Health Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Health Media Articles in Major Media
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Many drug trials involve a placebo, a sham drug whose results are compared with the results of the real medication. A placebo is supposed to contain a harmless substance, such as sugar or vegetable oil, which has no significant effect on the body. In [a new] study, researchers delved into 176 studies published in reputable medical journals ... from January 2008 to December 2009 to see if placebo contents were disclosed and if so, what they were. The study authors argue that placebo ingredients may not always be as inconsequential as some may think. They write: "For instance, olive oil and corn oil have been used as the placebo in trials of cholesterol-lowering drugs. This may lead to an understatement of drug benefit: The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids of these 'placebos,' and their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, can reduce lipid levels and heart disease." Certain placebos, they add, may skew results in favor of the active drug. The researchers referenced a trial for a drug used to treat anorexia linked with cancer in which a lactose placebo was used. Since lactose intolerance is common among cancer patients, the fact that some suffered stomach problems from the placebo may have made the actual drug look more beneficial. "Perfect placebo is not the aim," they write, "rather, we seek to ensure that its composition is disclosed."
Note: For key reports from major media sources on important issues related to health and medicine, click here.
Is the common nature of cancer worldwide purely a man-made phenomenon? That is what some researchers now suggest. Scientists have only found one case of the disease in investigations of hundreds of Egyptian mummies, researcher Rosalie David at the University of Manchester in England said in a statement. The rarity of cancer in mummies suggests it was scarce in antiquity, and "that cancer-causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization," researcher Michael Zimmerman at Villanova University in Pennsylvania said in a statement. "In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases." Zimmerman was the first to diagnose cancer in an Egyptian mummy by analyzing its tissues on a microscopic level, identifying rectal cancer in an unnamed mummy who had lived in the Dakhleh Oasis during the Ptolemaic period 1,600 to 1,800 years ago. As they analyzed ancient literature, they did not find descriptions of operations for breast and other cancers until the 17th century, and the first reports in the scientific literature of distinctive tumors have only occurred in the past 200 years, such as scrotal cancer in chimney sweepers in 1775, nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761 and Hodgkin's disease in 1832. David and Zimmerman therefore argue that cancer nowadays is largely caused by man-made environmental factors such as pollution and diet. They detailed their findings in the October issue of the journal Nature Reviews Cancer.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
As you read this story, is your cell phone in your pocket or purse, on your desk beside you, or even in your hand? On a planet of 6.8 billion people, about 5 billion use cell phones. But could radiation from those phones be harmful to your health? In her new book, Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family, Devra Davis, an environmental health scientist formerly with the National Academy of Sciences, says the answer is a resounding yes. Over the years, scientists and public health officials have explored the effects of mobile phone radiation on human health. Time and again, they've said that while more research is needed to examine potential long-term effects, fears of cell phones are mostly unfounded. But Davis, who says she was once a skeptic herself, argues that compelling evidence to the contrary exists in research institutions around the world. Disconnect resurrects decades-old studies on the topic and probes new research to build a case for why cell phone radiation is now a "national emergency." "What I'm really concerned about here and why I wrote this book is because there's a lot of really compelling experimental evidence on the effect of electromagnetic fields on cells. We are already seeing a doubled risk of brain cancer in people who have used cell phones heavily for 10 years in the few studies that have been done," [said Davis].
Note: For key reports from major media sources on important health issues, click here.
Doctors and patients are being misled about the effectiveness of some drugs because negative trial results are not published, experts have warned. Writing in the British Medical Journal, they say that pharmaceutical companies should be forced to publish all data, not just positive findings. The German team give the example of the antidepressant reboxetine, saying publications have failed to show the drug in a true light. Reboxetine (Edronax), made by Pfizer, is used in many European countries, including the UK. But its rejection by US drug regulators raised doubts about its effectiveness, and led some to hunt for missing data. This is not the first time a large drug company has come under fire about its published drug trial data. Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was criticised for failing to raise the alarm on the risk of suicidal behaviour associated with its antidepressant Seroxat. GSK has also been forced to defend itself over allegations about hiding negative data regarding another of its drugs, Avandia, which is used to treat diabetes. "Our findings underline the urgent need for mandatory publication of trial data," [the researchers] say in the BMJ. They warn that the lack of all information means policy makers are unable to make informed decisions. In the US, it is already a requirement that all data - both positive and negative - is published.
