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HOLISTIC HOPE & NEWS

 

Holistic Hope and Well Being News.

When we started Well Being News we thought it would contain a lot of articles about GOOD things. But there are so many articles in it now about things we should look out for or be aware of, that the good things may be lost. So we are going to continue to post things to watch out for in Well Being News. In Holistic Hope we will post items that offer HOPE. Holistic Hope will deal with things that can and will help us. In this section we may post items that can also offer hope and help, but are harder to explain. Sometimes it is not important to know the reason why, but just KNOW.

 

From USA Today

 

03/19/2004  6D

 

Physical enlightenment has gone to the dogs Canine yoga is a workout for their humans, too

SAN FRANCISCO -- Stretched out on a yoga mat in this city's Dolores Park, I'm trying to get my chakras flowing.

Nothing doing -- my energy centers are as locked up as the water behind Hoover Dam. Maybe it's because I'm a yoga newbie, or perhaps it's the fact that I'm also trying to get my dog, Jaco, into a Downward Facing Dog pose.

Nothing doing there, either -- Jaco looks as comfortable as a nudist in a swarm of bees, which about describes my state-of-queasiness.

When doing yoga doggie-style, you have to be prepared to flex some very particular muscles. Namely those controlling the mouth and eyes, depending on your devotion to the canine kind.

Adore your dog? Then the notion of spending 30 minutes working through Iyengar positions with Fido may bring on an isn't-that-adorable grin.

But if you think Rover's humanoid activities should be limited to lounging on the sofa and eating leftovers, well, your eyes long ago rolled skyward.

No better proof exists that many folks have taken a whimsical bumper sticker -- ''Dog is my co-pilot'' -- to heart than the spate of books and classes dedicated to making sure that dogs aren't left out of their owners' full-body quests for physical enlightenment.

''Yoga offers time to slow down and connect with yourself, but some people just find that easier to do with a loyal pet nearby,'' says New York yoga instructor Jennifer Brilliant, co-author of Doga: Yoga for Dogs. ''Dogs actually are naturals at yoga. We can learn a lot from them.''

Helping forge this human-dog yoga bond is Crunch Fitness, whose free doggie-and-me sessions -- called Ruff Yoga -- are offered at locations from Los Angeles to New York. Now, its San Francisco gym is joining the pack, a natural fit considering this city's slavish devotion to yoga and to dogs.

Thank, or blame, Suzi Teitelman for Ruff Yoga. As Crunch's New York-based director of yoga, she had her epiphany when her devoted cocker spaniel, Coali, began hovering by her yoga mat during at-home sessions.

''Pretty soon I was getting Coali into positions, and I could just feel him getting happier,'' says Teitelman, who wears her dog-love proudly. ''This is a partner class, where you and your dog get closer by working through poses together.''

Dogs feeling happier. Bonds growing stronger. Perfect goals for me and Jaco, a 3-year-old rescue mutt with the deafening bark of a beagle and the nuclear energy of a Brittany spaniel.

The class is serious as Crunch instructor Pete Chandonnet asks us to put hands together and bow. Then, just when he asks us to contemplate what we hope to gain from the half-hour, Tahoe, his MGM lion of a chow mix, promptly attends to his privates.

So much for serious.

As the class unfolds, human students are put through a variety of basic yoga poses with Zen-sounding names like Sun Salute and Reverse Warrior, essentially linked stretches that emphasize fluidity and balance.

Dogs have both in abundance. They also like to chase anything animate. Which makes it difficult to keep the dogs in their next pose, in which the dogs are lifted onto their hindquarters while we stretch out their front paws.

Nose to muzzle, it doesn't seem all that strange. But then I picture the scene from 20 yards away -- five humans waltzing with their four-legged friends -- and instantly feel like disappearing into the next area code.

Jaco seems zoned out. He's not barking and even seems uninterested in a marauding shepherd who taunts the crew.

Maybe he is happier? Or maybe he's just thinking, ''Why do you want me to stand like a kangaroo?''

Just as I'm almost convinced this peaceful interlude could benefit man and beast, Chandonnet pushes me over my limit and commands us to massage our dogs' stomachs. I do it, but feel like a white-suited masseur at some doggie Canyon Ranch.

I look around, hoping others are sharing my embarrassment. No such luck. The other dogs are far less interested than Jaco in spa pampering: Tahoe is chasing the shepherd, while a pit bull pup named Gem is busy frantically digging a tunnel to Oakland.

We owners run through a few more poses and finish by hugging the dogs. A moment later, Jaco, never making eye contact, walks off. His way of saying, ''Hey, this never happened, all right, pal?''

I'm down with that. He'll bark. I'll plug my ears. And all will be right in my human-dog cosmos.

03/18/2004

Can 14 'super foods' rescue our health? Heroic notion put forth in new book, but many say the claims overreach

A California physician has ventured into the field of nutrition to propose to a nation of dieters that certain ''super foods'' are the keys to health and weight control.

Steven Pratt recommends eating a diet rich in spinach, tomatoes, blueberries, broccoli, oats, wild salmon, turkey, soy and walnuts in his new best-selling book SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life (William Morrow, $24.95), written with Kathy Matthews. It's No. 64 on the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books List.

Not everyone agrees with Pratt's ideas. Several leading nutrition scientists question the evidence on some of his claims about foods, and, in fact, the entire concept of super foods.

But Pratt, 58, an ophthalmologist and plastic surgeon in private practice in La Jolla, Calif., and assistant clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of California-San Diego, says his ideas are based on science.

He says that as he treated patients over the years, he came to believe that many of their chronic diseases could be prevented if they ate healthier and exercised faithfully.

He studied the scientific literature to come up with his list of super foods, which are really 14 classes of foods that add up to more than 105 choices. For example, under the blueberry heading, he lists purple grapes, cranberries, raspberries and other fruits.

He narrowed his list to 14 because ''when you are trying to make people aware of something and change their habits, you need to give them something they can grasp.''

Under each category, Pratt describes studies done on that food. He writes about research suggesting that the lycopene found in tomatoes may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The section on blueberries includes studies in which research showed the fruit helped improve brain function and motor movement in aging rats.

Several national nutrition experts who reviewed Pratt's super foods list for USA TODAY say his recommendations are generally good, but they say some of the health claims he makes for individual foods are overstated.

''These are healthy foods that are good to include in our diet. However, some of this is overly hyped, and some of the claims are really hypotheses not supported by any direct evidence,'' says Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and author of Eat, Drink and Be Healthy. ''Depicting some foods as super foods could lead to overconsumption and an imbalance in diets.''

Jeffrey Blumberg, nutrition professor at Tufts University in Boston, agrees. He says that although ''the scientific evidence he (Pratt) presents is not exactly wrong, it tends to be a little misleading because he doesn't differentiate between definitive evidence and stuff that is pretty speculative.''

''For instance, while the research on blueberries (and brain function) is very exciting, to date this work has only been conducted in rats and there are no data that comparable results are found in people.''

Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society, says the foods on Pratt's list ''have to be part of an overall healthy diet. If you eat these foods and the rest of your diet is Twinkies and Big Macs, it's not going to work.''

No food is a miracle bullet, she says. ''It's a good idea to eat tomatoes because they are full of nutrients, but we can't guarantee that people who eat them are not going to get prostate cancer.''

Pratt says his book provides ''timeless advice.'' No one will be harmed, he says, by eating these foods ''in reasonable amounts.''

He believes that if people eat the foods on his list they'll be better able to control their weight. ''How much oatmeal and brown rice can you eat at one time?'' he says. ''You are going to get full long before you eat too many calories.''

 

03/11/2004  6D

Egg research lays big surprise

Stunning research out Thursday appears to overturn the long-held scientific belief that the number of eggs in the ovaries of mammals is determined at birth.
Scientists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that the ovaries of female mice contain stem cells that produce new eggs well into adulthood. Although not yet proven, scientists say the findings likely apply to humans.
"We have no reason not to believe this would not be the same in humans," says Jonathan L. Tilly, leader of the team reporting findings in today's Nature.
If confirmed, the research re-writes the books on reproductive biology and poses far-reaching implications for the treatment of infertility, reproduction and menopause.
"Everything has to be re-examined if this turns out to be true," says Frank Bellino with the National Institute on Aging, which funded the research.
The findings are "a total surprise," says Roger G. Gosden, scientific director of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, where the USA's first test-tube baby was created. "We thought that this issue had been settled 50 years ago."
In all lower types of animals, both genders produce sex cells and remain fertile throughout life. But in mammals, it was believed only males continued to produce sperm through adulthood. In females, the ovaries contained at birth all the eggs needed for a lifetime.
"It's only the mammalian female that seems to be different than everything else," Bellino explains.
It's known that mammalian ovaries stop releasing eggs at some point and eventually diminish function to result in menopause.
Women who are pregnant in their 30s and 40s have a higher risk of births with genetic defects such as Down syndrome. It has been thought that this higher risk is because the eggs were older and therefore had more time to acquire mutations.
Although the mice in this study are producing new eggs well into adulthood, it doesn't mean they are fertile until old age. But the finding that ovaries make new eggs will force scientists to re-think concepts of infertility and reproduction.
"The observations are still true — older women have a higher incidence of births with genetic abnormalities — but the reasoning to explain and understand it would certainly change," Bellino says.
Tilly says that the latest discovery, if confirmed in humans, could one day lead to new therapies, such as transplanting ovarian stem cells for infertility.

03/10/2004  1A

Obesity on track as No. 1 killer Inactivity, poor diet may overtake tobacco

Poor diet and lack of exercise might end up killing more people than tobacco use and become the leading cause of preventable deaths in the USA by as early as next year, a new study says.

Diet and physical inactivity accounted for 400,000 deaths in 2000, or about 16.6% of total deaths. Tobacco, with 435,000 deaths, was 18.1% of the total, says research in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

''This is really a tragedy,'' says Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one of the authors of the study. ''Obesity is the overt manifestation'' of poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, and it's a ''preventable risk factor,'' she says.

Smoking rates are dropping, but Americans are increasingly overweight. That's why obesity probably will overtake smoking as the leading preventable cause of death by 2005, says CDC epidemiologist Ali Mokdad, another study author. Almost 65% of Americans weigh too much, increasing their risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

On Tuesday, the government announced two ways it intends to help: by running public service ads on the importance of controlling weight and by paying for new obesity research.

For the latest study, CDC researchers reviewed about 1,000 studies linking certain behaviors and death, and they came up with an equation that determines the actual risk from those behaviors. Often, more than one cause or condition contributes to a single death. The top killers are heart disease, cancer and stroke. The researchers say poor diet and inactivity are considered ''modifiable'' behaviors that give those killers ammunition.

Nutrition experts say Americans must take this news seriously. ''Obesity and unhealthy lifestyles are now the most important public health problems of this century,'' says Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

''It's not just the increase in premature deaths that's a problem, but also the illness, disability, suffering and economic costs that go with it,'' he says.

Roland Sturm, a senior economist with Rand Corp., a research think tank, says Americans have been getting healthier and living longer. But he says that if the obesity rate continues to rise, ''it will reverse that trend.'' People now in their 40s will develop conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and back pain that will reduce their quality of life, he says.

In a study in the March issue of Health Affairs, Sturm predicts that by 2020, one in five health-care dollars spent on people ages 50 to 69 could be for medical problems related to excess weight.

''People need to get off the train of overeating, gaining weight and being sedentary,'' says George Blackburn, associate director of the division of nutrition at Harvard Medical School. ''These are 400,000 avoidable, premature deaths that wouldn't occur if we didn't overeat and weren't coach potatoes.''

Gerberding says she would like to see Americans take small steps to a healthier lifestyle, and those steps would ''add up to a more fit body. That means eating healthy foods in healthy portion sizes and finding ways to incorporate exercise into their everyday lives.''

 

03/08/2004  6D

Milk might help keep children slim

Youngsters who skimp on milk and other dairy food to avoid calories actually appear to increase their risk of becoming overweight, a new study has found. Lynn Moore, an epidemiologist at Boston University, found that just two servings of dairy food a day are linked to a substantial reduction in adolescent fatness. Childhood dairy intake has been falling for 20 years as youngsters' preferences have switched from milk to soft drinks. Moore speculated that calcium or some other nutrient in milk might help influence the way the body stores energy in fat cells.

03/08/2004  7D

 Hugs can do a heart good Especially for women, who get more of a protective hormone, study finds

Good times with a mate improve health for both sexes, but a ''nesting'' hormone might give women's hearts even more benefit during brief episodes of warm contact with loved ones, a psychologist reported over the weekend.

Dubbed the ''tend and befriend'' hormone, oxytocin has attracted great interest since scientists found a few years ago that women under stress churn out more of it than men do, and oxytocin might prompt them to seek to comfort and nurture others. Testosterone appears to blunt the social bonding effect of oxytocin, which is a calming hormone. It stimulates milk release during breast feeding and is released in men and women during orgasm.

In the new study of 76 adults, all married or in long-term live-in relationships, partners who were happy together had significantly higher levels of oxytocin than unhappy couples, says psychologist Karen Grewen of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She reported her findings with colleague Kathleen Light at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting.

They asked each couple to talk privately for five minutes about a situation that brought them closer, then to view a romantic video and hug each other. During these warm exchanges, women's bodies reacted differently from men's, regardless of how happy they were with partners: Their oxytocin levels rose significantly more than men's and their blood pressure dropped. Women's surge in oxytocin also correlated with lower levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine. Oxytocin may trigger changes that protect women's hearts, Grewen says.

''It makes sense in evolution. Yes, you needed the testosterone -- someone to go out and kill the animals. But you needed a healthy person to stay and care for the kids too.'' She says more studies will be needed to confirm the findings.

There's evidence women suffer more stress than men from marital conflicts, ''so this perhaps shows the positive side, that they're buffered more by happy contacts,'' says University of Toronto psychiatrist Brian Baker, who studies how marriage affects men's hearts.

Male heart patients with good marriages stay healthier than do those living with conflict, he says. ''There are definite gender differences, but gender doesn't tell the whole story.''

03/05/2004  1D

TIME Spas now smooth frown lines about aging

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- As a Pepsi Generation baby boomer, I've always thought young.

But when you've passed the half-century mark, you're forced to face the fact that you're not as young as you feel. So a vacation that promises rejuvenation -- without plastic surgery or weird injections, both of which scare me -- is too tantalizing to pass up.

That's why I'm here in a white examining room at Red Mountain Spa, gazing out the window at the sun rising over towering rose-colored desert rock formations. The folds of my upper arm, thigh and waist are being gently pinched with electronic calipers, then a nose clip and scuba-like breathing device are attached to me.

I feel like the subject of a science project, but it's for a good cause. The pinches, part of the spa's ''actual age assessment,'' will determine my percentage of body fat. The composition of the air I exhale will indicate my metabolism rate and the daily calories I need.

The tests are the starting point of my three-day stay at Red Mountain, one of the growing number of U.S. spas, resorts and hotels that are helping vacationers put a little Dorian Gray in their getaways. In addition to having my body's age and general condition assessed, I've signed up for an ''anti-aging facial,'' instruction in Pilates and yoga and a seminar on the rejuvenating powers of living joyfully.

I have plenty of company: Holding back the years is becoming a leisure-travel mantra nationwide.

Elsewhere, fountain-of-youth offerings range from the complimentary jars of Kiehl's new, hot ''Abyssine'' restorative face cream (Demi Moore is a fan) to be placed in rooms of Manhattan's The Carlyle hotel starting in April, to the doctor-supervised, $5,000 Optimal Aging program at Canyon Ranch health resort in Tucson.

Anti-aging facials using ingredients such as vitamin C, oxygen and glycolic acid are now on many a spa menu. The Spa at Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz., for instance, offers one created by de

 

From USA Today

07/22/2003   8D

Does pizza cut risk of some cancer?

     Pizza might reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, Italian scientists report.  Too good to be true?  Not according to researchers at a Milan pharmacology center who found that eating one or more pizzas a week significantly reduced the occurrence of some forms of cancer.  After monitoring 8,000 Italians, scientists discovered that regular pizza-eaters were 59% less likely to contract of the esophagus and 26% less likely to develop colon cancer.  "We knew that tomato sauce was protective against certain tumors, but we certainly didn't expect that pizza as a whole would provide such strong protection," researcher Silvano Gallus told Sunday's La Repubblica newspaper.

 

A Tomato a Day Keeps Heart Disease Away

Risk drops by 30 percent for those who eat pizza, tomato sauce and the like

MONDAY, July 21, 2003 (HealthDayNews)

Just one serving a day of tomato-based foods such as pizza or tomato sauce could lower your risk for heart disease by as much as 30 percent, contends a new Harvard study.

"The results are pretty enticing," says study author Howard Sesso, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "They're encouraging enough for us to do more studies."

Sesso and his colleagues reviewed the diets of approximately 40,000 women from the ongoing Women's Health Study, which was begun 11 years ago to follow women who, at the time, were free from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Controlling for factors such as age, family history, smoking status and other health indicators, they found that women who consumed seven or more servings of tomato-based foods a week -- including tomato juice, tomatoes, tomato sauce or pizza -- had a nearly 30 percent reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease compared with women who ate less than one and one-half servings a week.

The study was sparked by research that has shown a connection between an increase in the diet of the antioxidant lycopene and a reduction in risk for prostate cancer, Sesso says. Since tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, he and his colleagues were interested to learn if the same antioxidant qualities, when eaten in tomatoes, might also lower heart disease risk.

Interestingly, however, when the researchers tabulated the result, the lycopene intake itself was not significantly associated with reduced heart disease risk. However, when they looked at food intake, as measured by self-reported servings, there was a clear cardiovascular benefit for those who consumed the tomato-based products on a regular basis.

This could be due to errors in measuring lycopene, Sesso says, because of the limited information available in the questionnaire. Or, another substance in the tomato-based foods could be providing the heart benefit, he says.

Whatever the cause, he says, "our study suggests preliminary evidence that consuming a number of servings of tomato-based foods per week may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease." The finding appears in the July issue of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences.

Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition for Washington University in St. Louis, finds the study promising, both because the large number of women surveyed make the results significant and because the findings concur with other work on the topic.

