Daily Archives: January 19, 2011

ObamaCare Repealed in the House

The House of Representatives resumed debate this morning on H.R. 2, legislation to repeal ObamaCare. A final vote came this evening, and it, as expected, passed easily with the new GOP majority in control. Also, in the “breaking news” category is a headline from American Spectator saying CBO Says Repealing ObamaCare Would Reduce Net Spending by $540 Billion. Haven’t heard that from the liberal news media, have you?

Unfortunately, Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid called today’s vote “partisan grandstanding,” and again said that he won’t allow a vote to take place in the Senate. Reid is using the same tactics that resulted in this lousy law being rammed down the throats of the American taxpayer to begin with.

Here are some interesting facts from my friend, Gary Bower, founder and President of the Campaign for Working Families:

Yesterday, 200 economists sent a letter to congressional leaders calling for ObamaCare’s repeal. In the letter they warned, “We believe [ObamaCare] is a threat to U.S. businesses and will place a crushing debt burden on future generations of Americans.” But it’s not just economists who are worried.

A Thomson Reuters survey released this week found that 65% of doctors fear ObamaCare will cause healthcare to deteriorate. Just 18% of doctors believe ObamaCare will improve healthcare in America. Who do you trust most when it comes to your healthcare — Harry Reid or your own doctor?

The concerns of so many doctors should not be dismissed. Consider some markers of the quality of healthcare in countries with socialized medicine. A 2008 study found that the United States “had the highest five-year survival rates for breast cancer, at 83.9% and prostate cancer, at 91.9%.” But in Great Britain’s National Health Service the figures were dismal: “69.7% survival for breast cancer … and 51.1% for prostate cancer.”

Writing in today’s New York Post, Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute notes that ObamaCare is already having a negative impact on healthcare in America. Here are some of the emerging problems she cites:

  • Because of ObamaCare mandates, construction at 45 hospitals around the country has been halted.
  • 40% of doctors said they plan to “drop out of patient care in the next one to three years.”
  • 60% of doctors said they will close or significantly restrict their practices. (How are the 30 million folks supposedly insured under ObamaCare going to get healthcare if 40-60% of doctors quit or restrict their practices?)

On the House floor today, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said, “You know there is a lot of talk these days around here about where Members of Congress are going to sit during the State of the Union Address.  …I learned a long time ago it doesn’t really matter where you sit.  It matters where you stand.  And today House Republicans are going to stand with the American people and vote to repeal [the Democrats’] government takeover of health care lock, stock and barrel.”

Despite what happened today, it won’t be the end of this fight. If the Senate refuses to act on repeal legislation, House conservatives are determined to defund ObamaCare. Just as importantly, the House is scheduled to vote soon on a resolution instructing various House committees to start drafting free market alternatives to ObamaCare — alternatives that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama refused to consider last year.

No doubt this story will continue to evolve.

Ella Abortion Drug Falsely Called a “Contraceptive Pill”

The ella® abortion drug has been billed by its distributor, the FDA, and abortion advocates as an improved “emergency contraceptive pill.” It is available across the United States via prescription.

Upon its release, Watson Pharmaceuticals, based in New Jersey, announced that ella® (ulipristal acetate) was available for women to obtain and use up to five days following unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. While the company maintain the drug works only as a “contraceptive agent,” the fact of the matter is that five days is sufficient time for conception to take place and confer into existence the life of a unique human being who needs only a nine month pregnancy to be born.

Here are the details from LifeNews: “ella® is the first truly new emergency contraceptive option for U.S. women since 1999. It has a unique sustained efficacy profile and offers women an additional therapeutic option for preventing unintended pregnancy,” Wilkinson, Executive Vice President of Watson Global Brands, said in a statement LifeNews.com obtained.

“We are committed to making this innovative prescription-only emergency contraceptive option available to women as soon as possible and supporting the availability of ella® in ways that emphasize education and access,” he said.

The drug company indicated the ella® launch will be phased over the next several months and will include physician educational initiatives, advocacy outreach and educational websites for consumers.

Watson wants the abortion drug to be available immediately and indicates “stocking efforts have ensured the product will be available immediately by prescription at most retail pharmacies, clinics, as well as online via a licensed online pharmacy.”

Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America and a national leader against the ella drug, responded to the news in a comment to LifeNews.com.

