Category Archives: Medicine

Warring on Some Drugs, by Eric Peters

There are legal drugs that are far more addictive and destructive than some of the illegal drugs. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

An irony of the War on Some Drugs is that legal drugs – most notoriously, the pain medication oxycodone – are more of an objective threat to people’s health than illegal ones like marijuana, which can be used to treat the same conditions, but without the life-threatening (and ending) downsides.

Opioids – which are derived from opium – are often prescribed as painkillers. They’re effective, but the downside is they are enormously addictive. And – unlike marijuana – they can literally kill you.

Marijuana is also a very effective pain killer – but without the lethal downsides.

It is impossible to “OD” on pot.

Or even to become addicted.

The worst thing that might happen is a bad case of the munchies – which is why marijuana is frequently used (and prescribed, in states where it’s legal) as an appetite stimulant for people undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer. It’s also very effective as a treatment for glaucoma; it reduces intra-ocular eye pressure – but without the problems of physical addiction or the potential to end up dead from an overdose.

These are among the reasons for the decriminalization of medical marijuana by several states, most notably Colorado and California.

It’s hard to understand why any reasonable person could object.

If the argument is that marijuana can be abused, that argument applies even more to legal opioids, such as Oxycontin (the brand name for the opioid oxycodone). As an article in U.S. News by Adrianne Wilson Poe noted, “Opioid addiction . . .  kills 115 people a day, more than gun violence or traffic accidents.”

As opposed to no people killed – ever – by medical marijuana.

Poe also cites the estimated $500 billion annually that opioid abuse costs the U.S. economy.

Whereas medical marijuana costs the U.S. economy . . .  nothing.

To continue reading: Warring on Some Drugs

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The road to Alzheimer’s disease is lined with processed foods, by Dr. Lisa Mosconi

Garbage in, garbage out, as the old saying goes. Consistently eat garbage and you may be putting yourself on the path towards Alzheimer’s disease. From Dr. Lisa Mosconi at qz.com:

Dementia haunts the United States. There’s no one without a personal story about how dementia has touched someone they care for. But beyond personal stories, the broader narrative is staggering: By 2050, we are on track to have almost 15 million Alzheimer’s patients in the US alone. That’s roughly the population of NYC, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined. Now add a few more cities to take care of them.

It’s an epidemic that’s already underway—but we don’t recognize it as such. The popular conception of Alzheimer’s is as an inevitable outcome of aging, bad genes, or both.

From a scientist’s perspective, it’s important to remind everyone that we all once believed the same thing about cancer. But just a few days ago, doctors around the world have been considerably shaken up by the breaking news linking cancer to processed foods. In a large-scale study, researchers found that a 10% increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods led to a 12% increase in overall cancer events.

At the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical, this latest cancer research had our full attention. The findings line up so closely with research in the field, including our own work, linking diet and risk of Alzheimer’s—and underscore how important lifestyle changes can be to delaying or even avoiding the onset of the disease.

In an age of inexpensive personal genomics, there’s a general and persistent sense that as with cancer, Alzheimer’s is an essentially genetic outcome. But in reality, less than 1% of the population develops the disease due to genetic mutations in their DNA. To be clear, the vast majority of Alzheimer’s patients is simply not born of those mutations.

For Alzheimer’s, as with cancer—but also as with other conditions like heart disease and diabetes—much of the risk is related to behavioral and lifestyle factors. The consensus among scientists is that over one third of all Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented by improving our lifestyle. This includes ameliorating cardiovascular fitness, keeping our brains intellectually stimulated, and perhaps most of all: eating better.

“Eating better” means addressing the American ultra-processed diet. Ultra-processed is a technical term, and exists in a spectrum of food processing. An apple straight from the tree is wholly unprocessed. Dry the apple, and store it away with common preservatives like sulphur dioxide, and it becomes a processed food.

Socialized Medicine: A Dose of Reality, by Ileana Johnson

Too bad college kids in favor of socialized medicine can’t be given a one-way ticket to a country with socialized medicine when they’re sick. From Ileana Johnson at thegatestoneinstitute.org:

  • Although Britons do have affordable access to primary-care doctors, and everyone in the UK is covered through high taxes, they are subjected to extensive waiting periods for specialists, surgeries and hospitalization. The fact is that many patients die waiting for treatment.
  • Rather than rejecting the basic free-market principles of the US economy — as a 2016 Harvard University survey found that most do — young Americans would do well to ask themselves why it is that so many people from countries with socialized medicine flock to the United States for treatment.

