Category Archives: General Health News

Yoga May Benefit People With Type 2 Diabetes



Everyone benefits from yoga – if they undergo proper training and continue with the practice. Regular practice of yoga benefits the body in the following ways:

It improves digestion, circulation, and immunity
Yoga enhances function of neurological and endocrine organs
It can prevents and provides relief from chronic illnesses
Overall the body feels healthier, more energetic
Diabetes is of two types – Type 1, where there is no production of insulin and Type 2, where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. In many cases, it is also easy to ignore diabetes in its early stage, especially, when you do not experience any symptoms.

The practice of yoga is effective as a preventive measure and also to treat Type 2 diabetes, where the causes are attributed to life style and stress.

Yoga attends to every aspect of an asana from start to finish, as well as the breath-work. So correct training is essential, before individual practice. The following asanas and pranayamas are effective for diabetes. They should be learned with proper guidance, before putting them into practice:

Mandukasan (the version with fists in stomach region)
Supta Vajrasan
Viprit karni – Sarvangasan – Halasan – Sarvangasan
Lie down and relax for a minute
Natrajasan (both legs on one side)
Purna Shalabhasan
Triyak Bhujangasan
Upward facing dog (Udharmukh swan asan)
Child pose
Udiyan Bandh
Parvatasan-Yog Mudra
Kapalbhati Nadisodhan pranayam

New Study On Texting And Driving Released

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/6, Forsyth) reports that Texas A&M’s Texas Transportation Institute released a study yesterday finding that using a cell phone while operating vehicles doubles a driver’s reaction time. The longer reaction time means drivers have less time to focus on the road and react to changing conditions. The study tested 42 drivers between 16 and 54 who sent and received text messages while driving on an 11-mile text rack. When not texting, a driver took one to two seconds to respond to a flashing light. However, a texting driver took three to four seconds, making them 11 times more likely to drive through the flashing light. This is the first study conducted on actual vehicles, not simulators. US DOT statistics show that about 20% of fatal accidents are due to texting and driving.

CDC Urges Americans To Get Flu Vaccine

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/22, Weise) reports, “Parents should put flu shots on their to-do list now, ‘a tuning up for winter,’ says William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.” Schaffner and other medical experts “on Wednesday urged Americans, especially pregnant women and children, to get vaccinated.” Urging others to follow his example, CDC Director Thomas Frieden “rolled up his sleeve and got his shot during the news conference.”

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/22, Roan) “Booster Shots” blog reports that most “drugstores, clinics, workplaces and doctor’s offices” already have the flu vaccine, according to health officials. “In addition to the traditional shot and nasal spray, an intradermal shot is now available consisting of a tiny needle that injects vaccine under the skin.” And, there is “a fourth type of flu vaccine is available to people ages 65 and older which consists of a much stronger dose of vaccine.” Frieden said, “It’s never been easier to get vaccinated, and now is the right time to get vaccinated.”

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/22, Martin, Subscription Publication) “Health Blog” reports that almost 70% of medical professionals are now urging their patients to get the flu shot. This figure represents a 10% increase compared to 2010. Meanwhile, data show that seniors are the most likely group to get vaccinated.

Drinking Water May Reduce Chances Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

The UK’s Daily Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/17, Bates) reported, “Drinking water instead of fizzy drinks could dramatically reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes,” according to a study presented Sept. 16 at the Sustaining the Blue Planet: Global Water Education Conference in Montana. Harvard University researchers presented “new evidence which shows replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water can lead to weight loss and help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by seven per cent.”

For a Healthy, Happy Return to School, Expert Advice From The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore

Transition from Summer to a Back-to-School Sleep Schedule Typically, during the summer, children go to bed later and wake up at different times, because they do not have to follow a school schedule. Shelby Harris, Psy.D., C.BSM, Director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center, can discuss how a child can adjust his/her sleep schedule to once again become acclimated to getting up earlier for school. Dr. Harris can provide advice on how kids can start school well-rested and establish a consistent sleep schedule which can help optimize learning. Her pointers include:

Maintain a steady sleep-wake schedule 7 days a week. No catching up on the weekends!

Have a regular and relaxing bedtime routine to wind down the hour before bedtime.

Make sure each step of the bedtime routine slowly moves closer and closer to the bed (e.g. bath, brush teeth, then into bedroom for PJs, book and finally bed).

Get back on a good, healthy diet overall. Oftentimes, kids’ diets will change over the summer. Limit sugar, chocolate, soda – especially from lunch afterwards.

Limit electronics and schoolwork within an hour of bedtime (and don’t allow them during the night, either!)

Easing a Child’s Back-to-School AnxietyChildren as well as teens are often anxious about going back to school. Anxiety can be a result of a transition from elementary to middle school, or challenges socially or academically. Mental health professionals at the Montefiore School Health Program observe many of these issues first-hand and are highly qualified to comment on a wide variety of back-to-school psychological issues. The Montefiore School Health Program, the largest of its kind in the U.S., offers a wide range of medical, dental, mental and community-based services to students and their families in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the Bronx. Since its inception more than 25 years ago, this essential program has steadily grown to 18 full-service centers throughout the borough.

Christine Cheng, Ph.D., Psychology Training Coordinator, licensed clinical psychologist, Montefiore School Health Program, and Instructor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Cheng helps children cope with various difficulties, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, bereavement and loss, impulse control, and adjustment issues, and she enjoys seeing children overcome them and blossom in their natural social milieu.

Bullying: What if Your Child is Being Bullied, or is a Bully?Bullying can impact the wellbeing of children and young people and have serious long-term consequences. It can undermine educational attainment and self-esteem and can destroy a sense of security. The most common forms of bullying reported by children are being verbally bullied, followed by exclusion and physical bullying. Parents and schools also need to be aware that cyber-bullying is affecting younger age groups as more children get mobile phones and have computer access.

Over the past four years, the Montefiore School Health Program mental health division has developed a curriculum called S.T.A.R., Strengthening Tween and Adolescent Relationships. This is an eight-week classroom based program designed to foster healthy relationships between students and reduce teen dating violence. S.T.A.R. was created by Cheryl Hurst, a Senior Social Worker at PS/MS 95 in the Bronx, one of 18 schools that make up the Montefiore School Health program, to teach 12 to 14 year olds how to develop healthy friendships and communicate in nonviolent and supportive ways. Ms. Hurst identified such a huge need, learning about the problems these kids face: cyber-bullying, financial pressures on parents who have lost jobs, poor parental support and more.

The Best School Lunch is Delicious and Energizing Whether packed in a brown bag or served on a cafeteria tray, a nutritious school lunch that’s tasty and satisfying is a welcome midday break for kids and gives them energy to get through the rest of the day. Clinical dietitian Lauren Graf, MS, RD, has tips for parents and kids as they gear up for another school year, from packing a colorful lunch with fresh fruits and vegetables to spotting healthy choices on the cafeteria line. Even for the pickiest of eaters, parents can find the right nutritional balance for their kids and help them adopt good eating habits that can last a lifetime.

Does your Child Need Eyeglasses? Now is the Best Time for Pediatric Eye Exams. The start of a new school season is the best time to have your child’s eyes examined. Some are obvious, such as sitting close to the TV or holding toys close to the eyes. Squinting to see at a distance, covering or closing one eye to see, may also indicate a need for glasses. It is important to remind parents that many eye disorders are inherited, especially a need for glasses. If Mom or Dad wore glasses at an early age, it would not be unusual for their child to need glasses as well.

Electronic Device Overuse May Lead To Increased Risk For Injury

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (9/11, BU8, Korki, Subscription Publication) reported, “As people harness their bodies to use more electronic devices in more places, they may unknowingly be putting themselves at a greater risk of injury.” Too much laptop, smartphone, and tablet computer use in and out of the office may leave people “at greater risk of eye strain, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.” What’s more, “repetitive actions that lead to overuse of muscles and tendons can inflame them, causing pain in the hands, shoulders, neck and back.” The article advised readers to take a frequent break from their electronic devices to rest their minds and bodies.

Waiting An Hour After Dinner Before Sleep May Reduce Stroke Risk


WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/31, Laino) reports, “A new study suggests that waiting at least an hour after dinner before going to sleep reduces your risk of stroke by about two-thirds.” The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting, also found that “for every 20 minutes more that you wait, stroke risk drops another 10%.” American College of Cardiology President David Holmes, MD, said, “When we eat, blood sugar changes, cholesterol levels change, blood flow changes,” all of which “may affect stroke risk.”

Chocolate May Reduce Heart Disease, Stroke Risk

ABC World News (8/29, story 10, 0:30, Sawyer) reported that “chocolate may be a kind of secret weapon against heart disease.”

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Torsoli) reports that “regular consumption” of chocolate “may slash the risk of developing heart disease by a third, according to research Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published in the British Medical Journal and presented…at the European Society of Cardiology’s conference in Paris.”

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Stein) “Booster Shots” blog reports that investigators analyzed data from “seven studies looking at the link between eating chocolate and a reduction in heart disease that included 114,009 people.”

The Time Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Melnick) “Healthland” blog reports, “Five of the seven studies showed some benefit to eating chocolate. Overall, people with the highest chocolate consumption levels had 37% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke than those who ate the least chocolate.”

The CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30) “The Chart” blog points out that “the studies, notably, did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of different types of chocolate (bars, shakes, etc.).”

MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/30, Neale) reports that one of the researchers “noted that most commercially available chocolate products are high in fat, sugar, and calories, and that overindulging could counteract any of the potential benefits, a sentiment echoed by Janet Wright, MD, vice president of science and quality for the American College of Cardiology.” In an interview, Dr Wright said, “We tend to take a little bit of advice and think that more is better,” but “in this case, more is probably not better because of the fat content and the calorie content.”

The 10 best back-to-school foods to give kids a boost

As children head back to school, it is important to arm them not only with the newest backpacks and pencils, but also with a nutritious diet. While the lure of fast food and quick meals can be enticing, fueling kids with healthy foods and a well-rounded diet can be easier than parents think.

“A new school year provides a great opportunity for parents to teach their kids how to make nutritious choices throughout the day,” says Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician and author of “Feeding Baby Green.” “Whether starting the day off with organic milk or packing school lunches with lots of fruits and veggies, making a conscious choice to focus on nutrition as kids return to the classroom can start with a few simple choices at the grocery store.”

To help parents get their children off to a nutritious start this school year, Horizon, the leading milk brand in the U.S., has partnered with Dr. Greene to develop the following list of the 10 best back to school foods:

The back-to-school top 10:

1. Organic milk

With some studies indicating that only one in 10 girls and one in four boys meet their calcium needs, it’s important to keep calcium-rich foods front and center in kids’ diets. Organic milk, which is produced without the use of antibiotics, toxic synthetic pesticides or artificial growth hormones, is a great choice for lunchboxes and breakfast time. Horizon makes convenient single serve milk boxes that pack perfectly into lunchboxes and provide a nutrient-rich alternative to juice drinks and other nutrient-poor beverages. In addition, Horizon organic milk with DHA omega-3 is a good choice for breakfast beverages or paired with low-sugar, whole grain cereals. DHA omega-3 has been shown to support brain, heart and eye health

2. Whole grain bread

The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that at least half of our grains be whole grains, so choosing whole grains for lunchbox sandwiches and wraps is a smart strategy to boost fiber and other important nutrients. One good choice is Rudi’s Organic Bakery’s 14 Grain bread. With just three slices you get the daily recommended allowance of whole grains.

3. String cheese

Cheese is a good source of calcium and protein. If your child isn’t a meat-eater, cheese is another high-protein option for lunches and snack time. String cheese is a great way to help your kids play with their food by pulling apart the cheese – and they will love munching on it too. Horizon has a variety of cheeses that are great for snacking. Mozzarella String Cheese and Colby Cheese Sticks are both kid-approved favorites.

4. Trail mix fixings

A variety of dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, raisins, dates), nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios) and cereal (look for those high in fiber and low in sugar) can combine into one hearty snack foron-the-go kids. Plus, you can make an activity out of letting your kids create their very own one-of-a-kind mix.

5. Nut butter

Peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter – they’re all great for lunchtime sandwiches or on toast for an after-school snack.

6. Hummus

This protein-packed spread comes in a wide variety of flavors and even in single-serve packs for kids on the go. You can try it as a dip for veggies and whole-grain crackers or as a spread on wraps and sandwiches as a nutritious alternative to mayonnaise or dressing.

7. Granola bars

Granola bars can be a lower-sugar, higher-fiber alternative to cookies and candy bars. They are also great as after-school or after-sports snacks. Look for granola bars made with whole grains and with 10 grams of sugar or less. One bar that fits these criteria is Annie’s Organic Berry Berry Granola Bars. Each bar is packed with 8 grams of whole grain per serving, is certified organic and contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup. They’re a perfect snack to replace high sugar treats.

