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Wed, 26 Jul 2017
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Health & Wellness


Groups Hand-Deliver 180,000 Letters to FDA

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently received more than 180,000 hand-delivered letters from citizens concerned about proposed FDA action on antibiotic use in animals. These concerned citizens represent people who see a connection between the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and an increase in human resistance to the same life-saving drugs. The letters were delivered on the eve of the Aug. 27 cut-off date for public comment on the issue.

A broad coalition of organizations encouraging new FDA regulatory guidelines collected and delivered the letters. The groups include the Center for Food Safety; Center for Science in the Public Interest; CREDO Action; FamilyFarmed.org; Farm Aid; Food & Water Watch; Food Democracy Now!; The Humane Society of the United States; Organic Consumers Association; and Union of Concerned Scientists. A press release from the Center for Food Safety describes these organizations as "committed to saving antibiotics as pillars of public health in the United States."

Many consumer advocates and health professionals agree that the widespread use of antibiotics in animals intended for human consumption may have contributed to a spike in human antibiotic resistance. In mid July, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, testified before Congress on the issue of antimicrobial resistance.

"FDA concludes that the overall weight of evidence available to date supports the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production purposes is not in the interest of protecting and promoting the public health," he explained. "Developing strategies for reducing antimicrobial resistance is critically important for protecting both public and animal health."


Yoga Shows Potential to Ward Off Certain Diseases

Practicing yoga may do more than calm the mind - it may help protect against certain diseases, a new study suggests.

In the study, women who had practiced yoga regularly for at least two years were found to have lower levels of inflammation in their bodies than did women who only recently took up the activity.

Inflammation is an immune response and can be beneficial when your body is fighting off infection, but chronically high levels of inflammation are known to play a role in certain conditions, including asthma, cardiovascular disease and depression.

Inflammation is known to be boosted by stressful situations. But when yoga experts were exposed to stress (such as dipping their feet in ice water), they experienced less of an increase in their inflammatory response than yoga novices did.

"The study is the first one, I think, to really suggest how yoga could have some distinctive physical benefits in terms of the immune system," said researcher Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of Ohio State University. "It suggests that regular yoga practice is really good for you." she told LiveScience.


Why Fish Oil is Good for Your Health

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Fish oil has long been promoted for its role in brain and heart health. Now, scientists have a clearer picture of how the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil work to reduce chronic inflammation in diabetes patients.


New Potential Malaria Treatment Identified

© Dreamstime
A newly identified compound that can kill the malaria parasite might one day serve as a new drug to treat the disease. Malaria is responsible for nearly 1 million deaths each year, mostly among children in sub-Saharan Africa. It is caused by a parasite and transmitted by a mosquito.
A newly identified compound kills the malaria parasite well before it creates major health problems within an infected person, a new study finds. It might one day serve as a new drug to treat the infectious disease.

Malaria is responsible for nearly 1 million deaths each year, mostly among children in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New treatments for malaria are urgently needed because the current class of drugs use to treat the disease, known as artemisinins, are becoming less effective as the parasite develops resistance to them.

Bizarro Earth

Dementia risk double in PTSD veterans: study

© Chris Carlson/Associated Press
Leaning beside a cooling unit, retired U.S. marine major Gamal Awad cries out while exercising at his home in Temecula, Calif. Awad has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder since he volunteered for rescue work on Sept. 11, 2001, at the Pentagon. His PTSD was aggravated by tours in Kuwait and Iraq. Researchers say veterans like Awad with post-traumatic stress disorder may have a higher risk of dementia.
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder may have a higher risk of dementia than those without the stress disorder, a U.S. study suggests.

Life-threatening events such as war are thought to cause PTSD. Symptoms include avoiding people or things that remind someone of a trauma, nightmares, difficulty with sleep, and mood problems.

"We found veterans with PTSD had twice the chance for later being diagnosed with dementia than veterans without PTSD," said Mark Kunik, a psychiatrist at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Texas and senior author of the study, which appears in the September issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

"Although we cannot at this time determine the cause for this increased risk, it is essential to determine whether the risk of dementia can be reduced by effectively treating PTSD."

