More Fish Hit High-Mercury List

Carolina has found elevated levels of mercury in yellow perch and black crappie—love the name—encouraging people to eat less of them. EMaxHealth has more:
Two more types of freshwater fish in southeastern North Carolina have been found to have elevated levels of mercury. They are yellow perch caught south and east of Interstate highway 85, and black crappie caught south and east of I-95. State public health officials are urging pregnant women and children to avoid eating those fish altogether, and urging others to limit their consumption of those fish to no more than one meal a week.

The two species join a growing list of freshwater and saltwater fish that are high in mercury. The state’s high-mercury list now includes the following freshwater fish: blackfish (bowfin), wild catfish, jack fish (chain pickerel), warmouth and yellow perch south and east of I-85 and largemouth bass across the state, as well as black crappie south and east of I-95.

Ocean fish on the state’s high-mercury list include canned white tuna (albacore tuna), all fresh or frozen tuna, almaco jack, banded rudderfish, cobia, crevalle jack, greater amberjack, South Atlantic grouper (gag, scamp, red and snowy), king mackerel, ladyfish, little tunny, marlin, orange roughy, shark, Spanish mackerel, swordfish and tilefish.
As a fisherman—and a bad one at that—mercury contamination worries me. For reference, here’s Dr. Fuhrman’s list of fish with the highest mercury levels. Take a look:

        • Tilefish
        • Swordfish
        • Mackerel
        • Shark
        • White snapper
        • Tuna
And the lowest levels of mercury:

        • Salmon
        • Flounder
        • Sole
        • Tilapia
        • Trout
Now, if you want to know more about water pollution and mercury contamination, check out our friends at OceansAlive.org.

Health Points: Wednesday

The new study involving nearly 39,000 women helps sort out the combined effects of physical activity and body mass on women's chances of developing heart disease, said Gulati, who wasn't involved in the research.

The study by Harvard-affiliated researchers appears in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

Participants were women aged 54 on average who filled out a questionnaire at the study's start detailing their height, weight and amount of weekly physical activity in the past year, including walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming. They were then tracked for about 11 years. Overall 948 women developed heart disease.
Numerous claims have been made about water — that it prevents headaches, removes dangerous “poisons,” improves the function of various organs and is associated with reduced risk for various diseases. But none of these is supported by scientific evidence. The authors were not even able to find a study leading to the “eight glasses a day” rule, whose origin remains unknown.


The researchers, in the June issue of The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, say some studies have found evidence that drinking extra water helps the kidneys clear sodium, and long-term sodium retention might increase the risk of hypertension, but no clinical significance for the phenomenon has been established. Water also helps clear urea, but urea is not a toxin.

I never used to be a napper. In fact, daytime slumber was virtually beyond a congenitally wired type like me. My buddies would catch 40 winks on the long bus ride home from our high school, but for me that was out of the question. With age, however, my metabolism has changed. After the double whammy of a late-morning run and lunch, I'm pretty much a goner. I lie down and nod off in much the same way that Marlene Dietrich fell in love in that old song of hers: because I can't help it.


While it lasted, though, my nap resistance put me in sync with the American way of sleep: Do it all at once and strictly at night. Traditionally, we've begrudged ourselves naps. They may be forced on toddlers, recommended for pregnant women and tolerated among senior citizens with nothing better to do, but they've been frowned upon for worker bees in their prime. Recently, however, sleep scientists have discovered advantages to napping, which they view not just as solace but also as something akin to brain food. No longer written off as a cop-out for the weak and the bored, the nap is coming into its own as an element of a healthy life.
If only the millions of others beset with chronic health problems recognized the inestimable value to their physical and emotional well-being of regular physical exercise.


“The single thing that comes close to a magic bullet, in terms of its strong and universal benefits, is exercise,” Frank Hu, epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the Harvard Magazine.
A House-Senate conference committee claims it's getting closer to adopting a bill that would ban smoking in most Pennsylvania workplaces, but it can't seem to close the deal.


The deeply divided six-member committee had planned to meet today to vote on compromise legislation to prohibit people from lighting up in most workplaces and public places.

But late yesterday, the chairman called off the meeting, saying the bill still isn't ready despite months of negotiations.

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, a staunch critic of smoking, said the delay should only be for "a short period," meaning, probably, a few days.
According to an analysis of government statistics being released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the average dollar amount employees must pay per year for family health coverage went up by 30 percent from 2001 to 2005. During that time, incomes increased by just 3 percent.


"Nationally, insurance premium costs are going up ten times faster than people's incomes," said RWJF spokesman Michael Berman. "And in some regions, the gap is even greater. So what we've tried to do with this report is highlight for the nation's leaders what families already know; that it's getting harder and harder to afford health insurance in America."
Perhaps because Mayor Bloomberg's plan for congestion pricing in New York City has failed, the Big Apple is now trying to make up for it by becoming more bicycle-friendly. As it is, 112,000 New Yorkers bicycle on an average day, an increase of 10% over the last decade. The proposal, which is part of a new Department of Transportation strategic plan, hopes to double that number by 2015, as well as
  • Add 200 miles worth of new bicycle lane between 2007 and 2009
  • Install 37 bicycle shelters and 5,000 bike parking racks by 2011
  • Install 15 additional miles of protected on-street bike lanes by 2010 and 30 miles from 2011 to 2015
The company declined to discuss details in the so-called not approvable letter from the Food and Drug Administration. It would not comment on whether the agency had asked for further data or new clinical trials.


The drug, which was expected to be called Cordaptive, combines long-acting niacin with a new drug that prevents the flushing side effect common to niacin -- an uncomfortable sensation of burning in the face and neck that leads many patients to discontinue taking it.

Analysts widely expected the drug to be approved, especially after a committee of European regulators last week recommended it be cleared for sale there.
It's far from the only strength-boosting exoskeleton out there, but Honda's so-called "walking assist device" is one of the few that you can actually take for a test spin -- if you happen to be attending the Barrier Free 2008 trade show in Osaka, Japan next week, that is. Apparently employing some of the same technology developed by Honda for its ASIMO robot, the walking assistant is able to obtain information from hip angle sensors to help keep its wearer upright, with the device's motors also able to increase the wearer's natural stride. That, Honda says, should make the device ideal for the elderly or those with weakened leg muscles, although we're sure they could find at least a few other buyers if it ever actually hits the market at a reasonable price.
What follows are 10 of the tips for sabotaging the stress in your life, every one somehow related to nutrition and fitness.
  1. Eat a healthy breakfast
  2. Eat more fiber
  3. Eat oatmeal
  4. Eat almonds
  5. Drink black tea
  6. Hydrate
  7. Stretch
  8. Exercise
  9. Do yoga
  10. Sleep
Broccoli also contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane, indoles, kaempferol and isothiocyanates (they'll be a test later). These difficult-to-pronounce compounds have significant anti-cancer and other health effects. Here's what the literature says about it:
  • Men who ate more than a serving of either broccoli or cauliflower each week almost halved their risk of developing advanced-stage prostate cancer
  • Broccoli appear to have a unique ability to eliminate Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) - a bacteria responsible for ulcers. It has even been shown to eliminate Helicobacter when resistant to antibiotics.
  • Crucifers, including broccoli provide significant cardiovascular benefit. Those who diets most frequently included broccoli, tea, onions, and apples-the richest sources of flavonoids-gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease.
The administration's decision to give the Defense Department and other agencies an early role in the process adds to years of delay in acting on harmful chemicals and jeopardizes the program's credibility, the Government Accountability Office concluded.


