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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Too much Facebook time may be unhealthy for kids

Facebook is great for reconnecting with old friends from high school and college. But for those still in school, the popular networking site could do more harm than good.
That’s according to Larry Rosen, a psychologist at Cal State Dominguez Hills who’s been studying the effect of technology on people for more than 25 years. Recently, he’s done several studies on how the social networking site affects children. He made his case Saturday at the American Psychological Assn.’s annual convention in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
Teens who use more technology, like video games or the Internet, tended to have more stomach aches, sleeping problems, anxiety and depression, and they often missed more school, he found.
Teens and young adults who logged onto Facebook constantly were more narcissistic. The social network feeds into a narcissist’s M.O. perfectly by allowing people to broadcast themselves 24/7 on their own terms, Rosen says. Among users of all ages, the more people used Facebook, the more likely they were to have antisocial personality disorder, paranoia and anxiety.
When Rosen and his colleagues observed middle school, high school and college students for 15 minutes while they studied for an exam, they found that most students were only able to focus for two to three minutes before turning their attention to less scholarly matters, like text messages or mobile phone aps. Not surprisingly, the students who checked Facebook while studying did worse on their exams than those who didn’t.
[For The Record, 8:02 a.m., Aug. 9: An earlier version of this post stated that researcher Larry Rosen found that, among users of all ages, using Facebook more was associated with having a higher risk of antisocial personality disorder, paranoia, anxiety and alcohol use. Alcohol use was not part of that list.]
Parents also have to contend with other forms of social networking, like sending and receiving text messages. The average teenager sends out more than 2,000 texts per month. This is an overwhelming amount of information that can lead not only to problems with sleep and concentration, but also physical stress, according to experts. Rosen cited the example of a Chicago teenager who developed carpal tunnel syndrome and needed wrist braces and pain medication last year after sending an average of more than 100 texts per day.
The reason this form of messaging is so popular, said Rosen, is that “kids have been raised on the concept of connection. To them, it’s not the quality that’s important, but the connection itself. Phone or face-to-face conversations allow for a minimal number of connections, while other tools let them connect to the world.”
In other words, the return on their investment is much higher when they communicate via platforms like texts, Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has more than 750 million active users (more than twice the U.S. population) and Twitter boasts more than 175 million tweeters.
Parents should have constant, open conversations with their kids about how they are using technology, Rosen says. They need to ask questions and listen without making judgments so kids feel comfortable discussing how they behave with other kids online. This could make children more cognizant that what they say online can hurt other people.
This point is especially important in light of the rise in cyberbullying. Unlike bullying at school, bullying online can happen at any time of day and can follow kids into previously safe spaces, like their homes or bedrooms. It also happens in front of much larger audiences, which can compound the amount of stress and anxiety kids feel.
Social media’s not all bad news, however. Because these platforms encourage communication, “social networks can also help kids to practice life behind a safety curtain,” Rosen said in an interview. They can share tidbits about themselves, practice being empathetic and interact with their friends without having to deal with other people’s reactions right away. For shy kids, this could be a real plus and a way to bring them out of their shells, he adds.
Courtesy:LA Times

Friday, 16 September 2011

More hospitals offering alternative therapy services in US

Alternative therapies, including meditation, relaxation training, homeopathy and chiropractic care, are being offered at more hospitals, mostly in response to patient requests, a survey finds.Growing numbers of U.S. hospitals, responding to patient demand, are integrating acupuncture, massage therapy and other alternative services into their conventional medical care, a new national survey shows.
Forty-two percent of hospitals in the survey said they offer one or more alternative therapies, including meditation, relaxation training, homeopathy and chiropractic care.
That's up from 37% of hospitals that said they offered such medical services in 2007.
The alternative options are provided mostly in outpatient settings and come primarily in response to patient requests.
"Hospitals have long known that what they do to treat and heal involves more than just medications and procedures," said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety at the American Hospital Assn. "It is about using all of the art and science of medicine to restore the patient as fully as possible."
The report is based on responses from 714 hospitals nationwide, or about 12% of nearly 6,000 facilities that were mailed surveys last year.
It was written by the Health Forum, a subsidiary of the national hospital association, and the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit research organization that investigates the role of "healing" practices in medical care. The Alexandria, Va., institute was founded by Henry Samueli, co-founder of Irvine-based Broadcom Corp., and his wife, Susan.
Among the survey's findings: 65% of hospitals said they offer alternative therapies for pain management. Massage therapy in particular is given to cancer patients to help alleviate pain and stress.
"Today's patients have better access to health information and are demanding more personalized care," said Sita Ananth, one of the study's authors and director of knowledge services for the Samueli Institute. "The survey results reinforce the fact that patients want the best that both conventional and alternative medicine can offer."
Courtesy:LA Times

Hypnosis and Medical Ethics in Germany

When Leo Alexander, the psychiatrist who served as advisor at the Nuremberg doctors’ trial, helped draft the articles of the Nuremberg code, his attention was drawn to two earlier episodes in German medical history. One of these occurred in 1931, when, following the deaths of 75 children in Lübeck by means of a contaminated TB vaccine, the Reich Health Council issued guidelines spelling out the principle of voluntary consent.
Galvanized by the Lübeck affair and others like it, prominent physician Julius Moses had publicly condemned the “experimental mania” in German medicine, and by the time it met to discuss Moses’ charges, the Health Council was responding to considerable public outrage. Noting widespread popular belief that experimentation served the interests of scientific knowledge rather than those of healing, Council members agreed on the necessity of clearly defining the boundaries of permissible human experimentation. Yet these boundaries were by no means self-evident to the Council.
In an effort to clarify the issue, Council member Alfons Stauder suggested that the distinction between experiments for therapeutic purposes and those purely for research purposes could be illustrated by reference to the practice of hypnosis. In the hands of a trained physician this method of treatment was invaluable, although it exercised such a “profound influence over the patient’s mental life” that it could only be used with due caution. Very different, Stauder continued, was the use of hypnosis by lay-practitioners, whether for the purpose of healing or for the sake of gratifying public interest in mysterious or unconscious forces. He stressed the danger such experiments posed and the disrepute such practices could bring to medicine.
On the face of it, Stauder’s illustration of the general problem addressed in this session by reference to hypnosis seems surprising, even bizarre. Why did hypnosis appear in these deliberations? And why was it seen as so transgressive? Closer examination shows that, however seemingly tangential to the controversies surrounding the Lübeck affair, Stauder’s comments allude to a wider history of debates concerning the ethical and professional boundaries of medicine, in which hypnosis figured as a recurring theme.
Another key moment in this history concerns an earlier scandal that erupted in 1898, when several people experimentally injected with serum from a syphilitic patient contracted the disease. One participant in the resulting controversy was Albert Moll, a specialist in neurology and hypnosis, whose book Medical Ethics (1902) Leo Alexander cited as a key source. Moll argued that this case was not an isolated one but indicative of wider abuses, including frequent instances of experimentation on patients in public hospitals. He identified several possible causes of such lapses: medical overspecialization and the resulting narrowness of doctors’ outlook; the growing knowledge-gap between doctors and patients as medicine was revolutionized by the natural scientific method; the greater prestige accorded research over treatment. He also suggested that physicians’ social status blinded them to the power differential between them and their often poor, under-age, or mentally handicapped patients. To prevent abuses, Moll suggested the need for a contract between physician and subject-patient spelling out, among other key issues, the principle of voluntary informed consent.
Not surprisingly, given his own professional interests, Moll referred often to hypnosis in his discussion of medical ethics. Indeed it is quite central to his treatment of the doctor-patient relationship. The opening pages of his text included a warning concerning the dangers of hypnosis at the hands of lay practitioners, illustrating these dangers by citing the case of a woman who had to be institutionalized following treatment by a Hungarian hypnotist. Though he regarded such occurrences as unusual, Moll conceded in his text Hypnotism (1898) that the hypnotized subject was in fact “completely devoid of a will of his own,” and reiterated this view in his book on medical ethics. In Moll’s eyes, the hypnotic procedure carried clear risks, involving not just its apparent ability to penetrate deeply into the subject-patient’s psyche, but, in effect, to turn the subject into an object. A corollary to this was the great power it placed in the doctor’s hands.
Hypnosis thus raised significant issues concerning the doctor-patient relationship. A precondition for the contract between doctor and patient, he wrote, was the existence of a relationship of trust: a consent given by the patient or patient’s guardian. This was precisely what hypnosis, by disabling the will and thus the very basis of voluntary consent, called into question. This special feature of the hypnotic procedure, therefore, was symptomatic of a larger problem plaguing modern medicine: that patients all too often were treated as objects -- a fact raising questions about “the so-called voluntary nature of the consent that patient-subjects gave their physician-researchers.” In touching here on the issue of physicians’ treatment of their patients, Moll linked the problem of ethical violations to larger questions of public trust. Absence of trust harmed hopes of medical progress both by hindering public health policies and by strengthening the popularity of alternative medicine.
Moll’s effort to find a middle ground between the patient’s interests and those of science initially found little resonance. Meanwhile, the critique of the natural scientific orientation in medicine spawned a lively medical counter-culture of alternative and esoteric healing, against which German doctors campaigned vigorously. This proved, however, no easy task, and became less so as a result of subsequent developments. During World War I, thousands of shell-shocked soldiers were treated with hypnosis. German military doctors’ discovery of its therapeutic properties gave hypnosis new validity. At the same time, the war amplified many of the issues that had surfaced in earlier debates. In some hands, the hypnotic treatment took on authoritarian features, making the patient’s submission to the physician’s absolute authority a part of the cure, and leading to conflicts between medical authorities and soldiers. Such conflicts were re-enacted in postwar films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), which portrayed the hypnotist as a figure of intense fear and fascination.
During the 1920s, debates about hypnosis proceeded along several tracks. On the one hand, many doctors incorporated it into their clinical practice. On the other, controversies persisted concerning its still poorly understood workings, benefits, and risks. Malpractice charges were not infrequently filed against the many unlicensed hypnotists who flourished in the war’s aftermath. The campaign against lay medicine, or quackery, continued throughout the Weimar period. At the same time, in the polarized political climate of this era, many politically conservative physicians cultivated an image of themselves as charismatic leaders, claiming the right to administer ambitious, and sometimes radical, solutions to many social problems. Moreover, doctors continued to resist encroachment on their prerogatives, resisting efforts to impose stricter guidelines on experimentation, claiming that - as opposed to the problem of quackery, where intervention was justified – prospects for scientific progress demanded complete freedom.
It was in this context that Julius Moses launched his attacks on the “experimental mania” in German medicine. In referring polemically to the Lübeck case as an instance of “medical quackery,” Moses challenged the claims of physicians like Alfons Stauder, the doctor who brought hypnosis into the 1930 Health Council deliberations, that German medicine stood on solid scientific foundations. Stauder was the head of two leading medical associations who had long used his position of influence to campaign against lay-healers. Convinced that his profession had adequate safeguards in place, Stauder argued that the worst abuses occurred in natural medicine circles. Nevertheless, in the outcry following the Lübeck affair, the Health Council issued new guidelines spelling out the limits of permissible experimentation and the principle of voluntary informed consent. These guidelines, however, had limited impact before the Nazis repudiated them in 1933. With the passage of laws legalizing involuntary sterilization of the mentally handicapped, the systematic violation of patient’s rights became institutionalized under the rapidly Nazified medical profession.
What conclusions may be drawn from this story about hypnosis and its place in the history of debates about medical ethics? Though the issues surrounding hypnosis do not warrant comparison with the Lübeck case or the crimes tried at Nuremberg, the persistence with which German doctors wrestled with them over a period of decades suggests that these issues touched a deep nerve in the medical community. Hypnosis represented a special category, one that threw several problems confronting the profession into relief. Debates about hypnosis exposed a general lack of clarity surrounding the boundaries between treatment and experiment, as well as the boundaries between science and non-science, in other areas of medicine. Perhaps more importantly, hypnosis raised significant questions concerning the relationship between doctor and patient. Efforts to establish this relationship, and the wider relation between medicine and public, on the basis of the principle of voluntary, informed consent proved, in the deeply fractured political climate of the early 1930s, short-lived. It would take the verdict of the Nuremberg doctors’ trial, and the subsequent efforts of the psychiatrist Leo Alexander, to establish this principle at the center of modern medical ethics.
Courtsey:Psychiatric Times

