SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

March 31, 2009

“OFF-LABEL” Drug Uses

Should we be taking up a collection for the collective members of the Pharmaceutical Industry?  Surely they must be suffering.  Our banking industry has all but collapsed – only the caped man in Washington is holding the errant threads together and we all pray that either it can be healed or “he” can fix it.  Our backbone industry – the “automobile” group of manufacturers have all but croaked.  This is not only a tragedy for the automobile was dreamed up and born in our country, but we are saddened beyond belief that this is even happening.   We are  nonplussed and paralyzed with indecision over what to do. Yes, these are hard times.   But Big Pharma keeps hammering away with an energy of a frenzied madman.  Drugs of every conceivable use or description blare at us from the TV non-stop.  There are rarely any ad ‘spots’ left over to sell soap or bras or jock itch powder.    Does anyone remember the good old days when it was not permitted to advertise drugs  – that  was the domain belonging to our physicians.  Now they seem over-ridden by the health of an industry rather than their patients.  The pace is not only frantic, it seems insane.   Don’t want to suffer alone here, so I am sharing with you a couple of interesting pieces: 1) article from the Columbus Dispatch 3/30,      and 2) contribution from Dr. Mercola
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Group advises testing teens for depression

Doctor’s-office exams can prompt early treatment

By Lindsey Tanner
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Recently passed federal mental-health equity legislation mandates equal coverage for mental and physical ailments in insurance plans offering both.


CHICAGO — An influential, government-appointed medical panel is urging doctors to routinely screen all U.S. teens for depression — a bold step that acknowledges
that nearly 2 million teens are affected by the condition.     Most are undiagnosed and untreated, said the panel, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which sets guidelines for doctors on a host of health issues.
The task force recommendations appear in April’s issue of the journal Pediatrics. And they go farther than the American Academy of Pediatrics’ own guidance for teen-depression screening.

An estimated 6 percent of U.S. teenagers are clinically depressed. Evidence shows that detailed but simple questionnaires can accurately diagnose depression in primary-care settings such as a pediatrician’s office.
The task force said that when followed by treatment, including psychotherapy, screening can help improve symptoms and help kids cope. Because depression can lead to persistent sad
ness, social isolation, school problems and even suicide, screening to treat it early is crucial, the panel said.
The task force’s new guidance goes beyond the pediatrics academy, which advises pediatricians to ask teen patients questions about depression. Other doctor groups advise screening only high-risk youngsters.
Because depression is so common, “you will miss a lot if you only screen high-risk
groups,” said Dr. Ned Calonge, task force chairman and chief medical officer for Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment.
The group cited two questionnaires that focus on depression tip-offs, such as mood, anxiety, appetite and substance abuse.
Calonge stressed that the panel does not want its advice to lead to drug treatment alone, particularly antide
pressants that have been linked with increased risks for suicidal thoughts. Routine depression testing should only occur if psychotherapy is also readily available, the panel said. Calonge said screening once yearly likely would be enough.  Recently passed federal mental-heaalth equity legislation mandates equal coverage for mental and physical ailments in insurance plans offering both.

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.
..

Inappropriate Drug Prescriptions are wasting millions

and  Raising Health Risks

drugs, prescriptionsDrugs designed for treating the most severe mental illnesses are often prescribed for use in conditions where their benefit has not been established, and often in inappropriate doses, a recent study suggests.

Prescription drugs that might cost as much as $20 to $25 a day are being widely used to treat problems for which they are not FDA-approved. Some of those problems could have been addressed with generic medications costing $1 a day, with better results and less risk of serious side effects.

This is a reflection of the widespread use of medications for “off-label” uses that have not been carefully considered or approved by the FDA, according to the study, some of which are raising medical costs and reducing the effectiveness of health care.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola''s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
Antipsychotic medications are some of the most expensive and side-effect-riddled drugs on the market. And while they’re only approved to treat severe forms of mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, this recent study found that the vast majority of people receiving these powerful drugs did not have either one of those disorders.

In fact, out of the 830 Oregon Medicaid patients given the drugs, most were suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even insomnia. These are all issues that can be handled using safe, non-drug methods, yet these people were instead given expensive and dangerous antipsychotic drugs.

Imagine visiting your doctor because you have anxiety or insomnia, then being prescribed a drug that can cause potentially even worse conditions, such as:

Stroke and heart arrhythmias
• Moderate to severe weight gain
Diabetes
This is exactly what happens far too often with these drugs.

Off-Label Drug Use is Common

Because doctors can legally prescribe any drug to any patient for any condition, drug companies heavily promote “off-label” and frequently inappropriate and non-tested uses of medications to doctors. In this way they can bypass the costly and time-consuming FDA approval process, yet still get their products sold to more and more people.

This happens not only with antipsychotic medications but many other drug classes as well, and to all age groups of patients. One study even found that when a “suitable alternative” did not exist, doctors gave off-label medicine to 90 percent of babies in neonatal intensive care units and 70 percent of children in pediatric intensive care units.

Worse still, children taking these medicines face a higher risk of side effects, with one estimate suggesting they suffer up to three times more side effects as a result.

Children are also often at the receiving end of these dangerous antipsychotic drugs, and they’re not being given to children for life-threatening conditions or to treat acute emergencies … they’re being prescribed for behavioral problems such as attention deficit disorder.

There is also the issue of cost. As the study above pointed out, patients are being given drugs for unapproved uses that cost $25 or more a day, when a similar generic drug that costs just $1 a day could have been prescribed instead.

While in most cases you’re better off skipping the drugs altogether (and instead opting for natural treatment methods, which I’ll get to below), if you DO decide to take a drug, there’s absolutely no point in using an exorbitantly more expensive, more dangerous and unapproved version.

So why does this keep happening?

Most would agree that it appears the drug companies will stop at nothing to sell their products; after all, billions of dollars are at stake. They are out to make a profit so enticing doctors to prescribe their drugs for as many uses as possible, regardless of whether or not they have scientific evidence to back them up, will only allow them to sell more drugs and make more profits.

Unfortunately, their gains are at your expense.

What Can You do Instead of Taking Drugs?

Psychotropic, mind-altering drugs have been a goldmine for drug makers. Through savvy marketing aimed at consumers and physicians, people are now convinced that what previously had been their normal emotions — feelings like sadness, anger, shyness, and stress — now fall outside of normalcy and require the use of some expensive and potentially toxic prescription pharmaceutical.

And most drugs are merely just patchwork, meant to make things “okay” temporarily as your underlying structure continues to degrade, and is subjected to side effects.

What can you do instead? A truly healthy diet and emotional wellness management are what’s needed to build and solidify your health so you can avoid all the cracks (the symptoms) that drugs patch over in the first place.

