I swear I don’t mean to pick on statins. There’s just so much about them in the news right now. A colleague of mine pointed me to an excellent website that puts findings on prescription drugs into perspective, and I think it’s important information to share.
Most studies showing benefits of drugs (or other substances), tout the results showing that taking the drug (or other substance) changes something more than would be expected from chance alone. For example, a positive study would be one showing that taking statins lowers cholesterol more than taking a placebo pill would do. In this case, the idea is that lowering cholesterol reduces heart-disease risk, and that statins therefore help prevent heart disease.
What the drug studies often don’t advertise, however, is how many people need to take the drug to see any positive or negative effect on the larger diseases the treatment is intended to address. This is called the “numbers needed to treat,” and can be very telling. The website my colleague recommended looks at numbers needed to treat for different classes of drugs.
Do statins help prevent heart disease? The numbers are not encouraging: (more…)
As baby boomers age, and Alzheimer’s and dementia become more common, there’s a growing body of research focusing on strategies to maintain memories and cognitive function. Doing regular crossword puzzles helps. Having command of at least two languages makes a difference. And now there’s a new strategy, one that will be dear to the heart of aging Gleeks everywhere: Belting out show tunes helps you keep your memories. Researchers spent four months working with residents in an elder-care facility and found it was singing, not listening, that made the greatest difference. Included in the repertoire were songs from The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and Oklahoma!. The singing even helped folks in advanced stages of dementia. So sing, out loud, out strong. (Via NY Daily News.)
How’s this for a catch 22: Statin drugs are prescribed to lower cholesterol levels in the body in an effort to reduce risks from heart disease, but end up raising risks for the very condition they’re intended to prevent. New research finds the drugs speed up calcification of the coronary and aortic arteries — basically like building bone around blood vessels that need to flex as your heart beats. That increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The effect is more pronounced in people with Type II diabetes — and statins increase the risk of developing diabetes. What to do? If you have high cholesterol, talk with a professional about supplements and dietary changes that can help you get back into balance naturally. Some of the solutions may surprise you! (Via GreenMedInfo.com.)
Garlic fights cancer, part … what number are we up to now?
This summer, I got a note from one of my writer friends. A new study on garlic and lung cancer was out, would I be willing to comment for her article?
Hardneck garlics (Allium ophioscorodon) send up curling flower stalks in the spring. Known as garlic whistles, the flower stalks make a seasonal culinary treat.
As some of you may know, I am slowly — glacially, even — working on a book about gardening with medicinal plants. Looking out at the frost-covered garden this morning for inspiration for any hint of green, I decided to start working on my olive (Olea europa) monograph.
Arbequina olive (Olea europea) in flower.
Before my breakfast (which includes copious quantities of olive oil — yum!), I went looking through my physical library for something beyond olive oil. Because, really, I’m unlikely to actually press the olives from my tree. And besides, like so many other garden medicines, there’s healing value in other parts.
In olive’s case, the leaves are powerhouses of phytochemicals (more…)