Study Shows Higher Obesity-Related Cancer Mortality in Areas With More Fast Food

Communities with easy access to fast food were 77% more likely to have high levels of obesity-related cancer mortality, based on data from a new cross-sectional study of more than 3,000 communities.

Although increased healthy eating has been associated with reduced risk of obesity and with reduced cancer incidence and mortality, access to healthier eating remains a challenge in communities with less access to grocery stores and healthy food options (food deserts) and/or easy access to convenience stores and fast food (food swamps).

In addition, data on the association between food deserts and swamps and obesity-related cancer mortality are limited.

“We felt that the study was important given the fact that obesity is an epidemic in the United States, and multiple factors contribute to obesity, especially adverse food environments,” Dr. Bevel said. Also, I lived in these areas my whole life, and saw how it affected underserved populations. There was a story that needed to be told, so we’re telling it,”.

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Intermittent fasting and an early meal may help to prevent type 2 diabetes

Liam Davenport

Intermittent fasting with time-restricted early eating can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals, according to the results of a randomised controlled study published in Nature Medicine.

Intermittent fasting plus early time-restricted eating was associated with significant improvement in glucose control compared with caloric restriction alone at 6 months, while both interventions were associated with improved cardiovascular risk markers and reduced BMI compared with standard weight loss advice.

“Following a time-restricted intermittent fasting diet may help reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes,”  says lead author Leonie K. Heilbronn, Ph.D., University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia.


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U.S. approves 1st vaccine for RSV after decades of attempts

The U.S. approved the first vaccine for RSV on Wednesday, shots to protect older adults against a respiratory virus that’s most notorious for attacking babies but endangers their grandparents, too.

The Food and Drug Administration decision makes GSK’s shot, called Arexvy, the first of several potential vaccines in the pipeline for RSV to be licensed anywhere.

The move sets the stage for adults 60 and older to get vaccinated this fall — but first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must decide if every senior really needs RSV protection or only those considered at high risk from the respiratory syncytial virus. CDC’s advisers will debate that question in June.


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Taking a swing against arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a tough disease to manage.

Exercise helps ease the stiffness and pain of  the joints, but at the same time, the disease makes it difficult to do that beneficial exercise. Even a relatively simple activity like jogging can hurt more than it helps. If only there were a low-impact exercise that was incredibly popular among the generally older population who are likely to have arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a common source of disability In the population, only 64% reported their physical health to be good, very good, or excellent. Among the 459 golfers with OA that the study authors surveyed, however, the percentage reporting good health rose to more than 90%.

A similar story emerged when they looked at mental health. Nearly a quarter of non

golfers with OA reported high or very high levels of psychological distress, compare

d with just 8% of golfers. This pattern of improved physical and mental health remained when the researchers looked at the general, non-OA population.

This isn’t the first-time golf’s has been related to improved health, and previous studys

have shown golf to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, among other things.

Just walking one 18-hole round significantly exceeds the CDC’s recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Go out multiple times a week – leaving the cart and beer at home, and you’ll be fit for a lifetime.

The golfers on our staff, however, are still waiting for those mental health benefits to kick in because we’re still adding up our scorecard after that string of four double bogeys to end the round.


Vaccine Doesn’t Stop Symptoms

cleaning macbook from bacteria

Vaccinated Canadians can have COVID-19 symptoms despite testing negative. Experts say people can test negative on a rapid test in the first few days they have symptoms. This is partly due to how quickly vaccination clears the amount of the virus in an infected person’s body, the amount of immunity a person has built up. How much of the virus a person can spread to others and how serious a person’s disease is, are all dependent on the viral load, which is the amount of virus a person has in their system. Antigen rapid tests pick up on a higher viral load much quicker.

sanitizing hands

If the antigen test is dependent on the amount of virus in your upper respiratory tract, you may still be infectious in the first few days. There’s a period of around two days before the rapid test begins to pick up the antigen This is one reason why it’s always good to give a second rapid test, a day or two afterward, just to make sure it’s really negative.

