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Diet soda just as harmful to teeth as meth and crack cocaine, study claims

Diet soda may be a popular drink alternative for those looking to cut back on calories, but heavy consumption of these beverages could wreak havoc on a person’s teeth. According to a new study published in the journal General Dentistry, constant exposure to the citric and phosphoric acid in soda – without proper dental hygiene – can be just as damaging to teeth as methamphetamine or crack cocaine, Health Day news reported. “You look at it side-to-side with 'meth mouth' or 'coke mouth,' it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same,” Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, told Health Day News. According to Bassiouny, methamphetamine and crack cocaine are highly acidic, just like diet soda. The study referenced a woman in her 30s who drank 2 liters of diet soda every day for three to five years.   When her teeth were compared to a 29-year-old methamphetamine addict and a 51-year-old crack cocaine user, the levels of tooth rot and decay were very similar.  The woman also admitted she had not seen a dentist in many years. Bassiouny said her teeth had been destroyed by erosion, becoming soft and discolored.  She ultimately had to have all of her teeth removed and replaced with dentures. “None of the teeth affected by erosion were salvageable,” Bassiouny said. Both the meth addict and crack cocaine users had to have all of their teeth removed as well.  According to Health Day News, these drugs also reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, making it difficult for the acids to wash away. While the results may seem staggering, representatives for the American Beverage Association argue that it’s unlikely soda was the single culprit for the woman’s tooth decay. “The woman referenced in this article did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years -- two-thirds of her life,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement. “To single out diet soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and erosion -- and to compare it to that from illicit drug use -- is irresponsible.” Click for more from Health Day News.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/29/diet-soda-just-as-harmful-to-teeth-as-meth-and-crack-cocaine-study-claims/

Combined supplements no better for cholesterol

The cholesterol-lowering agent red yeast rice, an alternative treatment method for patients that can't tolerate statin drugs, doesn't work any better when a plant-derived compound called sterol is added to it, according to a new study.  “I expected to see a synergistic effect with red yeast rice, and I was shocked to see no effects whatsoever,” the study's lead author Dr. David Becker said. Statin drugs like Lipitor are the first-line option for lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, or “bad cholesterol,” for patients at risk for heart disease, said Becker, a cardiologist with Temple Health Systems in Philadelphia. But while 15 million Americans take statin drugs, according to IMS Health, “10 to 20 percent of people can't tolerate statins and stop them,” said Becker, because of bothersome side effects, like muscle pain. Some of those people turn to red yeast rice, which is made by culturing yeast on the grain, and contains a statin-like compound that slows the body from making its own cholesterol. Red yeast rice supplements usually cost about $20 for a bottle of between 100 and 200 600-milligram tablets. Previous studies found that phytosterols, plant-derived steroids found in vegetable oil, lower LDL levels when used alone. Outside of dietary sources like margarine, phytosterol supplements are available in drug stores for about $20 for 200 900-milligram tablets. The study included 220 people with high LDL, averaging around 150 milligrams per deciliter, who had discontinued or declined statins prescribed by their doctor. (For people without heart disease risk factors, national U.S. guidelines recommend levels below 130.) They all took 1,800 milligrams of red yeast rice twice per day. Half of the group also took two 450-milligram tablets of phytosterols twice daily, while others took a placebo, for one year. Half of the participants attended meetings with doctors, dietitians and exercise physiologists for three months and was told to exercise and eat a Mediterranean diet for the rest of the year. The other half did not have special diet or exercise instructions. There was no difference in LDL cholesterol between the phytosterol or placebo groups at three months, six months or one year, according to the study published in the American Heart Journal. “There was absolutely no effect of phytosterols in any manner across the board,” Becker said. Though the diet and exercise group members seemed to have a head start at lowering their LDL, at the end of the study both groups had arrived at the same average of about 110 milligrams per deciliter. SEVERAL LIMITATIONS The trial had several limitations, according to Dr. Jeffrey Shanes, a cardiologist at Loyola-Gottlieb Memorial and Elmhurst Memorial Hospitals in Melrose Park, Illinois. About 30 percent of study participants dropped out of the trial after being screened and put in a treatment group, Shanes, who was not involved in the study, said. The statin-like compound in red yeast rice can cause the same muscle pain as synthetic statins for some patients, he said. Red yeast rice contains some sterols of its own, so it's possible that adding more sterols didn't appear to lower LDL any further because they were already in play, Shanes said. Becker would recommend diet and exercise before red yeast rice, he said. Batches subject to poor quality control may contain a potentially fatal liver-damaging byproduct of yeast fermentation, for example. And it may also increase the risk of muscle injury when combined with other cholesterol drugs. “Under no circumstances should people be going to Walgreens and getting red yeast rice because of the potential drug interactions, because every batch is different,” Shanes said.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/17/combined-supplements-no-better-for-cholesterol/