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25 January 2008

Caffeine Doubles Miscarriage Risk

Pregnant women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day double their risk of a miscarriage.

Anywhere from 15 to 18 studies have found a link between caffeine use during pregnancy and miscarriage. The new study examined over 1,000 pregnant women who maintained a relatively constant caffeine consumption during pregnancy.

More than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day significantly increased their risk of miscarriage.


* Reuters January 21, 2008

FDA Destroys Incriminating Aspartame Records

Jerome Bressler is the author of an FDA audit which exposed the corruption of G. D. Searle, the manufacturers of aspartame. Bressler reported that studies showing rats deaths and cancers were ignored and deleted from Searle's records.

But when Dr. Betty Martini spoke to Bressler in 2002, he told her that the FDA deliberately deleted a crucial 20 percent of his document, which exposed far worse problems with aspartame.

In November of 2007, Dr, Martini requested the original, unedited report under the Freedom of Information act. First she was told that the documents were confidential, and when she continued to press, she was told that they had been destroyed. You can read the entire story of her attempt to pry this information out of the FDA by clicking the link below.

Recent studies have confirmed that aspartame can cause cancer and birth defects.


* January 15, 2008

Could This Be the Missing Link Between Belly Fat and Heart Disease?

It is well established that overweight people have a higher risk of suffering heart attacks, strokes and other problems as a result of clogged, hardened arteries, especially those with extra belly fat. But the reasons behind this connection have so far eluded scientists.

A new study in mice gives the first direct evidence of a possible reason this link exists. Scientists showed a connection between inflammation around the cells of visceral fat deposits and the artery-hardening process of atherosclerosis. The body’s own immune cells, responding to that inflammation, may provoke atherosclerosis.

Reducing that inflammation could protect against further artery damage.


* Eurekalert January 21, 2008

Puberty At the Age of 8

The first signs of puberty are arriving at ever earlier ages for American girls. It is now no longer uncommon for girls to begin breast development at the age of 8 or 9.

Earlier breast development is now so pervasive that the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society has advocated for a change in the definition of "normal" development to a lower starting age. A 1997 study showed that among 17,000 girls in North Carolina, almost half of African Americans and 15 percent of whites had begun breast development by age 8.

Some parents and activists suspect environmental chemicals or the cause, and many pediatricians and endocrinologists points to the obesity epidemic as a factor.


* Los Angeles Times January 21, 2008

Some Folk Medicines Contain Lead

Health departments have warned that a number of lead-based traditional medicines may be the second most common source of lead poisoning in the U.S. Dozens of adults and children have become gravely ill or died after taking lead-laden medicine during the past eight years.

The medicines are usually manufactured outside the U.S. and brought into the country by travelers in their suitcases. Lead is added to some of these medicines because of its supposed curative properties, although doctors say it has no proven medical benefits. In other cases, they become contaminated with lead from soil or through the manufacturing process.

In the Southwest, lead poisoning has been traced to Mexican remedies such as greta, azarcon and rueda powders; they are used to treat constipation in children and contain as much as 90 percent lead. On the East coast, high lead levels in the blood have been tied to litargirio, a powder containing up to 79 percent lead used by Dominican immigrants to treat ills such as foot fungus and body odor. Dangerous amounts of lead have also been found in Indian ayurvedic medicines such as ghasard, a powder used to relieve constipation in babies, and mahayogaraj gugullu, which is used for high blood pressure.


* ABC News January 22, 2008

A Single Meal Can Lead to Good (or Bad) Health

Want to know how many cheeseburgers you'd have to eat before they start doing damage to your body? The answer, according to a review of new dietary research, is just one. Just one high-fat, high-sugar meal can trigger a biochemical cascade, causing inflammation of blood vessels and immediate, detrimental changes to the nervous system, according to the paper, published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. And just one healthy meal helps return your body to its optimal state. "Your health and vigor, at a very basic level, are as good as your last meal," says lead author James O'Keefe, head of preventive cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo.

Here's how it works. When you eat, your body breaks down the food into a stream of nutrients, including glucose (sugar), lipids (fats), and amino acids (the building blocks of protein). If your meal happens to be junk food — say, a processed bun with a cheap beef patty, French fries and a Coke — the rush of sugar causes something called "post-prandial hyperglycemia": a big spike in blood-sugar levels. Poor diet in the long-term leads to hypertension and buildup of gunk in blood vessels that increases heart-attack risk. But there are short-term effects too. "People don't understand this, even most physicians," says O'Keefe. Tissue becomes inflamed, just as it does when infected. Blood vessels constrict. Free radicals, unstable molecules that cause cell damage and are thought to contribute to chronic disease and aging, are generated. The body's stress response has a bigger effect on blood pressure, raising it higher than normal. People may notice they feel crummy a few hours after eating junk food. And the sudden surge and drop in insulin — the hormone that spurs your body to store energy — also leaves them feeling hungry again soon after eating, despite having had plenty of calories.

The good news is that these blood-sugar spikes and crashes are easy to regulate. Blood sugar will rise and fall quickly if, for example, a person eats an easily digested meal of only white bread. Eat some vinegar with the bread, however, and the impact is dampened: The vinegar slows digestion, helping to keep blood-sugar levels more even. The same thing happens if a person takes his bread with nuts or with a glass of wine. (The dampening effect of alcohol reverses after more than a couple units, which may help to explain why moderate drinking, but not heavy drinking, is associated with long life.) The common denominator of all these slow-release foods, says O'Keefe, is a generally high nutritive value with low calories. The healthy foods are exactly the ones you would expect, all that stuff your mom (and your doctor) told you to eat: lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins like fish and legumes, and high-fiber whole grains. All of them blunt the post-prandial spike. "To some degree it kind of highlights why some dietary components are healthy for you," says O'Keefe.

