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3 December 2008

Scientists Find Clues to Aging in a Red Wine Ingredient’s Role in Activating a Protein

Published: November 26, 2008
A new insight into the reason for aging has been gained by scientists trying to understand how resveratrol, a minor ingredient of red wine, improves the health and lifespan of laboratory mice. They believe that the integrity of chromosomes is compromised as people age, and that resveratrol works by activating a protein known as sirtuin that restores the chromosomes to health.

The finding, published online Wednesday in the journal Cell, is from a group led by David Sinclair of the Harvard Medical School. It is part of a growing effort by biologists to understand the sirtuins and other powerful agents that control the settings on the living cell’s metabolism, like its handling of fats and response to insulin.

Researchers are just beginning to figure out how these agents work and how to manipulate them, hoping that they can develop drugs to enhance resistance to disease and to retard aging.

Sirtris, a company Dr. Sinclair helped found, has developed a number of chemicals that mimic resveratrol and are potentially more suitable as drugs since they activate sirtuin at much lower doses than resveratrol. This month, one of these chemicals was reported in the journal Cell Metabolism to protect mice on fatty diets from getting obese and to enhance their endurance in treadmills, just as resveratrol does.

Though the sirtuin field holds considerable promise, the dust has far from settled. Resveratrol is a powerful agent with many different effects, only some of which are exerted through sirtuin. So drugs that activate sirtuin may not be as splendid a tonic for people as resveratrol certainly seems to be for mice.

The new finding concerns maintenance of the chromosomes, the giant molecules of DNA that make up the genome.

Each cell has six feet of DNA packed into its nucleus, carrying the 20,000 or so genetic instructions needed to operate the human body. Each cell must provide instant access to the handful of these genes needed by its cell type, but also keep the rest firmly switched off to avoid chaos.

Sirtuin’s normal role is to help gag all the genes that a cell needs to keep suppressed. It does so by keeping the chromatin, the stuff that wraps around the DNA, packed so tightly that the cell cannot get access to the underlying genes.

But sirtuin has another critical role, one that is triggered by emergencies like a break in both DNA strands of a chromosome. After a double strand break, sirtuin rushes to the site to help knit the two parts of the chromosome back together. But in this salvage operation, it leaves its post, and the genes it was repressing are liable to come back into action, causing mayhem.

This, Dr. Sinclair and his colleagues suggest, may be a fundamental cause of aging in mice and probably people, too.

The gene-gagging role of sirtuin was discovered in the 1980s by biologists studying yeast, a standard laboratory organism. Dr. Sinclair and Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found in 1997 that sirtuin could also repair a certain kind of genomic damage in yeast, and in doing so extended the yeast cell’s lifespan. But this particular kind of damage does not occur in mammalian cells, raising the puzzle of why extra sirtuin should be good for them.

Dr. Sinclair’s new report, if verified, resolves this problem by showing that sirtuin has retained its genomic repair role in higher organisms but that the repair is focused on a different kind of genomic damage — that of breaks in a chromosome.

These experiments “elegantly demonstrate” that sirtuin works in much the same way in mammals as in yeast, Dr. Jan Vijg of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine wrote in a commentary in Cell. The question now is whether sirtuin is a pro-longevity factor in mammals, he said in an e-mail message.

Ronald Evans, a biologist at the Salk Institute, said the new report was provocative but did not prove the case that the relocation of sirtuin was a cause of aging. Tests with mice genetically engineered to lack the sirtuin gene could show if the mice suffered from premature aging, as Dr. Sinclair’s idea would predict.

Dr. Sinclair said he agreed that the case for sirtuin’s role in aging had not been proved. “We are careful not to say this is the cause of aging, but based on everything we know it’s not a bad hypothesis,” he said.

It would be nice to test aging in mice that lack the sirtuin gene, as Dr. Evans proposed, but they die too young, Dr. Sinclair said.

Dr. Sinclair has been taking large daily doses of resveratrol since he and others discovered five years ago that it activated sirtuin. “I’m still taking it, and I feel great,” he said, “but it’s too early to say if I’m young for my age.”

New Solution for Colon Cancer

ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2008) — A colon cancer cell isn't a lost cause. Vitamin D can tame the rogue cell by adjusting everything from its gene expression to its cytoskeleton. In the Nov. 17 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, Ordóñez-Morán et al. show that one pathway governs the vitamin's diverse effects. The results help clarify the actions of a molecule that is undergoing clinical trials as a cancer therapy.

Vitamin D stymies colon cancer cells in two ways. It switches on genes such as the one that encodes E-cadherin, a component of the adherens junctions that anchor cells in epithelial layers. The vitamin also induces effects on the cytoskeleton that are required for gene regulation and short-circuiting the Wnt/b-catenin pathway, which is overactive in most colon tumors. The net result is to curb division and prod colon cancer cells to differentiate into epithelial cells that settle down instead of spreading.
To delve into the mechanism, the team dosed colon cancer cells with calcitriol, the metabolically active version of vitamin D. Calcitriol triggered a surge of calcium into the cells and the subsequent switching on of RhoA–RhoGTPases, which have been implicated in the cytoskeletal changes induced by vitamin D. The activated RhoA in turn switched on one of its targets, the rho-associated coiled kinase (ROCK), which then roused two other kinases. Each step in this nongenomic pathway was necessary to spur the genomic responses, the researchers showed. The team also nailed down the contribution of the vitamin D receptor (VDR). The receptor was crucial at the beginning of the pathway, where it permitted the calcium influx, and at the end, where it activated and repressed genes.
The study is the first to show that vitamin D's genomic and nongenomic effects integrate to regulate cell physiology. One question the researchers now want to pursue is whether VDR from different locations—the nucleus, the cytosol, and possibly the cell membrane—has different functions in the pathway.
Reference: Ordóñez-Morán, P., et al. 2008. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200803020.

Exercise Stops Stem Cell Drop in Middle Age

A new study confirms that exercise can reverse the age-related decline in the production of neural stem cells in the hippocampus of the mouse brain. This may happen because exercise restores a brain chemical which promotes the production and maturation of new stem cells.

Neural stem cells and progenitor cells differentiate into a variety of mature nerve cells which have different functions. There is evidence that when fewer new stem or progenitor cells are produced in the hippocampus, it can result in impairment of the learning and memory functions.

The researchers built on earlier studies that found that the production of stem cells in the area of the hippocampus known as the dentate gyrus drops off dramatically by the time mice are middle age, and that exercise can slow that trend.

They found that exercise significantly slows down the loss of new nerve cells in the middle-aged mice. In fact, they discovered that production of neural stem cells improved by approximately 200 percent in active mice. In addition, the survival of new nerve cells increased by 170 percent and growth by 190 percent, compared to sedentary middle-aged mice. Exercise also significantly enhanced stem cell production and maturation in the young mice.

Science Daily November 27, 2008

25 November 2008

Broccoli Fights Lung Cancer

According to a new study, broccoli appears to lower the risk of lung cancer in smokers and ex-smokers.

A research team studied lung-cancer patients and people without the disease who had similar diets and smoking habits. Among smokers, the protective effect of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli ranged from a 20 percent reduction in risk to a 55 percent reduction, depending on the type of vegetable consumed and the duration and intensity of smoking.

Raw vegetables were the only kind found to offer protection to current smokers.

Sources: November 19, 2008

Should Cancer Drugs Be Used to Treat Diabetics?

Two common cancer drugs have been shown to both prevent and reverse type 1 diabetes in a mouse model of the disease. The drugs are imatinib (marketed as Gleevec) and sunitinib (marketed as Sutent). Both were found to put type 1 diabetes into remission in 80 percent of the test mice and work permanently in 80 percent of those that go into remission.

So, should they be hailed as a new miracle treatment? I wouldn’t be so hasty. Gleevec, for example, kills heart muscle cells and can cause severe congestive heart failure. If the cure is worse than the disease, this doesn’t seem to be a great benefit.

A better way is to prevent type 1 diabetes in the first place, using natural means like vitamin D.

Sources: November 18, 2008

Prominent Physician Advises Against Flu Shots

Dr. Donald Miller, a cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington, recommends avoiding the flu shot and taking vitamin D instead. According to Dr. Miller, “Seventy percent of doctors do not get a flu shot.”

Health officials say that every winter 36,000 people will die from it. But the National Vital Statistics Reports compiled by the CDC show that only 1,138 deaths a year occur due to influenza alone -- more than 34,000 of the “36,000″ flu deaths are actually pneumonic and cardiovascular deaths.

There is also a lack of evidence that young children benefit from flu shots. In fact, a systematic review of 51 studies involving 260,000 children age 6 to 23 months found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo. But there is also a risk of harm from the flu vaccine itself, particularly from the mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde it contains.

Eco Child’s Play November 18, 2008

Why Vaccine Injured Kids are Rarely Compensated

by Barbara Loe Fisher

On Nov. 14, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 into law, instituting first-time vaccine safety reforms in the U.S. vaccination system and creating the first no-fault federal vaccine injury compensation program alternative to a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers and pediatricians. Twenty-two years later, on Nov. 18, 2008, I made a statement to the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV) and questioned whether the compensation program is fatally flawed and so broken that it should be repealed. Many parents are wondering whether it would be better to return to civil court without restrictions to sue vaccine manufacturers and doctors for injuries and deaths their children suffered after receiving federally recommended vaccines.

