Category Archives: Drug Discovery

From statins to vaccines to sleep aids; arm yourself with the knowledge to make the most appropriate decisions for you and yours.

Some Thoughts on Depression, Pain and Stroke

We’ll take it easy on you with this week’s post as we head into another weekend.  Sometimes I have to repeatedly re-read some of the facts and figures during my constant investigation of the ever growing and changing research.  These are a few of those “double take” paragraphs that I have compiled and felt compelled to share.  Take it in, embrace the empowerment and make the necessary changes.

DEPRESSION – INFLAMMATORY DIET LINK

For 12 years, researchers tracked the diet habits and health outcomes of more than 43,000 women — none of whom had depression at the start of the study period. Here’s what they found: Women who sipped soft drinks, ate fatty red meat, or consumed refined grains (like pasta, white bread, crackers, or chips) daily were 29 to 41% more likely to be diagnosed or treated for depression than those who stuck to a healthier diet. Blood tests revealed that women who ate the above foods also tested significantly higher for three biomarkers of inflammation.

http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/certain-foods-linked-inflammation-and-depression?cm_mmc=MSN-_-PVN_News-_-Pass%20The%20Pasta–And%20The%20Prozac-_-Pass%20The%20Pasta–And%20The%20Prozac%20SL

GOT PAIN?  PATIENT BEWARE

Back pain accounts for more than $100 billion in annual U.S. healthcare costs and is the second leading cause of physician visits and hospitalizations.

What Happens When Physicians Don’t Know How to Treat Pain?

They resort to the only treatment they know: prescription drugs to treat inflammation, arthritis, back pain, stress, and autoimmunity. And now we’re facing another epidemic on top of chronic pain: prescription drug abuse.

The latter has been called the fastest-growing drug problem in the US by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as the number of deaths from opioid painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone rose nearly four-fold between 1999 and 2009.  Pain medications were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008.

The overdoses now kill more people than cocaine and heroin combined. As USA Today recently reported, more US states are now taking action to try and stop this growing problem.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/10/states-prescription-drug-painkiller-abuse/2961389/

STROKE: MORE EVIDENCE TO GET UP, MOVE AND NOT BE A STATISTIC

The American Heart Association reports 800,000 Americans suffer from stroke each year. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the US and the fourth leading cause of death. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, because for the most part, strokes are the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Recent research published in the journal Stroke found that, if you’re inactive, you have a 20 percent higher risk for having a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) than people who exercise enough to break a sweat at least four times a week.

The study involved more than 27,000 Americans for an average of 5.7 years, male and female, Caucasian and African-American.  It included a larger proportion of people from the “Stroke Belt” states, where stroke rates are higher (Virginia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, and Alabama).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23868271?dopt=Abstract

Get out there and move! Have a great weekend.

Vaccination: A Healthy Dialogue

We’re going to change up the format on this week’s post as I would like to share a recent text conversation I had with a friend.  We are both blessed in that we have little ones on the way, and being such issues like this are quickly catapulted to the forefront on our list of concerns.  I felt like the thoughts and emotions are similar to what many have experienced or are experiencing out there so I hope that this will encourage further dialogue.

X:

“I just wanted to get your thoughts about the flu vaccine.  I’m kind of weary about vaccines in general but her doc and the internet say it’s important. What do you think?”

O:

“Many doctors will say that, and some pediatricians won’t even accept or work with you if you don’t follow the recommended regimen.  You need to find one who’s open to the lack of evidence and opposing statistics; and more importantly, personal choice.”

X:

“I’m focusing on it a lot more now.  It can be so confusing because I am in no way trying to act like I’m a professional or even half that for this type of thing. I honestly would like to leave it up to them to inform me.

But when you think people in this industry are constantly trying to deceive you for a buck, it becomes very scary. Who the hell can you really trust? Just because a doctor says they are for vaccines for this and that reason doesn’t give me a great sense of trust, especially because they are influenced by money (to some degree as well).

