Friday, October 31, 2008

It Isn't Working

What we're doing for health care in this country clearly isn't working. The latest example of this is the fact that our obesity epidemic has caused the rate of diabetes to double in the past 10 years. The CDC reports in a state-by-state review of new cases that the worst situation is in West Virginia with 13 cases in 1,000 adults were diagnosed in 2005-07 while the lowest was in Virginia with only 5 cases per 1,000 adults.

How can mainstream medicine claim to be doing such a great job when the situation continues to get worse with each passing year?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Don't Spring Forward

Seasonal changes can kill you, literally. It seems researchers in Sweden have found that when we "spring forward" to daylight saving time in the spring there are 6% more heart attacks. On the other hand when we "fall back" as we'll do on Saturday night there will be 5% fewer heart attacks the following day.

The best guess on this phenomenon is that since we're chronically sleep deprived today, average sleep duration has fallen from 9.0 to 7.5 hours in the last century, the sudden change can be fatal to a few vulnerable folks. The simple solution? Don't make sudden changes to your daily schedule, gradually adjust your routine to maintain a safe amount of sleep.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FDA Advisory Group Disagrees With FDA

The FDA asked a panel of scientific experts to review its August report claiming that BPA was safe. Now that panel of science experts challenged the Food and Drug Administration's conclusion noting the FDA should have paid more attention to studies suggesting the contrary, primarily those not supported by the plastics industry.

The FDA report issued in August said that BPA is safe at current levels. Lawmakers and scientists criticized the report because it relied largely on industry-funded studies and contradicted over 100 studies suggesting BPA is harmful to humans. The FDA says it is already moving forward with planned research to address the potential low-dose effects of BPA.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Congress Questions FDA Action

You know the FDA is doing a pretty poor job when both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have questions about its work. This week the issue is why the FDA's advisory panel only used research funded by the chemical industry as the basis for its recent report that BPA is safe and harmless ... ignoring even the government's own research. Congress has asked specific questions of the FDA on this situation and is waiting for a reply. The advisory panel is scheduled to release its review of the FDA's report on BPA before it meets Oct. 31. The panel will present its findings to the FDA's Science Board, which may issue its own assessment of the agency's work.

Just last month (as noted in this blog) the Journal of the American Medical Association linked BPA to heart disease and diabetes in adults. Canada last week declared BPA to be toxic and announced plans to ban it in baby bottles. A growing number of retailers, manufacturers and government officials are taking action against BPA including state attorney generals in several states.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Doctors Use Placebos

A new survey reveals that half of American doctors use placebos regularly. This data is similar to studies done in Britain, Denmark, Israel and New Zealand. Research has shown that placebos do work so it's not surprising that doctors turn to them in some situations. Using vitamins, headache pills and other products they're trying to activate the patient's own healing system.

If you ever hear your doctor say this is "a medicine not typically used for your condition but might benefit you" then you may be getting a placebo. The good news over the last few years is that the better the placebo, the better the results for patients.

One of the primary attacks on complementary and alternative medicine is that it's nothing more than a placebo ... and now we discover that even doctors use placebos to help patients! Is this talking out of both sides of your mouth?

The study is being published in BMJ, formerly The British Medical Journal.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Drug Reactions, Deaths Rise

Another day, another news report about the increasingly dangerous world of prescription drugs. Today it's a report from the FDA about the first quarter stats this year showing 21,000 reports of serious drug reactions including 4,800 deaths. This dramatic increase sets a new record, not the sort of news the drug companies want you to hear.

The numbers reflect a 38% increase over the previous four quarters and was almost 3x higher than any quarter in 2007. You'll be glad to hear their spokesman say "The FDA is aware of the increasing number of reports and we take them seriously."

And the medical community wonders why more and more people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Dangerous Drugs

The current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association features a study warning against a new generation of "biological" drugs. Nearly 1/4th produce serious side effects that lead to safety warnings soon after they went on the market.

Many thought since these drugs to treat common diseases were made from biological sources they'd be more safe than traditional artificial drugs but that is turning out not to be the case. Side effects include brain infections and cancer.

As more and more evidence piles up is anyone really surprised anymore?

Perhaps it's useful to put it all in historical perspective. It was a little more than 100 years ago that mainstream medicine was treating patients with mercury and other heavy metals as the correct medical treatment of the day. Today we know they were killing people. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Changing Opinions

Isn't it amazing that doctors who think they have all of the answers to our health problems continue to change their recommendations? If they're right, why change?

The latest case in point is the increase of vitamin D for children. To reduce rates of the bone-softening disease rickets and improve long-term bone health, the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled its recommendation of vitamin D for babies, children and adolescents. A report suggests children receive 400 IU (international units) a day of vitamin D, beginning in the first few days of life — a big leap from a 2003 recommendation that suggested only half that amount starting in the first two months of life.

Or you can simply GO OUTSIDE AND GET MORE SUNSHINE but doctors don't seem to think about any natural ways to get healthy, only artificial drugs. Even in the most simple situation they can't seem to think first of a natural solution to the problem.

Sorry I've been absent lately. It's not for lack of news to cover, just been too busy to get on my blog.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Following The Money ... Again

Is anyone really surprised to learn that a leading psychiatrist earned more than $2.8 million from drug makers from 2000 - 2007 and failed to report at least $1.7 million of it? Dr. Charles Nemeroff of Emory University signed a letter in 2004 promising the university he wouldn't earn more than $10,000 per year from GlaxoSmithKline but in fact he earned $170,000 that year alone.

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is leading a congressional inquiry into drug company payments and he says "The current system for tracking financial relationships isn't working."