News News News
DEAD ZONES DOUBLING EVERY 10 YEARS
There are areas of the ocean floor that have so little oxygen they are killing all life that exists there. These are known as “dead zones” to ocean biologists.
These zones have been increasing in area at a rate that doubles every 10 years since the 1960’s. There are presently more than 200 dead zones ranging in size from a few square kilometers to an area larger than the State of Ohio.
Shifting currents, temperatures, and winds alter these zones so they merge into areas where life can still exist. As a result, sea creatures occasionally throw themselves out of the water in a desperate attempt to avoid suffocation.
In the Chesapeake bay area these horrific events are paradoxically known as “jubilees”. Although all of the factors present are not fully understood, the main contributor to dead zones are increasing coastal populations pouring ever larger mounts of nitrogenous pollution through sewage, pesticides, and fertilizers into the oceans. Homeowners tend to use higher levels of pesticides and fertilizers than commercial operations. (New Scientist, December 7, 2006)
THE RELATIVE VALUE SCALE SCAM
As far back as the post World war II era, doctors who performed procedures could always make more income than doctors who advised and prescribed (now known as “evaluation and management”).
Medical students clearly understand this, and many fewer students have chosen to specialize as family doctors or pediatricians than procedure oriented specialists like surgeons, radiologists and ophthalmologists.
This disparity was so obvious by the 1980’s that the fat cats created the “resource-based relative value scale” to ensure that there was an appearance of equal pay for equal work. This project was and is completely fraudulent, but demonstrates how easy it is to bamboozle doctors with mathematics.
The theory of the “relative value scale” was that there would be a single dollar factor that would be multiplied by the amount of “work” required, so everyone was justly compensated, and more students would choose primary care. This, of course, hasn’t happened and will never happen.
One reason is that the system is still fixed to favor doctors who perform procedures: the dollar factor used for procedures is on average 30% higher than the dollar factor for evaluation and management. Another suspect factor is how the “experts” judge how much “work” is involved with particular treatments.
For example, excising a one quarter inch benign lesion is considered to be as much “work” (in relative value “units”) as a half hour visit where a fairly complete history is taken, several body systems are examined, and the physician then creates a plan of evaluation and treatment for a moderately complex problem.
In actuality, small surgeries like this are much easier, take less time and require less mental effort and training.
Procedures generate a lot more money for the fat cats and the hospitals, and with not so subtle pressures inducing physicians to avoid primary care and do as many procedures as you can, we can expect higher recommendations for unproven and risky procedures. (Family Practice Management April 2007 page 13-15)
WHEN FISH DON’T SMELL
Just as for us, an acute sense of smell is essential for fish. When impaired, it interferes with their ability to detect predators and food. Small concentrations of metals such as copper are enough to disrupt this sense.
Copper, zinc, and other metals are commonly part of the runoff pollution from habitations, mining operations, and industrial activity. Studies at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle indicate that as little as 2 parts per billion of copper in the water is enough to “turn off” the salmon’s sense of smell. The U.S. E.P.A. has set the “safe” level for copper at up to 13 parts per billion.
Research such as this may be relevant for people: The makers of the cold remedy, Zycam, which contains zinc, recently settled out of court for $12 million with people who reported losing their sense of smell after using this product. The levels and effects of trace metals in our water are unknown and mostly unstudied. (New Scientist April 7, 2007 p 12)
MS & MONTH OF BIRTH
An analysis of over 42,000 Canadian, British, Danish and Swedish multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers has found that, in the Northern hemisphere, being born in May is linked with an increased risk of suffering MS later in life, while being born in November carries the lowest risk.
There is no clear explanation for this phenomenon but researchers suspect that complex interactions between genes and the environment before or shortly after birth are likely to be responsible. (BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38301.686030.63).
THE WHITE PLAGUE
Tuberculosis was once so widespread and deadly it killed one out of five people between 1600 to 1900 in Europe. At one point it seemed as if modern drug treatment would be an answer, but it is now apparent that drug resistance will return this ancient enemy to its place among the major causes of death in the 21st century.
