News News News
SSRI ANTIDEPRESSANTS INCREASE BLEEDING 200 TO 640 PER CENT
Increased bleeding is a complication that accompanies both NSAID and SSRI use. Dr. Yoon K. Loke of the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England conducted a teleoanalysis of four studies containing 153,000 patients, and 101 case reports to the FDA and concluded that SSRI use more than doubles the risk of upper GI bleeding. If NSAID drugs are also part of the drug regimen, the risk increases by 6.4 times. (Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics; October 5, 2007)
OBESITY'S RELATIONSHIP TO PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS
One cause that has not been evaluated sufficiently in Americaís obesity "epidemic" is the contribution made by prescription antidepressants and "mood stabilizers".
A researcher at Harvard University reports that after 10 years of lithium therapy, two thirds of patients have gained 20 pounds. Eli Lilly documents on Zyprexa indicate that after one year, one third of patients have gained at least 20 pounds, and half of those have gained more than 60 pounds.
Antidepressants have also been linked to weight gain. One In 6 Americans (about 50 million) are prescribed at least one psychotropic drug, and prescriptions of antipsychotics have increased 500% over the past 10 years to teenagers and children.
And, it seems, children are even more likely to gain weight on these drugs than adults.
In the May 2007 Journal of Psychiatry (vol. 164, p.708) it is proposed that obesity be classified as a "mental illness". If this is accepted by the medical community, it is likely that these drugs will be even more widely prescribed, adding to the cycle of weight gain and more "mental illness".
In view of the evidence that antidepressants may work no better than placebo (see the March 2008 newsletter), greater attention to the adverse effects of these drugs is warranted. (New Scientist, March 8, 2008, p 18)
A NEW CYCLE OF FAMINE
Emerging diseases of crops (and animals, see below) will reduce our food supply and multiply the effects of the ill advised movement to grow crops to "feed" our transportation industry.
A wheat disease that could destroy most of the world's main wheat crops could strike south Asia's vast wheat fields two years earlier than research had suggested, leaving millions to starve.
The fungus, called Ug99, has spread from Africa to Iran, and may already be in Pakistan. If so, this is extremely bad news, as Pakistan is not only critically reliant on its wheat crop, it is also the gateway to the Asian breadbasket, including the vital Punjab region.
Prices for wheat have already increased more than 14 per cent since last year, promising very high food prices to come for products which contain wheat. (New Scientist, March 13, 2008 p. 14)
SHEEP AND CATTLE FACE SPREAD OF BLUETONGUE
A cold resistant form of a virus which causes bluetongue disease has spread from Belgium into Germany, France and Switzerland in only 2 years. It has spread to Southern England this year, and is expected to soon reach Scotland and Ireland, where it will affect the vast numbers of herds in these countries, slowing growth, and reducing fertility and milk production. (New Scientist, March 8, 2007 p. 12)
STUDY THROWS LIGHT ON PLACEBO EFFECT
A placebo analgesic was found not only to subjectively alleviate symptoms of pain but was objectively observed to stimulate the bodyís endogenous opioid system, releasing endorphins. (The Journal of Neuroscience; August 24, 2005: 25(34), 7754-7762).
FDA ISSUES WARNING ON PAIN RISKS OF BIPHOSPHONATES
Fosamax, Boniva, Didronel, Actonel, Skelid, Reclast, and Zomenta, drugs which are used to treat osteoporosis, have been found to cause severe and even incapacitating pain in patients, and physicians were reminded of this in a January 7th Medwatch alert from the FDA.
The risk factors and incidence rate remains unknown. Other side effects thought to be associated with these drugs are atrial fibrillation and death of bone, known as osteonecrosis.
Osteoporosis "experts" were quick to defend the increasingly widespread use of this drug. Robert Recker, M.D., director of the Osteoporosis Center at Creighton University in Nebraska stated that "The truth is, biphosphonates are among the safest drugs we prescribe in osteoporosis". (American Medical News, January 28, 2008, p. 30)
Perhaps Dr. Recker should consider using Vitamin D, mineral supplementation, and weight bearing exercise instead.
