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Health Capsules: June 26

By: Lisa Russell


Wash U researchers warn of serious PPI risks

More than 15 million Americans take proton pump inhibitors, also known as PPIs, with a doctor’s prescription. Millions more than that are likely purchasing these drugs over the counter under brand names like Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and others, along with generic formulations. These medications, which help to control symptoms of acid reflux, frequent heartburn or ulcers by blocking stomach acid production, often become a daily habit.

However, new research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that these common drugs may raise one’s long-term risk for a number of deadly conditions, including heart disease and stomach cancer. The risk of death from PPI use may be as much as 17% higher than for those who take a different class of acid-reducing medicines called H2 blockers, the study showed.

Led by Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, an assistant professor of medicine at the university, the study looked at data from more than 157,000 people, mainly over age 65, who took PPI medicines for over a decade. They were compared to a group of just under 57,000 others who had taken H2 acid-blocking medications, which suppress stomach acid differently and are sold under brand names such as Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac. 

The researchers found significantly higher death rates from cardiovascular disease, stomach cancer and chronic kidney disease among those taking PPIs. The PPI users’ risk of death increased with longer use, even when the study participants had taken low doses of the drugs.

Al-Aly said that most alarming to him was the study’s finding that over half of those taking PPIs had no medical need for their long-term use. “Taking PPIs over many months or years is not safe, and now we have a clearer picture of the health conditions associated with long-term PPI use,” he said.

“PPIs sold over the counter should have a clearer warning about [the] potential for significant health risks, as well as a clearer warning about the need to limit the length of use, generally not to exceed 14 days. People who feel the need to take over-the-counter PPIs longer than this need to see their doctors,” he added. The study appeared in The BMJ.

Teasing kids about weight may make them gain more

Kids at risk of obesity who are teased about their weight may gain even more because of it, according to new research.

Overweight youth who are teased or bullied because of their weight may gain more as a result, according to recent research from the National Institutes of Health. 

The study included 110 youngsters who were about 12 years old when it began, and were either overweight [defined as a body mass index above the 85th percentile] or had two parents who were overweight or obese. At their initial study visit, they completed a questionnaire concerning whether and how much they had been teased about their weight. They were then followed annually for up to 15 years.

The researchers found that kids who experienced high levels of teasing had a BMI increase of 33% more each year – and a 91% greater average increase in fat mass – than those who did not. The findings, they said, appear to contradict the assumption that teasing might motivate young people to try to lose weight. 

Lead author Natasha Schvey, Ph.D., noted that the study was observational and could not prove cause and effect. “But we can say weight-based teasing was significantly linked with weight gain over time,” she said. 

Schvey and her colleagues theorized in a report which appeared in Pediatric Obesity that weight-related stigma and anxiety brought about by teasing may have made the study participants more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as binge eating and avoiding exercise, well into adulthood. 

Oral contraceptives can prevent … a torn ACL?

A large analysis has linked taking oral contraceptives with a much lower risk of ACL tears for young female athletes.

In young athletes, anterior cruciate ligament [ACL] injuries are extremely common – two to eight times more common in young women than men. Previous research suggests that elevated estrogen may play a role in female athletes’ higher risk of ACL injuries.

A recent Brown University study which analyzed a decade of U.S. insurance information found that women taking oral contraceptives also had a lower rate of ACL tears. The observational study involved more than 165,000 female patients between the ages of 15 and 49.

Oral contraceptives were found to be most protective in female athletes between 15 and 19, who were 63% less likely to need reconstructive surgery following ACL injury compared with a control group of the same age who were not taking the medications. Overall, women of all ages who took oral contraceptives were 18% less likely to require surgery after an ACL injury.

The findings have important implications for the nearly 50% of athletes with ACL tears who are unable to return to their sports, and the 20-50% who develop arthritis within two decades of their injuries, the researchers claimed.

The authors speculated that contraceptives, which contain the hormones estrogen and progesterone, may keep hormonal surges in check during an athlete’s menstrual cycle.

“It’s likely that oral contraceptives help maintain lower and more consistent levels of estrogen and progesterone, which may [otherwise] lead to periodic increase in laxity [and weakness] with subsequent risk of tear,” said Dr. Steven DeFroda of Brown, who led the research.

The authors concluded that their findings support the use of oral contraceptives in elite high school and college-aged athletes, especially those at higher risk of ACL tears such as soccer and basketball players.

