September 30, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE


Bluechip Deluxe Gel Cushion, 17 X 17, 1 ea

September 30, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

The benefits of gel and foam are well documented. A high-density foam shell surrounds a uniquely styled gel bladder to form a comfortable wheelchair cushion that is unsurpassed in pressure redistribution. Our segmented gel bladder contains an aqueous, highly viscous gel which provides for proper immersion and envelopment around the bony prominences. Gel-Pro® wheelchair cushions help to stabilize and reduce the “rocking” motion found in other types of gel cushions. The Gel-Pro® line of cushions are covered in a traditional waterproof vinyl and low-shear nylon material, which helps reduce heat and moisture build-up. Both materials are fluid and stain resistant, anti-microbial and meet California Technical Bulletin #117 for fire retardancy.

World Heart Day 2010

September 30, 2010 by  

September 26 was World Heart Day. This year’s observance spearheaded by World Heart Federation focuses on Workplace Wellness: Take responsibility for your own heart health, with the slogan “I work with Heart.” The Workplace Wellness program outlines 10 simple steps on how we can live a healthy lifestyle and make our workplace a healthy place:

1. Healthy food intake – Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and avoid saturated fat. Beware of processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt.

2. Get active & take heart – Even 30 minutes of activity can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes and your work will benefit too.

3. Say no to tobacco – Your risk of coronary heart disease will be halved within a year and will return to a normal level over time.

4. Maintain a healthy weight – Weight loss, especially together with lowered salt intake, leads to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major factor for approximately half of all heart disease and stroke.

5. Know your numbers – Visit a healthcare professional who can measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, together with waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index (BMI). Once you know your overall risk, you can develop a specific plan of action to improve your heart health.

6. Limit your alcohol intake – Restrict the amount of alcoholic drinks that you consume. Excessive alcohol intake can cause your blood pressure to rise and your weight to increase.

7. Insist on a smoke-free environment. Demand a tobacco ban – ensure your workplace is 100% smoke-free. Support the adoption of smoking – cessation services encourage your employer to provide help to those wanting to quit tobacco

8. Bring exercise to the workplace – Include physical activity in your working schedule – cycle to work if this is possible, take the stairs, exercise or go for a walk during your lunch breaks, and encourage others to do so too. Have regular breaks during the day – try stretching or exercising for 5 minutes twice a day.

9. Choose healthy food options- Ask for healthy food at your work canteen, or find nearby cafes or restaurants that serve healthy meals

10. Encourage stress-free moments -whilst stress has not been shown to be a direct risk factor for heart disease and stroke, it is related to smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating, which are risk factors for heart disease. Take time for lunch away from your workplace to get some fresh air.

The aging drug users and their health problems

September 30, 2010 by  

Drug abuse is usually associated with the young. However, these youths eventually grow older and if they don’t kick their bad habits by middle age, then they are in big trouble.

A recent study by UK researchers report on a new challenge facing the health care and social systems of many countries: the aging drug users. The researchers studied drugs users aged 49 to 61 who in contact with voluntary sector drug treatment services. Their findings how that these people as especially vulnerable because:

  • Their cases are under-researched and underserved.
  • They have more than the usual chronic illnesses in this age group basically because they suffer from the effects of drug abuse exacerbated by age-related disorders.

According to study author Brenda Roe, Professor of Health Research at Edge Hill University, UK:

“This exploratory study, together with our wider research, suggest that older people who continue to use problematic or illegal drugs are emerging as an important, but relatively under-researched, international population. They are a vulnerable group, as their continued drug use, addiction and life experiences result in impaired health, chronic conditions, particular health needs and poorer quality of life. Despite this, services for older drug addicts are not widely available or accessed in the UK.”

Everybody grows older, including the problem children of yesteryears. The health care system is already overburdened by an aging population who are relatively healthy. How much more can it take in order to take care of the aging drug abuser? Recent statistics from the US show that the number of drug users and alcoholics above 50 is increasing. The reported figure of 1.7 million in 2000 is expected to increase to 4.4 million by 2020. In the meantime, the 65 plus drug users are also increasing.

