Prescription Drugs & FDA

The side effects of dangerous prescription drugs are a harsh reality of today's medical world. Get up-to-the-minute news on the FDA, prescription drugs and safe, natural options to get and stay healthy on the NorthStar blog on prescription drugs and FDA issues.

  1. Urinary tract infections / superbug threat continues to grow

    The superbug problem didn’t exactly sneak up on us. The writing has been on the wall for years.

    In fact, I first started warning Guide to Good Health readers about antibiotic resistance at least six years ago. Heck, even the mainstream media began to catch on a couple of years back.

    So, you’d think we’d be starting to get a handle on the issue by now. Sadly, that’s not the case. Not by a long shot, according to a recent study published in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control.

    According to researchers antibiotic resistant infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), are actually on the RISE.

    It’s yet another case of mainstream medicine doing too little and doing it too late. Instead of dialing back on their overprescribing, many docs’ reaction to the superbug news was to simply switch from their now mostly-useless go-to antibiotics to different antibiotics.

    And I’m sure you can guess what happened next. These bad bugs, many of them forms of E. coli, are now becoming resistant to even more commonly prescribed antibiotics.

    Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection here in the U.S., with about 8.1 million people visiting the doctor every year looking for some relief. But these misery-causing bugs are now not only resistant to most antibiotics in the penicillin and cephalosporin families, they’ve also become highly resistant to some of the most commonly used drugs for treating urinary infections Ciprofloxacin and Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole.

    The best way to deal with a urinary tract infection is, obviously, to not get one in the first place. I shared some specific advice on how to UTI-proof yourself a few years back, including some dietary guidelines and supplement tips. If you missed that issue, click here to catch up on the NorthStar Blog.

    And if you’re already suffering with one of these nasty infections, don’t turn to antibiotics first. They likely won’t knock out your infection anymore anyway, but they CAN destroy your good gut bugs, leaving you wide open for secondary infections.  Instead, consider giving D-mannose a try.

    D-mannose is the ingredient found in cranberries that naturally fights off infections. And while you may have heard some conflicting reports over the years about cranberries and UTIs, I can assure you that this powerhouse can knock out just about any bladder infection that’s caused by E. coli.

    You‘ll find D-mannose online and in most natural food stores. Drink a half to a full teaspoonful dissolved in water every half an hour or so for two days.  If you don’t see an improvement after forty-eight hours, THEN make an appointment to see your doc.

  2. Is your mix of meds causing dangerous drug interactions?

    Getting older sure isn’t for sissies.

    Your hair starts getting thinner, your middle starts getting thicker, and some days you wake up with your joints feeling stiffer than a frozen fish stick in the middle of February.

    Even worse, around 75 percent of older adults will also end up facing not just one, but multiple chronic medical conditions.

    And of course, if you’re going to a conventional medicine doctor, you know what that means; drugs, drugs, and MORE drugs and possible drug interactions. Is it really any wonder that with so many different meds (and their side effects) on board, you can start to feel like your head is spinning?

    But now a new study—published in the journal PLOS One—finds that many of us have to worry about a heck of a lot more than just those “standard” side effects.

    Docs ignore dangers of prescription drug interactions

    Shockingly, nearly 23 percent of older Americans are being prescribed drugs that directly conflict with each other. In other words, there’s a very good chance that one (or more) of the drugs you’re taking could cause dangerous drug interactions and make one of your conditions worse!

    For example, if you’re diagnosed with heart disease your doc will likely prescribe you a beta blocker to lower your blood pressure. But if you also suffer from COPD that beta blocker can suddenly become a BIG problem. You see, beta blockers can cause airway resistance. And I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that anything that monkeys with respiration is a real no-no for COPD patients.

    But believe it or not, that’s not even the worst of it.

    In a case where competing prescriptions exist, you’d expect swift action to correct the potentially dangerous…or even deadly…drug interactions, right?

    Well, don’t hold your breath. It turns out that only in an appallingly low 16 percent of the cases, are changes made to the prescribed treatments.

    Meaning, of course, that 84 percent of patients are left to deal with whatever the consequences are of what the study’s authors quaintly refer to as “therapeutic competition.” (I don’t know about you, but when a doctor chooses to simply ignore the fact that his treatments are making me worse, I’m more inclined to call it malpractice. But hey, maybe that’s just me.)

    1 in 5 are prescribed conflicting drugs

    With one-fifth of older Americans receiving conflicting meds for common conditions including diabetes, COPD, dementia, heart failure, hypertension, osteoarthritis, coronary heart disease, and high cholesterol, the odds are good that you—or someone else you care about—will one day become a victim of this accident-waiting-to-happen practice.

    Yet it sounds like one of the study’s authors, David Lee, assistant professor at Oregon State University, would like us to give docs a bit of slack. According to Lee, “Many physicians are aware of these concerns, but there isn’t much information available on what to do.”

    Um, I have an idea, Dr. Lee.

    Call me crazy, but how about asking docs to apply a little common sense to FIX the problem?!

    For example, if you find out your heart patient also has COPD, don’t stick your head in the sand. Instead, prescribe a beta blocker that doesnt have respiratory side effects. Or, better yet, look for a non-drug alternative.

    (Hint, the mineral magnesium has been shown to naturally improve lung function, and black tea, vitamin D, and even dark chocolate have all been shown to help with high blood pressure.)

    But judging by that lousy 16 percent of people whose docs actually made changes, it’s pretty clear that common sense is in incredibly short supply these days. So it looks like, once again, your best bet is going to be to fend for yourself.

    Start by making sure your doctor takes your full medical history before he prescribes a single treatment. If he refuses, and tries to dash off a prescription and rush you out of his office in fifteen minutes instead, find yourself a new doc.

    I would suggest an integrative or holistic physician whose goal will be to get you OFF as many meds as possible by targeting your medical problems at their heart, rather than just treating single symptoms.

  3. Azodicarbonamide sandwiches for dinner?

    Back away from that bagel and put down that panini. I have some news you need to know BEFORE you take one more bite. Nearly 500 bread-based foods found lining supermarket shelves—or being served in restaurants all over the United States—could contain a potentially hazardous industrial chemical that’s used in plastic products. Azodicarbonamide (ADA) is typically used to “fluff up” the plastics found in products like flip flops and yoga matts. But now it’s turning up in common foods you likely eat every single day including breads, bagels, pizzas, buns and pastries. And do you want to know the worst part? It didn’t get there by accident. Somehow food manufactures figured out that plastics aren’t the only thing this creepy chemical can add some elasticity to—it works on bread dough too. If you’re wondering what the clowns at the FDA have to say about this, well, you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that it’s totally cool with them if manufactures want to dump this petroleum byproduct into your food. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says there’s plenty of evidence that ADA can induce asthma, respiratory issues, and skin problems in those who work with the toxic chemical. Australia and some European countries have already banned the stuff. But if you don’t live in a country with a ban the best way to avoid ADA is to buy only organic products from sources you trust, or make your own.
  4. Prostate health: Don’t become the next victim

    You know what the definition of insanity is, right? It’s doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. And by that definition, all too often the mainstream approach to medicine strays across the line into insanity. There’s no better example of this than its treatment of prostate health and prostate cancer. Let’s face it, no matter how much of a stoic you are, when you hear the word cancer come out of your doctor’s mouth, it’s like someone dropped a bomb on you. Your head starts spinning and alarm bells begin blaring at full blast. Trust me, I get it. But, the problem is, when it comes to prostate cancer, mainstream medicine has hijacked this natural fear response and turned it into a multi-billion-dollar industry. And countless men are paying a price that goes far beyond dollars and cents (hmm, or maybe that ought to be “dollars and sense”?).

