Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Label the use of carbon monoxide on meat

A small company in Kalamazoo, Mich., has the meat industry on the run over how the meat you buy is packaged.

Kalsec has waged a two-year fight and spent $800,000 to battle food regulators and meat producers over a fledgling practice of packaging fresh meat with a harmless dose of carbon monoxide.

The gas keeps meat an appealing red for more than 20 days — about twice as long as other popular packaging and far longer than the few days unwrapped meat stays red in a butcher's case.

The red color is the problem, say Kalsec, consumer groups and several lawmakers. The gas not only keeps meat red while on the shelf but after it's spoiled.

They say consumers — who consider color when picking meat — will be fooled into buying spoiled or old meat and not smell trouble until they open the package at home.

The packaging presents "serious consumer deception and food-safety risks," Kalsec says in a filing to the Food and Drug Administration. It wants the practice banned.

The meat industry disputes Kalsec's claims and says it is running a "baseless" scare campaign because carbon monoxide packaging would obliterate a rival Kalsec product.

A family-run firm with 300 employees, Kalsec sells natural colorings, spices and herbs. One of its products is a rosemary extract that meat processors use in packaging that keeps meat a nice red for about half as long as the carbon monoxide-infused packaging.

The meat industry says shoppers are tipped off to bad meat by bulging packages in stores and expired use-or-freeze-by dates. By keeping meat fresh-looking longer, the industry hopes to save millions of dollars a year by selling meat that consumers would have shunned before because of poor color.

In what foodmakers call "modified atmosphere packaging," a combination of gases — nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide — battle the aging effects that regular air has on foods. Leafy-green companies and potato-chipmakers use MAP, but they don't use carbon monoxide. Kalsec's rosemary extract is used by meat producers in a non-carbon-monoxide MAP format.

The chair of the House's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has co-authored a bill that would require a safety notice on meat, seafood and poultry using carbon monoxide packaging.

He says committee investigators recently found healthy-looking imported fish packaged with carbon monoxide to be decomposed. The proposed notice would warn consumers to "discard any product with an unpleasant odor, slime, or a bulging package."

The FDA has so far allowed carbon monoxide packaging for beef, pork and raw tuna when used as an ingredient in tasteless smoke, used as a preservative.

Other regulators have been tougher. The European Union doesn't allow it for meat and tuna. Canada bans it in fish; Singapore does for fresh tuna.

Courtesy of USA Today

Vitamin D cuts colon cancer death risk

A team led by U.S. National Cancer Institute epidemiologist Michal Freedman tracked 16,818 people who joined a nationwide U.S. government health survey between 1988 and 1994, following them through 2000. Among them, 536 died of cancer. The participants provided blood samples that the researchers used to determine the level of vitamin D in their blood. People with higher levels of vitamin D when they entered the study had about a 72 percent reduced risk of dying from colorectal cancer compared to those with the lowest levels of vitamin D, as reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Steve - not surprising to us of course. However, very nice to see in a large, government funded study.

Mold theory on depression

Almost one in five people with mold in their homes is depressed, a figure more than twice as high as among those who don't live with the stubborn, sometimes foul-smelling fungus, a study found.

The link between mold and depression remained strong even after researchers from Brown University in Providence, R.I., took into consideration physical illnesses that may be caused by the mold, and a homeowner's feeling of helplessness in controlling his environment. This surprised the authors, who said they set out to prove that factors beyond the mold may be responsible for the connection.

The data were taken from surveys of 2,982 households in eight cities, including Angers, France; Bonn; Bratislava, Slovakia; Budapest; Ferreira do Alentejo, Portugal; Forli, Italy; Geneva; and Vilnius, Lithuania.

"The type of message we want to send is that healthy homes can promote healthy lives," he said.

Steve - while an unfortunate symptom of mold exposure, it is a revelation to see a study with such vision. There is no doubt in our minds that consistent exposure to mold in the home creates numerous adverse effects. This study echoes our most recent piece, Solutions to Reducing Your Toxic Load.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Emotional Survival Guide for the Holidays

This time of year can often trigger a bout of the blues or ignite a depression that has been smoldering under the surface for months. “Holiday blues are a pretty common problem despite the fact that as a society, we see the holidays as a joyous time.” (Rakesh Jain, MD) “Many people feel depressed which can be due to the increased stress that comes with the need to shop and the decreased time to exercise which gets put on the back burner during the holidays.” Here are some tips to help your emotional stability stay intact during this busy season:

1. See what it was in the past that led to trouble, whether it was too much drinking, not enough exercise, or forgetting to connect with friends and family. Depression leaves a fingerprint so try to find ways to avoid what happened in the past.

2. Unwrap your heart. Gift giving can cause stress and unhappiness on so many levels, such as if a person doesn’t have the money or time. The cost of the gift is not so important, the thought really is what counts.

3. A lot of people feel sad and lonely during the holidays if they have recently lost a loved one. Try to create a new tradition instead, do something different! When you expect something to happen and it doesn’t, you feel lousy.

4. Look at how to protect yourself from the energy vampires of the holiday season who deplete your holiday energy reserve. Try to be around positive people instead of the drama queens, blamers and criticizers.

5. Try to carve out three minutes a day to relieve stress and use your breath to calm down and focus on the positive. Get enough sleep which will help you to function properly throughout the day.

6. Volunteer! Deliver presents for Santa or help at a homeless shelter. Volunteerism makes your feel better about yourself and this is the time of year where the spirit of helping and compassion is right at your fingertips. This will also help you to realize how grateful you are for what you do have and focus on the positive things in your life.

7. If you are overcommitted, say no. Don’t feel guilty.

10 Dietary Tips for Healthy Holidays

1. Alcohol is loaded with calories. Try substituting with sparkling water or club soda (an added benefit is feeling more full with water so you won’t eat as much). Add a small amount lemon, lime, or other fruit juice to your water for added flavor. Another great alcohol substitute is a festive virgin “bloody mary” with a celery stick. If you feel that you JUST have to have that drink, vodka with club soda or sparkling water and wine are your best choices in limited amounts.

