Baby Boomers: Not the ‘Healthiest Generation’

Every generation likes to think it’s healthier than the one that came before, but baby boomers can’t make that claim.

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that a sample of the baby boom generation, the 78 million Americans who were born in the post-war birth explosion from 1946 to 1964, were less healthy than Continue reading

Suzanne Somers’ ‘Bombshell’ Redefines Aging

In her new book, Suzanne Somers reveals the secrets behind some cutting-edge medical advances that she believes could revolutionize the way we think about getting older.

Suzanne Somers is 65 years old, but you’d never know it from looking at her.

Somers, an actress, author, Continue reading

Broken Heart ‘Ups Heart Attack Risk’

Broken Heart ‘Ups Heart Attack Risk’

LONDON – A broken heart can prove to be a serious health threat, say Australian researchers who found that people mourning the loss of a loved one are six times more likely to suffer cardiac arrest.

As per a Heart Foundation study of the physical changes suffered immediately after a profound loss, grieving people were at significantly higher risk of heart problems, said lead researcher Thomas Buckley.

The study was conducted to “shed fresh light on why people traumatized by the loss of a loved one are more susceptible to having a heart attack”, reports The Daily Express.

A team at the University of Sydney, Australia, studied 80 bereaved adults to reach the conclusion.

Lead author Dr Thomas Buckley said: “Emotional and mood changes were greatest during this time.

“Overall, the bereaved had -increases in anxiety, depression and anger, with elevated stress hormones and -reduced sleep and appetite.

“They also showed increases in blood pressure and heart rate, – together with immune and blood -clotting changes – all changes that could contribute to a heart attack.”

The study was published in the -Internal Medicine Journal.

The Cause and Treatment of Heart Disease

The Cause and Treatment of Heart Disease

The cause of heart disease is not animal fats and cholesterol but rather a number of factors inherent in modern diets, including excess consumption of vegetables oils and hydrogenated fats; excess consumption of refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar and white flour; mineral deficiencies, particularly low levels of protective magnesium and iodine; deficiencies of vitamins, particularly of vitamin C, needed for the integrity of the blood vessel walls, and of antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E, which protect us from free radicals; and, finally, the disappearance of antimicrobial fats from the food supply, namely, animal fats and tropical oils. These once protected us against the kinds of viruses and bacteria that have been associated with the onset of pathogenic plaque leading to heart disease.

While serum cholesterol levels provide an inaccurate indication of future heart disease, a high level of a substance called homocysteine in the blood has been positively correlated with pathological buildup of plaque in the arteries and the tendency to form clots—a deadly combination. Folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and choline are nutrients that lower serum homocysteine levels. These nutrients are found mostly in animal foods.

The best way to treat heart disease, then, is not to focus on lowering cholesterol—either by drugs or diet—but to consume a diet that provides animal foods rich in vitamins B6 and B12; to bolster thyroid function by daily use of natural sea salt, a good source of usable iodine; to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies that make the artery walls more prone to ruptures and the buildup of plaque; to include the antimicrobial fats in the diet; and to eliminate processed foods containing refined carbohydrates, oxidized cholesterol and free-radical-containing vegetable oils that cause the body to need constant repair.

What about Cholesterol?

What about Cholesterol?

And what about cholesterol? Here, too, the public has been misinformed. Our blood vessels can become damaged in a number of ways—through irritations caused by free radicals or viruses, or because they are structurally weak—and when this happens, the body’s natural healing substance steps in to repair the damage. That substance is cholesterol. Cholesterol is a high-molecular-weight alcohol that is manufactured in the liver and in most human cells. Like saturated fats, the cholesterol we make and consume plays many vital roles:

  1. Along with saturated fats, cholesterol in the cell membrane gives our cells necessary stiffness and stability. When the diet contains an excess of polyunsaturated fatty acids, these replace saturated fatty acids in the cell membrane, so that the cell walls actually become flabby. When this happens, cholesterol from the blood is “driven” into the tissues to give them structural integrity. This is why serum cholesterol levels may go down temporarily when we replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated oils in the diet.
  2. Cholesterol acts as a precursor to vital corticosteroids, hormones that help us deal with stress and protect the body against heart disease and cancer; and to the sex hormones like androgen, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
  3. Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, a very important fat-soluble vitamin needed for healthy bones and nervous system, proper growth, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, insulin production, reproduction and immune system function.
  4. The bile salts are made from cholesterol. Bile is vital for digestion and assimilation of fats in the diet.
  5. Recent research shows that cholesterol acts as an antioxidant. This is the likely explanation for the fact that cholesterol levels go up with age. As an antioxidant, cholesterol protects us against free radical damage that leads to heart disease and cancer.
  6. Cholesterol is needed for proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain.48 Serotonin is the body’s natural “feel-good” chemical. Low cholesterol levels have been linked to aggressive and violent behavior, depression and suicidal tendencies.
  7. Mother’s milk is especially rich in cholesterol and contains a special enzyme that helps the baby utilize this nutrient. Babies and children need cholesterol-rich foods throughout their growing years to ensure proper development of the brain and nervous system.
  8. Dietary cholesterol plays an important role in maintaining the health of the intestinal wall. This is why low-cholesterol vegetarian diets can lead to leaky gut syndrome and other intestinal disorders.

Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease but rather a potent antioxidant weapon against free radicals in the blood, and a repair substance that helps heal arterial damage (although the arterial plaques themselves contain very little cholesterol.) However, like fats, cholesterol may be damaged by exposure to heat and oxygen. This damaged or oxidized cholesterol seems to promote both injury to the arterial cells as well as a pathological buildup of plaque in the arteries.  Damaged cholesterol is found in powdered eggs, in powdered milk (added to reduced-fat milks to give them body) and in meats and fats that have been heated to high temperatures in frying and other high-temperature processes.

High serum cholesterol levels often indicate that the body needs cholesterol to protect itself from high levels of altered, free-radical-containing fats. Just as a large police force is needed in a locality where crime occurs frequently, so cholesterol is needed in a poorly nourished body to protect the individual from a tendency to heart disease and cancer. Blaming coronary heart disease on cholesterol is like blaming the police for murder and theft in a high crime area.

Poor thyroid function (hypothyroidism) will often result in high cholesterol levels. When thyroid function is poor, usually due to a diet high in sugar and low in usable iodine, fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients, the body floods the blood with cholesterol as an adaptive and protective mechanism, providing a superabundance of materials needed to heal tissues and produce protective steroids. Hypothyroid individuals are particularly susceptible to infections, heart disease and cancer.

WHO head backs role of traditional medicine in primary health care – Two Years Ago – So what happened?

WHO head backs role of traditional medicine in primary health care – Two Years Ago – So what happened?

BEIJING, Nov. 7, 2007 (Xinhua) — The role of traditional medicine in primary health care should be highlighted, Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said hereon Friday.

    Thirty years ago, the WHO Alma-Ata Declaration recognized the role of traditional medicine practitioners within the primary health care system at the community level, Chan said at the opening ceremony of the WHO Congress on Traditional Medicine. “As a result, the significance and use of traditional medicine has increased in the past three decades.”

    For millions of people living in rural areas of developing countries, herbal medicines, traditional treatments and traditional practitioners were the main and sometimes the only source of health care, she said.

    “This is care that is close to homes, accessible and affordable. In some systems of traditional medicine, such as traditional Chinese medicine, traditional practices are supported by wisdom and experience acquired over centuries,” she said.

    Traditional medicine has been proven as cheap, effective and acceptable in many developing countries’ primary health care systems, Chan said.

    She noted, however, that an undesirable trend had also occurred in affluent societies, in the popularity of treatments and remedies that complement orthodox medicine or sometimes serve as an alternative to conventional treatments.