8. Turkey breast

Turkey breast is low in fat and high in protein, and it can be a crowd pleaser in the lunchroom. You can also get creative with turkey as part of after-school snacks – think turkey and cheese roll-ups.

9. Fruit, fruit, fruit

Apples, cherries, bananas, oranges, grapes – fruits are an important part of a well-balanced diet. Try and vary what you offer. Different fruits provide different nutrients. When looking for organic fruit options, check out Earthbound Farm, which offers a number of organic fruit products nationwide, ranging from apple slices to strawberries to grapes, citrus and blueberries.

10. Veggies, veggies, veggies

Veggies like carrot sticks, celery, cucumbers, pea pods and cherry tomatoes are all great for lunchboxes and after-school snacks. Remember, the darker the veggie, the more nutritious it tends to be. To spice veggies up, you can think about serving them with a low fat salad dressing or hummus as a dip. In addition to organic fruit, Earthbound Farm also offers a full range of organic veggie products.

Watching Too Much Television May Shorten Lifespan

In continuing coverage, NBC Nightly News (8/16, story 8, 0:40, Williams) reported, “Watching a lot of television shortens your lifespan, at least that’s the conclusion of a big, new study out of Australia that says for each hour of TV you watch over the age of 25, it takes 22 minutes off your life at the end of life. Put another way, one researcher said this puts TV in the same category as smoking and obesity. It can speed up a premature death by five years if you’re a dedicated TV viewer, which must be why I never make plans for the weekend.” The study was published study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Brain Shrinkage Associated With Four Factors

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/1, Mestel) “Booster Shots” blog reported that smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and “being overweight in middle age” may all cause “the brain to shrink,” according to a study published in the journal Aug. 2 issue of Neurology. After assessing 1,352 middle-aged people for vascular risk factors and following them until they underwent magnetic resonance imaging scanning and cognitive testing between the ages of 61 and 67, researchers found that “brain shrinkage was linked to all four risk factors, although the pattern differed in each case.”

People with hypertension “experienced a more rapid worsening of test scores of planning and decision-making, which corresponded to a faster rate of growth of small areas of vascular brain damage than those with normal blood pressure,”HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/1, Salamon) reported. “Those with diabetes in middle age experienced brain shrinkage in…the hippocampus faster than those without, and smokers lost brain volume overall and in the hippocampus faster than nonsmokers, with a more rapid increase of small areas of vascular brain damage.”

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/1, Hendrick) reported, “Obese people at middle age were more likely to be in the top 25% of those with the faster rate of decline in planning and decision-making skills.” Notably, study participants with a “high waist-to-hip ratio were more likely to be in the top 25% of those with faster decrease in their brain volume.” The CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/1, Henry) “The Chart” blog also covered the story.

USDA Recalls 36M Pounds Of Ground Turkey After Salmonella Outbreak




ABC World News (8/3, story 7, 0:25, Sawyer) reported on “the latest nationwide salmonella outbreak,” which caused the USDA to recall “36 million pounds — 36 million — of Cargill ground turkey.”

        NBC Nightly News (8/3, story 8, 0:20, Williams) reported, “And we had early warning of this last night. Now it is an official government recall in this country. Thirty-six million pounds of Cargill ground turkey, some of it contaminated with salmonella, believed responsible for at least 76 illnesses nationwide and one death in the state of California.”

        The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/4, B3, Neuman, Subscription Publication) reports, “Cargill, a major United States meat processor, said Wednesday that it was recalling” the ground turkey produced since February in Springdale, Arkansas, where it was also suspending operations. The decision “appeared to be one of the largest meat recalls ever.” The CDC warned that the Salmonella Heidelberg strain of bacteria involved “is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics.”

        The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/4) reports that “so far, California, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Illinois and Pennsylvania have been among the states hardest hit,” and victims typically experience “diarrhea and abdominal pain.” For children, the illness can be fatal. The Times notes, however, that the government says “even contaminated ground turkey is safe to eat if it is handled properly and cooked to 165 degrees.”

        The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/4, Jalonick) reports that Cargill said the recall would involve both fresh and frozen ground turkey sold under various names but with the common code of “Est. P-963” on labels. The company “said it was initiating the recall after its own internal investigation, an Agriculture Department investigation and information about the illnesses released by the CDC this week.” The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/3, Khan) “Booster Shots” blog also covered the story.

Americans Cutting Back On Added Sugar

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/30, Hernandez) “Booster Shots” blog reported that, according to research Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published online July 13 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Americans are cutting back on the amount of added sugar they’re eating…– from about 3.5 ounces a day in 2000 (25 teaspoons, or 375 calories) to 2.7 ounces a day in 2008 (19 teaspoons, or 285 calories).” After tracking “more than 42,000 Americans over the age of two who were part of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, a program sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” researchers found that “the calories Americans got from added sugars each day went down from an average of 18% of daily calories in 2000 to about 15% in 2008.”

Researchers Say US Sugar Consumption Guidelines Should Be Reconsidered. Medscape Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/29, Fox, Hart) reported that, according to a study to appear in the Oct. issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, “adults who consumed 25% of their daily calories as fructose or high-fructose corn syrup beverages (a percentage within current government guidelines) for two weeks experienced increases in serum levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.” After having “48 overweight and normal-weight adults (age, 18-40 years; body mass index, 18-35 kg/m2) consume beverages that contained fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, or glucose at the 25% upper limit for calorie intake for two weeks,” researchers suggested that the government “reconsider its recommendations that include a maximal upper limit of 25% of total energy requirements from added sugar.”

LATimes Criticizes Administration, Food Industry Over Sugar Guidelines. The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (8/1) editorializes, “When the government proposes guidelines for children’s foods that would consider unsweetened 2% fat yogurt unhealthful but not a bowl of cereal with eight grams of added sugar, it’s micromanaging diets in unhelpful ways.” Similarly, “when the food manufacturers’ response is a proposal that would allow Lucky Charms cereal to receive the government’s blessing with its existing 10 grams of sugar per serving, it’s evidence that the industry isn’t all that concerned about children’s health.” Government experts are “in the process of finalizing voluntary guidelines for the advertising and marketing of foods to children.” While the initial guidelines they proposed were “overly prescriptive,” the food industry’s “response inspires little confidence.” The Times says that eliminating “subsidies for the ingredients most commonly found in cheap junk food — especially corn, which is used to make the cheap sweetener high-fructose corn syrup,” would be a “more effective” tactic.

Eating Fish May Help Men Reduce Risk For Type 2 Diabetes

MedWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/25, Albert) reported that, according to a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published online July 20 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “eating fish can help men reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes.” After analyzing data on 22,921 men and 29,759 women without a history of diabetes who ranged in age from 45 to 75 and who were followed for about five years, researchers “found that when compared with men in the lowest quartile for overall fish consumption, those in the highest quartile for consumption had a significant 27% reduced risk for developing type 2 diabetes.”

Notably, “fish consumption in women was not significantly related to a risk for type 2 diabetes,” Medscape Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/25, Barclay) reported.

Survey: 38 Million US Adults Turning To Alternative Therapies

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/22, Hendrick) reported, “Most Americans believe that prescription medications are the most effective treatments for many common illnesses, but a Consumer Reports survey of more than 45,000 people finds that three-fourths of us are turning to alternative therapies like yoga and acupuncture.” Specifically, “38 million adults make more than 300 million visits per year to acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other practitioners of alternative and complementary techniques,” the report found. The report appears in the September issue of Consumer Reports Health, an online publication.

Diet Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Be Associated With Lower Dementia Risk

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/20, Laino) reported, “A diet rich in certain omega-3 fatty acids may lower the risk of developing dementia,” according to research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. “In a study of more than 2,000 older women and men followed for nearly five years, the more omega-3-rich oily fish they ate, the lower their risk of developing dementia.” In particular, the study authors looked at the “omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eiosapentaenoic acid), found in salmon, sardines, tuna, halibut, and mackerel.”

Cell Phone Use Affects Brain Glucose Metabolism

Use of a cell phone for as little as 50 minutes at a time appears to affect brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the phone’s antenna, a new study shows.

Investigators used positron emission tomography (PET) during cell phone use in the on and then off positions and found that although whole-brain metabolism was not affected, metabolism was increased in the orbitofrontal cortex and the temporal pole areas of the brain while the cell phone was on, areas that are close to where phone’s antenna meets the head.

Dr. Nora Volkow

“We do not know what the clinical significance of this finding is, both with respect to potential therapeutic effect of this type of technology but also potential negative consequences from cell phone exposure,” said lead study author Nora D. Volkow, MD, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland, during a teleconference.

In the interim though, she recommends using hands-free devices or speaker-phone mode to avoid direct contact of the telephone with the head. Previous work suggests that if the phone is a foot or more away it is very unlikely to have any effects, she said. “So there are some very easy solutions that don’t cost anything for those who want to play it safe.”

Caution may be particularly necessary for children and adolescents whose neural tissue is still developing, Dr. Volkow noted. This is also a population who started their lives with cell phones and can expect to be exposed for years to come, she added.

Their report appears in the February 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Effect of Imaging Tools?

The proliferation of cell phone use has raised the question of the effects of radiofrequency-modulated electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs), particularly carcinogenic effects. Epidemiologic studies looking at the relationship between cell phones and brain tumors have been inconsistent with some, but not all, studies finding increased risk, “and the issue remains unresolved,” the study authors write.

Dr. Volkow is well known for her work in the area of addictions, not generally adverse effects of cell phone use, but this new study nevertheless stemmed from that research, she said. They have been studying whether imaging technologies, including PET and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), that are used to study the brain can directly affect brain function. “For the past 15 years, we’ve done a series of studies to try to actually assess whether magnetic fields affect brain glucose metabolism,” Dr. Volkow explained.

They found, for example, that the static magnetic field of a 4-T MRI does not affect brain metabolism, she said. However, when the magnetic fields were changed rapidly, which produces electrical currents, there was a significant increase in glucose metabolism in the brain. They wondered whether the RF-EMFs produced by cell phones might do the same thing.

The current study was a randomized, crossover study that enrolled 47 healthy, community-dwelling subjects. All underwent PET with (18F)fluorodeoxyglucose injection twice for 50 minutes at a time, once with a cell phone at each ear but only the right phone on, although it was muted, and once with both cell phones off.

They found that whole brain metabolism was not significantly different with the phone on vs off. However, metabolism in the regions closest to the antenna, the orbitofrontal cortex and temporal pole, was significantly higher when the cell phone was on.

Table. Brain Metabolism in Area Closest to Antenna With Cell Phone On vs Off

Endpoint On Mode Off Mode Mean Difference (95% CI) P
Metabolism in area closest to antenna, μmol/100 g per minute 35.7 33.3 2.4 (0.67 – 4.2) .004

CI = confidence interval

The difference between off and on modes was about a 7% increase in glucose metabolism, within the range of physiologic activation during speaking, for example, she said.

The increases in activation also correlated significantly with the estimated electromagnetic field amplitudes for both absolute metabolism (R = 0.95) and for normalized metabolism (R = 0.89, P < .001 for both).

It’s possible that the activation would be even higher in subjects who are actually talking on the phone, but in this study they did not want the subjects to talk during imaging, which might have activated other brain areas and confounded the cell phone’s effects, she said.

Unfortunately, Dr. Volkow noted, these findings don’t shed any light on the controversy of whether cell phone exposure produces or does not produce cancer. “What it does say to us is that the human brain is sensitive to this electromagnetic radiation,” she said. Whether this has any negative consequences needs to be evaluated.

They powered the study to detect even small effects, Dr. Volkow added. If they had not seen any effect after 50 minutes of exposure, “it would have been much easier to dismiss any concern about potential negatives of cell phones,” she said. “But the fact that we are observing changes really highlights the need to do the studies to be properly able to answer the question of whether cell phone exposure can have harmful effects or not.”

It’s also possible that if there may be beneficial effects, she speculated. “Could one use, for example, this type of technology to activate areas of the brain that may not be properly activated and explore potential therapeutic applications of this type of technology? But that would require that one show there are no untoward effects.”

Add to the Concern

In an editorial accompanying the publication, Henry Lai, PhD, from the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, and Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, from the Department of Oncology at University Hospital, Orebro, Sweden, point out that this is the first investigation in humans of glucose metabolism in the brain after cell phone use.

“The results by Volkow et al add to the concern about possible acute and long-term health effects of radiofrequency emissions from wireless phones, including both mobile and cordless desktop phones,” they write.

“Although the biological significance, if any, of increased glucose metabolism from acute cell phone exposure is unknown, the results warrant further investigation.”

