Air Pollution and Your Health: Are We Risking Our Lives for the Big City?

Caitlin Register, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), air pollution presents a negative effect on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and stroke. [1] The United States National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), as established by Environmental Protection Agency, recommends ozone concentrations below 70 parts per billion (ppb) and annual average particles with a mass median aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 μg (PM2.5) concentrations less than 12.0 μg/m3 for “sensitive” populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. For public welfare protection, PM2.5 concentrations less than 15.0 μg/m3 are recommended. [2] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), outdoor air pollution is estimated worldwide to cause about 8% of lung cancer deaths, 5% of cardiopulmonary deaths, and 3% of deaths from respiratory infections. [3] It is suggested that negative impacts on respiratory and cardiovascular health can follow both short and long-term exposures to particulate matter air pollution, and long-term exposure may be linked to atherosclerosis and childhood respiratory disease. With regard to these factors and public health, increased mortality may be the ultimate effect of air pollution. [4]

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Rebranding: The Solution to Veggie Consumption?

Derek Ebot-Akoachere, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

 

An estimated 396 million adults in the world were found to be obese in 2005. This may increase to 1.12 billion in 2030 if current trends remain unabated. [1] The Food and Drug Administration is fighting to curb this health issue by food labeling and education campaigns. [2] People tend to rate foods they perceive as healthy to be less tasty [3] because they are labeled with less appealing descriptors, [4] which may render health-focused labeling counter-effective. This begs the question: what if healthy foods were labeled with more appealing descriptors?

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Is There a Link Between The Degree of Maternal Obesity and Congenital Malformations?

Derek Ebot-Akoachere, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

 

According to the United States Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health, obesity is a health issue of nationwide epidemic proportions, [1] Almost one-third of women of childbearing age are considered obese [2], and obesity is associated with many pregnancy complications including congenital malformations (CMF). [3] The relationship between obesity in pregnancy and CMF has been investigated, but there is little data associating increasing severity of obesity and CMF.

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Yoga for Nonpharmacologic Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain

Caitlin Register, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, opioid abuse continues to be a growing issue, and drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. [1] Between 1999 and 2008, opioid overdose death rates, prescription pain reliever sales, and substance use disorder treatment admissions increased in parallel. [2] Guidelines advise patients to remain active when able, and advise prescribers to consider use of non-pharmacologic therapy, including intensive interdisciplinary rehabilitation, exercise therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, yoga, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or progressive relaxation. [3] Yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation, and is considered to be a low-impact exercise technique with low risk of injury when guided by a trained instructor. In addition to chronic low back pain, it may reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia. [4]  

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Physical Activity May Not be a Key in the Mysteries of Dementia

Caitlin Register, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

Routine moderate to strenuous exercise can strengthen the heart muscle and improve blood flow to the lungs and the rest of the body. Capillaries widen to deliver more oxygen to the tissues, and allow more toxins to be removed. [1] Risk for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, can be decreased with diet modifications and physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. [2] Studies have also been conducted to look for relationships between physical and mental health, and correlations may have been found between continued regular exercise and a decrease in major depressive disorder symptoms. Dementia is a disease characterized by progressive deterioration of cognitive function, and may be the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world. Researchers continue to search for links between physical health and improved cognition. [3]

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The Pro-oxidative Risks of a Red Meat Diet

Sahil A. Desai, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

Consuming red meat has been shown to cause a higher risk of premature death [1] and the intake of processed red meat may be more likely to cause coronary heart disease, stroke, and/or diabetes. [2] Meats are stated to be rich in the pro-oxidants heme iron, nitrates, and nitrites which can cause oxidative damage and inflammation in different organs. [3] According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) [4] and American Heart Association (AHA) [5], both unprocessed and processed red meat can increase the risks of cancer and heart disease, respectively. It was recommended that substituting white meat and fish for red meat can reduce the risks of disease development. 

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Possible Treatment for Grave’s Ophthalmopathy: A Sight for Sore Eyes

Kyle Savio, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

Graves’ ophthalmopathy (GO) is considered a sight-threatening condition that can occur with hyperthyroidism, and a greater risk in Graves’ hyperthyroidism. Symptoms may include dry and gritty ocular sensation, photophobia, excessive tearing, double vision, and a pressure sensation behind the eyes. Distinguishable features include orbital erythema/edema, retraction of upper eyelids, and proptosis. [1]

Guideline recommendations include surgery, radiation, anti-thyroid drugs, and corticosteroids. [2] Biological therapies are being explored to target receptors of interest in GO. The insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) has demonstrated increased expression on orbital fibroblasts in GO patients. Thyroid autoantibodies that are overproduced in Graves’ disease may activate these receptors to cause upregulation of inflammatory mediators such as interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, and prostaglandins. [1] Teprotumumab is believed to bind to IGF-1R and block thyroid autoantibodies from stimulating inflammation. [3] Continue reading