All Things Are NOT Being Equal

July 25th, 2017

Aspartame, often known by the brand names Equal or Nutrasweet, has been promoted as a way to combat the obesity epidemic that is causing so many health problems for the public. But it is not proven to be an effective method to battle obesity.

Since aspartame was introduced in 1981 it has found its way into numerous products as a “healthy alternative.” And yet, in 1995 a full 75% of complaints to the FDA were related to adverse reactions concerning food which included aspartame. It has been linked to weight gain, memory lapses, seizures, brain tumors and making people hungry. That’s not exactly solving the obesity problem. You’d think that something causing such a stir would lead to more studies to verify that it is actually safe.

The University of Iowa did a study and concluded the largest study (at that time) on aspartame. They followed the results over ten years and fifty thousand women and found that women who drank diet sodas with aspartame were 30% more likely to have an issue with cardiac disease such as heart attacks or strokes, and 50% more likely to die from these issues.

Another, even larger study recently announced their findings. Looking at the epidemiological results of over 125,000 people over twenty-two years (and the equivalent of over 2.2 million person-years’ worth of data), they found that the risk of contracting leukemia was 42% higher for those who consumed diet soda regularly. They also found that men were over 30% more likely to be at risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and over 100% at risk for multiple myeloma. Why just men? They couldn’t answer that one. But these results are very similar to a 2006 study on lab rats that were dismissed as not being applicable to humans.

You can just bet that the makers of Aspartame will want to do further studies to prove that it is safe. And yet there have been numerous studies on aspartame. Dr. Ralph Walton did a peer reviewed study on the medical studies on aspartame and found that- What a surprise – ALL the studies funded by the aspartame industry found that aspartame was safe. And the studies done that were not by the industry? Over eighty studies and 92% found at least one problem stemming from aspartame. And this was back in 1996! You can watch the 60 Minutes segment here.

So, next time you pop open a diet soda remember, all things are NOT equal.

Abusing the Badge

July 21st, 2017

For the most part, we in the United States have the luxury of living in a nation where the rule of law holds sway. But one of the costs required to preserve this liberty and way of life in constant vigilance. That includes vigilance over those that we trust to keep vigilance over us.

The vast majority of police have the interests of the public at heart when they do their jobs. But they are human, and every one can get carried away sometimes. The mindset of protecting people can get to be overwhelming and I believe anyone being reasonable has to admit can slip into police brutality. And I believe we all believe police brutality is inexcusable.

Lawful arrests are one thing. Beating someone to a pulp and then charging them with resisting arrest is literally adding insult to injury. And for a long time, there has been little to do about these instances.

“Little” does not mean nothing.

If you are subject to physical abuse and police brutality, do you have the right to defend yourself? Yes and no. First off, note that laws differ by state. According to a recent ruling in New Jersey when a citizen becomes the victim of unlawful force by a law enforcement officer he/she has the right to defend themselves by responsive force.  Here the defendant was beaten bloody and required hospitalization after his arrest – on charges that didn’t even result in a guilty verdict. He was convicted of only one thing – resisting arrest.

This ruling threw out that conviction because the jury instructions failed to note that he had a right to defend himself.

We are not advocating breaking the law. We’re not advocating resisting a valid arrest. And it is our prayer that the situations of unlawful force are minimized by the citizens who do break the law understanding the need to submit to an arrest so that Court’s can do their job. Yet tension is often high in the mind of the officer when situations occur on the streets, so we believe unlawful force exists and will continue to exist.

So be informed. You have civil rights to file suit if you’ve been abused by a police officer. And depending on where you live, you may have the right at that time to physically defend yourself or others. It’s arguable such exists in Alabama, but the interpretation of “reasonable force” and the classification of person being protected and/or doing the abuse comes into play.

The price of vigilance requires that everyone follow the law. And that includes the officers seeking to make an arrest.

Again, we hope there will never be another incident like this again. But knowing the world we live in it’s likely unlawful force will happen and damages will be suffered. If it happens, we are here to help you! Give us a call 1-877-717-5342 for a no-charge consultation.

-Trenton Garmon, JD, MA

A Major Stresser – & Roundup is the Usual Suspect

July 5th, 2017

California will be including glyphosate in its list of chemicals known to cause cancer. That might not give you much concern – who deals with a chemical that I’ve never heard of?

More people that you might think.

Glyphosate is the principal ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, a herbicide and weed killer that is commonly used on yards by J. Q. Public. But it’s used in vast quantities on crops.

Did you have any fruit, vegetable or grain products today? Chances are at least one of them was treated with Roundup while being farmed.