At issue is the EPA's screening of chemicals used in everything from household products to rocket fuel to determine if they pose serious risk of cancer or other illnesses.

A new review process begun by the White House in 2004 is adding more speed bumps for EPA scientists, the GAO said in its report, which will be the subject of a Senate Environment Committee hearing Tuesday. A formal policy effectively doubling the number of steps was adopted two weeks ago.

Food Dye and Flavored Milk--Why Bother?

Here’s an odd item. New research claims food dye may protect against cancer. From New Scientist:
Gayle Orner at Oregon State University in Corvallis added the carcinogens dibenzopyrene (DBP) or aflatoxin to the feed of trout for one month, with or without the food dyes Red 40 - one of six recently linked to hyperactivity in children - or Blue 2.

Nine months later, trout that had been fed either of the dyes in combination with aflatoxin had 50 per cent fewer liver tumours, compared with those that had been exposed to aflatoxin alone. Trout that had been fed DBP in combination with Red 40 had a 50 per cent lower incidence of stomach cancer and a 40 per cent lower incidence of liver cancer.

"The public perception is that food dyes are bad, but some of them may have good points as well," says Orner, who presented her results at the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego, California, last week.
Bizarre and about to get bizarre-er. Apparently flavored milk may be just as “healthy” as plain milk. Reuters reports:
Using national survey data on more than 7,500 2- to 18-year-olds, researchers found that those who drank flavored milk had similar intakes of calcium, vitamin A, potassium and saturated fat as those who drank only plain milk.


And both groups, the study found, got more of these nutrients than children who drank no milk at all.

One reason parents might be wary of chocolate or strawberry milk is that the added sugar might encourage excess weight gain. But in this study, milk drinkers and non-drinkers had a similar average body mass index (BMI), the researchers report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
These studies are exactly the kind of junk-science that causes people to run out and buy harmful food—in this case dye and milk—for starters, milk is no health food. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
There are many good reasons not to consume dairy. For example, there is a strong association between diary lactose and ischemic heart disease.1 There is also a clear association between high-growth-promoting foods such as dairy products and cancer. There is a clear association between milk consumption and testicular cancer.2 Dairy fat is also loaded various toxins and is the primary source of our nation’s high exposure to dioxin.3 Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical compound that even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits is a prominent cause of many types of cancer in those consuming dairy fat, such as butter and cheese.4 Cheese is also a power inducer of acid load, which increases calcium loss further.5
Now, as for food dye, listen, if you’re really looking to prevent cancer, just stick with fruits and veggies. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Foods are nutrient dense when they contain a high level of micronutrients per calorie. Vegetables win the award for the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Therefore, as you move forward in your quest for nutritional excellence, you will eat more and more vegetables. In containing the most nutrients per calorie, vegetables have the most powerful association with protection from heart disease and cancer.
Flavored milk and food dye? Welcome to bizarro world.
Continue Reading...

Bottle Maker Nalgene Sued

You knew it would happen, but more trouble for sports bottle maker Nalgene. Nalge Nunc International Corp is being sued over the use of Bisphenol A (BPA). Reuters reports:
A California mother sued Nalge Nunc International Corp, claiming the company knew, but downplayed risks, that a toxic substance in its popular Nalgene plastic sports bottles could leach into the bottles' contents and sicken consumers.

The case, filed on Tuesday, is believed to be the first consumer class action over the use of Bisphenol A, or BPA, in plastic sports bottles since Canada moved to ban baby bottles containing the substance and the U.S. government expressed concern over its safety last week…

…The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, accuses Nalge Nunc of continuing to assert that BPA is safe long after dozens of studies linked the substance to hormone disruptions, infertility, early puberty, and cancer.

The lawsuit was brought by Lani Felix-Lozano, who said she bought the company's reusable beverage containers for herself and her two daughters, now ages 11 and 13, for several years.
To be on the safe side, I was at the store looking at stainless-steel water bottles yesterday—a tad pricey!
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Health Points: Wednesday


Life expectancy has declined for many women in the United States, largely due to smoking-related diseases and obesity, a study published Tuesday showed.

Nearly one in five US women saw the number of years they are expected to live decline or hold steady, starting in the 1980s, showed the joint study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington.

The study looked at data from more than 2,000 county "units" between 1959 and 2001.
BPA migrates into food from polycarbonate plastic bottles or the epoxy resin coatings that line canned food. The typical adult ingests an estimated 1 microgram of BPA for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Babies who use polycarbonate bottles and formula from cans get more, an estimated 10 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. A microgram represents a trace amount. Consider this: a single M&M is about a gram. If you cut it into 100,000 slices, one slice would equal about 10 micrograms.


The 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of urine samples collected from more than 2,500 adults and children over 6.
Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer wasn't able to estimate how many additional cattle might be affected by a total ban, and the overall economic impact is difficult to calculate, though Mark Dopp, of the American Meat Institute, said it wasn't expected to be significant. Dairy farmers get several hundred dollars for each cow they sell for slaughter.


Undercover video taken at Westland/Hallmark Meat in Chino, Calif., showed workers shocking cattle and pushing them with forklifts to force them to slaughter. That led to the recall of 143 million pounds of beef, though authorities said the health risks were minimal.

Downer cows are more prone to infections such as mad-cow disease, partly because they typically wallow in feces.

On average, food racks up about 1,000 food miles (or 1,650 "food kilometers") traveling from farms to processing or packaging plants before reaching Americans' dinner plates, the study estimates.


The whole supply chain—including delivering grains to feed cattle and delivering fuel to farms, for example—adds another 4,200 miles (6,750 kilometers).

