Vol. 74 September 15, 2012 More Surprising Medical Fun Facts

An 11 year study of 41,000 adult Spaniards showed no association between consumption of food fried in olive oil or sunflower oil and deaths from heart attacks. (1)

More than 10,000 events of non-trivial bleeding (intestinal bleeding, stroke, nose bleeds, and blood in the urine) occurred in 102,000 study participants who did NOT have heart disease BUT who were taking daily aspirin in hopes of preventing fatal heart attacks. Their death rate from heart attack was NOT reduced. (2)

Eating only organic food made very little difference in the health of individuals according to a Stanford University review of 237 studies (a “Meta-analysis”). Organic produce had a 30% reduction in detectable levels of pesticides compared to standard produce. If uncooked organic meat harbored bacteria, those bacteria were 33% less apt to be resistant to multiple antibiotics compared to uncooked non-organic meat. (3)

More than 6300 reports of serious adverse events associated with vitamins, herbs, and other dietary supplements were filed with the FDA from 2007 to mid-April 2012. (The FDA expects 8,160 to be filed by dietary supplement companies in the next three years.)
The FDA has banned only one ingredient, ephedrine alkaloids (ephedra), used in weight loss supplements and implicated in a number of deaths. That took 10 years to do.
The only ingredient in supplements that requires an FDA warning label about adverse effects is iron, because accidental overdosing in children can be fatal. Labeling of potential adverse side effects and/or interactions with other drugs or supplements is extremely inconsistent.(4)
Check out this website for a guide to over 100 dietary supplements: Consumer Reports-Natural Health.

30% of the water consumed in Singapore is recycled sewage water called NEWater. The public accepted it only after a massive public educational campaign and the decision to release the NEWater only by mixing it in with the water in regular reservoirs. (5) Recycled sewage water may soon by on sale in the U.S. under the name “Porcelain Spring”, using Jack Black as it’s celebrity promoter. For other striking facts about the growing water shortage in Las Vegas, parts of California, and a shrinking Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam check out the movie, “Last Call at the Oasis.

Factor by which the number of American babies born addicted to opiates has increased since 2000:  3
Number of private U.S. citizens killed in terrorist attacks in 2010:   15
Number of U.S. citizens killed by falling TV sets in 2010:   16    (6)

% change in average retail price for drugs from 2007 to 2012 and 2012 cost per prescription:
Crestor (statin) +91%               $214         generic in 7/2016
Lipitor (statin)  +87%                $237      generic available
Plavix (anticoagulant) +84%   $261      generic available
Boniva (osteporosis)  +102%    $240     generic available
Singulair (asthma)  +72%        $205      generic available
Provigil (sleepiness)  +305%   $1,101   generic available   (7)

The rate of infants born to adolescents aged 15-17 years dropped in 2012 from 20 to 17 per 1000.
The percentage of children under the age of 6 years living in a home with a smoker decreased from 15% in 2005 to 10% in 2012.
The percentage of children living in counties with air pollutants above allowable levels increased from 59% to 67%. (8)

In the mid-60’s each patient discharged alive from Massachusetts General Hospital “cost” about $4,000. In 2002 that “cost” was over $25,000 per patient.
Since 2001 the mortality rate of patients hospitalized at MGH has been stable at about 2% “but the cost per patient has escalated dramatically”. This period seems to be characterized by “diminishing returns with growth in costs far outpacing reductions in inpatient mortality”.(9)

1. BMJ 2012 Jan. 24 :344
2.“Aspirin: To use or not to use?” Arch Intern Med 2012 Feb 13; 172
3. Ann Int Med reported in Bos Glob Sept. 4, 2012
4. Consumer Reports September 2012
5.Wired Sep 2012 p.32
6. Harper’s Index June 2012
7. Consumer Reports on Health Sept. 2012
8. Reported in Journal Watch Pediatrics Sept. 2012 
9. N Engl J Med 366:23 June 7, 2012

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