And this ruling by California isn’t just California being liberal. The World Health Organization research on glyphosate gave it a ruling of “probably carcinogenic” in 2015.

While the amount that people wind up eating might have a low risk (they are still testing that), the real concern is for people who use apply the product. Farmers, groundskeepers, vintners, grovers, lawns keepers, gardeners and even people who spend a lot of time in their own garden may have had dangerous levels of exposure. In 2013 almost 300 million pounds of glyphosate was used in the U.S. That’s 18 times the amount used in 1992. And now the chemical is being found in soil and rainwater samples in Iowa and Mississippi.

And now some researchers are claiming that the other ingredients in Roundup, the so-called ‘inert’ ingredients – are anything but. We see how this plays out As Time Goes By.. But unlike Casablanca, this drama is just beginning.

A Cycle of Blame?

June 29th, 2017

It’s easy to get hurt when riding a motorcycle. Since you are not surrounded by a car, the cyclist is often subjected to significantly more damage that the occupants of a car. There are no doors, bumpers or airbags to protect you (But airbags – that may be a topic for another day).

If a motorcyclist has gotten hurt as a result of someone else’s actions – they may need legal help to get back on their feet. Or back on their cycle – if there was damage to that as well. But motorcycles can be replaced – people? Not so easily.

If you are hurt in an accident, there are a couple key things that need to be done. First, document as much as you can. Get pictures of the location and any damage to people or property. Get copies of any records of the accident, like the police report or insurance information.

Next, get checked out by a medical professional. If circumstances are dire enough, this might need to be step one. If the Doctor says you are fine – congratulations! Many motorcycle riders involved in accidents won’t be that lucky. Road rash, head & spinal injuries, broken bones, and lost limbs are fairly common results of motorcycle accidents.

And step three, if you are injured – contact an attorney. We prefer it would be one at Garmon of course. Your attorney can then help guide you through the complexity of the legal system and help you get compensated for your claim.

The Battle of the Bulge – Revisited

June 23rd, 2017

A hernia is a bulge of tissues through an opening of weakness within your abdominal wall muscles.  There are several different types, with several different types of treatment.

One of these treatment options was the Physiomesh – an Ethicon / Johnson & Johnson product introduced in 2010. The Physiomesh is a flexible mesh of polypropylene designed to reinforce the abdominal wall. It can be surgically implanted over an opening, a bulge, or a weak spot in the abdominal wall.

But that isn’t an option anymore.  Ethicon / J&J withdrew the Physiomesh due to higher than average revision rates.

But what exactly does that mean? It boils down to a simple fact – the Physiomesh didn’t do an adequate job. The Physiomesh has been associated with recurring hernias, bowel obstructions, chronic pain, infections, and tissue/organ perforation. Many cases require a surgical removal of the implanted device.

On top of that, the mesh can fall apart and release shards of the material into the body, further complicating matters.

It isn’t too much to ask that a medical implant do the job it was designed for. If you have suffered complications from the Physiomesh, give us a call.

A Father’s Day Issue

June 20th, 2017

Testosterone Replacement treatment (TRT) is a method used to treat hypogonadism, a condition known as “Low-T” or “Low-Test.” This occurs when a guy is believed to produce too little testosterone as a result of an injury or disease.

There are several drugs that purport to boost testosterone and various supplements which allege to also boost testosterone. The problem is these drugs (AndroGel, Adroderm, Axiron, Bio-T-Gel, Delatestryl, Depo-Testosterone, Fortesta, Striant, Testim & Testopel) have been proven to increase the risk of heart attack and other adverse cardio events. These may be acceptable risks, if the consumer is adequately warned. Unfortunately the warnings have been either non-existent or inadequate.

In January of this year there was yet another study forcing the maker to change their labeling – this one to include information about the potential for abuse and possible addictiveness of these drugs.

If you, or someone you know, has suffered a heart attack or stroke after taking a testosterone supplement like AndroGel or one of the others, contact our office for a free consultation.

The Heartburn of PPIs

June 9th, 2017

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) were medicines introduced in the 1990s. They reduce the production of gastric acid. You may know them by a number of other names, including:

• Nexium (esomeprazole)
• Prevacid (lansoprazole)
• Protonix (pantoprazole)
• AcipHex (rabeprazole)
• Prilosec (omeprazole)
• Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
• Kapidex (dexlansoprazole)

Among others:

PPIs have been used to treat a whole host of maladies. Among these are Dyspepsia, Peptic Ulcers, GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease), Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, Barret’s Esophagus, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Gastritis and Gastrinomas.