Note: For a powerful summary of government/corporate corruption in the pharmaceutical industry by a respected former editor of a major medical journal, click here.
Forbes made Monsanto the company of the year last year in "The Planet Versus Monsanto." I know because I wrote the article. Since then everything that could have gone wrong for the genetically engineered seed company has gone wrong. Super-weeds that are resistant to its RoundUp weed killer are emerging, even as weed killer sales are being hit by cheap Chinese generics. An expensive new bioengineered corn seed with eight new genes does not look impressive in its first harvest. And the Justice Department is invesigating over antitrust issues. All this has led to massive share declines. Other publications are making fun of our cover story. Monsanto is destined to remain the dominant bioengineered seed company for some time to come. But unless it comes up with a hot new product, its growth years could all be behind it.
Note: WantToKnow.info's Fred Burks was blacklisted by Monsanto, likely for reporting stories like that above. For more on this, click here.
If you want to understand the way prescription drugs are marketed today, have a look at the 1928 book, Propaganda, by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations in America. For Bernays, the public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves. When Bernays was working as a salesman for Mozart pianos, for example, he did not simply place advertisements for pianos in newspapers. That would have been too obvious. Instead, Bernays persuaded reporters to write about a new trend: Sophisticated people were putting aside a special room in the home for playing music. Once a person had a music room, Bernays believed, he would naturally think of buying a piano. As Bernays wrote, "It will come to him as his own idea." Just as Bernays sold pianos by selling the music room, pharmaceutical marketers now sell drugs by selling the diseases that they treat. The buzzword is "disease branding." To brand a disease is to shape its public perception in order to make it more palatable to potential patients. Once a branded disease has achieved a degree of cultural legitimacy, there is no need to convince anyone that a drug to treat it is necessary. It will come to him as his own idea. It is hard to brand a disease without the help of physicians, of course. So drug companies typically recruit academic "thought leaders" to write and speak about any new conditions they are trying to introduce.
Note: This key topic is discussed in great depth in the BBC's documentary "Century of the Self" available here. And for a top doctor's analysis that the cholesterol scare was largely manufactured for profit, click here.
Americans die sooner than citizens of a dozen other developed nations and the usual suspects -- obesity, traffic accidents and a high murder rate -- are not to blame. Instead, poor healthcare may be to blame, the team at Columbia University in New York reported. They found that 15-year survival rates for men and women aged 45 to 65 have fallen in the United States relative to the other 12 countries over the past 30 years. In June, the Commonwealth Fund, which advocates on and does research focusing on healthcare reform, reported that Americans spend twice as much on healthcare as residents of other developed countries -- $7,290 per person -- but get lower quality and less efficiency. Between 1975 and 2005, medical costs went up in all the countries, as did life expectancy. But costs went up far more in the United States and life expectancy increased to a far lower degree. "In 1950, the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized nations with respect to female life expectancy at birth, surpassed only by Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands," [the report authors] wrote. At last count, the United States was 46th in female life expectancy; 49th for both sexes.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
Nearly a million workers won't get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers. Thirty companies and organizations, including McDonald's and Jack in the Box, won't be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans, which are often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees. The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn't lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether. Without waivers, companies would have had to provide a minimum of $750,000 in coverage next year, increasing to $1.25 million in 2012, $2 million in 2013 and unlimited in 2014.
