Time to clean up my long list of bookmarks again. Here are some interesting tidbits from the news that didn’t inspire full posts:
Statin Drugs Provide No Benefit: Study of 4 Million People
Well, I am shocked … turns out prescribing statins for everyone whose cholesterol isn’t sufficiently low (whatever the current definition of “sufficiently low” is) doesn’t appear to be doing any good, according to a recent study:
A population-based study in Sweden shows that the massive deployment of statins has provided no benefit. Three times as many statins were being taken by Swedish people in the year 2000 than in 1998. Yet, the numbers of people suffering or dying from heart attacks were unchanged by it.
The study covered nearly the entire Swedish population aged 40-79 for the years 1998-2000. They included the data from 289 municipalities, which included all areas of the country, urban, suburban, country, industrial, and everything in between. The total numbers were 1,926,113 men and 1,995,981 women—a total of 3,922,094 people.
Results from virtually the entire Swedish population demonstrated that the threefold increase in statins use provided no benefit.
I think I know where this is headed: soon we’ll be hearing about the Swedish Paradox. Statins really do prevent heart attacks, you see, unless … uh … unless you eat a lot of herring.
The FDA Gets A Clue About High-Dose Statins
It only took the FDA several years to pay attention to the warnings that statins can cause muscle damage, but they finally did.
The Food and Drug Administration is recommending that physicians restrict prescribing high-dose simvastatin (Zocor, Merck) to patients, given an increased risk of muscle damage. The new FDA drug safety communication, issued today, states that physicians should limit using the 80-mg dose unless the patient has already been taking the drug for 12 months and there is no evidence of myopathy.
The changes to the label are based on the Study of the Effectiveness of Additional Reductions in Cholesterol and Homocysteine (SEARCH), a study reported by heartwire. In that trial, 52 patients taking the 80-mg dose developed myopathy compared with one patient treated with the 20-mg dose. In addition, 22 patients treated with the high dose of simvastatin developed rhabdomyolysis compared with none treated with the 20-mg dose.
Rhabdomyolysis is medical-speak for “Holy @#$%! My muscles are breaking down and wasting away.”
Nothing like taking a drug that damages muscles to prevent heart disease. If memory serves, the heart is a muscle. I suspect that if high doses of statins can produce muscle damage extensive enough to be diagnosed, low doses may produce damage many patients don’t notice. And since the Swedish study shows that large-scale prescribing of statins hasn’t lowered rates of heart disease, here’s the logical conclusion: STOP TAKING THESE HORRIBLE DRUGS!
NASA Turns Animal Fat Into Jet Fuel
I guess if you’re not planning a mission to Mars, you have to find other ways to fill your day. So NASA scientists tested animal fat as jet fuel:
In March and April, researchers at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in California test biofuel made of chicken and beef tallow (waste fat) in the engine of a DC-8 airplane.
To test the new animal-based biofuel, the researchers ran one engine burning Jet Propellant 8, or JP-8, fuel, which is very similar to the industry standard Jet-A fuel used in commercial aircraft. They ran a second engine on a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and Hydrotreated Renewable Jet Fuel, or HRJ — the animal-based biofuel. And a third engine ran on pure HRJ.
What they found was that the biofuel-powered engine produced much lower sulfate, organic aerosol, and hazardous emissions. It also produced 90 percent less black carbon emissions at idle and 60 percent less at a takeoff level of thrust.
I have mixed feelings about this one. I certainly don’t like seeing chicken and beef fat labeled as “waste fat.” They’re only wasted because we’re not smart enough to fry foods in them anymore.
On the other hand, I’d happily deal with the hassle of flying (naked x-ray included) if it meant I might someday find myself seated next to a vegan zealot when the pilot announced our flight was beef-powered.
“Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, ladies and gentlemen, if you look out the windows on your left, you’ll see we’re now passing over the Rocky Mountains. And by the way, this aircraft is using all-natural beef tallow as fuel.”
“Excuse me, flight attendant! Did he just say we’re flying on beef tallow?!”
“Yes, sir. You’ll be delighted to know we’re reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels and emitting less pollution at the same time.”