Regardless of its benefits, healthy food can leave you feeling unsatisfied if you're used to eating junk. Junk food distorts a person's hormonal profile, says O'Keefe. Note, for example, the previously mentioned drop in insulin that leaves a person hungry not long after eating a heavy meal. Studies suggest that fatty, sugary foods promote excretion of the stress hormone cortisol, which seems to further stimulate appetite for calorie-dense foods. And the big post-meal spikes in blood sugar are more likely in people who don't exercise or those who carry weight around their abdomen. All of it makes it tough for people to stop eating junk food once they're in the habit. "The more you eat it the more you crave it. It becomes a vicious cycle," says O'Keefe. The solution? "I tell people they should get a home glucose monitor," he says. Then you can see immediately what your meals are doing to your body. It may help you stick to your plan to eat well, too. "You can improve your health, basically, from hour to hour," he says.

* Time January 15, 2008

Is Your Dentist Drilling for Dollars?

Some patients may expect their dentists to check for cavities during their visit, but instead, they find the dentist drilling for dollars inside their mouths. Insurance companies pay out millions annually in unnecessary dental claims.

Former patients of one dentist claim that is what happened to them when they visited Alireza Asgari. They say that not only were the procedures unneeded, but they also had long-lasting effects, and sometimes difficult infections.

"I can remember the tool he used to slice across my gums," said former patient Karen Trowbridge. "The tears were coming down my face."

She said Asgari told her during a consultation that she had a fractured jaw, which required surgery. In actuality, Trowbridge's jaw wasn't fractured. The dentist reportedly performed the surgery anyway, and instead of inserting a bone graft, he put hundreds of tiny beads into her gum line. They became infected and Trowbridge had to undergo multiple surgeries to have them removed.

Trowbridge wasn't Asgari's only ex-patient with complaints.

Former patient Amy Suda-Ruskey said the dentist gave her an unnecessary root canal.

"My tooth was perfectly healthy and I never needed that first root canal," Suda-Ruskey said. "It was very painful. My cheek was swollen."

"I did eventually lose that tooth and had to get a dental implant," she added. After her experience, Suda-Ruskey filed a civil suit against Asgari, which settled.

Asgari still faces dozens of other civil lawsuits, including another that was settled and three suits that are still pending.

"He did a lot of dentistry that was unjustified, and not only that, it was very aggressive, and he hurt a lot of people in doing this," said oral surgeon Richard Silberman.

The state of Pennsylvania, where Asgari practiced, agreed and convicted him of multiple counts of theft for billing insurance companies for unnecessary services. Today, Asgari is in jail and he is eligible for parole this May.

"He had their complete trust in those two hands that are working inside an individual's mouth, and he was just stealing money," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett. "That's all it was about."

Asgari's case isn't an isolated one.

"We're seeing a disturbing spike in the warning signals that there may be an increase in dental fraud by crooked dentists," said James Quiggle, of Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

In fact, an ABC News investigation uncovered dental fraud cases across the country, which bilked insurance companies out of millions of dollars. One Brooklyn, N.Y., dentist wanted Medicaid to believe he filled 52 cavities in one patient's mouth in one visit.

"Everyone needs to be concerned about dental fraud," Quiggle said.

Besides unnecessary procedures, cases of phantom billing exist. In those cases, dentists bill insurers for services they never performed, which drives up insurance premiums and maxes out coverage limits without the patient's knowledge.

"I put my trust in him," said Amy Tomalinas, who settled her civil suit against Asgari for an unnecessary root canal.

"Dr. Asgari hurt me emotionally, he hurt me physically, he hurt me financially," she said.

Another patient, who has sued Asgari, said the dentist caused severe damage.

"I had seven abscessed teeth in my mouth at once. All seven root canals that he did on me were infected," said Joe Klein.

How to Protect Yourself

Patients suggest questioning any major procedure next time you're in the dentist's chair.

"Don't be pressured into thinking you have to make a decision right then," said Donna Klein, Joe Klein's wife and a fellow Asgari patient. "To this day, I grab the sides of the chair when I sit down."

Also, check out your dentist with the state insurance department, or local dental board, and review the explanation of benefits letter you receive from your insurance company.

"Get a second opinion if your insurance doesn't cover it, or pay for it, or you'll end up paying for it in the long run," said Tomalinas.

Most of all, trust your instincts.

24 January 2008

Good Bacteria May Relieve Autism Symptoms

Researchers questioned whether or not a daily dose of friendly bacteria known as probiotics might help treat autism. Clinical trials are being scheduled to test probiotics to determine if they could ease the gut problems associated with autism and possibly help with some of the psychological symptoms as well.

Nearly six out of every 1,000 people have autism, a condition that negatively affects communication and social relationships.

Some of the physical symptoms associated with autism include bloating, stomachaches and diarrhea. Since children with autism were more prone to having higher levels of Clostridia, a group of "bad" bacteria, probiotic food supplements might lower the levels of these bad bacteria and alleviate some of the autism symptoms.

Researchers haven't been able to find out what the cause of autism is, however genetic and environmental factors have been cited as likely contributors to the complex disorder.

Researchers agreed that toxic byproducts of the bacteria might play a role with the disease because of how they are absorbed into the blood and travel to the brain.

One type of bacteria researchers have found to produce promising results is called Lactobacillus plantarum 229v, which attaches itself to the lining of the gut and stimulates its growth. In addition to these functions, this bacteria has also been discovered to lower gut pH, which aids in the digestive process and helps fight infections.

Research has also revealed that friendly bacteria might be useful in treating irritable bowel disorder, diarrhea, colitis and bowel cancer. Experts have noticed an increasing acceptance of probiotics as a way to help manage health conditions.

Nature May 5, 2004

One-Third of Probiotics, "Good Bacteria" Products Like Acidophilus, Found to be Worthless

Having studied 55 products labeled "probiotic," Belgian biologists conclude that in fact, not every product that claims to be "probiotic" actually contains the bacteria associated with this claim. In addition, in many cases the researchers found bacteria other than those named on the label.