The effects are unlikely to be mediated by the substantial increase in temperature seen with cell phones given the activation was “quite distant” from where the cell phone made contact, they speculate. Further, since the subjects were only listening rather than talking on the phone, “the effect observed could thus potentially be more pronounced in normal-use situations.”

The study was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health and by infrastructure support from the US Department of Energy. The researchers and editorialists have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

JAMA. 2011;305:808-814, 828-829.

Vitamin C more important than known for eye, brain health

Vitamin C has an important role for eye and possibly brain health, finds a new investigation. Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University (OSHU) recently discovered the cells in the eye are bathed in the vitamin. In their research, scientists found high doses of vitamin C are necessary to keep the retina of the eye, and probably the brain, functioning properly.

Because nerve cells in the eye also communicate with the brain, the scientists speculate much more needs to be learned about the role of vitamin C for brain health.

Vitamin C might have a role for treating eye disease

In studies the scientists found removing vitamin C from cells in the retina of the eye caused them to stop functioning properly.

For their research, the scientists used goldfish retinas because of biological similarities with human eyes.

The finding means vitamin C might be protective for individuals at risk for glaucoma.

According to Henrique von Gersdorff, Ph.D., a senior scientist at OHSU’s Vollum Institute and a co-author of the study.

“Because the retina is part of the central nervous system, this suggests there’s likely an important role for vitamin C throughout our brains, to a degree we had not realized before.”

Removing vitamin C from cells in the eye caused gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, which are present throughout the brain, to stop functioning properly. The researchers note vitamin C stays in the brain longer than anywhere else in the body.

“Perhaps the brain is the last place you want to lose vitamin C,” von Gersdorff said. Lack of vitamin C that causes scurvy is also linked to depression. Von Gersdorff speculated it may be lack of vitamin C that causes depression associated with the disease.

Vitamin C is important for a variety of bodily functions, but until now researchers were unaware of the potential neuroprotective properties for eye function and possibly the brain.

Von Gersdorff said, “This is speculative and there is much to learn. But this research provides some important insights and will lead to the generation of new hypotheses and potential treatment strategies.”

GABA receptors in the eye and brain inhibit rapid firing of neurons. In the retina of the eye, GABA receptors send signals to other cells.

The OSHU researchers found vitamin C ‘bathes’ cells in the retina and is necessary for proper eye function. Because the retina is part of the central nervous system, vitamin C may be more important for brain health that previously known.

Men May Be More Likely Than Women To Die From Most Cancers

The Seattle Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/13, Daza) reports that “men are at higher risk than women of developing cancer within their lifetime, and astudy Share to FacebookShare to Twitter ” published in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention “shows they are also more likely to die from it.” Michael Cook, lead investigator and researcher at the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues “examined 36 types of cancer by gender, using almost 30 years of data, from 1977 and 2006.”

The CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter / (7/13, McMillen) reports, “Leukemia and cancers of the colon and rectum, pancreas, and liver killed about one and a half to two times as many men as women in the US over” the “30-year period.” The researchers also found that “lung cancer killed nearly two and a half times as many men during that time.”

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/13) reports that the major explanation for the disparity is that females face a lower risk of developing cancer, compared to males, Cook contends.

MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/12, Walsh) reported that the investigators “found that there had been some changes over time, such as decreases in the male-to-female ratios in lung, laryngeal, and pancreatic cancers but increases in esophageal, skin, and hepatic cancers.” The researchers “also found changes in mortality by age.” For instance, “for skin cancer, the male-to-female mortality ratio has increased in patients 50 and older, because mortality has increased in men but remained stable in women.”

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/12, Hendrick) reported that “the highest male-to-female death rate ratios were 5.51 men for every woman for lip cancer, 5.37 to 1 for cancer of the larynx, and 4.47 to 1 for cancer of the hypopharynx.” Meanwhile, “three cancers had a higher death rate in women than men: gallbladder cancer, anal cancer, and cancer of the peritoneum, omentum, and mesentery.” HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/12, Reinberg) also covered the story.

Cancer Researchers Advocate Updating Family Histories Often. The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/12, Roan) “Booster Shots” blog reported that when it comes to determining a person’s risk of cancer and need for screening, “family history needs to updated every five or 10 years,” according to a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers “looked at thousands of adults with a personal or family history of cancer and found that many changes in one’s family history of breast, colorectal and prostate cancer occur between age 30 and 50,” and important changes could be missed if the patient’s family history is not updated accordingly. The blog entry also pointed out that “the frequency of cancer screening tests has become a topic of debate in recent years as medical experts try to balance the benefits of screening against the potential risks and costs.”

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/12, Mann) quoted Massachusetts General Hospital researcher Dianne M. Finkelstein, who recommended that “if anyone in your family gets cancer, you should know the age when they were diagnosed and the original site of the cancer,” since “this information changes the doctor’s strategy…and they may find any cancer earlier, which may change the outcome.”

MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/12, Smith) provided some details illustrating the changing family histories and risks as patients age. For instance, “At age 30, 2.1% of participants met the criteria for high-risk screening for colorectal cancer, compared with 7.1% at age 50. For breast cancer, the rates were 7.2% at age 30 and 11.4% at age 50. And for prostate cancer, the rates were 0.9% at 30 and 2% at age 50.” The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute.

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/12, Boyle) reported that Finkelstein said that “after the age of 50 family history becomes less important because screening is recommended for everyone.”

Experts Warn Deep Tan Will Give Way To Permanent Skin Damage

HealthDay  (7/8, Thompson) reported that physicians stress that a deep tan from a tanning salon “will eventually give way to permanent skin damage caused by the ultraviolet rays emitted by a tanning bed — damage up to and including potentially deadly skin cancer.” And, even though “most people spend more time in the sun during the summer months, exposure to ultraviolet light has become increasingly a year-round danger,” particularly for people who use tanning beds. Dermatologist James Spencer, MD explained, “The bottom line is excessive UV exposure increases your risk of skin cancer, whether you are indoors or outdoors.”

Massage Therapy May Relieve Chronic Back Pain

Massage therapy may effectively reduce or relieve chronic back pain for 6 months or more, according to the results of a parallel-group, randomized controlled trial reported in the July 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Recent reviews have found limited evidence that massage is an effective treatment for chronic back pain, and no studies have compared relaxation massage with structural massage, which focuses on correcting soft-tissue abnormalities,” write Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, from the Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, and colleagues. “We therefore conducted a trial to determine whether relaxation massage reduces pain and improves function in patients with chronic low back pain and compared relaxation and structural massage for treating this condition.”

Computer-generated randomization and centralized allocation concealment were used, with blinding of participants to massage type, but not to assignment to massage vs usual care. Although the massage therapists could not be blinded, the study personnel who evaluated outcomes were blinded to treatment allocation.

At an integrated healthcare delivery system in Seattle, 401 participants were randomly assigned to receive structural massage (n = 132), relaxation massage (n = 136), or usual care (n = 133). Participants had nonspecific chronic low back pain and were aged 20 to 65 years. The main study endpoint was Roland Disability Questionnaire (RDQ) and symptom bothersomeness scores at 10 weeks, and secondary endpoints were these scores at 26 and 52 weeks. Clinically meaningful differences were defined as mean group differences of 2 or more points on the RDQ and 1.5 or more points on the symptom bothersomeness scale.

At 10 weeks, functional outcomes were similar in both massage groups. Compared with the usual care group, the relaxation group had an adjusted mean RDQ score that was 2.9 points lower (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8 – 4.0 points), and the structural massage group had an adjusted mean RDQ score that was 2.5 points lower (95% CI, 1.4 – 3.5 points). Adjusted mean symptom bothersomeness scores were 1.7 points lower with relaxation massage (95% CI, 1.2 – 2.2 points ) and 1.4 points lower with structural massage (95% CI, 0.8 – 1.9 points).

At 52 weeks, there were persistent but small benefits of relaxation massage for function, but not for symptom reduction.

“We found that patients receiving massage were twice as likely as those receiving usual care to report significant improvements in both their pain and function,” Dr. Cherkin said in a news release. “After 10 weeks, about two-thirds of those receiving massage improved substantially, versus only about one-third in the usual care group.”

A study limitation was the lack of blinding of massage therapists and the only partial blinding of participants to treatment assignment. In addition, the exercises recommended in the 2 massage groups differed slightly, and the massage therapists were atypical, in that they had practiced for at least 5 years and had learned structural massage techniques. Generalizability of the findings is limited because the trial included mostly women with nonspecific chronic low back pain who were enrolled in a single healthcare system that serves a mostly white and employed population.

“Massage therapy may be effective for treatment of chronic back pain, with benefits lasting at least 6 months,” the study authors conclude. “No clinically meaningful difference between relaxation and structural massage was observed in terms of relieving disability or symptoms.”

~Laurie Barclay, MD

Study: Medicaid Recipients Better Off Than Uninsured

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, A14, Kolata, Subscription Publication) reports, “When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often, but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability, according to a new, large-scale study that provides the first rigorously controlled assessment of the impact of Medicaid.” Even though these “findings may seem obvious, health economists and policy makers have long questioned whether it would make any difference to provide health insurance to poor people.” In fact, this “has become part of the debate on Medicaid, at a time when states are cutting back on this insurance program for the poor.” Richard M. Suzman, of the National Institute on Aging, which funded the study, “said it was ‘one of the most important studies that our division has funded since I’ve been at the NIA.'”

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports, “The study looked at 10,000 Oregonians who won a state-sponsored lottery for Medicaid in 2008, and compared them to those who applied but weren’t picked and remained uninsured.” Researchers “found that people with Medicaid were 70 percent more likely to have a regular medical office or clinic for their basic care, and 55 percent more likely to have a personal doctor. Medicaid enrollees were also more likely to get preventive care, such as mammograms and cholesterol screening.” Notably, they found “no real difference between the two groups in emergency room use,” although “people with Medicaid were significantly more likely to use inpatient and outpatient services, as well as prescription drugs.”

Ezra Klein writes in a Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7) column that the study’s findings underscore “a point that is frequently obscured in a debate that’s often concerned more with cost curves than with treating heart disease. Part of health-care reform is about making care cheaper. But the more important part is about making Americans healthier.”

The Oregonian Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/7, Rojas-Burke) reports that these results “are bound to play a role in the political controversy over federal health reform, which calls for expanding Medicaid coverage to 16 million uninsured Americans in 2014.” Notably, the extent to which “Medicaid coverage improves health has remained an open question, in part because of the difficulty of performing controlled experiments. Researchers consider it unethical, for example, to force subjects to go without health insurance just to test the result.” The decision by Oregon officials “to use a random lottery presented a happenstance opportunity.”

Sitting For Long Time May Double Women’s Risk Of Pulmonary Embolism

The CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/5, Hudson) “The Chart” blog reported, “Extensive sitting increases women’s risk of pulmonary embolism, finds a new study in the current issue of the British Medical Journal.”

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/5, Preidt) reported, “The researchers said their study is the first to prove that an inactive lifestyle increases the risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when part or all of a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the legs travels through the bloodstream to the lungs.” The “study included 69,950 female nurses who were followed for 18 years and every two years provided details about their lifestyle habits.”

Medscape Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/5, Barclay) reported, “There were 268 episodes of incident idiopathic pulmonary embolism during the 18-year study period. Time spent sitting each day was directly associated with risk for idiopathic pulmonary embolism (in combined data, 41/104,720 for the most inactive women compared with 16/14,565 for the least inactive women; P < .001 for trend).” The researchers found that “compared with women who spent the least time sitting, women who spent the most time sitting had more than double the risk for pulmonary embolism (multivariable hazard ratio, 2.34; 95% confidence interval, 1.30 – 4.20). Physical activity was not associated with pulmonary embolism (P = .53 for trend).” WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (7/5, Goodman) also covered the story.

Sights on summer, thoughts on safety

Summer has officially arrived. And with the warmer weather comes invitations to backyard swim parties and family barbeques, and opportunities to partake in sporty outings and fireworks displays.

But before heading outdoors, make sure you’re armed with the essentials for spending time in the sun, cooling off and celebrating America’s birth.

For starters, the right pair of sunglasses, a hat and a good sunscreen can go a long way. And don’t forget to stay informed when it comes to both fireworks and pool safety.

It’s the season to have fun, but there’s always time to implement the proper safety practices.

Soak up the SPF 30

According to Dr. Carol Cola, who works in the department of surgery at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, about 90 percent of skin cancers occur on the head, neck, ears, lips or hands — areas most often exposed to the sun.

In an article Cola recently wrote about sun safety that was released by the medical center, she pointed out that “a sun burn can happen anywhere, not just at the park or the pool. You are exposed to sun while driving, through a glass window in your home, or reflected off another surface such as concrete, sand or snow.

