Health Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Health Media Articles in Major Media
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.
One of the most financially successful cancer drugs in the world appears to cause more fatal side effects than previously realized, a new study says. Avastin, a blockbuster drug with more than $5.5 billion in global sales, increases the rate of fatal side effects by almost 50% when added to traditional chemotherapy, compared with chemo alone. About 2.5% of cancer patients who combine Avastin and chemo die from their treatment — rather than their disease, according to an analysis of 10,217 patients in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. In comparison, 1.7% of cancer patients who received only conventional chemo died as a result of therapy. The most common causes of death were hemorrhages, the loss of infection-fighting white blood cells, and perforations in the stomach or intestines, says Shenhong Wu of Stony Brook University School of Medicine, co-author of the analysis of 10,217 patients.
Note: Sadly, most studies that reveal such results are suppressed by the pharmaceutical industry.
The Obama administration Thursday abandoned a proposal to restrict planting of genetically engineered alfalfa, the latest rule-making proposal shelved as part of the administration's review of "burdensome" regulation. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's decision not to regulate alfalfa genetically modified to survive applications of the Monsanto Co. herbicide Roundup is a victory for the big seed and agri-chemicals company and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Obama administration said earlier this month it is reviewing all proposed government regulation to weed out proposals that are overly burdensome to businesses—part of a broader effort to repair relations with employers and industry. The administration has also shelved two proposed workplace-safety rules opposed by business. Alfalfa is raised as hay on about 20 million acres, making it the fourth-biggest U.S. crop by acreage. Only about 250,000 acres of alfalfa is raised organically, however. Some biotechnology officials have predicted that U.S. farmers will use genetically modified seeds to grow half of the nation's alfalfa. The vast majority of the nation's corn, soybeans and cotton are grown from genetically modified varieties.
Note: The US government once again sides with big business and endangers public health. For a powerful, well researched essay which shows how these genetically engineered crops have been proven to cause cancer and kill lab animals in many studies, click here. For more reliable information, click here and here.
If you follow the news about health research, you risk whiplash. First garlic lowers bad cholesterol, then—after more study—it doesn’t. Hormone replacement reduces the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women, until a huge study finds that it doesn’t. But what if wrong answers aren’t the exception but the rule? More and more scholars who scrutinize health research are now making that claim. It isn’t just an individual study here and there that’s flawed, they charge. Instead, the very framework of medical investigation may be off-kilter, leading time and again to findings that are at best unproved and at worst dangerously wrong. The result is a system that leads patients and physicians astray—spurring often costly regimens that won’t help and may even harm you. Even a cursory glance at medical journals shows that once heralded studies keep falling by the wayside. A major study concluded there’s no good evidence that statins (drugs like Lipitor and Crestor) help people with no history of heart disease. The study ... was based on an evaluation of 14 individual trials with 34,272 patients. Cost of statins: more than $20 billion per year. “Positive” drug trials, which find that a treatment is effective, and “negative” trials, in which a drug fails, take the same amount of time to conduct. But negative trials took an extra two to four years to be published. With billions of dollars on the line, companies are loath to declare a new drug ineffective. As a result of the lag in publishing negative studies, patients receive a treatment that is actually ineffective. From clinical trials of new drugs to cutting-edge genetics, biomedical research is riddled with incorrect findings.
Note: For the good of your health, the entire article at the link above is well worth reading. For lots more on how the profit-oriented health profession puts public health at risk, click here and here.
Fluoride in drinking water — credited with dramatically cutting cavities and tooth decay — may now be too much of a good thing. Getting too much of it causes spots on some kids' teeth. A reported increase in the spotting problem is one reason the federal government will announce [that] it plans to lower the recommended levels for fluoride in water supplies — the first such change in nearly 50 years. About 2 out of 5 adolescents have tooth streaking or spottiness because of too much fluoride, a surprising government study found recently. In some extreme cases, teeth can even be pitted by the mineral. Maryland is the most fluoridated state, with nearly every resident on a fluoridated water system. In contrast, only about 11% of Hawaii residents are on fluoridated water, according to government statistics. Fluoridation has been fought for decades by people who worried about its effects, including conspiracy theorists who feared it was a plot to make people submissive to government power. "It's amazing that people have been so convinced that this is an OK thing to do," said Deborah Catrow, who successfully fought a ballot proposal in 2005 that would have added fluoride to drinking water in Springfield, Ohio.
