A recent observational study found that 85 percent of adults washed their hands in public restrooms -- significantly less than the 96 percent of adults who say they do.
Men do worse than women -- just 77 percent washed their hands, compared with 93 percent of women. However, both numbers are up -- the last time the survey was done, in 2007, only 66 percent of men washed, and 88 percent of women.
USA Today reports:
"The study ... involved discreetly observing 6,028 adults in public restrooms in August to see whether they washed their hands. Hand washing is important especially because ... many respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses are transmitted primarily by hand contact".Sources:
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Despite the headline, my comment will not dwell on the differences between sexes as I believe that to be a moot issue, but rather on hand washing in general.
Overall, the number of people who regularly wash their hands seem to have risen in the past couple of years, and that's great news, because washing your hands is your number one protection against the acquisition and spread of infectious disease.
It has been shown time and time again that washing your hands with soap and water can kill germs that cause:
- The common cold
- Hepatitis A
- Acute gastroenteritis
- Stomach infections such as salmonella, campylobacter and norovirus
- Other contagious illnesses and surgical wound complications, including MRSA
Unfortunately, despite the fact that simple hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections, it's still the most common violation in hospitals.
So, if you're in a health care setting, whether a hospital, health care center or nursing home, one way to proactively protect your health is to ask nurses and doctors to wash their hands before they touch you.
However, there are two important factors I'd like to remind you of in this article.
First, it's important to use proper hand washing technique, and second, using the right kind of soap.
Because contrary to popular belief, you do NOT want to use antibacterial soaps when washing your hands, and I'll discuss the many reasons why below.
Proper Hand Washing Technique
Good old-fashioned hand washing is one of the oldest and most powerful antibacterial treatments. Despite all our medical advancements and the introduction of microbial soaps and harsh disinfectants, plain soap and water still can't be beat.
To make sure you're actually removing the germs when you wash your hands, follow these guidelines:
- Use warm water
- Use a mild soap
- Work up a good lather, all the way up to your wrists, for at least 10 or 15 seconds
- Make sure you cover all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers, and around and below your fingernails
- Rinse thoroughly under running water
- In public places, use a paper towel to open the door as a protection from germs that the handles may harbor
It's also important to remember that your skin is actually your primary defense against bacteria -- not the soap. So resist the urge to become obsessive about washing your hands.
If you wash them too harshly, too frequently, you can actually extract many of the protective oils in your skin, which can cause your skin to crack and potentially even bleed.
This is completely counterproductive and only invites trouble.
While it's rare for a infectious agents on your skin to cause a problem (it is typically only an issue when you transfer that to your nose, mouth or an open wound like cracked skin), obsessive-compulsive washing can actually increase your risk of getting sick by providing an entryway for potentially dangerous pathogens through the cracked skin. This is especially true in the winter or in dry environments where humidity levels frequently drop below 10 percent.
So remember, mild to moderate washing is all you need.
Why You Do NOT Need Antibacterial Soap for Optimal Protection
This may be difficult to swallow for some people because of highly successful advertising, but you do not need anything other than plain, mild soap.
A massive market has been created based on the premise that germs must be eradicated and that they're hard to kill. Advertising has therefore convinced many that "clean" equals sterile. As a result, many believe that regular soap just isn't good enough--they need antibacterial soap. And antibacterial dish washing liquids, and disinfectant sprays and gels...
Unfortunately, none of these items are at all necessary. You're just paying for the privilege of having been brainwashed...
But it is important to understand that not only are antibacterial soaps not good, they actually make the problem worse by creating more resistant, hardy bacterial strains. Additionally, these chemicals are toxic exposures that your body must address.
Studies have shown that people who use antibacterial soaps and cleansers can often develop a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms just as often as people who use regular soaps.
Part of the reason for this is because most of these symptoms are actually caused by viruses, which antibacterial soaps can't kill.
But even for symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, which may be caused by bacteria, those who used regular soaps still had no greater risk than those who used antibacterial products.
So, antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary for the purpose of washing away bacteria.
But there's more.
They can actually cause far more harm than good by promoting the development of resistant bacteria.
Yes, many scientists now fear that the widespread use of antibacterial soaps and various disinfecting products may be contributing to the rise in "superbugs," bacteria that are resistant to modern medicines.
The antimicrobial triclosan, for example, is known to promote the growth of resistant bacteria.
Even the American Medical Association (AMA) does not recommend antibacterial soaps for this very reason.
