Omega-3 Supplements Don’t Protect Against Heart Disease

Nicholas Bakalar—The New York Times:

Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, the oils abundant in fatty fish, are ineffective for the prevention of heart disease, a large review of randomized trials has found.

No matter how the researchers looked at the data, they could find no association of the supplements with lowered risk for death from heart disease, or with nonfatal heart attacks or other major cardiovascular events.

A meta-study (a study of multiple study results) of supplement use produced similar results a few years ago. I stopped taking the not-inexpensive fish oil supplements recommended by my doctor shortly thereafter.

That meta-study had showed that as survey population sizes increased, the observed efficacy of fish oil supplements declined to the point where the average result for coronary health was neither positive nor negative. Gaining more study patients had caused edge cases and clusters of similar results to exert less influence.

This new study’s result fully dooms the first oil  recommendation:

There was no effect in people with prior coronary heart disease, those with diabetes, people with high lipid levels, or in people using statins. There was no evidence for an effect in either women or men considered separately.

“Carefully done trials provide no support for the hypothesis that fish oil supplements help,” said the senior author, Dr. Robert Clarke, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Oxford.

The old phrase there is no magic bullet is apropos of these results. Some people are genetically predisposed to gradually occluding coronary arteries, and for them we have coronary catheterization and stents (for now).

For the rest of us the old advice is still the best: eat well and exercise. Find a population whose heart health is remarkably good despite a mix of sexes, ethnicities, and lifestyles, and adopt their diet while incorporating significant cardio-vascular exercise into your life. Ten to twenty miles of walking per week is a good start.

#cardioVascularHealth #study #fishOil #omega3FattyAcids

The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s

Olga Khazan—The Atlantic:

In recent years, Alzheimer’s disease has occasionally been referred to as “type 3” diabetes, though that moniker doesn’t make much sense. After all, though they share a problem with insulin, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease caused by diet. Instead of another type of diabetes, it’s increasingly looking like Alzheimer’s is another potential side effect of a sugary, Western-style diet.

In some cases, the path from sugar to Alzheimer’s leads through type 2 diabetes, but as a new study and others show, that’s not always the case.

Fascinating short read on the not unheard-of connection between blood sugar levels and cognition.

This dovetails with a longer article in The New York Times Magazine from years ago, Is Sugar Toxic? Though an investment of, say, 45-minutes, that article goes a long way to explain the problem with our sugary American diet, and the disaster that is high fructose corn syrup. Thankfully, consumers have been pushing back against HFCS in the years since that article was published, and its presence in the food supply is diminishing.

Both reads are worth your time.

#sugar #AlzheimersDisease #toxicity #health

Will a New Way to Diagnose CTE Change Football?

Patrick Hruby – The Atlantic:

Better answers may come from a recently announced seven-year, $16 million study funded by the National Institutes of Health and NINDS that’s aimed at diagnosing CTE—a project the NFL was also slated to fund before backing out amid controversy. Headed by Stern, the project is the largest and most thorough study of the disease ever conducted, and will put former football players through a series of tests including an MRI; two PET scans; blood, saliva, and spinal-fluid collection; genetic evaluations; neuropsychological testing; and clinical examinations and histories.

The goal, Stern says, is to create a reliable clinical tool kit—that is, multiple methods of diagnosing CTE …

This is great news for diagnosing CTE in patients before their symptoms become pronounced.

PET scans, I believe, will become the standard for diagnosing other acute illnesses, too, as their associated costs come down and they become more common. One possibility is breast cancer. How many women skip screening for this common disease after feeling the very uncomfortable squish associated with mammography? What if they could simply lie on a table for a scan?

Consider magnetic resonance imaging. Once an expensive, selectively used diagnostic tool, MRI has become a go-to alongside computerized tomography, x-ray imaging and sonograms.

***

A thought about CTE and football, one that puzzles me: what kind of parent encourages or allows a child, or a high schooler, to begin playing football in the first place, knowing as we do that repeated head blows, a side effect of the game, may well lead to irreversible brain damage?