    Impotent and in diapers

    As I’ve explained before, you’re far more likely to die WITH prostate cancer than FROM it. Most prostate cancers are incredibly slow growing, and aren’t a threat to your life. Well, that is until you become the next victim of unnecessarily aggressive mainstream therapies. And becoming a victim is far too easy because, let’s face it, once you hear those terrible words “You’ve got cancer,” one of your first coherent thoughts is likely to be, “What can I do to get rid of it?!?” That’s why I’ve never been a fan of yearly PSA testing. Too many hasty and poor decisions follow in its wake. The twin epidemics of over-screening and over-diagnosis have ruined far too many lives. I shudder to think how many men have been left impotent or in diapers because of a slow-growing tumor that they may never have even known existed for the rest of their long and fulfilling lives. Statistically speaking, by the time we hit fifty, half of us will be experiencing some type of prostate health problems. If you’re finding it hard to sleep through the night without a potty run… or if you’ve taken to mapping out all the rest spots before a road trip these days… you might already be in that group. If you’re lucky enough to reach eighty… and as a Guide to Good Health reader I’m sure you will… then it’s practically a done deal that you’ll be sharing your life with an enlarged prostate.

    Support your prostate health with supplements

    But I’ve got great news! You DON’T have to just grimace and bear it while you make yet another mad dash to the can. There IS another way, and it doesn’t involve risky surgeries or sickening rounds of radiation. If you’re not already experiencing prostate health problems, you may be able to head them off at the pass. And if your prostate has begun to make its presence known, you can tackle those annoying symptoms with some super support brought to you courtesy of nature. A mix of just the right herbs and supplements may even assure you of never again missing the ending of a movie, or having to deal with your buddies ribbing when you have to holdup the poker game for yet another bathroom break. Ready to learn the “secret formula” for a healthy and happy prostate? My team at NorthStar Nutritionals helped me create a killer infographic detailing the 10 Best Supplements for Prostate Health that you NEED to know. Click here to find out what they are. (I bet you’ll be surprised by a couple of them.)
  5. Are you trading pain for a frightening addiction to Zohydro?

    It’s set to hit shelves this month—a new pain reliever called Zohydro. And if you suffer from any sort of chronic pain, it’s entirely possible that your doctor will be writing you a prescription for it sometime soon. If he does, I want you to follow my simple two-step plan. Step 1:  Hightail it over to the trashcan. Step 2:  Rip up the prescription and toss it in. And if that sounds just a bit melodramatic, trust me when I tell you it’s not. Despite its upbeat sounding name—and its golden promises of pain relief—Zohydro lights up so many warning signs that it’s practically glowing. The drug is yet another addition to a long line of prescription opioid analgesics that seem almost tailor-made to lead to, and support, addiction. But this time, with the drug being reportedly five times as powerful as any of the others we’ve seen, the threat may even be worse. An unprecedented epidemic of addiction could be lurking right around the corner.

    Opioids kill more than heroin and cocaine combined

    To get an idea of just how bad things could get we only have to take a look at another opioid—one that you probably even recognize by name—OxyContin. ‘Oxy’ hit the market in 1996, and with millions spent on aggressively marketing the drug, sales soon shot through the roof, and it quickly became the biggest superstar in Perdue Pharma’s stable of drugs. By some accounts, it was responsible for up to 80 percent of the company’s profits, at one point. But at the same time Oxy’s star was rising, a black market for desperately addicted “junkies” (you know, folks like your Aunt Ethel, that sweet young man who cuts your grass in the summer, and Pastor Bob) practically sprung up overnight. OxyContin, and others opioids like it, turned out to have the potential to be highly addictive. Lots of normal, upstanding, every-day citizens become hopelessly hooked on the drugs, and accidental overdose isn’t all that uncommon. In fact, opioids kill more people every year than heroin and cocaine combined. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from prescription opioid overdoses have skyrocketed, more than quadrupling since the late 90s. OxyContin abuse didn’t start to level out until the manufacturer finally created a “tamper-proof” version in 2010 that turned the once highly crushable pills—perfect for snorting or injecting—into a gummy mess when crushed.  Now, some of those same “non-traditional” addicts have been forced to turn to other drugs like heroine to get through the day. Imagine Pastor Bob walking the back alleys of your home town, desperately looking for some relief, and you’ll start to get an idea of just how bad an addiction like this can be. And that brings me back to that new drug Zohydro, which is not only five times more powerful than Oxy, but will also hit the market in an easily crushable tablet, making it potentially ripe for abuse.

    Devastating prediction:  “It will kill people…”

    I’m far from the only one sounding the alarm here. According to a recent report on CNN, a group of over forty health care, consumer, and addiction treatment groups have banded together to strongly urge the FDA to revoke its approval of the drug. One of the signers of the letter to the FDA, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of the advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, painted a devastatingly clear picture of the near future when he told CNN, “It will kill people as soon as it’s released.” Last year a group made up of 29 attorney generals sent a similar request to the FDA, and members of Congress have even asked the agency to reconsider its approval of the drug. So now you can understand my concern, and why I’ve advised you to toss that Zohydro prescription. Otherwise, you may end up trading in your pain for a frightening drug addiction… or worse! Instead of taking a heavy duty, potentially-addictive, prescription pain med, find yourself a holistic doctor that can create a personalized plan to help you get rid of your chronic pain once and for all. Meanwhile, safe and natural topical pain relievers like capsaicin and menthol can speed some much-needed pain relief right to where it hurts. While proven chronic-pain-relieving acupuncture or physical therapies… like spinal manipulation… could help in the long term.
  6. The feds make the flu shot funny