The real problem is that between 40 to 70 % of people who carry COVID-19 do not have any symptoms at all. This means people who are carriers of the virus may not be getting tested at all because they don’t have any symptoms and don’t think they have COVID-19; if they do happen to get tested, it’s often negative.

If a rapid antigen test is positive, it’s reliable. If it’s not positive and you have symptoms compatible with COVID, you should be managing yourself and the people around you as if you are COVID-positive.


Fourth Booster Shots

I've Had My COVID Booster Shot

Fourth shots (Second Booster) of COVID-19 vaccines begin Thursday in Ontario for age 60 and up and for First Nations, Métis and Inuit over 18. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now strongly recommending the “rapid deployment” of second COVID-19 booster shots for seniors over 80. The recommended interval between third and fourth shots is five months, but that a shorter interval may be warranted in some individuals. There’s no clear-cut answer on whether to rush out for one. I would advise older persons to get another booster right away because of the higher level of protection.

Vaccine Passports

COVID-19 has had a really disproportionate impact on people 65 and older. One in 100 older people are not with us today who were with us before the pandemic because of COVID-19.

For younger, healthier people, it might make sense to boost in late summer so it reaches maximum efficacy in the fall. Vaccine efficacy wanes over time, so getting a booster now means you won’t have maximum protection in six or seven months. It might make sense to plan your booster around respiratory pathogen season in the fall, when cases of COVID tend to go up. If you’re younger, healthy and in a place where the virus circulation is very low, it’s less critical, but if you’re somewhere where infections are raging, or if you’re traveling, it makes sense to do it now. Multiple studies have shown that the older you are, the bigger the benefit from getting another booster.


Paxlovid Approved by Health Canada

doctor giving middle aged man a vaccine

On January 17, 2022, the oral antiviral Paxlovid was approved by Health Canada. Ontario has received limited quantities from the federal government.

Treatment with Paxlovid must begin within five days of symptom onset to be effective. A full course of treatment is three pills twice daily for five days in a row.

woman getting her blood pressure tested

Ontario is prioritizing patients for treatment who have COVID-19 with the highest risk of severe outcomes, including:
immunocompromised individuals (PDF) aged 18 and over regardless of vaccine status
unvaccinated individuals aged 60 and over
unvaccinated First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals aged 50 and over
unvaccinated individuals aged 50 and over with one or more risk factors (PDF)
You must also have a positive COVID-19 test to receive treatment.
If you think you may be eligible to receive Paxlovid, you can:
contact your primary care provider
call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000
visit a COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Centre
If you have one of more of the following moderate to severe symptoms you should immediately call 911 or go to the emergency department:
severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words)
severe chest pain (constant tightness or crushing sensation)
feeling confused or unsure of where you are losing consciousness.


Making The Right Choice

Pharmacist talking to patient

As a pharmacist I meet people every day that have made the wrong choices about their health. Yet, I try to treat them with compassion and understanding. I try my best to help them and to educate them in ways to improve their health. This is the same when I deal with patients that are unvaccinated. I try to explain the benefits of getting vaccinated and try to allay their fears about the vaccines. I try to educate them and direct them to resources that will let them see for themselves the benefits of vaccination as well as the dangers on not getting vaccinated.

I agree. It’s a social responsibility to get vaccinated. However, the omicron variant is highly contagious and vaccines are not fully effective at stopping you from contracting it. This means that most of us are going to get it anyway whether we are triple vaccinated or not. The main benefit of vaccines is to reduce the severity of the symptoms and to hopefully keep you from getting very sick and dying.

