Critical Health News

The Importance of Albumin

Chemicals

Albumin, which is derived from the Greek word for white (as in albino or even album, which was originally a book with a bunch of white pages), is a multi-functional Swiss army knife type protein, with a chemical structure that allows it to perform many different biological roles. It’s primarily produced in the liver and measuring its levels is one of the ways physicians determine hepatic health. Deficiencies can be indicative of cirrhosis or liver disease.

Albumin’s most well-recognized function involves its ability to act as a water trapping or water attracting “sponge” in the blood. Albumin has an ability to pull water. It’s technically called osmosis, but you can just think of a sponge. Dip a sponge in water and the water gets sucked up automatically. That’s called osmosis and that’s exactly how albumin works in the blood. Sponges are made of long chain sugars that trap water and while albumin is more like a magnet than a trap, the water pulling or absorbing effect is the same. One of the most obvious consequences of an albumin deficiency is swelling and edema. That’s because without albumin trapping fluid it tends to leak out of the blood and into the tissues. Albumin can also be thought of as a fluid expander for the blood, without it blood can become thick and sludgy and more prone to clot. Albumin levels can drop significantly in with burns or blood loss. This loss of albumin can be serious and if it’s severe it can even be life threatening and doctors will inject a pharmaceutical version of albumin into the blood as a replacement.

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Testosterone Replacement

Muscles

By now almost everyone has seen the commercials for Androgel and other pharmaceutical hormone replacements claiming to compensate for the age related drop in the testosterone known as low-T. The prescriptions, which over the past 10 years have been filled nearly 5 million times and have generated over 1.6 billion dollars in sales, are promoted as nearly magical medical hormone replacements that can improve mood, muscle development, bone strength, fat burning, endurance, libido and sexual performance.

However, despite these supposed benefits, testosterone replacement may cause problems. Recently, a trial of testosterone treatment in elderly men had to be discontinued because of increased cardiovascular events. In a commentary published in the journal “Science Translation Therapy”, Dr. Amir Tirosh of the Harvard Medical School writes that researchers concluded that hormone therapy demonstrated “substantial evidence of cardiovascular adverse effects associated with testosterone replacement”.

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Obesity is a Disease?

Obesity

Well, its official, obesity is a disease. So declared the doctor delegates at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting this past June. Americans are the second fattest people in the world (second only to Mexico, and only by 1 percent, according to Scripps Media Inc.). According to Dr. Patrice Harris, a member of the association’s board, considering corpulence as a doctor issue is good thing. “Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans, in the words of Dr. Harris.

How exactly these changes will show up remains to be seen. AMA doctors say reclassifying it as a disease will reduce the stigma that can result from the silly idea that obesity is simply the result the result of too much food and too little exercise. Apparently, our medical saviors feel that their patients do not have control over their weight and physiology.

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