mm270: Health trilogy

MUDGE’S Musings

As yr (justifiably) humble svt trudges around this excessive winter in his oh-so-elegant cam-boot (complete with exposed sock — wow! is it cold!), nursing his partially torn Achilles and worrying that his odd appliance-forced gait is causing new compensatory aches and pains in his lower back, health is very much on his mind.

And as a charter member of the Boomer cohort, one would expect no less. And since we are such a huge demographic, health news, never in short supply, can now be, appropriate to the season, officially classified as a blizzard.

A blizzard of health related news. This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© proudly brings you its all-health news SASB©.

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Caffeine: Villain yet again

If it’s Tuesday, caffeine must be good for you. Oops – full moon: caffeine is bad!

Must be that full moon.


Caffeine May Hamper Diabetes Control

January 30, 2008,  10:52 am

Caffeine may make it tougher for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar, a new study shows.

The finding, published in February’s Diabetes Care, adds to the confusion about the role coffee plays in diabetes risk. Although caffeine has consistently been shown to affect blood sugar levels, several studies have shown that coffee drinkers are at lower risk for diabetes.

The latest findings about caffeine come from a small study by Duke University researchers who set out to determine if caffeine consumption can undermine a patient’s effort to manage diabetes. The researchers studied the effects of caffeine in 10 patients with Type 2 diabetes. The patients were already regular coffee drinkers and were trying to manage their diabetes without using insulin.

I am not the scientist or the fluent statistician; I’ll leave the brilliant analysis to Sandy Szwarc in her superlative blog, Junkfood Science (sorry, Sandy, if I missed your coverage of this), but a 10-person study does not prove anything, except researchers have a publishing schedule, and NYTimes has space to fill or the advertising looks naked. 10 patients. Sigh.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Caffeine May Hamper Diabetes Control – Well – Tara Parker-Pope – Health – New York Times Blog

Not compelling, unless one is shorting Starbucks (SBUX) or Pepsi (PEP).

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Cholesterol: Is it the villain?

Fascinating opinion piece appeared in NYTimes this past Sunday. The writer, Gary Taubes, is well known for questioning the medical establishment.


What’s Cholesterol Got to Do With It?

By GARY TAUBES | Published: January 27, 2008

THE idea that cholesterol plays a key role in heart disease is so tightly woven into modern medical thinking that it is no longer considered open to question. This is the message that emerged all too clearly from the recent news that the drug Vytorin had fared no better in clinical trials than the statin therapy it was meant to supplant.

Medicine has been convinced for many years that cholesterol is intimately related to heart disease, that implacable killer.

Taubes writes very convincingly that our assumptions of that causal relationship are flawed at best.

The other important piece of evidence for the cholesterol hypothesis is that statin drugs like Zocor and Lipitor lower LDL cholesterol and also prevent heart attacks. The higher the potency of statins, the greater the cholesterol lowering and the fewer the heart attacks. This is perceived as implying cause and effect: statins reduce LDL cholesterol and prevent heart disease, so reducing LDL cholesterol prevents heart disease. This belief is held with such conviction that the Food and Drug Administration now approves drugs to prevent heart disease, as it did with Zetia, solely on the evidence that they lower LDL cholesterol.

But the logic is specious because most drugs have multiple actions. It’s like insisting that aspirin prevents heart disease by getting rid of headaches.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

What’s Cholesterol Got to Do With It? – New York Times

Taubes has defended the Atkins diet, and questioned the value of exercise for weight loss – a man MUDGE must get to know better!

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Fat the villain? Or is it your doctor?

Horizontally challenged folk such as your correspondent grow accustomed to the casual bias of the general population against those of our size.

But that population apparently includes our medical professionals:


Weighty Assumptions

Doctors Too Quick to Blame Obese Patients’ Ills on Fat, Studies Suggest

By Roni Caryn Rabin | Special to The Washington Post

Tuesday, January 29, 2008; Page HE01

After a car accident mangled her right foot, requiring five operations and a bone graft from her hip, Lynn Behnke was in so much pain that she had a hard time sitting or sleeping and often had to call in sick. But when she went back to her surgeon, his advice surprised her.

He told her to go on a diet.

Behnke was livid. “If a skinny person came in with that kind of pain, they would have been given pain medication,” said the 44-year-old Fairfax resident, who then weighed 200 pounds — enough, at 5 feet 6 inches tall, to be considered obese….

Several obese patients said in interviews that they went to see a doctor only when it was unavoidable and often left feeling that they hadn’t gotten the help they needed.

“It’s like they make the diagnosis as soon as they see you walk through the door,” said Miki Merritt, 42, of Grasonville, Md., vice president of the local chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance ( In her case, she said, doctors incorrectly ascribed a painful rash to poor circulation they blamed on her weight. (At 5-3 and 220 pounds, she has a body mass index of 39; 30 or higher qualifies as obese.)

A Johns Hopkins-trained dermatologist later diagnosed the rash as a symptom of sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that can affect multiple organs and is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. He treated Merritt with steroids, which suppress the immune system, and, Merritt said, she has not had a flare-up since.

A researcher at Yale developed a program for doctors to educate them about weight bias.

The training program asks doctors to question their own assumptions and ask themselves, “Do I consider all of the patients’ presenting problems, in addition to weight?”

“It’s not a black-and-white issue,” said Cathy Grinels, a 55-year-old teacher from Alexandria who is obese. “I don’t want a doctor who is going to ignore my size. But if I come in with an ear infection, I don’t want it attributed to my weight.”


[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Weighty Assumptions –

It must be hard-wired in the genes: not the obese part; don’t know about that. No, I mean the superficial judgements we all make about people based only on what we see.

One needn’t be a bleeding heart politically correct left-handed person to understand how wrong those snap judgements are.

Well, so much for today’s edition of

Short Attention Span Health Blogging©.

Maybe we all learned something new today about assumptions. And villains.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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3 Responses to mm270: Health trilogy

  1. Sandy says:

    Thank you for the complement, but I didn’t cover that study, either. As you noted it wasn’t a study worthy of comment. 🙂

  2. mudge says:

    Thanks for stopping, Sandy!

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