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Newsletter #13: Gas Stoves, Viagra, Dark Chocolate, the Cost of Healthcare

February 2023


Medical News and Commentary


Don’t toss out your gas stove just yet. A recent study suggested that gas stoves are responsible for 12.7% of childhood asthma. In response, a member of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission stated, “Products that can’t be made safe can be banned”.

 

The concern is that gas stoves emit high levels of nitrogen oxides, and those pollutants could lead to respiratory issues in susceptible children and adults. Prior studies have been a bit contradictory, with some studies showing an increase in asthma but not wheezing or an increase only in girls but not boys. Further, based on data from the American Housing Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the states with the highest gas stove usage have some of the lowest rates of asthma.

 

Is the new study biased? While the authors claim no financial ties, the study was paid for by the organization RMI. Their website states “RMI is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization of experts across disciplines working to accelerate the clean energy transition and improve lives. Our Mission: Transforming the global energy system to secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all.”

Having an organization like this sponsor this study is akin to a pharmaceutical company that makes pain medication sponsoring studies that show natural therapies don’t work for pain. Clearly, they have a vested interest in the result. I would be much happier if this type of research were conducted free of potential political bias.

 

So, what should you do? If you are in the market for a new stove and you have people in your house with asthma or other respiratory illnesses, it might make sense to go electric/convection. If not, be sure to use good ventilation with a range hood or open a window if the weather allows. Using the back burners also seems to help.

 


 

Viagra. It’s not just for sex any more. A research study  examining the impact of erectile dysfunction drugs on major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) and mortality has been published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine by scientists from Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI), HealthCore Inc., and the University of California San Francisco.

 

What did they find? In this study, scientists analyzed health records of more than 70,000 men with erectile dysfunction (ED). According to the findings, men who took Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and other drugs of the same class for ED experienced lower rates of major adverse cardiovascular events. This includes lower rates of heart failure and death due to heart disease compared to other men with ED not exposed to these drugs.

 

ED drug use resulted in:

  • 39% lower rate of death due to heart disease,

  • 22% lower rate of unstable angina,

  • 17% lower rate of heart failure,

  • 15% lower rate in the need for angioplasty, stenting and bypass surgery,

  • 13% lower rate of MACE, and

  • 25% lower rate of death due to any cause.

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Dr Paz comments: This raises the possibility of using low dose ED drugs to reduce heart disease. At this point it would be an off-label use, but because these drugs are now quite cheap in generic form, they may offer a very cost-effective way to lower heart disease risk. For example, 90 generic 5mg Cialis(tadalafil) are available through GoodRx for as little as $7. We know that the effects of tadalafil can last as long as 72 hours. So for heart disease prevention, you may need to take it only 2-3 times per week. A potential 39% reduction in heart disease for less than $30/year! More research is needed to determine proper dosing and confirm these results. It also needs to be tested in women.

 


 

Dark Chocolate is good for you, if you pick the right brand. Dark chocolate(>60% Cacao) can have significant health benefits for your heart and brain. The concern is that many brands are contaminated with potentially cancer-causing heavy metals such as cadmium and lead.

 

Last month, Consumer Reports said 23 of the 28 dark chocolate bars it tested included potentially harmful levels of lead, cadmium or both. Five had elevated levels of both metals: two from Theo, and one each from Hershey-owned Lily's, Mondelez-owned Green & Black's, and Trader Joe's. This is especially important for people who eat more than one ounce of chocolate a day.

 

Hershey's, Mondelez, Trader Joe’s, Godiva and Lindt have all been sued over the magazine's findings.

 

Dr Paz’s recommended product: Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate 72%

 

 

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