Friday, December 25, 2009

Football and sports in general - the other side

We see it on TV all the time. Parents dreaming of their kids playing football and when this dream is fulfilled, they are standing there, watching their rising stars, with tears in their eyes.

High School football players, playing for a deceased brother or sister --- or loved one with a backdrop of stands filled with cheering people.

Sunday afternoon stopping while everyone gathers around the big tube watching the exciting finish to a professional football game.

We hear bits and pieces... football players making big bucks, 500 thousand a year or more. We see young athletes on TV smilingly saying how they are so happy to be a part of a professional football team. A young gymnast saying how her dream is to be a part of the Olympic team...

But over the years, I've heard some other small voices here and there. Things which are unsettling, like how a large percentage of kids who play High School football, sustain back and knee injuries which plague them for life.

A lone movie depicting football as an ultra rough game, injuring many players.

Joan Ryan's book "LITTLE GIRLS IN PRETTY BOXES" depicting the sports of gymnastics and figure skating as exploitive and taking a toll on the bodies of those who are barely teenagers. A gymnast, here and there dying of a head injury. Things none of us who love sports really want to hear.

I did not allow our son to participate in any sports besides swimming (which he did not like!). And I, myself, only did one swimming competition. But like everyone else, I love watching sports on TV.

What does happen to those who achieve the ultimate dream of playing professional football?

Finally one man is breaking the silence.

Former NFL star, David Pear, is speaking out. Pear played ball for Washington University and then, went on to play with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and finally was with the Oakland Raiders when they won the Super Bowl.

And David told a Sports Illustrator writer in a phone interview, recently, that he's sorry he ever played football and sends a warning to parents to not allow their children to EVER play football.

David explained that at the age of 56, he's a physical train-wreck. He's had multiple surgeries and suffers from pain throughout his body:

His neck hurts. His hips hurt. His knees hurt. His feet hurt. When he wakes up in the morning, pain shoots through his body. When he goes to sleep at night, pain shoots through his body.

David also walks with a cane - when he walks which isn't that much. And he suffers from vertigo and memory loss, he says.

He pointed out several other former NFL players who are in wheelchairs or in other ways, very disabled and all from football.

Football isn't the only sport which creates a lot of permanent injury. In following gymnastics, I remember Olympian JC Phelps requiring joint replacements at the tender age of 18 and a medical provider remarking that many gymnasts have the bones of a 70 year old before they reach the age of 20. A member of the gold medal winning Olympic gymnastics team telling reporters she (at the age of 22) no longer does gymnastics because her "body is too broken".

Tara Lipinski who won the Olympic gold medal for figure skating in 1998, dropped out of skating soon after. After a few surgeries on her hip and a serious back injury, she had to hang up her skates for life.

We never hear about those people - only about the ones who survive like Dorothy Hamill who skated into her 50's but it's not clear whether any of today's skaters who are required to do several triple jumps just to compete will survive to their 50's still on the ice. And did anyone notice that most gymnasts retire from participation after 1 or 2 Olympics? Does anyone care?

Elite Sports in general are more and more demanding and more and more hard on the bodies of those who participate also.

And some sports are overly demanding on the athletes even in the non elite arena - like football. For example how many people who "dream" of running marathons realize that the ambulances waiting in the background ARE there for more than decoration and that often, at least one person dies during or after doing a marathon. That seems a side of the story we never hear.

Don't get me wrong - I think sports are great - and I do confess that although I do not watch football, I do enjoy watching figure skating and gymnastics. How do I calm my niggling conscience that those who are so enjoyable to watch are quite literally giving their lives and health for my entertainment? Like the typical sports fan, I guess - I remind myself that they volunteered. I wouldn't want to do it myself but ...

The NFL gave Dave Pear, a yearly disability pay but not before several years in court and his pay is not enough to compensate for the constant pain he suffers, he told the SI reporter.

Seems like a no brainer that the human body was not made to throw around as is done in football, doesn't it? And yet, so many kids continue to go through hoops to become a part of a football team as parents and friends watch proudly because this is a story no one really wants to hear.

We don't even give folks "informed consent" for elective medical procedures, many of which bite hard after a few years so why should we consider "informed consent" for sports like football? Unfortunately, football is such a part of the American entertainment picture and considering that "informed consent" might greatly cut down the numbers of those who wish to participate, I suspect we will not hear more than a few lone voices crying out about the reality of it, in the near future.

Most of the injured ones will hang around in the background, quietly suffering.

I am reminded of the movie "The Matrix" where people live in a glamorous virtual reality while they waste away in tanks, their very lives being sucked out by a large machine. Art often reflects reality. Perhaps we should pay more attention to it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Re-thinking narcotic pain control for chronic pain sufferers

There is an ongoing discussion about pain control with the majority of medical providers taking the position of being very negative toward using narcotics.

For example, this news article quotes a committee on pain management:

Chronic pain, if not recognized and treated as a chronic illness, takes an enormous personal toll on millions of patients and their families, and leads to increased health care costs. Chronic pain can also compromise the productivity of the U.S. workforce.

The article answers:

"Maybe Portenoy and Foley and the other Committee Members contributing to this report would like to address the epidemic in this country of OxyContin deaths and addictions which has taken 'an enormous personal toll on millions of patients and their families'."

Oxycontin deaths? Are they talking about pain management or are they talking about drug abusers? I would bet they are talking about drug abusers and not folks WHO NEED good pain management. And in the case of drug abusers, have they considered the large number of people killed on the road by drivers inebriated by alcoholic beverages, a highly addictive drug to which no one, it seems, objects and which has little to no value, medicinally? Have they considered the large numbers of those addicted to alcohol? Somehow this does not deter folks from enjoying their occasional drinks... on the contrary.

And for kids suffering from connective joint disease (this has really increased, in our society), perhaps narcotic pain meds should be considered, as, young folks, if in serious pain, (which is not really helped that much by NSAIDS etc) tend to "bootleg" drugs if the docs do not prescribe them, an act which could endanger them much more than prescribed drugs.

Addictive people can get addicted on legal drugs like alcohol and cigarettes (cigarettes is one of the worst addictions to shake too with a very small percentage able to give it up without numerous tries) but no one even MENTIONS those addictions.

But somehow when it comes to chronic pain, people get very strange ideas.

Why is it, I wonder, better to cook your liver and burn holes in your stomach with the NSAIDS for limited relief than to use narcotics? Or better to endanger your heart with drugs in cox 2 inhibitor class?