2. Eat healthy foods before you go to a party, especially protein foods. Your blood sugar will be more stable so you won’t eat as much. At the party, eat plain fish or lean meats first (i.e. cold shrimp, smoked salmon, turkey breast). You may then be too full to eat a lot of the other foods.

3. At a buffet, graze to take a taste of enticing items, but spend most of your time with the raw vegetables and heart healthy guacamole and humus dips. Consume a variety of foods, but without consuming large volumes. When at a sit down meal, eat slowly, chew and savor your food. Studies have shown that individuals who eat slower will not consume as many calories as those who eat quickly.

4. If you want a rich dessert, keep your fat and carbohydrate intake low the rest of the day to compensate.

5. Watch out for raw foods (raw fish, steak tartar and eggnog made with raw eggs) or foods left out too long at room temperature. They could harbor harmful pathogens such as salmonella, shigella, listeria, or e coli. For food preparation, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for a full 20 seconds before and after handling raw products. Make sure to store and prepare your raw foods properly to avoid spreading bacteria.

6. Avoid foods high in saturated fat. These are typically very high in calories. For example: 8 oz. eggnog = 340 calories, 1 slice pie with whipping cream = 520 calories; 1 cup standard poultry stuffing = 500 calories. Instead, opt for healthy fats such as chestnuts and pecans.

7. Exercise more to burn more calories during the holidays. Cycling, fast-walking, and cross-country skiing are great ideas. Even shoveling the snow off of your driveway and sidewalk counts. After a big meal, go for a walk which will cut down on post-meal snacking. If you still cannot find time to exercise outside the office, why not try some “Workspace Workouts? Desk push-ups, chair squats, and bent-over reverse flyes (bend your waist to drop your chest toward the top of your thighs; lift arms up and out to the side a few inches and squeeze shoulder blades together one each repetition.) only take a few minutes, but can produce big results if you do them whenever you have a chance.

8. Offer to bring your favorite healthy recipe to the party and spend most of your time eating it. That way, you won’t have to worry about leftovers. If you are hosting the meal or you are the guest, here are some tips to make life less stressful and more enjoyable while minimizing caloric damage:
  • Let people help in the kitchen! When someone offers to help you out, give them a specific job that will help alleviate some of the burden on you.

  • Start a meal with a broth based soup to start. Calories in liquid form (unlike water) make people less hungry, and studies show that they reduce the calories consumed later.

  • Eat a big salad at the start of a meal. It will help fill you up so you don’t have so much room for calorie-laden foods.

  • If a relative or friend is repeatedly pressing her pie on you and you don’t want to offend her, take several tiny portions. She’s more apt to notice how many servings you had than how much you ate.

  • Experts recommend eating a nice, sensible breakfast before a big holiday meal. You won’t be as ravenous, making it less likely that you will overindulge at the meal.

  • Remember, it is just one meal! Do everything you can to emphasize the familial aspects of the gathering over the gastronomic. The meal is a transitory experience that will be gone from your system within 24-36 hours, while the memories (good or bad) could last a lifetime.
9. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, call your host before the party to determine what foods would be safe. There is nothing worse than having an allergic reaction or digestive distress when you are trying to have fun.

10. Don’t begin a diet during the holidays or become obsessive about avoiding tempting holiday fare. If you restrict yourself too much, you’ll either be depressed or “pig out” later. Remember that the average adult gains 6 lbs. from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day. If you can even maintain your weight during the holidays, you’ll be one step ahead when it is time to make your New Year’s resolutions.

Unsafe Ingredients for the Gluten-Intolerant

Obvious (and some less than obvious) ingredient terms to look for on food and cosmetic labels that we should AVOID:
  • Amino peptide complex (from barley)
  • Amp-isostearoyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Barley (including malted barley)
  • Barley extract
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Disodium wheatgermamido peg2 sulfosuccinate
  • Filler flour
  • Graham flour
  • Hordeum vulgare (barley) extract
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein or hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat gluten
  • Hydrolyzed wheat starch
  • Modified food starch
  • Rye
  • Seitan
  • Triticum vulgare (wheat)
  • Vegetable starch
  • Wheat (all types including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, bulgur, and triticale)
  • Wheat amino acid
  • Wheat bran extract
  • Wheat dextrimaltose
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat protein

    Removing Oat-derived ingredients may be advised because many gluten intolerants do not tolerate oats well.

  • Avena sativa (oat) flour
  • Oat extract
  • Oat beta glucan
  • Oat flour
  • Sodium lauroyl oat amino acids

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Highlights - October

  • In a stunning revelation, researchers suggest that the calcium requirement for men and women should be LOWER than previously estimated. The researchers suggest an upper limit of 1035 mg. of calcium for all adults. The study was funded by the USDA.

  • According to blood samples from the 32,826 participants in the Nurse's Health Study, high intake of dairy fat is associated with a greater risk of ischemic heart disease.

  • High hedonic visual stimuli (pictures of waffles, whipped cream, syrup, chocolate cake, cookies, etc.) elicited a greater activation of neuronal regions than did neutrally rated visual stimuli (pictures of fruit, bread, cereal) which, as a result, induced a state of overfeeding.

  • A study looking at the effect of vitamin A supplementation on vitamin A status at birth found that of the 614 recipients who received the DTP vaccines, their vitamin A status was negatively affected compared to those who did not receive the DTP vaccine.

  • In 396 well-nourished Australian school-aged children, fortification with multiple micronutrients (EPA & DHA) can result in improvements in verbal learning and memory.

  • Persons at risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) progression, especially those at high risk of advanced AMD, may benefit from consuming smaller amounts of refined carbohydrates.

  • Higher intakes of vitamin C and linoleic acid and lower intakes of unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates are associated with better skin-aging appearance. Promoting healthy dietary behaviors may have additional benefit for skin appearance in addition to other health outcomes in then population.

Pediatricians call for 2 autism checks by age 2

Disorder affects 1 in 150 in U.S.
October 29, 2007 BY LINDSEY TANNER

The country's leading pediatricians group is making its strongest push yet to have all children screened for autism twice by age 2, warning of symptoms such as babies who don't babble at 9 months and 1-year-olds who don't point to toys. The advice is meant to help parents and doctors spot autism sooner. There is no cure for the disorder, but experts say early therapy can lessen its severity. Symptoms to watch for and the call for early screening are being released by the American Academy of Pediatrics at its annual meeting in San Francisco.

