Thursday, March 29, 2007

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Highlights - March

  • Increasing protein intake and restricting simple sugar intake in a Polycystic Ovary Syndrome diet was highly significant in reducing symptoms, regulating cortisol, DHEA, insulin levels, and suppressing ghrelin (hunger hormone), thus increasing satiety.

  • It is possible that increases in HDL-cholesterol concentrations may contribute to the suppression of LDL oxidation and that polyphenolic substances derived from cocoa powder may contribute to an elevation in HDL.

  • Coffee abstinence is associated with a lower hypertension risk than is low coffee consumption.

  • Bone growth needs in 1-4 year-old children following American diets are met by a daily calcium intake equivalent to 470mg per day.

  • Iron status is a significant factor in cognitive performance in women of reproductive age. Severity of anemia primarily affects processing speed, and severity of iron deficiency affects accuracy of cognitive function over a broad range of tasks.

  • In the northeastern United States, a higher maternal intake of vitamin D during pregnancy may decrease the risk of recurrent wheeze in early childhood.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, are positively associated with bone mineral accrual, and thus, with peak Bone Mineral Density in young men between 16 and 22 years of age.

  • Critically ill patients in intensive care receiving viable probiotics showed a greater enhancement in immune activity and reduced intestinal permeability than do patients receiving placebo.

  • Zinc supplementation in the elderly reduced the incidence of infection, tumor necrosis factor and oxidiative stress compared to those receiving placebo.

  • Dietary intakes of flavanones, anthocyanidins, and certain foods such as bran, apples, pears, red wine, grapefruit, strawberries, and chocolate were associated with a reduced risk of death due to Coronary Heart Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, and all causes.

  • After identifying three major dietary patterns: the healthy dietary pattern, the Western dietary pattern, and the traditional dietary pattern, subjects in the highest percentage of healthy dietary patterns had the lowest ratio for metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Women in the highest quintile of Western dietary pattern scores had greater odds for metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Corn oil products can claim heart benefit

Manufacturers of corn oil and foods containing the fat can now promote their products as a way to possibly reduce the risk of heart disease, U.S. health regulators said in a letter released on Tuesday. The Food and Drug Administration, responding to a request from ACH Food Companies Inc., said there was enough evidence to support such a qualified claim, as long as consumers were not misled. Its products include Mazola corn oil, Karo light corn syrup and Argo corn starch.

To qualify for new corn oil claim, the agency said products must be low in cholesterol and saturated fat, among other criteria. Pure corn oil as well as vegetable oil blends and spreads, salad dressings, shortenings and certain baked goods containing the oil are eligible for the claim. Those that meet the criteria can say that "very limited and preliminary scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1 tablespoon (16 grams) of corn oil daily may reduce the risk of heart disease due to the unsaturated fat content in corn oil" the FDA said.

Bonnie - just when you think you have seen everything, now this. Let's further confuse the public why don't we. The FDA is lying to the public by approving a heart disease claim for corn oil. Corn oil is not heart-healthy, it is a heart-health antagonist because it is a pure omega-6 fatty acid. The FDA talks about wanting omega-3 to omega-6 ratios to become more in balance? Not with this claim. I would be very interested to see what research that led them to this conclusion. I believe this is yet another example of special interests sticking their nose where it does not belong. Did you notice some of the products ACH makes...awful. Did they consider even putting a disclaimer on corn oil that is from GMO corn? Of course not. Where are the safety studies for GMO corn? There are none.

Government child obesity efforts lacking, say advertisers

Childhood obesity is being comprehensively tackled by all sectors of society, including media, advertising and food companies, but the US government remains lacking in its response, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Speaking at the launch of a new Media and Childhood Obesity task force last week, the ANA's executive vice president Daniel Jaffe said the federal government has not provided adequate funding to promote healthy eating and exercise.

For example, he said, funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity (DNPA) has remained relatively flat for several years, at $41.5 million.

"At that level, the CDC can only fund anti-obesity efforts in 28 states. There are no DNPA funds available for 22 other states, including Kansas, or for Mississippi and Louisiana, which have the highest obesity rates in the country," he told representatives of the government, food industry, public health groups and media organizations.

Steve - why am I not surprised? The government not putting its money where its mouth is? Ugh.

Monday, March 26, 2007

'Dipstick' test could prevent food poisoning

The tool is a disposable dipstick that can detect whether a food is still safe to eat or whether it's a health hazard that could lead to a case of food poisoning. In laboratory tests, the device had a 90 percent accuracy rate. The dipstick is made of special polymers or synthetic materials that change colour in the presence of chemicals formed by disease-causing bacteria, the researchers said in a paper presented at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society. The polymers even change colour to reflect the level of amines and food spoilage. In laboratory tests on fresh salmon, fresh tuna and canned tuna, the dipstick changed from a dark purple to a yellow in the presence of badly spoiled fish, and dark purple to a reddish colour in the presence of mildly spoiled fish. The hope is to market the dipstick as a test kit that consumers could use at home or in restaurants.

Courtesy AFP

Steve - this would be extremely helpful to consumers. Let's get it to market.

Young, fat and facing liver disease

Until the 1990s, no one knew that fatty livers were a problem in children, and now, doctors say, the situation has become serious. A study published in the journal Pediatrics in October 2006 that found evidence that nearly 10% of children between 2 and 19 years old in San Diego County have fatty livers. If that percentage holds throughout the U.S., 6.5 million children are affected.

The data show that fatty livers in children are highly correlated with weight. About 80% of kids with the condition are obese or overweight. Nearly 40% of obese children have fatty livers. Most of them have diabetes or are insulin resistant.

To date, biopsies are the only effective diagnostic test for fatty livers. Diet and exercise are the only effective treatments. And it's a mystery why the condition can be harmless for many, yet dangerous for others.

Courtesy LA Times

Steve - it is not a mystery why some obese children get fatty livers faster than others. It has to do with how their genes are expressed. Regardless of obesity, those children with more of a genetic risk for insulin resistance will develop a fatty liver faster than those will less of a genetic risk.

This emerging trend is a direct indictment on the SAD (Standard American Diet). Excess carbohydrate consumption, especially those with high glycemic index and load, are directly to blame. Processed foods and lack of balanced meals are also major reasons for fatty livers.

Mediterranean diet as good as low-fat one: study

A Mediterranean-style diet high in olive oil and other ''healthy'' fats is just as good as the classic American Heart Association low-fat diet for the 8 million Americans who have suffered a heart attack and want to prevent a repeat, new research suggests.

People on either diet had one-third the risk of suffering another heart attack, a stroke, death or other heart problem compared with heart patients eating in the usual way, the study found.

The results of the study were presented Sunday at an American College of Cardiology conference. The Heart Association and the Mediterranean diet are low in saturated fat (less than 7 percent of total calories) and cholesterol (less than 200 milligrams a day).

Courtesy of AP

Steve - while not surprising that the Mediterranean diet was effective, we can definitively say is that it is far and away the better long-term dietary choice. The AHA diet is brutal. Besides being a diet in healthy fats, the Mediterranean diet is also a low glycemic index diet, to which one expert says that every doctor should advise his patients to adopt to prevent diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

After poring over 20 research studies, David Ludwig from the Children’s Hospital, in Boston, says the key to low glycemic index is differentiating between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates. "Bad" carbohydrates rapidly increase blood glucose levels, including most processed foods, such as breakfast cereals, white bread and white rice, cakes and biscuits, and more surprisingly, perhaps, potatoes (especially fried), and drinks such as beer. Low-GI foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that have not been overly processed, such as brown rice.

