Sunday, November 30, 2008

FDA Works For ?

You've probably heard that those wonderful folks who brought you Thalidomide, Vioxx and other wonderful drugs, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), have now decided that a little melamine is safe for babies. The deaths of children in China apparently has taught them nothing about the situation.

"This FDA, this Bush administration, instead of protecting the public health, is protecting industry," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FDA budget. In an interview, DeLauro said she wants the agency to disclose its findings and to develop a plan to remove melamine from formula. "We're talking about babies, about the most vulnerable. This really makes me angry."

'Nuff said.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Heart Attacks Are Different In Women

Heart disease kills more people of both sexes than all cancers combined. More women than men have died from heart disease in the U.S. every year since 1984, and they are twice as likely as men to die after a heart attack yet modern medicine is still trying to figure out the difference between men and women.

According to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) women are far more likely than men to be hospitalized for chest pain for which doctors can't find a cause. In 2006 there were 477,000 women discharged from U.S. hospitals with a diagnosis of nonspecific chest pain, compared with 379,000 men. This is important because that diagnosis is often given to patients who are admitted for a possible heart attack that turns out not to be one.

The problem is that heart attacks often look different in women than men. While both frequently report chest pain, pressure or tightness, women more often have subtle signs. These may include dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, aches in the back, shoulders or abdomen, sudden weakness or fatigue or an overwhelming feeling of doom. A 2003 study found that 95% of women who had heart attacks started feeling some of those symptoms a month or more before.

Be smart, be safe, and if you feel any of these symptoms then err on the side of caution and take action NOW. Remember the old saying: Better Safe Than Sorry.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Broken Medical Model

Interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal called Submitting To The Science Of Prevention. It's about a paradigm shift in mainstream medicine that's long overdue. It seems they're beginning to realize their focus on treating disease and illness is not the most effective system after all. Now they are slowly beginning to endorse the concept of prevention and maintenance of good health as the priority.

Of course all of this comes with the heavy financial baggage necessary to keep modern medicine happy, this time in the form of preventative tests. After all, no matter how valid the model we can't have Medicine losing any money now, can we?

Did you know years ago in China you used to pay your doctor every month to keep you healthy and stopped paying him when you got sick? Compare that to our system in American where we pay our doctor when we get sick and stop paying him when we're healthy. Which system do you think is most effective at keeping you healthy?

But at least it's a start and a recognition that complementary and alternative medicine has had this right from the beginning. It's one of the ways that it's lasted for hundreds and thousands of years.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Common Traits of Healers

There was a recent article in Annals of Internal Medicine based on interviews with 50 practitioners from allopathic and complementary & alternative medicine which found their common skills as "healers" to be: Do the little things; Take time; Be open and listen; Find something to like, to love; Remove barriers; Let the patient explain; Share authority and
Be committed.

Now you know what to look for in your health practitioners.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Billions For Health Care

The landmark 1998 tobacco settlement was supposed to bring in billions of dollars for health care for Americans. Of the $61.5 billion that's been divided among 46 states between 2000 and 2006 only 30% has gone for health care according to the GAO. The Associated Press estimates that less than 4% has gone towards anti-smoking efforts.

States would rather use the money to fatten their general budgets. New York used some of its money for new carts and sprinklers for the Niagara County golf course. Alaska used some of its money to complete a museum featuring mummified bison. In Nebraska part of the money went for a dog catcher in Lincoln.

In 2005 the tobacco industry spent $13.1 BILLION on advertising and marketing. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates that states spent $718 Million on prevention.

States won the court case claiming the need to pay for medical expenses for those injured by tobacco products and to prevent tobacco illnesses in the future. Clearly once they got the money they had higher priorities.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Duct Tape of Health Care

Added a new article to my website today ( called the Duct Tape of Health Care. I compare duct tape to prescription drugs because both only treat symptoms and don't repair the source of the problem.

Once in awhile it's fun to get on the soap box!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cancer and Mind-Body Medicine

A study in the journal Cancer says that reducing stress in breast cancer patients can reduce their risk of dying from the disease by 50%. The study also found that psychological interventions reduced the risk that tumors would come back by 45%.

The researchers focused on stress reduction as a primary reason why patients appeared to benefit from group counseling sessions.

As usual modern medicine is looking for a direct cause-and-effect relationship involving some chemical rather than recognizing the power of energy (thought, feelings) and its impact on epigenetics.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Investing in Health

Finding money well-spent in health care today is a challenge but it turns out that community-based physical activity interventions designed to promote more active lifestyles among adults are cost-effective. From advertising campaigns to adding more bike and hike trails these efforts can reduce heart disease, stroke, colorectal and breast cancers, and type 2 diabetes according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study recommends 2 1/2 hours each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity,such as brisk walking or at least 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of vigorous-intensity aerobicactivity such as jogging or running.In addition, all adults should include muscle strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups on two or more days per week.

Staying healthy is the best health care for everyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Big, Fat News for Health

New study in the New England Journal of Medicine makes it clear belly fat is really a big, red flag for health problems. A European study followed 360,000 men and women for almost 10 years and their conclusion is that belly fat indicates a higher risk of death than simply being overweight. Men with waists measuring over 40 inches are considered at higher risk while the number is only 35 inches for women.

How important is belly fat? Men with a waistline of 40 inches were twice as likely to die as those with waists of 34 inches or less. The belly is a more reliable indicator of health risk than the BMI (body mass index). The risk is even higher for women.

Like it or not we need to eat less, eat better and exercise in America if we expect to have the quality of life, and duration, that we deserve.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fun Witih Mainstream Medicine

The 30-year-old system of medical coding is heading for an update. The new system, known as ICD-10, would dramatically increase the number of codes used to define various ailments and procedures. The number of codes would be increased ten-fold to 155,000. For example angioplasty today has just one code but the new system will have 1,170 coded descriptions that pinpoint such factors as the location and the device involved for each patient for doctors to choose from each time. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of insurers predicts billing errors are likely to rise between 10% and 25% in the first year which means patients are going to be billed incorrectly much more often.

All of this is necessary, if painful, progress to facilitate the switch to electronic records and universal information in health care. We'll all have to wait and see if it's really worth the time, expense and hassle.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Crestor Study

I'm sure your newspaper has a BIG story about the Jupiter study showing that Crestor can reduce heart attacks and strokes for "normally healthy" people. There are a few points that are probably not included in the article though, like the fact that Dr. Ridker (he presented the study) and Harvard share a patent on the lab test needed to see if the medication is warranted.

We've become so upside-down on medications we don't realize the stupidity of 81 people taking a drug they don't need in order for one person to benefit. Side effects? (Like anger, memory loss and other symptoms reported by Crestor users.) Long term hazards? Doesn't anyone realize how crazy this is?

The drug was not used against the Ornish Program or other lifestyle changing therapy which would reduce weight and generally improve health. In other words it's a drug for the lazy American who is happy to pop a pill but is too busy to take care of his own health.

Once again the media is going to work hand-in-hand with their friends at the drug companies to sell another dangerous drug to more Americans.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

WHO Promotes CAM

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued its "Beijing Declaration" at the end of its congress on traditional medicine on Saturday recognizing traditional medicine as "one of the resources of primary health care services to increase availability and affordability." WHO added that "people have the right and duty to participate individually and collectively in the planning and implementation of their health care, which may include access to traditional medicine." Traditional medicine is another description of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

"The knowledge of traditional medicine, treatments and practices should be respected, preserved, promoted and communicated widely and appropriately based on the circumstances in each country," said the declaration.
This medical resource which goes back to our earliest civilizations should be respected and cherished, not run over in our haste to employ the latest medical fad.