Lightning linked to headaches
Lightning linked to headaches
When lightning strikes, it might be a good idea to run to the medicine cabinet, according to University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers.
A recent study showed there was a 31 percent increased risk of headache and 28 percent increased risk of migraine for chronic headache sufferers on days that lightning struck with 25 miles of study participants’ homes. New-onset headache and migraine increased by 24 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
“Many studies show conflicting findings on how weather, including elements like barometric pressure and humidity, affect the onset of headaches,” said UC medical student Geoffrey Martin, who led the study with his father, Vincent Martin, M.D., a UC professor and headache expert. “However, this study very clearly shows a correlation between lightning, associated meteorological factors and headaches.”
For three to six months, study participants from Ohio and Missouri recorded their daily headache activity while researchers recorded lightning activity within 25 miles of participants’ homes. After accounting for other weather factors that occur with thunderstorms, researchers found a 19 percent increased risk for headaches on “lightning days.”
Researchers said more studies are needed to more precisely define the effect of lightning and thunderstorms on headache.
Robert Nicholson, of Saint Louis University, Mercy Health Research and Ryan Headache Clinic, was involved in the study, which appeared Jan. 24 in the online edition of Cephalalgia and was funded by GlaxoSmithKline.
Cancer death rates down
The “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2009” contains some good and bad news.
The good news is that the report shows a decline in the overall incidence of cancer death rates in the U.S. and a decline in death rates from cancers of the most common cancer sites, including lung, colon and rectum, female breast, and prostate.
The bad news is that from 2000-2009, death rates continued to increase for melanoma of the skin (among men only) and for cancers of the liver, pancreas and uterus.
In response to the report, American Academy of Dermatology President Daniel Siegel, M.D., issued a statement that reads, in part:
“Unlike other types of cancer, skin cancer provides visual warning signs that can be detected on the surface of the skin in the form of a spot that changes, itches, or bleeds. When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable.”
Siegel urged the public to visit spotskinscancer.org to learn how to perform a skin self-exam and find free skin cancer screenings.
In addition, the annual report showed that incidence rates are increasing for human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal and anal cancers. Of further concern is that in 2010, fewer than half of girls ages 13-17 had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, and only 32 percent had received all three recommended doses.
Each year, researchers from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries prepare the report. It can be found online at jnci.oxfordjournals.org.
Help for overactive bladder
Two approvals last month from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expand treatment options for people with overactive bladder.
On Jan. 18, the FDA announced its approval of Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) to treat adults with overactive bladder who do not get results from another class of medicines.
One week later, the Administration issued its approval of Oxytrol for Women, the first over-the-counter drug for treating overactive bladder in women 18 and older.
An overactive bladder squeezes too often or without warning, and those who have the condition experience urinary incontinence, a sudden and urgent need to empty the bladder, and frequent urination. It affects about 33 million Americans, most of whom are women.
According the FDA, injecting Botox into the bladder muscle relaxes the bladder, increases its storage capacity and reduces episodes of urinary incontinence. The drug is injected by a physician, and treatments can be repeated as needed, but no more often than at 12-week intervals.
Oxytrol for Women works also by relaxing the bladder and is applied to the skin as a patch every four days.
Oxytrol was not approved as an over-the-counter medicine for men but remains available to men by prescription.
Deep-fried foods and prostate cancer
Men who eat deep-fried foods on a regular basis may be at a higher risk of prostate cancer than men who do not. That is what Janet L. Stanford, co-director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center’s Program in Prostate Cancer Research, and colleagues found in a study published online in The Prostate.
Specifically, researchers said, study participants who ate French fries, fried chicken, fried fish and/or doughnuts at least once a week had a greater risk of prostate cancer than men who at those foods less than once a month. The increased risk ranged from 30-37 percent.
In addition, weekly consumption of the deep-fried foods was associated with a slightly increased risk of more aggressive prostate cancer.
“The link between prostate cancer and select deep-fried foods appeared to be limited to the highest level of consumption – defined in our study as more than once a week – which suggests that regular consumption of deep-fried foods confers particular risk for developing prostate cancer,” Stanford said.
Stanford surmised that one reason for the increased cancer risk might stem from the fact that when oil is heated to a temperature suitable for deep-frying, potentially carcinogenic compounds can form in foods fried in the oil.
Researchers used data from prior studies involving 1,549 men diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1,492 healthy men. Participants ranged in age from 35-74.
Other studies have tied deep-fried foods to cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, head and neck, and esophagus, but Stanford said she believed the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center study was the first to look at the association between deep-fried food intake and prostate cancer.
On the calendar
Yoga classes for children ages 4-5 will be held from 9:30-10:15 a.m. on Thursdays, Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28 and for children ages 6-10 and from 4:30-5:15 p.m. on Wednesdays, Feb. 20 and 27 and March 6 and 13 at Mercy Children’s Hospital. Additional four-week sessions will be held through May. Children should dress in comfortable clothing; all yoga props and mats are provided. The fee is $20 for each four-week session. To register, visit mercy.gosignmeup.com, or call (314) 961-2229.
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“Living Well with Diabetes: Where Do I Begin?” will be offered from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, 615 S. New Ballas Road, and from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Mercy Clayton-Clarkson, 15945 Clayton Road. Certified diabetes educators with Mercy Diabetes Services discuss the basic physiology of Type 2 diabetes, physical activity, blood glucose monitoring, reducing risk for complications, and healthy eating. The class is designed for those diagnosed with the disease and/or their loved ones. Admission is free, but registration is required. Visit mercy.net/stl-diabetes and choose an event date, or call (314) 251-4906.
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St. Luke’s Hospital will hold its annual Day of Dance from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. Participants will have the opportunity to dance, enjoy music, participate in a variety of health screenings and learn easy ways to stay healthy. Prizes, including a trip for two to Mexico and a $100 Visa gift card, will be awarded. There is no charge for admission, but registration is limited. To register, visit stlukes-stl.com. To schedule a cholesterol screening, which requires a $15 fee, call (314) 542-4848.
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Missouri Baptist Medical Center will provide free cholesterol screenings for people age 18 and older from 1:30-5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27 in the pharmacy at Dierbergs’ West Oak store, 11481 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur. Glucose, total cholesterol and HDL will be measured, no fasting is required, and results will be given at the screening. Registration is required. Call (314) 996-5433.