Multi-hazard warning system tested

Flash flood
The system was used to forecast flash floods in California

An early warning system for earthquakes, tsunamis and floods is being trialled in the US.

Scientists are using GPS technology and other sensors to detect the impending threat of natural disasters.

The network is installed in Southern California and has already helped scientists to alert emergency services to the risk of flash floods.

Yehuda Bock from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography said: “This can help to mitigate threats to public safety.”

And added: “It means real-time information can be made available.”

Ground motion

The minutes and even seconds before a natural disaster strikes are crucial.

Early warning systems can help emergency services to prepare and respond more effectively and can provide vital information for the public.

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We can measure displacements that occur during an earthquake”

Dr Yehuda Bock Scripps Institute of Oceanography

In California, researchers have been testing a prototype network for a range of hazards.

The system builds on existing networks of GPS stations, which use satellite technology to make very precise measurements of any ground movement.

On these, they have installed seismic sensors and other instruments that can track changes in weather conditions.

Dr Bock said: “By combining the data from the GPS with the data from these other sensors, we can measure displacements that occur during an earthquake or another event.”

He added that the system could detect the tremors that appear seconds before a large earthquake strikes, and accurately assess its magnitude and whether it is likely to generate a tsunami.

The GPS sensors and the meteorological instruments also help the team to monitor the water vapour in the air.

Dr Angelyn Moore, from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “It might be surprising that we are using GPS to monitor weather hazards, but GPS is a weather instrument.

“Fundamentally, a GPS station is measuring the time it takes a signal to travel from the GPS satellites to the receiving stations on the ground, and that travel time is modified by the amount of moisture in the air.

“Whenever we measure the position of a GPS station, we are also measuring the amount of water vapour above it.”

Through this, the team is able to track in real time how air moisture is changing and whether heavy rain is likely.

GPS Station
GPS stations like this one are fitted with small seismic and meteorological sensors

In the summer, the researchers used the system to forecast rainfall in San Diego.

Traditionally, some of this data comes from weather balloons.

“But there are only two sites at the southern border of California and these are about 150 miles apart. And the weather balloon launches are also infrequent: in San Diego it’s only every 12 hours,” said Dr Moore.

“In between those many hours between the weather balloon launches, we were able to use the GPS to monitor how the water vapour was changing.”

With this real-time information, the team was able to issue flash flood alerts.

Dr Moore added: “This was verified – there were quite a few reports of flooding.”

The sensing technology is being combined with communication advances to make sure the information is widely distributed, fast.

Dr Mark Jackson, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s National Weather Service, said: “When a forecaster presses that button to issue that warning, it then goes to the police or fire person that’s responsible for taking action to protect life and property almost instantaneously.

“We also have the public who now on their smartphones can receive warnings directly that say there is a warning in effect for your area.”

The team said the technology was inexpensive, and systems like it could be rolled out around the world.

The findings were presented at the recent American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Exercise while pregnant may boost baby’s brain.

This week, Baby V and I have joined more than 30,000 neuroscientists in San Diego for the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. We’ve wandered the miles of posters, dropped in on talks and generally soaked up the brain waves floating around this massive meeting of minds.

We’ve worked up a sweat more than once rushing around the meeting, so it’s nice to be reminded of all the exciting research on the benefits of physical exercise on the brain. Evidence is piling up that a fit body is one of the absolute best things you can do for a fit mind. And a study presented November 10 shows that if you’re pregnant, the benefits of exercise extend to your baby’s brain too.

Researchers from the University of Montreal asked pregnant women to exercise three times a week for 20 minutes until they were slightly short of breath. Other pregnant women didn’t exercise.  Eight to 12 days after the babies were born, the team recorded the electrical activity in sleeping babies’ brains.

Babies born to moms who exercised showed more localized brain activity patterns in response to sounds, the researchers found. This targeted brain activity is a sign of brain maturity, indicating that the brain is becoming more efficient. Babies whose mothers didn’t exercise during pregnancy showed more diffuse brain responses to sounds. The scientists plan on looking for lasting benefits by testing the babies at age 1.

