Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Echinacea Study

Once again the news media has been filled with reports of yet another complementary therapy failing to meet scientific standards. This time it was the popular herbal remedy echinacea. However as usual it helps to get the whole story, especially in an age when 80% of the most common type of medical research is later refuted. (See earlier blog.)

If you make it to the last few paragraphs of the story you discover the study was limited to one county in Wisconsin. It relied on the cold sufferers to report on their own condition instead of a standardized measurement. Since there was a much wider range of cold severity and duration than expected the trial may have been insufficient to account for the full range of information.

In the words of the researchers: "The [confidence intervals] of between-group differences allow for the possibility of a 24-hour reduction in duration and a 20% reduction in overall severity attributable to echinacea, both of which might be accepted as clinically significant by many persons with the common cold," they stated.

So who says there isn't any benefit?

Friday, December 17, 2010

FDA Revokes Avastin

Once again a drug approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has later been proven to not be worth the risk. This time the FDA even pulled its approval of Avastin for treating breast cancer. Later studies showed the drug to be unsafe. There were "significant" increases in serious side effects with the drugs use including blood clots, bleeding and even heart failure.

Avastin is the world's best-selling cancer drug with global sales of $5.8 billion making it the top product for Roche. The drug is used to treat more than 17,000 breast cancer patients every year. It can still be used to treat tumors in the colon, lung, kidney and brain. Doctors could even continue to use it for breast cancer by using it "off-label" even though the FDA recommends against it. Avastin is also one of the most expensive cancer drugs in the world. It costs a patient (or their insurance company) about $8,000 PER MONTH for treatment.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Life Expectancy Dips

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows the life expectancy for Americans slipped last year. A baby born in 2008 can expect to live 77.8 years, down from 77.9 years. Similar dips have happened in 2005 and in 1993 so it will take a few more years of data to see if this is a trend.

No reason was given for the decline in life expectancy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Health Care Cost Fight Continues

The battle to control rising health care costs continues. One of the current battles is being waged in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is locked in negotiations with one of the largest hospital networks, Texas Health Resources, over cost increases.

The average family health insurance policy in Texas cost $13,225 in 2009, a figure that is equal to 22% of median household income in the state. To put it in perspective, it's an increase of 38% since 2003. Deductibles in Texas went up by more than 80%. (By comparison health care now consumes nearly 17% of America's GDP.)

Who's going to blink first? The insurance company doesn't want to lose customers because they can't use their favorite hospital in-network but health care costs have to be controlled. The 24-hospital network doesn't want to lose customers because they're now out-of-network either. This area, and America, simply cannot afford to watch health care costs continue to escalate.

There are no easy answers to this problem as we saw last year in the health care reform debate. With Republicans coming into power in a few weeks the debate will begin again. The voters and tax payers of America simply cannot afford to sit by and let special interests, lobbyists and others in Washington decide our fate.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Health Care Reform Benefit

One of the overlooked features of the current health care reform effort is the initiative to boost the quality of care, hopefully while reducing the cost. The 10-year, $10 billion program hasn't attracted a lot of attention, perhaps because of its growing support across a wide spectrum. This seems to be something almost everyone can agree on.

Improving the quality of health care is important not only because it will save thousands of lives each year but also because poor quality care costs more. Dr. Donald Berwick, head of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, was quoted recently as saying that 1 of every 7 Medicare patients who is hospitalized suffers harm from a medical error. That's TERRIBLE!

A new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation plans to work with physicians in 8 states to better coordinate care. (Too bad Texas isn't one of them.) At least it's a start.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Philippine Traditional and Alternative Health Care Month

Did you know that by Presidential Proclamation #698 in 1997 the Philippines celebrate the month of November as Traditional and Alternative Health Care Month? They've already figured out prevention is more affordable than treatment so primary health care is a priority. They've also discovered that healthy lifestyles promoted in many types of complementary and alternative medicine prevent many health problems. It (CAM) can also offer effective and affordable treatments for a variety of health problems.

It reminds me of the vote in Switzerland this year that placed many forms of CAM into the nation's constitution to protect every citizen's right to them. For those of you thinking that only the primitive or unintelligent would be involved with complementary and alternative medicine I hope you don't consider the Swiss to have either of those qualities!

The rest of the world never forgot their native health systems but simply added Western medicine to their list of options. Only America has tried to make CAM illegal in order to support the profits of drug manufacturers and the medical industry. Today the tide is turning as more and more Americans turn to more natural forms of healing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Newest CAM is Most Researched

One of the newest forms of complementary and alternative therapies is also one of the most researched. IBMT or Integrative Body-Mind Training was developed from Traditional Chinese Medicine by Dr. Yu-Yuan Tang in 1990 in China. Since then he's published more than 170 nationally and internationally peer-reviewed articles about this amazing innovation. Currently he's a visiting professor at the University of Oregon.

