Fastrack Archives December 2012
Monday December 3, 2012
Inpatient Sleeping Drug Quadruples Risk of Falls
According to a Mayo Clinic study published in November of 2012 in the journal, Hospital Medicine, the use of sleeping pills such as Ambien (zolpidem) quadruple the risk of falls. These drugs, which stimulate GABA brain receptors, have side effects such as dizziness, ataxia, hallucinations, and even sleep walking, may be much of the reason why. Falls can lead to fractures, blood clots in the lungs, and head trauma.
There are many other much safer and more effective sleep enhancement approaches such as music, meditation, hypnotherapy, guided imagery, autosuggestion, and even brain wave balancing that could be considered that don't have significant and potentiallyl dangerous side effects. Of course, the underlying reasons for insomnia should be addressed too. Factors such as pain, sleep apnea, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and many others should be addressed whenever possible.
Tuesday December 4, 2012
Are Electronic Medical Records a Good Idea?
A survey of 8500 primary care doctors published in the November of 2012 journal, Health Affairs, revealed that 69% now use electronic medical records. They complained that health care has become unaffordable for 59% of their patients and that 52% said insurance restrictions too far too much time to deal with. Only 15% of MDs felt the US health care system worked satisfactorily. Communication with patients via email and email prescription refills is possible in about 1/3 of MD practices.
While these advantages are clear, there is a serious problem the federal government being able to watch over the practices of MDs with electronic records. This could discourage MDs from choosing treatments not approved by the government. Clearly, we'll need to pass legislation for medical freedom before agreeing to have the government be able to spy on the choices doctors make when treatment is not conventional.
Wednesday December 5, 2012
High Quality Relationships Improve Survival in Breast Cancer
A Kaiser Permanente study published in the November issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment showed that either large or high quality social networks extended survival in early-stage invasive breast cancer. They looked at more than 2200 women and found that those who were socially isolated were 34% more likely to die. Women with small networks were not at increased risk of death, but those with small and unsupportive had a 61% higher risk of early mortality.
Earlier work published in 1989 by David Spiegel, MD, from Stanford Medical Center suggested that supportive, expressive group therapy doubled life expectancy in far advanced cancer. In fact, in his study the control group lived an average of 18 months and the treated group lived 36 months. Followup studies have shown mixed results.
Thursday December 6, 2012
The Sound Track of the Human Brain
Scientists from China published an article in PLOS ONEcombined and translated two kinds of brain waves into music. The EEG was used to create pitch and duration of a note, and the fMRI to control the intensity of music. These scientists believe it is possible to influence how the brain thinks by using biofeedback with this music. So does the Department of Homeland Security, which is very worrisome as they might possibly refine how music could be used to manipulate people's responses to certain situations.
Friday December 7, 2012
Meditation is a Treatment for Heart Disease
A study published in the November 2012 edition of Circulation showed that people doing meditation (TM) had a 48% lower risk for a heart attack, stroke, or all cause mortality over 5 years compared to those who attended a health education class for the same time period. Meditators had a lower blood pressure and experienced less stress and anger.
Monday December 10, 2012
Who Says There's no Money in Making Vaccines?
Vaccine manufacturers get billions of dollars in government contracts every year. In 2011 the top six vaccine makers received $5.7 billion from these contracts. Children who cannot afford the cost of vaccines are given free immunizations through the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC). This is often considered to be indisputable proof of kindness on the part of big pharma and the government. Think again! Never forget that big pharma cares about profit, not your children!
What a sweet deal to have a government contract to make vaccines, that are not proven to either work or be safe, and also have immunity in case something goes wrong and there is an injury from the vaccine! In 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act created a National Vaccine INjur Compensation Program (VICP) whereby vaccine makers and MDs are given complete immunity from any legal liability if your child is harmed. Wow!
Tuesday December 11, 2012
Who Should Fund Medical Research?
The December 12, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article by two Johns Hopkins Medical Center staff stating that there is a crisis because medical research is becoming too expensive, big pharma will need to cut back on funding this research, and they anticipate cuts in federal research funding this next year.