Or better yet, just look at our Blood Sugar Balance Action Plan.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Egg info

  • A regular large egg contains about 80 calories, 6.5 grams protein, vitamins A, D, E, and K, and minerals iron, choline, phosphourous, and thiamin.
  • Egg whites never alter blood cholesterol negatively. One egg yolk daily will not alter blood cholesterol. More could potentially raise it.
  • Eggs lose their flavor and their texture changes as they get older, so fresh eggs are best. They absorb odors through their porous shells, so keep them in the carton they come in, not in a refrigerator door egg bin.
  • A fresh egg is harder to peel than an older egg.
  • Research shows free-range eggs are more nutritious and have half the cholesterol of other eggs.

Nutrient risk after weight-loss surgery

According to a study published in the March issue of Neurology, some patients risk brain damage from vitamin B-1 deficiency. Vitain B-1, also known as thiamin, causes a syndrome called Wernicke's encephalopathy. It is most often seen in malnourished alcoholics.

If treated right away with vitamin B-1 shots, patients quickly recover. If not recognized quickly, it can result in permanent brain damage.

Researchers found 32 reports of Wernicke's in the weight-loss surgery patients studied.

FDA's cloned food risk assessment flawed, claims review

The US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) risk assessment on meat and milk from cloned animals is based on virtually no scientific evidence to support, according to an independent review released yesterday by the Center for Food Safety (CFS).

According to the report, FDA found no peer-reviewed studies on meat from cloned cows or on milk or meat from the offspring of cow clones. The group also said the agency found just three peer-reviewed studies on milk from cloned cows, adding that all three studies showed differences in milk from clones that should have prompted further research.

In addition, it noted that there were no peer-reviewed studies on meat from cloned pigs and goats or their offspring.

"FDA's flawed approach falls far short of providing the kind of rigorous scientific assessment that Americans deserve before these experimental animals are allowed into the food supply," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of CFS.

The group added that "despite FDA's claim that there is 'no difference' between food from clones and their progeny and food from naturally-bred animals, most of the studies they reviewed found troubling abnormalities and defects in animal clones which could pose food safety risks".

The report was released during a public comment period on FDA's planned approval of food from cloned animals.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More support that lignans may cut breast cancer risk

High intake of lignans from the diet could reduce the risk of breast cancer by almost 30 per cent, suggests a new epidemiological study from France.

Plant lignans, found widely in plants and seeds, such as flax seed, whole grain cereals, berries, vegetables and fruits, are metabolised in the colon by microflora into enterodiol and enterolactone.

Lignans are well-known phytoestrogens - active substances derived from plants that have a weak oestrogen-like action, and have been linked before to breast health, as well as offering benefits for postmenopausal women.

The new prospective study, published in the March issue of Journal of the National Cancer Institute, investigated the
dietary intakes of four plant lignans using a self-administered diet history questionnaire in 58 049 postmenopausal French women not taking soy isoflavone supplements.

After an average of 7.7 years of follow-up, the researchers documented 1469 breast cancer cases. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, the researchers report that a daily intake greater than 1395 micrograms was associated with a 17 per cent reduction in breast cancer risk, compared to the lowest daily intake.

The inverse associations were limited to ER- and PR-positive breast cancer, said the researchers, with the highest intake of total lignans associated with a 28 per cent reduction of these cancers.

Last year a study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention (Vol. 15, pp. 225-232), reported that women with high plasma levels of enterolactone (above 12.96 nanomoles per litre), linked to high lignan intake, was associated with a 58 per cent reduction of breast cancer risk.

In addition, Lilian Thompson, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, is a world-renowned researcher in the area of lignans. In one of her recent studies published in the Journal Clinical Cancer Research, women with newly diagnosed breast cancer who consumed a daily muffin containing 25 grams -- two tablespoons -- of flaxseed had a significant reduction in tumour growth compared with those who ate muffins containing no seeds. The tumours were measured at the time of diagnosis and then again, at the time of surgery. According to the researchers, the effect of the flax on the cancerous cells was comparable with that seen using chemotherapy -- with no side effects.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Helping kids eat fruits and vegetables

It is a challenge to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables, according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. moms conducted as part of the "Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters" campaign.

In the survey, more than 70% of moms gave their children grades of "A" or "B" for eating fruits and vegetables. But nearly 30% gave their kids and teens grades of "C" or lower for fruit and vegetable consumption.

Those mothers said their children were tempted by other foods and weren't interested in eating fruits and vegetables.

Steve - the Mom's polled in this survey are either delusional or they simply do not know what is considered a fruit or vegetable. The recent CDC findings basically give the US population an F for fruit and vegetable consumption. Here are quick tips to get your kids to eat more vegetables:
  • Set a good example with your own diet! This is the most crucial tip.
  • While shopping, let kids pick a new fruit or vegetable to try.
  • Offer children a choice of fruits and vegetables at EACH meal.
  • Use cut-up vegetables as part of afternoon snacks.
  • Let kids help decide on dinner vegetables or what goes into salads.
  • If children are old enough, let them help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up fruits and vegetables.
  • Do not consider french fries, potato chips, and tomato sauce on pizza vegetables.
  • Be creative with adding fruits/vegetables to dishes whenever possible.
  • Have your kids eat their protein and vegetables before anything else at a meal.

CSPI claims Chinese restaurant food full of nutritional "no-no's"

The typical Chinese restaurant menu is a sea of nutritional no-nos, a consumer group has found.

General Tso's chicken, a battered, fried chicken dish with vegetables: 1,300 calories, 3,200 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of saturated fat. That does not include rice (200 calories a cup) and egg rolls (200 calories and 400 milligrams of sodium).

An appetizer order of six steamed pork dumplings has 500 calories, and there's not much difference, about 10 calories per dumpling, if they're pan-fried.

A plate of stir-fried greens has 900 calories and 2,200 milligrams of sodium. And eggplant in garlic sauce has 1,000 calories and 2,000 milligrams of sodium.

"We were shocked. We assumed the vegetables were all low in calories," said Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which did a report released Tuesday.

Steve - unfortunately, there is no safe harbor from sodium on the Chinese restaurant menu. While many Chinese restaurants claim to add no MSG (monosodium glutamate) to their food, it istill exists because the sauces they use have hidden MSG ingredients. Some helpful suggestions for eating at a Chinese restaurant:
  • Avoid deep-fried meat, seafood or tofu.
  • Order your dishes stir-fried, braised or better-yet, steamed.
  • Try to limit salt by not adding sauce to your dishes. Most sauces such as duck sauce, hot mustard, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce are loaded with sodium.
  • Avoid the appetizers. Stick with the main course.

  • Eat half of what you would normally eat. Chinese food is an enticing opportunity for a "pigout" session. Save the rest for leftovers.
  • Ask for brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Forget the forutne cookie!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cod Liver Oil lowers breast cancer risk in study

Increased vitamin D levels during youth, from the sun and the diet, may reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life by over 30 per cent, suggests a new epidemiological study.

The study,
which appears in the March Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, looked at 972 women with newly diagnose invasive breast cancer and 1,135 randomly selected healthy controls and interviewed to assess vitamin D-related variables, such as sunlight exposure (outdoor activity), cod liver oil intake and milk consumption.

After adjusting for potential confounding factors, Knight and her co-workers found that increased exposure to sunlight during adolescence was associated with the highest protection against breast cancer risk later in life, with a risk reduction 35 per cent.

Significant risk reductions were also observed for increased cod liver oil intake (24 per cent risk reduction), and drinking at least 10 glasses of milk per week was associated with a 38 per cent risk reduction.

"We found strong evidence to support the hypothesis that vitamin D could help prevent breast cancer. However, our results suggest that exposure earlier in life, particularly during breast development, maybe most relevant," concluded the researchers.

The study does have several important limitations, notably being based on recall of dietary habits early in life as well as outdoor exposure, both of which are susceptible to recall errors from the participants.