IBMT is the latest podcast to be added to the growing library of programs about complementary and alternative therapies at UnBreak Your Health. The interview with Dr. Tang was very informative about this amazing and very fast form of meditation or mindfulness. "The path is the goal" with IBMT.

This is also an exception in the second edition of How To UnBreak Your Health because the therapy isn't even available in the United States yet. Because of the source of IBMT and its fast-growing scientific reputation I felt it needed to be included in the book. IBMT may be very popular before the next edition comes out.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Airport Scanner Danger

One way to avoid health problems is to stay away from unhealthy environments. Now we can add staying away from airports to the list with their new full-body scanners. In case you think I'm over reacting to the new scanners there is a growing list of scientists speaking up on the issue. Last spring several scientists at the University of California at San Francisco were so worried they sent a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology. A European press story recently quoted Dr. Michael Love at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine saying "They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays."

It reminds me of all the women who were treated for breast cancer decades ago with high doses of radiation which was thought to be safe at the time. They later developed other types of cancer including bone cancer. I know this because I had a sister-in-law later die from her treatment.

While I'm the first one to want safety in our planes this is not the way to do it. The price for being politically correct and scanning everyone is going to be too high down the road.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Please "Like" The Second Edition

Sometimes I'm a little slow picking up on some of the new trends in technology. I just discovered how you can "like" my new book on Facebook. Actually the best way is to go to my page on the Barnes & Noble's website and simply click on the "like" button.

Amazing how all of this stuff works!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First Chapter

Just learned that the new second edition of my book has been featured on First Chapter! You can read about it at FIRST CHAPTER PLUS.

First Chapter is a great way to get a taste of hundreds of books without spending a dime. It's sure a lot easier than flipping through pages at your local book store! It will save you a lot of money because you'll only buy the books you like.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Green Publishing Event Today

As part of the Green Books Campaign 2010, 200 bloggers are supporting books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. The second edition of How To UnBreak Your Health was included: Green Review

As is so often the case, the reviewer wanted a quick and easy listing in the back so she could look up her health problem and find that "magic pill" to solve all of her problems. I let her know that real health doesn't work like that because we all have to take responsibility for our own health. To find your own path to better health doesn't mean taking someone else's shortcut. Even Dr. Oz promotes taking personal responsibility for your health. It's a difficult and major step to take but one that is worthwhile because it gives you back control over your life.

It was great for Loving Healing Press to participate in this "green" event with my book!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Green Books

Next Thursday 200 bloggers will simultaneously publish reviews of 200 books printed on environmentally-friendly paper to promote awareness about the environment and books. My publisher, Loving Healing Press, is one of the companies involved in greener business efforts so my second edition will be one of the books reviewed this year. More later!

To learn more: Eco-Libris

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Second Edition Differences

Just got an e-mail from Australia that they're having trouble getting the new, second edition of my book. This fan happened to catch me on one of the many radio interviews I've done recently. The problem is, the first edition of my book is still available in many places. Readers need to be very careful and be sure they're ordering the new book. The new edition features 339 new and updated listings in 150 different categories.

It's easy to see the difference just by the covers. The new cover has red and purple features on a yellow background. The original book was green on yellow.

The second edition title is also different: How To UnBreak Your Health. The original was simply UnBreak Your Health.

Last, the subtitle of the new second edition is Your Map to the World of Complementary and Alternative Therapies.

I just wanted to help you find the newest version of this award-winning book!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

GlaxoSmithKline Fine

How can I resist mentioning that GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to pay a $750 million fine to settle their civil and criminal cases resulting from a whistle-blower who exposed their quality problems in Puerto Rico.

The cases involved 20 drugs with questionable safety or effectiveness. The list includes the drug Paxil, an ineffective antidepressant, Bactroban, an ointment and Avandia, a diabetes drug with a troubled history. The United States Justice Department said the $150 million payment to settle criminal charges was the largest ever paid by a drug manufacturer in this situation.

The only good news in the deal? The whistle-blower, a quality manager fired by Glaxo for raising the quality issues, will receive $96 million.

The bad news? Following Pfizer's four whistle-blower lawsuits since 2002 and record $2.4 billion fine last year, these cases don't even raise an eyebrow on Wall Street any more.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Failure of Scientific Research

There is a fascinating article in the November edition of The Atlantic magazine about the work of Dr. John Ioannidis. His research was originally published PLoS Medicine in 2005 (I'm surprised I haven't run across it sooner). The title of the current article about his work should give you an idea of what it's about: Lies, Damned Lies and Medical Research.

