Doctor: Graham-Cassidy health ‘reform’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing

(CNN)There’s perhaps no clearer snapshot of the disconnect in D.C. than a week in which a small group of Democratic senators comes out swinging for a single-payer healthcare system, only to be blindsided by the news that a far larger pool of Republican senators are coalescing around yet another effort — the disastrous Graham-Cassidy bill — to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

It’s as if everyone in Washington has given up on the idea of practical governance in favor of posturing for the benefit of their core political base.
A hurricane’s projected landfall is an example of a true deadline, one that really means do or die. September 30th, the date after which the Republican Senate can no longer use the budget reconciliation process to push through health care legislation by a simple majority, is an example of an artificial deadline — one that is about politics, not about improving anyone’s health care.
    It’s easy to see where Republicans’ urgency about making that deadline comes from. They are looking across the aisle at Bernie Sanders, who is drawing “Amens” for the concept that Medicare-for-all is the only way to achieve universal coverage, and pondering how they might negotiate anything with these Democrats.
    The GOP’s fear is palpable. Republicans in Congress are getting an earful from constituents who’ve swallowed endless lies from them about Obamacare since before its passage, folks who are hooked into a media echo chamber that can easily spawn GOP primary opponents to better conform to the party’s “repeal and replace” promise.

      Trump to Senate: Vote again on Obamacare

    Another fabricated sense of urgency surrounds the idea that Obamacare’s markets are rapidly crumbling. In fact the Congressional Budget Office makes it clear in a report last week that it’s Trump himself who is destabilizing the ACA marketplaces.
    Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is cutting 90% of the budget from its enrollment campaign for 2018 (I’ll advise you that open enrollment is November 1st through December 15th).
    Such efforts to cut down the customer base of ACA insurance plans are a key reason premiums will go up in 2018, and the other key factor — cited in an analysis of proposed insurance prices by the Kaiser Family Foundation — is all of the President’s talk about not fulfilling the law’s requirement to distribute subsidies to insurers, part of the law’s careful balancing of risk that keeps insurers willing to play along.
    Yet despite the administration’s best efforts, as of today every single county in the United States has an insurer offering plans on the ACA marketplace. That’s the single most powerful crystallization of the law’s careful balancing of capitalism and public utility. All of these companies have a choice, and they ultimately choose to sell insurance on the marketplaces because they prefer to make money.
    Of course, this situation can only hold so long under the weight of a four-year, post-truth presidency enabled by a Republican Congress.

      Sanders: Trump wants to sabotage health care

    Which brings us to the post-truth Graham-Cassidy repeal bill currently on offer.
    If it collects 50 Republican senators who are irresponsible enough to sign on without a CBO score, it would surely get a tie-breaking vote from the Vice President, a rubber stamp in the House and an instant signature by the President.
    “If a politician controls the dollar, the system lines up to serve the politician,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) stated at his September 13 press conference discussing the bill. “If the patient controls the dollar, the system lines up to serve her. The theme of what we are trying to do is to give the patient the power.”
    I’m not aware of any politicians who’ve lined their pockets thanks to Obamacare. As an informed citizen, I don’t know what Senator Cassidy is talking about.
    But as doctor, I can tell you this: Cassidy’s bill fails his own “Jimmy Kimmel Test,” the promise he made to the late-night host whose son was born with a congenital heart defect, receiving very expensive care at Cedars Sinai.
    Cassidy said he’d only support legislation if a “child born with a congenital heart disease (would) be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life” even if costs exceed “a certain amount.”
    The patient is in fact powerless under the Cassidy-Graham bill, which gives the states block grants to administer healthcare for the poor and disabled, under whatever mechanisms they wish, and near complete freedom to enact their own rules with regards to the quality of private insurance plans sold in their states.

      Pence: Health care ‘ain’t over by a long shot’

    Most importantly, states can let insurers charge what they like to cover sicker individuals. Kimmel’s son, despite his heart condition, won the birth lottery in that his future access to healthcare isn’t in question — his father is rich.
    But the Jimmy Kimmel test is supposed to apply to everyone. Most Americans with congenital heart defects can easily find themselves priced out of insurance plans that weigh medical risk factors.
    To people with health conditions to manage, the United States would no longer be a place of free movement and opportunity. They would become a second tier of the citizenry, constrained by the limitations of a very different, balkanized land.
    President Trump, too, promised Americans he’d replace Obamacare with a system that still guaranteed people with pre-existing conditions access to good coverage. “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not,” Trump told “60 Minutes” while campaigning for the office.
    After the election, he told the Washington Post, “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”
    But President Trump’s and Senator Cassidy’s sunny promises bear no relation to the Graham-Cassidy disaster that’s bearing down on the United States.

      Trump: I’ll turn to Dems if I need to

    For the President, his behavior surrounding an ACA repeal is no different than his unreal stance on many other critical policy debates. On DACA, he also promises something better than the rules now in place, but similarly he’s ginned up urgency by issuing a deadline by which he’ll revoke the current presidential policy.
    Just like with Obamacare, he’s trying to save the nation from a disaster he’s creating, a feat of propaganda that only works on those trapped in his echo chamber.
    As for congressional Republicans like Bill Cassidy, they need to serve the needs of the people in their states, not their personal ideologies. Cassidy could start by listening to Louisiana’s Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Rebekah Gee, who wrote the Senator (himself a physician) about his bill’s impact on their shared state.
    She points to Louisiana’s “high burden of extreme poverty,” that necessitates a strong Medicaid program and how the bill allows insurers “to charge individuals more based on age and health status (which) would inevitably increase the cost of care for those who need it the most — likely driving these individuals out of the workforce and into the increasingly tattered safety net of public assistance.”
    Gee’s letter talks about the real people Obamacare is helping right now. Republicans and Democrats would do well to work on improving this law together, which is well made enough that it keeps ticking along, doing its core job. Such real work of governance gets fewer retweets than declarations of ideological purity, but a bit less fervor from the fan base is a small price to pay for the greater good of the country.

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    The most common pre-existing medical conditions

    (CNN)By the numbers, it looks like Americans are one unhealthy nation and could therefore have a lot to lose, depending on how the health care debate concludes.

    As many as one in two Americans has some kind of illness or condition that was, at one time, considered a pre-existing condition by insurance companies before Obamacare. For older Americans, that percentage is even higher: About 86% of your aging parents and grandparents, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64, have one, according to government estimates.
    Before the Affordable Care Act, Americans could be denied health insurance if they had one of several of common health conditions like diabetes, asthma and even acne. Obamacare generally stopped that practice. The law, in most cases, made it illegal for insurers to deny coverage or to charge people more because they’d been sick. It also put an end to most of the lifetime and annual benefit payment caps carried by some insurance policies, even the typically more generous employer-provided ones.
      The debate about repealing Obamacare is ongoing, which means it is unclear what a final replacement law would look like. The latest Graham-Cassidy bill would eliminate federal funding for the Medicaid expansion. It would remove the subsidies that lower premiums for people on Obamacare and eliminate subsidies that help with deductibles and co-pays.
      Instead, states would get a lump sum annually through 2026, and the state would decide what to do with that money. Insurers would still have to cover everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions, but insurance companies could charge people more based on their medical history. The 10 essential health benefits all plans must carry under Obamacare would also be eliminated.
      The last bill to make it through the House would leave 23 million uninsured by 2026, compared with who gets coverage under the current law, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis. Polls show that this news worries many Americans, particularly the half who have had a condition once considered pre-existing.
      But who are these people who live with these pre-existing conditions? Have they failed to “lead good lives,” as Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks said in May of healthy people, who he believes should pay less for coverage? Will they really be able to buy a policy as Republicans are promising, or will the costs make coverage prohibitive?
        CNN analyzed the top 10 most common conditions for Americans. People with these conditions come from all walks of life, but they each must cope with the illness they have or once had.


        Eric Brod may be a confident professional in the world of finance today, but when he was a freshman in high school, something made him self-conscious.
        Like a lot of high school freshmen, he had acne.
        “I was probablymore aware of it than my peers,” Brod said. “I was definitely thinking about it.”
        Acne is one of the most common chronic pre-existing conditions and is the most common skin condition in the United States. At least 50 million people have acne, according to a 2006 national study of skin disease, the latest data available.
        Acne happens when a pore in your skin gets clogged. Your body is constantly shedding dead skin cells. Sometimes, it over-produces the oil needed to keep your skin from drying out, and when that happens, dead cells can stick together and clog your pores. The bacteria that naturally live on your skin can also get caught in your pores and cause your skin to get inflamed and red. When the bacteria get deep into your skin, they can create an acne cyst.
          Acne can appear on your face, your back, your chest — essentially anywhere on your skin. When your hormones are out of whack with puberty, it increases your chance of having acne, but adults can get it, too.
          Prior to Obamacare, insurance companies could turn down your request for a policy or charge you more if you had this condition, even if you had it under control.
          In Brod’s case, his acne wasn’t too bad, but it was persistent, and he said it wasn’t being contained with the usual antibiotics or topical medications he tried throughout his high school years.
          “I was self-conscious about it and would nervously pick at it if it lingered,” Brod said. Running track and cross-country kept him fit, but it did not help his skin. He’d break out if practice was held on cold or hot days, and the sweat and dust didn’t help.
            He had breakouts throughout his high school years, but the summer before freshman year of college, he had a breakthrough. His father, a dermatologist, recommended a different treatment to get it under control once and for all.
            “I felt really lucky because, living with my dad, he saw how it looked from day to day and had an idea about what would help,” Brod said.
            Brod got a prescription for isotretinoin, better known as Accutane, which has since beenpulled from the market. It was a form of vitamin A that reduced the amount of oil released in your skin and helped the skin recover quickly. For Brod, it did the trick. He didn’t have any side effects, and the help came just in time.
            “When you are going to college and you don’t know anyone, you do want to look your best,” Brod said. “Acne is more than a cosmetic concern, though. I knew it could lead to permanent scarring. And while this was a relatively mild case, I didn’t want that and was glad we found something that worked.”


