Healthcare updates, November 30

November 30, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

healthcareResearch in health and biomedicine is getting a boost through fundings and grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The grants will not only promote research, it will also contribute to the economic recovery by providing jobs for researchers and scientists as well as technical and support staff. Some of these grants are listed below.

HHS Announces Plans to Make $80 Million Available to Support Health IT Workforce
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) makes $80 million available to provide research grants that would develop and strengthen the health information technology workforce. The grants would include programs in community colleges, curriculum development and other programs. The funding plans are part of the ARRA. According to Dr. David Blumenthal, HHS’ National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

“Ensuring the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), information exchange among health care providers and public health authorities, and redesign of workflows within health care settings all depend on having a qualified pool of workers. The expansion of a highly skilled workforce developed through these programs will help health care providers and hospitals implement and maintain EHRs and use them to strengthen delivery of care.”

NIH Awards $20.4 Million for Biomedical Research in Rhode Island and South Carolina
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) allocates $20.4 million for biomedical research in institutes in the states of South Carolina and Rhode Island. The two new Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) awards were awarded to Rhode Island Hospital and Clemson University. The program “supports multidisciplinary centers that concentrate on one core area of research in order to strengthen biomedical faculty research capability and enhance research infrastructure.” The research will focus on regenerative medicine and stem cell biology.

NIGMS Invests in Scientific Grand Opportunities with Recovery Act Funds
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which is also a part of the NIH is also using funds as part of the ARRA to invest in research. The $42.3 million worth of research grants is part of the Grand Opportunities (GO) which, according to the Dr. NIGMS Director Dr. Jeremy M. Berg

“…fund projects that promise to have a significant impact on a field of biomedical science over two years. By closing specific knowledge gaps, creating new technologies, or building community-wide resources, these awards will dramatically propel progress in key scientific fields with a one-time investment.”

Recovery Funds Advance Alzheimer’s Disease Research
Another field of research benefiting from the ARRA is Alzheimer’s disease research. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) will be awarding grants in promising areas in the field, such as “new and ongoing studies to identify additional risk factor genes associated with Alzheimer’s, improve diagnostic tools, find biomarkers, develop therapies, conduct clinical trials and explore preventive measures.”

Fertility treatments and cancer

November 30, 2009 by  

female_torso_statueWe know that some cancer treatments (e.g. radiation and chemotherapy) pose a serious risk to a patient’s fertility. It seems that this might also be true the other way around, i.e. certain fertility treatments may lead to an increased risk for cancer. Specifically, certain drugs used in fertility treatments can double a woman’s risk for uterine cancer, especially when used in the long term, e.g. approximately for ten years. This is according to a report by Danish researchers, recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The said fertility drugs were identified as follows:

  • follicle-stimulating hormones
  • clomiphene, a treatment for women who have irregular ovulation
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), another treatment for irregular ovulation
  • Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG)

The researchers looked at 54,362 women who underwent fertility treatments between 1985 and 1998 and followed up for 16 years, on average. The results revealed that

  • 51% of study participants who developed uterine cancer used fertility drugs
  • 50% of those who did not develop uterine cancer used fertility drugs.

These risks remained when the investigators further allowed for number of births, use of a single or multiple fertility drugs, causes of infertility, and any history of oral contraceptives.

The increased in cancer risk among fertility patients were not that high but still significant. According to lead author Dr. Allan Jensen of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen:

Uterine cancer risk in fertility patients seemed about two times the usual risk but “the absolute risk of developing uterine cancer is still not very high” (Source: Reuters).

It is not clear how the risk is in women with a genetic disposition for uterine cancer.

The authors emphasize that the risks are only associated with specific drug treatments and the length of use. They further declare that

“any unfavorable effects from fertility drugs need to be balanced against the physical and psychological benefits of pregnancies that may only be possible with the use of fertility drugs.”

Couples who long for biological children but can’t have them naturally may feel that it is worth taking the risk to fulfil their wish. I certainly would feel the same way. What about you?