Erectile Dysfunction May Be Linked With Cardiovascular Trouble

Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and death, Chinese researchers suggest.
Although it is well accepted that cardiovascular disease is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction, it has not been clear whether erectile dysfunction is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the researchers noted.
"Erectile dysfunction significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the increase was probably independent of conventional risk factors," said lead researcher Dr. Li-Qiang Qin, from the department of nutrition and food hygiene in the School of Public Health at Soochow University in Suzhou.
As such, "erectile dysfunction may not only contribute to cardiovascular risk prediction, but also serve as a potential target for cardiovascular disease prevention," Qin said.
The report was published in the Sept. 13 online edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
For the study, Qin's team culled data on the relationship between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease from 12 studies published between 2005 and 2011 that included a total of 36,744 people and an average follow-up of 4 to 16.2 years. This process, called a meta-analysis, tries to pool data from several sources to tease out a pattern that might not be obvious in a single study.
The researchers found a significant association between erectile dysfunction and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, stroke and death.
In fact, men with erectile dysfunction had a 48 percent increased risk for cardiovascular disease, a 46 percent increased risk for heart disease, a 35 percent increased risk for stroke and a 19 percent increased risk of dying of any cause, compared to men without the condition.
Even after taking risk factors such as age, weight , blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and smoking into account, there was still a 54 percent increased risk for cardiovascular disease associated with erectile dysfunction alone. The reasons for this association are unclear, the researchers noted.
However, based on these findings, Qin's group now thinks erectile dysfunction is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and not just an early marker of the condition.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, noted that "erectile dysfunction impacts some million 18 million men in the United States."
Cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction share many common risk factors, including diabetes, obesity, smoking, hypertension and high cholesterol, he said.
"A number of prior individual studies have shown that men with erectile dysfunction are at increased risk for fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events," Fonarow said. "Men with erectile dysfunction should be aware of this significant increase in cardiovascular risk and take proactive steps to adopt a healthy lifestyle and better control their cardiovascular risk factors."
For more information on erectile dysfunction, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Chinese condoms too small for South Africans: report

A South African court has blocked the government from buying 11 million Chinese condoms, saying they are too small, a newspaper reported Friday.
The finance ministry had awarded a contract to a firm called Siqamba Medical, which planned to buy the Phoenurse condoms from China, the Beeld newspaper said.
A rival firm, Sekunjalo Investments Corporation, turned to the High Court in Pretoria after losing the bid, arguing that their condoms were 20 percent larger than the Chinese ones.
Judge Sulet Potterill blocked the deal with Siqamba, ruling that the condoms were too small, made from the wrong material, and were not approved by the World Health Organisation, the paper said.
South Africa has more HIV infections than any country in the world, with 5.38 million of its 50 million people carrying the virus.

Lady Dies Due to Severe Allergic Reaction to Mouthwash

A severe reaction to a mouthwash caused the death of an English woman during the course of her treatment for an infected tooth at a Brighton dental clinic.
Sacha Rumaner complained that she felt very hot and itchy after she rinsed her mouth with mouthwash Corsodyl.Just seconds later she fell to the floor after suffering an anaphylactic shock and died almost instantly.
Even though paramedics appeared in minutes they were unable to revive her.
Investigation is on to ascertain the reason behind such a severe reaction to the mouthwash.

Eating Apples Linked to Reduction in Stroke Risk

A new study published in the journal Stroke reveals that eating lots of fruits and vegetables that contain white flesh could reduce the risk of strokes by half.Eating fruits such as apples or bananas or vegetables such as cauliflower could reduce the risk of strokes by more than 52 percent.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Wageningen University in The Netherlands who found that a 25g increase in white flesh food items reduced the risk of strokes by 9 percent.
Lead researcher Linda Oude Griep admitted that they had not been able to find out the exact reason why the particular food items reduced the risk. “It is difficult to say which nutrients are responsible in white fruits and vegetables. We know that apples and pears are high in dietary fibre, but there may be other explanations”, she added.

For a Slimmer, Happier, Healthier You - Wake Up Early!