"The results may still be inconclusive, but the indication that lycopene/tomatoes may aid in the prevention of disease continues to evolve," she says. "I would encourage people to take these results and add them to the growing list of studies that point to the benefits of more fruits, vegetables and whole grains."

Sesso points out that those people who showed the benefit from eating the tomato foods might just have an overall healthier diet than those who had fewer servings of tomatoes.

"It could be the diet itself, one that includes more fruits and vegetables," he says. "Those people would have a better cardiovascular profile."

"It's hard to be specific," he says of the findings, "but there's a potential that regular servings of tomatoes can have a dramatic effect on cardiovascular risk."

From USA Today

07/21/2003

Omega-3 gets another boost

Fish and other foods rich in a type of beneficial fat may help prevent Alzheimer's disease, says a study out Tuesday.

The new finding fits in with a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests Americans could reduce their risk of developing all sorts of killer diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and now Alzheimer's, if they were to eat a healthier diet — one rich in fish, fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats from red meat.

Everyone would benefit by adopting that diet, but boomers and younger people might gain a bigger health edge. Researchers believe that Alzheimer's takes years to develop. About 4 million Americans now suffer from the incurable disease, and that number is expected to grow to 14 million by the end of this century, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Martha Clare Morris of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago and her colleagues recruited 815 people between the ages of 65 and 95. At the start of the study, recruits showed no sign of Alzheimer's disease, which causes memory loss, confusion and the inability to perform routine daily tasks.

The researchers asked about their diet and kept track of the volunteers for four years. They found that 131 people developed Alzheimer's.

A statistical analysis in today's Archives of Neurology revealed that people who ate fish once a week or more had a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than those who rarely or never ate fish. Oily fish such as salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids that already have been shown to reduce the risk of dying from heart disease. Other foods such as nuts and oil-based salad dressing also contain these helpful fats, Morris says.

Animal research suggests these fats help nerve cells fire more efficiently and thus might help boost memory abilities, she says. Or it may be that people who eat more fish also choose fruits and veggies, a diet that could reduce heart disease and perhaps stave off Alzheimer's as well, says Robert Friedland, a neurologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

This association between fish and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's must be confirmed with additional research, says Bill Thies of the Alzheimer's Association.

But consumers don't necessarily need to wait for a final verdict from science. "There are lots of good reasons to eat more fish," Thies says.

Many health experts agree, but they also warn that people, particularly pregnant women and young children, should steer clear of fish high in methylmercury, a toxic metal that contaminates some fish. Swordfish, shark, tuna and other large predatory fish can contain lots of mercury, while salmon, flounder and cod generally don't have as much.

Fish oil supplements, which were not considered in the Chicago study, also can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, Friedland says

07/10/2003  1D

Walk the healthy walk

If Americans would watch their steps, their weight might stop climbing the scales. That's the thinking behind several major efforts to inspire Americans to walk more.

The latest, America on the Move, is a national initiative launching Monday with a straightforward goal: Get millions of people to wear inexpensive step counters and walk an additional 2,000 steps (about 1 mile) a day, or cut out 100 calories.

"If people start making small changes, great things will happen," says obesity researcher James Hill, co-founder of the program, which has the support of government and private industry — including some food giants that sell soft drinks, fruit juices and fast food. That alliance with companies already is drawing criticism from some nutrition experts. And others contend that taking a few extra steps a day will not put a dent in the nation's obesity epidemic.

Almost 65% of Americans are overweight or obese, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and most types of cancer. Inactivity is considered a major cause of excess weight, and experts behind these walking initiatives believe that it may be easier to get people to move more than to change their eating habits. Among the other recent efforts to encourage more activity:

• Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, the largest network of insurers, recently launched WalkingWorks, a program to encourage its nearly 89 million subscribers to add brisk walks to their daily routines. They don't get a break on premiums, but they get a free or discounted pedometer.

• Researchers at West Virginia University are encouraging sedentary people ages 50 to 65 to move more through the program Wheeling Walks. The result: About 32% of sedentary middle-aged residents are walking at least 30 minutes a day.

• Colorado on the Move, an initiative unveiled last year by Hill and others, is the pilot program for America on the Move. More than 200,000 Colorado residents have signed on. Like that program, America on the Move (www.americaonthemove.org) includes educational material and discounted step counters.

Many other states and cities have walking programs, and lots of community leaders are adding sidewalks, walking trails and parks to make it easier for people to be physically active.

Reaching a goal

For years, the government and obesity experts have been urging Americans to be more active. Federal guidelines advise getting at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week, but more than 60% of American adults don't get enough exercise. Last fall, the National Academies' Institute of Medicine raised the bar, recommending at least an hour of daily moderate activity to control weight.

Experts have struggled with ways to help people meet these goals. For years, some researchers and public health officials have encouraged people to walk 10,000 steps a day, roughly five miles.

On average, people walk about 5,310 steps in a day, according to a Harris Interactive online poll conducted for America on the Move.

Getting up to 10,000 steps may seem like a big leap to most people, which is why America on the Move participants are encouraged to begin by adding 2,000 steps a day to what they already are doing, then increasing activity, says Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

Adults are gaining about one to three pounds a year, he says. Walking an extra 2,000 steps or cutting out 100 calories a day "won't help most people lose much, but these changes should keep them from gaining more," Hill says.

Still, not everyone is sold on pedometers. Rather than focusing on step counters, some people would be better off aiming for 30 minutes of activity most days of the week, says Rich Killingsworth, director of the Active Living by Design project for the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He's selecting 25 communities to be redesigned with more sidewalks, bike paths, trails and parks.

"The pedometers are nice little tools and great gift-bag stuffers, but do they really translate into populationwide behavior change? I'm not convinced they do.

"You pass these things out, and you come back a week or two later, and the vast majority of people are not wearing them," he says. "Plus, they don't capture the activity you get when you bike, swim, row, garden. I lift weights, cycle and try to walk when I can, but I don't come close to 10,000 steps."

John Peters, co-founder of America on the Move and director of Procter & Gamble's Nutrition Science Institute, believes that participants in the program will be more likely to stick with the program if they have incentives, and the founders are working to implement some of those. For instance, he says, they would like stores to offer discounts to walkers. That would mean when you go into a store, a clerk would give you a step counter. If you take 2,000 steps while shopping, a clerk would give you a 5% discount.

The founders also are working with several corporate sponsors, including PepsiCo, which owns Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Tropicana and Quaker Oats, and Yum! Brands, the parent company for Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and other chain restaurants. Details on how the companies will be involved are still being worked out.

"We are at an awesome point where private industry is going to help solve the (obesity) problem," Hill says.

Others aren't convinced. "This is wishful thinking," says Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. "Corporations have to put the bottom line first. Experts are deluding themselves if they think corporations care more about health than profits."

Nestle is in favor of extra walking, but she doesn't believe 2,000 steps will have much impact on weight control. "It's so easy to overeat by 100 calories."

Walking as enjoyment

Some people have recently learned the joy of walking. Paula Allen, 55, of Indianapolis, considered herself an "occasional walker" and was taking about 4,500 steps a day when in January she got a step counter and instructions from Colorado on the Move.

Allen, who works as a youth volunteer program director, began walking 30 minutes every morning, and sometimes she added a second walk in the afternoon. On the weekends, she walked 1½ to two hours each day with a friend. She also added more steps to her day by parking far away from the grocery store entrance and going into the bank instead of using the drive-through. She kept track of her steps in a logbook.

Then she began Latin dancing. "Even if I only danced for an hour, my steps would skyrocket." Before long, her steps tallied 10,000 and sometimes climbed up to 15,000.

Allen wasn't overweight, she says, but she has dropped three or four pounds. "I have clothes that are too big for me now. I am in better aerobic shape, and my muscles are stronger."

Other changes are needed

Mark Fenton, one of the nation's leading walking experts and host of the PBS show America's Walking, says that to make the most of a pedometer, people need to record their steps daily.

"If you don't keep a record of the steps you take, the novelty of the pedometer wears off, and you stop wearing it," he says. "But if you keep a record and you increase your steps over time, then you see what you're doing that helps you get the additional 2,000 to 4,000 steps a day."

Most experts agree that walking more is only one piece of solving the complex problem of obesity.

"Physical activity in and of itself is not going to be enough," says Bill Reger, the mastermind behind the Wheeling Walks program and an associate professor of community medicine at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

People are going to have to eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce portion sizes and watch the junk food, he says. "Eating one Cinnabon at the mall can wipe out several days of physical activity."

06/12/2003   4D

Progesterone helps prevent early births

Weekly injections of a naturally occurring hormone reduced pregnant women's risk of delivering too soon by a third, says research published today.

Premature birth — more than three weeks before the due date — has been a growing problem in the USA. Factors include a jump in multiple births because of the wider use of fertility treatments, says co-author Catherine Spong of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Today, nearly 12% of all U.S. births are premature, according to the March of Dimes. And the earlier babies are born, the more likely they are to experience complications such as bleeding in the brain or respiratory distress.

Doctors have been stymied in predicting who might deliver prematurely. The goal is to develop a formula that would calculate each woman's risk, just as cardiologists calculate patients' risk of having a heart attack to aid in treatment decisions, says study co-author Jay Iams, president of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

The study followed only pregnant women who had previously given birth early, a known risk factor for subsequent premature deliveries.

The shots proved to be so effective that the researchers decided they didn't need to enroll as many women in the study as planned. "For once, we have something to offer these women to prevent a premature delivery," says Spong, chief of the institute's pregnancy and perinatology branch.

Scientists at 19 research centers randomly assigned 463 women to receive weekly shots of either a progesterone or castor oil, which served as a placebo.

Researchers settled on a particular form of progesterone because previous, smaller trials had found it to be effective. It also has been used early in pregnancy to prevent miscarriage in women who have undergone fertility treatments, although data to support that approach are lacking, Spong says.

The women began getting shots 16 to 20 weeks into their pregnancies and continued until week 36 or delivery, whichever came first. None of the women, their caregivers or the researchers knew who was getting which shot until the study ended.

Among the 153 women who received placebo shots, 54.9% delivered prematurely. But only 36.3% of the 310 women who received the progesterone shots did, the researchers report in The New England Journal of Medicine. The shots worked equally well in white women and black women.

Earlier studies had suggested that 37% of pregnant women who've had one premature birth will have another. Spong says the rate was higher in her study because participants had previously delivered extremely early, at only 30 weeks on average.

Lead author Paul Meis, of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., says he currently has four patients on the progesterone, available only through pharmacies that prepare it themselves. The shots cost $12 or $13 apiece, according to one pharmacy, and sometimes are covered by insurance.

From USA Today

05/21/2003  7D

Study: Smallpox immunity remains in body for years after vaccination

     People vaccinated against smallpox as long as 75 years ago may still retain some immunity to the disease, a new study finds.  That means as many as 150 million Americans could already be significantly protected , researchers say.

     Antibodies to vaccinia, the live virus used in the smallpox vacine, were present in more than 90% of the 306 people tested, and remained fairly constant whether the participants were vaccinated a year ago or as far back as 1928, says researcher Mark K. Slifka of the Oregon Health and Science University.  "From one to 75 years out, the levels were in the same range," he says.

 

From ALTERNATIVES

Dr. David G. Williams

February 2003   158-160

Consider This Before Getting Stuck (with the Smallpox Vaccine)

   I never thought there would be a time that I would be discussing smallpox in Alternatives.  But times have changed...to say the least.

   In the next several months there will reportedly be enough smallpox vaccine available to vaccinate everyone in the United States.  As I'm sure you know, the president has already had his shot and has stated that the members of the armed forces will get theirs next.

   This will probably become an emotionally charged issue and ultimately a personal decision each of us may have to make.  It's a serious decision because the smallpox vaccine is undoubtedly the most dangerous of all vaccines.  As such, we should have all the facts, but they haven't been forthcoming.  Instead we've been grossly misinformed about smallpox and the vaccine.

   First, there has been no threat of any attack involving smallpox.

   Second, there hasn't been any evidence that any terrorist groups or governments even have supplies of the smallpox virus or any means to spread it.

   The public also hasn't been told that the dangers of general inoculation far outweigh the benefits.  It's been said that only one or two people maight die from the vaccine for every million inoculated.  The truth of the matter is that no one knows exactly how many people would die from the vaccine, but you can be sure it would be much greater than one lor two per million.

From New York Times  06/11/2003

As Monkeypox Rises, Smallpox Vaccines to Be Offered

ederal health officials are expected to announce today that smallpox vaccinations will be made available to certain people who have been exposed to prairie dogs and other animals infected with monkeypox in recent days.

Smallpox vaccine is considered the most dangerous of human immunizations, but it can protect against monkeypox.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to make the vaccinations available as an option to highly selected groups like health workers who care for patients with monkeypox, people who have been exposed to animals sick with monkeypox, veterinarians who care for animals suspected of having it and scientists investigating monkeypox.

The investigation of human monkeypox cases expanded to a fourth state, northern New Jersey, yesterday as the number of suspected monkeypox cases rose to 50: 23 in Indiana, 20 in Wisconsin, 6 in Illinois and 1 in New Jersey. No one has died.

The total is more than double the 23 cases reported in three states when the disease centers urgently announced the outbreak over the weekend. The increase in cases under investigation has resulted largely from widespread publicity that led people to report rashes and illness to health officials, officials of the centers in Atlanta said.

The monkeypox cases are the first detected in the Americas. Most suspected cases had direct contact with prairie dogs or at work in veterinarian offices and pet shops.

Monkeypox patients typically fall ill with signs and symptoms like fever, headaches, dry cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills and drenching sweats.

One to 10 days later, patients develop rashes consisting of blisterlike pimples that filled with pus, broke open and produced scabs.

The rash often erupts in different stages, or crops, as it appeared on the head, trunk and arms and legs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also expected today to announce a definition of human monkeypox, which would be critical in determining who would be eligible for smallpox vaccinations as well as investigating the outbreak.

United States officials stopped routine smallpox vaccinations in 1970, about a decade before eradication of smallpox from the world.

On Monday, a subgroup of a national panel of immunization experts appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve on its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices began discussions on whether and how the smallpox vaccine might be used.

Discussions focused on the benefits and risks of smallpox vaccine for monkeypox, a viral disease that can be fatal in 10 percent of human cases. The death rate for smallpox was about 30 percent.

But smallpox vaccination can also be fatal. Studies from the 1960's, when smallpox vaccinations were routine, found that for every million people older than 1 year old who were vaccinated, 1 or 2 died, 9 suffered from brain infection and more than 100 developed eczema vaccinatum, a severe illness and skin rash that can leave deep scars and can occasionally be life-threatening.

The government owns all the smallpox vaccine in the United States. This year, the government began offering it to health care workers to protect against any cases that might result from an attack in which terrorists released the virus.

The only known stocks of smallpox virus are kept at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in Russia, both with the approval of the World Health Organization.

But the Bush administration has warned that Iraq as well as other countries and rogue groups might have obtained smallpox virus from the official stores in Russia and begun a program to vaccinate health care workers before the war began against Iraq.

The number of people for whom smallpox vaccine might be offered to protect against monkeypox would be small, the panel's chairman, Dr. John F. Modlin, said in an interview before the panel's meeting.

From TRUE HEALTH

May 2003  Page 4

New Vegetarian Diet Lowers Cholesterol

     Eating a new vegetarian diet may lower cholesterol levels by one-third.  These findings were reported at a recent meeting of the American Heart Association by Canadian researchers.  Called the Portfolio diet, this approach seems to work about as well as the older station drugs that are still the primary medicine for people with high cholesterol.  Although it is widely recognized that diet can help to reduce cholesterol, typically most people can only affect cholesterol levels by about 10 percent with diet.  The difference is that the new diet relies heavily on foods (such as oats, barley, okra, almonds, cauliflower, and eggplant) that are known to be especially effective at reducing cholesterol.  Researcher Cyril Kendall of the University of Toronto said tht volunteers found the diet extremely filling, and several stayed on it after the experiment ended.

From Health & Healing

By Dr. julian Whitaker

July 2003  Pages  3-4-6-7

CHELATION THERAPY

Get the Lead Out

  Abut 20 years ago, I began administering EDTA chelation therapy to my patients with cardiovascular disease.  i had been using vitamins, minerals,and nutrition as my primary therapies since I first opened the Whitaker Wellness Institute five years prior to that, but I steered clear of chelation for political reasons.  No other therapy generates as much hostility among conventional physicians.  It's an "us vs. them" situation, and a physician who uses chelation has crossed the line.

Since I Crossed the Line

     In the intervening years, I have seen remarkable results with chelation therapy in hundreds of patients.  Twelve years ago, jerome, plaqued by a nonhealing diabetic ulcer, literally walked away from leg amputation hours before surgery.  He checked himself out of the hospital and came to the clinic for chelation and wound care.  Today, he is walking around on his own two feet.

     Richard, hospitalized with severe chest pain, was told that if he didn't have bypass surgery he would die.  He left the hospital against medical advice to try a course of chelation, and three years later he remains pain-free on no medications.

     Before his course of chelation, john could barely walk a block without severe chest pain: six months later, he climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

     Two years ago, Lou had a 70-75 percent blockage in his left carotid artery, which supplies blood to the brain.  His doctor recommended surgery.  Instead Lou began EDTA chelation therapy.  Much to the surprise of his cardiologist, repeat ultrasound a year later showed regression of the blockage to 45 percent.

     These are not isolated cases.  Virtually all doctors who use chelation in their practices report similar successes.  Yet even those of us who know from years of clinical experience that EDTA chelation is a dependable, effective therapy honestly don't know exactly how it works.

What Is EDTA Chelation Therapy?

     EDTA is a chelating agent.  Administered intravenously in a slow infusion, this synthetic amino acid binds to minerals and toxic heavy metals, primarily lead, and carries them out of the body via the urine.

     One theory as to why chelation helps patients with cardiovascular disease is that it removes calcium from arterial plaque.  Another theory is that because EDTA ia a potent antioxidant, it reduces free radical damage to the blood vessels and improves their function.  Yet the most plausible explanation for chelation's  benefits is also the simplest and most obvious.

     There is no doubt that EDTA chelation therapy dramatically lowers the burden of lead and other toxic heavy metals in the body.  In fact, it is the FDA approved treatment of choice for lead poisoning.  New findings confirm that lead is toxic to the kidneys, nervous system, and cardiovascular system at much lower levels than previously believed.  This suggests that chelation's primary benefit for heart disease may be lead removal.

