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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Insurance sales commissions raise eyebrows at Medicare

This sounds like round two of the Medicare Senior Drug Plan fiasco that has turned over thousands of dollars to the insurance industry, rather than helping Seniors pay for drugs.

It also looks like the regulators aren't keeping a close eye on what the market is up to, not unlike the current Wall Street fiasco at great cost to the public coffers.

This certainly should be an election issue and warrants a call or letter to your member of Congress.
Medicare officials to review insurers' commissions By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Federal health officials said Friday they will soon address growing concerns about the lucrative commissions that some Medicare insurers plan to pay their agents and brokers this year.

In Medicare, the elderly and disabled can enroll in private insurance plans that assume responsibility for covering a participant's health benefits. Those plans get a generous government subsidy and now serve roughly 10 million people. The program is called Medicare Advantage.

Documents obtained from some companies participating in Medicare Advantage show that their agents stand to make $500 to $550 this year for enrolling a beneficiary into one of their plans. In subsequent years, the agents could make another $500 for every year the beneficiary stays with the plan. After five years, an agent could have made more than $2,500, which is quite a jump from previous years.

Such a financial reward is raising concerns that agents and brokers will work too aggressively to enroll people into plans that don't meet their health needs.

"Medicare Advantage plans that have nearly quadrupled agent commissions are putting profits before patients and that's wrong," Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said in a news release Friday. "We can't let seniors remain at risk of being targeted by predatory sales agents looking to make a quick buck."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued regulations designed to curb abusive sales tactics in the Medicare Advantage program. The regulations went into effect Oct. 1, the start of the new marketing season. Plans can't begin enrolling new beneficiaries for their 2009 coverage until Nov. 15.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., urged CMS to consider capping commissions.

"This issue needs to be resolved immediately, before open enrollment begins," Stark said.

Kerry Weems, the acting administrator for CMS, said the agency plans to take action soon.

"We will address the concern and expect to take regulatory action next week," Weems said. "CMS is strongly suggesting that plans keep this in mind as they contemplate making any final arrangements regarding commission structures."

Weems did not elaborate on what regulatory changes will be make. The trade group representing insurers encouraged CMS to take some action.

"We support CMS acting in this area and believe clear and consistent standards are necessary," said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans.

Two of the major players in the program, Humana Corp. and UnitedHealth Group, both said Friday that they welcomed regulation of insurance agent commissions.

"Nine months ago, we called for capping commissions and total compensation paid to contracted agents and brokers. Consistent with our position, we support Chairman Stark's proposal," said Humana spokesman Tom Noland. "We believe this payment method ensures that agents and brokers are rewarded only when seniors are satisfied with their choices, and penalizes agents and brokers who use marketing tactics that result in beneficiaries signing up for a product they do not fully understand."

"We would also welcome regulation that establishes reasonable industry-wide broker commission norms," said a statement issued by Ovations, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group.

Officials familiar with the Medicare Advantage program say the increases being seen in insurance agent commissions this year are a result of competition as well as regulatory changes that the government made.

On the Net: Rep. Pete Stark:

Placebo Effect Benefits Health

I always like to quote Andy Weil's statement when it comes to placebo naysayers. Weil believes placebo to be one of the most underused tools in medicine. Probably he's referring to the 'art' of medicine as it used to be when placebo was commonly used without being damned by the AMA.

From my perspective the use of placebo often deals directly with the emotional component of health care. And it is this component that has fallen by the wayside, leading to a tremendous loss of confidence in the system by patients.

Perhaps the AMA pundits might want to take a refresher course in medical history and brush up on their patient interaction skills. They might begin with Listening 101.
Survey: Half of US doctors use placebo treatmentsBy MARIA CHENG, AP Medical Writer

LONDON – About half of American doctors in a new survey say they regularly give patients placebo treatments — usually drugs or vitamins that won't really help their condition. And many of these doctors are not honest with their patients about what they are doing, the survey found.

That contradicts advice from the American Medical Association, which recommends doctors use treatments with the full knowledge of their patients.

"It's a disturbing finding," said Franklin G. Miller, director of the research ethics program at the U.S. National Institutes Health and one of the study authors. "There is an element of deception here which is contrary to the principle of informed consent."

The study was being published online in Friday's issue of BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.

Placebos as defined in the survey went beyond the typical sugar pill commonly used in medical studies. A placebo was any treatment that wouldn't necessarily help the patient.

Scientists have long known of the "placebo effect," in which patients given a fake or ineffective treatment often improve anyway, simply because they expected to get better.

"Doctors may be under a lot of pressure to help their patients, but this is not an acceptable shortcut," said Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull in Britain who has studied the use of placebos.

Researchers at the NIH sent surveys to a random sample of 1,200 internists and rheumatologists — doctors who treat arthritis and other joint problems. They received 679 responses. Of those doctors, 62 percent believed that using a placebo treatment was ethically acceptable.

Half the doctors reported using placebos several times a month, nearly 70 percent of those described the treatment to their patients as "a potentially beneficial medicine not typically used for your condition." Only 5 percent of doctors explicitly called it a placebo treatment.

Most doctors used actual medicines as a placebo treatment: 41 percent used painkillers, 38 percent used vitamins, 13 percent used antibiotics, 13 percent used sedatives, 3 percent used saline injections, and 2 percent used sugar pills.

In the survey, doctors were asked if they would recommend a sugar pill for patients with chronic pain if it had been shown to be more effective than no treatment. Nearly 60 percent said they would.

Smaller studies done elsewhere, including Britain, Denmark and Sweden, have found similar results.

Jon Tilburt, the lead author of the U.S. study, who is with NIH's bioethics department, said he believes the doctors surveyed were representative of internists and rheumatologists across the U.S. No statistical work was done to establish whether the survey results would apply to other medical specialists, such as pediatricians or surgeons.

The research was paid for by NIH's bioethics department and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The authors said most doctors probably reasoned that doing something was better than doing nothing.

In some cases, placebos were given to patients with conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome. Doctors also gave antibiotics to patients with viral bronchitis, knowing full well that a virus is impervious to antibiotics, which fight bacteria. Experts believe overuse of antibiotics promotes the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria.

Some doctors believe placebos are a good treatment in certain situations, as long as patients are told what they are being given. Dr. Walter Brown, a professor of psychiatry at Brown and Tufts universities, said people with insomnia, depression or high blood pressure often respond well to placebo treatments.

"You could tell those patients that this is something that doesn't have any medicine in it but has been shown to work in people with your condition," he suggested.

However, experts don't know if the placebo effect would be undermined if patients were explicitly told they were getting a dummy pill.

Brown said that while he hasn't prescribed sugar pills, he has given people with anxiety problems pills that had extremely low doses of medication. "The dose was so low that whatever effect the patients were getting was probably a placebo effect," he said.

Kirsch, the psychologist, said it might be possible to get the psychological impact without using a fake pill. "If doctors just spent more time with their patients so they felt more reassured, that might help," he said.

Some patients who had just seen their doctors at a clinic in London said the truth was paramount.

"I would feel very cheated if I was given a placebo," said Ruth Schachter, an 86-year-old Londoner with skin cancer. "I like to have my eyes wide open, even if it's bad news," she said. "If I'm given something without being warned what it is, I certainly would not trust the doctor again."

On the Net:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hawking Retires

This item is important to me in relation to a recent case of the demise of a person with ALS in N. Idaho, through the hospice system.

Dr. Hawking is renown as one of the great minds of our times, and yet with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) he has continued to contribute much to our awareness and knowledge of science and space.

This wasn't the luxury offered to the man in N. Idaho. He just got the "Listen Buddy" lecture that there just was no hope. The lecture came from the doctor that wrote up the drug dose bringing about the man's demise. I suppose it didn't matter that the dose might have been too low, allowing the man to wake up intermittently after drugs were adminstered and he was removed from a ventilator. (I wonder what the outcome might have been if this man was being given the nutrients that seem to benefit people with ALS instead of lethal drugs.)

Reports I received from confidential sources gave me the impression that this man with ALS was quite intellectually alert and interacted with people and his environment. He also seemed to have told the doctor a resounding "NO" to the drug induced death.

I am certainly relieved to know Dr. Hawking isn't living in Idaho.
Stephen Hawking to retire from prestigious post
Oct 24, 2008

CAMBRIDGE, England – Famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking will retire from his prestigious post at Cambridge University next year, but intends to continue his exploration of time and space.

Hawking, 66, is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a title once held by the great 18th century physicist Isaac Newton. The university said Friday that he would step down at the end of the academic year in September, but would continue working as Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

"We look forward to him continuing his academic work at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, playing a leading role in research in cosmology and gravitation," said Professor Peter Haynes, who heads the department.

Hawking became a scientific celebrity through his theories on black holes and the nature of time, work that he carried on despite becoming paralyzed by motor neurone disease.

University policy is that officeholders must retire at the end of the academic year in which they become 67. Hawking will reach that milestone on Jan. 8.

The Lucasian professorship post was founded in 1663 by Henry Lucas, who left his 4,000 books and land expected to yield 100 pounds a year to the university. King Charles II officially established the position in 1664.

