Positive Eating, Fueled by Diet Failure!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Laura Klein of OrganicAuthority and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

The New York Times reported that positive eating trends are on the upswing!

Remarkably the percentage of people who are currently dieting is on a decline to 29 percent in 2007 from 33 percent in 2004. In place of calorie counting, starvation and deprivation, people are adding tasty whole foods to their diets, and 53 percent more are cooking more and from scratch!

This is exciting stuff! It has always been my advice that if you don’t know where to begin in transitioning your diet to a healthy one, start by adding more delicious organic fruits and vegetables to your diet every time you grocery shop and if you can swing it, on a daily basis. Keep it simple and easy.

If you are inclined to count something, start counting chemicals in your food instead of calories. Studies are now showing that chemicals in our food are leading to serious health issues like obesity, cancer and more. If you are inclined to reach for diet sodas and diet foods, take a few seconds (literally that’s all it takes) and scan the list of ingredients and ask yourself how familiar you are with the ingredients in that packaged drink or food product.

Other reports have shown number of farmers markets across America have more than doubled since the mid-1990s. And the sales of organic foods continue to rise. We are finally beginning to follow in the footsteps of Europe.

One of the things I have discovered in my quest to discover the most delicious foods on the planet is the remarkable healing qualities of tasty, whole, organic foods. There are so many miraculous healing stories of people who have cured themselves of serious diseases, like cancer, obesity, diabetes, and more, by simply eating a delicious, organic, whole foods diet. Bottom line, delicious, whole, organic foods are commonly overlooked as one of the most powerful healing tools on the planet.

If you are concerned about the price of organic foods during these tight economic times here are some of my recommendations for creating room in your budget to add tasty, whole, organic foods to your shopping cart:

  • Buy fewer prepackaged processed food products and add more whole foods to your shopping basket. Buying less junky fast foods creates room in your budget for tasty, whole organic foods!
  • Eat out less. Eat at home at least one to two times more per week (or more). This will create a huge amount of room in your budget for quality organic foods.
  • Buy at your local farmers markets! Not only are you buying local but many times organic produce can be up to 20-40% cheaper.
  • Don't rule out non-organic when it comes to local farmers. While you are at your local farmers market, get to know your farmer! Ask if they grow organically even if they aren’t a certified organic farm. Many times local farmers can’t afford the certification but grow organically the way Mother Nature intended.
  • Use a grocery list! This may seem obvious, but studies show that people who use grocery lists and stick to them save money on their grocery bill.

Overall, think about your values when you shop. Do you shop merely on price and large quantities? Or does quality and nutritional value count for something? Remember: consuming foods that are tasty and rich in nutritional value is what will keep you healthy, help in keeping the weight off and add up to less doctor visits. And knowing it's better for the planet is a nice perk!

Kids' Cereal Now Saltier!

Earlier this month, Consumer Reports discovered kids’ cereals, like Honey Smacks and Froot Loops, have MORE sugar than doughnuts! Fortunately, Kellogg’s has an unlikely solution. Slash the sugar, but INCREASE the salt; The Wall Street Journal reports.

Wow, what GENIUS came up with that! Salt is dangerous, it heightens stroke-risk and races blood pressure. And processed foods, like cereal, are NOT health-promoting either. They contain harmful compounds called acrylamides. So, pass on the fruity loops!

Via Serious Eats.
 

New Jersey's Mandatory Flu-Shots Enrage Parents!

New Jersey has lost it FREAKING mind! In December, NJ became the first state to require mandatory flu-shots for ALL preschoolers. Parents were ticked!

And now, angered by the legislation which goes in effect this fall, HUNDREDS of parents rallied outside the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton on Thursday, DEMANDING an “opt out” clause; The Washington Post reports.

This is WRONG! All parents want is a choice. The government should NOT tell parents how to manage their children’s health. The push for mandatory vaccinations is un-American!

Only drug-makers benefit from mandatory vaccinations. The flu-shot is a NOT miracle. Previous reports have indicated most DON’T even work against many strains of flu.

China Creates Online Food Safety...

Food from China has suffered INTENSE scrutiny. Melamine-milk has sickened thousands and FREAKED out millions! Even Chinese green beans are causing panic.

To calm fears, China has developed an online system that TRACKS how ingredients of food-exports were sourced and what, if any, tests they’ve undergone; from NewScientist.

Seems like a passive-aggressive way to “solve” the problem. Holding people responsible, like detaining the individuals responsible for the melamine, sends a CLEARER message.

Ozone Health Risks

Ozone is not JUST an environmental issue. It’s also a health issue. With ozone levels in peril, many experts insist people’s lungs are at risk. Inhaling TOO MUCH ozone can harm lungs and worsen respiratory ailments; Discovery News reports.

This has been a problem for a LONG time now. Previous reports have shown ozone levels can increase stroke risk, heighten the chance of premature death and even SHUT DOWN immune responses in the lungs. So screw it, I’m staying inside!

Contaminants Found Bottled Water...

Yesterday, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware urged baby bottle-makers to STOP using bisphenol-A (BPA). Reacting to research claiming BPA exposure causes learning impairments and depression.

And now, a new study discovered the SAME contaminants in tap water, turned up in popular brands of BOTTLED water, immediately challenging the belief that bottled water is purer; the Associated Press reports.

A similar story broke last year. Pepsi had to admit that its bottled water brand, Aquafina, is actually TAP water; responding to heat from environmental watchdogs claiming plastic bottles HARM the planet.

Ditch the freaking plastic already! Get yourself a metal water bottle, I did.
 

3 States Want BPA Gone...

Representatives from Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware have sent letters to 11 baby bottle manufacturers and formula-makers URGING them to stop using BPA; via AHN.

The action is in RESPONSE to the Yale School of Medicine’s research claiming bisphenol-A (BPA), interferes with brain cells, causing learning impairments and depression.
 

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Eat for Health: Switching to a Nutritarian Diet

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

As your body’s detoxification activities increase in the first week or two of this program, the symptoms of toxic hunger could increase. These feelings could include lightheadedness, fatigue, headaches, increased urination, sore throat, flatulence, and, very rarely, fever, body itching, and rashes. These uncomfortable sensations rarely last longer then one week and, even if they do, they will lessen with time.

Occasionally, people find it takes time for their digestive tract to adjust to all the additional raw fiber, and they experience an increase in gas or bloating or have looser stools. This is usually caused by the increased volume of raw vegetables and because you swallow more air when eating salads. It is remedied by chewing better so the air is out of the mouth before swallowing. Better chewing also breaks down the cells, making them easier to digest. For those with this problem, the amount of raw salad can be increased in a more gradual fashion. You can also eat less raw foods and more cooked vegetables, such as steamed zucchini, squash, brown rice, potato, and sweet potato. When the symptoms subside, gradually increase the amount of raw greens and cruciferous vegetables in your diet. Dried fruits, roasted nuts, and beans can also contribute to digestive problems at the beginning of transitioning to this way of eating. To combat these issues, use raw nuts, avoid dried fruit and other sweet substances, and soak beans in water overnight or eat them in smaller amounts until you adjust.

So, if you are troubled by digestive problems, try the following:

  • Chew food better, especially salads.
  • Eat beans in smaller amounts.
  • Soak beans and legumes overnight before cooking.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Do not overeat.
  • Eat less raw vegetables and increase the raw vegetables gradually.

Be patient and give your body a little time to adjust to a different eating-style. Remember, your digestive tract can make the adjustments if allowed to do it gradually.

Melamine Milk: 10,666 Kids Sick

At this point, the Chinese melamine milk scare is a full-blown epidemic. According to a new report, MORE than 10,000 children are still in serious condition after consuming powdered milk contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine; the Associated Press reports.

Over 10,000 is a STAGGERING figure! But how widespread the danger extends is even MORE amazing. So far, countries like South Korea and the United States have also issued warnings about Chinese-made food products; like baby formula, chocolate and candy bars.

A clear-cut example that NOT only do national food safety agencies, like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, need to SETUP their enforcement, but global health organizations, like the World Health Organization (WHO), also NEED to become better watchdogs.

Actually, the WHO acknowledges this on their website, “Recent trends in global food production, processing, distribution and preparation are creating an increasing demand for food safety research in order to ensure a safer global food supply.” Well, let’s get to it!

Exotic Pets Bad for Kids

When I was little, I had hermit crabs, frogs, birds, toads, lizards and goldfish, but apparently some of those AREN’T safe for children. Exotic pets, like hedgehogs, hamsters, baby chicks, lizards and turtles, can make kids SICK; the Associated Press reports.

Oh crap. I used to share fruit with my chameleon! Speaking of crap, kitty litter can also be a DANGER. Dr. Fuhrman suggests pregnant women should AVOID cat litter and cat feces because it contains a parasite that spreads a disease called toxoplasmosis.

Our poor pets! They’ve got problems too. In Australia, the obesity epidemic is EVEN making pets fat, and, there’s actually a LINK between fat pats and fat owners. So, if you’re looking to stay healthy. You could always get a pet kiwi fruit instead!

Research: Kids' Flu Shot Ineffective

Flu shots ALWAYS stir up controversy! Last year, New Jersey went INSANE by trying to force mandatory flu shots, insisting it is the best option of public health, but get this! New research claims flu shots have been largely INEFFECTIVE over the past few years.

The study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. HealthDay News reports:

Dr. Peter G. Szilagyi, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Strong Memorial Hospital, found that children who got the flu were less likely to have been vaccinated, compared with children who didn't get sick.

However, after they adjusted for flu risk factors -- such as a child's location, sex, insurance status, chronic health conditions or timing of the vaccine -- the effectiveness of the vaccine could no longer be shown. The effectiveness of the flu shot ranged from 7 percent to 52 percent for 6- to 59-month-old children who had been fully vaccinated, the researchers found.

The less-than-perfect match between the strain of flu in the vaccine during the two seasons studied and the flu that was actually circulating may have contributed substantially to the poor effectiveness of the vaccine, Szilagyi's team speculated.

We shouldn’t be too hasty to stick ourselves with things, especially kids! American children are already the MOST drugged up. Also, the flu shot is NOT the be-all, end-all of flu prevention.

According to Dr. Fuhrman, washing your hands, not touching your face in public places and eating a healthy diet, can help your body prevent and combat the flu virus.

FDA Mulling Ban on Cold Medicine for Kids...

Cold medicine made BIG news last year. Pediatricians claimed over-the-counter cold remedies posed MAJOR health risks for young children. This prompted retailers nationwide to yank medicines aimed at kids under the age of two from stores.

In January, the FDA supported action AGAINST children’s cold medicine, but now, about a year later, officials are STILL pondering a ban and may extend it to remedies for children up to age six; CBS News reports.

In the report, pediatrician Dr. Alanna Levine refers to studies showing that cold medicines DON’T actually work and Early Show host, Harry Smith, mentions that poison control cases have dropped by HALF since cold medications were pulled.

Now, Dr. Fuhrman is NO fan of suppressing fever, cough and cold. This could lead to prolonged illness, like pneumonia. Dr. Fuhrman also points to research showing the futility of over-the-counter cold remedies. Efficacy of cough suppressants in children; via PubMed.

So, considering all this, a ban seems like a REALLY good idea!

Eat for Health: Eating Organic Food

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

The concern implicit in this question is about pesticides, and it is a real one. The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible causes of cancer. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach and prostate.1 However, does the low level of pesticides remaining on our food present much of a risk?

Some scientists argue that the extremely low level of pesticide residue remaining on produce is insignificant and that there are naturally occurring toxins in all natural foods that are more significant. The large amount of studies performed on the typical pesticide-treated produce have demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not, is related to lower rates of cancer and increased disease protection. In short, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than not to eat them at all. The health benefits of eating phytochemically-rich produce greatly outweigh any risks pesticide residues might pose. That said, it should be recognized that fruits and vegetables are not all subject to the same pesticide exposure. The below chart shows the pesticide breakdown by food, but it is alphabetized and not in order of pesticide content. Spinach, strawberries and celery have the most pesticide residue and are the most important foods to consume organically grown.

 

If it is available, organic food is certainly your best bet to limit exposure to toxic chemicals. If you can eat only organic versions of the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, you can reduce your pesticide exposure by about 90 percent. In addition, organic foods usually have more nutrients than their conventional counterparts.2 They also taste better and are generally better for farmers and the environment.

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Vegetable Oil Linked to Breast Cancer

New research in the International Journal of Cancer claims omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in vegetable oil, may increase breast cancer-risk in postmenopausal women, but heterocyclic amines in cooked meat and fish DON’T up cancer-risk; Reuters reports.

I asked Dr. Fuhrman for his thoughts on the study. Here’s what he had to say:

Of course processed foods, including refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar increase a women's risk of breast cancer. And, the findings in this study are also logical, that the use of vegetable oils, which are also low-nutrient processed foods, would increase risk of breast cancer as well.

As humans we are designed to eat and thrive on natural foods in their natural state. Eating an avocado is nothing like consuming avocado oil and eating corn oil cannot be compared to eating corn. Oil is high calorie, low nutrient food; the definition of junk food. When we eat plant fats in their natural state, such as in seeds and nuts, the scientific studies are clear, they have the opposite effect (of oil), lowering risk of all-cause mortality and extending lifespan.

Even olive oil is junk food! Olive oil MIGHT be an improvement over saturated animal fats, but Dr. Fuhrman insists, processed oils are a MAJOR contributor to our overweight modern world.

As for heterocyclic amines, they’re NOT healthy either. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine points to studies linking both grilled meat and grilled chicken with cancer-risk. Water-based cooking, like steaming, is MUCH safer.

Warning Labels for High-Caffeine Drinks...

Energy drinks are EXTREMELY popular. I DON’T drink them. For good reason! A recent study linked Red Bull with an increased risk of stroke. Other reports have suggested high-caffeine drinks are particularly dangerous for young children and teenagers.

Civic groups have also spoken out AGAINST energy drinks. The San Diego County Youth Council claims consumers CAN’T tell the difference between energy drinks with alcohol and those without—specifically children; via EMaxHealth.

Even attorney generals are worried. Last year, attorney generals from 28 states THRASHED beverage makers for wooing young people with "outlandish" and "outrageous" health-related claims. And now, experts at Johns Hopkins urge WARNING labels for high-caffeine drinks; Reuters reports.

“Caffeine is one of the most addictive substances in a standard diet,” explains Dr. Fuhrman; citing health-risks like heart disease and breast cancer. For optimal health, Dr. Fuhrman recommends avoiding caffeine and other toxic substances—as well as alcohol.

China Says Breastfeed

Melamine, a chemical pesticide and fire retardant, has caused MASSIVE panic in the China by turning up in infant formula—and even chocolates sold here in the United States! In response, China is urging its citizen to return to breastfeeding; Reuters reports.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers AGAINST purchasing Chinese-made formula. China has reacted by detaining 22 people suspected of introducing melamine into the food supply; more from Reuters.

In 2007 FDA officials determined eating chicken, fish, pork or eggs from animals inadvertently fed melamine was UNLIKELY to pose a health-risk to humans. Nice job FDA! The tainted Chinese baby formula has killed 4 infants; via The Earth Times.

Pools: Outdoor and Indoor Boost Kids' Asthma-Risk...

It’s getting a little late in the season, but a new study in the European Respiratory Journal has determined outdoor pools INCREASE children’s asthma risk. Researchers blame prolonged exposure to chlorine vapors; Reuters reports.

Actually, this backs up a previous study about indoor pools. Researchers linked inhalation of chlorine byproducts to lung damage in infants and possible asthma later in childhood. It appeared in the journal Pediatrics; via Reuters.

Keeping excitable kids out of the pool might be hard. Maybe limit their time swimming instead. After all, growing bodies MUST be kept safe from toxic environments.

American Kids, Drugged Up!

We pop A LOT of pills! Especially antibiotics, Americans LOVE to overuse antibiotics. And flu shots too! Every flu season MILLIONS of people rush to free clinics and doctor’s offices. Not realizing that a healthy body can easily beat the flu.

That’s why I WASN’T surprised to read that a new study in The Journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry claims American children are prescribed more antidepressants and stimulant medications than children in Europe—via Julie’s Health Club.

According to Dr. Fuhrman, psychiatric disorders—like depression—can be successfully treated with superior nutrition and light therapy. So, there are options BEFORE the pill.

Eat For Health: What About Salmon?

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

All fish contain high levels of pollutants–even salmon. But, recent studies showed dangerous chemicals were ten-times higher in farm-raised salmon as compared to wild salmon. If you’re going to eat salmon, wild salmon is a better choice. Since there are growing concerns about the high pollution and artificial colors used in farm-raised salmon, wild salmon has become more desirable and its prices have gone up. However, a 2005 article in The New York Times reported that most fish labeled as wild Pacific or Alaskan salmon is just farm-raised salmon with a lying label. The New York Times tested salmon that was labeled as wild and sold in eight New York City stores and found that most of the fish was farm-raised, not wild.1

They were able to tell the farm-raised from the wild salmon because of the presence of an artificial, pink food dye manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Hoffman-La Roche. The company distributes their trademarked SalmoFan, which is similar to paint store swatches, so fish farmers can choose among various shades to make salmon have a pink-orange color. Salmon in the wild have that color naturally from eating pink crustaceans, but the commercially raised fish have a grey flesh from eating fishmeal. Europeans are suspicious of the dye, which was linked to retinal damage in people when taken as a sunless tanning pill.

Numerous studies also have found surprisingly high levels of PCBs and dioxin in farm-raised salmon. American health officials’ response was that this level of contamination should not stop consumers from eating salmon, but why should you unnecessarily expose yourself to known toxic carcinogens? If you eat salmon, eat only the wild Alaskan variety. If you eat fish once a week, use mostly the lower fat, less contaminated fish, such as tilapia, flounder, scallops, trout, or sole, but I urge you to eat fish infrequently since eating too much can promote heart disease, cancer, and atrial fibrillation.

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Toxic Lead is Everywhere!

Our environment is polluted. Toxins lurk around EVERY corner. Take lead for example. It’s in vitamins, left over fishing tackle, artificial sports turf and garden hoses! Makes me MAD, I love fishing, sports and gardening!

And here’s something really disturbing. Previous reports have linked exposure to lead as a child with CRIMINAL behavior later in life. So, if you’re concerned about lead. CBS provides this list of lead’s hiding places. Take a look:

  • Plumbing
  • Home renovations
  • City gardening
  • Ceramic dishes
  • Hunting or fishing supplies
  • Art supplies

The report also claims lead can weaken bones and raise blood pressure. No doubt, people of all ages need to watch out for toxins, but especially kids. Dr. Fuhrman insists parents must be careful NOT to expose their kids to toxic compounds.

Meat Gets COOL Labels...

Country of Origin Labels, or COOL, tell consumers whether their meat came from U.S. or livestock from another country. The new federal mandate begins September 30th and addresses American’s concerns over international food safety practices; The Chicago Tribune reports.

Not a bad idea, I think consumers SHOULD be as informed as possible. Especially when you consider the United States’ recent suspension of Mexican meat imports. Although, American meat is not without its own problems—South Koreans are ticked about U.S. beef.

Yet another reason why I DON’T eat meat, only LOW-toxin varieties of fish!

BPA, Where Will it Turn Up Next?

Bisphenol A is NOT your friend and lately news report after news report has BLASTED the toxic compound used in making plastic—which appears in BABY bottles of all places—that’s why some families are SUING baby-bottle makers.

Now, if baby bottles seem like a BIZARRE place for a TOXIC compound to show up. Get a load of this list of Hidden Sources of BPA. Via Julie’s Health Club:

  • Pizza boxes made of recycled cardboard
  • Recycled paper
  • Credit card receipts at the gas station and your local restaurant
  • Wine (fermented in BPA-resin lined vats)
  • Beer (likewise)
  • Rubbermaid polycarbonate-lined baking tins used by Subway
  • Pop (soda) cans
  • Organic canned tomatoes
  • Common plastic cups used in college cafeterias
  • Blue-tinted hard plastic 5-gallon drinking water bottles

And yet, people still buy this stuff! Maybe that’s because BPA interferes with brain cells. Although, the senate did want to ban to BPA, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration actually ruled that BPA is safe—INSANE!

At least Canada has their heads on straight. They declared BPA as dangerous. Not to mention, a new report claims everyday plastic products are linked to all sorts of human diseases; from Reuters.

Chinese Baby Formula Scare

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now urging parents to avoid Chinese-made baby formula. Reuters reports the FDA fears some of the formula, which is being blamed for the death of an infant in China, may have slipped into U.S. markets.

In response, China is widening its efforts to find the source of the contamination. They believe melamine—a substance used in fertilizers and plastics—may have been mixed in with milk used in manufacturing baby formula; more from Reuters.

Actually, melamine has run amuck before. Last year melamine contaminated a bunch of hogs and chickens—EEK!
 

BPA Can Stupid You Up!

More bad press for bisphenol-A (BPA), the toxic compound used in making hard plastic. Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine claim that BPA interferes with brain cells, possibly causing “learning impairments” and depression.

The study’s published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More from Medical News Today:

Unlike previous studies that looked at the effect of BPA on rodents, the team examined the effects in a primate model. They also used lower levels of the chemical than in past studies. "Our goal was to more closely mimic the slow and continuous conditions under which humans would normally be exposed to BPA," said study author Csaba Leranth, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and in Neurobiology at Yale. "As a result, this study is more indicative than past research of how BPA may actually affect humans."

Over a 28-day period, Leranth and his team gave each primate 50 micrograms/kg of BPA per day, adjusted for body weight, the amount considered safe for human consumption by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The team also administered estradiol, the major form of hormonal estrogen that modulates nerve cell connections in the brain. Best known as one of the principal hormone products of the ovary, estrogen has also been shown in past studies to be synthesized in the brain, where it aids the development and function of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

The team then used an electron microscope to count nerve cell connections in the brain. They found that BPA inhibits creation of the synaptic connections in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain involved with regulation of mood and formation of memory.

Scary stuff—I’m stupid enough! Actually, I’m getting more and more concerned about plastic. Just check out my new water bottle. Metal baby! Take a look:

 

Maybe all this trepidation over plastic is part of the reason why many schools are ditching lunch trays to get green—via CNN.

Arsenic in the Water, Lead in the Vitamins, and More...

Not exactly the most pleasant batch of news, but important nonetheless. In Bangladesh, India 70 MILLION people are involuntarily exposed to ARSENIC when they consume local water and rice. ScienceDaily reports:

It is estimated that for every random sample of 100 people in the Bengal Delta, at least one person will be near death as a result of arsenic poisoning, while five in 100 will be experiencing other symptoms.

Now, researchers have created new low-cost technology to provide arsenic-free water to millions of people in South Asia currently exposed to high levels of the poison in groundwater.

Leading an international team, Queen’s researchers have developed a trial plant in Kasimpore, near Calcutta, which offers chemical-free groundwater treatment technology to rural communities for all their drinking and farming needs.

Now, problems like this are NOT limited to developing nations. For example, well water in northeast Oklahoma has tested positive for E. coli—it killed a man and sickened dozens—via The Washington Post.

But it gets worse. The FDA just determined that many popular brands of vitamins contain lead. That’s right, LEAD! The Daily Green lists them all, here’s one set. Take a look:

Greatest Exposure, Ages 0-6

  1. Nature's Plus Animal Parade Shake (Powder)
  2. Superior Multi Age (Powder)
  3. Nutraceutical Pedia Power (Tablet/Capsule)
  4. Physio Kids Multilogics Chewable (Tablet/Capsule)
  5. Ola Loa Kids (Powder)
  6. Nature's Plus Animal Parade (Tablet/Capsule)
  7. Vita-Big-Kids (Tablet/Capsule)
  8. Wonder Laboratories Formula Nineteen (Tablet/Capsule)
  9. Clinicians Choice Chewable Daily Multivitamins (Tablet/Capsule)
  10. Dynamic Health Multi for Children (Liquid)

Least Exposure, Ages 0-6

  1. Twinlab Infant Care (Liquid) *
  2. Natrol Liquid Kids Companion (Liquid)*
  3. NF Formulas Liquid Pediatric (Liquid)*
  4. Windmill Bite-A-Mins (Tablet/Capsule)
  5. Kids Liquid Dolphin Pals (Liquid)
  6. My First Flintstones (Tablet/Capsule)
  7. Natural Wealth Children's Chewable Multivitamins Plus Extra C (Tablet/Capsule)
  8. Uno Diario Ninos (Tablet/Capsule)
  9. Flintstones Plus Immunity Support (Tablet/Capsule)
  10. Natural Wealth Children's Chewable Multivitamins (Tablet/Capsule)

* denotes vitamins that contained no lead, in FDA testing.

Scary stuff! Eliminating toxins from our environment is an ever-important issue and obviously, one we—and the rest of the world—still have to work on.

For more, HealthandMen discusses dangerous chemicals and Mark’s Daily Apple offers 8 ways to Reduce Your Chemical load—both are worth a look.

Gardasil, Too Much Pomp and Media? -- UPDATE

Gardasil, Merck’s clumsy HPV vaccine, has garnered a lot of attention—a mix of hype and bad press. Now this has Tara Parker-Pope of the Well blog wondering if the media should be blamed for Gardasil’s hot air. Check it out:

Whether you agree with their conclusions or not, the report offers an interesting view of the media’s sometimes unquestioning role in raising the profile of the vaccines. The report cites several examples, including:
  • ABC’s Charles Gibson told viewers “this breakthrough couldn’t come soon enough,” on the June 8, 2006 “World News Tonight.”
  • NBC’s Brian Williams called Gardasil a “triumph in science and medicine” on June 8, 2006. He referred to Gardasil as “the first vaccine to prevent cancer” on Dec. 28, 2006, and urged parents to get their children vaccinated in many “Today” appearances.
  • NBC’s “Today” show co-host Meredith Vieira declared that it “could save your teenager’s life some day” on Sept. 15, 2006. She also told viewers Gardasil was one of the three vaccines kids “need.” Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, downplayed criticism of the expense of Gardasil, calling the $360 cost “the best investment you can make.”
  • For “The Early Show” on CBS, Dr. Emily Senay said Jan. 1, 2007, that the “top medical breakthrough [of 2006] has to be the cancer vaccine for cervical cancer, Gardasil.”
  • The report also says The New York Times “glowingly profiled Gardasil” in an August 2006 story about the history of the vaccine.

Sure, I think someone jumped the gun. Let me remind you. Dr. Fuhrman points out that Gardasil ONLY protects against 4 of the 100 strains of HPV and Gardasil can KILL. So yeah, hype much!

UPDATE: New research claims that severe allergic reactions are 20 times more likely in those vaccinated with Gardasil—via Reuters.
 

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Cancer-Risk, Hotdogs of Doom...

This is fitting. Amidst the Maple Leaf deli meat killing spree The Cancer Project has released a TV commercial attacking hotdogs as a cancer-risk. See for yourself:

 

Finally, a gutsy ad! Hotdogs are not your friend. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman considers processed meats one of the WORST meat options—along with red meat. Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the PCRM and head of The Cancer Project, defends the commercial. Via CBS News:

Check the label of a name-brand hot dog, and chances are fat provides around 80 percent of total calories, more than double what's often advised. What's more, saturated fat and trans fat - the fats most strongly linked with artery-clogging - are common ingredients, in some cases providing at least half the fat content.

The hot dog council called the new ad an alarmist scare tactic, but the promoters, a group called The Cancer Project, defend their campaign.

Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, called the ad "a way to raise appropriate concern about a deadly concern." Barnard also heads The Cancer Project, an offshoot of his anti-meat advocacy group.

Hot dogs may be considered as American as apple pie, but Barnard said it's time to change that tradition.

"Children are born with no traditions whatsoever," he said. "You or I might think a hot dog, that just goes with baseball ... We can always change our traditions to be healthful."

The new ad is based on an analysis of five studies in adults by scientists working with cancer research groups not affiliated with Barnard's.

Their report last November said eating 50 grams a day of processed meats for several years increases colorectal cancer risk by 21 percent. That equals about one hot dog a day or two deli slices of bologna or five slices of bacon.

There’s a hotdog council! I’d love to see their cholesterol numbers. Now, despite the wiener consortiums self-preservation exclamations, processed meats DON’T support health and DO increase cancer-risk, but don’t take my word for it. Remember this post: News from The Cancer Project.
 

California Quits Smoking, Saves $86 Billion

This is amazing. California’s large-scale efforts to curb smoking have saved the state $86 BILLION in healthcare costs. And the kicker is, they only invested $1.8 billion in the program. Here's more, via Reuters:

The benefits of the program accrued very quickly and are very large," Stanton Glantz, director of the University of California San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said in a statement.

Unlike many programs which center on teens, the California program focuses its tobacco-control efforts on adults through an aggressive media campaign and changes in public policy, such as promoting smoke-free environments.

"When adults stop smoking, you see immediate benefits in heart disease, with impacts on cancer and lung diseases starting to appear a year or two later," said Glantz, whose findings appear in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

According to the study, the program prevented the sale of 3.6 billion packs of cigarettes -- worth $9.2 billion to the tobacco industry -- between 1989 and 2004.

The report may help persuade states to step up funding for such large-scale efforts to counteract the tobacco industry's $13 billion annual spending on smoking-related advertising and promotions.

Pretty cool! Actually, anti-smoking efforts and bans are showing promise. New search in the American Journal of Public Health has determined that banning smoking in the home helps kids develop negative attitudes towards smoking and deters them from experimenting—from Reuters.

Oh, and no incense either! They just found that incense-burning is linked to lung cancers. Moral of the story, smoke plus lungs equals bad.

Chemical Companies Say Organic Not More Nutritious

The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) has concluded that organic fruits and vegetables do NOT contain more nutrients cheaper non-organic produce. Wow, no conflict of interest there! The study appears in SCI’s Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Here’s report, No Evidence to Support Organic is Best, via SCI’s press office:

The first cultivation method consisted of growing the vegetables on soil which had a low input of nutrients using animal manure and no pesticides except for one organically approved product on kale only.

The second method involved applying a low input of nutrients using animal manure, combined with use of pesticides, as much as allowed by regulation.

Finally, the third method comprised a combination of a high input of nutrients through mineral fertilizers and pesticides as legally allowed.

The crops were grown on the same or similar soil on adjacent fields at the same time and so experienced the same weather conditions. All were harvested and treated at the same time. In the case of the organically grown vegetables, all were grown on established organic soil.

After harvest, results showed that there were no differences in the levels of major and trace contents in the fruit and vegetables grown using the three different methods.

Produce from the organically and conventionally grown crops were then fed to animals over a two year period and intake and excretion of various minerals and trace elements were measured. Once again, the results showed there was no difference in retention of the elements regardless of how the crops were grown.

This is awkward. Clearly, the CHEMICAL SOCIETY has some vested interests here—fogging the credibility of this work. Especially since previous studies have shown the opposite, that organic fruits and vegetables DO contain more nutrients.

Now, Dr. Fuhrman prefers organic—reduces pesticide exposure and tastes better—but other experts cite climate change as a GREAT reason to go organic. Here’s what the Soil Association had to say. Jessica Daly of CNN reports:

In 2006 the UK's Manchester Business School assessed the environmental impacts of food production and consumption and concluded that there isn't a clear cut answer to whether the environmental impact is greater on a trolley full of organic food compared to a trolley full of non-organic food.

Not so, was the response from the Soil Association. Do you believe organic food is more nutritional?

It countered that: "Overall, organic farming is better for tackling climate change than industrial agricultural methods. As well as lower average energy use, organic farming also avoids the very large nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer manufacture."

"Additionally, organic farming builds up soil carbon, removing it from the atmosphere. Organic farming also supports more local food marketing, reducing food miles."

While the jury might still be out about whether organic farming is, on the whole, better for the environment, there is little doubt that it's a booming industry which is starting to catch on in other parts of the world.

Take this research by The Society of Chemical Industry with a grain of salt, I’d put more stock in it if were conducted by a third party—although nowadays that’s getting harder and harder to find.

Even still, local organic farming is catching on, like these folks from Los Angeles and some Londoners too! Personally, I do my best to stay organic. I belong to a CSA, grow my own tomatoes and buy organic bananas. So, how organic are you?

Swayze's Cancer, Puff-Puff Pass...

What the heck is Patrick Swayze doing? The dude is labeled a “cancer miracle” and he’s STILL smoking! Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth, surely he knows pancreatic cancer almost always kills.

NFL Players Association Executive Director and Hall of Fame Oakland Raider Gene Upshaw just lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, I bet he’d have some choice words for Swayze and his smoking—GEEZ!

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Arsenic Linked to Diabetes

New research by Johns Hopkins University has determined that repeated exposure to small amounts of Arsenic found in drinking water is strongly associated with the development of type-2 diabetes. Andrew Stern of Reuters explains:

Dr. Ana Navas-Acien and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found a "relatively strong" association between commonly found levels of arsenic in urine and type 2 diabetes in a study of American adults.

"It seems there is may be no safe level of arsenic," Navas-Acien said in a telephone interview.

"Worldwide it's a huge problem," she said. "As water becomes a scarce resource, we need additional sources."

Arsenic raises the risk for cancers of the bladder, lung, kidney, skin and, possibly, the prostate, Navas-Acien said.

The 20 percent of nearly 800 study participants who had the most arsenic in their bodies, a tolerable 16.5 micrograms per liter of urine, had 3.6 times the risk of developing late-onset diabetes than those in the bottom 20 percent, who had 3 micrograms per liter.

Levels of arsenic were 26 percent higher in people with late-onset, or type 2, diabetes than those without the disease, the study found.

The research appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Now, this isn’t the only study linking toxins to diabetes. Pesticides and PCBs have also been associated with diabetes-risk.

The Urban Gardening Sprawl...

I’m not the only urbanite growing his own organic produce. More and more people are making good use of the free space around their homes, like these L.A. residents who transformed a seedy cinder-block wall into a cascade of strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, and vegetables. Cara Mia DiMassa of The Los Angeles Times reports:

The first time they tried planting vegetables, in a couple of wooden bins on the rooftop of their building, their novice status meant that plants weren't watered and cared for properly.

"Everything died," said Chris Owens, the group's de facto leader.

The second time, things went better. Members of the group paid special attention to the sprouts they planted, watering and pruning with care. And under their vigilant tending, corn stalks pushed upward. Watermelons appeared on vines.

Many residents were surprised by the way gardening united them, in an area where it sometimes seems best to mind your own business and keep to yourself.

"It brings us together as a group, kind of like therapy, to see something growing and flourishing," Jannie Burrows said.

"We're trying to feed our bodies with better nutrients," Lance Shaw said. "But more than anything, we like getting together."

The modest initial success led the Rainbow group to the nonprofit Urban Farming, which helped the group install the green wall last week as part of its Food Chain project. Urban Farming also erected "edible" walls at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, the Miguel Contreras Learning Center and the Weingart Center.

The Food Chain project, said Urban Farming founder Taja Sevelle, enables residents in some of the city's poorest areas to grow food in underused spaces at a time when food prices are soaring. The walls, she said, "get people to think outside the box. You can plant food in so many different places."

And Londoners are becoming expert backyard farmers too—via National Geographic News. Now, in case you can’t grow your own fruits and veggies. Christine McKinney of Eight Right, Stay Well shares a great shopping tip, Produce: The Dirtiest and the Cleanest. Actually, Christine’s list is very similar to Dr. Fuhrman’s chart of the least and most contaminated produce.

Red Bull, Real Bad!

Energy drinks. Catchy names, exaggerated claims. They’re bad news, especially for kids, not to mention teenagers, and now an Australian study claims Red Bull increases stroke-risk—as little as one can! Reuters reports:

One hour after they drank Red Bull, (their blood systems) were no longer normal. They were abnormal like we would expect in a patient with cardiovascular disease," Scott Willoughby, lead researcher from the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, told the Australian newspaper.

Red Bull Australia spokeswoman Linda Rychter said the report would be assessed by the company's head office in Austria.

"The study does not show effects which would go beyond that of drinking a cup of coffee. Therefore, the reported results were to be expected and lie within the normal physiological range," Rychter told Reuters.

Willoughby and his team tested the cardiovascular systems of 30 young adults one hour before and one hour after consuming one 250ml can of sugar-free Red Bull.

The results showed "normal people develop symptoms normally associated with cardiovascular disease" after consuming the drink, created in the 1980s by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz based on a similar Thai energy drink.

Red Bull is banned in Norway, Uruguay and Denmark because of health risks listed on its cans, but the company last year sold 3.5 billion cans in 143 countries. One can contains 80 mg of caffeine, around the same as a normal cup of brewed coffee.

The only way I’d drink Red Bull is if it ACTUALLY gave you wings. Now, the bad news isn’t over yet. That’sFit passes along some research in General Dentistry, suggesting energy drinks damage teeth and gums. So, you want energy? Eat some fruit!

Diabetes-Risk: Heart Disease, Obesity, PCBs...

Last month the Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute linked pesticides with diabetes-risk and now a study in Diabetes Care has determined high exposure to PCBs may be tied to diabetes too. Reuters explains:

Dr. Yueliang Leon Guo, from the National Taiwan University in Taipei, and colleagues examined the incidence of type 2 diabetes among 378 Taiwanese "oil disease" victims and 370 of their neighbors who had not been poisoned.

They found that women who had been exposed to the PCB-laced oil were twice as likely as other women to develop type 2 diabetes over 24 years. And women who had been most severely affected by the PCB exposure had a more than five-times higher diabetes risk.

There were no similar risks seen in men, however.

Other studies have found that people with diabetes tend to have relatively higher levels of organic pollutants, such as PCBs, in their blood. In comments to Reuters Health, Guo said that since "everyone" has detectable PCB levels in his or her body, it's possible that exposure to such pollutants has helped feed the widespread rise in diabetes in recent decades.

"The public health implication of these findings can be huge," Guo added, "considering the burden of diabetes and its multiple long-term complications."

And another study in Diabetes Care demonstrates that the incidence of heart disease increases right along with diabetes and obesity—via Reuters. Try avoiding it all together! Dr. Fuhrman’s prescription, try healthy dosages of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
 

Tips, Keeping Kids Healthy...

I don’t have kids—I imagine someday I’ll trick a woman into it—but if I did have a couple little ones. I’d want to keep them fit and healthy. Jacki Donaldson of That’sFit passes along four good suggestions:

  1. Eat right. If you eat right, your kids are likely to follow suit. That means five servings of fruits and veggies each day, whole grains instead of refined products, and a limited number of red meats and processed foods.
  2. Move. Inspire your kids to get 60 minutes of vigorous exercise most days of the week by engaging in your own fitness pursuits. Discuss the value of being active with your kids too.
  3. Avoid smoking. Don't smoke, don't hang out around smoke, and chat with your youngsters about the dangers of smoking.
  4. Practice skin smarts. Protect your own skin from the sun, and slather your kids too. And teach them this American Cancer Society jingle: Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap! Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, and wrap sunglasses around your eyes.

Not bad. Actually Dr. Fuhrman has his own tips for raising healthy kids, check out: The Secrets to Getting Your Children to Eat Healthfully.

CDC: 140,000 Bad Reactions to Antibiotics

Research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that bad reactions to antibiotics result in 140,000 trips to the emergency room each year. Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:

The findings offer another reason for doctors to limit their use of the drugs, which are overused in the United States, the team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"This number is an important reminder for physicians and patients that antibiotics can have serious side effects and should only be taken when necessary," said the CDC's Dr. Daniel Budnitz, who led the study.

For the first report ever done on adverse reactions to antibiotics in the United States, the researchers used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project, a sample of 63 U.S. hospitals, between 2004 and 2006.

They found more than 6,600 emergency visits were due to an adverse reaction to an antibiotic. They used formulas to extrapolate this to the whole country and estimated that 142,000 such emergency visits are made every year.

"Systemic antibiotics (pills or injections as opposed to creams) were implicated in 19.3 percent of all emergency department visits for drug-related adverse events," they wrote in the September 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

It hasn’t been a good stretch of weeks for antibiotics. Take this post for example: Doctors Should Go Easy on Antibiotics...

Health Points: Tuesday

With 23 percent of British children now considered overweight or obese, parents have increasing difficulty judging whether their own child is too heavy and most consider their overweight children normal, Ivan Lewis, the British health minister, warned. The letters home are designed as an early wake-up call, aimed at helping kids avoid later health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.

