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24 November 2007

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs: What Are Drugmakers Hiding?

Almost 800,000 prescriptions for the cholesterol-lowering drugs Zetia and Vytorin are written each week, but it is still unclear how well the drugs work. Even though the medicines’ makers, Merck and Schering-Plough, completed a clinical trial of the drugs two years ago, they have yet to release the findings. Responding to increasing complaints from cardiologists, the companies promised to publish only a portion of the data next March.

This decision is highly unusual and has increased concerns about the trial, as well as the effectiveness of the drugs. If Zetia and Vytorin are ineffective, patients taking them are increasing their risk of heart attacks for no reason.
Drug makers have received sharp criticism for failing to disclose trials that had negative results, and two years ago drug companies agreed to publicly register clinical trials in advance and promptly disclose findings. But they face few, if any, penalties for failing to meet those promises.

Sources:

* New York Times November 21, 2007

Get Your B Vitamins to Stave Off Colon Cancer

A new study on mice shows that a deficiency in folate, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and B12 may increase the risk of DNA damage and colorectal cancers.

Researchers examined the Wnt pathway (a cellular signaling pathway linked to more than 85 per cent of colorectal cancers) and found that mild depletion of all four B vitamins was promoted the risk of tumor formation. Previous research suggested that folate deficiency alone increase the risk, but this new study suggests a more complex interaction.

However, some studies have reported that the B-vitamin may in fact increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer accounts for 9 per cent of cancer cases worldwide. The highest rate of incidence is in the industrialized world.

Sources:

* NutraIngredients.com November 21, 2007

Food Makers Pressured to Cut Sodium

Americans consume nearly two teaspoons of salt daily, which is more than double what they need. Seventy-five percent of that sodium comes from common processed foods.

Public health specialists are currently pressuring the FDA to require food makers to cut the sodium. The American Medical Association says cutting sodium in processed and restaurant foods in half could save 150,000 lives each year.

One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. While being overweight and inactive can raise blood pressure, too much salt can do so as well.
Government guidelines set 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day as the safe upper limit, and the Institute of Medicine says that 1,500 mg a day is sufficient for health. But the average American consumes between 3,300 and 4,000 mg of sodium each day.

Sources:

* SFGate November 20, 2007

23 November 2007

Most Physicians Are Clueless About Obesity


University of Alberta researcher Tim Caulfield believes that most physicians are not prepared to deal with the current and worsening epidemic of obesity.

Physicians play a vital role in managing and identifying obesity. And in North America, by law, overweight and obese patients are entitled to the same level of care as the general public. But there are reasons to believe that the population of overweight patients is not, in many cases, receiving optimal care and advice.

Studies have shown that 83 percent of doctors are less likely to perform physical examinations on reluctant obese patients, and 17 percent admitted being reluctant to perform pelvic exams on obese patients. Another study found that a full quarter of physicians think that they are not competent or only slightly competent at recommending treatment for obese patients.

Steps should be taken, according to Caulfield, to ensure family physicians have the skills, tools and resources necessary to help their patients.
Sources:

* Science Daily November 21, 2007

22 November 2007

Study links WiFi with childhood autism


While there seems to be relatively few things that WiFi hasn't been linked to, it seems that a new study has managed to turn up yet another potential peril, in this case a link to childhood autism. According to the study published in the Australasian Journal of Clinical Environmental Medicine, the electromagnetic radiation from WiFi devices supposedly causes metals to be trapped in individuals' brain cells, which the researchers say slows clearance and accelerates the onset of autism symptoms. As Computer Weekly points out, however, a number of health agencies, including the World Health Organization, have repeatedly examined the issue and found no danger from WiFi devices (or cellphones, for that matter) operating at levels below international guidelines. Still, we have a sneaking suspicion that this is far from the last study of this sort we'll see, at least until each WiFi router shipped comes bundled with a tinfoil bodysuit.

[Via Switched]

Stem cell news is a step forward for regenerative medicine

This morning's pair of announcements on human stem cell research marks a step forward for regenerative medicine -- the study of regrowing or repairing body parts, using the body's own processes. Alan Russell's 2006 TEDTalk is a fascinating roundup of what regenerative medicine could bring: revolutionary treatments for heart disease, severe burns, even the loss of a part of the body.

Human stem cells are a vital tool in this discipline -- as are many other bits and pieces. Esquire magazine has an in-depth and charming story about another doctor in Alan Russell's Pittsburgh lab, Dr. Stephen Badylak, and his work with what the magazine calls "pixie dust" ... ground-up pig bladder.

21 November 2007

Hair regrowth discovery in mice may lead to hair loss solution in humans

(NewsTarget) Scientists have found a way to induce the regeneration of hair follicles and the regrowth of hair in mice. This new research that may provide clues to regrowing hair in humans, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

Researchers inflicted large, shallow wounds in the backs of mice. Once the wounds had reached a certain size, a process similar to embryonic development was activated. Stem cells were transported to the damaged skin, and actual regeneration of the removed hair follicles occurred. These follicles then grew hair normally, although the hair was lacking in pigmentation (and therefore white). The regeneration worked better when the scientists artificially applied a certain signaling protein to the skin.

"[The stem cells are] actually coming from epidermal cells that don't normally make hair follicles. So they're somehow reprogrammed and told to make a follicle," said lead researcher George Cotsarelis of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Cotsarelis said that the study disproved the widespread belief that mammal skin is incapable of regenerating hair follicles.

In an accompanying review, Cheng-Ming Chuong of the University of Southern California speculated as to why this effect has never before been observed in humans or other mammals. It is possible, Cheng-Ming wrote, the regeneration can only occur in larger wounds, the kind that are normally bandaged or stitched up in humans.

It is also possible that the regeneration would not work the same way in mammals other than mice.

Cotsarelis warned people not to try stimulating hair growth by inflicting wounds on themselves. "I'm kind of afraid of people misinterpreting this and incising the scalp," he said. "Don't try this at home."

Furthermore, he said, without the application of the same signaling protein, hair growth would probably be fairly sparse.

Cotsarelis has helped to set up a company called Follica, which hopes to develop a human hair regrowth treatment based on the findings of the study and a patent being filed by the University of Pennsylvania.

NewsTarget remains adamantly against all experimentation on animals and believes that these researchers are engaged in cruel actions that cause unnecessary pain and suffering to mice (which are warm-blooded mammals).

Avoid Spinal Surgery - First in Singapore to use Meditrac!

video

Dr Kevin's thought:

Im proud to announce that we are the first to bring this innovative medical equipment to Singapore. Designed by orthopaedic surgeons this device alleviates spinal problems such as disc herniation, nerve pain and low back/neck pain through a 3 dimensional abulatory traction.

Helping sufferers the option to avoid surgery or drugs and all the related complications that it usually entails!

20 November 2007

Are Your Children Allergic to Skin Care Products?

Children with skin allergies may be allergic to the oat proteins commonly found in skin care products. Of about 300 children with eczema seen at a pediatric dermatology unit in France, nearly a third had a skin reaction to oats.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin disorder that causes scaly and itchy rashes.

None of the parents had suspected an oat allergy in their child, and previous clinical examinations had not identified the allergies. Twenty-eight percent of children who were tested for the allergy by the application of oat cream to the skin developed eczema or other skin eruptions on the tested area.

75 percent of the children had been previously treated with oat-containing emollients.
Sources:

* Reuters November 14, 2007

Sunlight Deficiency Causes Endometrial Cancer

Using newly available worldwide data, researchers have shown a clear association between deficiency in exposure to sunlight and endometrial cancer.

The UV-B radiation in sunlight triggers photosynthesis of vitamin D3 in the body. Previous studies have shown associations between higher levels of vitamin D3 and lower risk of cancers of the breast, colon, kidney and ovary.

The new study used a new tool called GLOBOCAN, a database of cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence for 175 countries. Endometrial cancer incidence was higher at higher latitudes, even after controlling for known variables such as cloud cover and weight.
This is the third environmental paper from this research team to show a strong association between vitamin D and cancer using GLOBOCAN. The first paper showed a similar pattern for kidney cancer, and the second showed such a pattern for ovarian cancer.
Sources:

* Science Daily November 16, 2007

New Stem Cell Method Could Ease Ethical Concerns

By GINA KOLATA
Published: November 21, 2007

Two teams of scientists are reporting today that they turned human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without having to make or destroy an embryo — a feat that could quell the ethical debate troubling the field.

All they had to do, the scientists said, was add four genes. The genes reprogrammed the chromosomes of the skin cells, making the cells into blank slates that should be able to turn into any of the 220 cell types of the human body, be it heart, brain, blood or bone. Until now, the only way to get such human universal cells was to pluck them from a human embryo several days after fertilization, destroying the embryo in the process.

The reprogrammed skin cells may yet prove to have subtle differences from embryonic stem cells that come directly from human embryos, and the new method includes potentially risky steps, like introducing a cancer gene. But stem cell researchers say they are confident that it will not take long to perfect the method and that today’s drawbacks will prove to be temporary.

Researchers and ethicists not involved in the findings say the work should reshape the stem cell field. At some time in the near future, they said, today’s debate over whether it is morally acceptable to create and destroy human embryos to obtain stem cells should be moot.

“Everyone was waiting for this day to come,” said the Rev. Tadeiusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center. “You should have a solution here that will address the moral objections that have been percolating for years,” he added.

