Saturday, January 2, 2010

Medical Recap of 2009

With over 670,000 published medical studies each year, doctors and patients have information overload. That's where EverythingHealth comes in. We keep up with the you don't have to read thousands of medical journals. It is as important to know what doesn't work, as it is to know what does. Save your money and save your body from unnecessary surgery. From 2009, here are a few bits of info you might find interesting:
  • Ginkgo Biloba- doesn't improve memory or cognitive function. A very well done study, published in JAMA, finally puts this supplement to rest. The herb is ineffective in slowing down decline in thinking associated with aging.
  • Vertebroplasty for fractures-doesn't work better than placebo. Painful vertebral fractures of the spine have been treated with injecting a "cement" into the fracture site. Two studies this year (NEJM, Spine) showed no benefit from the procedure.
  • TENS Unit for Back Pain-isn't worthwhile. The American Academy of Neurology's Therapeutics and Technology Subcommittee recently issued new guidelines, and among the pronouncements was the declaration that transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) is not advised as a treatment for chronic low back pain that has lasted for three or more months. After scouring the literature, they could not find evidence that TENS was effective.
  • Avoiding nuts, corn and popcorn if you have diverticulitis-is wrong advice. Patients with diverticulitis have been put on restrictive diets and advised to avoid nuts, corn and popcorn. There is no scientific evidence to support this. Nor do patients with diverticulitis need more screening colonsocopy that patients without.
  • Fasting for Lipid tests may not be needed. Patients are instructed to get their blood tests "fasting", meaning not eating for 12 hours. But new evidence published in JAMA shows that a fasting vs. non-fasting blood sample did not matter in assessing risk for vascular disease. It will probably be quite awhile before doctors stop telling patients to fast for the blood test. It has become like a reflex.
2010 will undoubtedly bring new breakthroughs in Science and health. Stay tuned for what is new, as well as what we should let go as new evidence is found.


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