Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pregnant women are urged to avoid Paxil

Pregnant women and those who plan to become pregnant should avoid taking the antidepressant Paxil if possible because of the risk of birth defects. The opinion issued by the obstetric practice committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists comes nearly a year after the Food and Drug Administration and manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline reclassified the drug to reflect studies in pregnant women that showed the drug poses a risk to the fetus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also said the decision whether to treat pregnant women with SSRIs, a class of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Zoloft and Lexapro as well as Paxil, should be considered on an individual basis. Exposure to SSRIs late in pregnancy has been associated with short-term complications in newborns, the doctors said. The opinion appears in the December issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Courtesy of AP

Bonnie - I have been saying this for a while. Be extremely careful and look long and hard at the data before deciding to take or stay on antidepressants pre-pregnancy or during pregancy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Super food: Edible coating fights E. coli

According to a study being published Wednesday in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Oregano oil is a natural bacteria fighter, as are other plant-based essential oils. The apple puree enables the coating to stick. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have developed a flavored edible coating for fresh produce that not only tastes good, it kills E. coli bacteria.

The coating can be applied as a liquid or a thin film. It combines two unlikely flavors -- oregano oil and apple puree.

Researchers tested the coating on E. coli samples -- not on actual produce, though that's in the works, McHugh said. They also plan tests on other bacteria, including salmonella and listeria.

Courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

Steve - essential oils and herbs have always been an option to prevent food contamination. It is a much better idea than irradiating or virally adultering our food!

That Prenatal Visit May Be Months Too Late

For years, women have had it drummed into them that prenatal care is the key to having a healthy baby, and that they should see a doctor as soon as they know they are pregnant. But by then, it may already be too late. Public health officials are now encouraging women to make sure they are in optimal health well in advance of a pregnancy to reduce the risk of preventable birth defects and complications. They have recast the message to emphasize not only prenatal care, as they did in the past, but also what they are calling “preconception care.”

The problem, doctors say, is that by the first prenatal visit, a woman is usually 10 to 12 weeks pregnant. “If a birth defect is going to happen, it’s already happened,” said Dr. Peter S. Bernstein, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York who helped write new government guidelines on preconception care. For many women, Dr. Bernstein said, “The most important doctor’s visit may be the one that takes place before a pregnancy is conceived.”

The new guidelines, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include 10 specific health care recommendations and advise prepregnancy checkups that include screening for diabetes, H.I.V. and obesity; managing chronic medical conditions; and reviewing medications that may harm a fetus. Much of the advice directed to women is fairly standard: they should abstain from smoking, alcohol and drugs, and should take prenatal vitamins, including folic acid. What is new and somewhat controversial about the guidelines is the suggestion that they should apply to women throughout their reproductive years, even when they are not planning pregnancies. (Men should be wary of exposures to toxins that cause birth defects and should avoid sexually transmitted diseases, experts say.)

Courtesy of NY Times

Bonnie - this is so stunning to read. Since my internship at the March of Dimes over 25 years ago, I have been asking the government to address women's health preconception. FINALLY!! This is such an important development I cannot emphasize it more. Public health professionals and practitioners need to start spreading the word. For any of your family and friends, read the Natural Fertility Action Plan on our website, for a sound preconception plan.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Take folic acid to protect against heart disease.

Despite some controversy in reports of the benefits of folate consumption on cardiovascular disease risk, the evidence is now enough to recommend the vitamin for heart health, British scientists have reported.

“Since folic acid reduces homocysteine concentrations, to an extent dependent on background folate levels, it follows that increasing folic acid consumption will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by an amount related to the homocysteine reduction achieved,” wrote lead author David Wald in the British Medical Journal.

According to Wald, a three micromole per litre decrease in serum homocysteine levels, said to be achievable with a daily folic acid intake with 0.8 milligrams, lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke by 15 and 24 per cent. Moreover, some randomized trials have reported similar effects, but the reviewers state: “Folic acid is expected to reduce cardiovascular disease events by only about 10-15 per cent (compared, for example, to about an 80 per cent reduction in neural tube defects from taking five millgrams folic acid daily).” In studies looking at genetic mutations of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, which affects one in ten people, influences folate metabolism and is associated with increased homocysteine levels, the researchers report that high homocysteine levels were associated as causal for the risk of stroke.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wine flour promises taste, health benefits to bakers

A new wine flour manufactured from grape skins claims to allow manufacturers of baked goods, pasta and snacks to naturally fortify their products with healthy fatty acids and fiber. Manufactured from a by-product of the wine industry, the flour is also marketed as containing high levels of iron and calcium, as well as the heart-healthy polyphenol resveratrol.