Along those lines, I’ve developed 10 basic tenets of optimal health; truths that have survived the tests of time and will push your body in the direction of healing, with no drugs needed:

1. Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down)
2. Drink plenty of clean water
3. Manage your stress
4. Exercise
5. Get appropriate sun exposure
6. Limit toxin exposure
7. Consume healthy fat, including animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil
8. Eat plenty of raw food
9. Optimize insulin and leptin levels
10. Get plenty of sleep

March 28, 2009

Sad Quality of Cardiac Care

American Association for Health Freedom

The Vast Majority of Recommendations Given to Heart Patients Are NOT Supported by Good Science!

A new Wall Street Journal article reveals that even though heart disease is among the most studied illnesses in all of medicine, only 11% of more than 2,700 recommendations approved by conventional (non-integrative) cardiologists for treating heart patients are supported by high-quality scientific testing.

About half the medical recommendations for heart patients are based mostly on “expert opinion”—subjective viewpoints where consensus is often lacking, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Even conventional recommendations that are alleged to have firm scientific grounding are not without controversy. People who have previously had a heart attack and take an aspirin daily to help avert a second one can rest assured that the treatment is supported by rigorous scientific studies. But there is valid debate about aspirin side effects, in particular its link to damage of the gastro-intestinal tract and internal bleeding. There are also serious questions about another common recommendation that patients treated with artery-opening stents remain on a potent blood thinner for a year to avoid a rare but potentially life-threatening blood clot. The downside: Patients who stay on blood thinners for an extended time risk potential complications if they need urgent surgery. And the blood thinner damages bones.

Another example: It’s unclear at what point patients who suffer excess bleeding during a heart procedure should get a blood transfusion. And debate rages among cardiologists over two new tools for assessing a patient’s long-term risk of a heart attack. When does a blood test for a marker called C-reactive protein aid in making such a prediction? How about a scan to check for calcium buildup in a patient’s arteries?

Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale University School of Medicine, says doctors should disclose to patients the strength of the evidence behind the care they recommend. “Treatment decisions are often made very dogmatically even when the level of evidence isn’t very strong,” he says.

One reason for the lack of stronger evidence is that the large “megatrials” that have dominated cardiovascular research in the past decade were sponsored by drug and device companies. While those studies provide an important source of information, they are typically designed  to win approval for a treatment or to widen the market for a therapy already on the market, and not to guide treatment decisions, according to the JAMA study.

Pierluigi Tricoci, a cardiologist at Duke University’s Duke Clinical Research Institute and lead author of the study, says he and his colleagues also observed that guideline writers are picked for their expertise in the field—but they are also often those who consult regularly with industry. Such possible conflict of interest raises the potential to introduce bias into the guidelines, undermining their credibility.

The findings from the JAMA study reflect the challenge doctors and patients face in choosing the best course of treatment for a variety of conditions. “In most situations that we encounter when we see patients, it isn’t so clear what is the best thing to do,” Dr. Tricoci says.

Sidney Smith, a medical guidelines expert and cardiologist at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and senior author of the JAMA paper, said, “We need those studies [with high-quality scientific backing] to make the kind of changes in healthcare that are being talked about—being sure we get the best possible care for our patients in the most cost-effective manner.”

This comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s plans for a council on Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER), which would determine which healthcare treatment options are the most effective—and the most cost-effective. As we’ve noted in previous issues of Pulse of Health Freedom, critics of CER within the integrative medicine community fear that it will be a prelude to a completely government controlled medical system which will be dominated and manipulated by the big drug companies with their lobbyists and campaign contributions and their control over the FDA. On the other hand, CER can provide a place for integrative medicine to make it case outside the FDA, to prove its potential for successful treatment and huge cost savings based on the thousands of scientific studies that have been done. It is also an opportunity to educate the general public.

We need to explain that while the government and insurance companies pay $10,000 to amputate a diabetic patient’s foot, they currently won’t pay the small fraction of that amount needed treat with nutraceuticals or to educate a patient about the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle changes that in many cases will prevent or even reverse diabetes.

No matter how uncomfortable we may be at the thought of government controlled medicine, it is a fact that CER has enormous potential to define what medicine is. Integrative medicine needs to speak up now, early in the process, and get a seat at this table. In future issues of this newsletter, we will tell you how you can help.

March 27, 2009

Integrative Medicine (gaining clout)

  • Need a Real Sponsor here

‘Alternative’ Medicine Is Mainstream

The evidence is mounting that diet and lifestyle are the best cures for our worst afflictions.

In mid-February, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the Bravewell Collaborative are convening a “Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public.” This is a watershed in the evolution of integrative medicine, a holistic approach to health care that uses the best of conventional and alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Many of these therapies are now scientifically documented to be not only medically effective but also cost effective.

[Commentary] Martin Kozlowski

President-elect Barack Obama and former Sen. Tom Daschle (the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services) understand that if we want to make affordable health care available to the 45 million Americans who do not have health insurance, then we need to address the fundamental causes of health and illness, and provide incentives for healthy ways of living rather than reimbursing only drugs and surgery.

Heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer and obesity account for 75% of health-care costs, and yet these are largely preventable and even reversible by changing diet and lifestyle. As Mr. Obama states in his health plan, unveiled during his campaign: “This nation is facing a true epidemic of chronic disease. An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely.”

The latest scientific studies show that our bodies have a remarkable capacity to begin healing, and much more quickly than we had once realized, if we address the lifestyle factors that often cause these chronic diseases. These studies show that integrative medicine can make a powerful difference in our health and well-being, how quickly these changes may occur, and how dynamic these mechanisms can be.

Many people tend to think of breakthroughs in medicine as a new drug, laser or high-tech surgical procedure. They often have a hard time believing that the simple choices that we make in our lifestyle — what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke cigarettes, how much exercise we get, and the quality of our relationships and social support — can be as powerful as drugs and surgery. But they often are. And in many instances, they’re even more powerful.

These studies often used high-tech, state-of-the-art measures to prove the power of simple, low-tech, and low-cost interventions. Integrative medicine approaches such as plant-based diets, yoga, meditation and psychosocial support may stop or even reverse the progression of coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, prostate cancer, obesity, hypercholesterolemia and other chronic conditions.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that these approaches may even change gene expression in hundreds of genes in only a few months. Genes associated with cancer, heart disease and inflammation were downregulated or “turned off” whereas protective genes were upregulated or “turned on.” A study published in The Lancet Oncology reported that these changes increase telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes that control how long we live. Even drugs have not been shown to do this.

Our “health-care system” is primarily a disease-care system. Last year, $2.1 trillion was spent in the U.S. on medical care, or 16.5% of the gross national product. Of these trillions, 95 cents of every dollar was spent to treat disease after it had already occurred. At least 75% of these costs were spent on treating chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, that are preventable or even reversible.