“The good news: It’s never too late to begin protecting your skin. Recent studies by the Skin Cancer Foundation state that the average individual has received only 23 percent of your lifetime sun exposure by age 18 — not 80 percent as formerly thought — so there’s always a health benefit to be gained by beginning new habits, at any time in life.”

Cola wrote that using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 is recommended. “The number refers to the product’s ability to protect the skin, i.e., the amount of time it takes to burn unprotected skin versus sunscreen-protected skin. Be sure to choose a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection, also called a ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen.

“Protect your skin all day,” Cola wrote, “but especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the prime time for sun burns. Remember that it’s still possible to get a sun burn on cloudy days, too. Apply plenty of sunscreen (about an ounce, which is the equivalent of a shot glass of lotion), 20 to 30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply frequently (about every two hours) particularly after exercise or water activities.”

Cola wrote that keeping an eye on freckles, moles and other spots on your skin, and showing any changes to your doctor or dermatologist, is a good idea. “Warning signs to look for include a mole, birthmark or brown spot that over time changes color or texture, increases in size or thickness, has irregular outlines, or is bigger than 6 millimeters or a quarter-inch (the size of a pencil eraser). Also, any spot or sore that itches, hurts, crusts, scabs or bleeds, or an open sore that does not heal, should be brought to the attention of your doctor.”

Concerned about a suspicious spot on your skin? Visit the American Academy of Dermatology ( and National Cancer Institute ( websites to compare the various types of melanomas and their visual characteristics, and then contact your doctor for a skin cancer screening. If found and treated early, melanoma has a high cure rate, about 99 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Shade your eyes

According to a 2011 national survey conducted by N3L Optics to better understand behaviors and beliefs of sunglass purchasers, only 66 percent of adults wear sunglasses consistently when they are outdoors, and only half of those between ages 18 to 24 do so.

Kendra Reichenau, senior vice president of N3L Optics, a sunglass store for the athlete and outdoor enthusiast, was quoted in a press released as saying, “Your eyes are a critical component of your well-being and need to be protected with the same level of vigilance as your skin.”

Eighty percent of the 623 respondents, ages 18 to 54, reported worrying about their eye health, but nearly one in four did not know that sun exposure can cause eye damage, according to the press release.

The sun’s harmful UV radiation can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and some cancers, nearly all of which are preventable with proper use of sunglasses. According to the American Optometric Association, UV radiation is a risk, even on overcast days.

“Many people who are active choose to not wear sunglasses because they think it inhibits their ability to perform at their highest level,” Reichenau said. “That isn’t true if you have the right sunglasses for your sport.”

Helpful sunglass tips from N3L:

Polarized lenses are helpful for activities that require glare reduction, like fishing, sailing, kayaking and sand volleyball.

While no lens is shatterproof or unbreakable, glasses or goggles with polycarbonate lenses are impact resistant, shatter resistant and filter out 100 percent of UV light.

Different lens colors work best for different sports, for example, golfers can benefit from lenses with amber, brown or rose tint, which enhance depth perception and help with following the ball in low or medium light conditions.

Consider the safety features you need for your activity, as many sports sunglasses are designed to address specific safety concerns like protecting during impact, shielding from flying debris and improving visibility.

If sunglasses do not fit properly, they can’t protect properly. Many sunglasses have special features that allow them to stay in place during activities such as running, cycling and climbing.

Wrap around lenses sometimes work best because they block light coming in from the sides. In addition, larger lenses may be more effective, because they cover more of the eye.

Leave fireworks to professionals

According to The Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology (PAO), each Fourth of July, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries happen each year. Of these, nearly half are head-related injuries and nearly 30 percent are injuries to the eyes. One-fourth of fireworks eye injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

“Too many Fourth of July celebrations are ruined because a child has to be rushed to the emergency room after a fireworks accident,” said Dr. Kenneth Cheng, pediatric ophthalmologist and president of the Harrisburg-based PAO, in a press release. “Potentially blinding injuries can be avoided if families attend a professional public fireworks display instead of putting on a home fireworks show.”

According to the PAO, children are the most common victims of firework accidents, with those 15 years old or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States. For children under the age of five, seemingly innocent sparklers account for one-third of all fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (hot enough to cause a third-degree burn), and the ashes fly in all directions increasing the chances of injury.

“Among the most serious injuries are direct trauma to the eye from bottle rockets,” according to Dr. Cheng. “The rockets fly erratically, often injuring bystanders. Injuries from bottle rockets can include eye lid lacerations, corneal abrasions, hyphema or bleeding into the eye, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, and rupture of the eyeball. These injuries frequently require surgery and may lead to complete blindness.”

For a safe and healthy Independence Day celebration, the PAO urges observance of the following tips:

Never let children play with fireworks of any type.

View fireworks from a safe distance, at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.

Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.

Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.

Follow directives given by event ushers or public safety personnel.

If you find unexploded fireworks remains, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.

If you get an eye injury from fireworks, seek medical help immediately.

Consumers can submit questions about eye health to an ophthalmologist at . Find an eye doctor in your area by visiting .

Stay afloat

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website, so far in June there have been 37 drownings and 38 near-drowning incidents reported by the media across America.

“Oftentimes, pool safety is in the back of most people’s minds, but it should really be in the forefront of their thoughts when they use pools, especially their own,” American Leak Detection CEO and President Bill Palmer said in a press release from the company. “Something as simple as knowing where the pool water pump is so that you can quickly turn it off in the event of an emergency can make a world of a difference.”

Palmer said homeowners should take the following precautionary steps before opening their pools for members of their households and guests:

Check and replace necessary pool parts

Replace old flat drain covers and never use a pool or spa with a missing or broken drain cover. Install anti-vortex drain covers to minimize the risk of body and hair entrapment in the suction inlets, and consider installing a Safety Vacuum Release System that will automatically shut off a pump if a blockage is detected.

Make sure it’s clean, not green. If your pool water is green that likely means the water could contain molds, fungus, larvae and other contaminants that could cause those who use the pool to become sick.

Be cognizant of recalls and equipment reviews.

Check sites such as CPSC and Consumer Reports regularly for articles on recalls and reviews to ensure that your pool’s parts are all in tip top shape.

Call in the professionals. Have a professional specialist regularly inspect your pool or spa. Ask where the electrical cut-off switch is for the pool or spa pump. This area should be marked clearly so that, in an emergency, the water pump can be turned off immediately. In addition, loose or falling tiles and pool deck cracks — signs that the surrounding ground is being compromised by water and that there is a leak in the pool system — can cause those using the pool to slip and fall.

“Residents should make good judgments before opening their pool … (like) putting up a wall or fence at least four feet high around the pool; not allowing unsupervised children in the pool; being sure that at least one person in the household knows CPR; not using air-filled swimming aids as a substitute for approved life vests; and keeping … flotation devices and a telephone by the pool in the event of an emergency,” Palmer said.

~The Times Herald


Many People Continue Unhealthy Habits After Disease Diagnosis

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/27, Gormly) reported, “Even when faced with a health scare like a heart attack or stroke, or a life-changing diagnosis like diabetes or cancer, many people continue unhealthy habits with eating, smoking, exercising and the like.” However, these changes can be important. One study “found that smoking after a heart attack significantly decreased life expectancy.” The research, “published in 2010 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that people who quit smoking after their first heart attack were 37 percent less likely to die of another heart attack, compared with those still smoking.”

Diet May Be Key First Line Therapy In New-Onset Type 2 Diabetes

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/25, Preidt) reported, “Dietary changes alone can yield the same benefits as changes in both diet and exercise in the first year after a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes,” according to research Share to FacebookShare to Twitter presented at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting and simultaneously published online June 25 in The Lancet. Investigators “found that patients who were encouraged to lose weight by modifying their diet with the help of a dietician had the same improvements in blood sugar (glycemic) control, weight loss, cholesterol and triglyceride levels as those who changed both their diet and physical activity levels (30 minutes of brisk walking five times a week).”

The study’s lead author “said the findings may also suggest a change in treatment algorithm in type 2 diabetes, with diet as the first line therapy, then a combination of diet and exercise, and finally diet plus activity and metformin if the two prior approaches fail,” MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/25, Fiore) reported. But, “in an accompanying comment Share to FacebookShare to Twitter, Frank Hu, MD, of Harvard School of Public Health, wrote that the results do not necessarily mean that an increase in physical activity is ineffective for diabetes management.” Hu wrote, “It is possible that modification of two complex behaviors at the same time is no more effective than a change in one.” Medscape Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Canavan) also covered the story.

Curbing Calories Key Ingredient For Weight Loss In Type 2 Diabetes. HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/26, Mozes) reported, “Curbing calories is the key ingredient for diabetics seeking to lose weight, and low-fat diets that are either high in protein or high in carbs are equally effective,” according to research presented yesterday at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting. After following about nearly 300 overweight, middle-aged or senior “men and women with type 2 diabetes who were on a new, two-year nutritional program” and randomizing them with to a low-fat/high-carbohydrate group or to a low-fat/high-protein group, researchers found that in the end, “both groups lost a similar amount of weight and reduced their waist size in similar measure.”


Stress Plus Sleep Deprivation May Increase Systolic Blood Pressure

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15, Goodman) reported that “a stressful day after a poor night of sleep may be an especially bad combination for blood pressure,” according to a study presented at a medical conference. Investigators “recruited 20 healthy young adults and measured their blood pressure at rest and then after a stressful task, in this case, giving an impromptu speech where they had to defend themselves for a supposed transgression — either running a stop sign or taking someone’s wallet.” Approximately seven days later, after a night with no sleep, the same individuals were asked to “take the tests again.” The investigators found that “systolic blood pressures…climbed about 10 points higher when fatigued people were delivering their speeches compared to when they were doing the same task well rested.”

More TV Time May Be Linked To Increased Heart Disease, Diabetes Risk

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15, McCook) reports that, according to research Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, more time spent in front of the TV may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as to an increased risk of premature death.

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15, Ostrow) reports that investigators looked at data from “eight studies.” The researchers found that, “for every two hours of TV viewing, the risk of type 2 diabetes increased 20 percent, the risk of cardiovascular disease rose 15 percent and the risk of early death rose 13 percent.”

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/14, Stein) “The Checkup” blog reported that “the increased risk is apparently due at least in part to the increased risk for obesity, the researchers said.”

CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter / (6/15, Gardner) reports, “Extrapolating their findings to the entire US population, the researchers estimate that for every two hours Americans spend watching TV each day, there are 176 new cases of diabetes, 38 additional deaths from heart disease, and 104 additional deaths due to any cause per 100,000 people per year.”

The Boston Globe Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/14, Kotz) “Daily Dose” blog reported, “Not surprisingly, those who watched more TV tended to have poorer lifestyle habits — eating more, exercising less, and smoking more — but all of the studies used statistical methods to attempt to account for these and other factors.”

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/14, Boyles) reported that one of the study’s authors “believes TV watching is more risky than other sedentary behaviors like working at a computer all day because it is associated with poorer eating behaviors.”

Also covering the story were HeartWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/14, Hughes), HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/14, Salamon), MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter(6/14, Phend), the UK’s Telegraph Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15), and BBC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/15, Roberts).


US Adds 8 Chemicals to Carcinogen List

There are now eight new substances on the official U.S. list of toxins known to cause or suspected of causing cancer.

There are now 240 agents on the list, maintained by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The NTP lists agents in two categories: those known to cause cancer, and those expected to be added to the “known carcinogen” list once there’s more scientific evidence.

It’s not possible to totally avoid exposure to carcinogens, says John Bucher, PhD, associate director of the NTP, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

“We are exposed to small levels of carcinogens every day: in drugs, in chemicals, in sunlight, in tanning beds, in tobacco smoke, over and over every day,” Bucher said at a news teleconference. “This report is just to allow people to have the information they need to make choices every day. Simply avoid using products containing these substances if you are uncomfortable with the risk.”

Most of the known risk comes from industrial exposures to workers at manufacturing plants. It’s not clear how much risk, if any, comes from the many consumer products that emit small amounts of these carcinogens.

Bucher says he’s not worried about his own daily exposures. “I probably won’t be making many changes,” he said.

New Carcinogens

The two new known carcinogens are aristolochic acids and formaldehyde.

Aristolochic acids are the active ingredient in a number of unsafe herbal remedies. The FDA has been warning Americans about these herbs since 2000. All herbal remedies suspected of containing aristolochic acid are banned in the U.S. and in Europe.

Formaldehyde is used to manufacture a wide range of products. The most common source of formaldehyde exposure is cigarette smoke. Cars and wood stoves give off formaldehyde, but most exposure comes from indoor air. New home finishing products and consumer goods such as some hair-smoothing/straightening products, cleaning agents, and glues may contain formaldehyde.