“Young athletes use oral contraceptives for a variety of reasons, including regulating their menstrual cycle and/or preventing pregnancy. With careful assessment of the risks, injury risk reduction could be another way in which female athletes may benefit from their use,” DeFroda said.

On the calendar

Missouri Baptist Medical Center co-sponsors Be Well STL Boot Camp on Saturday, June 29 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at Westminster Christian Academy, 800 Maryville Center Drive in Chesterfield. The event will feature workout classes inspiring speakers and a product marketplace. Tickets are $20 per person and are available online at https://ticketsstl.com/events/be-well-stl-boot-camp-2019.

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St. Luke’s Hospital presents a free informational program, Weight Loss Surgery: Transform Your Life, Restore Your Health on Tuesday, July 2 from 6-7:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Des Peres, 2315 Dougherty Ferry Road in the MyNewSelf Education Room. Learn more about available surgical options for weight loss including low BMI lap band, gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and duodenal switch. Register online at stlukes-stl.com. 

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An American Red Cross Blood Drive is on Friday, July 5 from 2-6 p.m. at Auto Spa Etc., 8 Ellisville Town Center in Ellisville.  To schedule an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org.

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St. Louis Children’s Hospital sponsors a Family & Friends CPR course on Saturday, July 6 from 9-11:30 a.m. at Children’s Specialty Care Center, 13001 N. Outer Forty Road in Town & Country. This class is designed for parents, grandparents and teenagers who babysit [ages 10-15 if accompanied by an adult] and childcare providers. It is video-guided by a St. Louis Children’s Hospital registered nurse who uses the American Heart Association’s material. The class does not include certification; course fee is $25 per person. Register online at StLouisChildrens.org/Registration or call (314) 454-5437.

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A Sitter Skills course is offered on Monday, July 15 from noon-2:30 p.m. at the St. Luke’s Hospital Institute for Health Education, 222 S. Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield. This program is for beginning babysitters ages 11 and older to help make their babysitting experience a success. The course fee is $25 per child. Advance registration is required by visiting stlukes-stl.com.

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St. Luke’s Hospital presents You Can Manage It – Prevent Diabetes from Controlling Your Life on Tuesday, July 16 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Desloge Outpatient Center, 121 St. Luke’s Center Drive in Chesterfield, in Building A. The goal of this free program is to empower people living with diabetes by providing the information and resources needed for successful self-management. Register online at stlukes-stl.com; call (314) 542-4848 with questions.

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St. Luke’s Hospital offers cholesterol and glucose wellness screenings on Friday, July 26 from 8-10:30 a.m. at St. Luke’s Women’s Center – Chesterfield Valley, 6 McBride & Son Center Drive in Chesterfield. Get your cholesterol and glucose numbers in a one-on-one consultation with a registered nurse/health coach, which also includes blood pressure and body composition measurement. The cost is $20; an A1C blood test is also available for an additional $12. Advance appointments are required; register online at stlukes-stl.com. 

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St. Louis Children’s Hospital sponsors a Babysitting 101 class on Saturday, July 27 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the hospital’s Children’s Specialty Care Center, 13001 N. Outer Forty Road in Town & Country. This class is a great introduction to the basics of babysitting; participants learn how to entertain kids in their care while attending to their needs. There is no age limit. The course fee is $30 per child. Register online at StLouisChildrens.org/Registration or call (314) 454-5437.

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Dierbergs Markets hosts Learn to Shop for a Healthier You on Tuesday, July 30 from 10-11:30 a.m. at Dierbergs Des Peres, 1080 Lindemann Road. Join a St. Luke’s dietitian for a store tour that will focus on how to make better choices, read labels and plan meals. Tour will meet at the store’s School of Cooking. The cost is $5, but all participants will receive a $5 Dierbergs gift card at the end of the tour. To register, visit Dierbergs.com or call (314) 238-0440.

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St. Louis Children’s Hospital Specialty Care Center presents Baby-Kid Expo on Saturday, Aug. 10 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Greensfelder Recreation Center in Queeny Park, 550 Weidman Road in Ballwin. This free event connects St. Louis area families to products and services including healthcare and daycare providers, educational choices and recreation options. It will feature a petting zoo, Safety Street, magic acts, princess shows and more. Register for admission and prize giveaways at babykidexpo.com.

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