Medical News Update

Medical headlines - with a twist

Medical headlines – with a twist


Updated 6/8/2016

More Obesity

Two reports show that in spite of efforts to reduce obesity, 35% of all men and 40% of women as well as 17% of children are obese with nearly 6% defined as “morbidly obese. ”

Preventive campaigns have not made a dent into the obesity epidemic. In spite of increasing food labels, changes in restaurant menus, and total decrease in sugar intake obesity has continued to rise in the United States. It affects the poor and poorly educated the most, as well as minorities.

In spite of this less than 1% of those who are eligible for weight loss surgery, the only reliable treatment for morbid obesity, take advantage of the treatment. 

Expanded Medicaid Results in Fewer Collections

Those states that have expanded medicaid have fewer collections for debt.  Medical debt being overwhelming for many people, the expansion of medicaid has resulted in less debt overall, which is better for the economy.

Graphic Warnings led to more smokers trying to quit

Graphic Warnings, rather than just words, led to 53% more likely to quit cigarettes than just the words. I am wondering if we could put graphic warnings on foods if it would lead to better eating behavior?

Updated 6/3/2016

More Cancer Survivors

First some good news. The American Cancer Society reported that there are 15.5 million Americans who have a history of cancer that are living in the U.S. now, and expect that this number will jump to more than 20 million in a decade from now.  Oddly there are no long term cancer survivors that were treated with vegetables, alkaline therapy, or enemas. The most common male cancer survivors had prostate (3.3 million), colorectal (724,000), and melanoma (614,000). For females the most common survivors had breast (3.6 million), uterine (757,000), and colorectal (727,000).

Over half the survivors are 70 years and older and 56% have been diagnosed in the past ten years. The internet is providing forums for the support they  need among their peers. Long term risks of cancer survivors include secondary cancers, some from the previous treatments of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Those who were treated with alternative therapy did not have the risk of secondary cancers because they never survived their first cancer.

Stem cells restoring function in stroke patients

In the journal Stroke,  more evidence that stem cells injected in stroke patients may restore motor function.  These studies have been ongoing with mixed results for various neurologic diseases. The current study was with 18 patients and was considered a phase 1 or safety study.  Stem cell implants have been going on in other countries for some time and multiple famous celebrities have had them with minimal success. The use of stem cells in Parkinson’s disease has not had the same success. Sadly there are many clinics over-promising stem cell therapy as a cure for everything- this may be the first legitimate study. Stem cell therapy has not improved the ability of men or teenagers to pick up their socks from the floor, apparently this is a defect that cannot be overcome.

Migraines and heart disease in women

The British Medical Journal reports that women who suffer from migraines are at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. This is 50% higher than normal.  The cause is unknown, although the theories range from the medications used to treat headaches to the vessels undergoing damage from the underlying disease. So when your wife says she has a headache…


Most Insurers Will Continue to Offer ACA plans in the marketplace

An analysis fromCommonwealth Fund found that most health insurers are not contemplating pulling out of Affordable Care Act marketplaces; indeed, some are considering expanding in the sector. Data show only Humana “explicitly said it is considering exiting ObamaCare marketplaces in 2017.” The authors concluded that while “insurers are likely to make changes to the number of products they offer and the markets they participate in, earnings calls and filings show that most of the large, publicly traded insurers remain committed to the marketplaces.” There is no alternative, and this has allowed an expansion of insured in the country. Expansion has allowed many rural hospitals to remain open, and decreased personal bankruptcy secondary to healthcare costs. Still, universal healthcare and expansion of Medicare or Medicaid to allow others to buy in remains feared by insurance carriers who cannot compete with the government for price or services.  The least expensive local-public market has been with the Nuka System of Care from SouthCentral Foundation serving 65,000 Alaska Natives.


Updated 6/2/2016

Raw Cookie Dough is not kind to your behind – Recall of Flour

On May 31, 2016, General Mills recalled several sizes and varieties of Gold Medal Flour, Gold Medal Wondra Flour, and Signature Kitchens Flour due to possible E. coli contamination. The recalled flours were sold nationwide. Eating raw cookie dough, or even tasting, can provide enough E. coli to make a person ill.  This has lead many to wonder if we should chance it or not? Who doesn’t like this? What about Ben and Jerry’s.  Below is the list of recalls. Or you can go to the website for General Mills.