The choices are especially clear in cardiology. In 2006, for example, according to data provided by the American Heart Association, 1.3 million coronary angioplasty procedures were performed at an average cost of $48,399 each, or more than $60 billion; and 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each, or more than $44 billion. In other words, Americans spent more than $100 billion in 2006 for these two procedures alone.

Despite these costs, a randomized controlled trial published in April 2007 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that angioplasties and stents do not prolong life or even prevent heart attacks in stable patients (i.e., 95% of those who receive them). Coronary bypass surgery prolongs life in less than 3% of patients who receive it. So, Medicare and other insurers and individuals pay billions for surgical procedures like angioplasty and bypass surgery that are usually dangerous, invasive, expensive and largely ineffective. Yet they pay very little — if any money at all — for integrative medicine approaches that have been proven to reverse and prevent most chronic diseases that account for at least 75% of health-care costs. The INTERHEART study, published in September 2004 in The Lancet, followed 30,000 men and women on six continents and found that changing lifestyle could prevent at least 90% of all heart disease.

That bears repeating: The disease that accounts for more premature deaths and costs Americans more than any other illness is almost completely preventable simply by changing diet and lifestyle. And the same lifestyle changes that can prevent or even reverse heart disease also help prevent or reverse many other chronic diseases as well. Chronic pain is one of the major sources of worker’s compensation claims costs, yet studies show that it is often susceptible to acupuncture and Qi Gong. Herbs usually have far fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals.

Joy, pleasure and freedom are sustainable, deprivation and austerity are not. When you eat a healthier diet, quit smoking, exercise, meditate and have more love in your life, then your brain receives more blood and oxygen, so you think more clearly, have more energy, need less sleep. Your brain may grow so many new neurons that it could get measurably bigger in only a few months. Your face gets more blood flow, so your skin glows more and wrinkles less. Your heart gets more blood flow, so you have more stamina and can even begin to reverse heart disease. Your sexual organs receive more blood flow, so you may become more potent — similar to the way that circulation-increasing drugs like Viagra work. For many people, these are choices worth making — not just to live longer, but also to live better.

It’s time to move past the debate of alternative medicine versus traditional medicine, and to focus on what works, what doesn’t, for whom, and under which circumstances. It will take serious government funding to find out, but these findings may help reduce costs and increase health.

Integrative medicine approaches bring together those in red states and blue states, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, because these are human issues. They are both medically effective and, important in our current economic climate, cost effective. These approaches emphasize both personal responsibility and the opportunity to make affordable, quality health care available to those who most need it. Mr. Obama should make them an integral part of his health plan as soon as possible.

Dr. Chopra, the author of more than 50 books on the mind, body and spirit, is guest faculty at Beth Israel Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ornish is clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Mr. Roy is professor emeritus of materials science at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Weil is director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

Cherry-picking Drug Study results

Warning! Drug Company Buries Unfavorable Antidepressant Drug Studies

cherry-picked data, buried studiesDrugmaker AstraZeneca “buried” unfavorable studies on its antipsychotic drug Seroquel, according to an internal e-mail. The e-mail was made public due to litigation over the medicine.

The drugmaker did not publicize results of at least three clinical trials of Seroquel and engaged in “cherry picking” of data from one of those studies for use in a presentation, an AstraZeneca official said in the December 1999 e-mail. The company faces about 9,000 lawsuits claiming it failed to properly warn users that Seroquel can cause diabetes and other health problems.

Seroquel, which generated sales of $4.45 billion in 2008, is the company’s second-biggest seller after the ulcer treatment Nexium. AstraZeneca has denied wrongdoing, and is vowing to fight the lawsuits in court.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola''s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
The link between Seroquel and diabetes has been on the FDA’s radar for nearly a decade. It was the year 2000 when they first asked AstraZeneca to share data on new-onset diabetes and related illnesses in people taking the drug.

At that time, AstraZeneca reported 12 new cases of diabetes and 5 cases of related illnesses, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, but internal company documents revealed there were actually 27 cases of diabetes and 2 of hyperglycemia.

Now more than 15,000 people have sued AstraZeneca on the count they withheld information on the connection between Seroquel and diabetes, along with also promoting the drug, which is approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, for unapproved uses.

Only as a result of these lawsuits was a 1999 internal e-mail unsealed, in which an AstraZeneca official said the company failed to publicize results of at least three clinical trials of Seroquel and also engaged in “cherry picking” of data from one of those studies for use in a presentation.

This is all part of an ongoing battle. Back in 2006 similar lawsuits were already underway against AstraZeneca, again claiming they downplayed the diabetes risks and hid important safety information from the FDA.

While untold numbers of patients may have suffered serious side effects from taking Seroquel, the drug remained AstraZeneca’s second-biggest seller in 2008 (after Nexium), and they enjoyed sales of $4.45 billion last year as a result.

“Cherry Picking” is Common in Drug Company Data

Make no mistake about it; AstraZeneca is far from the only drug company that has downplayed the risks of its prized products. The practice is also very common among many other drug categories, including antidepressants.

If there’s one thing drugmakers excel at, it’s doing an excellent job of publicizing the things they want you to know, while keeping very quiet about the rest. Dr. James Gordon, a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety and psychological trauma, expands in reference to antidepressants:

“The problem is that the drug companies did not publish the unfavorable studies about antidepressants, especially the newest class, the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) like Prozac or Paxil.

And so what you have is drug companies only publishing positive studies, doctors only reading about positive studies, patients believing the drug companies and, of course, their doctors — and it’s kind of like the Emperor’s New Clothes. Everybody’s been kind of wrapped up in an illusion when in fact over the last couple of years people have been taking a new look at all the unpublished studies.”

More Psychiatric Drug Risks You Might Not Have Heard Of

An increased risk of diabetes is far from the only side effect of taking these mind-altering drugs.

People taking antipsychotic drugs are nearly twice as likely to have a stroke as those not on the treatment. The risk is even higher — about 3.5 times — for men and women with dementia. The drugs also increase your risk of potentially fatal blood clots.

Sadly, children are among the most innocent victims in all of this, as they’re being prescribed these dangerous and sometimes deadly antipsychotic drugs at alarming rates.

So please think long and hard before opting to take any prescription drug, even if the drug maker claims it’s safe. As appears to be the case with Seroquel, often the real dangers have been quietly swept under the carpet leaving those who took the drug to fend for themselves.

And the fact of the matter is, nearly everything that drugs are supposed to do can be achieved using safe, natural means, such as eating healthy and addressing your emotional traumas, with no side effects other than good health in return.

Practical Options to Dangerous Drugs

Instead of subjecting yourself to the serious side effects of mind-altering drugs, you can try the following natural treatments. These options are safe, inexpensive and best of all remarkably effective.

