WHO Underestimates the Spread of the Coronavirus

Ola Nilsson wrote . . . . . . . . .

“Our review shows that the coronavirus is at least as transmissible as the SARS virus. And that says a great deal about the seriousness of the situation,” says Joacim Rocklöv, professor of sustainable health at Umeå University and one of the authors of the study.

The World Health Organization estimates that the coronavirus has a transmissibility, expressed as a reproduction number, of between 1.4 and 2.5. A reproduction number is a measurement of how many people a contaminated person transmits the virus to in a previously healthy population. The higher the number, the more transferable the virus is and the higher the risk for rapid spread. When the reproduction number falls below 1.0, the epidemic is likely to die out.

Researchers in Umeå in Sweden, Heidelberg in Germany, and Zhangzhou in China have carried out a review of several scientific studies of the novel coronavirus, COVD-19. In total, the researchers found twelve studies of sufficiently high quality. The studies consisted of estimations of the growth rate based upon the cases observed in the Chinese population, and based upon statistical and mathematical methods.

The earliest studies of the coronavirus indicated a relatively low transmissibility. Thereafter, the transmissibility rose rapidly to stabilise between 2–3 in the most recent studies. The reproduction number in the studies summed up to a mean of 3.28, and a median of 2.79, which is significantly higher than the World Health Organization’s estimation of 1.4–2.5.

“When looking at the development of the corona epidemic, reality seems to correspond well to or even exceed the highest epidemic growth in our calculations. Despite all intervention and control activities, the coronavirus has already spread to a significantly higher extent than SARS did,” says Joacim Rocklöv.

The study is published in the scientific Journal of Travel Medicine.

Source: Umeå University

Caution: Some Over-the-Counter Medicines May Affect Your Driving

Anyone who operates a vehicle of any type—car, bus, train, plane, or boat—needs to know there are over-the-counter medicines that can make you drowsy and can affect your ability to drive and operate machinery safely.

Over-the-counter medicines are also known as OTC or nonprescription medicines. All these terms mean the same thing: medicines that you can buy without a prescription from a healthcare professional. Each OTC medicine has a Drug Facts label to guide you in your choices and to help keep you safe. OTC medicines are serious medicines and their risks can increase if you don’t choose them carefully and use them exactly as directed on the label.

According to Ali Mohamadi, M.D., a medical officer at FDA, “You can feel the effects some OTC medicines can have on your driving for a short time after you take them, or their effects can last for several hours. In some cases, a medicine can cause significant ‘hangover-like’ effects and affect your driving even the next day.” If you have not had enough sleep, taking medicine with a side effect that causes drowsiness can add to the sleepiness and fatigue you may already feel. Being drowsy behind the wheel is dangerous; it can impair your driving skills.

Choosing and Using Safely

You should read all the sections of the Drug Facts label before you use an OTC medicine. But, when you know you have to drive, it’s particularly important to take these simple steps:

First, read the “active ingredients” section and compare it to all the other medicines you are using. Make sure you are not taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient. Then make sure the “purpose” and “uses” sections of the label match or fit the condition you are trying to treat.

Next, carefully read the entire “Warnings” section. Check whether the medicine should not be used with any condition you have, or whether you should ask a health care professional whether you can use it. See if there’s a warning that says when you shouldn’t use the medicine at all, or when you should stop using it.

The “When using this product” section will tell you how the medicine might make you feel, and will include warnings about drowsiness or impaired driving.

Look for such statements as “you may get drowsy,” “marked drowsiness will occur,” “Be careful when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery” or “Do not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery when using this product.”

Other information you might see in the label is how the medicine reacts when taken with other products like alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers, and other effects the OTC medicine could have on you. When you see any of these statements and you’re going to drive or operate machinery, you may want to consider choosing another medicine for your problem this time. Look for an OTC medicine that treats your condition or problem but has an active ingredient or combination of active ingredients that don’t cause drowsiness or affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Talk to your healthcare professional if you need help finding another medicine to treat your condition or problem. Then, check the section on “directions” and follow them carefully.

Here are some of the most common OTC medicines that can cause drowsiness or impaired driving:

  • Antihistamines: These are medicines that are used to treat things like runny nose, sneezing, itching of the nose or throat, and itchy or watery eyes. Some antihistamines are marketed to relieve cough due to the common cold. Some are marketed to relieve occasional sleeplessness. Antihistamines also can be added to other active ingredients that relieve cough, reduce nasal congestion, or reduce pain and fever. Some antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, can make you feel drowsy, unfocused and slow to react.
  • Antidiarrheals: Some antidiarrheals, medicines that treat or control symptoms of diarrhea, can cause drowsiness and affect your driving. One of these is loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium.
  • Anti-emetics: Anti-emetics, medicines that treat nausea, vomiting and dizziness associated with motion sickness, can cause drowsiness and impair driving as well.