The bottom line? Dr. Ioannidis's research and analysis found that 80% of the most common type of medical research, the non-randomized trial, turns out to be wrong. The so-called gold standard of research, randomized trials, are in error up to 25% of the time. Even large, randomized trials (often called the platinum standard of medical research) was found to be wrong up to 10% of the time.

What was especially interesting was how many years incorrect medical information continued to be accepted by doctors as normal medical treatment, frequently a dozen years or more.

And doctors wonder why patients are confused? Is anyone surprised that medical research involving prescription drugs was the worst for credibility? Is it any wonder that patients are more interested in therapies that have been used for decades, hundreds or even thousands of years instead of the best of "modern" medicine?

Here's a link to: Lies, Damned Lies and Medical Research.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Radiation Danger

Next time you check into a hotel, or sit next to someone on a bus or plane, you may need to ask yourself if it's safe. Folks being treated for cancer with radioactive iodine or iodine-131 are sometimes kept in the hospital for a few days for safety but many are simply sent home right away. There are reports of hotel room contamination and radioactivity alarms being set off on public transportation according to a congressional investigation.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering adopting new rules to protect the public. Their main concern is exposure to children and pregnant women who are most susceptible to radiation.

The treatment is usually used to treat thyroid cancer. In the U.S. about 40,000 people each year develop the disease.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Radio Shows

I love doing radio interviews! My conversation with Mary Treacy O'Keefe in now available on her Hope, Health & WellBeing Show. If you miss it this week it'll be archived on the WebTalk Radio website.

Next week (Oct. 28th) I'll be on the air with Dr. Freidman on his To Your Good Health show.

Stay tuned, there are lots more interviews coming up!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Antibiotics Increase Breast Cancer Risk

It may sound strange but there is a new mega-study showing that antibiotics may cause an increased risk of breast cancer. This wasn't a small, isolated situation either, it involved studies with over 13,000 cases from several major medical databases. The bottom line: those who used antibiotics had a 17%+ greater chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The research was published in last month's Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. One of the possible explanations for the effect is that antibiotics reduce the body's immune system and compromise its ability to fight off cancer.

It's probably no surprise that the medical industry is telling everyone not to overreact to this study, even after cautioning against the overuse of antibiotics for many years.

If anyone needed another reason to begin using complementary and alternative medicine, here it is.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

American Medical System Is The Problem

During the health care debate there was a lot of information brought to the attention of the American public that was shocking. Most did not realize that we spend more on health care than any other nation on earth (almost 17% of GDP) but with poor results. Americans assumed that we had the best health care in the world so it came as a shock to learn that we rank so far below other industrialized countries.

A new study published recently sheds light on the situation. It turns out that our health care system is the problem, not our smoking, obesity, homicide rate or other excuse. Our current fee-for-service system combined with a focus on specialty health care has produced an upside-down system that while highly profitable for some, is not effective for patients.

Examining health records from 1975 - 2005 the study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that even though there were improvements in our lifestyles relative to other countries, our health declined. This despite the fact that America spends up to twice as much on health care as other industrialized countries. For example, 15-year survival rates for men and women ages 45 and 65 has fallen to the bottom of the list compared to 12 other industrialized countries in the study.

As the cost of our health care system continues to rise in both financial and human terms it's time for change.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Same Old Song, Different Verse

It happens over and over again. A drug approved by the FDA is later pulled from the market because it has serious health risks ... like death. The latest drug to fall into this growing category is Meridia, a diet pill manufactured by by Abbott Laboratories.

First of all, the drug really wasn't very effective since average weight loss was only 5 pounds. European government officials had pulled the drug off their market last January due to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Last week Abbott Labs agreed to pull the drug off the market at the request of the FDA in America and national health regulator Health Canada.

With each story of another dangerous drug Americans are beginning to realize the risks involved with taking prescription drugs. FDA approval is no guarantee of safety in the long run. Which is why the popularity of complementary and alternative medicine continues to grow. People are looking for more safe and natural methods for better health.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Old Ways May Be Better

It turns out old fashioned handwriting may be better for your brain than all of those new techno-gadgets. Studies show that learning the shape of letters helps the brain develop cognitive skills and expression. It's suggested that it may even be a good cognitive exercise for seniors to help them maintain mental awareness. Learning a new language with handwriting may have even more benefits for seniors.

There are new computer programs to help kids learn to write by hand (does anyone else see the irony in this?). The act of learning to write helps develop their brains and the games make it seem like they're playing, not learning.

For those parents who think that learning handwriting is a waste of time in this digital age, remember, handwriting does still matter. Not only is it a more intimate way of communicating but in the essay portion of the SAT college-entrance test poor handwriting can still earn a score of 0 if it's illegible.

Monday, September 20, 2010


The inevitable is happening. A new gene coming from India makes common germs into superbugs, or germs that are immune to antibiotics. Called NDM-1, the new gene has already shown up in three states and in Canada involving three different types of bacteria. In every case the patient has either received surgery or visited India.