Note: This article fails to mention a key recent study showing "about 28 percent of the children in the low-fluoride area scored as bright, normal or higher intelligence compared to only 8 percent in the 'high' fluoride area. In the high-fluoride city, 15 percent had scores indicating mental retardation and only 6 percent in the low-fluoride city." For a truly awesome, revealing interview with a BBC producer on the major deceptions, risks, and dangers of fluoride in water, click here. For more on this key topic from Dr. Mercola, click here. And for the top website on the risks and dangers of flouride in water, click here.
When people consider the connections between drugs and violence, what typically comes to mind are illegal drugs like crack cocaine. However, certain medications — most notably, some antidepressants like Prozac — have also been linked to increase risk for violent, even homicidal behavior. A new study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices published in the journal PloS One and based on data from the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System has identified 31 drugs that are disproportionately linked with reports of violent behavior towards others. Please note that this does not necessarily mean that these drugs cause violent behavior. Nonetheless, when one particular drug in a class of nonaddictive drugs used to treat the same problem stands out, that suggests caution: unless the drug is being used to treat radically different groups of people, that drug may actually be the problem. Here are the top ten offenders: * 10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) * 9. Venlafaxine (Effexor) * 8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) * 7. Triazolam (Halcion) * 6. Atomoxetine (Strattera) * 5. Mefoquine (Lariam) * 4. Amphetamines: (Various) * 3. Paroxetine (Paxil) * 2. Fluoxetine (Prozac) * 1. Varenicline (Chantix)
Note: As mentioned in this article, all of these drugs are 8 to 18 times time more likely to be linked to violent acts than other drugs. For excellent reports on health issues from reliable sources, click here.
In articles, interviews, op-eds and testimony on Capitol Hill, Wendell Potter has described the dark underbelly of the health care insurance industry — unkept promises of care, canceled coverage of those who get sick and fearmongering campaigns designed to quash any change that might adversely affect profits. He should know what he is talking about. For 20 years, Mr. Potter was the head of corporate communications at two major insurers, first at Humana and then at Cigna. Now Mr. Potter has written a fascinating book that details the methods he and his colleagues used to manipulate public opinion and describes his transformation from the idealistic son of working-class parents in eastern Tennessee to top insurance company executive, to vocal critic and industry watchdog. Using little of the fiery rhetoric or lurid prose that usually marks corporate exposés or memoirs of redemption, the book, Deadly Spin ... is an evenhanded yet riveting account of the inner workings of the health care insurance industry, a cautionary tale that doctors and patients would be wise not to miss. Mr. Potter [describes] the myth-making he did, interspersing descriptions of front groups, paid spies and jiggered studies with a deft retelling of the convoluted (and usually eye-glazing) history of health care insurance policies.
Note: Mr. Potter has written a powerful condemnation of health care industry practices at this link. For other major media articles on this courageous whistleblower, click here. And for other highly informative reports on important health issues, click here.
More than 20% of patients who received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator -- a high-tech device that produces electrical impulses to regulate heartbeats and prevent life-threatening arrhythmias -- in recent years were not good candidates to receive the device, a new study suggests. Researchers at Duke University looked at more than 111,000 patients who received ICD implants between 2006 and 2009. More than 25,000 of those patients did not meet evidence-based criteria for receiving the device, according to the study. The risk of dying in the hospital was significantly higher for patients who received the ICD but did not meet the criteria, and 1 out of 121 patients in this category experienced complications following the implant, the study found. Dr. Robert Michler, chairman of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Montefiore-Einstein Heart Center, said the data should act as a "wake-up call" for physicians, surgeons and patients. "Doctors are well-intentioned, but not all doctors should be determining the use of what is a very sophisticated therapy," Michler says. He says that in this case electophysiologists should be making the final determination if the patient needs the device.
Note: For powerful information from a top MD on how the profit motive corrupts the medical industry and endangers our health, click here.