The health problems most commonly identified among aging drug users are:

  • deep vein thrombosis
  • injection site ulcers
  • stroke
  • respiratory problems
  • pneumonia
  • diabetes
  • hepatitis
  • liver cirrhosis
  • malnutrition
  • STDs
  • weight disorders (loss and obesity)
  • accidental injuries
  • drug overdoses
  • mental health problems such as memory loss, paranoia and mood swings

Professor Roe continues:

“Our population is aging and the people who started using drugs in the sixties are now reaching retirement age. It is clear that further research is needed to enable health and social care professionals to develop appropriate services for this increasingly vulnerable group. We also feel that older drug users could play a key role in educating younger people about the dangers of drug use.”

Eat, sleep and walk to prevent cancer

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

There is no silver bullet to stop cancer but there are some ways of lowering our cancer risk. And experts believe the formula for prevention is eat, sleep, and walk the right way. How much easier can it get?


When it comes to disease prevention, what goes into our mouths is tops. There is no magic recipe for a cancer-free life. There is, however, a big difference between a health and an unhealthy diet. Lots of fruit and vegetables, less fat, sugar and calories work not only against cancer but against other diseases as well. There are, however, certain food stuffs that contain more anti-cancer compounds than others. Check out the the cancer killers in your kitchen.


Nobody ever gets bad results from a good night’s sleep. Aside from giving your body and brain a much needed break, research shows that enough sleep benefits hormone balance, immune function and weight. And yes – it also lowers cancer risk. According to James McClain of the National Cancer Institute who conducted a study based on 10 years of data of about 6,000 women:

“Among the most active women in our study – these younger, more active women – if they slept more than 7 hours, they were protected relative to those that slept less than 7 hours.”


What would you say to the headline ‘Brisk walking’ could prevent 10,000 cancers a year?

According to health experts at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking could actually prevent about 5,500 cases of breast cancer and 4,600 cases of bowel cancer. That makes a total of 10,000 cases of prevented cancer each year. And you could be one of those 10,000 cases!

WCRF further explains that physical activity does not necessarily mean sweating in a gym or fitness center.

Other than walking, performing routine household chores also count as physical activity. These tasks include gardening, vacuuming the house or cycling to the supermarket.

According to Dr Rachel Thompson, deputy head of science for WCRF:

“There is now very strong evidence that being physically active is important for cancer prevention. Even relatively modest increases in activity levels could prevent thousands of cancer cases in the UK every year.

These figures also show you do not have to go to the gym every day to benefit. You can reduce your cancer risk just by making small changes and this is highlighted by the fact that so many cancer cases could be prevented through something as simple as brisk walking.

By taking up walking as a hobby or even walking to the shops instead of taking the bus or car, people can make a real difference to their health.”

Eat, sleep and walk right and you’ll lower your risk for cancer. It sounds so easy. But for many people, it means a whole change of lifestyle.

Medical IDs that are glam and hi-tech

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Bracelets, necklaces and anklets are accessories to some, a necessity to others. I am referring to medical IDs that people with certain conditions have to wear all the time. When these IDs were introduced back in the 50s or 60s, they were bulky and ugly, making the wearer stand out and feel cumbersome. A lot of things have changes since then and nowadays medical bracelets come in all forms and sizes – and they can be glamorous. After all, if Lindsay Lohan can wear a designer-made alcohol anklet, why can’t a diabetic make a fashion statement?

Why wear a medical ID?

It is advisable that people with diabetes, emphysema, heart disease, allergies, asthma, autism, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, or hearing, sight or mental impairments wear some form of medical ID. In case of emergency, when the patient collapses and becomes unresponsive, these IDs can provide info to emergency medical personnel. Connie Meyer, president of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians:

“I think if you have a chronic medical problem that might make you unresponsive, then it’s a good idea to have something… it speeds things up. If we see a tag that says diabetic, then we’ll go straight to checking the blood sugar as our first assessment. But we still do other assessments.”

