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BackPage Online, February 2015

doi: 10.1097/01.BACK.0000460755.75779.60
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Beware of “Sickness Merchants”

A prominent physician from India calls for vigilance against “sickness merchants”—companies and medical professionals that would transform normal health into a disease state through diagnostic testing and half-baked definitions of “pathology.” This is particularly relevant in the spine field where many popular “diagnoses” are actually “guesses” that end up leading to very real but unnecessary treatment. B.M. Hegde, MD, PhD, points out that disease merchants are not just in medical centers. They lie in wait at shopping malls, golf courses, and pop-up clinics. They travel in vans seeking to transform people with osteopenia, everyday aches and pains, abnormal cholesterol levels, or mood problems into patients: http://www.moneylife.in/article/the-disease-called-diagnosis/39065.html

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Universities and Medical Centers Twist Spinal Truths

Everyone agrees that the mass media do a poor job of transmitting accurate information about scientific studies—through sensational and unrealistic reporting. And for the longest time journalists and their news outlets received the lion's share of the blame for the misreporting. However, there is growing evidence that universities and medical centers are responsible for much of the distorted reporting through hyped up press releases. Here is an editorial from BMJ on this important problem: http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7465.full?ijkey=pdGfXk42ClHVR4e&keytype=ref

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Promoting Discomfort to Prevent Pain

Though scientific studies have never confirmed their effectiveness, ergonomic chairs have been widely promoted as ways of preventing low back problems—and making people comfortable through long hours of sitting in occupational settings. However, a variety of evidence suggests that sitting for long periods has deleterious effects—particularly for cardiovascular and skeletal health. And companies are now developing chairs that are intentionally uncomfortable and unstable. For more on this intriguing strategy, see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2871334/Would-sit-chair-live-longer-Two-legged-design-forces-people-reducing-risk-cancer-heart-disease.html

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