Elderly man holding a young childs hand walking

The fact is that in Ontario, almost 90% of us are vaccinated. However, 10% of the unvaccinated population take up 50% of ICU beds. This clearly demonstrates that the unvaccinated are at a greater risk of getting very sick. There is ample evidence from all over the world that the virus can start replication before the immune system can stop it. The vaccines prime our immune system and help prevent severe disease, but they cannot stop the spread; they can only limit it. The same is true about Vaccine Inequity. Until, we vaccinate the whole world instead of just selfishly vaccinating Canadians, we will not get out of this Pandemic. Until we vaccinate the world, there will be another variant and another variant and… And speaking of variants, a new variant can develop from anywhere, variants can come from Canada just as easily as they can come from South Africa or Denmark. We have to be realistic and treat this pandemic as being endemic and INCREASE OUR HEALTH CARE CAPACITY and increase our ICU capacity and increase the number of trained healthcare workers that we have.

Using simple math, if you catch Omicron, you probably caught it from one of the 90% of vaccinated individuals that you socialize with, rather than one of the 10% of unvaccinated individuals that by now you probably don’t socialize with anyway. Let’s stop demonizing individuals for making their own life choices (even is they are the wrong choices). Let’s instead direct our anger to the politicians who starved the hospitals for funding, threw out our strategic PPE stockpile before the pandemic, and refused to provide sick days and rapid tests. Let’s never forgive administrators that prevented nurses in COVID wards from accessing N95 masks. Blaming individuals for systemic problems is not right. In other words, blaming a small minority of people who have not gotten vaccinated and allowing our governments to get away with not funding our health system responsibly for years is not the right thing to do. Politicians that did not responsibly fund health care should be the ones getting the blame. CALL YOUR MPP AND MP AND ASK THEM WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO EXPAND HEALTHCARE CAPACITY. Give THEM and earful instead of ostracizing your neighbor.


Hormone Therapy

Nurse checking labels on hormone therapy medication

Hormonal therapy is sometimes given in conjunction with radiation to boost the effectiveness of prostate cancer treatment. Hormonal therapy may also be used to shrink the size of large prostate glands to ensure the proper placement of the radioactive seeds.

Combination hormonal/radiation therapy is now a standard option for men with cancer that has extended beyond stage T3 or T4 or whose cancer is considered high-risk. Studies show that it reduces the risk of dying from prostate cancer and other causes more than with either treatment given alone.

patjient on an MRI getting scanned

Studies also show that patients who have advanced prostate cancer have better outcomes if hormonal therapy continues for at least two years after radiotherapy and that hormonal therapy and radiation given together were more effective than radiation by itself at treating recurring prostate cancer after prostatectomy.

Combined treatment is more likely than radiation alone to cause erectile dysfunction (ED). Until more is known, be aware that side effects do occur with combined therapy and that it’s important to discuss this issue with your doctor.


A Stealth Omicron Variant

cars on the highway with highway sign telling you to stay home

BA.2, the ‘Stealth’ Omicron subvariant, is now driving most coronavirus cases around the world. It’s not really new. Scientists first discovered the Omicron variant in November. The viral lineage already existed as three genetically distinct varieties with their own set of unique mutations. BA.2 was nicknamed the “stealth variant” when scientists had a difficult time tracking it on P.C.R. tests. Now that Delta has gone from dominant to rare, it’s easy to distinguish the two versions of Omicron on a P.C.R. test. Viruses that test positive for only two genes are BA.1, and those that test positive on all three are BA.2.

Pfizer Vaccine bottle with syringe

It seems to be easier to catch. Recently BA.2 has spread even faster than BA.1. Existing vaccines work against the BA.2 variant. Not always from catching it but from severe disease, especially those who received a booster. Vaccines remain highly effective against hospitalizations. BA.2 does not appear to be more severe than the previous version of Omicron. It is highly transmissible, but an individual infection was, on average, less likely to lead to a serious case of Covid than infections from Delta. Some authorized medications work against BA.2. Others don’t. Like BA.1, BA.2 is able to evade most monoclonal antibody treatments, making them ineffective. Some treatments, such as Evusheld and antiviral drugs Paxlovid, molnupiravir and remdesivir all remain highly effective against both BA.1 and BA.2 if taken soon after a positive test.