The Heavy Burden of Lead

     We are constantly exposed to toxic heavy metals, and chief among them is lead.  From automobile and industrial emissions, contaminated soils, lead-based paints, lead crystal, and waste dumps, lead finds its way into our bodies.  Children are especially vulnerable, as this neurotoxin causes significant reductions in IQ, behavior problems, and impaired growth.  In adults, it harms the kidneys and nervous system, causes anemia and miscarriage, increases the risk of high blood pressure, and accelerates free radical damage.

     We've made strides in recent years in reducing lead exposure by lowering the amount of lead in gasoline and banning lead-based paint.  However, even if your current exposure is minimal, you're still carrying some of the lead that you were exposed to in the past, most of it stored in your bones.  The average bone level of lead today is hundreds of times higher than before the industrial revolution 200 years ago. And we're just now beginning to understand the long-term repercussions of this heavy metal burden.

High Lead Levels Increase Risk of Death

     To assess the impact of lead on health, researchers from Johns Hopkins University examined blood levels and mortality data of 4,292 men and women.  After adjusting for age, smoking history, body mass index, and other factors, they found that people whose blood levels measured 20-29 mcg/dL and a 39 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other circulatory diseases, compared to those with lead levels below 10 mcg/dL.  They also had a 68 percent increased risk of death from cancer and a 46 percent increase in death from all causes.

     To put these levels into perspective, consider that the current acceptable blood lead level for occupational exposure is 40 mcg/dL, and blood levels as low as 10 mcg/dL are linked to adverse effects in children.  Yet according to new research,  there is no safe level of this toxic element -- even minute levels in the body have adverse effects on health.

Can Chelation Lower Blood Pressure

     For several years now, the case for lead as a hidden cause of hypertension has been growing.  The kidneys are a key player in blood pressure regulation, and ample research supports the link between elevated levels of lead, kidney damage, and hypertension.

     The most recent study supporting this relationship was published in March 2003.  Researchers measured the blood lead levels in more than 2,000 women, ages 40 to 59, and correlated them with bolld pressure levels.  They found that blood lead levels "well below the current US occupational exposure limit guidelines (40 mcg/dL)" were positively associated with the risk of hypertension.

     "Well below" the current exposure limit is an understatement!  The average lead level ws 2.9 mcg/dL.  The lead levels in the group of women at highest risk averaged 6.4 mcg/dL.  These women were 3.4 times more likely to have high blood pressure than those whose lead levels were less than 1.6 mcg/dL -- a huge increase in risk for a relatively small increase in blood levels.  To set the level of safe occupational exposure at 40 mcg/dL and the level of concern for children at 10 mcg/dL is absurd.

Lead Is Mobilized From Bone

     An interesting finding of this study is that those at greates risk were postmenopausal women.  It is well known that these women lose a significiant amount of bone mass, most of it in the early years of menopause.  As bone breaks down, it releases stored lead into the bloodstream, elevating lead levels and increasing risk fo hypertension and other health problems.

     The authors concluded, "These results provide support for continued efforts to reduce lead levels in the general population, especially women."  But they failed to mention that an extremely safe, reliable, and predictable way to eliminate the lead burden already exists, and that is EDTA chelation therapy.  A better recommendation might have been for all women to undergo a course of chelation at menopause to lower lead levels and protect against disease.

New Hope for Kidney Disease

     In another study published earlier this year, researchers not only uncovered lead as a culprit in kidney disease, but they also did something about it -- with astounding results.

     Taiwanese researchers followed 202 patients with chronic kidney disease for two years and found that even low levels of lead accelerated the progression of the disease.  They then randomly divided the patients with the highest lead levels into two groups and administered a course of EDTA chelation or placebo infusions, followed by regular maintenance treatments.  When the patients were reevaluated after two years, there was significant improvement in the kidney function of patients who received chelation, compared with those who had the placebo.  ( I found this study particularly provocative because one of the major criticisms in the battle cry of conventional physicians against chelation therapy is its potential for causing kidney disease.)

     This study virtually screams for EDTA chelation to be used for the treatment of kidney disease.  The authors estimated it could delay the need for dialysis by years, saving millions of dollars in treatment costs and preventing untold amounts of human suffering.

     It also has enormous implications for hypertension and cardiovascular disease.  As I mentioned above, the kidneys play an important role in blood pressure, and even subtle declines in kidney function can cause hypertension.

Will Chelation Finally Be Accepted?

     When the cardiovascular benefits of EDTA chelation were serendipitously discovered in the 1950s, the therapy was met with enthusiasm, and for a time, even conventional physicians embraced it.  however, as drugs and surgical procedures for the treatment of heart disease gained popularity, chelation fell out of favor, and there it has remained.  Neither the findings of well-conducted studies such as those discussed above, nor the clinical experience of millions of patients are likely to break the bias of conventional physicians.  ( My patients routinely tell me that their cardiologists simply refuse to acknowledge tht EDTA chelation therapy could have contributed to their remarkable improvements.)

     What may change things is a $30 million government-funded study on the efficacy of EDTA chelation therapy for the treatment of coronary artery disease that is about to begin.

     You could wait for the results of this study five or six years down the road.  Or you could look into participating in it ( visit nccam.nih.gov or clinicaltrials.gov).  However, your best bet is to contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), get a referral to a physician in your area who utilizes EDTA chelation, and find out how this therapy can help you.

 

A message from Roger

Standing on Clearwater's Pier 60, a little boy put a note in a bottle: "To whoever finds this, please write me a letter and let me know." Nineteen years went by. Roger, we got your note.

By LANE DeGREGORY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 10, 2003


photo
Courtesy of Clay family
In 1984, 7-year-old Roger J. Clay slipped a note in a Pepsi bottle and plopped it in the gulf. A St. Petersburg man found it in the canal behind his home on July Fourth.
photo
[Times photo: Chris Zuppa ]
Don Smith gives Lisa Ferguson the bottle and a note her son dropped into the Gulf of Mexico nearly 19 years ago. Smith fished the bottle out of water behind his home.
photo
[Times photo: Chris Zuppa ]
Lisa Ferguson holds a photo of her son Roger Clay at age 18. He died in a motorcycle accident.

ST. PETERSBURG - At first, he thought it was trash.

The bottle was bobbing in a canal behind Don Smith's house in Venetian Isles, drifting toward his dock. He saw it on the Fourth of July, while he was playing with his grandchildren. He grabbed a fishing net and scooped the bottle out of the murky water.

One side was fuzzy with algae. The other was clear. Black electrical tape was wound tightly around the top. The rusty cap said "Pepsi" in an obsolete logo.

Inside, there was a note.

The paper was folded, scorched sepia by the sun. It had been ripped from a school writing tablet, the kind with dotted blue lines. Smith pulled it out and smoothed it on a table.

"To whoever finds this letter please write me a letter and let me know," the note said in shaky pencil. "Roger J. Clay, 890 Linwood Ave., Fairfield Ohio, 45014."

Don and his wife, Carol, know the place. They are from Cincinnati, about 25 miles from Fairfield. Their son Sean works in Fairfield. "What are the odds?" Don asked.

Then he saw the date. On the bottom right corner, the paper said: 12/27/84.

That bottle had been in the water for almost 19 years.

Don's daughter-in-law is a teacher. By the handwriting, she said, whoever wrote the note was probably 7 or 8 years old. Roger J. Clay would be 26 or 27 now.

"Wouldn't it be great if we could find him and let him know we found his bottle?" Carol said.

"I'll try," said Don. "But 19 years is a long, long time."

That night, after the fireworks, Don got on the Internet. He didn't find Roger J. Clay. He found this:

"Roger K. Clay, 890 Linwood Ave., Fairfield, Ohio."

A few more clicks and Don found public records showing Roger K. was 49. "Must be the kid's father," Don told his wife. "And it looks like he still lives at the same house. What are the odds?"

Don tried to find a phone number, but had no luck.

So he wrote a letter: "I found your son's message in a bottle behind my house in St. Petersburg, Florida," he wrote. "I just thought you would want to know."

He mailed the letter the next morning, Saturday.

On Monday, he called the St. Petersburg Times.

Don and Carol Smith are 56 and retired. Don owned a Cincinnati business that manufactured trailers to haul mobile television studios. Carol was a Realtor. "I couldn't believe it. Could a bottle really last that long out there? In Tampa Bay?" Don asked. "Geez, 19 years!"

Back at work, we tried to find out more about the boy who wrote the message. Caryn Baird, a Times researcher, tapped into electronic databases, tracked all sorts of records. But she couldn't come up with a Roger J. Clay.

Then she scanned Social Security files. There he was.

"He's dead," she said.

There had been an article in the paper.

Nine days after his 21st birthday, Roger J. Clay was driving home on his new Suzuki. "His motorcycle went left of center and collided head-on with a pickup," the Columbus Dispatch reported. "Police are still trying to determine why Clay's motorcycle went left of center."

It happened on July 10, 1998. Five years ago today.

I called Don Smith and read him the news.

He coughed. Or choked. Or something. "Oh my God. Oh my God. I knew it," he said. "That's terrible. I can't explain it. Oh my God. I just had this feeling something had happened to that kid." Now Don was even more determined to find Roger's parents. "Imagine what that message would mean to them," he said.

So Caryn found a new address and a phone number for Roger's dad. Then she found a number for someone she thought might be his mom, at a different address. I gave the numbers to Don.

A half-hour later, he called me back.

"You're not going to believe this," he said.

Roger's dad wasn't home. So Don had called the other number, the one for Lisa M. Ferguson, who used to be married to Roger K. Clay. A woman had answered. No, Lisa wasn't home. "I'm Lisa's sister," the woman said. "Can I help?"

Don explained why he was calling.

"Oh my God!" the woman gasped. "Lisa is away," she said. Every year this time, she goes away. "She can't stand to be in Ohio around the anniversary of the accident."

She gave Don a cell phone number.

"Lisa is down in Florida," her sister said. "In Seminole."

Lisa had just come back from the pool when her cell phone rang. She and her husband, Al, were cooling off in their hotel room.

When Don told Lisa he had found a bottle, she started screaming. She knew the rest. She remembers that note. She remembers the day her son wrote it.

They were in Clearwater, celebrating Christmas with her sister. Roger was 7. His dad took him fishing on Pier 60. Roger wrote the note and took tape from the tackle box and sealed the note in the bottle and tossed it off the pier. Lisa remembers telling him he was littering.

Roger was a happy, active kid. He liked to pretend to climb the walls like Spider-Man. He liked shooting squirrels with his dad. He raced dirt bikes. He fished. And he dropped a Pepsi bottle in the water even though his mother disapproved.

Now, 19 years later, a stranger had called and given her back her son.

"Here I am, trying to escape Roger's death, and he reaches out and gives me this message, this gift," she said.

Lisa told Don she wanted to see him. She wanted to hold that bottle. She wanted to touch that note, trace Roger's childish letters with her finger.

Don wanted to see Lisa, too. He wanted to learn about Roger.

They agreed to meet for dinner at 7:30 Tuesday night.

How does it happen? Can a message really float around in a bottle for 19 years and surface so close to where it started?

"I'm not at all surprised," said Robert Weisberg. He is a professor in the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. He makes models of currents, tracks tides and studies how objects travel in water.

"There would be no problem at all getting a bottle from Clearwater's Pier 60 to Tampa Bay. Water does move," he said. "There are currents out there that are driven by wind. There are tides. It certainly is reasonable for something like that to stay in circulation around this area."

The bottle could have gotten hung up in a mangrove somewhere and stayed there for 15 years, Weisberg said. It could have moved around a bit, floated down to Sanibel Island and come back up into the bay again. It could have circulated up the gulf toward the Panhandle, then gone to Texas and come back under the Sunshine Skyway bridge. "Once something drifts offshore, there's no telling," he said.

Vembu Subramanian, who works in USF's office of Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction Systems, said the bottle could have traveled thousands of paths from Clearwater to Venetian Isles. "There could have been boats moving it. It could have bounced through all those little islands. Who knows what kinds of influences could have impacted its path all those years?"

All day Tuesday, Roger J. Clay's mother couldn't stop smiling. And crying. And smiling.

She called her daughter in Ohio. She called her brothers and sisters. She called Roger's dad, who cried so hard he had to hang up.

"I had forgotten all about that bottle. It's kind of hard to put into words, all the emotions that brings back," Roger K. Clay told me from Ohio. "I told Lisa, it was like he was trying to remind us he was still with us."

Lisa told Roger's dad she would get to see the bottle that night. She and Al got to the restaurant early. At 7:40 p.m., a man with blue eyes and salt-and-pepper hair walked up, holding a bubble-wrapped bottle. Lisa smothered him, weeping, without even introducing herself. Don hugged her back. Hard. Then they stood there, in the lobby of the restaurant, holding on and sobbing into each other's shoulders. Their spouses stood by, dabbing at their eyes.

"Isn't this unreal?" Carol Smith asked.

"He's still touching lives," Al Ferguson said. "He was an amazing kid."

Over Diet Cokes and iced teas, salads and flaky rolls, the two couples talked about Roger. How he loved to play practical jokes, rig buckets of water above his sister's bedroom door, string fishing line across the hallway. How he lettered in football three years in high school. How he played varsity baseball. How the girls all loved him. He loved country music, they said, and fishing and deer hunting.

"He was buried in his blue jeans."

Ever since he was a kid, Roger had wanted a motorcycle. He begged his mom, then - after his parents got divorced - he started in on his stepdad. They kept saying no. Too dangerous.

So the day he turned 21, Roger bought a brand new Suzuki GSX-R750W. He drove it to his mom's house, where he still lived. She turned white. He grinned.

But his bike kept breaking down. The fuel hose kept popping off, killing the engine. Roger took the bike back to the dealership four times the first week. Five years ago today, he picked it up after it was supposed to be fixed again. He and two friends headed down the highway. Roger's fuel hose dropped off a few miles from home. The engine cut out and he crossed the center line.

"It's not natural," Lisa said. Under the table, she cradled Roger's Pepsi bottle in her lap. "You're not supposed to have to bury your baby."

Lisa slipped her wallet from her purse and pulled out a photo. Roger's high school graduation portrait. He was wearing a blue oxford and jeans.

"What a nice-looking kid," Don said. "What a shame."

"He was studying to be an FBI agent," Lisa said. "He was going to school during the day and working third shift. Everyone loved him. More than 400 people came to his funeral."

A few weeks after the funeral, she said, a notice came in the mail. Suzuki was recalling its GSX-R750W line because of a fault in the fuel system. Lisa called a lawyer. She spent five years suing Suzuki. Finally, in February, she settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

"The money will never bring back Roger," she told her dinner companions. "But you all have."

"I dread this time of year every year. It's the worst. But now I have something wonderful to think about," Lisa said. She reached across the table, grabbed Don and Carol's hands. "You all have given me so much to be happy about. You have given me this message from Roger. He's still playing tricks on me."

When dinner was over, the two couples walked out into the dark. "Why don't you all come visit us in Ohio?" Lisa asked the Smiths. She plans to put the bottle on her mantel, and wants them to see it.

Man wants Pepsi after 19-year coma

AP (AP) — The last time Terry Wallis was conscious of the world around him, Ronald Reagan was president, Bill Clinton was the governor, the Soviet Union was the enemy and the World Trade Center still stood.

Thrown into a stupor after an auto accident in 1984, he recently spoke his first words in 19 years: "Mom. Pepsi. Milk."

Only in the last two weeks has the 39-year-old Wallis realized that Reagan no longer is president, answering "I don't know" when asked who is in office now.

"He's beginning to realize he's in a different place now," said his physician, Dr. James Zini. "We never thought he'd regain this kind of cognitive level."

Wallis and a friend were in a car on July 13, 1984, when it ran off the road. Both men were found beneath a bridge the next day. The friend died; Wallis was left a quadriplegic and fell into a coma for three months.

He soon emerged partially from the coma. But for 18 years, he could communicate only by blinking his eyes or grunting.

Then, on June 13, he called out "Mom" to his mother and later asked for a Pepsi. While home from the hospital for a weekend, he said he wanted milk with his breakfast. Since then, he has steadily increased his vocabulary, and he is considered fully emerged from his stupor.

Wallis is eager to learn, now that the world is opening up to him again. Propped up in bed Wednesday at the nursing home where he lives, Wallis clutched small blue cushions that have kept his withered hands from closing shut over years of disuse.

He tells a visitor that he loves to talk and is happy, but he doesn't acknowledge, or isn't able to explain, the long gap in his life.

"I never had no accident," he said.

A speech therapist works with Wallis three days a week, and his doctor wants to give him more intensive physical therapy now that he can better comply with instructions. Nurses have been told to ask Wallis open-ended questions to help him develop answers beyond just "Yes" and "No."

Wallis has re-entered a world where so much was different. The World Trade Center, Pentagon and the Oklahoma City federal building were all attacked by terrorists. The Berlin Wall is gone, as is the Soviet Union.

The Internet in 1984 was a loose affiliation of computers of interest only to academics. National League and American League baseball teams never played each other until the World Series. Roger Maris was still the home run king.

Wallis' daughter, Amber, was 6 weeks old at the time of the accident. Wallis said it is his goal to walk for her. During a visit with her last month, he was able to tell her, "You're pretty" and "I love you."

His long-term memory is keen. He remembered the telephone number of a long-dead grandmother and recalled driving a car whose transmission had failed, forcing him to drive in reverse.

Over the past 19 years, the Wallis family would pick him up at the Stone County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and take him home or to family functions.

Zini said that probably aided in a gradual recovery that began with him reacting to a six-figure doctor's bill.

Eighteen years ago, Wallis shook his head violently when a doctor told the family that medical bills were running about $125,000 — as if to say the price was not acceptable, said his father, Jerry Wallis.

Later on, Wallis would react to Chevrolet TV commercials.

"He wouldn't drive a Chevrolet and when the commercials would come on the TV he'd have a fit. He'd shake his head from one side to the other and give some kind of hollering," Jerry Wallis said.


Be a Trans-Fat Detective

Get to the bottom of how much of the hidden, harmful fats lurk in your food.