Glam medical IDs

Nowadays, medical IDs look more like jewelry. They can be in silver, gold, titanium, decorated with semi-precious stones, customized, and pre-engraved depending on the wearer’s taste and whim. Patients can even design their own jewelry medical ID online. These glam IDs make the wearer feel good but present some problems for medical personnel. In cases of emergency, it is not easy to tell which is jewelry and which is medical ID in unresponsive patients.

“We have to know to look for those kinds of things. They’ve tried to make them more attractive because that’s one of the reasons women, in particular, don’t wear them, because of the style.”

One of the leading makers of fashional medical IDs is American Medical ID.

What do medical IDs say?

Medical IDs are meant to give the most relevant info about medical conditions but the space on these IDs is limited. Thus, standardized abbreviations have been developed that are easily understandable to medical personnel. Some of these are:

“Invisible” medical IDs is a web-based registry that created the iBracelet, an “invisible” medical ID, which is basically a PIN. Your PIN can be texted to an iB central number or entered into an iB registry by an authorized medical personnel and he or she receives a relevant info of medical records, including medical conditions, medications, and next-of-kin. The PIN can be stored in your phone under “in case of emergency” (ICE), on your key holder, etc. Your PIN is basically the key to open your electronic medical records.

Photo credit:

Continuous Chest Compression CPR Video: Let’s learn how to do it

September 28, 2010 by  

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR for short is a life-saving procedure that anybody can learn, even kids as young as 12. Yet, many people hesitate to do this during cases of emergency for many different reasons. One of the main barriers to CPR is the practice of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, which for cultural and hygienic reasons, not many people are willing to do. The new Continuous Chest Compression hands-only CPR aims to overcome this barrier. It is also easier to use and more effective that traditional CPR.

According to the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona:

Learn Sarver Heart Center’s Continuous Chest Compression CPR

Every three days, more Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest than the number who died in the 9-11 attacks. You can lessen this recurring loss by learning Continuous Chest Compression CPR, a hands-only CPR method that doubles a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest. It’s easy and does not require mouth-to-mouth contact, making it more likely bystanders will try to help, and it was developed at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

To make it easier for people to learn this CPR method, the university developed a video than can instruct people.

“This video is worth sharing,” said Gordon A. Ewy, MD, director of the UA Sarver Heart Center and one of the research pioneers who developed this method.

Take note that this CPR technique is not suitable for infants and people who are drowning.

Pollen and Mold Counts

September 28, 2010 by  

Spores of molds and pollens of plants are the most common airborne allergens that can cause hay fever, asthma, and other allergic reactions. Depending on where you live and the time of the year and the weather conditions, the type and number of pollens and molds in the air we breathe vary. There is where pollen and mold counts come in handy.

Only certified agencies can count pollen and mold levels in the air. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), in cooperation with the National Allergy Board (NAB) provides official figures on pollen and mold counts. Their data is based on data collected by more than 85 counting stations all over the US.

How does pollen and mold counting work?

The Saint Louis County Health Services tells us the following:

Counters use air sampling equipment to capture airborne pollen and mold. Recently, the Environmental Health Laboratories switched from using a rotorod impaction device to using a Burkard slit-type volumetric spore trap. The rotorod sampled only at specific time intervals while the Burkard is able to continuously sample over a 24 hour period. The device is mounted on the roof of a centrally located County building away from any obstructions. It uses suction to pull air through a slit-type opening. Inside the slit is a greased, flat surface (a collection tape) that advances in increments over time. This greased surface collects any particles that are sucked in with the air. How are pollen and mold counted? The collection tape is removed from the sampling device and brought to the laboratory. Here it is stained and prepared for analysis. The sample can then be magnified 400 times to count the pollen grains. For some mold spores, the sample must be magnified 1000 times to be seen and counted. Using the exposure time, the volume of air sampled, and the number of pollen grains or mold spores counted, calculations can be made to determine the number of particles per cubic meter of air sampled. This is the number reported by the laboratory.

How can you use these counts in managing your allergies?

