Volume 18 • Number 6 • June 2017

One of last month’s blogs was on the fact that 1/3 of pharmaceutical drugs marketed end up causing more problems than they treat. But, the problem is more complex than that. Big Pharma also engages in many other nefarious stratagems designed to maximize profit, not our health. For instance, it pays smaller pharmaceutical companies NOT to make generics when the expensive drugs lose their protecting licensing deals. Another favorite ploy is to vilify natural supplements and drugs that are extracted from Mother Nature. For instance, Bioidentical Hormones made from wild yams. For decades Big Pharma has been planting misinformation about them for years, even though 41% of women prefer them.[1] Now we have undeniable proof of their efficacy, too, a fact that has been apparent to any patient and doctor who has tried them.[2]

Why are we stuck with a Health Care system that does not have our best interest at heart, a system that has been called an “illness?”[3] Whatever your answer is you will agree that the solution has to involve a change of mindsets. I chuckled when I read a promising article about that in the JAMA—“Changing mindsets to enhance treatment effectiveness.”[4] I had hoped that it would be a real change, but, alas, it was about how to get patients to take their prescription drugs. Big Pharma needs to understand Americans are waking up from their hypnotic belief that drugs are healing anything.

Hugo Rodier, MD

Air pollution may have negative impact on sleep, study suggests

Newsweek (5/22, Williams) reports that research presented at the American Thoracic Society’s meeting suggests “air pollution may be a predictor of poor sleep.”

HealthDay (5/22, Preidt) reports that investigators found that individuals “exposed to the highest levels of NO2 over five years were nearly 60 percent more likely to have low sleep efficiency than those with the lowest NO2 exposure.” Meanwhile, individuals “with the highest exposure to fine particle pollution had a nearly 50 percent increased likelihood of having low sleep efficiency.”

Banning trans fats may reduce premature deaths, research suggests

The New York Times (5/22, Brody, Subscription Publication) reports banning trans fats may reduce premature deaths, according to several studies conducted after such prohibitions went into effect. Denmark’s ban of trans fats is estimated to have “saved an average of 14.2 lives per 100,000 people a year, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.” Researchers also found that New York City’s ban may have “resulted in 13 fewer cardiovascular disease deaths and a saving of about $3.9 million per 100,000 persons annually.” The article points out that next year trans fats will no longer be allowed in industry-prepared foods in the US, because of a ban imposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Group says children under one year old should not be given fruit juice

The New York Times (5/22, Saint Louis, Subscription Publication) “Well” blog reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics is “advising parents to stop giving fruit juice to children in the first year of life, saying the drink is not as healthful as many parents think.” The AAP has “toughened its stance against juice, recommending that the drink be banned entirely from a baby’s diet during the first year.” Meanwhile, the new report, published online in Pediatrics, also “advised restricting fruit juice to four ounces daily for 1- to 3-year-olds, and six ounces a day for 4- to 6-year-olds.”

The NPR (5/22, Hobson) “Shots” blog reports Steven Abrams, an author of the guidelines, says, “We want to reinforce that the most recent evidence supports that fruit juice should be a limited part of the diet of children.”

“Amenable mortality” study finds US health care far from top globally

The Washington Post (5/18, Cha) reports a study published on Thursday in the journal Lancet on “amenable mortality,” or deaths that theoretically could have been avoided by timely and effective medical care, found that America scores 80 on the health care quality index (HAQ), putting it at the bottom of the second decile and on par with Estonia and Montenegro. While the US measures well for vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria and measles, it gets nearly failing grades for other potentially fatal conditions. Lead author Christopher Murray, of the University of Washington, characterized the results as “disturbing” and called the US ranking “an embarrassment.” He said, “Having a strong economy does not guarantee good health care. Having great medical technology doesn’t either.”

FDA, CDC warn blood tests may underestimate lead levels

In “To Your Health,” the Washington Post (5/17, McGinley) reports that the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that blood tests by Magellan Diagnostics may “significantly” underestimate lead levels present in blood. The agencies are now “urging the retesting of some children, as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women.” According to Jeffrey Shuren, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, “The FDA is deeply concerned by this situation and is warning laboratories and health-care professionals that they should not use any Magellan Diagnostics’ lead tests with blood drawn from a vein.”