But is the risk justified? With long term use PPIs may come with some significant side effects. “(Over the counter) PPIs are marketed at low doses and are only intended for a 14 day course of treatment up to 3 times per year.”

Are the side effects worth it to get rid of heartburn? Adverse events have included accelerated aging of blood vessels, increased risk of pneumonia, heart attack or stroke, permanent kidney damage (from AIN – Acute Interstitial Nephritis to potential renal failure), bone injuries, and a possible increased risk of dementia.

I know heartburn can keep you up at night. But is getting rid of heartburn worth gambling on those physical maladies – or increasing the chance of losing your mind?

The makers of PPIs have done very little to inform the public of the risks associated with their products. And to top it off, these products may be addictive.

If heartburn – or the complications of heartburn medicine – are keeping you up at night, give us a call.

Unauthorized Acid Trips

June 5th, 2017

The FDA has issued a warning for patients taking the Type 2 diabetes drug canagliflozin, also known by its brand name, Invokana. Use of Invokana can lead to dangerous levels of ketones – acids in the bloodstream. This is known medically as acidosis and can lead to a number of problems – bone disease, delayed growth, dehydration, swelling of the brain, pancreatitis, several types of kidney problems, and even death. As if that wasn’t enough, just last month “(t)he FDA found people who took Invokana had leg and foot amputations twice as often as patients who took a placebo.”

Canagliflozin is in a category of drugs called SGLT2 (Sodium-GLucose coTransporter-2) inhibitors. These drugs help lower blood sugar by causing the kidneys to remove sugar from the body through urine. But they are not without side effects.

If you have been prescribed Invokana for diabetes make sure you keep in close contact with your doctor. You may need to watch out for symptoms of ketoacidosis. These include decreased alertness, flushing, frequent urination or thirst (lasting over a day), headache, nausea, stomach pains or fruit-smelling breath.

At this point canagliflozin has been approved for use with Type 2 diabetes. Your physician can prescribe it for other things, but both the patient and the prescriber need to be aware of the risks.

Shedding More than Tears

May 30th, 2017

Breast cancer is a serious disease. Victims of breast cancer may be treated with a number of drugs, depending on what the doctor feel is the best treatment for that case.

In some cases, doctors treat with Taxotere (also known as docetaxel). Taxotere is an injected chemotherapy drug in the taxanes drug family. As with a lot of chemotherapy drugs, hair loss is side effect.

What might not have been mentioned though, is that this drug can lead to permanent hair loss. There is a small risk of that with many chemotherapy drugs, but a study indicates that the chance of permanent hair loss is substantially higher with the use of Sanofi’s Taxotere than with other chemotherapy drugs.  Based on the Senlacek study and according to FDA standards. permanent hair loss could be considered a “common” side effect of docetaxel use.

And yet, this “common” side effect was not mentioned to patients or doctors as being more than just the usual small risk associated with other chemotherapy regimens.

Victims of breast cancer have enough to worry about in getting well. They shouldn’t have to worry about permanent self-esteem issues that are often associated with hair loss – especially when other drugs are available that don’t have near the risk of that happening. While the omission of that detail may not be a bald faced lie, it is a risk that the manufacturer should have disclosed to doctors and patients so they could make an informed choice.

The Wrong Kind of Heartbreak

May 24th, 2017

The FDA website has put up a notice that there have been numerous adverse events related to use of IVC filters. The IVC (Inferior Vena Cava) filter is an implanted device used for people who were in danger of developing recurrent blood clots. It was used on people who cannot take blood thinning medication or who were at risk for blood clots even when on blood thinning medication.

But they are not a permanent fix. They need to come out. The FDA has found that many of the side effects reported may have been because the IVC filter stayed in the body too long. That led to some serious complications such as filter breakage, infection, internal bleeding, embolization, perforated organs, the filter migrating to other areas, and death. The FDA warns that IVC filters need to be removed as soon as the risk of pulmonary embolism is gone.

Some of these devices have been recalled. Boston Scientific had a recall in 2005 and Cordis Corporation had a recall in 2013. IVC Manufacturer C.R. Bard had problems with the FDA for manufacturing a Recovery Cone Removal System (the Model RC-15) without marketing clearance and several of their filters have had a number of alleged safety issues.

In one study only less than 10% of patients that received and IVC filter had had the filter removed, even though having a filter stay past the recommended time in the body pushes the rate of complication significantly higher.

Did you or a loved one have an IVC filter implanted? Is it still in there? Do you even know? The answer could literally break your heart.