The AAAI has come up with recommended definitions of low, moderate, high and very high concentration levels of molds and pollens. These levels represent outdoor exposures only. Based on these levels, comparison between different areas and regions can be done. These counts are also useful in the management and treatment of allergies due to airborne allergens.

Other resources on airborne allergens:

Nation Under the Influence, A: America’s Addiction to Alcohol

September 28, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

4L-7 , Peterson, J. Vincent., A Nation Under the Influence: America’s Addiction to Alcohol /* Provides the reader with a an up-to-date view of alcohol abuse in America. Coverage includes a historical perspective, and the nature of alcohol use and abuse. Dependence, treatment, and alcohol use and health issues are covered. Alcohol’s impact on different sectors in our society, as well as economic and social issues on the U.S. economy are discussed. Coverage of special populations, marketing and advertising issues, as well as primary and secondary methods of prevention and other solutions, help make this book well-rounded and the most current available on the market today. Issues of underage drinking, the stages of alcohol dependence, the relationship of the ‘family disease’ are also discussed. Relevant internet sites are presented throughout the book, and in a comprehensive appendix. Anyone interested in the issues surrounding alcoholism in our contemporary society. This could include: Educators, counselors, social workers, correctional facilities and the public at large.

Diet vs. drugs in diabetes management

September 27, 2010 by  
Filed under DIABETES

When it comes to the management of type 2 diabetes, the appropriate diet may actually “trump up” medications.

Researchers in New Zealand looked at 94 high-risk diabetes patients which were split into 2 groups. All patients received optimal medical care for diabetes but one group received regular one-to-one dietary advice from a dietician. The advice did not focus on a strict diabetic diet but was customized to the needs of each individual patient based on socio-economic and cultural circumstances.

The study lasted for 6 months and at the end of the study period, patients who received dietary advice showed significant improvements in terms of glycemic control. Some of the patients in this group were even able to reduce their doses of hypoglycemic drugs or insulin.

According to lead author Kirstin Coppell:

“The patients in our study were already under intensive drug treatment to optimise their glycaemic control, which remained unsatisfactory. We found that by also following carefully tailored dietary advice they could significantly improve this control.”

In addition, the group who had dietary advice also experienced reduction in body weight and abdominal fat, with an average weight loss of 2.1 kg and 3 cm waistline reduction.

Over the years, anti-diabetic drugs have been developed to help patients with diabetes maintain their blood sugar levels. But with time, the efficacy of these medications wanes as insulin resistance increases. No matter how intensive the drug therapy maybe, control of blood sugar levels eventually deteriorates.

“Since the widespread introduction of anti-diabetic drugs, the traditional focus on diet and lifestyle in managing diabetes has faded into the background. Our findings suggest that there needs to be a renewed focus on these elements if we want to improve diabetes outcomes.”

The study, aptly called Lifestyle Over and Above Drugs in Diabetes (LOADD), shows that lifestyle changes in terms of modifying eating habits compliment the effect of medications and bring more benefits to the diabetes patient. However, making the step towards this change and sticking to it is not an easy task. It is thus necessary to have the guidance of health professionals such as a dietician as well as a strong support group to sustain this lifestyle.

The benefits of walking to school

September 27, 2010 by  

School has just started in many parts of the western world.

Since my kids joined the Swiss public school system last year, they’ve been walking to school on their own. School is just a 5-minute walk from our home but I know of kids who have to walk for 15 minutes or longer. For those who live beyond the 20-minute walking time, school bus service is usually provided. This is more or less the same all over Switzerland.

Many expats, including me, have difficulty at first in coming to terms with this system. In many countries, the way to school is full of hazards and dangers. Abduction and traffic accidents are just a few of them. We  are appalled that kids are expected to walk to school at age 6 or 7 when they start the 1st grade. But they have been prepared for this. Swiss kids are instructed by a traffic police officer during their kindergarten years on how to walk on and cross the street. Parents are expected to do their share and give instructions as well as set a good example. Schools make it difficult for parents to drop off and pick up kids by providing no parking or drop off zone close by.