The two independent teams, from Japan and Wisconsin, note that their method also creates stem cells that genetically match the donor without having to resort to the controversial step of cloning. If stem cells are used to make replacement cells and tissues for patients, it would be invaluable to have genetically matched cells because they would not be rejected by the immune system. Even more important, scientists say, is that genetically matched cells from patients will enable them to study complex diseases, like Alzheimer’s, in the lab.

Until now, the only way to get embryonic stem cells that genetically matched an individual would be to create embryos that were clones of that person and extract their stem cells. Just last week, scientists in Oregon reported that they did this with monkeys, but the prospect of doing such experiments in humans has been ethically fraught.

But with the new method, human cloning for stem cell research, like the creation of human embryos to extract stem cells, may be unnecessary.

“It really is amazing,” said Dr. Leonard Zon, director of the stem cell program at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital.

And, said Dr. Douglas Melton, co-director of the Stem Cell Institute at Harvard University, it is “ethically uncomplicated.”

For all the hopes invested in it over the past decade, embryonic stem cell research has not yet produced any cures or major therapeutic discoveries. Stem cells are so malleable that they may pose risk of cancer, and the new method of obtaining stem cells includes steps that raise their own safety concerns.

Still, the new work could allow the field to vault significant problems, including the shortage of human embryonic stem cells and restrictions on federal funding for such research. Even when scientists have other sources of funding, they report that it is expensive and difficult to find women who will provide eggs for such research.

The new discovery is being published online today in Cell, in a paper by Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and the Gladstone Institute for Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, and in Science, in a paper by James Thomson and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin.

While both groups used just four genes to reprogram human skin cells, two of the four genes used by the Japanese scientists were different from two of the four used by the American group. All the genes in question, though, act in a similar way – they are master regulator genes whose role is to turn other genes on or off.

The reprogrammed cells, the scientists report, appear to behave exactly like human embryonic stem cells.

“By any means we test them they are the same as embryonic stem cells,” Dr. Thomson says.

He and Dr. Yamanaka caution, though, that they still must confirm that the reprogrammed human skin cells really are the same as stem cells they get from embryos. And while those studies are underway, Dr. Thomson and others say, it would be premature to abandon research with stem cells taken from human embryos.

Another caveat is that , so far, scientists use a type of virus, a retrovirus, to insert the genes into the cells’ chromosomes. Retroviruses slip genes into chromosomes at random, sometimes causing mutations that can make normal cells turn into cancers.

In addition, one of the genes that the Japanese scientists insert actually is a cancer gene.

The cancer risk means that the resulting stem cells would not be suitable for replacement cells or tissues for patients with diseases, like diabetes, in which their own cells die. They would, though, be ideal for the sort of studies that many researchers say are the real promise of this endeavor — studying the causes and treatments of complex diseases.

For example, researchers want to make embryonic stem cells from a person with a disease like Alzheimer’s and turn the stem cells into nerve cells in a petri dish. Then, scientists hope, they may be able to understand what goes awry in Alzheimer’s patients when their brain cells die and how to prevent or treat the disease.

But even the retrovirus drawback may be temporary, scientists say. Dr. Yamanaka and several other researchers are trying to get the same effect by adding chemicals or using more benign viruses to get the genes into cells. They say they are starting to see success.

It is only a matter of time until retroviruses are not needed, Dr. Melton predicted.

“Anyone who is going to suggest that this is just a side show and that it won’t work is wrong,” Dr. Melton said.

The new discovery was preceded by work in mice. Last year, Dr. Yamanaka published a paper showing that he could add four genes to mouse cells and turn them into mouse embryonic stem cells.

He even completed the ultimate test to show that the resulting stem cells could become any type of mouse cell. He used them to create new mice, whose every cell came from one of those stem cells. Twenty percent of those mice, though, developed cancer, illustrating the risk of using retroviruses and a cancer gene to make cells for replacement parts.

Scientists were electrified by the reprogramming discovery, Dr. Melton said. “Once it worked, I hit my forehead and said, ‘it’s so obvious,’ ”he said. “But it’s not obvious until it’s done.”

Some were skeptical about Dr. Yamanaka’s work and questioned whether such an approach would ever work in humans.

“They said, ‘That’s very good with mice. But let’s see if you can do it with a human,”’ Dr. Zon recalled.

But others set off in what became an international race to repeat the work with human cells.

“Dozens, if not hundreds of labs, have been attempting to do this,” said Dr. George Daley, associate director of the stem cell program at Children’s Hospital.

Few expected Dr. Yamanka would succeed so soon. Nor did they expect that the same four genes would reprogram human cells.

“This shows it’s not an esoteric thing that happened in the mouse,” said Rudolf Jaenisch, a stem cell researcher at M.I.T.

Ever since the birth of Dolly the sheep, scientists knew that adult cells could, in theory, turn into embryonic stem cells. But they had no idea how to do it without cloning, the way Dolly was created.

With cloning, researchers put an adult cell’s chromosomes into an unfertilized egg whose genetic material was removed. The egg, by some mysterious process, then does all the work. It reprograms the adult cell’s chromosomes, bringing them back to the state they were in just after the egg was fertilized. Those reprogrammed genes then direct the development of an embryo. A few days later, a ball of stem cells emerges in the embryo. Since the embryo’s chromosomes came from the adult cell, every cell of the embryo, including its stem cells, are exact genetic matches of the adult.

The abiding question, though, was, How did the egg reprogram the adult cell’s chromosomes? Would it be possible to reprogram an adult cell without using an egg?

About four years ago, Dr. Yamanaka and Dr. Thomson independently hit upon the same idea. They would search for genes that are being used in an embryonic stem cell that are not being used in an adult cell. Then they would see if those genes would reprogram an adult cell.

Dr. Yamanaka worked with mouse cells and Dr. Thomson worked with human cells from foreskins.

The researchers found more than 1,000 candidate genes. So both groups took educated guesses, trying to whittle down the genes to the few dozen they thought might be the crucial ones and then asking whether any combinations of those genes could turn a skin cell into a stem cell.

It was laborious work, with no guarantee of a payoff.

“The number of factors could have been one or ten or 100 or more,” Dr. Yamanaka said in a telephone interview from his lab in Japan.

If many genes were required, the experiments would have failed, Dr. Thomson said, because it would be impossible to test all the gene combinations.

The mouse work went more quickly than Dr. Thomson’s work with human cells. As soon as Dr. Yamanaka saw that the mouse experiments succeeded, he began trying the same brute force method in human skin cells that he ordered from a commercial laboratory. Some were face cells from a 36 year old white woman and others were connective tissue cells from joints of a 69 year old white man.

Dr. Yamanaka said he thought it would take a few years to find the right genes and the right conditions to make the human experiments work. Feeling the hot breath of competitors on his neck, he was in his lab every day for 12 to 14 hours a day, he said.

A few months later, he succeeded.

“We did work very hard,” Dr. Yamanaka said. “But we were very surprised.”

No Review of Sweetener Over Cancer Fears

By Maggie Fox
Reuters

June 26, 2007

The US Food and Drug Administration says there is no need for an urgent review of the safety of aspartame, despite a new study showing the sweetener may cause cancer.

A US consumer group today called for the review after Italian researchers published a new study last week that showed aspartame - widely used in soft drinks - might cause leukemia, lymphoma and breast cancer in rats.

"This is the second study by the same lab showing that aspartame causes cancer in rats," Centre for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael Jacobson said.

Aspartame is used mostly in soft drinks but is also sold in packets to use in coffee, tea or on food.

Morando Soffritti of the Ramazzini Foundation in Bologna, Italy, and colleagues tested aspartame in rats, which they allowed to live until they died naturally.

Their study of more than 4000 rats showed a lifetime of eating high doses of the sweetener raised the likelihood of several types of cancer.

"On the basis of the present findings, we believe that a review of the current regulations governing the use of aspartame cannot be delayed," Soffritti's team wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which is published by the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"This review is particularly urgent with regard to aspartame-containing beverages, heavily consumed by children."

FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said the agency had not yet reviewed the study.

"However, the conclusions from this second European Ramazzini Foundation are not consistent with those from the large number of studies on aspartame that have been evaluated by FDA, including five previously conducted negative chronic carcinogenicity studies," Mr Herndon said.

"Therefore, at this time, FDA finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion that aspartame is safe as a general purpose sweetener in food."

Mr. Jacobson said researchers in previous studies all killed rats at the age of two years.

Allowing the rats to live longer may have been a better way to assess the natural risk of cancer, he said.

The CSPI said the Acceptable Daily Intake of aspartame in the United States was 50 mg per kilogram of body weight, equivalent to a 20 kg child drinking 2.5 cans of diet softdrink a day, or a 68 kilogram adult drinking about 7.5 cans a day.

The Italian researchers found a cancer risk at the very highest doses - double the US acceptable daily Intake.

Merisant, which makes Equal, said in a statement on its website: "The safety of aspartame has been confirmed by regulatory authorities in more than 100 countries, including the US Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, and the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Food, as well as by experts with the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organisation and World Health Organisation."

Mr. Jacobson said people should avoid the product for now. "People shouldn't panic, but they should stop buying beverages and foods containing aspartame," he said.

Canadians Advocate Boosting Vitamin D in Pregnancy


A Canadian medical society recommends pregnant women and nursing moms boost their intake of vitamin D dramatically

Janet Raloff

Canadian pediatricians certainly aren't shirking controversy when it comes to a vitamin guideline they've developed for pregnant women and nursing moms. They're asking these women to boost their intake of vitamin D dramatically—to 10 times the daily doses advocated by most health organizations in the States. This new prescription is aimed at combating rickets—leg deformations caused by soft bones—in youngsters who get too little of the sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D helps build strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium. Getting pregnant and nursing women to take more of the vitamin ensures that plenty will reach developing children.

