Friday, February 25, 2011

Good cholesterol shows its merit, yet again.

Men who reach their 85th birthdays tended to have high levels of good cholesterol while in their 60s. Researchers found that men with the highest good (HDL) cholesterol were 28 percent less likely to die before they reached 85, compared to men in the lowest HDL group. Published in the American Journal of Cardiology, the study adds to the evidence that HDL is important for a long life,

Also, fewer of the men with higher HDL were overweight, and they tended not to have more than 2 drinks a day. And fewer of them had heart disease or smoked, compared to the lowest HDL group. The B-vitamin niacin raises HDL levels 15 to 35 percent. A three-month supply costs about nine dollars.

Lp(a) recommended for those at highest risk for CVD/CHD

The aims of the study were, first, to critically evaluate lipoprotein(a) as a cardiovascular risk factor and, second, to advise on screening for elevated plasma Lp(a), on desirable levels, and on therapeutic strategies. The European Heart Journal researchers concluded that screening for elevated Lp(a) in those at intermediate or high CVD/CHD risk, a desirable level below 50 mg/dL as a function of global cardiovascular risk, and use of niacin for Lp(a) and CVD/CHD risk reduction is highly recommended.

Steve - there's that cheap, effective B-vitamin niacin again.


Bonnie on new hot flash study

According to a long-running government study, women who had hot flashes at the start of menopause to have a lower risk for heart attack and death than women who never had hot flashes, or those whose symptoms persisted long after menopause began. By contrast, among the few women who developed hot flashes late — in some cases many years after menopause began — there were more heart attacks and deaths when compared with the other groups. The journal Menopause study involved more than 60,000 women followed for an average of almost 10 years.

The results suggest "there may be a positive side" to having these annoying symptoms, the lead researcher said.

Bonnie - nature has very good reasons for change-of-life stages. Hot flashes, which signify menopause for females, can be extremely uncomfortable, especially for those who make poor lifestyle choices. Choosing pharmaceuticals to treat a change-of-life process in the form of synthetic hormones made from horse-urine proved to be fatal. What we know is that hot flashes can be managed without drugs by making ideal lifestyle choices. And when hot flashes get so insufferable that it affects daily living, there are substances from nature that will work harmoniously with our bodies to create a therapeutic effect without the fatal response.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Care's Corner March: Dietary Details

Care's dietary recommendations from this March's Care's Corner (see video on the right column of this blog):

"Eating three balanced meals daily with a snack should help to shed the pounds and give you energy. Breakfast should consist of an egg white omelet with veggies, one fruit serving, and a cup of black coffee or unsweetened green tea. Mid morning, you could nosh on a ¼ cup of nuts and seeds. At Lunch you can enjoy a salad with grilled chicken, avocado, walnuts, and feta or goat cheese. Mid afternoon, a protein shake (2 cups egg white or whey protein powder, a handful of berries, half a banana, and a cup of a milk alternative of your choice; you could even throw in a packet of sunflower seed butter for extra protein and good essential fatty acids- come by the office for a free sample if you have not tried this). Then for Dinner, you could have a small piece of fish, turkey or chicken breast with ½ cup quinoa or brown rice, and steamed broccoli. Sipping on filtered mineral water or sparkling water with lemon throughout the day will help to detoxify and keep you hydrated."

Breastfeeding and a child's cardiac health, weight

Breastfeeding is suggested to have beneficial effects on children's health and future health status. The aim of the this American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study was to determine the cardiovascular effects of exclusive breastfeeding in early childhood. At five years of age, children who had been exclusively breastfed in infancy for 3 to 6 months had a Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Ultrasound Test (CIMT) that was 21.1 times greater than that of exclusively formula-fed children. CIMT was not significantly different between children exclusively breastfed for either less than three or more than six months and formula-fed children. In addition, no significant differences in carotid stiffness were observed between groups. The choice of infant feeding appears to have an effect on the vascular system already in early childhood.

In another AJCN study that addresses young children, exposure to polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in early life may influence adiposity development. Researchers examined the extent to which prenatal n–3 (omega-3) and n–6 (omega-6) PUFA concentrations were associated with childhood adiposity. They found that an enhanced maternal-fetal n–3 PUFA status was associated with lower childhood adiposity. Once again, the data shows that optimizing your omega-6:3 ratio is paramount.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two tidbits in the news today

  • Lactobacillus and other probiotic strains are now being used for infantile colic. As many as 28% of newborn infants experience colic. Some experts believe that abnormal gut flora might be responsible. New clinical research shows that giving a specific Lactobacillus strains of 100 million CFUs daily minimum can significantly reduce daily crying time in colicky infants.
  • Cranberry is not just for women with urinary tract infections anymore. Men with symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) might also benefit from cranberry. A preliminary clinical trial shows that taking cranberry powder 500 mg three times daily significantly reduces BPH symptoms and lowers prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels after 6 months of treatment

Study confirms long-term bone drug use and atypical fractures

Older women who used bisphosphonates (medications that prevent loss of bone mass) for five years or more were more likely to experience "atypical" fractures involving the femoral shaft (bone in the leg that extends from the hip to the knee) or subtrochanteric (fractures in the bone just below the hip joint), compared to women with less usage, according to a study in JAMA.

In the primary analysis, the researchers found that use of bisphosphonates for 5 years or longer was associated with a 2.7 times higher odds of hospitalization for subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fracture compared with transient use (less than 100 days in total) of bisphosphonates. The secondary analysis examining the risk of typical osteoporotic fractures included 9,723 women with fractures of the femoral neck or intertrochanteric region (a section of the femur) during bisphosphonate therapy. Extended bisphosphonate use (greater than 5 years) was associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of fracture compared with transient use. Women with intermediate bisphosphonate use (3-5 years) demonstrated a similarly low risk, while a shorter duration of bisphosphonate use (100 days to 3 years) was associated with a nonsignificant reduction in the risk of such fractures. Further analysis suggested that more than half of subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fractures among women taking bisphosphonates for greater than 5 years were attributable to extended bisphosphonate use; and that approximately 1 of every 10 subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fractures cases in the population might be prevented if no patient received more than 5 years of exposure. Among 52,595 women with at least 5 years of bisphosphonate therapy, a subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fracture occurred in 71 (0.13 percent) during the subsequent year and 117 (0.22 percent) within 2 years.