People who wake up early are slimmer, happier and healthier than those who get up later in the day, a new study has revealed.Researchers at the Roehampton University concluded that those who fight the urge to ignore the alarm clock complete morning chores faster, pack their children off to school earlier and thrive in the workplace.
However, night owls have a higher chance of feeling depressed or stressed and becoming overweight.
The researchers quizzed 1,068 adults about their health and sleeping habits and found that 'morning people' were out of bed by 6.58am on average, while 'evening people' waited until 8.54am to start their day.
At the weekend both groups enjoyed about an extra hour under the covers, with early risers waiting until 7.47am to get up and night owls lying in until 10.09am.
"There are morning people and evening people, and morning people tend to be healthier and happier as well as having lower body mass indices," the Telegraph quoted Dr Joerg Huber as telling a British Psychological Society conference.
The survey also found that people who watch a lot of television are more likely to skip breakfast.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Disinformation Campaign Against Homeopathy

Homeopathic medicine is at present one of the leading alternative therapies practiced by physicians in Europe (particularly France, Germany, UK and Italy) and Asia, especially on the Indian subcontinent (EU Commission, 1997; Prasad, 2007). Since homeopathy's development as a medical specialty in the early 1800s, it has been a leading alternative to orthodox medicine internationally, and it has posed an ongoing threat to the scientific, philosophical and economics of conventional medical care.
The homeopathic approach to healing maintains a deep respect for symptoms of illness as important defenses of a person's immune and defense system. While conventional medicine often tends to assume that symptoms are something "wrong" with the person that need to be treated, inhibited, suppressed or biochemically manipulated, homeopaths tend to assume that symptoms are important defenses of the organism that are most effectively resolved when treatments nurture, nourish or mimic the symptoms in order to initiate a healing process. Ultimately, these two different approaches to healing people have led to various conflicts.
It is common, for instance, for homeopaths to question the alleged "scientific" studies that conventional drugs are "effective" as treatments because of concern that many of these treatments tend to suppress symptoms or disrupt the complex inner ecology of the body and create much more serious illness. Just as opiate drugs of the 19th century gave the guise of healing, homeopaths contend that many modern-day drugs provide blessed short-term relief but create immune dysfunction, mental illness and other chronic disease processes in its wake. Further, the fact that most people today are prescribed multiple drugs concurrently, despite the fact that clinical research is rarely conducted showing the safety or efficacy of such practices, forces us all to question how scientific modern medicine truly is.
Homeopaths contend that increased rates of cancer, heart disease, chronic fatigue and various chronic diseases for increasingly younger people may result from conventional medicine's suppression of symptoms and disease processes. It is therefore no surprise that conventional physicians and Big Pharma have a long and dark history of working together to attack homeopathy and homeopaths.
The antagonism against homeopathy began when the highly-respected Saxon physician Samuel Hahnemann, M.D., first developed the system in the early 1800s. Hahnemann was a translator of leading medical and pharmacology texts and the author of the leading textbook used by pharmacists of his day.
Despite Hahnemann's high stature in medicine, pharmacology and chemistry, his strong critique of conventional medicine led to personal attacks against him by orthodox physicians as well as by the apothecaries (the drug makers of that time) who were philosophically and economically threatened by Hahnemann's work. When homeopathy arrived in America in 1825, it grew rapidly due to its widely-recognized success in treating infectious disease epidemics that raged in the early and mid-1800s. Then, when the American Institute of Homeopathy became the first national medical organization in 1844, a rival organization developed that proposed to stop the growth of homeopathy (Rothstein, 1985, p. 232). That organization called itself the American Medical Association, and this organization worked relentlessly to diminish the popularity and influence of this natural medicine.
Paul Starr's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "The Social Transformation of American Medicine," acknowledged the stature that homeopathy achieved in America in the mid-and later 19th century:
"Because homeopathy was simultaneously philosophical and experimental, it seemed to many people to be more rather than less scientific than orthodox medicine" (p. 97).
U.S. President William McKinley even dedicated a special monument to Dr. Hahnemann in Washington, D.C., in 1900, which still stands today as the only monument in America's capital to the deeds of a physician.
However, because of the economic, philosophical and scientific threat that the paradigm and practice of homeopathy represents, the vitriol and antagonism still exists. It is therefore enlightening to expose the disinformation that is spread about homeopathy and then understand who is leading this disinformation campaign (the second part of this article will name names and discuss two individuals, one from the U.S. and one from the UK, who are presently leaders in the campaign against homeopathy).
The Myths Spread about Homeopathy
Like other propagandists, the homeopathy deniers seek to create disinformation by using three straightforward techniques. First, the homeopathy deniers make a simple false accusation, a lie, and repeat it constantly and consistently in an attempt to make it a new "truth." Second, this repetition is then done within the context of some legitimizing element. In the case of the homeopathy deniers, that element is a corruption of normal science, an analysis of scientific evidence that creates reasons (excuses) to exclude high-quality studies that show positive results (even those studies that have been published in leading conventional medical journals), and a mis-use of the concept of skepticism. The homeopathy deniers ignore or downplay the substantial body of evidence from basic science and clinical research, from outcome studies, from cost-effectiveness studies and from epidemiological evidence, and only quote from those studies that verify their own point of view, rather than reviewing the entire body of evidence.
The third component of the technique is to sell the lie to a vulnerable population in an attempt to have repetition from that group. In the case of the homeopathy deniers, the vulnerable groups are often young students of science who are enamored with the language and elitism of their newly-learned craft, but who lack the deep understanding and experience to realize that they are being "used" by the deniers. The homeopathy deniers also play on the fears of those older and established scientists and physicians and who are led to believe that "if homeopathy is true, then everything about modern medicine and science is false." This over-simplification of reality is commonly repeated.
However, just as quantum physics does not "disprove" all of physics -- but, rather,extends our capability to understand and predict events on extremely small and extremely large systems -- likewise, homeopathy does not disprove all of modern pharmacology but extends our understanding of the use of extremely small doses of medicinal agents to elicit healing responses.
History is replete with orthodox medicine and science being steadfastly resistant to different systems of medicine and paradigms of healing. Although, the average physician and scientist tends to be threatened by new ideas, a common attribute of leading physicians and scientists is a certain openness and humility due to the common and even expected evolution of knowledge.
It should be acknowledged upfront that homeopathic practitioners, patients and users of these natural medicines are often surprised and amazed at the results they experience in the treatment of themselves, children, infants, animals and even plants. In my observations over the past 40 years, most people are skeptical about homeopathy until they try it and see for themselves ... and there are then good reasons that tens of millions of people all over the world use and rely upon these natural medicines for a wide range of acute and chronic ailments. That said, the challenge is not just trying homeopathy, but first learning something about it so you can use it correctly and effectively.
Sadly, however, the homeopathy deniers tend to spread disinformation about homeopathy, including the following myths:
Myth #1: "There is no research that shows that homeopathic medicines work."
Such statements are a creative use of statistics, or what might be called "lies, damn lies and statistics." Actually, most clinical research studies conducted with homeopathic medicines show a positive outcome. However, if "creative statisticians" evaluate only the smaller number of large studies, a positive result is less likely, not because homeopathy doesn't work, but because these larger studies tend to dispense only one homeopathic medicine for everyone in the study, without any degree of individualized treatment that is typical of the homeopathic method (1). To claim that homeopathic medicines do not work using only these studies is as illogical as to say that antibiotics are ineffective just because they do not cure for every viral, fungal or bacterial infection.

Myth #2:
"The research studies showing that homeopathic medicines work are 'poorly conducted studies.'"
Wrong! Studies showing the efficacy of homeopathic medicines have been published in the Lancet, the British Medical Journal, Pediatrics, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, Cochrane Reports, Chest (the publication of the British Society of Rheumatology), Cancer (the journal of the American Cancer Society), Journal of Clinical Oncology (journal of the Society of Clinical Oncology), Human Toxicology, European Journal of Pediatrics, Archives in Facial Plastic Surgery, Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and many more (2). All of these studies were randomized, double-blind and placebo controlled. Further, because of bias against homeopathy, these studies have been scrutinized rigorously, perhaps even more rigorously than is usual.
The weak response from the homeopathy deniers is that the above studies are "cherry-picked." Well, it seems that there are a lot of "cherries" (clinical studies that verify the efficacy of homeopathic medicines). Also, numerous of the above leading medical journals have published meta-analyzes of clinical trials on specific diseases and have shown that homeopathic medicines have significantly more benefits than does a placebo. And further, the deniers erroneously equate the "negative" studies as evidence that the whole system of homeopathy does not work when, in fact, these studies are usually of a preliminary nature that explored the use of one or a small handful of remedies for a specific condition.
Ironically, the one review of research that the homeopathic deniers most commonly assert as strong evidence that there's no difference between homeopathic medicines and placebo (Shang et al, 2005) has been shown to be bad or certainly inadequate science (Walach, et al, 2005; Fisher, 2006; Rutten, 2009, Rutten and Stolper, 2008; Lüdtke and Rutten, 2008).

