Sunday, October 30, 2011

Odds and Ends

From the last week's news headlines, I could almost do an entire Odds and Ends on the HPV virus and its vaccine - neither of which give me great joy.  But here are three things to start us off.

HPV and Heart Disease - A link between this virus and heart disease in women was introduced in the press this week.  Heart disease, not cervical cancer, is the number one killer of women and it is not something that can be prevented with a pap smear.  This has my attention and I would like to have time to review the research on this disease link.

HPV and Cancer - Not sure why I made myself a note about this.  We have known the association between cervical and oral cancer. The CDC states penile and anal cancer can also be a result of HPV but I thought I heard another one added to the mix this week.  Anyone know?

HPV and Boys - We have also known that males can carry the HPV virus but a CDC recommendation for vaccination against it was not made for boys until two things happened.  Men actually started getting cancer related to the virus, such as oral cancer, and girls did not get vaccinated at as high a rate as was expected.  In other words, if the boys are vaccinated too, the spread of the disease might be curtailed.  (of course, the benefit to Merck increases if both genders are recommended for the vaccine and eventually required to receive it - I did not see that the other company's vaccine was recommended - there are two)

Cereal Feedback - I have eaten my sample boxes of Fiber One Honey Squares.  They are okay but the brown squares really do taste gritty.  They remind me of what people think fiber is going to taste like and that is not a good thing.

Cholesterol Testing - I do not find the evidence in support of adding another test to standard cholesterol screening to be compelling.  The new test is one that is meant to measure certain particles that are associated with or components of low density lipoprotein (LDL).  Several scientists/cardiologists that were interviewed for a CBS news story are worth quoting directly - or cutting and pasting - from the story by David Freeman:
Many of those high-risk patients could be caught by a closer look at standard tests "for no additional charge," says Dr. Roger Blumenthal of Johns Hopkins University and the American College of Cardiology.
Triglycerides, another harmful fat, are a good indicator, Blumenthal said. You're at risk despite a low LDL if your triglycerides are over 130, not to mention a low HDL, he said. People who are obese, diabetic of borderline diabetic also are at greater risk, because they often have higher LDL particle counts.
Another way to measure without an added test: Just subtract HDL from your total cholesterol number. The resulting bad-fat total should be no higher than 30 points above your recommended LDL level - and if they are, it's time for serious diet and exercise, adds Dr. Allen Taylor of Washington Hospital Center.
 That's all for me tonight. Hope your week starts well. 

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