Do You Want To Live Forever?

As regular readers will know I have an interest in science and in science fiction.  I’ve blogged before about “what if” scientists are able to map the chemical reactions and structures in the brain which contain our memories and are able to duplicate those structures in a synthetic construct.

Yesterday I read an article which really made me pause and say “wow”.  Apparently scientists from Osaka University in Japan have discovered a protein which if “turned off” stops cells aging!  The article states:

“Having established the protein’s true role, however, the scientists claim they have also learnt to control it, almost completely blocking cells’ ageing process. The discovery, they claim, could easily become a key to everlasting life.”

Currently they cannot just “turn off” the protein as it would render a human without any immunity (at least it would help those of us suffering psoriasis / psoriatic arthritis!), however as the article states they have really only just begun working on this so in time a solution will be found.

What happens if they are able to come up with a “vaccination” which indeed stops our cells aging?  Would you take it?  Can you imagine never again having to worry about dying through getting old?  This is something which now looks very possible (if the press release is accurate) and debate is sure to happen regarding what we do with a population where people don’t die anymore, and what we do about keeping people physically safe (as death could still happen through physical injury).  Related to this I really believe that as science progresses we will gradually come up with cures for all the physical ailments in the world.  What will we do with a 100% healthy non-aging population?

We are living in arguably the most exciting period ever of human history.

Posted in Science Fiction | Tagged | Leave a comment

Antibiotics Cause IBD – Damn!

I had an interesting tweet today from Dr. Nathan Wei referring me to a video on youtube.  You can see it here.  He explains that a recent study has shown that people who frequently take antibiotics are more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease, of which one type is Crohns.

Damn!  I blogged only 2 weeks ago about the link between Crohns and psoriasis, with them both being caused by a similar immune response and both also having successful treatment via TNF inhibitors.  I’ve wondered about the risk to PsA warriors of developing Crohns due to this link.  Now it seems that frequent antibiotic use compounds that risk!

Naturally those of us on TNF inhibitors have a compromised immune system already.  Therefore at the slightest hint of getting sick our doctors typically take the conservative approach and give us antibiotics.  I’ve had lots of courses of antibiotics over the last decade.  Now, according to the study:

Once the researchers took other factors into account, they found that people prescribed lots of antibiotics were as much as 50 percent more likely to get Crohn’s disease within two to five years.

Argh!  Wish someone had told me earlier.  My bowels are already pretty unstable, and now I’m afraid that I could have really developed IBD.

For those of you without psoriasis or PsA, note that there is a high risk for anyone to develop IBD through taking frequent antibiotics.  So if you are sick and your doctor prescribes antibiotics – make sure that they really believe you have a bacterial infection.  Here in Asia doctors are notorious for giving out antibiotics to anyone who is feeling unwell, in order to give the patients “something tangible” (i.e. pills) in exchange for the doctor’s fee.  Here, unless patients head home with a bag of multi-colored pills they will often more than not believe that the doctor cheated them.

Posted in Diarrhea, Psoriasis, Psoriasis Treatment, Psoriatic Arthritis, Remicade, TNF Blocker | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Psoriasis / PsA and your Heart

Last year I blogged about a study showing psoriatic arthritis patients have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, which includes a higher risk of heart disease.  At that time I encouraged psoriasis warriors to monitor their waist size as well as their blood pressure.  Well a new study out last week shows that some people with psoriasis may be protected from metabolic syndrome if they are fortunate enough to have a specific gene:

Psoriasis patients who possess the HLA-Cw6 allele appear to be protected against the increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic comorbidities associated with the disease

It is a bit ironic I feel.  On the one hand we psoriasis warriors have to suffer because we have a dysfunctional gene which is causing our immune system to cause psoriasis / psoriatic arthritis, yet on the other hand some of us may be lucky enough to have a gene which protects us from metabolic syndrome / cardiac issues associated with the very same disease.

Talking about cardiac issues, in the last couple of weeks there has been maybe two instances where I haven’t been able to get to sleep because my heart is racing.  Both times there was no way I could sleep so I just read a book for about 30 minutes until it got back to normal.  I thought it may have been a heart issue but reading the literature it appears that it may be caused by anxiety.  I wasn’t worried about anything at the time – well anything that I consciously knew about – so maybe subconsciously there was something I was mulling over.

It certainly isn’t pleasant so I hope it doesn’t return.

