March 14, 2012
By Daily Mail
“Instead of just cutting out red meat, why not consider giving up meat altogether? If that’s too hard, than cut out just the red stuff. If you absolutely must eat animals, it has to be 100% organic.” –KTRN
Two rashers of bacon a day raises the odds of dying from heart disease and cancer by 20 per cent, a study has claimed.
While red meat has been blamed for health problems before, the large-scale American study is one of the first to link it to a higher risk of dying.
The data, from more than 120,000 men and women who were tracked for almost 30 years, was analysed by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Almost 24,000 people died during the course of the study, and it was estimated that between 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent of these could have been avoided if everyone taking part had eaten half a helping of red meat less a day.
One helping equated to 85g – roughly two slices of bacon or one sausage.
A striking association was seen between consumption of red meat and premature death.
Each daily serving of unprocessed red meat, equivalent to a helping of beef, lamb or pork about the size of a deck of cards, raised the risk of death 13per cent, while processed meat increased it by 20per cent.
When deaths were broken down into specific causes, eating any kind of red meat increased the chances of dying from heart disease by 16 per cent and of cancer by 10 per cent.
October 31, 2011
By S. D. Wells
Doctors and hospitals in the United States have a financial incentive to perform surgery on dying seniors because Medicare is guaranteed to pay for it, and most of the procedures fail to improve the patients’ lives at all.
Several colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health recently reported that 1.8 million Medicare beneficiaries age 65 or older died in 2008, and over 34% were operated on during their last year, 25% in their last month, and 10% in their last week of life.
Other studies show that just the stress of surgery and poor conditions of hospitals is adding to mortality rates, including post surgery pneumonia and heart attacks. To throw salt in the wound, the nation’s 175 lowest quality hospitals are actually the highest cost institutions.
Doctors simply are not having conversations with patients about what they want out of their last days, and probably don’t care because of the guaranteed revenue increases they receive from surgery. Most of the unnecessary surgery is a distraction from what is really important to patients, like being able to spend time with their loved ones and have some “quality of life.”
The Medicare website for reporting unnecessary and inappropriate surgery describes it as being an operation for a condition that could effectively be treated with medication or physical therapy. Unfortunately, there is nothing listed about nutrition, vitamins, or supplements of any kind. In fact, there is no doctor in the country who can mention natural remedies without endangering his or her license to practice medicine. The FDA outlaws any natural remedy from claiming it can cure a disease, so the general public still believes surgery and chemotherapy are their only options.
Doctors in the United States are trained to do mainly three general procedures for the sick and dying; operate to surgically remove the problem, administer chemotherapy, and prescribe pharmaceuticals to mask or relieve symptoms and pain. The effort to remove cancer that surrounds or invades organs is one of the most popular surgical procedures. Unfortunately, clipping off the “tops of weeds” doesn’t change the fact that they’ll grow back, and since the chemicals in food and overall bad nutrition fuel the issues, most of these cases return as life-threatening situations within a few years, if not a few months.
In one case where an elderly man had pancreatic cancer, the doctors did an endoscopy and a colonoscopy because they said they were, “Trying desperately to find something we could fix.” But surgery can be painful and debilitating, and pancreatic tumors are rarely discovered early enough to save the patient, so the surgery was a complete waste.
October 27, 2011
By Jonathan Benson
There is no need to get vaccinated against tuberculosis if you maintain high enough levels of vitamin D, suggests a new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Researchers found that, in the presence of even minimally adequate levels of vitamin D, the body’s own immune system will naturally trigger an immune response against the disease and many others without the need for drug or chemical interventions.
Mario Fabri, who currently works in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Cologne in Germany, examined the effects of vitamin D on immunity during his time at the University of California, Los Angeles. He discovered that the vitamin D hormone is crucial for T-cells, which are the first responders to immune invaders, to produce a protein called interferon. And interferon has been shown to directly attack tuberculosis bacteria and prevent it from taking hold.
“Over the centuries, vitamin D has intrinsically been used to treat tuberculosis,” said Fabri, referencing the age-old practice of putting tuberculosis patients in areas of high sun exposure as part of their treatment. “Our findings suggest that increasing vitamin D levels through supplementation may improve the immune response to infections such as tuberculosis.”
Fabri’s previous studies also found that vitamin D is necessary for the immune system to produce cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide that, like interferons, provides humans and other mammals with protection against bacterial infections. In other words, vitamin D equips the body with the tools it needs to prevent infection without the need for drug-based antibiotics.
“At a time when drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis are emerging, understanding how to enhance natural innate and acquired immunity through vitamin D may be very helpful,” added Barry Bloom, co-author of the study and former dean of faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health.
What is even better is that interferons fight more than just tuberculosis. These powerful pathways of cell communication are known to exhibit an immune response to all sorts of viruses, bacteria, parasites, and even tumor cells, which means they can help prevent a host of other diseases besides just tuberculosis.
September 22, 2011
A new study shows people who are depressed may be a little more likely than others to suffer a stroke down the road.
Looking back at 28 past studies, researchers estimated there would be 106 extra cases of stroke per 100,000 depressed people each year, 22 of them fatal.
But don’t reach for the antidepressants just yet, because the study has major limitations.
The biggest problem is that nobody knows how to account for the link—people who have the blues might smoke more and exercise less, for instance. Indeed, accounting for that did weaken the apparent tie between depression and stroke, which kills about 137,000 Americans a year.