            Kat Kinsman has what she calls a kind of “autoimmune disease of the soul.” She struggles with anxiety and “came out” about it in a first-person story on CNN in 2014. She said it “freed me in so many ways that I felt really lucky that I had an employer and a husband who supported me through this and it didn’t blow back on me.”
            More than 39 million American adults struggle with anxiety. It’s the second-most common pre-existing condition in the country, according to a 2005 study.
            Kinsman now works as a senior food and drinks editor at Time Inc.’s all-breakfast site Extra Crispy, and she is the author of the book “Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves,” published in November. However, it is something Kinsman has struggled with since kindergarten, long before she had words to describe it. In fact, when her parents first noticed something was wrong, they took her to a doctor, who tested her for such conditions as cancer and mono. It got so bad that she missed a part of her freshman year of high school.
            “Your parents can love you and take care of you the best they can,” Kinsman said. “Anxiety is not necessarily something that first comes to mind when you are looking at what is wrong.”
            When doctors did finally figure it out, her parents found Kinsman the counseling she needed. “At an early age of 13 or 14, I was given this gift of openness,” she said. “Talking about my anxiety saved my life.” Though medication was not for her, she said therapy helps. She sees a nutritionist. She does a lot of deep breathing. Kinsman is not cured, but she’s better at managing it.
            “I have almost 45 years of practice,” she said. “People tell me I have a real good poker face.” However, when her close friends suspect something is up, they ask to see her thumbs. She admits to a bad habit of picking at them when her anxiety is triggered. “I have sometimes picked them raw,” she said.
            Her anxiety can manifest itself in other physical ways. It makes her heart pound, her body tense; it can make her sick to her stomach. “My body can decide to be a real jackass,” she said. She also gets restless and cannot sleep, and then a lack of sleep exacerbates her anxiety. Not telling people about it also compounded the problem.
            “You find it so exhausting to put on your normal person suit every day and go out,” Kinsman said. “You don’t want people worried about you, and you get afraid of being thought of as crazy, or you are worried you would lose your job.”
            Over the years, it has clouded her judgment, and before she talked about it, it hurt some of her relationships. A few boyfriends never understood, an employer told her not to talk about it at the office, and some friends thought she was blowing them off when she really stayed home because something had triggered her anxiety.
            When she finally could talk about her anxiety, life got better. She learned that she wasn’t alone. After her essay ran, friends and even strangers would tell her about the mental illness in their own lives or within their own families.
            “It was an extraordinary time,” Kinsman said. “It’s like when you look out at a meadow and you see that first firefly, and then another lights up in response and then another and another, and finally the whole meadow looks like it is on fire. People started talking to me about their own struggles, and it made me feel less of a freak and opened up the possibility for conversation.”
            She hopes her talking about it can help end the stigma of mental illness. “Too many people are self-medicating or even dying because they can’t talk about it,” she said. She volunteers in the community and got certified to work on a crisis line. “I am well aware that I am in an incredible place of luxury to work where I do and to be so open and supported,” she said. “I feel like I can take this hit, and my goal is to make it easier for someone who, for whatever reason, cannot get help.”


            Peter Richardson, an avid biker in Spokane, Washington, said he nearly jumped into a river when the test strips used to monitor his diabetes fell out of his pocket and into the water. “I was on a 30-mile bike ride, and about 30 dropped in. It was awful,” Richardson said.
            Richardson is fit, but he’s a self-employed real estate broker who buys his own insurance, and his policy has its limits. When he went to the pharmacy to get more test strips, the pharmacist said Richardson would either have to wait four days for his insurance autorenewal to kick in or need to pay the full retail price. Unable to manage his disease without test strips, he paid. It cost him $338.
            “Luckily, I can afford it, but it could easily have been a whole different scenario,” Richardson said. “I’ve got a 3-year-old daughter and a wife who stays up late at night worrying about our finances. I was blown away when the pharmacy called.” Richardson couldn’t believe insurance couldn’t cover something he regularly uses to manage his care.
            Richardson is one of 30.3 million people with diabetes, according to the latest numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a pre-existing condition that left people uninsured prior to Obamacare. Luckily for Richardson, he had coverage when he was diagnosed, but his insurance didn’t cover much. He had what was known as a catastrophic policy that had high deductibles and limited benefits. His first vial of insulin cost almost $500.
            “When they told me that at the pharmacy, I nearly walked out without filling it,” Richardson said. But diabetics need insulin to live.
            With type 1 diabetes, the pancreases doesn’t create much, if any, insulin. Your body needs insulin to balance the glucose in your bloodstream. Glucose is what your body uses for energy. If your blood sugar is too high, it can lead to blindness or kidney or nerve damage. If your blood sugar gets too low, you could faint or even slip into a coma.
            Fortunately, Richardson found a medical study to volunteer for that gave him insulin for free. That held him over until he could get better insurance.
            “That really scared me,” he said. His policy is generally better now, but he can afford it. Business is doing well now. That could change if there’s another downturn in the real estate market or interest rates go up. That’s why he’s watched the health care debate with trepidation.
            “That’s what keeps me up at night, because you can’t control what they are going to decide, and some of what they are considering, especially for someone like me with diabetes, is scary.”
            Though he wants to stay an independent business owner, he’s been tempted to take jobs that provide benefits. “If I don’t have a sale, that may be what I’m faced with if they don’t provide coverage for people like me on the marketplace. What are you going to do?” he asked.
            In the meantime, he will continue to watch what he eats. He’ll keep biking to stay fit, and he’ll monitor his health with modern tools like a program called One Drop that gives him more up-to-date data about his daily health.
            Richardson hopes lawmakers will listen to the diabetic community. “Talk to the kids at the diabetic camps. Go talk to a group of people living with the condition to give you a real-life perspective,” he said. He hopes that motivates Congress to make the system better. “It has to get better.”


            When Cathy Stephens completed her first triathlon, she proudly held up a sign that said “Dear asthma, I win.”
            The endurance athlete who thinks nothing of a 100-mile bike ride has such bad asthma, there are days when she cannot breathe enough to speak and she can forget about walking across the collegecampus where she works.
            People with asthma have inflamed airways. Your lungs use airways to bring oxygen into and out of your body. When someone experiences asthma symptoms, the muscles around these airways tighten and narrow, making it hard to breathe. The cells that create mucus can also overproduce it, causing the airways to tighten more. This happens when an asthmatic encounters something that triggers an attack. It could be something they are allergic to — In Stephens’ case, it’s mold and dust — or it could be a virus. “When people are sick around me, I run screaming the other way,” she joked.
            Sometimes, asthma symptoms can be mild and make a person wheeze or cough. Sometimes, attacks can kill.
            Stephens is one of 25.2 million asthmatics in the United States, according 2015 numbers from theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.
            Stephens said shewasn’t breathing when she was born, and doctors had to revive her. And asthma has troubled Stephens all her life. She’s the only one of her siblings to have it. “I tell them I took one for the team,” she said. Her mom also had asthma and died of related complications in August 2016.
            Despite having to raise five children by herself in small-town Idaho, Stephens said, hermother was the “real hero” who would get her through her attacks. She’d put her daughter in a hot shower so the steam could open her airways. She’d pin a towel with ice around her throat. Sometimes, she’d even sit up all night with her daughter, holding her upright.
            “I have vivid memories of my mom in that rocking chair, holding me up when I was too little to prop myself up, since you can’t lay down when your asthma is bad like that,” Stephens said. Doctors also put Stephens on massive doses of prednisone, which worked but packed on the pounds.
            “I was always the girl with the note for PE saying I couldn’t run, but if you looked at me, I looked fine, so I would always have to fight off that stigma that I was lazy or something,” she said.
            As an adult, she feels like she has a good handle on her disease. She avoids her triggers. She watches her diet and has eliminatedfoods that cause inflammation. She exercises, since excess pounds can exacerbate asthma symptoms.
            It’s paid off. She hasn’t been hospitalized in 20 years. She still needs to see the doctor regularly to get prescriptions for her rescue inhalers, and she’s got a nebulizer to use if her symptoms are bad. “Sometimes I’ll have to bring it to work,” said Stephens, who certifies teachers and principals and helps them find jobs. “When I have to do, that I’ll just close my door, and if someone comes in when I’m on what I call my peace pipe, no one seems to mind.”
            She feels fortunate to have good insurance through her work, but she didn’t always. When she was waitressing to put herself through college, those jobs didn’t always come with benefits. Even when they did, prior to Obamacare, sometimes insurance wasn’t an option. Companies could turn her down because of her pre-existing condition, or they would make her wait a certain amount of time before they’d cover her care. That meant she’d often put off going to the doctor or getting prescriptions filled even though she’d need to.
            “I muddled my way through and mostly was lucky, but there were times when a trip to the hospital was devastating to my budget,” she said. Even now, with good insurance, her $2,000 deductibleprompts her to use her inhaler — an Advair bronchodilator — sparingly. She’s been OK, but it’s not ideal.
            She hopes Congress doesn’t decide to “take 10 steps back to the past,” when coverage was not as affordable as it iswith the current health care bill. “It was scary when I’d have to make a choice between paying for college and paying for insurance,” Stephens said. “What bothers me about the current debate is that they talk about those of us with pre-existing conditions as being the sickest, but other than that one thing, I am much healthier than most.” She said she’d love to take a long bike ride with any legislator who says people don’t die from a lack of insurance and see whether they see can keep up.
            “They need to stop beating people up for having an illness,” Stephens said. “They should instead see what we can do when we have an environment in which we can stay healthy and live up to our full potential.”

            Sleep apnea

            Wendy Solon always described herself as an “active sleeper.” It never woke her up, nor did she remember any of it, but her husband told her that she’d toss and turn and snore. As she got older, her snoring got louder. She felt fine but remembered vivid dreams. After her husband continued to have problems sleeping, she talked to her doctor and asked for a recommendation to see a sleep specialist.
            “I went because I thought it would help me sleep calmer and I wouldn’t be bothering my husband as much,” said Solon, 47.
            She went to Emory University’s sleep clinic, where doctors “basically asked me a million questions” and suggested an overnight sleep study.
            When she went in, they hooked her up to a bunch of sensors on her legs and arms, and then she went to sleep.
            “I woke up, and I remember thinking, ‘Well, that’s not going to be a very interesting sleep study. I think I got a very good night’s sleep,’ and I thought for sure the doctor would tell me that he didn’t find anything,” she said.
            Instead, her doctor told Solon that she wokean “astronomical number of times,” she said. The doctor recommended that she get a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP machine, to help her breathe. He diagnosed her with sleep apnea.
            “I had no idea I had sleep apnea,” she said. “I wouldn’t have guessed that, ever.”
            More than 25 million American adults have sleep apnea, according to the Sleep Foundation. People with the condition pause when they breathe in their sleep. The pauses can last for seconds or minutes and may happen as many as 30 times an hour. People with sleep apnea don’t often breathe deeply when they sleep. Because they stop breathing, they go in and out of deep sleep, and that can leave them feeling tired during the day. It can have serious health consequences such as high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, diabetes and heart problems. It can cause accidents at work. It’s the No. 1 cause of sleepiness during the day, according to the National Institutes of Health.
            Solon feels like using a CPAP machine is a bit like needing braces: “medically necessary but not a big deal.”
            She said she doesn’t feel any more rested yet, but it helps. The CPAP machine gives her a constant stream of air pressure so her throat and airways don’t constrict and she keeps breathing during sleep. Insurance, which she gets through her husband’s company, covers the machine.
            “We were blessed that we have the insurance we do, but we know we are lucky,” she said. She hopes Congress will continue to help people like her with pre-existing conditions. “For me, the sleep apnea is not a big thing compared to the other health issues in my life, but treatment does matter. It’s not like these medical situations are your fault, and they should never every be treated that way.”


