1. The new trans-fat ban

    Ban on trans fats: too little, too late

    At the end of the day, a donut is still a donut, a cookie is still a cookie and a French fry is still a French fry -- and whether they have trans fats or not, they're going to be bad for your health.

    So while everyone's in a hurry to give the FDA kudos for its move to start a trans-fat ban, I'm not about to stand up and cheer. If anything, I think predictions the ban will ultimately prevent 20,000 heart attacks and save 7,000 lives per year are wildly optimistic.

    After all, these dangerous fats are usually found in processed foods -- junk foods like the donuts, cookies and French fries I just mentioned -- and getting rid of the trans fats isn't going to make them much better.

    But even if you believe the trans-fat ban will help make people just a little bit healthier, there are two other problems here.

    First, the trans fat ban doesn't take effect right away -- and the FDA hasn't even announced a timeline for it yet.

    You can bet it'll be a while before it kicks in fully.

    And second, there's a loophole big enough to drive a donut truck through -- because the current FDA rules on "trans fat free" products still allow for deadly amounts of these fats.

    Food makers are allowed to round half a gram of trans fats or less down to zero -- and that's per serving, not per package. Eat just four servings of these "hidden" trans fats per day (not difficult, since serving sizes are often unrealistically small), and you've already hit the 2-gram daily limit recommended for most people without even knowing it.

    And as of right now, this loophole will continue to exist even after the ban takes effect.

    There's one quick and easy way to tell whether your foods contain these hidden trans fats, and that's to read the fine print on the ingredients panel. Anything "partially hydrogenated" is almost certainly going to contain at least a small amount of trans fats.

    And if you want an even simpler way to choose healthy foods, choose foods without any labels at all -- whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, ideally fresh, organic and local.

  2. New drugs are untested

    What you don't know can kill you

    You have to wonder what it takes for new drugs to get rejected these days.

    The FDA has sped up drug approvals, shaving years off the process and accepting smaller and shorter studies -- and even the agency admits it approves many of these new drugs before we know all the risks.

    So they order new studies on the drugs after they're approved.

    You know... the kinds of studies they should have demanded in the first place.

    Just don't hold your breath waiting for the results of those studies -- because as one new analysis shows, Big Pharma is in no hurry to get them done.

    Of the 85 clinical trials ordered by the FDA for 20 drugs approved in 2008, 60 percent are still missing. And in some cases, we've been told not to expect that information until 2020.

    Yes, 2020 -- a full 12 years after the drugs were approved.

    But the studies completed so far show exactly why this "approve first" approach has the power to hurt or even KILL patients -- because they've led to new warnings for nine of the new drugs, including black-box warnings for five of them.

    That's the most serious warning of all -- and if patients knew of those risks first, they may not have swallowed a single pill.

    And that, of course, is the real reason so many of these studies have been delayed, postponed and otherwise dragged out: New data means new warnings... and new warnings could hurt sales.

    If only they cared half as much about patients as they do about profits.

    It's as clear a sign as any that the new drugs approvals process isn't working for you.

    If anything, it's working against you -- turning you into an unwitting guinea pig anytime you swallow a new drug (including "new" drugs that have been on the market for years).

    That's why it's essential to trust your health to a doctor who isn't quick to pull out his prescription pad -- a doctor who sticks to the basic principle of the most effective treatment that's least likely to cause harm.

    Unfortunately, you won't get that at a typical mainstream medical clinic these days, where insurance companies set the rules and doctors are often paid advisors to the drug industry.

    For that, you'll need to visit a holistic medical doctor.

    If you're in Southern California, I can help. Contact my clinic for more information or to make an appointment.

    Not in the area? I'm also available to offer advice over the phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

  3. Drug companies buy a seat at the FDA table

    Drug companies paid up to $35,000 each to attend meetings where they could influence FDA decision-makers.
  4. Arsenic in rice is unsafe

    The feds say the arsenic levels in rice are safe to eat -- but that flies in the face of science.
  5. Judge rules in favor of POM Wonderful's health claims about pomegranates

    The feds have tried to block companies from mentioning proven benefits of natural foods like pomegranates but a judge stepped in and told them to knock it off.
  6. FDA admits drug safety record falls short

    An FDA report reveals that up to 50 percent of drug side effects are not revealed until after a drug is said to be safe, approved, and being taken.
  7. New warning over diabetes med

    If you're taking diabetes meds, there's an urgent new warning out there that you just have to see.
  8. New erection pill packs the same old risks

    The last thing we need is yet another erection pill with the same risks as the old ones -- but that's just what the FDA is giving us.
  9. The hair-raising side effects of Propecia

    If you were to make a list of "male worries," baldness would come in at a solid number two -- right after sex problems.
  10. The darkest shade of green

    Imagine a drug that failed to meet basic targets set by the FDA, came with a higher risk of side effects than its predecessors, and was found to be so unimpressive and even dangerous that the agency's own experts advised against approving it. Now, stop imagining -- and just take a look at Aricept 23.
  11. FDA refuses to take action on BPA

    If the FDA can't see why it's a bad idea to feed everyone -- even babies -- chemical versions of hormones, then they should get out of regulation business altogether.
  12. Feds finally own up to statin risks

    Well, maybe now the push to give everyone statins will start to slow a bit: The FDA has finally admitted that all those side effects the drug industry and its paid--for experts once brushed off are actually very real.
  13. Don't try to poison your migraines away

    Common sense doesn't always prevail, especially when it comes to drug approvals. So it was a breath of fresh air the other day to see health officials use a little of it when they rejected Botox as a potential treatment for migraines.
  14. From KO'd to OK'd: Rejected diet drug stages a comeback

    Nearly two years ago, an FDA panel rejected the Qnexa diet pill over safety concerns. Now, that same panel has given the drug the OK, which means the agency itself will almost certainly approve it for sale soon.
  15. The worst way to lose weight

    Surgery is supposed to be the ultimate shortcut when it comes to weight loss: Let the doc put you under, and when you wake up you're on your way to a brand-new body. If only it were that simple.
  16. Drug company launches new attack on compounding pharmacists

    It was the equivalent of David taking down Goliath: Earlier this year, compounding pharmacists stood up to a drug company -- and won big. But in this version of the tale, Goliath doesn't lie down and die. He gets back up -- and now, he's really ticked off.
  17. Quit smoking -- or die trying?

    Nearly 70 percent of all smokers want to quit -- and half of them have tried and failed over the last year, according to new numbers from the CDC. Obviously, it ain't easy.
  18. Beat the high price of beating gout

    I know the cost of everything is rising, but this is ridiculous: A common remedy for gout and other inflammatory conditions has shot up by more than 2,700 percent. The remedy is called colchicine, and it's been used for literally thousands of years.
  19. Rejected diet drug returns from the grave

    A "no" from the FDA never quite means "no" -- not when it comes to the agency's drug-industry pals, anyway. Case in point: The feds said "no" to the diet drug Contrave earlier this year over its potential for heart risk -- even after an FDA panel signed off on it.
  20. Deadly faith

    A new survey finds that 40 percent of Americans believe the FDA only gives the OK to "extremely effective" meds -- and 25 percent believe FDA-approved drugs don't have serious side effects.

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