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18 July 2008

The Amazing Health Benefits of Vitamin D

This once obscure vitamin has been thought to only fortify skeletal structure through the minerals calcium and phosphorous; however, new emerging research shows this vitamin carries many more tasks than just strengthening bones.

Vitamin D and Pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia is a devastating systemic disorder that is characterized by proteinuria (protein in urine), high blood pressure, and edema. This disorder can cause grave health problems for the mother and fetus: pre-eclampsia can cause premature delivery and is the leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death around the globe (causing some 76,000 deaths per year). Pre-eclampsia is, no doubt, a problem that greatly affects mothers and infants. The cause still remains unknown; however, a study carried out by the University of Pittsburgh found that vitamin D deficiency early in gestation is associated with a five-fold increase risk of developing pre-eclampsia.
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Vitamin D and Diabetes

Most people in Western societies are familiar with diabetes, particularly that of type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is highly publicized since most diabetes sufferers are afflicted with this particular form of the affliction. However, the smaller subset, those suffering with type I diabetes, have a small advantage over their counter parts. Recent research has demonstrated that those who receive high amounts of vitamin D during childhood have a lower risk of developing type I diabetes later on in life, the greater the amount of vitamin D, the greater the benefit.

Type I diabetes is different than type II in the fact that, it does not arise out of insulin resistance; rather, it comes about because the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by one's own immune system, starting early in childhood. Though more commonly found amongst Europeans and North Americans, it can affect people from all walks of life.

Vitamin D and Cancer

Vitamin D has also been linked to better outcomes in cancer. In breast, colon and prostate cancer, the sun-shine vitamin has been shown to suppress cancer growth and the formation of blood vessels that feed cancer cells. Furthermore, in a breast cancer study, 24 percent in the breast cancer study had adequate levels of the vitamin at the time of diagnosis. Those who were deficient were more likely to have the cancer metastasize or recur ten years later. Moreover, 73 percent of the deficient were more likely to die.

A study in the International Journal of Cancer found that vitamin D protects cells from oxidative stress. This study used the most biologically active form of the vitamin, vitamin D3 along with nonmalignant human prostate epithelial cells. Metabolism of cells produces free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer formation and accelerated aging. Vitamin D links with a gene that increases its activity and produces an enzyme that combats free radical damage by clearing the cell of those DNA-damaging substances. This relieves cell stress and retains healthy cells.

Vitamin D and Brain Function

Because of the many vitamin D receptors in the brain, it has been discovered that vitamin D plays a very important role in maintaining and achieving a healthy mind. Though more research in this particular area of vitamin D functions is needed, it is worth mentioning since vitamin D has been indicated in children with brain dysfunction (its exact mechanisms are still unclear at present).

Though behavioral and cognitive difficulties and their association to low vitamin D levels is still a little sketchy, what is known is how low vitamin D levels affect depression in the elderly. Accompanied by an overactive parathyroid, low vitamin D levels have been implicated to increase depression in older adults, and in other mental disorders. This information is particularly important because, instead of treating patients with dangerous psychotropic medications that have hazardous side effects, depression could in the future be treated with a higher intake of vitamin D or more calcium and exposure to sunlight.


Now that many of the health benefits of vitamin D have been shown, it is time to describe where to find this vitamin and who needs it the most. The largest source of this vitamin is the sun. Contrary to popular belief, spending time in the sun daily is not deadly. Though there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, never spending any time in the sun is certainly not the better alternative. Lighter individuals need less time than darker individuals, about 15 minutes in the sun daily. For darker individuals, more time is need than 15 minutes (approximately 30 minutes).

Another source is through diet. Raw milk naturally contains vitamin D, but the largest dietary source
would have to be cod liver oil.

As for who needs vitamin D the most, everybody needs it! However, it has been recently shown that young children and infants tend to be deficient, even though they appear healthy otherwise. Currently, the new info on vitamin D and all its varying abilities has prompted many to deem the recommended daily allowance (RDA) to be far too low -- the highest amount suggested being 600 IU. The Vitamin D Council recommends at least 1,000 IU (or 25 ug/day).

To sum up all this info on supplementing this vitamin: if people get plenty of sunshine, raw milk, and cod liver oil, many would surely reap the benefits of this vitamin.

