Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Study on Dairy Badly Flawed

"Drinking Milk Cuts Diabetes Risk" blare the headlines. The University of Cardiff in England just completed a study that showed that the more people drank milk the lower their incidence of metabolic syndrome, which is essentially a grab bag of symptoms that can lead to diabetes and heart disease: insulin resistance, obesity, high blood pressure, etc.

One problem. The study did not specify what the control group drank. Think about it. If there was one group drinking more milk, what would the other group likely be drinking? Water with stevia? Doubt it. They were probably drinking more soda and sugared energy drinks.

So, perhaps the headlines should have read "Milk Better Than Soda." Yeah, well, what isn't?

Further, the study reports that the number of people in the control group versus the milk-drinkers was virtually the same as far as who was actually diagnosed with diabetes during the study. The metabolic syndrome rate was lower in the milk-drinking group, but the rate of diabetes was the same, even given the twenty-year span of the study.

A better-conducted study from 2000 showed that cow's milk actually increases the incidence of diabetes by a factor of three. The results of that study are here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Taking Drugs for Your Disease Can Cause...Another Disease

Public Citizen's excellent Website features an article this week on the various "side effects" caused by today's most popular pharmaceutical drugs. As if that's not enough, they also have written anecdotal stories of people harmed by drugs, including people who developed additional diseases caused by the drugs.

Larry, an otherwise healthy 58-year-old man with diarrhea believed to be due to “irritable bowel syndrome,” was given Stelazine, a powerful antipsychotic tranquilizer to “calm down” his intestinal tract. Stelazine is not even approved for treating such medical problems. Six months after starting Stelazine, Larry developed severe parkinsonism and was started on L-dopa, a drug for treating Parkinson’s disease. Presumably, the doctor did not realize the parkinsonism was drug-induced, and the Stelazine was continued. For seven years, Larry took both drugs. Then a neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s disease saw Larry, recognized the real cause of his problem, stopped the Stelazine, and slowly withdrew the L-dopa over a six-month period. Larry’s severe, disabling parkinsonism cleared completely.

Read entire article here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Review of Side Effects Movie

I finally bought the DVD for the movie "Side Effects." I have been wanting to see this movie for a long time. Dr. Pam Popper at the Wellness Forum introduced me to it, but I haven't had a chance to see it until now.

Side Effects is a movie about the drug industry. It is based on a true story, the budding career of a pharmaceutical sales rep named Kathleen Slattery, who also happens to be the director of this movie.

The story begins with Karly Hert's (Kathleen's character) start in the pharma business. The initial pay and perqs get her excited, but she isn't really good at the job for a while. Finally, she decides to tell the doctors the unvarnished truth about the drugs she's selling, being upfront about all the side effects. It works, and Karly becomes the top sales rep, earning top dollars selling their marque drug, named Vivexx (named suspiciously like Vioxx, the arthritis drug that killed tens of thousands).

Karly finds out that the drug company withheld important side effect information, and does some digging to find out the real facts. She does some great detective work and at the end, makes a difference in a big way (trying to avoid spoilers here).

The movie itself is quite entertaining. That is for one reason and one reason only. Karly is played by Katherine Heigl, who is from Grey's Anatomy on TV and recently starred in Knocked Up. Katherine is an amazing actress. She holds the entire film together. I can sympathize that Kathleen Slattery is a first-time director, and as such, she does an okay job. But the movie has many problems, which can all be traced back to the director. Awkward ten-second scenes that mean nothing, strange interviews with doctors interspersed throughout, and awful performances by almost everyone except Katherine Heigl. The actors who play Karly's boyfriend and her two bosses are especially painful to watch. Again, it's understandable that, with a budget of less than $200,000, you're not going to get great actors to surround a star, but it doesn't make it any easier to watch.

I have one more bone to pick. As a red-blooded guy, it pains me to complain about this, but why does Katherine Heigl have to get undressed on-screen a half-dozen times or more with no connection whatsoever to the plot? It seems like a very cheap way to get our attention. Yes, Katherine has a beautiful body, but even a sex-crazed guy like myself can tell when he's being manipulated.

Having said all that, my wife and I still watched the whole thing and we still liked it. We both thought it was a tribute to one of the best new actresses of the twenty-first century, Katherine Heigl.

And, setting my inner movie critic aside, the story is good and the message is incredibly important. I suggest that, if you want to buy the DVD, you consider getting a combo-pack with Kathleen's companion movie called "Money Talks," which is a documentary on the same issue of pharmaceutical companies' undue influence on doctors.

Both movies are worth watching. We all need to learn more about this issue and find out what we can do to mitigate the risks.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Aspartame Linked to Cancer Again

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In a study conducted by the Ramazzini Institute in Italy, aspartame was found to be linked to malignant tumors and leukemia in rats.

