House of Cards

It sure feels like the house of cards is crumbling. Hardly a week goes by without some pharmaceutical drug or other turning out to have unacceptable side effects. Yesterday it was hormone replacement therapy, today it is Vioxx, tomorrow it’ll be Viagra. You think I’m joking? There used to be a myth (maybe there still is) that certain sexual practices would make you go blind. Well, the use of Viagra might be added to that list very soon. It turns out that Viagra regulates a chemical that constricts the body's arteries and ophthalmologists are now identifying certain types of people who are susceptible to having the blood supply to the optic nerve cut off if they use it.

Hepatitis C

One of the great health challenges facing our society is the relatively unknown epidemic of Hepatitis C. Although it has been overshadowed by AIDS, it affects more people (estimates run up to four times as many people) and can be just as deadly.

Hepatitis is defined simply as inflammation of the liver. It is an inflammation generally associated with damage or death of liver cells. There are many varieties of hepatitis, some acute hepatitis (attacks that eventually heal), others are chronic (ongoing liver problems). Seven different viruses (termed A, B, C, D, E, F and G) have been identified which cause hepatitis. Types A, B and C are infectius and the most widespread, accounting for approximately 90% of all cases.