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Newsletter #11: Flu Shots, Arthritis, and more

December 2022

Medical News and Commentary

Is the flu shot working this year? It’s about 50:50. The flu shot has been readily available for all ages and the CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older receive it. There are four types (or strains) of influenza viruses: A, B, C or D. Types A and B cause severe disease in humans, and each year the seasonal flu vaccine protects against two A and two B strains. The experts take an ‘educated guess’ as to which strains will show up each year and place these in the vaccine. Some years they are right, other years, like 2014-2015, they fail miserably.


Therefore, in some years the flu vaccine is more effective than others depending on the strain. It is a “good” season if the vaccine is 40% to 60% effective. Effectiveness means that percent of those vaccinated that are less likely to become seriously ill or die from influenza.


This year’s flu shot has a nearly 50% efficacy against hospitalization from the major strain of the flu, according to the CDC. Even if infected, the flu vaccine may make the symptoms less severe.


Dr Paz comments. Clearly, the flu vaccine is not perfect. However it can definitely help. Adequate rest and good nutrition can go a long way. Some of the same supplement recommendations I have made for Covid in previous newsletters may also be helpful. Because this vaccine has been used for decades, we know its safety record is good. I would encourage any high-risk person or those who come in contact with high-risk persons to get it. When I was working for the hospital system, I was forced to get this vaccine under threat of job termination. Now that I am over 65 and no longer employed, I opt to get it voluntarily. Isn’t that the way it should be?




When is the best time to exercise? Ben Franklin was right. Ben was quoted as saying ”Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. Now science has proven him right, at least the healthy part. A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reveals that physical activity in the morning, particularly between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., has the most positive impact on a person’s risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke in comparison to physical activity at any other time of day.


The researchers observed and analyzed data from 86,657 participants in the UK Biobank. The average age of the individuals was 62. Compared with individuals who were active midday, those most active around 8 a.m. or 10 a.m. had 11 percent and 16 percent lower risks of coronary artery disease, respectively. For women, risks were reduced by 22 percent and 24 percent at these times. 




Motrin/NSAIDs for knee arthritis? It might not be a good idea. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, usually affecting the hands, hips or knees. It occurs when the cartilage in a joint erodes and the bone changes, causing pain, stiffness and swelling. About 32.5 million American adults are living with the condition.


Researchers at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America reported that long-term use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may lead to increased joint inflammation and damage to cartilage. This was based on MRI scans from more than 1,000 patients with osteoarthritis in their knees. The results are contrary to what would be expected, given that NSAIDS like Motrin(ibuprofen), Aleve and Naprosyn(naproxen) and Mobic(meloxicam) are thought to be anti-inflammatory.


Dr Paz comments: More natural approaches such as physical therapy, high dose fish oil, CBD and SAMe may be viable alternatives. I’ll discuss alternative pain management in an upcoming newsletter.


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