Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

15 Mar

Abbott Labs, Chickenpox, & Couch Potatoes

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Here’s your daily dose of the latest and greatest from the world of health! We skip the sensational stories (please, no more Anna Nicole DNA testing news! There is stuff going on in the world!). Today, we bring you the most compelling, useful…and, yes, bizarre health news.

To wit: evidently, furniture may be making people obese. You’ll want to click it out, kids.

Big Pharma and Thailand: Smackdown

Abbott Labs (the same folks who proudly market unhealthy junk food to children and lie to parents about it) is furious with Thailand for having the gall to look out for its impoverished, AIDS-wracked population. If you think the situation in Africa is bad, take a look at what Abbott is doing in Thailand. Seriously, between happily creating a nation of tiny diabetics at home and knowingly keeping medicine from poverty-stricken human beings abroad, just how do these guys sleep at night? Even bees know that’s wrong.

abbott2

Is Your Couch Making You Fat?

It gives new meaning to the term “couch potato”. It appears that the flame retardants used in many fabrics and furniture cushions may be contributing to insulin resistance and obesity. Click it out!

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The Law of Unintended Consequences

Sometimes putting out one fire creates another. That’s certainly the case with many drug therapies. Kindergarten teachers everywhere groan: the chickenpox vaccine is losing its effectiveness.

Studiously Avoiding Vegetables? We Ace That Test!

All right! We’re #1…in avoiding fruits and vegetables. Unlike the U.K., which, despite being the country that invented fried fish and chips and such breakfast treats as canned beans on toast, manages to meet its health goals, we still vehemently refuse to eat enough salad. Well, except you, Apples. Right?

fruit
15 Mar

From Pharma, with Love

“The measures reflect a growing body of research about discrepancies between journal articles and the full results of the studies behind them. Journal editors are also responding to the escalating debate in Washington on ensuring drug side effects are properly disclosed. In the wake of the withdrawal of Merck & Co.’s painkiller Vioxx over cardiovascular side effects, some legislators are calling for tougher safety scrutiny of drugs on the market.

The JAMA study last year said articles often cherry-picked strong results to report, even if those results were in a different area than the study was designed to test. Typically scientists set up clinical trials to answer one or two primary questions — for example, whether a drug reduces the risk of a heart attack and stroke. These are called the primary outcomes. The JAMA study found that 62% of trials had at least one primary outcome that was changed, added or omitted.”

(Source: the Wall Street Journal)

UPDATE 3/25/07: We have removed our spoof image of JAMA’s cover because some of our readers have alerted us that, upon closer inspection, the thumbnail of the JAMA issue, which depicts a cartoon examination scene, contains nudity. This was a complete, unintentional oops on our part! No offense was intended. (Though we have to wonder…why on earth is JAMA putting these sorts of depictions in their cover art in the first place?)

It’s no surprise anymore that the major medical journals are plastered with pharmaceutical advertisements – after all, when was the last time you visited a doctor’s office that wasn’t drowning in pharmaceutical marketing widgets? Nor is it a surprise that the very studies in medical journals (not the advertisements) are deceptively skewed in Big Pharma’s favor about two-thirds of the time.

I would think physicians and researchers would be appalled by the replete corruption. But when your own federal government spends more time telling you that vitamins are deadly – because a handful of terminally ill patients weren’t able to stave off inevitable death with a dose of knowingly worthless synthetic E – than it does being concerned about 60,000+ deaths from one drug alone, is it any wonder? That’s a lot of people – that’s more than many entire cities!

For decent people, it’s just a natural inclination to trust authorities claiming to be both knowledgeable and ethical. After all, that’s what we’re paying them for. The problem is, the pharmaceutical companies are paying them more – to the tune of 19 billion dollars. I have no doubt that many people working in the pharmaceutical industry are there with the best of intentions. I am not against drugs necessary to improve and save lives, of which there are many successes.

But I do have a problem with an overly-lenient and largely voluntary drug approval process that is a mockery of ethical standards. Because we trust journals and doctors so implicitly, we forget that, like any business, pharmaceuticals are in it for the money. It’s just business. Sometimes, the business creates good; but increasingly, it doesn’t, and the guardians of public health – the FDA, peer-reviewed journals, physicians – are, at best, manipulated, and at worst, corrupt.

Can you imagine if 60,000 people died from, say, anything but a federally-approved pharmaceutical? Say, echinacea. Grape juice. Ketchup. Anything – imagine the outcry.

I wish this were a conspiracy theory. I wish this were a minor problem. I wish people could say, “There goes Sisson with his indignant ranting again.”