1. Optimize your diet, including taking an animal-based source of omega-3 fat, such as krill oil, daily. I have seen large numbers of patients spontaneously take themselves off antidepressants once they optimized their diet and omega-3 levels.

2. Address the underlying emotional challenges. To do this, I suggest using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). For serious problems such as depression, it would be prudent to contact a health care professional who is trained in the technique. You can use Gary Craig’s list of EFT Practitioner Referrals to do this.

3. Get plenty of sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is very common and has been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders.

4. Exercise. It is one of the best remedies for depression, and studies have found it can cut your depressive symptoms nearly in half.

March 25, 2009

Integrative Medicine gets Win

American Association for Health Freedom

March 24, 2009

After a Two Year Battle, Holistic Psychiatrist’s Stunning Win

Over Local Board of Physicians

Setting a new precedent—the first decision of its kind in the state’s history—the Maryland Board of Physicians has completely dismissed the case against Alice W. Lee-Bloem, MD, a holistic psychiatrist. Dr. Lee-Bloem practices orthomolecular psychiatry and energy medicine.The Maryland Board began peer review proceedings against Dr. Lee-Bloem after receiving a letter of complaint from a patient’s ex-partner, who had never been involved in the patient’s treatment. The ex-partner had a hostile relationship with the patient and objected to the patient’s preference for integrative medicine. The patient immediately wrote a letter to the Board to ask them to drop all proceedings against Dr. Lee-Bloem, clarifying all misrepresentations in the ex-partner’s letter of complaint. But the Maryland Board chose to ignore the patient’s request and moved forward with the peer review proceedings in August, 2006.

The Board’s actions were suspect at best:

• First, in an apparent attempt to block access to important information from the patient and to minimize the importance of the patient’s satisfaction with Dr. Lee-Bloem’s medical care, the Board prohibited the state peer reviewers from interviewing the patient—a position that the lead peer reviewer in the case openly derided.

• Second, because the first two peer reviewers differed in their opinions about the case, a third peer reviewer was called in to break the tie. He turned out to be the last treating physician before Dr. Lee-Bloem took over—the very doctor whose treatment the patient rejected in favor of orthomolecular psychiatry. He expressed in court that he personally felt that he did not have a conflict of interest in this case and thus he did not feel compelled to disclose this information to the Board.

• Third, none of the peer reviewers had any training or clinical experience in orthomolecular psychiatry or energy medicine. This, however, did not prevent two of them from believing that they could judge a holistic psychiatrist’s treatment decisions, and they proceeded to do so without any consideration for or understanding of the role of nutrition in mental health.

• And fourth, the Board deliberately and repeatedly misrepresented the patient’s psychiatric condition in its own papers and in the documents given to the peer reviewers.

Despite these various manipulations, the Board failed in its attempt to support any of its charges, and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who heard the case, Geraldine A. Klauber of the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, dismissed all charges on September 11, 2008. She stated that as a matter of law, the Board of Physicians could not prosecute the practice of alternative medicine and energy medicine through the peer review process.

Grasping at straws to keep the prosecution alive, the Board then charged Dr. Lee-Bloem with violating the “standard of care” of that one patient. But after a three-day trial, the ALJ wrote a 50-page decision stating that the Board had no legal grounds to prosecute Dr. Lee-Bloem in the first place, having failed to define what the “standard of care” was, let alone convince her of any violations of it.

The Maryland Board, however, has had a history of ignoring the ALJ’s decisions regarding alternative medicine practices if they conflicted with the Board’s agenda. In addition, over the years, the Maryland Board has developed a reputation for being hostile towards holistic medicine, and has been notorious for removing licenses from clinicians practicing integrative medicine in Maryland even when the ALJ has dismissed the charges!

In this case, however, Dr. Lee-Bloem also sued the Board for violation of her due process rights. With the involvement of the civil courts, the Maryland Board, for the first time, had to answer to judges and laws outside of the administrative setting. Without any evidence to support their charges before the civil courts, and lacking any legal grounds for charges according to the ALJ, the Maryland Board had little choice but to finally, and begrudgingly, dismiss all charges on February 5, 2009, without any conditions or probation.

AAHF applauds Dr. Lee-Bloem’s victory. She defended integrative medicine against a state organization that had every advantage, yet won—hands down. We wish that this were an isolated story, but unfortunately it is not. Integrative physicians are being harassed and threatened with loss of license all across the US. Often integrative doctors do not realize how vital it is to seek competent counsel immediately, before speaking to hostile boards or examiners and especially before signing agreements. Even when integrative physicians are well prepared for the unfair attacks, often the legal costs represent an insuperable obstacle to winning and a lifetime’s education and work may be lost in the process. Please make a gift to AAHF’s  integrative physician legal defense fund. Your help can make the difference.

March 24, 2009

Whole lot of Fixin’ needed

Filed under: health,Health care — Jan Turner @ 5:46 pm

I believe it when President Obama says he can trim the waste and save a bundle; change the way things are done in Washington and in so doing,  make health care available to all.  That is not too much to expect.  Our country ranks pretty far down on the charts for optimal health care.  And yet we pay more for health care in this country than any other place in the world.   It is frankly, a disgrace.   Pharmaceutical companies have far too much power;  they endow medical schools and thereby call the shots in how things are done;   how and what our medical students learn, and if that was not enough, they gained the freedom to advertise on all media 24/7 filling the heads of the vulnerable with ideas they would be better off with out.  The ‘untrained’ rush to their physicians demanding the medicine they just learned about.  And so it goes.  Where are the voices to teach ordinary folks without the specialized knowledge of how to keep healthy and give our bodies what they need to be healthy.   There are countless thousands of people vitally interested in such things – but how to reach people and get them to listen, pay attention, take appropriate action, change their lives and live vital, healthy and able to do anything they want or are big enough to do.

Its true, there are many voices out there doing a great job to illuminate and help others.  So many of them seem to have a product to “sell” and that kind of turns many of us off.   But  hey,  its a real world and people have to make a living for sure. Not a thing wrong with that.  It is after all up to us to hone our talent for sniffing out the real essence of stuff and let our own experience teach us.  Then we get it.

Essentially, we are generally given perfect bodies at birth – miracles, really.  By the time we raise our kids in front of TV’s and abdicate our authority to do whats right in nutrition, habits, priorities and so on,   they can grow up fat, deprived and lazy. Parenting is no snap, it is a huge responsibility.  It can be part of our greatest joy and worth any effort.   If we could learn to eat wholesome, unprocessed foods, drink pure, uncontaminated water without fluorine, chlorine and hundreds of other contaminants and move our bodies – a lot, we wouldn’t have all these problems.  We could do almost everything without pills  potions and prescriptions.  In a perfect world we could trust our doctors to take care of us, but this is not a perfect world – we must take that responsibility for ourselves.  It is after all, our body, we live in it and it matters more to us than it ever will to anyone else.   We must learn what works and what doesn’t.  Truth and reality is all around us, we just have to open our eyes and look at it and make good choices.  When we stumble and we will,  we get up, dust ourselves off and start again.  There is no end to any of this stuff.  We’ll never get it all done – that’s okay. We are supposed to enjoy this trip, so lets have a little fun and give it a real go.