An 80 year old friend of mine (R.I.P.) had a vioxx-related heart attack (and his heart was healthy before that - he exercised regularly etc etc) so after this happened, there was really no relief from his severe arthritis pain since he was not given narcotics. He suffered stoically but would have had a much better quality of life in his last 3 years of life, if he had been given even small doses of a medication like oxycontin.

Pain management providers point out that those who NEED narcotics do not get "hooked" anyway... they may get DEPENDENT but that's a different thing from addiction and yet, many do not make the distinction.

People should NOTE that 95 percent of Dr Kevorkian's "patients" who sought "assisted suicide" were NOT terminally ill - they were in CHRONIC PAIN and/or depressed - most of them told Kevorkian they just wanted to stop the pain. But it seems our society is actually more accepting of "assisted suicide" as a "treatment" for chronic pain than narcotics which are the only medications which are reasonably effective.

A study a few years ago found that 65 percent or more of the elderly did NOT have good pain management because of our society's non acceptance of narcotics for pain control.

And one of the doctors on a Discovery Health CME about "none small cell carcinoma" of the lungs commented that many medical providers will not give narcotics to terminal cancer patients for "fear of getting them hooked" and he asked if this wasn't more than a bit ridiculous.

In a society which considers personal privacy so precious that it does not protect the life of an unborn baby if the mother wants to terminate, why are we invading people's PRIVACY over their own bodies and the opportunity to get relief from chronic pain? This over zealousness about prescribed narcotics seems more than a contradiction of our beliefs about a "woman's right to do as she pleases with her body" (especially as medicine does not consider the unborn baby as a part of a woman's body but rather simply HOUSED there).

In our society which has a lot of aged folks due to modern innovations in medicine etc, we must realize that a LARGE percentage of the elderly suffer with ELDERLY diseases which DO cause chronic pain.

But interestingly enough I once asked a pain management specialist what type of patient are most of his patients who are on large amounts of narcotic pain medication and surprisingly he did not answer, the elderly... his answer? Pain caused by chronic disorders like fibromyalgia or ... surgery! i.e. joint replacements, back surgeries etc. A close friend who is an RN studying to be a nurse practitioner confirmed the thing about back surgery. She has several herniated discs in her back (she is 59 going on 60) but said she would not have surgery because she finds in many patients, the surgeries just worsen things. Many of the chronic pain sufferers I know, had gastric bypass (for weight loss) several years ago. Some of them get narcotics and some of them do not - many doctors balk at prescribing these for fear of repercussions from the Drug Administration and those who do not get pain meds suffer a huge amount of depression. A study on 10 year post op weight loss surgery patients found that there was a much larger percentage of suicide in this population than even in severely obese people.... (and obese people are basically shunned by society and medicine alike)

If we are really worried about addiction, why not go after the liquor lobby? Besides the huge number of people killed or maimed by drunk drivers, consider that every drink of an alcoholic beverage kills liver cells (and we wonder why in a society where liquor freely flows, we have a large percentage of liver failure?) Or the cigarette companies (especially when cigarettes and tobacco usage are a factor in 400,000 deaths a year in the USA and 95 percent of COPD and 90 percent of lung cancers)?

I think healthcare may be broken but not because of the 30 million uninsured (of which, some pundits tell us, the present "reforms" will only cover half of these, still leaving 15 million uninsured) but because of, for one, the prevalent strange attitudes on pain control.

As the committee mentioned in the article stated, chronic pain takes a toll on everyone, and most of all the sufferer, many of whom stay in and are not active due to poor pain management and worse yet, suffer reactive clinical depression due to very poor quality of life.

I would bet that none of the writers of the affore mentioned news article suffer chronic pain!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Congressman Rogers statements about Health care plan

Thought provoking speech on the present Health Care plan under consideration...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

H1N1 vaccine flu mist package insert - SHOULD READ before taking vaccine

Please read the following excerpts from the package insert for the H1N1 vaccine (delivery - flu-mist) and then, read the insert itself. I have referenced the sections the excerpts were taken from for your convenience. The insert is a PDF file on the FDA website.

Package insert for H1N1 vaccine:


Do NOT give to Children less than 24 months old

5.1 Risks in Children <24 Months of Age

DO NOT give to people with asthma - has not been studied in individuals with severe asthma!

5.2 Asthma/Recurrent Wheezing
Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Live, Intranasal or FluMist should not be administered to any individuals with asthma or children < 5 years of age with recurrent wheezing because of the potential for increased risk of wheezing post vaccination unless the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk.
Do not administer Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Live, Intranasal or FluMist to individuals with severe asthma or active wheezing because these individuals have not been studied in clinical trials.

DO NOT GIVE TO Immune challenged (was studied in 57 people who were HIV positive but they say not enough data to justify administering in this group)

5.4 Altered Immunocompetence
Administration of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Live, Intranasal, or FluMist live virus vaccine, to immunocompromised persons should be based on careful consideration of potential benefits and risks. Although FluMist was studied in 57 asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic adults with HIV infection [see Clinical Studies (14.3)], data supporting the safety and effectiveness of FluMist administration in immunocompromised individuals are limited.

"May not protect all individuals receiving the vaccine"

5.7 Limitations of Vaccine Effectiveness
Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Live, Intranasal may not protect all individuals receiving the vaccine.

Later, they admitted the vaccine had not been evaluated for effectiveness (way down in the document!) Different story from what we have read on the news, right?

Clinical trials - adverse reactions:

6.1 Adverse Reactions in Clinical Trials

Increased hospitalizations in children receiving "flu mist"

Most hospitalizations observed were gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections and occurred more than 6 weeks post vaccination. In post hoc analysis, rates of hospitalization in children 6-11 months of age (n = 1376) were 6.1% in FluMist recipients and 2.6% in active control recipients.

Adverse reactions in adults: (same section as above)

In adults 18-49 years of age in Study AV009, summary of solicited adverse events occurring in at least 1% of FluMist recipients and at a higher rate compared to placebo include runny nose (44% FluMist vs. 27% placebo), headache (40% FluMist vs. 38% placebo), sore throat (28% FluMist vs. 17% placebo), tiredness/weakness (26% FluMist vs. 22% placebo), muscle aches (17% FluMist vs. 15% placebo), cough (14% FluMist vs. 11% placebo), and chills (9% FluMist vs. 6% placebo).
In addition to the solicited events, other adverse reactions from Study AV009 occurring in at least 1% of FluMist recipients and at a higher rate compared to placebo were: nasal congestion (9% FluMist vs. 2% placebo) and sinusitis (4% FluMist vs. 2% placebo).

