More than 25 million people dying in agony without morphine every year

Concern over illicit use and addiction is putting morphine out of reach for millions of patients globally who need it for pain relief

More than 25 million people, including 2.5 million children, die in agony every year around the world, for want of morphine or other palliative care, according to a major investigation.

Poor people cannot get pain relief in many countries of the world because their needs are overlooked or the authorities are so worried about the potential illicit use of addictive opioids that they will not allow their importation.

Staring into this access abyss, one sees the depth of extreme suffering in the cruel face of poverty and inequity, says a special report from a commission set up by the Lancet medical journal.

In Haiti, for instance, says the report, there are no nursing homes or hospices for the dying and most have to suffer without pain relief at home.

Patients in pain from trauma or malignancy are treated with medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, says testimony from Antonia P Eyssallenne of the University of Miami School of Medicine. Moreover, nurses are uncomfortable giving high doses of narcotics even if ordered to do so for fear of being responsible for the patients death, even if the patient is terminal.

Death in Haiti is cruel, raw, and devastatingly premature. There is often no explanation, no sympathy, and no peace, especially for the poor.

A doctor in Kerala, India, which has a palliative care service, told of the arrival of a man in agony from lung cancer. We put Mr S on morphine, among other things. A couple of hours later, he surveyed himself with disbelief. He had neither hoped nor conceived of the possibility that this kind of relief was possible, said Dr M R Rajagopal.

But when he returned, morphine stocks were out. Mr S told us with outward calm, I shall come again next Wednesday. I will bring a piece of rope with me. If the tablets are still not here, I am going to hang myself from that tree. He pointed to the window. I believed he meant what he said.

The commissions three-year inquiry found that nearly half of all deaths globally 25.5 million a year involve serious suffering for want of pain relief and palliative care. A further 35.5 million people live with chronic pain and distress. Of the 61 million total, 5.3 million are children. More than 80% of the suffering takes place in low and middle-income countries.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, said things had to change. Failure of health systems in poor countries is a major reason that patients need palliative care in the first place. More than 90% of these child deaths are from avoidable causes. We can and will change both these dire situations.

Morphine is hard to obtain in some countries and virtually unobtainable in others. Mexico meets 36% of its need, China meets 16%, India 4% and Nigeria 0.2%. In some of the worlds poorest countries, such as Haiti, Afghanistan and many countries in Africa, oral morphine in palliative care is virtually non-existent.

Oral and injectable morphine is out of patent, but costs vary widely and it is cheaper in affluent countries like the USA than in poor countries. A second issue is opiophobia the fear that allowing the drugs to be used in hospitals will lead to addiction and crime in the community.

The world suffers a deplorable pain crisis: little to no access to morphine for tens of millions of adults and children in poor countries who live and die in horrendous and preventable pain, says Professor Felicia Knaul, co-chair of the commission from the University of Miami, calling it one of the worlds most striking injustices.

Knaul says she only realised that many people suffered without pain relief when she was working to improve access to cancer treatment in low-income countries. I was shocked. I had no idea. When people were showing me the data I thought it cant be in this world, she told the Guardian.

She had also experienced the need for morphine herself after a mastectomy for breast cancer. When I woke up I couldnt breathe because the pain was so bad. If they hadnt arrived with the morphine I dont know how I would have got through it. And as a young girl in Mexico, she had to watch her father suffer as he died without pain relief.

I dont think that we have cared enough about poor people who have pain, she said. It doesnt make them live any longer. It doesnt make them more productive. It is simply the human right of not suffering any more pain and we dont care about that for people who are poor.

The commission recommends that all countries put in place a relatively inexpensive package of effective palliative care for end of life conditions that cause suffering, including HIV, cancers, heart disease, injuries and dementia.

One of their most emphatic recommendations, says Knaul, is that immediate-release, off-patent, morphine that can cost just pennies should be made available in both oral and injectable formulations for any patient with medical need. The disparity and access abyss between the haves and have-nots is a medical, public health and moral injustice that can be effectively addressed by the commissions recommendations.

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Why single payer health care is a terrible option

(CNN)The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is failing. Without regard for consequences, the law expanded government insurance programs and imposed considerable federal authority over US health care via new mandates, regulations and taxes. Insurance premiums skyrocketed even as deductibles rose; consumer choices of insurance on state marketplaces have rapidly vanished; and for those with ACA coverage, doctor and hospital choices have narrowed dramatically. Meanwhile, consolidation across the health care sector has accelerated at a record pace, portending further harm to consumers, including higher prices of medical care.

Almost inexplicably, even more top-down control — single-payer health care, a system in which the government provides nationalized health insurance, sets all fees for medical care and pays those fees to doctors and hospitals — has found new support from the left. And this despite its decades of documented failures in other countries to provide timely, quality medical care, and in the face of similar problems in our own single-payer Veterans Affairs system.
Clearly, this moment cries out for the truth about single-payer health care — conclusions from historical evidence and data.
    Single-payer health care is proven to be consistently plagued by these characteristics:

    Massive waiting lists and dangerous delays for medical appointments

    In those countries with the longest experience of single-payer government insurance, published data demonstrates massive waiting lists and unconscionable delays that are unheard of in the United States. In England alone, approximately 3.9 million patients are on NHS waiting lists; over 362,000 patients waited longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment in March 2017, an increase of almost 64,000 on the previous year; and 95,252 have been waiting more than six months for treatment — all after already waiting for and receiving initial diagnosis and referral.
    In Canada’s single-payer system, the 2016 median wait for a referral from a general practitioner appointment to the specialist appointment was 9.4 weeks; when added to the median wait of 10.6 weeks from specialist to first treatment, the median wait after seeing a doctor to start treatment was 20 weeks, or about 4.5 months.
    Ironically, US media outrage was widespread when pre-ACA 2009 data showed that time-to-appointment for Americans averaged 20.5 days for five common specialties. That selective reporting failed to note that those waits were for healthy check-ups in almost all cases, by definition the lowest medical priority. Even for simple physical exams and purely elective, routine appointments, US wait times before ACA were shorter than for seriously ill patients in countries with nationalized, single-payer insurance.

    Life-threatening delays for treatment, even for patients requiring urgent cancer treatment or critical brain surgery

    Those same insured patients in single-payer systems are dying while waiting for the most critical care, including those referred by doctors for “urgent treatment” for already diagnosed cancer (almost 19% wait more than two months) and brain surgery (17% wait more than four months). In Canada’s single-payer system, the median wait for neurosurgery after already seeing the doctor was a shocking 46.9 weeks — about 10 months. And in Canada, if you needed life-changing orthopedic surgery, like hip or knee replacement, you would wait a startling 38 weeks — about the same time it takes from fertilization to a full-term human life.