The product is obtained using a patent-pending drying process, applied to the grape pomace – or what is left of the fruit after it has been crushed for wine-making. Primarily made up of grape skins, together with a small amount of seeds, this by-product is dried, sifted and ground into a flour.

In bakery goods, such as breads, crackers, bagels or muffins, the wine flour is used at a concentration of 7-10 percent. In pasta it can be used at a concentration of up to 25 percent. And if the flour is ground finer, it can be incorporated into energy bars or even drinks, such as protein beverages or tea.

Other flour products on the horizon will include flours made from asparagus, peppers, egg plant, leak, carrot, parsley and green peas.

Steve - now this is the kind of innovation that we LOVE to see!

Nutrition and brain health: It's a big deal for Nestlé

“Nestlé is in the midst of a strategic transformation into a nutrition, health and wellness company, and research & development will increasingly drive and contribute to the acceleration of this process as we go forward,” said Werner Bauer, Nestlé’s executive vice president.

The link between nutrition and cognitive function is an area that has been largely overlooked in the past. But recent studies looking at the potential protective role of foods like pomegranate and berries, green tea, and fish against cognitive impairment and the on-set of Alzheimer’s disease shows that this is slowly changing. Peter van Bladeren, director of the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, told that Nestlé would be looking at a range of new and existing ingredients and investigating novel ways of delivering and improving the bioavailability, thereby giving Nestlé a proprietary ingredient. “We can find a novel form of a natural ingredient,” said van Bladeren. “We now know that diet can have very beneficial effects on the mature and ageing brain,” he said. “As we have seen in the past 20 years with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, we will see, starting now, the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases in the next 20 years,” said Dr. Sandrine Andrieu from the Toulouse University School of Medicine.


Steve - it is very encouraging to see large food conglomerates starting to focus their energy on prevention. However, we still must keep a watchful eye. If using healthy ingredients equates to putting them in Nesquick or KitKat Bars, it will not do a darn thing for prevention of disease.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Surgery no better for sciatica

Two big government-funded studies on back surgery for painful herniated disks show no clear-cut reason to choose an operation over other treatment.

The pain and physical function of the patients, who were suffering from a condition called sciatica, improved significantly after two years whether or not they had surgery. However, neither strategy offered complete relief.

"In back surgery for this particular condition, there's actually a choice," said lead author Dr. James Weinstein of Dartmouth Medical School. "If you don't want the risk of surgery, you can do watchful waiting" and still get well.

The findings, published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, are the first from a big government-funded research project on spine surgery. Patients were treated at 13 spine centers in 11 states.

Courtesy of AP

Bonnie - this is enough of a reason to try to discover and then avoid trigger foods that can be contributing to back pain. My Pain Relief Diet has shown to produce immediate results in pain relief. More importantly, it helps you detect what groups of foods that cause the pain so you can avoid them long-term.

Doubts hit FDA handling of benzene in soft drinks

A senior ex-FDA official said it was “embarrassing” that the Food and Drug Administration had failed to eradicate benzene residues from all drinks. His comments come as newly released meeting memos show at least one soft drinks maker, Kraft Foods, called for more guidance on benzene in soft drinks from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year. The developments put pressure on the FDA nine months after an investigation revealed some drinks containing more benzene than is allowed in US drinking water. Benzene causes cancer if consumed in enough quantities over a sustained period. Both FDA and industry had known of the source, a reaction in drinks between two common ingredients – sodium benzoate and ascorbic or citric acid – for 15 years.

The FDA agreed in 1991 for firms to “get the word out and reformulate” privately, without an official guide or limit drawn up. Some in the soft drinks industry appear to have wanted a better lead from the FDA. Kraft Foods recently reformulated all of its ready-to-drink beverages containing sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid to limit benzene formation, according to an internal FDA meeting memo from this year. The same memo noted Kraft’s warning that “there is no one solution that can be applied to all beverages [to mitigate benzene formation]”.