Studies in rodents have found benefits of exercise during pregnancy: Rats born to moms who worked out have brains that are more resistant to low oxygen conditions, for instance. Maternal exercise boosts levels of cellular powerhouses called mitochondria in rat pups’ brains.  And exercise during pregnancy resulted in more newborn neurons in the mouse hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory. Now, this new study suggests that some of these benefits might extend to people, too.

So, exercise is good for mom and good for baby. Now Baby V and I just need to find a study that reports exercise — specifically, walking miles and miles at a neuroscience conference — helps a baby to sleep through the night.

New Test Identifies Preeclampsia Requiring Delivery.

Preeclampsia complicates up to 8% of pregnancies and has been difficult to accurately diagnose with traditional markers.

Now, British researchers report that a new test (Triage, Alere, San Diego, CA) that measures the level of placental growth factor (PlGF) in the blood can help doctors determine with a high degree of accuracy if a woman will develop preeclampsia during her pregnancy[1].

In a prospective multicenter study of 625 pregnant women presenting before 35 weeks’ gestation with suspected preeclampsia, low plasma PlGF (lower than the fifth centile for gestation) had very high sensitivity and very low negative predictive value for pinpointing those women who actually had the disorder and would need delivery within 14 days.

The study is published online November 4, 2013 in Circulation.

“For many years we’ve tried to work out which women have preeclampsia and need delivery, and we relied on high blood pressure and protein in the urine to tell us that,” lead author Dr Lucy Chappell (King’s College, London, UK) told heartwire .

And for the first time, we have a highly accurate blood test that we think will change antenatal care practice because it tells you with 96% certainty that a woman has preeclampsia, which is going to require delivery within 14 days. And that’s important for the woman, it’s important for the doctor, and it’s important for the health service,” Chappell said.

Placental growth factor increases during pregnancy and can rise as high as 3000 pg/mL. A sign of a healthy, growing placenta, PlGF peaks at around 30 weeks’ gestation and then starts to decline. Any value above 100 pg/mL is considered normal.

A great deal of time and effort is spent trying to pick out the women who are at highest risk for preeclampsia. The real importance of the test is to flag the women who need greater surveillance, Chappell said.

“All obstetricians and family physicians see a considerable proportion of the women under their care come through with suspected preeclampsia, with readings of high blood pressure or a bit of protein in their urine or headache, and it’s very difficult out of those women to tell who is going to need more monitoring and who could continue on with usual levels of monitoring. A lot of time and effort is spent trying to pick the women at highest risk, and that is exactly what this blood test does,” she said.

“It’s got such high accuracy for determining the women who are going to get preeclampsia and require urgent delivery. It doesn’t tell you to deliver the baby, it tells you whom you should be shining your spotlight on and whom you can leave alone.”

In addition to determining the accuracy of low plasma PlGF (defined as being below the fifth centile for gestational age) in predicting the need to deliver within 14 days in women before 35 weeks’ gestation, the researchers also looked at its accuracy at 35 to 36 weeks’ and at 37 or more weeks’ gestation.

They also looked at the accuracy of the test when using a lower threshold (<12 pg/mL) of PlGF.

Of the 625 women who took part in the study, 346 (55%) developed confirmed preeclampsia.

Overall, 287 women were enrolled at 20 to 24 weeks’ gestation, 137 women at 35 to 36 weeks’ gestation, and 201 between 37 and 40 weeks’ gestation.

The researchers found that the test was most accurate in the earlier stages of pregnancy. Between 20 and 34 weeks, the sensitivity of the assay in predicting the need for delivery within 14 days was 0.96 (95% CI 0.89–0.99) and its negative predictive value was 0.98 (95% CI 0.93–0.995).

