News News News
BIOMETRIC IDENTITY CARDS AND THE POLICE STATE
For medical and "anti-terrorist" reasons, the United Kingdom has a plan to issue identity cards to all British citizens beginning in 2009.
In February of 2007 Tony Blair noted that one advantage of the new document is that police will be able to compare fingerprints at any crime scene with those on file, effectively making the population of Great Britain "a national suspect database", according to Ross Anderson, a computer security engineer at the University of Cambridge.
The chances of misuse of any national database are high, considering how easily and often data is stolen from credit card companies, hospitals, and employee laptops.
In addition, it is not widely known that the belief that an individual’s fingerprints are unique is a myth. Fingerprint evidence has proven unreliable in a number of high profile cases (New Scientist Sept 17, 2005 p.6) so when "the Home Office starts matching thousands of prints a week against a database of 60 million people, the number of misidentifications will become substantial" says Anderson.
The dangers of a medical and biometric database in the U.S. are equally foreseeable. (New Scientist Feb 24, 2007 p. 5)
GLOBAL WARMING DELUSION
The 800 pound gorilla at the global warming conference is the airline industry. Of course, the Kyoto protocol doesn’t cover airlines.
Funny how the fat cats like Al Gore don’t mention that air travel produces vast amounts of greenhouse gases, and does it where it can do the most damage: in the upper atmosphere.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims that pollution at jet altitude is up to four times as damaging to the environment as the same amount released at chimney and ground level.
Shutting down the space shuttle program and throttling back on airline travel is probably the most important step that will produce measurable change, but this would pinch the fat cats too much.
So much easier to sell hybrid vehicles, ethanol based fuel, and other feel good non-solutions that add $$$ to the fat cat cash flow.
A single fight across the Atlantic uses about 15,000 gallons of kerosene, more fuel than an average driver uses in 50 years of driving.
130 million tons of aviation kerosene are burned very year, and the annual growth rate of air travel is expected to be 5.2% for passengers, and 6.2% for cargo. (New Scientist Feb 24, 2007 p 33)
MUSIC, THE FOOD OF SLEEP
Older people suffering from difficulty sleeping experienced a 35% improvement after listening to soft music for 45 minutes before bedtime.
Compared to controls, the 60 to 83 year-olds in the music group experienced better and longer night time sleep and less dysfunction during the day. (Journal of Advanced Nursing, February 2005).
YOGA FOR HYPERTENSION
Most studies on yoga and hypertension have been uncontrolled, meaning that the studies don’t include a "no treatment" group.
These studies have generally suggested that practicing yoga asanas lowers blood pressure, but the medical establishment prefers controlled studies.
A recent study in India comparing yoga asanas, medication, and no treatment groups demonstrated an impressive 33 mm reduction in systolic pressure in the yoga group, 24mm in the drug group, and 4 mg in the control group.
An earlier study in England and a pilot unpublished study from 2007 at the University of Pennsylvania have produced similar findings.
It is important to note that in the Indian study, the participants performed 6 hours of yoga a week. Most U.S. patients will probably not be able to handle this level of commitment. The Indian study also lasted for only 11 weeks.
Yoga is based on one of six systems of Indian philosophy that have been transmitted orally for generations. Patanjali, the "father" of Ayurvedic medicine, wrote a treatise called the Yoga Sutras in which he formalized this discipline. The word "yoga" originates from the Sanskrit for "union" and aims to harmonize mind, body, and spirit.
Traditional yoga incorporates the 8 limbs as set out by Patanjali: yamas and niyamas (moral and ethical restraints), asanas (postures), dharana (concentration), dhyhana (meditation), and samadhi (self-realization). (The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, vol. 9, iss.10: October 2007)
AMERICAN MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT SLOWLY AWAKENS TO WATER DISASTER
As indicated in previous newsletters ( August 2006, March, May, and January 2007) our water supply has become contaminated with hundreds of toxic industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals while regulatory agencies sleep.
The medical establishment is now beginning to become aware of the dangers of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in water, food containers, and dental sealants.
The October 5, 2007 JAMA summarizes some of the findings of a consensus panel that examined more than 700 studies and found that "the molecular mechanism if BPA action in humans and animals is essentially identical."
The BPA doses that have been linked with health problems in animals are actually lower than the levels of free biologically active BPA that have been documented in human blood.