The six agents now “reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens” are:

  • Styrene, a compound used to make polystyrene. Although disposable cups made from polystyrene leach small amounts of styrene, Bucher says the amounts are very small.
  • Captafol, a fungicide once commonly used in agriculture but no longer produced after 1987 or used after 2006 in the U.S.
  • Cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder or hard metal form) is used to make hard-metal tools. The major source of exposure is from plants manufacturing such products.
  • Certain inhalable glass wool fibers used in air filters or as insulation. The type of glass wool used for insulation and filtration may be less dangerous than the special kind used for manufacturing.
  • O-nitrotoluene is used in the manufacture of dyes. Most exposures come from air or ground pollution.
  • Riddelliine is a plant compound found in a type of daisy found in the Western U.S. and in other parts of the world. It has been used accidentally in medicinal herbs and may contaminate the milk of cows that graze on the plants.

Listing of a substance as a carcinogen by the NTP does not limit its use. However, NTP determinations are used by agencies such as the FDA and OSHA as the basis for regulations.

~Daniel J. DeNoon

Prolonged Sitting May Be As Dangerous As Smoking

The UK’s Daily Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/10) reports, “Research carried out by the American College of Cardiology shows that prolonged sitting is linked to increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even early death and could be just as dangerous, if not more so, than smoking.” One cardiologist said, “Smoking certainly is a major cardiovascular risk factor and sitting can be equivalent in many cases.”

“Millions” In US Concerned About Effects Of Statins

ABC World News (6/9, story 8, 1:40, Sawyer) reported, “Tonight, the millions and millions of Americans who take a high dose, 80 milligrams of certain cholesterol lowering drugs, in particular Zocor [simvastatin] and Vytorin [ezetimibe and simvastatin], are on alert that these statins in high doses can cause muscle tissue to break down. The cells can actually die.” On the air, ABC interviewed Stephen Nissen, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic to discuss “the dangers with the higher dose.” Nissen discussed muscle deterioration or “pain or muscle weakness” and advised patients to “discuss it with their doctor,” noting that is “particularly important if you are taking this higher dose in the form of Zocor or Vytorin or the generic.”

Blogger: “Scary Thing” About Simvastatin Is Length Since Approval. In “The Medicine Show” blog at the Forbes Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/9) website, Matthew Herper wrote about “The Scary thing About the FDA’s Simvastatin Decision.” He argued that the decision to tell physicians not to prescribe the 80-milligram dose is “scary” because “simvastatin was approved in 1991. This drug has been on the market for 20 years” and underwent heavy scrutiny when it was approved. Herper added, “And, despite the tone of much of the coverage, this is not a medicine only taken by a few people,” but instead by some two million who the FDA said “had been prescribed the 80 milligram dose, either by itself or in a combination pill like Vytorin or Simcor, last year.”

Blogger: Some Answers To “What Took So Long?” The NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/9, Knox) “Shots” blog reported that “the fact that 80 daily milligrams of simvastatin (brand name Zocor) can cause serious muscle damage has been known for years. So why did it take the Food and Drug Administration so long to tell doctors and patients they should avoid that dose?” He said “the answer reveals a lot about the FDA’s reluctance to restrict use of a popular drug — much less move to take it off the market — even when there are safer alternatives.” Knox explained his conclusion and quoted “Dr. Amy Egan, the FDA’s deputy director for safety in the division that deals with statin drugs,” who said “basically we had to go back to the statin sponsors and have them submit additional data from their large clinical trials.” The post also examined the role of the cost and popularity of the medicine.


Researchers Seeking Ways To Prevent Type 1 Diabetes

On the front of its Personal Journal section, the Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/7, Wang, D1, Subscription Publication) reports that as more American children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, researchers are working harder than ever to find ways of preventing the disease. Now, new studies funded by the US government are suggesting that it may one day be possible to prevent type 1 diabetes. In one 10-year study, researchers with financial support from the National Institutes of Health found that oral insulin caused a delay of full-blown type 1 diabetes of approximately four years in certain patients. Currently, NIH is sponsoring a study to examine if taking oral insulin can delay or prevent type 1 diabetes in patients at high-risk for developing the disease. Meanwhile, in a study partially funded by NIH, researchers are evaluating teplizumab as a means of preventing type 1 diabetes. Research in animal models looks promising.

Islet Cell Transplants Allow Some With Type 1 Diabetes To Discontinue Insulin. The Orlando Sentinel Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/7, Jameson) reports that “fewer than 1,000 type 1 diabetics worldwide who have received a pancreatic islet cell transplant, an experimental cure for diabetes.” The procedure, “first performed successfully in 1990…involves harvesting the fragile insulin-producing islet cells from a deceased donor’s pancreas and transfusing them into the liver of the recipient.” The transplanted beta cells go on to make insulin. However, “‘islet cell transplantation is still experimental,’ said Dr. Thomas Eggerman, director of the clinical islet transplantation program for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.” Even though “islet cell transplantation is safer and less invasive, whole organ transplants are considered more durable, he said,” results scientists are working hard to change.


AAP Guidelines Nix Energy Drinks for Children, Teens

May 31, 2011 — Energy drinks pose potential health risks for children and adolescents primarily because of the stimulant content in the drinks, according to a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offering guidelines for use of energy drinks and sports drinks in this age group.

The new recommendations state that energy drinks should never be consumed by children or adolescents, although they are being marketed to this age group for a wide variety of inappropriate uses.

The AAP report was published online May 29 and will appear in the June issue of Pediatrics.

“There is a lot of confusion about sports drinks and energy drinks, and adolescents are often unaware of the differences in these products,” said Marcie Beth Schneider, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and coauthor of the report, in a news release. “Some kids are drinking energy drinks — containing large amounts of caffeine — when their goal is simply to rehydrate after exercise. This means they are ingesting large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, which can be dangerous.”

Goals of AAP Report

The main goals of the AAP clinical report were to define the ingredients of sports and energy drinks, describe the similarities and differences between the products, and discuss misuses and abuses of these beverages. Secondary goals were to encourage screening for sports and energy drink use during annual physical examinations, to help explain why consumption by youth is highly prevalent, and to improve education aimed at reducing or eliminating the inappropriate use of these drinks by children and adolescents.

Sports drinks contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and flavoring, and are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. Although they may be useful for young athletes participating in prolonged, vigorous physical exercise, they tend to be overused and are usually unnecessary.

“For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best,” said coauthor Holly J. Benjamin, MD, FAAP, a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. “Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don’t need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay. It’s better for children to drink water during and after exercise, and to have the recommended intake of juice and low-fat milk with meals. Sports drinks are not recommended as beverages to have with meals.”

Unlike sports drinks, energy drinks contain stimulants including caffeine, guarana, and/or taurine. Rigorous review and analysis of the literature suggest that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents. Because caffeine has been associated with harmful neurologic and cardiovascular effects in children, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be avoided. The AAP report lists the contents of specific sports drinks and energy drinks currently available.

“In many cases, it’s hard to tell how much caffeine is in a product by looking at the label,” Dr. Schneider said. “Some cans or bottles of energy drinks can have more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans of soda.”

AAP Recommendations

Specific AAP recommendations regarding use of sports drinks and energy drinks in children and adolescents include the following:

  • Pediatricians should educate patients and their parents regarding the potential health risks of energy drinks and sports drinks and explain the significant differences between these types of drinks. The terms should not be used interchangeably.
  • Energy drinks should never be consumed by children or adolescents, because the stimulants they contain pose potential health risks.
  • Children and adolescents should avoid and restrict routine consumption of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks, which can increase the risk for overweight, obesity, and dental erosion.
  • For pediatric athletes, sports drinks should be consumed in combination with water during prolonged, vigorous physical activity, when rapid replenishment of carbohydrates and/or electrolytes is needed.
  • For children and adolescents, water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration.

Further Concerns

“Confusion about energy by young people can lead to unintentional ingestion of energy drinks when their goal is simply to rehydrate and replenish carbohydrate, electrolytes, and water with sports drinks,” the report authors write. “Using energy drinks instead of sports drinks for rehydration can result in ingestion of potentially large amounts of caffeine or other stimulant substances and the adverse effects previously described.”

A 2007 Institute of Medicine report titled Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools recommended limiting sugars in food and beverages; providing water at no cost; restricting carbonated, fortified, or flavored waters; restricting sports drinks to use by athletes only during prolonged, vigorous sports activities; prohibiting energy drink use, even for athletes; and prohibiting the sale of caffeinated products in school.

“Of additional concern is the intentional use of energy drinks by adolescents who desire stimulant effects to combat fatigue and increase energy during sports and school activities,” the authors of the report conclude. “Advertisements that target young people are contributing to the confusion rather than effectively distinguishing between sports and energy drinks. Furthermore, marketing fails to identify appropriate sources and amounts of energy substrate that should be consumed by children and adolescents.”

~Laurie Barclay, MD


CDC: Over One Million Americans Now Living With HIV

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/3, Stobbe) reports that about “1.1 million Americans were living with the AIDS virus in 2008, an increase of about 71,000 from 2006,” according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Thursday.

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/3, Reinberg) reports that the CDC says that each year in the US, “some 50,000 people become newly infected with HIV. Over half of these new infections are among gay and bisexual men, and of these about 50 percent are African-American,” according to the report. In another report in the same issue of MMWR, the CDC “contends that gay and bisexual men might benefit from more frequent HIV testing.”

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/2, Hendrick) explains that, according to the report, at the end of “2008, 75% of people living with HIV were men, and 65.7% of them were men who have sex with men.” HIV prevalence rates among “African-Americans were about eight times that of whites,” and HIV prevalence rates for “Hispanics or Latinos were about 2.5 times that of whites.” People between ages “13 and 24 have the highest percentage of undiagnosed HIV, at 58.9%.” The CDC says that the number of people living with HIV continues to rise primarily because of “highly effective drugs that allow people infected with HIV to live longer, healthier lives.”

MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/2, Smith) reported that in the accompanying article, the CDC reported that an “estimated 1,178,350 people were living with HIV at the end of 2008, with an additional 594,496 having died from AIDS since 1981.” Of those currently living with HIV, the agency reported, “20.1% do not know they are infected, which means they are more likely to pass on the virus.” AFP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/3) also covers the MMWR studies.


Strong Evidence Links Meat to Higher Risk for Colon Cancer

May 30, 2011 — A new report has confirmed that red and processed meat increases the risk for colorectal cancer, and the evidence that foods containing fiber offer protection against the disease has become stronger.

The report, released as part of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) groundbreaking Continuous Update Project (CUP), examined the relation between the risk for colorectal cancer and diet, physical activity, and weight.

According to the findings, it is estimated that about 45% of colorectal cancer cases could be prevented if people consumed more fiber-rich plant foods, consumed less meat and alcohol, became more physically active, and maintained a healthy weight. That would prevent more than 64,000 cases in the United States every year.

Update of Earlier Report

WCRF/AICR-funded scientists at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, conducted a systematic review of the literature, which added 263 papers on colorectal cancer to the 749 that were analyzed as part of the 2007 report. An independent expert panel then reviewed the results and made judgments.

The findings of the WCRF/AICR’s 2007 report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, have been updated accordingly.

“Our review has found strong evidence that many cases of bowel cancer are not inevitable, and that people can significantly reduce their risk by making changes to their diet and lifestyle,” said Alan Jackson, MD, chair of the WCRF/AICR CUP expert panel, in a statement.

He added that there has been a lot of debate during the past few years about the strength of evidence suggesting that red and processed meat increases the risk for cancer. “We hope our review can give clarity to people who are still confused about the strength of the evidence,” Dr. Jackson explained.

“Because our judgments are based on more evidence than ever before, it means the public can be confident that this represents the best advice available on preventing bowel cancer,” he added. “On meat, the clear message that comes out of our report is that red and processed meat increase risk of bowel cancer and that people who want to reduce their risk should consider cutting down the amount they eat.”

Barriers to Improving Health

Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers there is, and this is a ‘teaching moment’ for physicians.

Alice Bender, MS, RD, a nutritionist at AICR, acknowledges that simply putting out a message doesn’t mean that people will automatically change their eating and lifestyle habits. “There are a lot of barriers to improving health,” she said in an interview. “But colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers there is, and this is a ‘teaching moment’ for physicians.”

Physicians can emphasize the preventability aspect of making lifestyle changes along with other initiatives, such as screening, she explained.

Ms. Bender pointed out that none of these diseases exist in isolation. “If something impacts the risk in one disease, then it generally will impact another,” she said. “In this case, the recommendations can help lower the risk of other chronic diseases, such as diabetes.”