"In summary, our findings provide strong evidence that prolonged bisphosphonate therapy is associated with an increased risk of subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fracture, although the absolute risk of these fractures is low. These findings also highlight the need for a thoughtful assessment of individual risk of fracture when considering extended bisphosphonate therapy and that long-term use of these drugs may warrant reconsideration, especially in patients at relatively low risk of fracture. It may be appropriate to consider a drug holiday for selected patients, particularly as the cumulative duration of bisphosphonate therapy surpasses 5 years. Additional research is needed to better understand the prognosis of subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fractures among frail older adults, identify the specific subgroups of long-term users at the highest risk for these adverse effects, and explore whether interruptions in therapy reduce the risk of subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fractures over the long term," the authors write.

Bonnie - yet more evidence that we are not "one size fits all." And in the case of long-term bisphosphonate use, you are playing with fire.

Early delivery increases risk of developmental delay

Courtesy of USA Today

Researchers in Boston analyzed records from 6,300 term and 1,200 late preterm infants — those born between 34 weeks and 37 weeks gestation — from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, using equations to estimate the odds of mental or physical delays among the preterm set at the age of 2.In mental skills, late preterm babies were 52% more likely than term infants to suffer severe delays and 43% more likely to experience milder limitations. In motor skills, the preterm toddlers faced 56% increased odds of severe delays and a 58% increased risk of milder ones. The study is reported online Feb. 14 in the journal Pediatrics.

Preterm births — those in which babies are delivered before 37 weeks' gestation — account for nearly 13% of the nation's 4.2 million annual births, according to the study. Late preterm births have risen 25% since 1990, from about 7% to 9% of all births.In addition, 5% to 40% of U.S. births are now early elective deliveries, meaning that births are induced preterm without a valid medical reason, according to a recent hospital-by-hospital report from the Leapfrog Group, a national employer-driven hospital watchdog group.

Bonnie - nature has very good reasons for why pregnancies need to go to term. When you mess with the natural rhythm, whether for convenience or because of poor health habits, the results should not be surprising.

New Toe Fungus Therapy

Courtesy of Wall Street Journal

A growing number of doctors are offering an expensive laser procedure they say zaps away a common fungus that causes ugly, discolored nails. Published data on laser treatment for nail fungus is scant, but early results suggest it is a reasonable option for people who don't want the side effects of oral medications.

Onychomycosis, or fungal infection of nails—most often on the toes—affects about 12% of Americans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Some people are genetically prone to it. Others, including swimmers and other athletes, may be more likely to get it because they go barefoot in public areas or because their feet are often damp, scientists say. In its mild forms, nail fungus is merely a cosmetic problem, but over time it can cause toenails to grow abnormally and become painful when walking. Toenail laser treatment offers a new alternative to oral medication, which carries a risk of liver damage, and a nail lacquer, which has poor efficacy.

The cost of zapping nail fungus with a laser can range $750 to $1,500 for a treatment course. It isn't generally covered by insurance. Whether you choose oral medications or lasers, it can easily take a year for nails to clear entirely. So far only one company's laser has received Food and Drug Administration clearance, which is a streamlined review process for medical devices, for toenail fungus: PinPointe USA Inc., of Chico, Calif., received clearance in October to market its laser for "the temporary increase of clear nail" in patients, according to the FDA clearance letter. Depending on the severity of the problem and the laser used, patients may need one to four treatments. How the lasers work varies and how they affect toenail fungus isn't fully understood in all cases.

If you are willing to risk side effects, the best tested—and likely most effective—treatment for toenail fungus remains oral medications such as Novartis AG's Lamisil. According to Lamisil's FDA-approved prescribing information, 3.3% of patients in clinical trials had abnormal levels of liver enzymes, a possible warning sign of liver damage, compared with 1.4% of people taking a placebo. In rare cases, people have needed liver transplants or died from liver failure after taking Lamisil. To prevent fungus recurrence, you must follow a scrupulous hygiene program, including anti-fungal spray for feet and shoes, not going barefoot, keeping feet clean and dry and changing socks daily, doctors say.

Bonnie - systemic yeast imbalance and candidiasis also proliferate toe fungi. These should be ruled out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Extended Allergy Season Now the Norm

Courtesy of Scientific American

A team of researchers has found that increased warming, particularly in the northern half of North America, has added weeks to the fall pollen season. Minneapolis has tacked 16 days to the ragweed pollen season since 1995. LaCrosse, Wisc. has added 13 days. Winnipeg and Saskatoon in Canada have added 25 and 27 days, respectively. The new research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds the longer pollen seasons correlate with the disproportionate warming happening around the planet and attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. Upper latitudes are warming faster than mid-latitudes, and the pollen season is lengthening in proportion.

According to the study's lead author and a plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's crop system and global change laboratory, "we are seeing a signal based on what in fact the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is predicting." The impact goes far beyond mere sniffles and inconvenience.

The National Wildlife Federation found ragweed growth rates and pollen counts increased with global warming. In one study, accelerating spring's arrival by 30 days prompted a 54 percent increase in ragweed pollen production. The danger with a lengthening season—and perhaps a more intense one—is pollen's potential to overwhelm immune systems. Much as water in a bathtub is not a problem until it starts to overflow, pollen for many is not an irritant until it crosses a particular threshold. "With the longer season, with the creeping breadth of the geographic footprint of the season, and with more powerful plants producing more pollen, it's a triple threat," the lead researcher added. "Now you've got yourself a much wider population that could potentially be affected that might not have been affected before.'

Bonnie - one way to counteract pollen overload is to plan ahead. If your have spring allergies (tree, mold, and grass), starting this week, get your list of spring allergy cross-reacting foods. Over the next 2-3 weeks, start to pare down your intake. As the height of the season hits, avoid the cross-reactors completely until it passes. To find this list, you can order our Conquering Allergy & Intolerance Action Plan at nutritionalconcepts.com or Amazon eBooks. For our NCI Well Connect Subscribers, this Action Plan is free (just email us to request a copy).

Monday, February 21, 2011

These crops may be causing animal miscarriages and infertility

Story from the Cornucopia Institute.

