Topic 1

  1. Acetaminophen warning falls short

    FDA inaction on acetaminophen could kill you

    It's a common dose of a common med -- one that's in millions of homes across the country and around the world.

    Odds are, it's even sitting in your medicine chest right now.

    It's 500 mg of acetaminophen, or the exact dose found in Extra-Strength Tylenol and its generic equivalents -- but the fact that it's so common doesn't make it safe.

    Even the FDA says this dose is so dangerous that it shouldn't exist -- just don't expect them to actually do much about it.

    I'm sure you've heard by now about the so-called ban on doses higher than 325 mg. The agency says -- correctly -- that higher doses aren't much better at relieving pain and increase the risk of liver injury and even liver failure.

    But the ban is for prescription drugs only and doesn't apply to Extra-Strength Tylenol or any other over-the-counter versions of acetaminophen, which together account for more than 90 percent of the drug's sales.


    Allow me to pull back the curtain and show you the ugly truth about who really calls the shots at the FDA -- because it's not doctors or scientists with your best interests at heart.

    It's the drug industry itself.

    Back in 2009, the FDA hinted that it would like to reduce the dose of over-the-counter acetaminophen drugs, specifically to reduce the risk of liver damage. And at that moment, the makers of Tylenol made it quite clear who wears the pants.

    The drug's maker began ordering the FDA around, spelling out the conditions the agency would have to meet to make the change.

    Specifically, the company told the FDA it would have to amend its internal final analgesic monograph, provide a notice and comment period of at least a year and then another period to implement the change.

    Instead, the company "suggested" merely updating the fine-print warning telling consumers to limit themselves to 3,000 mg per day instead of 4,000 mg per day.

    It was an offer the agency couldn't refuse, so that's what we have: a change in the fine print instead of a change in the dose (and 3,000 mg per day is still far too much).

    That means millions of people who continue to take these high-dose versions of the drug are still facing big risks -- risks that are neither small nor rare, since acetaminophen sends 80,000 Americans to the ER every year and is the nation's number one cause of acute liver failure.

    And thanks to the FDA's inaction on this critical issue, you can bet the numbers will continue to rise.

    But you don't need the FDA to protect your or your family. You've got me -- and I've got four common-sense tips for dealing with pain.

    First, consider natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin and MSM for pain relief. And for chronic pain, I recommend acupuncture, cold laser and other nondrug options.

    Second, if you do need a painkiller, limit yourself to the smallest possible dose for the shortest possible period.

    Third, be aware of how easy it is to overdose on acetaminophen, because it's not just found in painkillers. It's in everything from cold remedies to sleep meds. It's so common that many of the people who overdose had no idea they were taking it at all.

    And fourth, work with a holistic medical doctor who can identify and correct the cause of your pain so you won't need painkillers of any kind.

  2. Low melatonin increases prostate risk

    Is skipping out on sleep raising your cancer risk?

    Can't sleep?

    You're facing more than just a miserable day. If you have long-term sleep problems, you're facing a higher risk of disease -- including a higher risk of cancer.

    Low levels of the sleep hormone melatonin are known to increase the risk of cancer in men and women alike. But today, I'm going to focus on men -- because new research finds that low levels of melatonin can increase the risk of prostate cancer.

    And not just any old prostate cancer, either.

    While many prostate tumors are harmless and often need no treatment at all, low melatonin can increase your risk of the advanced prostate cancers that could hurt or even kill you, according to the study.

    That's the bad news.

    Ready for the good news? You can slash your risk of this potentially deadly disease simply by sleeping better.

    Raise your melatonin levels, and your risk of advanced prostate cancer will plunge by 75 percent, according to the new study of 928 Icelandic men.

    I can't think of anything else that can cut your risk by that much, so if you're not sleeping well, it's time to make a few changes -- and that means more than just getting the right amount of sleep.

    It means sleeping at the right times, too.

    Since your body uses sunlight as its cue to start and stop melatonin production, being asleep during the day and awake at night could also lower your hormone levels, even if you get plenty of sleep.

    That's why night work has been linked to a higher risk of cancer in men and women alike.

    In addition, make sure you get the right quality of sleep. Sleep drugs, for example, might increase your total sleep (although that's debatable in many cases), but they won't boost your melatonin levels.

    In fact, in the new study, a third of men with sleep problems were on those drugs -- and their melatonin levels remained low.

    In some cases, melatonin supplements can both increase your body's level of this essential hormone and help you get better sleep at the same time.

    (Think that afternoon coffee isn't affecting your sleep? Think again. Click here for the scoop)

    But in many other cases, sleep problems have another underlying cause such as an imbalance in other hormones, or a nutritional deficiency. I recommend working with a holistic medical doctor who can test for and treat those causes naturally.

    And for complete natural hormone testing and treatment -- as well as natural sleep solutions -- in the southern California area, make an appointment to see me at my clinic outside San Diego.

    If you're not here in California, I'm also available for telephone consultations. Call 855-DOC-MARK to learn more.

  3. Colonoscopies and polyps

    Docs who take their time during a colonoscopy are more likely to spot potentially cancerous growths, according to a new study.
  4. People who drink diet soda eat more empty calories

    Switch to diet soda and you probably won't lose weight. You might even gain it -- because new research shows how diet soda drinkers eat more empty calories.
  5. Physical activity can prevent heart attack and stroke

    Walk more, and you could slash your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to new research.
  6. Water tests expose contaminants across U.S.

    Dangerous contaminants are turning up in water across the country -- including treated water -- according to new tests.
  7. Vitamin B12 levels can slash your risk of a fracture

    Vitamin B12 can reduce the risk of fracture, especially lumbar fracture, according to a new study of senior men.
  8. Beat diabetes risk factors with diet

    Switching to a Mediterranean diet with olive oil can help you to avoid diabetes even if you're already at risk for it.
  9. Vitamin E can slow Alzheimer's

    Vitamin E -- but not drugs -- can slow the functional decline in Alzheimer's patients, according to new research.
  10. Meniscus injury doesn't need surgery

    Meniscus surgery is unnecessary most of the time as new research shows that a sham procedure works just as well.
  11. Calcium deposits predict heart risk

    Levels of calcium in the artery are one of the best predictors of heart risk -- not cholesterol.
  12. Sleep medications could cause heart attack

    The main ingredient in sleep drugs such as Ambien can increase your risk of a heart attack by up to 50 percent, according to new research.
  13. FDA rules for antibiotics are really no rules at all

    The FDA's plan to crack down on antibiotic use on factory farms will do nothing to stop the overuse of the drugs, leading to the creation of more superbugs.
  14. Common anesthesia linked to death risk

    One of the most commonly used anesthesia drugs could boost your risk of serious heart problems and even death, according to new research. Here's how to protect yourself.
  15. Healthy Aging

    If you want to live longer and avoid major disease, stick to these five basic "clean living" habits.
  16. Benefits of apples better than statins

    An apple a day can save about as many lives as statins -- but without the risks, according to new research.
  17. Do multivitamins work?

    A new study claims you don't need your vitamins -- but one look at the details shows the study didn't really find that at all. Get the truth here.
  18. Vitamin D benefits bones

    Vitamin D can protect your bones -- but only if you get the right amount. New research shows you need a minimum of 1,000 IUs per day, and probably more.
  19. Triclosan is too dangerous to use

    A common ingredient in soap is about to be banned because it's too dangerous to use. It's called triclosan, and it's used in antibacterial soap.
  20. Most seniors don't need blood pressure meds

    New rules for blood pressure meds will take millions of seniors off these unnecessary drugs -- and most of the others who take them also don't need them.

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