Overall, vitamin D has been for years underestimated in its abilities and its health benefits. The future only holds more data on how important this vitamin is; therefore, supplementation needs to be more emphasized.


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About the author
Ella Andersen is a college student who intensely researchs topics on health and nutrition. In college, she is furthering her love of nutrition by pursuing a degree in clinical dietetics.
She also runs her own blog:

The Truth About Plastic

Some researchers have raised worrisome questions in recent years about the safety of some common types of plastics. As plastic ages or is exposed to heat or stress, it can release trace amounts of some of its ingredients. Of particular concern are bisphenol-a (BPA), used to strengthen some plastics, and phthalates, used to soften others.

These chemicals are used in hundreds of household items; BPA is in everything from baby bottles to can linings, while phthalates are found in children's toys as well as vinyl shower curtains. They enter your body through the food, water and bits of dust you consume, or are simply absorbed through your skin.

BPA and phthalates are endocrine disrupters, which mimic hormones. Estrogen and other hormones in relatively tiny amounts can cause vast changes, so researchers worry that BPA and phthalates could do the same, especially in young children.

To cut down on your exposure, avoid plastic bottles and toys labeled with the numbers 3 or 7, which often contain BPA or phthalates, and steer clear of vinyl shower curtains and canned foods, especially those with acidic contents like tomatoes. You can also avoid heating plastic in microwaves.


* Time July 10, 2008

Break the Habit of Wasting Food

Here are some ways that you can cut down on the amount of food you waste each day:

Avoid the supermarket

Supermarkets encourage you to buy more than you need. If you have to go to a supermarket, make a list of what you need beforehand, and stick to it rigorously -- and make sure that these are groceries you genuinely need, and not items you are just in the habit of buying.

Shop daily for perishables

By shopping daily for what you need, you are less likely to buy mounds of vegetables, meat and fish that will then sit in the fridge until they go bad. Plus, you will re-establish a connection with those who produce the food you eat.

Bulk-buy non-perishables

Bulk-buying staples such as rice, pasta and lentils online is cheaper than visiting the supermarket, and reduces the likelihood of being enticed into buying additional food as you stroll the aisles.

Be storage savvy

There are ton of household tips for storing foods to increase their longevity (many of them appear on the site) including topping and tailing carrots as soon as you buy them to prolong their life, keeping apples in the fridge so they last days longer than in the fruit bowl, and ensuring your olive oil is kept somewhere cool and dry to prevent the breakdown of the fatty acids.

Meal-plan for the week

If, at the beginning of the week, you work out precisely what you wish to cook over the next seven days, you can then shop with a degree of rigor, are less likely to be distracted by other products on the supermarket shelves.

Buy quality not quantity

If you buy cheap supermarket food you have no compunction about throwing it away, but if you buy quality food you're more likely to use every last bit of it.


The website will point you in the direction of your nearest group of freecyclers, a "grassroots and entirely non-profit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns" -- stuff that often includes perfectly usable food.

Reacquaint yourself with your freezer

The freezer is the perfect place for making food last. has plenty of basic tips for the novice freezer.

Don't be afraid of an empty fridge

You do not need to buy acres of food each week to keep it chock-full.

Grow your own herbs and salad

Packets of herbs and bagged salad are among the products most likely to go bad in the fridge, so if you have a garden, balcony or windowbox, use that space to grow your own.

Buy vegetables whole

A lettuce bought whole and kept in your fridge will not go bad as quickly as a pre-prepared salad will, because as soon as fruit or vegetables are processed in any way, they begin to decompose.

Bulk-cook meals

Cook twice as much as you need of one dish and freeze the extra portions.

Learn how to use leftovers

There are websites out there ( and, to name but two) that, once you've typed in the primary and secondary ingredients you have spare, will go away and search their databases for recipes to use them up.

Take sell-by dates with a pinch of salt

As a general rule, only "use by" is worth taking seriously; "sell-by" and "display-until" dates are merely stock-control devices for food retailers, and "best before" is simply the producer's estimate of when the food will stop tasting good, which is fairly subjective anyway.

Rediscover packed lunches

Leftovers can easily be recycled as packed lunches for children and adults alike.