Like nearly all of the residents on this island in Penobscot Bay, Art Lindgren and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated the arrival of three giant wind turbines late last year. That was before they were turned on. “In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” Mr. Lindgren said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.” Now, the Lindgrens, along with a dozen or so neighbors living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility here, say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life in this otherwise tranquil corner of the island unbearable. They are among a ... growing number of families and homeowners across the country who say they have learned the hard way that wind power ... is not without emissions of its own. Lawsuits and complaints about turbine noise, vibrations and subsequent lost property value have [been brought] in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, among other states. “The quality of life that we came here for was quiet,” Mrs. Lindgren said. “You don’t live in a place where you have to take an hour-and-15-minute ferry ride to live next to an industrial park. And that’s where we are right now. The wind industry has long been dogged by ... complaints about turbines, [including] that they have direct physiological impacts like rapid heart beat, nausea and blurred vision caused by the ultra-low-frequency sound and vibrations from the machines.
Note: National Wind Watch is a clearinghouse for information on industrial wind energy. The Society for Wind Vigilance is an international group of physicians, engineers and other professionals who are promoting guidelines for appropriate siting of industrial wind turbines and independent third-party research to mitigate risks to public health.
Monsanto, the giant of agricultural biotechnology, has been buffeted by setbacks this year that have prompted analysts to question whether its winning streak of creating ever more expensive genetically engineered crops is coming to an end. The latest blow came last week, when early returns from this year’s harvest showed that Monsanto’s newest product, SmartStax corn, which contains eight inserted genes, was providing yields no higher than the company’s less expensive corn, which contains only three foreign genes. Monsanto has already been forced to sharply cut prices on SmartStax and on its newest soybean seeds, called Roundup Ready 2 Yield, as sales fell below projections. Sales of Monsanto’s Roundup, the widely used herbicide, has collapsed this year under an onslaught of low-priced generics made in China. Weeds are growing resistant to Roundup, dimming the future of the entire Roundup Ready crop franchise. And the Justice Department is investigating Monsanto for possible antitrust violations. Until now, Monsanto’s main challenge has come from opponents of genetically modified crops, who have slowed their adoption in Europe and some other regions. Now, however, the skeptics also include farmers and investors who were once in Monsanto’s camp.
Note: For those who are not aware of how Monsanto executives are quite consciously endangering your health, click here.
[Excerpts from transcript of video] Is there a connection between vaccines and autism? Thousands of families with autistic kids think there is. But the Centers for Disease Control has always maintained that no research supports a link. Now one famous pediatrician, who has written a book about vaccines, charges the government's studies on vaccines are woefully inadequate. Dr. Bob Sears is the author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child: [Q]: The government says they have studied vaccines and they do not cause autism. But has the government ever studied the amount of vaccines that our children get in one sitting? [Sears]: There is a CDC report that says that ... simultaneous vaccination has not been completely studied for safety and that's what we're worried about. Babies get as many as six or seven vaccines altogether ... and the CDC is admitting that they aren't always researched that way. The prime example is the flu vaccine. They've researched the flu vaccine in great detail when given alone, but the CDC has never researched it when given in conjunction with all the other shots. I think the CDC is just assuming that they are safe. But I want to know that these large combinations are safe. And what I do as a pediatrician, is I spread the vaccines out. I give no more than two vaccines at a time to any babies in my office. It takes longer to vaccinate them that way but I think it's a safer way to go.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on the risks of autism due to vaccines, click here.
The astounding revelation that U.S. medical researchers intentionally gave Guatemalans gonorrhea and syphilis more than 60 years ago is so horrifying that we want to believe that what happened then could never happen today. A report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services noted that roughly 80 percent of drug approvals in 2008 were based in part on data from outside the U.S. Susan Reverby, a distinguished historian at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, has ... long researched the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the experiment where poor, black men in rural Alabama were deliberately left untreated for syphilis by government researchers. The study, somehow, was allowed to run from 1932 to 1972. More recently, Reverby came across documents that showed that Dr. John C. Cutler, a physician who would later be one of the researchers involved in the Tuskegee study, was involved in a completely unethical research study much earlier in Guatemala. Cutler, who went to his grave defending the Tuskegee experiment, directly inoculated unknowing prisoners in Guatemala with syphilis and also encouraged them to have sex with diseased prostitutes for his research from 1946-48. His work was sponsored by lauded organizations such as the United States Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health with collaboration of the Pan American Health Sanitary Bureau (now the Pan American Health Organization), and the Guatemalan government.
