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2014 Publication Archive

“A New Year’s Resolution from Dr. Howes to You”

Dec 28, 2014

Our accumulated United States national debt has passed an unprecedented eighteen trillion dollars, and shockingly, our unfunded liabilities are between ninety and one hundred trillion dollars.  Politicians are the only people who have the audacity to create problems and then campaign against those problems.  Actually, one hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices constitute the 545 human beings, out of over 300 million, who  are directly, legally, ethically, and individually responsible for most of our domestic problems that are suffocating our once great Constitutional republic.  Lobbyists have no legal authority and are excluded. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one darn thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician millions of dollars, the politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

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“Natural vs. Artificial Flavors: Which is Better ?”

Dec 21, 2014

Let’s start with a wordy definition. Natural and artificial flavors are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:  “A natural flavor is the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”  Artificial flavors do not meet this definition.  But, there is little substantive difference in the chemical compositions of natural and artificial flavorings.  The distinction in flavorings (natural versus artificial) comes from the source of these identical chemicals.  Artificial flavorings are simpler in composition.  The reason that artificial colors and flavors are used is because when foods are heavily processed to withstand long periods on a grocer’s shelf, they become devoid of nutrients, color and flavor, so they must be added back.  Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is hidden in processed food and has more than 25 other different names. It meets the definition of natural flavors because it comes from glutamate which is found in nature, but MSG is still a known excitotoxin.

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“Flu Vaccine 2014: How Good Is It ?”

Dec 14, 2014

Every year we are faced with the same dilemma regarding the flu vaccine.  Previously, I have cautioned folks about being misled to believe that the vaccine will give them 100% protection.  I pointed out the conclusion of the respected Cochrane Collaboration group, who came to the alarming findings on the ineffectiveness of flu vaccines and stated that it was “basically worthless.”  Even when studies “matched” vaccines to the viral strain (which is uncommon) 97% of those injected received no benefit.  Additionally, vaccinations had “no effect on hospital admissions or complication rates.”  Now, in the 2014 flu season, the CDC advised doctors that this year’s flu vaccine is not as effective because the current strain of the virus has mutated. Dr. Tom Frieden said, “We could have a season that is more severe than most with hospitalizations and more deaths.”

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“Concussions: Just How Bad Are They ?”

Dec 07, 2014

For some bizarre reason, we seem to enjoy seeing an NFL player “getting his bell rung.”  Unfortunately, people wrongly believe that it shows strength and courage to play while injured.  Researchers report that even some teenagers appear to show changes in their brains after one season of playing American football.  There is increasing concern about the potential effects of contact sports on young, developing brains and studies are focusing on concussions.  Just how bad are the problems involving concussions?  In 2012, 3,800,000 concussions were reported, double that of 2002. High school football accounts for 47% of all reported sports concussions and 33% of all sports concussions happen at practice.  High school athletes suffer 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations annually.  There are three times as many catastrophic football injuries among high school athletes as college athletes.

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“Holiday Weight Gain and Tips to Avoid It”

Nov 30, 2014

Many of us are desperate to avoid further weight gain, especially during the holiday season.  But, since most diets do not assure long term weight loss, how do we do it?  Here are a few suggestions that seem to help.  First, you do not have to wrap your body in seaweed or forever eat cabbage soup to lose weight sensibly.  Nearly all overweight people have tried countless “tricks” to lose weight, only to gain it all back, plus some. The old adage of “calories in versus calories out” is certainly key to a successful weight loss attempt if it is combined with a sensible exercise program.  Still, this life style is hard to maintain over a period of years, especially when we are surrounded by tantalizing and delicious foods over the holidays.  So, what is one to do?  Life Science has put together a few diet tricks that should help, starting with avoidance of corn syrup (less than 25 grams a day).

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“Drugs: Are Americans Being Ripped Off ?”

Nov 23, 2014

Americans have the dubious honor of paying the highest costs for drugs on the planet, even more so than other rich countries such as Germany, Japan, and Canada.  Drugs can be life saving and crucial in the prevention and treatment of illness but anything can be pushed over the top.  Over half of the American population is on prescription medications and in 2013, over 4 billion pills were dispensed to a population of 330 million people, with many patients taking multiple pills (polypharmacy) and with some taking dozens on a daily basis.  Differences in drug prices can be substantial, especially among the newer and very costly agents that have recently come on the market.  Two years ago, oncologists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) made a deliberate and measured decision to exclude a drug because of its exorbitant cost, and went public about it. The drug (aflibercept, Zaltrap, Sanofi) was no more effective than older drugs but was twice as expensive.