    In North America and Europe, traditional medicine has become a multi-billion-dollar industry that was expected to continue growing rapidly, Chan said.

    “This is not the poor man’s alternative to conventional care; this trend has some dangers.”

    Chan called for all WHO members to bring traditional and Western medicine together in highly effective ways in the primary health care system. She said the two systems need not clash.

    The three-day congress, hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Health and the State Administration of Traditional Medicine, has drawn more than 1,100 participants from 80 countries and regions.

    A legacy of the congress will be the “Beijing Declaration”, which is scheduled to be published on Nov. 8 after it is agreed on by participating WHO members

Why Frequent Blinking is Essential for Healthy Eyes and Optimal Vision

Why Frequent Blinking is Essential for Healthy Eyes and Optimal Vision

Are you interested in taking optimal care of your eyes and experiencing your best vision?  If so, we encourage you to get into a habit of blinking softly as often as possible.

Frequent and gentle blinking is essential to the health of your eyes and vision because it allows your eyelids to regularly coat your eyes with three beneficial layers of tears:

  1. The first layer of tears lies right up against the whites of your eyes, and provides an even coat of protein-rich moisture for the second layer to adhere to.
  2. The middle watery layer helps to wash away foreign debris. It also nourishes the cornea of your eyes with minerals, a variety of proteins, and moisture.
  3. The third outer layer of tears is somewhat oily. It serves to prevent the middle watery layer from evaporating quickly, and provides needed lubrication between your eyes and your eyelids.

If your eyes are not regularly coated with the three layers of tears described above, they will be deprived of ongoing nourishment and cleansing, and they will be unnecessarily strained.

One of the reasons why many of us don’t blink as often as we should is that we don’t see frequent blinking in mainstream media. Actors and anchor-people are typically trained to blink as infrequently as possible, so when we take in mainstream media, our subconscious minds learn that it isn’t normal to blink frequently.

To optimally support your eyes and vision, it’s best to blink softly every two to four seconds, which translates to about fifteen to thirty blinks per minute. By consciously making an effort to softly blink at this rate, over time, your body will turn your conscious efforts into a subconscious habit.

Here are some notes on blinking to promote optimal eye health and vision:

  • A soft and natural blink should occur like the light flap of the wings of a butterfly – this is a good image to visualize as you make an effort to blink softly every two to four seconds.
  • You should blink regularly during all activities, including reading, working on the computer, and viewing a TV program or film.
  • Contact lenses can discourage frequent blinking because the back surface of your eyelids is not designed to rub over an artificial surface. This is one of several good reasons why contact lenses should be avoided whenever possible.
  • Some yoga and meditation instructors suggest doing exercises that involve fixating your vision on one object, such as the flame of a candle, and doing your best not to blink.  We encourage you to ignore the part about suppressing your instinct to blink. It’s quite possible to experience inner stillness and peace while blinking frequently.

Since the primary goal of blinking regularly is to keep your eyes well lubricated and nourished, another good tip for eye and vision care is to keep your eyes closed whenever you are thinking about something while you do not need your vision. For example, if you are stuck in the middle of composing an e-mail message, close your eyes while you think of your next sentence.

Still Alive and Well – Confirmed Bicarbonate Cancer Cure

Still Alive and Well – Confirmed Bicarbonate Cancer Cure

     Well I am just delighted to share with you that I just got off the phone with Vernon Johnston, the gentleman that reached out to me when I was finishing my Sodium Bicarbonate book. He was the fellow who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer with metastasis to the bones. This was over 15 months ago and I wrote up his story and shared his treatment diary in my Rich Man’s Poor Man’s Cancer Treatment bicarbonate book. He was going to do a cesium chloride treatment but because his order got lost in the mail ended up doing sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) orally, managed to get his urinary pH up to 8.5 for five days and then within two weeks was back at his oncologists office for a test, which showed his bones being cleared of his cancer.

