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Wed, 21 Feb 2018
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Are California's For-Profit Hospitals Pushing C-Sections?

Expectant mothers in California may want to add one more reminder to their list of what to look for when researching obstetricians--whether the physician in question facilitates births in a non-profit or for-profit hospital.

An analysis by California Watch reveals stark disparities in cesarean section rates between non- and for-profit hospitals in the state. Women in the state are, according to an article written about the newly released analysis, "at least 17 percent more likely to have a cesarean section at a for-profit hospital than at one that operates as a non-profit." The analysis looked at both base rates for c-sections as well as rates among women with low-risk pregnancies.

The differences in c-section rates between certain non- and for-profit hospitals across the state are shocking. Laboring women with low-risk pregnancies at Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital, had a 14 percent chance of giving birth via cesarean section. If these same women were to give birth at the for-profit Los Angeles Community Hospital? The likelihood they'd undergo a c-section shoots up to 47 percent; 59 percent if, notes the article, you factor in medically necessary c-sections.

Nationally, cesarean section births account for almost one-third of all births, far above the 10 to 15 percent the World Health Organization deems safe.

While some point to overall changes in maternity patient demographics (older mothers, more mothers pregnant with multiples) and increased maternal request as reasons for this rise, time and again the evidence does not seem to agree.Recently, research undertaken by an NIH organization found that rising rates of labor induction in hospitals around the country contribute to our escalating rate of c-sections. But why are women birthing in hospitals being steered towards more medical intervention if the evidence does not show that it's needed? And how does this connect to whether a hospital operates as a non-profit or for-profit venture?


The Facts, Statistics and Dangers of Soda Pop

© sodahead.com
Kids are heavy consumers of soft drinks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and they are guzzling soda pop at unprecedented rates.

Carbonated soda pop provides more added sugar in a typical 2-year-old toddler's diet than cookies, candies and ice cream combined.

Fifty-six percent of 8-year-olds down soft drinks daily, and a third of teenage boys drink at least three cans of soda pop per day.


Public Deprived of Data on Cancer Links to Toxins

Director of 'The Idiot Cycle' claims people are being kept in the dark over the dangers posed by toxins in everyday life - and questions the murky links between UN, WHO and chemical companies

Links between chemical companies and institutions like the WHO and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) are depriving consumers of independent information on cancer risks, film maker Emmanuelle Schick Garcia has claimed.

In an exclusive interview with The Ecologist, Schick Garcia, director of 'ThThe Idiot Cycle' - a major expose on the chemical industry - said 'subtle' conflicts of interest, such as a Bayer Cropscience consultant sitting on an IARC advisory group while also chairing one on benzene research for the American Petroleum Institute, made it difficult for people to trust their advice.


New Drug-resistant Superbugs Found in 3 States

© AFP/HO/File
Serious public health risks due to a lack of new antibiotics at a time of rising antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" will be the main focus of a top microbiology conference in Boston that starts Sunday.
Boston - An infectious-disease nightmare is unfolding: Bacteria that have been made resistant to nearly all antibiotics by an alarming new gene have sickened people in three states and are popping up all over the world, health officials reported Monday.

The U.S. cases and two others in Canada all involve people who had recently received medical care in India, where the problem is widespread. A British medical journal revealed the risk last month in an article describing dozens of cases in Britain in people who had gone to India for medical procedures.

How many deaths the gene may have caused is unknown; there is no central tracking of such cases. So far, the gene has mostly been found in bacteria that cause gut or urinary infections.


Researchers: Sleeping Pills are Not 'Candy' and May Increase Risk of Death

© Getty
Sleeping pills are not candy and might increase the risk of dying by a third, research has warned.
Research has found that people taking the drugs are at least a third more likely to die during the 13-year study than those not on them.

One suggested reason for the effect is that sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs affect people's response times, alertness, and co-ordination.

