Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sugar and Heart Attack

Continuing my campaign against sugars added to all our foods a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2010;303(15):1490-1497) found a high intake of added sugar is associated with increased risk for low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides (blood fats). The HDL cholesterol is the one that transports the cholesterol back to the liver where it is used. When the HDL is low it is associated with a higher level of heart attack and stroke risk.

Compared with adults who got less than 5% of their total energy intake from added sugars, those getting 17.5%–25% of their energy from added sugars were about twice as likely to have low HDL levels.

The message lower your sugar to lower you risk of heart attack and stroke.

Monday, April 19, 2010

VItamins D and Sunscreen Study

Dr Dingle recently took part in a few radio interviews that discussed the complications of sunscreen and vitamin D. Given the increase in interest on this topic I have place a link on the Dr Dingle web page to give everyone free access to the articles.


Dr Dingle Free Information Sheets

Friday, April 16, 2010

Consumer groups get a lot of drug money

A recent report in the Daily Telegraph by Sue Dunlevy (google her she has some great articles) makes eye-opening reading. Since the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission made it mandatory from January 1 for drug companies to make public their sponsorship the truth has started to come out. Pfizer Australia, gave more than $1.7 million to 18 health organisations in 2008 and 2009, In 2002 Pfizer Australia, helped set up the health advocacy group Impotence Australia. Pfizer markets the well-known impotence drug Viagra and in 2008, Pfizer, which markets Champix, a quit smoking drug, provided $135,000 to set up the Australian Lung Foundation.

While Glaxco-Smith-Kline last year spent $1.3 million sponsoring 14 consumer health groups such as the Asthma Foundation, the Cancer Council, Diabetes Australia and MS Australia. And yes they also happen to have drugs for each of these.
Following is a list of the Donations made by Pfizer to health advocacy groups in
AustraliaAlzheimer’s Australia $135,000 (2008) $150,000 (2009)
Arthritis Australia $25,000 (2008) $10,000 (2009)
Arthritis NSW $72,192 (2009)
Australian Lung Foundation $135,000 (2008) $122,500(2009)
Brain Tumour Australia $5,000 (2008)
Chronic Pain Australia $49,260 (2008)
Council on the Ageing $5,000 (2008)
Glaucoma Australia $50,000 (2008), $50,000 (2009)
Impotence Australia $75,000 (2008) $30,000 (2009)
Mental Health Council Australia $25,800(2008) $25,000 (2009)
National Association of People Living with AIDS $53,724.96 (2008) $37,000 (2009)
National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre (for Pink Ribbon breakfast) $5,000 (2008) $6,403 (2009)
Heart Foundation $227,409 (2008) $126,000 (2009)
Sane Australia $60,750(2008) $129,300 (2009)
Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW $7,400(2008) $7,400 (2009)
McGrath Foundation $300,000 over 3 years (2009)

And not to mention donations of a political nature
ALP $29,126(2008) $29,196 (2009)
Liberals $24,140(2008) $24,149 (2009)
Nationals $2,200 (2008)
Liberal national Party $1,650 (2008)

This does not even include the $1 million a week drug companies in Australia spend wooing our doctors. This is pretty scary stuff if you think how we rely on all these parties to be impartial in their advice.

Omega 3 and kid’s brains

A study out just this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28549) found that supplementing healthy boys with DHA (one of the main omega 3s and the main one in the brain) led to an increase in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex part of the brain (the front part) - an area of the brain associated with working memory. Changes, measure by functional magnetic resonance imaging also occurred in other parts of the brain, including the occipital cortex (visual processing) and the cerebellar cortex (motor control). This builds on a huge amount of evidence on the benefits of DHA for healthy and not so healthy brain function in kids. Note the study above. There are literally hundreds of studies telling us it will help us and our kids. So why aren’t we all supplementing with fish oils? It should be a government education program and mandate. The evidence is overwhelming.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Health insurance companies sponsor obesity and illness

A recent article in CBS news reporter John Hartge highlights the ridiculous state and short sightedness of our modern health system. Reporting on a study in the American Journal of Public Health by Dr. Wesley Boyd from the Harvard Medical School health insurance firms invest nearly $2 billion in companies that sell fast foods linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease. The irony is that they have to make large payouts for sick, overweight and obese people.

