Tag: Hype

So You Want to Take Alli?

The oily spotting continues. Healthbolt has the money quote on new diet drug Alli:

“You can also bet your bottom dollar that GSK will be running ads of fabulous looking people living skinny-happy lives on alli in a field of wheat somewhere. They sure as hell won?t be running ads about 16 year old girls, malnourished as-is because of eating disorders (and this is who?s buying over the counter diet pills) passing out in gym class because they have no vitamins in their body…”

There will also no doubt be a floppy-eared puppy somewhere in that field of wheat – though I’m betting on a field of buttercups and violets myself.

For further consideration: at best, this new wonder drug will yield you a 5-10 pound weight loss…after 6 months! And that’s if you diet. And if you exercise. And that number may not be right, anyway, because the study was so shoddy.

I could lose 5 pounds on a bet in a week and it would still be healthier and safer than the Alli method.

If you work out for just 30 minutes a day and simultaneously cut just 200 calories from your daily intake (we’re talking a soda or a latte or just one standard serving of carbs, Apples), you’ll lose 5-10 pounds in one month. Yes. ONE MONTH. And that’s without a drug.

It should never take six months to lose 5 pounds. It should take about two weeks, and you certainly don’t need a drug to do that.

Among things that will take off 5 pounds in far less time than Alli:

(bear in mind this study isn’t totally proven, but then neither is Alli’s)

Yawning

Stretching in your chair

Rolling over one extra time in bed

Smiling at the mailman for once

Thinking about losing weight

Wondering if your friends are thinking about losing weight

Not thinking about losing weight

Remembering you need to put the clothes in the dryer

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[tags]Healthbolt, GSK, Alli, eating disorders, diet drug[/tags]

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And This Is What I Call a Deal-Breaker

I’m sure you’ve heard the headlines about Orlistat, the obesity drug, being approved for OTC use. What you may not have heard about are the side effects of this fat-blocking drug. Orlistat, which will still be distributed by Rx as Xenical for morbidly obese patients, will now be sold as Alli in drugstores nationwide. A magic pill it ain’t, Apples. I have a big (pardon the pun) problem with this drug, for several reasons. 1. How It Works I have no doubt that Alli is going to fly off the shelves faster than bananas in a monkey farm. People want to lose weight without making changes, and that’s the unfortunate truth. Some of us are lazy; some are depressed; some don’t have the information; and like children believing in Santa, many simply want to believe in a magic cure. These folks are the ones GlaxoSmithKline is banking on. Drug companies love a sucker. Alli “works” (and even this is highly debatable) by blocking fat absorption. This is problematic, to put it lightly. First of all, fat does not make you fat. The human body was meant to operate in a fat-burning metabolic state. Whether you believe in God or cite Darwin or both, there’s absolutely no disputing this fact. The advent of grain agriculture is a new thing for humans, relatively speaking, and the transition from a flesh-and-vegetable diet to a grain-and-sugar diet has humans suffering in a glucose-burning state. The side effects of this high-sugar diet are horrendous: inflammation, heart disease, depression, insomnia, diabetes, mental degeneration, aging, obesity and cancer. Do you still really want to block fat? People I coach are shocked when I put them on a higher-fat diet because mainstream wisdom still worships at the altar of low-fat. Know what happens? Infections clear, cholesterol drops, energy increases, anxiety dissipates, skin glows, and the pounds melt away. Second, reducing fat deprives your body of vital nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, which all need fat to metabolize. Blocking fat means you can’t properly absorb critical nutrients, which is why Alli has to be taken with a multivitamin to offset some of the damage. 2. The Law of Unintended Consequences: Oily Stools? Alli is available under conditional approval. This is the same FDA approval stamp that got us into the HRT and Cox-2 disasters. How many thousands of women suffered from breast cancer and how many people had heart attacks as a result of these reckless approvals? Conditional approval. As I mentioned the other day in an update on the FDA’s drug woes, conditional approval is a process by which the FDA essentially allows the burden of safety to rest with drug companies. (Yes: more often than you want to know, the FDA lets pharmaceutical companies begin marketing and selling a drug before lengthy testing has been conducted.) This tacit trust is just super-duper for drug companies eager to sop up years of product development costs with fast cash, but I’m stumped as to how this is beneficial for actual … Continue reading “And This Is What I Call a Deal-Breaker”

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Do Anti-Cellulite Shoes Work?