            The health care debate drove Mike Babb to write a highly public letter about a deeply personal issue.
            “For me keeping Obamacare is a matter of life or death,” the father of two wrote in his local newspaper in Pennsylvania..
            To Babb, this isn’t merely rhetoric. He is one of more than 20.8 million American adults who struggle with major depressive disorder.
            “I was constantly overwhelmed with suicidal thoughts,” he said. “When you have really bad depression, this is not laziness. This is not something easy to get over. You learn you have it, and it gets even worse, because you beat yourself up for having it.”
            Depression is a mental health disorder in which people have a constant feeling of despondency. It can cause them to lose interest in everyday activities and make them feel bad about themselves and others. It’s an intense sadness and feeling of hopelessness that, if not treated, can lead people to suicide.
            Doctors put Babb on nearly every medication available, but none seemed to work. They then suggested a treatment that sounded more radical: electroconvulsive therapy. Once a month, he would go under general anesthesia, and doctors would send small electric currents through his brain. The currents trigger a brief seizure, changing his brain chemistry. The treatment, he said, saved his life.
            “This really took a cross off my back,” he said. “It was amazing to find something that worked.”
            In addition to the electroconvulsive therapy, he sees a therapist weekly. He also sees an additional psychiatrist and takes three drugs. He pays about $675 a month for COBRA — employer-based insurance for people who lose or leave their jobs –plus at least $1,500 a year with various co-pays. It’s expensive, especially since he had to quit his teaching job due to his depression, but even when he got insurance through work, it was limited.
            When he started teaching chemistry 22 years ago, he noticed that his policy carried a $50,000 lifetime cap on mental health care. Quickly, he could have surpassed that and would have had to pay for his treatment out of his savings, he said.
            “Obamacare changed that,” Babb said. “Parity of service means they can’t exclude you because you suffer from something that is something mental, not physical. That has been a lifesaver for me.”
            He said Obamacare gave him his life back. Though he can’t work, he still feels he has something to offer his community in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. He’s a regular volunteer, driving for the blind, and he stays active with his hometown Lions Club. He’s there for his teenage sons. And he promises to continue speaking up to urge congress to keep Obamacare, rather than merely repeal it. As someone who is about to get coverage through Medicaid, he worries about those proposed cuts.
            “I remain very concerned with what’s going on,” he said. “I know when to speak up when stuff seems rotten. I can’t believe these politicians would take hundreds of millions out of health care for people who really need it to give tax cuts to the rich. I hope they come to their senses soon.”


            In 2001, when Karen Deitemeyer was 55, she started having trouble walking up the stairs. She had been a smoker, but with the help of two visits to a psychologist who used hypnotherapy, she had kicked the habit about a decade before.
            Initially, she chalked it up to aging. “I was a little overweight at the time, and while I exercise, I probably don’t exercise nearly as much as I should,” she thought, but the problem continued.
            She went to see her primary care doctor, who sent her to a pulmonologist. Tests showed that it wasn’t normal aging. She had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD. It’s an umbrella term used to describe lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe. More than 15.7 million Americans have it, according to a clinical review from 2013. Though many with COPD smoked at one point in their lives, it can also be genetic, and it can be caused by a person’s environment.
            COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and yet Deitemeyer, who is a volunteer in the COPD community, regularly gets asked what it is. “It’s a relatively newer umbrella term, so when I ask them ‘did you have an older relative with chronic bronchitis or emphysema? That’s what we call COPD now,’ and then they start to recognize it,” she said.
            By the time she was diagnosed with COPD, it was considered severe, she said. “It comes on gradually. It’s not like one day you are fine and the next you can’t do anything,” she said.
            Despite the severity, Deitemeyer continued to work. She had a decent job with good insurance with the Oceolo County tax collector’s office. “I was determined to make it work and just brought my oxygen tanks to the office,” she said.
            She went to pulmonary rehabilitation and lost weight. Both helped her breathe better. She retired when she turned 62. “Then I finally thought it was time,” but she stays active. The 55-and-older community where she lives with her husband has an activity every day, she said. “You would not believe the calendar here. There is so much going on,” she said. She also travels the country raising awareness about COPD.
            Now, 16 years after her diagnosis, she uses a stationary oxygen tank when she sleeps anda portable oxygen concentrator when she exercises or travels, but “otherwise, I don’t have to drag it around with me, so I’m fortunate in that sense,” she said.
            Though she is old enough to be covered my Medicare, she is 71, she knows others with COPD who are not so lucky and she follows the health care debate closely and worries for others with pre-existing conditions.
            “Who exactly is exempt from that. I mean, If you think about it, essentially life is a pre-existing condition.”

            Extreme obesity

            Akilah Monifa Monifa had worked as the director of communications and public affairs for the San Francisco CBS affiliate for nearly 14 years but wanted to be an entrepreneur so she could make sure more voices were heard, and down the road, she hoped to employ others.
            She usedseverance and unemployment checks to co-found Arise 2.0 in November. It’s a multimedia publication by LGBTQ people of color created to fill a gap in coverage of that community.
            She’s excited about it, but this busy Oakland mother is uncertain about her future.
            “As I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed most people who create online publications keep their day job for at least a couple of years, particularly when they have families,” Monifa said. “My big concern is health insurance.”
            Monifa is covered through COBRA — employer-based insurance for people who lose or leave their jobs — but she’ll have to buy her own plan soon. That’s got her watching the health care debate with concern.
            “It is something I worry about, because with the reality of this new law and what it might do with pre-existing conditions, I may not be able to afford what I need to stay healthy,” she said. “And I certainly can’t afford to go without.”
            Monifa has had three of the most common pre-existing conditions. She had sleep apnea and for decades had to use a CPAP machine to help her breathe as she slept. Asthma slowed her down when she walked, and both were exacerbated by her weight.
            Like more than 18.5 million American adults, she struggled with extreme obesity and has been doing everything she can to fight it.
            Starting around age 15, she’d gain about 10 to 15 pounds a year. “I wasn’t mindful about what I ate,” she said, and it became a problem. At her greatestweight, her 5’11” frame carried more than 400 pounds. Over the years, she tried to lose it.
            “I tried everything that I could, but I would lose 75 and then gain 100, and my weight would yo-yo back and forth, and it caused serious health problems,” she said. In addition to the asthma and sleep apnea, she had borderline high blood pressure. Her knees and back hurt. “I knew my overall life expectancy was not great,” she said
            In 2012, she elected to have gastric bypass surgery. She weighed 330 pounds at the time. She made several life changes, joining group therapy and signing up for two gyms, where she continues to exercise daily. She plans meals ahead, and instead of meeting friends for dinner, they go for walks.
            The effort paid off. She lost more than 222 pounds and feels great.She doesn’t even need her CPAP machine any more, and her asthma doesn’t bother her. But the fight isn’t over. She’ll need regular checkups so doctors can monitor her health and nutrition intake becauseshe physically can’t eat as much now. She’ll also continue to see a counselor to manage the emotional side of her eating, and she’ll stay devoted to exercise.
            Even with an ankle cast for arecent injury, she is signing up for races. She recently got a medal for walking the Bay to Breakers event. “I only walked 4½ miles because the ankle was bothering me, but I was determined to do it,” she said. “You don’t lose hundreds of pounds and give up.”


            Mika Leah did everything she could to have a healthy heart, but it didn’t work, which is why she’s concerned about the possibility that insurance guarantees for those with pre-existing conditions may be dropped if Obamacare is replaced.
            She’s been eating a healthy diet all her life. She developed a taste for healthy fare after her mom removed sugar and salt from the family meals when Leah’s father had his first heart attack at age 32. She’d been playing soccer since she was 5. She exercises about four to five times a week and enjoyed the gym so much, she started teaching a cycling class for fun. But when she started having trouble running, she wondered whether something was wrong. She had run a half-marathon fine, but when she started running short distances, she felt “horrible.”
            “I was extremely breathless, and when I came home, I threw up,” she said.
            At first, she thought she’d push through. But when her breathing didn’t get easier and she started getting headaches, she went to the doctor, who chalked it up to stress. When the doctor summed up her life — she had an intense job and two children under the age of 2 and was going through a divorce — she replied, “Well, when you put it that way, I guess I am.”
            So she kept exercising, but the symptoms got worse. The doctors continued to tell her it was stress. An EKG didn’t show any problems. It wasn’t until her 33rd birthday that they realized something else was wrong.
            She and a friend went on a hike thatwas supposed to be easy. Leah had completed itwithout trouble when she was nine months pregnant. But on the first mile, she had to sit down not once but twice, and she couldn’t catch her breath.
            “It felt like a 200-pound man was standing on my chest,” she said. She looked at her hiking partner, who she says could stand to lose a good 80 pounds and was a pack-a-day smoker, and realized he hadn’t broken a sweat. “I knew something was really wrong with me, and I was terrified,” she said.
            She went to the cardiologist who had looked at her EKG. He too thought it was stress, but she refused to accept that answer. She demanded a stress test.
            A couple weeks later, doctors put her on a treadmill to run. She stepped off, and a doctor came in to tell her she needed surgery right away, she said: Her left artery was 98% blocked. The blockage was extremely close to her heart.
            She’s since had threeprocedures and fivestents put in her heart.
            Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and atherosclerosis,or clogged arteries, which can lead to heart problems, are one of the top 10 most common health conditions for Americans. About 16 million American adults struggle with it, according to a 2008 study.
            As she recovered, Leah became reflective and decided the job that brought her true joy, her cycling class, was what she wanted to do full-time. She founded Goomi, a wellness company that brings fitness and cooking and meditation classes to workplaces and schools across the country. Goomi means rubber band in Hebrew and is meant to symbolize bouncing back and flexibility.
            Leah said she is deeply concerned about insurance and tries not to get political, but as a new business owner, she watches the health care debate closely and remains concerned about the cost of care. She hopes her company and her volunteer work for the American Heart Association will help keep people healthy and especially empower patients. Though she knows it may sound cheesy, she hopes someday, it will save lives.
            “Had I not spoken up, I could easily have been one of those athletes that goes for a run and drops dead because of my heart,” she said. “It makes a difference if you speak up on behalf of your health.”


