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Ignore the clickbait: Metformin still prescribed for diabetics

Dear Dr. Roach • I have read online and in our local newspaper that doctors are no longer recommending metformin as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Can you please explain why metformin is no longer being prescribed? — P.K.

Answer • I, too, have seen online ads saying that doctors no longer prescribe metformin, and if you click through enough times, you find that “one weird food” cures diabetes, and that a special diet totally eliminates the need for medication for all diabetics. This is referred to as “clickbait,” and I encourage you not to pay attention to it.

Metformin remains an important medication for many people with Type 2 diabetes, especially if they are overweight. For those people with diabetes who need medication despite an appropriate diet and regular exercise, metformin has been shown to be more beneficial, in terms of preventing diabetic complications and death, than most of the other medication options. It isn’t right for everyone, and people with poor kidney function may not be able to safely take it. Only your doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant knows what is best for you.

Dear Dr. Roach • I started researching information about early dementia and also Alzheimer’s disease. I have perused numerous articles about cholinesterase inhibitors increasing acetylcholine levels that benefit the brain. Some medications are anticholinergic and might increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Many of these medications are everyday, over-the-counter drugs. Shouldn’t the public be made aware of these drugs and their possible effect on our brain? — P.C.

Answer • One type of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is a class of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors. These include donepezil (Aricept) and others. Pharmacologically, these oppose drugs with anticholinergic properties. It makes sense, then, that anticholinergic drugs might make Alzheimer’s worse. The three classes of drugs that are strong anticholinergics — and which a recent study linked to Alzheimer’s — are older antihistamines, like diphenhydramine (Benadryl); tricyclic antidepressants, like amitriptyline (Elavil); and drugs for overactive bladder, like oxybutynin (Ditropan). These drugs still may be appropriate for some individuals, but they should be periodically evaluated to be sure they are effective and are not causing side effects. I tend to avoid prescribing these, as there are usually other alternatives that do not have the possible link to dementia.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to

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POINT OF VIEW: If we want good health care, first need better health

The government ought to help them stay well. But it inadvertently does exactly the opposite. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food for 1 in 7 Americans. What kind of food? This $70 billion program pays retailers for providing candy, soda, energy drinks, fatty cheese, meat and other foods that fuel the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and hypertension, among others.

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Ensuring everyone has opportunities to achieve good health [Commentary]

Part of our series of essays from leaders imagining the future of Columbia.

When Columbia took root 50 years ago, its founders worked with Johns Hopkins and established a group of medical doctors to provide health care to our earliest residents. They emphasized the importance of preventing illness and promoting wellness. They understood that the health of the community is directly intertwined with the health of the people.

As Columbia grows in diversity and density, it is increasingly important that we stay true to these roots while recognizing the community’s changing needs. These changes call for a renewed commitment to building a Howard County that supports good health.

We are one of the nation’s wealthiest and most educated counties – yet despite these factors typically associated with better health, we still face serious health challenges.

Healthy Living: Running & Your Brain

Protestors surrounding the ships and standing by on land as two Christopher Columbus replica ships sailed into Traverse City Wednesday night. 

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Stuart nonprofit focuses on healthy living

Obesity prevention is the focus of the Stuart-based Wholistic Growth for Future Generations, a state-wide nonprofit program that invites student interns to report about healthy living at sports and community events throughout the year.

“Everything is geared toward healthy living,” director Kraig McHardy said.

On Friday, McHardy will be taking four students from Covenant Christian School in Palm Bay — where his brother Rick is the boys basketball coach — to the Women of Red event at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The 6-9 p.m. event is hosted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“They will be interviewing the players, interviewing the coaches and interviewing the fans,” Kraig McHardy said of the students. “At the event, there will be various drills that fans get to participate in. (The interns) will be taking pictures.”

Their results will be posted on social media and on the organization’s website at and

The program, based out of the East Stuart Recreation Center, works locally with student interns from Clark Advanced Learning Center, McHardy said.