Respecting Your Limits When Caring for Aging Parents

November 30, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Wise, practical, and compassionate advice on how to care for our aging parents without burning-out or ruining our own lives.PMore and more middle aged adults are caring for their sick or failing elderly parents while juggling the demands of their everyday lives. Feelings of guilt, anger and resentment can rise to the boiling point if we stretch ourselves too thin by taking care of our parents at the expense of our own needs.PThis thoughtful and practical book offers down-to-earth suggestions for working through the difficult issues inherent when caring for aging parents. With candor and compassion, the author shows how to recognize unrealistic expectations, accept the limitations of what we can do for our parents, and put first-things-first by keeping the primary focus on our family, children, and work. She stresses the need for assertive and honest communication and offers helpful strategies for maintaining appropriate boundaries with needy parents.PThe book also includes suggestions for handling such common problems as loyalty conflicts, encouraging reluctant siblings to share in the caretaking responsibilities, and dealing with the pain that accompanies a decision to place a parent in a nursing home. In addition, this exceptionally informative book is filled with inspirational personal stories of how others have struggled with caring for their aging parents.

Real Mexican Food for People with Diabetes

November 29, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

bDoris Cross/bwas diagnosed with diabetes in 1996. More than 200,000 of her popular cookbooks are in print, includingiFat Free and Ultra Lowfat Recipes, Fat Free 2,/iandiDoris’ Fat-Free Homestyle Cooking./ibFinally! Food with Southwest Flair for Diabetics—and Their Families!br/bDear Friends,brAfter being diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, I decided to follow up my bestselling bookiFat Free and Ultra Lowfat Recipes/iby writing a cookbook of tasty dishes for diabetics. There was such a terrific response from folks around the country toiReal Food for People with Diabetes/ithat I decided it was time we had our own cookbook of America’s favorite ethnic food, Mexican and Southwestern cooking. As a diabetic, I still want all the old favorites and comfort foods I grew up with instead of the boring and bland choices normally available. And when it comes to Mexican food, I love the spicy flavors and zest of the real thing. So, as I’ve done before, I developed recipes for authentic-tasting dishes that are lowfat and low-calorie—deliciousiand/ihealthful.brNow, you too can savor enchiladas, tamales, and burritos filled with cheese, sour cream, refried beans, and chunky salsa and still maintain a safe, healthy, diabetic diet. Each quick, hassle-free recipe includes a nutritional breakdown and lists the diabetic exchanges to take the work out of cooking for a diabetic lifestyle.brTo your good health and enjoyment,briDoris/ibrWith this collection of more than 150 enticing soups, salads, side dishes, entrées, and desserts you will find it easy to limit fat without sacrificing flavor. Enjoy “real Mexican foods” such as:brFiesta Tortilla Corn Chowder · Chicken Taco Salad · Cheesy Nachos · Green Chili Quesadillas · Meaty Zesty Chili · Southwest Grilled Steaks · Veggie Fajitas · Blackened Chicken Enchiladas · Skillet Southwest Potatoes · Jalapeño Corn Bread wi@Vvffffg ¾Û€

Coping and Living With Allergies: A Complete Guide to Help Allergy Pat

November 28, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Coping and Living With Allergies: A Complete Guide to Help Allergy Pat

