Study links legal marijuana to more trips to emergency room, more health news

SHARE Study links legal marijuana to more trips to emergency room, more health news

Thinking about trying the legalized marijuana on your next trip to Colorado? Here’s something to consider: There’s a growing risk you’ll end up in a hospital emergency room.

That’s according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Howard Kim, a postdoctoral fellow in emergency medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.


“Emergency room visits related to cannabis use have increased more dramatically among out-of-state visitors than among Colorado residents,” says Kim, who began the research during his residency at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “This may indicate that out-of-state visitors are unprepared for the adverse effects of marijuana use.”


Dr. Howard Kim

Most were sent home after a few hours. Marijuana can cause the heart to race, abdominal pain or vomiting and anxiety.

Kim says the study didn’t look at whether those ending up at the emergency room were eating or smoking marijuana products, but he suspects one factor was that people eating a brownie or cookie laces with cannabis “often don’t feel any effect immediately, leading them to eat another edible. Then, they’ve ingested multiple products. So, when the effect finally kicks in, it is much stronger.”

Staff report

Study finds testosterone gel is no fountain of youth

A landmark study suggests testosterone treatment is no fountain of youth, finding mostly modest improvement in the sex lives, walking strength and mood of a select group of men 65 and older with low hormone levels.

The long-awaited results from a rigorous, government-funded study are the first solid evidence of whether these hugely popular supplements can help treat low sex drive, lack of energy and other symptoms sometimes blamed on aging.

Lead author Dr. Peter Snyder of the University of Pennsylvania says it’s premature to recommend the treatment even for men like those studied.


The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved nearly 800 men with low blood levels of testosterone — the main male sex hormone. They were randomly assigned to use testosterone gel or fake gel without hormones, rubbed daily on the skin for a year.

Improvement in sex lives was modest among the testosterone group, and the benefits in erectile function were less that what’s been seen with Viagra and similar drugs. Men on testosterone had slightly greater improvement in mood and walking strength, but there was no difference in energy.

ABBVie Pharmaceuticals, based in North Chicago, provided its AndroGel for the study and helped pay for it but was otherwise not involved.

ABBVie spokeswoman Libby Holman called the research “an important contribution” to understanding the role of testosterone therapy.


CDC: About two-thirds in Illinois get recommended sleep

South Dakota has the largest proportion of people who get at least the government-recommended seven hours of sleep every night — 72 percent.

Hawaii has the lowest proportion — just 56 percent.

Illinois is in the middle, No. 25 — with more than 65 percent of adults reporting they get their seven hours.

That’s according to new data, based on surveys of more than 444,000 adults in 2014, from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that offers the first look at healthy sleep by state.

Nationally, about two-thirds of all American adults get enough sleep, according to the CDC, but only about half of blacks, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders do.

Inadequate sleep has been tied to a range of diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.


U. of C. doctor offers free app to track health

Dr. David Beiser

A University of Chicago physician has developed a free app he says “helps you understand your physical, mental and social health through a quick and fun health checkup.”

Dr. David Beiser says his Qualia Health app “can measure distance traveled and how quickly it’s done,” like fitness trackers Fitbit and Jawbone do.

It also lets you record what you eat and, through a series of questions on social connectedness, anxiety and other factors, provides an overall health score, according to Beiser, who hopes the app will one day be able to send updates to a user’s doctor and, using a phone’s GPS, make suggestions like where to find a fitness center or a healthy meal.

Staff report

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