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Surprising New Diabetes Data

The NIH halts the ACCORD trial after finding that more people in the intensive treatment group died than in the standard care group

There is a critical question in medicine today: How useful are the widely accepted measures of health? The most common examples are blood pressure, so-called bad cholesterol, and blood sugar in diabetics. The expectation is that lowering these metrics will result in fewer heart attacks and other bad things, and bring longer life. As a result, there is a relentless push to lower the numbers, to make them "better."

But these measures are only surrogates for disease. And in many cases, the connection between "better" numbers and better health is tenuous. In the case of cholesterol, many people won't see a health benefit from lower numbers (BusinessWeek, 1/17/08).