Sir Isaac Newton was the second to hold the post. Paul Dirac, a specialist in quantum mechanics who predicted the existence of positron particles, had the title from 1932 to 1969.

Hawking was appointed to the chair in 1979.

His 1988 book, "A Brief History of Time," was an international best-seller; "A Briefer History of Time," intended to be more accessible, followed in 2005.

"George's Secret Key to the Universe," co-authored with Hawking's daughter Lucy, was published last year for the children's market.

Hawking first earned prominence for his theoretical work on black holes. Disproving the belief that black holes are so dense that nothing could escape their gravitational pull, he showed that black holes leak a tiny bit of light and other types of radiation, now known as "Hawking radiation."

Health Care and Elections

With the US election only days away this topic is certainly one you need to consider before placing your votes.

"Medical Bills, Drug Prices and Access to Health Care -- Election Guide"
Health care proposals are on most voter's minds and whether or not I like either candidate's proposals (and I don't - speaking from my years as a health planner).

A major oversight is one that would include access to care of choice, including natural care (not exclusive to licensed hybrid natural medicine providers) and supplement parity.

In my estimation the insurance industry still has too great a hold through its lobbyists on the DNC and RNC campaigns.

Less you forget, it is insurance (and their many levels of middlemen) that is the greatest source of increase in health care costs. It isn't the tort lawyer scam that the industry and media want you to believe.

Insurers actually control what service a health care provider can offer and what they will get paid for it. Insurers do control what drugs they will pay for and how much so both these issues directly impact your employer plan, your access and your out of pocket costs.

And don't think for a minute Big Pharma isn't twisting the arm of Big Insurance to put pressure on limits to coverage.

Sorry all you R's, you are the ones who have the biggest push to put $$$ in the pocket of your cronies in the insurance industry. Maybe this is one reason why you moved to bail them out while you forgot that tax proposals can't be in legislation originating in the Senate.

Another Pink Charade Almost Over

I am so moved when I see how many people are finally catching on to the Pink Charade that comes along every so often throughout the year. If you are a follower of my work you know it has been quite a long time (a few decades) that I've been promoting education and prevention (more like full disclosure) so that women aren't the lab rats for drugs or other therapy they are told to be the only option available (not).

One big concern is the falsity of mammogram. I personally have my long-time friend and his excellent research to thank for this enlightenment (John Gofman, MD).

I don't think I have to say more until next March or next October, so read the numerous posts in my blog and on my web site about these issues. Your health really does depend on knowing the facts.

There are others who believe in the same things and you can refer to them as well -

The Biggest Breast Cancer Risk Factor That No One Is Talking About

Should women who have paid for statins be given their money back?

I think Dr. John Briffa has a point of consideration here. If you follow this blog you know we are also big skeptics about the statins and are most concerned with the health problems they create and the ones they really do not help.

Again marketing seems to be the drive behind the sales of this class of drug. Yet more and more you read articles that seem to tell you that statins will fix just about everything.

You can do much more for your health without these drugs and other newer ones from the recombinant-GMO aisle.

Also remember that the majority of medical texts are written with men in mind and women's health - for the most part - seems to remain an aside.

The same pervasive thinking must be in the halls of Big Pharma as well.

Related to this topic are some of our posts on the benefits of vitamin C and vitamin E for heart health and other health concerns, while MSM muddies the water on the facts: Just Like the Cholesterol Myth.
By Dr John Briffa
October 24, 2008

Cholesterol-reducing drugs known as statins are hugely popular and highly profitable. It’s a shame, then, that they aren’t very effective. I say this because while they have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, they do not reduce the overall risk of death when essentially healthy individuals are being treated. This was the conclusion of an analysis of 8 studies which had been performed using individuals with no previous diagnosis of cardiovascular disease [1]. This analysis also revealed that for one individual to be protected from a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke) over a 5-year period, 67 people would need to be treated.

Other evidence analysing the effectiveness of the national treatment guidelines in the USA, Canada, the UK and New Zealand has revealed the so-called ‘number needed to treat’ (NNT) varies from 108-198 [2]. These startlingly high NNTs have caused some to question whether statins are really the wonder drugs some would have us believe them to be.

But wait, it gets worse. Because the limited ‘benefits’ of statins seems to be confined mainly to men. The research has found that even in women with diagnosed cardiovascular disease and/or history of heart attack or stroke, statins do not reduce overall risk of death. And in healthy women, they don’t reduce the risk of cardiovascular events (heart attacks and strokes) either. The crashing failure of statins in women was fully elucidated in an analysis from British GP Malcolm Kendrick in the BMJ last year [3].

The singular failure of statin drugs to help women was highlighted this week in the British Medical Journal [4]. In a news piece, our attention was brought to an analysis from a professor of law and a professor of clinical epidemiology in the USA. The paper focuses on the most widely prescribed statin of all - atorvastatin (Lipitor) [5]. It looks at the evidence for the effectiveness of this drug in treating essentially women with no history of cardiovascular disease. In line with previous evidence on statins, there was no significant benefit to be found.

But the authors of this analysis go further by questioning the fact that when Lipitor is promoted and advertised, there’s plenty of talk about the fact that it reduces the risk of heart attacks, but no mention of it’s stunning lack of success with regard in women. They accuse Lipitor’s manufacturers of a lack of candour here, and also ask questions of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA. At a bare minimum, they say, the FDA should be using its muscle to protect people against misleading marketing. They also suggest that women who have paid out of their pockets as a result of false promises should be compensated for the money they’ve effectively wasted.

The authors conclude: Our findings indicate that each year reasonably healthy women spend billions of dollars on drugs in the hope of preventing heart attacks but that scientific evidence supporting their hope does not exist.
According to the BMJ new piece, Pfizer have responded to the article in the form of a statement, which I can’t locate on the web. In this statement, Pfizer claims that “Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in women as well as men and it ultimately kills as many women as men. However, onset of disease is delayed by some 10-15 years in women compared to men; thus the National Institutes for Health (NIH) ATP III guidelines define age as a risk factor in women at age 55, compared to age 45 for men. In addition, the AHA CVD Guidelines for Women were updated in 2007 and recommend that healthcare professionals should focus on women’s lifetime heart disease risk, not just short-term risk.”

Let this not distract us from the fact, I say, that statins have not been shown to benefit essentially healthy women. And let’s not forget either that for each person that benefits from taking statins, many, many others don’t.


1. Abramson J, Wright JM. Are lipid-lowering guidelines evidence-based? Lancet 2007;369:168-169

2. Manuel DG, et al. Effectiveness and efficiency of different guidelines on statin treatment for preventing deaths from coronary heart disease: modeling study. BMJ 2006;332:1419

3. Kenrick M. Should women be offered cholesterol lowering drugs to prevent cardiovascular disease? No. BMJ 2007;334:983

4. Dobson R. Atorvastatin advertising misled over benefits for women, study claims. BMJ 2008;337:a2209

5. Eisenberg T, et al. Statins and Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Moderate-Risk Females: A Statistical and Legal Analysis with Implications for FDA Preemption Claims. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. Published Online: Sep 5 2008
Article from:

Green Living: Making Your Own Non-Toxic Cleaners

Back in 1991 I started teaching a series of classes under the broad heading of "Green Living". The classes came as the result of the naturally oriented column I was writing at that time and some local presentations in and around the Puget Sound region.

Probably one of my most popular classes from that time is one where I talk about all the ingredients in mass market cleaners and why they are not health promoting.

During this program I teach how to clean just about anything you can imagine with a select few ingredients, bought cheaply at the supermarket or in bulk if you know where to access these in your local area.

Of course now the big producers of mass market cleaners are flooding the market with their brands hoping you'll keep up their $10 billion market share. While these products aren't totally toxic, under the guise of green they still include some known irritants and toxins.

Generally most people aren't as interested as I am in reading the chemical index, a standard resource for the cleaning products and HABA crowd. You can find this in the library and you'd really be amazed and what you find. You can also look up things under MSDS (material safety data sheet) system.

The problem is that while single items may be "approved" the mixtures resulting from adding two or more ingredients together are not required to be tested for health or environmental risks.

Back at that time we prepared one of our Healthy Handouts© on the topic of making your own cleaning products. This might be something you'd like to purchase as it seems that you can save - on the average - over $400 a year doing some very simple things along these lines.

Yes, Bisphenol-A is Toxic

Long before Daily Green, where Dan Shapley serves as news editor, we broke the facts on Bisphenol-A Industry Wrote the Rules on Bisphenol-A , where you find it and why it is toxic, as well as an endocrine disruptor. This happened because I was curious about the '7' stamped on the bottom of Nalgene bottles carried around in the college town where I lived at the time by almost everyone.

You may also not know that dental sealant, usually applied to the teeth of children, contains bisphenol-A.

And often overlooked in the press is that under the current and last administrations, the involvement of industry in writing regulations has been commonplace or SOP as they say in acronym-using circles.

A 2005 post can be found on this blog - "Is Your Nalgene Bottle Cool or Cruel"

Now as things have caught up to me and my usual style of being ahead of the curve and offering differing options for your thought and erudition, I think it's a good time to turn in your bottles for Kleen Kanteens.

