• Health Practices: Are You Living In The Past?

    Posted May 9, 2014: by Bill Sardi

    Suddenly there are a plethora of recent reports that indicate many of the common health practices promoted in recent decades have been a giant misdirection.  Let’s examine some of them:

    Still take an aspirin a day to prevent a heart attack?

    Like millions of Americans are you still taking a baby aspirin every day to prevent blood clots from forming in your coronary arteries that supply your heart with oxygenated blood?

    If you are, the Food & Drug Administration says if you are healthy and do not have heart problems or a family history of arterial disease, there is little evidence to suggest a full-size (325 mg) or baby-size (81 mg) aspirin offer any benefit.  [FDA Consumer Health Information May 2014]  There are better alternatives.  [PR Newswire Feb. 25, 2010]

    Fat phobic?

    Are you still avoiding foods rich in saturated fats? According to a recent authoritative analysis of many studies researchers could find no evidence that saturated fats in butter and cheese clog arteries and result in heart disease.  [Annals Internal Medicine March 18, 2014; Wall Street Journal May 6, 2014]

    Still cholesterol phobic?

    Are you still cholesterol-phobic?  The most recent authoritative analysis shows that cholesterol levels do not predict future heart attacks.  That’s right, let me say it a different way because you may find this difficult to believe.  Elevated circulating cholesterol levels did not predict whether a person was going to experience a mortal heart attack over the next 5-years (an elevated arterial-calcium score did!).  [European Heart Journal Dec. 2013; Knowledge of Health Dec. 27, 2013]  A recently published analysis points to refine sugar as a primary culprit in heart disease deaths, not cholesterol. [PubMed Health Feb 4, 2014]

    Still take calcium supplements?

    Ladies, do you still take calcium supplements to prevent bone loss from osteoporosis?  The assumption that a shortage of calcium is responsible for bone thinning with the change of life “has now changed dramatically.”  Supplemental calcium doesn’t convincingly reduce hip fracture risk. [Journal Bone Metabolism Feb. 2014; Knowledge of Health April 30, 2014]

    Continue to schedule mammograms or not?

    Should women continue to undergo repeated annual or bi-annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer?  Maybe not.  Two bio-ethicists recently examined this issue and concluded that mammography “does not clearly produce more benefits than harms.” [New England Journal of Medicine April 16, 2014; Knowledge of Health April 18, 2014]

    Avoid egg yolks?

    Are you still avoiding egg yolks to keep your coronary arteries clear?  Think again.  [Atherosclerosis March 2013; European Journal Clinical Nutrition June 2011]  The damnation of eggs has been a long-standing deception.  From 1950 to 1970 Coronary Artery Disease Mortality Rates Rose While Egg Consumption Declined.  Egg consumption per capita in 1950 was 377/year and the rate of coronary artery disease mortality was ~440 per 100,000.  In 1970 egg consumption declined to 304/year and coronary artery disease mortality rose to ~495 per 100,000.  [National Institutes of Health, Egg Science & Technology, Food Products Press 1995]

    Should you get your flu shots during cold and flu season?

    Do you like 100 million other Americans believe flu shots are a good idea during the flu season?  You might want to re-think that idea too.  A review of 90 studies found that flu shots “only have a very modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and work days lost in the general population.  [Cochrane Database Systematic Review March 13, 2014]  In fact, it has recently been reported that three-quarters of adults who ARE infected with seasonal flu don’t experience any symptoms! [Eureka Alert March 16, 2014; United Press International March 17, 2014]  Sounds like a giant over-vaccination program.

    Should men rely on a PSA test to tell them they need to undergo a prostate biopsy?

    A jury of men was assembled to analyze the PSA test for prostate cancer.  This jury concluded that programs focused on PSA screening did not offer sufficient reassurance or benefit and could raise needless alarm.  [BMJ Open April 30, 2014]

    A more professional analysis of the PSA was performed by the Cochrane Group and also concluded that prostate cancer screening did not significantly decrease prostate cancer mortality.  The Cochrane report said men who have a life expectancy of less than 10-15 years should be advised that prostate cancer screening is not likely to be beneficial. [Cochrane Database Systematic Review Jan 31. 2013]  Also the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial concluded there was no detectable mortality benefit for prostate cancer screening vs. usual care. [National Cancer Institute May 21, 2012] A 15-year study conducted in Spain also failed to demonstrate reduction in mortality for prostate cancer by PSA testing.  [Prostate Cancer Prostatic Diseases March 11, 2014]

    The originator of the PSA test himself has now written a book describing “How big medicine hijacked the PSA test and caused a public health disaster.”  [Amazon.com March4, 2014]  It’s going to take a lot more convincing evidence for fearful men to let go of the PSA test, but at least the truth is coming out.

    Final statement

    The science behind these common health practices is one thing while the public’s readiness to abandon them is another.  These closely-held health practices may have become antiquated too rapidly.  The public has such deep-rooted health fears and need for reassurance they are healthy as well as rigid dietary habits that significant change is not anticipated.

    Furthermore, doctors have too much financial interest to abandon them altogether as they bring an endless stream of income to their offices.  Nevertheless, the Affordable Care Act does mandate current health screenings and medical treatments be science based or insurance reimbursement will be declined.  Whether that actually takes place is unknown at the current time.

    The massive scale of modern medicine’s misdirection is suggestive of a profession that is gaming the public with ineffective remedies to ensure there are more than ample levels of disease to treat.  It is one thing for naïve and fearful patients to cling to ineffective health practices but it is entirely another thing for doctor’s to do nothing to put a stop to them out of their own self-interest.

    Antiquated health practices may distract from practicing tried-and-true health habits, such as low-carbohydrate/low refined sugar diets (no bread, no rice, no pasta, no added sugar) [Annals Medicine May 2014]; universal vitamin D screening and supplementation [Journal American Geriatric Society May 2013; Current Drug Targets Jan 2011]; avoidance of iron overload  [Knowledge of Health, May 2, 2014]; inclusion of bran in the daily diet [Circulation May 2010]; the use of garlic [Ageing Research Review Jan 2003]; the use of fish oil supplements [American Journal Epidemiology March 15, 2014]; vitamin C supplementation [Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention Dec 2013; Epidemiology May 1992; Journal American College Nutrition June 2001]; and moderate wine drinking. [British Journal Nutrition May 2014]  ©2014 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.

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