After decades of overuse of antibiotics it's not a surprise that Mother Nature would find a way to adapt. The surprise is that this new gene seems capable of using different mechanisms to enable a bacteria to use it to deflect all types of antibiotics.

It would make sense to boost your natural immune system instead of relying strictly on antibiotics.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Uninsured Population Grew in 2009

Health insurance reform may have passed but its effects won't take effect for many until 2014. In the meantime the need for reform continues to grow. Last year (2009) there were 50.7 million Americans uninsured or 16 .7% of population which is up from 46.3 million and 15.4% in 2008. Most of this change is caused by the current economic recession, either from employers dropping coverage of from people being unable to afford private insurance.

These aren't just numbers on a page, they're living, breathing individuals who now spend hours in hospital emergency rooms waiting for treatment. This lack of coverage is one of the factors in America's low ranking for longevity compared to other industrialized countries.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Money and Happiness

According to this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences money can buy you happiness ... sort of. Surveys of 450,000 Americans done in 2008-09 showed that you need at least $75,000 to keep the wolves at bay on a daily basis. Less than that and your sense of security and the daily grind wear you down so having extra money does, in fact, bring you some breathing room and ... happiness.

That's not to say more money doesn't bring you an increase in your feelings of success, it does. But the emotional well-being measured in the surveys seems to level off. Apparently the added responsibilities and financial concerns that come with more money balance out the increased income.

Haven't you known folks earning less than $75,000 who were happy? Or ones that earned much more who were happy? Focusing on an external variable over-simplifies the reasons for happiness. It's like taking a pill to treat a symptom instead of looking at the cause of the problem.

The bottom line is happiness begins inside, not outside. The sooner we realize that the happier we will be. It's not what happens to us in life, it's how we react to it that matters.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Prescription Drug Use Grows

A new government survey shows prescription drug use continues to increase in America. The report which covers through 2008 says that 48% of all Americans take prescription drugs now. The number of people taking 2 or more drugs grew to 31% but the biggest jump was in people taking 5 or more prescription drugs, nearly doubling from 6% to 11% in 2008.

Who says TV advertising doesn't work? It's sure worth the money when it comes to pushing prescription drugs!

Personally, I'm really getting tired of seeing at least one drug ad in every TV break at night, sometimes more than one. When is America going to realize there's a reason we're one of the very few countries in the world that allows this type of direct-to-consumer advertising?

Given the cost of these drugs is it any wonder why so many folks are turning to complementary and alternative medicine now?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

KFOR Interview

Had a wonderful time on KFOR this morning on the Problems and Solutions show with Cathy Blythe. As she mentioned at the beginning of the program I used to work in radio in Lincoln so we've known each other for many years. It sure helps to be a friend of the host! We laughed and had a good old time talking about the new book.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Doctors and God

Doctors who believe in God tend not to play God. According to a new British study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics doctors who are atheists or agnostics are almost twice as likely to make decisions that they think will quickly end the lives of terminally ill patients. Doctors with religious beliefs were twice as likely to talk with patients about life-ending decisions.

The study surveyed 8,500 British doctors, 42% of which responded. It was interesting to note that white doctors, the largest ethnic group to complete the survey, were less like than any other group to label themselves as deeply religious.

The British Medical Association said that regardless of religious beliefs the patient's needs should always come first.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Research

Western scientists love research ... they just have to get every square peg to fit into their round hole. Sometimes it doesn't work that way. A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine said that a small study of fibromyalgia sufferers showed that many found relief with Tai Chi. The study was funded by the NCCAM.

The study group was divided into Tai Chi participants and those taking an educational class. After 12 weeks 79% of tai chi participants said their symptoms had improved while only 39% of those in the educational class reported improvement.

Why does it surprise American doctors that a 2,000-year-old medical system might have some beneficial features?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good News, Bad News

The good news is MRSA infection rates are down. The aggressive, drug-resistant staph infection caught in hospitals dropped about 16% from 2005 to 2008 indicating the prevention efforts at hospitals are working. However MRSA rates in schools, locker rooms and other settings were not included in the report.

The bad news is there is a new superbug according to a study published recently in the journal Lancet. Bacteria in south Asia have learned a new way to deactivate the antibiotics that usually kill them using a new gene called NDM-1. Normally confined to Pakistan and India the first case in America was identified in the U.S. this year. Cases have also been reported in the U.K.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Podcast Show Anniversary

Wow, just realized that my podcast show is over 2 years old. How time flies when you're having fun! The library has grown to over 60 shows with some of the leading figures in the world of complementary and alternative therapies.
UnBreak Your Health Podcast

Sunday, August 8, 2010


It always fascinates me when scientists try to play God, I always wonder if they can imagine all of the unintended consequences to their actions. Remember the scene in the movie Jurassic Park when the actor says something to the effect of - just because you can do it, it doesn't mean you should.