Starting next month, about 1.2 million British kindergartners and children in their last year of primary school will be weighed and notes about their weight mailed home, school and health officials said.

To avoid stigma, all parents—not just those of the overweight—will get an assessment of their child. And to avoid offense, the letters will avoid the use of "obese" or "fat," substituting instead "overweight" or "very overweight."
The recall is of beef prepared for shipment to retailers but not yet cut up in supermarket sized portions.

The recall is "Class 1," meaning there is a "reasonable probability" that eating the beef "will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death," the USDA said. It is the most dangerous level of the three classes of recall.

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said the beef was sent to processing establishments and retail stores across the United States and had been produced June 17, June 24 and July 8.

The recall is of primal and subprimal cuts that are larger sections of cows, such as chuck and rib, that can be cut down for individual or family-sized packaging. It also is of "boxed beef" or carcasses that have been partially disassembled for shipping.
There is little dispute that bisphenol A can disrupt the hormonal system, but scientists differ on whether the very low amounts found in food and beverage containers can be harmful.

The National Toxicology Program, a partnership of federal health agencies, said in a recent draft report that there is "some concern" that the chemical can cause changes in behavior and the brain, and that it may reduce survival and birth weight in fetuses. The conclusion was based on animal studies.

However, the Food and Drug Administration's associate commissioner for science, Dr. Norris Alderson, told Congress in June that there was no reason for consumers to stop using products that contain the chemical.

Despite the uncertainty, consumer concern has prompted some governments and retailers to act.
A report from Brigham Young University shows only 36 percent of babies are breast-fed through six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding through the first year.

The data are based on a weighted sample of more than 60,000 children, collected from national immunization surveys compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the data are focused on childhood immunization rates, questions also were asked about breast-feeding, giving the researchers a representative sample of nursing patterns in the United States.

The researchers found that children who were most likely to be breast-fed for more than six months typically had mothers with higher levels of education and income. Married women and those who lived in Western states were also more likely to breast-feed. Hispanic women and women born in other countries were also more likely to breast-feed.

Returning to work, being a smoker or living in the Northeast decreased the likelihood of long-term breast-feeding. Notably, low-income women who participated in the subsidized Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food, milk and formula to mothers and young children, were also more likely to stop breast-feeding sooner.
Wright is not an exotic dancer in a strip club. She's a 38-year-old mother of two from Atlanta, Georgia, looking to get in a decent workout.

"It works the abs, oh my goodness, muscles I didn't even know I had," Wright chuckled.

On this night, Wright is among more than a dozen women of all shapes and sizes -- no men allowed -- attending a beginner class at PoleLaTeaz, an Atlanta dance studio owned by Angela Edwards.

"We get preachers' wives, teachers, nurses, accountants, lawyers, anyone between the age of 18 and 70," Edwards said. "It's not boring...you get to wear fun clothes, listen to good music...and release your inner sexpot."

If online listings across the country are an indication, the popularity of pole dancing is spreading across the country from Southern California to Chicago to the Bible Belt.
Researchers say those strong feelings pro and con show in themselves that it will take a large study to see what, if anything, stretching really accomplishes. If stretching were remarkably effective, athletes would notice its effects right away and everyone would agree on when to stretch and what stretching does.

The study in Norway was the inspiration of Dr. Andy Oxman, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Knowledge Center for the Health Services. He had just completed what he calls a public clinical trial. It was a sort of reality show on public television that asked whether the nutritional supplement Valerian helped with insomnia; 405 people signed up to receive Valerian or a placebo and reported on their sleep by logging onto a Web site. Some participants insisted that because they slept so well they were taking Valerian. Or they said they knew they had taken the placebo because their sleep didn’t improve.

Then, the results were announced on the TV show and published: Valerian had little or no effect on sleep. Some who maintained they had the supplement actually had the placebo and vice versa.
Yet many people are not getting enough vitamin D, which the skin makes naturally when exposed to sunlight. A nationwide survey found that 41 percent of men and 53 percent of women in the United States were not getting enough of this vital nutrient.

"The importance of vitamin D may be underappreciated," said lead author Dr. Michal Melamed, a clinical fellow at Johns Hopkins University. "There are studies that link low vitamin D levels to the development of heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, hypertension and different cancers," she said.

The report was published in the Aug. 11 online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

For the study, Melamed's team collected data on more than 13,000 men and women who took part in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Levels of vitamin D were collected in 1988 and 1994, and the participants were followed through 2000.
Nebraska Beef, an Omaha meat packer, has been linked to two separate outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 in the past two months. The first triggered a ground beef recall by Kroger's supermarkets. The second outbreak kicked off a ground beef recall by Dorothy Lane Market, a small chain in Ohio. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider these two separate outbreaks because they involve two genetically distinct strains of O157:H7.

Whole Foods initiated the recall after Massachusetts health officials investigating a cluster of E. coli illnesses discovered all seven victims had bought meat at Whole Foods. The chain pulled ground beef from some of its stores on Wednesday. The Nebraska Beef recall was announced late Friday night.

My colleague Ylan Mui and I have gotten some comments from people who noted that the natural food chain is telling folks no contaminated Whole Foods meat has been found yet and we reported that in our story on Sunday. But before anyone is lulled into some false sense of security, there is other microbiological evidence linking Whole Foods to the outbreak.

Antibiotics, Without a Prescription


Reuters reports that Britain will allow the sale of over-the-counter oral antibiotics. Anyone older than 16 will be able to buy the azithromycin pill. From the article:
It is designed for use by people who have tested positive for the sexually transmitted infection and have no symptoms. The drug will also be available on an over-the-counter (OTC) basis for their sexual partners.

Up to 70 percent of people who have chlamydia exhibit no symptoms but risk serious long-term health complications, including infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

"Today's move means that symptom-free people diagnosed with chlamydia and their partner will be able to get convenient effective treatment from their local pharmacy," said June Raine, MHRA director of vigilance and risk management of medicines.

The British government has taken a lead in Europe in encouraging self-medication, as a way to increase patient choice and cut state healthcare bills.

The country already allows OTC sales of cholesterol-lowering and migraine drugs, as well as antibiotic eyedrops.

"The MHRA is keen to support the availability of more medicines over-the-counter, where it is safe to do so, and we wish to move on to new areas such as prevention and chronic disease management," Raine said in a statement.
Now, we’ve all read the reports about antibiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses. Wouldn’t over-the-counter antibiotics exacerbate the situation? More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors. The more widely these newer (and often ten times more expensive) antibiotics are used, the greater the chances that the bacteria will develop resistance. Many patients don't think a doctor is doing his job if he doesn't prescribe antibiotics or other medication. If he doesn't prescribe the medication they want, some patients actually will look for another doctor who will. Most doctors perpetuate this problem because they give in to the pressure to prescribe antibiotics. They like to appear that they are offering an important and necessary service by writing prescriptions.
What’s especially troubling is less than a month ago British doctors were urged to cutback on how many antibiotics they prescribe—weird?
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Gardasil's Adverse Effects...


Merck marketed Gardasil as a wonder drug, but more and more articles are blasting the HPV vaccine, like this one by Medscape’s Allison Gandey. She reports on Gardasil’s foreboding side effects. Take a look:
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as of June 30, 2008, more than 9700 adverse events have been reported since the vaccine was approved 2 years ago. Of these, 94% were classified as nonserious events and 6% as severe.

Serious Adverse Events
  • Nervous system disorders, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and headache
  • Thromboembolic events
  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue problems
  • Lymphatic system disorders
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • General disorders and administration site conditions
  • Immune system problems, including hypersensitivity reactions, bronchospasm, and urticaria
Most Commonly Reported Events
  • Fainting
  • Pain at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fever
Again, this is a tough pill to swallow. For starters, adverse reactions to Gardasil have been shown to kill and—we’ve talked about it numerous times—Gardasil is only effective against 4 of the 100 strains of HPV. Quite the risk for what, 4% protection!

Gardasil Takes a Life

That’s Jessica Ericzon, an all-American 17-year old girl from LaFargeville, New York who dreamed of becoming a New York state trooper.  Tragically,  she died days after receiving a shot of Merck’s cervical-cancer vaccine Gardasil. Jessica’s mother Lisa Ericzon spoke with Susan Edelman of The New York Post:
Jessie got the first injection in July 2007.

After her second shot in September, she complained of a pain in the back of her head, fatigue and soreness in some joints, said her mom, Lisa.

On Feb. 20, while on winter break from school, she got her third and final dose of the vaccine.

The next night, "she told me the spot on the back of her head was bothering her again," her mom said.

The next morning, Feb. 22, Lisa, a hospital technician, left for work just after 5 a.m., leaving Jessie asleep.

Jessie never showed up for the class she was taking at Jefferson Community College.

When her mom got home at 3:20 p.m., she found Jessie sprawled on her back on the bathroom floor, with blood spots on her head where it had hit a flowerpot.

Jefferson County Medical Examiner Samuel Livingstone is stumped.

"She was essentially dead by the time she hit the floor. Whatever it was, it was instantaneous," Livingstone said.
Very sad, but not surprising because a couple weeks ago we found out that FDA and CDC have received 7,802 instances of people having an adverse reaction to Gardasil. Certainly more testing needs to be conducted, especially since this flimsy drug only protects against 4 of the 100 strains of HPV.

U.S. Bans Phthalates from Toys

Congressional lawmakers have banned phthalates, toxic compounds used to soften the plastic in children’s toys. The AFP reports:
Critics believe the chemicals are linked to reproductive problems, including low sperm counts.

Certain phthalates were banned for use in children's products in Europe in 1999 and in California last year. The states of Washington and Vermont have since passed legislation on use of the chemicals.

The Wall Street Journal said some of the chemicals would be banned only temporarily under the new legislation while more research is conducted.

"Chemical additives should not be placed in products that can impact health adversely until they are tested and found to be benign," sponsor Senator Dianne Feinstein of California told the Post.

Chemical industry groups, which had financed a large-scale effort to stop the ban, criticised the move saying it could allow less-tested chemicals to be used instead.
Now we need watchdogs to monitor whatever replacement concoction the plastics producers come out with next.
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Pesticides Linked to Diabetes-Risk


Research by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Cancer Institute have determined that long-term exposure to pesticides heightens diabetes-risk. Bridget M. Kuehn of the Journal of the American Medical Association reports:
The study involved more than 33,000 licensed pesticide applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study, who provided information about lifetime exposure and their medical history. An analysis of the data revealed that exposure to 7 pesticides—aldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, dichlorvos, trichlorfon, alachlor, and cyanazine—increased the workers' odds of developing diabetes and that the incidence of diabetes increased with cumulative days of exposure.
Dale Sandler, PhD, chief of the NIEHS’s epidemiology branch, points out that pesticide exposure is just another factor that contributes to diabetes, like obesity, lack of exercise and family history. Here’s the actual study, via Epidemiology: Incident Diabetes and Pesticide Exposure among Licensed Pesticide Applicators.

Health Points: Friday


Roughly 19 percent of U.S. energy consumption goes toward producing and supplying food, David Pimentel and his colleagues at Cornell University write in the current issue of the journal Human Ecology. Considering that the average American consumes an estimated 3,747 calories a day, — at least 1,200 more than health experts advise — the researchers suggest everyone cut back.

Animal products and junk food, in particular, use more energy and other resources for their production than staples such as potatoes, rice, fruits and vegetables.

Producing all the stuff that goes into a single hamburger, for example, requires some 1,300 gallons of water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A study in 2006 by University of Chicago researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin found that a vegetarian diet is the most energy-efficient, followed by one that includes poultry. Diets with red meat or fish are the least efficient.

"By just reducing junk food intake and converting to diets lower in meat, the average American could have a massive impact on fuel consumption as well as improving his or her health," Pimentel and his team write in a statement released today.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Hospital recruited 80 seniors, age 65 to 89, and found that three-quarters of them had insufficient levels of Vitamin D.


That's probably because they thought the old levels were sufficient, said Sunny Linnebur, associate professor at the CU-Denver School of Pharmacy.

"It was a surprise because in Denver we have so much sun," she said. "And these were ambulatory elderly, people who can walk around and go outside. We were expecting more of them to have normal levels of Vitamin D."

Sara Jane Barru of Denver said she had assumed she was taking plenty of Vitamin D, but when a test found her levels were low she eagerly jumped into the study.

She said she started taking a lot more Vitamin D while in the study "and I'm continuing to keep it up there.

More risk assessment studies are needed to understand what exactly defines toxicity due to nanoparticles, and what kind of regulations the sector needs, said Hermann Stamm, head of nanotechnology and molecular imaging at the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection in the European Commission's Joint Research Council.


Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona this week (20 July), Stamm said concern over possible health risks due to nano-sized particles arises from several studies that found a link between ultra-fine particles from exhaust engines and air pollution to lung cancers and heart disease.

Nanotechnology — the use of particles as small as one-billionth of a metre — holds tremendous potential for the health sector, particularly in drug delivery.

Developing countries are keen to use nanotechnology in healthcare and agriculture. India, for example, in 2007 launched a US$225 million programme for nanoscience and technology.
In June 2007, the Government of Canada called on industry to voluntarily reduce the levels of trans fat in the Canadian food supply to the levels recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force, and announced that the Government would monitor the progress.


The Trans Fat Task Force recommended a trans fat limit of 2% of the total fat content for all vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines, and a limit of 5% of the total fat content for all other foods, including ingredients sold to restaurants.

"I am very pleased to see that industry is continuing to make progress to reduce the levels of trans fat," said Parliamentary Secretary Fletcher. "This second set of data, which focused on popular fast food chains and family restaurants in Canada, further illustrates the commitment of industry to achieve the limits recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force. The fact that we're seeing reductions in the levels of trans fat in so many areas is great news for all Canadians."

Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France, said the United States needs to make more progress against the various types of cancer.


"As a survivor, I think I can say this -- we have taken our eye off the ball," Armstrong told a news conference along with former surgeons general Richard Carmona, David Satcher, Joycelyn Elders and Antonia Novello.

Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the United States, and is expected to kill about 566,000 this year. Only heart disease kills more.

At Armstrong's request, the four doctors developed a national "call to action" against cancer that emphasizes prevention efforts such as not smoking, eating more fruit and vegetables, getting less fat in the diet, getting more exercise, using sunscreen and avoiding indoor tanning beds.
Dawn Page, 52, has been awarded £810,000 in damages from her nutritionist, although the practitioner denies fault.


Mother of two Mrs Page, who weighed 12st, became ill within days of taking up the Amazing Hydration Diet.

She had been told by the nutritionist to drink four extra pints of water a day and drastically reduce her salt intake.

The first stage of the regime left her suffering from severe vomiting and stomach cramps, but she was told these were just part of the detoxification process.

She was told by her dietician to increase the amount of water to six pints and consume still less salt.

Days later she suffered a massive epileptic fit and brain damage caused by severe sodium deficiency.

A Los Angeles city council planning committee unanimously approved a 1-year ban, which could be extended for a further year, on new fast food outlets in a 32-square-mile (82-sq-km) area of Los Angeles.


The measure, the latest in efforts by U.S. cities to promote healthier eating, will go to the full council for a vote next month.

If passed, it would affect about half a million Angelenos living in an area that supporters say already has about 400 fast-food eateries and few grocery stores.

The proposed moratorium follows a report last year which found that about 30 percent of children living in the South Los Angeles, West Adams, Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park areas are obese compared to about 21 percent in the rest of the city.
"For cattle and pigs, food safety concerns are considered unlikely. But we must acknowledge that the evidence base is still small. We would like to have a broader data base and we need further clarification."


In its initial response to the issue of cloning -- which many consumer and religious groups strongly oppose -- EFSA said in January that cloned animals could be safe to eat.

It also said it saw "no environmental impact" from animal cloning, which takes cells from an adult and fuses them with others before implanting them in a surrogate mother.

But when asked if cloned products such as meat and dairy would be safe for people to buy in European supermarkets, Dr. Dan Collins of EFSA said: "There are possible concerns ... there is an impact of animal health and welfare on food safety. We need more data."

Wacky FDA and CDC: Gardasil Safe!


A couple weeks ago we found out that the FDA and CDC have received 7,802 instances of people having an adverse reaction to Gardasil, but now, both agencies say Merck’s vaccine is safe. Reuters is on it:
Consumers, doctors and others have raised questions about Gardasil's safety but the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the most serious adverse events did not appear linked to the vaccine.

"Based on the review of available information by FDA and CDC, Gardasil continues to be safe and effective, and its benefits continue to outweigh its risks," a statement said.

The agencies said they reviewed more than 9,700 reports of health problems following Gardasil injections.

Six percent of the cases were deemed serious events. They included 20 deaths reported as of June 30.

"There was not a common pattern to the deaths that would suggest they were caused by the vaccine," the FDA and CDC statement said.

In cases where autopsy or other records were available, "the cause of death was explained by factors other than the vaccine," the agencies said.
High praise for a vaccine that only protects against 4 of the 100 strains of HPV and may wear off after 5 to 7 years—according to Dr. Fuhrman. The FDA’s kudos is especially odd because the FDA recently slammed Merck for violations at its vaccine plant.
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UK: Doctors Should Go Easy on Antibiotics...


England’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is urging doctors to NOT prescribe antibiotics for most cases of sore throats, colds, bronchitis, and most respiratory infections. Reuters reports:
They should also delay writing such prescriptions and reassure people the drugs are not needed immediately and would make little difference because most respiratory infections are viral, the new guidelines said.

"Management of respiratory tract infections in the past concentrated on advising prompt antibiotic treatment," Paul Little, who helped write the new guidelines, said in a statement.

"However, as rates of major complications are much less common in modern developed countries, so the evidence of symptomatic benefit should be strong to justify prescribing antibiotics so that we are not needlessly exposing patients to side effects."

The overuse of antibiotics is a growing concern for health officials worldwide as hospitals report an increasing number of drug-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

MRSA infections can range from boils to more severe infections of the bloodstream, lungs and surgical sites. Most cases are associated with hospitals, nursing homes or other health care facilities.

The drugs watchdog said a quarter of people in England and Wales visit the doctor because of respiratory tract infections, which account for 60 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions in general practice.

This is a recurring topic. Dr. Fuhrman has strong opinions on prescribing antibiotics. He faults both doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Check it out:

Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors.

Most doctors perpetuate this problem because they give in to the pressure to prescribe antibiotics. They like to appear that they are offering an important and necessary service by writing prescriptions.
But Dr. Fuhrman would definitely agree with NICE’s recommendation. He insists antibiotics are appropriate for severe bacterial infections. Likes these:
  • Cellulitis
  • Lyme disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Joint infections
  • Cat bites
  • Meningitis
  • Bronchitis (in a long-term smokers)
Seems to me this strategy would really cut into the profits of drug makers.
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Feet Eating Fish!


As an avid runner, my feet take a beating. Maybe I should schedule an appointment with doctor fish. The Associated Press elaborates:
Ready for the latest in spa pampering? Prepare to dunk your tootsies in a tank of water and let tiny carp nibble away.

Fish pedicures are creating something of a splash in the D.C. area, where a northern Virginia spa has been offering them for the past four months. John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife, Yvonne Le, said 5,000 people have taken the plunge so far.

"This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet," Ho said.

He said he wanted to come up with something unique while finding a replacement for pedicures that use razors to scrape off dead skin. The razors have fallen out of favor with state regulators because of concerns about whether they're sanitary.

Ho was skeptical at first about the fish, which are called garra rufa but typically known as doctor fish. They were first used in Turkey and have become popular in some Asian countries.

But Ho doubted they would thrive in the warm water needed for a comfortable footbath. And he didn't know if customers would like the idea.

"I know people were a little intimidated at first," Ho said. "But I just said, 'Let's give it a shot.'"
You’ve got to see them in action. Take a look:



I wonder if fish worry about OUR mercury-risk.

Health Points: Wednesday


Eating locally raised food is a growing trend. But who has time to get to the farmer’s market, let alone plant a garden?

That is where Trevor Paque comes in. For a fee, Mr. Paque, who lives in San Francisco, will build an organic garden in your backyard, weed it weekly and even harvest the bounty, gently placing a box of vegetables on the back porch when he leaves.

Call them the lazy locavores — city dwellers who insist on eating food grown close to home but have no inclination to get their hands dirty. Mr. Paque is typical of a new breed of business owner serving their needs.
In a study published in the latest issue of the journal Neurology, taking Topamax (topiramate) during pregnancy was associated with a birth defect risk within the range of risk seen in other anti-epileptic drugs, researchers reported.


But the incidence of birth defects seen when Topamax was taken with other anti-epileptic drugs was higher than expected.

The study was small, but it is among the first to link Topamax to birth defects in humans, confirming what has been seen in previous animal studies.

"More research needs to be done to confirm these results, especially since it was a small study," researcher John Craig, MRCP, of the Royal Group of Hospitals in Belfast, Northern Ireland said in a news release.

I am the mother of two young children, and extremely grateful to my own parents for looking after them for a few hours now and then. My problem is that they stuff the kids with chocolates, crisps and ice cream. This is not good for the children, their behavior and my own efforts to feed them something nutritious. Why do the grandparents have such a different philosophy, and can I do anything to change their thinking…


… Rather than reasoning with your parents, you must change their incentives. Unfortunately, this is not easy. You could try to bribe your parents, but threats will be useless because they are doing you a favor.

Perhaps your best bet is to try to arrange for longer bouts of childcare. Your parents will have a fresh perspective on the merits of carrots after trying to put a three-year-old to bed in the midst of a sugar high.
"There is some evidence suggesting culturally tailored health education can improve some clinical outcomes in the short-term," co-author Dr. Yolanda Robles of Cardiff University the UK told Reuters Health. However, "further research is needed to assess long-term effects," Robles said.


Language and cultural barriers may hinder the delivery of quality diabetes health education to ethnic minorities, yet education is a vital aspect of diabetes care, Robles and colleagues report in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from The Cochrane Collaboration.

To assess the overall efficacy of culturally tailored diabetes education versus the "usual" care, the researchers combined findings from 11 published research articles that compared the two approaches among minority groups living in middle- or high-income countries. All of the 1,603 study participants were older than 16 years.
  • U.S. inspectors believe a single jalapeño pepper may have caused salmonella outbreak. More from Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press:

They found the same bacteria strain on a single Mexican-grown jalapeno pepper handled in Texas -- and issued a stronger warning for consumers to avoid fresh jalapenos.


But Monday's discovery, the equivalent of a fingerprint, doesn't solve the mystery: Authorities still don't know where the pepper became tainted -- on the farm, or in the McAllen, Texas, plant, or at some stop in between, such as a packing house.

Nor are they saying the tainted pepper exonerates tomatoes sold earlier in the spring that consumers until last week had been told were the prime suspect.

Still, "this genetic match is a very important break in the case," said Dr. David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration's food safety chief.
Fully aware of the irony here, biologist Ronald Levy of Stanford University and his team used tobacco plants to grow the vaccine, which would act against follicular B-cell lymphoma. This chronic, incurable form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma strikes some 16,000 people in the United States each year. For all its horrors, however, follicular B-cell lymphoma just may be tailor-made for a cancer vaccine: all of the malignant cells are the descendants of a single bad actor and have an identical molecule on their surface. But the molecular signature of one patient’s cancer cells is slightly different from every other patient’s; hence the need for potentially expensive personalized vaccines.


The scientists therefore spliced the DNA for the molecular sequences of the antibodies from each of the 16 patients into tobacco cells. The DNA triggered production of antibodies in the tobacco plants’ leaves which were tailor-made for each patient’s lymphoma cells. The scientists ground up the leaves and isolated the antibodies, injecting them into each patient.

The patients’ immune systems got cracking: 70 percent of the patients developed an immune response to the plant-produced vaccine, and 47 percent produced a response specific to the antigen.

"We saw that for women there is still some negative societal fallout to having tattoos", said study author Myrna L. Armstrong, a professor in the school of nursing at Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center, in Lubbock, Texas. "This isn't a problem for men. Society supports men, because tattoos are related to a macho image, so we don't question it. But for women, having a tattoo seems to be a transgression of gender boundaries."


Armstrong and her colleagues outlined their observations in the July issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

The authors pointed out that about one-quarter of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 have a tattoo, and women constitute between 45 percent and 65 percent of the tattoo market.

Prior studies show that more than 80 percent of the inked crowd are pleased with their decision to get a tattoo. Among the fifth that are not, about 6 percent ultimately remove their marking.
Almost half of the obstetricians interviewed said they did not routinely ask about alcohol consumption in pregnancy.


An editorial by Professor Elizabeth Elliot from the University of Sydney titled "Alcohol and Pregnancy: the Pivotal Role of the Obstetrician", discusses the state of awareness about the adverse effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the obstetricians’ participation in educating against maternal drinking.

Only 16% of the obstetricians routinely provided information about the consequences of alcohol in pregnancy, while only 5% gave advice which were consistent with the latest guidelines of The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) - which states that, for pregnant women, ‘no drinking is the safest option’.

ADHD: Ban Artificial Food Dyes


Activists are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to ban artificial food dyes after more research confirms the link to ADHD. David Kohn of The Baltimore Sun explains:
"At this point, there's no evidence of a connection between dyes and children's behavior," says FDA consumer safety officer Judith Kidwell. She points out that in 1982, a National Institutes of Health panel examined the safety of artificial dyes and found no evidence of risk.

That attitude frustrates activists. "They're at least 20 years behind the science," says Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Last month, the group petitioned the FDA to ban use of the dyes, as well as sodium benzoate, a common preservative that critics also suspect of contributing to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

"At the very least, they ought to give some consideration to what the British government is doing," Jacobson said.

The FDA is reviewing the CSPI's petition; a spokesman said he didn't know when the agency would respond.

Scientists aren't sure how these chemicals might affect the brain. There are only eight artificial food dyes used in the U.S. To get specific colors, manufacturers mix them.
Not the first time we’ve heard things like this. Check out these posts:
I’ve never felt the need to consume neon green food.

Eco-News: Monday 7.21.08

Large quantities of lead ammunition and fishing tackle are produced annually -- the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that roughly 72,600 metric tons of lead shot and bullets are deposited in the U.S. environment each year at outdoor shooting ranges alone. And while estimates of lost fishing tackle are much less, lead tackle also poses a potential toxicological threat. Lead (Pb) is a nonessential heavy metal with no known functional or beneficial role in biological systems. Although lead is relatively stable, under some environmental conditions (e.g., soft acidic water, acidic soil), lead objects can weather and the element can mobilize, spreading the toxic properties. However, the TWS/AFS technical review concludes that the greatest hazard arises from direct ingestion of lead ammunition and fishing tackle by wildlife, particularly birds.

Topics covered include the chemical properties of lead, sources and estimated quantities of lead originating from hunting, shooting and fishing, as well as the pathways of exposure and the effects of lead on plants, animals, and humans. Current regulations on lead ammunition and fishing tackle, along with alternative materials, are also evaluated.
The plaintiffs hope a favorable ruling would force the EPA to implement standards for every state, most of which have only vague limits on such pollution, said Earthjustice attorney David Guest.


The groups say rain sends the runoff, which includes fertilizers and animal waste, into rivers and lakes, contaminating waterways and nourishing algae blooms that poison the ecosystems.

"This is endemic throughout the United States," Guest said. "When you fertilize the water, it makes it so that only one instrument in the ecological orchestra can play. Where you used to have this vast ecological orchestra, now it's only the algae playing."
In what was described as the United States' first statewide "green" building rules, the California Building Standards Commission said the code would help reduce the carbon footprint of every new structure in the state.


According to a statement from the California State and Consumer Services Agency (SCSA), the code goes beyond existing standards, targeting a 50 percent landscape water conservation reduction.

The code also calls on builders to reduce energy use of new structures by 15 percent more than existing standards.

Other measures include encouraging greater use of recycled materials in carpet and construction materials, the SCSA.

Menthol Smokes Target Kids


Harvard University researchers claim menthol masks the harshness of cigarettes and makes them more appealing to adolescents and young adults. The BBC News reports:
They said industry documents showed US firms tested menthol levels for their appeal to different ages.

A leading tobacco company denied such product targeting, while anti-smoking groups said the strategy had not yet been tried in the UK.

The study, in the American Journal of Public Health, analysed a 2006 survey of US smokers, and found that significantly more adolescent and young adult smokers preferred menthol brands.

Between the age of 12 and 17, 43.8% of smokers said they used menthol cigarettes, as did 35.6% of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Cigarettes with higher levels of menthol have been available for many years, but these tend to appeal to older, established smokers.

In the past decade, brands with lower menthol content have been released, and gained a significant following among younger adults.
Hardly shocking; cigarettes, fast food, sugary cereals, and junk food—hook them when they’re young!

Confusing News: Sugar Helps School Kids Concentrate


New research by David Benton, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor at Swansea University, Wales, U.K., suggests sugary drinks improve school children’s memories and concentration. Richard Gray of the UK Telegraph reports:
“Children between the ages of five and ten need twice as much glucose for their brains compared to an adult, but unlike other organs the brain does not store energy so it has to obtain it straight from the blood.

“The message we would like to encourage is that children need to be fed a little and often, but the risk is that they get fed a lot and often leading to problems with obesity.”

Professor Benton gave 16 nine and ten-year-olds fruit squash containing either artificial sweetener or glucose, a basic form of sugar. When the children consumed glucose, he found their memory test scores improved by over ten per cent. The children also spent between 11 and 20 minutes longer on a task when asked to work individually in class.

But Professor Benton did insist that schools should not start feeding pupils fizzy drinks between classes, proposing regular fruit of muesli bars instead.
The methodology of this study only serves to confuse. I’m not a nutritionist, but I think I can say this. Isolated sugars and sweeteners are NEVER healthy. In fact, consuming them interferes with your body’s ability to detoxify. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
When you eat a diet that is based on toxic and addictive foods—such as salt, fried foods, snack foods, and sugary drinks—you not only build up free radicals and AGEs in your cells, but you also set the stage for ill feelings when you are not digesting food. Unhealthy food allows your body to create waste byproducts that must be removed by the liver and other organs. Only when digestion ends can the body fully take advantage of the opportunity to circulate and attempt to remove toxins. If the body is constantly digesting, it can’t go through this detoxification process effectively.
If children need glucose, why even consider nutrition-less sugar? Highly nutritious fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of glucose (via Wikipedia), start there instead! Besides, it was recently determined that kids are already consuming WAY too much sugar.

Grilled Meat, Risky...


Its summer and lot of people have barbeque on their minds, but grilling foods—especially meat—comes with a hefty price. Cooking meat at high temperatures releases cancer-causing carcinogens. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are even more concentrated in grilled chicken than in beef.1 Another recent study from New Zealand that investigated heterocyclic amines in meat, fish, and chicken found the greatest contributor of HCAs to cancer risk was chicken.2
In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research is urging people to substitute veggies for meat and change their grilling habits. Brittney Johnson of The Washington Post reports:
AICR's warning is based on a 2007 review of research conducted on animals showing that diets high in red and processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer. This is the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The AICR recommends eating no more than 18 cooked ounces of red meat per week -- the equivalent of about four quarter-pound hamburgers -- and avoiding all processed meats, including such summer favorites as hot dogs and sausages.

Cooking meats such as beef, fish and pork at high temperatures produces carcinogens -- substances that can cause changes in DNA that may lead to cancer.
Makes your worry about Uruguay's big barbecue—26,400 pounds toxic beef—that’s why I don’t grill anything. In stead, I steam—EVERYTHING—and according to Dr. Fuhrman, water-based cooking is the best choice:
When food is steamed or made into a soup, the temperature is fixed at 100 degrees Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit—the temperature of boiling water. This moisture-based cooking prevents food from browning and forming toxic compounds. Acrylamides, the most generally recognized of the heat-created toxins, are not formed with boiling or steaming. They are formed only with dry cooking. Most essential nutrients in vegetables are more absorbable after being cooked in a soup, not less absorbable.
Seems pretty logical, I doubt eating a piece of charcoal is healthful, so why would a charred piece of already unhealthy steak be any better? For more on meat and carcinogens, check out: The Meat-Disease Connection.
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Less Second Hand Smoke, But...


Officials cite smoking bans and other anti-smoking laws for a major drop in second hand smoke, but too many children are still exposed. Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press reports:
"It's still high," said Cinzia Marano, one of the study's authors. "There is no safe level of exposure."

Cigarettes cause lung cancer and other deadly illnesses not only in smokers, but in nonsmokers who breathe in smoke, studies have shown.

For nonsmoking adults, secondhand smoke increases lung cancer risk by at least 20 percent and heart disease risk by at least 25 percent. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of asthma attacks, ear problems, acute respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome, health officials say.

The CDC report drew its data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a unique government study that sends mobile trailers out to communities. Participants are asked about their health and get blood tests and physical exams.

The blood tests check for cotinine - a byproduct of nicotine that usually is detectable for up to five days.
Here’s some more smoking-related news. Take a look:

Eat For Health: Coping with the Toxic Change



This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

It takes time to be comfortable with the changes in your life. It is not unusual to feel physically uncomfortable as you detoxify in the process of making over your body chemistry with a healthful diet. The more stimulating or harmful your prior habits, the worse you feel when you stop them. When breaking your addiction to salt, meat, dairy, saturated fat, processed foods and other substances, you might feel headachy, fatigued, or even a little itchy or ill, but the good news is these symptoms rarely last longer than a week or two. However, if you are making the changes to nutritional excellence gradually uncomfortable symptoms should be minimized.

Some people are so addicted to stimulating food, sugary sweets, and overeating, they may even feel depressed when they don’t indulge. For example, cheese, salt, and chocolate are all addictive, and it takes a prolonged period of abstinence to beat these addictions. Sugar and caffeine, especially when mixed together, are highly addictive and create a significant amount of discomfort when stopping. Sugar withdrawal symptoms have been demonstrated to be similar to withdrawal symptoms from opiates, including anxiety and tremors.1 I have observed many individuals with a history of severe chronic headaches, who were on drugs for headache suppression, develop fever, backaches, diarrhea, and other severe detoxification symptoms when stopping medications that contain caffeine, such as Excedrin, Fiorinal and Fioricet. Fortunately, their suffering was short-lived. Through high-nutrient eating, these individuals have been able to make dramatic recoveries.

High-nutrient eating was crucial for this result. Toxic wastes build up in our tissues, and we are unable to remove them unless high-levels of phytochemicals are present and the intake of toxins is stopped. You must allow this detoxification to occur. An important hurdle to achieving your ideal weight and excellent health is getting rid of your addictions. After that occurs, you may feel like you have been freed from prison and will find it easier to move forward and be one step closer to truly eating for health.
Continue Reading...

Questioning Gardasil's Safety...


WebMD reports that the FDA and CDC have received 7,802 instances of people having an adverse reaction to the HPV vaccination Gardasil. Miranda Hitti explains:
The 7,802 adverse events reported to Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) for Gardasil include 15 deaths and 31 reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a potentially paralyzing, life-threatening condition in which the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system.

But the VAERS data doesn't tell the whole story, notes John Iskander, MD, MPH, the CDC's acting director of immunization safety…

…Karen Smith-McCune, MD, PhD, associate professor of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at the University of California, San Francisco, agrees that the VAERS data don't amount to proof.

But Smith-McCune, who has daughters in the age range for Gardasil vaccination, says she's waiting to see the final, published results from Gardasil's phase III clinical trials before she decides whether to let her daughters get vaccinated.
And not too long ago crackpots wanted to make HPV vaccination mandatory. Dr. Fuhrman’s been bashing Gardasil from the beginning. Check out these 5 points:
  1. 44 percent of women studied aged 20 – 24 had infections with HPV.
  2. The virus disappears and does not cause a problem in 90 percent of infected women.
  3. 100 strains exist, the vaccine protects against only 4, but they include the two strains associated with seventy percent of cervical cancers 16 and 18.
  4. The vaccine has not been studied for long-term effectiveness and the protection may wear off in 5 – 7 years.
  5. Conclusion, most HPV infections and about 50 percent of HPV related cancers will not likely be helped by the vaccine because its effectiveness will likely wane with time, other strains can also cause disease.
The amazing part is how many people are quick to run out and stick themselves or their kids with a drug like this.

Health Points: Thursday


“Summer vacation shouldn’t become a vacation from healthy eating. Kids need nutritious food in the summer just as much as they do during the school year,” Kramer said. “Parents can help by making sure there are plenty of fruits and vegetables available at home. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a critical cornerstone of nutritious eating habits and is associated with maintaining a healthy weight and overall good health.”

While it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables every day, including them on the menu for special occasions is one way to encourage family members to make healthy food choices during holiday celebrations, vacations, and other summer activities. Here are some ideas for including plenty of fruits and vegetables in meals and snacks. Remember, more matters, so try out more than one of these ideas for healthy summertime eating.
The Food and Drug Administration ordered makers of flouroquinolone drugs - a potent class of antibacterials - to add a prominent "black box" warning to their products and develop new literature for patients emphasizing the risks.


Tendon ruptures are normally thought of as sports injuries, generally occurring among men in their mid-30s. The link to treatment with the antibiotics is highly unusual, and scientists still don't fully understand why it happens. However, FDA officials stressed that many of the serious injuries appear to be preventable if patients stop taking the drug at the first sign of pain or swelling in a tendon, call their doctor, and switch to another antibiotic.

Studying childhood obesity, University of Toronto nutritionist Harvey Anderson found that kids who watched TV while eating lunch took in 228 extra calories than those who ate without the television on.

"One of Anderson's conclusions is that eating while watching television overrides our ability to know when to stop eating," the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, which funded the study, said on Tuesday.

"In effect, mindless television watching produces mindless eating. ... Anderson has some immediate advice for parents -- turn the television off during mealtime."
Researchers at the American Cancer Society and Emory University in Atlanta calculated death rates for lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer by level of education among U.S. blacks and whites ages 25 to 64 for 1993 through 2001.


Death rates for each of these types of cancer decreased from 1993 to 2001 in men and women with at least 16 years of education -- a college degree -- except for lung cancer among black women, for whom death rates were stable, they found.

By contrast, among people with less than 12 years of education -- those who did not finish high school -- a statistically significant decrease in death rates during the same period was registered only for breast cancer among white women, according to the study.

Teen girls who spend a lot of time on the Internet are more likely to see their weight creeping slowly up than adolescents who spend less time in front of the computer screen, new research shows.


And the association between computer use and weight held true even when the researchers accounted for the amount of exercise the girls were getting. The Harvard researchers also found that a lack of sleep and alcohol consumption were associated with increasing weight.

"We found more weight gain -- after adjustment for height growth and other factors including physical activity -- for females who spent more recreational time on the Internet, for those getting the least sleep, and for those drinking the most alcohol," said study author Catherine Berkey, a biostatistician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
It's simple. No fancy machines required; just record what you eat on paper or using an online record. "The trick is to write down everything you eat or drink that has calories," says Victor Stevens, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research and coauthor of the study released today, which appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. That's easy enough with labeled foods but gets harder when you're dining out or are eating an unfamiliar food. Try online calorie databases like CalorieKing.com, and watch the serving sizes—here's a good source of info on estimating what, say, an ounce of bread looks like. You'll probably still underestimate your daily intake, says Thomas Wadden, director of the Center for Weight Loss and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, but you'll very likely come closer than someone who isn't keeping a food record.


It's eye opening. In fact, some people will be so shocked at how many calories are in their thrice-daily Coke that the "aha" moment will make going on an actual diet unnecessary. Being forced to be aware of what you're eating can often be enough to help people drop weight, says Wadden.

This funny little fruit seems to crop up in lots of popular diet plans, despite a high calorie count.

The reason: It contains monounsaturated fat, one of the "good" fats. It's also packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, and it can help the body absorb even more. It's got no cholesterol or sodium, but it's packed with lutein, an antioxidant that contributes to healthy eyes.

Watch it, though: A medium avocado contains about 250 calories, and it's easy to shovel in a bowlful of guacamole when there are chips at hand. But when used judiciously, avocados are healthful and satisfying.
"There is a very long list of health hazards from being overweight," said Ghiyath Shayeb, the study's lead researcher at the University of Aberdeen. "Now we can add poor semen quality to the list."


But experts aren't sure if that necessarily means obese men face major difficulties having children.

"If you have a man who isn't fantastically fertile with a normal partner who is fertile, her fertility will compensate," said Dr. William Ledger, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Britain's University of Sheffield, who was unconnected to the study.

