mm445: Another dietary mistake

July 20, 2008

dreamstime_3286477

© Simone Van Den Berg | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Summertime. People are vacationing. The weather, here in the Northern Hemisphere, at least (reportedly quite chilly in Oz, sorry guys!) is excessively hot and humid. The beach beckons.

News is sparse, but the need to sell the advertisers’ wares means that the 24-hour news cycle keeps on spinning.

Thus a story in the New England Journal of Medicine received undue prominence this week: a report on a clinical study of a comparison of two popular diet programs, the Atkins diet (once a tool of yr (justifiably) humble svt) vs. the Mediterranean diet (a favored tool of an official brother of y[j]hs). So it was all over the headlines for a day or so, midweek, filling those column inches and 30-second sound bites during the summer doldrums and of more than a little personal interest.

This was a 2-year study, and the weight loss reported was depressingly small. What was going on?

I turned, as often I do when trying to dig beneath the headlines on medical issues, to Left-Handed Complement‘s favorite authority on such medical studies, especially as regards weight loss, Sandy Szwarc, writing in her amazingly wise blog, Junkfood Science. Here are some previous occasions when she cut through the jargon and the statistical distortions for us.

Junkfood Science: Sandy Szwarc’s Genius

mm390: Mudge’s Healthy Obsession
mm363: “60 Minutes:” Dead wrong?
mm305: Google Health – 1984 for the 21st Century
mm276: Fat Tuesday…
mm197: Short attention span
mm177: Healthy eating — Overrated!
mm165: Junkfood Science: Obesity Paradox #13

Sure enough, yesterday’s Junkfood Science post provided a thorough analysis, detailed but not excessively technical, of the study. Were you aware, for example, that it was partially funded by the Atkins people?

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mm400: A trend that I can really support

June 4, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

As faithful reader no doubt recalls, health issues are always taken quite seriously here in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©. Indeed, we have devoted quite a number of posts to health topics, most recently here (you might also be interested in this recent post; it contains an ambitious link table that lists many previous stories).

Yr (justifiably) humble svt is hardly a serious drinker. Beer, especially in its American incarnation, is boring and bloating. Don’t frequent taverns, even the gigantic outdoor ones called ballparks and football stadia. Spirits with an adult taste, like Scotch, are an acquired taste I’ve never bothered to acquire. Whiskeys that can be masked with sweet ingredients have on a few, thankfully long ago occasions, led to public displays of an embarrassing nature.

Oh, through the years, I have relished a good glass or two of wine at a decent restaurant, but I have not made a study of wine, nor do I maintain a pretension toward oenophilia. When wine is consumed, I’m Goldilocks: not too sweet, not too dry: just right.

But, like any serious imbiber (of popular media, at least), I’ve long heard of the purported health effects of red wine. A glass of red wine daily is supposed to help with cholesterol levels, and mitigate other common conditions of middle age, even to constrain the aging process. This is news usually taken, not with a grain of salt (salt! the devil!), but with our usual, curmudgeonly skepticism:

Something that can be expensive, and that can easily get careless consumers drunk is good for you? Nice try, Napa and Sonoma!

Au contraire, mes amis! ( <– French reference for my really serious oenophile readers.)

nytimes

New Hints Seen That Red Wine May Slow Aging

Research | By NICHOLAS WADE | Published: June 4, 2008

Red wine may be much more potent than was thought in extending human lifespan, researchers say in a new report that is likely to give impetus to the rapidly growing search for longevity drugs.

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mm391: A site for poor eyes

May 25, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

For yr (justifiably) humble svt, eyesight is the most important of the five senses. Of course, if my senses of taste and smell weren’t so important to me, perhaps I wouldn’t weigh what I do.

And, if I had no hearing, my music collection and my 100 stations on Pandora would be useless. And without a sense of touch, certain very enjoyable activities would be far less enjoyable, if possible at all.

But, all considered, for me, sight is the most precious. So this story leapt off the page for me.

nytimes

electronicmagnifier

The Magnifying Glass Gets an Electronic Twist

TECHNOLOGY | Novelties |  By ANNE EISENBERG | Published: May 25, 2008

PEOPLE who lose part of their sight to macular degeneration, diabetes or other diseases may now benefit from some new technology. Several portable video devices that enlarge print may help them make the most of their remaining vision.

