james-marcum

Can healthcare be overly aggressive?

Most doctors and providers just want to help, but could this desire to help with the symptoms be unproductive? In the media, a study presented in June at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago suggested that 75%, that is 3 out of 4 cancer patients receive overly aggressive therapy.

The study evaluated 28,000 cancer patients who died between 2007 and 2014. Their end-of-life treatments included chemotherapy, hospitalizations and invasive therapy, which did not lengthen or improve their life. Only a handful received care, which made their time more meaningful.

Dr. McDougall in his latest newsletter wrote about the overuse of stents and bypass procedures in heart patients. Then there is the overuse of antibiotics and medications in general.

A recent article by Andrew Gelter of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of the dangers of dietary supplements, which may do more harm than good. Patients in too many instances just want a quick fix when less is actually more. Too many patients turn to aggressive treatments because they feel like something needs to be done.

Can healthcare be overly aggressive? The answer is yes. Is healthcare too aggressive? The evidence says it is. What can a healthcare consumer do to protect himself or herself? Read, ask questions, find trusted sources of information, and do your best to take care of your body. Identify stressors in life. These stressors may be any input that works against our creator’s original design. Find techniques to minimize and balance the stress. Also ask the Ultimate Physician for guidance and learn what God has in store.

A Reliable Source

Candice Choi has written an interesting article for the Associated Press entitled “Candy Coated Science.” In her article she explains how food companies shape nutrition research. She describes a scientific paper, funded by trade associations representing the makers of Butterfingers, Hershey, and Skittles. Their findings were startling. Children who eat candy tend to weigh less than those who don’t.

Needless to say, the study was biased and flawed, but this article shows just how widespread the problem has become. As I have said before, it is hard to know what to believe. The amount of information in the media is tremendous. Research is almost always biased. A study supporting your cause can always be generated. This is a major problem for the consumer. It is also a problem for physicians as patients have read that this supplement, food or product will work miracles. Placebos and belief systems play a role in health, but the situation explained by Choi is rampant and a real problem in the healthcare world.

Where can a person get information they can trust? We hope Heartwise Ministries is a place you can go for a balanced approach. When I look at a claim, I try to look at all the information available and then let the individual decide what is the best course of action in their individual situation. I also use the scriptures to help guide my recommendations. As more information becomes available, recommendations may need to change. The body is complex. Isolated findings are difficult to interpret but easy to market to the consumer.

So many people want a quick fix or a miracle cure. We now, more than ever, need to question everything. We need to look for withheld results. We need to know who paid for the study […]

5 Summer Health Tips

Everyone who knows me frequently hears me tell everyone to move every hour, eat your fruits and veggies, and get enough rest. However, I have 5 summer health tips to share. Most of these are common-sense, but it never hurts to hear them again. See the tips above, put them into practice, and have a great summer.

 

Super Bugs need Super Humans

Tom Frieden of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention said this week, “It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently.” Penicillin has been available since the 1940’s and saved the lives of many. Notice that he used the word urgently.

This week, in the end of May of 2016, a Pennsylvania woman has been diagnosed with a strain of bacteria that is resistant to all antibiotics. The fear is that if other strains of bacteria evolve to include the same resistance, antibiotics will no longer be effective in fighting infection. It is then possible that a previously treatable urinary infection could be life threatening.

The woman had gone to a military clinic and was treated for a urinary tract infection found to be the bacteria, E. Coli. This is a common bacteria founding the gut and urinary tract. This bug was carrying the gene for resistance to the drug colistin. This is an old antibiotic used for resistant infections. We could be on the verge of a major health problem. This is not the only bug that is learning how to avoid the effects of antibiotics.

It turns out that we have helped to develop this problem. 80% of all antibiotics consumed are given to livestock so the animal husbandry industry can get more animals to market. Livestock are typically given many different antibiotics so they do not die before they reach market. We then eat the animals with these antibiotics in them and then their presence may create superbugs like MRSA, Yersinia, and Staph that are now found in store-bought meat. Normal cooking can kill some—but not all—of these bugs. We eat the animals which have many different antibiotics […]

Thanks

The world headlines have been full of despair, attacks in Paris, Mali, in the air, on the sea, and in cyberspace. After the headlines, the political rhetoric starts. This fatigues me.  Even the sports section is not as upbeat. To make matters worse, one of my favorite cartoons, “Henry” is not available. Henry, was at least some sense of normalcy for me. Believe it not, these inputs, including Henry, do change our health. Today, I want us to focus on the importance of being thankful. This is an important input and is a Biblical Prescription for Life.

Thankfulness, gratitude, appreciation, recognition, honor, and even praise are similar words. But, what is a word? A word elicits some type of chemical response in the body. The brain recognizes the word, searches the hippocampus, and the 100 billion neurons with a quad-million (one with 15 zeros) connections go to work. There are neurotransmitters generated, new connections, and interactions all in response to a word. The limbic system may turn on an emotion, and the amygdyla may turn on the stress chemistry pending the word. Fredrickson has described, in the American Psychologist, the complex dynamics and pointed out, the brain has a hard time focusing on negatives when being thankful. There is an on-off switch. Negativity, anti-thankfulness, can also stress the body. Dusek has shown how even the DNA and gene expression are changed by our brains. The epigenetics can be changed by words. I do not want any of my 20,000+ genes to be methylated or my telomeres to be shortened unless there is a good reason.