    I subscribe to the FDA’s Consumer Updates by email. And let me tell you, if you don’t you’re definitely missing out. These things really ought to come with their own laugh tracks, because they sure do keep me in stitches. Their latest gem is a real knee slapper. It’s entitled, “It's Still Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Vaccine.” That’s right my friend, if you somehow managed to dodge all the flu shot hysteria and hype this past fall never fear, the FDA says it’s still not too late to go get your jab. Phew, I’m sure that “news” is a load off exactly zero shoulders. Yes, here we are in February and the feds are STILL pulling out the pompoms and leading the cheer for their best buddies in Big Pharma. You see, according to the knuckleheads at the FDA the flu season peaks in January and February and can last well into May. But wait, they’re not done ramping up the fear yet. The feds say that while the flu typically hits children and seniors the hardest, sometimes a flu virus makes its way around that affects young and middle aged folks, too. So did you catch that? Everyone… that means children, young people, middle aged people, AND seniors… should fear the flu and obediently line up to get those shots. Of course, the only trouble with this fear mongering is that there’s no real evidence that the flu shot is even very effective, besides the fact that the vaccine is a total shot-in-the-dark guess every year, the numbers just don’t pan out. Even if they somehow manage to get it right, there’s no guarantee the vaccine will be effective. In fact, some studies find that, even when the vaccine matches the flu bug that’s circulating, forty to fifty percent of the vaccinated may still get sick. And don’t even get me started on the potential side effects that, ironically, sound an awful lot LIKE the flu you were trying to avoid in the first place. To make matters worse there’s even evidence that the yearly flu vaccine could leave you MORE vulnerable to other strains of the flu like the potentially deadly H1N1 flu. Stick with common sense measures and tried-and-true immune boosters like zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D instead. Click here to check out more of my advice on immune-proofing your system.
  7. BPA affects our health at much lower doses than previously thought.

    A new study has found that BPA (bisphenol A) —the nasty chemical that I’ve been warning you about for YEARS now—is affecting us at much lower doses than previously thought.  Well, I should say at lower doses than the mainstream drones thought. In case you’re not familiar with BPA… or it’s potentially devastating side effects… let me bring you up to speed with a recap. When you open up that can of cranberry sauce today to serve with Thanksgiving dinner you’ll be serving up more than just those jellied cranberries. It will come with an unwanted side dish of a creepy chemical that’s used to make plastics called bisphenol A (BPA).

    BPA wreaks havoc with your hormones

    BPA is found in all kinds of plastic materials including water bottles, cash register receipts, and even the inside lining of food cans. It’s what’s known as an endocrine disruptor and it can wreak havoc with your hormones. Even worse, your body has a heck of a time telling BPA apart from estrogen. As you can imagine, this dual disaster can really do a number on your health, kicking off all kinds of unwanted side effects. And the higher the BPA exposure, the greater the hormone disruption is. With most US adults getting conservatively nearly 5 micrograms a day, and our friends elsewhere getting even more than that, it’s a catastrophe that hasn’t been waiting to happen. Men exposed to high levels of the chemical may have significant erectile dysfunction issues as a result. (Learn how BPA could result in ED on the NorthStar blog.) And for women, excess estrogen in the bloodstream is a big risk factor when it comes to breast cancer.

    Creepy chemical drives up your disease risks

    We’ve known for a long time now that high BPA levels in the body are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. One Yale study linked the chemical to neurological problems in animals, and found a connection between BPA and disruptions in brain cells linked to memory, learning and mood. And some scientists suspect that the chemical may be playing a key role in the obesity epidemic as well as the troubling turn towards early puberty for young girls. In other words, BPA is nothing but bad news. And yet the yahoos at the FDA refuse to admit that the chemical is even a significant threat.  In fact, beyond finally banning it in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012 (a good, but FAR too late move), the Big Business loving Feds haven’t done a darn thing to protect you from this chemical. According to them, the levels that we’re being exposed to aren’t enough to worry about. And if you believe that one I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

    Low doses still equal HIGH dangers

    That’s why this new research, published in the journal Endocrine Disruptors, is so important. Sure, we already know this stuff is bad for us, but with the FDA burying its collective head somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine, we need as many studies as we can get showing that even at so-called “low” exposures BPA is damaging. A group of scientists that study endocrine disruption set out to build on and refine an earlier 2007 review of the low-dose effects of BPA. What they found was shocking. They were able to confirm reproductive effects in animals after exposure to incredibly low doses of the chemical. We’re talking ten to forty times lower than in the typical studies that have been used to justify keeping BPA on the market. In addition, the researchers identified several dozen “low dose” studies that illustrated the effects that BPA has in amounts that people are being exposed to every single day. In fact, according to the scientists, exposure to BPA likely contributes to a wide variety of health issues including decreased fertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, behavioral problems, breast tumors, obesity, thyroid dysfunction, brain synapse issues and immune response to allergens. And the problems don’t even end with the human population, either. Scientists say that BPA’s effect on wildlife is widespread, too. The bottom line here is that, once again, the very agencies that supposedly exist to protect our health can’t be relied on. We have to fend for ourselves. That means switching to brands that are packaged in non-BPA packaging (stores that specialize in natural and organic foods and online sources are your best bets) and choosing fresh organic foods over packaged ones whenever possible. And make your voice heard. Write the manufacturers of your favorite brands and demand BPA-free packaging and write your representatives in Washington and demand legislation that removes this toxic chemical from our food supply. Maybe by next year on this day we’ll have one more thing to give thanks for… a BPA-free life.
  8. 45 years of ineffective flu shots and propaganda exposed

    Here’s another one for your “Why am I not surprised?” file. We’re back to the same yearly topic – ineffective flu shots. But wait until you see this…it’s a doozy this year! As usual, the government “health” stooges don’t appear to have any clue whether they’re coming or going. But one thing they DO know for sure is it’s flu season. You know what that means, right? Yes, it’s time for them to kick their ol’ propaganda presses into overtime and get their 46th Annual Flu Disaster Party started. And boy howdy they sure are outdoing themselves this year. You can hardly go a city block without stumbling across some dire warning about the coming killer Flu-pocolpyse. There’s just one problem, those hysterical warnings are built on little more than a house of cards.

    Monkeyed with stats and outright lies

    I think it’s high time for a dose of flu vaccine reality. Wouldn’t you agree? And luckily I’m just the guy to deliver it. When our research team here at NorthStar Nutritionals went digging, they ended up uncovering so many monkeyed-with flu statistics and flat-out lies it would make a Big Pharma executive blush. So our team did the only thing they could do, they decided to expose those lies surrounding the ineffective flu shot. They produced the one document I’m betting Big Pharma and their best buds at the CDC would be willing to pay just about anything to not have see the light of day. Which is just too bad Bozos, ‘cause we’re NOT for sale! The American public deserves to know the whole truth about the ineffective flu shots they’re having injected into their arms. And that’s why we’re providing this flu shot document to you, totally free of charge. To view an online version of this document on the NorthStar Blog, just click here. Please, feel free to forward this email and share this important information about ineffective flu shots with your family and friends.  Together, we can expose this shot in the dark to the light of day!
  9. The Flu Shot

  10. Natural antidepressant spice extract beats big name drug

    One of the things I like best about nutrition-based medicine is there are no one-trick ponies. Unlike drugs, vitamins, herbs, supplements, spices and healthy foods are almost always multi-taskers. For example, if you're taking garlic for heart health you're also protecting yourself against food poisoning. If you've been chowing down on blueberries to help ward off the toxins linked with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease you've also been kicking diabetes to the curb at the same time. And that B12 you're taking to keep your energy levels up is serving as a natural antidepressant to boot. Then there's multi-talented curcumin, which comes from the popular (and delicious) spice turmeric. We've featured this good-for-you natural anti-inflammatory many times over the years.

