News News News
LOW TESTOSTERONE & EARLIER DEATH
In a five-year study, low testosterone levels in men over 40 were found to be associated with an up to 88% increased rate of mortality (prostate cancer excluded). Low serum testosterone is associated with reduced muscle mass and insulin resistance and can decrease due to aging, acute and chronic illnesses and with some medications. (Low Serum Testosterone and Mortality in Male Veterans. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1660_1665).
EFFECT OF ACUPUNCTURE OF ALZHEIMER’S BRAINS
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been used to examine the brains of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) patients before and after acupuncture treatment.
Twenty-six AD patients underwent fMRI while receiving acupuncture at four points - Shenmen HT-7, Zusanli ST-36, Fenglong ST-40 and Taixi KID-3. The results demonstrated activation in the right hemisphere (temporal lobe, hippocampal gyrus, insula, and areas of the parietal lobe) and left hemisphere (temporal lobe, parietal lobule, and some regions of the cerebellum).
The regions activated by these acupoints were found to be consistent with brain areas that are impaired in AD patients, and which correlate with cognitive functions (memory, reason, language, executive function). The authors suggest that acupuncture might exert a potential therapeutic effect on AD via this mechanism. (Effect of acupuncture given at the HT 7, ST 36, ST 40 and KI 3 acupoints on various parts of the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Acupunct Electrother Res. 2008;33(1-2):9-17).
AS PURE AS MOUNTAIN SPRING WATER?
Despite the mythology that spring water is somehow more pristine than other sources, a recent study demonstrated up to 20 per cent of water pumped from Swiss groundwater aquifers had made its way there from domestic waste water. (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17116-swiss-find-sweet-way-to-test-water-purity.html)
ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE LESSONS
A team of researchers from UK has compared the effectiveness of exercise, massage, and the Alexander technique (AT) for the relief of back pain over a one-year period. 579 patients with chronic back pain were randomized to receive normal care, six massage sessions, six AT lessons, or 24 AT lessons. Half of the patients from each of the groups were also prescribed exercise (brisk walking for 30 minutes per day five times a week).
The results showed that, one year from the start of the trial, AT lessons combined with exercise continued to significantly reduce pain and improve function. Massage provided short-term benefit, but this did not last beyond three months. After one year, those who had received 24 AT lessons reported 18 fewer days of back pain over the preceding four weeks, compared with those receiving normal care. Six AT lessons, followed by exercise were found to have nearly as much benefit (72%) as 24 AT lessons alone.
In addition, patients receiving Alexander technique lessons reported improved quality of life. (Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain. BMJ. 2008;337:a884).
ARE SUNSCREENS A SCAM?
Skin cancer rates have continued to rise in this country since the mid-1970s despite the widespread use of sunscreens. Even though many sunscreen manufacturers would have you believe otherwise, there is not adequate scientific data to support the belief that sunscreens prevent skin cancer. In fact, they may even increase the risk of cancer. A false sense of security can lead to excessive sun exposure, and sunscreens do not protect against all of the radiation that causes damage. Longer exposure to cancer causing ultraviolet “A” waves may be the result.
Also of concern, research has shown that five of the most popular chemicals used in sunscreens, lipsticks, and cosmetics to block UV rays are xenoestrogens (they behave like estrogen) and they make estrogen-dependent breast and uterine cancer cells grow more rapidly in test animals. It would be a safe bet that they are also implicated in prostate cancer as well. If you want to check your sunscreens and cosmetics, the chemicals involved are octyldimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA), benzophenone-3 (Bp-3), homo salate (HMS), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC), and 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC). (http://www.drdavidwilliams.com)
WHERE IS THE VALUE FOR THE MONEY?