Post marketing experience: adverse reactions i.e. these are side effects of the vaccine noticed after they started marketing the vaccine!

6.2 Postmarketing Experience

Congenital, familial and genetic disorder: Exacerbation of symptoms of mitochondrial encephalomyopathy (Leigh syndrome).
Gastrointestinal disorders: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Immune system disorders: Hypersensitivity reactions (including anaphylactic reaction, facial edema and urticaria)
Nervous system disorders: Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome, Bell’s Palsy
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders: Epistaxis
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders: Rash

This vaccine is NOT approved for people, over 50 years old:

8.5 Geriatric Use
Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Live, Intranasal is not approved for use in individuals .65 years of age. Subjects with underlying high-risk medical conditions (n=200) were studied for safety. Compared to controls, FluMist recipients had a higher rate of sore throat.

8.6 Use in Individuals 50-64 Years of Age
Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Live, Intranasal is not approved for use in individuals 50-64 years of age. In Study AV009, effectiveness of FluMist was not demonstrated in individuals 50-64 years of age (n=641). Solicited adverse events were similar in type and frequency to those reported in younger adults.

They don't really understand HOW it works: (and how well it works)

12.1 Mechanism of Action
Immune mechanisms conferring protection against influenza following receipt of FluMist vaccine are not fully understood. Likewise, naturally acquired immunity to wild-type influenza has not been completely elucidated. Serum antibodies, mucosal antibodies and influenza-specific T cells may play a role in prevention and recovery from infection.

They don't know if this vaccine will cause infertility or cancer:

13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Neither Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Live, Intranasal nor FluMist have been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential or potential to impair fertility.

This vaccine has not been found effective in people over 50 years old. In a subgroup of adults, 18-49, the vaccine reduced illness with fever from 10 percent to 23 percent. This was a study in non high risk adults i.e. adults with no other medical conditions.

14.2 Study in Adults

Effectiveness for any of the three endpoints was not demonstrated in a subgroup of adults 50-64 years of age. Primary and secondary effectiveness endpoints from the age group 18-49 years of age are presented in Table 5.

While in a double blind study (57 in experimental group) of adults with HIV, the vaccine did not cause any worsening of their condition, they did not know whether or not it was effective in proventing the swine flu:

14.3 Study in Adults with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection
Safety and shedding of vaccine virus following FluMist administration were evaluated in 57 HIV-infected [median CD4 cell count of 541 cells/mm3] and 54 HIV-negative adults 18-58 years of age in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial using the frozen formulation. No serious adverse events were reported during the one-month follow-up period. Vaccine strain (type B) virus was detected in 1 of 28 HIV-infected subjects on Day 5 only and none of the HIV-negative FluMist recipients. No adverse effects on HIV viral load or CD4 counts were identified following FluMist. The effectiveness of FluMist in preventing influenza illness in HIV-infected individuals has not been evaluated.

Medical providers were told that they can receive the shot and immediately go back to their patients without worrying about transmitting the viruses to their patients. But that's NOT what the package insert says... on the contrary, they DO NOT KNOW whether or not these viruses can be transmitted:

14.5 Transmission Study
FluMist contains live attenuated influenza viruses that must infect and replicate in cells lining the nasopharynx of the recipient to induce immunity. Vaccine viruses capable of infection and replication can be cultured from nasal secretions obtained from vaccine recipients. The relationship of viral replication in a vaccine recipient and transmission of vaccine viruses to other individuals has not been established.

Although the PDF distributed to medical providers (containing a bunch of myths about the safety and efficacy of this vaccine) never mentioned this, look what *I* found on the LAST PAGE of the package insert information... basically MEDICAL PROVIDERS SHOULD GIVE INFORMED CONSENT about this vaccine:

That is, the package insert says on the last page that your provider of the vaccine should let you know ALL OF THE ABOVE BEFORE you consent to take the vaccine!

Vaccine recipients or their parents/guardians should be informed by the health care provider of the potential benefits and risks of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Live, Intranasal, and should be advised that there are two influenza vaccine formulations for this influenza season, the monovalent vaccine against disease caused by pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus and seasonal trivalent influenza vaccine.

Convenient URL to share to read this package insert which is on the FDA website: (copy into email or blog)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

testing a new vaccine - H1N1 but not telling you about it

ABC has a video on their site showing several doctors who have the same concerns many people have about the swine flu vaccine - fast tracked, untested, too new - and are telling their patients to wait on this one. ABC news "medical expert" stated pretty much the same inaccuracies that our state health dept stated in the PDF below... "oh no, it's totally pure, been throughly tested" (in three months of testing?) And "it's the same as the regular flu vaccine" which is totally inaccurate - it's a totally NEW vaccine in concept, formulation and delivery.

Following are the inaccuracies the CDC in conjunction with the media and health depts are telling people all over the USA - this seems one step further than just not giving us informed consent that they are actually testing a new vaccine on US!

This is taken from a document released from our state health dept, a PDF to medical providers and contains pretty much the same inaccuracies I've heard from several places - here is the "informed consent information" people SHOULD be given about this new vaccine:

1. "You cannot get the flu from attenuated virus vaccines"

Inaccurate: you CAN get the illness from ANY LIVE virus vaccine.... do health care workers really not know this fact?

2. "Fact 6: The H1N1 vaccine has been properly and rigorously tested for safety and efficacy."

Inaccurate: This vaccine was "fast tracked" meaning it's not been well tested for EITHER safety OR efficacy. That's impossible with a fast tracked medication. Furthermore, its delivery as "flu mist" inhaled is controversial because concerns have been raised about the viruses attenuated or other (there are ALWAYS SOME WHICH DO NOT GET WEAKENED in live virus vaccine) crossing the blood / brain barrier and causing problems. Which is why "flu mist" has never been a real popular delivery... despite it being more "attractive" than an injection.

A friend of mine saw a CDC person interviewed on TV - he admitted that they were basically testing this on the public who will receive the vaccine. That's a no brainer with a very different vaccine which has been "fast tracked" to FDA approval.

3. "Fact 7: Multi-dose vials of H1N1 vaccine contain safe amounts of thimerosal, a vaccine preservative, which prevents contamination with bacteria and fungi."

Partially accurate. Thimerosal which is a type of mercury, is used as a preservative but there has been NO SAFE amount established and some studies have linked the receiving of a yearly flu shot with higher risk of neurological disease and Alzheimers. Mercury is highly toxic even in minute amounts.