Landice L870 Home Pro Sports Trainer Treadmill

November 27, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

function landiceform(){ var url = ‘’+escape(document.title)+’&oprice=’+sprice+’&sku=’+SKU; popper(url,800,600,1); } Fill out this form or call 800-383-2008 to get our BEST PRICE on Landice Treadmills! With your first step onto a Landice treadmill you become part of a unique workout experience — one that delivers a health-club quality workout in the privacy of your own home. This is the philosophy that underlies the design of the L Series treadmills. Built to full institutional standards, these treadmills offer the latest in engineering technology combined with old-fashioned American craftsmanship. Soft styling enables these treadmills to blend into any environment, but don’t be fooled by their refined looks and whisper-quiet operation. Underneath the hood is the raw power of a 4 horsepower continuous-duty drive motor. Landice has manufactured treadmills for over 40 years. We have placed over 100,000 units in the harshest commercial environments. Because we use the same time-tested commercial grade components in all our treadmills, only Landice can offer a residential bumper-to-bumper Assignable Lifetime Warranty. The Pro Sports Trainer Console features the same two-color, hi-definition displays as the Cardio Trainer but without the heart-rate control programs and display. Wireless chest-strap, heart-rate monitoring is included. AccuTrack contact monitoring is optional. The Pro Sports Trainer Console Features: Standard wireless-chest-strap heart-rate monitoring system Optional Accutrack contact heart-rate monitoring system Numeric keypad with Quick-Speed and Quick-Grade controls 5 Built-in programs with variable time and unlimited effort levels 5 User-defined programs L870 Series Highlights: 22″x63″ four-ply treadbelt 3-1/2″ diameter, 22-pound steel rollers 500-pound user weight capacity Reading / Accessory Rack L8 Footprint 32″ x 82″ – Weight 415 lbs. 15% electric grade elevation 0.5 – 12 mph speed range Landice Vision System not included. Residential Factory Warranty: Lifetime: frame, parts, wear 1 Year: service labor Conditions: All home treadmills must be dealer-installed within a 60-mile driving radius of the selling dealer’s nearest retail store. Warranty applies to original owner only. Prepaid postage “Warranty Registration Card” must be mailed by purchaser within 30 days of installation. Commercial Factory Warranty: 5 Years Parts, 1 Year Labor Warranty valid only in the United States and Canada. Ships Common Carrier curbside delivery

Cancer in the headlines, November 27

November 27, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

newspaperNovember is a month for cancer awareness. This month, the following were observed (source: Dana-Farber Institute):

Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
National Bone Marrow Awareness Month

New guidelines: Pap smears can start at 21
New guidelines are popping up almost everyday. The Pap smears guidelines have also been rehauled. This one, however, (unlike the new mammogram guidelines) is well-accepted and has the complete support of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The new guidelines provide for the following changes:

European Commission calls for smoke-free Europe by 2012
The European Commission has called for s Smoke Free Europe by 2012. The press release says that currently, only 10 European countries meet the criteria of having “comprehensive smoke-free laws in place.” Of these, only the UK and Ireland have a complete ban on smoking in enclosed places, including public transport and workplaces. More European countries are expected to follow their example. Among European residents, smoke-free policies are becoming popular. The results of a recent survey show:

  • 84% support smoke-free offices and other indoor workplaces;
  • 77% are in favor of smoke-free restaurants
  • 61% want smoke-free bars and pubs.

World Series Game 3 Dedicated to Cancer Research
Major League Baseball opened its heart by dedicating the October 30 World Series to cancer research. Sponsor MasterCard Worldwide and Major League Baseball made donations that benefited Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a not-for-profit organization that advocates cancer research support. MasterCard donated $1,000 to SU2C for every home run hit in the post season and $1 million if a ball hits the “Hit It Here” sign. According to Laura Ziskin, SU2C spokesperson:

“Collaboration is central to Stand Up To Cancer, whether it’s within the teams of scientists whose work we fund, in the extraordinary partnerships we have among the people and companies that make up the entertainment community, or in our remarkable relationships with MLB and other generous donors. We’re utilizing all these resources to build a movement of people excited about helping researchers who are on the cusp of major breakthroughs, but need additional funding.”

Airfree P1000 Air Purifier Sterilizer

November 26, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Airfree air purifiers provide the world’s safest air purification system while destroying up to 99.99% of airborne microorganisms that pass through it’s exclusive patented Thermodynamic Sterilizing System (TSS). The Airfree P1000 Air Purifier/Sterilizer uses TSS, which is the only proven technology on the market that fully neutralizes and destroys bacteria, viruses, dust mite allergens, mold spores, organic allergens, pet dander, and ozone. The Airfree P1000 air sterilizer operates by drawing air into it’s TSS incineration chamber where microorganisms are incinerated and poisonous gases such as ozone are destroyed. This process is silent and has no noticeable effect on room temperature. When Airfree approached us at Better Health Innovations, we became convinced of their superior technology after reviewing their comprehensive independent test data. Airfree publishes complete test data, while all other air purifier manufacturer’s we have come across provide only quotes from testing. You can download the actual test data here: Airfree Air Purifier Test Data Features of the Airfree P1000 Air Purifier include: Effectiveness: Airfree has been tested in both lab and real-world environments and proven to destroy 99.99% of microorganisms that pass through it. Silent Operation: No sound is emitted from the unit. Fast: Within 15 minutes, the Airfree air purifier is reducing microorganisms. Inexpensive Operation: The Airfree P1000 air sterilizer consumes less electricity than a 50W light bulb. Also, this unit does no have any filters or UV lamps to replace. Simple operation: There is no maintenance required, and the unit requires only an electric outlet to operate. Safe: CE and TUV seals of approval. Ozone & Ion free: Airfree air purifiers use their patented Thermodynamic Sterilizing System and do not generate any Ozone. In fact, independent testing indicates that the Airfree actually reduces ozone by over 25%.