Experts say one in 150 U.S. kids have the developmental disorder.

Bonnie - instead of focusing on early detection, why isn't the AA of P focusing on finding the cause(s). Aren't children's physicians just a little alarmed that in the span of 25 years, the numbers went from 1 child in 10,000 being autistic to 1 in 150? So if their "pat" answer has always been that doctors are detecting it quicker and more efficiently, then I guess we don't need better screening techniques. Let's put that money towards the culprit(s)!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Multiple dietary supplement users have overall better health

A study published in the peer- reviewed Nutrition Journal (October 24, 2007) reveals that people who used multiple supplements for at least 20 years were in over-all better health than both non-supplement users and individuals who only consumed a multivitamin/mineral supplement. This first-ever study on long-term users of multiple dietary supplements found them comparatively to have markedly better health.

The objective of the study was to describe the dietary supplement usage patterns, health, and the nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users, and to make appropriate comparisons to matched single multivitamin supplement users and nonusers of supplements. Using a cross- sectional design, information was obtained from online questionnaires and on- site physical examinations from a sample of long-term users of multiple dietary supplements from a single dietary supplement supplier.

The group of 278 long-term multiple dietary supplement users consumed a broad array of vitamin/mineral, herbal, and condition-specific dietary supplements on a daily basis for at least 20 years. As a group, they were 73% less likely to have diabetes and 39% less likely to have elevated blood pressure than non-users. Also, this group was less likely to have suboptimal blood nutrient concentrations, and more likely to have favorable levels of key biomarkers including serum homocysteine, C-reactive protein, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides than either non-users or multivitamin/mineral users.

Organic produce 'better for you'

Organic produce is better for you than ordinary food, a major European Union-funded study says. The four-year project found a general trend showing organic food contained more antioxidants. Researchers grew fruit, vegetables and reared cattle on adjacent organic and non-organic sites across Europe, including a 725-acre farm attached to Newcastle University. They found levels of antioxidants in milk from organic cattle were between 50% and 80% higher than normal milk. Organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce had between 20% and 40% more nutrients.

Steve - where are the organic detractors now? Finding ways to turn their farms organic is where!

Aspirin kills 20,000 Americans every year

Common over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin kill around 20,000 Americans every year, and another 100,000 end up in hospital as a result of taking the drug, new research reveals (Proceedings of the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, October 15, 2007).

Painkillers known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) are far more dangerous than people have been told, and can cause life-threatening gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, stomach perforations and ulcers. More than 14 million Americans regularly take an NSAID for their arthritis pain alone, and around 60 per cent of these will suffer gastrointestinal side effects – and will probably never blame the drug.

Researchers realized that patients weren’t associating the painkiller with their stomach problems when they carried out a survey among patients at a clinic that specializes in gastrointestinal disease. Around one in five of the patients was taking an NSAID such as an aspirin, and was not reporting the fact to medical staff because they didn’t regard it as significant. "This reflects a common misperception that these medications are insignificant or benign when actually their chronic use, particularly among the elderly and those with conditions such as arthritis, is linked to serious and potentially fatal GI injury and bleeding," said Dr David Johnson, one of the researchers.

Bonnie- we have been vigilant in alerting our clients to the dangers of NSAID use, especially if on daily basis. There are many other natural ways to address chronic pain. Work with a licensed health professional to find the best individualized modalities.

Riboflavin boosts folate's colorectal cancer protection

Simultaneous supplementation of the two B-vitamins increased the response to low-dose folate in the double-blind randomized placebo-controlled intervention study (the FAB2 Study) involving 98 healthy people and 106 patients with colorectal polyps.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, adds to the controversial subject of folate and colorectal cancer, with some studies reporting that the B-vitamin may in fact increase the risk of the disease. On the other hand, other studies have reported protective benefits from folate for colorectal cancer. The new study focussed on measuring increases in certain markers as a result of different supplementation regimes.

Supplementation with folic acid alone produced significant, dose-dependent increases in 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (MTHF), the reduced form of folate, in the mucosal layer of the colon. MTHF levels also increased in red blood cells and plasma. Simultaneous supplementation with riboflavin enhanced the response to low-dose folate in people with polyps.

The data adds to an ever-growing body of science linking B-vitamin intake to reduced risk of certain cancers, including vitamin B6 and colorectal cancer (J. Nutr., Vol. 137, pp. 1808-1814), folate and breast cancer (Am. J. Clin. Nutr., Vol. 86, pp. 434-443), and folate, B6 and B12 and pancreatic cancer (Cancer Research, Vol. 67, Issue 11).

Bonnie - as far as I am concerned, there is no controversy with folic acid. The Riboflavin factor has been around for a while. This study reaffirms the idea that B-vitamins complement each other and should be only be separated in specific instances when working with a health professional.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cranberry juice offers anti-viral possibilities

Cranberry juice's benefits may even extend to protecting against viruses, according to results of study in the journal Phytomedicine.

Researchers report that commercially available cranberry neutralized the viruses: bacteriophages T2 and T4 and the simian rotavirus SA-11.

The fruit has long been considered an effective method of fighting urinary tract infections. In 2004 France became the first country to approve a health claim for the North American cranberry species Vaccinium macrocarpon, which states that it can 'help reduce the adhesion of certain E.coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls'.

Steve - rotavirus is prevented conventionally with a vaccine (commonly given to very young children). It would be nice to see a study pitting cranberry against the vaccine to see which is more effective.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Prevent heart attacks in women

A new study shows that women can significantly cut their risk of having a heart attack by eating right, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. "If women adopted these five 'rather simple' healthy diet and lifestyle factors, most heart attacks (i.e., 77 percent) could be avoided," Dr. Agneta Akesson from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, noted in an email to Reuters Health.