Courtesy of

Black Cohosh study demonsrates safety

A study that appears in the journal Menopause tracked 400 postmenopausal women taking 20 mg. of black cohosh over a 52 week period.

This long-term study showed no findings of endometrial hyperplasia or endometrial thickeness. Serum estradiol levels remained in the postmenopausal range. There were no changes in breast density. There were no relevant cases of hepatotoxicity from increased liver enzymes levels.

Significant increases were found in osteocalcin activity, which reduces bone resorption (bone loss).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bonnie Minsky featured in the Daily Herald

Bonnie contributed to a Thanksgiving article written by columnist Susan Stevens.

Milk allergy in babies 'missed'

Cow's milk allergy in babies is being missed by doctors, a survey suggests. Nearly 80% of 500 doctors polled by the medical taskforce Act Against Allergy thought their colleagues confused milk allergy symptoms with other conditions. Experts say the problem lies in the symptoms being both vague and common - including skin rashes and diarrhea. The poll also found many of the doctors did not know the best treatment. Without treatment food allergies can be distressing and even deadly.

Bonnie - I anticipate those numbers would be similar in the United States. Because I always look at health from a public health as well as individual perspective, I believe food sensitivity and food allergy is much more prevalent in the population than is believed.

Scientists probe omega-3 DHA as anti-obesity agent

The omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), suppressed the development of fat cells in vitro, and could lead to reductions in body fat, US researchers have reported.

Fish oil, and other omega-3-rich sources have previously been shown to decrease body fat in rodents, but the mechanism behind such observations and whether doses smaller than those usually found in humans could also exert an effect of the development of fat cells, and therefore play a potential role in weight management. The new research, published in the new issue of the Journal of Nutrition (Vol. 136, pp. 2965-2969), looked at the effects of DHA on cell growth, differentiation, cell death (apoptosis), and fat breakdown in cultured fat (3T3-L1) cells. The researchers report that when added to a culture of preadipocytes (cells that can be stimulated to develop into fully-fledged fat cells, adipocytes) all the concentrations studied (25, 50, and 200 umol/L) resulted in a reduction in the number of viable cells. This was due, said the researchers, to an effect of DHA on adoptosis (programmed cell death). They also report that DHA significantly decreased the accumulation of fat in the preadipocytes in a dose-dependent manner and the development (differentiation) of mature adipocytes in culture.

Steve - omega-3 has literally become a super-nutrient. It is being studied for anything and everything. While we should not get ahead of ourselves with regard to the aforementioned study, it is encouraging.

Friday, November 17, 2006

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Highlights - November

  • Data taken from southern European populations show an association between a higher frequency of consumption of allium vegetables (onion, garlic) and lower risk of several common cancers.
  • Subjects with the lowest intake of fiber and magnesium were three to four times as likely to have Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation (via C-reactive protein test).
  • According to a huge Norwegian population study, most pregnant women started folic acid supplementation too late with respect to the prevention of nerual tube defects. Supplementation needs to optimally begin at least one to two months pre-conception.

Soy during childhood linked to lower breast cancer risk

High consumption of fermented soy-based foods during childhood could reduce the risk of developing breast cancer later in life by 58 per cent, say researchers from the US National Cancer Institute.

"Childhood soy intake was significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk in our study, suggesting that the timing of soy intake may be especially critical," said lead investigator, Larissa Korde, from the NCI's Clinical Genetics Branch.

Korde and co-workers, including researchers from the University of Hawaii, the Northern California Cancer Center, and the University of Southern California, recruited 597 Asian-American women with breast cancer (cases) and 966 healthy women without the disease (controls). The participants were asked to answer questions about adolescent and adult diet and lifestyles. Additionally, for a subset of 255 participants whose mothers were alive and living in the US, the mothers were asked about their daughter's early childhood exposures. By comparing the highest and lowest soy intake values for soy-based foods such as tofu, miso and natto, Korde and co-workers calculated that women with the highest soy intake during childhood (ages 5 to 11) had a 58 per cent lower risk of breast cancer as adults as the women with the lowest soy intake as children. Regina Ziegler, senior investigator on the study, added a note of caution, however, and said that it would be premature to recommend changes in childhood diet. "This is the first study to evaluate childhood soy intake and subsequent breast cancer risk, and this one result is not enough for a public health recommendation," she said.