    Delayed availability of life-saving drugs

    Americans enjoy the world’s quickest access to the newest prescription drugs, in stark contrast to patients in single-payer systems. In Joshua Cohen’s 2006 study of patient access to 71 drugs, between 1999 and 2005 the UK government’s guidelines board, NICE, had been slower than the United States to authorize 64 of these. Before the ACA, the United States was by far the most frequent country where new cancer drugs were first launched — by a factor of at least four — compared to any country studied in the previous decade, including Germany, Japan, Switzerland, France, Canada, Italy and the UK, according to the Annals of Oncology in 2007.
    In a 2011 Health Affairs study, of 35 new cancer drugs submitted from 2000-2011, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved 32 while the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved only 26. Median time to approval in the United States was about half of that in Europe. All 23 drugs approved by both were available to US patients first. Even in the most recent data, two-thirds of the novel drugs approved in 2015 (29 of 45, 64%) were approved in the United States before any other country. And yet, only months ago, NHS in England introduced a new “Budget Impact Test” to cap drug prices, a measure that is specifically designed to further restrict drug access even though the delays will break their own NHS Constitution pledges to its citizens.

    Worse availability of screening tests

    Despite what some might suppose about a likely strength of a government-centralized system, the facts show that single-payer systems cannot even outperform our system in something as scheduled and routine as cancer screening tests. Confirming numerous prior OECD studies, a Health Affairs study reported in 2009, before any Affordable Care Act screening requirements, that the United States had superior screening rates to all 10 European countries with nationalized systems for all cancers. Likewise, the single payer system of Canada fails to deliver screening tests for the most common cancers as broadly as the US system, including PAP smears and colonoscopies. And Americans are more likely to be screened younger for cancer than in Europe, when the expected benefit is greatest. Not surprisingly, US patients have had less advanced disease at diagnosis than in Europe for almost all cancers.

    Significantly worse outcomes from serious diseases

    It might be said that the bottom line about a health care system is the data on outcomes from treatable illnesses. To no one’s surprise, the consequences of delayed access to medications, diagnosis and treatment are significantly worse outcomes from virtually all serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes compared to Americans.
    And while some studies have noted that Canadians and Germans, for example, have longer life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates than Americans do, they are misleading. Those statistics are extremely coarse and depend on a wide array of complex inputs having little to do with health care, including differences in lifestyle (smoking, obesity, hygiene, safe sex), population heterogeneity, environmental conditions, incidence of suicide and homicide and even differences in what counts as a live birth.
    The truth is that the UK, Canada and other European countries for decades have used wait lists for surgery, diagnostic procedures and doctor appointments specifically as a means of rationing care. And long waits for needed care are not simply inconvenient. Research (for example, here) has consistently shown that waiting for medical care has serious consequences, including pain and suffering, worse medical outcomes and significant costs to individuals in foregone wages and to the overall economy. In contrast to countries with single-payer health systems, it is broadly acknowledged that “waiting lists are not a feature in the United States” for medical care, as stated by Dr. Sharon Wilcox in her study comparing strategies to measure and reduce this important failure of centralized health systems.
    What has been the response to the public outcry about unacceptable waits for care in single-payer systems? First, a growing list of European governments have issued dozens of “guarantees” with intentionally lax targets, and even those targets continue to be missed. Second, many single-payer systems now funnel taxpayer money to private care to solve their systems’ inadequacies, just as we now do in our own Veteran Affairs system, and even use taxpayer money for care in other countries.

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    Instead of judging health system reforms by the number of people classified as “insured,” reforms should focus on making excellent medical care more broadly available and affordable without restricting its use or creating obstacles to future innovation. Reducing the cost of medical care requires creating conditions long proven to bring down prices while improving quality: increasing the supply of medical care, stimulating competition among providers and incentivizing empowered consumers to consider price.
    Single-payer systems in countries with decades of experience have been proven in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals to be inferior to the US system in terms of both access and quality. Americans enjoy superior access to health care — whether defined by access to screening; wait-times for diagnosis, treatment, or specialists; timeliness of surgery; or availability of technology and drugs. As those countries turn to privatization to solve their systems’ failures, progressives here illogically pursue that failed model.
    And make no mistake about it — America’s most vulnerable, the poor, as well as the middle class, will undoubtedly suffer the most if the system turns to single-payer health care, because they will be unable to circumvent that system.

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    US people of color still more likely to be exposed to pollution than white people

    New federal government-funded study finds exposure to a key air pollutant is significantly influenced by race, far more than by income, age or education

    People of color are still far more likely to suffer from harmful air pollution than white people across the US and this disparity has barely improved in recent years, despite overall improvements in air quality, a new federal government-funded study has found.

    Exposure to nitrogen dioxide, NO2, a key transportation-related pollutant, is significantly influenced by race, far more than by income, age or education, the paper found.

    While the racial imbalance in pollution impacts has long been noted by researchers and environmental justice campaigners, the study found that progress in addressing it has been sluggish.

    The report comes as the Trump administration has outlined plans to dismantle the EPAs office of environmental justice, which advocates for communities of color.

    What surprised us is that race matters more than income when it comes to who is breathing in NO2, said Julian Marshall, UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior author of the study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives on Thursday.

    I just stared at these findings and thought: What is going on? You would think places near highways would cost less. But its race that is driving this, not income. Urban planners tell us that cities are still really segregated people live close to people who look like them. We are seeing the outcome of that.

    In columns A and B, red identifies locations where NO2 concentrations were higher for nonwhite people than white people; blue indicates that NO2 concentrations were higher for white than nonwhite people; and white means they were equal. In column C, red indicates that the absolute difference inNO2 concentration between nonwhites and whites increased over time; blue indicates that difference decreased over time; and white indicates no change. Photograph: Handout

    The study, funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, found that overall exposure to NO2 among all Americans dropped between 2000 and 2010. But black and Hispanic people experienced 37% higher exposures to the pollutant than white people in 2010 only a slight decrease from the 40% gap in 2000.

    In some parts of the country, the situation has actually become worse. In 2000, concentrations of NO2 in neighborhoods with the smallest proportions of white people were 2.5 times higher than in areas that are overwhelmingly white. In 2010, this discrepancy increased to 2.7 times higher. The gap between white and nonwhite people is starkest in the midwest and California.