4. "Fact 8: No causal connection has been found linking the use of thimerosal as a vaccine preservative and the incidence of autism, speech or language delay, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder"

Not accurate - some studies have found a link between the MMR and autism which has SUDDENLY greatly increased in incidence, including a well done clinical study of several years duration in the UK which has been ignored by the American media. (You know like the 38 worldwide studies suggesting a link between abortion and breast cancer have been ignored by the AMC and the AMA?)

5. "Fact 9: Healthcare workers can safely receive the live attenuated (“weakened”) Influenza virus vaccine (Flumist) and go back to work immediately without risk of spreading the weakened virus to their patients UNLESS they work directly with bone marrow transplant patients."

May be inaccurate as flu can take 7-10 days to incubate and in that period, a person is said to be the most contagious.

6. "Fact 10: There is a much higher risk of getting Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) from having influenza illness than from getting vaccinated for influenza."

The CDC has admitted in other places, that there IS a risk of Guillain Barre with the H1N1 vaccine, specifically, and that it is unknown what that risk is. In 1976, they had 4000 cases of GBS FROM the vaccine and, by the way, the "great pandemic" predicted, never hit.

Australia ordered a version of the H1N1 vaccine without Thimerosal, without squalene and with DEAD viruses.... (i.e. their National Health Service).

The H1N1 vaccine also contains an adjuvant called "squalene" which is supposed to enhance the immune system however this has been poorly tested if at all and some studies have suggested it as a factor in the "Gulf war syndrome" (the vaccines given the soldiers had this in it and vaccines have not contained it since).

OK, Here's my take on this. The vaccine for H1N1 is TOTALLY new in every way for a flu vaccine, even the delivery. They are beta testing it on the public and if they pull it off i.e. do not have disastrous side effects, then think of what they will have... a vaccine which (1) enhances the immune system, (2) delivers a better immunity than a dead virus vaccine (though so far NONE of them deliver more than a couple of years immunity) and (3) has an attractive delivery system.... no shot!

Doing the math... a BIG SELLER! If they do have disastrous side effects, then they will say "oh well" because you know what.. the American public has a very short memory and so not much damage will be done... No one will remember it a couple of years down the line. So not really much of a risk for the pharmaceutical but a big risk for the American public who is NOT getting "informed consent" not even the medical providers... and if they JUST can test it on medical providers that will be enough of a test base for them. thousands. (a large segment of the public is NOT getting the H1N1 vaccine).

There was an article in Scientific American detailing this process - the fact that the pharmaceuticals (and surgeons) have to do this sort of thing with beta testing new procedures and drugs on the public largely because experimentation on human beings is against the law. They took the example of giving O2 to premies on the theory that it would help them... this blinded thousands of kids. They stated that if they had done a double blind study - 600 receive O2 and 600 do not, they would have found out within a year that o2 can cause blindness and you would have had no more than 600 blind babies instead of the thousands blinded over the 10 years they were testing this. But then, even if human experimentation WERE legal, who would volunteer?

They have done this sort of "beta test" several times... it's not a new concept and if Americans READ more instead of getting most of their info from TV, they would know this process... "who does not study history, is doomed to repeat it"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

John McCain plain talks on the "Today Show"

As we all know, the President made a passionate speech to a joint session of Congress yesterday which was televised to the American people, at times, yelling at them to stop bickering and pass the darned bill already. He then tried to de-bunk what he called the "myths" going around. "This bill will strengthen your insurance if you have insurance and offer insurance to you if you don't have insurance." "There are no death panels," he said, criticizing Sarah Palin's remark. Continuing, Obama said "of course there are some details to be ironed out..." a comment which got quite a laugh from the Congress persons in attendance, obviously surprising the president who apparently did NOT make that comment in jest.

And at one point, a Republican Congressman did the unbelievable. He interrupted the President, yelling "You're lying!"

He of course, apologized to the White House later, saying his conduct was inappropriate but this seemed to leave the media with the question of "was Obama lying?", a question never even asked about Bill Clinton who was known to spin a tale or two.

So this morning, the "Today Show" filmed a live interview with Vice President Biden and John McCain. First they talked to Biden and asked him "was the president lying?" Biden backed up the president but basically just reiterated what the president had said, as if he had, if not written the speech, then at least, was very familiar with it because he used basically the same words the president did.

Vice President Biden, when asked if the interrupting Congressman had represented some feelings among other Congress persons, emphatically said that he didn't believe it did, since John McCain and the rest distanced themselves from the remark. "I believe there is some real unity about this," said the VP, "and that we will have a bill before Thanksgiving."

But the shocker came when John McCain, specifically named by VP Biden, for being "in unity" with the President, was interviewed.

Matt Lauer asked McCain about several points in the President's speech - was he lying, Lauer wanted to know (this is interesting in itself because I have never remembered the media even THINKING that a president would be lying).

First about illegal immigrants... will they be covered in the present bill, asked Lauer. McCain answered, "Illegal immigrants are not covered," adding that it changes the number of uninsured in the USA from 47 million down to about 30 million.

Huh? You want to tell me that with all the bucks proposed to be spent, the govt getting into our health care etc, the bill will only insure 17 million more than are insured now?

But it gets better.

Matt Lauer asked if Palin's remark about "death panels" had any truth to it. John answered that the current bill does not establish death panels BUT added that a $500 billion dollar cut in Medicare spending is planned - he pointed out that in other countries when that large a cut in spending was done, rationing DID happen which could lead to the "death panels" so the concern of seniors was definitely appropriate.

Matt Lauer asked if the President was truthful about the three basics the bill established: ensure those who do not have insurance, provide stability to those who are insured i.e. guarantees that they can keep the insurance they already have and cuts costs.

McCain had aleady said that it does not provide health insurance for all - only 17 million of the 47 million uninsured. He now added that it did NOT cut costs -

"According to the Congressional budget office it's going to cost an additional TRILLION dollars - I have yet to see any REAL MEANINGFUL reductions in cost - in fact the Congressional Budget office said that there will be cost increases..."

He also pointed out that if your employer switches to the government option (which might be cheaper than their current insurance contracts), and you are getting insurance through your employer then you will NOT be able to keep your present insurance but will have to go on the government plan.

"The president keeps saying if you like your Health Insurance policy you can keep it - well if the govt option is adopted by an employer and you have employer provided insurance then you're not going to be able to keep it so that's false also. It's certainly not accurate."

It should be noted that 2 of my friends' employers have already said if they pass a government plan, they will switch.

So much for our choice in keeping our present insurance.