And, according to Frederick S. vom Saal, Ph.D., at the University of Missouri-Columbia "We’re talking about levels of potency that are absolutely equivalent to estradiol", which is the most potent estrogen in the human body.
Serious adverse developmental, sexual, neurologic, and endocrine effects have already been documented in human beings.
UPDATE ON THE COST OF ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS
In a previous News item, I estimated the price for the software, which turns out to be pretty accurate. However, this cost does not include practice and lab software, hardware, servers, training, or support. Medical Economics in its October 19th 2007 issue has reported the true costs of establishing electronic medical records through obtaining quotes from five different vendors.
When these are included, the total cost for the first year becomes $138,966 to $265,703 for a single primary practitioner and four midlevel providers!
This is an enormous expense with no proven benefit. There will also be ongoing expenses for support and "upgrades" as long as the practice stays solvent, and the monkeywork to keep these complex programs and their hardware working will waste valuable time and limited resources.
Reliability is also an issue with many of these systems, as is the disruption when vendors inevitably go out of business.
But, as previously predicted, this proposed "upgrade" for our medical system is not going to go away as it ensures profits and market domination for the fat cats.
THE ONE METER WAISTLINE TEST
It’s a simple test; people with a waistline of 36 inches or more are at serious risk of insulin resistance, an early step in the development of diabetes and heart disease.
When Swedish researchers investigated 2,746 healthy male and female volunteers aged between 18-72 years with body mass indexes from 18-60 kg/m2 and waist circumferences from 65-150 cm, they found waist circumference was a very strong independent predictor of insulin sensitivity.
They say this measure now replaces body mass index, waist: hip ratio, and other measures of total body fat as a predictor of insulin resistance. (BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38429.473310.AE).
CHINESE OBESITY EPIDEMIC
According to China’s Ministry of Health, 30% of the population in big cities is now classified as overweight, compared to 21% in 1992. Meat consumption has doubled since the 1980s, and with many workers both better paid and short of time, food is increasingly consumed from fast food outlets and canteens, rather than made at home. (China Daily).
A recent study of obesity in China has reported that 137 million Chinese are now overweight, and a further 18 million are obese. A further 64 million suffer from metabolic syndrome (syndrome X) which is defined as having three of the following symptoms: a large waistline, high blood pressure, raised insulin levels, excess body weight and abnormal cholesterol level. (Lancet 2005; 365: 1398-405).
OBESITY IN THE UNITED STATES AND UK
A horrifying graphic illustrating the enormous increase in overweight Americans can be found at CNN's site. Vast increases in the rates of diabetes, heart disease, and joint and bone problems are already evident. Great Britain is also suffering from an obesity epidemic among children and adults.
The prevalence of obesity in children aged 2 to 10 in the UK increased from 9.9% in 1995 to 13.7% in 2003 and the total number of overweight and obese children rose from 22.7% to 27.7% in the same period. The greatest rise was in the 8 to 10 year age group. Children in low-income families and those living in deprived areas were more likely to be obese, as were those whose parents were overweight or obese. (BMJ 2005;330:1044).
OBESITY & HEADACHE
People who are obese are almost twice as likely to suffer from chronic daily headache as normal weight people, according to a study of 31,000 adults. Obesity, for the purposes of the study, was defined as a body mass index of 30 and above.
Overall, 3.8% of the study subjects suffered chronic daily headache, but this rose to 5% if subjects were overweight and 7% if they were obese. The severity of the headaches was also greater and caused more loss of work days and impaired social activities. (American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, April 2005).
OBESITY & UNDERWEIGHT BOTH HARMFUL
Research carried out at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into the relationship between body-mass index (BMI) and mortality in 30,000 Americans has shown that being overweight (BMI of 25 to less than 30) is not associated with any increase in mortality.
Obesity (BMI of over 30), however, was linked to an estimated 112,000 deaths nationwide, whilst being underweight (BMI of less than 18.5) was linked to an estimated 34,000 deaths. One possible conclusion of course is that the definition of ‘normal’ BMI has been pitched too low. (JAMA. 2005;293:1861-1867).
EXERCISE HELPS DEPRESSION
Aerobic exercise, at what is known as the public health recommended dose (17.5/kcal/kg/week, equivalent to 3 to 5 sessions of 30 minutes each a week) can reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression by nearly 50%. (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 28, Issue 1, January 2005, Pages 1-8).