But if both partners are heavy, Ledger said that could be a problem, since obesity is known to decrease women's fertility.

The Flintstones Grab a Smoke

Everyone loves The Flintstones, but did you know that Fred and Barney used to hock cigarettes. You won’t believe your eyes:



Hard to believe—wow!
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Plastic Bag Tax?


The Los Angeles city council wants to impose a 25 cent fee on each plastic shopping bag. The Associated Press is on it:
If the full council approves the proposal, city employees would have to use reusable cups and plates whenever possible, Kandarpa said.

The city spends $20,000 per year on polystyrene products, said Neil Guglielmo, a recycling manager at the city Bureau of Sanitation. He told the committee plastic bags and foam food containers are not biodegradable, clogs storm drains and add waste to landfills.

Michael Westerfield, a spokesman for packaging company Dart Container, opposed the plan by arguing that by banning one product, "you're just going to replace the problem with another product."
And check out this article on plastic bags too: China's Plastic Bag Ban Will Save 37 Million Barrels of Oil.

Smokers Have More Back Pain


According to a telephone survey smokers or former smokers reported having more back pain. From ScienceDaily:
Their evaluation showed that smokers or former smokers suffer chronic back pain much more often than do non-smokers. The number of years the subjects had been smoking or had smoked was decisive. Subjects who had consumed tobacco for more than 16 years had a two-fold greater probability of suffering chronic back pain than subjects who had smoked for less than 10 years.

The probability of back pain was further multiplied for subjects who had smoked for longer than 26 years. On the other hand, the frequency with which the subjects consumed tobacco and the quantities smoked did not play a role.

However, the authors pointed out that tobacco consumption does not necessarily cause chronic back pain. It is just as possible that people with chronic back pain smoke to alleviate the pain. The exact association between smoking and back pain will have to be clarified in appropriate studies. These could offer additional possibilities to prevent chronic back pain or smoking motivated by this.
Yeah, don’t smoke.

FEMA Trailers, Still Toxic


The problem with those infamous toxic FEMA trailers? Formaldehyde fumes from particle board. Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:
Such temporary housing should be designed with better ventilation, the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests, and current health and safety standards may not be enough to protect people.

"Even though construction materials meet standards ... you have to be a little bit careful about how you use those construction materials. You could end up fostering high levels of formaldehyde," said CDC spokesman Glen Nowak in a telephone interview.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said 15,000 people displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005 are still living in such trailers.

FEMA spokesman James Kaplan said a few dozen mobile homes were being sent to people displaced by flooding in Iowa, but they had been tested for low formaldehyde levels.
That’s funny. “Better ventilation.” The trailer’s toxic, so open a window!
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Your Job, Good Health Mandatory...


With healthcare costs soaring, many businesses have instituted mandatory health guidelines—like refusing to hire smokers—which have kicked off a fiery debate, are employee health guidelines good or just an invasion of privacy. CNN reports:
"Health and wellness programs at work are a win/win situation for everybody," says Richard Taylor, vice president of human resources at Intel. "We keep our insurance costs down, and the employees are offered free health and wellness opportunities."

Alfred Sanchez, the CEO of the YMCA of Greater Miami, agrees. He started a free health and fitness program in March for his staff and their families that include weigh-ins, meetings with health counselors, nutritional guidance and exercise plans. Out of a staff of 170, all but 40 employees signed up…

…Some people, however, bristle at what they perceive as having lifestyle choices dictated by an employer.

This May, for example, the University of Massachusetts Medical School banned all tobacco use from their campus and hospital, including parking lots. If an employee is caught smoking, they risk being fired.

"They won't even allow people to smoke in their cars," says James LeBlanc, 45, an employee at the university and himself an ex-smoker who kicked the habit prior to the ban. "We all know smoking is bad for you, but last time I checked it was still legal in this country."

Some companies forbid their employees to light up at all -- even at home. There are at least 20 states that allow for this type of work policy, including Ohio, where the state's second-largest employer, the Cleveland Clinic, stopped hiring smokers in September.
This is tough. Everyone wants a healthier workforce, but this is America. If you want to ruin your health, you can. It’s your right. But then again, don’t companies also have the right to hire or not hire whoever they want—barring any civil rights infractions that is.

101 Ways to Live Healthy and Happy!


The Nursing Degree Network shares a whole bunch of ways we can all live better. Here are some I really liked. Have a look:
3. Not getting enough sleep: Even though you’re not putting anything harmful in your body, not getting enough sleep can be harmful to you.
8. Being negative: Get rid of negative thoughts and feelings, and you’ll find that a life filled with feelings of gratitude, optimism and perspective will make you more successful and happy.
22. Introduce natural light: Introduce natural light into your home or office to improve your energy level.
24. Eat organic: Organic foods actually promote good feng shui and good energy, so make sure your kitchen is stocked with organic vegetables and grains.
39. Meditation: Relax your mind and de-stress with these meditation tips.
45. Go to the bathroom: It’s important to have regular bowel movements, and holding it in too long can cause an infection. Go when you need to go!
50. Add garlic to your diet: Garlic "activates liver enzymes" which clean out your system and help you detox.
62. Spend time outside: Taking a walk outside or reading a book in your yard will quickly make you feel more connected to your community and nature.
67. Clean out your inbox: Organizing your inbox by deleting old messages and moving important e-mails to separate folders will help you focus and de-clutter your mind.
72. Open the windows: Let in some of the natural elements by opening a window…even if it’s raining outside. Breathing in fresh air will calm you down naturally.
83. Pick something you enjoy: If you hate yoga, don’t do sign up for a class just because you think it’s the right thing to do. You can detoxify with any kind of exercise, including organized sports or running.
89. Exercise at work: Desktop yoga and other simple exercises can be done at work, helping workaholics detox anytime.
101. Eat broccoli sprouts: Broccoli sprouts have more "cancer-fighting, enzyme-stimulating" nutrients than regular broccoli.
The one about the going poop made me laugh. If you need to remember to go to the bathroom—you've got major problems! Be sure to read them all.

Wednesday: Healthy Points


Denmark is the happiest nation and Zimbabwe the the most glum, he found. (Zimbabwe's longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was sworn in as president for a sixth term Sunday after a widely discredited runoff in which he was the only candidate. Observers said the runoff was marred by violence and intimidation.)

The United States ranks 16th.

The results of the survey, going back an average of 17 years in 52 countries and involving 350,000 people, will be published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Researchers have asked the same two questions over the years: "Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy?" And, "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?"
The study, researchers say, suggests that CKD should be added to the list of conditions that are associated with weight gain, including diabetes and high blood pressure.


Obesity is a known risk factor for CKD, but the impact of weight gain in normal-weight individuals without high blood pressure or diabetes is unknown, Dr. Seungho Ryu, at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, and associates note in their report.

In Korea, workers are required to undergo periodic health examinations. Using these data, Ryu's team followed 8792 healthy men ages 30 to 59 years with no known risk factors for CKD between 2002 and 2007. The prevalence of obesity was about 33 percent.

For example, for apricots, a cup of fresh halves is 86 percent water, with 74 calories, and a half cup of dried fruit is 76 percent water, with 212 calories. Fresh apricots have 3.1 grams of fiber versus 6.5 for dried; 0.6 milligrams of iron versus 2.35 milligrams; 15.5 milligrams of vitamin C versus 0.8 milligrams; and 149 retinol activity equivalents of vitamin A versus 160.


A cup of fresh Thompson seedless grapes is 80 percent water, with 104 calories, and a half cup of raisins is 15 percent water, with 434 calories. The grapes have 1.4 grams of fiber, versus 5.4 grams for the raisins; 0.54 milligrams of iron versus 2.73 milligrams; 288 milligrams of potassium versus 1,086 milligrams; and 16.3 milligrams of vitamin C versus 3.3 milligrams.
At a meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint body of the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), officials also set benchmarks for producing gluten-free foods.


Peter Ben Embarek, a scientist in the WHO's food safety division, said the adoption of the "landmark" code of hygienic practices for powdered formula could reduce contamination from two bacteria that can cause severe illness and death in babies.

People with wheat allergies would also be protected by the standards for gluten-free food that countries pledged to work into their national legislation, and to meet in food exports under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Most trade shows are the stuff of, if not nightmares, then at least a sleepwalk from one charmless kiosk to the next. Not so at the 54th Summer Fancy Food Show, where 20,000+ gourmet retailers, restaurateurs, chefs, media folks and plain ol' food fans spend three days chomping their way through a fever dream of some 180,000 specialty foods. The throwback "Fancy" is a bit of a misnomer by now, as there's a very wide slice of products on offer, ranging from swankity wines, oils, cheeses and caviar to humble chewing gums, ketchups, chili seasonings and snack mixes.
Most commercial brands of mayonnaise contain vinegar and other ingredients that make them acidic — and therefore very likely to protect against spoilage. When problems occur, they usually result from other contaminated or low-acid ingredients (like chicken and seafood), improper storage and handling, or homemade versions that contain unpasteurized eggs.


One prominent study published in The Journal of Food Protection found, for example, that in the presence of commercial mayonnaise, the growth of salmonella and staphylococcus bacteria in contaminated chicken and ham salad either slowed or stopped altogether. As the amount of mayonnaise increased, the rate of growth decreased. When temperatures rose to those of a hot summer day, the growth increased, but not as much as in samples that did not contain mayonnaise.

After following over 5,700 men for 23 years, researchers concluded that the faster your rate drops after exercise, the lower your risk of dying of a heart attack. To perform the calculation, first take note of your heart rate at exactly one minute after you've finished your workout. Then, take that number and subtract it from the maximum heart rate you reached during the workout. If the difference is more than 35bpm, there's a good chance you do not face an increased risk.


If, however, it is less than 35bpm, the study suggests there's need for caution. Specifically, if the difference is between 31-35bpm, your risk is increased by 40 percent; 25-30bpm, risk increase is 30 percent; less than 25bpm, risk increase is 110 percent.
In Berlin, where a ban took effect on January 1, smokers were granted a six-month period of grace that expired on Tuesday and those who breach the ban now face fines of 1,000 euros (1,575 dollars).


In the eastern state of Saxony, fines can run up to 5,000 euros but in the northern port of Hamburg and Thuringia, in eastern Germany, the highest fine authorities can issue is 500 euros.

The wealthy southern state of Bavaria is considered to have the country's toughest public smoking ban because it prohibits restaurants from opening separate smoking sections -- a practice allowed in other states.

Tuesday: Health Points


The report by scientists at the WHO's International Agency for Cancer Research urged more countries to adopt smoking bans in public and at the workplace, saying there was enough evidence to prove they work, without hurting businesses such as restaurants and bars.

"Implementation of such policies can have a broader population effect of increasing smoke-free environments," the researchers wrote in the Lancet Oncology special report.

"Not only do these policies achieve their aim of protecting the health of non-smokers by decreasing exposure to second-hand smoke, they also have many effects on smoking behavior, which compound the health benefits."
Watching television in America takes some getting used to. Apart from the accent, it is strange to hear companies marketing drugs directly to the consumer. Not only do they sell their own brand, but they actively name and shame their competitors' products. During a commercial break there may be two different brands of antihistamine telling you how bad the other is.


Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is the promotion of prescription drugs through newspaper, magazine, television and internet marketing. Although the drug industry is mounting major campaigns to have DTCA allowed in Europe and Canada, the only two developed countries where it is currently legal are the U.S. and New Zealand.

Studies have shown that increases in DTCA have contributed to overall increases in spending on both the advertised drug itself and on other drugs that treat the same conditions. For example, one study of 64 drugs found a median increase in sales of $2.20 for every $1 spent on DTCA. It has been reported that 10 of the leading 12 brand-name drugs with DTCA campaigns have sales in excess of $1 billion annually.

The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office on Women's Health launched BodyWorks in 2006 by training instructors in the hopes that they would bring the program home to their communities. All materials are provided free, but communities must find the resources to pay trainers and a place to offer the program.


"Throughout the years I've worked with nutritionists, I've worked with diet programs, and it's very frustrating," Dr. Monica Richter, a pediatrician on staff at the Children's Hospital Seattle and a BodyWorks instructor who coordinates fundraising to help support the program, told Reuters Health. "I'm hoping that this will be one of the answers to this growing problem."

Girls 9 to 13 years old who are overweight or obese are referred to BodyWorks through their pediatrician, or by word of mouth. Parents and caregivers attend 10 weekly 90-minute sessions, and girls are expected to show up for at least three. The goal is to give parents and caregivers "hands-on tools to make small behavior changes to prevent obesity and help maintain a healthier weight," according to the BodyWorks Web site (http://www.womenshealth.gov/bodyworks/).
However, a new study suggests that the Nutrition Facts panel found on the side of grocery store products does a poor job of getting that message across to consumers.


"It's very misleading to just throw a number out there," contends study author Elizabeth Howlett, a professor of marketing at the University of Arkansas, in Little Rock.

Her team found that the average health-conscious consumer is often misled by trans fat information found on the Nutrition Facts panel.

The main problem is that because no amount of trans fat is good for you, it makes no sense to post a percentage of the "recommended daily value" -- as is done with other ingredients such as sugar, or total or saturated fats. So consumers are just left with a number -- such as 2, 3 or 4 grams of trans fat per serving -- and no way of interpreting how unhealthy that might be.

What surprises me most about it is that the parking lot next to the field is not full. I would think people would be lined up to climb up on that roof and get a good look at the art from above.
Even a bra that perfectly maximized motion (without sacrificing support and comfort) would be useful to me only if there were a way to turn that motion into energy. For a primer on how to do that, I turned to Professor Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Tech, who is currently working to develop fabric made from nanowires that will capture energy from motion. Wang's wires are about 1/1,000th the width of a human hair. When woven together in a fabric, these nanowires rub up against one another and convert the mechanical energy from the friction into an electric charge. According to Wang, the fabric is cheap to produce and surprisingly efficient; his team hopes to use it to create energy-generating T-shirts and other articles of clothing. A square meter of fiber produces about 80 milliwatts of power, which is enough to run a small device like a cell phone. Wang expects to have a shirt available for purchase within five years.


Many bra patterns call for about a meter of fabric, which would probably mean that a regular bra would have enough energy to power an iPod. But the fabric could also be layered, doubling or even tripling the amount of energy produced. I asked Wang whether his fabric could be used to make a bra. "Bras would be ideal," he said. "There is a lot of friction and movement in that general area. And the fabric would be thick."

Parents secretly putting things (even if it's broccoli) into their children's food without their knowing it? When they grow up, I wonder what they'll think of that?


Seems a trust is broken here, and I'm not sure it won't affect food issues these children may have down the line.

Delicious is key where food and children are concerned. If a parent wants to get a child to eat fruit, he or she can wash, chop and freeze fresh strawberries, then take a blender and pour in one cup of fat-free milk. Add three packages of artificial sweetener. Add four or five frozen strawberries, and blend. Keep adding strawberries until you have a thick, luscious strawberry milkshake that could stand toe-to-toe with any fast-food shake you've ever had.
Condition worsened
The girl grew increasingly weak and feverish and "became more limp, appears sleepy, acts as if drunk," the report said. She was hospitalized and underwent surgery and was finally withdrawn from life support. She died April 5, according to the report.


The 9- and 6-year-olds suffered from mitochondrial disorders, a spectrum of genetic diseases that has received almost no attention from federal health officials. The 9-year-old, Hannah Poling, was 19 months old and developing normally in 2000 when she received five shots against nine infectious diseases. Two days later, she developed a fever, cried inconsolably and refused to walk. In the next seven months, she spiraled downward, and in 2001, she was diagnosed with autism.

AllergyKids.com on Good Morning America

DiseaseProof's buddy Robyn O’Brien, founder of AllergyKids.com, was recently featured on Good Morning America. Take a look:


And from the GMA report:
“I had made scrambled eggs and put them in front of all four kids and decided to put them in front of the baby," the 36-year-old said. "I put them on her highchair and she didn't want them, fussed and pushed them away. And I didn't think anything of it."


But 9-month-old Tory's aversion to the breakfast staple had little to do with taste, as O'Brien soon found out.

"I put her down for a nap. A few minutes later and there was some mother instinct in me because I went in to check on her for some reason, which I rarely do, and her face was swollen shut," O'Brien said.

A life-threatening reaction to eggs caused grotesque swelling of the infant's face and instantly shook O'Brien to her core. She said her daughter's severe response prompted her to take a closer look at what she was feeding all of her children and to educate herself on food allergies.
No doubt, Robyn’s a DiseaseProof celebrity. Check out these posts:
Rock on Robyn, rock on!

Food Packaging and Nanotechnology


Nanotechnology used by the food-package industry is drawing scrutiny from environmental agencies. The Environmental News Network:
The food-packaging industry, food companies and consumers all share an interest in ensuring that any possible safety questions are identified and are carefully evaluated and resolved before marketing packaging materials that contain ENMs, according to the report authored by former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy official Michael R. Taylor.

The PEN-GMA report, Assuring the Safety of Nanomaterials in Food Packaging: The Regulatory Process and Key Issues, was a result of an effort by experts from government, industry and the public interest community to examine the path of a number of hypothetical nanotechnology food packaging applications through the current regulatory system. The regulatory system for food packaging is scientifically rigorous and extraordinarily complex, both legally and scientifically. This first-of-its-kind analysis provides a better understanding of the potential regulatory issues on the horizon for nanotechnology-enabled packaging — an advantage for industry, consumers and regulatory agencies such as FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
You know, fresh fruits and veggies don’t come in elaborate packing. For more on nanotechnology, be sure to read Nanotechnology: Cancer-risk.
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Artificial Turf, Full of Lead


Back in April federal authorities expressed concern over artificial turf and now their suspicions have been confirmed. Excess lead has been found in artificial turf. The Associated Press reports:
The report from the Center for Environmental Health comes after New Jersey officials found unacceptably high lead levels in some synthetic surfaces and federal authorities recommended lead testing on fraying sports fields.

The center's tests, which it hired an independent lab to verify, went beyond sports fields. They found excessive lead in indoor/outdoor carpeting, artificial lawns and playground grass made with nylon and polyethylene, said Charles Margulis, a spokesman for the group.

The group classified the amount of lead as excessive if it exceeded 600 parts per million, which is the maximum allowable in paint. About 50 products were tested, and at least 15 were found to have high lead levels.

In one test, the lead was so accessible it could be wiped away with a cloth, according to the Oakland, California-based group that focuses on identifying toxins in everyday consumer products.
Yeah, I stick to running on pavement.

Is Big Business Really Making Teflon Safe?


Many companies promised to phase out cancer-causing chemicals in Teflon by 2015, but, it seems they’re up to their old tricks instead. From the Environmental News Network:
But an investigation by Environmental Working Group (EWG) finds no evidence that the industry-touted replacement chemicals being rushed to market are safer -- and plenty of evidence that DuPont and other manufacturers are continuing a decades-long pattern of deception about the health risks of PFOA and related chemicals.

Like PFOA-based coatings, the new compounds are also made from, contaminated with, or break down into perfluorochemicals (PFCs), including new coatings for household products like stain-resistant fabrics and carpet, waterproof clothing, and food packaging. Like PFOA, they persist in the environment and can cross the placenta to contaminate babies before birth. But unlike PFOA — for which there are dozens of peer-reviewed studies showing links to cancer, reproductive problems and immune disorders — for the replacement chemicals there are almost no publicly available data on their health risks, leaving in question whether food packaging and other PFC-containing products are any safer.

EWG’s investigation is the first review of health data and industry greenwashing since the phaseout agreement was announced. We examined federal reports on food packaging toxicity; industry-funded health studies in Environmental Protection Agency files; and company e-mails unearthed in a lawsuit over PFOA pollution of drinking water near a DuPont facility in West Virginia.
Wait, big business ignoring social responsibility—no! You don’t say. Give me a break.

Suing Over Baby Bottles


Four Ohio parents are suing baby bottle-makers for using the harmful chemical bisphenol A. The Associated Press reports:
The complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court alleges the companies knew that a chemical known as bisphenol A was associated with health problems but didn't disclose the risk. It cites scientific studies that conclude BPA, as the chemical is also known, seeps from bottles and sippy-cups into liquid.

Seeking to ease public concerns about any health hazards, a federal health official told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee last week that the level of BPA exposure a person would receive from a plastic bottle is safe. Many of the studies that have reported higher levels were conducted under unrealistic conditions, said Dr. Norris Alderson, the Food and Drug Administration's associate commissioner for science.

"Although our review is ongoing, there's no reason to recommend consumers stop using products with (bisphenol A)," he said.
I’m sure the bottle-makers have some sort of contingency plan for all this. Social responsibility, what social responsibility?

Water, China's Tapped

With much of China’s groundwater polluted, they’re scrambling to meet the water demands of the 2008 Olympic Games. Via Green Daily:
As Beijing gears up for the Olympic Games and an expected 1.5 million thirsty visitors on top of the 18 million regular residents, the capital is sucking up water resources from around the country.

With Beijing's own groundwater resources largely polluted or disappearing from drought and overuse, the city is using its political clout to keep itself hydrated. In neighbouring Hebei Province, 80 billion gallons of water are being routed to Beijing from already depleted reservoirs. Rivers and canals are being diverted, and villages miles away from the capital are vanishing because their water supplies have been comandeered.

While the end of the Olympics will ease Beijing's thirst somewhat, it's clear that water shortages aren't going to go away, especially in light of the immense amount of the blue stuff required to keep China's factories churning out culottes and LCD screens. And global warming isn't going to help any.
I hope they figure something out, if not, there’s going to be a lot of crampy athletes!
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Vaccinations: Suggestions from Parents


Elizabeth Cohen of CNN has a compiled a list of requests parents have made over vaccinations. Take a look:
Five years ago, Kathye Petters-Armitage's first child received the exact vaccinations on the exact schedule recommended by her pediatrician.

But when she gave birth to her second child, Petters-Armitage had a change of heart.

In the intervening two years, she'd read a lot about concerns that vaccines cause autism and decided to ask her pediatrician to give her new baby fewer shots spread out over a longer period of time.

"I wasn't a hundred percent convinced there was a link between autism and vaccines," said Petters-Armitage, of Santa Clarita, California. "But I didn't want to be one of those parents who found out the hard way."

Pediatricians say they've seen a dramatic increase in the number of parents who, like Petters-Armitage, want to make changes in the vaccine schedule set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, a schedule once considered by many pediatricians to be sacred and largely immutable.
  • Delaying the first hepatitis B shot
  • Not doing some shots at all
  • Checking for 'titers' before giving booster shots
  • Spreading the vaccines out over a longer period of time
  • Splitting up combined shots
This is a lightening rod of an issue. Here’s a DiseaseProof post on the topic: Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours...

Migraines, What Sets Off the Pain?


CBS News identifies some possible triggers for migraine headaches. Take a look:
Tyramine:
Mechanism: amino acid and vasodilator
Found in: aged cheese, wine, chocolate, smoked, cured or pickled meat, processed meats, tofu, some fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, avocado, bananas and raspberries

Food Additives: Nitrites, MSG:
Mechanism: preservative that excites neurons and has been linked to the onset of migraines; research is inconclusive.
Found in: Chinese food, cheese powders such as Doritos, Campbell's soups, potato chips, frozen meals, and some salad dressings

Aspartame:
Mechanism: artificial sweetener that research has linked to onset of migraines, though mechanism is unknown. Some believe it's linked to serotonin. It's been shown to cause neurons to fire spasmodically, burning out neurons.
Found in: diet drinks and foods

Alcohol: contsains Histamines
Mechanism: histamines stimulate the immune system
Found in: wine and beer, some cheese, beef, pork, bananas
Now, Dr. Fuhrman is all about using nutrition to overcome migraines. He explains:
I see many patients who have come to me after seeing neurologists and headache specialists who had given MRI’s and multiple drug regiments. Frequently, these patients suffer from the side effects of the medications, yet they continue to experience ongoing headaches. I spend lots of time with these patients explaining that a complete cure, without the need for medication, is possible. They can elevate their health with nutritional excellence. They can be slowly weaned off their medication and eventually achieve complete resolution of their recurrent headache problems.
And things like MSG and aspartame AREN'T part of excellent nutrition! For more on this , check out:  Retained Toxins are the Major Cause of Headaches.

Are Shower Curtains Dangerous?


Nowadays everyone is creeped out by plastic and phthalates, but should we be worrying about shower curtains too? More from Bethany Sanders of ParentDish:
Phthalates also may pose a health risk, however, and have been linked to everything from hormonal changes to allergies to cancer. They also are present in many common household products, including your shower curtain. You know that chemical-y odor you smell when you first put up a new vinyl curtain? That's an indicator that the curtain you bought contains phthalates.

Consumers have reported nausea, headaches, and even breathing difficulty after putting a new shower curtain into place. Because children spend a lot of time in the tub, not only getting clean but also playing, this can be a concern for parents.

Of course, it's easy enough to get around this problem -- don't buy shower curtains that say "PVC," "vinyl," or have the number 3 in the recycling symbol. Also, avoid shower curtains that are unlabeled. Instead, stick to fabric shower curtains and liners instead. (For those of you that think fabric shower curtains are more work, we bought a fabric liner last year and not only is it far less likely to mildew, it's simple to clean.)
What’s next? Pen caps and sandwich bags!

Canadian Salmon, Low Mercury


A new study claims Canadian salmon has low-levels of contaminants, including mercury. WebMD is on it:
Total mercury levels in the wild salmon tested were three times higher than in farmed, but total mercury intake from both types of fish was found to be lower than from many other foods.

The study was funded by the Canadian fishing industry, which supplies much of the farmed salmon eaten in the United States.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about the safety of farmed salmon vs. wild, and there have also been suggestions that Canadian and other Atlantic-farmed salmon contains more contaminants than farm-raised fish from other areas, such as Chile. The newly published study was conducted in an attempt to address these concerns.

Researchers measured mercury levels as well as levels of 18 other trace metals in commercial salmon feed and farmed and wild salmon from British Columbia fisheries and waters.
And according to Dr. Fuhrman, in addition to salmon, fishes like flounder, sole, tilapia, and trout are also safer choices.

Eco-Points: Burning PCBs and Dole Planting Trees


Despite that law, Veolia Environmental Services is asking the EPA to let it ignore the law and import more than 20,000 tons of PCBs from Mexico for incineration.

And let's talk about just how nasty PCBs are. Some are implicated as carcinogens. PCBs and breakdown products may suppress your immune system, can impair your reproductive system; and they accumulate and linger in the body. Pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable and sensitive populations to harm from exposure to PCBs.

Veolia ES already incinerates all sorts of hazardous things in Port Arthur - including chemical weapons the Army no longer needs (and under controversial arrangements, as well). A Gulf Coast town, Port Arthur is home to many chemical plants, Superfund sites and oil refineries. Local resident Hilton Kelly said because the town is also home to many low-income families, Veolia sees it as the path of least resistance. It is an environmental justice issue. "They're taking advantage of this community," said Kelly.

Dole Food Company, Inc and its operating divisions in Latin America celebrated World Environment Day yesterday by organizing tree-planting events and environmental awareness campaigns with communities, employees and local officials to motivate participants to work toward environmental protection and mitigation of climate change.


Jonathan Bass, President of Dole Latin America stated, “I am pleased to see and share in the excitement that these World Environment Day events have produced with our employees and workers and particularly within the communities in which our production units operate. We all have an important role to play in protecting the environment”.

In Costa Rica, the event is also linked to the official opening of Dole’s organic pineapple plantation reaffirming the company’s leading position in organic agriculture and alternative production methods. The activity includes the planting of 5,000 trees provided by the National Electricity Institute as part of the Costa Rican Government’s pledge to plant 7 million trees in the year 2008. School children, local government regulators, field workers, office employees, neighbors and the region’s congresswoman will plant trees at the organic plantation to commemorate World Environment Day and demonstrate the effectiveness of private, public and community partnership.

Silver Fillings, Dangerous?


The FDA says silver-colored dental fillings may pose a mercury risk for pregnant women, children, and fetuses. Reuters reports:
As part of the settlement with several consumer advocacy groups, the FDA agreed to alert consumers about the potential risks on its website and to issue a more specific rule next year for fillings that contain mercury, FDA spokeswoman Peper Long said.

Millions of Americans have the fillings, or amalgams, to patch cavities in their teeth.

"Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses," the FDA said in a notice on its Web site.

"Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury bioburden, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner," the agency said.
Actually, I’m in the process of getting mine switched to white fillings.

Vaccines, Autism, Marching...



Jim Carrey leads a march over vaccines and autism. CBS News is on it:
"We want to send the message to the CDC and our federal government that vaccinations schedules are not one size fits all for all children and that each child is different," said concerned parent Michael Williamson.

Their new battle cry: Spread out the vaccine schedule.

"Thirty-six vaccines in the first few years of the life are too many too soon," Carrey said.

By the time a child is two years old, the CDC recommends 14 different vaccines in as many as 28 doses. That may sound like a lot - but these shots have helped to wipe out diseases like smallpox, polio and measles, saving an estimated 33,000 lives a year, according to the CDC.

Even so, some are asking: Why give so many vaccines over a relatively short period of time? Dr. Paul Offit helped invent one of those vaccines.
For more on vaccines, check out: Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours.
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Thursday: Health Points


Using surveillance of hospital staff to observe the ways the wipes are used routinely, researchers discovered hospital workers were using the same antimicrobial wipe on many surfaces, from bed rails to monitors, tables, and keypads. One wipe was frequently used to wipe down several surfaces or to wipe down the same surface repeatedly before being thrown away.

The research team then replicated the disinfecting methods they’d observed for laboratory analysis. The lab findings showed that some wipes were more effective than others at removing bacteria from hard surfaces but they did not kill them. When the bacteria-laden wipe was used repeatedly on one surface or on several, it spread the bacteria instead of eliminating it.
The Agriculture Department, which detected the flu in samples tested at its Ames, Iowa, laboratories, said the H7N3 strain of influenza isn't dangerous to humans. Although the Tyson flock of 15,000 chickens is being destroyed, regulators aren't blocking U.S. consumers from eating chicken raised in Arkansas, the largest poultry-producing state after Georgia.


The Tyson label has been a point of contention and confusion since it was cleared by the Agriculture Department in May 2007. As the department was moving to rescind the label, Tyson officials tried to beat regulators to the punch by announcing earlier this week that it was "voluntarily" withdrawing the label.

Removing the label quickly is a logistical and financial headache for Tyson, which said Tuesday that the Agriculture Department's June 18 deadline is "unrealistic." Tyson says it has "several months" of chicken labeled "antibiotic-free" in storage.

Agriculture Minister Chung Woon-chun said earlier Tuesday that Seoul had asked the U.S. to refrain from exporting any beef from cattle 30 months of age and older, considered at greater risk of the illness.


Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said the president told a weekly Cabinet meeting that "it is natural not to bring in meat from cattle 30 months of age and older as long as the people do not want it."

The spokesman also expressed hope that the United States would respect South Korea's position following large-scale anti-government protests over the weekend.
The risk of being hospitalized was greatest among babies 6 months old and younger, but the increased risk persisted up until the children were 8 years old, Dr. M. K. Kwok of the University of Hong Kong and colleagues found. Children who were premature or low birth weight were particularly vulnerable.


The findings suggest that secondhand smoke exposure may not only be harmful to children's respiratory tracts, but to their immune systems as well, Kwok and colleagues say.

Hong Kong banned smoking in public places in 2007, but babies and children may still be exposed to secondhand smoke at home, the researchers note in their report in the journal Tobacco Control. While the danger smoke exposure poses to children's developing respiratory systems is well understood, less is known about its effects on overall infection risks.

Scientists previously thought that fat cells were relatively passive and inert. Now they have evidence that fat cells are metabolically active, continuously communicating with the brain and other organs through at least 25 hormones and other signaling chemicals.


For example, fat cells seem to release hormones that inform the brain how much energy is left and when to stop (or start) eating, guide muscles in deciding when to burn fat and tell the liver when to replenish its fat stores.

All this cross talk can be a mixed blessing in the body, however. A healthy population of fat cells, for example, helps the immune system fight off infection by releasing chemicals that cause mild inflammation. But an overactive group of fat cells might keep the inflammation permanently in the "on" position, eventually leading to heart disease.
Adult-onset asthma, like other inflammatory diseases that disproportionately affect women such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, may be a relatively strong risk factor for heart disease and stroke, Dr. Stephen J. Onufrak from the US Department of Agriculture, Stoneville, Mississippi told Reuters Health.


Onufrak and colleagues used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study to examine the association of asthma with the risks of heart disease and stroke according to gender.

They found that, compared with their counterparts without asthma, women with adult-onset asthma had a 2.10-fold increase in the rate of heart disease and a 2.36-fold increase in the rate of stroke.

There was no association between childhood- or adult-onset asthma and heart disease or stroke in men, or between childhood-onset asthma and heart or stroke in women.

Researchers found that among 9,100 middle-aged men at higher-than- average risk of heart disease, those with gout were more likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular cause over 17 years.


The findings should give men with gout extra incentive to have a doctor assess their cardiac risks, lead researcher Dr. Eswar Krishnan told Reuters Health.

And if they have modifiable risk factors -- like high cholesterol, high blood pressure or excess pounds -- it will be particularly important to get them under control, noted Krishnan, an assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Give Yourself Permission to Do Less.
If you're struggling to exercise at all, bribe yourself with a mini-workout--it's better than none. You may not need to, once you get going, but the "permission" should be sincere. It's not the end of the world to shave off 10 minutes of cardio or skip a few strength training exercises. Check your routine for duplicate exercises that work the same muscles --you may be able to alternate rather than doing them all every time. If the thought of an easier workout gets you out the door, it's well worth doing "less" sometimes.


Change Routes and Routines.
Another obvious tip, but one we don't do often enough. If you exercise outdoors and have found the "best" route available for your run or walk, it can be tempting to just stick to it until you are totally sick of it but don't even realize it. Find new routes, or if there are none, revisit rejects that seemed too hilly or busy or boring--they may make a good change of pace even if they're not perfect.

To Ban Food Dyes...


Yesterday we learned that food additives may contribute to ADHD and now The Center for Science in the Public Interest is calling for an outright ban on food colorings. More from Anna Boyd of eFluxMedia:
Therefore, the group is asking the FDA to ban the following eight food dyes: Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, and Yellow 6. These ingredients, primarily derived from petroleum and coal tars, are used in everything from candies to cereals, soft drinks, and snack foods. Jacobson told the Associated Press that these chemicals are used to mask the absence of real food and to increase the appeal of a low-nutrition product to children.

However, the FDA dismissed the request saying on its web site “although the hypothesis was popularized in the 1970s, well-controlled studies conducted since then have produced no evidence that food additives cause hyperactivity or learning disabilities in children.”

The FDA’s position was also embraced by a prominent industry group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, whose chief science officer Robert Brackett said parents and children “can safely enjoy food products containing these food colors.”
You’d think the potential health risks would outweigh any need to consume colored eggs and purple candies—right?

Wednesday: Health Points

An analysis of adult eating habits in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that eating apples and apple products could greatly reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Researchers who looked at the NHANES data found that regularly consuming apples, applesauce or apple juice reduced the overall risk of metabolic syndrome by 27 percent.

An estimated 36 million Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X or insulin-resistance syndrome. It is linked to heart disease and diabetes and is characterized by hypertension, increased waist size and abdominal fat and elevated c-reactive protein levels.
"These data show that probiotic supplements modulate immune responses...and may have the potential to alleviate the severity of symptoms," Claudio Nicoletti and colleagues at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, Britain, reported in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy.


Probiotics contain live micro-organisms, so-called good bacteria that colonize the intestine. They are sold as supplements but are also found naturally in many fermented foods, including yogurt and certain juices.

Humans normally carry several pounds of bacteria in their intestines and they are key to digestion, immune system function and possibly play other beneficial roles. They can also out-compete "bad" bacteria that may cause disease.
Research shows that may not be a great idea. In a recent study, British researchers conducted a review of the medical literature going back to the 1950s in search of scientific evidence supporting the claim. They found none. Then, after a biochemical analysis, they compared the contents of colas and other sodas with over-the-counter oral-rehydration solutions containing electrolytes and small amounts of sugar.


The soft drinks, the authors found, not only contained very low amounts of potassium, sodium and other electrolytes, but also in some cases as much as seven times the glucose recommended by the World Health Organization for rehydration. “Carbonated drinks, flat or otherwise, including cola, provide inadequate fluid and electrolyte replacement and cannot be recommended,” they said.
The study, published in the American Medical Association's journal Archives of General Psychiatry, also found the heavy cannabis users earned lower scores than the nonusers in a verbal learning task -- trying to recall a list of 15 words.


The marijuana users were more likely to exhibit mild signs of psychotic disorders, but not enough to be formally diagnosed with any such disorder, the researchers said.

"These findings challenge the widespread perception of cannabis as having limited or no harmful effects on (the) brain and behavior," said Murat Yucel of ORYGEN Research Centre and the University of Melbourne, who led the study.
Convenience stores across the state and the smokers who will be paying the price are angry about the change, but health officials hail the tax increase as a success. Cigarette taxes will raise a total of $1.3 billion for the state budget in fiscal year 2008-2009, including the new tax.


"Isn't that something - to say that I'm excited about a tax increase? But I am," said Dr. Richard Daines, the New York health commissioner. "This is a public health victory. We know one of the really effective tools to get people off of their nicotine addiction is to the raise the price."

Smokers will be paying $2.75 per pack in state taxes, a jump from the previous tax of $1.50. Before the new tax, the average price of a pack of cigarettes was $5.82 statewide, and about $8 a pack in New York City, which levies its own taxes, Daines said. The new retail price for a pack in the city could now soar past $10 depending on the store.
Very preterm infants who are fed human milk that is supplemented with fatty acids show signs of improved intellectual development, or "cognition," at 6 months of age, researchers in Norway report in the medical journal Pediatrics.


During pregnancy, fatty acids are transferred to the fetus by placental proteins and incorporated into cell membranes, Dr. Christian Andre Drevon and colleagues explain. However, premature infants are relatively deprived of two fatty acids -- docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid -- because human milk supplies less than the fetus receives in the womb.

Drevon, at the University of Oslo, and colleagues examined the effect of adding docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid supplements to human breast milk, which was given to very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (birth weight less than 1500 grams, or about 3.3 lbs.). Infants with major birth defects or cerebral hemorrhage were excluded from the study.
True or false?
  1. Brussels sprouts are a type of cabbage.
  2. Brussels sprouts provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection for your body.
  3. Brussels sprouts are low in fiber.
  4. Phytonutrients in Brussels sprouts help the body to defend against diseases.
  5. Folate is one nutrient that can't be found in Brussels sprouts.
  6. If you need a good night's sleep, eating Brussels sprouts for dinner can help because they contain tryptophan, which is sleep-promoting.
  7. Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin A.
Their findings, confirmed in two studies the researchers did on mice, were published in the June 2 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.


Researchers have long known that inflammation caused by infectious agents, such as Helicobacter pylori and hepatitis C, produces cytokines -- chemicals that can foster cancerous cell proliferation and suppress cell death. This increases the risk of stomach and liver cancers. They had also suspected that the inflammation pathway could also induce cancer, as the body's response to infection includes a release of reactive oxygen and nitrogen that can damage DNA.

Normally, the DNA damage would be repaired by the cells. But, if the DNA repair system is not functioning properly, the damage could induce cell mutations that can lead to cancer, according to the new study.

15 Million Kids in China Smoke

And around 40 million chinese children between the ages of 13 and 18 have tried smoking. The AFP reports:
Fifteen million had become addicted to tobacco, the report said.

"The number of youths in China that have tried smoking and who now smoke increases year after year," the report said, without giving any comparative figures.

"Male students are the main smokers among school children, and in big cities, the number of female students who have tried smoking or who smoke is growing."

Between 66 and 68 percent of those that had tried tobacco products had smoked their first whole cigarette before they even reached 13, according to the report, a 15 percent increase from 1998.

China has about 350 million smokers, about a quarter of its population and one-third of the world's smokers, according to official statistics.
Where are the millions of parents to straighten these kids out?
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Stroke Risk: A Little Pollution Goes a Long Way

According to a new study even low levels of air pollution may increase stroke-risk. More from the Annals of Neurology:
The results showed borderline significant associations between same day and previous day fine particulate matter exposures and ischemic stroke/TIA risk. Similar associations were seen with ozone. Despite the fossil fuel industry in the area, fine particulate matter exposures were relatively low relative to other regions in the US, probably because of the proximity to the coast and prevailing wind patterns. “Although the magnitude of elevated risk of stroke/TIA due to PM2.5 exposure was relatively small, the vast majority of the public is exposed to ambient air pollution at the levels observed in this community or greater every day, suggesting a potentially large public health impact.”