Will the Plan add to the deficit and will there be spending cuts, asked Matt Lauer.

McCain's answer was:

"We've now gone from a 7 trillion dollar deficit to a 9 trillion dollar deficit just in the last few weeks over a 10 year period. There is very little if anything in this package that calls for real spending reductions and a trillion dollars is basically what it's going to cost. And that's according to the Congressional budget office!"

John McCain added that pork barrel spending and earmarking continues despite the President's promise to curve this.

And is it true as VP Biden said, that there was cohesiveness on this bill or should we start from scratch, Lauer asked.

McCain said that it had NOT been, (as the President told the American people) a bipartisan effort at all and in fact, so far, NOT ONE Republican had been present at the negotiation sessions.

"Perhaps we should start over and really BE bipartisan. The president mentioned that it has gone through 4 of the 5 committees but it has done so, without a single Republican negotiator in the room! There has been NO bipartisanship in addressing the Health Care Issue! I've BEEN in bipartisan negotiations. I know what they are and it has been totally absent from the addressing of this issue. Maybe we ought to really sit down and negotiate which we haven't done. Facts are stubborn things."

McCain concluded that he hoped Congress WOULD have a bill soon because we needed reform and there were many areas of agreement, but that it should be a REAL bipartisan effort and it should NOT lay another trillion dollars to the deficit, the real brunt of which would be felt by the next generation.

Thanks to John McCain for having the courage to speak out on the "Today Show". He is an American hero who is admired on both sides of the fence and known to be a "Plain talker". But today, he became even more of a hero to me and perhaps many other Americans who want to hear the real story on this.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New York Times says seniors' concerns are real

I've been studying the pro's and con's of the proposed health care bill and it is confusing.

The most voiced fears are those of seniors who fear health care rationing, a restriction on expensive procedures to prolong life for a few years and limited access to specialists.

I have said since all the debating began that a financially sustainable single payer healthcare system MUST, in fact, include the above and even WITH including the above, did anyone add the price of covering "everyone"? No, I'm sure they didn't but no one has noticed that the income taxes in countries with single payer healthcare are THREE TIMES higher than they are in the USA.

And of course, the President has said several times that we would all have to sacrifice and that he did not agree with a knee replacement for his grandma etc.

And if we had any doubts of this, there is a well researched book by medical ethicist, Daniel Callahan called "FALSE HOPES" where after researching all the single payer, govt systems in the world, he states the same sobering facts (even though he states up front, he feels a single payer system is the way to go).

But many have listened blindly to the politicians telling us that these worries are a "myth". Those were the nice politicians. The nasty ones tell us that the concerns and questions (which were NOT answered in the so called "Town Halls") are a conspiracy by the Republicans and/or Conservatives and/or religionists or whatever.

But now, those of us who have had concerns have had a breakthrough. The New York Times printed a story which included a statement that these concerns of rationing, limited access to specialists and restricting of expensive procedures for the elderly are NOT unreasonable at all.

In fact the Medicare advisory committee, concerned that Medicare is going broke, this week, suggested .... rationing, limited access to specialists (GPs are just as good they say - which we know is a crock) and restriction of expensive procedures as a way to save Medicare!

And we all know that if the New York Times prints it, people will believe what we have been saying for a couple of months now. Because people believe the New York Times like it's the gospel.

Here is another statement in another story in the New York Times (Gospel again, right?). This comes from a story called "Tackling the Mystery of what it costs".

"Under health insurance reform, insurance plans will be required to give consumers much more information about what is covered and what is not. They will be expected to warn consumers that if they go out of network, they can be hit with some very high costs."

To someone not involved with one of the large insurance companies, this may not mean much but I, being thus involved myself, can attest to the fact that we HAD to go "out of network" because the IN network providers were not only "not too good" but absolutely horrendous - wrong diagnosis, unneeded surgeries, wrong treatment etc.

So I HAD to go out of network. And the idea of "high costs" is not a nice one to me.

And then, there are things like the place where you are supposed to get your blood work, looks kind of like you are going to catch something. That is, IF they can get the needle IN. Most always I've gone there, there is a new person just learning - on me. Hence, we finally are paying the doctor's assistant to do the draw!

The pundits tell us that the in network providers will have to be improved. Anyone holding their breath for this to happen?

Anyway, there are REAL concerns for seniors - you can believe it because the New York times printed it. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

figures, statistics and lies

Today, I got an "alternate health" ad in the mail. It claimed that the number 36,000 deaths a year from flu was a false figure and in fact only about 750 people died a year from the flu and "that was from the CDC".

I didn't believe it. I had never questioned the 36,000 deaths a year from the flu and had quoted the figure myself because it came from the CDC.

But the ad got my curiosity going. Easy enough to look up. I looked up "FLU DEATHS" CDC" and got this page.

As you can see, it IS on the CDC website. Turns out that the truth (according to the CDC) is no one KNOWS how many die from the flu so the estimations were made from a percentage of those who die from respiratory disease deaths and other mathematical constructs.

The CDC writes:

Does CDC know the exact number of people who die from flu each year?

CDC does not know exactly how many people die from flu each year. There are several reasons for this: First, states are not required to report individual flu cases or deaths of people older than 18 years of age to CDC. Second, influenza is infrequently listed on death certificates of people who die from flu-related complications [12]. Third, many flu-related deaths occur one or two weeks after a person’s initial infection, either because the person may develop a secondary bacterial co-infection (such as a staph infection) [1,8,11] or because influenza can aggravate an existing chronic illness (such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) [3]. Also, most people who die from flu-related complications are not tested for flu, or they seek medical care later in their illness when influenza can no longer be detected from respiratory samples. Influenza tests are only likely to detect influenza if performed within a week after onset of illness. For these reasons, many flu-related deaths may not be recorded on death certificates. These are some of the reasons that CDC and other public health agencies in the United States and other countries use statistical models to estimate the annual number of flu-related deaths. ***

Oh - that's enlightening! No one KNOWS so they use a mathematical model to come up with the 36,000 deaths a year from the flu. Here is it, right from the horse's mouth! But when this figure is quoted, have you ever heard they say they really DO NOT KNOW how many a year die from the flu and that the deaths are usually from something else? hmmmm

This even shocked ME....Somehow I had never questioned the 36,000 deaths they were claiming...

So why DOES the CDC "ESTIMATE" the number of deaths from flu (and puff it up... hmmm)

Here is their answer to that one:

Why does CDC estimate deaths associated with flu?

