Monthly Archives: August 2009 - Page 2

Irvingia gabonensis helps with weight loss and cholesterol

A recent study of more than 100 overweight or obese individuals found that Irvingia gabonensis facilitates weight loss and lowers cholesterol. This study is the latest of several that have shown that this West African plant promotes loss of body weight, but it is the first double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial to show that it lowers weight and cholesterol.

Irvingia gabonensis is a deciduous tree that grows in West and Central Africa. The tree produces edible yellow fruit and seeds whose extract is used for various medicinal purposes, including weight loss, high cholesterol, and elevated blood glucose.

The study consisted of 102 overweight or obese individuals who were otherwise healthy and who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received 150 mg of a seed extract of Irvingia gabonensis and the other group received a placebo, 30 to 60 minutes before lunch and dinner daily for ten weeks. All the participants were evaluated for weight loss, fasting lipids, blood glucose, and several other parameters at baseline, 4, 8, and 10 weeks of the study.

At the end of the study, the investigators found that the treated group had significant improvement in body weight, body fat, and waist circumference, as well as levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, blood glucose, C-reactive protein (an indicator for risk of heart disease), adiponectin (a hormone involved in metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity), and leptin (a hormone that turns off appetite).

Researchers believe Irvingia gabonensis promotes weight loss in several ways. One is by increasing the levels of adiponectin; another is through inhibition of an enzyme called amylase, which reduces the amount of starches the body will absorb as sugar. Irvingia gabonensis also inhibits glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, which helps block the amount of blood sugar that the body converts to fat.

Given the results of this latest study, as well as previous ones, researchers are hopeful Irvingia gabonensis will prove useful in managing and treating obesity, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and conditions related to them.

Sources: Ngondi JL et al. Lipids Health Dis 2009 Mar 2; 8:7.
Ngondi JL et al. Lipids Health Dis 2005 May 25;4:12.
Oben JE, Blum K. Lipids Health Dis 2008 Mar 31; 7:12.

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Broad Differences Occur In Alcohol, Tobacco, Illegal Drug Use Across Countries

A survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) research consortium found that the United States had among the highest lifetime rates of tobacco and alcohol use and led in the proportion of participants reporting cannabis (marijuana) or cocaine use at least once during their lifetime. The study, led by Dr. Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and colleagues, looked at patterns in the use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and cocaine in 17 countries representing all six WHO regions (the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania). The study, funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is published in the July 1, 2008 issue of the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

“These findings add to our understanding of substance abuse world-wide, and suggest that drug use is still a major problem in this country, pointing to the need for more effective prevention interventions,” said Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, NIH director.

“A survey of lifetime use does not provide the entire picture; however, because it does not reflect current use or trends over time,” said Dr. Volkow, sounding a note of caution. “For example, although lifetime use of tobacco was reported by this study to be 74 percent in the U.S., current use has been documented at approximately 30 percent. Moreover, NIDA’s Monitoring the Future survey has been consistently reporting a decrease in the past year use of illicit drugs over the past decade, so this survey may reflect a longer history of drug use in certain countries relative to others, but not necessarily current trends.”

Among the significant findings of this study were:

* Across countries and across the drug types in this survey, drug use is becoming more common over time.

* Males were more likely than females to have used all drug types in all countries and all age groups.

* Younger adults were more likely than older adults to have used these substances.

* Those with higher incomes were more likely to have used legal and illegal drugs.

* Alcohol had been used by the vast majority of survey participants in the Americas, Europe, Japan, and New Zealand, compared to smaller proportions in the Middle East, Africa and China.

* Alcohol use by age 15 was far more common in European countries than in the Middle East or Africa.

* Lifetime tobacco use was most common in the United States (74 percent), Lebanon (67 percent) Mexico and the Ukraine (60 and 61 percent), followed by the Netherlands (58 percent.)

“In addition to the factors measured in this study, the role of culture, drug availability and knowledge about drug use are likely to be important in the types and patterns of drug use throughout the world,” said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, NIDA director. “Even within the United States, rates and patterns of substance use differ based on geographical location and ethnicity, among other factors.”

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New Resources To Fight Tobacco Use

WHO welcomes the announcement from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Bloomberg Philanthropies to inject significant new resources into the globalfight against tobacco use. This contribution will help countries with limited resources reduce tobacco use, and it offers WHO and its partners new opportunities to reverse this growing epidemic, especially in the developing world.

“The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control demonstrated the global resolve to tackle this problem and WHO has developed interventions proven to be effective to combat tobacco use,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “I warmly welcome this contribution and I am especially pleased with its focus on Africa.”

If trends continue, this epidemic could kill one billion people by the end of this century, with more than 80% of these deaths occurring in developing countries. The tobacco industry is targeting young women and children as its next group of tobacco users.

To help countries fulfil the promise of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO created MPOWER, a package of six effective tobacco control policies: raising taxes and prices; banning advertising, promotion and sponsorship; protecting people from second-hand smoke; educating everyone about the dangers of tobacco; offering help to people who want to quit; and tracking the epidemic and prevention policies. These steps have proven to reduce tobacco use.

“As policies, funding and interventions are aligning, our global resolve is being transformed into action,” said Dr Chan. “We must intensify our efforts to reach the 95% of the world’s people who are not benefiting from the effective MPOWER interventions. With leadership and support, we can save the lives of millions of people.”


World Health Organization

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Why weight loss requires strength training, even in women and seniors

Did you know that strength training is crucial for successfully losing weight and keeping it off? I’m talking about weight-bearing exercise. It doesn’t have to be a huge, hulking workout where you’re trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, it just has to be some basic strength training.

Why is strength training important for losing weight? Because a lot of people try to starve themselves into weight loss. They think it’s all about controlling calories. Unfortunately, a lot of dieticians and nutritionists don’t really understand strength training, and they also think that it’s just about calories. Calories in, calories out. If you have a calorie deficit, you’re going to lose weight, if you consume extra calories, you’ll gain body fat. While that’s true, it’s only part of the picture. Sure, you need a calorie deficit to lose weight, but how does your body actually use calories? It’s your lean body mass, that muscle mass underneath your body fat, that burns calories 24/7, allowing you to actually eat more calories without gaining weight.

Let’s say you happen to be quite obese and you have a high percentage of body fat. I used to be in that situation; I know what it feels like. Underneath that body fatyou actually have a very strong skeleton and strong muscles. Your body has built up those muscles in order to carry all of that extra body fat when you move your body. Just the very act of standing up, walking across a parking lot, going up a flight of stairs or lifting your arms requires more effort when you’re overweight, especially if you’re obese. So the heavier you are, the stronger your muscles have to be just to allow you to do basic, everyday things.

Now this can actually work to your advantage — if you manage to keep all of that muscle mass and bone density in place while you are losing body fat, then you can maintain the high metabolism that’s associated with that lean body mass even while you are dropping body fat. But if you starve yourself, you’re going to lose all the muscle resources you already have. It’s a mistake a lot of people make. They try to lose body fat by starving themselves, and as the body fat vanishes from their body, their muscle mass also disappears. Why would the body get rid of muscle mass? Because, frankly, it doesn’t need it.

Your body adapts to the need

You see, the body is an adaptive system. It will adapt to whatever loads you place on it. So if you are a heavier person and you’re carrying around body fat, then your body will adapt by creating stronger muscles to lift your body. It’s almost like doing a leg press every time you get up out of the chair. If you weigh 300 lbs you’re doing a 300 lb leg press, you see? Now if you were to drop 150 lbs of body fat and end up at 150 lbs, your body wouldn’t need the same amount of leg muscle to lift you. It would eliminate those leg muscles through catabolic action.

While it eliminates this muscle mass, your metabolism begins to slow. Remember, it’s the lean body mass that’s burning calories day in and day out, even when you’re doing nothing. If you reduce that muscle mass by allowing it to go away (by not challenging your muscles), then your metabolism is going to slow. A lot of people end up at a place where they’ve lost the body fat and they’re lighter, but it’s suddenly so much easier to put on body fat. They don’t have the muscle mass they once did, they’re not automatically burning calories, and if they overeat just a little bit, they’ll start packing on the body fat again.

Strength train while losing weight

The solution to all of this, the strategy I want to focus on here, is to engage in strength training while you are losing body fat. If you do this, then you will be able to maintain the muscle mass that you already have underneath your body fat while you are in the process of losing the fat. This will leave you with a greater proportion of lean body mass to body fat, meaning that you will be slimmer, yet you’ll have the muscles that you had when you were overweight.

If you get rid of enough body fat in this way, then those muscles may begin to show — if you’re a man. If you’re a woman, don’t worry. You’re never going to bulk up. A lot of women are mistakenly afraid of strength training. They think that if they pump a few weights they’re going to turn into Lou Ferrigno overnight. They think they’re going to have this competition muscle-bound body from lifting a couple of weights. Believe me, that is not the case at all. Most of those bodybuilding women are using steroids, and they’ve trained for years, even decades, just to produce that kind of muscle mass. Women are not built to puts on lots of muscle mass, so don’t be afraid that you’ll bulk up. Women who are afraid of exercising because they think it’s going to make them look bigger have it all wrong.

Women need strength training, too

Let’s take a moment to cover that myth here. Let’s say you’re a woman and you have more body fat than you want. You’re trying to decide, “Should I engage instrength training as part of my weight loss program?” Some women say, “No, because I’ll bulk up and it’ll make me look fatter.” That’s a complete myth; it’s totally false.

When you have a high percentage of body fat, that body fat is stored not only in the tissues that are obvious — such as your hips and your midsection, your arms and legs and so on — it’s also stored intramuscularly, which means it’s stored within the muscles of your body. It’s sort of like the marbling of beef from a cow. If you slice a muscle from a cow, there’s some fat inside the muscle — that is the same kind of fat that’s in our muscles when we have a high percentage of body fat.

That fat takes up a lot of space in the muscle, so it actually makes the muscle look bigger, because there’s fat inside. When you start losing body fat, even if you’re engaged in strength training, that intramuscular fat will begin to vanish. So even if your muscle mass begins to grow — which, again, is very difficult for women to accomplish — your overall muscle size is probably going to be smaller when you’re at a lower percentage of body fat. The net change in your muscle size is going to be almost nothing, unless you really start to do strength training on a regular basis for a period of a year or two, and then you might actually begin to put on a little bit more muscle.

Don’t lose the muscle you’ve already built

So with that crazy myth covered, let’s get back to the main point here, which is that engaging in strength training will conserve the muscle mass you have now. Now here’s why this is so important. It’s very easy for your body to shed useless muscle. So if you’re not using a muscle, your body will get rid of it over a few months. It’s gone. But to gain that muscle back — now that takes some effort! That could take months or years of strength training. It is much harder for your body to engage in anabolic reactions (to build muscle mass) than it is for your body to catabolize and get rid of muscles. So, if you decide you’re going to starve yourself while you lose weight and get down to the minimum weight possible, and afterwards you engage in strength training, then you’re going to find that it’s a much more difficult process to gain lean body mass than it was to slim away what you had to begin with. Building lean body mass is a huge challenge.

It’s also important to note that when people talk about weight loss, they throw that term around without really understanding what it means. Everybody says “I want to lose weight,” but they don’t really mean that. They mean they want to lose body fat; they don’t want to just lose weight. A limb amputation will cause you to lose weight, but that’s not what people have in mind! People want to lose body fat. So be careful what you wish for — and don’t use that bathroom scale as a measure of your progress. There are a number of reasons why.

