who had markings on their teeth, but also had remarkably healthy and decay-free teeth. After further research, he found that naturally occurring fluoride levels in the wells they used for water was the reason their teeth were so healthy.
Soon, it became pubic policy to add fluoride to water supplies to help prevent decay, especially in young people.
Now, nearly three-quarters of Americans who use a public water system are using fluoridated water.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named it one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century because of declines in both the incidence and severity of tooth decay.
Community water fluoridation has led to such dramatic declines in both the prevalence and severity of tooth decay that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named it one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
But the recommended reduction in the standard suggests we might be getting too much of a good thing because cases of fluorosis seem to have been increasing in recent decades.
The new U.S. Public Health Service Recommendation for Fluoride Concentration in Drinking Water for the Prevention of Dental Caries is available at

Tick off your tick-protection measures

June 18th, 2015    Posted by: ctslat

They’re little critters that can cause big problems.
Perhaps worse, it’s sometimes hard to know when they have arrived.
But ticks are a seasonal bane in many areas of the country, and when warm weather arrives, they’re not far behind.
Because they’re often out of sight, they’re often out of mind. Yet tick-related diseases are found in many areas across the United States, and the tick population has risen in recent years.
So before bounding into tall weeds, thick brush, high grass or wooded areas, protect yourself against the hitchhikers of the insect world.
The tiny, eight-legged bugs are hard to spot. Young deer ticks, which can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease, are barely this size of poppy seeds. Adults deer ticks are about as big as a sesame seed. If a deer tick carrying the bacterium bites you, you could get Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne illness.
More than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported annually in the U.S., and it is believed that most cases aren’t even reported. Estimates are that the actual number of cases might be 10 times that number. The disease occurs mostly in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
The habits and habitat of ticks make them especially creepy critters. They often lurk in tall grasses and hitch a ride on any creature that can provide it with a quick blood meal.
“Ticks can be so tiny that most people who get Lyme disease don’t recall a tick bite,” says Dr. Adriana Marques, a Lyme disease expert at the National Institutes for Health. If symptoms of the disease become apparent, “the earlier you get treated, the better,” she says.
Tick-related disease symptoms often include fever, headache, muscle or joint pain, and extreme fatigue. Those who contract Lyme disease often develop spreading red rash that is similar to a bulls-eye. The rash can be tender, but not painful or itchy, so people might not realize they are infected.
If untreated, it can spread, causing rashes at other points on the body other parts of the body. It also can develop into arthritis, nerve problems or other health issues.
Ticks bite most often in spring or summer when the ticks are at peak activity and people are getting outdoors more.
Here are tips for playing it safe that might tick off the ticks:
• Wear long sleeves, long pants and long socks.
• Use an insect repellant containing at least 20 percent DEET.
• Walk in the center of trails and avoid tall vegetation or grasses.
• Bath or shower as soon as possible after venturing in an area where ticks are common.
• Wash or tumble your clothes in a dryer on high heat.
• Check yourself carefully for ticks because they burrow into the skin before biting.

Protection should trump fashion in sunglasses

June 17th, 2015    Posted by: ctslat

Summer is at hand.
That means many of us who work or play outdoors are pulling out the warm weather gear and supplies.
But along with the sunscreen, broad-brimmed hats and UV-blocking clothing, one shouldn’t forget about protecting their eyes.
The most basic way to protect your eyes during the summer or during any bouts of sunny weather year-round is to find a good pair of sunglasses. Even a cheap pair might reduce eye strain and help keep pollutants from your eyes. But even the most fashionable might not offer the true protection from the sun that your eyes need.
When seeking the best sunglasses, don’t search first for the designer names or frames. Instead, make your priority a pair that blocks out 99 to 100 percent of ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-B radiation.
Such harmful radiation from the sun can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts and even can damage your eye’s retina and eyelid skin.
The American Optometric Association says good sunglasses also should:
• Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
• Have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion or imperfections.
• Include a frame that fits close to your eyes and contours to the shape of your face. Wrap-around sunglasses prevent exposure to UV rays from all sides.
If you wear prescription glasses, ask about prescription sunglasses with tints and full UV protection.

Heart screening of all newborns planned

February 12th, 2014    Posted by: ctslat

The State of Michigan is planning to require screening of all newborns after April 1 in an effort to detect congenital heart defects.
Learn about the program here.

State urges flu, pneumonia vaccines

October 21st, 2013    Posted by: ctslat

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), along with the Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA) and Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS), are urging all Michigan residents to get vaccinated against influenza (flu) and pneumococcal diseases, both of which can be life-threatening.
“We know that in order to create communities with the highest levels of protection, we need to partner with providers, health systems, local organizations, and statewide professional groups such as Michigan State Medical Society and Michigan Osteopathic Association to reach as many residents as possible,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH. “As physicians, we can do a better job of making sure our residents are up to date on their vaccines and as residents, parents, and community members, we all can do a better job of protecting ourselves and those we love.”
Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but some people are at greater risk for disease than others. Being a certain age or having some medical conditions can put you at increased risk for pneumococcal disease. Those who are at an increased risk due to age include children less than two years of age and adults 65 years of age and older. Other medical conditions, such as chronic illnesses, weakened immune systems, and cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks contribute to increased risk for pneumococcal disease. Adults who smoke or have asthma are also at greater risk.
“Influenza can be very serious and sometimes even fatal in people who are otherwise healthy,” said MSMS President Kenneth Elmassian, D.O. “Physicians and other health care professionals have a responsibility to immunize themselves to protect not only their patients, but also the people their patients come in contact with. Oftentimes, the patients we see are already ill, so to put them in harm’s way by not getting ourselves vaccinated is unacceptable. I strongly urge every health care professional – whether you’re a physician, a nurse or even if you work in billing or maintenance – to get vaccinated today.”
Influenza is also a life-threatening disease, especially for infants and the elderly. In Michigan there were seven influenza-associated pediatric deaths during the 2012-13 influenza season. About half of the pediatric deaths in 2012-13 were previously healthy children who had no risk factors for severe disease.
“Vaccination saves the lives of more than 3 million people worldwide each year and prevents millions of others from developing diseases and permanent disabilities,” says Myral Robbins, D.O., and President-elect with the MOA. “By receiving immunizations, you are protected against deadly diseases, such as pneumococcal disease, and fighting the spread of infection within your community.”
MDCH, MOA, and MSMS are urging Michigan families to talk to their health care provider today about the vaccines they need for themselves and their family. Michigan health care providers are encouraged to never miss an opportunity to vaccinate and to strongly recommend vaccines to patients of all ages.
To find a vaccine near you, visit For more information about vaccinations in Michigan, visit and