Magic Wand

Making Meditation Accessible

© unknown
Meditation looks like the simplest thing in the world. After all, what could be easier than sitting on a cushion and doing nothing? For many who try meditation the simple answer is: anything. Why? Because when people begin to meditate and park themselves on their meditation cushions, their brains often hit Mach 5. They're often unable to stop from thinking about every little worry in their lives. In my early years of meditation, I would frequently rise from my cushion with a fresh to-do list. I was reminded of this recently when a group of yogis who hadn't had much luck in adult meditation classes asked if I could give their kids lessons for 40 days. I agreed, and now the yogis, along with a couple hundred people in our mindfulness together online community, are practicing mindfulness four minutes a day twice a day for 40 days.

Comment: For more information about an easy to use approach to Meditation check out the Eiriu Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program here.


Study finds that sorghum bran has more antioxidants than blueberries, pomegranates

A new University of Georgia study has found that select varieties of sorghum bran have greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than well-known foods such as blueberries and pomegranates.

Researchers measured polyphenolic compounds, which naturally occur in plants to help fight against pests and disease, and found that the black and sumac varieties of sorghum have significant levels of antioxidants. Many fruits also contain these compounds, they said, though sorghum bran may prove to be the richest and cheapest source.


I Was Wrong About Veganism. Let Them Eat Meat - But Farm It Properly

The ethical case against eating animal produce once seemed clear. But a new book is an abattoir for dodgy arguments

This will not be an easy column to write. I am about to put down 1,200 words in support of a book that starts by attacking me and often returns to this sport. But it has persuaded me that I was wrong. More to the point, it has opened my eyes to some fascinating complexities in what seemed to be a black and white case.

In the Guardian in 2002 I discussed the sharp rise in the number of the world's livestock, and the connection between their consumption of grain and human malnutrition. After reviewing the figures, I concluded that veganism "is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue". I still believe that the diversion of ever wider tracts of arable land from feeding people to feeding livestock is iniquitous and grotesque. So does the book I'm about to discuss. I no longer believe that the only ethical response is to stop eating meat.

In "Meat: A Benign Extravagance," Simon Fairlie pays handsome tribute to vegans for opening up the debate. He then subjects their case to the first treatment I've read that is both objective and forensic. His book is an abattoir for misleading claims and dodgy figures, on both sides of the argument.

Arrow Up

The Cure for the American Diet: Nutrient Density

© unknown
The American diet causes disease. It is composed of 25 percent animal products and 62 percent processed foods and only 5 percent of calories from fruits and vegetables.(1) We could not have designed a more effective cancer-causing, heart-attack-causing diet if we had scientifically planned it. Our nation's food choices have produced a population with widespread chronic illness and health care costs spiraling out of control. You cannot escape from the biological law of cause and effect - food choices are the most significant cause of disease and premature death. We cannot win the war on these diseases by putting more money into medical interventions or drugs. We must unleash the disease-fighting artillery in our own kitchens.

The key to excellent health and longevity is to eat a high ratio of micronutrients to macronutrients. Macronutrients contain calories - fat, carbohydrate and protein - thereby supplying us with energy. Micronutrients - vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals - don't contain calories, but have other essential roles. Thousands of these compounds work synergistically to detoxify carcinogens, deactivate free radicals, enable DNA repair, and maintain immune defenses. Lack of phytochemicals due to a low-micronutrient diet has an inevitable consequence: chronic disease. Low-nutrient foods also stimulate overeating. Low-nutrient, high-calorie food is known to be physiologically addictive, having effects on the brain similar to those of illegal drugs.(2) Dieting by portion control doesn't work because one is constantly fighting addictive drives. However, the drive to over-consume calories is blunted by high-micronutrient food.


Inflammation Is Associated With Lower Intelligence and Premature Death

Inflammation is associated with lower intelligence and premature death, according to Swedish scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. "Those with low-grade inflammation performed more poorly on standardised intelligence tests, even after excluding those with signs of current illness. Inflammation also predicted an increased risk of premature death," said lead researcher Dr Hakan Karlsson.

The research, recently published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, used large population-based registers containing data collected over several decades. Inflammation and intelligence were measured at 18-20 years of age in nearly 50,000 young men, and deaths over the following 35 years were recorded.

"Although we knew that inflammation associated with infection or cardiovascular disease could impair brain function, this is the first time that similar associations have been shown in healthy young people," said Dr Karlsson. "This suggests that even low levels of inflammation can have detrimental consequences for health and brain function," he added.