Yet all that shipping, driving, and flying accounts for only a sliver of foods' climate impact—just 11 percent of the total—compared with the impact from producing the food itself, the study showed.
About 180 people who ate at a Chipotle restaurant near Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, became sick with a gastrointestinal illness, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Health officials began investigating the outbreak after people started arriving at local emergency rooms complaining of diarrhea, nausea, and severe vomiting.


Many of those affected were Kent State students who had eaten burritos at the restaurant on Thursday and Friday. Some had donated blood and gotten a coupon for free food at the restaurant, according to WLWT, the Cincinnati NBC affiliate.
While most environmentalists take aim at plastic, paper comes from trees, and processing bags creates greenhouse gases.


So, Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman points out, the best bag is the one you can use again and again -- provided you remember to bring it with you to the store -- and can get out of the habit of using them!

Some are even becoming fashion statements! The now chic "I'm not a plastic bag" by designer Anya Hindmarch quickly sold out in London and New York at $15 each, but are readily available at more than double that price on eBay!

In our post on Bisphenol A from Nalgene water bottles and other polycarbonate bottles, a number of commenters asked about the lining in SIGG aluminum bottles, expressing concern that their linings might leach BPA. So we asked them, and received a response from the CEO, Steve Wasik. He says that SIGG uses a proprietary liner formula from a Swiss supplier with "an impeccable reputation for quality" but that "as there are many copy-cat manufacturers in the market (most based in China) that would like to get their hands on this formula, our supplier has an agreement with SIGG to keep his formula confidential."


Wasik continues: "Very thorough migration testing in laboratories around the world is conducted regularly and has consistently shown SIGG aluminum bottles to have no presence of lead, phthalates, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Bysphenol A (BPA), Bysphenol B (BPB) or any other chemicals which scientists have deemed as potentially harmful.
Breakfast cereals for children are less healthy than cereals meant for adults, and those marketed the most aggressively to kids have the worst nutritional quality, according to a new analysis of 161 brands.


"The cereal the parent is eating him or herself is probably better than what they're feeding their child," Dr. Marlene B. Schwartz of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters Health.

Schwartz and her colleagues also found that health claims made for kids' cereals were often misleading. Cereals sold as "low fat" or "low sugar" were not lower in calories, as parents might assume, and while brands touted as "whole grain" did have more fiber, they had just as much salt, sugar and fat as other brands and the same calorie content.
New Yorkers handed over $45 million in internet sales tax last year alone. Still, that’s less than half of what the government thinks it’s owed.


So, starting in June, 2008, New York will require the largest online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases shipped to the Empire State.

Japanese farmers have had somewhat better luck with the honor system, which they employ in thousands of unmanned produce stands across the country. Many of the stands see payment rates approaching 90 percent. But in Japan, as in New York, the free ride may be coming to an end, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports, as farmers start to insist on being paid in full.
In an analysis of pooled data from previous clinical trials, researchers in the Netherlands found that when healthy adults older than 55 improved their fitness through aerobic exercise, there was also often an improvement in memory, attention or other mental abilities.


The findings appear in the Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.

Aerobic exercise is any activity, such as brisk walking, that gets the heart rate up and improves endurance, over time. This type of exercise has proven benefits for the heart.

Smog Could Kill You!



How’s that for drama? But seriously, scientists have determined that short-term exposure to smog—or ozone—is clearly linked to premature deaths. More from the Associated Press:
The findings contradict arguments made by some White House officials that the connection between smog and premature death has not been shown sufficiently and that the number of saved lives should not be calculated in determining clean air benefits.

The report released Tuesday by a panel of the Academy's National Research Council says government agencies "should give little or no weight" to such arguments.

"The committee has concluded from its review of health-based evidence that short-term exposure to ambient ozone is likely to contribute to premature deaths," the 13-member panel said.

It added that "studies have yielded strong evidence that short-term exposure to ozone can exacerbate lung conditions, causing illness and hospitalization and can potentially lead to death."
For more toxic drama, check out yesterday’s post Toxins: In the Turf, Homes, Air, and Pesticides.
Tags:

Toxins: In the Turf, Homes, Air, and Pesticides


"We don't have the winds that blow things out of the air," Chang said. "The stuff we put into the atmosphere lingers longer."

He compared the air quality in many big cities to a chemical soup of thousands of compounds, including ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. The Environmental Protection Agency describes ground-level ozone as the primary component of smog. It includes motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents.

Chang's office is responsible for monitoring air quality and issuing smog alerts in Atlanta. He also tries to educate residents by telling them to pay attention to the warnings.

"Jogging late in the afternoon during the summer is not the best time," Michael Chang, an atmospheric research scientist at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, said. "Ground-level ozone is at its worst at that time of day."

Two fields in New Jersey were closed this week after state health officials detected what they said were unexpectedly high levels of lead in the synthetic turf and raised fears that athletes could swallow or inhale fibers or dust from the playing surface.


The artificial-turf industry denied its products are dangerous. But the CPSC it is investigating.

"We have a great deal of interest into any consumer product that could be used by children where children could potentially be in harm's way because of lead exposure," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

One would think that a standard coming from the EPA would care about health and air quality instead of energy (isn't that another department?) but no, they recommend tightly sealing houses to reduce air leakage, the biggest energy loser. A leaky old house might change the air once an hour; a tightly sealed house designed for Energy Star might be as little as 1/100 of an air change per hour.


What happens when you don't change the air enough? The concentration of toxic chemicals gets higher. Formaldehyde, as an example, found in particle board, MDF, (medium density fibreboard) fabrics, glues and paints, and most fiberglass insulation.

Results of a family-based, case-control study support a relationship between pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease (PD).


In a statement issued by BioMed Central, lead author Dr. Dana Hancock from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina notes, "Previous studies have shown that individuals with Parkinson's disease are over twice as likely to report being exposed to pesticides as unaffected individuals, but few studies have looked at this association in people from the same family or have assessed associations between specific classes of pesticides and PD."

In a study of 319 PD patients and more than 200 unaffected relatives, Dr. Hancock and colleagues found that the PD patients were significantly more likely to report direct pesticide application (odds ratio, 1.61).

Pesticides: Best and Worst, Fruits and Veggies...

Health Points: Monday


“Based on all available scientific evidence, we continue to believe that Nalgene products containing BPA are safe for their intended use,” Steven Silverman, the general manager of the Nalgene unit, said in a statement. “However, our customers indicated they preferred BPA-free alternatives, and we acted in response to those concerns.”

The National Toxicology Program in the United States released a draft report on Tuesday reporting that some rats that were fed or injected with low doses of the chemical developed precancerous tumors and urinary tract problems and reached puberty early. While the report said the animal tests provided “limited evidence,” it also noted that the “possibility that bisphenol-a may alter human development cannot be dismissed.”
The current U.S. flu season has been the worst in four years, due, in part, to a vaccine that was not a good match for certain circulating strains of flu virus, U.S. health officials said Thursday.