Between 35 and 36 weeks’ gestation, the sensitivity of low PlGF in predicting the need for delivery within 14 days was 0.70 (95% CI 0.58–0.81) and its negative predictive value was 0.69 (95% CI 0.57–0.80).

At 37 weeks or more, the test’s sensitivity was 0.57 (95% CI 0.46–0.68) and its negative predictive value was 0.70 (95% CI 0.62–0.78).

The researchers also found that a PlGF less than 100 pg/mL was just as good as a PlGF <5% at predicting preeclampsia requiring delivery within 14 days, with the same sensitivity and negative predictive value between 20 and 34 weeks’ gestation and a sensitivity of 0.95 (95% CI 0.83–0.99) and negative predictive value of 0.94 (95% CI 0.80–0.99) at 35 to 36 weeks’ gestation.

“This is of great importance to clinicians,” Chappell said. “The doctor can do this test in the office; anything less than 100 pg/mL would mean increased, careful surveillance. In our study, levels under 100 pg/mL indicated an average time to delivery of 23 days.”

Very low levels of PlGF (<12 pg/mL) indicated an average time to delivery of only nine days.

The PlGF test was significantly better than all other commonly used tests, such as systolic and diastolic blood pressure, uric acid, alanine transaminase, and proteinuria, in determining preeclampsia requiring delivery within 14 days, when used alone or in combination (p<0.001 for all comparisons).

“This information is quite useful for an obstetrician, because if the women’s levels were very low, then you would want to step up your surveillance. In the UK, we would certainly be admitting those women and monitoring them carefully. So this blood test can really discriminate between those who don’t have a problem and those who need stepped-up surveillance,” she said.

Levels 100 pg/mL and above are reassuring and would mean that the time to delivery is 62 days or nine weeks, Chappell added.

The ability to home in on at-risk women more accurately will result in improved outcomes for mother and baby, at least that is the hope for this test, she said.

“It might help to reduce the number of women who are delivered too soon, because if we target our care correctly, we can reduce unnecessary harm as well,” she said.

California coastline hosts ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’

Tons of plastic have accumulated in an area between Hawaii and California, and the convergence of currents swirls the trash into what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Bottle caps, trash bags and broken plastic are now part of the diet of many birds and sea creatures around the world.

It’s very depressing, initially, to realize the extent of the problem,” said Captain Charles Moore, founder of Alagalita Marine Research Institute.

One of the largest concentrations of marine debris is in the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Hawaii and California. It’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Moore accidentally found the garbage patch in 1997 while sailing through a gyre, where ocean currents circulate and accumulate trash.

It’s a piece here, a piece there. It’s not a solid island. In general what we see is a soup of plastic. Not really an island of plastic,” said Moore.

Next year, Captain Moore is planning to spend a month at the Garbage Patch to research its effects on the food chain.

It is difficult to see the collection of trash from above because it’s made up of pieces of plastic the size of a finger nail. Researchers believe that there could be 2 million of these little pieces of plastic per square mile.

Millions of creatures are dying every year, tangled in plastic,” said Moore.

It’s not just the wildlife that is being fooled into eating this stuff and getting tangled in it, it’s we ourselves that are changing our biological being with these chemicals in this hyper-consumptive world that we live in,” Moore added.

Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego have also been trying to figure out how the marine debris is changing the world. A Scripps study estimated that fish in the intermediate ocean depths of the North Pacific Ocean ingest plastic at a rate of roughly 12,000 to 24,000 tons per year.

Cleaning up the mess that’s already been made is likely impossible, but experts believe the problem could potentially be saved with a radical change in economic and social culture.

When you hear politicians talk about growth, you would think it’s one of the 10 Commandments,” said Moore.

Our very being is consumers of products. This defines us these days. The type of car we have, the type of shoes we wear. The type of hair gel we do. The band of clothing we have. This is how we get our identity,” Moore added.

Moore argues that consumption habits and our creature comforts have led to an earth shattering problem: where to put all of the trash we generate.