Several Apples have written in wondering about MBT and other supposed jiggle-reducing shoe brands, so in the interest of truth and avoidance of unattractive footwear, let’s set the record straight. Do anti-cellulite shoes work? No, no, and no. Here’s a great article that debunks this ridiculous shoe trend. Not only are the numerous health and figure-fix claims about cellulite shoes total baloney, these kicks are expensive and super-ugly. MBT, the main anti-cellulite shoe maker, even has an African myth of sorts to complete the marketing lure (check out Mark’s post on hoodia for another example of emotional bait). These sneakers will make you wobble, feel dizzy, and possibly fall (so you can have a big bruise in addition to cellulite). What they will not do is cure cellulite. Unfortunately, there’s just not really a “cure” for cellulite. It’s genetic, like bone density, skin tone and hair color. Of course, you can lift weights to build bones, fry in a tanning bed, and dye your hair, right? Ah, modern technology. There are things you can do to reduce the appearance of cellulite – but it will never go away with a magic cream or a funky pair of shoes. If you’re really in angst come bikini season, these things can help: – My personal theory: lay off the sugar, processed foods and trans fat, and make real fat your friend. Fat does not cause cellulite, but eating weird, unhealthy and processed foods does do weird things to our cells. I’m not saying sugar causes cellulite, but it certainly doesn’t help, either. Enough with the fat-free dairy, ladies (which just has sugar in place of fat). Sugar stores itself as fat and expands existing fat cells. Aha! – The appearance of cellulite can be reduced if you have good, lean muscle tone and less flabby fat. So yes, you need to work out once in a while. Plenty of muscle tissue on that booty of yours will help “smooth” the external layer of skin and fat cells a little bit. Men don’t tend to have cellulite because they have more lean muscle mass, and their fat cells tend to be smaller and more flexible. So, reducing your overall body fat and increasing muscle mass will help in your quest to be as smooth as a baby’s behind. – Increase circulation. This is where those creams and gels come in. Most of them “work” by temporarily stimulating circulation to fat cells that go so long without seeing so much as a blood platelet, they wouldn’t know what to do if one stopped by. (Okay, my doctor friends are rolling their eyes right now, but you get the idea.) If you can increase your circulation – often a problem with women (cold feet, anyone?) – you can potentially help nourish and smooth those outer cells a bit more. But no amount of cardio is going to totally eliminate cellulite. Two things to remember: 1) If you’re reasonably fit and healthy, just revel in that … Continue reading “Do Anti-Cellulite Shoes Work?”

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Hoodia: So Much More Than Latin for ‘Hoodie’

The claims about hoodia are about as accurate as that headline.

Don’t get hoodiawinked. Here’s the truth about this alleged weight-loss miracle cactus (Latin for…well, cactus).

Does Hoodia Work?

In a word, no. There’s no proof that hoodia works to help you lose weight – not even a little. Myths, legends, stories and anecdotes are convincing because they resonate with emotional desires (which is why any profitable scam manages to make money). Hoodia is no exception – this new fat-reduction fad product has no scientific evidence to support the claims. Do a little digging around, and you’ll learn that the hoodia being sold is not even the real thing anyway.

Hoodia is a cactus from South Africa. There are 20 types, but gordonii is the only one that actually quells hunger. Here’s the catch: this version of hoodia is endangered and therefore protected by law. It’s not allowed to be harvested and can only be exported to botanists for study.

Now, the chow-suppressing molecule in gordonii hoodia is called P57. Right now, a company called Phytofarm owns it, and you won’t be getting your hands on it anytime soon. Unilever and Pfizer both paid big sums to Phytopharm to toy with hoodia over the last three years, to no avail. Why? Because it doesn’t work for weight loss.

Hoodia products on the market are not real hoodia (and there have been a flurry of government cease-and-desist orders in attempts to stop this scam). Even real hoodia doesn’t work when it’s powdered, processed or the P57 molecule is extracted. You have to eat actual pieces of the plant. Moreover, hoodia does not burn fat – its function is to slow the metabolism, which often has the reverse desired effect. Your body thinks it’s starving, so it hangs on to fat stores even more aggressively.

