Monday, August 29, 2005
Coffee for some is poison. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are wonderful for most, and poison for virtually no one.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The trial on almost 50 overweight women confirms previous studies showing that a high-protein diet can lead to greater fat loss than a low-calorie, high carbohydrate diet.
But the researchers from the University of Illinois have also demonstrated that when both regimes are combined with an exercise programme, the protein-rich diet is still more effective at reducing body fat.
"There's an additive, interactive effect when a protein-rich diet is combined with exercise. The two work together to correct body composition; dieters lose more weight, and they lose fat, not muscle," said author Donald Layman, professor of food science and human nutrition.
Layman’s team recruited 48 women aged around 46 years old with a body mass index of 33 kg/m(2) during weight loss.
Half the women ate a protein-rich diet containing specific levels of leucine, one of the essential amino acids, for four months. The others followed a diet based on the US food guide pyramid, which contained higher amounts of carbohydrates.
Both groups consumed the same number of calories, but the first group substituted protein foods, like meat, dairy products, eggs, and nuts, for foods high in carbohydrates, such as breads, rice, cereal, pasta, and potatoes.
High-protein diets have been controversial as they counter the accepted weight-loss diet and there is little information on their impact on health over the long-term. But recent studies suggest that they may indeed work better than low-calorie, high-carbohydrate diets by increasing satiety and reducing fat mass.
In the current study, published in the August issue of the Journal of Nutrition (vol 135, issue 8, pp1903-10), the subjects were also required to follow one of two different exercise programmes. The first involved walking two to three times a week, while the second group included five 30-minute walking sessions and two 30-minute weightlifting sessions per week.
In both groups of dieters, the exercise helped spare lean muscle tissue and target fat loss. But, the protein-rich, high-exercise group, lost even more weight, and almost 100 per cent of the weight loss was fat, report the researchers.
In the high-carbohydrate, high-exercise group, however, as much as 25 to 30 per cent of the weight lost was muscle.
The protein-rich diet seems to be even more effective for people at higher risk of heart disease.
"The protein-rich diet dramatically lowered triglycerides and had a statistically significant effect on trunk fat, both risk factors associated with heart disease," said Layman.
"Exercise helped dieters lose an even greater percentage of body fat from the abdominal area."
The protein-rich diet is thought to work well because it contains a high level of leucine. The amino acid works with insulin to stimulate protein synthesis in muscle.
"The diet works because the extra protein reduces muscle loss while the low-carbohydrate component gives you low insulin, allowing you to burn fat," explained Layman.
The rules are being issued after disclosures that scientists at the institutes leveraged their positions to land lucrative consulting contracts that seemed to conflict with their official duties or at least overlap with them. Those contracts caused some critics to worry that research by the agency could be tainted.
An investigation by the agency concluded that 44 of its 1,200 senior scientists appeared to have violated rules governing consulting and that 9 might have violated criminal laws.
Under the final rules, the top 200 executives will be required to keep the value of their holdings in any single drug company below $15,000. Some 6,000 other employees will have to submit for review their holdings in such companies. If the holdings are determined to conflict with official responsibilities, the employees will be asked to sell these shares, officials said.
Agency scientists will also be allowed to hold fiduciary positions in medical societies as part of their lives outside the agency, a practice that the earlier proposed rules would have banned.
"These rules by no means end the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on N.I.H. employees," said Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, director of the health research group at Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy group.
Dr. Wolfe noted that the new rules let employees deliver medical education lectures paid for by drug companies. Although no strings are supposed to be attached to the financing, Dr. Wolfe noted that scientists who disagreed with the positions of the drug industry were rarely invited to give such lectures.
The rules go into effect on Tuesday. Officials will have to divest their stock portfolios by Jan. 30. Dr. Zerhouni said he intended to re-examine the new rules in a year to make sure they have not had negative effects on the agency's ability to recruit top scientists.
Courtesy of the NY Times
Steve - To be continued...?
