Posts tagged with "Mass. General Hospital"

This is your mind and body on tea

August 8, 2019

If drinking the beverage, tea, is simply “not your cup of tea,” you may be missing out, according to a recent report by Reader’s Digest Canada.

Unsweetened tea is rich in antioxidants, which prevent chronic diseases and help repair cells in the body, dietitians and medical professionals say.

 “Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, which contains antioxidants known as catechins, most importantly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG),” Anthony Kouri, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Toledo, Ohio, told the magazine. “These eliminate free radicals in the body and reduce inflammation.”

So pinkies up; it’s time to learn about the amazing benefits (and just a few risks) of drinking tea:

  • Your risk of suffering from certain cancers goes down. The antioxidants and compounds found in tea have been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, “including . skin, prostate, lung, and breast cancers,” says Uma Naidoo, M.D., director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital..” Drinking tea is just one of the simple ways you can prevent cancer.
  • Your skin is healthier. Drinking black tea regularly can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer. Interestingly, how you prepare it makes a difference. “Hot black tea is helpful for squamous carcinoma of the skin,” Dr. Naidoo told Reader’s Digest. Hot tea has been found to be more beneficial than the iced alternative.
  • Your risk of diabetes decreases. Drinking black tea every day can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by helping to control your blood sugar after meals.
  • Your teeth get stronger. According to a study in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, green tea has an antibacterial effect that could reduce cavity-forming bacteria in your mouth. Drinking green tea every day also could make developing cavities less severe.
  • Your heart will thank you. The anti-inflammatory properties of tea can keep your blood vessels relaxed and clear, putting less stress on your heart. ” Dr. Naidoo recommends drinking three cups of black tea per dayto achieve the heart benefits.
  • Your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease decreases. “Green tea can help you develop resistance against stress, and potentially Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Naidoo told the news outlet. “The polyphenols protect cells from damage.”
  • Your sleep could improve. “East-Asian medicinal tea can [help eliminate] insomnia,” says Dr. Naidoo. According to a study in Integrative Medicine Research,drinking tea can help improve sleep and quality of life in those with mild-to-moderate insomnia.
  • Your attention span may improve. The caffeine in tea can improve your attention and alertness. “Theanine is an amino acid that is virtually unique to tea,” explains Dr. Naidoo. “It may… improve attention by relaxing the brain—but stimulating it when it is time to focus.”
  • Your metabolism speeds up. “The caffeine in tea helps to improve mental acuity as well as increase metabolism and fat burning (up to 100 calories per day),” says Dr. Kouri. Just be sure you’re not overdoing it in the caffeine department. One cup of green tea contains about 40 milligrams of caffeine, and Dr. Kouri recommends limiting your daily caffeine intake to no more than 300 to 400 milligrams.
  • BUT you may not absorb enough iron. There are some “cons” to drinking tea, as well. The catechins in tea can alter your body’s ability to absorb iron. This means that even if you eat enough high-iron foods, you won’t get the benefits and could become anemic. “Though most healthy people will not be affected by this, those who have iron deficiency or anemia should abstain from large amounts of green tea,” recommends Dr. Kouri. This includes children, pregnant women, and anyone with a history of kidney disease.
  • You could be at higher risk of bleeding. Drinking a large amount of tea every day could put you at risk for bleeding from a minor cut or bump. “It makes you more prone to bruising, explains Michelle Lee, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon who practices in Beverly Hills, California. “I require all my patients to stop drinking tea[for] two to three weeks before surgery.”
  • Your medication may not work. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist before brewing a pot of tea everyday. “Catechins can interfere with some heart and blood pressure medications,” warns Dr. Kouri.

Finally, when selecting a tea, make sure it is unsweetened. Even if some flavored teas contain no calories, they still could contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Opt for making your own tea as opposed to buying it already prepared.

“The more tea leaves are processed, the less effective the catechins become, explains Dr. Kouri. “Green tea is minimally processed and has the greatest health benefits of the available teas.”

Research contact: @ReadersDigestCA

Take a chill pill: You actually may not be allergic to penicillin

February 1, 2019

Penicillin was the original “wonder drug”—but, today, people are wondering why, for more than half a century, doctors have warned them it’s contraindicated for their care.

Discovered in 1928 and found to “miraculously” cure infections by 1942, penicillin was the first antibiotic that many Baby Boomers were prescribed as children. However, that first dose of penicillin also turned out to be the last for many youngsters—who broke out in bumps or rashes that were diagnosed as allergic reactions.

Now there is a different school of thought. In fact, according to a study posted by the Journal of the American Medical Association in January, fully 19 out of 20 people who have been told they are allergic to penicillin actually can tolerate it well.

Indeed, The New York Times reported on January 22, millions of Americans whose medical histories document their penicillin sensitivities are not actually allergic. But they are steered away from using some of the safest, most effective antibiotics—relying instead on substitutes that are often pricier, less effective, and more likely to cause complications such as antibiotic-resistant infections.

Experts in allergy and infectious disease, including the paper’s authors, are now urging patients to ask doctors to review their medical history and re-evaluate whether they truly have a penicillin allergy.

The evaluation—which may require allergy skin testing and ideally should be done while people are healthy— is especially important, The Times reports, for pregnant women, people with cancer and those in long-term care, and anyone anticipating surgery or being treated for a sexually transmitted infection.

“When you have a true infection that needs to be treated, the physician will see you have the allergy and not question it,” said  Dr. Erica S. Shenoy, an author of  the study, and an infectious diseases specialist who is s on the staff of Harvard Medical School of Massachusetts General Hospital.

The review was carried out with input from the boards of three professional medical organizations: the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; the Infectious Diseases Society of America; and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. All three groups endorsed the findings.

There is no question that some patients have potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to penicillin, but the label appears to have been applied far too broadly, experts say. About 10% of Americans report having a penicillin allergy, and the rate is even higher among older people and hospital patients—15% of whom have a documented penicillin allergy.

But studies that have gone back and conducted allergy skin testing on patients whose medical records list a penicillin allergy have found that the overwhelming majority test negative. A 2017 review of two dozen studies of hospitalized patients found that over all, 95 percent tested negative for penicillin-specific immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies, a sign of true allergy.

 “We used to say nine out of 10 people who report a penicillin allergy are skin-test negative. Now it looks more like 19 out of 20,” Dr. David Lang, president-elect of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and chairman of allergy and immunology in the respiratory institute at the Cleveland Clinic, told the Times.

What’s more, the researchers say, many people who have avoided penicillin for a decade or more after a true, severe allergic reaction will not experience that reaction again.

“Even for those with true allergy, it can wane,” said Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal, the review’s senior author, who is an allergist and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “We don’t really understand this, but once you’ve proven you’re tolerant, you go back to having the same risk as someone who never had an allergy” to penicillin.

Finally, the researchers warn, don’t challenge yourself to penicillin on your own. Patients who have been told they’re allergic to penicillin should talk to their doctors, who should take a careful history and review the symptoms of the reaction.

If the past reaction to penicillin included symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting and itching, or the diagnosis was made based on a family history of the allergy, the patient is considered low-risk and may be able to take a first dose of penicillin or a related antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, under medical observation.

If the past reaction included hives, a rash, swelling, or shortness of breath, patients should have penicillin skin test, followed by a second test that places the reagent under the skin if the first test is negative. If both tests are negative, the patient is unlikely to be allergic to penicillin, and an oral dose may be given under observation to confirm

Research contact:  @nytimes