2011 FDA Update on Silicone Gel Breast Implant Safety: Many Unanswered Questions

The FDA released a new report on June 22, 2011 showing that breast implants cause many complications and often need to be removed, but that if “used as directed” (including regular MRIs) implants are “reasonably safe.” However, the FDA admits that we don’t have as much safety information as we need, and that the implant companies haven’t done a very good job of doing safety studies. Continue reading

Namenda Only Works for Severe Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Memantine, known by the brand name Namenda, was approved by the FDA in 2003 for use in people with “moderately severe to severe” Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA rejected the manufacturer’s application to expand approval to include moderate or mild Alzheimer’s. However, the drug is often prescribed “off-label” for patients with mild Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment even though there is no evidence of its benefit. Continue reading

Can Cleanliness Increase The Risk of Allergies and Asthma?

Is being too clean bad for your health? Research indicates that some of the products we use to avoid germs may contribute to the development of conditions like asthma and allergies. Continue reading

What You Need to Know About the Flu (including H1N1 or “Swine Flu”)

News about the flu is everywhere. First it was “avian flu” or “bird flu,” and now it’s the H1N1 virus, originally called “swine flu.” When flu spreads, infecting people all over the world, it is called a pandemic. The World Health Organization has declared the H1N1 flu a pandemic. Pandemic flu can be frightening. Here are the facts. Continue reading

Emergency Contraception & Sexual Assault: Why Compassionate Care Should be a Standard of Care

The Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act of 2009 (H.R.1236) and the Prevention First Act of 2009 (H.R.463/S.21) were introduced in Congress in early 2009. The sole purpose of the CARE Act, and one of several goals of the Prevention First Act, would be to direct hospitals and emergency medicine facilities that receive federal funding to inform all women who have been sexually assaulted about emergency contraception (also known as the “morning after pill” or “Plan B”) and to make it available to them, regardless of their ability to pay. Continue reading

Are Processed Meats More Dangerous Than Other Red Meats? Yes and No!

You have probably heard it many times already–whether from your doctor, a health magazine, or a health promotion poster: don’t eat too much red meat. Red meat has been linked to health problems such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. But, the latest research tells a somewhat different story. Red meat-beef, pork, and lamb-may not deserve its bad rap for those diseases. It’s possibly processed red meats, like bacon, hot dogs, and salami, that are the bigger problem. Continue reading

The Wrinkle in Facial Injections and Implants: Safety Questions

In the eternal search for eternal youth, some new technique or product is always being touted as the next best thing. Women and men seek out long-lasting non-surgical procedures that will reduce wrinkles and make them look younger or better. There are many different types of facial injections (some permanent and some temporary) and implants, each having a variety of brand names. We will discuss five of the most popular of these treatments, and in terms of safety concerns, the news is not especially good. Continue reading

Examining the Safety of Natural Supplements

In their quest for health and beauty, half of all American adults take natural supplements to solve all sorts of problems. But do these products really work, and how much do Americans know about their safety? Not as well as one may think, and not nearly enough.
Ultimately, it is unwise to trust the claims that manufacturers of dietary supplements make about either the effectiveness or safety of their products. Let the buyer beware. Continue reading

Dolls Are Not a Substitute for Babies

Adults assume that teenagers would be less likely to get pregnant if they knew how hard it is to care for a baby. That was the theory behind the development of Baby Think it Over (BTIO), a computerized infant simulator doll. Unfortunately, several studies suggest that taking care of these baby dolls does nothing to discourage teens from becoming parents. Continue reading

Cold and Flu: Do Natural Health Products Work?

Cold and flu are two of the most common illnesses and there is no “cure” for either. Because antibiotics do not treat symptoms or cure either cold or flu, many people turn to natural products in an effort to prevent and treat cold and flu symptoms. But, do these products work, and are they safe? Here, a range of these products are compared, examining their safety and effectiveness. Continue reading

Ghostbusting: Exposing Drug Company-Hired Ghostwriters in Medical Journals

Doctors rely on scientific papers for accurate information on which drugs and treatments are best for their patients, but are all these papers trustworthy? Often times, industry-paid “ghostwriters” author these papers, leading to biased articles that mislead doctors into prescribing medication that may not work or could be harmful to their patients. Continue reading

Are Bisphenol A (BPA) Plastic Products Safe for Infants and Children?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to make plastics, and is frequently used in baby bottles, sports equipment, water bottles, medical devices, and as a coating in food and beverage cans. Continue reading

Vytorin and Zetia Lower Cholesterol But Do They Improve Health?