The abundance of four common species of bumblebee in the US has dropped by 96% in just the past few decades, according to the most comprehensive national census of the insects. Scientists said the alarming decline, which could have devastating implications for the pollination of both wild and farmed plants, was likely to be a result of disease and low genetic diversity in bee populations. Bumblebees are important pollinators of wild plants and agricultural crops around the world ... thanks to their large body size, long tongues, and high-frequency buzzing, which helps release pollen from flowers. Sydney Cameron, an entomologist at the University of Illinois, led a team on a three-year study of the changing distribution, genetic diversity and pathogens in eight species of bumblebees in the US. By comparing her results with those in museum records of bee populations, she showed that the relative abundance of four of the sampled species (Bombus occidentalis, B. pensylvanicus, B. affinis and B. terricola) had declined by up to 96% and that their geographic ranges had contracted by 23% to 87%, some within just the past two decades. Cameron's findings reflect similar studies across the world. According to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the UK, three of the 25 British species of bumblebee are already extinct and half of the remainder have shown serious declines, often up to 70%, since around the 1970s. Last year, scientists inaugurated a Ł10m programme, called the Insect Pollinators Initiative, to look at the reasons behind the devastation in the insect population.
Note: For news on a leaked EPA memo expressing concern over chemicals causing bee deaths, click here. And for a list of other excellent, revealing links on this key topic, see the bottom of the webpage at this link.
Of all the things that you trust every day, you want to believe your prescription medicine is safe and effective. The pharmaceutical industry says that it follows the highest standards for quality. But in November, we found out just how much could go wrong at one of the world's largest drug makers. A subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to distributing adulterated drugs. Some of the medications were contaminated with bacteria, others were mislabeled, and some were too strong or not strong enough. It's likely Glaxo would have gotten away with it had it not been for a company insider: a tip from Cheryl Eckard set off a major federal investigation. Eckard worked in Glaxo quality control and over ten years she had risen to become a manager of global quality assurance. In 2002, Eckard was assigned to help lead a quality assurance team to evaluate one of Glaxo's most important plants, in Cidra, Puerto Rico. Nine hundred people worked there, making 20 drugs for patients in the U.S. But Eckard says that when she saw what was happening to some of the company's most popular drugs, she couldn't believe it. "All the systems were broken, the facility was broken, the equipment was broken, the processes were broken. It was the worst thing I had run across in my career," she [said]. As her team continued its evaluation of the plant, Eckard says ... that powerful medications were getting mixed up.
Note: For lots more on how this major pharmaceutical is endangering lives, watch the 60 Minutes video segment at the above link.
These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community - mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street. Ten years ago, the Lisbon neighborhood was a hellhole, a "drug supermarket" where some 5,000 users lined up every day to buy heroin and sneaked into a hillside honeycomb of derelict housing to shoot up. At that time, Portugal, like the junkies of Casal Ventoso, had hit rock bottom: An estimated 100,000 people - an astonishing 1 percent of the population - were addicted to illegal drugs. So, like anyone with little to lose, the Portuguese took a risky leap: They decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law in 2000. Now, the United States, which has waged a 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs, is looking for answers in tiny Portugal, which is reaping the benefits of what once looked like a dangerous gamble. "The disasters that were predicted by critics didn't happen," said University of Kent professor Alex Stevens, who has studied Portugal's program. "The answer was simple: Provide treatment." Drugs in Portugal are still illegal. But here's what Portugal did: It changed the law so that users are sent to counseling and sometimes treatment instead of criminal courts and prison. The switch from drugs as a criminal issue to a public health one was aimed at preventing users from going underground.
A New Orleans law firm is challenging government assurances that Gulf Coast seafood is safe to eat in the wake of the BP oil spill, saying it poses “a significant danger to public health.” Citing what the law firm calls a state-of-the-art laboratory analysis, toxicologists, chemists and marine biologists retained by the firm of environmental attorney Stuart Smith contend that the government seafood testing program, which has focused on ensuring the seafood was free of the cancer-causing components of crude oil, has overlooked other harmful elements. And they say that their own testing — examining fewer samples but more comprehensively — shows high levels of hydrocarbons from the BP spill that are associated with liver damage. “What we have found is that FDA simply overlooked an important aspect of safety in their protocol,” contends William Sawyer, a Florida-based toxicologist on Smith’s team. Five months after crude oil stopped gushing from the broken BP wellhead into the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government has reopened more than 90 percent of fishing waters that were in danger of contamination from the broken Deepwater Horizon rig. But many fishermen have yet to return to sea, and consumer confidence in Gulf seafood remains lukewarm.