During its two-decade history, two out of three individuals applying for federal vaccine injury compensation have been turned away empty-handed even though to date $1.8 billion has been awarded to more than 2,200 plaintiff's out of some 12,000 who have applied. Today, nearly 5,000 vaccine injury claims are sitting in limbo because they represent children, who suffered brain and immune system dysfunction after vaccination but have been diagnosed with regressive autism, which is not recognized by the program as a compensable event. There is $2.7 billion sitting in the Trust Fund which could have been awarded to vaccine victims.

At the time of the law's creation in 1986, Congress said they were committed to setting up a fair, expedited, non-adversarial, less traumatic, less expensive no-fault compensation mechanism alternative to civil litigation. But Congress also acknowledged that any legislation providing liability protection must also be equally committed to preventing vaccine harm. The Act contains strong safety provisions, including first-time mandates for doctors to record and report serious health problems, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths after vaccination and give parents written benefit and risk information before a child is vaccinated.

But few of the safety provisions have been enforced and, as I testified in Congress in 1999 and again at the Nov. 18 ACCV meeting, there has been a betrayal of the promise that was made to parents about how the compensation program would be implemented. Obtaining compensation has become a highly adversarial, time-consuming, traumatic and expensive process for families of vaccine injured children and far too many vaccine victims have been denied compensation while vaccine makers and doctors have enjoyed liability protection and dozens of doses of nine new vaccines have been added to the childhood vaccine schedule.

I pointed out that federal court judges are beginning to look back at the legislative history of the Act, which so clearly affirms the intent of Congress when creating it. In recent court decisions, judges have agreed with parents and their attorneys that the compensation program has become far too difficult for plaintiffs. A recent state Supreme Court ruling also reiterated that Congress never intended to shield vaccine manufacturers from ALL liability for vaccine injuries and deaths when it could be demonstrated that a safer product could have been marketed.

In a Supreme Court of Georgia ruling on October 6, 2008 in American Home Products v. Ferrari, the justices unanimously held that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act does not give a vaccine manufacturer blanket immunity from vaccine injury lawsuits if it can be proven that the company could have made a safer vaccine. Georgia Supreme Court Justice George Carley wrote that the 1986 law and "the congressional intent behind it shows that the Vaccine Act does not pre-empt all design defect claims." He added that Congress did not "use language which indicates that use of the compensation system is mandatory" but only "an appealing alternative" to the courts.

JusticeCarley wrote that there is no evidence that "FDA approval alone renders a vaccine unavoidably safe" and said "We hesitate to hold that a manufacturer is excused from making changes it knows will improve its product merely because an older, more dangerous version received FDA approval," adding that to do so would have "the perverse effect" of granting complete immunity from liability to an entire industry and he concluded that "in the absence of any clear and manifest congressional purpose to achieve that result, we must reject such a far-reaching interpretation."

During the ACCV meeting, longtime plaintiff's attorney Sherry Drew gave a moving description of the suffering that families with vaccine injured children endure and, during public comment at the end of the meeting, Jim Moody, of SafeMinds, and Vicky Debold, RN, PhD joined me in urging the Committee to recommend to the new Secretary of DHHS that more vaccine injured children be compensated. This was echoed by outgoing parent ACCV member Tawny Buck, of Alaska, who has a DPT vaccine injured daughter and new ACCV parent member Sarah Hoiberg, of Florida, who has a DTaP vaccine injured daughter.

In the 1986 Vaccine Injury Act, the Institute of Medicine was directed to review the medical literature for scientific evidence that vaccines can cause injury and death, which resulted in landmark reports to Congress in 1991 and 1994 providing that evidence. IOM announced at the ACCV meeting that it has recently been contracted by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to assemble a Committee of scientific experts to review of the medical literature for evidence regarding the biological mechanisms for injury and death in association with varicella zoster (chicken pox), hepatitis B, meningococcal and HPV vaccine. There will be several public workshops during the Committee's two-year study.

NVIC has been calling for basic science research into the biological mechanisms of vaccine injury and death for more than two decades. Without understanding how and why vaccines can cause brain and immune system dysfunction, there will be no way to develop pathological profiles to help scientifically confirm whether or not an individual has been injured or died from vaccination.

The truth about vaccine risks lies in the science, properly designed and conducted. The upcoming IOM review may be hampered by a lack of biological mechanism studies published in the medical literature but the review is also an opportunity to point the way to fill in those gaps in knowledge and the need for additional research that could become part of a national vaccine safety research agenda.

In the absence of scientific certainty, all children who regress into poor health after vaccination should be given a fair hearing in the federal vaccine injury compensation program and generously compensated when no other plausible cause can be found for what happened to them after vaccination. Congress intended the vaccine injury compensation program to be non-adversarial, fair, generous and humane. If it cannot function the way it was intended to function, then parents have every right to call for its repeal and a return to unrestricted lawsuits.

National Vaccine Information Center

Vaccine-Related Chronic Fatigue Syndrome In An Individual Demonstrating Aluminium Overload

cienceDaily (Nov. 18, 2008) — A team of scientists have investigated a case of vaccine-associated chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and macrophagic myofasciitis in an individual demonstrating aluminium overload.
This is the first report linking aluminium overload with either of the two conditions and the possibility is considered that the coincident aluminium overload contributed significantly to the severity of these conditions in a patient.
The team, led by Dr Chris Exley, of the Birchall Centre at Keele University in Staffordshire, UK, has found a possible mechanism whereby vaccination involving aluminium-containing adjuvants could trigger the cascade of immunological events that are associated with autoimmune conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and macrophagic myofasciitis.
The CFS in a 43-year-old man, with no history of previous illness, followed a course of five vaccinations, each of which included an aluminium-based adjuvant. The latter are extremely effective immunogens in their own right and so improve the immune response to whichever antigen is administered in their presence. While the course of vaccinations was cited by an industrial injuries tribunal as the cause of the CFS in the individual, it was not likely to be a cause of the elevated body burden of aluminium. The latter was probably ongoing at the time when the vaccinations were administered and it is proposed that the cause of the CFS in this individual was a heightened immune response, initially to the aluminium in each of the adjuvants and thereafter spreading to other significant body stores of aluminium.
The result was a severe and ongoing immune response to elevated body stores of aluminium, which was initiated by a course of five aluminium adjuvant-based vaccinations within a short period of time. There are strong precedents for delayed hypersensitivity to aluminium in children receiving vaccinations which include aluminium-based adjuvants, with as many as 1% of recipients showing such a response.
While the use of aluminium-based adjuvants may be safe, it is also possible that for a significant number of individuals they may represent a significant health risk, such as was found in this case. With this in mind the ongoing programme of mass vaccination of young women in the UK against the human papilloma virus (HPV) with a vaccine which uses an aluminium based adjuvant may not be without similar risks.
Recent press coverage of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome has highlighted the potentially debilitating nature of this disease and related conditions. The cause of CFS is unknown.
Adapted from materials provided by Keele University, via AlphaGalileo.

26 percent of sleepless children become overweight

Universite de Montreal researchers have found that 1 quarter of children who sleep fewer than 10 hours a night become overweight by age 6

Between the ages of six months and six years old, close to 90 percent of children have at least one sleep-related problem. Among the most common issues are night terrors, teeth-grinding and bed-wetting.

For the majority, it's simply a stage that passes. But at least 30 percent of children in this age group have difficulties sleeping six consecutive hours – either because they can't fall into slumber or they can't stay asleep. While the effects of lack of sleep on learning are well documented, researchers at the Université de Montréal have found sleepless children can become overweight and hyperactive.

Jacques Montplaisir, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and director of Sleep Disorders Center at Sacré-Coeur Hospital said that 26 percent of children that sleep fewer than 10 hours a night between two and half years and six years are overweight. The figure drops to 15 percent of those that sleep 10 hours and falls to 10 percent among those that sleep 11 hours.

The research team analyzed a sample of 1,138 children and found: 26 percent of kids who didn't sleep enough were overweight, 18.5 percent carried extra weight, while 7.4 percent were obese.

The relationship between sleep and weight could be explained by a change in the secretion of hormones that's brought on by lack of sleep. "When we sleep less, our stomach secretes more of the hormone that stimulates appetite," Montplaisir explains. "And we also produce less of the hormone whose function is to reduce the intake of food."

Naps don't compensate for nightly lack of sleep, Montplaisir pointed out. According to the same study, inadequate sleep could also lead to hyperactivity. Twenty-two percent of children who slept fewer than 10 hours at age two and a half suffered hyperactivity at six years old, which is twice the rate seen in those who slept 10 to 11 hours per night.

Is it possible that hyperactive children sleep less or that under-slept children become hyperactive? According to Montplaisir, the second scenario is correct. "In adults, inadequate sleep translates into sleepiness, but in children it creates excitement," he says.

Children were also given a cognitive performance test in which they had to copy a picture using blocks of two colours. Among the children who lacked sleep, 41 percent did poorly, whereas only 17 to 21 percent of children with 10 or 11 hours of sleep per night performed badly.

Problems experienced in childhood risk continuing into later years if nothing is done and Montplaisir suggests a new specialty in which sleep problems can be nipped in the bud.


What You Need to Know About Farmed Fish

By Bob Zimway
La Vida Locavore, November 17, 2008
Straight to the Source

Enjoy that wild salmon, it could be extinct-- or at least unobtainable-- in your lifetime. This is the message I get the more I look into it. It's one reason why I write on the behalf of wild salmon, because it is so good as a food, and such an inspiring work of nature, but it is becoming so rare. What would the Pacific Northwest, my home, be like without it? The rivers would seem barren. The orcas in the ocean would starve and diminish. The Web of Life would fray badly.
And it is fraying now.