In the past, most people had little trouble getting enough vitamin D—they just went outdoors where ultraviolet rays from the sun trigger chemical reactions in skin to make this vital nutrient. However, some people always had trouble making enough. Canadian kids at highest risk of vitamin deficits generally live in First Nations and Inuit communities. With sun-filtering pigments in their skin, and living at high latitudes, they must glean most of their vitamin D from the diet—generally a poor source—not the sun.

Most North American women—including those in the United States—eat diets delivering only about 100 international units, or IU, of vitamin D daily, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in Washington, D.C. That is half of what IOM recommends and a mere 5 percent of what Canadian pediatricians are now advocating for new and soon-to-be moms.

Although IOM's dietary recommendations are for the United States, the Canadian health establishment has tended to rubber stamp them. In this case, though, Canada's health agency took the unusual tack of signing off on a Canadian Paediatric Society proposal to boost the recommended intake by women who are pregnant or breast feeding to 2,000 IU per day. This new guideline appears in a consensus statement published in September by the society in its journal, Paediatrics & Child Health.

Soon the society will begin sending its new guideline to every provincial, territorial, and aboriginal health department across Canada, notes Marie Adèle Davis, the group's executive director. The goal, she told Science News Online, is to make sure all public health officials learn about it—not just pediatricians.

The higher recommendation equals the amount that IOM has designated as the safe upper limit for vitamin D's daily consumption. Most nutritionists don't really consider that value is a true ceiling for safe intake—especially since sunbathing on a bright summer day can generate 10,000 to 20,000 IU in the body without harm. Still, for political and legal reasons, most organizations shy away from advocating intakes near what IOM has flagged as a potential maximum for safe consumption.

Now a number of researchers suspect that intakes by pregnant and lactating women much below 2,000 IU per day could actually prove unsafe for child health.

Reinhold Vieth of the University of Toronto explained why, recently, to officials with Health Canada, a counterpart to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To prevent rickets, he argued, a baby needs 400 IU of vitamin D per day. And in many parts of Canada, he said, nursing women may require several thousand IU of vitamin D per day to get 400 IU into their breast milk. Vieth had been recruited by the Canadian Paediatric Society to help defend its proposed guideline to government officials.

U.S. physicians won't quibble over the 400 IU figure for babies and young children, notes pediatrician Frank R. Greer, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) committee on nutrition. Although the 1997 IOM report says 200 IU of vitamin D per day should be sufficient for anyone under 50—including children—few researchers buy that. "Everybody feels that we should be taking more than 200 IU," says Greer, of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Unlike the Canadian Paediatric Society, though, "We [at AAP] don't really have any influence on what pregnant and lactating women take," Greer says. "However, I can say that AAP's committee on nutrition has recommended to the board that we go back to [recommending] 400 IU for all children." That's the amount in a teaspoon of cod liver oil—the vitamin D supplement of choice throughout the early 20th century. Greer expects his committee's recommendation to be approved by AAP's board, perhaps within the next month.

Optimal needs vary

For most of the past century, nutrient guidelines have been set to prevent gross deficiencies—shortfalls that could cause disease. Those recommendations tended to represent minimally adequate intakes. Over the past decade, however, considerable debate has surrounded what vitamin D consumption levels would be optimal versus merely adequate.

The controversy has been fueled by a steady stream of studies that have emerged since the IOM set its vitamin D guidelines. Nearly all demonstrate substantial health benefits from relatively high intakes of vitamin D—amounts well in excess of what most individuals now get. Moreover, those benefits extend well beyond protecting bone. More vitamin D seems to diminish the risk of cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, muscle loss, viral infections—even gum disease.

Researchers gauge vitamin D sufficiency on the basis of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25-HD). This is not the form of the vitamin that is consumed—nor the hormonal form that the body actually uses—but an intermediary. To achieve optimal concentrations of 25-HD, growing numbers of nutrition and health scientists suggest, most of us would need intakes of 800 to 4,000 IU per day (see Vitamin D: What's Enough?).

How much vitamin D someone needs can vary widely, largely depending on the amount of skin that gets exposed to the sun each day—and for how long. Further complicating the picture, some skin is heavily pigmented, filtering sunlight out. Many people cover up with clothes or sunblock when they go outdoors. Still others live at high latitudes—as Canadians do—where little ultraviolet radiation makes it through the atmosphere during much of the year.

Even for women in the southern United States, however, "we've found that lactating women need about 6,000 IU a day to transfer enough vitamin D into their milk to supply adequate amounts to a nursing infant," says Bruce W. Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Nor are nursing moms the only individuals who may need relatively large doses of the vitamin. Hollis' research has shown that black women may sometimes need 4,000 IU a day for months at a time to compensate for little time outdoors, heavy skin pigmentation, and/or obesity—a factor that appears to diminish the body's ability to use vitamin D efficiently (see Understanding Vitamin D Deficiency).

Another reason for moms' supplementation?

In March, researchers at Harvard Medical School reported evidence that ample vitamin D diminishes the chance a child will develop asthma, a scourge who's incidence has been rising, especially in black and low-income communities (see Childhood Vitamin D—A New Benefit?). Recently, an additional putative benefit has emerged for pregnant women and their developing babies.

A study linked elevated risk of preeclampsia—high blood pressure that develops in some women during the last half of pregnancy—with low intakes of vitamin D. This condition, which can lead to miscarriage and even the death of the mother—ordinarily develops in some three to seven percent of first pregnancies.

Pittsburgh researchers enrolled 1,198 women who were pregnant for the first time and measured their blood concentrations of vitamin D within the first 22 weeks of gestation. Subsequently, 59 women developed preeclampsia. Blood values from all but four were compared to a similar group of recruits who maintained normal blood pressure throughout their pregnancies.

The higher a woman's blood concentrations of 25-HD, the lower her chance of developing preeclampsia—and that risk fell steadily and "strikingly" with increasing vitamin D values, Lisa M. Bodnar of the University of Pittsburgh and her colleagues found.

Moreover, babies whose moms had developed preeclampsia were far more likely to have low vitamin-D values than were children whose moms had maintained normal blood pressure. "These differences were found in our population despite widespread prenatal/multivitamin use in the 3 months before delivery," Bodnar's group reports in the September Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Black women face far higher risks of developing this hypertensive syndrome. Overall, black women are also far likelier than other ethnic or racial groups to have low blood levels of vitamin D. Against this backdrop, Bodnar's group says, "our data linking vitamin D deficiency and preeclampsia risk raises the intriguing possibility that vitamin D may contribute to racial disparities in this [syndrome]."

"The story of deficiency begins with vitamin D itself and its primary mode of synthesis, which is from sunlight," argue Adekunle Dawodu of the University of Cincinnati and Carol L. Wagner of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. In a commentary in the September Archives of Disease in Childhood, they report a resurgence of rickets around the world, not only in children at high latitudes, but also in the Arab world and Asia where culture or excessive temperatures may keep women and children indoors or covered up.

A shift from vitamin-D sufficiency to widespread deficiency has occurred rapidly—mostly throughout a half-century. The reason for it is clear, Dawodu and Wagner say: "insufficient sun exposure and inadequate corrective vitamin-D supplementation." They conclude, much as the Canadian Paediatric Society just has, that dosing moms during pregnancy and lactation "would achieve the double effect of preventing vitamin-D deficiency in both mothers and children." But unlike the Canadian society, they note that doses considerably higher than 2,000 IU may be necessary for some individuals and communities.

As a goal, achieving population-wide vitamin D sufficiency "may be one of the more important preventative public health initiatives," conclude Dawodu and Wagner.

Antibiotics and The Immune System

"Current Research indicates that 70% of the immune system is located in or around the digestive system." (-Digestive Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski)

The very trillions of beneficial bacteria that are actively working daily and helping you to maintain your immune system and health in your small intestine and colon are DESTROYED by ANTIBIOTICS! The loss of the beneficial bacteria means the disease producing organisms and the endotoxins they generate will thrive in your gastrointestinal tract, opening your body to more harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, and yeasts that are resistant to the antibiotics used. This can lead to chronic overpowering sicknesses including Asthma and Allergies and a host of other medical problems that WILL RESULT in a greatly SHORTENED LIFESPAN. At this point you will have no natural immune system (because the antibiotics have killed off major components of it) --just as most of the known world no longer has a strong, naturally functioning immune system. This is why the doctors and drug companies already have more antibiotics and artificial immune system boosting protocols standing by to use on you -- trying to destroy the organisms which were let into your body by the same antibiotics in the first place. It is a truly viscous cycle.

There is a natural solution to replacing those crucial beneficial organisms (beneficial intestinal flora). Probiotic supplements replace the intestinal flora destroyed by antibiotics so that the immune system can again begin to do the job it was designed to do.

Children Overprescribed Antibiotics For Sore Throat

ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2005) — Physicians prescribe antibiotics for more than half of children with sore throat, exceeding the expected prevalence of strep throat, and used nonrecommended antibiotics for 27 percent of children who received an antibiotic prescription, according to a study in the November 9 issue of JAMA.

Pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat) accounts for 6 percent of visits by children to family medicine physicians and pediatricians, according to background information in the article. The most common manifestation of acute pharyngitis is sore throat. The main bacterial cause of sore throat and the only common cause of sore throat warranting antibiotic treatment is group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (GABHS). GABHS are cultured from 15 percent to 36 percent of children with sore throat. To improve diagnostic accuracy and reduce unnecessary antibiotic treatment, it is recommended that a GABHS test be conducted prior to treating children with an antibiotic. Penicillin is the recommended antibiotic, but acceptable alternatives include amoxicillin, erythromycin (for penicillin-allergic patients), and first-generation cephalosporins.

