Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Supplement Safety

I don't usually talk about diets and supplements because my book does not contain any information on them. Just can't resist the news about the new supplement reaction law. During the first six months after the law took effect, only 604 adverse events were reported, versus an annual prescription drug adverse event total of 482,154. On an annual basis, that works out to 1 dietary supplement adverse event for about every 400 drug adverse events.

Many supplements have been used for hundreds of years while our modern drugs have a track record of only a few years. Even pharmacists will tell you they don't know what the long-term interactions are going to be for all of these prescription drugs.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Loneliness is Cold, Really

Research published in the journal Psychologlical Science shows that feeling loneliness literally feels cold. "Unpopular" participants in studies were more likely to want hot soup or coffee and to report a lower room temperature than other participants involved in the research at the University of Toronto.

Raising the temperature may help someone who is feeling loneliness much like light therapy helps those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Question is: Why is science continually surprised by the correlation between mind and body?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Follow the Money in Medicine

Congress and the Justice Department are looking into the payments made by medical device companies to doctors who consult for them. A bill is pending that would require companies to disclose payments by both drug and device companies.

In Texas, meanwhile, two renowned psychiatrists liked to the University of Texas system are being investigated for their connections to drug companies by U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). The University of Texas is also investigating possible failures to report income and other financial allegations. The doctors are recognized for their contributions to child pharmacology.

Eli Lilly plans to begin reporting payments they make to doctors for advice and speeches, even making the information available to the public through an Internet database. It was also the first company to publicly report its educational grants for medical conferences noting that letting the public see what's going on is a necessary step towards restoring trust.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Drugs In Your Water

Whether you want to take prescription drugs or not, you are, because they're in your drinking water. The Associated Press has been following the story of drugs in America's water supply for months but now comes news of a huge source of the drug contamination. Nursing homes and hospitals are dumping 250 million pounds of prescription drugs into the water supply every year!

In a survey of 5,700 hospitals and 45,000 long-term care facilities the AP estimates that millions of pounds of outdated, over prescribed and simply unwanted drugs are simply flushed down the toilet for disposal. This includes the most toxic and dangerous drugs available today. In most states and areas there aren't even any regulations preventing this method of disposal.

This is a dangerous practice because in tests of wastewater tested near European hospitals and one in Davis County, Utah, scientists were able to link drug dumping to virulent antibiotic-resistant germs and genetic mutations that may promote cancers.

Even state and federal prisons are contributing to the problem by flushing thousands of pills every year.

The EPA hopes to begin looking into the problem next year ... sometime.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BPA Study Links Health Problems

Suspicions about the effect of bisphenol A (BPA) on human beings has been confirmed in the first large study on the product. Research published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the health of 1,455 men and women with BPA in their systems. Those with the highest concentrations of BPA were nearly 3x more like to have cardiovascular disease and 2.4x as like to have diabetes than those with the lowest levels.

In Congress Sen. Charles Gressley, R-Iowa has opened an investigation into the way the FDA regulated the chemical. In addition Congress is looking into whether chemical manufacturers unduly influenced the agency's position.

How long will it be before somebody gets this stuff pulled off the market?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Helping Wounded Warriors

With the support of my publisher we're going to be donating copies of UnBreak Your Health to the Books 4 Boots program. This is a great program to help our wounded warriors and I highly recommend every author and publisher get involved.

Books are sent to VA hospitals to help patients pass the time and are also sold to benefit the program. In the case of UnBreak Your Health it's also to help them discover a world of complementary and alternative therapies to help their recovery. Several VA hospitals are adding Integrative Medicine to benefit their patients.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Upside Down System

America ranks #30 in longevity in the world and one of the reasons other industrialized countries enjoy longer, healthier lives is that 80% of their doctors are general practitioners who know their patients and can catch health problems earlier. In America only 20% of our doctors are GP's and that number is falling.

Today only 2% of graduating medical students say they plan to work in primary care internal medicine, or becoming a family doctor. The biggest reason is money. Family medicine has the lowest average salary of only $186,000. Only 42% of residency slots are filled by U.S. students. By comparison an orthopedic surgeon makes an average of $436,000 and 94% of those slots are filled by Americans.

Clearly the trend is not improving and in 2006 the American College of Physicians warned that the nation's primary care system is "at grave risk of collapse."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Health Media Bias

I seem to have kicked the hornet's nest recently with a post to the Association of Health Care Journalists about bias against complementary and alternative therapies. Wow! I didn't expect the outburst of responses claiming there was no such thing. Fortunately there were some other brave souls who joined the discussion after that round to respond that yes, in fact, there was clearly a bias in reporting against CAM.

If the buggy makers had been in charge of evaluating the effectiveness of the automobile we'd still be riding horses. The media prefers to turn a blind eye to the influence of money and politics in their coverage of health care. They prefer to rationalize how we spend more on health care than any other nation on earth but rank so poorly compared to other industrialized countries. They bury stories that taint the world of mainstream medicine as if it were heresy.

How can they report on something that they know so little about is my first question? Why don't they demand the same level of research and "proof" for mainstream medicine? I guess with so many jobs disappearing today they prefer to keep their eyes closed and their heads down because most health "reporters" today are simply reporting what the hospitals or drug companies sponsoring the news tell them to cover.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

FDA Lists Side-Effect Probes

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has posted 20 drugs being investigated for possible side effects. The list will be updated quarterly to better inform patients and doctors of the latest developments. At least 5 of the drugs on the list had problems that have already been publicized like heparin.

To learn more please visit FDA LIST

The drug companies are upset at this list because patients need to understand the risks and benefits of a drug. This coming from the folks who look for ways to not tell consumers ANYTHING about risks!

To the FDA: long overdue, but it's a start.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Health Care Costs

Hold on to your wallet, the cost of health care is going up, again. This time it's in the amount of your co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses because employers are moving more of the costs to employees. A survey released this week found that 59% of companies intend to hold down their health care costs next year by increasing the worker's share.

Estimates are for health care costs to increase 5.7% next year, similar to the increase in 2007.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vytorin Cancer Risk

Editors at the New England Journal of Medicine have warned that it's impossible to rule out a link between the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin and cancer. The connection came to light in July from 3 studies which were looking at whether the drug prevents deaths from heart attacks and strokes. The data revealed that patients taking Vytorin appear to have at least a 40% higher risk of dying from cancer than those taking a placebo.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Medical System Fraud

The federal government estimates that it's recovered $9.6 billion from health care providers accused of fraud as a result of whistle-blower claims from 1996-2005. The good news is the whistle blowers picked up $1 billion of the amount for having the courage to step forward. Recoveries jumped from about $10 million per case in 2002 to $50 million by 2005.

Greed anyone?