Ms. Bender also acknowledges that many physicians are busy and have limited time to counsel patients about diet and lifestyle. “In that case, referrals can be made to other professionals, such as registered dieticians,” she said. “Dieticians will have more time than physicians to really discuss these issues and help patients make changes.”

Support From Other Guidelines

Both the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have issued guidelines that echo many of the recommendations of the WCRF/AICR report. The USDA guidelines, which were released earlier this year and are geared toward reversing the rate of overweight and obese people, place a more pronounced emphasis on reducing caloric intake and increasing physical activity, and recommend increasing the intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber.

As previously reported by Medscape Medical News, the USDA guidelines overlap much of the advice from the WCRF/AICR and ACS, but there is one notable difference between them: the USDA does not recommend limiting red and processed meat, whereas the ACS and WCRF/AICR do.

The ACS recommendation for reducing the intake of red and processed meat was made on the basis of a wealth of studies showing increased colorectal cancer risk, Marji McCullough, ScD, RD, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology at the ACS, previously told Medscape Medical News.

New Data Support 2007 Recommendations

For red and processed meat, the findings from 10 new studies were added to the 14 studies that were evaluated in the 2007 report. From these 24 studies, the panel confirmed that there is convincing evidence that both red and processed meat can increase the risk for colorectal cancer.

The WCRF/AICR recommend that the consumption of red meat be limited to 500 g/week, which is roughly the equivalent of 5 or 6 medium portions of beef, lamb, or pork. They also recommend that processed meat be avoided.

According to their data, if 3.5 ounces of red meat are consumed every day (24.5 ounces per week), the risk for colorectal cancer will be 17% higher than if no red meat is consumed. If the amount of red meat consumed is doubled (7.0 ounces every day; 49 ounces per week), the risk is 34% higher. However, the evidence found that there was very little increase in risk for individuals who ate less than 18 ounces of red meat per week.

The cancer risk associated with processed meat, which includes ham, bacon, pastrami, hot dogs, and sausages, was much higher. Consuming 3.5 ounces every day (24.5 ounces per week) was associated with a risk that is 36% higher than the risk of consuming no processed meat. As with red meat, the higher the rate of consumption, the higher the risk for colorectal cancer.

There were 15 cohort studies included in the update that investigated the association between alcohol consumption and cancer. Overall, the experts found that all cohort studies showed an increased risk for colorectal and colon cancers with higher intake. This evidence is consistent with the earlier conclusions, they write, in that “ethanol from alcoholic drinks as a cause of colorectal cancer in men is convincing; and it is probably a cause in women.”

The updated report reaffirms AICR’s recommendation that individuals consume a plant-based diet that includes foods containing fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans, they write.

Elisa Bandera, MD, PhD, who is a member of the CUP expert panel, noted that many people are confused about cancer prevention because “it can seem like a new study is published every week that suggests something either causes or prevents cancer.”

“But the CUP takes the latest scientific findings and adds them to the existing body of evidence in a systematic way that ensures our advice takes the latest research into account,” Dr. Bandera, who is from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, said in a statement. “This means people can be confident that AICR’s recommendations represent the most up-to-date, evidence–based information on cancer prevention available.”

~Roxanne Nelson


Screening College Athletes May Help Prevent Incidents Of Sudden Cardiac Death

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/1, Dallas) reported that “screening college athletes for heart conditions before they participate in sports could help prevent incidents of sudden cardiac death, according to a new study” published in The American Journal of Medicine. In the study, “nearly one in four athletes tested either had a distinct heart abnormality or symptoms that required further screening.” The authors of the study “noted that American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines for pre-participation screening effectively identified nearly 25 percent of athletes who were candidates for heart screening based on history or symptoms.”

International Panel Of Experts Categorizes Cell Phones As “Possibly Carcinogenic.”

ABC World News (5/31, lead story, 3:10, Sawyer) reported, “An important new alert about the safety of cell phones and the possible risk of cancer, brain cancer in particular…comes from the World Health Organization.” NBC Nightly News (5/31, lead story, 3:10, Williams) reported, the WHO “statement labeling cell phones as a possible carcinogenic hazard comes from a panel of 31 scientists.”

According to the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/1, Cheng), the statement was “issued in Lyon, France, on Tuesday by the International Agency for Research on Cancer” (IARC) after a “weeklong meeting” during which experts reviewed “possible links between cancer and the type of electromagnetic radiation found in cellphones, microwaves and radar.” The IARC classified cellphones in “category 2B, meaning they are possibly carcinogenic” to humans. The assessment now “goes to WHO and national health agencies for possible guidance on cellphone use.”

The Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/1, Martin, Hobson, Subscription Publication) reports that the IARC working group did not conduct new research. Instead, the panel reviewed existing literature that focused on the health effects of radio frequency magnetic fields. Its findings are slated to be published July 1 in Lancet Oncology.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/31, Parker-Pope, Barringer, Subscription Publication) “Well” blog noted that the panel’s decision to “classify cellphones as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ was based largely on epidemiological data showing an increased risk among heavy cellphone users of a rare type of brain tumor called a glioma.” Most “major medical groups,” including the National Cancer Institute, have “said the existing data on cellphones and health has been reassuring.” Earlier this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association “reported on research Share to FacebookShare to Twitter from the National Institutes of Health, which found that less than an hour of cellphone use can speed up brain activity in the area closest to the phone antenna.”

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (6/1, Roan, Gabler) reports that a 2010 study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (pdf) published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found a “40% increase risk of gliomas for people who used a cellphone an average of 30 minutes a day over a 10-year period.”

Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/31, Kresge) reported that the most recent research “considered dated to 2004, and exposure levels from handsets have dropped over time,” said IARC Working Group Chair Dr. Jonathan Samet from the University of Southern California. The age of the studies also means the participants “had used their phones for no more than 10 to 15 years, leaving open the question of the effect of longer-term exposure,” he noted. The CBS Evening News (5/31, lead story, 2:50, Smith) also covered the story.


CDC: More Americans Than Ever Are Living With Type 2 Diabetes

In a column in the Huffington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/24), Marki Flannery, president of Partners in Care, wrote, “More people than ever are living with type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes. According to recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes affects 25.8 million Americans, or 8.3 percent of the population (including both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases).” In 2010, “nearly two million Americans were newly diagnosed.” Flannery went on to detail strategies for caretakers of people with type 2 diabetes to help keep patients well and their condition under good control.

Physician Makes Case For Lifestyle Changes To Slow Coming Tide Of Type 2 Diabetes Cases. In a guest column in the Des Moines Register Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/24), Dr. Robert S. Bar, of the University of Iowa College of Medicine, wrote, “Unless Americans drastically change their dietary and exercise habits, diabetes may play a major role in nearly 90 percent of all patients seen by US physicians in the next five to 10 years.” Of special concern is “a larger, poorly defined group of people that arguably could double or triple the current number of people with diabetes,” that is, those who have been “described by physicians as having ‘borderline diabetes’ or ‘pre-diabetes.'” Bar made the case for lifestyle changes to slow the coming tide of type 2 diabetes patients, such as exercise, losing weight, cutting out junk foods, and being aware of family history.

Small Dietary Changes May Make Big Difference In Diabetes Risk. HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/24, Dallas) reported that, according to a study published online May 18 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when it comes to diabetes, “small dietary changes can make a big difference in risk, even without weight loss and particularly among blacks.” Researchers arrived at this conclusion after putting “69 overweight people at risk for diabetes on diets for eight weeks with only small reductions to their fat or carbohydrate intake.” Notably, “at eight weeks, the group on the lower-fat diet had significantly higher insulin secretion and better glucose tolerance and tended to have higher insulin sensitivity,” the study’s lead author said. These changes were even more pronounced among the black study participants.


Coffee May Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk

Regular coffee consumption is associated with a striking decrease in fatal or metastatic prostate cancer, according to an analysis of long-term data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

Kathryn M. Wilson, ScD, with the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues led the new study, reported online May 17 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

According to the researchers, coffee contains “diverse biologically active compounds that include caffeine, minerals, and phytochemicals.” They add that many studies suggest that long-term coffee drinking may be linked to improved glucose metabolism and insulin secretion.

Using data from the prospective Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the researchers analyzed information from 47,911 men who reported intake of regular and decaffeinated coffee first in 1986 and were observed every 4 years thereafter.

From 1986 to 2006, there were 5035 of the 47,911 men who had developed prostate cancer; of those, 642 patients had so-called lethal prostate cancers, defined as fatal or metastatic. The study participants overall consumed an average of 1.9 cups of coffee per day.

Among men drinking at least 6 cups per day, the adjusted risk for overall prostate cancer was 18% lower vs that in nondrinkers (relative risk [RR], 0.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68 – 0.98; P linear trend = .10).

Notably, the risk was decreased by approximately 60% in this group vs nondrinkers (RR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.22 – 0.75; P trend = .03) when only lethal forms of prostate cancer were considered.

The researchers also found that coffee consumption did not appear to be associated with a decreased risk for nonadvanced or low-grade cancers and only slightly correlated with a reduced risk for high-grade cancer.

However, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee appeared to decrease the risk for lethal prostate cancer. For each cup, the risk declined by approximately 6% for regular coffee (RR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.88 – 1.01; P = .08) and by roughly 9% for decaffeinated coffee (RR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.83 – 1.00; P = .05).

Men drinking at least 6 cups a day had an age-adjusted incidence of only 425 prostate cancers per 100,000 person-years vs 529 in those not consuming coffee. Likewise, the incidence of lethal prostate cancers was 34 vs 79 per 100,000 person-years in those drinking at least 6 cups vs nondrinkers, respectively.

“It is premature to recommend that men increase coffee intake to reduce advanced prostate cancer risk based on this single study,” Dr. Wilson and colleagues conclude. “In addition, the effects of coffee consumption on other aspects of health must be considered in making consumption recommendations,” they add. “However, our findings are potentially important, given the lack of identified modifiable risk factors for advanced prostate cancer.”

According to the researchers, coffee may provide as much as half of total antioxidant intake in many settings. Compounds in coffee that may affect cancer risk could include chlorogenic acids, which inhibit glucose absorption; quinides, the roasting products of chlorogenic acids; and lignans, phytoestrogens with potent antioxidant activity that may benefit glucose.

~Emma Hitt, PhD

Even A Serious Health Scare May Not Be Enough To Get Patients To Improve Health Habits

In the Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/23) “The MD” column, Valerie Ulene, MD, a preventive medicine specialist, observes that “even a serious health scare may not be enough” to get patients to shake habits deleterious to their health, such as eating too much salt, smoking, drinking too much, or not exercising. This is the case, even though “after a serious illness, lifestyle changes often have the potential to dramatically improve a person’s overall health and quality of life. In fact, lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and physical activity strongly influence how rapidly many diseases will progress.”

Hypertension Appears To Be More Severe Among People With Psoriasis

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/20, Dallas) reported that, according to a study published online in PLoS One, “people who have psoriasis and hypertension are more likely to have more severe high blood pressure, requiring more medications to control it.” In a study involving 835 patients with both psoriasis and hypertension, plus 2,400 people with just high blood pressure, researchers found that “the patients with psoriasis were more likely to need the highest level of blood pressure treatment, which relies on a central-acting agent (also known as adrenergic inhibitors).” What’s more, “hypertensive patients with psoriasis were also nearly 20 times more likely to be on four drugs or on a central-acting agent than hypertensive patients without psoriasis.”

Prevalence Of Psoriasis Significantly Higher Among Overweight, Obese Children. HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/20, Dallas) reported, “The prevalence of psoriasis…is significantly higher among overweight and obese kids,” according to a study published online in the Journal of Pediatrics. “Using electronic health records to study 710,949 racially and ethnically diverse children, the investigators found obese children were almost 40 percent more likely to have psoriasis than normal weight children.”

“Regardless of body weight, teens with psoriasis had 4% to 16% higher blood cholesterol levels and liver enzymes than teens without psoriasis,” WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/20, Mann) reported. “Levels of so-called ‘bad’ or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were higher among teens with psoriasis that were also obese.”


Lifestyle Factors Linked To Heart Health May Also Help Protect Against Kidney Stones

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/17, Salamon) reported that “the same lifestyle factors that are linked to healthy hearts and bones can also keep painful kidney stones at bay,” according to research presented at a urological medicine meeting. One study suggested that “women with higher calcium intakes were at reduced risk of” kidneys stones. Another study found that “statins, typically used to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, were linked with a 50 percent reduction in stone disease among men and a 70 percent reduction among women.”

Kidney stones (calculus of kidney) refer to stones that occur in the junction of renal calyx, renal pelvis and ureter. They are mostly located in the renal pelvis, and the renal essence stones are rare. The plain film shows there is a single or multiple round, oval or obtuse triangular dense shadow in the renal area, with high density and uniformity. Majorly smooth contours, but there are non-smooth mulberry-like contours. The kidney is the main part for the formation of stones in the urinary system; stones in any other parts can originate in the kidney; the ureteral calculus is almost all from the kidney, and the kidney stones are more easily to direct damage the kidney than any other parts of stones, thus the early diagnosis and treatment are very important.


