Saturday, October 31, 2009

If anyone wonders why so so many Americans are in favor of some type of public option for health care, the answer can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the August issue health debts caused over 62% of bankruptcies in 2007, up dramatically from the 46% rate just six years earlier.

One answer to this problem is a radical change in our health care system, beginning with each one of us, right now. The current model is treatment-based and we need to shift to a focus on prevention. We don't wait until the engines fall out of our cars before getting them serviced do we? No! We take them in for regular service so expensive problems can be avoided. We need to do the same for our health.

Americans need to take responsibility for their own health. We can prevent bankruptcies in many cases by preventing serious health problems. Don't wait until something goes wrong, take charge of your life right now and do something to maintain better health. For instance, take advantage of the hundreds of complementary and alternative therapies that are available. Most of these are holistic (treat all of you) and are based on preventative medicine.

Monday, October 26, 2009

FDA Fails to Remove Unproven Drugs

The FDA has allowed drugs for cancer and other serious diseases to stay on the market even when their effectiveness is unproven. Under the "accelerated approval" program a drug can be made available when preliminary research is promising under the promise of follow-up data. However even after a decade of no additional information the FDA doesn't take any action, in fact it has never pulled a drug approved in this manner from the market. When questioned by the GAO about the issue the FDA said it doesn't even have any plans to get more aggressive on enforcement.

Is this how the FDA protects the public or the drug manufacturers?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

As Young As You Feel

Many types of complementary and alternative medicine rely on the mind-body link. Now research from Yale University and the National Institute on Aging are showing how powerful it is when it comes to aging.

In one study scientists compared the health status of 386 men and women who took surveys in 1968 when they were 50 years old. Those with the most negative stereotypes about older people were much more likely to have had strokes or heart attacks than those with more positive views.

The good news is that attitudes about aging are not set in stone, it appears they can be changed, especially if people are exposed to positive role models.

So think positive! You're only as old as you feel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Growing Radiation Risk

The growth in diagnostic imaging tests in America has exploded in recent years. It's estimated that our radiation exposure has increased more than 600% since 1980. According to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements increased exposure leads to increased cancer risk. Since many imaging centers are owned by doctors it's become a lucrative opportunity resulting in a wild west environment, a dangerous place for patients.

Isn't it amazing that occupational radiation exposure is regulated by the federal government but there is no federal oversight when radiation is used for medical purposes? Doesn't this seem like upside-down priorities considering the number of people at risk?

Today even some doctors are beginning to suggest that tracking a patient's cumulative radiation dose in their medical record is necessary. Such a record could help prevent unnecessary radiation exposure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Four Rivers of Life

Ran across an interesting article recently, thought I'd share it with you. It appeared in the magazine Bottom Line but it was actually about a book from Angeles Arrien called The Second Half of Life. She suggests keeping a journal so we're more aware of our life and the flowing of our rivers.

We all have four rivers of life that nourish us and help us to grow. The first is the River of Inspiration. What inspired you today?

The second is the River of Challenge. What challenged you to leave your comfort zone? Did you accept the challenge?

The third is the River of Surprise. What "came out of the blue" today for you? Staying aware of these mysteries of life can help you move in wonderful new directions.

The fourth is the River of Love. How did love touch you today?

These four rivers can raise our lives from a level of mundane averageness to an exciting, almost mystical level. Sounds like good advice to me!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autism Increases

Two new government studies indicate about 1 in 100 children have autism disorders. The figure is much higher than a previous U.S. estimate of 1 in 150. While federal health officials claim that greater awareness, broader definitions and spotting autism in younger children may explain some of the increase it's the same explanation given every time the figures escalate. The latest estimate translates to about 673,000 American children having autism compared to earlier estimates which put the number at about 560,000.

"The concern here is that buried in these numbers is a true increase," said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. "We're going to have to think very hard about what we're going to do for the 1 in 100."

The bigger question, the one nobody seems to be asking, is what are we doing to our health in this country to produce this problem?