Additionally, many traditional medical circles now accept the hygiene hypothesis, which centers on the idea that children NEED to be exposed to some bacteria in early childhood in order to strengthen their immune systems. Children who are not exposed to common bacteria (which are wiped out by antibacterial soap), may become more prone to allergies and asthma as they grow.
But aside from that, the active ingredient in many antibacterial products, such as triclosan, can be hazardous in and of itself as well.
The Health Hazards of Triclosan
Triclosan, an antibacterial compound that acts as the active ingredient in most antibacterial soap, not only kills bacteria, it also has been shown to kill human cells.
In addition, these products kill both bad AND good bacteria, which is another explanation for how they contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and potentially also to allergic diseases like asthma and hay fever.
Triclosan has also been shown to act as an endocrine disrupter.
The results from one 2006 study indicated that triclosan makes thyroid hormones much more potent, speeding up their impact. It may also make protein receptors more sensitive to thyroid hormones.
And there's more...
The Dangers of Triclosan and Triclocarban are Far-Reaching
I posted a report back in 2005 warning about the compounding danger of using triclosan-containing products with chlorinated tap water. You see, when triclosan is mixed with the chlorine in tap water, chloroform is formed.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified chloroform as a probable human carcinogen.
When conducting testing that closely mirrored typical dishwashing habits and conditions, researchers found that triclosan reacts with free chlorine to generate more than 50 parts per billion (ppb) of chloroform in your dishwater.
According to researchers, when combined with other disinfection byproducts (DBPs) the additional chloroform could easily drive the concentration of total trihalomethanes above the EPA's maximum allowable amount.
Moreover, as these antimicrobial chemicals flows down your drain, they further contaminate the environment, and become part of the food chain.
Researchers have determined that about 75 percent of another popular antimicrobial, triclocarban (TCC), resists water treatments meant to break it down and ends up in surface water and in municipal sludge used as fertilizer.
TCC is also known to cause cancer and reproductive problems.
Releasing antimicrobials into the environment in this manner is yet another way that antimicrobial soaps contribute to the increase in resistance of pathogens to clinical antibiotics.
Why Use Something that Has NO Clear Health Benefits and Plenty of Health Hazards?
The research clearly shows that you do not need antimicrobial soap to effectively protect yourself from germs. All you need is plain soap and warm water.
Studies have also found that soap and water work better than the waterless, alcohol-based hand wipes and rubs.
So please, avoid making the mistake of using antibacterial soaps and other products containing these hazardous ingredients.
Instead, just use a gentle, chemical-free soap that is safe for your whole family -- and the environment too. Local health food stores typically carry a variety of natural soaps that will do the trick.
We have been researching this for some time now and hopefully we will be able to provide a high quality safe and organic soap bar that you can use to keep yourself and your family clean.
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Why You Don't Want to Use Antibacterial Soap Anymore
The U.S. government plans to spend close to $2 billion in order to pay researchers and biotechnology companies to develop new drugs, vaccines and equipment to shorten the six- to nine-month time frame currently needed to make a flu vaccine.
U.S. health officials plan to persuade more Americans to get vaccinated against the flu this fall. The CDC is recommending flu vaccine for all Americans ages six months and older, except for people with egg allergies and some other conditions.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
"To meet anticipated demand, manufacturers are producing between 160 million and 165 million doses this year, more than ever before ... The CDC is accelerating development of two new tools to speed production of vaccine ...
One involves optimizing seed strains of virus used to make vaccine ... Another is a new method to determine the amount of antigen -- the ingredient that prompts an immune response -- in a vaccine vial."Sources:
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Of all the places $2 billion in government funds could be spent, using it to bring flu vaccines to market faster may be one of the most wasteful uses of that amount of money to date. One dramatic example is the flu shot, which has been proven ineffective time and time again, not to mention the myriad of side effects, some serious, that they cause every year.
If the U.S. government really wanted to make a dent in flu cases this fall and winter, they would put that money toward a massive public education campaign on the importance of optimizing your vitamin D levels.
Now that would be a strategy that would not only dramatically decrease the flu but also help save lives that are being lost prematurely from a completely preventable condition: vitamin D deficiency.
The government has once again pledged their allegiance to the vaccine makers, and will be supporting them full force this flu season, as they do every year.
What You Need to Know Before the Flu Shot Campaigns Begin .
This year the vaccine manufacturers are making up to 165 million doses of flu vaccine -- more than ever before. To use up this unprecedented supply, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging all Americans over 6 months to get vaccinated, unless they have an allergy to eggs or other limited conditions.