The study found that Northwestern Mutual owns $422.2 million in fast-food stock, with $318.1 million invested in McDonald's. Massachusetts Mutual owns $366.5 million of fast-food stock, including $267.2 in McDonald's. ING, an investment firm that also has life and disability insurance, has total fast-food holdings of $406.1 million, including $12.3 million in Jack in the Box, $311 million in McDonald's, and $82.1 million in Yum! Brands, which owns Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell. New Jersey-based Prudential Financial Inc. sells life insurance and long-term disability coverage. With total fast-food holdings of $355.5 million, Prudential Financial owns $197.2 of stock in McDonald's and also has significant stakes in Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box and Yum! Brands.

While this is US information I would suggest it is the same in Australia. It also raises many bigger questions about where all our money is invested. Perhaps we are all contributing to the problem if our investment portfolios and superannuation is feeding the fast food industry.

Given that obesity has now overtaken tobacco smoke as the single biggest preventable cause of death, perhaps it is time we also treated the processed food industry the same way as the tobacco industry instead of letting them have free reign.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The flu vaccine may be responsible for more people catching the flu

In a recent study in Canada (yesterday, 6/4/10) those vaccination with the 2008–09 trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) had an increased rate of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) (pH1N1) illness the following year. The studies, which took in about 2,700 people, and were extremely thoroughly researched found that the likelihood of needing medical attention for pandemic flu was 1.4 to 2.5 times greater among people who were vaccinated the previous fall. That is, if you got the flu injection you were more likely to get the pandemic influenza A (swine flu) the following year. This, along with another similar result in a US military study really brings into question our knowledge and use of flu vaccines. Overall my reading of the independent scientific literature (the Cochrane Review) suggests that the flu vaccine does not confer any significant benefit on the population and my suggestion is for people to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet. A recent study in Japan found vitamin D supplements easily outperformed the seasonal flu vaccine. But we can’t have the health professionals saying have a vitamin supplement or even better go out into the sun, it just wouldn’t look right.

For those who want the article
Skowronski DM, De Serres G, Crowcroft NS, et al. Association between the 2008–09 seasonal influenza vaccine and pandemic H1N1 illness during spring–summer 2009: four observational studies from Canada. PLoS Med 2010 Apr 6;7(4) [Full text]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More Cholesterol Deception

A recent article by Duff Wilson, March 30, 2010 in the The New York Times “Risks Seen in Cholesterol Drug Use in Healthy People” highlights yet again the fatal flaws we have in promoting cholesterol lowering drugs.

The study Duff Wilson reports on found a 55 percent reduction in heart attacks, 48 percent reduction in stroke, and a 45 percent reduction in angioplasty bypass surgery. Sounds good doesn’t it? Unfortunately it is another example of statin statistics where they are not giving you all the real information and what they are giving you is designed to mislead everyone (especially doctors who don’t know how to read stats).

The actual rate of heart attacks was only 0.37 percent, or 68 patients out of 8,901 who took the placebo (a sugar pill). Those who took the statin (Crestor) dropped to 0.17 percent, or 31 patients. That is a 55 percent relative risk reduction but only 0.2 percentage real (or absolute) risk reduction — or 2 people out of 1,000. That is 500 people need to be treated with the statin for a year to avoid one usually survivable heart attack. Doesn’t sound so good any more does it? The stroke numbers were similar. This is considered statistically significant but nowhere near clinically significant and well below the real reduction of 50% people expect to get from a drug. In fact 2500 times less than what the public expect. The most ridiculous part of all this is that 7 grams of almonds will give 2-4 times the benefit of the drug. At $3.50 a pill, to prescribe the statin for 500 people for a year would be $638,000 to prevent one heart attack. At that price you could have free almonds for everyone, gym membership and personal coaching thrown in for a year. My option of course would not only reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke a lot more but also reduce all chronic illness and save hundreds of lives out of 500 people. Where has all the common sense gone.

If you want the full article go to the new york times web page
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