These findings support the hypotheses that recent exposure to fine particulate matter may increase the risk of ischemic cerebrovascular events specifically. There is experimental evidence that particulate air pollution is associated with acute artery vasoconstriction and with increases in plasma viscosity (thickening of the blood) which may enhance the potential for blood clots, although this requires further study.
The sad part is I’m not really sure what you can do to avoid this—not breathe!

Thursday: Health Points

"I never would have thought that we would be seeing these effects into the later 20s," said study co-author Kim Dietrich, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. "I'm actually quite astounded and quite worried about this. Although lead levels have been going down in this country, a large proportion of the population now in their 20s and 30s had blood levels in this neurotoxic range."

Childhood lead exposure has been linked with anti-social behavior, lower IQ, attention deficits, hyperactivity and weak executive control functions, all of which are risk factors for future delinquent behavior (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, in particular, is a risk factor for adult criminal behavior). Studies have also related sales of leaded gasoline or high atmospheric lead levels with criminal behavior.
Peak Corn: Blame Earl Butz. Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford's Secretary of Agriculture brought in the Farm Bill that dramatically increased the amount of corn produced in America. He encouraged farmers to "get big or get out," and to plant crops like corn "from fence row to fence row." Further billions in subsidies to farmers encouraged production, and soon America was awash in cheap grain, and with it cheap meat.


Peak Dirt: Really, Peak Dirt- the world is losing soil 10 to 20 times faster than it is replenishing it. Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe tells us that dirt is complicated stuff, made from sand or silt, then years of plants adding nutrition, bugs and worms adding their excrement, dying and rotting.
California Water Service Company reports high levels of mercury in water making it useless for drinking. Every attempts of purifying the water, such as boiling it, are useless, because the pollution level is high.


Mercury is much more dangerous when drinking than when breathing. However, boiling the water leads to mercury release into the air, so the pollution and health risk still exists.

California Water Service Company is now notifying residents about health concerns. Sheriff's Office itself is investigating the case to find out the reasons of why mercury level is so high.
Get enough sleep: Most of us know that money can't buy happiness, but who knew that a good night's sleep just might? That's a key finding of that University of Michigan study. "Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night," says study author Norbert Schwarz, Ph.D., a professor of psychology.


Take the long view: Having a sense of perspective will also improve your attitude. "It gives you more patience, and it certainly awakens you to the preciousness of the moment, which is fleeting," says M.J. Ryan, author of The Happiness Makeover. She remembers the times when her daughter wanted to sit on her lap and watch a video. "Yes, I had other things to do. But I said to myself, 'How long will this last?' I'm grateful for that time with her."
The germ, resistant to some antibiotics, has become a regular menace in hospitals and nursing homes. The study found it played a role in nearly 300,000 hospitalizations in 2005, more than double the number in 2000.


The infection, Clostridium difficile, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and a more serious intestinal condition known as colitis. It is spread by spores in feces. But the spores are difficult to kill with most conventional household cleaners or antibacterial soap.

C-diff, as it's known, has grown resistant to certain antibiotics that work against other colon bacteria. The result: When patients take those antibiotics, competing bacteria die off and C-diff explodes.
Dr. Monique M. B. Breteler told Reuters Health that her group had previously found that men, but not women, with a silent heart attack are more likely to have a stroke than men who had a recognized heart attack or those who had not had any heart attack.


To examine whether this might also be the case for dementia and so-called cerebral small vessel disease, Breteler of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and her colleagues examined data for more than 6300 participants in a population-based study.

At the start of the study, from 1990 to 1993, the subjects were classified as having a recognized heart attack, not having a heart attack, or having had an unrecognized heart attack based on EKG tracings. They were followed for the occurrence of dementia, of which there were 613 cases by 2005.
The Food and Drug Administration gained new powers in March to require distribution limits or other restrictions on the sale of new medicines.


"That's taking a considerable amount of time more for every application. That will go away in time," Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an interview with Reuters.

At present, the process is adding days or weeks to reviews of drugs that need the additional safety measures, she said.

Woodcock has worked at the FDA for more than two decades. In March, she returned to a previous post running the agency's drugs division after taking other leadership responsibilities.
Social psychologists have already shown that thoughts about death can spur buying behaviour. For example, in the months following 9/11 shops in the US noted a spike in purchases of luxury products, canned goods and sweets.


To better understand the link between thoughts of mortality and the urge to consume, Naomi Mandel at Arizona State University, Tempe, and Dirk Smeesters at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, asked 746 students to write essays on one of two topics: their death or a visit to the dentist. Each participant also completed a questionnaire designed to evaluate their level of self-esteem.

They found that subjects with low self-esteem who wrote about death ate more cookies, when given the opportunity, and bought more items from a hypothetical shopping list compared to those who wrote about the dentist. In people with high self-esteem, thoughts of death had little effect.

Pregnancy, Babies, and Fish

If you’re pregnant Dr. Fuhrman suggests avoiding seafood. Why? Mercury contamination. Here, I’ll let him explain:
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.
And a new study reveals the catch-22 that is seafood. It seems fish can help babies’ cognitive function, but mercury can hurt it. Reuters reports:
"Recommendations for fish consumption during pregnancy should take into account the nutritional benefits of fish as well as the potential harms from mercury exposure," Dr. Emily Oken of Harvard Medical School in Boston and her colleagues write in the May 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Advisories on mercury contamination of certain types of large, long-lived fish -- including tuna and swordfish -- have raised concerns about seafood consumption during pregnancy, Oken and her team note. On the other hand, fish are also the chief dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, substances key to early brain development, they add.

To better understand the risks and benefits of fish consumption, Oken and her team surveyed 341 mothers about their intake of fish during the second trimester of pregnancy, and then had their children complete a battery of tests of cognitive function at 3 years of age.

On average, women reported eating 1.5 servings of fish each week while they were pregnant. The amount of mercury the women had in their red blood cells was directly related to the amount of fish they ate. Children's test scores rose with the amount of fish their mothers had consumed, but those whose mothers had more mercury in their bodies performed less well on the tests.
I think this is one of those better to be safe, than sorry situations—skip the fish.
Continue Reading...

Energy Drinks and Teenagers Don't Mix

Caffeine is not your friend. Sure, it might give you that “pick up” in the morning, but it’s not doing your health any favors. Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jeff Novick, MS, RD explains:
“After drinking a cup of coffee, blood pressure can rise up to 5 or even 10 millimeters of mercury,” said Dr. Charalambos Vlachopoulos from the Cardiology Department of the Henry Dunant Hospital in Athens, Greece. Increases of this magnitude can increase a person’s risk of suffering from a stroke or a heart attack.

Elsewhere, Dr. M. O’Rourke and colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia, presented data at the 22nd Congress of the European Society of Cardiology linking caffeine consumption with alterations in the aorta, the main artery supplying blood to the body. Their study showed that caffeine led to a loss of aortic elasticity and raised blood pressure. The elasticity of the aorta is linked to heart function and coronary blood flow.

In a Finnish study reported in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Dr. Maarku Heliovaara of the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and colleagues found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee each day had twice the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, compared with people who drank less coffee.
Now, new research has determined that teenagers who drink energy drinks—which are LOADED with caffeine—are more likely to engage in “risky” behavior. Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times reports:
In March, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior. The study’s author, Kathleen Miller, an addiction researcher at the University of Buffalo, says it suggests that high consumption of energy drinks is associated with “toxic jock” behavior, a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.

The finding doesn’t mean the drinks cause bad behavior. But the data suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks may be a red flag for parents that their children are more likely to take risks with their health and safety.

“It appears the kids who are heavily into drinking energy drinks are more likely to be the ones who are inclined toward taking risks,” Dr. Miller says. The American Beverage Association says its members don’t market energy drinks to teenagers. “The intended audience is adults,” says Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the group. He says the marketing is meant for “people who can actually afford the two or three bucks to buy the products.”
Makes sense to me. Isn’t gambling with your health one of the biggest risks you can take?

7 Billion Hot Dogs...

According to the “National Hot Dog & Sausage Council” 7 billion hot dogs will be consumed between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Via That’sFit:
This means that roughly 818 hot dogs will be eaten every second during the summer. That's a lot, considering the average annual consumption is 20 billion.

I'm not a big fan of the hot dog, myself. For one, I'm never really sure from what the things are made. Second, I don't love all the fat that comes packed into each modest serving.
Not good. Hot dogs are hardly a super food. In fact, they’re among the worst foods you could eat. Here’s Dr. Fuhrman’s list:
Worst Seven Foods for Health and Longevity
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
And they’re doubly bad for kids. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
The Five Most Dangerous Things to Feed Your Child
  • Butter and cheese: full of saturated fat and fat-delivered chemical pollutants
  • Potato chips and French fries: rich in trans fat, salt, and carcinogenic acrylamides
  • Doughnuts and other trans fat-containing sweets: rich in trans fat, sugar, and other artificial substances
  • Sausages, hot dogs, and other luncheon meats: contain N-nitroso compounds that are potent carcinogens
  • Pickled, smoked, or barbequed meats: places you at risk of both stomach cancer and high blood pressure.
Perhaps the really scary thing here, is there’s actually a National Hot Dog & Sausage Council—EEK!

Paint May Harm Male Fertility!

Guys pay attention. A study in BMJ journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine claims that men exposed to glycol ethers—found in some paint—are at risk for poor semen quality. More from The Universities of Sheffield and Manchester:
The findings are a result of a major collaborative UK study to determine the occupational risks of male infertility through chemical exposure in the workplace. The study, undertaken in 14 fertility clinics in 11 cities across the UK, examined the working lives of 2,118 men.

The researchers however did conclude that, apart from glycol ether, there are currently few workplace chemical threats to male fertility.

In additional to chemical exposure, the study looked at other non-chemical factors in the men´s lifestyle. The researchers discovered that men who had undergone previous surgery to the testicles or who undertook manual work were more likely to have low motile sperm counts, whereas men who drank alcohol regularly or wore boxer shorts were more likely to have better semen quality.

Dr. Andy Povey, senior lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Manchester, said: "We know that certain glycol ethers can affect male fertility and the use of these has reduced over the past two decades. However our results suggest that they are still a workplace hazard and that further work is needed to reduce such exposure."
For more news on toxins, check out DiseaseProof’s toxins category.

Your Home, a Toxic Place...

Health magazine’s Samantha Heller discusses the most toxic places in your house—scary stuff! Via Poked & Prodded:


When I lived at home, my mom would say the most toxic part of the house is where my dirty socks lurked.
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Vaccines...Safe?

Alice Park of Time digs deeply into the issue of vaccine safety. Here’s a bit:
More than any other issue, the question of autism has fueled the battle over vaccines. Since the 1980s, the number of vaccinations children receive has doubled, and in that same time, autism diagnoses have soared threefold. In 1998, British gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield of London's Royal Free Hospital published a paper in the journal the Lancet in which he reported on a dozen young patients who were suffering from both autism-like developmental disorders and intestinal symptoms that included inflammation, pain and bloating. Eight of the kids began exhibiting signs of autism days after receiving the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella. While Wakefield and his co-authors were careful not to suggest that these cases proved a connection between vaccines and autism, they did imply, provocatively, that exposure to the measles virus could be a contributing factor to the children's autism. Wakefield later went on to speculate that virus from the vaccine led to inflammation in the gut that affected the brain development of the children…

…There is also little evidence to support the claim made by antivaccine activists that the battery of shots kids receive can damage the immune system rather than strengthen it. Experts stress that it's not the number of inoculations that matters but the number of immune-stimulating antigens - or proteins - in them. Thanks to a better understanding of which viral or bacterial proteins are best at activating the immune system, that number has plummeted. The original smallpox injection alone packed 200 different immune-alerting antigens in a single shot. Today there are only 150 antigens in all 15 or so shots babies get before they are 6 months old. "The notion that too many vaccines can overwhelm the immune system is just not based on good science," says Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia…

… Whether tests like these, combined with detailed family histories, will make a difference in the rates of developmental disorders like autism isn't yet clear. But such a strategy could reveal new avenues of research and lead to safer inoculations overall. Parents concerned about vaccine safety would then have stronger answers to their questions about how their child might be affected by the shots. Vaccines may be a medical marvel, but they are only one salvo in our fight against disease-causing bugs. It's worth remembering that viruses and bacteria have had millions of years to perfect their host-finding skills; our abilities to rebuff them are only two centuries old. And in that journey, both parents and public-health officials want the same thing - to protect future generations from harm.
For more on vaccinations, check out last month’s feature post: Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours.

Trans-Fat-Free Fries...Still Bad!

Hooray-hooray! McDonald’s will start cooking its fries in trans-fat-free oil—like it matters, yuck! Dave Carpenter of the Associated Press reports:
McDonald's french fries are now trans-fat-free in all its restaurants in the United States and Canada, the fast-food restaurant chain said Thursday.

McDonald's has lagged other restaurant operators in switching over to a zero-trans-fat cooking oil out of worries it would compromise the taste of its trademark fries. It has been under increasing pressure from consumer advocates and some public officials to make the change.

The new oil is canola-based and includes corn and soy oils.

CEO Jim Skinner told shareholders at the annual meeting at its headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., that the new oil has been in use in U.S. restaurants for a few months now for french fries, hash browns, chicken, filet of fish and biscuits.

He said McDonald's is on schedule to convert to the new oil by year's end for its remaining baked items, pies and cookies.
Yeah, like this does ANYTING to seriously impact the unhealthiness of French fries, they’re still full of fat and hello—acrylamides! More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Frying and overcooking leads to the highest levels of acrylamide, the highest of which are found in fried chips, such as potato chips and French fries. Acrylamide is one of the most potent cancer-causing agents. It is found in highest amounts in carbohydrates cooked at high temperatures. European governments permit 10 parts per million (ppb) of acrylamide in packaged foods, but U.S. standards are more lax.
Although, if you have a squeaky door hinge, try rubbing those fries on it—it’ll fix it in a jiff!

Nanotechnology: Cancer-risk

Nanotechnology makes me think of the Borg, but it can be just as scary. New research has determined that carbon nanotubes used in bike parts and bumpers act like asbestos if inhaled. Alan Zarembo of The Los Angeles Times reports:
Researchers found that mice injected with nanotubes quickly developed the same biological damage associated with early exposure to asbestos fibers, a known carcinogen.

The study showed "the potential to cause harm if these things get into the air and into the lungs," said coauthor Andrew Maynard, a physicist at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Maynard said the nanotubes posed the greatest danger to workers who could inhale the dust-like particles during manufacturing. In finished products, the nanotubes are embedded in other material and thus pose less risk to consumers.

Sean Murdock, head of the NanoBusiness Alliance, an industry trade group based in Skokie, Ill., said precautions were now in place in many factories, usually requiring workers to wear respirators. Nanotubes are largely made in closed chemical reactors, he added.

"The good news is that we're understanding the potential hazards before we have large-scale use of these products and not four decades later," he said.
Nanoparticles are also used in sunscreens and cosmetics, but nanoparticles are something of an unknown. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Although nanotechnology may be the next scientific revolution, experts feel we should proceed with caution when exploiting the unpredictable properties that material exhibit at the nanoscale.


The size of nanoparticles is the concern; being 70 times smaller than a red blood cell and close to a DNA molecule in diameter potentially could allow them to penetrate the skin and possibly even elude the immune system to reach the brain.
Sounds like more research needs to be done before we hand nanotechnology the key to the city, and our bodies.

Wednesday: Health Points


A report released this week by the Stockholm International Water Institute says that as much as 50 percent of the calories grown globally don't make it to the table. Given that crop production uses about 1,800 trillion gallons (1,700 cubic miles) of water a year, almost 40 percent of which comes from irrigation rather than rainwater, that loss represents a lot of water.

In the United States, up to 30 percent of food is tossed out each year, the report says, worth about $48.8 billion and equivalent to flushing 10 trillion gallons of water down the drain.

"There's a very low awareness about the size of these figures," said report lead author Jan Lundqvist. "I think most people don't realize that the loss and the wastage is at that level."
They were navigating the streets of the nation's capital, on the way to get their hair done. Nakia Sanford was driving, while Washington Mystics teammate Taj McWilliams-Franklin sat in the passenger's seat talking and playing with her iPod.


"I look up, and there's this restaurant," McWilliams-Franklin said. "Soul Vegetarian?"

Sanford pulled over on the spot. The hair would have to wait.

"We hopped out, went in there, it was awesome," McWilliams-Franklin said. "We had soy mac and cheese, whole wheat pasta, soy cheese, soy milk, and it was fabulous."

The chance pit stop at the Soul Vegetarian Cafe was a rare moment in American professional sports: Two players from the same team indulging their dietary preferences by sharing a vegan meal.
If you are vegetarian or vegan you're probably used to meat-eaters asking you "How do you get your protein?". If you're sick and tired of rattling off a list of veg foods, then you need "How I Get My Protein: A List of Meat-Free Protein Sources"!


This adorable pocket-sized book measures 3 x 1 7/8 inches and contains a short list of meat-free protein sources, the amount of protein per serving, and % daily value.

Also included is information on how much protein the average person needs each day, and a list of resources on vegetarian and vegan nutrition.
A study recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that teens in towns with complete smoking bans were 40 percent less likely to become established smokers compared with their peers in areas with weak restrictions.


The study followed 3,834 Massachusetts youths, ages 12 to 17, for up to four years. I

In towns where smoking wasn't restricted or was only partially restricted, 9.6 percent and 9.8 percent of the youths, respectively, became established smokers over the study period.

But in towns where smoking was banned in restaurants, 7.9 percent became smokers.
According to a recent study, one third of American parents have no clue what to expect after they're no longer expecting. This is bad news for babies because parents with unrealistically high expectations can become frustrated, and those with low ones may inadvertently hinder on-track development or delay treatment for correctable condition.


In the study, parents of 10,000 babies were assessed using both a written test and videotape of the parents attempting to teach their young children a new task. The findings showed 31% of the parents surveyed had low-level knowledge of infant development.

One of the researchers, Heather Paradis feels doctors need to step up to help correct the situation. "This is a wake-up call for pediatricians," Paradis said. "At office visits, we have a prime opportunity to intervene and help realign parents' expectations for their infants, and in turn, promote healthy physical, social, and emotional development for these children.
In a study of more than 5,500 men and women ages 30 to 79, researchers found that three-quarters of women and two-thirds of men reported at least one urinary tract symptoms -- such as frequent trips to the bathroom overnight, difficulty emptying the bladder and urinary incontinence.


Obese adults were more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to have multiple, more severe symptoms. Smoking, lack of exercise and heavy drinking were also linked to more serious urinary problems.

The researchers, led by Dr. John B. McKinlay of the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, report the findings in the medical journal BJU International.
Now there's a new risk factor -- researchers are saying that cell phone usage during pregnancy can cause hyperactivity and emotional or behavioral issues in children.


Over 13,000 mothers in Denmark were surveyed -- some didn't use a cell phone at all, others used one sporadically, and a third group used their cells often during pregnancy. Their results indicate that using a cell phone as little as two to three times a day during pregnancy can cause health issues -- hyperactivity, conduct issues, emotional issues, or difficult with relationships -- for the children.
BAD: Most cereals made for kids contain more calories, sugar and salt and less fiber and protein than other cereals. Most kids' cereals don't meet national school nutrition standards.


Good: Eat according to the colors of the rainbow. The more colors to your food -- such as the reds, oranges, yellows, greens and even blues of fruits and vegetables -- the more important nutrients you'll get.

Toxins: Flame Retardants and Garden Hoses

Some experts believe PBDE’s—found in flame retardant furniture and other products—are harmful to human health. CBS News reports:

"I am concerned about developing children, concerned about exposure before you are born," said Linda Birnbaum, a senior toxicologist at the EPA. She is concerned because PBDEs cause the kind of health effects in young animals that are warning signs for infant humans.


"They can affect the developing brain and they can affect the developing reproductive system," she said. "There is very limited evidence whether or not they can cause cancer."

"This is concentrating in human beings, just like PCBs," said Maine state toxicologist Deborah Rice, a former EPA scientist.

She once studied PCBs, toxic chemicals banned in the 1970s. She now compares them to the chemical Deca, the one PBDE still produced in America.
And The Center for Environmental Health claims the garden hoses—in the nozzle and hose—may contain lead. More from Julie’s Health Club:

Judy Gajewski, 65, was shocked after she read the packaging of her new garden hose nozzle: "Wash hands after use" it instructed, due to the possibility that it might leach lead.


Gajewski promptly returned the nozzle to the hardware store. With seven grandchildren who love to drink from hoses and play in the water spray in the summer, Gajewski didn't want to take any chances.

Unfortunately, lead in garden hoses is not a new problem.

In 2004, a lawsuit brought by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) that charged hoses containing lead were a potential hazard was settled in California.

"Lead leaching into hose water can come from the vinyl (PVC) material used to make hose or from brass nozzles on hoses, according to CEH. "In producing PVC, lead is often added as a stabilizer. In sunshine, lead in hose water is a particular concern, as heat can cause hoses to leach even higher levels of lead.
So you can’t even use the hose to put out the fire! Good grief.

Cutting the Plastic...

The Knoxville News Sentinel passes along some tips to help you reduce your exposure to plastic. Check it out:
  • When heating food in a microwave oven, use only cookware that is labeled "microwave safe."
  • Remove food from plastic wrapping before thawing or reheating in a microwave.
  • Buy products in cardboard cartons instead of plastic containers.
  • Check recycling codes on the bottom of store packages for clues about plastics components you may want to avoid: Recycling code 3 may indicate the product contains a type of phthalate known as DEHA. Recycling code 7 may mean the product contains BPA.
  • Look for toys, baby bottles and containers claiming to be BPA-free. There's been a recent explosion of such products, many of them priced higher than standard products. There is also a growing industry of third-party certifiers to test such claims. Gerber's Clearview Bottles are BPA-free; a three-pack costs about $3 at Target.
  • Reduce your use of canned food; eat fresh or frozen foods instead. Bisphenol A has been found in the lining of canned food tins.
Be sure to read the whole list: Limit your exposure to plastic.
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Should Smokers Pay More for Health Insurance?

Last month the Whirlpool Corporation suspended 39 workers for smoking because they had previously enrolled in nonsmokers insurance; which is less expensive. Barbara Rose of The Chicago Tribune reports:
Whirlpool's smokers pay $500 a year more for their employer-provided health insurance -- a penalty big enough to increase the likelihood of cheating -- but how would the company find out? Internet message boards buzzed with speculation about spy cameras and company snitches.

But truth sometimes is stranger than fiction. It wasn't management surveillance or finger-pointing co-workers that outed the smokers. It was the employees themselves.

A little history is in order.

The workers' union challenged the smoker fees in 2006, citing a state law, and an arbiter ruled the company had to pay back the surcharges collected during a 28-month period through June 2006. The amount was expected to be about $1,000 per employee, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.

Last month, Whirlpool's suit to overturn the ruling was dismissed in a sealed settlement, setting the stage for rebates.

The suspended workers drew attention to their smoking when they asked for the rebates, prompting the company to check to see whether they had paid the fees. Apparently they hadn't.
Okay, I know you don’t need a longwinded explanation about why smoking is bad for you, but in Eat For Health Dr. Fuhrman offers an interesting perspective on why people smoke. Here’s an excerpt:
People with low self-esteem do not realize that they are living out a self-fulfilling prophecy. The belief that you are not worthy of attention makes it a reality. We are wired to operate in accordance with our beliefs, and it all happens beyond our awareness. A person who believes that he or she is unworthy will shy away from other people, develop habits that further lower his or her attractiveness to others, and will ultimately reinforce his or her negative beliefs and practices. In doing so, such people often lower their self-perceived social status. Status is an important factor that affects every facet of your life including the way that you eat. It has very little to do with class, economics, or education. It is a combination of what I believe about myself, what you believe about me, and—the most important part for this discussion—what I believe you believe about me. In short, it is a measure of social acceptance. Lower-status people instinctively look to higher-status people for direction, without being aware of it. Lower-status individuals constantly seek acceptance through compliant behaviors, including eating, drinking, smoking, or taking drugs.
Not to mention, smoking can actually contribute to osetoporosis—bet you didn’t know that! More from Eat For Health:
Nicotine can interfere with hormonal messages to the kidneys, inhibiting calcium reabsorption. The combination of smoking and drinking coffee or soft drinks, together with the dietary factors mentioned, makes the prevalence of osteoporosis in this country quite understandable. Dietary, health, and lifestyle components are working together to cause this drain of calcium.
Now, my knee-jerk reaction to making smokers pay more for health insurance yes they should, but where does it end? Should obese people pay more? What about the psychology scarred? This might lead us down a dangerous path of double standards.

Monday: Health Points

Smaller studies have linked tooth loss to different cancers, but this is the largest study to date, and the first conducted within an Asian population, the researchers say. It's also the first study to show a link to lung cancer.

Of course while widespread inflammation could explain the link between tooth loss and cancer risk, the reseachers say that tooth loss in the cancer patients may simply reflect unhealthy behaviors that contribute to cancer risk. Furthermore, people who have lost teeth may not be able to eat a healthy diet, and diet is also a factor in cancer development.
Kevin Kopjak doesn't care much about carbs, fat, sodium or high-fructose corn syrup.

He generally reads only two things on a nutrition label: the portion size and the calories. He says the strategy has helped him to lose and keep off 100 pounds.

"Counting calories seems to work for me," says Kopjak, 29, of San Francisco, who initially did Atkins and several other diets before switching to counting calories. "But it's a lot of discipline. When I first started, I had an Excel log where I literally wrote everything I ate down."
Many cities and towns across the country, including Los Angeles, already recycle wastewater for industrial uses and landscaping.


But the idea of using recycled wastewater, after intense filtering and chemical treatment, to replenish aquifers and reservoirs has gotten more notice lately because of technological advances that, industry leaders say, can make the water purer than tap water. San Diego and South Florida are also considering or planning to test the idea, and Orange County, Calif., opened a $481 million plant in January, without much community resistance, that is believed to be the world’s largest such facility.

None of the proposals or recycling projects already under way send the treated water directly into taps; most often the water is injected into the ground and gradually filters down into aquifers.
Omega 3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids deserves to be further considered as a credible natural alternative and may have beneficial effect on impulsivity in ADHD patients, recent in vivo French study reveals. While several studies have reported beneficial effects of omega-3 in hyperactivity, French researchers have hypothesized that Vectomega could have specific positive effects on impulse control.


These research findings have led to the initiation of two multi-center studies currently underway in France and Germany utilizing Vectomega on hyperactive children. Vectomega, a natural whole food Omega 3 fatty acid bound to phospholipids and peptides, is the end result of a French governmental research project.
5 Superstar Veggies
Artichokes
Radishes
Broccoli
Red chicory
Leeks
7 Stellar Seasonings
Sage
Rosemary
Marjoram
Thyme
Tarragon
Cumin
Fresh ginger
Garlic
Mothers of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were twice as likely to have reported using pet shampoos containing a class of insecticide called pyrethrins as those of healthy children, according to survey results presented Thursday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in London. The risk was greatest if the shampoo was used during the second trimester of pregnancy.


Meanwhile, another study suggests that exposure to organophosphate insecticides double the risk of developmental disorders, including autism. Organophosphates have previously been linked to Gulf War syndrome.

While many chemicals have previously been blamed for triggering autism, there have been very few rigorous studies designed to investigate the link.
I would be hard-pressed to find a food substance that attracts as much controversy as milk. Whether or not it is beneficial to overall health, whether or not it helps weight loss, whether we should buy raw or pasteurized, low fat vs. full fat - the list goes on and on. Hence, I hope to make an attempt to navigate through the speculation, possibilities and try to come up with some ideas on how to think about this issue.


Who to Believe?
On one side, we have groups like the PCRM and PETA (read: Milk is evil). On the other end of the spectrum is the Dairy Association (read: milk is essential for optimal health). In addition to health debates, there are political, ethical and environmental factors to consider. Like most other issues, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Let's try and find that middle.
Women deficient in the "sunshine vitamin" when they were diagnosed with breast cancer were 94 percent more likely to have their cancer spread and were 73 percent more likely to die than women with adequate vitamin D levels, the researchers said.


More than three-quarters of women with breast cancer had a vitamin D deficiency, the researchers reported to an upcoming meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

"The women with the lowest vitamin D levels had the highest risk of death from breast cancer," Dr. Richard Schilsky, of the University of Chicago and president-elect of ASCO, told Reuters in an interview.

FDA Says BPA Safe...

The FDA is claiming that the now infamous plastic ingredient bisphenol A (BPA) is actually safe. Will Dunham of Reuters reports:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday said it sees no reason to tell consumers to stop using products such as baby bottles made with a controversial chemical found in many plastic items.

Norris Alderson, the FDA's associate commissioner for science, said although the regulatory agency is reviewing safety concerns about the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, "a large body of available evidence" shows that products such as liquid or food containers made with it are safe…

…Alderson said he heads an FDA task force that is reviewing safety concerns concerning BPA. He said although this review is ongoing, the FDA has no reason to recommend that consumers stop using products made with BPA. He also noted that similar products made without BPA are available.

Alderson said the FDA is looking at a draft report issued in April by the National Toxicology Program, part of the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health, that expressed some concern that BPA had the potential to cause neural and behavioral problems in fetuses, infants and children…

…Some retailers, including Wal-Mart and Toys R Us, are planning to stop selling certain items made with BPA.

BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, a clear shatter-resistant material in products ranging from baby and water bottles to sports safety equipment and medical devices.
My gut feeling is that the FDA is pandering to a higher master here. There’s just too much negative press on BPA to be overlooked and here’s a bit of it:
I think Wal-Mart and Toys R Us got it right, better to be safe than sorry.
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Chemicals, Pregnancy, Obesity...

A new study claims exposure to certain chemicals—like Bisphenol A (BPA) and perfluorooctanoic acid—while pregnant, increases a baby’s chance of becoming obese. Michael Kahn of Reuters reports:
"We are talking about an exposure at very low levels for a finite time during development," said Jerry Heindel of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"The fact that it is such a sensitive period, it may be altering the tissue and making people more susceptible to obesity."

The World Health Organization estimates some 400 million people are obese, a problem that raises the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease…

…One of the chemicals is called Bisphenol A, found in polycarbonate plastics. Past research has suggested it leaches from plastic food and drink containers.

A team at Tufts University in the United States showed that female mice whose mothers were exposed to this chemical early in pregnancy gained more weight in adulthood even though they ate the same amount of food and were as active as other mice.

A similar effect occurred with perfluorooctanoic acid -- a greaseproofing agent used in products such as microwave popcorn bags. These animals were unusually small at birth then became overweight later in life.
This kind of news is all too common. Just look at the potential risks for being exposed to polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs). Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The EPA explained that these compounds persist in the environment and build up in the bodies of farm animals that eat contaminated feed or grass. While many of these toxic chemical compounds are resistant to degradation in the natural environment, they dissolve readily in oil and thus accumulate in the fatty tissues of fish, birds, and mammals. Humans are exposed predominately by eating contaminated animal products. Every time an animal is exposed to a tiny bit of these toxic chemicals, it remains in the animal's body for life, only released when the animal is eaten by humans, through fatty animal products such as meat, cheese, and full-fat milk.1 Animal products tested to be exceptionally high in these harmful compounds are catfish, lobster, mollusks, cheese, butter, and ice cream.2


Unborn children and breast feeding infants are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of these chemicals. These chemicals are linked to a broad range of diseases, including behavioral disorders, thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis, and cancer.3 Since these chemicals are stored in the fatty tissues of animals and in our fat stores too (because we are animals as well), a woman has to begin eating more carefully before she gets pregnant to prevent harmful exposure to the developing fetus.
Scary, thank goodness men can’t get pregnant—EEK! Continue Reading...

Wednesday: Health Points

Harvard researcher Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, and colleagues in Italy studied 870 people diagnosed with DVT from 1995 to 2005. They compared their particulate air pollution exposure in the year before their diagnosis to that of 1,210 matched people without DVT.

They found that DVT risk goes up 70% for every 10 microgram-per-cubic-meterrise in particulate air pollution above 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air (the lowest pollution level measured in the study).

The U.S. EPA standard for particulate air pollution is 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air. However, it's likely that fine and very fine particles cause most of the health risks linked to particulate air pollution.
The simple truth, experts say, is that pounds must also be shed to keep cardiovascular trouble away.


"There is a debate out there about whether this generation is going to live as long as their parents, and the truth is they probably won't," said study author Dr. Gregory L. Burke, director of the division of public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of medicine in Winston-Salem, NC.

"My ultimate worry is that we've seen a 50-year decline in cardiovascular disease mortality, but if you begin to look at recent trends, it's beginning to plateau," he added. "And my fear is that because of the increase in obesity we're going to begin to see a reversal of that trend where heart disease rates begin to go up."
On Saturday, a tornado with the second-strongest rating killed six people, destroyed a 20-block area, and blew dust off mountains of mining waste, or chat piles.


"You can look at the chat piles and see that a lot of the material has blown off," said John Sparkman, head of the Picher housing authority. "We went up on a chat pile an hour and a half after the tornado hit, and you could see dust blowing fine material all over the place from that vantage point."

Long-term exposure to lead dust poses a health risk, particularly to young children.
The two conditions appear to increase one's risk for retinal vein occlusion, a condition that leads to vision loss. It results from one or more veins carrying blood from the eye to the heart becoming blocked and causing bleeding or fluid build-up, according to background information in the report published in the May issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.


The Irish study found that people with high blood pressure had more than 3.5 times the risk of developing retinal vein occlusion than those without it. People with high cholesterol levels had an approximately 2.5-fold higher risk of retinal vein occlusion.

The findings come from an analysis of 21 previously published studies involving 2,916 people with retinal vein occlusion and 28,646 people without the condition. It found that 63.6 percent of patients with retinal vein occlusion also had hypertension, compared with 36.2 percent of people without the eye condition. High cholesterol levels were more than twice as likely to be found in those with retinal vein occlusion as those without (35.1 percent vs. 16.7 percent).
Fairbank Farms is issuing a voluntary recall of selected ground beef products produced at its Ashville, N.Y., facility and sold through Price Chopper, Shaw's, BJ's, and Wilson Farms retail outlets and C&S Wholesale distributor.


The affected product may contain small pieces of hard plastic. All recalled products have either a "sell-by" date of 05/13/08, 05/15/08, or a "Julian date 124" on the package's label.
New research shows "alarming levels" of obesity in most ethnic groups in the United States, principal investigator Dr. Gregory L. Burke, of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina told Reuters Health. The study also confirms the potentially deadly toll obesity exacts on the heart and blood vessels.


"The obesity epidemic has the potential to reduce further gains in U.S. life expectancy, largely through an effect on cardiovascular disease mortality (death)," Burke and colleagues warn in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Among 6,814 middle-age or older adults participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, or "MESA" study, researchers found that more than two thirds of white, African American and Hispanic participants were overweight and one third to one half were obese.
The question is loaded and points to a really interesting diagnosis: What IS the biggest environmental problem on the planet? The answer is subjective, of course. If you are talking about global warming then coal plants are the biggest problem on the planet. If you are talking about natural resource preservation then deforestation is the biggest problem. Insert water for life sustainability and disease, or plastics for waste. To be sure, cigarettes are no one’s friend: Neither health nor the environment. In fact, in terms of litter, they are the biggest source of it: More than two billion pounds of cigarette butts are discarded worldwide – more than two pounds for every person in China. I use that country as an example because as I traveled from Beijing southward along the Silk Route, people still smoked a lot – everywhere. In Southeast Asia too people light up.


Smokers’ waste is rather easy to calculate. Figure out how many cigarettes are smoked and you’ll find out how many butts are tossed. You can’t recycle ‘em. One thing I’d like to know is the emission factor, or pollution due to smoking.
The experiments were conducted with the brain cells of rats and they show that contact with this ingredient called methylisothiazoline, or MIT, causes neurological damage.


Which products contain this chemical compound MIT? Head and Shoulders, Suave, Clairol and Pantene Hair Conditioner all contain this ingredient. Researchers are concerned that exposure to this chemical by pregnant women could put their fetus at risk for abnormal brain development. In other people, exposure could also be a factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other nervous system disorders.

The chemical causes these effects by preventing communication between neurons. Essentially, it slows the networking of neurons, and since the nervous system and brain function on a system of neural networks, the slowing of this network will suppress and impair the normal function of the brain and nervous system.

Vaccines and Autism: Families Go to Court

Families claiming that mercury-containing vaccinations trigger autism are heading to court today. Kevin Freking of the Associated Press reports:
Overall, nearly 4,900 families have filed claims with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children. Lawyers for the families will present three different theories of how vaccines caused autism.

The Office of Special Masters of the claims court has instructed the plaintiffs to designate three test cases for each of the three theories _ nine cases in all _ and has assigned three special masters to handle the cases. Three cases in the first category were heard last year, but no decisions have been reached.

The two cases beginning Monday are among the three that focus on the second theory of causation: that thimerosal-containing vaccines alone cause autism. The plaintiff in the third case originally scheduled for hearing this month has withdrawn and lawyers and court officials are working to agree on substitute case.

Hearings in the test cases for the third theory of causation are scheduled in mid-September.

Lawyers for the petitioning families in the cases being heard this month say they will present evidence that injections with thimerosal deposit a form of mercury in the brain. That mercury excites certain brain cells that stay chronically activated trying to get rid of the intrusion.
DiseaseProof explored the vaccine issue in last month’s feature post: Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours.

Earth News: Carbon, Bees, and Urban Farmers...


One of the major contributors to climate change is carbon dioxide (CO2). My colleague at Earth Policy Institute, Frances Moore, has been tracking CO2 emissions and recently released an Eco-Economy Indicator on CO2 emissions.

Check out the Earth Policy Institute data.

She writes that despite the unambiguous evidence that carbon dioxide is warming the planet, the growth in emissions is accelerating. "Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels stood at a record 8.38 gigatons of carbon (GtC) in 2006, 20 percent above the level in 2000. Emissions grew 3.1 percent a year between 2000 and 2006, more than twice the rate of growth during the 1990s. Carbon dioxide emissions have been growing steadily for 200 years, since fossil-fuel burning began on a large scale at the start of the Industrial Revolution."
Bees do so much more than supply honey and beeswax.


Bee pollination of crops, something that most farmers heavily rely on, is responsible for as much as 30% of the U.S. food supply. Where bees are not available, they are called in, with apiarists (bee keepers) travelling around the country to provide the services of their hives.

Unless the cause and cure for Colony Collapse Disorder is found soon, many fruits and vegetables may disappear entirely from US produce. The flow on effects are mind-boggling. It's not just fruits and vegetables affected, but also stock feed and grains.
This urban agriculture movement has grown even more vigorously elsewhere. Hundreds of farmers are at work in Detroit, Milwaukee, Oakland and other areas that, like East New York, have low-income residents, high rates of obesity and diabetes, limited sources of fresh produce and available, undeveloped land.


Local officials and nonprofit groups have been providing land, training and financial encouragement. But the impetus, in almost every case, has come from the farmers, who often till when their day jobs are done, overcoming peculiarly urban obstacles.

The Wilkses’ return to farming began in 1990 when their daughter planted a watermelon in their backyard. Before long, Mrs. Wilks, an administrator in the city’s Department of Education, was digging in the yard after work. Once their ambition outgrew their yard, she and Mr. Wilks, a city surveyor, along with other gardening neighbors, received permission to use a vacant lot across from a garment factory at the end of their block.

Health Points: Friday

York company voluntarily recalled more than 286,000 pounds of its products.

Officials said certain products labeled Gourmet Boutique, Jan's and Archer Farms may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, although there were no reports of illness before the recall.

Listeria can cause a potentially fatal disease that it is rarely contracted by healthy people, the Monterey County Health Department reported. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and nausea. Rare but serious symptoms can occur in those with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women make up about a third of listeriosis cases, health officials said.
Arthritis strikes more than half of the 20.6 million American adults who have diabetes, and the painful joint condition may be a barrier to exercise among these patients, a new government report shows.


