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.
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.
We are often the agents of our own pain. We cause our own deaths, conflicts, illnesses, every single day. We made cancer. Also, we invented war. Scientists have found almost no trace of cancer in the mummified remains of bodies from ancient civilizations. It simply did not exist. Cancer is [a] byproduct of heavily industrialized, high tech, toxic modern society. Same goes, in a way, for war and combat, our need to dominate and defeat. Plentiful are the cultures and peoples throughout time and geography that, even despite scarce natural resources, despite having all the supposed reasons to go to war, never once found a need to take up arms, or even understand the concept. War is learned behavior. Cancer is a modern invention, the dark underbelly of our madhouse race to progress. We create -- and even knowingly promote -- many of the sociocultural factors that spawn depression and internal demonization. But when it comes to love, sexuality, the infinite powers of the heart? It's just the opposite. The love, the sex, the chemistry of desire ... has its roots deep in our very being ... woven into our very DNA. You actually can't choose your particular wiring for love, but you can choose to be a warlike, antagonistic force of cancerous doom. We cannot design our innate sexual chemistry, but we sure as hell can choose whether to celebrate it with wine and song and fearless abandon, or poison it at its heart with ignorance, panic, a violent misreading of God.
WARNING: Holding a cellphone against your ear may be hazardous to your health. So may stuffing it in a pocket against your body. The legal departments of cellphone manufacturers slip a warning about holding the phone against your head or body into the fine print of the little slip that you toss aside when unpacking your phone. The warnings may be missed by an awful lot of customers. The United States has 292 million wireless numbers in use, approaching one for every adult and child. Devra Davis, an epidemiologist who has worked for the University of Pittsburgh ... has published a book about cellphone radiation, Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family. Her book ... surveys the scientific investigations and concludes that brain cancer is a concern. Children are more vulnerable to radiation than adults, Ms. Davis and other scientists point out. No field studies have been completed to date on cellphone radiation and children, she says. 28 percent of studies with cellphone industry funding showed some sort of effect, while 67 percent of studies without such funding did so. Ms. Davis recommends keeping a phone out of close proximity to the head or body, by using wired headsets or the phone’s speaker. Children should text rather than call, she said, and pregnant women should keep phones away from the abdomen. The best way to avoid exposure [is] by holding the cellphone away from the head or body.
Note: For highly informative reports from major media sources on health issues, click here.
When it comes to the bedroom, Viagra, Cialis and Levitra are all household words, thanks to TV, radio and Internet ads broadcasting information about erectile dysfunction around the clock, on all kinds of programming - even the Super Bowl. So when Rachel Braun Scherl, 45, a Stanford University business school graduate, co-founded Semprae Laboratories, which developed Zestra Essential Arousal Oils, a product described as a botanical aphrodisiac, she thought bringing its message to the airwaves would be a snap. Research had shown that tens of millions of American women had sexual difficulty and no products to remedy it. Scherl, 45, a married mother of two, and company co-founder Mary Jaensch, 58, a married mother of three, thought they had an answer for this unmet need, along with the cash to pay for ads on TV. In an apparent double standard, many networks and some websites have declined the company's ads; a few will air them during the daytime, and others only after midnight. "The most frequent answer we get is, 'We don't advertise your category,' " Scherl said. "To which we say, 'What is the category? Because if it's sexual enjoyment, you clearly cover that category. If it's female enjoyment, you clearly don't.' And when you ask for information as to what we would need to change so they would clear the ad for broadcast, they give you very little direction. ... And yet they have no problem showing ads for Viagra and other men's drugs. Why?"
Note: For highly informative reports from major media sources on health issues, click here.
The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald's and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg's, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease. In an overhaul of public health, said by [critics] to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry, health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five "responsibility deal" networks with business, co-chaired by ministers, to come up with policies. The groups are dominated by food and alcohol industry members, who have been invited to suggest measures to tackle public health crises. The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company. The food deal's sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo, owner of Walkers crisps. The leading supermarkets are an equally strong presence. In early meetings, these commercial partners have been invited to draft priorities and identify barriers, such as EU legislation, that they would like removed. They have been assured by Lansley that he wants to explore voluntary not regulatory approaches, and to support them in removing obstacles.