            Lori Dorn, a writer for Laughing Squid, an online site that covers arts, culture and technology, said she’s become a kind of “medical sherpa” over the years, trying to help friends and acquaintances navigate the medical system when they are diagnosed with cancer.
            “I tell friends, if you or someone you know who has been diagnosed with cancer and need someone to talk to or to get you through that void and darkness or someone who can help you navigate the health care system, I am there for you,” Dorn said. That’s because she has been there, too.
            Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, she meets the five-year definition of cancer-free but still goes in every three months for a checkup, and she’s still on medication.
            When she was diagnosed with cancer, she had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and got through it without too much trouble. “I’ve been told I’m a tough cookie,” she said.
            She also has another condition: asthma. Her asthma symptoms were much worse when she was living in San Francisco, where there were a lot of old buildings with mold and dust, to which she is highly allergic, she says. “Thankfully, I haven’t had a serious attack in eight or nine years,” although she usesa rescue inhaler if neededbut hasn’t been to the hospital in years.
            Still, the medication for both are expensive. She is on her husband’s insurance, but without it, she says, the drugs would cost her about $20,000 a month.
            “It’s expensive without it, or what would happen if I was unemployed, which has happened in the past? I don’t know what I would do,” she said. “I can’t go without them, but you see where people can’t afford their medication and have to go without. Politicians keep saying people can have their choice with health care reform, but when health care is too expensive, there are not great options in the market. That is not a choice.”
            Dorn is particularly concerned that annual or lifetime limit caps could come back. She said her treatments could have easily put her over those limits.
            Dorn also has questions for politicians and insurance companies that talk about pre-existing conditions as if they were something they brought on themselves. She has a gene that makes her predisposed to breast cancer. “A lot of people like myself with the genetic marker,” Dorn said. “We were born with this. Does this mean I’ve always had a pre-existing condition? Does this mean that they want to punish people for being born with a proclivity toward a pre-existing condition? Legislation like this seems very cruel.”

            Read more:

            5 Answers To Questions You Didn’t Know You Had (Part 2)

            I didn’t pay much attention in school, which is probably why I have so many questions about the world. And why I do this for a living.

            As I explained last time, I’ve been making a conscious effort to keep little random questions that pop into my head every day in mind so I can look them up later to educate myself the way I actively prevented any teacher from doing. The column you’re about to read is the result of this admittedly unimpressive effort to remember to do basic things. But in the spirit of full disclosure, the questions that pop into my head can be a little … odd. For instance …


            What Does Human Meat Taste Like?

            Even if you aren’t a legit cannibal and you’ve only eaten someone for basic survival, the stigma is going to be a bitch to scrub off. If you’re capable of eating someone at a party, that will be the elephant in the room every time you attend one. That’s a shitty reputation. And you know legitimate cannibals are crazy because they accept that possibility with open arms. And that’s how I figure human meat must be pretty good. Why risk being socially ostracized if people aren’t delicious, right?

            Right. Now that I’ve deduced that humans are yummy as fuck, it still feels too general. I want to know what we taste like, specifically.

            The consensus among several real-life cannibals who were asked that very question is pork. In 2007, German cannibal Armin Meiwes described the flavor as “like pork, a little bit more bitter, stronger. It tastes quite good.” Serial killer and cannibal Arthur Shawcross said humans taste like fresh ham, maybe even a little like roasted pork.

            Other cannibals disagree.

            Peter Bryan described his victim’s arms and legs as tasting like chicken, but that’s such a cliche answer, Peter. Either develop a more refined palate or expand your reference points.

            Jeffery Dahmer once likened the flavor of a thigh/bicep/internal organ stir fry to a filet mignon, which means human meat is overpriced and tastes like nothing. Eating people would be totally worth it if he said ribeye. I have standards.

            Others were a little too general in their description. Omaima Nelson was a former model whose career to the unexpected downturn when she ate her husband. She said husband meat is “so sweet.” Same as late-1800s American prospector/cannibal Alfred Packer, who described the taste of his prospecting party as “the sweetest meat,” which is too pervy. That’s the name Matthew McConaughey gave to his penis.

            So taking the most believable, trusted cannibals at their word, human meat tastes like sweet pork.


            Why Don’t School Buses Have Seat Belts?

            Most school buses don’t have seat belts for their passengers. Bus seat belts are mandatory in only six out of 50 states in the U.S. At least 18 others are considering such laws, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. So a majority of kids are at risk of banging on everything as they flop around the inside of a bus.

            Federal law only requires seat belts in school buses that weigh under 10,000 pounds. On a federal level, only short buses which transport disabled students require seat belts. Every other bus is a giant lottery ball machine where the balls are made of people.

            The typical long yellow school buses you have in mind right now have been deemed so safe by federal agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that they think seat belts aren’t even necessary. It has to do with the modern design.

            To describe a child in a school bus accident prior to mandated design changes in 1977, Indianapolis Monthly magazine said, it’s like “placing an egg in a toolbox full of wrenches and gasoline, then throwing it down a flight of stairs and hoping it came out unbroken.” That’s the most graphic sentence about a toolbox I’ve ever seen.

            Fearing that we were at risk of turning our nation’s children into wrenches (I may have misunderstood the metaphor), the NHTSA packed bus seats closer together and gave them shock-absorbing steel skeletons. They raised the seat backs and bolted them to the floor (did the seats just slide around before that?). The buses’ fuel systems were improved to reduce the chance of roasting children. New mirrors were added so drivers could see whether kids were standing so they could brake real quick to teach them a lesson. And joints were strengthened to reduce the likelihood of buses shredding apart in an accident like a race car slamming into a corner at 200 mph. It’s a miracle anyone survived the ’70s.

            They basically redesigned buses like egg cartons. Kids can’t get hurt if their bodies have nowhere to move. It wouldn’t hurt to put seat belts in, but it’s just an added expense for a vehicle that’s already considered the safest form of transportation there is. Though I don’t see how they’re safer than parade floats. They go one mile an hour and are covered in soft mascots.


            Why Is Breakfast In America Mostly Dessert Food?

            It wouldn’t make sense if one of our daily meals was just a cake. Yet that’s what a lot of American breakfast food is — waffles, pancakes, croissants, French toast, almost everything in the cereal aisle, donuts, muffins, and all the weird sub-categories, variations, and cultural twists on each. It’s dessert you eat in the morning to get a jump start on your diabetes. How did American breakfast menus come to look like they were written by pudgy children with Kool-Aid-stained lips?

            The culture of eating dessert in the morning was imported from all over the world, but we perfected it. And America defines “perfected” as “taken to its most self-destructive extreme.” And we can blame the Dutch for that. They brought pancakes, waffles, and donuts to America in the early 1600s. Nobody knew what time of day we should be eating any of them, so we ate them whenever the hell we wanted. Since they were bread-adjacent, we defaulted to eating them for dinner, like we do garlic bread with a bowl of pasta or a donut with salmon.

            It stayed that way, until one day we decided to not wait several hours to be our worst selves. Thin crepe-like pancakes were a staple of American dinners during the Revolutionary War. Then people added a leavening agent to make them rise and realized we’d all be much better off if we started our day with fleeting joy.

            Donuts weren’t associated with breakfast until we invented machines that could mass-produce them, which led to donuts showing up in more bakeries. This coincided with the increased availability of coffee in bakeries. People stopped in to grab a morning cup, and the sensual allure of glaze compelled them to grab a donut as well.

            Pop-Tarts and sugary cereals were a direct result of America’s obsession with convenience. Why make a whole meal of proteins when you can heat this pale slip of crumbly pastry with a thin smattering of fruity sugar sludge in a toaster real quick and launch out the door with your warm heart disease delivery device a minute later?


            Why Do Buttholes Have Hair?

            Did our anuses need to be kept warm in the winter? Is butthole hair there to reduce the friction between our butt cheeks so our pants don’t catch fire? Evolution-wise, it seems counterproductive. The poop would stick to it and cause disease in primitive people who didn’t buy wet wipes, right?

            The frustrating thing about this question, which seems like it should have a simple definitive answer, is that it doesn’t. We’ve had them since forever, but we have no idea why we’ve got dry thickets of spooky forest vines surrounding our stink knots like they’re protecting the outside world from the witch that lives within. But we do have solid theories that we’re running with, since no one is brave enough to study asshole hair for a living. Turns out my joke about reducing friction between cheeks might be part of the explanation. Another is that butt pubes (bubes) might have something to do with olfactory communication.

            See, your unique stink is your body’s way of releasing pheromones that tell those around you a little something about yourself that they’d rather not know. One theory is that we’re kind of like dogs, in that the stench of our assholes was one of the ways we once communicated — and we still do. For instance, when you fart in an elevator, you’re telling passengers you’re a terrorist. The hair traps our unique natural body odors, which supposedly let other (I guess) people know who you are. So if you wax off your asshole hair, you’re a step closer to going off the grid. Soon, you’ll be free to spend your days building bombs and putting the finishing touches on your manifesto in your cabin in the Ozarks.


            Do Chickens Care That We Take Their Eggs?

            I don’t want to speak for chickens, but if I were a chicken and I spent all that time making eggs in my chicken womb and then popped a few out of my chicken tube, and then some human came in and tried to take it, I’d be like, “Wha? No.” Then again, maybe I’m putting too many human qualities on poultry. I mean, it turns out that chickens don’t have vaginas and roosters don’t have penises, so they don’t have sex the way you’re imagining. But still, I’d imagine that any animal would get a little riled up if you try to take away their babies. But I don’t often hear about hens trying to peck out Farmer John’s still-beating heart after he tried to steal their eggs. Do hens even give a shit that we’ve industrialized the kidnapping of their children?

            Depends on the chicken.