But the facts are clear:

- Pharmaceutical studies are deceptive at least 62% of the time,

- The FDA, through a combination of voluntary adherence protocols and a poorly-designed approval process that rushes drugs through and fails to adequately follow up, inherently supports unnecessary deaths,

- Major journals such as JAMA can’t claim to be independent – come on! – when their advertisers are, by and large, pharmaceutical companies,

- Result: hundreds of thousands of people are sickened or killed by drugs every year.

Can you imagine if these shenanigans went on in any other industry?

It’s like that humorous response Jack Welch gave to Bill Gates for claiming computers were more reliable than cars (an urban legend, by the way, but still entertaining).

Let’s call a spade a spade.

Is it really so “outrageous” to have a problem with drug advertisements in medical journals?

Is it that “paranoid” to demand a more rigorous FDA approval process?

Is it “off-the-wall” to be bothered by the fact that I have to wade through an avalanche of pens, post-it pads and coffee mugs from GlaxoSmithKline every time I go to the doctor? If that makes me “radical”…

We live in an advertising age – everything is brought to you by something else, and sports stadiums are named after office equipment. I can’t catch a game without being reminded to go stock up on ink cartridge refills. So it’s no surprise, I guess, that this extends to drugs. If pharmaceuticals are saving hundreds of thousands of lives annually, but at a cost of thousands of lives, let’s at least be honest about the costs in terms of human lives. Who is rational and who is emotional here? The folks questioning the disparity between the marketing and the facts, or the economically-motivated (read: fearful) folks deriding anyone who criticizes them as “radical”?

 

 

 

14 Mar

You Best Be Clickin’!

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

The Bees are proud to bring you all kinds of fascinating, humorous, important and compelling news bites today. Would you expect anything less? We hope not! Check out this clickativity:

Eating for Two?

Moms-to-be: think you need to gain 30 pounds for a healthy pregnancy? Think again. Conventional medical wisdom gets challenged by our pals over at Calorie Lab – so, naturally, we’re all over it! Many women have a hard time losing the “baby weight” after a pregnancy – could it be that women have been taught to gain more than they should? Japanese doctors routinely recommend women gain, at most, 15  ‘libs.
babybottle

Youkeo Flickstream

It’s Squeaky-Clean, But Is It Happy?

Dr. Mirkin is at it again: this time, mercilessly debunking the colon cleansing obsession that seems to have taken hold of America. Fiber is one thing; taking up second-home residence in el bano is quite another. Ahem.

Eating Sticks of Butter at 3 a.m. Again?

Yeah, it’s a problem. We’ve all heard the bizarre stories about what Ambien does to people. The FDA issues yet another drug warning for certain sedatives. Is it just us, or does it seem like the FDA’s modus operandi consists of approving new drugs in a hurry and then issuing warnings for them when things inevitably go wrong? When people start eating packs of cigarettes as a result of taking a drug, you know Uncle Sam’s food and drug agency is in danger of jumping the shark…

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Thomas Lampe Flickstream

Web It Out:

For those of you interested in good causes, please take a moment to visit Mark’s friend and colleague Dr. Rutledge Taylor’s Youtube clip about the malaria crisis. That’s right – the malaria crisis. Did you know malaria kills more people than AIDS? And that it has killed more than all wars combined? While this heart-wrenching clip is quite unsettling (sensitive viewers please take note), all the same, it’s an incredibly important issue. You can visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for more information about this issue, as well.

14 Mar

Healthy Daylight Savings Tips

Times, they are a-changin’.

This week’s Aaron’s Additions brings you news and tips about the spring time change. If you’re feeling a little bit behind this week (I know I am!), there’s a very good reason: the time change throws off everyone’s circadian rhythms, and work productivity and sleep habits can suffer temporarily. The extra sunshine feels great (don’t forget the sunscreen), but it’s not without a few temporary drawbacks.

I aim to bring you the latest health tools, tips and blogs from Web 2.0 (that handy term for the growing personalized, community nature of the internet). Since we’re all in this time change together, I think some helpful resources are in order!

Here are some helpful and humorous tools and links for you to get yourself back on track:

How Daylight Savings Time Affects You

Psych Central brings us a great article explaining the benefits and drawbacks of Daylight Savings Time – as well as a very helpful review of how this affects the mood, mind and body. It won’t put you to sleep, but it will help you understand the important relationship between sunlight and snoozing.

Has Everyone Gone Nuts?

If you’re feeling a little off this week, you’re not alone. Evidently everyone is feeling a little out of sorts! Grumplestiltskin at Woulda Coulda Shoulda doesn’t mince words about the off-kilter antics everyone seems to be involved in. A little comedic relief is good for everyone!

Let the Sun In

Maynard Clark offers some very helpful tips for adjusting to a new sleep and work schedule. Check it out!

A Parent’s Perspective

Your Fitness shares the number one tip for adjusting to daylight savings, plus some helpful links.

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Rick Harris Flickrstream

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple