IN THE NEWS:Pot use and the awful problem of marijuana-induced psychosis byDr. MarcSiegelBack when I was in college, a close friend of mine developed a bad, paranoid reaction to a strong batch of pot. I will never forget the twisted look of fear on his face. Eventually, he recovered, but it always seemed to me that he was never quite the same, and to this day is quick to be suspicious of people. When I became a physician, I saw this reaction much more frequently in the ER where I worked, and I became aware that the strains of marijuana people were smoking were becoming stronger. I saw anxiety and depression and occasionally full-blown psychosis which is characterized by a break from reality with delusional thinking and sometimes hallucinations. The condition brought on by smoking pot is known as cannabis-induced psychosis. When I view it as a physician I see it as containing an active chemical which has health implications. This is the way I view all biochemicals whether they are available over the counter or by prescription only. Marijuana contains a highly potent chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, which has strong psychological effects. Genetic factors are important. A variant of the AKT1 gene which effects dopamine in the brain, has been show to put pot smokers more at risk of psychosis. Though the THC content of Cannabis is variable, it has clearly become much more potent over the years, with many times more THC commonly found now in pot than in the 1970s, when it was commonly less than 2 percent. This change is largely responsible for the increase in paranoia and psychosis among the general population. In Amsterdam, London, and Paris— three cities known for high THC marijuana – were found to have a whopping 50 (Amsterdam) and 30 percent (London) of new psychosis cases associated with potent forms of the drug. As a practicing internist, I can tell you there are no free lunches when it comes to your health. With stronger recreational pot becoming more widely available all the time (now legal in 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, with more on the way), the risk of psychiatric disorders including worrisome debilitating psychosis, will only grow.
WELLNESS:High-Fructose Corn Syrup’s Effect on Tumors Is Another Strike Against Soda A spate of recent population-based studies seems to be spelling the end for sugary drinks, with studies linking soda to outcomes like diabetes and obesityand even increased risk of death. Now, a paper released Wednesday in Science adds impacts on colon tumors to the list of their sour side effects. People with risk factors for colorectal cancer should avoid drinking any drinks with sugar in them. The authors from Weil Cornell’s Graduate School of Medical Sciences showed that a daily dose of high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener used in many sodas and sweet drinks, caused colon tumors to grow larger and more aggressively in mice. The tumors seemed to be able to feed on the sweetened substance. The study’s co-senior author Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., says that this tumor feeding behavior isn’t limited to high-fructose corn syrup. He believes it may extend to traditional sweeteners. “Our studies strongly indicate that people with risk factors for colorectal cancer should avoid drinking any drinks with sugar in them, whether high-fructose corn syrup or cane sugar (sucrose) or honey or molasses, or apple juice or orange juice. Eat an apple, not apple juice,” he tells Inverse. In short, the tumor cells can suck fructose directly from the inside of the intestine after a mouse consumes a lot of high-fructose corn syrup. These cells make this extra sugar their preferred energy source and use that to thrive. NOTE: Stevia is the perfect sweetener it contains no sugar yet tricks the tongue into tasting 300 times sweeter than sugar. In addition to being non-caloric, stevia won’t spike your blood sugar, is high in antioxidants and can reduce inflammation. Stevia leaf extract does not cause cancer. Authoritative bodies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), have reviewed the scientific data, including cancer studies, on Stevia leaf extract. They agree it is safe for use in our beverages.
CONDITION OF THE WEEK:What’s This Tingling in My Leg? When you think of low back pain, you may visualize a person half-bent over with their hand on the sore spot of their back. Since many of us have experienced low back pain during our lifetime, we can usually relate to a personal experience and recall how limited we were during the acute phase of our last LBP episode. However, when the symptoms associated with LBP are different, such as tingling or a shooting pain down one leg, it can be both confusing and worrisome – hence the content of this month’s article! Let’s look at the anatomy of the low back to better understand where these symptoms originate. In the front of the spine (or the part more inside of the body), we have the big vertebral bodies and shock absorbing disks that support about 80% of our weight. At the back of each vertebrae you’ll find the spinous and transverse processes that connect to the muscles and ligaments in the back to the spine. Between the vertebral body and these processes are the tiny boney pieces called the pedicles. The length of the pedicle partially determines the size of the holes where the nerves exit the spine. When the pedicles are short (commonly a genetic cause), the exiting nerves can be compressed due to the narrowed opening. This is called foraminal spinal stenosis. This compression usually occurs later in life when osteoarthritis and/or degenerative disk disease further crowds these “foramen” where the nerves exit the spine. Similarly, short pedicles can narrow the “central canal” where the spinal cord travels up and down the spine from the brain. Later in life, the combined effects of the narrow canal plus disk bulging, osteoarthritic spurs, and/or thickening or calcification of ligaments can add up to “central spinal stenosis.” The symptoms associated with spinal stenosis (whether it’s foraminal or central) include difficulty walking due to a gradual increase in tingling, heavy, crampy, achy and/or sore feeling in one or both legs. The tingling in the legs associated with spinal stenosis is called “neurogenic claudication” and must be differentiated from “vascular claudication”, which feels similar but is caused from lack of blood flow to the leg(s) as opposed to nerve flow. Chiropractic management of all these conditions offers a non-invasive, effective form of non-surgical, non-drug care and is the recommended in LBP guidelines as an option when treating these conditions.
FUNNY BONE: A young man was planting some flower seeds on a sweltering day, sweating from the hot sun. His neighbor said, “You need to wait until the sun goes down, or plant in the morning when it is coolest.” The man said, “I can’t do that. It says on the package, ‘Plant in full sun!’ ”@@ My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law. —Jerry Seinfeld@@ Concerning a sign seen in a Police canteen in Christchurch, New Zealand: ‘Will the person who took a slice of cake from the Commissioner’s Office return it immediately. It is needed as evidence in a poisoning case.’
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