    Natural inflammation fighter

    Golden yellow turmeric has been used to flavor the cuisines of India and China for thousands of years. And, as I've explained before, the polyphenol-rich spice appears to have also been helping to ward off cancer one tasty -- and inflammation-fighting -- bite at a time. In a 2011 study, the genes that help protect you against cancer were "reawakened" in several colon cancer cells lines when they were treated with curcumin. And a later study out of China found that curcumin may be able to trigger cell death (known as apoptosis) in triple-negative breast cancer cells. But fighting cancer isn't the only trick that curcumin has up its golden sleeve -- not by a long shot. You know the inflammation-fighting ability I just mentioned? It turns out it could also come in handy when it comes to soothing swollen and painful joints and tendons. And it's likely this very same property that makes it so promising as a brain-friendly Alzheimer's disease fighter. A study last year linked the spice extract to better blood vessel function making it an excellent choice for boosting heart health. And the role it can play in supporting your body's natural insulin production is practically legendary.

    Curcumin matched Prozac for fighting depression

    To say that curcumin has an extraordinary resume would be an understatement. But just when I thought the compound might have finally reached an impressive end to its healing abilities, a groundbreaking study -- published in the journal Phytotherapy Research -- has found that the extract is a safe and effective natural antidepressant for treating serious cases of depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The study was designed to compare the effectiveness of a popular depression drug against the natural antidepressantspice extract. Sixty volunteers who were pre-diagnosed with MDD were randomly assigned to take either fluoxetine (20 mg), curcumin (1000 mg) or a combination of both, for six weeks. The volunteers were observed for those six weeks and evaluated using the standard Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Not only was curcumin found to fight depression, it was every bit as effective (with just a tiny non-statistical difference of 2.2% between the two) as the Big Pharma favorite fluoxetine, which you may know as Prozac. That's right, a natural antidepressant spice extract worked just as well as the heavy duty drug!

    All of the power, none of the side effects

    Even better, the curcumin takers got all of those benefits with none of the prescription antidepressant side effects. According to the researchers, curcumin was well tolerated by all of the volunteers. Not really surprising since we already know that the spice extract is safe, and an earlier study had found that mega doses up to 8 grams a day were well tolerated. On the other hand, the Prozac users likely didn't fare as well. The ugly list of potential side effects for Prozac include an increase in suicidal thoughts in young people, nausea, headaches, anxiety, tremors, libido issues, sleepiness and diarrhea to name just a few. So in other words, in a head-to-head comparison, multi-talented natural antidepressant curcumin kicked Prozac's butt, coming out the clear winner when it comes to fighting depression effectively, safely, and of course naturally. With so many benefits, it's clear you can't go wrong adding this healing spice extract to your daily routine. If you're currently suffering with depression, talk with your doctor about how you can put turmeric to work for you. And for a little extra help SAMe and St. John's Wort are both proven blues beaters. Before you know it you could be tossing the prescription antidepressants...along with their terrible side-effects...for good.
  11. Studies find dangerous antibiotics in livestock and their feed

    "Would you like a side of Prozac or Cipro with that chicken platter sir?" Sure, it sounds like the set up for a bad joke. But, sadly, according to researchers at the John's Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University, antibiotics in livestock today are more common than you think. In fact, two new studies of antibiotics in livestock have found that those chicken wings you had for dinner last night, and that turkey breast you're planning for Sunday dinner this week, are likely laced with a cocktail of chemicals that reads like a drugstore inventory list. Hidden in the chicken and turkey feather-meal samples they tested, the research teams found, among other things, Tylenol, Prozac, arsenic, Benadryl, caffeine, and the antibiotic Cipro (which has been banned for use in poultry since 2005!). So... your probably wondering exactly what "feather meal" is right? I wondered the same thing. Turns out that it's another gross factory farm concoction. Looking to stretch their profit wherever they can Big Agriculture came up with the brilliant idea of scooping up all those discarded bird feathers, grinding them up, and feeding them to chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs, and even fish. Yes, they're literally feeding drug-contaminated feathers to our food supply. Which, of course, means they're essentially feeding them to us as well. (I'm sure whatever Big Ag executive dreamed up that feather-brained idea has since retired to an island in the Caribbean, living off of the fat bonus he got.)

    Prozac... it's what's for dinner

    But back to those scientists and what they found. According to the one study of antibiotics in livestock published in the April 2012 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team at Johns Hopkins looked for 59 pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the samples they tested. Every single sample, in fact, tested positive for chemicals that shouldn't be there, with all of them popping positive for two to 10 antimicrobials each. Other samples were laced with the active ingredient in Benadryl or the active ingredient in Prozac. And caffeine and acetaminophen were detected in 10 of 12 samples. Oh, and remember those banned antibiotics I mentioned earlier? As you probably already know, antibiotics are typically added to the water and feed of factory-farmed animals to cause them to grow faster, rather than to treat any disease. But the class of drugs known as fluroquinolones—which includes the drug Cipro—was banned in poultry farming back in 2005 because the drugs were found to contribute to the superbug problem I‘ve written to you about many times before. Yet, despite that ban, the Hopkins researchers found them in eight of 12 samples that were collected from six different states! (Kind of sheds some light on why this superbug problem just won't go away, doesn't it?) And then, of course there are the results from the Arizona State study, which were published in the journal, Science of the Total Environment. All of the samples tested were found to contain arsenic.

    The FDA gets a stern talking to

    In a press release, the study's lead author... and my new hero... microbiologist David Love, called the FDA out on the carpet saying, "The public health community has long been frustrated with the unwillingness of the FDA to effectively address what antibiotics are fed to food animals." And, in reaction to the findings, congresswoman and microbiologist Louise Slaughter from New York (also recently elevated to my hero list if you're keeping score) got even more pointed in an open letter to the FDA when she said, "I'm outraged by this... This is really just a symptom of the bigger problem, which is that the FDA has continued to drag its feet in addressing this looming public health crisis." It's certainly refreshing to hear that mainstream scientists are as mad as the rest of us about this. Maybe now the FDA will wake up from its drug-money induced slumber and do something about the dangerous antibiotics in livestock feed. (Yeah, I won't be holding my breath, either.) In the meantime, if you haven't already heeded my warnings to go organic and buy local small-farm meats in the past, now would be a good time to start. Follow the lead of Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author on both of these studies, who, according to an article in The New York Times said, "I've been studying food-animal product for some time, and the more I study, the more I'm drawn to organic." I couldn't agree with you more, Keeve.
  12. FDA thumbs up endocrine disrupting chemicals that are making you sick