Equip yourself

Introduce yourself to the stockpot, the freezer bag, and the salad spinner.


* The Guardian July 8, 2008

Drugs Intended to Build Bones Actually Weaken Them

Questions have emerged over whether long-term use of bone-building drugs for osteoporosis may actually lead to weaker bones in some people.

The concern rises from a series of case reports showing a rare type of leg fracture that shears straight across the upper thighbone, often after little or no trauma. People who have used bone-building drugs called bisphosphonates for five years or more have reported that after weeks or months of unexplained aching, their thighbones simply snapped while they were walking or standing.

A recent study reported on 20 patients with the fracture. Nineteen had been using the bone drug Fosamax for an average of 6.9 years. Last year, another report tracked 13 women with low-trauma fractures, including 9 who had been on long-term Fosamax therapy.


* New York Times July 15, 2008

Study finds high incidence of vitamin D insufficiency in breast cancer survivors

In article published in the July, 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the National Cancer Institute, and other research centers report a high incidence of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency among female breast cancer survivors.

The current study utilized data from 790 participants in the multiethnic Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle (HEAL) study of breast cancer patients, which sought to determine the effect of diet, hormones, and other factors on breast cancer prognosis and survival. Blood samples collected within three years following the participants’ breast cancer diagnosis were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, the primary biomarker used to evaluate vitamin D status. Dietary questionnaires were used to obtain information concerning vitamin D intake levels from food and supplements.

Few women were found to have levels of vitamin D of at least 32 nanograms per milliliter that are sufficient for optimal health. Insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D were detected in 75.6 of the participants, with African-American women experiencing the lowest levels. Women who had been diagnosed with localized or regional breast cancer had lower vitamin D levels than those with in situ (noninvasive) disease. Only a quarter of the women reported using supplements.

In their discussion, the authors note that some evidence suggests an association between vitamin D status and survival in breast cancer and other cancer patients. Vitamin D regulates cell growth, induces programmed cell death, reduces proliferation and enhances immune response throughout the body. The vitamin is especially important for chemotherapy patients due to the drugs’ side effect of lowered immune function. The current study may be of particular significance to African American patients due to their lower levels of the vitamin and poor breast cancer survival rates.

Concerning the lower levels of vitamin D found in participants with local or regional stage breast cancer in comparison with women with in situ disease, the authors remark that vitamin D deficiency before diagnosis could result in the advancement of early, noninvasive lesions due to a reduction in the antiproliferative and antimetastatic properties of vitamin D noted in other studies.

“Vitamin D therapy could be a useful, cost-effective treatment for breast cancer patients,” the authors write. “Clinicians may want to consider testing their breast cancer patients for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and to offer appropriate recommendations, if necessary, to improve vitamin D status.”

17 July 2008

How the Food Industry Contributes to Overweight, Obesity and the Unique and Highly Effective Body Ecology Solution

According to statistics, 65% of Americans are overweight. And we’re told that to lose the weight, all we have to do is eat less and exercise more.

If only maintaining a normal weight was actually that easy!

Weight In The Modern World

Consider these factors that make us more prone to put on pounds:

* Long work weeks
* Chronic stress
* Lack of sleep
* Environmental Toxins
* Car-centric city planning
* Myriad TV, video game and computer entertainment options
* Abundant processed foods and fast food restaurants
* A belief that “more is better” when it comes to portions of food and drinks

The very structure of our daily lives makes obesity more a likelihood than a possibility. Even worse, food manufacturers understand that certain ingredients make us want MORE...and they are using this knowledge to their advantage.

According to Dr. Marion Nestle, head of New York University’s department of nutrition and food studies, food manufacturers are already producing too much food for the population (about 1,600 calories more per person per day!)...which means they have to cut back on production and at the same time raise prices OR get you to eat more.
So how do they get you to eat more?

They increase portion sizes, create more opportunities for snack times (vending machines in schools, for example) and add ingredients to foods that make you want to eat more. Examples of common ingredients in foods and drinks that can cause you to want to eat more are: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame and refined mineral-depleted salt.3,4

How the Processed Foods Industry Tries to Manipulate You

Remember your last trip to the movies? Did you eat salty popcorn and then crave a sweet fizzy soda?