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Grilled chicken contains the highest HCA concentration, with alarmingly high levels also found in flame-cooked steak, salmon, and hamburger. The Cancer Project report focuses on HCAs, but many grilled meats, including hotdogs, contain other carcinogens such as nitrates.Chicken breast, skinless, boneless, grilled, well done
Steak, grilled, well done
Salmon, grilled with skin
Hamburger, grilled, well done
Reuters - Approximately one third of all hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding can be attributed to the use of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) painkillers like ibuprofen, a study in Spain suggests.
Moreover, up to one third of these painkiller-related incidents may be due to low-dose aspirin.
Dr. Angel Lanas, at University Hospital in Zaragoza, and his associates evaluated data from 26 Spanish hospitals on hospitalizations related to peptic-ulcer disease or complications such as bleeding or perforation, as well as drug use during the month prior to hospitalization.
A total of 8010 serious gastrointestinal bleeding events were reported, and among these, the mortality rate was 5.7 percent.
The authors report that the proportion of complications and deaths attributed to NSAID and aspirin use was 36.3 percent. They also note that nearly 90 percent of deaths occurred in patients older than 60 years of age.
To extrapolate the impact of aspirin and NSAID use on the general population of Spain, Lanas' group obtained data from 197 hospitals representative of all the hospitals in the Spanish National Health System.
Their results suggest that the death rate resulting from NSAID- or aspirin-related gastrointestinal complications was between 21 and 25 cases per million inhabitants. This translates to about 15 such deaths for every 100,000 users of aspirin or NSAIDs.
According to the authors, these results highlight "the importance of taking ever-greater steps to research new and better alternatives to treat pain and inflammation in the elderly, to heighten physician and public awareness of the associated problems of NSAID therapy, and to educate them on the use of appropriate prevention strategies."
Dr. Byron Cryer, from the Dallas VA Medical Center, agrees with this conclusion. He writes in a related editorial: "Although clinically significant gastrointestinal events with NSAIDs are uncommon, as a result of the vast numbers of patients who take these medications, when assessed by percentages these complications remain a significant public health concern."
SOURCE: American Journal of Gastroenterology, August 2005.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
An attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug that was forced off the market last February by Canadian Health officials is being reinstated, the drug's maker, Shire Pharmaceuticals, announced Wednesday.
Adderall XR will be reinstated on the Canadian market effective this Friday, but it will take a bit longer before the drug is available again across the country, company spokesperson Matt Cabrey said in an interview.
The reversal of the federal regulator's decision comes after a panel of experts — called a new drug committee — reviewed the safety data on the drug. Shire triggered the review by in effect appealing Health Canada's decision to remove the drug from the market.
"The NDC (new drug committee) came to the conclusion that there was not enough evidence of an increased harm from Adderall compared to other therapies available," said Health Canada spokesperson Jirina Vlk.
"The benefits of treating ADHD has to be balanced with the known harms of this class of drugs."
Health Canada pulled Adderall XR, a once-a-day treatment for ADHD, off the market on Feb. 9 after learning from the company of 20 cases of sudden death and 12 of stroke in people using the drug. None of those cases occurred in Canada.
Fourteen of the sudden deaths and two of the strokes were in children. A number of the cases involved children with structural heart defects.
Steve - see our following March entry and we'll you decide what's going on here.
ADHD drug Adderral pulled in Canada -
The popular drug, which has been linked to 20 sudden deaths worldwide, mostly in children, was taken off the Canadian market Wednesday, sparking questions about whether kids in the USA should be using it.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory on its Web site saying that the rate of sudden death for children on Adderall XR is no higher than for those not on the drug. But children with heart defects could be at higher risk.
Parents are making decisions about stimulants such as Adderall XR with few facts, says Julie Magno Zito, an epidemiologist at the University of Maryland. There are no good long-term studies of such medicines, she says. Rare side effects of a drug won't surface in short studies unless they include a huge number of kids, such as in a national HMO, and that kind of study hasn't been done on Adderall XR, Zito says.
About 700,000 children in the USA take Adderall XR, a timed-release stimulant, and 300,000 use Adderall, a version that often needs to be taken more than once a day, according to Shire Pharmaceuticals Group PLC, maker of the drug.
This week researchers from the Case Western Reserve University in the US who examined data from 12,110 individuals reported that those who exercised, had healthy eating habits and maintained a normal weight were 40 per cent less likely to develop periodontitis.