    At what point do we finally say enough is enough to the health-destroying endocrine –disrupting chemicals that we, and our children, are being exposed to every single day? Apparently, if you work for the United States federal government, the answer to that question is, "Never." I first started warning you about bisphenol A (BPA), and other endocrine disrupting chemicals, all the way back in 2008. Yet, here we sit four years later with no significant progress having been made in this fight. On the contrary, we're still being exposed to these frightening chemicals—chemicals that play havoc with our hormones, our endocrine systems, and our health—every single day. They contaminate the foods we eat, pollute the air we breathe, and even foul the papers we touch. And the million dollar question is, "WHY?!" After all, BPA... and other endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)... have already been linked with diabetes, heart disease, reproductive issues, neurological problems, and even cancer. In fact, it's pretty much an open and shut case that these chemicals can be damaging to your health. So why is it that manufacturers are still allowed to use them? Well the answer lies hidden somewhere in the conference rooms of the FDA that continues to assure us that the "low-dosages" of these chemicals that we're being exposed to have not yet been proven to be harmful. And... well... to be perfectly blunt, that's just a load of bull! Not only have a stack of troubling studies already said otherwise, we now have yet one more group of scientists weighing in on the dangers that these chemicals pose at the "low dosages" that the FDA says are just fine. According to the study just accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's journal Endocrine Review, low dosages of EDCs... like the average person is exposed to regularly... can "result in significant health effects." Your move FDA.

    FDA says OK to endocrine disruptors

    Let me guess... you'll ignore these latest findings just like the major European study in 2010 involving 715 adults that proved that so-called moderate exposure to BPA does indeed have health consequences. Oh yeah, that's right, I actually don't have to guess since late last month the FDA announced that, yet again, it was voting against protecting consumers and citizens. Yes, in a totally predictable move the Food and Drug Association announced this past March that it was denying the National Resources Defense Council's petition asking for it to prohibit the use of BPA in products manufactured here in the United States. Why am I not surprised?

    Don't rely on feds for BPA protection

    Back in 2008, when I was starting to make some really serious noise about the dangers of these chemicals, the FDA was getting set to rule on whether or not BPA was safe for use in plastic consumer products. That ruling... which was made on the basis of just two studies... went to BPA. And since this is the FDA were talking about here, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you will not be surprised when I tell you that the sponsor of those two studies was none other than the American Plastics Council. I guess the FDA has never heard of a little thing called conflict of interest. Now, since that time, the FDA has admitted that it has "some concern" about how this chemical might be effecting the behavior, prostate glands, and brains of unborn babies, infants, and kids. But, somehow, that concern still doesn't translate into any protective actions, despite the growing research. And I don't know about you, but the agency's assurance that it "has been studying and continues to study the effects of BPA" doesn't do a heck of a lot to reduce my fears considering it has been studying its effects for years now already. Instead, I will continue to avoid any packaged foods as much as I possibly can, and I encourage you to do the same. And when you do need to use a packaged product, be sure to look for the BPA-free label before you buy. Oh, and moms-to-be you should, of course, be extra cautious about how much contact you have with these chemicals. It's impossible to totally avoid exposure to BPA and other endocrine disrupting chemicals, but everyone can certainly reduce their exposure.
  13. Prescription drug side effects and vitamin D

    Taking a prescription drug may seem like a quick fix when you're in pain. But before you resort to popping pills, consider the long-term prescription drug side effects on your body. For example, a new report found that a class of prescription meds -- commonly used to quickly deal with pain and inflammation -- might cause a dramatic drop in vitamin D levels. This is especially worrisome because doctors often prescribe these "quick fix" drugs to older adults already prone to low vitamin D. Doctors also prescribe them to patients with serious chronic conditions, such as asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, Crohn's disease, and MS. But here's what is even more disturbing... You can only take these drugs for a short stint without causing serious prescription drug side effects such as, mood disorders, osteoporosis, and vascular disease. But even if you take them safely -- for less than 30 days -- you still run the risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency.

    Researchers uncover disturbing connection

    For this study of prescription drug side effects, U.S. researchers analyzed data from a national health survey completed between 2001 and 2006. The survey asked 22,650 men and women living in the U.S. about their medication usage. The participants also gave blood samples. The researchers used these samples to analyze the participants' vitamin D levels. About one percent of the participants in the survey reported using an oral steroid medication in the past 30 days. This clearly placed them at high risk for a vitamin D deficiency. It turns out that men and women who took oral steroids ran twice the risk of developing a "severe" vitamin D deficiency compared to non-users. Plus, children who took the oral steroids had even greater risks... In fact, the researchers found that kids on these meds were 14 times more likely to develop a D deficiency when compared to other children. And that's a crying shame. Doctors often prescribe oral steroids, such as prednisolone, to remove fluid from the Eustachian tubes in otherwise healthy children. But nine times out of ten, the fluid in the ear will drain on its own, given time. Pediatricians also prescribe oral steroids for croup. Here again, croup will often clear up quite nicely on its own after a hot steam shower. Steroids are rarely necessary. The case against steroids for adults is more complex, for sure. I know when you're in pain, you want instant relief. Steroids provide that. But steroids affect your whole body chemistry...they don't just target the pain in your sinuses or in your back. They don't just reduce inflammation and improve your wheezing.

    How do steroids work?

    Oral corticosteroids mimic the function of cortisol, a hormone produced by your adrenal glands. In times of stress, your body produces extra cortisol to keep you from getting sick. So when you introduce a synthetic form of this hormone, your body becomes confused. It will back off producing natural hormones. But many times, even after you go off the steroids, your body's hormone production stays low. This is why doctors must "wean" you slowly off oral steroids. It gives your body a chance to recover. Plus, according to the latest research of prescription drug side effects, even taking them for a short stint could cause serious nutritional deficiencies. So, the next time your doctor offers you a steroid to deal with lower back pain or arthritis pain, consider the consequences carefully before accepting it. And if you do take a steroid, make sure to get some extra vitamin D.
  14. Two secrets to build stronger bones without Prolia side effects

    Last year I told you about a risky new osteoporosis drug called Prolia. The company that makes Prolia, Amgen pharmaceuticals, says the drug is much safer than older bone drugs on the market, such as Boniva, with Prolia side effects being less dangerous than the side effects of Boniva. These older drugs work by interrupting the cycle of bone turnover. Sure -- they stop you from losing bone, so your bone density tests initially look great. But the drugs also stop you from growing new bone. So over time, your bones could become brittle and you become more prone to fractures. In fact, women who take high doses of these older bone drugs (called bisphosphonates) could run an increased risk of developing atypical hip fractures. They could also run an increased risk of getting osteonecrosis (or bone death of the jaw) and it has even been linked to esophageal cancer. Amgen deliberately tried to stand apart from bisphosphonates in its marketing materials. Instead of hiring a celebrity like Sally Field, Amgen talked about "women like you" in its marketing. The company says Prolia is different. But women aren't buying it...literally. Sales out of the gate for Prolia, which debuted in 2010, were sluggish. But Amgen just hit pay dirt. They figured out a new way to increase their market share: sell it to cancer patients!