It will cost the “typical” U.S. family of four $16,711.00 to enjoy the benefits of our bureaucracy heavy, fat cat friendly medical system in 2009, according to actuarial firm Milliman, Inc. (Family Practice News. June 15, 2009, p. 49)
THE “HIDDEN HEALTH TAX” UNCOVERED
To pay for “uncompensated” medical care, the average family pays $1,017.00 in “hidden health tax” a year, according to a report from Families USA. (http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/publications/reports/hidden-health-tax.html) In a statement accompanying the release of the report, Senator Max Baucus (D. Montana) stated that “As this report shows, that hidden tax will only continue to grow unless we do something about it. That’s why I’m committed to passing comprehensive health care reform this year.” (Family Practice News June 15, 2009, p. 56)
The “average family” will find that Washington’s version of “reform” will cost far more, and the tax to pay for it will no longer be “hidden”, but will be right upfront on your Federal and State tax forms. Ron Williams, the chairman and chief executive officer of Aetna Inc., said that the report answers a question many consumers have, “which is, ‘Why does my premium go up?’ ”
Certainly not to maintain your fat cat salary and bonuses, Mr. Williams, nor could it be the cost of all the personnel and infrastructure that it takes to maintain the parasitic third party medical system that now costs the average family more than $16,000.00 a year.
ANOTHER INDICATION OF A SYSTEM WIDE FAILURE
An analysis of Medicare claims during 2003-2004 indicates that the readmission rate for patients is 31.1% in the first 60 days after being discharged from a hospital. The rate in 1976-1978, in contrast, was 22.5%. Vast sums spent on health care and technology has not seemed to have made any difference in this indication of unresolved medical problems. An editorial in the June 1st Family Practice News suggests one reason for this worsening is a breakdown in continuity of care as a result of the increase of “hospitalists” who manage patients in the hospital, but then discharge the patient to the dwindling numbers of primary care doctors without any notification.
The abysmal level of communication between doctors of differing specialties and the lack of medical continuity for most patients has historically contributed to these sorts of problems, but increasing specialization and a belief in the value of a “team” approach to medicine has increased the number of people who are without any meaningful follow up care after they leave hospitalization. Never once in almost 30 years of practice has a hospital based specialist contacted me for information regarding a patient under my care.
CHINESE HOSPITAL SYSTEM SHORTCOMINGS
A group of Chinese reporters tested local hospitals by visiting as patients complaining of urinary symptoms and submitting tea instead of urine samples. Six out of ten hospitals in Hangzhou visited by the reporters concluded that the patients' had urinary tract infections for which they prescribed medication costing up to 400 Yuan ($50). (China News Service. http://www.chinanews.com).
ICD-10 EQUALS 10 TIMES THE COMPLEXITY AND COST
The American Academy of Professional Coders has suggested a five year training period to prepare physicians for the vastly more complex International Classification of Disease version 10, which has 120,000 disease and diagnostic codes, in contrast with the present ICD 9’s 13,600 codes. (Medical Economics June 19, 2009 p. 9)
For example, now there is one code for repair of an artery. In ICD 10, there will be 295. Having 294 more ways to deny payment will certainly be a boon for insurers, and will ensure full employment for “professional coders”, but for the patient and their physician, both of whom are solely interested in whether the bleeding has stopped, this vast bureaucratic enterprise will provide little value. As an added boost for the economy, most electronic billing and medical record systems will require replacement or at least a very expensive upgrade.
INSURED SKIPPING CARE NONETHELESS
For various reasons, one out of four patients who have insurance is not getting recommended medical care. There are many reasons why providing every citizen with “insurance” will not improve people’s health, including a shortage of capable physicians, ineffective treatments, and a difficult to navigate system, as well as the expense of co-payments and prescriptions. http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/22/news/economy/healthcare_workerssurvey/index.htm?postversion=2009052713
Ed. note: Even people with plentiful resources and extensive 3rd party coverage are finding that merely having money does not ensure that they will be able to obtain satisfactory or effective medical care. Even a certificate for free care would be useless when there are no physicians who are worth seeing, or when hospital or pharmaceutical policies render them incapable of providing effective services.
LANTUS INSULIN MAY INCREASE RISK OF CANCER
FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients that it is aware of four recently-published observational studies that looked at the use of Lantus (insulin glargine) and possible risk for cancer in patients with diabetes.