The link is a PDF, so you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is a free download.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Vinegar for Weeds

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Well, I'm putting my money where my blog is. I tried using this vinegar, soap and water solution (see recipe under "Vinegar and Dish Soap" heading) on my weeds today, mostly thistles and dandelions. I'll let you know how well it works.

Oh, it was great to get out in the sun for a few minutes. I used to hate yard work with our house, because there is so much of it. But now I actually like it because it gets me out of the house and into the sun.

And, no, I do not wear sunblock. A lot of the news reports about sun and skin cancer are wrong, wrong, wrong. As the Journal of the National Cancer Institute at Oxford states, sunscreen appears to be linked to skin cancer more closely than sun exposure to skin cancer.

Whoa. Where the hell did that rant come from?

50 Uses for Vinegar

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This blog entry has fifty uses for vinegar. It cleans. It softens. It kills weeds. It freshens. Let me know what works for you.

There's also a book that has tons of uses for apple cider vinegar, specifically. It is supposed to be good for your health. Strange how something as acidic as vinegar would help your body alkalize. The book is in its Fifty-Fifth edition.

I'm Deleting My Post about Sicko

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I made a post on this blog about Michael Moore's new movie "Sicko" and I am now deleting that post from my blog. I have not seen the movie yet and I need to do that before I make my comments.

I read some very thought-provoking comments on Moore's Website that made me realize I may be speaking out of turn.

This deletion is a result of my own research. I have not been contacted by Michael Moore's organization or anyone else, this is my own decision.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I Found a Salsa Without Cilantro

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UPDATE:  Frontera has stopped selling this product, as far as I can tell.  They switched the shape of the bottle, stopped selling this salsa flavor, and now EVERYTHING has cilantro and/or "spices" in it.   Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.

I finally found a salsa that contains no cilantro!

Why am I so excited? Especially considering that I love cilantro?

Well, the reason is that my wife is allergic to cilantro. This sad fact took the two of us several months to determine, but it became quite obvious when I purchased a bunch of fresh cilantro and she put it into a chili that she ate for several meals in a row. She broke out in a red, itchy rash on her neck and chest, and this happens now to a lesser degree whenever she eats something with the fragrant, tasty herb in it.

I say "sad fact" because both of us enjoy the taste of cilantro. There are apparently many people who don't like the taste of it, but for us, it is just because of my wife's allergy that we stay away from it.

And staying away is not easy. Cilantro has become the herb of the decade in restaurant food and any type of prepared grocery store food. Indian food almost always contains cilantro. The Chinese call cilantro "Chinese parsley" and use it liberally.

And Mexican food has cilantro in everything. Especially salsa.

So, for those who don't like the taste of it, or, God forbid, are allergic, take heart. Frontera Kitchen's Red Pepper and Garlic Salsa has no cilantro listed on the ingredients (available at Whole Foods Market). I'll report back later if Tamara starts having reactions to this too.

By the way, cilantro and coriander are from the same plant. Cilantro is the leaves and coriander is the ground-up seeds. My wife is allergic to both.

Group of Presidential Scholars Give President a Letter Asking to Cease Torture

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(Mari Oye second from right)

The Presidential Scholars of 2007 visited the President this summer like they do every summer. But this time, several of them (almost a third) signed a letter asking the President to stop torturing prisoners and enemy combatants.

Mari Oye (second from right in photo) was the one to hand the letter to him. To his credit, the President read the letter right there in front of her. His only response was "America doesn't torture people. America doesn't torture people."

This has to be the most underreported story of the summer. Why are the networks all Paris Hilton's butt and totally missing this story? I heard it originally on the Democracy Now! podcast but also found an article on the Boston Globe Website that is pretty good.

Democracy Now! has the entire transcript of Amy Goodman's interview with Mari Oye and one other scholar who was involved.

Democracy Now! is my new favorite podcast. Here is some background on the Presidential Scholars program.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rare Earth Magnets Act as Possible Shark Repellant

Since 2001, SharkDefense has been working on a chemical shark repellent. The co-founder of this small company was playing around with powerful rare-earth magnets in 2005, when he dropped one next to their shark research tank in Oak Ridge, New Jersey. The lemon and nurse sharks inside instantly darted to the opposite wall.

Bewildered, the two scientists began to investigate. The results of their studies are at a site called Ocean Magnetics (their spinoff company).

They've found that sharks dramatically avoid magnets made from neodymium, iron and boron. They think the magnets overload a shark's ampullae of Lorenzini, small vesicles and pores around the head that form part of a subcutaneous sensory network.

Nice alternative to chemical shark repellants. Better for everyone.


Socks for your Sandals

So, it's too cold to go barefooted but you still want to wear your flip flops? You need Flip Flop Socks!

I can see that these could be useful for those in-between weather days. Or if you want to hide your ugly feet from view, but still want to be comfortable?