Web it out:

Clickativity

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[tags]Hoodia, cactus, gordonii, fat reduction, Phytofarm[/tags]

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We Take the Sting Out

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites: All the news you want to click! 1) There’s something worse than a donut, actually. There’s a caffeinated donut. No cops were hurt in the making of this product. The rest of us should just stay away. 2) Cure for diabetes! That’s no joke. There is a very simple, free, enjoyable way to prevent – even cure – many cases of diabetes. It’s called exercise, and people aren’t doing it. In fact, diabetics seem to studiously avoid exercise, according to this clickativity. Guess what? Diabetes is a stupid, made-up disease. We invent it from a combination of sloth and sugar and stress. It’s not even an interesting or worthy disease. If health problems were softball, diabetes would be the one shuffling around in the dust while all the other problems got chosen first. Why? Because they matter. Because they strike innocent people. Because they need research and cures. Diabetes is a big joke compared to diseases we should be worrying about. Which is why, in our softball game, diabetes would go home crying. Over milk and cookies, little diabetes’ mother would explain: “Junior, 99% of the time, you’re simply not a disease deserving of any attention – not when there are so many other real diseases that don’t have cures and can’t be prevented. You just don’t need to exist. You’ve been needlessly invented and you have no excuse. In fact, your father and I haven’t quite known how to tell you this, but…you’re just a big, pointless waste of our health, time and money. In fact, I have to remind myself not to exercise, dear, or you’d simply vanish. Poof.” Just imagine if we ate caffeinated donuts. 3) Counting Calories? Don’t Read the Label Companies have all sorts of ways of making labels reflect the amount of calories they feel like their food contains, as opposed to how many calories the food actually contains. Slate brings us an excellent investigative piece on some of the crazy chemistry adventures of the food industry. May we point out: who really cares about calories? If you are eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and some good fats, you won’t exceed your caloric needs. Another tip-off to too many calories: feeling stuffed. That’s a definite indicator. We’re not opposed to nutrition and caloric information on food products – the more information, the better. But rest assured, if there’s a rule or a regulation, companies are going to find a way around it. Trans fat gets banned? No problem – they’ve just come up with a new refined fat that’s even worse. People don’t like the word “lard” on their ingredients’ list? That’s okay – just change it to mono- and di-glycerides and fool ’em all! It shouldn’t be a big surprise that calorie information is often misleading. Fortunately, if you eat fresh, whole foods, you won’t have to worry about calories. Cool, huh? 4) A Dangerous Cocktail Antidepressants, kids, and pharmaceutical companies: it’s a deadly combination. … Continue reading “We Take the Sting Out”

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Vitamin Eeeeek?

The Difference Between Fact…and Factitious I’ve noticed that frightening myths about vitamin E persist in spite of vocal opposition from scientists and top experts. For those who want to know the facts behind the E “controversy”, here it is (just call it the E! True Supplement Story). For years, doctors have recommended vitamin E supplements to patients seeking better heart health. But a fairly recent study claimed vitamin E increases the risk of death and should not be taken. Let’s take a closer look – because there’s fact, and then there’s factitious. What is vitamin E? Vitamin E, a fat-soluble nutrient, is found naturally in many oils, grains, nuts and fats. E is also present in meats, dairy and leafy greens. What is it used for? The body needs vitamin E for various processes in the blood, eyes, brain and skin. Doctors have been supportive of E because of its heart benefits. Vitamin E helps to thin the blood and fight free radicals, so many Americans fighting heart disease, blood clots or high blood pressure like to take this natural treatment. Vitamin E can help ease leg cramps, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and the pain associated with several cardiovascular diseases. Even some migraine sufferers have benefited from vitamin E supplements. Though the benefit to the heart may not be as powerful as initially thought, vitamin E may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. What is the recommended dosage? 400 IU daily is the general recommendation of the government and most health experts – individual needs can vary. What are known side effects? Doctors have long known that excessive vitamin E intake can cause too much thinning of the blood. For that reason, large amounts of vitamin E should not be taken if you are already taking a synthetic blood thinner. There are no other known drug interactions and vitamin E cannot become toxic. Will Vitamin E kill me? No. A recent study that got a lot of spin (Vitamin E is bad! Oh no!) merely observed a correlation. Are there any problems with that study? Where to start? There are several issues with the study that launched the vitamin E scare: It only looked at people over age 60 who already had serious pre-existing conditions like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease; this study cannot possibly be applied to younger and/or healthier patients. It eliminated observational studies from the analysis, most of which show clear benefit over several years. The study of 136,000 people grouped dozens of studies together without taking into account the different – and possibly incompatible – processes and analyses the various studies used. Many of the studies included in this broad study have been independently questioned for their reliability. This study used “meta-analysis,” which means there was not a consistent, controlled approach in each individual study. Most of the patients taking the vitamin E were also taking other drugs, and the study did not control for the possibility of interaction or complications. The patients were only taking … Continue reading “Vitamin Eeeeek?”

