23andEverybody… Your Genetic Data May Screw You

The company calls itself “23andMe.” It’s a reference to the 23 pairs of chromosomes that express your unique genetic make-up.

More than 5 million people have sent their genetic material for analysis. 80% of them say the company can share their genetic data for research.

And share the company does. They’re selling your data to drug makers, research labs, and universities. In fact, it’s their big moneymaker.

Now, two new developments may change just how “private” your genetic privacy really is.

That’s why I’m sending out this urgent alert.

Big Pharma’s Big Play for Your Genetic Data

23andMe has a clear privacy policy. They promise not to share identifiable data without your okay.

That’s nice. But a new partnership may be the first step in eroding that policy.

Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline just invested $300 million in 23andMe. Which includes a 4-year data-sharing partnership.

This could be a problem. As Gizmodo noted in April of 2017, “Though to be fair, it’s debatable how anonymous that data really is.”

“In one case,” they report, “researchers were able to find out a man’s last name using only the short repeats on his Y chromosome and access to a genealogy database.”

In other words, if they want to find out who you are, they probably can.

That could be a problem. But another issue may be worse.

If insurance companies – or employers – can demand your DNA profile, you may wind up out of work… out of coverage… and out of luck.

That’s where Congress comes in.

Kiss Your Privacy – and Maybe Much More – Good-bye

Back in 2008,  Congress saw dangers in DNA testing.

  • Employers might not hire folks at a high genetic risk for some health issues.
  • Insurers might charge them higher rates. Or simply deny coverage

So Congress passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). The Act blocks the use of your genetic information by employers and insurers.

You see, a “genetic predisposition” doesn’t prove anything. And Congress felt companies shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of genetic risk.

So they banned the practice before it could take hold. Now, those protections are under attack.

The “Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act” would exempt workplace wellness programs from the genetic testing ban. And employees who refuse genetic testing may even be fined.

Congress Is Rolling Back Your Privacy Rights

This new act creates three exemptions to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and GINA.

  • It rolls back protections under the ADA
  • It lets health insurers collect DNA data
  • It lets companies collect genetic information on employees’ family members.

That’s right: Congress may make your genetic information available to employers and insurance companies. And punish you if you don’t cooperate.

The “Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act” (H.R. 1313) has already passed its first committee. All Republicans voted in favor. All Democrats opposed the Act.

If this act passes Congress, employers will be free to demand DNA tests… and who knows where that could lead?

One thing, though, is clear. Big Pharma and the insurance industry both want your DNA data. And the only one who can lose in that scenario is you.

If you’re concerned about your genetic privacy, you need to make yourself heard. Contact your senator and congressperson and let them know you oppose H.R. 1313. You can find their contact info at https://www.congress.gov/contact-us.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Cookson, C. and Samson, A., “GSK invests $300m in gene profiling group 23andMe,” The Financial Times. Jul 25, 2018.

Brown, K.V., “23andMe Is Selling Your Data, But Not How You Think,” Gizmodo.com. Apr 14, 2017.

“Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act,” Wikipedia. Apr 3, 2018.

“H.R.1313 – Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act,” Congress.gov. Dec 11, 2017.

Brown K.V., “Why We Should All Be Worried About Congress Eroding Protections Against Genetic Discrimination,” Gizmodo.com. Mar 16, 2017.


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Are You a Victim of Unnecessary Surgery? It’s More Common than You Think

The old adage says, “To a man with a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.” It’s an amusing observation… until you apply it to surgery.

The latest evidence suggests surgeons see the world very much like that man with the hammer. And the result has been millions of pointless surgeries.

The latest example reveals doctors perform over 200,000 pointless surgeries every year. For just one problem. And that’s in the U.S. alone. Worldwide, the number is much higher.

And that’s just one example. Before you submit to any surgery, here’s what you need to know…

The Shoulder Pain Cure That Isn’t

“Shoulder impingement syndrome” is a common problem. It’s often called “thrower’s shoulder” or “swimmer’s shoulder.” It’s caused by inflammation of the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff.

The standard treatment is “keyhole” surgery. This is a minimally invasive surgery to “decompress” the inflammation.

In the U.S. alone, doctors do more than 210,000 of these procedures every year. And new research from Finland shows they’re pretty much pointless.

This isn’t the first study to show these procedures don’t work. Earlier studies found the procedure doesn’t work any better than “placebo surgery.” In spite of that, the number of these surgeries performed has skyrocketed.

Think about that for a moment: Multiple studies show this procedure doesn’t offer real relief. And doctors keep cutting anyway.

The Finnish study followed 189 patients for two years. Patients who had fake surgery got just as much relief as those who went through the real thing.

Basically, this suggests you could just cut a patient’s skin, stitch it up, and they’d get just as much benefit as if you’d sliced and diced inside their shoulder.

And here’s the awful part: In spite of multiple studies showing this procedure doesn’t work, doctors still perform it routinely.

In spite of the fact physiotherapy works as well.

But at far less cost. And at no profit to surgeons. An anomaly? Hardly.

Pointless Heart Surgeries Abound

The New York Times reports the use of stents may be no more than an example of the placebo effect.

“The placebo effect” is the change in health status caused by an inert change. For example, the use of a sugar pill. Or – as in the study above – faux surgery.

In a 2007 study, involving nearly 2,300 patients with narrowed arteries, installing stents provided no more benefit than non-surgical therapy. There was virtually no difference in the results.

After years of arguments – during which cardiologists defended the use of stents – another trial took place.

The results? Patients merely sedated for 15 minutes performed just as well as those who’d had stents implanted. Which backed up the results of several studies completed in the interim.