One is if you just starve yourself and you start losing lean body mass, then that counts as weight loss. But you’ve done yourself no good whatsoever, because now you’ve actually lowered your metabolism. The scale says, “Hey! You lost another three pounds!” But it could be 2 lbs of fat and 1 lb of muscle, and that’s not a good situation to be in. You want to lose maybe 2.9 lbs of fat and 0.1 lbs of muscle, or maybe 3 lbs of fat and no muscle. But to do that, you’ve got to challenge your muscular system through some weight bearing exercise.

Don’t forget the glycogen fuel stored in your body

The other thing to keep in mind when you’re using the bathroom scale is that when you first start limiting your calories, your body is going to start burning through its glycogen stores. Glycogen is basically a fuel stored in your body. It stores sugars together with water and locks them up in the tissues and organs of your body like an energy battery, ready for you to use at a future time.

There’s water locked in with those calories. That water weighs a lot. So when you start restricting your calories, the first thing your body burns is this extra storage of energy, this extra glycogen. And the glycogen causes you, as it’s burned, to shed water. You might look at the scale and think, gee, I lost 5 lbs, but you really lost no body fat whatsoever. It was just water, because your body released glycogen. What usually happens to people when their glycogen store has reached zero is they get really hungry, they think they’re in a starvation panic, and then they overeat. Their glycogen stores fill right back up, they gain the 5 lbs back, and usually they overate to such an extent that they store another half a pound of body fat or so. Now they’re half a pound heavier than when they began and they lost no body fat whatsoever. It was just a game of glycogen and water storage they saw reflected on the bathroom scale.

Bathroom scales are useless

So ignore the bathroom scale. It is not useful for telling you how successful you are in losing body fat. I don’t use one at all. The only measure you should use is a “fat scale” or a caliper. A caliper is the best way to measure body fat. Body fat calipers measure the thickness of body fat in key locations around your body. For men, one location is on the upper pectoral area, another is the midsection and the third is on the top of the quadriceps of the leg. For women it’s the back of the arm, the midsection and along the hip.

However, you’ve got to learn how to use a caliper correctly if you want it to be an accurate indicator of fat loss success. I just mention it as a tool for people who are really serious about losing fat. People who use bathroom scales to figure out how much weight they’ve lost are just playing a silly game of deception — the bathroom scale is useless. I mean, you could lose bone mass and you’d still look like you were having lots of progress on the bathroom scale.

How do you lose bone mass? Easy: you stop engaging in exercise, stop walking, stop running. If you do all that (which I’m not recommending, by the way), then you would start to lose bone mineral density, and that would be reflected as weight loss. When you say you want to lose weight, be careful what you ask for. Your body has a number of ways to lose weight that have nothing whatsoever to do with losing body fat or enhancing your overall state of health.

Engage in weight training when losing body fat

Now let’s get back to the main point, strength training and why it is so important. So far, I hope I’ve explained the idea that underneath your body fat you have a strong musculoskeletal system. There’s a lot of muscle mass and good, strong bones underneath all of that body fat. If you find a strategy to conserve that, even while you’re losing body fat, then you can have a much more successful weight loss experience and end up with a strong skeleton and strong muscles at the end of your regimen as well.

The way to do that is to engage in basic weight-bearing strength training while you are pursuing a diet. And it turns out that you don’t have to go crazy on this. I am not suggesting that you go to the gym and start pumping iron on the bench press, 50 reps a day, or that you exhaust your body with crazy workouts. It turns out that you don’t even need to stress your body very much to maintain the current muscle mass that you have.

15 seconds of stress creates new muscle

In fact, there’s a system of strength training called static contraction training that is outstanding for maintaining current muscle mass and even enhancing it if you choose to go that far. The best thing is that it takes very little time. How much time am I talking about? You’ll be amazed to hear this, but literally, it’s true: 15 seconds per muscle group per week. Only 15 seconds per muscle. If you engage that muscle for 15 seconds with high intensity contraction, then your body gets the signal that, hey, it needs that muscle. It needs to keep it around. And your body decides NOT to let that muscle go. It just keeps it, because it figures you need it.

Remember, your body has a lot of wisdom, and it’s trying to conserve calories. The body wants to get rid of muscles it doesn’t need, and in order to keep those muscles, you have to prove to your body that you need them. Now the thing is, your body doesn’t know why you need them. It could be that you’re engaged in some kind of competition, it could be that you need to lift heavy things to survive. Your body doesn’t really know the reason why. You can essentially fool your body by engaging in strength training, giving it the message that it needs to hold on to those muscles in order to survive. So in as little as 15 seconds per muscle group, you can tell your body to hold on to your muscle mass. That’s a 15 second bicep curl, for example, or a 15 second chest press, or a 15 second leg curl…you get the idea.

To learn more on this, I suggest you get a book called Power Factor Training by John Little and Pete Sisco. Check out that book. It gives you the lowdown on how to do this. It’s positioned at bodybuilders, but it’s actually the underground secret book of strength training for people who are 50 years and older. Senior citizens benefit from this tremendously. There are also many golfers who use this system to greatly increase their range and golf swing.

Women are additionally benefiting from this system — when you’re dealing with the potential for osteoporosis when you get up in your years, bone density becomes crucial for your overall health. There is no better way in the world to make sure you have strong bone density than to engage in high intensity, short duration strength training exercises. Static contraction training is, in my view, the very best system of exercise for maintaining not just muscle mass, but also bone mineral density. You will also strengthen your ligaments and tendons.

The key is, as with all forms of exercise, to be sure to work with a qualified health professional before attempting this, especially some of the more high intensity exercises. You may want to ease your way into it and check with your naturopath, doctor or physical therapist to make sure you’re ready for this. You don’t want to injure yourself — that would set you back weeks. So take it a little bit at a time. Remember, your body will adapt slowly, so ease into it slowly. By doing all of this, you’ll be able to conserve the incredible muscle mass that you have underneath that body fat right now.

Accelerated weight loss

The other benefit to doing this is that strength training will greatly increase the speed of your weight loss effort. It will double the effectiveness of any weight loss program you’re on. Losing weight by calorie restriction alone is very, very difficult. In fact, personally, I’ve never been able to do that. The only way I’ve been able to lose body fat (I lost over 50 lbs of body fat, and I’ve kept it off for several years now) is to engage in exercise that includes both a strength training component and a cardiovascular component. My belief is that you cannot keep weight off just by modifying your diet alone, unless you happen to be extremely gifted with just the right genes that don’t ever turn on the hunger signal for you. If you’re in that situation, good for you. But you should probably think about exercising anyway, because of the other cardiovascular health and brain chemistry benefits that are derived from frequent exercise.

Alternative training: Pilates

Now, some people say “Well, I can’t join a gym, I can’t exercise, I don’t want to go to that website and look up static contraction training, I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to pump weights. What do I do instead?” There’s a great solution for people who don’t want to pump weights, and I understand a lot of women are in this situation, nothing wrong with that. You can be very strong without pumping weights if you follow Pilates.

Pilates is a form of body movement and flexibility training that was pioneered by Joseph Pilates almost 100 years ago. The guy was well ahead of his time. This is a system that I definitely follow today. The movements require a lot of strength, but not so much that you can’t get started. There are simple ways to get started with Pilates on a mat that would greatly boost your muscle mass and your overall strength — especially your abdominal strength and your lower back strength. And then, as you gain comfort with that, you can move up to the more advanced movements in Pilates.

And you can even get Pilates equipment, which is rather affordable. The best place for that (in fact we’re going to do a review on some of these machines later) is, which is the website of a manufacturer of Pilates equipment. They have outstanding equipment — 5 stars all the way. This company is great! They even have an affordable home version of this Pilates equipment that runs only a couple of hundred dollars. Well worth the investment.

What does this Pilates system do for you? It will give you strength training all over your body — in your hips, adduction and abduction muscles, abdominal muscles, lower back, traps, biceps, triceps, chest, upper body, lower body and especially in your midsection. It will do all of this for you — I should say with you — without using any weights. So you don’t have to set up a bench press with 200 lbs and see how many reps you can bang out. Pilates can be done in a more artful way. It is a form of body movement that can be very yoga-like if you choose, or it can be done with more power. This is why both men and women find Pilates to be a fantastic system of strength training. I know a lot of people in the performing arts community who rely on Pilates to maintain core strength and flexibility throughout their body, including in their arms, legs and neck muscles.

The cure for joint pain

I’ve got to mention this too: If you engage in Pilates, you may experience one of the benefits that almost everybody experiences when they do this for a couple of months: their joint pain begins to disappear. People always complain about their joint pain, it seems. When I’m at the gym, I hear guys in their 40s — they’re only 45 years old! — and they’re complaining and whining about how much everything hurts. They say, “Oh, wait ’til you’re my age, everything’s gonna hurt!” And I respond with, “I don’t think so!” I’ve experienced chronic pain, and I know what that feels like. But now I do Pilates and engage in outstanding nutrition and the pain is gone.

The body is designed to be healthy, it’s not supposed to hurt. If you feed your body right and if you use and mobilize all those joints, they will not hurt, even to the age of 100. There’s no reason why we can’t live to 100 in a state of perfect health with outstanding cognitive function, free of chronic pain. But to do that, you have to use it. I firmly believe in the concept of “use it or lose it.” If you’re not using those joints, then you’re going to lose their range of motion.

Just ask any physical therapist, they will tell you much the same. You have to have range of motion in order to be free of pain. The difficulty is that as we get older, we tend to stop using all of those muscles and joints in their full range of motion. A lot of people who say that chronic pain is related to aging are really confusing cause and effect. It’s not related to aging, it’s related to the number of years that they’ve stopped using their body.

For example, take a person who is a dancer or someone engaged in yoga, Pilates or flexibility well into their 80s or 90s, and they won’t have joint pain. If aging causes joint pain, then how is it that these people have no pain? The answer is because they keep mobilizing those joints, they keep using their body. They engage in Tai Chi or other gentle body movements. And they are free from pain. By the way, Tai Chi is another outstanding way to get range of motion, but it won’t do quite the same thing for you in terms of muscle mass as Pilates training or other weight bearing exercises. (Tai Chi has many other energetic benefits, though, which are beyond the scope of this article.)

What’s missing from all diets

The bottom line is if you are attempting to lose weight, or more specifically to lose body fat, then engaging in some form of strength training is crucial to your success. I know there are a lot of books out there that say well, you can just change your foods, or you can consume this one particular food like grapefruit or cabbage, or you can go on the popular low-carb diet. I know some people have success with that, but I think the vast majority of people don’t really meet their weight loss goals just by changing their foods.

What’s missing is that body component, the strength training, the movement, the flexibility, and also the cardiovascular training. What I’m suggesting is that you seriously consider finding a way to get some form of strength training into your life. It could be as easy as buying a floor mat or a DVD video on Pilates. Those videos are as little as $15 or $20. So your total investment, including the mat, could be only $40 or $50. And then you can engage in strength training.