While some novel suggestions such as passing bonds for research were made, the biggest problem we face is not that there isn't enough medical research, but that the vast majority of the research that is done is filled with conflicts of interest that make it impossible to trust as valid. Marcia Angell, MD and editor in chief ot the NEJM quit her job as did Ushma Neill, past editor in chief of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. In addition, Catherine DeAngeles, the present editor in chief of JAMA, has published considerable literature criticizing the poor quality of our medical journal articles.
I suggest we put the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the postion of regulating medical research for our medical journals. This would include all research done by big pharma. However, NIH should be funded solely by Congress. Those organizations needing (and wanting) to do medical research would pay for the studies, but all money would go to the government, not the NIH...we must eliminate the financial conflicts of interest that now exist and lead to medical articles of very poor quality. These are the studies that your doctors rely on when you're sick and in the hospital!
Wednesday December 12, 2012
The Mammography Industry is Clinging to a Failed Test for Women Under Fifty
Let's face it. Mammograms are far from a perfect test, especially in women under the age of 50, and particularly in women with fibrocystic breasts. The United States Preventive Task Force no longer recommends screening women routinely for breast cancer with mammograms. There has been a flood of complaining from the American Cancer Society and the mammography industry that this is a mistake and that many lives are lost from breast cancer as a result.
A new study from Cornell Medical Center claims that of 14,500 screens in women under age 50 uncovered 21 invasive cancers. How many would be benefitted from this discovery is not discussed. Depending on the study, between one in 700 and one in 1800 women are benefitted from mammography in women under the age of 50.
The problem, of course, is how many people are being over-diagnosed and over-treated because of mammograms. This number is huge and must be at least in the range of 30-40% and at a cost of billions of dollars and of considerable morbidity and psychological trauma.
Adding breast thermography would be a major advance in screening women in this age group.
Thursday December 13, 2012
How ObamaCare is Affecting Doctors, Patients and the Practice of Medicine
ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act, will bring 50 million new people into the Medicaid program, but who will pay for this and who will take care of them? Most MDs cannot afford to treat patients in Medicaid because reimbusement for services is far too low. The quality of care will drop and access to care will take time to take effect.
We're moving towards socialized medicine where MDs will work for the government and the standards of care are likely to be more fixed and less effective. How can you massively increase the patient population, decrease funding, and expect to provide superior care?
Yet ObamaCare will be a big plus for the poor as it will provide health care that for the most part they are not getting now. So, access to care should increase. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage for pre-existing health conditions, there will be no increase of cost for insurance because of aging or for people with chronic diseases, there will be no annual or lifetime financial limits, and recission will be illegal.
There will be some expansion for preventive services. Of course, until we shift from disease care to health care, our financial challenges and the amount of chronic diseases will continue to skyrocket.
Friday December 14, 2012
The Tamiflu Deception
Roche pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Tamiflu, has refused for 3 years to release key data from their Tamiflu research trial that "justifies" its use in influenza to the prestigious Cochrane Review. What are they trying to hide? Why has the FDA, CDC, and WHO endorsed using Tamiflu within the first 48 hours of symptoms of the flu when the data shows it only shortens symptoms of influenza by 1/2 to 1 day? There is no data showing that it lowers the risk for developing pneumonia or of mortality.
WHO recommends that countries stockpile this drug in case there is a pandemic from influenza that causes severe morbidity and mortality. It was recommended for the Swine flu in 2009-10 when there wasn't even a usual number of deaths from the flu.
Monday December 17, 2012
Rice Bran May Prevent and Treat Cancer
The December issue of Advances in Nutrition reports that rice bran has cancer preventing properties and may also work to slow the progression of colon cancer. Its activity includes slowing down cell proliferation, altering cell cycle progression, and stimulating apoptosis.
Only brown rice, not refined white rice, works. It also stimulates the development of healthy gut microflora.
Tuesday December 18, 2012
Can Essential Oils Help Lower Blood Pressure?
According to an article in the December 2012 issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology short term (less than one hour) exposure to bergamot essential oil lowered blood pressure and heart rate by 2 mm of mercury systolic and heart rate by 1.7 beats per minute. This is minimal but significant. Prolonged exposure (more than one hour) led to an increase in BP of a similar amount.
Short term exposure to bergamot in combination with exercise, meditation, diet, adequate sleep, meditation, etc can have an effect on blood pressure that is equivalent to drug therapy and it is far more natural and safe.