More than 30 per cent of the population is thought to suffer from periodontitis, an infection of the gums that can result in tooth loss, but also leads to heart disease, diabetes and pre-term labour.
The trial, published in the August issue of the Journal of Periodontology (vol 76, issue 8, pp1362-6), also showed that periodontis was reduced by 29 per cent for those individuals who only met two of the healthy behaviours and 16 percent in those that met at least one.
Courtesy of nutraingredients.com
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Monday, August 22, 2005
The drug Paxil or Seroxat (paroxetine) is already banned from use by adolescents because of an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.
In Biomed Central journal, University of Oslo scientists said analysis of existing studies suggested these warnings should be extended to adults.
GlaxoSmithKline, which makes the drug, said it had helped millions.
Paroxetine is one in a class of drugs known as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
Last year the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency's (MHRA) Committee on Safety of Medicines concluded that a modest increase in the risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm for SSRIs could not be ruled out, but the benefits for adults outweighed the risks.
The studies included 916 patients on paroxetine and 550 patients on placebo.
There were no actual suicides in any of the studies. However, there were seven suicide attempts in the group on paroxetine, and only one in the placebo group.
Writing in Biomed Central, the team led by Dr Ivor Aursenes, said: "Patients and doctors should be warned that the increased suicidal activity observed in children and adolescents taking certain antidepressant drugs may well be present also in adults.
A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline: "We take the safety of all our medicines extremely seriously and will, of course, review this study carefully when it becomes available."
Friday, August 19, 2005
One of Kraft's ads featured a giant block of cheese engraved with the words "Burn More Fat," and another featured an hourglass-shaped package of cheese. The company is updating language on its Web site related to dairy consumption and weight. The dairy industry's campaign has come under increased scrutiny from other health advocates and researchers.
PCRM's lawsuit maintains that scientific evidence contradicts the dairy industry's weight-loss claims. The only studies that support the claims were conducted by Michael Zemel, Ph.D., an industry-funded researcher at the University of Tennessee. Since 1998, Zemel has accepted nearly $1.7 million in research grants from the National Dairy Council. He has also patented his weight-loss program; consequently, advertisers pay Zemel to use his so-called "calcium key" weight-loss program.
Other researchers have not been able to confirm Zemel's findings. They have found that dairy products either have no effect on weight or cause weight gain.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Current research indicates that as much as 38% of the population experiences difficulty metabolizing folate due to genetic variation (references available upon request). For these individuals, supplementing with folic acid is virtually worthless. The only way to tell if you have a genetic polymorphism is to through genetic testing (C677T MTHFR gene), which is expensive. Another way to insure you are absorbing folate properly is to purchase a complete folate product that includes folic acid, 5, 10 methyl and L-5 methyl. Metagenics makes one called Actifolate.
A new study, using what the researchers said was an unusually large number of volunteers, has found evidence that acupuncture may alleviate tension headaches. The findings appear in the online version of the journal BMJ.
To test how well it actually works, the researchers sought out volunteers who reported having had tensions headaches for at least eight days a month in the previous three months.
They were divided into three groups. One received a traditional form of acupuncture. A second was given light needling away from the classic acupuncture points, the intention being to simulate acupuncture. Members of the third group were told that they were on a waiting list and given no treatment. (At the end of the experiment, they received acupuncture.)
Afterward, a review of the results for 270 patients found that those who received traditional acupuncture reported about seven fewer days with headaches in the month after treatment than in the month before.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Steve - as for those who read this blog daily, you know that we hardly ever mention non-human studies. Although, in the case of aspartame, there are no human studies to show safety. The aforementioned statistics are sobering. If this does not spur on the world to do human trials on aspartame, the least we can do is avoid it like the plague!
Steve - it's nice to see the media is catching on. We stated this in our "MyPyramid: What the USDA Won't Tell You" piece several months ago. The prices of fruits and vegetables need to come down in order for the population to consume more of them. This will not happen unless subsidies are reallocated in their direction, as opposed to grains and dairy.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University published a study in the April issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology (123, pp517-526) that found women who reported supplementing their diets with vitamin E for 10 years or more had significantly less progression of cataract development after five years of follow-up.