Akesson and colleagues studied the dietary and lifestyle patterns of 24,444 postmenopausal women enrolled in a clinical trial in 1997. At the time, none of the women had heart disease, diabetes or cancer. By analyzing information contained in "food frequency" questionnaires, in which the women noted how often they ate 96 different foods, the researchers identified four major dietary patterns. They were: "healthy" (vegetables, fruits and legumes); "Western/Swedish" (red meat, processed meat, poultry, rice, pasta, eggs, fried potatoes and fish); "alcohol" (wine, liquor, beer and some snacks); and "sweets" (sweet baked goods, candy, chocolate, jam and ice cream).

Other information, including family history of heart disease, education level, physical activity, and body measurements, was also collected.

During an average of more than 6 years follow-up, 308 women had heart attacks. In the Archives of Internal Medicine, the investigators report that two types of dietary patterns — healthy and alcohol — were significantly associated with decreased risk of heart attack.Women who maintained a healthy diet — eating lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish and legumes — and drank a less than a quarter ounce of alcohol daily had a 57-percent lower risk of having a first heart attack, compared to women who maintained a less healthy diet and lifestyle pattern.

Moreover, the women combining the healthy diet and moderate drinking with the three healthy lifestyle factors (not smoking, being physically active and avoiding too much weight gain) had a 92-percent lower risk of heart attack. "The combined benefit of diet, lifestyle, and healthy body weight may prevent more than three of four cases of MI (heart attack) in our study population," Akesson and colleagues report.

Steve - surprised by these results? I think not.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quercetin linked to lower blood pressure

Quercitin, the compound most commonly associated with onions and apples, may reduce blood pressure according to a study said to be the first to report the blood pressure-lowering activity of this flavonol. A daily 730 milligram supplement of quercitin led to significant reductions in the blood pressure of 22 people with high blood pressure.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, considered to be the gold-standard for experimental interventions, adds to an ever-growing body of reported health benefits for quercitin. The flavonol was previously linked to reduced risk of certain cancers.

Although no mechanistic study was performed by the researchers, they suggested that the flavonoid could limit the production of angiotensin II, a molecule that constricts blood vessels (vasoconstrictor) leading to an increase in blood pressure.

Steve - if you have been a client of ours since the beginning, you know that Quercetin has been a staple in our nutrient repertoire. It is a wonderful natural anti-inflammatory. It is one of the main ingredient in Allergy Fighters and Quercetin + C, two products we have recommended for over 20 years.

Diet affects how we see

Health experts have long debated the role of nutrition in protecting against and slowing the progress of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, a leading cause of vision loss among people over age 60. As the population ages, health experts predict that cases of AMD-related blindness in the U.S. will double to 3 million by the year 2020.

Dietary supplements and foods rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and other minerals have been researched as a way to stave off this widespread problem. New research is shifting the focus to another dietary area: refined carbs, abundant in white bread, white rice, most pasta, crackers and some cereals, for example. They have what is called a "high glycemic load," which causes blood sugar levels to spike.

Researchers at Tufts University found that 4,757 non-diabetic men and women with varying stages of AMD were 17 percent more likely to develop blinding AMD than those who consumed the least.

The study, published in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, comes on the heels of another Tufts finding: People older than 55 who ate above-average levels of refined carbs appeared to have a higher risk for both early and later stages of AMD.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A quick note on fiber

Bonnie- People often ask me why they have to supplement with vitamins and minerals when taking a fiber (Benefiber, Fibersure, Citracal, etc.) supplement. The answer is pretty simple. While supplemental fiber serves a tremendous purpose for those of us who find it hard to get enough in our daily diet, fiber also blocks the absorption of several crucial nutrients, especially minerals. Fiber rich foods are richer in needed nutrients, so their decreased absorption is not a problem. However, supplemental fiber is not nutrient-rich so must be supplemented with specific vitamins and minerals.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Vitamin E may cut heart disease risk in diabetics

Daily vitamin E supplements (500 International Units) were found to decrease levels of a protein associated with higher risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and ultimately cardiovascular disease in this study with 37 type-2 diabetics, published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.

Type 2 diabetics are known to be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and this has been linked to a decrease in fibrinolysis - a process whereby the protein fibrin is broken down in the bloodstream. Fibrin plays an active role in coagulation of the blood.

The decrease is fibrinolysis has been linked to increased production of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1), as is observed in diabetics.

The researchers assigned the 24 men and 13 women to receive the daily vitamin E supplements for 10 weeks, and then followed them for a further 20 weeks. At the end of the study, Vignini and co-workers report that PAI-1 levels decreased by 32 per cent after ten weeks, and returned to approximate baseline levels after a further 20 weeks without supplementation.

In addition, the production of nitric oxide (NO) - a molecule key for better blood flow - increased by about 50 per cent after ten weeks of vitamin E supplementation.

Nitric oxide (NO) is a molecule used by the endothelium (cells lining the surface of blood vessels) to signal surrounding muscle to relax, leading to a reduction in blood pressure, reduced blood clotting and protection against myocardial infarction and strokes.

Despite the positive results and implications for type-2 diabetics, the authors sounded a note of caution, stating that no control arm with a placebo was used, and the study was not double-blind and randomized.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chronic Disease On U.S. Economy Is $1 Trillion Annually

In a groundbreaking study released today by the Milken Institute, the annual economic impact on the U.S. economy of the most common chronic diseases is calculated to be more than $1 trillion, which could balloon to nearly $6 trillion by the middle of the century.

Yet the news is not entirely grim because much of this cost is avoidable. “An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease” brings to light for the first time what is often overlooked in the discussion of the impact of chronic disease — the economic loss associated with preventable illness.

The study is the first of its kind to estimate the avoidable costs if a serious effort were made to improve Americans’ health. Assuming modest improvements in preventing and treating disease, Milken Institute researchers determined that by 2023 the nation could avoid 40 million cases of chronic disease and reduce the economic impact of chronic disease by 27 percent, or $1.1 trillion annually. They report that the most important factor is obesity, which if rates declined could lead to $60 billion less in treatment costs and $254 billion in increased productivity.