For strains of influenza A (H3N2) -- the most prevalent virus during the 2007-08 season, the vaccine was 58 percent effective. But it was 100 percent ineffective against influenza B infections, leaving an overall vaccine success rate of about 44 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The tests do not show that drinking water is unsafe. But they do raise important questions for regulators and city officials aware of growing concerns about potential health effects from long-term exposure to drugs in our drinking water, even at very low levels.


"There are many unknowns," said Dana Kolpin, a researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey who conducted some of the first tests that found pharmaceuticals in municipal water supplies. "On one hand, levels of specific substances are very low and appear to be nothing to worry about. But the question is whether mixtures of many substances could build to a point where there could be some harmful effects."
But the Professor Woodpecker series, the brand new set of children's books from H and T Imaginations Unlimited, Inc., is out to change that. In the first three of the planned six book series -- "Professor Woodpecker's Banana Sandwiches"; "Green Apples, Red Apples, Yellow Apples and More"; and "Professor Woodpecker Loves Cereal" (published by AuthorHouse -- www.authorhouse.com) -- Professor Woodpecker shares invaluable nutritional advice and ideas with children everywhere, and no one is better equipped to share such dietary wisdom than clever and caring Professor Woodpecker.


Authoritative yet fun, educational yet entertaining, Professor Woodpecker serves as a role model and teacher for children and those around them who help make their nutritional decisions, like parents and grandparents. Each book features the wise and witty professor, who -- while carrying on fun activities and conversations -- introduces children to important information regarding wholesome nutrition.
"If the House and Gov. Rod Blagojevich go along, foods cooked with trans fat would be banned starting in July 2009. Such food would be prohibited in school vending machines a year later.


"State Board of Education spokesman Matt Vanover said the ban may not have a big effect on school menus because manufacturers have been shying away from the substance for several years.

"Trans fat is a man-made product that improves the taste and texture of foods, but is known to raise bad cholesterol while attacking good cholesterol. It also contributes to heart disease and diabetes."

This is the scene at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, where students attend weekly adaptive yoga class. Derived from traditional yoga, poses are modified for those with disabilities or health conditions.


Hundreds of miles away, longtime instructor Karen O'Donnell Clarke says the limitations could have a number of sources: multiple sclerosis (which she has), a sports injury, fibromyalgia or even a sedentary lifestyle. Post-surgical conditions, Parkinson's disease, stroke and arthritis may also cause some impairment. "Pretty much if you name a health condition, yoga can help with it," she says.

Physical therapist Sarah Knopf says the class' popularity is due to many patients asking what else they can be doing to strengthen their bodies or overcome a health challenge quicker.
Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York found that people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood experience an increased risk for a condition known as peripheral artery disease, or PAD.


PAD most often reduces blood flow to the legs, causing pain and numbness, impairing the ability to walk and in some cases leading to amputation. It develops when fatty deposits accumulate in the inner linings of artery walls, cutting blood flow and oxygen to the legs, feet, arms and elsewhere.

The researchers based the findings on a U.S. government health survey involving 4,839 adults who had their blood vitamin D levels measured and underwent a screening method for PAD that assesses blood flow to the legs.

I finally had a chance to use a Wii. After getting over some initial embarrassment, I had an awful lot of fun! I tried the tennis game and, sadly enough, I'm as bad at virtual tennis as I am on an actual tennis court. While the Wii was certainly more active than playing any other video game system, it wasn't nearly the same type of exercise as a real sport.


Both Bev and Bethany have written about the exercise potential in the interactive gaming system before. And, compared to sitting like a lump playing regular video games, the Wii is a great thing. But it doesn't take the place of real exercise. The active games are a great alternative to regular video games. Also, many of the games aren't violence based -- as a parent, I know I appreciate that. They also offer hand-eye coordination benefits. And, for kids (or adults) who aren't active at all, the games may be a stepping stone for developing interest in real sports.

Canada Doesn't like BPA


Canada has declared Bisphenol A, a chemical is used to make polycarbonate bottles, as dangerous—is a ban next? TreeHugger is on it:
Martin Mittelstaedt of the Globe and Mail writes "Independent researchers in dozens of studies have linked trace BPA exposures in animal and test-tube experiments to conditions involving hormone imbalances, including breast and prostate cancer, early puberty and changes in brain structure, particularly for exposures during key points of fetal or early neonatal development.

Until now, regulators in other countries have accepted the industry's assertion that BPA is harmless at the tiny, parts-per-billion type exposures from canned food and plastic beverage containers. A part per billion is roughly equal to one blade of grass on a football field, although natural hormones such as estrogen are active at far lower concentrations, around a part per trillion."
BPA is quite the crown prince of bad news. Just get a load of all this:
Yeah, BPA—BAD!
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Health Points: Wednesday

The Institute of Medicine report found there are only about 7,100 doctors certified in geriatrics in the United States, 1 for every 2,500 older Americans.

The report urged that all health care workers be trained in basic geriatric care and that schools increase training in the treatment of older patients.

And it said pay for geriatric specialists, doctors, nurses and care workers needs to be increased.

A doctor specializing in elderly care earned $163,000 on average in 2005 compared with $175,000 for a general internist, even though the geriatric specialist required more training.
If approved, vaccination will take place before the end of the fiscal year in March 2009, and mark the first case in the world in which the vaccines -- based on strains of the H5N1 virus from China and Indonesia -- have been given to such a large group of people prior to a possible pandemic.


Japan has stockpiled vaccines for 10 million people using strains of the H5N1 virus from China, Indonesia and Vietnam. So far the government's stance has been to use them only after a breakout.
Complete cloud cover halves the energy of ultraviolet rays, and shade reduces it by 60 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health…


…To strike a balance between useful exposure and protection, the N.I.H. recommends an initial exposure of 10 to 15 minutes, followed by application of a sunscreen with an S.P.F. of at least 15. The institutes say this much exposure, at least two times a week, is usually sufficient to provide adequate vitamin D, though some researchers suggest it may not be enough. At the earth’s northern latitudes for much of the year, and at the midlatitudes in winter, the sun does not stay far enough above the horizon (45 degrees) for the angle of the sun’s rays to guarantee an efficient ultraviolet-B bath. Northerners may have to rely on the vitamin D synthesized in the summer or on foods and supplements.
Dental practices may be a source of a dangerous form of mercury contamination in the water supply, a small study suggests.


In tests of wastewater from two dental practices, researchers at the University of Illinois found high levels of methylated mercury -- a chemically altered form of the metal that is toxic to the brain and nervous system.