 

When you think of the "bad fats" -- the ones that can hurt your health -- you probably think of the saturated variety. They are the ones that can raise your levels of bad cholesterol, or LDL, as well as your risks of developing serious conditions like heart disease.

 

Well, you should know that saturated fats have some company in this department: the trans fats.

 

Health-wise, trans fats strike with a double whammy. They too can raise your levels of bad cholesterol, but they also can decrease your HDL, or "good" cholesterol. Together, these two effects are primary risks of developing heart disease, and they are a reason why many experts consider trans fats a bigger bad boy than saturated fat.

 

What are you supposed to do? For starters, lower the amounts of saturated and trans fats in your daily diet. You can do it by choosing reduced-fat foods, like lower-fat dairy and leaner cuts of beef. (They contain less total fat, less saturated fat, and less trans fats.) Reduced-fat crackers and microwave popping corn will contain less total fat, less saturated fat, and less trans fat. You get the picture.

 

And, it may not be a popular notion, but making your own meals -- yes, homemade ones -- really help you control how much fat you eat. You get to choose the type and amount of fat in each recipe you prepare. If you make pie crust, biscuits, or waffles, use canola oil instead of shortening and use less cooking fat, in general, whenever possible. It's those smart substitutions that help a lot.

 

 

Where Trans Fats Lurk
I keep mentioning all these terms like unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats. When you think about types of fats, remember that a lot has to do with the amount of hydrogen in each type of fat molecule.

 

When the molecules are all full of hydrogen -- or are saturated with it -- the fat tends to be solid at room temperature. The monounsaturated fats have one double bond in their carbon chain and polyunsaturated fats have more than one double bond, and both are better for your health than saturated fats and trans fats.

 

But trans fats make things a bit more complicated. They get their name from their distinct chemical structure. They occur naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products. But they can be found in higher quantities in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which are primarily used in shortening, some margarines and processed foods.

 

Remember about that hydrogen. When food manufacturers need a more stable, solid form of oil to make their products, they'll bubble hydrogen gas through vegetable oil. The process actually changes the chemical structure of the fat, turning some of it into trans fats. The oil doesn't take up all the hydrogen to become fully saturated, yet it does become a harmful type of fat.

 

Trans fats are lurking in all commercially made food products containing partially hydrogenated oils or shortening. They also are hiding in frying fats used by many fast food joints. (A 1998 Dutch study estimated that in the frying fat fast food chains use, a third of it is made up of trans fats.)

 

So watch out! These common foods most likely contain trans fats:

 

  • Most Margarines and Shortenings;
  • Frying fats in processed foods;
  • Deep-fried fast food, like french fries;
  • And any food that lists "partially hydrogenated oils" in the ingredients, such as: crackers, cake mixes, snack cakes, snack foods, chips, doughnuts, pie crusts, biscuits, breakfast cereals, frozen waffles, microwave popcorn, packaged cookies, and other baked and fried items.

 

 

The Daily Dose of Trans Fats

How much trans fats do Americans eat on a daily basis? Good question. It's almost impossible to answer accurately because manufacturers are not yet required to list amounts of trans fats on food labels. And when a product does use the harmful fat, there's no standard amount of how much is in there.

 

Use The Clues

Until labels give us trans fat information, be sure to check the ingredient list for the words "partially hydrogenated oil" or "shortening." If they are in the first three ingredients for a particular food product, and the food product contains quite a bit of total fat, chances are there is a fair amount of trans fats in that food.

 

Pay special attention to margarines that list the grams of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat along with the total grams of fat and grams of saturated fat. With this info, you actually can figure out the grams of trans fatty acids by doing a little math:

 

Step 1 -- Add up the grams of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat.

 

Step 2 -- If the number from step 1 is less than the total amount of fat on the label, you can assume the missing grams are trans fats.

 

 

More Reasons to Avoid Trans Fats

 

Trans fats may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. In a 2001 study, researchers found that when women replaced 2% of the trans fats they ate with polyunsaturated fat, they dropped their risk of diabetes by 40%.

 

But for women, the risks don't end there. Trans fats may increase their risk of colon cancer, too.

Researchers suspect that trans fatty acids are carcinogenic, but they need more proof to be sure.

They do know from a recent study that high levels of dietary trans fats doubled the risk of colon cancer in menopausal women not on hormone replacement therapy.

 

Trans fats also have been implicated in developing breast cancer. A Dutch study suggests an association between the amount of trans fat stored in the body and the risks of the disease in women after menopause.

NEWS For Your Well Being

   We will provide you with news and thoughts about

 things and products that can help with your well being.

  Either things you can use or things you should stay

away from.  Where there is power (MONEY), you will

notice that the groups standing to make the most of

the money are the ones who fight the hardest to try

and convince their way is the only way and anything

that might take power (MONEY) away from them has

to be wrong.  We will also present to you things that

these interest groups will fight the most.  Because they

care about the people or because they care about the

money??  There are things that are wrong out there BUT,

because of the power (MONEY) involved you don't hear

about it.  Research and think for yourself for YOUR sake.

We will not include all of an article in most cases because of the space, BUT we

include enough to give you something to think about.  Research and decide for yourself!

There Are No COINCIDENCES
Things That UPSET The Power
WARNING! The reading of some of these articles may cause a rise in blood pressure.

From USA Today

03/16/2004  7D

A rush of testing for mad cow

Since the first U.S. case of mad cow disease was discovered in December in a Washington state dairy cow, consumer advocates and lawmakers have been calling for reforms to the testing system for the fatal brain-wasting disease. pThe U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it will embark on a one-time testing regimen 10 times larger than its previous system. It will focus its efforts on animals considered at high risk, including those that can't walk, cattle with neurological problems and older cattle. pFrom June 2004 to November 2005, the agency will test as many of these cattle as it can. pUSA TODAY's Elizabeth Weise and Anita Manning spoke to public health and agriculture experts about key questions in this complicated food-safety problem:

Q: Why do we care if cattle have mad cow disease?

A: Because cattle that have this degenerative disease of the nervous system, known to scientists as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, can infect people who eat infectious material, specifically the brain, spinal cord or dorsal root ganglia (the nerves that come off the spinal cord).

Q: What is the human form of mad cow disease?

A: It is a variant of an illness called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a brain disorder that seems to strike out of nowhere, causing dementia and death. There are several forms of CJD that sporadically occur at low levels (one in 1 million people) in all populations. But the new variant that emerged in England in the mid-1990s -- about a decade after the first cases in cattle -- is distinctive. It is found more often in young people, has a longer course of illness before death, is specifically linked to the consumption of infected beef and looks different under a microscope. Both classic CJD and the variant, which is called vCJD, are believed by most scientists to be caused by brain proteins called prions that become misshapen.

Q: Can it be cured?

A: There is no known treatment or cure. Patients are given supportive care, but the disease is always fatal. Since 1995, at least 155 cases have been detected.

Q: Are Americans dying of the disease?

A: No. There has been only one positively diagnosed case of vCJD in the USA, and that involved a Florida woman who grew up in the United Kingdom and is presumed to have acquired it there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped to establish the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve University in 1997. It analyzes spinal fluid and brain tissue from suspected cases to monitor for vCJD. As of November, the center had examined tissues from 1,221 suspected cases. Of those, the only confirmed case of vCJD was the Florida woman's. In addition, 586 cases of sporadic CJD were found.

Q: How do cattle get mad cow?

A: By eating other cattle. Because cattle are vegetarians, that doesn't occur naturally. However, cow carcasses -- heat-treated and ground into powder -- were commonly fed to cattle as an inexpensive protein source beginning in the 1980s and ending in the 1990s with the discovery that the practice could spread disease. The United States and Canada banned the practice in 1997.

Q: Are there other ways?

A: Humans, elk, sheep and deer can spontaneously develop this family of diseases, called transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. There's no firm evidence that cattle can, but most scientists believe it's likely. If cattle follow the human model -- a big if -- there could be about 35 spontaneous cases of mad cow a year in the USA.

Q: How did the Washington state cow get mad cow?

A: No one knows for certain. The cow was imported from Canada as a calf. Initially it seemed that she was infected by feed there, especially since a case of mad cow was found in Canada in May. But none of the infected cow's herd mates from Canada has thus far tested positive for mad cow. ''If it was in fact a feed source, we'd expect more than one animal in that group to be infected,'' says Jim Reynolds, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of California. So now some researchers think it might have been a spontaneous case, though they can't say for sure.

Q: How did the U.S. test before this year?

A: USDA's Animal Plant Inspection Service tested about 20,000 cattle in 2002 for mad cow. Because European studies have shown that downer cattle (i.e. cattle that can't walk) have the highest likelihood of having the disease, APHIS concentrated on testing downers and those with obvious neurological problems. Between 5% and 15% of those animals were tested. A smaller number of random tests were done on healthy cattle. The infected cow was believed to be a downer.

Q: Why not test every cow?

A: About 35 million cattle a year are slaughtered in the USA. In epidemiology, the study of diseases as they affect populations, scientists know it's not necessary to test every individual to get a good picture of what's happening in a population. Because the incidence of mad cow is believed to be very low in the USA, many scientists consider the expense of testing every animal a waste of resources.

 

03/15/2004  6D

Polio reappears in countries where it had been eradicated Fears of vaccine hamper efforts in parts of Africa

International health experts, tantalizingly close to global eradication of polio, are struggling to contain the spread of the virus in central and western Africa.

Eight countries where polio had been wiped out have seen the disease resurface, and tests trace the cases -- a total of at least 46 -- back to northern Nigeria. Local leaders in the state of Kano, north of the capital, Abuja, halted immunizations in August, claiming falsely that the vaccine was contaminated and could cause sterility in girls.

Experts at an international conference on infectious diseases in Atlanta this month said they believe Islamic clerics in Kano are trying to encourage public mistrust of the Nigerian government, which supports polio vaccination.

World Islamic leaders are working behind the scenes to break the logjam. The Nigerian government sent the vaccine to South Africa for tests to prove its safety, but the positive results were not accepted by the Kano leaders.

The state then assembled a 23-member team that included Kano Islamic scholars and other authorities to conduct its own inquiry. Results are expected within days, said David Heymann of the World Health Organization, speaking at the Atlanta conference.

Heymann, who returned late last week from Nigeria, said U.N. officials have been working to resolve the differences. ''Problems have not been solved in the north,'' he said Friday by phone from WHO headquarters in Geneva. ''But we're getting closer. There may be something to announce on Tuesday. It won't be the end (of the problem), but it may be progress.''

WHO initially set 2000 as the target for ridding the world of polio. That goal was missed, and WHO moved the deadline to the end of this year.

Despite the setback, Heymann expects the spread of polio to cease in every country by the end of this year or early next year.

The global eradication effort led by WHO, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF has reduced the number of countries where polio circulates from 125 in 1988 to six -- India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Niger and Nigeria -- and brought the number of cases from 1,000 a day to fewer than 800 for all of last year.

Officials in countries where the paralyzing virus still exists should support universal polio immunization, not only to protect their own children from paralysis, Heymann said, but also ''to be good neighbors in a world where national borders do not protect against infectious diseases.''

Once polio is eliminated from a country, immunization rates should remain high to prevent re-introduction of the virus, he said. ''If countries neighboring Nigeria had strong national immunization programs, they would have prevented the importations.''

 

03/08/2004  6D

Latest blow to HRT is taken in stride Doctors say women are more educated about risk, less likely to take hormones

When the government abruptly halted a hormone therapy study in July 2002 because of safety concerns, worried women deluged their doctors with phone calls.

Reaction to last week's news on hormone use has been far more subdued.

Investigators in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) announced that estrogen increases the risk of stroke and might even raise the likelihood of developing dementia, although the hormone had no effect on breast cancer or heart disease.

Many gynecologists around the USA say they have yet to receive a single inquiry.

''It's pretty much been pretty silent,'' says James Liu, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals of Cleveland.

More women are taking the news in stride, doctors say, partly because fewer are taking hormones.

In the nearly two years since the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sponsor of the WHI, announced that estrogen-progestin pills raised the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots and stroke, the number of women taking hormones has dropped by more than 40%, from 15 million to 8.5 million, according to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a leading hormone manufacturer.

Research linking hormone therapy to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease has only given more women reservations. Hormone manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration now advise women to take the lowest doses for the shortest amount of time.

By now, most women who have no severe menopausal symptoms have quit taking hormones, says James Shwayder, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado-Denver.

An article published in Obstetrics and Gynecology in December found that more than half the hormone users surveyed from January to March 2003 had stopped taking the medication. But a quarter of women who quit hormones later resumed therapy, the article said, to relieve drenching hot flashes, disabling fatigue, depression and other menopausal symptoms.

For the most part, women turn to hormones today only if they believe they can't get by without them. Such women are unlikely to be put off by the latest results, Shwayder says.

Joanne Mortimer of Norfolk, Va., stopped taking estrogen last year. She resumed three months later after noticing she ''wasn't as sharp as normal.''

''For me it's about my brain,'' says Mortimer, 51, a doctor who specializes in breast cancer. ''I just didn't feel I functioned as well.''

Many women were not surprised by last week's news. Patients have researched the hormone debate closely in the past year. And doctors such as Isaac Schiff of Boston have spent months counseling patients and preparing them for the fact that estrogen could prove just as troublesome as combination therapy. Women also might feel reassured that estrogen-only supplements apparently pose less danger than they feared, says Schiff, chairman of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' task force on hormone therapy.

Some note that women are not yet able to fully evaluate their individual risks. Researchers are still compiling the study's results, says Marcia Stefanick, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and chairwoman of the steering committee for WHI investigators. Detailed statistics about estrogen's effect on the body will not be ready for several weeks, when they will be published in a medical journal this spring, says Stefanick, who is one of the report's co-authors.

''It is unfortunate that we do not have the actual manuscript with the data analysis to go with this announcement,'' Stefanick says. ''Women are going to have to wait until we can release real results.''

07/21/2003   1B

More job seekers try to hide their ages

The tough job market and rising concerns about age discrimination are prompting graying job seekers to try to mask their ages.

Candidates are omitting dates or work experience from their résumés. Others are taking more drastic steps, such as coloring their hair or getting plastic surgery.

Sixty-three percent of job seekers would leave a date off their résumé to hide their age, according to a survey by online job board HotJobs. Nearly 20% said they would consider plastic surgery to improve job prospects.

One reason for the image concern: Age discrimination cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hit 19,921 last year — a more than 40% jump from 14,141 in 1999.

"They look at those dates and say, 'I've got a dinosaur,' " says Robert Bloomberg, 64, of Jackson, N.J., who cut graduation dates from his résumé to try to land a manufacturing job. "I downgraded my résumé and put in I was a manager as opposed to a vice president."

Job-seeking tactics on the rise:

•Plastic surgery. "They've been laid off for five or six months and want to do this before the next round of interviews," says plastic surgeon Elbert Cheng in California.

More than half of face-lift patients are 51 to 64, says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The number of men seeking procedures to make them look younger also has jumped: More than 130,000 men had Botox treatments in 2002, up 25% from 2001.

Richard Gonzales, 46, had a chin implant and other procedures to help his job search. "You have to look as good as you can," says Gonzales, a budding actor and sports center manager in Cupertino, Calif.

•Résuméfudging. Some career strategists push job applicants to omit dates from résumés. Career coach Kathy Sanborn routinely advises clients to omit graduation dates and list only the last 10 years of their work history.

Those tactics can backfire.

"We are seeing more and more prospective employees trying to hide their ages on résumés," says Scott Testa, chief operating officer at Mindbridge Software. "That's one more reason to delete the résumé from the pile. If they hide that, what else are they hiding?"

•Hair coloring. Sales of Just For Men hair color rose more than 15% in the year ended June 28 vs. two years ago. A Just For Men survey found more than 75% of respondents think looking younger gives them an edge in the job market. "They don't want to be perceived as older," says Wendy Lewis, a New York-based cosmetic surgery consultant and author of The BeautyBattle.

07/16/2003

Surgeon sued for placing screwdriver in spine

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A surgeon accused of inserting a piece of a screwdriver into a Big Island patient's spine, instead of a titanium rod, has been sued for malpractice.

Rosalinda Iturralde, the sister of the patient who died last month, filed suit against Dr. Robert Ricketson Monday in Circuit Court.

It was at least the eighth time Ricketson was sued for malpractice, attorneys said.

According to the suit, when Arturo Iturralde underwent spine surgery on Jan. 29, 2001, Ricketson had already had his medical license suspended in Oklahoma, revoked in Texas and under review in Hawaii.

After surgery had begun, the suit claims, the doctor realized the rod he planned to insert was missing.

Instead of waiting for a supplier to deliver the appropriate device, the plaintiff says Ricketson used a hacksaw to cut a stainless steel screwdriver, then tightened it into place in the patient's spine.

Days later, the screwdriver snapped in half. After surgery on Feb. 5, 2001, to remove the screwdriver, a nurse who discovered it in the operating room trash notified the family, attorneys said.

Iturralde underwent more surgeries, but eventually become a paraplegic.

Rosalinda Iturralde contends her brother died June 18 at age 76 because of complications from the surgery.

It isn't known where Ricketson, 48, now lives, though he applied for a medical license in Kansas late last year. Officials there recommended he withdraw his application and he did. He could not be reached for comment.

The suit claims Ricketson was addicted to painkillers and stole from his patients.

Mark Davis, Iturralde's attorney, said the screwdriver story would never have surfaced if the operating nurse hadn't come forward.

"This doctor had shown previous evidence of drug abuse and incompetence in other states," Davis said. He "should never have been allowed to step foot into an operating room."

1 in 3 Doctors Withhold Info
AMA Ethics Chief: Docs Must Tell Patients of All Treatment Choices

 

WebMD Medical News

July 10, 2003 -- One in three doctors don't tell patients about treatments their insurance doesn't cover.

 

That's a violation of doctors' ethical code, says Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, director of the American Medical Association's Institute for Ethics. He led a team that surveyed 720 U.S. doctors. Their report appears in the July/August issue of Health Affairs.

 

And what they found is troubling:

 

  • 31% of doctors sometimes don't offer useful care to a patient because of health plan rules.
  • Nearly one in 10 doctors say they do this often or very often.
  • 35% of the doctors who say they sometimes withhold information also say they do it more often than they did five years ago.