That's right. Every man, woman and child is expected to line up and roll up their sleeve for the flu shot . which this year contains a mix of three strains of flu -- H1N1 (swine flu), H3N2 (a new variant of seasonal flu) and influenza B.
This is important information to know, because if you had doubts about receiving the experimental swine flu shot last season, it is now being automatically dished out with every flu vaccine in the United States.
Already, Australia has banned this year's flu vaccine for children under the age of 5 due to an unusually high number of children suffering adverse effects such as vomiting, spiking a high fever, and convulsions.
Peter Collignon, professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University, has also gone on record stating that a recent clinical trial uncovered issues with the swine flu vaccine -- adverse effects that are identical to those suffered by the Australian children who reacted to the seasonal vaccine.
Sweden and Finland also recently sounded the alarm because young patients suddenly developed the sleeping disorder narcolepsy after being vaccinated with the H1N1 swine flu vaccine. France, Germany and Norway are now also tallying cases, and the EU has launched an investigation.
But children aren't the only group that seem to react more violently to the trivalent vaccine that contains the H1N1 component.
In the United States, a special government committee has been created to investigate last year's H1N1 monovalent vaccine for signs that it may be associated with a higher rate of certain kinds of reactions. What the committee found out provisionally is that there were three signs of trouble with the H1N1 swine flu vaccine used last year.
Barbara Loe Fisher, founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, explained:
"One was Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), which we know has been associated with influenza vaccine since 1976 when the first swine flu vaccine was used. There is [also] a sign of a blood disorder called thrombocytopenia. Thrombocytopenia is when your blood cannot produce enough platelets. It's an autoimmune type reaction.
The other is Bell's palsy. That's a facial paralysis. It's a neuroimmune reaction.
The government is saying they don't know if these are true signals or not, but there were some red flags that were raised."
Unfortunately, instead of using the $2 billion in funding for further testing to make sure the vaccine is safe considering blatant "red flags" have already been raised, the government is moving full-steam ahead with their plans for a three-in-one flu shot this season, and is even paying the drug companies to figure out how to bring it out even faster.
You've probably already seen the signs at your local drug store advertising they're here . and this is only the beginning.
All the Risk . for No Benefit?
You should know that anytime you receive a flu shot, you are taking a risk. In order to get the perceived benefit that you or your family is being protected from the flu (which is only a perception, as I'll explain below), you are being injected with numerous substances even above and beyond the three flu viruses -- substances with known risks to your health.
Toxic substances found in various flu vaccines include:
- Dangerous levels of mercury in the form of thimerosal, a deadly preservative that is 50 times more toxic than regular mercury
- Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
- Formaldehyde - a known cancer-causing agent
- Neomycin and streptomycin (antibiotics)
- Aluminum -- a neurotoxin linked to Alzheimer's disease
- Polysorbate 80 (Tween80T) - which can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis
- Phenol (carbolic acid)
- Resin and gelatin - known to cause allergic reactions
- Triton X100 (detergent)
So every year that you get a flu shot, you are taking a risk that one or more of these substances, or the flu viruses themselves, will cause a problem in your body.
The payoff you get for taking this risk?
Well, the pharmaceutical industry would love for you to believe that the flu vaccine is going to somehow magically protect you from dying from the flu.
But in fact the evidence couldn't be clearer -- the flu vaccine doesn't work at all in the elderly, and the data is flimsy at best when it comes to children and adults. In other words, you're taking all the risk for little to no benefit.
For instance, one recent review looked at the effectiveness of immunizing nursing-home workers to protect the elderly in their care. After reviewing five studies conducted between 1997 and 2009, the results show the vaccination campaigns had NO EFFECT on the number of confirmed influenza cases.
The researchers also concluded that vaccinating staff has no proven impact on reducing the number of related pneumonia cases, or pneumonia-linked deaths -- which, by the way, accounts for the vast majority of what the CDC counts as "flu deaths."
"What troubled us is that [shots] had no effect on laboratory-confirmed influenza.
What we were looking for is proof that influenza ... is decreased. Didn't find it.
We looked for proof that pneumonia is reduced. Didn't find it.
We looked for proof deaths from pneumonia are reduced. Didn't find it."
This is only one example of many. Study after study continue to show that flu vaccines are virtually useless for preventing illness and mortality from the flu, and you can read about five more such examples here.