What are the alternatives?

Declining ocean fish stocks have led to a rapid growth in fish farming. Let's see how that's working out.
Think farmed fish are the answer? Think again:

The total world aquaculture production contributes to the global fish supply. Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food sectors, with production increasing from 10 million tonnes in 1990 to 29 million tonnes in 1997 (FAO, 1999). More than 220 species of finfish and shellfish are farmed today.

However, carnivorous farmed fish are fed on high levels of fish meal and fish oil and require a fish biomass input superior to the fish biomass produced. For the ten species of fish most commonly farmed , an average of 1.9kg of wild fish is required for every kilogram of fish raised. Unfortunately, there is an increase in the production trend of carnivorous fish (such as salmon or shrimp), rather than herbivorous or filter feeder fish. Small pelagic fish mainly provide the fish meal and fish oils used for aquaculture feed. Aquaculture's growing needs increase pressures existing on wild fisheries for small pelagic fish, which already suffer from overexploitation and are strained by climate changes resulting from the El Niño warming effect.

Pelagic fish are oily fish that live in the deep sea. This group includes herring, sardines and anchovies. Perfectly good fish in their own right, less likely to contain heavy metals as do the larger predator species, and in my opinion what we should be eating instead of tuna and farmed salmon.

Fish as food and fish food; a redundant article perhaps but I feel the need to show how the message is coming in from many authoritative sources:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One-third of the world's ocean fish catch is ground up for animal feed, a potential problem for marine ecosystems and a waste of a resource that could directly nourish humans, scientists said on Wednesday.

The fish being used to feed pigs, chickens and farm-raised fish are often thought of as bait, including anchovies, sardines, menhaden and other small- to medium-sized species, researchers wrote in a study to be published in November in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources.

These so-called forage fish account for 37 percent, or 31.5 million tons, of all fish taken from the world's oceans each year, the study said. Ninety percent of that catch is turned into fish meal or fish oil, most of which is used as agricultural and aquacultural feed.

Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and a professor at Stony Brook University in New York, called these numbers "staggering."

A recent study (pdf) on salmon mortality in the Columbia and Fraser Rivers has put the spotlight on the effects of farmed salmon lice that infest wild smolts coming out of the Fraser. A 2005 study found a correlation between proximity of fish farms and lice infestation. The fish farm industry refutes that and says that it is closely monitoring lice in its rearing pens. They apply lice killer, how and how much, I don't know, and what effect the chemicals have on the fish and on fish-as-food I don't know. But it's troubling.

Ocean Fish in Steep Decline Fish farming get its food from the oceans. This fact leads one to ask how the sources of the world's wild fish are doing. Bummer.

A bleak warning from the UK:

A hidden catastrophe is unfolding off the coasts of Britain which could leave our seas filled with only algae and jellyfish, a leading conservation organisation warns today. The Marine Conservation Society says severe overfishing is the biggest environmental threat facing Britain and is having a profound effect on marine ecosystems. The warning comes in Silent Seas, a report released as the government prepares its marine bill for parliament.

The report comes the day after the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas, which advises Europe's politicians on fish stocks, warned that parts of the North Sea should be closed to mackerel fishing because stocks of the species could be on the brink of collapse.

Simon Brockington, head of conservation at the MCS, said: "There's a moral imperative: we simply shouldn't be living in such a way that drives species to extinction."

What's even worse is how the food-fish are obtained: trawling, where the ocean floor is scoured of everything, brought to the surface, picked through for say, shrimp, and then the other 95% of sea life, now dead, are thrown back.

An excellent Nat Geo article describes a harrowing decline in valauble food species, exemplified by the crash of the bluefin tuna

Once, giant bluefin migrated by the millions throughout the Atlantic Basin and the Mediterranean Sea, their flesh so important to the people of the ancient world that they painted the tuna's likeness on cave walls and minted its image on coins.

But, uh oh, bluefin tuna makes the best sushi.

Over the past decade, a high-tech armada, often guided by spotter planes, has pursued giant bluefin from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, annually netting tens of thousands of the fish, many of them illegally. The bluefin are fattened offshore in sea cages before being shot and butchered for the sushi and steak markets in Japan, America, and Europe. So many giant bluefin have been hauled out of the Mediterranean that the population is in danger of collapse. Meanwhile, European and North African officials have done little to stop the slaughter.

"My big fear is that it may be too late," said Sergi Tudela, a Spanish marine biologist with the World Wildlife Fund, which has led the struggle to rein in the bluefin fishery. "I have a very graphic image in my mind. It is of the migration of so many buffalo in the American West in the early 19th century. It was the same with bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean, a migration of a massive number of animals. And now we are witnessing the same phenomenon happening to giant bluefin tuna that we saw happen with America's buffalo. We are witnessing this, right now, right before our eyes."

And that is just one species.

Popular species such as cod have plummeted from the North Sea to Georges Bank off New England. In the Mediterranean, 12 species of shark are commercially extinct, and swordfish there, which should grow as thick as a telephone pole, are now caught as juveniles and eaten when no bigger than a baseball bat. With many Northern Hemisphere waters fished out, commercial fleets have steamed south, overexploiting once teeming fishing grounds.

Africa's and Asia's surrounding seas are in steep decline. It's happening eveywhere. Bringing the crisis home, here's a bit of the fraying fabric that strikes the hearts of many in the Pacific Northwest. San Juan Islands orcas starving for lack of food.

Right now, looking at the mess we're in in every direction, I'm beginning to get overwhelmed by how bad it is on every front. Economy, energy, food, climate, species extinction, population... population? No one talks about that anymore. I wonder though, when we will....

I'll leave it here.

UPDATE: Here's more on farmed fish problems. Farmed fish have been shown to produce sea lice that harm wild stocks, and the Canadian government has taken this and other farmed fish issues seriously. Last week a production quota scandal arose over Canadian farmed fish.

A central-coast salmon-farming operation has drawn the wrath of environmentalists for violating its licence by pumping out unsustainably high numbers of fish. Living Oceans Society said Monday it was "appalling" that government documents show Mainstream Canada salmon farm sites in the Broughton Archipelago produced as much as twice the tonnage allowed in their licences.

Production limits are supposed to minimize the impact that animal waste from fish farms will have on the local environment, reduce the risks of hyper-concentrations of sea lice, and minimize the health risks that overcrowded sea pens would pose to the fish themselves.

11 November 2008

Do You Suffer From Medication Overuse Headaches?

According to a series of international papers, there is a critical need to review current treatment strategies for the increasingly common problem of medication overuse headaches (MOH).

MOH, previously known as rebound headache, drug-induced headache or drug-misuse headache, is a headache that occurs at least 15 days a month when patients overuse medication.
In the U.S., 60 percent of people with chronic daily headaches attending headache clinics have MOH. Data from a physician study suggests that it may be the third most frequent type of headache, after migraines and tension headaches.

Research has found that people are seven times more likely to suffer from chronic headaches if they use analgesics daily or almost daily for more than a month. But there are no standardized treatment guidelines for MOH.


* Science Daily November 5, 2008

Depression and Anxiety Make Chronic Pain Worse

People with chronic pain report more intense pain and related disability if they are also experiencing depression, anxiety, or both. Left untreated, these conditions can have a devastating and profoundly negative impact on people with chronic pain.
In a new study, researchers looked for associations between depression and anxiety, and measures of pain intensity, pain-related disability, and quality of life. They assessed 500 chronic pain patients; 20 percent had pain plus depression, 3 percent had pain and anxiety, and 23 percent had all three conditions.

When the participants reported how many days in the last 3 months they had been unable to perform usual activities, those with only pain answered 18 disability days on average. In contrast, those with pain plus anxiety and those with pain plus depression averaged 32 and 38 disability days, respectively. Those with pain plus both anxiety and depression averaged nearly 43 disability days. This group also reported the greatest pain severity.


* Reuters November 5, 2008

Does the Flu Shot Even Work?

Only about 1,000 people die directly from the flu virus in the U.S each year. But the government claims 36,000 -- the remaining 35,000 deaths are caused by diseases like pneumonia that may follow the flu.

But there's no clear scientific connection between the flu and these more serious afflictions. That means most of the time a flu shot has little impact in actually preventing death.

Barbara Loe Fisher, head of the National Vaccine Information Center, says that the repeated references to 36,000 seems to be an attempt to scare people into getting the shot. Fisher has a new book on the safety issues with vaccines, "Vaccines, Autism & Chronic Inflammation: The New Epidemic."
Her concerns have led her to look at alternatives. One alternative favored by a number of physicians is vitamin D. Dr. John Cannell, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council, suggests the reason we even have a flu season is because our vitamin D levels drop, which takes place naturally as we get less and less sun with the approach of winter.

Cannell suggests babies get a 1,000 units of vitamin D a day, and those two and older get 2,000 units. Many adults and some children need more than that.


* CBN November 4, 2008

Energy-dense foods may raise diabetes risk

By Joene Hendry

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A diet packed with energy-dense foods, those containing more calories per volume, may increase a person's risk of developing diabetes, new research suggests.

Adults consuming the most, versus the least, energy-dense diets had a 60 percent higher risk for type 2 diabetes in a study conducted by Dr. Nita Forouhi, senior clinical research scientist at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and colleagues.

Moreover, the association between highly energy-dense diets and the development of diabetes appears independent of body weight, total caloric intake, fat intake, and lifestyle factors, the researchers report in the journal Diabetes Care.