    Amgen turns tragedy into sales payday

    You see, chemotherapy wreaks havoc on your entire body. In fact, certain kinds of chemotherapy used to treat prostate cancer and breast cancer can disrupt hormonal function. This puts already sick patients at risk for bone fractures. To combat the loss of bone during chemotherapy, Amgen suggested that oncologists try using Prolia on cancer patients. And in September, Amgen actually became the first drug approved to prevent bone loss in prostate and breast cancer patients. This sweeping approval substantially increases the market share for Prolia. Experts estimate sales for the drug (given by injection) will now reach more than $1 billion. But -- no matter how happy the women appear in the TV ads -- I still have concerns about Prolia side effects. The active ingredient in Prolia -- called denosumab -- blocks a protein that activates osteoclasts. Osteoclasts serve an important role in the body. They destroy bone. Sure, destroying bone may not sound like a good thing, but in this case it is. The key is the type of bone. Healthy bones are in constant flux. Your body breaks down old bone and sends it into your bloodstream. Then you absorb new calcium out of your blood stream to build new bone. But Prolia -- just like the old bisphosphonates -- interrupts this natural cycle. It blocks bone from breaking down. So technically, you never lose bone density. But it also appears to block the building of new bone. And that could make for brittle bones. And brittle bones fracture easily. Is it any surprise, then, that the FDA has already warned physicians to be on the lookout for increased fractures in women taking Prolia (not to mention the small jaw decay problem the FDA has also warned us about)! Now, here's the good news I promised you... A new study of post-menopausal women found that you can definitely increase your bone mass without taking harmful drugs! In fact, two natural secrets may even work better than drugs!

    Build stronger bones without drugs

    For this new study, researcher recruited 79 sedentary post-menopausal women. They divided the women into four groups. The first group of women walked or jogged three times a week. The second group of women took 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids each day. The third group exercised and took the omega-3s. And the fourth group -- the control group -- did nothing differently. They didn't exercise or take any new supplements. After 24 weeks, the researchers gave bone density tests to all the women. The women who exercised and took omega-3s had a clear advantage! In fact, after just 24 weeks, these women increased BMD in their lower spine up 15 percent. Plus, they increased the density of their femurs (thigh bone) by 19 percent! These are HUGE gains. In fact, Amgen published the latest round of research on Prolia and possible Prolia side effects in March of this year (2011). According to this data, women treated with Prolia for five continuous years (five YEARS!) improved bone density on average by 13.7 in the spine and by just seven percent in the hip. So you tell me... Would you rather take a drug for five years and risk jaw bone death...or would you rather exercise three times a week and take your omega-3s? The answer's pretty darn clear to me. It's quite easy to get 1,000 mg of omega-3s in fish oil tablets. Just make sure to add a natural vitamin E capsule along with your fish oil. The natural vitamin E will help zap any free radicals generated by the fish oil.
  15. Big Pharma’s new ploy to cut down medication noncompliance

    How do we increase compliance? Or as the pharmaceutical company would ask, how do we decrease medication noncompliance? It sounds like something you'd hear a parole officer say, struggling to keep his troublemakers -- well -- out of trouble. But today, you're just as likely to hear this question posed in swanky boardrooms at Pfizer, Merck, and AstraZeneca. And yes, they too are trying to keep their troublemakers in line. Except, in this case, the troublemakers are you and I! You see, in the pharmaceutical world, "compliance" means that you're taking your drugs on schedule and as prescribed for you. The problem is...lots of folks out there aren't compliant. They don't take the drugs prescribed to them. (Shocking, I know.) In fact, some estimates suggest that patients don't take 70 percent of the drugs prescribed to them! Yes, it gives me great pleasure to know there are full bottles of Crestor sitting right now, unopened, in medicine cabinets around the country! But it makes Big Pharma execs very angry. Like foam-at-the-mouth angry. So they've engineered ways to make you more compliant... Welcome to the brave new world of legal drug pushing Most drug companies today have entire divisions dedicated to monitoring your drug use. They call or email you to make sure you diligently take your drugs. They even have smartphone apps and talking pill bottles that remind you to take your meds. Plus... Big Pharma now wants to target their worst offenders. These folks walk out of the doctor's office with a prescription for Crestor in their hands, but never even go to the pharmacy to get the darned prescription filled. In fact, as many as 50 percent of new drug prescriptions never get filled the first time. Believe me, medication noncompliance is a huge issue for Big Pharma. It costs the industry $300 billion a year. As one Big Pharma exec once lamented: if only there were a pill that would make you take all your other pills! Well, until Big Pharma invents that magic pill, it has this new tool at its disposal: prescription drug vending machines. These vending machines started to pop up around the country a few years ago. You'll find them in urgent care centers or in hospitals. Without a doubt, the vending machines make it more "convenient" for you to pick up your meds, which could potentially cut down on medication noncompliance. That's why you'll also find big companies installing them at their on-site health clinics. Now, employees don't have to leave work to go and pick up their prescriptions. It boosts productivity! Get your painkillers by pressing a button The vending machines contain more than 1,000 different types of drugs. You can pick up antibiotics and even heavy-duty painkillers like oxycodone at the press of a button. Ah, just think of the convenience... No long lines at the pharmacy. No waiting until the drug store opens. Now, you can get your drugs 24-hours a day! In fact, one company that sells these drug kiosks has this slogan on its website: The safety and security of an ATM with the simplicity of a soda machine! Gee, just what we get our drugs as easily as we get our sodas. Brilliant. Aside from the troubling safety issues, this new ploy worries me for many reasons. What's next on the horizon? Vending machines to dispense drugs at the grocery store? Or better yet, how about at McDonald's? I can see it now, next to the DVD kiosk at Mickey D's. Hey honey, will you pick up dinner, a DVD, and oh yes, some oxycodone on your way home from work? Call me non-compliant or crazy or even paranoid. But I don't want what Big Pharma is selling...even if it does come from a vending machine.
  16. Organic tomatoes taste better because they are better!

    Ever compared a grocery store tomato to an organic tomato grown in your own backyard? There's no comparison! Your backyard tomatoes burst with flavor. Plus, they're darker red and the meat is firm. Grocery store tomatoes tend to be kind of pink and mealy. Sure, I know you treat your backyard tomatoes with lots of TLC. You water them just enough. You protect them from the elements. And you sure as heck don't spray harmful pesticides on them! And believe me, all this hard work is worth it. Your backyard tomatoes probably contain more nutrients than the grocery store variety. In fact... Recently, Spanish scientists compared the juice from organically-grown tomatoes to the juice from conventionally-grown ones. They found that the organic tomato juice had many more polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds found in fruits and veggies. They protect you against heart disease, degenerative diseases like arthritis, and even cancer. And if you buy conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables, chances are, they don't contain anywhere near enough of them. So even if you can't grow your own tomatoes, just make sure you buy organic ones at the grocery store. And don't cringe at the price. Just smile and remember that you're getting a better product...with more nutrients!
  17. Tell the FDA: Leave our vitamins alone!