Let's Get Real: Here's What You Really Need to Do to Prevent the Flu
There is a massive attempt to defraud and deceive people to generate profits from flu vaccines, and the U.S. government is helping to fund and promote this system.
Fortunately, we are able to penetrate this veil of misinformation, as we did so effectively last year during the swine flu campaign. Last year the United States contracted for the manufacture of over 170 million doses of swine flu vaccine. Probably the most significant accomplishment of this Web site was that we were able to contribute to the fact that only 90 million doses were used in the United States.
This year, we want to start early by warning people about the new plan ... and the safer alternative . so the number of people exposed to potentially harmful and useless flu vaccines drops even lower.
I urge you to take your time and really make an informed decision before you rush to get this year's flu shot for yourself or your family, and while you're at it, tune in to the latest studies on vitamin D, which are strengthening the evidence that it is a potent preventive measure against colds and influenza.
There is so much compelling evidence that I believe optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, including the flu.
As one recent study showed, a group of children taking vitamin D3 was 58 percent less likely to catch influenza A. That's a higher effectiveness than any flu vaccine can claim, and doesn't come with a barrage of potentially devastating side effects!
Most children, teens, adults and elderly in the United States are vitamin D deficient, especially during the winter months when sun exposure is at a minimum for many. So I urge you to get your and your children's vitamin D levels tested, and if found deficient, follow my recommendations for optimizing your levels.
Do this, and you'll all be far less likely to catch any cold or flu this year.
So let's get the word out. Ditch the flu vaccine and optimize vitamin D instead.
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Dr. Gabor Forgacs is one of the leading experts in the world in the area of what is now called "organ printing," where aggregates of cells for a particular organ are delivered with an ordinary (but modified) inkjet printer onto biological scaffolding gels (the "paper").
Dr. Forgacs is a biophysicist with degrees in biology as well as advanced physics and is currently heading up a biophysics lab called Forgacslab at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His research focuses on the physical mechanisms in cellular and developmental biology.
He wrote a book with Stuart A. Newman titled The Biological Physics of the Developing Embryo in 2005, which is the first of its kind to bridge the gap between developmental biology and physics.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
The number of people in need of organ transplants continues to rise faster than the number of available donors, and as a result, 19 people die every day due to the shortage.
As of February 10, 2010, there were over 105,600 people waiting for an organ donation in the United States. However, from January to November 2009, just over 26,000 organ transplants took place.
So it would be nothing short of miraculous if we could one day replace virtually every organ or tissue in patients' bodies with young pristine organs, as they age or become diseased or injured.
Recently, steps toward achieving this goal have advanced greatly, thanks in part to the amazing work pioneered by Dr. Gabor Forgacs.
"Beam Me a New Lung, Scottie"
Printing tissues and organs may seem like science fiction, but it really isn't anymore.
Ordinary inkjet printers are now being modified to deposit biological material, including human cells, in a controlled and efficient manner.
Dr. Forgacs hopes to be able to use his organ printer to eventually build full-sized, fully functional organs that can be surgically implanted in your body. These organs might not look anything like the ones you have now, but they will perform the same functions.
Of course, fully functional laboratory-grown hearts and livers are a future possibility, but that level of complexity is out of reach, for now.
Forgacs' current focus is on tubular constructs that can be used to replace blood vessels. The rational for this is, every organ and tissue must have vascularization to survive, so this is a crucial step before more complex tissues can be created.
The tubular constructs can also be used for hemodialysis and peripheral bypass surgery, and will eventually be used in coronary bypass surgery once standards of safety are met.
Building a Better Blood Vessel
A blood vessel may not seem like a highly complex organ, but it actually involves growing three different types of cells in a multi-phased process:
- A biopsy is taken from the patient. Ordinary skin cells are used to provide the basis for the fibroblastic layer (the outer layer of the vessel). Other cells that must be obtained are endothelial cells from the innermost part of the patient's blood vessel, and smooth muscle cells, which provide elasticity.
- The various cells are then grown in Petri dishes, and they create their own extracellular matrix. This matrix is an important component of every organ, making up the frame of the organ to which the other cells attach.
- The sheet of cells is then wrapped around a Teflon tube. The cells don't attach to the tube, but knit together around it, after which they can slide the Teflon tube out, leaving a tubular vessel.
Alternately, some companies choose to use the patient's cells along with an artificial scaffold material, providing a synthetic extracellular matrix, instead of waiting for the cells to make their own matrix. However, this procedure has yielded less than spectacular results, apart from a few successes.
