Dispelling Soy Myths

Two articles on soy appear in today’s Huffington Post. Neal Barnard, MD, sums up the evidence clearly and accurately, with aptly chosen scientific references to support his assertions, while Joseph Mercola, DO, takes a different approach.

From Dr. Barnard:

Soybeans are handy. Aside from the traditional foods they bring us — edamame, tofu, tempeh, and many others — they transform into tasty substitutes for milk, yogurt, ice cream, bacon, burgers, and sausage. With no animal fat, cholesterol, or sensitizing animal proteins, they side-step the problems that animal products can cause. Cow’s milk, for example, is linked to Type 1 diabetes and anemia in children and increases the risk of prostate cancer in men. Hamburgers are linked to heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. Soy-based milks and burgers help you skip all this. But soy has other huge benefits you may not know about.

Among the other well-documented effects of soy products is that they boost survival in breast cancer patients (contrary to an oft-repeated set of false claims) and lower cholesterol levels.

Read Dr. Barnard’s entire article for a further debunking of soy mythology.

Breathtaking Ignorance

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this kind of thing anymore, but Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO), whom Missouri voters may decide to elect as their next U.S. Senator, displays a truly breathtaking level of ignorance. This is the same Mr. Akin who endorses eliminating the federal school lunch program for needy children.

What has now elevated him to national prominence is his contention yesterday that abortion should be outlawed even for rape victims because women who are raped almost never become pregnant. This is, of course, flatly untrue. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he stated, apparently echoing an urban legend widely circulated in the antiabortion movement.

This issue goes far beyond Mr. Akin. He speaks for a large part of his party. Despite protestations from the Romney-Ryan campaign today (in response to the electoral radioactivity of the Akin controversy) that they do not oppose abortion for rape victims, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is on record supporting (and co-sponsoring with Akin) a bill which would define life in federal law as beginning at the moment of fertilization, thereby outlawing all abortion as the equivalent of murder. It would also likely outlaw in vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control as well.

If this bill reflects your own position on the issue (and I know that is the case with some of my Facebook friends who will receive this post), this will likely come as no surprise. For others, it may be something of a shock. If so, I hope you’ll look into it more deeply.

I am thankful to Congressman Akin for clearly stating his views, so that all can see them for what they are and so voters in Missouri and elsewhere can consider them when going to the polls in November.

Reality Check on Claim That Obamacare “Raids” Medicare, Lowers Benefits and Adds to Deficit

From today’s Washington Post, a reminder that the Medicare Board of Trustees reports that Obamacare extends the solvency of Medicare and does so without any lowering of benefits to patients.

Repeal of Obamacare, as proposed by the Romney-Ryan ticket (and already passed by the House) would bring insolvency closer. It would also take insurance away from over 30 million people, eliminate the ban on pre-existing conditions, eliminate the new preventive care provisions for Medicare, re-open the prescription drug donut hole, etc.

 The $716 billion in savings helped free up funds to pay for other health programs, like the expansion of insurance to 32 million Americans.

That was the primary purpose, at least. There was also a really important side effect: The health care law extended the solvency of Medicare’s Trust Fund. If the program pays hospitals less, each dollar stretches a little bit further. Earlier this year, the independent Medicare Board of Trustees estimated that with these cuts the trust fund would remain solvent through 2024.

Without those cuts, however, the budget gets a little tighter. Medicare keeps paying providers at the same rates it does now, but each dollar buys less. And that means, according to these trustees, that the trust fund would no longer be able to cover Medicare’s costs as soon as 2016.

In Study on Heart Patients, Exercise as Effective for Depression as Antidepressant Medication

Considering the side effects and costs of taking the medication, exercise is by far the better choice.

From a Reuters story on an article published August 1, 2012 in the American Journal of Cardiology:

People with heart disease who are also depressed may get as much relief from their depression symptoms with regular exercise as with medication, according to a U.S. study.

Researchers writing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that of 101 heart patients with signs of depression, those who exercised for 90 minutes per week and those who started taking Zoloft both improved significantly compared to participants assigned to drug-free placebo pills.