     “Cancer tried to kill me. After a struggle or two, or three, or four, or more I said, “No!” Or at least I was hoping for a “No.”  I turned to Cesium, but ended up with Baking Soda. My goal was to change my pH quickly. I knew little or next to nothing what pH, Alkaline or Acidic meant. Happily I found out,” said        Vernon Johnston.

     Talking to him on the phone was really nice for he seems just so full of life and is obviously alive and in very fine health and has not seen a doctor in a year. Now that is really good news. Dr. Tullio Simoncini would have said this is impossible for he believes that even his expensive treatment with IVs would not do the job but he was wrong and that is why I call for universal oral use in all cancers coupled with intensive transdermal use as well.

     Vernon was written up in the Valley News this week and his new site can be seen at http://www.phkillscancer.com/home. If you are anywhere near Anza California this next weekend you can go to a free workshop (I suggest giving a donation) he will be giving on what he has been able to achieve independent of the medical establishment with sodium bicarbonate and breathing (also very important for increasing O2 levels) and some other health practices that have given him a completely new lease on life. (I owe my readership an essay on breathing for healing. I will say though that after talking to him and reading his page on breathing I was inspired this morning to do my own conscious breathing and I am ashamed for saying so little about this in my work.)

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is the time honored method to
‘speed up’ the return of the body’s bicarbonate levels to normal.
 Sodium bicarbonate happens to be one of our most useful
medicines in existence treating as it does basic human physiology.
                                                    Rich Man’s Poor Man’s Cancer Treatment

     I make it very clear in my Sodium Bicarbonate book that I do not believe in single solutions or cures for cancer being a full protocol practitioner. My overall treatment philosophy for cancer is to trap the cancer in a deadly crossfire and beat the crap out of it with safe concentrated nutritional medicinals and solid health practices including plenty of sun exposure, exercise, touch via massage, and breathing techniques that you can see on Vernon’s site. But, as Vernon’s case demonstrates, the sodium bicarbonate is the lead Panzer Division that has the power to kick ass pretty much all by itself.

Sodium bicarbonate is the least expensive, safest and perhaps
most effective cancer medicine there is.
 Sodium Bicarbonate
is a nothing to lose everything to gain treatment for cancer.
                                                   Rich Man’s Poor Man’s Cancer Treatment

     Not sorry for the street language here because this is important information for humanity and in my Winning the War on Cancer book I use this analogy quite liberally. Even something as Yin as breathing can be used in quite a Yang way. Though I believe there are a hundred cures for cancer, many of them very good, and though I like to combine the strongest of them together into a comprehensive protocol, sodium bicarbonate is a no brainer that even the poorest person can afford and the richest man should use. Same can be said of iodine and magnesium chloride and it is heartening to hear more and more people using this combination.

     The bad news is that people are dropping like flies all over the world from escalating cancer because of increased toxins in the air, water and food (mercury pollution for instance is still increasing and now they want to vaccinate the world with mercury containing swine flu and influenza vaccines) there is more uranium in the air because of the use of depleted uranium weapons by the American Military. Of course the quality of water most people are drinking and the stress levels from the death throes of the vicious corporate capitalist system is not helping anyone’s immune system.

     Vernon reminded me that originally Dr. Simoncini did not endorse any use of oral bicarbonate but it seems they have had a change of heart and at least are recommending it for certain cancers. I really do not understand what is going on with Dr. Simoncini and his followers. I tried to sign onto a yahoo group dedicated to his protocol and they rejected my application. My assistant Claudia French RN said after carefully reading their information that she felt they were closed minded and were not interested in the alkaline effect of sodium bicarbonate, which of course is absolutely bizarre since it is one of its main effects. Dr. Simoncini seems stuck on his Candida theory and the anti fungal properties of backing soda and just really does not want to look too deeply into bicarbonates medical profile, which includes rushing more Oxygen to cancer cells through radical pH shifts and increased CO2 levels.