Antibiotic Use During Infancy May Increase Risk For Developing Childhood Asthma

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/16, Nierenberg) reported that infants who are given “antibiotics during the first year of life may be at a slightly increased risk of developing asthma by age 18,” according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed data from “22 previous studies published between 1950 and July 1, 2010,” and found that infants who given antibiotics “during their first year of life were about 50% more likely than babies who never received the drugs to be diagnosed with asthma.” In studies that adjusted for “respiratory infections,” however, a child who was given “antibiotics was 13% more likely to be diagnosed with asthma than a child who never took the medication.”

Should you be concerned?

Anyone with a history of high blood pressure in their family knows what devastation it can wreak.  It carries with it a mishmash of health risks, many of them serious, like tripling the risk of dying from a heart attack, quadrupling the risk of dying from a stroke, doubling the risk of congestive heart failure and tripling the risk of developing kidney disease.

But if our very lives weren’t enough for high blood pressure to be in the top five of our “Health Issues to Be Concerned About” lists, then how about the lives of our marriages and relationships?

High blood pressure has a significant impact on a couple’s sexlife.  Sex is a crucial part of any relationship, and when a loving couple is not having it at least on a semi-regular basis, more often than not, the relationship sours faster than curdled milk.

The reason high blood pressure affects the average sexlife all boils down to blood flow. Due to the narrowing of the arteries that high blood pressure creates, it diminishes a man’s ability to have an.erection — never mind maintain one — as there’s less blood flowing to the penis.

To rectify this situation, the average guy heads to his doctor, reluctantly tells him or her about his issues “down there,” and the doctor prescribes him with some form of hypertension med — usually an alpha or beta-blocker.

Problem solved, right?  Not exactly.

While your blood pressure levels might lower incrementally, your sex drive will lower incrementally as well — the very opposite of what you want to have happen.

This isn’t some theory concocted by so-called natural health “whack jobs,” mind you. Well-respected news organizations and medical information outlets — like ABC News and the Mayo Clinic — corroborate this.  In an ABC News webcast on Feb. 7 of last year, Dr. Domenic Sica, chairman for Clinical Pharmacology and Hypertension at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, said this:

“When you look at it, a number of the blood pressure medications we use are associated with the onset of male dysfunction.  Now, that can be a diuretic, a beta-blocker, or so-called peripheral alpha beta-blocker — those are three drugs commonly linked to male dysfunction.”

I’m not sure the link can be made any clearer; you name the hypertension drug, and it will adversely affect your sexlife.

Given this, if you’ll pardon the cliche, how does one kill two birds with one stone?  How does one lower their blood pressure and improve their lovelife at the same time?  Or is that even possible?

Absolutely it’s possible, and you can learn how to do it all-naturally.

Bestselling authors Frank Mangano and Jon Benson have developed an easy, all-natural way to lower your blood pressure and improve your sexlife at the same time.  They weren’t sure this was possible, but after months of research and hordes of emails from people on how their system worked for them, they don’t just think it’s possible, they know it’s possible!

Let me prove it to you.

Go here:

I recommend you visit their website immediately, where you’ll get a crash course on how this issue has affected me personally; more information on the links between what’s ‘down there’ and hypertension; and most important of all, how you can improve the health of your body and your relationship…all-naturally.


Consumption Of Dairy Products May Reduce Risk For Type 2 Diabetes

MedWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/12, Albert) reported that, according to a review Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published online in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “consumption of dairy products, especially those with a low fat content, may reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.” Researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing data derived from seven studies encompassing some 300,000 participants. The study authors theorized that “one possible reason for this could be the high vitamin D content found in dairy products, high levels of which have been shown to reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes in other studies.”

Hypertension, Obesity, Diabetes Associated With Autism

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/11, Goodwin) reported that, according to research presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, “having the flu during pregnancy isn’t associated with a heightened risk of autism or developmental delay in children, although having a fever during pregnancy might be.” In addition, “giving birth by Cesarean section isn’t associated with autism in offspring, but having diabetes or high blood pressure or being obese while pregnant seems to be.”

In addition, “the mothers of children who were delayed developmentally were about 150% more likely to be obese before pregnancy, have diabetes, or have high blood pressure,” WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/11, Doheny) reported.


Having Blue Eyes, Fair Skin May Raise Risk For Type 1 Diabetes

MedWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/10, Albert) reported, “Having blue eyes, and to a
lesser extent fair skin, increases a person’s risk of having Type 1 diabetes,”
according to a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published online in the journal Diabetes/Metabolism:
Research and Reviews. After assessing “iris color and skin type (by melanin
quantification) in 281 consecutive patients with type 1 diabetes…and 298
controls,” the researchers noted that they “have evaluated a possible
association between different single nucleotide polymorphisms of the OCA2, MC1R,
and MATP genes and the eye color and the fair skin in type 1 diabetes subjects.”

Approximately 58,000 Patients Every Year In US May Wake Up With Stroke Symptoms

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/10, Marcus) reports, “One in seven strokes happens at night, and sufferers may not get medicine that could prevent brain damage, suggests a new study” published in Neurology. Investigators “analyzed data from 1,854 patients over 18 who had been treated in hospital emergency departments in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky over the course of a year for ischemic strokes.” The researchers “found that 273 patients experienced wake-up strokes.”

The CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/9) “The Chart” blog reported that the “researchers found that 98 of the 273 wake-up strokes used in their study would have qualified for…clot-busting treatment if medical staff could only have known when the stroke symptoms began.”

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/10) reports that the researchers calculate that, were the data extrapolated nationally, approximately 58,000 individuals in the US seek emergency treatment each year after waking up with stroke symptoms.

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/9, Hendrick) reported that the investigators “compared people who reported to emergency departments with wake-up strokes to those who had strokes while awake. No differences were noted between the two groups in terms of sex, whether they were married or living with a partner, and their stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, or high cholesterol.”


Few Americans Accurately Estimate The Number Of Calories They Should Eat Daily

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/6, Hellmich) reports that just nine percent of Americans “can accurately estimate the number of calories they should eat in a day, and 9% keep track of their calories every day,” according to “a nationally representative online survey of 1,000 people, conducted for the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation.”

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/5, Goodman) reported, “At a time of economic uncertainty, however, the survey suggests weight loss may be on the back burner for a lot of people.” Not surprisingly, “taste is the main reason people buy food at the grocery store or a restaurant, but price is catching up as a main consideration.” Although “87% of people report taste is their top priority, 79% made price the No. 2 factor in food and drink decision making — a 15% jump for price since 2006. Healthfulness of food ranked third: 66% said a food’s nutritional quality affected their food choices.”


UN Projects 10.1 Billion People By 2100

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/4, A1, Gillis, Dugger, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page, “The population of the world, long expected to stabilize just above 9 billion in the middle of the century, will instead keep growing and may hit 10.1 billion by the year 2100, the United Nations projected in a report released Tuesday.” Africa will largely account for the increase, as forecasts estimate that “the population there could more than triple in this century, rising from today’s one billion to 3.6 billion.” The UN report said the world population is increasing because “fertility is not declining as rapidly as expected in some poor countries, and has shown a slight increase in many wealthier countries, including the United States, Britain and Denmark.”

Exposure To Secondhand Smoke May Be Associated With Higher Blood Pressure In Boys

MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/2, Neale) reported that “exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke appears to be associated with higher blood pressure in boys,” according to a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting.

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/2, Dotinga) reported that investigators “analyzed statistics from four national studies conducted between 1999 and 2006, focusing on the exposure of 6,421 children to secondhand smoke.” The researchers found that, “compared to boys not exposed to secondhand smoke, boys aged 8 to 17 who were exposed had significantly higher levels of systolic blood pressure.” The investigators found, however, that “girls who were exposed to secondhand smoke…had lower blood pressure readings than those who weren’t.” The UK’s Daily Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/2) also covered the story.


Being Overweight At Midlife May Increase Risk For Developing Dementia Later

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/2, Pittman) reported that being overweight or obese during middle age increases the risk for dementia even after factoring for diabetes and vascular disease histories, according to study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter in the journal Neurology, which followed that followed twins in Sweden for 30 years.

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/2, Doheny) reported that the researchers analyzed data twins of whom “50 were diagnosed with dementia” and 114 had “possible dementia.” They found that about “26 percent of participants without dementia had been overweight at midlife, compared to 36 percent of those with possible dementia and 39 percent with diagnosed dementia.” And although “2.7 percent of seniors without dementia had been obese at midlife, 6.9 percent of those with dementia had been obese, as well as 5.3 percent of those with possible dementia.” Notably, when they looked at twin pairs in which “one had dementia in later life and one did not,” the link to weight was “no longer significant, suggesting early environment and genetics also play roles in dementia.”

The UK’s Daily Mail Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/2, Hope), BBC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/4, Gallagher), and WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/2, Nierenberg) also covered the study.


Employer-Based Healthcare Dropped Significantly During Recession

Modern Healthcare Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/29, Evans, Subscription Publication) reports that the “percentage of adults covered by employer-sponsored health insurance dropped more significantly during the recession than in prior years during the past decade, according to a new report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.” The report, “which analyzed Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data, found the percentage of adults ages 18 to 65 with health benefits from an employer dropped to 52% in 2009 from 53.3% the prior year and 54.2% the year before that.”

Low Vitamin D Levels May Double Diabetes Risk

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/27, Boerner) reported that low vitamin D levels may increase the risk of developing diabetes, according to a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter in the journal Diabetes Care. For five years, the researchers followed more than 5,000 individuals and found that those with consistently lower-than-average vitamin D levels had a 57% percent increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes compared with people whose average vitamin D levels were within the recommended range. Adults need about 600 IU of vitamin D daily to maintain blood-circulating levels, according to Institute of Medicine recommendations.

Many Americans May Not Be Well Informed About Sea Salt, Red Wine

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/25, Preidt) reported that “most Americans have heard that red wine has health benefits, but many don’t understand the need to limit consumption, finds an American Heart Association survey.” Most “respondents also mistakenly believe that sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to table salt, the survey found.” Among “the 1,000 adults polled, 76 percent agreed with the statement that wine can be good for your heart, but only 30 percent knew the AHA’s recommended limits for daily wine consumption.”

Death Rate Among Americans With Hypertension May Be Declining

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/25, Goodwin) reported that “although the death rate among Americans with high blood pressure, or hypertension, has fallen since the 1970s, it still far exceeds the death rate for those with normal blood pressure,” according to a study published in Circulation. Investigators “looked at data on about 23,000 adults aged 25 to 74 from two national health surveys: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) I, which recruited participants between 1971 and 1975; and NHANES III, which enrolled adults between 1988 and 1994.” The “death rates among those with high blood pressure fell between the two time periods, from 18.8 per 1,000 person-years to 14.3 per 1,000 person-years.”

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/25, Nierenberg) reported that the rates were “still higher than in people with normal blood pressure.” The researchers also found that, “among women with high blood pressure, smaller declines in the death rate were found than those seen in men, even though a higher percentage of women were receiving treatment and, on average, they also had larger reductions in their blood pressure readings.”


Many Patients With Diabetes Wear The Wrong Footwear

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/22, Doheny) reported, “Many patients with diabetes fall short on foot care and footwear,” according to a study presented at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists’ meeting in California. For the study, which was “conducted in Lagos, Nigeria,” researchers “asked 41 patients with type 2 diabetes, on average about 57 years old, to answer questions about their footwear habits and foot care.” The researchers found that 68 percent of the patient’s footwear was inappropriate. About “56% told the researchers they always or occasionally walk around the house without shoes, which is not recommended. Nearly 15% did so outside, too.”

Many Children With Type 1 Diabetes Also Have Other Immune Diseases

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/22, Norton) reports that according to a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter of 491 children with type 1 diabetes in the journal Diabetes Care, a third of the children have signs of other immune system disorders when they get diagnosed with diabetes. Dr. Jennifer M. Barker, the University of Colorado Denver, and colleagues found that one-quarter had autoantibodies related to thyroid disease and one in eight of those patients had the disease itself. Also, nearly one in eight had antibodies related to celiac disease, and a quarter of those patients had the disease.