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All the News, None of the Calories

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

This is a low-fat blog post, Apples. Here’s the daily roundup:

1) Hypothetically, Of Course!

Answers to the Top 10 Embarrassing Health Questions. Hey, we know, it’s for your friend.

2) Go On, Get Fresh!

We’ve talked before about big cities like Chicago and New York hopping in the anti-trans-fat fryer. Massachusetts will be the first entire state to do so (of course it’s Massachusetts). And Starbucks recently volunteered outright. McDonald’s hasn’t been able to perfect their beloved heart attack sticks (a.k.a. french fries), but they keep trying to get rid of trans fat, by golly.

Unfortunately, our investigative vigilantes over at Mercola’s blog inform us that food companies are finding a sneaky way around this whole trans fat ruckus. They’re just switching the deadly trans fat for another, equally terrible fat. Doing so allows them to get away with saying “0 grams trans fat” on food labels.

You know, there are days when we want to think highly of our fellow food-manufacturing humans. And then we remember – oh yeah, we’re bees! We don’t have to think good thoughts about these greedy “it’s just the free market” milquetoasts! You don’t, either.

Selling. Deadly. Food. Is. Wrong.

End of story. Spread the word, Apples.

Here are some facts about why trans fat (a.k.a. Frankenfat) is so important to avoid. Thanks, Beacon!

3) Thanks for Smoking. No, Seriously.

In a grand gesture of love and thanks for customer loyalty, Harvard finds that death merchants tobacco makers have steadily increased nicotine levels in cigarettes since 1998. Harvard even took a second look after the death merchants industry whined about it, and still came up with pretty convincing proof. Gravity is more controversial. Thanks to the Urban Hermit for this news.

Help a Loved One Quit for Good

Lung Cancer News

And around the web:

Fascinating brain discovery!

Also on the table:

Export junk food to poor countries. Export subsequent obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Solution? According to the New England Journal of Medicineyness, we need to…export drugs to cure it all!

How about we save everyone, rich and poor alike, by demanding an end to the mass production of Frankenfoods? Does guacamole really need 27 ingredients plus three layers of packaging that no one but a two-year-old with a case of the mad molars can get into?

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File This Under Ponce de Leon

Occasionally an ad for a new product pops up in my email inbox that’s so ridiculous, I have to share it. Being involved in the health and fitness world for many years, I feel like I’ve seen it all – until the next scam comes along that is so blatantly dishonest, it’s almost funny. Almost – except that innocent people are too often the target of such useless health products.

The latest scam is something seemingly innocuous: water. Yes, water. Who knew water could be improved upon? Well, according to the hydration “experts,” the average bottle of water needs a lot of help. Of course, it’s going to cost you.

I’m not talking about fancy French water or sparkling seltzers. Expensive though such beverages may be, they aren’t making any wacky claims. Water, in just about any form, is beneficial for your health (not to mention necessary for life). The more you drink, the better you tend to feel.

However, there is a cottage industry of designer waters that you should be wary of. These waters typically go by names like penta-water, super oxygenated water, cell water, living water, coherent water … As the old saying goes, truth truly is stranger than fiction.

These water manufacturers all claim the same things in so many words. The basic promise is more potent, better-hydrating, “living” water. If the back of the bottle talks about cellular structures, living versus dead water, ionic processes or oxygenation, run for the nearest public water fountain. It’s quackery at its finest.

My personal favorite? One water manufacturer actually claims to use “platonic solid inversion geometry” to formulate their aqua. (Funny, I don’t remember that being covered in calculus class. I guess it’s new math.)

These water hucksters will go so far as to talk about “vibration” and “frequencies” of water. Of course, any 15-year-old in chemistry class can explain that these terms are irrelevant to drinking water.

As far as oxygenation is concerned, there’s simply no such thing. You cannot “oxygenate” water. You can certainly add extra oxygen during the filtering or bottling process, but you cannot fundamentally change the molecular structure of water. If you do, it’s no longer, well, water. Water is, of course, two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. “Adding” oxygen atoms would mean we’re no longer talking about water.