Moving on to things to worry about, I’m not afraid of injections and needles but I know many people who are.  If you are afraid of needles then the good news is that it looks like science is close to developing a needle-less injection system.  It really does look a lot like the injection system they use on Star Trek – you can see a video of it here.

Posted in Heart Attack, Psoriasis, Psoriasis Treatment, Psoriatic Arthritis, Science Fiction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Link Between Psoriasis and Inflamed Bowel

I have always presumed that there has been a clear link made between psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease.  I have blogged about this link before and talked about how I often get bad diarrhea typical of an inflamed bowel a couple of weeks out from my remicade dose.  Also remicade (a TNF inhibitor) is used to treat both psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and Crohn’s disease which to me logically implies that the immune response creating the excess TNF links these diseases together.

Well I was surprised to read last week of a study that reported “Studies Support IBD, Psoriasis Connection”.  It stated:

Overlap among psoriasis, IBD, and inflammatory or psoriatic arthritis further adds to the concept that a common pathway is involved in all of the diseases, said Qureshi, senior investigator in both of the studies.

And here I thought that the link was well established!  The report goes into a lot of detail regarding the different genes and chromosomes involved – so if you enjoy that kind of detail I encourage you to read the study.

Interestingly if you have psoriasis or PsA then you are more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease:

Study participants who had concomitant psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis had almost a seven-fold greater likelihood of developing Crohn’s disease during follow-up, Li reported.

And if you have inflammatory bowel disease then you are more likely to develop or have psoriasis:

The prevalence of psoriasis in the IBD patients was four to six times higher than the estimated prevalence for the general population

Posted in Diarrhea, Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Remicade, Testosterone Replacement Therapy TRT, TNF Blocker | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Coffee for Long Life

I’ve blogged before about the relationship between coffee and psoriasis, i.e. that a study has not shown any evidence that coffee makes psoriasis worse (or better).  However there are many studies showing the benefits of coffee.  Now it seems that we can add one more, it may be that coffee drinkers live longer than non-coffee drinkers.

Although the study did emphasize:

“this doesn’t prove that coffee makes people live longer, only that the two seem related”

As good as this news is, I noted that the article states early on that coffee may raise blood pressure and LDL (the bad cholesterol).  This spiked my interest as I just had my blood test results come back from my remicade infusion on Wednesday, and although my blood pressure was fine during my infusion my blood tests showed that my LDL is raised.  My doctor told me to decrease my intake of animal proteins and eat low fat diary products.  My diet is pretty good however I have been eating a lot of fried chicken as I find it helps settle my bowels.  My doc wants me to take some medication but I think I’ll try cutting out the fried chicken first to see if it makes a difference.

Posted in Psoriatic Arthritis | Tagged | Leave a comment

Kettlebells & Jujitsu

I realized I haven’t given an update for some time on my exercise routine, so here it is.

I found that my enthusiasm for going to the gym in the last few months has really dropped off and so I started looking at what other exercises I was interested in trying.  I had heard a lot recently about kettlebells and as it wasn’t something I had ever done before I decided to give it a try.  Another benefit to using kettlebells is that I can do it at home.  As you may recall the gym I belong to was getting really crowded during the my usual workout times and I’m sure that not being able to use my regular machines had a big part in my interest falling off.  Another benefit was that since I’m training at home, I could rope in the wife and kids to exercise along with me too.

With this in mind I ordered four kettlebells.  The first question I had was what size kettlebell should I start with?  I read on bodybuilding.com that:

“A male starting to work out should begin with a 16 kg/35-lb kettlebell, while a fit man can begin with a 24 kg/53-lb kettlebell.”

Meanwhile this site and this site stated that men should start with a 35lb kettlebell.

Well, I do go to the gym pretty regularly so considering myself fit I ordered the 24 kg kettlebell.  Now with the benefit of hindsight I should probably have gone with the 35lb!

I bought a kettlebell workout DVD recommended by Joe Rogan (which name I can’t remember as I type this), and with the whole family ready I plugged it in and started it up.  I managed ok with the 24kg kettlebell with all the arm exercises close to the body, and the leg exercises where also the kettlebell is held close to the body.  However problems came with exercises requiring holding the kettlebell away from the body.  For example there is an exercise called the windmill, where one holds the kettlebell with a locked out arm above the head and then bend down and touch the floor with the other hand (thus looking like a windmill), and I just couldn’t manage that with 24kg.  It was just too heavy.