Myth #3:
"12C is like one drop in the entire Atlantic Ocean."
Pure fantasy (and fuzzy math)! In fact, the 12C dose requires 12 test tubes, and 1 percent of the solution is drawn from each of the 12 test tubes. It is also very typical for the "deniers" of homeopathy to assert with a straight face that the making of a single homeopathic medicine requires more water than exists on the planet. It seems that the skeptics are so fundamentalist in their point of view that they consciously or unconsciously mis-assume that the dilutions used in homeopathy grow proportionately with each dilution; they assume that each dilution requires 10 or 100 times more water with each dilution -- which they don't, and even the most elementary articles and books on homeopathy affirm this fact. Sadly (and strangely), most of the skeptics of homeopathy seem to read each other's misinformation on homeopathy and have a propensity to spin the reality of what homeopathy is in ways that misconstrue it.
Myth #4: "There is nothing in a homeopathic medicine. It is just water."
Ignorance and direct disinformation. First, a large number of homeopathic medicines that are sold in health food stores and pharmacies are what are called "low potencies," that is, small or very small doses of medicines, most of which are in a similar dose to which certain powerful hormones and immune cells circulate in our body. Second, using samples of six different medicines made from minerals, scientists at the Department of Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology have consistently confirmed that the starting substance is still present in the form of nanoparticles of the starting minerals even when the medicine has undergone hundreds of serial dilutions -- with vigorous shaking in between each dilution, as per the homeopathic method (Chikramane, Suresh, Bellare, 2010) (3). Further, leading chemistry and physics journals have published other research to confirm that there are differences between water and "homeopathic water" (Elia and Niccoli, 1999; Elia, Napoli, Niccoli, et al, 2008; Rey, 2003)
Myth #5: "If we do not presently understand how homeopathic medicines work, then, they cannot work. It's witchcraft."
Lame on face value. How many more times in history do scientists and others need before they realize that we do not understand a lot of nature's mysteries, but our lack of understanding does not mean that the mysteries are not real. Calling homeopathy "witchcraft" clearly is someone's fear of what they do not know or understand, and a common observation from history is that whenever one goes on a witchhunt, a witch is found (one way or another). The fact that there is a small but significant body of basic sciences research that has shown physical and biological effects from homeopathic medicines tends to be ignored (Endler, Thieves, Reich, et al 2010; Witt, Bluth, Albrecht, et al, 2007). To publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals is not a common practice from witches (or warlocks).
Dr. Karol Sikora is a respected oncologist and dean of the University of Buckingham medical school in England. Sikora has expressed serious concern about the "Stalinist repression" that certain skeptics of homeopathic and alternative medicines engage (Sikora, 2009). Sikora has harshly criticized "armchair physicians" and others who seem to have little or no experience in using these treatments with real patients.
One other critical piece of evidence to show and even prove the unscientific attitude of the homeopathy deniers is that they now wish to close off all discussion of the efficacy of homeopathic medicines (Baum and Ernst, 2009). These medical fundamentalists actually discourage keeping an open mind about homeopathy. One must question this unscientific attitude that select antagonists to homeopathy embody, and one must even wonder why they maintain such a position.
The second part of this article will provide further specific evidence of the unscientific attitude and actions from those individuals and organizations who are leading the campaign against homeopathy. A leading antagonist to homeopathy from the U.S. and another from the UK will be discussed in order to shed light on this important debate in health care. Stay tuned to find out who they are and why they maintain their point of view.


(1) Although individualization of treatment is one of the hallmarks of the homeopathic method, there are exceptions to this common rule. For instance, there have been four large randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled studies that have shown that homeopathic Oscillococcinum is effective in treating people with influenza or influenza-like syndrome (Vickers and Smith, 2006).

(2) References to these and other studies can be found in the following article: The Case FOR Homeopathic Medicine: Historical and Scientific Evidence --
(3) Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction by Selected Area Electron Diffraction (SAED), and chemical analysis by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectroscopy.

Baum M, Ernst E. Should we maintain an open mind about homeopathy? American Journal of Medicine. 122,11: November 2009. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2009/03.038.
Chikramane PS, Suresh AK, Bellare JR, and Govind S. Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective. Homeopathy. Volume 99, Issue 4, October 2010, 231-242.

Elia V, and Niccoli M. Thermodynamics of Extremely Diluted Aqueous Solutions, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 879, 1999:241-248.
Elia V, Napoli E, Niccoli M, Marchettini N, Tiezzi E(2008). New Physico-Chemical Properties of Extremely Dilute Solutions. A Conductivity Study at 25 °C in Relation to Ageing. Journal of Solution Chemistry, 37:85-96.
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Dana Ullman
Evidence based Homeopath

Tooth Regeneration: A Reality of Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering

Modern trends in biomedical-engineering have arrived at what could have been thought to be the impossible few decades back. With the advances in Stem Cell research and medical bioengineering, waiting for a donor for an organ replacement would soon become history.
Currently, a donor organ becomes a necessity as it is considered to be the only common approach to the replacement of a dysfunctional, missing or diseased organ. But there have been new researches towards the synthesis or in other words regeneration of organs into functional mature organs using three-dimensional tissue engineering including biodegradable materials as well different as cell types. While this is the ultimate aim of regenerative tissue engineering, a lot of work still needs to be done to achieve this goal.
As an addition to the progress in organ regenerative therapy, one can now have a new tooth regenerated in the area of the missing tooth. This possibility has been clearly demonstrated in a recently concluded research conducted at the Research Institute of Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science. The team of researchers headed by Dr. Masamitsu Oshima demonstrated, in a first of its kind of research, the successful integration and function of an entire regenerated tooth unit. The tooth unit refers to the mature tooth, the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone which were successfully integrated into a hole in the lower jaw of a murine animal.
The entire tooth unit acts as a functional organ. The tooth is actively involved in chewing and masticatory functions while maintaining the balance and harmony of the jaw movements. The periodontal ligament surrounding the tooth maintains the vitality of the tooth and its surrounding structures and the alveolar bone refers to the bony socket structure which holds the tooth and the ligament in to the jaw bone.
Loss of a tooth can lead to functional and aesthetic problems such as loss of masticatory functions, problems in the tempro-mandibular joint and tilted or rotated surrounding teeth. One is aware of the already available alternatives to tooth replacement including dentures, bridges to implants. But those who have received any one of these prosthesis can certainly vouch for the fact that one cannot expect any responsiveness to noxious stimuli from them nor can they maintain any physiological well being of the surrounding tissues or structures.
The regenerated tooth unit from a tooth germ, on the other hand, has been proven by the Masamitsu and co- researchers in a new study, to respond to the noxious stimuli, maintain the physiological functions such as chewing, mastication and occlusion and even carry out the repair and regeneration processes in the surrounding recipient oral environment. In the near future, once a tooth is extracted it will be possible to have it regenerated. This will be major game changer in dentalcare. It will be like not having lost the tooth at all!

Breast cancer: Detected cases of "silent killer" on the rise

Diagnosed cases of breast cancer rose by 260 percent and those of cervical cancer by 20 percent from 1980 to 2010, with the biggest hikes occurring in developing countries, according to global estimates reported on Thursday in The Lancet.
Identified cases of breast cancer around the world rose from around 640,000 in 1980, when 65 percent occurred in rich countries, to 1.6 million in 2010, of which 51 percent were among women in developing nations.
Incidence of cervical cancer increased from 378,000 annually to 454,000 during this period, according to the survey of 187 countries.
Breast cancer killed 425,000 women in 2010, of whom 68,000 were aged 15 to 49 in developing countries.
Mortality from cervical cancer has been declining, but still killed 200,000 last year, 46,000 of them women aged 15-49 in the poorer economies.
The rise in incidence stems in part from better diagnosis but also from ageing, as a bulge in the world's population reaches the age when the risk of cancer increases.
The analysis is compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

GE to invest $1 billion in cancer research

US industrial conglomerate General Electric said on Thursday that it would invest $1 billion in cancer research over the next five years.
GE chief executive Jeff Immelt and several venture capital partners launched the initiative, which will be aimed at improving diagnostic techniques for breast cancer, the company said in a statement.
The investment will go toward research and development into technologies and solutions for cancer detection and treatment, beginning with breast cancer, GE said.
GE and its partners also announced a $100 million "global open innovation challenge" to provide grants to researchers who develop promising early-detection techniques.
The contest will focus on triple negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive kind of breast cancer which is less responsive to standard treatments than other forms of the disease.
The winners will be announced in the first quarter of 2012 after selection by a jury that includes top cancer scientists as well as representatives of GE and its financial partners, the company said.
"We envision a day when cancer is no longer a deadly disease," Immelt said in the statement.
"When you add our cutting edge cancer detection technologies to the innovative ideas of our new partners, it's a powerful formula for tackling cancer and helping doctors and researchers improve care."
GE's partners in the initiative include top venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as well as Venrock, Mohr Davidow and MPM Capital.