“The fact that ella is now on sale across the country means that millions of women are at risk for dangerous side effects of this new abortion drug,” she said. “Make no mistake about it, ella, the new abortion drug, will be marketed on college campuses nationwide, and young women across America will be put in serious danger.”

“It is appalling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved this drug which is dangerous for women and fatal for preborn children. The FDA needs to rescind its approval this new abortion drug before women and children are harmed,” Hawkins added.

Ella has been available in Europe as an emergency contraceptive since October 2009, where it is marketed by its developer,  HRA Pharma, as ellaOne.

But the FDA, when it approved the drug, made its decision based on data from two phase III clinical trails the French drug maker HRA Pharma sponsored.

The studies showed 1.51 percent of women using ella (or ellaOne in Europe) became pregnant when using the drug 72 hours after intercourse while 2.81 percent became pregnant when using the Plan B drug.

However, Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America, said the ella abortion drug maker could not answer other questions.

“The drug sponsor couldn’t provide information on whether Ella can cause birth defects, or what happens to women who are pregnant who take it. And yet the committee strongly recommended not giving a woman a pregnancy test,” she told LifeNews.com after the hearing.

“In Europe, Ella is contra-indicated (not to be used) in pregnancies. But the FDA committee voted to not to test women to detect if they’re pregnant. They are telling doctors to be willfully blind when giving the drug,” Wright continued.

Americans United for Life and the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists told the FDA a study in England confirms the pro-life perspective that ulipristal acts as an abortion drug.

Anna Glasier, of NHS Lothian in Edinburgh, led a study of more than 5,500 women in the UK published online in The Lancet medical journal. It found fewer pregnancies among those women given the ellaOne drug within five days of intercourse.

And for women who took the drug between 3-5 days after having sex, only women taking the traditional morning after pill became pregnant. They’s because all of the women using ulipristal during that time period had abortions.

“AAPLOG has concluded from publicly available information that ulipristal acetate is an abortifacient of the same type as mifepristone (RU 486) and that its approval as an emergency contraceptive raises serious health and ethical issues,” the pro-life physicians group says. “Furthermore, ulipristal’s potential effects on women who used the drug off-label and upon ongoing pregnancies are essentially unexamined and untested.”

Pharmacists For Life International, in a statement to LifeNews.com, confirms the abortifacient nature of the Ella drug.

PFLI calls Ella a “chemical cousin analog of mifepristone,” the abortion drug more commonly known by its experimental name, RU 486. “Ulipristal acetate, according to its own developers, can kill embryos,” it confirms.

The organization said it “vehemently denounces and condemns the FDA for this inappropriate use of its drug regulatory power to destroy life rather than approve and regulate medicines which actually are life-saving and preserve health.”

PFLI says it is concerned women will purchase the drug and stockpile it in large doses and sidestep the routine surgical or drug-induced abortion process with dangerous at-home abortions. It also worries the drug will be used by men who want to hide evidence of their crimes of sexual assault.

“This will lead to additional life-endangering problems for the targeted adolescent girls and women, as well as giving continued cover for sexual predators of underage girls and incestuous abusive relationships,” the group worries.

Watson is the exclusive marketer of ella in the U.S.

Lower-Priced Resveratrol Supplements Pass Quality Tests While Some Higher-Priced Brands Flunk

Nature’s Code ResveratrexConsumerLab.com has reported that tests of supplements containing resveratrol — a compound promoted as “life-extending” — revealed that two products provided only 43.4% and 86.7%, respectively, of their listed amounts of resveratrol. These two products were among the most expensive supplements of the ten products selected for testing by ConsumerLab.com.

Surprisingly, ALL of the lower-priced products fared well in the tests.

Results for all ten products are now published in ConsumerLab.com’s Review of Resveratrol Supplements. An additional nine products that passed the same testing through ConsumerLab.com’s Voluntary Certification Program are included in the report as well as one product similar to one that passed testing but sold under a different brand name.

Resveratrol products have proliferated following reports in 2006 of life-extending and athletic endurance-enhancing effects of resveratrol in animals. Sales of resveratrol supplements were estimated at $31 million in the U.S. in 2009 by Nutrition Business Journal.

Laboratory research has also shown antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and other effects. Human studies of resveratrol’s effectiveness have NOT been reported, but many are underway.

At least one researcher in the field, Dr. David Sinclair at Harvard Medical School, is noted as taking resveratrol personally at a dose of approximately 350 mg per day.