“No, no, no! Cattle are ruining the planet! Only soybean oil can save us!”
“I’m sorry sir, but the tests were conclusive. Beef tallow produces the fewest noxious emissions.”
“Well, I cannot be a party to animal slavery! I’m getting off this plane right now!”
“Sir, it’s not … sir, you need to keep your seat belt on. Sir, do not approach that door! Sir, DO NOT OPEN THAT DOOR! … Ladies and gentlemen, we have an opening in first class if anyone would like to upgrade.”
Nicholas Cage’s son has a diet temper-tantrum
I really want to know what his trainer told him he couldn’t eat:
The son of Nicolas Cage was taken to the hospital following an altercation Tuesday afternoon at the Farmer’s Kitchen in Hollywood.
According to TMZ, 20-year-old Weston Cage was with his trainer when his trainer told him he couldn’t eat something on the menu. That’s when Weston started “freaking out” and allegedly started pushing his trainer in a violent way, refusing to calm down.
Police were called in to help and when they arrived, they told Weston they would use a taser if he did not cooperate. At that point, Weston complied. Authorities, however, were worried he was unstable, and paramedics were asked to strap him on a gurney before taking him to Cedars Sinai Medical Center to be evaluated.
Attacking a personal trainer?! You know, no matter what Fred Hahn told me I couldn’t eat, I’d never be stupid enough to start pushing him around. Of course, Fred would never forbid a client to eat anything. He’d just explain why it’s a bad idea: “Look, that dinner roll is going to jack up your blood sugar and give you a belly ache. Here, eat these five lobsters with butter instead.”
A clear picture of worthless federal programs
The USDA has found another brilliant way to blow $2 million of our money:
A $2 million project being unveiled in the lunchroom of a Texas primary school will use high-tech cameras to photograph what foods children pile onto their trays – and later capture what they don’t finish eating.
Digital imaging analysis of the snapshots will then calculate how many calories each student scarfed down. Local health officials said the program, funded by a US Department of Agriculture grant, is the first of its kind in a US school, and will be so precise that the technology can identify a half-eaten pear left on a lunch tray.
Researchers hope parents will change eating habits at home once they see what their kids are choosing in schools. The data also will be used to study what foods children are likely to choose and how much of if they’re eating.
Hmmm … we have reports that kids are tossing the tasteless low-fat foods the USDA requires schools to serve into the trash. What could possibly be the problem? Boy, that’s a tough one to figure out. Hey, maybe if we spy on them, we’ll come up with an answer!
Note to the USDA: kids are tossing the meals because the meals suck. You can send me a check for $200, and I’ll re-write that explanation in official-sounding government language for you.
British GPs will be paid to shame patients
Glad to know my government isn’t the only one looking for stupid ways to spend money. Last year the British health minister (not a thin woman herself) suggested doctors should start calling fat people fat. Apparently not enough doctors took the advice, so now they’ll be paid to tell patients they’re fat:
From next year, GPs will receive a payment for every obese patient they advise to lose weight – on top of money for keeping lists of those who weigh too much. The plans form part of a desperate bid to tackle soaring rates of obesity in Britain, with two out of three adults now classed as overweight or obese.
Doctors will be instructed to be more pro-active in raising the topic of weight loss in their consultations, while new NHS guidance will say health workers and local authorities should do more to stop children and adults becoming overweight.
Brilliant! Governments spend money recommending diets that make people fatter, then pay doctors to tell people they’re fat, then spend more money to send fat people to counselors who tell them to eat the diet the government recommends.
Here’s the main effect this program will have on the health of our friends across the pond:
“Honey, that looks like a suspicious lump.”
“It’s fine. Nothing to worry about.”
“Why don’t you at least go and see the doctor about it?”
“Because I’m tired of that skinny @$$#*&* telling me I’m fat, that’s why.”
I’m sure MeMe Roth would approve of this method. Perhaps the British could do us a favor and invite her to spend a decade or so in England to oversee the shaming-fat-people program. Then she’d be less likely to pop on up my TV screen and make me lose my appetite.