Statin use skyrockets, yet little change in those with CVD

The new annual report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) National Center for Health Statistics paints a mixed picture in terms of cardiovascular health: heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the US, prevalence rates have remained steady from 1999 to 2009, and only age-adjusted death rates from heart disease declined by 28% from 1999 to 2007.

Over the same period, the use of statins in most age demographics went up 10-fold. Statins are usually promoted as a first-line therapy preventive. Where is the prevention if the prevalence rates have remained unchanged? While the CDC does not explain the reasons for the decline in deaths from heart disease, researchers postulate that better life-saving measures and day-to-day monitoring of high-risk individuals have much to do with it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

26 million more Americans can get Lap-Band

Lap-Band maker Allergan Inc. said it received approval to market its stomach-shrinking Lap-Band to millions more patients who are less obese than those currently using the device. The Food and Drug Administration expanded approval to patients with a body mass index between 30 and 40 and one weight-related medical condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Patients must also have previously attempted to lose weight by other methods like diet and exercise. An additional 26.4 million American patients meet the new criteria for the device. That's up from roughly 15 million under the previous criteria.

Bonnie - why should we be surprised with this? American health care is built upon "Band-Aid" solutions and the Lap-Band is the ultimate "Band-Aid".

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bonnie in Trib Local

Q&A With Bonnie Minsky
Trib Local 2/17/2011

Products that contain Triclosan

A client shared this information with us:

If you are not yet aware of the potential dangers of triclosan, you should know that this antibacterial agent has been strongly linked to the following effects on human health:

* Abnormalities with the endocrine system, particularly with thyroid hormone signaling
* Weakening of the immune system
* Birth defects
* Uncontrolled cell growth
* Unhealthy weight loss
Although triclosan is best known for its presence in many brands of antibacterial soap, it is also found in a wide variety of personal care and household products. According to BeyondPesticides.org, triclosan is found in the following products (not complete list):

Soaps:
* Dial® Liquid Soap
* Softsoap® Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
* Tea Tree Therapy™ Liquid Soap
* Provon® Soap
* Clearasil® Daily Face Wash
* Dermatologica® Skin Purifying Wipes
* Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser
* DermaKleen™ Antibacterial Lotion Soap
* Naturade Aloe Vera 80® Antibacterial Soap
* CVS Antibacterial Soap
* pHisoderm Antibacterial Skin Cleanser
Dental Care:
* Colgate Total®; Breeze™ Triclosan Mouthwash
* Reach® Antibacterial Toothbrush
* Janina Diamond Whitening Toothpaste
Cosmetics:
* Supre® CafĂ© Bronzer™
* TotalSkinCare Makeup Kit
* Garden Botanika® Powder Foundation
* Mavala Lip Base
* Jason Natural Cosmetics
* Blemish Cover Stick
* Movate® Skin Litening Cream HQ
* Paul Mitchell Detangler Comb
* Revlon ColorStay LipSHINE Lipcolor Plus Gloss
* Dazzle
Deodorant:
* Old Spice High Endurance Stick Deodorant
* Right Guard Sport Deodorant
* Queen Helene® Tea Trea Oil Deodorant and Aloe Deodorant
* Nature De France Le Stick Natural Stick Deodorant
* DeCleor Deodorant Stick
* Epoch® Deodorant with Citrisomes
* X Air Maximum Strength Deodorant
Other Personal Care Products:
* Gillette® Complete Skin Care MultiGel Aerosol Shave Gel
* Murad Acne Complex® Kit®
* Diabet-x™ Cream
* T.Taio™ sponges and wipes
* Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel
First Aid:
* SyDERMA® Skin Protectant plus First Aid Antiseptic
* Solarcaine®
* First Aid Medicated Spray;
Nexcare™ First Aid
* Skin Crack Care
* First Aid/Burn Cream
* HealWell® Night Splint
* 11-1X1: Universal Cervical Collar with Microban
Kitchenware:
* Farberware® Microban Steakknife Set and Cutting Boards
* Franklin Machine Products FMP Ice Cream Scoop SZ 20 Microban
* Hobart Semi-Automatic Slicer
* Chix® Food Service Wipes with Microban
* Compact Web Foot® Wet Mop Heads
Computer Equipment:
* Fellowes Cordless Microban Keyboard and Microban Mouse Pad
Clothes:
* Merrell Shoes
* Sabatier Chef's Apron
* Dickies Socks
* Fruit of the Loom Socks
* Biofresh® Socks
Children's Toys:
* Playskool® :
o Stack 'n Scoop Whale
o Rockin' Radio
o Hourglass
o Sounds Around Driver
o Roll 'n' Rattle Ball
o Animal Sounds Phone
o Busy Beads Pal
o Pop 'n' Spin Top
o Lights 'n' Surprise Laptop
Other:
* Bionare® Cool Mist Humidifier
* Microban® All Weather Reinforced Hose
* Thomasville® Furniture
* Deciguard AB Ear Plugs
* Bauer® 5000 Helmet
* Aquatic Whirlpools
* Miller Paint Interior Paint
* QVC® Collapsible 40-Can Cooler
* Holmes Foot Buddy™ Foot Warmer
* Blue Mountain Wall Coverings
* California Paints®
* EHC AMRail Escalator Handrails
* Dupont™ Air Filters
* Durelle™ Carpet Cushions
* Advanta One Laminate Floors
* San Luis Blankets
* J Cloth® towels
* JERMEX mops
Source: BeyondPesticides.org

Suppression of human growth hormone may ward off cancer, diabetes

Courtesy of the LA Times

Anyone seeking the fountain of youth should think twice before turning to growth hormone, a fast-growing trend in anti-aging fringe medicine. If conclusions from a study of an obscure population living in Ecuador prove true, less growth hormone — not more — may help prevent cancer and diabetes in old age.

The discovery, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, backs up earlier research showing that yeast, flies and rodents live longer — in some species, as much as 10 times longer — when they grow slowly.

"There are a lot of people giving human growth hormone to fight aging," said Dr. Nir Barzilai, a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, who was not involved in the research. "The question is, will you live longer and healthier? I think these studies suggest maybe not."

The discovery hinged on a group of extended relatives living in the Andes in Ecuador, many of whom share a genetic mutation that shuts off receptors to human growth hormone. The hormone helps regulate metabolism throughout the body and the way that cells change as they age.

The mutation, called E180, is one of several that cause Laron syndrome, a disorder that stunts growth after birth by about 50%.