Including a 2012 review that compared 8 heart studies. In this study, stents offered no benefit beyond other therapies.

This study wasn’t an outlier, either.

Unnecessary Knee Surgery

A 2014 New York Times (NYT) article looked at treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

The article said minimally invasive surgery was common at the turn of the century. But, in 2002, a study of 180 patients showed this approach is no more effective than placebo surgery.

In this study, some patients had an incision made to look like they’d had surgery. But this “sham” surgery was just as effective as the actual surgery.

That year, this pointless surgery generated $3 billion in revenue. And doctors continued to perform the procedure.

The NYT also reports the number of arthroscopic surgeries for meniscus (cartilage) tears grew as surgeries for knee OA began to drop.

Doctors performed 700,000 of these surgeries – worth $4 billion – in the U.S. in the mid-2000s. But by 2012, these surgeries were also shown to be no more effective than a placebo.

The NYT article also pointed to a 2014 review showing pointless surgeries were remarkably common. Of the 53 studies researchers reviewed, more than half revealed no benefit from the actual surgery.

When Surgery Is Involved, Let the Buyer Beware

Obviously, not all surgery is unnecessary. In fact, many surgeries save lives.

On the other hand, many surgeries appear to be more about making money than providing genuine relief.

And it’s those cases we should look at.  The Guardian notes studies that question knee surgeries… spine procedures… gallstone and angina procedures… and more.

“More and more, it’s looking like a lot of surgeries have no benefit,” says Ian Harris, a professor of surgery at the University of New South Wales. “And as long as we keep doing them anyway – risk to patients aside – it just means that we are wasting a hell of a lot of money, and that doesn’t even touch the surgeries that we haven’t studied yet.”

Your bottom line? Don’t accept the need for surgery just because a doctor says so. If your condition allows, get a second – or even third – opinion.

In many cases, you may find surgery is just a fancy way to separate you from your wallet.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Lehtinen, P., “Finnish study shows that most common shoulder operation is no more be no more beneficial than placebo surgery,” University of Helsinki. Jul 19, 2018.

Carroll, A.E., “Heart Stents Are Useless for Most Stable Patients. They’re Still Widely Used,” New York Times. Feb 12, 2018.

Carroll, A.E., “The Placebo Effect Doesn’t Apply Just to Pills,” New York Times. Oct 6, 2014.

Mohammadi, D., “When surgery is just a stitch-up,” The Guardian. Aug 20, 2017.


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Our Drug Delivery System Is Broken From Start to Finish

You don’t often hear the mainstream claiming the U.S. has the best healthcare system anymore. Because we don’t. By almost all measures, U.S. healthcare has fallen far behind the rest of the developed world.

In fact, we only lead the world in one area of healthcare: spending. And nowhere does the gap between spending and performance stand out more than in our “drug delivery system.”

In simple terms, the U.S. has a drug problem, and opioids play just a tiny part. Not only does this put you in danger… it’s draining your wallet.

Here’s what Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know.

The Drug Companies Have a Shoot First, Ask Questions Later Attitude

Millions of Americans take blood thinners. There’s evidence they may help prevent stroke or second heart attacks. Aspirin and warfarin are probably the two best known. But their patents expired decades ago. So everyone under the sun can make a generic version.

To keep profits up, drug companies are under constant pressure to come up with new drugs to patent. That’s where the real money is. Sometimes these new drugs are better than older ones, but often they’re not.

As long as they’re reasonably effective, Big Pharma will push the new drugs to improve their profits.

This pressure to perform leads to all sorts of problems. Like cherry-picking the studies used to submit a drug for approval. And failing to publish less favorable studies.

Drug companies seem to favor a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude. Get the drug out in the market… and deal with any problems later. As long as the FDA will approve it, people will buy it.

As may be the case with two newer blood thinners.

FDA Approval Doesn’t Guarantee Effectiveness… or Safety

Back in late 2015, there was a news story that most folks overlooked. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug to reverse the effects of Pradaxa – one of a newer breed of blood thinners.

Pradaxa was approved by the FDA in 2010 to treat certain people at risk for stroke.

Four years later, Pradaxa’s maker agreed to a $650 million settlement. Because they were faced with 4,000 legal claims. Claims from people who hadn’t been warned that Pradaxa could cause uncontrolled bleeding.

In 2015, Praxbind – a drug that reverses Pradaxa’s effects was approved under the FDAs “fast track” approval program. Problem solved.

Then, in February 2016, news broke about another blood thinner. This time it was the drug Xarelto.

New research questioned a key study used to gain approval for Xarelto… which is used to treat the same stroke risk as Pradaxa.

It seems the Xarelto trial used equipment that had been recalled for inaccuracy in 2014. This could have invalidated the results of the trial. And Xarelto could have proven to be less safe than claimed.

Fortunately, a study published the following year found Xarelto was no less safe than warfarin. It appears we dodged a bullet on that one. But that didn’t make the risk any less real.

And the problem isn’t just with drug companies or the FDA. Every aspect of this issue seems to be broken. Even how doctors prescribe drugs can seem crazy.

Don’t Solve the Problem; Manage the Result

Imagine for a moment you’re a city manager. A water line serving the heart of downtown has ruptured, and many of your city’s most important businesses suddenly have little or no water.

What do you do? Do you direct the fire department to deliver water daily to every downtown business… from now until the problem solves itself? Or do you repair the damaged water main?

I think the answer’s pretty obvious. Yet doctors don’t seem to be taking this approach when it comes to the type II diabetes epidemic.

