Competition Vital for Success of Health Plan

"Choice, competition, reducing costs -- those are the things that I want to see accomplished in this health reform bill," President Barack Obama told talk-show host Michael Smerconish last week.

Choice and competition would be good. They would indeed reduce costs. If only the president meant it. Or understood it.

In a free market, a business that is complacent about costs learns that its prices are too high when it sees lower-cost competitors winning over its customers. The market -- actually, the consumer -- holds businesses accountable and keeps them honest. No "public option" is needed. MORE>>>>>>

Sunscreens May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s

Millions of Americans use sunscreen regularly to protect their skin against the sun’s damaging rays. But a chilling possibility that the same sunscreens used to protect skin from cancer could possibly cause Alzheimer’s disease is being investigated by scientists from the University of Ulster.

The European Union has awarded ?350,000 to two experts from the University of Ulster to explore possible links between sunscreens and the brain disease. They will look at whether nanoparticles present in the chemicals used in sunscreens can cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. MORE>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Baby Boomers Still Getting High

Middle aged baby boomers are still turning on to illegal drugs forty years after Woodstock, doubling the rates of illicit drug use by the previous generation, according to a government study released on Wednesday.

The rates of people aged 50 to 59 who admit to using illicit drugs in the past year nearly doubled from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 9.4 percent in 2007 while rates among all other age groups are the same or decreasing, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported. MORE>>>>>>>>

Diabetes Drug Increases Death Risk

Rosiglitazone, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, is associated with an increased risk of heart failure and death among older patients compared to a similar drug (pioglitazone), concludes a study published on today.

As such, the researchers say it is difficult to advocate continued use of rosiglitazone for most patients.

Rosiglitazone and pioglitazone belong to a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones and are widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. They help to control blood sugar levels, but both drugs can also cause side effects including weight gain, fluid retention and heart failure.

Heart Disease Death Risk Lowered by Multivitamins

Multivitamins taken regularly over a long period of time may lower the risk of death from heart disease by 16 percent, according to a new study out of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington. The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, also showed that daily supplements of vitamin E over a 10-year period were tied to a 28 percent decrease in the risk of death from heart disease.

The new study goes against two older studies, one of them a much-debated 2004 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that said multivitamins and vitamin E in particular actually increased the risk of all-cause mortality. The other prior study, published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said vitamin A, vitamin E, and beta-carotene could increase the risk of death by as much as 16 percent.


Credit Crunch Will Worsen Obesity Epidemic

As wallets become leaner, people could become fatter, researchers concluded after a study involving 9,000 people.

The researchers, whose findings are in the open access journal BMC Public Health, blame the obesity trend on two factors: the high price of healthy food and the tendency of people worried about debt to eat for comfort.


Red Wine May Fight Inflammation in the Body

Drinking red wine may help fight inflammation in the body, according to research published on Sunday by scientists at the University of Glasgow.

Researchers found that resveratrol, an anti-oxidant found in red wine, protected mice when they were exposed to a strong inflammatory agent.

Mice that were not pre-treated with resveratrol developed a serious reaction similar to the inflammatory disorder sepsis.

The study found that it blocks two major proteins in the body that trigger inflammation.

"Strong acute inflammatory diseases such as sepsis are very difficult to treat and many die every day due to lack of treatment," said Alirio Melendez of the University of Glasgow.


Heavy Drinkers Face Significantly Higher Cancer Risk

Heavy drinkers of beer and spirits face a much higher risk of developing cancer than the population at large, says a group of Montreal epidemiologists and cancer researchers.

People in the highest consumption category increased their risk of developing esophageal cancer sevenfold, colon cancer by 80 percent, and even lung cancer by 50 percent, the researchers said.

They found statistically significant relationships between heavy consumption of beer and spirits and six different cancers. Moderate drinking (i.e. less than daily) and wine consumption did not show the same effects, however. MORE>>>>>>>>>