Being physically active helps people manage both diseases better by controlling blood sugar levels and reducing joint pain, according to the report in the May 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The prevalence of arthritis is astoundingly high in people with diabetes," said Dr. John H. Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "Over half the people with diabetes have arthritis."
Nudging reluctant seniors to take physical fitness classes represents just one strategy to reduce the risk of falling. It's also vital to evaluate their vision and the medications they're taking. Aged pupils, for example, don't dilate as well in darkness or constrict as well in brightness.


One study showed that falls decreased 34 percent among seniors who had the milky opaqueness of a cataract removed from their eyes. Some specialists also point to bifocals and trifocals, which can blur vision, as potentially contributing to falls.

It's also common for lighting to be so inadequate that navigation of hallways and rooms can be treacherous, said Dr. Gary Chu, vice president for community collaborations at the New England Eye Institute.
"I've asked all the presidential candidates whether America should be smoke-free," he told a Senate committee hearing on how to tackle cancer.


"The consensus is that it's better left to the cities and states," he said, agreeing that state- or community-level bans were "the way to go."

"Second-hand smoking is something I'm very passionate about," he told the committee.
Young children who live in neighborhoods with lots of trees have lower rates of asthma than children who reside in areas with fewer trees, a new study finds. Researchers looked at asthma rates among children age 4 to 5 in New York City. Asthma rates decreased by almost one-quarter for every standard deviation increase in tree density, equivalent to 343 trees per square kilometer, the study found. The researchers said that trees may help reduce asthma rates by encouraging children to play outdoors more or by improving air quality.
Male postpartum depression may have more negative effects on some aspects of a child's development than its female counterpart, says James F. Paulson, PhD, of the Center for Pediatric Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.


Paulson and colleagues reviewed data on more than 5,000 two-parent families with children aged 9 months.

They found that one in 10 new dads met standard criteria for moderate to severe postpartum depression.

That's a "striking increase" from the 3% to 5% of men in the general population that have depression, Paulson tells WebMD.
In the current study, researchers found that professional firefighters had higher-than-expected rates of colon cancer and brain cancer. There was also evidence, albeit weaker, that they had elevated risks of bladder and kidney cancers, as well as Hodgkin's lymphoma.


Dr. Letitia Davis with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues report the findings in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Firefighters are exposed to many potentially cancer-causing chemicals released from burning materials. At the scene of the fire, toxic substances such as benzene, lead, uranium and asbestos can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
A drug from a new class of weight-loss treatments disrupted wiring needed for brain development in young mice, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday, raising concerns about using such medications in children.


Mark Bear and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the effects of a chemical that suppresses appetite by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, the same brain mechanisms that make people hungry when they smoke marijuana.

"I think that the cautionary note is that these mechanisms play an important role in ... brain development," said Bear, whose study appears in the journal Neuron.
Even a benign lesion on a mammogram makes women and doctors nervous, and doctors sometimes recommend a biopsy anyway. But new data show that waiting six months for a follow-up mammogram is a safe option.


Researchers tracked more than 45,000 women who were given six-month follow-up mammograms after an initial scan found lesions that were “probably” benign. In most cases, they were. Only about one in 100 women were eventually diagnosed with cancer six to 12 months later, according to the study, which appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
It is well known that high blood sugar levels indicative of the diabetes that occurs during pregnancy present risks for expectant mothers and their infants. The current study is believed to be the first to show that higher blood sugar levels -- not high enough to be considered diabetes -- also convey these increased risks.


In a study of nearly 24,000 pregnant women who had their blood sugar levels tested between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, researchers found that the higher the mother's blood sugar level, the greater the chances that she would require Caesarean delivery and deliver an abnormally large baby.

Rocket Fuel, Drinking Water, No Worries

The EPA might NOT limit the amount of perchlorate in drinking water. Marla Cone of The Los Angeles Times reports:
A top Environmental Protection Agency official told a Senate committee Tuesday that there was "a distinct possibility" that the agency would not limit the amount of perchlorate, a toxic ingredient of solid rocket fuel, that is allowable in drinking water.

State officials and water suppliers across the nation have been waiting for the EPA to set a standard for several years because perchlorate has contaminated the water supplies of at least 11 million people. Last year, California, impatient with the EPA's indecision, set its own standard.

Benjamin H. Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator for water, said the EPA would decide by the end of the year whether to regulate perchlorate. Scientific studies have shown that the chemical blocks iodide and suppresses thyroid hormones, which are necessary for the normal brain development of a fetus or infant.

"We know that perchlorate can have an adverse effect and we're concerned about that," Grumbles told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, told Grumbles that she heard from EPA staffers that there was a strong likelihood that the agency would decide against setting any standard.
I’m not sure what the EPA is up to; lead bad, nanosilver bad, rocket fuel okay?
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Improve Indoor Air...

Low Impact Living offers up 10 ten ways to help you improve your indoor air quality. Check it out:

There are many sources of indoor air pollution: furniture or cabinets made of pressed wood products, damp carpets, pesticides, cleaners, tobacco smoke, hobby supplies, mold and the list goes on. These chemicals can cause and aggravate allergies, some have been linked to nervous system disorders, and some of them are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Immediate effects can show up as sore throats, itchy eyes, headaches or fatigue. Longer term effects can be much worse.
  1. Open the windows.
  2. Change your furnace/AC air filter at least a couple of times each year.
  3. Don’t use chemical air fresheners.
  4. Similarly, be careful about candles.
  5. Use non-toxic home cleaners.
  6. Consider getting rid of your carpets.
  7. Consider getting room air filters for your home.
  8. Limit or remove vinyls from your home.
  9. If you’re doing any painting or staining, be sure to use no- or low-VOC paints and finishes.
  10. Obviously, make your home a smoke-free zone!

Of course limiting how many beans you eat helps “air quality” too!

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EPA vs. Nanosilver and Lead

Nanosilver sounds like a superhero to me, but apparently its deadly and the EPA wants to halt its sale. Rick Weiss of The Washington Post reports:
More than 200 products - including odor-resistant socks, baby bottles and clothes-washing machines - are today laced with specks of nanosilver, part of a larger nanotechnology revolution fueled by the fact that substances gain novel chemical properties when they are honed to a few billionths of a meter.

But nanosilver's deadly effects are not specific to harmful bacteria. Studies indicate it can harm aquatic organisms. And with the exception of one narrowly crafted regulatory rule that focuses on washing machines, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has not addressed the potential risks of this new form of pollution, said George Kimbrell, staff attorney with the Washington-based International Center for Technology Assessment, which is spearheading the petition effort.

"EPA must stop avoiding this problem and use its regulatory authority to fulfill its statutory duties," Kimbrell said in a statement, adding in an interview that nanosilver is used in some stuffed animals and children's clothing.

The petition asks the agency to stop the sale of products containing nanosilver and regulate the chemical as a pesticide, which would require toxicity studies and risk assessments to measure environmental and human health impacts.
The EPA is really fired up. They've recently proposed new limits on lead in the air. Matthew L. Wald of The New York Times is on it:
Air, however, is no longer the most common source of major exposure to lead, which can cause I.Q. loss, kidney damage and other serious health problems. In most places, water and lead paint are more troublesome sources.


Lead emissions in the air have dropped by more than 97 percent in the last three decades, because the United States banned lead as an additive in gasoline. That step was taken to allow cars to have catalytic converters, which cut the ingredients of smog, and reduced lead in the air as a side benefit.

Still, high lead concentrations exist in scattered places with iron and steel foundries, copper smelters, mining operations, waste incinerators and concrete plants, according to Lydia Wegman, an expert at the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. In addition, she said, gasoline with lead is still used in small airplanes.

Depending on the level at which the new standard is set, officials can identify two dozen counties that would be out of compliance. But they cannot be certain how many other counties may fail because the network of monitoring stations has been cut back.
We live in a toxic world; from the air, water, and soil to the food we eat and products we buy. For more, check out DiseaseProof’s Toxins category.

Seafood, Lots of Issues

Bill Lambrecht of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a look at all the problems with seafood coming from China to the United States. Here’s a bit:
In March, inspectors checking Chinese seafood arriving at U.S. ports made some unsettling discoveries: fish infected with salmonella in Seattle and Baltimore, and shrimp with banned veterinary drugs in Florida.

Meanwhile, a shipment intercepted in Los Angeles on March 19 labeled "channel catfish" wasn't catfish at all, although records don't say what it was.

"A lot of those products coming in from overseas, you have no clue as to what is in them," said Paul Hitchens, an aquaculture specialist in Southern Illinois, where cut-rate Chinese catfish are threatening the livelihood of fish farmers…

… Seafood is considered one of the riskiest imports, and those from China have risen steadily. When the FDA does turn away shipments, usually it is because they contain veterinary drugs, among them nitrofurans, a family of antibiotics banned by the FDA because tests showed they cause cancer in animals.

More than 100 of the shipments were rejected for being filthy, decomposed or otherwise unfit for consumption, according to the records…

…FDA officials are requesting new authority, including the ability to license private companies to assist with inspections. But the Bush administration has signaled opposition to key provisions that would require regular inspections in foreign lands and limit ports where food can arrive to docks with FDA labs.
Now, here’s something you probably didn’t realize. Did you know ocean fish are getting smaller and smaller? This video is funny, but informative too:


For your fish and health questions, check out Fishing for the Truth for a round up.

Weed-Killer and Brain Cancer, Linked

According to a new study people who work around weed-killers have a higher risk of developing brain cancer. More from Reuters:
Researchers found that among more than 1,400 U.S. adults with and without brain cancer, there was no overall link between the disease and on-the-job exposure to pesticides or herbicides -- chemicals used to kill plants, usually weeds.

However, a closer look at the data showed that women who had ever been exposed to herbicides at work had a two-fold higher risk of meningioma than women with no such exposure.

Meningiomas are slow-growing tumors that arise in the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. They are one of the most common forms of brain tumor, and occur most frequently in middle-aged women.

A few studies, but not all, have linked both farming and heavy pesticide exposure to a higher risk of brain cancer.
This is no secret. I first learned about it in Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child. Here’s an excerpt:
Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple myloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, and testes.1
Makes you want to shake the people that manufacture these chemicals.
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Ontario, Don't Smoke in Cars with Kids


The Canadian province of Ontario wants to fine drivers who smoke in their cars in the presence of children. Reuters reports:
The province of Nova Scotia, the Yukon territory and a handful of U.S. states have already banned smoking in cars with children. Like many other jurisdictions Ontario bans smoking in the workplace and in public places such as restaurants.

The new Ontario legislation won praise from the Canadian Cancer Society, which called it an important step in protecting children's health.

"We're hoping for the legislation to come to fruition as quickly as possible because it's for the good of all Ontario children," said Rick Byun, a spokesman for provincial Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best.
I’m in favor of this for adults too. Being in a car with a smoker—especially with the windows closed—is like being a sausage in a smokehouse.
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Senate, Ban Bisphenol A

Democrats have introduced a bill that would ban chemical in plastics, including BPA. Lyndsey Layton of The Washington Post reports:
"There have been enough warning signs about the dangers of this chemical that we cannot sit idly by and continue to allow vulnerable children and infants to be exposed," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). His bill to ban bisphenol A, or BPA, was co-sponsored by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.).

Schumer said he wants the CDC to weigh in because of conflicting scientific studies on BPA. A growing body of new studies has linked the chemical to prostate and breast cancers, diabetes, behavioral disorders such as hyperactivity, and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.

This month, the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, was the first federal agency to raise concerns about the effect of the chemical on fetuses, infants and children. "The report earlier this month was an eye-opener," Schumer said. "Now we want to get one final, indisputable ruling, once and for all, on the effects of BPA on adults, and pregnant women in particular."
I’m sure a handful of cost-cutting obsessed plastics CEOs will step up in “defense” of these chemicals.
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FDA to Merck, Clean Up!

The Food and Drug Administration orders Merck to clean up violations at its main vaccine plant. Linda A. Johnson of the Associated Press reports:
The agency on Wednesday released a warning letter sent to Merck's chief executive that says FDA inspectors determined manufacturing rules are not being followed at the plant in West Point, Pa., just outside Philadelphia.

The plant makes a number of popular children's vaccines, as well as Gardasil, which protects against cervical cancer. Last year, it recalled 1.2 million vaccine doses because of a sterility problem.

The nine-page warning letter gives Merck 15 days to tell the FDA how it will correct the violations. Otherwise, the FDA says it could suspend the plant's manufacturing license and seize products.
For more on vaccines, check out April’s feature post, Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Health Points: Friday

Imaging technology shows that people who practice meditation that focuses on kindness and compassion actually undergo changes in areas of the brain that make them more in tune to what others are feeling.

"Potentially one can train oneself to behave in a way which is more benevolent and altruistic," said study co-author Antoine Lutz, an associate scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How far this idea can be extrapolated remains in question, though.
FDA said it is reviewing reports of mood changes, suicidal behavior and suicide in patients who have taken the drug, which was Merck's best-selling product last year.


In the past year Merck has updated the drug's labeling four times to include information on tremors, anxiousness, depression and suicidal behavior reported in some patients.
The runner’s-high hypothesis proposed that there were real biochemical effects of exercise on the brain. Chemicals were released that could change an athlete’s mood, and those chemicals were endorphins, the brain’s naturally occurring opiates. Running was not the only way to get the feeling; it could also occur with most intense or endurance exercise.


The problem with the hypothesis was that it was not feasible to do a spinal tap before and after someone exercised to look for a flood of endorphins in the brain. Researchers could detect endorphins in people’s blood after a run, but those endorphins were part of the body’s stress response and could not travel from the blood to the brain. They were not responsible for elevating one’s mood. So for more than 30 years, the runner’s high remained an unproved hypothesis.

But now medical technology has caught up with exercise lore. Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.
     
People who have big bellies in their 40s are much more likely to get Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in their 70s, according to new research that links the middle-age spread to fading minds for the first time.


The study of more than 6,000 people found the more fat they had in their guts in their early- to mid-40s, the greater their chances of becoming forgetful or confused or showing other signs of senility as they aged. Those who had the most impressive midsections faced more than twice the risk of the leanest.
Dr. Carol Byrd-Bredbenner of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues found that many college students engaged in eating behaviors that could make them sick, like eating raw homemade cookie dough or runny eggs.


While people are becoming increasingly aware of food safety issues, Byrd-Bredbenner and her team note, surveys still show a substantial proportion run the risk of food poisoning by eating raw eggs, undercooked hamburger and other foods that may harbor harmful bacteria.
The disclosure of hidden tobacco money behind a big study suggesting that lung scans might help save smokers from cancer has shocked the research community and raised fresh concern about industry influence in important science.


Two medical journals that published studies by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers in 2006 are looking into tobacco cash and other financial ties that weren't revealed. The studies reported benefits from lung scans, which the Cornell team has long touted.
The IARC has labeled these occupations as "probably carcinogenic to humans," a classification the agency reserves for those exposures backed by fairly strong evidence. In 1993, the IARC found that hairdressers and barbers were probably exposed to cancer-causing substances, but at that time, evidence of an increased cancer risk in this population was "inadequate." This week's report, published in the Lancet Oncology, is based on a review of epidemiological studies published since that time.


Some of the products used by hairdressers and barbers--such as dyes, pigments, rubber chemicals, and curing agents—have been found to cause tumors in rats in laboratory studies or have been known to cause bladder cancer in humans. In some studies, increased risk has been associated with permanent dyes and use of darker-colored hair dyes.

AllergyKids.com: Protecting Children with Food Allergies

Do you know about AllergyKids? No! Well, recently I had the opportunity to chat with founder Robyn O’Brien—she ROCKS—here’s a little about her website:

Our goal is to make it easier to identify a child with life threatening food allergies through our universal symbol for food allergies and to provide comprehensive independent research so that you can make the best choices for your family.


Did you know that for the last ten years, food allergy research has been funded by the processed food industry?

At AllergyKids, we felt that it was time to take food allergy research out of the box, because we believe that there is a cure for food allergies. Not just a vaccine, but a CURE. Period.

Today, one out of every three American children now has allergies, asthma, ADHD or autism, with 20 million children now affected by one of these conditions.

As the first independently funded food allergy organization, AllergyKids highlights previously undisclosed research addressing the recent introduction and engineering of allergens, proteins, food additives and dyes into our food supply.
Robyn’s a big deal. Recently Kim Severson of The New York Times wrote a great article on Robyn and AllergyKids. Here’s a bit:


Ms. O’Brien was also the kind of mom who rolled her eyes when the kid with a peanut allergy showed up at the birthday party. Then, about two years ago, she fed her youngest child scrambled eggs. The baby’s face quickly swelled into a grotesque mask. “What did you spray on her?” she screamed at her other children. Little Tory had a severe food allergy, and Ms. O’Brien’s journey had begun.


By late that night, she had designed a universal symbol to identify children with food allergies. She now puts the icon, a green stop sign with an exclamation point, on lunch bags, stickers and even the little charms children use to dress up their Crocs. These products and others are sold on her Web site, AllergyKids.com, which she unveiled, strategically, on Mother’s Day in 2006.

The $30,000 Ms. O’Brien made from the products last year is incidental, she said. Working largely from a laptop on her dining room table, she has looked deep into the perplexing world of childhood food allergies and seen a conspiracy that threatens the health of America’s children. And, she profoundly believes, it is up to her and parents everywhere to stop it.

Her theory — that the food supply is being manipulated with additives, genetic modification, hormones and herbicides, causing increases in allergies, autism and other disorders in children — is not supported by leading researchers or the largest allergy advocacy groups.
No doubt, Robyn’s an inspiration. Hey, she inspired me. I can’t wait to get my AlleryKids wristbands:



Now, Robyn’s got a special offer for all DiseaseProof readers! Here, I’ll let her tell you about it:
I’ve set up the coupon for your site so that your readers can protect their little ones with the universal symbol for food allergies, as seen on CNN! AllergyKids features lunch bags, stickers, wristbands, medical carrying cases and more – emblazoned with the bright green octagon and exclamation point, so that caregivers, teachers and school nurses will be able to quickly identify your child’s medicine in the case of an emergency! Enter coupon code FUHRMAN at checkout to receive 20% off of all orders placed at www.allergykids.com.
So, show AllergyKids some love and support this great cause!

Health Points: Tuesday

Of 216 reported cases so far, 68 have been confirmed by lab results, public information officer Jim Shires said. Nine people have been hospitalized, but only one was believed to still be in the hospital, Shires said.

Shires is part of a nine-person incident management team from Jefferson County that arrived to help Alamosa officials respond to the outbreak, which health officials said may be caused by the municipal water system.
Children who take vitamin D supplements may be less likely to develop type 1 diabetes later in life, according to researchers who analyzed the findings of five previously published studies.


The researchers found that children who were given additional vitamin D were about 30 percent less likely to develop type 1 diabetes than children who didn't receive vitamin D supplements. The evidence also indicated that the higher and more regular the dose of vitamin D, the lower the risk of developing diabetes.
It is tempting to look for a quick fix to cellulite, especially when so many advertisements claim to provide a solution. Unfortunately, there is no overnight cure. Nothing can get below the surface of the skin and rearrange the connective tissue or fat cells underneath. Because fat is compressible, some procedures, such as body wraps, may appear to provide a solution to smoothing the skin. But any visible effects will be temporary -- unlikely to last more than 24 hours…


…You can diminish the appearance of cellulite or reduce the chances you will get it with regular exercise, especially strength training. A good strength-training program will increase your chances of maintaining lean muscle as you get older, and this in turn reduces your chances of increasing the size of your fat cells.
But as I think about it more, I realize that when organic really pays is when this money—the very money we raised the other night—goes to fund new research that then gets into the hands of the people who really need it, such as a mom who learns that feeding their children organic foods can reduce their dietary pesticide exposure by 97 percent, and then makes the immediate switch to organic baby food. Or, people who learn that of the 11 most important nutrients, organic foods contain, on average, 25 percent higher concentrations of these nutrients, and then switch to organics in order to feed their bodies more nutrient-dense foods. How about the farmer who learns that even very low levels of organophosphate insecticides can disrupt developing brains and nervous systems, and then immediately stops spraying his crops for the sake of the health of his grandbabies growing up in a house across the field. Or a diabetes sufferer who learns that eating vegetables rich in fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium could lead to a 28 percent lower risk of Type-2 diabetes, and then starts serving his children more vegetables, so they don’t have to suffer the way mom and dad did.
"Just what the world doesn't need is another way to get as much food as they want whenever they want it," said Jeanne Goldberg, a professor of nutrition science at Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition.


The unlimited quantity has turned some sporting events into games of can-you-top-this in the stands, with fans competing to see who can shovel the most hot dogs down their gullets. But for the most part, the scene is the same as in any other section.

"People knocking that stuff back isn't exactly the prettiest thing to watch," Drew Nurenberg, 30, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, who bought all-you-can-eat seats with his wife for a Philadelphia Flyers game last month, said. He added: "People looked like they were taking advantage of it, but not overly taking advantage."
The problem of obesity cannot be reduced simply to genetics, the researchers said, and it also cannot be blamed solely on our environments or learned behaviors. Media coverage, they advised, should highlight that the obesity epidemic is the result of a variety of factors, and that change requires a comprehensive approach that tackles the problem from all sides.


"Obesity's not rocket science," said Dr. Diane Finegood, director of CIHR's Institute for Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes. "It's a lot more complex."
Is this news? Not to T. Colin Campbell, author of the book "The China Study," which details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer.


"I get frustrated when I see articles like this--time and time again--being published by researchers who know not that much of their findings have already been shown before," Campbell said, when I asked him if he'd seen the study.

"These earlier results are simply ignored, thus awaiting rediscovery by some future researcher or medical practitioner. This is the main question for so many similar reports...why haven't we heard this before?"
It used to be that the only teens seen at a gym were students on athletic teams, intent on additional training.


But in recent years, some Chicago-area gyms have become preferred hangouts for a growing number of high school students who want to be fit and healthy. Many also have discovered that gyms provide something equally important: a place to gossip, flirt and socialize with peers.

Chemically Scared, Babies Getting Glass Bottles

With concern mounting over chemicals found in plastics, some parents are opting for glass baby bottles instead. The Associated Press reports:
Meg Robustelli had heard reports that a chemical in most plastic baby bottles could be dangerous, but she had not done anything about it. That's when her mother stepped in and bought her glass bottles…


…Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a man-made chemical used in polycarbonate plastic, the material used to make most baby bottles and other shatterproof plastic food containers. Americans are widely exposed to BPA, but opinions about its safety are mixed.
Hey, better to be safe than sorry—you know?

Health Points: Monday

When he became a psychiatrist in the 1970s, John Ratey didn't expect to evolve into an exercise buff. But today, the Harvard University professor and expert in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder calls exercise the single most important tool people have to optimize brain function…

…Exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, can improve cognitive performance, soften the effects of stress, help fend off addiction-related cravings and tone down the negative consequences of women's hormonal changes, Ratey says. When it comes to psychiatric disorders, he calls exercise "one of the best treatments we have."
Bacteria can cause rhinosinusitis -- an inflammation of the sinuses -- but a virus such as the common cold is often a more likely culprit so antibiotics seldom work, the researchers reported in the journal Lancet.


Yet doctors still dole out the drugs more than they should. In the United States, for instance, 80 percent of sinus patients are prescribed an antibiotic while the proportion ranges from 72 percent to 92 percent in Europe.

"What tends to happen in practice is when patients have had symptoms for a while and go see their family doctor, the doctor assumes they have a bacterial infection and gives them antibiotics," said James Young, a statistician at the University Hospital Basel, who led the study.
In the new study of about 5,000 adults, the college-educated with household incomes of more than $75,000 a year had much less of a blood protein linked to heart disease than did the poorer or less educated - as long as they weren't overweight.


But as weight crept up, so did C-reactive protein in the blood, a sign of inflamed tissue that can lead to blocked coronary arteries, says Cathy Bykowski, a psychologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

That's not surprising, because excess body fat is known to increase the protein, she says.
New research suggests that people who don't get enough sleep tend to weigh more -- and that sleep can affect levels of the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin.


"There is a dynamic balance between proper sleep and proper health. Sleep deprivation affects weight and a lot of other things. If you cheat sleep, there are a number of consequences, including affecting your hormones, appetite and mood," said Dr. Patrick Strollo, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Sleep Medicine Center.
At first glance, the $45 session just looked like a bunch of boys having fun, not surprising since Lego Club members have good language skills and average or above-average intelligence. In contrast, children at the severe end of the autism spectrum may be mute and have catatonic behaviors.


But signs of problems were soon evident. A boy wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt stood amid the hubbub, staring at the floor, obsessively pulling the hem of his shirt - until leader Greg Shugar gently drew him into an activity. At a table, Lily Brown, another leader, helped two boys revise their "script" - a sheet of lined paper covered with angry scratch-outs and scribbles.

Jonathan Shanahan, 13, of Riverton, rocked from foot to foot and acknowledged that earlier that day, in school, he threw a pencil at a classmate.

"He's my archrival," Jonathan declared, holding a winged Lego beast he had created.
Breast-fed babies appear to be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes when they reach adolescence, according to findings published in the medical journal Diabetes Care.


"Dramatic increases in childhood obesity and the emergence of type 2 diabetes in youth motivate research to identify lifestyle approaches to primary prevention of both conditions," write Dr. Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and colleagues.
Folate
Use: To improve heart health


Why it works: Folate and other B vitamins help break down excess homocysteine -- an amino acid that can damage the inner lining of arteries -- possibly reducing the risk of heart disease.

Daily intake: 400 mcg

Best food sources: 1/2 cup cooked asparagus (134 mcg), 1 cup raw spinach (58 mcg), 1/2 cup cooked lentils (179 mcg)
Type 1 diabetes occurs because of pancreatic beta cell damage. These cells are responsible for insulin hormone production. The disease is becoming more common and it is expected to increase by 40% in 2010, compared to 2000.


The study showed that those suffering from type 1 diabetes have lower levels of vitamin D and are common in countries with less sunlight. It is well known that sunlight exposure stimulates vitamin D production and that supplement intake without sunlight exposure doesn't mean anything.

Lack of vitamin D is previously linked to autoimmune disorders, and this new study shows another key role of vitamins in health.
Breast cancer patients who are overweight have more aggressive disease and are likely to die sooner, U.S. researchers reported on Friday.


A dangerous type of breast cancer, known as inflammatory breast cancer, was seen in 45 percent of obese patients, compared with 30 percent of overweight patients and 15 percent of patients of healthy weight.

"The more obese a patient is, the more aggressive the disease," said Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who led the study.

Mixed News on Caffeine and Pregnancy

“Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. He’s especially concerned about caffeine. Take a look:
Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.1 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible.
In fact, back in January a study confirmed the link between caffeine and miscarriage. Here’s some of the AFP report:
US researchers said Monday they have conclusive proof to show that women who drink a lot of caffeine on a daily basis in the early months of pregnancy have an elevated risk of miscarriage, settling a longstanding debate over the issue.


To be absolutely safe, expectant mothers should avoid caffeinated beverages of any kind during the first five months of pregnancy, the researchers said in a paper published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Again, “It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun,” Dr. Fuhrman insists. But, the research continues to be mixed. Nancy Tones of TheNestBaby.com offers up two conflicting caffeine-pregnancy studies. Check them out:
In the last few months, two studies about the relationship between caffeine and miscarriages have come out. Which should you believe? We've ground it all down to size and asked the experts for some answers:


Study one Cool it on the caffeine
Gulping down 200 milligrams or more of caffeine per day (two or more cups of coffee or five 12-ounce cans of soda) doubled the risk of miscarriage (compared with women who cut out caffeine) in a study of over 1,000 women by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

Study two Some caffeine is safe
When women drank less than two cups of coffee a day, their babies fared just fine, according to a study of 2,407 women in the journal Epidemiology. Though higher caffeine intake wasn't studied, moderate amounts didn't seem to be associated with miscarriages.
And this report by Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times casts more confusion over the link between caffeine and pregnancy dangers. Here’s an excerpt:
One of the more unnerving studies was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. It looked at more than 1,000 pregnant Swedish women and found that those who drank the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent increased risk of miscarriage, while those who had the equivalent of at least five cups had more than double the risk.


But a majority of studies have suggested that any risk might apply only to high levels of caffeine intake. One study carried out by the National Institutes of Health in 1999 looked closely at the blood levels of caffeine in tens of thousands of pregnant women and found that those who consumed the equivalent of more than five cups of coffee a day did have an increased risk, while those who drank one or two cups did not. Other studies have had similar findings.
Clearly, there’s some doubt here. So in the end, maybe its just best to take Dr. Fuhrman’s advice, “The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.” I think we can all agree with that.
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Health Points: Friday

The Food and Drug Administration listed poor sanitation and other deficiencies in 47% of 199 inspections from January 2001 to February 2007, according to a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. None of the cases was referred to the FDA's enforcement arm for further action.

E. coli bacteria in bagged spinach from California killed three people and sickened at least 205 in 2006. The spinach may have been tainted when feral pigs roamed through cattle feces at a nearby ranch and crossed into the spinach fields, investigators from the FDA and California said last year.
The best that Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and one of the study’s authors, can offer is a few guidelines and observations about why studies have yet to answer the stretching questions.


If your goal is to prevent injury, Dr. Gilchrist said, stretching does not seem to be enough. Warming up, though, can help. If you start out by moving through a range of motions that you’ll use during activity, you are less likely to be injured.

In fact, Dr. Gilchrist said, in her review of published papers, every one of the handful of studies that concluded that stretching prevented injuries included warm-ups with the stretches.
The legislation is aimed at curbing the fallout from Americans' unhealthy eating habits, seen in rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The hope is that the labels will help people make healthier choices when they're eating out.


But dozens of studies have produced mixed results on whether nutrition labeling improves consumers' eating habits. It can't hurt to make the information available, nutritionists say, however, the truth is, if people want a Big Mac for lunch, knowing that it has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat probably isn't going to stop them.
Scientists said they, too, are concerned about the findings of the water testing commissioned by the Associated Press, but several said that there is no need for people to stop drinking tap water.


The contaminants present are "in the parts-per-billion level and essentially at homeopathic doses," said Phyllis Gardner, a Stanford University physician and pharmacologist. "It can't possibly have an effect."

The fact that the substances are in tap water at all concerns Gardner and others. "I wish they weren't there," said Mary Vore, a professor of toxicology at the University of Kentucky. "But I will keep drinking the water."
New rules announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will tighten air quality standards set a decade ago, reflecting a growing amount of research indicating that smog poses greater health risks than previously thought.


The air in Chicago, which met federal smog standards for the first time last year, will fail again under the new limit.

Under the regulations outlined by top EPA officials, the allowable level of smog in the air will be 75 parts per billion, down from the current standard of 85 parts per billion but higher than 60 parts per billion recommended by pediatricians and environmental groups to protect children and the elderly.
A recent study of the PACE (People with Arthritis Can Exercise) program by researchers at the University of North Carolina showed significant improvements in reducing pain and fatigue among those who completed the eight-week course, with benefits persisting for up to six months after completion of the course.


"I liked it because it's not just an exercise program," said Laurie Maietta, who taught the PACE course last fall at Panther Physical Therapy in Hampton. "You have the exercise program, an educational program, and a relaxation component as well."

Arthritis sufferers tend to be less fit than seniors who don't suffer from this condition. Which is too bad, said Dr. Moira Davenport, director of sports and emergency medicine for Allegheny General Hospital, because "exercise can definitely help people suffering from arthritis. It strengthens the muscle around the affected joints, and takes away some of the pressure and pain."
The study, by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, found that men and women who were severely obese were 45 percent more likely than normal-weight adults to develop pancreatic cancer over five years…


…Pancreatic cancer is difficult to catch early, and 95 percent of patients die within five years of being diagnosed. Because of this dismal prognosis, researchers consider it particularly important to pinpoint the modifiable risk factors for the disease.
In many ways, pediatricians do know more than parents. When your doctor says your newborn needs to ride in a rear-facing car seat, don't argue. When he says your 2-month-old with a 105-degree fever needs to get to the doctor's office -- and fast -- you'd better listen.


But there are far more areas that are gray and have no science, or not very good science, to back them up, says our panel of pediatric experts. They say that sometimes, this means your pediatrician is giving you his or her opinion, not medical fact.

"There are several ways to approach many issues in pediatrics. There isn't one clear-cut way," says Dr. Robert Needlman, co-author of the latest edition of "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care." "Pediatricians really should make a distinction between what's based on research and what's based on our own particular beliefs."
The U.S. federal standards for acceptable levels of pharmaceutical residue in bottled water are the same as those for tap water -- there aren't any.


The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the $12 billion bottled water industry in the United States, sets limits for chemicals, bacteria and radiation, but doesn't address pharmaceuticals.

Some water that's bottled comes from pristine, often underground rural sources; other brands have a source no more remote than local tap water. Either way, bottlers insist their products are safe and say they generally clean the water with advanced treatments, though not explicitly for pharmaceuticals.
Tests on mice show that diacetyl, a component of artificial butter flavoring, can cause a condition known as lymphocytic bronchiolitis, said the team at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.


The condition can lead to obliterative bronchiolitis -- or "popcorn lung" -- a rare and debilitating disease seen in workers at microwave popcorn packaging plants and at least one consumer.

At least two microwave popcorn makers -- ConAgra Foods Inc and Weaver Popcorn Co Inc -- have said recently they would stop using diacetyl.

No Vaccinations: Parents Face Jail Time

Parents in Belgium were sent to jail for not getting their children vaccinated against polio. Maria Cheng of the Associated Press reports:
"It's a pretty extraordinary case," said Dr. Ross Upshur, director of the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto.


"The Belgians have a right to take some action against the parents, given the seriousness of polio, but the question is, is a prison sentence disproportionate?"

The parents can still avoid prison — their sentences were delayed to give them a chance to vaccinate their children. But if that deadline also passes without their children receiving the injections, the parents could be put behind bars.
Well, I’m not moving to Belgium anytime soon, but they better not pull this crap in the U.S. I know Dr. Fuhrman wouldn’t like it. Here's what he had to say about mandatory HPV vaccinations:
Remember this is not about arguing about the effectiveness or value of vaccines, just whether we should mandate medical care and take another freedom away from Americans. We no longer have the freedom to take or not take medications. Sounds like the Taliban to me.
Scary stuff.
Tags:

Worried about the Water?

TreeHugger wants to know, are people really worried about all the drugs in our drinking water? Check it out:
We have worried that some might be nervous about drinking tap water after the recent Associated Press study that purported to find traces of hormones and antibiotics in some municipal water supplies, and might be scared into switching to bottled water. Some have even suggested that the bottled water industry might be behind this.
Be sure to take their survey:


Here are my results. I’m with the concerned crowd. Take a look:


How could you not be concerned at all? You’d think at the very least these people would have dry mouth from burying their heads in the sand.
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Pregnancy and Alcohol: Just One Drink...

Back in November the American Cancer Society published a report with suggestions to help people decrease their cancer risk. Here’s an excerpt:
The report, called Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, urges people to stay at a healthy weight, which means having a body mass index (or BMI, a ratio of weight to height) between 18.5 and 24.9. And it recommends regular physical activity as a way to control weight…


…The report also makes recommendations for eating more healthfully to reduce cancer risk. It says people should eat mostly foods from plants, limit red meat and alcohol, and avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, and lunchmeat.
And as Dr. Fuhrman points out, alcohol isn’t exactly health-promoting. Its basically drink at your own risk. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks for men. Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other potential problems.1 For example, alcohol consumption leads to mild withdrawal sensations the next day that are commonly mistaken for hunger, which leads people to eat more than is genuinely necessary, resulting in weight gain.
Okay, as far as pregnancy is concerned, Dr. Fuhrman considers alcohol “really risky for you and your unborn children.” Here’s his list of no-no’s:
  • 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
  • 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
Now, this new research sends a confusing message. A Swedish Study says its okay for moms to have a few swigs while breastfeeding. More from the AFP:
"There is no medical reason to abstain completely from alcohol while breastfeeding," Annica Sohlstroem, head of the agency's nutrition department, said in a statement.


"The amount of alcohol that the child can ingest through the breastmilk is small if you drink one or two glasses of wine" per week, she said.

The new advice is an about-face for the agency, which has for the past decade or so advised women to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding, and is based on current medical research.
I think pairing alcohol with pregnancy and breastfeeding is just a bad idea. In fact, past research determined that alcohol may alter a child’s mind. From HealthDay News:
In their study, researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) examined 22 children and adolescents (ages 8 to 18 years) -- 13 with and 9 without histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure. The participants were part of a larger study at the Center for Behavioral Teratology, SDSU...


"...We found two regions within the prefrontal cortex where the youth with alcohol-exposure histories had increased brain activation and one area in the subcortex (called the caudate nucleus) where the alcohol-exposed youth had decreased brain activation," study co-author Susanna L. Fryer, a graduate student in the SDSU/University of California, San Diego, joint doctoral program in clinical psychology, said in a prepared statement.
I won’t be faced with this decision, but, I hope my wife would totally abstain from alcohol while she was pregnant and breastfeeding—I’d easily give it up right along side her!
Continue Reading...

Health Points: Wednesday

Inhaling diesel exhaust triggers a stress response in the brain that may have damaging long-term effects on brain function, Dutch researchers said on Tuesday.

Previous studies have found very small particles of soot, or nanoparticles, are able to travel from the nose and lodge in the brain. But this is the first time researchers have demonstrated a change in brain activity.
"Convergent evidence now strongly links a class of chemicals -- acetylcholinesterase inhibitors -- to illness in Gulf War veterans," Dr. Beatrice Golomb of the University of California, San Diego, said in e-mailed comments.


She said some of the chemicals linked to these illnesses continue to be used in agriculture, and in homes and offices for pest control in the United States and throughout the world.
“It takes strength to do them, and it takes endurance to do a lot of them,” said Jack LaLanne, 93, the fitness pioneer who astounded television viewers in the 1950s with his fingertip push-ups. “It’s a good indication of what kind of physical condition you’re in.”


The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut like a plank with toes and palms on the floor. The act of lifting and lowering one’s entire weight is taxing even for the very fit.
A recent study suggests that possibly harmful bacteria is in the freshest fallen snow. After learning about this study I started thinking about whether or not I would allow my boys to continue eating snow. We have never allowed our kids to eat snow off of the ground but we have let them pick up snow off of something like a table or chair outside thinking that the snow there was cleaner. Our kids, like many others, have also turned their faces to the sky and let the snowflakes fall right into their mouths. Chances are that many of you, myself included, did just the same as kids and we turned out OK ;)
However, now research suggests that the snow is just plain dirty and that it may have harmful bacteria no matter how you eat it or where you eat it from.
"We knew that some data found yoga helped reduce hot flashes among healthy women but no one had studied the effects among cancer survivors," Duke University's Laura Porter, Ph.D., says in a news release.


Breast cancer survivors aren't good candidates for hormone replacement therapy. And some breast cancer treatments, such as tamoxifen, "tend to induce or exacerbate menopausal symptoms," write Porter and colleagues at Duke and Oregon Health & Science University.
In fact, those with more than 12 years of education -- more than a high school diploma -- can expect to live to 82; for those with 12 or fewer years of education, life expectancy is 75.


"If you look in recent decades, you will find that life expectancy has been increasing, which is good, but when you split this out by better-educated groups, the life expectancy gained is really occurring much more so in the better-educated groups," said lead researcher Ellen R. Meara, an assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School.

"The puzzle is why we have been successful in extending life span for some groups. Why haven't we been successful in getting that for less advantaged groups?" Meara said.
A new state ban on smoking in restaurants and other nightspots contains an exception for performers in theatrical productions. So some bars are getting around the ban by printing up playbills, encouraging customers to come in costume and pronouncing them "actors."


The customers are playing right along, merrily puffing away -- and sometimes speaking in funny accents and doing a little improvisation too.

The state Health Department is threatening to bring the curtain down on these sham productions. But for now, it's on with the show.
Their reassuring finding: women who are too fat when pregnant are probably not somehow driving the obesity epidemic by programming their children to be fat.


But there is a strong link between overweight mothers and overweight children that still needs to be explained, Debbie Lawlor of Britain's University of Bristol and colleagues said.

Lawlor's team looked at the developmental overnutrition hypothesis -- the idea that if a woman is overweight during pregnancy, the higher levels of sugar and fatty acids in her blood would affect the developing fetus, dooming or at least predisposing the child to poor appetite control and a slower metabolism.

