Ghost Writers Pushed Hormone Therapy in Medical Journals

I know. What a shocker. Newly revealed court documents show Wyeth pharmaceuticals paid a “medical communications” company to write papers supporting its hormone drug therapy.

The articles, published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005, emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that paid a medical communications firm to draft the papers, as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001.

But the seeming consensus fell apart in 2002 when a huge federal study on hormone therapy was stopped after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. A later study found that hormones increased the risk of dementia in older patients.

The ghostwritten papers were typically review articles, in which an author weighs a large body of medical research and offers a bottom-line judgment about how to treat a particular ailment. The articles appeared in 18 medical journals, including The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The International Journal of Cardiology.

Are you really that surprised? Honestly, I’ve always figured this was going on. Reminds me of all the flap surrounding Dr. Robert Jarvik—pioneer of the artificial heart—hocking Lipitor pills.

Via The New York Times.

Image credit: Dirty Bunny

Inadequate Vitamin D Linked to High Pain Killer Use

Not getting enough vitamin D might turn you into a pill popper. Findings in the journal Pain Medicine reveal patients taking narcotic pain medication with inadequate levels of vitamin D were taking much higher doses, nearly double that of individuals with sufficient vitamin D. For the study, experts examined the vitamin D levels of 267 chronic pain patients. Scientists are encouraged by the results because vitamin D is inexpensive, readily available and improve overall quality of life; via ScienceDaily.

If you don’t know by now, vitamin D is derived from the sun. Our bodies convert ultraviolet rays into vitamin D which acts as a hormone and tells our system to absorption of calcium and phosphorus and sufficient vitamin D has been shown to ward off depression in the winter and prostate cancer.

So get outside and get your vitamin D, or else! In the past low vitamin D has been associated with multiple sclerosis, increased incidences of C-sections and sudden cardiac death.

 

Image credit: South Park Studios

Pollution is Shrinking Man, Parts...

Males of all species, from fish to mammals, are being feminized and not by reruns of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. According to a new report by the environmental charity CHEMTrust, a variety of common chemicals and pesticides are shrinking male genitals and causing abnormalities in the animal kingdom, like hermaphrodite polar bears and male fish developing eggs in their testes.

Scientists worry this could jump to humans too! Heavily polluted communities in Canada, Russia and Italy are already giving birth to twice as many girls than boys. And in the U.S. and Japan, research indicates 250,000 babies who would have been boys were born as girls instead. Female hormones from contraceptive pills reentering water supplies could be one reason why; The Independent reports.

Via TreeHugger.