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. Skip the flu shot, even if it's only once every 5 years

    The Director of the National Institutes of Health says they're closing in on a long-term, universal flu shot that would last five years. So you'd only have to get it once every five years instead of annually like the current flu shot.

    I have to admit, this gave me a little chuckle.

    As every Tom, Dick, and Harry knows, the flu changes every year. Researchers have a heck of a time predicting which strains of the virus to put into the flu shot from year to year. Actually, this process resembles fortune telling more than it does 21st century medicine.

    Oh well. The NIH director says the universal flu shot gets around this problem because there are two proteins in the virus that don't change from year to year. They believe if they target this part of the virus that a universal flu shot will work. And you'll only need it once every five years!

    Well, I'm not holding my breath. The influenza virus is one savvy virus. It's outsmarted us all these years. It changes faster and faster each year, so we never know what it's going to look like next.

    And even if they do figure it all out, you can be sure I won't be in line.

  2. How Big Pharma's "fake" data could make you sick

    You expect Big Pharma to cheat, lie, steal, and create fake data. You don't expect it from humble chemists who dedicate their lives to science.

    Very often, these chemists are the only reliable things standing between you and taking an unsafe -- even deadly -- drug. You see, Big Pharma outsources much of its dirty work on drugs to medical testing companies. Chemists at these companies work "independently" to monitor clinical trials for Big Pharma. Then, they report their results to the FDA.

    So what happens when humble, independent chemists turn to the dark side? They manipulate the results and send fake data to the FDA. Then you come shockingly close to taking a drug based on this "fake" data.

    Take for example Cetero Research.

    Shocking alleged fraud at research lab

    Cetero Research runs clinical trials for Pfizer, Novartis, and AstraZeneca. This means, they recruit the patients. They develop the trial protocol (and figure out how much of the drug to give each patient and how often). They administer the drug to the patients. Next, they retest the patients to see if their various symptoms improved.

    Then, the Cetero chemists report their results to the "drug sponsor." (This term makes Big Pharma almost sound like they're actually watching out for us, doesn't it?) Lastly, the "drug sponsor" or drug company presents the data to the FDA. This data helps the FDA determine whether a drug should get market approval.

    So you'd think that the FDA would diligently monitor a company like Cetero to make sure their results are legit... right?

    But what would happen if the company turned in fake data? You may be shocked to learn how easy it was for a group of chemists from Houston to "falsify  results" and send fake data to the FDA.

    Here's how easy it was...

    Faster isn't always better

    Apparently, Cetero doesn't hire your regular old Cal Tech chemists. They hire super-chemists.

    In fact, Cetero say their chemists can give you "accelerated proof-of-concept." It means that instead of taking 28 to 36 weeks to determine a drug's viability, Cetero chemists only need 14 to 18 weeks. They get the same amount of work done in ½ the time it takes other labs!

    And you wanna know how Cetero chemists got their work done so darned fast?

    They apparently cooked the books – creating fake data.

    The FDA looked at the clinical trials Cetero ran between the years 2005 and 2010. During this time, the chemists recorded when they took samples from patients. But when the FDA checked these times against chemists' timecards, they found something very interesting.

    Shocking, really...

    The chemists weren't even at the lab on those days. And it wasn't just one or two times that it happened. The FDA found 1,900 examples of when the chemists claimed to take samples on a day they didn't even go into the lab.

    Now, Cetero claims the chemists did do those procedures. They just lied about when they did them. The chemists claimed they took the samples on weekends so they could get overtime pay. (I'm shocked! Chemists aren't motivated by money. They're out for the greater scientific good.)

    But wait. It gets worse.

    The FDA only found out about the problem because of an internal whistleblower at Cetero. A chemist with a conscience told management at Houston about the problems. But apparently management -- even the Cetero CEO -- didn't listen.

    So the chemist went to the FDA. And only then did the FDA find out about the Houston shenanigans. And the uncovered a whole lot more than just timesheet troubles...

    Selling your soul for drugs

    Before the FDA stepped in, Cetero Research did begin an internal investigation. They say they stand by the "integrity" of their data.

    But FDA's not buying it. (Shocking, I know.)

    The FDA found "widespread falsification" and "manipulation" of data at Cetero's Houston lab between 2005 and 2010. In other words, completely fake data was submitted repeatedly to the FDA.

    The FDA says Cetero chemists may have fixed data to meet "acceptance criterion." Basically, this means the chemists may have faked the data to make it look better to gain FDA acceptance.

    Cetero's big wigs sent 483 letters to the FDA trying to explain away the bad data. But the FDA says their explanations are "inadequate." (Applause. Applause.)

    As a result, the FDA is pulling all Cetero clinical trials from the pipeline for review. And according to the Fed website, 122 clinical trials contain Cetero's fingerprints. Unfortunately, the FDA didn't publish the list of questionable studies. So we don't know which studies involving which drugs Cetero might have cooked.

    But the FDA believes the fake data pertains to drugs not yet on the market. So all the drugs already on the market should be good to go.

    Yeah right.

    The older, approved drugs may be safe from Cetero's scams, but I'm sure this kind of thing happens a whole lot more than anyone wants to admit. Makes you wonder how many chemists cooked the books to get a drug like Actos or Boniva approved.

  3. Why FDA regulations could push my favorite snack behind the pharmacy counter

    If the FDA regulations stand , you may have to go to the pharmacy counter to buy a bag of my favorite snacks. And don't forget your doctor's prescription. You'll need it. You see... The company that makes my favorite snack recently got into hot water with the FDA. (Well, "makes" is a bit of an overstatement. My favorite snack is a whole food...so the company really just grows it, picks it, and packages it.) Anyway... In its marketing, the company said that nutrients in this snack are good for you. They said the nutrients "may help lower cholesterol; protect against heart disease, stroke and some cancers; ease arthritis and other inflammatory diseases; and even fight depression and other mental illnesses." But whoa! You can't do that. You can't talk about foods that prevent disease without Breaking one of the most sacred FDA regulations and incurring their wrath in the form of a warning letter. Even if that food has been shown in 57 clinical trials to protect against heart disease. Even if one of those studies gets published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Even if the American Heart Association says this food is great for your heart. The FDA doesn't care. Only drugs have the FDA-granted right to talk about diseases. So if you do talk about a disease in your marketing, it means your product is also a drug and you’re violating FDA regulations regarding what you can and can’t say…even if you have proof that it’s true. And, well, the FDA regulates all drug sales. There are drug applications to fill out. There are clinical trials to run and safety tests too. Only then can you mention that your product protects against disease.