Steve - while we acknowledge the limitations of this study, the most convincing conclusion can be made from those who supplemented with Cod Liver Oil. While it could be difficult to remember how much sunlight they were exposed to and how much milk they drank, they'd surely remember taking Cod Liver Oil!

Best thing to do when your child has a cold is to wait it out

My younger colleague, a fellow pediatrician, looked and sounded pretty miserable. She had a terrible cold, which was no surprise considering she's exposed to sick kids on a daily basis. I watched her go through boxes of Kleenex and nights with no sleep and wondered if she'd cave in and put herself on a round of antibiotics.The next time I saw her, she was hard at work and looking great. I asked her if she treated herself. She responded with an emphatic "no," explaining that she hated taking antibiotics, and as she expected, was able to clear her cold all by herself, thank you very much.

I congratulated her on sticking to her principles. It's interesting to note that my friend is not alone in her resolve. In a recent study quoted in the pediatric press, medical folk were shown to be far less likely than the general public to seek out antibiotic therapy for their own children. What do they know that some parents still don't get? It's that the vast majority of upper respiratory infections are indeed viral, and antibiotics, while very effective against bacterial infections, are useless against viral illnesses. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids average 8 to 10 colds in their first two years of life - more if they're in day care or exposed to older siblings who attend school. When I see a child with a cold, I tell parents to expect their child's cold to last up to 10 to 14 days. Be prepared for cold symptoms to steadily worsen during the first five to seven days, and then slowly improve for the final five to seven days of the viral illness.

Parents often get hung up on the color of the snot, or nasal discharge as those of us in the medical field like to refer to it. Green discharge does not necessarily mean that an evil bacterium has entered your child's body. As the cold symptoms escalate during the early part of the illness, nasal discharge will characteristically change from watery clear to thick yellow or even green.If a cold is accompanied by ear pain, high fever or respiratory distress, or seems to be lasting a long time with no sign of improvement, then seek medical care. If not, it's best to wait it out, and watch the pattern reverse itself as the nasty nasal discharge becomes thinner and lighter in flow, and eventually disappears.

Do over-the-counter medicines cure your child's cold? The answer is no. If you find one that gives your older child some cold symptom relief, you can use the OTC medication. Be aware, however, that some children and adults do have undesirable side effects with OTC medications, including excessive drowsiness or hyperactivity.Cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine are still available without a prescription, but are now stocked behind the pharmaceutical counter to prevent abuse of the medication. You are now limited in the quantity that you may purchase at any one time, and you must sign and show a driver's license. Lastly, recent reports have emphasized that OTC medications generally should be avoided in children younger than 2 years old. Adverse side effects send approximately 1,500 of these youngest patients to U.S. emergency departments each year, and several infant deaths have been linked to OTC cough-cold preparations.

• Dr. Helen Minciotti is a mother of five and a pediatrician with a practice in Schaumburg. She formerly chaired the Department of Pediatrics at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

Courtesy of The Daily Herlad

Bonnie - it is wonderful to see a physician say this publicly. Per my sinus infection comments, it seems that many doctors may just be caving to their patients' requests. Because if what Dr. Minciotti says is true, many doctors do not use antibiotics on themselves or their kids.

In Testing for Allergies, a Single Shot May Suffice

By Laurie Tarkan
reprinted in full courtesy of NY Times

At the age of 5, Sarah Marcus had her first skin test for allergies. She had 18 needle pricks and screamed from the first to the last. At 8, when she needed to be retested, she was terrified. “It was horrible to see your child so panicked,” said her mother, Ann Marcus, of Watchung, N.J. Because Sarah had severe symptoms that did not respond to allergy medicines like antihistamines and decongestants, she began immunotherapy — regular shots to immunize her body against a host of allergens, among them cats, dust mites and birch pollen. But that was an ordeal, too. During a third round of testing in high school, Sarah had a severe reaction and passed out. When a fourth series was needed to wean her off the shots before college, she refused the needle pricks. At an impasse with the doctor, her mother mentioned that a friend had gotten a blood test for allergies. Her doctor agreed to give it a try. “It was one needle prick and then it was all over,” Mrs. Marcus said.

Some people describe the traditional rounds of test pricks as archaic or inhumane; others are unfazed by them. But few patients are aware that an alternative technique is available: testing the blood for immunoglobulin E, or IgE.

Allergists have typically turned to blood testing as a last resort when skin testing cannot be used. Few in the United States use blood testing routinely, experts say, though it is being used more often to help diagnose food allergies. Yet studies have found that newer blood tests are as sensitive as skin tests and less subjective. The blood test is also part of a larger debate about who should be treating allergy sufferers. Blood testing would allow pediatricians and other primary care doctors to diagnose allergies and treat many patients. But allergists contend that these generalists are not qualified to assess the laboratory results.

Dr. Dean Mitchell, an allergist in Manhattan, has virtually abandoned the skin-prick test. He was converted, he says, after taking a patient to the emergency room for a severe reaction to his skin test. Dr. Mitchell began to imagine a nearly needle-free office. “There’s been a longstanding fear of skin testing, and it turns off a lot of allergy sufferers from getting help,” said Dr. Mitchell, the author of “Allergy and Asthma Solution” (Marlowe, 2006), which advocates oral immunotherapy, or allergy drops, instead of shots. For that reason, he and other experts say, most sufferers never even see an allergist. (And many sufferers of seasonal and pet allergies know what they’re allergic to, so they don’t need a diagnosis.) For them, care has focused on treating symptoms with antihistamines and decongestants, not diagnosing the allergy and avoiding its triggers. “The question is, why aren’t we identifying more children and adults suffering from allergic rhinitis and asthma to help them?” Dr. Mitchell said.

In Europe, 60 percent of asthma patients are tested for allergies, compared with only 5 percent to 10 percent in this country. A lack of diagnosis may contribute to the worsening of symptoms in children — the so-called allergy march. It begins with eczema in infants and toddlers, and progresses to respiratory problems and asthma in preschoolers and beyond. Half of babies who have eczema in the first two years of life will develop asthma in childhood, said Dr. Thomas A. E. Platts-Mills, president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. In skin testing, a practitioner makes rows of pricks on a patient’s back or forearm so allergen-containing extracts can seep into the skin. If the antibody IgE is bound to the immune system’s mast cells in the skin, the patient will get an itchy, hivelike wheal surrounded by redness. The size of the wheal and the diameter of the redness help determine if the patient is allergic. A patient typically gets 15 to 20 skin pricks, but sometimes many more. Because the test comes with a small risk of a serious reaction, it should not be performed in very young children and pregnant women, among others.

The blood test, which is not without its own ouch factor, measures levels of circulating IgE. The lab sends the physician a report with these figures and the patient’s risk of a reaction. The first generation of blood tests were developed in the 1970s. Because they were not considered very sensitive, physicians were left with a lasting impression that blood testing was inferior to skin testing. A more sophisticated test with improved sensitivity, called ImmunoCAP, became available in 1992. It has performed equally well in comparison studies with skin-prick testing, said Dr. Jay M. Portnoy, chief of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

Still, most allergists prefer skin testing. “Skin testing is more sensitive and tells you more,” said Dr. Dean D. Metcalfe, chief of the laboratory of allergic diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. With blood tests, he went on, “you’re not really measuring an allergic reaction, but a potential for a reaction.” Skin testing produces an answer in about 20 minutes, compared with 48 hours for a blood test. The quick turnaround allows doctors to offer a diagnosis and immediate advice. But skin-testing results can vary from one allergist to the next, and most allergists don’t rely on a prior allergist’s results when a patient switches practices.

Some experts contend that allergists resist blood testing in part to protect their revenue. “A barrier to allergy testing in the states has been the economics in our system,” said Dr. Richard G. Roberts, professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. If an allergist does an in-office skin-prick test, he gets the fees for those tests. If he requests a blood test, the laboratory gets the fee.