Bonnie - this is what I have been saying. Soy has a place in our food supply, but only if fermented sources such as miso, tofu, and natto are consumed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Antibiotics usually useless for bronchitis: study

There is no evidence antibiotics help the vast majority of patients with acute bronchitis, and doctors should stop routinely prescribing them, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Acute bronchitis, an inflammation of the main airways to the lungs marked by an irritating cough, is one of the most common conditions treated by primary-care doctors, occurring in about 5 percent of adults each year.

Two Virginia Commonwealth University doctors, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, said an exhaustive review of existing research studies and clinical trials turned up no evidence to support prescribing antibiotics for short-term bronchitis.

This is because, they stated, almost all cases are viral infections and do not respond to antibiotics.

They also found little evidence that cough medicine, also prescribed in most acute bronchitis cases, had any value.

Courtesy Reuters

Omega-3s may cut colorectal cancer risk in men

Men who eat fish at least five times a week could slash the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 40 per cent, compared to men who ate fish less than once a week, Harvard researchers told the American Association for Cancer Research’s Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting.

The new research, by scientists at Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital, analysed data from 22,071 participants in the Physicians' Health Study (PHS), a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial primarily designed to investigate the effect of aspirin and beta-carotene supplements on development of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Almost 10 per cent of the men ate fish less than once a week, 31 per cent ate it less than two times a week, 48 per cent ate fish less than five times a week, and about 11 per cent ate it five times or more a week.

After an average of 19.4 years of follow-up, they calculated that five or more servings of fish a week was associated with a 40 per cent reduction in colorectal cancer risk, compared to men who ate fish less than once a week.

The relative risk of eating fish 2-5 times a week was 20 per cent lower, and 13 per cent lower among participants who ate fish less than twice a week.

Steve - while it is a stretch for many of us to eat fish five times weekly, a great alternative is fish or cod liver oil.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pancreatic cancer linked to high sugar intake

A study published last week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who drink large quantities of fizzy drinks or add sugar to coffee or tea run a higher risk of developing cancer of the pancreas.

This 80,000 person study showed that those who drank fizzy or syrup-based drinks twice daily or more ran a 90 percent risk of getting cancer of the pancreas than those who never drank them. The risk was 70 percent higher for those who added sugar to their drinks about five times daily.

Bonnie - this was a huge population study. I have said for years that sugar feeds cancer. The pancreas is particularly vulnerable because it is the organ that secretes and regulates insulin. Health professionals should warn their cancer patients to curb the sugar even the minute they are diagnosed.

So keep in mind when you see all of these positive studies on coffee and tea, they do not take into include added sugar or blended mochas!

Trans fats adversely affect blood levels

In yet another study condemning trans fats, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that a person consuming 4 grams of trans fats in a daily diet that consisted of 2,000 calories had triple the risk of heart disease of a person consuming 2.6 grams of trans fats in a 2,000-fat calorie diet.

Earlier studies have shown a link between trans fats and heart disease, but the Harvard study is the first to show that people with the highest trans fats in their diet also had the highest levels of trans fats embedded in their red blood cells.

The study, reported Tuesday at the American Heart Association scientific session, found that high trans fat levels in the blood are also associated with increased levels of low density lipoproteins, the so-called bad cholesterol, and low levels of high density lipoproteins, the helpful cholesterol.

The study involved blood samples collected in 1989-90 from 30,000 participants of the Nurses' Health Study. "Our bodies do not need trans fats and this research shows they are not good for our health," Dr, Qi Sun said.

Bonnie - folks, 4 grams of trans fats in the Standard American Diet is very little. One order of french fries is double that! Let's get these out of our food supply.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Antioxidant Therapies Do Not Interfere with Radiation Treatment

Cancer patients can get the vital nutritional benefits from taking antioxidants without the risk of interfering with radiation treatment, according to research findings being presented this weekend at the Society of Integrative Oncology's Third International Conference in Boston.

The study, Effect of Concomitant Naturopathic Therapies on Clinical Tumor Response to External Beam Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer, was conducted by researchers at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and reviewed PSA levels of prostate cancer patients after receiving radiation therapy. Researchers found no difference between patients taking antioxidants and those who did not. Antioxidants used in the study included green tea extract, melatonin, high-potency multivitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E.