We have to really redefine ourselves as human beings, as something other than a consumer in order to beat this problem,” said Moore.

New shorelines created of trash are appearing in all oceans, and even in America’s Great Lakes.

As world economies continue to thrive on mass consumption, Captain Moore will continue to sail and study the plastic oceans.

The Common Drug that Destroys Your Memory.

Story at-a-glance

  • Dr. Graveline shares his powerful story about how the drug Lipitor caused him severe global transient amnesia, which is what brought him out of retirement to investigate statins
  • There have been thousands of cases of transient global amnesia and other types of cognitive damage associated with statin use, reported to the FDA’s MedWatch site
  • It is believed that statin drugs damage your brain by creating a cholesterol deficiency; insufficient cholesterol results in your brain not having the raw materials it needs to make biochemicals critical for memory and cognitive function, including coenzyme Q10 and dolichols
  • It is believed that statin drugs damage your brain by creating a cholesterol deficiency; insufficient cholesterol results in your brain not having the raw materials it needs to make biochemicals critical for memory and cognitive function, including coenzyme Q10 and dolichols
  • Dolichols carry the genetic instructions from your DNA to help create specific proteins in your body, which are crucial for cognitive function, emotions and moods—a shortage of dolichols can have disastrous results, including depression, aggression, and suicide

Dr. Graveline has an interesting background that makes him particularly suited to speak on the topic of statin drugs. He’s a medical doctor with 23 years of experience whose health was seriously damaged by a statin drug. His personal questions brought him out of retirement to investigate statins, which he’s been doing for the past 10 years.

As a former astronaut, he would get annual physicals at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. In 1999 his cholesterol hit 280 and he was given a prescription for Lipitor.

“When they suggested Lipitor (10 mg), I went along with it because I had no reason to be particularly worried about statin drugs,” he says. “I had used it a year or so before my retirement, but I wasn’t a big user.”

However, it quickly became apparent that something was seriously wrong.

“It was six weeks later when I experienced my first episode of what was later diagnosed as transient global amnesia,” Dr. Graveline says.

“This is an unusual form of amnesia wherein you immediately, without the slightest warning, are unable to formulate new memory and you can no longer communicate. Not because you cannot talk, but you can’t remember the last syllable that was spoken to you. So nothing you say is relevant anymore. In addition, you have a retrograde loss of memory, sometimes decades into the past.”

He “woke up” about six hours later in the office of a neurologist, who gave him the diagnosis: transient global amnesia. He quit taking the Lipitor despite the reassurances from his doctors that the drug was not of concern, and that it was just a coincidence.

He had no relapses during the remainder of the year, but his cholesterol was still around 280 at his next physical. He was again urged to take Lipitor, and he relented.

“I admit I was concerned, but I had talked to maybe 30 doctors and a few pharmacologists during the interval,” Dr. Graveline says. “They all said “statins don’t do that.” So I allowed myself to go back on statins but this time I took just 5 mg.

…[E]ight weeks later, I had my second, and my worst episode. In this one, I was a 13-year-old high school student for 12 hours… This is what convinced me, when I finally woke up, that something was wrong with the statin drugs. And yet, the doctors were, for years after that, still saying that this was just a remarkable coincidence.

This took me out of retirement and I’ve been actively involved in researching statin drugs ever since.”

Statin Drugs: Not Nearly as Safe as You’re Told

Dr. Graveline has since published a book about his discoveries called Lipitor: Thief of Memory.

“In trying to reach an explanation, I called Joe Graedon and asked him if he had ever heard of any unusual reactions associated with statins,” Dr. Graveline says of his initial investigations.

He was directed to the statin effects study by Beatrice Golomb in San Diego, California, and his story was also published in a syndicated newspaper column. Within weeks, the web site he had created received reports of 22 cases of transient global amnesia, along with hundreds of cases of cognitive damage. At present, over 2,000 cases of transient global amnesia associated with the use of statins have been reported to FDA’s MedWatch.

