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U.S. Patients Beware: Hospital Safety's a Wilderness of Data

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© Philip Kamrass Times Union
Though hospitals collect and send a vast amount of information about patient outcomes to the state and federal government, most of it is not shared with the public - making it difficult to assess the safety of an individual hospital.
Americans have more information about the safety of their cars than about the hospitals that treat them at their most vulnerable moments.

Retired Deputy Sheriff Allen Zurlo had no knowledge of the safety record at the hospital in Arlington, Wash., where he underwent routine surgery to cure loud snoring. The hospital administrator said Zurlo was injected with the wrong substance while under anesthesia. His heart stopped and he nearly died, on his 57th birthday.

Zurlo said he's grateful the staff revived him and treated him fairly after the November 2008 incident. But he wouldn't use the hospital again.

Zurlo is now a believer in public access to hospitals' safety records.

Pills

UK: NHS spending on 'chemical cosh' child-calming drugs soars by 60% to £31m

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© Alamy
Over-use: prescribing drugs such as Ritalin to children is an 'easier' option than discipline at schools or parental support
NHS spending on 'chemical cosh' drugs to treat hyperactivity has soared by two-thirds to £31million in just four years, new figures revealed yesterday.

Nearly 750,000 prescriptions are now being doled out every year for Ritalin and similar drugs - most of them to children.

The surge triggered concerns that children are being unnecessarily drugged as poor discipline is increasingly seen as a medical issue.

Teachers warned today that prescribing calming drugs was often cheaper and easier than 'talking cures' and parenting support.

Three drugs are now routinely used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which is characterised by disruptive behaviour, impulsiveness and difficulties focusing on specific tasks.

These are drugs based on methylphenidate (Ritalin), atomoxetine (Strattera) and dexamfetamine (Dexedrine).

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that NHS spending on the three drugs in England alone rose from £18.97million in 2005 to £31.14million in 2009.

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Influenza Vaccine Sends Children Into Convulsions

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© NaturalNews
Influenza vaccines have sent 57 children into life-threatening convulsions, reports The Age out of Australia. These influenza vaccines were being give to children under five to "protect" them from seasonal flu, but after receiving the shots, these children started going into convulsions.

An investigation has revealed that there is no quality control problem with any particular batch of influenza vaccines. They all pass quality control, in other words, so the convulsions are being caused by what is intentionally put into the vaccines, not by some mistaken chemical contaminant.

This, of course, baffles conventional doctors who have all been told that vaccines are perfectly safe and could never harm anyone. So rather than pausing to consider what might be contained in the vaccines that's causing children to go into convulsions, they charge ahead with the recommendation that even more people should get vaccines.

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Call for Ban on BPA Chemical in Baby Bottles

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© Google Images
Seven leading scientists have sent a letter to the United Kingdom's Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, urging him to ban the use of the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in products intended for use in feeding infants.

"We urge you now to adopt a standpoint consistent with the approach taken by other governments who have ended the use of BPA in food contact products marketed at children," they wrote.

BPA is used to make hard, clear plastics for products such as baby bottles, food containers and water bottles. It is also used to make resins that line cans of food and infant formula.

Numerous studies have linked the chemical to reproductive harm, especially in fetuses and infants. It has also been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and to cause cognitive damage and abnormal behavior. The Canadian government has banned its use in baby bottles, a number of retailers throughout North America have pledged to stop carrying infant products that contain it, and some North American manufacturers have voluntarily ceased using it.

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New Research: Vitamin K Protects Against Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

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© NaturalNews
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas belong to a large group of immune system cancers involving lymphocytes (white blood cells). In 2009, according the National Cancer Institute (NCI) about 65,980 Americans were diagnosed with this form of cancer and almost 20,000 died from the disease. But now scientists at the Mayo Comprehensive Cancer Center in Minnesota think they've found a way to prevent a huge number of these malignancies. The key is a nutrient found in many leafy, green vegetables - vitamin K.

For their study, the first ever to investigate vitamin K and non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk, the Mayo researchers enrolled 603 patients who were newly diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma as well as 1,007 matched cancer-free research subjects who served as controls. The participants answered a food questionnaire about their usual intake of over 120 food items during the two years before they were diagnosed with cancer or they enrolled in the study as a member of the cancer-free control group. They were also asked about their use of vitamin and mineral supplements.