And there’s a more troubling possibility, said An Pan, a researcher at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston who worked on the study.
In an earlier study, he found depressed people who take antidepressants appeared to have an increased risk of stroke compared with depressed people who weren’t on the drugs.
“These medications could be one possible reason for the increased risk of stroke in depression and the majority of studies did not control for this,” he told Reuters Health.
He stressed, however, that antidepressant use might also just be an indicator of severe depression, which might account for the extra risk.
“The current data on whether medications have an independent role (in stroke) is not clear at this moment,” Pan said.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are based on a total of more than 317,000 people followed for two to 29 years.
For health providers treating depressed people, the results add one more health problem to watch out for on a list that already includes chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
But for a person with the blues, they don’t mean a whole lot, said Pan.
July 20, 2010
The Los Angeles Times
By: Jessie Schiewe
Long day at work? Stressed about paying your bills? How tempting, at such times, to reach for a drink….
If that sounds like you, here’s some sobering news from a study published online in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Assn.: The risk of stroke appears to double in the hour after consuming alcohol.
After interviewing 390 ischemic stroke patients about their drinking patterns within three days after their stroke, researchers concluded that the risk of ischemic stroke is 2.3 times higher in the hour after alcohol is consumed than it is during periods of no alcohol consumption. (An ischemic stroke — the most common type — is one where blood supply to the brain is cut off because of a blood clot.)
The risk was the same regardless of type of alcohol — wine, beer or distilled spirits. And the increased risk was seen even with a single drink.
However, the study also found that the higher risk is short-lived, said Elizabeth Mostofsky, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Even though the risk of stroke was highest in the hour after drinking, it was lowered when alcohol had been consumed earlier than that. Among those who drank, the chance of a stroke was 30% lower when moderate amounts of alcohol had been consumed more than 24 hours earlier, compared with no alcohol intake at all. (“Moderate” is defined as no more than one drink a day for a woman and two for a man.)
Moderate drinkers may breathe easier, but they would do well to think about where they do their drinking. A recent survey by research firm Mintel found that among alcohol drinkers, a significantly greater number of people drink at home than they do in public venues. And when people do drink at home, they consume almost twice the number of drinks in an average month than they do in restaurants or bars (10 versus 5.7).
March 17, 2010
By: Liz Szabo
The cost of cancer treatment is “skyrocketing” — both for individual patients and the nation, a new analysis shows.
From 1990 to 2008, spending on cancer care soared to more than $90 billion from $27 billion. The increase was driven by the rising costs of sophisticated new drugs, robotic surgeries and radiation techniques, as well as the growing number of patients who are eligible to take them, says Peter Bach of New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, co-author of an analysis in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
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Many older, frailer patients — who might not have been considered strong enough to weather traditional surgery — now have the option to have less invasive operations or more tightly focused radiation treatments, the analysis says.
More of these patients also are able to have chemotherapy, both because of new treatments as well as “supportive” drugs to manage chemo’s side effects, such as nausea.
From 1991 to 2002, for example, the proportion of breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy doubled, to about 24%. The cost of care for each patient also doubled, from $6,642 to $12,802, the analysis says.
Those increases are “unsustainable,” says John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Growing numbers of people simply can’t afford to get the care we know they need,” Seffrin says. “We hear about a growing number of people turning down treatment.”
Charities are struggling to keep up with requests for help. In the past, the American Cancer Society could help one in five patients pay for health care bills. Today, the society can help only one in six, says Seffrin, who notes that the poor economy only adds to cancer patients’ hardships.
The social service group CancerCare helped 13% more people in 2009 than the year before and distributed nearly $4.4 million. Both CancerCare and American Cancer Society have set up organizations to help insured people with co-pays.
One in four cancer patients or their families said they used up all or most of their savings to pay for treatment, according to a 2006 survey by USA TODAY, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.
A spate of new drugs for advanced colorectal cancer also has helped patients live slightly longer but at great cost, says David Howard of Emory University, author of a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Drugs approved in the past decade extended these patients’ survival in 2005 to about 16 months — an improvement of 7 months — at an additional cost of $37,100 a patient, the study says.
Howard and Bach agree that doctors and drug companies today have no incentive to lower prices.
Cancer specialists can make more money by prescribing more expensive drugs, Bach says. Studies show that doctors who are “generously” reimbursed tend to prescribe more costly therapies.
The use of hormone-suppressing drugs for prostate cancer, for example, fell 14% in just two years after Medicare slashed what it was paying doctors, according to a 2008 study in Cancer.
“Right now, there are no economic incentives to use resources wisely,” Bach says.
November 2, 2009
By Associated Press
Independent health advisers will begin monitoring the safety of the H1N1 flu vaccine today, an extra step that the government promised in this year’s unprecedented program to watch for possible side effects.
Dr. Marie McCormick of the Harvard School of Public Health is chairwoman of the special working group whose task is to raise a red flag if members feel federal health officials miss anything.
“Given the rapidity with which this particular vaccine was rolled out, there seems to be an extra-special obligation to make sure things remain as uncomplicated as they have in the past,” McCormick said.
McCormick’s group will begin its work today by reviewing data from early studies of the vaccine in more than 10,000 people, some conducted by the government and others by manufacturers.