The most obvious effects of the disorder are negative, said study coauthor Dr. Jaime Guevara-Aguirre of the Institute of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Reproduction in Quito, Ecuador. These include short stature — people with Laron grow to be about 3 to 4 feet tall — and high infant mortality.

But Guevara-Aguirre, who treats Laron patients, saw a positive side too: Virtually none of them got cancer or diabetes.

He eventually joined forces with study senior author Valter Longo, a USC cell biologist who researches aging. Longo's team had been looking at yeast and mice that also lacked growth genes. Both organisms were about half the normal size; the yeast lived three times longer than normal and the mice lived 40% longer.

Longo's team had found that cells from the mutant yeast and mice were protected against DNA damage. The Laron patients provided an opportunity to see if the same held true in humans.

The researchers collected health histories of 99 patients over age 10 and death statistics of 53 other Ecuadoreans with Laron who died before Guevara-Aguirre began his work in the 1980s. They also collected data on more than 1,600 unaffected relatives of the Laron patients.

There were 30 deaths in the Laron group: eight from heart disease, one from stroke and 21 from non-age-related causes, including an unusual number from convulsive disorders, accidents or alcohol-related issues.

Only one person got cancer. She did not die from it. Cancer accounted for about 20% of deaths of relatives without Laron.

None of those with Laron had diabetes, even though 21% of the Laron patients were obese. Diabetes caused 5% of relatives' deaths.

The team took serum taken from patients and unaffected relatives and added them to human cells. They found that the serum from Laron patients protected DNA from breakage that can contribute to cancer. Serum from unaffected relatives did not.

The Laron serum also promoted a kind of suicide among damaged cells. This, Longo said, might protect against cancer by killing off cells that are about to turn rogue.

"The results are about as clear as you can get," said Andrzej Bartke of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, Ill., who has seen similar results in his work on aging in mice.

Experts said the study casts doubt on the use of human growth hormone injections to combat aging. Though the treatment has been shown to improve muscle mass, doctors have worried that it may raise the risk for diabetes and cancer.

Dr. Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston University and a critic of the growth hormone industry, said the research provided "yet more dramatic evidence that growth hormone does the opposite of what the hucksters and the anti-aging industry promote." He was not involved with the study.

In 2009, Americans spent $1.35 billion on growth hormone treatments, filling 431,000 prescriptions, according to the healthcare information and consulting company IMS Health.

Longo said the research might lead to drugs that suppress growth hormone to prevent many diseases of aging, much the way statin drugs are used to lower cholesterol and prevent cardiac disease.

The goal of such prevention wouldn't be to live longer, but to live disease-free for as long as possible, he said.

"These mice and the Laron patients don't seem to have chronic conditions," he added. "They live long lives, and then they drop dead."

Bonnie - I have said incessantly that you are flirting with disaster if taking HGH. I have seen too many people have regrettable outcomes from long-term use.

CSPI: two types of soda coloring carcinogenic

Two types of caramel coloring used in some sodas and foods contain two carcinogens and should be banned, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The caramel coloring used in some sodas is manufactured via a chemical reaction between sugars, ammonia, and sulfates. These reactions produce the two carcinogens: 2-methylimidazole (2-MEI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), he says. These chemicals have been shown to cause cancer in mice and rats. Representatives from the beverage industry and from the Coca-Cola Company reject the claims that the additives are dangerous, and Coca-Cola notes in a statement that 4-MEI "forms normally in the ‘browning reaction’ while cooking, even in one’s own kitchen." Jacobson says that 2-MEI and 4-MEI "are not potent carcinogens, but it is totally inappropriate to accept any risk from artificial coloring that has no nutritional or preservative value." Natural alternatives -- including dark colorings from beets or carrots -- do exist, he says. Alternatively, the soda industry could market clear colas. The FDA will now review the petition.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lyfe Kitchen Healthy Fast Food.

LYFE’s vegan-friendly menu will feature oven-baked sweet potato fries; sweet corn chowder with cashew cream, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh chives; Art’s Unfried Chicken, with all-natural barbeque sauce, roasted kaboucha squash and Brussels sprouts; and wild mushroom flatbread, with goat cheese, aged balsamic, and choice of Italian turkey sausage or Gardein Italian sausage. Burgers will be available, but they will be made from Niman Ranch premium beef and feature romaine, tomato, red onion, agave pickles, agave ketchup, LYFE’s signature sauce and a multi-grain roll. The Chicago Tribune reports that at LYFE “butter, cream and high-fructose corn syrup are banned, and none of the food is fried.” No dish will have more than 600 calories, the company says, and every menu item will “feature responsibly sourced ingredients, from local farms and sustainable whenever possible, and will rely on herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables to enhance the flavor profile.” The company is also focused on building a socially responsible brand that is engaged in philanthropy. “We believe it is equally important to serve great-tasting, affordable food that is good for you as it is to serve the community around us,” LYFE writes on its Facebook page.

Lyfe's first store will be open in Paolo Alto, CA this summer.

http://lyfekitchen.com/

Zinc shortens duration of colds

Taking supplemental zinc through the first few days of a cold may shorten the misery of an upper respiratory infection, according to Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Zinc also cut the number of days that kids missed school because of being sick and reduced the use of antibiotics by cold sufferers. It also appeared to prevent colds in people who used it over the course of about five months. “This is great news,” says Kay Dickersin, PhD, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “We really don’t have interventions for colds that work.”

An analysis representing more than 1,500 people found about 40% fewer colds in those who were taking zinc supplements to prevent colds compared to those taking a placebo. Side effects reported by zinc users included nausea and a bad or metallic taste in the mouth.

Bonnie - the nausea comes from taking zinc on an empty stomach. It should be taken with a protein meal. The metallic taste usually means that your zinc levels are optimal. Supplementing extra for a short time will not be harmful.

This research is obviously not a secret to my clients. I have recommended zinc for colds since I began counseling.

A few important things to take note of:

1) Do not take more than 50 mg. of total supplemental zinc per day. Amounts of 50 mg. per day can be toxic.
2) You may need tiny amount of copper (if not in your multivitamin/mineral). Zinc can deplete copper. However, if you drink filtered tap water that comes from copper pipes, you do not need extra copper.
3) Try to take a chelated source of supplemental zinc for better absorption.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Take: Health's Top 10 Chain Breakfasts a Joke

Editors at Health magazine gave USA TODAY an advance look at their top 10 picks for healthy chain-restaurant breakfasts, which will be featured in the March issue: ** only two of the ten made our grade.