High energy-dense foods include highly processed foods, fatty foods, meats, and calorie-laden fruit or soft drinks, whereas low energy-dense foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, water and calorie-free drinks.

Ounce for ounce, high energy-dense foods tend to contain more energy (calories) and have been associated with weight gain and elevated blood sugar.

In their 12-year study, Forouhi's team assessed "new-onset" type 2 diabetes among 21,919 adults aged 40 to 79 years who were free of diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.

"Food frequency" data obtained at enrollment showed that those with highest energy-dense diets averaged 2,592 daily calories (36.6 percent from fat). This group consumed greater amounts of meat, processed meat, and soft drinks, and lower amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit, and water or other calorie-free beverages.

By contrast, those with the lowest energy-dense diets averaged 1,539 calories per day (29 percent from fat) and consumed more fresh vegetables, fruit, and calorie-free drinks, and less meats, processed meats, and soft drinks.

During follow up, 725 people developed 2 diabetes and those with the most energy-dense diets, compared with the least, had 60 percent higher risk for developing diabetes.

Although more study is needed, these findings suggest that adoption of healthier, less energy-dense diets in combination with other lifestyle factors and physical activity "could potentially be important in the prevention of diabetes," Forouhi said.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, November 2008

5 November 2008

Vitamin E Prevents Common Form of Cancer

Researchers have found that taking more vitamin E substantially reduces lung cancer. A new study shows that people consuming the highest amounts of vitamin E had the greatest benefit; compared to those taking the least vitamin E, they showed a 61 percent reduction in lung cancer risk.

Lung cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer on earth; over 1.3 million people are diagnosed with it each year. Even with medical treatment, survival rates are poor.

Anything that can reduce lung cancer is important news -- but the mainstream media have virtually ignored vitamin E's role as a cancer fighter. In fact, a web search for "increased vitamin E reduces lung cancer" preferentially brings up media coverage alleging that vitamin E is harmful, and may even increase cancer risk!

Drug companies don't have any drug that can reduce lung cancer risk by 61 percent. If they did, you would have heard all about it -- it would be all over the news. Positive drug studies get the headlines. Positive vitamin studies rarely do.

Sources: October 29, 2008

New Diabetes Rate Up 90 Percent in Last Decade

The rate of new cases of diabetes has increased by about 90 percent in the United States over the past decade. The incidence of the disease has been fueled by growing obesity and increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

Diabetes experts said the findings show there is no end in sight to the diabetes epidemic.

From 1995 to 1997, newly diagnosed cases of diabetes were at 4.8 per 1,000 annually. Between 2005 and 2007, that number rose to 9.1 per 1,000 people.

The most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, is closely linked to obesity and has become increasingly common as more people become obese. An estimated 90 percent to 95 percent of the new cases are type 2 diabetes.

Reuters October 30, 2008

Winning the War on Cancer

In the book Winning the War on Cancer, author Dr. Mark Sircus discusses sodium bicarbonate, which helps to save countless lives every day. Sodium bicarbonate is the time honored method to “speed up” the return of the body’s bicarbonate levels to normal.

It is also the least expensive, safest, and perhaps most effective cancer medicine there is.

Sodium bicarbonate delivers a natural form of chemotherapy in a way that effectively kills cancer cells -- without the side effects and costs of standard chemotherapy treatments. The only problem with the treatment, according to Sircus, is that it’s too cheap. Since no one is going to make money from it, no one will promote it.

Those that do will be persecuted for it. The trouble with doing new studies on bicarbonate is that they are expensive and no drug company is going to fund a study when they can't profit from the treatment.

You can also check out this video interview with Dr. Tullio Simoncini, an oncologist from Rome who pointed to using bicarbonate as a main line cancer treatment and has been persecuted for it. Simoncini has stood firm and continues to travel the world teaching doctors about the anti-cancer properties of sodium bicarbonate.


Vigorous Exercise Cuts Breast Cancer Risk

Vigorous activity can reduce the risk of breast cancer by about 30 percent, according to an 11-year study of more than 32,000 postmenopausal women.

Vigorous activity was defined as heavy housework -- such as scrubbing floors, washing windows, and chopping wood -- and strenuous sports or exercise.

However, while the exercise reduced breast cancer risk in normal-weight women, it had no effect in women who were overweight or obese. Non-vigorous activity, such as light housework and light sports or exercise also offered no protection against breast cancer.

U.S. News & World Report October 31, 2008

Melamine: It's What's for Dinner

First baby milk formula, then dairy-based products from yogurt to chocolate, and now chicken eggs have been contaminated with melamine. An admission that the industrial chemical is regularly added to animal feed in China has fueled fears that the problem could be more widespread, affecting fish, meat and possibly many other foods.
Melamine is rich in nitrogen, which means that it gives low-quality food and feed artificially high protein readings. But extremely high levels of melamine can cause kidney stones, and in some cases can bring on life-threatening kidney failure.

However, there have been no tests on melamine's precise effects in humans. Until the contaminated baby formula became public in a few months ago, there was never any reason to. The situation has left consumers worldwide, particularly parents, worried about food products from China, and even those made elsewhere with ingredients imported from Chinese companies.

ABC News October 31, 2008

Autism linked with rainfall in study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Children who live in the U.S. Northwest's wettest counties are more likely to have autism, but it is unclear why, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

Michael Waldman of Cornell University and colleagues were searching for an environmental link with autism, a condition characterized by learning and social disabilities.

They got autism rates from state and county agencies for children born in California, Oregon and Washington between 1987 and 1999 and plotted them against daily precipitation reports.

"Autism prevalence rates for school-aged children in California, Oregon and Washington in 2005 were positively related to the amount of precipitation these counties received from 1987 through 2001," they wrote in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, a London physician who wrote "Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion", expressed doubt, noting that autism diagnoses are on the rise in all climates.

No one know what causes autism, whose symptoms range from severe social avoidance to repetitive behaviors and sometimes profound mental retardation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one in every 150 children has autism or a related disorder such as Asperger's Syndrome. Rates in many countries have been rising, although that may be partly due to increased reporting and diagnosis of the condition.

Doctors agree there is a genetic component to autism. They also theorize that something in the environment and possibly conditions in the womb can trigger the condition.

The researchers said their study supports this idea.

Perhaps infants and toddlers are kept are kept indoors in front of the TV more in rainy climates, and that somehow causes brain changes, they said. Or perhaps they breathe in more harmful chemicals while indoors.

Vitamin D deficiency caused by insufficient time in the sun might also be a trigger, they said.

"Finally, there is also the possibility that precipitation itself is more directly involved," they wrote. Perhaps a chemical or chemicals in the upper atmosphere are transported to the surface through rain or snow.

"In recent years autism has been blamed on everything from discarded iPod batteries to mercury from Chinese power stations, from antenatal ultrasound scans to post-natal cord clamping, from diet to vaccines," Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a long-term study to find the causes of autism and other childhood conditions.

24 October 2008

The Hidden Link Between Men’s Bone Health and Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known for many things, including being necessary for normal bone development and for the formation of collagen. Until recently, however, it has not been seen as a possible player in retaining bone density—particularly for older men.

But that’s what has recently come to the fore. There is new research that indicates that eating a diet high in vitamin C may just help older men maintain strong and healthy bones— and keeping bones dense can help reduce the risk of fractures. Over a four-year period, 231 men and 393 women whose average age was 75, were monitored by Katherine Tucker and a team of her colleagues to observe any correlation between vitamin C intake and bone mineral density (BMD).

And here’s what they found: the men with the highest levels of vitamin C intake maintained their original bone mineral density during the four-year study. The men with the lowest levels of vitamin C intake, however, did not fare so well. Their bone mineral density decreased. They found, too, that vitamin C exhibited some protection against bone mineral density loss in women, although their findings were not “statistically significant.”

Their conclusion? These results suggest a possible protective role of vitamin C for bone health in older men.

Tucker explains why vitamin C may play such a role in bone health. She says, “Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin and reduces oxidative stress, which has a negative effect on all cells in the body. Antioxidants are needed to protect against oxidative stress, therefore protecting against inflammation. Inflammation drives bone resorption, which is basically taking calcium away from the bones. Vitamin C, theoretically, should help slow that resorption."

Tucker emphasized, too, that bone mineral density, bone status and fracture risk are related to many more nutrients than just calcium. And, apparently, it could be true. In recent years, researchers have found that maintaining bone density requires not just getting enough calcium, but also vitamin D and protein.

Dr. Mone Zaidi, director of the bone health program at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, indicates that this study is one of many that have been conducted over the past ten years that show the correlation between vitamin C intake and protection against bone loss.

Now, more evidence is emerging about the important role of vitamin C and bones. You could say that vitamin C is creating its own track record in bone health.

Now that’s a track record to watch.

21 October 2008

Doctors able to correct scoliosis with stem cells

5/13/2008 7:48 AM
By: Ivanhoe Broadcast News Service

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. In stead of the spine forming a straight line up and down one's back, it curves from side to side, often in an 'S' formation. It's a condition that often runs in families, though the cause of the malformation remains unknown.

Many schools and pediatricians screen for the condition, which often begins in childhood. However, adult scoliosis can develop after age 18, often as a result of a childhood case that was either undiagnosed or left untreated, or a degenerative joint condition in the spine. Screening for the condition is fairly simple as the spinal curvature can usually be seen from behind when the patient bends forward.
Patients are usually monitored until they develop a 25 degree to 40 degree curvature or greater. After that point, doctors will usually put the patient in a brace to help straighten the spine out and/or stop progression. When the curvature is beyond 40 degrees to 50 degrees, or if the brace does not stop progression, surgery is usually recommended.