There are many cholesterol-lowering medications on the market today, but just because a drug lowers cholesterol doesn’t necessarily mean that it will improve health or save lives. So, DO cholesterol medications improve health and save lives? Several recent studies seek to answer this question by looking at Vytorin and Zetia–two of the most popular (and expensive) cholesterol medications. Continue reading

Heart CT Scans: New Heart Disease Test May Cause Cancer

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the U.S., so some doctors have recently started using a “CAT scan” (or CT scan) to detect blockages in the heart’s arteries. Unfortunately, a CT scan uses relatively large doses of radiation, which could ultimately lead to many new cases of cancer from increased exposure to radiation. Although heart CT scanning may be a useful tool in detecting blockages in heart arteries, there is not enough evidence to show that this test is worth the risks and is therefore not recommended for screening for heart disease at this time. Continue reading

LASIK Surgery: Eye Opening Information on Patient Risk

LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a surgical procedure intended to improve a person’s vision by changing the shape of the cornea and improving the eye’s ability to focus. It has become increasingly popular in the U.S. in recent years. However, the surgery is not without risks. What are the risks, and how do you know if you’re a good candidate for the surgery? Continue reading

Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa, and Risperdal are Widely Used But With Dangerous Side Effects

For patients who suffer from depression or anxiety, it’s hard to know which medication is best. It seems everyday a new “wonder drug” is introduced, often costing 10 or 20 times as much as older medications. Things become even more confusing when doctors prescribe medications “off label.” One example is Seroquel. Not approved to specifically treat depression or anxiety, of what kinds of dangers should one be aware? Continue reading

New Warnings on Popular Birth Control, Yaz

With all the different brands of birth control pills out there, most women have no idea which ones they should choose. Being aware of pill-related risks may aid that decision. In August 2009, two independent studies found that the type of hormone used in Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills put women at higher risk of blood clots than other birth control pills. As such, to reduce risk, it may be best to avoid taking pills that contain drospirenone, such as Yaz, since they increase your risk of blood clots more than other birth control pills. Continue reading

New Warnings About the Birth Control Patch

When choosing a method of birth control, most women want what is the most effective and convenient. Women who want “hormonal” birth control can choose a pill, patch, injection, or vaginal ring, yet not all of these options have equal risks. In fact, the Patch, Ortho Evra, is now shown to put women at greater risks than birth control pills did by exposing women to high levels of estrogen. But, how does Ortho Evra work, and why is it more dangerous than other forms of birth control? Continue reading

Breast Implants: A Research and Regulatory Summary

In the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in breast implant surgery, yet this does not necessarily mirrored by a similar increase in the number of women with breast implants. Many women are replacing old implants that have broken or caused problems. This summary examines the role of the FDA in safety research, the types of breast implants, the frequency of local complications, increased risk of autoimmune and connective tissue diseases, cancer, lung disease, and suicide, impact on general health and quality of life, and the hidden costs associated with breast implants. Continue reading

Nips, Tucks, and…Designer Vaginas?

Variations in the natural female form used to be accepted, even celebrated. Increasingly, however, these variations are seen not as assets, but as problems to be taken care of by plastic surgeons. Amongst many cosmetic surgeries, “genital rejuvenation” is growing in popularity. Does this procedure work, and what does the future hold for such genital plastic surgeries? Continue reading

Hormone Therapy and Menopause

In recent years, many women have stopped taking hormone replacement therapy because of growing evidence that the risks outweigh the benefits for most women. However, millions still struggle with the decision: should I go on, should I stay on, or should I go off? A closer look at the questionable need for hormone therapy, and it’s risks and benefits. Continue reading

The Facts About Medication for Colds and the Flu

Cold and flu are two of the most common illnesses and there is no “cure” for either. Because antibiotics do not treat symptoms or cure either cold or flu, many people turn to over-the-counter medications in an effort to prevent and treat cold and flu symptoms. But, do these products work, and are they safe? Are they safe for children as well? Can the risks outweigh the benefits? Continue reading

Urinary Incontinence: A Guide to Treatment

Do you ever leak when you laugh or sneeze? Do you feel the constant urge to urinate, even when your bladder is empty? You may be one of the 10 million Americans with some form of urinary incontinence (the inability to control the bladder). Don’t be embarrassed–talk with your physician. It is treatable, and not inevitable. Continue reading

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Medication: Zelnorm and Treatment INDs

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an uncomfortable intestinal problem that affects nearly one in five Americans, most of whom are women. Unfortunately, known treatments only help with IBS symptoms, not the cause. More so, these treatments often have dangerous side effects. How is it that these drugs are still on the market if they are unsafe? The answer is because of a drug development process known as “treatment IND” (Investigational New Drug). The most recent of these treatment INDs involves a medication known as Zelnorm. What are the dangers, and should you take it for your IBS? Continue reading

Human Growth Hormone: Youth in a Bottle?

You may have seen the ads claiming that you can regain lost youth, remove wrinkles and cellulite, lose weight, and build lean muscle without exercise. According to the advertisements, you would think that human growth hormone pills or oral sprays offer the fountain of youth in a bottle. But according to scientists, you might be disappointed with the results you get from over-the-counter human growth hormone products (HGH). In fact, you might even be endangering your life. Continue reading

Cancer Researchers with Industry Ties Report “Rosier” Results

With all of the cancer studies being performed today, how can consumers be sure of their accuracy? A study by Dr. Reshma Jagsi at the University of Michigan and her colleagues indicates that cancer studies are more likely to have positive results when the researchers have ties to the company that makes the product being studied. With nearly one-quarter of relevant research articles disclosing a conflict of interest, this causes reason for concern. Continue reading

Blind Adults in America: Their Lives and Challenges

A report by the National Research Center for Women & Families–a closer look at non-institutionalized legally blind adults living in the U.S. Exactly where are they living? How many are living in poverty or near poverty? How is their health? What programs and services are they using, and are their needs being met? What are their daily lives like? Are there regional differences that we need to be aware of to improve policies for adults who are blind? Continue reading