Mercury is part of the silver dental fillings that have long been used to treat cavities; in this form, mercury is believed to be safe.
  1. Seattle, Washington: An abundance of fresh local foods, walker-friendly streets, and inclusive attitudes helps make Seattle America's best city for healthy living.
  2. Portland, Oregon: Life is good in our second-ranked city, thanks to its seemingly endless supply of outdoor activities, cutting-edge restaurants, and vibrant environmental consciousness.
  3. Washington, D.C.: Our capital city sets an accommodating agenda with farm-fresh dining, diverse cultures, and ample opportunity for exploration on foot.
  4. Minneapolis, Minnesota: In our fourth-ranked best city, lush parks and shimmering lakes provide a natural backdrop to a rich cultural landscape.
  5. San Francisco, California: Our fifth-ranked city steps up with one of the world's most unforgettable settings–along with great cuisine and an energetic spirit.
So why is belly fat so bad for your brain? Although it makes up less than 5% of total body fat, belly or visceral fat is nestled around the heart, pancreas, and other organs, according to Tongjian You, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of exercise and nutrition sciences at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.


And it's different from other types of fat because it produces all kinds of inflammatory compounds that can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and now, potentially, dementia.

"Visceral fat releases higher amounts of those cytokines, especially interleukin 6, that cause cardiovascular disease and diabetes," says Dr. You, who was not involved in the dementia study. But what's the brain connection? "Inflammation is a contributing factor to dementia, so that's a reasonable link," he says.
  • Cravings can be beaten, just by sitting them out. Force yourself to wait 20 minutes before getting that snack, and nine times out of ten, you'll no longer want it.
  • Find something to do - ideally, an activity that makes it hard to eat at the same time.
  • Find a hobby or interest to occupy you, if you've got too much time on your hands
Roche Holding AG <ROG.VX> will aim to reassure that big-selling drugs can keep driving profit when it kicks off the European earnings season, as big pharma's blockbusters face growing threats.


Weakness in sales of top products will be a theme for European drugmakers, reflecting ageing portfolios, safety issues with certain products and tough conditions for promoting new drugs.

Roche's local rival Novartis AG <NOVN.VX> -- digesting a $39-billion move for eye care company Alcon <ACL.N> to broaden its business as it faces loss of exclusivity on top-seller Diovan for blood pressure -- will likely highlight some of those problems when it reports next week.

Uruguay's Big Barbecue Equals Bad Health


Its official, Uruguay is now the record holder for the world’s largest barbecue. The Associated Press reports:
Some 1,250 Uruguayan grillmeisters sizzled up 26,400 pounds (12,000 kilograms) of beef Sunday, beating a 2006 record set in Mexico.

"It's all so beautiful. It's a record," Guinness World Records judge Danny Girton said after the chefs, in white hats and aprons, smoked and barbecued their way into the record book with help of 6 tons of charcoal and 1,500 metal barbecue stands.

The barbecue was so big that firefighters were called in to light the grills and make sure the flames did not get out of hand. It beat the previous record of 17,600 pounds (8,000 kilograms) of beef, Girton said.
Wow, that’s a BIG health gamble. Barbecuing food—i.e. blackening it—comes with a HUGE price. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in his book Eat For Health:
In the last five years there has been worldwide alarm in the scientific community after researchers have found that many of the foods we eat contain these cancer-causing compounds. Acrylamides form in foods that are browned by being fried, baked, roasted, grilled, or barbequed, but not in those that are steamed, boiled or sautéed in water. Water-based cooking prevents the browning or burning that forms these harmful compounds.


Even though these chemicals have been shown to be potent carcinogens in animal models, so many acrylamides are consumed in the modern world that good research documenting the extent of the cancer risk in humans does not yet exist. This topic is still being actively investigated in many different countries, but the risk is difficult to estimate because baked, browned, and fried foods are so ubiquitous in Western diets.
A backyard cookout is fun, but acrylamides aren’t your friend. This study from the Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition discusses the development of acrylamides:
The exact chemical mechanism(s) for acrylamide formation in heated foods is unknown. Several plausible mechanistic routes may be suggested, involving reactions of carbohydrates, proteins/amino acids, lipids and probably also other food components as precursors. With the data and knowledge available today it is not possible to point out any specific routes, or to exclude any possibilities. It is likely that a multitude of reaction mechanisms is involved. Acrolein is one strong precursor candidate, the origin of which could be lipids, carbohydrates or proteins/amino acids. Acrylamide is a reactive molecule and it can readily react with various other components in the food. The actual acrylamide level in a specific food product, therefore, probably reflects the balance between ease of formation and potential for further reactions in that food matrix. There are indications in support of that the Maillard reaction being an important reaction route for acrylamide formation, but lipid degradation pathways to the formation of acrolein should also be considered.
I’m sorry, but is some silly world record worth the health risks? Which are doubly bad when you consider all the saturated fat, more from Eat For Health:
Saturated fat comes from many food sources, including processed foods, meat, cheese, and other animal products. Thousands of scientific research studies demonstrate that saturated fat promotes both heart disease and cancer and powerfully raises cholesterol.1 It is exceedingly clear that avoiding all fat is not the secret to protecting your heart. It is avoiding saturated fat, trans fat, and processed oils.2 We get heart-healthy fats in their natural, high-antioxidant environment when we eat raw seeds and nuts. Indeed, avocado, nuts, and seeds are rich in fat. They may even contain a small amount of saturated fat, but their consumption is linked to substantial protection against heart disease. But, in the American diet, fats come primarily from meat and dairy, which are saturated, and we compound the problem by the low level of food derived antioxidants and phytochemicals we ingest.
Think about it, the people of Uruguay served up 26,400 pounds of health attacking food—EGAD!
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Health Points: Monday

The nine-member Atlantic City Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve a controversial measure that would prohibit smoking on all casino floors for the first time in the seaside resort's 30-year history of gambling.

The ordinance, which would allow smoking only in specially built nongaming lounges inside casinos, must go before the council again for a second reading April 23. But Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans - who must sign it into law - has publicly stated his support of a total ban and of restricting smoking to the lounges, virtually assuring its final passage.
A form of substance abuse rampant in this country is rarely discussed publicly or privately. It involves abusing legally sold dietary supplements — vitamins, minerals, herbals and homeopathic remedies — all of which can be sold over the counter without prior approval for safety and effectiveness.