"Probiotic" refers to foods that contain certain bacteria, which are said to have beneficial effects on colon flora and the immune system.

The researchers studied the micro-flora of 25 dairy products and 30 powdered products that are used as nutritional supplements. More than a third of the powdered products contained no living bacteria whatsoever - unlike the dairy products, which contained up to a billion living microorganisms per milliliter.

In identifying the bacteria, they found that only thirteen percent of the products contained all bacteria types included on the label.

Meanwhile, in one third of all the products, the researchers found other bacteria not listed on the label. However, these could be classified as harmless. The researchers criticize that the packaging often features incorrect, but nice-sounding bacteria names. They say that in the interest of the consumer, it is necessary to have label the products correctly.

This research will be published later this year in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

101st General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), Orlando, Florida; May 2001

Good Bacteria Can Eliminate Sick Time Away From the Office

A new study showed that employees who take probiotics on a daily basis will miss less work time from common illnesses such as colds or gastroenteritis.

Lactobacillus reuteri

Scientists assessed the value of taking a probiotic on more than 175 factory workers, including 53 who did shift work. Once a day for 80 days, workers received either a dose of the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus reuteri, or a placebo.

2.5 Times Less Illness
Those given the probiotic were 2.5 times less likely to take sick leave. Only 10 out of 94 factory workers given the probiotic took any sick time off during the study, compared to 23 in the placebo group. What's more, none of the 26 shift workers using a probiotic lost any time due to illness, compared to nine out of 27 shift workers in the placebo group.

Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source

Science Daily

23 January 2008

Probiotics affect metabolism, says new study

Probiotics, such as yoghurt drinks containing live bacteria, have a tangible effect on the metabolism, according to the results of a new study published today (Tuesday 15 January) in the journal Molecular Systems Biology.

The research is the first to look in detail at how probiotics change the biochemistry of bugs known as gut microbes, which live in the gut and which play an important part in a person’s metabolic makeup. Different people have different types of gut microbes inside them and abnormalities in some types have recently been linked to diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

For the study, researchers from Imperial College London and Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland, gave two different types of probiotic drink to mice that had been transplanted with human gut microbes. Probiotics contain so-called ‘friendly’ bacteria and there is some evidence to suggest that adding ‘friendly’ bacteria to the gut can help the digestive system.

The researchers compared the levels of different metabolites in the liver, blood, urine, and faeces, of mice who had received treatment with probiotics and those that had not.

They found that treatment with probiotics had a whole range of biochemical effects and that these effects differed markedly between the two probiotic strains, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Adding ‘friendly’ bacteria changed the makeup of the bugs in the gut, not only because this increased the number of such bacteria, but also because the ‘friendly’ bacteria worked with other bacteria in the gut, amplifying their effects.

One of the many biochemical changes observed by the researchers was a change in how mice treated with probiotics metabolised bile acids. These acids are made by the liver and their primary function is to emulsify fats in the upper gut. If probiotics can influence the way in which bile acids are metabolised, this means they could change how much fat the body is able to absorb.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, corresponding author on the study from the Department of Biomolecular Medicine at Imperial College, explained “Some argue that probiotics can’t change your gut microflora - whilst there are at least a billion bacteria in a pot of yoghurt, there are a hundred trillion in the gut, so you’re just whistling in the wind.

“Our study shows that probiotics can have an effect and they interact with the local ecology and talk to other bacteria. We’re still trying to understand what the changes they bring about might mean, in terms of overall health, but we have established that introducing ’friendly’ bacteria can change the dynamics of the whole population of microbes in the gut,” he said.

The researchers hope their new insights about how probiotics and gut microbes interact will ultimately enable the development of new probiotic therapies, which can be tailored for people with different conditions and different metabolic makeups.

Dr. Sunil Kochhar, another author on the study from the Nestlé Research Center, added: “Understanding changes in the molecular events triggered by the so-called beneficial bacteria in the host metabolism is an important prerequisite in our efforts to develop customized nutritional solutions to maintain and/or enhance our consumer’s health and wellness at an individual level. The results of this study are highly promising to address personalized nutrition.”

22 January 2008

Nuts and berries fight metabolic syndrome

A number of recent studies have indicated that nuts and berries provide great advantages in averting metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms linked to heightened risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Preliminary results from a Spanish study involving 9,000 people suggest that a Mediterranean diet leads to improved levels of cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure, all linked to metabolic syndrome. In particular, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 15 grams of walnuts, 7.5 grams of hazelnuts and 7.5 grams of almonds per day appeared to provide a long-term 50 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, more than the Mediterranean diet high in olive oil or the low fat diet. The research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In another study, researchers found that people who supplemented their everyday diet with 2-3 ounces of pistachios per day for four weeks showed significantly improved cholesterol ratios, perhaps due to their increased intake of fiber and lower intake of saturated fat. This study was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

"This research challenges the previously held belief that a low-fat diet is best for heart health. Studies now show that a diet with a moderate amount of healthful monounsaturated fat, like the kind found in pistachios, is a more effective way to prevent heart disease than reducing overall fat intake," said lead researcher James Cooper.

In a long-term study of 34,000 post-menopausal women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods such as berries was correlated with lowered incidence of cardiovascular disease over the course of 16 years.

An estimated 50 million people suffer from metabolic syndrome in the United States, placing them at a doubled risk of cardiovascular disease and five times the risk of diabetes compared with those who do not have the syndrome.

Green tea prevents bladder inflammation

Green tea might be useful as an herbal remedy to treat or prevent inflammatory bladder disease, according to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in Anaheim, California, two of the chemicals that naturally occur in green tea protected cultures of bladder cells from oxidative damage.