A report in the journal Obesity uncovered the insane truth. Doctors in the U.S. have no less than six anti-obesity drugs available. Yet they prescribe diabetes medications 15 times more often than anti-obesity drugs.

Here’s the thing: Obesity is a major cause of diabetes. Get Americans’ weight down, and the rate of diabetes will drop like a stone. Yet doctors prescribe anti-obesity drugs for only 2% of those who might benefit.

They’ve opted to have the fire department deliver water until the problem solves itself.

If that sounds crazy to you, it is. I’m not a big fan of anti-obesity drugs… but they’re a better option than a nation of diabetics.

And it just gets crazier.

How About a Side of “Oops!” With That Surgery?

A couple of years ago, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital did something bold. They “tattled” on their own. And we should listen, because Mass General is one of the premier healthcare centers in the U.S.

Doctors there followed 277 surgical procedures. Direct observation made this study stand out. Earlier studies relied on self-reported data. So it was no surprise those earlier studies found few errors.

But when a third party – the Mass General team – followed the surgeries, they discovered a disturbing trend. In half of these cases, patients were either given wrong drugs… or drugs that came with unwanted side effects.

In practical terms, that’s a 50% failure rate. And this was at one of our premier hospitals! Imagine what the rate may be at the many lesser institutions across America.

And here’s the shocker… Every drug given to a patient is supposedly checked by the ordering doctor, the hospital pharmacist, and the nurse who hands out the pills. With three checks, mistakes still happen.

None of the errors in this study led to a death. But still… patients suffered because of preventable errors.

What else can go wrong? Well…

You’re Paying through the Nose for This Mess

We’ve seen problems with drug companies… the FDA… doctors… and even hospitals. Where else could things go wrong?

How about Congress?

You see, your lawmakers, in their infinite wisdom, have hamstringed Medicare. By law, Medicare can’t negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma.

Yup. Your blessed representatives sold your health to the highest bidder. And that bidder was Big Pharma. You never had a chance.

That’s why your drugs cost far, far more than drugs in other countries. Countries like the United Kingdom (UK).

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) provides healthcare to more than 60 million people. And pays among the lowest drug prices in the developed world.

The purchasing power of 64 million people isn’t something Big Pharma can ignore. And the NHS has used that power to negotiate favorable prices for most drugs.

One of the NHS’s tricks is to rate the effectiveness of drugs. A high-cost drug that delivers fewer benefits may not even be approved for purchase at all. And that means the maker of that drug earns ZERO in the UK.

The system isn’t perfect, but most drugs cost a fraction of their U.S. price in the UK.

You’ll find a similar system – and similarly lower prices – in virtually every developed country outside the U.S.

So, what can you do about this mess?

Use the Power of Numbers

If there’s one thing your representatives in Washington fear more than Big Pharma, it’s losing their cushy jobs. And you can play this to your advantage.

According to government statistics, more than 55 million people are covered by Medicare. With another 71.6 million covered by the Medicaid program. That’s more than 126 million people – about 38% of our country’s population.

With that kind of bargaining power, Medicare and Medicaid could bring down drug prices sharply. But you’ll have to lean on your representatives.

If your senators or congressman think for one minute they’ll have to get a real job if they don’t abandon Big Pharma, they’ll jump ship in a heartbeat. And only you can convince them.

Finally, we need to demand that the FDA step back from its dependence on the very companies it’s supposed to regulate.

Right now, the FDA depends on Big Pharma for a significant portion of its funding. And that makes for too cozy a relationship. The drug companies simply have too much influence.

America has a drug problem. And it’s only going to get worse… unless we step in to stop it. Fortunately, that’s pretty easy.

Go to https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials to find out how to contact your senators and representative in the House. Then send a sharply worded e-mail. Or call.

Now is the perfect time to demand action… because it’s an election year. And an awful lot of lawmakers are running scared. You may never have a better opportunity to make your drugs cheaper and safer.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


“FDA approves drug to reverse blood thinner Pradaxa,” KDWN.com. Oct 18, 2015.

“Investigation casts doubt over trial used to support top-selling anti-clotting drug,” ScienceDaily. Feb 4, 2016.

Russo-Alvarez, G., et al, “Thromboembolic and Major Bleeding Events With Rivaroxaban Versus Warfarin Use in a Real-World Setting,” Annals of Pharmacotherapy. 2018; 52(1): 19-25.

“Doctors prescribe diabetes treatment medications 15 times more than obesity drugs,” ScienceDaily. Aug 29, 2016.

Navarro, A., “Medication Errors, Unwanted Drug Side Effects Seen In Half Of Surgeries,” TechTimes. Oct 26, 2015.

Quinn, A., “Why Drugs Cost Less in the U.K. Than in the U.S.,” Bloomberg Businessweek. Sep 4, 2017.


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted in Drugs

5 Brain-Boosting Breakthroughs

Your grandparents probably knew “fish is brain food.” But not much else about sharpening your brain. Even doctors used to believe mental decline was inevitable with age. “It’s all part of growing older,” they told us.

Now we know better. Research uncovers new brain-boosting secrets all the time. If the media can make a sensational headline from these breakthroughs, then you may hear about them. But many others get very little attention.

Today, I’ll share five recent brain breakthroughs you may not have heard about.

#1 – A simple way to slow brain shrinkage.

Studies show most people suffer from “brain shrinkage” as they get older. This shrinkage is linked to memory problems and a loss of cognitive function. But what if you could block brain loss?

Research from Cambridge University suggests you can.

Scientists there looked at 527 adults aged 20 to 87. They discovered that being overweight or obese in middle age was linked to greater loss of brain matter. In fact, in the worst cases, obesity aged adult’s brains by an extra 10 years.

