News News News
VITAMIN D REDUCES CANCER RISK IN WOMEN OVER 55
For many years we have recommended that all patients increase their vitamin D supplementation. This misnamed substance is actually a hormone with primary focus on bone metabolism.
Retrospective studies have suggested a role for vitamin D in preventing cancer. A well designed prospective study lasting four years has shown a 23% relative risk reduction for non skin cancers in women over 55 taking 1000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily.
Because of the very low risk that taking vitamin D entails, we think patients of all ages should consider a supplement, as it would take 10 cups of fortified milk or 10.5 ounces of oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel or herring) to provide 1000 IU. (Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2007; 85:1586-1587)
THE UNITED KINGDOM WEIGHS IN
A two year study funded by the government of the UK has determined that the cause of obesity in the United Kingdom is a reflection of too little activity and a "glut of food".
I hope the taxpayers on this island nation won't feel they have to eat an extra dessert to make them feel better about supporting fat cat academicians for two years to obtain this tiny headed report.
The Foresight Report, released in October 2007, also suggests that people are fat now because "our bodies evolved to cope with food scarcity and hard physical work, we've been caught out by the glut of food and lack of exercise characteristic of modern western life so we put on weight without realizing it until it's too late."
The report also forecasts that at current rates, 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women and 25 per cent of children will be "obese" by 2050, costing the National Health Service an extra 45.5 billion UK pounds a year.
A scientific working group has been appointed to "urgently prepare a national action plan." (New Scientist, October 20, 2007 p. 7)
It is hardly possible to believe the report's conclusion that evolution is responsible for our increasing mass when one considers how much of this change has occurred over only the past 25 years: it is much more likely that hormone-like chemical pollution and a heavily marketed, centralized, pharmaceutically manipulated food supply, are more responsible.
A heads-up to our friends in Great Britain: don't depend on academicians to solve this evolving crisis for you, if this report is any indication.
WHY WE HAVE DOGS AT THE OFFICE
Well, we like to have them around. In addition to the evidence that dog owners may be less likely to develop heart disease and depression, children may also benefit from a furry companion.
A new study from the University of Western Australia in Crawley followed almost a thousand 4-6 year olds over a six week period. They found 30 per cent less diarrhea, nausea and vomiting in children who had a cat or dog in their household. (Epidemiology and Infection, vol. 134, p. 926).
A previous study has shown that children living with at least two animals are 77% less likely to develop allergy. (New Scientist, 9/7/02 p. 24).
The risks also have to be considered: inbreeding and evil owners have increased the aggressiveness in some dogs, activating the dangerous predatory traits of their ancestors.
Parents who don't teach their children responsible pet ownership, or don't practice it themselves, are another vast source of suffering.
SQUEEZED BY INSURANCE COMPANY BOTTLENECKS, DOCTORS’ FUTILE HOPE FOR FEDERAL HELP
One of the most difficult aspects of any medical practice is managing cash flow. Doctors who depend on third party payers have found that they are unable to meet payroll and expenses when "insurers" delay or deny payment for claims.
All 50 states have some form of law penalizing health "insurers" for late payments, but they can effectively ignore these laws because "they dominate the market in most communities", says Cecil B Wilson, immediate past chair of the AMA Board of Trustees.
In 2007, the AMA found that in 299 of 313 metropolitan areas a single insurance company controlled at least 30% of the total market, at least 70% in 74 areas, and at least 90% in 15 areas.
Individual doctors and small practices have no leverage over these giant corporations and so as they become insolvent or forced into early retirement, they are being replaced by industrial style assembly line medicine at the mega-clinics and the new retail health care model.
The U.S. Justice Department has placed conditions on only two of 400 health insurance industry mergers in the past 10 years but has quickly quashed as "anti-competitive" physician attempts to collectively oppose price fixing by "insurers".