    NO2 is a nationally regulated pollutant that is emitted through the burning of fuel by cars, trucks and power plants. The pollution can make the air hazy and trigger a range of health problems, such as coughing, wheezing and infections, particularly in those with respiratory issues such as asthma.

    According to the EPA, annual concentrations of NO2 have dropped across the US by 56% since 1990. But this overall improvement hasnt wiped out the disproportionate impact suffered by black and Hispanic people, who have historically been housed nearer to major roads, industrial plants and other sources of pollutants than whites.

    The University of Washington study estimated that if people of color breathed in the same level of NO2 as white people, about 5,000 premature deaths from heart disease would have been avoided in 2010.

    Everyone benefited from clean air regulations and less pollution; thats the good news, said Lara Clark, lead author and UW civil and environmental engineering doctoral student.

    But the fact that there is a pervasive gap in exposure to NO2 by race and that the relative gap was more or less preserved over a decade is the bad news.

    Previous research has found that the very worst polluting sites are situated next to neighborhoods with high minority populations. The EPA has typically been reluctant to use the Civil Rights Act to prosecute polluters and help remedy this situation.

    We have policies in place to reduce pollution in general but we dont have policies in place on environmental justice, said Marshall. We arent addressing the disparities in health risks. Its important that this is recognized. We cant just ignore it.

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    6 Enormous Dick Moves From Big Pharma (You Never Noticed)

    For being the industry that provides us with both life-saving drugs and boner pills, Big Pharma sure gets a lot of hate. But it turns out they’re even better at sucking than we thought, filling their day-to-day lives with lots of little acts of douchebaggery to keep us miserable through all of our waking moments. For example …


    Pfizer Sold Viagra To Millions Of Men Instead Of Treating Their Heart Disease

    Years of toxic masculinity and lazy sitcom jokes have thoroughly convinced men that if their penises don’t work, it’s the end of the world. Fortunately for the 30 million men with erectile dysfunction in the U.S., pharma giant Pfizer can cure what ails you. Just stock up on Viagra, and your little guy will keep going and going and going, right up to the moment you die of heart disease.

    Viagra, the blue pill that lets you drill, might be one of the grandest and most successful acts of bullshit marketing in history. Until about 25 years ago, pharmacy companies were saying that impotence only affected 10-20 million men, and most of them were too old to worry or care about it. But in 1994, researchers Edward Laumann and John Gagnon (who were conveniently on Pfizer’s payroll) put out a study claiming that 30-50 percent of adults were sexually dissatisfied, which seems a lot harder to scientifically quantify than real medical conditions. For all we know, that study only proves that 30-50 percent of men couldn’t resist making a crack about their wives when asked by two dudes how their sex lives were.

    Lying pfucks.

    Laumann and Gagnon later expanded on this study to claim that 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men were not just sexually dissatisfied, but in fact dysfunctional. Pfizer ran with this, using the studies to claim that 30 million American men suffered from a term that everyone is now familiar with: “erectile dysfunction.” That dubious study, combined with urologist Irwin Goldstein (who was also on Pfizer’s payroll) saying that impotence was a major health concern, mean it’s no surprise that Pfizer made a billion dollars off of Viagra in a few months, giving them yet another bulge in their pants to be proud about.

    But the real crime here is that all this focus on regaining strong, lasting erections has obscured the real issue: If you’re having problems with your penis, the problem is rarely about your penis. It probably can be traced to your heart or brain, which we’ve been told are more important organs. Men usually suffer from impotence because of issues related to strokes or heart disease — both of which can be triggered if you’re having marathon sex hopped up on boner pills. In 1998, Pfizer was forced to add warning labels to the famous pill, which solved the problem forever, because everyone reads those. But before they did that, over 130 men died because Pfizer had convinced them to not seek true medical help, and they did so while getting busy. We’re surprised the company didn’t simply commission another study claiming that 30-50 percent of those men’s dying words were “Totally worth it.”


    Painkiller Companies Are Trying To Keep Marijuana Illegal

    Marijuana, to put it in medical terms, is the shit. It’s basically magic if you’re going through chemotherapy, being the only known drug which both reduces nausea and increases appetite. It also reduces pain, helps you sleep, and improves your mood. It also helps you see colors — like, really see colors. Also, just … outer space, man.

    Not everyone is happy about the medical properties of marijuana, though. Pharmaceutical companies are used to selling painkillers and other drugs for large amounts of money, and they don’t want to share their profits with a bunch of stoners. They’re right to be worried, too. States that have legalized medical marijuana see a notable drop in pharmaceutical drug sales, especially painkillers. In those same states, opioid overdoses have dropped by 25 percent. But if you think fewer people dying of drug overdoses is a good thing, you’re never going to get anywhere in the pharmaceutical game.

    In 2016, when eight different states approved measures to legalize marijuana in one form or another, Arizona was one state that resisted.

    Business Insider
    “Arizona: Still slightly cooler than Utah!”

    That might have something to do with Insys Therapeutics, a company which manufactures a painkiller specifically for cancer patients, which poured $500,000 in campaign funds into an organization opposing the measure to legalize pot. Of course, when they were asked about it, they claimed that … oh, they admitted outright that it was because they would make less money. They seemed baffled by the idea that they couldn’t own the painkiller market, since they were owning Congress perfectly fine.

    However, realizing they’re probably next on the list of things Millennials are killing, these companies are taking a page out of Pfizer’s (and Big Tobacco’s) books and paying experts to tell everyone that marijuana is dangerous. Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University has made plenty of appearances on NPR, CNBC, and CBS News, talking out of his ass about how addictive marijuana is and how it will lead to a public health crisis. What they never seem to mention, though, is that he’s been paid by numerous drug companies, including the makers of OxyContin. And if the makers of New Heroin are paying you to say weed is dangerous, you might as well roll that PhD into a big fat blunt and smoke it.


    Purdue Pharma Marketed OxyContin Specifically To Skeezy Doctors

    OxyContin is probably the most widely prescribed drug that will absolutely fuck you up sideways. It will get rid of your pain, along with all your other senses and any connection to the real world. It can also cause nausea, heart failure, death, and worst of all, the hiccups. And as you probably already know by now, it’s as addictive as heroin, with similar withdrawal symptoms, like fever, nausea, panic attacks, and writing terrible poetry. How in the hell did a drug this dangerous manage to get into the hands of so many people? Via doctors, of course.

