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18 June 2008

Message from Dr Lau: Book Update

Clarity, clarity, clarity….

“Writing is something one can learn,” declared Ayn Rand in The Art of Nonfiction. “There is no mystery about it.”

She should know. She, like me was never formally trained in the art.

In 1969, over 16 evenings, the novelist-philosopher demystified writing in a series of informal lectures given to small group of colleagues. Her lectures were taped, and, 19 years after her death in 1982, edited and published as The Art of Nonfiction.
It came as a surprise to me then, when I learnt that for all her cult status, Rand was not a born writer. At least not in English. She spoke the language only haltingly and did not write a line until the age of 20, soon after she fled Communist Russia to settle in the United States in 1926. It took her years to master her craft, which she eventually did with great aplomb.

My experiences with my book, Health in Your Hands, are somewhat similar. An early lesson that I picked from experts is that effective writing must have three essential components. Clarity, clarity, and clarity.

I also realized that clarity is impossible to achieve with any measure of authenticity without in-depth research, which is why before setting out to pen my thoughts on the nutritional requirement of scoliosis patients, I virtually pored over every written word on the subject. I must have literally read and consulted dozens of books (both print and online), scientific journals, research papers etc., to find out the latest, credible thoughts on nutrition for scoliosis patients with an open, objective, unbiased mind.

I was clear that I didn’t want to go with any position. I was willing to be convinced by any solid, documentary proof. It’s another matter altogether, that my research later revealed more evidence in favor of non-surgical treatment of scoliosis.

Dr Kevin Lau

17 June 2008

Researchers Take Drug Company Pay, Then Lie About it

Dr. Joseph Biederman, of Harvard Medical School, is a world-renowned child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children. He earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007. However, he did not report much of this income to university officials.

Biederman and other researchers may have violated federal and university research rules designed to police potential conflicts of interest.

Dr. Biederman reported no income from Johnson & Johnson for 2001 in a disclosure report filed with the university. When asked to check again, he said he received $3,500. But Johnson & Johnson said that it paid him $58,169 in 2001.

Biederman’s consulting arrangements with drug makers were already controversial because of his advocacy of unapproved uses of psychiatric medicines in children.


* New York Times June 8, 2008

Sunshine is Nature's Disease Fighter

Medical researchers are growing increasingly excited about a wonder drug that may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other diseases -- sunshine.

A recent study found that men who are deficient in vitamin D, which your body produces in response to sunlight, have more than double the normal risk of suffering a heart attack.
Another study found that low levels of vitamin D increased the risk of diabetes, and yet another linked vitamin D deficiencies to an increased risk of dying from breast cancer.

These findings all join a growing body of evidence indicating that an adequate level of the vitamin, which many people can get from 20 minutes in the sun, is crucial to maintaining good health.


* Los Angeles Times June 10, 2008

Whole Body Vibration Does Your Bones and Muscles Good

Standing on a vibrating platform be beneficial for muscles and bones, particularly in older or sedentary adults.

Whole body vibration, or WBV, involves standing on a platform that sends mild vibratory impulses through the feet and into the rest of the body. It is claimed that the vibrations activate muscle fibers more efficiently than the conscious contraction of muscles during regular exercise.

Some studies have found that WBV increases bone density in the hip, and inhibit bone loss in the spine and hip areas.


* Reuters June 12, 2008

Athletes Turn to Strange Drugs in Search of an Advantage

Many athletes have begun to use a strange and alarming array of legal drugs to keep themselves competitive.

Viagra works by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow through the body, so some athletes take it to help their game, believing that it will improve lung function by increasing oxygenation of the blood to the lungs.

Other athletes take Human Growth Hormone, which can increase metabolism and protein synthesis during exercise, or even ingest baking soda, a practice called “soda doping”, to improve performance.


* ABC News June 12, 2008

Why is the U.S. Spending More Than $1 Trillion for Drugs?

The global market for pharmaceuticals was worth more than $693 billion in 2007. It is expected to increase to over $737 billion in 2008 and will top $1.0 trillion in 2013.

The market is divided into branded prescription drugs, generic prescription drugs and over-the-counter products. Branded prescription drugs have the largest share of the market, with more than $525 billion in sales during 2007.

The second largest segment, generic prescription drugs, will experience the highest growth rate over the next few years. It was worth $78.5 billion in 2007 and will nearly double, to almost $152 billion, by the end of 2013.


* June 11, 2008