     I am not against the use of IVs and recently talked to a doctor in Africa who uses them to great effect against cancer and AIDS. I will not share her name openly at this point but I have known her for quite some time and am deeply impressed with her medical finesse. She says:

     “If Simoncini is correct that cancer is fungus the MMS, which becomes chlorine dioxide in the body given intravenously will kill off the fungus in the body. The MMS is quite foul and distresses many peoples’ stomachs so the reason it is given intravenously is that you can get a higher dose in without the same side effects. Also I found my patients had side effects from the bicarbonate IVs using Simoncini’s protocol so I give it orally. So we get the same effect just administering the agents differently. I found this worked best for the patients I was treating. It so easy to give and does not give any discomfort.

     My protocol for treating people is to give them magnesium and B6 with sodium chlorite intravenously and iodine and sodium bicarbonate orally. I premix magnesium sulfate or magnesium chloride and pyridoxine in a 200ml bag of saline, as follows: 40 ml magnesium 50% and pyridoxine 100mg/ml 40ml into the saline. I draw up 10ml 0f this mixture and that is given slowly intravenously via a 23 butterfly needle. This is followed by a 20ml syringe filled as follows.1-2 ml 28% sodium chlorite and 5% glucose to fill the 20ml syringe. This mixture is sometimes activated with 2ml of citric acid 10% and the sodium chlorite solution is reduced to 1/2 ml instead of the 1-2ml.

     So I am giving 30 ml into a vein. They feel of course the hot rush from the magnesium but they actually enjoy it because it does all the good magnesium things. Depending on the patient I do this either weekly or sometimes up to three times a week. I have these patients take half to a full teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate morning and evening and giving iodine mixed right into the bicarbonate. If it is a cancer patient I give a product with three types of vitamin C (ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbic and magnesium ascorbic which is mixed with L-Lysine but a few hours after the administration of the IV.

     I have a doctor friend in Moscow who uses the MMS transdermally driving it in with DMSO and he also reports good results but I have never been very comfortable with the mania around MMS and the way it is marketed and put out with religious fever. I have heard of many bad stories but I have to concede to some good ones as well and my doctor friends seem to have avoided the down side by cutting out the use of it orally in favor of intravenous and transdermal application.

     So Vernon is alive and well. Now of course he is not the only cancer survivor and many have made it through various natural means and some few even despite chemo and radiation therapy, which most alternative practitioners believe made cancer more not less dangerous. After all orthodox oncologists use treatments that cause cancer to cure it so we cannot expect life enhancing results. Surgical intervention, toxic chemo and radiation all are known to facilitate or cause cancer.

     What is remarkable about Vernon’s case is that his result, and the same goes for Dr. Simoncini’s patients, shows a clear cause and effect relationship between cancer, its elimination and sodium bicarbonate, that simple household item that doubles behind hospital doors as an emergency room medicine. Yes some precautions need to be taken but most people can learn to use it themselves safely like Vernon did. In my book much is explained for professional and patient alike but one does not need to fully understand bicarbonate no physiology to brush ones teeth with bicarbonate (which I highly recommend for everyone) or take it from the minute, or even way before one suspects one has cancer.

The pH level of our internal fluids affects every cell in our body.
Chronic over acidity corrodes body tissue, and if left unchecked
will interrupt all cellular activities and functions. In other words,
over acidity interferes with life itself.
It is at the root of cancer.

     Everyone should buy some pH strips and become familiar with this invisible side of our lives. It is sad that our schools do not teach us the rudiments of health and even medicine because it is not that difficult to fathom or practice. I intend to commit more time and energy to bring the bicarbonate story to the world for it seems like the message is not getting out enough and many still don’t get how simple it is. When I read the Cancer Tutor site’s information I felt sad because it so misinforms with such little information an extremely valuable and amazingly inexpensive basic treatment for cancer. 