Easily transmitted by coughing, XDR-TB (for “extensively drug resistant” TB) can be found worldwide and it spread to the United States last year. Presently about a third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis with about 10% infectious at any time. As XDR-TB spreads, it will create a public health nightmare of monumental proportions, far more serious than bird flu or bioterrorism.
Even more alarming, sporadic cases of completely resistant TB have also been found. Obviously, such cases are untreatable and cannot be made uninfectious. (New Scientist March 24, 2007 p. 44-47)
TEA TREE AND LAVENDER OIL MAY STIMULATE BREAST TISSUE
Three boys ages 4, 7, and 10 developed breast tissue enlargement after “regular” exposure to tea tree and lavender oils in soaps and skin lotion. Despite normal hormonal levels on testing, the enlargement subsided after discontinuation of the products for several months.
It is unclear by the laboratory tests whether the effect is through estrogenic stimulation or some other mechanism. (N. Eng Jour. Med. 2007:356:479-485)
MEAT, FAT & DIABETES
Women who eat red meat and processed meats (bacon, hot dogs etc.) over a prolonged period are significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. (Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:2235-2240).
Another recently identified risk factor for diabetes is abdominal fat, and waist measurement is therefore a more reliable predictor of diabetes risk than weight. Men with waists of more than 40 inches and women with 35 inches or more have a dramatically greater risk of diabetes, and the increased risk is still significant with waist measurements of 37 inches and 32 inches respectively. (National Obesity Forum, October 2004).
STRESS & DYSMENORRHEA
In a study report that will come as no surprise to practitioners of Chinese medicine, is has been demonstrated that women who report higher stress levels are significantly more likely to suffer from painful periods than women who report lower levels of stress. (Occup Environ Med 2004; 61: 1021-1026).
UPDATE ON GARDISIL
Suspicion that long term risks for the HPV vaccine are being underplayed as mentioned in the March newsletter seems justified by some evidence that infertility might be a possible outcome. A local physician, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, has questioned the wisdom of mandated vaccination programs for some time and has more information on this issue at her website. The first bill mandating vaccination for all female children in Ohio did not pass. (LBG)
BREASTFEEDING PROTECTS AGAINST RA
Women who breastfeed their babies have a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than those who don’t, and the risk decreases the longer breastfeeding is carried out.
Data from 120,000 subjects enrolled in the prospective Nurses’ Health Study found a 10% risk reduction in women who breastfed for 4 to 11 months, rising to 20% for 12 to 23 months and 50% for women who breastfed for more than 24 months of their life.
The study also found that women with very irregular menstrual cycles had a 40% greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and that this level of risk was not reduced by taking the contraceptive pill which can regulate periods. (Arthritis & Rheumatism,Vol. 50, Issue 11: 3458-3467).
CHOCOLATE & COUGHS
Theobromine, an ingredient of chocolate, appears to be a more effective cough remedy than codeine, the current standard cough medicine. Theobromine was nearly a third more effective in reducing coughing and appears to have none of the side-effects of codeine such as drowsiness or constipation. (New Scientist November 22, 2004).
COMPUTERS & THE EYES
Long term and constant use of computers appears to be linked to the development of visual field abnormalities and glaucoma, especially in short-sighted people. (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2004;58:1021-1027).
PRAYER & IVF UPDATE
In 2002, a study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine indicated that women who were prayed for by Christian prayer groups (who did not know them personally) achieved a higher rate of pregnancy after IVF than women who were not prayed for. This study has now been largely discredited since one of its authors was jailed for conspiracy, fraud and theft.
RISK FACTORS FOR CHRONIC FATIGUE
A study of over 16,000 adults born in April 1970 and followed up at 5, 10, 16, and 29-30 years has found that the risk of developing myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome was significantly greater in females, in those with high socioeconomic status in childhood and in those who had a longstanding medical condition in childhood that considerably affected home and/or school life.