But cognitive problems are not the only harmful aspect of these drugs. Other serious adverse reactions include:

Personality changes / mood disorders

Pancreas or liver dysfunction, including a potential increase in liver enzymes

Memory loss

Impaired function of the heart muscle and heart failure

Muscle problems (rhabdomyolysis), polyneuropathy (nerve damage in the hands and feet), and rhabdomyolysis (a serious degenerative muscle tissue condition)

Increased risk for diabetes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, cancer, stroke, and heart attack

Sexual dysfunction


Immune suppression



According to Dr. Graveline, a form of Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS may also be a side effect, although the US FDA is resistant to accept the link found by their Swedish counterpart, and has so far refused to issue a warning.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on this in July 2007 when Ralph Edwards, who directs the Vigibase in Sweden (the equivalent of the US MedWatch), reported ALS-like conditions in statin users worldwide,” Dr. Graveline says.

He has since forwarded hundreds of cases to MedWatch, but the FDA still has not been moved to act, and doctors are therefore unaware of the connection between this deadly disease and statin use.

“[W]e have anecdotal evidence that if you stop the statin drug early enough, some of these cases regress. That’s why we thought it was important that FDA issue a warning, but they haven’t,” Dr. Graveline says.

Today, all of these adverse effects, including the cognitive problems Dr. Graveline warned about 10 years ago, are supported by published research. At the time of this interview (February 2011), MedWatch had received about 80,000 reports of adverse events related to statin drugs, and remember, only an estimated one to 10 percent of side effects are ever reported, so the true scope of statins’ adverse effects are still greatly underestimated.

For a more in-depth explanation of how statins damage your mitochondria and DNA, resulting in a variety of health problems, please listen to the interview in its entirety or read through the transcript as he discusses far more than I can include here.

How Statins Harm Your Brain Function

As is often the case with pharmaceutical drugs, the side effects end up teaching us new things about how the human body works. When statins first hit the market, conventional medicine was unaware of the importance of cholesterol for proper brain function. Now, researchers believe that statins’ adverse effects on cognition are due to cholesterol insufficiency.

Research also began to emerge in 2001 showing the importance of cholesterol in the formation of memories.

“Then we have… dolichols,” Dr. Graveline says. “[W]hen a statin is used, it blocks the mevalonate pathway to get at cholesterol inhibition. It works very beautifully. But in so doing, it blocks CoQ10, dolichols, as well as other major biochemicals…

[D]olichol is one that most doctors have never even heard of before, but it just so happens that dolichols are almost as important as CoQ10 and cholesterol in cell processing.”

Dolichols carry your genetic instructions from your DNA to help create specific proteins in your body. If you develop a shortage of them, the messages are intermittent and chaotic. Some experts compare it to a computer virus that blocks specific paths to your files1 Dolichols are vital to a number of cellular processes, including:

  • Glycoprotein synthesis
  • Cell identification
  • Cell communication
  • Immunodefense
  • Neurohormone formation

Dr. Graveline goes on to explain that dolichols influence all the hormones involved with your mental condition, including your emotions and moods. And if you do not have sufficient dolichol, your entire process of neurohormone production will be altered-with potentially devastating results.

“[T]here are thousands of reports of aggressiveness and hostility, increased sensitivity, paranoia, depression and homicidal ideation,” Dr. Graveline says.

There are also numerous reports of suicide.

“This whole range of what I call personality- or emotion and behavioral responses have to do with the dolichol deficiency brought on by the mevalonate blockade,” Dr. Graveline explains.

“It’s not just something that occurs in an occasional person… You know we’re all the same and yet we’re all different… You give one medicine to 10 people and if you’re really lucky, in six of them it will do what it’s supposed to do. That’s the way it is with this. I expect there are some people that won’t get any effects of dolichol suppression because they have alternative pathways. The same thing probably holds for CoQ10.”