To reduce the human and economic cost of disease, the Milken Institute calls for: More incentives to promote prevention and early intervention.
The full report is available on and an interactive web site with complete national- and state-level data for each of the chronic diseases is available at

Steve - a welcome study for sure. Yet, our current medical model, food staples, government/agribusiness interplay, and overall motivation does not encourage a preventative model.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Solutions for Reducing Your Toxic Load

Special Report by Bonnie & Steve Minsky

Aurora Dairy faces lawsuits for organic violations

Aurora Organic Dairy is the subject of class action lawsuits being filed today, which allege that the firm has violated organic requirements in some of its dairy farms. They come after a two-year investigation by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which found that Aurora violated 14 provisions of the Organic Food Production Act.

According to outspoken organic watchdog Cornucopia Institute, "one of the most egregious of the findings was that from December 5, 2003, to April 16, 2007, the Aurora Dairy 'labeled and represented milk as organically produced, when such milk was not produced and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program regulations'".

As a result of its investigation, USDA entered into a consent agreement with the firm directing Aurora to stop organic production at one facility and make numerous changes in its operations.

The complaint filed today alleges that the illegal activities identified by USDA at Aurora's facilities should not have allowed the company to label its milk as 'organic' and that such labeling resulted in extensive consumer deception The suit seeks to recoup damages for consumers who purchased the organic milk and other sanctions seeking limits on Aurora's ability to market organic products.

Aurora produces private-label dairy products for a number of chains such as Safeway, Wild Oats (now Whole Foods), Giant, and Costco.

Steve - there are always going to be bad apples. It is nice to see that consumers are not going to let them off the hook very easily.

Nutritional Concepts Update!

Holiday season is fast-approaching, so it's time to start thinking about giving the gift of wellness! We now have Gift Certificates as well as several new Spa Products that complement our Rejuvenating Room experience.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Prevention suffers most with kids doctor care

An editorial that recently appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine states that children get the recommended care from their doctors less than half of the time. While doctors rated best for acute problems, such as upper-respiratory infections, proper care chronic conditions such as asthma were around 53%, and preventive care: 41%.

Steve - this follows the model of how doctors are educated: ignore prevention...treat the symptoms when an issue becomes acute. And in the case of treating chronic conditions, the current health care model does not allow for proper care.

It's not just adults getting the shaft folks, our children are as well, as anyone who read UNICEF's 2007 Child Well-Being Report Card can attest.

US touts studying postpartum depression

The House on Monday urged health agencies to expand research into postpartum depression problems that affect up to one-fifth of new mothers and can, if untreated, lead to more serious psychoses. The measure encourages government agencies to carry out a national campaign to increase awareness of the issue. The proposed legislation cites studies that up to 80 percent of new mothers experience "baby blues," characterized by mood swings, feelings of being overwhelmed and irritability. It said more serious postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, which can occur during pregnancy and anytime within the first year of the infant's birth, impair between 10 and 20 percent of new mothers. Postpartum psychosis, striking one in 1,000 new mothers, may entail losing touch with reality, delusions, auditory hallucinations, paranoia and hyperactivity. It notes that while the causes of postpartum depression are unknown, theories include a steep and rapid drop in hormone levels after childbirth, difficulty during labor or pregnancy and external factors such as a lack of support from one's spouse, stressful events such as the death of a loved one or a previous history of depression.

Bonnie - some of the causative factors for postpartum depression are known and are preventable with proper nutrition and optimal nutrient intake before, during, and after birth. Magnesium is the most important nutrient for preventing postpartum. However, magnesium deficiency is never addressed when symptoms begin to show. Also, it is known that rapidly dropping progesterone can be implicated. A blood test can be corroborate this. Let's hope this bill will help reveal the importance of balancing nutrition and hormones for pregnancy and for postpartum.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Omega-3 fats active against child allergies

One-year-olds whose mothers had ingested fish oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding had considerably fewer allergic reactions than children whose mothers did not it, according to a study from Linköping University in Sweden. The double-blind study, which started in 2005, comprised 145 pregnant mothers with families at heightened risk of developing allergy and asthma. From the 25th week of pregnancy through the third month of nursing, they were asked to take nine capsules of oil every day. Half of them were given fish oil with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and the other half were given a placebo in the form of soybean oil.

It turned out that the "fish-oil children" had fewer than half as many reactions to eggs at the age of one year as the placebo group did. This is an important discovery, since allergic reactions to eggs early in life are strongly correlated with the later development of allergic disorders like eczema and asthma. The idea that the difference is truly an effect of the omega-3 fats is supported by an immunological study of the mothers' blood. The women who were given fish oil had less prostaglandin E2 in their blood than the others. This is a substance that triggers allergic immune responses, and it is known that it is depressed when the concentration of omega-3 increases.

Bonnie - of course this makes perfect sense being that omega-3 is a natural anti-inflammatory.

Cruciferous veggies stars in the cancer fight

Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale are all cancer-fighting stars in the produce department, and several studies have linked them to a lower risk for colorectal, lung and stomach cancers, says Lawrence Kushi, Sc.D., associate director for epidemiology at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. Plus, research from Michigan State University in East Lansing found that those who ate raw or lightly cooked cabbage and sauerkraut more than three times a week were 72 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who had 1.5 or fewer servings. Experts suspect vegetables such as cabbage contain chemicals that turn on your body's natural detoxifying enzymes.

Steve - they harmonize our epigenetic pathways. In this case, cruciferous vegetables positively modify the methylation pathway, which is integral in detoxifying harmful toxins from our bodies. If a genetic predisposition exists for poor detoxification and is expressed negatively, increasing the amount of cruciferous vegetables can render those genes latent. They calm the epigenetic pathways that either "turn on" or "turn off" expression of our genes.

Lessening light could be making you SAD

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, often dubbed the "winter blues," afflicts about 10% to 20% of Americans, especially those living in Northern climes, according to the American Psychiatric Association. SAD is a physical condition that can lead to a psychological disorder. As the daylight hours shorten each day, the reduced exposure to light causes a biochemical imbalance in some people's brains. Most people's body clocks, or circadian rhythms, adjust to seasonal changes in light. But those who don't adapt are more prone to winter depression. People with mild to moderate SAD may notice symptoms of depression crop up in early fall. Others say in deep winter they tumble into an emotional pit.

There are a number of effective treatments. The most well established is light therapy, in which patients sit under a special lamp called a light box or don a visor outfitted with a bulb for a prescribed period of time.