But why should kids walk to school? There are several benefits to walking to school that the Swiss system believes, outweighs the risk.

Physical movement. Walking is not exercise but it is nevertheless a physical activity that is much better than simply just sitting in a car. With kids becoming more sedentary and overweight these days, walking is more important than ever in getting them move.

Self-sufficiency. By learning to walk to school by themselves, kids learn to be self-sufficient and be responsible. At an early age, they are trained to stay safe and avoid risks, training which will help them avoid risky behaviour as they grow.

Real life. The way between home and school is the real world where kids learn about life. Sometimes the lessons may be hard. My kids experienced bullying on the way to school. This made them strong.

Getting rid of stress. For some kids, school is full of pressure and stress. A study by researchers at the University at Buffalo in New York report that the walk to and from school actually can take some of school-related stress off. In a test of kids age 10 to 14 years old, those who walked showed relatively less stress during an exam than those who did not. According to researcher James Roemmich:

“These children had smaller increases in perceived stress, heart rate, and systolic blood pressure, compared to children who didn’t do the walk to school.”

Of course walking to school is not possible in many places for reasons of security and distance. I am, however, very grateful to live in a country where walking is possible, even part of the culture. My kids think the same. My suggestion of driving them to school on a rainy day was met with strong opposition.

You are not supposed to do that, Mom.”

Cooking Light Eat Smart Guide: Diabetes

September 25, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Cooking Light Eat Smart Guide: Diabetes

Health care updates, Sept 24: nifty drug innovations

September 24, 2010 by  

Nose drops for brain cancer? Aspirin on a drip? Here some updates on innovations at the drug front.

New drug could help stop the spread of disease during cough: U of A research
Coughing season is almost here as we await the cold months of autumn and winter. And being an airborne disease, it spreads fast. But Canadian researchers at the University of Alberta may have found a way to stop cough transmission in its tracks. They developed a drug that when inhaled, would reduce the droplets that come out of the mouth of the sick person.

According to researcher Malcolm King:

“Our treatment has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of fine virus-laden droplets that result from coughing and therefore reduce the risk for people who come in contact with carriers of the flu.”

Nifty, eh?

Toward the first nose drops to treat brain cancer
Now, here is another nifty drug for a more serious ailment – brain cancer. The drug is not new but the method of delivery is rather novel. Nose drops for brain cancer? The anticancer drug methotrexate used in the treatment of brain tumors is usually administered as injection. The initial testing of the new delivery method showed a lot of promise. But it is not just the convenience of administration that in question here. It seems that the nose drops would actually be more effective than the injection. It is because drugs usually cannot penetrate the brain because of the so-called blood-brain barrier. However, drugs delivered through the nose such as drops or spray seem to be able to overcome this barrier easily. According to the authors:

The strategy to utilize the nose-brain direct transport can be applicable to a new therapeutic system not only for brain tumors but also for other central nervous system disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases.”

High-dose IV aspirin reduces pain for severe headache and migraine
This drug is not new either –more than a hundred years old, in fact. But administered differently, it might just be the answer to your splitting headaches and migraine attacks. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco Headache Center report promising results in a study using high-dose aspirin intravenous against headaches. Study participants report a significant reduction in pain. But why only now? The thing is, aspirin is available mainly as tablets taken orally. However, oral aspirin in high doses is associated with serious side effects of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Aspirin is nontoxic, non-addictive, non-sedating, and IV administration circumvents the side effects. It is also cheap.

Friday cancer news: updates from the breast cancer front

September 24, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Updates from the Stop Milking Cancer Campaign

The Stop Milking Cancer Campaign ends today, 24 September. Thanks to you, our readers and anti-cancer advocates,  Breast Cancer Action (BCA) attained and even surpassed their targets for this campaign.

If you recall the post a couple of weeks back, Stop Milking Cancer Campaign was launched on September 1 to call on rBGH maker Eli Lilly to stop manufacturing this cancer-causing hormone and break the “cancer profit cycle.”