How to choose a fertility clinic

November 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, INFERTILITY

gametesFor many who are suffering from infertility, the only hope to fulfill their wish for children is through a fertility clinic. How does one choose a fertility clinic? It can vary from country to country depending on the regulations and the healthcare system.

WebMD provides questions that people should ask when searching for a fertility clinic in the US.

Staff and staff turnover

High staff turnover may be an indication of poor management and poor management leads to errors.

Question:How long has the fertility clinic’s medical director been there? How long have the doctors and technicians been there?

Services and procedures

Know what procedures you want or need, not only in terms of in vitro fertilization (IVF) but other services such as genetic diagnostics or donor services.

Question: Which procedures do you do, and how often?

Age limit

Most countries have age a maximum age limit for maternal age for ethical reasons. Some countries, however, do not and leave the age limit at the discretion of the clinic. Find out about a clinic’s age limit based on your age or your ethical convictions.

Question: Do you have age limits for treatment?

Patient vs doctor control

Who decides how many eggs are implanted? Many fertility clinics prefer to implant multiple embryos to increase success rates. This practice, however, increases the chances of multiple births which might not be desirable to the couple but also dangerous for the mother and the babies. The patients should retain some degree of control over the procedure.

Question: When you do an advanced procedure that involves fertilizing the eggs outside the woman and then planting them inside her, who decides how many eggs go back in — the doctor or patient?

Case load

The more patients are treated, the more overworked  are the staff, the less personalized the service is. Crowding and overloaded staff can also lead to errors

Question: How many cycles per year do you do?


For some, money doesn’t play a role. For some it does. However, everybody wants to know whether they are getting their money’s worth. Experts also warn of “clinics that offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t get pregnant — the doctor may have a financial incentive to treat you more aggressively than you want.”

Question: What does treatment cost?

In the UK, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has developed a tool for UK residents on how to find the fertility clinic (at least those that are HFEA accredited) that may benefit them the most. The search results are based on the following:

  • Location and distance from place of residence
  • Treatments required and offered, including the option for preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), as well as donor and storage services
  • Financial coverage of the treatment, be it privately funded or covered by the National Health Services (NHS), or both.

In addition, there is a database that contains a lot of information about each clinic, including statistics on performance and success rates.

Photo credit: sotck.xchng

Are you realistic about your weight?

November 26, 2009 by  
Filed under OBESITY

We always hear how young girls falsely  perceive their body weight as “too fat”, usually leading to higher risk of eating disorders and malnoursihment. On the other end of the scale, figuratively and literary, there are many overweight people who thinks their body weight is “OK”, thus having no motivation to lose weight and change lifestyles.

The Dallas Heart Study studied 5,893 people. Of these, more than a third are obese, and of this third, 8% misperceive their body size, resulting in the following misconceptions:

  • They do not need to lose weight
  • They can afford to gain weight.
  • They are less likely to do physical exercise.
  • They are less likely to consult a physician.
  • They believe they were healthier than others their age.
  • They are not aware they had risk factors for certain diseases.

According to lead author Dr. Tiffany Powell, a cardiology fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“Almost one in 10 obese individuals are satisfied with their body size and didn’t perceive that they need to lose weight. That is a sizeable percentage who don’t understand they are overweight and believe they are healthy.”

  • In fact, these overweight people who perceived their body size as ideal had some health issues that they were not fully aware of. Some of these are:
  • 35% had high blood pressure
  • 15% had high cholesterol
  • 14% had diabetes
  • 27% were current smokers

In a similar way, studies have shown that many parents may not be capable of perceiving their children’s weight status. Many would dismiss children’s excess weight as the normal “baby fat” that comes with childhood.

