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Friday, December 17, 2010

Sunscreen chemicals absorbed into body, found in 85 percent of human milk samples

(NaturalNews) Before you apply creams, lotions, cosmetics and sunscreens to your skin, it might be a good idea to find out what's really in them. What's more, you need to know those ingredients aren't necessarily just coating the outside layers of your skin. For example, as NaturalNews previously reported, UCLA scientists have recently discovered nanoparticles in cosmetics and sunscreens can enter and wander throughout the body, potentially disrupting body functions on a sub-cellular level (http://www.naturalnews.com/027603_n...). And now, for the first time, a study just published in the international science journal Chemospherehas shown that a group of chemicals known as UV (for ultraviolet radiation) filters are turning up in humans internally -- and the phenomenon is widespread.

In fact, the investigation, conducted by a Swiss National Research Program called Endocrine Disrupters: Relevance to Humans, Animals and Ecosystems, found UV filters, which are common in cosmetics and sunscreens, were present in 85 percent of human milk samples tested. What does this mean for adults, much less babies taking in this contaminated milk? The alarming truth is, no one knows.

For the study, during the fall and summer of 2004, 2005 and 2006, human milk was sampled from mothers who had given birth at the University Women's Hospital in Basel, Switzerland. The research participants also answered detailed questionnaires in order to document their use of different types of cosmetic products and sunscreens.

When the women's breast milk was analyzed, tests revealed the milk samples contained a huge list of chemicals including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), synthetic musk fragrances, pesticides, phthalates, parabens, flame retardants (polybrominated diphenylethers), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) -- and cosmetic UV filters. What's more, the UV filter chemicals were surprisingly widespread; they were comparable in concentrations to PCBs, which have long been known to contaminate the environment.

"Research on the effects of endocrine disrupters (chemicals interfering with hormone actions) has shown that it is of utmost importance to obtain information on simultaneous exposure of humans to different types of chemicals because endocrine active chemicals can act in concert. Information on exposure is particularly important for the developing organism at its most sensitive early life stages. Human milk was chosen because it provides direct information on exposure of the suckling infant and indirect information on exposure of the mother during pregnancy," research team leaders Margret Schlumpf and Walter Lichtensteiger said in a media statement.

The analyzed data of the milk samples obtained from individual mothers were then compared with the information collected through the questionnaire about cosmetic and sunscreen use. While exposure patterns differed between individuals, Dr. Schlumpf, who is a scientist at the University of Zurich, pointed out that the total reported use of products containing UV filters was significantly correlated with the presence of those chemicals in breast milk.

In all, a total daily intake of each individual chemical found in the breast milk tests was calculated for each baby who was fed with breast milk. The results showed some infants were taking in daily amounts of PCBs and several pesticides that were far above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reference for supposed "acceptable" levels. Little is known about the health significance of babies drinking in UV filters through their mothers' milk.

In a statement to the media, the scientists noted that information on the relationship between the exposure of human populations to ingredients in cosmetics and sunscreens and the presence of these constituents in the human body has been sorely limited. And before the new Swiss research findings, the data on UV filters being present inside the human body was virtually non-existent.

"This study once again emphasizes the importance of global research on the impact of contaminants in the human environment and the need for continuous critical assessment of our priorities in environmental health and consumer habits. I am sure that this investigation will also spark debate at the upcoming first Environmental Health conference in Brazil, February 2011", Gert-Jan Geraeds, Executive Publisher of Chemosphere said in a press statement.

For more information:
http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/au...
http://www.naturalnews.com/sunscree...

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/030725_sunscreen_chemicals.html#ixzz18OlyVffO

Men may be able to grow a new pancreas from their testicles

Topflight geneticists say they have managed to cure diabetes in mice by grafting material from dead men's testicles onto them. The development may mean that in future, human (male) diabetes sufferers can in effect grow a replacement bollock-based pancreas from such tissues.

According to an announcement from the lab involved, headed “Grow Your Own Transplant”:

Read More....http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/13/testicle_pancreas/

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Life Expectancy in US Drops Slightly

U.S. life expectancy has dropped slightly - by about a month - after mostly inching up for many years, the government reported Thursday. The preliminary report indicates that a baby born in 2008 can expect to live to 77.8 years if current trends continue. That's down a bit from an all-time high of 77.9 years for 2007. A similar dip occurred in 2005, and life expectancy also dropped in 1993. MORE>>>>

FDA Re-examines Metal Fillings Decision

U.S. health regulators are seeking a second opinion on whether mercury-containing dental fillings pose a risk to dental patients, especially children and pregnant women. Food and Drug Administration officials said that while there are no new scientific findings on such silver-colored cavity fillings, it wants feedback on methods it used to weigh available data and decide last year that the metal alloy is safe. MORE

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why Butter is Better for Your Health Today

By The Weston A. Price Foundation

The Weston A. Price Foundation provides accurate information about nutrition and is dedicated to putting nutrient-dense foods back on American tables.

Members receive a lively and informative quarterly journal and email updates on current issues and events.Visit their website at www.westonaprice.org .

Are you still shunning butter from your diet? You can stop today because butter can be a very healthy part of your diet.