    OxyContin was made available to the public in 1996, making $45 million in sales in its first year. By 2000, only four years later, it was making an astonishing $1.1 billion for its manufacturer, Purdue Pharma. Coincidentally, in that timespan, there was a massive increase in the number of doctors prescribing OxyContin for everything from back pain to arthritis to stubbed toes to “thought they saw a spider.” That’s because Purdue had an ingenious plan to recruit not just any doctors, but the right kind of doctors. Instead of chasing every Tom, Dick, and Jan wearing a stethoscope, the company started keeping records of thousands of quacks who were already pushing much more painkillers than the average doc. Once they’d found their pill monkeys, it was a simple matter of getting them to switch brands.

    Whether those doctors were sleazy or living somewhere with a high density of people with bad backs didn’t matter to Purdue. For the ones who cared enough to inquire after the addictive properties of the drug, Purdue’s sales reps came up with a pretty inventive solution: They lied. They claimed that the potential for OxyContin addiction was “less than 1 percent,” and even made this a major part of their marketing to physicians. As we now know, the addictive potential of the drug is in truth closer to a hundred million percent, but we’d hate to be splitting hairs.

    In 2007, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to lying about how safe OxyContin was, paying a $600 million fine for creating a “corporate culture that allowed this product to be misbranded with the intent to defraud and mislead.” This taught the company a valuable lesson for about ten seconds, which is roughly the time it now takes for them to earn that much profit. And if it breaks your heart to know that a company can get away with creating a nationwide health crisis for less than they probably spend on Christmas bonuses, Purdue has precisely the pill for that.


    India Is Flooding The U.S. Market With Counterfeit Medicine That Doesn’t Work

    We do at least have one recourse from the highly expensive drugs that line the mysterious back shelves of the pharmacy: sweet, sweet generic brands. If you can’t afford the big name, you can get something that works almost exactly the same for a fraction of the price, allowing you to stave off liver disease and still afford luxuries like bread. Finally, the free market delivers a solution that works! Also, your generic drugs are probably counterfeit.

    Right now, 40 percent of all generic drugs sold in the United States are made in India, which has its own version of Big Pharma. And the World Health Organization estimates that 20 percent of their drugs are fake. So does that mean that the drugs don’t work, or that they are cheap knockoffs of commercial drugs? Yes.

    Indian law states that while the process of making a drug is patented, the drug itself is not. This means that anyone who reverse-engineers a Viagra, or something less important like cancer drugs, can manufacture it on their own and sell it. Without any decent checks and balances, this means anyone with a chemistry kit can claim they’ve cracked OxyContin and ship it off to the rest of the world. After some of these drugs were finally tested, a number of them (ranging from 12-20 percent) were found to have no active ingredients whatsoever, making them as effective as Styrofoam. They weren’t all floppy boner pills, either. These scams includes fake cancer drugs and antibiotics for sick infants, which is a move so comically evil you’d expect to see it in an episode of Jonny Quest.

    “Actually, that ‘v’ is a typo. Our bad.”

    This lack of oversight is what makes selling fake drugs such a huge industry. Ten percent of the world’s drug trade is made up of counterfeits, and this economy’s growing at an estimated 25 percent per year. The FDA here in the USA is finally starting to crack down on this, springing surprise inspections on Indian plants and fining manufacturer Ranbaxy a whopping $500 million for their lies. Their response was to ask the FDA commissioner to keep letting them sell their fake drugs to the American public. After all, how else were they going to afford that fine?

    There’s an even worse side of this, however. The explosion of drugs has led to a large increase in pollution from pharmaceutical factories. As if regular pollution isn’t bad enough, pharmapollution can lead to increased antibiotic resistance among bacteria, leading to superbugs that can’t be treated easily. So not only are these fake drugs ineffective, but they’re also making real drugs less effective. Why raise the bar when you can just lower the other ones, right?


    An American Nonprofit Institute Harvested Ecuadorian Natives For Profit

    Biopiracy, contrary to what the name conjures, isn’t the act of performing naval raids on Whole Foods shipments. It’s stealing people’s genetic information without their permission. And when we say people, we mean a people, like the time in the early ’90s when the Coriell Medical Institute stole blood from a native Ecuadorian tribe.

    In 1990 and 1991, Coriell partnered with the Maxus Energy Corporation and Harvard University to draw thousands of blood samples from 600 members of the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador, which comes out to “several pints of blood” per person. Under 20 percent of the participants agreed to the procedure, so enjoy lying awake thinking of how a shadowy cabal of rich institutions would obtain the blood of 480 people without their permission. They also helped themselves to some tissue samples, because hey, they were already down in the creepy blood dungeon, so why not?

    Kate Fisher
    “They stole my genetic makeup and I didn’t even get a stupid T-shirt.”

    Regardless of how they got the blood, all of the “participants” were told that their samples would be analyzed for personal medical examinations, and then Coriell did not do that. The samples were instead sold to research labs around the world, including Harvard (which hopefully got a henchman discount). Over the next 22 years, 31 research papers were written about the discoveries made from the Huaorani blood and tissue samples, and not a penny of the deserved royalties ever made it back to the tribe.

    Why did Coriell go to so much trouble? Apparently, there are many scientists around the world who think the Huaorani tribe have very particular genetic mutations which make them immune to diseases like hepatitis. Being able to replicate this immunity would be revolutionary, but scientists still have yet to prove the link, even 25 years after the Great People Harvesting. As for what happened to the Huaorani, we’re not really sure, because almost every fact on their Wikipedia page has “[citation needed]” next to it. That might be a scarier sentence than the one with “blood dungeon” in it.


    Synthes Conducted Secret “Bone Cement” Experiments That Killed Five People

    When you’re creating something that’s intended to cure people, it’s best to make extra-sure that it doesn’t kill them instead. That’s why pharmaceutical drugs go through many rigorous rounds of testing, with control groups and consent forms and all that, to ensure that we’re curing AIDS and not turning it into Super AIDS. Or you could be like Synthes, and not give a fuck and straight-up inject cement into people’s spines.

    Synthes is a medical company that injected cement into people’s spines, because we really can’t say that enough. The product in question was Norian XR, a special kind of cement which apparently could turn into bone if it was injected into a human skeleton. Normally, a product that dangerous and invasive would have to go through expensive medical trials, finding patients desperate enough to try out an experimental new procedure that could potentially kill them. But Synthes decided that due diligence is for suckers, and went ahead with their own illegal trials. After all, how could shoving experimental putty directly into someone’s spine ever go wrong?

