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690 Health News Update

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Losing weight is hard work, as anyone who has tried it knows. Diet experts have been debating the pros and cons of counting calories, reducing fat or cutting carbs. A new Israeli study compares the health effects of the Mediterranean diet to a low-fat (Dr. Ornish-type) diet and a low-carb (Dr. Atkins-type) diet. You may be surprised by the outcome.

Statin-type drugs are effective at lowering cholesterol and helping prevent heart disease. But some people report severe muscle pain and weakness as a side effect. A British team used sophisticated genome analysis to find a gene variant that greatly increases the risk of this bad reaction.

As children come home from camp and prepare to go back to school, parents are tearing their hair out over lice. Dr. Alan Greene has an interesting approach.

Explore the stories behind the health headlines.


Guests: Eric Westman, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Center, Duke University Medical Center; Vice-President of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. The photo is of Dr. Westman.

Rory Collins, MD, British Heart Foundation Professor Epidemiology, University of Oxford

Alan Greene, MD, founder of www.DrGreene.com, president of Hi-Ethics (Health Internet Ethics) and Clinical Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. His books include From First Kicks to First Steps and Raising Baby Green.

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No one should consume more than 1-2 servings of soy foods daily, due to the phyto-estrogens which in moderation are very helpful. Too much of a good thing, is not necessarily better.

Dr. Westman recommended eating saturated fats as the healthy way to lose weight, basing his conclusion on the recent study in Israel comparing the three diets reported in the NEJM. However, Westman failed to report that in the study "participants were counseled to choose VEGETARIAN sources of fat and protein and to avoid trans fat." That means primarily monounsaturated fats.

Alas, I followed Westman's advice in my diet to lose weight to avoid going on cholesterol-lowering meds, and I did lose weight but my LDL went up and my HDL went down. As a former colleague of Dr. Atkins, Westman misled us in the interview by recommending saturated, rather than monounsaturated fats. Wish I had found the study online before I took Westman's advice. Now I'm off bacon and pork sausage and back on vegetable fats as much as possible -- and hope to improve my cholesterol readings next time I'm tested.

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