More: Run, Walk Roll event planned for Saturday at First Data Field

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Hamilton block party shares healthy living tips

Butler County dipped slightly in the County Health Rankings released in April, mostly because of upticks to drug overdoses, adult obesity and adult smoking.

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Follow these health, travel tips for safe Haj

International SOS and Control Risks has issued travel, health and safety tips for Haj travellers. And paying heed to them will really help.

Around 2 million foreign and domestic pilgrims are expected to perform their religious duties in Mecca between August 30 and September 4. Many of them will also be travelling to Medina in the weeks before and after the pilgrimage.

Local authorities have been bracing for the busy period. Transportation and other facilities have been put in place for the pilgrims.

James Bird, regional security manager at International SOS and Control Risks in Dubai, says: “Every year, we help members from around the world to prepare for Haj. We remind those familiar with travel to Saudi Arabia that this will be an unusually busy period with potential travel delays, and we advise them to anticipate heightened security at transport hubs and increased congestion on certain overland travel routes.”

He adds, “We also reassure first-time travellers that the local authorities are very well prepared to manage the influx of pilgrims – mainly through the designated Haj terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) – and that they should always comply with legal, religious and cultural conventions throughout their time in the Kingdom.”

International SOS and Control Risks advises travellers to reconfirm appointments, accommodation and travel arrangements during the busy Hajj and Eid Al Adha period, to minimise any inconvenience due to increased demand. The official Eid Al Adha holiday is expected to take place between August 31 and September 3, during which government offices, banks and other businesses will be closed, the release says.

International SOS also issues health tips each year, to help travellers during their stay in the holy city.

Dr Issam Badaoui, medical director of assistance at International SOS in Dubai, says,”Over the past few weeks, we have been helping members preparing for Haj to stay on top of all vaccination requirements and health tips.”

All pilgrims have to present proof of the quadrivalent meningitis vaccination, and those from exposed countries should show proof of yellow fever and polio vaccinations. It is also highly recommended that travellers get a seasonal flu shot and ensure all other routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling for Haj.

Pilgrims should seek medical attention if they develop moderate-to-severe respiratory issues within two weeks of leaving the Kingdom, preferably by contacting medical institutions before visiting them in person, the International SOS points out.

Dr Badaoui adds: “To avoid the spread of bacteria or infections, pilgrims are advised to keep some distance from sick people and maintain a high degree of personal hygiene. Remember to choose clean, well-cooked food and safe beverages, including bottled water and pasteurised milk. Also, take measures to stay hydrated and cool to avoid heat-related illnesses.”

Pilgrims have also been advised to avoid contact with animals, especially camels and their products, and to protect against mosquito bites by using effective repellent and wearing protective clothing.

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    Arab country announces 16-day Eid Al Adha holiday

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  • India

    India bans export of gold products above 22 carats

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Humpday Health: Tips on backpacks to protect kids’ spines

Monday – Friday:
5:30am – Good Morning Carolina
Noon – WWAY News
5pm – WWAY News
5:30pm – Good Evening Wilmington
6pm – WWAY News
7pm – WWAY News
11pm – WWAY News

6pm 11pm – WWAY News

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‘Healthy Living for Summer’: Travel tips for eating smart and staying active

It can be easy to overindulge while traveling, but that may lead to feelings of regret once the vacation is over. How can we travel in a way where we maintain our balance and health. In the eighth episode of ABC News’ “Healthy Living for Summer” series, we spoke with Julieanna Hever, a plant-based dietitian.

PHOTO: Travel tips for eating smart and staying active on the road.Galia Sotomayor/ABC News
Travel tips for eating smart and staying active on the road.

“If it’s a really long flight I’ll bring food with me, but if it’s a short flight I’ll eat when I get there,” Hever said. “I’ll eat whole foods as much as possible, not packaged foods which can be high in saturated fats, salts, sugars and oils.”

Below are a list of tips Hever gave ABC News.

PHOTO: Travel tips for eating smart and staying active on the road.Galia Sotomayor/ABC News
Travel tips for eating smart and staying active on the road.