Mark Sircus Ac., OMD

‘Bionic Eye’ May Help Blind See: Retinal Prosthesis Shown To Restore Partial Vision

‘Bionic Eye’ May Help Blind See: Retinal Prosthesis Shown To Restore Partial Vision

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2009) — A new artificial retina, an array of electrodes implanted on the back of the eye, has been found to restore partial vision to totally blind people. In a study focused on 15 blind participants who had the implant for at least three months, 10 of the patients subsequently tested were able to identify the direction of moving objects.

The research was presented at Neuroscience 2009, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

“These results give new hope to the many people with degenerative retinal diseases,” said Jessy Dorn, PhD, of Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., lead author of the study. More than two million Americans suffer from eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, slowly losing their vision as the nerve cells that detect light are destroyed, due to either age or illness. There is no known cure.

In this case, the researchers worked around the destroyed cells. Each participant was given a pair of glasses with a small video camera mounted on it, and a belt with a tiny computer attached. The computer processed video images from the camera and transmitted the data to the implanted electrodes on the retina. When the users “looked” at a monitor with a white bar sweeping across a black screen, the electrodes that corresponded with the moving bar stimulated cells in the eye, creating spots of light in their fields of vision.

“We found that most of the study participants were better able to determine the direction of the bar when using the prosthesis system than without it, or with a scrambled video input,” Dorn said. “In other words, this new system gave most blind people the ability to identify an object’s direction of motion — something they could not do without it.” An international clinical trial is now testing the prosthesis system. To date, 32 blind people have received the implant.

Research was supported by the National Eye Institute.

For Patients Suffering With Chronic Rhinosinusitis

Alternative Medicine Use Increasing For Patients Suffering With Chronic Rhinosinusitis

ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2009) — A new study suggests that a growing segment of patients are turning to complementary and alternative medical therapies to help treat the symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS).

In a paper presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO in San Diego, researchers sought to explore the pattern of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in patients with a prior diagnosis of CRS at a rhinology outpatient clinic in Aberdeen, Scotland.

CRS is defined as a group of disorders characterized by inflammation of the mucosa of the nose and paranasal sinuses of at least 12 weeks duration. The group of CRS disorders annually accounts for as many as 22 million office visits and more than 500,000 emergency department visits in the U.S., according to some estimates.

Questionnaires were provided to 75 patients over a two-month period. The questionnaire consisted of demographic information and whether they had ever used CAM from a list of 49 herbal and non-herbal alternative therapies (such as acupuncture, massage, aloe vera, and cod liver oil). Subjects were also asked why they used CAM, where they learned of CAM, whether they found it efficacious, and whether their general practitioner was aware they were using it.

Sixty-five percent of patients had used CAM. Thirty percent of patients used it for chronic rhinosinusitis. Women were significantly more likely to use CAM than men, according to the statistics. Patients who were employed, married, and had university degrees were also more likely to use CAM. Only 43 percent of CAM users had informed their doctor about the use of the therapy.

Researchers noted that patients were reticent about telling their physician about usage of CAM. Clinicians should enquire as to all the medications being taken by patients, and the dangers of non- compliance with conventional medications should be emphasized to CAM users by their treating physician.

Most Babies Born This Century Will Live to 100

Most Babies Born This Century Will      Live to 100


Most babies born in rich countries this century will eventually make it
to their 100th birthday, new research says. Danish experts say that
since the 20th century, people in developed countries are living about
three decades longer than in the past. Surprisingly, the trend shows
little sign of slowing down.

In an article published Friday in the medical journal Lancet, the researchers write that the process of aging may be “modifiable.”

James
Vaupel of the Max Planck Institute in Germany and colleagues in Denmark
examined studies published globally in 2004-2005 on numerous issues
related to aging. They found life expectancy
is increasing steadily in most countries, even beyond the limits of
what scientists first thought possible. In Japan, for instance, which
has the world’s longest life expectancy, more than half of the
country’s 80-year-old women are expected to live to 90.