I’ve never been a fan of any kind of medicines, drugs, or vaccines. I literally don’t even like taking Tylenol.  But aren’t there two sides to everything? Is the existence of a vaccine primarily due to big business trying to make more money? I’m not saying I’d be surprised if that were so, but are there any real concrete benefits and reasons why we should at least consider administering vaccines?

The internet is chalk full of “good” reasons why. Are the normal, relatively informed public to ignore the consensus of information out there and go at it “on their own?” It just fosters a very paranoid culture that is obviously unfortunate.

And to think, I’m going to trust these people to deliver our most precious thing in the world, but I’m not supposed to trust them to advise me on anything regarding drugs.  Where does the line get drawn?  Am I supposed to become the doctor and tell him what to do or not do? Very confusing my man.”

O:

“I hear you. It’s rough. Ignorance is bliss, until something happens and it’s not. Do you get me?

To your point, how are the doctors who are against vaccination or for choice motivated by money?  Maybe they will get a few patients because they get the reputation as a forward thinking doctor, but they lose out on incentives from the government and inflated bonuses from pharmaceutical companies for administering or prescribing as much as possible.  We can go as deep as you want as far as unethical practices, but the bottom line is there aren’t any long term studies confirming the safety or efficacy of vaccines, in some cases quite the contrary.  Just like with most drugs on the market, we’re the Guinea pigs in this real life experiment.  Personally I trust the human body to protect itself as it was designed to do, if allowed to do so.

I don’t judge or envy anyone else having to make the decision; to each his own.  Obviously everyone does what they do in the best interest of themselves and their family.”

X:

“What do you say to us all raised in a time where forward thinking was probably not as advanced – all probably being administered vaccines at some point, but turning out “ok” nonetheless?

Are we just “lucky?”

O:

“Perhaps. Like I said, there are no long term studies. Who is to say some of that aluminum in the shots that has bioaccumulated in our brains isn’t going to eventually contribute to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s?

But I hear you; many are fine from the surface and time being. But what about the other percentage that isn’t and all of the sudden is deemed autistic, has severe digestive issues and allergies from all antibiotics administered in the vaccine and thereafter for every other issue.  I guess the difficult thing about this position is we are now calling the shots for another human who we want the best for.  What if your child is one of those cases that could’ve been prevented? That’s where the issue is.

I’ve seen parents whose child was “fine” prior to a vaccination and then all of the sudden, is symptomatically autistic. I’ve met other couples whose child was vaccinated and provided non-stop anti-biotics for ear infections and now has noticeable digestive issues, allergies and they’re noticing “odd” personality traits.

These people search for “alternative” medicine because for whatever reason, (money, stubbornness, too much pride to admit past error, etc.) traditional medicine dismisses that it could quite possibly be the surplus of vaccines and over medication that could be contributing to, if not causing the problem.  So what’s the mainstream answer? More drugs, which is a whole other conversation.

All I’m saying is it comes down to what you believe, as you can find “research” and “evidence” for either side. I believe that our bodies possess the power to heal and protect ourselves, provided they are presented with the proper nutrition and environment; overall lifestyle to do so.  Contemporarily, we run into issues here because of the abundance of poor choices being made and the body and quality of life subsequently suffering, but again, another topic for another time.  So with vaccines, it’s all about if you want to roll the dice; which can be construed in either direction depending on what you believe.”

That Can’t be Right…Can it?

The healthcare system has been receiving top billing these days and for good reason.  The big business that is “sick-care” has spun out of control and left many in a daze.  (Or maybe it’s all the prescriptions.)

Our society has become one in which capitalism has trumped ethics, morals and humanity, and the conventional application of sick-care is a prime example.  The following facts and figures back up the proceeding statement and are intended to provoke amazement, disbelief and even disgust.  Most of all though, it’s meant to open your eyes to what’s going on around us and urge you to be informed and aware when dealing with your own life.

17% of this country’s GDP is spent on healthcare, making America’s healthcare business alone, one of the largest economies (#6 to be exact) on the entire planet.