Here is what BCA has to report about the campaign:

  • We’re joined by 10 campaign partners, including Corporate Accountability International, Our Bodies Ourselves, Healthy Child Healthy World, and AllergyKids Foundation.
  • We’ve reached our goal of gathering 6,220 signatures on the petition we’ll be sending to Eli Lilly’s leadership – that’s one for every day rBGH has been on the market.
  • BCA plans to plaster our message to Eli Lilly in a very public way – on a billboard in Indianapolis, where Eli Lilly’s headquarters are located.
  • We’ve had a robust presence on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter!

However, just because the target of 6,220 signatures (representing the number of days rBGH has been on the market) has been achieved, that doesn’t mean that we should stop here. The battle is far from over. BCA continues to collect signatures to be forwarded to Eli Lilly. Do your share! Sign up at

Breast Cancer Research Symposium

This weekend, you can join the Breast Cancer Research Symposium with the theme “From Research to Action: Tools for Change.” The event is for free and is open to everybody at the Oakland Marriott, Oakland, CA, on September 24-25. Topics covered:

•the basic biology of breast cancer

•new diagnostic tools and personalized therapies

•exploring ways to improve delivery of services new tools for researching disparities and their impact on breast cancer risk

•the influence of breast cancer research on statewide and national chemicals policy

•the role of advocacy and community research  in moving the breast cancer field forward

•ways for you to make your mark in the fight against breast cancer

About Breast Cancer Action

BCA is the watchdog that originally coined the term  pinkwashers, companies that claim to care about breast cancer but make or sell products and services  that are linked to the disease. The site  informs consumers about pinkwashers and pinkwashing campaigns. BCA claims it does not receive any donation or any other form of financial support from companies who may be involved in pinkwashing.

BCA is turning 20 this year, “celebrating 20 years of activism on October 7th 2010.” Check out their site for tickets to the big celebration on October 7, 2010 at The City Club, San Francisco, CA.

Diabetic drug Avandia in trouble

September 23, 2010 by  

The antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone is in big trouble as the decisions from major regulatory bodies were announced today.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced today that it is recommending the suspension of the marketing license of antidiabetic drugs that contain rosiglitazone. This includes the drugs marketed in Europe as Avandia, Avandamet, and Avaglin.

The EMA suspension will take effect within the next few months and “will remain in place unless the marketing authorisation holder can provide convincing data to identify a group of patients in whom the benefits of the medicines outweigh their risks.”

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) decided that Avandia stays on the US market but under strong restrictions. According to an FDA statement today:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it will significantly restrict the use of the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) to patients with Type 2 diabetes who cannot control their diabetes on other medications. These new restrictions are in response to data that suggest an elevated risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, in patients treated with Avandia.

Rosiglitazone has been under scrutiny due to the side effects of fluid retention and increased risk of heart failure which came out during postmarketing studies. Avandia is a product of the UK drug marker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

What should patients in Europe who are taking rosiglitazone do?

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) issued the following press statement earlier today:

EASD urges patients who are currently taking any of the above medications to contact their medical advisors for advice concerning alternative treatment options.

Patients should be aware that stopping a diabetes medication without consulting a doctor can result in higher levels of blood glucose that may cause serious short term health problems and increase the risk of long-term diabetes-related complications.

Optimal control of glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure is needed in order to limit the risk of long-term complications, and several alternative types of treatment are available to help those with type 2 diabetes achieve these objectives.

 In any case, this may be the end of rosiglitazone. Even if its stays in the US market, its cardiovascular safety is seriously suspect that no clinician will ever consider prescribing the drug to patients.

Photo source:

Mommy’s diet and baby’s wheezing

September 23, 2010 by  

One of my sons developed wheezing when he was a couple months old. Wheezing is that high-pitched whistling sound that his nose made when he had a cold. His twin brother did not.

He was started on inhaled medications which he had to use during attacks. I used to dread the coming of the cold months when kids would surely catch the colds. Because I knew that for him, it would not be just ordinary sniffles. Several times he was also diagnosed with acute respiratory tract infection that was luckily caught early before it developed into full-blown pneumonia. When he was 2, his wheezing progressed into asthma.