            If they’re taking eggs from non-commercial breeds, there’s an element of timing involved. Hens form a “clutch” of eggs, which is when they lay up to 20 eggs but don’t actually do anything with them. They’re saving them up until the day their hormones ignite and they’re overcome with the desire to sit on the eggs and turn them into chicks. Try to take an egg from a brooding hen and pretty much nothing will happen; it’ll be pissed, but it’s a chicken and we invented the Naked Chicken Chalupa. What are they gonna do?

            Wild hens won’t lay another egg until their previous bunch has grown up and moved out of the house. By taking the eggs before they hatch, farmers are tricking hens into entering an infinite cycle of laying eggs which they, in their tiny chicken brains, probably think are duds.

            Jesus, that’s dark. But surely, commercial factory-farmed chickens have it much better!

            Brooding over an egg has been bred out of some commercial hybrid hens. The ones used for large-scale egg farming have had the will to fight back against a huge alien overlord stealing their young scrubbed from their instincts, which sometimes results in them crapping out an egg and walking away like they don’t even give a shit anymore. That’s almost as sad as the infinite loop of chicken infertility.

            As a counterpoint, here’s a picture of a really good breakfast sandwich I made the other day:


            Much respect, lady chickens.

            Luis would like everyone to know that cannibal Armin Meiwes is now a vegetarian. He (Luis, not Armin) is on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

            Human meat tastes sweet, and you can try some.

            If you loved this article and want more content like this, please consider donating to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

            For more, check out 5 Random Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted Answered and 17 Unanswered Movie Questions That Totally Have Answers.

            Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out 6 Easy Questions (That Science Has A Hard Time Answering), and watch other videos you won’t see on the site!

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            The $37 Billion Supplement Industry Is Barely Regulated And It’s Allowing Dangerous Products To Slip Through The Cracks

            • The $37 billion supplement industry is largely unregulated
            • Some supplements (a category that includes vitamins and herbs) can be dangerous and have been linked with ER visits and death
            • The FDA is currently recalling supplements found to be contaminated with banned drugs and bacteria
            • New supplement companies like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop continue to advertise their products as healthy despite potential side effects, and some say they target vulnerable consumers

            When Pouya Jamshidi, a resident at Weill Cornell Medical College, delivered his first baby, the doctor on call told him to take the newborn away from its mother.

            The baby, a healthy girl with mocha-pink skin and a powerful set of lungs, was being quarantined.

            In the middle of the pregnancy, her mother had come down with tuberculosis. She’d contracted the contagious lung infection in her teens, and the illness came back despite preventative antibiotics and regular screenings. The cause: a popular herbal supplement called St. John’s wort.

            “The trouble is most people don’t consider it a medication because you don’t need a prescription for it, and so she didn’t tell us,” Jamshidi told Business Insider.

            St. John’s wort is one of the most popular herbal supplements sold in the United States. But in 2000, the National Institutes of Health published a study showing that St. John’s wort could severely curb the effectiveness of several important pharmaceutical drugs — including antibiotics, birth control, and antiretrovirals for infections like HIV — by speeding up their breakdown in the body.

            “It basically overmetabolized the antibiotics so they weren’t in her system in the correct dose,” Jamshidi said.

            The findings on St. John’s wort prompted the US Food and Drug Administration to warn doctors about the herbal remedy. But that did little to stem public sale or consumption of it. Over the past two decades, US poison-control centers have gotten about 275,000 reports — roughly one every 24 minutes — of people who reacted badly to supplements; a third of them were about herbal remedies like St. John’s wort.

            Overdosing on a ‘natural’ supplement

            The FDA defines supplements as products “intended to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet.” They aren’t regulated as drugs — only when a supplement is shown to cause significant harm is it called out as unsafe.

            Half of all adult participants in a survey in the mid-2000s said they took at least one supplement every day — almost the same percentage of Americans who took them two decades ago. Yet research has consistently found the pills and powders to be ineffective and sometimes dangerous.

            “Consumers should expect nothing from [supplements] because we don’t have any clear evidence that they’re beneficial, and they should be leery that they could be putting themselves at risk,” S. Bryn Austin, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Business Insider. “Whether it’s on the bottle or not, there can be ingredients in there that can do harm.”

            Despite many such warnings, the supplement industry’s market is as much as $37 billion a year, according to one estimate. Ads for supplements can be found on internet pop-up windows, on social media, in magazine pages, and on TV. They’re sold in corner health stores, pharmacies, and big grocery conglomerates.

            But supplements do not come with explicit instructions on how much to take — only a suggested dose — or potential drug interactions. Jamshidi’s patient had no idea she was putting her life or that of her baby at risk.

            But she was not alone. Using data from 2004 to 2013, the authors of a 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that 23,005 emergency-room visits a year were linked to supplements. Between 2000 and 2012, the annual rate of negative reactions to supplements — or “exposures” as they are known in scientific parlance — rose from 3.5 to 9.3 cases per 100,000 people, a 166% increase.

            Over that period, 34 people died as a result of using supplements, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology. Six of the deaths resulted from ephedra, the once popular weight-loss supplement banned by the FDA in 2004, and three people died from homeopathic remedies. One person died after using yohimbe, an herbal supplement used for weight loss and erectile dysfunction. (Certain formulations of it can be prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction.)

            ‘You don’t know what you’re dealing with’

            Jamshidi said he knew many people who took a daily multivitamin and tried herbal formulations now and again when they were feeling tired or unwell and always withheld judgement. But he remembers the moment he became wary of supplements: when the pregnant woman his team was monitoring began coughing up phlegm.

            “She had been an incredibly cooperative patient, super engaged and always showing up on time for her visits, taking all of our instructions carefully — just a really good patient,” Jamshidi said.

            Business Insider / Skye Gould

            When Jamshidi and his team realized their patient’s tuberculosis was back, they asked if she’d started any new medications. She said no, but the next day she arrived at the clinic with a small bottle of St. John’s wort.

            She said she had been taking the herbal remedy for the feelings of depression she experienced after her last pregnancy. Although some small studies initially suggested St. John’s wort could have benefits for people with depressive symptoms, the NIH researchers failed to find enough evidence to support that.

            Jamshidi’s patient had to be isolated to ensure the infection didn’t spread. She spent the last three months of her pregnancy alone.

            “It was miserable — she was isolated for all that time, and then she couldn’t even hold the baby,” Jamshidi said.

            In his opinion, one of the reasons many people end up in emergency rooms after taking supplements is that the quantities of active ingredients in them can vary dramatically. A 2013 study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that doses of ingredients in supplements could even vary from pill to pill — which poses a significant hurdle for doctors trying to treat a negative reaction.

            “There are other medications that can have side effects, but patients come in and tell you the dose, and you can reverse it,” Jamshidi said. “But with supplements, you don’t know what you’re dealing with.”

            ‘Vitamines’ to prevent disease

            By isolating the first “vitamine” in 1912, the Polish chemist Casimir Funk unwittingly unleashed a frenzy among chemists to create or synthesize vitamins in the lab.

            Between 1929 and 1943, 10 Nobel Prizes were awarded for work in vitamin research. By the mid-1950s, scientists had synthesized 12 of the 13 essential vitamins. These were added to foods like bread, cereal, and milk, which were sold as “fortified.” Foods that lost nutrients during processing got these vitamins added back in and were labeled “enriched.”

            When supplements were introduced in the 1930s and 1940s, they were presented as a way to address nutrient deficiencies that caused illnesses like rickets and scurvy. They were also seen as a way to avoid expensive and difficult-to-access medical treatment.

            In recent years, however, a new generation of supplements has emerged targeting primarily middle-class and affluent women. These formulas ooze with the lifestyle trends of 2017: minimalism (“Everything you need and nothing you don’t!”), bright colors, “clean eating,” and personalization.

            The actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s new lineup of $90 monthly vitamin packs — released through her controversial wellness company, Goop — have appealing names like “Why Am I So Effing Tired” and “High School Genes.” They claim to deliver health benefits like energy boosts and metabolism jump-starts.

            “What is different about what Goop offers is that the combinations, the protocols put together, were done by doctors in Goop’s team,” Alejandro Junger, a cardiologist who helped design several of Goop’s multivitamin packs, told Business Insider.

            But a look at the ingredients in “Why Am I So Effing Tired,” which Junger helped design, suggests the formula is not based on rigorous science. The vitamin packets include 12.5 milligrams of vitamin B6 — about 960% of the recommended daily allowance (although on Goop’s label it is listed as 625%) — and ingredients like rosemary extract and Chinese yam, whose effects have never been studied in humans and for which no standard daily allowance exists.


            According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin B6 is “likely safe” in the recommended daily intake amount: 1.3 milligrams for people ages 19-50. But taking too much of the supplement has been linked with abnormal heart rhythms, decreased muscle tone, and worsened asthma. High doses of B6 can also cause drops in blood pressure, the Mayo Clinic notes, and can interact with drugs like Advil, Motrin, and those prescribed for anxiety and Alzheimer’s.

            “People using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions,” the Mayo Clinic’s website says.

            Junger declined to comment on specific ingredients in the formula but said that many of them were added to “address the most common nutrient-mineral deficiencies of today: B, C, D, and E vitamins, iodine, magnesium, molybdenum, among others.”

            Other shiny new pills and powders that have materialized in recent months include one called Ritual, which arrives at your doorstep in a white-and-yellow box emblazoned with the words “The future of vitamins is clear.”

            A month’s supply of the glasslike capsules — filled with tiny white beads suspended in oil — costs $30. But the pills don’t differ much more than your standard, cheaper multivitamin — they have similar amounts of magnesium, vitamin K, folate, vitamin B12, iron, boron, vitamin E, and vitamin D.

            VitaMe, another new supplement manufacturer, ships personalized daily packets with names like “Good Hair Day” and “Bridal Boost” in a box resembling a tea-bag dispenser each month for $40.

            Its website says: “Our mission is peak nutrition. Delivered.” But its ingredients don’t differ drastically from those in conventional vitamins either.

            One of Ritual’s supplements. Ritual

            When vitamins can’t save us from ourselves  

            No matter how colorful their packaging or messaging, all these supplements fall prey to the same problem: We simply do not need them to be healthy.

            “We use vitamins as insurance policies against whatever else we might (or might not) be eating, as if by atoning for our other nutritional sins, vitamins can save us from ourselves,” Catherine Price, a science reporter, writes in the book “Vitamania.”

            A large recent review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at 27 trials of vitamins involving more than 400,000 people. The researchers concluded that people who took vitamins did not live longer or have fewer cases of heart disease or cancer than people who did not take them.