"What is needed", says the AMA. "is a tough federal law penalizing insurance companies that delay payment." (American Medical News November 5, 2007)
Since 50 different state laws are not working, one wonders why the AMA thinks that results will be different at the Federal level.
Lobbying for such a law will certainly increase the cash flow to lobbyists and Congress, and will employ lots of lawyers, happy news for the AMA.
But, the much more direct and logical alternative, that of dismantling the corrupted and vastly expensive third party "insurance" industry, thereby placing decision making and economics back into the hands of patients and physicians, would never occur to the bureaucracy-loving, fat-cat supporting American Medical Association.
QUERCETIN AND CHEST INFECTIONS
Patients who feel they are more vulnerable to viral and other illnesses when they are "run down" have something in common with combat soldiers and elite athletes.
Prolonged periods of emotional and physical stress are so dangerous to the health of soldiers that the Pentagon is funding research into prevention.
In a study designed to test the benefit of quercetin, a bioflavonoid found in oaks, apples, and many fruits, forty cyclists were pushed to their limits everyday for three weeks, with a goal to study the subsequent chest infections that are often found in combat troops.
In the group given 1 gram daily of quercetin there was one chest infection in the two week post-exercise period, whereas in the control group there were nine.
Quercetin may interfere with viral and bacterial replication, theorizes David Neiman, who ran the study. There was no indication of toxicity. (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (Link), as reported in New Scientist Sept. 15-21, 2007 p 10)
MEDICARE WANTS SIX WAYS TO MANIPULATE PAYMENTS
Complicating an already convoluted method for determining payment, (the relative value scale) Congress passed a provision on August 1st, 2007 that will create six different relative value scales that can be manipulated to maximize confusion for anyone trying to determine what the government will pay for patient care.
The wise plutocrats in Congress have previously determined that there is a "sustainable growth rate formula" for government mandated health care. Now, after years of expertly crafting a system so Byzantine that Satan himself couldn't understand it, they have determined that six relative value multipliers are better than one.
And how do they know it will be better? Evidence based practice is only for physicians, not legislators. More likely is the formation of six new bureaucracies with all the red tape and unnecessary expense that government provides. (American Medical News: Sept 10, 2007 p. 5)
GREEN TEA POLYPHENOLS BEST FROM THE BEVERAGE
Chung Yang of Rutgers University has suggested that very high levels of the polyphenols found in green tea may cause liver damage. Some supplements have 50 times as much polyphenols as a cup of green tea, and have caused reversible liver damage in people. (Chemical Research in Toxicology, vol. 20, p. 583)
SMOKING DAMAGES GRANDCHILDREN
It is known that the children of mothers who smoke whilst pregnant are more likely to develop asthma, and this recently published study confirms this, as well as the fact that stopping smoking before becoming pregnant appears to eliminate the risk.
What this study further found, however, is that children whose grandmothers smoked when pregnant with their mothers were also more likely to develop asthma, even if their mothers did not smoke. If their mothers also smoked, the risk was even greater. The authors of the study speculate that smoking may damage either the eggs or the mitochondrial DNA of a female fetus. (Chest. 2005;127:1232-1241).
Contrary to long-standing medical advice, it appears that people with mild persistent asthma who only use corticosteroids when their symptoms worsen, fare just as well as those who follow treatment guidelines and use them every day, in terms of the number of severe asthma attacks they suffer, changes in lung function and quality of life.
The guidelines for intermittent use of corticosteroids were: being awakened by symptoms of asthma three or more times in a two week period or on two consecutive nights, relief from an inhaler containing salbutamol lasting less than four hours, or use of salbutamol inhalers for relief of symptoms daily for more than seven days.
If a larger and longer study confirmed the results and patients with mild asthma switched to attacks-only treatment, about $2 billion a year would be saved on medication in the United States. (New England Journal of Medicine 2005;352:1519-28).
Xerostomia (dry mouth) is a common result of radiation for head and neck cancer as well as a consequence of medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants and diuretics.