But as he grew older, his condition improved. He hadn’t had a wheezing/asthma attack in over 3 years until a couple of weeks back (see other post on this).

The causes of wheezing that eventually lead to asthma are many and complex. Allergies, family history, and maternal diet during pregnancy are just some of the few factors that have been linked to wheezing. Some studies (source: Reuters), for example, have reported that children of pregnant women “who eat more fish, apples, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins D and E seem to have relatively lower risks of the breathing problems.” However, the findings were not conclusive as it wasn’t clear what exactly are the benefits of these foods. Some experts suggest that it is not specific food stuffs that do the job but the mom’s overall dietary pattern.

Researchers decided to delve further and conducted a survey of 1,376 mother-child pairs. The moms were asked to complete a questionnaire during their first and second trimesters concerning their diet during pregnancy. The babies were monitored for wheezing rates till age 3. Diets of the moms could be broadly classified as

Eighteen percent of the children developed recurrent wheezing within the first 3 years of life. However, the incidence of asthma was not linked to any specific diet pattern.

So does this mean we can eat anyway we want during pregnancy? Wrong! A healthy pregnancy diet is highly important even if it is not linked to asthma.

A study, for example, has linked high intake of diet soda to premature delivery. Another study showed that children who were born during food shortage period have a higher risk for abnormal blood sugar levels and eventually diabetes.

Clinical Depression: The Overlooked and Insidious Nemesis Plaguing ADHD Children

September 22, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are in constant misdirected motion, unable to concentrate and complete assigned tasks, and behave impulsively. 9780761838685 This book responds to a question that came to the author from Professor Maren Niehoff of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: _Have you written a simple introduction to your documentary theory and method, which can serve as a starting point for my students?_ 9780761838753 All of Charles Thomas Taylor’s previous writings have att

More bad news about BPA

September 22, 2010 by  

The story of BPA aka bisphenol A is not yet over. In fact, researchers believe that what we currently know about this compound is just the tip of the iceberg. As you may recall, BPA is a compound used in the manufacture of plastics. It is also an endocrine disrupting compound and micmics estrogen. BPA has been linked to a wide range of health problems from cardiovascular disease, to impaired fertility, neurological and developmental disorders and cancer.

According to University of Missouri researcher Dr. Julia Taylor:

“For years, BPA manufacturers have argued that BPA is safe and have denied the validity of more than 200 studies that showed adverse health effects in animals due to exposure to very low doses of BPA. We know that BPA leaches out of products that contain it, and that it acts like estrogen in the body.”

A recent study published in NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives shows that metabolism of BPA is similar in female humans, female monkeys, and female mice and BPA effects on the animals are grounds for major concern. According to study author Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri:

“This study provides convincing evidence that BPA is dangerous to our health at current levels of human exposure. The new results clearly demonstrate that rodent data on the health effects of BPA are relevant to predictions regarding the health effects of human exposure to BPA. Further evidence of human harm should not be required for regulatory action to reduce human exposure to BPA.”

Furthermore, human exposure to BPA seems to higher than previously thought. It has always been assumed that BPA comes from the plastics that we use in our household. However, the current study results show that these sources alone cannot account for the amount of BPA we are exposed to, indicating that there are unidentified sources of contamination in our environment. The researchers, thus, are calling for “governmental agencies to require the chemical industry to identify all products that contain BPA.

Dr. Pat Hunt, co-author of the study, adds:

“We’ve assumed we’re getting BPA from the ingestion of contaminated food and beverages. This indicates there must be a lot of other ways in which we’re exposed to this chemical and we’re probably exposed to much higher levels than we have assumed.”

Cyber bullying is a major source of depression among children

September 22, 2010 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

Bullying is a real part, if rather sad fact, of life. I always worry over my 2 second graders and what is going on in the school yard where the traditional bullying usually happens

And then there is the new form of bullying – cyber bullying – which is more sinister and destructive. Bullying leads to physical as well as psychological damage.  In the traditional bullying situation, depression is common among the victims but also the bully victims (“those who both dish it out and take it”) and even the bullies themselves. According to researchers, this type of bullying peaks at middle school.