Two new studies published recently deal with regeneration, the ability to regrow body parts, an ability animals like newts and fish have but people don't.

Stanford has been able to turn off two genes that suppress tumors and they got mouse muscle cells to revert to a younger state to help repair tissue. Down the street at the University of California at San Francisco they're working with mice to reprogram the ordinary heart tissue cells into heart muscle cells, the type that are lost in a heart attack.

Many think humans gave up the evolutionary ability to regrow parts as a trade-off for fewer cancers. Tinkering with cells may have amazing healing properties, but it may also come with a trade-off.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inside Scoop Live!

I really enjoy being interviewed about my new book. This week I spoke with Irene Watson at Inside Scoop Live and we had a wonderful conversation for 30 minutes that went all over the map. It has a lot of information about the world of complementary and alternative therapies.
Inside Scoop Live!

Page Readers Interview

The most fun part of being an author is doing radio interviews ... at least it is for me! I LOVE talking about the new second edition of How To UnBreak Your Health. Last Friday I spoke with Nanci Arvizu on Page Readers and the interview is now available at
Page Readers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Second Edition E-Book

Just heard that Amazon is now selling 143 e-books for every 100 hardcover books. Sure glad the new e-book for the second edition of How To UnBreak Your Health is already available!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Book Trailer

Finally got the new trailer for the second edition of UnBreak Your Health posted on YouTube.

Austin Interviews

Saturday, July 17th I had the opportunity to be interviewed twice by Bill Swail. He's the owner of the four People's Pharmacy stores in Austin, Texas which is one of the most unique pharmacies in the country. He actually supports complementary and alternative therapies and believes that while pharmaceutical drugs have their place customers might want to try more natural treatments first. He even has nutritionists, naturopaths, homeopaths, chiropractors and acupuncturists on staff.

Bill also is the host of two radio shows in Austin and I had the privilege of being his guest on both the Good News Health Show on KLGO-FM and his Let's Get Health show on KJCE Talk Radio. He's one of the most gracious hosts I've had the pleasure of working with while promoting the second edition of my book. (The fact he likes my book doesn't hurt!)

Two shows in one day ... making progress getting the word out about my new book!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Drug Industry Tactics

Last week one of my favorite shows (Leverage) featured a bad guy CEO at a pharmaceutical company. When he was told by one of the Leverage team that the FDA fined another pharmaceutical company over $2 billion for a bad drug he replied that they made $16 billion in profits so the fine only amounted to about 15%. He added "that's like tipping your waiter."

This week we read the news that the risks of Avania have been known and hidden by the manufacturer from the FDA and the public since 1999. When I read that GlaxoSmithKline had agreed to pay $460 million to resolve the majority of lawsuits they face I was reminded of the TV show. Sales for all drugs containing Avandia in 2008 alone were $1.5 billion.

Apparently GSK is willing to "tip the waiter" for selling Avandia.

And the pharmaceutical industry wonders why the public is suspicious of their drugs?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Expensive Medicine

There was an interesting survey of more than 1,200 doctors across the country (both primary care and specialists) published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Nine out of ten doctors agreed that doctors regularly order too many tests and overtreat to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits. The study did not ask doctors if they personally practiced so-called defensive medicine.

Overtreatment is estimated to cost the U.S. health care system billions of dollars each year.

As patients we have the right to question every test and procedure to protect our own health, and our wallets.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Talk Show Appearance

Had a wonderful time for an hour and a half today with Coach Marla and Chris on the Winning Life Through Pain radio show! Normally interviews are just a few minutes and I barely get a chance to get the title of the book out but today was a nice long conversation about the book in particular and the world of complementary and alternative therapies in general.

If you'd like to check it out: Winning Life Through Pain

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Podcast - Pilates

Join me for an interesting 20-minute conversation with Trent McEntire, President of the Board of Directors for the Pilates Method Alliance. You'll learn who Joseph Pilates was and how his process of physical education is both exercise and therapy.

Go to Pilates.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Podcast - NAET

Just added the newest podcast to the UnBreak Your Health library. This one features Dr. Devi Nambudripad the creator of Nambudripad Allergy Elminiation Technique or NAET talking about how her own search for better health led to the development of the process in 1983.

Sorry there's been such a gap between shows #60 and #61 ... got tied up getting the second edition of UnBreak Your Health out!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Even though I did not mention him by name, the Treasurer for the Association of Health Care Journalists has requested a correction to my last blog. He simply retweeted the article on Forbes.com by Steven Salzberg about cutting off funding for NCCAM.