According to a recent Pew poll, support for universal health care, provided and paid for by the federal government, is higher among American millennials than among older generations. Young Americans seem to believe that socialized medicine is a “cure-all” for health-care ills in the United States, as it ostensibly is elsewhere, such as Canada and Britain.

Unfortunately, there are facts that would appear to put this fantasy to rest by the facts — for instance, the tragic and untimely death of a 20-year-old British woman in her dorm room last March. Victoria Hills, a first-year student, died of an ear infection, after “postpon[ing] visiting her campus general practitioner because her student loan had not come through and she couldn’t afford the prescription.”

There seems to be a myth that all medical care, procedures and drugs are free under a socialized system. Although Britons do have affordable access to primary-care doctors, and everyone in the UK is covered through high taxes, they are subjected to extensive waiting periods for specialists, surgeries and hospitalization. The fact is that in the West, as the ability of physicians to provide services becomes stretched, many patients die waiting for treatment.

To continue reading: Socialized Medicine: A Dose of Reality

Welcome to Iraq War 3½, by Jason Ditz

America starts wars, it fights them, it prolongs them, but it no longer ends them. From Jason Ditz at antiwar.com:

With the last of the ISIS-held territory in Iraq recaptured, Iraqi officials are cheerfully proclaiming the war is over. Pentagon’s commanders, who recognize that this is the third “end of the Iraq war” in just 15 years, are trying to spin it as a new phase in the continuing war.

It makes sense for them to present it this way, US operations aren’t changing substantially. The troops are staying, which is unsurprising as the Pentagon was insisting from the start of this most recent buildup that the deployment was to be more or less permanent.

So US officials want the public to view this more as the next phase of Iraq. Pentagon officials are upbeat that they are going into the next phase, since ISIS did get mostly defeated, albeit at the cost of badly damaging or outright destroying multiple Sunni cities. As a practical matter, there isn’t much reason for confidence. Everything that derailed the previous US strategies in Iraq will still be a problem, only more so.

As with the brief “shock and awe” period giving way to a much less specific open-ended campaign, the defeat of ISIS will give way to a new round of mission creep, as officials come up with new goals for the war to justify its continuation. Another stability-centric set of missions for a Pentagon that’s been struggling mightily with that wherever they intervene.

A top priority is going to be re-training and building up the Iraqi military, of course. The US has already given Iraq an entire military’s worth of gear before, much of which was looted and lost in the ISIS fighting. High casualties among the best-trained fighters mean in many ways the US is starting from square one again, especially on gear, and Iraq’s economic woes mean they’re in an even worse position to pay for anything the US wants them to have.

Beyond that, Pentagon officials have made a stated goal of ensuring that ISIS doesn’t reemerge, and that some other faction doesn’t emerge to replace them. This is the most open-ended goal, obviously, as it could conceivably take forever. It’s also the least realistic goal, as a cursory look at the last 15 years shows.

To continue reading: Welcome to Iraq War 3½

American Adults Have Never Been Fatter, by Tyler Durden

America’s obesity epidemic has to be some sort of marker of the nation’s character. All kinds of excuses can be made, but many Americans suffer from a complete lack of self-control. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

40% of American adults are obese, a sharp increase from a decade earlier and a record high. according to federal health officials.

A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) sampling of 27,449 adults with a BMI between 30 and 40 found that among those aged 20 years and older, obesity went from 33.7% in 2007-2008 to 39.6% in 2015-2016. Severe obesity – those with a BMI above 40, jumped from 5.7% to 7.7% over the same period.

The increase in obesity among the 16,875 youth sampled was much lower, going from 16.8% a decade ago to 18.5% in 2015-2016. Still pretty bad.

For reference, this kid was considered fat in 1985… 

National trends

The CDC has prepared handy list of statistics as well as maps of average obesity by state, as well as by race. In a nutshell, the south is a hotbed of obesity.

Of note:

  • Obesity decreased by level of education. Adults without a high school degree or equivalent  had the highest self-reported obesity 
  • Young adults were half as likely to have obesity as middle-aged adults.

Obesity Prevalence in 2016 Varies Across States and Territories

  • All states had more than 20% of adults with obesity.
  • 35% or more adults had obesity in 5 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia).
  • The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (32.0%), followed by the Midwest (31.4%), the Northeast (26.9%), and the West (26.0%).