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mm390: Mudge’s Healthy Obsession

May 24, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

While puttering around doing the formatting and graphics hunt for today’s effort, discovered that, without really being specifically aware of it, MUDGE has devoted at least 30 posts to issues relating to health. That’s a sizable chunk of time and attention.

But, why not? As we’ve noted frequently, the oldest of the Boomer cohort of which I am nearly a charter member is 62 years old, eligible to retire (and, indeed, a number of MUDGE’s friends have already done so). And, regardless of age, for at least the past 25 years we Boomers have paid outsized attention to health issues.

This year alone at Casa MUDGE, while dealing with the Achilles tendon partial tear that has been a pest for way too long and my wife’s rotator cuff issue (after the last cortisone injection, doing very well thank you), we continue our concern with our Los Angeles daughter’s Crohn’s disease (current treatment seems to be helping, thank goodness, although there’s a health insurance battle brewing), and my dear mother’s recent diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (she’s fighting it tenaciously).

Not to mention, of course, our various chronic conditions for which our monthly pharmaceutical expense is ever increasing.

So, health is on our mind, all of the time. Fortunately, there is never a lack of news.

In that spirit, to conclude setting the table for today’s health post, here’s a link table of our most important posts on the topic.

healthyobsession1_thumb[3] dreamstime_1230255-400_thumb[4] MUDGE‘s Healthy Obsession

mm386: Your Boomer brain…
mm363: “60 Minutes:” Dead wrong?
mm346: All together now: Ewwwww
mm325: I’m an Internet informed parent…
mm323: Get medicine out of the hands…
mm305: Google Health – 1984 for the 21st Century
mm283: Cause and effect: an ongoing mystery
mm281: No! Don’t take away my Mountain Dew!
mm276: Fat Tuesday…
mm270: Health trilogy
mm268: Sometimes it’s personal
mm251: Stem cells – Lab harvests non-destructively
mm230: Stem cells; Insurance scum; Overtreatment!
mm227: Nanotechnology: The future is safe?
mm223: Pigs, bees, fish – dangerous ways
mm221: The dread disease we all hope to catch
mm201: Stemming the tide of ignorance
mm200: Stem cells: an alternative source
mm198: GM foods – Wrongheaded opposition
mm197: Short attention span
mm190: U.S. Health Care – Excuses, not facts
mm177: Healthy eating — Overrated!
mm176.5: Sleep: The Threequel
mm176: Sleep: But <after> you read this, please!
mm172: Diabetes: Not so simple, Simon…
mm171: Maintain your brain
mm165: Junkfood Science: Obesity Paradox #13
mm152: Evidence of genetic response to diet
mm073: 22 ways to overclock your brain
mm012: Hazardous to your health

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mm386: Your Boomer brain: older just might be better

May 20, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

It’s definitely a trend: as we Boomers age, we find our contemporaries in publishing responding by exposing us to more and more research conducted by our contemporaries in medicine and science regarding the Boomers’ new topic A: Aging.

The oldest of us in the first cohort of that giant bulge in the demographic boa constrictor is 62 years of age in 2008, and for the first time eligible for reduced social security retirement benefits. Suddenly, that far off distant time, old age, is approaching with uncomfortable alacrity, and self-absorbed as we’ve always been, stories on elder health have become more frequent as they’ve become more germane.

Without hardly searching, we found three such stories regarding aging brains and how they work this month alone.

Brain story no. 1. Exercise!

nytimes

Exercise Your Brain, or Else You’ll … Uh …

Technology | By KATIE HAFNER | Published: May 3, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — When David Bunnell, a magazine publisher who lives in Berkeley, Calif., went to a FedEx store to send a package a few years ago, he suddenly drew a blank as he was filling out the forms.

“I couldn’t remember my address,” said Mr. Bunnell, 60, with a measure of horror in his voice. “I knew where I lived, and I knew how to get there, but I didn’t know what the address was.”

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mm363: "60 Minutes:" Dead wrong?

April 29, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

The ‘Sphere is full of fulminating amateurs. Take yr (justifiably) humble svt, for example. When it comes to blogging, amateur. Maybe a little talented. Maybe.

Then there are the well informed, insightful, professionals, with credentials and research chops, who could be writing anywhere, but, I’m guessing, have found in the blogosphere the editorial freedom that might be lacking in the constrained world of the mainstream media.

One such genius has been admired in this space many times.

