Pharmacology

A study of twin veterans has linked antidepressant use to thicker arteries and therefore possibly increased risk of heart disease and stroke, according to data presented last week at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.

The study included 513 middle-aged male twins who both served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Twins are genetically the same but may be different when it comes to other risk factors such as diet, smoking and exercise, so studying them is a good way to distill out the effects of genetics.
Research was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology today with analysis of three different clinical trials that looked at Lipitor (scientific name: atorvastatin).  The authors found new evidence that taking Lipitor slightly increased your chance of eventually getting diabetes.  There have been several studies before this, and this research increases the evidence of this effect.
Ginseng and saffron are sexual performance boosters, according to a new scientific review of natural aphrodisiacs, but while the more obscure Spanish fly and Bufo toad are purported to be sexually enhancing, they produced the opposite result and can even be toxic.  
 
Wine and chocolate are okay, though it's all in your head, say the findings by Massimo Marcone, a professor in Guelph's Department of Food Science, and master's student John Melnyk in Food Research International.
The big news in the diabetes world this week is a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine (link here) about how Actos (scientific name: pioglitazone) can help prevent the development of diabetes in folks with prediabetes.  The American Diabetes Association has a handy page for helping determine if you have "prediabetes" (link here).  If you're looking at HbA1c, it means that you are between 5.7% and 6.4%.
The body's ability to break down medicines may be closely related to exposure to sunlight, according to a study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet.   This could mean drug metabolism is influenced by seasons and might explain individual differences in the effects of drugs, and how the surroundings can influence the body's ability to deal with toxins.
The smartest, and yet most disingenuous thing, the homeopathy industry did was conscript 'natural medicine' as part of its umbrella.    Homeopathy is clearly snake oil whereas natural remedies have worked since man discovered plants.

Scientists understand the distinction, even if proponents of homeopathy do not - or pretend they don't, if it will bilk unsuspecting people out of money.    And because scientists understand the value of natural medicine the goal has always been to understand why things work and, when possible, to synthesize them and make them affordable.  
Athletes will always look for a competitive edge and 'natural' performance enhancements that can escape scrutiny are a frequent goal.    Scientists have found that bovine colostrum can massively reduce gut permeability, otherwise known as 'leaky gut syndrome' and the results may also be applicable to sufferers of heatstroke.

Gut disorders induced by exercise are common in runners; the body's response to increased permeability is to clear the gut contents, giving rise to symptoms such as diarrhea to avoid toxins from gut organisms entering the bloodstream, as these lead to heatstroke which can result in damage to the internal organs.
In the ongoing concern about future generations not being as intelligent as prior ones, due to computers, video games and what not (in my day it was calculators that would lead to brain rot) the many examples of creative people doing things we never would have thought of are lost.

I can't go to the pharmacy cold medicine aisle and buy Drixoral these days - I instead have to go the pharmacist and sign some document to get it and I finally, owing to the need to buy some every three years or so, asked the pharmacist why.    Turns out young people had discovered that they could make crystal meth or something from it.   Amazing.  I would never have thought of that, and I am usually the smartest guy in any room I enter.   I just used it to cure sniffles.
Do birth control pills cause weight gain?   Virtually since their introduction it was believed to be true but new research conducted at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health&Science University says that is not the case.

To conduct their research, scientists and physicians studied a group of rhesus macaque monkeys at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center for almost a year. Rhesus monkeys were used in this study because their reproductive system is nearly identical to humans. However, unlike human studies, more variables can be controlled and measured – such as exact food intake - to provide more meaningful data.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 24 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of these cases.

Some studies have shown that coffee may be protective against type 2 diabetes.  No one has determined why but researchers at UCLA have discovered a possible molecular mechanism behind coffee's protective effect.  The protein sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) regulates the biological activity of the body's sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, which have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. And coffee consumption, a new study in Diabetes says, increases plasma levels of SHBG.