Note: For important reports from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
Last year, Stanford banned its physicians from giving paid promotional talks for pharmaceutical companies. One thing it didn't do was make sure its faculty followed that rule. A ProPublica investigation ["Dollars for Docs"] found that more than a dozen of the school's doctors were paid speakers in apparent violation of Stanford policy - two of them were paid six figures since last year. Conflict-of-interest policies have become increasingly important as academic medical centers worry that promotional talks undermine the credibility not only of the physicians giving them, but also of the institutions they represent. Yet when it comes to enforcing the policies, universities have allowed permissive interpretations and relied on the honor system. That approach isn't working. Many physicians are in apparent violation, and ignorance or confusion about the rules is widespread. As a result, some faculty physicians stay on the industry lecture circuit, where they can net tens of thousands of dollars in additional income. Critics of the practice say delivering talks for drug companies is incompatible with teaching future generations of physicians. That's because drug firms typically pick the topic of the lecture, train the speakers and require them to use company-provided presentation slides.
Note: "Dollars for Docs" is an ongoing investigation into the influence of drug company marketing payments on medical providers. To search for a doctor in the database, click here.
Enough uncertainty surrounds silver-colored metal dental fillings with mercury that U.S. regulators should add more cautions for dentists and patients, a U.S. advisory panel [has] said. The fillings should be accompanied by warnings about unknown risks for vulnerable people such as children and pregnant women. "There really is no place for mercury in children," Suresh Kotagal, a panelist and neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said of the toxic metal. Mercury has been linked to neurological damage at high exposure levels and makes up about half of a metal filling. While the panel stopped short of urging a ban, it wants the FDA to look at the latest data and reassess its guidance after the agency last year declared the fillings safe. Some European nations have banned amalgam use. Critics told the advisers there was a clear link between mercury fillings and side effects, especially in more vulnerable patients. They should be banned or not implanted unless patients give consent, they said.
Note: Why is mercury still used in most dental fillings, when there is a known risk and other materials are available? Our teeth are not a good place for mercury. Studies have proven that small amounts of mercury are released by these fillings in gases into the mouth, only the toxicity is debated. For more, click here.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee said ... that the agency should look at updated data on mercury amalgam dental fillings that may indicate possible medical problems for patients. The panel -- after hearing two days of testimony from experts, members of the public and dental professionals -- recommended the FDA look at information updated since the agency ruled in 2009 that the mercury in dental fillings is not harmful. Public pressure prompted the panel's review, initiated less than 18 months after the agency's decision. Committee members listened to testimony by consumer and dental groups claiming the FDA used flawed science when it set the current guidelines for mercury safety levels. Some experts say mercury from these fillings penetrates into the body and damages human cells, especially in the brain, bones and kidneys. How much damage it is unknown, which is why the advisory committee is revisiting the issue. Some dentists did say they would avoid using amalgam fillings because of numerous public reports of mercury poisoning. "I always wondered why we were told by the (American Dental Association) to be careful when disposing of mercury. If it's so dangerous to the environment, why not my patients?" asked Dr. Stephen Markus, a dentist in the Philadelphia area.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on health issues, click here.
A physicians' group campaigning against McDonald's fast food offerings says that four Houston TV stations have refused to run its advertisement equating cheeseburgers with heart disease and death. The advertisement from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, titled "Consequences," displays a doctor and a weeping woman standing over a corpse clutching a cheeseburger in its right hand. The 30-second spot ends with a picture of the McDonald's logo, the words "I was lovin' it," a parody of the company's "I'm lovin' it" slogan, and the voiceover, "High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian." Susan Levin, director of nutrition of education for the Washington, D.C., nonprofit, said all four of Houston's major network affiliates turned down "Consequences," which she said has aired in Chicago and Washington and was rejected by stations in Miami. The group was prepared to pay $5,000 to air the ad locally. Houston was selected for the campaign, the group said, because of its market size, its reputation as having one of the nation's highest obesity rates and because it has 149 McDonald's outlets, more than any city in the nation other than New York. The "Consequences" spot has been viewed more than 1.1 million times on the group's YouTube site.
Note: To view the commercial at YouTube, click here.