    The year 1994 was a big year for vitamins. That year, Congress passed a law commonly known as DSHEA. This law lets vitamins be vitamins...not drugs. It means that vitamins don't need FDA approval before entering the marketplace. The law also protects your rights as a consumer. Specifically, the law says:
    • The Federal Government should not take any actions to impose unreasonable regulatory barriers limiting or slowing the flow of safe products and accurate information to consumers;
    • dietary supplements are safe within a broad range of intake, and safety problems with the supplements are relatively rare; and legislative action that protects the right of access of consumers to safe dietary supplements is necessary in order to promote wellness.
    The years since DSHEA have been filled with innovation and research. We know so much more today about nutrients like vitamins D, vitamin E, and resveratrol than I ever thought possible! And best of all, today more than 53 percent of Americans take vitamins. And that number only seems to grow with each passing decade. But the FDA wants to overthrow the DSHEA (or at least strangle it) with a complex set of new guidelines. And they're sneaky about it too. The "guidelines" don't change the law at all. (Any changes to the law would require Congressional approval. And they know they won't get that!) No, instead, they go in through the backdoor. They issue "guidelines" to change how business is done in the vitamin world. And if you don't out...they'll put you out of business in a heartbeat. Plus, trust me. I've read the new guidelines. You need a legal background to understand what they mean. In the end, I firmly believe the changes -- if adopted -- will end up hurting you and your family. Innovation will end and it will be much harder (and more costly) to find the vitamins you want.

    How the new "guidelines" will the strangle vitamin industry

    Under current DSHEA law, vitamin companies must submit a letter to the FDA the very FIRST time a new ingredient is used in a supplement. (FDA calls these new ingredients NDIs or "new dietary ingredients.") But from there on out...any company in the U.S. that uses the ingredient is in the clear. They can ride on the coattails of the first NDI submitted to the FDA. But under the new guidelines, the FDA says vitamin companies will need a new NDI disclosure any time and every time they use an ingredient that wasn't on the market before 1994. Take resveratrol for example. It entered the market after 1994. And today, you can find it just about everywhere. It's a very common supplement. Well, under the new guidelines, every time a company wants to put resveratrol into their formula, they will have to submit another NDI disclosure letter to the FDA. Plus, these NDI disclosure letters will need to prove that resveratrol is safe for human consumption. According to some legal experts, this means that vitamin companies will need to conduct human safety trials to get a new product past the FDA. This throws vitamins into the same league as drugs. And let's not forget it takes 10 years, on average, and $359 million dollars in safety testing to bring a new drug to market. The Institute of Medicine says approximately 1,000 new dietary supplements enter the market place each year in the United States. But if the new guidelines take effect, this free market enterprise will grind to a halt. Vitamin makers simply cannot afford to spend millions of dollars to test something they will sell over-the-counter for six bucks a bottle. And that's not the only problem... The FDA plans to expand the definition of an NDI. Under the new regulations, if a company combines two pre-1994 ingredients in a new way, that qualifies as a NDI. Or, if a vitamin is even slightly altered from its 1994 form, that also qualifies as an NDI. So say a supplement company adds just a little more DHA to their needs a new NDI disclosure. On the other hand... The new guidelines say that synthetic forms of supplements are not NDIs. So if they're not NDIs, what are they? The FDA says they will be classified as drugs...and sold ONLY as drugs. According to the Alliance for Natural Health, this could knock out a number of "important supplements currently sold" on the market. If the FDA adopts these new "guidelines", I guarantee that many, many supplements will virtually disappear from the shelves. Supplements like CoQ10, curcumin, and resveratrol. That's because natural supplement companies cannot afford to pay for massive safety testing to sell their products. Nor can they compete with Big Pharma. Experts say these regulations will cost the American economy between $20 and $30 billion dollars a year in lost revenue!

    So here's what you can do -- TODAY!

    Earlier this month, one vitamin maker filed a Freedom of Information Act with the FDA to get to the bottom of the agency's "about-face" on dietary supplements. Why do we need a sudden overhaul of a good law that protects consumers and vitamin makers? Are we missing something? Has the largest vitamin maker in the United States been plagued with recalls? (No, that would be Johnson & Johnson scrambling to get millions of OTC meds off the shelves.) Did a popular vitamin start to cause liver failure in men and women who took too much of it? (Nope. That would be acetaminophen.) I wouldn't be surprised at all if the investigation turns up lots of dirty laundry. In any case, I urge you to take action. Tell the FDA to leave your vitamins alone! Here are a few things you can do today:
    1. Visit the Alliance for National Health's website at The website will give you more information about how the FDA's new interpretation of these regulations could destroy the supplement industry. You'll also find phone numbers, email addresses, and sample letters for contacting your DC representatives about these harmful policies.
    2. Write, call, or email you Congressional representatives opposing the new draft guidance.
  18. Newer drugs may have more prescription drug side effects

    If your doc starts pushing a new drug just on the market, say "no thanks." I hate to see you take any prescription drugs regularly, but I trust the newer ones least of all! I don't trust new drugs because sometimes (I would argue many times), the harmful prescription drug side effects take years or decades to come to light. And just because a drug gains FDA approval, it doesn't mean that it's safe for the long term. It means that a drug company performed a few short-term tests. In these tests with a limited population, the drug had fewer harmful side effects than benefits. But lots of folks miss this point. In a recent study conducted by U.S. researchers, 25 percent of men and women surveyed said they believe the FDA only approves drugs without serious prescription drug side effects. That's just not true. Think Boniva...Prilosec...or Actos. They are still on the market despite serious prescription drug side effects. According to the study's lead researcher, "New often just means we know less about it... because it takes time for a drug to establish its track record." So remember, while new haircuts, new sneakers, and new cars might be drugs definitely aren't!
  19. How primary care doctors fight back for your business