And while we are talking important stuff here, why not give our president a real chance to try to change all this crap – let us do anything we can to make sure his new budget is passed in which he is trying to take on the whole thing and do what he can to fix as much as he can (like medical reform).  Maybe a phone call or two to your representative and senators, it couldn’t hurt.  Thanx for listening.. . . . . .    .      . (you know how wound up I can get)  Below is something which sure could use some fixin. . . . .    .    .

. . . ####

Public release date: 4-Mar-2009

Print Article | E-mail Article
Contact: Daniel Hartung
hartungd@ohsu.edu
503-494-4720
Oregon State University

Inappropriate drug prescriptions wasting millions, raising health risks

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A recent study in Oregon suggests that drugs designed for treating the most severe mental illnesses are often prescribed at inappropriately low doses and at considerable expense, for use in conditions where their benefit has not been established.

In this case, prescription drugs that might cost as much as $20 to $25 a day were being widely used to treat problems for which they were not FDA-approved. Some of those problems could have been addressed with generic medications costing $1 a day, with better results and less risk of serious side effects.

This is a reflection of widespread use of medications for “off-label” uses that have not been carefully considered or approved by the Food and Drug Administration, researchers said, some of which are unnecessarily raising medical costs and reducing the effectiveness of health care.

The research was done by scientists in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, and Oregon Health and Science University. It was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“It’s legal for a physician to prescribe a medication for something other than its FDA-approved uses, and based on good studies or clinical judgment it may be justified,” said Daniel Hartung, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at OSU. “However, the approved uses are usually a pretty good proxy for real, proven effectiveness. And if in fact drugs are being used inappropriately, it not only can be very expensive but also pose an unnecessary health risk.”

Both of those problems were found in this study.

In this case, the health conditions of 830 Oregon Medicaid patients were examined – all of whom had been given one of the newer antipsychotic medications approved only for some of the most severe forms of mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, the researchers found that the vast majority of the people receiving one of these drugs did not have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the underlying mental health conditions for which the drugs had been approved.

Most people who received these “atypical antipsychotic” drugs, which are very powerful and have potentially severe side effects, had less serious mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder – or no psychiatric disorder other than insomnia.

The newer antipsychotic drugs can cause side effects such as neuromuscular rigidity, increased risk of stroke, heart arrhythmias, moderate-to-severe weight gain, and worsening glucose control that leads to increased risk of diabetes. The drugs may be necessary for patients with major mental health problems such as schizophrenia, Hartung said, but have not been demonstrated to be effective for most of their off-label uses, such as depression or agitation in persons suffering from dementia.

The prescriptions, he said, were also often given at lower doses and for shorter time periods than anything that has been shown to be therapeutic.

And the concerns involve many types of practitioners, the study found – the medications were prescribed by primary care physicians and nurse practitioners and, to a lesser extent, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners.

“Some drug companies have been accused of encouraging and expanding the off-label use of drugs, and that may be where part of this misinformation is coming from,” Hartung said. “That is an illegal practice, and some companies have been successfully sued on that basis. Regardless of what’s causing this, it’s a serious concern, both for ensuring resources are used judiciously and protecting health care quality.”

These issues should be more carefully explored, the researchers said in their study. They are particularly relevant to Medicaid programs, in which use of antipsychotic medications is surging. In 2002 these drugs constituted more than 7 percent of the expenditures for all Medicaid programs nationally. In Oregon, the medications represented nearly 30 percent of all outpatient fee-for-service drug expenditures in 2006.

During 2006, the study found, the Oregon Medicaid program spent about $2.5 million for chronic, subtherapeutic use of a single antipsychotic drug in adult patients.

Based on this, the researchers concluded that “a statewide initiative to provide guidance regarding the administration of antipsychotic medication could be beneficial.”

The study was done in Oregon, Hartung said, but is probably a reflection of trends across the nation.

The researchers wrote in their report that “states wishing to reduce costs and improve the quality of use for atypical antipsychotic medications should examine prescribing patterns to ensure that these drugs are prescribed within acceptable practice limits, and are not used for off-label uses when other approaches may be more appropriate and less expensive.”

HFCS and Insulin Resistance

Dr Mercola is relentless on this subject, but then, so am I.  The sooner we get the word out, the sooner I
might lower the alarm.  Read on.

.

Why High-Fructose Corn Syrup Causes Insulin Resistance

high fructose corn syrup, corn, corn syrup, fructose, diabetes, heart disease, HFCS, insulin, leptin, insulin resistanceA new study in mice sheds light on at least part of the reason for the insulin resistance that can come from diets high in high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener found in most sodas and many other processed foods.

Fructose is much more readily metabolized to fat in the liver than glucose, and in the process can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD in turn leads to hepatic insulin resistance and type II diabetes.

Researchers showed that mice fed a high-fructose diet could be protected from insulin resistance if a gene known as transcriptional coactivator PPARg coactivator-1b (PGC-1b) was “knocked down” in the animals’ liver and fat tissue. PGC-1b controls the activity of several other genes, including one responsible for building fat in the liver. This suggests an important role for PGC-1b in the pathogenesis of fructose-induced insulin resistance.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola''s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

According to the latest statistics, new cases of diabetes have increased by 90 percent in the last 10 years, and diabetes or pre-diabetes now strikes one in four Americans. Those are absolutely astounding statistics to say the least.

There’s no doubt in my mind that one of the primary fuels for this epidemic is the excess consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Several studies over the past few years have also come to this conclusion, including this latest study in Cell Metabolism, in which the researchers note:

Insulin resistance is a common feature of the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Both have reached epidemic proportions worldwide with the global adoption of the westernized diet along with increased consumption of fructose, stemming from the wide and increasing use of high-fructose corn syrup sweeteners.

It is well established that fructose is more lipogenic than glucose, and high-fructose diets have been linked to hypertriglyceridemia, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and insulin resistance.

Unfortunately, this study does nothing to further the return to a more sane approach to health, but will likely just create even more problems as they propose their findings could lead to yet another drug treatment to hamper the harmful effects of HFCS consumption.

Absolutely in line with the drug model, and one has to seriously wonder if they weren’t behind this study.

The answer is clearly not to create more drugs to combat the problem of diabetes, but rather to educate the public about healthier eating habits – which includes AVOIDING high fructose corn syrup as much as possible.

