HEALTH BLURBS

Hello All!  Ok, Ok, I know I have not written any health information since around Easter.  I hear and feel your pain, no pun intended.  Although things have been pretty busy in the Herman household, I am making a commitment here and now that at least once per month you will get a blog in the areas of health, finance and storytelling.  The poetry sessions will be thrown in from time to time for good measure.  (Hmmmm, been quite a while on that one, so no promises there.)

Today, I want to share with you some information I read in the AARP magazine.  Some of you will remember that you already read it, but since we can’t all look at everything, and if we do read AARP, my bet will be that we meant to remember, but forgot:)

Following are the highlights of a section entitled “Healthy You”:

1.  It seems that you can safely watch 2 hours of TV per day; more than that increases the concentration of triglycerides in your blood and lowers HDL.

2.  A new study finds that a gain of just 10 beats per minute over normal increases your risk of dying from heart disease by 10 to 18 percent.  (What does this mean?  Maybe I shouldn’t do all that exercise!)

3.  I know you have been having at least your 5 servings of fruits and veggies, but if you can go on up to 7+ your risk of an early death can be reduced by 42 percent (per a British study).

4.  Love this one!  A study of more than 21,000 healthy adults who slept five or fewer hours per night were 50 percent more likely to become obese.  Based on this study, I should probably be skinny.  Not.

This in within the last month from the New York Times journalist, Andrew Pollack:

Discussions at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology included–

New class of meds may unleash the body’s immune system to attack tumors, prolonging the lives of people with the most common form of lung cancer.   In a separate study, researchers say they found that a particular genetic signature in the tumor can help predict which patients could benefit from the immune-boosting drugs.   Wow…we may be getting somewhere!

If you have the signature you should be treated with checkpoint inhibitors.  They work by releasing molecular brakes, or checkpoints, that prevent the body’s immune system from attacking the tumor.  The products on the market so far are Keytruda (Merck) and Opdivo and Yervoy (Bristol-Myers Squibb).  All three drugs are approved to treat melanoma; Opdivo was also approved in March to treat the so-called squamous-cell form of non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for about one-quarter of the lung cancer cases.

Opdivo also prolongs survival for those with non-squamous cell lung cancer.  Patients who received Opdivo lived a median of 12.2 months compared with 9.4months for those treated with the chemo drug docetaxel.  Opdivo, also known as nivolumab, had far fewer side effects.  The randomized trial, paid for by Bristol-Myers, involved 582 patients with advanced cancer who had already had treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.  This summer, Bristol intends to apply to have Opdivo approved to treat non-squamous lung cancer, the majority of lung cancer cases.  It has my vote!

To review more, a version of this article appears in print on the May 30, 2015, page B3 of the New York Times edition, with the headline “New Promise in New Class of Drugs for Cancer”.

Stay healthy, my friends!

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