But others say allergists are simply more familiar with skin testing. “They have been trained to do skin testing, they’re comfortable with it, and they get an answer in 20 minutes,” said Dr. Portnoy. Allergists say some patients previously treated by primary care physicians were taken off foods like peanuts, though they never had an allergic reaction to them. Diagnosing requires a thorough medical history and interpreting the test results within that context; generalists may lack the time to do a complete history, especially under the pressures of managed care. Dr. Roberts says that if primary-care physicians used the blood test, many more patients would be treated appropriately.

While most allergy patients are seen by these generalists, he says, many allergies are not adequately diagnosed. “Could we do a better job collectively?” he asked. “Absolutely.” Some allergists have made the switch to blood testing — especially in the area of food allergies, where blood testing is replacing the so-called food challenge test, a two- to six-hour procedure in which patients are given increasing amounts of suspect foods like egg or milk to determine whether they will have an allergic reaction. Dr. Hugh Sampson, a food allergy expert at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, is seeking to add a level of precision to diagnosis. He correlates levels of specific IgE with a probability that the person is allergic to a food — a technique, he says, that reduces the need for food challenge testing by half. Dr. Mitchell, the Manhattan allergist, called that approach promising. “A lot of academic allergists are very conservative,” he said. “But Hugh Sampson’s work may turn the tide.”

As for Sarah Marcus, starting last summer she was weaned from allergy shots so she would no longer need them when she went away to college, at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been shot-free and allergy-free since Thanksgiving. “All in all,” said her mother, “if I could go back, if I had a 2-year-old now, I’d never put her through the skin testing."

Bonnie - hats off to Laurie for writing this piece. Many allergists are living in the dark ages. We have been recommending allergy testing by blood for over a decade. Our most trusted allergist, Dr. Robert Boxer, has been doing so for over twenty years (conservatively). Of course, the piece could have gone further by discussing IgG cytotoxic reactions, which are much more common and affect many more people, but this is a start.

Like many allopathic modalities, change is difficult, especially when it affects a particular revenue source. As the article alluded to, it is much more profitable for an allergist to do skin-prick than blood. What they do not realize is that many more patients would see an allergist if the methods were more effective and less daunting. If allergists could see 60 percent of allergy sufferers in the US instead of 5-10 percent, they could make more money than they are making now.

Too Many Antibiotics Prescribed For Sinus Infections

According to a study published in the March issue of Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, by Hadley J. Sharp and colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, antibiotics were prescribed for 82 per cent of acute sinus infections and nearly 70 per cent of chronic sinus infections.

This is surprising because most sinus infections are caused by viruses, and antibiotics only kill bacteria.

Bonnie - BINGO! It's amazing that they finally admitted it. It is unconscionable that doctors are still doing this given the fact that there has been so much emphasis on the over-prescribing of antibiotics. Are doctors ignoring this because they are afraid to say no to patients or is it just easier to prescribe an antibiotic than treat the cause? What the study didn't mention is that sinus infections, based upon research done at the Mayo Clinic, are often fungal as well.

In 2002, of all the antibiotic prescriptions that year in the US, 21 per cent were for adults with sinus infections and 9 per cent was for children.

They concluded that "Prescription antibiotic drugs are being used far more than bacterial causes studies would indicate."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Parents 'don't recognize obesity'

The British government is launching a plan to tackle obesity by helping parents recognize the warning signs that their children are overweight. It follows a claim by the Medical Research Council that many people do not know their children are overweight.

he Human Nutrition Research Unit's review of the evidence showed people have a poor perception of their own weight status and are even worse at spotting when their child is overweight or obese. Busy lifestyles, irregular working hours and fears that having a healthy lifestyle is too difficult to achieve also put people off healthy choices.

According to the report, average time spent preparing meals has fallen from two hours to just 20 minutes over the past two decades. And safety concerns prevent children being allowed to walk to school or play outside. One of the biggest problems facing parents is their child's willingness to accept new foods. Trying to coax children to eat healthily often takes a backseat to trying to have a pleasant mealtime, said the researchers. While more than 40% of children over the age of six choose their evening meal, they lack the skills to choose wisely.

Steve - it is encouraging to see that the British government is realizing that parents need to be galvanized. We need to do the same thing here.

Serious concerns raised over Monsanto GM maize variety

Monsanto's genetically modified maize MON863, authorised for human consumption since 2006, showed signs of liver and kidney toxicity in a rat study, raising concerns about its safety.

The study, performed by French researchers from the independent CRIIGEN (Committee for Independent Research and Genetic Engineering), based at the University of Caen reports that rats fed the maize for three months showed signs of liver and kidney toxicity, as well as differences in weight gain between the sexes.

"Our counter-evaluation show that there are signs of toxicity and that nobody can say scientifically and seriously that consumption of the transgenic maize MON863 is safe and good for health," lead author of the study, Professor Gilles Eric Séralini told France's TF1 television station.

MON863 is a transgenic maize genetically modified to express the Bt-toxin (Cry3Bb1) which enables the plant to be insect repellent against the corn rootworm pest. It is different from other GM corns of the market since these express the Cry1Ab toxin which is toxic to the European corn borer.

The study, published on-line in the peer-review journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, fed young adult Sprague-Dawley-derived rats (aged six weeks at the start of the experiment) diets containing 11 or 30 per cent MON863, or diets containing non-GM corn for 90 days.

At the end of the study, Séralini and his team found signs of toxicity in the liver and kidneys of rats fed the MON863 maize, as well as changes to weight between the sexes. Indeed, male rats were found to have lost, on average, 3.3 per cent of their body weight, while females gained 3.7 per cent.

Triglyceride levels also increased by between 24 and 40 per cent in females, phosphorous and sodium excretion decreased in males.

The researchers raised concerns over the methods used by Monsanto to initially show the safety and non-toxicity of the corn, saying that the statistical methods used were insufficient to observed any possible disruptions in biochemistry.

The mechanism behind the apparent toxicity is not known, but there is some evidence that the Bt-toxin may perforate blood cells, they said.

"Considering that the human and animal populations could be exposed at comparable levels to this kind of food or feed that has been authorised by several countries, and that these are the best mammalian toxicity tests available, we strongly recommend a new assessment and longer exposure of mammals to these diets, with cautious clinical observations, before concluding that MON863 is safe to eat," concluded the researchers.

Environmental group Greenpeace has demanded an immediate and complete recall of MON863 from the global market, and also called on an urgent reassessment of all other authorised GM foods by governments.

"It is the first time that independent research, published in a peer-review journal, proves that a GMO authorised for human consumption presents signs of toxicity," said Arnaud Apoteker from Greenpeace France.

"We must review urgently the authorisation of MON863, even more so because we do not know is this maize is present in the French market and if it is used for animal feed or for producing foods destined for humans."

Monsanto France has rejected the concerns. Yann Fichet, Monsanto France's director of external relations told TF1: "[MON863] has already been examined by competent authorities and scientific experts in more than 10 countries worldwide, including the European Union and France, and all the experts concluded unanimously that the maize in question is as safe as traditional maize."

The corn is authorised in Australia, Canada, China, the EU, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and the USA.

Courtesy of

Steve - given its history, may I suggest the possibility that Monsanto did not do their due diligence with regard to proper safety before this GMO corn was launched? Once again, we will have another "wait and see" because it is already in the food supply.

Association between cancer and abnormally high blood suagr

In a study of 65,000 subjects that appeared in the March issue of Diabetes Care, risk of cancer was 26 percent higher for women with high fasting blood sugar as opposed to the lowest. For men and women, high fasting glucose was significantly associated with an increased risk of cancer of the pancreas, endometrium, urinary tract and malignant melanoma.

Bonnie - we have said this for years. Cancer cells feed and proliferate on sugar and excess carbohydrates. My first order of business when seeing clients with cancer is to get them to stop consuming sugar!

