Archive for February, 2015

Health news notes

Newspaper headline Extra Extra isolated on white background

We can only be aware of the health news to which we are exposed. My mission is to help fill in at least a few of the gaps by casting a broad net (newspapers, database updates, radio shows, magazines, trusted websites) to find useful science-based facts that might be otherwise overlooked. Although there are tens of thousands of positive studies on natural approaches, the evening news and newspaper front pages typically only cover the dogmatic orthodox pharmaceutical-backed bits that are fed to them by those with sufficient funding to generate and spin news. (Cable competition and the internet have apparently caused media reporting budgets to be slashed.)

New Diet Guidelines: NBC news discussed the government’s newly reversed stance on eating foods that contain cholesterol. (Think eggs, shrimp, etc.) The fed’s original advice to avoid such foods was never based on science or even logic. We knew for a long time that 75% of the cholesterol in the blood stream is made in our livers. Unfortunately, when the government rescinds such a policy, they neither apologize for their earlier error nor compensate the victims of the bad advice — for example, in this case the egg industry, fishermen and the consumers whose health suffered. (In the future watch for them to walk back their current overblown condemnation of saturated fats and sodium.) The government guidelines also wisely recommended reducing sugar. I was surprised that on the NBC evening news broadcast that this fact, which is likely the most important, wasn’t even mentioned. Could it be that the network wanted to avoid static from all their sugar-peddling advertisers? (Think soft drinks, cereals, candy, cookies, pancakes, etc.)

FDA turns a blind eye to research fraud. The agency mantra is “evidence-based” and “scientific proof”. So, if a study is seriously flawed or fraudulent, shouldn’t the FDA call “foul”? Unfortunately, a recent study shows that they routinely turn a blind eye. It is already a major problem for us that drug research is conducted by the manufacturers themselves (fox guarding the chicken coop?). It has also been well documented that too often only studies showing drug benefit are published (not those showing lack of effect or even unusual harm). Could the fault be an institutional FDA bias due to these factors: (1) Much of the agency budget is paid for by pharmaceutical fees and (2) there is a revolving door of employees coming from and going to the industry?

A great deal of our information about health comes from advertising. Broccoli doesn’t advertise! Only 2 countries (the US and New Zealand) permit television advertising for drugs. I wish that number was zero. Advertising boosts pharmaceutical sales, but gives consumers the impression that drugs (and only drugs) solve problems. In fact, most medications only mask problems. Typically, the real answer is improvement in diet and lifestyle. Even when a drug is promoted for the prevention of a disease, there may be a better way. For example, likeable football legend Terry Bradshaw is paid to scare you into getting vaccinated for shingles. However, on last week’s show we talked about a safer homeopathic immunization. This site shows studies on that type alternative. By the way, you might be interested in my article on how to stop shingles in its tracks. Link here for studies and articles on Shingles vaccine side effects; how Chicken Pox vaccine may be increasing the rates of shingles and about remedies including the use of vitamin C for shingles.

Toenail fungus sham and disease-creep

magician

How do you make a bunch of money magically appear? I find it impossible, but it seems to be pretty easy if you are a pharmaceutical company. Here are just a few examples of how they do it:

  • Make a really expensive drug to treat a relatively minor problem. The average doctor is unaware of effective natural remedies for toenail fungus and may unwitting write prescriptions for the medication Jublia®. The maker spends hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertising to encourage patients to demand it. Unfortunately, the ads don’t mention that the drug been shown to cure at best fewer than 18% of cases after 48 weeks at a cost of something like $2,000 per toe! Even if the insurance copay was zero, the cost will come back to bite us indirectly. Oh, and there are side effects to medications. Low cost, safe, effective natural remedies for toenail fungus include: ozonated olive oil, oregano oil, tea tree oil, Listerine and even soaking in corn meal water or vinegar. Note: a persistent case of nail fungus might be a clue that there is a systemic problem with yeasts. Quiz. Information.
  • Give kickbacks to encourage prescription of medicines that people don’t need. For example, as reported by ABC news, the makers of Nexium just paid a $7.9 million fine for doing that type of thing. Acid blockers such as Nexium are being misrepresented in a way I can only describe as fraud. First, they don’t address the real cause of the problem. Also, since they are only approved safe for use for a few weeks, implying to doctors and consumers that they should be taken continually is wrong and highly dangerous. In my book on digestion, I detail many horrid potential side effects of long-term use of the drugs such as increased risk of hip fracture, dementia, pneumonia and c-difficile (hard to cure and potentially lethal diarrhea.)
  • Use back channels to create “disease-creep”.  How can pharmaceutical companies possibly amass the power to effect the changes below? Wisely, they started many decades ago to infiltrate and co-opt the entire system from medical schools and scientific journals to state medical boards, FDA, non-profit disease groups and Congress (2+ lobbyists per elected member). That is simply good business for them (for us…not so much). Disease-creep includes:

(a) Change disease risk cutoff points. For example, as pointed out in this shocking Seattle Times article, merely changing the definition of high blood pressure turned 35% more people into potential users of blood pressure medication. Lowering the cholesterol target from 240 to 200 increased the pool of prospects for cholesterol drugs by 86%! (I can’t even begin to calculate the dramatic sales-boosting effect of more recent changes.)

