For "Foodie Friday":
Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad and the Truth
"A recent large government study* found that raising levels of HDL "good" cholesterol using a drug did not reduce the risk of heart disease. As The New York Times reported:
"Patients taking the medicine along with Zocor had higher levels of H.D.L. and lower levels of triglycerides, a fat in the blood. Despite these seeming improvements, the patients fared no better and may have done slightly worse than those taking Zocor alone. That is why the entire theory behind trying to increase H.D.L. levels in patients with heart disease may need rethinking." "
*NIH stops clinical trial on combination cholesterol treatment
"Lack of efficacy in reducing cardiovascular events prompts decision
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health has stopped a clinical trial studying a blood lipid treatment 18 months earlier than planned. The trial found that adding high dose, extended-release niacin to statin treatment in people with heart and vascular disease, did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and stroke." More at: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/may2011/nhlbi-26.htm
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is referred to as good cholesterol. It pushes the fatty substance through your body to the liver, which then removes it from your body. If you have a high HDL cholesterol level, your risk of having heart disease is reduced.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol, because it can lead to an increase of cholesterol in your arteries. If you have high LDL levels of cholesterol in your blood, your risk of having heart disease is increased.
New study questions effectiveness of popular cholesterol drugs.
Merck defends medications, says research is limited.
"A study questions the ability of Vytorin and Zetia to unclog arteries. They should be used as "drugs of last resort," one doctor said. (Associated Press)
A widely prescribed and expensive cholesterol drug is not as effective as niacin, a cheap vitamin, in helping to unclog coronary arteries in people already taking statins, the standard medicines used to lower cholesterol, according to a new study.
The research, which appears Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is sending rumbles through the medical community because it is the third recent study to raise questions about the effectiveness of Zetia and its sister drug, Vytorin, highly profitable pharmaceuticals made by Merck & Co.
"This is the third strike," said Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "The studies are telling us that it doesn't appear to produce benefits. This is a drug used by millions of Americans, a very big seller, in a health-care system where costs are a major issue. And the question has to be, is this the right approach?" "
Cholesterol and Cops.
"Just a few months ago, 2 good friends of mine called me with quite the concern:
"Isabel. Our daughter has just been diagnosed with high cholesterol. She's only 10. We stay away from whole eggs and she doesn't eat much red meat. How is that possible? "
Wow, 10 and high cholesterol already. That's pretty scary. Remember when the term "high cholesterol" was only used to describe your grandma and other old folk? (No offense granny). Well not anymore.
Kids are being diagnosed with all sorts of things we once only considered "adult" conditions including high cholesterol, high triglycerides and diabetes.
So, first things first. How does anyone get high cholesterol? And how was I going to explain this to a 10 year old? Follow my little analogy....
Imagine we lived in a high crime city where criminals could be found on every street corner. In order to resolve the problem, the mayor decides to put a police officer on every street corner.
Now, imagine that your friend comes to visit your city and says "Oh, I know why there is so much crime here. It is because there are police officers on each corner." Silly right?
The reason why the officers were put there was because of the criminals, not the other way around!
Well, here is the mass cholesterol confusion.
The criminals are sugar and processed foods. The police officers are cholesterol.
If you eliminate the officers (cholesterol), the criminals (sugar and processed foods) continue to create damage, in this case, they are damaging your arteries.
Cholesterol (police officer) is only there to help. It is coming to the rescue. So isn't it silly that people who need cholesterol to save them from more harm to their arteries are being put on cholesterol lowering drugs?
I know this is a lot to take in. So read the little story again if it still does not seem clear. The truth is, you need to wipe out the criminals, not reduce the police officers!
So now the question is, how can you keep the criminals at bay?
Stop eating an excessive amount of sugar and processed foods and adopt a healthy eating regimen that includes natural foods.
1. Include organic eggs, natural meat and poultry, veggies, fruits, raw nuts, coconut oil and olive oil into your daily eating regimen. Natural, natural, natural is the name of the game.
2. Reduce sugar drinks and drink water, water, water. Amazing things will happen once your body is hydrated (including regulating cholesterol).
3. Move it or lose it. Or in this case, move it to lose it. Exercise is one of the best ways to regulate your cholesterol levels. Even if it didn't affect your cholesterol, would there be anything to lose by trying? Oh yeah, FAT, I forgot.
Commit today to taking one step towards taking control of your cholesterol, your weight or your health and finally shoot down the criminals once and for all!"
Are Cholesterol Drugs Even Effective?
"Statin drugs work by inhibiting an enzyme in your liver that's needed to manufacture cholesterol. What is so concerning about this is that when you go tinkering around with the delicate workings of the human body, you risk throwing everything off kilter.
With all of these risks, the drugs had better be effective, right? Well, even this is questionable. At least, it depends on how you look at it.
Most cholesterol lowering drugs can effectively lower your cholesterol numbers, but are they actually making you any healthier, and do they help prevent heart disease?
Have you ever heard of the statistic known as NNT, or number needed to treat?
I didn't think so. In fact, most doctors haven't either. And herein lies the problem.
NNT answers the question: How many people have to take a particular drug to avoid one incidence of a medical issue (such as a heart attack)?
For example, if a drug had an NNT of 50 for heart attacks, then 50 people have to take the drug in order to prevent one heart attack.
Easy enough, right?
Well, drug companies would rather that you not focus on NNT, because when you do, you get an entirely different picture of their "miracle" drugs. Take, for instance, Pfizer"s Lipitor, which is the most prescribed cholesterol medication in the world and has been prescribed to more than 26 million Americans.
According to Lipitor's own Web site, Lipitor is clinically proven to lower bad cholesterol 39-60 percent, depending on the dose. Sounds fairly effective, right?