Madras HC quashes ban on PPA, verdict on nimesulide yet to come

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA), one of the six drugs banned by the Union health ministry early this year for its adverse effects, can now be manufactured and marketed by the pharma companies in the country as the Madras High Court has quashed the ban on PPA.
Delivering its final judgment on September 9 on a writ petition filed by drug major Cipla Ltd, the Madras High Court has quashed the Union health ministry's notification dated February 10, 2011, insofar as Phenylpropanolamine is concerned. In the notification, the ministry had banned six of the most controversial drugs--- nimesulide (below 12 years age), cisapride, PPA, human placenta extracts, sibutramine & its formulations and R-sibutramine & its formulations.
Cipla had filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court on March 23 this year, praying to allow the company to manufacture and market PPA. But, the court merged the Cipla case with that of a similar case filed by manufacturers association Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical Industries (CIPI) and after hearing the parties, the court in its interim order stayed the entire notification of the ministry (GSR 82 E) dated February 10, 2011.
In yet another case filed by Unichem Laboratories for marketing nimesulide (below 12 years age), the court is yet to deliver the final judgment.
In the gazette notification dated February 10, the ministry had banned these controversial drugs for their adverse effects on human health. The ministry's decision was based on the recommendations of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) and its recommendations are normally followed by the ministry. Earlier, the DCGI had brought these controversial drugs under the radar of the DTAB in the wake of serious concern raised by the medical experts in the country over their side-effects.

Right Living Through Detoxification

Of all the giants of natural healing, Dr. Bernard Jensen stands head and shoulders with the greatest of them all.
As a young man, Jensen was sickly and weak. He came very close to death several times in his life from his many debilitating ailments. Discouraged by allopathic medicine's failure to help him regain his health, he began to investigate the principles of natural healing and applied them to his own life.
When he discovered fasting, Jensen began to regain his vigor and soon found himself well and whole. This dramatic cure, convinced Jensen that the secret to wellness and good health was detoxification. As a result, Jensen devoted his life to helping patients who were declared "incorrigible, terminal and chronic" to achieve radiant health through fasting and detoxification of the bowel.
He obtained his D.C. from the West Coast Chiropractic College in 1929 and enjoyed a career spanning many decades, well into the 90s. He studied with pioneers of naturopathy like Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, yes, that Kellogg, and Dr. Bernard Lust, M.D. whose sanitarium in Butler, N.J. was world famous for natural cures.
In those years of intensive practice and study, Jensen mastered the art of iridology, using the iris of the eye to discern and diagnose illness. Before he graduated from the American School of Naturopathy, he drew 500 eyes in color, showing the many forms of anomalies detected through the use of iridology. He became a master of the art and lectured worldwide on the use of iridology in natural healing. He taught iridology at colleges in both New Jersey and New York.
Jensen's philosophy of healing was a simple one: "Right living, good food, and an elimination and detoxification program." He almost always started with detoxification, since he believed that the body needed to be free of poisons and waste before true healing could take place.
He used elimination diets, the reversal process and the healing crisis to cure his patients and reverse many diseases, including tuberculosis and diabetes. The terrible skin nemesis, psoriasis, disappeared time after time under his care.
His Hidden Valley Clinic in California treated thousands of sufferers with tremendous success, using only natural means. Many patients of mine have rallied after a course of his "vital broth," a brew so potent it restores in a matter of days.
Jensen was a dire foe of constipation and worked tirelessly to teach people how to keep the colon and ailimentary tract functioning properly and smoothly. He believed death began in the colon, reasoning that when one is constipated, toxins are circulating throughout the body, wreaking havoc on health and well being. Anyone who is chronically constipated knows this is true. Jensen was a gentle and kindly man, who treated many cases without charge. He remained vigorous into his eighties and wrote many wonderful books on healing naturally. They are easy to read and full of wonderful information on getting well and staying well. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, naturally.
About this column: Dr. Yvonne Kleine is a Naturopath and Ph.D. Nutritionist who lives in Bayport. Send in your questions about alternative health practices to

Milk-drinking Teens Grow Into Healthy Adults With Lower Diabetes Risk

New research suggests developing healthy habits like drinking milk as a teen could have a long-term effect on a woman's risk for type 2 diabetes. The research appears in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1).Researchers found that milk-drinking teens, were also likely to be milk-drinking adults – a lifelong habit that was associated with a 43 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes compared to non-milk drinkers. Diabetes affects more than 25.8 million people, or nearly 1 out of 10 Americans.
The Harvard University study studied teenage and adult food intake patterns (including milk and milk products) and health risk in more than 37,000 women. Researchers found the women who drank the most milk as adults and consumed the most milk products in their teen years (about 4 servings per day) had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who consistently had a low dairy intake (about 1 serving per day during the teen years). The milk-drinking teens were also more likely to maintain their dairy habit through adulthood and gained less weight over time – nearly 4 pounds less than milk-skippers. Weight gain is another important risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
A second large Harvard study reinforced the lifelong benefits of milk – particularly as a protein source. Studying more than 440,000 adults, researchers found that swapping lowfat dairy for meat as a protein source, could reduce risk for type 2 diabetes by 17%. (2)

Aussies are Highest Spenders for Medications

A new survey conducted by a group of Australian researchers has found that the country is one of the highest spenders in the world when it comes to buying medicines, including prescription drugs.
The survey was carried out by researchers at The University of Western Australia who looked into annual expenses spent by the common man among 14 countries associated with OECD and found that the money spent on prescription drugs shot up from $19 in 1991 to $62 in 2005.
On an average, Australians spend around $84 annually on prescription drugs with Finland being the costliest country among those with universal pharmaceutical subsidy schemes with an annual expense of $120. However in United States and Canada, two countries where there are no universal subsidy schemes, the people spend more than $487 and $262 respectively.
“We understand this is a massive area of health expenditure and everyone is trying to work out what the community can afford and what patients can afford, but we are worried that the balance has tipped now to the point that its hurting patients”, lead researcher Dr Anna Kemp said.

Apple Juice in a Bit of a Soup Over Alleged Arsenic Content

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the well-known host of “The Dr. Oz Show," on Fox 5, has warned consumers about the presence of arsenic in apple juice.
On his show, he also took the FDA by its horns wondering how the watch dog has done precious little to restrict the level of arsenic in the apple juice.Dr. Oz explained that nearly 70% of the apple juice in the U.S. is made from apples coming from china where arsenic-based pesticides are employed.
The FDA has shot back saying that the level of arsenic found in apple juice is negligible and therefore there is no cause for concern.
"It's just so minute and there's no evidence of arsenic in apple juice or seeds. Even if there was enough in processing it wouldn't be enough to cause harm."

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

World's oldest-living conjoined twins turn 50

The world's oldest living conjoined twins have defied doctors' predictions and are set to celebrate their 50th birthday this Sunday.
George and Lori Schappell, who are joined at the head, are marking the landmark birthday with a trip to London.
Remarkably, the Siamese twins are able to live very different and separate lives, with Lori having had relationships and George - who was originally named Dori - deciding to live life as a man.
Lori is also a champion ten-pin bowler and George performs as a country and western singer."When we were born, the doctors didn't think we'd make 30, but we proved them wrong," the Daily Mail quoted Lori as saying.
"We have learned so much in the last 50 years and will continue living life to the full," she added.
While Lori, who is 5ft 1in, was born able-bodied, 4ft 4in George suffers from spina bifida, which has caused severe mobility problems.
The twins, from Pennsylvania in America, were born sharing 30 per cent of their frontal lobe brain tissue and critical blood vessels, meaning they cannot be separated. (ANI)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Brand adulteration hits Kalari on its vital spot

Renowned for various defensive and offensive powers, Kalari and its allied branch of treatment, Marma, is widely used for the treatment of various ailments.
The major curative power of Marma chikitsa lies in healing the defects of marmas (sensitive spots in the body). Ashtangahridayam, the last word in Ayurveda treatment, refers to 107 such marmas in the human body.It is ideal for treatment of bones, discs, joint disorders, rejuvenation of nerves and blood circulation. In the modern era, this method is best used for curing cervical spondylitis, say experts. “I’ve cured some patients in a serious condition who were written off by well-known hospitals,” says noted Kalari expert Sudhakaran Gurukkal of Edakkad C V N Kalari.
There are several patients who fly down from the West to consult Gurukkal. 70-year-old Gordon Fleming from Italy, a patient of Gurukkal, is one of them. He was suffering intense pain in his right ankle, which got stiff. “Doctors there termed his illness a natural problem with aging. He couldn’t walk or climb staircases,” Gurukkal recalls. However, a few weeks after marma treatment, Fleming went back a happy man.
“After the treatment, he could even climb a four-story building with no trouble”, Gurukkal confirms.Marma chikitsa is not an internal medicine. On the contrary, it’s about assisting the body to cure itself.
Babu Vaidyar, who runs a treatment centre at Kalpetta, said massage was an integral part of the treatment, which strengthens muscles and restores blood circulation.
“It totally rejuvenates the entire system. Soft massage is done using the hands, while hard massage is done with the legs. Leg massage is generally done to correct body stiffness,” Vaidyar said.Many foreigners come to the state to learn Kalari, to start Kalari centers in their own countries. Meanwhile, traditional practitioners are worried that Kerala’s pristine martial arts form is now being diluted.
For fast bucks, fake practitioners in North India, where Kalari is less known, are packaging the curative properties of Kalari and Marma.
Curative powers of Marma Chikitsa
* The major curative power of Marma chikitsa lies in healing the defects of marmas (sensitive spots in the body) by assisting the body to cure itself.
* Ashtangahridayam, the last word in Ayurveda treatment, refers to 107 such marmas.
* It is ideal for treatment of bones, discs, joint disorders, rejuvenation of nerves and blood circulation.
Courtesy:Deccan Chronicle