"This study provides evidence that antioxidants as a complementary therapy in cancer treatment do not interfere with external beam radiation therapy," said Timothy Birdsall, ND, vice president of integrative medicine for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and lead author of the paper. "Antioxidants are one of many complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies that are crucial in today's fight against cancer."

Fish Oil Linked to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

A substance found in fish oil may be associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias, researchers reported yesterday. The scientists found that people with the highest blood levels of an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, were about half as likely to develop dementia as those with lower levels. The substance is one of several omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fatty fish and, in small amounts, in some meats. It is also sold in fish oil or DHA supplements. The researchers looked for a reduced risk associated with seven other omega-3 fatty acids, but only DHA had any effect. The study, in the November issue of The Archives of Neurology, used data from the Framingham Heart Study to follow 899 initially healthy participants, with a median age of 76, for an average of more than nine years. People in this top one-quarter in DHA levels had a 47 percent reduced risk of developing dementia, even after controlling for body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, smoking status and other known or suspected risks. Those in the bottom three-quarters in DHA level showed no detectable difference in risk. People who ate two or more servings of fish a week reduced their risk for dementia by 39 percent, but there was no effect on the risk for dementia among those who ate less than that.

Courtesy NY Times

Steve - tell us something we don't know. The researchers say that more research still needs to be done. I don't know what else they need to look at! There has been more research on DHA than almost any nutrient on the market. There is a reason why doctors have been getting into the act and recommending fish oil. It works!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ignoring climate change will cost countries billions and lead to food scarcity

The Stern Review, commissioned by the UK's chancellor in July last year and published last week, is the most comprehensive study ever on the economics of climate change.

Pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were 280ppm CO2 equivalent (CO2e). The current concentration is 430ppm CO2e. Unabated climate change, caused by CO2 emissions, risks raising average temperatures by over 5C from pre-industrial levels.

Such changes will transform the physical geography of our planet. Agricultural practices would be catastrophically altered beyond recognition in many parts of the world, as the UN's current climate change conference in Nairobi confirms.

A temperature increase of just 2C would dramatically decrease productivity in many parts of the world. Such a rise might raise agricultural productivity in colder climates no one really knows for sure. But the net effect would likely be a decline in output especially in the poorer south.

What's more, low-lying agricultural areas will increasingly be more susceptible to flooding. This will pose a significant challenge to farmers especially as most attention will be focused on protecting built-up areas rather than the countryside.

The Stern review estimates that the costs of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change can be limited to around 1 per cent of global GDP each year. People would pay a little more for carbon-intensive goods, but economies could continue to grow strongly.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dairy firms unite to fight milk critics

Top dairy firms around the world, backed by Britain’s biggest supermarket, will work together to promote the health qualities of milk as concerns rise over a growing anti-dairy league.

A new Global Dairy Forum, established at the recent International Dairy Federation summit, aims to co-ordinate research and promotions to improve dairy products’ image.

Dairy products and especially milk, once the embodiment of a healthy upbringing, have come under threat from several reports and high-profile figures linking them to disorders and diseases.

Bonnie - get ready for the propaganda onslaught!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Target goes organic

Target is launching a private label organics line. Archer Farms organic collection will include a variety of items. Additionally, the produce departments at all Super Targets (140 nationwide), are now certified organic by the USDA.

Dried plums offer natural antioxidant alternatives for meat

"We found that dried plums, when pureed, actually have a very good antioxidant capacity," said lead researcher, Professor Jimmy Keeton, from Texas A&M.

Interest is growing in plant-derived food additives as replacements to synthetic antioxidants like butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) to slow down the oxidative deterioration of food.

Indeed, according to a 2003 report by Frost and Sullivan, the synthetic antioxidant market is in decline, while natural antioxidants, such as herb extracts (particularly rosemary), tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbates (vitamin C) are growing, pushed by easier consumer acceptance and legal requirements for market access.

The new research, funded by the California Dried Plum Board, has looked into the effects of dried plums and plum juice in ready-to-eat meat products, like pre-cooked pork sausages, roast beef and ham, said Keeton, to see which of those products will respond most effectively as antioxidants.

"We found that pre-cooked and uncured products like sausages and roast beef actually respond the best," he said.

Typically, the oxidative deterioration of meat and meat products is caused by the degradation reactions of fats and pigments. Oxidation processes in food can lead to organoleptic deterioration in taste, colour and texture.