Drugs...In the Water!

This report should make you mental! Antibiotics, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones can all be found in America’s water supply—YUM! Sigh. The Associated Press reports:
Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless pressed, the AP found. For example, the head of a group representing major California suppliers said the public "doesn't know how to interpret the information" and might be unduly alarmed…


…People take pills. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped to consumers. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue…

"…We recognize it is a growing concern and we're taking it very seriously," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Personally, I filter the HECK out of my water. Ever since living in a college dorm for four years, I look at public water with an elevated degree of caution—eek!

Halt, Dangerous Toys!

This is encouraging. It seems government has really stepped up efforts to keep toxic toys away from kids—halt them at the port. From the CBS Early Show:
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) inspectors will be working side-by-side with Customs agents, looking for banned items.


"The CPSC can now actually stop, examine, and then either release or hold products," points out the agency's top spokesperson, Julie Vallese. "The CPSC is now out there flexing its muscle, doing what it can and trying to stop volatile products before they come into the marketplace."

In addition to toys, CBS Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen says, the new inspections will target cigarette lighters, fireworks, and electronics -- many of them coming from China.

Officials acknowledge inspections can only go so far, and what they're finding represents just the tip of the iceberg -- but add it's better than nothing.
Videos make things so much easier to understand. Be sure to check out the video that accompanied this report. Here it is:


I think is a good idea—I’m all for free enterprise—but so often goods manufacturers show us that they can’t be trusted. More posts about toxic toys:
I wonder if my Optimus Prime keychain is dangerous?
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John McCain, Vaccines, and Autism

Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain believes that mercury—found in many childhood vaccines—is to blame for the increase in autism diagnoses in the United States. Jake Tapper of Political Punch has more:
At a town hall meeting Friday in Texas, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declared that "there’s strong evidence" that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was once in many childhood vaccines, is responsible for the increased diagnoses of autism in the U.S. -- a position in stark contrast with the view of the medical establishment…


…McCain said, per ABC News' Bret Hovell, that "It’s indisputable that (autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what’s causing it. And we go back and forth and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines."
Sen. McCain’s certainly picked a side of the fence—that’s admirable—but the vaccine-autism link is a complex and touchy situation. For example, Tara C. Smith doesn’t agree. Here’s a quote from her blog Aetiology:
Just what we need in the White House; another 4+ years of an anti-science president.
Okay, for the sake of not stirring up unnecessary controversy, let’s first look at the plight of mercury. As Dr. Fuhrman explains, mercury is not something you want to be exposed to. Take a look:
The injection of even this small amount of mercury repeatedly year after year from multiple vaccines can cause neurotoxicity (brain damage). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public Health Service have issued a joint statement calling for the removal of mercury from vaccines. Chronic low dose mercury exposures may cause subtle neurological abnormalities that rear their head later in life.
Now, rather than being partisan over this—focus on the issue of choice. That’s how Dr. Fuhrman approaches vaccinations. You decide what’s good for you, and, you decide what’s good for your kids. He explains:
I strongly support the rights of individuals to do what they want with their own bodies and those of their children, right or wrong. Bombarding the young human with so many immunizations early in life could have far-reaching detrimental effects. We already have decent data linking the early use of hepatitis B vaccine with Multiple Sclerosis. Authorities and physicians are also aware that mercury preservatives in vaccines have long-term harmful effects. Therefore, I do not recommend the "cookbook" approach to vaccines and work with parents to reduce the exposure, eliminate some and delay others to reduce the risk.
The point to be made here—whether you believe vaccines lead to autism or not—is that you should always have the right to chose what you feel is best for you and your family—hopefully Sen. McCain remembers that if he gets into office.
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Scientists Say, Cigarettes Cause Cancer

Wow! Alert the press on this one. Apparently scientists have determined that the hydrogen peroxide in cigarette smoke is what promotes cancerous cells. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
Researchers from the University of California, Davis, said their findings may help lead to new treatments for lung cancer and may help the tobacco industry develop "safer" cigarettes by eliminating such substances in the smoke.


"With the five-year survival rate for people with lung cancer at a dismally low 15.5 percent, we hope this study will provide better insight into the identification of new therapeutic targets," senior author Tzipora Goldkorn said in a prepared statement.

In this laboratory study, the researchers exposed different sets of human lung cells to cigarette smoke or hydrogen peroxide and then incubated the cells for one to two days. The cells were then compared to unexposed airway cells. The cells exposed to cigarette smoke and those exposed to hydrogen peroxide showed the same molecular signatures of cancer development. The unexposed cells showed no such changes.
Apparently Britney Spears didn’t get the memo—dummy.

Yeah, Don't Smoke if You're Pregnant...

I could care less about Lindsey Hilton or Paris Lohan, but this picture really irked me. Britney Spears demonstrates her abysmal parenting skills by SMOKING while she was pregnant. Disgusting:


As a man, I realize that I swimming in dangerous waters here, but, I think it is incredibly selfish and offensive to smoke while a new life is forming inside you—opinions?

Bay Area Set to Spray Pesticides

The light brown apple moth must die! Apparently so, because officials are set to spray pesticides over urban San Francisco to get rid of it. Jane Kay of The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The little-known proposal to wipe out the light brown apple moth, which if it became established could destroy the region's agricultural industry, has developed increasing opposition among some residents who fear for their health.


Hundreds of people whose homes and yards were sprayed in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties from September to December have filed reports that said the pesticide seems to have caused coughing, wheezing, muscle aches and headaches, among other symptoms. One Monterey family reported that a child had a first-time asthma attack.

State officials say the amount of pesticide applied shouldn't pose severe health risks, but they've also refused to rule out that the spray can affect humans, particularly sensitive people such as children and the elderly.
Gee, that’s comforting.
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Healthy Air, Healthy Blood Vessels

A Danish study has determined that using HEPA air filters in the home can improve the blood vessel function of older people. Anne Harding of Reuters reports:
While the couples were all non-smokers, the improvement seen in the study was "in the same ballpark" as would be seen after a person quits smoking, Dr. Steffen Loft of the Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.


There is a wealth of data on how breathing minute particles carried in the air, known as particulate matter, can worsen heart and lung disease and even increase mortality rates, Loft and his team note in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

To better understand how particulate matter in indoor air affects health, the researchers used a battery of tests to assess microvascular function and inflammation in 21 couples 60 to 75 years old after breathing nonfiltered air, and then after breathing filtered air for 48 hours.
Yeah, you try explaining to your grandparents how to work an air filter. Put it to you this way, my grandparents VCR has been flashing 12:00 for over ten years now!

Health Points: Friday

A recent review of scientific research suggests cranberries may offer a natural defense against the development of this dangerous disease. Researchers feel that many of these results are due to the fact that cranberries contain a greater concentration of antioxidants than other commonly consumed fruit and that these nutrients may be working together to offer even greater benefits.

The report conducted at Tufts University, and published in Nutrition Reviews, found that cranberries offered a range of different benefits that work to promote cardiovascular health. These benefits include effects on cholesterol as well as on blood pressure and the development of blood clots, all established risk factors for heart disease.
One in five of all male deaths and one in 20 of all female deaths between the ages of 30 and 69 will be caused by smoking, said the study, conducted by a team of doctors and scientists from India, Canada and Britain and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


"The results we found surprised us, because smokers in India start later in life and smoke fewer cigarettes or 'bidis' than those in Europe or America, but the risks are as extreme as in the West," said Prabhat Jha of the Center for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto, the lead author of the study.
On average, the students gained 14 pounds, added 2.6 inches to their waistline, and padded their body fat percentage by 3.7% during the study.


Blood samples provided by the students throughout the study show a spike in levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT). ALT levels rose quickly -- typically within a week -- after the students started the fast-food diet.
Tuna is one of those annoying pregnancy foods that might be really, really good or really, really bad for the baby.


Instead of driving yourself crazy (like I did!) trying to guess the proper amount to ingest without putting increasing your mercury level to the point of now return, you can use the handy dandy Tuna Calculator that will give you a suggested weekly serving based on your weight.
PCC Natural Markets is prohibiting suppliers from using cloned animal products in their food. It also wants them to disclose where ingredients are from and what they mean by terms such as "natural flavors."


These moves come months after the Seattle chain eliminated high-fructose corn syrup from its eight stores and began identifying the countries of origin for its meat, seafood, peanuts and fresh and frozen produce.
According to the research, red wine and alcohol consumption were found to have virtually identical impact on health, with one drink of either substance helping to reduce the work rate of the heart.


The findings, which are published in the February edition of the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology, could challenge the perception that polyphenol content of red wine is responsible for cardiovascular benefits.

Red wine has been linked to extended survival rates of mice and prevented the negative effects of high-calorie diets, in other testing, due to the presence of the polyphenol, resveratrol.
"You're in a dark, gloomy place," said Bruce Hollis, a leading vitamin D researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina. "In the winter, you could stand outside naked for five hours and nothing is going to happen."


Increased use of sunscreen has turned a seasonal shortfall into a year-round condition for many people. A recent survey in Britain found 87 percent of adults tested during winter, and more than 60 percent in summer, had subpar vitamin D levels. Doctors in many parts of the world — including California — report a resurgence of childhood rickets, soft bones caused by lack of vitamin D.
Tobacco giants Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco actively collude with cigarette smugglers to gain a foothold in lucrative developing markets, campaigners alleged on Wednesday.


"Transnationals benefit in a number of ways from the illicit trade in tobacco," said Kathyrn Mulvey, director of international policy with the lobby group Corporate Accountability International (CAI).

Weird Science: Fake Sugar, GMO Vegetables

A new study claims artificial sweeteners are linked to weight-gain. Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News reports:
Purdue researchers report that saccharin altered the ability of rats to control their appetites. However, the head of an artificial sweetener trade group scoffed at the findings, saying they don't necessarily translate to humans.


"We found that the rats that were getting artificially sweetened yogurt gained more weight and ate more food," said study author Susan Swithers, an associate professor of psychological sciences at the Ingestive Behavior Research Institute at Purdue University. "The take-home message is that consumption of artificially sweetened products may interfere with an automatic process."

That process, she said, involves the body's ability to detect that it will soon be full. "We often will stop eating before we've been able to absorb all of the calories that come from a meal. One of the reasons we might stop eating is that our experience has taught in the past that, 'After I eat this food, I'll feel this full for this long,' " she explained.

It seems to be a subconscious process based on automatic estimations of how much energy certain foods will provide, she said. For example, a sweet taste might be a sign that "calories are coming, and I should prepare my body for the arrival of those calories." However, when the sweetness is not followed by a lot of calories, the body's digestive system gets confused, and the metabolism rate does not gear up as much the next time sweetness is tasted.
Not that surprising, Dr. Fuhrman will tell, fake sugars are risky propositions. Take aspartame for example:
My opinion is that the possible dangers of aspartame are still unknown. Utilizing such artificial products is gambling with your health. Aspartame also exposes us to a methyl ester that may have toxic effects. I recommend playing it safe and sticking to natural foods.
Now, sticking with the weird science theme, researchers want to genetically amp up the calcium in carrots. From Jeannine Stein of The Los Angeles Times:
"Fruits and vegetables are generally a pretty low source of calcium," says Jay Morris, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine's Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston and lead author of a study published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "But if we can increase calcium in a wide variety of foods, we can have a modest effect in the amount of calcium available to people in their diets."


In the study, 15 men and 15 women ages 21 to 29 ate regular carrots, and carrots that had been genetically modified to allow them to store more calcium. Through urine tests, researchers found that subjects absorbed about 41% more calcium per serving than from the regular carrots.
Well, I guess if the only veggie you’re eating is carrots, you’d like if they were more calcium-rich, but as Dr. Fuhrman points out, plants—in general—are packed with calcium:


Yeah, sometimes science can be a wee-bit unusual.

Tobacco 2100: 1 Billion Dead

Sounds like a science fiction horror movie and in truth, it is a horror. According to the World Health Organization tobacco could kill 1 billion people by 2100. The Associated Press reports:
Governments around the world collect more than $200 billion in tobacco taxes every year but spend less than one fifth of 1 percent of that revenue on tobacco control, it said.


"We hold in our hands the solution to the global tobacco epidemic that threatens the lives of one billion men, women and children during this century," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in an introduction to the report.

The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008 calls on all countries to dramatically increase efforts to prevent young people from beginning to smoke, help smokers quit, and protect nonsmokers from exposure to second hand smoke.
If you smoke, quit, don’t be one of the billion.

To Pesticide, or Not to Pesticide

Pesticides, scary stuff. According to Dr. Fuhrman, “The EPA reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causers.” Now, Dr. Fuhrman goes on to point out the magnification of this risk in farmer workers. Take a look:
Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple myloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, and testes.1
No doubt, farmer workers around pesticides are at risk and not only for cancer. In fact, this past September a study of nearly 20,000 farmers established a link between pesticides and asthma-risk. Reuters reported:
Pesticide exposure is a "potential risk factor for asthma and respiratory symptoms among farmers," lead author Dr. Jane A. Hoppin, from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, told Reuters Health.


"Because grains and animals are more common exposures in agricultural settings, pesticides may be overlooked," Hoppin warned, adding: "Better education and training of farmers and pesticide handlers may help to reduce asthma risk."

Of the 19,704 farmers included in the study, 127 had self-reported (doctor diagnosed) allergic asthma and 314 had non-allergic asthma.
It gets worse. Pesticide use is being blamed for the “health disaster” afflicting the French Caribbean. This story also broke in September. Here’s some of the AP report:
The French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique face a "health disaster" with soaring cancer and infertility rates because of the massive use of banned pesticides on banana plantations, a top cancer specialist warned Monday.


Martinique and Guadeloupe are currently facing "an extremely serious crisis linked to the massive use of pesticides for a great many years," Professor Dominique Belpomme said in a report obtained by AFP Monday.

On Tuesday Belpomme is to submit his findings to the French National Assembly, highlighting the dangers posed by the long-term use of chlordecone, also known as kepone, on banana crops.
Okay, maybe you understand the dangers, but the impact is always more profound when it hits close to home. Kristine Crane of Poked & Prodded wants to know if Iowa farming made her mother sick. Check it out:
When I was little I would sometimes ride with my parents out to farmland my family owned in the Iowa countryside. I remember the thrill of weaving through rows of corn that stood way taller than me.


What my mother remembers most is pulling up weeds. And when I asked her recently if she thought that anything in particular had caused her breast cancer, she said, “I always wondered if there was something on the weeds.”
Granted, Kristine’s mother wasn’t plowing the fields, but still, it makes you wonder. Now, here’s something that makes me wonder. Why is Africa spraying DDT—a pesticide long-know to be dangerous—in residential homes. You’ve got to see this video:

I understand that a ravaging disease like Malaria needs to be stop, but most industrialized nations know DDT comes with a heavy price. In case you didn’t learn about it in school, here’s more info on DDT via Wikipedia. Look:
Concerns about DDT's environmental effects grew out of direct personal observations, usually involving a marked reduction in bird life, later supplemented by scientific investigation. The first recorded group effort against the chemical involved several citizens, including one or more scientists, in Nassau County, New York. Their unsuccessful struggle to have DDT regulated was reported in the New York Times in 1957, and thereby came to the attention of the popular naturalist-author, Rachel Carson. New Yorker editor William Shawn urged her to write a piece on the subject, which developed into Silent Spring, her famous 1962 bestseller. espite the uproar surrounding Silent Spring, DDT remained in use…


…During the late 1960s, pressure grew within the United States to effect a ban on DDT. In January 1971, the U.S. District Court of Appeals ordered William Ruckelshaus, the EPA's first Administrator, to begin the de-registration procedure for DDT. Initially, after a six-month review process, Ruckelshaus rejected an outright ban, citing studies from the EPA's internal staff stating that DDT was not an imminent danger to human health and wildlife. However, the findings of these staff members were criticized, as they were performed mostly by economic entomologists inherited from the United States Department of Agriculture, whom many environmentalists felt were biased towards agribusiness and tended to minimize concerns about human health and wildlife.
It’s worrisome to see countries reviving the usage of DDT—especially spraying everything in the house with it—because as Dr. Fuhrman explains, DDT finds its way into our food supply and its link to cancer is veru profound. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
It has been shown that women with higher levels of pesticides in their bloodstream have a higher risk of breast cancer.2 However, the pesticide shown in these studies to be connected to cancer was DDT, which is no longer used in food production and was banned by the U.S. government in 1972. The problem is that DDT is still in the environment and finds its way back into our food supply, predominately via shellfish and fish consumption.
As for pesticides, I think America should be leading the push for responsible usage or no usage at all. If nothing else, we should be encouraging our citizens and farmers—and other nations that may be watching—to learn from our mistakes.
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More Funding for the FDA?

Here’s a perplexing nugget from the newswire. President Bush wants to increase funding for FDA food safety. Reuters reports:
The Bush administration on Monday proposed boosting funding to better protect the food supply, including opening an office in China.


In its fiscal 2009 budget, the White House proposed raising expenditures for food programs at the Food and Drug Administration to $543 million from an estimated $510 million in the prior year.

Overall, the White House requested an FDA budget of $2.4 billion for the 2009 fiscal year starting October 1, up only slightly from fiscal 2008.

Food safety has been a growing worry for U.S. consumers with reports of tainted bagged spinach and peanut butter along with a range of scares involving food and toys from China.
Odd, because I thought the FDA doesn't know what they needed to do their jobs. Reuters reported last week:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's failure to discuss clearly its strategy and the money needed to better protect the country's food supply could make it harder for a plan to succeed, a congressional watchdog agency told lawmakers on Tuesday.


Last November, the Bush administration proposed stronger rules to better protect the country's food supply. Some of the proposals require approval from Congress.

The Government Accountability Office said while the food safety inspection plan "proposes several positive first steps," it has failed to explain what resources and how much additional funding it will need to implement it.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be too quick to give these knuckleheads MORE money!
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Babies, Baby Products, and Phthalates

A new study has determined that many baby care products may be exposing babies to potentially harmful chemicals called phthalates. Megan Rauscher of Reuters reports:
"At this time, we do not know what the potential long-term health effects might be, but there is a large body of animal studies to suggest developmental and reproductive toxicity (from phthalates) and a few human studies with changes in health outcomes as well," Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana told Reuters Health.


Phthalates are used to make plastics flexible and stabilize fragrances, and are found in a plethora of consumer products including toys, personal care products and medical equipment.

As reported online today in the journal Pediatrics, Sathyanarayana, from the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues measured the levels of nine different phthalate breakdown products in urine from diapers of 163 infants aged 2 to 28 months.

All of the urine samples contained at least one phthalate at measurable levels, they report, and 81 percent of the samples had measurable amounts of seven or more phthalates.
I don’t know all that much about phthalates, so, I ran it through Wikipedia. This caught my eye, scary stuff. Take a look:
In 2007, a cross-sectional study of U.S. males conducted by researchers at Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry concluded that urine concentrations of four phthalate metabolites correlate with waist size and three phthalate metabolites correlate with the cellular resistance to insulin, a precursor to Type II diabetes.
Now, this clearly illustrates that the manufacturers don’t have children’s best interests at heart. So, who’s job is it to protect our kids form stiff like this. Dr. Fuhrman makes it very clear:
We must be careful not to expose our children to chemical cleaners, insecticides, and weed killers on our lawns. Chemicals used in pressure-treated wood used to build lawn furniture, decks, fences, and swings sets have been shown to place children at risk. When children are around, we must be vigilant to maintain a chemical-free environment.
In this case, baby lotions and shampoos are no different.

Don't Heat the BPA

If you’re worried about the toxin Bisphenol A (BPA) you might want to avoid plastic water bottles, and, boiling plastic water bottles. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News has more:
Exposing plastic bottles to boiling water can release a potentially harmful chemical 55 times faster than normal, new research suggests.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in the plastics that make up water bottles, baby bottles, and other food and drink packaging. It acts as an environmental estrogen and can disrupt the function of the endocrine system.

In 2007, an expert panel convened by the U.S. Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) concluded that exposure to BPA presents some risk to development and reproduction, although it's unclear at what level that harm begins to occur.

"There isn't a real answer," said study senior author Scott Belcher, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Cincinnati. "There seems to be a current difference of opinion between the scientific research field and the folks doing risk assessment. If you were to sum it up in an easy, relatively conservative way, the scientific data points to some reason for caution at low concentrations. There really isn't much information regarding the effects on human populations directly."
Now, if you’re a parent, and, BPA has got you nervous, check out this BPA-free sippy cup. ParentDish is pretty impressed with the Fluid Toddler Cup. Its neat looking:


To be honest, I want one for myself.

Mercury, Fish, and More Testing

I really like fish. I also really like chocolate and bread, but like all iffy foods. I carefully limit how much of these I eat. And according to Dr. Fuhrman, when it comes to fish, limitation is a good idea. He explains:
Choose fish over other animal products, but be aware that the place where it was caught, and the type of fish, matters. Don't accept recreational fish from questionable waters. Farmed fish is safer. Never eat high-mercury-content fish. Don't eat fish more than twice a week, and if you have a family history of hemorrhagic stroke, limit it further to only once a month.
This concern about fish is catching on—pun intended. Restaurants and retailers are actually testing the fish they sell and serve for mercury contamination. Marian Burros of The New York Times reports:
A NUMBER of restaurants and retailers in different parts of the country have started testing the fish they sell in response to concerns about the amount of mercury in seafood, and the Environmental Protection Agency is beginning to examine the mercury content in fish sold in the New York City region…


…A chain of five stores in New York, Gourmet Garage, sold tuna that in the Times test had mercury concentrations above one part per million, the Food and Drug Administration’s “action level,” at which the fish can be taken off the market. The company said it would now carry only yellowfin tuna with no more than 0.4 parts per million. Yellowfin tuna is generally lower in mercury than bluefin…

…Hiro Nishida, the president of Food Scope America, which owns Megu, said he was not surprised. The average concentration of mercury in Kindai tuna is 0.6 parts per million, he said, but producers are “trying to decrease the parts per million to 0.2 by different feeding, and they will become much healthier to people who enjoy tuna.”
All this testing is a great idea, but, I’m with Dr. Fuhrman, I’ll continue limit to how much fish I eat, and, I’ll be certain to choose fish with the lowest contamination levels. Here’s a list of Dr. Fuhrman’s best and worst fish. Look:
Fish with Highest and Lowest Mercury Levels


Highest
tilefish
swordfish
mackerel
shark
white snapper
tuna

Lowest
salmon
flounder
sole
tilapia
trout
I use this little list as my measuring stick. Now, if you’ve got more questions about seafood safety, please check out OceansAlive.org. I’ve been using the site for years now, very helpful.

Congress Going Green...

Going “green” has been in the news a lot lately. Personally, I think it’s great. We live with the planet, not on it. And it seems Congress is starting to think greener. More from Bryan Walsh of Time:
Hours and hours of hearings finally led to a legislative breakthrough in December: the passage out of the committee of the first bill that would put carbon caps on the U.S. economy. Co-sponsored by the Republican Sen. John Warner and the Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the America's Climate Security Act would cap U.S. carbon emissions at 15% below 2005 levels by 2020, with a 70% cut projected for 2050. If enacted, those carbon caps would all but force U.S. businesses to invest in cleaner technology and greater energy efficiency, and would help the country take a leadership role in international climate negotiations…


…Critics like Bush tend to focus on the economic costs of reducing carbon emissions — through increased energy prices — but Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, and many of her supporters, believe that combating climate change can have a net positive effect on the economy. Boxer hails from California, which has already passed the strongest state legislation on climate change, cutting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Far from hurting the state economically, Boxer notes, the carbon bill has helped California become the center for green innovation in the U.S., with Silicon Valley venture capitalists pouring billions into alternative energy start-ups. Those businesses will create new, green jobs that should make up for the short-term costs of cutting carbon. "The cure for global warming is positive," says Boxer. "That makes it easy for me to approach it with hope."
Take carbon emissions for example, its bad news, why not take more measures to clean it up? Check out these posts for more:
Environmental pollution is a huge deal, there are tons of reasons why in DiseaseProof's toxins category.

Anti-Smoking Plans, Good or Bad?

Admittedly, I’m a skeptic and a cynic. Given the amount of people I see sucking down cigarettes, I’d be the first to say anti-smoking campaigns don’t work, but, apparently I’m wrong. According to Reuters, state anti-smoking plans work. Take a look:
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an independent research institute analyzed data on smoking rates and tobacco control spending in all 50 states from 1995 to 2003.


The advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the states will spend about $717 million in fiscal year 2008 on tobacco control and smoking cessation programs.

These programs include advertising on the hazards of smoking, school- and community-based anti-smoking efforts, and steps like creating toll-free telephone lines to help people quit.

The study found that the more states spent on programs, the larger the declines they achieved in adult smoking rates, independent of other factors like higher tobacco prices.
Now, we just got to get some more state anti-weed-smoking plans.
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Wednesday: Health Points

A study published Monday hints that fitness buffs appear to have "younger" DNA than the chronically sedentary. The finding could help scientists understand the effects of exercise and aging at a molecular level.

Previous research has shown that being physically active reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases, potentially extending longevity.

Previous research has shown that older people have shorter ends than younger folks. Indeed, biologists say they shrink every time a cell divides.
Some 84 million people risk dying from cancer over the next decade, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.


The IAEA, the UN atomic watchdog, is involved in the fight agaist the disease through its Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) division, which shares the organisation's knowledge of radiotherapy techniques with other partners in the field.

PACT head Massud Samiei told journalists that "the cancer epidemic will gather pace in developing countries."
About two-thirds of the cases were children who took the medicines unsupervised. However, about one-quarter involved cases in which parents gave the proper dosage and an allergic reaction or some other problem developed, the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.


The study included both over-the-counter and prescription medicines. It comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned parents that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are too dangerous for children younger than 2.
The key is for both spouses to be comfortable expressing anger, rather than one or both suppressing anger, University of Michigan researchers report.


"The key matter is, when the conflict happens, how do you resolve it?" asks Ernest Harburg, PhD, professor emeritus with the University of Michigan's School of Public Health and psychology department. "If you bury your anger, and you brood on it ... and you don't try to resolve the problem, then you're in trouble."

Harburg's team found a higher death rate among married couples in which both spouses suppress anger, compared with other married couples. Their findings appear in the Journal of Family Communication.
Studies in the past have demonstrated that cannabis can cause cancer, but few have established a strong link between cannabis use and the actual incidence of lung cancer.


In an article published in the European Respiratory Journal, the scientists said cannabis could be expected to harm the airways more than tobacco as its smoke contained twice the level of carcinogens, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, compared with tobacco cigarettes.

The method of smoking also increases the risk, since joints are typically smoked without a proper filter and almost to the very tip, which increases the amount of smoke inhaled. The cannabis smoker inhales more deeply and for longer, facilitating the deposition of carcinogens in the airways.
BREAKFAST CEREALS
Seventh-Day Adventists are credited with creating breakfast cereals. They founded the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where they manufactured and promoted wholesome cereals. Will Keith Kellogg was an Adventist who discovered corn flakes in 1894 when a pot of cooked wheat was overcooked and then dried. Each grain became a separate flake. He introduced Rice Krispies in 1929. The Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company was founded in 1906.


THE DOUGHNUT
Originally introduced by the Dutch as sweet dough fried in pork fat (known as "oily cakes"), the doughnut has been around a very long time, although its popularity surged with the doughnuts served to solders in World War I. The term "doughnut" either comes from the small balls of dough that looked like nuts, or a recipe from a mid-19th century cook who added nuts to the center of her fried dough and therefore referred to them as dough "nuts." The legend goes on to say that her son, a sea captain, didn't like the nuts so he had them cut out, creating the famous doughnut shape that we know today. Doughnuts remained as snacks, not breakfast -- often served in theaters -- until the doughnut machine was invented in the 1930s. By the 1940s and 1950s, Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Doughnuts had been introduced, and the pairing of coffee and doughnuts secured their place in the breakfast repertoire. By the 1950s, "drop" doughnuts became very popular and Orange Drop Doughnuts showed up in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Since no rolling or cutting was required -- just drop spoonfuls of batter into hot oil -- this category of doughnuts caught on quickly.
The number of Americans being diagnosed with and also living with type 2 diabetes is soaring, presenting a major health and economic crisis for the United States, a new study reports.


"What's alarming is we have 47 million uninsured people, but these people [in the study, enrolled under Medicare] are all insured. So in this kind of insured program, we have so many people who are not adhering to the recommended care," said Frank Sloan, lead author of the study published in the Jan. 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Sloan is professor of health policy and management at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
The ayurvedic menu at Ananda Spa has been designed to balance the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The doshas are roughly similar to our ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph body types, but they’re even more detailed, taking into consideration the shape of the face, skin type, hair, eyes, and temperament. Everyone is a mix of the three, but one dosha is predominant. If the doshas are balanced, you’ll enjoy good health, if not, you’re basically screwed…


…Once you know which dosha you align with, your ayurvedic practitioner will help you get in harmony through your food choices. To balance a Vata dosha, for example, you’re apparently supposed to eat mostly warm foods, such as soups, stews, warm milk, warm cereals, and baked bread (cream and butter are on the list too). And Vatas are advised to avoid cold foods, such as salads, iced drinks, and raw vegetables and greens. Hmm … doesn’t sound ideal for someone who is lactose-intolerant and loves her veggies.

You've Got Lead on the Brain

Earlier this month we learned that exposing monkeys—a close relative of ours—to lead ups their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later on. The NewScientist was on it:
Monkeys exposed to the heavy metal during infancy may be predisposed to develop the equivalent of Alzheimer's disease.


"We're not saying that lead exposure causes Alzheimer's disease, but it's a risk factor," says Nasser Zawia of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, whose team discovered the link.

Zawia's team fed baby monkeys infant formula milk laced with low levels of lead, then followed their progress until the age of 23. While the adult monkeys did not show symptoms of Alzheimer's per se, post-mortem analyses of their brains showed that the lead-fed monkeys had plaques and other abnormalities identical to those found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.
Maybe there’s some proof in this pudding, because new research has linked lead to aging in older brains. Malcolm Ritter of the Associated Press is on it:
That's the provocative idea emerging from some recent studies, part of a broader area of new research that suggests some pollutants can cause harm that shows up only years after someone is exposed.


The new work suggests long-ago lead exposure can make an aging person's brain work as if it's five years older than it really is. If that's verified by more research, it means that sharp cuts in environmental lead levels more than 20 years ago didn't stop its widespread effects.

"We're trying to offer a caution that a portion of what has been called normal aging might in fact be due to ubiquitous environmental exposures like lead," says Dr. Brian Schwartz of Johns Hopkins University.

"The fact that it's happening with lead is the first proof of principle that it's possible," said Schwartz, a leader in the study of lead's delayed effects. Other pollutants like mercury and pesticides may do the same thing, he said.
Alright, even without this news, we know lead is bad news. So, what can we make of all this? Well, let’s start with the kids. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
We must be careful not to expose our children to chemical cleaners, insecticides, and weed killers on our lawns. Chemicals used in pressure-treated wood used to build lawn furniture, decks, fences, and swing sets have also been shown to place children at risk. When young children are around, we must be vigilant to maintain a chemical-free environment.
And maybe when they get older they can protect themselves, then their children and hopefully, this heightened awareness will nip the whole problem in the bud.

Friday: Health Points

Uncontrolled diabetes wreaks havoc on the body, often leading to kidney failure, blindness and death. A new study shows that the nation's unchecked diabetes epidemic exacts a heavy financial toll as well: $174 billion a year.

That's about as much as the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism combined. It's more than the $150 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The incidence of diabetes has ballooned — there are 1 million new cases a year — as more Americans become overweight or obese, according to the study, released Wednesday by the American Diabetes Association. The cost of diabetes — both in direct medical care and lost productivity — has swelled 32% since 2002, the report shows.

Diabetes killed more than 284,000 Americans last year, according to the diabetes association.
  • Much to my personal delight, Yoga is growing in popularity. Katie Zezima of The New York Times investigates a boot camp for Yoga teachers. Check it out:
In May 2006, Sue Jones started YogaHope, an organization that teaches yoga at eight Boston-area women’s homeless shelters, substance-abuse treatment programs and domestic-violence safe houses, as well as two programs in Seattle. The focus is on teaching restorative yoga, and though many teachers have completed at least 200 hours of training, it is not a requirement.


Driven by a sometimes missionary zeal and a sense that yoga has become an exclusive pursuit, a small but growing number of yoga practitioners are forming organizations that teach yoga in prisons and juvenile detention centers in Oakland, Calif.; Los Angeles, Seattle and Indianapolis. They are working with the addicted and the homeless in Portland, Ore., and with public-school students in New York City.

Though concern about the cost of yoga is an issue (studio classes can cost $20 for a drop-in session, though some offer free or low-cost classes taught by less experienced teachers), most of the practitioners are motived by a desire to introduce yoga to those who might need it most, but wouldn’t think to do it on their own.
Stop-and-go pushup
Assume a pushup position. Brace your core and lower your chest to the floor. When you’re halfway down, pause 2 seconds before continuing. Then, when your chest is 2 inches from the floor, pause again for 2 seconds before pushing halfway back up. Hold for 2 more seconds, then straighten your arms. Do eight reps.


Stop-and-go split squat
Stand with one foot 3 feet forward and hold a barbell across your shoulders. Rise on the ball of your back foot, then bend at the knees. When halfway down, pause for 2 seconds. Pause again when your back knee is just off the floor. Push halfway up, pause again, and return to the starting position. Do six reps with each leg.
The campaign, to be launched in the summer, will form part of a wider strategy including aspects like food labelling, urban design and the promotion of exercise.


Department of Health officials said it will use simple messages -- such as the "five pieces of fruit and veg a day" slogan -- and be based on research into what actually works to make people change from unhealthy lifestyles.

"Tackling obesity is the most significant public and personal health challenge facing our society," said Health Secretary Alan Johnson as he launched the 372 million pound cross-government strategy.
"A didgeri-what?" you ask. While aborigines in Australia have been playing this long wooden trumpet for centuries, it's just recently been redefined as a modern-day medical device. Researchers reporting in the British Medical Journal evaluated 25 people with sleep apnea--a breath-stealing condition caused by flabby throat muscles--and found that those who took 4 months of didgeridoo (DIH-jeh-ree-doo) lessons had about 31/2 times less daytime sleepiness than the folks who didn't blow their own horns. The newly minted musicians also snored significantly less. Credit this uncommon cure to vibrations that exercise tissue in the mouth and throat, says researcher Milo Puhan, Ph.D. "When these muscles are strengthened, the tongue has less tendency to obstruct the airway."


If huffing on a wooden tube to treat your sleep apnea sounds a tad too weird, then you probably aren't familiar with the alternatives. The most commonly prescribed option is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which involves spending every night hooked up to a machine that pumps air down your throat to keep it from collapsing. The other approach is surgery, and that's only 30 to 60 percent effective. Now are you ready to toot the didgeridoo? You can pick up a beginner-friendly model for about $80 at L.A. Outback (laoutback.com). And don't worry; it's intuitive to learn, says co-owner Barry Martin. You purse your lips and blow into it with the beat.
  • Diet Blog hardly has a glowing endorsement for “Slim Coffee.” Jim Foster thinks it’s nothing but a big scam:
It must be so tempting for unscrupulous entrepreneurs:


Find an obscure weight loss product from somewhere overseas. Re-brand it. Hype it up. Create an infomercial. Make millions.

This time it's Slim Coffee. The claims are impressive: "Reduce appetite. Clinically tested. Lose 5 pounds per week". All from drinking coffee with a few supplements added (or so they say).

The makers of Slim Coffee have been pursued by the FTC - resulting in a $923,000 settlement.
Previous studies had suggested that people living in polluted areas are more at risk of heart disease. For example, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine last year showed that women in 36 American cities were more likely to develop heart disease if the air they breathed was rich in particles measuring 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter - known as PM2.5s - which are present in car exhaust fumes.


It now seems that a greater hazard may be posed by so-called "ultrafine" particles, about a dozen times smaller at 0.18 micrometres wide. The latest study in mice has shown that they clog up arteries with fatty atherosclerotic deposits, and chemically alter "good" cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, reducing its beneficial effects.
How does yoga help a professional athlete's game?
Yoga improves balance in the body and works the smaller muscles that normally wouldn't get worked. It also improves range of motion, whether that means swinging a golf club, throwing a baseball or shooting a basketball. It builds stamina through breath control and teaches techniques for relaxing in tense moments. Most important, yoga gives you confidence that your body will do what you want it to do when you need it to.

Old Drugs, Where to Stick Them

When I quit taking my stomach meds I wasn’t sure what to do with them. So, I just dumped them in the trash. Not good. Group Health Cooperative pharmacies have come up with a program for safely disposing of old drugs. Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times reports:
Old drugs left in the medicine cabinet are too often used by mistake or by someone seeking a high. If thrown in the garbage or flushed down the toilet, they can give an unintended dose to fish and other wildlife.


That's beginning to change here, thanks to the nation's largest program for returning unused drugs.

Group Health Cooperative pharmacies, in cooperation with government agencies and environmental groups, are accepting unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs, then sending them away to be incinerated. By the end of last month, shortly after the program was expanded to 25 Group Health pharmacies in King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Thurston and Spokane counties, patients had returned 2 tons of drugs.

It will become even easier to return medications next month when Bartell Drugs puts the first secure drop box in one of its stores and then rolls out the service in more stores. The opening dates for the service and the locations of those stores have not yet been announced.
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Girls and Puberty, Sooner and Sooner

It’s hard to fathom that an eight-year-old girl might be developing sexually, shouldn’t they be playing with toy ponies and think boys are icky—which we are—but apparently more and more young girls are starting puberty early. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it:
Physicians are seeing more and more girls with precocious sexual development, even before today’s average age of twelve, and medical studies confirm that the trend is real and getting worse. How early are our children developing today? At age eight, almost half black girls and 15 percent of white girls start developing breasts or pubic hair. At age nine, those numbers change to 77 percent of black girls and a third of white girls.1
This is an uncomfortable topic—even for a bull the china cabinet like me—but this is a serious matter and one that the medical community might be taking too lightly. Susan Brink of The Los Angeles Times investigates in Girl, You'll be a Woman Sooner Than Expected. Here’s an excerpt:
What's clear is that physical appearance is getting ahead of other aspects of girls' maturity. They might be perceived as far older than they are, even when they're still rummaging through their mothers' closets to clomp around in oversized high heels.


"My daughter started developing breasts maybe around age 8," says Rhonda Sykes of Inglewood. "She was still into her doll phase and dressing up to play." So Sykes began having frank mother-daughter conversations about curves and changing bodies a bit earlier than she expected.

"Whatever they look like, they know nothing," says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families. "Eight- and 9-year olds are learning to make change for a dollar. These are children who are learning the most fundamental facts in school. Imagine trying to teach that child the fundamentals of sex. They're not even playing Monopoly yet. They're still playing Candyland."

The medical community calls earlier puberty normal, the trend goes hand in hand with the obesity epidemic, and science has not yet pinpointed the reasons. And yet, when girls who are still children in the minds of their parents start developing breasts, many of their mothers remember that it happened later in their own lives -- and wonder why.
Brinks' report sites diet as a potential contributor to the problem of early puberty. She’s smart to do so. According to Dr. Fuhrman the standard American diet—which is responsible for all the obesity—is a major culprit. He explains:
Diet powerfully modulates estrogen levels. One recent study illustrated that eight-to-ten-year-olds, closely followed with dietary intervention for seven years, dramatically lowered their estrogen levels compared to a control group with dietary modification.2 Clearly, changing the diet of our children after the age of eight is not futile.
This graph might make things a little clearer for you. I scanned it—horribly—out of Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child. It compares sex hormone levels in individuals eating a Western diet and those consuming a more vegetable-based Asian diet. Take a look:


The concern with all these sex hormones centers on lifetime cancer risk. Dr. Fuhrman explains why, check it out:
Early puberty is strongly associated with breast cancer, and the occurrence of breast cancer is three times higher in women who started puberty before age twelve.3
Also, studies have revealed the effects of different varieties of foods on puberty and cancer risk. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Cohort studies, which follow two groups of children over time, have shown that the higher consumption of produce and protein-rich plant foods such as beans and nuts is associated with a later menarche, and the higher consumption of protein-rich animal foods—meat and diary—is associated with an earlier menarche and increased occurrence of adult breast cancer.4
As far as DiseaseProof goes, this is a common conclusion. The advantages of a vegetable-based nutritarian diet are profound. Dr. Fuhrman is stresses this in his new Food Scoring Guide. Here’s a quote:
Increasing your consumption of high-nutrient fruits and vegetables is the key to disease resistance, disease reversal, and a long, healthy life. The potential reduction in disease rates shows no threshold effect in the scientific studies. That means that as high-nutrient vegetables and high-nutrient fruits increase as a major portion of caloric intake, disease rates fall in a dose-dependent manner—the more the diet is comprised of these foods, the better your health will be.5
Granted, the problem is serious and apparently growing, but the good news is there is a solution, maybe the real problem is getting everyone on board.
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Fresh Popped Lung Disease

In early September ParentDish blogged about the growing concern over the safety of the butter flavoring used in microwave and movie theater popcorn. Here’s a refresher:
A pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center thinks exposure to the fumes from microwave butter popcorn might be the cause of lung disease in one of her patients. She sent a letter to several federal agencies expressing her concerns. "We cannot be sure that this patient's exposure to butter flavored microwave popcorn from daily heavy preparation has caused his lung disease," said Dr. Cecile Rose. "However, we have no other plausible explanation."