    Much ado about nuts

    Poor, naive Diamond Foods, Inc. This California-based company sells nuts and other snack foods. Now, I'm not wild about their microwaveable popcorn, but I do like their walnuts. And that's what got them into a heap of trouble with the FDA regulations. To be frank, Diamond Foods is no Frito Lay. They don't do a ton of advertising. But they do have a website. I'm guessing it attracts -- at most -- maybe 10,000 visitors per year. As luck would have it, someone from the FDA must have stumbled over the site. And that person blew the whistle: Diamond Nuts talks about eating walnuts to prevent disease! As a result, the FDA fired off a letter to Diamond Foods. The letter said: Based on claims made on your firm's website, we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease. You see, you can't say foods prevent, mitigate or treat disease or -- voila! -- they become drugs. So... under the FDA's regulations, does that mean if I give you a Milky Way for your low blood sugar that I've given you a drug? Yes, it does. How about if I give you a peanut butter sandwich when you're clinically protein-starved? Does that mean I've given you a drug? Under the FDA rules, yes. Hell, how about if you're dehydrated and I give you a glass of water? Does that mean I've given you a drug? Well, you've got the idea. That's how stupid this walnut-drug thing is. The FDA definition of a "drug" is anything used in the treatment of disease. Therefore, their definition is completely, totally, and insanely useless... because you can use a glass of water as a drug.

    FDA defends insanity

    There's a reason behind all the insanity, says Margaret Hamburg, FDA commissioner. It's for your protection. Hamburg says, "[W]e've seen the emergence of claims that may not provide the full picture of their products' true nutritional value. It will be important to reestablish a science-based approach to protect the public..." Gee, ya think? Just take a look down the grocery store aisle at all the misleading products. Fake butter is now "heart smart" because the company adds plant sterols. Sugar water is now "vitamin water" because the company adds vitamin C. Artificially-flavored breakfast cereal is now a "smart start" to your day because the company adds antioxidants. But you can't say walnuts "may help lower your cholesterol" or you guessed it – you’re violating those sacred FDA regulations. And that's not even the worst part about it. The FDA is really just a mindless minion to Big Pharma. The FDA keeps us sick and malnourished so that Big Pharma can come along to save the day. Don't buy into it. Buy walnuts instead. And, yes, Diamond Foods had to take down the disease claims from their web site. But at least you won't need a doctor's prescription to get them. If you need help navigating the grocery store aisles, read a special report called "Food Labeling Chaos" by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Go to http://www.cspinet.org/foodlabeling and you'll get a whole new appreciation of lies at the grocery store.
  4. Shocking NSAID side effects revealed in large study

    Got high blood pressure or coronary artery disease (CAD)? Then you'll want to think twice before taking an NSAID – even the over-the- counter variety. NSAID side effects just might kill you. In fact, a new study reveals that men and women with these conditions who regularly take these meds significantly increase their risk of heart attack, stroke, even death. Take these drugs long enough and your death risk may shoot up by 127 percent! But wait. NSAIDS are supposed to be safe. You can pick it up any grocery store, gas station, or bathroom vending machine. Here's what you don't know… Researchers stumble upon startling, new data regarding NSAID side effects It all began with the INVEST study. This study involved 23,000 CAD patients with stable hypertension. It took place at university research labs in 14 different countries. The University of Florida led one of the outposts. At each visit, UF researchers asked their patients about medication use. They discovered that many of the patients regularly took NSAIDs (or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). In fact, nearly 1,000 of the patients were "chronic" NSAID users. The rest were "non-chronic" NSAID users. (Drugs such as aspirin, Celebrex, ibuprofen, and naproxen fall into this category.) The researchers then followed their patients over the next five years, tracking any consequences of long-term NSAID use or NSAID side effects. Tragically, they found a shocking number of the chronic NSAID users went on to suffer heart attacks, strokes, or worse. Here's how the data broke down: • After nearly three years of regular NSAID use, patients had a 90 percent increase in the occurrence of all-cause mortality. Plus, their nonfatal heart attack and stroke rose by 47 percent. • After five years of regular NSAID use, patients had a 126 percent increase in cardiovascular deaths. Plus, their heart attack jumped to 66 percent. Stroke rate stayed the same after five years. Now, I know what you're thinking. Maybe these folks with higher risk let their high blood pressure get out of control? And that's what killed them. Nope. The chronic NSAID actually had slightly lower blood pressure than the non-chronic users. So their blood pressure stayed low, but they had a much greater risk of dying. According to Anthony Bavry, MD, lead researcher for the UF team, "Among coronary artery disease patients with hypertension, chronic self-reported use of NSAIDs was associated with harmful outcomes, and this practice should be avoided where possible." He continued "Until further data are available, alternative modes of pain relief should be considered for these patients." Well said, Dr. Bavry. In fact, I think long-term NSAID use should be avoided by just about everyone. NSAID side effects aren’t worth the risk.
  5. Even the FDA wouldn’t approve this as a gout drug

    There‘s a limited gout drug arsenal available. So the drug company Novartis AG saw an opening and went for it. Last month, the company hoped to gain FDA approval for their gout drug called Ilaris. But their gamble didn‘t work. The FDA denied approval. (Shocking, I know.) Ilaris is a serious drug already approved to treat a group of rare inflammatory disorders. Novartis hoped to open it up as a gout drug as well. It appears to decrease gout pain by blocking a protein linked to inflammation. But this gout drug‘s side effects are more dangerous than gout itself! Taking this gout drug for gout pain would be kinda like lopping off your big toe. Sure...you get rid of the pain in your toe, but what the heck...you‘re also now missing a toe! In the company‘s study, almost 70 percent of patients had some mild to moderate side effects, including high blood pressure. In addition, 18 of the patients had skin, respiratory and other infections. Six of the volunteers in the study died. Plus, only 43 of the patients even had three or more injections of Ilaris. Okaaay. And Novartis wants to give this gout drug to the millions of men and women with gout in America? Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. According to Dr. David Felson, a panel member and professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, "I found the safety issues to be overwhelmingly concerning. We‘re giving therapies that in some cases may be life-threatening for a disease that is not. Forty-three patients with recurrent treatment is too small a number for us to be confident that this would be safe for people over time." Interestingly, Dr. Felson hails from BU School of Medicine. This is where they conducted the research on vitamin C, cherries, and gout. No doubt, this played a role in Dr. Felson‘s decision.
  6. Mainstream press misses link between diabetes drug Actos and cancer

    I hate to say I told you so. But every time I come down tough on drugs, it turns out they really deserve it. Take for example, the diabetes drug Actos. A few weeks back, I slammed Actos, despite new research (covered in TIME and The New York Times) that it decreases your risk of developing diabetes. Turns out, I should have come down harder on that darned drug. In fact, this week researchers published a report that found an association between Actos and a certain form of cancer. Plus, this isn‘t the first study to uncover a link between Actos and increased cancer risk. I‘ll give you all the grisly details in a moment. But first, let‘s back up a few months...

