Tag Archives: Health

Toxic

Toxic is a word I seem to be hearing a lot more lately.  It’s original meaning applied solely to substances or chemicals that were dangerous to people.  But it has now been widely applied, in the figurative sense, to include such things as relationships and workplaces.  When you think about it this way, there are many types of “toxins” when it comes to individual beliefs or behaviors including hatred, envy, bigotry, racism, and sexism, just to name a few.  I could be wrong, but I don’t image that a single dose of a particular person or a job could outright kill you, but maybe the stress of such encounters could, over time.  Of course, there are those jobs that can expose a person directly to toxic substances, and those could definitely kill you and kill you instantly.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has numerous definitions of what constitutes a toxic or highly toxic substance.  OSHA relies on the LD50 for it’s classifications.  This stands for the Lethal Dose or amount of a solid or liquid material that it takes to kill 50% of the test animals it’s used on.  This same measurement, frighteningly enough, is used when testing medications.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a test subject, voluntarily or involuntarily, taking a 50-50, live or die gamble on handling or ingesting some chemical at work, or a medication my doctor prescribes, especially if the lethal doses they are talking about are only in milligrams or parts per million.

I wonder if there is an LD50 for doses of people or personalities 🙂

Now I usually don’t endorse programs or products and the like, but I have to say that I’ve enjoyed a couple of series this past week.  I watched the docuseries on Netflix called “Rotten,” which addresses multiple issues with modern agricultural industry practices including international market coercion, blind-eye regulation or unregulation, monocrop culture, use of toxic chemicals and crime.  I’ve also been watching the docuseries “Broken Brain” that is examining the effects of multiple environmental insults on the body, the diseases that manifest, and a functional approach to cure.

The common theme is these programs, and more and more literature I see as well, is that humans are starting to reap what they’ve sown.  We have violently exploited and poisoned the planet, and vast arrays of illnesses are starting to increase exponentially as a result.  The outdated algorithmic medical model of name it and pick a drug to treat symptoms is failing because it is simply not getting to the cause of these illnesses.  And because the causes can be multiple toxin exposures over time, it may not be easy to put your finger on the exact source and where to target treatment.  So, when I see people talking about eliminating the negative or toxic influences in their lives, and by that they usually mean toxic relationships, we might want to add to that list detoxing our planet and our bodies.

As you may have noticed, I have a number of categories of postings on my blog.  Soon, I’ll be adding a new one – “Environmental,” where I hope we can explore some of the issues where we can all truly make a healthy difference in the way live, breath, work and relate . . . it starts by shinning a light on them.

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Postscript:  I kicked off this section by reblogging a piece from Nipslip titled: “Having an Eco-Conscience. Does it Matter and Is It Even Possible.

*  Photo Credit:  I found this photo on the Internet in the public domain and was unable to locate a source to give an attribution, but this one is not mine.

Another update:  There is a free web-presentation series coming up on Heavy Metals beginning January 29th through February 5th, 2018.  You can register to watch these presentations at the “Heavy Metal Summit: Detox Demystified.”

Update – January 30, 2018. I have to give Netflix credit again for launching another docuseries “Dirty Money,” which is exposing corporate fraud.  The first episode exposed Volkswagen’s deception on how their diesel cars, advertised and sold as “clean” were, in fact, some of the worse polluters adding to the toxins we breathe.

Update – February 3, 2018: You might want to reconsider what foods you are eating, especially cereals and snack foods that are composed largely of major mono-cropped grains.

“A FDA-registered food safety laboratory tested iconic American food for residues of the weed killer glyphosate (aka Monsanto’s Roundup) and found ALARMING amounts.”

Check out the article: “Monsanto is Scrambling to Bury This Breaking Story.”

Update – August 19, 2018:  I’m back to endorse another docuseries put together by Netflix.  It is called “Afflicted” and it follows the lives of seven people struggling with environmental or mysterious illnesses.  This includes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Electro-Magnetic Sensitivity; Toxic Mold Syndrome; and Lyme Disease.  All of which can be tied to our ever increasing poisoning of the planet.