The findings of the study, which were recently announced in Washington, D.C., at the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), showed that the risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma was slashed dramatically -- by 45 percent -- for the study participants who had the highest vitamin K levels compared to participants with the lowest levels of the vitamin. This association remained even after the Mayo research team investigated factors such as age, sex, education, obesity, smoking, alcohol use and consumption of foods with high amounts of antioxidants.

Attention

Half of breast cancer patients 'suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder'

© Unknown
Almost half of breast cancer patients suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder even years after diagnosis, according to a new study.

The debilitating disorder is often characterised by agitation, anxiety, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, and mood swings.

It is more often associated with soldiers returning from battlefields who have been shell-shocked by their experiences.

But now doctors have found that a similar effect can be found in women told that they have breast cancer.

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Biologists Link Gut Microbial Equilibrium to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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© Courtesy of Arya Khosravi and Sarkis Mazmanian/Caltech
Cross-sectional image of a mouse colon stained for cell proliferation (green), and epithelial cell nuclei (blue). Cell proliferation occurs at the base of the colonic crypts, where progenitor stem cells divide and daughter cells migrate to the surface of the epithelium.
We are not alone - even in our own bodies. The human gut is home to 100 trillion bacteria, which, for millions of years, have co-evolved along with our digestive and immune systems. Most people view bacteria as harmful pathogens that cause infections and disease. Other, more agreeable, microbes (known as symbionts) have taken a different evolutionary path, and have established beneficial relationships with their hosts. Still other microbes may be perched somewhere in between, according to research by biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) that offers new insight into the causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colon cancer.

A paper about their work appears in the April 22 issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Health

What Exactly is a Food Allergy?

© CNN
Heidi Bayer knows all too well that diagnosing food allergies isn't clear-cut.

When her daughter Phoebe Carney was 2½, her doctor did a skin test and said that she would be fine drinking milk. Hopeful, the mother gave Phoebe rice cheese with casein, a dairy product.

Suddenly, the toddler began coughing, and the color drained from her face. The mother gave her an antihistamine, but the child's entire body turned red. That's how they ended up in the emergency room.

"I think the tests are inconclusive, and that obviously there's going to be instances where it looks like there has been an outgrowing of an allergy when there actually hasn't," said Bayer, of Brooklyn, New York. "It's an inexact science at this point."

It turns out that the term "food allergy" has no universally accepted definition, nor are there well-accepted criteria for diagnosis, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That means that while children like Phoebe may have life-threatening reactions to foods that don't respond to tests, others who think they have allergies may be unnecessarily avoiding foods. There is no cure for food allergies, and doctors are unclear on why some people develop them.

"It's a limiting diagnosis; it's difficult socially, it's difficult nutritionally, and so really trying to nail down whether or not you truly have an allergy is a really important thing," said Dr. Jennifer Schneider Chafen at Stanford University School of Medicine, lead author of the study.

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Rats on Junk Food Pass Cancer Down the Generations

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When pregnant rats were fed a fatty diet, both their daughters and granddaughters proved to be at greater risk of breast cancer. In fact, even if the daughters of the first generation of rats ate healthily, their offspring - the third generation - were still at greater risk of disease.

According to the New Scientist:
"... a fatty diet may cause "epigenetic" DNA modifications that can be passed on to future generations."
If this is also true for humans, it means that genetics could be only one of several reasons why a family history of breast cancer increases your risk for the disease.

Sources:

New Scientist April 20, 2010

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Presidential Cancer Advisors Find Courage to Warn About Environmental Risks of Cancer Chemicals

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© NaturalNews
When a government panel of experts finds the courage to tell the truth about cancer, it's an event so rare that it becomes newsworthy. Late last week, a report from the President's Cancer Panel (PCP) broke ranks with the sick-care cancer establishment and dared to say something that natural health advocates have been warning about for decades: That Americans are "bombarded" with cancer-causing chemicals and radiation, and if we hope to reduce cancer rates, we must eliminate cancer-causing chemicals in foods, medicines, personal care products and our work and home environments.

In a directive to President Obama, the report states, "The panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase healthcare costs, cripple our nation's productivity, and devastate American lives."

When I first read that, I just about fell out of my chair. Government-appointed experts are really saying that there are cancer-causing chemicals in our food and water? That simple fact has been vehemently denied by the cancer industry, processed food giants, personal care product companies and of course the fluoride lobby -- all of which insist their chemicals are perfectly safe.