    Proof that mainstream reporters eat whatever‘s fed to them

    A month ago, Actos sounded like a wonder drug. Everywhere you looked the mainstream press kept repeating the same statistic...men and women with pre- diabetes who took Actos lowered their risk of developing full-blown diabetes by 72 percent. Sounds impressive, right? Actos may prevent diabetes! But remember the key flaw I told you about (and the mainstream press conveniently omitted)? The study was exceptionally small. In the end, we‘re talking talking about a total difference of 35 people! Considering that 300 million pre-diabetics live in the U.S., how could any doctor give Actos to just one of them based on such slim evidence? And here‘s the icing on the cake... Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Actos, actually conducted this shaky study. In my book, it was purely a PR scheme to boost sales. Actos‘s patent expired in January of this year. But Takeda Pharmaceuticals struck a deal to delay entry of generic versions of the drug until August 2012. Was this their last-ditch effort to boost sales before the generics hit the market? Or maybe... Was it their last-ditch effort to boost sales before something far worse hit the fan...?

    Researchers link Actos to cancer

    The FDA tries to keep tabs on all prescription and OTC drugs once they hit the market. So when you take a drug, even a drug like Tylenol, and have a bad reaction, you‘re supposed to report it to the FDA. Similarly, when you go to see your doctor and talk about your bad reaction to a drug, your doc should report it to the FDA. The FDA keeps track of all these "adverse reactions" -- no matter how small -- in a massive database. This is called the FDA‘s Adverse Event Reporting Program. The FDA compiles and publishes the data annually. But in the case of Actos... A group of Italian researchers analyzed all the adverse events reported to the FDA between 2004 and 2009 for 15 diabetes drugs on the market, including Actos and metformin. When they analyzed the reporting odds ratio (ROR), they found a "definite risk" linking Actos and bladder cancer. The risk of bladder cancer and the other diabetes drugs was "much weaker." The researchers aren‘t sure why Actos may increase your risk of developing bladder cancer. But they think it may have to do with certain receptor cells in your body. You see, Actos works by opening receptor cells so they will become more responsive to insulin. But this may also encourage them to turn cancerous. Now here‘s what troubles even more...

    Actos may be linked to even more problems

    The FDA‘s Adverse Event Reporting System isn‘t perfect. (I know. It‘s shocking, right?) You see, it‘s completely voluntary. It stands to reason there could be more cases of bladder cancer that we don‘t know about. For example, say Joe Smith from Indiana began taking Actos in 2004 for diabetes. Then, out of the blue, he got bladder cancer in 2008. Maybe his doctor never thought to connect Actos to his bladder cancer. None of this business about bladder cancer had hit the press yet. Now, let‘s say Joe is one of the lucky ones and went on to survive bladder cancer. He‘s no longer in treatment. Now we know about the cancer link. But his doctor never reported it to the FDA back in 2008 because back then, no one did. Hopefully, this new study will start to spread some awareness. Just don‘t count on the FDA to move quickly. They have known about the possible link between Actos and bladder cancer for at least a year. In fact, last year the FDA began to take a closer look at Actos after receiving early results from a long-term study by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. That study showed patients with the longest exposure (or highest cumulative dose) to Actos had in increased risk of developing bladder cancer. It will be interesting to see if TIME or The New York Times follows up on their Actos report, won‘t it? (I‘m not holding my breath. Before sending this week‘s GUIDE TO GOOD HEALTH off to my editor, I ran a quick Google search. At that point, The NYT still hadn‘t run anything about the new data linking Actos to bladder cancer. That‘s a full three days after the research hit the newswire. I‘m betting they just let it slip on by.) Well, maybe TIME Magazine will run something in its next issue. After all, the mainstream press is our last unbiased bastion of truth. (Yeah right.)
  7. Carpetbaggers use cellulose in food to cut costs (yes, even organic!)

    A few weeks back, I warned you about "organic carpetbaggers." These unscrupulous manufacturers make junk food with organic ingredients. Then, they have the gall to charge you more for something you think is better for you. But organic doesn‘t always = healthy. Plus, a few carpetbaggers have found a new way to boost their profits. They put a cost-cutting additive in their products. The FDA lets them call this additive "organic," but the stuff is far from natural. I‘ll explain how food manufacturers get away with calling this cheap additive "organic" in a moment, but first consider this...

    Why you‘re paying more than ever at the grocery store

    We‘ve seen a dramatic rise in oil prices in 2011. When this happens, you can always expect to pay more for basic commodities as well. In fact, according to some experts, the price of basic food commodities such as sugar, flour, and cocoa will rise 500 to 1,000 percent over the next two years. This grim reality has sent food manufacturers around the world scrambling to find new ways to keep down the price of Cheese Nips. Enter cellulose. It sounds like something women gripe about during bathing suit season. But it‘s actually a kind of fiber made from wood pulp. Manufacturers use it to create paper products, rayon, cat litter, laundry detergent, explosives, and asphalt. And, oh yes, you might even find it in your yogurt...even your organic yogurt.

    Food industry voodoo

    To food manufacturers, cellulose is the perfect cheap filler. It‘s tasteless, odorless, and calorie-free. It also does a marvelous job of keeping your shredded cheese from clumping. In fact, have you ever looked closely at your bag of shredded cheddar cheese? Hold a few shreds in your hand and you‘ll probably notice a fine white coating on the cheese. This is cellulose. According to the Sargento web site, they use cellulose because it makes "cheese easier to use." Yes, cheese clumping is an enormous dilemma! In fact, have you ever tried to shred real cheddar cheese yourself at home? It clumps together in awful gobs, making it nearly impossible to sprinkle on my tacos! (Hope you can hear the heavy sarcasm there in my voice.) But that‘s not all...

    Wood fiber is so versatile!

    Cellulose helps to extend a processed food‘s shelf life. So the crumb cake can sit on the shelf longer without going rancid. As an added bonus, cellulose also contains fiber! Sure...it‘s usually made from wood fiber. But who cares? Fiber is fiber, right? That‘s what Joanne Slavin thinks, anyway. A reporter from the Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Joanne Slavin, a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, about cellulose. In the interview, Slavin said that adding cellulose to foods is a great idea. She said it bulks up food without adding fat. Plus, she said it‘s a good source of fiber for men and women who don‘t eat enough fruits and vegetables. (Come on, Joanne. Let‘s not stoop to such poor practices. Ever thinking of encouraging these men and women to eat more fruits and vegetables?) Well... With this kind of mainstream acceptance, is it any wonder that food manufacturers add cellulose, instead of real whole grains, to their products? They get to call their product "high in fiber." But it‘s a heck of a lot cheaper than barley or whole wheat. Sounds like a wonder ingredient to me. (Again, notice the sarcasm.) Plus, best of all... Cellulose mimics fat. It‘s an emulsifier and stabilizer. Food makers can inject a bit of it into their pudding to make it taste rich and creamy, but it doesn‘t contain the extra fat. As a result, consumers can eat more of it! Here‘s what really gets me, though...