Scoliosis is not a painful condition, so sometimes it patients can develop an advanced condition before seeking medical attention. Spinal fusion -- when two or more vertebrae are fused together, preventing further progression of the cure -- is the most common surgery method available for scoliosis. Hooks and rods or screws are used to correct the deformity, then bone from the pelvis is often used to fuse the vertebrae. Unfortunately, spinal fusion can limit a patient's motion after surgery and harvesting bone from the pelvis can be a significant source of pain for patients.

Stem cells are found in most multi-cellular organisms and are capable of regenerating themselves and can differentiate into a variety of specialized cell types. Contrary to their name, adult stem cells are found in both children and adults and refer to cells found in a born human being. Embryonic stem cells, however, are the controversial cells collected from early stage human embryos -- about four or five days old in humans, consisting of 50 to 150 cells.

Using adult stem cells collected from bone marrow, doctors are now able to correct scoliosis of the spine. During surgery, doctors still use screws and rods to correct the curvature of the spine. After that step, however, harvesting bone from a patient's pelvis is no longer necessary. Doctors can use the stem cells and bone from the bone bank to create solid fusion along the vertebrae to hold the corrected spine in its new position.

Once fusion is solid, patients can return to normal activities. Recovery time is similar to traditional spinal fusion surgery because the same large incision is made in the patient's back. However, the pain from the pelvic bone is eliminated. Some doctors see this stem cell therapy as a more holistic approach to the healing process.

17 October 2008

McCarthy "Cures" Autism, Reaches Out to McCain

Despite criticism from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Jenny McCarthy says she helped her son, Evan, recover from autism.

The actress - who believes the MMR vaccine was to blame for her son's diagnosis - says a strict no wheat-and-dairy-free diet has changed her son from a quiet little boy who used to flail his arms around to a loving six-year-old.

"Before the vaccination, he was huggy, lovey, snuggly," she says in the newest issue of Us Weekly. "Then it was like someone came down and stole him."

McCarthy, 36, remembers when Evan began to come out of his shell while watching a SpongeBob episode. "I heard Evan laugh...I jumped on the bed and started screaming."

She adds, "When he finally hugged me, I prayed, 'Please God don't let this be the only time.'"

McCarthy has become an outspoken advocate for autism awareness, often courting controversy along the way (doctors have accused her of creating fear of necessary vaccines). She's the bestselling author of five books, including her newest, Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds. She's also constantly researching on sites like like and

"I made a deal with God," she explains. "I said, 'You fix my boy, you show me the way and I'll teach the world how I did it.'"

She's even reached out to John McCain - who spoke about the importance of autism awareness during Wednesday's debate - without much success.

"We tried," says McCarthy - who currently labels herself a Democrat. "McCain had come out and said he thinks there's enough evidence between vaccines and autism, so I got on a helicopter [to meet him for] an on-camera interview. By the time I got there, the campaign manager said, 'He's ahead in the polls, and this is too controversial, and he doesn't want to go one way or the next.'"

The mom has avoided one controversial critic: Denis Leary, who blamed "inattentive mothers" for autism in his new book, Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid. (He later said his words were taken out of context)

For more on the specific ways McCarthy helped her son recover from autism and how beau Jim Carrey supports her, pick up the newest issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.

14 October 2008

Your Fat Does More Than You Think

Most people think of fat as inert, but in fact fat cells release powerful chemicals. And in obese people, the fat tissue often produces too many bad hormones and too few good ones.

White fat cells store energy and produce hormones that are secreted into the blood. They release adiponectin, which actually helps to fight diabetes, heart disease and other diseases. But in obese people, fat cells tend to shut down the production of adiponectin, which has negative effects on health.

While a white fat cell stores energy, a brown fat cell's job is basically to generate heat. There is increasing evidence that some humans, particularly those who are lean, tend to have more brown fat cells mixed in with their white fat cells in some regions of their body.

If the body could be persuaded to make more brown fat cells, it could help fight the tendency to gain excess weight.


* USA Today October 8, 2008

Can Bad Times Be Healthy?

Most people are worried about the health of the economy. But the economy also affects your health -- and not always in the way you might expect. The data on how an economic downturn influences health is surprisingly mixed.

Long-term economic gains do lead to improvements in a population’s overall health, in developing and industrialized societies alike. But whether the current economic slump will take a toll on your own health depends on your health habits when times are good.

Studies suggest that people tend not to take care of themselves in boom times. They can drink too much (especially before driving), dine on unhealthy restaurant meals and skip exercise and doctors’ appointments because of work-related time commitments.

During bad economic times, people may work less and do some more of the things that are good for them, like cooking at home and exercising.


* New York Times October 6, 2008

Vitamin D is a Key Player in Your Overall Health

Vitamin D, once linked to only bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis, is now recognized as a major player in overall human health.

In a paper published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Anthony Norman, an international expert on vitamin D, identifies vitamin D's potential for contributions to good health in the adaptive and innate immune systems, the secretion and regulation of insulin by the pancreas, the heart and blood pressure regulation, muscle strength and brain activity. Access to adequate amounts of vitamin D is also believed to be beneficial towards reducing the risk of cancer.

Norman also lists 36 organ tissues in the body whose cells respond biologically to vitamin D, including bone marrow, breast, colon, intestine, kidney, lung, prostate, retina, skin, stomach and uterine tissues.


* Eurekalert October 9, 2008

10 October 2008

Thinking Differently About Health Care

The American health care system is on life-support. Priced at nearly $8,000 a year per American, and soon to be 20 percent of the GDP, it’s more expensive by 40-60 percent than health care systems in any other industrial country, and totals nearly half the health care budget of the entire world. Yet it leaves 48 million Americans uncovered by health insurance and produces remarkably poor results.

According to the fascinating article linked below, it might help to consider American health as a house. Health care is the -- very expensive -- roof, the final protection against illness. In some ways it’s a preventive system, but mostly it’s sickness care.

In most other countries, the roof is a simpler affair. These health care systems rely much more on prevention. Yet the people in those “houses” live longer, healthier lives. That’s because in those other countries, the foundation and the walls of the house are stronger, with fewer cracks to let in the cold.

Start with the foundation. That’s the head start toward health that children in most other rich countries receive. In part because of better pre-natal care, infant mortality in all other industrial countries is lower than in the United States, which ranks 42nd in the world.

In every country in the world except the United States, Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea, mothers, and often, fathers, are guaranteed paid time off from work to take care of newborns. In many cases, such “family leave” extends for up to a year or more.

The first wall is lifestyle. Our tax system subsidizes producers of sugars and fats and our marketing system relentlessly advertises unhealthy foods. At the same time, Americans tend to work longer hours than people in other rich countries.

Wall number two is stress relief. It’s no secret in the field of public health that stress is a killer. Several factors make American life particularly stressful. Stress can result from insecurity. As the American social safety net has been gutted in recent years and job protections have been reduced, life in America is far more insecure than in other rich countries. Stress is also the result of time pressures and overwork. Breaks from a stressful workplace are seen by Europeans as yet another way to improve health.

The third wall is social connection. It’s a given in the field of public health that social connection strengthens immune systems and improves physical well-being. Yet America is an increasingly lonely country. More and more people, and especially older Americans, live alone, far more than in other rich countries. A recent study found that the average American has only two close friends he or she can turn to. A quarter have none at all.

The fourth wall is a safe environment. Americans rank at the bottom in child safety, with the highest rates of accidents among children. Partly, time pressure on American parents leave them less able to supervise their children. Other studies show extremely high rates of accidents in the workplace compared to other nations. Finally, and this is no small matter, every other industrial country guarantees its workers paid time off from work when they are sick; only the U.S. does not. Those countries know that without paid time off, workers will come to work sick, and will get others sick and stay sick longer.

To achieve better health outcomes, Americans must begin to see health as a holistic matter. Right now the American health care “house” has a foundation that is part marble, part rotting wood and part dirt. It has four walls that are a mixture of teak, balsa wood and bamboo, all of them in sorry shape. And finally, it has a gilded roof with millions of holes.


* World Changing October 2, 2008

Six Ways to Lose Weight

Here are some practical tips you can use to get your weight down.

1. Eliminate the Enemy.

The single most important thing you can do is make sure that you do not have the following in your home; bread, potatoes, pasta, chips, savory snacks, cakes, cookies, sweets, candies, chocolates and sugary drinks. This sounds severe but if you can remove these items you remove the temptation and opportunity to consume them.

2. Eat Plenty.

Eat plenty of good foods vegetables, fruit, lean meats, cheese and eggs.

3. Eat Out Less.

It is possible to find good items on the menu, but generally it is much harder to resist temptation when eating out -- so eat at home more.

4. Leave the Car on the Driveway.

Try to walk or cycle for local outings.

5. Play Tennis.

Or any other vigorous exercise.

6. Do it With Your Partner.

It is much easier to change your lifestyle and remove tempting bad foods from the home if your family are all involved. Try to make it a joint effort.


* October 3, 2008

Vitamin D Prevents Skin Infections

A study suggests that vitamin D bolsters the production of a protective chemical normally found in the skin. This could help prevent skin infections that are a common result of atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema. Atopic dermatitis is characterized by areas of severe itching, redness and scaling.

