When Doing Nothing Is the Best Medicine

By DANIELLE OFRI, M.D.

“Don’t just do something; stand there!”

Sore throat? Prescribe an antibiotic.

New headache? Get a CT scan.

P.S.A. at the upper limit of normal? Get a biopsy.

Blood pressure still high? Add on another medication.

Doctors tend to want to “do something” whenever they note something amiss. And patients, by and large, want something done when they have a symptom. Few people like being told just to watch and wait.

Of course, every “thing” a doctor does also has side effects — rampant bacterial resistance from antibiotic overuse; major increases in radiation exposure from unnecessary CT scans; incontinence or impotence from prostate cancer treatments that may do nothing to prolong life; toxic drug interactions from multiple medications, particularly in the elderly.

The admonishment “Don’t just do something; stand there!” reminds us that we should stop and think before we act, that there are many instances in which doing nothing is greatly preferable to doing something.

Every time I prescribe a medication — or order an invasive test, or refer a patient to a surgeon — it always feels like I’m placing a stone on a balance scale. Intellectually, my goal is to place the stone on the side of the scale that benefits my patient. But in my heart, I fear that it could end up on the other side, the side that harms, and the weight and permanence of the stone give me pause.

No one, of course, wants doctors who fail to act when action is necessary. And medical emergencies are a different story altogether. But most chronic illnesses, luckily, are not emergencies, so there is room for deliberation before action.

Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/when-doing-nothing-is-the-best-medicine/

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Finding a Better Name for Certain Cancers

By TARA PARKER-POPE

Not all cancers are created equal. Some low-grade prostate cancers, for instance, may never spread. Even some early-stage breast cancers may never turn deadly. Now some experts believe it’s time to rethink what we call cancer. As Gina Kolata writes in this week’s Science Times:

One thing is growing increasingly clear to many researchers: The word “cancer” is out of date, and all too often it can be unnecessarily frightening.

“Cancer” is used, these experts say, for far too many conditions that are very different in their prognoses — from “Stage 0 breast cancer,” which may be harmless if left alone, to glioblastomas, brain tumors with a dismal prognosis no matter what treatment is tried.

It is like saying a person has “mental illness” when he or she might have schizophrenia or mild depression or an eating disorder.

Now, some medical experts have recommended getting rid of the word “cancer” altogether for certain conditions that may or may not be potentially fatal.

Source:  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/finding-a-better-name-for-certain-cancers/?smid=tw-taraparkerpope&seid=auto

Four Drugs Cause Most Hospitalizations in Older Adults

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR

Four medications or medication groups — used alone or together — were responsible for two-thirds of emergency hospitalizations among older Americans.

At the top of the list was warfarin, also known as Coumadin, a blood thinner. It accounted for 33 percent of emergency hospital visits.

Insulin injections were next on the list, accounting for 14 percent of emergency visits.

Aspirin, clopidogrel and other antiplatelet drugs that help prevent blood clotting were involved in 13 percent of emergency visits.

And just behind them were diabetes drugs taken by mouth, called oral hypoglycemic agents, which were implicated in 11 percent of hospitalizations.

All these drugs are commonly prescribed to older adults.

One problem they share is a narrow therapeutic index, meaning the line between an effective dose and a hazardous one is thin.

Every year, about 100,000 people in the United States over age 65 are taken to hospitals for adverse reactions to medications.

About two-thirds end up there because of accidental overdoses, or because the amount of medication prescribed for them had a more powerful effect than intended.

Read more: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/four-drugs-cause-most-hospitalizations-in-older-adults/?smid=tw-taraparkerpope&seid=auto

How Big Pharma Fools Even Your Doctor

One of the more flagrant offenses committed by pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession is the practice of “ghostwriting” medical articles.

A new cross-sectional survey found that more than 20 percent of articles published in six leading medical journals during 2008 were likely written by honorary- and/or ghost writers.

For medical journals, ghostwriting usually refers to writers sponsored by a drug or medical device company, who make major but uncredited research- or writing contributions.

The articles are instead published under the names of academic authors.

Such “inappropriate authorship” leads to a lack of transparency and accountability, which has become an important concern for the academic community.

For more click here:  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/26/medical-journals-using-ghost-writers.aspx?e_cid=20111126_DNL_art_2


How the Telecom Industry Seeks to Confuse About the Dangers of Cell Phones

new report published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) claims to have found no association between long-term use of cell phones and brain or central nervous system tumors.

But like the Interphone study, which also initially reported no link between cell phones and brain cancer, this finding is seriously flawed and only adding to the false shroud of safety that the telecom industry is seeking to create.

As Devra Davis, PhD, cancer epidemiologist and president of the Environmental Health Trust, stated, the BMJ study results are “unsurprising, biased and misleading,” and:

“From the way it was set up originally, this deeply flawed study was designed to fail to find an increased risk of brain tumors tied with cellphone use.”

Read more: http://emf.mercola.com/sites/emf/archive/2011/11/12/telecom-industry-confused-on-cell-phone-dangers.aspx?e_cid=20111112_DNL_art_2

 

The True Cost of Your Prescription Drugs!

Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA.

Claritin 10 mg

Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17

Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71

Percent markup: 30,306%

Lipitor 20 mg

Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37

Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80

Percent markup: 4,696%

Since the cost of prescription drugs is so outrageous, I thought everyone I knew should know about this. Please read the following and pass it on.

Read more:  http://www.rense.com/general54/preco.htm

Ghost Writing is Fraudulent

A legal remedy is needed to curb unethical “guest authorship” in medical journals.

Medical “guest writers” might be sued for fraud. For some time, commentators have called for sanctions against academic doctors who agree to sign their names to articles that are planned and developed by medical writing companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers.  Some have even called these practices fraudulent, but have not confronted the legal difficulties with that approach—namely that the grounds for fraud are hard to establish: those who have been harmed by the drugs (the patients) are unlikely to have read the article, and therefore cannot claim to have believed that the “guest” was the true author, while the doctors who found the article persuasive are unlikely to have used the drug themselves.

We argue that the readers of medical journals are also victims. The value of their subscription is diminished when the editors unwittingly publish articles signed by guest writers who falsely claim to be the author. This violates the journal’s publication requirements, making the articles themselves fraudulent. We also argue that when the pharmaceutical sponsors use these articles to defend themselves in lawsuits (for example, to prove a drug’s safety), that effort should be treated as a fraud on the court, resulting in a verdict in favor of the opposing party.

Read more: http://the-scientist.com/2011/11/02/opinion-ghost-writing-is-fraudulent/