Junkfood Science: Sandy Szwarc’s Genius

mm305: Google Health – 1984 for the 21st Century
mm276: Fat Tuesday…
mm197: Short attention span
mm177: Healthy eating — Overrated!
mm165: Junkfood Science: Obesity Paradox #13

This past weekend Ms. Szwarc took on the top of the respected television news pyramid: “60 Minutes.” Now, that’s a contradiction in terms if ever one was coined: respected television news. But, millions of people watch it, and have done so for 40 or more years.

And when “60 Minutes” recently presented a glowing report on gastric bypass surgery, Ms. Szwarc says that they left the realm of news far, far behind.

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mm357: Back inaction

April 24, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

So, for the first time in over a week, I find myself back in blogging mode. Before this day is done, I hope to post something more publicly relevant. But, this first one will be personal.

We had a great time in Los Angeles this past week. These are not tourist visits; rather, they are family catch-up stays. Our daughter and son-in-law, our two grandchildren and (heaven help us) our granddog moved to the San Fernando valley suburbs of L.A. four years ago, when our grandson was 3-1/2, and our granddaughter had just turned one. They had lived just a mile away.

Sigh.

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mm346: All together now: Ewwwwwwww!

April 13, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Encountered this at lunch last week; it became a formidable challenge to finish (the story / the lunch: pick one!). Consider yourself warned, faithful reader, should you be snacking on some luscious sweet or casserole while perusing this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

And remember, this comes not from some fringe or undocumented source, and also remember, April Fool’s day was some time ago.

bw_255x65

Surgery Without the Slicing

Going in through existing orifices is good for patients and device makers, less so for doctors and hospitals

by Catherine Arnst | Business Week Sci Tech April 3, 2008, 5:00PM EST

On Mar. 11 Jeff Scholz, a 42-year-old former U.S. Marine, developed severe abdominal pain. It wasn’t as bad as the gunshot wound to the leg he suffered while in the service, but it kept him doubled over for most of the night. At the insistence of his fiancée, he went to the emergency room at the University of California at San Diego med center the next morning, where he learned his appendix was inflamed and had to come out. That’s how Scholz, the owner of a wholesale clothing company, ended up making medical history. He’s the first patient in the U.S. to have his appendix removed through his mouth.

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mm325: I’m an Internet informed parent! I know better than my (and everyone’s) doctor!

March 22, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Pseudo-knowledge.

Often, it’s planted when one’s education consists of 13 years of test preparation rather than preparation for life. Not to speak of four additional years of outrageously costly, grade-inflated, higher (mainly in the beer and sex bingeing definition) education.

Pseudo-knowledge.

It’s cultivated by news and information delivered in 20-second sound bites (and their print and Internet equivalents) by “if it bleeds, it leads” 24-hour “news” outlets.

Pseudo-knowledge.

It’s manifestations are all around us. State school boards cheerfully replacing the teaching of evolution with a concoction spun by religious fanatics shined up and named “creation science.” The federal government gleefully banning stem-cell research on totally non-scientific grounds.

Pseudo-knowledge.

And it’s harvested when what you think you understand can hurt you, or worse, can kill your children, while most effectively endangering everyone else’s.

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mm323: Get medicine out of the hands of the payers, stat!

March 20, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

The dysfunction of the medical system in the U.S. is a cliché by now.

20% of the population uninsured, forced to use the trauma centers of hospitals as their first-aid clinics.

Doctors chased out of the business due to the impossible costs of malpractice insurance.

And most egregiously, the practice of medicine, until recently under the control of highly educated scientists, i.e., medical doctors whose guiding principle for more than two millennia has been “first, do no harm,” is now constrained by the U.S. health insurance industry whose guiding principle is “maximize return to the stockholders, come what may.”

In search of that return, insurers, who charge fortunes to individuals and their employers for the privilege of providing medical “care” at haggled piecework rates, continue to cheerfully leave millions of Americans uninsured while forcing practitioners to drive medical considerations financially, rather than medically.

So, what’s new? Not much, of course. The presidential candidates of both parties recognize that health insurance remains one of the hot buttons of this electoral season, although nobody has revealed a solution that makes complete medical, as well as financial sense. But all seem to recognize that business as usual, i.e., the business of excessively rewarding the executives and officers and stockholders of health insurers at the expense of un- or under-treated citizens must change.

And Exhibit No. 3,023,670 stands before us for your edification:

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