Tag Archives: research

heart disease & drinking

Can you drink if you have heart disease? Moderate drinking should be OK, if your doctor approves, but you shouldn’t count on alcohol to be a major part of your heart health plan.

“If you don’t drink alcohol now, there is no reason to start,” says Mark Urman, MD, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.

It’s true that there have been studies linking drinking small amounts of alcohol — no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women — to better heart health.

But the exact link isn’t clear. Those studies don’t prove that the alcohol (whether it was wine, beer, or liquor) was the only thing that mattered.

Other lifestyle habits could have been involved, the American Heart Association notes. Or the important thing could have been nutrients that are in grapes, which you can get from the grapes themselves, without drinking wine.

“One drink a day is probably healthy for people with heart disease and those without it,” says James Beckerman, MD, a cardiologist at Providence St. Vincent Heart Clinic Cardiology in Portland, OR.

But whether or not you drink, you also need to keep the rest of your diet healthy, not smoke, and get regular exercise. Read More.

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Heavy marijuana use may harm the brain

New NIDA-funded research shows that heavy marijuana use (at least four times per week over the past six months) is linked to adverse changes in the function and structure of brain areas associated with reward, decision making, and motivation.  Heavy marijuana use can also enhance some brain circuits – possibly to compensate for reduced function in specific brain regions. This effect was more pronounced in those who started using at a young age, indicating that developing brains are particularly vulnerable to marijuana’s effects.

Illustration of a neuron cell

Although further long-term studies are needed to determine whether marijuana caused these effects, these scientific findings add to the growing literature showing that heavy marijuana use may harm the brain.

For a copy of the abstract (published online November 10), go to www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/11/05/1415297111.abstract.

Strong placebo response thwarts painkiller trials

Interesting article, placebo’s as effective as meds.

Drug companies have a problem: they are finding it ever harder to get painkillers through clinical trials. But this isn’t necessarily because the drugs are getting worse. An extensive analysis of trial data1 has found that responses to sham treatments have become stronger over time, making it harder to prove a drug’s advantage over placebo.

The change in response to placebo treatments for pain, discovered by researchers in Canada, holds true only for US clinical trials. “We were absolutely floored when we found out,” says Jeffrey Mogil, who directs the pain-genetics lab at McGill University in Montreal and led the analysis. Simply being in a US trial and receiving sham treatment now seems to relieve pain almost as effectively as many promising new drugs. Mogil thinks that as US trials get longer, larger and more expensive, they may be enhancing participants’ expectations of their effectiveness.

See the entire article here:  http://www.nature.com/news/strong-placebo-response-thwarts-painkiller-trials-1.18511?%3Fftcamp=crm%2Femail%2F%2Fnbe%2FFirstFTEurope%2Fproduct