The findings could have implications for veterans now returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, the researchers said.

In the study, researchers looked at the healthcare database information for 10,481 veterans at least 65 years of age who had been seen at the Texas VA Medical Center at least twice between 1997 and 1999. The researchers noted whether a vet was wounded during combat, regardless of whether they subsequently received a PTSD diagnosis, in order to have a confirmed group with injuries and combat experience.


Dangers of Microwave Popcorn

When it's movie night at home and you're getting ready to break out the popcorn, using an air popper or jostling a pot of kernels in a heart-friendly oil on your stove top might be your best choices.

A report from the FDA indicates that a chemical coating used in microwave popcorn bags breaks down when heated into a substance called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA).

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified PFOA as a "likely carcinogen." Another study has found an acid that can be extracted from the chemical causes cancer in animals and is "likely to cause cancer in humans."


New Research Suggests: Non-stick Pans Can Affect Our Hormones


Consumers should look for alternatives to non-stick pans to reduce their exposure to dangerous chemicals
Norwegian study highlights the effects of PFC and PCB chemicals on human health

A group of chemicals found in common household items may be having dangerous effects on our hormones, new research suggests.

A study on sheep and cells grown in the laboratory by Norwegian vets found that perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) found in water resistant clothes and non-stick frying pans can affect the body's steroid hormones including oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol. 

These hormones are necessary for regulating a number of bodily functions in humans and animals, including our ability to reproduce.

The research also discovered similar effects caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a group of chemicals that have been banned since the 1970s but continue to persist in the environment.

Monkey Wrench

Flawed Study, Bad Science - Outrageous Conclusion

You may have read that eating more omega-3 fatty acids doesn't help heart patients. You absolutely will not believe what the researchers did to arrive at this result.

The researchers fed the poor human guinea pigs margarine - yes, margarine! - otherwise known as the extremely heart unhealthy form of fat called trans fat.

In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers gave heart attack survivors between the ages of 60 and 80 one of four kinds of margarine: one that had additional omega-3s from fish, one that had plant-derived omega-3s, one that had both, and one without any added omega-3s (the control sample). The patients ate 4 tablespoons of it a day, on bread, for 3½ years. Researchers found no difference between the groups, no matter what kind of margarine they ate.

Red Flag

Psychologist Warns BP Oil Spill Will Have Long-Lasting Impact

A prominent social psychologist says feelings of anger, depression, and helplessness are already apparent in many people whose lives were impacted by the BP oil spill. What's more, Deborah Du Nann Winter, PhD, told the peer-reviewed online journal Ecopsychology that those and other psychological impacts of the spill are expected to be long lasting.

According to the Ecopsychology article, Winter was a professor of psychology at Whitman College and has written extensively on the psychological dimensions of environmental damage, war, sense of place, and mindfulness. She recently co-authored the third edition of The Psychology of Environmental Problems.

While Winter predicted that symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will surface in the wake of the spill, she also said that because the disaster has played out over several months, a bigger problem will be long-range, chronic widespread depression, which will build among the people impacted as the disaster progresses.


Canada bans BPA. Why haven't we?

Environment Canada - our northern neighbor's version of the EPA - has officially declared bisphenol A (BPA) toxic. The ubiquitous chemical, found in the lining of nearly all cans used by the food and beverage industry, will have to be phased out in Canada.

BPA is vile stuff. Here's how Scientific American recently described it:
"In recent years dozens of scientists around the globe have linked BPA to myriad health effects in rodents: mammary and prostate cancer, genital defects in males, early onset of puberty in females, obesity, and even behavior problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder."
The North American chemical industry is furious with Environment Canada's decision. The American Chemistry Council has vigorously defended BPA during Environment Canada's toxic review, declaring that the agency had "pandered to emotional zealots" by even considering the toxic designation, the Toronto Star reports. The industry group demanded that Environment Canada halt the review process; Environment Canada held firm.