Archive for the ‘Medical-Study News’ Category

Fat virus: Is obesity contagious? A doctor’s opinion on those studies.

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Is there a fat virus?

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

A few days ago I started hearing a lot about the fat virus–not a new concept.  But all of a sudden, the news was on the radio, television, newspapers and Internet that a scientist had discovered that the adenovirus AD-36, which causes the common cold, might make you fat.  The hypothesis is the virus infects fats cells and makes them duplicate so, even without eating more, you gain fat.

I don’t think there was a new study or revelation, so why the big deal?


Can coffee cause hallucinations or is it just latest headline scare?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Have you seen the headlines? “Caffeinated co-eds hear voices,” “Heavy coffee drinkers more likely to hallucinate,” “Too much coffee can make you hallucinate and sense dead people say sleep experts. The equivalent of just seven cups of instant coffee a day is enough to trigger the weird responses.”  That’s about three cups of regular coffee per day.

It came to my attention when health writer Brian Newsome posted in the health blog of The Gazette, our local paper, “Move over LSD and step aside shrooms—Here comes coffee.” To his credit Brian was skeptical and, in fact, wrote a follow-up post with a link to Dr. Ben Goldacre, who criticized the study’s quality at his well-known website  (Dr. Goldacre evaluates the quality details of medical news, holding author’s and media reporter’s feet to the fire to get it right.)


Dangers of lidocaine gel, other skin numbing agents: Is lidocaine really safe for mammograms?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

A while back, I blogged about a study that suggested over-the-counter lidocaine gel decreases the discomfort of a mammogram. (The gel numbs the skin after you rub it on.)

Recently, the FDA issued an alert reminding us that, although there were no serious side effects in the study, this same lidocaine gel and similar numbing agents can cause life-threatening side effects if you absorb too much through the skin.  Rarely, it has caused heart irregularities, seizures, breathing problems, coma and death.

A lot to risk for the minimal benefit found in the study, don’t you think?  In small amounts it appears to be safe, but the FDA recommends:


Fibromyalgia treatment: Antidepressants reduce pain, not just depression

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Everything old is new again.

Want to know the best fibromyalgia medicine?  Look back to the future.  Lyrica, Neurontin, Cymbalta?  Think cheaper.  It’s the one I’ve been prescribing for years for chronic pain. A recent study shows it works as well as, or better than, the newfangled ones.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Updated recommendations from the American College of Gastroenterology

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects 20 percent of U.S. adults.  Although it doesn’t actually harm the intestines, it can wreak havoc on the sufferer with any combination of abdominal bloating, cramping, diarrhea and constipation.  In a recent post I reported a study showing that the old standby treatments of fiber, peppermint oil and antispasmotics still work for most people.

The American College of Gastroenterologists has released updated treatment recommendations, as reported by the University of Michigan. New recommendations of note are:


Hormones, breast cancer and other medical misconceptions

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

News flash.  Medicine is not perfect.  A few years ago, I finished my advice to a patient by saying, I might be wrong.  She sarcastically said she was going to go straight home and call her doctor son-in-law to give him the news. “A doctor said he might be wrong. Who knew?”

Reading the recent news about colonoscopies made me think of this.  Why do we need scientific studies to document that therapies work?  Because we can’t rely on our intuitions and preconceived notions.  Every diagnostic test and treatment needs to be scrutinized objectively.  Even the ones we’re sure of.


Colonoscopy prevents colon cancer? New study shows, not as well as we thought. (Video included.)

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

We thought colonoscopy could prevent 90 percent of colon cancers.  We were wrong.  If the results in the new Annals of Internal Medicine hold up, it’s more like 60 percent.  A colonoscopy is still excellent for a screening test, but far from perfect, we discover.

The investigators did a case-control study.  That’s when you find people with a diagnosis and work your way backwards. In this case, the researchers found people with colorectal cancer and looked back to see whether they’d had a normal colonoscopy six months to seven years before their diagnosis. They compared them to similar people who didn’t have colorectal cancer.

What the investigators found surprised them so much, they asked that the data be looked at a second time.


CDC: HIV rates down, but new cases steady. What gives?

Friday, December 12th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

The CDC reports HIV transmission is down.  Great news.  I found out when I read an interesting post on a Chicago Tribune blog.  I suggest you read it, also.  But wait a minute. A few days ago, I posted that the rate of new HIV cases has been steady for the past few years.  Not great.  What gives?

See if you can follow me on this.


Understand medical news? Put it in perspective. (Check out what I found!)

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

I was scanning the medical news headlines today and I could not stop thinking how misleading some can be, and why you need information like James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor website and magazine, along with like sources, to sort out the confusion.

In just a few minutes, I found:


How to warm up smarter to prevent injuries

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Everyone’s heard you should get a little loose and do some slow exercises before you start the real stuff.  But investigators in Norway went way beyond stretching and showed a significant decrease in injuries in teenage, female soccer players (pdf file)  by doing so.  They were concerned there were too many injuries in these young athletes and decided to try a rigid, 20-minute exercise program prior to practices and games, called the 11 Injury Prevention Program.


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