1. Cosi's spinach Florentine breakfast wrap, 334 calories. Our take: way too high in sodium, fat, and cholesterol, and fake ingredients
**2. Starbucks' protein artisan snack plate with a hard-boiled egg, cheddar cheese and apple slices, multigrain muesli bread, grapes and honey-butter spread, 370 calories. Our take: okay sans the honey butter spread
3. Jamba Juice's berry topper ideal meal, 12 ounces, made with yogurt, soy milk, strawberries, blueberries, banana and topped with pumpkin flaxseed granola, 300. Our take: too much sugar
4. Au Bon Pain's apple-cinnamon oatmeal, 12 ounces, 280 calories. Our take: where's the protein or healthy fat?
5. Denny's scrambled egg whites, chicken sausage and fruit, 230 calories. Our take: gargantuanly high in fat and sodium
6. McDonald's fruit and maple oatmeal, without brown sugar, 260 calories. Our take: all sugar: where's the protein or healthy fat
**7. IHOP's simple and fit veggie omelet, 320 calories. Our take: high in sodium but otherwise okay
8. Subway's Western egg white and cheese muffin melt, 160 calories.
Our take: high in sodium and fake ingredients
9. Dunkin' Donuts' egg white turkey sausage wake-up wrap, 150 calories. Our take: high in sodium and fake ingredients
10. Panera Bread's breakfast power sandwich, made with Vermont white cheddar and smoked lean ham, 330 calories. Our take: high in sodium and fake ingredients

China Makes Fake Rice from Plastic?

According to the Korean-language “Weekly Hong Kong,” a number of Chinese companies may be mass producing fake rice, which can be potentially very dangerous. The paper claims that fake rice is being distributed in the Chinese town of Taiyuan, in Shaanxi province. This “rice” is a mix of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plastic. It is formed by mixing the potatoes and sweet potatoes into the shape of rice grains, then adding industrial synthetic resins. Since the rice does not behave like normal rice, it stays hard even after it has been cooked. Such synthetic resins can also be very harmful if consumed. A Chinese Restaurant Association official said that eating three bowls of this fake rice would be like eating one plastic bag. Due to the seriousness of the matter, the official added that there would be an investigation of factories alleged to be producing the rice. Meanwhile, the low cost of the fake rice is allowing wholesalers to make large profits.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Slimming supplements ineffective

Slimming supplements are an ineffective weight loss method, according to a review in Nutrition Bulletin. The review states that there is insufficient evidence backing the efficacy of weight loss supplements, and the therefore should not be recommended by health professionals to the overweight and obese. She concluded lifestyle and dietary were more likely to yield positive results. The author went on to mention that health professionals need to be aware of the potential safety concerns associated with their use and also advise individuals that most supplements are costly and may result in frustration and disappointment when expectations are not successfully met in the long-term.

Some supplements referenced in the study included L-carnitine, guarana seed powder, bean extract, konjac extract, polyglucosamine, cabbage powder, fiber pills, sodium alginate formulations and selected plant extracts.

Bonnie - as with prescription diet medication, I concur with the overall results of this study on slimming supplements. Many of these products can be dangerous and contradict with other supplements and medications. I am also appalled by the way they are marketed. That said, there is a very short list of extremely safe supplements that I use to speed up the weight loss process in certain individuals. However, I use them sparingly and always as an adjunct to complete, individualized diet and lifestyle changes.

Diet Soda's Link to Heart Health

The second study in the last four years suggests drinking diet soda may significantly increase the risk of having a stroke or other vascular system disorder.clearpxl

University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine presented research at the American Stroke Association’s annual conference stating that people who drank diet soda every day have a 61 percent higher risk of having a vascular event, compared to people who don’t drink any diet soda.

The researchers said their findings suggest switching from regular soda to diet soda is not an effective strategy in lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study included 2,564 participants who were asked about their soda consumption habits. During an average follow-up of 9.3 years, 559 vascular events occurred, including ischemic stroke, which is caused by the rupture of a weakened blood vessel.

The researchers said that the risk of this type of stroke remained high, even when accounting for other risk factors, including a patient’s metabolic syndrome, peripheral vascular disease and heart disease history.

In 2007, data from the famous Framingham heart study also reported a link between people who drank sodas -- diet or otherwise – and a 48% higher risk for metabolic syndrome, a condition that is known to double one’s risk of developing heart disease.

Bonnie - I guess docs have not been paying attention to neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock and other researchers who have said for year that artificial sweeteners destroy vitamin B-6, magnesium, thus causing short-circuiting of the neurotransmission and depleting vital heart-healthy nutrients.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

End water fluoridation? Speak up.

In January 2011, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended reducing the levels of fluoride added to drinking water based on national survey data showing that 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis (a visible sign of fluoride toxicity). HHS has proposed reducing the level of fluoride added to water from 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million (ppm) to 0.7 ppm, and is now soliciting public comment due by February 14.

While HHS's decision is a baby step in the right direction, it is not good enough. Even at the new recommended level, millions of infants will continue to be regularly over-exposed to fluoride, millions of American children will continue to develop dental fluorosis, and millions of Americans - children and adults alike - will remain at risk to the health effects caused by fluoride.

On Friday, the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) submitted its comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on its proposal to lower the level of fluoride in drinking water. Science clearly shows that even at this level fluoride remains harmful to many Americans. FAN advises HHS to stop fluoridation completely because it is unnecessary, unethical, the benefits wildly exaggerated, and the risks minimized.

It's important that HHS receive as many comments as possible. You can email your comments by February 14th directly to HSS at CWFcomments@cdc.gov.

Fruits, veggies on the cheap?

Vegetables and fruits should take up almost half the plate, according to the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and following that advice will cost only about $2 to $2.50 a day.

A new report, "How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost?" from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, checked out the average retail price for 153 fresh and processed vegetables and fruits.

The study found that fruit prices ranged from a low of 17 cents per cup for fresh watermelon to $2.06 per cup for fresh raspberries. Vegetable prices ranged from dry pinto beans, at 13 cents per cup, to $2.07 per cup for frozen asparagus cuts and tips.

