Health & Wellness


Tell children they'll fail and they will

If I tot up the number of vulnerable children who I've met in recent years in my role as a journalist there are well over 50 of them, and it's strange how many of their faces I remember. Not necessarily their names - I always change them for publication - but the faces, they stay with you.

There was the 14-year-old burglar who said that he'd rather stay in a secure establishment than go back into care. Locked up, he felt safe. He pointed out that he had nothing to look forward to and when I asked how he saw his future he replied with one word: "Prison." He begged for a mention, but didn't believe I'd honour my promise to write about him because people always let him down.

Many of the boys - especially boys - were desperate for attention, even from someone they didn't know. Others had shockingly bleak faces and couldn't communicate. There were twitchy children who couldn't sit still, lots of them. Recently I met a bright, fizzy 12-year-old who hungered for conversation but didn't know how to sit down.


Asbestos Contamination an Ongoing Problem in Korea

The Korean asbestos contamination crisis continues, and the Korean health authority has released a list of 1,122 medical products from 120 companies that contain asbestos-tainted talc. The Korean government has recalled all of these products, with the exception of 11 products for which there are no "suitable substitutes".

The Prime Minister's Office has forbidden the importation of talc containing asbestos, and plans to develop comprehensive restrictive measures and standards for the carcinogenic substance by the end of June.

These actions come after a week of media frenzy regarding the contaminated baby powder, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals found to contain deadly asbestos.


Prenatal meth exposure may harm baby's brain

Children whose mothers took methamphetamine during pregnancy have brain abnormalities that may explain the developmental problems they often experience, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

Brain scans on a group of 3- and 4-year-old children showed abnormal development in the white matter, which carries messages across the brain, compared with children who did not have prenatal exposure to the drug, often called "meth."

The study provides some of the first physical evidence to show brain changes that can occur during fetal development when the mother used the drug during pregnancy.


Epilepsy Drug Linked to Babies' Lower IQ

Women with epilepsy who took the drug valproate ( Depakote) during pregnancy gave birth to children whose IQ at age 3 averaged up to 9 points lower than the scores of children exposed to other epilepsy drugs, according to a new study.

"Valproate exposure to the unborn child is associated with a lower IQ, which is not explained by any of the other factors [influencing IQ], such as mother's IQ, mother's age, or epilepsy type," says Kimford J. Meador, MD, the study's lead author and professor of neurology at Emory University in Atlanta.

The average IQ of children born to women who took valproate was 92 -- 8 below the 100 that is considered average -- and the scores of those exposed to other epilepsy drugs ranged from 98 to 101, he tells WebMD.


How Metals in Food Affect Your Child's Behavior

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According to a lead researcher in the field, the contamination of food with certain metals needs to be urgently addressed in light of growing evidence linking trace metals to behavioral problems.

It has long been known that excessive amounts of any metal could be potentially dangerous, but there is now also strong evidence that even tiny amounts of some metals can contribute to aggressive or antisocial behavior, says Neil Ward, a professor of chemistry at the UK's University of Surrey.

Lead has been linked to antisocial behavior, partly because it contributes to nutrient depletion. Aluminum has also been linked to antisocial behavior, as it competes for the binding sites of biochemical receptors of other metal ions, such as iron and zinc.

Comment: Listen to SOTT podcast Toxic World, Toxic Bodies, for more information on how to detoxify in a natural way.


UK: Third of men 'live with parents'

Almost a third of men and a fifth of women aged between 20 and 34 live at home with their parents, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Control Panel

University of Missouri researcher gets grant to develop anti-drug education video game

It's tough to find a child who doesn't enjoy video games.

A University of Missouri researcher is hoping to tap into that love to find a new way to teach kids about the dangers of drug addiction.

Joel Epstein, an associate professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine, has been given a $1 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop an educational video game that focuses on what happens to the brain and body when a person uses drugs.

Taking it a step further, Epstein is attempting a two-pronged approach, with the goal of making a game that targets boys and girls differently. The plan is to develop a game that offers two separate tracts - a competitive arc that targets boys and a more socially engaging arc that targets girls.


Conventional Cancer Treatments bankrupt Patients, Families

The costs of cancer treatments impose a major financial burden even on patients with private health insurance, leading in many cases to bankruptcy, according to a new report issued by the American Cancer Society and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"A cancer diagnosis can threaten anyone with bankruptcy and financial ruin, no matter what your earning power is," said Peggy McGuire of the Women's Cancer Resource Center. "There are many paths you take, but they lead to the same destination: loss of all resources."


Exercise can 'help treat depression'

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The Black Dog Institute says exercise should be used as a frontline treatment for depression.

The power of exercise to improve a person's mood should no longer be overlooked as a frontline treatment for depression, says the Black Dog Institute.

People commonly report feeling better after vigorous activity, says the institute's Professor Gordon Parker who points to an Australian study of 500 fun run participants.

Yet this widely experienced, and non-medical, method to improve a person's sense of wellbeing is under-utilised as a treatment for depression, he says.
"This Australian study, along with recent overseas research, has demonstrated the benefits of exercise for improving mood and energy levels in depression," said Prof Parker, who is executive director of the institute based at the University of NSW.

"While regular moderate exercise can be an effective way to treat some forms of depression, it can be very difficult for people experiencing depression to find the motivation to get started."

Comment: Well fancy that, exercise is particularly useful in reducing depression with people who suffer from mild to moderate depression. What he didn't say is that it is also less expensive and probably much less risk to ones health than taking prescription drugs used to treat depression.

I don't think Professor Parker will be getting any Christmas cards this year from the pharmaceutical industry.


Best science gathered on healthy foods

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Vegetables, nuts and the Mediterranean diet have topped the grocery list of 'good' heart foods.
What we know for sure about diet and what protects the heart is a relatively short list.

That's the conclusion of new research based on an analysis of nearly 200 studies involving millions of people.

Vegetables, nuts and the Mediterranean diet made the grocery list of "good" heart foods. On the "bad" list: starchy carbs like white bread and the trans fats in many cookies and french fries.

The "question mark" list includes meat, eggs and milk and many other foods where there's not yet strong evidence about whether they're good or bad for the heart.

"I do research. I also buy groceries for my family every week," said study co-author Dr. Sonia Anand of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who hopes the findings "decrease the confusion around what we should eat and what we shouldn't eat."