 

"One of the lessons we should take from this is the importance of doctors being honest with their patients and being open to commitment to the ethics of the profession," Wynia tells WebMD. "Our code of ethics is quite clear. A doctor must talk about all potentially useful services, regardless of whether they are covered by the patient's health plan."

 

It's a matter of respect for the patient and respect for the doctor's profession, says Ken Thorpe, PhD, professor of health policy at Atlanta's Emory University

 

"Of course doctors should tell their patients about all their options -- even if they are more expensive," Thorpe says. "What I find disturbing is, what do these doctors do when they have patients who are not insured? Do they not talk to them at all? A doctor needs to outline the full scope of treatment for a patient. Some of these treatments are fully reimbursed, some not. As long as patients have information on the costs and benefits of their treatment options, they can make their own decisions.

 

Most Information Withheld Doesn't Threaten Patients' Health

 

It's no excuse for violating their own ethical code, but doctors who withhold information often are just trying to help.

 

A common scenario, Wynia says, is a doctor who knows that a patient can get relief from an older drug that's given twice daily or a newer drug that's given once daily. If the doctor knows the new drug is very expensive -- and not covered by the patient's insurance -- he may not tell the patient about the new drug.

 

That's wrong -- but it avoids making patients feel bad about what they can't afford. It also avoids a tense conversation in which the patient may ask the doctor to bend the rules. Doctors know all about this -- they call it "gaming the system" -- and it, too, is unethical and sometimes illegal.

"It seems to me substantially less likely that a doctor would choose not to offer a really important service," Wynia says. "If it is really medically necessary, and you chose not to talk about it, and the patient finds out, you end up with a lawsuit. Nobody wants that. So we are probably talking more about the marginal benefit, where a service provides some utility but is not lifesaving."

 

That's paternalistic, says John D. Banja, PhD, a clinical ethicist at the Emory Center for Ethics in Public Policy and the Professions. Doctors shouldn't presume to know what patients can't afford or don't want to hear, he says. And the least they should do for a patient is the standard of care for their specialty.

 

"A doctor cannot expose a patient to harm, peril, or menace," Banja tells WebMD. "You can't turn your back on patients when they are needy."

 

And Banja makes another point. If treatments are truly needed, insurers are obliged to pay.

 

The Bottom Line: The Doctor-Patient Partnership

 

Wynia says that doctors make a bad choice when they withhold information from patients. But it's not all their fault.

 

"We are talking about a system that is broken," Wynia says. "It is broken when doctors and patients feel disempowered about coverage decisions. When we can't understand these decisions, this means they were made in ways we see as unfair or illegitimate. We need to work hard to make coverage decisions doctors and patients can live with without sacrificing our ethical obligations, our health, and our doctor-patient relationship."

 

For Wynia, that's the bottom line.

 

"The most troubling thing about this is that if someone finds out their doctor did not tell them of something, that can erode trust in their relationship. And that is the last thing we need," he says. "We need doctors and patients to work together, not to be wary of each other."

From USA Today  

07/16/2003  7D

 

Day care raises shy toddlers' levels of stress hormone

Toddlers, particularly shy ones, release significantly more stress hormone at child-care centers than they do at home, spurring the question of whether group day care could affect brain development in timid kids, according to a study out Wednesday.

Shy children had the biggest increases in cortisol, a stress hormone, during their time at day care. Large doses of cortisol shorten the life of brain cells in animals. But there's no solid research on how the modest increases seen in kids at day care might affect their developing brains, says University of Minnesota psychologist Megan Gunnar, the study leader.

Gunnar and co-author Sarah Watamura studied 67 infants and toddlers attending child-care centers full time. Their report is in the journal Child Development.

About 7 out of 10 toddlers — 16 to 38 months old — increased their output of cortisol at child care. On days at home, most didn't have increases in the stress hormone. Infants had similar cortisol output at day care and home, but the older babies began to have rising stress hormones at day care, Gunnar says. Toddlers who played less with other kids and those rated as "socially fearful" by teachers tended to put out the most cortisol.

Cortisol is a "fight or flight" hormone that helps people cope with challenging scenarios, and group day care could be a challenge for timid kids, Gunnar says. "Teachers tend to pay a lot of attention to those who are causing trouble and less attention to the dog that isn't barking, the quieter ones at the fringes," she says.

Older toddlers show smaller increases than the younger ones, "and that's reassuring," says Gunnar, since it suggests kids adapt. Also, there's strong evidence that high-quality day care promotes cognitive development. Other studies find that rises in kids' stress hormones correlate with poor-quality day care, but this study did not consider quality, she says.

Cortisol surges in adults can hinder the immune system, and that might help explain why toddlers in group care are prone to getting colds and viruses, she adds.

One small study on family day care found smaller cortisol rises than at centers. There's no research on nanny care yet, Gunnar says.

The best day-care centers can meet the needs of even timid children, "and we don't know that keeping them home longer with a nanny helps them," says Stanford University psychologist Eleanor Maccoby, an expert on child development.

Still, shy kids might benefit from some home care "if finances allow it," she says. "We know the environment can program the nervous system, and there might be a little risk to putting a very fearful toddler in some child care centers."

The study isn't detailed enough to tell how group care affects health, says University of Pittsburgh psychologist Karen Matthews. "It does suggest there's a group of sensitive kids who find center care overwhelming. We don't know how this care will affect them in the long run."

07/16/2003   6D

Officials brace for new season of West Nile infections

At least four people have fallen ill with West Nile virus infection, federal officials said Tuesday, marking the start of what could be another epidemic year in the USA.

At this time last summer, the same number of people were known to be infected, said Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But what concerns officials is that the number of states reporting the virus in mosquitoes, birds and horses is running ahead of last year's rate.

Thirty-two states have reported West Nile so far, compared to 20 in mid-July 2002. In addition, it has been found in birds in Delaware, state officials there said.

Three people in Texas and one in South Carolina have fallen ill. A fifth person ill with West Nile symptoms, which include fever, severe headache and muscle aches, is being tested in a third unnamed state, Gerberding said.

Last year's epidemic of West Nile, a mosquito-borne virus, was the most severe on record, causing 4,156 serious illnesses and 284 deaths. "The signs all indicate there's reason to anticipate a problem" again this year, she said, but there is "reason to be optimistic" because research on prevention, detection and treatment is moving quickly.

An experimental blood screening test being used by blood banks has already picked up the virus in a donor who had no symptoms of illness, said Food and Drug Administration official Jay Epstein, and the first rapid diagnostic test for West Nile was approved last week. While not conclusive — positive results require more testing to distinguish between West Nile and similar viruses — "its availability is considered a major contribution to the fight against West Nile," Epstein said.

Progress is being made on another front in that battle, said James Meegan of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. An experimental West Nile vaccine appears to be safe and effective in animal tests, and testing in humans may begin by the end of the summer, he said. The vaccine, which is made by mixing West Nile Virus with the vaccine currently used to prevent yellow fever, "looks like our best bet," he said, though other approaches are being investigated.

In addition, Meegan said, researchers have tested about 600 drugs to see if any are effective against West Nile. So far, about 20-30 show signs of promise and are being studied further.

"There is an enormous amount of work going on in this area," said Gerberding, but "for right now, the most important message is that people need to be prepared and take steps necessary to prevent exposure" to mosquitoes and the viruses they may carry.

07/02/2003  6D

Experts can't decide on vitamin guidelines

     There is not enough evidence to advise or discourage the use of vitamin supplements to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, the Preventive Services Task Force says in today's Annals of Internal Medicine.  The government advisory panel considered several dozen studies on vitamins and found that the results were often "inadequate or conflicting."  Past studies have suggested that antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E included, block heart-damaging effects of oxygen on arteries and cell damage that could cause some types of cancer.

07/01/2003   1A

Under fire, food giants switch to healthier fare Kraft sets the pace, launching global overhaul today. With lawsuits looming and parents worrying about obese kids, marketers respond with less-junky snacks in smaller portions.

Junk food's best consumers are kids -- increasingly obese kids.

So that's not the dinner bell you hear. It's an alarm bell raising Oreo-size goose bumps for the giant makers of now-unfashionable sugary, fatty and calorie-laden foods. All are faced with this new reality: As concern about obesity rises, they're within a few cookie crumbs of becoming the next Big Tobacco for trial lawyers.

''You can't stop tobacco from being unhealthy,'' says Sam Hirsch, an attorney whose obese clients filed lawsuits against McDonald's. ''But you can make food less unhealthy.''

Consumer groups are screaming. Parents are steaming. Lawyers are suing. The obese are stewing. Lawmakers are threatening a ''fat tax.'' And some analysts are giving food stocks the ax.

That's why, faster than you can say ''supersize it,'' the nation's food behemoths are responding:

* Kraft Foods, the nation's largest food company, will announce today a sweeping, global overhaul of the way it creates, packages and promotes its foods. Kraft plans to reduce the portion size, fat and calories of many of its foods, a move that other major food companies worldwide are expected to mimic. ''This will force everyone else to review their policies and get on board,'' says Derek Yach, coordinator of diet and physical activity at the powerful World Health Organization.

* McDonald's this summer will test a Happy Meal with an option to replace the wildly popular -- but fat-filled -- french fries with a bag of fresh, sliced fruit.

* Frito-Lay is within weeks of eliminating all artery-clogging trans fatty acids from its chips and snacks. And the CEO of its parent company, PepsiCo, has vowed that at least half of its new foods and beverages will be aimed at nutrition-conscious consumers.

* Kellogg recently bought Kashi, whose cereals have no highly refined sugars or preservatives.

Analysts say the food giants haven't suddenly become food pyramid angels looking out for the nutritional well-being of America's youth. Rather, they're increasingly concerned about lawsuits, legislation and profits.

''This issue isn't going away,'' says Caroline Levy, consumer group director at UBS, which issued a report warning why many food stocks could be hit hard. ''It puts at risk companies that make unhealthy foods.''

That's most foodmakers.

''The bottom line for the food industry is money,'' says William Sears, author of two books on kids and nutrition. Few products are cheaper to dump into food than sugar, so many foodmakers pour in lots, he says. ''What motivates the food industry and health-minded mothers is worlds apart.''

Not so, says Betsy Holden, co-CEO of Kraft Foods. ''We're a company focused on doing what's right,'' she says. ''As a mother and a former teacher, I believe one of the most important things we can do is to educate people about eating and living better.''

Looking to stay out of court

It's no longer socially acceptable for food giants to blatantly target kids with junky foods. Just about anyone who markets food to kids is rethinking what they make and how they package and promote it.

''Every major foodmaker is terrified about lawsuits,'' says Marion Nestle, nutrition department chair at New York University. ''All big food companies are re-examining their product lines -- and how they market them.''

Big Food senses Big Trouble. Americans will spend just under $1 trillion on food this year, and foodmakers can no longer sit idly hoping the wave of concern is just a temporary case of indigestion cooked up by the media.

Some school lunch programs are eliminating the junkiest foods. Consumer groups are proposing a ''fat tax'' on some junk foods -- and even nutritional ''warnings'' on product packaging. Some legislatures have discussed requiring fast-food makers to post calories and fat on their menu boards. And lawsuits are being filed by folks who accuse the food kingpins of helping make children obese.

Perhaps no one scares the fast-foodies more than John Banzhaf. He's best known for spearheading billion-dollar victories over the tobacco industry and is widely credited for the removal of cigarette commercials from television. Now the professor of public interest at George Washington University is taking aim at food.

As a prelude to a lawsuit, Banzhaf recently sent fast-food executives a letter demanding they display restaurant signs warning that fatty foods are addictive. ''I don't expect they'll do it,'' he says. ''But we have to start somewhere.''

More overweight children

The food giants all know what that means: They must square the foods they target at kids with statistics on how fat the kids are getting. There are twice as many overweight children and three times as many overweight adolescents as in 1980, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jennifer Beaton only wishes her daughter, Katherine, 10, could drop fatty, salty snacks. Katherine adores Doritos chips and McDonald's fries.

When the Westlake, Ohio, mom noticed Katherine putting on weight, she ceased the weekly Friday afternoon trips to McDonald's for large fries and a soft drink. And she began to remind her daughter how fattening the chips could be. Katherine has lost weight since then, but it hasn't been easy.

''How do you fight with these companies?'' asks Beaton. ''Maybe they just don't realize how frustrated parents are.''

Not everyone, however, blames the food giants.

''It's fun and easy to blame all this on supersized meals and too many vending machines,'' says Robyn Flipse, a registered dietitian and author. ''But one of the most important things a parent can do for a child is to give them a concept of how to eat well.''

Even some parents agree the food buck stops with them.

''The foodmakers are in business to make money -- and to do that, they've got to target kids,'' says Kerrie Mae Mitchell, an Olney, Md., mother of an 11-year-old son. ''A parent's job is to redirect.''

But some food giants -- motivated by the bottom line -- are starting to redirect themselves.

Foodmakers' game plan

* Kraft. The food kingpin is forming a global advisory panel of nutritionists and other outsiders who over the next year will change the way Kraft makes, packages and promotes its food.

A cap -- to be determined -- will be placed on the portion size of all single-serve products. Many products will have calories and fat reduced. Kraft will eliminate all in-school marketing and drop some products -- perhaps sugary cookies -- from school vending machines.

''We're making these commitments because we think it's the right thing to do for the people who use our products -- and the right thing to do for our business,'' says Michael Mudd, senior vice president at Kraft. ''Sometimes, the right thing to do is also the smart thing to do.''

Kraft's highly profitable Lunchables meal kits, which typically contain crackers, processed meat and cheese, fruit punch and candy, have long been criticized by nutritionists.

In response, Kraft recently added the Lunchables Fun Fuel line that the company claims has more nutritious products -- including yogurt (replacing a candy bar) and 100% fruit juice (replacing fruit punch). The new lunch kit replaces the ham, cheese and crackers with such items as chicken and cheese wrapped in pita bread.

And, following a lawsuit over the trans fatty acids in its Oreo cookies, Kraft is on a mission to eliminate -- or greatly reduce -- trans fat in all of its cookies and crackers.

* McDonald's. For McDonald's, the upcoming Happy Meal fruit test may be just the beginning. The test will also give consumers an option to substitute 100% juice for soft drinks. Industry consultants also expect McDonald's to eventually offer fresh vegetables -- such as bagged carrots -- as an option for kids.

''If healthy lifestyles are becoming more important to our customers,'' says CEO Jim Cantalupo, ''we want to play a leadership role.''

But critics wonder: What took so long?

Even as McDonald's recently introduced a much-advertised entrée salad line that targets adults, critics wonder when McDonald's will pump as much promotional money into new, kid-friendly products that also are more nutritious.

''McDonald's has spent billions of dollars to convince kids that somebody at McDonald's loves them,'' says Hirsch, the attorney. ''But the food is downright unhealthy if consumed on a regular basis.''

McDonald's and healthy lifestyles

McDonald's is feeling the pressure. About three months ago, McDonald's named its first-ever corporate vice president of healthy lifestyles. And within the past few months, it overhauled its Web site to include an interactive section dubbed Bag A McMeal. It allows consumers to find out the precise amount of calories, fat and sodium in every meal option available.

''We see in our research that this is becoming more important to consumers,'' says Ken Barun, corporate vice president of healthy lifestyles. ''Moms want to provide healthy options for their kids.''

* Frito-Lay. For a company that has built its snacking empire on chips fried in oil, Frito-Lay would seem to have the toughest nutritional nut to crack.

Perhaps no Frito-Lay product is more kid-targeted than its puffed, orange-colored Cheetos. Earlier this year, the company introduced Reduced Fat Cheetos.

The new line has about half the fat of regular Cheetos and about half the unsaturated fat. Even the sodium was reduced to 210 milligrams per serving from 290.

The company has spent big promotional dollars to convince school cafeteria managers that these new Cheetos are the real nutritional deal. It even sent thousands of videotapes on which PepsiCo CEO Steven Reinemund says the unthinkable: ''Overindulgence in any of our products is not something we encourage or recommend.''

What's behind all this?

''We read the papers,'' says Rocco Papalia, senior vice president of technology at Frito-Lay. He's in charge of all new product development. So, it's no accident that Frito-Lay also plans to eliminate artery-clogging trans fatty acids from all of its products by the end of September. But none of this comes easy -- nor is it easy to sell.

''It's difficult to get kids to eat something they don't want,'' says Papalia. ''It doesn't do any good to reduce calories, fat or sodium on something nobody wants.''

* Kellogg. Even the maker of Froot Loops says it's serious about kids' nutrition. Never mind that two of its newest cereals -- Disney's Mud & Bugs and Tony's Cinnamon Krunchers -- are heavy on sugar.

Earlier this year, Kellogg introduced Froot Loops & Milk Bars, a snack bar with dehydrated milk. ''Too many kids are skipping breakfast,'' says Donna Banks, senior vice president of research, quality and technology at Kellogg. ''This way, they get the nutrition of milk and cereal right inside the bar.''

Kellogg purchased Kashi, an organic cereal line, for $30 million two years ago. Industry executives say Kellogg executives are studying the line to figure out ways to put some of its nutritious elements into future products.

How much sugar is too much? ''We do a lot of consumer testing,'' says Banks. ''We put as little sugar in as we can to make it acceptable.

06/16/2003    6D

Flawed gene linked to manic-depression

     A flawed gene that appears to promote manic-depression, or bipolar disorder, has been identified by scientists.  Manic-depression, which effects about 2.3 million American adults, involves episodes of depression and mania.

Gag order: No over-the-counter ipecac

     Food and Drug Administration advisers on Thursday narrowly voted that ipecac syrup should not be available over-the-counter.  Since 1965, doctors have advised parents to keep a bottle of the syrup in their medicine cabinets to make their children vomit if they swallow some poisonous liquid.  In the past few years, though, experts have concluded that children given ipecac syrup to treat poisoning do no better than those who don't take it.  The FDA advisory panel voted 6-4 to recommend that ipecac syrup not be available without a prescription.

One-third of Americans born in 2000 will get diabetes

Minorities face even greater risk, new study finds

     A third of the people born in the USA in 2000, and more than half of Hispanic woman, will develop diabetes, says the first study to estimate lifetime risk of the disease.

