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Coconut oil, blood pressure pill recalls among top AJC health stories of 2018

It seems like endless health-related studies and assessments were in the news in 2018. However, there were a few that intrigued AJC readers more than others. 

From concerns over hypertension medication to new information about heart disease risk, people have become increasingly more health conscious. 

Here’s a look back at the AJC top health stories of 2018 based on our data and analytics. 

» RELATED: These are the top 10 health questions of 2018, according to Google

Common painkillers triple dementia symptoms

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Researchers from universities in Europe examined 162 people with dementia and depression from 47 Norwegian care homes. 

After they analyzed the results, they found dementia side effects tripled for those prescribed buprenorphine, a painkiller given to 15 percent of dementia patients in countries where it is available. The team saw a significant rise in personality changes, confusion, and sedation. 

They presented their findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July. 

Coconut oil is “pure poison”, according to Harvard professor

Karin Michels of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health delivered a German-language lecture in August titled “Coconut Oil and Other Nutritional Errors.” During the 50-minute talk, she said, “coconut oil is pure poison,” according to a translation by Business Insider. “It is one of the worst foods you can eat.”

She said it is more dangerous for our hearts than lard, because it is almost entirely made up of saturated fatty acids, which may block our arteries. Plus, there is no known study showing the health benefits of coconut oil.

Household chores are as damaging as smoking 20 cigarettes daily

In February, researchers from universities in Norway published a study that evaluated how cleaners contribute to lung decline over time. After assessing the lungs of more than 6,200 women and men over 20 years, they discovered that women who cleaned as little as once a week had an accelerated lung decline risk. In fact, they said using cleaning products for 20 years is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 10 to 20 years for women. Men who cleaned did not see the same decline as women.

Two more blood pressure medications recalled

Several blood pressure medications were recalled in 2018, including products from Teva Pharmaceuticals. The company voluntarily pulled the amlodipine/valsartan and amlodipine/valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide combination tablets from shelves in November.

According to the press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced, the drugs contain N-nitroso-diethylamine (NDEA), which has been classified as a human carcinogen.

Blood pressure medicine losartan recalled due to cancer concerns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced another blood pressure medication recall over cancer concerns in November.

Pharmaceutical company Sandoz Inc. voluntarily recalled losartan potassium hydrochlorothiazide, because the pills may also contain the NDEA impurity.

» RELATED: See more AJC health coverage here

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