Abbott Laboratories is taking its weight loss drug Meridia (sibutramine) off the market, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The company voluntarily withdrew the drug in the wake of findings showing an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in people who used the drug. Meridia is taken by about 8 million people worldwide.
According to Paging Dr. Gupta:
"Approved in 1997 for weight loss, the original data on the drug showed that people who took Meridia lost at least 5 percent more of their body weight ...
The FDA requested the company withdraw the drug after reviewing data from a follow-up study known as the Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial (SCOUT ). It showed there was a 16 percent increase in the risk of serious heart events."Sources:
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Meridia has shown danger signs since it was approved in 1997 and now more than a decade later will finally be taken off the market. This is yet another example of an "FDA-approved" medication that was causing far more harm to Americans than good . and another reason to seriously reconsider taking drugs for weight loss.
Warning Signs for Meridia Were There from the Start
Meridia's heart risks were known from the beginning; when it was approved it carried a warning on its label stating that the drug should not be used in people with a history of heart disease, heart failure, heart-rhythm problems or stroke.
The drug, which suppresses your appetite by altering levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, is also widely known to raise blood pressure and heart rate, and an FDA advisory panel recommended against its approval in 1996 for this very reason.
Public Citizen later petitioned the FDA to ban the drug in 2002, alleging that it was responsible for causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of adverse patient reactions since it came to market.
In 2005, the FDA again considered placing stricter warnings on the drug, and in January 2010 finally asked Abbott, the drug's maker, to strengthen the warning following review of preliminary data from the SCOUT study.
The SCOUT study, which ultimately lead the FDA to request the drug be removed from the market entirely, found a 28 percent increased risk of heart attack and a 36 percent increased risk of stroke in patients taking Meridia compared to placebo.
Those are steep risks for a drug that only leads to an average weight loss of 9.5 pounds a year -- hardly worth risking a fatal heart attack or stroke over.
What are You Willing to Risk to Lose Weight?
Obesity carries with it serious health risks, including cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and with rates increasing steadily it is a condition that needs to be taken seriously.
However, risking your life to lose less than 10 pounds is not a risk that any rational person should take.
Weight gain is obviously influenced by many factors, but the two that everyone keeps coming back to -- diet and exercise -- are still the primary ones you should keep in your mind. Combine a healthy diet with exercise -- and be sure you are addressing the emotional component of food, eating and weight gain -- and most people WILL lose weight.
Specifically, this includes:
- Tailoring your diet to your nutritional type.
- Viewing exercise as a drug and incorporating a variety of exercise types, including Peak Fitness, which can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities in a fraction of the time.
- Letting go of your emotional blocks to overcome emotional eating and food cravings.
It would be wonderful if there were a "quick-fix" solution to obesity, but there is not. And any pill or surgery that claims to offer you one will not only be ineffective but may put your health in jeopardy.
Mark my words; Meridia will not be the last weight loss drug to be pulled from the market over health concerns. Already, it's been revealed that the over-the-counter weight loss drug Alli may increase cancer risks like its prescription cousin Xenical, again with only modest weight loss benefits, but both are still currently on the market.
You CAN Lose Weight Without Drugs
There is no magic pill for weight loss, but when you start paying close attention to what you're eating drastic beneficial changes can take place rather quickly. You will want to pay very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down, primarily by avoiding fructose as much as possible.
Keep in mind, too, that even if you were to take a drug for weight loss, they all still require that you make dietary and exercise changes. The pill will be useless without them!
Even weight loss surgeries have these requirements, as many centers will require that you exercise after the surgery, and prior to the surgery that you stop smoking, drinking soda and eating fast food. Many will even require you to lose weight prior to the surgery!
The Right Type of Exercise is the KEY
It is also simply impossible to optimize your health and weight without regular exercise, and as I said above you can dramatically reduce your workout time and maximize your weight loss by using Peak Fitness.
The beautiful aspect of Peak Fitness is that it takes a FRACTION of the time your normal cardio program does. It is only 20 minutes. What has been amazing me is that since I introduced this approach in May I have had no less than 10 people either tell me personally at lectures I give, or write on the website, that using the program has caused them to lose 30 pounds or more.
The really odd factor here is that I NEVER promoted it for weight loss, just health.
The other surprising element is that I have been recommending people exercise for decades, but the exercises were primarily based on flawed aerobic cardio principles. In those years I don't recall anyone ever tell me directly that they had used an exercise program I recommended to lose large amounts of weight in a short period of time.