Quick tips

  • Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions about the menus at restaurants
  • Use apps to help you locate healthier foods and markets
  • Plan ahead – will there be ways to exercise, will there be a kitchen, can you bring food, how are you traveling and for how long
  • Look at a menu with “green goggles” and if there is no option you like ask to mix what’s available (for example: ask the waiter if they can take mushrooms from one plate and asparagus from another to make a new dish)
  • Take healthy snacks with you: fruit, baked or sweet potatoes, raw vegetables, hummus, whole grain crackers, almonds
  • If there is no gym available, try to exercise in your room, or go outside and use it as a way to explore the city (bike, walk, run)
  • PHOTO: Travel tips for eating smart and staying active on the road.Galia Sotomayor/ABC News
    Travel tips for eating smart and staying active on the road.

    Watch ABC News talk healthy travel tips in the video above.
    This weekly health series will continue throughout the summer.

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    Doctors Warm To Single-Payer Health Care

    Single-payer health care is still a controversial idea in the U.S., but a majority of physicians are moving to support it, a new survey finds.

    Fifty-six percent of doctors registered either strong support or were somewhat supportive of a single-payer health system, according to the survey by Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruitment firm. In its 2008 survey, opinions ran the opposite way — 58 percent opposed single-payer. What’s changed?

    Red tape, doctors tell Merritt Hawkins. Phillip Miller, the firm’s vice president of communications, said that in the thousands of conversations its employees have with doctors each year, physicians often say they are tired of dealing with billing and paperwork, which takes time away from patients.

    “Physicians long for the relative clarity and simplicity of single-payer. In their minds, it would create less distractions, taking care of patients — not reimbursement,” Miller said.

    In a single-payer system, a public entity, such as the government, would pay all the medical bills for a certain population, rather than insurance companies doing that work.

    A long-term trend away from physicians owning their practices may be another reason that single-payer is winning some over. Last year was the first in which fewer than half of practicing physicians owned their practice — 47.1 percent — according to the American Medical Association’s surveys in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Many doctors are today employed by hospitals or health care institutions, rather than working for themselves in traditional solo or small-group private practices. Those doctors might be less invested in who pays the invoices, Miller said.

    There’s also a growing sense of inevitability, Miller said, as more doctors assume single-payer is on the horizon.

    “I would say there is a sense of frustration, a sense of maybe resignation that we’re moving in that direction, let’s go there and get it over with,” he said.

    Merritt Hawkins emailed its survey Aug. 3 and received responses from 1,003 doctors. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

    The Affordable Care Act established the principle that everyone deserves health coverage, said Shawn Martin, senior vice president for advocacy at the American Academy of Family Physicians. Inside the medical profession, the conversation has changed to how best to provide universal coverage, he said.

    “That’s the debate we’re moving into, that’s why you’re seeing a renewed interest in single-payer,” Martin said.

    Dr. Steven Schroeder, who chaired a national commission in 2013 that studied how physicians are paid, said the attitude of medical students is also shifting.

    Schroeder has taught medicine at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center since 1971 and has noticed students’ increasing support for a single-payer system, an attitude they likely carry into their professional careers.

    “Most of the medical students here don’t understand why the rest of the country doesn’t support it,” said Schroeder.

    The Merritt Hawkins’ findings follow two similar surveys this year.

    In February, a LinkedIn survey of 500 doctors found that 48 percent supported a “Medicare for all” type of system, and 32 percent opposed the idea.

    The second, released by the Chicago Medical Society in June, reported that 56 percent of doctors in that area picked single-payer as the “best care to the greatest number of people.” More than 1,000 doctors were surveyed.

    Since June 2016, more than 2,500 doctors have endorsed a proposal published in the American Journal of Public Health calling for a single-payer to replace the Affordable Care Act. The plan was drafted by the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), which says it represents 21,600 doctors, medical students and health professionals who support single-payer.

    Clare Fauke, a communications specialist for the organization, said the group added 1,065 members in the past year and membership is now the highest since PNHP began in 1987.

    Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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