Printing Out New Nerves
One of the applications of blood vessel-type structures is nerve grafts, which Dr. Forgac's lab is working on.
When you have a serious enough accident to sever a major nerve -- in a limb for example -- a laboratory-grown tube of cells can act as a bridge between the distal and proximal ends of the damaged nerve.
The human body can spontaneously regenerate gaps of 1 to 3 centimeters without any intervention, given time. However, beyond 3 centimeters, the two ends of the nerve cannot "find each other" to reconnect. A nerve bridge can help with this, and the tissues used to create the nerve bridge can be "printed" on an organ printer.
The printing process is very versatile.
Dr. Forgac has this technology up and running now, and it is just a matter of time before his team will be building sheaths of cardiac or brain tissue that can be used as patches for victims of heart attack and stroke.
Tissuing in a New Age
Eventually, as scientists master the engineering of human tissues, they will be able to build an entire kidney, or a new pancreas with islets of Langerhans-type cells that will be able to make insulin for type 1 diabetics -- making insulin pumps a thing of the past.
One huge advantage of building organs in the lab from your own cells is the lack of tissue rejection. Currently, patients who receive organ transplants are usually tethered to a lifetime of strong anti-rejection medications that have damaging side effects of their own.
But the science isn't quite there yet.
Tissue engineering is so complex that companies are focusing on one type of tissue at a time so that they can get to the point of offering a saleable product that can sustain them financially. There are about 22 tissues and organ structures in the pipelines to date. Fortunately, there is a good deal of funding available right now for this kind of research.
Two of the most impressive recent success stories are the construction and implanting of a new trachea in one patient, and a new bladder in another.
In 2009, a team of Spanish and British researchers built a tracheal segment for a young woman who had problems breathing. The tracheal segment they built was truly a marvel of bioengineering.
They began with the trachea of a cadaver, "shaking off" the cells from the extracellular matrix. Then they used the bare matrix as a frame and populated it with stem cells from the patient so that there would be no tissue rejection. It was a real breakthrough in the sense that biological material was used from two sources and put together to make a final product.
When they inserted this new tracheal segment into the woman's respiratory tract, it was a huge success, and she is breathing normally to this day.
Anthony Atala, one of the world's leading tissue engineers, successfully built and implanted a bladder into a woman whose bladder was unable to function properly. This is the most complex organ that has been "grown" in a lab and transferred into a patient, to date.
Atala's company, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is also in the process of engineering a human ear.
Your Body as Bioreactor
A bioreactor is a gizmo into which you put your engineered tissue to mature, to grow into whatever form you are targeting. The bioreactor has to mimic the physiological conditions of the human body.
Machines have been developed as bioreactors. But the best bioreactor is the human body itself!
The Belgian group who built the tracheal segment did just this. They built the trachea in the lab and implanted it into the patient's hand so that it could vascularize in the patient's own blood supply, using her body as the bioreactor. Then once vascularized, the tracheal segment was moved into its final place -- into the damaged trachea itself.
This was a monumental bioengineering feat!
Organ Replacement Has Its Limits - The Ultimate Goal is Organ Regeneration
According to the anti-aging experts, it is unlikely we are going to be able to significantly slow down the aging process (barring some unforeseen breakthroughs). So, scientists are aiming their research toward enhancing the body's ability for tissue and organ regeneration.
According to Dr. Forgacs, tissue engineering is really turning more toward "regenerative engineering" or "regenerative medicine," since it is unlikely they will ever be able to grow complex organs, like a heart, in the lab and just put it into you.
They are trying to understand and capitalize on your body's own regenerative abilities.
Your body already has an amazing ability to regenerate. The following are just a few examples:
- Skin wounds and broken bones generally heal well spontaneously.
- Some organs show regenerative ability, such as your liver, which can regenerate itself even if more than 75 to 90 percent of it is removed.
- One man has been able to regenerate his severed fingertip. Surgeons applied a special extracellular matrix powder -- a mixture of protein and connective tissue used to repair tendons-which signaled his body to start the process of tissue regrowth. In just four weeks, the man's fingertip grew back completely.
Right now, scientists can implant special smart biomaterials, like this matrix, to encourage your body's tissues rebuild themselves, but this only works for small areas -- typically 1 centimeter or less. Technological advances will make it possible to not only replace entire organs, but to repair much larger areas.
And these advances are being made at increasingly impressive rates -- revealing possibilities that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago.
It's very possible that 10 years from now, you will have the option of receiving a laboratory grown kidney that is capable of filtering waste from your body, completely free of the risk for rejection.