When a person says thank you and means it, there is a physiologic response that we are just beginning to understand. […]

World Health & Meat

Joseph Pisani, of the Associated Press, has written an interesting article, “Hot Dog Makers, Meat Sellers, Shake off WHO Cancer Report.” These groups think the recent World Health Organization report is baloney. What is the report? This report has evaluated the research and concluded that processed meats raise the risk of colon, stomach, and other cancers. Just colorectal cancer accounted for 93,090 cases in the United States last year.In fact the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified processed meats as a class 1 carcinogen. This carries the same high-risk as cigarettes, asbestos, and plutonium. Just 1.8 ounces of bacon daily, two strips, raises a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

I am proud of the WHO for telling the truth. What else can the meat industry say in response to this report? Many carnivores are shrugging off the report. The North American Meat Institute, who represents meat producers, said the report was “alarmist”. They go on to say, “classifying red and processed meat as cancer ‘hazards’ defies both common sense and numerous studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer.”

First I would like to see who is funding those numerous studies. This report looked at the evidence and made an honest statement. The report, hopefully, is just the tip of the iceberg. What about the cardiovascular risk of meat? What about the damage to the bowel flora? What about the methane release and the increased greenhouse gases? What should the next independent study target?

How about the increased protein content of meat? Let’s start here. The increased protein content stimulates the production of Insulin Like Growth Factor. I am not going to turn this into a biochemistry course but excess animal protein triggers many biochemical […]

Believe it or Not?

The New York Times has reported that doctors are facing a dilemma in regards to prescribing statins. Statins are medications lowering cholesterol thus decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Coronary artery disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the United States.

Currently about 1 in 4 adults are prescribed a statin. This medication blocks an enzyme needed to produce the bad cholesterol, LDL. Unfortunately 25 % of those who take statins have side effects including liver function abnormalities, muscle aches, memory issues, and sleep problems.

In late August of 2015, two new medications, Praluent and Repatha have been released that supposedly do not have these side effects. They lower cholesterol without as many side effects but cost around 14,000$ a year. The dilemma is this; should physicians commit those who have side effects on statins, no small number, to these new, expensive and relatively untried medications?

To make matters more complicated is the statement made in June of 2015, Richard Horton, the editor of Lancet wrote, “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. “He goes on to write, “with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analysis and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn toward darkness.” This is from a scientist who is on the front lines.  Dr. Horton as editor of a prestigious Journal is on the front lines of evaluating scientific research. Unfortunately he is not alone in skepticism regarding scientific studies. Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, states,  “It is no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to […]

Real Wealth – Unaffected by Events of Last Week

The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today had headlines this past week about the falling stock prices. Why was this happening? Was China the culprit? What should an individual do? Financial advisors were receiving phone calls at record rates. Stress levels were rising. Many patients were having blood pressure problems from the worry being generated. I did not hear one good explanation. This will probably be an event that happens again down the road. What approach should we take? I do have a statement for release, placing the global situation in perspective.

There are many definitions of wealth or treasure. For some, wealth is material goods like money or stock, a car or vacation home, to others, wealth may be family, health, or even having control over ones’ time. For many, losing control over their treasures can be disturbing. Unfortunately this may have been happening last week. Personally, I would not have even known these events were occurring were it not for the media. Of course, if these events, or any event, stimulate the stress chemistry, this is not a good thing. I guess the question we should ask first is, what do you consider as treasure? What do you consider wealth?

When I think of treasure and wealth, I think of the verse in Matthew I learned as a child, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” It is not my wish for my heart to be with Wall Street. Sometimes the media hypes things up so much, perspective is lost and fear is induced, not so good for the heart. I wish the headlines from last week would have read something like this:

“The stocks have fallen greatly, but be […]

Cancer – Lowering Risk

Cancer is a health concern for many. We hear this dreaded word daily. Let’s look at some facts. One out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer. Skin cancer is the most common. Cancer is complex and basically is uncontrolled growth of previously normal cells. This can include the cells of the lungs, breast, colon and rectum, ovary, bone marrow, uterus, liver, brain, prostate, esophagus, bladder, and kidney. Treatment decisions can be difficult, but early detection and healthy living can limit the risk.

Screening for breast, skin, and colon cancer is very important as early detection helps treatment greatly. Screening for prostate cancer is useful in high risk groups. Screening involves paying attention to changes in your body as well as the way you feel. Are you tired, losing weight, have new lumps not seen before, or a change in the skin? A mammogram, colonoscopy, skin examination, or blood work might be needed occasionally, but I want to focus on five things we can do to lower risk.

Lose weight – For most cancers, the risk is higher in those who are overweight. Estrogen is made by fat cells. Women who are obese have three times the levels of estrogen. A male’s estrogen levels increase with weight as well. Also extra weight is usually associated with the production of higher insulin levels which fuel cancer cell growth. Weight also changes immune system function. Since being overweight increases cancer risk, can losing weight lower risk of cancer? Absolutely!

Exercise – Cancer risk can be reduced up to 50% with regular aerobic exercise. Exercise changes your metabolism, reduces inflammation, fat, and insulin production. The American Cancer Society recommends 2.5 hours a week of moderate exercise such as brisk […]