“If you don’t read all your medicine labels and choose and use them carefully,” says Dr. Mohamadi, “you can risk your safety. If your driving is impaired, you could risk your safety, and the safety of your passengers and others.”

Source: FDA


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Top 10 Spices for Meatless Monday Meals

Under-seasoned food tastes of…disappointment, but you can effortlessly breathe new life into your meals with the addition of a few key seasonings and spice blends.

Spices instantly elevate the subtle flavors of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and plant-based proteins without piling on extra calories (or dirty dishes in the sink).

From sea salt to shichimi togarashi, we’ve got the 10 spices that you need to add to your spice rack.

Adobo (all-purpose seasoning)

Adobo is the ultimate all-purpose seasoning, and, although it’s traditionally used with animal proteins, its salty-garlicy flavor can give that same savoriness to any number of plant-based dishes — from crispy tofu to vegetarian stews. Adobo seasonings vary in their composition, but they generally include a blend of granulated garlic, salt, oregano, black pepper, and turmeric.

Ancho Chile

Ancho chile, known as a poblano when fresh, has a deep, smoky, slightly sweet flavor comparable to a spicy chocolate-covered raisin. Its mild-to-medium heat makes it an appropriate addition to moles, enchilada sauce, soup, traditional chili, or even pasta.

Black Peppercorns (in pepper mill)

Pre-ground black pepper tastes vapid and boring compared to the fresh stuff; thankfully, many spice brands offer miniature grinders complete with whole peppercorns ready to be crushed. A couple rotations of the pepper mill adds a sharp, citrusy flavor, floral-like aroma, and crunchy texture to the tops of salads, soups, pastas, and these delicious tempeh fajitas.

Cumin

The fragrant seed is a member of the parsley family, but it’s often sold as a powder rather than in its whole form. Cumin is aromatic and complex and can add a powerful smoky flavor to black bean burgers, curried potatoes, vegetarian chili, and lentil soups. Just remember to use this strong spice sparingly.

Curry Powder

“Curry Powder” is a mixture of different seasonings that differs slightly based on what brand you buy. That being said, many contain some combination of coriander, mustard, cumin, fenugreek, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and turmeric, which gives curry powder its iconic yellow-orange color. Add some to roasted vegetables, blend into hummus, sprinkle on popcorn, or use as the base of this Thai tofu pumpkin curry.

“Everything Bagel”

Available at Trader Joe’s and a spattering of other retailers, the “Everything Bagel” spice blend is the ultimate compliment to any roasted potato or sautéed vegetable. Add some to a tahini dressing or sprinkle some on an avocado half with a squeeze of lemon and a squirt of sriracha. The spice mixture is a combination of all the wonderful bits you’d find on the outside of an everything bagel: sesame seeds, sea salt, dried minced garlic, onion, and poppy seeds.

Red Pepper Flake

Although it probably already exists somewhere on your spice rack, the raw, uncalibrated heat of red pepper flake brings a brutish pop to roasted cruciferous vegetables and elegant pastas.

Sea Salt

Don’t roll your eyes just yet. In terms of utility in a dish, sea salt offers the same taste-enhancing qualities as traditional table salt, but when it comes to look, flavor, and texture, sea salt is in an ocean of its own. Its slightly “richer” flavor and crunch make it a natural fit for both savory entrees and desserts.

Shichimi Togarashi

Adorning the table of many ramen soup shops, shichimi togarashi is a complex spice blend that includes a combination of red chile pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger, and seaweed. Sprinkle this on literally anything — noodles, fried rice, stir-fried tofu, soups, marinades, rubs, dressings, tempuras, roasted vegetables, etc. — to instantly add a flurry diverse flavors and tastes.

Star Anise

Star anise is often sold in its ornamental whole form, but it’s much easier to incorporate into dishes as a powder. Its flavor is somewhere between licorice, cinnamon, and clove. Try adding it to broths, chutneys, mulled wine, or desserts, like this warm cranberry poached pear.

Source: Meatless Monday

Cholesterol Drugs Might Help Curb ‘High-Risk’ Prostate Cancers

Drugs that many men with prostate cancer might already be taking — cholesterol-lowering statins — may help extend their survival if they have a “high-risk” form of the disease, new research suggests.

High-risk patients include men with high blood levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) and a “Gleason score” of 8 or more. Gleason scores are a calculation used to gauge prognosis in prostate cancer. Men with a high Gleason score may develop difficult-to-treat cancers.

Prior research had suggested that statins and the diabetes drug metformin (often prescribed together) have anticancer properties. However, it hasn’t been clear which of the two drugs is the bigger cancer-fighter, or whether either might help against high-risk prostate cancer.

To help answer those questions, a team led by Grace Lu-Yao of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center–Jefferson Health, in Philadelphia, tracked data on nearly 13,000 high-risk prostate cancer patients. All were diagnosed between 2007 and 2011.