The world's biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable. Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996. But the cable suggests that the US drug giant did not want to pay out to settle the two cases – one civil and one criminal – brought by the Nigerian federal government. The cable reports a meeting between Pfizer's country manager, Enrico Liggeri, and US officials at the Abuja embassy on 9 April 2009. It states: "According to Liggeri, Pfizer had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to federal attorney general Michael Aondoakaa to expose him and put pressure on him to drop the federal cases. He said Pfizer's investigators were passing this information to local media." The cable ... continues: "A series of damaging articles detailing Aondoakaa's 'alleged' corruption ties were published in February and March. Liggeri contended that Pfizer had much more damaging information on Aondoakaa and that Aondoakaa's cronies were pressuring him to drop the suit for fear of further negative articles."
Note: For more on this revealing case, see the New York Times article available here.
Congress gave final approval ... to a child nutrition bill that expands the school lunch program and sets new standards to improve the quality of school meals, with more fruits and vegetables. School meal programs have a major impact on the nation’s health, and supporters of the bill said it could reduce the prevalence of obesity among children. The lunch program feeds more than 31 million children a day. The bill gives the secretary of agriculture authority to establish nutrition standards for foods sold in schools during the school day, including items in vending machines. The standards would require schools to serve more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. And for the first time in more than three decades, the bill would increase federal reimbursement for school lunches beyond inflation — to help cover the cost of higher-quality meals. It would also allow more than 100,000 children on Medicaid to qualify automatically for free school meals.
Scientists claim to be a step closer to reversing the ageing process after rejuvenating worn out organs in elderly mice. The experimental treatment developed by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, turned weak and feeble old mice into healthy animals by regenerating their aged bodies. The surprise recovery of the animals has raised hopes among scientists that it may be possible to achieve a similar feat in humans – or at least to slow down the ageing process. "What we saw in these animals was not a slowing down or stabilisation of the ageing process. We saw a dramatic reversal – and that was unexpected," said Ronald DePinho, who led the study, which was published in the journal Nature. The Harvard group focused on a process called telomere shortening. Most cells in the body contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, which carry our DNA. At the ends of each chromosome is a protective cap called a telomere. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter, until eventually they stop working and the cell dies or goes into a suspended state called "senescence". The process is behind much of the wear and tear associated with ageing. At Harvard, they bred genetically manipulated mice that lacked an enzyme called telomerase that stops telomeres getting shorter. When DePinho gave the mice injections to reactivate the enzyme, it repaired the damaged tissues and reversed the signs of ageing.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
Britain's health service makes it the only one of 11 leading industrialised nations where wealth does not determine access to care – providing the most widely accessible treatments at low cost among rich nations, a study has found. The survey, by US health thinktank the Commonwealth Fund, showed that while a third of American adults "went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of costs", this figure was only 6% in the UK and 5% in Holland. In all the countries surveyed except Britain, wealth was a significant factor in access to health, with patients earning less than the national average more likely to report trouble with medical bills and problems getting care because of cost. The survey, of 19,700 patients in 11 nations, found "substantial differences" among countries on access to care when sick, access after hours, and waiting times for specialised care. The NHS was also extremely cost-effective, with spending on health per person almost the lowest in the survey. A person in the UK paid $1,500 less than one in Switzerland and less than half the $7,538 paid by every American for healthcare. The report was particularly damning about the US, where it found patients "are far more likely than those in 10 other industrialised nations to go without healthcare because of costs".
Note: For highly informative reports from major media sources on health issues, click here.
About 48 of the more than 1,730 California doctors who received money from pharmaceutical companies over the past 21 months have been the subject of disciplinary action, a database compiled by the investigative news organization ProPublica found. While that represents less than 3 percent of the California doctors who take pharmaceutical money, the fact that drug companies are paying those doctors - some of whom have multiple disciplinary actions - for their expertise calls into question how closely these companies vet the physicians who serve as the spokespeople for their drugs. California doctors have received $28.6 million from top pharmaceutical companies since 2009, with at least three physicians collecting more than $200,000 and 36 others making more than $100,000 for promoting drug firm products. That cash flowing from drug companies to doctors has raised ethical concerns from some observers. "If they're getting as much money from pharmaceutical companies as they do for being a doctor, what are they really? Are they working for a pharmaceutical company, or are they being a doctor?" asked Lisa Bero, a pharmacy professor at UCSF who studies conflicts of interest in medicine and research.
Note: For a detailed analysis of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry by a highly-respected doctor, 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.