Why Butter is Better

  • Vitamins ...

    Butter is a rich source of easily absorbed vitamin A, needed for a wide range of functions, from maintaining good vision to keeping the endocrine system in top shape.

    Butter also contains all the other fat-soluble vitamins (D, E and K2), which are often lacking in the modern industrial diet.

  • Minerals ...

    Butter is rich in important trace minerals, including manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium (a powerful antioxidant). Butter provides more selenium per gram than wheat germ or herring. Butter is also an excellent source of iodine.

  • Fatty Acids ...

    Butter provides appreciable amounts of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which support immune function, boost metabolism and have anti-microbial properties; that is, they fight against pathogenic microorganisms in the intestinal tract.

    Butter also provides the perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Arachidonic acid in butter is important for brain function, skin health and prostaglandin balance.

  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) ...

    When butter comes from cows eating green grass, it contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that gives excellent protection against cancer and also helps your body build muscle rather than store fat.

  • Glycospingolipids ...

    These are a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastrointestinal infections, especially in the very young and the elderly. Children given reduced-fat milks have higher rates of diarrhea than those who drink whole milk.

  • Cholesterol ...

    Despite all of the misinformation you may have heard, cholesterol is needed to maintain intestinal health and for brain and nervous system development in the young.

  • Wulzen Factor ...

    A hormone-like substance that prevents arthritis and joint stiffness, ensuring that calcium in your body is put into your bones rather than your joints and other tissues. The Wulzen factor is present only in raw butter and cream; it is destroyed by pasteurization.

Butter and Your Health

Is butter really healthy? Let us count the ways …

  1. Heart Disease

    Butter contains many nutrients that protect against heart disease including vitamins A, D, K2, and E, lecithin, iodine and selenium. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine (Nutrition Week 3/22/91, 21:12).

  2. Cancer

    The short- and medium-chain fatty acids in butter have strong anti-tumor effects. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in butter from grass-fed cows also gives excellent protection against cancer.

  3. Arthritis

    The Wulzen or "anti-stiffness" factor in raw butter and also Vitamin K2 in grasss-fed butter, protect against calcification of the joints as well as hardening of the arteries, cataracts and calcification of the pineal gland. Calves fed pasteurized milk or skim milk develop joint stiffness and do not thrive.

  4. Osteoporosis

    Vitamins A, D and K2 in butter are essential for the proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus and hence necessary for strong bones and teeth.

  5. Thyroid Health

    Butter is a good source of iodine, in a highly absorbable form. Butter consumption prevents goiter in mountainous areas where seafood is not available. In addition, vitamin A in butter is essential for proper functioning of the thyroid gland.

  6. Digestion

    Glycospingolipids in butterfat protect against gastrointestinal infection, especially in the very young and the elderly.

  7. Growth & Development

    Many factors in the butter ensure optimal growth of children, especially iodine and vitamins A, D and K2. Low-fat diets have been linked to failure to thrive in children -- yet low-fat diets are often recommended for youngsters!

  8. Asthma

    Saturated fats in butter are critical to lung function and protect against asthma.

  9. Overweight

    CLA and short- and medium-chain fatty acids in butter help control weight gain.

  10. Fertility

    Many nutrients contained in butter are needed for fertility and normal reproduction.

Why You Should Avoid Margarine, Shortening and Spreads

There are a myriad of unhealthy components to margarine and other butter imposters, including:

  • Trans fats: These unnatural fats in margarine, shortenings and spreads are formed during the process of hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oils into a solid fat

    Trans fats contribute to heart disease, cancer, bone problems, hormonal imbalance and skin disease; infertility, difficulties in pregnancy and problems with lactation; and low birth weight, growth problems and learning disabilities in children.

    A U.S. government panel of scientists determined that man-made trans fats are unsafe at any level. (Small amounts of natural trans fats occur in butter and other animal fats, but these are not harmful.)

  • Free radicals: Free radicals and other toxic breakdown products are the result of high temperature industrial processing of vegetable oils. They contribute to numerous health problems, including cancer and heart disease.
  • Synthetic vitamins: Synthetic vitamin A and other vitamins are added to margarine and spreads. These often have an opposite (and detrimental) effect compared to the natural vitamins in butter.
  • Emulsifiers and preservatives: Numerous additives of questionable safety are added to margarines and spreads. Most vegetable shortening is stabilized with preservatives like BHT.
  • Hexane and other solvents: Used in the extraction process, these industrial chemicals can have toxic effects.
  • Bleach: The natural color of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is grey so manufacturers bleach it to make it white. Yellow coloring is then added to margarine and spreads.
  • Artificial flavors: These help mask the terrible taste and odor of partially hydrogenated oils, and provide a fake butter taste.
  • Mono- and di-glycerides: These contain trans fats that manufacturers do not have to list on the label. They are used in high amounts in so-called "low-trans" spreads.
  • Soy protein isolate: This highly processed powder is added to "low-trans" spreads to give them body. It can contribute to thyroid dysfunction, digestive disorders and many other health problems.
  • Sterols: Often added to spreads to give them cholesterol-lowering qualities, these estrogen compounds can cause endocrine problems; in animals these sterols contribute to sexual inversion.