            Another long-term study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May divided nearly 6,000 men into groups and gave them either a placebo or one of four supplements touted for their brain-protecting abilities. The results showed no decreased prevalence of dementia among any of the supplement-taking groups.

            Study after study has also found that many popular supplements can cause harm. A large, long-term study of male smokers found that those who regularly took vitamin A were more likely to get lung cancer than those who didn’t. And a 2007 review of trials of several types of antioxidant supplements put it this way: “Treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality.”

            Risks aside, research has suggested that our bodies are better equipped to process the vitamins and minerals in whole foods than those in pills. When we bite into a juicy peach or a crunchy Brussels sprout, we’re ingesting dozens of nutrients, including phytochemicals like isothiocyanates, as well as carotenoids.

            Austin said that’s why “nutritionists recommend people get their nutrition from whole foods, not things that have been packaged and put into a box.”

            Virtually any registered dietitian, physician, or public health expert is likely to reiterate the advice health professionals have been giving for decades: Eat real food, like fruits and veggies, in moderation, and stay away from processed foods and sugary beverages. Or, in the words of the journalist and food writer Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

            with wind/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

            Where’s the FDA regulation?

            After spending the last few months of her pregnancy and the first few weeks of her new baby’s life in isolation, Jamshidi’s patient was able to go home and be with her family. Jamshidi said the experience changed the way he thought about supplements for good.

            “I feel very negatively about them, and I didn’t feel this way going into it,” he said.

            Ask Steven Tave, the director of the office of dietary supplement programs at the FDA, why the agency isn’t stopping more similar situations, and he’ll give a simple answer: “We’re doing the best we can.”

            In 1994, Congress passed a controversial law called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Tave said that before DSHEA passed, the FDA was starting to regulate supplements more stringently, the way it does pharmaceutical drugs, but getting “pushback from the industry.” The law forced the agency to be more lenient.

            Before a new drug can be sold, the company making it has to apply for FDA approval, and the agency has to conclude that the drug is safe and does what it claims to do.

            “So if the drug says, you know, ‘used to treat cancer,’ then the agency’s reviewers are going to look at it and make a determination that there’s evidence that it does treat cancer,” Tave said.

            New supplements don’t face any burden of proof. The agency can review products that add new dietary ingredients when it gets a notification, Tave said, but it doesn’t “have the authority to stop anything from going to market.”

            When DSHEA was passed, Tave said, the bill still made sense. In 1994, about 600 supplement companies were producing about 4,000 products for a total revenue of about $4 billion. But that market has since ballooned — today, close to 6,000 companies pump out about 75,000 products.

            “We’re regulating that with 26 people and a budget of $5 million,” Tave said.

            Removing a supplement from store shelves comes down to documented emergency-room visits and calls to poison-control centers. Only when a supplement is reported to be unsafe as a result of one of these “adverse events,” as the FDA calls them, is the agency compelled to act.

            “Most of the time, we don’t know a product is on the market until we see something bad about it from an adverse-event report. It’s a very different regime from when we know everything is out there and we know what’s in it,” Tave said, adding: “We don’t want to be reactive. We want to be proactive. But we can’t be.

            ‘Consumers have no way to know’

            Most unsafe supplements have been found to contain ingredients that aren’t listed on their labels — usually, these are pharmaceutical drugs, some of which have been banned by the FDA.

            A study of product recalls published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that of the 274 supplements recalled by the FDA between 2009 and 2012, all contained banned drugs. A 2014 report found that more than two-thirds of the supplements purchased six months after being recalled still contained banned drugs.

            “The products we see today have gone way beyond that sort of core group that they were in 1994,” Tave said. “Now they’re promoted for all sorts of things — some are long term, some are short term, some are chemicals no one’s ever seen before. It’s a much different universe than it was at the time.”

            Austin says three categories of supplements are the “most lawless of the industry”: physical enhancement, weight loss, and sexual performance.

            “Some of these companies won’t identify ingredients that they purposefully put in the products,” she said. “Some weight-loss drugs, for example, that have been pulled from the market — we can still find these in the bottle even though they don’t put it on the label.”

            Tave’s 26-person team, the only government employees looking into these issues, didn’t even have a dedicated office until about a year and a half ago.

            “We’re pretty sure were not aware of everything that’s out there, but we do what we can,” he said. “All we can do is enforce the law.”

            Dangerous supplements continue to seep through the cracks, however.

            In 2016, the world’s largest supplement maker, GNC Holdings Inc., agreed to pay $2.25 million to avoid federal prosecution over allegations that it sold a performance-enhancing supplement that claimed to increase speed, strength, and endurance with an active ingredient called dimethylamylamine, or DMAA. Two soldiers who used the supplement died in 2011, which prompted the Defense Department to remove all products containing DMAA from stores on military bases.

            A recent indictment against USPlabs, the Texas-based company that made the supplement, accused it of falsely claiming the product was made of natural plant extracts when it really contained synthetic stimulants made in China.

            The problems are ongoing. Earlier this year, the FDA recalled several supplements after they were found to contain unapproved new drugs, and two more were recalled after they were found to contain unlisted anabolic steroids. On August 11, just days before this article was published, the FDA recalled another batch of supplements — this time pills manufactured by a company called PharmaTech — because of possible contamination with bacteria that can cause serious respiratory infection.

            “Consumers have no way to know that what’s in the label is what’s actually in the bottle or box,” Austin said. “There are many dubious companies out there that are willing to take a risk with consumers health and their lives.”

            Read more:

            Standing all day is twice as bad as sitting, according to new study

            On the circle of health hype, what was bad becomes good, then it becomes overrated, then it becomes bad again. That’s what happened to barefoot running and multivitamins, and it’s where the purported dangers of “too much sitting” seem to be headed.

            But, like all hype cycles, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle rather than on the peaks or in the valleys. With that in mind, it’s worth looking at an interesting study just published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that finds jobs that require a lot of standing to be much worse for your health than jobs that require mostly sitting. The new study is a surprising counterweight to the ubiquitous “sitting is the new smoking” message (which I’ve written about numerous times: “Are the Dangers of Sitting Overhyped?” and “Does Sitting Really “Cancel” the Benefits of Exercise?” )—but it’s not as simple as it may seem.

            The researchers, led by a team from the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto, followed 7,320 people (half men, half women) for an average of 12 years, collecting initial information about their job type and then using government health records to determine who developed heart disease. Overall, 3.4 percent of the participants developed heart disease; the rate was 4.6 percent in men and 2.1 percent in women.


            The job types were divided by whether they predominantly involve sitting; standing; a combination of sitting, standing and walking; or other body positions like crouching and bending.

            The headline result is that people working in standing jobs were about twice as likely to develop heart disease as people working in sitting jobs. This relationship held true even after adjusting for various confounding factors like body mass index, other physical activity, the physical demands of work, and so on. (The combination jobs and other body position jobs weren’t significantly different from the sitting jobs.)

            This finding shouldn’t really be that surprising. Here’s what I wrote back in 2011, when concern about too much sitting was first emerging: “Indeed, prolonged standing has been linked to a long list of health problems over the years: most commonly varicose veins, but also night cramps, clogged arteries, back pain and even (according to one study) ‘spontaneous abortions’—enough to make you think twice before throwing away your chair.”

            So the elevated risk of heart disease for standing jobs like sales clerk, cook, and machine operator is real, and something that people should be aware of. It’s likely a result of blood pooling in the legs, and the increased stress of pumping it back up to the heart. The solution? Make chairs or stools available so that people can sit when they’re tired.

            But before we dismiss the risks of sitting around all day, it’s worth pointing out that just because sitting all day may be better than standing all day, that doesn’t mean sitting is flawless. Maybe the best option is sitting most of the day, but ensuring you get up frequently to move around, or perhaps use an adjustable desk to break up the day with some standing breaks.


            In fact, you might wonder whether the combination jobs, which involved sitting, standing, and walking, might produce the best results of all. Overall, those jobs were no different from sitting all day. But if you break it down by sex, there was a dramatic difference. The men with combination jobs were 39 percent less likely to develop heart disease compared to men with sitting jobs; the women, in contract, were 80 percent more likely to develop heart disease.

            The study can’t answer why this sex difference occurs, but there may be some hints in the list of most common occupations. For men, the combination jobs tended to be things like courier drivers and retail managers; for women, it was nurses, kindergarten and elementary school teachers, and cashiers—positions with distinctly different movement patterns and stress levels.

            Personally, as someone whose job entails sitting at a computer for most of every day, knowing that I’m theoretically better off than a short-order cook isn’t really what I’m after. I still want to optimize my health within the parameters of my job—and as I’ve written before, I find the admittedly preliminary evidence that excessive sedentary behavior has negative health effects (beyond the mere absence of exercise) to be intriguing enough to pay attention to.

            But hey, let’s let the cooks take a seat now and then too.

            This article originally appeared on Runner’s World

            Read more:

            Science Says Slow Walkers Have More To Worry About Besides Everyone Hating Them

            When you have places to be and deadlines to meet, the last thing you need is someone slowly strolling in front of you on the street. As a native New Yorker, I speak for all the speedy walkers of this city when I say slow walkers are the bane of our very packed agendas. If you’re one of these infuriatingly slow walkers who obstructs the busy flow of life, I’m sorry to inform you that you guys actually have a little more to worry about besides people like me hating your existence. New research says slow walkers are at risk of dying from heart disease.

            According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Leicester, how slowly you walk could affect your heart health, and it may subsequently increase your risk of dying from heart disease at a young age.

            In the study, researchers followed more than 420,000 people over a six-year period to examine the speed of their usual stroll and assess their death rates, as well.

            The findings showed that those who identified as being slow walkers were found to be between 1.8 and 2.4 times more likely to die of heart disease during the six-year time period than rapid-paced walkers.

            However, the researchers believe this may be due to a possible correlation between speedy walkers and active lifestyles.

            According to their hypothesis, people who tend to walk at a faster pace are more physically fit and more likely to exercise than slow walkers. Therefore, fast walkers are better protected against things like high blood pressure, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles — all of which are potential causes of heart disease.

            If you are one of these aloof walkers who stroll like the world is legitimately in slow motion, then maybe you can’t help it, and you genuinely prefer not to rush your life along. As a native Manhattan woman, I don’t really get that, but hey, I’m not here to judge.

            However, given the pretty real threat of heart disease in this case, you may want to add a bit more activity into your life. I mean, it can’t hurt, right?