In a rare move, the Justice Department on Tuesday announced that it had charged a former vice president and top lawyer for the British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline with making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation into illegal marketing of the antidepressant Wellbutrin for weight loss. â€śThis is absolutely precedent-setting â€” this is really going to set peopleâ€™s hair on fire,â€ť said Douglas B. Farquhar, a Washington lawyer. â€śThis is indicative of the F.D.A. and Justice strategy to go after the very top-ranking managing officials at regulated companies.â€ť The indictment accuses the Glaxo official, Lauren C. Stevens of Durham, N.C., of lying to the Food and Drug Administration in 2003, by writing letters, as associate general counsel, denying that doctors speaking at company events had promoted Wellbutrin for uses not approved by the agency. Ms. Stevens â€śmade false statements and withheld documents she recognized as incriminating,â€ť including slides the F.D.A. had sought during its investigation, the indictment stated. The company was cooperating fully with a federal investigation into allegations of illegal sales and marketing of Wellbutrin. Last year, it set aside $400 million to resolve the case, which is still pending. Two weeks ago, in an unrelated case, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $750 million to the government to settle civil and criminal complaints that it sold tainted or ineffective products from a large manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico.
Note: Even with fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars assessed to many of the large pharmaceuticals, why isn't more being done? See what one of the top doctors in the US revealed about corruption in health care at this link.
Few ecological disasters have been as confounding as the massive and devastating die-off of the world's honeybees. The phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) -- in which disoriented honeybees die far from their hives -- has kept scientists, beekeepers, and regulators desperately seeking the cause. The long list of possible suspects has included pests, viruses, fungi, and also pesticides, particularly so-called neonicotinoids, a class of neurotoxins that kills insects by attacking their nervous systems. For years, their leading manufacturer, Bayer Crop Science, a subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG (BAYRY), has tangled with regulators and fended off lawsuits from angry beekeepers who allege that the pesticides have disoriented and ultimately killed their bees. A cheer must have gone up at Bayer on Thursday when a front-page New York Times article, under the headline "Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery," described how a newly released study pinpoints a different cause for the die-off: "a fungus tag-teaming with a virus." The Bayer pesticides, however, go unmentioned. What the Times article did not explore -- nor did the study disclose -- was the relationship between the study's lead author, Montana bee researcher Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, and Bayer Crop Science. In recent years Bromenshenk has received a significant research grant from Bayer to study bee pollination.
Note: Read the full, revealing article to learn how money often corrupts science. For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on [October 29] that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry. The new position was declared in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Department of Justice ... in a case involving two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. “We acknowledge that this conclusion is contrary to the longstanding practice of the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as the practice of the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies that have in the past sought and obtained patents for isolated genomic DNA,” the brief said. The issue of gene patents has long been a controversial [one]. Opponents say that genes are products of nature, not inventions, and should be the common heritage of mankind. They say that locking up basic genetic information in patents actually impedes medical progress. Proponents say genes isolated from the body are chemicals that are different from those found in the body and therefore are eligible for patents. In its brief, the government said it now believed that the mere isolation of a gene, without further alteration or manipulation, does not change its nature.
Note: This is great news. To see how patents have been used in scary ways to promote global monopolies, watch this documentary.
GlaxoSmithKline, the British drug giant, has agreed to pay $750 million to settle criminal and civil complaints that the company for years knowingly sold contaminated baby ointment and an ineffective antidepressant â€” the latest in a growing number of whistle-blower lawsuits that drug makers have settled with multimillion-dollar fines. Altogether, GlaxoSmithKline sold 20 drugs with questionable safety that were made at a huge plant in Puerto Rico that for years was rife with contamination. Cheryl D. Eckard, the companyâ€™s quality manager, asserted in her whistle-blower suit that she had warned Glaxo of the problems but the company fired her instead of addressing them. Among the drugs affected were Paxil, an antidepressant; Bactroban, an ointment; Avandia, a troubled diabetes drug; Coreg, a heart drug; and Tagamet, an acid reflux drug. Justice Department officials announced the settlement in a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Boston, saying a $150 million payment to settle criminal charges was the largest such payment ever by a manufacturer of adulterated drugs. The outcome also provides $600 million in civil penalties. The share to the whistle-blower will be $96 million, one of the highest such awards in a health care fraud case.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on corporate corruption and criminality, click here.
More than 17,000 doctors and other health care providers have taken money from seven major drug companies to talk to other doctors about their products, a joint investigation by news organizations and non-profit groups found. More than 380 of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals took in more than $100,000 in 2009 and 2010, according to the investigation. The report said far more doctors are likely to have taken such payments, but it documented these based on information from seven drugmakers. The investigation by journalism group ProPublica, Consumer Reports magazine, NPR radio and [other] publications showed doctors were sometimes urged to recommend "off-label" prescriptions of drugs, meaning using them for conditions they are not approved for. "Tens of thousands of U.S. physicians are paid to spread the word about pharma's favored pills and to advise the companies about research and marketing," the group says in its report. "This investigation begins to pull back the shroud on these activities," Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said in a statement. "The amount of money involved is astounding, and the ProPublica report's account of the background of some of the physicians is disturbing."
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."
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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.
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.