     An estimated 17 million Americans have diabetes.  It is a leading cause of heart and kidney diseases, limb amputation and blindness.

     The study did not differentiate between type 2 diabetes, which accounts for more than 90% of cases, and the rarer type 1, an autoimmune disease that effects about 1 million Americans.  In type 1, the body destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, Type 2 results from the body's inability to use insulin efficiently.

 06/10/2003   1A

Consumers may have a beef with cattle feed 'Mad cow' fears bring scrutiny on what the government lets cows eat

If you don't finish your steak at a restaurant, did you know the leftovers might be dinner for a cow? Or that calves, instead of drinking their mothers' milk, are fed formula made from cows' blood?

These practices, all perfectly legal, have come to light with the discovery last month of North America's first homegrown case of ''mad cow'' disease.

Rocked by the specter of spreading infection on the continent, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture have turned their attention to ways of keeping deadly agents that spread the disease out of cattle and cattle feed.

But opening this delicate topic could have unappetizing consequences for consumers who rarely think about what those sizzling steaks and burgers went through on the way from feedlot to backyard grill. When they do, they might not want to pay higher prices to change the system.

Americans have a bucolic image of cows happily chomping grass in fields. Many don't know that modern animal husbandry practices have provided cheap, plentiful meat through such standard practices as feeding cattle not only pieces of their herd mates (before the practice was banned in 1997) but also chicken litter, leftover restaurant food and out-of-date pet food.

Cleaning up this act could be costly, and Americans demand cheap meat, says Janice Swanson, an animal behavior specialist who studies cattle at Kansas State University.

''The consuming public needs to understand that it's not just the fault of the producers. The pressure on them is to produce a product that's so cheap that they have to capture every possible efficiency,'' Swanson says. ''The average consumer doesn't care, and they're not going to pay one penny more.''

For now, that choice seems far away. Authorities have found ''mad cow'' disease in only a single cow in Canada, although it was reported Wednesday that five steers that once were part of that cow's herd had been shipped to Montana and later sent to slaughter. Officials caution that there's no reason to believe the bulls were infected because all other animals from that herd have tested negative.

Even so, the authorities have taken no chances: The United States closed the border to Canadian cattle and beef products after the discovery, and teams of USDA and FDA investigators descended on Canada and Montana.

Government reaction

Even if this case is contained, authorities want to head off disaster. Scientists know there's only one way a cow -- a natural herbivore -- can get bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, the brain-wasting disease that in its human form has killed at least 150 people worldwide since 1996 and devastated the British beef industry. It has to be given feed by its human handlers that contains infected animal byproducts. In short, someone has to feed it ground-up cow.

The FDA tests 600 domestic and 600 import feed samples a year for prohibited materials, which include ground-up ruminants -- animals that chew their cud such as cows, sheep and goats -- in cow feed. Consumer groups say this is woefully inadequate.

On Nov. 6, the FDA published an ''advance notice of proposed rulemaking,'' federal-speak indicating that the agency might change meat industry regulations. The FDA notice was couched as the beginning of a discussion on whether it was even necessary to change the rules on cattle feeding practices.

The leisurely nature of this discussion is gone. Industry leaders agree current U.S. rules on the feeding of cattle -- the mostly likely source of the infection in Canada -- will undergo a major overhaul, though no one can say when.

''Before this thing in Canada happened, I really doubted there would be much change,'' says Rex Runyon of the American Feed Industry Association. ''But now . . . it's going to happen; they're going to make some changes.''

The five areas of discussion the FDA delineated in its November notice include:

* Excluding brain and spinal cord from animal byproducts. Before the outbreak of mad cow in Britain, cows were given feed that included the ground-up remnants of cows. The most dangerous of these byproducts are the brains and spinal cords, the tissues that harbor the most infectious agents. Mad cow is caused by prions, proteins that for unknown reasons fold into the wrong shape and wreak havoc.

As for using the parts of animals that we don't consume, the rendering industry was considered an ecological success until mad cow, says Will Hueston, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Animal Health and Food Safety and a BSE expert.

''You were cooking the material, reducing the bulk, extracting the fat which could be used in soaps, candles, fuels and a whole range of industrial uses, and the rendered protein material turned out to be a great protein supplement. It looked like a win-win situation,'' Hueston says. ''And remember that prior to BSE, everyone believed that the high-temperature cooking in rendering kills all the disease organisms.''

What happened in Britain in the late 1980s was a cycle of infection in which a sick animal's parts went into the feed and infected more animals. Britain eventually banned the feeding of meat and bone meal to animals, which stopped the disease in its tracks.

In response to the outbreak in Britain and other European countries, the United States and Canada in 1997 made it illegal to feed cows meat and bone meal made from ruminants. The feed bans in both countries do allow use of that feed for poultry and pigs.

But the larger concern since the inception of that ban has been that there were too many loopholes, too many ways for material that can transmit mad cow to get to cows and then possibly to humans.

The crisis ''calls for some pretty drastic measures if we're going to try to ensure the safety of the beef industry,'' says Larry Hollis, an extension veterinarian at Kansas State University. To him, and to many in the industry, a total ban keeping all mammal by-products out of animal feed might be the only way to protect consumers. ''Some people are so hung up on low-cost production that they will violate whatever rules are there,'' Hollis says. ''Unless we keep it out of the feed stream for any purpose, we could have trouble.''

Says John Stauber, author of Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?: ''What we need to do is obvious but economically painful for the livestock industry. That's to implement exactly the same regulations that exist in Britain and Europe and ban all feeding of slaughterhouse waste to livestock.''

New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle, author of Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology and Bioterrorism, says: ''There are lots of reasons why cannibalism isn't a good idea. This is a real wake-up call about the way we've been feeding animals.''

* The use of poultry litter in cattle feed. In parts of the country where cattle are raised near poultry production areas, it's not uncommon to feed them poultry litter -- basically excreta, bedding, spilled feed and feathers. This practice is not allowed in Canada.

Chickens can't get any diseases similar to mad cow, so they can legally be fed meat and bone meal made from cattle. But there is concern that spilled feed as well as partially digested feed might end up back in cattle troughs, resulting in the same potential cycle of infection that caused the British outbreak of mad cow.

''It's gross,'' says Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. ''Until BSE, this was this hidden issue of what the animals were eating.''

But it makes sense from a nutrition stance, says Neil Lamming, a BSE educator with the Washington state Department of Agriculture. Cows have four stomachs that can digest this material and extract nutrients in a way that animals with one stomach cannot.

Because Washington isn't a major poultry producing state, the practice isn't common there. But Ali Kashani, who manages the state's feed program, acknowledges that there's a public relations problem. ''The main reason it's not so widespread is because of consumer reaction to it.'' Kashani says.

* Eliminating the restaurant-plate waste exemption to the feed ban. The 1997 law that banned most mammalian remains from cattle feed has an interesting provision that clears a path from cuisine to cow. The ''plate waste'' exemption allows restaurants to sell plate scrapings and leftovers to renderers, which turn them into cattle feed, among other things.

The American Feed Industry Association's Runyon defends the exemption: ''How can you tell the consumer 'Hey, you've just eaten a T-bone steak and it's fine for you, but you can't feed it to animals'? ''

* The use of pet food in ruminant feed. Retail pet food frequently contains ruminant meat and bone meal, but unlike agricultural animal feed, there's no requirement that it be labeled ''Do not feed to cattle or other ruminants.'' However, out-of-date dry cat and dog food is sometimes sold as salvage and ends up being fed to cattle. The FDA is wondering whether all pet food should be labeled, just in case.

* Preventing cross-contamination of feed. A Government Accounting Office report found that at rendering and feed plants where both ruminant and non-ruminant meat and bone meal were made, cross-contamination could occur. FDA is considering whether it should require that rendering and feed plants be allowed to do only one or the other, but not both, to guard against cross-contamination.

It's in the blood

Spray-dried cow and pig blood is used in feed to provide protein, as a soluble product to mix in animals' drinking water and, most commonly, as a milk replacement for calves. Blood serum is especially effective as a supplement for calves that are removed from their mothers at less than 24 hours after birth.

Though scientists have been able to transmit the sheep version of mad cow via blood, no one has been able to do it in cattle.

But Stauber, author of the Mad Cow book, finds it laughable that while U.S. regulatory agencies are cautious enough about the human blood supply that they don't allow anyone who lived in Britain in the 1980s to donate blood, they feed cow blood to cows every day and then allow them to be eaten. ''The question is whether it can be transmitted by oral feeding. But those experiments involve years, if not decades,'' he says. ''We have to err on the side of caution.''

What's ahead?

In the end, some change is likely, whether from scientific, practical or political necessity.

''I believe there's always going to be folks out there who are maybe going to be trying to cut corners and get ahead of the game,'' says Shane Sklar, executive director of the Independent Cattleman's Association of Texas. ''But we can't risk the entire United States beef industry on a few bad apples that are toying around with trying to make a quick dollar.''

But Mad Cow author Stauber, who has followed the disease for more than a decade, says he'll believe in the reforms when he sees them. ''Every time there's media attention to this issue, every time consumer and producers start asking questions, we get this lip service out of USDA and FDA that 'Yes, we need to do the right thing; it's just going to take time.' But they're just not ready to bite the bullet -- it's too economically painful for the livestock feed industry.''

From Reuters   Chicago, June 11, 2003

U.S. Health Authorities Wednesday Recommended Smallpox Vaccinations for anyone exposed to "Monkey Pox" either from infected pets or from the roughly 63 human cases, all but one in the midwest. The U.S. government also banned the importation or trade of African rodents, including Gambian rats believed to be the original source of the smallpox-like illness previously unseen in the Western Hemisphere, said David Fleming, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
       ''I'm confident that everything that can be done is being done to prevent the spread of this virus,'' Fleming told reporters, citing efforts to track down and euthanize infected animals.
       A similar ban was placed on the sale and transportation of prairie dogs, a rodent native to the U.S. Great Plains, that the African rats are believed to have infected and which in turn transmitted the virus to humans through bites or scratches.
       The source of the illness was believed to be a shipment of Gambian rats from Africa to Texas that later infected captured prairie dogs. Both species are part of a growing trade in so-called exotic pets through networks that health authorities have found difficult to track down.
       Some infected animals were sold to an Illinois distributor, and the virus has been spread to pet shops, pet brokers and pet owners via formal and informal sales in Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. The affected states quickly declared bans on trade in one or both of the species.

SEVERAL STATES AFFECTED
       State health departments have reported 29 confirmed or suspected human cases in Indiana, 21 in Wisconsin, 12 in Illinois and one sickened boy in New Jersey who apparently contracted the illness on a recent visit to the Midwest.
       There is no treatment for monkeypox, which usually runs its course within two weeks after causing flu-like symptoms and pus-filled blisters on the body. There has been no evidence to date of human-to-human transmission in the United States, although it does occur in Africa.
       ''The current outbreak of monkeypox in humans has the potential to pose a threat to public health in the United States,'' Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said.
       While monkeypox is not as harmful as smallpox, authorities fear a sickened animal, which displays cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose and eyes plus a rash, might escape or be discarded into the wild and spread the virus to squirrels or other species. One pet rabbit exposed to a prairie dog was infected.
       The smallpox vaccine has been found to be roughly 85 percent effective in warding off monkeypox in humans, which kills between 1 percent and 10 percent of its victims in the rain forests of central and western Africa, Fleming said.
       The CDC recommended that local public health authorities vaccinate health investigators, veterinary staff, relatives of monkeypox victims, and others who believed they were exposed to the virus as long as two weeks ago.
       ''We need to be prepared for the fact that monkeypox can be a fatal disease,'' Fleming said. ''We are recommending smallpox vaccine for a limited number of people -- we feel the risk is sufficient to warrant recommending it, (even) for pregnant women and children.''
       The vaccine, which has been stockpiled in recent months because of a perceived bioterror threat, is potentially dangerous for some recipients -- a few people in every million can be expected to die from the vaccine. The recent limited vaccination program has produced some unforeseen side effects, including 21 people who have suffered inflammation of the heart or a membrane around the heart.

From USA Today 

06/11/2003 

U.S. bans prairie dog sales in bid to stop monkeypox

ATLANTA (AP) — The U.S. government banned the sale of prairie dogs, prohibited the importation of African rodents and recommended smallpox shots Wednesday for people exposed to monkeypox, the exotic African disease that has spread from pet prairie dogs to humans.

The smallpox vaccine can prevent monkeypox up to two weeks after exposure to the virus, but is most effective in the first four days.

"We're optimistic we can deliver the vaccine to these people in time to do good," said Dr. David Fleming, deputy director for Public Health and Science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The government's aggressive response to the disease came the same day that the federal investigation of the monkeypox outbreak was expanded to eight more states, bringing the total to 15.

This is the first outbreak of monkeypox in the Western Hemisphere.

"We must do everything we can to protect persons who are exposed to monkeypox in the course of investigating or responding to the outbreak," CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding said.

Fleming said he is confident the disease will be controlled.

"Monkeypox is a disease that is potentially transmissible from person to person but at a fairly low level," he said. "I don't anticipate the same kind of problem that we anticipate from SARS."

The Department of Agriculture will be in charge of enforcing the prairie dog ban, which also prohibits transporting the animals. Gambian rats and five other types of large African rodents were banned because a Gambian rat is believed to have spread the virus to prairie dogs, which are actually rodents and are native to the American Plains.

Fleming said the smallpox vaccine is 85% effective against monkeypox. The smallpox vaccine is widely available because states stocked up on it out of fear of bioterrorism. More than 37,000 health workers in the United States have been vaccinated as a result.

"State health departments have been actively involved in planning and preparing for the possibility of a bioterrorist event," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said. "We are now seeing that this level of preparation can also assist in unexpected, natural outbreaks."

The CDC said health care workers, veterinarians and family members who have cared for or had close contact with infected people or animals should get vaccinations. The agency also warned veterinarians and doctors to be on the lookout for the symptoms, especially in owners of prairie dogs or exotic rodents from Africa.

CDC officials didn't know how many people would have to be vaccinated, but Fleming said he expected the number to be modest.

About 40 out of every million people vaccinated for the first time will face a life-threatening injury, and one or two will die.

Still, the CDC is recommending even pregnant women, children and people with eczema — for whom the vaccine is not recommended — who have been exposed to infected prairie dogs get the vaccine.

"Because of the real risk here ... we're recommending a somewhat aggressive approach of who should get the vaccine," Fleming said.

Monkeypox-infected prairie dogs distributed from Phil's Pocket Pets of Villa Park, Ill., may have been sold to numerous buyers in 15 states since April 15, according to a Department of Agriculture emergency warning issued Wednesday.

The states where possibly infected prairie dogs were being sought were Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio and South Carolina.

Later Wednesday, health officials in Mississippi said they had ruled out a possible threat, saying two animals shipped to the state from the Illinois pet shop turned out to be a pair of healthy flying squirrels.

As of Wednesday, health officials had confirmed a total of nine human cases of the disease — four in Wisconsin, four in Indiana and one in Illinois. Fifty-four possible cases had been reported — 25 in Indiana, 17 in Wisconsin, 11 in Illinois and one in New Jersey, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said.

No one has died of the disease.

Monkeypox, which produces pus-filled blisters, fever, rash, chills and aches, is a milder relative of smallpox. It has a mortality rate of 1% to 10% in Africa, but U.S. officials believe better nutrition and medical treatment here probably will prevent deaths.

Investigators are seeking people who have bought or swapped exotic pets distributed since April by Pocket Pets, where a shipment of prairie dogs is believed to have been infected by a Gambian giant rat imported from Africa.

Peter Jahrling, scientific adviser at the Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, said exotic animals may in the future have to be put in quarantine and examined thoroughly for diseases. That has worked for imports of primates, which spread yellow fever in the 1930s and suffered from Ebola in 1989.

From USA Today

06/10/2003   3A

Vaccines considered in monkeypox scare

The number of people in the Midwest possibly infected with monkeypox, a close relative of smallpox, jumped Monday to at least 34. Health officials are considering whether to recommend smallpox vaccination for people who may have been exposed to infected prairie dogs and other exotic pets.

Monkeypox is not as severe or as contagious as smallpox, but experts admit they don't know how it would behave if it spread widely here because no one has seen a case in the USA until now.

Fearing that the rare African virus could spread to wild animal populations, health and agriculture officials in the three affected states -- Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois -- are tracking down prairie dogs, Gambian giant rats and other exotic animals that may be infected. They are urging pet owners to notify health officials if they have sick animals.

The outbreak came to light after several people involved in the sale or purchase of prairie dogs from a Milwaukee animal distributor fell ill. The Wisconsin dealer bought the prairie dogs and a Gambian giant rat, which was sick at the time of sale, from an Illinois distributor in mid-April. Since then, the animals have been sold at pet stores and at ''swap meets,'' gatherings where animals are traded and sold.

''At this point, we don't know how many animals are involved, and we don't know the scope of the problem in terms of affected areas,'' said Stephen Ostroff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said six people are hospitalized with symptoms that include fever, pustular rash and cough; none is gravely ill. All those affected had direct contact with sick prairie dogs or, in one case, a sick rabbit that had been exposed to an ill prairie dog.

The worry now, said infectious disease specialist Kurt Reed of the Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic, is keeping the virus from spreading to squirrels, mice or other local animals. ''Everyone hopes this is a one-shot deal for the history books, but look what happened with West Nile virus.'' West Nile emerged in 1999 in New York City and has spread nationwide and into Canada.

From USA Today

06/05/2003  3A

Montana investigates mad cow link

Bulls bought from Canada may have been in tainted herd

   The mad cow investigation crossed into the USA on Wednesday with the announcement that five bulls believed to be herd-mates of Canada's single infected cow were sold to a Montana rancher in 1997.

   It's likely that the bulls were slaughtered before this year and entered the U.S. food supply.  But experts caution that there's no reason to panic.  Representatives of U.S. and Montana government agencies say American beef eaters are not at risk from the fatal brain-wasting disease.

     No quarantines are planned, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Argiculture and the Montana Department of Livestock are investigating.

     The yearling bulls were born in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan in 1996.  Their herd is one of 18 Canada has quarantined because the cow diagnosed with the disease or her offspring spent time in it.  The sick cow was killed in January, but the test results showed last month that she was infected.

