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2013 Publication Archive

“Flu Vaccine Facts”

Dec 29, 2013

With the return of flu season, it is time to update pertinent data.  In short, flu vaccines do not work in 99 out of 100 people.  My recent articles on the hidden epidemic of adverse drug reactions revealed that only a small percentage of medications are effective and FDA approved drugs cause over 130,000 deaths annually.  The current flu season is due to the H1N1 virus (swine flu) and we must rely on evidence-based medicine (reliable scientific studies) to evaluate its effectiveness or necessity.  We can not continue to be misled by “scare tactics” or false claims that a flu vaccination will provide you with 100% protection.  As far as I can determine, there are no statistically validated, independent, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (RCTs) proving the over all effectiveness of the flu vaccines.  That is the first red flag.  So, we are primarily left with the conclusions of so-called studies performed by the same people who manufacture and sell the vaccines.

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“Drug Side Effects: The Hidden Epidemic”

Dec 22, 2013

Recent studies have made us aware that drug company cover-ups result annually in up to 2.7 million hospitalized Americans with serious adverse drug reactions and, of these, there are 128,000 deaths.  A 2013, article entitled, “Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals and the Myth of Safe and Effective Drugs” was published in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME) and reported that patients have suffered from a largely hidden epidemic of side effects from drugs that usually have few offsetting benefits.  The drug industry has demanded shorter average review times and, with less time to thoroughly review evidence, increased hospitalizations and death have resulted.  Additionally, top research scientists can be financially beholding to drug companies.  A doctor’s code is “First, do no harm” and the vast majority strive to live up to this highly desirable goal.

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“Breast Cancer Treatments Gets More Confusing”

Dec 15, 2013

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be more than 1.65 million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2013.  The good news is that for many cancers, the prognosis will be very good and 90% of breast cancer patients will survive their cancers for at least 5 years.  Treatment usually consists of combinations of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal treatments (neoadjuvant therapies).  Many factors, such as cell type, location, spread, aggressiveness, nutritional status of the patient, patient age, family history, etc, will have a bearing on the specifics of treatment.  During my surgical training, radical mastectomies were common but have basically been abandoned.  Next on the scene was “lumpectomy with irradiation.”

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“Eating Nuts Is Smart”

Dec 08, 2013

Currently, a number of articles are singing praises for eating nuts to protect one’s health and possibly prolong the lifespan.  The New England Journal of Medicine published results showing that people who eat a handful of nuts every day live longer than those who do not eat them at all.  Their data was based on a Harvard study, which analyzed data on nearly 120,000 people collected over 30 years, and found that regular nut eaters tended to be slimmer than those who ate no nuts, putting to rest the notion that eating nuts leads to weight gain.  Senior author, Prof. Charles S. Fuchs, said, “The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29% in deaths from heart disease – the major killer of people in America. But we also saw a significant reduction – 11% – in the risk of dying from cancer.”

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“Drug Company Corruption You Won’t Believe”

Dec 01, 2013

Pharmaceutical companies have egregiously participated in one hundred years of sleazy practices and continue to do so.  They withhold unfavorable data (negative studies) on profitable drugs and fail to file timely reports on safety and effectiveness, sometimes for years.  Avandia, Celebrex, Zyprexia and Vioxx come to mind.  They hire “investigators” and consultants to produce questionable favorable studies and have them published in journals to legitimize their exalted and mellifluous claims.  But, according to a 2013 article in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME), here is the heart of the problem: about 350 people die daily from drug reactions or 128,000 per year.  A huge collection of studies and lawsuits already documents strategies by which pharmaceutical companies hide, ignore, or misrepresent evidence about new drugs; distort the medical literature; and misrepresent products to prescribing physicians.

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“Trans Fat Facts”

Nov 24, 2013

According to FDA estimates, Americans consumed an average of one gram of trans fats per day in 2012, but according to the Institute of Medicine, trans fats are unsafe at any level. Trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil during food processing in order to make it solidify. This process, known as hydrogenation, makes fats less likely to spoil, so foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and also have a less greasy feel. But, the end result is a completely unnatural fat that can cause cellular dysfunction. Trans fats, found in margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were promoted and popularized as a “healthier alternative” to saturated animal fats like butter and lard in the 1950’s. But, its beginnings go back 100 years to Proctor & Gamble’s creation of Crisco in 1911.

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“Cholesterol is No Longer a Numbers Game”

Nov 17, 2013

For over three decades, we were told that our risk of heart attacks and strokes were directly related to our cholesterol numbers (LDL, HDL), but that notion is changing.  Gone are the recommended LDL- and non-HDL–cholesterol targets, specifically treating patients with cardiovascular disease to less than 100 mg/dL or the optional goal of less than 70 mg/dL. There is no evidence from randomized, controlled clinical trials to support treatment to a specific target number. Thus, the new guidelines make no recommendations for specific LDL-cholesterol or non-HDL target numbers for the prevention of heart disease.  The new guidelines were issued by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology.  Yet, these guidelines will more than double the population of adults taking statin drugs, because a cholesterol guideline panel has set a lower threshold for using cholesterol lowering medicines to reduce risk.

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“Obese Teens May Have Adult Diseases”

Nov 10, 2013

A new study found U.S. teens seeking weight-loss surgery have a startling number of health problems that used to be seen only in adults.  Half the teens had at least four major illnesses linked with their excess weight. Three out of four had cholesterol problems; almost half had high blood pressure or joint pain; and many had diseased livers or kidneys.  A 2011 study showed that nearly one-third of 9-month-olds are obese or overweight, as are 34 percent of 2-year-olds. The study showed that starting out heavy puts kids on a course to stay that way.  Two recent studies, one in 2009 and one in 2010, confirmed that early obesity leads to later obesity and the health problems associated with being obese.  Studies have shown that the blood vessels of obese children have stiffness normally seen in much older adults with heart disease.

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“Is Right-Brain vs. Left-Brain a Myth ?”

Oct 27, 2013

Frequently, in medical science, we find we have been misled to believe that long-held myths are scientific facts.  Such seems to be the case with the old myth that “people can be labeled as either a “right-brained” or a “left-brained” thinker.  Left-brained people were thought to be logical, detail-oriented and analytical; whereas, right-brained people were thought to be creative, thoughtful and subjective.  Neuroscientists, at the University of Utah, have described new research studies, which assert that there is no evidence within brain imaging that indicates some people are right-brained or left-brained. It commonly believed the terms left-brained and right-brained have come to refer to personality types, with an assumption that some people use the right side of their brain more, while others use the left side more.

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“ Exercise: How Much is enough ?”

Oct 20, 2013

Exercise has repeatedly been shown to have a wide spectrum of health benefits.  Exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of most major diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, strokes, obesity and diabetes.  But, just how much is enough to maintain or improve your overall health?  Many health experts recommend 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week.  Some authors have even considered housework to be adequate but the BMC Public Health study, which surveyed over 4,500 adults, found those who counted housework were heavier than those who did other activities.  They found that house work and DYI (do it yourself activity) are not strenuous enough to count towards the 150 minute weekly target.  Prof Marie Murphy said, “Either people are overestimating the amount of moderate intensity physical activity they do through housework, or are eating too much to compensate for the amount of activity undertaken.”  People who get the 150 minutes of weekly exercise or more may live for up to several years longer than those who do not.

Download the complete article (a PDF).