To continue reading: American Adults Have Never Been Fatter

There Will Be No Economic Boom – Part II, by Lance Roberts

Neither consumers nor corporations are going to lead the US to the land of economic booms. From Lance Roberts at realinvestmentadvice.com:

On Tuesday, I presented at the Financial Planning Association (FPA) Conference in Houston at which I discussed the issues surrounding financial planning in an environment of high valuations and low forward returns. After my presentation, a few CFP’s approached me to discuss the premise that recent “tax cuts/reforms” will lead to a resurgence of economic growth which will boost earnings and therefore negate the overvaluation problem.

This is unlikely to be the case and something that I discussed recently in “There Will Be No Economic Boom.”  However, that article focused on the impact of the passage of the 2-year “Continuing Resolution” which will lead to a surge in the national deficit as unconstrained spending negates the effect of “tax reform” on the U.S. economy.

But there is more to this story.

When the “tax cut” bill was being passed, everyone from Congress to the mainstream media, and even the CFP’s I spoke with yesterday, regurgitated the same “storyline:”

“Tax cuts will lead to an economic boom as corporations increase wages, hire and produce more and consumers have extra money in their pockets to spend.”

As I have written many times previously, this was always more “hope” than “reality.”

Let me explain.

The economy, as we currently calculate it, is roughly 70% driven by what you and I consume or “personal consumption expenditures (PCE).” The chart below shows the history of real, inflation-adjusted, PCE as a percent of real GDP.

If “tax cuts” are going to substantially increase the growth rate of the U.S. economy, as touted by the current Administration, then PCE has to be directly targeted.

However, while the majority of consumers will receive an “average” of $1182 in the form of a tax reduction, (or $98.50 a month), the increase in take-home pay has already been offset by surging health care cost, rent, energy and higher debt service payments. As shown in the table below – the biggest constituents of the “non-discretionary family budget” are rising the most.

So, since tax-cuts, by themselves, are unlikely to offset rising prices of essential goods and services it’s hard to see how they fuel a significant surge in consumer spending.

To continue reading: There Will Be No Economic Boom – Part II

Big Pharma’s War On Our Children: 1 Million Kids Under Age 6 On PSYCHIATRIC Drugs, by Mac Slavo

There’s nothing like giving our kids a head start in life. Get them used to drugs early on. Then wonder why so many of them are so screwed up. From Mac Slavo at shtfplan.com:

In the United States, there are one million children under the age of six on psychiatric drugs. This number is particularly disturbing, considering the horrifying side effects and ineffectiveness of a good number of these types of harmful drugs.

One in six Americans overall regularly take some type of medication in this category. However, children are now being swept up in Big Pharma’s desire to make money, not improve health. Mental health watchdog group Citizens Commission on Human Rights is drawing attention to the concerning fact that more than a million kids younger than six in our nation are currently taking these psychiatric drugs.

According to Natural News, around half of these children are four to five years old and an incredible 274,804 of them are younger than a year old. That’s right: babies are being given psychiatric drugs. The number rises for toddlers aged two to three, with 370,778 kids in this category taking psychiatric drugs overall. If this isn’t horrifying to you, congratulations on your brainwashing.

Data from IMS Health shows that the drug situation only gets worse as kids get older, with 4,130,340 kids aged 6 to 12 taking some type of psychiatric drug.

You might be forgiven for assuming that most of these statistics are made up by kids taking ADHD drugs given how common that approach seems to be nowadays, but it really only accounts for a small portion of it, with 1,422 of those younger than a year old and just over 181,000 of those aged four to five taking ADHD drugs. –Natural News

The biggest category of psychotic drugs given to children appears to be anti-anxiety drugs. Just over 227,132 babies under one-year-old and nearly 248,000 of those aged four to five take these medications. Again, babies are being given mind-altering drugs before their first birthday. But the news just gets worse from there. Experts believe these estimates are far too low and the real numbers are actually much higher, due in part to the tendency for some doctors to hand out psychiatric medications for “off-label” uses. This risky practice entails giving out a drug to treat something that it is not indicated for, and the long-term effects of such an approach are completely unknown.

To continue reading: Big Pharma’s War On Our Children: 1 Million Kids Under Age 6 On PSYCHIATRIC Drugs