September 5, 2013

GOOD Side Effects from Medications?

I wrote yesterday about the dangers of adverse drug interactions. I’m taking as few meds – prescribed and OTC – as possible. I’m cutting pills in half . . . with doctor’s approval, of course. I keep telling myself that diet and exercise are the wisest, surest path to wellness.

Yes, unexpected side effects from drugs can be dangerous . . . but not always. Check out this information from an article by Jessica Girdwain in AARP’s June/July magazine titled “Surprising Good Side Effects of Your Meds”:

Flu shots may protect against heart disease and stroke by preventing plaques from rupturing. In fact, a new research review suggests that getting a flu shot reduces these risks by a whopping 48%.

Statins (for lower cholesterol) may assist cancer treatment.  Quite simply, lowered cholesterol may inhibit growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells. Cancer patients on statins were 15% less likely to die than patients not taking statins..

Metformin (for diabetes) may reduce breast cancer risk by 17%. In fact, that risk in women taking the drug for three years was reduced 25%. Lower insulin blood levels may restrict cancer growth.

Beta blockers (for lower blood pressure) may reduce dementia risk. Hypertension restricts blood flow to the brain. Better blood flow = better brain health.

Levodopa and dopamine agonists (for Parkinson’s) may spark creativity. No surprise for me here. I’ve known from several years of experience that 5-HTP, which affects dopamine release, triggers problem-solving and fresh insights. My own (fairly unique) response to 5-HTP, in fact, was the reason I started this blog.

Adalimumab (for psoriasis) may ease depression. Sufferers of the skin disorder who took 40mg of adalimumab every other week for 12 weeks improved their scores on a depression test by six points, compared with another group taking a placebo.

Aspirin (for reduced heart attack risk) may improve odds for surviving colon and prostate cancer. Men with prostate cancer who took aspirin every day had a 57% reduced risk of dying ten years after diagnosis. Scientists suggest that aspirin may activate a cancer-inhibiting protein.

Paxil (for depression) may lower heart failure risk. This particular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) may also suppress GRK2, an enzyme the body overproduces during heart failure. Other SSRIs – like Prozac and Zoloft – don’t have the same effect.

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