    Between 2002 and 2004, Synthes injected cement into an unknown number of patients without their permission, mainly by tricking hospitals into using Norian XR and lying about how safe and legal the concoction was. Some scientists quickly raised warnings about how the drug could potentially cause fatal blood clots, and the FDA requested that Synthes holy shit not do this, but the pharma company gave them both the middle finger and proceeded anyway. The results weren’t good: Five people ended up dying on the operating table as a result of the Norian XR injection, which even Synthes had to admit that was a mixed bag.

    In 2009, the Department of Justice formally accused Synthes of injecting cement into people’s spines Four executives ended up pleading guilty to obscure misdemeanor charges, and amazingly, all of them actually went to jail. Of course, what was waiting for them on the other side wasn’t humility, but fat stacks of cash, as Synthes was later sold to Johnson & Johnson for over $20 billion. Here’s hoping those executives spent every day in prison getting punched right in their spines.

    Also check out 5 Terrible Secrets Big Drug Companies Don’t Want You to Know and 5 Awful Things I Learned About Drugs Working At A Pharmacy.

    Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out If Viagra Commercials Were Honest, and other videos you won’t see on the site!

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    Conservatives lash out at Jimmy Kimmel for health care plea

    Washington (CNN)Some conservatives are criticizing late night host Jimmy Kimmel for calling for greater health care coverage in light of his newborn son’s health problems.

    In an emotional monologue Monday, Kimmel opened up about his son’s battle with a heart defect. He defended the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and encouraged viewers to put aside their political differences to hold politicians accountable for health care issues. The remarks garnered widespread sympathy and praise from Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who cited Kimmel’s comments to draw attention to the health care debate on Capitol Hill.

      Kimmel chokes up over newborn’s health


    But some conservatives believe Kimmel misconstrued the broader debate over health care.
      White House budget director Mick Mulvaney called Kimmel’s clip Wednesday “very emotional” before sharing his own story about his 17-year-old triplets being born with health issues.
      “I have seen the agility of having a premature baby or sick baby,” he told Fox News before adding, “Everybody, I think, agrees with Jimmy Kimmel. We have enough money in this country to provide care for those types of folks.”
      But Mulvaney pushed back on the idea that Republicans, who are currently trying to pass legislation to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act, want to block people with pre-existing conditions from receiving health coverage.
      “That’s not the point,” he said. “The point behind the state waiver program is the state governments know how to treat children like the Kimmel baby better than the federal government does.”
      “If we give more control to the states, they can figure out a way to best provide for children like Mr. Kimmel’s baby,” Mulvaney added.
      Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, however, tweeted that Kimmel’s “sad story” did not “obligate” Americans to support the Affordable Care Act.
      “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care,” the nationally syndicated radio host tweeted Tuesday. “Got no problem with @jimmykimmel tearing up & getting political. Got a big problem with: ‘We need gov-run healthcare cuz of my sad story.'”
      Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt accused Kimmel of making a personal story partisan.
      “After his slobbering wet kiss to federal bureaucracy, Mr. Kimmel then went squealing on about Obamacare and how insurance companies, the government and your neighbors should all be forced to pay for everybody else’s health care,” the conservative wrote. “Easy thing to say for a gazillionaire from Hollywood.”
      “I mean, really, Jimmy, does your newborn child not mean more to you than petty politics? How do you look at the miracle of your child and think partisan politics?” Hurt added.
      Townhall columnist Michelle Malkin said Kimmel’s emotional plea was factually incorrect.
      “Kimmel implies that opposition to Obamacare-style insurance mandates is both un-American and indecent,” the conservative author wrote. “Had he been less hysterical, he would have acknowledged that different health care systems have pros and cons — and decent Americans can have legitimate differences of opinion on such matters.”
      “In the land of make-believe, it would be wonderful if everyone had free access to the same high-quality care Kimmel and his family did at Cedars-Sinai and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,” she added. “In the real world, Obamacare plans have severely curtailed the number of doctors and hospitals that customers can use.”
      Daily Beast conservative columnist Matt Lewis said Kimmel’s monologue was “a little cheap.”
      “I completely understand where Jimmy Kimmel is coming from,” he said Tuesday on “Anderson Cooper 360.” “The passion, I think, is sincere. I don’t think that this is the right move for him to do to politicize this.”

      Read more:

      Cycling to work can cut cancer and heart disease, says study – BBC News

      Media playback is unsupported on your device

      Media caption‘It’s faster than the bus’ and other reasons why people cycle to work

      Want to live longer? Reduce your risk of cancer? And heart disease? Then cycle to work, say scientists.

      The biggest study into the issue linked using two wheels with a halving of the risk of cancer and heart disease.

      The five-year study of 250,000 UK commuters also showed walking had some benefits over sitting on public transport or taking the car.

      The team in Glasgow said cycling took no willpower once it became part of the work routine – unlike going to the gym.

      The five-year study compared people who had an “active” commute with those who were mostly stationary.

      ‘Active commuters’

      Overall, 2,430 of those studied died, 3,748 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,110 had heart problems.

      But, during the course of the study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%.

      The cyclists clocked an average of 30 miles per week, but the further they cycled the greater the health boon.

      Walking cut the odds of developing heart disease but the benefit was mostly for people walking more than six miles per week.

      “This is really clear evidence that people who commute in an active way, particularly by cycling, were at lower risk,” Dr Jason Gill, from the University of Glasgow, told the BBC News website.

      Why cycling is a healthy option

      Should cycling be allowed on pavements?

      Would these five changes actually help cyclists?

      “You need to get to work every day so if you built cycling into the day it essentially takes willpower out of the equation.

      “What we really need to do is change our infrastructure to make it easier to cycle – we need bike lanes, to make it easier to put bikes on trains, showers at work.”

      People who combined cycling and public transport in their commute also showed health benefits.

      Out of breath

      The way the study, published in the British Medical Journal, was carried out means it is not possible to determine a clear cause and effect.

      However, the effect was still there even after adjusting the statistics to remove the effects of other potential explanations like smoking, diet or how heavy people are.

      It means the reason cycling cuts cancer risk cannot be down to weight loss in the study.

      Other explanations include cyclists being leaner (even if they are not weighing any less) and lower levels of inflammation in the body.

      Cycling is thought to be better than walking as the exercise is both longer and more intense.

      Clare Hyde from Cancer Research UK said: “This study helps to highlight the potential benefits of building activity into your everyday life.

      “You don’t need to join a gym or run the marathon.

      “Anything that gets you a bit hot and out of breath – whether it’s cycling all or part way to work or doing some housework – can help make a difference.”