This is fueled by being a country that only makes up 5% of the world’s population, yet consumes over 50% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs and at higher prices than other nations.

This is also fueled by hospitals typically charging anywhere up to 10 times more for inexpensive tests and procedures when on average they end collecting roughly 35% of what they originally charged.  This creates a large profit for the hospital and leaves the hoodwinked consumer with a false sense of relief for not having to pay “full price.”

Over a decade ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in the US.

In 2000, the Institutes of Medicine reported that medical errors were the eighth leading cause of death in the US, killing between 44,000 and 98,000 people each year.

In the 2003 article “Death by Medicine”, Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, described how the modern conventional American medical system has become the leading cause of death and injury in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 784,000 people annually.

These iatrogenic deaths (meaning deaths resulting from the activity of physicians) include everything from adverse drug reactions to medical errors, to hospital-acquired infections and surgeries gone bad—including 37,000 deaths from unnecessary medical procedures.

Out of 62 million death certificates dated between 1976-2006, almost a quarter-million deaths were coded as having occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors.

An estimated 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events occur in the US every year.

The costs of adverse drug reactions to society are more than $136 billion annually.  This is greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care.

THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS?

A civil lawsuit filed in 2004 charged GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) with fraud, claiming the drug manufacturer hid results from studies on Paxil showing the drug did not work in adolescents and in some cases led to suicidal ideation. Rather than warning doctors of such potential side effects, GSK actually encouraged them to prescribe the drug to teens and children.

According to DrugWatch.com, GSK has agreed to pay out more than $1 billion to settle more than 800 different lawsuits related to Paxil, on top of the $3 billion it agreed to pay to settle the Department of Justice’s investigation into illegal marketing of Paxil and other drugs.

To us these fines seem astronomical and financially crippling.  However, they pale in comparison to the profits earned by Big Pharma’s heavy hitters. (For instance, Pfizer took in over $245 billion from 2004-2008.)  Unfortunately, situations like this are not isolated incidents as companies frequently settle up on fines that are a mere fraction of the profits yielded.  (Between 2004-2010 major drug companies have paid out over $7 billion in fines, penalties and lawsuits.)

Merck’s highly publicized Vioxx has now been the focus over 60,000 lawsuits and cost the company close to $6 billion in fines.  This was a drug pushed to relieve pain, mainly from arthritis, but has lead to a slough of side effects, including heart attack and death.  It would behoove all who currently take prescriptions to do some research into the side effects and litigation pending.

In closing I’d like to add that this is not meant to be an anti-medicine, anti-surgery piece.  When properly applied, each of these disciplines can intervene during emergencies and save lives.

This article is meant to direct attention to the broken, backwards system.  Keep your eyes open.  Pay attention to what’s going on around you.  From pharmaceuticals to GMOs, the information and more importantly the choice, exists.

As long as it’s not an emergency, utilize the practices of traditional medicine only after making real lifestyle changes and seeking non-invasive conservative care first.  Be aware that some where along the chain, the profit has taken priority over consumer safety and other than the responsible parties being fined for the careless administration, the other major cost is your health; and in some cases your life.

Choose wisely.  We are talking about your one and only life here.

REFERENCES

http://swampland.time.com/2013/07/01/why-our-health-care-lets-prices-run-wild/?xid=rss-topstories&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+time%2Ftopstories+%28TIME%3A+Top+Stories%29

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2136864,00.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21105794

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-010-1356-3

http://www.drugwatch.com/search/?q=vioxx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/05/us-health-care-system.aspx

The Fascinating Relationship of Cholesterol and Statin Drugs

Cholesterol is a term that gets thrown around all the time, and almost always in a negative light.  It is this bad reputation of cholesterol that has led to the rise of popular cholesterol lowering statin drugs such as Lipitor and Crestor.  But what is cholesterol?  Is it a bad thing?  Are statin drugs necessary?  How do they work?

