How Insulin Became Unaffordable | Harvard Political Review

This is appalling. People are dying because they can’t afford insulin.

The U.S. health care is broken. Only single-payer will fix it and I will support any politician who supports it. No one should die over profits!

On May 20, 2017, Smith turned 26, aging out of his parents’ insurance. Because he was a single man with a decent job, Smith didn’t qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The most inexpensive plan Smith and his mother could find on the Minnesota exchange was around $450 per month with a $7600 deductible. Smith could have afforded the monthly premiums, but the deductible made the plan too expensive. Although the family had been researching plans for Smith since February, he had to go off of health insurance entirely.

When Smith went to the pharmacy to pick up his insulin in early June, the bill was over $1300 without insurance. He couldn’t afford the medicine that day, and decided to ration his remaining insulin until he was paid. Smith did not tell his family that he was adjusting his carbohydrate intake so he could lower his dosage.

“He knew the signs of being in trouble with his diabetes,” Smith-Holt told the HPR. “But when your body starts shutting down like that, you’re not making very clear, rational decisions.”

On June 25, Smith went to dinner with his girlfriend, where he complained about stomach pains. It was the last time anyone saw him alive. He called in sick to work the next day. On June 27, Smith was found dead in his apartment.

Source: How Insulin Became Unaffordable | Harvard Political Review

Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to WV town with 2,900 people | Health | wvgazettemail.com

Somebody needs to go to jail. Several somebodies, in fact.

Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone — two powerful painkillers — to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel’s inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.

“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement.

Source: Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to WV town with 2,900 people | Health | wvgazettemail.com

The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s – The Atlantic

I’ve considered high-carb diets to be dangerous, and this troubling research linking high-carb diets to cognitive decline gives me yet another reason to avoid excessive carbs. Yikes!

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.

A longitudinal study, published Thursday in the journal Diabetologia, followed 5,189 people over 10 years and found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar—whether or not their blood-sugar level technically made them diabetic. In other words, the higher the blood sugar, the faster the cognitive decline.

Source: The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s – The Atlantic

The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy

I stumbled upon this old but still relevant paper on the National Institutes of Health website, tracing our country’s current opioid epidemic directly to Purdue Pharmaceutical’s aggressive marketing campaign.

It is truly frightening to consider how many lives have been sacrificed – and continue to be sacrificed – in the name of profits for the pharmaceutical industry. These are real people who trusted their health care providers and were let down. So many families have been shattered and it makes me extremely angry.

America’s health care system is badly broken and needs a drastic fix.

Purdue promoted among primary care physicians a more liberal use of opioids, particularly sustained-release opioids. Primary care physicians began to use more of the increasingly popular OxyContin; by 2003, nearly half of all physicians prescribing OxyContin were primary care physicians.19 Some experts were concerned that primary care physicians were not sufficiently trained in pain management or addiction issues.

Primary care physicians, particularly in a managed care environment of time constraints, also had the least amount of time for evaluation and follow-up of patients with complicated chronic pain.

Source: The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy

How this sign put Berkeley in the center of the cellphone safety debate

If you’re in the market for a cellphone or tablet in the City of Berkeley, you will probably notice a sign displayed near the register of a cellphone retailer, or on store shelves.It’s a flier alerting customers of possible radiation exposure from mobile devices.

“Berkeley is the first city in the country to get stores to post warnings. It’s a small step, but it’s an important step,” said Joel Moskowitz, PhD, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health at the University’s School of Public Health.

In 2009, Moskowitz turned his focus from scientific research on the health effects of tobacco to cellphones after a visiting scholar from the National Cancer Center in South Korea exposed him to scientific literature looking at whether mobile phone use increased the risk of tumors.

“The cellphone manufacturers want you to keep a minimum distance away from your body and you should find out what that distance is,” Moskowitz said. “If you keep the device by your body you will exceed the safety limits provided by the FCC.”

Source: How this sign put Berkeley in the center of the cellphone safety debate

Don’t keep cell phones next to your body, California Health Department warns | TechCrunch

Having worked with radio and radar in the military and also having had the danger of microwave radiation drilled into me as part of obtaining an amateur radio license, I’ve always thought that following prudent precautions with mobile phones is a good idea. I never, EVER keep my phone in my pocket while in a moving vehicle, a time when its transmitter is the most active. I limit the length of my calls, and choose text over voice whenever I can (texts use much less of the radio). I also make sure my phone switches to WiFi for its data whenever WiFi is available.

Smartphones are damn near indispensable but one has to respect the RF radiation they create. While there might not be agreement on the health effects they cause, mobile phones undeniably do create a lot of RF radiation.

As this week’s gutting of Net Neutrality shows, the telecom industry owns the FCC. If mobile phones really do pose a health risk don’t count on the FCC protecting you.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a warning against the hazards of cellphone radiation this week. Yes, the thing we are all addicted to and can’t seem to put down is leaking electromagnetic radiation and now California has some guidance to safeguard the public.

The CDPH asks people to decrease their use of these devices and suggests keeping your distance when possible.

“Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cell phones,” said CDPH director Dr. Karen Smith.

Source: Don’t keep cell phones next to your body, California Health Department warns | TechCrunch

Exercise – induced changes in cerebrospinal fluid miRNAs in Gulf War Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and sedentary control subjects | Scientific Reports

I got an email yesterday from Dr. James Baraniuk, the researcher who ran the Gulf War Illness research study I participated in back in October 2016. His paper has just been published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

It’s interesting research, showing brain differences between GWI and CFS patients. Will it prove useful to me? Probably not. In all honesty, I have not had as many episodes of fatigue since I participated the study, in part due to my taking up running, I believe. I still have occasional cognitive issues (which really piss me off when they happen) but energy hasn’t been too big of a problem. That 65 mile bike ride I did with Travis and Kelly absolutely did wreck me the next day (or two), but I suppose it would do that for anyone else who hadn’t properly trained for it.

I’ve always said that the cognitive issues were the biggest issue for me. I wish I had the memory and mental clarity I had in my twenties. As they say, youth is wasted on the young!

Gulf War Illness (GWI) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) have similar profiles of pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and exertional exhaustion. Post-exertional malaise suggests exercise alters central nervous system functions. Lumbar punctures were performed in GWI, CFS and control subjects after (i) overnight rest (nonexercise) or (ii) submaximal bicycle exercise. Exercise induced postural tachycardia in one third of GWI subjects (Stress Test Activated Reversible Tachycardia, START). The remainder were Stress Test Originated Phantom Perception (STOPP) subjects. MicroRNAs (miRNA) in cerebrospinal fluid were amplified by quantitative PCR. Levels were equivalent between nonexercise GWI (n?=?22), CFS (n?=?43) and control (n?=?22) groups. After exercise, START (n?=?22) had significantly lower miR-22-3p than control (n?=?15) and STOPP (n?=?42), but higher miR-9-3p than STOPP. All post-exercise groups had significantly reduced miR-328 and miR-608 compared to nonexercise groups; these may be markers of exercise effects on the brain. Six miRNAs were significantly elevated and 12 diminished in post-exercise START, STOPP and control compared to nonexercise groups. CFS had 12 diminished miRNAs after exercise. Despite symptom overlap of CFS, GWI and other illnesses in their differential diagnosis, exercise-induced miRNA patterns in cerebrospinal fluid indicated distinct mechanisms for post-exertional malaise in CFS and START and STOPP phenotypes of GWI.

Source: Exercise – induced changes in cerebrospinal fluid miRNAs in Gulf War Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and sedentary control subjects | Scientific Reports