Jeffrey A. Linder, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues conducted a study to determine the change in the rate and type of antibiotics prescribed to children with a chief complaint of sore throat, and the frequency of GABHS testing.

The researchers used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) from 1995 to 2003. The study included an analysis of visits by children aged 3 to 17 years with sore throat to office-based physicians, hospital outpatient departments, and emergency departments (n = 4,158), and of a subset of visits with GABHS testing data (n = 2,797).

The researchers found that physicians prescribed antibiotics in 53 percent of an estimated 7.3 million annual visits for sore throat and nonrecommended antibiotics to 27 percent of children who received an antibiotic. Antibiotic prescribing decreased from 66 percent of visits in 1995 to 54 percent of visits in 2003. This decrease was attributable to a decrease in the prescribing of recommended antibiotics (49 percent to 38 percent). Physicians performed a GABHS test in 53 percent of visits and in 51 percent of visits at which an antibiotic was prescribed. GABHS testing was not associated with a lower antibiotic prescribing rate overall (48 percent tested vs. 51 percent not tested), but testing was associated with a lower antibiotic prescribing rate for children with diagnosis codes for pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and streptococcal sore throat (57 percent tested vs. 73 percent not tested).

"In conclusion, we found that physicians prescribed antibiotics less frequently over time to children with sore throat. However, the overall antibiotic prescribing rate continues to exceed the expected prevalence of GABHS, and physicians continue to select unnecessarily broad-spectrum antibiotics. Unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are not benign: they increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, expose patients to adverse drug events, and increase costs. Perhaps unique among upper respiratory tract infections, clinicians have good, objective criteria in the form of GABHS testing to guide the antibiotic treatment of children with sore throat. Limiting antibiotic prescribing to children with a positive GABHS test result is a feasible goal for primary care physicians and an important step toward judicious use of antibiotics overall," the authors write.
###

(JAMA.2005; 294:2315-2322. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org)

Antibiotic Linked To Newborns' Intestinal Disorder

ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2001) — An Indiana University School of Medicine study has confirmed a linkage between erythromycin, one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, and the subsequent development of pyloric stenosis, a condition that affects one in 500 newborns. The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

Pyloric stenosis, which usually occurs in the first or second month of life, is a blockage of the outlet of the stomach that causes projectile vomiting, leading to weight loss and dehydration. It is the most common indication for abdominal surgery in infancy.

"The link between erythromycin and pyloric stenosis is an important finding which will make a difference to the health of babies," said the study's principal investigator, Barbara E. Mahon, M.D., M.P.H., a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine.

Using clinical data extracted from the Regenstrief Medical Record System -- a comprehensive electronic medical records system that gathers and stores data including diagnoses, radiology and operative reports, pharmacy records, and physician observations -- the researchers studied 14, 876 babies born between June 1993 and December 1999. They found that if given erthromycin during the first two weeks of life, babies were 10.5 times more likely to develop pyloric stenosis than babies who were not given the antibiotic.

"This large scale study could only have been undertaken with the vast amount of data available in the Regenstrief system," said Dr. Mahon. Co-authors of the study are Marc Rosenman, M.D. a health services research fellow at the Regenstrief Institute for Healthcare ,and Martin Kleiman, M.D., Ryan White Professor of Pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine.

The newborns were given erthromycin by mouth in a 10-to-14 day course, usually because of maternal chlamydia at the time of delivery. Erythromycin has had a long history as a useful, safe, and generally well-tolerated drug, the researchers reported. However, as a result of their study they say that the antibiotic should be used only with prudence in the first two weeks of life.

The IU School of Medicine study also showed that babies who received an erythromycin eye ointment, a common treatment for conjunctivitis, did not have a higher risk of pyloric stenosis.

Adapted from materials provided by Indiana University.

Are Antibiotics Killing Us?

For every cell in your body, you support 10 bacterial cells that make vitamins, trigger hormones, and may even influence how fat you are. Guess what happens to them when you pop penicillin.
by Jessica Snyder Sachs, Photography by Joshua Lutz

Chemotherapy Effective Against Cancer, But At What Cost?

On October 20th 2007, CNN.com featured an article describing the threat of future heart disease affecting women who had undergone chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer (http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/conditions/10/19/hfh.breast.cancer.heart/index.html?iref=newssearch). Unfortunately, it is not just chemotherapy for breast cancer patients that is linked to both immediate and long term health issues for patients. Chemotherapy is often a very effective treatment for cancer but can generate a host of other problems over the course of treatment and beyond.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the immediate side effects experienced during chemotherapy include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, and pain. The government organization acknowledges that long term effects of chemotherapy can range from kidney and lung damage, infertility, and shockingly even a secondary cancer years after the initial treatment (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/chemotherapy-and-you/page5). A research article published March 20, 2007 in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention entitled "Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Secondary to Cancer Chemotherapy" states that the aggressive chemotherapy credited with prolonging the lives of non-hodgkin lymphoma patients is directly linked to a number of those patients later developing acute myeloid leukemia (http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/16/3/377). Therefore, a powerful cycle of chemotherapy eradicates the original cancer, only to lead directly to the onset of a different kind of cancer several years later.

The same chemotherapy treatment referenced in the CNN article as a potential cause of heart disease is also known to cause secondary cancer. The American Cancer Society notes that Doxorubicin is so toxic that it will actually cause skin burns if it leaks from a vein during administration. Another chemotherapy drug, Cisplatin, can cause deafness and permanent kidney damage

NASA Funded Study Finds Exercise Could Help Women On Bed Rest

Short but intense sessions of exercise may help women on bed rest stay strong and recuperate more quickly, according to a NASA funded study by researchers at Ball State University, Muncie, Ind. The findings of the first comprehensive bed rest study focusing exclusively on women will help NASA develop more effective countermeasures to mitigate strength and muscle loss in female astronauts on long-duration missions to the International Space Station and, perhaps, someday to Mars.

It also may have implications for women on Earth confined to bed rest because of illness, injury or pregnancy.

"With NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson commanding the International Space Station now and astronaut Pam Melroy commanding the last space shuttle mission, we're reminded daily that women make up an important segment of our astronaut corps and are taking on more and more leadership roles," said Carl Walz, a former long-duration astronaut and head of NASA's advanced capabilities division in the agency's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Washington. "It's important that we look at how space travel -- microgravity, radiation, and other factors -- affects women and men differently."

Ball State's Human Performance Lab has been working with NASA for more than a decade to examine the impact spaceflight has on humans, according to Scott Trappe, the lab's director. He co-authored the study with fellow lab researcher Todd Trappe, his brother.

"Until we completed this study, we had no solid research on how women would adapt to long durations in space," Trappe said. "This information should have a dramatic impact for NASA in the coming years."

Conducted in Toulouse, France, the study was sponsored jointly by the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, the French space agency CNES, and NASA. Results were published recently in the Journal of Applied Physiology and Acta Physiologica.

The study examined 24 female participants to determine whether specific exercise regimens or nutritional supplements could prevent the loss of lower body muscle mass and strength.

The women spent 60 days on bed rest. They lay with their heads pointing downward at a 6-degree angle, which researchers believe most accurately simulates the weightless conditions of space. One group was put on an exercise regimen. A second group was put on a high-protein diet rich with leucine, an amino acid. The control group did not take part in any exercise or dietary protocols.

"When we looked at these women after two months, the difference in the physical condition among the three groups was undeniable," Trappe said. "The women who did not exercise lost nearly half their strength in some cases. What's more, the group who ate a high-protein diet but did not exercise lost even more muscle mass than the control group."

The exercise regimen included a 40 to 50 minute aerobic workout two or three times a week and 20-minute strength training sessions two or three days a week. While lying on their backs, the women did multiple sets of thigh and calf exercises using a flywheel device similar to a typical leg press machine at a gym. They also worked out on a vertical treadmill.

"The message for women and their doctors is that it really took very little exercise to make an impact," said Trappe. "The total time spent exercising was less than two percent of the time they spent in bed during the entire 60-day period. In the end, a little bit of intense exercise goes a long way."

Using a magnetic resonance imaging device, or MRI, researchers measured muscle mass in all of the study subjects after the 60-day period. They found that women in the control group lost 21 percent of the muscle mass in their quadriceps, and the nutrition group lost more than 24 percent, but the exercise group lost none. Results were similar for MRI scans of the calf muscle.

The loss of muscle strength was even more significant. Researchers tested strength using the flywheel device. Women who did not exercise during the study lost as much as 33 percent of their strength in squat exercises and 46 percent in calf press exercises. But the women who exercised maintained their strength.

NASA's Human Research Program is working to understand the health effects of spaceflight on astronauts in preparation for long-duration missions. "It could take six months to reach the surface of Mars, and we have to make sure our astronauts are healthy when they get there," Walz said.

UV light for cancer treatment

Ultra-violet (UV) light therapy could be used to destroy tumours, reported three newspapers (30 October, 2007). The articles are based on a laboratory study involving mice engineered to have ovarian cancer. These findings cannot be applied to people at present.