    FDA misses the boat

    The FDA allows food manufacturers to add powdered cellulose to their products and still call them "organic." I know what you‘re thinking. What‘s the big deal, right? Cellulose is natural enough. It‘s made from wood. Yes, but they take the wood pulp and treat it with various chemicals to strip away the cellulose. (Other forms of cellulose go through much more processing.) I hardly consider that an organic process. Here‘s the bottom line... In the scheme of things, cellulose is actually not that bad. The FDA says it‘s safe for human consumption. In fact, you find cellulose naturally in many fruits and vegetables, such as celery and broccoli. But do I think you should buy an organic pancakes filled made with cellulose? No. Why not? Well, for me, it‘s about the extra processing. The goal is to eat whole foods that haven‘t been processed in any way! If you want pancakes, make them with whole wheat flour, milk, and eggs. Don‘t buy boxed pancake mix with powdered cellulose. When a product contains cellulose, it tends to include a bunch of other artificial ingredients as well. Plus, adding cellulose is a lazy man‘s way of getting more fiber, less fat, and a longer shelf life. In general, I think you should try to avoid foods that contain it. My advice? Read labels carefully...even the organic ones! Avoid anything that says it contains powdered cellulose. Be extra mindful of non-organic products as well. These may contain forms of cellulose treated heavily with chemicals. Watch out for products that contain microcrystalline cellulose, MCC, cellulose gum, or carboxymethyl cellulose. These forms of cellulose alter the texture of foods. Generally, you only find them in highly-processed foods. On the other hand, go ahead and enjoy foods that naturally contain cellulose, such as cruciferous vegetables like celery, broccoli, and cabbage.
  8. Benzedrine and Dexadrine linked to Parkinson’s disease

    Two drugs used to treat behavior disorders in children might increase Parkinson‘s disease risk. That‘s according to new research presented at last month‘s meeting of American neurologists. For this study, researchers looked at data for 66,000 men and women living in California. During the 30-year study, 1,154 people developed Parkinson‘s disease. Researchers uncovered a strong link between the drugs Benzedrine and Dexadrine and Parkinson‘s disease. In fact, volunteers who took these drugs were 60 percent more likely to develop Parkinson‘s (compared to those who didn‘t take the drugs). Benzedrine and Dexadrine are components in drugs used to treat ADHD, narcolepsy, and brain injuries. The researchers call for more research into the problem. But clearly, there‘s a connection. So before anyone puts their kid on an amphetamine for ADHD, I suggest looking at artificial food additives instead. Two weeks ago, I told you about a study that connected hyperactivity in children with artificial food coloring. As always, investigate all your options before resorting to risky drug treatments.
  9. Natural benefits of olive leaf extract outshine Big Pharma superstar

    Revealed: Natural competitor works just as well as Big Pharma superstar!

    Did you know that researchers recently discovered that an all-natural extract can lower your blood pressure as well as key Big Pharma drugs…in just eight weeks!? Don‘t feel bad if you hadn‘t heard about this breakthrough. Big Pharma pays big bucks to make sure small studies like this one never see the light of day. They‘d rather keep you in the dark to pad their own pockets. In fact, Big Pharma spends far more money on marketing than it does on research. One recent report found that drugs companies shell out $57 billion a year on promotion. But it spends almost half that research and development. So you tell me. What‘s more important to Big Pharma: Keeping you healthy or keeping your attention? Big Pharma is so obsessed about promotion because if people knew about this natural competitor, they wouldn‘t need to rely on manufactured solutions. Just consider this small (but impressive) study recently published that fell through the mainstream cracks...

    Natural plant extract lowers BP as well as ACE inhibitor

    ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors are among the most widely used drugs in the world. They lower your blood pressure by blocking a hormone called angiotensin II. This hormone causes your blood vessels to constrict, so your heart must work overtime to pump bloodaround your body. By blocking this hormone, ACE inhibitors allow your blood vessels to relax and reopen. As a result, your blood pressure comes down and your heart gets a break. Now here‘s where things get interesting... Researchers recently found that olive leaf extract (OLE) could lower blood pressure as well as one popular ACE inhibitor! For the study, they recruited patients with stage-1 high blood pressure. They divided the patients into two groups. One group took 500 mg of OLE twice daily for eight weeks. The second group received 12.5 mg of the ACE inhibitor Captopril twice daily for eight weeks. At the end of the trial, researchers found that both groups lowered their blood pressure. On average, the OLE group went from 149/94 to 138/89. The ACE inhibitor group went from 148/94 to 135/87. There was one major difference, however, between the two groups. The olive leaf group lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. The ACE inhibitor group did not see these improvements. (To do that, they‘d have to pop another drug. Yes, just think of the gains for Big Pharma!)

    One compound does double duty

    The researchers believe a compound called oleuropein holds the key to OLE‘s success. They believe oleuropein helps relax your blood vessels and sweep away bad cholesterol. Plus, this isn‘t the first time researchers used OLE to lower high blood pressure... Back in 2008, researchers studied identical twins with borderline high blood pressure. One twin received 500 mg of OLE twice a day for eight weeks. The other twin received "lifestyle advice." After just eight weeks, the OLE group lowered their BP from 137/80 to 126/76. They also saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol fall. The "lifestyle advice" group, on the other hand, only slightly improved their cholesterol scores. Their BP scores stayed the same.

    Proceed with caution...

    If I had to choose, I‘d take OLE over an ACE inhibitor any day of the week (and twice on Sundays!). Just look at the side effects for ACE inhibitors and you‘ll probably see it my way too. (The most common side effect for Captopril is a chronic, dry cough. But people who take this drug can also suffer from kidney failure as well as head, neck, and intestinal angioedema. This type of swelling is similar to hives, except it occurs beneath the skin and can be lifethreatening if it affects your airway. Captopril is also associated with a blood disorder called neutropenia. With this disorder, your white blood cell count drops to abnormally low levels. This is not good because white blood cells protect you against infection and pathogens. Lastly, pregnant women should not take Captopril. It raises the risk of your child developing "major" congenital malformations.) Nevertheless... I do have some concerns about taking OLE continuously. You see...