Although there was much publicity about the hazards of ephedra, once widely used as a weight-loss aid until it was found to be deadly, many other heralded dietary supplements have the potential for harm, especially when taken in large doses or in various combinations with one another or with medically prescribed prescription drugs.
Now, under the threat of regulation from Congress, the two industries promise to be more forthcoming about their spending. A dozen of the nation's leading drug and device makers have told Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that they have plans or are working on plans to publicly disclose grants to outside groups. The details will be provided on each company's Web sites.


Watchdog groups say the companies are trying to head off legislation that would require public disclosure of their giving.
I know that the whole heart-rate monitoring issue is contentious. Many athletes strap on those slender black bands around the chests. Then they try to keep their rate at some percentage of their maximum, 70 percent, say, or 80 percent, depending on their goals for the workout.


For some activities, like using an elliptical cross-trainer or riding most Spinning bikes at the gym, it can be difficult to gauge your effort without a heart-rate monitor. You can’t figure out speed or distance the way you can if you are swimming in a pool or running or cycling outside. Maybe it’s all that sweating, but it always feels as if you’re working hard even when your heart rate tells you that you could do a lot more.

But experts disagree on whether heart-rate monitoring makes sense.
In the current study, Dr. Mon-Jia Tan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai and colleagues isolated and described several compounds from bitter melon known as cucurbitane triterpenoids, and tested their effects on glucose (sugar) and fat metabolism in cells and in mice.


When tested in muscle and fat cells, the researchers found, the compounds stimulated the glucose receptor GLUT4 to move from the cell interior to the cell surface, thus promoting more effective glucose metabolism. Several of the tested compounds had effects comparable to those of insulin.
Americans didn't suffer more food poisoning last year despite high-profile outbreaks involving peanut butter, pot pies and other foods.


But it's not getting better, either. Although there have been significant declines in certain food-borne illnesses since the late 1990s, all the improvements occurred before 2004, federal health officials said in a report released Thursday.

A food safety advocacy group called the report discouraging.
A top government health official said Wednesday that climate change is expected to have a significant impact on health in the next few decades, with certain regions of the country - and the elderly and children - most vulnerable to increased health problems.


Howard Frumkin, a senior official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave a detailed summary on the likely health impacts of global warming at a congressional hearing. But he refrained from giving an opinion on whether carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, should be regulated as a danger to public health.
University of Michigan researchers have found that tiny little tart cherries can have a big impact on heart health and on diabetes. During the study researchers fed some rats a diet that included tart cherries; a control group of rats ate a diet that was equivalent in carbohydrates and calories but contained no cherries. At the end of the study, the rats who ate cherries had improvements in weight, fat percentage, cholesterol, and inflammation. A reduction in these risk factors is good news for heart health and diabetes.
"The only explanation may be that they are standing more upright, not so much crouching," study chief Dr. Jinsup Song of Temple University told Reuters Health. Song presented the findings April 4 at the Gait and Clinical Movement Analysis Society's Annual Meeting.

While past studies have investigated yoga for helping improve balance in elderly women, Song noted, they have typically used a relatively demanding form of the practice. In the current study, he and his colleague Marian Garfinkel, a certified yoga instructor, worked with B.K.S. Iyengar, the originator of Iyengar Yoga, to develop a program specifically designed for older people. "The poses were very basic -- how to stand upward, how to bend forward, sideways," said Song, who admitted he found some of the poses challenging himself.

Inhaled Insulin, Lung Cancer Risk



Pfizer has announced that clinical trials of Exubera resulted in increased cases of lung cancer. Lewis Krauskopf of Reuters is on it:
Pfizer Inc and Nektar Therapeutics said on Wednesday clinical trials of the inhaled insulin Exubera found increased cases of lung cancer, leading Nektar to stop seeking a marketing partner for the troubled product and abandon it.

Nektar shares tumbled 25 percent, while shares of MannKind Corp, which has been developing its own inhaled insulin, plummeted 58 percent. Pfizer was down slightly at $20.90.

The lung-cancer revelation dealt a final setback to Exubera, which held the promise of letting diabetics avoid needle sticks and was once projected by Pfizer to be a $2 billion-a-year blockbuster. Instead, Exubera has been a commercial flop that has sullied the inhaled insulin field.
Scary, but not that surprising, because—good or bad—Dr. Fuhrman insists all drugs futz with the normal functioning of the body:
In the first pharmacology lecture that I head in medical school, the physician impressed on us that all drugs are toxic and we should never forget this. We were taught that medications work because of their pharmacologic properties—properties that enable the substance to interfere with, block, or stimulate an activity of the body. Drugs typically modify the way the body expresses the signs and symptoms of disease, but in chronic disease states, they do no undo the damage or remove the disease.
My suspicion is this concept often more often than not, takes a backseat to the pursuit of profits and convenience.

Monsanto, Milk of Shadows...

Julie’s Health Club peers into the murky depth of Monsanto’s milk. Check it out:
Following the milk wars between Monsanto and dairy farmers? Or maybe you're just feeling a little concerned that one corporation with a history of deceit could one day control the world's food supply. If so, don't miss Monsanto's Harvest of Fear in the May issue of Vanity Fair piece by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele.


While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says milk from cows treated with the artificial growth hormone called Posilac is safe to drink, it comes with terrible side effects for cows. Monsanto supplied the safety data and long term studies have not been done.
Here’s some of the Vanity Fair article, from Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear:
Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country…


…Monsanto was founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, a tough, cigar-smoking Irishman with a sixth-grade education. A buyer for a wholesale drug company, Queeny had an idea. But like a lot of employees with ideas, he found that his boss wouldn’t listen to him. So he went into business for himself on the side. Queeny was convinced there was money to be made manufacturing a substance called saccharin, an artificial sweetener then imported from Germany. He took $1,500 of his savings, borrowed another $3,500, and set up shop in a dingy warehouse near the St. Louis waterfront. With borrowed equipment and secondhand machines, he began producing saccharin for the U.S. market.
Okay, back to the milk, Monsanto loves Posilac. Via MonsantoDairy.com:
POSILAC® bovine somatotropin has become one of the leading dairy animal health products in the United States and many other countries. Supplementing dairy cows with bovine somatotropin safely enhances milk production and serves as an important tool to help dairy producers improve the efficiency of their operations.

Bovine somatotropin, or bST, is a natural protein produced in the pituitary glands of all cattle and it helps adult cows produce milk. Milk from cows receiving supplemental bST is unchanged and just as wholesome and nutritious as always - full of calcium, protein, phosphorus and vitamins. In fact, the level of bST in milk remains the same.