Well, Business Week actually did an excellent story on this very topic earlier this year, and they found the REAL numbers right on Pfizer's own newspaper ad for Lipitor.
Upon first glance, the ad boasts that Lipitor reduces heart attacks by 36 percent. But there is an asterisk. And when you follow the asterisk, you find the following in much smaller type:
"That means in a large clinical study, 3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor."
What this means is that for every 100 people who took the drug over 3.3 years, three people on placebos, and two people on Lipitor, had heart attacks. That means that taking Lipitor resulted in just one fewer heart attack per 100 people.
The NNT, in this case, is 100. One hundred people have to take Lipitor for more than three years to prevent one heart attack. And the other 99 people, well, they've just dished out hundreds of dollars and increased their risk of a multitude of side effects for nothing.
So you can see how the true effectiveness of cholesterol drugs like Lipitor is hidden behind a smokescreen.
Or in some cases, not hidden at all."
On This Day:
Sons of Liberty dump British tea, Dec 16, 1773:
"On this day in 1773, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships moored in Boston Harbor and dump 342 chests of tea into the water.
Now known as the "Boston Tea Party," the midnight raid was a protest of the Tea Act of 1773, a bill enacted by the British parliament to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to sell its tea even more cheaply than that smuggled into America by Dutch traders. Many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of Britain's taxation tyranny.
In most American ports, the resistance group known as the Sons of Liberty scared off British tea-carrying ships by threatening their captains with tarring, feathering or worse. However, when three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor and the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England, Thomas Hutchinson, the British-appointed governor of Massachusetts, refused to permit the ships to leave. Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the now-famous "tea party" with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty. The British tea dumped into Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was worth more than $700,000 in today's currency.
Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, called the "Intolerable Acts" by the colonists, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British."
Battle of the Bulge begins, Dec 16, 1944:
With the Anglo-Americans closing in on Germany from the west and the Soviets approaching from the east, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler orders a massive attack against the western Allies by three German armies.
The German counterattack out of the densely wooded Ardennes region of Belgium took the Allies entirely by surprise, and the experienced German troops wrought havoc on the American line, creating a triangular "bulge" 60 miles deep and 50 miles wide along the Allied front. Conditions of fog and mist prevented the unleashing of Allied air superiority, and for several days Hitler's desperate gamble seemed to be paying off. However, unlike the French in 1940, the embattled Americans kept up a fierce resistance even after their lines of communication had been broken, buying time for a three-point counteroffensive led by British General Bernard Montgomery and American generals Omar Bradley and George Patton.
Fighting was particularly fierce at the town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division and part of the 10th Armored Division were encircled by German forces within the bulge. On December 22, the German commander besieging the town demanded that the Americans surrender or face annihilation. U.S. Major General Anthony McAuliffe prepared a typed reply that read simply:
"To the German Commander:
From the American Commander."
The Americans who delivered the message explained to the perplexed Germans that the one-word reply was translatable as "Go to hell!" Heavy fighting continued at Bastogne, but the 101st held on.
On December 23, the skies finally cleared over the battle areas, and the Allied air forces inflicted heavy damage on German tanks and transport, which were jammed solidly along the main roads. On December 26, Bastogne was relieved by elements of General Patton's 3rd Army. A major Allied counteroffensive began at the end of December, and by January 21 the Germans had been pushed back to their original line.
Germany's last major offensive of the war had cost them 120,000 men, 1,600 planes, and 700 tanks. The Allies suffered some 80,000 killed, wounded, or missing in action, with all but 5,000 of these casualties being American. It was the heaviest single battle toll in U.S. history."
Earthquake rocks the American wilderness, Dec 16, 1811:
"In the Mississippi River Valley near New Madrid, Missouri, the greatest series of earthquakes in U.S. history begins when a quake of an estimated 8.6 magnitude on the Richter scale slams the region. Although the earthquake greatly altered the topography of the region, the area was only sparsely inhabited at the time, and there were no known human fatalities.
The earthquake raised and lowered parts of the Mississippi Valley by as much as 15 feet and changed the course of the Mississippi River. At one point, the Mississippi momentarily reversed its direction, giving rise to Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee. A 30,000-square-mile area was affected, and tremors were felt as far away as the eastern coast of the United States, where the shock was reported to have rung church bells. Additional earthquakes and aftershocks continued throughout the winter and into the spring, and of the approximately 2,000 seismic vibrations felt during the period, five were estimated to be at an 8.0 or greater magnitude.
The New Madrid Fault system extends 120 miles southward from the area of Charleston, Missouri, to Marked Tree, Arkansas, and crosses through five states--Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas. An earthquake of about 6.0 magnitude or greater occurs about every 80 years, and the catastrophic upheavals of the type reported in the winter of 1811 to 1812 occur about every 500 or 600 years."
The morning was all about doors. Jay and I finished installing the storm door on Ray's utility room. We put the rest of the screws in the frame, pressed in the strips that cover the screws, screwed on the striker plate, and installed the door closer. It took a while to make it work right.
Then we started on my back door which the contractors had installed so that there was a big gap on the top and on the right side. We thought we were going to have to loosen the vinyl siding, and take the whole door frame and jamb out, but managed to do it another way. Jay took the few screws out that the contractors had put in, Sawzalled some off the bottom of the right side jamb, and everything moved into place. The 1/2 inch gap was gone.
In the afternoon I thought that I had better do something about the new printer with Fax, and started to install it. But this whole computer corner really needs to be re-organized first.
Somehow, my faithful old IBM keyboard which I like so much, just quit working. So now I am using another one that feels uncomfortable. The space bar isn't as long as I am used to, so I keep on hitting ALT with my right thumb. That sure messes things up!
It was raining early this morning, then became warm, muggy tank-top weather. So humid that I even ran the AC some of the day.