Archive for September, 2016

Sep 13 2016

Organic Sugar Scam

gatorade-organicGatorade, which is basically sugar water with a little salt and potassium added, is extending their strategy of making sugar water sound healthful by marketing a prominently labeled “Organic” version of their product: G Organic.

What makes the product organic is that the sugar is sourced from organic sugar cane. This is an excellent example of how marketing creates then exploits a health halo around products even when it makes absolutely no sense.

Organic Sugar

The sugar industry, and producers of high sugar products, have been engaged in a campaign over decades to market sugary products to the public while somehow convincing them that the products are not bad for them, and in fact may be good for them.

The science is pretty clear. Having a diet high in refined sugar is a major health risk factor. It increases triglycerides, which increases risk of heart disease, it causes tooth decay and obesity, which leads to diabetes and other health issues.

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Sep 12 2016

Clinton Health Conspiracy Update

Published by under Conspiracy Theories

clinton12I wrote a couple weeks ago about health conspiracies in the current presidential campaign. I concluded that presidential candidates should be transparent about their health, given the job for which they claim to be qualified. At the same time, it seems to be standard procedure now to use health issues as another source of mudslinging.

As with many things, the public will have to sort through the fog of campaigning and biased reporting to try to figure out where reality lies. Perhaps most challenging is to filter out our own ideology and biases.

Both candidates this cycle are on the older side, 68 and 70 for Clinton and Trump respectively, and so health is more of an issue. There hasn’t been any update for Trump, he has still only released a rather dubious letter from his physician, not actual health records. The situation with Clinton has been very active.

Clinton has Pneumonia

The big news is that yesterday, at a 911 ceremony, Clinton did not feel well and had to abruptly leave. The press was kept in the dark for 90 minutes, after which time they were told that Clinton was “overheated” and dehydrated, and is now feeling better. The campaign later released information that two days earlier, on Friday, Clinton was diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia and that was the cause of her not feeling well on Sunday. The pneumonia was also blamed for her recent persistent cough.

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Sep 09 2016

Anti-Vaccine Doctor, Bob Sears, Faces Disciplinary Action

bob-searsDr. Bob Sears is a Capistrano Beach pediatrician who is famous for opposing mandatory vaccinations and the current CDC vaccine schedule. He has promoted his alternate vaccine schedule, which spreads out the vaccines much greater than the standard schedule. This has made him a darling of the anti-vaccine movement, an expert who supports part of their narrative (specifically, “Too many too soon” and parental choice).

Recently the Medical Board of California filed a complaint against Sears for “gross negligence.” There are three counts, the first for recommending a 2 year old patient not receive any further vaccines because of apparent reactions to previous vaccines. The complaint alleges:

Respondent was grossly negligent and departed from the standard of care in that he did not obtain the basic information necessary for decision making prior to determining to exclude the possibility of future vaccines, leaving both patient J.G, the patient’s mother, and his future contacts at risk for preventable and communicable diseases.

The complaint also alleges that Sears failed to adequately assess the patient after a head injury with complaint of headache, and also that he failed to keep adequate records by not filing the letter excusing the patient from vaccines in the chart.

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Sep 08 2016

The Future of Telemedicine

telemedicine_computerTelemedicine is essentially the practice of having a patient visit electronically rather than in person. I think as a practice this is underutilized for various reasons, but we are likely to see much more of it in the future.

Does it Work?

Before we talk about the barriers to the adoption of telemedicine practice, let’s address the key question – is it effective? Further, is it as effective as an in-office visit? The answer, as you might expect, is, it depends. In some situations, however, it can be just as effective.

A recent study, for example, compared telemedicine from an originating clinic to in-person care for patients with asthma and found no difference in outcome over six months. In this study telemedicine patients visited a local clinic staffed with a nurse or respiratory therapist.

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Sep 06 2016

Anatomy of the CAM Scam, NIH Edition

acupuncture2Here is the challenge: how do you take a treatment or set of treatments that clearly do not work, and in fact defy basic sciences like physiology and chemistry, and argue that they are worthwhile. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) was essentially given this challenge when the Office of Alternative Medicine was forced upon them in 1991. This office has since morphed into a center, with its current name, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

The NCCIH recently put out a document that is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of their strategy for promoting worthless treatments (whether they think that is what they are doing or not). It reads like a blueprint for how to spin a political narrative out of negative medical studies.

Focus of Subjective Symptoms

The paper is, “Evidence-Based Evaluation of Complementary Health Approaches for Pain Management in the United States.” Pain is a favorite target for CAM because it is a subjective symptom and there are known neurological mechanisms by which the perception of pain can be easily manipulated.

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Sep 01 2016

Bt Brinjal – Destroying the Anti-GMO Narrative

Published by under Technology

Bt BringalIt is amazing how a rigid ideology can so dramatically alter one’s perception of reality and justify bad behavior. Consider the following summary of events:

One side of the GMO debate opposes the use of seeds that were created in the public interest and given freely to farmers, without any corporate ownership or profit motive. These plants dramatically reduce the use of pesticides and reduce loss due to pest damage.

The activists on this side don’t have any facts at all to back them up, so they willfully spread lies and misinformation, spread propaganda as if it were journalism, and make personal attacks against those on the other side. Yet, they still think they are the good guys.

The Anti-GMO Narrative

The anti-GMO narrative – and that is what it is, a story – has several consistent elements. According to this narrative GMOs are poisonous, bad for farmers, and solely promoted by companies out to make money by controlling the food source and exploiting farmers and the public. The problem with this cartoon is that it does not comport with reality.

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