 I don’t really believe in obsessively watching every pound gained and every calorie taken in. I am also not in favor on putting too much emphasis on weight and body size. But we should be realistic as to how we perceive our body size, not for appearances but for the sake of our health.

Dr. Powell continues:

“This is an important population that we aren’t seeing or targeting. Understanding and countering this misconception may be a novel and perhaps vitally important target for obesity prevention and treatment. Because many of these individuals believe they are healthier than they really are, they do not go to the doctor and thus community interventions will be needed…The onus falls on us as physicians to determine who this population is and how to talk with them.”

Community in the Digital Age: Philosophy and Practice

November 25, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Community in the Digital Age features the latest, most challenging work in an important and fast-changing field, providing a forum for some of the leading North American social scientists and philosophers concerned with the social and political implications of this new technology. Their provocative arguments touch on all sides of the debate surrounding the Internet, community, and democracy.

The mammogram debate: the two sides

November 25, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER, Featured

Mammogram guidelines questioned

breastMammogram, the gold standard for breast cancer, is currently questioned just like what happened to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) s for prostate cancer. This was brought about by inconclusive research evidence that screening starting at 40 and beyond increases survival rates.

Last week, a heated debate started when the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued new federal guidelines on mammography which recommends that the starting age for mammograms to be raised to 50.

The previous US guidelines, with full backing from the American Cancer Society recommend that women should have the mammograms every 2 years starting at age 40. The recommendations applied to women with no family history of breast cancer and are therefore not considered to be high-risk. Those who have high risk profiles still need to continue regular screening tests.

The pros

The reasons for these new recommendations are quite similar in some ways to the reasons why many medical professionals (including the American Cancer Society) do not support routine prostate cancer screening with the PSA tests. Some of these reasons are:

  • Too many false positives that result in unnecessary but invasive biopsy
  • Overdiagnosis and overtreatment of a disease that is not necessarily fatal and may go away by itself.
  • Too many false alarms that lead into mental pressure, unnecessary fears and worries. Why worry 10 years earlier?
  • Mammograms present health risks, such as exposure to radiation
  • Upgrade to international standards.
  • Unnecessary healthcare costs

Indeed some of these points sound familiar in connection with the PSA test in 2008 and it was the same task force USPSTF that recommended the PSA 2008 guidelines. However, those guidelines were widely accepted, even embraced by the health community.

Regarding international standards, guidelines vary from country to country. Many developed countries, including the UK, Canada, set the age limit at age 50. I had my first mammogram 4 years ago in Germany. During my last gynecological check up here in Switzerland, I asked my doctor whether it’s time for the next one. But you are not yet 50, she told me.

Health care cost is another sore issue. Countries with universal health care system tend to cut down on screening methods that do not show conclusive benefits in order to allocate limited resources for what is necessary without compromising health care quality. Americans may dismiss this as “rationing” but it does have the upside of giving access to affordable health care to everybody.

The fact remains that there is no significant differences in breast cancer mortality between countries who start screening at 40 and those who start 10 years later.

The contras

Many health experts however, do not agree with the new guidelines

  • For one thing, women without family history of breast cancer can have the disease before the age 40. For these women, forewarned is forearmed. They’d rather take unnecessary anxiety than miss the chance of an early diagnosis and therefore early treatment.
  • Although the recommendations are not binding, there is danger that insurance companies might not cover mammogram expenses before the age of 50.

Some high profile health experts explicitly expressed their disagreement with the new guidelines.

American Cancer Society (ACS)

According to Dr. Otis W. Brawley Chief Medical Officer of ACS

The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual screening using mammography and clinical breast examination for all women beginning at age 40. Our experts make this recommendation having reviewed virtually all the same data reviewed by the USPSTF, but also additional data that the USPSTF did not consider. When recommendations are based on judgments about the balance of risks and benefits, reasonable experts can look at the same data and reach different conclusions.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in an interview advises women to “keep doing what they have been doing” with regards to breast cancer screening.