The sad part though is that can liners still may contain fluoride and BPA components and in the states it may take a while to clean up the act here, being what the current ideology is circulating amongst the Beltway Bandits (D.C. for those outside the US).
Think The Mainstream Media Is Irrelevant? The Bisphenol-A Story Shows Otherwise By Dan Shapley, October 24, 2008

In another sign that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is a more effective consumer watchdog than the federal government, the newspaper has turned up evidence that the chemical industry wrote the Food and Drug Administration assessment that deemed Bisphenol-A safe, despite a growing number of independent and government research to the contrary.

The Journal-Sentinel should be commended, again, for its role uncovering and publicizing industry influence on chemical risk analysis in various federal agencies. (Pulitzer, anyone?) Lest anyone fail to realize the cost of turmoil in the mainstream media, this is an example of why the health of the nations newspapers matter. The Journal-Sentinel announced plans in July to cut 130 jobs -- 10% of its full-time staff -- and that was before its parent company announced a third-quarter loss of $17.1 million, according to Forbes.

The paper's latest revelation is that the FDA used an American Chemistry Council report as the basis for its own health analysis of Bisphenol-A, an ingredient in plastics and the lining of cans. It mimics the hormone estrogen and has been linked to a wide range of problems in laboratory studies and, increasingly, human health studies.

The chemical industry, which profits handsomely on sales of the chemical, asserts its safe. The FDA, similarly -- and, not surprisingly, as it turns out -- has agreed. Canada, meanwhile has declared it hazardous and ordered it removed from baby bottles. The U.S. National Toxicology Program also expressed concerns.

The FDA is now reviewing its health assessment. One can hope that shame, if not a sense of public duty, will compel it to independently consider independent science, rather than the industry's spin.

And one can only hope that newspapers with investigative teams like the Journal-Sentinel can survive the turmoil traditional media faces. It's not that online media can't undertake investigations of the same kind, but these news gathering institutions have deep histories, long experience, and are still -- unquestionably -- relevant.

(Another example: The McClatchy news service wrote today that the White House Office of Management and Budget weakened the Environmental Protection Agency's new rule restricting airborne lead, a known neurotoxin, so that 60% fewer facilities would be regulated.)

Tamiflu Resistance Confirmed

While you are pondering whether or not to take the flu jab you might wish to read about vaccine resistance, something you don't see or hear usually in mainstream media.
First Confirmed H1N1 in CanadaTamiflu ResistantRecombinomics, October 23, 2008

Since 1 September 2008, National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has antigenically characterized three influenza viruses: one influenza A/Brisbane/59/2007(H1N1)-like and two influenza B/Florida/4/2006 viruses, which are the influenza A(H1N1) and influenza B components recommended for the 2008-09 influenza vaccine.

The testing results showed that the influenza A(H1N1) isolate was sensitive to amantadine, however, it was resistant to oseltamivir due to the H274Y mutation.

The above data from the most recent (week 41) report on seasonal flu in Canada indicates that the first confirmed influenza A case this season was H1N1 and was Tamiflu (oseltamivir) resistant. Data had been trickling in for influenza in the northern hemisphere this flu season. Several countries, including the US and Canada had high frequencies of H274Y in H1N1 isolates, but the above report is on the first Canadian isolate in the 2008/2009 season.

In the southern hemisphere, several countries (South Africa, New Zealand, New Caledonia) reported frequencies of 100%, raising concerns that H274Y was becoming fixed in human H1N1. The high levels in last season in the northern hemisphere was limited to clade 2B (Brisbane/59), as found in the isolate in Canada. H274Y was present in patients who had not recently taken Tamiflu, indicating the sub-clade with H274Y did not have a fitness penalty, and the increase to 100% levels indicated that the sub-clade had a selection advantage.

The early data from Canada supports concerns that the H274Y levels in H1N1 in the northern hemisphere will be close to 100% this season.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just a reminder - Exercise for Health

Exercise has proven to be positively related to the prevention and cure of all of these health concerns -

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis

Forget the excuses, just try a 10 minute block in the morning and another in the evening. It's what'll do a body good.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CHF and Fracture

The American Heart Association reports on an increased risk of fracture with congestive heart failure (CHF).

The article addresses issues such as parathyroid hormone, calcium and vitamin D and the bisphosphonate drugs for osteoporosis. One of the researchers wants better osteoporosis screening for people with heart disease and CHF.

What the study ignores is the common proactive of prescribing diuretics for people with CHF.

It is a well known fact that long term use of diuretics leads to osteoporosis.

Was this excluded to gain further prescribing for the risky bisphosphonates that do little to improve bone health?

Congestive heart failure increases risk of fractures: study

LED v. CFL: We Vote for LED

Long before you heard the mainstream push to promote CFL bulbs we warned of the mervury/hazardous waste risk that seemed to be ignored by most venues.

At the same time we've warned against CFL bulbs we've educated for the switch to LED light blubs or PAR halogen types.

Now it seems that E and Daily Green have taken our heed. Mind you we have written tro them in the past about LED, while they still were promoting CFL and not paying such close attention to the hazards.

Yes LED are more costly initially the cost should come down once more people start buying them. However, over the long term, LED blubs are much more cost effective.

As we say, we are usally well ahead of the curve on health news and its impact on you, as well as often copied but never duplicated.
Want Energy Efficient, Mercury-Free LED Light Bulbs for Your Home?
Recent Technology Lights the Way to a Greener Future

Dear EarthTalk: What's the story with LED light bulbs that are reputed to be even more energy-efficient than compact fluorescents?--

Perhaps the ultimate "alternative to the alternative," the LED (light-emitting diode) light bulb may well dethrone the compact fluorescent (CFL) as king of the green lighting choices. But it has a way to go yet in terms of both affordability and brightness.

LEDs have been used widely for decades in other applications -- forming the numbers on digital clocks, lighting up watches and cell phones and, when used in clusters, illuminating traffic lights and forming the images on large outdoor television screens. Until recently LED lighting has been impractical to use for most other everyday applications because it is built around costly semiconductor technology. But the price of semiconductor materials has dropped in recent years, opening the door for some exciting changes in energy-efficient, green friendly lighting options.

According to, LED bulbs are lit solely by the movement of electrons. Unlike incandescents, they have no filament that will burn out; and unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury or other toxic substances. Proponents say LEDs can last some 60 times longer than incandescents and 10 times longer than CFLs. And unlike incandescents, which generate a lot of waste heat, LEDs don't get especially hot and use a much higher percentage of electricity for directly generating light.

But as with early CFLs, LED bulbs are not known for their brightness. According to a January 2008 article in Science Daily, "Because of their structure and material, much of the light in standard LEDs becomes trapped, reducing the brightness of the light and making them unsuitable as the main lighting source in the home." LED makers get around this problem in some applications by clustering many small LED bulbs together in a single casing to concentrate the light emitted. But such LED "bulbs" still don't generate light much brighter than a 35-watt incandescent.

If LEDs are going to replace incandescents and CFLs, manufacturers will have to make them brighter. EarthLED is lighting the way with its EvoLux and ZetaLux bulbs, which use multiple LEDs in a single casing to generate light. The EvoLux delivers light equal to that of a 100-watt incandescent, the company says. But the $80/bulb price tag may be tough to swallow. The ZetaLux, which retails for $49.99, delivers light equivalent to a 50- or 60-watt incandescent, will last 50,000 hours and costs only $2/yearly to run.

Other bulb makers are working on similar designs for high-powered LED bulbs, hoping that an increase in availability will help spur demand, which will in turn lower prices across the board. Until then, consumers can find LED bulbs suitable for secondary and mood lighting purposes in many hardware and big box stores. C. Crane's 1.3-watt LED bulb, for example, generates as much light as a 15-watt incandescent bulb. Check your local hardware store for other options, as well as online vendors such as Best Home LED Lighting, Bulbster, and We Love LEDs.

The real value of wellness programs

For many years in the Puget Sound area I taught "wellness" programs for several large corporations. I also developed and taught a special series focused for Seniors Citizens that was sponsored by an insurance company that offered Medicare Supplement insurance. These classes were in addition to the ones I offered through local groups and community colleges.

The focus of my programs was grounded in natural health.

While different than gym memberships and weight loss programs, the classes I presented provided education that helped people understand more about health and why basic wellness approaches are preventive and beneficial overall.

Sadly I fail to see where this philosophy is being promoted and offered as options in health insurance proposals and especially political campaigns.

If you'd like to bring one of our programs to your business or community group, just send your request.
U.S. employers offer and value wellness programs
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than half of large U.S. employers offer wellness programs like gym memberships and weight loss assistance to their workers, and say these help reduce medical costs, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

The MetLife survey found that 70 percent of employers who offer wellness programs saw them as a "very important tool for employee retention."

The 2007 survey of 1,380 full-time employees and 1,652 managers at companies with a minimum of two employees represents a mix of industries and geographic regions, MetLife said.

It found that 57 percent of employers with 500 or more workers provide some sort of wellness program such as smoking cessation, weight management, an exercise plan or cancer screening.

Only 16 percent of smaller employers do, the survey found.