(b)  Give new names to old conditions. For example, PMS had been around forever and was treated mainly with natural remedies. However, changing the name to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) made it a psychiatric problem and created a ton of new customers for Prozac. Likewise, chronic fatigue syndrome was real to its sufferers and natural medicine practitioners, but routinely trivialized by mainstream medicine. Legitimized now with a stuffy new name, “Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease” (SEID), it is classified as a disease and drugs will be given. Sadly, the meds most likely will not address the gut imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities and other root causes.

(c)  Promote screening procedures. For example, mammograms and PSA tests result in more treatment of non-lethal cancers and therefore the use of more chemotherapy drugs. The newest push is genetic testing. (There is little notice paid to the power of nutrition and lifestyle to make genes behave better.) Simply informing people of genetic risk factors can panic them into risky treatments. As pointed out in this New America article, addressing the genetic risk might ultimately cause more deaths if the number who die from the treatments are considered.

  • Spread doubt about natural remedies. Using access to media and authorities, drug companies perpetuate the myth that supplements are neither researched nor regulated. I’ll tackle those issues at a later date.

Please be an informed consumer and watch out for the smoke and mirrors.

Heart health – 10 interesting snippets

Heart health

Happy Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month. There is a month or at least a day honoring virtually every part of the body and every health condition (May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, June is National Aphasia Awareness Month, etc.)…you’d think we’d be healthier by now!  The red symbols of heart health month are second in visibility to the most well-known disease/month—October/Breast Cancer. That is not logical given that heart disease actually kills 5 times as many women as breast cancer. (Click here for info form the Mayo Clinic on heart disease in women and symptoms to watch for.) Pink has simply been marketed much more aggressively.

If you ask the average person (or average doctor for that matter) what it takes to prevent heart disease, they will likely tell you it is about keeping cholesterol down. Unfortunately, that is just a small (and misleading) part of the real picture. If you have family history of heart disease; another reason to worry; or just don’t want to succumb to the biggest risk factor for an early death*, then you might want to read the articles in our Library on Heart Health and/or on Blood Pressure.

Actually, any of the articles in the library on health basics might be useful because the same needs and mistakes seem to be involved in most diseases. The news during disease months usually focuses on invasive testing, exotic procedures and medications rather than educating us about the fundamentals of building health and avoiding risks. I thought the following sampling of factors related to cardiovascular health might help make my point: 

I could list dozens more, but hopefully it is clear that what we do for the rest of the body helps the heart.

*The largest contributor to premature death is not a disease per se, but the side effects of medications and medical mistakes.

Vaccines revisited. More to the measles story.

Doctor Vaccinating Child Baby Flu Injection Shot I

First let me make it clear what I am NOT saying. I’m NOT telling people to refuse vaccines for themselves or their children. I can sympathize with the goals of each side of the debate. I am NOT going to talk about the question of vaccines and the claimed link to autism. However, I just don’t see how a person can make an informed decision without more facts, especially in the face of all the fear-mongering, bulling and shaming that is going on. Intelligent people who ask reasonable questions are belittled and told that there is no legitimate view other than that of those with the bullhorns. My aim here is simply to provide some viable options and food for thought so that we can discuss this issue like adults. Although the excitement today is about measles, the issues below really apply to all immunizations.

Vaccinations in general:

  • A Huffington post article points to renowned and respected medical experts who have concerns about vaccines, but who are routinely ignored by the mainstream media.

Options:

There are more than just the two answers (vaccinate or don’t) that are getting all the coverage. Many serious concerns can be handled by just changing how we immunize:

  • Wait longer to start immunizations. At least wait until infants have the immune capacity to benefit from the shots and deal with the effects.
  • Eliminate one of the risk factors in the vaccines, mercury. It is used as a preservative and an adjuvant (activator). This metal is toxic to the nervous system and shots without it are available.
  • Don’t give several immunization at one time. The problems with shots for Measles, Mumps and Rubella may stem mostly from them being given together as MMR.
  • Consider the homeopathic approach. It has all of the benefits and none of the risk factors of standard vaccines. Visit this site for some of the successful large scale research done on homeoprophylaxis around the world. Click here for our radio interview on the topic. See additional links below under Resources.
  • It seems quite likely that there are certain categories of children who are more susceptible to vaccine side effects, but scientists mask those differences whenever study results are lumped together as large populations. I think there is enough evidence to make it worth looking at least at those who are low in key nutrients (vitamin D, like B vitamins, and magnesium) and those who lack proper gut bacteria.
  • The media must stop pretending that there is no potential harm to vaccines and implying that anyone who asks questions is an idiot. The stories about children being perfectly fine before immunizations and becoming permanent zombies after them may be relatively rare, but they are real and heartbreaking. There obviously is a reason that the government maintains a substantial Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund.

Measles:

Resources:

(Note, if you have an app that rates websites, don’t be surprised if virtually any alternative medicine site is flagged with a warning. It seems likely that drug companies and their so-called quack-busters are responsible for the bad reviews.)


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