I was a little worried when I started kettlebells about losing some muscle size as kettlebells aren’t really acknowledged as the best type of exercise to put on muscle mass.  This indeed is probably the case for the serious bodybuilder who is training to put on muscle mass for a competition in the future, however for a simple Joe Blog such as myself who wishes to just keep in good shape, I’ve found it to be excellent.  So far I haven’t noticeably lost any size, although if I had to be a severe critic then my shoulders and arms may be a little down.

The kettlebells are excellent for the “core”, which really is just a trendy term for the abdominals and muscles in the lower back.  Doing something like the windmill really forces you to contract your stomach and lower back to keep it firmly in place during the exercise.

The other thing I like about working out with kettlebells is that the workouts are a little shorter than going to the gym. They are more intense, which cuts down on the workout time.  So overall I’m really enjoying the change – which is exactly what I wanted, i.e. getting my motivation to exercise back up.  Yet another added benefit is now that I’m training at home I have a team to keep me on track.  Yesterday I was feeling dog tired after work and would have skipped the workout however once I got home my kids had already set up and were waiting to exercise.  I had no choice but to workout, and once I got going it really wasn’t so bad!

I have also started doing some Jujitsu on Saturdays.  I had heard Joe Rogan rave about how fun jujitsu is and so I decided to try it out, again roping my boys into doing it with me.  Well we had our first lesson on Saturday and I can confirm it is a whole lot of fun!  We can’t wait to have our next lesson next Saturday.  What a wonderful way to exercise – i.e. it doesn’t seem like exercise at all.  One has to really use one’s brain as well as muscles to work out the best place to position hands and body; get the best leverage etc.  It is an amazing combination of mind and muscle working together.  If you haven’t tried jujitsu and are looking for something to help you regularly exercise, I highly recommend trying jujitsu.

Posted in bodybuilding, natural bodybuilding, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Snugfleece – Mmmmmmmm

I’ve blogged many times about the difficulty I have sleeping due to pain in my back and ribs from PsA, and how the pain gets worse the closer I get to the time for my Remicade infusion.

I find my bed to be pretty hard – which seems to accentuate the pain – and therefore usually put down 3 pillows to lie on to try and soften it up.  I also take celebrex and tramadol before I sleep.  Invariably I wake up though at around 2am and have to take another dose of tramadol.

Well in 2010 I stayed at the Trump Soho hotel in New York and absolutely loved the beds there.  I had a wonderful sleep and have kicked myself for not looking into what type of mattress they had.  I was looking on Amazon the other day and stumbled on an advertisement for the Snugfleece.  Is this what they had at the Trump Soho?  I took the plunge and ordered from Amazon the 1 3/4 inch pile height wool mattress cover.  Since I live in Thailand they can’t deliver here, so I have to deliver first to a US address I have set up.  I use myus.com and have found them to be really good.  Once it arrives at my US address they then forward it to me in Thailand.

They used DHL and I found out that unfortunately DHL don’t have a very good relationship with Thai customs.  You see, Thai customs is famous for being the most corrupt government department in Thailand.  This is a well known fact in Thailand.  So when the package from DHL got to customs, they slapped on a duty that came to the same amount as the purchase price!  Basically I ended up paying double.  Ugh.  My wife called and spoke to someone there and they nicely told her off the record that she should try and avoid using DHL if possible.  However I think the issue is not DHL, but rather express delivery, with custom’s logic being if someone is paying for super quick delivery then they’ll pay more for duty. Interestingly, the following day I had another package arrive from the US which came via DHL but was “super saver” so took about 20 days to arrive.  I didn’t have to pay any duty on that and yet the purchase price was more than the snugfleece!

I promptly set up the snugfleece on my bed and have had 2 sleeps on it since.  First reports are that it is indeed very good.  I have had two nights of great sleep so far and my fingers are crossed that it continues.  I am surprised that I am sleeping so well less than a week out from my remicade.  The snugfleece sure is making a difference at this point.

Posted in Psoriatic Arthritis, Remicade, Sleeping with arthritis | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why the US Healthcare System Absolutely Sucks

Imagine a struggling family with a sick child.  Now imagine a very wealthy corporation that has hired a muscle bound brute to stand at the door of the local clinic and prevent the parents from taking their sick child inside to get medical treatment.  The child gradually gets worse, and sadly passes away.  The grieving parents are distraught.  What to make of that wealthy corporation which denied treatment?

This isn’t a movie, or an experience from a 3rd world developing country.  This is today’s experience in the USA.  Now, if you are a US citizen and your reaction to this is denial, then guess what, you’ve been bought by the lies from that wealthy corporation.

