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Eduardo Gonzales
Eduardo Gonzales
Medical Notes

How to live to 100

How long can a person possibly live? Any tips on how we can live that long? —jordana_ql@gmail.com Scientists who studied survival data dating back to 1900 from more than 40 countries have calculated that the absolute limit of human lifespan is 125 years. Only a few people have gotten close to that limit. The oldest verified person on record was a Frenchwoman, Jeanne Calment (1875 to 1997), who lived to be 122 years and 164 days. Determinants of lifespan Our maximum lifespan is dictated by the genes that we have inherited from our parents. At birth, we are already programmed to grow old and die. Currently, researchers have already identified some of the genes—which act in concert with each other—that influence health and life expectancy. Those among us who have been lucky enough …

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Yet another reason to be wary of Mosquitoes

I read a newspaper article that said the Department of Health has declared an outbreak of chikungunya in Cavite. What is chikungunya? Is it a new disease or is it really just another form of dengue as some people say? —linaliy_ed@gmail.com The Department of Health (DOH) has indeed declared an outbreak of chikungunya in Cavite province late last month after more than 400 cases of the disease were reported in the town of Indang and two cases each in the cities of General Trias and Dasmariñas. Chikungunya is a disease that shares some commonalities with, but is not simply another form, of dengue.  Like dengue, it is mosquito-borne. Also, it is transmitted by the same mosquitoes that spread dengue, Aedesaegypti and Aedesalbopictus. It is likewise caused by a virus, but a different …

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Primer on stem cells and stem cell therapy

Can stem cell therapy really reverse or retard the aging process and cure a variety of cancers? —rina_ccc@gmail.com   Stem cell therapy refers to the use of stem cells to treat, prevent, or reverse a disease or condition. The term stem cell, on the other hand, does not refer to a single cell type. It is the collective term for the cell types in the body that have the capability to multiply infinitely and transform into a variety of specialized cells. There are many types of stem cells and their capabilities differ. At present, the list of diseases or conditions for which stem cell therapy has been shown to be beneficial is a very short one. It doesn’t include retardation of the aging process.   The origin and nature of stem cells The trillions of cells that make up a human being originated from a single cell, the fertilized ovum, which resulted from the union of the father’s sperm …

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Arch enemy

I am a 45-year-old office worker who jogs two to three kilometers three to four times a week to keep fit. My problem is I have been experiencing pain on the sole of my feet when I start to walk upon waking up in the morning for several weeks now. At the start, the pain got relieved after I walk for a few minutes, but lately, my soles, especially the heel area are slightly sore the whole day. Is this pain related to my jogging, but I’ve been jogging for years now?  —robert_y@yahoo.com Yes, your foot ache is most likely related to your jogging. In fact, foot ache is very common among middle-aged people like you who engage in sports that involve a lot of walking or running such as tennis, …

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The ABCs of postnasal drip

What is postnasal drip? Is it really a very common cause of common cough?  How is it treated? —fidel2003@yahoo.com Postnasal drip is a condition that involves the numerous mucus glands present in the lining of our nose (nasal cavity) and throat. Throughout the day, these glands produce a limited amount of mucus that moistens and cleans these areas, humidifies inhaled air, traps inhaled foreign matter and clears them, and helps destroy pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses before they can get into our body and cause infection. Normally, the mucus mixes with saliva and drips unnoticed down our throat, swallowed unconsciously and continuously throughout the day. When these glands secrete excessive amount of—or very thick—mucus, however, the secretion accumulates in the back of our nose and when it flows down our throat to be swallowed, it becomes annoying and noticeable, and is referred to as postnasal drip. Postnasal drip irritates and makes us want to constantly clear our throat. Often, it also triggers a cough—that is why the condition …

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Another plus for exercise

I read an Internet article that says exercise cancels the bad effects of alcohol intake. Is this true? I ask because I know many of the things that are posted on Internet websites have no factual basis.  —lyndy_etal@yahoo.com You’re right, many Internet websites post unreliable, fallacious, and sometimes downright false information on health matters, but the article you read is genuine: Exercise can cancel out the bad effects of drinking. Exercise and Drinking An observational study that looked into the effect of exercise on the harmful consequences of drinking was conducted by an Australian research group headed by Dr. K. Perreault. In the study, the researchers used the data from eight population-based surveys that involved 36,370 men and women aged 40 years and over, who were followed up for about 10 years per …

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FAQs about Zika

Is it really true that the Zika virus is now infecting Filipinos? What’s so dreadful about this virus? What can we do to prevent its spread? When a Zika virus epidemic erupted in North and South America two years ago, it became a distinct possibility that in time, the virus will reach the Philippines if only because Filipinos travel a lot and that we have a healthy population of Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito, all over the country. Hence, the Department of Health (DOH) announcement last week that confirms a sixth case of Zika infection in the Philippines since 2012 came as no surprise, especially because an outbreak of the virus has been affecting our neighbor, Singapore, since last month. What is the Zika virus? Zika virus is the microorganism that causes …

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Vaccines for adults

Are there vaccines for adults? Can you list them down and discuss each briefly. ​—loida_ss16@gmail.com There are indeed vaccines for adults. Some are for those who have not been previously immunized either as children or adults while a few are to serve as booster doses to maintain the person's immunity to certain diseases. There are also some vaccines that are intended specifically for adults, particularly older adults. These are for diseases that the elderly are prone to. Below is a listing and a brief description of the vaccines that are recommended for adults in the general population. The list is consistent with the latest (2015) recommendations of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination. Those vaccines such as meningococcal, rabies, typhoid, and hepatitis A vaccines that are recommended only for special categories of people (e.g., health care workers) have been excluded from the list. Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis vaccine (Tdap vaccine) This vaccine prevents tetanus, …

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How generic differ from branded drugs

What is the difference between a generic drug and a branded drug? Why are generic drugs much cheaper than branded ones? —swea_like3@yahoo.com   A generic drug differs from its branded counterpart only in name and price. The active ingredient in a generic drug is chemically identical to its branded counterpart. It is also identical—or bioequivalent—to its branded counterpart in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics, and intended use. Generic drugs, however, are much cheaper than branded drugs. How a drug is named When a new drug is discovered, it is given a proprietary or chemical name, which describes its atomic or molecular structure, but this name is usually long and complicated and impractical to use in scientific forums and literature. Thus, it is given a nickname or generic name. For …

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Vaccines that prevent cancers

Which cancers are now possible to prevent by vaccines? Are vaccines against all forms of cancer forthcoming?  —lfe.ll@gmail.com   At present, the vaccines that are in the market are effective only against certain infectious diseases (e.g., polio, measles, chickenpox, and hepatitis B). These vaccines contain a relatively harmless antigen, a substance that resembles a disease-causing micro-organism such as a virus or bacterium. The antigen often consists of weakened or killed forms of the microorganism, its toxins or one of its surface proteins. When a vaccine is introduced into our body, it stimulates our immune system to produce antibodies and other immune responses that can destroy the microorganisms from which the antigen has been derived. Thus, the protection conferred by a vaccine is specific only to the particular antigen that is present in …

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