An adult on a 2,000-calorie diet could satisfy the daily requirements for 2-2.5 cups of fruit and 2.5-3.5 cups of vegetables at an average cost of less then $2.50, the study concluded.
  • Fresh fruits that cost less than 50 cents per cup include watermelon, bananas, apples, navel oranges, honeydew melon, plums and nectarines.
  • Applesauce was the least expensive of the canned fruits.
  • Strawberries, at $2.12 per pound, were the cheapest of the frozen, unsweetened fruits.
  • At 40 cents per reconstituted cup, frozen concentrated apple juice was the least expensive fruit juice.
  • Raisins, at $2.42 per pound, were the most economical dried fruit.
  • Eight fresh vegetables could be purchased for less than 50 cents per cup: whole carrots, iceberg lettuce, onions, cauliflower, celery, baby carrots, romaine and radishes.
Retail prices, the study points out, can be a poor indicator of actual cost on a per cup basis. For example, fresh broccoli florets and fresh ears of sweet corn both sell for around $1.80 a pound, but after removing the husks, silks and cob, the corn would cost $1.17 per cup, almost twice as much as broccoli florets at 63 cents per cup.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Lifestyle afftecs life expectancy, quality of life.

How long your parents lived does not necessarily affect how long you will live. Instead it is how you live your life that determines how old you will get, reveals research from the Journal of Internal Medicine. It is often assumed that people with parents who lived to be very old are more likely to live to a grand old age themselves. Those who did not smoke, consumed moderate amounts of coffee and had a good socio-economic status at the age of 50 (measured in terms of housing costs), as well as good physical working capacity at the age of 54 and low cholesterol at 50 had the greatest chance of celebrating their 90th birthday.

The study clearly shows that we can influence several of the factors that decide how old we get. This is positive not only for the individual, but also for society as it doesn't entail any major drug costs.


In another study from Journal of Gerontology, increased life expectancy in the United States has not been accompanied by more years of perfect health. A 20-year-old today can expect to live one less healthy year over his or her lifespan than a 20-year-old a decade ago, even though life expectancy has grown. Average "morbidity," or, the period of life spend with serious disease or loss of functional mobility, has increased in the last few decades. "We have always assumed that each generation will be healthier and longer lived than the prior one," researchers explained. "However, the compression of morbidity may be as illusory as immortality."

The average number of healthy years has decreased since 1998. We spend fewer years of our lives without disease, even though we live longer. "There is substantial evidence that we have done little to date to eliminate or delay disease while we have prevented death from diseases," researchers explained. "At the same time, there have been substantial increases in the incidences of certain chronic diseases, specifically, diabetes."

News Flash! Junk food lowers IQ

Kids who eat a diet high in fats, sugars, and processed foods in early childhood appear to grow up to have a lower IQ, while those who eat a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients grow to have higher intelligence, new research from Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests. The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children is tracking the long-term health and well-being of around 14,000 children born in 1991 and 1992.

The researchers broke up the kids into three dietary patterns: "processed" high in fats and sugar intake "traditional" high in meat and vegetable intake "health conscious" high in salad, fruit and vegetables, rice and pasta. After the researchers adjusted their findings for several factors, including breastfeeding duration and the amount of oily fish their mothers consumed while pregnant, they found that a highly processed food diet at the age of three was linked with a lower IQ at the age of 8.5. Every 1 point increase in dietary pattern score was associated with a 1.67 fall in IQ.

On the other hand, a healthy diet was associated with a higher IQ at the age of 8.5, with every 1 point increase in dietary pattern linked to a 1.2 increase in IQ. They also found that it didn't matter if the children's diets improved or worsened at older ages. Dietary patterns between the ages of 4 and 7 had no impact on IQ.

The authors note that the brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life. Other research has found that head growth at this time is linked to intellectual ability.

Vitamin D levels associated with reduced colon cancer, MS risk

High blood levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, according to a new study in the International Journal of Cancer. Analysis revealed that, for every 10 nanograms per milliliter increase in levels of vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) the associated risk of colorectal cancer decreased by 15 percent in study subjects.

People who have spent more time in the sun and those with higher vitamin D levels may be less likely to develop multiple sclerosis, according to a study in Neurology. Previous studies have shown that people living close to the equator are less likely to get multiple sclerosis (MS) than those at higher latitudes, a difference that may be explained by more sun exposure and higher vitamin D levels.

Researchers studied Australian adults who has just started having the first symptoms of MS between 2003 and 2006.They also found a comparison group of people from the same regions of Australia, who matched the subjects in age and gender, but had no signs or symptoms of MS. On average, people with the first signs of MS had been exposed to a smaller "UV dose" -- based on how much time they had spent in the sun and how close to the equator they had lived -- over the course of their lives. People with early MS had vitamin D levels 5 to 10 percent lower than those without MS.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Don't give your baby solid foods too early

Courtesy of WebMD

Starting solid foods too early among certain infants may increase the risk of becoming obese by three years of age, according to a study by Harvard researchers. The study, published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found formula-fed infants who were given solid foods before they were four months old were far more likely to be obese at age three, compared to babies introduced to solid foods after age of four months. However, among breastfed infants there was no association with the timing of solid-food introduction and obesity.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that while 75% of women report breastfeeding their newborn children, only about one-third of women are exclusively breastfeeding their children when they are three months old. Huh said that holding off the introduction of solid food until babies are at least four months old is one way parents can reduce the risk of their infants becoming overweight.

Among the 847 babies, 67% were breastfed and 33% were formula fed at the age of four months. Researchers then looked the timing of solid-food introduction and they obtained information on height and weight through the age of three years, as well as a gauge of fat measured using skin folds, to see if solid-food timing had any impact on obesity risk. They found that formula-fed babies given solid food before they were four months old had a six-fold increase in the risk of becoming obese compared to babies introduced to solid food after four months. Reseachers found that 7% of breastfed babies were considered obese at age three--or having a body-mass index at or greater than the 95th percentile on children's growth charts--compared to 13% of formula-fed children. About 17% of children in the breastfed-group were given solid foods after six months compared to 9% of the formula-only group, suggesting that formula-fed babies were started on solid foods earlier than breastfed babies.

