News News News
THINK TANK STUDY PROPOSES 11 BILLION DOLLARS FOR PATIENT IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS
An October study from RAND Health proposes that 11 billion dollars be spent to create unique patient identification numbers for U.S. citizens. “It’s an absolutely terrible idea,” said Deborah Peel, M.D., a psychiatrist and chair of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation. “Any database that has these numbers is bound to be a treasure trove for identity thieves.”
The study was funded by a group of health information technology and IT companies. The study’s lead author, Richard Hillestad, Ph.D., claims that the source of funding did not influence the study findings. He also believes the 11 billion dollar cost “would likely return even more in benefits to the nation’s health care system” (American Medical News December 1, 2008, p 8)
AMERICAN GINSENG & COLDS
Consumption of North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) appears to confer some immunity to catching colds. Two hundred and seventy-nine subjects were randomized to receive either 400mg of freeze-dried ginseng or placebo for four months.
Consumption of the ginseng was a associated with a decreased mean number of colds and reduced total symptom scores and days of illness. (Predy GN et al. Efficacy of an extract of North American ginseng containing poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides for preventing upper respiratory tract infections: a randomized controlled trial. Can Med Assoc J 2005; 173: 1043–8).
SOLO PRACTICE TO DISAPPEAR FROM UK
In the United Kingdom, government pressure to increase workloads for solo practitioners has amazingly resulted in more doctors leaving practice.(Medical Economics, January 23, 2009)
The “Fairness in Primary Care” initiative in once-Great Britain, which requires practices to expand hours and add new services, is having the same effect that its U.S. counterpart, the “Medical Home Concept”, will have here.
Small practices in the U.S. are already finding it difficult to comply with myriad regulations and mandates that increase workload, costs, and liability. Many new and unproven social engineering projects are on tap from the unholy alliance of the Obama administration and the medical-industrial complex.
It is easy to predict the result: impersonalized and “standardized” treatment protocols will be dispensed at mega clinics by technicians. Primary care practice as it has long been practiced will be gone by 2012.
HIBISCUS TEA MAY LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Patients with hypertension may benefit from three 8 oz. cups a day of hibiscus tea, according to a trial presented to the annual meeting of the American Heart Association. 65 patients were enrolled in a 6 week double blind study testing hibiscus tea against a placebo beverage at Tufts University, Boston.
The effect increased with higher baseline blood pressures, averaging a 13.2 mm Hg reduction in those with systolic pressure above 129. Diastolic pressures in this group were reduced by a mean of 6.4 mm Hg. There were no side effects. The study followed reports that in animals, Hibisucs sabdariffa L. had antihypertensive and antiatherosclerotic effect. ( Family Practice News January 1, 2009, p 8)
TAI CHI AND FALLS
A number of studies have suggested that practicing Tai Chi can improve balance and stability in healthy older people and reduce the rate of falling. A new study conducted in a park in Nanjing in China suggests that this benefit may extend to less robust seniors with poor balance.
After eight weeks of daily tai chi (one hour per day), participants improved more than controls in the Falls Efficacy Scale and measures of balance and trunk flexion. (Zhang JG. The effects of Tai Chi Chuan on physiological function and fear of falling in the less robust elderly: an intervention study for preventing falls. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 2006; 42: 107–16).
ANTIBIOTICS AND BREAST CANCER
A Finnish analysis of 3 million individuals suggests that a history of antibiotic use increases the risk of endocrine, prostate, lung, breast and colon cancers. Antibiotic use over two years was linked to cancer development in the following six years. Two to five prescriptions increased the risk 27 per cent and over six prescriptions increased the risk by 37 per cent. (Int. J Cancer 08; 123:2152-2155)
This association was also found by researchers from the University of Washington and the National Cancer institute. Women who took antibiotics for more than 500 days, or had more than 25 prescriptions over an average period of 17 year had more than twice the risk of breast cancer when compared with those who took none. The increase occurred in all classes of antibiotics. (JAMA 04; 291:827-835)
KIDNEY STONES AND THE LARGE INTESTINE
80 per cent of kidney stones are composed of calcium oxalate. Because bacteria in the large intestine metabolize oxalate, researchers studied the prevalence of a particular bacterium, Oxalobater formigenes, in 247 patients with recurring calcium oxalate stones. The levels were compared to those in 259 control patients.
