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How You Look At It

My cousin sent this picture that was taken from his window. That’s no pet looking in. I suspect that there’s a bigger one nearby. It reminds me of the old saying “it’s how you look at things”. Here, there’s no safe way to look at a bear through a window. That’s false security.
In my previous blog, I mentioned that I was going to a meeting this past weekend. Well, one of the speakers focused on the studies of statistics and how they relate to injury and diagnosed medical problems.
One of the statistics that really had impact on me, related to lung cancer. He described that a person that smokes has a 22.1% chance of getting lung cancer. Because there are some people that get lung cancer without smoking, I was curious as to the statistic of lung cancer, without smoking… about 1% chance.
That’s one of those statistics that is a reminder that there is really no good way of looking at it. A little greater than 1 to 5 odds of getting cancer doesn’t seem to have much impact on many, when they choose to smoke.
As I walked through the airport on Sunday, I walked by the infamous “smoking room” where everyone can go to smoke. Looking in the glass, in that smokey haze, I could count about 15 people sitting in there. Those statistics tell us that 3 people in there, will end up with lung cancer.
In jury trials, there are several psychological juror bias factors that impact verdicts. Psychologists tell us that one is called the attrition bias. That means that “it won’t happen to me”. So, when that type of juror hears evidence, they tend to put some fault on the plaintiff, because they believe such injuries could not have happened to them; They would have done something differently; even in a rear-end crash.
Unfortunately, it is that same attitude regarding smoking. Tobacco companies continue to turn a profit, despite the alarming statistics. Cigarrettes continue to be sold, no matter what warning is put on the package. Like that juror attitude, “it won’t happen to me” is a terrible stumbling block in the area of good health.
When Tobacco companies pushed for FDA regulation of their product as a drug, they did so with the hope that it would give them some liability cover. They already knew that warnings and statistics had not hurt sales very much. So, why not pretend to be a regulated drug. Now, how does that really make sense?

Nexium, Prilosec and Fractures

     The commercial almost makes you long for vacation. Two people traveling on a purple RV, going around the country with a message about fighting heartburn. Unfortunately, there may be a bad trade-off for heartburn relief, if these products are overused.

     They are medically known as Proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s). Prescription PPI’s include Nexium, Dexilant, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix and Acihpex. Now, studies are showing that those taking one of these for long periods ( a year), or have been taking high doses in certain prescription formations, may face a higher risk of fractures.

     The FDA has warned that PPI’s may increase the risk of fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. As a result, the FDA is requiring these products to display warnings  reporting an elevated fracture risk. Previously, most were relying on a Canadian study that indicated that there was some risk for increased fractures, but that such risk was in users who already had susceptibility to osteoporosis and were using these products for a period of about 7 years. That study had little effect on whether most were going to seek a prescription that would help them combat their heartburn.

     Most of the reports of increased fractures from these studies are found in adults over the age of 50. The FDA is requiring these new package warnings after reviewing the results of six studies.  One other study also suggested  that these drugs could also raise the risk of exposure to bacterium that is capable of causing severe diarrhea. I’m guessing that the next “happy couple in the RV”  TV advertisement will be followed with some baritone announcer reciting a long list of warnings, followed by the ever comforting “talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you”.


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