The Peak 8 program truly is extraordinary. Not only will it help you lose fat but it will also help you gain muscle by increasing your growth hormone levels.
Yes it is hard and requires mental tenacity to get through the 20 minutes, but the results are more than worth it -- and you will really feel great about what you did.
So there is really no way around it if you are serious about losing weight -- diet and exercise are key. The good news is, though, that when you address weight loss through a healthy lifestyle the only "side effects" you'll have to worry about are good ones, like increased energy, better sleep and a boost to your self-esteem . no heart attacks, no strokes and no other atrocious risks required.
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CNN lists 10 things about sound and health that you probably didn't know:
- You are a chord. Matter is vibrating energy, which means that you're a collection of vibrations, also known as a chord.
- You are healthy when that chord is in complete harmony. Socrates said that: "Rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful."
- You see one octave; you hear ten. An octave is a doubling of frequency, and the visual spectrum only goes from 400-790 THz, which is just under one octave. Humans with good hearing can hear ten times that number!
For the other seven fascinating facts about sound and health, you can click on the link below.
Keeping Your Ears Safe From the iPod
Losing Your Hearing? Here's How to Restore Your Hearing Naturally
Dr. Rudi Moerck is a drug industry insider and an expert on fats and oils.
In this interview, Dr. Moerck discusses the ins-and-outs of cooking oils; the good, the bad and the ones to avoid like the plague.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
A common question that many people have is whether or not food should be eaten uncooked. I personally believe that consuming a majority of your food uncooked is a cornerstone of optimal health.
Typically, the less processed and heat-treated the food is, the more nutritious and healthier it is going to be.
Nevertheless, most people prefer to cook their food, at least occasionally. When you do, you're going to cook with some form of oil.
The question is, what's the best, healthiest type of oil to use when cooking?
Dr. Rudi Moerck has studied oils for a long time, and offers some intriguing insights in this interview.
Cooking with Tropical Oils - Your Healthiest Alternative
I have, for many years now, recommended coconut oil on the basis and the supposition that it doesn't contain much unsaturated fat. As a result, it's not going to be damaged by heat and create trans fats like some other oils. (Another tropical oil that is very similar is palm oil.)
Dr. Moerck agrees, saying:
"I would say that coconut oil is okay to cook with. It's a saturated fat. Your body will burn it as fuel or it will get rid of it some other way. It won't store it in your body.. So from that point of view, if you're going to use oil then that's a good one to use."
Interestingly, unlike carbohydrates, which can also deliver quick energy to your body, coconut oil does this without producing an insulin spike. Yes, it acts like a carbohydrate, but without any of the debilitating insulin-related effects associated with long-term high carbohydrate consumption.
But that's merely the beginning.
Earlier this week I published an entire special report on the health benefits of coconut oil, which include:
- Promoting heart health
- Promoting weight loss, when needed
- Supporting your immune system health
- Supporting a healthy metabolism
- Providing you with an immediate energy source
- Keeping your skin healthy and youthful looking
- Supporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland
Part of what makes coconut oil such a healthful oil for cooking is that 50 percent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. This is also one of the features that distinguishes coconut oil from other saturated fats.
Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.
In addition, coconut oil is about 2/3 medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. These types of fatty acids also produce a host of health benefits.
Best of all, coconut oil is stable enough to resist heat-induced damage, which you cannot say for other oils. In fact, it's so stable you can even use if for frying (although I don't recommend frying your food for a number of health reasons).
I recommend using coconut oil in lieu of every other oil, whether your recipe calls for butter, olive oil, vegetable oil or margarine.
Important, New Information about Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is a good monounsaturated fat that is also well-known for its health benefits. It's a staple in healthful diets such as Mediterranean-style diets.
However, it's important to realize it is NOT good for cooking. It should really only be used cold, typically drizzled on salads and other food.
Due to its chemical structure and a large amount of unsaturated fats, cooking makes extra-virgin olive oil very susceptible to oxidative damage. However, during this interview I learned that extra-virgin olive oil has a significant draw-back even when used cold - it's still extremely perishable!
As it turns out, extra-virgin olive oil contains chlorophyll that accelerates decomposition and makes the oil go rancid rather quickly.
In fact, Dr. Moerck actually prefers using almost tasteless, semi-refined olive oil rather than extra-virgin olive oil for this reason.
If you're like most people, you're probably leaving your bottle of olive oil right on the counter, opening and closing it multiple times a week. Remember, any time the oil is exposed to air and/or light, it oxidizes, and as it turns out, the chlorophyll in extra virgin olive oil accelerates the oxidation of the unsaturated fats.