Because POSILAC benefits large and small herds alike, it can play a critical role in helping farmers with limited resources here and around the world. The use of supplemental bST allows dairy farmers to produce more milk with fewer cows, thereby providing dairy farmers with additional economic security as well as providing related environmental benefits. We encourage you to explore this web site to learn more about POSILAC.
Now, Mindfully.org tells a different tale about artificial cattle hormones. Look:
Twenty-two consumer groups including the Physicians for Social Responsibility have endorsed a ban on artificial growth hormones in dairy cows. They cite studies that indicate treated cows produce milk with an increased second hormone, IGF-1, a hormone which some studies have associated with cancer in humans.


Rick North, director of Oregon's safe food campaign for Physicians for Social Responsibility says, "We don't have 100% proof. But there is a lot of scientific data that gives us great cause for concern."

The Food & Drug Administration has reviewed those studies as recently as the year 2000 and says there is no health impact from the milk of treated cows and that milk is the same from artificial hormone-treated cows and un-treated cows.
This graphic from Mindfully.org shows How Posilac is Made:



The Frankensteining of milk is just one of the many reasons I avoid dairy.

Aerial Pesticides Bring on Health Problems


Since California officials decided to spray for the apple moth, many citizens are now reporting health issues
. More from Jane Kay of The San Francisco Chronicle:
Hundreds of families in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties reported health problems last year after the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture ordered an aerial spray of pesticides containing synthetic insect pheromones and other ingredients in a campaign to eradicate the light brown apple moth.

Planes doused houses, decks, yards, cars, city streets - and anybody who happened to be outside. Afterward, some residents complained of shortness of breath, chest tightness, burning in the throat, eye irritation and muscle and headaches, among other symptoms.

In spite of the complaints, U.S. and state agricultural officials say they intend to aerial spray every county in the Bay Area starting in August. They'll return to Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in June.

California Secretary of Agriculture A.J. Kawamura and federal agriculture officials assert that the pheromone pesticides are safe. Without eradication, they say, the nonnative pest spotted for the first time in the United States in California last year could spread to and damage up to 250 different crops in the state.
If its safe, why are people getting sick?
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Health Points: Tuesday

The number of children who got fat during the two-year experiment was half the number of kids who got fat in schools that didn't make those efforts.

"It's a really dramatic effect from a public health point of view. That's the good news," said Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University and lead author of the Philadelphia schools study being published today in the April issue of Pediatrics.

The bad news: There were still plenty of new overweight kids in the five schools - over 7 percent of them became overweight compared with the 15 percent in the schools that didn't make changes.
The study, done with mice, found that lower doses of estrogen were safer, while moderate and high doses increased the risk of kidney and heart problems.


And although the findings were in rodents, they may provide a glimmer of insight for humans as well.

"It brings to our attention the fact that HRT [hormone replacement therapy] is not something we totally have to dismiss," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "There might be a way to give this more safely to women."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Thursday that its private-label Great Value milk is now being sourced only from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormones, such as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST).


The retailer said its Sam's Club chain also is offering milk selections from suppliers that have pledged not to treat cows with rbST.
People suffering from the addiction—usually those righteous raw foodists, vegetarians and vegans—obsessively check labels, avoid junk food, plan menus and often eat a healthy diet so they can feel "pure." Some even make fun of McDonald's customers.


It gets worse. While an anorexic tries to severely limit calories, an orthorexic might shun foods with artificial ingredients, trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup. Orthorexics also are generally unconcerned about their weight and do not feel fat. Their diet may make them feel virtuous.
Exercise during pregnancy has cardiovascular benefits not just for the mother but for the developing fetus as well, according to research presented Monday at the 121st annual meeting of the American Physiological Society, part of the Experimental Biology 2008 scientific conference.


The results of this pilot study "imply an exciting potential benefit of maternal exercise on fetal cardiac autonomic nervous system regulation," Dr. Linda E. May from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri told Reuters Health.

The autonomic nervous system controls the body's involuntary activities, such as the beating of the heart, blood pressure, breathing rate, and functions in the internal organs.
Not surprisingly, those with a bedroom TV were more apt to watch it a lot, clocking four to five more hours in front of a television per week, the researchers said. Twice as many of the teens with a bedroom TV were classified as heavy TV watchers -- at least five hours a day -- compared to those without one.


Girls with a bedroom television reported getting less vigorous exercise -- 1.8 hours per week compared to 2.5 hours for girls without a TV. They also ate fewer vegetables, drank more sweetened beverages and ate meals with their family less often, the researchers said.

Boys with a bedroom TV reported having a lower grade point average than boys without one, as well as eating less fruit and having fewer family meals, the researchers said.
Oteha Valley primary school, north of Auckland, has banned birthday cakes as part of a larger fat crack-down by the area's Ministry of Education.


Here's why cakes are a problem: Oteha Valley has a large number of pupils born in September and October. As a result, there's the potential for up to four cakes to arrive per week in some classes. Parents were starting to believe they were required to provide a cake for their child's birthday. Since this was both untrue and unhealthy, the school has advised parents in a newsletter to stop sending cakes to school.
During the study, the type 1 diabetics gained weight gained an average of 10.3 pounds and type 2 diabetics gained an average of 4.0. The weight gain could not be explained by a slowing of the body's metabolism, decrease in physical activity, or increase in sugar in the urine, leaving the authors to conclude that it was primarily due to overeating.


They also report that accurate assessment of calorie intake was "severely hampered by the underreporting of food intake, with (reported calorie) intakes being insufficient to meet even (the body's lowest) energy requirements."

Suburb-Eating Robots

You don’t have to be a hippie to worry about overpopulation, pollution, and obesity's effect on our environment. Heck, even the techies are concerned. Introducing, Suburb-Eating Robots! They’re over at ArchitectureMNP:















(via TreeHugger)
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Antibiotic Soil Snacks

I thought antibiotics were supposed to kill bacteria, not give them a tasty treat to eat. Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press explains:
These bacteria outwit antibiotics in a disturbingly novel way, and now the race is on to figure out just how they do it - in case more dangerous germs that sicken people could develop the same ability.


On the other hand, the work explains why the soil doesn't harbor big antibiotic buildups despite use of the drugs in livestock plus human disposal and, well, excretion, too.

"Thank goodness we have those bacteria to eat at least some of the antibiotics," said bacteriologist Jo Handelsman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who wasn't involved in the study. "Nature's pretty effective."

The discovery, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, came about almost by accident.