The NFL is one of the most profitable sports in the world and a kind of rich man’s club of ownership. It will not cease operation simple because its other leading product is traumatic brain injury. This is an example of how capitalism, left unchecked, will consume every resource in its path. But football can be choked off at its source.

The number of new players, from peewee leagues to high school and into college, can dry up. This very notion has been speculated on by George Mason University economist Tyler Cowan. As the flow slows to a trickle, college and pro leagues would become smaller, and eventually cease to be.

As this article indicates, the number of young people entering the sport is decreasing. It should be crashing toward zero.

#football #relic #of #the #past #traumatic #brain #injury #cte #high #school #college

How Science Found a Way to Help Coma Patients Communicate

British neuroscientist Adrian Owen – The Guardian:

“Scott, please imagine playing tennis when you hear the instruction,” I said.

I still get goose bumps when I remember what happened next. Scott’s brain exploded in an array of colour-activation, indicating that he was indeed responding to our request and imagining he was playing tennis.

“Now imagine walking around your house, please, Scott.”

Again Scott’s brain responded, demonstrating that he was there, inside, doing exactly what he was asked. Scott’s family was right. He was aware of what was going on around him. He could respond – perhaps not with his body, in quite the way they had insisted he could, but certainly with his brain.

This story is a fascinating account of medical researchers directly communicating with a coma patient using a functional MRI, even as he lay motionless after twelve years of incapacity.

#neuro #science #coma #communicate #Adrian #Owen

Finding Some Peace After War

Dave Philipps – The New York Times:

“This walk is for recentering,” he said. “I view it as my last deployment. I’m walking my way home.”

All over the country, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are on similar quests. By foot, boat, bicycle, even wheelchair, they are crisscrossing the land this summer, trying to cobble serenity from lives upended by combat.

So worth your time to read these multiple accounts of veterans walking off the effects of war. Do yourself a favor, and read. And maybe take a long walk now and again. It’ll do you good.

#walkItOff #veterans #mental #health

How Much Transgender Troops’ Medical Care Costs the Military

The president cites “medical costs” as the primary driver for his ban on transgender service members in the US military. Wrong.

Christopher Ingraham – The Washington Post:

Considering the prevalence of transgender servicemembers among the active duty military and the typical health-care costs for gender-transition-related medical treatment, the Rand study estimated that these treatments would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.

By contrast, total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually, according to an analysis by the Military Times — 10 times the cost of annual transition-related medical care for active duty transgender servicemembers.

The military spends $41.6 million annually on Viagra alone, according to the Military Times analysis — roughly five times the estimated spending on transition-related medical care for transgender troops.

Penis pills cost the US taxpayer ten times more than the medical needs of transgender service members, yet there’s no mention of cutting those costs. I guess Mr. Trump has military plans for four-hour boners.

A good question is, why do health insurance policies, in general, cover transgender procedures and related care? The answer comes from the DSM-5: gender dysphoria is a coded diagnosis in the most recent update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for psychiatric disorders. If it’s in there, it’s recognized as a treatable condition and more often covered by insurance.

A little more digging might reveal that the Affordable Care Act includes it in its list of minimum covered ailments. Unlike, for instance, an elective nose job. You get the point.

#Trump #incompetent #fraud #military #transgender #medical #costs

Trump Confirms he Called Health Care Bill ‘mean’

CNNPolitics.com:

During an interview on “Fox and Friends” Sunday morning, Trump was asked about Obama’s Facebook post condemning the Republican health care plan, and the President responded by saying Obama used the descriptor after he originally did.

“Well he actually used my term, ‘mean.’ That was my term,” Trump said. “Because I want to see — and I speak from the heart — that’s what I want to see, I want to see a bill with heart.”

He was against it before he was for it, but after he was for it in the first place. Who’s on first, what’s on second, I don’t know is on third base. Back is white, up is down, and you’re a fool if you believe anything at all coming out of this man’s mouth.

The label “shithead” comes to mind. Despicable just doesn’t cover it.

#Trump #shithead #youOwnHim