This suggests dropping excess weight in middle age may help you stay sharper longer.

#2 – A brain-boosting workout

German doctors looked at the effect of exercise on a group of retirees’ brains. They discovered riding an exercise bike for 30 minutes just 3 times a week made a big difference.

First, they compared levels of the chemical choline in the brains of their volunteers. Then half the volunteers took up the cycling regimen for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, choline levels in the cyclers stabilized at lower levels than in the non-cyclers.

This is important, because the breakdown of brain cells raises choline levels. Just cycling three times a week appeared to slow the age-related breakdown of brain cells.

And here’s even more good news…

#3 – Everyday Activities Preserve Gray Matter

A team at Rush University published a groundbreaking study in February. To begin with, the volunteers in this study were 81 on average. That’s 10 years older than most similar studies.

And the results weren’t based on reported activity levels. The Rush team used a device called an accelerometer to measure actual activity levels. So their results are much more precise.

What did they find? Everyday activities help preserve brain matter. Activities like walking the dog, gardening, or doing housework.

The Rush team showed – even at 80 – staying active can help keep you sharper. And you don’t have to be a marathoner to do it.

Just shut off the TV, get out of your chair, and move.

On the other side of the coin…

#4 – Don’t Ignore the Blues

Australian scientists compared 7,199 healthy adults to 1,728 who suffered from depression. They found seriously depressed adults showed greater shrinkage in the hippocampus. That’s an area of the brain closely linked to memory and learning.

The study also found that dealing with major depression early on could ease the shrinkage problem.

While drugs are often used to treat depression, they’re not necessarily the only way to ease a recurring case of the blues. For example, physical activity has been shown to combat depression.

And, as we already noted, it also helps preserve brain matter.

Finally, Let’s see how to eat your way to a bigger brain.

#5 – Food Choices Can Shrink Your Brain

As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, realized this some 23 centuries ago. “Let food be your medicine,” he wrote, “and medicine be your food.”

When it comes to your brain, that’s especially good advice.

Australian scientists compared people’s diets to the size of their brains’ memory centers. What they found was bad news for most Americans.

Because junk food leads to a smaller hippocampus – a key center of learning and memory. On the other hand, nutrient-dense foods – like fruits and vegetables – lead to a bigger hippocampus.

In other words, the “Standard American Diet” is bad for your brain. But diets like the Mediterranean Diet could help you hold on to more brain cells – and keep you sharper.

Swap that burger and fries for sole and asparagus, and you just may remember that meal a whole lot longer.

So What’s the Take-Away Here?

It’s all good news. Because these studies say you can have a remarkable amount of control over your mental future.

How you eat… how active you are… and how well you control your weight could help you control how sharp you are 10, 20, or 30 years from now.

And, as the Rush University study showed, it’s never too late to get started. You just have to start…

  • Move more. Create a garden in your front yard. Take a daily after-dinner stroll. Volunteer.
  • Don’t let depression fester. Deal with the blues as soon as you feel them. Talk to your doctor. Get moving. Plan healthier meals. These easy steps can all help.
  • Make healthier food choices. Have seconds on vegetables instead of starches. Swap out sugary desserts in favor of fruit. Eat oily fish twice a week.

Nobody can remove all their risk of mental decline. But these studies show you have a lot of control. And why wouldn’t you want to stay mentally sharp as long as you can?

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Ronan, L., et al, “Obesity associated with increased brain age from midlife,” Neurobiol Aging. Nov 2016; 47: 63-70.

Matura, S., et al, “Effects of aerobic exercise on brain metabolism and grey matter volume in older adults,” Transl Psychiatry. Jul 2017; 7(7): e1172.

“Everyday Activities Associated With More Gray Matter in Brains of Older Adults,” Rush University. Feb 13, 2018.


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More Than 1 in 3 Americans at Risk of Medically Induced Depression

Next time you’re in a group of people, look at the person to your right. Then look at the person on your left. Chances are at least one of you is at risk of depression. Depression caused by prescription drugs you’re taking.

That’s the conclusion of a major new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Over 37% of American adults – 37.2%, to be exact – are currently taking at least one drug that may cause depression.

Of course, not everyone at risk will suffer from medically induced depression. But you should know the risk, because there’s a good chance the medical mainstream won’t warn you.

And don’t think, “It can’t be me. I don’t take any of those exotic drugs.” Because depression is a serious risk for people taking some of today’s most commonly prescribed drugs.

Here’s what you need to know.

Millions at Risk… Many Unaware

Let’s be honest here. If you’re taking a prescription drug, did you really read the whole insert that came with the bottle? You know, that tiny rectangle of paper that opens into a large sheet covered with tiny – almost invisible – type.

Your doctor can’t memorize all that information for every drug. So she may have made some comments – usually along the lines of take it with food… avoid alcohol… or something along those lines.

The pharmacy tech (When was the last time you dealt with an actual pharmacist?) may have asked you to sign something that says they explained the drug. Or, at least, they tried to. But most people seem to decline the long explanations.

Besides, you trust your doctor. She’d never prescribe something that might cause problems. Especially for a common problem like heartburn, high blood pressure, or the like.

All that helps explain why so many people at risk often don’t realize the position they’re in.

The study followed a total of 26,192 adults in five 2-year cycles of a national health survey.

Taking one of these medications raised the risk of depression. But taking three – and 6.9% in the survey did – more than tripled the risk.

Why You Should Be Concerned

Of course, the big question is, “Am I at risk?”