How to Purchase Butter

The BEST butter is raw butter from grass-fed cows, preferably organic. Next is pasteurized butter from grass-fed cows, followed by regular pasteurized butter from supermarkets. Even the latter two are still a much healthier choice than margarine or spreads.

For sources of raw butter, visit www.realmilk.com.

Sources:

The Weston A. Price Foundation

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Scientists Raise More BPA Concerns

Scientists at Tufts University School of Medicine have published a study that raises new concern about the effects of the ever-present chemical bisphenol A (BPA), especially the effect on pregnant women.

"Mice exposed to BPA in the womb and during nursing subsequently had fewer successful pregnancies and delivered fewer pups over the course of the study," reported one of the study's co-senior authors, Ana M. Soto, MD, professor of anatomy and cellular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and member of the cell, molecular and developmental biology program faculty at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.

The study may add ammunition to those who want BPA banned. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) pushed to ban BPA in infant bottles and Sippy cups, as part of the recently passed Food Safety and Modernization Bill. Her amendment provoked such strong food industry opposition that the measure did not pass until she dropped that provision.

BPA is a chemical added to plastic to make it rigid. Though it is slowly being phased out, it has had widespread use in beverage bottles and food containers. Recent studies have found that the chemical is present in many consumers' bodies.

Decreased fertility

In the Tufts study, fertility decreased over time in female mice that had been exposed during fetal and neonatal (perinatal) development to doses of BPA that were lower than or equal to human environmental exposure levels.

At the highest of three doses tested, only 60 percent of the BPA-exposed mice had four or more deliveries over a 32-week period, compared with 95 percent in the unexposed control group. Decline of the reproductive capacity of the female mice in this study was not obvious at first pregnancy, when the animals were very young, but manifested later in life with a decline in number of pups born per delivery.

"This finding is important because standard tests of reproductive toxicology currently consist of assessing the success of a first pregnancy in young animals. If subsequent pregnancies are not examined, relevant effects may be missed," said co-senior author Beverly S. Rubin, PhD, associate professor of anatomy and cellular biology at TUSM and member of the cell, molecular and developmental biology and neuroscience program faculties at the Sackler School.

The authors say their findings are potentially of great relevance to humans because BPA is used in the production of materials people are exposed to every day, such as polycarbonate plastics and the resins used to coat the inside of food and beverage cans.

The scientist say BPA has effects that mimic those of estrogen, a natural hormone. Fetal and neonatal exposure to BPA has been shown to have other hormone-related effects in rodents, including increased risk of mammary and prostate cancers, altered behavior, and obesity.

BPA has been found in the urine of over 92 percent of Americans tested, with higher levels in children and adolescents relative to adults. It has also been detected in human maternal and fetal plasma, the authors said.

Read more: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2010/12/scientists-raise-more-bpa-concerns.html#ixzz17A3FUN9k

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

E. Coli Linked To Kidney Problems, Heart Disease And High Blood Pressure

(MedicalNewsToday.com) — People who become infected with E. Coli have a higher risk of later on developing hypertension, heart disease and kidney problems, Canadian researchers wrote in an article published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal). The authors say their study underscores how important it is to have clean water and food, as well as monitoring infected people carefully. E. coli is the same as Escherichia coli.

Health authorities in America believe that approximately 120,000 people each year develop gastro-enteric illnesses from E. coli 0157:H7 infections. About 2,000 are admitted to hospital 60 sixty die each year.

However, very little is known about the long-term outlook for people with E. coli infection, the researchers explained.

William F. Clark, MD, professor of nephrology at Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada, and team set out to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney problems and hypertension within eight years of becoming infected with E. coli as a result of consuming contaminated water.

They gathered data from the Walkerton Health Study, which evaluated the long-term health of 1,977 individuals who had developed gastroenteritis from a tainted municipal water system in May 2000. The water had been infected with Campylobacter and E. Coli 0157:H7 bacteria. 1,067 of them became ill with acute gastroenteritis, and 378 went to see a doctor about it.

Read More >

Fructose Not So Sweet for Blood Pressure, Kidneys

(EmaxHealth.com) — Fructose, including high fructose corn syrup, has been implicated in a number of health problems, including obesity and gout. Now researchers at the University of Colorado are highlighting the role of the sugar, noting evidence that it may play a role in high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Fructose is not so sweet when it comes to your health

People get fructose mainly in added dietary sugars, honey, and fruit, and from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a mixture of fructose and glucose, typically in a 55-to-45 percent proportion. High fructose corn syrup is found in many processed and refined foods typical of a Western diet.

At the University of Colorado, scientists recently conducted an overview of clinical and experimental studies to identify the possible role of fructose in diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and chronic kidney disease. They concluded that along with increasing support of a link between excessive intake of fructose and metabolic syndrome, they also found growing evidence that fructose may have a role in high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Richard J. Johnson, MD, of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at the University, noted that “excessive fructose intake could be viewed as an increasingly risky food and beverage additive.” He and his co-author on the study, Takahiko Nakagawa, MD, are concerned that doctors may not be advising patients who have chronic kidney disease to restrict added sugars containing fructose when offering them dietary advice.