The study couldn’t prove cause and effect, but it found that statins, taken alone or with metformin, did seem associated with an increase in survival.

Men who took both statins and metformin had higher median survival (3.9 years) than those who took statins alone (3.6 years), metformin alone (3.1 years), or those who did not take either drug (3.1 years).

The study was published in the journal Cancer Medicine.

“Both metformin and statins have been associated with longer life in prostate cancer patients, yet because they are commonly prescribed together, no study we know of has looked at these two medications separately,” Lu-Yao said in a center news release. She’s associate director of population science at the center.

“With respect to prostate mortality, metformin plus statin was associated with a 36% reduction in risk of death followed by statins alone,” Lu-Yao added.

The study also found that those who took one of three types of statin — atorvastatin, pravastatin or rosuvastatin — had longer survival than those who did not take any statins. A similar benefit was not seen with a fourth statin, lovastatin.

Because prostate cancer thrives on testosterone, patients often receive treatments that reduce levels of male hormones (androgens). The new study found that among patients who received such therapies, those who took atorvastatin had a longer median time to prostate cancer progression than those who didn’t take statins.

It’s not clear why such effects were limited to atorvastatin, Lu-Yao said, but it appears to have the best “bioavailability” of the statin drugs and lingers longest in the body.

The research team believes that, based on the existing evidence, a clinical trial should be conducted to assess the effectiveness of statins and the combination of statins/metformin in extending survival of prostate cancer patients.

Two prostate cancer specialists unconnected to the new study agreed that the findings show promise.

“It appears that there may be a place in the treatment of prostate cancer for statins,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “However, we are not yet at a point where we can use the data to direct patient care.”

She believes testosterone may be key here. According to Kavaler, higher cholesterol levels promote higher levels of androgens, which in turn help encourage the growth of prostate cancer. Statins may help slow that process, Kavaler explained.

Dr. Manish Vira is vice chair for urologic research at The Arthur Smith Institute for Urology in New Hyde Park, N.Y. He agreed that the findings are encouraging, and noted that “a dozen actively recruiting clinical trials using either metformin or a statin in prostate cancer treatment” are already underway.

Source: HealthDay

Gum Disease, Inflammation, Hardened Arteries May be Linked to Stroke Risk

Gum disease was associated with a higher rate of strokes caused by hardening of large arteries in the brain and also with severe artery blockages that haven’t yet caused symptoms, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2020 – Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Two studies raise the possibility that treating gum disease alongside other stroke risk factors might reduce the severity of artery plaque buildup and narrowing of brain blood vessels that can lead to a new or a recurrent stroke. However, these two studies could not conclusively confirm a cause-and-effect relationship between gum disease and artery blockage or stroke risk.

“Gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the soft and hard structures supporting the teeth and is associated with inflammation. Because inflammation appears to play a major role in the development and worsening of atherosclerosis, or ’hardening’ of blood vessels, we investigated if gum disease is associated with blockages in brain vessels and strokes caused by atherosclerosis of the brain vessels,” said Souvik Sen, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., author of both studies and professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia.

Periodontal disease association with large artery atherothrombotic stroke

Researchers examined 265 patients (average age of 64; 49% white; 56% male) who experienced a stroke between 2015 and 2017, analyzing whether gum disease was associated with specific types of stroke.

They found:

  • Large artery strokes due to intracranial atherosclerosis were twice as common in patients with gum disease as in those without gum disease;
  • Patients with gum disease were three times as likely to have a stroke involving blood vessels in the back of the brain, which controls vision, coordination and other vital bodily functions; and
  • Gum disease was more common in patients who had a stroke involving large blood vessels within the brain, yet not more common among those who had a stroke due to blockage in blood vessels outside the skull.

Role of periodontal disease on intracranial atherosclerosis

In 1,145 people who had not experienced a stroke, selected from the Dental Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (DARIC) Study, researchers used two magnetic resonance images to measure blockages in arteries inside the brain. Participants were an average age of 76; 78% were white, and 55% were female. Periodontal examinations were used to classify the presence and severity of gum disease.

Researchers found:

  • Arteries in the brain were severely blocked (50% or more) in 10% of participants;
  • People with gingivitis, inflammation of the gums, were twice as likely to have moderately severe narrowed brain arteries from plaque buildup compared to those with no gum disease; and
  • After adjusting for risk factors such as age, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, people with gingivitis were 2.4 times as likely to have severely blocked brain arteries.

“It’s important for clinicians to recognize that gum disease is an important source of inflammation for their patients and to work with patients to address gum disease,” Sen said

The study excluded people who had gum disease serious enough to have resulted in tooth loss.

“We are working on a current study to evaluate if treatment of gum disease can reduce its association with stroke,” Sen said.

Source: American Heart Association


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