Clearly, consuming spoiled oil (of any kind) will likely do more harm than good.
To protect the oil, Dr. Moerck recommends treating it with the same care as you would other sensitive omega-3 oils:
- Keep in a cool, dark place
- Purchase smaller bottles rather than larger to ensure freshness
- Immediately replace the cap after each pour
To help protect extra virgin olive oil from oxidation, Dr. Moerck suggests putting one drop of astaxanthin into the bottle. You can purchase astaxanthin, which is an extremely potent antioxidant, in soft gel capsules. Just prick it with a pin and squeeze the capsule into the oil.
The beautiful thing about using astaxanthin instead of another antioxidant such as vitamin E, is that it is naturally red, whereas vitamin E is colorless, so you can tell the oil still has astaxanthin in it by its color.
As the olive oil starts to pale in color, you know it's time to throw it away.
You can also use one drop of lutein in your olive oil. Lutein imparts an orange color and will also protect against oxidation. Again, once the orange color fades, your oil is no longer protected against rancidity and should be tossed.
This method is yet another reason for buying SMALL bottles. If you have a large bottle, you may be tempted to keep it even though it has begun to oxidize.
The Worst Cooking Oils of All
Polyunsaturated fats are the absolute WORST oils to use when cooking because these omega-6-rich oils are highly susceptible to heat damage.
This category includes common vegetable oils such as:
Damaged omega-6 fats are disastrous to your health, and are responsible for far more health problems than saturated fats ever were.
Trans fat is the artery-clogging, highly damaged omega-6 polyunsaturated fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening.
I strongly recommend never using margarine or shortening when cooking. I guarantee you you're already getting far too much of this damaging fat if you consume any kind of processed foods, whether it be potato chips, pre-made cookies, or microwave dinners...
Trans fat is the most consumed type of fat in the US, despite the fact that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.
Trans fat raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while lowering your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you want. In fact, trans fats -- as opposed to saturated fats -- have been repeatedly linked to heart disease. They can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.
Personally I don't cook very much but when I do I use our Pure Virgin Coconut Oil as it is the most resistant to heating damage, but also a great source of medium chained triglycerides and lauric acid.
So, cleaning these oils out of your kitchen cupboard is definitely recommended if you value your health.
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Trans-Fats Can be Deadly
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a disease which causes honeybees to become disoriented and die far from their hives, has kept scientists desperately seeking for the cause.
And no wonder, since honeybees contribute $15 billion in annual agriculture revenue to the U.S. economy alone.
One suggested culprit has been pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, which kill insects by attacking their nervous systems. Their leading manufacturer, Bayer Crop Science, has been fending off lawsuits from angry beekeepers for years now. But recently, a front-page New York Times article pointed to another solution.
Running under the headline "Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery," the article reports that a new study claims the cause is actually "a fungus tag-teaming with a virus."
However, one fact that the Times article did not mention is the relationship between the study's lead author, Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, and Bayer Crop Science. Bromenshenk has received a significant research grant from Bayer -- and failed to disclose the conflict of interest to the Times.
"The Times reporter who authored the recent article, Kirk Johnson, responded in an e-mail that Dr. Bromenshenk 'did not volunteer his funding sources.' ... Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the health group at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says that while the Bromenshenk/Army study is interesting, it fails to ask the underlying question 'Why are colonies dying?'"Sources:
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
In the last four years, up to 40 percent of U.S. bee colonies have been destroyed at the hands of "colony collapse disorder," (CCD) a mysterious malady that causes bees to become disoriented, not return to their hives, and ultimately die.
There is currently a grueling debate over what may be causing CCD, and there are more theories than there are answers. Genetically modified foods, pesticides, corn syrup used for feeding, cell phones, viruses, and fungus have all been pinpointed as potential causes.
One of these, neonicotinoids pesticides manufactured by Bayer, has received particular heat because the agents are known neurotoxins that kill insects by attacking their nervous systems, and lawsuits against Bayer from beekeepers are ongoing.
But in a new study reported by the New York Times, it's suggested that military scientists and entomologists have come up with another potential answer, one that has nothing to do with Bayer's pesticides: a combination of fungus and virus, found in all collapsed colonies, may be the culprit, they say.
The new theory provides some interesting fodder to an already complex problem . especially since Fortune Magazine revealed a massive conflict of interest by the study's lead author.
Lead Author Received Money from Bayer
Bayer was undoubtedly breathing a sigh of relief when the New York Times blasted the news across its headline that the bee mystery had been solved . and the culprit had nothing to do with pesticides.