A small study which treated seven patients suffering from xerostomia after radiation for head and neck cancer has confirmed previous studies which have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture for this condition.
Eight months after treatment (once a week for 405 weeks then 2 or 3 biweekly treatments) all seven reported a reduction in dry mouth symptoms, increased saliva flow and improvements in eating, speaking and sleeping. (Academy of General Dentistry).
ANIMAL CONDITIONS FOSTER HUMAN ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE
Increasing evidence that antibiotic resistance in farm animals can be transmitted to bacteria in humans was presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in September.
Experiments have shown that genetic material that codes for resistance to antibiotics can pass from bacteria living in pigs and chickens into the genes of bacteria that inhabit human beings. An important contributing factor is likely the unnatural foods and living conditions we provide these animals. (JAMA November 14th, 2007 vol 298 no. 18 p 2125)
ACUPUNCTURE HELPS OVERACTIVE BLADDER
A study of 74 women who suffered from an overactive bladder (frequent urination, urinary incontinence, and reduced bladder capacity and urinary volume) randomly assigned the women to either an acupuncture protocol directed at the urinary symptoms, or an acupuncture protocol designed simply to promote urination (in this study referred to as a placebo group).
Women in both groups had a significant decrease in the number of incontinent episodes (59% for the treatment group and 40% for the placebo, a non-significant difference). The treatment group however showed a significantly greater reduction in urinary frequency and urgency and a significantly greater increase in maximum voided volume and maximum cystometric capacity.
Both groups had an improvement in a urinary stress inventory and incontinence impact questionnaire scores, with a significantly greater benefit in the treatment group. (Obstetrics & Gynecology 2005;106:138-143).
ACUPUNCTURE HELPS ADDICTS
Acupuncture has been found to reduce drug use and withdrawal symptoms in a study carried out in Vancouver, Canada. 2,755 treatments were given on a voluntary drop-in basis at two clinics in the city.
Patients who presented for treatment every ten days to two weeks demonstrated a significant reduction in drug use and a reduction in withdrawal symptoms including shakes, stomach cramps, hallucinations, confusion, insomnia, muscle aches, nausea, sweating, heart palpitations and suicidal feelings. (J Urban Health 2005 82: 285-295).
"What Were They Thinking?" Department
BEHIND THE FRONT LINES: STRATEGY FAILURES AFFECT BOTH MEDICINE AND WARFARE
There is a striking similarity between the failure of the "top down" strategies of our present military establishment and those of the medical industrial complex. Exclusive dependence on these strategies has failed to provide answers for the problems they purport to solve.
Isolated and insulated from reality, centralized, stand off management has reduced the United States to an ineffectual third rate military power, and the same collectivist perspective has resulted in a fourth rate medical system.
A bloated and parasitic third party regulatory and payment structure has created the most expensive medical system in the world, costing more than $6,000.00 per person in the U.S. and consuming more than 16% of the gross domestic product in 2005.
Our life expectancy is 45th in the world, and our infant mortality rate is higher than in most developed countries, and some undeveloped ones, including Cuba. Indeed, our medical system may itself be a major cause of mortality, even as the Institute of Medicine estimated in 2000 that 100,000 people die yearly from just hospital medication errors.
Even United Health Care, a pillar of the establishment and major benefactor of the status quo, advertised in the Wall Street Journal on March 19th, 2007, that "The health system isn't healthy. There's no denying it. A system that was designed to make you feel better often just make things worse."
In reality of course, our "system" was never designed to make you "feel better", but rather to maximize profits for fat cats like United Health Care, so their advertising is an astonishing admission by an instigator.
THE WAR METAPHOR
Cliché'd metaphors comparing medicine to warfare are endlessly mouthed by the media footpads of our medical industrial complex, and common language reflects this somewhat overused symbology.
