Review – 12/17/18

1. Those who eat organic most often have 25% fewer cancer diagnoses – especially for breast cancer and lymphoma – compared to those who never eat organic. The French study followed 70,000 adults (primarily women) over a 5-year period. JAMA Internal Medicine

→Takeaway: Organic matters. While there are limitations to our organic farming system, at Gutbliss we recommend eating organic whenever possible. If you find eating organic a challenge – maybe you live in a food desert (an urban area where affordable or good-quality, fresh food is hard to come by) or find it difficult to fit organic into your budget – focus on buying organic foods in this order: meat, other animal products (eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.), vegetables and fruits.

2. A lung disease-causing bacteria, mycobacteria, is prevalent in showerheads. The University of Colorado at Boulder study tested DNA from 656 American and European households. Results found that mycobacteria are more prevalent in households with municipal tap water as opposed to well water. Mycobacteria abundance was also found to be more prevalent in American showerheads, which researchers hypothesize could be due to the fact that mycobacteria is partially resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants used in the U.S. The study mapped out where mycobacteria was most prevalent and found that these locations are also where non-tuberculous mycobacterial lung disease is prevalent (parts of Southern California, Florida, and New York).  Researchers conclude that showerheads may play a role in disease causality. mBio

→Takeaway: Scientists will use this information to further investigate and alter our water systems, from disinfectant to plumbing, especially in high mycobacteria areas, in hopes to lessen pathogenic bacteria health risks. While the researchers who conducted the study want to emphasize, “there is definitely no reason to fear showering,” you may be wondering: what can I do in my household to mitigate mycobacteria-related health risks? Use a plastic showerhead, which were found to harbor less mycobacteria.

3. Chronic IBD symptoms (such as fecal incontinence and constipation) don’t have to be chronic. A recent study in 40 patients with IBD (24 with Crohn’s disease, 12 with ulcerative colitis, and 4 with an ileo-anal pouch) showed that gut-directed behavioral treatment (pelvic muscle training, lifestyle modifications, and biofeedback therapy) could make a big difference in chronic symptoms. 77% of patients with fecal incontinence and 83% of patients with constipation reported improvements of “much better” and “very much better”. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

→Takeaway: Gut-directed behavioral treatment should be a first line therapy in relieving IBD symptoms. Researchers encourage patients to not only undergo therapy during a flare, but also in remission to improve outcomes.

4. According to the CDC, sleep deprivation is a public health crisis. Studies show that just by going to bed earlier, you can improve your memory, cognitive performance, ability to learn new things and handle problems, mood, ability to lose weight, metabolic function, immunity, and heart disease risk. New York Times

→Takeaway: Sleep is literally your magic pill to better health. We are constantly trying to improve areas of our health by eating better, exercising, and managing stress, but seldom do we consider sleep (or lack thereof!). If you want to successfully implement your 2019 New Year’s resolutions, getting more sleep is the best place to start. As Tim Herrera writes, “sleep deprivation is the invisible ceiling to how good life can be”!

5. Are you a victim of “legacy prescribing”? As 2018 concludes, it could be time to check your medicine cabinet! A McMaster University study looked at 50,813 patients older than 18 years of age and found that 46% of patients receiving antidepressants, 45% receiving proton pump inhibitors, and 14% receiving bisphosphonates had a legacy prescription (a prescription that prescribes a drug past its effective or recommended period) between 2010 and 2016. Researchers hypothesize that legacy prescriptions are also common for medications used for pain, anti-anxiety, and ADHD. Annals of Family Medicine

→Takeaway: The study’s lead researcher recommends taking control of indefinite prescription writing by asking the appropriate questions to your healthcare provider when the medication is first prescribed. Be sure you understand what the usual course length is for the specific medication, and when, why, and how you should stop taking the medication. Also be sure there is good communication between your specialists (who often initially write the prescription) and your primary care doctor (who sometimes takes over the ongoing responsibility of prescribing).


By: Leslie Ann Berg, MSPH