But the findings took on a new light when Fortune Magazine revealed that Montana bee researcher Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, the study's lead author, has "received a significant research grant from Bayer to study bee pollination."
Even more suspicious, Bromenshenk was reportedly all set to serve as an expert witness in 2003 for beekeepers involved in a class-action lawsuit against Bayer. He dropped out without explanation, however, and subsequently received the grant from Bayer.
Bromenshenk also owns a company, Bee Alert Technology, that is developing hand-held scanners designed to detect bee ailments. His company would therefore profit nicely if a disease, such as a virus, was found to be causing CCD rather than a pesticide.
So the latest study that suggests a virus/fungus combination is killing off bees is by no means the final word on the subject.
Dr. Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the health group at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), pointed out in Fortune Magazine that the study has not addressed why colonies are dying, such as if they're dying because they're getting weak.
She likened the issue to people who die of HIV not from the actual virus but because their immune defenses are down. It could be, then, that pesticides or another factor are weakening the bees and making them susceptible to viruses, fungus or a combination of factors that ultimately kills them.
Bayer Pesticides Long Implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder
Two of Bayer's best-selling pesticides, Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, are known to get into pollen and nectar, and can damage beneficial insects such as bees. The marketing of these drugs also coincided with the occurrence of large-scale bee deaths in many European countries and the United States.
The non-profit group NRDC filed a lawsuit in August 2008 to force the U.S. government to release the studies it ordered on the effect of clothianidin on honeybees.
NRDC attorneys believed the EPA already had evidence of a link between pesticides and the mass honeybee die-offs, yet was not making the information public. NRDC is now being allowed to look through the studies.
There is some information already publicly available, though, and that's the EPA's fact sheet on clothianidin. It says right there in black and white that:
"Clothianidin has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other nontarget pollinators, through the translocation of clothianidin residues in nectar and pollen . In honey bees, the effects of this toxic chronic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects on the queen."
Unfortunately, the EPA approved neonicotinoid pesticides on the basis that the amounts found in pollen and nectar are not enough to kill bees. This says nothing of their potential to impact the bees on a non-lethal level, and, in fact, studies have shown that the substances can impair bees' learning and memory even at low doses.
France, meanwhile, after reporting large losses of bees after exposure to Imidacloprid, banned it for use on corn and sunflowers, despite protests by Bayer. In another smart move, France also rejected Bayer
The manner in which prescription drugs are marketed today can be readily understood if you read the 1928 book "Propaganda," by Edward Bernays, the father of PR.
Bernays knew that public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves.
Pharmaceutical marketers, following in his footsteps, sell drugs by selling diseases -- a system known as "disease branding." Illnesses such as panic disorder, restless legs syndrome, bipolar disorder, and ADHD were once considered rare until a marketing campaign transformed the brand in order to sell more drugs.
According to CNN:
"If all drugs were harmless, disease branding would be relatively harmless, too. But no drug is completely benign ... Detrol can make elderly people delirious and may cause memory problems. Paxil is associated with sexual dysfunction and dependence ... Side effects like these are a part of every drug. But they are never part of the brand."Sources:
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Drug companies are master marketers and they fully embrace the ideology that Edward Bernays' -- the father of PR -- is most known for. Instead of trying to sell their drugs on their own merit, they invest untold amounts of money into creating diseases their drugs are meant to treat.
By doing this, they create instant patients, patients who will likely go to their physicians and request the said drug by name.
It's an ingenious model and one that the PR industry has won awards over . the only problem is that it's detrimental to your health.
The Fine Art of Disease Mongering
Pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than research -- almost twice as much. Part of these costs often go toward hiring expensive PR firms, celebrity spokespeople, and physicians and academics to pedal their wares.
As CNN reported, in order to market its antidepressant Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline hired a PR firm to create a "public awareness campaign" about an "under-diagnosed" disease.
The disease? Social anxiety disorder . previously known as shyness.
You may have seen this campaign firsthand; ads stating "Imagine being allergic to people" were distributed widely, celebrities gave interviews to the press and psychiatrists gave lectures on this new disease in the top 25 media markets.
As a result, mentions of social anxiety in the press rose from about 50 to over 1 billion in just two years . social anxiety disorder became the "third most common mental illness" in the U.S. . and Paxil skyrocketed to the top of the charts as one of the most profitable and most prescribed drugs in the United States.