     The bulls came to the USA in April 1997, the FDA's Lester Crawford said in a telephone news conference with Canadian officials Wednesday.  Although U.S. officials don't know what happened to those five, brand inspection records show that 11 bulls from that ranch were sold to three stockyards from 1999 to 2002: one in Montana and two in South Dakota.  It is believed the five Canadian bulls were among them.

     Montana officials say there's no reason to believe the animals were not slaughtered and sold as meat, but their investigation is not yet complete.  Officials in both countries believe the probable source of infection in the Canadian cow was feed tht included ground-up cattle infected with the disease that scientists call bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).  Both Canada and the United States banned the use of bovine meat and bone meal in cattle feed in 1997.

     Because the disease is not transmitted merely by proximity, the biggest danger of infection to other cattle, including the five bulls, would have been eating the same tainted feed.

05/27/2003  6D

FDA cites lack of post-marketing research

     Drug companies win approval to sell drugs by promising to  conduct post-marketing research, but more than half of such reaearch has yet to begin, the Food and Drug Administration reports.  Post-marketing research can be crucial for tracking side effects and, in the case of fast-track drugs to treat life-threatening diseases, for proving that a medicine that alleviates symptoms also lengthens lives.  On Thursday, the FDA said 60% of 1,339 promised post-marketing studies of drugs had not begun, nor had 30% of 223 promised studies of biological therapies.

05/27/2003  3A

Pet food recalled as mad cow precaution

     A pet food company asked for customers to return dog food that may have come from a Canadian cow that tested positive for mad cow disease, the Food and Drug Administration said.  Pet Pantry International of Carson City, Nev., said customers should search for two products: "Maintenance Diet" with a "use by date of "17FEB04" and "Beef with Barley" with a date of "05MAR04."  There is no known risk to dogs and no evidence that dogs could transmit the disease to humans, the FDA said.  The voluntary return is to prevent discarded dog food from getting mixed with feed for cattle, goats or sheep.  The Canadian governmen talready has prevented meat for the single diseased cow to be processed for hman food.

05/21/2003  7D

Study: Smallpox immunity remains in body for years after vaccination

     People vaccinated against smallpox as long as 75 years ago may still retain some immunity to the disease, a new study finds.  That means as many as 150 million Americans could already be significantly protected , researchers say.

     Antibodies to vaccinia, the live virus used in the smallpox vacine, were present in more than 90% of the 306 people tested, and remained fairly constant whether the participants were vaccinated a year ago or as far back as 1928, says researcher Mark K. Slifka of the Oregon Health and Science University.  "From one to 75 years out, the levels were in the same range," he says.

05/20/2003   9D

Group seeks warning against overheating non-stick cookware

     An environmental group has asked the Consumer Product Safety commission to require warnings on non-stick cookware informing consumers of the hazards they pose to pet birds, and potentially humans, when overheated.

    Veterinarians have long known that overheatin non-stick cookware produces toxins that can kill birds.  The syndrome is so well documented that it is included in the standard veterinary text on the subject, Avian Medicine: Principles and Applications.

     "It's almost like a bomb blast - the birds that are further away from the kitchen will show fewer signs, while the birds coser will die," says Darrel Styles, an avian veterinarian at Texas A&M University.  Exposure to the fumes causes the bird's lungs to fill with fluid and can cause deathe within minutes, Styles says.

     The Washington, D.C. - based Environmental Working Group would like that knowledge to be more widespread, especially because in people, breathing such fumes can result in what's know as "polymer fume fever," a short illness that mimics the flu with fever, chills, shivering, chest discomfort, cough and sore thorat.

     "We recommend cooking using coated non-stick cookware at low to medium heat," Dupont's Rich Angiullo says, "We know (our product) can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees F, wll above any of the recommended temperatures for frying or baking."  Dupont manufactures Teflon, the most popular non-stick coating.

     But Recommendations and reality don't always coincide, says Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook.  "We're still searching for the person who has never left a pan on a stovetop and had it get real hot."

     In fact, a 1982 paper published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research by R.E. Wells of Michigan State university finds that non-stick cookware begins to break down at 536 degrees.

     "Such temperatures are generally not reached in routine kitchen use, but can be reached in a few minutes when such cookware, if dry, were inadvertently exposed to domestic heat sources," Wells wrote.

     Engineers with Underwriters Laboratories say that all UL-certified electric ranges should bring a pan to 475 degrees when the knob is turned to two-thirds high, and that the maximun heat would probably exceed 600-650 degrees.

     A test done last week by the Environmental Working Group found that a cold non-stick pan placed on a cold burner that was then turned on high reached 736 degrees in three minutes and 20 seconds.  Another reached 721 degrees in five minutes.

     While this isn't rocket science,  the environmental group believes it's close to the experience of millions who've put a pan on the stove and then run to answer the phone or the door "for just a second."

     "Dupont is telling it's customers that only under extreme cases of misuse will this stuff (give off) toxic particles and fumes," Cook says.  "That's not extreme misuse," he says.  "That's use."

     Polytetrafluorothylene, the material in non-stick coatings, is in cookware, irons, pans, skillets, waffle makers, woks, ovens, bread makers, electric heaters, heat lamps, printers, and light bulbs.

05/13/2003  8D

Lawsuit targets Oreos for trans fat

    A public-interest lawyer has sued Nabisco, seeking a ban on Oreos because of dangerous fats.  The lawsut, which was filed May 1 in Marin county, Calif., superior court, seeks a ban on the cookies because it says the trans fats that make the filling creamy and the cookie crisp are too dangerous for children.  Stephen Joseph, head of BanTransFats.com Inc., says he has targeted Nabisco because other major snack food makers have reduced the amount of trans fats in their products but Nabisco has not.  Nabisco has been exploring  ways to reduce trans fats in Oreos, company spokesman Michael Mudd says.  He also pointed out that the reduced-fat Oreos have half the trans fats as the regular cookies.  The National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine, which advises the government on health policy, said last summer that this kind of fat should not be consumed at all.  It is directly associated with heart disease and with LDL cholesterol, the "bad" kind that accumulates in arteries. 

02/13/2003   10D

Monkey deaths cast doubt on AIDS vaccine

   The death of three monkeys in an AIDS vaccine experiment suggests that a closely watched therapy may not give total protection.  For several years, researchers have concentrated on creating vaccines that hold HIV in check.  Much of the enthusiasm for this approach comes from experiments on monkeys, which appear to survive for years with these vaccines ever after being injected with the monkey form of HIV.  At a conference Wednesday, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston reported that monkeys eventually appear to fall sick and die, even after showing promising resistance.  "This suggests that viral escape will prove to be a challenge," Boston researcher Daniel Barouch said at the 10th Conference on Retroviruses in Boston.

02/12/2003   7A

Illness spreads panic in southern China

   Residents of southern China stocked up on medicine and wore surgical masks on the streets after an unidentified illness killed at least five people and left hundreds hospitalized.  Authorities in Guangdong province, near hong Kong, said the "atypical pneumonia" had infected more than 300 people.  Officials said plague and anthrax had been ruled out.

02/10-2003   7A

Chinese democracy activist gets life term

   A chinese court convicted a U.S.-based democracy activist of spying and terrorism today and sentenced him to life in prison, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.  Wang Bingzhang, 55, was arrested after police said they found him tied up in a temple July 3.  Activists suggested that Chinese agents in Vietnam had abducted him after he secretly met with Chinese labor leaders in Hanoi.

   The Free China Movement, an activist group in Washington, said Want is innocent.  It appealed for the U.S. government to win Wang's release.  The U.S. Embassy in Beijing had no comment.  Want, a Chinese citizen, has permanent resident status in the USA.

02/10/2003   6D

Hormone may prevent premature births

   The hormone progesterone can help prevent pemature births in a high number of high-risk pregnancies, researchers say in a groundbreaking study.  Progesterone is naturally produced by the ovaries, and it softens the uterus lining to hold a fertilized egg.

02/07/2003   4A

Obesity rate could reach nearly 40% in five years

Reports address U.S. epidemic among adults, causes, treatments

   Nearly four out of 10 adults in the USA will be obese within five years if people keep packing on pounds at the current rate - putting their health at risk, says one of the top obesity researchers.

   Currently, about 31%, or about 59 million people, are obese, which is defined as roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight.  Almost 65% are either obese or overweight, 10 to 30 pounds over a healthy weight, which increases their chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer and a host of other health problems.

   The medical costs associated with treating these diseases will strain the health care system and economy in the years to come, experts say.

   Americans are gaining one to two pounds a year, says james hill, director of the Center for Human nutrition at the university of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.  hill predicts that, at the current rate, 39% of Americans will be obese by 2008.

   He's one of several national weight-loss experts who offers possible solutions to the obesity epidemic in Friday's journal Science.  This report comes on the heels of a landmark report in January that showed being obese shaves seven years off a person's life, and just being overweight shortens a person's life span by about three years.

   to stop gaining weight, people need to either burn 100 calories more a day with physical activity or eat 100 calories less every day, Hill says.  They could cut back a little on portions, skip one soda or walk one extra mile a day, which would take about 15 or 20 minutes, he says.  "This isn't goint to cause you to lose a lot of weight, but it's going to keep you from gaining anymore."

02/07/2003   12A

Bush urges Congress to get aboard hydrogen-powered cars

   President Bush urged Congress on Thursday to "think beyond the normal" and approve his paln to encourage development of cars powered by clean-burning hydrogen fuel cells.  He said doing so would reduce pollution and America's dependence on foreign oil.

02/07/2003   12A

Health chief: HMOs won't be mandatory

   Health and human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Thursday that the Bush administration would not force older people to enroll in private health plans in order to get prescription-drug coverage. %

From USA Today

01/22/2003    6D

Money COLORS Drug Research

Scientists are not immune to bias, study says

   Troubling financial links between pharmaceutical

firms and academic scientists are "pervasive and

 may impact the research process,: according to

 a new analysis. 

   The United States needs to watch over the ties

bewteen the scientists who study drugs and the

drug companies that pay for the research,

because industry funding makes it 3.6 times

more likely that a study result will be favorable

to the sponsor, say researchers led by Yale's

Cary Gross.

   Reporting in today's Journal of the American

Medical Association, Gross' group finds that

about one-fourth of biomedical researchers have

financial ties to companies whose products they

are studying, while about two-thirds of schools

have financial ties to start-ups investigating new

drugs.

The group pooled the results of 37 past studies of

conflicts of interest, building on a decade's worth

of similar reports.

   In recents years, debate over industry

sponsorship of medical research had intensified.

Efforts by medical journal editors, universities,

drug companies and federal officials have led

to guidelines calling for researchers to disclose

financial conflicts and prohibit such practices

as ghostwriters authoring slanted studies.

   Industry-funded studies skew results various

ways, Gross says.  Some include:

  Study designs that favor the sponsor's drugs, sometimes by

giving weak or inappropriate doses of a competitor's drug

to patients.

   Not publishing unfavorable results, the "file-drawer effert."

In some cases, companies refuse to release data to researchers

when results don't pan out.

   Medical journals that are reluctant to publish studies with

boring, negative results for new treatments.

   "There is a lot of idealism about how science is

isolated and objective," says bioethicist Virginia

Ashby Sharpe of the Center for Science in the

Public Interest.  "UNFORTUNATELY,

THAT'S NOT THE  CASE. MONEY CAN

ABSOLUTELY INFLUENCE  SCIENTISTS."

01/08/2003   5D

Second Study finds

obesity shortens life

  Obesity can rip years from your life,

and the younger you are when you

pack on pounds, the more years you

stand to lose, a study in today's Journal

of the American medical Association says.

In the second medical study this week to find

a link between weighing too much and a

reduced life span, researchers from John

Hopkins University School of Medicine in

Baltimore and the Universty of Alabama-

Birmingham examined national data and

concluded that a severlyobese 20-year-old

white man would lose 13 years of life and a

similar black man would lose 20 years.

Being overweight increases the risk of serious

health problems such as diabetes and heart

disease.  The earlier study of 3,457 adults,

which was published Monday in the Annals

of Internal Medicine, found that obesity (30

or more pounds overweight) shaved up to

seven years from life expetancy, comparable

to the reduced life span caused by smoking.

More than 120 million people in the USA are

overweight or obese, government statistics show. 

10/10/2002   11D

Now Adults have an

immunization schedule, too

CDC's program covers 8 vaccines

   Just because you're old enough to vote

doesn't mean you're too old to need

vaccinations.

   To help get that message out to doctors.

the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention has developed the first schedule

for adult immunizations, similar to the

longstanding chilhood-immunization schedule.

12/02/2002  8D

Public confidence in

vaccines at risk

A slew of side effects from

smallpox shots could raise

fear factor

  A core group of American parents is

convinced that the vaccines given to

babies today play a role in the development

of autism and a host of other ills.

  One potential danger is the use of live-

virus vaccines, such as the oral polio vaccine.

It is no longer used in the USA,because polio

had been eradicated from the Western Hemi-

sphere, and the only cases, about eight a year,

were caused by the vaccine.  They occurred

mainly in infants with impaired immune

systems or adults not fully immunized.

  The smallpox vaccine also contains a live virus

called vaccinia which is similar to smallpox, but

not as dangerous.  Still, it can cause problems,

especially in people with weakened immune systems

or a history of eczema.  Experts estimate that if

it's widely used, there could be thousands of

illnesses and hundreds of deaths.

09/18/2002  8D

Younger doctors 'see'

non-existent cancers

  Youner and less experienced  radiologists

are two to four times more likely to see

cancer on a mammogram that is not actually

there than older doctors who graduated

from medical school at least 15 years ago,

reseach shows.

11/26/2002  9D

Mistrust of doctors widespread

across the USA

Polls finds many fear possible experiments

A gap of trust

A new national survey reveals that many

Americans have trust issues with their own

doctor.

*More than 45% of African-Americans and

nearly 35% of whites thought that their

doctor sometimes exposed them to

unnecessary risks when deciding on a

treatment course.

*About 63% of African-Americans and 38%

of whites said doctors often prescribe

medication to experiment on people

without their consent.

11/27/2002   12D

NSAIDs may inhibit broken bone repair

  Celebrex and Vioxx, which are widely prescribed

to relieve pain from fractures, might impede bone

healing, a small but growing body of animal

research suggests.

  The studies implicate conventional non-steroidal

 anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, as well.  But

scientists say the findings relative to Celebrex and

Vioxx are particularly worrisome because those

drugs are so heavily marketed and often taken

in high doses. 

11/25/2002  6D

Silent killer is on the rise but treatable

Type 2 diabetes is:

*The most common form of the disease, affecting 95%

of the more than 17 million Americans who have

diabetes.

*Associated with a combination of genetics,

excess weight and sedentary lifestyle.

*On the increase in almost all ages and ethnic

 groups.

*Increasingly being diagnosed in children, something

that rarely happened 20 years ago.  (COINCIDENCE??)

*Preventable in people at risk for developing it with

moderate lifestyle changes such as losing 5% to 10%

of body weight, making healthier food choices and

increasing physical activity. Source: American Diabetes Assoc.

 

11/25/2002   6D

Study: Tobacco settlement cash

misspent

  Many states with the highest lung cancer rates are

spending tobacco-settlement money intended for

disease prevention on unrelated programs, says a

study of health and fiscal data released by a

national anti-cancer group.

11/20/2002  9D

Atkins diet study ticks off heart group

  A small study suggesting the high-fat Atkins diet may be beneficial has sent the American Heart Association into a state of high dudgeon.

   The study, released Monday at the American Heart Association meeting, found that the popular high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet may melt off more pounds than low-fat diets and may improve cholesterol levels.

08/20/02  5D

Statin status report: Anti-cholesterol drug linked to nerve ailment

12/20/2001 10D

Ibuprofen with aspirin is counterproductive

  People who take ibuprofen to relieve arthritis pain may unwittingly block the benefits of the aspirin they take to guard against a second heart attack, says a study out today.

From ALTERNATIVES

Dr. David G. Williams

February 2003   158-160

Consider This Before Getting Stuck (with the Smallpox Vaccine)

   I never thought there would be a time that I would be discussing smallpox in Alternatives.  But times have changed...to say the least.

   In the next several months there will reportedly be enough smallpox vaccine available to vaccinate everyone in the United States.  As I'm sure you know, the president has already had his shot and has stated that the members of the armed forces will get theirs next.

   This will probably become an emotionally charged issue and ultimately a personal decision each of us may have to make.  It's a serious decision because the smallpox vaccine is undoubtedly the most dangerous of all vaccines.  As such, we should have all the facts, but they haven't been forthcoming.  Instead we've been grossly misinformed about smallpox and the vaccine.

   First, there has been no threat of any attack involving smallpox.

   Second, there hasn't been any evidence that any terrorist groups or governments even have supplies of the smallpox virus or any means to spread it.

   The public also hasn't been told that the dangers of general inoculation far outweigh the benefits.  It's been said that only one or two people maight die from the vaccine for every million inoculated.  The truth of the matter is that no one knows exactly how many people would die from the vaccine, but you can be sure it would be much greater than one lor two per million.

January 2003      148-149

Antibiotics Aren't the Answer for Your Heart

LUDWIGSHAVEN, GERMANY--- Here's one report that certainly won't get much "air play" in America:  Doctors have found that contrary to reports released earlier in the U.S., antibiotics aren't effective at preventing the inflammation thought to be involved in atherosclerosis.

   If you recall, several months ago the headlines were screaming tht heart disease and atherosclerosis were the result of infections caused by pathogens like Chlamydia pneumoniae.  This suggested that out No. 1 killer, heart disease, could be prevented through the continuous use of antibiotics.  They were being touted as a major breakthrough tht could help eliminate the disease once and for all.

   Researchers throughout Germany conducted a randomized, double-blind study involving 872 heartattack patients from 68 different medical centers.  Half of the group was given antibiotics along with their regular treatment, and the other half acted as controls and received a placebo.  The one-year survival rate for those on the antibiotics was 93.5 percent compared to 94 percent on the placebo.  There was no significant difference in survival rates between the two groups, and there was also no difference in complications or the need for additional surgeries.  (Presented at the 24th Annual Congress of the European Society of Cardiology, Berlin, Germany)

   In essence, although some doctors have already started to recommend such action, there's no benefit in taking antibiotics either to prevent a first or second heart attack, or to prevent atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries). 