That said, it’s important to realize that your brain also requires cholesterol in order for memory formation to function normally. In essence, statins suppress a number of vital elements for proper brain functioning, including cholesterol, antioxidants and co-factors like CoQ10, and dolichol.

At the same time, statins also create mitochondrial DNA and cellular damage, including in your brain.

Your brain uses glial cells as factories for producing its own cholesterol on demand. Unfortunately, glial cells are affected by statins in the same way as your liver cells, or any other cell in our body. So if you take a statin, you’re also harming your glial cells and when they cease to function normally, that on-demand cholesterol capability also ceases and your brain can no longer function properly.

The Importance of CoQ10 or, if You’re Over 40, Ubiquinol

It’s now clear that if you take statin drugs without taking CoQ10, your health is at serious risk as statin drugs deplete your body of this essential co-enzyme. As your body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, you may suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness, and eventually heart failure. Coenzyme Q10 is also very important in the process of neutralizing free radicals.

So when your CoQ10 is depleted, you enter a vicious cycle of increased free radicals, loss of cellular energy, and damaged mitochondrial DNA.

Unfortunately, the majority of people who take statins are unaware of their need for CoQ10, and physicians rarely advise their patients to take this supplement along with their statin-at least in the United States. It’s also important to supplement right from the start. According to Dr. Graveline, once the mitochondrial damage and mutations are formed they cannot be reversed-no matter how much CoQ10 you take.

So early intervention is key. (Dr. Graveline goes into further detail of how CoQ10 offers protection against mitochondrial DNA damage in this interview, so for more information, please listen to it in its entirety.) If you decide to take a CoQ10 supplement and are over the age of 40, it’s important to choose the reduced version, called ubiquinol.

Ubiquinol is a FAR more effective form-I personally take 1-3 a day as it has far-ranging health benefits. Dr. Graveline concurs with this recommendation.

As for dosage, Dr. Graveline makes the following recommendation:

  • If you have symptoms of statin damage such as muscle pain, take anywhere from 200 to 500 mg
  • If you just want to use it preventively, 200 mg or less should be sufficient

There’s also evidence that CoQ10/ubiquinol is beneficial for Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer, and that large doses may be justified in those cases as well.

In addition, CoQ10 is believed to play an important role in preventing premature aging in general by preventing telomere shortening, which can slow or potentially even reverse the aging process. This is just one of the additional benefits of CoQ10, and one of the reasons why I take ubiquinol daily even though I’ve never been on a statin drug.

There are no reported side effects of CoQ10 supplementation, and neither I nor Dr. Graveline has ever heard of anyone overdosing on it. The only drawback is cost.

However, if you’re taking ubiquinol, here’s some cost-saving information for you.

Certified reduced ubiquinol is only manufactured by one company in the entire world, a Japanese company called Kaneca. They own the patent. So, as long as it’s certified ubiquinol, you can buy the cheapest brand you can find, because they’re all the same.

Other Valuable Antioxidants for Optimal Health-Especially if You’re Taking a Statin

CoQ10, or preferably the reduced version, ubiquinol, is at the top of the list of important supplements when you’re taking a statin drug. But there are also other antioxidants and nutrients that can be helpful. For example, selenium is also seriously inhibited by statin drugs, and selenium, along with magnesium, are commonly involved as co-factors in a variety of biological functions.

Other important nutrients include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E-An emerging form of vitamin E called tocotrienol is 50 times more powerful than tocopherol, which has been used for the past 60 years. It also helps produce cholesterol and has other biochemical advantages
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • L-carnitine-which helps metabolize fats properly. Since about 70 percent of your muscles’ energy comes from fats, it’s important to have the ability to metabolize them. According to Dr. Graveline:

“If you take L-carnitine and find that you suddenly feel much better, then you’ve just proven you need it for the rest of your life because you’re one of those people who have a dysfunction in this capability; you don’t have the means to properly burn fats at our muscle level… naturally you would then get weak when exercising. So it’s useful for making a diagnosis. If nothing happens after three months of a good dose, then I would say you can forget about L-carnitine.”