And about four out of five employers with wellness programs add incentives, with 40 percent offering gym memberships, 36 percent awarding gifts or prizes and 27 of employers offering a discounted employee contribution to medical plans.

Only nine percent of employers impose financial penalties on employees who do not meet wellness guidelines, a percentage that has remained steady for two years, the survey found.

"Health insurance is expensive, but employees surveyed for the MetLife study indicated that medical coverage is the second most important factor affecting their loyalty to their employer after salary/wages," said Dr. Ronald Leopold, a vice president at MetLife Institutional Business.

"Since medical coverage has essentially become 'table stakes' for competitive employers, a way to keep health insurance viable and offset future spending for chronic medical conditions can be to invest in targeted wellness and prevention programs," he added in a statement.

Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen)
Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited.

Beware, genetically engineered and newer biological drugs

There is a rather well publicized issue surrounding multiple myeloma and the possibility of symptomatic treatment from a drug in this class that is approved for MS and Crohn's Disease. One of the serious side effects of the drug is that it can cause multiple myeloma and a very severe bacterial invasion of brain tissue that can be fatal. The drug is listed on the FDA's drug advisory information pages. These are reasons why the drug is so tightly controlled. Another may be that the effects of the drug really isn't known because no long term studies are completed before FDA approval and marketing.

Humira and other arthritis drugs have been worrisome for years, the risk of cancer has been raised, yet they are still plentifully prescribed.

Some forms of arthritis are well known to be associated with food allergy but this concept is absent or fleeting over (knee-jerk) consideration for promoting the drug.

Some cases of Chrohn's may be helped with more nutritional and natural approaches to revitlize the gut lining and function. Now this is a novel idea in MSM but its one I've seen work time and time again.

MS and multiply myeloma can be helped with more natural approaches too.

There just needs to be a better approach to health care.
Safety a problem for new generation drugs, tooBy LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer
He said the results simply show that doctors and patients should be aware that the drugs have many potential side effects that may not be listed on the label.

CHICAGO – Nearly a fourth of widely used new-generation biological drugs for several common diseases produce serious side effects that lead to safety warnings soon after they go on the market, the first major study of its kind found.

Included in the report released Tuesday were the arthritis drugs Humira and Remicade, cancer drugs Rituxan and Erbitux, and the heart failure drug Natrecor. All wound up being flagged for safety.

That might surprise some doctors who may have thought that these new treatments might be safer than traditional chemical-based medicines.

Researchers found that most of the warnings came within five years after these biologicals won government approval in the United States and Europe between 1995 and 2007.

Many traditional medicines wind up with safety warnings too after they go on the market. But experts said there were no similar studies of older medicines that made it possible to compare safety issues between the two groups of drugs.

The new study, by Dutch researchers, is the first comprehensive examination of these newer medicines, a driving part of the biotech revolution.

The drugs are known as biologicals because they're made from living material and they typically affect the body's disease-fighting immune system. Many relieve severe symptoms by suppressing that system.
It's that same mechanism that can result in side effects often not seen with traditional chemical-based medicines, said Dr. Charles Bennett, a Northwestern University drug safety expert. These can include brain and fungal infections and cancer.

Many are genetically engineered and Bennett said that because they typically resemble naturally occurring proteins, many doctors have assumed they were safer than traditional chemical-based medicines. But he said the study shows that's not necessarily true.

"They have an important role," Bennett said. "They're really the next generation of pharmaceuticals."

He said the results simply show that doctors and patients should be aware that the drugs have many potential side effects that may not be listed on the label.

Among the drugs under examination are Genentech Inc.'s psoriasis drug Raptiva, which just last week the Food and Drug Administration warned may contribute to a life-threatening brain illness and infections; and Exubera, an inhaled insulin product, linked with lung cancer risks. Exubera was approved by the FDA in 2006 but Pfizer Inc. stopped selling it last year.

The study appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

It involved 136 biologics approved in the United States and 105 in the European Union between January 1995 and June 2007. A total of 41, or nearly 24 percent, got safety warnings issued through June 2008.

The results are a concern, and they underscore the need for closer scrutiny of drugs after their approval, said lead author Thijs Giezen of the University of Utrecht.

But he said the study also is reassuring because most problems showed up relatively soon after the drugs became available, which minimized the potential for widespread harm.

"If most issues are discovered within the first few years, then the system is working," Giezen said.

Bennett says it's unreasonable to think that the studied drugs' safety issues should have been discovered before they were marketed. That's because drug approval is based on relatively small studies with patients who generally are healthier than those in the general population. It often takes real-world experience for side effects to appear, he said.

Many biological drugs have advantages over conventional medicine, but the study shows their risks need to also be considered, said Thomas Moore of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

For example, non-steroid arthritis medicines including ibuprofen can reduce pain by decreasing inflammation, but they can cause stomach bleeding.

Biologic rheumatoid arthritis medicines Remicade, Enbrel and Humira are designed to ease painful joints by keeping the body's immune system from attacking itself, the underlying problem in the disease. But they are much more expensive and have been linked with higher risks for potentially fatal infections. Also, the FDA is investigating possible cancer risks.

"My message to patients is that these biological products often can treat very difficult to treat diseases but may have very substantial risks and that you need to take extra care to educate yourself as to what those risks might be," Moore said.

And in another report on this timely topic -
Reports of serious drug reactions hit recordBy RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The number of serious drug reactions and deaths reported to the government shot up in the first three months of this year to set a new record, a health industry watchdog group said Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration received nearly 21,000 reports of serious drug reactions, including more than 4,800 deaths, said an analysis of federal data by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

Two drugs accounted for a large share of the latest reports. One was the blood thinner heparin. Most of the drug's problems were prompted by tainted heparin imported from China. The other was Chantix, a new kind of anti-smoking drug from Pfizer.

Chantix, which had the most reports of any medication, works directly in a smoker's brain to ease withdrawal symptoms. It also blocks the pleasurable effects of nicotine if the patient is tempted to light up again. Earlier this year, the FDA warned that Chantix may be linked to psychiatric problems, including suicidal behavior and vivid dreams. Pfizer said Wednesday it stands by Chantix, and that the volume of reports might be linked to publicity about the side effects.

"The FDA is aware of the increasing number of reports, and we take them seriously," said spokesman Christopher DiFrancesco. But officials are not sure whether reports are up because problems are getting worse, or simply due to greater awareness about drug safety issues.

The watchdog group that prepared the analysis has served hospitals and pharmacists for years as a clearinghouse for information on medication errors. Known as ISMP, the organization is now trying to reach consumers with regular reports on drug safety trends.

"We believe that one of the most important tools to promote is to monitor trends on a regular basis," said Thomas J. Moore, a senior scientist with ISMP. "Knowing which drugs are causing injuries and how many people are being hurt is the raw material we need to fashion sound measures to promote patient safety."

The FDA defines serious drug reactions as ones that cause hospitalization, require medical intervention, or place a life in jeopardy. The agency's monitoring system relies on voluntary reports from doctors and is only believed to capture a fraction of overall problems.

The 20,745 cases reported from January through March was 38 percent higher than the average for the previous four calendar quarters, and the highest for any quarter, the report said.

The number of deaths, 4,824, was a nearly threefold increase from the last calendar quarter of 2007. The FDA said heparin was largely to blame.

Previous ISMP research has shown that reports of serious drug safety problems had increased markedly since the late 1990s.

The FDA case reports provide a signal of possible problems with a drug, but a cause-and-effect connection can only be established through painstaking investigation. If the FDA were a police agency, the reports would indicate "probable cause," but not necessarily "guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

The ISMP study found that heparin accounted for 779 reports of serious problems, including 102 deaths. The FDA, using data that covers a longer time period, has reported 238 deaths possibly linked to heparin.

Heparin "illustrates an example of a significant drug safety problem that was promptly and effectively resolved by the drug manufacturers and the FDA once the issue was detected and understood," the report said.

Not so with Chantix, it concluded.

The FDA should forcefully warn patients taking Chantix that they may have blackouts that could lead to accidents, the report said. Current warnings say patients may be too impaired to drive or operate heavy machinery, but such language is standard for many medications. The government has banned the drug for pilots.

The report found 15 cases of Chantix patients who appeared to have been involved in traffic accidents, and 52 additional cases involving blackouts or loss of consciousness. The FDA said it taking a second look at the Chantix warnings.

The agency received 1,001 reports of serious injuries linked to Chantix, more than for the 10 best-selling brand name drugs combined.

Chantix "continued to provide a striking signal of safety issues that require investigation and action," the report said. The authors acknowledged Pfizer's concern that publicity may be driving up the number of reports, but concluded there's enough evidence to warrant stronger FDA action.

Pfizer said the total sum of its Chantix data, including results from clinical trials, show the drug's benefits clearly outweigh its risks.

"We stand by the efficacy and safety profile of Chantix," the company said in a statement. "There are few things that provide greater health benefits than quitting smoking. Pfizer is committed to reducing the prevalence of smoking globally. As part of that mission, we want to increase peoples' understanding of the dangers of smoking and the benefits of quitting."