It seems that you and your children will be receiving an extension on the limited "organ warranties" you were born with, thanks to the pioneering work of bioengineers like Gabor Forgacs.
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A new survey found that nearly one in six patients believed their physician had made a wrong diagnosis or a treatment error. Roughly one in seven had changed doctors as a result.
In some cases, the doctor had not actually done anything wrong. But other cases suggested true errors -- one woman said her doctor had wanted to remove her breast due to a swollen lymph node, but it turned out to be the result of a bacterial infection.
"Indeed, U.S. data published in 1991 suggested as many as 98,000 deaths per year might be due to medical errors. In the new survey, based on almost 1,700 patients at seven clinics, eight percent said they had experienced 'a lot' or 'severe' harm from the perceived mistake in care."Sources:
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
I posted this article not to point out that individual doctors are making errors--this is only a small part of a much bigger problem. Rather, this is a reminder that the entire modern health care system is responsible for promoting unnecessary tests, dangerous drugs, and questionable medical procedures.
The end result can be horrifyingly problematic. So there really aren't any surprises here.
The only surprise is that so many people are still holding on to the idea that the conventional paradigm can help them get well and stay healthy. It shows that if nothing else, human beings are not short on faith, despite proof of insurmountable odds. And that is actually encouraging!
This diligent faith just needs to be redirected toward safer and more effective strategies... Facilitating this change is, and will continue to be, a substantial part of my vision.
One in Six Patients Believe Their Doctor Made a Mistake in Their Treatment
According to this latest survey, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, nearly 16 percent of patients queried in North Carolina believed that their physician had made a mistake.
Just over 13 percent reported they'd received an incorrect diagnosis, and 12.5 percent said they'd received the wrong treatment.
As a result, one in seven patients had opted to change physicians.
Granted, trust between doctor and patient is important, but to what extent you can improve your odds of not being misdiagnosed or mis-treated, simply by trading doctors, is debatable.
The frequency of medical mistakes is just so high and many of the conventional tests, drugs and treatments so dangerous in and of themselves, that simply finding a doctor you trust may not be enough to protect you from undue harm.
The entire paradigm of conventional medicine is flawed. It's not really the fault of particular individuals. Finding a doctor that isn't trapped within this paradigm requires effort on your part.
Medical Errors and Prescription Drugs are the Leading Cause of Death in US!
Ten years ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in the US.
More recently, Johns Hopkins Medical School refined this research and discovered that medical errors and prescription drugs together may actually be the LEADING cause of death.
Think about this... the primary form of "health care" and treatment actually kills more people than any disease plaguing our society... Sobering, isn't it?
Back in 2004, a national survey sent to head and neck surgeons revealed that 45 percent of specialists had committed medical errors in their practice in the preceding six months, affecting both pediatric and adult patients. Of those errors, 37 percent had caused "major injury or harm," and 4 percent were fatal.
More recently, a study investigating the prevalence of preventable medical mistakes found that between 2006 and 2008, there were nearly 1 million incidents among Medicare patients alone, and 1 in 10 were deadly.
In dollars and cents, these medical mistakes cost the health care system $8.9 billion.
Is Your Health Safe in the Hands of the U.S. Medical Care System?
The obvious answer is, no.
The U.S. health system is in a downward spiral with no indications of slowing down or reversing. I've been warning people about this tragic state of affairs for more than two decades.
Every measurable index indicates that despite the ever-increasing amounts of money invested, your chances of achieving optimal health through this system is only getting worse.
The U.S. now ranks LAST out of 19 countries for unnecessary deaths -- deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective medical care.
For example, more than 2 million Americans are now affected by hospital-acquired infections every year, and 100,000 people die as a result.
In essence, what we have here is a trend of health care costs rising, mistakes increasing, and pharmaceutical drug-induced side effects and deaths skyrocketing.
Need to Go to a Hospital? Do Your Homework .
In the event that you must go to a hospital, you should know that all are not created equal. Granted, if you're in a serious accident you may not have much of a choice, but you certainly have options if you're going in for planned surgery.
You can find patient-safety ratings at hospitals across the United States from the HealthGrades Web site. Their 2010 HealthGrades report found major discrepancies between the hospitals at the top of the list and those at the bottom.
The hospitals ranked among the top five percent experienced an impressive 43 percent fewer medical errors, compared to the hospitals that performed poorly.