Bonnie - light therapy is a good therapy. However, I believe that waning vitamin D stores as the weather cools is also a huge factor in SAD. Test your blood vitamin D levels to see if you are deficient. If needed, supplement with extra vitamin D, in which Cod Liver Oil is the most bioavailable source.

Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a longer stretch of lighter mornings in the fall and lighter evenings in the spring should help SAD sufferers.

Antidepressants now popular remedy for menopause

Doctors are writing a new prescription for menopause: the antidepressant. It’s not that all menopausal women are depressed. Instead, the antidepressant has emerged as the drug of choice among women searching for new ways to cool the hot flash. There is no way to track how often antidepressants are prescribed to treat hot flashes. None are specifically approved for hot flashes, and doctors who prescribe them are doing so “off label.”

The link was made by chance in studies of women with breast cancer. Some cancer drugs set off hot flashes, and researchers noticed that women who were also taking the antidepressants known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors had fewer flashes. Studies looking at the use of these and other serotonin-altering drugs to treat hot flashes in healthy menopausal women have been disappointing. But one interesting trend emerged. Women who were recently menopausal, meaning that they had just stopped having their periods, received the most benefits from antidepressant treatment. Women on either side of the menopausal transition, those who had been menopausal for a year or those who were just starting to experience the effects of hormonal fluctuations, fared worse on the drug.

The biggest concern about antidepressant use for menopause is that the drugs may worsen some symptoms already common during menopause — things like anxiety, sleep problems and loss of libido. For women who choose to try an antidepressant to relieve hot flashes, doctors advise a psychiatric workup and regular follow-up in the first weeks after starting the drug. In some patients, antidepressants can touch off severe manic symptoms if they have histories of bipolar disorder or manic personality traits, doctors say.

Bonnie - it is unconscionable for antidepressants to be used for this purpose, yet, medications are commonly prescribed off-label with little oversight. Unless a full neurological examination shows an imbalance, you should never take an antidepressant for this purpose.

A Hidden Cause of Headache Pain

According to recent research, a sizable and growing number of headaches are being caused by the very medications taken to alleviate them. Half of chronic migraines, and as many as 25 percent of all headaches, are actually “rebound” episodes triggered by the overuse of common pain medications. Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs may be to blame. Patients begin by popping too many pills to deal with a migraine or a simple tension-type headache. When the medications stop, another headache follows, similar to a hangover. Sufferers race again to the medicine cabinet, and before long they are locked in a cycle of headaches and overmedication.

At any given time, more than three million Americans are suffering from headaches they are inflicting on themselves, according to Dr. Stephen D. Silberstein, a professor of neurology and director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “If a patient’s headaches have grown markedly worse or more frequent, the problem is almost always medication overuse,” Dr. Silberstein said.

Signs of trouble include headaches that occur 15 or more days a month, according to the society, along with the heavy use of pain medications for three months or more. Almost any kind of pain pill can cause rebound problems if used to excess. Among over-the-counter drugs, those with caffeine, like Excedrin, are the likeliest villains, studies show. Among prescription drugs, triptans are most commonly associated with rebounding, Dr. Silberstein said. But in terms of both rebound and dependence, the most problematic drugs are those containing butalbital, a barbiturate. Two such medications, Fioricet and Fiorinal, have been banned in Germany because they so often led to medication-related headaches. Both are still prescribed in the United States.

In one study, 87 percent continued to report significant improvement two years after stopping overusing painkillers. Many headache sufferers have been praying for a miracle cure. Now it’s here, though it may not be what they expected.

Bonnie - for those of you out there that fit into to this model, work with your health professional to wean of the pain medication. Then, put the band-aid approach behind you and get to the root of the problem!

Chicken soup may be a better choice than over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

With government experts questioning the safety and effectiveness of cold medications for kids, the best option for parents this cold and flu season may be home remedies like chicken soup. A handful of scientific studies show that chicken soup really could have medicinal value. The most widely cited of these studies, published in the medical journal Chest in 2000, is by Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He conducted laboratory tests to determine why chicken soup might help colds, beginning with his wife’s homemade recipe, handed down by her Lithuanian grandmother. Using blood samples from volunteers, he showed that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Dr. Rennard theorizes that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.

Another study by Mount Sinai researchers in Miami also suggests that chicken soup has more than just a placebo effect. They looked at how chicken soup affected air flow and mucus in the noses of 15 volunteers who drank cold water, hot water or chicken soup. In general, the hot fluids helped increase the movement of nasal mucus, but chicken soup did a better job than the hot water, according to the 1978 report, also published in Chest. Chicken soup also improves the function of protective cilia, the tiny hairlike projections in the nose that prevent contagions from entering the body, according to a 1998 Coping With Allergies and Asthma report.

Bonnie - there is no doubt that this is true. Of course, the chicken soup must be homemade, or at the least, be MSG and free of chemicals and preservatives.

Grandmothers are essential!

Today many older women feel marginalized once they reach menopause. But research suggests that far from being a burden to societies, grandmothers have played an important role in the evolution of human longevity. Studies of modern hunter-gatherers in Tanzania, Venezuela and Eastern Paraguay — societies that offer insights into how humans evolved — consistently show that Grandma is doing much of the work.

Researchers have even measured the muscle strength of men and women in these communities and weighed the baskets and bundles carted around by them. Often, the scientists find, women in their 60s are as strong as women in their 20s. “It’s the women over 40 who are carrying the heavy loads,’’ said researchers.

The research is the basis for the grandmother hypothesis that may help explain why menopause occurs. The basic idea is that an end to a woman’s reproductive years allows her to channel her energy and resources into caring for her children and grandchildren, thereby providing her descendants with a survival advantage.

In hunter-gatherer cultures today, said researchers, “women are strong and economically productive into their 60s….Women are not being helped along by others. The flow of help is going into the other direction.”

Bonnie - you go Grandma's!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Green tea may halve prostate cancer risk

Drinking five cups of green tea a day may reduce the risk of advanced prostate cancer by 48 per cent compared to drinking less than one cup per day, reports a new study from Japan's National Cancer Center report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study (JPHC Study) studied 49,920 Japanese men aged from 40 to 69. The participants completed a questionnaires at the start of the study to identify dietary intakes, including their habitual green tea consumption.