In addition to quality issues, ConsumerLab.com found the daily suggested dosage among resveratrol products to range from 50 to 1,020 mg of resveratrol. The cost to obtain 100 mg of resveratrol from products ranged from $0.15 to as much as $2.76 — more than a 17-fold difference.

Based on a daily dose of 400 mg of resveratrol, the daily cost would range from $0.60 to $11.04.

None of the products were contaminated with lead or cadmium, which can occur in plant-based supplements, and all tablets were able to properly break apart in solution.

“There is still much to learn about resveratrol,” said ConsumerLab.com’s president, Tod Cooperman, M.D.  “At least those who choose to use it can now find out which products contain what they claim, which do not, and how to save money buying resveratrol.”

Brands covered in the new report are:

  • Bioforte (Biotivia),
  • Country Life,
  • Finest Natural (Walgreen),
  • Life Extension,
  • Life Smart,
  • Nutralife,
  • Perfect ResGrape,
  • Protocol for Life Balance,
  • pureandhealthy Res98,
  • Puritan’s Pride,
  • ReserveAge Organics,
  • Resveratrex (Nature’s Code),
  • Resveratrol Max,
  • Resveratrox (Garden Greens),
  • Resvinatrol,
  • Solaray,
  • Solgar,
  • Swanson,
  • Transmax (Biotivia), and
  • Vitamin World.

The two products that failed testing were:

  • Nature’s Code Resveratrex
  • Resvinatrol Complete

The report also provides information regarding dosage and possible side-effects, and comparisons of active and inactive ingredients in the resveratrol products.

ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Their reviews of popular types of vitamins, supplements, and generic drugs are available here. Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online.

The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products.

Tai Chi May Provide Arthritis Relief, But At What Spiritual Cost?

Arthritis patients may gain physical and emotional relief from the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi, finds a new study, the largest of its kind. This study just confirms the finds of previous smaller studies, but raises the question: “Just because something works, does it always mean it’s right to use it?”

Let me explain — first starting with a review of what Tai Chi is that comes from my book, Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely:

Alternative Medicine - 2009

  • Tai Chi, or Tai Chi Chuan, literally means “supreme ultimate power” and is part of traditional Chinese medicine. There are five major styles, with the yang form most commonly practiced in the West. As with Qigong, the purpose of the practice is to restore a balanced flow of chi and thereby promote health.

  • Most Westerners are familiar with Tai Chi as a martial art consisting of meditation, breathing exercises, and slow, graceful movements. It comes in short and long versions, lasting about ten or thirty minutes, respectively. Each session is composed of a series of specific postures combined into one long exercise. Many of these developed from watching animal and bird movements, as reflected in their names: “white crane spreads wings,” “golden rooster stands on one leg,” and “ride the tiger.” Practicing outdoors is said to be better because it allows universal chi in the earth to rise up through one’s feet to replenish the person’s own chi.

  • The martial arts aspect of Tai Chi is little understood by practitioners of other forms of karate such as Tae Kwon Do, Kempo, and the like. The movements are so slow and smooth that they are comfortable for the elderly, which is not the case with other forms of martial arts that involve strikes and blocks.

  • However, a skilled Tai Chi practitioner can speed up the movements to serve as a form of self-defense. Many Westerners are also unaware of, or unconcerned about, the spiritual aspects of Tai Chi.

Tai Chi, or Tai Chi Chuan, literally means “supreme

ultimate power” and is part of traditional Chinese
medicine. There are five major styles, with the yang
form most commonly practiced in the West. As with
Qigong, the purpose of the practice is to restore a
balanced flow of chi and thereby promote health.
Most Westerners are familiar with Tai Chi as a
martial art consisting of meditation, breathing exercises,
and slow, graceful movements. It comes in
short and long versions, lasting about ten or thirty
minutes, respectively. Each session is composed of
a series of specific postures combined into one long
exercise. Many of these developed from watching
animal and bird movements, as reflected in their
names: “white crane spreads wings,” “golden rooster
stands on one leg,” and “ride the tiger.” Practicing
outdoors is said to be better because it allows universal
chi in the earth to rise up through one’s feet to
replenish the person’s own chi.
The martial arts aspect of Tai Chi is little understood
by practitioners of other forms of karate such
as Tae Kwon Do, Kempo, and the like. The movements
are so slow and smooth that they are comfortable
for the elderly, which is not the case with other
forms of martial arts that involve strikes and blocks.
However, a skilled Tai Chi practitioner can speed up
the movements to serve as a form of self-defense.
Many Westerners are also unaware of, or unconcerned
about, the spiritual aspects of Tai Chi.