Vegetarians Have Lower Cataract Risk Than Meat Eaters

WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/20, Hendrick) reported, “People who eat meat may be at increased risk of developing cataracts compared to vegetarians,” according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For the study, 27,670 people “were divided into groups according to the amount of meat they ate: highest meat consumption: 3.5 ounces or more a day; mid-range meat consumption: 1.7 to 3.4 ounces a day; low-meat consumption: less than 1.7 ounces a day; fish eaters: Those who ate fish but not meat; vegetarians: Those who did not eat meat or fish but did eat dairy products and/or eggs;” and “vegans: Those who did not eat meat, fish, dairy products, or eggs.” The researchers found that “mid-range meat eaters had a decreased cataract risk of 4%, low-meat eaters 15%, fish eaters 21%, vegetarians 30%, and vegans 40%.”

Even Modest Weight Loss May Help Reduce Blood Pressure In Real-World Practice

MedPage Today (4/17, Phend) reported that “even modest weight loss helps reduce blood pressure in real-world practice, researchers affirmed in an observational study” presented at a European cardiology meeting. Researchers found that “each 1 kg weight loss (2.2 pounds) was associated with a 0.39 mm Hg decrease in systolic and 0.26 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure.”


Study Examines Pregnancy Complication Rates In Older First-Time Mothers

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/15, Grens) reports that, according to a study published online March 31 in the journal Fertility and Sterility, 80% of first time older mothers experienced complications during pregnancy. In the study of 131 women aged 45 to 65 giving birth for the first time, 40% developed gestational diabetes and 20% developed preeclampsia. Notably, about a third of the infants were born prematurely, and almost all of the deliveries were made by C-section.


Study: More Than A Quarter Of US Children May Now Suffer From A Long-Term Health Problem

As part of a continuing series focusing on how childhood is changing in America, USA Today (4/13, Szabo) reports that “26% of children now suffer from a long-term health problem, says a 2010 study of more than 5,000 children ages two to eight in the Journal of the American Medical Association.” What’s more, “more than half of children in that study have had some kind of chronic illness — one that limits their abilities or requires special medication, equipment or services for at least 12 months — sometime in the past six years, the study” found. Unfortunately, young children are now “developing diseases once seen only in middle age: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty livers and type 2 diabetes, says Sandra Hassink, a Delaware pediatrician who specializes in weight management.”


Severe Seasonal Allergies May Be A Risk Factor For Depression

n the New York Times (4/12, D5, Subscription Publication) “Really?” column, Anahad O’Connor writes, “Severe seasonal allergies may be a risk factor for depression.” A number of “large studies have found that the risk of depression in people with severe allergies is about twice that of those without allergies.” In fact, a 2008 study “reported that this link may help explain a widely established — but poorly understood — increase in suicides during the spring every year.” The New York Times (4/11, Parker-Pope, Subscription Publication) “Well” blog also covered the story.


US Achieves New Record High For Life Expectancy

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/17, Hellmich) reports that youngsters “born today can expect to live longer than ever in US history, according to preliminary government data Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (pdf) released Wednesday.” In fact, “life expectancy at birth increased to 78.2 years in 2009, up from 78 years in 2008.” USA Today adds, “‘What this means is that somebody born in 2009 can expect to live to an average of 78.2 years. This is a new record high for life expectancy,’ says Kenneth Kochanek, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Meanwhile, the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/16) reported, “About 2.4 million people died in the United States in 2009 — roughly 36,000 fewer deaths than the year before.” The decrease in the number of deaths is attributed to “a range of causes, from heart disease to homicide, so experts don’t believe there’s one simple explanation for the increase in life expectancy.” Instead, “better medical treatment, vaccination campaigns and public health measures against smoking are believed to be having an impact.”

“The number of Americans who committed suicide rose to 36,547, from 35,933 in 2008, passing blood poisoning and making it the 10th-leading cause of death in the country,” Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/17, Cortez) reports. “The rankings for the top 15 causes of death otherwise remained the same, led by heart disease, cancer, lower respiratory disease, strokes and accidental deaths.”

The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/16, Forgione) “Booster Shots” blog reported that “death rates…fell to an all-time low of 741 deaths per 100,000, with Hawaii with the lowest and West Virginia the highest.”

According to the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/16, Stein) “The Checkup” blog, the new CDC report “analyzed data collected from 96 percent of death certificates from all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2009” to arrive at these conclusions.

Also covering the story are the Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/16, Paletta) “Real Time Economics” blog, Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/17, Krauskopf), the Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/17, Wetzstein), HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/16, Reinberg), WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/16, Stacy), andMedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/16, Gever).


New Technique Uses Cold To Temporarily Remove Forehead Wrinkles

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/1, Goodwin) reported that, according to a study presented at a laser medicine conference, cryoneuromodulation, “a new technology that temporarily zaps away forehead wrinkles by freezing the nerves, shows promise in early clinical trials.” HealthDay added, “The technique, if eventually approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, could provide an alternative to Botox [onabotulinumtoxin A] and Dysport [abobotulinumtoxin A]. Both are injectable forms of Botulinum toxin type A, a neurotoxin that, when injected in small quantities, temporarily paralyzes facial muscles, thereby reducing wrinkles,” HealthDay noted.

Fitness May Be A Better Predictor Than Weight Of Whether Individuals With Certain Heart Problems Will Die In Near Future

Manifestions of Obesity Diagram

Reuters (4/1, Marcus) reports that research published in the American Heart Journal suggests that fitness may be a better predictor than weight of whether individuals with certain heart problems are more likely to die in the near future. Researchers found that individuals who were both somewhat thin and fit had the lowest risk of dying during the study period. Patients who were overweight but still fit had twice the risk of dying during the study, while individuals who were obese but fit had three times the risk of dying during the study. Meanwhile, individuals who were considered unfit and were overweight were almost seven times more likely to die during the study period, but unfit normal-weight individuals faced an even higher risk of dying.

Data Suggest Nearly Half A Million US Deaths Annually Occur From Smoking-Related Diseases

Reuters (3/31, Pittman) reported that nearly half a million mortalities annually in the US are from smoking-related diseases, according to a study in the journal Epidemiology, The researchers analyzed data on about 250,000 people who participated from 2002 to 2006 in a national health survey. By 2006, there were 17,000 deaths. Extrapolating the data to the overall US population, the study authors calculated that roughly 290,000 smoking-related deaths in men and 230,000 in women occurred annually during the same period. The data showed the greatest risk for death occurred in the 65 to 74 age group. When obesity and alcohol consumption were factored in, the researchers estimated that age group had a threefold increased risk for death if they also smoked currently. Reuters noted that a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association substantiates that trend.
High Prices, Inconvenient Policies Prompt More Adolescents To Quit Smoking, Study Finds. Reuters (3/31, Pittman) reported that alerting adolescents to cigarette price increases and new no-smoking rules helped lower the rates of smoking among Australian teens, according to a study in the journal Addiction. From 1990 through 2005, the researchers asked roughly 20,000 high school students, at three-year intervals, whether they had smoked within the last month. The youth were also made aware of cigarette-tax increases and any new anti-smoking policies. Over those 15 years, the Australian teen-smoking rate decreased nearly 50% — from approximately 23% to about 13% — while simultaneously, cigarette costs doubled from 20 cents to 40 cents per cigarette. In contrast, other efforts, such as limiting access to cigarettes, did not lower adolescent smoking rates. Notably, approximately 16% of US high school students currently smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Expanding Waistline May Put Men In Danger Of Developing AMD

The UK’s Daily Mail (4/1, Hagan) reports, “An expanding waistline puts men in danger of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).” After monitoring “changes in the waistlines of more than 21,000 men and women, aged between 40 and 69, over several years,” then following the study population to determine how many cases of AMD developed, Australian researchers discovered that “even small increases in waist size seem to raise the risk of AMD by up to 75 per cent” in men. Women do not seem to be affected, however.

One Third Of Americans May Not Be Getting Enough Vitamin D

USA Today (3/31, Marcus) reports, “About one third of Americans are not getting enough vitamin D,” according to a National Center for Health Statistics data brief released March 30 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report “parallels what many other studies have suggested in recent years: that a large chunk of the population is at risk for low vitamin D levels.” Although approximately “two-thirds had sufficient levels…about a third were in ranges suggesting risk of either inadequate or deficient levels, says report author Anne Looker, a research scientist with the CDC.”
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times (3/30, Roan) “Booster Shots” blog reported that “1% had blood levels that were too high (greater than 125 nmol/L), putting them at risk of health problems.”
The Washington Post (3/30, Stein) “The Check Up” blog reported that recently, the Institute of Medicine “released new recommendations for how much vitamin D people should be getting on a regular basis.” In spite of “mounting pressure to urge many Americans to sharply boost their vitamin D levels, they did not advocate a huge increase.” In fact, “a 14-member expert committee concluded that most Americans and Canadians up to age 70 need no more than 600 international units of vitamin D per day.”
“The analysis showed that the risk for vitamin D deficiency differed by age, sex and race or ethnicity,” HealthDay (3/30, Preidt) reported.
WebMD (3/30, Mann) reported that people “who were at the lowest risk for vitamin D deficiency or inadequacy were children, males, non-Hispanic whites, and women who were pregnant or breastfeeding,” with the “risk of deficiency…lowest in children ages one to eight and increased with age until about age 30, the study showed.” WebMD also noted, “The analysis was based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys that includes about 5,000 Americans each year.”

Nicotine May Pose Harm To Diabetes Patients By Raising Blood Sugar Levels

HealthDay (3/25, Gordon) reported that “nicotine in cigarettes may be even more deadly for people who have diabetes,” according to findings presented at an American Chemical Society meeting in Anaheim, California. In lab experiments, researchers from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona found that even the smallest dose of nicotine “increased HbA1C levels by 8.8 percent. The highest dose — after two days of nicotine treatment — increased blood sugar levels by 34.5 percent.”
According to the Time (3/27, Park) “Healthland” blog, the study “also implies that if you are a smoker, and not diabetic…your chances of developing diabetes is higher.” Moreover, the results suggest that “nicotine replacement products such as patches and nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes, aren’t a safe option for diabetes patients either. Because they still contain nicotine, these products are just as likely to boost A1c levels as cigarettes are.”

Exercise May Diminish Negative Impact Of High-Salt Diet On Blood Pressure

HealthDay (3/23, Mozes) reported, “Physical activity may diminish the negative impact of a high-salt diet on blood pressure,” according to a study presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association’s conference. For the study, researchers examined data on some 1,900 men and women, all of whom “consumed 3,000 mg of sodium a day in their diet; for another week” and then “were placed on a high-sodium diet — 18,000 mg per day.”
“Researchers also looked at how much physical activity the participants reported on questionnaires,” WebMD (3/23, Goodman) reported. “They found that the more physical activity a person got, the less likely they were to be sensitive to salt.” In fact, “study participants in the group that got the most physical activity had a 38% lower risk of being salt sensitive compared to those who got the least amount of physical activity.”

High-Fiber Diet May Reduce Lifetime Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

USA Today (3/23, Hellmich) reports, “A high-fiber diet appears to reduce your lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if you are consuming lots of fiber when you are young and middle-aged,” according to a study presented this week at the American Heart Association conference. After analyzing “dietary-recall data from more than 11,000 people, ages 20 and older, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,” researchers found that “people who are in the top 25% of dietary fiber intake — that is, they consume more than 22 grams of dietary fiber a day — are more likely to have a lower lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease.” HealthDay (3/22, Dotinga) also covered the story.
Eating Whole Grain Cereal May Reduce Risk For Developing Hypertension. HealthDay (3/22, Reinberg) reported that, according to a study presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association conference, “eating breakfast cereal — especially whole grain cereal — may reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.” After examining “data on 13,368 male doctors who took part in the Physicians Health Study I,” researchers “found about a 20 percent decreased risk of developing hypertension in those who consumed whole grain breakfasts cereals at least seven times a week.”

Number Of Americans With Prediabetes Increasing

The Los Angeles Times (3/21, Worth) reports, “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released figures in January showing that the number of American adults with prediabetes had jumped from 57 million in 2008 to 79 million in 2010.” At the same time, “the number with full-on diabetes grew from 23.6 million to 26 million, the vast majority of which are type 2 cases.” With changes in diet and exercise, people with prediabetes, which is marked by elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, can avoid developing type 2 diabetes. But, “without such changes, most people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.”
Elevated Levels Of Five Amino Acids Associated With Development Of Type 2 Diabetes. WebMD (3/20, Warner) reported, “Elevated levels of a group of five amino acids may predict the development of diabetes years before any noticeable symptoms occur,” according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine. After following 2,422 adults for 12 years, “researchers found that blood tests that screened for these amino acids accurately predicted risk of type 2 diabetes in otherwise healthy adults as well as in those with traditional risk factors, such as obesity.” Notably, “elevated levels of five amino acids, isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine, and phenylalanine, were associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.” The UK’s Daily Mail (3/21, Derbyshire) and the UK’s Independent (3/21, O’Connor) also cover the story.