“The task force has presented some new evidence for consideration but our policies remain unchanged.Indeed, I would be very surprised if any private insurance company changed its mammography coverage decisions as a result of this action. ..My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important lifesaving tool in the fight against breast cancer and they still are today. Keep doing what you have been doing for years — talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions and make the decision that is right for you.”

Former head of the National Institute for Health Dr. Bernadine Healy

Ex-NIH director Dr. Bernadine Healy’s take is to ignore the new guidelines, which he believes, could save money but not lives.

Other resources:

Mammogram advice accurate but not ‘right’

Five Reasons to Welcome the New Mammogram Guidelines

Smoking cessation therapies: which one works best?

November 25, 2009 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

Nicotine addiction is one of the most difficult habits to break. That is why researchers are always busy finding ways and means to help people stop smoking. Over the years, many smoking cessation therapies have been developed, including anti-smoking patches, nicotine gums, and nicotine lozenges.

A recent study reports that a combination of two of these therapies may be the best way to break the smoking habit. The study looked at 1504 adults who smoked about 10 or more cigarettes a day during the past 6 months. The study participants were randomly assigned to one of the 6 different smoking cessation therapies:

All the treatments used in the study except bupropion are available over-the-counter.

In addition, all participants underwent counselling, consisting of 6 individual sessions lasting 10 to 20 minutes. The first 2 sessions were scheduled before cessation.

The results showed that among the 6 treatments, the combination of patch and lozenge was the most effective in helping patients quit smoking, with a 40% quit rate in 6 months. So why is this combi therapy more effective than others? The authors believe it has something to do with the additive effect of the two interventions.

According to researcher Dr. Megan E. Piper, assistant professor, at the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison

“When you put a patch on, it’s steadily putting nicotine into your blood, and so it’s generally taking the edge off some of your withdrawal all the time,” said Dr. Piper. “But some people have times when they always have a cigarette — after a meal or when stressed at work, for example. These people can use the lozenge instead of going for a cigarette in those moments of intense craving.”

But what about counselling? It helps a lot, too, and plays an important role not only in cessation but in preventing relapse.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Solutions for the Treatment-Resistant Addicted Client: Therapeutic Tec

November 24, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Solutions for the Treatment-Resistant Addicted Client: Therapeutic Tec

Lead exposure and heart health

November 24, 2009 by  

We are constantly exposed to the environmental pollutant lead. What are the health effects of this  exposure?

There have been studies that linked concentrations of lead in the blood to cardiovascular disease but supporting evidence has been weak. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Michigan School of Public Health believe they may have found a better indicator of cumulative lead exposure, an indicator that can be linked to number of diseases including cardiovascular disease. The researchers look at levels of lead in the bone.

Where does the lead come from?

Lead is everywhere. In the food we eat, in the things we use daily. In the air we breathe. Air pollution has been the main source of lead exposure, mainly from emissions from cars using leaded fuel. Since the introduction of lead-free gasoline and the banning of leaded fuel in many countries (including the US in the 1990s), the lead levels in the air have significantly decreased. However, lead accumulates in the body especially in the bone and remains there for years. Thus, health problems due to lead exposure are not brought about by acute but rather by chronic toxicity. People in US who were born before the 1990s have been exposed more to lead than the younger generation and are still carrying the pollution burden in their body.

The researchers looked at the levels of lead in the blood and bone of 868 male study participants. The results showed that

  • High levels of lead accumulated in the bone are associated with high risk of mortality from all causes, especially cardiovascular disease.
  • Men with the highest lead levels are 2.5 more likely to die from any disease than those with the lowest levels.
  • Men with the highest lead levels are 6 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than their peers with the lowest levels.

This increased risk for death is not dependent on socioeconomic factors such as age, smoking, education, race, alcohol, physical activity, or underlying conditions such as obesity, high density lipoprotein or total cholesterol levels, hypertension or diabetes.

According to lead author Dr. Marc Weisskopf,

“The findings with bone lead are dramatic. It is the first time we have had a biomarker of cumulative exposure to lead and the strong findings suggest that, even in an era when current exposures are low, past exposures to lead represent an important predictor of cardiovascular death, with important public health implications worldwide.”

