Archive for November, 2010

By Sylvia Anderson, IH Editor — Published: November 25, 2010

First problems with the diabetes drug Avandia, now this… The FDA has announced the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine for rotavirus, called Rotarix, could increase risk for serious bowel problems – potentially fatal problems.

A study conducted in Mexico shows there is an increased risk of developing intussusception within 31 days after the initial dose of Rotarix. Intussusception is an obstruction that occurs when a portion of the bowel slides up to the next portion, similar to how the pieces of a telescope attach together. When this happens the walls of the intestines swell, inflammation sets in, and blood flow to the intestines is decreased.

This isn’t surprising, as GSK’s rotavirus vaccine has had problems from the get-go. The alarming fact is that the vaccine will remain on the market until next year–after the FDA has reviewed the final study results.

These problems aren’t new developments.

This isn’t the first time rotavirus vaccines have caused problems, specifically problems with intussusception. In many cases, young baby’s intestinal tracts were so affected that surgery was required to repair it. When you consider all this, it doesn’t make any sense that the FDA isn’t being more proactive and taking urgent action to safeguard our children.

The risk of intussusception is bad enough, but more research has shown that Rotarix was contaminated with the DNA from a pig virus. Although the FDA and GSK say that the contamination didn’t cause any safety risk – that they know of yet – that seems to be even more reason to take the vaccine off the market.

So what is a parent to do?

Do your research before getting your children vaccinated for rotavirus.

Before you subject your child to the potential risk of this vaccine it’s helpful to also know the risk of rotavirus, which is what the vaccine is supposed to prevent. It’s true that rotavirus is contagious and causes more than 500,000 deaths in young children every year. However this occurs mostly in underdeveloped countries. In the United States, the number of deaths is significantly lower–“several dozen”–a year, according to the FDA.

When a child contracts rotavirus, as most do, usually plenty of rest and fluids will get them over it quickly. And once they are initially infected they’ll develop a life long natural immunity.

What this all means is that unless you are living in an undeveloped country you don’t need to vaccinate your child for rotavirus in the first place. Another point to consider is that the vaccination is widespread, yet it appears to have no effect on the rate of rotavirus infections. Even GSK states that the vaccination will not provide 100% protection.

Ultimately, the vaccine introduces serious risk but little to no benefit to negate the risk.

If you had to choose between your child contracting a mild disease where they can recover with rest and fluids PLUS get lifelong immunity . . . or risk getting vaccinated and suffering a potentially fatal intestinal blockage, which would you choose?

For most concerned parents, the answer is glaringly obvious.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!



By Sylvia Anderson, IH Editor — Published: November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving. It’s a day to gather with family, watch some football, and dive face-first into that big, yummy bird (or vegan spaghetti if that’s your preference!).

But it could also be a day where your risk of heart attack has more spikes than the Saints/Cowboys game.

Turns out the months of December and January are the deadliest months for heart disease, and that “season” is kicked off with none other than the Turkey-Day holiday.

Why the increase? A few things are to blame, including rich meals, tons of alcohol, and just a bit of added stress.

But the biggest factor may be denial.

Denial Factor #1: The common symptoms of heart attack can mimic signs of indigestion . . . which, let’s face it, come front and center on holidays that revolve around food.

Denial Factor #2: People are less likely to disrupt a holiday celebration to go to the ER, even if they’re feeling a little under the weather.

Other Factors at Play

Skipping Meds or Supplements: If you’re traveling to a celebration far away from home, or even just so busy planning your own holiday party, you may neglect (or just plain forget) to take your meds or daily supplements.

Heavy Meals: You may say, “But it’s the holidays! I deserve a little cheat.” OK, well you should know that a particularly heavy meal – especially one high in fat – stresses your heart upon digestion. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase, and the lining of your arteries become temporarily more clot-prone.

Salt: Oh yes, the salty goodness of turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, and all the other holiday goodies causes fluid retention, which in turn makes your heart have to work harder.

Alcohol: A little imbibing is good for you. But too many holiday cocktails can also cause your heart to have to work harder to get blood to your arteries. Not only that, but alcohol can actually irritate the heart muscle and trigger an irregular heartbeat.

No Excuses!

Yes, it’s the holidays. Yes, you want to stuff your face until you literally have to be rolled into the living room. And yes, you want to be able to see your favorite team kick some serious tail on the field. But think of your health.

First off, don’t stuff your face – eat (and drink) responsibly. Second, if you’re having symptoms, don’t wait until the fourth quarter – get to the ER ASAP! And finally, don’t use the holidays as an excuse to go hog-wild and neglect your health. As cool as the afterlife might be, no one knows if it has turkey. Or football.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and live another day!)