THE INEXORABLE RISE OF ALLERGIES
When researchers compared blood samples taken from 513 middle-aged men between 1996-98 with samples taken from 513 men in 1975-76 and from 513 men in 1981-82, they found an average increase of allergic reactions of 4.5% a decade.
The blood samples were tested with Phadiatop - a standard preparation of 11 common allergens such as grass pollen, pet dander (skin flakes) and house dust mite.
They also found that there was no tendency for atopy to decline as men got older (as has previously been suggested) and they found no link between atopy and previous (childhood) infections.
They do suggest, however, that atopy is higher in younger men, suggesting that something new is happening to men’s bodies. (BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38435.582975.AE ).
CHINESE BEARS STILL SUBJECTED TO ‘BARBARIC CRUELTY’
According to Hong Kong’s Animals Asia Foundation, bear bile for use in Chinese medicine is currently extracted from about 7,000 bears on more than 200 farms in China.
Despite years of attempts by authorities to stem the practice, Animals Asia says that "Bear farmers are exploiting, barbarically treating, and killing China's ... highly endangered species".
Many bears still have catheters surgically implanted into their gall bladders although this method of bile extraction has been banned. But even an option believed by authorities to be humane, the "free-dripping" technique, causes many health problems as it involves opening holes in their abdomens.
"There exists no humane method of bile extraction from bears on farms in China - and there never can be. The government is being deceived by those who are driven by profit alone - and have put economics ahead of ethics" says Jill Robinson of Animals Asia.
ALZHEIMER'S DRUGS MAKE PATIENTS WORSE
Quetiapine (Seroquel), a drug commonly used in nursing homes to treat agitation and related symptoms in people with Alzheimer's disease actually worsens patients' illness, speeding up their rate of decline significantly, according to a recent study.
Alzheimer patients given a placebo showed little change in symptoms, but those given quetiapine showed marked deterioration of memory and other higher brain functions (cognitive decline).(Link to report).
"What Were They Thinking?" Department
SUPREME COURT UNDERMINES PATIENT PHYSICIAN RELATIONSHIPS WITH TROUBLING PRECEDENT
Recent decisions by the Supreme Court represent the continuing trend of unacceptable government interference with the practice of medicine.
There is no constitutional support for this type of meddling with the freedom of patients to choose a course of treatment proposed by their physician, or, indeed, to refuse to consent to treatment.
These decisions are part of a larger problem, where all three branches of government have endorsed unjustified intrusion into the physician-patient relationship.
Whether the reason is social engineering, power grabbing, or merely the usual corruption of government function by special interest groups, legislators, law enforcement, and the judiciary have progressively worked to undermine physician and patient options in the United States.
From Federal to local levels, these ill conceived impediments have added to the expense of medical care and reduced the efficiency and responsiveness of practitioners.
And, every time third parties are successful in their takeover of medical prerogatives, it emboldens them to attempt even more outrageous interference.
In a recent decision (Gonzales vs. Carhart) regarding legislative action to limit some surgical options in pregnant women, the majority of the Court has indicated their support for the concept that whenever "there is not enough scientific evidence to show that the method is medically necessary", any procedure can be banned. (American Medical News May 7, 2007, p. 1)
Under this vague criteria, the vast majority of Western clinical practices could be legislated out of existence with the blessing of the court system.
It is perhaps redundant to point out that this is also true for almost every technique and treatment of every traditional Oriental medical system as well as any treatment that is not politically, economically, or scientifically mainstream enough for the lawyers of the legislature, executive branch, or court systems at federal, state, or local levels.
As the list grows, physicians will be faced with the prospect of criminal penalties and imprisonment for practicing medicine, creating a cruel quandary for those of good character who would place their patient's welfare above that of the State.
Another terrible precedent created by the Supreme Court involves their ruling earlier this year that doctors can be blocked from prescribing marijuana for patients suffering from pain caused by cancer or other serious illnesses, and that patients with these disastrous problems can be prosecuted.
The reasoning here is purely political, as scientific evidence clearly supports the effectiveness of this plant material in the treatment of pain and some of the effects of chemotherapy, and the risk-benefit profile of marijuana is comparable to other widely used drugs.
Career politicians and lawyers have no business or expertise in limiting or defining the practice of medicine, and must be opposed whenever they overstep their mandate.
However, the present disorganized state of actual practitioners combined with the feckless leadership of "organized medicine" has invited ever increasing encroachment onto the privacy rights of American patients and physicians.