So what does lead do? Lead might badly affect our health due to oxidative stress, a mechanism closely linked to cardiovascular disease. Lead exposure has also been linked to stiffening of the arteries and hypertension.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Depression: your happiness may depend on your diet

November 24, 2009 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

Is there such a thing as brain food? Does our happiness depend on the food we eat?

We are familiar with the saying „You are what you eat.“ We know that a nutritious diet is the key to good physical health. But what about mental health? A study published in the recent issue of British Journal of Psychiatry indicates that diet also play a role in mental health, specifically depression.

Dietary patterns

Using again data from the good old Whitehall study which consisted of London-based civil servants aged 35 to 55, the researchers looked at the dietary patterns of 3486 people. The participants were asked to fill in the Food Frequency Questionnaire which was customized to include commonly consumed British foods. A list of 127 foods was included in the questionnaire and the participants were asked how often they consume these foods per day. In addition, the participants were also asked to fill in a questionnaire that evaluates depressive symptoms.

From the data, two dietary patterns emerged, namely:

  • The whole food pattern includes lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, and fish
  • The processed food pattern includes  lots of sugary food, fried food, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and refined grain products. This pattern is also the one most similar to the so-called Western diet.

After a 5-year follow up period, the study results showed that participants who went for the processed food patterns had a higher tendency to develop depression. Even after correcting for “potential confounding factors such as age, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, total energy intake, other health behaviors, and other health status”, the study results remain the same.

According to the lead study author Dr. Tasnime N. Akbaraly:

“The study can be an argument to help convince patients who have unhealthy eating behaviors that consuming a healthy diet not only controls excess weight but also may lower the risk of depression.”

So what’s in the food that affects the brain?

This is supposedly the first study to investigate the link between diet and depression. The authors propose several mechanisms to explain this link.

  • Sugar consumption and insulin resistant processes have been linked to depression.
  • Processed food or Western diet is associated with cardiovascular disorders, also linked to depression.
  • Oxidative stress processes have also been associated with depression. Fresh fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that counteract oxidative stress.
  • Fresh vegetables contain lots of folate, a mineral that may affect levels of neurotransmitters implicated in depression.
  • Fish contains lots of polyunsaturated fatty acids that might also reduce depression.

Dr. Akbaraly continues:

“In my opinion, the protective effect of diet on depression comes from a cumulative and synergistic effect of different nutrients from different sources of foods, rather than the effect of one isolated nutrient. If that’s the case, it’s important to assess the impact of the overall diet on health outcome, as people don’t eat isolated nutrients.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis

November 23, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

bBrad Hamler/bis a fitness professional with more than twenty years of experience in the field. Certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, and the American Academy of Health and Fitness Professionals, he spent the last several years as a postrehabilitation specialist working extensively with MS patients.A specially-designed, easy-to-follow program to feel better and improve your quality of life.brbrMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a devastating disease that damages the central nervous system. It affects nearly 400,000 Americans with daily fatigue, loss of coordination and balance, and muscle spasms or spasticity–and it has no cure. Now, research shows that MS symptoms can be reduced through exercise, making living with MS a little easier.iExercises for Multiple Sclerosis/itells you how to improve your daily symptoms, especially fatigue and mobility.brbrWritten by a licensed postrehabilitation specialist who has worked extensively with MS patients,iExercises for Multiple Sclerosis/iprovides a tested program. An essential reference for anyone who suffers from MS, it will show you:br* How daily exercise can help reduce your fatiguebr* How to increase physical strength while decreasing spasticitybr* How to compensate for loss of balance and coordination while walkingbr* Why medical treatments are just not enoughbrbrIf you or someone you know suffers from MS, you need this book. With an easy-to-follow, simple workout designed to adapt to many energy levels,iExercises for Multiple Sclerosis/iwill help MS sufferers to achieve a healthier, happier, more productive life.bTable of Contentsbr/bbrForeword by Ben W. Thrower, M.D.brbrIntroduction: Maintenance Is ProgressbrbrPart I: About Multiple SclerosisbrbrChapter 1: What Is Multiple Sclerosis?brbrChapter 2: Diagnosing Multiple SclerosisbrbrChapter 3: Treatment of Multiple SclerosisbrbrCh@záG® ¾Û€