Apparently the patient, a unidentified man, consumed "several bags of extra butter flavored microwave popcorn" every day for several years. The ailing patient's condition improved when he stopped making the popcorn.

This may sound far-fetched, but it's not. So-called "popcorn lung" is a real disease that has resulted in lawsuits by workers in food factories who were exposed to diacetyl, a chemical used to create that buttery flavor.
Popcorn lung? Are food-producers REALLY risking the health of their workers and customers for fake butter? The answer is yes. Why else would we have warnings like this? Take a look:


The dangers are real. I searched diacetyl in Wikipedia and here are some of the dangers that came up, for both workers and consumers—scary stuff—check it out:
Workers in several factories that manufacture artificial butter flavoring have been diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare and serious disease of the lungs. The cases found have been mainly in young, healthy, non-smoking males. There are no known cures for bronchiolitis obliterans except for lung transplantation.


While several authorities have called the disease "Popcorn Worker's Lung," a more accurate term suggested by other doctors may be more appropriate, since the disease can occur in any industry working with diacetyl: diacetyl-induced bronchiolitis obliterans…

…Dr. Cecile Rose, pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center, in a letter, warned federal agencies or regulators that consumers, not just factory workers, are in danger of suffering the fatal popcorn lung disease from buttery flavoring fumes in microwave popcorn. David Michaels of the George Washington University School of Public Health first published Rose's letter on his blog. However, the only sample data known-to-date is the case where a consumer, who ate at least two bags of buttery microwave popcorn daily for 10 years, became diagnosed with the same disease affecting workers exposed to the substance, bronchiolitis obliterans. His lung problems were linked to breathing the vapors; although rare, the reported man's kitchen also had diacetyl levels comparable to those in popcorn plants.
Of course it’s always easier to relate to something when you attach a face to it. Meet Eric Peoples, a victim of Popcorn Lung. Here he is testifying in front of U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Subcommittee on Workforce Protections:


Unfortunatley for Eric, his story will not have a happy ending. According to Wikipedia the long-term prognosis for bronchiolitis obliterans is poor. Read on:
This disease is irreversible and severe cases often require a lung transplant. Evaluation of interventions to prevent bronchiolitis obliterans relies on early detection of abnormal spirometry results or unusual decreases in repeated measurements.
The whole diacetyl-popcorn lung situation spun Dr. Fuhrman into quite a tizzy. He emailed me his thoughts the other day and he didn’t pull a single punch. Have a look:
Diacetyl should be banned since we know it causes this irreversible and potentially deadly disease, but for some reason this poison is still allowed to be used on popcorn. Even breathing the fumes of the fake buttery flavor they put on the popcorn could damage a person's lungs, especially if you work behind the counter and serve it to people. We likely only know the tip of the iceberg about diacetyl poisoning.
When faced with all this information, I can’t imagine anyone coming to the defense of diacetyl. David Michaels of George Washington University certainly isn’t. He drops this great quote in The Washington Post. Enjoy:
"They're finding it there because they're looking there," said David Michaels of the department of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University. Michaels, assistant secretary of energy in the Clinton administration, accuses OSHA of "regulatory paralysis."


"It's not some carcinogen where you get cancer 30 years from now or something. The people are dying right in front of you," Michaels said. "You can't wait until you have all the evidence. You have to regulate it."
No doubt, a lot of experts are up in arms over diacetyl and bronchiolitis obliterans, but, will anything be done about it? The Angry Toxicologist doesn’t think so. Check it out:
Nothing will be done unless it’s regulated strongly, even by good companies and here’s why: Let say Bob’s Flavor Inc. wants to do the right thing and use an alternative flavoring that won’t hurt his workers. Bob knows, however, that this will drive up his prices and he’ll be driven out of the market by someone willing to do the wrong thing for a competitive advantage. Everyone is tied to the lowest cost operation, so the only way to make it safe for Bob to do the right thing is to level the playing field so that everyone has to do the right thing.
Okay, here’s my question. Is microwave and movie theater popcorn THAT precious? Stop eating it all together, and then, you’ll send one HELL of a message to rogue food producers and fat-cat cost-cutting businessmen—don’t you think!

PCRM Bashes Grilled Chicken

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) wants people to know, that grilled chicken sandwich you’re eating, is full of dangerous carcinogens. More from Reuters reporter Gina Keating:
If it seems consumers have nowhere to turn in choosing a healthy chicken entree, that's exactly the point, said Dan Kinburn, attorney for the Physicians Committee.


"Every day when a parent ... cooks chicken at home for their children they are trying to be health conscious," Kinburn said. "We think if people knew there were carcinogens in grilled chicken they would not choose it as a healthy alternative…"

…The chemical PhIP, which forms when meat -- and especially chicken -- is cooked at high temperatures, is on that list.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, would require the restaurants named as defendants to place "clear and reasonable warnings" about the carcinogen PhIP and would fine them $2,500 a day for each infraction.
Hey, people do have the right to choose, but they should be given ALL the facts. Actually, grilled chicken is loaded with bad news. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are even more concentrated in grilled chicken than in beef.1 Another recent study from New Zealand that investigated heterocyclic amines in meat, fish, and chicken found the greatest contributor of HCAs to cancer risk was chicken.2
I remember when I used to eat grilled chicken and pasta, and, I had the stones to think I was doing my health a favor—EEK!
Continue Reading...

Aetiology on Antibiotic Resistance

Over at Aetiology, Tara C. Smith shares her opinions on a recent study about antibiotic resistance. Here’s a bit:
The current paradigm for antibiotic use is to prescribe relatively high doses of drugs for a few days to a few weeks (or months, in the case of tuberculosis), and patients are cautioned to stay on them until all the doses are finished. However, the new study RPM describes suggests this may be doing more harm than good, looking at what happens with Plasmodium species treated with antimalarials in a mouse model…


…This study doesn't take those into account, which is a limitation--but then again, it seems designed to be more of a paper to get fellow scientists thinking about these ideas in general, rather than an exhaustive test of every potential hypothesis stemming from them.

Either way, antibiotic resistance is certainly a huge problem, and we need to find better ways to preserve the drugs we do have. Reducing their use in this manner (lower and shorter doses) is certainly worth a second look.
For more on the antibiotic issue, check out this post: Antibiotics, Sinus Infections, Placebos, Oh My!

HealthDay News: The Imported Food Alarm, part 2

If you didn’t see it yesterday, HealthDay News has kicked off a three part series on food safety. Here’s the second installment, its about imported foods. E.J.Mundell reports:
According to a FDA report released in 2003, pesticide violations were cited in 6.1 percent of imported foods sampled versus 2.4 percent of domestic products. And a report issued by the agency a few years earlier found traces of salmonella or the dysentery-linked bacteria shigella in 4 percent of imported fruits and vegetables versus 1.1 percent of domestic produce.


And there's more imported food in the nation's supermarkets than ever before. According to the CDC, food imports to the United States have almost doubled in the past decade, from $36 billion in 1997 to more than $70 billion in 2007.

Trouble is, inspections by the FDA -- either at the source of production or at the borders -- can't keep up. The agency is responsible for inspecting all imported foods with the exception of meat and egg products, which are covered by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Overall, "there's been an 81 percent drop [in FDA inspections] since 1972," noted Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, in Griffin. "That's a huge reduction, and, at the same time, compared to 1972, we have a huge amount more of food imports."

In fact, the FDA's own data show that the number of inspectors at its Office of Regulatory Affairs dropped from 1,642 in 2003 to 1,389 in 2005 -- even as food imports rose from 9.3 million shipments per year to more than 13.8 million shipments annually.

The reason for the shortfall is simple, Doyle said: "Reduced budgets."
Oh! And here is the first part: U.S. Food Problems, part 1. Kudos to HealthDay News!

Zetia...Failed

No surprise here. A recent clinical trial has determined that the cholesterol drug Zetia failed to show any medical benefits. Alex Berenson of The New York Times reports:
The results will add to the growing concern over Zetia and Vytorin, a drug that combines Zetia with another cholesterol medicine in a single pill. About 70 percent of patients who take Zetia do so in the form of Vytorin, which combines Zetia with the cholesterol drug Zocor.


While Zetia lowers cholesterol by 15 to 20 percent in most patients, no trial has ever shown that it can reduce heart attacks and strokes — or even that it reduces the growth of the fatty plaques in arteries that can cause heart problems.

This trial was designed to show that Zetia could reduce the growth of those plaques. Instead, the plaques actually grew somewhat faster in patients taking Zetia along with Zocor than in those taking Zocor alone. Patients in the trial who took the combination of Zetia and Zocor were receiving it in the form of Vytorin pills.

Dr. Steven Nissen, the chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said the results were “shocking.” Patients should not be prescribed Zetia unless all other cholesterol drugs have failed, he said.
You guessed it! Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of taking needless magic pills. Here he talks about something all physicians should remember. Take a look:
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 not undo the damage or remove the disease.
I’m curious. How do drug-makers market around this debacle? That’s the real magic!

Alzheimer's: Lead Can Make You Coo-Coo

New research has determined that lead’s toxic effects may up the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Andy Coghlan of the NewScientist is on it:
Monkeys exposed to the heavy metal during infancy may be predisposed to develop the equivalent of Alzheimer's disease.


"We're not saying that lead exposure causes Alzheimer's disease, but it's a risk factor," says Nasser Zawia of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, whose team discovered the link.

Zawia's team fed baby monkeys infant formula milk laced with low levels of lead, then followed their progress until the age of 23. While the adult monkeys did not show symptoms of Alzheimer's per se, post-mortem analyses of their brains showed that the lead-fed monkeys had plaques and other abnormalities identical to those found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.
Lead’s been in the news a lot lately. Here are some recent posts:

Smoking: U.S. Not Butting Out Enough

Apparently the United States is coming up short in anti-smoking efforts. Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:
The U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush have stymied efforts to tighten regulation of tobacco and discourage smoking and states have not spent nearly enough to battle cigarettes, the American Lung Association said on Thursday.


The group implied that heavy lobbying and spending by tobacco companies was influencing at least some politicians and urged Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate cigarettes.

"While many states have failed to make meaningful progress at protecting their most vulnerable citizens, the tobacco companies are spending billions of dollars annually marketing their deadly products," the report reads.

"A report issued by Common Cause and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund found that the tobacco industry made almost $3 million in Political Action Committee contributions to federal candidates during the 2005-2006 election cycle, including more than $1.7 million in contributions directly to federal candidates," it adds.
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Antibiotics, Sinus Infections, Placebos, Oh My!

“Hey doc! I got an ear infection and my sinuses hurt. Give me some antibiotics,” said Joe public. Now, the sadly reality is that this isn’t too far from the truth. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Many patients don't think a doctor is doing his job if he doesn't prescribe antibiotics or other medication. If he doesn't prescribe the medication they want, some patients actually will look for another doctor who will.
If I was a doctor, this little scenario would—quite frankly—piss me off, but, since big pharma has made most Americas pill-starved hypochondriacs, what can you except? More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors.


Most doctors perpetuate this problem because they give in to the pressure to prescribe antibiotics. They like to appear that they are offering an important and necessary service by writing prescriptions.
The scary part is, any self-respecting doctor will tell you antibiotics are useful, but, our overuse of antibiotics is making them less and less effective. Here Dr. Fuhrman talks about when antibiotics should be used:
Antibiotics are the appropriate treatment for severe bacterial infections. These infections include cellulitis, Lyme disease, pneumonia, joint infections, cat bites, meningitis, and bronchitis in a long-term smoker. Bronchitis in a non-smoker is just a bad cold. Almost every viral syndrome involves the bronchial tree and sinuses. The presence of yellow, brown, or green mucus does not indicate the need for an antibiotic.
So, with all this being said. What about sinus infections? Should physicians treat sinus infections with antibiotics? This blurb from Dr. Fuhrman will clear things up—no pun intended—take a look:
Sinusitis is not an appropriate diagnosis for the routine use of an antibiotic. Antibiotics should be reserved for the more serious sinus infections that show evidence of persistent symptoms lasting more than a week, such as continual fever and headache that accompanies facial pain and facial tenderness.
And let’s not forget, recent research already has determined that prescribing antibiotics is not always a good idea when treating sinus infections. The Associated Press reported:
The researchers say the findings are troubling because overuse of antibiotics is leading to more virulent and even drug-resistent bacteria. Their concerns echo those of doctors who've studied the effectiveness of antibiotics on ear infections.


"We don't want to be using up our antibiotics on these people," said Dr. Don Leopold, chair of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Department of Otolaryngology who worked on the sinus study.

The study, which appears in the March issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology, looked at two national surveys of patient data from 1999 to 2002. They showed 14.28 million doctor visits were for diagnosed chronic rhinosinusitis and another 3.12 million for acute rhinosinusitis.
Let’s explore this more deeply. Remember this report from HealthDay News? Apparently many pneumonia patients receive antibiotics when they don’t really need them. Take a look:
The study, conducted in 2005, followed a group of 152 emergency room patients who met eligibility criteria for receiving antibiotics. Of this group, 65.1 percent received antibiotics within four hours of arriving at the hospital. The remaining 34.9 percent were identified as "outliers," and more than half (58.5 percent) of the outliers did not have a final diagnosis of pneumonia. And 43 percent of the outliers had an abnormal chest X-ray, compared with 95 percent of those who received antibiotics…


…"It was not possible in many of the cases to actually have given them antibiotics because a lot of them didn't actually have pneumonia or got a diagnosis later," said Dr. Jesse Pines, author of an accompany editorial in the journal, and an attending physician in the department of emergency medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He supports the study findings.
Okay, but back to sinus infections. Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times conducts a brief and blunt mini-investigation of the claim that antibiotics will beat a sinus infection. Here’s a bit:
For years, doctors have prescribed what seemed like simple cures: a prescription for an antibiotic like amoxicillin or a steroid nasal spray. They may be the standard medications, but perhaps they are not as effective as once thought. Several studies have examined their effects and found that they are no better at shortening a sinus infection than no medication at all.


The latest study, published in December in The Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 240 cases. The subjects were assigned to four groups for different treatments: a full amoxicillin course for a week along with 400 units of steroid spray for 10 days, just the spray, just the amoxicillin or just a placebo. The treatments were no better than placebo, a finding shown in studies of children. The reason is not entirely clear, but researchers suspect that antibiotics may not be very good at reaching the sinuses. Experts recommend other approaches like taking ibuprofen, inhaling steam or using salt water to flush the nasal cavity.
Makes sense to me, but in our quick-fix culture, I doubt it’ll catch on. Maybe if people were more in tune with the consequences of taking unnecessary antibiotics, they’d be more cautious. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in Disease-Proof Your Child:
In every single person who takes an antibiotic, the drug kills a broad assortment of helpful bacteria that live in the digestive tract and aid digestion. It kills the “bad” bacteria, such as those that can complicate and infection, but it also kills these helpful “good” bacteria lining your digestive tract that have properties that protect from future illness.
This topic comes up a lot and people always seem concerned, but, like anything else, we probably won’t do anything about it until pandemonium is at our doorstep.

Health Points: Wednesday

To get an extra 14 years of life, don't smoke, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and drink alcohol in moderation.

That's the finding of a study that tracked about 20,000 people in the United Kingdom.

Kay-Tee Khaw of the University of Cambridge and colleagues calculated that people who adopted these four healthy habits lived an average of 14 years longer than those who didn't.

"We've known for a long time that these behaviors are good things to do, but we've never seen these additive benefits before," said Susan Jebb, head of Nutrition and Health at Britain's Medical Research Council, which helped pay for the study.
Those Type A go-getters aren't the only ones stressing their hearts. Nervous Nelsons seem to be, too. Researchers reported Monday that chronic anxiety can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack, at least in men. The findings add another trait to a growing list of psychological profiles linked to heart disease, including anger or hostility, Type A behavior, and depression.


"There's a connection between the heart and head," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg of the New York University School of Medicine, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association who wasn't involved in the study.

"This is very important research because we really are focused very much on prescribing medicine for cholesterol and lowering blood pressure and treating diabetes, but we don't look at the psychological aspect of a patient's care," she added. Doctors "need to be aggressive about not only taking care of the traditional risk factors ... but also really getting into their patients' heads."
Low levels of vitamin D, a chronic problem for many people in northern latitudes areas such as Wisconsin and Washington, were associated with substantially higher rates of heart disease and stroke, according to a new study.
In one of the strongest studies to date linking the vitamin to cardiovascular disease, researchers followed 1,739 members of the Framingham Offspring Study for more than five years.


They found the rate of cardiovascular disease events such as heart attacks, strokes and heart failure were from 53 percent to 80 percent higher in people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood.

"This is a stunning study," said John Whitcomb, medical director of the Aurora Sinai Wellness Institute in Milwaukee. He was not involved in the study.
Young people who start smoking may be influenced to do so by movies they saw in early childhood, new research suggests.


What's more, the study found that almost 80 percent of the exposure to smoking scenes in movies came through films rated "G," "PG" and "PG-13."

"Movies seen at the youngest ages had as much influence over later smoking behavior as the movies that children had seen recently," said study author Linda Titus-Ernstoff, a pediatrics professor at Dartmouth Medical School.

"And I'm increasingly convinced that this association between movie-smoking exposure and smoking initiation is real," she added. "That's to say, causal. It is quite improbable that the association we see is due to some other influence, some other characteristic inherent in children or parental behavior. The relationship is clearly between movie-smoking and smoking initiation."
France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday.


If the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year, according to researchers writing in the journal Health Affairs.

Researchers Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tracked deaths that they deemed could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care, and ranked nations on how they did.

They called such deaths an important way to gauge the performance of a country's health care system.
China defended its fish farming industry on Tuesday and said it was making progress in curbing use of illegal additives, from pesticides to banned steroids, as the country's food safety record remains in the spotlight.


China has suffered a rash of scares over the safety of its food and manufactured products in the last year which highlighted shoddy oversight and prompted a wave of new regulations and clean-up campaigns from the central government.

Vice Minister of Agriculture Gao Hongbin said the country had made encouraging progress.
Those who perceived they had low subjective social status had a 69% increased odds of having a 2-unit increase in BMI (this is around 11 pound weight increase).


The results were adjusted for a large number of factors including age, race/ethnicity, baseline BMI, diet, television viewing, depression, global and social self-esteem, menarche, height growth, mother's BMI, and pretax household income.

The study highlights yet another piece in the very complex obesity puzzle.
A 2004 study in the journal Science raised concern among fish lovers with news that farm-raised salmon, the type found at most supermarkets, contained higher levels of cancer-causing pcbs than wild salmon. (Banned in the 1970s, PCBs still contaminate the environment. They are released by incinerators and toxic waste sites.) But two more recent studies, one on farm-raised salmon and the other on wild, found that both harbor similar levels of this pollutant. The first study, done with Chilean- and Canadian-farmed salmon, found an average of 11.5 parts per billion PCBs. The second, conducted by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, sampled 600 wild salmon from the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, and found 8.2 to 10 parts per billion PCBs. It's important to realize that the amount of PCBs being talked about is very small, says Cornell University seafood specialist Ken Gall, who has studied fish safety issues for 22 years. "High doses of PCBs, like the kind of contamination that occurs with an industrial accident, can be dangerous," Gall says. "But it's uncertain whether the tiny amounts of PCBs found in many foods such as fish, meat, or milk can cause cancer."

Traffic Bad for Babies

Traffic might be the single most annoying thing in the world—next to telemarketers of course—but the fumes from traffic are especially bad for babies’ brains. The NewScientist reports:
When Shakira Franco Suglia at Harvard University and her colleagues studied 200 children in nearby Boston they found that scores on verbal reasoning, visual learning and other tests were lower in those exposed to more traffic fumes. The IQ of children from areas of the city with above-average pollution levels was 3 points below those in cleaner areas, even after controlling for socio-economic factors (American Journal of Epidemiology, DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwm308).


That puts the impact of soot on a par with lead and other toxic substances that damage brain development, says Franco Suglia.
That’s it, I’m buying a rickshaw!

A Smoke Might Make You Choke

Okay guys, this might be the best reason of all to quit smoking. New research has determined that men who smoke are prone to impotence. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News is on it:
In fact, emerging research shows that men with a pack-a-day habit are almost 40 percent more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction than men who don't smoke.


"Smoking delivers nicotine and other vasoconstrictors that close down the blood vessels" of the penis, explained Dr. Jack Mydlo, chairman of urology at Temple University School of Medicine and Hospital in Philadelphia.

Erectile dysfunction -- also called "ED" or impotence -- is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection on repeated occasions. It's estimated that about two of every 100 American men have erectile dysfunction serious enough to warrant a doctor's visit, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. As men age, the risk of erectile dysfunction increases.

A recent study of more than 8,000 Australian men between the ages of 16 and 59 found that those who smoked less than a pack a day had a 24 percent increased risk of erectile problems. And, as the number of cigarettes smoked went up, so, too, did the chances of erectile dysfunction. Those men who averaged more than 20 cigarettes a day increased their risk of erectile dysfunction by 39 percent, reported the study, published in the journal Tobacco Control.
Eek! And smoking isn’t the only thing that’ll knock you out of whack. Thank your mom for not eating beef while she was pregnant with you. From Beef Bad for the Boys:
"In sons of 'high beef consumers' (more than seven beef meals a week), sperm concentration was 24.3 percent lower," the researchers wrote in their report, published in the journal Human Reproduction.


The team at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York studied data on the partners of 387 pregnant women in five U.S. cities between 2000 and 2005, and on the mothers of the fathers-to-be.

Of the 51 men whose mothers remembered eating the most beef, 18 percent had sperm counts classified by the World Health Organization as sub-fertile.
Okay, I need to watch some football—STAT!

Pesticides, Asthma, and Farm Women

New research suggests that women on farms who come in contact with some pesticides have a greater risk of developing allergic asthma. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports:
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, non-allergic asthma is caused by factors not related to allergies. But allergic asthma -- the most common form of asthma, affecting more than 50 percent of the 20 million asthma sufferers in the United States -- is characterized by symptoms that are triggered by an allergic reaction. Some typical triggers for allergic asthma include dust mites, pet dander, pollen and mold.


Experts already knew that growing up on a farm minimizes the risk of allergic disease, that pesticides have been associated with respiratory symptoms in farmers, and that farmers are at increased risk for respiratory diseases -- including asthma -- due to exposure to grains, animals, dust and other factors.

Little research, however, has delved into respiratory risk factors for farm women.

Hoppin and her colleagues examined data on 25,814 such women in North Carolina and in Iowa who are participating in the Agricultural Health Study, a large government-funded look at the effects of environmental, occupational and other factors on the health of the agricultural population.

Secondhand Smoke-Allergy Risk

New research suggests that young children who have been exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of developing allergies. Reuters is on it:
Experts have known that exposure to secondhand smoke either prenatally or early in life can raise a child's risk of developing asthma symptoms. But the evidence regarding allergies in general has been mixed.


In the new study, Swedish researchers found that 4-year-olds who had been exposed to parents' smoking during early infancy were at greater risk of allergies to indoor allergens like dust mites and cat dander. They were also at greater risk of food allergies.

It's possible that secondhand smoke triggers inflammation in the lining of young children's airways, which may sensitize them to allergy-triggering substances, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Eva Lannero of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Pondering Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate is a compound found in many plastic water bottles. Never heard of it? Well, it’s quickly gaining the reputation of a nasty little hormone mimicker. Ben Dobbin of the Associated Press has more:
Worries about a hormone-mimicking chemical used in the trendy sports accessory led a major Canadian retailer to remove Nalgene and other polycarbonate plastic containers from store shelves in early December.


"It's definitely a concern but I'd like to learn more before I make any decisions about my water bottles," McHugh, 26, a business manager for a reggae band, said with an easy laugh. "For now, I'll probably keep using my Nalgene until it breaks. It's indestructible, I've heard…"

…There is little dispute that the chemical can disrupt the hormonal system, but scientists differ markedly on whether very low doses found in food and beverage containers can be harmful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sides with the plastics industry that BPA-based products do not pose a health risk.

However, an expert panel of researchers reported at a U.S. government conference that the potential for BPA to affect human health is a concern, and more research is needed. The panel cited evidence that Americans have levels of BPA higher than those found to cause harm in lab animals.
Now, toxic water bottles are a bigger issue than you might realize. Just get a load of these previous posts:
Kind of scary.

Safe Toys for the Holidays

Whether your holiday is over or you’re getting ready celebrate it, buying safe toys is important, especially in light of all the recent toxin-scares. Dennis Thompson of HealthDay News has more:
Holiday toys are supposed to surprise and delight. But this year, toys are threatening to cause more worry than joy.


Millions of toys made in China have been recalled in recent months by toy companies, many because they were decorated with lead paint. The recalls involve popular brands, including Hot Wheels, Barbie, and Thomas the Tank Engine, among others…

…Prevent Blindness America offers these other suggestions:

Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
  • Avoid toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods or dangerous edges.
  • Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
  • Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off…
…Finally, parents should avoid buying one of the most common -- yet one of the most dangerous -- items on the toy market: latex balloons. Balloons and pieces of broken balloons can block a child's airway and should never be given to children younger than 8.

Soda Surcharge, Will it Work?

San Francisco’s mayor wants to charge stores a fee for selling soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Jesse McKinley of The New York Times reports:
In a move he says is necessary to trim the city’s waistline, the decidedly slim mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, has proposed charging big stores a fee when they sell sugar-sweet soda.


The proposal, which was reported by The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, would put an as yet-to-be-defined surcharge on all drinks with high-fructose corn syrup, which puts the sweet pop in most nondiet sodas and many other food products. The syrup also puts on the pounds, something city officials say strains the health care system…

…Mr. Keane said that if Mr. Newsom really wanted to fight the fat, he would take on computer and video game companies, which Kevin Keane, a senior vice president of the American Beverage Association, said lured children inside when they should “be outside burning calories.”

Mr. Newsom, a Diet Coke man who exercises regularly, already earned the ire of beverage companies with a ban this year on bottled water at City Hall, where staff members now drink filtered and cooled tap water. The soda proposal will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors early next year, Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for the mayor, said, and would affect only large retailers, not mom-and-pop stores. As for levies on other child-friendly delicacies, Mr. Ballard added, “The mayor has no intention of imposing a fee on pizza.”
Let’s start with the easy issue first. You don’t have to be a medical expert to know high-fructose corny syrup (HFCS) is a scourge. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Disease-Proof Your Child:
Obesity rates have risen in tandem with soda consumption in the United States, and in the last twenty years the consumption of soft drinks by teenagers had doubled.1 Twelve to nineteen-year-old boys consume thirty-four teaspoons of sugar a day in their diet, and about half of that comes from soft drinks. Children start drinking soft drinks at a very young age, and advertisements and promotions by the soft drink manufacturers are aggressively marketed to the young.
The claim that obesity numbers parallel the rate of soft drink-consumption certainly bolsters Mayor Newsom’s proposal. With that being said, this chart is a must read:



Source: Data from the National Soft Drink Association, Beverage World,
published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (www.cspinet.org).

Now, the heart of the matter is will this additional fee dissuade customers from buying soft drinks; logic would tell you that if retailers are paying a surcharge they will no doubt pass the cost onto consumers—sounds similar to cigarette taxes. Check this out from Tobacco Free Kids:
Studies, and experience in state after state, show that higher cigarette taxes are one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking among both youth and adults. Every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes will reduce youth smoking by about seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by about four percent.
We all know the proof is in the pudding. Feast your eyes on this chart. It’s certainly in the same vein as the obesity-soda consumption chart above. Take a look:


This surcharge doesn’t sound like an unfair proposition, especially when you apply the cigarette-tax-logic, which most people seem to agree with. Now, Water for Life USA Blog provides other reasons why soda is bad, here’s three:
pH of Soda = pH of Vinegar
For one, soda, no matter who makes it, is the most acidic beverage you can buy, with a pH of about 2.5, about the same as vinegar. Why does that matter? Acid oxidizes whatever it comes in contact with. If you put soda or vinegar on metal, it will rust it quickly.


Drink Soda, Leach Calcium
If you drink soda, which also contains high levels of phosphorous, you will leach calcium from your bones. Dr. Michael Murray from the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine concluded, “It appears that increased soft drink consumption is a major factor that contributes to osteoporosis.” Furthermore, Dr. Elson Haas, author of The Detox Diet states, “Tooth loss, periodontal disease, and gingivitis can be problems, especially with a high phosphorus intake, particularly from soft drinks.”

Soda Will Dissolve your Tooth Enamel
Weak bones is just the beginning. According to Dr. James Howenstein. author of A Physician’s Guide to Natural Health Products That Work, the high sugar content of soda is awful. He states, “”In an interesting experiment the sugar from one soft drink was able to damage the white blood cells’ ability to ingest and kill bacteria for seven hours.” Dr. Marion Nestle from his book Food Politics states, “Sugar and acid in soft drinks so easily dissolve tooth enamel.”
And just like soda, cigarettes also pose dangers outside of the most salient, that being cancer. About.com breaks down a list of other smoking hazards. A few of note:
  • Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing affected cells from carrying a full load of oxygen.
  • The carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene binds to cells in the airways and major organs of smokers.
  • The body produces antioxidants to help repair damaged cells.
  • Smokers have lower levels of antioxidants in their blood than do nonsmokers.
Clearly, it’s pretty hard to classify soda as less harmless than cigarettes. So, if a tax helps reduce the number of smokers, then why not impose a penalty fee on soft drinks. All indications seem to favor its success. And after all, the cigarette companies are still making millions.
Continue Reading...

Christmas Lights...with Lead

No matter what holiday you celebrate. If you’re putting lights up around your house, you might want to read this report. Apparently some Christmas lights contain lead. More from CNN:
CNN's "American Morning" purchased samples of four common brands of Christmas lights and asked an independent New Jersey-based testing organization, Quantex Laboratories, to check for surface lead. Quantex analyzed three strings of lights from each brand.


The lab followed the Consumer Product Safety Commission's standard wipe test for lead in polyvinyl chloride products, including mini blinds and toys, to see how much lead in the cords' PVC coating would come off on someone's hands.

"You don't realize there's lead in it, you eat a cookie, you eat something without washing your hands, that exposure builds up in your body over time," said Dr. James Menoutis, who runs the lab at Quantex.

In the four brands of lights tested, Quantex found surface lead levels far exceeding the CPSC's recommended children's limit of 15 micrograms.

Wal-Mart brand lights had the highest levels of surface lead, with levels ranging from 86.6 to 132.7 micrograms. GE lights showed surface lead levels from 68 to 109.1 micrograms. Sylvania had surface lead levels from 59 to 70.3 micrograms. Levels of surface lead in the lights made by Philips ranged from a low of 3.2 -- well under the 15 microgram limit -- to 107.2 in another sample.
Quite the toxic world we live in—scary.

Minnesota Minuses Makeup Mercury

Minnesota has banned retailers from selling cosmetics that contain “intentionally added” mercury. Retailers in violation of the ban would suffer hefty penalties. The Associate Press reports:
Minnesota apparently is the first state in the nation to ban intentionally added mercury in cosmetics, giving it a tougher standard than the federal government.


Retailers who knowingly sell mercury-containing cosmetics in Minnesota could face fines of as much as $700. Penalties could reach $10,000 for manufacturers who fail to disclose mercury on product labels, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

"Mercury does cause neurological damage to people even in tiny quantities," said Sen. John Marty, the Democrat from Roseville who sponsored the ban. "Every source of mercury adds to it. We wanted to make sure it wasn't here."
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Bad News for Toxins

Will Dunham of Reuters reports, smoking increases your risk of developing diabetes. Here’s more:
Here's another reason to throw away the cigarettes: Smoking, already known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, also raises one's risk for the most common form of diabetes, researchers said on Tuesday.


Smokers faced a 44 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to nonsmokers, the Swiss researchers found.

Dr. Carole Willi of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and colleagues analyzed 25 studies exploring the connection between smoking and diabetes published between 1992 and 2006, with a total of 1.2 million participants tracked for up to 30 years.
High ozone levels seem to explain why some residents of Sydney Australia had sudden cardiac events. Reuters reports:
A sudden spate of urgent cardiovascular syndromes resulting in severe chest pain that required emergency department visits among residents of Sydney, Australia, in 2005 has been traced to high solar radiance and ozone levels.


Surveillance data indicated an increase in urgent visits to city hospitals by individuals with chest pain assessed as "imminently or immediately life-threatening on arrival" in April and May 2005, Dr. Robin M. Turner of New South Wales Department of Health in North Sydney and colleagues report in the journal Environmental Health.

Emergency department visits increased from 4.0 per day in 2004 to 5.7 per day for the 8 weeks of April and May 2005.

Rocket Fuel in Breast Milk!

HealthDay News reports that a chemical used in explosives and rocket fuel is showing up in human breast milk—scary. More form Carolyn Colwell:
Scientists have discovered the mechanism by which a chemical known as perchlorate can collect in breast milk and cause cognitive and motor deficits in newborns.


Used since the 1940s to manufacture explosives and rocket fuel, the contaminant is still widely present in the water and food supply, experts say.

And high concentrations of perchlorate in breast milk can be passed to an infant and affect it's ability to manufacture essential thyroid hormone, the new study suggests. Perchlorate can also lessen the amount of iodide available to a mother to pass on to her infant, and a baby needs iodide to produce thyroid hormones.

"The deficit of thyroid hormone is particularly delicate if it's at the beginning of life because the central nervous system has not completely matured," said study author Dr. Nancy Carrasco, a professor of molecular pharmacology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City.

Water Bottle Blues

Wow! You might want to think twice before you drink water out of a plastic bottle. Julie’s Health Club rounds up the BPA situation. Here’s a bit:
It's true that BPA is in all of us and that very low doses have been shown to affect animals. If it is shown to be hazardous to humans, we're out of luck; fixing our toothless chemical regulatory system will be a Herculean task. The U.S. produces more than 6 billion pounds of the chemical every year…


… About 80 percent of academically and government-funded research found that bisphenol A is harmful in laboratory animals. Most of the industry-funded studies found there was no harm.
For awhile I didn’t know much about BPA. Which is more than evident in this comment-discussion in this previous post, from Bottled--TAP—Water:
Teresa: Oops! The word is "don't reuse those bottles". Guess there's some danger of leaching of bad plastic from those if reused. As my son the chemist told me, "Get yourself one of those bottles especially made for holding water while hiking". It's also better for the environment."Water-mining" is lowering the water table in some areas changing natural water supply. Plastic bottles, even if recycled aren't exactly eco-friendly.


Me: Wow Teresa! I didn't know that...Hmm... What to do with all those bottles now...I know...I'll make a raft for my hamster...oh wait...I don't have a hamster.
I still don’t have a hamster, but, I ditched the plastic bottles.
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More and More Dangerous Toys

Given the season, this is hardly encouraging. A report in The Wall Street Journal explains that A LOT of toys are getting low marks for mercury, lead, and other chemical contaminations. Reuters has more:

The study also showed that jewelry products were most likely to contain high lead levels, and it uncovered a variety of tainted items, including bedroom slippers, bath toys and card-game cases, according to the Journal.


Certain toys had more than five times the standard safety level, including a Hannah Montana card-game case, which had a lead level of 3,056 parts per million, the Journal said.

Millions of toys have been recalled this year, with most involving Chinese-made products.

Buying Safe Toys

With the Holidays barreling down on us and all the news of toxic toys kicking around, CNN offers up some tips for buying safe playthings. Check out this video:


I was totally the kid sticking his head under the shelf.
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Poop Problems

No doubt most Americans take good plumbing for granted. Think about it, how much would your life stink without it? Pardon the pun, but in all seriousness a working toilet is quite the lifesaver. In fact, lack of toilets can be fatal. Reuters reports:
Lack of proper toilet facilities and sanitation kills almost two million people a year, most of them children, the World Toilet Association said at its first meeting on Thursday.


"It is regrettable that the matter of defecation is not given as much attention as food or housing," Sim Jae-duck, the association's South Korean head, told the meeting at its recently opened lavatory-shaped headquarters south of Seoul.

Sim, a lawmaker nicknamed "Mr. Toilet", said some 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to proper toilet facilities, with potentially fatal consequences.

About 1.8 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases that are mainly blamed on inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene, the World Health Organisation's regional director for the Western Pacific, Shigeru Omi, told the meeting.
I’ll keep this in mind the next time I’m suffering through the aroma of the New York Penn Station men’s room.
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Naples: No Smoking Near Pregnant Women

The Italian city of Naples has issued a ban against smoking near pregnant women and children in public parks. More from the AFP:
"We're not going to use a ruler to measure the distance between smokers and women or children," Deputy Mayor Gennaro Nasti told AFP.


"But it will be forbidden to smoke during open-air shows or under covered structures."
Hey, when the Deputy Mayor’s last name is Nasti, you better do what he says!

Carbon Wars: The Food Industry Strikes Back

Yesterday we learned Target wants to label meat treated with carbon monoxide. Now it seems the food industry has fired back in defense of using carbon monoxide. Christopher Doering of Reuters reports:
Two of the biggest U.S. meat processors on Tuesday defended a packaging technique designed to keep meat looking fresh at grocery stores even as U.S. lawmakers criticized it as unsafe and misleading.


Packers use carbon monoxide to stabilize the color of meat, but some Democrats said the process misleads consumers by making the products look safer than they really are, and puts the public at risk of eating spoiled meat.

Rep. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat and chairman of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, called the practice deceptive and "a potential health threat," and accused U.S. regulators of "turning a blind eye" toward health dangers.
All I can say is…



(graphic via Appraisal Scoop.com)
 

Target Targets Treated Meat

Target Corp wants to label meat treated with carbon monoxide. Reuters reports:
Target, which sells packaged meat in 210 of its 1,537 stores, sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking permission to add a warning to meat labels, the Journal said.


According to the Journal, the proposed label states: "Consumer Notice: Carbon monoxide has been used to preserve the color of this product. Do not rely on color or the 'use or freeze by' date alone to judge the freshness of the product. For best results please follow the Safe Handling Instructions."
They do some dubious stuff to meat, check is out: Cancer and Red Food Coloring.

Emission War: California vs. EPA

California is fed up with current clean-air regulations and they’re going to do something about it. Marc Lifsher of The Los Angeles Times reports:
California sued the federal government today, demanding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency act now to give the states the power to enforce tough regulations on automakers in the fight against global warming…


…The EPA has said it will act on the state's request by year's end, but today's move was a major assault on the federal government's perceived lack of action on what many national and world leaders consider the No. 1 threat to the planet…

…California and the other states -- representing about 40% of the U.S. population -- have asked for a waiver from the EPA under the Clean Air Act so they can enforce regulations that limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars and other light vehicles.
Can't beat clean air, I mean just look at what diesel exhaust can do to the heart. HealthDay News: Diesel Exhaust Increases Clot Formation.
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The Junk in Fast Food...

Diet Blog passes on a secret list. A secret list of potential toxins commonly food in fast food—I’m serious! Here’s a bit:
Taco Bell
The rice contains dimethylpolysiloxane - this is normally used in silicone caulk, adhesives, and as an anti-foaming agent.