I will leave it to my readers to decide if retweeting such an article is an endorsement or simply intellectual curiousity about the current attitudes about health care in America or about our fiscal problems.


I used to be a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists but didn't renew my membership because it was completely in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry and the American Medical Association. There simply was no room in the organization's view for complementary and alternative medicine.

That anti-CAM perspective was demonstrated again today by the posting on Forbes.com by the Treasurer of the association supporting the article to abolish the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) which is part of NIH. He claims it is a waste of taxpayer money to learn more about CAM.

Why would we want to learn why billions of people around the world have used CAM for thousands of years? Maybe it will help us understand why America spends more on health care than any other nation on earth and yet ranks #30 in longevity, worse in many other categories.

For those of us who owe our lives, or at least the quality of our life, to CAM, the war between the profit-minded medical industry and the world of natural alternatives continues. We don't mind those who only want the world of drugs and surgery to have what they want, why are they so afraid to let us have more natural alternatives?

NOTE: The following post "Correction" is added below at the request of the unnamed person in this blog.

Even though I did not mention him by name, the Treasurer for the Association of Health Care Journalists has requested a correction to my last blog. He simply retweeted the article on Forbes.com by Steven Salzberg about cutting off funding for NCCAM.

I will leave it to my readers to decide if retweeting such an article is an endorsement or simply intellectual curiousity about the current attitudes about health care in America or about our fiscal problems.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Second Edition Printed

Just received the first box of books and I'm excited! The second edition of UnBreak Your Health looks GREAT! Working with my publisher the new cover is a very bold update of the original, matches the new, user-friendly format.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Second Edition First Radio Show

Wow, didn't expect the e-mails to radio shows to produce an interview so quickly! With the approval of the proof for the second edition I thought it was time to contact the shows I'd been on before and let them know the new book was days away from the first print run.

Rochelle Herman at WTMY in Tampa/Sarasota, Florida e-mailed back that she'd love to have me on the following day. She was surprised to learn that hers was the first show in the nation to break the news about the newest edition of UnBreak Your Health. We had a little technology hiccup that delayed the start of the conversation but it all worked well in the end.

THANKS Rochelle!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Surgery Center Infections

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that surgery centers have serious problems with infection control. The study was done in response to an outbreak in Nevada of hepatitis C where 63,000 surgery center patients had to be notified.

The new study found 67% of the centers studied had at least one lapse in infection control and 57% were cited for deficiencies. Some of the centers in the study hadn't been inspected 12 years.

There are more than 5,000 outpatient surgery centers in the U.S. today performing more than 6 million procedures annually.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Second Edition!

It's close enough now I guess I can let the cat out of the bag and tell you that the second edition of my award-winning book UnBreak Your Health will be coming out in a matter of days! Featuring a new, user-friendly format, this version includes 339 new and updated listings in 150 different categories.

One of the new additions is a podcast note with each listing where we have a program. It explains who was on the show and the topics covered. It was actually amazing to me to see all of the leaders in the world of complementary and alternative medicine who've been on my podcast program.

The website has been updated (only a little prematurely) at UnBreak Your Health if you'd like to learn more.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bad News To Better Health

Would you be surprised to learn there is bad news to having better health? While you'd enjoy better health now a new study finds that you'll also be living longer as a result ... and that's going to cost you. A lot.

A report from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research finds that a longer life also means more illnesses later that can cost as much as $105,000. Naturally the health insurance industry has seized on this information to sell more long-term care insurance.

So if you want to help relieve the strain on Social Security then keep eating hamburgers every day and start smoking. Just think of all the money it will save you ... and you'll be helping all the rest of us that are working hard every day to be healthier!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Food Health Dangers

You've probably already heard of the growing concern over the chemical BPA in our food supply but a new study raises the level substantially. A coalition of 17 public and environmental health groups analyzed can from 19 states and Ontario, Canaca and found 92% of them contained the chemical. BPA has been associated with several different damaging health effects and there is a growing chorus of people asking for it to be banned from our food supply.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D. California) has already called for a ban on BPA in food and beverage containers saying "Nearly 200 scientific studies show that exposures to low doses of BPA, particularly during pregnancy and early infancy, are associated with a wide range of adverse health effects later in life."

In my most popular speech on complementary and alternative therapies (Secrets of New Science & Old Medicine) the handout has a picture of the Agouti mice at Duke University. The photo is about epigenetics but the environmental factor producing obesity in the mice was exposure to BPA. You can hear a podcast of this presentation at www.unbreakyourhealth.com.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Failing Health Care for Mothers

I've often written how the U.S. spends more on health care than an other nation on earth with poor results. It is especially clear on maternal mortality where we spend more per birth than any other nation yet we rank #41 in the world. For all of the money we spend there are 40 other industrialized countries that have better survival rates. This includes countries like Croatia, Hungary and Macedonia. Our rate is double that of Canada and most of Western Europe!