Read More >>

Vitamin D shortage appears to increase diabetes, hypertension risks

Longtime Mobile cardiologist Dr. Clara Massey recently revised her screening processes for new patients. She’s added checks to see if they’re deficient in vitamin D.

Widely used sun-block creams and lotions may shield the skin from dangerous rays, but also keep it from being able to create the vitamin that’s vital to good health.

“In an effort to protect the skin from skin cancer, we’ve actually prevented the body from making vitamin D from sunlight,” Massey said.

Vitamin D is widely known for its importance to strong bones. What’s new is that scientists are finding that a shortage of vitamin D can increase the risks of diabetes and hypertension, and can lead to a blood-vessel inflammation that can result in acute heart attacks.

Some research also suggests that vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, cancer and several autoimmune diseases, according to information presented by the Mayo Clinic.

Read More >>

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harvard scientists reverse the ageing process in mice – now for humans

Harvard scientists were surprised that they saw a dramatic reversal, not just a slowing down, of the ageing in mice. Now they believe they might be able to regenerate human organs

Image: Robert F. Bukaty/AP
Ian Sample
Guardian

Scientists claim to be a step closer to reversing the ageing process after rejuvenating worn out organs in elderly mice. The experimental treatment developed by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, turned weak and feeble old mice into healthy animals by regenerating their aged bodies.

The surprise recovery of the animals has raised hopes among scientists that it may be possible to achieve a similar feat in humans – or at least to slow down the ageing process.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sex May Prolong Life

Sex May Prolong Life

When it comes to medical research on sex, most of the attention is on sexually transmitted disease and sexual disfunction - Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, impotence and frigidity. From this point of view, having sex is a grim and risky business.

Yet sex is probably one of the most common, and certainly most pleasurable activities we humans experience - indeed essential for the survival of the species. Yet only a handful of studies exist to help us understand and enhance the health benefits:

  • A study on aging from Duke in the 1970s found that for men the frequency of sexual intercourse was associated with lower death rates. For women the enjoyment of intercourse was associated with longer life.
  • A Swedish study found increased risk of death in men who gave up sexual intercourse.
  • A study published in 1976 found that sexual dissatisfaction was a risk factor for heart attacks in women. Now a new study published in the esteemed British Medical Journal offers more good news. The findings suggest that men who have frequent sex are less likely to die at an early age.
  • An intrepid group of researchers from Great Britain included a question about sexual activity in a long-term study of health. The authors studied nearly 1000 men aged 45 to 59 and living in or near Caerphilly, Wales. The men were asked about the frequency of sexual intercourse. They were divided into three groups: those who had sex twice or more a week, an intermediate group, and those who reported having sex less than monthly.
  • A decade later, researchers found that the death rate from all causes for the least sexually active men was twice as high as that of the most active. The death rate in the intermediate group was 1.6 times greater than for the active group. A similar pattern of longevity and frequency of orgasm was found for all causes of death, coronary heart disease, and other causes.

Of course many questions arise with this type of study. Does the frequency of orgasm cause the improved health? Does poor health cause lower sexual activity? Or does some other factor such as physical activity, alcohol, depressed mood, or "vital exhaustion" cause both poor health and less sexual activity? The researchers did find that strength of the results persisted even after adjusting for differences in age, social class, smoking, blood pressure, and evidence of existing coronary heart disease at the initial interview. This suggests a more likely protective role of sexual activity.

To quote the researchers:
"The association between frequency of orgasm and mortality in the present study is at least-if not more-convincing on epidemiological and biological grounds than many of the associations reported in other studies and deserves further investigation to the same extent. Interventions programs could also be considered, perhaps based on the exciting, 'At least five a day' campaign aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption - although the numerical imperative may have to be adjusted."

More research is needed. Any volunteers?

Since the overall death rate was reduced 36% for an increase of 100 orgasm per year, one could easily imagine a new prescription for health:
Rx: Sexual Intercourse At least 2 x per week
Such a prescription might have few side effects and would be far more pleasurable than many other regimens often prescribed. And even if sex doesn't prove to add years to life, it may add life to years.

For More Information:
Davey Smith G, Frankel S, Yarnell J: Sex and death: Are they related? Findings from the Caerphilly cohort study. British Medical Journal 1997;315(7123):1641-44.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Classic Thanksgiving Dessert A Turn-On for Men Sexually, Study Says