The Sad Truth: Even Your Doctor has Been Mislead About Cholesterol

That said, aside from taking CoQ10 if you’re on a statin, your diet really should be your primary source of nutrients. (For vitamin D, you’d ideally get it from sun exposure.) Supplements are just that; supplemental to an otherwise healthy diet.

“I think that when you have a statin associated muscle or nerve or even brain dysfunction, this is where you’ve got to go because that’s where the trouble is,” Dr. Graveline agrees.

“[I]f it’s cholesterol inhibition, you just eat more eggs… I can’t believe I went 17 years and never ate an egg. I can’t believe how gullible I was. I was this young medical doctor; I marched to that band of the cholesterol-causation people… I did everything I was supposed to do, and it was all wrong. I can’t believe that I was led astray, maybe for 25 years of my practice! It’s so bad to have to look back and realize you’ve been treating cardiovascular disease erroneously because you were doing what you were asked to do. The sad truth is that cholesterol, our supposed enemy for 35 years, has nothing to do with cardiovascular disease. It is the most important biochemical in your body.

…We all listened to what amounts to brainwashing. The brainwashing that we got from 1955 on, to just recently… They have liberalized the diet stuff recently though, so people are back to eating eggs and drinking whole milk and eating butter. I went around recommending margarine for so long, and margarine is what’s causing disease-butter is what’s helping to cure it. It’s incredible!”

This is true for the majority of our conventional medical professionals. They simply do not know better… which is all the more reason to arm yourself with the information you need to take control of your own health. Shunning statin drugs and addressing your lifestyle is the way to go if you have high cholesterol. For more information, please see my statin index page, which includes a plethora of free guidance and clear advice.


Multidrug-Resistant TB a Concern Along U.S.-Mexico Border.


The Wall Street Journal tracks the increase in tuberculosis cases along the U.S.-Mexico border and highlights concerns about the possibility of a drug-resistant TB outbreak.

The MDR-TB rates are still quite low compared to other nations — Mexico had 467 MDR-TB cases in 2011, and the U.S. had 124. Nearly half of the U.S. cases were in California and Texas. In San Diego, the overall TB rate is about twice the national average. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is currently trying to control its worst TB outbreak in a decade.

The article details the challenges presented by a relatively porous border, nonadherence to treatment, reduced funding, and drug-related violence.

Source: Wall Street Journal 



Stronger statins associated with muscle problems.

Among patients taking statins, those who reported experiencing muscle problems were prescribed a stronger or more potent statin, according to study results recently published in PLoS One.

Researchers analyzed 147,789 case reports from the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) database linking muscle-related adverse events to statin use from July 2005 to March 2011. Statins selected for analysis included: atorvastatin (Lipitor, Pfizer), simvastatin (Zocor, Merck), lovastatin (Mevacor, Merck), pravastatin (Pravachol, Bristol-Myers Squibb), rosuvastatin (Crestor, AstraZeneca), fluvastatin (Lescol, Novartis) and generic equivalents and foreign designations. Death, disability and hospitalization were collected as outcome measures for the main adverse event categories, which included joints and tendons, muscle atrophy and injury, and muscle coordination and weakness.

Overall, researchers found that relative risk rates were consistently higher for rosuvastatin and fluvastatin, intermediate for atorvastatin and simvastatin and low for pravastatin and lovastatin. When all muscle categories were incorporated, study results showed that rosuvastatin had the highest ranked risk, followed by atorvastatin (55%), simvastatin (26%), pravastatin (17%) and lovastatin (7.5%).

“These findings underscore that stronger statins bear higher risk — and should be used with greater caution and circumspection,” Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, professor in the departments of medicine and family and preventative medicine at the University of California, San Diego, said in a press release. “These rankings closely match the individual potencies of each statin. Thus, the strength of the statin drug appears to be a dominant factor in determining how likely muscle problems are to occur.”

Source: Endocrine Today.