Botox safety risk below alarm levels
I amconsidering having Botox to get rid of my frown lines, but I have heard there have been some concerns about the treatment’s safety. How safe is Botox? I am53, healthy and not on any medications. BOTOX is brand name for a purified form of a chemical toxin known as botulinum toxin type A, produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum . People who develop this bacterial infection can be exposed to large amounts of the botulinum toxin, which can cause lifethreatening paralysis. However, the amount of this toxin used for cosmetic purposes (as in Botox) is very, very small by comparison and has a very good safety profile. Of course no treatment is risk-free, but generally the side effects reported have been local, including pain, tenderness and bruising at the site of the injection. There is also a slight chance that the eyelid will be affected, causing it to droop. If this happens it usually lasts only a few days, sometimes a little longer.
Aside from its cosmetic uses, Botox is used to treat a number of medical conditions such as blepharospasm (spasm of the eyelid), cervical dystonia (spasm of the neck muscles) and muscle spasticity due to cerebral palsy, to name a few.
The recent safety concerns you mention are coming from the US, where a consumer group has asked the authorities to strengthen the warnings on Botox and similar drugs after reports there had been 16 deaths associated with the treatment since it first became available. Apparently the deaths were related to muscle weakness causing difficulty swallowing after the botulinum toxin spread from where it was injected. But apparently only one of these cases involved cosmetic treatments, and what isn’t clear is where the toxin was originally injected, and for what indication. But at this stage the authorities haven’t changed their warning about the drug, suggesting there’s been no new danger discovered. I ama 46-year-old man. Recently I had a scan of my abdomen and they incidentally discovered I had two gallstones sitting in my gall bladder. They have not caused any problems, ever. What is the possibility that they will cause symptoms in the future — and should I get them removed? GENERALLY, with painless gallstones, it’s a case of leave well enough alone. Chances are they will not cause you any problems. One study, published in the BritishMedical Journal a few years ago (2001;322:91-94), looked at just this situation and found that only 3 per cent of people with painless gallstones developed symptoms related to their stones over the course of 10 years. My wife and I have been arguing about whether alcohol is an important factor when you’re trying to lose weight. Is it? ALCOHOL can influence weight for a few reasons. First, there are the other ingredients commonly associated with an alcoholic drink. Having a standard drink will mean you consume 10g of alcohol, which is only about 30 kilojoules. However, a standard glass of wine contains about 450 kJ, and a middie of full-strength beer about 585 kJ. To put this in context, a woman’s daily intake is generally around 8500 kJ, and a man’s is around 11,000 kJ if they are not dieting.
Another factor to consider is that the body cannot store alcohol as an energy source. It will metabolise the alcohol in preference to any other fuel. So while the body is burning off’’ the alcohol, it won’t be metabolising any other energy source such as fats that you may have eaten — and these then tend to be stored, leading to weight gain. Most diets generally recommend at least minimising alcohol intake if you are trying to lose weight. Linda Calabresi is a Sydney GP and executive editor of www.6minutes.com.au, a news service for Australian doctors. Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org