Cyber bullying, on the other hand, is more “toxic”, according to Dr. Jorg Srabstein, medical director of the Clinic for Health Problems Related to Bullying at Children’s National Medical Center. This is because the burden of depression, which is rather high, falls largely on the victim alone. To illustrate the difference between traditional and cyber bullying, Srabstein gives us the following example:

Traditional bullying: “somebody writes an insult on the bathroom wall and it’s confined to the environment of the school.”

Cyber bullying: “in the majority of victimization, there is a wider resonance of abuse, to all corners of the world.”

Cyber bullying has been linked to cases of suicide and murder.

How common is cyber bullying?

The School-Aged Children 2005 Survey showed a more than 50% prevalence of verbal bullying (e.g. name-calling). Relational bullying, e.g. isolation from peers, are also common (about 50%). About 20% of school children have had been bullied physically and 14% experience cyber bullying.

In an anonymous, online survey of 1454 teens aged 12 to 17:

Online bullying was associated with increased distress, as well as with in-school bullying, with 85 percent of respondents who reported at least one online incident also reporting being bullied in school. Most of the bullied teens did not tell their parents about the online incidents. They felt the need to deal with the problem on their own and were fearful of parental restrictions on internet use.

Recent statistics showed that Americans spend 2.6 million minutes on Facebook each day. These so-called social medial platforms, led by Facebook, followed by My Space and Friendster are the most common media for cyber abuse. One site is especially is cause for concern. The relatively new allows anonymously virtually uncensored comments and remarks such as:

Go kill yourself and make the world a better place,” or “Is that you in your profile picture? It looks like a dead old man.”

A third of formspring users are under 17.

Government agencies are trying to keep up with technological developments in order to protect those who are online, especially the minors. In August of this year, Facebook, in cooperation with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), launched a new safety feature in its site, basically a panic button called ClickCEOP. According to CEOP chief Jim Gamble:

“By adding this application, Facebook users will have direct access to all the services that sit behind our ClickCEOP button which should provide reassurance to every parent with teenagers on the site. We know from speaking to offenders that a visible deterrent could protect young people.”

The Internet is here to stay and cyber bullying will continue. It is up to us, parents, as well as policymakers, to check on what is going in our children’s cyber lives.

Can fish oil stop breast cancer in its tracks?

September 21, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Fish oil has been touted to prevent cardiovascular disease. Now this heart-friendly supplement has another health benefit: lowering the risk for breast cancer. Fish oil supplements contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, substances that are beneficial to heart health and apparently also have some anticancer benefits.

This was revealed in a study conducted by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The study participants consisted of 35,016 postmenopausal women with no family history of breast cancer. The women completed a questionnaire on vitamin use. After 6 years, a total of 880 study participants were diagnosed with breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer was reduced by 32% among those who regularly took fish oil supplements. The protective effects of fish oil seem to be true only for invasive ductal breast cancer, which is the most common form of the disease.

What about other supplements?

Other forms of “specialty supplements” that are used to treat menopausal complaints do not seem to have an effect on cancer risk.

This is the first ever study to report the anti-cancer benefits of fish oil and although the results are promising, and even exciting, experts warn that more studies are needed before they can truly recommend fish oil as preventive measure against breast cancer. Previous studies on fish oil intake obtained inconsistent and inconclusive results.

According to study author Dr. Emily White,

“It may be that the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements is higher than most people would typically get from their diet. Without confirming studies specifically addressing this, we should not draw any conclusions about a causal relationship.”

According to Dr. Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health

“It is very rare that a single study should be used to make a broad recommendation. Over a period of time, as the studies confirm each other, we can start to make recommendations.”

I do not think I would start taking fish oil supplements now but I think this news is comforting for those who are already taking the supplements for heart problems that they might be fighting two monster diseases with just one pill. Or is it too good to be true?

In the meantime, more research studies are being planned and we hope that we will have the answers soon.

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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.