Let’s start with cholesterol.  It is a lipid (aka fat) produced in the liver that is vital to life and serves as the precursor for various hormones (cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, etc.) and vitamin D.  It is also what makes up the outer membrane of virtually every cell in our bodies.  Anytime a cell is damaged by way of direct trauma or inflammation, more cholesterol is required to rebuild and repair.

The correct level of cholesterol varies from person to person.  A total cholesterol level of over 240 may be perfectly healthy for some, but an indicator of a potential risk factor for others.  As a matter of fact the acceptable total level of CHL used to be well over 250, but has been lowered and lowered. Why?  Well, some speculate that by continuously lowering the normative value, you extend that umbrella wider and wider for statin drug customers.

Statin drugs came about after a study by Ancel Keys (The Seven Countries Study) directly attributed cardiovascular disease to high cholesterol.  The powers that be (including the American Heart Association) took this finding and ran with it as the country became obsessed with lowering CHL.  Only problem is the study had gaping holes in it and has since been disproven by numerous scientists and nutritionists around the globe.

The correct thing to do here would be to recant, admit the mistake, and take proactive steps going forward.  For some reason this doesn’t happen as CHL continues to be bashed and statins continue to rake in the dollars.

The story gets worse when we actually break down how statins do their work.  Trust me on this one, this is actually quite fascinating.

First we have a rise of inflammation in the body due to too many grains, dairy, soy, corn, sugar…pick your poison.  This inflammation causes internal damage and as we discussed, CHL is required to assist in the repairing.

The liver then sends out LDL (low density lipoproteins aka “bad” cholesterol).  So as we can see, it is the consumption of too many carbs or inflammatory foods (not fats) that can indirectly raise “bad” CHL.   I say indirectly because in actuality only a small percentage of our total CHL is derived directly from CHL containing foods, such as eggs.  But back to the story.

So CHL is sent out from the liver as LDL to assist in the rebuild due to inflammation.   However, when this inflammation persists, damage is done to the receptors on the cells that receive the LDL.  So now the cells that are in need of CHL, aren’t getting it and request for the liver to send more.  The liver, being the people pleaser it is, obliges and sends out more CHL in the form of LDL.

At this point, due to inflammation, we have internal destruction going on.  At the same time, bad CHL levels (LDLs) are also up due to the inflammation, but not the direct cause of the destruction correlated with things like cardiovascular disease.

Hang in there, here comes the good stuff.

Due to the perception that high CHL is the reason for CVD, a drug was created to combat it.  Statin drugs work by actually damaging the part of the liver that makes CHL.  So we see a drop in total CHL.  It gets even more diabolical in that the liver, now requiring materials to rebuild, needs additional CHL.  The CHL that persisted in the periphery as “bad” CHL now is transported back to the liver as HDL or “good” cholesterol.  The numbers have been manipulated from dangerous to healthy, all while destroying the liver and allowing the causative systemic inflammation to persist.

Cherry on top here is that one of the key markers of inflammation is something called C-reactive protein (CRP). Where do you think this is made? You guessed it, the liver.  Liver destruction leads to less CRP, and we lose one of our methods to accurately detect systemic inflammation.

I guess this is why the ads for statin drugs flat out state that they have not been shown to prevent heart attacks, heart disease, or strokes.  Oh, they lower CHL in the manners we discussed, but not the risk they were originally intended to decrease.  Yet they are still heavily utilized.  I don’t know about you, but I found this simultaneously fascinating, frustrating and ingenious all in one.

This article isn’t intended to instruct anyone to stop taking any medications.  Always consult with your trusted doctor before stopping or starting any aspect of treatment, especially medications.  However, it is designed to provoke thought and questions.  And as we can see, when it comes to cholesterol and statins, there certainly are a lot to be answered.

 

REFERENCES

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003502.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23959724

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23782756

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/statin-side-effects/MY00205

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/04/03/176145911/side-effects-prompt-patients-to-stop-statins-cholesterol