19 February 2004

Antibiotics Double the Risk of Breast Cancer


As if women didn't have enough to deal with on the issue of hormone replacement theory, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article today showing increased breast cancer from the use of antibiotics. I've avoided them for a decade or more because of candida and intestinal flora problems. Use Transfer Factor Plus and reserve antibiotics for real emergencies. A real emergency is your life is at risk.

This is the first hard data indicating that antibiotics have much worse effects than we previously imagined. Kudos to JAMA because this article is free.

Antibiotic Use in Relation to the Risk of Breast Cancer
Christine M. Velicer, PhD; Susan R. Heckbert, MD, PhD; Johanna W. Lampe, PhD, RD; John D. Potter, MD, PhD; Carol A. Robertson, RPh; Stephen H. Taplin, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2004;291:827-835.

The editorial response is also available:

Antibiotics and Breast Cancer—What's the Meaning of This?
Roberta B. Ness, MD, MPH; Jane A. Cauley, DrPH
JAMA. 2004;291:880-881.

Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer diagnosed among women in the United States. Established risk factors include age, family history, reduced parity, earlier age at menarche, alcohol use, postmenopausal adiposity, and hormone therapy. In this issue of THE JOURNAL, Velicer and colleagues report another potential risk factor: the use of prescribed antibiotics. Among 2266 women with breast cancer, as compared with 7953 controls, the use of antibiotics was more common; the risk of breast cancer was greater with longer duration of antibiotic use and was consistent across antibiotic classes. This observation is potentially worrisome in that antibiotic exposure is common and sometimes nonessential. Thus, if real, the risk of breast cancer attributable to the use of antibiotics could be large and partially preventable.

13 February 2004

Psychonauts Improve on Psychoanalysis


Every once in a while I get some flak for dedicating this page to the Medicine Buddha because Rife engineers think it is a "new age" religion, even though Buddhism predates both Christianity and Mohammed. The Medicine Buddha is alledgedly the diety who trained the Buddha himself in how to treat people with medical problems, thus preceeding even the Buddha. A number of physicians I have met use the Medicine Buddha as a model for their practice and Tibetan Buddhism is making significant contributions to scientific research. In fact, scientists at Harvard and elsewhere have wired up monks and demonstrated that their individualized training on the internal workings of their mind generate documented physiological and emotional effects that are unheard of in "normal" Americans. I can personally testify that it is better to be an "abnormal" American, not obese, not neurotic, not sick, not on any medications, and free of any chronic disease condition like most Tibetan monks.

Tibetan Buddhism and research psychology: a match made in Nirvana?
Collaborations between monks and psychologists yield new directions in psychological research.

Monitor on Psychology, Volume 34, No. 11 December 2003
Sadie F. Dingfelder

With an eye toward understanding the inner workings of the mind and using that knowledge to reduce human suffering, psychologists and Buddhist monks may have more in common than they realize, and possibly even compatible methodology. These commonalities are driving collaborations between some psychologists and Buddhist monks.

Richard Davidson, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for one, believes that the shared goals and empiricism of these two traditions could lead to useful advances for each. Tibetan Buddhism, says Davidson, is not a dogmatic religion; knowledge in the tradition is gained by examining one's own experience. Monks train for years to become expert observers of the inner workings of their own minds, he says. Research psychology, on the other hand, attempts to understand mental processes by focusing on third-person observation and de-emphasizing subjective observations of mental phenomena, he explains.

11 February 2004

Healthcare Reform: Call for Revolution Goes Mainstream


There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't receive an email or read an item in a newsgroup about someone who has had problems with our heathcare system. The striking thing about these notes is the shock people have about being harmed and the aloneness they feel like a wolf howling in the wilderness. However, they are not alone and they should read Don Berwick's new book, "Escape Fire: Designs for the Future of Health Care." There are other wolves out there howling.

Healthcare leaders are well aware of the problem and have been given a mandate to do something about it by the Institute of Medicine initial patient safety report, "To Err is Human." Medical errors are conservatively the third leading cause of death in the United States and that includes only inpatient medical errors in hospitals. Healthcare leaders are also aware that nothing of substance has yet been done about it, as noted by the Washington Post Editorial, "A Medical Enron."

When change will not happen peacefully, you need a revolution, and Dr. Berwick, Harvard Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Healthcare Policy and CEO of The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is emerging as one of the leading revolutionaries. The book is his collected keynotes speeches at the National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care from 1992-2004. It starts off with "Kevin Speaks" given in 1992.

Kevin had most of his small intestine removed at the age of 2 and at 15, Dr. Berwick asked him to write down three things that especially pleased him about healthcare system in the life of a child with chronic illness. He also asked Kevin to provide a score of the percent of time these things occurred.

Care is best when:

1. They tell you what's going on right away. 35%
2. You get the same answer from everyone. 30%
3. They don't make you scared. 40%

The system got failing grades in 1992 and it is not much better now, maybe worse. So Berwick said in 1992:

In the storm of the health care crisis--the variations on "pay or play" or the "Canadian option" or "managed competition"; in the various debates about rationing and protocols and incentive compensation, and even about TQM--it is so easy--frighteningly easy--to forget why we trouble ourselves in the first place. It is so easy--frighteningly easy--to become trapped in the sterile thesis that our institutions must survive simply because they must survive, or that our true, deep purpose is to gain and preserve market share in a vacant terrain of others whose purpose is precisely the same. It is easy to believe that our habits of work are somehow valid and worth defending in isolation from the reason that work exists in the first place.

But the work is not there in the first place. The work is second. In the first place there is Kevin. "Tell me what you know right away," he asks. "Comfort me, answer me, do not make me wait or waste my time. Try not to frighten me," he asks. And unspoken, because he is so frightened, is the most important request of all; "To the very best of your ability, help me live and grow." We are not there to survive. We are there to help Kevin survive.

05 February 2004

Energy pulses could target cancer


Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 02:16 GMT
Doctors may one day be able to use powerful electric fields to help destroy cancer cells from outside.

US researchers say they can use energy pulses - which last a tiny fraction of a second - to attack the cell without harming its healthy neighbours. The pulses do not physically destroy the cell, but appear to start a process which makes them "commit suicide".

The technique, reported in New Scientist magazine, could also be used to tackle obesity, say experts. Currently, surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy are used to destroy cancer cells. The "nanopulse" system is closest to radiotherapy, but may perhaps offer a gentler alternative to radiation.

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Hmmm. Some of these scientists are reading web pages of Rifers! Maybe this one, since I'm the only one I know who is killing fat cells with specific frequencies. The real news is that the laboratory scientists are starting to see the mechanism. The frequencies don't kill the cells. They alter the calcium metabolism which results in cell death.

So here is another one for the lab scientists to investigate. There is a frequency which appears to destroy muscle cells and cause cellular regeneration, similar to the effect of lifting weights. This is my latest experiment which some of my colleagues are testing.