The secret to better sex could be in a classic Thanksgiving dessert"Throw away the perfume and go get some pumpkin pie," said Dr. Alan Hirsch, Director of Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Center.In a study of men ages 18 to 64, 40 aromas were tested to determine which arouses men the most. The smell of pumpkin pie topped ladies' fragrances."The number one odor that enhanced penile blood flow was a combination of lavender and pumpkin pie," said Hirsch.Hirsch said tha combination increased penile blood flow by an average of 40 percent in participants.Pumpkin pie was the single strongest stimulant."Maybe the odors acted to reduce anxiety. By reducing anxiety, it acted to remove inhibitions," said Hirsch.However, eating part of the pumpkin usually discarded when making pie could offer even greater sexual health benefits for men. "The most important element of the pumpkin are the seeds themselves," said Palm Beach Gardens Alternative medicine expert Dr. Ralph Monserrat. He often recommends patients with erectile dysfunction eat pumpkin seeds."Pumpkin seeds are very rich in zinc. That, in itself, is very valuable in individuals who have prostate enlargement...because they are very rich in zinc, there will be an increase in testosterone and that increase will also increase the sexual desire," said Monserrat.Pumpkin pie isn't the only Thanksgiving favorite that arouses a man. The same study showed that older men showed a strong response to vanilla.If your partner enjoys sex on a regular basis, allow him to pull the strawberry-rhubarb pie out of the oven. Men with the most satisfying sex lives responded strongly to strawberry."Every odor we tested aroused the participants," said Hirsch.However, not all of them created strong responses. Therefore, you may want to keep your man away from the cranberry sauce. The aroma of cranberry offered the smallest increase in blood flow, only two percent.There is some good news, Hirsch said: "Nothing turns a man off."This Thanksgiving, if you want a little something extra to be thankful for, you may be able to create a big change in the bedroom by making a little change in the kitchen.
More:
Dr. Hirsch: Medical Aspects Of Human Sexuality

Friday, November 19, 2010

PTSD Increases Heart Risk in Vets

U.S. military veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder -- a condition marked by severe anxiety, sleep disruptions, hyperarousal, and impaired concentration -- have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, researchers said on Wednesday.

Study results, presented at the scientific sessions of the American Heart Association meeting held in Chicago this week, suggest that doctors should provide early and aggressive evaluation and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors in patients with the disorder.

"This study for the first time appears to point to the mechanism for the cardiovascular part of that excess mortality risk: accelerated atherosclerosis," said Dr. Naser Ahmadi, a researcher at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center.

MORE

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Obsession with killing microorganisms is dangerous for humans and planet, scientist warns


S.L. Baker
Natural News

Using products with antimicrobial chemicals must be a great way to protect your health. After all, you're killing loads of germs while you wash your body and clean your house -- and that's a good thing, right? Not according to biologist and engineer Rolf Halden of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. In fact, he's sounding the alarm these commonly used chemicals aren't safe for human health and the environment. What's more, they don't even work better than plain soap and water.

The two most popular antimicrobial compounds, triclosan and triclocarban, are now a billion dollar a year industry and are found in a host of personal care products. Triclosan is added to plastic containers, toys and even clothing, too. First patented in l964 to kill germs before surgical procedures, the compound was pushed on consumers in the l980s when antimicrobials were hyped through massive marketing campaigns for "anti-germ" hand soaps. By 2001, a whopping 76 percent of all liquid soaps contained the chemical.

Read Full Article

RELATED ARTICLE:
4 Simple Ways to Minimize Household Chemicals

Monday, November 15, 2010

Educated families increasingly refusing vaccinations


Dees Illustration
Ethan A. Huff
Natural News

Educated Americans with private insurance plans are becoming increasingly less prone to vaccinate their children, according to this year's annual State of Health Care Quality report released by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The report states that there was a four percentage point drop in vaccination rates among middle- and upper-class families between 2008 and 2009.

"This was the first time we'd seen a drop -- and it was a pretty big drop," Sarah Thomas, vice president of public policy and communication at NCQA, is quoted as saying to HealthDay. "We didn't really explore the reasons [for the trend], but one leading hypothesis is that parents have decided not to get their children vaccinated because of concerns about the potential for side effects and even autism."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fat tax ‘is the best way to cut obesity’: Treat junk food like cigarettes, argues the OECD

Source: UK Daily Mail

A ‘fat tax’ on unhealthy foods, restrictions on junk food advertising and better labelling are the most cost-effective ways to cut obesity, a study suggests.

It says the measures would give England’s 52million population an extra 270,000 years of good health between them.

Some studies suggest a fat tax alone would encourage the shift to a healthier diet and reduce deaths from heart disease and other illnesses by 3,200 a year.

Government measures to change diet are supported in the study by experts at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Health Organisation.

A key proposal suggests treating foods high in fat, salt and sugar in the same way as tobacco, where advertising is restricted and price has been pushed up to discourage use.

Full article here

Drugs linked to brain damage 30 years ago

Secret documents reveal that government-funded experts were warned nearly 30 years ago that tranquillisers that were later prescribed to millions of people could cause brain damage.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) agreed in 1982 that there should be large-scale studies to examine the long-term impact of benzodiazepines after research by a leading psychiatrist showed brain shrinkage in some patients similar to the effects of long-term alcohol abuse.

However, no such work was ever carried out into the effects of drugs such as Valium, Mogadon and Librium – and doctors went on prescribing them to patients for anxiety, stress, insomnia and muscle spasms. MORE

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

URINE LUCK: New app lets you take STD test by 'peeing into your phone'...

British health officials are hard at work on a new app that will allow users to pee into their cell phones and find out within minutes if they have an STD.

Seriously, we could not make this stuff up if we tried.

According to The Guardian, £4 million have been invested in the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, which is creating a smartphone app that will allow users, "to put urine or saliva on to a computer chip about the size of a USB chip, plug it into their phone or computer and receive a diagnosis within minutes."