“Improvements in health care
are leading to ever slowing rates of aging, challenging the idea that
there is a fixed ceiling to human longevity,” said David Gems, an aging
expert at University College London. Gems was not connected to the
research, and is studying drugs that can lengthen the life span of
mice, which may one day have applications for people.

“Laboratory
studies of mice, including our own, demonstrate that if you slow aging
even just a little, it has a strong protective effect,” he said. “A
pill that slowed aging could provide protection against the whole gamut
of aging-related diseases.”

While illnesses affecting the elderly like heart disease, cancer
and diabetes are rising, advances in medical treatment are also making
it possible for them to remain active for longer. The obesity epidemic,
however, may complicate matters. Extra weight makes people more
susceptible to diseases and may increase their risk of dying.

In
the U.S., data from 1982 to 2000 showed a major drop in illness and
disability among the elderly, though that has now begun to reverse,
probably linked to the rise in obesity.

The
graying population will slowly radically transform society, and
retirement ages may soon be pushed back, said Richard Suzman, an aging
expert at the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

“We
are within five to 10 years of a watershed event where there will be
more people on earth over 65 than there under five,” he said. “Those
extra years need to be financed somehow and we need to start thinking
about it now.”

Innovative, Low-Cost Medical and Diagnostic Tests

In the developing world, the availability of many medical technologies is limited by cost, durability, and ease-of-use. This is especially true of expensive diagnostic devices, which are critical for detecting diseases that are endemic in developing countries. However, researchers are working to develop low-cost, user-friendly alternatives that could improve the ability of healthcare providers to diagnose a range of conditions.

Harvard researchers have developed an alternative microfluidic device that replaces standard silicon, glass, or plastic substrates with treated paper. Fluids flow through the microchannels in the paper device in the same way that they would in a standard chip. Researchers have used the device to test for glucose and protein in urine, but hope to adapt it for the possibility of testing blood samples for HIV/AIDS, dengue fever, or hepatitis. While a traditional microfluidic device costs between $10 and $1,000USD, the materials to create the paper devices, known as microPADS, cost only three cents. The design of the microPAD device allows for several tests to be conducted simultaneously, furthering the cost and resource savings.

To help better diagnose infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, researchers have developed a microscope that attaches to any cellular telephone with a camera feature. The device, known as a CellScope, is able to illuminate pathogens in a sample treated with fluorescent molecular “tags.” It is estimated that the production of first CellScopes will cost roughly $1,000 each, but with further developments the price could drop to just a few hundred dollars, including the cell phone. Not only can an individual use the microscope to view the pathogens, but they can also send an image to a healthcare facility for assistance making an appropriate diagnostic determination.

Efforts have also been made by scientists at the Burnet Institute to improve HIV-testing procedures. A prototype monitoring test has been designed for use in remote settings. The new test, which uses a finger-prick blood sample, allows individuals to determine their CD4+ T-cell count within 30 minutes. The CD4+ T-cells are critical for healthy immune system function and their levels are a deciding factor with regard to starting anti-retroviral therapy. Standard CD4 tests are often not available in the developing world due to their cost, the need for specialized equipment and trained personnel, and the long wait period to obtain test results.

Though these diagnostic technologies offer improvements in the developing world, as The Wall Street Journal reports, acceptance may be slower in the United States. Some researchers have found success when applying African healthcare models to rural areas of the U.S., and results using low-cost technologies originally conceived for use in the developing world may follow this trend. The use of innovative low-cost testing methods may also assist with telemedicine initiatives, as they allow healthcare providers to conduct necessary tests and provide better diagnostic information to consultants. Through discussion among global health experts – as allowed by telemedicine initiatives like iCons in Medicine – innovative diagnostic tools and other cost-saving measures may become more popular, and help to provide improved care worldwide.