      Follow James on Twitter.

      Have you switched to cycling? What made you change your commute? How are you finding it? You can share your experience by emailing

      Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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      Syria’s Children Are Mentally And Emotionally Shattered From Years Of War

      Six years of brutal conflict and unspeakable atrocities have left some of Syrias children desperately wishing for their own deaths, according to a heartbreaking new report fromSave the Children.Many are living in a constant state of fear and toxic stress, the humanitarian group warns.

      The war has killedhundreds of thousands of Syriansand displaced more than half the countrys population, with no end to the carnage in sight.Some 13.5 million people in Syria, including 5.8 million children, are currently in need of aid.

      At least 3 million children have been born into the conflict, and those who remain in Syria are extremely vulnerable to immense psychological damage, increasing their longterm risks of self-harm, drug abuse and suicide, the report says.

      Invisible Wounds documents a worsening mental health crisis among boys and girls trapped inside the war-torn country. Save the Children worked with its partners to interview hundreds of civilians to understand the scope of the tragedy, and the findings were devastating.

      Many of Syrias children have seen their families torn apart, and witnessed loved ones suffer and die before their eyes. Two-thirds have been injured or had their homes hit by attacks. More than half are using drugs to help cope with the stress of living in a war zone, and nearly three-quarters have shown signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

      If left untreated, these conditions can have irreversible effects on the mental and physical health of an entire generation of children, the report notes.

      Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters
      Some 5.8 million children in Syria are currently in need of humanitarian aid.

      The children we spoke with in Syria are terrified to play outside, afraid to go to school, and soiling themselves when they hear a loud noise, said Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles. We can end the toxic stress many children are suffering by stopping the bombardment of civilian areas and reaching everyone with lifesaving aid and psychological support.

      Children who were interviewed described persistent feelings of anger, anxiety, depression and terror.

      My parents are not here because I have already lost them, said one teenager in Aleppo. I am alone because everyone is dying.

      A teacher in Madaya said children wish they were hit by a sniper and killed.

      Children wish they were dead and that they would go to heaven [to] be warm and eat and play, she said.

      Syrian girls and boys have been starved, robbed of their childhoods and deprived of a proper education, the report explains.Thousands of schools have been bombed out of use, and hundreds of thousands of education professionals have fled the country. Some parents fear that sending their kids to school is too dangerous. Almost one-third of school-aged children in the country are not in school.

      Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
      At least 3 million children have been born into Syria’s raging war, which broke out in March 2011.

      Alexandra Chen, a child protection and mental health specialist based at Harvard University, warns that the detrimental impacts of the war may outlast the conflict itself.

      Extreme adversity in early childhood can hamper childrens healthy development and their ability to function fully, even once the violence has ceased, she said. The slow grind of toxic stress can disrupt the development of the brain and other organs, and increase the risk of stress-related diseases, heart disease, diabetes, immune system problems, substance abuse, depression, and other mental health disorders into adulthood.

      But all is not lost, the report says; Syrian children are incredibly resilient, and continue to cling to their hopes and dreams for a better future. They stand to benefit tremendously from psychosocial support, but resources are currently extremely limited.

      Save the Children has issued an urgent plea for warring parties to immediately halt all forms of violence against civilians, and for members of the international community to increase funding for programs that support childrens mental health.

      To support crisis-afflicted Syrians, see The WorldPosts list of ways you can help. You can also donate to charities working in Syria.

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      Republicans still don’t have the votes to pass health care bill

      Washington (CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan signaled Tuesday that the leadership still does not have the votes to pass the current bill to repeal and replace Obamacare — but Republican leaders and the White House are not giving up and things remain extremely fluid.

      Ryan told his rank-and-file members in a closed-door conference meeting that when the votes are there, he will put the bill on the floor, in an implicit admission that the majority of 216 votes that he needs to ensure passage is not yet in place, one member inside the meeting told CNN.
      President Donald Trump, at an event for the Air Force Academy football team, said Tuesday “I think it’s time now” for a vote on the bill.
        But at least 22 Republicans plan to oppose the current bill, according to CNN’s ongoing whip count. Influential Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, a former chairman of the House panel that oversees health care issues, said Tuesday he is against the measure.
        Sources said House leaders are working with members one-by-one to get the votes they need to get to 216. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is going through the fine print of the latest version of the bill with undecided members to try to assuage their concerns on specific items.

          Kimmel chokes up over newborn’s health

        MUST WATCH

        “The President can’t do this,” a Republican close to the talks said. “This is fine print time.”
        As for timing, a senior Trump administration source told CNN’s Dana Bash that House leadership was looking at the possibility of a vote Thursday and that they were within five votes of the magic number of 216.
        Others are not going that far.
        “We will have a vote when we have the votes,” a senior GOP leadership source said.
        A member who is leaning “yes” on the revised bill said he thought the chances of a vote this week were “50-50.”

        No changes to the bill — yet

        “Speaker has to get to 216,” the member said. “He’s working it one by one.”
        Roughly 16 members are undecided, but thus far, there are no public tweaks to the bill. Speculation has centered around additional money for high risk pools, for instance.
        “Obviously some members are looking for changes, but we’ve not made any at this point, and don’t know that we will,” a GOP leadership aide said Tuesday afternoon.
        As originally introduced, the bill would leave 24 million fewer people insured by 2026 than under Obamacare, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said.
        The bill would make major changes to the Affordable Care Act, eliminating the taxes on wealthy individuals, industries and others, as well as jettisoning the individual mandate that requires Americans to purchase insurance or face a penalty. It would also replace Obamacare’s subsidies, which are based on income and cost of coverage, with refundable tax credits based mainly on age.
        It would allow states to relax some key Obamacare protections of those with pre-existing conditions. States could apply for waivers to allow insurers to offer policies with skimpier benefits and to charge more to those with medical issues if they let their coverage lapse.
        The speaker and House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy used the conference meeting to stress the urgency and the stakes of the push to repeal Obamacare, sources in the room said.
        But in a subsequent news conference, Ryan conspicuously did not say that he had the votes to pass the measure or that there would be a vote this week, despite confident predictions by top White House officials on Monday that passage was close.
        A key GOP source close to the health care process sounded gloomy about the prospects for the repeal and replace bill this week in the House.
        “There are enough people to prevent us from having the votes,” the source said.
        “Not sure they’ll be there or ever be there,” the source said of the votes in favor of the bill, adding that possible likely the House will “keep kicking the can” from one week to the next.
        As the effort to pass the bill reached a crucial point, some members appeared increasingly exhausted by the repeated push on health care — a factor that could see some shelve objections just to offload it to the Senate.
        Given the political consequences of failing to pass Obamcare repeal after weeks of effort, some members appear to believe that the vote will succeed in the coming days. If Ryan cannot schedule a vote, Republicans could face a backlash from their base when they return home for next week’s recess following years of promises from the GOP to repeal and replace Obamacare.
        But Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-New Jersey, the author of the latest compromise designed to finally get the bill to a vote, told reporters Tuesday morning: “I think it’s close.”
        House Majority Leader McCarthy, R-California, agreed.
        “Very close!” he said.
        McCarthy said Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pennsylvania, is now a “yes.” Barletta was previously undecided because he had concerns that people would defraud the system and apply for tax credits without the government checking Social Security numbers. Now he’s been promised that there will be a separate bill to fix that issue later.
        Trump has made several interventions, but it was unclear whether his assurances reflected in-depth knowledge of what the American Health Care Act contains, and whether he was helping or hindering the push to pass it.
        Ryan however said the President had been “nothing but helpful” on health care.
        “We are making very good progress with our members and our president has been instrumental in that,” he said.