MORE > App Tells You When Your Spouse Is Cheating

The techno-savvy approached is aimed at young brits, who apparently are too embarrased to visit the doctor face to face and have been experiencing rising rates of STDs (or STIs if you prefer.)

"Your mobile phone can be your mobile doctor. It diagnoses whether you've got one of a range of STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea and tells you where to go next to get treatment," Dr Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George's, University of London, who is leading the project, told The Guardian.

If it's really that simple, why wait till after the deed is done? Wouldn't it make more sense for prospective partners to swap fluids before hand, get a reading on their cell phones, and then decide whether or not to "finish the download"?

LINK

MORE > Cheating Lover? There's an App for That.

Look out, your medicine is watching you

(Reuters) - Novartis AG plans to seek regulatory approval within 18 months for a pioneering tablet containing an embedded microchip, bringing the concept of "smart-pill" technology a step closer.

The initial program will use one of the Swiss firm's established drugs taken by transplant patients to avoid organ rejection. But Trevor Mundel, global head of development, believes the concept can be applied to many other pills.

"We are taking forward this transplant drug with a chip and we hope within the next 18 months to have something that we will be able to submit to the regulators, at least in Europe," Mundel told the Reuters Health Summit in New York.

"I see the promise as going much beyond that," he added.

Novartis agreed in January to spend $24 million to secure access to chip-in-a-pill technology developed by privately owned Proteus Biomedical of Redwood City, California, putting it ahead of rivals.

The biotech start-up's ingestible chips are activated by stomach acid and send information to a small patch worn on the patient's skin, which can transmit data to a smartphone or send it over the Internet to a doctor.

Mundel said the initial project was focused on ensuring that patients took drugs at the right time and got the dose they needed -- a key issue for people after kidney and other transplant operations, when treatment frequently needs adjustment.

Longer-term, he hopes to expand the "smart pill" concept to other types of medicine and use the wealth of biometric information the Proteus chip can collect, from heart rate and temperature to body movement, to check that drugs are working properly.

Because the tiny chips are added to existing drugs, Novartis does not expect to have to conduct full-scale clinical trials to prove the new products work. Instead, it aims to do so-called bioequivalence tests to show they are the same as the original.

A bigger issue may be what checks should be put in place to protect patients' personal medical data as it is transmitted from inside their bodies by wireless and Bluetooth.

"The regulators all like the concept and have been very encouraging. But ... they want to understand how we are going to solve the data privacy issues," Mundel said.

A technology that ensures a patient takes his or her medicine and checks that it is working properly should deliver better outcomes and justify a higher price tag.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

LINK

Friday, November 5, 2010

Don't look now, coffee is good for you

Dr. Julian Whitaker
© 2010

Patients coming to the Whitaker Wellness Institute sometimes express surprise that we serve coffee. Doesn't it increase the body's acidity? Aren't health-conscious people supposed to drink tea instead? Isn't caffeine bad for you?

If coffee were dangerous, then every morning emergency rooms around the world would be choked with people suffering the ill effects of our favorite breakfast beverage. Of course, this isn't the case.

Coffee is not harmful. On the contrary, I consider it to be a health food, and hundreds of studies bear this out.

A cupful of health benefits

Coffee can stop migraine headaches, curb appetite, prevent tooth decay and increase the effectiveness of aspirin and other analgesics (Anacin and Excedrin both contain caffeine). Here are some other benefits researchers have discovered.

  • Protects against neurodegenerative disorders: Research reveals that drinking coffee lowers the risk of Parkinson's disease by as much as 80 percent. Caffeine has also been shown to reduce amyloid plaques in the brains of animals, suggesting it protects against other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's. And a 21-year-long Scandinavian study found that people who drank three or more cups of coffee a day had a 65-percent reduced risk of dementia, compared to people who drank two or fewer cups.

  • Reduces risk of diabetes: Coffee increases insulin sensitivity, and a high intake – at least six cups a day – lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by 54 percent in men and 30 percent in women.

  • Boosts concentration and mood: Studies have demonstrated that coffee improves concentration and alertness, boosts mood and decreases suicide risk. Just the smell of coffee relieves stress in animals.

  • Supports the liver and gallbladder: Compared to people who avoid coffee, those who drink at least two cups a day are 80 percent less likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver (even if they drink a lot of alcohol) and half as likely to have gallstones.

  • Lowers cancer risk: Coffee is also protective against cancer of the liver and kidneys, and people who drink it are 25 percent less apt to get colon cancer. Although it's long been suspected of increasing risk of breast cancer, a recent study spanning 22 years and involving nearly 86,000 women found a weak inverse association between the two in postmenopausal females.

  • Alleviates asthma: This popular drink also controls asthma and can even halt a full-blown attack in its tracks.

  • Enhances exercise: Drinking coffee before work outs improves endurance and lessens exercise-induced muscle pain.

  • Increases longevity: A large 2008 study found that drinking up to six cups of regular or decaffeinated coffee daily is associated with a slightly lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer and other causes.