    Olive leaf extract is well-known in alternative medicine. We use it to fight colds and infections. But I don‘t ever use it continuously, as it can almost work too well. In fact, over time, OLE can wipe out your body‘s supply of good bacteria...especially in your gut. Now, maybe if you take plenty of probiotics along with the OLE you‘ll sidestep the problem. But these are untested waters, and I‘ll keep you posted about any further studies. Before trying OLE for high blood pressure, I‘d seek the advice of a professional. Here is a list web sites where you can search for a natural health practitioner in your area:

    • The American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) at http://www.holisticmedicine.org
    • The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) at http://www.naturopathic.org
    • Orthomolecular Medicine at http://www.orthomolecular.org
    • The American College for Advancement in Medicine: http://www.acamnet.org

    Lastly, go back and read my Guide to Good Health from last August. In this article, you‘ll learn about my five-step plan to lower your blood pressure without drugs.

  10. Big Pharma creates ambiguity beween vitamins and prescription drugs

    Big Pharma‘s dark magic turns vitamins into gold

    Did you know that Big Pharma has mastered the art of dark magic?

    Yep. They‘ve figured out how to turn a $7 vitamin into an outrageously expensive "prescription medicine" that you can only get with doctor‘s order. And it‘s a profitable hoax, earning hundreds of millions of dollars for the drug giant Abbott Labs. (And better yet, this is not Big Pharma‘s first stab at black magic. They‘ve done it before...and that "prescription medicine" now rakes in billions of dollars each year.)

    I‘ll explain to you how Abbott pulled off this hoax in a moment, but first let me back up...

    Last month‘s Journal of the American Medical Association ran an ad for a prescription medicine called Niaspan. It‘s targeted to men and women with coronary artery disease and high cholesterol. According to Niaspan web site, this prescription medicine:

      ...works to raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels in people with abnormal cholesterol levels. Medical experts believe thelpstarhat increasing good cholesterol can help carry excess cholesterol out of your body. Niaspan also works to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

    Plus, Niaspan can "reduce the risk of another heart attack in people who have high cholesterol and a history of heart attacks." Sounds great if you‘re someone who takes drugs, right?

    Now, here‘s the thing about Niaspan...

    It isn‘t really a drug.

    In fact, it‘s nothing more than time-released niacin (otherwise known as vitamin B3)! Plus, you can get a month‘s supply of the stuff (without a doctor‘s order) from most vitamin shops for under $7.

    Without a doubt, you‘re much better off going that route...because Abbott Labs will charge you a heck of a lot more. I‘ll tell you exactly how much more a little later. But first, consider this...

    Big Pharma pulled a bait and switch before

    A few years back, Big Pharma pulled a similar type of bait and switch. You‘ve probably heard of a prescription drug called Lovaza, right? I chuckled when I first heard about it, because it‘s nothing more than refined fish oil. But it sounds snazzy and you need a doctor‘s prescription for it...so it must work better than regular fish oil, right?

    Wrong.

    It doesn‘t. It contains the same active ingredients you find in fish oil: EPA and DHA.

    But Big Pharma managed to fool many, many Americans with this hoax.

    In fact, this kind of con is hugely profitable for Big Pharma. Global sales of Lovaza top $1 billion dollars per year. For this reason alone, we will see more and more vitamins magically "repackaged" and sold as drugs.

    Big Pharma boosts profits with copycat drugs

    In the case of niacin, Abbott Labs saw how well this B vitamin could lower your cholesterol and decided to get in on the action.

    They put some execs in a board room to rename it. Then, they came up with a slick marketing campaign to confuse the heck out of you.

    The ads make Niaspan sound more desirable than regular old vitamin B, with claims that it lowers your cholesterol and your heart attack risk. (You see, drug companies have carte blanche to talk about diseases in their marketing campaigns. Vitamin companies cannot or they risk getting shut down by the FDA. So suddenly, niacin becomes a "prescription medicine" targeted to patients with heart disease.)

    So with a flick of the dark magic wand, suddenly you can only get niacin (er, Niaspan) with a doctor‘s prescription.

    Unfortunately, this scheme will snow lots of folks...especially those who think a vitamin can‘t possibly lower their cholesterol...only a drug can do that! These folks will also buy Niaspan for an outrageous price (I promise I‘ll get to that in a moment) and Abbott Labs gets to keep the tidy profits.

    The real truth about niacin

    Niacin is a great vitamin. I‘ve talked about it before. A water-soluble B vitamin, it helps your body convert carbs into fuel. It can also dramatically raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. I‘m talking increases of 15 to 35 percent. This alone helps to sweep the bad cholesterol out of your system. Plus, niacin can lower your triglycerides as well.

    No wonder Big Pharma became interested in niacin, right?

    Now, niacin does have one main side effect. It can cause a "niacin flush" effect, with symptoms of tingling, redness, and itching similar to temporary sunburn. But this only lasts 15 minutes or so. Plus, it tends to go away altogether once the body becomes more accustomed to the higher dosages.

    Niaspan gets around this because it contains time-release niacin. This reduces the amount of flushing you experience. But I‘d stay away from it. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, time-release niacin may be more toxic to your liver than immediate-release forms.

    Just how much does this copycat niacin cost?

    After I saw the Niaspan ad, I was curious. I wanted to know how much Abbott charged for the stuff.

    So I went to my local Walmart and asked the pharmacist on duty how much a 30-day supply runs. She told me that 30 Niaspan tablets (1,000 mg each) cost a whopping $139.08.

    I was so dumbfounded, I asked her to write it down. Who the heck would pay that much when you can get it at the grocery store for under seven bucks?

    Well, apparently, a lot of folks.

    Copycat niacin is big business. I ran a quick check on drugs.com and found that Niaspan actually ranks among the top 50 best-selling drugs in America. In 2009, it even sold more units than Cialis and Tamiflu.

    Go figure.

    Well, regular old immediate-release niacin from your grocery store shelf works just as well. Plus, I think about it will be a whole lot easier on your wallet (non-time-release is often even less than $7!).

    For anyone with high cholesterol, I‘d suggest starting with 100 mg of it three times day. This is not really enough to get the job done, usually, but it can get you used to the flush. Once your tissues get used to that dose, you can increase to 250 or 500 mg three times day, but check with your doc.

    Also, if you take prescription niacin now, be sure to talk to your doctor before making the switch.

  11. Vitamin D conspiracy leads straight to Big Pharma

    You've probably heard about the bad rap vitamin D has been getting lately. The argument goes something like this...the vitamin D crisis isn't as bad as we thought. You probably don't need as much of it as we thought. But it's a free country. So go ahead and take 400 IU of it per day, if you want. That's more than enough. Just don't go over 4,000 IU per day. "High doses" like that can increase your risk for "harm." These new guidelines come from the U.S. Institute of Medicine (or IOM), a powerful non-profit agency that advises the nation of matters of health. But here's the problem: Their report is pure propaganda. In fact, I believe these low doses of vitamin D are a deliberate attempt to keep the American public needing more drugs until the day they die. (I'll admit,that sounds a tad paranoid. But I'll explain why my paranoia is well-founded in a moment.) First, let's look at the three major problems with the IOM research.