Researchers exposed cultures of both normal and cancerous bladder cells to epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), two varieties of a flavonoid group called catechins, for 23 hours. They then exposed the cell cultures to hydrogen peroxide, which is highly damaging to cells and may even kill them.
"We discovered that catechins found in green tea protected both normal and cancerous bladder cells from inflammation when we exposed the cells to hydrogen peroxide," said researcher Michael B. Chancellor, a professor of urology and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"Although further studies are needed, these results indicate [that] herbal supplements from green tea could be a treatment option for various bladder conditions that are caused by injury or inflammation."

Catechins occur naturally in the leaves of the tea plant, and thus are present in green, black, white and Oolong tea. These chemicals compose, on average, approximately one-quarter of the dry weight of a fresh tea leaf -- although the exact content varies by individual plant, growing season and location.

Catechins are also found in chocolate, wine and certain fruits and vegetables. Previous studies have linked consumption of these chemicals to reductions in the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

According to the researchers, the doses of EGCG and ECG used in the Pittsburgh study are low enough to be achieved through dietary intake.

Approximately ten million people in the United States suffer from some form of bladder disease.

It's Winter - Do You Know Where Your Vitamin D Is?

John Cannell, MD, Director of the Vitamin D Council and author of the Vitamin D Newsletter has looked at recent conflicting media coverage of the effects of vitamin D on cancer. The December 2007 issue of the newsletter addresses how studies have been interpreted and how biased interpretation can adversely affect public health policy and your health.

You can also read the latest studies that link vitamin D deficiency to risks for cancer and make your own independent conclusions.

According to Dr. Cannell, Dr. Lichtenfeld, spokesman for the American Cancer Society has indicated that Americans continue to wait for more randomized, control trials before addressing their vitamin D deficiencies, even though a large volume of epidemiology studies indicate that vitamin D deficiency is a common finding in people of all age groups around the world.
At the same time, after risk/benefit analysis the Canadian Cancer Society has advised all Canadians to take 1000 IU of vitamin D daily. The Food and Nutrition Board, that sets U.S. nutrient recommendations currently recommends 2000 IU of vitamin D per day as a safe upper limit dosage for anyone over one year old.

So why aren't U.S. public health organizations like the American Cancer Society willing to increase the recommendations for adequate intake of vitamin D, like the Canadian Cancer Society have done?

Currently the Food and Nutrition Board recommends adequate intake of vitamin D at 200 IU for infants to 50 year olds, 400 IU for 51 to 70 year olds and 600 IU for those 71 and older. These recommendations persist, even with the current established safe upper limit dose of 2000 IU daily, even for one year olds. Is it good for your health to stick with these outdated government recommendations?

In the book Nutrition and Bone Health, Michael Holick, PhD, MD of Boston University and Bess Dawson Hughes, MD, Professor of Medicine at Tufts University discuss current vitamin D recommendations and the most accurate vitamin D blood test.

U.S. recommendations for adequate intake of vitamin D are based on research available prior to 1996, about 11 years ago! Also, current recommendations in the U.S. are based on the effects of vitamin D on bone health and calcium absorption but do not reflect, or even acknowledge the other vital biological functions of vitamin D, including its role in cancer prevention.

U.S. recommendations for vitamin D intake do not take into account the function of vitamin D in the regulation of blood pressure, insulin production, regulation of immune function and cell growth.

One very important step that you can take towards improving your own health is to ask your physician for a vitamin D test. The test is called a 25 hydroxy(OH)2 D blood test. It is inexpensive and the information provided is invaluable, especially during the winter months when your vitamin D levels may drop significantly with decreased exposure to sunlight, particularly if you live in northern regions of the country.

If your physician doesn't think that it is important to assess your vitamin D status, it may be wise to find a physician that understands the current scientific evidence regarding the importance of vitamin D to your health.

Or, you can directly order your own vitamin D blood test. Direct Labs is one source for screening tests as is the Life Extension Foundation. A requisition form is sent directly to you and you have your blood drawn at a lab where you live. In many cities you can have your blood sample taken at a convenient Lab Corp location or even at the lab that your doctor uses.

Vitamin D exists in several forms in the human body. Sometimes physicians order a test called the 1,25 (OH)2 D test. This is the most potent or active form of vitamin D in the human body, but according to Dr. Holick and Dr. Dawson Hughes, measuring 25(OH)2 D is a better blood test for assessing vitamin D status and say, frankly that the 1,25(OH)2 D blood test is "useless" in the assessment of vitamin D status.

Vitamin D3 derived from sunlight is called cholecalciferol. It is activated in the liver to 25(OH)2 D, also called calcidiol. From there, it enters blood circulation and travels to tissues, including the kidneys, where enzymes activate it to its most biologically active form, 1,25(OH)2 D, also called calcitriol.

As discussed in Dr. Holick and Dr. Dawson-Hughes' text, blood levels of this later form, 1,25(OH)2 D can be normal or even elevated at the same time that a person has vitamin D deficiency. Why? Because a vitamin D deficiency can cause a condition called hyperparathyroidism.

The human body, in an amazing attempt to normalize vitamin D concentrations at a cellular level, increases production of PTH (parathyroid hormone) that signals the kidneys to increase production of 1,25(OH)2 D.

If this sounds confusing, it can be! At least the first time you read it. Vitamin D is really a "prohormone" and is activated like other hormones in the body, through a process of hormonal signaling.

For the purpose of nutritional assessment of vitamin D status, make sure you request the 25(OH)2 D test, not the 1,25(OH)2 D test.

Dr. Holick,an eminent international vitamin D researcher recommends that lab reference ranges for vitamin D blood tests be raised. He has suggested an "optimal" healthy range of 25 (OH)2 D at 45-50 ng/ml. Most labs currently use a range of 20-56 ng/ml as "normal".

According to Holick, "Any levels below 20 ng/ml are considered deficiency states and will increase your risk of breast and prostate cancer and automimmune diseases like MS and rheumatoid arthritis".