CDC feels it is important to convey the full burden of flu to the public. Flu is a serious disease that causes illness and deaths nearly every year in the United States. CDC estimates of annual influenza-associated deaths in the United States are made using well-established scientific methods that have been reviewed by scientists outside of CDC [10]. CDC feels that these estimates are a timely representation of the current burden of flu on the United States.

But these numbers are used by the media etc to scare folks into getting the vaccine which is BIG MONEY for the manufacturers....

Enlightening. That's why it's good to read EVERYTHING. I didn't believe the alternate health ad but that claim was bold enough for me to question something I might have never questioned and which, I guess, should have been questioned in the first place.

So let's talk about the proposed Health Care program. Obama tells us that the concerns of the public are all because of the evil Republicans and all a bunch of lies.

For example, abortion won't be paid for in the Health care bill, he tells us. But the bill says different. ALL SURGERIES are paid for and abortion is a surgery. So some Democrats and Republicans tried to introduce amendments that made sure abortion was EXCEPTED out of surgeries. And the amendments failed.

If abortion is not paid for, why didn't the amendments pass? We all remember the youtube video how Obama promised Planned Parenthood that he would not deviate from his total abortion stance (from conception to birth).

Seniors are concerned that the Health Care bill might mean rationing of care for seniors. Obama answers us with "there is no rationing in the bill" and that seniors are not to worry but seniors were not born yesterday. Treating seniors is expensive and they suspect unless there is an amendment which GUARANTEES them treatment, they don't trust Obama's reassurance, especially when he admitted that it was right to not give his grandmother a joint replacement and has talked about how expensive it was to treat seniors when they might only have a few years of life left. Seniors know that the expensive health care program has to be paid for in some manner and that in other plans, care IS rationed to save bucks.

This is not the "evil Republicans" or "insurance companies". This is just people finally beginning to do what they should have done in the first place. Question - everything and trust - no one.

You know the old "In God we trust - all others pay cash" idea?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Multiple Sclerosis- Tysabri - miracle drug?

Biogen, the manufacturer of Tysabri, saw its stock fall this week when 3 people taking the medication for Multiple Sclerosis, recently, came down with a potentially deadly brain infection called "progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy", or PML. This was a disappointment because Biogen had hoped to make its mint off Tysabri since its other drug, Avonex has a lot of competition from similar drugs like Rebif. Biogen apparently is already doing damage control with a video on Fox news promising great results for the medication.

But if we listen closely, even the video tells us some rather unsettling things:

  • How it works: this medication prevents immune cells from crossing into the brain (probably why it can cause that severe brain disorder - how many OTHER brain disorders can it cause which may not have yet, been connected to tysabri?)

  • The patient said it was nice she didn't have to do daily or every other day injections like with the other medications she had tried, but the picture of how Tysabri is administered was quickly flashed with no explanation. It is INFUSED which is done in the oncology ward - an outpatient procedure in the hospital which comes with some issues of its own.

  • Tysabri gives many patients a 70 percent improvement in symptoms said the video - but remember the placebo effect with MS is 85 - 90 percent (i.e. 85-90 percent of MS patients get better even if given sugar pills!) so that means not only is Tysabri NOT effective but since it doesn't even match up to the placebo effect, it must be making some patients worse.

Because several in the Tysabri trials also got PML (2 of whom died which is really bad because Multiple Sclerosis does NOT kill its victims), the medication was shelved by the FDA in 2005 pending more research. However pressure from several including a couple of celebs who wanted to take the drug and probably Biogen, caused the FDA to conditionally approve it the following year with a warning label.

And unfortunately many people with MS who are desperate (and feel they would rather be dead than totally paralyzed) flock to DO SOMETHING, take SOME medication even though with NONE of the MS medications is anything like a "cure" promised. The available drugs are called "disease modifying" which in plain English means it MAY make your symptoms better (but no guarantees), something we are hearing more and more often from the medical profession which no longer promises to "first do no harm".

The truth about the slowly progressive MS (which is the only type the medications are supposed to help) is that if you live healthy, do not smoke or drink, do NOT take any drugs or have any surgery for it and get your head together, reduce stress and other healthy things, MS will likely not progress to the point of causing much disability until you are VERY elderly (if at all).

One study by the MS society found that 10 years after diagnosis, the majority of MS patients were still walking and medical treatment of which the side effects are worse than the disease, has traditionally been that which causes early disability as do bad health habits like smoking, party drugs etc. (Note: this study was long before the so called "disease modifying" drugs many MSers take now)

When Sylvia Lawry was alive, and president of the MS society (which she founded - her brother had MS) the society was not real well funded and did not advocate any medical treatment, repeatedly assuring members that the best treatment for MS was good nutrition, good health habits and "some walking, some sitting, some standing and some lying" (i.e. rest periods during the day).

And as many folks who got sick from medical treatments, people still flocked to each new one. There was for example, the Medrol treatment which initially lightened symptoms but in the long run made patients worse and caused tuberculosis in some,and surgery like stereo-tactic brain surgery which Annette Funnicello had - despite the fact that it was condemned as a too risky not effective treatment for MS tremors at the 1972 symposium for MS at UCLA. There were the less risky quack treatments also, like the guy who sold small trampolines and said if you jumped on them facing east every day, the earth's magnetic field would cure your MS.

But when Lawry died, the MS Society took a different turn, perhaps one which Lawry would NOT have agreed with and formed alliances with several pharmaceutical corporations which yielded them millions of research bucks, and bucks for glitzy monthly magazines but had the down side of causing patients to be "strongly encouraged" to buy the medications from the pharmaceutical companies, most of which had not even been tested on diagnosed patients (they were tested on people who were thought to be coming down with MS) and were not shown very effective. (why they call the drugs "disease modifying").

I once asked one of the researchers why no "double blind studies" had been done on the medications offered for MS and he said "well, because they do show improvement in patients, it would be considered unethical to deny the controls the help." Sounded lame to me. Especially as the "improvement" is judged by the number of white patches in the brain which show on the MRI which are thought to be MS related, but the doctor admitted that these can change by the hour and one patient having a lot of white patches in one MRI could have several of these move or disappear in the next MRI. He also admitted that the white patches seen on the brain could be NON MS related.

All seems a bit of a house of cards to encourage patients to put a chemical into their bodies which is known to challenge the immune system thus making them more susceptible to illness INCLUDING cancer.

As shakey as the research was on the so called "ABC" drugs (Avonex,Betaserone and Copaxon), Tysabri was a different case because even their less than great research found the deadly repercussion of PML. (Other side effects include flu like symptoms, infusion-site reactions, fatigue, headaches, joint pain and Increased Susceptibility to Infections.)