Three of the four studies suggest an increased risk for cancer associated with use of Lantus. Based on the currently available data, the FDA recommends that patients should not stop taking their insulin therapy without consulting a physician, since uncontrolled blood sugar levels can have both immediate and long-term serious adverse effects. (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=aQxIxuyphsg0w.fda.gov)
ACUPUNCTURE BENEFITS IMMUNITY
Japanese researchers have investigated the effect of acupuncture on the human immune system. They measured CD-positive cell counts and cytokine expression levels in the peripheral blood of fifteen healthy volunteers before and after acupuncture, to determine the activity of T cells, B cells, macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells.
There was a statistically significant increase in the number of CD2 (+), CD4 (+), CD8 (+), CD11b (+), CD16 (+), CD19 (+), CD56 (+) cells as well as IL-4, IL-1beta and IFN-gamma levels in the cells after stimulation of acupuncture points. These observations indicate that acupuncture may regulate the immune system and promote the activities of humoral and cellular immunity as well as NK cell activity. (Acupuncture Regulates Leukocyte Subpopulations in Human Peripheral Blood. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007 Dec;4(4):447-453).
"Is Anyone Thinking?" Department
Here It Comes
Surely we don't want to live with a system like the one pictured above. It is an early version of the plan that our elected betters have designed to "reform" a health system that has been destroyed by these same elitists or their predecessors.
Just click on the picture, if you dare, to see a chart that you can read easily. That's me at the right, though I have been transformed into a politically correct "woman of color". I'm smiling, because all of my thinking and all of my actions are going to be determined by the wise and all-knowing members of Congress and several hundred thousand bureaucrats, I won't have to worry about figuring out anything for myself. I'll be so busy trying to determine who to report to and which standards to comply with, that I won't have any time for silly distractions like diagnosis and treatment.
That's you on the left. You get to pay for all this with a vast increase in taxes. You will also be the "beneficiary" that receives your allotted portion of medical "care". It will be standardized care that will be perfect for everyone, whether you are a 110 pound woman of Japanese descent, or a 180 pound Irish steelworker. If you think navigating the present health care system is difficult, just wait till you see how it will be when these untested proposals finally become law.
Of course, to obtain this wonderful system there will have to be some sacrifices. Only a few of these have been spelled out so far in the 2000 pages of legislation that is presently under consideration.
Our elected representative want us to have all sorts of benefits, and the list is growing. Every practitioner in America wants their services to be covered, and those with sufficent cash to establish influence will be certain that Congress sends some federal funds their way.
Of course there are provisions for prescription drugs, mental-health benefits, and substance-abuse services, as well as a mandate that "children" be covered until they reach the age of 26.
The bills would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to add to the list of required benefits, based on recommendations from a committee of "experts". Americans won't know what's in their plans and what they're going to pay for, directly or indirectly, until after the bills become law.
You won't be able to create a high deductible plan for yourself and choose to spend less. You won't be allowed to fashion a more expensive plan if you desire to have access to non-goverment approved programs or need specialized treatment. You will be forced to accept a level of care that government employees will determine. You won't be able to keep your existing plan, and health savings accounts are likely to lose their tax advantages or be prohibited altogether.
Employer based plans, presently tax free, are likely to be taxed, and many businessmen and women will likely find that complying with the various mandates of a multi trillion dollar bureaucaracy is impossible. Making it more expensive to have employees will have the predictable effect of either increasing unemployment or reducing wages.
You won't be able to choose your own doctor, as only physicians who work in federally certified "medical homes" will be permitted to practice. The true nature of these organizations has yet to be determined, but small practices and solo practitioners will certainly not have the resources or political clout to qualify. A major trend to institutional care by giant hospital systems will be the only option.
Expect that your freedom to chose treatment will be curtailed, and if you are too old, too sick, or perhaps not important enough, the latest treatments and diagnostic tests will not be available for you.
Meanwhile, members of Congress and the Executive and Judicial branches will keep their taxpayer funded private system. (Fortune Magazine)