But then again we've mentioned Chantix in several other posts herein.
And if you've queries regarding more natural ways to approach stopping smoking, contact us.

Its the Potassium

Have you eaten your kale today?

I haven't yet but I'll be having a pear-kale-kiwi-lime smoothie later in my day with a scoop of Leaflady's Great Green Powder Blend added in (order from us, it is organic too!).

Potassium is one of the key nutrients for heart health, although it needs to be in balance with other vitamins and minerals.

Vegetables are the real powerhouse for minerals and vitamins along with protein when it comes to boosting your intake of these health promoting nutrients.

Fruit is good but more in moderation because of the sugar content, especially bananas. Fruit is great for fiber and it promotes cleansing. Its also best to keep from mixing fruit with vegetables, especially as found in a lot of green powder products.

Another one of my favorite things is kale salad with avocado, nori seaweed, raisins, lime juice and hemp seed oil.
Greens, greens, they're good for your heart: study
by Karin Zeitvogel

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Diets worldwide that are rich in fried and salty foods increase heart attack risk, while eating lots of fruit, leafy greens and other vegetables reduces that risk, a groundbreaking study showed.

The study, called INTERHEART, looked at 16,000 heart attack patients and controls between 1999 and 2003 in countries on every continent, marking a shift from previous studies which have focussed on the developed world.

The patients and controls filled in a "dietary risk score" questionnaire based on 19 food groups, which contained healthy and unhealthy items and were tweaked to include dietary preferences of each country taking part in the study.

The researchers found that people who eat a diet high in fried foods, salty snacks, eggs and meat -- the "Western Diet" -- had a 35 percent greater risk of having a heart attack than people who consumed little or no fried foods or meat, regardless of where they live.

People who ate a "Prudent Diet" -- high in leafy green vegetables, other raw and cooked vegetables, and fruits -- had a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who ate little or no fruit and veg, the study showed.

The third dietary pattern, called the "Oriental Diet" because it contained foods such as tofu and soy sauce which are typically consumed in Asian societies, was found to have little impact on heart attack risk.

Although some items in the Oriental diet might have protective properties such as vitamins and anti-oxidants, others such as soy sauce have a high salt content which would negate the benefits, the study said.

The study was groundbreaking in its scope and because previous research had focussed mainly on developed countries, according to Salim Yusuf, a senior author of the study.

"We had focussed research on the West because heart disease was mainly predominant in western countries 25-30 years ago," Yusuf, who is a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada, told AFP.

"But heart disease is now increasingly striking people in developing countries. Eighty percent of heart disease today is in low- to middle-income countries" partly because more people around the world are eating western diets, he said.

"This study indicates that the same relationships that are observed in western countries exist in different regions of the world," said Yusuf, who is also head of the Population Health Research Institute at Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario.

Patients who had been admitted to coronary care units in 262 centers around the world, and at least one control subject per patient, took part in the study.

The INTERHEART results were published Monday in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

The main countries in the study were Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia in South America; Canada and the United States in North America; Sweden in western Europe; Croatia, Poland and Russia for eastern Europe; and Dubai, Egypt, Iran, Kuwait and Qatar for the Middle East.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the main countries were Cameroon, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe; while nearly all the South Asian countries -- India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka -- took part, as did Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines and Singapore, Yusuf told AFP.

Copyright © 2008 Agence France Presse

Food Allergy on the Rise

The increase in food allergy is good to make note of because of several factors.

One of course is the ever increasing level of environmental toxicity in air, water and food.

Food coloring, additives and flavorings also are known to contribute to this health concern. Over processed foods (including cereals and dairy) and the increased use of highly allergenic or GMO soy in formula, pesticide use and other GMO foods must be considered.

One issue that for the most part that is overlooked is the effect of the myriad of vaccines forced on children from birth to the teen years, on GI problems and allergy.

Over and over again I am amazed at just how the gut issues in infants and small children become more prevalent, how troubling acid antagonist drugs are thrown at them (leading to many more serious problems over time), and how the use of simple remedies like real food, enzymes and probiotics are ignored.

Even children's prescription drugs include many colorings, flavorings and artificial sweeteners - all known to impact developing gastrointestinal and immune systems.

I wonder when common sense will return to health care and mainstream medicine.
Food allergies increasing in US kids, study says By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

ATLANTA – Food allergies in American children seem to be on the rise, now affecting about 3 million kids, according to the first federal study of the problem.

But experts said that might be because parents are more aware and quicker to have their kids checked out by a doctor.

About 1 in 26 children had food allergies last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday. That's up from 1 in 29 kids in 1997.

The 18 percent increase is significant enough to be considered more than a statistical blip, said Amy Branum of the CDC, the study's lead author.

Nobody knows for sure what's driving the increase. A doubling in peanut allergies — noted in earlier studies — is one factor, some experts said. Also, children seems to be taking longer to outgrow milk and egg allergies than they did in decades past.

But also figuring into the equation are parents and doctors who are more likely to consider food as the trigger for symptoms like vomiting, skin rashes and breathing problems.

"A couple of decades ago, it was not uncommon to have kids sick all the time and we just said 'They have a weak stomach' or 'They're sickly,'" said Anne Munoz-Furlong, chief executive of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a Virginia-based advocacy organization.

Parents today are quicker to take their kids to specialists to check out the possibility of food allergies, said Munoz-Furlong, who founded the nonprofit in 1991.

The CDC results came from an in-person, door-to-door survey in 2007 of the households of 9,500 U.S. children under age 18.

When asked if a child in the house had any kind of food allergy in the previous 12 months, about 4 percent said yes. The parents were not asked if a doctor had made the diagnosis, and no medical records were checked. Some parents may not know the difference between immune system-based food allergies and digestive disorders like lactose intolerance, so it's possible the study's findings are a bit off, Branum said.

However, the study's results mirror older national estimates that were extrapolated from smaller, more intensive studies, said Dr. Hugh Sampson, a food allergy researcher at the Mount Sinai School of medicine.

"This tells us those earlier extrapolations were fairly close," Sampson said.

The CDC study did not give a breakdown of which foods were to blame for the allergies. Other research suggests that about 1 in 40 Americans will have a milk allergy at some point in their lives, and 1 in 50 percent will be allergic to eggs. Most people outgrow these allergies in childhood.

About 1 in 50 are allergic to shellfish and nearly 1 in 100 react to peanuts, allergies that generally persist for a lifetime, according to Sampson.

Some people have more than one food allergy, he said, explaining why the overall food allergy prevalence is about 4 percent.

Children with food allergies also were more likely to have asthma, eczema and respiratory problems than kids without food allergies, the CDC study found, confirming previous research.

The study also found that the number of children hospitalized for food allergies was up. The number of hospital discharges jumped from about 2,600 a year in the late 1990s to more than 9,500 annually in recent years, the CDC results showed.

Also, Hispanic children had lower rates of food allergies than white or black children — the first such racial/ethnic breakdown in a national study.

The reason for that last finding may not be genetics, said Munoz-Furlong. She is Hispanic and said people in her own family have been unwilling to consider food allergies as the reason for children's illnesses. "It's a question of awareness," she said.

Natural Care: Very Scientific

I found this article on SciAm.

While I am not surprised with the suggestions, and I think the reply is - in general - good, my surprise is with the reply from two readers.
is this a joke? Acupressure is a cure for headaches? Meridians? I didn't realize I was reading Pseudoscientific American. from bergonom

I must agree with bergonom. It is hard enough battling woo-woo and Pseudoscience without this sort of "friendly fire". "channels of energy known as meridians" - Very disappointing coming from Scientific American! from francoskeptic
Obviously these two comments are from people with very closed minds, something totally antithetical to good science. Had they done any research they would have found much information supporting the reply. I'd also suggest inclusion of health care resources to me a trusted chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist or clinical herbalist, aromatherapist, nutritionist or homeopath.

Even I have arguments with Scientific American because I think they often are much too mainstream and don't want to venture into areas related to more natural approaches to health. However, I do try to keep a very open mind.

Response to the original query in regard to avoiding Tylenol, Advil and other medicines whose side effects can be as bad as or worse than the pain...
Many of us may be too dependent on over-the-counter painkillers to treat the occasional headache, especially given the side effects of such drugs. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can increase the risk of heart and circulation problems—including heart attack and stroke—and is also tough on the digestive tract. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) has been linked to nausea, diarrhea, and kidney and liver problems. Many natural health care practitioners disparage drugs for merely masking the symptoms of larger problems.

All headaches are not the same and gobbling down pain pills will not address the causes, whatever they may be. Some headaches are caused by tension; others stem from sinus congestion, caffeine withdrawal, constipation, food allergies, spinal misalignment or lack of sleep. And then there are migraines, which researchers think are neurological in nature: The brain fails to constrict the nerve pathways that open the arteries to the brain, resulting in a pounding headache as blood flows in unchecked. Assessing what kind of headache you may have can help lead the way to a solution beyond deadening the pain with a pill.

To make tension headaches go away, the Farmers’ Almanac recommends applying an ice pack to the neck and upper back, or, even better, getting someone to massage those areas. Also, soaking the feet in hot water can divert blood from your head to your feet, easing any kind of headache pain in the process.