Your body is actually seeking balance...the balance of consuming too much salt then makes you go back for that sweet tasting cola. But with all of the additives and chemicals in foods these days, your body starts to lose its sense of balance all together. You eventually may not know why you keep reaching for more and more food, without feeling satisfied.
Americans alone spend between $30 – more than $50 million annually on weight loss products and services. And as obesity becomes a global epidemic, food manufacturers (especially in Europe) are starting to be scrutinized for their contribution to growing waistlines.

European government departments responsible for food safety are encouraging food manufacturers to reduce quantities of salt, fat and sugar to aid the growing problems with obesity.

With no real requirements, some European companies are taking the scrutiny more seriously than others…most likely due to changing consumer demand for healthier products. Yet, while this scrutiny of ingredients seems like a good thing, I can’t help but notice that they have it all wrong.

Our food supply seems to be focused more on ingredient manipulation than on going back to the basics: natural whole foods that are chemical and additive free. Instead, it seems that our food supply and by proxy, our bodies, have become part of a giant lab experiment.

Here are two recent examples of ingredient manipulation in the name of weight loss:

* Leaterhead Food International (LFI) is looking into creating ingredients that suppress hunger.5
* Researchers from St George's University of London are encouraging food manufacturers to reduce the quantity of salt in food. The research showed that a reduction of salt intake would reduce children’s desire to consume sweetened soda pop, which has been shown to contribute to obesity.6

Empower Yourself for Healthy Weight Loss

For too many years we’ve waited for food and pharmaceutical drug manufacturers to create the “magic pill” for weight no avail. Yet somehow, our ancestors seemed to face significantly less health and weight issues than we do today.

When you turn back the pages of time, even just 60 – 70 years, you start to see some common threads when it comes to healthy weight: we were closer to nature and natural products.

All of the “improvements” that modern life has brought us, have also exposed our bodies and lives to the kind of technology and chemicals that the human body was not “built” to withstand.

When I created the Body Ecology system of health and healing, it was to address digestive problems, fatigue and low immunity. Over decades of research and anecdotal evidence from thousands of Body Ecology followers, I realized how crucial a healthy digestive tract is to human health and wellness.

In fact, I truly believe that the missing link is deep within your digestive tract. Just like the earth has ecosystems that maintain balance or homeostasis, your intestines contain an “inner ecosystem” that keeps YOU in balance.
Inside your inner ecosystem is a mix of bacteria and yeast (microflora) and if you have enough healthy microflora to keep the bad guys in check, your immunity is strong.

Unfortunately, our modern life has created too many people with imbalanced inner ecosystems and therefore, lowered immunity. And it’s not just health issues that result...weight issues show up as well.

If you want to truly heal your body and maintain a healthy weight, I encourage you to simply go back to the basics...go back to Nature and natural solutions.
Rather than being a part of someone else’s lab experiment, choose to educate yourself about your body’s true needs for nutrition and balance. I encourage you to read The Body Ecology Diet to learn about the 7 healing superfoods found in nature and the 7 principles that create long-term natural health and balance.

And if there’s one “magic pill” that I’ve found in my research, it can only be fermented foods and drinks. Not truly a pill, but certainly seeming like magic, fermented foods and drinks contain probiotics that boost your immunity and definitely assist in weight loss.
Instead of suppressing hunger, which is a natural and necessary function of the human body, probiotics reduce or eliminate cravings for sugar and processed foods.

Because after all, instead of you trying to manipulate and control your body (which never works in the long run), wouldn’t you rather your body supported you in perfect health and weight as it was created to do?

Over the years, I’ve become frustrated with what is happening in our food supply, particularly to our children’s health and childhood obesity.

This is truly the only reason that I developed healing products as part of the Body Ecology line. Imagine a world where children drank probiotic liquids that contribute to growth, intelligence, happiness and productiveness rather than destroyed it?

Imagine a world where adults and even young children drank Green Drinks for a pick-me up every morning instead of coffee?

Imagine a world where you felt empowered to be healthy...instead of confused and frustrated by the latest in ingredient and drug technology?

Take charge of your health. I invite you to make a 3-month investment in healing your digestion, your immunity, your weight and your health on the Body Ecology program. Come back to Nature and natural solutions...your body will thank you for it!