It might be prudent for MS patients to rewind back to the society's advice before their marriage with the pharmaceutical companies - live healthy, de-stress and don't overdo - still the best "treatment" for Multiple Sclerosis.

It seems that only miracle about Tysabri is how MS patients flock to take it!

NOTE: a certain number of people diagnosed with MS may be actually suffering neurological symptoms from other disorders including aspartame allergies and/or B12 shortages. Newly diagnosed patients should quit drinking diet soda and other things with aspartame/nutrasweet in them and also consider taking B12 supplements or even B12 shots.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

History repeats - swine flu scare campaign to sell flu shots

This video of a CNN "60 minutes" show on the swine flu shot propaganda in 1976.... 4000 people got Guillan Barre (French Polio) from the shot for the "pandemic" which never hit, is a MUST SEE. The show exposes the propaganda, how the tested shot wasn't the one that was eventually given to the people, how the names of celebrities were used to sell the shot. Also interviews one of the victims who survived Guillian Barre. One lady in our church was made a widow by her husband getting Guillian Barre from that flu shot! This show is important considering the propaganda machine is again ramping up to sell us the THREE flu shots for the oncoming flu season.

It should be noted that so far, the swine flu virus seems to be a very mild flu - most of the deaths were in Mexico and we know that 4 of the deaths in the USA were ill people to begin with.

Additionally, the flu vaccine apparently requires a lot of preservative and they use a substance called "Timerisol" which is a form of mercury and very toxic. Some studies have suggested that people who regularly got flu shots are more likely to come down with neurological disease and alzheimers etc.

I took a flu shot the year I was carrying our son in pregnancy and STILL got the flu! Right then and there, I decided that the flu shot didn't work.

It doesn't because there are some 22 flu viruses circulating, any one of which can hit you and cause you to become ill and only 5 or 6 of which are covered in the vaccine.

This Fall we will be pushed to take 3 shots, one for flu, one for Swine Flu and a third booster. As Obama is again buying TV time to push his "fix" for Health care, he has ALREADY stated that he is planning "an aggressive education" of the American people to sell us the flu shots in the Fall.

Finally, to compare the 1918 pandemic to now is ridiculous! In 1918, they had NO INDOOR PLUMBING, no anti biotics, very little idea of sanitation and no idea of nutrition or vitamins (people still died of Beri Beri). The swine flu in 1918 killed 10 percent of the public which means that 90 percent LIVED from it.

Since then, we have been through several "pandemic" (which just means that the same flu hit all around the world during flu season). In the less developed countries with less sanitation, there are more deaths. Here in the USA, most deaths from flu are actually from opportunistic bacteria and we have anti biotics for that.

Bottom line, don't panic... watch this video:

Then perhaps visit the national vaccine information center to make an informed choice. Best way to handle flu is a healthy lifestyle, and if you get sick, rest, lots of liquids and antibiotics if you need them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Swine Flu Primer - myths and realities

Since the Swine Flu craze started I have been studying it and finally, have enough information to give you a feel for what to expect, what is true, what is a myth or misunderstanding and how to figure out what is happening. Here for your edification is a FAQ. Save this because as you see, you will need it this Fall also, when the swine flu might (or might not) hit hard. (Flu viruses cannot live in the heat of summer).

1. The Swine Flu virus is a new virus so you have no immunity to it. True?

Well, yes but it isn't as bad as it sounds.

A virus is different from a bacteria which used to be called a member of the plant kingdom but now has it's own kingdom. A virus is something inbetween a protein molecule and a simple form of one celled life like a bacteria. It looks kind of like a soccer ball (but is so small it cannot be seen without a very powerful microscope). A virus doesn't eat but it reproduces. That's why it doesn't exactly fit the explanation of "life" (must eat and reproduce)

The way your body recognizes a virus is by its "cover" and when a virus mutates, it changes its cover - think of a pillow - someone changes the pillow cover while you are not looking and you wouldn't recognize it as a pillow you know, would you? This is a simple explanation but without getting into the 50 dollar words, this is similar to your immune system and a mutated virus. That is, ANY mutated virus looks brand new to your body and can get you sick before you have time to make antibodies to fight it. (Antibodies latch on to each virus and disable it).

So it doesn't matter whether it's an old re-worked virus or a new one like the swine flu virus - it's all the same to your body. The body has to make new antibodies to disable it and until it gears up, you might get sick (or you might NOT get sick!). Our body's immune systems make antibodies a whole lot faster than the pharmaceuticals can make a vaccine! Thank Heavens!

2. What does "level 5" pandemic mean?

Well, that doesn't mean it's a killer flu. It doesn't really have much to do with how sick any flu virus will make you, says the CDC. On "the Doctors" TV Show, Dr Stephen Galson, acting surgeon general stated that

"The level 5 is how public health officials communicate with each other on how they will prepare for the flu as far as vaccines etc."

He added:

"The levels do not tell about the severity of the outbreak and people should not pay attention to the levels..."

3. But shouldn't I worry? There have been 2 deaths from the swine flu in the USA now!

Let's look at the 2 deaths. The first was a 22 month old baby who had "other health issues" that is he'd been ill for a while - he was born in Mexico. The second is a lady who had "chronic health issues" (something like MS or Lupus or ?).

38,000 people die each year, as a repercussion of the several flu viruses going around. Now that sounds like a lot but consider that 25 to 50 million GET the flu every year and so those who die are a very small percentage - 1.5% to less than 1% of those who get the flu.

To put this into prospective, Malaria kills 1.5 to 3 million people a year and affects 40 percent of the world's population, about 2400 million. ref: Malaria what it is

So it's not that the swine flu is necessarily deadly (it seems to be not real contagious or deadly but the public health dept has to be ready just in case) but that next flu season, some of the 38,000 deaths from the repercussions of the flu might be from the swine flu.

As Dr Frank Joseph, MD stated in a recent letter to his mailing list (and you can ask any medical provider about this - they will tell you the same thing!):

People do NOT die from the flu, it's the complications that are deadly --mostly pneumonia. In 1918, there were no antibiotics. The people who have currently died from the flu probably waited too long to seek treatment.
Personally, I do not believe in giving antibiotics for every little thing that comes along but in this case they are warranted.

Which brings us to our next question:

4. I worry that a pandemic of flu will kill thousands of people like it did in 1918.

Ever wonder why we have not had such a pandemic since? We had NO ANTIBIOTICS back in 1918. Also no indoor plumbing, no central heating and not a real good idea of vitamins or nutrition. All of which would contribute to people getting pneumonia or some other repercussion of the flu and dying. As the Junkfood science blog pointed out, we have lived through many "pandemics" since then without them killing huge numbers of people.

