1. 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.

  2. Simple ways to end migraine pain

    I've said it before, and the latest research proves it again: You don't need powerful, dangerous and addictive meds to beat the relentless pain of migraine headaches.

    All you need is a new approach: either more activity in the form of exercise, or less activity in the form of relaxation.

    Either way, you come out ahead -- because the latest research shows both of those approaches are every bit as effective for migraine relief as topiramate, the anti-seizure drug often given to patients who battle these debilitating headaches.

    Swedish researchers randomly assigned 91 women suffering from migraines to either 40 minutes of exercise on a stationary bike three times a week, relaxation therapy or topiramate -- and after three months, the benefits were even across the board.

    Some women in each group even saw improvements of up to 75 percent, according to the details in the journal Cephalalgia.

    But while both exercise and relaxation therapy come with other benefits -- they can fight stress, lift the mood and boost overall health -- the drug comes with an endless series of risks.

    Eight of the women who took the med -- a third of the group overall -- experienced side effects, versus none in the other groups. And for three of the women, the side effects were so bad they had to quit the study.

    There's no word on what specific side effects the women experienced, but topiramate has been linked to kidney stones, urinary problems, loss of vision, vertigo, back pain, depression and more.

    Now, if you're like me, the idea of any time at all on a stationary bike -- much less 40 minutes every other day -- sounds a lot like torture.

    The good news is, studies have consistently shown that you don't have to get gym-style exercise to get the benefits of exercise... and I'd be surprised if that didn't apply to the migraine-beating benefits as well.

    Just find something you enjoy doing that gets your body moving and your blood pumping -- everything from sports to gardening counts.

    And if that doesn't work for you and you've had no luck with relaxation therapy, you still don't need to spin the wheel of side effects with a migraine med.

    As I've told you before, there are plenty of safe and natural options for beating the pain -- and you can get all the details, for free, in my online archives:

  3. Epilepsy meds linked to suicide risk

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    Epilepsy is bad enough on its own, but a new study finds the meds used to treat it might be even worse – because they could kill you.

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