The crazy thing is, the fact that the US healthcare system is unfair, expensive and corrupt (as it is manipulated via the huge profits to the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries) is well researched, documented and published. About a decade ago I did a research paper for an MBA, comparing the US healthcare system with other healthcare systems, and I was amazed then at the amount of data on just how bad the US healthcare system is.  Nothing has changed.  I then read an article a couple of days ago about yet another study:

“A study of 13 industrialized countries released Thursday showed Japan spends the least on health care, while the United States spends the most without providing superior care for the money.”

To someone with a scientific, logical mind, the facts are startling.

“When added to the population of uninsured (approximately 16% of the U.S. population), a total of 40% of Americans ages 18–64 have inadequate access to health care, according to the Consumer Reports study”

Now all the other first world countries have a version of a universal healthcare system, which basically guarantees healthcare for everyone.  For a good summary of the issues between the US system and a universal system, read this blog. It is buried down in the article, however the author pinpoints the crux of the issue, succinctly stating:

American democracy runs on money. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies have the fuel.

To put it bluntly, pharmaceutical and insurance companies pay huge dollars to influence the government to maintain the present system.  They are the “wealthy corporation” blocking the door for the ‘40% of Americans aged 18-64’ who cannot get adequate access to healthcare.

Still in denial?  How about another quote from the study:

“Common prescription drugs cost one third more in the United States compared to Canada and Germany, and were more than double that paid for the same drugs in Australia, Britain, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand.”

That’s right US Citizens, in the ‘world pharmacy’ every time you walk in that door the owner rubs his hands in glee and brazenly charges you double what the Aussie, Brit, or Kiwi just paid.  And you bend over and take it saying “thank you sir, may I have another?”

So why are these pharmaceutical and insurance companies able to effectively get away with murder in the US?  They have beaten David Copperfield at his own game, and managed to deceive a huge portion of the public through deceit.  Firstly, they lobby government for favorable laws and regulations, through the billions of dollars at their disposal.  Secondly they do a wonderful job of using the best public relations company money can buy to deceive the public.  What are the weapons of propaganda they use?

They know that Americans are fiercely proud of their victory of democracy over communism, so they link universal healthcare to communism. “Universal healthcare is socialist” they cry.  “We aren’t communists!” they cry.  Then they laugh as the US public fall in line and continue to pay double prices.

They use their public relations company to find and promote “outliers”.  What are outliers?  These are isolated incidents that happen outside of normal practice.  Typically they will find a Canadian (or anyone from a universal healthcare system) who died while waiting for a surgery and bleat “see, their healthcare system isn’t better – you will die while waiting for treatment”.  Naturally they don’t address the millions who get much better treatment in comparison to those in the US, or the millions in the US who die or are bankrupted through not being able to afford treatment.  They pay big money to the public relations company to make sure you don’t get those facts.

And the third reason is they appeal to every human’s fear of failure.  They turn the healthcare system into some kind of competition, implying that if Americans change the system then they are somehow “losing” and have personally “failed”.  And no one wants to be a failure!  The best example of this is how they portray the comparison with the Canadian system.  Many studies of the US system look at it compared to their neighbors.  This is because both healthcare systems were similar in the 1960s and then took different paths.  Actually the Canadian system is just one example of a universal healthcare system, and any type of universal healthcare system is going to be better than what the US currently has.  However the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies know that they are going to lose huge profits if the system changes, therefore they imply rather strongly that somehow if the US discards the current system in favor of a better universal healthcare system, then somehow they have “lost” some kind of competition to Canada.  Smart eh!  Those public relation companies really know how to manipulate the emotions. No countryman in the world wants to lose to their neighbor, and by turning the decision on a healthcare system into some kind of national competition the pharmaceutical and insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

How does all this relate to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis?  Well, in the UK, Australia, NZ, Canada and every country with some type of universal healthcare system, if one is diagnosed with PsA then one will be reviewed by a rheumatologist, and if appropriate will be put on some kind of biologic treatment.  Taxes will provide for the treatment, so it isn’t dependent on whether you have money or not.  It is fair.  It is universal treatment, i.e. the same conditions are applied to everyone.  In the US, if you are one of the millions without insurance or with inadequate insurance, then you will have to either suffer while the muscle bound brute laughs, or use your life savings / mortgage your house to pay for your treatment.

The bottom line – everyone in the US would not only get better access to treatment but also it would cost the government much much less if some kind of universal treatment was adopted.

Stop the bully.  Stop the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies from murdering people.