But the catch is that you actually have to do it — right? That’s the catch. People want a system that requires no effort. Sure, we all want that. I’ve even written a book on this called The 5 Habits of Health Transformation — you’ll find that at – that lists the 5 most effective health strategies that require the least amount of effort. And people have been downloading that book like crazy! It’s been a huge hit, because people want to know what’s going to give them the best results for the least amount of time or money or effort. I think it’s been successful because everybody’s so busy these days; they really want the most effective and high impact strategies. But the point is, none of this is going to happen for you automatically. You can’t just buy a Pilates video and gain muscle mass; you actually have to do it.

Some of these Pilates moves, when you get into the advanced stages of it, are not so easy. You know, lifting weights, even just for 15 seconds with high intensity, isn’t always easy, either. When I do it, sometimes I feel like I’m about to pass out. It’s such high intensity. When I do a leg press with a 15 second high intensity static contraction system — and I’m really not even anywhere near what some of the founders are — I’m pushing at least 1500 lbs. I’m out of breath after that. I’m wiped out. This is hard stuff! It takes effort.

None of it is going to happen automatically, and if you whip through a strength training routine, and you don’t feel like you’ve done any work, then you probably haven’t. You’re not going to get any benefit from that. At some point, it’s going to require some effort to get these results. A lot of the information out there that claims you can lose weight without any effort is just flat out wrong. Certainly, there are some shortcuts. There are some strategies that can make it a lot easier for you, no doubt about that. There are some nutritional supplements that can help — I agree. But the bottom line is, if you don’t engage the physical body, if you don’t do some strength training and some cardiovascular training, you’re not going to get the results you want.

Finding a workable system

Most people who are really committed to losing body fat are okay with the effort part. That hasn’t been the problem. The problem has been finding a strategy that really works. What’s a system that works? People tried the Atkins Diet or the low carb diet, and for many people that didn’t work. People tried the low fat diet years ago — well that didn’t work, because everybody just loaded up on carbohydrates and cookies. People tried all kinds of other things — they tried stimulants, things that make you shake all day long because you have a lot of caffeine in your system. And gee, they found out that didn’t work either, because it just made them hungrier.

So, typically, it’s not the effort that stops people. It’s the reliability of the system. Finding out what really works is the hardest part. Unfortunately, this particular narrative here isn’t about food strategies that work for dieting, although I have many — those that I’ve used and those that I’ve shared with others have really worked well. I’ll be sharing those in another segment or another book.

But I can tell you that no system will work without the physical body movement component. You’ve got to engage in strength training, you’ve got to engage in cardiovascular exercise, even if it’s just walking for 5 minutes a day. If you can’t walk, even just lifting your arms for 10 minutes a day, or lifting a 1 lb dumbbell over your head 50 times will benefit you. I don’t care what it is, if you can move something, then you can engage in cardiovascular exercise. There is no excuse, unless you happen to be paralyzed from the neck down, in which case obviously you can’t engage in strength training. But for everybody else, there’s no excuse. If you can move a limb, you can do this.

Find a way to start strength training today, and your body will immediately start showing results

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Font SizeA A A Mold Allergy Self-Defense

Alternaria. Aspergillus. Cladosporium. Penicillium. Unless you have a special fondness for fungi, you’re probably not too familiar with these or any of the thousands of other common molds.

But if you’re among the estimated 5% of Americans who have mold allergies, you may be all too well acquainted with the itchy eyes, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, and other symptoms mold allergies can cause. Severe mold allergies can even trigger potentially dangerous asthma attacks.

Mold allergies are more common in warm weather, but are essentially a year-round problem in some parts of the country.

Like other common allergies, mold allergies arise when the immune system mounts a vigorous reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance or organism — in this case the microscopic spores that float in the air indoors and out. And as with other allergies, mild symptoms of mold allergies can often be controlled with over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants and prescription steroid nasal sprays. In severe cases, allergy shots are generally effective.

The Best Treatment for Mold Allergies: Prevention

But experts agree that mold allergy sufferers are better off avoiding mold in the first place.

That means steering clear of places where mold is likely to lurk: decomposing vegetation (think compost piles, decaying leaves, wooded areas, etc.) as well as antiques shops, flower shops, farms, summer cottages, greenhouses, saunas, and anyplace else where warm, damp conditions prevail.

Most important, it means taking steps to ensure that your home — where the average American spends 90% of the time — is a mold-free zone.

Does that mean you’ll have to give up the Stilton? Probably not. “Cheeses and other moldy foods can bother some people with mold allergies, but generally this isn’t a problem,” says James L. Sublett, MD, chief of pediatric allergy and immunology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Ky., and vice-chairman of the indoor environments committee of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Here are some other six strategies that can make a big difference in containing mold.

1. Look for Leaks

Periodically check your roof and the household plumbing. Look under sinks, inside showers, around windows and doors, and inside closets. If you have a basement, check the floor and walls for signs of water infiltration. If you find a leak, repair it right away. Sometimes pipes spring a leak within the walls or floors, so you may have to do a bit of searching to find them.

Just because you don’t see mold “doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the clear,” says Nathanael S. Horne, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York Medical College in Valhalla and an allergy specialist in private practice in New York City. “Even if you don’t see any mold, if you are experiencing unexplained symptoms and have eliminated other culprits, it could be mold.”

2. Break Out the Bleach

Most indoor mold can be eliminated simply by getting rid of the mold item or by wiping the affected surface with diluted bleach (one cup of bleach per gallon of water). Be sure to wear goggles and rubber gloves. If that doesn’t work, you may want to call in a professional company that rids houses of mold.

3. Ditch the Humidifier

If you or someone you live with is allergic to mold, your goal should be to lower humidity in your home, not raise it. So forget about using a humidifier or vaporizer.

“Adding moisture is the last thing you want to do,” says Sublett. “There’s no evidence that humidifiers have health benefits, and lots of evidence that they promote the growth of mold.”

Pick up an inexpensive moisture meter (hygrometer), and take readings throughout your home. Pay special attention to bathrooms, the basement, and kitchen.

If the humidity exceeds 50% in any room, find ways to bring it down. One possibility is to boost ventilation by installing (and using) exhaust fans. If this doesn’t do the job, get a dehumidifier.

“Look for one that attaches to a central drain or to your heating and air conditioning system,” says Sublett. “Otherwise, you may find yourself spending all your time emptying buckets of water.”

4. Wear a Mask

Mold spores get stirred up every time you sweep, vacuum, or do yard work. To protect yourself at these times, use a vacuum cleaner with a built-in HEPA air filter, and wear a filtration mask that is rated “N95” by the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH).

If possible, the mask should stay on for a couple of hours after you stop. It can take that long for spores to settle out of the air.

5. Rip Up the Carpet

As long as there is sufficient warmth and water, mold can grow on all sorts of common household items, including wood, paper products, foam rubber, wallboard, and carpet. Indoor plants can harbor mold as well.

If mold is a problem in your home, de-cluttering can help. Also, get rid of wall-to-wall carpeting in dank basements, steamy bathrooms, and in your bedroom, where you spend so much time.

6. Fix Up Your Furnace

Equip your furnace with a high-efficiency filter that has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of at least 11. Replace the filter every three months, and have your furnace serviced every six months. It’s also a good idea to put a HEPA air filter in your bedroom and in any other rooms where you spend significant amounts of time.

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Learn How Banaba Leaf Extract Can Promote Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes and insulin resistance have swept the nation – and with them, a growing list of pharmaceutical drugs that cause as many problems as they solve, if not more. Many diabetes drugs now carry warning labels about their dangerous side effects, which can include an increased risk of heart failure. There’s no question as to why so many people are searching for natural alternatives, like banaba leaf extract, that can help them manage blood sugar.

The herbal extract known as banaba leaf can be a powerful weapon in the fight against high blood sugar. Banaba leaf comes from a tree with thick, waxy leaves and striking purple flowers, typically found in Southeast Asia. Banaba leaf was a popular remedy for blood sugar, kidney and liver health in traditional cultures there, particularly in the Philippines and in India. It was often brewed as a tea, but today can easily be found in supplement form in Western society.

Today, banaba leaf has caught the eye of medical experts who are interested in finding a natural way to bring blood sugar levels back to normal in patients who suffer from chronically high blood sugar. Scientists have put this traditional remedy to the test in numerous clinical studies. Research has shown banaba leaf is effective for lowering blood glucose in people with regularly high blood sugar. It may also aid weight loss if high blood sugar has led to obesity.

Experts say the reason banaba leaf can have a positive effect on blood sugar levels is because it contains a natural concentration of corosolic acid, which mimics the function of insulin by aiding the metabolism of glucose. Corosolic acid can work like insulin to reduce blood sugar levels by transporting glucose into cells and out of the bloodstream. This can be beneficial to anyone who has trouble with high blood sugar, and especially to those with insulin resistance or diabetes.

The easiest way for most people to take banaba leaf extract is in supplement form. It is generally administered in small daily doses of 8-48 mg, with a 1-2 percent concentration of corosolic acid. Studies have shown this dose can produce a positive effect on blood sugar levels. Taking an excessive dose of banaba leaf may actually lower blood sugar to the point of hypoglycemia. While this should most certainly be avoided, it speaks for the power of this amazing herb.

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Vaginal Microbicides May Benefit Men More Than Women

Vaginal microbicides currently in clinical trials may be the only weapon that will protect women against infection from HIV. Yet, under likely circumstances, these microbicides may be of more benefit to men than women, according to a new UCLA AIDS Institute study.

The study, which used novel mathematical models to simulate clinical trials and population-level transmission of HIV, appears July 7 in the online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“At the moment, there is absolutely nothing that women can do to protect themselves from HIV —condoms are not in women’s control,” said senior study author Sally Blower, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. “Drug companies are developing vaginal microbicides to provide direct protection to women and basically empower them so women have some preventive measure that’s under their control.”

Microbicides are compounds that can be applied inside the vagina to protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Pharmaceutical companies are currently conducting trials of second-generation microbicides that are based on antiretroviral, or ARV, drugs, Blower noted.

The UCLA study raises concerns that microbicides could lead to drug resistance if they are used by HIV-positive women and that this risk may be masked under current clinical trial designs — necessitating significant caution if the microbicides are licensed for use by the general public.

The researchers developed the mathematical models to determine if ARV-based microbicides that could cause moderate to high levels of drug resistance might passclinical trials. They used epidemiological, clinical and behavioral data to construct models for both clinical trials and heterosexual transmission of HIV.

The models were based on the Phase 3 clinical trial for second-generation microbicides now under way in South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda and Belgium. This trial is a 12-month, placebo-controlled study involving 10,000 participants.

The researchers developed simulations for two scenarios: one for high-risk microbicides, in which there is a high probability that the vagina will absorb dapivirine, the ARV drug in the microbicide; the other for low-risk microbicides, with a low probability of absorption. The team created the two scenarios because it is not currently known if ARV-based microbicides will be low- or high-risk.

The researchers found that men would likely benefit more than women if the microbicides’ efficacy for women was less than 50 percent and if adherence was less than 60 percent. This would occur if HIV-positive women used microbicides and developed drug-resistant strains of HIV that are then less likely to be transmitted to men.

In the high-risk scenario, for instance, the microbicide could prevent infection in up to 21 percent of women and up to 27 percent of men. In the low-risk scenario, the microbicide would be of less benefit, preventing infection in up to 17 percent of women and 18 percent of men.

“The antiretroviral drugs within these microbicides are the same as those used to treat people who are infected with HIV, so there is great expectation that these microbicides will be very effective,” said first author Dr. David Wilson, of the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Australia’s University ofNew South Wales.