    Leave it to the IOM to redefine "majority"

    First off, the IOM report states that the "majority" of adults living in the U.S. get enough vitamin D...and that's just nonsense. As you'll recall, last week I told you about a major CDC study that found almost 80 percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin D. Plus, another major study published late last year by researchers from the University of Tennessee came up with similar results. In fact, this time researchers found that 87 percent of the general population is mildly to severely deficient in vitamin D. Even the most conservative estimates put vitamin D deficiencies at about 50 percent of the population. So how the IOM can confidently claim the "majority" of Americans get enough vitamin D, I have no idea!

    Spend a minute in the sun each day

    The IOM report also states that "North Americans need on average 400 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D per day. People age 71 and older may require as much as 800 IUs per day because of potential changes in people's bodies as they age." Again, this is pure nonsense. But before I go any further, here's a quick biochemistry primer... The IOM says you only need 400 IU of vitamin D. But they actually mean 400 IU of vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol). Your skin makes this natural form of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. In fact, spending just 30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, your skin will produce anywhere from 10,000 IU to 50,000 IU of D3! Plus, you can also take D3 as a supplement. Next... Vitamin D3 passes through your liver and it turns into a pre-hormone called 25-hydroxycholecalciferol. This is abbreviated as 25(OH)D. When you get a vitamin D blood test, we really want to see how much 25(OH)D is in your blood. We measure 25(OH)D in nanomoles per liter or nmol/l. Now, stick with me, because here's where it gets interesting... According to the IOM report, taking just 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day will give 97 percent of us a blood serum level of 50 nmol/l. And that level will protect us from fractures. Sounds okay, I guess. But let me put this another way to show you just how silly the IOM recommendation really is... Let's assume that your body makes 10,000 IU of D3 for every 30 minutes spent in the sun without sunscreen. (Most experts say you make at least twice that much...but let's not get picky.) So, how long does it take for your body to make 400 IU of D3? Hurray! Just 1.2 minutes in the sun! That's all you need to keep your bones strong. Is it me, or does that just sound wrong? Well, here's the good news. It isn't just me. It is wrong. And there's some solid scientific proof to back me up...

    IOM gets their numbers wrong

    Two major meta-analysis' from 2009 found that 50 nmol/l of 25(OH)D in your blood isn't enough to protect you from a fracture or a fall. In fact, 28 separate studies found that 50 nmol/l isn't enough! Plus, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends men and women have 75 nmol/l of 25(OH)D. This is what it takes to protect you from accidental falls and fractures. Lastly, numerous studies over the years show that the more 25(0H)D in your blood, the greater your bone density. But to get up to those higher levels of 25(OH)D, you need more D3. Plus, here's another interesting twist. The authors of the IOM report most likely knew about all this research...they just chose to ignore it. You see, before publishing the new vitamin D guidelines, the IOM board consulted with Dr. Walter Willet. The board even thanked Dr. Willet at the end of their report. So who's Dr. Willet? He's a vitamin D expert and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard. He also co-wrote one of the 2009 reports on vitamin D I mentioned earlier. The IOM, however, ignored his findings. But don't feel bad, Dr. Willet. Yours isn't the only research the IOM ignored...

    IOM report ignores research on vitamin D and disease

    Remember how I told you the IOM said 400 IU of D3 is enough to protect you against osteoporosis? Well, what about everything else...like cancer and heart disease? In a press conference, IOM chair Dr. Catherine Ross said "We could not find solid evidence that consuming more [vitamin D] would protect the public from chronic disease ranging from cancer to diabetes to improved immune function." And with that simple statement, Dr. Ross lost all credibility. Here are some of the best studies linking vitamin D and major diseases: Breast cancer: Women with vitamin D blood serum levels less than 50 nmol/mL are eight times more likely to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer. Colon cancer: Men and women with the highest vitamin D levels cut their colon cancer risk by 40 percent. Heart Disease & Stroke: Men and women with low vitamin D double their heart attack or stroke risk. Cognitive decline: Older women with low vitamin D are twice as likely to suffer cognitive impairment. Diabetes: A whopping 91 percent of diabetics have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Plus, the less vitamin D in their blood, the greater their blood sugar problems. And I'm just scratching the surface here! If you want to look at all the scientific data on vitamin D, the Vitamin D Council is a good place to start. They list the studies by disease, so you can see the all scientific data Dr. Catherine Ross and her colleagues missed. In closing, there's one last reason why the IOM report has the pungent smell of propaganda...

    There's a rat in the house

    Glenville Jones, PhD is one of the authors of the IOM report. He's a scientist and also the co-inventor of drug made by a company called Cytochroma. This drug is still in development....but what condition will they treat with their top-secret drug? You got it. Vitamin D deficiencies! (I'm not making this stuff up. You can see the patent for yourself at the U.S. Patent Office website.) Dr. Jones also sits on the scientific advisory board of a drug company called Receptor Therapeutics. These guys also made a synthetic vitamin D treatment for cancer...in fact THREE synthetic vitamin D treatments for cancer. (Drug companies use synthetic vitamin D because they can patent it and make a huge profit. You can't patent natural vitamin D.) Well, isn't that so thoughtful... You don't need to take vitamin D. But if you do happen to get cancer...guess who plans to have a vitamin D drug you can take? Here's the bottom line for you: Ignore anything published by the IOM. Take up to 5,000 IU of natural vitamin D3 each day. And avoid anything made by Cytochroma and Receptor Therapeutics. Want more facts about vitamin D? Look back at all the Guide to Good Health reports by following this link. In the search box, type "vitamin D" and you'll find 40 articles.
  12. Androgen deprivation therapy may increase the risk of colon cancer

    A new study conducted by Swiss researchers found that men treated for prostate cancer might increase their risk of developing colon cancer. Fortunately, that's only a factor if you choose androgen deprivation therapy as treatment, something I've warned you against before.

    Watchful waiting vs. hormone therapy

    When a man is first diagnosed with prostate cancer, many times the oncologist will suggest watchful waiting. And this is a good decision. In most cases, prostate cancer grows slowly. And you're far more likely to die with prostate cancer than from it. That is, unless you follow an aggressive course of treatment called androgen deprivation therapy or ADT. It sounds technical. But it's not.