Clearly there was not a rapid rise in the number of people suffering from extreme shyness during this time . there was just a masterful marketing campaign that successfully whispered into enough people's ears, "If you're shy or nervous around others, you need to take this drug."
And that's just what millions did.
Drug Companies are Seeking to Medicalize Society . and You
Drug companies would like you to believe that for every symptom you experience, there's a pill you need to treat it. This includes symptoms you might not have thought twice about, had you not seen the very same ones advertised on television in relation to an "underdiagnosed" and "undertreated" disease.
As authors of Selling Sickness: The Pharmaceutical Industry and Disease Mongering wrote in the British Medical Journal:
"There's a lot of money to be made from telling healthy people they're sick. Some forms of medicalizing ordinary life may now be better described as disease mongering: widening the boundaries of treatable illness in order to expand markets for those who sell and deliver treatments.
Pharmaceutical companies are actively involved in sponsoring the definition of diseases and promoting them to both prescribers and consumers. The social construction of illness is being replaced by the corporate construction of disease."
This practice has resulted in the creation of unholy alliances between drug companies, health care providers and supposed consumer groups, all working in concert to convince people they're sick and in need of drug treatment. As the British Medical Journal continued:
"Within many disease categories informal alliances have emerged, comprising drug company staff, doctors, and consumer groups. Ostensibly engaged in raising public awareness about underdiagnosed and undertreated problems, these alliances tend to promote a view of their particular condition as widespread, serious, and treatable.
Because these "disease awareness" campaigns are commonly linked to companies' marketing strategies, they operate to expand markets for new pharmaceutical products.
Alternative approaches-emphasizing the self limiting or relatively benign natural history of a problem, or the importance of personal coping strategies-are played down or ignored."
What the drug companies don't want you to know is that ALL of their drugs carry risks of serious side effects, some worse than the alleged diseases they're meant to treat. They also don't want you to know that, more often than not, you can overcome problematic symptoms yourself by making positive dietary and lifestyle changes.
And, in fact, this latter form of "treatment" is virtually the only way to actually cure an illness, as drugs typically do absolutely nothing but temporarily mask your symptoms.
You Needn't Live in Fear .
One of the key strategies that drug companies depend on to make medicalization of society work is targeting your news media with stories designed to create fears about a condition or disease, and draw attention to the latest treatment. This has led to problems on several key levels:
- People with benign, normal symptoms end up taking dangerous drugs. Once you're convinced that natural signs of aging and common conditions are diseases or treatable symptoms, you take drugs for such things as balding, anxiety, mild bone loss and indigestion, which puts your health at risk over issues that were not true illnesses or risks in the first place.
Further, many of these conditions are entirely treatable with diet and lifestyle modifications.
- People who are tested regularly end up undergoing unnecessary treatments with drugs and invasive surgery. Very few people after middle age can pass standard medical tests without being told that they have some sort of "risk."
This risk is then turned into a pseudo-disease leading to such things as dangerous breast and colon surgery and "preventive" medications, instead of outlining natural strategies that would actually help a person's health to thrive.
- As a result of "disease mongering," the more the medical industry influences a nation, the sicker that nation "considers itself to be." It eats away at your self-confidence and teaches you that you're weak and incapable of staying well, and that all signs and symptoms are potentially dangerous conditions and diseases.
Truly, this sort of marketing has blurred the lines of what drugs and surgery you really need to save your life, and which may end up killing you faster.
Rather than focusing more time and attention on your health as you age, or as you see degeneration setting in, you might settle for a "diagnosis" and the latest medications. The only winners in this grand scheme are the ones who profit financially.
It's Time to Take Control of Your Health
Drug companies will try to convince you that you're sick. Your physician, too, may encourage you to seek drug treatments that aren't really necessary and are very likely dangerous.
The only way to break out of this self-destructive system is to take a stand for yourself, and take control of your own health.
One of the primary purposes of Mercola.com is to provide you with the insight to protect and defend yourself from these persuasive and manipulative influences. I encourage you to browse through the site and get educated about how to get and stay well without drugs, surgery, and other often-unnecessary medical interventions.
If you're just beginning, read my nutrition plan first, as its recommendations come from decades of experience in which I have researched extensively, conferred with my professional colleagues, and most importantly, successfully treated tens of thousands of patients.
And always remember: first and foremost, drug companies are nearly always trying to sell you something that there are better natural solutions for. They're not really concerned if you're sick or well, or whether you get healthy or sicker; they just want you to buy their products. But in far more cases than not, there are more effective and safer options than drugs to help you get well.
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Medicalisation: Disease Mongering