A similar relative decrease in cataract progression was seen in women who reported higher intakes of two of the B vitamins, riboflavin and thiamin, when compared to women with lower intakes.
"Our results suggest that vitamin supplementation, particularly long-term use of vitamin E, may slow down cataract development," said lead scientist Paul Jacques.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common than doctors once thought, and experts advise that those most at risk -- vegetarians and older adults -- be sure to take supplemental forms of the vitamin.
Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells; a deficiency in the vitamin can cause symptoms ranging from the subtle, including fatigue and mild dizziness, to the more severe, including nerve damage, anemia and dementia.It has become clear in recent years that B12 deficiency is a much more widespread problem, Komaroff noted in an interview with Reuters Health.
Unlike most vitamins, B12 occurs naturally only in animal products, including meat, poultry, fish and -- in lesser amounts -- eggs and dairy. Because of this, vegetarians and especially vegans -- who avoid all animal products, including dairy -- may have low stores of the vitamin.
The same is true of adults older than 50, as many have a thinning in the stomach lining that prevents the proper release of digestive acids. Stomach acids, Komaroff explained, are essential for "shaking loose" vitamin B12 from its food source, allowing it to be absorbed.
Research indicates that one-fifth of Americans older than 60 have low levels of B12 in their blood, according to the August issue of the Harvard Health Letter, which Komaroff edits.
It's important, Komaroff said, for vegetarians and older adults to get vitamin B12 through supplements, including multivitamins and fortified cereals. The crystalline form of B12 in pills and cereals is actually better absorbed than that found in animal products, and its absorption is not hindered by the lack of stomach acids in some older adults.
Vegetarian and vegan women who breastfeed should be especially careful to get enough vitamin B12, according to Komaroff. Deficiency in an infant can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system and serious developmental problems.
In general, women who breastfeed are advised to get 2.8 micrograms (g) of B12 per day, slightly more than the 2.4 g recommended for all adults.
Vitamins, particularly those formulated for vegetarians, often contain many times the recommended daily amount of B12. Though it's dangerous to take certain vitamins in such high doses, Komaroff noted, there is no evidence that excess B12 carries health risks.
Bonnie - For all of those physicians who wondered why I berated them for not giving my clients B-12 shots, now you know!
Monday, August 08, 2005
Schizophrenia afflicts roughly 1% of the global population and tends to run in families, but the incidence of the illness has been found to have doubled during famines in China and the Netherlands.
The Chinese findings mirrored those from an earlier study of schizophrenia rates among people born in the Netherlands during the "Dutch Hunger Winter" of 1944-45.
Researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, writing in the Aug. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn., examined records from around the city of Wuhu in Anhui province, where the famine was acute and people starved to death in large numbers. The famine followed a season of bad weather and rural upheavals caused by the government's "Great Leap Forward."
Out of more than 600,000 births during the period studied, there were 4,600 schizophrenia cases. During the famine years, the birth rate declined 80% and the percentage of children who went on to develop schizophrenia rose from less than 1% to as high as 2.2%.
Study author Dr. David St. Clair wrote that "extreme stress" on prenatal development such as from a famine results in schizophrenia among those genetically predisposed to the illness. He cited a theory that the normally tightly regulated development of the brain can be disrupted by a nutritional deficiency.
Friday, August 05, 2005
A team at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne studied nearly 1,000 women and their newborn babies.
Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of serious health problems, including respiratory disorders and diabetes.
The research is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Women are already advised to take folic acid supplements if trying to conceive, and through the early weeks of pregnancy as the vitamin is known to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
But this is the first time the vitamin has been linked to birth weight.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Steve - arachidonic acid is found primarily in fatty red meats and organ meats. The human body needs some arachidonic acid, but too much can be damaging. The higher your insulin levels, the more your body is stimulated to make arachidonic acid.
1) Expanding the disease to include a new condition, osteopenia (or pre-osteoporosis), with boundaries so broad they include more than half of all women over 50.
2) Promoting osteopenia and osteoporosis directly to young, healthy women, telling them they are at risk and should consider taking bone strengthening drugs.
3) Define the conditions with readings from bone-density machines that the drug industry promoted, subsidized, and helped put in doctor's offices.
