About Daniel Redwood

Daniel Redwood, DC, is Director of the Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine program at the University of Western States. He is Associate Editor of Topics in Integrative Healthcare and a member of the American Chiropractic Association's editorial advisory board. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Sweet Times for Cows as Gummy Worms Replace Costly Corn Feed

This is so wrong on so many levels that I am posting it without comment, while encouraging you to read the whole article to see what is happening to America’s food supply.

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) – Mike Yoder’s herd of dairy cattle are living the sweet life. With corn feed scarcer and costlier than ever, Yoder increasingly is looking for cheaper alternatives — and this summer he found a good deal on ice cream sprinkles.

“It’s a pretty colorful load,” said Yoder, who operates about 450 dairy cows on his farm in northern Indiana. “Anything that keeps the feed costs down.”

As the worst drought in half a century has ravaged this year’s U.S. corn crop and driven corn prices sky high, the market for alternative feed rations for beef and dairy cows has also skyrocketed. Brokers are gathering up discarded food products and putting them out for the highest bid to feed lot operators and dairy producers, who are scrambling to keep their animals fed.

In the mix are cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries. Cattlemen are feeding virtually anything they can get their hands on that will replace the starchy sugar content traditionally delivered to the animals through corn.

h/t The Schwartz Report

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.

 

Labeling Calories, Saturated Fat and Sodium on Restaurant Menus Leads to Lower Levels of Each

One of the many policies included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a requirement that chain restaurants list the calories, saturated fat, and sodium levels in their offerings.

A study just published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the Journal of the American Dietetic Association) demonstrates that when forced to list the amounts of these problematic dietray components, restaurants change their recipes so that they contain lower amounts.

This is not rocket science. It’s common sense. Unless required to do the right thing, corporations will too often keep doing the wrong thing.

People should have the right to know what’s in their food.

Bruemmer B, Krieger J, Saelens BE, Chan N. Energy, Saturated Fat, and Sodium Were Lower in Entrées at Chain Restaurants at 18 Months Compared with 6 Months Following the Implementation of Mandatory Menu Labeling Regulation in King County, Washington. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112(8):1169-1176.

 

“Watchful Waiting” Yields Outcomes Equal to Surgery for Early Stage Prostate Cancer

Unnecessary and/or overaggressive treatment is one of the great weaknesses of the healing arts. Prostate cancer treatment is one of the current flashpoints, because most prostate cancers are slow to grow and begin when the men are old enough that they will eventually die “with prostate cancer” rather than “of prostate cancer.”

This article from the New York Times Well Blog sums it up well:

This year, about 240,000 men will be given a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Although 81 percent of them will discover the disease at a very early stage, and although prostate cancer usually grows very slowly, most of these men will choose aggressive treatment, opting for removal of the prostate, or radiation treatments that often render them impotent or incontinent — or both.

But about 10 percent of men choose a different strategy: no treatment at all. The decision to forgo surgery or radiation is controversial, and is often met with resistance from a man’s own doctors and family members.

The strategy is often called “watchful waiting,” but some experts term it “active surveillance” or “expectant management.” In older men, watchful waiting may mean that nothing at all is done; doctors intervene only for pain relief or minor procedures if there are signs the cancer has spread.

In younger men, doctors typically conduct regular blood tests and biopsies to monitor the cancer. The idea is that they may recommend surgery or treatment later if it appears the cancer is aggressive and beginning to spread.

Few men choose watchful waiting and few doctors recommend it, but that may soon change. Last week, a groundbreaking new study showed that men with early-stage disease who opt for watchful waiting are just as likely to survive as men who undergo surgery.

The findings, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, come from a 15-year study of 731 men with early-stage prostate cancer who, surprisingly, had agreed to be randomly assigned to surgery or a program of watchful waiting. The fact that so many men had agreed to leave their treatment to chance is remarkable in itself. But so were the findings.

During the study, the largest of its kind, 52 men, or about 7 percent of the study subjects, died of prostate cancer. There was no statistical difference in the prostate cancer mortality rate or the overall death rate between the groups. Most men survived the disease whether they had surgery or did nothing.

And some men who had surgery died, as did some men who did nothing.

 

Obamacare Has Saved Seniors $4 Billion On Drug Costs

While I would love to see much less dependence on medications and much more on healthy lifestyle changes, the fact that the Affordable Care Act has already kept $4 billion in the bank accounts of American seniors and out of the hands of the drug companies strikes me as a positive development that deserves to be widely publicized.

That’s what a new report from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services has documented.

The Medicare agency released figures showing that millions of seniors and people with disabilities have saved $3.9 billion on medications since the law was enacted.
The data also showed that since the beginning of the year, more than 1 million Medicare beneficiaries have saved an average of $629 on prescriptions in the “doughnut hole” coverage gap. 

“Millions of people with Medicare have been paying less for prescription drugs thanks to the healthcare law,” said Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“Seniors and people with disabilities have already saved close to $4 billion. In 2020, the doughnut hole will be closed thanks to the Affordable Care Act.”

To close the doughnut hole, the government will cover more and more of the value of brand-name and generic drugs until 2020, when seniors will be responsible for 25 percent of the cost for each.

When the Medicare drug benefit was passed by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2004, it was structured so that 100% of the costs were added to the federal deficit. In contrast, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (aka Obamacare) was structured so as to decrease the deficit, in accordance with the estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

 

 

More Confirmation That Affordable Care Act Lowers Deficits While Bringing Insurance to 30 Million Uninsured Americans

The Affordable Care Act is the opposite of an unaffordable new entitlement; it is a way to insure 30 million more people while reducing the federal government’s deficit at the same time, according to today’s report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which is the closest thing that the United States has to an unbiased financial umpire.

CBO also scored the budgetary impact repealing the health reform law, as endorsed by Mitt Romney and House and Senate Republicans. They found that repeal would add to the deficit while also taking away the insurance that those 30 million people would have gained. In addition, repeal would overturn rules that bar insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, from canceling coverage when people become ill, and from placing a lifetime dollar limit on coverage. Other provisions that repeal would reverse are the phase-out of the “donut hole” where seniors have no Medicare coverage for prescription drugs, the right of young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance policies through age 26, and the requirement that insurance companies spend at least 80 or 85% of premium dollars (depending on the type of policy) on health services rather than administration and profits.

Also prohibited under the law starting in 2014 will be annual coverage limits and gender discrimination (women currently can be charged higher rates than men for the same coverage).

From Jon Cohn’s new article in The New Republic:

The Congressional Budget Office just published a newly updated estimate of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the budget. The estimate largely tells us what we already knew: The law, when fully implemented, will dramatically reduce the number of Americans without health insurance. It will also reduce the deficit.

This last part remains a big deal, if only because so many conservatives—and, yes, so many members of the public—refuse to believe it. Over and over again, you hear people saying that Obamacare will run up the deficit. The CBO, which is our most reliable guide on such matters, begs to differ. 

CBO can’t be certain, because nobody can be certain, how exactly the law will play out. But the best available evidence suggests that, in the end, the law will leave the federal treasury with more money than it would have otherwise. And that’s just in the short- to medium-term. If the program’s efforts at re-engineering the health care system really work, then all spending on health care—from the federal government, corporations, and individuals alike—will stop rising so quickly, freeing up more money for other purposes (like, for example, raises to employees).