Doctors slam alternative medicine proposal

Some medical groups are concerned that proposed guidelines on how Ontario doctors should approach alternative medicine may require physicians to accept and incorporate the practice.
"We believe the draft policy should be revised to sharpen its focus, and should respect the conviction of many physicians and clinical researchers, that [alternative medicine] has minimal scientific validity and that recommending it to patients achieves no clinical purpose and may be unethical," the Canadian Medical Association says in a written letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).
The Ontario college is currently taking submissions from the public and organizations about its draft policy guidelines for physicians regarding how they should handle alternative medicine.In the proposed guidelines, the college differentiates between allopathic medicine (traditional or conventional medicine taught in medical schools) and non-allopathic therapies (complementary or alternative medicine).
The goal of the proposal "is to prevent unsafe or ineffective non-allopathic therapies from being provided by physicians, and to prohibit unprofessional or unethical physician conduct in relation to these therapies," the college said.The guidelines, if approved, would prohibit doctors from misrepresenting the benefits of alternative medicine, the college said, but it stressed it had no intention of depriving patients of alternative medicine therapies "that are safe and effective."Groups worry about doctors' role in proposalHowever, a number of medical professional organizations feel the proposed guidelines may give alternative medicine scientific legitimacy. They also worry the proposals place an expectation on doctors to have knowledge of alternative medicine and promote its use.
"It is a matter of concern for us, that CPSO’s draft policy appears to require of physicians a high level of knowledge regarding [alternative medicine], and a high level of acceptance for its routine incorporation into practice," the CMA said."We find it disturbing that the college would not discourage physicians from selling products to patients, and/or entering into affiliation with an alternative clinic or therapy, particularly in light of our concern as to whether [alternative medicine] represents valid scientific medicine."The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology expressed similar concerns, and said the draft policy falls "far short" of its goal to prevent unsafe or ineffective alternative therapies from being provided by physicians.It urged the college to revise the draft and "seriously consider adopting a more appropriate evidence-based stance against the use of unproven or ineffective therapies by licensed physicians."It said the college has suggested a false equivalence between conventional and non-conventional medical approaches, "resulting in tremendous ambiguity completely open to misinterpretation."
"We believe the standard of care in this evidence-based, scientific era should and must be high, and that the CPSO draft policy as worded would offer a disservice to both their member physicians and the public interest they are mandated to protect."
They say the draft appears to largely ignore the "potential harm to patients by promoting an unproven and likely ineffective option over an effective, scientifically established convential medical therapy."The British Columbia Medical Association said the draft policy requires "major changes" to reflect that the "products, interventions, diagnostic techniques and assessments of alternative medicine are not generally accepted by the scientific community" and that "ethical challenges" arise when physicians form professional affiliations with alternative producers.
"Alternative medicine should never be misrepresented to the public as genuine medical therapies," it said.
Some organizations also take issue with the fact that policy refers to conventional medicine as allopathic, and alternative medicine as non-allopathic.

'Obvious distaste and disapproval'

The CMA said allopathy is a term that originated from homeopathic practice, and is often used "in a derogatory sense" and is an inaccurate way to describe modern medicine.
But the policy has also drawn criticism from organizations that support alternative medicine treatments, saying the guidelines actually give short shrift to the practice.
The National ME/FM Action Network, devoted to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, said the policy reveals that the CPSO has "obvious distaste and disapproval" for alternative medicine therapies and places a "chill" on the profession.
The Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy - Naturopathy (BDDT-N) said the document suggests allopathic medicine is supported by evidence and non-allopathic medicine generally is not.
"This is clearly not the case as there is documented evidence in support of many of the 'non-allopathic' therapies and at the same time there are many treatments used in 'allopathic' medicine that are not supported by evidence," it said.
However, the College of Naturopaths of Ontario said it generally supports the policy, although CPSO should consider removing "non-conventional" as a description of the practice and that it should strengthen the recommendation that physicians develop relationships with non-allopathic providers.
Source:CBC News

In US Number of poor hit record 46 million in 2010

The U.S. poverty rate hit its highest level since 1993 last year with a record 46 million Americans living below the poverty line, according to a government report on Tuesday that depicted the grim effects of stubbornly high unemployment.
Underscoring the economic challenges that face President Barack Obama and Congress, the U.S. Census Bureau said the poverty rate rose for a third consecutive year to hit 15.1 percent in 2010. The number in poverty was the largest since the government first began publishing estimates in 1959.
The United States has the highest poverty rate among developed countries, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The poverty line for an American family of four with two children is an income $22,113 a year.
The data showed that children under 18 suffered the highest poverty rate, 22 percent, compared with adults and the elderly.
In a sign of decline for middle-income Americans, the figures showed continued decline in the number of Americans with employer-provided health insurance, while the ranks of the uninsured hovered just below the 50 million mark.
Underlying the Census data was a rate of economic growth too meager to compensate for the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs from 2009 to 2010, as the recession officially ended but the jobless rate shot up from 9.3 percent to 9.6 percent.
"All of this deterioration in the labor market caused incomes to drop, poverty to rise and people to lose their health insurance," said Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute think tank. "One of the immediately obvious issues this brings up is that there is no relief in sight."The numbers would have been worse, analysts said, but for government assistance programs including extended unemployment compensation, stimulus spending and Obama's health reforms, which appeared to reduce the number of uninsured young adults.
Salvation Army Major David Harvey knows well the effects of grinding poverty on Chicago's South Side, where he attended a food giveaway on Tuesday.
"There are more families falling into poverty," he said. "That's multiplied on the South Side of Chicago where there are pockets with 20 percent, or more, unemployment."
"You've got people crying for jobs. They move out of state to get jobs because employers are leaving because of the tax increases here," Harvey said.
The Census report coincides with Obama's push for a $450 billion job creation package, and deliberations by a congressional "super committee" tasked with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the U.S. budget deficit over 10 years.
Faced with deteriorating job approval ratings, the president is trying to convince Republicans in Congress to support his package.
Analysts said poverty-related issues have relatively little hold on politicians in Washington but hoped the new figures would encourage the bipartisan super committee to avoid deficit cuts that would hurt the poor.
The poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic whites, blacks and Hispanics but did not differ significantly for Asians. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 54 percent of the poor with whites at 9.9 percent and Asians at 12.1 percent.
The South fared worst among U.S. regions, recording the highest poverty rate, a significant drop in median income and the largest number of residents without health insurance.
The administration was quick to seize on data showing a 2.1 percent drop in uninsured young adults, aged 18 to 24, as evidence that families were benefiting from an Obama healthcare reform that allows parents to extend their coverage to children as old as 25.
The Affordable Care Act is the centerpiece of Obama's domestic policy agenda but has come under fierce attack from Republicans including presidential candidates who hope to challenge the president in the 2012 general election.
"We expect even more will gain coverage in 2011 when the policy is fully phased in," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a blog posting.
Analysts agreed. "That almost certainly is coverage from mom or dad because this is an age group that obviously has been having trouble getting a job and because they're young, they're probably less likely to be getting jobs that also include health insurance," said Joseph Antos of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
The United States has long had one of the highest poverty rates in the developed world. Among 34 countries tracked by OECD, only Chile, Israel and Mexico have higher rates of poverty.