“But the concern is that these microbicides are going to lead to drug resistance,” he said.

The concern about drug resistance arises from the fact that women in the current clinical trial are being tested once a month for HIV infection and those found to be infected are dropped from the trial, according to researchers.

“Since monthly testing will take place in the dapivirine trial, we predict that few, if any, cases of acquired resistance will arise during the trial, even if the drug is readily absorbed (i.e., the microbicide is high risk),” the researchers write. “Therefore our analyses have shown that high-risk microbicides could pass Phase III trials, as their potential to cause resistance will be masked by frequent testing.”

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New HUD Rules Make It Easier to Have Emotional Support Animals

It is commonly understood that people can win the right to have companion animals in no-pet housing if they have a “doctor`s letter” attesting to the need for a support animal. In the past, association boards have gotten away with denying doctors` letters several ways. New HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) rules (1) that were adopted in October of 2008 strike down some of the obstacles to ESAs in “no pet” housing.

According to Gary A. Poliakoff, head of the Becker and Poliakoff law firm that represents many condo associations in Florida, “…The Courts and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have interpreted the [Federal Fair Housing Act] to allow not only trained service animals, but also emotional support animals. [The new] HUD Rules on the subject will vastly expand the definition of those pets allowed to such an extent, that if approved, will pretty much eviscerate no pet restrictions…” (2)

1) ESAs do NOT have to be “task-trained.”

In a recent case in Boca Raton, Florida, a woman returned from the hospital after nearly dying from a rare type of pneumonia. She became very depressed, not wanting to get out of bed or eat. Her family worried about her. Her physician, also concerned, advised her to get a dog, which made a big difference and she snapped out of her depression. But she lived in a no-pets allowed condo and the association board came after her. She retained a lawyer. The lawyer had her agree to go through arbitration through the Florida DBPR (Department of Business and Professional Regulation), the unit that oversees condo associations. The arbitrator decided that the dog was not a service dog because it did not perform a specific task for her and she lost. She appealed through the courts, but the judge used the opinion from the DBPR arbitrator. The problem with these decisions is that neither the arbitrator, nor the judge, was knowledgeable about emotional support animals.

Many sources say ESAs are not “service animals (3), unless they have been task-trained, for instance like seeing eye dogs” but these sources are incorrect. Psychiatric service animals perform specific tasks for the benefit of individuals with psychiatric, cognitive, or mental disabilities. The federal Department of Justice (4) lists some examples of tasks done by psychiatric service animals: reminding their handlers to take medication, providing safety checks or room searches, turning on lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, interrupting self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity disorders, keeping disoriented individuals from danger, detecting the onset of psychiatric episodes, and ameliorating their effects.

It is this last task (ameliorating the effect of psychiatric episodes) that intersects with the abilities of emotional support animals. The term “ameliorate” is defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as a transitive verb: to make better or more tolerable. Without any specialized task-specific training, a companion animal that has a close bond with its human instinctively and by its very nature ameliorates episodes of conditions such as anxiety and depression. A cat`s purr or a dog wagging its tail can be enough to stem a panic attack or keep someone from sinking into a deep depression.

Animal law expert, attorney Marcy LaHart of Palm Beach County, Florida says whether ESAs are “service animals” or not is a semantic distinction of very little relevance. According to LaHart, federal law does not require that a disabled person seeking a waiver of a no pet provision for an emotional support animal provides proof that the animal was certified or specially trained. However, the right to accommodation of emotional support animals is typically confined to the waiver of no pet rules in housing. Traditional service animals such as seeing eye dogs or seizure alert dogs may accompany their guardians in restaurants, on airplanes, and in other places where companion animals are not allowed, ESAs may not.

The wording in the new HUD rules (5) says, “emotional support animals do not need training to ameliorate the effects of a person`s mental and emotional disabilities. Emotional support animals by their very nature, and without training, may relieve depression and anxiety, and/or help reduce stress-induced pain in persons with certain medical conditions affected by stress.”

2) The letter documenting the need for an ESA can come from any qualified medical or mental health professional

In another recent case, a woman in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was told she could not keep her companion cat because, while she had letters from her doctor and a neurologist, she did not have a letter from a psychiatrist.

The new HUD rules (6) clarify who is authorized to documentation of the need for an ESA. HUD specifies that the letter may come from a “physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional.” In Florida, “other mental health professionals” refers to the following health care professionals duly licensed by the Florida Department of Health:

* licensed mental health counselors
* licensed clinical psychologists
* licensed clinical social workers
* licensed marriage and family therapists. (7)

Citizens for Pets in Condos (8) supports the idea of legislation (9) to clarify the right to have emotional support animals in no-pet housing. First of all, a support animal does not need task-specific training to be able to ameliorate a psychiatric, cognitive, or mental disability. Secondly, psychiatrists are not the only professionals qualified to write a letter attesting to the need for an emotional support animal.10 Any medical professional who can write prescriptions for medications for emotional conditions or any mental health professional who is licensed to do mental health counseling therapy is qualified to write the “doctors letter.” The letter must say that the animal is necessary to ameliorate and help with life functions for a condition covered under DSM4 or ICD9 (which are diagnostic codes used by these medical and mental health professionals). The letter does not have to give details of the nature of the disorder, in order not to invade the patient`s privacy per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. (11)

Local laws to clarify the right to have ESAs do several things. They put language scattered in different areas of federal law and rulings, under disability law, fair housing law and rehabilitation law together in one place where even someone without expensive legal counsel can point to a clear statement of law. ESA legislation at the local level helps to keep local law in sync with federal standards. “We`ve come a long way in understanding and promoting a comprehensive approach to mental health. We shouldn`t be going backwards by excluding and denigrating entire fields of science-based professions and methods,” says Barbara Feeney, MPA, public health administration advisor.

The latest updates to HUD rules should go a long way to ensure the right of people to have emotional support animals in “no-pet” housing and also ease the way for a more reasonable attitude about having pets. California law, established in 2001 states that: “No governing documents shall prohibit an owner of a separate interest within a common interest development from keeping at least one pet within the common interest development subject to reasonable rules and regulations of the association.” (12) The law also applies to mobile home parks. Under California law, “governing documents,” by the way, includes “operating rules.” This landmark Californian legislation was preceded by a law to clarify the right to have ESAs in California.

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Make Love Daily, It Improves Fertility

Making love or ejaculating every day can improve men’s sexual health by improving sperm quality and thus increasing the chances of conception, according to an Australian study.

This study on men’s sexual health, presented Tuesday in Amsterdam during the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, suggest that a period of abstinence from a few days does not increase the likelihood that a man can make his wife pregnant either naturally or medically assisted way. The study was conducted by Dr David Greening, obstetrician-gynecologist at a center for infertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Sydney. It was carried on 118 men whose sperm quality was below average.

After asking to ejaculate every day for a week with no other change in their lifestyle, he found that their index of DNA fragmentation (DFI), an indicator of the degradation of the DNA sperm was decrease from 34% in average (semen of poor quality) to 26% on average (semen quality “suitable”). The researcher also found that the mobility of sperm was slightly, but significantly increased by the frequent ejaculation. This increase was observed even if the volume of semen and sperm concentration were reduced.

According to the study author Dr. Greening, the improved sperm quality related to ejaculation frequency is the result of reducing the length of time sperm is staying in the testicular channels. This is a period during which they are exposed to the harmful effects of oxidative molecules.

In a statement, Dr David Greening therefore advises couples trying to conceive a child to “make love every day during the week before ovulation. He indicates that this approach could also help couples involved in a protocol medically assisted procreation “to improve sperm quality and, consequently, the likelihood ofpregnancy.”

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Newborn Procedures: Make an Informed Choice about the Vitamin K Injection

Both newborn babies and breast milk are said to be deficient in vitamin K1, and injection of this vitamin into newborns is standard practice in US hospitals. The diagnosis of vitamin K deficiency for newborns, however, is in comparison with adult levels and that of breast milk by comparison of human milk with cow`s milk. There are numerous biological differences between adults and babies (bodily proportions is one example), and these are not considered pathological. Do the differences in vitamin K levels suggest pathology? There are also, obviously, biological differences between human and cow`s milk. Our standard for normal breast milk should not come from comparisons with another species. Perhaps these low vitamin K levels are optimum vitamin K levels for babies. If so, systematic injection of newborns with almost 9000 times the adult level might be questionable as standard practice.

Nevertheless, this injection is life-saving in some instances. One in 20,000 babies will suffer from Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn (HDN), where internal bleeding can cause brain damage or death. This bleeding can be stopped or prevented entirely by the vitamin K injection, which enhances blood clotting. But as the name implies, the cause of Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn is not clear.

Vitamin K deficiency is often cited as the cause, but the claim seems inadequate, almost like claiming that aspirin deficiency causes headaches. That is not to say that aspirin, or the vitamin K shot, should never be used. Causes of HDN are more likely to be found among the risk factors which include the following:

*exposure of the baby or fetus to drugs or alcohol or anticonvulsants, antibiotics or anticoagulants
*a family history of liver disease
*diseases in the baby such as hepatitis, cystic fibrosis or celiac disease
*a difficult birth such as one including the use of vacuum extractor, forceps or c-section
*low birth weight
*premature clamping/cutting of the umbilical cord

If any of these factors applies to you or your baby, you might want to seriously consider the shot. Oral supplementation is also an option but must to be done according to a specific protocol to be effective – to learn the specifics of this protocol, discuss it with your obstetrician or midwife.

The observation that natural levels of vitamin K are low in babies and that vitamin K does not pass into the placenta suggests that our physiologies are fine tuned to keep this vitamin low initially. What does the injection of a high dose of a synthetic form of this vitamin into babies do? One concern is the increased risk of severe jaundice with the vitamin K shot for which there is anecdotal evidence. More worrisome is a possible association with leukemia, plausible because vitamin K1 is also involved in the regulation of cell division. Early studies found such a risk, but the most recent found no correlation between the shot and the likelihood of developing leukemia, clearing the shot on that charge for the moment.

Eating foods high in vitamin K1, such as leafy green vegetables, deep yellow vegetables, and broccoli, among others, should be helpful, because vitamin K is passed from mom to baby in breast milk. Be sure to breast feed on cue and to allow the baby to nurse as long as preferred on each breast so as to ensure that she receives the higher fat `hind milk` which will be higher in vitamin K. Vernix, the milky white substance covering baby at birth, is also a high in vitamin K, so parents may want to consider allowing this substance to be absorbed by their baby rather than washed off.

Also, wait! Immediate clamping or cutting of the umbilical cord results in a loss of up to 40% of the baby`s blood volume. Valuable platelets and coagulation factors are also lost. Indeed, a 2006 study in the journal Pediatrics showed that in low birth weight babies (less than 3 pounds 5 ounces and born before week 32) a delay of 35-40 seconds allowed an 8 to 24% increase in the baby`s blood volume compared to those with their cords clamped at 5-10 seconds. Two of the 23 male infants (about 9%) in the delayed-clamping group suffered from brain hemorrhaging while 8 of the 19 (42%) in the immediate-clamping group did. How much better off might they have been if the delay had been two or three minutes instead of 40 seconds?

Early cord clamping may partially explain the association between traumatic birth and HDN as well: forceps and vacuum births often cause bruising or internal bleeding, which uses up the baby`s available clotting factors; then baby is immediately cut off from his blood and oxygen source (the placenta) in order to be rushed off for resuscitation. In any of these events, as in normal births, delayed clamping ought to be standard practice.

