Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And in the FDA corner weighing in at......

Ok, I can't resist; and it's hard to type this blog from my weak collapsed laughing state on the floor -- but I will prevail!

This morning I see that the FDA has issued a warning to General Mills that they are advertising Cheerios as a drug and they have to stop. Now I HAVE noticed how on the Cheerios box they have a claim that it's heart healthy and helps reduce cholesterol -- a claim with which I could agree, though I don't think it's particularly ingenious or exclusive to Cheerios. But, for the FDA to pounce on the company for this just reeks of Big Brother/Pharmaceutical politics. I can just hear Pfizer's CEO in the FDA Director's office saying in a pout: "Those Big G Little O's are causing people to think they don't need Lipitor! You gotta stop them now!"

So on the one hand FDA is in a dither over Big G little O's while the number of poisoned livers from statin drugs go on unabated? This is the twisted world of American health care.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Drug Craziness

How many commercials do you see on TV in an evening for drugs? The ones I absolutely love are the ones that are only a name, and without any clue what it's a drug for, you're supposed to go ask your doctor for it. Worse yet, are the variety of drugs for ED -so he "can always be prepared." What IS IT about putting matching bathtubs on the beach that's supposed to be hot? It's enough to make one sick and need some medicine!

Drug companies weren't allowed to advertise on TV until 1997. According to Michael Murray, drug companies are spending over $10 Billion a year on direct to consumer advertising; spending over $20 Billion a year marketing to practicing physicians ($50,000 per doctor); and it has resulted in an additional 30 million prescriptions being written last year. While over the last 20 years only about 150 lives have been lost to ephedra and other natural health products, in the same time period over 2 million people have died from adverse drug reactions. And yet, most of those drugs are still on the market, while ephedra and most of the natural products have been forced off the store shelves.

Sadly, if one is desperate from the symptoms of a medical problem, the television commercials can be seriously alluring. The ads make a cure or a reduction in symptoms look almost blissful while the ear and mind numb over at the dull droning of the lengthy side effects being rattled off while the formerly sick individuals on the screen are now partying and happy. People with desperate health conditions are usually grasping at straws and it is a simple matter to be lured past the warnings of side effects by the rationale that maybe I won't be one of the statistics that are affected adversely.

The amount of money exchanging hands in the pharmaceutical/medical industry is exhorbitant. As such, it's a mine field for patients. Lobbying interests are protecting the money. The FDA is compromised with biases. Who will protect you and your family from the millions of adverse drug reactions possible? Only one person really! That person is you! You have to take your health into your own hands. You have to do your own research; seek out your own options and not be afraid to raise questions and stand up and say no to the prescriptions being passed out like phony $20 bills at a forger's convention. Fortunately, in this day and time there is the internet and lots of information at your fingertips to help make informed decisions possible. I encourage you to use every means at your disposal. Afterall, your life could depend on it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Being Vegetarian -- Is it Healthy?

Taking up a vegetarian lifestyle has become quite trendy. In addition to just desiring to be in fashion, there can be a lot of reasons for being vegetarian. Some of these other reasons include: spiritual/religious beliefs, environmental concerns, animal-consciousness, desire for attention, and a quest for better health. It is the last reason I'm blogging about here tonight: Is vegetarianism healthy?

To answer this question one needs to know and assess what exactly one means by "being vegetarian." Does it mean just not eating certain kinds of meat? (I've had "fish vegetarians" --"I only eat fish.") Does it mean no meat or animal products of any kind (also called Vegan)? And, just what DOES one eat, if you're "vegetarian?" My daughter could more accurately be called a "fruitarian" since she really doesn't care a lot for vegetables and eats no kind of meat.

A general rule of thumb would be that the more limited one's diet is, the greater the risk of missing out on important nutrients. Hence, the more rigid one's vegetarian diet is, the more vigilant one has to be to get the right nutrients. The largest problem for vegetarians is getting enough protein. Protein comprises the building blocks of life. Muscle cells and immune cells need good amounts of protein. Short changing protein leads to muscle atrophy and poor immune system function. In general, vegetarians need to be very conscious about their protein intake and insure that what they are eating is "nutrient dense." It is probably a good thing to supplement with vitamins and quality protein powders -- my favorite is hemp! With this one large caveat you CAN eat vegetarian and stay healthy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hydroxycut

Late last week the FDA issued a warning that users of Hydroxycut stop using the product. (http://www.hydroxycutinformation.com) The makers of Hydroxycut have voluntarily recalled its products on the reports of one death and twenty-some injuries from primarily liver damage.

I'm not a believer or advocate of the take-a-pill-weight-loss program. The pill to lose weight is about like the Fountain of Youth -- it doesn't exist, and isn't likely to -- ever! What does get me irritated however, is how rapidly the FDA will move against an herbal or natural health product, while they leave pharmaceutical drugs that are causing far more damage, far more deaths, alone for, in some cases, years. It seems to be that the FDA will ignore problems if there are moneyed power lobbies protecting profits. Tryptophan, ephedra, and now Hydroxycut are just three of the recent victims in the natural health industry to be almost instantly removed from the market, practically on the first death. The double standard is unfair. Pharmaceutical drugs should be under the same close scrutiny as the natural health industry!

And for all you Hyrdoxycut users, or pill-fiends for weight loss -- cut your portions, vary your caloric make-up, and consume plenty of fiber and water already.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu

At the present moment, there are only about 300 cases of Swine Flu in the world. So far it does not appear that Swine Flu has any more potency to make people sick than the more "garden variety" types A or B Influenza that the world copes with every year. In fact, given there have been less than two dozen deaths from Swine Flu (compared to 35,000 deaths per year from the other "common" influenzas) it does not appear to be even as dangerous.

So from my perspective, while any kind of Influenza will demand one's attention Swine Flu does not require any more attention than all the other kinds. The upside to the pandemic news is that the common precautionary actions being recommended are good hygiene habits everyone should be observing all the time.

1. Wash hands frequently.
2. Cough into ones forearm or elbow to prevent putting germs onto hands that then transfer to other surfaces.
3. When blowing one's nose throw the tissues away and don't leave them laying around.
4. Limit the intake of sugar to aid immune system responsiveness.
5. Maintain a high level of nutrition through a good diet and supplementation.
6. Get adequate amounts of sleep.
7. Reduce and/or avoid as much stress as one can. Stress will reduce immunity.

The Swine Flu is not something dramatically different. Do all the usual things to keep your health at its peak and even if the worst happens and you get it, you shouldn't be sick very long.