Another all-natural headache cure is acupressure (like acupuncture, but without the needles), which promotes healing throughout the body by stimulating channels of energy known as meridians. Victoria Abreo, alternative medicine editor for the website BellaOnline, says that anyone suffering from a tension headache can employ a simple acupressure technique to help relieve the pain: “With one hand, press the shallow indention in the back of the head at the base of the skull. Simultaneously, with the thumb and forefinger of the other hand, press firmly into the upper hollows of the eye sockets, right where they straddle the bridge of the nose and meet the ‘t’ of the eyebrow bridge.” She says to press softy at first, and then more firmly, holding for three to five minutes.

As for migraines, avoiding certain trigger foods might be key to staving them off. Abreo says migraine sufferers should try steering clear of dairy products, processed meat, red wine, caffeine and chocolate. New research has shown that some people with specific dietary deficiencies are more prone to migraines.

According to Dr. Linda White, who writes about natural health for Mother Earth News, some recent clinical trials have shown three nutritional supplements—magnesium, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10—to be particularly effective at reducing the frequency and severity of migraines. Also, a number of herbs—including feverfew, butterbur, lavender, gingko biloba, rosemary and chamomile—have proven track records in preventing or stopping migraines. Since herbs can be potent and are not regulated or tested, headache sufferers should consult a trusted doctor or naturopath before using alternative remedies.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Milk Thistle

Outside of this BLOG I write a regular column that appears in several print media venues and sometimes seems to end up on the net.

I notice in review of my web site stats that often people are looking for information about liver health and gall bladder health.

While the two are very closely related, they also have different functions and sometimes what is good for one may or may not be good for the other.

This month my article was about milk thistle. To my surprise, as I was perusing articles on the Rense website, I cam across a headline that interested me.

I clicked on the link only to find the article I had just written for the specific print publication at the other end of the link.

Of course I was surprised. I also wonder who it might be in Latah County, Idaho that listens to or reads Rense.

If you aren't familiar with Idaho or Latah County, you might want to ask me off line. I lived there for a while and I have to say that life in a "Red state"is certainly more like being in a third world country. It is isolated, closed-minded, and so strange to any one who has lived elsewhere that I dubbed it "The Idaho Way". Happily there are a few folks who do understand what I mean.

Anyway, politics aside, if you'd like to read the article, Milk Thistle - A Great Friend For Your Liver, please see it here.

If it disappears and you'd like to read it, we'll be adding it to the articles on in the future.

I was also surprised when I received a complement from someone who writes on similar topics for another web site that has had a history of using my work for resources without giving proper credit.

He appreciated the information and told me he learned new information. I was happy he learned something, but as a health care colleague's wife often says, "Gayle forgets more than most people will ever know."

Over fifty years of a love for natural healing might give me a slight edge.

Using your mind to heal

The release of this recent repeat of older studies is very worthwhile to see reported in mainstream media.

Years ago when I worked in neuro-icu from time to time and subsequently throughout my career as a health professional I have always maintained that neurons can be regenerated. It is the basis for the effectiveness of the therapy for stroke victims to regain use of effected limbs in association with restraining the unaffected limb for short period twice daily ( you are hearing me cringe when I think of all the after effects of CVAs and head injury that are preventable with proper care).

The mind is indeed a powerful tool in healing. Many of us on the avant garde edge of health care have always believed this and integrated the teachings into our care for patients and clients. There is no reason why specific healing techniques cannot be taught to patients to encourage them to rely more on the body's inherent ability to heal. It is also an effective tool that already has been shown to assist the injured with sexual issues.

Many more applications are there, waiting for the door to open.

Perhaps this report will encourage others still relying on Newtonian thinking to burst out of the chains.
Mind power moves paralysed limbs By Michelle Roberts, Health reporter, BBC News

Scientists have shown it is possible to harness brain signals and redirect them to make paralysed limbs move.

The technology bypasses injuries that stop nerve signals travelling from the brain to the muscles, offering hope for people with spinal damage.

So far the US team from the University of Washington have only tested their "brain-machine interfaces" in monkeys.

The hope is to develop implantable circuits for humans without the need for robotic limbs, Nature reports.

Wired up

Spinal cord injuries impair the nerve pathways between the brain and the limbs but spare both the limb muscles and the part of the brain that controls movement - the motor cortex.

Similar techniques could be applied to stimulate the lower limb muscles during walking
Lead researcher Dr Chet Moritz

Recent studies have shown that quadriplegic patients - people who have paralysis in all four limbs - can consciously control the activity of nerve cells or neurons in the motor cortex that command hand movements, even after several years of paralysis.

Using a gadget called a brain-machine interface, Dr Chet Moritz and colleagues re-routed motor cortex control signals from the brains of temporarily paralysed monkeys directly to their arm muscles.

The gadget, which is the size of a mobile phone, interprets the brain signals and converts them into electrical impulses that can then stimulate muscle to contract.

By wiring up artificial pathways for the signals to pass down, muscles that lacked natural stimulation after paralysis with a local anaesthetic regained a flow of electrical signals from the brain.


The monkeys were then able to tense the muscles in the paralysed arm, a first step towards producing more complicated goal-directed movements, such as grasping a cup or pushing buttons, say the researchers.

Lead researcher Dr Chet Moritz said: "This could be scaled to include more muscles or stimulate sites in the spinal cord that could activate muscles in a coordinated action.

"Similar techniques could be applied to stimulate the lower limb muscles during walking."

The scientists found the monkeys could learn to use virtually any motor cortex nerve cell to control muscle stimulation - it did not have to be one that would normally controlled arm movement. And their control over the muscles improved with practice.

The researchers say they need to do trials in humans, meaning a treatment could be decades away.

Dr Mark Bacon, head of research at the UK charity Spinal Research, said: "This is clearly a step in the right direction and proves the principle that artificially transducing the will to move generated in the brain with relevant motor activity can be achieved.

"However, these results have been produced in experimental models where there is no injury per se."

He said injury-induced changes to the nerve circuits might hinder the technology's application in real life.

Also, brain-machine interfaces communicate in only one direction - in this case from the brain to the muscle.

"Sensory feedback, so important for fine control of movements and dexterity, is still some way away," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/10/15 17:02:32 GMT © BBC MMVIII

Pfizer hedging its bets? UPDATE

Today Pfizer agrees to pay out $894 million to settle lawsuits over Celebrex and Bextra. Other NSAIDS still show a link to heart disease but this is one of the most readily preventable health conditions we know of and other posts on this blog give you some of that data. For pain and inflammation there are many excellent natural remedies as well as one of the natural products I use from time to time that has been tested at Dana Farber.
$894 million deal ends pain of Pfizer's lawsuitsBy Linda A. Johnson, Ap Business Writer
17 October, 2008
TRENTON, N.J. – Drug giant Pfizer Inc. has reached an $894 million deal to end most of the lawsuits over its two prescription pain relievers, the popular Celebrex and a similar drug, Bextra, no longer on the market.

The world's biggest drugmaker said Friday it has agreements in principle to end more than 90 percent of personal injury lawsuits brought by people claiming the pills caused heart attacks, strokes or other harm.

The settlement includes roughly 7,000 personal injury cases, mainly plaintiffs who took since-withdrawn Bextra, said plaintiff attorney Perry Weitz. He represents nearly 2,000 claimants, about 10 percent of them relatives of people who died.

"It gives Pfizer closure and the claimants their money sooner, rather than later or never at all," Weitz said.

Pfizer hopes to finalize claims covered by the settlement, which now includes up to 92 percent of plaintiffs, by year's end. It also hopes to include many of the remaining claimants in the settlement and will fight any remaining personal injury suits with court motions or at trial, General Counsel Amy Schulman told The Associated Press.

"I don't think either side has an interest in protracting this," Schulman said in an interview.

Weitz said plaintiff lawyers will "have issues" with Pfizer "if their claimants aren't paid before the end of the year."

In early trading, Pfizer shares were down 47 cents, or 2.8 percent, at $16.50.

Schulman said the deal comes after two important court rulings — one by a New York state judge overseeing many of the state-level personal injury cases and the other by a federal judge in San Francisco coordinating pretrial steps in federal lawsuits over the drugs.

"We teed up some pretrial motions for a court ruling on whether there was significantly reliable evidence that would allow an expert to testify as to whether there was an increased risk of heart attack and stroke at the most common dose," 200 milligrams, Schulman said. Both judges ruled that was not the case, she said.

The proposed deal also would end suits by insurers and patients seeking to recover what they spent on Bextra and Celebrex, as well as claims by 33 states and the District of Columbia that Pfizer improperly promoted Bextra.

Out of the total settlement, $745 million will go to settle personal injury cases, $60 million will cover settlements with attorneys general in the 33 states and the District of Columbia, and $89 million will cover consumer fraud class action cases over reimbursement for money spent on the two drugs. Two additional states, Louisiana and Mississippi, still have pending cases regarding Pfizer's promotion of the drugs.

New York-based Pfizer withdrew Bextra from the market in 2005, a year after Merck & Co. withdrew its Vioxx, a similar drug.