    Androgens are male hormones. And testosterone is the main male androgen. Men need it for many reasons and sexual function is just one small part. In fact, testosterone is critical in regulating a man's:

    • Weight
    • Blood pressure
    • Blood sugar
    • Heart health
    • Mood
    • Mental sharpness
    • Muscle and bone mass
    • Brain function
    But androgen deprivation therapy aims to reduce androgens in the male body. That's because cutting off a man's testosterone shrinks the prostate and blocks the growth of prostate cancer. There are two basic ways doctors accomplish this feat. (If your doctor suggests either one, run for the hills. I'll explain more about that in a moment.) Your first option is to have your testicles removed. This is called an orchiectomy. Clearly, this is not something that I favor in any way. And thankfully, it's not something most men choose. Your second option is to take a drug called a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist. This may sound less painful, but the result is just as bad. In fact.... The new Swiss study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that both forms of androgen deprivation therapy may raise your colorectal cancer risk.

    Nothing good comes from two bad choices...

    For the study, Swiss scientists analyzed data on 108,000 men with prostate cancer. All of the men were older than 67 and had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1993 and 2002. In addition, all of the men had taken a GnRH antagonist or received an orchiectomy.

    After analyzing the data, researchers found a 30 to 40 percent increase in colorectal cancer risk in these men. So by following androgen deprivation therapy, these men may have traded prostate cancer -- not likely to have killed them -- for a far more deadly form of cancer.

    Now, it's true that orchiectomy is rarely used. Most men just won't go for it...and with good reason. But GnRH antagonists are often prescribed to men who don't want to go under the knife. It's important to remember, though, that these drugs don't cure prostate cancer; they just shrink the tumors.

    Eligard is one kind of GnRH antagonist. And one of the worst, if you ask me. According to the drug company's own clinical trials, men who used Eligard for just two to four weeks saw testosterone levels drop to below the "castrate threshold."

    This means that Eligard--in just two to four weeks--can push your testosterone so low, it's as if you've been castrated! (And, oh yes, it shrinks your prostate gland as well...because you've got no testosterone left in your body.)

    Therefore, the new FDA warning should come as no surprise. Taking a GnRH antagonist may raise your risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Plus, according to the National Cancer Institute study, we can now add colon cancer to that list of possible outcomes of choosing androgen deprivation therapy.

    Safer options for prostate cancer

    As I said earlier, watchful waiting (or as I like to call it, "active surveillance") is often your best option. According to a 2009 study of nearly 15,000 men with prostate cancer, this tactic clearly had its benefits. In fact, in that study, 94 percent of the men who adopted active surveillance had at least a 10-year-survival rate.

    According to Timothy J. Wilt, MD, this study "reinforces accumulating evidence that the vast majority of men with prostate cancer detected by PSA testing have a very good prognosis and are unlikely to die of their cancer or suffer serious medical consequences from disease spread at 10 or more years, even if not treated with surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy."

    He went on to say, "This study also supports the view that many men are detected and treated who are unlikely to benefit, and thus may undergo harms that exceed benefits."

    In addition, there are plenty steps you can and should take to prevent prostate cancer. First off, take a look back at previous issues of my Guide to Good Health by visiting the blog here. Then just type "prostate" into the search box.

    You'll find plenty of recent articles on the topic of preventing prostate cancer. One of my favorites showed that eating nuts everyday reduced prostate tumor growth by 30 to 40 percent.

    P.S. There's an excellent FREE report called 5 All-Natural Solutions for Banishing Prostate Problems for Good that I recommend every man read. Just click on the link to get your free report and learn how to create a healthy prostate without drugs or surgery.

  13. Skip the sedative hypnotic drugs and get a safer night sleep

    A recent study found that men and women who take sedatives to sleep may increase their mortality risk by more than a third. Now, I know that lack of sleep is a huge problem, especially if you‘re under a lot of stress. But if you take a drug like Ambien to catch some z‘s, you could be heading for disaster. The good news is, there are plenty of safe and natural sleep aids that won‘t send you to an early grave. More about those in a moment. But first, let me explain...

    Why sedatives are so bad

    According to some research, 20 percent of adults use some type of sleep aid each night. You may take an OTC drug like Tylenol PM to help get you through a rough couple of nights. These drugs contain antihistamines plus pain relievers. These drugs are tough on the liver and your digestive system, but they‘re not nearly in the same league as a prescription drug like Ambien. Ambien belongs to a class of drugs called sedative hypnotics. And there are two distinct types of sedative hypnotics. The first type of sedatives -- called benzodiazepines -- hit the market in the 1950s. Xanax and Ativan are the most well-known. Side effects range from daytime sleepiness to urinary incontinence to respiratory problems. But the biggest drawback for these heavy-duty drugs is the tendency to become dependent on them. Plus, these drugs stay in your system longer than a newer class of hypnotics called non-benzodiazepines. And that‘s why the more recent drugs like Ambien have been such blockbusters. They‘re perceived as safer and less addicting. But according to the new study, they‘re just as dangerous...if not more so because you think you‘re safe taking them for a longer period.

    Sedative drug use may increase mortality risk by 36 percent

    For this study, scientists analyzed data for 14,000 people. They found that men and women who took a sedative hypnotic drug had a 36 percent greater risk of dying. And those at greatest risk were men and women over age 55. In addition, men and women with pre-existing health conditions -- such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or respiratory disease -- also ran a greater risk of dying after taking a sedative. According to the published report, there are a number of reasons why this happens... First off, both types of sedative hypnotic drugs impair your ability to stay alert. They also affect your coordination. This -- they authors wrote -- contributes to an increase in falls and car accidents. Secondly, we know that these drugs can also trigger or aggravate breathing disorders. So imagine what taking a sedative will do to someone who‘s already got sleep apnea or asthma...or someone who smokes! It‘s a recipe for disaster. Lastly, these drugs may cause depression...or make existing depression worse. They can also play games with your central nervous system. As a result, feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin can be disturbed. Therefore, I‘m guessing that some of the premature deaths in the study may have occurred due to suicide. So if sedative drugs aren‘t the answer to your sleep problems...what is?