*

Ultra-violet (UV) light therapy could be used to destroy tumours, reported three newspapers (30 October, 2007) (1-3). Two newspapers (1,3) reported that UV light treatment eliminated ovarian cancers in five out of six mice, and greatly reduced the tumour size in the sixth mouse.
*

The newspaper reports were based on the findings of a study published online in the journal ChemMedChem (4,5). The study was carried out on laboratory mice with ovarian cancer to determine the efficacy of a new technology developed by the Newcastle research team which uses UV light to activate antibodies which specifically attack tumours. UV therapy (photocleavable 2-nitrophenylethanol (NPE) coated 145-2C11 antibody irradiated in vivo) was found to eliminate ovarian tumour in five out of six mice and greatly reduce the size of the tumour in the sixth mouse.
*

The newspaper reports, largely based on the press release (6), accurately outlined the nature of the research and stated that it was based on animal research. The research team plan to undertake clinical trials in on patients with secondary skin cancers in the future. Given the early stage of the research, it should be many years before a treatment is actually available.

Systematic reviews

Information staff at CRD searched for systematic reviews relevant to this topic. Systematic reviews are valuable sources of evidence as they locate, appraise and synthesize all available evidence on a particular topic.

There were no related systematic reviews identified on the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) or on the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE).
References and resources

1. How ultraviolet light can turn the heat on cancers. Daily Mail, 30 October 2007, p9.

2. 'Magic bullet' devised to beat cancer. The Times, 30 October 2007, p8.

3. New therapy targets cancers, not healthy tissues. The Guardian, 30 October 2007, p5.

4. Thompson S, Stewart R, Smith JA, Self CH. Light activation of Anti-CD3 in vivo reduces the growth of an aggressive ovarian carcinoma. ChemMedChem 2007;2:1591-3. DOI: 10.1002/cmdc.200700116

5. Self CH, Self AC, Smith JA, Self DJ, Thompson S. Light-directed activation of human T-cells. ChemMedChem 2007;2:1587-90. DOI: 10.1002/cmdc.200700200

4. Newcastle University. UV light improving chances of fighting cancer. Press Release, 30 October 2007.

'Drugs 'of no benefit' to hyperactive children'

Drugs given to hyperactive children offer no long-term benefit reported three newspapers (12 November 2007). The newspapers were generally accurate in their reporting of findings from a three year follow-up study following a randomised clinical trial. The studies conclusions appear reliable.

*

Three newspapers (1-3) reported that drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta, which are prescribed to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) offer no long-term benefit. The newspaper reports were previewing an edition of the BBC Panorama programme (4) due to be aired on Monday.
*

The reports are largely based on research referred to in an edition of the BBC programme Panorama. The programme discussed findings from four research papers published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry from the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (5-8). This Hitting the Headlines article focuses on the results relating to the three year follow-up of the MTA study, a randomised clinical trial which assessed four different treatment options for children with ADHD (5). The authors reported that all of the intervention groups (medical and behavioural treatments alone or in combination; usual community care) showed improvement in clinical outcomes at three years compared to baseline. However there was no significant difference in clinical outcomes between these treatment groups. The authors surmised that this could be due to an age-related decline in ADHD or changes in the use of medication during the follow-up period.
*

All the newspapers reported the main finding of the study accurately. However, no newspaper reported that all treatment groups showed an improvement in clinical outcomes from baseline.

Evaluation of the evidence base for the long-term effects of behavioural and medication treatments for children with ADHD
Where does the evidence come from?

The evidence comes from the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHA (MTA) which was conducted by collaborators working for the National Institute of Mental Health and was led by Dr Peter Jensen.
What were the authors' objectives?

To assess the long-term effects of behavioural and medication treatments for children with ADHD.
What was the nature of the evidence?

This was a three year follow-up report assessing long-term outcomes for 485 children who were included in an earlier randomised clinical trial of children diagnosed with ADHD. Most of the children included in the study were male aged between 10 to 13 years at three year follow-up. The primary clinical outcomes of interest were parent and teacher rated ADHD symptoms; parent and teacher rated oppositional defiant disorder (ODD); parent and teacher social skills rating; Wechsler Individual Achievement Test reading score and overall functional impairment. Other outcomes assessed were diagnostic status using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children IV and service use.
What interventions were examined in the research?

In the original randomised clinical trial the children were given either behavioural therapy, medical management, combined behavioural therapy and medical management or routine community care for 14 months. The study did not include any untreated control group.

After 14 months the children were able to receive any treatment based on availability and personal preference, regardless of what they were originally randomised to receive.
What were the findings?

At three year follow-up there was no significant difference in primary outcomes between children who received some form of medical management and children who received behavioural therapy or routine community care.

There was no significant difference in ADHD diagnosis between the intervention groups at three year follow-up.

At three year follow-up all of the intervention groups showed improvement from baseline in primary outcomes.

After the initial 14 month trial, medication use rates began to converge: decreasing medical management groups and increasing in the behavioural management group.
What were the authors' conclusions?

By 36 months the earlier advantage of 14 months medication was no longer apparent, possibly due to age-related decline in ADHD symptoms or changes in medication compliance/adherence or intensity.
How reliable are the conclusions?

The authors set out a clear objective and study outcomes were defined and determined a priori. Not enough information was provide to assess the quality of the original RCT however the four intervention groups were comparable at baseline in terms of important characteristics that could influence the results. The children followed up at three years appeared to be similar on key characteristics to those lost to follow-up. The statistical analysis adopted appears appropriate and the authors investigated the effects of co-morbidity factors. The authors also acknowledge that a limitation of the study was the uncontrolled use of behavioural therapy and medical intervention once the trial ended. Despite the limitations of the study the authors' conclusions are likely to be reliable.
Systematic reviews

Information staff at CRD searched for systematic reviews relevant to this topic. Systematic reviews are valuable sources of evidence as they locate, appraise and synthesize all available evidence on a particular topic.

There were no related systematic reviews identified on the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), however there were eight on the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) (9-16).
References and resources

1. Drugs 'of no benefit' to hyperactive children. Daily Telegraph, 12 November 2007, p10.

2. Danger drugs designed for schizophrenics used to calm children of ten. Daily Mail, 12 November 2007, p6.

3. Hyperactivity drugs 'stunt children's growth'. Daily Express, 12 November 2007, p17.

4. BBC. What Next for Craig? Panorama [Online]. 2007 Nov 12 [cited 2007 Nov 12]. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/7079233.stm.

5. Jensen PS, Arnold LE, Swanson JM, Vitiello B, Abikoff HB, Greenhill LL, et al. 3-year follow-up of the NIMH MTA study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2007;46(8):989-1002.

6. Swanson JM, Hinshaw SP, Arnold LE, Gibbons RD, Marcus S, Hur K, et al. Secondary evaluations of MTA 36-month outcomes: propensity score and growth mixture model analyses. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2007;46(8):1003-14.

7. Swanson JM, Elliott GR, Greenhill LL, Wigal T, Arnold LE, Vitiello B, et al. Effects of stimulant medication on growth rates across 3 years in the MTA follow-up. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2007;46(8):1015-27.

8. Molina BSG, Flory K, Hinshaw SP, Greiner AR, Arnold LE, Swanson JM, et al. Delinquent behavior and emerging substance use in the MTA at 36 months: prevalence, course, and treatment effects. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2007;46(8):1028-40.

9. Klassen A, Miller A, Raina P, Lee SK, Olsen L. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and youth: a quantitative systematic review of the efficacy of different management strategies. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 1999;44(10):1007-16. [DARE Abstract]

10. Silva RR, Munoz DM, Alpert M. Carbamazepine use in children and adolescents with features of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 1996;35(3):352-8. [DARE Abstract]

11. McGoey KE, Eckert TL, DuPaul GJ. Early intervention for preschool-age children with ADHD: a literature review. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 2002;10(1):14-28. [DARE Abstract]

12. Faraone SV, Biederman J. Efficacy of Adderall for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analysis. Journal of Attention Disorders 2002;6(2):69-75. [DARE Abstract]

13. Schachter HM, Pham B, King J, Langford S, Moher D. How efficacious and safe is short-acting methylphenidate for the treatment of attention-deficit disorder in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2001;165(11):1475-88. [DARE Abstract]

14. Gilmore A, Milne R. Methylphenidate in children with hyperactivity: review and cost-utility analysis. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety 2001;10(2):85-94. [DARE Abstract]

15. Purdie N, Hattie J, Carroll A. A review of the research on interventions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: what works best. Review of Educational Research 2002;72(1):61-99. [DARE Abstract]

16. Jadad AR, Boyle M, Cunningham C, Kim M, Schachar R. Treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 1999:341. Rockville, MD, USA: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. [DARE Abstract]

17. King S, Griffin S, Hodges Z, Weatherly H, Asseburg C, Richardson G, et al. A systematic review and economic model of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of methylphenidate, dexamfetamine and atomoxetine for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Health Technol Assess 2006;10(23).

'Weight loss drug increases chance of depression'

The weight-loss drug rimonabant increases the risk of anxiety and depression, reported four newspapers (16 November 2007). The reports were based on the findings of an analysis of four clinical trials that found rimonabant led to greater weight-loss than placebo, but was associated with a greater number of adverse events.

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Four newspapers (1-4) reported that the weight-loss drug rimonabant (sold as Acomplia) has been linked with an increase in the risk of anxiety and depression.
*

The reports were based on the findings of a well-conducted meta-analysis of four clinical trials (5). This indicated that rimonabant led to significantly greater weight loss than placebo, but that a higher proportion of patients given rimonabant stopped treatment for reasons of depressive mood disorder or anxiety. Adverse events were significantly more common in the rimonabant group.
*

All of the newspapers were generally accurate in their reporting of the authors' conclusions. However two newspapers (1,3) reported that participants given rimonabant were 40% more likely to become depressed or anxious, when the study actually reported a 40% increase in the reporting of adverse events. Three newspapers mention rimonabant and the risk of suicide (1-3), and two discuss the effectiveness of anti-obesity drugs more generally (2, 3), however these issues were not addressed by the research discussed here. Research on these issues is available elsewhere (6, 7).