Frito-Lay Debuts New Snacks

Ramping up its health and wellness platform, the Plano, Texas, snack maker has introduced three new items that bear the Smart Spot (healthy items that conform to health standards set by leading public health organizations such as the FDA and National Academy of Sciences) symbol on-pack, including Baked Tostitos Scoops!, Tostitos All Natural Picante Sauce, and the first 100-calorie portion control SKU's of Oh Boy! Oberto jerky in both beef and turkey flavors.

Steve - the ingredients in the Scoops and Picante Sauce are at least preservative-free, yet cannot be considered "healthy." The jerky products are a disaster:

Beef Jerky
Beef, corn syrup, dextrose, contains less than 2% of hydrolyzed corn & soy protein, salt, flavorings, Natural smoke flavor, water, vinegar, sugar, molasses, sodium erythrobate, caramel color, citric acid, and sodium nitrite.

For those of you scoring at home...

6 kinds of sugar
4 kinds of sodium
7 artificial ingredients

Turkey Jerky
Ingredients: Turkey breast, brown sugar, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), dextrose, contains flavorings, water, natural smoke flavor, vinegar, salt, sugar, molasses, caramel color, citric acid.

4 kinds of sugar

2 kinds of sodium
3 artificial ingredients

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nutritional Concepts Honored as One of 25 Best Small Companies


These women- and family-friendly businesses are proving that even the smallest companies can offer big benefits

New York, NY (March 14, 2007)—Working Mother magazine today announced that Nutritional Concepts, Inc. is a 2007 Working Mother Best Small Company. Launched in 2006, the Working Mother Best Small Companies initiative honors businesses with between five and 100 employees that are using innovative combinations of traditional and creative benefits to improve work/life balance.

“Nutritional Concepts is exceptional for its commitment to working mothers, and Working Mother commends it for providing a model to small businesses across the country,” said Carol Evans, CEO of Working Mother Media. “The common misconception is that small companies can’t afford to provide generous employee benefits, but these innovators are proving that working mom-friendly policies and financial success go hand in hand.” “I congratulate Nutritional Concepts for recognizing that helping moms balance work and family is a worthy and rewarding endeavor,” added Suzanne Riss, Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother magazine.

Profiled in the April issue of Working Mother magazine, Nutritional Concepts is celebrated for creating a work environment that is especially hospitable to all women, including working mothers. In using family-friendly policies, including flextime, childcare and telecommuting, to promote employee satisfaction and achievement, the Working Mother Best Small Companies are changing the way America does business.

"Since 1985, Nutritional Concepts has strived to be a market leader when it comes to serving its clients and staff," says owner Bonnie Minsky. "We are deeply proud and humbled by this award. It is validation that our goal to improve the lives of our clients as well as our staff is worthwhile."

Working Mother readers nominated small companies with family-friendly benefits and a culture that helps employees balance their work and family needs. Companies were required to have between five and 120 employees. Editors scored more than 250 entries based primarily on three areas of emphasis: work/life benefits, entrepreneurial spirit and programs to help women advance The complete list of the 2007 Working Mother Best Small Companies can be found at

About Working Mother Magazine
Founded in 1979, Working Mother magazine reaches nearly 3 million readers and is the only national magazine for career-committed mothers. Its 21-year signature initiative, Working Mother 100 Best Companies, is the most important benchmark for work/life practices in corporate America. The publication also releases the annual list of the Best Companies for Women of Color in the June issue. Working Mother is published by Working Mother Media (WMM), which also owns the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), NAFE Magazine, the annual 100 Best Companies WorkLife Congress, as well as the Best Companies for Women of Color Multicultural Conference and regional Town Halls. In 2006, WMM acquired Diversity Best Practices and the Business Women’s Network, making Working Mother Media the largest media company in the country focused on diversity and the advancement of women.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bonnie's Easter Recipes

Best Baked Ham
-imported boiled Polish ham (center cuts), pre-cooked, 2 lbs.

-8 to 12 whole cloves

-1 cup crushed pineapple in juice, drained-1/4 cup pure maple syrupPlace cloves (8-12) into top of ham scored in a diamond pattern. Pour crushed pineapple and maple syrup over ham. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until glaze forms. Baste often. SERVES: 8

Nutty Sweet Potato Casserole
-4 medium sweet potatoes

-1 T. unsulphured molasses or pure maple syrup

-3/4 cup crushed canned pineapple in juice, drained

-1 T. whipped butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (optional)

-1 tsp. cinnamon

-1/4 tsp. nutmeg and allspice

-1/4 cup chopped, raw pecans (optional)

Boil or bake scrubbed sweet potatoes until soft. Remove skin and cut potatoes into chunks. Heat sweetener with optional fat until bubbly. Blend all ingredients in a food
processor (except pecans) until mashed thoroughly. Put into a greased casserole and sprinkle pecans on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min., uncovered. Serves: 8

Easter Bunny Cake with Fluffy Frosting

Set the oven at 350 degrees. Use a large cake pan in a rabbit shape. Sift together into a mixing bowl:

-1¼ c. unbleached organic all-purpose flour

-1 cup oat flour

-3/4 cup raw sugar


-1/2 cup cold pressed canola oil

-1 T. whipped organic butter

-1/2 cup organic skim milk

Stir until flour is dampened, then beat 2 minutes.

-2 whole eggs

Beat 2 minutes longer. Pour in greased pan. Bake about 30 minutes. Remove from pan when slightly cooled.

Decorate with:

Fluffy Icing


-1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
Add gradually, beating constantly:

-1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
Beat until stiff:

-2 pasteurized egg whites

Beat in gradually:-1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted Flavor with vanilla.
Add raisins and other dried fruits to decorate the face and ears.

SERVES: 8 (1 slice or 1/8 cake serving)

Bonnie's Passover Recipes

Chicken Soup

1 large organic or kosher stewing chicken, rinsed and cut into pieces (leave skin on)

2 boxes (64 oz.) Pacific Foods chicken broth

3 quarts water

1 large bunch fresh parsley, whole

1 bag baby carrots

6-8 large stalks celery, cut in half, leaves on

2 large white or yellow onions (1 cut into quarters; 1 diced)

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. white pepper

1 T. fresh dill

Cook all for 2 ½ - 3 hours. Strain all. Put back any baby carrots that remain whole. FREEZE.

Nana’s Meatballs

1 (8 oz.) jar grape all- fruit spread (Smucker’s grape)

1 bottle chili sauce (preferably homemade brand or Grandma’s)

½ cup water

2 T. fresh lemon juice

2 lb. organic ground round or sirloin (free range, organic)

1 organic egg or 2 egg whites, beaten

½ cup oats (1 minute quick-cooking)

sea salt

½ tsp. onion powder or onion salt

Combine first four ingredients and simmer for one ½ hour or more. Mix meat with remaining ingredients and shape into small balls. Add to simmering sauce in small quantities. Add a few at a time to the sauce. Cook thirty minutes more. Cool and FREEZE.

Passover Kugel

3 ½ cups matzoh farfel

5 eggs

½ cup raw sugar

½ cup Sucanat (dry cane juice- brown sugar substitute)

-1 Fuji apple, peeled and grated

1 stick organic butter, melted

1 cup nonfat or organic yogurt

1 cup organic sour cream

large (17 oz. can) apricot halves

1 cup yellow raisins

Pour boiling water over 3 cups matzoh farfel in a colander. Let drain. Soak raisins in hot water for 20 minutes and drain. In a food processor, blend 5 eggs, ½ cup raw sugar, apple, butter, yogurt, sour cream, and juice of apricots. Place matzoh processed mixture and drained raisins into a greased 9x13 pyrex dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place apricot halves on top of kugel. Make topping.