These disease processes can be devastating for the sufferers and their families.  And for most, the mainstream medical community has abandoned those afflicted.  When they figure out a way to make a profit, I’m sure they will rise to the occasion.

The hyperlink above will take you to the trailer if you’re interested.  Kudos to Netflix for taking on this subject matter.

 

Move Your Body, Move Your Mind

Yesterday, I didn’t post anything in my category “Daily Musings.”  And that’s ok.  As writers, we don’t always get things on paper, or we may be working on multiple projects and simply not make it to the blog.  Of course, there are times when the well just goes dry.  No words.  What do we do then?  It’s pointless to get frustrated, so you might as well free up your mind by doing something else.

In the book, “Brain Rules,” by John Medina, he talks about how our evolutionary past affects our thinking and creativity today.  The first of his twelve rules is to exercise, and he outlines the “performance envelope” where “our brains are designed to solve problems, related to surviving, in an unstable outdoor environment, and to do so in nearly constant motion.”  Yes, motion.

From an evolutionary view, our brains developed while we were on the move – walking as many as twelve miles each day.  Constant motion was necessary to forage for food, water, and to scurry away from predators.  While these skills may have deteriorated in an age where some only get their exercise by walking to the vending machine, no longer fearing that saber-tooth tigers might surprise them on the well-worn carpet path to the office break room, multiple studies have borne out that exercise increases our cognitive abilities.  And it doesn’t matter what type of exercise as long as gets the blood flowing.  More circulating oxygen to the brain transforms to increases in substances promoting and enhancing brain activity and even stimulating the grown of new brain cells.  This is why sitting in a class room or an office has the opposite effect of making our brains grow tired and numb.  Moving increases brain power.  Moving stimulates creativity.

Now you don’t have to walk twelve miles every day, but motion is good.  Any motion.  I’ve found its best to carry something to jot down those ideas while I’m on the trail, or use the voice recorder on the cell phone.  Because once I start moving, and take my mind off writing, words just magically appear.

Yesterday it was 4 miles out in the woods. I wrote a lot in my mind that will hopefully be on paper soon.  Today, my chosen activity was cleaning house.  And as I did, numerous ideas for numerous stories kept popping up in my mind.  So many ideas and words that my house cleaning was disrupted by many returns to the keyboard.  Or maybe I just didn’t want to clean.  I don’t know.  But, if you want to forage for words, move your body . . .

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Seeding, Misleading, Switching, and Stealing: The Vocabulary of Competition in Today’s Pharmaceutical Industry

* Disclaimers:  The image for this post was found on the internet in the public domain and it is in no way identified or affiliated with any entity or particular drug manufacturer.  While the article references specific companies in relation to a Wall Street Journal publication, it is in no way implying those companies, or any other specific companies, have engaged in the practices identified by Dr. Kessler, former Commissioner of the FDA, which are described in this article.

** This article was published in the editorial sections of the Columbia Missourian on July 12, 1995 and in the Columbia Daily Tribune on July 18, 1995.  Please see my Daily Musings post called “Detours” for an introduction to this flash from the past.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that several pharmaceutical companies increased their donations to the GOP to influence legislation that ultimately saved them $1 billion dollars.  It seems Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and American Home Products donated more “soft-money” to the Republicans this past year than the previous six years combined in an effort to eliminate rebates to the government from the sale of infant formula to the Women, Infants and Children program.  Paying off legislators, however, is just one method of dominating the pharmaceutical market, and these corporations go to great lengths to promote products that are much more lethal than infant formula.

More than $58 billion a year is reaped by the U.S. pharmaceutical companies, but each individual company commands only a small share of this monetary battlefield.  Merck and Co., for example, controls the largest market share, dominating only 6.2 percent of the industry.  The fact that each drug manufacturer controls such a small portion or total pharmaceutical revenues fuels fierce competition to influence your physician to prescribe, or misprescribe, medications.  David Kessler of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research cites increasing evidence of illicit drug marketing practices that mislead or literally buy physicians’ prescribing practices.

