Friday, May 27, 2011

Changing biomarkers may not reduce disease risk

A drug that successfully raises HDL and lowers triglycerides does not reduce heart disease risk. One scientist quoted in the NY Times said that this study indicates that changing biomarkers for disease is not the same thing as preventing the disease. While obvious to many people outside the biomedical world, it's lovely to hear someone from the biomedical complex say that.

Oddly, many folks quoted in the article said that regardless of the study, people should still take the drug or at least talk with their doctor about discontinuing it. Which is a lot like what came out of the National Preventive Services Task Force's report about mammograms for younger women: we want to learn from evidence, but not shake things up.

Throughout the article, different people kept saying that the study implies that raising HDL does not improve heart disease risk, but really they seemed to mean that raising HDL through drugs doesn't work, but as far as I know raising it through exercise and diet does improve heart disease risk.

Everyone already knows the answer: stop eating processed food, start cooking, and exercise. There are no easy answers, but I think that Men's Health magazine has better heart disease prevention than most medical journals. The sooner we get past the nutritional fads that elevate processed foods above unprocessed foods, and use drugs as a short-cut, the healthier we'll be. Isn't it crazy that during the 90s, people saw coconut and chicken with skin and whole milk as dangerous, and pasta and bread and low fat sweetened yogurt as healthy?


Glenn said...

Huh. I wonder if the same is true for some mental health conditions-- i.e., there is a correlation noted between distorted cognitions and depressive symptoms. Cognitive therapy assumes the causality of these cognitions-- i.e., twisted thinking results in depression-- and thus emphasizes challenging distortions (which does seem to work for a large subset of patients). But I've always wondered whether distorted cognitions might be something that covaries with depression, rather than causes it...that is to say, maybe by changing distorted cognitions, CBT simply changes one of the "biomarkers" of depression (well...the...cogni-markers of it, anyway). I wonder this because there is a subset of patients who tend to frustrate cognitive therapists by not responding to CBT. And cognitive therapists, ironically, don't seem to deal well with frustration (activates their inadequacy schemas, I think)...

I have a subscription to "Men's Health," by the by. I have no idea why. They don't seem to have much use for me, as a vegetarian. *shrug*

Janet said...

That would be interesting. I wonder how you could test for that.