It's also worth noting that deaths attributed to medication errors rise by as much as 25 percent above normal in the first few days of every month, because there often isn't enough staff to handle the beginning-of-the-month spike in prescriptions.
Being admitted on a Friday has also been linked to longer hospital stays, so if you can time your stay to avoid these periods, you may be better off.
You CAN Avoid Becoming a Statistic!
This article will hopefully serve as yet another major wake-up call to take control of your own health.
Making sure your doctor listens to you and provides comforting and accurate care is a good start, but it's not going to be the complete answer you're looking for, unless you find a holistically-minded physician who can teach you how to achieve and maintain good health rather than throwing one band-aid after the other your way.
Please know that you CAN take control of your health. In fact, it's not only your right, but your responsibility.
My site is chockfull of free comprehensive recommendations and can serve as an excellent starting point. The tools I provide on this site will help you to reduce your reliance on the broken health care system.
The guidelines that follow are more basic strategies to live by; strategies that will boost your health and well-being naturally to keep you OUT of the hospital and enjoying life!
- Address your emotional traumas and manage your stress
- Optimize your vitamin D levels
- Drink plenty of clean water
- Limit your exposure to toxins
- Consume healthy fats
- Eat a healthy diet that's right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down)
- Eat plenty of raw food
- Optimize your insulin and leptin levels
- Exercise - I also encourage you to incorporate Peak 8 exercises to really maximize your health benefits
- Get plenty of good sleep
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Following a Lancet Infectious Diseases report of the spread of a new drug-resistant superbug spreading from south Asia, news agencies have reported "panic" over the germs' possible consequences.
Writing in the Guardian, for example, editor and columnist Sarah Boseley said:
"The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out."
The effectiveness of antibiotics depends on how antibiotics are used - how well drug use is managed in clinical practice and outside of it. But some 70 percent of American antibiotics - tens of millions of pounds of drugs each year - is used in animal feed.
According to Time Magazine:
"The European Union banned routine use of antibiotics in animal feed years ago because of evidence about its drug-resistance consequences for humans. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is recommending the same for the U.S. as well, for the same reason. But for now the practice continues."Sources:
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Antibiotic-resistant diseases have grown exponentially in recent years -- a direct result of the vast overuse of antibiotics in both the medical system and conventional livestock farming.
Antibiotic-resistant infections now claim more lives each year than the "modern plague" of AIDS, and cost the American health care system some $20 billion a year! According to a study published in October, 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there were close to 100,000 cases of invasive MRSA infections in the United States in 2005, which lead to more than 18,600 deaths. Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS killed 17,000 people that same year...
In essence, in the war of antibiotics versus bacteria, the bacteria are clearly winning -- and this is a frightening prospect. As much as I stress that antibiotic use needs to be minimized, this is one class of drugs that I would not want to fall off the radar.
When used properly, in the correct contexts and with responsibility, antibiotics can and do save lives that are threatened by bacterial infections. But they will only remain effective if urgent changes are made to curb the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and disease . and this will only happen with a serious reduction in their use now.
A Growing Number of Dangerous Bacteria are Impervious to Antibiotics
Why are some news agencies spreading "panic" that the end of antibiotics is here?
Because they literally are becoming increasingly ineffective with each passing day.
Here is a list of various bacteria that are already resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics:
- Acinetobacter: A bacteria found in soil and water that often causes infections in seriously ill hospital patients.
- Anthrax: Spread by infected animals or potentially bioterrorist weapons.
- Gonorrhea: A sexually transmitted disease.
- Group B streptococcus: A common bacteria in newborns, the elderly and adults with other illnesses.
- Klebsiella pneumonia: A bacteria that can lead to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound and surgical site infections and meningitis.
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): A superbug that can be so difficult to treat, it can easily progress from a superficial skin infection to a life-threatening infection in your bones, joints, bloodstream, heart valves, lungs, or surgical wounds.
- Neisseria meningitides: One of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in children and young adults.
- Shigella: An infectious disease caused by Shigella bacteria.
- Streptococcus pneumoniae: A leading cause of pneumonia, bacteremia, sinusitis, and acute otitis media (AOM).
- Tuberculosis (TB): Both "multi-drug resistant" and "extensively drug-resistant" forms of TB are now being seen.
- Typhoid fever: A life-threatening illness caused by the Salmonella Typhi bacteria.
- Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE): Infection with the enteroccocci bacteria that often occurs in hospitals and is resistant to vancomycin, an antibiotic.