The Vioxx withdrawal, which triggered an avalanche of lawsuits against Merck, also raised concerns about the safety of other medicines in the same class, called Cox-2 inhibitors. They were heavily touted by their makers as superior to traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, because they block an enzyme involved in promoting inflammation but — unlike NSAIDs — don't block an enzyme that protects the stomach from bleeding and other side effects.

Other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, have also been linked to increased heart risks.

Celebrex is the only Cox-2 inhibitor that the Food and Drug Administration has allowed to remain on the U.S. market.

Attorney Christopher Seeger, a member of the plaintiffs steering committee, said he'll "have no problem recommending" the settlement to the roughly 400 clients he represents.

"We're very satisfied with the deal," Seeger said.

Schulman said the company's negotiations with opposing lawyers had been under way for some time but picked up in the late summer.

"Litigation can be distracting, and putting these matters behind us helps our shareholders and, most importantly, patients and doctors," Schulman said.

Weitz noted that it took four or five years to get through trials for less than 20 cases in the massive Vioxx litigation, because the court system can only handle a limited number of cases at a time.

Pfizer will take a pretax charge of $894 million to its third-quarter earnings, which it is scheduled to report on Tuesday.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., has begun paying a $4.85 billion settlement to end about 50,000 lawsuits brought by people claiming Vioxx cause heart attacks, ischemic strokes or death. It still faces other litigation over the former blockbuster arthritis treatment.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press.

Pfizer to Drop Development of Certain Drugs
by Shelley Wood, Heartwire 2008. © 2008 Medscape

October 3, 2008 (New York, NY) — Pfizer is getting out of the cholesterol-lowering game to focus on what it perceives to be more lucrative diseases, according to an internal memo obtained by Forbes [1]. And for the most part, the chosen "disease areas" don't include the heart.

In the memo, Martin Mackay, president of Pfizer Global Research & Development (R&D), informed his staff that the company plans to "exit" the fields of atherosclerosis/hyperlipidemia, heart failure, obesity, and peripheral arterial disease.

Instead, the company, whose cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (Lipitor) is the world's top-selling drug, says it is turning its attention and R&D dollars to cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, pain remedies, and mental health as its "higher-priority areas."

The news comes in the wake of the flop of Pfizer's hoped-for new flagship, torcetrapib, a CETP inhibitor that was widely predicted to be the company's next blockbuster drug. While CV drugs have been the major moneymakers for Pfizer in recent years, those days are drawing to a close. In addition to Lipitor, which will lose patent protection in 2011, Pfizer's other major player in the CV drug arena is Norvasc (amlodipine), which came off patent in 2007.

Among the lower-priority "disease areas" where the company says it will continue working are thrombosis and transplant, the memo notes.

Contacted by heartwire, a handful of leaders for some of the major Pfizer-sponsored trials in cardiovascular disease over the past decade declined to comment on the company's announcement or speculate on what it might mean to the field of CV drug development--with one exception. Dr John Kastelein (Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands), who was an investigator in the Pfizer-sponsored ASAP, TNT, and IDEAL trials, called Pfizer "a real powerhouse" in the CV drug arena.

"I kind of knew this was coming, but when you see it in print, it still hits hard," he told heartwire. "I think this is very, very significant both for the company itself and for the whole field of CV drug development. Pfizer had truly excellent people in the development arm of their company for CV and metabolic drugs, and they've contributed to this whole notion that you need more robust LDL lowering and that that's better than mild LDL lowering, which has become one of the axioms of CV prevention. And if they're stepping out now, that not only signifies their own problems, but it also signifies the problems in CV drug development, and how incredibly difficult and costly it has become to bring new drugs forward. And that's not good for patients."

Kastelein predicts that drug companies, having "lost faith" somewhat in HDL-raising therapies, will need to look more closely at anti-inflammatory drugs in the setting of coronary artery disease. "But there, the problem is, if you have no biomarkers whatsoever to do even dose-finding studies, you need to move from relatively small phase 2 trials to incredibly large, hard-outcome studies, which is taking quite a risk," he said. And that, at least for Pfizer, is too much risk.

"Everyone, not just Pfizer, is realizing that the days of the really big blockbuster drugs are over. And what is going to replace that are drugs in a class that are 10 times or 100 times more difficult to develop, so the risks are much higher. And these days, after Avandia and ezetimibe, everything is about safety. This means the FDA is forced, by public and colleague pressure, to demand even larger databases before drugs are going to market, which is of course making it more expensive. It's a cycle that's very hard to break."

Calls to Pfizer were not returned before this story was published.

Herper M. The Pfizer memo. Forbes, September 30, 2008. Available at:

The complete contents of Heartwire, a professional news service of WebMD, can be found at, a Web site for cardiovascular healthcare professionals.

Requests for Information Regarding Sucralose

I notice that there are many people searching for information about the side effects of sucralose (Splenda). As I am in the tedious process of updating one of my web sites I just happened to locate some information I have had there for quite a few years about sucralose. There are links to more information as well. This BLOG has a number of posts on sucralose and aspartame dangers.

And from another source:
Is Splenda Really As Safe As They Claim It to Be?

As of 2006, only six human trials have been published on Splenda (sucralose). Of these six trials, only two of the trials were completed and published before the FDA approved sucralose for human consumption. The two published trials had a grand total of 36 total human subjects.

36 people sure doesn't sound like many, but wait, it gets worse, only 23 total were actually given sucralose for testing and here is the real killer: The longest trial at this time had lasted only four days and looked at sucralose in relation to tooth decay, not human tolerance.

Rash Report, not just CFL bulbs or Splenda: It is your cell phone

The issue of rash being caused by sell phone use is not a new report. This type of reaction has been known for many years but this new study shows - once again - that what you don't know about using a cell phone can and will hurt you.

I first reported on this in 2002 and added the report in the ElectroSmog section on mey web site.
"Can mobile phones give you bad skin?"
Radiation from mobile phones could trigger skin allergies, according to new findings. Scientists have found evidence that microwaves from handsets can worsen allergic reactions to dust mites & pollen, by "exciting" antigens - substances which cause allergies - in the bloodstreams of susceptible people.
Dr. Hajime Kimata from Unitika Hospital, Kyoto, carried out research on 52 people with a history of eczema & dermatitis. Researchers in Sweden claimed earlier this year that mobile phones could damage key brain cells & trigger early onset Alzheimer's. 2002
Perhaps if you read, hear and see this kind of information often enough you will allow the facts to get into your sense of reality. Consider the choice offered here.
Doctors warn of rash from mobile phone use
LONDON (Reuters) - Doctors baffled by an unexplained rash on people's ears or cheeks should be on alert for a skin allergy caused by too much mobile phone use, the British Association of Dermatologists said on Thursday.

Citing published studies, the group said a red or itchy rash, known as "mobile phone dermatitis," affects people who develop an allergic reaction to the nickel surface on mobile phones after spending long periods of time on the devices.

"It is worth doctors bearing this condition in mind if they see a patient with a rash on the cheek or ear that cannot otherwise be explained," it said.

The British group said many doctors were unaware mobile phones could cause the condition.

Safety concerns over mobile phones has grown as more people rely on them for everyday communication, although the evidence to date has given the technology a clean bill of health when it comes to serious conditions like brain cancer.

"In mobile phone dermatitis, the rash would typically occur on the cheek or ear, depending on where the metal part of the phone comes into contact with the skin," the group said in a statement.

"In theory it could even occur on the fingers if you spend a lot of time texting on metal menu buttons."

Nickel is a metal found in products, ranging from mobile phones to jewelry to belt buckles and is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis, according to the Mayo Clinic in the United States.

Earlier this year Lionel Bercovitch of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and colleagues tested 22 popular handsets from eight different manufacturers and found nickel in 10 of the devices.

(Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Opheera McDoom, October 2008)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stevia OK even if FDA holds out for synthesized forms

Many years ago now stevia was blocked by the FDA to allow more room for aspartame. While stevia had been used for eons in South America and Japan as a sweetener is seems as if it wasn't welcome here in the US.

Stevia is safe for people with diabetes and it is known to protected against cavities. It comes in the natural powder form (green), liquid, and extracted white powder.

The only caution I have ever heard is to be sure of the source of the extract because it can be effected by the processing, often completed with toxic substances.

Now that Big AG (Cargill) and megacorp CocaCola are involved it seems more like they want to control the market rather than serve the needs of people who want a safe sugar alternative (aspartame, acesulfame K and sucralose are not).

Other choices are Just Like Sugar and Agave. I encourage caution on large amounts of xylitol.
Is stevia a safe sweetener?
From the November 2008 Issue, SELF
Ask a Food & Diet Question
By Joy Bauer, R.D.

It's unclear. This zero-calorie sugar alternative is all natural (it's made from a South American shrub), but the FDA has not granted it "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) status. The reason? Research on stevia has raised concerns about its effect on the cardiovascular and reproductive systems. The Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C., agrees with the FDA and has called for more testing. But recent human studies indicate that stevia may lower blood pressure and benefit people with diabetes. I have a hunch that the FDA may soon approve one stevia-derived product called Truvia. It is made with rebiana, a purified component of stevia, and is produced by two mega foodmakers, Cargill and The Coca-Cola Company. If Truvia is deemed GRAS, and you like the flavor (some say stevia tastes like licorice), consider using it, but when it comes to stevia in other forms (it's sold as a supplement in health food stores), your best bet is to wait for the green light from the FDA.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bone Health is not Helped with Soap or Fluoride

Today's news reported that Nancy Reagan was hospitalized and treated for a fractured pelvis. The report mentions this is the second time she has fallen and suffered related events.