Wendy's
The Low Fat Honey Mustard Dressing contains titanium dioxide - used to manufacture paint, sunscreen, semiconductors, and also in food coloring.
Now I really feel sorry for this poor kid. Take a look:


For more secret ingredients, check out NewsTarget.

Cellular Phones and Brain Tumors

Dr. Fuhrman sent this over the other day. This study claims cellular phones increase brain tumor risk. From the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine:
Aim: To evaluate brain tumour risk among long-term users of cellular telephones.


Methods: Two cohort studies and 16 case–control studies on this topic were identified. Data were scrutinised for use of mobile phone for >=10 years and ipsilateral exposure if presented.

Results: The cohort study was of limited value due to methodological shortcomings in the study. Of the 16 case–control studies, 11 gave results for >=10 years’ use or latency period. Most of these results were based on low numbers. An association with acoustic neuroma was found in four studies in the group with at least 10 years’ use of a mobile phone. No risk was found in one study, but the tumour size was significantly larger among users. Six studies gave results for malignant brain tumours in that latency group. All gave increased odd ratios (OR), especially for ipsilateral exposure. In a meta-analysis, ipsilateral cell phone use for acoustic neuroma was OR = 2.4 (95% CI 1.1 to 5.3) and OR = 2.0, (1.2 to 3.4) for glioma using a tumour latency period of >=10 years.

Conclusions: Results from present studies on use of mobile phones for >=10 years give a consistent pattern of increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma. The risk is highest for ipsilateral exposure.
That’s why I text!

Booming China, Booming Disease

Here’s some not-so good news from China. First from the AFP, the Western influence on Chinese diet is causing a spike in breast cancer cases. More from the report:
Increasing numbers of Chinese urban women are suffering from breast cancer due to unhealthy diets and a spike in work stress in the rapidly modernising country, state media said Tuesday.


Breast cancer is up 31 percent in the financial hub of Shanghai over the past decade, and 23 percent in the capital, Beijing, according to data from the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention cited by the China Daily.

"Unhealthy lifestyles are mostly to blame for the growing numbers," the paper quoted Qiao Youlin, a cancer researcher at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, as saying.
And now, it seems increased pollution is causing a lot more birth defects in China. Here’s another report from the AFP. Check it out:
The rate of defects appeared to increase near the country's countless coal mines, which produce the bulk of China's energy but are also responsible for serious air and water pollution, the China Daily newspaper said, quoting government officials.


Birth defects nationwide have increased from 104.9 per 10,000 births in 2001 to 145.5 last year, it said, citing a report by the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

They affect about one million of the 20 million babies born every year, with about 300,000 babies suffering from "visible deformities."
My hope is China learns from the mistakes of other heavily industrialized nations…like us!

Cleaning Facts

HealthDay News takes a look at some new facts surrounding the safety of certain cleaning products. Robert Preidt reports:
The Hard Surface Hygiene Fact Sheet outlines the safe, proper use of surface cleaning products and disinfectants. It describes surfaces where germs can linger and the types of products available for consumer and institutional use. It also provides brief summaries of common ingredients that make cleaning products effective and tips on safe and proper use, storage and disposal of products…


…"Our Hard Surface Hygiene Fact Sheet gives consumers, educators and public health professionals another information tool on products that help prevent the spread of germs that can make us sick," Nancy Bock, SDA's vice president of education, said in a prepared statement.
If you’re interested, visit the Soap and Detergent Association’s homepage. And for more on chemical hazards, check out DiseaseProof’s toxins category.
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Eating and Headaches

When I was a kid I used to get a lot of headaches—not sure why—but ever since I upgraded my diet I NEVER get them anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had one. I wonder why? Here’s Dr. Fuhrman on the subject:
The major cause of both tension headaches and migraines is the retention of toxins or tissue irritants within the central nervous system. These chemical irritants may cause an oversensitivity of nerve tissue to other stimuli. It has also been shown that tissue waste, such as nitric oxide and other irritating chemicals, can be released from both the nerves and blood vessels in the central nervous systems.1 These recent findings illustrate the biochemical players associated with detoxification in the central nervous systems. Withdrawal from toxins either taken orally or self-produced within the body is a form of detoxification. This merely means the body is actively engaged in an effort to lower the levels of waste retained in our cells. Sometimes this release of waste from cells can be painful; nevertheless, it has a positive benefit to the body. Our cells and the tissue they comprise must continually strive to maintain their purity to prevent early cellular degeneration and premature cell death.


The relationship between food triggers and migraines has been the subject of much debate, with varying results from medical researchers. Headache specialists such as Seymour Diamond, director of the Diamond Headache Clinic of Columbus Hospital, report that about 30 percent of patients can identify food triggers.2

My experience in treating migraine and severe-headache patients with a more comprehensive nutritional approach has shown that 90 to 95 percent of patients are able to remain headache-free after the first three-month period. These patients avoid common migraine triggers, but also in the healing phase they adhere to a strict natural-food vegan diet of primarily fruits and vegetables rich in natural starches like potatoes and brown rice. These patients must avoid all packaged and processed foods, which are notorious for containing hidden food additives, even though they are not disclosed on the labels. They also avoid all added salt.
Hungry for more headache info? Check out this post from The New York Times blog Domestic Disturbances. Here’s Judith Warner with The Migraine Diet:
All this because I had a migraine. In fact, I was on day six of a migraine that would, by day seven, have me dissolving into tears in between the taped segments of my radio show. (Think Holly Hunter. Think “Broadcast News.” The show went on, seamlessly.)


I was suffering like this because I was Taking Control of my life. I’d recently read “Heal Your Headache,” by the Johns Hopkins University neurologist David Buchholz. And now I was following his “1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain.”

In Dr. Buchholz’s view, chronic migraine sufferers like me — I average around seven to twelve headaches a month — are, very often, victims of their own past treatment successes. Triptans, the new-ish class of drugs that bind to serotonin receptors and can work wonders when taken early in migraine attacks, cause rebound headaches, he says, if you take them more than two days a month. So do over-the-counter painkillers and stronger stuff like codeine and oxycodone.

Step 1 in his plan, then, involves removing such “quick fix” drugs from your life. Step 2 is about recognizing your migraine “triggers” and removing the ones – like certain foods, alcohol and caffeine – that you can do something about. (As opposed to the ones – like changes in barometric pressure, work deadlines and mothers-in-law — that you can’t do anything about.) Step 3 is daily preventive medicine – but the idea, in Buchholz’s book, is that if you do well enough at Steps 1 and 2, you might not have to go to Step 3.
I’m not sure whether or not Dr. Fuhrman would agree with everything Dr. Buchholz’s is talking about, but, its good to see some attention being paid to diet as a cause of chronic headaches and migraines—don’t you think?
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Recall-apalooza!

Bad day for beef and toys! First, a Florida firm recalls beef over E. coli fear. Reuters is on it:
A Florida company recalled 8,200 pounds of frozen ground beef because the meat may be contaminated with the debilitating E.coli bacteria, the government's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Thursday.


The FSIS, an office under the U.S. Agriculture Department, said Blue Ribbon Meats of Hialeah, Florida, voluntarily recalled the 10-pound and 20-pound boxes of seasoned beef patties and meatloaf patties.

It was the fifth recall caused by suspected E.coli this month and follows the recall at Topps Meat Co of 21.7 million pounds of beef linked to 30 cases of E.coli-related illnesses, the fifth largest beef or poultry recall in U.S. history.
And, the U.S. has recalled more Chinese-made products for lead in paint. Reuters again:
The recall of roughly 665,000 items announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) includes about 38,000 Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boats from Mattel Inc's Fisher-Price division.


The boats were sold at retail stores nationwide from June through October, and the CPSC said surface paint contains excessive levels of lead.

Also recalled were about 142,000 Halloween pails sold at Family Dollar Stores Inc from August through October. The CPSC said green paint on the pails contains amounts of lead that violate U.S. standards for lead paint.
When will it be safe to go into the supermarket and toy store again?

Chemicals and Kiddies

This is scary report from CNN. Some new research has determined that children may have higher chemical levels in their bodies than previously thought. More from Jordana Miller:
Michelle Hammond and Jeremiah Holland were intrigued when a friend at the Oakland Tribune asked them and their two young children to take part in a cutting-edge study to measure the industrial chemicals in their bodies.


"In the beginning, I wasn't worried at all; I was fascinated," Hammond recalled.

But that fascination soon changed to fear, as tests revealed that their children -- Rowan, then 18 months, and Mikaela, then 5 -- had chemical exposure levels up to seven times those of their parents…

…"We are the humans in a dangerous and unnatural experiment in the United States, and I think it's unconscionable," said Dr. Leo Trasande, assistant director of the Center for Children's Health and the Environment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Dr. Trasande says that industrial toxins could be leading to more childhood disease and disorders.

"We are in an epidemic of environmentally mediated disease among American children today," he said. "Rates of asthma, childhood cancers, birth defects and developmental disorders have exponentially increased, and it can't be explained by changes in the human genome. So what has changed? All the chemicals we're being exposed to."
Not something to be taken lightly; kind of a hot-button issue for Dr. Fuhrman. He insists safeguarding kids from chemical exposure is an important responsibility. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
Young children are the ones most susceptible to toxic exposures, the National Academy of Science has issued warnings and position papers stating that exposure to pesticides in early life can increase cancer rates down the road as well as increasing the occurrence of mental and immune system disorders.1


We must be careful not to expose our children to chemical cleaners, insecticides, and weed killers on our lawns. Chemicals used in pressure-treated wood used to build lawn furniture, decks, fences, and swings sets have been shown to place children at risk. When children are around, we must be vigilant to maintain a chemical-free environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causers. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple myloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, and testes.2
Honestly, the older and wiser I get, the more and more this type of stuff worries me. Continue Reading...

New York Times: On Going Organic

Going organic might be a good idea, but, it can be a little difficult. Not to mention expensive. So, maybe these tips from The New York Times will help you out. Here’re my favorites:
Peanut butter: More acres are devoted to growing peanuts than any other fruits, vegetable or nut, according to the U.S.D.A. More than 99 percent of peanut farms use conventional farming practices, including the use of fungicide to treat mold, a common problem in peanut crops. Given that some kids eat peanut butter almost every day, this seems like a simple and practical switch. Commercial food firms now offer organic brands in the regular grocery store, but my daughter loves to go to the health food store and grind her own peanut butter.


Apples: Apples are the second most commonly eaten fresh fruit, after bananas, and they are also used in the second most popular juice, after oranges, according to Dr. Greene. But apples are also one of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. The good news is that organic apples are easy to find in regular grocery stores.
The tip about apples is a biggie. Dr. Fuhrman classifies apples as one of the most contaminated fruits around. Get a load of this chart:


Now, if organic produce isn’t around. Here’s some helpful advice from Dr. Fuhrman. Enjoy:
Wash your vegetables and fruit with water and when possible, use a drop of dishwashing detergent and then rinse well to remove all detergent residues for a little more efficient cleaning. Specialty pesticide removal products have not clearly demonstrated any more effectiveness than mild soap and water.
On a side note, I must say, organic avocados taste A LOT better than commercially grown avocados, seriously!

Health Points: Tuesday

The program, which targets childhood obesity, is in more than 100 New York City schools plus 20 schools in other states and 20 in Cape Town, South Africa, where a non-governmental organization became interested.

The children earn prizes like medals and certificates each time they notch 26 miles — a marathon — and they can track their progress on personal Web pages.

The running club is best known for putting on the New York City Marathon, which draws world-class runners and hobbyists alike on the annual race through the five boroughs. But foundation Executive Director Cliff Sperber said the purpose of the Mighty Milers isn't to raise a new generation of marathoners
Spurred by the growing crisis in child obesity, the nation’s schools have made “considerable improvements” in nutrition, fitness and health over the last six years, according to a new government survey that found that more schools require physical education and fewer sell French fries.


The survey, which is conducted every six years, shows that more schools than six years ago offer salads and vegetables and that fewer permit bake sales. More states and school districts insist that elementary schools schedule recess and that physical education teachers have at least undergraduate training. More states have enacted policies to prohibit smoking at school and to require courses on pregnancy prevention.

Perhaps most striking, 30 percent of school districts have banned junk food from school vending machines, up from 4 percent in 2000. Schools offering fried potatoes in their cafeterias declined, to 19 percent from 40 percent.
The November 29 meeting will consider a request from the Center for Science in the Public Interest to limit salt in processed food and to require additional health information on food labels about salt and sodium content of foods, among other changes.


In 2005, the group petitioned the FDA to reclassify salt as a food additive, rather than its longtime designation as a food "generally recognized as safe."

It has cited the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from high blood pressure. Cutting salt intake can reduce changes of developing and curtail the condition, according to the American Heart Association.
"Calcium deficiency, due either to low calcium in the diet or to vitamin D deficiency, is very common in older women, who are also the population at highest risk of breast cancer and breast cancer bone metastases," lead researcher Dr. Colin R. Dunstan pointed out to Reuters Health. Metastasis occurs as cancer progresses and the cells spread from the primary site to attack other areas of the body.


Dunstan of the ANZAC Research Institute in Concord and colleagues conducted dietary studies in a mouse model of breast cancer growth in bone. The results are published in the journal Cancer Research.

The researchers found that after breast cancer tumor was implanted into the animals, the mice that were feed a diet containing only 0.1 percent calcium showed signs of high bone turnover compared with the animals feed a diet with a normal 0.6-percent calcium content.
It's Halloween and you're watching your fat intake. However, you aren't willing to completely sacrifice the chocolately goodness of the holiday. Which of the following is the lowest fat treat to sneak from the kids loot pile?
  • Butterfinger bar
  • Milky Way bar
  • plain M & M's
  • Snickers Bar
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
  • Kit Kat bar
If you live in an area where shopping for organic food poses a challenge, don't throw in the all-natural kitchen towel! Many Americans in similar circumstances have found the perfect solution: community supported agriculture, or "CSA." First popular in Japan and Switzerland in the 1960s, the CSA movement has -- pardon the pun -- taken root with a vengeance in the United States, where it is sometimes referred to as "subscription farming."


How, exactly, does a CSA work?

By definition, CSAs are composed of "a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The spraying is aimed at the light brown apple moth, an invasive species from Australia that has infested 12 California counties stretching from north of San Francisco to Los Angeles. The U.S. Department of Agriculture fears that if the moth, which consumes 250 varieties of plants, crosses into the San Joaquin Valley, the infestation could cause up to $2.6 billion in losses.


Hundreds of residents reported feeling short of breath and sharp stomach pains after spraying began. Environmentalists quickly sued, claiming the state never prepared an environmental impact report to ensure the airborne chemical droplets were safe for residents and aquatic life.

In lifting the ban, O'Farrell found the agriculture department's health-monitoring plan adequate to address concerns of residents. The government monitoring program will "accept and investigate" medical complaints after the pesticide is sprayed, the judge wrote.
British researchers found that among more than 10,000 adults who were followed for five years, women who routinely slept for six hours or less were more likely than their well-rested counterparts to develop high blood pressure.


Compared with women who said they typically got seven hours of sleep a night, those who logged in six hours were 42 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure, while those who routinely slept no more than five hours had a 31 percent higher risk.

There was, however, no clear relationship between amount of sleep and blood pressure among men, the study authors report in the journal Hypertension.

Something Fishy Here...

A couple of weeks ago a report came out urging pregnant women to eat fish—I know, crazy—but anyway, here’s a refresher. From the Reuters report:
Women who want to become pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding should eat at least 12 ounces of fatty fish such as tuna every week to help themselves and their babies, experts will recommend later on Thursday.


Fish including mackerel, sardines, light tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- components of fat known to help brain development. Walnuts, flaxseed oil and leafy green vegetables also contain the compounds.

Women need the nutrients to prevent postpartum depression and babies need them for brain and motor skill development, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition says.

The coalition, which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says "90 percent of women are consuming less than the recommended amount of fish."

But these fish can also carry high levels of mercury, which is a brain and nerve toxin.
So why is it crazy for pregnant women to eat fish? Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in his book Disease-Proof Your Child. This is a solid quote, here's it again:
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.
Now, soon after the report came out I began to read some strange things. Like maybe there was another motive here, or maybe, all this was designed to serve a higher master. So naturally I jumped out of my boots when Dr. Fuhrman sent this over. Marian Burros of The New York Times offers up “Industry Money Fans Debate on Fish.” Here’s a bit:
The coalition based its advice on a finding by the Maternal Nutrition Group, made up of physicians, dietitians and nutritionists. It relied on recent research, including a study in the British medical journal Lancet, showing that the benefits for babies of omega-3 fatty acids and other substances in fish outweighed the risks of mercury. Another study showed that fears about mercury had kept some women from eating any fish.


But in an 1,800-word response to its critics, the coalition acknowledged that a member of the Maternal Nutrition Group, Dr. James McGregor, a visiting professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, had gotten the National Fisheries Institute to provide $1,000 honoraria to each of the group’s 14 members, with an extra $500 each to the group’s four executive committee members.

The National Fisheries Institute also gave the coalition $60,000 for its education campaign. The coalition’s leadership said that the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller “facilitated this group sharing its findings” with the coalition and is working to promote the recommendations.

Burson-Marsteller which represents the fisheries institute, had worked for the U.S. Tuna Foundation before it joined with the institute.
Honestly, it’s not all that shocking. America has a chronic problem with lobbyists, in all facets of society. This controversy reminds me a lot of yesterday’s post Medicine, Man, and Big Pharma.
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Health Points: Tuesday

J&B Meats Corp. is recalling 173,554 pounds (78.7 tonnes) of frozen ground beef products sold under "Topps" and "Sam's Choice" labels due to possible E. coli contamination, the U.S. government said this weekend.

The Coal Valley, Illinois-based company produced the patties in June and distributed them to retail stores nationwide, the U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, said in a statement.
Scientists reported progress yesterday toward one of medicine’s long-sought goals: the development of a blood test that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, and even do so years before truly debilitating memory loss.


A team of scientists, based mainly at Stanford University, developed a test that was about 90 percent accurate in distinguishing the blood of people with Alzheimer’s from the blood of those without the disease. The test was about 80 percent accurate in predicting which patients with mild memory loss would go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease two to six years later.
A diverse group of low-income women participated in the study, Dr. Alyson B. Moadel of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, noted in an interview with Reuters Health. "Our patients really enjoyed the yoga classes, it was very well received by them," she said. "It really fit in with their own cultural interests."


There is mounting evidence that yoga can improve quality of life in both healthy and chronically ill people, Moadel and her team point out in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, while quality of life may be particularly affected for cancer survivors who belong to ethnic minorities and other underserved minority populations.
The ban on phthalate makes California the first U.S. state to impose severe limits on a chemical that is widely used in baby bottles, soft baby books, teething rings, plastic bath ducks and other toys, said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, the bill's author.


"I think parents will be comforted that when they buy one of these chewy products it will be safe," Ma told The Associated Press on Sunday after the bill was signed into law.
New suspected cases of foot and mouth disease in sheep have been reported in Britain, the environment ministry said on Monday, in another county from the confirmed cases in this year's outbreak.


A three-kilometre (1.8-mile) temporary control zone has been imposed around premises close to the town of Rye, near the southern English coast, after sheep showed possible symptoms of the disease. Tests were being carried out.
Good news for us early birds who grit their teeth to get through the afternoon because our evolutionary bio-rhythms are at their lowest ebb.


Research by Liverpool’s John Moores University has shown that the mere thought of an afternoon siesta can help reduce the risk of a heart attack. The length of the nap is irrelevant as it is in the minutes just before we drop off when the beneficial changes to our body take place.
President Hu Jintao said Monday China would step up efforts to improve food safety and prevent the spread of animal diseases, in a speech opening the Communist Party's five-yearly Congress.


"We will intensify efforts to prevent animal and plant epidemic diseases and improve the quality and safety of agricultural products," Hu said.

Later in the speech, he said: "We must ensure food and drug safety."
A turning point came in 2002, scientists conclude Monday in the annual "Report to the Nation" on cancer. Between 2002 and 2004, death rates dropped by an average of 2.1 percent a year.


That may not sound like much, but between 1993 and 2001, deaths rates dropped on average 1.1 percent a year.

The big change was a two-pronged gain against colorectal cancer.

Asthma: Clean House, Dangerous House?

I wish I could have used this excuse to get out of cleaning my room when I was a kid. According to a new study household cleaners and air fresheners can raise asthma risk in adults. Reuters is on it:
Housework might be bad for your health, according to a study suggesting that tidying up as little as once a week with common cleaning sprays and air fresheners could raise the risk of asthma in adults.


Other studies have linked these types of products with increased asthma rates among cleaning professionals but the research published on Friday indicates others are potentially at risk as well.

Exposure to such cleaning materials even just once a week could account for as many as one in seven adult asthma cases, the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"Frequent use of household cleaning sprays may be an important risk factor for adult asthma," Jan-Paul Zock, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, who led the study, wrote.
For more on chemical dangers, check out DiseaseProof’s toxins category.

More Lead in Toys

According to Reuters it’s a toxic day for Curious George. Here’s why:
A Curious George doll bought at Toys "R" Us was found to be tainted with 10 times the legally-allowed lead level, and vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks also had high amounts of lead, the nonprofit group Center for Environmental Health said on Wednesday.

The Curious George doll found with high amounts of lead was made by Marvel Entertainment Group Inc, the Oakland, California-based group said in a statement. A Marvel spokesman said he was unaware of the advocacy group's finding and had no immediate comment.

Millions of toys made in China have been recalled over the last three months due to unsafe levels of lead paint, which is toxic and can pose serious health risks, including brain damage, in children.
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Chewing the Omega Fat

Finding quality sources of omega fat is an interesting pursuit—with lots of conflicting messages. Now, the media tends to beat the fish and oils drum. Take this article by Astrid Pujari, M.D. of The Seattle Times for example. Here’s a bit:
Flaxseed oil has a basic type of omega 3 fat known as alpha-linolenic acid. Your body can use it to make two different types of omega 3 fats known as EPA and DHA.


Now let's say you want a shortcut. Instead of your body making the fats yourself, you go to the store and buy them ready-made. That is what buying fish oil is like…

…So to be sure they are getting enough EPA and DHA, many people just choose to eat cold-water fish or take fish oil. Examples of cold-water fish include salmon, sardines, herring, kipper and mackerel. Shellfish such as oysters, shrimp and scallops contain lesser amounts.

Flaxseed oil also has health benefits that may be different — or even complementary — from those of fish oil. That makes sense because it has a different type of omega 3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid.
Okay, if there’s one thing I learned about this topic is that it’s more complicated than it seems. You’ve got to be really careful about which sources of omega fat you choose. First let’s look at flaxseed oil. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
I do not recommend the use of flaxseed oil or flaxseed oil supplements. Flaxseed oil is pure fat and virtually devoid of all or most of the nutrients (except for vitamin E) found in ground flaxseed. Also, flaxseed oil is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and there is evidence that extracted PUFA oils may suppress the immune system, and possibly increase the growth rate of certain cancers and/or tumors. If you want the benefit of flaxseed, eat the ground seeds and avoid the oil.
That was rather blunt—scratch that idea! Alright, moving on. Now what about fish oil? Not to spoil the surprise, but, Dr. Fuhrman has more than a few choices words for most fish oils; quite the fishy predicament. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
One problem with fish oils is that much of the fat has already turned rancid. If you have ever cut open a capsule and tasted it, you will find it can taste like gasoline. Many people complain of burping, indigestion and of fish breath. I have also observed that rancidity of this fish fat places a stress on the liver. Patients of mine with abnormal liver function noted on their blood tests when consuming fish oil have had these tests return to normal when the fish oils were stopped.
Fish oil no. Flaxseed oil no. What’s left? Surely consuming whole fish has got to be a good idea. After all, just last week a health coalition recommended women eat fish while pregnant. Time for Dr. Fuhrman to chime in again, take a look:
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that interfere with blood clotting much the same way aspirin does. Once you have significant atherosclerosis, it is helpful to take such anti-clotting agents, especially if you continue a dangerous diet. These fish derived-fats also have some effect on protecting the arterial walls from damage from other fats.


However, the best way to prevent a heart attack or stroke is to follow a high-nutrient diet with little or no animal products, thereby ensuring that such blockages don't develop in the first place. Then eating fish won't matter. In fact, the reason fish-derived fats, EPA and DHA, are not considered essential fats is that almost all people have enzymes to convert the plant-derived omega-3 fat rapidly into EPA and DHA.1

Fish is a double-edged sword, especially because fish has been shown to increase heart attack risk if polluted with mercury.2 It seems that the cardioprotective effects of eating a little fish is lost when you eat lots of fish, most likely because lots of fish exposes you to high mercury levels, which can promote lipid peroxidation.3 Lipid peroxidation plays a major role in the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Rather daunting on all fronts. So then, if fish, fish oil, and flaxseed oil all have problems, what are good sources of health omega fats, DHA, and EPA? Rather than beat around the bush, here’s more from Dr. Fuhrman:
Flax Seeds are rich in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, and scientific studies have confirmed that flax seeds have a positive influence on everything from cholesterol levels and constipation to cancer and heart disease. Keep in mind that the scientifically documented benefits from flax seeds come from raw, ground flax seed, not flax seed oil.


If you were looking for a substitute for eating fish in that article, it was okay to mention flaxseeds as a source of short chain omega-3, but since they only convert about 2.5 percent into DHA, they do not supply what fish do (EPA and DHA) long-chain omega 3. My DHA Purity is a better option to supply what fish could, not flax. My DHA Purity is refrigerated because these oils can go rancid easily and we take extra care to preserve its cleanliness and freshness.

Also, there are other brands of non-fish DHA, but they are not refrigerated the whole time from manufacturing, shipping and storage like ours are. And when I tested the competitive brands in independent analysis they had very high rancidity scores.

You can buy a clean fish oil, a few of the best brands are purified and tested not to have the contamination and mercury that fish does, but that is still a limited resource (over-fishing) not a renewable resource like our DHA made from micro-algae grown under clean indoor conditions.
Clearly, eating healthfully requires some careful thinking and decision making—who would have thought!
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Salmon Spread Recall

Wow! A week of recalls, first beef—yuck—and now salmon spread. Why you ask? Oh just a little Listeria contamination. The Associated Press has more:
Jensen's says 936 tubs of its Seattle Style Wild Smoked Salmon Spread Lemon Dill and Onion are being recalled because of the possibility they are contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes — an organism that can cause serious infections in the young, the elderly and those with weak immune systems.


The spread in question is coded "Sell by 10/20/07." It was distributed in retail stores in Western Washington and sold in 7-ounce plastic tubs.
Like fish doesn’t have enough problems? According to Dr. Fuhrman fish is a real catch-22. From Eat to Live, here’re a couple reasons why. Take a look:
Fish is a double-edged sword, especially because fish has been shown to increase heart attack risk if polluted with mercury.1 It seems that the cardioprotective effects of eating a little fish is lost when you eat lots of fish, most likely because lots of fish exposes you to high mercury levels, which can promote lipid peroxidation.2 Lipid peroxidation plays a major role in the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Kind of puts a damper on my sushi fascination—darn it!
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Your Lungs: Ozone, Oh-No!

New research suggests that the ozone in urban air pollution can do significant damage to our lungs. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
Ozone, a major component of urban air pollution, shuts down early immune responses in the lungs, which in turn makes the lung more vulnerable to bacteria and other foreign invaders, research shows.


It's known that exposure to ozone is associated with increased cardiovascular and pulmonary hospitalizations and deaths, but the actual mechanisms involved haven't been clarified. This study, by Duke University Medical Center pulmonary researchers, may provide some answers.

They found that mice exposed to unhealthy ozone levels showed amplified lung injury in response to bacterial toxins. The rodents also showed increased "programmed cell death" of the type of innate immune system cells that normally devour foreign invaders and keep the airways clear.

Thursday: Health Points

Dr. Stern, a specialist in geriatric emergency medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, noted that the elderly took about 40 percent of prescribed drugs, roughly twice what younger adults take, and that they suffered twice as many adverse drug reactions as younger people.

“The average community-dwelling older adult takes 4.5 prescription drugs and 2.1 over-the-counter medications,” Dr. Stern reported. Polypharmacy is responsible for up to 28 percent of hospital admissions and, he added, if it were classified as such, it would be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Curious about back exercises? This article in The Detroit Free Press should give you plenty of ideas. The roman chair—eek—sounds like a torture device! Have a look:
Training your lower back can improve your posture, develop your abdominal muscles and help prevent lower back pain and injury. A great twist on an old favorite is the low-cable back extension. This is a little more challenging than the traditional exercise, but it's a welcome change of pace.


First, position a roman chair or back extension machine inside the cable station. The machine should be squarely facing the weight stack with enough distance between the machine and the weight stack that there is still tension on the cable when you are at the bottom of the exercise.
Weight training works just as well as running on a treadmill or biking to help the most important symptom of type-2 diabetes -- long-term control of blood sugar -- Canadian researchers said on Monday.


Doing both aerobic and resistance training lowered blood sugar levels better than either alone, researchers said -- and both appeared to be safe.

At least 194 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the World Health Organization expects the number to rise to more than 300 million by 2025.
Reading the food labels was "a little bit confusing, but after a while I got used to it," said the fifth-grader from suburban Doral.


"Since I find parents are not doing a bang-up job (teaching nutrition), I think it's important to empower the children with their own information," said Miami registered dietitian Ronni Litz Julien.

The FDA partnered with the Cartoon Network earlier this year to launch a public education campaign encouraging children ages 9 to 13 - or tweens - to read the nutrition facts on food labels.
"Patients are using the Internet to find health-related quality information, and the information is out there," noted lead researcher Dr. Michael J. Leonardi, from the department of surgery at David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. "But the information is inconsistent and varies from Web site to Web site," he said.


A lot of Web sites try to rank hospitals, Leonardi said. But because there is no standard way of calculating quality differences, Internet sites come up with different results for the same hospitals, he noted.
The tainted bag of Dole’s Hearts Delight salad mix was sold at a store in Canada, officials said. Neither Canadian health officials nor Dole Food Co. have received reports of anyone getting sick from the product.


The voluntary recall, issued Monday, affects all packages of Hearts Delight sold in the United States and Canada with a “best if used by” date of September 19, 2007, and a production code of “A24924A” or “A24924B,” the company said.
Worried that you'll take up running and then quit? No chance. Just follow our simple but surefire training program. It just might be the most exciting time in your entire running career. But you won't necessarily realize it.


First steps...starting out...the beginning of a great adventure. In fact, in lots of ways, it's sort of a declaration of personal independence. A statement that says, "In a world that confronts me with mechanical convenience and idle luxury at virtually every turn, I have decided, nonetheless, to improve my physical fitness."
Of course, at issue is the fact that for doctors coming into close contact with many ill patients, all that extra fabric and buttons and ties and watches are just additional places for bacteria to colonize and hop on over to the next person.


Will it help? Not sure, but I suppose it falls under the "can't hurt" category. The article also notes that a study of doctors' ties a few years' back showed that almost half were contaminated with a minimum of one species of pathogen--so eliminate the dirty tie, maybe they'll pass around fewer germs? Time will tell, I suppose.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said new labeling on the drug will note that ailments, including QT prolongation, a disorder of the heart's electrical system that can lead to a life-threatening condition, have been observed in post-marketing studies.

The drug is also sold generically under the name haloperidol.

Several other drugs for schizophrenia, including a much newer J&J drug including Invega, have warnings about the risk of the serious cardiac effect.

Bad News Pesticides

Pesticides are scary especially in or on my food, and, Dr. Fuhrman contends pesticides do a fine job contributing to disease. Here’s a quote:
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causers. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple myloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, and testes.1
Now—not to be a fear-monger—but get a load of these reports. First off, according to Reuters pesticide exposure has been tied to asthma in farmers. Take a look:
Pesticide exposure is a "potential risk factor for asthma and respiratory symptoms among farmers," lead author Dr. Jane A. Hoppin, from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, told Reuters Health.


"Because grains and animals are more common exposures in agricultural settings, pesticides may be overlooked," Hoppin warned, adding: "Better education and training of farmers and pesticide handlers may help to reduce asthma risk."

Of the 19,704 farmers included in the study, 127 had self-reported (doctor diagnosed) allergic asthma and 314 had non-allergic asthma.
This one is no better. Pesticide has been blamed for a major health disaster in the French Caribbean. More from the AFP:
The French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique face a "health disaster" with soaring cancer and infertility rates because of the massive use of banned pesticides on banana plantations, a top cancer specialist warned Monday.


Martinique and Guadeloupe are currently facing "an extremely serious crisis linked to the massive use of pesticides for a great many years," Professor Dominique Belpomme said in a report obtained by AFP Monday.

On Tuesday Belpomme is to submit his findings to the French National Assembly, highlighting the dangers posed by the long-term use of chlordecone, also known as kepone, on banana crops.
So, if you’re spooked about pesticides. Scope out this post: Reduce Your Pesticide Exposure By 90%.
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Friday: Health Points

The new case was discovered close to a farm south of London where an outbreak was first reported last month.

Restrictions imposed then were only lifted four days ago and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) imposed a new England-wide ban on the movement of cattle, sheep, pigs and other ruminants.

Cattle were ordered slaughtered on the affected farm, near Egham, west of London. Egham is 13 miles (21 kilometres) from the village of Normandy, where foot and mouth disease was confirmed on August 3.
  • I’m sure you’ve heard of dirty money, but what about dirty energy? It’s a big deal. Some 2 billion people’s health may be threatened by it. More from Reuters:
The health of about 2 billion of the world’s poor is being damaged because they lack access to clean energy, like electricity, and face exposure to smoke from open fires, scientists said on Thursday.


Dangerous levels of indoor air pollutants from badly ventilated cooking fires are a common hazard, while lack of electricity deprives many of the benefits of refrigeration.
Congress last month approved an extra $50 billion for the program, but U.S. President George W. Bush threatened a veto, calling it a move toward nationalized health care, which he opposes.


Bush wanted only a $5 billion increase in the plan's $25 billion cost over 5 years. Congress would come up with the extra dollars by hiking cigarette taxes 45 cents per pack and cutting Medicare payments to private health insurers.

New Jersey's program has covered 122,000 children, and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said the new rules would deny coverage to 10,000 kids. In the past 18 months, 100,000 more children have been enrolled in both SHIP and Medicaid, which aids the poor, he added.
It’s one of the mysteries of sleep: Why is it that mild exercise can be invigorating, but strenuous endurance exercise — whether it’s crew practice, long runs as training for a marathon or juggling back-to-back workouts to prepare for a triathlon — makes people groggy?

Elite marathoners know that hunger for sleep all too well.

Deena Kastor, who won the London Marathon last year and set an American record, said she sleeps 10 hours at night and takes a two-hour nap every afternoon. Steven Spence, a marathoner who won a bronze medal at the 1991 world championships in Tokyo, had the same sleep habits when he was training.
  • After last year’s E. coli outbreak you’d assume the government would have tightened regulations—not! The Associated Press reports that safety standards have not be raised:
A review of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act found that federal officials inspect companies growing and processing salad greens an average of once every 3.9 years. Some proposals in Congress would require such inspections at least four times a year.


In California, which grows three-quarters of the nation's greens, processors created a new inspection system but with voluntary guidelines that were unable to keep bagged spinach tainted with salmonella from reaching grocery shelves last month.

Despite widespread calls for spot-testing of processing plants handling leafy greens after last year's E. coli outbreak, California public-health inspectors have not been given the authority to conduct such tests, so no such tests have been done, the review found.
In the pact, China also pledged to step up inspections of its exports and take other steps to ensure that those products meet U.S. standards, said Nancy Nord, acting head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. That will include joint efforts by the two countries to increase understanding of those standards among manufacturers and exporters.


The absence of such an understanding allowed paint suppliers to provide lead paint to companies making toys sold by Mattel Inc. and other companies, said Chuanzhong Wei, vice minister of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. Lead paint has been banned on toys made in the United States since 1978.

"That's why we decided we should intensify the exchanges between importers and exporters in the field of standards," Wei said, speaking through a translator.
People who are just moderately overweight have an increased risk developing heart disease, even if they are otherwise healthy, according to pooled data from published studies.


As study chief Dr. Rik P. Bogers noted in an email to Reuters Health, the data show that "even if overweight and obese persons succeeded in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to normal levels, they would still have a higher risk of coronary heart disease than their normal-weight peers."

Thus, the worldwide increase in the number of people who are moderately overweight "may drive the incidence of coronary heart disease upward," Bogers and colleagues warn in a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Smoking Down, Heart Attacks Down

It seems Ireland’s ban on smoking has helped the number of heart attacks nosedive. More from The Cardio Blog:
Ireland was the first country to every ban workplace smoking within its borders, and they implemented the law in 2004. Within one year, the incidence of heart attacks fell by a whopping 10%. Health experts say that Ireland's success should be encouraging for other countries thinking of similar laws.

Arsenic in the Water

Evidently arsenic in drinking water is much bigger deal than scientists have long thought. Get a load of this Reuters report:
Arsenic can cause lung disease and cancers, even long after people stop drinking contaminated water, said Peter Ravenscroft, a researcher at the University of Cambridge.


“What is new is, the extent of arsenic pollution is much bigger than people realized,” Mr. Ravenscroft said in a telephone interview.

“There is a very important connection between arsenic in water and arsenic in food, especially where people grow irrigated crops.”

World Health Organization guidelines set a safe limit of 10 parts per billion of arsenic in water supplies, but tens of millions of people in the world drink unsafe water above that level, researchers said.
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Candy Smokes

The Cardio Blog brings up a very good point. Shouldn’t we stop hocking candy cigarettes to kids? Take a look:
I'll admit, when I was a kid, I was allowed to eat candy "cigarettes," those little sugar sticks with red tips that came in a box that looked like a pack of cigarettes ... or the gum that had powder under the wrapper so you could blow on it to create puffs of smoke. That was back in the day, and now that the dangers of smoking are so well known, I had assumed that these candies were no longer manufactured.


No such luck! Candy and gum resembling tobacco products are still available -- as I quickly found out when my 5 year old (who thinks smoking is gross) thought it was so cool to find a candy pack and tell me that he had cigarettes.
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Gardasil, Still a Dumb Idea

Yeah, Dr. Fuhrman isn’t a big fan of Gardasil. Here’s what he had to say on the topic of mandatory HPV vaccinations:
Remember this is not about arguing about the effectiveness or value of vaccines, just whether we should mandate medical care and take another freedom away from Americans. We no longer have the freedom to take or not take medications. Sounds like the Taliban to me.
Not only do mandatory vaccinations seem very un-American, but, Gardasil is hardly the saving grace Merck’s marketing team paints it to be. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Gardasil, the new Merck HPV vaccine, protects against 4 types of HPV and these four types were only found in 3.4 percent.
  1. 44 percent of women studied aged 20 – 24 had infections with HPV.
  2. The virus disappears and does not cause a problem in 90 percent of infected women.
  3. 100 strains exist, the vaccine protects against only 4, but they include the two strains associated with seventy percent of cervical cancers 16 and 18.
  4. The vaccine has not been studied for long-term effectiveness and the protection may wear off in 5 – 7 years.
  5. Conclusion, most HPV infections and about 50 percent of HPV related cancers will not likely be helped by the vaccine because its effectiveness will likely wane with time, other strains can also cause disease.
Get ready. It gets worse. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) recently issued a report linking Gardasil to Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). More from Medical News Today:
The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) today issued a new report on HPV vaccine (Gardasil(R)) safety analyzing adverse event reports to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The analysis gives evidence for a reported association in VAERS between Gardasil and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), with a statistically significant increased risk of GBS and other serious adverse event reports when Gardasil is co-administered with other vaccines, especially meningococcal vaccine (Menactra(R))…


…GBS is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, and can cause total paralysis. "Our analysis of Gardasil reports to VAERS indicates there was a two to 12 times greater likelihood that serious adverse events, such as GBS, were reported when Gardasil was given in combination with Menactra rather than given alone," said Vicky Debold, PhD, RN, NVIC director of patient safety. "Accepted scientific standards indicate that these findings are statistically significant and cannot be dismissed as coincidence. In particular, the available VAERS data show there was a more than 1,000 percent increased risk of GBS reports following Gardasil administration when Menactra was given at the same time."
No worries. I’m sure Merck will come out with flowery commercials that’ll soothe everyone’s nerves.
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