The “oxygenated” water flooding the store shelves is regular old water with a scientific-sounding name. Swirl a glass of tap water, and you’ll see some oxygenation, too.

Don’t fall for these fake health waters. Water will boost your health, but the latest incarnation will only drain your bank account.

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A Word on Cheese ‘Food’

Well, a few dozen words, which apparently still can’t compete with the number of ingredients required to make cheese “food”. When a food producer has to state the obvious, I get concerned. I start thinking about lobbies, factories, manufacturing, chemicals, and processes – things that sounded fun on the Jetsons but have disturbing consequences in reality.

Maybe I’m easily entertained, but I get a real kick (more pain than humor, actually) from “foods” I see in the grocery store. Some days, I can’t even make it through the center aisles – it’s just too much. But even the dairy case can be a minefield of scientific stupefaction for which no chemistry refresher course could possibly prepare me. Case in point: cheese food.

When did the food supply become about food products instead of food? When did it become acceptable to label something meant for human ingestion as a “cheese food”? What’s next: milk food, beef food, and perhaps food food?
I grew up in Maine: lots of trees, animals, mountains, farms. I grew up with the knowledge that cheese was something that came from milk after some fairly simple processing. Something about Miss Moppet and curds and whey. These days, cheese “food” comes from a factory and includes things like “anhydrous milkfat”. Google at your own risk. And schools feed it to our kids, meanwhile, and feel good because there’s calcium in it!

It’s a mass-produced, centralized, chemical-laden world of cheese food we live in, Apples. I encourage you to be vigilant about eating only fresh foods that don’t need descriptions like “process” or “product” or, as if we should eat something that comes with a reminder, “food”.

Here’s some clickativity from a less-perplexed soul who took the time to explain exactly what goes into cheese “food”. Read at your discretion.

[tags] lobbies, factories, manufacturing, chemicals, processed food, mass production, cheese food, anhydrous milkfat, strange food ingredients, dairy [/tags]

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What’s Up with Denmark?

Sara here. My Danish grandmother will be horrified by this post, but in my selfless devotion to you Apples, I’m taking that risk. And so, I have to ask: What is up with Denmark? (Huh? you ask. Just go with me on this.) I’ve noticed a strange trend over the last decade. This could be my own erroneous inductive research here – in fact, I actually hope so – but the Land of Lutefisk seems strangely supportive of Big Pharma and the status quo (sorry, Grams). First, two years ago, I heard about some “landmark” studies that came out of Old Dansk announcing that there is absolutely no link between autism and vaccinations containing thimerosal (a form of mercury). Nevermind that autism rates sharply increased around the same time that vaccines started being preserved with thimerosal. Nevermind that mercury poisoning symptoms and autism symptoms are virtually indistinguishable. Now, to be fair, the mercury/autism debate is hugely controversial precisely because we don’t have a definitive answer yet. I suspect the eventual conclusion may implicate thimerosal, at least as part of the equation. But, then, there was the fish study. Once again, researchers in Denmark came up with – er, concluded – that fish oil does not help those interested in reducing their heart disease risk. The study was a review, which is right up there with questionnaires in terms of scientific accuracy. Even worse, it was a review of cohort studies (cohort studies can have major problems with causation vs. correlation). Moreover, reading the fine print (not just the abstract), what the study essentially “discovered” was that people who are at a high risk for heart problems do benefit from fish oil, while people who are at a low risk do not. Now, think about that. In other words, people who don’t have a problem will not benefit from a solution. Kind of like how my grease-cutting counter disinfectant won’t do a great job of cleaning my freshly-scrubbed counters, either. But after this study was reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, amazingly, what got media attention was that fish consumption just doesn’t help heart issues. No one got excited about the additional finding that high-risk people can help their hearts with fish oil – just 40 to 60 mg a day can help! (That’s actually okay, since there are already hundreds of rigorously-conducted studies proving fish oil is good for reducing your heart disease risk.) The lesson: Apparently, 1) Create a study following less-than-ideal methodology, 2) determine absolutely nothing from it, and 3) leave out the important part and splash the meaningless part all over the news. Hey, if it looks like a duck…it might be a Danish study. Now, since then, there have been some pro-fish studies, so I’m willing to give the motherland the benefit of the doubt. Although I have seen several other pro-dairy, pro-drug, pro-status quo studies from Denmark, I will withhold judgment until more evidence presents itself. Except, now, hot off the presses, an … Continue reading “What’s Up with Denmark?”

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