Evaluation of the evidence base for the efficacy and safety of the weight-loss drug rimonabant
Where does the evidence come from?

The evidence comes from research conducted by Professor Arne Astrup and colleagues from Fredericksberg Hospital and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Funding was provided by grants from the Center for Pharmacogenomics, University of Copenhagen, The Oak Foundation, the H:S Research Foundation and Diabesity.
What were the authors' objectives?

To assess the safety and efficacy of the anti-obesity drug rimonabant.
What was the nature of the evidence?

This was a meta-analysis of four double-blind randomised controlled trials (RCTs), involving 4,105 participants, comparing rimonabant against placebo for the treatment of obesity. The majority of trial participants were women, with an average age of around 45 to 55 years. Average body mass index (BMI) at the beginning of the trials ranged from 33.9 to 37.3.

Outcomes of interest in the analysis were: mean weight change, proportion of patients achieving at least 10% weight loss, depression and anxiety scores on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), discontinuation of treatment dues to depressive mood disorders or anxiety, and adverse events. All of these outcomes were measured and analysed after one year of treatment.
What interventions were examined in the research?

In all four trials, participants who complied to a weight maintenance diet for four weeks were randomly assigned to receive either 5mg rimonabant, 20mg rimonabant or an apparently identical placebo daily. All participants were also required to follow a low calorie diet.
What were the findings?

The meta-analysis compared only the 20mg rimonabant treatment groups against the placebo groups.

Participants given rimonabant had a significantly greater reduction in weight after a year than those given placebo (4.7kg greater on average) and were around five times as likely to have achieved at least 10% weight loss.

There was no difference between the groups on the HADS depression score, but the average HADS anxiety score was significantly greater in participants receiving rimonabant. Participants given rimonabant were around 2.5 times more likely to discontinue treatment because of depressive mood disorders than those given placebo, and around 3 times more likely to discontinue because of anxiety.

Participants given rimonabant were 40% more likely to report adverse events or serious adverse events than patients given placebo.
What were the authors' conclusions?

20 mg per day rimonibant increases the risk of psychiatric adverse events - i.e. depressed mood disorders and anxiety - despite depressed mood being an exclusion criterion in these trials.
How reliable are the conclusions?

This was a well conducted meta-analysis in which the authors searched for and included all the relevant studies in the area and attempted to minimise bias in these processes. The included trials were assessed as good quality and all used a similar set of rules for the way in which participants were treated. Appropriate methods were used to analyse the study data, and the authors conclusions were in line with the findings of this analysis.

Though HADS anxiety scores were significantly higher for participants given rimonabant, average scores on this scale for both rimonabant and placebo groups appeared to be within the 'normal' range. Similarly, though significantly more participants given rimonabant discontinued treatment than those given placebo, in absolute terms, the proportions in each group were relatively small (3% vs. 1.4% due to depressive mood disorders; 1% vs. 0.3% due to anxiety).

Though rimonabant was associated with more serious adverse events, it is not clear what was considered a 'serious' adverse event.
Systematic reviews

Information staff at CRD searched for systematic reviews relevant to this topic. Systematic reviews are valuable sources of evidence as they locate, appraise and synthesize all available evidence on a particular topic.

There was one related systematic review identified on the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) (8). There were no related reviews on the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE).
References and resources

1. Weight-loss drug increases chance of depression. The Guardian, 16 November 2007, p13.

2. Weight-loss pill taken by 40,000 'can lead to suicidal thoughts'. Daily Mail, 16 November 2007, p7.

3. Slimming drug 'linked to rise in depression'. The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2007, p8.

4. Warning over weight-loss drug. The Independent, 16 November 2007, p6.

5. Christensen R, Kristensen PK, Bartels EM, Bliddal H, Astrup A. Efficacy and safety of the weight-loss drug rimonabant: a meta-analysis of randomised trials. Lancet 2007;370:1706–13.

6. Food and Drug Administration Endocrinologic and Metabolic Advisory. June 13th 2007. Briefing information, NDA 21-888 ZIMULTI (rimonabant) - Sanofi-Aventis. 2007.

7. Rucker D, Padwal R, Li SK, Curioni C, Lau DCW. Long term pharmacotherapy for obesity and overweight: updated meta-analysis. BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.39385.413113.25 (online publication 15 November 2007).

8. Curioni C, André C. Rimonabant for overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD006162. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006162.pub2

Beauty to die for: health hazards of cosmetics and skin care products revealed

Your medicine cabinet is one of the most dangerous areas of your house, and not for the reasons you may think. Lurking just behind your bathroom mirror, where all of your favorite beauty products are housed, is a virtual toxic nightmare. The growing list of synthetic ingredients manufacturers add to their products is turning the most innocent-looking shampoos and moisturizers into cocktails of toxins that could cause cancer or reproductive damage over years of sustained use. Modern cosmetics contain a host of dangerous ingredients, which would be more at home in a test tube than in our bodies.

Like most people, you probably assume that the ingredients found in beauty products have been thoroughly tested for safety well before they land on your grocery store's shelves. After all, the government has regulations in place for the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe. One would assume that the FDA would also be overseeing the cosmetic industry to ensure the health and safety of consumers. Unfortunately, the FDA has little power when it comes to regulating the ingredients found in your beauty products. In fact, the only people ensuring the safety of personal care products are the very people who govern the industry: The Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA). Scientists paid by the CTFA make up the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel (CIR) and are charged with regulating the safety of the industry's products.

In 2004, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the findings of a study it conducted regarding the safety of beauty care products. Comparing approximately 10,000 ingredients found in 7,500 different products against lists of known and suspected chemical health hazards, the research revealed that the CIR was falling tragically short of ensuring consumer safety.

Of the 7,500 products tested by the EWG, a mere 28 had been evaluated for safety by the CIR. The EWG found that one in every 120 products analyzed contained ingredients certified by the government as known or probable carcinogens and that nearly one-third of the products contained ingredients classified as possible carcinogens. Astoundingly, 54 products even violated recommendations for safe use that the CIR had put in place, yet these products are still available for sale today.

Of the products tested, the worst offenders were those containing the cancer-causing ingredients coal tar, alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids, and those containing the hormone-disrupting ingredient, phthalate.

Coal Tar
Seventy-one hair dye products evaluated were found to contain ingredients derived from coal tar (listed as FD&C or D&C on ingredients labels). Several studies have linked long-time hair dye use to bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

A research study conducted in 2001 by the USC School of Medicine found that women using permanent hair dye at least once a month more than doubled their risk of bladder cancer. The study estimates that "19 percent of bladder cancer in women in Los Angeles, California, may be attributed to permanent hair dye use."

A link between hair dye and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was established in 1992 when a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute found that 20 percent of all cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may be linked to hair dye use.

While the FDA has not stepped in to prevent the use of coal tar in beauty products, it does advise consumers that reducing hair dye use will possibly reduce the risk of cancer.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) & Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids are commonly used in products advertised to remove wrinkles, blemishes, blotches and acne scars. With consumer complaints of burning, swelling and pain associated with AHA and BHA flooding into the FDA, the regulatory body began conducting its own research about 15 years ago. The findings linked the use of AHA and BHA with a doubling of UV-induced skin damage and a potential increased risk of skin cancer.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, skin cancer has reached "epidemic proportions," with 1 million new cases occurring each year and one person dying every hour from the disease. The agency estimates that, at the current rate, one in five people will develop skin cancer over their lifetime.

The FDA's study findings were presented to the CIR, but the panel approved the continued use of AHA and BHA "in spite of serious safety questions submitted by a consumer group and a major manufacturer," according to an FDA spokesperson.

Even though one out of every 17 products analyzed by the EWG study contained either AHA or BHA (with nearly 10 percent being moisturizers and 6 percent sunscreens), the most that the FDA could do was suggest that products containing the ingredients carry a warning to use sunscreen and to limit sun exposure while using the product. A puzzling solution, since some of the products containing the dangerous ingredient are designed specifically for use in the sun.

Phthalates
Phthalates are industrial plasticizers widely used in personal care products to moisturize and soften skin, impart flexibility to nail polish after it dries and enhance the fragrances used in most products. Studies indicate that phthalates cause a wide range of birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairments, targeting every organ in the male reproductive system and causing problems ranging from low sperm count to serious genital deformities that can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

While the EWG only found four products with phthalate listed as an ingredient (all nail care products), there is no telling how many products actually contain it. The industry is not required to list fragrance ingredients or "trade secret" ingredients on products, and phthalates often fall into one of those two categories.

In September 2004, the European Union implemented a ban on all beauty products containing phthalates. California Assemblywoman Judy Chu has proposed a similar bill (AB 908) to be voted on later this year that would implement the same ban in the United States. Opponents of the bill, mainly the CTFA, argue that changing labeling processes would present a huge economic burden and could infringe on trade secrets. A similar bill failed just last year.

Four Steps of Action
1. Go to www.ewg.org and check out the health risks of your favorite products. EWG has compiled a guide of 7,500 beauty care products and has ranked them according to their ingredients' potential to cause cancer, trigger allergic reactions, interfere with the endocrine (hormonal) system, impair reproduction or damage a developing fetus.

2. Visit the FDA's website at www.fda.gov and familiarize yourself with the steps that you can take in order to file complaints or concerns about consumer products.