Mix together-

1 T. organic butter

½ cup matzoh farfel

½ cup Sucanat

Brown all in a nonstick frying pan. Sprinkle topping over apricot matzoh mixture. Bake for one hour. Cool for 10 minutes, then slice. May be made the day before and reheated in the microwave.

Supplement combo aids those at risk for AMD

Researchers from an NIH-funded study that appeared in the March issue of Archives of Opthamology suggest that persons older than 55 years found to be at risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration should consider taking a supplement of antioxidants plus zinc. Compared to placebo, the 3640 subjects used in the study demonstrated a statistically significant odds reduction.

Participants received daily oral tablets containing:
Vitamin C, 500mg
Vitamin E, 400IU
Beta Carotene, 15 mg
Zinc, 80 mg
Copper, 2 mg

The researchers did mention that smokers should consult with their physicians whenever taking high-dose beta carotene.

Bonnie - what you see in the media regarding this study is the fact that a beta carotene supplement alone did not reduce the risk of AMD. However, the real positive result, while hardly groundbreaking, is that antioxidants in combination with certain vitamins and minerals work prevent AMD. This study did not even include selenium, which packs even more eye-preventative powers. In addition, on a long-term basis, I never recommend taking more than 50 mg. zinc in supplement form.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Chemicals May Play Role in Rise in Obesity

By Elizabeth Grossman
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, March 12, 2007

Too many calories and too little exercise are undeniably the major factors contributing to the obesity epidemic, but several recent animal studies suggest that environmental exposure to widely used chemicals may also help make people fat.

The evidence is preliminary, but a number of researchers are pursuing indications that the chemicals, which have been shown to cause abnormal changes in animals' sexual development, can also trigger fat-cell activity -- a process scientists call adipogenesis.

The chemicals under scrutiny are used in products from marine paints and pesticides to food and beverage containers. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one chemical, bisphenol A, in 95 percent of the people tested, at levels at or above those that affected development in animals.

These findings were presented at last month's annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A spokesman for the chemical industry later dismissed the concerns, but Jerry Heindel, a top official of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), who chaired the AAAS session, said the suspected link between obesity and exposure to "endocrine disrupters," as the chemicals are called because of their hormone-like effects, is "plausible and possible."

Bruce Blumberg, a developmental and cell biologist at the University of California at Irvine, one of those presenting research at the meeting, called them "obesogens" -- chemicals that promote obesity.

Blumberg began to suspect a link while trying to pinpoint how one endocrine disrupter, tributyltin, affects genetic mechanisms in the reproductive system. Tributyltin is used as a marine and agricultural fungicide, an antimicrobial agent in industrial water systems, and in plastics; it can cause serious sexual abnormalities in marine animals.

"What we discovered," Blumberg said, is that tributyltin disrupted genetic interactions that regulate fat-cell activity in animals. "Exposure to tributyltin is increasing the number of fat cells, so the individual will get fatter faster as these cells produce more of the hormones that say 'feed me,'" Blumberg said. The exposed animals, he added, remain predisposed to obesity for life.

Retha R. Newbold, a developmental biologist at the NIEHS, has seen similar lifetime effects in her work with diethylstilbestrol (DES), a potent synthetic estrogen she has studied for 30 years.

Whether its effects include promoting obesity has yet to be determined, but its effects on animal metabolism -- it is also used to fatten livestock -- are similar to those caused by bisphenol A, a chemical most people now encounter daily.

"Exposure to bisphenol A is continuous," said Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri at Columbia. Bisphenol A is an ingredient in polycarbonate plastics used in many products, including refillable water containers and baby bottles, and in epoxy resins that line the inside of food cans and are used as dental sealants. In 2003, U.S. industry consumed about 2 billion pounds of bisphenol A.

Researchers have studied bisphenol A's effects on estrogen function for more than a decade. Vom Saal's research indicates that developmental exposure to low doses of bisphenol A activates genetic mechanisms that promote fat-cell activity. "These in-utero effects are lifetime effects, and they occur at phenomenally small levels" of exposure, vom Saal said.

Research into the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on obesity has been done only in laboratory animals, but the genetic receptors that control fat cell activity are functionally identical across species. "They work virtually the same way in fish as they do in rodents and humans," Blumberg said. "Fat cells are an endocrine organ."

Bonnie - they can take as many "next steps" as they want to study this. Chemical exposure contributing to obesity is a reality, period. Simply, it is very difficult to eliminate the toxic load that we ingest on a daily basis. So our bodies' create as much adipose (fat) tissue as possible to encapsulate the toxins. Hence, weight gain.

I want to clarify that this is one of many reasons why humans become overwieght/obese.

Nutritional Concepts publishes Optimal Pregnancy Action Plan

Drawing upon the hundreds of successful pregancies under the nutritional guidance of Bonnie Minsky, MA, MPH, LDN, CNS, Nutritional Concepts has created the Optimal Pregnancy Action Plan.

It is the perfect segue from a successful implementation of Bonnie's previously published Natural Fertility Action Plan. 95% of all birth defects can be prevented through optimal pregnancy preparation. Bonnie's easy-to-understand Optimal Pregnancy Action Plan is a mix of do's and don'ts, the latest research, and common questions and concerns to prepare your child optimally for life's journey.

Take a Sneak Peek or purchase here.

For more information about Bonnie and her company, Nutritional Concepts, Inc., go to

Health costs to surge, right in line with drug sales

Bonnie - two prominent headlines caught my eye last week. According to the CDC, the cost for caring for aging Americans will add 25 percent to the nation's health care bill by 2030 unless preventive measures are taken. In addition, reports that U.S. Prescription drug sales rose by 8.3 percent last year shows that prevention is obviously not a priority.

Currently, 80 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have at least one chronic disease that could lead to premature death and disability. That is an astonishing number. With drug sales to increase at a 6 to 9 percent clip through 2010, our health care costs will continue to skyrocket as more Americans add more medications not just to treat their chronic disease, but also treat the mounting side effects from drug overload.

As I have said many times, chronic disease can be managed if one gets to the root of the cause. This takes a lot of hard work at the start, and a ton of prevention going forward. How dire will things get before we kick the proverbial band-aid approach?

Child medicine additive concern

Medicines for babies and young children frequently contain additives banned from foods and drinks aimed at under-threes, research shows. The Food Magazine examined 41 medicines aimed at the under-threes, and found only one was free of the additives. No colors or sweeteners are allowed in foods and drinks for the under-threes and most preservatives are banned. The manufacturers of medicines for the under-threes have insisted their products are safe.

The survey found four dye colorings, eight benzoate and two sulphite preservatives, and six sweeteners contained in the products examined. Preservatives were present in all but 10, and sweeteners in all but four of the medicines surveyed.

Courtesy of BBC News

Friday, March 09, 2007

Ethanol-driven feed costs cut US meat output-USDA

High feed costs, created by the explosive growth of the fuel ethanol industry, will lower U.S. beef and broiler chicken output this year by a quarter billion lbs from earlier forecasts, the U.S. government said on Friday. Cattle, hog and poultry feeders say abrupt increases in feed costs -- predominantly corn -- are squeezing their operations.

The USDA said "relatively high grain prices will encourage cattle to remain on grass longer" and result in lower beef production.

Bonnie - could this be a blessing in disguise? Did I actually hear that cattle will HAVE to remain on grass longer? They should stay on grass is what they should be eating!!

The shortfall in meat and broilers can be easily remedied...go from supersized portion size to normal portion size!

Vitamin D level reassessment high priority

International agencies should reassess as a matter of high priority dietary recommendations for vitamin D, experts have said, because current advice is outdated and puts the public at risk of deficiency.

Fifteen experts from universities, research institutes, and university hospitals around the world, led by Reinhold Vieth from Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital wrote in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "We call for international agencies such as the Food and Nutrition Board and the European Commission's Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General to reassess as a matter of high priority their dietary recommendations for vitamin D, because the formal nationwide advice from health agencies needs to be changed."

