Warning on grapefruit

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    ‘The most prudent thing to do if you are on any medication and love grapefruit or grapefruit juice is to discuss this with your physician.’

    COVID-19 Update

    Worldwide – nearly 74 million cases, with almost 1.7 million deaths. The Philippines – about 452,000 and 9,000 deaths. The USA – around 17 million cases and 310,000 deaths. Last Saturday, there were almost 200,000 cases, with about 1,400 deaths in one day in the USA.

    The first-dose supply of the FDA-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the SARS-CoV2 virus of COVID-19 has been delivered to 50 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

    Priority recipients are healthcare workers and first responders, to be followed by seniors with health issues. The rest of the population will be getting the vaccine early to middle of next year.

    Even after getting the vaccine, people will still have to wear mask properly (covering nose and mouth) in public and do social distancing (with a healthy dose of paranoia and medical vigilance), until we know more about the effectiveness, length of protection it confers, side-effects, and whether some of those vaccinated could still get COVID-19 and transmit it.

    Letting the guard down after receiving the vaccine is a serious mistake. We will have more vital clinical data by 2022. The reason COVID-19 has spread like wildfire, infecting 74 million and killing almost 2 million, was because more than 50 percent of the people refused to follow the COVID-19 guidelines. The more compliant we all are, the sooner this pandemic will end.

    Does coffee raise our blood pressure?

    Yes, most definitely. A cup of regular coffee or two can abruptly blood raise blood pressure (8 mm in systolic and 6 mm in diastolic) even among those not predisposed to hypertension. For those who suffer from high blood pressure, drinking coffee, even only a cup a day, makes the blood pressure shoot up for at least four hours, but not to a dangerous level, especially among treated persons. The BP is no longer affected by coffee among those chronic drinkers who are on BP meds. Healthy lifestyle, regular medical check-up, taking prescription medications, and moderation, are the key to health.

    Does condom protect one from AIDS?

    Only complete abstinence from sexual activity and from needle sharing (especially among addicts) can guarantee protection from AIDS. The use of condom, in general and to a great extent, may lessen the transmission of AIDs, but this is not a guarantee. A significant number of condoms coming from the factory are defective or with tiny holes, or weak spots. There are more than 17 million people in the world who are HIV-infected. Don’t be one of these statistics.

    Is durian an aphrodisiac?

    Durian, a popular Asian fruit that has the distinct reputation for its “bad smell but heavenly taste” (for some people) has been bantered around as one that increases sexual libido.

    There is no scientific evidence durian is an aphrodisiac. If anything at all, the smell alone might turn off some lovers, or excite those who love its taste.

    Is wine really good for our heart?

    Yes, more specifically red wine. It is not the alcohol in it that is good for our heart. The ingredient in red wine called Resveratrol has been found to be cardio-protective. This comes from the skin of the Pinot Noir grapes used to make these red wines. Pinot Noir has the highest Resveratrol content among red wines. Somehow, white wine does not confer the same significant health benefit. Neither does beer nor most liquor, which do not contain this special ingredient.

    Does grapefruit affect some medications?

    Yes, there are several medications that should not be taken with grapefruit or grapefruit juice. This fruit or its juice inhibit a group of enzymes in our body (CYP3A4), resulting in higher level of the medications getting out of our intestines into our blood stream and the entire body. So, this can lead to overdose. One glass of grapefruit juice can inactivate these enzymes for half a day to 36 hours. Some of the groups of medications affected include certain calcium channel blockers, hormones, chemotherapeutic agents, sedatives and tranquilizers, some cholesterol lowering drugs, some psychiatric drugs, antiarrythmic heart medication called Amiodarone. The most prudent thing to do if you are on any medication and love grapefruit or grapefruit juice is to discuss this with your physician.

    Is self-medication safe?

    Buying over-the-counter medications on your own, following advice from friends or relatives who may be taking such drugs as prescribed by their physician, is dangerous.

    Allergies and some deadly complications have been reported in medical literature, even with the ingestion of so called “common and simple” household pill like aspirin. There is no drug which has no possible side effects. None. All medications, including prescription meds, have possible adverse effects among some people, some mild, others severe, or even fatal.

    Each person reacts differently to specific drugs. What is good and effective for one may be harmful to others. About 25 years ago, I did open heart surgery on a patient in Hobart, Indiana, USA. She was recovering very well but complained of her gout. On the fourth day after surgery, her internist ordered a pill for her gout. She had a violent reaction to the medication and rapidly went on to develop kidney, liver, and general organ failure, and subsequently died within four days from taking the medications. Always consult a physician before taking any medications you have not taken before.

    Is taking antibiotics often dangerous?

    Yes, it is not only expensive but very dangerous. In our body, there are so called “good bacteria” which help in the normal metabolism and function of our body, and are thus essential to our health. The bacteria we want to kill with antibiotics are the “bad bacteria” that cause us diseases. If we have an infection that is properly diagnosed by a physician, he/she will prescribe the specific antibiotic that is effective for a particular bug or groups of bugs causing the malady. Not all germs are killed by the same antibiotics. If one takes antibiotics indiscriminately, the “good bacteria” in our body will die and fungus infection will emerge, because the normal (protective) balance is disrupted. Also, if antibiotics are used often, the “bad bacteria” will get used to them and become resistance to the antibiotics, making them ineffective in fighting infection.

    Is dental flossing necessary?

    Brushing our teeth thoroughly after each meal is an excellent idea, but it is not enough.

    Using the toothpick is not enough. Brushing does not remove all food trapped in between our teeth. While toothpick helps get rid of the bigger particles, the smaller pieces caught in between the tighter spaces between our teeth can only be removed by dental flossing. If not removed, the trapped food particles decay, much like a rotten piece of dead meat, causing severe halitosis (bad breath). Using mouthwash (with stabilized chlorine dioxide) should also be a part of the daily routine because this kills germs that cause bad breath. Chewing gums (sugarless) also helps.

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    Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Public Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com