American Diabetes Association

  1. Why you should never trust 'doctor's orders'

    Sometimes, it might seem like your doctor is relying on years of education and experience.

    Other times, you might be convinced he's making it up as he goes.

    In reality, most doctors follow the guidelines issued by the major medical associations -- and that means some of the biggest decisions he makes about you and your health are based on badly biased information.

    Treatment guidelines are routinely written by "experts" with a direct financial stake in the outcome -- and now, a new study finds a massive chain of conflicts in the guidelines written for diabetes treatments and cholesterol control.

    Since these just so happen to be two of the most medicated (not to mention over-medicated) conditions in the country, is anyone really surprised?

    There have been 288 "experts" on the 14 cholesterol and diabetes panels that have met in the United States and Canada over the past decade, and researchers say 52 percent of them had conflicts of interest such as financial ties to the drug industry.

    Even worse, they found those conflicts among 11 percent of the panelists who claimed they were free and clear.

    Whoops. Busted!

    And of course, you can't really stack a deck without putting some of your best cards on top -- so half of all chairs of the guideline-writing committees had conflicts.

    The panels were convened by organizations including private ones like the American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association as well as government groups such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

    But when you break it down, only 16 percent of the members of government-sponsored panels had conflicts, versus 69 percent of those convened by nongovernmental groups.

    What's more, five of the groups in the study didn't even require conflict disclosures -- and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force won't reveal its own without a Freedom of Information Act request.

    That's one of those things that make it look like you're hiding something... even if you're not.

    This isn't limited to cholesterol and diabetes panels -- not by a longshot.

    Earlier this year, researchers examined 17 critical guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology that were issued between 2003 and 2008, and found that 56 percent of the 498 people who helped write them had conflicts of interest... including 81 percent of those who led the groups.

    Put it all together, and it's pretty clear why you can't leave your doctor's office without yet another prescription: The deck was stacked against you long before you even walked through the door.

  2. Diet soda linked to weight gain

    If the FDA won't go after diet sodas for all the dangerous chemicals they contain, maybe the FTC can take action for false advertising.

    There's nothing "diet" about diet sodas. After all, studies have linked them to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart problems, and more.

    And now, yet another study confirms that people who drink the most diet soda have the biggest bellies.

    Researchers from the University of Texas medical school examined data on 474 seniors who took part in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging, and found that the waistlines of those who drank diet soda grew 70 percent more than those who didn't drink the stuff during the average follow-up of nearly 10 years.

    And the more they drank, the more they grew: The researchers say those who drank two or more diet sodas a day had five times the increase in belly size than those who drank no soda, according to the study presented at a recent American Diabetes Association meeting.

    In real terms, that means a diet soda habit will put you into pants with a waistline two inches bigger than the ones you're wearing now.

    So much for "diet."

    The researchers didn't stop there. They also found a link between aspartame -- the main sweetener used in diet sodas --and diabetes.

    Researchers fed mice prone to diabetes either a high-fat diet or a high-fat diet with aspartame for three months, and found that the rodents that got the sweetener had higher levels of fasting glucose.

    The researchers say these mice were essentially prediabetic.

    But no one should be surprised by any of this, because diet soda has been linked to serious health problems time and again.

    One recent study found that women who drink the most diet soda have a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events such as heart attack and stroke than women who don't drink diet soda.

    Another recent study found that the caramel color used in both diet and regular sodas contains high levels of chemical compounds linked to cancer.

    In addition, soda cans are lined with BPA -- the hormone-like chemical linked to everything from obesity to sexual problems.

    Of course, sugar-packed regular soda is every bit as bad for you -- and don't buy into the hype over "real sugar" colas or Mexican Coke.

    If you just have to have to have some fizz in your water, try plain old seltzer instead.

    No one's ever gotten fat or sick on that.

  3. Diabetes charity funded by Big Pharma

    The list of donors is a who's who of Big Pharma, with the major drug companies kicking in a combined $19 million for 2008 alone--including $2.8 million from Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

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