The study found that supplemental vitamin D appeared to correct a defect in the immune systems in patients with this skin disease. The researchers studied a small number of patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.

It has previously been shown that defects in the immune system interfere with the skin's ability to produce a peptide called cathelicidin, which is protective against microbial invasion. Study participants were all given 4000 IUs of oral Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) per day for 21 days. The researchers found that oral vitamin D use by the patients appeared to correct the skin's defect in cathelicidin.


* Eurekalert October 6, 2008

Please Log In or Register to continue. Drug Samples Endanger Children

A new study suggests that free drug samples, which are used as an effective marketing tool by the drug industry, do little to help the poor and may put children’s health at risk.

The study analyzed an in-depth survey conducted in 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that asked people how they got health care. Children in the lowest income group were no more likely to receive the samples than were those in the highest income group, in part because the poor are less likely to see doctors. Once in a doctor’s office, however, children who lack health insurance are more likely to receive free drug samples than their well-insured counterparts.

But the drugs provided as free samples tend to be the newest varieties, so their safety has often not been thoroughly vetted. In 2004, the year of the CDC survey, more than 500,000 children received samples of four medicines that were later the subject of serious safety warnings required by the Food and Drug Administration: Advair, for asthma; Adderall and Strattera, for attention deficit disorder; and Elidel, for eczema.

Elidel was given to the parents of more than 38,000 children under age 2. The FDA later received reports of skin cancer in patients who took Elidel.


* New York Times October 6, 2008

Does Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Chronic Liver Disease?

Researchers measured the vitamin D levels of 118 chronic liver disease patients, and found that 92.4 percent of chronic liver patients had some degree of vitamin D deficiency. At least one third were severely deficient. Severe vitamin D deficiency was more common among cirrhotics.

The researchers thought this could meant that vitamin D replacement might prevent osteoporosis and other bone complications related to end stage liver disease.

The study included 43 hepatitis C patients with cirrhosis, 57 hepatitis C patients without cirrhosis, and 18 cirrhosis patients without hepatitis C.


* Eurekalert October 6, 2008

Probiotics Fight Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Several studies presented at a recent meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology highlight the safety and efficacy of probiotics in improving symptoms and normalizing bowel movement frequency in patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

A systematic review of the efficacy of probiotics in IBS that included 19 randomized controlled trials found that "probiotics are effective in IBS,” although there was not enough information to be sure whether one probiotic is particularly effective or whether combinations of probiotics are required.

In a separate study conducted at seven pediatric GI centers in the United States, Italy, and India, researchers found that probiotics were safe and significantly more effective than the placebo in alleviating IBS-related symptoms in children and teenagers.


* Eurekalert October 6, 2008

7 October 2008

Return to Breastfeeding Urged Amid China Scandal

China's contaminated milk products scandal, which has resulted in thousands of children being hospitalized with kidney illnesses, has reignited calls from medical experts for a return to breastfeeding.

Breast milk has more carbohydrates, easily digestible protein, and the nutrients, vitamins and minerals than formula does. UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement last week calling for the return to breast milk for infants.

"No infant formula contains the perfect combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to enhance infant growth and brain development as breast milk does," according to UNICEF and WHO.


* Reuters September 30, 2008

Is Pain a Symptom of Arthritis, or a Cause?

Pain may be more than a symptom of osteoarthritis -- it could be an inherent and damaging part of the disease itself, according to a recently published study.

The study revealed that pain signals originating in arthritic joints, and the biochemical processing of those signals as they reach the spinal cord, worsen and expand arthritis. In addition, researchers found that nerve pathways carrying pain signals transfer inflammation from arthritic joints to the spine and back again, causing disease at both ends.

Pain is a patient's conscious realization of discomfort. Before conscious realization can happen, however, information must be carried along nerve cell pathways from an injured area to the pain processing centers in dorsal horns of the spinal cord, a process called nociception. There is now strong evidence that two-way, nociceptive "crosstalk" may first enable joint arthritis to transmit inflammation into the spinal cord and brain, and then to spread through the central nervous system (CNS) from one joint to another.


* Science Daily September 30, 2008

Why You are More Creative After You Sleep

Most people think of the sleeping brain as similar to a computer that has “gone to sleep” -- they believe that it does nothing productive. But this is incorrect. Sleep enhances performance, learning and memory. And most unappreciated of all, sleep improves the creative ability to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas.

Sleep assists the brain in flagging unrelated ideas and memories, forging connections among them that increase the odds that a creative idea or insight will surface. After sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas.

Business attitudes toward sleep may be starting to shift. Claire Stapleton, a spokeswoman for Google, says “grassroots” interest in sleep led to an on-campus talk by Sara C. Mednick, a napping expert. Google also installed EnergyPods, leather recliners with egglike hoods that block noise and light, that allow employees to take naps at work. Other companies that have installed EnergyPods include Cisco Systems and Procter & Gamble.


* New York Times September 27, 2008

The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

You need to rest your mind in order for it to work well on a long-term basis. Many people need to schedule these rest periods, and even lay down rules for what can and cannot be done during those times. If you’re not naturally inclined to slowing down and taking a break, the best thing you can do is schedule downtime.

How much downtime you need to schedule is a personal matter that depends on a several factors. It’s tempting to schedule less time than you need, but don’t succumb to that temptation. Think about how much you need as opposed to how much you can get by with.

Set rules for your downtime. You should restrict what you can and cannot use a computer for. Maybe you need to spend more time with your kids, so give yourself the requirement that you spend a certain amount of time each week playing with them (if you’re not already doing this, this article is even more important for you).

Proponents of GTD and various other productivity systems have a great tool for optimizing your actions -- the weekly review. Your weekly review should adopt a new component: the weekly downtime review. It’s important, though, to gauge how effective your downtime is and how successful you’ve been at making your downtime appointments. How much downtime did you take in the last week? How does that compare to the amount you scheduled?

Downtime is important. Realize that relaxing isn’t a total waste of time, even if the lack of action makes it feel that way.


* August 25, 2008

2 October 2008

Will the 'Mediterranean Diet' Soon Disappear From the Mediterranean?

The birthplace of the famously healthful Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes olive oil, fresh produce and fish, is now overflowing with chocolate shops, pizza places, ice cream parlors, soda machines and fast-food restaurants.
The Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with longer life spans and lower rates of heart disease and cancer, is now more likely to be found in the upscale restaurants of London and New York than in Greece, where two-thirds of children are now overweight and the health effects are mounting.

“This is a place where you’d see people who lived to 100, where people were all fit and trim,” says Cretan pediatrician Dr. Michalis Stagourakis. “Now you see kids whose longevity is less than their parents’. That’s really scaring people.”

New York Times September 23, 2008

China Tainted Milk Crisis Triggers Global Recalls

A low intake of heterocyclic amines, combined with high consumption of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) which are found in most types of vegetable oil, could increase the likelihood that postmenopausal women will develop breast cancer.

Heterocyclic amines form in meat or fish cooked at high temperatures, and have been tied to breast cancer in rats. Rats fed a diet having a high omega-6 content developed even more tumors in response to dietary heterocyclic amines than rats given a low fat diet.

Now, a new study looked at nearly 12,000 women aged 50 and older. In women with low heterocyclic amine consumption, high omega-6 PUFA intake increased the likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Reuters September 26, 2008

'Detoxifying' Foot Pads are a Scam

An NPR experiment on Kinoki foot pads tested to see if they'd drawn anything out of a reporter's body.

Reporter Sarah Varney and her husband bought some “detoxifying” Kinoki foot pads and wore them to bed. In the morning, they both awoke find the pads covered in the brown mess that the advertisement had promised. But when they took the foot pads to a lab and had them analyzed and compared with unused pads, the used pads were almost identical to the blank.

Further experimentation showed that the “gunk” in the pads shows up if you hold the pad over a pot of boiling water. Who knew steam had "metabolic waste"?

The Consumerist August 19, 2008

Cholesterol-lowering drugs and the effect on muscle repair and regeneration

HILTON HEAD, SC—Statins are powerful drugs that reduce "bad" cholesterol and thus cut the risk of a heart attack. While these medications offer tremendous benefits to millions, they can carry side effects for some. The most frequently reported consequence is fatigue, and about nine percent of patients report statin-related pain. Both can be exacerbated when statin doses are increased, or physical activity is added. The results of a new study may offer another note of caution for high-dose statin patients. Working with primary human satellite cell cultures, researchers have found that statins at higher doses may affect the ability of the skeletal muscles–which allow the body to move–to repair and regenerate themselves.
The study is entitled "Simvastatin Reduces Human Primary Satellite Cell Proliferation in Culture." It was conducted by Anna Thalacker-Mercer, Melissa Baker, Chris Calderon and Marcas Bamman, University of Alabama at Birmingham. They will discuss their findings at the American Physiological Society (APS; conference, The Integrative Biology of Exercise V. The meeting is being held September 24-27, 2008 in Hilton Head, SC.

The Study

Statins have been reported to have adverse effects on skeletal muscle in both human and animal models causing cramping and fatigue and potentially myopathy. Relatively little is known regarding the effect of statins on the muscle progenitor cells (i.e., satellite cells (SC)) which play a key role in skeletal muscle repair and regeneration following exercise or injury. SC remain in a quiescent state until stimulated to proliferate. Statins are known to have antiproliferative effects in other cell types and therefore may inhibit or effect this critical step in muscle repair. Thus it is important to understand the influence of statins on SC function which may further affect the overall health and physiology of human skeletal muscle..

