lifestyle changes

  1. Natural cholesterol treatments go mainstream

    You don't need to be in alternative medicine to know that statin drugs are a bad idea.

    These days, even the doctors who once gave them out to nearly everyone are waking up to the fact that cholesterol drugs do plenty of harm and very little good.

    And now, "mainstream" doctors are turning to what was once dismissed as "alternative" medicine to bring cholesterol levels down -- including the simple lifestyle changes that I've been advocating from the beginning.

    It's not exactly a radical idea, but I'm glad to see the rest of the country catching on -- and some are even bragging about their results in places such as the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    One recent series of editorials there was a debate between two competing mainstream teams trying to treat a hypothetical 55-year-old patient with high cholesterol levels who was otherwise healthy.

    A decade ago, I'm sure they all would have said "statins."

    Today, a set of doctors who said they'd use that approach were practically booed right out of the journal -- with one team of doctors correctly pointing out that they'd have to treat 100 patients like that hypothetical man for five years to prevent even a single heart attack.

    And if that's all that happened -- a heart attack was prevented -- maybe it would be worthwhile.

    But, as Dr. Rita Redberg and Dr. William Katz of the University of San Francisco, California wrote in the journal, at least one of those 100 patients will end up with diabetes because of those meds and a whopping 20 percent will experience the notorious statin side effects (and other studies like the Jupiter trial have shown risk closer to 25 percent).

    Those include serious and debilitating muscle pain, fatigue, memory problems, cataracts, and even sexual dysfunction.

    Now, I don't know if this means these mainstream docs have gone alternative or if I'm suddenly mainstream. To be honest, it doesn't matter to me -- all that matters is that patients are finally getting the common-sense approach to cholesterol control they should have been given all along.

    Better late than never.

    For the most advanced cardiovascular testing contact the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine at 760-274-2377.

  2. 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.

    But don't be fooled by this about-face, because the drug hasn't magically gotten any safer over the last two years.

    Qnexa still comes with all the same potential risks that caused the panel to think twice back in 2010: birth defects, suicidal thoughts, depression, memory loss, attention problems, bone problems, kidney stones, and more.

    Even worse, the drug can increase heart rate and cause heart palpitations -- and the panelists who approved it admit they don't know if those side effects will lead to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems down the road.

    But they went ahead and approved it anyway.

    "The potential benefits of this medication seem to trump the side effects, but in truth, only time will tell," Dr. Kenneth Burman of the Washington Hospital Center confessed to Time magazine.

    Allow me to translate:

    "It could help people lose a bunch of weight, and it could well kill a whole bunch of people at the same time. Let's find out, shall we?"

    I say let's not -- because if this drug's history is any indication, its widespread use will lead to more problems than this panel is letting on.

    Qnexa isn't a new drug -- it's actually a combination of two older drugs: the amphetamine phentermine, better known as the "phen" in fen-phen (yes, THAT fen-phen), and the seizure drug topiramate.

    It's more of a side-effect cocktail than an actual drug -- so much so that 40 percent of the people who took the high dose in a company-funded trial had to drop out.

    Many of those who stuck with it were rewarded with weight loss of close to 10 percent of their body weight. But 10 percent for an obese person isn't an achievement. It's someone who's just a little less obese -- and it took them a full year to get there to boot.

    What's more, patients who take the drug still have to make diet and lifestyle changes and get more exercise. And if you have to do all that to get thin, why bother messing around with drugs like Qnexa in the first place?

    Skip the meds and eat better instead.

    Try a low-carb or Mediterranean-style diet, and the pounds will melt away as if by magic -- and you'll soon find yourself reaching in the back of your closet for clothes you never thought you'd wear again.

  3. Fix your apnea, heal your heart

    Someone with apnea can go through dozens of breathless bouts per night and never even realize it -- but in this case, what you don't know can not only hurt you... it can kill you, too. Apnea has been linked to everything from sexual dysfunction and metabolic syndrome to diabetes and heart disease -- but now, researchers have confirmed that it's not too late for people already fighting that nightly battle.
  4. Brain stents kill stroke patients

    Six years ago, the feds rushed the approval of brain stents for patients facing a high risk of stroke, claiming they needed to act quickly on "compassionate" grounds.
  5. 8 ways to reduce your dementia risk

    There's no surefire way to keep dementia at bay, but there are steps you can take to dramatically slash your risk -- including the following lifestyle changes you can make, starting today.
  6. Dangerous meds for little girls

    An outrageous new study is pushing powerful diabetes meds on girls as young as 8 years old who don't even have the disease in a bizarre effort to preserve their fertility decades later.
  7. The real cure for diabetes

    Many diabetics treat their condition as a lifetime sentence to drugs and insulin--but it doesn't have to be that way for you.
  8. Don't just live longer – live better

    A new study finds that while women are living longer, they're not necessarily living better, especially during those later years.
  9. A study only Big Pharma could love

    Posted by: on
    You may have noticed by now that I’m always suspicious of studies that “prove” the only solution to a health problem comes on a prescription pad.
  10. A study only Big Pharma could love

    A new survey out of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute concluded that patients suffering from high blood pressure get better results from drugs alone than from drugs and lifestyle changes combined.

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