Friday, October 29, 2010

BPA Linked to Low Sperm Count

Chinese factory workers exposed to high levels of the plastics chemical BPA had low sperm counts, according to the first human study to tie it to poor semen quality.

The study is the latest to raise health questions about bisphenol-A and comes two weeks after Canada published a final order adding the chemical to its list of toxic substances.

Whether the relatively low sperm counts and other signs of poor semen quality translate to reduced fertility is not known. Study author Dr. De-Kun Li, a scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., noted that even men with extremely low sperm counts can father children.

But Li said finding that BPA may affect sperm is troubling because it echoes studies in animals and follows his previous research in the same men that linked BPA exposure with sexual problems.

If BPA exposure can reduce sperm levels, "that can't be good" and means more study is needed to check for other harmful effects, Li said.

The study was published online Thursday in the journal Fertility and Sterility. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health funded the research.

Andrea Gore, a pharmacology and toxicology professor at the University of Texas who was not involved in the research, called it an important but preliminary study.


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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Milk From Grass-Fed Cows Healthier

If milk does a body good, it might do the heart better if it comes from dairy cows grazed on grass instead of on feedlots, according to a new study.

Earlier experiments have shown that cows on a diet of fresh grass produce milk with five times as much of an unsaturated fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than do cows fed processed grains. Studies in animals have suggested that CLAs can protect the heart, and help in weight loss.

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Calcium supplements linked to heart attacks: study

Ordinary calcium supplements taken by the elderly to strengthen bones may boost the risk of heart attacks, according to a study released Friday.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest that the role of calcium in the treatment of osteoporosis should be reconsidered, the researchers said.

Calcium tablets are commonly prescribed to boost skeletal health, but a recent clinical trial suggested they might increase the number of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems in healthy older women. MORE>>>>>>

Is All Animal Flesh GOOD FOOD?

by Herbert W. Armstrong


Were all animals made clean? What about the unclean animals shown to Peter in a vision? Here is a straightforward Bible answer, giving the New Testament teaching. This subject is important to your health and well-being!


AFTER THOUSANDS of years of human experience on earth, it seems there still is nothing people know less about than food.

Observe a little baby. It seems to think that anything and everything its little chubby hands can get into its mouth is good to eat and everything baby gets his hands on goes straight to his mouth! How often must young parents take things away, and try to teach the lovely little bundle of humanity that everything one's hands can touch is not necessarily good for the digestion!

We're Just Grown-up Babies!

Well, one might wonder if any of us has grown up! Most of us adults still seem to think that anything we can stuff in our mouths is good for food. About the only difference between us and the baby is that baby puts into his mouth whatever looks good, while we employ the sense of taste in deciding what goes into our mouths.

Your stomach is your fuel tank. Your automobile's tank is its stomach. You wouldn't think of pouring just any old thing that will pour into the "stomach" of your car. You know that your car was not made to consume and "digest" fuel oil, water, milk, or kerosene.

Yes, we are very careful what we "feed" our automobile--and totally careless and indifferent about what we feed ourselves and our children!

What happens to the food you eat? In the stomach the digestive process takes place. And, once digested--if you have eaten fit and digestible food--a portion of the essential minerals and vitamins--the life-giving properties in the food--filter through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream to replenish and build up decaying cells, to provide energy, body warmth, good health.

Your body is wonderfully made! It is the most wonderful mechanism in the world.

But, just as you must use the right kind of gasoline in the gas tank and the right kind of oils and greases in the other parts of your car or impair its performance, so you must put the right kind of food into the most delicate mechanism of all, your body.

If you tried to oil a fine watch with axle grease you wouldn't expect the watch to keep good time.

And when you put into your stomach all kinds of foul things which the Great Architect who designed your human mechanism never intended, you foul up your body and bring on sickness, disease, aches, pains, a dulled and clogged-up mind, inefficiency and inability--and you commit suicide on the installment plan by actually shortening your life!

The God who designed, created, and made your body has revealed some essential basic knowledge about which meats will keep that body functioning in tip-top shape. Why does humanity refuse His instructions?

You Are Eating Poison!

You don't eat every plant that grows out of the ground. Some things that grow are poison, not food.

But did you know there are many kinds of poisons? Potassium cyanide will kill you very quickly. Some poisons will result in death within a few hours or a few days. But very few seem to know there are other poisons people mistakenly eat as foods which result in premature death after continuous usage for, say, ten, or thirty, or fifty years.

The only difference between these poisons we falsely call foods and potassium cyanide is the relative number of minutes, hours, or years it takes to accomplish its mission.

Just as every plant that God caused to grow out of the ground was not designed for food, so it is with animal flesh. Some will say, "Well, if swine's flesh isn't supposed to be eaten as food, what did God create swine for?" You might as well ask, what did God create weeds and poison vines for? Everything may have been created for a purpose, but not everything for the purpose of eating.

Now some believe that in the original creation--in the Garden of Eden God did not intend any animal flesh to be eaten. God's revelation on that point is vague, and many have argued it both ways. However, God has clearly revealed that certain animal meats may be eaten as food now, in this age, and Jesus who came to set us an example did eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, and so do I.

What the Great Architect of Your Stomach Instructs

When the first written revelation of God came to man through Moses, God instructed man as to which kinds of animal flesh man ought or ought not to eat. You will find this list in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.