- Vancomycin-Intermediate/Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VISA/VRSA): Various strains of staph bacteria that are resistant to vancomycin.
You can see from this list that antibiotic resistance is not isolated to a few obscure bacteria. It is a very real, and growing, problem.
What is Spurring the Rise in Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs?
It's easy to think that one more round of antibiotics won't hurt. In fact, many believe it's absolutely necessary for nearly all infections. But the knee-jerk decision to ask your doctor for antibiotics for every minor infection, cold or cough adds to the toll these drugs exact on public health, and it's a significant one.
Further, according to one meta-analysis, the health risk from over-use of antibiotics is also a very personal one, as opposed to simply raising the occurrence of antibiotic resistance in the general population over time.
Whenever you use an antibiotic, you're increasing your susceptibility to developing infections with resistance to that antibiotic -- and you can become the carrier of this resistant bug, and spread it to others.
Naturally, this issue needs to be addressed on a large scale by doctors and hospitals addressing their prescribing practices, but I urge you to also take personal responsibility and evaluate your own use of antibiotics, and avoid taking them -- or giving them to your children -- unless absolutely necessary.
An Even Bigger Threat may be in Your Diet
Even if you haven't taken an antibiotic in 20 years, you could still be exposed to these drugs.
In the foods you eat.
Agricultural antibiotic uses account for about 70 percent of all antibiotic use in the United States, so it's a MAJOR source of human antibiotic consumption.
Animals receiving antibiotics in their feed gain 4 percent to 5 percent more body weight than animals that do not receive antibiotics, but the price is high for you, the end consumer, because this practice also creates the perfect conditions for antibiotic resistance to flourish.
In fact, both MRSA and ESBL (enzymes produced by certain types of bacteria that render the bacteria resistant to antibiotics) are being traced back to animals raised for food production, especially pigs.
Another heavily tainted meat product you should stay away from is conventionally raised chicken.
Mounting evidence suggests the poultry industry's use of antibiotics induces antibiotic resistance among food-borne bacteria that prey on humans. One such antibiotic-resistant strain is Campylobacter, a pathogen common to chicken products.
Conventional factory farm raised chicken products are actually up to 460 times more likely to carry antibiotic-resistant strains than organic, chicken products, which are antibiotic-free.
So, please, understand that any time I discuss meat consumption, it is with the explicit understanding that I only recommend humanely raised, organically farmed livestock that have roamed free, feeding on their natural food source, without any use of the antibiotics and other growth-promoting drugs typically used in conventional farming.
Most often you will be able to find this type of healthier meat from a local farmer, farmer's market, or CSA program.
But, the ramifications of using antibiotics in agriculture don't end with your meat choices.
Antibiotics also filter down through the food chain in unsuspected ways. Studies have shown, for instance, that food crops like lettuce and potatoes will accumulate antibiotics from soil covered with antibiotic-containing manure.
This also has implications for those of you who are trying to avoid antibiotics by buying organic, as organic farmers are allowed to use manure from factory farms, which will invariably contain antibiotics. Your best bet is to talk to your local organic farmer and find out where he gets his manure from. Ideally, he would use manure from organically-raised livestock.
Can YOU Help Stop Antibiotic Resistance?
You can help yourself and your community by only purchasing antibiotic-free meats and other foods, and using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. This is an important step that I urge everyone to take, even though ultimately the problem of antibiotic-resistance needs to be stemmed on a nationwide level.
Denmark, for example, stopped the widespread use of antibiotics in their pork industry 12 years ago. After they implemented the ban on antibiotics, a Danish study confirmed that it had drastically reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals and food.
The European Union also banned the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed over concerns of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In the United States, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only got around to making this recommendation a couple of months ago.
The FDA has just recommended that livestock farmers no longer use antibiotics routinely for growth promotion and limit their use to disease prevention only. This would be a very positive first step . but before a final guideline is made, the FDA is awaiting comments from livestock producers, drug makers and others in the industry.
You can expect there will be a lot of kicking and screaming in vehement opposition. After all, antibiotics for livestock use are big business; remember, it constitutes about 70 percent of ALL antibiotic use in the US!
They couldn't replace that market with human consumers even if they tried, so while I remain optimistic that one day the U.S. will ban this extremely dangerous overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, I expect it will be a long and bumpy road in the process.
For this reason, it's up to each and every one of us to do our part to be a force for change. You take a stand against antibiotic overuse every time you avoid using an antibiotic for a minor infection, and every time you opt to buy antibiotic-free, organically raised meat.
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