NOW IS DIFFERENT. Don't worry about it. Tell your friends. This is one of the biggest misconceptions I've heard from many people.

5. Can you catch the flu from a toilet seat?

OK, I'm being silly here but it got your attention, right? :) There seem to be many misconceptions about how you catch the flu. You don't catch it from shaking hands with someone or touching your dog although you can pick up bacteria that way.

Viruses travel through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. That's why flu is so contagious. Being in the same room with a person with flu will expose you.

Another misconception is that if someone coughs at you, and you go home and get sick the next day, you caught whatever that person had.

WRONG. It takes about 2 weeks for you to come down with the flu after you have been exposed to it. (So think about who coughed on you two weeks ago!)

Worse yet, the person is the MOST contagious JUST BEFORE they actually come down with the flu. Nice huh? Viruses are sneaky.

6. So what's the best thing to do if I come down with flu?

Remember the old fashioned remedy? Go to bed, drink plenty of liquids - juice not coffee (and yes vitamin C does help), get lots of rest, eat veggies. If you are a person who works out regularly (I hope you are! Exercise is the best way to help your health!) then continue to work out but do a shorter lighter work out. Why? A workout wil,l believe it or not, help you get better faster. But DO NOT OVERDO IT or you will make things worse. If you are a runner, for example, just walk slowly on the treadmill for a half hour or so.

And if it hangs on or you start getting major chest congestion, see your medical provider! Whatever you do, DO NOT IGNORE IT. This is the best way to get a bacterial infection which can be very nasty.

7. What about the flu vaccine?

Unfortunately, the last vaccine for swine flu was a disaster. The swine flu never really hit but the vaccine ended up killing about 500 or more people.

The CDC assures us that they have a good system for testing in place and the new vaccine should be safe but no one can be sure, they disclaim.

If you are a person who gets a chill and gets pneumonia, you should probably get a jab. If you are a person with a normal immune system (or reasonably normal), it's your choice.

They have announced that for Fall (the start of flu season) they cannot add the swine flu virus to the flu vaccine already in production, so they will have a separate jab or two for it. Three shots they are talking about.

"That's a hard sell" observed Meredith Vierra of "The Today Show" and the official answer was that President Obama is planning "an aggressive education of the public through TV" in favor of getting the shots. (We know President Obama can do 'aggressive TV campaigns" very well!)

In other words, expect a scare campaign from the media which makes our present scare look like kids stuff.

That's why you might need to look at this blog again to remind yourself of the myths and misconceptions.

You might also want to bookmark the National Vaccine Information site. It's your choice, remember and scare tactics are scare tactics. They rarely resemble the truth.

As for me, I took a flu shot when I was pregnant, figuring I didn't want to get the flu then. I still got the flu. I figured the flu shot didn't work and that was my last flu shot and it was a while ago, since the baby I was carrying, our son, is approaching his 40th birthday.

Which brings us to the last question...

8. Why is it that some years I get the flu vaccine and I STILL get the flu?

As I explained before, it takes the pharmaceuticals several months to make a flu vaccine. Here's how they do it. They look at Asia and see what type of flu is going around. Then, out of some 22 flu viruses available, they select 5 or 6 which they think will be THE BIG pandemic or epidemic of the coming flu season and they start making the vaccine for the Fall. That's why there will be several jabs necessary this Fall to protect against the regular AND swine flu. Because they've already picked the 5 or 6 viruses and are producing this Fall's vaccine as we speak and it would be too costly to add the swine flu virus to the vaccine in production.

But of course, as luck will have it, typically the flu which hits the hardest might not be included in the vaccine. It's kind of a game of chance whether it will be included or not. Viruses aren't that predictable unfortunately.

And of course, having the vaccine won't guarantee that another one of the unpicked viruses won't hit. That happened this year - the stomach flu virus which was a really nasty flu hit hard and had not been included in the shot so everyone got that one! (me too!)

As they say, education is our greatest tool in any fight including the fight for good health.

Also, consider a healthy lifestyle - not for weight or size but just for health! I know - that's a strange concept. Bear with me. :) You know, no fast or junk food, no chemicals like aspartame, lots of veggies and EXERCISE.

Some must reading on influenza and scares
Swine Flu update April 29, 2009 - scare tactics and reality

All humanity under threat - not really - Junk Food Science blog

Thursday, March 12, 2009

link between anti depressants and sudden death?

Anti depressants are very common prescribed. In fact, most folks I know are taking one of the SSRI's considered to be among the "safe medications".

That being said, Dr Joseph Glenmullen, MD in his "PROZAC BACKLASH" book stated that there is a possibility that long term use of the SSRI's can cause damage to the brain and even Parkinsonism. He should know - he's a psychiatrist and has done research as well as years of observation.

However, what did come as a bit of a surprise is a new research study which suggested that these anti depressant drugs might be linked to sudden cardiac death. The study was published in the American College of Cardiology Journal (J Am Coll Cardiol, 2009; 53:950-958, doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2008.10.060).

This was an epidemiologal study using the famous "Nurse's study data" (i.e. a "data dredge" study) so I was about to dismiss it except for when I read the last paragraph of the blog which reported the study.

The author reminded that the prescribing information from Eli Lilly for Prozac listed the following side effects:

* Frequent: hemorrhage, hypertension, palpitation
* Infrequent: angina pectoris, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, hypotension, migraine, myocardial infarct, postural hypotension, syncope, tachycardia, vascular headache
* Rare: atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, cerebral embolism, cerebral ischemia, cerebrovascular accident, extrasystoles, heart arrest, heart block, pallor, peripheral vascular disorder, phlebitis, shock, thrombophlebitis, thrombosis, vasospasm, ventricular arrhythmia, ventricular extrasystoles, ventricular fibrillation.

That definitely changed my opinion of the research as just another "data dredge study" to a HMMMM, might be some truth in it.

How many people taking Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft et al, have seen the physician prescribing information.

Kevin Trudeau in his newest book, "More Natural Cures" has a solution which I've seen some folks follow... don't take ANY medications. But truly, there are times when medications can be a lifesaver.

The best approach may be to study things like the prescribing information and to weigh the risks vs the benefits. Since we have only one heart, perhaps the SSRI's should be a last resort rather than so often prescribed (a solution which may not be popular with those who manufacture these medications).