Does it work? The answer is yes, for some indications. However, as I write in the book, “Overall, the evidence is weak that Tai Chi is beneficial psychologically, with no evidence that it is more beneficial than other exercise programs.”

Nevertheless, the spiritual issues surround Tai Chi may be of concern. In the book, I write, “The same cautions as expressed with all other life energy therapies apply to Tai Chi. The religious nature and goals of Eastern therapies should not be forgotten. In attempting to introduce people to the universal energy field — and help them become unified with the Universal Consciousness — these practices can be the door to the occult realm.”

Our conclusions about Tai Chi are:

  • Tai Chi is frequently offered in the West as both an innocuous exercise regimen and a martial art, often with no religious aspects discussed with students.
  • However, more serious practitioners are often committed followers of Eastern religions and may teach that these beliefs must be embraced to properly practice Tai Chi or experience its benefits. Thus, while there may be some general health benefits, Tai Chi may also bring spiritual harm.

Our overall conclusion about Tai Chi is this:

  • Exercise programs have been designed for people at every point on the fitness scale and with a variety of preexisting ailments. We see no reason to adopt one immersed in religious connotations when nonspiritual alternatives are widely available.

For those interested in Tai Chi only as a form of exercise, here are the details on the new study from HealthDay News:

Patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia felt better and moved more easily after taking twice-weekly classes in Tai Chi, a system of meditative exercise, researchers found.

“It reduced pain, stiffness and fatigue, and improved their balance,” said study lead author Leigh F. Callahan, an associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Smaller studies have also linked Tai Chi to similar benefits for people with arthritis, but colleagues had questioned the applicability of the findings to a larger population.

In this study, in addition to evidence of mild to moderate relief from Tai Chi, participants reported gaining a better sense of physical stability, Callahan said. They were able to extend their reach while maintaining their balance, she said — an important feat for people with arthritis.

Tai Chi, a form of mind-body exercise, originated as a martial art in China. It utilizes slow, gentle movements along with deep breathing and relaxation to build strength and flexibility.

Tai Chi has “become a lot more mainstream than it was even two to three years ago,” said Callahan, who is also a member of UNC’s Thurston Arthritis Research Center. “We’ve got people embracing it and being very interested in it.”

If Tai Chi is proven to reduce arthritis symptoms, it could become a cheap and fairly simple treatment for the various forms of the condition. Typically, Tai Chi classes are inexpensive or free, Callahan said, and in this study, people with arthritis could participate even if they preferred to sit rather than stand.

In the study, the researchers randomly assigned 247 people — almost all female and white, and diagnosed with various types of arthritis — to attend one-hour, twice-weekly, Tai Chi classes for two months, or to take the Tai Chi classes at a later time. The classes were designed by the Arthritis Foundation. The participants were from 20 sites in New Jersey and North Carolina, and they had to be able to move without assistance to be eligible.

The researchers took reports from all the participants on their levels of pain, fatigue, stiffness and physical function before the study began and at the eight-week evaluation period. They were also asked to rate themselves on their overall health, their psychological state (such as perceived helplessness), and how well they could perform daily activities.

The participants were also tested on their strength and physical performance by using a timed chair stand (which evaluates lower leg strength), their walking gait (both normal and fast) and two balance tests (a single leg stand and a reach test.)

Callahan said she couldn’t yet quantify the improvements by percentage, but the available data suggest that participants felt mildly to moderately better and improved their sense of well-being. They also slept better, she said.

Tai Chi appears to provide both physical and mental benefits, she added. “The whole program is designed to help people be relaxed and think about their breathing, think about their movements. Everything is slow and deliberate and purposeful.”

The findings of the study — which was funded in part by the Arthritis Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — were released at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta.

Myeong Soo Lee, a principal researcher with the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in Daejeon, South Korea, said the study is “rigorous” but has limitations. For one thing, it didn’t break down the benefits by arthritis type, she noted.

There’s evidence to support Tai Chi to reduce the symptoms of knee arthritis, but not for rheumatoid arthritis, said Lee, who has studied Tai Chi and arthritis.

While the findings may add weight to the case for Tai Chi as a treatment for some forms of arthritis, Lee said more information is needed before it could become a blanket prescription.

Since the study was presented at a conference, its findings and conclusions should be regarded as preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.