If you take any prescription drug, you should probably assume the answer is, “Yes,” until you know otherwise. Because you could find yourself in the position of taking yet another drug – an anti-depressant – to fight the effects of a drug you’re currently changing.

That’s good news for Big Pharma, who’ll profit off the side effects of their products. But not good news for you. Because the side effects of anti-depressants can be really serious.

So, to get you started, here are just a few classes the drugs that may trigger depression…

  • Statins – Statins are used to lower cholesterol levels. But one of cholesterol’s jobs is to help regulate release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Lowering cholesterol may interfere with this function, resulting in depression. Other cholesterol-lowering drugs may also have the same effect.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors – PPIs are often prescribed to fight acid reflux or persistent heartburn. They work by reducing levels of stomach acid. Among their many side effects is a higher risk of depression… though doctors haven’t yet figured out why.
  • Anti-Anxiety Drugs and Sleep Aids – The class of hypnotics called benzodiazepines are known to raise the risk of depression. If your body lacks enough of the enzyme that metabolizes these drugs, the result can be depression. Older adults are especially at risk.
  • Beta-Blockers – These common drugs help lower high blood pressure. While doctors still don’t understand exactly why, one of the three most common side effects is depression.
  • Corticosteroids – These powerful anti-inflammatories may lower your levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. In some people, these steroid drugs may trigger depression.

According to some sources, over 200 drugs are linked to a higher risk of depression. As good as your doctor may be, you can’t expect her – or him – to memorize the side effects of all these drugs. That’s why…

Your best defense is to take the time to read at least the “side effects” portion of those little rectangles of paper that come with your prescription. And let the pharmacy tech go through their spiel when you pick up a prescription.

If you’re not happy with the list of side effects, don’t be afraid to call your doctor’s office and ask for a different prescription. After all, you’re the one at risk here. And if you don’t look out for yourself, who will?

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Qato, D.M., et al, “Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States,” JAMA. 2018; 319(22): 2289-2298.

Gander, K., “Depression Is a Potential Side Effect of Over 200 Common Prescription Drugs, Scientists Warn,” Newsweek. Jun 13, 2018.

Neel, A.B., “10 Types of Medications That Can Make You Feel Depressed,” AARP.com.


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Your Tap Water Probably Isn’t as Safe as You Think

It’s an article of faith here in the U.S. We have some of the cleanest tap water in the world.

If you have your own well, it’s up to you to have the water tested regularly. But if you’re part of a municipal system, your local water authority treats the water to ensure clean, safe water for you and your family.

Except, as the fiasco in Flint, MI showed us, that’s not always true. Not even close to true. Tap water contamination is one of the great hidden health issues of our generation. And the problem is far worse than you’d imagine.

Flint Was Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Flint was in deep financial trouble, and the city was switched to a cheaper source of drinking water – one that used old lead pipes. The result was an alarming rise in the number of children poisoned by lead.

In adults, lead poisoning can lead to reproductive problems, high blood pressure, memory and cognitive issues, moodiness, and more.

Children – especially those under 6 – are more sensitive to lead. They can experience cognitive issues, fatigue and weight loss, digestive problems, anger, seizures, and even death.

Thousands of children in Flint showed high levels of lead. Their drinking water was slowly but surely killing them. After a public outcry, the water source was changed. But for many children, it was too late.

In the wake of this disaster, Scientific American reports almost 3,000 areas in the U.S. have tap water levels of lead double Flint’s at its worst. And children in 1,100 of these areas are four times more likely to have high levels of lead in their blood.

Plus, Britain’s Guardian newspaper found at least 33 U.S. cities had “cheats” in place to lowball lead levels in tap water. These cheats ranged from testing methods that yielded low lead levels… to simply warning water departments to give themselves extra time to replace samples with “better” ones.

If it were just lead, America would have a drinking water crisis. But various studies show high levels of prescription drugs, dangerous bacteria, and a multitude of chemicals in our drinking water.

We can’t cover them all, but here’s one that may just shock you.

Disinfected Tap Water Could Make You Sick

All across America, cities add chlorine to tap water to kill dangerous bacteria. Chlorine is no bargain, as I’ve reported before. It’s unhealthy for your skin… and to drink.

But adding chlorine and other disinfectants to water does something more. It generates a class of chemicals called “disinfection byproducts” (DBPs). So far, more than 600 of these DBPs have been identified.

Although we don’t know which one(s) are involved, DBPs are known to raise your risk of bladder cancer. And they may have other toxic effects.

For example, haloacetaldehydes – HALs – are among the most common DBPs. And studies show they’re cytotoxic. That is, they kill living cells. So chlorine and other disinfectants are a balancing act. Your local water authority wants to add enough to kill bacteria and algae… but not enough to kill you.

Your best defense against these problems? A water filtration system. But choosing a system is more easily said than done.

Finding the Right Water Filter for You

There are several types of home water filter. For example, ceramic filters keep “particulate matter” out of your drinking water. That is, they filter out sediment. But not drugs, chemicals, and other contaminants.

Before you can choose a filter system, you need to know what’s in your water. Here’s where there’s good news.

Municipal water systems publish an annual analysis of the water they provide. This analysis shows which contaminants are found in your water and at what levels. They don’t cover all contaminants… but give you a good idea of how healthy your water is.

Once you know what your concerns are, you can select the most appropriate filter system.

UV and ozone filters kill bacteria and other tiny organisms in your water. If this is your main concern, one of these systems may do the trick.

Distillation filters use heat to turn water to steam and then condense it back again. These systems remove many contaminants, but can’t eliminate chlorine and many other chemicals from your water.