And, by all means, read Dr. Cannell's December issue of the Vitamin D Council Newsletter. The Vitamin D Council website is an excellent source for up-to-date research regarding the benefits of maintaining healthy vitamin D levels.


Double Mastectomy Patient Told Cancer Diagnosis Was a Mistake

A New York woman who underwent a double mastectomy after being told that she had breast cancer was later told that she had not, after all, had cancer. After having both breasts removed, 35-year-old Darrie Eason was told that due to an error in labeling at the laboratory, she had received another woman's diagnosis.

"I remember the words, 'You don't have breast cancer, you never did,'" Eason said.

According to an investigation by the state of New York, a former laboratory technician and CBLPath accidentally switched the labels on two different women's biopsies. This resulted in Eason being told that she had cancer in both breasts, and another woman being told that she had no cancer.

"I don't know who [the other woman was]," Eason said. "I don't know when they found out. I don't know if they know."

But the state concluded that the error was due to a single worker and was not systemic or the fault of the lab.

Nevertheless, Eason has filed a lawsuit against CBLPath lab. Her attorney says that they hope to find out if the accident that led to Eason's misdiagnosis really was a one-time error.

"Was that an isolated act by one individual who never before made a mistake?" said Steven Pegalis, Eason's lawyer. "I doubt it. It's possible. But we'll try to find out."

According to Dr. Robert Wachter, author of "Understanding Patient Safety," between 40,000 and 100,000 people in the United States die each year as a result of medical errors. "That would be the equivalent of a large jet crashing every single day in the United States," he said.

"You have to create technologies that anticipate that humans will blow it from time to time and catch the errors before they kill someone," Wachter said.

Eason's conclusion was slightly different: "Second opinions are good but second biopsies are better."

New Questions on Treating Cholesterol

For decades, a core principle of cardiology has been the theory that lowering cholesterol is always beneficial. But now some prominent cardiologists are questioning that theory.

Because the link between excessive LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease has been so widely accepted, the FDA has generally not required drug companies to prove that cholesterol medicines actually reduce heart attacks. Proof that a drug lowers LDL cholesterol has been enough to win approval.

But despite widespread use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, heart disease remains the biggest killer in the United States and other industrialized nations. And in the last 13 months, the two important clinical trials have thrown the hypothesis into doubt. Pfizer’s torcetrapib was shown to actually cause heart attacks and strokes, and more recently Vytorin, a combination of Zetia with Zocor, failed to reduce the growth of fatty arterial plaque.

Merck has now asked the FDA to approve Cordaptive, which raises HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL, without waiting for the results of an events trial. Doctors, patients and the drug industry are now waiting to see if the FDA is still willing to accept the theory that lower cholesterol is always a good thing.

'Old person's' arthritis afflicts thousands of kids

By Kathleen Fackelmann, USA TODAY
Breanne Watterson was just 4 when the hip pain began.

The preschooler went through periods in which she limped to school or had to be carried, says her mom, Victoria Watterson.

Doctors dismissed the attacks as "growing pains," but the girl suffered through five years in which she had spells of fever and pain in her hip and arms. "She couldn't play at all," Watterson says.

In 2004, doctors finally confirmed what Watterson had feared all along: Breanne, then age 9, was diagnosed with a potentially crippling form of arthritis.

Breanne is just one of an estimated 300,000 children in the USA who have some form of arthritis, according to a report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first to quantify arthritis in kids.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Doctors | Rheumatism

The CDC report, along with other evidence, helps dispel the myth that arthritis strikes only in old age.

The 'old person's disease'

"People think of arthritis as an old person's disease," says Patience White, the chief public health officer for the Arthritis Foundation. "We now know that one in 250 U.S. children have arthritis."

Experts say children with arthritis face a number of problems, including a delay in getting a proper diagnosis and a shortage of pediatric rheumatologists.

Arthritis refers to 100 different conditions that all cause joint pain. Breanne has one of the most serious forms: juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Fifty thousand to 100,000 children have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a disease in which the body's immune system attacks the tissue that lines the joints, White says.

A pediatrician might not recognize a child's joint pain as arthritis, says Suzanne Bowyer, a co-author of the CDC study, which was published in Arthritis & Rheumatism. She says many doctors don't think of arthritis when they're examining a child. "Usually by the time a kid gets to me they've been to see three or four doctors," she says.

For Breanne, it took years to be diagnosed. In 1999, the Watterson family was living on a naval base in Japan when she first started to experience hip pain. She saw a series of doctors, but most said nothing was wrong.

Five years later, a doctor recognized the symptoms as serious: The girl was sent to a military hospital in Hawaii for tests that revealed the potentially crippling disease. "It was a relief when someone finally listened to me," Watterson says now.

Children with this type of arthritis who don't get treatment can suffer irreversible damage to the joints. Bowyer has seen children who ended up in a wheelchair because they didn't get drugs that can slow or stop the disease.

And even when children are diagnosed, they can bounce from doctor to doctor without getting the right treatment, White says.

Searching for a doctor

In 2004, the Watterson family moved to Simpsonville, S.C.; within a month, Breanne's father, who was in the Navy, was sent to Iraq.

Victoria searched for a doctor nearby and discovered there were no pediatric rheumatologists in the entire state. The Arthritis Foundation says there are fewer than 200 practicing pediatric rheumatologists in the USA and, as of 2008, 10 states have no specialists at all who can handle kids like Breanne.

Watterson found a rheumatologist nearby, but he mostly treated adults. He gave Breanne steroids that quelled the attacks but also stunted her growth.

Watterson kept searching and in 2006 switched to a pediatric rheumatologist in Charleston, S.C. His office was a four-hour drive, one way. Watterson, who works from home as a medical transcriptionist, would get back from the doctor's office at about 9 p.m. and then start to make up her lost time. "I'd be up all night typing," she says.