Deaths from obstetrical causes within one year of giving birth rose nationally from 7.6 per 100,000 births to 13.3 from 1996 to 2006. In California the rate tripled from 5.6 deaths to 16.9. How can so many American women die from childbirth when we spend more money per birth than anyone else on the planet?

Some people within the medical community point the finger at the increase in the number of cesarean sections which now account for 1/3 of all births, an increase from 20% of births in 1997. But there may are other possible causes.

During the recent health care debate it was often heard that America has the best health care system in the world. Try explaining that to all of the women who died from childbirth. Something is wrong in our health care system and it needs to be changed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cancer Costs

Yes, cancer costs in the U.S. have doubled in the past 20 years from $25 billion to $48 billion according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Surprisingly it's not due to all of those expensive new cancer drugs and treatments but instead by the increase in the number of cancer patients.

Perhaps modern medicine should be investigating cancer prevention instead of expensive treatments? Oh, sorry, that would be a complete paradigm shift in the medical industry in this country.

Prevention is one of the key features of complementary and alternative therapies. Never getting sick is a lot cheaper in the long run than treating an illness or disease!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Record Drug Fine

I simply couldn't let the news of a record fine by the FDA pass without at least a mention. AstraZeneca agreed to pay $520 million in fines over its illegal marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel. The FDA approved the drug only for short-term treatment of acute manic episodes of bipolar disorder.

The company marketed the drug for unapproved uses aggressively including paying doctors to "advise" on how to market the drug for other uses. It then billed the government for the drug even though it was not approved for the condition.

The company agreed to pay the record fine without admitting wrongdoing saying it's best to move forward.

Isn't it amazing how the drug companies that say complementary and alternative medicine isn't properly tested or researched have no problem selling their prescription drugs for anything under the sun so long as it makes them a buck?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wisdom of Age

A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that "age effects on wisdom hold at every level of social class, education and IQ." In other words, age really does bring wisdom. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that older people were more likely to recognize that values differ, they were better able to acknowledge uncertainties, to accept that things change over time, and to respect others' points of views than younger or middle-aged folks.

The old adage to respect our elders has a basis in fact after all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Human Guinea Pigs

More fun and games at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as they continue to allow the pharmaceutical industry to use the population of America as human guinea pigs. This installment is about how the FDA finally got around to putting a "black box warning" on Bristol-Myers' best-selling drug Plavix. It seems that up to 14% of the population may have a genetic variation that makes it difficult for them to metabolize the drug, or as the FDA says they "may not respond well" to the drug. Plavix is also marketed by Sanofi Aventis and is the second-best selling drug in the world with $8.6 Billion in sales in 2008.

The FDA also recently announced it's conducting a review of a class of bone-building drugs featuring products like Boniva to see if they actually increase the risk of femur fractures as has been reported in the media. Bisphosphonate drugs have also been reported to have severe side effects like jaw necrosis, heart rhythm disturbances and severe bone and joint pain. How many years will this review take and how many people will be injured in the meantime?

People simply don't understand and appreciate that they're being used as human guinea pigs, they think the FDA is protecting them.

And the medical industry wonders why consumers are turning to complementary and alternative medicine?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

National Geographic

If you happen to run across National Geographic magazine from last month (January 2010) be sure to look at the article on health care. It has a great graphic comparing several countries on health costs, life expectancy, even frequency of doctor visits. I must confess I had a hard time locating the United States when I first looked at the graph. Our costs are so high that it was above the text, far removed from the rest of the world. It presents a very clear picture of America's health care problem.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More FDA Troubles

Has anyone missed the news reports in the past week about the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Avandia? It's just the latest chapter in the FDA's troubled attempts to regulate safety in prescription drugs.

This episode involves the diabetes medication Avandia from GlaxoSmithKline. The flap was ignited by reports linking it to 304 deaths in the 3rd quarter of 2009. The New York Times reported that if every patient taking Avandia were to switch to a similar drug called Actos about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure would be averted every month. Naturally the manufacturer continues to claim that the drug is safe since sales were $3.2 billion in 2006.

Meanwhile more trials are underway while the FDA continues to abdicate its responsibility to protect the health of Americans. The current TIDE study isn't even scheduled to be completed until 2020. How many thousands will die as a result of this bureaucratic ineffectiveness?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happiness Is Healthy

A new study from Columbia University shows that happiness contributes to better health. In 1995 they measured the happiness of 1,700 adults in Canada with no heart problems using a 5-point scale. Ten years later they discovered that for every point on their happiness scale people were 22% less likely to have a heart problem.

