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14 July 2011

Salt: How Bad Is It, Really?

Much like cell phones and eggs, salt is one of those things that studies say is bad for you one day, but O.K. the next.

Just last year, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated (using previous studies' numbers) that the U.S. could prevent 44,000 deaths annually if Americans reduced their salt intake by 3 grams per day.

Then, early this month, a review of seven real-life interventions to reduce salt consumption found nothing of the sort. The review, from the Cochrane Collaboration, found only ambiguity, with no evidence to suggest that salt reduction did the trial participants any good or any harm.

"It's Time to End the War on Salt," a headline in Scientific American proclaimed last week. "For every study that suggests that salt is unhealthy, another does not," the article said. As if to prove that point, a new paper this week in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine now argues, again, that too much salt is bad.

The latest study used national U.S. survey data linked to mortality files to show that the more salt people ate, the higher their death rates from all causes combined. The study looked further at salt intake in relation to potassium intake, and found that the lower people's potassium and the higher their sodium, the more likely they were to develop heart disease or die of a heart-related cause.

So just how bad is salt for us exactly — and why is there so much disagreement on the issue?

Scientists Discover That Antimicrobial Wipes and Soaps May Be Making You (and Society) Sick

 Jul 5, 2011 06:59 AM | 22

A few weeks ago as I was walking out of a Harris Teeter grocery store in Raleigh, North Carolina, I saw a man face a moment of crisis. You could see it in the acrobatic contortions of his face. He had pulled a cart out of the area where carts congregate, only to find that its handle was sticky with an unidentifiable substance. He paused and looked at the handle, as if to imagine the nature of the offense. Gum? Meat juice? Chewed marshmallows? So many vulgar possibilities. Forlorn, he reached for an antibiotic wipe conveniently placed by the door. He scrubbed his hands VERY diligently and then pushed the cart back for someone else to rediscover [1].
Scenarios like this one are playing out all over America. There is an epidemic of sticky, dirty and otherwise gross handles on shopping carts. But it isn't just carts. Disgusting doorknobs have also been found, as have cryptically damp table-tops in restaurants and even, sad as it is, slimy back rests on the weight machines in gyms! Increasingly, the world seems to be rife with contamination. Fortunately, all of the main companies producing hygiene products have offered a solution--sanitary, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antibiotic, wipes, and soaps to kill anything that dares to creep into our wholesome lives. These salves will cure us of the demons that dare to grow near us.
The really intriguing news--a kind of breakthrough--is that the main compounds in antibiotic wipes, creams and soaps, triclosan and/or the chemically similar triclocarban, have also been sprinkled around our lives more generally. A recent study notes that triclosan is now used to "impregnate surfaces and has been added to chopping boards, refrigerators, plastic lunchboxes, mattresses as well as being used in industrial settings, such as food processing plants where walls, floors and exposed machinery have all been treated with triclosan in order to reduce microbial load." You can now go home, wipe your world down and live a happier life, surrounded by an antibiotic force field. Be especially sure to wipe your children down. Children are just about the grimiest thing in the world.

Report Reveals Immense Burden of Osteoporotic Fractures in Europe

ScienceDaily (June 15, 2011) — A new report launched June 15 by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) in collaboration with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA) reveals that the burden of fractures in Europe has been vastly underestimated. The report concludes that in Europe's five largest countries and Sweden alone, an estimated 2.5 million new fragility fractures occurred in 2010 -- the equivalent of 280 fractures per hour. It also showed an astounding eighty deaths per day attributable to fragility fractures.
'Osteoporosis: Burden, health care provision and opportunities in the European Union' examines both epidemiological and health economic aspects of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in Europe, and specifically in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK as well as Sweden.
It is estimated that one in three women and one in five men over the age of fifty worldwide will sustain an osteoporotic fracture, often resulting in substantial pain and suffering, disability, and even death. As a result, osteoporosis imposes a significant burden on both the individual and society. IOF President John Kanis stated, "This landmark report exposes a number of major issues and challenges related to health care provision for fragility fractures. What is particularly striking is how the economic burden of fractures has increased in just over a decade. In 2000 the economic burden of fractures for the then European Union was estimated at € 36 billion. The current estimate of € 30.7 billion for just six countries largely reflects the increased number of fractures due to Europe's aging population."
Several of the key findings regarding the economic and health cost of fragility fractures for the six countries studied include: • For the year 2010 approximately 2.5 million new fractures occurred in the six countries, with approximately 34,000 deaths caused by fractures -- 49% following hip fractures • The total health burden of osteoporotic fractures, measured in quality-adjusted life years (QALY) lost, was estimated at approximately 850,000 QALYs. • The health care cost, including pharmacological prevention, was estimated at Euro 30.7 billion -- corresponding to 3.5% of the total spending on health care in those countries. • A majority of the total costs was for the acute management of fracture whilst pharmacological prevention and treatment only represented 4.7% of total costs . • Despite the existence of management guidelines, a minority of patients receive medical treatment to prevent fractures. • In 2025 the projected number of fractures will increase by 29% reaching 3.2 million fractures, with health care costs increasing to Euro 38.5 billion. • Improved implementation of clinical guidelines to close this 'treatment gap' is cost-effective and could save almost 700,000 fractures by 2025. • The economic burden of osteoporotic fractures in these countries exceeds those for migraine, stroke, MS, and Parkinson's disease, and is similar to the burden of rheumatoid arthritis
In six clearly defined chapters, it provides an introduction to osteoporosis and then reviews medical innovation and clinical progress in the management of osteoporosis, the epidemiology and burden of the disease, the current uptake of osteoporosis treatments and the future burden of fractures as a consequence of increasing treatment uptake.
EFPIA Director General Richard Bergström commented, " In Europe the number of elderly is set to increase markedly, with individuals expected to enjoy a longer life expectancy than ever before. We also know that the incidence of fractures rises progressively with age, and as a result we can expect the economic and social impact of fractures to increase significantly unless action is taken. Fortunately, we have a host of effective diagnostic and treatment options at our disposal -- it is time to implement these advances fully. "

Diet tied to lower risk of vision loss in old age

NEW YORK | Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:23am EDT
(Reuters Health) - For people at a higher risk of losing central vision as they age, eating sufficient levels of certain dietary nutrients could help protect their eyes.
A new study finds that among people with a genetic susceptibility to macular degeneration -- vision loss caused by erosion of the retina - those who ate higher levels of zinc, antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids cut their risk of developing the disease by as much as a third compared with those who ate lower levels of the nutrients.
"Therefore, clinicians should provide dietary advice to young susceptible individuals to postpone or prevent the vision-disabling consequences of (age-related macular degeneration)," the researchers wrote in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.
Age-related macular degeneration is common, accounting for half of all cases of blindness in developed countries, they note.
In the United States, the condition occurs in more than six out of every 100 adults over age 40.

What Caused America to Go from Fit to Fat?

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) have released their annual report on obesity, and there’s no sunshine here. The report is aptly titled F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011 [download PDF].
The report is released every year (since 2006) and tracks obesity rates in all 50 states. The stats below make us want to cry. Seriously, we’re headed down a path of pain and agony for tens of millions of families, and for this entire nation.

12 July 2011

5 Foods that Keep You Thin

Take a look around any book store, and you'll find dozens of diet books lining the shelves. Despite their bright and cheerful covers, with their positive, upbeat claims, many of them are filled with information that promotes all the wrong messages.

"The word 'diet' is negative and implies people can go on and off them," said Jane Korsberg, a senior instructor in the department of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Korsberg is one nutritionist who thinks it would be better to re-think the whole concept of dieting.

"'Diet foods' are confusing to many people," she explained. "What diet is the 'diet food' geared for? Is it low-calorie, low-fat, low-sodium, low-sugar, gluten-free, et cetera?"

Besides, many of the foods that specifically target dieters seem to rarely satisfy. Take those 100-calorie snack packs, for example, made to help people control calories. Those often don't even work, Korsberg says. After all, few people actually stop at only one pack.

You don't need fancy plans or complicated point systems to be thin. All you need to do is make smart food choices, watch your portion sizes and stay active.

"Learning to eat properly for a lifetime is more beneficial," Korsberg said. "The emphasis should be on choosing healthful foods every day and changing lifestyles for the better."

So instead of sticking to diet fare, fill up on nutritious, wholesome foods. And if you need some recommendations, you can start with these five options, which are among the many delicious foods that make a good addition to healthy eating while keeping you slender.


Apples are a good source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber not only contributes to a healthy digestive system and reduced cholesterol, but it also benefits smart eaters by yielding no calories while keeping them satisfied.

And there's something else about the fruit that might help you feel full. A study in the journal "Appetite" found that when women added either three apples or three pears to their daily meals, they lost more weight than people who added three oat cookies to their diets -- even though the fruit and the cookies contained the exact same amount of dietary fiber.

Although the reason behind this finding may be a mystery, there is something to be said for the findings. According to Alan Aragon, a nutritionist and author of "Girth Control: The Science of Fat Loss & Muscle Gain," crunchy foods in particular can trick a person into feeling fuller. The act of chewing may send satiety signals to your body, he says, making you think you've eaten more than you really have and keeping hunger at bay.


If you're looking for a tasty midday snack, a handful of almonds are a well-regarded option. A study in 2009 in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that women who ate nuts at least two times a week were more successful at keeping weight off than those who didn't eat this food.

One particular favorite among some nutritionists is almonds, says Aragon. One ounce of this food contains only 167 calories, plus it packs roughly 6 g of protein and 3 g of fiber, both nutrients that can make you feel full. Furthermore, like apples, almonds are crunchy and require a lot of chewing, so they, too, can make you feel like you've eaten more than you actually did and keep you fuller longer.


If you're uncertain about fish, there's no need to fear. Seafood can be part of a healthy diet. And there's some evidence that the fat in foods such as salmon can boost satiety levels, says Aragon. For example, a study published in the "International Journal of Obesity" found that when dieters ate salmon a few times a week, they lost about two more pounds than those who didn't include seafood in their meals.