They kept the grueling routine in place for a year, but in February 2007, a pediatric rheumatologist set up shop in Columbia, S.C. — a three-hour round trip.

Getting the right medicine calibrated to a child's body has made all the difference, Watterson says. Breanne is taking methotrexate, a drug that dampens the immune attack on joints, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. She has gone from a child who collapsed in bed after school to an active 13-year-old, taking violin lessons and after-school art classes.

In 2006, Breanne tried to go door-to-door on Halloween but collapsed after a block. Her father had to carry her home.

"This year, she went out with her friends for three hours," Watterson says. "It's great to see her becoming so independent."

It's Official: Cold Medicines are Too Risky for Small Children

(01-17) 16:35 PST WASHINGTON (AP) --

Parents may be left with only love and lots of liquid to give their sniffling babies and toddlers now that the government is declaring over-the-counter cough and cold medicines too risky for tots. The Food and Drug Administration was issuing that warning Thursday to parents of children under 2.

It's a move expected for months: Drug companies last October quit selling dozens of versions of nonprescription cold remedies targeted specifically to babies and toddlers. That month, the FDA's scientific advisers also voted that the drugs don't work in small children and shouldn't be used in preschoolers, either — anyone under age 6.

The FDA still hasn't decided if OTC decongestants, antihistamines and cough suppressants are appropriate for older children, officials told The Associated Press. Expect a decision on that by spring, the deadline necessary to notify manufacturers before they begin production for next fall's cold season.

For now, FDA's first official ruling focuses on youngsters under 2, warning that "serious and potentially life-threatening side effects can occur."

FDA is worried that parents haven't gotten that message despite all the publicity last fall. They may still have infant-targeted drugs at home, or they may buy drugs meant for older children to give to tots instead, said Dr. Charles Ganley, FDA's nonprescription drugs chief.

"We still have a concern," Ganley said. "It falls out of people's consciousness. We're still in the middle of cold season right now."

Ganley was particularly struck by recent surveys that suggest many parents don't believe OTC remedies could pose a problem, especially if they've given them to an older child without harm.

Thursday's move is a good first step, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore's health commissioner. He petitioned the FDA last year to end use of nonprescription cold remedies by children under 6, a move backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The reason: There's no evidence that these oral drugs actually ease cold symptoms in children so young — some studies suggest they do no good at all. And while serious side effects are fairly rare, they do occur. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year reported that more than 1,500 babies and toddlers wound up in emergency rooms over a two-year period because of the drugs.

"It's one thing if you're curing cancer, but we're talking about a self-limiting illness," said Sharfstein. "If there's really no evidence of benefit, you don't want to risk the rare problem. Then you're left with tragedy that you can't justify."

Specialists are back to recommending old-fashioned steps, such as plenty of fluids and rest, saline drops to loosen stuffy noses, and humidifiers while sleeping.

Why is this an issue now? Child versions of cold remedies came on the market decades ago, when scientists thought that what worked in adults would automatically work in children. Scientists today know that is not always the case.

In fact, FDA never formally allowed infant-targeted cold remedies in the first place; Ganley said they evolved through a legal loophole.

But the FDA is investigating an even bigger question: Are OTC cold remedies safe and effective for children under 12? The agency's advisers last fall called for no use just by the under-6 crowd, but did recommend more research to determine the medicines' effects in children overall.

The drug industry says these medicines are used 3.8 billion times a year in treating children's cough and cold symptoms and are safe for those over 2.

Health groups acknowledge that while low doses of cold medicine don't usually endanger an individual child, the bigger risk is unintentional overdose. For example, the same ingredients are in multiple products, so using more than one for different symptoms can quickly add up. Also, children's medicines are supposed to be measured with the dropper or measuring cap that comes with each product, not an inaccurate kitchen teaspoon.

An internal FDA working group has a February deadline to recommend to agency leaders any action for 2- to 11-year-olds, Ganley said. The goal is a spring announcement.

Meanwhile, the FDA's advice for children over 2:

_If you try these drugs, carefully follow label directions.

_Avoid giving a child more than one product. If you do, make sure they don't contain some of the same or similar ingredients.

_Understand that these drugs only treat symptoms. Colds are viruses, and the drugs will not make them go away any faster.

21 January 2008

Fish Oil Helps Prevent Diabetes

Three months of daily supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) produced a "clinically significant" improvement in insulin sensitivity in overweight study participants, according to Dr. Yvonne Denkins, a nutrition researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Institute.

More than 9 out of 10 diabetics have the type 2 form of the disease, where the body's gradual failure to respond to insulin can cause blood sugar levels to rise to dangerous levels.

Previous population studies have suggested that fish oil might help protect against diabetes. "There were epidemiological studies on the Greenland Eskimos, a population of people that eat mainly whale blubber.

These are people that are overweight, that should be diabetic and have heart disease, but they do not. The scientists that studied them thought it was probably because of what they eat, and they found that it was the omega-3s."

In the study, researchers had 12 overweight men and women, aged 40 to 70, consume 1.8 grams of DHA at breakfast for 12 weeks. While none of the study participants had full-blown diabetes, they all suffered from insulin resistance -- a pre-diabetic condition in which the body fails to efficiently respond to insulin.

Using blood tests taken at the start and end of the study, the researchers assessed changes in each person's insulin resistance.

They saw a change in insulin sensitivity after 12 weeks of DHA supplementation. A full 70% of the study participants showed an improvement in insulin-related function, and in 50% it was a clinically significant change.

Annual Experimental Biology 2002 Conference New Orleans, LA April 21, 2002

Grass-Fed Animal Fat Beneficial for Diabetics

Supplementing the diet with fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may be beneficial to diabetics.

After an eight-week study, diabetics who had added CLA to their diets not only had lower body mass and blood sugar levels, but also lower levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates fat levels. High levels of leptin may play a role in obesity, which is one of the biggest risk factors for adult-onset diabetes.

