“Prostate Cancer Dilemmas”Dec 25, 2011
To be sure, prostate cancer is a serious disease and is the cause of many male deaths. Yet, physicians are faced with the dilemma of over-diagnosis and over-treatment. Recently, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against the use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for prostate cancer, concluding that there was “moderate or high certainty” that it was not of benefit. This renewed a firestorm of controversy and more patient confusion. Many factors must be considered and some of them are as follows. Many patients suffer adverse consequences of routine prostate surgery such as nerve damage and incontinence. Analysis data provides strong evidence that treatment complications are strongly influenced by the individual surgeons experience, even though many patients are treated by surgeons with very low case volumes.
“Blood Pressure Readings Are Commonly Wrong”Dec 18, 2011
Blood pressure determination is one of the most important measurements in all of clinical medicine and is still one of the most inaccurately performed. Hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure) is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke, and renal failure, and affects approximately one-third of the American population. Increasingly, it is recognized that clinic office blood pressure measurements correlate poorly with blood pressure measured in other settings, and that they can be made more accurate by self-measured readings taken with validated devices at home. Home readings can help predict cardiovascular events and are particularly useful for monitoring the effects of treatment for hypertension.
“The Truth On Beating AIDS”Dec 11, 2011
According to USA Today, during a World’s AIDS event in Washington, President Obama recently declared, “We can beat this disease.” Further, he said, “The rate of new infections may be going down elsewhere, but it’s not going down here in America,” and “There are communities in this country being devastated still by this disease. When new infections among young, Black, gay men increase by nearly 50 percent in three years, we need to do more to show them that their lives matter.” With such an alarming increase, what are the responibilities of the involved individuals? Certainly, most everyone in America knows how AIDS is transmitted. Thus, is it the government’s role to control the individual decisions made by consenting adults, even if they make the wrong decisions, which taxpayers then have to cover the enormous cost for their medical care?
“Drug Makers, Profit and Greed”Dec 04, 2011
Drug makers have been guilty of egregiously sleazy practices in the past and the future bodes more of the same. Drug firms have withheld unfavorable data on profitable drugs. Drug firms have failed to timely report possible safety concerns and accurate performance data, sometimes for years. Drug names, such as Avandia, Celebrex, Zyprexia and Vioxx bring forth bad memories of sordid practices by the pharmaceutical industry. They have put out reports written by employees or paid consultants, rather than by the academic investigators named as the lead authors. All the while, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moves at sloth speed to correct these atrocities. Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, editor of JAMA, has said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg.
“BPA: A New Scare”Nov 27, 2011
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an antioxidant that is found in the lining of canned foods, cash register receipts, dental fillings, some plastics and polycarbonate bottles marked with the number 7. BPA is best known as a hardening agent in plastic bottles and used to line the inside of metal cans. Scientific studies have linked BPA at lower levels than those found in the Harvard study to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity in humans. More than 1 million pounds of BPA are released into the environment each year and most Americans have BPA in their urine. Early in 2011, the European Union banned the use of BPA in the manufacture of baby bottles and its use in infant food containers is also restricted in Canada as well as 10 US states. The focus has been on the ingestion of BPA by children in baby bottles or in sippy cups, but attention is now being turned to unsafe adult ingestion of BPA, especially in canned goods.
“Flu Vaccines Need Updating”Nov 20, 2011
The flu season is upon us again, along with the panic pushing the latest flu vaccine. Previous flu seasons have documented the production of ineffective vaccines, massive multi-billion dollar financial windfalls for pharmaceutical companies and an inability to identify timely the actual circulating flu strain (mismatching). Flu is estimated to result in 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths per year but the latest flu strains have been mild in comparison. In 2009, experts concluded that, “There is insufficient evidence to indicate that flu vaccines reduce infection rates or mortality, even in the elderly.”
“Treating Depression Is A Major Problem”Nov 13, 2011
In our pill popping nation, doctors are writing prescriptions faster than Congress can spend money. This is especially true for anti-depression drugs, whereby doctors write about 3.5 million prescriptions annually. Drug sales are booming and deaths from prescription medications are now exceeding deaths from illegal drugs for the first time in our nation’s history. As I like to say, “There’s gold in them thar’ pills” and in many cases, the drug companies “are making a killing.” Routine medications like the anti-anxiety drugs (Xanax and Valium) and sleep aids (Restoril and Ambien) are experiencing new heights in sales, along with the antidepressant Prozac. Paxil (paroxetine) and Eli Lilly and Co’s Prozac (fluoxetine) affect the brain chemical, serotonin. Use of antidepressant drugs doubled from 1996 to 2005 and users increased from 13 million to 27 million.
“TSA Scanners, Radiation and Cancer”Nov 06, 2011
Any way you slice it, the more radiation one is exposed to, the higher is their risk of developing cancer. For years, we have been assured that the body scanners used in airports are completely safe and that the technology used was different from x-rays. Well, not so fast. Back in March of 2011, the Transportation Security Administration announced it would retest every full-body X-ray scanner that emits ionizing radiation — 247 machines at 38 airports — after maintenance records on some of the devices showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected. The TSA’s review of maintenance reports, launched Dec. 10, 2010 came only after USA TODAY and lawmakers called for the release of the records. The TSA said it would continue to release results from maintenance tests for the approximately 4,500 X-ray devices at airports nationwide. Those devices include machines that examine checked luggage. Of the reports posted, about a third showed some sort of error. Folks, these are some of the same x-ray machines they herd us through on a daily basis at airports all over America.
“The Down Side of Antioxidants”Oct 30, 2011
In 1999, confused scientist, Lester Packer, wrote “The Antioxidant Miracle” and stated categorically (but erroneously) that certain “pills” (antioxidants) could prevent cancer, extend you life span, improve your sex life and keep your skin supple and wrinkle free. Packer’s name became so closely linked to the study of antioxidants that he was dubbed “Dr. Antioxidant” by some of his sycophantic colleagues. He said that antioxidants protect us from damage caused by free radicals, which can injure healthy cells and tissues. His biggest exaggeration was to say that free radicals were causal factors in nearly every known disease, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer to cataracts. He believed by controlling free radicals, antioxidants could make the difference between life and death and could help prevent and reverse nearly all diseases. But, later research would prove that his glowing predictions were off by a country mile. Packer was not alone in his hyped praise for antioxidants.
“Changes in American Healthcare”Oct 23, 2011
There is good news and bad news for America’s healthcare system. The good news is that the exorbitantly expensive atrocity called “Obama-care” appears to be on the critical list and will most likely not survive, especially since the majority of states are suffocating it with a pillow of law suits. That is about the extent of the good news and there is a laundry list of examples of bad news because American healthcare needs “intensive care.” For starters, the U.S. continues to spend far more that other industrialized nations on healthcare, with per capita spending on healthcare now topping $8,000 a year, more than double most industrialized countries. Second, Americans die far more frequently than their counterparts in other countries as a result of preventable or treatable conditions, such as bacterial infections, screenable cancers, diabetes and complications from surgery.