The Wall Street Journal (5/17, Burton, Subscription Publication) quotes Dr. Shuren, who added, “We believe that most people will not be affected.”

The New York Times (5/17, Rabin, Subscription Publication) reports that Magellan Diagnostics “discovered as far back as 2014 that its tests could yield inaccurate results when used on blood drawn from a vein.” The FDA “did not provide estimates of how many people may have been at risk for a faulty test.”

Zinc lozenges may triple rate of recovery from common cold, meta-analysis suggests

TIME (5/16, MacMillan) reports, “Zinc lozenges may triple the rate of recovery from the common cold, according to a new meta-analysis of three studies” published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. There is a “caveat,” however. Researchers “looked at doses much higher than are commonly recommended by doctors, and the authors say that not all zinc lozenges on the market are effective.”

Red meat tied to increased risk of dying from nine diseases, study suggests

The New York Times (5/15, Bakalar, Subscription Publication) reports in “Well” that eating more red meat may increase people’s risk of death from “cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease and liver disease,” according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers tracked the diets and health of hundreds of thousands of people for 16 years and found that the one-fifth of study participants who ate the most red meat had a 26 percent “increased risk of death from various causes,” compared to the “one-fifth of people who ate the least red meat.”

FDA recommends physicians provide information about chiropractic care and acupuncture as opioid alternatives

STAT (5/10, Thielking) reports that the Food and Drug Administration “released proposed changes Wednesday to its blueprint on educating health care” practitioners “about treating pain.” Under the revised guidelines, the agency recommends that physicians “get information about chiropractic care and acupuncture as therapies that might help patients avoid prescription opioids.”

Kids with consistent bedtime routines, limited screen time may be better at regulating emotions, research suggests

Reuters (5/10, Rapaport) reports that research suggests children “who have a consistent bedtime routine and limited screen time may get better at regulating their emotions.” This “could be one reason they have a lower risk of childhood obesity than peers with erratic schedules who watch lots of television, the authors say.” The study indicated that children “who had better emotional regulation at age 3 were less likely to be obese by age 11 than children who weren’t as good at controlling their feelings and impulses.” The findings were published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Eating fresh fruit may reduce the risk for developing diabetes and the risk for its complications, research suggests

The New York Times (5/3, Bakalar, Subscription Publication) reports in “Well” that “eating fresh fruit may reduce the risk for developing diabetes, and the risk for its complications,” researchers found after tracking “diet and health in 512,891 Chinese men and women ages 30 to 79 for an average of seven years,” then controlling for confounding factors. The findings were published in PLoS Medicine.

Antibiotic use may decrease absorption of whole grain nutrients, study finds

TIME (5/3, MacMilan) examines how taking antibiotics can affect health and nutrition as it relates to consumption of whole grains, investigated in a recent study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. The study found that “antibiotic use was associated with lower levels of enterolignans – the metabolized form of lignans – in the body…especially among women.” Researchers conducted a similar study in pigs, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, which found that “blood concentrations of enterolignans were 37 percent lower in pigs given antibiotics, compared to those who weren’t.”

Yoga may provide relief from menstrual cramps and PMS, review study suggests

TIME (5/2, MacMillan) reports “yoga may provide relief from” menstrual cramps, PMS, and other conditions, “according to a new review of studies published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.” Researchers reviewed “15 studies that looked at how a regular yoga practice affects a woman’s experience of cramps, PMS, polycystic ovary syndrome (which can cause missed or infrequent periods) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder,” and “found that yoga was linked to reduced severity of symptoms and pain relief in women

  1. “Use of compounded hormone therapy in the United States: report of The North American Menopause Society Survey.” J. Menopause Epub September 25, 2015
  2. Annual Mtg Endocrine Soc Orlando, 2017; J. Family Practice News May 1st p6
  3. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/878878 American Healthcare Is an American Sickness
  4. JAMA. 2017;317(20):2063-2064
Hugo Rodier, MD is an integrative physician based in Draper, Utah who specializes in healing chronic disease at the cellular level by blending proper nutrition, lifestyle changes, & allopathic practices when necessary.

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