Hellmich, Nanci, “An overweight America comes with a hefty price tag,”
2 Body Ecology Newsletter.
3, Mirkin, Gabe, MD. High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity.

4 Daniells, Steven. Study links salt and soft drinks to childhood obesity. February 2008. Food

5 Crowley, Laura. Satiety feeds appetite for ingredient launches. April 2008. Food

6 Daniells, Steven.

Elliott, Sharon S., et. al. Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922, November 2002

Hellmich, Nanci, “An overweight America comes with a hefty price tag,”

Duenwald, Mary. A CONVERSATION WITH: MARION NESTLE; An 'Eat More' Message For a Fattened America. New York Times. February 2002.

3, Mirkin, Gabe, MD. High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity.
4 Daniells, Steven. Study links salt and soft drinks to childhood obesity. February 2008. Food

Vitamin D Tests Soar as Deficiency is Linked to Disease

Testing for vitamin D levels, once a relatively uncommon procedure, has skyrocketed as medical studies raise awareness about vitamin D deficiencies.

At Quest Diagnostics, tests ordered for vitamin D grew by about 80 percent from May 2007 to May 2008. Lab Corp. of America saw a 90 percent leap in D test requests from 2007 to 2008, and the Mayo Clinic processed 74 percent more tests in 2007 than in 2006.

The jump in vitamin D testing comes in the wake of emerging research linking vitamin D deficiency with infectious diseases, cancers, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders. Other research indicates that many Americans are deficient in vitamin D.


* USA Today July 14, 2008

Positive Thinking is a Prescription for Your Heart

Optimism is good for heart health, at least among men.

Men who believe that they are at lower-than-average risk for cardiovascular disease actually experienced a three times lower incidence of death from heart attacks and strokes. The data did not support the same conclusion among women.

One possible explanation for the gender difference is that the study began in 1990, when heart disease was believed to be primarily a threat to men; women's judgments about how at risk they were for heart attacks might have been disproportionately low.

The 15-year surveillance study involved almost 3,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 75 who had no history of heart disease.


* Science Blog July 14, 2008

Book Update: Understanding my audience…

As I started introspecting, I realized that one of the biggest drawbacks of my writing style --- at least initially --- was that I was not paying sufficient attention to my audience profile. I did not have a clear vision of who I was writing for. During this phase, I would at times, unthinkingly meander into areas, which could not have of direct interest to my target audience, namely, my patients, their family members and my peers.

I also realized that identifying and analyzing your target audience is by no means a simple task. You have to put yourself in the position of people you might not know; reading something you haven't yet started to write.

Most writers want to concentrate first on content. Their knowledge and opinions are understandably what they feel most comfortable with. They want to write something first and shape it later. But in my view, resisting this temptation is important.
I for instance had to figure out and segment three different audience profile for my book:
• My patients
• Their papers and other support members
• Everybody else interested in knowing more about health nutrition

By this time, I had realized that audience No.#1 and 2, were my core audience and audience no.#3 were incidental to my content. This analysis helped narrow down my focus.

Dr Kevin Lau

Research: "The Myelin Project" - Autism and Stem Cells

The exciting work of researchers funded by The Myelin Project, whose goal is to remyelinate the human central nervous system, may someday have benefits for autistic children. Only time will tell if a specific area of damaged neurons can be found and potentially repaired with stem cells.

The first human trial, conducted by Dr. Timothy Vollmer at Yale University School of Medicine, will attempt to transplant myelin-forming Schwann cells into the brains of five patients with multiple sclerosis. The cells will be obtained from the sural nerves of the patients themselves. Although Schwann cells normally produce myelin in the peripheral nervous system, several recent experiments conducted on rodents and cats have shown these cells have the ability to remyelinate in the CNS as well.

While multiple sclerosis is a long way from autism, there is discussion of anti-myelin antibodies in autism, and there is talk of inflammatory processes involving myelin. Whether this technology can help autism if it works for multiple sclerosis is anybody's guess, but it's exciting to wonder about.