3. Visit www.safecosmetics.org to learn more about how you can become involved with bill AB 908 to ban phthalates in beauty products in the United States.

4. Check out my recommendations for all-natural and safe products for both you and your family at www.scmedicalcenter.com. All products mentioned have been used safely and with wonderful results by my patients for years.

19 November 2007

Finally the real solution to Heart Disease!

People are exercising like crazy, changing their diets, gulping supplements, and taking expensive drugs to lower their cholesterol. Yet none of this is making a dent in heart attack statistics. Why? Because high cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease. Here’s what does and what cures it...

Doctors are finally having second thoughts about cholesterol’s role in heart disease. The reason has been obvious for years. Cholesterol-lowering drugs have failed to make a dent in heart attack rates. And not one study has been able to show that these drugs do anything to lengthen a person’s lifespan. Yet, 20 percent of all Americans over 55 currently take a cholesterol drug and most MDs believe more people should be on them. But these doctors are barking up the wrong tree. Here’s why…

Cholesterol is innocent

I’ve been proclaiming cholesterol’s innocence since 1992, and plenty of convincing research confirms this. The real culprit is inflammation in the arteries, not cholesterol. Finally, the American Heart Association is beginning to agree.1 They’ve found that people with heart disease all have one factor in common, and it isn’t high cholesterol. It’s inflammation in their arteries.

This may be big news in the medical community, but I reported on this 11 years ago in ALTERNATIVES. In that article I gave an easy way to halt artery inflammation for about 5 cents a day. Readers who heeded my early advice will be way ahead of the game, if and when doctors announce an official about-face.
But given their bias against any vitamin therapy, doctors probably won’t advise this simple approach. Instead, their answer will be anti-inflammatory drugs, the next new “miracle cure.” Unfortunately, this approach will prove to be as misguided as cholesterol medications were.

The real solution to heart disease

The real solution is to halt the causes of inflammation, one of which is homocysteine, a harmless acid-like waste product that forms when you eat red meat and other protein foods. Homocysteine is quickly broken down by certain B vitamins, so it isn’t usually a problem. But if a person isn’t getting enough of these B vitamins (a widespread and disturbing problem in our country today), then homocysteine builds up to dangerous levels and “burns” the delicate tissue of artery walls. Plaque is then formed at the site of this inflammation as the body attempts to heal the damage.

How dangerous is this? Studies show that a high level of homocysteine is one of the most dangerous risk factors for heart disease. It increases a person’s risk of heart attack by 300 percent!

If you’re thinking a little extra B-vitamin intake would correct the problem, you’re on the right track. That’s exactly how some alternative MDs handle the problem. Studies as far back as 1988 show that this B vitamin lowers homocysteine levels back into the safety zone in just weeks. It has an 80% success rate. And the cost is about 5 cents a day.

The secret thyroid connection

But if you’re a good detective (and I think you are), you’re probably wondering what’s causing this B-vitamin deficiency in the first place? Closer investigation reveals that an underactive thyroid gland is at the root of the problem. This malfunction inhibits the absorption of B vitamins, causing homocysteine levels to skyrocket. The connection between the thyroid and heart disease was first mentioned in the 1976 book, Solved: The Riddle of Heart Attacks, by Dr. Broda Barnes. His research was largely ignored by the medical community, until the release of a study in 1999. At the Cleveland Clinic, researchers corrected the thyroid function in patients and saw homocysteine levels normalize on their own—without any need for vitamins.

Very few doctors, alternative or otherwise, are making this connection. But I believe if and when doctors get to the root of this problem, heart disease will nearly vanish. But that’s not all. An underactive thyroid and B-vitamin deficiency cause other health problems, too. It has been linked to Alzheimer’s... depression...and memory loss. Further symptoms include: Decrease in sexual desire (especially in males)...Obesity and weight-gain (because fats aren’t being metabolized adequately)...Cold hands and feet...A weak immune system (making you more vulnerable to colds, flu, respiratory infections, and cancers)... Constipation...and Allergies, among others.

The common cause of many health problems

Sound familiar? You’re right again. These are the very health problems driving Americans to doctors in droves. Yet hypothyroidism is often missed and misdiagnosed these days. Most physicians usually treat these symptoms as individual problems. Modern medicine has become so “specialized,” doctors no longer see the forest for the trees.

It may seem incredible that one tiny gland can cause so many problems. But when you realize how crucial the thyroid is to so many important bodily functions, it begins to make sense. The truth is, we’ve got an invisible epidemic on our hands. Millions of Americans have malfunctioning thyroids without even realizing it. Symptoms are so commonplace, they’re considered “normal.” But it will be years before doctors catch on.

What’s causing the problem?

Three significant agricultural changes that have occurred in our country over the past 50 years are creating mineral deficiencies in our food supply, which in turn are causing widespread thyroid dysfunction. (One of those minerals, iodine, is absolutely essential to thyroid health.) My Special Report, “The Hidden Cause of Heart Disease—And Its Easy Cure,” describes each of these changes and explains how you can easily correct their effects. Neither a doctor’s visit nor a prescription is required—you can cure this on your own. Here’s how…

Check your thyroid. There’s an easy test that quickly reveals if you have an underactive thyroid. You can do it at home. All you need is an ordinary thermometer and a few simple directions that are spelled out in my Report. You’ll get an immediate answer.

How to correct the problem. There are two simple remedies to make your thyroid function normally again. Both are described in my Report. They’re easy, inexpensive, and produce fast results. I’ll provide complete directions.

Results are quick and impressive

Many people are delighted to find that, once their thyroid is fully functional again, they begin to lose weight…experience less depression…have a stronger sex drive…and suffer fewer colds and infections. Most see significant improvement within a few days!

My advice: It will take a long, long time before doctors acknowledge the link between heart disease and the thyroid gland. Until they do, it’s up to you to take care of yourself and your loved ones. My Special Report will be a big help. Click here to learn more.

Just remember, stopping inflammation in your arteries won’t reverse heart disease, but it will limit the formation of new plaque. If you really want to stay safe from a heart attack or stroke, your next step should be to clean out the old gunk in your artery walls. This, too, is easy to do. And it’s so important that I’ve created another Special Report that will show you how to do it.

18 November 2007

Processed Vs. Whole Foods

Processed Foods
Generally speaking, processed foods are produced using manufacturing methods to transform raw ingredients into neatly packaged goods, which have a longer shelf life. Some of the artificial ingredients used include monosodium glutamate (MSG), flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oil, fillers, and artificial sweeteners. Usually, consumers can prepare them quickly allowing immediate intake. Disappointingly, they don’t offer much in nutritional value. Most likely, it's processed food if it's wrapped in several layers of plastic, cardboard, and/or foil, and it didn't exist until after 1903 when the hydrogenation process was invented. In addition to being excessively advertised, this food category is well funded by government subsidies. These foodstuffs are located on the shelves of the inside middle aisles in grocery stores. Examples of processed foods include sodas, cereals, and crackers.

Whole Foods
On the other hand, whole foods are grown in orchards, gardens, or greenhouses, are unprocessed and unrefined, and have a shorter shelf life. These foods are authentically flavorful, have vibrant colors, and rich textures. Moreover, they are full of the micronutrient vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. Typically, they require longer preparation times. In contrast, they receive very little media advertising, and are not well funded with government subsidies. When you are in grocery stores, these foods are mainly found on the store’s wall aisles to the sides and back of the store. Additionally, this food category can be found at farmers markets, and at fresh fruit and vegetable stands. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Four Basic Nutrients
The four essential basic nutrients are water, carbohydrates, fat, and protein. These four are the foundation of a healthy diet. In any case, all food is composed of various combinations of nutrients.

Carbohydrates supplying energy are found mostly in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, peas, and beans. They are converted into glucose providing energy for the body’s cells, the brain, and red blood cells, or stored for future use in the liver, or in body fat. Sixty percent of daily calories should come from mainly complex carbohydrates to provide the minimum recommended daily requirement of fiber.

Fats are the most concentrated source of body energy. Recently, too much negative attention has been focused upon fats. Fats are not an enemy and are needed throughout life to support growth and provide energy. Unfortunately, consuming excessive amounts of fat can contribute to many health problems.

Proteins are the building blocks making up body tissues, muscles, skin, and organs. When consumed, protein is broken down into amino acids providing the body with energy for various vital functions. Examples of good sources include meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Regrettably, health problems arise when you consume too much or too little of any nutrients. Instead, endeavor to consume a variety of foods to ensure you get a mix of nutrients. In summary, for a healthy well balanced diet make it a habit to choose unrefined whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, peas, beans, and whole-grains, as opposed to refined processed foods such as soft drink sodas, candy, cookies, and cakes.

Vitamin D Recommendation Missing From Breast Cancer Task Force Report on Black Women

By Mike Adams

Once in a great while, a report emerges from the medical establishment that's so myopic and devoid of wisdom that it boggles the mind. Today, a new candidate for the "most ignorant medical advice" emerges from none other than the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force -- a group of over 100 doctors and nurses who collectively have failed to publicly recognize any significant link between diet and breast cancer. By combining their ignorance into a "Task Force," they have managed to create a pompous-sounding document that purports to explain why black women die from breast cancer at much higher rates than white women; yet all they've really created is a self-serving presentation of medical myths grounded upon the false belief that breast cancer is essentially caused by a deficiency in mammograms.