    Safely and naturally improving your sleep

    You already know to keep your room a cool, dark, TV-free zone. And exercising before bed will just rev you up. Plus, here are few other tips that should help you get back to a healthy sleep pattern... 1. Get off all stimulants. Yup, even in the morning. Coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate are the obvious culprits. But you should also avoid taking ginseng, B12, or milk thistle before bed too. You‘ll also want to avoid eating bacon, cheese, chocolate, ham, potatoes, sugar, sausage, spinach, or tomatoes close to bedtime. These foods contain tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant. Most processed foods also contain tyramine. 2. Try upping your daily magnesium. Go for 500 mg capsules at bedtime. If you also suffer from mild anxiety, this amount of magnesium may also lessen your symptoms. 3. If you‘re under the age of 40, try using l-tryptophan. It‘s an essential amino acid found in turkey, chicken, tuna, whole grain crackers, eggs, bananas, figs and dates. So, if you must eat before bed, these are all safe choices. But of course, to get enough l-tryptophan from food, you‘d have too eat a lot of it— nothing like a whole turkey before bed, right? So supplementing is ideal. L- tryptophan will help gently induce sleep. Plus, unlike many drugs, it won‘t cause morning-after fogginess. That said, unfortunately, if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you may have trouble absorbing l-tryptophan. So if that‘s the case, stick to the other options. 4. I‘ve also seen excellent results using melatonin supplements. Just beware, melatonin is a hormone. So I don‘t recommend taking it if you‘re younger than 40. But as we get older, our melatonin production slows down so there‘s less of a chance of you getting "too much" by taking it as a supplement. Go for the smallest dose to start: 1.5 mg at bedtime for ages 40 to 50 or 3 mg for people over the age of 50. With higher dosages, you might wake up drowsy. If that‘s the case, you know you‘ve taken too much. 5. After a certain age, many of us wake up every night to visit the bathroom. If you want to get ahead of the curve and support healthy bladder function now, there‘s a plant extract call three-leaf caper that just might help. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, three-leaf caper strengthens and tones the bladder wall so it can empty more fully. You‘ll find three-leaf caper, along with several other herbs that support bladder function, in a NorthStar Nutritional product called UroLogic. To learn more about three-leaf caper and UroLogic, read this: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/p/UroLogic.htm. For men interested in a product that supports bladder as well as prostate function, consider ProSense by NorthStar Nutritionals: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/p/ProSense.htm. It‘s a safe, natural, and effective way to address both bladder and prostate health. Just remember, when you sleep it‘s your body‘s time to refresh and reboot. It‘s vital for your overall health. So if you‘re not getting enough restful z‘s, give one of these natural sleep aids a try.
  14. Manage your blood sugar safely, without Avandia side effects

    Last month, the FDA restricted sales of the diabetes drug Avandia. From now on, you can only get it if you‘ve tried every other drug on the market without success. Or, if you‘re already taking Avandia, you‘ll be allowed to continue to take it as well. (Hopefully, this one doesn‘t apply to you.) But you‘ll have to attest that you understand the serious risks involved...namely that taking Avandia ups your chances of having a heart attack and stroke. And that risk is nothing to sneeze at. According to a recent New York Times article, "One study estimated that from 1999 to 2009, more than 47,000 people taking Avandia needlessly suffered a heart attack, stroke or heart failure, or died." Sensibly, the European Union banned the drug all together. The good news is, in many cases, natural methods can help control your blood sugar. Visit www.northstarnutritionals.com and run a search of previous Guide to Good Health articles. Just type "DIABETES" into the Guide to Good Health search box. You‘ll find 42 recent articles about how to naturally lower your blood sugar. One recent article tells you how men and women with diabetes lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by up to 29 percent in just 40 days without drugs or major changes in their diet. How‘d they do it? Just click here to find out.
  15. Muscle damage: More reasons to avoid statin drugs

    It's not uncommon to hear someone who takes a statin drug (like Crestor, Lipitor or Zocor) complain of muscle aches and pains. But that's a fairly benign trade-off, right? After all, these drugs help lower your cholesterol. Well, not so fast. Statin drugs are far more dangerous than Big Pharma wants you to know. In fact, even those "benign" aches and pains could be much more serious than you think. According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, statin drugs may actually cause structural damage to your muscles. Plus -- the damage may be irreversible. So even if you stop taking the drug, the muscle pain and weakness doesn't go away. Defining muscle pain Here's the deal. About 10 to 15 percent of people taking statin drugs reportedly experience minor muscle aches and weakness called myalgia. A smaller percentage of people taking statins experience severe weakness or pain that doesn't go away. This is called myopathy. You're more likely to suffer from myopathy if you take a statin drug and:
    • You're over 65
    • You take certain types of prescription drugs
    • You follow a rigorous exercise regimen
    Oh yes -- and you're more likely to suffer from muscle pain or weakness by taking higher doses of statin drugs. Connecting the dots The authors of recent study wanted to see if this type of statin-induced muscle pain was an indication of a bigger problem. They biopsied muscle samples from 44 men and women who suffered from statin-induced myopathy. Prior to the biopsy, the patients had been taking a variety of different statin drugs, including: Zocor, Pravachol, Lipitor, Lescol, and Crestor. According to the results, almost 57 percent of the biopsied samples (in 25 out of 44 patients) had confirmed structural damage to the muscle fibers. And in case you're wondering -- their muscles didn't necessarily repair themselves once they stopped taking the statin. In fact, the study included several samples from patients who had stopped taking their statin drug at least three weeks prior to the study. So even though these patients no longer had statins in their blood stream, their tissues still reflected structural damage. This led the researchers to conclude that not only could statin drugs cause damage, but in some patients they may also inhibit the body's ability to repair damaged muscles. Predictable results… So why do the results of this study not surprise me? Well, you may recall that in 2001 the statin drug Baycol was pulled off the market. Any guess why? You got it. It caused muscle damage. In fact, Baycol was linked to 52 deaths due to rhabdomyolysis, a rapid deterioration of muscle tissue. It's no small stretch to assume that the other statin drugs on the market (which perform similar chemical actions in the body) would cause similar -- perhaps not fatal -- damage to your muscle tissue. Now onto kids… The results of this latest study have me particularly angry, especially when I think of all the kids who may suffer irreparable muscle damage. As you'll recall, last year the American Association of Pediatricians (the most ill-informed docs on the planet, in my opinion) recommended that children as young as 8 years old get screened for high cholesterol. If their numbers are high, their pediatrician should get them on a statin, according to the AAP. But if these drugs can cause irreversible damage to adult muscles, imagine what they might do to young children with growing muscles! Healthy tickers without statins There's plenty you can do to prevent a heart attack without taking a statin drug for the rest of your life. The first step is to stop smoking (if you smoke). The second step is to give your diet an overhaul. Cutting out processed and fried foods is a must. The third step is to get moving. Just a 10 minute walk every day that raises your pulse will make a big difference. Lastly, in additional to a quality daily vitamin, consider adding these heart-wise supplements to your regimen: 1. 1,000 mg L-Carnitine 2. 100 mg Coenzyme Q10 3. 500 to 800 mg Magnesium 4. 400 to 800 IU Vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols) In closing, if you currently take a statin drug and experience muscle pain, I seriously hope you'll reconsider your options. Seek the advice of a qualified naturopath to help you map out a personalized plan that doesn't include a statin drug.

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