The Myelin Project funds a Cell Culture Unit at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Dr. Su-chun Zhang continues to generate cultures with ever-higher percentages of human oligodendrocyte precursors (OPs). Oligodendrocytes are the cells that normally myelinate the CNS. If obtainable in sufficient quantity, they would provide an alternative to Schwann cells for transplantation. The Unit has developed a method to track transplanted OPs by MRI, labeling the cells with iron particles. In another recent experiment, Dr. Baron-Van Evercooren and colleagues were able to remyelinate as many as 55% of the nerves in monkey spinal cord lesions by transplanting the monkeys' own Schwann cells. These initial positive results, however, have not been confirmed in subsequent attempts. She suspects that the viral labels she used to distinguish the transplanted cells caused them to die. She is trying again without viral labeling. If successful, this experiment would prove that CNS remyelination is feasible in higher animals.

Several researchers funded by The Myelin Project have injected myelin-forming cells into the ventricles of the brain of experimental animals and have shown that these cells were transported by the cerebrospinal fluid to all regions of the brain. This makes it more likely that injected cells will travel to where the myelin needs to be repopulated.

The Myelin Project has funded Dr. Oliver Br½stle of the University of Bonn, Germany, and Dr. Evan Snyder of Harvard University to work with neural stem cells (NSC). These are self-renewing, multipotent cells, capable of differentiating into the major types of neural cells, including oligodendrocytes. One of their most potentially beneficial properties is their tendency to respond to signals in the CNS environment. In CNS diseases, these signals guide the cells to damaged areas. Second, they prompt them to differentiate into the specific cell type needed for the repair -- neurons in nerve diseases like Parkinson's and oligodendrocytes in myelin disorders like the leukodystrophies and multiple sclerosis.

NSCs are typically of fetal origin, but have also been found in the adult brain. NSCs can be multiplied in culture indefinitely as an "immortal" cell line. They could eventually provide an inexhaustible source of myelin-forming cells, eliminating the need for obtaining them from fresh tissue. Several research centers are now testing human NSCs to verify their safety and in particular to rule out any risk of their becoming cancerous. If this testing concludes favorably, then prospective myelin repair strategies could take a two-fold approach. NSCs would be injected into the ventricular system where the cerebrospinal fluid would circulate them to all parts of the CNS. Local signals would then come into play, guiding the cells to the specific demyelinated areas.

The Myelin Project has also funded Dr. Robin Franklin of the University of Cambridge to study olfactory ensheathing cells, a third type of myelin-producing cell. He has perfected a technique for demyelinating the area of rat brain connecting the cerebellum with the brain stem. He subsequently remyelinated the area by transplanting rat Schwann cells, which adds to the body of evidence in favor of Schwann cell transplantation as a way of repairing CNS myelin lesions.

The Myelin Project has also funded Dr. Inderjit Singh of the Medical University of South Carolina to study the use of Lovastatin in the treatment of myelin disorders. The drug corrects the biochemical defect of adrenoleukodystrophy, lowering the levels of very long chain fatty acids in plasma. Preliminary studies with an animal model of MS have confirmed Lovastatin's ability to block the induction of cytokines, substances responsible for the inflammation of the CNS. We know that the levels of very long chain fatty acids and of some cytokines are elevated in autism. I am wonderijng already if Lovastatin might be worth trying for children with documented elevated very long chain fatty acids and elevated cytokines.

These studies present exciting possibilities for the future for treating neurodegenerative diseases. They may eventually have relevence for such diverse conditions as autism, cerebral palsy, and CNS vaccine damage syndromes. Time will tell.

16 July 2008

How Food Affects Your Brain

A balanced diet, along with regular exercise, can help protect the brain and ward off mental disorders.

Omega-3 fats in particular provide many benefits, including improving learning and memory and helping to fight against mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and dementia. Children who have high amounts of omega-3 fats in their diets tend to perform better in school in reading and spelling, and have fewer behavioral problems, he said.
The omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, may be especially important. It reduces oxidative stress and enhances synaptic plasticity and learning and memory, and is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in cell membranes in the brain.

Folic acid and curcumin may also have beneficial brain effects. At the same time, junk food and fast food negatively affect the brain's synapses. Several molecules related to learning and memory are adversely affected by unhealthy diets.


