Buy healthy food and skip the vitamins
Last week two news stories caught my attention.
First, medical experts have (once again) come out saying that the evidence does not support taking supplemental vitamins to reduce your risk of heart disease or cancer.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the government panel that provides guidelines to the public on such things as preventive care and screening tests, has recently updated its recommendations for vitamin and mineral supplements.
Looking at a large number of smaller studies (what’s called a meta-analysis), the researchers at the Kaiser Permamente Center for Health … Continue reading
The canary in the coal mine
Late last week I read the troubling story about a recent polio outbreak in Syria. Although polio, thanks to the vaccine, has been almost eradicated in most parts of the world, it is still present in several middle eastern countries.
Because of political unrest and the huge numbers of refugees fleeing to Europe, world public health officials worry about more widespread outbreaks of this crippling, and deadly, disease.
Outbreaks of highly contagious, but preventable, diseases have become more common because of the anti-vaccination movement. And as these like-minded individuals tend to settle … Continue reading
What they said about vitamin D then…
A few months ago I posted about calcium supplements and vitamin D supplements. I’m not a big fan of taking a lot of pills (or any, actually), so I did a little more research into what the most current evidence-based studies recommended.
Regarding calcium, I found that it’s best to get calcium from foods in my diet, such as dairy products and certain vegetables. I’ve been trying to do that.
And what about vitamin D? Calcium supplements often include vitamin D because it helps with absorption of calcium. Low vitamin D levels … Continue reading
As someone who advocates for less medical care, I’m always thrilled to see physicians and others in the health care industry step forward to protest over-testing, over-screening, over-diagnosing, over-treating and over-charging.
Here are some of my favorite health care blog posts and news articles from the last week.
Dr. Lamberts is embracing the newest trend in primary care: the direct-pay model. He does not accept health insurance, but rather charges a modest (age-based) monthly fee per patient. Booting the insurance companies not only lowers his overhead costs considerably, but frees him from so many … Continue reading
Physicians have a role in lowering health care costs
The Mayo Clinic has been busy this month.
Last week researchers published a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) titled “Views of US Physicians About Controlling Health Care Costs.”
Also last week, Mayo Clinic Proceedings published its conclusion that nearly 40% of current medical practices are of no net benefit and needlessly contribute to high health care costs.
The first study surveyed physicians’ attitudes about their role in reducing health care costs. Do they believe they can and should help rein in the cost of health … Continue reading
The “sleep supplement”
I am a chronically poor sleeper, and I have tried melatonin, the sleep supplement, in the past. I have friends that swear by it, but it never worked for me.
Plus, I could never get a straight answer from any source about the therapeutic dosage – 1 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg? Should I only take it as needed, or is melatonin safe to take every night, forever?
As a supplement (it’s actually a hormone), melatonin falls under the extremely loose guidelines of the Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. It … Continue reading
Last week a small child flew on an overseas flight from China to Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle.
A few days later, the child was diagnosed with the measles. Local public health officials were notified, and they began the task of contacting anyone who might have been exposed to the virus while on the plane or in the airport.
Because measles is easily spread by coughing or sneezing, all passengers on that plane, and many in the airport, were exposed. Anyone who had been previously vaccinated was at low risk of contracting the highly-contagious disease.
But people … Continue reading
Baby boomers get another screening test
I was annoyed when the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced last week that baby boomers, those born between 1945 and 1965 (myself included), should be tested for the liver infection hepatitis C (HCV) regardless of risk factors.
I think my age group is already subjected to too many screening tests of questionable value.
Related reading: Check and check again
Just last November the USPSTF issued a statement that only people at an increased risk of HCV—mostly IV drug users and anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1992—should be tested. Anyone … Continue reading
The other day I was in Target shopping for toothpaste, and I thought, “Wow, do Americans really need this many toothpastes?”
At first glance I couldn’t even find the toothpaste I normally use, no doubt because the packaging had changed. It’s probably “new and improved.” Aren’t they all?
Ignoring the hyperbole of “advanced”, “intense” and “extreme”, I started looking at the ingredient lists on the backs of the boxes. I know exactly which ingredients I want to see to get the most effective toothpaste at the lowest price.
For me, the most important ingredient in a toothpaste is fluoride. … Continue reading
The sunshine supplement
Last week I learned that my vitamin D level is slightly below normal. My physician recommended that I take a daily vitamin D supplement of 1000 to 2000 IU.
I didn’t want the test, but what’s done is done. Now I need to decide what the test result means to me, and if I should follow my doctor’s recommendation.
A few years ago, vitamin D was the new wonder supplement. Various studies associated a low vitamin D level with an increased incidence of all kinds of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, prostate cancer, breast cancer, … Continue reading