Heroic images of "fighting the war on... cancer, diabetes, drug abuse, obesity", or whatever, are ubiquitous, and in just the same manner patients are portrayed as "victims" or "survivors": This mischaracterization may make for stirring drama, but real progress against suffering cannot be achieved by such propaganda alone.
If we are losing both the "war on disease" and the "war on terrorism", is it possible that the same tactical errors are responsible for both these failures?
The reasons for the collapse of medical care in this country are not a mystery. A lack of strategic goals and a refusal to even consider asking the correct questions to clarify the problem at hand has resulted in our present disarray, just as it has for our foreign policy.
Politicians and medical fat cats always claim that more money, in the form of expensive centralized regulation, is the "solution". They are afraid to address the more important question of "what are we getting for our money?"
Instead of demanding that everyone pay a high price so a few fat cats can become multi millionaires, policymakers should be asking how to unravel the centralized control of health care that has served our country so poorly.
And, instead of asking, "who should pay?" (the only question that politicians debate) we should be asking, "what is worth paying for?"
In many cases, the Oriental emphasis on problem solving and patient-and-physician centered medical care provides a more efficient, less expensive, and more effective method for relieving suffering.
It also utilizes low technology methods (less profits for the medical industrial complex) and is harder to regulate and standardize, as individualized analysis and treatment is necessary to deal with an ever changing situation.
And, the same strategy would be just as beneficial were it to be applied to primary care medicine in the U.S.
In warfare the Oriental model has also proven to be the more successful. Low technology, guerrilla based warfare has trumped our expensive and inflexible high technology systems.
Our clumsy and poorly targeted use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction has created incredible levels of collateral damage, destroying any chance of internal support from factions and populations once sympathetic to our position.
One would think that our dismal military record following World War II would cause military "experts" to question their inability to overcome a less trained and equipped enemy. Yet, the lesson of the Soviet Union's defeat by Afghani fighters and our own experience in Viet Nam has been ignored, resulting in the present quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The failure of the United States military to achieve its objectives parallel those of the failure of government based health care. Not one politician or military expert has been able to enunciate a clear strategy or understandable objectives for our military forces. So also for health care.
In Tactics of the Crescent Moon, Militant Muslim Combat Methods (see below), H. John Poole clearly describes the reasons for our military failure. He makes a compelling argument for adopting the same low technology tactics and hard to pin down strategies utilized by our enemies.
Mr. Poole recommends flexible and mobile light infantry forces, unencumbered by behind the lines second guessing and outdated tactical training.
"Why the Pentagon pays more attention to weaponry than tactics probably has more do with political economics than with military strategy. Perennially at the top of the list are aircraft, missiles, and large caliber guns... They have difficulty envisioning a way of war that might require little, if any control from above. They assume that U.S. ground forces have been tactically evolving as quickly as their Eastern counterparts. Unfortunately, many of their assumptions are wrong."
"The American enlistee primarily learns how to use his equipment and follow orders. He is not shown the state of the art for individual and small unit maneuver. Instead he is conditioned to follow--to the letter of the law--squad tactics manuals that haven’t significantly changed in 50 years. He is at a considerable disadvantage in any one-on-one encounter with his woods-wise Eastern counterpart."
"In other words, the U.S. Infantryman lives in a doctrinally driven, "top-down" training environment. Such and environment cannot match the learning dynamics of its experimentally driven, "bottom-up" antithesis. Unfortunately, most Eastern armies, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda all follow the latter." (p. 233-235)
The failure of our medical system has the same origin: a lack of confidence and support for "bottom-up" practices and distrust of the experience and expertise of the "soldiers in the trenches": physicians at the front line of practice.
Regulation from the top has been a spectacular failure. Centralized edicts and medicine by committee, that also haven’t "significantly changed in 50 years", have led to our present disaster of a system.
How many more must die or suffer before faulty analysis and outdated and ineffectual strategies are corrected? The military and the medical establishment both need to rethink their positions.