Their conclusion was that the presence of these beneficial bacteria reduced the risk of recurring calcium oxalate kidney stones by 70 per cent. Excessive antibiotic use might reduce the levels of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine and needs to be investigated as a possible contributor to these dangerous and painful recurrent stones. (J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 08;19:1197-1203)
IS BREAST CANCER OVERTREATED?
A six year study in 4 Norwegian countries examined cumulative breast cancer incidence before and after the initiation of biennial mammography. The control group was offered a one time prevalence screen at the end of the observation period. Researchers found a higher incidence in the screened group, as expected. However, after prevalence screening of the controls, the cumulative incidence of invasive breast cancer was 22% higher in the screened group.
The researchers propose that some cancers detected by repeated screening would not persist to be detectable by a single mammogram at the end of 6 years, raising “the possibility that the natural course of some screen detected invasive breast cancers is to spontaneously regress.” (Archives of Internal Medicine 2008; 168(21):2311-2316)
“BIOIDENTICAL” HORMONES MORE PROMISING THAN PREMARIN
Transdermal use of synthesized estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and dihydroepiandrostenedione appear to relieve menopausal symptoms while also improving cardiovascular risk factors and inflammatory and thrombotic biomarkers. Nonetheless, the FDA introduced regulations in January of 2008 that interfere with a woman’s access to individualized hormone therapy by making it harder for physicians to prescribe this type of individualized treatment instead of standardized pharmaceutical products such as Premarin®.
Often called "conjugated estrogens", Premarin® is prepared from horse urine and contains substances that are not part of the human hormonal spectrum. In the Women’s Health Initiative, Premarin® was linked to increased risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular events. Premarin® may also have deleterious effects on memory and increase the risk of developing dementia.
The study was reported at the annual scientific session of the American Heart Association by Dr. Kenna Stevenson of the University Of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. (Family Practice News January 1, 2009 p. 23)
TEA & BREAST CANCER
A meta-analysis of studies into the relationship of tea drinking to the risk of developing breast cancer has found a 20% reduction with high green tea consumption, with no comparable benefit for black tea (with some studies showing a small increased risk).
The anti-cancer benefits of tea are linked to the presence of water-extractable polyphenols which are much higher in green tea (30-40%) than black tea (3-10%). (Sun CL etal. Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Carcinogenesis, doi:10.1093/carcin/bgi276).
COCOA HELPS BLOOD PRESSURE
Older men (65 to 84) who ate or drank the most cocoa (4.2g a day) were found to be at half the risk of dying during a fifteen-year study period, compared to men who consumed none. Eating or drinking cocoa appears to reduce the risk of hypertension and hypertension mortality, and even reduce the risk of death from all causes.
Cocoa contains flavan-3-ols, which have been linked to lower blood pressure and improved function of the cells lining the blood vessels, as well as antioxidants which may protect against a range of other diseases. (Buijsse B et al. Cocoa Intake, Blood Pressure, and Cardiovascular Mortality: The Zutphen Elderly Study. Archives of Internal Medicine, Feb 2006; 166: 411-417).
DEFENSIVE MEDICINE WIDESPREAD
A survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society suggests that defensive medicine reduces access to care, is unsafe for patients and adds 1.4 billion dollars to the cost of health care in that state. Defensive medicine is defined as ordering unnecessary tests, procedures, referrals, hospitalizations or prescriptions because of fear of lawsuits. The society said that patients are unnecessarily exposed to radiation and possible allergic reactions when subjected to x rays ordered for defensive purposes. (Family Practice News January 1 2009, p 30)
MEDITATION FOR THE HEART
A Brazilian study has investigated the possible benefits of meditation for sufferers of congestive cardiac failure (CCF). Nineteen patients (median age 74.8 years) were randomly assigned to a meditation group or a control. The meditation group practiced for 30 minutes at a time, twice a day for 12 weeks, using a tape that led them through breathing regulation, mind calming and healthy heart visualization, whilst the control group had a weekly meeting (for 12 weeks) that included discussion on stress.
At the end of the intervention period, the meditators had a 43% reduction in norepinephrine, a 35% improvement in quality-of-life scores and a significant improvement in VO2 and VE/VCO2 slope by cardiopulmonary exercise testing, with no changes in the controls in any of these measures. (Curiati JA. Meditation reduces sympathetic activation and improves the quality of life in elderly patients with optimally treated heart failure: a prospective randomized study. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Jun;11(3):465-72).
