A prescription label for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, a brand name statin medicine. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Last Monday two major groups released a set of new guidelines designed to lower cholesterol. Now, it appears a major component of the guidelines — an online risk calculator — may be flawed, the New York Times reports.
Since the publication of the guidelines, two Harvard Medical School professors “evaluated the guidelines using three large studies that involved thousands of people and continued for at least a decade,” the Times reported. They knew the patients’ health status at the start and then they looked to see how many had had a heart attack or stroke in the next decade. How accurate was the new calculator in predicting risk? From the Times:
The answer was that the calculator overpredicted risk by 75 to 150 percent, depending on the population. A man whose risk was 4 percent, for example, might show up as having an 8 percent risk. With a 4 percent risk, he would not warrant treatment — the guidelines that say treatment is advised for those with at least a 7.5 percent risk and that treatment can be considered for those whose risk is 5 percent.
By Bernice Yeung, California Watch
Nine of the ten regions with the most ozone pollution are in California. High ozone has now been linked to health problems. (eutrophication&hypoxia/Flickr)
Smog has been linked to heart problems and even death, and new research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency begins to explain why.
Researchers found that healthy young adults who have been exposed to ozone – which is a major component of smog – experience physiological changes that could be linked to heart ailments in vulnerable populations, such as elderly people with cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the study “provides a plausible explanation for the link between acute ozone exposure and death,” lead author Robert B. Devlin said in a statement.
The study has special implications for Californians, who are exposed to some of the highest ozone levels in the country.
Of the 10 regions in the country with the most ozone pollution, nine are in California, with Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside topping the list, according to the American Lung Association.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner. (US Mission Geneva: Flickr)
Last week, the big story may have been the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s flip-flopping over funding Planned Parenthood. But coming in a close second (at least here at the health desk) was the call for regulating sugar in the same way alcohol and tobacco are. The argument was made by UC San Francisco researchers in the journal Nature. They laid out the science that sugar is behind many of the chronic maladies we see today–diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Today FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg was a guest on KQED’s Forum. Host Michael Krasny asked her if sugar should be removed from the FDA’s “GRAS” category–that’s for Generally Recognized as Safe. Not surprisingly, the Commissioner did not announce imminent action. She said she did have a chance to “look quickly at the initial report” and that “we’ll look very seriously at any new data that’s presented.” Continue reading