1. Hypertension drug raises skin cancer risk

    WARNING: Do this to save your skin

    It's a familiar story.

    You go in for your annual physical... that cuff tightens around your arm... and you walk out with a prescription for a drug you're supposed to take for the rest of your LIFE.

    It's a scenario that's happening to more and more people now that new guidelines have lowered the threshold for a hypertension (a.k.a. high blood pressure) diagnosis to anything above 130/80 (previously 140/90).

    And though popping a pill sounds like an easy way to lower your BP and protect your health, this story doesn't always end so happily.

    You see, many BP meds have been shown to cause serious side effects that range from irregular heartbeat to problems in the bedroom.

    And according to a new study, one drug in particular -- the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide (a.k.a. Microzide) -- may raise your risk of two types of skin cancer.

    In the study, Danish researchers linked data on hydrochlorothiazide use to cancer registry records.

    After they crunched the numbers, it turned out that those who took the drug daily for six years were 29 percent more likely than those who didn't to develop a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma.

    And they were four times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer that can grow into deeper layers of your skin... and even spread to other parts of your body.

    What's more, when the researchers looked at those who took hydrochlorothiazide the longest -- about 24 years of daily use -- those subjects were 54 percent more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma and SEVEN TIMES more likely to get squamous cell carcinoma than those who never took it.

    That's about as close as we can get to finding out what happens in the "rest of your LIFE" part of the story!

    Now, we know from previous studies that hydrochlorothiazide has been linked to another dermatological issue: a higher risk of sunburns.

    The theory is that the drug can make you more vulnerable to skin damage from UV rays, allowing cancer to take hold.

    Sure, you could slather yourself in strong sunscreen every day to protect yourself. But do you really need to be on hydrochlorothiazide in the first place?

    If you ask me, it's just too easy for mainstream docs to diagnose you with hypertension based on ONE reading... at one time... on one day.

    And in many cases, simple lifestyle changes -- such as losing weight, exercising regularly, and supplementing your diet with natural BP regulators -- can keep your BP in check without side effects.

    As you've read right here in eTips, I recommend magnesium, tart cherry juice, and cinnamon. Even taking a hot bath can work wonders.

    But if your BP is truly dangerously high and you take hydrochlorothiazide, make sure you're getting plenty of vitamin D in your diet -- because studies show that this hero vitamin can help protect you against medication-induced sunburn.

  2. Revised guidelines create millions of new hypertension diagnoses

    High blood pressure? Not so fast.

    If you indulged in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner last week, I hope you and yours enjoyed the feast.

    And, if you're like me, you may STILL be munching on the leftovers! (Let's face it -- turkey is the gift that just keeps on giving.)

    But there's one "gift" you may have gotten that you most certainly will NOT be grateful for -- and that's high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension).

    Now, you might blame salt... or holiday stress... or even a few extra pounds from stuffing yourself with stuffing.

    None of those are the culprit of your overnight "diagnosis," though.

    How do I know?

    Because your numbers didn't change. The official BP targets, however, did.

    As a result, the number of Americans with hypertension rose from 72 million to an eye-popping 103 million... overnight!

    Since 2003, the "cutoff" for high BP has been anything above 140/90. And earlier this year, the national committee in charge of the guidelines loosened the reins a bit, announcing that a systolic (a.k.a. top) number of 150 would be the "high" threshold for healthy folks over 60.

    But according to the new guidelines, a BP above 130/80 will now be considered high for those with at least a 10 percent chance of a heart attack or stroke in the next decade -- which means pretty much EVERYONE over 65 (plus a gaggle of younger people who have risk factors like diabetes).

    If you ask me, the new recommendations will just make it easier for docs to diagnose you with high BP after taking just one reading... and then send you off with a stack of prescriptions for dangerous drugs you're supposed to be on for LIFE.

    You see, the new guidelines are based on a study that found that a group of folks over 50 who got their systolic BP under 120 reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by a third and their risk of death by 25 percent.

    Sounds impressive... until you find out that the participants needed on average THREE drugs to meet the 120 target -- and they DOUBLED their risk of acute kidney injury.

    And, over the long haul, we know that these pills can cause irregular heartbeat... cancer... and even problems in the bedroom.

    What's more, the new guidelines could actually make your BP too low -- setting you up for dizziness and falls.

    So, I'm not paying much attention to these new goal posts, and you shouldn't either.

    If your BP is truly, dangerously high by all accounts, start by making some simple lifestyle changes that can reduce it naturally.

    Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight is the best thing you can do for your BP.

    Switching to the Paleo diet will help you shed pounds AND cut out the sugars, processed fats, and sodium that can jack up your BP.

    Exercising regularly, sitting in a sauna, and supplementing your diet with natural BP regulators like magnesium, tart cherry juice, and cinnamon can also keep your BP in a healthy range -- without side effects.

  3. Spicy foods curb salt cravings and hypertension

    Beat back bland food while keeping your BP in check If you're like many of my patients, you're saving yourself tonight for a big day tomorrow. Eat a light dinner now... and you can spend Thanksgiving enjoying all of the fixings. But if you've struggled with high blood pressure, there's one thing you know you shouldn't reach for, even on...
  4. Hypertension linked to stress-induced activity in gut bacteria

    How belly bugs use the 'stress hormone' to hijack your BP Every day, it seems, science uncovers something new about how the bugs that live in your belly can meddle in your health. Sometimes, it's in a good way... and sometimes, it can get pretty bad. If you've been reading my eTips for a while now, you already know that...
  5. L-arginine and B vitamins improve hypertension

    A natural combo for easing the "silent killer" When you have high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension), the truth is you may not actually feel like anything is wrong. They call it the "silent killer," because it puts you at greater risk of stroke, heart attack, and aneurysm -- often WITHOUT symptoms to tip you off that it's happening. Taking prescription...
  6. Heart Disease study finds it's time to chew the fat

    A massive analysis of 48 years' worth of research proves sugar – not fat – is the greatest risk to your heart.
  7. Study exposes sham war on salt

    Dutch research proves Americans should be consuming two to three times as much salt as recommended by the federal government.
  8. Manners go a long way in medical care

    Doctors with people skills are more effective at helping patients lose weight, lower blood pressure and manage pain.
  9. Test lets docs spy on blood pressure patients

    Researchers have developed a urine test that will let your doctor secretly monitor whether you're taking your Big Pharma pills.
  10. Time to ditch your BP meds

    Finally a little common sense as new guidelines will take millions of seniors off blood pressure meds.

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