Scientists have clearly linked the rising HFCS consumption to the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in the U.S., and medical researchers have pinpointed various health dangers associated with the consumption of HFCS compared to regular sugar.

Despite all the evidence, the industry persists in claiming these findings are untrue, arguing that HFCS is the same as sugar. Their campaign also relies on nutritional research, but it should be noted that the funding for many of the major studies in question came from companies with a financial stake in the outcome.

Reminds me quite a bit of the tobacco lobby’s consistent denial that smoking causes lung cancer until they had no choice but to admit it.

How Much High Fructose Corn Syrup is in Your Diet?

The obesity and diabetes epidemics are no surprise when you consider the fact that the number one source of calories in America is high fructose corn syrup in soda.

There are about 40 grams of HFCS per can – more than the American Medical Association’s recommended daily maximum for ALL caloric sweeteners. And that’s without adding in all the corn syrup now found in every type of processed, pre-packaged food you can think of.

In fact, the use of high fructose corn syrup in the U.S. diet increased a staggering 10,673 percent between 1970 and 2005, according to the latest USDA Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption report. That too is no major surprise considering that processed foods account for more than 90 percent of the money Americans spend on their meals.

All in all, according to the USDA’s report, about one-quarter of the calories consumed by the average American is in the form of added sugars – the majority of which comes from high fructose corn syrup.

Folks, this is an absolute prescription for disaster. Is it any wonder that we are suffering epidemics of chronic diseases that are contributing to the economic collapse, as they require expensive drug and surgical solutions that only treat the symptoms, but do nothing to address the cause of the disease?

Why High Fructose Corn Syrup IS Worse For You than Sugar

If you need to lose weight, or if you want to avoid diabetes and heart disease, fructose is one type of sugar you’ll want to avoid, particularly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

Part of what makes HFCS such a dangerous sweetener is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center and lead author of a study on fructose, published in the Journal of Nutrition just last year:

“Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose. Once you start the process of fat synthesis from fructose, it’s hard to slow it down. The bottom line of this study is that fructose very quickly gets made into fat in your body.”

This occurs because most fats are formed in your liver, and when sugar enters your liver, it decides whether to store it, burn it or turn it into fat. Fructose, however, bypasses this process and simply turns into fat.

Additionally, there’s hard empirical evidence showing that refined man-made fructose like HFCS metabolizes to triglycerides and adipose tissue, not blood glucose. And one of the most thorough scientific analyses published to date on this topic found that fructose consumption leads to decreased signaling to your central nervous system from the hormones leptin and insulin.

Because insulin and leptin act as key signals in regulating how much food you eat, as well as your body weight, this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased food intake and weight gain.

Decreased insulin and leptin signaling is also a main cause of diabetes and a host of other obesity-related conditions.

How HFCS Contributes to Diabetes

In addition to everything already mentioned — including these latest findings that HFCS consumption can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, followed by hepatic insulin resistance and then type 2 diabetes — research reported at the 2007 national meeting of the American Chemical Society, found evidence that soft drinks sweetened with HFCS may contribute to the development of diabetes because it contains high levels of reactive compounds that trigger cell and tissue damage that cause diabetes.

Chemical tests among 11 different carbonated soft drinks containing HFCS were found to have ‘astonishingly high’ levels of reactive carbonyls. Reactive carbonyls are undesirable and highly-reactive compounds associated with “unbound” fructose and glucose molecules, and are believed to cause tissue damage.

By contrast, reactive carbonyls are not present in table sugar because its fructose and glucose components are “bound” and chemically stable.

Reactive carbonyls are elevated in the blood of individuals with diabetes and are linked to the health complications of diabetes. It is estimated that a single can of soda contains about five times the concentration of reactive carbonyls than the concentration found in the blood of an adult person with diabetes.

How HFCS Contributes to Heart Disease

HFCS is also known to significantly raise your triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol). Triglycerides, the chemical form of fat found in foods and in your body, are not something you want in excess amounts.

Intense research over the past 40 years has confirmed that elevated blood levels of triglycerides, known as hypertriglyceridemia, puts you at an increased risk of heart disease.

Additional Health Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, fructose also does not contain any enzymes, vitamins or minerals so it takes these micronutrients from your body while it assimilates itself for use.

Unbound fructose, found in large quantities in HFCS, can interfere with your heart’s use of minerals such as magnesium, copper and chromium.

Please note that this does not mean you should avoid whole fruit, however, as it contains natural fructose together with the enzymes, vitamins and minerals needed for your body to assimilate the fructose. Eating small amounts of whole fruit also does not provide a tremendous amount of fructose, and is not likely to be a problem for most people unless diabetes or obesity is an issue.

And lastly, adding insult to injury, HFCS is almost always made from genetically modified corn, which is fraught with its own well documented side effects and health concerns.

GMO corn will radically increase your risk of developing corn allergies. The problem with corn allergies are that once you have a corn allergy from GMO corn you will have an allergy to even healthy organic corn products.

How You Can Drastically Improve Your Overall Health

If you want to drastically improve your health, the answer is quite simple. To lose weight and reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease, STOP drinking soda and processed fruit juices. Switch to pure water as your beverage of choice and you will be well on your way to better health.

To preserve your health you also need to focus your diet on whole foods based on your personal biochemistry, and, if you do purchase packaged foods, become an avid label reader and avoid foods that contain corn syrup as a main ingredient.



March 14, 2009

Vaccine Injustice

(From Dr. Mercola)

Vaccine Makers Profit from

Government-Granted Immunity

Sources:

vaccine, vaccinationIn a building kitty-corner from the White House across Pennsylvania Avenue is a special “vaccines court” which hears cases brought by parents who claim their children have been harmed by routine vaccinations.

The court buffers makers of childhood-disease vaccines from much of the litigation risk that other drugmakers must face. It is an important reason why the vaccine business has been transformed from a low-profit venture in the 1970’s to one of the pharmaceutical industry’s most attractive product lines today.

The court operates because of a legal shield known as the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which was put into place in 1986 to encourage the development of vaccines. A spate of lawsuits against vaccine makers in the 1970’s and 1980’s had caused dozens of companies to get out of the business. Now, vaccines are big business. They will generate $21.5 billion in annual sales for their makers by 2012.

Critics of the program say a recent vaccine court ruling that routine childhood immunizations aren’t linked to autism underscored the limited recourse families have in claiming injury from vaccines. Many plaintiffs’ lawyers would prefer to take their lawsuits directly to civil court.

*                    *                   *                    *

Dr. Mercola''s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
Prior to October 1, 1988, if you or your child were injured by a vaccine you were allowed to file a lawsuit against a vaccine manufacturer to receive compensation for harm arising from the vaccine. Since that legislation passed anyone who is now injured  and wishes to receive compensation is required to apply through The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), the so-called “vaccine court,” prior to pursuing a lawsuit.

