Another Day in the US: School Deaths Related to Firearms

Between 2001-2013, gun related deaths exceeded the total number of deaths from AIDS, terrorism, war, and illegal drug overdoses combined (according to Vox -see Firearm Mortality in U.S).  Here are some tweets in reaction to yesterday’s tragic events.

Link to The Onion commentary: ‘No Way To Prevent This’

Related blog posts:



Acute Pancreatitis: Clinical Report from NASPGHAN

There are no surprises in a recent clinical report on acute pancreatitis (M Abu-El-Haija et al. JPGN 2018: 66: 159-76) from NASPGHAN.

Here are a few of the points:

  • The authors recommend ultrasound for initial imaging and checking liver enzymes, GGT, calcium and triglycerides.
  • For fluids, they indicate that in adults there is evidence suggesting that lactated ringer’s (LR) is likely preferable to normal saline.  In children, on presentation, “if evidence of hemodynamic compromise, a bolus of 10 to 20 mL/kg” of crystalloid is recommended followed by “1.5 to 2 times maintenance IV fluids.”
  • For pain management not responding to acetaminophen or NSAIDs, “IV morphine or other opioids should be used.”
  • They recommend early oral/enteral nutrition (within 48 to 72 hours of presentation).
  • They recommend against prophylactic antibiotics in severe acute pancreatitis.
  • They recommend against probiotics, anti-proteases, and antioxidant therapy.
  • For fluid collections that need drainage or necrosectomy, nonsurgical approaches are favored.
  • Acute biliary pancreatitis, “Cholecystectomy safely can and should be performed before discharge in cases of mild uncomplicated acute biliary pancreatitis.”

Related blog posts:

American Ingenuity!!

Cancer due to Overweight/Obesity

The increasing risk of cancer due to overweight and obesity has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recent MMWR report (CB Steele et al. MMWR 2017; 66: 1052-8Vital Signs: Trends in Incidence of Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity — United States, 2005–2014

Key points:

  • Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk of at least 13 different types of cancer.
  • Overweight- and obesity-related cancers accounted for 40% of all cancers diagnosed in 2014.
  • The incidence of overweight- and obesity-related cancers (excluding colorectal cancer) increased significantly among persons aged 20–74 years during 2005–2014, mirroring increases of obesity observed since 1960.
  • The findings emphasize the importance of intensifying nationwide efforts to prevent and treat overweight and obesity.

My take: While the medical risks related to overweight/obesity generally are attributed to worsened cardiovascular disease, this study adds information regarding the increased risks of some types of cancer as well.

Related blog posts:



Colorectal Cancer: Of Mice and Microbiota

A recent study (SH Wong et al. Gastroenterol 2017; 153: 1621-33) highlights the potential role of the microbiota and colorectal cancer (CRC).

In this study, the stool from either patients with CRC or control patients was gavaged into mice twice a week for 5 weeks.  One group of mice  had received azoxymethane (AOM) which induces neoplasia and the other group were germ-free mice.  Extensive studies involving immunohistochemistry, expresssion microarray, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, immunoblot, and flow cytometry.

Key findings:

  • Conventional, AOM-treated mice who received gavage from patients with CRC had significantly higher proportions of high-grade dysplasia (P<.05) and macroscopic polyps (P<.01)
  • Among the germ-free mice fed with stool from patients with CRC, there was a higher proportion of proliferating Ki-67-positve cells
  • These findings correlated with more dysbiosis in the mice who received stool from patients with CRC and with upregulation of genes involved in cell proliferation, stemness, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and invasiveness

“This study provides evidence that the fecal microbiota from patients with CRC can promote tumorigenesis in germ-free mice and mice given a carcinogen.”

My take: This study shows that microbiota clearly influence the risk of CRC.  I infer from this study that this could explain the potential healthy roles of diets with more fruits and vegetables, that promote healthier microbiota as well as the potential detrimental role of diets with more processed meats.

Related study: L Liu et al. Association between Inflammatory Diet Pattern and Risk of Colorectal Carcinoma Subtypes Classified by Immune Responses to Tumor Gastroenterol 2017; 153 1517-30.  Using two databases from 2 prospective cohorts with followup of 124,433 participants, inflammatory diets had a higher risk of a colorectal cancer subtype.

Related blog posts:

Bright Angel Trail

Screening for Bile Acid Synthesis Disorders

A recent study (AA Al-Hussaini et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 613-20) showed that serum (total) bile acids is effective in screening for bile acid synthesis disorders. In this prospective study from Saudi Arabia, with 626 patients and 450 with infantile cholestasis, the authors identified bile acid synthetic disorder (BASD) in 2.7% of infantile cholestasis patients.  Among the 15 cases, 11 were due to 3β-hydroxyl-Δ5-C27 steroid oxidoreductase dehydrogenase deficiency (HSD3B7).  In these conditions, serum bile acids are low or normal (< 10  μmol/L) in the setting of cholestasis; most cholestatic conditions have elevated bile acids. In addition, all of their patients with bile acid synthetic disorders had a normal or low GGT.

Cholic acid is the “only effective therapy” for bile acid synthetic disorders.  It has a high cost of “$31,000 yer year in Europe” (50 mg per day).

My take: While the authors provide a diagnostic algorithm (figure 3) for diagnosis of bile acid synthetic disorders, this will likely change with the emergence of genetic screening panel.  At this time, in infants/children with cholestasis along with a normal/low GGT and normal/low serum bile acids, one should check urine for fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry.

Related blog post:

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon


Modern Malady: Text Neck

In every age, our bodies need to adapt to new challenges.  Apparently, in this age, we need to solve another problem induced by texting, “Text Neck.”

NY Times: Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods

Here’s an excerpt:

The average human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds, and when we bend our neck to text or check Facebook, the gravitational pull on our head and the stress on our neck increases to as much as 60 pounds of pressure. That common position, pervasive among everyone from paupers to presidents, leads to incremental loss of the curve of the cervical spine. “Text neck” is becoming a medical issue that countless people suffer from, and the way we hang our heads has other health risks, too, according to a report published last year in The Spine Journal.

Posture has been proven to affect mood, behavior and memory, and frequent slouching can make us depressed…

And the remedy can be ridiculously simple: Just sit up.

My take: Smartphone use increases the risk of many health problems besides “Text Neck” including car accidents.  Their use also contributes to missing social cues, including placing those in front of you behind those who interrupt conversations with texts and phone calls.

Iron Metabolism Improves after Anti-TNF Therapy for Crohn’s Disease

A previous study has shown that low vitamin D levels improved with anti-TNF therapy for Crohn’s disease in the absence of supplemental vitamin D.  Similarly, a recent study (MA Atkinson, MB Leonare, R Herskovitz, RN Baldassano, MR Denburg. JPGN 2018; 66: 90-4) showed improvement in iron metabolism with anti-TNF therapy.

In 40 children and adolescents with Crohn’s disease, the authors measured serum hepcidin-25 and hemoglobin at baseline and then 10 weeks after anti-TNF therapy.

Key findings:

  • Median hepcidin concentrations decreased (27.9–>23.2 ng/mL) and mean hemoglobin increased (10.6–>10.9).
  • Disease activity and markers of inflammation also decreased.

My take: This study shows that improvement in inflammation is associated with meaningful improvement in anemia.  However, most patients will need additional treatment for anemia, particularly as anemia may be related to blood loss in addition to anemia of chronic disease/inflammation.

Related blog posts: