The Gary Null Show Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy.

February 15, 2019  

Today is February 15th and like always The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.

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February 14, 2019  

A medical doctor takes a hard look at the dominant vaccine paradigm

Dr. Stephanie Christner is an osteopathic and primary care physician, a board certified psychiatrist and the medical director of Marion Medical in Tulsa Oklahoma.  In the past she served on the Vaccine and Related Biological Advisory Committee at the FDA, and she is currently a board member of the National Vaccine Information Center founded by Barbara Lo Fisher. Dr. Christner is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association and Oklahoma's medical and osteopathic associations. In 2009, Stephanie's infant daughter died after receiving her 2nd and 4th month vaccinations. Once a staunch advocate of national vaccination policies, Stephanie embarked on educating herself further about the science questioning vaccine safety and efficacy. Dr. Christner holds degrees in economics and business from Southern Methodist University, a doctorate in Osteopathic medicine from Oklahoma State University, and completed her psychiatric medicine residency at the University of Oklahoma. 

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February 13, 2019  

Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia’s hate campaign  against holistic healing

By Gary Null and Helen Buyniski

 

From the mind of Jimmy Wales, to the alternative health community: “What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.”

One of the most exciting and successful healing modalities is energy medicine. It exists in different forms known by different names (emotional freedom techniques, tapping, biofield, energy healing, energy psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, electrodermal therapy, applied kinesiology, therapeutic touch). There are thousands of practitioners, and articles have been published about its efficacy in peer-reviewed, highly-respected journals. There is a large body of literature listed on PubMed and the National Library of Medicine. Practitioners have seen remarkable improvements in pain management, which is especially relevant as there’s currently a fully-recognized opioid epidemic in the United States, where more people died – over 70,000 in 2017 – of overdoses than all American casualties in the Vietnam War, exceeding all other accidental causes of death including car accidents and gunshots. Because even non-opioid pain relievers have an unreasonable mortality risk – aspirin can cause bleeding, acetaminophen causes liver toxicity, and NSAIDs can cause digestive problems – any therapy that is natural and nontoxic that can alleviate suffering is one we should take seriously.

Medicine is aware of and frequently uses different modalities of energy. One practitioner is Dr. Rick Leskowitz, a medical doctor and board-certified psychiatrist specializing in energy psychiatry and pain management who has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed literature. He practiced at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, which advocates a body-mind-spirit approach, and was a highly respected noncontroversial instructor at the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, where he directed the hospital’s Integrative Medicine Task Force; he also held appointments at Tufts Medical School. He has organized several conferences in Complementary and Alternative Medicine and rehabilitation and is one of the acknowledged leaders in the field. In short: he is an expert. Yet Jimmy Wales has attacked Leskowitz and thousands of other clinicians, many board certified, who asked for fairness and proof in coverage of energy psychology on Wikipedia instead of the ad hominem, vicious attacks from the Skeptic editors currently dominating medical articles on that site. When there are thousands of individuals using and benefiting from a therapy, when doctors and patients both acknowledge its benefits and the peer reviewed literature and studies also acknowledge its benefit, how can Wikipedia’s editors claim there is no scientific merit?

Yet Wales, supported by a small coterie of Skeptics, says all of these people, all their patients, all their studies, all of their peer reviewed literature, all of the respected scientific publications are all wrong, even delusional. Wales goes a step further in his response to the petition for fair and neutral, scientifically-informed coverage from the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) and says:

“No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.

 

Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.

 

What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.”

Who should we believe? Is Jimmy a board-certified psychiatrist? Are any of the Skeptics? Have any of them published positive results in peer-reviewed literature from well-designed randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of clinical studies? Have they presented their progress before large scientific conferences? The answer is no. All that this group has is their unmitigated disdain and loathing of something they seem incapable of and uninterested in understanding – and yet they condemn, attack, and vilify those who would investigate this promising field, smearing these scientific pioneers with impunity. We will now cite some of the peer-reviewed literature that it’s obvious Jimmy Wales and his Skeptic friends and editors either have not sought out or have chosen to discount in spite of its undeniable merit. The following articles have all been published in respected peer-reviewed scientific journals and are available on the government’s own library of medicine, PubMed.

A 2016 review of the literature found that while most “novel interventions” for PTSD treatment have not demonstrated efficacy, 4 mind-body techniques (acupuncture, emotional freedom technique, mantra-based meditation, and yoga) had “moderate quality evidence from mostly small- to moderate-sized randomized clinical trials” and were worthy of further study. Metcalf, O., Varker, T., Forbes, D., Phelps, A., Dell, L., DiBattista, A., … & O’Donnell, M. (2016).

Efficacy of Fifteen Emerging Interventions for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review. Journal of Traumatic Stress, Online first Jan 7. DOI: 10.1002/jts.2207

 

One such trial was conducted in 2012. In a study of vets with PTSD in which the experimental group received six hour-long tapping treatments, 86% no longer met the criteria for the disorder after six sessions. Only 4% of control group no longer met the criteria. Those in the experimental group also demonstrated improvements in depression, “mental quality of life,” and cynicism. Jain S1, McMahon GF, Hasen P, Kozub MP, Porter V, King R, Guarneri EM. Healing Touch with Guided Imagery for PTSD in returning active duty military: a randomized controlled trial. Mil Med. 2012 Sep;177(9):1015-21.

Another review of randomized controlled trials of tapping found “strong effect sizes and other positive statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions,” satisfying APA criteria for evidence-based treatment for anxiety-based conditions including PTSD.

Feinstein, D. (2012). Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of efficacy. Review of General Psychology, 16(4), 364-380. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028602

A 2017 randomized controlled trial comparing energy psychology to cognitive-behavioral therapy found the former to be at least as effective in treating patients with agoraphobia, indicating that it “may be an efficient treatment.” Irgens AC1, Hoffart A2,3, Nysæter TE4, Haaland VØ3,5, Borge FM2, Pripp AH6, Martinsen EW7, Dammen T8 Thought Field Therapy Compared to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Wait-List for Agoraphobia: A Randomized, Controlled Study with a 12-Month Follow-up. Front Psychol. 2017 Jun 20;8:1027. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01027.

One trial of Reiki’s effects on post-operative pain in knee surgery patients found statistically significant reductions in pain levels and was so successful the hospital actually established a Reiki program, training and certifying ten nurses in the therapy. Notte BB1, Fazzini C, Mooney RA. Reiki’s effect on patients with total knee arthroplasty: A pilot study. Nursing. 2016 Feb;46(2):17-23. doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000476246.16717.65.

Another review of biofield therapy’s effectiveness in mental health treatment found found “biofield therapies show safety and promise in reducing anxiety, improving mood, and cultivating mental health and wellness.” Mangione, L., Swengros, D., Anderson, J. G. (2017). Mental Health Wellness and Biofield Therapies: An Integrative Review. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 2017. DOI: 10.1080/01612840.2017.1364808

 

Energy psychology compared favorably with other modalities in treating anxiety in particular – a 2016 meta-analysis found EFT is associated with a “significant treatment effect when patients are compared with baseline or compared with control conditions” and “may possess significant practical advantages to public health outcomes” compared with costlier psychotherapeutic interventions. Clond, M. (2016). Emotional Freedom Techniques for anxiety: A systematic review with meta-analysis. J Nerv Ment Dis.2016 May; 204(5):388-95. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000483

Several systemic reviews have come to the same conclusion. A 2014 survey of randomized controlled trials of Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) found improvements in depression, anxiety, and overall symptom severity. Kalla, M. (2014). The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for improving the physical, mental, and emotional health of people with chronic diseases and/or mental health conditions: a systemic review protocol. JBI Database of Systemic Reviews & Implementation Reports, 12(2).

 

A 2015 meta-analysis found a moderate effect size for EFT across 18 RCTs. Gilomen, S. A. & Lee, C. W. (2015). The efficacy of acupoint stimulation in the treatment of

psychological distress: A meta-analysis. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 48,140-148.

 

Another study found evidence that “one-time, community leader facilitated TFT interventions may be beneficial with protracted PTS in genocide survivors.” Dunnewold, A.L., 2014. Thought field therapy efficacy following large scale traumatic events.

Curr. Res. Psychol., 5:34-39. http://thescipub.com/abstract/10.3844/crpsp.2014.34.39 –

 

Even Psychiatric Times admitted that conventional treatment’s failures were a good argument for “effective conventional and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions aimed at preventing PTSD and treating chronic PTSD.” Lake, J. (2014). A Review of select CAM modalities for the prevention and treatment of PTSD. Psychiatric Times;July 25, 2014. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/integrative-psychiatry/review-

select-cam-modalities-prevention-and-treatment-ptsd

 

An early (2008) review of the then-emerging discipline found that despite a relative paucity of trials, energy psychology had “reached the minimum threshold for being designated as an evidence-based treatment,” including APA division 12 criteria, for specific phobias and weight loss and showed great promise for other psychological conditions. Feinstein, D. Energy psychology: A review of the preliminary evidence. Psychotherapy (Chic). 2008 Jun;45(2):199-213. doi: 10.1037/0033-3204.45.2.199.

 

Energy psychology is showing great promise in treating diseases associated with aging, as well. A 2017 review of the literature “supports the clinical efficacy of mind-body practices in improving behavioral and psychological symptoms exhibited by individuals with dementia.” Anderson JG, Rogers CE, Bossen A, Testad I, Rose KM. Mind-Body Therapies in Individuals With Dementia: An Integrative Review. Res Gerontol Nurs. 2017 Nov 1;10(6):288-296. doi: 10.3928/19404921-20170928-01.

 

An earlier study of healing touch on Alzheimer’s patients produced significant improvements in cognitive function, mood, and depression – while a control group not receiving the treatment declined from the baseline as is typical with the disease. Lu DF1, Hart LK, Lutgendorf SK, Oh H, Schilling M. Slowing progression of early stages of AD with alternative therapies: a feasibility study. Geriatr Nurs. 2013 Nov-Dec;34(6):457-64. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2013.07.003. Epub 2013 Aug 22.

 

Healing touch produced significant improvements in pain levels and mobility inpatients with osteoarthritis, effects which were sustained three weeks later, leading researchers to conclude that “biofield therapies could be effective non-pharmacological adjuncts to treatment of OA.” Lu DF1, Hart LK, Lutgendorf SK, Perkhounkova Y. The effect of healing touch on the pain and mobility of persons with osteoarthritis: a feasibility study. Geriatr Nurs. 2013 Jul-Aug;34(4):314-22. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2013.05.003. Epub 2013 Jul 5

 

Psychological disorders of all stripes seem to benefit. A review of 14 studies found “mindfulness meditation effectively decreases binge eating and emotional eating in populations engaging in this behavior.” Katterman SN1, Kleinman BM2, Hood MM1, Nackers LM1, Corsica JA Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Eat Behav. 2014 Apr;15(2):197-204. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.01.005.

 

EFT has outperformed traditional treatments for depression. A review of 21 studies found it was “effective in reducing depression in a variety of populations and settings”; Moreover, the effect size for EFT was “larger than that measured in meta-analyses of antidepressant drug trials and psychotherapy studies,” and “patients maintained their gains over time.” Nelms, J. & Castel, D. (2016). A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized and non-

randomized trials of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for the treatment of depression. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 12(6), 416-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2016.08.001

 

Sebastian, B., & Nelms, J. (2017). The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the

treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 13(1), 16-25. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2016.10.001 – a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (7 were found) that met the gold-standard criteria. “A large effect was found for EFT treatment of PTSD,” which was found to be “efficacious and reliable as a treatment for PTSD in time frames ranging from four to ten sessions. EFT is safe and can be used as a self-help practice as well as a primary evidence-based treatment for PTSD.”

 

An exhaustive review of 60+ research articles in peer-reviewed journals acknowledged the skepticism of the greater medical community at reports of “a staggering 98% efficacy rate with the use of this procedure from psychological distress (posttraumatic stress disorder, phobias, anxiety, depression, etc) to physical conditions (asthma, fibromyalgia, pain, seizure disorders, etc) to performance issues (athletic, academic), but points to “the proliferation of double-blind randomized controlled studies, the gold standard of research investigation that demonstrates a high evidence base for EFT.” Rancour, P.(2016). The Emotional Freedom Technique: Finally, a unifying theory for the practice of holistic nursing, or too good to be true? J Holist Nurs. 2016 May 11. pii: 0898010116648456. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27170647

 

Because this list – which includes just a few of more than 215 studies listed on ACEP’s website, to say nothing of over 13,000 to be found on PubMed – includes not only primary studies but also meta-analyses and reviews, they are more than adequate to meet Wikipedia’s MEDRS (short for “medicine reliable sources”) criteria – the highest standard of “reliable sources” by which Wikipedia supposedly measures all contributions to its medical articles. That this large body of literature is dismissed out of hand by Wikipedia’s editorial elite is puzzling, if one thinks of Wikipedia’s editors as merely a disparate group of individuals interested in building a neutral, fact-based encyclopedia. Only when one understands that the stewards of Wikipedia are engaged in a deliberate campaign of biased suppression of truth does their refusal to allow these top-quality articles into their encyclopedia make sense.

 

Who are these Skeptics who have appointed themselves the gatekeepers of lay medical knowledge? More people get their medical information through Wikipedia than through even the most prestigious scientific journals, after all, and Wikipedia prides itself on being a one-stop knowledge-shop for the rest of the internet. For this reason, it’s imperative to examine who these people are who have set themselves up as the modern Oracle of Delphi, declaring unilaterally what is and is not true according to an opaque and constantly-shifting set of rules.

 

Even the gatekeepers of orthodox medicine have been forced to grudgingly admit that energy medicine is a promising and credible discipline worthy of further study. The American Psychological Association has, since 2012, permitted ACEP to deliver continuing education credits for psychologists – a process that took five years of appeals, but in which they eventually prevailed, due to the strength of their science. Biofield therapies, after all, are not new. Energy psychology by its various names is merely one of the first attempts by western medicine to use a force the rest of the world has long believed is indispensable to healing – prana, or chi, has been central to Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. “In Western medicine we’re so interested in breaking everything down that we end up looking at people like they were machines. But this whole energy process, I think, is really the link I think between mind and body,” says Leskowitz.

Wikipedia’s Skeptic elite, however, are unwilling to accept that there is any validity to any form of complementary and alternative medicine. Their dogmatic rigidity goes far beyond the institutional caution of the National Academy of Sciences or other august bodies set up as gatekeepers to the medical establishment. Indeed, they feel they know better than those revered institutions.  At Wikipedia, there is no such thing as evidence-based alternative healing: there is only orthodoxy. But our deep experience interviewing thousands of physicians over the decades challenges that concept. Physicians risk their income and reputation by forgoing the standard operating procedures of the medical-industrial complex and trying other therapies – yet they do so anyway. If orthodox medicine was all that it was supposed to be, there would be no need to have any form of alternative approach. Indeed, in conversations with so many physicians, we have found that they only sought alternative protocols when the treatments they were conditioned to try didn’t work. Because they felt the patient was not benefiting, or even being harmed, they risked their own standing in the medical community to seek truths elsewhere.

Wikipedia would have us believe that there is only one truth in all of healthcare: the orthodox approach, whether pharmaceuticals or surgery or some other technology, is the answer to every single disease. If it doesn’t help the patient, or they get worse, it’s not the doctor’s fault, or the medication or protocol’s fault – it’s the patient’s fault. In that rigidly reductionistic Newtonian inquisition mindset, there’s not even a desire or will to set up gold standard double-blind placebo-controlled studies to prove or disprove every single point of treatment.

Science, however – legitimate, independent science that isn’t influenced or corrupted by proprietary interests or self-serving agendas – has shown just the opposite to be true, with hundreds of thousands of studies published by some of the most revered institutions and journals in the world, written by some of its leading scientists and scholars. In some cases, there are tens of thousands of studies showing the benefit of a single nutrient like curcumin or vitamin C – hence the physician or therapist who is using these is relying upon sound qualified peer reviewed science, as well as their own intrinsic clinical observations. Time and again, physicians will say, I was able to help a patient using this therapy whereas I had no success with what I was taught in medical school. We’ve taken the time over years to study the library of medicine and the National Academy of Sciences archives on these issues, and we’re absolutely dumbfounded that such a mountain of evidence can be ignored by Wikipedia. What qualifications do these editors possess that sets them above Harvard Medical School, or Yale, Columbia, Princeton? Above journals like Nature and Science and the NEJM?

Indeed, the other side of the question becomes: why aren’t more doctors using these therapies? It’s not a question of whether there is legitimate science to prove that a given therapy works – we can see the overwhelming abundance of evidence, but that’s only half the equation. The other half is that JAMA itself – one of the most prestigious medical journals published today – has acknowledged the third leading cause of death in the US is iatrogenesis. Our careful breakdown of the statistics on medically-induced death shows the number is far higher. Using conservative figures, we found close to 1 million iatrogenic deaths occur every year, a truly staggering figure that is more than the casualties from heart disease or cancer, the CDC’s two leading causes of death. Because the CDC has no death certificate code for iatrogenic causes, many avoidable deaths-by-medicine are lost in paperwork, classified as something else and filed away, only for the fatal mistake to be repeated on another hapless patient in the future. Orthodox medicine is responsible for these deaths, for the use of medications that should never have been approved or medical procedures that should never have persisted in practice after the knowledge they were no miracle treatments emerged. Jimmy Wales and his Skeptic hordes refuse to acknowledge either side of this equation: both the vast mountains of evidence that these therapies work, published in scientific journals, and the equally vast quantities of evidence against much of established medicine. We absolutely support and respect emergency medicine – our system does urgent care well, providing truly top-notch outcomes for patients suffering heart attacks, strokes, burns, and other sudden-onset life-threatening conditions. But these represent only about 12% of modern care. The vast majority of chronic care, including cancer, heart disease, mental illness, and inflammatory conditions, fails miserably.

Extrapolating our figure of 987,507 iatrogenic deaths per year over the last 30 to 40 years, we see tens of millions of deaths that were avoidable, hundreds of millions of injuries that were preventable. Up to this moment, there has been no concerted effort to change or even challenge the protocols and procedures the therapies and pharmacological approaches to reverse this deadly trend. Why haven’t the Skeptics been as adamant in their criticism and their scathing personal attacks against doctors at major institutions who promote the use of therapies that don’t work and are harmful? At the same time they’re condemning therapies that have worked.  Here we are faced with the dilemma of the whistleblower – an honest employee working in a corporation or government agency that finds corruption and malfeasance and reports it to the appropriate authorities, only to be criminally charged and punished for violating corporate or government secrecy in order to report a much greater crime. The whistleblowers go to jail but the people committing the crimes continue amassing huge sums of money and power. Wikipedia refuses to acknowledge how bad medicine is, then refuses to acknowledge how it could be improved to actually help people. What motivates this type of denialism, this aggressive pursuit of vengeance against all who would call out the medical system for its abuses? Why have the media and the government allowed such dishonest behavior in the public sphere?

Wikipedia’s editors hide behind anonymous usernames, yet we trust them as the stewards of medical knowledge. This is preposterous. A medical publication would never publish an article with anonymous authors, its source of funding concealed, its authors’ affiliations left off the page. What if every scientific journal or body operated in such obscurity? People would be outraged, and rightfully so. The usurpation of this medical authority by a totally unaccountable group of ideologically-driven individuals operating in the shadows is surely the most remarkable intellectual deception in American history.

Before anyone supports, reads, contributes or believes anything on Wikipedia, they might stop to think why a site supposedly dedicated to collecting and sharing the sum total of the world’s knowledge has seen fit to censor so much of it, and marvel at who these apparently omnipotent Skeptics are that they feel they know more than the National Academy of Sciences, Harvard Medical School, JAMA, Nature, and every other prestigious scientific institution and publication that has stamped its imprimatur on holistic and complementary therapies, testifying to their value and validity. Wikipedia’s ruling elite know that millions more people visit its site than will ever read a study, no matter how important, in any scientific journal, even the most prestigious. Their decision to deliberately conceal the most promising advances in evidence-based medicine today – and to viciously attack those who attempt to bring these advances to the public’s attention – is anti-scientific in the extreme. Anyone engaging with real science knows there is always more to discover and that even the most solid theories are never set in stone. The Skeptics’ hollow parody of “science” is just religious dogma for secularists. They have truly set themselves up as the modern Inquisition, and it is enlightened medical professionals willing to look beyond their rigid dogma who are being burnt at the stake.

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February 12, 2019  
Voicemail Line 862-800-6805
 
This new feature will allow listeners to call in and leave a voicemail question to all their favorite shows. All you have to do is call the number, Say your name, what show and what your question is. This will allow your voice to be heard on your favorite PRN shows and will allow a better host/listener connection.
 
Part 1: The US’ Healthcare System is Predatory – It’s Time for Universal Medical Coverage

Richard Gale and Gary Null
Progressive Radio Network, February 12, 2019
For a nation that prides itself on being the world’s wealthiest, most innovative, and most technologically advanced, the US’ healthcare system is nothing less than a disaster and disgrace. Not only are Americans the least healthy among the most developed nations, but the US’ health system also ranks dead last among high-income countries.[1] Despite rising costs and our unshakeable faith in American medical exceptionalism, average life expectancy in the US has remained lower than other OECD nations for many years and has continued to decline for the past three years. On the other hand, countries with universal healthcare coverage find their average life expectancy stable or slowly increasing. The fundamental problem in Washington is that both parties are beholden to the pharmaceutical and private insurance industries. Neither has the courage or will to spurn their corporate donors to do what is sensible, financially feasible and morally correct to improve Americans’ quality of health and well-being.

 

Read More

Part 2: 

Rapidly changing conditions in the Arctic and their larger impact on global climate and weather conditions
 
Prof. Peter Wadhams is a professor emeritus of ocean physics and head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University. He is also the former director of the Scott Polar Research Institute  Prof. Wadhams is a recognized and renowned scientist in the field of Arctic region, the impacts of climate change and the rapid loss of polar ice. He has participated in 50 polar expeditions  His book “A Farewell to Ice,” is a front line report from a world leader in Arctic polar sciences that outlines his dire warnings about an ice free world in the event humanity fails to meet the climate challenges face it today. It is a must-read for gaining a thorough understanding of our dangerous climate crisis.
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February 11, 2019  
Voicemail Line 862-800-6805
 
This new feature will allow listeners to call in and leave a voicemail question to all their favorite shows. All you have to do is call the number, Say your name, what show and what your question is. This will allow your voice to be heard on your favorite PRN shows and will allow a better host/listener connection.
 
In the latest liberal news and political news, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines at a recent congressional hearing on money in politics by explaining and inquiring about political corruption. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, aka AOC, went into the issues of lobbyists and Super PACs and how the political establishment, including Donald Trump, uses big money to their advantage, to hide and obfuscate, and push crooked agendas. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is a rising star in the Democratic Party and House of Representatives.
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February 8, 2019  

America's crisis in personal medical debt and debt forgiveness

Jerry Ashton has had a career in the credit and collections industry for over four decades. He is the co-founder and executive director of RIP Medical Debt, which was inspired by the "rolling Jubilee" debt forgiveness initiative started by Occupy Wall Street. This is a non profit charitable organization that has abolished medical debt for 10s of thousands of Americans.  Back in 1995, after witnessing the way people who have fallen into debt were treated, he founded CFO Advisers, which created debtor-centric teams in several states to service up to a half billion in receivables annually.  Jerry is the author of the recent "End Medical Debt: Curing America's $1 Trillion Unpayable Medical Debt," and his organization's website is RIPMedicalDebt.org, which provides details for donating and helping people understand ways to relieve themselves from the burden of medical debt. 

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February 7, 2019  

Eating Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (France), February 2, 2019 

 

To investigate the association between organic food consumption and cancer risk in a large prospective study

This was a prospective cohort study of 68,946 French adults who reported their frequency of organic food consumption. Volunteers were asked to provide information on their consumption frequency of 16 organic products (fruits; vegetables; soy-based products; dairy products; meat and fish; eggs; grains and legumes; bread and cereals; flour; vegetable oils and condiments; ready-to-eat meals; coffee, tea, and herbal tea; wine; biscuits, chocolate, sugar, and marmalade; other foods; and dietary supplements). Dietary intake was assessed using three 24-hour records randomly allocated over a 2-week period, including 2 weekdays and 1 weekend day. Participants were followed for a mean of 4.5 years.

The data were adjusted for confounding factors such as sociodemographics, lifestyle, and dietary patterns. Baseline age, sex, occupation, educational level, marital status, monthly income per household, number of children, and smoking status were collected.

Participants self-declared health events through a yearly health status questionnaire or an interface on the study website. Medical records were obtained for more than 90% of self-reported cancer cases. The French national health insurance system database and the French mortality epidemiology database were used to collect and verify reported health records and mortality data.

Participants

There were 68,946 participants, 78% of whom were female. Mean age at beginning of the study was 44.2 years.

Study Parameters Assessed

The authors assessed both the frequency of organic food consumption and the quality of the food consumed; quality of the diet was based on nutrient density.

An organic food score was computed based on the participant reports, ranging from 0 to 32 points. Consumption frequencies were reported with the following options: (1) most of the time; (2) occasionally; (3) never “too expensive”; (4) never “product not available”; (5) never “I’m not interested in organic products”; (6) never “I avoid such products”; (7) never “for no specific reason”; and (8) I don’t know.

Nutrient intake was derived from the self-reported diet diaries and was calculated using the NutriNet-Santé food composition table. To assess dietary quality, these intake values were compared to the official French nutritional guidelines.

Outcome Measures

The primary outcome measure was the number of incident cancer cases in the follow-up period.

Key Findings

A total of 1,340 first incident cancer cases were identified during follow-up; the most prevalent were breast cancer (459; 34.3%), prostate cancer (180; 13.4%), skin cancer (135; 10.1%), colorectal cancer (99; 7.4%), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (47; 3.5%), and other lymphomas (15; 1.1%). High organic food scores were inversely associated with the overall risk of cancer (hazard ratio for the fourth quartile compared to the first quartile, 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.63-0.88; P for trend=0.001; absolute risk reduction, 0.6%; hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.92; 95% CI: 0.88-0.96).

Higher organic food scores were linearly and inversely associated with the overall risk of cancer. Significant risk reduction was seen for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.75; CI: 0.6-0.93; P=0.009) and for other lymphomas (hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.75; CI: 0.6-0.93; P=0.03). There were trends of risk reduction for post-menopausal breast cancer (hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.91; CI: 0.83-1.01; P=0.07), and skin cancer (hazard ratio for a 5-point increase, 0.89: CI: 0.78-1.01; P=0.06).

Accounting for other additional dietary factors did not modify the factors.

Higher organic food scores were positively associated with female sex, monthly income, education level, physical activity, and former smoking status. Higher organic food scores were also associated with a healthier diet rich in fiber, vegetable proteins, and micronutrients (ie, a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes), and with a lower intake of processed meat, other meat, poultry, and milk.

 

Being kind to yourself has mental and physical benefits, research shows

University of Exeter, February 6, 2019

 

Taking time to think kind thoughts about yourself and loved ones has psychological and physical benefits, new research suggests.

A study by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford has found that taking part in self-compassion exercises calms the heart rate, switching off the body's threat response. Previous studies have shown that this threat response damages the immune system. Researchers believe the ability to switch off this response may lower the risk of disease.

In the study, published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, 135 healthy University of Exeter students were divided into five groups, and members of each group heard a different set of audio instructions. The team took physical measurements of heart rate and sweat response, and asked participants to report how they were feeling. Questions included how safe they felt, how likely they were to be kind to themselves and how connected they felt to others.

The two groups whose instructions encouraged them to be kind to themselves not only reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others, but also showed a bodily response consistent with feelings of relaxation and safety. Their heart rates dropped and the variation in length of time between heartbeats - a healthy sign of a heart that can respond flexibly to situations. They also showed lower sweat response.

Meanwhile, instructions that induced a critical inner voice led to an increased heart rate and a higher sweat response - consistent with feelings of threat and distress.

First author Dr Hans Kirschner, who conducted the research at Exeter, said: "These findings suggest that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important for regeneration and healing."

Lead researcher Dr Anke Karl, of the University of Exeter, said: "Previous research has found that self-compassion was related to higher levels of wellbeing and better mental health, but we didn't know why.

"Our study is helping us understand the mechanism of how being kind to yourself when things go wrong could be beneficial in psychological treatments. By switching off our threat response, we boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance of healing. We hope future research can use our method to investigate this in people with mental health problems such as recurrent depression."

The recordings that encouraged self-compassion were a "compassionate body scan" in which people were guided to attend to bodily sensations with an attitude of interest and calmness; and a "self-focused loving kindness exercise" in which they directed kindness and soothing thoughts to a loved one and themselves.

The three other groups listened to recordings designed to induce a critical inner voice, put them into a "positive but competitive and self-enhancing mode", or an emotionally neutral shopping scenario.

All the audio recordings were 11 minutes long.

While people in both the self-compassion and positive but competitive groups reported greater self-compassion and decreased self-criticism, only the self-compassion groups showed the positive bodily response.

The signs of this were reduced sweat response and heart rate slowed by two to three beats per minute on average, compared to the groups listening to critical voice recordings. The self-kindness groups also showed increased hear rate variability - a sign of a healthy heart that is able to adapt to a range of situations.

Co-author Willem Kuyken, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford, said: "These findings help us to further understand some of our clinical trials research findings, where we show that individuals with recurrent depression benefit particularly from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy when they learn to become more self-compassionate.

"My sense is that for people prone to depression, meeting their negative thoughts and feelings with compassion is a radically different way - that these thoughts are not facts.

"It introduces a different way of being and knowing that is quite transformative for many people."

The researchers now plan to extend their research by studying the physiological responses in individuals with recurrent depression.

The researchers stress that the study was conducted in healthy people, so their findings do not mean that people with depression would experience the same improvements from one-off exercises. They did not investigate another important feature of self-compassion, the ability to directly repair mood or distress. Further research is necessary to address these two open points.

 

Vitamin D helps treat lethal drug-resistant TB

Queen Mary University at London, February 6, 2019

 

Vitamin D has been found to speed up the clearance of tuberculosis (TB) bacteria from the lungs of people with multi-drug resistant TB, according to a study of 1,850 patients receiving antibiotic treatment, led by Queen Mary University of London.

Lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau from Queen Mary University of London said: "Multi-drug resistant TB is on the rise globally. It's notoriously difficult to treat, and it carries a much worse prognosis than standard TB.

"Our study raises the possibility that vitamin D - which is very safe and inexpensive - could benefit this hard-to-treat group of patients by taking a novel approach to their treatment. By adding vitamin D to antibiotic treatment, we can boost the immune system to help the body to clear TB bugs, rather than relying on antibiotics on their own to kill the bacteria directly.

"This is a novel approach, as it contrasts with the conventional tactic of developing new antibiotics in an attempt to 'keep up' with the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria - an arms race that is proving hard for us to win."

The World Health Organisation estimates that 10.0 million people developed active tuberculosis in 2017, and that 1.6 million people died of this disease. Multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB is caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB drugs, causing around 500,000 cases and 150,000 deaths per year worldwide. Existing antibiotic treatments for MDR TB are lengthy, costly and often toxic due to their serious side effects.

Vitamin D has shown potential in boosting the immune system, but randomised controlled trials of vitamin D in TB treatment have yielded conflicting results.

In the new study, published in European Respiratory Journal, the research team pooled data from 1,850 TB patients who took part in clinical trials of vitamin D in eight countries (the UK, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Republic of Georgia and Guinea Bissau). They then ran an analysis to see whether there were particular groups of patients who responded better to vitamin D than others.

When added to antibiotic treatment, vitamin D was found to accelerate TB clearance specifically in patients with MDR TB, even though no acceleration of TB clearance was seen when looking at the entire study population as a whole.

The vitamin D supplementation was also found to be safe at the doses administered, with no links to serious adverse events.

The researchers say these results illustrate the potential for so-called 'host-directed therapies' - treatments that boost the immune system - to improve outcomes in patients with drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The researchers caution that the analysis is not sufficient on its own to justify a clinical recommendation of the use of vitamin D in the treatment of MDR TB, as it is based on a relatively small number of participants. However, they say these results now provide a rationale to carry out new clinical trials to see if vitamin D really can benefit patients who are taking standard antibiotics for MDR TB.

The findings add to a growing list of health benefits for the 'sunshine vitamin'. While vitamin D is best known for its effects on bone health, previous studies by Queen Mary researchers have revealed its role in protecting against colds, flu, asthma attacks, and last month, that it can protect COPD patients from deadly lung attacks.

 
 

Curcumin for Cognitive Function in Aging Adults

UCLA Longevity Center, February 5, 2019

 

Randomized, double-blind, 2-group parallel design comparing placebo to proprietary form of curcumin (Theracurmin)

To assess whether a proprietary curcumin formula has a measurable effect on cognitive performance in older adults without frank dementia.

Forty-six adults aged 50 to 90 years with objective cognitive performance scores and clinical histories consistent with normal aging or mild neurocognitive disorder and inconsistent with dementia (major neurocognitive disorder) were randomized to receive curcumin or placebo; all agreed to participate for the entire study duration (18 months), had adequate visual and auditory acuity for neuropsychological testing, and had screening laboratory tests and electrocardiograms that did not show significant medical abnormalities that might interfere with the study. A total of 40 participants (age 51-84 years; 21 in the experimental group and 19 in the placebo group) ultimately completed the trial and were included in the data analysis.

The experimental group took Theracurmin (containing 90 mg of curcumin) twice a day (ie, 180 mg curcumin/day) for 18 months.

The following tests were used to assess cognitive performance:

  • Verbal performance—Buschke Selective Reminding Test (SRT)
  • Visual performance—Brief Visual Memory Test-Revised (BVMT-R)
  • Attention—Trail Making A (secondary outcome measure)

To assess brain effects, investigators used a specific type of positron emission tomography (PET) scan that provides in vivo images of brain plaques and tangles: 2-(1-{6-[(2-[F-18]fluoroethyl)(methyl)amino]-2-naphthyl}ethylidene)malononitrile positron emission tomography (FDDNP-PET). Thirty participants, 15 in the intervention group and 15 in the placebo group, completed the FDDNP-PET testing.

All assessments were performed at baseline (before intervention) and at the end of the 18-month intervention.

Outcome Measures

Improvement in cognitive performance tests from baseline; changes in brain amyloid and tau accumulation as determined by PET testing (for 30 participants) from baseline.

Key Findings

Significant differences between groups were seen on a number of the tests. Long-term memory retrieval improved in the curcumin group but not in the placebo group. Total long-term memory recall, visual memory, and attention also improved significantly in the curcumin group, with no significant improvement in the placebo group. The FDDNP testing showed significantly decreased binding in the amygdala in participants on curcumin compared to those on placebo. (Higher FDDNP binding values have been positively associated with dementia.) In the hypothalamus, FDDNP binding did not change with curcumin but increased with placebo

 

NSAID impairs immune response in heart failure, worsens heart and kidney damage

University of Alabama Birmingham, February 6, 2019

 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are widely known as pain-killers and can relieve pain and inflammation. However, prolonged use raises the risk of heart and kidney failure events. A heart attack causes death of heart muscle cells by lack of oxygen, and it also significantly injures the kidneys.

To understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of action that damage the heart and kidneys at the same time -- known as cardiorenal syndrome -- University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers pretreated animals with the NSAID carprofen in a mouse-heart attack model. Basic research on heart disease is needed because heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ganesh Halade, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB Department of Medicine's Division of Cardiovascular Disease, wanted to see if carprofen affected either of the two steps the immune system takes to repair heart attack damage. First is an immediate acute inflammation, where leukocytes rush into heart muscle to remove dead cells and cell debris. Second is the subsequent resolution phase to dampen the excess inflammation caused by those activated leukocytes, which otherwise would further damage the heart and kidneys.

In a study published in the journal Life Sciences, Halade and colleagues found that carprofen treatment alone triggered subtle low-grade inflammation in the heart and kidneys. The combination of carprofen pretreatment and heart attack magnified this impact by dysregulating the acute inflammatory response, amplifying inflammation and intensifying the cardiorenal syndrome.

Specifically, the UAB researchers first found that carprofen without heart attack triggered kidney inflammation, as measured by increased levels of plasma creatinine, NGAL and KIM-1, all biomarkers of kidney injury. They also found inflamed proximal convoluted tubules and compromised glomerular structure integrity in the kidneys.

Second, they found that carprofen without heart attack caused increased levels of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta, and increased levels of the enzyme COX-2, which normally is induced at the start of the inflammation process after injury to produce chemoattractants that recruit immune cells. The carprofen also induced the protein MRC-1 prior to injury. MRC-1 is involved in the resolution of inflammation, suggesting that both the acute inflammation phase and the resolution of inflammation phase are falsely activated during carprofen pretreatment before any heart injury.

Third, when the pretreatment with carprofen was followed by heart attack, the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1-beta decreased, rather than increasing as they do in response to heart attacks without carprofen pretreatment. KIM-1 showed a similar dysfunction -- it stayed at similar levels at both pre- and post-heart attack after carprofen pretreatment, rather than increasing as it does in response to a heart attack without carprofen pretreatment. This KIM-1 dysfunction led to less clearance of dead cells from the heart. Also, carprofen pretreatment and heart attack amplified subsequent kidney tissue damage, as compared with kidney damage after heart attack alone.

 

Mountain ginseng found to have immunostimulating, antioxidant, anticancer and anti-aging properties

Kyung Hee University (S Korea), February 6, 2019  

There are many kinds of ancient Chinese medicine that are known to be effective yet still not commonly understood. One example of this is the root of mountain ginseng (Panax ginseng Meyer), which is popular for its enhanced pharmacological-like properties. Although known for its many benefits, most people do not think of it as a readily available item mainly because of its expensive price tag. At the same time, it is also quite scarce, which makes it a bit inaccessible for potential users who could benefit from it.

Fortunately, there are known alternatives for it. In particular, cultured roots from mountain ginseng tissue have been identified as viable replacements for larger and cheaper production of the highly sought-after ginseng roots. With this in mind, a team of researchers worked on finding out exactly how effective these alternative materials can be when it came to providing similar benefits.

A new study titled, “Novel application of cultured roots of mountain ginseng and ginsenoside Re as safe antimelanogenic cosmeceutical components,” was authored by a team of researchers who worked together to determine the effects of the water extract of cultured roots of mountain ginseng (CRMG) and its major compound ginsenoside Re (Re) on melanin synthesis in ?-MSH-stimulated mouse melanoma B16BL6 cells (B16). That is to say, how it might affect the well-being of individuals who use them in certain amounts.

What the researchers found was that both CRMG and Re possess potential melanogenic activities and can both be used as antimelanogenic cosmeceutical agents, just as their hypothesis predicted. To be more specific, the researchers performed a number of tests to determine both the adverse as well as the positive effects of the two, and later found that neither of them have any significant cytotoxic effect at 100 ?g/mL and 100 ?M respectively.

There have already been previous studies that reported on the fact that mountain ginsengand Re both have anti-cancer properties, and now the researchers are hoping to add to the growing body of evidence that supports this hypothesis. They note in their study that further studies are going to be necessary to provide conclusive proof.

For now, the consensus is as it always has been: Ginseng has some risks as a supplement, but does indeed offer a long list of health benefits. Some of the more well-known positive effects of taking ginseng including getting a boost of energy, improved mental focus and brain function, cancer prevention, improved performance in the bedroom, enhanced activity of the immune system, lower blood sugar levels, weight control, and even the alleviation of menstrual pain.

Ginseng wouldn’t have survived as a supplement for literally several thousand years if it weren’t truly effective. People have been taking it for many centuries now and it is still being referred to as a very effective tool for improving individual moods, boosting overall health, and creating a much better sense of overall well-being.

Of course, as a supplement, ginseng is only meant to be taken if it is something that works with your past or present medical condition. For that reason, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for advice before taking ginseng or any other supplements. That way, you can make sure that you enjoy all of the health benefits without running into any issues afterward.

 

Heavy drinking in teens causes lasting changes in emotional center of brain

University of Illinois, February 6, 2019

 

Binge drinking in adolescence has been shown to have lasting effects on the wiring of the brain and is associated with increased risk for psychological problems and alcohol use disorder later in life.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics have shown that some of these lasting changes are the result of epigenetic changes that alter the expression of a protein crucial for the formation and maintenance of neural connections in the amygdala -- the part of the brain involved in emotion, fear and anxiety. Their results, which are based on the analysis of postmortem human brain tissue, are published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Epigenetics refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. Epigenetic modifications are involved in the normal development of the brain, but they can be influenced by environmental or even social factors, such as alcohol and stress. These kinds of epigenetic alterations have been linked to changes in behavior and disease.

The researchers looked at postmortem human amygdala tissue obtained from the New South Wales Brain Tissue Resource Center in Sydney, Australia. The amygdala is the part of the brain involved in emotional regulation. The specimens were from the brains of 11 individuals who started drinking heavily before the age of 21 or early-onset drinkers; 11 individuals who started drinking seriously after the age of 21, known as late-onset drinkers; and 22 individuals with no history of alcohol use disorder. The average age of death of the individuals from whom the samples were taken was 58 years old for those without alcohol use disorder; 55 years old for early-onset drinkers; and 59 for late-onset drinkers.

Amygdalae of individuals who were early-onset drinkers had about 30 percent more of a molecule called BDNF-AS, a large non-coding RNA. Usually, RNA is involved in the production of proteins from DNA, but this one is not. BDNF-AS regulates a gene that produces a protein called BDNF. This protein is a growth factor and is crucial for the normal formation and maintenance of synapses throughout the brain. When there is more BDNF-AS, there is less BDNF. The brain tissue of early-onset drinkers had 30 percent to 40 percent less BDNF compared with brain tissue from people with no history of alcohol use disorder. This reduction in BDNF was not seen in brain samples from late-onset drinkers or from people with no alcohol use disorder.

Subhash Pandey, professor of psychiatry and director of the UIC Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics, and corresponding author on the paper, believes that epigenetic changes to BDNF-AS are the reason BDNF is lower in the amygdalae from people who started drinking early in life. In the amygdala from people who started drinking after age 21, there were no such changes.

"BDNF is needed for normal development in the brain and for connections to form between neurons," said Pandey, who is also a senior research career scientist at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago. "If levels are lowered due to alcohol exposure, then the brain will not develop normally, and we see that in these brain samples where there are abnormalities in another synaptic gene, Arc, possibly making abnormal connections between neurons."

Pandey and his colleagues found that the increase in BDNF-AS in the early-onset drinkers is caused by decreased methylation of BDNF-AS. Methylation is a type of epigenetic change where a molecule containing a methyl group is added to another molecule and results in a change in genetic expression. The decreased methylation of BDNF-AS is believed to be caused by early-onset drinking and appears to be a long-lasting change.

"The epigenetic changes we saw in the amygdala of early-onset drinkers can alter the normal function of the amygdala, which helps regulate our emotions, and may cause individuals to be more susceptible for things like anxiety, which we have shown in other studies, or the development and maintenance of alcohol use disorder later in life," Pandey said.

 

 

Architect shares his experience of how magnet therapy cured his OCD

Daily Mail, November 17, 2019

 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be challenging to deal with, especially for sufferers. Scientists have not yet fully understood the underlying causes of the condition, although they have said that it could be a brain dysfunction.

However, an architect has reportedly been cured of OCD – all thanks to magnets.

In an interview, Alex Jones, a 46-year old architect from England, had been battling with OCD for over 28 years. During these times, he went around his day thinking that he had harmed others because of his actions – which has led Alex even to imagine that he had run people over with his car or beaten up strangers.

The thoughts would haunt his mind throughout the day. This would cause him great anxiety and stress, and sometimes, he would retrace his steps to check if there were any “victims” of his actions. This behavior, which included washing his hands for up to 50 times a day, put a burden on his relationship with his wife, Paulette.

After his OCD brought him to a nervous breakdown, he discovered magnetic pulse theory soon after, and he claimed to feel like a “normal person” after the first transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) session.

According to him, “I had experienced these obsessive, intrusive thoughts since I was a teenager. They were pretty much constant. I was in a perpetual state of anxiety, and it was really mentally draining, and hard on my wife too. But then after leaving the clinic after mt first TMS session, I felt like a completely ‘normal’ person.”

Running out of options, Alex visited a TMS clinic in London in July 2017 and was amazed at the results. He claims that he went to the clinic after being anxious around people, thinking that he would harm them. However, after a 30-minute session at the clinic, he felt that his mind has been cleared of all those impulses that gave him a hard time. After two sessions, he claims to be symptom-free, except a minor relapse.

Fast facts on TMS

TMS is defined as “a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression.” The method is typically used for depression treatment when forms are already ineffective.

When a person undergoes a TMS session, electromagnetic coils are placed around the person’s scalp, near the forehead. The coils will then deliver a painless magnetic pulse that will stimulate the nerves in the person’s brain region that affects mood and depression. Moreover, TMS is believed to trigger parts of the brain that have diminished function because of depression. 

It is also known as rTMS since the pulses emitted are repetitive.

As TMS is a non-invasive way to stimulate your brain, there are no risks for this therapy, as against other conventional forms which require surgery or implants. Moreover, it does not cause any seizure or require sedation with anesthesia.

Some side effects that may occur after TMS are noted to be mild to moderate and may decrease over time. These would include headaches, scalp discomfort, lightheadedness, and some tingling in the facial muscles.

Earlier studies have already found TMS to be effective in providing relief for people who suffer from tinnitus, with more than 50 percent of the samples felt a significant improvement.

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February 6, 2019  

CONVERSATIONS WITH GREAT MINDS

US support for a coup in Venezuela and its international violations

Prof. Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois Law School with a long career as an anti-war activist and upholder of human rights. He has served as a counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and was a legal advisor to the Palestinian delegation during the Middle East Peace negotiations from 1991 to 1993.  Prof. Boyle has served on the board of directors of Amnesty International, and the Council for Responsible Genetics.  He drafted the legislation for what became the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act in 1989 which was signed into law by the first Bush administration, served on the Board of Amnesty International and represented Bosnia-Herzegovina at the World Court.  He has been a strong opponent of the current Afghan and Iraq wars, and was an advocate for bringing international arrest warrants against George W Bush-Cheney and Obama administrations.    Prof.Boyle has published numerous papers in law reviews and many books.  His most book is "Poems Against Empire" -- which captures his half-century of reflections during his career on the forefront of fighting for peace, justice, human rights and international law. 

00:0000:00
February 5, 2019  

Death by Medicine, Revisited – Part III

Death by Medicine, Revisited – Part III
by Gary Null, PhD.; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Carolyn Dean, MD, ND; edited by Helen Buyniski

Medically Induced Death: The Equivalent of Seven Jumbo Jets Falling Out of the Sky Each Day

Never before have complete statistics on the multiple causes of iatrogenesis been combined in one book. Medical science amasses tens of thousands of papers annually, each representing a tiny fragment of the whole picture. To look at only one piece and try to understand the benefits and risks is like standing an inch away from an elephant and trying to describe everything about it. You have to step back to see the big picture, as we have done here. Each specialty, each division of medicine, keeps its own records and data on morbidity and mortality. We have now completed the painstaking work of reviewing thousands of studies and putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Is American Medicine Working?

US healthcare spending reached $3.5 trillion in 2017, representing 18% of the nation’s gross national product.1 Considering this enormous expenditure, we should have the best medicine in the world. We should be preventing and reversing disease, and doing minimal harm. Careful and objective review, however, shows we are doing the opposite. Because of the extraordinarily narrow, technologically driven context in which contemporary medicine examines the human condition, we are completely missing the larger picture.

Medicine is not taking into consideration the following critically important aspects of a healthy human organism:
■ stress, and how it adversely affects the immune system and life processes;
■ insufficient exercise;
■ excessive calorie intake;
■ highly processed and denatured foods, grown in denatured and chemically damaged soil; and
■ exposure to tens of thousands of environmental toxins.

Instead of minimizing these disease-causing factors, we cause more illness through medical technology, diagnostic testing, overuse of medical and surgical procedures, and overuse of pharmaceutical drugs. The huge disservice of this therapeutic strategy is the result of little effort or money being spent on preventing disease, as evidenced by efforts to curtail use of effective vitamins and supplements.

Then-Congressional Budget Director Peter Orszag made headlines in 2009 when he claimed the US spends $700 billion on unnecessary medical tests. “The unreasonably high cost of healthcare in the United States is a deeply entrenched problem that must be attacked at its root,” he wrote in a Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) report.2 Researchers have demonstrated that if anything, he didn’t go far enough: a Reuters report released later that year found the number could be closer to $850 billion,3 while a 2012 RAND Corporation study found that up to $1.263 trillion of healthcare spending was wasted yearly.4 In addition to administrative complexity, pricing and delivery failures, and out-and-out fraud, “overtreatment” tops these reports’ list of what’s causing the waste. Moreover,

“Some medical experts say the American devotion to the newest, most expensive technology is an important reason that the United States spends much more on healthcare than other industrialized nations. . . without providing better care. [A] Rand Corporation study estimated that one- third or more of the care that patients in this country receive could be of lit- tle value. If that is so, hundreds of billions of dollars each year are being wasted on superfluous treatments.
[There is] a much larger trend in American medicine…A faith in innovation, often driven by [quick] financial incentives, encourages American doctors and hospitals to adopt new technologies even without proof that they work better than older techniques…The problem is not that newer treatments never work. It is that once they become available, [too often prematurely,] they are often used indiscriminately, in the absence of studies to determine which patients they will benefit…And sometimes, the new technologies prove harmful. [Some] doctors in private practice who own their [CT] scanners, use the tests aggressively . . . [as if it were] a new toy in the office5

—endangering asymptomatic patients for whom the scan may be inappropriate.

Health Insurance

To determine whether american medicine is working, we also need to know if enough people have access to the American healthcare system. About 28 million Americans, or 15.5 percent of the population under the age of 65, were without health insurance in 2017, the latest government data available.”6 7

The number of uninsured children in 2017 was 3.9 million—5 percent of all children in the US.8 The large majority of the uninsured (69.2 percent) are native or naturalized citizens.9

The number of uninsured rose 4 million between 2016 and 2018, creeping back up after the steady decline set in motion by the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.10

A study found that 28 percent of working adults who had health insurance were “underinsured” with coverage so meager they often postponed medical care because of costs. Nearly 50 percent overall, and 52 percent of people with health coverage said they had medical bill problems, and 45 percent had foregone needed healthcare due to costs. More than 56 percent of the underinsured receive their coverage through an employer. Nearly half (47 percent) of those who had problems paying their medical bills had used up their savings doing so, and 40 percent said they received a lower credit rating because of those bills.11

Compounding the problem is the issue of insurance fraud. When doctors bill for services they do not render, advise unnecessary tests, or screen everyone for a rare condition, they are committing insurance fraud. The US GAO estimated that $36.7 billion was lost to fraudulent or unnecessary claims in 2017,12 and reclaimed $2.6 billion in judgments that year.13

Underreporting of Iatrogenic Events

As little as 5% and no more than 20% of iatrogenic events are ever reported.14 15 16 17 This implies that if medical errors were completely and accurately reported, we would have an annual iatrogenic death toll much higher than the 987,507 figure we arrived at earlier. In 1994, Leape said his figure of 180,000 medical mistakes resulting in death annually was equivalent to three jumbo jet crashes every two days.18 Our considerably higher figure is equivalent to seven jumbo jets falling out of the sky each day.

What we must deduce from this report is that medicine is in need of complete and total reform—from the curriculum in medical schools to protecting patients from excessive medical intervention. It is obvious that we cannot change anything if we are not honest about what needs to be changed. This report simply shows the degree to which change is required.

We are fully aware of what stands in the way of change: powerful pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, along with other powerful groups with enormous vested interests in the business of medicine. They fund medical research, support medical schools and hospitals, and advertise in medical journals. With deep pockets, they entice scientists and academics to support their efforts. Such funding can sway the balance of opinion from professional caution to uncritical acceptance of new therapies and drugs. You have only to look at the people who make up the hospital, medical, and government health advisory boards to see conflicts of interest.

For example, a 2003 study found that nearly half of medical school faculty who serve on institutional review boards (IRBs) to advise on clinical trial research also serve as consultants to the pharmaceutical industry.19 The study authors were concerned that such representation could cause potential conflicts of interest. In a news release, Dr. Erik Campbell, the lead author, wrote, “Our previous research with faculty has shown us that ties to industry can affect scientific behavior, leading to such things as trade secrecy and delays in publishing research. It’s possible that similar relationships with companies could affect IRB members’ activities and attitudes.”20 The public is mostly unaware of these interlocking interests.

A 2014 study examining the prevalence of IRB members with life science industry connections found about a third (32.1 percent) had some kind of industry relationship. One in ten respondents felt pressure from their department or institution to approve a protocol, and a quarter of respondents admitted to voting on a protocol even when they had a conflict of interest.21

Government medical advisors play a role in adequate reporting of iatrogenic events. The FDA announced in March 2007:

“Expert advisers to the government who receive money from a drug or device maker would be barred for the first time from voting on whether to approve that company’s products under new rules . . . for the FDA’s powerful advisory committees. Indeed, such doctors who receive more than $50,000 from a company or a competitor whose product is being discussed would no longer be allowed to serve on the committees, though those who receive less than that amount in the prior year can join a committee and participate in its discussions. A “significant number” of
the agency’s present advisers would be affected by the new policy, said the FDA acting deputy commissioner, Randall W. Lutter, though he would not say how many.”22

The First Study of Iatrogenesis

Dr. Lucian Leape opened medicine’s Pandora’s box in his 1994 paper, “Error in Medicine,” which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He noted that Schimmel reported in 1964 that 20% of hospital patients suffered iatrogenic injury, with a 20% fatality rate. In 1981, Steel reported that 36% of hospitalized patients experienced iatrogenesis, with a 25% fatality rate, and adverse drug reactions were involved in 50% of the injuries. In 1991, Bedell reported that 64% of acute heart attacks in one hospital were preventable and were mostly due to adverse drug reactions.23

Leape focused on a Harvard Medical Practice Study published in 1991 which found a 4% iatrogenic injury rate for patients, with a 14% fatality rate, in 1984 in New York State.24

From the 98,609 patients injured and the 14% fatality rate, he estimated that in the entire US, 180,000 people die each year partly as a result of iatrogenic injury.

Why Leape chose to use the much lower figure of 4% injury for his analysis remains in question. Using instead the average of the rates found in the three studies he cites (36%, 20%, and 4%) would have produced a 20% medical error rate. The number of iatrogenic deaths using an average rate of injury and his 14% fatality rate would be 1,189,576.

Leape acknowledged that the literature on medical errors is sparse and represents only the tip of the iceberg, noting that when errors are specifically sought out, reported rates are “distressingly high.” He cited several autopsy studies with rates as high as 35–40% of missed diagnoses causing death. He also noted that an intensive care unit reported an average of 1.7 errors per day per patient, and 29% of those errors were potentially serious or fatal.

Leape calculated the error rate in the intensive care unit study. First, he found that each patient had an average of 178 “activities” (staff/ procedure/medical interactions) a day, of which
1.7 were errors, which means a 1% failure rate. This may not seem like much, but Leape cited industry standards showing that in aviation, a 0.1% failure rate would mean two unsafe plane landings per day at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport; in the US Postal Service, a 0.1% failure rate would mean 16,000 pieces of lost mail every hour; and in the banking industry, a 0.1% failure rate would mean 32,000 bank checks deducted from the wrong bank account.

At the same time, Leape acknowledged the lack of reporting of medical errors. Medical errors occur in thousands of different locations and are perceived as isolated and unusual events. But the most important reason that the problem of medical errors is unrecognized and growing, according to Leape, is that doctors and nurses are unequipped to deal with human error because of the culture of medical training and practice.

Doctors are taught that mistakes are unacceptable. Medical mistakes are therefore viewed as a failure of character and any error equals negligence. No one is taught what to do when medical errors do occur. Leape cites McIntyre and Popper, who said the “infallibility model” of medicine leads to intellectual dishonesty with a need to cover up mistakes rather than admit them.

There are no Grand Rounds on medical errors, no sharing of failures among doctors, and no one to support them emotionally when their error harms a patient. Leape hoped his paper would encourage medical practitioners “to fundamentally change the way they think about errors and why they occur.”

It has been more than two decades since this groundbreaking work, but the mistakes continue to pile up, and it’s debatable whether methods for detecting and tracking them have improved.

In a 2017 survey conducted by the University of Chicago in partnership with the Lucian Leape Institute, more than one fifth of Americans reported they had personally experienced a medical error, and 31% reported they had been involved in caring for someone who experienced an error. The most commonly-cited reason for the error given (out of a list of 23 factors) was “healthcare providers who do not pay attention to detail.” The most common errors involved diagnoses, with 59% of respondents reporting either a failure to diagnose, an incorrect diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. Even then, only 45% of those who experienced an error notified medical personnel! Asked how patient safety had improved over the past five years, 39% of respondents said it had stayed the same, and 29% reported improvement, but 12% claimed it had gotten worse.25

A 2008 study found as many as half of adverse events reported by patients did not make it into their hospital charts,26 while another conducted that year found patients were aware of three times as many medical errors in their treatment as doctors had recorded in their charts.27

As of 2017, studies continue to find that less than 10% of medical errors are reported.28 This number varies depending on the specialty – a 2008 study found that almost two thirds of cardiologists had recently refused to report a serious error they had direct personal knowledge of to an authority. 29

The Patient and Family Relations error reporting model has shown some promise, providing a novel perspective and valuable context by soliciting “second opinions” from those close to the patient. PFR reports demonstrated little overlap with standard error-reporting models when compared to AHRQ reporting in a 2017 study.30

Leape’s own NPSF recommends the creation of “safety data sets” at multiple levels – department, institution, system, state, and national – to catch errors and identify their cause.31

Dr. John T. James, whose 2013 paper in the Journal of Patient Safety calculated 440,000 deaths yearly from inpatient medical errors, founded his own patient advocacy group, Patient Safety America, after losing his son to medical incompetence in 2002. PSA lobbies for a “Patient Bill of Rights” – a dramatic expansion of informed consent in which patients are entitled to absolute transparency regarding their medical records, itemized and fully explained billing, the track record of the facility and doctors treating them, and the success rate of any procedure or drug treatment (as well as its possible adverse effects).32

Only a Fraction of Medical Errors Are Reported

“If the medical system were a bank, you wouldn’t deposit your money here, because there would be an error every one-in-two to one-in-three times you made a transaction.”
— Stephen Persell, MD, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine33

In 1994, Leape said he was well aware that medical errors were not being reported.34 A study conducted in two obstetrical units in the UK found that only about one quarter of adverse incidents were ever reported, to protect staff, preserve reputations, or for fear of reprisals, including lawsuits.35

An analysis by Wald and Shojania found that only 1.5% of all adverse events result in an incident report, and only 6% of adverse drug events are identified properly. The authors learned that the American College of Surgeons estimates that surgical incident reports routinely capture only 5–30% of adverse events. In one study, only 20% of surgical complications resulted in discussion at morbidity and mortality rounds.36 From these studies, it appears that all the statistics gathered on medical errors may substantially underestimate the number of adverse drug and medical therapy incidents. They also suggest that our statistics concerning mortality resulting from medical errors may be in fact conservative figures.

An article in Psychiatric Times (April 2000) outlines the stakes involved in reporting medical errors. The authors found that the public is fearful of suffering a fatal medical error, and doctors are afraid they will be sued if they report an error.37 This brings up the obvious question: who is reporting medical errors? Usually it is the patient or the patient’s surviving family. If no one notices the error, it is never reported. Janet Heinrich, an associate director at the US General Accountability Office responsible for health financing and public health issues, testified before a House subcommittee hearing on medical errors that “the full magnitude of their threat to the American public is unknown” and “gathering valid and useful information about adverse events is extremely difficult.” She acknowledged that the fear of being blamed, and the potential for legal liability, played key roles in the underreporting of errors.

The Psychiatric Times noted that the AMA strongly opposes mandatory reporting of medical errors.38 If doctors are not reporting, what about nurses? A survey of nurses found that they also fail to report medical mistakes for fear of retaliation.39

Indeed, a 2008 study of the reporting practices of hospital personnel found that more than half of error reports came from “other hospital employees” that were not doctors or nurses. Doctors were more likely to report more severe adverse events, but their reports comprised only 1.1 percent of the total.40

No Improvement in Error Reporting

A 2003 survey is all the more distressing because there seemed to be no improvement in error reporting, even with all the attention given to this topic following the publication of Leape’s study and the Institute of Medicine’s widely-published “To Err is Human” report. Dr. Dorothea Wild surveyed medical residents at a community hospital in Connecticut and found that only half were aware that the hospital even had a medical error-reporting system, and that the vast majority did not use it at all. Dr. Wild says this does not bode well for the future. If doctors do not learn error reporting in their training, they will never use it. Wild adds that error reporting is the first step in locating the gaps in the medical system and fixing them.41

Peer-review error reporting systems can and do fail spectacularly, as was the case at Redding Medical Center from 1992 to 2002. A 2008 investigation revealed that the directors of the cardiology and cardiac surgery programs at the hospital completely blocked peer review in those programs, permitting at least 600 patients to undergo unnecessary bypass and valve surgery – procedures which caused hundreds of injuries and deaths. Redding’s unusually high rates of coronary bypass operations and catheterizations were known to both federal and state officials and even reported annually in the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, and outside physicians had filed seven complaints with the California Medical Board based on findings from patients mistreated at Redding Medical Center, yet it was not until a “skeptical heart patient” contacted the FBI independently that anyone bothered to investigate.

In their report to Congress on the Redding disaster, Drs. Gerald Rogan, Frank Sebat and Ian Grady denounced the hospital peer-review process and associated legal checks and balances as “so riddled with crippling flaws and the legislation governing the federal and state regulatory agencies so inadequate that prompt amendment of laws and regulations to protect the public is imperative.” Rogan and his colleagues claimed in their report that existing peer review processes actually penalize reviewers, who lose referrals (and trust) from colleagues they review negatively and may be blackballed by hospital administration if a doctor they review negatively is a strong revenue generator.

Analyzing the National Practitioner Data Bank, they found that peer review’s failure was so pervasive that moderate- and high-culpability physician events were eight times more likely to be reported through malpractice awards than through peer review actions! Lawsuits from damaged patients also greatly exceeded peer review reports.

The Redding committee recommended stricter penalties for peer review failures. “Government regulators rarely revoke a hospital’s license or provider status and have no intermediate penalties to tip the balance toward peer review. For peer review to work, the penalties for not doing it must exceed the benefits […] Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must impose penalties severe enough to ensure that peer review is not profitable to suppress,” they wrote. Other suggestions included independent and/or anonymous peer review, improving communication between agencies, and the establishment of a National Patient Safety Board – a suggestion Leape has also made.42

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that a 2004 study in Pediatrics discovered that most medical errors made by nurses and physicians treating children are never reported.43 44 Dr. John T. James, whose Patient Safety America advocates for expanded transparency and accountability in medical care, says the former president of the American Board of Medical Specialties personally told him that even patients themselves are only aware of 1% of the medical errors they suffer.45 Less than 5% of patients who die in hospitals are even autopsied – doctors worry they may reveal malpractice, insurers won’t pay for them, and hospitals are not even required to offer – let alone perform – them. As a result, patients regularly take diagnostic errors with them to the grave. A 2002 AHRQ review found one in four autopsies uncovered a major error – either in diagnosis or in underlying cause of death – and 10% revealed an error that could have caused the patient’s death.46

On February 17, 2008, Indiana University School of Medicine aired a revealing radio interview with Lauris Kaldjian, MD, PhD, of the Dept. of Internal Medicine and Program in Biomedical Ethics at the University of Iowa’s Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

“Let’s say you’re a doctor—a heart surgeon. And you make a mistake. Maybe you prescribe the wrong medicine.
Maybe you cut something you’re not supposed to. And it might not be a big deal. But then again, it might. The question is: do you admit your mistake and report it to the higher ups?”
Lauris Kaldjian directs the bioethics program at the University of Iowa. According to his recent study, the answer to that question is probably no. Most doctors he surveyed agree in theory that’s it’s a good thing to report medical errors. But few actually do it.47

Public Suggestions on Iatrogenesis

In a telephone survey conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, 1,207 adults ranked the effectiveness of the following measures in reducing preventable medical errors that result in serious harm. Following each measure is the percentage of respondents who ranked the measure as “very effective.”
■ Giving doctors more time to spend with patients (78%)
■ Requiring hospitals to develop systems to avoid medical errors (74%)
■ Better training of health professionals (73%)
■ Using only doctors specially trained in intensive care medicine on intensive care units (73%)
■ Requiring hospitals to report all serious medical errors to a state agency (71%)
■ Increasing the number of hospital nurses (69%)
■ Reducing the work hours of doctors in training to avoid fatigue (66%)
■ Encouraging hospitals to voluntarily report serious medical errors to a state agency (62%)48

Various initiatives are under way to address these problems. The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 “was enacted in response to growing concern about patient safety in the United States. The goal of the Act is to improve patient safety by encouraging voluntary and confidential reporting of events that adversely affect patients.”49 The law created Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) tasked with collecting and analyzing confidential information reported by healthcare providers – groups that provided legal privilege and confidentiality protection to any information aggregated for patient safety purposes. The AHRQ reported it had listed 81 organizations as PSOs by the end of 2014. 50

A new specialty in modern medicine that is developing in part from the focus on the need for improved quality of hospital care is Hospital Medicine. It trains physicians as “hospitalists” to devote themselves to the safety of hospital patients. These would be the doctors referred to above who are “specially trained in intensive care medicine on intensive care units.” These would also be the physicians who are there to relieve doctors in training, which would allow doctors’ shifts to be reduced in order to combat fatigue and reduce errors. In 2009, The American Board of Hospital Medicine (ABHM) was founded as the first board of certification for Hospital Medicine in North America. The specialized training of “hospitalists” and the increase in their future numbers may enable them to spend more time with patients, which appears to be a priority with the public. There are also campaigns to increase the number of hospital nurses and to educate them regarding hospital errors.

A systematic review of studies focusing on nurses’ error-reporting practices found that barriers to reporting included fear of being investigated or held responsible, negative reactions from the person in charge or peers, impacts on time and workload, and a lack of understanding regarding the benefits of reporting near-misses. Many studies have recommended the adoption of anonymous, uncomplicated, and efficient reporting systems that stress the reporting of near-misses in addition to errors that cause harm as a valuable tool in reducing iatrogenesis.51 52
NOTES:

1 “American Health Care: Health Spending and the Federal Budget.” Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. 16 May 2018. http://www.crfb.org/papers/american-health-care-health-spending-and-federal-budget
2 Shafrin, J. “U.S. spends $700 billion on unnecessary medical tests.” Healthcare Economist. 7 November 2008. http://healthcare-economist.com/2008/11/07/us-spends-700-billion-on-unnecessary-medical-tests/
3 Fox, Maggie. “Healthcare system wastes up to $800 billion a year.” Reuters. 26 Oct 2009. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-healthcare-waste/healthcare-system-wastes-up-to-800-billion-a-year-idUSTRE59P0L320091026
4 Nelson, Bryn. “Healthcare’s Main Contributors to Wasteful Spending.” The Hospitalist. Jun 2015. https://www.the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/122351/healthcares-main-contributors-wasteful-spending
5 Berenson, A. and R. Abelson. “The Evidence Gap: Weighing the Costs of a CT Scan’s Look Inside the Heart.” New York Times. 29 Jun 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/business/29scan.html
6 Konrad, Walecia. “More Americans are going without health insurance.” 4 May 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-americans-are-going-without-health-insurance/
7 Berchick, Edward. “Most Uninsured Were Working-Age Adults.” US Census Bureau. 12 Sep 2018. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2018/09/who-are-the-uninsured.html
8 Scott, Dylan. “Under Trump, the number of uninsured kids is suddenly rising.” Vox. 29 Nov 2018. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/29/18116371/uninsured-rate-children-health-insurance-medicaid-trump
9 “Selected Characteristics of the Uninsured in the United States: Table S2702.” US Census Bureau. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk
10 Konrad, Walecia. “More Americans are going without health insurance.” 4 May 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-americans-are-going-without-health-insurance/
11 “Underinsured Rate Increased Sharply In 2016; More Than Two Of Five Marketplace Enrollees And A Quarter Of People With Employer Health Insurance Plans Are Now Underinsured.” Commonwealth Fund. 18 Oct 2017. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/press-release/2017/underinsured-rate-increased-sharply-2016-more-two-five-marketplace-enrollees-and
12 Dodaro, Gene L. “Actions Needed to Mitigate Billions in Improper Payments and Program Integrity Risks.” Testimony before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, US Senate. US Government Accountability Office. 27 Jun 2018. https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/692821.pdf
13 “Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice Return $2.6 Billion in Taxpayer Savings from Efforts to Fight Healthcare Fraud.” US Department of Health and Human Services. 6 Apr 2018. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2018/04/06/hhs-and-department-justice-return-26-billion-taxpayer-savings-efforts-fight-healthcare-fraud.html
14 Leape, L. L. 1994. Error in medicine. JAMA 272 (23):1851–7.
15 Levinson, Daniel R. “Hospital Incident Reporting Systems Do Not Capture Most Patient Harm.” US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Jan 2012. https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-09-00091.pdf
16 Nuckols, Teryl K. “Incident Reporting: More Attention to the Safety Action Feedback Loop, Please.” Perspectives on Safety. Sep 2011. https://psnet.ahrq.gov/perspectives/perspective/108/Incident-Reporting-More-Attention-to-the-Safety-Action-Feedback-Loop-Please
17 Classen, D.C. et.al. “Global Trigger Tool Shows That Adverse Events In Hospitals May Be Ten Times Greater Than Previously Measured.” Health Affairs. 2011:30(4):581-589. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a75a/54317e9c698fbfc8e2899cdb606bf047b8cc.pdf
18 Leape, op.cit.
19 Campbell, E. G., J. S. Weissman, B. Clarridge, R. Yucel, N. Causino, and D. Blumenthal. 2003. Characteristics of medical school faculty members serving on institutional review boards: results of a national survey. Acad Med 78 (8):831–6.
20 138. HealthDayNews. Possible conflict of interest within medical profession. August 15, 2003.
21 Campbell, E.G. et.al. “Industry Relationships Among Academic Institutional Review Board Members. Changes From 2005 Through 2014.” JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015;175(9):1500-1506. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2375171
22 Harris, G. “F.D.A. Limits Role of Advisers Tied to Industry.” New York Times. 22 March 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/washington/22fda.html
23 Leape, op.cit.
24 Brennan, T. A., L. L. Leape, N. M. Laird, L. Hebert, A. R. Localio, A. G. Lawthers, J. P. Newhouse, P.C. Weiler, and H. H. Hiatt. 1991. Incidence of adverse events and negligence in hospitalized patients. Results of the Harvard Medical Practice Study I. N Engl J Med 324 (6):370–6.
25 Institute for Healthcare Improvement, NORC at the University of Chicago. “Americans’ Experiences with Medical Errors and Views on Patient Safety: Final Report.” Institute for Healthcare Improvement and NORC at the University of Chicago; 2017. http://www.ihi.org/about/news/Documents/IHI_NPSF_NORC_Patient_Safety_Survey_2017_Final_Report.pdf
26 Weissman, JS et.al. “Comparing patient-reported hospital adverse events with medical record review: do patients know something that hospitals do not?” Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008 Jul 15;149(2):100-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18626049
27 James, John T. “A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care.” Journal of Patient Safety. Sep 2013;9(3):122-128. https://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Fulltext/2013/09000/A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx
28 Anderson, JG et.al. “Your Health Care May Kill You: Medical Errors.” Studies in Health Technology and Informatics. 2017;234:13-17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28186008
29 James, op.cit
30 Couture, B. et.al. “Towards Analytics of the Patient and Family Perspective: A Case Study and Recommendations for Data Capture of Safety and Quality Concerns.” AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings Archive. 2017;2017:615-624. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5977637/
31 ibid.
32 “Legislative Goals.” Patient Safety America. http://patientsafetyamerica.com/legislative-goals/ Retrieved 25 Jan 2019.
33 Kotulak, R. “Doctors’ haste seen hurting patient: study says the push for quick treatment detracts from care.” Chicago Tribune 10 May 2005. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2005-05-10-0505100152-story.html
34 Leape, L. L. 1994. Error in medicine. JAMA 272 (23):1851–7.
35 Vincent, C., N. Stanhope and M. Crowley-Murphy. “Reasons for not reporting adverse incidents: an empirical study.” J Eval Clin Pract. 1999 Feb;5(1):13–21.
36 148. Wald, H., Shojania, K.G. Incident reporting. In: Shojania, K.G., Duncan, B.W., McDonald, K.M., et al, eds. Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2001:chapter 4. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 43. AHRQ publication 01-E058.
37 Grinfeld, M.J. “The debate over medical error reporting.” Psychiatric Times. April 2000.
38 ibid.
39 King, G. III, A. Hermodson. 2000. Peer reporting of coworker wrongdoing: a qualitative analysis of observer attitudes in the decision to report versus not report unethical behavior. Journal of Applied Communication Research (28), 309–29.
40 Rowin, EJ et.al. “Does error and adverse event reporting by physicians and nurses differ?” Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18792658
41 Stenson, J. “Few residents report medical errors, survey finds.” Reuters Health. 21 February 2003.
42 Rogan, G.N. et.al. “How Peer Review Failed at Redding Medical Center, Why It Is Failing Across the Country, and What Can Be Done About It.” Alliance for Patient Safety. 1 Jun 2008. http://www.allianceforpatientsafety.org/redding-failure.pdf
43 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Underreporting of medical errors affecting children is a significant problem, particularly among physicians.” http://www.ahrq.gov/research/dec04/1204RA7.htm (accessed January 29, 2009)
44 Taylor, J.A., D. Brownstein, D.A. Christakis, S. Blackburn, T.P. Strandjord, E.J. Klein and J. Shafii. Use of incident reports by physicians and nurses to document medical errors in pediatric patients. Pediatrics 114(3):Sept 2004, pp. 729–735; http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/114/3/729 (accessed January 29, 2009)
45 “The Truth About Healthcare.” Patient Safety America. http://patientsafetyamerica.com/truth-about-healthcare/ Retrieved 25 Jan 2019.
46 Allen, Marshall. “Without Autopsies, Hospitals Bury Their Mistakes.” ProPublica. 15 Dec 2011. https://www.propublica.org/article/without-autopsies-hospitals-bury-their-mistakes
47 Indiana University School of Medicine, WFYI 90.1 FM radio program, “Doctors Don’t Report Medical Errors,” interview with Lauris Kaldjian, M.D., Ph.D. on “Sound Medicine Checkup,” aired 17 February 2008. http://soundmedicine.iu.edu/segment.php4?seg=1522 (accessed January 28, 2009).
48 “4 in 10 of Public, More than One-Third of Physicians Say They Have Personally Experienced Medical Errors.” Harvard School of Public Health. 11 Dec 2002. http://archive.sph.harvard.edu/press-releases/archives/2002-releases/press12112002.html
49 159. The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Overview, June 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http:// www.ahrq.gov/qual/psoact.htm (accessed January 29, 2009).
50 “Patient Safety Organizations: A Summary of 2014 Profiles.” Network of Patient Safety Databases. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. https://www.pso.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/npsd_portfolios-summary-profile-2014.pdf Retrieved 25 Jan 2019
51 Vrbnjak, Dominika et.al. “Barriers to reporting medication errors and near misses among nurses: A systematic review.” International Journal of Nursing Studies. Nov 2016;63:162-178.
52 Koohestani, H.R. et.al. “Barriers to the reporting of medication administration errors among nursing students.” Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing. Sep 2009;27(1):66-74. http://ajan.com.au/Vol27/Koohestani.pdf

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February 4, 2019  

VITAMIN C, The Universal Necessary Nutrient

VITAMIN C, The Universal Necessary Nutrient

By Gary Null

Wikipedia claims that a role for vitamin C as prevention or treatment for various diseases is disputed, with reviews reporting conflicting results. On the contrary, it is my opinion that vitamin C is the universal necessary nutrient. Go back to 1747, when a British naval surgeon named James Lind offered citrus fruit to 12 men suffering from scurvy on the HMS Salisbury. For the first time, men recovered. Historically, it was frequently fatal, especially for those who were at sea for months at a time where there were no fresh fruits or vegetables and they were vitamin C deficient. To everyone’s surprise, all 12 men recovered quickly. It would not be for another 50 years in 1795 when a British physician, Gilbert Blane, argued to the admiralty that they must now include citrus juice as a part of the daily ration on every British ship. And once again, to everyone’s surprise, the scurvy scourge vanished.

But it was not ‘til 1932 that a respected British chemist named Walter Haworth was able to identify the molecular structure of hexuronic acid, an organic reducing agent found in plants and animal tissue. He named it ascorbic acid.  Today it is known as simply vitamin C. However, at the same time that Haworth was identifying vitamin C, independent of him, Albert Szent Gyorgyi discovered vitamin C. The next year, the Swiss laboratory synthesized ascorbic acid identical to vitamin C and it began to be produced in the general population in 1935. In 1937, in honor of the two great scientists’ work on vitamin C, they both received the Nobel Prize: Albert Szent Gyorgyi for discovering vitamin C and Haworth for his work with vitamin C and carbohydrates.

In 1970, Linus Pauling’s publication of “Vitamin C and the Common Cold” became a bestseller. It was he, a highly respected scientist who had won two unshared Nobel Prizes, who’d published in hundreds of peer reviewed journals in chemistry, who stated that we needed a minimum of 3 grams or 3000 mg a day of vitamin C in order to prevent the common cold. It was at this time also that Linus Pauling met a Canadian physician, Dr. Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD. Hoffer had been working with vitamins and helping people with schizophrenia and had published the first work showing that high levels of vitamin C could help people with schizophrenia. He then met with Linus Pauling and that was the beginning of what would come to be known as the orthomolecular medicine movement. In 1971, Linus Pauling began work with Dr. Ewen Cameron, a respected Scottish physician and scientist who was using intravenous vitamin C to treat terminal cancer patients. He was not using high doses, 10,000mg, but they were getting positive results. They did not cure anyone, but they substantially prolonged the life and lessened suffering while improving quality of life.

For a nearly 4-year period, from 1974 to 1979, Pauling was using experimental doses to study the anti-oxidants and oxygen quenching properties of vitamin C in vitro. in 1979, Dr. Lester Packer was the first to note the free radical reaction between vitamin E and vitamin C – hence the idea that many supplements should be taken together because synergistically they have a greater impact than taking either substance alone.

In the early 1980s, the Mayo Clinic conducted studies with the intent of discrediting Pauling’s cancer findings. However, it was not an accurate study. It did not follow Pauling’s protocol. The Mayo Clinic used oral supplements, not intravenous; also, the controls in the Mayo study were taking vitamin C supplements as well as other substances. In addition, Pauling personally called me and told me this study was a fraud because it was much too short. In fact, he came on my radio program in the early 1970s to discuss that he had increased the amount to 18,000 mg per day orally if you had a cold, the flu, or cancer.

In 1988, the National Cancer Institute recognized the inverse relationship between vitamin C intake and various forms of cancer and issued guidelines to increase vitamin C in the diet. Then, in 1989, the recommended daily allowance of 60mg for the average healthy adult was established. This was the first RDA to take into account the importance of environment and lifestyle factors in establishing the need for a vitamin. In the late 1980s, Linus Pauling found the role of vitamin C along with lysine to prevent atherosclerosis and relieve angina pectoris. That became known as the Pauling therapy for treating heart disease. In 2007, there was the discovery of the previously undiscovered enzyme associated with the vitamin C production pathway. From my own experience, I developed what I called the laws of compensation, which meant to the degree you have any physical or mental imbalance, trauma, virus, bacteria, parasite, or any other pathogen – nutritional deficiency, genetic predisposition, illness – you must exceed the level of that imbalance in order to correct it. So I began to encourage the people I was working with on a daily basis (starting as early as 1968) to take 10,000mg in divided doses of a buffered vitamin C.

In the mid to late 1970s, I was communicating with a physician who was using high dose vitamin C – Dr. Frederic Kleener. He was working with the full spectrum of diseases and he was getting remarkable results that he had not previously been able to get in his career using just standard orthodox therapies. He was using up to 50,000mg intravenous, once or twice a week. I then began to help people working with a very popular gay physician, Dr. Steven Caazi. In the early to mid 1970s, he was treating gay men who were showing gastrointestinal challenges. He was not sure how to help them and that’s when he called me; I worked for 300 to 400 of these individuals and was able in the vast majority of cases to reverse their conditions. Later, these same symptoms would be called AIDS. Over a 10 year period, from 1974 to 1984, we worked together on a weekly basis. Then I began to work with the first AIDS patients – I worked with a total of 1200. I saw normal and even higher amounts of vitamin C wasn’t making a difference, but the moment they were taking glutathione, B12, and very high doses of vitamin C, and then supplementing with a very strong cleansing, immune-enhancing, detoxifying diet, their conditions improved tremendously.

I had them coming in six days a week. They started out with a lower amount and over a period of months got up to 200,000 mg this is the same protocol our medical team had used to reduce or improve breast cancer, ovarian cancer, occluded arteries, and lots of different herbs and juices and lots of vitamin C we had the best improvement in the world that I know of when it comes to working with aids patients. People who volunteered were not charged for their treatment at the Tri-State Healing Center. Eight people said they’d do the full protocol – they came six days a week for about 16 months and we were able to completely reverse their HIV status, from positive to negative. All their AIDS-defining illnesses were eliminated – Kaposi’s sarcoma, thrush, pneumocystis pneumonia, all these conditions reversed.

Our success was such that we held a massive press conference with hundreds of doctors, scientists and patients. No press came. It was as if there as a fear that if we were getting people healthy who had full blown AIDS that somehow we would challenge them financially and we weren’t doing this for any money. During this period of time, a Robert Cathcart from California had principally people with AIDS-defining illnesses and he had read an article in the Townsend letter that I’d written about natural approaches to treating AIDS giving specific case histories. He spent a week interviewing hundreds of people at the Tri State Healing Center. He went home and began administering 50,000mg, and his patients stopped dying of pneumocystis pneumonia.

All eight people whose AIDS I was able to reverse were interviewed by Bill Tatum, publisher of the Amsterdam News, and individuals such as Stokely Carmichael, Arthur Ashe, and dozens of African American physicians and scientists who would come to the center and interview people with AIDS and review their medical records to see their progress over the years – from full blown disease to complete cure. So where the natural and no- toxic approach to treating AIDS was well-known within the African American community, it was absolutely blacklisted within the Caucasian community. The politics and profiteering of the AIDS epidemic has never to this day been exposed, and it should be.

Linus Pauling was ridiculed and vilified by the medical establishment. In private conversations with me at the Institute of Applied Biology where I was a research fellow for 33 years in anti-aging medicine, nutrition and lifestyle and he told me he could not believe how powerful the pharmaceutical industry and the medical-industrial complex were in preventing quality information from being disseminated. He told me they acted more like organized crime than the healing profession. He was saddened. But he was a realist. It was because of Linus Pauling that many of the doctors who were not succeeding as they’d hoped began to use vitamin C in treating their patients.

The people who are the most critical of vitamin C would have you think there is no evidence supporting its usage. For those of us who are seeing patients, conducting studies, publishing peer-reviewed literature, and respecting the outstanding contributions of thousands of researchers to the peer-reviewed literature, we have one statement. Until such time as you do your own homework and save lives, being an uneducated misinformed ideologically-minded skeptic should not hold the same weight as the 61,707 studies that are published in the government’s own medical database.

Just a few of the conditions that benefit from vitamin C treatment include Pneumonia, Encephalitis, Shingles, Herpes, Mononucleosis, Pancreatitis, Hepatitis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Bladder Infection, Alcoholism, Arthritis, Some Cancers, Leukemia, Atherosclerosis, Ruptured Intervertebral Disc, High Cholesterol, Corneal Ulcer, Diabetes, Glaucoma, Schizophrenia, Burns and secondary infections, Heat Stroke, Radiation Burns, Heavy Metal Poisoning (Mercury, Lead), Venomous Bites (insects, snakes), Multiple Sclerosis, and Chronic Fatigue.

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