None of the above is meant to minimize the reality of HDN. No matter what your decision is about the vitamin K shot, be sure to be vigilant about certain symptoms; late onset HDN can occur into the sixth week of life. Here are problems to look out for:

*bleeding longer than 6 minutes from a blood sampling site even after there has been pressure on the wound
*similar bleeding from the umbilicus, nose, mouth, ears, urinary tract or rectum and broken skin sites
*any bruise not related to a known trauma
*pinpoint bruises called petechiae
*black tarry stools after meconium has been expelled
*black vomit
*symptoms of intracranial bleeding including paleness, a glassy eyed look, irritability or high pitched crying, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, or prolonged jaundice

Unfortunately, in about 1/3 of cases, hemorrhage occurs without prior warning.

Ultimately, whether or not to have this shot administered is a decision for parents. Plan your birth and post-partum carefully; Do you want the vitamin K shot or do you want to waive the shot? Do you want the vernix to remain on your baby? Do you want delayed cord clamping? Be sure to call your hospital, even if you`re planning a home birth, and ask their policy on these procedures. It is a good idea to have these plans in writing before your baby`s birth.


Roman, E. et al., (2002). Vitamin K and childhood cancer: analysis of individual patient data from six case-control studies, Br J Cancer (England) 86: 63-9.

Fear, N.T. et al., (2003). Vitamin K and childhood cancer: a report from the United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Study. Br. J. Cancer (England) 89: 1228-1231.

McNinch, A. et. al., (1985). Plasma concentrations after oral or intramuscular vitamin K1 in neonates. Arch Dis Child 60: 814-818.

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Heavy Drinkers Face Increased Cancer Risk

Heavy drinkers of beer and spirits face a much higher risk of developing cancer than the population at large, says a group of Montreal epidemiologists and cancer researchers. Their findings show that people in the highest consumption category increased their risk of developing oesophageal cancer sevenfold, colon cancer by 80% and even lung cancer by 50%.

In all, the researchers found statistically significant relationships between heavy consumption of beer and spririts and six different cancers. Moderate drinking (i.e. less than daily) and wine consumption did not show the same effects, however.

The research was conducted by Dr. Andrea Benedetti of McGill University, Dr. Marie-Elise Parent of INRS-Institut Armand Frappier and Dr. Jack Siemiatycki of the Universite de Montreal.

“We looked at the data in two ways,” said Benedetti, an assistant professor at McGill’s Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. “We compared people who drank heavily to our reference group, who abstained or drank only very occasionally. We also looked for trends across our categories: non-drinkers, weekly drinkers and daily drinkers.

The results were astounding. “We saw increased risk for esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer,” Benedetti added. “The strongest risk was for esophageal and liver cancer.”

“This study crystalizes many strands of evidence from different studies on different types of cancer and alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Jack Siematycki, professor, Canada Research Chair and Guzzo Chair in Environment and Cancer, at the Universite de Montreal.

The researchers used data originally collected for a large occupational cancer study conducted in Montreal in the 1980s. The information was a treasure-trove, said Benedetti.

“Lifetime interviews were conducted with people about their job histories, and detailed information about all the things they could have been exposed to was collected,” she explained. “As it turns out, the data also included information about non-occupational factors such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, diet and socio-economic status, among others.”

Benedetti, the study’s lead author, conducted this research while still a postdoctorial fellow under the supervision of her co-authors, Dr. Siemiatycki and Dr. Parent. Their results were published in the current issue of the journal Cancer Detection and Prevention.

“For the most part we showed that light drinkers were less affected or not affected at all,” said Benedetti. “It is people who drink every day or multiple times a day who are at risk. This adds to the growing body of evidence that heavy drinking is extremely unhealthy in so many ways. Cancer very much included.”

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Skins cells turned into brain cells in stem cell breakthrough

Scientists used just three genes to make the identity switch, which was achieved without an in-between stem cell stage.

The breakthrough could “revolutionise the future of human stem cell therapy” for the regeneration of brains, said the researchers.

In the past, normal cells have been coaxed into changing function by first turning them into “induced” stem cells.

These have similar properties to stem cells taken from embryos, giving them the potential to become any kind of tissue in the body.

The new research went a step further by transforming mouse skin cells straight into functional neurons, while by-passing the stem cell process.

Dr Marius Wernig, who co-led the team from Stanford University School of Medicine in California, said: “We actively and directly induced one cell type to become a completely different cell type.

“These are fully functional neurons. They can do all the principal things that neurons in the brain do.”

In the laboratory dish, the cells were seen to signal and make connections with other nerve cells. Such functions are critical to future treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders.

The change happened within one week with an efficiency of almost 20 per cent.

The scientists, whose research is published in the journal Nature, now hope to duplicate the feat with human cells.

Dr Irving Weissman, director of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, said: “This study is a huge leap forward. The direct reprogramming of these adult skin cells into brain cells that can show complex, appropriate behaviours like generating electrical currents and forming synapses establishes a new method to study normal and disordered brain cell function.

“Finally we may be able to capture and study conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s or heritable mental diseases in the laboratory dish for the first time.”

In 2007, researchers announced the creation of iPS cells from human skin cells by exposing them to proteins called transcription factors that influence DNA.

Once in a stem cell-state, a cocktail of chemicals was used to make the cells develop into a new cell type.

Later, scientists from Harvard University in the US showed that mouse pancreas cells could be reprogrammed by infecting them with viruses carrying genes for just three transcription factors.

Dr Wernig’s team used a similar technique, but dispensed with the iPS “pit stop”.

The scientists began with a selection of 19 genes involved in either genetic reprogramming or neural development and function.

A virus was used to introduce the genes to mouse embryo skin cells, which were then monitored.

After 32 days, some of the former skin cells had acquired the appearance of nerve cells and were producing neural proteins.

The process was used to whittle the original 19 genes down to just three, which were then tested on skin cells from the tails of adult mice.

About 20 per cent of the former skin cells transformed themselves into neural cells in less than a week. In comparison, it can take weeks to change a cell’s identity using the iPS method, with a success rate of just 1% to 2%.

“We were very surprised by both the timing and the efficiency,” said Dr Wernig. “This is much more straightforward than going through iPS cells, and it’s likely to be a very viable alternative.”

The ability to make neurons quickly from an individual patient may one day lead to the manufacture of cells for therapy, the scientists believe.

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Calcium Supplements Facts For Women

While we all know that babies and children need calcium for strong, healthy bones and teeth as they grow, a woman’s need for calcium supplements doesn’t stop there. Unfortunately, most do not get the recommended amount of calcium each day.

Why Do I Need Calcium Supplements?

Calcium is an important nutrient for several reasons:

It is important for the prevention of osteoporosis in later life, though it should be noted that older adults may need to take extra amounts of calcium supplements; some may not absorb it as well as younger people.

Calcium is also believed to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Another bonus? If you suffer from the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, consuming 1200 mg of calcium a day can reduce your symptoms by almost half.

How Can I Make Sure I Get Enough Calcium?

The best way to get the right daily amount of calcium is to eat a diet rich in calcium-containing foods. All dairy products provide calcium, including milk (non-fat dry, low-fat, skim, or whole), yogurt, cheeses, tofu, ice cream and ice milk.

Just 4 to 5 cups of milk or yogurt daily will allow you to meet calcium requirements for most adults.

Did You Know?

Other calcium-rich foods include seafood such as salmon, sardines (an excellent source with 370 mg of calcium in 3 ounces), and shrimp, as well as a number of plant sources, such as broccoli and green leafy vegetables.

When diet isn’t enough, calcium supplements may be recommended to help you bridge the gap. These can be a great way to ensure you’re meeting your body’s needs. Some individuals, such as those with stomach or intestinal problems and those chronically taking steroid medications for the treatment of a medical condition, may specifically be recommended to take supplements, as these issues can result in a loss of calcium.

See: Recommended Amount Of Calcium Supplements

Sounds simple enough: Buy a calcium supplement product, pop a tablet, and you’re good to go. There are, however, a few things you should be aware of if you are going the supplement route.

Things to Consider Before Using Calcium Supplements

Sometimes other health conditions can affect the use of calcium supplements, as they may worsen the condition or its side effects. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following issues before use:

  • Diarrhea
  • Heart disease
  • A thyroid disorder
  • Hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood) or hypercalciuria (too much calcium in the urine)
  • Hyperparthyroidism or sarcoidosis
  • Hypoparthyroidism
  • Kidney disease or stones

In addition, calcium supplements can interact negatively with some drugs.

See: Calcium Drug Interactions

Considerations for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

Pregnancy is a time when proper calcium intake is of particular importance. The growing fetus depends on its mother to provide a daily supply of adequate nutrients, including calcium for healthy growth and development. This does not mean that you should overload on vitamins and minerals, however, since too much may be harmful to the mother and/or the developing fetus. Talk to your doctor about meeting your calcium needs and doing it safely.

If you decide to breastfeed your baby, you need to continue getting the correct amount of calcium so that your baby will grow properly. Remember not to overdo it, though; get the proper amount of calcium and other minerals and vitamins so that you don’t risk causing harm to you and/or your baby.

Ready for Calcium Supplements?

If you’re clear to take calcium supplements but aren’t sure of the proper amount and/or type of calcium supplement you should be taking, talk to your doctor.

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Exercise Lowers Breast Cancer Risk

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women and accounts for around 40,000 deaths per year. Breast cancer risk is determined by multiple factors including age, race, gender, and family history. Besides these factors that are uncontrollable, there are also risk factors that can be controlled or changed. These include alcohol use, smoking, diet, weight and exercise. Exercise has been the focus of many recent studies to determine how much it affects risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is known to feed off estrogen; it has been discovered that women with decreased estrogen levels have a lowered risk for breast cancer. Women who have ever been pregnant or breastfed have a lower risk of breast cancer because of the lowered estrogen levels during these times. Suspended menstrual cyclesresult in a decrease in estrogen levels, therefore each pregnancy and breastfeeding results in a lifetime decrease of breast cancer.

Exercise has been shown to reduce blood estrogen levels. Studies done have shown that after twelve months of regular exercise blood estrogen levels drop an average of about 13% in women who lose at least two pounds. The drop in estrogen is directly related to the decrease in fat because fat cells, in particular adipose cells, produce estrogen.

The National Cancer Institute found out that vigorous exercise (aerobics, jogging, heavy yard work or house work and biking) reduces the risk of breast cancerabout 30%. Light or moderate exercise was not found to have the same effect.

A study being conducted now at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School is specifically looking at how exercise reduces the risk for women with genetic mutations to the BRCA gene that puts them at a higher risk for breast cancer. Eighty percent of women who carry these mutations will develop either breast or ovarian cancer. Options for reducing the risk for these women is quite drastic – either mastectomy or removal of the ovaries. The study aims to find out if exercise could at least decrease risk enough that these women could either delay such drastic surgeries and their side-effects or put them off all together.

Because of the prevalence of breast cancer and the limited prophylactic options for women with high risk, the link between exercise and breast cancer risk is promising. In addition to the effects on estrogen exercise also provides numerous other health benefits and stress reduction which can also be helpful in reducing risk for any chronic disease.

