October 2, 2014

The Feel-Good Report: October 2012

Curcumin, the organic compound that gives turmeric its yellow color, has been found to benefit arthritis sufferers as least as much as drugs regularly prescribed by doctorsCurry Eases Joint Pain?

Someday we might find out that spices were all we really ever needed to fight ailments. We say this because turmeric, the bright yellow ingredient in curry, is suddenly garnering a lot of attention from the scientific community as a natural alternative to arthritis medications.

According to two recent studies, curcumin, the organic compound that gives turmeric its yellow color, has been found to benefit arthritis sufferers as least as much as drugs regularly prescribed by doctors. And curcumin doesn’t have the same associated risks as those drugs, such as liver damage, intestinal bleeding, heart disease and stroke. It should be noted that those two studies were extremely small and had no control group, so this is early in the exploratory stage.

As always, consult your doctor before ordering Indian food.



A New Weapon vs. Breast Cancer

If there’s a cause we can all get behind, it’s saving as many breasts as possible. And thanks in part to clinical trials done right here in Fort Myers at Florida Cancer Specialists (FCS), women suffering from advanced breast cancer have a new weapon in their fight. Dr. Lowell Hart, scientific director of clinical research and director of drug development at FCS, says Afinitor—a powerful drug commonly used in fighting kidney cancers—has been approved for treating breast cancer in conjunction with the drug Exemestane.

As one of the local investigators for the clinical trial that led the way for the FDA approval, Dr. Hart says, “Afinitor looks very promising. Drugs like this might be the way to get around hormonal resistance.” The sad truth is that a lot of drugs work initially, but stop working after a few months once the body builds a resistance. The approval represents the first major advance for women with advanced breast cancer in more than 15 years. Afinitor more than doubled the time patients lived compared to Exemestane alone.

Approximately 20 local patients took part in the trials. For more information, check out flcancer.com or afinitor.com.


About That Toenail Problem …

If you’ve ever dipped your toes into the questionable world of gym showers or other damp, sweaty places, you may have contracted onychomycosis—aka toenail fungus. Trust us when we say there are not enough adjectives in the world to properly describe the look of thickening, yellowing toenails. And close to nine percent of the North American population is infected.

But there is hope. The Family Foot & Leg Center in Naples has the new GentleNail laser that has been shown to destroy the fungus with a mid-infrared laser wavelength that penetrates the nail. It kills the fungus that causes the infection and revitalizes the nail. Results are noticeable in as little as two months and full recovery in approximately nine months. The procedure takes just 20 minutes for both feet and there is usually no discomfort.

Literature states about an 85 percent success rate for whitening, but Dr. Kevin Lam, one of the center’s physicians, says their office is closer to 90 percent. The cost is $1,500 for two treatments of all 10 nails. (It’s considered a cosmetic treatment, so insurance will not cover it.)

For more information, call Family Foot & Leg Center at (239) 430-3668 or visit gentlenaillaser.com.


Help for Eye Troubles

Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in people 20 to 79 years of age. And considering that 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes, it should come as no surprise that approximately 4 million of them report trouble with their vision. But thanks in part to Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida’s participation in a four-year clinical study of the drug Lucentis, the FDA approved it for use as a positive treatment for diabetic macular edema (DME).

“We were a part of the original Lucentis trials when it was tested, and eventually approved, for wet macular degeneration,” says Dr. Joseph Walker of Retina Consultants of Southwest Florida. “In both diseases, blood vessels inside the eye begin to bleed and leak fluid, causing swelling and vision loss.”

It seems a positive side effect of Lucentis is that it can stabilize DME by inhibiting the blood vessels from leaking or rupturing. It has also been approved for central and branch retinal occlusions and is being used, off-label, to treat retinal revascularization and other types of macular edema.

For more information, check out eye.md.


Sitting Kills

Uh-oh. This is bad. Really bad.

According to a recent report published in the online journal BMJ Open, sitting down for more than three hours a day can deduct two years off a person’s life expectancy—even if that person is physically active and refrains from habits such as smoking. Adding insult to injury, watching TV for more than two hours a day makes things even worse, shaving another 1.4 years off your finish line. The report analyzed five underlying studies of nearly 167,000 people from four to 14 years.

Another study by Australian researchers found that people who said they watched television for more than four hours a day were 46 percent more likely to die of any cause than people who said they watched two hours or less.


Hear Better Now?

Selective hearing loss is something virtually every married couple complains about. But actual hearing loss is no joking matter. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, approximately 8 million Americans were born with single-sided deafness while another 1.5 million developed it later. Luckily, technology is coming to the rescue and, for some, the solution is a lot closer than you could imagine. The Soundbite Hearing System from Sonitus Medical is the world’s first non-surgical and removable device that can restore hearing through bone conductivity via the teeth and jawbone. That’s right, the process works via bone conduction, which allows sounds to travel through the skull to the working ear.

The two-piece system consists of a small in-the-mouth device and a small behind-the-ear microphone that can be inserted or removed in seconds. Just as a heads up, if you have certain tooth or gum issues or have removable dentures, this might not work for you. For more information, check out soundbitehearing.com.

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