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…)
By Dr. Orna Izakson
beans and oregano.
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 BCE) famously said “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”
Gardeners know the best way to get your veggies is fresh and organic, ideally straight from the farm or garden. But beyond simple nourishment, scientists are finding some foods specifically help prevent or reverse certain diseases. Published research from the past few months alone has shown fruits and veggies protect your heart, brain and eyes, and help fight asthma, cancer, swine flu, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
Much of the research looks at isolated constituents in the foods, although of course there’s more to fresh fruits and veggies than the isolated “active ingredients” scientists have identified so far. All the components in the plant work synergistically, and do more than just one thing.
Here’s a short list to get you started. (more…)
People battling diabetes can take a cue from fighters everywhere: muscle strength helps make winners. New research finds that low muscle mass — common in elderly and obese people at greatest risk of type 2 diabetes — is associated with the insulin resistance that causes the disease. People with incipient or frank symptoms have long been told to eat well and exercise, but the new finding help make the latter prescription more specific. While walking and cardiovascular workouts are still important, building strong muscles is a critical component to reversing the disease. Muscle mass is empowering! (Via ScienceDaily.)
Getting your nightly eight hours may be doing more for you than you think — it may help prevent Type II Diabetes. That diseases occurs when cells become resistant to insulin, the hormone that helps sugar move from the bloodstream and into cells, which use the sugar as food. In a small study, researchers compared insulin responses of healthy people after a good night’s sleep and after a night where they slept only four hours. They found that just one bad night reduced cellular receptivity to insulin. Diet, lack of exercise and family history are all important components in the disease; add these to life in a chronically sleep-deprived society, and it’s no wonder this form of diabetes is on the rise. Can more sleep help people who already have the disease? The researchers haven’t tested that yet, but it’s certainly an idea to sleep on. (Via ScienceDaily).