Experts say that happiness results in a healthier heart because it avoids the negative health effects of other conditions like stress and depression. Research has shown that stress releases hormones that can damage heart muscle and depression has long been associated with heart problems.


Remember, it's not what happens to you in life, it's how you react to it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Government by the Checkbook

How much was spent on lobbying during the past session of Congress? Would you believe about $3.5 billion? To put it in perspective that's about half of what the government will spend on the entire federal court system.

It's no surprise that health care reform was the hot topic. Pharmaceutical companies and other health care manufacturers spent $267 million, the most ever spent by a single industry in a year. Business associations were next spending $183 million.

Remember when it was government by the people and for the people?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Health Costs Rising

Last year 17.3% of our nation's economy involved health care, about $2.5 trillion. The jump in health care's share of GDP was the largest one-year increase since the government began keeping records on it 50 years ago.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also predicted that for the first time government programs will account for more than half of all U.S. health care spending next year, or 50.4% The weak economy is slowing the growth of private insurance and sending more folks into Medicaid. Just last year they predicted that this wouldn't happen until 2016.

Baby Boomers begin turning 65 next year, a sign that America's aging population will continue to require more medical care even as they live longer. Meanwhile health care reform efforts in Congress are stalled as partisan bickering continues to delay any real change in the current situation.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cost of Change

So how was your year in 2009? Yes, your stock portfolio saw a nice rise after the crash of '08 but how was your income? Are you making a lot more now than you did before? For most industries last year was flat at best as the recession continues to drag on. What does this have to do with health care? I believe that change will come because it has to, we can't afford to keep the current system.

According to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services health care costs increased 4.4% in 2008. Pricewaterhouse Cooper's Health Research Institute estimates costs increased 5.5% in 2009. We've got it much worse here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area where estimates are the costs rose 12.3% in 2009 according to the most recent data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given the state of the current economy our nation simply cannot afford to keep on the same health care path we've been going down for decades.

One option is Integrative Medicine with its focus on prevention instead of treatment. You might enjoy the new podcast featuring Dr. Eleanor Hynote, President/CEO of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). Podcast.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winds of Medical Change

It appears that the winds of change are blowing through the halls of medical schools across the country. In a recent survey of medical school students at 126 schools they found a growing interest and acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

The results showed 77% thought that patients would benefit more if their doctors knew about CAM along with Western medicine. In a show of support for Integrative Medicine 74% of the doctors-to-be thought that a blend of Western medicine and CAM is better than either by itself.

Looks like the CAM genie is out of the bottle and the AMA isn't going to be able to put it back any time soon. That's great news for all of us as patients and medical consumers and also for doctors who want to do a better job.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happiness Helps

I've written before about the importance of being happy to your health, there really is no substitute. In today's rushed, multi-tasked, even dangerous world it's hard to figure out how to add a little happiness to your life.

PARADE magazine had a very nice article on the subject last week so I wanted to share some of their tips.

1) ACT HAPPY - EVEN IF YOU AREN'T (yet) It will cheer you and everyone around you.
2) SEEK OUT POSITIVE DISTRACTIONS Think about what always gives you pleasure and just do it. Don't wait for the activity to come to you, go out and buy the tickets, make the call, whatever.
3) DO ONE THING AT A TIME Try for at least an hour or two each day to do just one thing because multitasking can make you feel tense.
4) SPEND MORE TIME WITH FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES There is no replacement for the enjoyment of close relationships. it's the No.1 predictor of our happiness.
5) TAKE ACTION Passivity can make you feel worse so choose to change, even if it's a small step.

I'll add one of my own too ... TAKE TIME TO UNPLUG. All of our modern electronic conveniences have an off switch, so use it once in awhile and enjoy the peace and tranquility.

Be happy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Exercise is Best Medicine

"No pill or nutritional supplement has the power of near-daily moderate activity in lowering the number of sick days people take," says David Nieman, director of Appalachian State University's Human Performance Lab in Kannapolis, N.C. in a Wall Street Journal article on Jan. 5th. There is a growing body of research clearly showing that regular exercise can boost the body's immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria. It can be done with just a brisk 30- to 45-minute walk five times a week. Regular exercise has also been shown to offer a wide variety of other benefits too.

Unfortunately the CDC now says that 36% of U.S. adults didn't engage in any leisure-time physical activity in 2008, in other words we continue to be a nation of couch potatoes.

Take charge of your health in 2010 and start with just a few simple steps ... literally.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Good News, Bad News

We begin the new decade with the classic "good news/bad news" on health care. The good news is spending on health care in America slowed dramatically in 2008. We only spent $7,681 per person or $2.3 trillion as a nation on health care.

The bad news is the 4.4% growth rate is still far ahead of the 2.6% growth in the GDP.

Health care continues to eat away at America's economy and is the primary reason health care reform is needed.