December 2002

Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Mercury?

   "Although the EPA has determined that the maximum allowable daily exposure to mercury is 0.1 microgram per kilogram of body weight, thenew flu vaccine forbabies, called Fluzone, contains 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 ml dose.

   Practically all vaccines contain mercury and aluminum.  And vaccines are not "safer" sources of these toxic minerals.  It doesn't matter if the mercury comes from fish or from a vaccine.  The potential for neurological damage remains the same.  But for some reason, even though we're warned about fish consumption, vaccines and flu shots are strongly encouraged and, in many instances, even required by law.  It shouldn't come as any surprise that more babies seem to be developing Alzheimer's disease is steadily increasing.

   In the year 2000, there were approximately 5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's, and it has become the fourth leading cause of death in individuals over the age of 75.  By the year 2010, it is estimated that over 7 million individuals will have the disease,  and by 2025, 22 million will developAlzheimer's.

   As the general population continues to consume more contaminated food, water, and medicines, these predictions will prove accurate.  One expert at the 1997 National Vaccine information Cente (NVIC) International Vaccine Conference stated tht anyone who had five consecutive flu vaccine shots increased their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by a factor of ten over someone who received only two or fewer shots."

September 2002

Hospital Holocaust     

Health Care That Kills

  Unless the large majority of our society preceives that it is under imminent threat, nothing much happens.  One of the best examples of this tendency involves the number of deaths associated with prescription medications.

   The most recent figures on these deaths are six years old, and the problem has undoubtedly gotten worse since then.  Your chance of experiencing a serious adverse drug reaction is very high.  The University of Toronto did a study and found that roughly 2,216,00 patients in U.S. hospitals per year experienced a serious adverse drugh reaction.  Of these, 106,00 died each year from an adverse drug reaction during their hospital stay.  Based on these figures, adverse drug reactions are now the fourth leading cause of death in this country. (JAMA 98;279(15):1200-5)

   To put this in perspective, the number of people dying in U.S. hospitals every month from adverse drug reactions would be the same as having three World Trade Center collapeses each and every month.

August 2000

Sugar Is Slow Suicide

An Epidemic in the Making

  The increasing incidence of diabetes creates a perfect marketing target for pharmaceutical companies.  Just look at the facts --and the trends.

   Diabetes is a growing epidemic in this country, with no end in sight.  Adult-onset diabetes has increased between 600 percent and 1,000 percent in the last 60 years.  It is currently increasing at a rate of 6 percent a year, and that rate is expected to accelerate.

   Currently, one in every five American kids is obese.  And since obesity is directly linked to diabetes, the target population for diabetic pharmaceuticals now extends clear down to four-year-olds.  Yes, diabetes is a pharmaceutical company's dream come true.

From HEALTH & HEALING

Dr. Julian Whitaker

Volume 1, Issue 3 supplement to Health & Healing

Defeat Diabetes naturally

   Diabetes rivals cancer and heart disease as our most debilitating disease, for it systematically destroys blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys.  Yet the conventional treatment of this very common condition is fundamentally flawed.

   The only accepted treatment for diabetes is a near-neurotic fixation on drugs to lower blood sugar.  The fact that diabetes can be controlled with diet, exercise, and weight loss is commonly overlooked --- and highly effective, natural blood-sugar lowering agents are iqnored altogether by most physicians.

   However, the biggest oversight of the current approach to diabetes is the failure to recognize that diabetes is a nutritional wasting disease.

Diabetes Causes Massive Nutrient Losses

   The elevation in blood sugar typical of diabetes acts as an osmotic diuretic.  It overwhelms the kidneys' ability to reabsorb glucose and other water-soluble nutrients, leading to increased urination.  Consequently, massive amounts of water-soluble vitamins and minerals are lost in the urine.

   Yet no efforts are made to replace these nutrient losses.  The resultant nutritional deficiencies obviously contribute to, and are likely the primary reason for, the deterioration of the eyes, kidney, peripheral nerves, and blood vessels that plague so many diabetics.  These same complications would result from any condition that caused extensive nutrient depletion!

   We recognize that nutritional supplementation is critical in the management of diabetes.  Among the most important is magnesium.  It was demonstrated 35 years ago that diabetics have depressed magnesium levels, and the lower the level, the higher the risk of diabetic retinopathy.

December 2002

Coenzyme Q10 for Parkinson's   PARKINSON'S DISEASE

  A recent study at the University of California, San Diego showed that coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a nutritional supplement sold in health food stores, finally offers that rare connodity of hope to the millions suffering with Parkinson's disease.

CoQ10 Slowed Progression by 44 Percent

   The results were astounding.  The patients who had taken CoQ10 progressed much more slowlythan those on placebo.  The difference was most notable in the group taking the highest dose -- they experienced a 44 percent reduction in worsening of symptoms.

November 2002

Mercury: A New Culprit in CHF

CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE (CHF)

   A group of physicians from Italy has made a most astounding and disturbing discovery.

   These researchers were studying the different levels of toxic metals in the heart tissue of patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), the most serious of the cardiac conditions and the end stage of all the heart diseases.  The heart loses its ability to pump, the lungs fill with fluid, and the legs begin to swell, all because the heart can't pump fluid through the body.

   There are two primary causes of CHF.  The most common type, ischemic CHF, results from atherosclerosis and repeated heart attacks, which starve the heart of oxygen, weakening and damaging the heart muscle.  The other, which is far more serious and relentless, is idiopathic dilated cardimyopathy (IDCM).  It is called idiopathic because there is no known cause for this form of heart failure.  The entire heart muscle weakens, without cholesterol blocking the arteries or impairing blood flow, and 50 percent of patients die within five years of diagnosis.

   The incidence of CHF is increasing dramatically.  It has now reached epidemic proportions over the last 12 years, CHF rates have, doubled and 400,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.

Heavy Metal Toxicity

   The Italian researchers knew that excesses of trace elements such as cobalt and arsenic could damage the heart muscle.  But they found a new and surprisingly abundant troublemaker: MERCURY, arguably the most toxic of all the heavy metals.

   During their study, the researchers discovered that levels of mercury were thousands of times higher in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy than thosewith other heart ailments, including ischemic cardiomyopathy.  Mercury concentrations in the heart muscle of patients with idiopathic cardiomyopathy measured 178,400 ng/g, while the mercury levels in the control group measured only 8 ng/g.  That is an astonishing 22,000 times higher.

   This very high concentration of mercury was found only in the hearts of patients with IDCM, not throughout their bodies.  This makes these findings even more incredible.  The total soft tissue amount of mercury in a normal individual weighing 150 pounds is about 13 mg. But in patients with IDCM, these researchers calculated, a mere 3 ounces of heart muscle can contain as much as 17 mg of mercury.  With that level of mercury, I find it amazing tht the heart is able to function at all.

December 2002

Old Favorite, New Findings        FISH OIL

   What do depression, Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), and dyslexia have in common?  Patients with these neurological disorders often suffer from deciciencies of omega-3 fatty acids.  These fats are essential because the human body cannot produce them, yet requires them for normal functioning.

   Unfortunately, food sources of omega-3 are few and far between.  The single best source is coldwater fish, so unless you eat fish several times a week or take fish oil supplements, chances are you're among the 80 percent of Americans who are deficient in these important compounds.  This is bad news not only for your brain and nervous system, but also for your heart, blood vessels, immune system, joints-indeed, for every cell and organ in your body.

From Self Healing

Dr. Andrew Weil

February  2003     Pg 6

Sweet as Sugar

Stevia is a plant-derived sweetener for the leaves of a shrub natvie to South America.  It has a licorice-like taste.  Sold only as a dietary supplement in the United States, this noncaloric sweetner is considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be an unapproved food additive, because of controvesial evidence that it causes cell mutations in animal tests.  Available as a powder or liquid extract, stevia can be used in cooking or baking, or put on food.  It is 300 times sweeter then sugar.   My advice: Stevia is safe for diabetics and people who can't tolerate sugar.  I cannot understand the FDA's refusal to classify stevia as a safe food additive.

Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) is an artificial sweetener that's 180 times sweeter than sugar and found in products such as beverages and desserts, or as a tabletop sweetener.  It may trigger migraines, but there's no credible evidence in humans of supposed links between aspartame and brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, or lupus.  Those with phenylketonuria (PKU), advanced liver disease, and pregnant women with high blood levels of the amino acid phenylalanine should avoid aspartame.  You can't bake with it.  My advice  I don't recommend using this non-nutritive sweetener; I'm not convinced of its safety.

Saccharin (Sweet'N Low) is an artificial sweetener that's 300 times as sweet as sugar, and is the oldest sugar substitute.  It was found to cause bladder cancer in animals, but it's unclear whether this risk extends to humans.  you can bake with saccharin.  My advice  I'd avoid this sweetener.  If you want to avoid the calories of sugar, use stevia.

December 2002  Pg 7

Help for Parkinson's

A recent study done at 10 US medical centers suggests Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant compound, may be able to do for Parkinson's disease (PD) patients what conventional medications so far cannot: slow the progression of the degenerative neurological disorder.

Your Sweet Tooth Could Kill You!

   A teaspoon of sugar has no fat, BUT if you eat enough of those teaspoons you are

going to get fat.

   I can finish off a gallon of ice cream or a dozen donuts with the best of them.  I would call

myself a sugarholic.   A quote from Dr. David Williams articile " Most doctors continue to

preach that dietary sugar has no connection to behavior problems, mood swings, depression,

or the increased incidence of adult onset diabetes.  Our FDA syas that the only problem sugar

causes is dental cavities.  And with the support of the American Dietetic Association, the Sugar

Association has stuck to the position that at only 15 carories per teaspoon, sugar is a healthy,

low-calorie sweetener that is no different than any other carbohydrate.  Nothing could be further

from the truth.  In fact, decades of research supports the fact that a sweet tooth will invariably

 lead to a lifetime of poor health and a premature death."

 

   Is it a coincidence that there is such a great increase in obesity and diabetes?  I think not. 

There is more and more "fat free" products and products using a sugar substitute.  Yet people

are getting fatter and more unhealthy.  There are problems with some of the products they use

to sweeten things.

   This is really a never ending story, the purpose of these articles are to give you things to

 think about and do a little research  and discover why there are no coincidence.

   ONE PRODUCT THAT IS GREAT FOR A SWEET SUBSTITUTE IS STEVIA.  WE HANDLE A

VERY GOOD LINE OF STEVIA.  CHECK OUR CATALOG.

  

From USA Today

02/14/2003   1B

New York's Spitzer sues drugmakers

   New york Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline and Pharmacia on Thursday, alleging they illegally schemed to inflate prices of prescription drugs.  A third, Aventis, received a pre-litigation notice.  The drugmakers said they have done nothing wrong.  New york is the sixth state to file such a lawsuit against major drugmakers in the past three years.  At issue is whether the companies manipulated average wholesale prices used by government health programs as a basis for payments to doctores and clinics.

02/05/2003   1B

Canadian druggists mobilize against GLAXO

U.S. customers drafted to protest drugmaker

   Canadian druggists are enlistint their U.S. customers in a cross-border trade battle, urging them to protest drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline's move to limit sales to pharmacies that sell to Americans.

   At issue is a growing international trade in pharmaceuticals, with Americans buying medications from countries where national price controls mean drug costs are 20% to 80% lower than in U.S. retail outlets.  Sales from Canada alone are estimated at $1 billion annually.  Total U.S. drug sales in 2001 topped $154 billion.

   Last month, Glaxo warned wholesalers to stop selling to pharmacies engaged in cross-border trade, igniting protest from some Canadian government officials and from patient advocates, who say U.S. residents need access to lower-cost drugs.

   Other drug companies are watching the GLAXO fight, although none has threatened to stop shipping their products.

01/30/2003   6A

Judge blocks Bush pharmacy card plan

   A federal judge in Washington barred the Bush administration Wednesday from beginning a plan that would offer discount pharmacy cards to Medicare recipients.

   Pharmacists and chain drugstores sued to block the plan because they said Congress hadn't approved it and there were questions about who would subsidize the lower prices.  "it's dead in its tracks."  said John Rector of the National Community Pharmacisats Association.  For more information and thoughts about this click here to go to PatrickHenry.tv then click FreedomPress

01/30/2003  B1

NYSE fines H&R Block, E-Trade

   The New york Stock Exchange fined tax firm H&R Block $55,000 for improper supervision in a Detroit branch of its brokerage unit, where an employee issued and endorsed $140,815 of unauthorized checks from customer accounts for his own use.  The NYSE also fined E-Trade after the brokerage's institutional securities unit failed in 2000 to deactivate the registrations of three employees who did not complete their continuing education requirements.  The companies accepted the fines without admitting guilt.

01/30/2003  B1

Lawmaker: Ban fast-food lawsuits

   A proposed federal law would ban lawsuits that balme restaurants for health problems such as obesity and diabetes.  For more information and thoughts about this click here for PatrickHenry.tv then click FreedomPress

01/30/2003  B1

Telemarketers seek court protection

   The $275 billion consumer telemarketing industry filed lawsuits to slow or stop the Gederal Trade Commission's planned  "Do Not Call" registry. For more information and thoughts about this click here to go to PatrickHenry.tv then click Is This Fair

01/22/2003   1B

Glaxo retreats from drug-cutoff deadline

   GlaxoSmithKline backed away from its Tuesday deadline to stop shipping its products to Canadian pharmacies tht sell to patients in the USA, although the drugmaker says it still intends to cut off those supplies.  But first Glaxo says it will find a way to protect shipments intended for Canadians.  To do so, Glaxo will have to determine, based on sales to wholesalers, which pharmacies are shipping to the USA and how much they are sending.  Glaxo's move comes in reaction to growing Internet sales of lower-priced drugs from Canada to U.S. customers.

From PatrickHenry.tv

Company wants to protect Canadians?????

Click the above link and see what Patrick Henry.tv has to say about this well intended action??????  What do you think?

From USA Today

01/21/2003   1A

Hospitals balk at smallpox vaccine

More doctors consider risk to staff too great

   When doctors at the Medical College Of Virginia Hospitals here announced in December that they would not participate in the Bush administration's program to vaccinate 11 million Americans against smallpos, they were criticized for making a deplorable decision that could undermine the president's plan.

   It turns out they were just the first.

   More than 80 hospitals from every region in the USA, including leading teaching hospitals and large, urban public hospitals, are forgoing the vaccinations.  The dissenters are a fraction of the 3,000 hospitals recruited by state health officials to vaccinate doctors, nurses and other hospital staff members who are most likely to care for smallpox patients.

   But their numbers are growing as doctors and administrators at hospitals around the USA are concluding that the known helath risks from the vaccine, which can cause illness and even death, outweigh the unquantifiable risks of smallpox being used as a terrorist weapon.

01/21/2003   1B

Glaxo wants to keep cheap drugs out of USA

   Major drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has given Canadian pharmacists untio today to heed an ultimatum: Stop selling to Americans, or we'll stop selling to you.

   At issue is a mushrooming international trade in pharamaceuticals, as an increasing number of Americans buy products from countries where prices can be 20% to 80% lower than in the USA

   If Glaxo is successful, observers expect other drugmakers to follow suit - or possibly demand higher payments in Canada, which has a national health system that sets price controls on drugs.

   The threat has caused concern among some Canadian government and health officials and has angered pharmacists, who are selling an estimated $1 billion in pharmaceutical products to Americans each year.

   Canada is reviewing whether Glaxo's threatened action could violate trade agreements or other laws.  Meanwhile, U.S.  patients say they turn to Canadian pharmacies because they can't afford their medicines in the USA.  Helath care costs are rising at their most rapid clip in a decade, with spending on hospitals and drugs the largest factors.  Most sales to Americans come via the Internet, although some groups take bus trips across the border to buy drugs.

From PatrickHenry.tv

U.S. patients can't afford their medicines in the USA

   What a headline?  What is wrong when citizens of the greatest country in the world cannot afford the cost of  their medicines in this country?  What is wrong when they can get the same medicine in a different country for 20% to 80% lower cost?  If the drug companies are making money selling these drugs at  that price in those countries, what gives them the right to charge us so much more?  Is it because of all the money they are spending on television ads for their drugs?

   This is not right.  There should be congressional hearings about this.  Or is there to much drug money being tossed around using the word lobby?  If something can be sold at a certain price in one country and a profit made,  what justifies a price increase of 20% to 80% more if the cost of production is still the same?

From USA Today

01/16/2003   11D

Fatique rarely culprit when surgical tools left in patients

   Surgical teams accidentally leave clamps, sponges and other tools inside about 1,500 patients nationwide each year, according to the biggest study of the problem yet.

   The mistakes largely result not from surgeon fatique but from the stress arising from emergencies or complications discovered on the operating table,the researchers report.

   It also happens more often to overweight patients, simply because there is more room inside them to lose equipment, according to the study.

   The researchers checked insurance records from about 800,00 operations in Massachusetts for 16 years ending in 2001.  They counted 61 forgotten pieces of surgical equipment in 54 patients.  From that they calculated a national estimate of 1,500 cases yearly.

   Two-thirds of the mistakes happened even though the equipment was counted before and after the procedure, in keeping with the standard practice.  Most lost objects were sponges, but also included were metal clamps and electrodes.  In two cases, 11-inch retractors - metal strips used to hold back tissue-were forgotten inside patients.

12/23/02  6D

FDA restrictions on researcher called 'a slap on the wrist'

   Faked data, failed supervision and inappropriate patient-consent forms landed the former president of the American heart Association on a Food and Drug Administration list back in June that restricted his research activities.

   But the punishment got little notice until a British Medical journal article this month.  and now helath activist are questioning whether University of Chicago cardiologist David Faxon got off too easy.  By agreement with the FDA, he can lead only two FDA-regulated clinical trials limited to 25 patients each for three years.  Clinical trials are the human tests of new drugs and medical devices required for FDA approval.

   "They gave him a slap on the wrist," says Vera Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, an activist group.  "Why should someone the FDA found to have falsified research data and patient records in a study be allowed to do research on people?"

 


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