Note: The author of this commentary is Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. For many other examples of government-sponsored experimentation on human guinea pigs, click here.
UC Davis just announced a seminar for the public on "men's health." That title notwithstanding, the program appears to be entirely about prostate cancer and in particular about the prostate specific antigen screening test. Many possible screening programs turn out not to do any good - and in fact some tests like PSA cause harm. That's why virtually all expert public health panels do not recommend the PSA test. A blood test that isn't accurate can fail to find disease that's present, leading to false reassurance. It can also report disease when it's not really there, leading to unnecessary use of other tests (like biopsy) that are not so benign. Perhaps most concerning, the PSA test frequently identifies something that qualifies as cancer under a microscope but acts nothing like cancer in real life. That is to say, the large majority of PSA-discovered "cancers" would never cause any problem whatsoever if they went undetected. Finding something through screening invariably leads to treating it. Most of the men so treated would have been just fine if they never knew about the cancer. But when they're treated ... the majority suffer really life-affecting effects, such as impotence and/or incontinence. That's why both of the two very large trials of PSA screening published in 2009 found no (or at most a tiny) benefit, but a great deal of harm.
Note: This article was written by Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine at UC Davis, and Jerome Hoffman, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Southern California. Both are researchers/consultants for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A federal court yesterday struck down an Ohio ban on dairy products whose labels say they're made from milk that's free of hormones that increase cows' milk production. That means companies that want to say their products are "rbGH free" and "rbST free" and "artificial hormone free" are now free to do so. The ruling challenges the FDA's 17-year-old finding that there's "no significant difference" between the milk of cows given growth hormone and those that aren't. Just that sort of distinction ... is part of the ongoing debate about how to label genetically engineered salmon. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said there is a "compositional difference" between milk from cows given growth hormones and those without. The court gave three reasons they're different: * Increased levels of the hormone IGF-1; * A period of milk with lower nutritional quality during each lactation; and * Increased somatic cell counts (i.e. more pus in the milk). But the FDA concluded in 1993 when it approved the growth hormone that the milk shows "no significant difference" in milk from untreated cows.
Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon delivered both a mea culpa and clear admission to [the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform] that his company let the public down through numerous recent drug recalls. He also admitted that the company secretly bought up defective drugs without informing regulators and consumers of its actions. The committee has been investigating circumstances that have led to more than half a dozen recalls this year of non-prescription cold and pain drugs such as Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin made by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit. Weldon's [pledge] to never let this happen again was met with some skepticism. [Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY)] said [the] testimony indicates some very serious problems in "the way Johnson & Johnson viewed its responsibility to the public and its day-to-day relationship with the FDA." There is often a thin line between "working cooperatively" and having a "cozy relationship," he said. "The documents we have seen in this case indicate this line may have been crossed early and often."
For some Americans, milk has become a test of their freedom. And they're not paranoid kooks either; the government really is out to get them, authorizing seizures of bottles and jugs of unpasteurized milk and, in one recent case, a full-on, agents-brandishing-guns raid. Currently, under federal law, it's illegal to sell consumers unpasteurized milk that has been transported across state lines. Raw milk cannot be sold at all in 10 states. In 30 states, it can be sold only by certain farms under certain conditions. And in the remaining states, retail sales are allowed but are greatly hindered by technicalities. An underground railroad has emerged to get milk from cows to consumers without any high-tech processing in between. Now comes the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act, federal legislation that would improve the FDA's ability to trace [illness] outbreaks and give the agency — which can already fine companies that knowingly sell contaminated foods — the power to order recalls. Supporters say they know the milk may contain pathogens; the most ardent say they welcome the bugs, many of which have peacefully resided in our guts for thousands of years. All agree that they should be able to drink raw milk if they want to.