* Science Blog July 9, 2008

Fruit juice tied to modest rise in diabetes risk

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women wanting to ward off type 2 diabetes should load their plates with green leafy vegetables and whole fruits, but perhaps stay away from fruit juice, new research suggests.
Eating an additional three servings of whole fruit daily, or one more serving of spinach, kale or similar leafy green vegetable was tied to a lower risk of developing diabetes over an 18-year period among 71,346 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study.

"It was a modest decrease," Dr. Lydia A. Bazzano of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, told Reuters Health. "This is not going to...prevent it if you have many, many risk factors and you're's a tool in the prevention strategy."

Bazzano and colleagues analyzed data on the diets of Nurses' Health Study participants -- 4,529 of whom developed type 2 diabetes while they were being followed. They divided women into five groups based on fruit and vegetable intake, and also grouped them based on fruit juice consumption.

They found that an increase of three servings a day of whole fruit was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes, while a single additional serving of leafy green vegetables cut the risk by 9 percent. However, an additional daily serving of fruit juice increased the likelihood of developing diabetes by 18 percent.

While the findings must be replicated, Bazzano said, there are plausible mechanisms by which fruit juice could increase risk. "It's a big sugar load and it comes in a liquid form which is absorbed rapidly," she noted.

The findings, the study team concludes, suggest that "caution should be observed in replacing some beverages with fruit juices in an effort to provide healthier options. The same caution applies to the recommendation that 100 percent fruit juice be considered a serving of fruit as it is in the present national dietary guidelines."

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, July 2008.

12 Babies Die During Vaccine Trials in Argentina

At least 12 infants who were part of a clinical study to test a pneumonia vaccine have died in Argentina over the course of the past year.

The study was sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, and uses children from poor families. According to the Argentine Federation of Health Professionals, the families are "pressured and forced into signing consent forms”.

The vaccine trial is still ongoing despite the denunciations.

* Trading Markets July 10, 2008

Psychiatrists Manipulated by Drug Industry

After a series of stinging investigations of individual doctors’ arrangements with drug makers, Senator Charles E. Grassley is demanding that the American Psychiatric Association give an accounting of its financing. The association is considered the voice of establishment psychiatry.
In 2006, the drug industry accounted for about 30 percent of the association’s $62.5 million in financing. About half of that money went to drug advertisements in psychiatric journals and exhibits at the annual meeting.

One of the doctors named by Mr. Grassley is Dr. Alan F. Schatzberg, the association’s president-elect. Dr. Schatzberg’s $4.8 million stock holdings in a drug development company raised the senator’s concern.


* New York Times July 12, 2008

The CDC Vastly Underestimates the Autism Menace

The time has come for everyone to stop referencing the Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistic which states that 1 in every 150 children has an autism spectrum disorder. Did we really ever believe the numbers the CDC presented to the world? Do we rarely believe anything that comes out of the collective mouth of the CDC? If the CDC wanted to tell the truth, they wouldn’t have had to look far to get to that truth.

For far too long it has been we the parents and our national autism organizations who have uncovered and spoken the truth. We are speaking the truth again, and the CDC needs to be confronted.

In early October of 2007, Dr. Edward Yazbak and Ray Gallup of the Vaccine Autoimmune Project (VAP) released a report titled “When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67”. This report which puts the autism prevalence at 1 in every 67 children is based on Department of Education statistics. Keep in mind that Dr. Yazbak and Ray’s report only includes children who qualify for special education services through the autism eligibility category. This excludes potentially thousands of children, including my own. If your child has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, but qualifies for special education through an Other Health Impaired or Developmental Delay category; your child is not accounted for in the 1 in every 67 children report. Our schools can not keep track of all of our children.
A few days ago a fellow military advocate mom sent me a document that was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The information in the FOIA document confirms Dr. Yazbak and Ray’s report.

The statistics contained in this FOIA document cover a 24 month period of tracking. They only include those children or adults who were seen during this time period by medical personnel who used one of the many diagnosis codes pertaining to ASD. Plain English; if the child or adult was not seen for something relating to their ASD by a provider who accepted Tricare during that time period, they are not included in the stats. Again, this excludes potentially thousands of children due to the limited tracking time. And again, all of our children can not be kept track of; this time by the military and Tricare.