And in spite of the mention of salmon's fat content, the food is relatively low in calories. One 3-oz. serving has just 175 calories. Salmon is a good source of protein as well.


There's no doubt that protein, like fiber, has impressive satiating powers. And while eggs seem to have a bad reputation in some circles, there can be no contesting their ability to help keep your weight in check.

Research has shown that eating eggs at breakfast can help you fight weight gain all day long. A study reported in 2008 in the "International Journal of Obesity" found that when dieters ate two eggs for breakfast for five days out of the week, they lost 65 percent more weight than dieters who consumed a bagel in the morning. Although protein is likely to fill you up whenever you eat it, some scientists suspect that having more in the morning can keep you feeling fuller all day long.


It's true that most veggies make for great diet fare. Non-starchy vegetables in particular, such as carrots, celery and spinach, are filled with fiber. Like other foods high in fiber, they can help keep you feeling satiated.

Plus, they're pretty self-regulating, says Aragon. You can't really overeat with nonstarchy vegetables. After all, how many baby carrots can a person eat without needing to dunk them in some ranch dressing?

So while there are many veggies that can help you stay slim, tomatoes might be a particularly good option because they're so tasty. And, besides, with that whole a-tomato-is-a-vegetable-no-it's-a-fruit argument, you might have forgotten all about eating them. One cup of cooked, red tomatoes contains just 43 calories, but tastes just as delicious as any number of high-calorie foods.

And that's at least half the secret, finding foods that are both healthy and tasty. The good thing is, they do exist. Over time, you'll discover what wholesome, filling foods you prefer, expanding your choices while shrinking your waistline.

Astaxanthin reduces reflux symptoms in patients, especially in those with pronounced H. pylori infection. - GreenMedInfo Summary

Efficacy of the natural antioxidant astaxanthin in the treatment of functional dyspepsia in patients with or without Helicobacter pylori infection: A prospective, randomized, double blind, and placebo-controlled study.

The primary objective was to test the hypothesis that the antioxidant astaxanthin at two doses regimens compared to placebo should ameliorate gastrointestinal discomfort measured as GSRS in patients with functional dyspepsia, who were either positive or negative for Helicobacter pylori, after 4 weeks of treatment.
At the end of therapy (week 4) no difference between the three treatment groups was observed regarding mean Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS) scores of abdominal pain, indigestion and reflux syndromes. The same results were observed at the end of follow-up. However reduction of reflux syndrome before treatment to week 4 was significantly pronounced in the higher (40mg) dose compared to the other treatment groups (16mg and placebo, p=0.04).
In general, no curative effect of astaxanthin was found in functional dyspepsia patients. Significantly greater reduction of reflux symptoms were detected in patients treated with the highest dose of the natural antioxidant astaxanthin. The response was more pronounced in H. pylori-infected patients.

Scoliosis in Adults – Problems Related with Abnormal Spine Curvature

Scoliosis is a disorder wherein the spine tends to curve away from the middle or sideways. The condition is typically indicated when the person’s shoulder seems more elevated than the other or the when his or her pelvis looks tilted.

Scoliosis in Adults - Causative Factors of the Condition

One of the known causes that lead to scoliosis in adults is congenital, which reveals that the disorder has been present at birth and only develops while in the mother’s womb. As the fetus grows, it is possible that the bones in the spine do not form properly or the ribs fuse together resulting to the curved spine. Another reason of scoliosis in adults is neuromuscular which can be due to the muscle weakness, poor muscle control, or paralysis as a result of diseases like spina bifida, cerebral palsy, polio, and muscular dystrophy. Nonetheless, one type has no identifiable cause yet - the Idiopathic scoliosis which develops from a previously straight spine.

Scoliosis Symptoms - Warning Signs and Diagnosis

Aside from the seemingly tilted shoulders and hips, scoliosis symptoms like backaches and other low-back pains can also be experienced by the person suffering from the said spinal disorder. Fatigue in the spine can also be felt after long periods of standing or sitting, while severe cases may result to breathing problems. These scoliosis symptoms can be confirmed through several diagnostic examinations like the forward-bending test for curve definition, X-ray, and some neurologic exams to observe changes in strength, reflexes, and sensation. Another means for diagnosis may involve the use of measuring device referred to as the scoliometer so as to determine the spine’s curvature.

Scoliosis Exercises - Treatment through Work-outs

In order to correct several muscular imbalances, various scoliosis exercises can be undergone by the patient. One is the yoga which generally contributes in stretching and strengthening the muscles through certain poses that focus onto the back area thereby addressing the curvature problem. Another is the Pilates which give more emphasis in improving posture by strengthening the core muscles. Aside from that, certain positions also facilitate gradual treatment of the condition. Seated exercise positions like twisted seating, doing back or concave arches, and upper back stretches are just some of the useful scoliosis exercises. Prone exercise positions may include leg lifting while standing exercises may involve back stretches.