"The balance of the evidence leads to the conclusion that the public health is best served by a recommendation of higher daily intakes of vitamin D. Relatively simple and low-cost changes, such as increased food fortification or increasing the amount of vitamin D in vitamin supplement products, may very well bring about rapid and important reductions in the morbidity associated with low vitamin D status," they said.

Let's finally put this to rest

Many of you are shocked when I recommend Uncle Ben's Original Converted Rice because you think it is just white rice. Let's clarify that it is not your run-of-the-mill white rice.

Converted rice, invented by Uncle Ben's, is unhulled rice that's been soaked in hot water, steamed, and dried. The husks are then removed and the rice is milled. From this process, the grains retain 80% of their vitamins, but are stripped of most of their starch, making the rice less sticky and lowers the glycemic load.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Omega-3s boost bone mass in young men

Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are linked to increased bone build up in young men, says a new study.

The new study adds to previous research reported that diets with a low ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids may minimize bone loss. Indeed, the new study, published in the current issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also reports that higher ratios of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids was negatively associated with bone build up during these formative years.

The researchers, led by Magnus Högström, recruited 78 healthy young men from high schools and sports clubs with an average age of 16.7 at the start of the study.

"Our key finding was a positive association between n-3 fatty acids and Bone Mineral Density of the total body and spine and the accumulation of BMD at the spine between 16 and 22 years of age in this cohort of healthy young men," said the researchers.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Trans Fat Fight Claims Butter as a Victim

Wholesale bakers are being forced to substitute processed fats like palm oil and margarine for good old-fashioned butter because of the small amounts of natural trans fat butter contains.

Some researchers believe that the trans fat that occurs naturally in butter, meat, milk and cheese might actually be healthy. But to satisfy companies that want to call their foods completely free of trans fats, bakers like Mr. Reich are altering serving sizes, cutting back on butter and in some cases using ingredients like trans fat-free margarine.

Starbucks, which sells millions of baked goods a day at its 8,700 United States stores, has asked all of the bakers who provide its pastries to eliminate any trace of trans fat by the end of the year. The change has already happened in Washington and Oregon. California bakers are reworking recipes this month to try to meet a Starbucks deadline.

“For us, it’s easier for the customer to walk in and see zero grams trans fat than zero grams artificially created trans fat,” said Brandon Borman, a company spokesman.

The focus on removing trans fat has centered on the kind created by partial hydrogenation, which turns liquid oil into a solid fat like shortening that adds creaminess and shelf life to commercial baked goods and, for home cooks, makes a flaky pie crust. Trans fat is also created when certain inexpensive and sturdy oils are heated in deep-fat fryers.

The F.D.A. decided not to distinguish between the two fats, and requires all trans fat amounts to be labeled if there is a half a gram or more per serving. The half-gram mark is in part because it would be impossible to rid the nation’s diet of the natural trans fat in meats and dairy products.

Bonnie - this is a problem. The focus of the trans fat campaign was aimed at the artificial kind, such as hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated. The natural trans fat in meat and dairy products, called conjugated linoleic acid, is healthy in small amounts. Starbucks made a mistake with the "0 trans fat" policy. I know a baker who works with them could not use butter in reformulating his product because of this rule. The New York ban did it correctly: they prohibited artifical trans fat, not natural.

Makers of Sodas Try a New Pitch: They’re Healthy

NY Times

Healthy soda? That may strike some as an oxymoron. But for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, it’s a marketing opportunity. In coming months, both companies will introduce new carbonated drinks that are fortified with vitamins and minerals: Diet Coke Plus and Tava, which is PepsiCo’s new offering. They will be promoted as “sparkling beverages.” The companies are not calling them soft drinks because people are turning away from traditional soda, which has been hurt in part by publicity about its link to obesity.

Coca-Cola’s chief executive, E. Neville Isdell, clearly frustrated that his industry has been singled out in the obesity debate, insisted at a recent conference that his diet products should be included in the health and wellness category because, with few or no calories, they are a logical answer to expanding waistlines. “Diet and light brands are actually health and wellness brands,” Mr. Isdell said. Tom Pirko, president of Bevmark, a food and beverage consulting firm, said it was “a joke” to market artificially sweetened soft drinks as healthy, even if they were fortified with vitamins and minerals. Research by his firm and others shows that consumers think of diet soft drinks as “the antithesis of healthy,” he said. These consumers “comment on putting something synthetic and not natural into their bodies when they consume diet colas,” Mr. Pirko said. “And in the midst of a health and welfare boom, that ain’t good.”

The new fortified soft drinks earned grudging approval from Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group and frequent critic of regular soft drinks, which it has labeled “liquid candy.” “These beverages are certainly a lot better than a regular soft drink,” he said. But he was quick to add that consumers were better off getting their nutrients from natural foods, rather than fortified soft drinks.

Tava, the new drink, will be lightly carbonated and offer exotic flavors. It will contain vitamins B3, B6 and E, and chromium. Diet Coke Plus — which will contain niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium and zinc — “is right for a certain group of consumers,” she said. While it is too soon to know whether consumers will buy the idea of a vitamin-fortified diet soda, soft drink companies are trying to find other ways to reposition their products as healthy. For instance, all of the major soft drink companies are furiously trying to develop a no-calorie natural sweetener to allay concerns about artificial sweeteners. “I think it is the holy grail,” said Ms. Hudson of Pepsi-Cola. “But it has to taste great.”

Steve - I know that most of you who read this blog do not buy the hype on these products. A few amazing comments in this article must be commented on.
  1. Coke's CEO crying foul about how soft drinks are being singled out on the obesity debate: for shame. Their products have been poisoning us for decades. We really feel for you Mr. Isdell. The fact that he wants his no calorie soft drinks to be considered healthy is laughable: "fat" chance Mr. Isdell. I am hoping that the public has become savvy enough that it can see through the marketing and understand that an artificial product, even with added vitamins and minerals, is not healthy.

  2. Shame on Michael Jacobson. His organization, CSPI, has done so much for consumers over the years. However, if this article is quoting him correctly, he made an error supporting no calorie beverages. Dietary experts can tell you that consuming "no calorie" artificial beverages, such as the aforementioned, can put on pounds. Toxins that cannot be excreted from the body settle in adipose (fatty) tissue. The more toxins you ingest, the more fatty tissue must be created.

  3. The soft drink companies have been searching for that natural, no calorie, "holy grail" sweetener. It already exists. It is called stevia.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Two meds come under fire.

Panel: Aspirin adds to colon cancer risk

People at average risk for colon cancer shouldn't take aspirin or painkillers like ibuprofen to try to prevent the disease, a federal task force advises, because of the risk of bleeding and other potential health problems. The recommendation for the first time by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force includes those with a family history of colorectal cancer. The panel said that potential risks of taking more than 300 milligrams a day of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen — brand names include Motrin, Advil and Aleve — include a higher risk for stroke, intestinal bleeding or kidney failure. Those risks outweigh the potential benefits of preventing cancer, the task force said in Tuesday's issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Courtesy AP

Bonnie - as I have said for years, depending on the individual, aspirin can be extremely beneficial or extremely detrimental.

Tamiflu side effect concerns grow after Japan deaths

Concerns that the influenza drug Tamiflu -- seen as effective against a possible pandemic triggered by bird flu -- may induce fatal side effects are growing in Japan after two people who took it fell to their deaths last month. The deaths, the latest cases of abnormal behavior by those who took Tamiflu, prompted the Health Ministry to issue a warning last week that influenza patients could show psychiatric problems, although it has denied the drug was responsible for them. But the move was too little too late, said a group whose members say they are victims of Tamiflu side effects, which came to light in Japan in 2005 after 12 children died and 32 experienced abnormal behavior after taking the drug.