Posted in Psoriatic Arthritis | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Religion Holding Back Humanity

I usually don’t delve into such a controversial subject on this blog, however my psoriasis is pretty good for this stage before my next remicade infusion, and my arthritis is not painful either, so I’ve gotta talk about somethin’!  As regular readers will know, I love science fiction and research into anti-aging etc.  I certainly have an eye on the future and since I have a couple of young kids I often wonder what kind of world they will find themselves in, in 20 years time.  One aspect that does make me worry is how evil religion is.  Now, if you believe in a particular religion and are not confident in yourself and thus are feeling some revulsion at that last sentence, you probably should not read on.

When I was a teenager I joined the church and became a Christian.  This was a fundamentalist church so I got to experience lots of things such as noisy singing sessions, hell fire & brimstone preaching, casting out ‘the devil’, speaking in tongues, healing the sick etc. etc.  I was also part of a youth organization that arranged interdenominational (that means Christians from different churches, e.g. Baptist, Anglican, Brethren) concerts and so I got a good look at how more traditional Churches held meetings too.  I stayed a Christian for about 5 years, and did a lot of study over those years in order to answer the questions that came up as well as become proficient at ‘defending the faith’.  As a teenager of course I had many of my classmates questioning every aspect of Christianity, so I needed to be able to defend it in order to avoid embarrassment (which as most people know is probably at its worst in teenage years).

I became very proficient at arguing Christianity’s case.  However the problem was that as I gained more knowledge, although I was able to easily fend off questions from ‘non-believers’ as they hadn’t done the level of study I had, I found that I was developing more and more questions to the ‘evidence’ I had, and no suitable answers were forthcoming.

I consider myself a fairly logical person, and most people who know me would probably nod their heads and say ‘yup’.  I am also fairly confident in myself, so am not afraid to ask searching questions about why I believe a particular thing or act in a particular way. When I brought my questions to senior people in the Church whom I respected, I found that they had no answers. Actually, most of the time they would just reply with canned responses which were drilled into all of us at meetings, e.g. “you must trust god”, “he loved you so much that he died for your sins”, or the classic “he is testing your faith”. Later I came to realize that this kind of control is not confined to Christianity.  Practically all the major religions will make you the ‘bad guy’ if you ask a question which gets close to exposing the truth. “You don’t have enough faith”, or “god will give you more wisdom in time”.

After many years I came to the point where I had to make a choice.  Throw away my brain and reasoning, accepting that Christianity is not logical, or accept that Christianity is a man-made fairy tale.  Fortunately I held onto my brain, as in the following years I discovered so much evidence that Christianity (and many major religions) follow a familiar pattern.  That is, they are extremely old, were originally founded by someone with good principles at heart, and were consequently ‘commercialized’ by a corrupt group of ‘leaders’ who realized that they had a great tool to control people and make a huge amount of money.  These people ‘crafted’ the religious story to make it much more palatable to ordinary people, and thus cement their grip on power and money.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are great things within religion.  Foremost is probably their ability to create a caring community.  Loneliness, lack of friends, lack of companionship, and a lack of a sense of belonging are incredibly strong emotions which can in turn make a person incredibly unhappy. Loneliness is so prevalent in today’s society – especially in the West where independence pushes young adults out of the family home early.  There are many people within the church primarily because they have found a surrogate family.

Although the church provides this “sense of community” or “family” benefit, from my point of view it comes at an unacceptable price. That price is prejudice and intolerance.  Add to that a generous dose of guilt and low self esteem.  See how well a gay is accepted as normal as a person’s skin color is accepted, in a church.  Or how about being told that you are unacceptable as a person and you will never ever meet the grade, without accepting the blood of this person who lived 2000 years ago (and by the way, never claimed that they were god).  Absolutely bizarre.

After I left the church I found that I also had to make a new set of friends. You see unfortunately my “Christian friends” could not accept me as I was.  They would fall back into old “taped” routines and think I had “slid back” rather than actually moved forward – which is what had happened.  Instead of trying to understand with an open mind I guess they felt threatened and tried to bring me back to their level.  Ridiculous phrases such as “you’re going to burn in hell” comes to mind.  People for centuries sincerely believed that the earth was flat, and also that the Earth was the center of the universe.  In time people will come to accept the truth, however I do wonder at how much this crazy belief system is holding back humanity’s progress.  Ugh, don’t get started on how much war and violence is instigated due to religious prejudice and intolerance.