Weight gain between pregnancies poses risks

The study, which appeared in the Sept. 30 issue of The Lancet, used the records of more than 150,000 Swedish women who had first and second consecutive births from 1992 through 2001. The researchers calculated body mass index, or BMI, at the beginning of the first pregnancy and at the start of the second.

Compared with women who gained less than one unit of BMI between pregnancies, those who gained three or more were twice as likely to have gestational diabetes, 76 percent more likely to have gestational hypertension, 30 percent more likely to have a Caesarean delivery and 63 percent more likely to have a stillbirth. The more weight they gained, the more likely they were to have an adverse outcome.

Courtesy NY Times

Babies with low iron levels grow up impaired: two studies

Children who had low levels of iron as infants grow up with brain deficiencies -- even if they get early treatment, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

A study of 185 Costa Rican teenagers shows that babies with the worst iron deficiency never recovered on tests of learning, memory and thinking and the poorest of these children worsened as they got older.

The report, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, shows the importance of early nutrition for babies, the researchers said.

"If direct and indirect effects of early iron deficiency on the brain disrupted or delayed basic developmental processes, there could be a snowball effect," said Dr. Betsy Lozoff of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who led the study.

Babies with low iron levels were given supplements but some never got up to normal levels, even though the treatment took care of the worst cases, diagnosed as anemia, in all the infants.

A second study in the same journal found that children who kept drinking cow's milk from bottles past the age of a year were more likely to be iron-deficient than babies the same age who drank from a cup.

Dr. Trenna Sutcliffe of the University of Toronto and colleagues tested 150 healthy children, aged 12 to 38 months, who drank unfortified cow milk.

They found that 37 percent of the bottle-fed babies and 18 percent of the cup-fed children had lower than desired iron levels.

"The bottle may act as a vehicle for excessive milk consumption, which may compromise iron absorption or the intake of iron-rich foods or juices," the researchers wrote.

Courtesy of Maggie Fox, Reuters

Bonnie - this is such an important issue that receives so little attention. Kudos to Maggie for addressing it. Iron is essential for babies neurological growth. Talk to your physician or licensed health professional about how to make sure you are getting enough iron during pregnancy as well as during your baby earliest months of life.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Celiac disease commonly misdiagnosed

Bonnie - I was delighted to see a recent article in USA Today discussing the prevalence of Celiac Disease in Americans. In fact, the National Institutes of Health launched the Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign this summer to educate physicians and the public about the disease, its symptoms, and how it can be detected.

While the NIH believes that one in every 133 Americans has celiac, we feel that may be a modest assessment.

What we do know is that, according to one study, it can take an average of 11 years for patients to receive a diagnosis. People with celiac have higher rates of osteoporosis, certain cancers and infertility. If a family member tests positive, other family members should be tested as well.

One way the NIH suggests testing for celiac are with specific blood tests. However, false negatives are possible. A biopsy of the small intestine is considered the gold standard for diagnosis. A gluten elimination diet is also effective, but difficult to follow for three months.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Teenage girls increase use of diet pills

According to a study found in the journal Preventive Medicine, the use of diet pills almost doubled in a group of 2,500 female adolescents tracked for five years — overall rates of pill use rising from 7.5% to 14%. By the time girls reached ages 19 to 20, nearly 20% reported using diet pills to lose weight.

Teens were tracked in two groups, about half from seventh grade onward, the rest from when they were high school juniors or seniors. Each group increased their use of diet pills over time; the younger group had outpaced the older group by the time they reached their senior year in high school. "There are more pressures to be thin and greater availability of the pills over the counter and on the Internet," says study author Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a professor at the university.

Bonnie - this is not a good day for gauging the health of our younger generations.

The Package May Say Healthy, but This Grocer Begs to Differ

Steve - this is a dynamite New York Times article written by one of our favorite writers, Andrew Martin.

This is a wonderful example of when an independent body rates the quality and nutritional value of grocery foods, the results are sobering. I would anticipate that this will have food manufacturers everywhere cringing!

Fitness machine for child gamers

A machine has been invented to encourage children to work out while they are playing computer games.

The Step2Play step exercise machine links directly to a child's computer games console.

The game's controller will only work if the child keeps up a constant pre-set rate of exercise. Because the system only controls the game's controller, and not the game itself, it can be used with any Playstation game. The game pauses while the controller is inactive.