Steve - we know that the specific polyphenols in green tea are epigenetic-friendly, which helps keep cancerous genetic defects from expressing themselves negatively.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nutrition can improve learning and memory in schoolchildren.

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the 12-month study of 780 children in Australia and Indonesia looked into the effects of adding a specific vitamin and mineral mix to a daily drink.

This study shows how supplementing nutrients in schoolchildren can positively affect their cognitive development, and possibly academic performance, even if they already have a nutritious diet.

The team studied 396 well-nourished children in Australia and 384 poorly nourished children in Indonesia.

According to the researchers, the Australian children participating in the study performed significantly better on mental performance tests than children in the control group. In Indonesia a similar trend was observed, but only in the girls.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Low zinc levels may raise pneumonia risk in the elderly

Low blood levels of zinc may be linked to an increased risk of pneumonia amongst the elderly, suggesting the benefits of supplements for this at risk population, says new research.

"Normal serum zinc concentrations in nursing home elderly are associated with a decreased incidence and duration of pneumonia, a decreased number of new antibiotic prescriptions, and a decrease in the days of antibiotic use," wrote lead author Simin Meydani in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"Zinc supplementation to maintain normal serum zinc concentrations in the elderly may help reduce the incidence of pneumonia and associated morbidity."

The researchers, from the US Department of Agriculture, Tufts University, and Boston University, investigated the effect of low serum zinc concentrations on the incidence of pneumonia in elderly men and women (average age 84.6) living in nursing homes.

Steve - while this is not news to us, it is encouraging to read the comments from the researchers. The elderly are painfully low in key nutrients, such as zinc.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

All-organic hotel opens

A new hotel in Wales is taking the organic concept past the kitchen and into guests' bedrooms. The British TYF Eco Hotel opened in August, claiming to be the first organic hotel in Wales, with beds featuring organic mattresses and wood furniture sourced from forests managed by the Forest Stewardship Council. The dining room boasts a 15-mile menu, meaning ingredients have traveled no farther than that to a guest's plate. Based in a converted 19th century windmill, the hotel runs on renewable energy and uses eco-friendly cleaning products.

Steve - I'd say this is taking it to the extreme!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Daily Tea may compare to calcium for bones

Drinking tea regularly may lead to improvements in bone health similar to that observed with calcium or physical exercise, suggests the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers from the University of Western Australia report that bone mineral density levels were 2.8 per cent greater in tea drinkers than non-tea drinkers.

The new study involved 1500 elderly women (age range 70 to 85) taking part in a five year prospective trial. Tea consumption data were collected using 24 hour dietary recall in a subset of 275 subjects, while all the subjects completed a self-administered food frequency questionnaire on beverage consumption at the end of the trial.

Researchers report that total bone mineral density (BMD) was 2.8 per cent higher in tea drinkers, compared to non-tea drinkers. Over the course of four years, the researchers add that tea drinkers lost an average of 1.6 per cent of their total hip BMD, while non-tea drinkers lost significantly more (4.0 per cent).

Bonnie - while this is not the first study showing a positive correlation between tea and bone mineral density, it is nice to see the evidence growing. Don't forget: if you put sugar and milk in the tea, the majority of its benefits dissipate greatly!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Children's usage of heartburn drugs rises

The number of young children on prescription drugs for heartburn and other digestive problems jumped about 56 percent in recent years, and researchers say obesity and overuse might be contributing to the surprising increase.

The surge was found in a Medco Health Solutions Inc. analysis released Thursday of U.S. prescription data for 2002-06. It suggests more than 2 million U.S. children 18 and under used drugs for digestive or gastrointestinal complaints last year.

"It's a signal that something's going on that we need to keep an eye on," said Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical officer.

They calculated that 557,259 infants and children up to age 4, or about 3 percent of youngsters in that age range, were taking these drugs last year. That's a 56 percent increase from 2002.

There was a 31 percent increase among children age 5 to 11, climbing to an estimated 551,653 children, or 2 percent in that age group in 2006, the analysis found.

Heartburn and acid reflux are also common in infants and young children. Many outgrow it, and drugs often aren't needed, so the increase raises concerns about whether these drugs are sometimes being used unnecessarily, Jenkins said.

Bonnie - It is unconscionable that these numbers continue to rise. This will be potentially devastating to the future health of these children. I warned the public about this a few years ago.

Eat fish while pregnant: coalition

Women who want to become pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding should eat at least 12 ounces of fatty fish such as tuna every week to help themselves and their babies, experts will recommend later on Thursday. Fish including mackerel, sardines, light tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- components of fat known to help brain development. Walnuts, flaxseed oil and leafy green vegetables also contain the compounds. Women need the nutrients to prevent postpartum depression and babies need them for brain and motor skill development, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition says. The coalition, which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says "90 percent of women are consuming less than the recommended amount of fish." But these fish can also carry high levels of mercury, which is a brain and nerve toxin. Because of this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency issued consumer advisories in 2001 and 2004 advising women who were pregnant, breast-feeding or trying to become pregnant, as well as young children, to eat no more than 12 ounces weekly of certain types of fish.

Michael Bender, director of The Mercury Policy Project, an advocacy group that believes mercury exposure has damaged children, said women should choose fish not likely to be contaminated with mercury.

Bonnie - well, that the hysteria has abated, we see that fish is an essential part of a pregnancy. As I have steadfastly crowed, you just need to be selective with which fish you choose to eat!

Studies endorse 'virtual colonoscopy'

Having an X-ray to look for signs of colon cancer may soon be an option for those who dread the traditional scope exam. Two of the largest studies yet of "virtual colonoscopy" show the experimental technique works just as well at spotting potentially cancerous growths as the more invasive method. It's also quicker and cheaper. The X-rays can help sort out who really needs the full exam and removal of suspicious growths, called polyps.

In one study, only 8 percent of patients had to have followup traditional colonoscopies, which are done under sedation and carry a small risk of puncturing the bowel. But what some people consider the most unpleasant part can't be avoided: drinking laxatives to purge the bowel so growths can be seen.