This program has boosted vaccine sales growth immensely — by 2015 it’s estimated that vaccinations will morph into a $21.5-billion industry — largely because they have ZERO liability for the products they produce.

If a child becomes seriously injured or even dies after receiving a vaccine, the vaccine makers are completely shielded — and IF they are ever awarded compensation through NVICP, it is the taxpayers who pay, not the vaccine makers.

Who is the Vaccine Court Really Looking Out For?

NVICP was “established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines.”

But when you read between the lines, you discover what this really means is that a program has been put into place to protect vaccine manufacturers (i.e. “ensure an adequate supply of vaccines”) and NOT to look out for those injured by vaccines.

According to Barbara Loe Fisher, one of the top vaccine experts in the world, who along with other vaccine-choice advocates is calling on Congress to revamp, and possibly even repeal, this fatally flawed program:

“During its two-decade history, two out of three individuals applying for federal vaccine injury compensation have been turned away empty-handed even though to date $1.8 billion has been awarded to more than 2,200 plaintiffs out of some 12,000 who have applied.”

Meanwhile, close to 5,000 vaccine-injury claims are sitting in limbo because they involve children who suffered brain and immune system dysfunction after vaccination and have been diagnosed with regressive autism.

Well, this is not a “compensable event” according to NVICP, so the children may be out of luck … despite the fact that a study by Harvard professor Michael Ganz found the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism is more than $3 million.

And there are other problems as well.

Safety Provisions are Not Being Enforced

The Act signed into law in 1986, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, contains strong safety provisions, including:

• First-time mandates for doctors to record and report serious health problems, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths after vaccination
• Mandates that doctors give parents written benefit and risk information before a child is vaccinated

Yet few of the safety provisions are being enforced. As Fisher said:

“There has been a betrayal of the promise that was made to parents about how the compensation program would be implemented.”

Case in point, claims heard by NVICP are supposed to be handled “quickly, easily and with certainty and generosity,” according to a House report accompanying the 1986 legislation, but many claims have taken years — more than 10 years – to be settled. Fisher continues:

“Obtaining compensation has become a highly adversarial, time-consuming, traumatic and expensive process for families of vaccine-injured children, and far too many vaccine victims have been denied compensation.
Meanwhile, vaccine makers and doctors have enjoyed liability protection and dozens of doses of nine new vaccines have been added to the childhood vaccine schedule.”

If a family is finally able to receive compensation through the program, what can they expect? According to the program’s guidelines:

• The system will offer to pay up to $250,000 for a vaccine-associated death.

• The system will offer to pay for all past and future unreimbursed medical expenses, custodial and nursing home care; up to $250,000 pain and suffering; and loss of earned income.

This is clearly inadequate compensation and clearly far too late.

Further, the system is funded by a surcharge on each dose of vaccine sold. The doctors pay the tax initially when they purchase the vaccines, but this is passed right down to the parents of the child. So not only are the vaccine manufacturers shielded from potential lawsuits, they are not even responsible for paying one cent of the claims filed against them — the consumers of their products are

Even the lawyers who fight against the families who have filed claims with the system are full-time government attorneys, employed solely for the purpose of battling to defend the vaccine manufacturers. The vaccine makers don’t even have to pay their own legal defense fees!

Such a sweet deal. Try to find any other business that is insulated from the perverted U.S. legal system and you will likely come up with a blank.

Do You Want to Help Support Vaccine Safety Reform?

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which was co-founded by Barbara Loe Fisher, is the American vaccine safety watchdog. They are currently being flooded with vaccine reaction reports and parents reporting that their vaccine exemptions are being pulled or becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

I highly recommend you consider supporting the NVIC in their efforts to raise awareness about these vital issues and implement vaccine safety reform.

As I’ve stated before, I’m not anti-vaccine, but rather pro-vaccine safety and choice.

I question vaccines’ compulsory nature along with the very limited recourse parents have if their child is injured. You may also not be aware that if your child is vaccinated according to the CDC’s recommended schedule, by the time your child starts kindergarten he or she will have received 48 doses of 14 vaccines. Of these, 36 doses will be given during the first 18 months of life.

Well, public health officials have NEVER proven that it is indeed safe to inject this number and volume of vaccines into infants. And I believe parents have the right to know such information before making a decision on whether or not to vaccinate.

Related Links:

A Vaccine Form You Can Give to Your Pediatrician

March 10, 2009

The Corn Shame

Conservative George Will does not waste time getting to a point or prettying things up and I was frankly surprised to find him in discussion on this important subject.  (One I have covered and will no doubt, continue to do).  George’s fine intellect and analysis is most generally seen on the Sunday morning political  talk shows.  So it is with pleasure I welcome him to our little corner of the world where we try to help ourselves with ever-increasing awareness of the things which affect our lives so deeply by contributing to our health or states of disease.

Corn-based food system is making U.S. unhealthy

George F. Will writes for the Washington Post Writers Group.

photo

 


Tom Vilsack, Iowa’s former governor, calls his “the most important department in government,” noting that the Agriculture Department serves education through school-nutrition programs and serves diplomacy by trying
to wean Afghanistan from a poppy-based (meaning heroin-based) economy. But Vilsack’s department matters most because of the health costs of the American diet. If Michael Pollan is right, the problem is rooted in politics and, in a sense, Iowa.
Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, says that after World War II the government had a huge surplus of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient of explosives — and fertilizer. Furthermore, pesticides could be made from ingredients of poison gases. Since 1945, the food supply has increased faster than America’s population — faster even than Americans can increase their feasting.


Agricultural commodity prices generally fall. But when a rare surge in food prices gave the Nixon administration a political scare, government policy, expressed in commodity subsidies, has been, Pollan writes, to sell “large quantities of calories as cheaply as possible,” especially calories coming from corn.


“All flesh is grass” says Scripture. Much of the too-ample flesh of Americans (three of five are overweight; one in five is obese) comes from corn, which is a grass. A quarter of the 45,000 items in the average supermarket contain processed corn. Fossil fuels are involved in the planting, fertilizing, harvesting, transporting and processing of the corn. America’s food industry uses about as much petroleum as America’s automobiles do.


During World War II, when meat, dairy products and sugar were scarce, heart disease plummeted. It rebounded when rationing ended. “When you adjust for age,” Pollan writes, “rates of chronic diseases like cancer and Type 2 diabetes are considerably higher today than they were in 1900.” Type 2 diabetes — a strange epidemic: one without a virus, bacteria or other microbe — was called adult-onset diabetes until children began getting it. Now it is a $100 billion-a-year consequence of, among other things, obesity related to a corn-based diet, which is partly because steaks and chops have pushed plants off the plate.