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“Ebola: More Things They Have Not Told Us”

Nov 09, 2014

Not everything is black and white when it comes to Ebola infection and transmission. There are shades of gray. There is still much that we don’t know.  Scientists were told at a  workshop at the National Academy’s Institute of Medicine that many questions crucial to preventing an outbreak in the United States remain unanswered.  They said virtually all the unknowns have practical consequences, making it foolish and perhaps dangerous to base policy on weak science.  Experts believe Ebola is spread when people come in contact with the virus-laden bodily fluids of those who are already sick but penetration through intact skin has not been definitively ruled out.  Also, we do not know if bleach or hand sanitizers may make the skin more susceptible to viral penetration.  Although health officials have insisted Ebola can not be transmitted by people who do not show symptoms, that is not a certainty or a proven fact.  Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah, said the possibility of “subclinical transmission” remains very much an open question.

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“Ebola: Are They Hiding Something ?”

Nov 02, 2014

Countless health experts and doctors have stated categorically reassured us and stated that Ebola can not be transmitted via the air (airborne).  These are know as “talking points” and are designed to prevent panic amongst the population.  But, are they accurate?  My initial response was that I would believe Drs. Fauci and the others, if they would allow an Ebola infected patient to cough or sneeze in their face.  That has not happened and likely never will.  These same so-called experts also further guaranteed us that to become infected, one would have to have direct contact with bodily fluids (vomit, urine, feces) of an infected individual.  Yet, there have been many instances of healthcare workers and doctors becoming infected, while fully protected inside protocol approved attire, and in which there is no logical explanation for their plight.  Also, there have been new cases of Ebola in patients not known to have been in contact with an active Ebola infection. Curiously, according to The Post newspaper, on 10/30/14, the CDC quickly snatched a poster off its Web site explaining how Ebola can be spread by contaminated droplets – from a sneeze for example – a day after The Post reported on the frightening revelation.

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“Statins: Harmful Or Helpful?”

Oct 26, 2014

Drug manufacturers have set out to “statinize” the world with cholesterol-lowering medicines.  The stakes are high as total sales of statins may approach $1 trillion worldwide by 2020; the most commercially successful drug in history, atorvastatin (Lipitor®), had sales exceeding $120 billion between 1996 and 2011.  Estimates of the number of US adults who would be newly eligible for statin use under the new guidelines may reach 45 million. In other words, about 1 in 3 American adults overall, and perhaps as many as 1 billion worldwide, would be potential candidates for statin treatment. Certain studies show statins can be helpful in reducing mortality from cardiovascular (CV) events.  In 2012, Kostis and colleagues published a meta-analysis of 18 randomized trials demonstrating a significant reduction in all-cause mortality and cardiovascular (CV) events in both men and women who were taking statins compared with those taking placebo or receiving usual care.  However, a meta-analysis of randomized trials and observational cohort studies involving 13,622 elderly participants, over a quarter of whom were 80 years old or older, found insufficient data to make any recommendation regarding statin treatment in this population.

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“Antioxidant Supplements: Do They Fight Cancer?”

Oct 19, 2014

Antioxidant supplement advertisers make false claims that these dietary supplements can fight cancer.  However, new research suggests antioxidants do nothing to prevent the disease, and might actually increase a person’s cancer risk.  Even Nobel Prize recipient, Dr. James Watson, has said that antioxidant have likely caused more cancers than they have cured.  In my 2012 book, Antioxidants Linked To Deadly Unintended Consequences, I pointed out the many harmful effects of overloading on dietary antioxidant supplements.  I presented over 500 scientific reports showing the ineffectiveness of common antioxidants and of these, over 170 studies showed harmful effects.  I discussed seven crucial oxidative pathways, including pathogen protection, cancer protection, wound healing, energy production, detoxification, immunity and cellular signaling, which can be blocked or interfered with by “antioxidant stacking or overkill.” Thus, it is a no-brainer that antioxidant overload can cause inadvertent harmful maladies and also cause increased risk of death (overall mortality).

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