The news photo shows her to be in what I would describe as frail appearing.

In comparison, I think of Jack and Elaine LaLanne and how vital both look at 90+ and 80+.

I'm not sure about Nancy but I do know that Ron had a habit for a particular cola type diet soda which probably contributed to his Alzheimer's condition. Soda, especially colas do have the potential to lead to osteoporosis. Many commonly prescribed medications also are known to lead to bone health issues as does fluoride.

Later today, in my email I received something from one of the medical lists to which I subscribe. I followed the link and low and behold what appeared was an ad for Actonel.

Osteopenia (Low Bone Mass) and Fracture Risk: A Call To Action
Currently, decisions to initiate treatment intervention for the prevention
of osteoporosis-related fractures are often based on treatment criteria from the
National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) or derived from osteoporosis diagnostic
criteria from the World Health Organization (WHO). and it continued...

Actonel is Proctor & Gamble's bisphosphonate prescription drug alleging to help you gain stronger bones.

P & G is known for a lot of unnecessary animal testing on many of their products. Actonel contains some of the same ingredients as P & G's TIDE detergent. There are a number of risks associated with Actonel.

Other drugs for osteopenia and osteoporosis are fluoride based and these are known to lead to more fractures because they make bones hard and brittle, not strong and flexible. Many of these drugs are associated with cancer of the esophagus.

Osteoporosis can effect both women and men.

I usually suggest that people consider using a high quality vitamin-mineral compound with vitamins D3 and K, as well as high absorption calcium.

To that I add select cell salts and nettle.

This is such a beneficial combination that a woman I have worked with actually proved to the doctor that her bones were strengthening without Fosamax.

This week an elderly gentleman I know started using the nettle compound. He always seems to be a little anemic and nettle is know as the herbalists iron, so it should help him in this way as well as benefiting his prostate condition.

Exercise really must be a part of the equation too. Rebounders, walking, strength training and others are good. Any exercise can be adapted to your situation, even if you are limited to bed or chair.

And don't forget good nutrition!

Pets and Poison Protection

While I do not agree with all that is written on this web site in regard to the use of essential oils ( I've sent them my comments) I do think that it is worth looking into the issues they present. After all, pet health is important and it can be effected by toxins, just like their human companions.

Green Paws

Monday, October 13, 2008

More Vitamins Please

In the long ago days of the youth of my children our pediatrician rather naturally had us offer liquid vitamin drops daily from infancy onward.

Back then it was common to find 400 to 800 IU 0f vitamin D in these drops, along with 5000 IU of vitamin A and other good things to promote health.

Of course the vaccine on-slaught was not as pervasive as today, and if you saif 'no 'you di not get a lot of hassle or a CPS referral.

Seems as if the circle has come home to those standards of yesterday.

The only problem I see is the reliance on food products that usually use the D2 form of this fat soluable vitamin rather than the effective form D3. Children of color may not adequately absorb enough through skin exposure to sunlight.

Pediatricians say double vitamin D dose

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The
American Academy of Pediatrics has doubled its recommendation for a daily dose
of vitamin D in children in the hopes of preventing rickets and reaping other
health benefits, the group said on Monday.
"We are doubling the recommended amount of vitamin D children need each day because evidence has shown this could have life-long health benefits," said Dr. Frank Greer, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which released the new guideline recommendations at a meeting in Boston.
"Supplementation is important because most children will not get enough vitamin D through diet alone," Greer said in a statement.
The new guidelines from the nation's leading group of pediatricians now call for
children to receive 400 international units of vitamin D per day, beginning in
the first few days of life.
Children who do not get enough vitamin D are at risk for rickets, a bone-softening disease that result in stunted growth and skeletal deformities if not corrected while the child is young. Babies who are exclusively breast-fed are at particular risk.
"Breast-feeding is the best source of nutrition for infants. However, because of vitamin D deficiencies in the maternal diet, which affect the vitamin D in a mother's milk, it is important that breast-fed infants receive supplements of vitamin D," Dr. Carol Wagner of the physician's group, who helped write the report, said in a
Vitamin D can prevent and treat rickets, but dietary sources of vitamin D are fairly limited. Vitamin D-fortified milk is the most common source, but fortified cereals and oily fish such as tuna, mackerel and sardines also contain vitamin D.
Rickets remains rare in United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. But there were reports in 2000 and 2001 of rickets among breast-fed infants.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but exposure to sunlight can also raise the risk of skin cancer. Air pollution, sunscreen and clothing all limit the amount of vitamin D the body can synthesize from sunlight.
The group suggests non-breast-fed infants and older children who are drinking less than one quart (liter) of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk daily should receive a vitamin D supplement.
Adequate vitamin D throughout childhood may reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life. In adults, new evidence suggests that vitamin D plays a role in the immune system and may help prevent infections, autoimmune diseases, cancer and
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Will Dunham and Xavier
Briand) Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Reducing Breast Cancer, Naturally

NSAIDS have risks as mentioned by Dr. Sarah Rawlings who participated in this study.

Aspirin has its own set of side effects that can lead to silent bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract or other locations in the body. Eventually this can impact the integrity of the cell wall membrane. Aspirin also can raise the risk of allergy in some people and it can cause poisoning along with damage to the eighth cranial nerve that relates to your ability to hear.

Ibuprofen is known to cause serious kidney problems and also can effect the liver. Liver health is closely associated with hormone recycling and also interacts with your immune system to boost immunity.

Anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements may be more helpful because they are not burdened by the toxic side effect issues of pharmaceutical products. Contact us to learn of and purchase our wide variety of effective professional formulae, herbs and supplements to reduce inflammation.

A secondary warning might be heeded if you have been prescribed an anti-depressant as part of your medical treatment, for cancer or other ill-health conditions, as studies report that SSRIs in combination with NSAIDS can create a lethal combination.

An article written by an ND colleague of mine for many years concludes that "Combining SSRIs with NSAIDs, aspirin or corticosteroids is the equivalent of playing a game of gastrointestinal Russian roulette. For anyone taking SSRIs, a combination of natural pain relievers that includes DL-phenylalanine, turmeric, Boswellia serrata, and nattokinase can prove to be a safe alternative. Furthermore, using a supplement that contains glutamine, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), N-acetyl glucosamine, marshmallow, berberine, cabbage, slippery elm, phosphatidylcholine, and gamma oryzanol is an effective way to strengthen the GI tract for individuals who continue with SSRI treatment. Individuals planning to stop SSRI treatment should always discuss their plans with their physician before doing so."
Read more here-
Painkillers 'cut breast cancer'
By Emma Wilkinson, Health reporter, BBC News

Regular use of common painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen reduces the risk of breast cancer, according to an international study.

The research, which looked at information from 2.7 million women, was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Aspirin cut the risk by 13%, while ibuprofen lowered it by a fifth.

However, experts warned long-term use of painkillers can have serious side-effects.
"Anti-inflammatory drugs can have potentially very serious side-effects when taken over a long period."
Dr Sarah Rawlings, Breakthrough Breast Cancer

There have been many studies looking at the role of painkillers in breast cancer, and the latest is a review of 38 of these, combining their results to give a more reliable picture.

Both aspirin and ibuprofen are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), and it is their ability to interfere with inflammation in the human body which appears to be key.

Two body chemicals which help produce inflammation, COX1 and 2, are thought to play roles in the development of cancer by influencing how cells divide and die, the production of new blood vessels that can "feed" tumours, and influence the body's immune responses.

It appears NSAIDS inhibit these chemicals.

Women taking either aspirin or ibuprofen regularly had a 12% lower chance of developing breast cancer compared to those who did not use them at all, while regular ibuprofen use appeared to have the biggest effect.

Drug warning

Dr Mahyar Etminan, from the University of British Columbia, who led the research, said the results were "encouraging", and could help scientists trying to understand the complex origins of breast cancer.

However, he warned against women adopting painkillers as part of a cancer prevention lifestyle.

"We don't recommend the routine use of NSAIDs for breast cancer prevention until large randomised trials confirm these findings." He said results from a trial of this type would be available next year.

The regular use of painkillers is problematic because, in some people, they can cause serious side-effects, including stomach ulcers, increased risk of stroke, asthma and heart, liver and kidney problems.

The potential benefits of reducing breast cancer risk would have to be balanced against these.

This advice was echoed by Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which urged women worried about breast cancer risk to talk to their GP rather than simply take painkillers.

Head of policy Sarah Rawlings said: "The potential of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, to lower the chances of developing breast cancer is very interesting, but as the researchers say, large scale trials are needed to confirm these findings.

"Anti-inflammatory drugs can have potentially very serious side-effects when taken over a long period."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/10/08 09:09:35 GMT