One such technique is called a “seeding trial.”  The company identifies physicians, not based on qualifications, but by their habits of prescribing competitors’ products.  These doctors are then enticed to prescribe a given medication by signing them on for a drug trial of no scientific value.  Already FDA-licensed, these drugs require no additional studies.  The only criteria for participation is the physician’s willingness to write prescriptions.  Little to no data is collected, and no control groups are used to compare effects of medications.  The physician is paid a flat fee for each patient enrolled, which usually varies from $85 to $500 a head.  Essentially, these false studies are designed to change a doctor’s prescribing habits to a medication with no appreciable benefits to the patients involved.  In a marketing memo intercepted by the FDA, one company highlighted the importance of one such trial in this manner: “If at least 20,000 of the 25,000 patients enrolled remain in the study, it could mean up to a $10,000,000 boost in sales.”

This type of payment for questionable research has resulted in other problems.  In his article “Institutional Conflicts of Interest,” Ezekiel Emanuel documented that institutions and physicians receiving royalties and payments associated with drug research were more likely to fail to provide informed consent; to ignore adverse reactions and complications endangering their subjects; and to introduce bias into the collection and interpretation of data.  If drug companies are eliciting false drug trials and physicians are altering results based on payment for these studies, how can any patient trust that [they are] being prescribed the correct product for [their] ailment?

If physicians cannot be coerced into false studies to change their prescribing habits, then drug companies simply misrepresent the benefits of their products.  Unsubstantiated claims of superiority, minimizing or failing to mention risk and adverse reactions or presenting pharmacokinetic distinctions with dubious relevance are all part of a well-orchestrated false advertising campaign.  A study conducted at the University of San Diego School of Medicine demonstrated that, at best, pharmaceutical representatives were only 89 percent accurate in their advertising statements.  This 11 percent falsification of data could be all it takes for your physician to prescribe a lethal combination of medications.

If “seeding and misleading” can’t get your physician into the manufacturer’s camp, then how about the “switch campaign?”  Insurance companies encourage the use of cheaper generic drugs to hold down health-care costs.  To avoid this loss of revenue, however, pharmaceutical corporations offer direct payments to physicians to “switch” to another dosage form of the same product or to another product in the same therapeutic class.  No real benefit surfaces for the patient, but now there is no generic substitute for the switched classification and no loss of profits for the manufacturer.

If all of this doesn’t make you reach for your antacid, then consider the newest trend in the pharmaceutical industry: stealing.  Drug companies are trying to create alliances with insurers that will allow them to guide the patients’ care, provide their medications and bypass the physician altogether.  A nurse would monitor the patient by phone while hospital and physician visits are discouraged.  The drug company would provide only its products, eliminating the physician’s option to decide form a wide range of medications.  I guess “stealing” prescriptive authority is certainly one way to eliminate the competition, but then again just who is practicing medicine here, and whose interest do you think these companies are representing?

In the Nov. 15 issue of Hospital Practice, Robert Schrier documented a drug-dosing crisis in America that accounts for 60,000 to 140,000 unnecessary death each year.  Adverse reactions resulted in 10.8 percent of all hospitalizations and 14 percent of all in-patient hospital days, and once hospitalized there was an additional 18 to 30 percent chance of experiencing and adverse drug event.  Medication producing dizziness and sedation in the elderly population caused 32,000 hip fractures last year, and potentially life-threatening mixtures of medications were found in 88 percent of all elderly patients prescribed three or more medications.  Prescription medications, taken the way they are ordered, account for more deaths each year than guns (35,000), than high risk sexual behavior (30,000) or even motor vehicle accidents (25,000).  In fact, each year prescription medications kill more people than the entire 16 years of the Vietnam War, during which we lost 57,147 Americans.  With these types of statistics, it is not very comforting to know that our drug manufacturers are illicitly influence the way our doctors treat our ailments.

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Kessler, D. A., et. al. (1994).  Therapeutic Class Wars – Drug Promotion in a Competitive                        Marketplace.  The New England Journal of Medicine, 331(20), 1350- 1353.

 

Photo:  This photo was found on the Internet in the public domain.  No other attribution could be found.

Update June 3, 2018: It looks like nothing has changed since 1994, except there are probably more zeros after the profit margins of Big Pharma.  Check it out: “Why Prescription Drugs Cost So Much.”  All links are subject to link rot.