Are pain pills safe?

BILLIONS of people around the world use painkillers, and some of them like water, because they are readily available over the counter and mostly inexpensive. There is a survey that showed 1 in 20 people take as many as 6 tablets of painkillers for pain or headache. Some even consume more than 365 pain pills in a year. Like all other medications, including “simple” aspirin, or vitamins have potential side effects. Each person has individual response or reaction to different medications.

A jolting revelation: One week of ibuprofen increases the risk for a heart attack. The most popular combination of aspirin and ibuprofen (like Advil), a Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), is effective for pains and inflammation and preferred over steroids, but must also be taken under a physician’s supervision.

The British, Finnish, and Canadian 2017 study, which investigated the impact NSAIDs may have on the risk for heart attack, revealed this alarming finding: “By cross-referencing previous studies encompassing a group of 446,763 individuals, they found that taking NSAIDs over a period of one day to a week was associated with a dramatic risk increase of heart attack, with ibuprofen causing a 48% hike in risk of myocardial infarction. Rofecoxib, another NSAID that had an even more drastic impact at 58%, had been recalled in 2004, though it is now being considered to return to the market as a specialized treatment for hemophiliacs. Higher dosages of NSAIDs were associated with an even greater risk, though the period of intake did not seem to effect the odds.”

Of course, there are many individual variables and factors when it comes to response or reaction to medications. If you are on any NSAID and are concerned, be sure to discuss this issue with your physician. These drugs are very useful to countless people around the world.

New life-saving cancer tests

Cancer is almost synonymous to death in many instances. Malignancy is a dreaded disease. The usual problem is how to diagnose them, and how to do this as early as possible to catch it early and find a cure.

An Australian research team from the University of Queensland found a distinct and “unique DNA structure that is common to every type of cancer they tested for.” This new technology has been proven to be “accurate up to 90 percent in tests of 200 human cancer samples” which includes cancer of the prostate, lymphomas and different types of breast cancer.

“Different cancers have very different signatures and use different types of screenings to detect. Scientists have been unable to identify a simple signature that was common to all cancers, but this new technology seems promising,” says the UoQ team.

Hopefully, someday soon, test would be invented abnd appropriate drugs developed that will detect cancer soonest and make it totally curable, reminiscent of the ravages of killer pulmonary tuberculosis of the yesterdays before anti-Tb pills were developed, where the disease invades almost all organs of the body, virtually a fatal illness at the time, like many cancers today.

Smartphones reduces brain power?

Smartphones are heaven-sent in most instances. For me it is my second self, but more smart, more efficient, much faster when it comes to data production or retrieval, and has a lot more superior computer power than my brain. Used wisely, smartphones make us perform closest to our maximum potential brain power.

However, studies have shown that when we are taking an examination or doing a complex chore requiring our brain’s maximal power, the presence of our smartphone nearby, even face down, or in our pocket, reduces our brain power and performance, compared to another person who does not have a smartphone nearby. Our dependence on it virtually, subconsciously, lessens our self-confidence and distracts our concentration when we are not using it. Many are addicted to their smartphone. I am one of them, who use it for everything, from waking me up to putting me to sleep, and my activities for the whole day, from setting reminders, getting news updates, emailing, writing my column, navigating, shopping, surfing the net, and communicating with my colleague, Dr. Google.

The advise, especially for children, is to give the smartphone a vacation once in a while, not using it for half a day or more, providing the same break for tablets and laptops. Children on the phone or computer a great part of the day provides passive brain activity, unlike intellectual or brain exercise as in talking to, and interacting with people, reading, doing puzzles, or solving problems, and other active brain exercise. When we always give the task of remembering dates or occasions to our smart devices, for instance, and depend on them as a routine, then our memory bank becomes less efficient, and weaker memory and slower recall result. This does not mean these computers are bad for us. When used appropriately and with wisdom, computers (like smartphones, etc.) are a great boon to a person’s life and to humanity as a whole.

Inflammation is the culprit

The initial process in the formation of most diseases is inflammation. This is not the usual obvious inflammation that results from bumps, injuries, that leads to area redness, swelling, warmth, and pain. The patho-physiology is more sophisticated than this and the effect more systemic and general. Some of the triggers are stress, exposure to environmental pollution, toxins, etc., bad food we eat (like processed foods, soft drinks, junk foods, contrary diet, smoking, alcohol, inactivity or lack of exercise, illicit drugs, and some bad behaviors/habits. Any of these, or combination thereof, can trigger inflammation in the inner linings of the arteries all over our body and other organs, production of free radicals and increase in the oxidation processes, and weakening of the immune system.

The food items that are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants include olive oil, broccoli, tart cherries, blue (and most) berries, fish (omega 3), nuts, kelps and fermented foods. Food items that cause inflammation, which all of us should avoid, especially those with arthritis, include: sugar and all sweet items, rice, bread, pasta, gluten foods, soft drinks of any kind, french fries, processed meats, blackened grilled meats (whose oil drippings cause cancer-causing fumes/smoke that goes back up to the meat being grilled on high heat), nightshades (tomato, white potato, pepper, eggplant, paprika).

Anti-inflammatory behaviors include good attitude, physical exercises, brisk walking preferred over jogging (which causes impact injuries to spine, hip, knee, ankles joints over time), fun activities with family and friends, the act of laughing itself, singing, rest and relaxation, vacations, and any other stress reduction regimens. Living a healthy lifestyle is anti-inflammatory.

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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, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Websites: and Email:                   

Dr. Philip S. Chua
Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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