Graedons

Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon

Question: NasalCrom actually works better for me than the allergy pills that cause side effects. I’ve been telling everyone about it for several years. It gets a lot of word-of-mouth recommendations. Maybe that is why we don’t see a huge advertising budget for it.

This nasal spray takes several days to kick in, but then it is wonderful. Rather than addressing symptoms you already have, it prevents you from having the symptoms in the first place. I now am back to being a person who doesn’t have allergies!

Answer: Cromolyn (NasalCrom) stabilizes mast cells in the nose. These cells release histamine and other compounds when exposed to pollen and other allergens. Many other readers also report that NasalCrom nasal spray helps reduce or prevent allergy symptoms.

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Question: It seems to me that sunscreens may prevent burning, but I’m not sure they prevent skin cancer. The incidence of all types of skin cancer has increased since sunscreens were introduced. I also worry that people who shun the sun completely may be missing out on vitamin D. I’ve read that this vitamin helps keep cancers (even skin cancers) from developing. Can you help with this puzzle?

Answer: Consistent sunscreen use is a pillar of public health campaigns for preventing skin cancer. However, the evidence upon which this recommendation is based is surprisingly skimpy (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, July 25, 2016). Although highly effective sunscreens have been available for decades, skin cancer rates have been rising.

A meta-analysis of 29 studies showed no significant association between skin cancer and sunscreen use (European Journal of Dermatology, April 1, 2018). As the authors write: “While the current evidence suggests no increased risk of skin cancer related to sunscreen use, this systematic review does not confirm the expected protective benefits of sunscreen against skin cancer in the general population.”

That isn’t the way it is supposed to work. We would have expected a significant inverse association – the more sunscreen used, the less skin cancer. It still makes sense to protect yourself from sunburn, which is painful as well as dangerous.

Sunscreen does prevent vitamin D formation in the skin. People who protect themselves from UV rays may not make adequate amounts of vitamin D. Oral supplements might be helpful.

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Question: I had no problems with my blood sugar until I started taking rosuvastatin. The drug caused body aches and unexplained abdominal pain. I stopped taking it and felt much better. But my doctor said because of my borderline cholesterol I have to take statins. After a year of taking statins, my cholesterol levels are completely normal, but I have diabetes. My blood sugar is 216. I have body aches, leg cramps and extreme fatigue. Could the statins be responsible?

Answer: Statins like rosuvastatin and simvastatin can raise blood sugar. Such drugs also may lead to stomachache, muscle pain and weakness. Many readers also complain of leg cramps.

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Question: Do you have the name of a legitimate Canadian pharmacy? I am taking Eliquis 5 mg twice a day for my atrial fibrillation. It is free for the first month, but it will cost me more than $400 per month after that. I found that it is about $162 per month from an online Canadian pharmacy. I don’t know if this is safe.

Answer: Eliquis is an anticlotting drug that people with atrial fibrillation take to prevent blood clots from forming. Such clots could travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

This drug is currently available only as a brand name. You are right that the cost could run well over $400 a month if your insurance doesn’t pay. Some legitimate Canadian pharmacies charge less than half that much. You are right to be cautious. There are unscrupulous online pharmacies that masquerade as Canadian drugstores.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist; Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical

anthropologist and nutrition expert. Questions for the Graedons can be sent to them using their website, www.peoplespharmacy.com, or by writing to the following address: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.

Columnists

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist; Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.