Four of the top 10 causes of American deaths — coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer — have, Pollan says, “well-established links” to diet, particularly through “the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat.” What he calls America’s “national eating disorder” is not just the fact that Americans reportedly eat one in five meals in cars (gasoline stations make more from food and cigarettes than from gasoline) and that one in three children eats fast food every day. He also means the industrialization of agriculture, wherein we developed a food chain that derives too much of its calories — energy — not from the sun through photosynthesis but from fossil fuels.


In 1900, Vilsack says, Iowa’s population was larger than California’s and Florida’s combined. But it is the only state whose population did not double in the 20th century. Yet Iowa’s fewer farmers, planting (as government has exhorted) “fence-row to fence-row” and deploying an arsenal of chemical fertilizers, can tickle five tons of corn from an acre.


Corn, which covers 125,000 square miles of America — about the size of New Mexico — fattens 100 million beef cattle, and at least that many bipeds. Much of the river of cheap corn becomes an ocean of high-fructose corn syrup, which by 1984 was sweetening Coke and Pepsi. Disposing of the corn also requires passing it through animals’ stomachs. Corn, together with pharmaceuticals and other chemicals — a Pollan axiom: “You are what what you eat eats, too” — has made it profitable to fatten cattle on feedlots rather than grass, cutting by up to 75 percent the time from birth to slaughter. Eating corn nourished by petroleum-based fertilizers, a beef cow consumes almost a barrel of oil in its lifetime.


Vilsack’s department is entwined with the food industry that produces a food supply unhealthily simplified by the dominance of a few staples such as corn. This diet, Pollan says, has made many Americans both overfed and undernourished.
Hippocrates enjoined doctors, “Do no harm.” He also said something germane to a nation that is harming itself with its knives and forks: “Let food be thy medicine.” That should be carved in stone over the entrance to Vilsack’s very important department.

March 8, 2009

Monsanto’s “Seed Threat”

New from Dr. Mercola. . . .

Monsanto’s Many Attempts to Destroy All Seeds but Their Own

seeds, seedlingSome say that if farmers don’t want problems from Monsanto, they simply shouldn’t buy Monsanto’s GMO seeds. But it isn’t quite that simple. Monsanto contaminates the fields, trespasses onto the land taking samples, and then sues, saying they own the crop.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is taking many other steps to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of normal seeds:

1.  They’ve bought up the seed companies across the Midwest.

2.  They’ve written Monsanto seed laws and gotten legislators to put them through, that make cleaning, collecting and storing of seeds so onerous in terms of fees and paperwork that having normal seed becomes almost impossible.

3.  Monsanto is pushing laws that ensure farmers and citizens can’t block the planting of GMO crops even if they can contaminate other crops.

4.  There are Monsanto regulations buried in the FDA rules that make a farmer’s seed cleaning equipment illegal because it’s now considered a “source of seed contamination.”

Monsanto has sued more than 1,500 farmers whose fields had simply been contaminated by GM crops.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola''s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
There is a reason why I believe Monsanto to be one of the most evil companies on the planet, and this is in large part due to its activities relating to controlling food production through controlling the seeds to produce it.

For nearly all of its history the United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant patents on seeds, viewing them as life-forms with too many variables to be patented. But in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for seed patents in a five-to-four decision, laying the groundwork for a handful of corporations to begin taking control of the world’s food supply.

Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won at least 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company.

This is not surprising, considering they invest over $2 million a day on research and development!

But Monsanto is not only patenting their own GMO seeds. They have also succeeded in slapping patents on a huge number of crop seeds, patenting life forms for the first time — again without a vote of the people or Congress. By doing this, Monsanto becomes sole owner of the very seeds necessary to support the world’s food supply … an incredibly powerful position that no for-profit company should ever hold.

How do they defend this blatant attempt to control the food supply? They write on MonsantoToday.com:

“Patent protection allows companies to see a return on their investment which enables further investment in R-and-D and product development. This profit-investment cycle drives product innovation that is responsive to farmer needs.”

Farmers’ needs?

Farmers who buy Monsanto’s GM seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save the seeds or sell them to other farmers. The result? Farmers must buy new seeds every year, and they must buy them from Monsanto.

Meanwhile, these same farmers who Monsanto is claiming to help are being aggressively targeted and pursued for outrageous patent infringements on these same seeds.

The “Seed Police”

Monsanto employs an arsenal of private investigators and agents who secretly videotape farmers, snatch crop samples from their land and even fly helicopters overhead to spy — all to catch farmers saving or sharing seeds.

As of 2005 Monsanto had 75 employees and a $10-million budget solely to investigate and prosecute farmers for patent infringement.

And until recently, Monsanto has even been known to sue farmers for GM crops growing on their land that got there via cross-contamination. In other words, a neighboring farm’s GM seeds blew over onto their land, and Monsanto slaps them with a lawsuit.

I realize this seems incredible, but it is true.

Have You Heard of Terminator Seeds?

Creating and promoting GM crops is, in my opinion, a major threat to public health. Patenting those same seeds takes it to an even higher level of evil. But there is another reason why I don’t believe for one second that Monsanto has the virtuous intentions they claim: terminator seeds.

Monsanto is considering using what’s known as terminator technology on a wide-scale basis. These are seeds that have been genetically modified to “self-destruct.” In other words, the seeds (and the forthcoming crops) are sterile, which means farmers must buy them again each year.

This solves their problem of needing “seed police,” but they are obviously looking the other way when it comes to the implications that terminator seeds could have on the world’s food supply: the traits from genetically engineered crops can get passed on to other crops, and often do.

Once the terminator seeds are released into a region, the trait of seed sterility could be passed to other non-genetically-engineered crops, making most or all of the seeds in the region sterile.

Not only would this mean that every farm in the world could come to rely on Monsanto for their seed supply, but if the GM traits spread it could destroy agriculture as we now know it.

How Can You Get Through to Monsanto?

First, I urge you to get informed on the issue by watching The Future of Food. This in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind genetically modified foods is one of the best documentaries I have ever viewed. It will help you understand the very real threat that ALL future generations face as a result of genetic engineering.

Next, hit Monsanto where it counts … their bottom line. By boycotting all GM foods and instead supporting organic (and local) farmers who do not use Monsanto’s GM seeds, you are using your wallet to make your opinions known.

This means abstaining from virtually all processed food products (most are loaded with GM ingredients) and sticking to fresh, locally grown, organic foodstuffs instead.

The True Food Shopping Guide is a great tool for helping you determine which brands and products contain GMO ingredients. It lists 20 different food categories that include everything from baby food to chocolate.

I’ve also compiled an excellent list of resources where you can still find pure, GM-free foods, and I encourage you to refer to it often and also share it with your friends and family.

Related Links:

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