FETUSES CAN REPAIR MATERNAL BRAINS
In mice at least, stray stem cells from a growing fetus appear to be able to repair damage in their motherís brain. Previous research has shown that fetal stem cells that cross the placental barrier can survive for decades in the skin, liver and spleen of the mother and repair damage there. (New Scientist, 19 August 2005, page 8).
FOLIC ACID HELPS THE MIDDLE-AGED BRAIN
A Dutch study which gave a folic acid supplement (800 micrograms daily) or a placebo for three years, found that those who took the folic acid achieved memory improvements equivalent to being 5.4 years younger along with improvements in information processing (2 years) and sensory motor speed (1.9 years).
Folic acid is found naturally in beans and legumes, citrus fruits, wheat bran and other whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, poultry, pork, shellfish and liver. (Alzheimerís Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia, Washington, 2005).
ANXIETY AND THE HEART
Researchers who found a relationship between anxiety and the risk of heart attack suggest that for older men "moderately elevated anxiety is associated with a modest risk of MI, and severe anxiety represents an MI risk that may warrant clinical attention."
This confirms the experience of Chinese medical practitioners, for whom anxiety is a form of "liver qi stagnation", often associated with a lack of free flow of blood as well as qi.
In fact, the researchers may be handicapped by their linear perspective, as anxiety may also be a result from early stage disorders of the heart that will later lead to a myocardial infarction. (J. Amer. Col. Cardiology, 2008;51:113-119)
OBESITY & DEMENTIA
Obesity in the middle years (40 to 45) increases the risk of developing dementia later in life. In a study of 10,276 adults, those who were obese had a 74% greater risk of dementia than those of normal body mass index, with a 35% greater risk for the merely overweight. (BMJ 2005 330: 1360)
PRESCRIBING HEROIN TO ADDICTS CUTS COST AND CRIME
In a Dutch experiment, 430 heroin addicts were randomly assigned to receive either methadone plus heroin or methadone alone for one year.
The heroin group demonstrated a higher quality of life and the increased cost of prescribing the heroin was more than offset by the lower costs of law enforcement and criminal activity. (British Medical Journal: http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/330/7503/1297)
NSAIDS INCREASE HEART ATTACK RISK
Following hot on the trail of news that Vioxx and other Cox2 inhibitors significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, has come evidence that older non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, including ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin), are also associated with such risk. (BMJ; 2005:1342-1343, doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7504.1342)
SYMPTOMS RETURN AFTER HRT
There have been more negative findings from the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) portion of the Womenís Health Initiative (WHI) study, which was stopped in 2002 after it was found that taking estrogen-plus-progestin for menopausal symptoms appeared to increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.
The new study investigated 8,400 women who were still taking either estrogen plus progestin or a placebo when the WHI was stopped and had been taking the pills for an average of 5.7 years.
21.2% of the women taking HRT reported a return of hot flushes, vaginal dryness and night sweats compared to 4.8% of women in the placebo group. (JAMA. 2005;294:183-193)
SEVERE PROBLEMS FOR VERY PREMATURE BABIES
Survival rates for extremely low birth weight babies (ELBW = birth weight 500 to 999g, mean gestational age 25 to 26 weeks) increased dramatically between the 1980s (49%) and 1990s (67%).
However there has also been an increase in a whole variety of health problems among the babies who survived 1990s birth, compared to those who survived birth in the 1980s, including rates of sepsis (from 37% to 51%), periventricular leukomalacia (2 to 7%), chronic lung disease (32 to 43%), cerebral palsy (16 to 25%) and deafness (3 to 7%).
Total neurodevelopmental impairment rates increased from 26% to 36%. (Pediatrics, Apr 2005; 115: 997-1003). A study by the same authors of ELBW babies at age eight has also identified considerable long-term health and educational needs.