            No one says you have to become a marathon runner overnight. There are plenty of everyday, casual ways to spice up your life with a bit of sweat and movement.

            For one, stay away from escalators and elevators. If you see a very long staircase, then use that very long staircase as an opportunity to take your very long walk. Minute things like climbing the steps rather than taking a joy ride on an escalator can gradually make a huge difference in your life.

            You can also look into 10-minute power exercises, which, I promise you, are really fun — I do them all the time. Regardless of how busy you are, I’m willing to bet you can find 10 minutes in your day to commit to your health.

            Another way to ensure you get more activity in your life? If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two early. That’s about 10 to 20 extra minutes of walking you just factored into your life, by getting off the train a little earlier than usual. And don’t worry, if you don’t want to walk fast, you don’t to (I guess *sigh*), but at least you’re moving more, right? That’s the ultimate goal here.

            Slow and steady wins the race, but when it comes to your heart health, you really have to put in some extra movement to do what’s best for your body.

            Read more:

            ‘Fat but fit’ still risk heart disease – BBC News

            Image copyright Getty Images

            People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of heart disease even if they appear medically healthy, experts are warning.

            The work, in the European Heart Journal, is further evidence against the idea people can be “fat but fit”.

            The researchers studied health data on more than half a million people in 10 European countries, including the UK.

            Normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels were no assurance of good heart health among obese people.

            After a follow-up period of more than 12 years, 7,637 of the people in the study had developed heart disease.

            Weight appeared to be a risk factor.

            In the study, people who were overweight or obese but had healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol readings were about 28% more likely to develop heart disease than individuals with similar readings and a healthy bodyweight.

            Being fat and “metabolically unhealthy” – having high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar – was riskier still.

            Are you a healthy weight for your height?

            The researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge say the findings are a reminder that carrying too much fat can store up health problems for the future.

            Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “I think there is no longer this concept of healthy obese.

            “If anything, our study shows that people with excess weight who might be classed as ‘healthy’ haven’t yet developed an unhealthy metabolic profile.

            “That comes later in the timeline, then they have an event, such as a heart attack.”

            Image copyright Getty Images

            According to the researchers, the excess weight itself may not be increasing the risk of heart disease directly, but rather over time through mechanisms such as increased blood pressure and high glucose.

            Prof Metin Avkiran, from the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, said: “The take-home message here is that maintaining a healthy body weight is a key step towards maintaining a healthy heart.”

            Related Topics

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            24 Health ‘Facts’ That Are Actually Wrong

            There’s something about health and nutrition folk wisdom that’s resistant to truth.

            Common health “facts” include the ideas that MSG will make you sick, that a juice detox is just what you need after a week of indulgence, and that sports drinks like Gatorade are totally fine since you need the electrolytes.

            None of these things are true. They, like many other folk sayings and tips, fall into the category of health myths that are totally or at least mostly wrong.

            Here’s the truth behind some of those health claims you’ve heard all your life, but might not hold water at all.

            1. MSG in Chinese food will make you sick.

            Will Wei, Business Insider

            The myth that MSG is bad for you comes from a letter a doctor wrote to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968, where he coined the term “Chinese restaurant syndrome” to describe a variety of symptoms including numbness and general weakness.

            But though the doctor blamed these feelings on monosodium glutamate, MSG, the research doesn’t back it up. The scientific consensus according the American Chemical Society is that “MSG can temporarily affect a select few when consumed in huge quantities on an empty stomach, but it’s perfectly safe for the vast majority of people.”

            And this makes sense MSG is nothing more than a common amino acid with a sodium atom added. The placebo effect is more than strong enough to account for the negative effects sometimes associated with MSG.
            2. Coffee stunts your growth.


            There isn’t a whole lot of evidence on this, but most research finds no correlation between caffeine consumption and bone growth in kids.

            In adults, researchers have seen that increased caffeine consumption can very slightly limit calcium absorption, but the impact is so small that a tablespoon of milk will more than adequately offset the effects of a cup of coffee.

            Interestingly, advertising seems to be largely responsible for this myth. A breakfast cereal manufacturer named C.W. Post was trying to market a morning beverage called “Postum” as an alternative to coffee, so he ran ads on the “evils” of Americans’ favorite hot beverage, calling it a “nerve poison” that should never be served to children.
            3. Bundle up or youll catch a cold.

            Flickr user quinn.anya

            Being physically cold isn’t what gets you sick; exposure to a cold virus does. There’s no evidence that going outside with wet hair when it’s freezing will make you sick by itself provided you avoid hypothermia.

            But there are some scientifically sound explanations for why people catch more colds in winter. Because we spend more time in close quarters indoors, it is more likely that we’ll cross paths with a cold-causing virus spread from another person during the winter. And for several reasons, we may have a harder time fighting off cold and flu virus particles in winter.

            But being cold itself isn’t what makes sick, and some argue that cold exposure can actually improve your health.

            4. The chemical tryptophan in turkey makes you sleepy.

            Who doesn’t love the post-Thanksgiving nap? We frequently consider those naps inevitable, since turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is a component of some of the brain chemicals that help you relax.

            But plenty of foods contain tryptophan. Cheddar cheese has even more than turkey and cheddar is never pointed out as a sleep inducing food. Experts say that instead, the carbs, alcohol, and general size of the Turkey-day feast are the cause of those delicious holiday siestas.

            Another Pint Please…/Flickr

            5. Taking your vitamins will keep you healthy.

            Ken Wilcox / Flickr

            Vitamins sound like a great idea. One pill that can provide you everything you need to be healthy!

            If only they worked. After decades of research on vitamins, most reviews don’t find any justification for our multivitamin habit, and in some cases, vitamins have actually been associated with an increased risk of various cancers. Malnourished people might benefit from some supplements, but most of us should just get our vitamins naturally from food.
            6. Beer before liquor, never sicker; liquor before beer, youre in the clear.


            We’re all heard it: “beer before liquor, never sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.”

            But while it’s very true that overdoing it with booze might leave you praying to the porcelain gods, there’s no need to place the blame on the order you consume the beverages in alcohol is alcohol, and too much of it will make anyone feel sick.

            However, there are some strange ways this piece of advice can make sense. People who switch from beer to mixed drinks (with senses and judgment already dulled) may be less likely likely to monitor their alcohol consumption and thus drink more.

            And some research shows that your body metabolizes mixed drinks faster than higher-concentration alcohol (a shot of whiskey, say). So adding liquor to a stomach-full of beer could, in theory, create a sort of mixed drink that would metabolize faster than one or the other on its own.

            We’ll call this one partly true, but chalk up the “never sicker” part mostly to bad decision making.

            7. You lose 90% of your body heat through your head.

            Not necessarily. You lose body heat through anything uncovered, according to Dr. Aaron E. Carroll and Dr. Rachel C. Vreeman, authors of “Don’t Swallow Your Gum!: Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health.”

            Your head is not special in that way it’s just more likely to be exposed.


            “Most of the time when we’re outside in the cold, we’re clothed,” Richard Ingebretsen, MD, PhD, told WebMD Magazine. “If you don’t have a hat on, you lose heat through your head, just as you would lose heat through your legs if you were wearing shorts.”
            8. Wait an hour after eating to swim or you’ll drown.


            Some parents say no swimming for 30 minutes after eating, some say an hour, but many of us may remember waiting out the clock before returning to the pool or beach. The theory behind this seems to be that digesting food will draw blood to your stomach, meaning that less blood is available for your muscles, making them more likely to cramp.

            But there’s no evidence to support this claim. In fact, many sources say there are no documented cases of anyone ever drowning because they’ve had a cramp related to swimming with a full stomach.

            Cramps do happen frequently when swimming, but they aren’t caused by what’s in your stomach. If you do get one, the best policy is to float for a minute and let it pass.
            9. It takes 7 years for gum to digest if you swallow it.

            REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

            When it got out that Trump press secretary Sean Spicer chews and swallows two and a half packs of chewing gum by noon every day, many people had the same question: Couldn’t that maybe do some harm?

            Probably not. Gum is mostly indigestible, meaning that it usually passes through your intestines and exits the other side, like most of what your body doesn’t need and can’t digest.

            “On rare occasions, large amounts of swallowed gum combined with constipation have blocked intestines in children,” Dr. Michael Picco of the Mayo Clinic writes. Still, he says swallowing gum generally isn’t harmful.

            10. When you’re drunk on gin, you get mean.

            There are plenty of alcohol-related myths out there, and the idea that different alcohols have different effects on you is a big one. Some people claim wine makes them sleepy while whiskey makes them want to argue.

            In short, experts say this is bunk. “Alcohol is alcohol whichever way you slice it,” pharmacologist Paul Clayton, a fellow of Oxford’s Institute of Food, Brain & Behaviour, told The Guardian.

            So why do people insist that tequila makes them crazy?

            Eliana Aponte/Reuters

            One very strong possibility is that we experience the effects we expect when we drink (or consume most substances). Scientific research going back to the 1960s shows that we “learn” how to behave while drunk, and that our actual drunken behavior is a direct reflection of our expectations.

            Although many people may become violent while intoxicated, people who have never associated drunkenness with conflict don’t show the same behavior. So by that same token, if we expect that vodka will make us want to sing karaoke, we can perhaps turn that into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
            11. A juice cleanse will ‘detox’ you after an unhealthy eating binge.

            Jason Merritt / Getty

            The myth of the juice cleanse is a stubborn one and one frequently promoted by celebrities but it’s both wrong and unhealthy.

            First of all, your body naturally removes harmful chemicals through the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract there’s nothing about juice that will hurry that process along.

            Secondly, juicing is mostly a way of removing helpful fiber from fruits and vegetables many sugary fruit juices are as bad for you as sodas. You’re making the fruit less healthy by “juicing” it.
            12. Everyone should drink eight glasses of water a day.

            AP/Angela Rowlings

            Hydration is very important, but the idea that eight glasses of water is essential is a strange one.

            In healthy people, researchers haven’t found a connection between fluid intake and kidney disease, heart disease, sodium levels, or skin quality.

            People get a lot of their water from foods and other beverages in the first place, but there is a good reason to drink more water. It’s a calorie free alternative to other beverages (especially sugary ones), and people who drink water instead of those beverages consume fewer calories overall.

            But in general, drink when you are thirsty you don’t need to count the glasses.

            13. It’s fine to eat something if it’s been on the floor for less than 5 seconds.

            It’s the worst when something you really wanted to eat falls on the floor. But if you grab it in five seconds, is it okay?