Previous studies in rats have found that CLA delayed the onset of diabetes. The current human study found the fatty acid improved the management of adult-onset diabetes.

CLA is composed of various fatty acid isomers, each of which can have different effects. One CLA isomer, t10c12-CLA (which is sometimes called the 10-12 isomer), played a role in controlling both body weight and leptin levels.

The study involved 21 people with adult-onset diabetes, who took either a supplement with a mix of rumenic acid, a primary isomer in CLA-containing foods, and 10-12 isomer or a safflower oil supplement.

After taking the supplements daily for eight weeks, fasting blood glucose levels decreased nearly five-fold in patients taking CLA, compared to patients taking the safflower oil.

Nine of the 11 people in the CLA supplement group had decreased blood glucose levels, compared with two of the 10 in the safflower group. This led researchers to suspect that the CLA was helping to manage certain diabetes symptoms.

Researchers say that the ideal way to get CLA is from food sources such as beef, lamb and dairy products. Although CLA is available in supplements, the long-term effects of taking CLA in this form are unknown.

Science Daily January 29, 2003

Vitamin D Reduces Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

In Norway, cod liver oil has been an important dietary source of vitamin D because it contains the biological properties that were critical for the prevention of type 1 diabetes.

A study was conducted to find out whether the intake of dietary cod liver oil or other sources of vitamin D such as supplements taken by either mothers during pregnancy or by children during the first year of their life, was linked to lowering the risk of type 1 diabetes among children.

The nationwide case-control study was done in Norway and consisted of 545 children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and 1,668 control participants. Families were sent a questionnaire in the mail and were required to answer questions pertaining to the number of times they used cod liver oil or other vitamin D supplements.

Results from the study showed that taking cod liver oil during the first year of life greatly lowered the risk of type 1 diabetes. The consumption of other vitamin D supplements during the first year of life and pregnancy were not connected with type 1 diabetes.

The study concluded that the anti-inflammatory effects of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in cod liver oil might have the capability of reducing the risk of type 1 diabetes.

American Journal Clinical Nutrition May 2004;79:820-5

One Soda a Day Increases Diabetes Risk 85 Percent

Women who drink more than one can of sugar-filled soda a day might be increasing their chances of developing diabetes along with gaining weight.

A study showed that women who drank the minimum of one soda each day could increase their likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by 85 percent over the women who drank less than one can a day.

Along with increasing the risk for diabetes, the high sugar and calorie content contained in sodas were also found to compound the risk of developing other chronic diseases such as obesity. These findings led researchers to believe the sugar found in soda and energy drinks could result in an overabundance of energy, which could trigger obesity and the packing on of extra pounds.

The Growing Number of Diabetes Cases in America


In 2002, 18.2 million Americans were found to have diabetes

Diabetes is the fifth-deadliest disease in the United States
* The number of people with diabetes has almost doubled over the years of 1990 to 2002

Researchers stated that school officials are now taking actions against the growing childhood obesity problem by encouraging their students to drink beverages other than sugar-filled soft drinks.

USA Today June 8, 2004

How Carbohydrates & Obesity are Linked: The Kind, Not the Amount

It's the kind of carbohydrates you consume, not the number, that becomes a reflection of the number on your bathroom scale. Contrary to popular belief, overweight people don't eat more carbohydrates than those of normal weight. However, it was discovered that overweight people were more inclined to eat an excess of refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, which trigger a rapid spike in blood sugar.

The culprit of weight gain, refined carbohydrates, can be found in processed foods high in sugar. Refined carbohydrates add on extra pounds through their high glycemic index, which means they cause a quick surge in blood sugar. The sugar is then stored in muscle and if it is not used it turns into fat.

On the contrary, other carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables don't have high glycemic indexes.

Even though statistics showed that people are eating less fat, it was revealed that over the course of the past 20 years the rate of obesity has been steadily increasing.

To determine if carbohydrates played a factor in obesity researchers conducted a study by measuring the height and weight of nearly 600 healthy participants. One of the main requirements of the study was for the participants to document the kind of carbohydrates they ate for one year.

The study revealed two key findings:


People with a higher body mass index--a measure of weight that factors in height -- tended to eat carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index

The amount of carbohydrates people ate had no influence on body mass index

Researchers of the study also noted that some countries are now adding glycemic levels on food labels as a guideline to those who are trying to lose weight or control diabetes.

American Journal of Epidemiology February 15, 2005;161(4):359-367

Diabetes Is Not A Disease Of Blood Sugar!

By Ron Rosedale, MD

As I have stated previously, and one concept that I would like to make well-known to save thousands and perhaps millions of lives as soon as possible, is that diabetes is not a disease of blood sugar, but a disease of insulin and perhaps more importantly leptin signaling, and until that concept becomes well-known in the medical community, articles like the one published in this issue will fortunately continue to be published revealing the inadequacy of current conventional medical treatment for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and the falsity of their advice about nutrition.
Typically treatment concentrates on fixing a symptom, in this case elevated blood sugar, rather than the underlying disease. Symptoms are generally the way that nature has taught our bodies to deal with a disease. For instance, a runny nose is a symptom designed to cleanse the nose and sinuses of viruses and bacteria when one has a "cold." Taking a decongestant just inhibits our own body's mechanism for dealing with that infection and will therefore prolong it.

Similarly, treatments which concentrate merely on lowering blood sugar for diabetes while raising insulin levels can actually worsen rather than remedy the actual problem of metabolic miscommunication. It just trades one evil for another.

Elevated insulin levels are highly associated and even causative of:

* heart disease,
* peripheral vascular disease,
* stroke,
* high blood pressure,
* cancer,
* obesity and
* many other so-called diseases.