Apart from neurosensory handicaps such as cerebral palsy and blindness, 34% showed cognitive, emotional or physical delays, 40% had trouble communicating or understanding instructions, and more than half needed special services for chronic problems. (JAMA. 2005; 294:318-325).
BREAST CANCER & DEPRESSION
According to Chinese medicine, many disorders of the breast relate to stagnation of Liver qi which is frequently linked to depression.
New research has now confirmed a relationship of depression and breast cancer. An Iranian study observed 3000 women attending a breast cancer screening clinic in Tehran over a two-year period, during which time 243 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
In addition to confirming the known risk factors for breast cancer (family history and an early menarche), they also found a strong association between breast cancer and depression, anxiety, a feeling of hopelessness and loss of interest and pleasure in life.
Women who were depressed and hopeless had almost twice the risk of developing breast cancer than happier women even after allowing for the other known risk factors. (Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 5, No. 3, July-Sept. 2004, pp. 316-19).
ALLERGIES SOAR IN THE USA
More than half the US population was allergic to one or more of ten allergens according to data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) carried out between 1988 and 1994.
Of 10,500 individuals given allergy skin tests, 27.5% were sensitive to dust mite, 26.9% to perennial rye, 26.2% to short ragweed, 26.1% to German cockroach, 18.1% to Bermuda grass, 17.0% to cats, 15.2% to Russian thistle, 13.2% to white oak, 12.9% to Alternaria alternata, and 8.6% to peanuts.
For the six allergens common to NHANES III and NHANES II, carried out between 1976 and 1980, the prevalence of allergy was 2.1 to 5.5 times higher, although differences in skin test procedures may account for some of this rise. (Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, 116 (2); 377-383).
"What Were They Thinking?" Department
THE SAME EMPTY PROMISES EVERY ELECTION SEASON
How is it possible that in a country as diverse as ours, with legions of talented and accomplished citizens, that the only choices possible for high political office are offered from a pool of multi millionaire lawyers?
It is ironic to hear so much babble from newsreaders and the candidates themselves about the quality of their "experience". With regard to the practice of medicine, the record shows that the only experience that all these candidates have in common is the experience of creating mischief.
Decades of experiment with government control has provided an impersonal and ineffectual medical industrial complex and created enormous inefficiency and expense. The result has also been an increase in suffering and death consequent to third party interference into the patient physician relationship.
For those candidates who suggest they have solutions to improve health care, letís see some evidence. They are all already in the Congress, so how is it that they have never been able to demonstrate how well their solutions will work when applied to the single payer systems that they have already crafted, such as the Veteranís Administration System, Medicaid, or Medicare?
A small demonstration project would at least provide some evidence that these lawyers know something about solving the problems they have already created, instead of the vague promises that are provided during fund raisers, stump speeches, and farcical "debates".
Can anyone believe that once in the executive branch, that these incompetents will suddenly become wiser and smarter and more capable of doing the opposite of what each has spent their career doing in the legislative?
For example, there are now about 150,000 pages of Medicare regulations and mandates. A vast and expensive bureaucracy is required to administer and enforce this system, create oceans of paperwork, and provide layers of obstructions to patient care. Even though Medicare is mandatory and supposedly all inclusive, it is so inadequate that patients are forced to purchase "medigap" insurance at considerable extra expense and yet more confusion.
Congress has predictably "reformed" medigap insurance regulations, and of course there is another confusing add-on with Part "D" passed in 2006. Thanks to that program, seniors have another 1,413 plans across the country to choose from to try to obtain their overpriced and side effect laden drugs. In addition, there are 1,649 Medicare "Advantage" plans offering drug benefits in thousands of local markets.
And, these are not "benefits" but programs that have to be paid for separately by enrollees.
Despite increasing evidence of inadequate care, all of these single payer systems are still going broke.
Even more astonishing, the Medicare program is just as confusing and hostile to physicians who want to provide medical care to our over 65 citizens.