            Sorry, but the five-second-rule isn’t a real thing. Bacteria can contaminate a food within milliseconds. Moist foods attract more bacteria than dry foods, but there’s no “safe duration.” Instead, safety depends on how clean the surface you dropped the food on is.


            Whether you eat it or not after that is up to you, but if the people that walk on that floor are also walking around New York City, for example, we wouldn’t recommend it.
            14. Vaccines can be risky.

            This idea comes from a now thoroughly-debunked (and retracted) study of 12 children that appeared in 1998 in The Lancet and claimed there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

            It turned out that study wasn’t only flawed, it also contained false information that was necessary to make its point.

            Since then, numerous studies that have analyzed data from more than a million children have shown that there’s no connection between vaccines and autism.

            But fears about that connection have persisted, partially spurred on by public figures making false claims about vaccines. This has led to scary diseases like measles coming back.
            15. Yogurt will help put your digestive system back in order.


            This is one of our modern health myths. Yogurt is frequently marketed as having benefits for digestion and as something that’ll keep people slim because of probiotics, or the “good bacteria” that’s living inside it.

            Researchers have found that the bacteria in our bodies are very connected to our metabolism and obesity rates, among other things, so it seems like there’s a logical connection here.

            But we don’t yet understand how the trillions of bacteria in our bodies work well enough to manipulate them in this way. Despite the fact that the probiotic business was worth $23.1 billion in 2012, we can’t make yogurt that will repair our inner bacterial balance.

            That’s not to say that yogurt is unhealthy, just that its benefits are oversold. Plus, a lot of yogurt is packed with sugar, which we do know contributes to obesity and other problems so if you enjoy yogurt, find a version that isn’t full of additional unnecessary calories or it might have the opposite of the intended effect.

            16. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

            Apples are good for you, packed with vitamin C and fiber, both of which are important to long-term health, but they aren’t all you need.

            And if certain viruses or bacteria get into your system, an apple will unfortunately do nothing to protect you. So go ahead and get that flu shot, even if you eat apples.

            AP Images/J. Scott Applewhite

            17. Eating ice cream will make your cold worse.


            If you’re home sick with a cold, you can totally go ahead and comfort yourself with some ice cream.

            The idea that dairy increases mucus production is very fortunately not true, according to researchers and a doctor at the Mayo Clinic, who says “in fact, frozen dairy products can soothe a sore throat and provide calories when you otherwise may not eat.”

            Praise be.
            18. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

            flickr user: orijinal

            Fortunately, this isn’t true either.

            Cracking your knuckles may annoy the people around you, but even people who have done it frequently for many years aren’t any more likely to develop arthritis than those who don’t.

            19. Starve a fever, feed a cold.

            There’s a good reason you may have heard this said multiple ways, either “starve a cold, feed a fever” or “starve a fever, feed a cold.”

            Despite a slew of headlines claiming that starving a fever wasn’t a myth in response to a tiny and largely misinterpreted study in 2002, there’s no real evidence to back this up. Limiting your caloric consumption may actually hurt your immune system more than helping it, and it would certainly be a bad idea to not eat during the 6-8 day duration of a cold.

            Lindsey Turner/flickr

            Instead, doctors say to go ahead and eat if you can. The more accurate expression, as Scientific American notes, would be “feed a cold, feed a fever.” And make sure to get plenty of fluids.
            20. It’s fine to drink sports drinks to rehydrate.


            We all know that soda and similarly sugary drinks like lemonade are bad for us (right?), but what about sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade? Sports-focused advertising has successfully convinced a whole lot of people that downing a bottle of this stuff is fine, especially if you’ve gone for a jog recently it’s replacing electrolytes, after all.

            But really, for most people the amount of sugar in these drinks is far more than is needed even if you’ve been exercising. Lower calorie options, which many of the same companies have created in recent years, are much better options. Or just drink water.
            21. Coffee and beer dehydrate you, since caffeine and alcohol are diuretics.

            Christopher Jue/Getty Images

            In sufficient quantities, caffeine and alcohol can have a diuretic effect. But the amount of caffeine in a typical cup of coffee or alcohol in a beer isn’t enough to really have this effect, according to one recent study. A moderate amount of either coffee or beer hydrates people just about as well as water does.

            22. Milk does a body good (and protects your bones)!

            This is an incredibly successful bit of advertising that has wormed its way into our brains and policies the US Department of Agriculture tells us that adults should drink three cups of milk a day, mostly for calcium and vitamin D.

            However, multiple studies show that there isn’t an association between drinking more milk (or taking calcium and vitamin D supplements) and having fewer fractures.

            Guy Montag/Flickr

            Milk is fine, but it’s not a magical health drink. Surprisingly, however, milk is particularly hydrating similar to pedialyte, both even more hydrating than water.
            23. You shouldn’t eat too many eggs, since it’ll raise your cholesterol.

            Wikimedia Commons

            Eggs have lots of cholesterol in them. For most of us, that’s not an issue, since a growing body of research shows that dietary cholesterol (from foods you eat) doesn’t really have much of an effect on blood cholesterol in the vast majority of people.

            Thank goodness.
            24. Eating fat will make you fat.

            Rob Ludacer

            The tide has started to swing back the other way on this one, but recommendations for low-fat foods remain common.

            The decision to demonize fat for its caloric density and heart-clogging effects was largely the result of shady science influenced by a sugar trade group. It turns out that the society-wide decision to cut saturated fat from diets led to increased consumption of sugar and processed trans fats, all of which were most likely less healthy overall.

            We need a moderate amount of fat especially healthy fat in our diets.

            Read the original article on Tech Insider. Copyright 2017.

            Read next: 9 alcoholic drinks to avoid if you want to lose weight and what you should order instead

            Read more:

            New Study Reveals What A Single Energy Drink Does To Your Body

            Energy drinks are loaded with stimulants and, more often than not, sugar as well. That shouldnt come as a shock; its in the name. So surprise surprise, chugging these things is probably not great for your body. But with headlines suggesting just one can of the stuff could raise your heart disease risk, some Red Bull connoisseurs may already be panicking about their poor tickers.

            The results of this latest study are not quite so sinister. What it actually revealed was that drinking a 480-milliliter (16-ounce) canof one particular brand of energy drink could lead to increased blood pressure and a rise in stress hormone levels in healthy adults. These short-term changes could predispose an individual to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

            The investigation, conducted by Mayo Clinic scientists, involved just a small number of participants: 25 adults with an average age of 29, 14 of whom were men. Their mean body mass index was in the middle of the healthy range (25), none of them were smokers, and as far as they were aware they were not afflicted with any diseases.

            The experimental setup was pretty simple.Participants were given a commercially available energy drink (Rockstar) and a placebo beverage to consume within five minutes. This took place on two separate days, the order of which was random, but no further than two weeks apart. The placebo was virtually indistinguishable in terms of taste, color and texture, but it didnt have any of the stimulants found in high amounts in Rockstar, and other energy drinks, like caffeine and taurine.

            Image credit: Keith Homan/Shutterstock

            Before each study day, participants were told to fast and abstain from both booze and caffeine. Both before each test and 30 minutes afterward a variety of measurements were taken, including caffeine and sugar levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. They also looked at norepinephrine (noradrenaline) in the blood, a stress hormone known to increase heart rate, blood pressureand the release of sugar from stores to prepare you to fight or flee a situation.

            As described in JAMA, unsurprisingly, caffeine levels shot up after drinking Rockstar, but not the placebo. While heart rate and blood pressure were within the normal range and similar at the start of both the placebo and energy drink days, average blood pressure increased after consuming the latter, although heart rate remained unchanged in both conditions. Additionally, norepinephrine levelsrose after consuming Rockstar, and it is the combination of these two effects that the scientists state may predispose to increased heart disease risk.

            Weve known for a while that caffeine can raise blood pressure, and considering these beverages often contain upwards of 200 milligrams of the stuff, that finding isnt particularly surprising. And weve already noted obvious limitations of the study: a small sample and using only one energy drink. Furthermore, as pointed out by Tracy Parker, Heart Health Dietician at the British Heart Foundation, the study failed to identify what precisely was responsible for the observed increase in norepinephrine and blood pressure.

            “It is hard to pinpoint whether it is the caffeine, other stimulants or a combination of ingredients in energy drinks that cause this effect and whether this would lead to any heart problems,” Parker told IFLScience. “However, more research is needed into the effects of energy drinks on the body.”

            Read more:

            Jimmy Kimmel is right on health care

            (CNN)A late-night comedian isn’t supposed to make you cry. But on Monday night, Jimmy Kimmel caused many — including me — to shed a tear while watching his emotional plea for compassionate health care coverage for children. While fighting tears himself, Kimmel remarked, “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”

            Before that emotional moment, Kimmel had opened his late-night show by explaining that his wife had given birth on April 21 to their son, William “Billy” John Kimmel. The newborn appeared fine at first, but a short time later, Kimmel was told his baby had a life-threatening heart condition that required emergency surgery to repair.
            Kimmel recounted waiting for the doctor to tell him how the surgery went, “It was the longest three hours of my life.” He then shared a photo of his adorable child while explaining that the surgery was a success, though his son will require additional surgery in the future.
              Kimmel went on from there to make a plea directed at members of Congress, who are considering whether to support the amended Trump-championed health care plan, which as Politifact concluded, would appear to “weaken existing protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
              The late-night comedian first offered a little history about America before the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all.”
              He added that before the ACA mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions, “if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition.” He added, “(If) you were born with a pre-existing condition and if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not even live long enough to get denied because of a pre-existing condition.”
              Kimmel is correct. Before the ACA, health insurers could and did deny coverage for children born with heart problems, like his son, because the carriers claimed it was a pre-existing condition.
              As noted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, coverage was denied by health insurance companies for a range of congenital disorders under the guise of those being pre-existing conditions, despite the fact that the baby literally didn’t exist before being born with the ailment.

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              Why would we as a nation ever want to go back to that time? A January Pew Poll found that Americans want our government to guarantee more health coverage, not less. That poll found that 60% of Americans say the government should be responsible for “ensuring health care coverage for all Americans.” This includes 52% of Republicans whose families earn $30,000 a year or less.
              Kimmel concluded by imploring the members of Congress who are considering repealing ACA and replacing it with the less protective plan: “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.” He added poignantly, “I think that’s something that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right? … Don’t let partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants.”
              Kimmel is 100% correct. Now let’s hope that the Republican members of Congress understand that as well.

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