Many experts now say that the chances of your average healthy 50 year-old woman getting a fracture are very, very low. Although, this is the age group the drug makers are targeting.
Reviewing the cases of 548 patients over the age of 60 who were admitted at South Glasgow University Hospital during a four-year period, the researchers found that 97.8 per cent had vitamin D levels below normal.
In around a quarter of the group studied, levels were so low that they were "effectively unrecordable", said the authors in the online issue of Current Medical Research and Opinion.
In a second prospective study phase, the researchers looked at vitamin D levels among the first 50 patients admitted to the hospital with an osteoporosis fracture after November 2004.
More than 80 per cent had vitamin D levels below 70 nmol/L and 72 per cent had vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The book the article alludes to is From Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels.
The authors refer to an astonishing article published by Medical Marketing and Media from 2003 entield, "The Art of Branding a Condition." which you may be able to access with this URL: http://offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk/Misc/MMM/Features/CONDITION.pdf
Steve - Why such a disparity? As we've said before, fish oil reduces inflammation, which is the cause for more than 50% of all cardiac deaths. Statins reduce cholesterol, which make up a much smaller percentage of cardiac deaths. Fish oil also reduces triglycerides, normalizes vascular function, and thwarts clots.
Practicing yoga may be one way to prevent middle-aged spread, according to the findings of a new study.
Although the connection appears to be indirect, yoga practitioners are apparently able to avoid - or at least minimize - the one-pound-a-year of gained weight that most people endure between the ages of 45 and 55.
The researchers used data from more than 15,000 men and women ages 53 to 57, who reported their weight at age 45 and their current weight.
The subjects were also asked to report whether they engaged regularly in three specific recreational activities - walking, weight lifting, and yoga - and whether they participated in two broader categories of activity, moderate and strenuous exercise. The researchers assessed the diet of the study participants using a detailed food questionnaire.
Practicing yoga for 4 or more years, for at least 30 minutes once a week, was associated with a 3.1-pound lower weight gain among people who were normal weight at age 45. The yoga practitioners who were overweight at 45 lost an average of 5 pounds, as opposed to an average gain of 13 pounds in overweight nonpractitioners. Being overweight was defined as having a body mass index of 25 or greater.
The authors conceded that their study, published in the July/August issue of Alternative Therapies, has many limitations. Although there were more than 1,000 people in the study who did some yoga, almost half did less than 30 minutes at a session, while normal yoga sessions usually last 60 to 90 minutes. Only 132 of these people maintained the practice longer than four years.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Employers may not be able to prevent employees from getting the flu, but they can certainly encourage them to avoid illnesses induced by their behavior. In this developing trend of “quid pro quo,” employers are instituting lifestyle incentive programs to push employees to take charge of their health.
“Monitoring healthy lifestyles is difficult. Encouraging healthy behavior at work is easier,” said survey participant Nan Andrews Amish, business strategist, Big Picture Healthcare.
In considering specific incentives, reward conditions and initiative results, the survey analysis underscores an industry-wide effort to adapt to healthcare trends and simultaneously foster employee and financial fortitude. Lifestyle incentive programs provide employees the tools and self-motivation they need to be health conscious while cutting back the debilitating cost of chronic care. Though not foolproof, employers agree these initiatives appear to be a step in the direction of healthcare cost reduction, but note it may take some time to see results.
In several recent studies, acupuncture has been proven to lessen PONV symptoms. A trial in 2004 was done to look at the effectiveness of acupuncture in 220 women undergoing gynecological or breast surgeries. The patients who received acupuncture showed a significant decrease in the incidence of PONV. Another study conducted by Duke University Medical Center on breast surgery patients found positive results in the use of acupuncture to prevent occurrences of post-operative nausea and vomiting. It also stated that acupuncture increased general patient satisfaction post-op.
According to this study, 70 percent of women who undergo major breast surgery that requires general anesthesia experience PONV, making breast surgery the leading cause of nausea/vomiting post-op. However, 77 percent of the women who were treated with acupuncture suffered no PONV, nor did they require antiemetic drugs (anti-vomiting medication). The women who received acupoint stimulation also had less post-surgical pain.