Physicians who want to participate in Medicare have to comply with those 150,000 pages of arcane and constantly changing regulations. Congressionally mandated price controls on payments, but not overhead, threatens the financial well being of their practices.
Thanks to the Kennedy-Kasselbaum legislation passed in 1996, should a bureaucrat somewhere in the Medicare system decide that a treatment or test was "unnecessary", physicians participating in Medicare face felony prosecution and jail time.
Most doctors donít have the resources or time to contest these arbitrary decisions in court or through an appeal process that has already been rigged by the bureaucrats. Doing so means they face even further financial risk as well as those criminal sanctions. What a wonderful system! Is there any wonder that fewer and fewer physicians will accept new Medicare patients?
On these problems of "universal care", the candidates have all remained mum. It is easier to tell lies and offer platitudes than to face up to the problems which they and their Congressional colleagues have created over the past 60 years.
We Already Have a Single Payer System
The fact is, there is already a single payer for all medical care in this country. That payer is you. Ultimately, all of the funding for everyoneís medical care comes from you, either directly, or through your payment of taxes. Businesses donít pay for medical care, though they add another layer of inefficiency that drives up the price.
"Cost sharing" or "shared responsibility" are just more lies made up by politicians and their fat cat friends.
Businesses who pay for part of the medical bills or "insurance" of their employees ultimately recover their expenses by withholdings in the paychecks of its employees. They pass them along to consumers by factoring them into the price of its products. You pay again, on both counts.
But, thanks to Congressional ineptitude and greed, in addition you are forced to pay even more for the profits of wealthy companies to dole out a tiny percentage of what you have paid, back to you and your physicians, while creating a tangle of regulations and obstructions.
Just as with government medicine, the existence of a bloated and complicated third party regulatory system in the private sector interferes with treatment and creates unnecessary and unjustified expense.
Increasing percentages of a physician's time is spent complying with these regulations. There is only so much time in a workday, so that time comes out of your visit, and distracts your doctor from actually dealing with your problem. As noted in these pages elsewhere, much of medical practice now consists of generating "procedure" codes to submit to third party payers. There are no "results" codes, so there is no incentive whatsoever in our system for doctors to actually solve your medical problems.
Most doctors would actually like to help you feel better. They want to apply all the skills they learned during their long and demanding training. But very soon after entering the "real world" of "medicine as a business", most realize that they are not working for you.
To get along in the "system" and remain financially viable, they have to please their masters and beg them for a trickle of cash flow to pay their expenses and staff. To do this, they have to see patients in shorter intervals to satisfy the billing system-lords. The cost and expense of specially trained coding and billing staff are added to overhead, though these donít add any value to medical care.
Think about it. As the single payer, you are already on the hook for all the expenses of your physician, his staff, his overhead, and those of the hospitals, clinics, and their staff and equipment.
Ultimately, all of the costs for drugs, surgical devices and their research and development have to come from you.
That is a pretty big bill, but at least the American people could potentially get what they pay for. If there were a free market, we could demand accountability and reward those who provide better service, just as in unregulated businesses.
But politicians have larded on top of these considerable expenses all the much larger costs that are funneled to regulatory bureaucracies and into the coffers of the fat-cat corporate buddies of the Legislative branch. Moreover, their monkey work has disconnected the natural alliance of patient and physician as they have removed any leverage that you might have once had to choose the most appropriate course of care .
Of course, these corporate beneficiaries are mighty contributors to election campaigns, ensuring that only those who see the world through fat-cat eyes can even think about running for office.
Citizens have been hearing these same lies from politicians for decades, with the result that most people cannot afford all the third party profits that legislation has created. Hiding these amounts under the rubric of "health care costs", instead of "Congressionally mandated inefficiency" is a convenient fallacy.
Predictably, as total costs have ballooned, the call goes up from the candidates that we need everyone to contribute more to insurance company profits by championing mandatory "health insurance for everyone".
Given their track records, no matter which of the three candidates that have been selected for your approval actually becomes president, the system will be worse in four years.