        Fight over pre-existing conditions

        A vital sticking point in the bill is the issue of protections from pre-existing conditions.
        “Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be,'” Trump said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday.
        The President added that that “we actually have a clause that guarantees” coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”
        In the latest version of the bill however, insurers could charge people with pre-existing conditions like cancer and diabetes higher rates than other healthier patients if they allow their continuous coverage to lapse.
        The measure would allow states to opt out of a mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurers to charge the same rates for patients with pre-existing conditions as for healthy people.
        The Republicans would have states set up “high-risk pools” for some of those with pre-existing conditions — but some observers fear that the cost of such coverage could be hugely expensive.
        Such a scenario is one reason why moderates are having trouble lining up behind the bill.
        But one previously undecided member, Rep. Jim Renacci, who is also running for governor of Ohio, said he would vote yes on the bill because he was satisfied that states would be answerable to their people on protections for pre-existing conditions.
        “If the governors decide to remove that, that’s something they are going to have to do within the constraints of the people they represent,” Renacci told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday.

        What’s in the bill?

        The GOP health care bill would eliminate Obamacare taxes on the wealthy, insurers and others, and get rid of the individual mandate imposed by Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act. Instead of the Obamacare subsidies that are tied to income and premiums, the GOP plan would provide Americans with refundable tax credits based mainly on age to purchase health insurance.
        The legislation would also allow insurers to charge higher premiums to those in their 50s and early 60s, compared to younger consumers.
        The bill would also significantly curtail federal support for Medicaid and allow states to require able-bodied adults to work. After 2020, states that expanded Medicaid would no longer receive enhanced federal funding to cover low-income adults, and those that hadn’t expanded would be immediately barred from doing so.
        And it would allow states to relax some key Obamacare protections of those with pre-existing conditions, which are among the health reform law’s most popular provisions. States could apply for waivers to allow insurers to offer skimpier policies that don’t cover the 10 essential health benefits mandated by Obamacare. Also, insurers would be able to charge higher premiums to those with medical issues if they let their coverage lapse. States requesting waivers would have to set up programs — such as high-risk pools — to protect insurers from high-cost patients.
        However, the GOP bill doesn’t touch one another beloved piece of Obamacare — letting children stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26.

        Read more:

        Republican moderates set to thwart party’s bid to repeal Obamacare

        Moderates make break with party leadership to oppose new legislation, complicating Republican efforts to secure votes bill needs to pass

        The push to repeal and replace Obamacare seemed likely to fail yet again as many House Republicans on Tuesday expressed unease with how the proposed legislation would affect people with pre-existing conditions.

        In a reversal of the dynamic when Republicans last attempted to repeal Obamacare in March, the new plan has received backing from the Freedom Caucus, a recalcitrant group of arch-conservatives who are more often associated with spoiling the GOP leaderships agenda than supporting it. This time around a significant number of the holdouts are moderates who are making a rare break with the leadership to oppose the legislation.

        The current bill would allow states to waive provisions that require insurers to cover essential health benefits, which include maternity, prescription drug treatment and mental health care. It also allows removes protections that guarantee people with pre-existing medical conditions will not be charged higher rates.

        Republicans disagree publicly about how the new amendment will affect Americans with pre-existing conditions. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, has stated that sicker Americans would be better off under the Republican healthcare plan, and promised that there are a few layers of protections for pre-existing conditions in this bill. But the bill is opposed by a coalition of influential advocacy groups, including the American Medical Association.

        These changes have alienated previously loyal members of the Republican caucus. On Tuesday, Fred Upton of Michigan, the former chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, announced his opposition to the new version of the healthcare plan, saying an amendment added to appease conservatives torpedoes protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

        Im not at all comfortable with removing that protection, Upton said during an interview on a local radio show, WHTC on Tuesday morning. He added: I cannot support this bill with this provision in it.

        Upton is well respected among fellow Republicans for his expertise on healthcare policy, and has been a leader in past GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. His defection is viewed as a bad sign for the legislations prospects. At least 20 Republicans have publicly stated their opposition to the bill and several more remain undecided. House Republicans can only afford to lose 22 votes and pass the bill, assuming all Democrats oppose the measure.

        Uptons loss follows a surprising defection by Billy Long, a Republican from Missouri and a longtime supporter of the president, who said on Monday that he could not support the bill. I have always stated that one of the few good things about Obamacare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered.

        While moving the bill to the right helped Republicans gain support from members of the Freedom Caucus, it further alienated moderates who are well aware that the current bill is likely to be drastically changed in the Senate.

        There is a concern that this is going to be a model to try to placate the hard right and get these bills out of the House knowing that they have an uncertain fate in the Senate, said Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.

        Dent, the leader of the center-right Tuesday Group, added: It just further exposes members of marginal districts politically because we know darn well that the bill on the rebound from the Senate wont satisfy those on the hard right. All this political capital is being expended on the first launch knowing damn well that the only battle that matters is the last one wont get the support of those very same people.

        Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, a co-chair of the Tuesday Group who helped craft the current compromise that won over the far-right Freedom Caucus with an amendment that would allow states to waive key pieces of the healthcare law, dismissed any efforts to throw in additional funding to woo wavering Republicans.

        McArthur said: I think the question is more fundamental for people: are they comfortable with this balance, of this is the best way to protect the vulnerable and cut expenses. If theyre not, you can throw billions here and billions there and its probably not going to move anyone. I dont think money is the answer now.