The study examined the proliferative capacity of human satellite cells in culture, which were exposed, to a lipophilic statin: simvastatin. The aim of the study was to determine SC viability during proliferation when treated with statins which may be indicative of the ability of SCs to undergo mitosis (i.e. divide to make new cells).

The research team used primary cell lines isolated from quadriceps muscle biopsies. SC were mixed and grown for 48 hours with several concentrations of statin: 0.0, 0 plus the solvent DMSO (control), 0.05, 0.1, 1.0, 10, or 100µM. The MTS assay was utilized to measure cell viability/reproducibility.

Additionally the investigators determined the effects of varying concentrations of simvastatin on SCs in different states (i.e., undergoing differentiation or differentiated into myotubes).

Key Findings

The researchers found the following:

There was a dose dependent decrease in the viability of the satellite cells at 1.0, 10 and 100µM concentrations of simvastatin. At approximately 5.0 µM concentration the viability of the proliferating cells was reduced by 50% (equivalent to the availability of simvastatin in circulation from a 40 milligram dose per day used in some patients). Specifically, the higher end concentrations led to reduced SC proliferation, which would likely negatively affect the muscle's ability to heal and/or repair itself.
There was no change in the viability of satellite cells at concentrations of 0.05 or 0.1µM.
Cell viability was reduced by approximately half in differentiating cells and myotubes with concentrations of 1.0 and 5.0 µM, respectively.
Next Steps

According to Dr. Thalacker-Mercer, a member of the research team, "While these are preliminary data and more research is necessary, the results indicate serious adverse effects of statins that may alter the ability of skeletal muscle to repair and regenerate due to the anti-proliferative effects of statins."

Looking ahead, she added, "We are very interested in these effects in the older population. It is possible that older adults may not be able to distinguish between muscle pain related to a statin effect or an effect of aging and therefore adverse effects of statins in older adults may be under-reported. Therefore, our next step is to examine statins among older adults."

Blood thinning drug linked to increased bleeding in brain

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A new study shows that people who take the commonly used blood thinning drug warfarin may have larger amounts of bleeding in the brain and increased risk of death if they suffer a hemorrhagic stroke. The study is published in the September 30, 2008, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Warfarin is commonly prescribed to prevent blood clotting. Studies have shown it helps prevent ischemic stroke for patients with an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. However, if the drug makes the blood too thin, it can increase the risk of brain hemorrhage, a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.

The study involved 258 people who had brain hemorrhage, 51 of whom were taking warfarin. Participants were 69 years old on average and lived in or near Cincinnati. The group underwent brain scans to confirm the type of stroke. The brain scans were used to measure the size of the blood clots.

The study found that people who took warfarin and suffered a brain hemorrhage while their international normalized ratio (INR) was above three had about twice as much initial bleeding as those not taking warfarin. However, this effect was not seen in people whose blood was more likely to clot as determined by an INR of less than three. An INR test measures the blood's ability to clot.

"Warfarin is very effective for preventing ischemic strokes among people with atrial fibrillation and for most patients with this condition it is the right choice," said study author Matthew L. Flaherty, MD, with the University of Cincinnati and member of the American Academy of Neurology. "However, people who have bleeding into the brain while taking warfarin are at greater risk of dying than other people with hemorrhagic stroke. Our study may help to explain why. Fortunately, we did not see larger blood clots in people with an INR of less than three. For most patients on warfarin, the goal INR is between two and three. This shows the importance of good monitoring and adjustment of warfarin dose. People should talk to their doctors about the proper management of warfarin and learn the signs of stroke so they can get to an emergency room immediately if a stroke occurs."

To learn the five signs of stroke, visit Give Me Five for Stroke is a joint campaign of the American Academy of Neurology, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to encourage people to recognize stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1, and get to the emergency department.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and a University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit
Women have been warned to immediately stop using talcum powder around their genitals in the wake of research which suggests particles may travel to the ovaries and trigger a process of inflammation that allows cancer cells to flourish.
Although previous studies have raised concerns over talc, the latest findings from the United States suggest women who use it are 40 per cent more likely to get ovarian cancer - a much greater risk than first thought - the Telegraph newspaper reports.

The findings, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, apply only to talcum powder used around the private parts, not on the rest of the body.

Experts from Harvard Medical School in Boston studied more than 3,000 women and found using talc merely once a week raised the risk of ovarian cancer by 36 per cent, rising to 41 per cent for those applying powder every day.

Dr Maggie Gates, who led the study, said that until the outcome of further research women should avoid using talc in the genital area.

One alternative is cornstarch powder.

The study revealed that the risks were greater still for those with a certain genetic profile.

Women carrying a gene called glutathione S-transferase M1, or GSTM1, but lacking a gene called glutathione S-transferase T1 (GSTT1), were nearly three times as likely to develop tumours. Around one in 10 Caucasian women are thought to have this genetic profile, putting them at sharply increased risk.

Ovarian cancer is often termed the silent cancer, as it grows quietly and is often only detected at the final stages, and it is the sixth biggest killer of all cancers for Australian women. About 1,200 new cases are diagnosed annually with 800 deaths.

Until now, it has been thought the main risk factors included a family history of the disease, having already had breast cancer and starting periods at a young age.

Women who are overweight or use hormone replacement therapy are also thought to be more at risk.

Talc is made from a soft mineral called hydrous magnesium silicate, which is found throughout the world. It is crushed, dried and milled to produce powder used in cosmetic products by millions. Some experts say it has chemical similarities to asbestos, which can cause a deadly form of lung cancer.

Laboratory tests show ovarian cells exposed to talc divide more rapidly - a characteristic sign of cancer.

Until recently there was no proof that powder could travel through a woman's reproductive tract as far as the pelvis and then on to the ovaries.

But last year, a separate group of doctors at Harvard Medical School identified tiny particles of powder in the pelvis of a 68-year-old woman with advanced ovarian cancer who had used talc every day for 30 years.

23 September 2008

Studies show more links between vitamin D and MS

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Children later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis had far lower levels of vitamin D than other youngsters, Canadian researchers reported on Friday in studies showing more links between the "sunshine" vitamin and disease.
These were the first studies to show the effects in children, although others have shown that adults who live in northern latitudes, who get less sun exposure, may have a higher risk of MS.

They also support a growing body of studies that link low vitamin D levels with disease, including breast and colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes and tuberculosis.

Multiple sclerosis is a nervous system disease caused by damage to the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells. It affects 2.5 million people globally and can cause symptoms ranging from vague tingling to blindness and paralysis.

Vitamin D, made when skin is exposed to sunlight and found in fatty fish like salmon, is added to milk and other foods in many countries. Evidence suggests it helps lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

Several studies presented at a meeting on MS in Montreal showed that children had low levels of the vitamin when they began to show evidence of the disease.

"Three-quarters of our subjects were below the optimal levels for vitamin D," said Heather Hanwell, a graduate student in nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, who led one study.

Hanwell's team studied 125 children who had what is known as a demyelinating event -- evidence of damage to myelin that causes symptoms such as numbness. Blood was taken at the time.

Twenty of the children were diagnosed with MS within the next year, Hanwell said. Tests of the blood showed that 68 percent of those children had vitamin D insufficiency.

On average, the children with MS had much lower levels of the vitamin than children who did not experience any other MS-like symptoms.

Another study led by Dr. Brenda Banwell of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children showed similar results.

"Seventeen of 19 children who had been diagnosed with MS had vitamin D levels below the target level," Banwell said in a telephone interview.

The next step is to see if giving vitamin D supplements prevents MS or helps relieve symptoms, Banwell said. She said it was not clear how lacking vitamin D might be linked with


"Vitamin D acts as an immune modulator. On our immune cells there are what are known as receptors, a docking mechanism, for vitamin D," Banwell said. "In MS, there are many lines of evidence that immune cells are not regulated properly. One of the things that influences that balance is vitamin D."

Canadians have one of the highest rates of MS in the world, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. "In Canada for six months of the year the sun is not intense enough for us to manufacture vitamin D in our skin," Hanwell said.

(Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

17 September 2008

Nursing doesn’t have to be a pain in the back!

By Dr Kevin Lau
Featured in Singapore Nursing Journal

As a nurse, you probably bend and lift patients and equipment many times a day. This repetitious activity makes you vulnerable to a common occupational hazard: back, neck, or joint injury. Of the most common problems I see in practice is low back pain due to degeneration of the spine. Any of the spinal discs can be injured or undergo degeneration; but because of their location, discs in the lower spine are subjected to the greatest weight-bearing stress and are most likely to slip or be compressed.
What is Disc Degeneration?

As we grow older and less active the tough elastic tissue of the disc begins to lose its fluid. The loss of fluid thins and weakens the disc making its function as a shock absorber for the spine ineffective.

Although the discs BEGIN to degenerate after about 25 years of age, everyone SHOULD be able to complete his entire life span with no discomfort from this aging process. It is when the degeneration speeds up beyond normal that a person is likely to have trouble. The fast-weakening disc begins to bulge like a weak wall on an automobile tire and gradually protrudes into the spinal canal to press against nerves and cause pain.
What Causes Speed-Up of Degeneration?

Even young persons may suffer from disc degeneration due to poor nutrition. This is not malnutrition in the sense of what we eat. It has to do with starved disc tissue. Every cell of the body must be fed correctly in order to maintain its proper function...and the disc is no exception. The disc must absorb its nutrition from the fluids which surround it.