    Primary care doctors have it tough. Not only are they paid less for often putting in more time than other they have to compete with Walgreens for your business. For a few years now, you have been able to get your flu shot at Walgreens, shopping malls, and community centers. This cuts away at your primary care doctor's bottom line. (Yes, the secret is out. Doctors make money off of you! The more you come into their office...the fuller their pockets.) Well, turns out that primary care doctors aren't taking kindly to all the competition from Walgreens and community centers. They want your flu vaccine business back. Just how are they gonna do it? How will they compete with "convenient care"? Apparently, they plan to pester the heck out of you. Don't believe me? Take a look at this step-by-step guide for running a successful flu clinic posted on the American College of Physicians' web site. The ACP Internist posted this guide in September, just in time for your doctor to get back in on the vaccination action. See for yourself how desperate things have gotten. The ACP Internist says primary care doctors should: 1. Set aside dedicated times and dates to give shots. A good clinic will vaccinate as many as 300 to 400 patients in a few hours. Wow. This is shocking. Hopefully, you don't belong to a practice that even attempts to vaccinate 300 to 400 patients in a few hours. Preferably, find a doctor who talks to you about good nutrition, not shots. (More on that in a moment!) 2. Advertise the clinic by making flyers and displaying them in every exam room. Add the information to the practice website and to every patient statement. Offer appointments early and encourage patients to sign up. Gee, nothing like selling to a captive audience, huh? Well, don't fall for it folks. Even if you find yourself trapped in a doctor's examination room, with flyers for vaccines posted on every wall, resist the urge. Close your eyes. Do whatever it takes. Just don't buy into it! You can prevent the flu without a vaccine. (Again, more on that in a moment.) 3. Begin accepting appointments at least two months before the vaccine clinic date. Most clinics can accommodate as many as eight patients every 15 minutes with one support staff member and one technician. This taps into the vaccine "hype." They urge you to make your appointment early...or you may not get one! Don't buy it. There are plenty of vaccines to go around. And if you don't get've done your public duty for the day. There will be one more vaccine left on the shelf for someone who really needs it! 4. Prepare gloves, alcohol wipes, bandages and sharps containers. Gee, you think this one would be a gimme. You're telling me that doctors need to be reminded of this one? 5. Have another table ready for the vaccine supplies and a chair for patients so that the vaccine can be administered safely and comfortably. Hmmm, another gimme. Makes me think if I ever do get a flu vaccine that I should head to Walgreens. Sadly, I don't think following the ACP Internist's "how-to" guide is going to tear away business from Walgreens any time soon, if you're a primary care doctor. But for you and me, it's a reminder. Even if your doctor bombards you this fall to get your flu shot, stand strong. Skip the flu shot. There are plenty of safe, natural options.

    Stay healthy without a vaccine

    Vitamin D is one of your best defenses against infection of any kind. It kicks your T cells into action so they can track down and kill foreign invaders, especially bacteria and viruses. Plus, emerging research shows that vitamin D packs a wallop against the flu specifically. In a recent study, scientists divided healthy patients into two groups. One group received 1200 IU of D3 (the most active form of D) each day for four months. (That's not nearly enough, for most folks. But I'll take it. It's better than nothing.) The other group received a placebo. During the four-month period, 40 percent fewer participants taking D3 got the flu compared to the placebo group. Plus, the patients going into the study with the lowest levels of D got the most protection. These patients experienced a 74 percent reduction in the incidence of the flu. Interestingly, the researchers also found that the D3 patients with asthma experienced fewer asthma attacks compared with patients in the placebo group. And these results stem from a period of four months! Imagine what would happen if the participants took vitamin D all year long. Remember, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means your body can store it for up to 60 days. So now that fall is here, it's time to prep your immune system. Consider taking up to 5,000 IU of D3 a day. And if the sun's still shining strong in your part of the country, try to spend some time in the sun without lotion. Also, begin to take some extra vitamin C, Echinacea, and beta 1,3 glucan. These three natural powerhouses will keep you out of the doctor's office (and even Walgreens!) this winter.
  20. Here's why you never hear about bad prescription drugs not working...

    Earlier this week I told you about how a research lab hired by Big Pharma got in trouble with the FDA for allegedly cooking their books. Basically, the FDA says the chemists "falsified" data to make it look better. Well, there's another way Big Pharma keeps the news about their bad prescription drugs from ever reaching your ears. It's very simple. The just don't publish it. Now... It may surprise you that drug companies aren't required to publish results from their clinical trials. But they're not. So if testing on a prescription drug doesn't go well... if the test shows the drug doesn't work so great... they just throw the results about this bad prescription drug in the corner to collect dust. According to a new Canadian investigation, this leads to "overestimation of treatment benefits and may adversely influence clinical practice." Translation...? Your doctor gives you a bad prescription drug that doesn't work as well as you think it should. Remember -- all the published reports are positive and show GREAT results! So even your doc gets duped by this scam. He thinks the drug should work wonders on you too! And to matters worse, the new Canadian investigation only looked at "systemic cancer treatments." So here, we have patients with cancer. They take chemo, hoping for a cure. The treatments don't work. But no one knows about it because Big Pharma doesn't publish the results about their bad prescription drugs. And then, some of these chemo drugs actually wind up getting FDA approval! Or sometimes, the bad results are for drugs already on the market! Big Pharma suppresses those bad studies as well. Investigation turns up "substantial" amount of unpublished data Canadian researchers investigated phase three clinical trials for cancer. They looked at 709 clinical trials presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology between the years 1989 and 2003.The investigators found that: • 66 clinical trials remain unpublished to this day • 94 clinical trials were published five or more years after the initial presentation Overall, ¼ of the clinical trials were never published or greatly delayed. The majority of these trials pertain to the treatment of breast, gastrointestinal, blood, and lung cancers. And shockingly, over 70 percent of them reported bad results. So if the results weren't good, 70 percent of the time, they just didn't get published. And this has an impact on how oncologists treat cancer patients. Investigators say the biggest problem arose from an unpublished lung cancer treatment. Typically, oncologists treat lung cancer patients following a set protocol. This is with cisplatin, vinblastine, and radiation. Typically, the trend is for oncologists to give you this all at once. They say it improves overall survival rate. But that's not what the unpublished study found. They unpublished data revealed that survival rate is no different when you get these treatments all at once versus getting them one at a time in sequence. So now, you have hundreds of thousands of lung cancer patients in the U.S. getting heavy doses of chemo and radiation at the same time. When really they would do just as well getting them one at a time. Sure, the treatment will take longer...say six months instead of three. But it's probably gentler on the patient. Plus, what about all the patients who signed on for the advancement of cancer treatments? Nameless, faceless and unnoticed sacrifice Dr. Vincent C. Tam, MD from the University of Toronto, in Ontario led the investigation into unpublished clinical trials on bad prescription drugs. He believes there is a moral obligation to publish the results of these trials. He said: Approximately 23,770 patients participated in the unpublished trials listed in our compendium -- an astounding number of patients with cancer who participated in trials after being informed that the results would contribute to public knowledge, and might improve cancer treatment. But their sacrifice went unpublished and, therefore, unnoticed by the medical community. Dr. Tam wants to see a change in policy. He hopes that organizations that fund big clinical trials -- like NIH -- will require that all the results get published. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus, he wants to see medical journals offering up space for short reports on negative trials so doctors and the public will find out about ineffective and bad prescription drugs. For goodness sakes, pharmaceutical news is the only kind of news in the world where you only hear about the success stories! Wish my local nightly TV news would do the same.

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