Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

Most people have never heard of glutathione (GSH) but for some it has become the latest fad - for skin bleaching, of all things.

Why skin bleaching to become lighter when a whole lot of other people are instead getting spray-on tans? We're not psychologists, we are just here to talk about the health issues.

Glutathione is an antioxidant our bodies produce, a combination of three amino acids — glycine, glutamate and cysteine — which the body packages together. It helps prevent damage to cells by heavy metals, free radicals and such; exogenous GSH, both oral and injectable (intravenous, intramuscular), has been used for a...

Over the past couple of decades, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer throughout the world.  This phenomenon is mainly seen in “high income” countries of North America, Europe, and Asia.  In the United States alone, the annual incidence has tripled between 1975 and 2009.  The upsurge involves papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), which comprises 90% of all thyroid cancers.  It is also the least aggressive, as evidenced by no increase in death rate from its surge.   

Why is this happening? A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine ( NEJM, August...

There has been substantial publicity about the MINDACT trial, which could lead to changes in breast cancer treatment. The study’s results suggest that women with a certain genetic profile would have a good chance of survival and cure regardless of chemotherapy.

While the results are encouraging, breast cancer treatment decisions are complex, and this study does not necessarily provide a clear yes or no answer about the need for chemotherapy.

As oncologists, we see this latest scientific development as yet another powerful tool in assessing a patient’s risk of developing cancer recurrence.

However, the study results cannot be used as a sole tool to help guide treatment...

Location.  Location.  Location.  Everything in medicine comes down to real estate.  The closer to a vital structure in the body, the more precarious the consequence— especially when considering foreign objects where nature did not intend them to be.

As I think more about inanimate items in familiar orifices, I realize how truly boundless the possibilities are for mass education and insight.  There isn’t a field of medicine that doesn’t address these issues; or, one I can think of anyway.  So, buckle up, as we journey through the initial in a series taking a top down approach.  

We'll go from the top down. So that means beginning with the ear, nose and throat.

For the pediatrician, it is a semi-routine occurrence to remove alien entities from known apertures.  There...

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery works. A severely obese person (BMI > 40) might lose 50 percent of his or her excess body fat in the first year after such surgery. One question that has lingered for decades is, how long do such effects last? Do people gain back the weight that they've lost and, if so, how quickly does that happen?

These are important issues — the surgery is expensive, and in some types in which the gastrointestinal tract is substantially rearranged, a number of side effects can occur. Some are minimal, but others, such as nutritional deficiencies, will have to be dealt with for the rest of the person's life.

A new study reported in JAMA Surgery investigates the long-...

Over the course of the past few weeks Mylan has replaced Turing and Valeant as the most scrutinized and critiqued pharmaceutical companies in the United States. Though politicians and pundits have claimed the problem is Big Pharma, the issue of price-gouging is far more pervasive among generic drugs.

The staggering price increases of the Mylan EpiPen, which is used in cases of anaphylaxis related to severe allergies, resulted in a new wave of criticism from policymakers to doctors to patients. But the issue actually speaks to the underlying and pervasive price gouging that has long been a component of the generic drug industry. The EpiPen was simply the latest example. Before the EpiPen, naloxone, which is used primarily for reversal of overdoses in adult opioid addicts, had a...

One of the few places one might expect to find a soaring rate of gonorrhea infection is the piously conservative state of Utah. But, new CDC data shows that the incidence of gonorrhea is up over 400% in merely three years, from 2011 to 2014. (See graph.)

Gonorrhea incidence

As shown, the rate of gonorrhea fell from 2009 to 2011, but then surged thereafter. Men suffered a nearly 300% increase in cases, while women experienced a 719% increase. Overall, gonorrhea is more common among men (61% of cases) than women (39% of cases), and the demographic hit hardest were those people aged 20 to 34 years. 

What is going on?

The CDC believes that because the proportion of women who are diagnosed with...

Sometimes drugs behave very well. They do what they are supposed to so, and do it well, maybe even without side effects (1). We are fortunate to have one of these that works against a very common infection—herpes simplex virus (HSV). 

There are two versions of the virus. HSV-1 is the type that causes cold sores, and HSV-2, which causes genital herpes (2). The two viral types are similar enough that they both respond well to the same drug—acyclovir (3).  The way that acyclovir works is a textbook example of an antiviral drug in action—shutting down an essential step that brings viral replication to a halt. The essential step that is shut down is the prevention of the formation of a phosphate ester bond—a key step in the...

The rising price for EpiPens, a drug delivery system that is crucial for persons experiencing potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, has resulted in outrage.

The price increase, from about US$94 for a two-pack of injectable epinephrine to more than $600 in just nine years, has...

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) today released a summary of its report on the likelihood that excess body fat is linked to cancer. IARC is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

The summary is published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Led by Dr. Béatrice Lauby-Secretan, the IARC Handbook Working Group evaluated the current research findings linking excess fatness (overweight status and obesity) to various types of cancer.

They primarily included epidemiological data on 1000 human studies and also some animal studies. Most of the human studies were...