The disc may get some of its food through osmosis, but adequate absorption of nutrients takes place when the disc is in a state of accordion-like motion. When in motion it squeezes the surrounding fluid in and out, much like the action of a sponge. Some of the factors affecting disc nutrition are in-activity, poor posture, stress, weak muscles, injuries, muscle spasms, and fixation (two adjoining vertebrae moving as one).
What Can Be Done?

Fortunately, 95% of all disc cases can be managed through modern chiropractic methods. Years of research and experience in disc cases qualifies the doctor of chiropractic as the doctor of choice in acute and chronic disc problems. In my practice I truly believe in teaching patients how to become independently healthy and strong. The key to preventing the low back is to strengthen core stability muscles, such as you abdominals. While the abdominals conjures up images of a six pack, the most important core stability muscle is the transverse abdominus, which acts as a natural weight belt, keeping your insides in. This muscle is essential for trunk stability. Here are a few core stability exercises to help strengthen the low back.

Exercises for Developing Torso Stabilization

1. Training the Core: This exercise involves recruiting the transversus abdominis, pelvic floor and deep muscles of the lower back. Breathe deeply while sitting in a chair or lying down with the knees comfortably bent. When exhaling, visualize pulling your navel toward your spine and contracting your pelvic floor. Activation of the pelvic floor helps co-contract abdominal stabilizers. If you put your fingers on the inside of your hip bones, you should feel this contraction. Be aware that you want to keep the rectus abdominis and glutes relaxed. Once you feel comfortable with this exercise, work on intervals of holding the pelvic floor/transversus contraction while breathing normally. Begin with three sets of 10-second holds and progress from there. Activate these muscles as you carry out other exercises.

2. Press and Reach: Lie on a mat face up, placing your hands at your sides. Bend your legs and lift them off the floor so your knees are aligned directly over your hips. Slowly lower your feet toward the floor in an alternating fashion. You can increase intensity by straightening your legs as you lower them and/or lifting your arms off the floor (try reaching one or both arms above your head). Perform 12 to 15 slow repetitions. Note: The goal is to control your low back from arching toward the ceiling; focus on keeping your navel parallel to your spine.

3. Side Bridges: With knees bent, lie sideways on a mat, making sure your shoulders, hips and knees are aligned. Lift your hip off the floor, propping yourself onto your elbow and the side of one knee. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder. Make sure you are not allowing yourself to sink into your supporting shoulder. Hold this position for up to one minute while breathing normally. Try two to three sets and repeat on the opposite side. To progress, straighten your legs, propping yourself onto your feet. Note: A common postural mistake is to gain stability by pushing your hips behind you. Concentrate on maintaining proper alignment.

4. Body Ball Crunches: If torso curls are your true passion, try them on a body ball. Using a ball is much more unstable than using the floor. Therefore, stabilizers will come into play as you try to control your movement. Sit on the ball, then walk your feet out until the ball is under your low-to-mid-back. Move through the torso curls in a slow, continuous motion, lifting your shoulder blades off the ball while your lower back remains on the ball. Guard against pulling on your head and neck. Perform one to three sets of 12 to 15 curls.
Prevention key to a healthy spine

The greatest tip I can offer to anyone suffering from low back pain is to not ignore it! Pain is necessary to prevent further damage into joints and alerts us that something is not right. As in most cases, prevention is to key to having a healthy spine as you head into your older years. Timing is critical in muscle, ligament, and joint injury because healing begins immediately after the damage. If activity is not started soon, usually between two and six weeks, then injured tissues may not recover their flexibility, strength, and ability to function (i.e., to do what they are designed to do). After losing flexibility and function, the healed tissues become weak. Even small movements can then lead to re-injury and to a chronic back problem and eventually degeneration. Just as your teeth need to be brushed daily to keep it in top notch, your spine also requires its maintenance. A large number of spinal problems I see in practice could have been prevented with proper treatment immediately after the initial injury.

Protect yourself from strain and disability by following the simple tips.
Pain is a warning sign. Your body is telling you that you have already or are about to cause damage. If what you are doing hurts then STOP. Do not try to push through the pain.

Regular exercise is important to help maintain mobility and strength. It should be done without pain and it should be done regularly. Brisk walking, swimming and cycling are all excellent exercises, but you should do what is suitable for you and what you enjoy.

You should warm up your body before any form of physical activity, whether it is nursing, sports or gardening. This prepares the body for action and helps to prevent injuries.

Cooling down and stretching after exercise or physical activity is just as important as a warm up. Never "bounce" your stretches and do it gently without pain.

You don't have to lift something heavy in order to hurt your back. Picking up something light incorrectly is far more likely to hurt your back than picking up heavy objects correctly. Lifting things away from your body is also likely to cause damage. When you pick up anything, no matter how heavy, get it as close to your body as you can and keep your back as straight as you can and don't twist with it.

Whether you are at home, at work or in the car, prolonged sitting causes load on the discs and weakness of the muscles. Get up and move every now and then, even if it is only for a minute. The body is designed for movement not for slouching in front of the TV or driving for hours on end.

So called "comfortable chairs" do not do your back any good. They are usually too low, too soft and the seat is too long with a rounded back. They force you to slouch and sit awkwardly which puts stress on your back. Choose a chair that is supportive, allows you to sit up correctly with your feet flat on the floor. The right bed is also important. Beds can be too hard. The base of the bed should be firm and the mattress should be soft enough to mould to the contours of your body but be firm enough to give you support in the right places. Futons are not good for most backs and the word "Orthopaedic" when applied to beds means absolutely nothing.

Sleep in a comfortable position. On your side in the "foetal" position is usually the least stressful on your back. Sleeping on your front puts most stress on your back and neck and can lead to trouble. Using a pillow of the right height which supports the neck is also important.

All drugs have side effects so they should be used wisely. The use of pain killers (paracetamol, cocodomol etc.) and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nurofen, brufen, diclofenac etc.) only helps to mask the symptoms and not to sort out the problem.

If you have a long term problem, whether it is just "niggly" or disabling, or if you have a recurring problem, then chiropractic treatment can probably help. Chiropractors can usually give you marked relief from pain and discomfort and improved quality of life as well as decreasing the likelihood of a recurrence.

Being a nurse is a rewarding and life changing role, but it also has its physical stresses. For a nurse to be successful in being a caregiver it is essential that you take care to the most important person in the world… YOU! For it is only when we are healthy, happy and pain free are we as health professionals able to better serve our patients.

16 September 2008

Vitamin D May Improve Survival in Colon Cancer Patients

In this study involving 304 subjects diagnosed with colon cancer, those whose blood levels of vitamin D were in the top 25% were twice as likely to survive as those in the lowest 25%.

The authors conclude, "Among patients with colorectal cancer, higher prediagnosis plasma 25(OH)D levels were associated with a significant improvement in overall survival. Further study of the vitamin D pathway and its influence on colorectal carcinogenesis and cancer progression is warranted."

With cancer treatments being toxic and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and vitamin D being safe and cheap, I recommend people with cancer take 4,000 units of vitamin D a day now, instead of waiting 20 years for these studies to be done!


"Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin d levels and survival in patients with colorectal cancer," Ng K, Meyerhardt JA, et al, J Clin Oncol, 2008; 26(18): 2984-91

Colon Cancer Recurrence Reduced with Flavonoids

In this study of 87 patients (36 with resected colon cancer and 51 after polypectomy), 31 were supplemented with flavonoids and the other 56 were not treated. The flavonoid mixture consisted of 20 mg/d apigenin and 20 mg/d epigallocatechin-gallat. Subjects were observed for 3-4 years. Among the patients with resected colon cancer, those treated with flavonoids (n=14) had zero cases of recurrence of cancer and only one adenoma, compared with a 20% recurrence rate of cancer and a 27% adenoma development rate among controls. These results suggest that long term supplementation with flavonoids may dramatically reduce the rate of colon cancer recurrence—even in those with resected colon cancer.


"Prospective cohort comparison of flavonoid treatment in patients with resected colorectal cancer to prevent recurrence," Hoensch H, Kirch W, et al, World J Gastroenterol, 2008; 14(14): 2187-93.

Vitamin B6 May Decrease Colon Cancer Risk

A Scottish study of almost 5,000 people suggests that an increased intake of vitamin B6 from diet and supplements may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 19%.

There are ~ 945,000 new cases of colorectal cancer every year. The new case-control study involved 2,028 hospital-based colorectal cancer (CRC) patients and 2,722 population-based controls. The lead author, Evropi Theodoratou, noted that "Moderately strong inverse and dose-dependent associations in the whole sample were found between CRC risk and the intake of dietary and total vitamin B6." He also noted that this result has been supported by other studies as well.

Other nutrients are also important. Writing in the Journal of Nutrition (Vol. 137, pp. 2701-2708), Tufts researchers found that moderate deficiency of folate, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and B12 together may also promote the risk of DNA damage and increase the risk of colorectal cancers. In addition, other studies have suggested that folate deficiency alone may promote the risk of colorectal cancer.

I find that the best effect is obtained by getting all of the B vitamins in a balanced formula (such as the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder), as this supplies them to the body in a balanced manner. High doses of the individual nutrients alone may cause more harm than good.


E. Theodoratou, S.M. Farrington, A. Tenesa, G. McNeill, R. Cetnarskyj, R.A. Barnetson, M.E. Porteous, M.G. Dunlop, H. Campbell. Dietary Vitamin B6 Intake and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. 1st January 2008, Volume 17, Pages 171-182, doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-0621