The Danger of Blindly Following Advice

Every week, we receive dozens of e-mails from readers suggesting topics we should cover, challenging something we’ve written, or thanking us for improving their lives.

If you’re one of the many folks who has written in, thank you. We read every single e-mail.

We try to cover topics that will help as many people as possible… but keep in mind that we can’t give personalized advice, simply because we don’t know your personal situation.

After our recent issue on the dangers of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – This Popular Heartburn Drug Could Kill, Part II – one of our readers pointed out that for some people, PPIs are an essential part of maintaining their health.

Today, we’re addressing the importance of taking stock of your circumstances before using our advice.

Keep sending your comments, questions, and suggestions to [email protected]. And if you agree with what we have to say, forward our e-mail to a friend (if they’re interested, they can sign up right here).

Q: I’m a gastroenterologist. I appreciated your remarks concerning PPIs and dementia. As you mentioned there is only an association, not a cause and effect. I do take issue with some of the other comments you make about PPIs.

Many of my patients read these articles, heed the advice, stop their medications and then come running back to see me weeks later complaining that their reflux is out of control and they have to get back on their Nexium. I do use H2 blockers, but they can be woefully inadequate in patients with pathologic GERD and patients with atypical reflux. – N.P.

A: Thanks for writing in, N.P. Your question reminded us of a similar concern someone sent in about our stance on cholesterol.

It’s a good reminder of our primary goal at Retirement Millionaire Daily: for you, as a reader, to use our research to empower yourself.

Remember, no one will look out for your health better than you will. It’s our job to provide you with the research so you can take control of your health and wealth. We always encourage our readers to look at the studies we mention and read as much as they can before making a decision.

In the case of proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), we explained there’s a lot of evidence building that they aren’t as safe as we once thought.

The biggest problem with PPIs is how often they’re overprescribed. We’ve seen studies in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy and the British journal BMJ citing that 60% to 70% of patients taking PPIs don’t have the symptoms approved for the drug to treat.

In other words, many people take PPIs for occasional heartburn or to prevent heartburn from starting – neither of which is an indicated use.

People who take PPIs for their intended use, like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or ulcers in the digestive system, should continue to take their medications.

But if you’re not one of those people, consider switching to an H2 antagonist or try out some of the more natural treatments we covered. If those don’t work, PPIs might be your only option. Just be sure to understand the risks and take measures to protect your health, like eating right, exercising, and controlling stress levels.

And always take the time to understand what pills you’re taking, what they are for, and what the risks are. Write them down and keep that list handy. And if you have concerns, go over them with your doctor before completely stopping a drug.

Q: In your article [yesterday], you stated that Medicare part D covers the shingles vaccine as well as all other vaccines. I have been repeatedly told by pharmacists at Walmart, Costco and Safeway that Medicare does not cover the shingles vaccine. – D.L.

A: Medicare Part D is required to cover the shingles vaccine if you are 65 or older. But, and this is a big but, remember that there are dozens of different Part D plans you can choose. That means the rules may be different. For instance, one plan may not cover vaccines at certain pharmacies, and another might charge more for going to your primary care doctor.

We suggest calling your primary care doctor first and see what he can do for you. Or call your Part D provider directly and ask exactly which pharmacies it works with to cover shingles vaccines.

Q: I enjoyed your advice on this issue. Being a complete beginner to investing, I’m very thankful for your insight!

My question is: Where can I easily find the information on companies that you suggest? I see the P/E ratio stated on Yahoo Finance but the other three escape me. – B.J.

A: Thanks for your feedback. We’re glad you enjoyed our issue on the Four Simple Rules of Thumb to Stop Losing Money.

In our office, we have access to lots of financial systems to give us information on companies through services like Bloomberg and Capital IQ. So sometimes, you might see some information in our research that’s not easy to find for free online.

But in this case, there’s a free service – Finviz – you can use to look up some basic statistics on a company. On finviz.com, you can find the price-to-book ratio, price-to-sales ratio, and the payout ratio. (You can also find the payout ratio on Yahoo Finance under “Key Statistics.”)

Q: Thanks for the health tidbits, besides the BEST investment newsletters on the market!

What is the preparation the reader saying/asking about named “turmeric extract”? Is that some sort of concentrate in a supplement form? Do you just recommend sprinkling some turmeric on food? – M.M.

A: Thanks for the compliment and for your subscription.

There are turmeric supplements, but I don’t recommend taking them… As with most things, moderation is key. Turmeric is no different. Some side effects of too much turmeric are diarrhea and gallbladder contractions. Turmeric also acts as a blood thinner, with possible excessive bleeding. Although, you’d have to consume a lot of turmeric to make it that dangerous – more than I imagine you could eat.

As I mentioned last week, you can sprinkle the spice on food. And if you’re a curry fan, there’s turmeric in that. Recently, I started drinking a mix of pomegranate acai-berry concentrate, ginger, turmeric, and seltzer water a few times a week.

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