Tuesday, November 26, 2019

America Has a Health Problem

The conclusions from a comprehensive new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University showing that mortality rates for U.S. adults ages 25-64 continue to increase, driving down the general population’s life expectancy for at least three consecutive years should not be ignored.
The report, “Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017,’’ was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study paints a bleak picture of a workforce plagued by drug overdoses, suicides and organ-system diseases while grappling with economic stresses.

In a trend that cuts across racial and ethnic boundaries, the U.S. has the worst midlife mortality rate among 17 high-income countries despite leading the world in per-capita spending on health care.
And while life expectancy in those other industrialized nations continues to inch up, it has been going in the opposite direction in America, decreasing from a peak of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 in 2017.

By comparison, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, the average longevity in similar countries is 82.2 years. Japan’s is 84.1, France’s 82.4 and Canada’s 81.9. They left the U.S. behind in the 1980s and increased the distance as the rate of progress in this country diminished and eventually halted in 2011.

Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the VCU Center on Society and Health and the study’s lead author, said the reasons for the decline go well beyond the lack of universal health care in the U.S. – in contrast with those other nations – although that’s a factor.  “It would be easier if we could blame this whole trend on one problem, like guns or obesity or the opioid epidemic, all of which distinguish the U.S. from the other countries,’’ Woolf told USA TODAY. “But we found increases in death rates across 35 causes of death.’’

I think the bigger question is what is it going to take for America for finally start paying attention to what's happening ... and begin to do something about it?

Monday, November 18, 2019

Told You So

On the front page of the Dallas Morning News (and many other newspapers) on November 17, 2019 was the headline:  "Study: Surgery not best for all" and the lengthy article explained the massive study named ISCHEMIA.  While invasive procedures like insertion of a stent or even by-pass surgery better than pills at reducing patients' chest pain during exercise the study found no difference in a wide variety of heart-disease outcomes including heart attacks and even cardiac death.

Is anyone surprised that a legion of cardiac specialists are against this study?  After all, there are 500,000 heart stent procedures every year in the U.S. which is millions of dollars for doctors, hospitals, even stent manufacturers.  But now we have a huge federal study that says there's no reason to rush into these invasive procedures for patients with stable heart disease.

Have you ever heard of the Ornish Program?  Dr. Dean Ornish developed it many years ago and it is the most effective program to reverse heart disease available ... and it's all natural.  Based on a plant-based diet the program includes medication and other tools for the body to heal itself.  It has been proved so successful that Medicare even pays for it!

Surgery and even drugs may make money for a lot of folks but it isn't necessarily the best treatment.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The First Cells

I rarely write about positive events in mainstream medicine but the Wall Street Journal's Review section recently featured a great front-page essay from a new book titled The First Cell and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last.  You may have been impressed with all of the decreases in cancer rates since 1990 but the reality is that we've simply returned them to where they were in the 1930's, before the growth of cigarettes (and I would add processed foods).  Today the newest methods to treat cancer that are generating the most research and expense tend to be focused on treating the worst cases -  chasing after the last cancer cells in end-stage patients.

The book, to be published October 15th, calls for a paradigm shift.  We need to focus instead on the first cancer cells to prevent the growth of the disease in healthy patients.  (What a concept!)  This prevention would be the cheapest, fastest and safest alternative to the current treatment protocols of "slash, poison and burn."  Cancer is much too complex to be solved with simple reductionism that tries to match each cancer with the proper drug which is why 95% of new cancer drugs fail to receive FDA approval and the other 5% barely deserve it.

The last paragraph of the essay sums it up:  "What's missing from today's discussion of cancer is the admission that current strategies have failed and we need to take a 180-degree turn.  We now invest a lot of effort into finding minimal residual disease.  Why not apply the same rigor and focus to finding minimal initial disease?  Cancer research has been promising hope and delivering disappointments for a half-century.  Instead of letting cancer grow into its end-stage monstrosity, let us assemble our resources to pre-empt that battle and strike instead at cancer's root: the first cells."

Maybe there is hope in mainstream medicine if more doctors accept the reality ot medicine today.  After all, this proposed attitude shift sounds a lot like what's been done by complementary and alternative medicine for hundreds, even thousands, of years.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Declining Life Expectancy in U.S.

Not since World War I and the Spanish Influenza of 1915-18 has America seen a decline in our national life expectancy like we're seeing today.  Is it some new super bug?  Something from outer space?  No, I think we can blame the Internet and the polarization of society for this one.

A baby born in 2017 is now expected to live to be just 78.6 years old, down from 78.7 the year before, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.  We rank #31 in the world which is terrible considering that America spends more on health care than any other nation on earth.  Clearly, we're not getting our money's worth!

The biggest reasons for our decline is an increase in suicides and drug overdoses.  I think both are directly connected to the polarization of our society fueled by the media and Internet.  Liver disease is the next major factor and that probably is related to our prepackaged meals and artificial ingredients to maintain freshness for longer periods.  The rest of the world prefers natural foods prepared daily.

We know how to live longer, better lives. Americans just choose to ignore it.

So sad.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Lots of Good Books

There are lots of good books on health available today (but I still think How To UnBreak Your Health is one of the best).  Here's a list to help you get started.

Take charge of your own health!

Monday, February 25, 2019


It's that time again!  My book SUSAN'S SEARCH will be a FREE download beginning on February 28th and running through March 4, 2019.  ENJOY!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Doctors Are People, For Better and Worse

Thanks to the wonders of television most of us grew up with the images of doctors as amazing, infallible beings of unlimited healing abilities.  As we get older we realize that isn't so.  Doctors are just people too, subject to the same problems as all of the rest of us.

I was reminded of this fact recently when a friend called to update me on his wife's health problems.  It seems they had been going to a 72-year-old doctor for some time and were told that her condition couldn't be operated on for 3 months, until she'd tried a non-surgical alternative.  When my friend changed doctors to a younger (and better) physician they were given many different treatment options, including surgery, immediately.  Not all doctors are created equal, and they change and age over time just like all the rest of us.

Years ago I talked with the medical director of one of the country's leading alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs and the stories he told me were frightening.  Doctors can also have alcohol and drug problems and the results are, well let's just say they're too terrible to review here. 

Never forget that YOU are the greatest proponent for your good health!  No one else understands and cares about you more than you.  Don't assume that your doctor has all of the answers, he or she is just a human being.  They have good days and bad days.  Some care more than others.  YOU have to be responsible for YOU!

That is the first step to realizing and accepting that there are hundreds of types of complementary and alternative medicine that might help you.  If you'd like to learn more, buy my book HOW TO UNBREAK YOUR HEALTH on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Americans Spending More, Not Getting More

A study by Johns Hopkins University will appear this month in HEALTH AFFAIRS shows that Americans continue to pay more for health care than any other industrialized country in the world, but aren't getting more health care.  In 2016 we spent an average of $9,892 per person, an increase of 117% over 2000.  Canadians spent $4,753, citizens of Switzerland spent $7,919. 

It's not that we were seeing more doctors or even using more medicine, it's that everything in America is/was more expensive.  Strangely enough, we're producing fewer graduates from medical schools. 

Health care in America has to change, period.