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Sunday, July 27, 2014

NIACIN/NIASPAN AND FASTING FOR BLOOD TESTS

During these past few weeks I have posted on a range of stuff related to your health:
Let me start today with Niacin.  Yes, this Vitamin B3 (this was the third B vitamin, found in 1943) does appear to boost levels of good high density lipoprotein and lower triglycerides, and, perhaps even lower bad low density lipoprotein.  Also this acid (chemically called nicotinic acid) appeared to relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.  There is a reason why they sound the same:  nicotinic acid (right) results on the oxidation of nicotine.  Should you be concerned.  Nah.

Insufficient niacin causes pellagra, and, not to scare you, but this is an ailment starting with diarrhea and dermatitis, leading to dementia and death.  However just about any modern diet provides sufficient niacin.

The recommended daily allowance is 18 mg/day for males and 13 mg/day for women.  However, those on Niacin take 35 mg/day.  Sounds extreme to me, but to combat cholesterol, some take as much as 3,000 mg/day.  Niacinamide is an alternative for those who flush.

As niacin is a natural pill, drug companies cannot patent it and jack up the price.  A bottle of a hundred 1000 mg capsules purchased over the counter only costs around $7.  However, 90 tablets of 1000 mg extended release Niaspan tablets, sold by Abbot, can cost more than $500.  In other words, use judgement about what kind of Niacin to take.  One can only wonder whether this issue is symptomatic of medical plans supporting pharmaceutical companies.

WORST YET, TWO LATEST STUDIES ARE LEADING TO DOCTORS NOW INDICATING THAT NIACIN IS TOO RISKY FOR ROUTINE USE!!!  First, it was confirmed that Niacin does not prevent any heart problems.  But that's almost the good news, for there seems to be a troubling  (but only tiny) rise in deaths among Niacin users.  While maybe only incidental, NIASPAN appeared to induce more strokes.  Interestingly enough, Abbot paid half of one study, said to cost $52 million, and sales of this formulation for them approached $1 billion last year.

This is certainly not the end of Niacin, nor Niaspan.  The results were preliminary and additional investigations will provide confirming clues.  In the meantime, you Niacin/Niaspan takers need to talk to your personal physician.

I find the above to be disturbing in many ways.  However, I may have good news for some of you, especially me:  FASTING MAY NOT BE NEEDED BEFORE FUTURE BLOOD TESTS FOR CHOLESTEROL.  I find that my blood pressure jumps when I am hungry.  This could well be a potential life-saving change for me.

Basically, in 2011 a study was run for 200,000 blood tests in Calgary, Canada.  Here were the results between fasting and eating:
  • 2% difference for total cholesterol and HDL
  • 10% for LDL
  • 20% for triglycerides
Is this significant?  Authors of this study indicated that fasting for routine lipid (those above bulletized items) level determinations is largely unnecessary.  So when will my blood-takers heed this study?  Don't know.

But more so, I will be eternally grateful if medical science can derive the results of my blood test without drawing any of my blood.  Surely enough, non-evasive developments seem on the horizon, as there is a hint of a wrist band that can provide this information.

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There continue to be four storms in the East Pacific, all headed for Hawaii:


However, only the one on the extreme right, Tropical Storm Hernan, currently at 70 MPH, will become a hurricane:


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