This condition causes MORE liver damage than excess alcohol! – Issue 40

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

You probably know obesity is becoming an epidemic in the United States—and in other countries that adopt Western eating habits.

But you might be surprised to learn what British researchers discovered about a new health threat associated with being overweight…

Find out what it is—and what you can do to protect yourself in today’s Monday Edition of Health News Weekly™!

Extra Body Fat Causes More
Liver Damage than Booze!

Layne Lowery

U.K. researchers say obesity—not alcoholism—is the most common cause of liver disease in Europe and North America. And in some folks the damage is so severe that they need liver transplants to survive!

Doctors say the rise in obesity means the problem will get even worse in years to come.

The warning comes from Dr. Varuna Aluvihare and other liver experts at King’s College Hospital in south London, one of the UK’s leading liver transplant centers.

Unless things change soon, Aluvihare said in the next 20 or 30 years obesity will be the most common cause of cirrhosis—or irreversible scarring. He said it could also become the most common warning for organ transplant.

And this could pose real problems for hospital transplant units already burdened with long waiting lists.

The liver is the largest internal organ in your body. It has hundreds of functions including:

  • Breaking down food
  • Converting nutrients to energy
  • Ridding your body of excess fluids
  • Helping to fight infection

When you’re overweight, your liver often begins to store excess fat. This can cause your liver to enlarge. In serious cases—it can become permanently scarred.

But you can improve the situation if fatty liver disease is caught early enough. Your best bet is to maintain a healthy body weight through regular exercise and a healthier diet.

That’s a piece of cake, right?

Statin Drugs Could Boost Chances of Brain Hemorrhage in Stroke Victims!

Roz Roscoe, Staff Writer

Some folks who take statin drugs after a stroke could increase their risk of having a brain hemorrhage, a new study suggests.

Lead researcher Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Center for Cerebrovascular Disease and the Duke Stroke Center at Duke University Medical Center, said the risk of stroke increased among people taking Lipitor® who had had a previous stroke.

According to findings published in the December 12 online edition of Neurology, Goldstein said this was especially true of people who had had a previous brain hemorrhage.

Goldstein said based on these findings, patients who have had a hemorrhagic stroke should not receive a statin to lower cholesterol. “Having had a brain hemorrhage within the prior one to six months, one should be very cautious about starting a patient on a statin,” he noted.

The research group analyzed data from the Stroke Prevention with Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) trial. In SPARCL, 4,731 people received 80 milligrams of Lipitor daily or placebo.>

Study participants had had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) one to six months before entering the SPARCL trial. None of the participants had a history of heart disease.

During the follow-up of nearly 5 years, 2.3% of people taking Lipitor had a hemorrhagic stroke compared with 1.4% of those taking the placebo.

Some other factors that increased the risk of brain hemorrhage included:

  • Being older
  • Having had a previous hemorrhagic stroke
  • Being male, and
  • Having high blood pressure

The study notes that people with severe high blood pressure had more than six times the risk of hemorrhagic stroke compared with people with normal blood pressure.

Dr. Wade Smith, director of the Neurovascular Service at the University of California, San Francisco, said the most important factor in preventing a second stroke is controlling blood pressure.

He said neurologists should think seriously before recommending statins to a patient who has had a brain hemorrhage.

“We as doctors and as patients need to be very aggressive about making our blood pressures normal after stroke,” he said. “That’s the most effective way of preventing a second stroke.”

Fast Fact

Your body needs proper nutrients to protect itself from disease. Some of your best choices for antioxidant protection include vitamin E and selenium.

Studies show vitamin E helps your body conserve the dietary fats you need to protect your cells.

Take 800 international units (I.U.) of vitamin E and 200 mcg of selenium daily to prevent excessive breakdown of good fatty acids. It’s a simple way to help boost your defenses!

Heavier Women More Likely to
Feel the Heat of Menopause!

Haley Whiten , Contributing Editor

Women who carry extra pounds may be cranking up their body heat during the “change of life”. Researchers say the higher a woman’s percentage of body fat at menopause—the more likely she is to experience hot flashes and night sweats.

Doctors previously thought these “vasomotor symptoms” of menopause were less common in heavier women. This is because body fat can convert hormones into estrogen, said Dr. Rebecca C. Thurston and her colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

This should mean that women with more body fat would therefore have an estrogen reserve to shield them from these symptoms.

But according to a report in the January 1, 2008 American Journal of Epidemiology, heavier women may actually experience more hot flashes and night sweats.

Thurston and her team studied 1,776 women going through menopause. Fifty-nine percent reported having vasomotor symptoms.

The research team found that as body fat increased—so did the likelihood a woman would have hot flashes and night sweats.

Researchers suggest the excess fat may make it more difficult for your body to use up heat.

Based on the findings, Thurston and her colleagues say losing excess weight—and especially fat—may help women to douse the flames of menopausal discomfort.

Health E-Hints

A Simple Way to “Nail” Down Health Problems

Your eyes have been called the windows of your soul. But doctors say your fingernails could tell the story of your health!>

You may be able to detect health conditions ranging from hepatitis to heart disease when healthy fingernails undergo changes.

Joshua Fox, M.D., director of Advanced Dermatology and spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology told WebMD changes in the nails can warn you about local fungal infections. But they can also be a sign of a systemic disease such as lupus or anemia.

Fox lists 10 examples of nail changes that could indicate a serious medical condition:

Nail Appearance Associated Condition
White nails Liver diseases such as hepatitis
Yellowish, thick, slow-growing nails Lung diseases such as emphysema
Yellowish nails with a slight blush at the base Diabetes
Half-white, half-pink nails Kidney disease
Red nail beds Heart disease
Pale or white nail beds Anemia
Pitting or rippling of the nail surface Psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis
Increase in tissue at the ends of the fingers, or inversion of the nail Lung diseases
Irregular red lines at the base of the nail fold Lupus or connective tissue disease
Dark lines beneath the nail Melanoma

Try to look at more common explanations before you assume the worst. Your nails could become discolored from bruising, bleeding beneath the nail, and fungal infections. But try to keep your fingernails clean and healthy—so you’ll be alert to any potential problems.