GREEN TEA & COGNITIVE DECLINE
Regular green tea consumption appears to be associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline, according to a study of more than 1000 Japanese adults in their 70s. Those who drank two or more cups of green tea a day were half as likely to show signs of cognitive impairment as those who drank three cups or less a week, with an average of one cup a day showing a risk roughly halfway between the two other groups.
Although the study was not able to demonstrate a clear connection between drinking green tea and maintaining mental acuity, it may help explain why there is less dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, in Japan compared to Europe and North America. (Kuriyama S et al. Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project 1. Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, Feb 2006; 83: 355-361).
"What Were They Thinking?" Department
SANTA COMES TO WASHINGTON, WHERE THE NAUGHTY GET THE BEST GIFTS
"And let me say this to all of the chattering class that so much focuses on those little, tiny, yes, porky amendments, the American people really don't care," -- Senator Charles Schumer of New York
Just as predicted in the September 2008 newsletter, the massive transfer of taxpayer wealth into the pockets of our ruling elite has been a complete failure in addressing the economic situation that these same elitists have engineered. Astonishingly, the concept of “buying our way out of debt” was not immediately rejected by every member of the legislative branch and every economist who has a working cortex. That so many of the ruling plutocracy are still enamored with this theory, and so few of ordinary working citizens are, is an indication that another power and wealth grab is in process.
ACT IN HASTE, REPENT AT LEISURE
Most complex decisions take some time to evaluate. Whenever someone is putting pressure on you to do some thing right away without thinking, chances are you are going to make a wrong decision. “You must buy before midnight tonight” or “Limited time offer!” are favored tactics of the advertising crowd: “Don’t let this opportunity pass you by”
Decisions motivated solely by fear are also likely to be incorrect. The fantasy that things would be worse if we didn’t make hasty and unconsidered decisions has been prevalent since September: i.e., “We need to compare the cost of this package against the cost of doing nothing. The cost of nothing would be catastrophic," said Rep. David Obey (D., Wis.)
The last government worked these strategies to perfection, riding roughshod over constitutional protocols in their rush to expand government, declare war, and neutralize privacy and constitutional rights of citizens with the flimsy claim that instant response is necessary or catastrophe will result.
The new government has lost no time in demonstrating its mastery of this fantastic tool for robber-baronism. There’s no time to lose, this legislation must be passed and signed by President’s day. An 1100 page bill that is so important that no member of Congress or the Senate was given the time to read it before voting on it. Our legislators don’t seem to believe that it’s their job to know what they are legislating, in line with the last legislature. After all, they are mostly the same people.
Now, why such a rush to burden the citizens of the U.S. with a debt that neither we nor any foreign power has shown any inclination to repay?
How exactly is it an all-out emergency need for 2 billion dollars to be appropriated to NASA? 8 billion for high speed rail? What horrific event will occur if the Smithsonian doesn’t get 25 million, or the National Endowment of the Arts, 50 million?
And, let us not forget 650 million for the digital-to-analog television converter box coupon program, and 7 billion to expand broadband services to underserved communities, whose access to the internet is considered so urgent by our Senecas in Washington.
“Health” bureaucracies will also do well: The bill provides 10 billion for the National Institute of Health, and 1 billion for the “Prevention and Wellness Fund”.
It is self-evident that legistlation in Washington often is labeled as the exact opposite of what it really represents. The many “tax simplification acts” of 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2001, etc. are an obvious example. In line with expectations, a bill that is advertised as promoting employment contains little of substance in that realm.
How are the laid-off service workers from banks and computer companies going to be retrained to be construction workers? Where are the leagues of trainers who will be needed to put the necessary muscle on a workforce that formerly did nothing more demanding than lifting a pencil or pushing a mouse?
How will autoworkers and warehouse stockers going to develop the skills to build bridges, dig sewers, lay pipe, or otherwise repair a crumbling infrastructure that has been ignored for 60 years?
In a country where almost nobody can repair a shoe anymore, how will aptitude suddenly appear so people will be able to dig oilwells and run nuclear plants? Where are the corps of architects and engineers who will design and oversee these projects? Who is accepting any of the incredible lies they are hearing?
There is also no plan to save or create jobs for the front line workers of medicine. A shortage of nurses and primary care doctors has existed for some time, so it is beyond belief that in a “jobs-creation” bill that there is not a single line addressing these life threatening trends.
A new list for Santa is certain to be in preparation.
"To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must take our choice between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, we (will then) be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labors and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people under the pretense of caring for them, (the people) will be happy." -- Thomas Jefferson