A team led by Harvard Medical School geneticist George Church has a Department of Energy grant to develop ways to create biofuels from agriculture waste. Plants are full of natural toxins, so the goal was to find microorganisms in soil capable of breaking down certain of those chemicals. To winnow down the strongest candidates, they tried exposing these bacteria to what should have been far more toxic substances, antibiotics.
Is this good or bad? Surely, we don’t want our environment polluted with manmade substances, but doesn't this news also support the theory that our antibiotics are losing their effectiveness?
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Monsanto, Not Your Friend

I don’t trust big business—for example, The Largest U.S. Beef Recall—and Monsanto, a major distributor of genetically modified seeds and pesticides, is one dangerous bully. More from Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele of Vanity Fair:
Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics…


… Most Americans know Monsanto because of what it sells to put on our lawns— the ubiquitous weed killer Roundup. What they may not know is that the company now profoundly influences—and one day may virtually control—what we put on our tables. For most of its history Monsanto was a chemical giant, producing some of the most toxic substances ever created, residues from which have left us with some of the most polluted sites on earth. Yet in a little more than a decade, the company has sought to shed its polluted past and morph into something much different and more far-reaching—an “agricultural company” dedicated to making the world “a better place for future generations.” Still, more than one Web log claims to see similarities between Monsanto and the fictional company “U-North” in the movie Michael Clayton, an agribusiness giant accused in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit of selling an herbicide that causes cancer…

…Monsanto was founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, a tough, cigar-smoking Irishman with a sixth-grade education. A buyer for a wholesale drug company, Queeny had an idea. But like a lot of employees with ideas, he found that his boss wouldn’t listen to him. So he went into business for himself on the side. Queeny was convinced there was money to be made manufacturing a substance called saccharin, an artificial sweetener then imported from Germany. He took $1,500 of his savings, borrowed another $3,500, and set up shop in a dingy warehouse near the St. Louis waterfront. With borrowed equipment and secondhand machines, he began producing saccharin for the U.S. market. He called the company the Monsanto Chemical Works, Monsanto being his wife’s maiden name.
You HOPE that government can step in and protect us from monsters like this. Then again, they’ve already dropped the ball on the whole cloned meat thing: Coming to a Menu Near You: Char-Broiled Clone Burgers.

Smarter Babies, Mom Eat Fish?

“Fish, mollusks and shellfish, and sushi.” What are they? If you answered seafood—you’re right—but they’re also four of the foods Dr. Fuhrman suggests avoiding when you’re pregnant. Here’s the entire list:
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter (because of an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite found in cat feces)
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats
Makes you wonder why on earth research would insinuate that eating fish is good for pregnant moms. Reuters reports:
Researchers found that among 341 3-year-olds, those whose mothers ate more than two servings of fish per week during pregnancy generally performed better on tests of verbal, visual and motor development.


On the other hand, tests scores were lower among preschoolers whose mothers had relatively high mercury levels in their blood during pregnancy.

And mothers who regularly ate fish during pregnancy were more likely to have such mercury levels than non-fish-eaters were, the researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The findings add to evidence that fish can be brain-food, but underscore the importance of choosing lower-mercury fish during pregnancy.
Why risk the mercury at all? Just because some fish is “low-mercury” doesn’t mean it’s mercury-free. Again, why roll the dice if you’re pregnant. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.1 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.2 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous. Researchers are also concerned about other toxins concentrated in fish that can cause brain damage way before the cancers caused by chemical-carrying fish appear.
It seems more responsible to do with out the fish, than chance it—what do you think?


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Health Points: Tuesday

The Mayo team examined the cardiovascular health of 233 retired NFL players, aged 35 to 65. They did this by measuring the internal diameter of the carotid (neck) artery and by assessing levels of plaque deposits that can block blood flow.

The researchers found that 82 percent of the retired players under age 50 had abnormal narrowing and blockages in their arteries greater than the 75th percentile of the general population. That means these retired players may be at increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.
The superintendent, Jody P. Weis, a former F.B.I. agent, came in last month as a reformer vowing to clean up the nation’s second-largest police force, and has already diversified the ranks and bolstered community relations. Now Mr. Weis, an exercise enthusiast, has shocked more than a few people with talk of mandatory fitness tests and maximum body-fat allowances (only after a year’s physical education and with exceptions, of course)…


“…I hope it’s not his opinion that this force is in bad shape as compared to others,” said Mark P. Donahue, president of the Chicago local of the Fraternal Order of Police. (Police departments across the country have long struggled with the problem of overweight officers; a chief in Florida lost his job in 2006 after sending a memo to his officers titled “Are You a Jelly Belly?”)
The requirement was supposed to take effect Monday, but a restaurant trade group has challenged it in court. The city Health Department said Thursday it was postponing the regulation's start date until April 15 because the court ruling is expected soon.


Health officials say the measure will combat obesity by forcing diners to face the caloric consequences of their orders. But the New York State Restaurant Association says the rule violates the First Amendment by forcing businesses to put what amounts to a message on their menus.
State health and agriculture officials said today that two recent cases of salmonellosis in Minnesota have been linked to raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees. The implicated product is Milford Valley Farms Chicken Cordon Bleu with a stamped code of C8021. This product is sold at many different grocery store chains.


This the fifth outbreak of salmonellosis in Minnesota linked to these types of products since 1998. The findings prompted the officials to urge consumers to make sure that all raw poultry products are handled carefully and cooked thoroughly, and to avoid cooking raw chicken products in the microwave because of the risk of undercooking.
People who are 35 or younger who keep smoking are far more prone to die from a heart-related event, have a repeat heart attack or need future treatments to clear blocked arteries compared to those who stopped smoking.


The study makes clear that smoking not only promotes a first heart attack, but poses heart risks in younger patients who have survived one, researchers said. The report was presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Chicago.
Patients with heart failure are especially vulnerable to influenza and most doctors recommend they get flu shots, but a study suggests these annual jabs may not offer them full protection, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.


They found heart failure patients in a study had lower immune responses to the vaccine compared with healthy people of similar ages, leaving them more vulnerable to infection.
Officials in southern China sealed more than 4,000 boxes of possibly contaminated milk and the manufacturer recalled another 2,700 boxes after children became sick on drinking the product, Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.


A total of 119 children, some in day care centers, fell ill on drinking the milk and 75 of them were hospitalized for two days, China's official news agency said.
Buy Local Groceries
It takes less fuel to transport locally grown or produced fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, and dairy products than it does to transport foods over long distances. As such, less pollution is produced and less fuel is used to transport local food products.


Make Smart Fish Choices
Fish populations and the health of aquatic ecosystems are at risk from overfishing, bycatch (organisms that are inadvertently killed as a result of fishing practices), and the wastes produced by fish farms. Programs such as Vancouver B.C.’s Ocean Wise Program helps locals choose sustainable fish options. This Program was launched in 2005 by the Vancouver Aquarium to work with restaurants and markets to help them buy ocean-friendly fish. The program is also intended to help consumers purchase sustainably-harvested fish and to avoid fish on the endangered list.