        The Republican leadership said on Tuesday it was close to securing the 216 votes needed for the bill to pass, but still had more corralling to do. Ryan has said he will not schedule a vote until the bill has enough support to pass.

        However, Ryans efforts have been complicated by White House efforts to project confidence about the bills prospects and Trumps offhand remarks about the legislation. Top Trump aide Gary Cohn said on Monday that were convinced we have the votes and in an interview with Bloomberg News, Trump insisted, inaccurately, it will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare and said the legislation was not in its final form.

        The Republican leadership is also working against rapidly changing public sentiment on the law in addition to an onslaught of political attack ads, opposition from the left and even an emotional plea from late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.

        Play Video

        Jimmy Kimmel reveals newborn sons surgery in healthcare plea video

        On his Monday night show, Kimmel delivered a heartfelt monologue on the importance of affordable healthcare, especially for people with pre-existing conditions. He told the audience that his son was born last week with a heart defect. The doctors performed surgery and the operation was successful.

        Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance youd never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition, Kimmel said.

        You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didnt have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition. If your baby is going to die, and it doesnt have to, it shouldnt matter how much money you make. I think thats something that, whether youre a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?

        Barack Obama, whose signature legislative achievement was the passage of the 2010 law, commended Kimmel on speaking out. Well said, Jimmy, Obama wrote on Twitter. Thats exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA, and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy. And congratulations!

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        A doctor cuts through the conflicting science on cholesterol.

        Its easy to feel like theres too much to keep track of when it comes to staying healthy.

        Calories, fat, pounds, carbs, miles, steps it’s easy to get overwhelmed with conflicting science and false health fads. So the more complicated things, like cholesterol, often get overlooked.

        Cholesterol plays a surprisingly large part in your overall health, and knowing and managing your cholesterol level (plus your other three health numbers blood glucose, blood pressure, and body mass index) can help prevent health problems down the line. We chatted with Dr. Christina Stasiuk, senior medical director at Cigna, to learn more.

        Here are 13 interesting facts about the role cholesterol plays in your body’s health.

        1. Cholesterol was first discovered in 1784, so scientists and doctors have been studying it for a long time.

        There are two major sub-types of cholesterol: good (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) and bad (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, and triglycerides). Bad cholesterol is a fatty substance that can stick to the linings of your arteries and veins, whereas good cholesterol acts as a sort of broom that helps scrub away those LDL buildups in your body.

        2. Your weight isnt an indicator of your cholesterol level or overall health.

        There are thin people who are at higher risk of heart disease than people who may be overweight but who exercise, dont smoke, and have normal blood pressure, says Stasiuk. The only way to know your cholesterol levels for sure is through a blood test.

        3. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs on its own.

        The body makes both good and bad cholesterol, as theyre both needed to help perform a lot of the body’s necessary functions. It’s only when we consume too much LDL and triglycerides that it becomes bad by forming harmful buildup in our veins and arteries.

        4. Clogged arteries look like theyre coated in butter.

        If your body doesnt have enough good cholesterol to scrub away sticky buildups, your arteries become clogged with yellow plaque-like fat. If you could slice open a clogged artery and look inside, it would look like it was filled with a thick layer of frozen butter. Uh … yum?

        5. You could end up with high cholesterol regardless of your healthy habits thanks, genetics!

        Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic condition that causes naturally high levels of bad cholesterol. A heart-healthy lifestyle can help, but people with a predisposition for high cholesterol usually also need medication.

        Lots of other genetic factors affect heart health too, so the only way to know for sure that your heart is healthy is to consult your doctor.

        6. Your body can generate good cholesterol with regular exercise.

        According to Stasiuk, there are really no foods or drugs that significantly increase good cholesterol levels. Regular exercise, however, can help the body create the good cholesterol it needs.

        7. When it comes to eats, the richest foods are usually the worst for you.

        “Bad cholesterol is typically animal-source cholesterol,” says Stasiuk. “The solid stuff the bacon fat, the fat around a steak. You’re better off having liquid fats, like olive or canola oil or the oily fats you get in fish.” Solid fats are the ones most likely to “stick,” while liquid fats can be cleaned out of the body more easily.

        8. Look out for the cholesterol double-whammy: the trans fatty acid.

        Two things to look for on nutrition labels are saturated fat and trans fats, both of which raise your LDL levels. But trans fats also lower your HDL, pulling double-duty against your cholesterol health. And both saturated fat and trans fats show up in manufactured foods you might not expect because they help lengthen shelf life. “Think about it this way,” says Stasiuk. “The amount of time that food lasts on the shelf is how long those lipids will be in your body.” Ack!

        9. One surprising source of high cholesterol? Coffee.

        Dont worry. Only when its unfiltered, like in Turkish or French press coffee, does your morning joe contain a harmful substance called cafestol, which raises bad cholesterol. If you drink drip coffee, youre good to go. The filter catches cafestol before it hits your cup.

        10. Certain foods can help pull bad cholesterol out of the bloodstream and send it out of the body (and its not just Cheerios).

        Salmon, oatmeal, berries, avocados, beans, nuts, and spinach are all power workers when it comes to scrubbing and flushing out all those sticky cholesterol particles.

        11. Women are at a generally lower risk for bad cholesterol levels and heart disease than men that is, until menopause.

        Estrogen helps balance good and bad cholesterol levels in women’s bodies. Once menopause occurs and estrogen levels drop, women’s cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease rise.

        12. Cholesterol also plays a big role in keeping your brain healthy. In fact, about 25% of the cholesterol in your body is stored in your brain.

        Cholesterol is a structural component of myelin, which is the protective substance that covers the nerve fibers in your brain. Strong myelin sheaths help the brain function, facilitating things like memory and quick thinking.

        13. Laughter might be good for your heart.

        Research suggests that laughter can trigger a variety of heart healthy reactions in the body. It decreases stress hormones, reduces artery inflammation, and increases good cholesterol. So if you cant fit in a workout today, make sure you get in a laugh!

        The most important part of maintaining good cholesterol health is to be aware of it and, where you can, make lifestyle choices that support it.

        It’s not about counting milligrams or calculating intake levels it’s about making lifestyle choices that benefit you and your body. “It all comes back to this: go, know, and take control,” says Stasiuk. Get your blood tested during annual checkups with your doctor and take the time to make sure you understand your results. Then make small, progressive steps toward better heart health. Nothing drastic and no special secrets just little changes toward treating your body right!

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