Complementary, Alternative Medicine on the rise

More Americans are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including those who have trouble meeting the cost of conventional care, a study shows. “The rising cost of health care is outpacing inflation and salaries, and there’s a good possibility that that is linked to increasing CAM use,” says study researcher Dejun Su, PhD, a sociologist at the University of Texas - Pan American. The study of CAM trends is published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

CAM, which includes such practices as yoga, massage, nutrition, herbal medicine, and meditation, has been increasing in popularity for many years. In 1990, a third of all Americans had used some form of CAM. By 2002, the number of people who had tried CAM had nearly doubled. The numbers, Su and his colleague Lifeng Li report, remain on the rise. Their study compares data from the 2002 and 2007 National Health Interview Surveys, which are conducted annually by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, to track the health care status of Americans and their access to the health care system.

Overall, there was a 14% increase in the use of CAM over the five-year period. That uptick was expected. What surprised Su was the “expanding gap” in the rate of CAM use between non-Hispanic whites and African-American and Hispanic populations. Whites were more than twice as likely to see a CAM provider as African-Americans or Hispanics. CAM use by Hispanics increased by only 1% over the five-year period. Asians used CAM practices only slightly less than whites. Among the most popular forms of CAM for all groups were massage and chiropractic care. More than a third of those who said they used CAM practices in 2007 also reported that they had an unmet medical need or had delayed getting medical care. Su speculates that this is due to the greater affordability of CAM, including provider-based CAM practices, compared to conventional medicine.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Study: eat school lunch and increase your obesity risk

Courtesy of the New York Times

Researchers say they have identified another risk factor for childhood obesity: school lunch. A study of more than 1,000 sixth graders in several schools in southeastern Michigan found that those who regularly had the school lunch were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who brought lunch from home. Spending two or more hours a day watching television or playing video games also increased the risk of obesity, but by only 19 percent. Of the 142 obese children in the study for whom dietary information was known, almost half were school-lunch regulars, compared with only one-third of the 787 who were not obese. “Most school lunches rely heavily on high-energy, low-nutrient-value food, because it’s cheaper,” said Dr. Kim A. Eagle, director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, and senior author of the paper, published in the American Heart Journal. In some schools where the study was done, lunch programs offered specials like “Tater Tot Day,” he said. Help is on the way, though. Under a federal law passed in December, Department of Agriculture guidelines will limit the number of calories served at every school meal and require programs to offer a broad variety of fruits and vegetables — not just corn and potatoes.

Study supports restricted diet for kids with ADHD

Courtesy of Reuters

Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be fed a special diet to help their carers determine whether certain foods are making their condition worse. In a study of 100 children with ADHD -- one of the world's most common child mental disorders -- scientists from Radboud University and the ADHD Research Center in the Netherlands found that a restricted diet led to significant improvements in the symptoms of some ADHD sufferers. "Dietary intervention should be considered in all children with ADHD, provided parents are willing to follow a diagnostic restricted elimination diet for a five-week period, and provided expert supervision is available," the scientists said in their study in The Lancet medical journal.ADHD is estimated to affect around 3 to 5 percent of children worldwide.

Previous studies have suggested that in some children, ADHD might be an allergic or hypersensitivity disorder that could be triggered by any type of food that can cause allergic reactions. In this study, children aged four to eight years diagnosed with ADHD were divided into two groups and given either an elimination diet or a general healthy diet for five weeks. Jan Buitelaar of Radboud University, who led the study, said that the elimination diet was restricted to rice, water, white meat such as turkey, and some fruits and vegetables that are generally considered as unlikely to cause allergies. Foods such as wheat, tomatoes, oranges, eggs and dairy products were kept out of the diet as they are often linked with allergies or food intolerances.

After five weeks, children who reacted well to the restricted diet went into a second phase in which different groups of foods were gradually added to their diet and their symptoms monitored to see if they worsened. The foods were different for each child, based on blood results.In the first phase, 64 percent of children in the diet group had significant improvements in their ADHD symptoms, Buitelaar said, and showed a decrease in "oppositional defiant disorder symptoms" such as challenging behavior.

Bonnie - it is nice to see a group of scientists had the courage to perform this study. Those of us who have working with ADHD children and their parents have known for years how efficacious removing food triggers can be. This is a diet proven to work by Dr. Feingold and other US researchers from over thirty years ago. When all of the ADHD drugs came out, this diet and its proponents were ridiculed.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Why Does the Price of CoQ10 Vary So Much?

Even though the price of our favorite CoQ10, Metagenics CoQ10ST-100 60 and 120 softgels, has been drastically reduced by $15 and $30 a bottle, respectively, it is still not cheap. So why do other brands sell for less? Like us, not all CoQ10's are created equal.

CoQ10 is one of the most important, broad-based supplemental nutrients for the prevention of myriad health conditions. For this reason, there are numerous factors to consider
when considering a CoQ10 supplement. Unfortunately, much of the valuable information is unavailable to the consumer when he/she makes their purchasing decision. One thing we can tell you for sure: with CoQ10 especially, you get what you pay for. The levels of quality vary tremendously.

Crystals are formed when CoQ10 is produced commercially and require harmful solvents to dissolve them under intense heat. Unfortunately, CoQ10 will recrystallize upon cooling, creating even larger crystals, which can affect solubility. Manufacturers of the highest quality CoQ10 avert mass crystallization, but it comes at a very high price, some of which is passed onto the consumer. In addition, manufacturers of the highest quality CoQ10 will not use synthetic solvents, but organic solvents such as D-limonene.

CoQ10 oxidizes almost instantaneously when exposed to air. Hence, we always recommend supplemental CoQ10 products that are delivered in softgel form to assure a smooth, oxidized-free delivery to the gut's absorption sites.

CoQ10 is highly lipophilic and practically insoluble in water, which affects bioavailability. Because it is strongly dependent on fat for absorption, high quality CoQ10 manufacturers have discovered ways to create successful preparations of lipid vehicles, such as vegetable oil and vitamin E to improve absorption. Supplement CoQ10 should always be accompanied by a fat and antioxidant to ensure that it is fully to absorbed.