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Interview: Greg Kunin from Ola Loa reveals the health secrets of drinkable vitamins

In this NaturalNews exclusive interview, Mike Adams (the Health Ranger) interview Greg Kunin of Ola Loa ( about nutrition, quality supplements, disease prevention and much more. Adams received no money to conduct this interview and earns nothing from the sale of Ola Loa products.

Mike: I’m joined here today by Greg Kunin, of Ola Loa. Better known as Drink Your Vitamins Company. I understand you have a new product on the market Greg; can you tell us about that?

Greg: Well, we’re very excited, it’s a product called Ola Loa SPORT. It’s designed for people who have an active life. Whether you are a soccer mom, to an extreme athlete. Our new product provides significant nutrient support in an absolutely delicious drink that can be taken with or without food, even on an empty stomach.

Mike: Okay, so people may already be familiar with your existing formulation, which is the Ola Loa ENERGY product.

Greg: Well that’s our foundation multivitamin product. It replaces over a dozen vitamin pills, and it’s providing therapeutic doses of vitamin C and trimethylglycine and glycine, all in gram doses.

Mike: Let’s talk about the qualitative difference in your product than some of the others that are out there on the market.

Greg: Well in large measure, up until Ola Loa came along, the only products that were available in powder form were nothing more than vitamin C with usually five or six grams of sugar. In fact I’ve seen a couple of other products that were as much as 90% sugar and very little nutrient support. Ola Loa was the first company to actually go outside the box and say, how do we get qualitative nutrient support in a single packet? So, we’re providing your vitamins, your minerals, amino acids, digestives, in a powder form. Unlike anything else on the market today.

Mike: And also, even though your product uses the term energy, this is not based on the typical context of that word where other companies may put in caffeine or other kinds of stimulants. This is more of a cellular energy, correct?

Greg: Absolutely, we provide both the cellular energy with the use of coenzyme Q10 which is the key to energy production at the mitochondria. It is what really fires the cell. Of course then we’re providing muscle energy through the use of trimethylglycine and glycine and arginine. These key amino acids that produce SAM-e, which is muscle energy. We’re not providing a stimulant. No caffeine, no herbal stimulate of any sort.

Mike: And yet the energy on this product is amazing! As a personal note, I put a package of Ola Loa energy into my morning smoothie everyday, and I drink blended cucumbers and celery, with some fruits as well, and I’ll tell you just last night in my Capoeira class, I think I wore out two other people with some of the moves and I was ready for more. The endurance on this is just unbelievable.

Greg: Well, your body’s working better. What of course is really exciting about all our products is that we take into consideration an area of biochemistry that’s known as methyltransferase. This is really – I think one the most important aspects of what Ola Loa is all about. My father as you know has been in the medical profession for over fifty years and has been one of the leaders in an area known as orthomolecular medicine. Some people would refer to it as a nutritional orientated approach to treating disease. This has really become the most significant pathway that my father has identified in all of the years that he’s been in medical practice.

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Anti-drug vaccination plan could immunize people from effects of cocaine, heroin and nicotine

How would you like your children to be immune to the pharmacological effects of hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, and even nicotine? Using new medical vaccination technologies, children can now be immunized against the effects of these drugs so that they don’t feel the high, or the brain chemistry alterations, from such drugs if they were to consume them. Doing this, of course, would make it extremely unlikely that these children would later grow up and become addicted to those drugs. Because without the brain chemistry alterations, consuming such drugs is basically pointless.

It’s an exciting new medical technology that has been tested in terms of immunizing people against the effects of nicotine, but now discussions are underway that would expand the program to other drugs such as cocaine and heroin and roll out national immunization programs for all children. This is being discussed in the UK right now, but chances are that it will soon merit discussion in the United States as well.

For my own comments on this technology, it’s helpful to look at both the outrageous cost to society for drug addiction and drug use, and the potential dangers of national vaccination programs. In general, I’m against vaccination when it’s required or forced upon the general public, because I believe that many vaccines are tainted with mercury and other toxins and that they can cause lifelong problems in many children. It is well known that vaccinations against polio and others diseases actually kill some children, and the public health benefit of forced vaccinations among U.S. schoolchildren is highly debatable.

But when it comes to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, vaccinations start to look a lot more beneficial to society as a whole. For starters, if we could practically eliminate smoking in the United States within one generation, the nation would save countless dollars in terms of health care costs and improve productivity and quality of life of its citizens. This vaccination program has the potential to eradicate smoking altogether — a move that would no doubt diminish the incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, lung cancer, nervous system disorders, and breast cancer. If we could immunize people against cocaine and heroin before they’re at an age where they might start experimenting with such hard drugs, we could do tremendous good for the country as a whole by preventing drug addiction and all the lifelong problems associated with such addictions, including financial poverty, family hardships, and devastating health consequences.

In theory, then, I’m strongly in favor of exploring a vaccination technology that can immunize children against the effects of these hard drugs and nicotine, because I think it would save untold numbers of lives and an extraordinary amount of money in health care costs alone. But to firmly stand behind such technology, I would need to be convinced that it is inherently safe and has no other negative side effects, and when it comes to vaccinations, that’s a pretty tall order. Because many vaccinations do indeed have rather alarming side effects, and we should not force a population to undergo a medical technology unless it has been proven safe and effective — and even then, I much prefer it being a choice of the parents, rather than being mandated by the federal government.

Ideally, such a vaccination program, if proven completely safe, would be offered free of charge, paid for by taxpayer dollars, and publicized through public schools. Of course, I wouldn’t want my own children to be the first batch of experimental human guinea pigs to receive such a vaccination, and I firmly believe that the best way to avoid hard drug addictions with our children is to give them a better education and strong family environments, where they don’t need to turn to hard drugs in order to feel fulfilled in the first place.

Now, as long as we’re talking about vaccinations, there’s an interesting idea of a far more useful vaccination that could aid in weight-loss efforts by the American public. What if we could be vaccinated against the sweet taste of sugar? If so, we could end our addictions to high-carbohydrate foods, and more easily choose healthful foods that don’t contain so many refined carbohydrates. If human beings were born without the taste sensation for sweetness, and without the associated brain chemistry effects that automatically follow the consumption of carbohydrates, we wouldn’t be so addicted to carbohydrates as a nation. Soft drink sales would be virtually non-existent. The grocery store shelves wouldn’t be lined with candy masquerading as food — like you’ll find in granola bars or pizza sauce, both of which are made with refined sugar.

The idea that we could all be vaccinated against the taste and brain chemistry effects of sugar consumption is, of course, pure fantasy at the moment, but it is not fantasy to suppose that with advanced genetic engineering technology we could someday produce offspring who are not so closely wired to the consumption of sugar. In fact, there’s something you can do about that right now: research shows that when expectant mothers avoid eating refined sugars, their babies are born with less of a craving for sugars. And that, in my book, is one of the greatest gifts a mother can give her unborn child: a foundation for living a healthy life, free of refined sugars, soft drinks, cake, cookies, and other foods and beverages that promote obesity and chronic disease.

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Less junk food in schools today

Licorice twist, chocolate bars, salt chips and sugary sodas are declining in schools so says a government report just issued. The report is suggesting that there is less junk foods in school especially with schools that are focused on good nutrition in schools.

To estimate changes in the percentage of schools in which students could not purchase less nutritious foods and beverages, CDC analyzed 2002–2008 survey data from its School Health Profiles for public secondary schools.

When the survey started about 46% of the students couldn’t buy junk food items at school. That percentage had grown to 64% in 2008. The percentage of secondary school students who couldn’t buy soft drinks at school rose in all 34 states that tracked that from 2006 to 2008.

The percent of schools banning candy and salty snacks ranged from 18.2% to 88.2%. They also noted that the results varied regionally. In Hawaii, Connecticut, California, and Maine, more than two-thirds of schools didn’t sell baked goods, high-fat salty snacks, candy, soda, or fruit drinks that weren’t 100% juice.

Efforts to improve the school nutrition environment are working,” Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH, director of the CDC’s division of adolescent and school health, said in a statement. But in Utah, Kansas, Idaho, and Nebraska, two-thirds of schools did sell these items. “There are still far too many schools selling less nutritious foods and beverages,” Wechsler said.

The improvements were most dramatic in some Southern states. In Mississippi, the proportion selling soda dropped from 78 percent to 25 percent. In Tennessee, it dropped from 73 percent to 26 percent. Those two states also saw dramatic reductions in sales of candy and salty snacks. The report marked a continued effort by health officials to combat childhood obesity.

“Efforts to improve the school nutrition environment are working and Mississippi and Tennessee are excellent examples of this progress,” Howell Wechsler, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said in a statement.

American Heart Association officials celebrated the progress, attributing it to aggressive legislation and school policy changes in some states that they hope will get children and teens accustomed to healthier eating. “What kids do in school in large measure dictates what they do away from school,” said Dr. Clyde Yancy, the association’s president.

School and public health officials should increase efforts to eliminate availability of less nutritious foods and beverages at school, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine. This report has clearly concluded that there is less junk food in schools today.

Materials from AP and ABC News are used in this report.

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth

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Lose Weight Without Feeling Constantly Hungry

There are so many different fad diets and different opinions on how to lose weight. Most people experience constant hunger when they go on a diet. Here are some of the best ways to lose weight without going hungry.

1. Stop Focusing solely on Calories

While there is much wisdom in the calorie principle, you can get caught up in calorie counting. Many people who count calories stop eating when their calories are up, resulting in hunger. Feeling hungry is never healthy, and causes people to overeat in the long run. This approach also clumps all calories into one box. Some calories are better for you than others. For example, some fats that are high in calories are actually good for weight loss. The healthier path towards weight loss is to focus on what you are eating.

2. Eat High Protein Foods

Research shows that protein satisfies the appetite more than carbohydrates or fat. Foods rich in protein include fish, eggs, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds.

3. Stick to eating Low Glycaemic Index (GI) Foods

The GI level shows how much sugar is released into the blood stream from a certain food. It also measures how quickly the release is. High GI foods are less satiating than food that releases less sugar more slowly. Low GI foods are protein dense foods, vegetables, and many fruits.

4. Eat plenty of Raw Foods

Incorporating as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible into your diet is definitely one of the best ways to lose weight and feel great. Raw foods are still in their natural state, provided they are organic and haven’t traveled across the planet to get to you. This means that you are getting the natural ingredients and benefits that can be altered or destroyed when the food is cooked.

5. Graze

People who eat little and often throughout the day, including breakfast, are more likely to lose weight without hunger than people who eat all of their food in two meals. Having healthy snacks, such as fruit or nuts, in between meals is a good way to keep from becoming hungry and overeating. Grazing in the morning and throughout the day keeps the blood sugar levels balanced, which creates energy and balanced health.

6. Keep Healthy Food in the House

Even the healthiest people can find it tempting to eat rubbish when it is in the house. Only buy food that is going to encourage weight loss. Keep plenty of healthy food in the house and make sure to do your food shopping on a full stomach so that you aren’t tempted by junk.

7. Curb alcohol intake without sacrifice

Many people find that they lose weight when they give up or cut down on alcohol. Make sure that you drink plenty of water to keep from overindulging in alcohol because of thirst.

8. Chew your food

Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly ensures that the body knows that food is inside and does not overeat.

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Therapeutic Target For Pulmonary Fibrosis Discovered

Diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is not much better than a death sentence: there is no treatment and the survival rate is less than three years.

But researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that targeting of a novel gene utilizing genetic and pharmacologic strategies was successful in treating pulmonary fibrosis in mice and will be developed for future testing in humans.

The treatments attack an oxidant-generating enzyme, NOX4, that researchers discovered is involved in the fibrotic process — which involves scar-like tissue formation in an organ such as the lung. The researchers’ findings will be published in the September issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

“We’ve identified the target. We know the enemy now,” said Subramaniam Pennathur, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine/nephrology. “This is the first study that shows pulmonary fibrosis is driven by this NOX4 enzyme.

“But what’s really significant is this discovery may have relevance to fibrosis in other organ systems, not just the lung.”

So those suffering from common cardiac or kidney diseases, which often involve fibrosis, also may benefit from treatments stemming from this research, Pennathur said.

Pennathur said continued support from the National Institutes of Health will eventually allow researchers to take the treatment to human studies. The University of Michigan also has filed for patent protection and is currently looking for a licensing partner to help bring the technology to market.

The discovery was made in the University of Michigan lab of Victor J. Thannickal, M.D. He was assisted by Louise Hecker, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research fellow.

Thannickal said the study points to a very viable treatment strategy for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and researchers saw success both in mouse models of lung fibrosis and in fibrogenic cells isolated from lungs of patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.

“It remains to be seen if fibrosis is reversible,” he said. “But therapeutic targeting of this pathway this may allow us to halt the progression of fibrosis and preserve lung function.”

The lung disease often affects older people, Thannickal said, and its cause is generally unknown. It is possible that cumulative injuries like exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants in genetically susceptible individuals could contribute to causing fibrosis.

There is a gradual scarring of the lung, thickening and contracting the organ until it loses its ability to exchange oxygen with blood, Hecker said. Patients experience extreme fatigue, rapid weight loss, chronic cough and shortness of breath.

There are five million people worldwide that are affected by this disease, according to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. In the United States there are over 100,000 patients with Pulmonary Fibrosis.

When U-M researchers induced the fibrotic process in the mice, they discovered that the NOX4 enzyme was elevated. By knocking down that enzyme at the genetic level or inhibiting its activity, the fibrosis was stopped, Hecker said.

“So we may be able to halt lung scarring even after the injury has occurred and fibrosis is set in motion,” she said. “This research provides proof of concept that we can target this pathway for therapeutic benefit, which could potentially be used in humans.”

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As the FDA Banned Ephedra, Over-The-Counter Sudafed Fueled Widespread Harm By Providing Raw Materials for Illegal Methamphetamine Labs As the FDA Banned Ephedra, Over-The-Counter Sudafed Fueled Widespread Harm By Providing Raw Materials for Illegal Methamphetamine Labs

The proliferation of methamphetamine labs, also known as “meth labs,” is a growing problem in the United States. Not only do these meth labs produce illegal drugs that harm those who choose to take them, these labs also occasionally explode, killing their inhabitants. But one of the most common ingredients used to make methamphetamines is a chemical compound known as pseudoephedrine. This pseudoephedrine is known by the popular brand name Sudafed, which is, of course, an over-the-counter medicine. What’s interesting about all of this is that pseudoephedrine is a chemical compound also found in the medicinal herb known as ephedra. In fact, the name Sudafed is derived from the name of the herb ephedra.

The FDA has banned ephedra as a dangerous herb, citing a few deaths from people who abused the herb as a weight-loss aid. And yet, at the same time, the FDA never banned the sale of Sudafed, even though it contains the chemical compound found in ephedra. The herb, of course, is far safer than any over-the-counter medication because its chemicals are not so highly concentrated as they are in the medication. That’s why people who make meth drugs were purchasing large quantities of Sudafed rather than growing and harvesting their own ma huang plants. So, while the FDA was out screaming about the dangers of ephedra, they said nothing about the dangers of Sudafed, and in fact continued to allow it to be sold, over the counter, to anyone willing to pay for it.

I have a couple of questions about this — first, a question directed to the FDA. If the active ingredients in ephedra are so dangerous to the American public, then why are you still allowing them to be sold in Sudafed? Actually, I think I already know the answer to that. That’s because Sudafed generates profits for pharmaceutical companies, but ma huang is a healing herb, and anytime the FDA can discredit herbal medicine it will do so, even when the exact same chemical compounds are being sold in over-the-counter medications. The second question is, if Sudafed is being purchased by illegal drug dealers in order to manufacture meth drugs that are presumably harming and killing tens of thousands of Americans each year, then why isn’t Sudafed being banned from over-the-counter sales?

Obviously, Sudafed is far more dangerous than the ma huang herb. People are outright buying it and using it to manufacture illegal methamphetamine drugs. And yet Sudafed remains 100% legal to purchase anywhere in the country without a prescription.

The big picture here, folks, is that in banning the herb ma huang, the FDA was really just out to get herbal medicine. They wanted to discredit the herb, and they grossly distorted the truth in order to do that. They managed to find a few people who had been harmed by taking massive doses of the herb, and from that, they were able to ban the sale of the herb and the importation of the herb, affecting all consumers in America.

By doing that, the FDA took away one more piece of your freedom by restricting you from being able to choose an herb that has been safely used around the world for thousands of years to treat a variety of medical conditions. At the same time, the FDA neglected to mention that Sudafed contains some of the same active ingredients and that it is available without a prescription as an over-the-counter medication (and on the internet as well). They failed to mention that Sudafed is being purchased by criminals who are using it to manufacture methamphetamines, and in this way Sudafed is fueling a massive underground drug economy that is causing untold harm to the population of this country.

In this way, the FDA performed an incredible feat of misdirection. They got the whole country to look at ma huang while ignoring the fact that Sudafed is the dangerous drug here. It is Sudafed that is causing the deaths of people by serving as a primary ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamines. It is Sudafed that should have been banned by the FDA, or at least national warnings should have gone out about Sudafed. But you didn’t hear any of that in the national press. What you heard was how dangerous ma huang was. You heard how people were being killed by this potentially dangerous and unregulated medicinal herb. Well, Sudafed is regulated. Sudafed is sold with the full approval of the FDA, and yet, it is fueling the manufacture of highly toxic methamphetamine drugs.

So, there you have it folks — one more chapter in the history of the oppression of your health freedom by the FDA, which seems to have as its primary mission wiping out all alternative medicine, nutritional supplements, herbal medicine, and anything it can’t control or regulate. Meanwhile, the FDA continues to promote and approve extremely toxic, dangerous and even deadly substances, and even allows them to be sold over the counter, without any prescription required, to anyone who can walk up to the counter with a $5 bill. Welcome to organized medicine — this is the system under which we all live today.

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Humanity cannot live without nature, but nature can live without humanity

Just after Christmas Day, 2004, the Earth experienced one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history (a 9.0) under the waters of the Indian Ocean. We also witnessed a barrage of unusual hurricanes during the summer of 2004 off the coast of Florida and across the South Atlantic. And as I write this, a record blizzard is burying Boston under 40 – 50 inches of snow. Freak weather and natural disasters suddenly seems to be the norm.

Simultaneously, we’re dealing with superbugs in our nation’s hospitals that are resistant to all known antibiotics. On the other side of the globe in Vietnam, we’re witnessing a frightening progression in the spread of the H1N1 bird flu virus. It has now spread to 232 communes in 23 cities.

Do the math on this one:

Jan 7: 25 communities infected
Jan 17: 112 communities infected
Jan 19: 160 communities infected
Jan 20: 179 communities infected
Jan 21: 232 communities infected

These are actual statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam.

And that’s not the end of the weirdness. Twenty percent of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed. The fish in the open ocean are poisoned with mercury to such levels that some fish contain twenty times the acceptable limit of mercury, according to EPA standards.

While all this is going on, we still have infectious diseases coming out of Zaire, Africa, mutating in South East Asia and threatening humanity. Ebola, for example.

What’s going on here? What’s happening to our planet? The answer is that humanity has not yet learned how to live in harmony with nature. And much that we’re seeing today in terms of natural disasters, outbreaks, superbugs, and the destruction of ecosystems is a direct result of mankind’s inability or unwillingness to respectnature.

Some people characterize this as “Nature’s Revenge.” They say nature is getting back at man and is planning to wipe out humanity to return to its own natural balance. Personally I don’t attribute such vengeance to nature; nature isn’t vengeful. It is, however, quite blunt… it can also be interpreted as cruel. A tiger chasing down a gazelle on the plains of Africa is savage and cruel, and yet it is part of the natural balance, the ecosystem that ultimately supports the populations of both gazelles and tigers.

It’s not that nature intends to punish humanity, it’s just that humanity’s actions create natural effects. This is a simple cause and effect chain: if we continue to destroy the environment and terrorize the ecosystems of this planet, there are going to be consequences. Those consequences will, one way or another, ultimately bring the planet back into balance. It is humanity’s decision whether that balance will include the human race.

Nature is resilient, but even it cannot be continually poisoned in the way it is being poisoned today by the actions of human beings. Should we, as the human race, fail to heed the warnings we’re seeing right now, I fear that the destructive effects will escalate.

Among all the potential side effects such as bizarre weather patterns, the wiping out of non-diverse genetically engineered crops, and the destruction of ecosystemson both land and water, I think the worst effect is probably going to be the emergence of deadly contagious diseases. They exist already, of course: we have SARS, AIDS, Ebola, Marburg, tuberculosis, encephalitis, meningitis, malaria, smallpox and influenza in all its various strains. When the Earth is in a healthy ecosystem balance, these diseases tend to be kept under control. But now, as we are wounding the planet, we are directly encouraging a situation in which these agents could be unleashed upon the human population by nature itself. Forget about bioterrorists — nature is the biggest threat to human life as we know it on this planet, simply because modern human life is largely a threat to nature. Unless we learn from our lessons and find a way to honor and respect the very planet that has given us life, this planet will take it away from us.

In response to all this, you might say, “How can mankind affect weather patterns and encourage natural disasters?” It’s easy: global dimming. Since the industrial revolution, we’ve thrown more particulate matter into the atmosphere than the largest volcanoes in history. The effect? Global dimming. Less light is reaching the surface of the planet today than at any time since the last great volcanic blowout. That, in turn, affects ocean water temperature, which alters water currents, which alters water evaporation, which alters weather patterns, which leads to unnatural variation in those weather patterns (i.e. natural disasters).

And that’s just the global dimming effect. It doesn’t even count how we’re poisoning rivers and streams, obliterating the rainforest, destroying ocean ecosystems, and now we’re even poisoning our own water supplies with traces of prescription drugs. How stupid is that? We even poison ourselves. So much for “advanced civilization.”

We’ve done it to ourselves. And the more I learn about this subject and the long-term viability of societies, I’m increasingly convinced that we are headed down a path of certain self-destruction. Our behavior is simply not sustainable. Either we learn how to respect nature, or we’ll be wiped out and nature will make the adjustments for us. Because without the impact of humanity, the planet would heal itself in a mere 5,000 years, probably. And that’s the blink of an eye in the lifetime of our planet. Earth can shrug off humanity without breaking a sweat.

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Camden County: Mosquito Season Not Over

While September 22 marks the end of summer – “Mosquito season” lasts into November. Freeholder Jeffery L. Nash and the Camden County MosquitoCommission encourage residents to continue to safeguard against the pests until the first frost and beyond.