Older pills often safer; many think new is better

Many consumers mistakenly believe new prescription drugs are always safer than those with long track records, and that only extremely effective drugs without major side effects win government approval, according to a new study.
A national survey of nearly 3,000 adults finds that about 4 in 10 wrongly believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves only "extremely effective" drugs. One in 4 mistakenly believes the FDA allows only drugs that don't have serious side effects.
That means consumers "may not get the benefit from drugs they think they're getting, or they may expose themselves to more harm than they think" said study co-author Dr. Steven Woloshin of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the VA Outcomes Group
In truth, the FDA approves a new drug when its benefits outweigh any known risks. FDA approval doesn't mean the drug's benefits are large compared to drugs already on the market. And risks for some drugs appear only after they've been used by millions of people and long after FDA approval. For instance, Merck & Co. withdrew the FDA-approved arthritis pill Vioxx after its heart risks surfaced.
The new survey, appearing in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, revealed a partial solution to consumer confusion: Simply worded cautions can make a difference in which drugs people choose.
To test that idea, the researchers dreamed up two fictional drugs for heart disease and two for heartburn. The survey posed a question: Which drug would you choose?
Participants were told both heart disease drugs were free and both lowered cholesterol, but only one was known to reduce heart attacks.
Seventy-one percent of people chose the better drug that reduced heart attacks, when they were reminded in a warning the other one only lowered cholesterol levels. "It is not known whether it will help patients feel better or live longer," the warning said. Fewer people, 59 percent, made the better choice when they weren't given the added caution.
The make-believe heartburn drugs worked equally well and were free, consumers were told. The difference? One was approved by the FDA in 2009, the other in 2001.
This time, 53 percent chose the older drug when given a warning about the newer one. The caution said: "As with all new drugs, rare but serious side effects may emerge after the drug is on the market — when larger numbers of people have used the drug."
Fewer people, 34 percent, chose the older — and perhaps safer — drug when they didn't get that warning.
"One of the reasons doctors tend to prescribe newer, expensive drugs is there's a widespread perception that newer is better," said Dr. Michael Steinman of San Francisco VA Medical Center, who wrote a commentary about the study in the journal. "That's sometimes true, but many times it's not true. So much of what doctors learn about new drugs is somehow affected by drug company marketing."
The survey was conducted in 2009 by the Internet research firm Knowledge Networks, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. Participants were recruited using telephone and mail sampling and given free Internet access if they needed it.
Woloshin said simple cautions would help doctors, too, and should be part of drug advertising and labeling. He and co-author Dr. Lisa Schwartz have been working with the FDA to improve its guidance to drug makers on writing labels, he said.
They also are promoting the idea of drug fact boxes, similar to the nutrition fact boxes on packaged foods. The fact boxes, written in plain English, would tell consumers how well a drug works compared to other drugs and include side effects.
Last year's national health care law required the Department of Health and Human Services to report to Congress on the evidence for drug fact boxes. The department's report said it needed at least three more years to study the idea.
Drug fact boxes could help consumers and doctors, Steinman said, and patients can question their doctors about prescriptions. He suggested these questions for starters: "Is this drug recommended by the guidelines for my disease? Is there a drug that's equally effective but has a longer track record of safety? Has this drug been shown to help people like me live longer or feel better?"

Health ministry plans to notify Schedule Y1 after NHRC sends notice about trial-related deaths

With the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) suo motu taking up the issue of deaths happening during the course of clinical trials in the country, the drug control authorities want to officially notify the proposed Schedule Y1 to streamline the sector at the earliest.
After the draft notification was issued in January 11, the Health Ministry now wants to finalise it by accommodating relevant suggestions from the stakeholders in the wake of recent controversy about the number of deaths happened during the clinical trials.
Meanwhile, sources said the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) office and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) who were served with notices by the NHRC were seized of the matter and are in the process of filing the detailed reports to the human rights body.
According to official version about the incidents, “The death of a subject enrolled in the clinical trials may occur during the trial due to various reasons. These could be disease related deaths like cancer or other serious diseases, administration to critical, and terminally ill patients, side-effects or other unrelated causes. Such deaths are investigated for causal relationship to the study trial.”
As many as 22 cases of trial-related deaths were reported in the year 2010. The sponsors/clinical research organisations (CROs) involved in the clinical trials in 2010 were directed by the DCGI in April to provide compensation to the dependents of the deceased. The concerned Ethics Committees were also requested to review the above death cases and recommend payment of compensation, sources said.
“It is proposed to further strengthen the regulations relating to clinical trials by making specific provisions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules for providing financial compensation to trial subjects in case of trial related injury or death. The responsibilities of Ethics Committee, Sponsor & Investigator are also proposed to be enhanced to ensure that financial compensation as well as medical care are provided to trial subjects who suffer trial related injuries or deaths. The format for obtaining informed consent of trial subjects is also proposed to be amended to include the details of address, occupation, annual income of the subject so as to have information regarding socio-economic status of trial subjects,” sources said.
According to the list prepared by the authorities, a total 161 cases of deaths were already reported during the course of trials during January and June this year itself. As many as 668 deaths happened during 2010 and 637 during 2009.
Amgen, Bayer, Bharat Serums, Boehringer Ingelheim, Catayst, CD Pharma, Dr Reddy’s, Excel Life Science, Frensenius Kabi, GSK, Icon, Inc GVK Bio, Invida, J & J, Jubilant Clinsys, Lambda Therapeutic, LG Life Sciences, Manipal Acunova, Max Neeman, Merck Specialties, MSD, NIMR of New Delhi, Novartis, Parexel, Pfier, Piramal Life Sciences, PPD, Quintiles, Sanofi Aventis, SIRO Clinpharma Pvt Ltd, Spectrum, Sristek of Hyderabad, St. John National Academy of Health Sciences, Sun Pharma and the George Institute are the 35 sponsors/CROs that reported 161 deaths during trials this year so far. During 2010, 668 cases were reported by 44 companies while 50 companies were involved in such cases during 2009, as per the official list with health ministry.

The compensation paid so far on account of trial related deaths in 22 cases.

Sr. No Sponsor/CRO’s Investigational Product (IP) Compensation

1 Merck Safinamide Rs. 1,50,000/-

2 Wyeth Temsirolimus Rs. 1,50,000/-

3 Quintiles MLN0002/Placebo Rs. 3,00,000/-

4 Quintiles BI 1744/Trial Procedure Rs. 3,00,000/-

5 Lilly H3E-MC-JMHR Rs. 1,08,000/-

6 Lilly H3E-EW-S124 Rs. 2,00,000/-

7 Lilly Pemetrexed Rs. 2,00,000/-

8 Bayer Rivaroxaban/ Placebo/Warfarin Rs. 2,50,000/-

9 Bayer Rivaroxaban Rs. 2,50,000/-

10 Bayer Clexane/Placebo Rs. 2,50,000/-

11 Bayer Rivaroxaban Rs. 2,50,000/-

12 Bayer Rivaroxaban Rs. 2,50,000/-

13 Amgen AMG-706 Rs. 1,50,000/-

14 Amgen AMG-479/AMG102 Rs. 1,50,000/-

15 Bristol Myers Brivanibalaninate/ Sorafenib Rs. 2,50,000/-

16 Sanofi Aventis Blind Rs. 1,50,000/-

17 Sanofin Blind Rs. 1,50,000/-

18 Sanofi Blind Rs. 2,00,000/-

19 PPD XL-184/Placebo Rs. 10,00,000/-

20 Pfizer Sitaxsentan/Placebo Rs. 1,50,000/-

21 Pfizer Sitaxentan/Placebo/Sildenafil Rs. 2,25,000/-

22 pfizer Axitinib Rs. 1,50,000/-


Medical devices industry urges govt to focus on 3 major access barriers

Medical device sector has urged the government to urgently focus on the three major access barrier issues in the country which are currently hindering the growth of the industry. The industry strongly feels that this is the only way to address the issues relating to undiagnosed and untreated patients with various heart ailment in the country.

The three main access barriers that are affecting the industry today are high expenditure or cost related barriers, geographic access and lack of awareness about the latest technologies.
Kaustav Banerjee, country manager, St Jude Medical pointed out that these access barriers are not only affecting the industry in general but also putting the patients at risk as they end up suffering in the end due to lack of availability of affordable health care.
Explaining further he informed, “Medical technologies are relatively new concept in India, but are gaining momentum significantly. The regulatory environment is in its formative stage and the Indian regulators are helping to set up an environment which encourages patient safety above all. However, there are still some gray areas that need to be highlighted. As of now there is an urgent need to focus on affordability as high cost is a major issue to reckon with. There is also lack of awareness amongst patients about the needs to be addressed along with problems related to accessibility or geographic access barriers.”
He informed that though the affordability related access barrier is gradually changing with governments initiative in improving the reimbursement for the underprivileged and also because there is a growing awareness on private health insurances. Banerjee pointed out that the issue of affordability is something which the government and the industry should work together with. He said, “Both the government and the industry should synergise with each other so that it will help in the development of technologies that help to better manage chronic illness and ultimately reduce the cost of healthcare.”
Further he suggested that the geographic access barrier can also be addressed gradually with the improvement in health infrastructure in tier II and tier III cities. “To help with the awareness-related barriers, we are working towards creating awareness through our structured education curriculum. We aim to educate referral physicians about the symptoms and potential treatment options for cardiac problems such as arrhythmia, heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, heart valve repair and replacements etc.,” Banerjee added.
He stated that St Jude will always support the government in its initiatives that is aimed at improving quality standards of medical technologies that are being marketed in India as such measures will serve to enhance patient safety in the country.