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of Weight Concern said: "We know children are not as active as they need to be.
Anything that encourages them to exercise has to be helpful. However, how sad that we have to bribe children into physical activity. It's a terrible indictment on our society."

Steve - I empathize with Dr, Campbell. However, with today's blog entry about children's belly fat, we need to pull out all the stops. If this will get more kids to exercise, then so be it.

U.S. children grow bigger bellies: study

American children and teens are growing ever-fatter tummies, a bad sign that means they are at even more risk of heart disease and diabetes, U.S. researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

They found that the belly fat of children and teenagers had increased by more than 65 percent since the 1990s -- directly in line with rising obesity rates. But belly fat is more dangerous than general weight gain, because abdominal and visceral fat -- found surrounding the internal organs -- is more clearly and strongly linked with disease than general body fat.

Catching unhealthy body fat early can help people change their habits before any permanent damage is done. "Kids, teens and adults who have early stages of atherosclerosis in their arteries can have a healthy cardiovascular system again. Older adults who have plaque build-up have a much harder battle, especially if the plaque has calcified," researchers said.

Courtesy - Reuters

Bonnie - this is astonishing because the data compared to the 1990's, which is not very long ago!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Action plan for the food-allergic child

Many parents do not realize that they can and should create a school action plan for their food-allergic child. Here is a website that can help you create one:

Omega-3-rich fish linked to lower prostate cancer risk

The study, published in the November issue of International Journal of Cancer, adds to an ever growing body of science linking omega-3 fatty acids to a wide-range of health benefits.

The Swedish researchers assessed dietary fish intake among 1,499 men with prostate cancer and compared this with dietary intake of 1,130 healthy men in the general Swedish population. Genetic variations in a key enzyme in fatty acid metabolism and inflammation, cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, were also assessed.

Hedelin and her co-workers report that men who ate salmon-type fatty fish at least once a week were associated with a 43 per cent reduction in prostate cancer risk compared to men who never ate fish.

They also found a significant interaction between salmon-type fish intake and a single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in a COX-2 gene carried by 60 per cent of the population. Carriers of the variant allele who ate one or more oily fish servings per week had an associated reduce prostate cancer risk of 72 per cent, while no link was observed among carriers of the more common allele.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

High cholesterol: can it protect against heart failure, not cause it?

The idea that high cholesterol levels cause heart failure and disease may not be accurate, a new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine October 2006, has suggested. Presented at the World Congress of Cardiology, the study goes so far as suggesting that high cholesterol may protect some people from a fatal heart attack.

Researchers found that individuals with high levels of C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) are protected if they also have high cholesterol levels. Those who had high CRP and low cholesterol were almost twice as likely to die from heart failure.

Bonnie - I have been saying for years that there so much more to heart health than just cholesterol.

More evidence for pro, prebiotics preventing eczema

The research, published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, is said to be the first to link the prevalence of eczema to specific gut bacteria, and “thus supporting the important role of commensal bacteria in the pathogenesis of eczema.”

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis (AD), is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is said to be due to delayed development of the immune system.

Infants from 1223 randomized pregnant women showed a 26 per cent reduction in eczema, while atopic eczema was reduced by 34 per cent from a specific probiotic, prebiotic mixture that was adminstered to the women for a two-week period before birth.

The researchers said that continued follow-up on these same infants will show if this effect is maintained later in life, and if any impact on airway allergies such as asthma is observed.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

CSPI says kids food pyramid a flop

The kids' version of the food pyramid is as ineffective as the adult version, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). "My Pyramid for Kids doesn't dare to discourage children from consuming so much soda, fast food, candy, and other junk foods," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Even if MyPyramid for Kids were terrific, there's no strategy to put materials in every classroom in America--they're actually only making them available upon request."

Although the Department of Agriculture trumpets the high traffic at its web site, a search via the web service shows that traffic peaked immediately after the site's launch, and plummeted quickly thereafter.

Instead of relying solely on the Internet, the government should take to the airwaves, according to CSPI. "When McDonald's wants to reach kids, it turns to television advertising first and foremost," said Jacobson. "If government is to improve kids' eating habits it should invest hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertising promoting healthy diets. If such a campaign made even a dent in obesity or diet-related disease, it would be a windfall for American taxpayers."

Bonnie - well said!