Reverse Osmosis systems are very popular. They remove some contaminants charcoal filters can’t… but leave others charcoal removes. Plus, they’re expensive to operate.

Activated charcoal (carbon) filters remove chlorine and many other chemicals. But the cheapest don’t do much more than filter chlorine and improve taste. Some makers offer multi-stage charcoal filters – or several grades of cartridge – to remove more contaminants.

If you choose a charcoal filter, be sure to change the cartridge at least as often as the maker recommends. Over time, the charcoal “wears out,” and loses its ability to filter.

As the aftermath of the Flint fiasco proves, you can’t always rely on your government to protect you. Besides, why take chances with your health? Quality in-line filter systems can cost as little as $50.00 with self-installation.

That’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Pell, M.B. and Schneyer, J., “Thousands of U.S. Areas Afflicted with Lead Poisoning beyond Flint’s,” Scientific American. (Undated)

Milman, O. and Glenza, J., “At least 33 US cities used water testing ‘cheats’ over lead concerns,” The Guardian. Jun 2, 2016.

Li, X.F. and Mitch, W.A., “Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) and Human Health Effects: Multidisciplinary Challenges and Opportunities,” Environ. Sci. Technol. 2018; 52 (4): 1681–1689.

Jeong, C.H., et al, “Occurrence and Comparative Toxicity of Haloacetaldehyde Disinfection Byproducts in Drinking Water,” Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015; 49 (23): 13749–13759.


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Are You One of the Millions Taking These Drugs You Don’t Need?

Once upon a time, drug companies competed to find cures. The first across the line with a cure for some dreaded illness or other cashed in big time. But then greed got in the way.

Why cure problems when there’s so much money to be made “managing” them? More and more R&D money headed into the “disease management” business.

Today, there’s precious little research into a new – and much-needed – class of antibiotics. But Big Pharma devotes billions to finding the next drug to manage high blood pressure… high cholesterol… and more.

But even the riches from these cash cows aren’t enough for Big Pharma. So, over the last decade or so, we’ve seen the number of people who “need” to take drugs swell. Not because more people are unhealthy, but because the definition of “unhealthy” keeps changing.

Take high cholesterol, for example. Today’s definition of what’s high wouldn’t have made your grandfather’s doctor blink. As I’ve mentioned before, they keep lowering the bar. And lowering. And lowering.

Each time the mainstream’s definition of high got lower, millions more adults “needed” to start taking statin drugs. And Big Pharma’s cash flow grew.

Then in 2013, they changed the game entirely. At your expense, of course.

When the Numbers Don’t Work, Change the Numbers

No matter how much they lower the cholesterol standards, they can’t escape two truths.

First, cholesterol isn’t the best indicator of heart risk. Nearly three-quarters of heart attack patients in one large study had “healthy” cholesterol numbers.

Second, you need cholesterol to survive. Among other things, it ensures the integrity of your cell walls.

Finally, in 2013, the mainstream caught up with their own futile pursuit. Cholesterol by itself, they told us, wasn’t enough. Instead, we should base the need for statins – and other measures – on PCEs.

PCEs are “Pooled Cohort Equations.” These are calculations based on several heart risk factors. This sounds good. And it’s probably better than drawing a line in the sand as with cholesterol numbers. But it’s still not great.

To begin with, you probably understood cholesterol numbers. Because they were just simple, straightforward numbers. Total cholesterol over 200 was bad.

PCEs require a computer to calculate. And following all the factors that go into your risk level can be confusing. Which is great for Big Pharma, because now you don’t know enough to argue.

And that’s right where they want you.

There’s something else you should know about PCEs, too. They work out to a generous gift to the drug industry.

Using Old Data to Make New Decisions

In 2016, the journal Circulation printed an assessment of these PCEs after 3 years of careful observation.

The authors found nine evaluations of the PCEs that showed they substantially overestimate heart risk. In other words, they recommend people who don’t need drugs start taking drugs.

According to new research from Stanford University, more than 11 million people may be taking heart drugs they don’t need. Largely because the PCEs are based on data that’s old.

How old? One major study used in the calculations goes all the way back to 1968. Today, the people in that study would be 100 – 132 years old. And that’s a problem.

Our lifestyles – diet, smoking, exercise, etc. – have changed radically since then. And so have risk factors. Even mainstream sources suggest these PCEs may overestimate your risk by up to 20%.

Your best option remains cutting your risk where you can. Eat a balanced diet, stay active, drop excess weight, and don’t smoke. It’s boring advice, but it’s as close as you can get to zero heart risk. And a whole lot cheaper than taking drugs you may not need.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Champeau, R., “Most heart attack patients’ cholesterol levels did not indicate cardiac risk,” UCLA Newsroom. Jan 12, 2009.

Ridker, P.M. and Cook, N.R., “The Pooled Cohort Equations 3 Years On,” Circulation. 2016; 134: 1789-1791.

“Millions could have incorrect statin, aspirin and blood pressure prescriptions,” Science Daily. Jun 4, 2018.


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Boy, 2, Beats Cancer…TWICE

He was 2 years old and dying of terminal brain cancer.

His name is Cashy.

And everyday, the chemo that was being pumped into his tiny veins to fight the cancer was causing his body to seize in violent spasms.

Doctors were doing everything they could to save him, but nothing was working.

Cashy was slipping away. His parents were at their wits end, desperate for ANYTHING that could help save their son.

Traditional medicine and pharmaceuticals failed Cashy and he needed an alternative treatment…FAST.

His parents scrambled frantically to find an answer.

They discovered that a natural plant extract…cannabis sativa…could help alleviate the boy’s pain and suffering.