Children with asthma more susceptible to H1N1 flu

November 23, 2009 by  
Filed under ASTHMA

Children have been shown to be highly vulnerable when it comes to catching the H1N1 flu. Furthermore, children with asthma seem to be more likely to develop serious symptoms and complications. This is according to a study conducted by researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The researchers looked at the charts of 58 pediatric H1N1 patients admitted to the said hospital between May and July of this year and compared them with 200 other pediatric patients who were admitted due to the seasonal flu from 2004 and 2008. The study showed that

  • Children admitted for H1N1 flu tended to be older (5 years or older) than those admitted for seasonal flu.
  • 84% of H1N1 pediatric patients had fever and cough; 37% had gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea and vomiting
  • 22% of children who had the H1N1 flu had asthma; only 6% of those who had the seasonal had asthma.
  • Almost 50% of pediatric patients admitted to the ICU due to H1N1 flu had asthma.
  • In larger samples, 21 to 30% of hospitalizes H1N1 cases are linked to asthma.

According to researcher Dr. Upton Allen

“The most striking finding in our study was the high prevalence of asthma among children admitted with pandemic H1N1 influenza compared with those admitted in previous influenza seasons. Asthma has been identified as a significant risk factor for admission with pandemic H1N1 influenza, present in 21%-30% in the larger samples.”

This finding indicates that asthma is a major risk factor for severe H1N1 symptoms especially in children, even among those with mild asthma. The authors recommend that children with asthma be considered as high risk individuals and should be vaccinated for H1N1 and considered fro antiviral therapy.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 138 deaths among children have been attributed to the H1N1 influenza virus infections in US from August 30 to November 14, 2009. This number could be broken down into the following age groups:

Epidemiology experts believe that the best way to control the H1N1 flu is to start vaccinating children. According to Dr. David Kimberlin of the University of Alabama at Birmingham

“Children are the highest-risk group for spreading the virus among themselves, and as a consequence, spreading it around their community… Like a bull’s-eye, the middle of the target is what you vaccinate so you don’t see infections in the concentric rings around the center. The center of the protection bull’s-eye should be children.”

COPD Awareness Check

November 23, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER, Featured

lungsNovember is COPD Awareness Month. In addition, World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day was observed last November 18.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Doesn’t ring a bell? What about “chronic bronchitis” or “smoker’s cough”?

About 210 million people worldwide suffer from COPD. It is a leading cause of death worldwide and is expected to rank as the 3rd leading mortality cause by 20230. COPD is not a cancer per se but it increases the risk for lung cancer as well as other chronic diseases.


Let’s take a look at what the experts say about COPD. According to the World health Organization (WHO):

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by chronic obstruction of lung airflow that interferes with normal breathing and is not fully reversible. The more familiar terms ‘chronic bronchitis’ and ‘emphysema’ are no longer used, but are now included within the COPD diagnosis. COPD is not simply a “smoker’s cough” but an under-diagnosed, life-threatening lung disease.

According the Mayo Clinic staff:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it increasingly difficult for you to breathe. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two main conditions that make up COPD, but COPD can also refer to damage caused by chronic asthmatic bronchitis. In all cases, damage to your airways eventually interferes with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your lungs.


Most cases of COPD are caused by long-term smoking. It can also be caused by long-term exposure to secondhand smoke or environmental pollutants such as toxic fumes, dust, and chemicals. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also worsen COPD. A rare genetic disorder that results in low levels of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin can also cause COPD.

Signs and symptoms

Emphysema symptoms will include

Chronic bronchitis symptoms are

  • A chronic cough that produces excessive amounts of sputum, usually yellowish in color
  • Frequent respiratory infection
  • Tendency to clear throat in the mornings
  • Breathlessness or shortness of breath
  • Asthma or bronchospasm in case of chronic asthmatic bronchitis


Don’t start smoking. If you are a smoker, quit as soon as possible. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and other environmental pollutants.


COPD can lead to the following conditions:

  • Respiratory infections, including pneumonia
  • Lung cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Heart problems
  • Depression

Resources for COPD

The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD)

WHO COPD Fact Sheet

US COPD Coalition

Defeating Cancer!: The Biological Effect of Deuterium Depletion

November 22, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Defeating Cancer!: The Biological Effect of Deuterium Depletion

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.