According to the Health Ministry, 54 people have died so far after taking Tamiflu, and in February, a 14-year-old girl and a boy fell to their deaths from their apartment homes in separate incidents after taking the drug. Neither had left a suicide note. Countries around the world are stockpiling the antiviral drug in case of a human influenza pandemic that experts fear could be sparked by the H5N1 bird flu virus. In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided to require Roche to put a caution on Tamiflu labels urging close monitoring for abnormal behavior, such as delirium, although it said it was unknown if the drug contributed to the psychiatric problems.

Courtesy Reuters

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cattle Antibiotic Moves Forward Despite Fears of Human Risk

Steve - below is almost the entire piece. It is unconscionable that we are going down this road again after the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics were removed from chickens several years ago. The most horrible thing about this is that once the fourth generation of antibiotics are gone, it's not like there is much in the pipeline. Pharmaceutical companies have not put much effort into discovering new antibiotics because it is not fiscally viable. While antibiotics are completely misused, they do serve a purpose. If that last line of defense is rendered useless, then many will suffer because of it.

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 4, 2007

The FDA is on track to approve a new antibiotic to treat a pneumonia-like disease in cattle, despite warnings from health groups and a majority of the agency's own expert advisers that the decision will be dangerous for people.The drug, called cefquinome, belongs to a class of highly potent antibiotics that are among medicine's last defenses against several serious human infections. No drug from that class has been approved in the United States for use in animals.The American Medical Association and about a dozen other health groups warned the Food and Drug Administration that giving cefquinome to animals would probably speed the emergence of microbes resistant to that important class of antibiotics, as has happened with other drugs. Those super-microbes could then spread to people. Echoing those concerns, the FDA's advisory board last fall voted to reject the request by InterVet Inc. of Millsboro, Del., to market the drug for cattle.Yet by all indications, the FDA will approve cefquinome this spring.

That outcome is all but required, officials said, by a recently implemented "guidance document" that codifies how to weigh the threats to human health posed by proposed new animal drugs. The wording of "Guidance for Industry #152" was crafted within the FDA after a long struggle. In the end, the agency adopted language that, for drugs like cefquinome, is more deferential to pharmaceutical companies than is recommended by the World Health Organization. Cefquinome's seemingly inexorable march to market shows how a few words in an obscure regulatory document can sway the government's approach to protecting public health.

Industry representatives say they trust Guidance #152's calculation that cefquinome should be approved. "There is reasonable certainty of no harm to public health," Carl Johnson, InterVet's director of product development, told the FDA last fall. Others say Guidance #152 makes it too difficult for the FDA to say no to some drugs."The industry says that 'until you show us a direct link to human mortality from the use of these drugs in animals, we don't think you should preclude their use,' " said Edward Belongia, an epidemiologist at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin. "But do we really want to drive more resistance genes into the human population? It's easy to open the barn door, but it's hard to close the door once it's open."The FDA knows how hard it can be to close that door. In the mid-1990s, overriding the objections of public health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the drug agency approved the marketing of two drugs, Baytril and SaraFlox, for use in poultry. Both are fluoroquinolones, a class of drugs important for their ability to fight the bioterror bacterium that causes anthrax and a food-borne bacterium called campylobacter, which causes a serious diarrheal disease in people.Before long, doctors began finding fluoroquinolone-resistant strains of campylobacter in patients hospitalized with severe diarrhea. When studies showed a link to poultry, the FDA sought a ban. But while Abbott Laboratories, which made SaraFlox, pulled its product, Baytril's manufacturer, Bayer Corp., pushed back."They fought this tooth and nail. It took years," said Kirk Smith, an epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health. Finally, late in 2005, Bayer gave up, but not before fluoroquinolone resistance had spread even further.

Cefquinome is a fourth-generation cephalosporin, the most recent of several steadily improving versions of the cephalosporin family of antibiotics. Only one medicine from that family has been approved in the United States -- a powerful human drug called cefepime (brand name Maxipime), which is the only effective treatment for serious infections in cancer patients and a reliable lifesaver against several other nearly invincible infections.

InterVet developed cefquinome to treat bovine respiratory disease, the most common disease in cattle. Recognizing the potential public health implications of using a close cousin of cefepime in animals, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, which oversees animal drug approvals, convened its expert advisers in September. One of the first things the group learned was that more than a dozen medicines are already on the market for the respiratory syndrome, and all are still effective."If we have no susceptibility problem, why do we need one more new drug?" asked James E. Leggett Jr., a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, whom the FDA brought in as a consultant on the cefquinome question. The panel also learned that the disease would be a relatively minor issue but for the stressful conditions under which U.S. cattle are raised, including high-density living spaces and routine shipment on crowded trains for hundreds or thousands of miles. Those "production dynamics" suppress the animals' immune systems, explained feedlot consultant Kelly Lechtenberg of Oakland, Neb., and virtually guarantee that bovine respiratory disease will be a major problem.Yet Stephen Sundlof, head of the FDA's Veterinary Medicine Center, told the panel members that under agency rules they should ignore those issues and consider only the language in Guidance #152.

Guidance #152 is essentially a checklist of points to consider when weighing the potential human impact of a new animal drug. After the Baytril debacle, the public health community embraced the idea of a guidance document. A formalized risk-assessment process promised to minimize the chances of making a bad regulatory call. But a struggle ensued when the FDA hosted meetings to spell out the criteria to be used for measuring risk, often with veterinarians and veterinary drug companies on one side and doctors and public health experts on the other.When differences could not be resolved after repeated drafts and months of work, the agency sidestepped some tough issues and adopted language that both sides agree can block approval of the most worrisome drugs -- those such as Baytril that are put in animal feed or water, and so are easily overused. But public health experts say the wording tilts the playing field toward industry for other kinds of drugs. They want to see it revised.

Third-generation cephalosporins are among the only effective therapies for serious gastrointestinal diseases in children and are the sole therapies for many cases of meningitis. That means the emergence of resistance to fourth-generation cephalosporins "could have a much more far-reaching effect" than is considered under the terms of Guidance #152, John H. Powers, a medical officer at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told the agency's panel of experts.

Officials at InterVet declined several requests to be interviewed. In a statement, the company said it "fully supports the prudent use of antibiotics in animals."The statement also said that in Europe, fourth-generation cephalosporins similar to cefquinome have been used in animals for the past decade "without compromising the interests of public health." Yet recent European data indicate that resistance against this class of antibiotics is on the rise. An analysis of E. coli bacteria in pigs and other animals in Spain, published in December, found high levels of the resistance that renders fourth-generation cephalosporins useless. A January report from Britain documented similar resistance patterns emerging at 10 farms. Microbes resistant to fourth-generation cephalosporins have also begun to pop up in European patients. Such resistance is virtually unknown in the United States, where fourth-generation cefepime has been used in patients since 1997. That suggests that the resistance emerging in Europe is a result of veterinary use, said Steve Roach of the Food Animal Concerns Trust, a Chicago public interest group. Roach says he is concerned that history is about to repeat itself. U.S. cattle were free of bacteria resistant to third-generation cephalosporins in 1997, but by 2003 one of every five samples was resistant. "This is exactly what should be avoided with cefquinome," he said.

At the FDA advisory meeting in September, the agency's experts defied Guidance #152 and voted 6 to 4 against approval of cefquinome. But that day, and in follow-up interviews, Sundlof, the agency's veterinary chief, made it plain that the vote was "not binding." Concerned that the FDA is poised to approve cefquinome, Congress's only microbiologist recently wrote to the agency."Given the recent outbreaks of E. coli and other food borne illnesses across the nation, it is hardly the time to ignore the advice of scientists, and potentially impair our ability to treat deadly infections," wrote Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Rules Committee.