A second, federally funded study at 15 sites around the country is meant to be the definitive test of virtual colonoscopy. Results have not been published, but they show the test to be promising. Colonoscopies are recommended for everyone over 50, but just about half get tested said the New England Journal of Medicine study.

Virtual colonography uses a CT scanner to take a series of X-rays of the colon and a computer to create a 3-D view. A small tube is inserted in the rectum to inflate the colon so it can be more easily viewed. A radiologist then checks the images for suspicious polyps. Since the patient isn't sedated, there's no recovery time required. A traditional colonoscopy at a hospital is $3,300 and more if polyps are removed; virtual colonoscopy costs $1,186. Insurers pay about 40 percent of that charge, Pickhardt said. Most insurance companies don't cover virtual colonoscopy for screening but that could change if colon cancer screening guidelines endorse it. Virtual screenings are already available at some hospitals and centers for people willing to pay for it.

Bonnie - it is about time! We have been touting Virtual Colonoscopy for five years. The reason this has been so hush, hush is because it is so much cheaper than the conventional method. Now that the research has come out, GI's cannot deny its efficacy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Driven people may avoid Alzheimer's

A surprising study of elderly people suggests that those who see themselves as self-disciplined, organized achievers have a lower risk for developing Alzheimer's disease than people who are less conscientious. A purposeful personality may somehow protect the brain, perhaps by increasing neural connections that can act as a reserve against mental decline. Astoundingly, the brains of some of the dutiful people in the study were examined after their deaths and were found to have lesions that would meet accepted criteria for Alzheimer's — even though these people had shown no signs of dementia.

"This adds to our knowledge that lifestyle, personality, how we think, feel and behave are very importantly tied up with risk for this terrible illness," researchers said. "It may suggest new ideas for trying to delay the onset of this illness." Previous studies have linked social connections and stimulating activities like working puzzles with a lower risk of Alzheimer's.

The new findings, appearing in Monday's Archives of General Psychiatry, come from an analysis of personality tests and medical exams of 997 older Catholic priests, nuns and brothers who participated in the Religious Orders Study. Those with the highest scores for a personality trait called "conscientiousness" at the start of the study had an 89 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's compared to people with the lowest scores for that personality trait. The conscientiousness scores were based on how people rated themselves, on a scale of 0 to 4, on how much they agreed with statements such as: "I work hard to accomplish my goals," "I strive for excellence in everything I do," "I keep my belongings clean and neat" and "I'm pretty good about pacing myself so as to get things done on time." When the researchers took into account a combination of risk factors, including smoking, inactivity and limited social connections, they still found that the dutiful people had a 54 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's compared to people with the lowest scores for conscientiousness. The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging.

Courtesy of AP

Steve - this is a fascinating example of how chronic disease is all-encompassing and cumulative. When you are addressing disease prevention, you must look at the whole person, which includes not just one's physical state, but emotional state, lifestyle, stress level, family and genetic history, etc.

Additionally, you must take stock in quality of life. At the start of '07 we urged all of our clients and visitors to take stock in their quality of life and to seek ways to improve. To review, read our January newsletter entitled, Is Your Quality of Life What it Should Be?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Apples and onions may slash pancreatic cancer risk

A diet rich in flavonols from foods such as onions, apples and berries may cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by about 25 per cent, a multi-ethnic study has reported.

The results, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, indicate that the benefits may be even more pronounced amongst smokers, with a risk reduction of over 59 per cent.

The new study, part of the Multiethnic Cohort Study of 183,518 residents of California and Hawaii, reports that subjects with the highest consumption of flavonols from the diet had significant risk reductions, compared to the lowest consumption, with smokers particularly benefiting from flavonol-rich diets.

The researchers also stated that theirs is the first study to examine prospectively specific classes of flavonols (quercetin, found in onions and apples; kaempferol, found in spinach and some cabbages; and myricetin, found mostly in red onions and berries) and pancreatic cancer risk.

Bottled Water: Now they can put fluoride in it

That 'healthy' bottled water you're drinking - it might contain fluoride. The United States is now allowing 'natural' bottled water to be fluoridated. The decision has been made by the Food and Drug Administration - and its decision surprisingly goes against the advice of the American Dental Association (ADA). The ADA has told mothers that they should not mix fluoridated water into formula or foods for a child younger than one year - and so bottled water has been an obvious alternative to tap water, most of which is fluoridated. The ADA is concerned that excessive fluoride can cause enamel fluorosis in an infant's developing teeth. Fluorosis is a condition that causes tooth enamel to discolour and pit. It's estimated that up to 32 per cent of all American children have dental fluorosis. Fluoride in water has been linked to arthritis, allergies, kidney and thyroid dysfunction, endocrine disruption, bone damage, cancer, and according to recent statistics, has done little to curb the rate of dental caries in children.

Osteoporosis drug may be cause of 'arthritis' knee pain

At 71 years of age, I am a very physically active, pain-free woman. That was until my doctor put me on Actonel (for beginning osteoporosis). After taking my first pill (one a week), two nights later I woke up with excruciating arthritic pain in my knees.

That day I had played 18 holes of golf and then refereed two soccer games and attributed the pain to too much activity. Within three days, I was back to normal (no pain). The next Monday I took the Actonel again, as per the instructions. Two nights later, the "arthritis" pain in both knees returned and was unbearable. I could not walk without holding onto the walls, furniture or railings! I had no excessive activity that day. I started putting two and two together. Upon checking the side effects of Actonel, I learned that this was one of the major side effects. I stopped taking the medicine, and within a week I was back to being pain-free. I shared this information with a friend. She said she had horrible arthritic knees and had been on Actonel for two years.

Two weeks later she thanked me. She stopped her Actonel, and within two weeks her knees were better than they had been in two years. I wonder how many people who have "arthritis" actually have a reaction to Actonel or some other drug?

Arthritis pain is a rare side effect of Actonel, but, as you discovered, it can happen without warning. I'm publishing your letter to alert other readers. Dr. Peter Gott, Daily Herald

Bonnie - the entire group of bisphosphonates, such as Fosomax and Boniva, can create arthritic pain, and it occurs much more than Dr. Gott leads you to believe.