The document obtained explains that there are a total of 22,356 people with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder service wide (includes all branches of service); the vast majority are children of active duty or retired active duty dependents with ASD. The vast majority comprise a total of 22,027 military dependent children with autism. Of the 22,027 military dependent children with autism, 13,243 are children of active duty members.

According to a 2005 Department of Defense (DoD) publication (click on the download feature to view) there are 1,177,190 military dependent children service wide (page 49). This is what the numbers show:

1,177,190 (children service wide) /13243 (active duty (AD) dependent children with autism service wide) = 1 in 88

Due to the limitations of the tracking I think it’s safe to say that a heck of a lot of children were missed.

According to the FOIA document there are 8,784 dependent children with autism of retired military members. Information on the total number of dependent children of retired members has been hard to come by. Again, no one is keeping track, or so it seems.

So let’s play with some numbers, shall we?

According to the above mentioned 2005 DoD report (page 36), there were 52,270 members that retired between 2000 and 2005. According to the DoD report, the average number of children in an active duty family is two. Let’s cover the last 20 years of members retiring, and come up with a guesstimate of how many military dependent children of retired members there are. If there are roughly 52,270 members retiring in every five year period we have a total of 209,080 retired military members. If each of those retired members has on average, two children (refer to DoD report page 47), we would have roughly 418,160 military dependent children of retired military members.

418,160 (military dependent children of retired members) / 8,784 (military dependent children with autism of retired members) = 1 in 47

Now granted folks, we’re working with the second part of this equation which is a guesstimate number…

88 (active) + 47 (retired) = 135/2=67

WHAT! you say?

Yes, you are reading correctly. 1 in 67 military dependent children with autism.

“When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67”, in our schools.

“When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67”, in the United States Armed Forces.

It is time to start sounding the alarm bells, and every warning system we have. The autism tsunami has made landfall. It is time to confront the CDC. It is time to take this new information to our Congressional leaders. They need to be educated and be given a grave warning as to the financial ramifications in store for this country if our children don’t receive treatment, and agencies such as the CDC, NIH, IOM, FDA, and AAP continue to refuse to address the autism epidemic with complete transparency.

The time has come. Our children with autism need treatment, help and support. Our families need help and support.

The time has come for strong, swift, and deliberate action on the part of our government to provide every single child with autism the health insurance coverage necessary to recover our children with autism. Yes, they do recover.

The time has come for true leaders to step up to the plate. I challenge you to do just that right now. Step up to the plate.

The time has come. There is no more 1 in 150. There are 1 in 67 children with autism in this country, and the rate of children with autism increases every year.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead
The time has come.

15 July 2008

My Book: Long is not necessarily useful…

As I proceeded with my writing I came to identify some general characteristics of good writing, particularly for a book of this nature that’s meant not for the medical community but for lay patients. The win-win attributes that I identified for my book are: clarity, accuracy, accessibility, conciseness and correctness.

Clarity to my mind implies that the writing must have one and just one meaning and this meaning must emerge in a straightforward, unambiguous way. Lack of accuracy likewise leads to lack of readability; while accessibility implies the ease with which readers can locate the information they are seeking.

Finally, I also wanted to limit my book to a maximum of 80-90 pages. Beyond that, I am convinced that fatigues sets in, especially in case of non-fiction. The longer a non-fiction document is, the more difficult it is to use, for the simple reason that it takes more of user's time.

Further, clarity and conciseness are often at loggerheads with each other, but in the end analysis it is possible to balance the two. It is for instance, possible to shorten most writing by 10-20% simply by eliminating unnecessary phrases, eliminating all the medical jargon and choosing shorter over longer words and using economical grammatical forms, what is what I did with this book.

14 July 2008

U.S. Government Finally Paying Attention to 'Fringe' Autism Treatment That Works

Government researchers are pushing to test chelation therapy, an as yet unproven treatment on autistic children.

The treatment removes heavy metals from the body and is based on the theory that mercury in vaccines triggers autism. Many parents of autistic children attest to the success of the treatment, and the head of the National Institute of Mental Health now supports testing it on children provided the tests are safe.

For now, the proposed study has been put on hold because of safety concerns.

Any study of chelation in children would have to exclude those with high levels of lead or mercury, which would require treatment and preclude using a placebo.


* USA Today July 8, 2008