A parent’s report of a child playing sport in his or her spare time significantly decreased the risk of later CFS/ME. There were no significant associations between maternal or child psychological factors and risk of the disease. (BMJ 2004;329:941).
"What Were They Thinking?" Department
100 MILLION DOLLAR TARGET FOR TERRORISTS?
Washington Hospital Center wants taxpayers to buy them a new hundred million dollar giant emergency room so that if "terrorists attack Washington, D.C." and local hospitals and their ER's are overwhelmed, "ER One" will somehow "remain functional and help hold the system together amid any disaster"
Any disaster? Help hold the "system" together? Even if everyone agrees that the nation's primary concern is the safety of Washington, D.C., and its "system", is ER One really an effective solution?
According to American Medical News of March 5th, 2007, "Its proposed location is close enough to treat the victims of a disaster in Washington but far enough away from the city center to avoid becoming an immediate casualty"
Even if you believe that planners in our nation's capital know how and where disaster will strike, and how it will affect the complex infrastructure of a community, this project still strains credulity.
Assuming that the roads are still passable and that the city is not on "lockdown" or quarantine, patients will be transported to ER One (if the ambulances and helicopters are still functioning and can get safely in and out of the red zone) and "processed in much the same way as airline passengers". Perhaps we could see some evidence of how well a new process such as this works in practice before we pay the bill.
As usual, the important question centers on what needs to be done rather than where something should be built. Who is going to staff this giant ER, and what will it be doing when there isn't a disaster, besides costing a fortune to maintain and protect?
Despite having "blast barriers, shatter resistant glass and drywall that will help stop shrapnel", there is no reason to believe that this facility can be made safer than, say, a military barricks or a federal building. These targets have still been damaged or destroyed, domestically and abroad. "help(ing) to stop shrapnel" is a pretty vague level of safety, and not too reassuring.
How about a "suicide bomber" attack inside? Or, a direct attack on the hospital's water, air or power? How about computer viruses shutting down their high technology systems? There are thousands of vulnerabilities in modern hospitals, most of which barely function adequately under non disaster conditions.
Where will the doctors and nurses come from? What if they, too, are incapacitated or killed by the "combination of conventional explosives and a biological agent" that the planners of this boondoggle emergency room envision?
Are there even enough doctors and nursed trained in wartime injuries, emergency surgery, and bioterrorism agents in Washington, D.C. to staff such a facility? In the whole country? If they aren't already at the hospital, they might have a little problem getting to work if there is civil chaos. In just three or four days, New Orleans' infrastructure and civil order disintegrated.
Dealing with multiple victims is a high intensity effort. After 8 hours of work, these people will start to tire. After 24 hours, they will be toast. Where are their replacements to come from? The effects of natural disasters can last months or years: the effects of biologic agents or atomic weapons might be decades or centuries. Foresight and long term planning has not been a feature of U.S. military or disaster planning.
We don't need hundred million dollar buildings as much as we need skilled workers, and I'm not seeing hundreds of millions of dollars going into training doctors, nurses, and other support personnel. You know the reason. Investing in people takes time and is expensive, and it's harder to siphon off profits. A building looks pretty and someone's name can go on it.
A sure sign that ER One is fat cat approved is the sort of quote we see from career bureaucrats like former Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson: "It is arguably one of the smartest investments that Congress could make, and it deserves to be approved"
An investment? Is that what this is? Don't expect any rational evaluation from Congress, where hundreds of millions of dollars disappear into ratholes every session.
Centralizing resources is always a losing proposition tactically. Much better to have many dispersed facilities that can act quickly and locally, without centralized red tape, to deal with a disaster, than to put all the eggs in one basket. But, a rational plan would not favor the fat cats. Scatter 25 half-million dollar M.A.S.H.-type and stepdown units around metro DC and the chances of timely and appropriate response to a mass casualty situation would be much better.
And, you will still have enough money left over for 175 more in other cities.