But when Cashy’s parents suggested using cannabis to the doctor, he was against it.

See, cannabis is illegal in hospitals and medical facilities around the country.

But for Cashy’s parents, the choice was clear.

They saw for themselves the overwhelming case study evidence on the amazing effectiveness of cannabis.

With renewed hope, they did what any parent would do to save their dying son.

Because of cannabis, Cashy beat cancer TWICE.

But local law authorities made it practically impossible to procure cannabis oil to treat their son at home. He needed it to SURVIVE.

Officers raided Cashy’s home, taking away the only thing that was keeping him alive and pain free.

No one should have to suffer like Cashy.

No one should have to endure what Cashy’s parents went through.

No one.

Not you. Not your family. Not a loved one.

Especially when there’s an easy, simple, and readily available solution.

The “evils of cannabis” stigma associated with cannabis has run its course.

No one should be denied access to get the treatment they need.

Take a moment to Watch this Short Video to learn more about Cashy’s story and how you use use this sacred plant to help you and your loved ones.

It could very well change the quality of your life or the life of those you care about most.

Isn’t it time to end the suffering?

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


PS:  End YOUR suffering. End the suffering of a loved one.  Register Now to watch the all new Season 2 Docuseries… “The Sacred Plant: Healing Secrets Examined”


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Avoid the Risks of a Desk Job

Once upon a time, most Americans were farmers. They worked a plot of land, raised their own livestock, and made much of what they had by hand. Problems like obesity and heart disease were far less common than today.

Over time, technology advanced, farm output grew, and people moved to cities. More and more people found themselves behind a desk. Today, a small number of farmers raise all the food for a nation of stockbrokers, retail clerks, and high tech employees. A record number of us spend our days at a desk.

Meanwhile, obesity is epidemic, heart disease is a constant threat, and our level of fitness is headed down the tubes.

Studies show this inactivity is cutting years from our lives. Now science is looking at how we can reverse this trend.

And we’re finding answers.

A Desk Job Can Be the Death of You

Doctors have known for a long time that “desk jockeys” are more likely to suffer from a number of health issues… as well as die early. But we didn’t know if sitting at a desk all day was the cause of these health issues.

That question was pretty much put to rest in 2016 by an article in the journal BMC Public Health. And Australian-led team dug up studies on sedentary jobs and health. They found 8 systematic reviews on all-cause mortality and a sedentary lifestyle.

After carefully parsing the reviews, they found ample evidence that inactivity leads to a higher risk of all-cause mortality. In simple terms, if you spend your day at a desk, you run a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and other major health issues.

Not that people want to spend their day glued to a desk. In fact, a study from November 2017 found just the opposite.

Most desk jockeys would rather cut out a third of their sitting time. And almost double the time they spend walking on the job. Workers even said they’d prefer to almost double the time they spend working at “physically demanding tasks.”

But how do you meet the physical needs of employees… and the work demands of employers? The answer may be simpler than you think.

Can You Really Work Out at Your Desk? Apparently, You Can.

With all the talk about standing desks – and with the evidence they may not be much better than sitting – is there really an easy way to make everyone happy?

Researchers at East Carolina University may have found a quick and easy solution.

Back in 2011, this team tested under-desk pedaling devices. You’ve probably seen them: A simple set of pedals on a small stand that fits under your desk. Basic models just let you pedal while you sit. More advanced units have variable resistance and other features.

The East Carolina scientists tested 18 volunteers who spent a whopping 83% of their time sitting at a desk. Over four weeks, they averaged 23.4 minutes of pedaling time daily. All while working at their desks.

The most ambitious in the group burned an extra 500 calories – and pedaled the equivalent of 13.5 miles – on their best days.

The devices were a hit with the volunteers and didn’t interfere with their workday. At the time, the exercise machines cost about $129 each. So we’re talking about a higher end model. The researchers also spent $49 per person on software to monitor their progress.

But the experiment worked. The volunteers improved their overall fitness, reduced sedentary time, and burned extra calories. And it didn’t take away from work time.

But Is This Idea Practical?

Employers are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy “standing desks.” So investing a couple of hundred bucks for an even healthier alternative doesn’t seem out of the question.

Quality units with magnetic resistance are fairly quiet and start at under $100. These better units usually come with secure non-skid feet for safety and adjustable tension.

Prices run all the way up to about $500 for a stand-alone unit with a built-in desktop. These units have a smaller footprint than a traditional desk, so may be ideal for anyone working at home.

Either way, pedaling at a moderate pace for just 10 minutes out of each hour delivers 80 minutes of daily exercise. Without interfering with your workday. Done Monday through Friday, that totals 400 minutes of activity. That’s more than twice the weekly minimum recommended for maintaining good health.

And here’s the kicker… A brand new study published in the journal BMC Medicine looked at 391,089 workers. The authors found all sedentary workers don’t suffer the same risks.

If you’re fit, the effects of a sedentary job are far less than if you’re not. So, investing in a simple $100 device may just be the easiest way to cut your risk of obesity, heart problems, cancer, and more.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Biddle, S.J.H., et al, “Too much sitting and all-cause mortality: is there a causal link?” BMC Public Health. 2016; 16: 635.

“Employees want to sit down less and walk more during work days,” BioMed Central. 2017.

Carr, L.J., et al, “Feasibility of a portable pedal exercise machine for reducing sedentary time in the workplace,” Br J Sports Med. May 2012; 46(6): 430-435.

Hendrick, B., “Sedentary Job? Try Pedaling at Your Desk,” WebMD. Feb 14, 2011.