Brand/TypeSizeBetter if Used By DateUPC
Gold Medal Wondra Flour13.5 ounces25FEB2017 – 30MAR2017000-16000-18980
Gold Medal All Purpose Flour2 pounds25MAY2017KC – 03JUN2017KC000-16000-10710
Gold Medal All Purpose Flour5 pounds25MAY2017KC
27MAY2017KC – 31MAY2017KC
03JUN2017KC – 05JUN2017KC
11JUN2017KC – 14JUN2017KC
Gold Medal All Purpose Flour10 pounds02JUN2017KC
Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour2 pounds23AUG2016KC000-16000-11710
Gold Medal Unbleached Flour5 pounds25MAY2017KC
Gold Medal All Purpose Flour Banded Pack10 pounds03JUN2017KC
Signature Kitchens All Purpose Flour Enriched Bleached5 poundsMAY 28 2017000-21130-53001
Signature Kitchens Unbleached Flour All Purpose Enriched5 poundsBB MAY 27 2017000-21130-53022



FDA unveils voluntary guidelines for salt in processed, restaurant food

The  FDA proposed voluntary guidelines which will allow the food industry to reduce salt in processed and restaurant food. According to the New York Times, this was “a move long sought by consumer and public health advocates who said the standards could eventually help save thousands of American lives.” The FDA said, “While a majority of Americans reports watching or trying to reduce added salt in their diets, the deck has been stacked against them. … The majority of sodium intake comes from processed and prepared foods, not the saltshaker.”
The Washington Post (6/1, Mcginley) also reports the guidelines have been “long-awaited,” and adds that data show the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of salt daily. According to the FDA, if the industry adopts the guidelines, this “would help reduce that level to about 3,000 mg per day in two years, and 2,300 mg in a decade.”
The guidelines are voluntary, the goal “is to persuade companies and restaurants – many of which have already lowered sodium levels in their products – to take a more consistent approach.”
In a statement applauding the FDA’s guidelines, AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD, said “we believe that reducing overall sodium intake will help rein in high blood pressure and help prevent the devastating consequences of heart disease—currently affecting millions of Americans. But today’s action is only a first step. With most dietary sodium added by food processors and restaurants, even highly-motivated individuals find it difficult to reduce their sodium intake.”

The evidence that increased salt harms people is not as clear-cut as the recommendations would suggest. There correlation between increased salt intake and high blood pressure is not universal, nor is it based on any adequate studies involving people. A recent study showed “In older adults, food frequency questionnaire–assessed sodium intake was not associated with 10-year mortality, incident CVD, or incident HF, and consuming greater than 2300 mg/d of sodium was associated with nonsignificantly higher mortality in adjusted models“(Kalogeropoulos AP, Georgiopoulou VV, Murphy RA, et al. Dietary Sodium Content, Mortality, and Risk for Cardiovascular Events in Older Adults: The Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(3):410-419. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.6278.)

Teen Birthrate Falls to Record Low – CDC

The teen birth rate fell eight percent in 2015, another record low. This has been part of an ongoing trend: the teens giving  birth has been falling since 1991, down 46% in the last eight years.  Reasons cited include more consistent use of contraceptives, possible less teen sex (why don’t I believe this one), and peer influence.  The study does not include teen age pregnancy, just births. Do you think it is because the back-seats of Chevy’s just aren’t as comfortable?

CTE research moves forward despite lack of funds from NFL
In a not-so-shocking move the NFL attempted to restrict research about brain disease and concussions. The AP (6/1, Golen) reports, “researchers are moving ahead with efforts to develop a diagnostic test for chronic traumatic encephalopathy – even without the NFL’s help.” Researchers gathered on Wednesday at the Boston University School of Medicine “for the start of a seven-year, $16 million research project designed to find a test for CTE and identify its risk factors.” The DIAGNOSE CTE project “had originally been set to receive money that the NFL earmarked for concussion research” but the league’s “complaints about Boston University researchers led the National Institutes of Health to pay for it with other funds.”
The Boston Globe (6/2, Lazar) reports that the DIAGNOSE CTE study “will be the largest to date of living former football players and includes 240 men ages 45 to 74.” Researchers “say findings from the seven-year study, paid for by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, might be used to help veterans with brain injuries and others who suffer repetitive head traumas.” The researchers “pledge to share their data monthly with researchers around the world.”

The NFL should provide non-restricted research based on peer review of the research projects, not based upon their view of who would be friendly.

 Insurance prices increase less on ACA exchanges than off them, report shows

CNBC (6/2) says a report released by Commonwealth Fund revealed that “people who buy health insurance on government-run Obamacare exchanges tended to absorb significantly smaller price increases this year than customers who purchased plans sold outside of those marketplaces.” An estimated 21 million people will take on private insurance outside of an employer or government run program, the article mentions. 

Insurance companies continue to complain that they can only get twenty per cent profit per year – while their executives continue to be among the highest paid in the country. One has to feel sorry for them.  After all, we do try – providing health care for almost double what it costs per person in the rest of the western world.

NUKA Conference In Alaska

The Southcentral Foundations award winning Nuka system of health care will have a conference in Anchorage, Alaska starting June 20th. The Nuka system won the Malcolm Baldrige 2011 health award for its relationship-based medicine. This is the conference for health care leaders to learn the latest in developments.  Nuka system showed a decrease in hospital admissions for asthma in children, diabetes, and chronic pain. Further, the patient satisfaction is among the highest in the nation. For more information click here.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit

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