Spicing Up Broccoli Boosts Its Cancer-fighting Power

Grouping broccoli with a spicy food that contains myrosinase enhances cancer-fighting power of the food and also ensures that the absorption takes place in the upper part of the digestive system, suggests study."To get this effect, spice up your broccoli with broccoli sprouts, mustard, horseradish, or wasabi. The spicier, the better; that means it's being effective," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of nutrition.
In the study, when fresh broccoli sprouts were eaten with broccoli powder, the scientists were able to measure bioactive compounds in the blood 30 minutes later. When these peaked at three hours, they were much higher when the foods were eaten together than when either was eaten alone. Urine samples corroborated the blood results, said Jenna Cramer, lead author of the study. It's no secret that many people cook the benefits right out of broccoli instead of steaming it lightly for two to four minutes to protect its healthful properties, she said.
"However, this study shows that even if broccoli is overcooked, you can still boost its benefits by pairing it with another food that contains myrosinase," she said.
Myrosinase is the enzyme necessary to form sulforaphane, the vegetable's cancer-preventive component, co-author Margarita Teran-Garcia explained.
Note what happened with the fresh broccoli sprouts and broccoli powder eaten in this experiment. The powder doesn't contain myrosinase, but it does contain the precursor to the anti-cancer agent sulforaphane. Eaten together, the sprouts were able to lend their myrosinase to the powder. As predicted, both foods produced sulforaphane and provided greater anti-cancer benefit, Jeffery said.

10-year-old Boy Asking for Sex Change Goes to School Dressed as a Girl

A 10- year-old boy who is a victim of gender dysphoria and has been asking for a sex change joined back school after the summer vacation dressed as a girl.
He was diagnosed with gender dysphoria during the summer vacation.‘She is within her mind a girl but she has a boy’s body. She is a girlie girl,’ the boy’s mother said.
Gender surgery is not permitted for those below 18 years of age. This 10- year- old intends to consume hormone tablets before reaching puberty.

Weight-Loss Program Could Save Medicare $15 Billion Annually

A new study published in the journal Health Affairs suggests that the US social healthcare service, Medicare could save as much as $15 billion annually by simply enrolling obese adults into a 16-week weight loss program.The study was conducted by two researchers at the Emory University who found that funding weight loss programs for overweight adults between 60 to 64 years of age could save Medicare up to $15 billion per year.
The researchers said that funding such a program for pre-diabetic elderly could cost around $590 million but they added that Medicare could save over $2.3 billion in the next 10 years while the total savings could be over $9.3 billion during the lifetimes of those who enrolled in the program.
The researchers added that an additional $3.7 billion could be saved in the next decade if the program included those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. “Medicare savings could range from approximately $7 billion to $15 billion, depending on how broadly program eligibility was defined and actual levels of program participation”, the researchers, Kenneth E. Thorpe and Zho Yang wrote in their report.

Study: Heavy Exercise Might Harm Your Heart

Arrhythmia, which is often harmless, can sometimes lead to strokes and other serious problems.
"People who are exercising a lot should probably learn how to identify the symptoms of atrial fibrillation and seek counselling if they get it," said Johan Sundstrom, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at Uppsala University.
Sundstrom emphasized that exercise is essential for overall health and that the vast majority of people would do well to get more of it, not less.
"I would be worried if people thought cross-country skiing, for example, to be dangerous. That would be an unlucky headline," he said.
"We're looking at extreme amounts of training. Most people need to get off the couch and exercise a little bit," he added.
The study was presented at the ESC Congress 2011.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Conserving medicinal plant, key to herbal medicine devt — Expert

There is no gainsaying the fact that no fewer than 70 per cent of Nigerians rely on Traditional Medicine (TM) for their basic health care needs especially at the primary healthcare delivery. This may not be unconnected with the fact that TM products are more affordable and accessible to the rural populace.
Despite these and the fact that TM compliments as a major provider of healthcare delivery to orthodox, poor perception of these natural drug products have continued to make it even more difficult for the integration of TM into the nation’s healthcare system.
In most parts of the African continent, TM and orthodox medicine exist side by side with people using either or both of them for treatment. Only in 2002, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a comprehensive traditional medicine strategy, emphasising on the documentation, development and promotion of TM, herbal remedies and medicinal plants through research and the development of stronger evidence based on safety, efficacy and quality of the TM products and practices.
In line with WHO recommendations, the Director General of Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), Tamunoibuomi Okujagu, says Nigeria and other African countries are putting in place mechanisms for standardisation of TM products.
Speaking on the 2011 African Traditional Medicine (ATM) Day in Lagos, Okujagu explained that several projects had been initiated to develop, promote, preserve and protect the nation’s traditional medicine products and practices, indigenous knowledge, culture and heritage as well as intellectual property rights of organisations.
Okujagu who stressed the need for stakeholders to unite and discourage negative perceptions about TM products, said plans were underway to put in place regulatory framework, institutional instruments for developing African traditional medicines (ATM) and standardization of ATM as well as integrate TM into the health care system.
He pointed out that conserving of medicinal plants, which is Africa’s heritage would not only assist in promoting documentation and ensuring sustainable utilization of Africa’s bioresources, but would also help in the integration of TM into the nation’s healthcare sector.
Okujagu who hinted that the theme for this year’s ATM Day is “Conservation of Medicinal Plants: Africa’s Heritage” explained that the theme was critical and important in bringing to fore the potentials of Africa’s rich, huge, exotic and diverse bioresources and biodiversity.
He stated that the Agency’s activity in the development of pilot/ experimental medicinal, aromatic and pesticidals plant(MAPPs) would ensure proper cultivation of identified plants in the areas that they can grow best as well as preserve plants that are facing extinction amongst others.
Okujagu who identified wrong perception as a major challenge to the development of African Medicine, disclosed that as part of the agency’s activities to mark the ATM Day, the Agency in collaboration with the Global Institute of Bio-Exploration (GIBEX),Federal University of Technology, (FUT), Minna would be holding a stakeholders forum and national symposium on the development of medicinal plants as a means to achieving the MDG for improved health access.
He said prior to the symposium billed to hold 11th through 13th October 2011, the two organisations would be signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to take possession of the land which the Vice Chancellor, FUT, Minna generously donated for collaborative research between the university, NNMDA, and GIBEX.
“It is hoped that this project in addition to research and development in MAPPS for traditional medicine development and promotion, will encourage the selection and domestication of highly needed MAPPS to aid researches,” he added
The workshop tagged; “HerbFest” is aimed at stimulating the natural products and bio-business industrial sub-sector in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub region, enhance its capacity for delivery of new health foods to the EU and the US market under the Africa Growth and opportunity Act (AGOA) and diversify the export base of the local economy.

Online Nutrition Education and Weight Loss Results Don't Match

A study in the September/October 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows no evidence of the efficacy of computer-tailored education using empirical data based on blood cholesterol and lipids.As lifestyles get busier and waistlines get bigger; many people are turning to online nutrition programs. In promotion of healthful nutrition behaviors, computer-tailored nutrition education has been identified as a promising health education strategy, especially in the promotion of lower fat intake.
Investigators from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Maastricht University, and Erasmus University in the Netherlands assessed 442 healthy Dutch adults to determine the effectiveness of a computer-tailored intervention aimed at the reduction of fat intake. Instead of just looking at self-reported dietary recalls to evaluate dietary fat intake, which can be skewed by portion size errors, underreporting, and socially desirable answers, the researchers evaluated a more reliable outcome -- blood lipids (total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides). The computer program aimed at reducing saturated fat intake had no effect on the blood values.
Drs. Willemieke Kroeze, PhD, and Johannes Brug, PhD, Assistant Professor and Professor, respectively, at the Vrije Universiteit, state, "Computer- tailored intervention with a single dose, aimed at reduction of (saturated) fat intake, for which meaningful effects based on self-reports have been reported, was not sufficient to produce detectable changes in blood lipids in the current study." When asked how to improve outcomes from consulting online nutrition advice websites, Dr. Kroeze suggests exploring methods "to increase the feasibility of objectively assessing the impact of computer-tailored nutrition education interventions aimed at primary prevention in real-life settings. In addition, strategies should be developed to improve the intensity and duration of computer-tailored interventions, and to incorporate social interaction in the intervention."

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