What we have always been most concerned about is making sure a supplement is safe, meets label claim, and is formulated to deliver optimal absorption. The CoQ10 products we recommend are usually more expensive than many on the market, but for the reasons discussed, we know you are getting what you pay for. We cannot say the same for many other CoQ10 products out there.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

E-mail, phone contact as effective strategies in the maintenance of weight loss in adults

Email
This Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics study aimed to assess the effects of dietetic support through e-mail on weight loss maintenance on individuals who were successful in weight loss (one group kept connected to their health professional through email and the other group did not. At 6 months, the e-mail group maintained an average weight loss of 10%, which was significantly greater than the mean percentage weight loss maintained by the control group. The control group regained weight at a statistically significant greater velocity than the e-mail group. In conclusion, the study showed that dietetic support using e-mail can be used effectively and economically in reducing weight gain velocity and assisting in the maintenance of weight loss.

Steve - the original purpose of our eNewsletters was to keep you connected to wellness. In return, many clients have told us that our eNewsletters have had this effect. Recently, we have stepped up the effort with our more intensive, subscription-based eNewsletter in addition to our free version. Clearly, keeping an email connection with your health professional can only be a positive thing. Do you agree? Comment below.

Phone
Counseling sessions by phone on how to maintain health helped a group of subjects stick with the changes, according to the study in the American Journal of Cardiology. This is important because the number of patients per health professional is growing in some areas, and some patients have trouble getting to a clinic to get counseling -- so health care providers need to find some new ways to deliver healthy lifestyle messages.

The researchers wanted to know whether getting extra counseling, in addition to what patients usually get, would improve health in people with a high risk of heart disease. About half the participants also got six phone counseling sessions, spread over two months, on how to maintain health. There was a higher percentage of people in the counseled group that kept to both the diet and exercise programs. Overall, the average blood pressure decreased in the counseled group.

Fermented wheat flour okay for celiacs? Don't buy it.

Baked goods made from wheat flour fermented with certain micro-organisms may be tolerated by celiac disease patients, according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The new study evaluated the safety of a daily administration to celiac disease patients (for 60 days) of goods made of wheat flour hydrolyzed during food processing by a mixture of selected sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases. The researchers evaluated the effects on 16 otherwise healthy patients with celiac disease, who had been on a gluten-free diet for at least five years. Patients were randomly assigned to consumption of 200 grams per day of natural flour baked goods (NFBG) (containing 80127 ppm of gluten), extensively hydrolyzed flour baked goods (containing 2480 ppm residual gluten, or fully hydrolyzed baked goods (8 ppm residual gluten). The authors reported that two of the six patients on the natural flour diet discontinued the study because of symptoms such as malaise, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. All of the patients consuming natural flour were found to have increased levels of anti–tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies and small bowel deterioration. Patients who ate extensively hydrolyzed flour reported no clinical complaints, but were found to have developed subtotal atrophy – complete absence of the fingerlike protrusions in the gut that necessary for absorption. The five patients that ate the fully hydrolyzed baked goods reported no clinical complaints, and were found to have no changes in the levels of anti-tTG antibodies. Non toxic The authors concluded that a 60-day diet of baked goods made from hydrolyzed wheat flour, manufactured.

The researchers strongly emphasized that prolonged trials have to be planned to state the safety of the baked goods manufactured by applying this rediscovered and adapted biotechnology.

Bonnie - here is the bottom line: testing hydrolyzed flour sixty days is a very short period of time to test overall safety. As many celiacs know, it can take years, even decades, for celiac to be diagnosed. So sixty days is a minute amount of time to test in patients who had been gluten-free for 5 years.

I want to emphasize that this study is VERY preliminary and in know way, shape, or form do I advocate celiacs to consume this type of flour.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Link between swine flu shot, narcolepsy studied

Courtesy of Associated Press

Finnish researchers have found an increased risk of narcolepsy among 4 to 19-year-olds who were given swine flu shots, a government health agency said Tuesday. A preliminary study by the National Narcolepsy Task Force indicates that children vaccinated with Pandemrix "contributed to the observed increase in incidence of narcolepsy" compared to those who were not vaccinated in the same age group, it said. The agency said, however, that the increase likely was caused "by joint effect of the vaccine and some other factor," and added that it would have to conduct more research as similar increases in narcolepsy cases have not been reported in other countries using the vaccine.

Pandemrix shots were made for the swine flu pandemic, and it is not clear how many people would still be receiving them since the usual flu shot now includes the swine flu strain. In Finland, health personnel stopped administering Pandemrix in August 2010 when concerns were first voiced about the vaccine. Narcolepsy is a rare disorder that causes people to suddenly fall asleep. It is seldom fatal. The National Institute for Health and Welfare, which published the findings, said that 60 children and adolescents contracted narcolepsy in Finland in 2009 and 2010. Fifty-two of them — or almost 90 percent — had received the Pandemrix vaccine, it added. It's not clear how many in the young age group were vaccinated with Pandemrix but half of Finland's 5.3 million population were given the shot during the winter of 2009 to 2010.

"Based on the preliminary analyses, the risk of falling ill with narcolepsy among those vaccinated in the 4-19 years age group was nine-fold in comparison to those unvaccinated in the same age group," the study said. It found that the biggest increase was among those aged 5 to 15 years. No cases were seen among those under age 4 or over age 19. The European Medicines Agency, the regulatory body responsible for authorizing use of the vaccine, launched an investigation into a possible link between the swine flu vaccine and narcolepsy in August.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC, which produces Pandemrix, said it was aware of the Finnish report. "This investigation is independent of a broader ongoing European Medicines Agency investigation initiated in 2010," the company said in a statement. "GlaxoSmithKline is reviewing the report and believes it would be premature to draw any conclusions on a potential association between Pandemrix and narcolepsy until this European investigation has been completed." The company said that more than 31 million doses of Pandemrix had been administered in 47 countries with 162 cases of narcolepsy reported in people who were vaccinated. Some 70 percent of the cases originated in Finland and Sweden, it said.

The World Health Organization welcomed the report but said it does not recommend any changes to use of Pandemrix and that the vaccine remains on the list of recommended vaccines. The European Medicines Agency also said that it would not change its assessment of the benefit-risk relating to use of the vaccine. The Finnish institute said the association between narcolepsy and the Pandemrix vaccine needs more investigation with special attention on "infections and other stimuli in close time association with the pandemic vaccination." The agency said its final report would be published in August.

National Institute for Health and Welfare: http://www.thl.fi/doc/en/24103