In 113 pages of text containing 37 recommendations for how to solve the breast cancer problem with black women, there is not a single mention of vitamin D. You heard that correctly: This miracle nutrient which has been scientifically shown to prevent 77 percent of all breast cancers -- a nutrient that is deficient in virtually all black women living in North America -- apparently didn't even cross the minds of these 100 doctors, nurses and cancer "experts" who contributed to this highly publicized report. If it did cross their minds, it was certainly not considered significant enough to warrant a single mention in this 113-page report: Not even a footnote!

A remarkable gap in nutritional knowledge
For 100 doctors and health experts to somehow miss the significance of vitamin D in preventing breast cancer in black women seems nothing short of astonishing. As recent research has shown, the vast majority of black women at chronically deficient in vitamin D. How deficient? Consider this: 92.4 percent of their children are being born with vitamin D deficiencies so severe that many are diagnosed with rickets. This is even true among black women who were taking prenatal vitamins. (Click here to read the story.)

So why are black women so much more deficient in vitamin D than white women? The answer is right under our noses: Skin color! Darker skin pigmentation, you see, blocks ultraviolet light absorption which generates vitamin D in the skin. Since vitamin D is a substance that halts the growth of cancer tumors when circulating in the blood, it's not at all complex to understand why vitamin D deficiency in black women would result in higher breast cancer mortality.

This stuff is so simple to understand that I recently explained it to an eight grader who wrote it up for a school report. Yet somehow, these 100 doctors and health experts in the Chicago task force could not even rise to the level of an eight grade student when it comes to reporting on these concepts: There's no mention of vitamin D, sunlight, skin color or even information about how geographical locations alter breast cancer risk due to variations in sunlight intensity!

Is there no sunlight in Chicago?
Is there an IQ vortex in Chicago that sucks the intelligence out of doctors' heads? How did 100 doctors, nurses and cancer experts get together for a task force on breast cancer and completely miss the single most obvious cause of the disease in black women? Maybe they failed to read my own report, Breast Cancer Deception, where I clearly point out the link between sun exposure, skin color and vitamin D creation in the skin. (Or maybe they weren't interested in reading a report that didn't recommend more mammograms...)

Perhaps they have zero nutritional knowledge to begin with and aren't interested in learning anything new from someone else. Or maybe they're all just so steeped in mammography and chemotherapy (the vast majority of panel participants work in conventional oncology) that they are intellectually unable to acknowledge the value of any healing modality outside their own areas of expertise.

One thing is certain: They sure didn't invite any nutritionists to the task force. All it would have taken was one person standing up and saying, "Um, excuse me. Has anybody thought this might be related to vitamin D?" No such person, it seems, was invited to the task force. In fact, it was less of a "task force" and more of a self-serving oncology orgy fest that was clearly designed to sell one thing to black woman: Mammography.

Myth vs. Fact About Breast Cancer
Let's get to some facts about breast cancer. Forget all the hype and propaganda put out by the breast cancer industry and this astonishingly ignorant Chicago task force. Here's the truth about breast cancer you won't read in the mainstream media:

• 90% of breast cancer is preventable through changes in diet and lifestyle

• The average breast cancer patient is worth over $800,000 in revenues to the cancer industry

• Vitamin D, all by itself, can prevent nearly 4 out of 5 cases of breast cancer. See http://www.newstarget.com/021892.html

• You can get all the vitamin D you need absolutely free of charge by exposing your skin to sunlight. See http://www.newstarget.com/rr-sunlight.html

• Every woman who prevents breast cancer represents a LOSS of $800,000 in revenue for the breast cancer industry

• Chemotherapy causes permanent brain damage. See http://www.newstarget.com/020665.html
Also see: http://www.newstarget.com/021200.html

• There is no such thing as a pharmaceutical "cure" for breast cancer. The "search for the cure" is a marketing gimmick.

• Mammography harms 10 women for every 1 woman that it helps. See http://www.newstarget.com/020829.html

• All woman have cancer cells. Microtumors exist in healthy bodies. Simply spotting a microtumor on a mammogram does not mean the tumor is necessarily a health risk.

• Processed meat products containing sodium nitrite cause breast cancer. See http://www.newstarget.com/007024.html

• Many cosmetic products and personal care products contain cancer-causing chemicals.

• There is no motivation for anyone in the cancer industry to teach cancer prevention. Preventing cancer means losing repeat customers.

• Chemotherapy is only effective on 1% - 2% of patients. (Source: Ralph Moss)

• Black men and women are being exploited by the cancer industry as lucrative profit centers for chemotherapy. See http://www.newstarget.com/Report_Breast_Cancer_Deception_9.html

• See the CounterThink chemotherapy cartoon: http://www.newstarget.com/021462.html

Task force theories on breast cancer
The task force report did manage to come up with three theories on why black women are dying from breast cancer at much higher rates than white women. These three theories (along with my comments) are:

1. Black women receive fewer mammograms (Translation: Breast cancer is caused by a deficiency in mammograms...)

2. Black women receive mammograms of inferior quality (Translation: If black women just had better mammograms, they'd be fine...)

3. Black women have inadequate access to quality treatment once a cancer is diagnosed. (Translation: Black women need more chemotherapy...

These three theories are nothing short of ludicrous. If breast cancer was prevented by mammograms, most middle-class white women wouldn't have breast cancer at all! Let me state this bluntly: Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer. They only recruit breast cancer patients. In fact, mammograms actually cause breast cancer because they emit radiation and cause DNA damage in breast cells! See http://www.newstarget.com/019477.html

To claim that black women only need more mammograms and more chemotherapy is nothing less than a grand medical deception. Didn't anyone think to ask the obvious question about differences between white women and black women? Skin pigmentation! Darker skin blocks UV light. Less light means lower vitamin D production, and that means faster tumor growth. Is this so difficult for conventionally-trained medical doctors to understand?

I believe that every single person involved in this task force report should have their medical license stripped and be banished from practicing medicine ever again. In my opinion, their astonishing ignorance of vitamin D's effects on the cancer risk of black women is inexcusable. These people have a responsibility to know the basics when it comes to preventing cancer with nutrition, and when they remain utterly ignorant of these simple concepts, they post a dire risk to public health. Anyone foolish enough to follow their advice will only end up a victim of chemotherapy, radiation or useless cancer surgeries.

And why do I get so riled up about this topic? Because black women are needlessly dying of a disease that's simple to prevent, that's why! The system of organized medicine that controls the cancer industry today is preying upon black women, pretending to not know why they keep dying from cancer, and refusing to tell them the truth about how their skin color causes vitamin D deficiency. I'm outraged that my fellow brothers and sisters are being killed by organized medicine and denied access to truthful information about a simple, safe and absolutely free way to prevent 4 out of 5 cancers.

And I'm outraged at the racism of conventional medicine, where this white-dominated, male-dominated medical system blatantly exploits low-income black women for pure profit. In my opinion, it is a crime against all people of color. It is racist, unethical, and downright criminal. And for the Chicago breast cancer task force to curiously refuse to mention this obvious link between vitamin D and breast cancer mortality in black women is nothing short of criminal negligence.

These doctors and cancer "experts" have a responsibility to know what they're talking about. They are licensed by the state to practice medicine, after all, and yet they demonstrate absolutely no ability to cover even the fundamentals of anti-cancer nutrition that could save hundreds of thousands of women from breast cancer deaths.

Who are these task force "experts?"
By associating their names with this document, these doctors, nurses and oncologists have cemented their names in a document of great historical significance: It will be looked upon with ridicule and laughter in the near future -- held up as an example of the incredible arrogance and short-sightedness of doctors in an era of pharmaceutical-controlled medicine.

In my view, there is hardly a greater example of high-IQ stupidity in organized medicine today than this breast cancer task force document. It stretches the limits of credibility and makes one wonder just how a hundred health experts could remain so utterly ignorant of the healing power of sunlight and vitamin D.

Ultimately, what they've shown us is that doctors and oncologists are simply not qualified to talk about breast cancer. They apparently have no education in cancer prevention, no understanding of nutrition and absolutely no willingness to teach themselves the most important facts about how to really prevent breast cancer in black women.

Personally, I am ashamed of my fellow human beings who operate organized medicine today. They, too, are my brothers and sisters, but they remain intellectual infants, and they need to be put back into pre-school and not let loose practicing medicine on live patients. Somehow, those individuals who know the least have been put in charge of health care, and those who know the most about how to prevent disease have been labeled criminals or run out of the country.

The Dark Ages of modern medicine
This is how we have arrived at the system of medicine in America today, where we have the highest rates of degenerative disease of any nation in the world, where we pay the highest prices (by far) for medical care of any nation in the world, and we have an entire system of medicine that somehow, astonishingly, has not yet realized that what you eat and absorb is the primary determining factor of the health your body expresses.

We remain in the Dark Ages of modern medicine. What will lead us out of it? A return to nature, as usual. Look at the sun: Our answers are being broadcast across the universe, spanning the emptiness of space and illuminating our own skin. Look at the weeds in your yard, the bushes, trees and plants growing in the fields and forests nearby. Those are your medicines. Look at the foods growing out of the ground: The nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. These are your nourishment. Mother Nature provides all the medicine we need to slash cancer rates by 90%, and she doesn't charge a dime in royalties or patent fees. She keeps on giving, generation after generation, hoping that one day a race of human beings will walk this planet with the humility to listen to her.

Until that day comes, our fellow human beings will continue to suffer under the arrogance, greed and myopia so eloquently demonstrated by this Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force. Through the combined efforts of over 100 cancer experts, they have produced a document of remarkable ignorance, and one that shall forever serve as a valuable reminder of what went wrong with 21st century medicine and why so many human beings were lost to a disease that could be prevented for free.

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