Since most treatments for (type 2, insulin resistant) diabetes utilize drugs which raise insulin or actual insulin injections itself, the tragic result is that the typical, conventional medical treatment for diabetes contributes to the manifest side effects and the shortened lifespan that diabetics experience.

To Be Victorious, One Must "Know Thy Enemy.

Traditional medicine appears certainly not to, especially with diabetes. For two millennia diabetes has been considered to be a disease of sugar. Despite centuries of scientific progress including the discovery of insulin and more recently leptin, that has not changed. It appears that medicine has made little to no progress with that myth. Furthermore, the actual purpose of insulin is widely, if not uniformly, mistaken even among the medical community.

The Main Purpose Of Insulin Is Not To Lower Blood Sugar.

It may surprise you, as well as your doctor, that insulin's main role is not to control blood sugar. The control of blood sugar is mostly in an upward direction, not a downward direction. A few types of tissues and cells in our body such as red blood cells require glucose for energy (the rest can and even desires to burn fat or byproducts of fat metabolism called ketones). Thus it is important to always have a little bit of glucose dissolved in our blood.

The trick throughout most of our ancestral history was to keep sugar in our blood from falling too low since there was not that much sugar to be had. Most starches and grains that would turn into sugar are mostly indigestible unless cooked. You might even strain your jaw trying to eat an uncooked potato.

The major source of sugar was fruit, and that was mostly available only seasonally, and even then we had to work and exercise to obtain it, burning the sugar and preventing it from spiking very high. The hormones cortisone, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glucagon, and growth hormone make sure that we always have some glucose available to the tissues that need it.

High Blood Sugar Was A Rarity.

However when our blood sugar did become elevated it was a sign that we had more energy available than we could currently burn and thus it would be a good idea to store the extra. "Waste not, want not." Food was not always available; feast or famine was the rule. When blood sugar becomes elevated it is a signal for insulin to be released to direct the extra energy into storage.

A small amount is stored as a starch called glycogen in our body, but the majority is stored as our main energy supply -- fat. Thus, in this regard insulin's major role is not to lower sugar, but to take the extra energy when available and store it for future times of need. Insulin lowers glucose as a side effect of directing the extra into storage.

Insulin's purpose may go far beyond even that. Insulin is being researched very heavily by scientists who study the biology of aging. It has been found that when insulin is kept low either through diet or via genetic manipulation animals live much longer and the rate of aging is significantly reduced. This appears true in many different species of animals from single cell yeast, to worms, to flies, and appears likely to be true also in primates.

Apparently, low insulin is a signal that energy is scarce and animals need to focus their energy needs on maintaining and repairing themselves so that they can outlive the famine to be able to reproduce at a future, more opportune time. Insulin's purpose has gone from controlling blood sugar, to directing energy stores, and now to actually regulating the rate of aging including the major symptoms of aging -- diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, dementia, and even cancer.
All Chronic Disease Is Due To Miscommunication Of Messages Between And Within Cells.

As stated in a prior newsletter, all chronic disease is due to miscommunication of messages between and within cells. Certainly diabetes is a disease of insulin miscommunication, and recognizing insulin's true purpose certainly goes much deeper to the roots of diabetes and other chronic diseases. Yet we can go even deeper.

Insulin May Not Even Be The Most Important Hormone In Diabetes Or Other Chronic Diseases Of Aging.

That honor likely goes to leptin.

It appears that the hormone leptin is largely responsible for the accuracy of insulin signaling and whether one becomes insulin resistant or not.

Leptin, a relatively recently discovered hormone produced by fat, tells the body and brain how much energy it has, whether it needs more (saying "be hungry"), whether it should get rid of some (and stop being hungry) and importantly what to do with the energy it has (reproduce, upregulate cellular repair, or not).

Recent compelling research reveals that the two most important organs that will determine whether one becomes (type 2, insulin resistant) diabetic or not are the liver and the brain and it is their ability to listen to leptin that will determine this.

Leptin largely influences, if not controls, the manifest functions of the hypothalamus in the brain, including:

* Reproduction,
* Thyroid function,
* Adrenal function and the
* Sympathetic nervous system.

Fat, and leptin, strongly influences chronic inflammation and therefore diseases associated with this including heart disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. It appears now that rather than your brain being in control of your body, fat, by way of leptin, is really in the driver's seat.

The Enemy Is Not Only Foreign To The Medical Community; It Appears To Not Even Be Recognized.

It is no wonder that (type 2) diabetes has not been conquered.

By some estimates, diabetes has increased over 700% in the last 50 years. This reveals two very important facts.


Diabetes cannot be primarily a genetic disease, since the prior statistic has taken place within the same generation and presumably essentially the same genetics.

Something that we have been doing is obviously wrong and needs to be changed.

That something is diet.

It is difficult, or perhaps even impossible, to actually prove that something is true. However, it is not difficult to prove that something is false. Americans have been following (at least partially), for the last 50 years, the nutritional recommendations of a high complex carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet from the:

* American Dietetic Association,
* American Heart Association, and the
* American Diabetes Association

That, in itself, is an oxymoron since most of those "complex" carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, cereals, pasta, and breads rapidly turn to sugar and the excess sugar (glucose) rapidly turns into long-chain saturated fatty acids (palmitic acid; "palm oil"). Concomitant with that recommendation the incidence of diabetes and obesity has skyrocketed and has become one of the worst worldwide epidemics the world has ever seen.

Eating a high "complex" carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet for health and longevity has been shown, and perhaps even "proven," to be wrong. Minimal common sense would say to try something else.

Diabetes Is A Disease Of Nutrition, And It Is The Science Of Nutrition That Must Treat It.

Science is telling us that we must eat a diet that maximizes the accuracy of insulin and leptin signaling allowing cells, you, to better listen to their life-giving messages. (The need for those hormones to have to "yell" to be heard is reduced and the levels of insulin and leptin are therefore lowered.)