Wednesday December 19, 2012
Is it DNA or Lifestyle that Regulates our Genes?
The December issue of the journal Aging Cell reported that molecular changes causing cancer are related to our genes and are driven mainly by aging, but are also dictated by what we eat, how much we weigh, and levels of vitamin D, selenium, and folic acid. This study out of Newcastle University in the UK showed that aging had the biggest effect on molecular changes but that selenium and vitamin D3 reduced negative epigenetic changes and that high blood folate and obesitiy increased them through their effects on a process known as "methylation."
Thursday December 20, 2012
Shifting Medicine from Disease Care to Health Care
We cannot sustain a sick care health system and must shift to a true health care system where prevention is the cornerstone of medical practice. In my book, A Return to Healing, I present a 5 point plan that could help encourage a health care paradigm. This program includes: Funding exercise programs both nationally and locally and in every academic institution; taxing junk food and subsidizing sustainable agriculture, healthy foods, and certain supplements such as vitamin D and essential fatty acids; funding comparative research that includes CAM research and making it transparent; supporting certain preventive screens; banning DTC ads and supporting healthy lifestyle ads.
Friday December 21, 2012
Gut Bacteria May Protect Against Stroke
Altered gut microbiota is associated with heart attacks and strokes. A Swedish study published in the December issue of Nature Communications showed that the gut microflora in people with stroke had less capacity to produce carotenoids and could be part of the reason why they suffered from a stroke.
Carotenoid supplements show mixed results in stroke prevention. Perhaps what protects best is a microflora that produces high levels of carotenoids plus other unknown factors. It could be that carotenoid production may be a maker for stroke protection.
Wednesday December 26, 2012
Preventing Bone Fractures with Leafy Greens
The little understood protein, osteocalcin, plays a significant role in the strength of our bones. It is made by osteoblasts, the cells that lay down new bone. Osteocalcin cannot be absorbed into bone in the absence of adequate vitamin K, which comes from eating green leafy vegetables. This is a particular problem in people taking Coumadin for protection against, stroke, heart attack, thrombophlebitis, and much more. Most MDs advise their patients to avoid these vegetables because they counteract the effects of Coumadin. This creates a vitamin K deficiency, which leads to the development of osteoporosis.
I recommend that my patients eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and supplement with a low dose of vitamin K and titrate the anticoagulation effects of Coumadin. Vitamin K deficiency leads to an increased risk for MI and stroke, aortic valve calcification, as well as osteoporosis.
Thursday December 27, 2012
Dogs Sniff Out Superbug Infections
Dogs can sniff out C diff quickly and accurately whereas conventional lab testing costs a lot more and takes too long to get answers. A dog can "sniff out" and entire ward in less than 10 minutes! Dogs have been shown in the past to sniff out cancers as well as drugs, money, explosives, and even cell phones!
Dogs may be man's best friend, but they have a new found role in diagnostic medicine that is prectical and very valuable!
Friday December 28, 2012
Physically Fit Students Perform Better Academically
According to a study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fittness in December of 2012, middle school students who are more physically active score better on tests. Most schools are cutting physical activity back and kids are becoming more overweight and at risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis and much more.
We need to provide balanced education that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Most schools are overfocused in academics. We also need to include social skills and learning how to live in community so we can get the most out of life.
We also know that time spent away from electronic equipment and in nature increases our creativity by 50% in just a few days.
Monday December 31, 2012
The Importance of Iron in Infections and Cancer
According to the December 2012 issue of PLOS ONE, Iron plays a key role in metabolism that leads to bacteria and human beings competing to prevent the other from obtaining it. Bacteria are obligated to acquire iron to gain foothold to grow in host tissues. Cancer cells also sequester iron more effectively than normal cells. This is one of the reasons whyartemisinin may be effective as chemotherapy.
Everyone should have their iron level measured, especially if they have a bacterial infection or cancer. About 5-10% of the population has excessive iron stores, which can have a powerful effect on the risk for making infections more dangerous, contributing to the aggressiveness of cancer, and causing premature aging.
One of the ways of enhancing the sequestration of iron is through the use of lactoferrin.