“Time spent sitting at a screen matters less if you are fit and strong,” BioMed Central. May 23, 2018.


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Is This the Answer to Alzheimer’s?

I probably don’t need to tell you how frightening a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be. Almost everyone knows someone suffering with this degenerative disease.

Alzheimer’s researchers have more questions than answers. We’re not sure exactly what causes it… whether certain conditions linked to the disease are symptoms or our bodies’ defenses… and there’s no cure.

The latest breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research may finally offer real hope to sufferers. But it’s not some fancy new drug. It’s not an ancient secret unearthed from the past. And doctors in Europe have been prescribing it for years… for a disease closely linked to Alzheimer’s risk.

This breakthrough is derived from vitamin B1. It’s known as benfotiamine (BFT).

The Diabetes “Un-Drug” That Works Better Than Drugs

Diabetes drugs can do a good job controlling blood sugar. But most don’t fight Type II diabetes’ complications. The nerve damage, blindness, circulation problems, etc. BFT does both.

Unlike its parent, thiamine, BFT is fat-soluble. So where vitamin B1 is washed out of your system quickly, BFT isn’t. And it passes into cells more easily.

Studies show BFT…

  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory in the central nervous system
  • Boosts antioxidant activity
  • Blocks a common form of diabetic damage to blood vessels

Depending on your definition, BFT is or isn’t a drug. It’s derived from vitamin B1, which is natural. But BFT itself is technically synthetic. In the U.S., BFT is marketed as a dietary supplement. And it’s remarkably inexpensive.

Which is great news, because what makes BFT a good choice for Type II diabetes also makes it a potent defense against Alzheimer’s disease.

We don’t have the full story yet, but it’s pretty clear there’s a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

In 2013, Epidemiologic Reviews published an analysis of 15 studies looking at diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Fourteen of those studies found a link between the two diseases. Nine found a significant link.

The studies found Type II diabetes raised the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 245%. The average risk, though, came out at 157%. That’s still a big jump… and a good reason to get your blood sugar under control.

BFT seems to be an excellent choice to do just that. Plus, cut your risk of Alzheimer’s.

How well does BFT work? I’m glad you asked.

Powerful Defenses Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Studies on BFT range from test-tube research to animal studies to human trials. Let’s look at a few of them in that order…

  • Neuroscience Bulletin published a Chinese study that found BFT helps block formation of Beta-amyloid plaques – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
  • In a 2010 model of Alzheimer’s disease, 8 weeks of BFT treatment improved memory and lowered levels of Alzheimer’s-linked Beta-amyloid plaques and tau protein “tangles.”
  • A paper presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience backed these findings. BFT eased cognitive decline, slowed build-up of plaques and tau tangles, and blocked inflammation and free radical damage.
  • A 2014 international study found animals treated with BFT for just two weeks showed better memory, learning ability, and mood.

Human studies are just getting under way. But we have results from one small study. And the results are promising.

Chinese doctors tested BFT on 5 Alzheimer’s patients for 18 months. They found BFT slowed cognitive decline and disease progression. Including in one patient who took no other medications.

Finally, here’s the bottom line…

Should You Take Benfotiamine?

If you’re at risk of Type II diabetes and/or Alzheimer’s disease, taking BFT may make sense. Moderate doses appear to be safe, and its effects are proven in Type II diabetes.

The evidence is less clear for Alzheimer’s disease. But we know this…

  • Type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease appear to be closely linked
  • Type II diabetes raises your risk for Alzheimer’s – by an average 157%
  • Studies so far suggest BFT may ease key effects of Alzheimer’s

Of course, you should talk to your doctor. But keep in mind most doctors have been trained to focus on drugs and downplay supplements. So you may want to focus on “what is the potential harm?” rather than “will it help?”

Also, if you’re taking any drugs, check with your pharmacist to ensure BFT won’t interfere with their activity. Chances are slim – since it’s a form of a common vitamin – but better safe than sorry.

We still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But we may now have the next best thing. And – until there is a cure – that’s about as good as news can get.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Kiefer, D., “Benfotiamine,” Life Extension Magazine. Jan 2007.

Bozic, I., et al, “Benfotiamine Attenuates Inflammatory Response in LPS Stimulated BV-2 Microglia,” PLOSOne. Feb 19, 2015; 10(2): e0118372.

Harisa, G.I., “Benfotiamine Enhances Antioxidant Defenses and Protects against Cisplatin‐Induced DNA Damage in Nephrotoxic Rats,” Aug 2013; 27(8): 398-405.

Stirban, A., et al, “Benfotiamine Prevents Macro- and Microvascular Endothelial Dysfunction and Oxidative Stress…” Diabetes Care. Sep 2006; 29(9): 2064-2071.

Vagelatos, N.T. and Eslick, G.D., “Type 2 Diabetes as a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease…” Epidemiologic Reviews. Jan 2013; 35(1): 152-160.

Sun, X.J., et al, “Benfotiamine prevents increased β- amyloid production in HEK cells induced by high glucose,” Neuroscience Bulletin. Oct 2012; 28(5): 561-566.

Tapias, V., et al, “Benfotiamine Treatment Activates Nrf2/ARE Pathway and is Neuroprotective in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Tauopathy,” Society for Neuroscience. Nov 2017.

Markova, N., et al, “Thiamine and benfotiamine improve memory, decrease depressive-like behavior and reduce brain expression of GSK3 beta in mice,” 8th International Conference on Thiamine. May 2014.

Zhong, C., “Benfotiamine Improves Cognitive Ability of Alzheimer’s Patients…” Alzheier’s & Dementia. Jul 2016; 12(7): P429.


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