Recently, the unfortunate number of foreclosures has contributed to the abandoned properties and pools uncared for in Camden County neighborhoods. These are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It is important for residents to help themselves and the entire neighborhood by dumping out stagnant water wherever it collects for one week or more. The effort does not require the use of insecticides. Simply dumping the water on the ground will kill the mosquito larvae.

“Our county mosquito commission checks a few thousand mosquito breeding sites across the county on a regular basis. This keeps the mosquito population low and breaks up the cycles where diseases are spread from various animals to humans by a mosquito bite,” said Freeholder Nash, liaison to the Camden County MosquitoCommission.

The Mosquito Commission is also working to educate residents on a new species of mosquito under surveillance in our region, the Asian Tiger Mosquito. It differs from other common mosquitoes in that it bites during the day rather than dusk. The Asian Tiger Mosquito is highly ornamented with a black background that is highlighted with bright white markings. The small containers of water favored by the Asian Tiger Mosquito include tin cans, plastic buckets, cemetery urns, dishes under flowerpots, trashcans, recycling buckets, pool covers, folds in tarps and discarded tires.

Mosquitoes are known to carry disease that has been previously found throughout the East Coast and in every county in New Jersey. Those over 50 or those with a compromised immune system are at a higher risk of more severe disease.

“While the chance of becoming ill from a mosquito is small, there are things residents should do to protect themselves and their property well into the fall,” said Freeholder Nash.

* Residents should check their property for any object that holds water for more than a few days. All pre-adult mosquito stages (eggs, larvae, and pupae) must be in stagnant water in order to develop into adult mosquitoes.

* Swimming pools are a common problem after Labor Day. All pools must be checked and maintained to keep them mosquito-free through October. Swimming pools can breed mosquitoes within days after you stop adding chlorine or other disinfectant. Pool covers can catch rainwater and become a mosquito development site. Drain or winterize as normal and then check each week for insects wiggling just below the water surface. Add a little chlorine to kill mosquitoes.

* Maintain screens to exclude adult mosquitoes from your home or business.

* Personal protection is strongly urged if you are outside when mosquitoes may be active—generally dawn and dusk. Insect repellants containing between 10-35% DEET are very effective, however, be sure to follow the label directions and take extra precautions with children and infants.

Freeholder Nash suggests checking around your yard for mosquito breeding containers. The following is a checklist of tips to help eliminate mosquito breeding:

* Dispose of unnecessary containers that hold water. Containers you wish to save turn upside down or put holes in the bottom so all water drains out.

* Lift up flowerpots and dump the water from the dish underneath every week.

* Stock fish or add mosquito larvicide to ornamental ponds.

* Change water in bird baths, fountains, and animal troughs weekly.

* Screen vents to septic and other water tanks.

* Store small boats upside down and large boats so they drain. If covered, keep the tarp tight so water does not pool on top of the tarp.

* Do not dump leaves or grass clippings into a catch basin or streams.

* Check for standing water in underground downspouts.

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Hispanic American Groups Differ In Substance Abuse Levels

Nearly 8.3 percent of all Americans of Hispanic origin ages 12 or over were classified as needing treatment in the past year for alcohol disorders according to a new national study. The study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also reveals that only 7.7 percent of these over 2.6 million Hispanic Americans with drinking disorders received the help they needed at a specialty treatment facility.

The study also showed 3.4 percent of the Hispanic American population (1.1 million people) age 12 or older were in need of treatment for illicit drug use, and that only 15.1 percent of them had received treatment at a specialty facility.

Among different Hispanic American groups there were notable differences in the rates of treatment need and receipt. For example, the prevalence of alcohol treatment need for Hispanic Americans of Mexican origin was higher (9.2 percent) than for those of Puerto Rican (7.7 percent), Central or South American (6.8 percent), or Cuban origin (5.2 percent). However, the need for treatment for illicit drug use was higher for Hispanic Americans of Puerto Rican background (6.1 percent) than Hispanics with Cuban (3.6 percent), Mexican (3.3 percent), or Central or South American origins (2.2 percent).

Hispanic Americans of Puerto Rican background in need of treatment had considerably higher levels for receiving specialized treatment than other Hispanic groups — for alcohol disorders (16.6 percent) and illicit drug use (27.9 percent). By contrast, among those of Central or South American descent, only 3.2 percent of those needing alcohol treatment received it at a specialized facility and only 6.6 percent needing illicit drug treatment received it at a specialty facility.

“This study highlights the fact that the Hispanic American community is diverse and has special treatment needs,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator, Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H. “Through this awareness we can better tailor our efforts to reach segments of this community with appropriate treatment strategies.”

The study also indicates than Hispanic Americans born in the United States were more likely than their counterparts born elsewhere to need treatment for alcohol (10.1 percent versus 6.7 percent). Similarly 5.5 percent of native-born Hispanic Americans needed treatment for illicit drug problems as opposed to 1.5 percent of the Hispanic Americans who were not born in the United States.

The same pattern was shown in terms of differences in levels of receipt of treatment for illicit drug problems. Among persons needing illicit drug abuse treatment, Hispanic Americans born in the United States were more than twice as likely as those born elsewhere to have received treatment at a specialty facility (17.4 percent versus 7.6 percent). However, the difference between the rate of treatment for alcohol use among Hispanic Americans born in the United States and elsewhere was not statistically significant (8.9 versus 6.1 percent).

Substance Use Treatment Need and Receipt among Hispanics is based on data drawn from the 2002 to 2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, involving responses from 57,333 Hispanic Americans aged 12 and older.

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Women Who Drink Moderately Have Lower Cardiovascular Risk

Women who drink moderately may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death from CVD in part because of how alcohol affects the body’s processing of fats and sugar in the blood, researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In an analysis of data from the Women’s Health Study, researchers compared non-drinkers to moderate drinkers and found that an intake of one-half to one drink a day was associated with:

• 26 percent lower risk of CVD;
• 35 percent decrease in total mortality; and
• 51 percent decrease in CVD mortality.

CVD is a term that encompasses all diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including stroke and was defined in this study as a presence of heart attack, coronary bypass or angioplasty, stroke, or death from any of these conditions.

Moderate drinking was defined as 5 to 14.9 grams of alcohol a day — one-half to one drink. However, the risk of CVD among women consuming 15 to 30 grams of alcohol a day (more than one but no more than two drinks a day) was not significantly different from the risk of CVD among non-drinkers.

“Our data show that beyond one drink a day there isn’t any benefit,” said Luc Djousse, M.D., D.Sc., lead author of the study, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Boston, Mass.

The effects of alcohol on blood fat was the most significant contributor to lowering the risk of CVD. It explained almost 29 percent of the lowered risk. Alcohol’s effects on glucose metabolism accounted for about 25 percent of the lowered risk.

The effects of moderate drinking on inflammatory/hemostatic factors and blood pressure had a neglible contribution to the reduction in CVD risk, accounting for 5 percent and 4.6 percent respectively. These mediating factors explained 86.3 percent of the lower risk of CVD, but only about 19 percent of total mortality and 22 percent of CVD mortality.

“The findings add to a large body of evidence showing that moderate drinking favorably affects lipids and glucose metabolism, and thus contributes to a lower risk ofcardiovascular disease in women,” Djousse said.

“The American Heart Association suggests a limit of one drink per day for women who already drink alcohol,” said Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., spokesperson for the association’s Go Red For Women campaign and director of Nuclear Cardiology at New York University. “However, those who do not currently drink alcohol don’t need to start drinking to prevent cardiovascular disease. As the study’s authors point out, alcohol can raise the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure and alcohol abuse. There are many ways women can lower their risk of cardiovascular disease.”

In the study, researchers analyzed alcohol consumption in the past 12 months of 26,399 women, average age 55 years. The researchers assumed that 12 ounces of beer contains 13.2 grams of alcohol, 12 ounces of light beer contains 11.3 grams, four ounces of wine contains 10.8 grams and 1.5 ounces of liquor contains 15.1 grams of alcohol. Total alcohol intake was computed as the sum of alcohol content in beer, wine and spirits. Infrequent drinkers, moderate drinkers who drank one-half to one drink a day (5 – 14.9 grams per day), and heavy drinkers were compared to non-drinkers.

Alcohol intake was strongly related to higher levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the good cholesterol, as seen in previous studies, Djousse said. “It may be that moderate drinking improves fat and muscle cells’ ability to absorb glucose and may improve the levels of adiponectin, a hormone known to lower the risk of diabetes.”

The effects of moderate drinking on inflammatory and hemostatic factors as well as blood pressure were minimal in explaining the lower risk of CVD in moderate drinkers, he said. “Drinking alcohol can be a double-edged sword, as alcohol can raise blood pressure.”

During follow-up of more than 12 years, 1,039 CVD events, 785 confirmed total deaths and 153 CVD deaths occurred. The lowest CVD risk was in women who consumed 5 to 14.9 grams — or about one-half to one drink of alcohol a day.

Similarly, researchers found a relationship between alcohol consumption and total and CVD mortality, with the largest effect observed in women consuming half to one drink a day. However, no single factor explained most of the reduction in mortality.

“Even when putting all the factors together, only about 20 percent of the reduction in mortality was explained by the effects of moderate drinking on lipids, glucose metabolism, blood pressure and inflammation/hemostatic factors,” Djousse said.

Besides limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day — due to the potential increased risk of breast cancer — “women should also stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, maintain a normal weight and exercise,” he said.

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Consumers Over-Estimate Long Term Care Insurance Cost

A new report reveals that American consumers perceive costs for long term care insurance are more than twice the actual cost of protection.

The report from the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, the industry trade organization highlights the most commonly held misperceptions aboutlong term care insurance. According to the report, consumers also associate long-term care primarily with nursing home care. The prevailing misperception however is cost. Consumers perceive the cost is significantly higher than reality and most are not aware of ways to reduce the price for this protection.

The perception that longterm care insurance is expensive is the number one reason given by individuals for failing to investigate this important planning option, according to the report’s author. A significant percentage greatly overestimated what they would actually pay for coverage.

Costs for long-term care insurance are based on the age of the applicant, their health status when they apply and how much coverage they purchase. By right-sizing a plan of protection to match the level of retirement funds you want to protect and by taking advantage of the many discounts available today, an individual can pay as little as $20-a-week for a solid plan of protection the report acknowledges.

The organization’s 2009 industry Sourcebook report examined what individuals in New York State paid for long-term care protection. Those between the ages of 50 and 54 paid as little as $989-per-year; for those between 60 and 64 the lowest amount paid was $1,125. The report notes that the average purchaser of long term care insurance currently pays between $1,800 and $2,000 a year, but points out “the choice to buy more protection is a personal decision based on each person’s need and ability to afford coverage.

Over half of those who purchase long term care insurance do so through an independent insurance agent with the rest now buying coverage through an employer-sponsored plan. The study examined what those who purchase coverage at work pay. Those between the ages of 45 and 54 paid as little as $430-per-year. For those between 55 and 64, the lowest amount paid was $750. The average paid for each age-band was $690 and $1,120 respectively.

It is important for consumers to understand that long-term care is expensive but long term care insurance need not be, the report concludes. There are numerous ways people can reduce the cost. Among the savings techniques are, working with an agent who has access to coverage from multiple insurers. The study found that costs can vary significantly from one insurer to another. Ask about discounts offered when both spouses purchase coverage, reduced costs for those in good healthand consider co-insuring some of the initial cost by including a deductible.

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