I recently read a book (The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions by William Hopper) that really does a great job at exploring the facts behind the major religions, looking at the evidence that exists on how they originated and how they have evolved over time.  With my fondness for logic and scientific evidence, I found the book covered the facts well in a light-hearted manner.  Very easy reading.  Having spent time previously in a Christian church I was particularly interested in the section on Christianity, and the explanation of the history of the bible was something new for me.  The majority of Christians have no idea where the bible came from.  “From God” they will say.  But how did it actually get put together?  Who wrote the parts and put them together?  I was amazed to read that the bible as we know it today wasn’t actually put together until over 300 years after the death of Christ.  There existed a whole lot of religious writings and a group of a couple of hundred religious leaders got together to debate and vote on which should be included in the bible.  There was a lot of arguing and certainly no unified agreement on what should be in and what should be out.  So much for divine direction!

The purpose of this blog isn’t to debate whether a religion is correct or not.  If someone wants some “truth” (which I define as scientific facts) then I encourage you to read William’s book about religions.  If there are any Christians still reading at this point they may be playing an old tape in their head such as “Christianity is not a religion, it is a way of life”.  Ha.

One of the guys I follow on twitter is friendly atheist Hemant Mehta. He also writes a really entertaining blog and I’d like to link to a couple of brilliant articles he has written recently.  Hemant lives in the US where there is a huge religious base of people blindly following Christianity as this is what they were brought up with.  Even though I’m living in a culture with a huge religious base (in my case it is Buddhism) I don’t envy Hemant as in my experience Buddhists are far more tolerant than Christians.  The first article is where he so nicely replies to an email sent to him by a 14 year old girl regarding religion, and gets a response from her mother.  You can read that here.

The next article is about pastors from Christian churches ‘coming out’ and admitting that god doesn’t exist.  As one can imagine this would be an incredibly difficult thing to make public.  It is a really interesting read – and you can find that here.

I dream of the day when we will look back on religion in the same light as how we now look on the generations who believed that the world was flat.  A day when we will have wonderful caring communities, based on our common aspects, i.e. our humanity, our joy of spending time together with friends and family, health, excitement and enjoyment of new discoveries.

Posted in Psoriatic Arthritis | Leave a comment

What Happens If I Stop Remicade?

In the lead up to each remicade infusion I look closely for any arthritis symptoms.  Sure I am aware that my psoriasis gets worse before my infusion is due, however I’m unsure whether there is any hint of arthritis peaking through.  I know my lower back pain and ribs get very sore before I have my remicade and have blogged about this – however I don’t see any signs of sausage fingers which I used to get quite severely in my right hand before I started on biologics.

The reason I look for arthritis symptoms is because in the back of my mind I have a little “what if” itch.  The itch is “what if I ever have to change my job?”  Why is changing my job important?  Because my current employer covers the cost of my remicade and there is no guarantee that any future employer would be so accommodating.  To any non-biologic-taking people out there, you may be wondering why this could be a big deal.  Well, the cost of my remicade infusion is currently around 150K baht for each dose.  That is around USD$4,900.  So my annual cost of remicade comes in at close to USD$20K.  Basically I could not afford to cover that cost myself.

So I look for arthritis symptoms wondering if the remicade has pushed it into remission, and that the arthritis may not return if remicade was stopped.  “Does this happen”?  I hear you ask.  Well, maybe only the people with PsA and on biologics are asking!  Well, I’m not sure.  However recently a scientific paper was released regarding patients with inflammatory bowel disease taking remicade:

A recent study was published showing that patients that were in remission as a result of infliximab and immunosuppressive therapy (no steroids) had a 50 percent chance of relapsing within a year after ending the treatment.

That is, patients with IBD (which like PsA is a result of an overactive immune system) who are taking remicade, can go into remission.  Further, it seems that 50% maintain that remission for more than a year.  Would the same hold true for PsA?  I’d like to see some studies.

Am I likely to stop taking remicade to see if I’m in remission?  No way!  Apparently if one is on a biologic and stop taking if for a period, and then start up again there is no guarantee that it will work anymore.  Apparently 30% of people with IBD who stop remicade will fail to have any response if they start again.  However it depends on how well the remicade worked for you in the first place.  The better the response you had then the more likely it will work again after taking a break.

I got all this wonderful information from Dr. Karen’s colitis blog here.  Well worth the read.

Posted in Psoriasis, Psoriasis Treatment, Psoriatic Arthritis, Remicade, Remicade Administration, TNF Blocker | Tagged | Leave a comment