Note: For many key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
The Food and Drug Administration has wrapped up three days of hearings and public comment on the effort by AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts company, to sell salmon genetically engineered to grow twice as fast as normal salmon. But the meetings ended without an FDA decision on whether the company can move ahead with sales. USA TODAY's Elizabeth Weise [answers questions about the issue]: Q: What are the issues? A: There are really two: Are these fish safe to eat, and are they safe for the environment? FDA staff, in a report released earlier this month, found the genetically engineered (or GE) salmon to be as safe to eat as normal salmon. But several members of the agency's Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee felt that the tests for food safety could have included more data and encouraged the agency to request more from the company. Q: What's the environmental issue? A: Some scientists and environmental groups worry that if these fast-growing salmon escaped into the ocean, they might out-compete native salmon populations for both food and mates. As almost all wild Atlantic salmon are endangered, anything that could harm them is of concern.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate and government corruption, click here and here. For a highly-informative overview of the threats posesd to health and the environment by genetically modified foods, click here.
Public health experts have called for an independent body to monitor drug safety after it emerged that young children were more likely to end up in hospital because of side effects from a flu vaccine than they were from the disease itself. More than 1000 adverse responses in children under five were reported ... by June this year, including nearly 100 instances of febrile convulsions, a seizure which in a small number of cases has been associated with long-term adverse health outcomes. The side effects were linked to one of the three seasonal flu vaccines, Fluvax and Fluvax junior, from the drug company CSL, but the [Therapeutic Goods Administration] maintained despite that, that "the overall risk-benefit balance of both products remains positive". Research published yesterday in the journal Eurosurveillance showed Fluvax might have caused two to three hospital admissions due to seizure for every admission from flu it prevented. The chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia, Michael Moore, said further examination of risks was needed, at arm's length from the TGA. The government should consider creating an independent centre. "There is a concern … that the TGA is the body that approves vaccines and is also the body that determines what the risks and benefits are when concerns are raised," he said.
Note: For lots more from reliable souces on the dangers of many types of vaccines, click here.
As the Food and Drug Administration considers whether to approve genetically modified salmon, one thing seems certain: Shoppers staring at fillets in the seafood department will find it tough to pick out the conventional fish from the one created with genes from another species. Despite a growing public demand for more information about how food is produced, that won't happen with the salmon because of idiosyncracies embedded in federal regulations. The FDA says it cannot require a label on the genetically modified food once it determines that the altered fish is not "materially" different from other salmon - something agency scientists have said is true. Perhaps more surprising, conventional food makers say the FDA has made it difficult for them to boast that their products do not contain genetically modified ingredients. The decision carries great weight because, while genetically modified agriculture has been permitted for years and engineered crops are widely used in processed foods, this would be the first modified animal allowed for human consumption in the United States. The AquAdvantage salmon has been given a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, and a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon. Consumer advocates say they worry about labeling for genetically engineered beef, pork and other fish, which are lining up behind the salmon for federal approval.
Note: For an excellent overview of the dangers of genetically modified foods, click here.
The first court award in a vaccine-autism claim is a big one. CBS News has learned the family of Hannah Poling will receive more than $1.5 million dollars for her life care, lost earnings, and pain and suffering for the first year alone. In addition to the first year, the family will receive more than $500,000 per year to pay for Hannah's care. Those familiar with the case believe the compensation could easily amount to $20 million over the child's lifetime. Hannah was described as normal, happy and precocious in her first 18 months. Then, in July 2000, she was vaccinated against nine diseases in one doctor's visit: measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae. Afterward, her health declined rapidly. She developed high fevers, stopped eating, didn't respond when spoken to, began showing signs of autism, and began having screaming fits. In acknowledging Hannah's injuries, the government said vaccines aggravated an unknown mitochondrial disorder Hannah had which didn't "cause" her autism, but "resulted" in it. It's unknown how many other children have similar undiagnosed mitochondrial disorder. All other autism "test cases" have been defeated at trial. Approximately 4,800 are awaiting disposition in federal vaccine court.
Note: A CBS affiliate reports that "since the late 1980s, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has paid money for 83 cases involving autism." The article also mentions this has been kept quiet. For a powerful report by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. showing blatant deception and cover up on the part of government and industry around a link between vaccines and autism, click here. For numerous revealing reports from major media sources on the link between vaccines and autism, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.