This is a basic law--a revelation from God to man about which kinds of flesh will properly digest and assimilate in the human system, and which will not. It is not a part of God's great spiritual law, summed up in the Ten Commandments. Neither is it part of the ceremonial, ritualistic, or sacrificial laws later abolished at the crucifixion of Christ.

It is necessary to recognize that God is the Author of all law, and there are countless laws in motion. There are laws of physics and chemistry. You know of the law of gravity. There is the great immutable spiritual law to regulate man's relationship to God and to fellow men--the law of love--the Ten Commandments. God gave His nation Israel civil statutes and judgments--national laws for the conduct of the national government. Israel was His Church, under the Old Covenant. And for the dispensation then present God gave Israel rituals and ceremonial laws for the conduct of religious services, laws relating to typical and temporary sacrifices, meat and drink offerings--temporary substitutes for Christ and the Holy Spirit. Those laws, of course, ended when the Reality came.

And then, we must realize, there are physical laws working in our bodies, regulating our health. This meat question has to do with these laws.

I know of men who make a hobby of bitterly accusing others of sin for eating pork, oysters, and clams.

Let us get this straight and clear!

We usually speak of sin in its spiritual aspect. That is the aspect in which it is considered in the New Testament. The Bible definition of it is this: "Sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4).

The penalty for violation of that spiritual law is death--not the first or physical death, but the second, of spiritual and eternal death in the "lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14).

Now the eating of wrong food is not a transgression of this spiritual law, and is not a sin. To violate the physical laws of health often brings the penalty of disease, disability, pain, sickness, and sometimes the first death. It is not necessarily spiritual sin.

That is what Jesus made plain, as recorded in Mark 7:14-23. Here Jesus was speaking of spiritual defilement, not physical health. Not that which enters into a man's mouth, but the evil that comes out of his heart, defiles the man spiritually. What defiles the man--and he is speaking of defiling the man, not injuring the body--is transgression of the Ten Commandments--evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, blasphemy (verses 21-22). These things have nothing to do with the physical laws of health. He was making a point concerning spiritual defilements, not physical health.

Specifically, on the physical level, He was referring to a possible particle of dirt which might get on the food from dirty and unwashed hands--He was not here speaking of clean or unclean meats at all.

No Change in Structure of Animal Flesh at Cross

The animals whose flesh properly digests and nourishes the human body were so made in the original creation. No change was ever made in the structure of men's bodies at the time of the flood, or at the time of Jesus' death, or any other time. Neither did God make some sudden change in the structure of animal flesh, so that what once was unfit for food will now digest properly and supply the body's needs.

The unclean animals were unclean before the flood.

Notice, before the flood, Noah took into the ark of the clean animals, to be eaten for food, by sevens; but of the unclean, of which he was not to eat during the flood, by two's--only enough to preserve their lives. The inference is inescapable that the additional clean animals were taken aboard to be eaten for food while Noah and his family were in the ark.

Prior to the flood, clean animals were usually offered as sacrifices. Those who ate the sacrifices often partook of the animal flesh, but vegetables were the main constituent of diet. After the flood God gave Noah not merely the green herb--vegetables--as the major part of diet, but of every type of living creature--clean animals, clean fish, clean fowl (Genesis 9:3 and Leviticus 11).

Genesis 9:3 does not say that every living, breathing creature is clean and fit to eat, but that "as the green herb have I given you all things." God did not give poisonous herbs as food. He gave man the healthful herbs. Man can determine which herbs are healthful, but man cannot by himself determine which flesh foods are harmful. That is why God had to determine for us in His Word which meats are clean. Since the flood every moving clean, healthful, nonpoisonous type of animal life is good for food--just as God gave us the healthful, nonpoisonous herbs.

This does not give us permission to do as we please!

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Horror disease hits Uganda


In this photo of Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, Anatoli Alemo 40 a resident of Kamuli district in eastern Uganda displays his hands and feet infested by ji AP – In this photo of Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, Anatoli Alemo 40 a resident of Kamuli district in eastern …

KAMPALA, Uganda – A disease whose progression and symptoms seem straight out of a horror movie but which can be treated has killed at least 20 Ugandans and sickened more than 20,000 in just two months.

Jiggers, small insects which look like fleas, are the culprits in the epidemic which causes parts of the body to rot. They often enter through the feet. Once inside a person's body, they suck the blood, grow and breed, multiplying by the hundreds. Affected body parts — buttocks, lips, even eyelids — rot away.

James Kakooza, Uganda's minister of state for primary health care, said jiggers can easily kill young children by sucking their blood and can cause early deaths in grown-ups who have other diseases. Most of those infected, especially the elderly, cannot walk or work.

"It is an epidemic which we are fighting against and I am sure over time we will eradicate the jiggers," Kakooza said.

The insects breed in dirty, dusty places. The medical name for the parasitic disease is tungiasis, which is caused by the female sand fly burrowing into the skin. It exists in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, besides sub-Saharan Africa.

Kakooza said health workers are telling residents of the 12 affected districts in Uganda that jiggers thrive amid poor hygienic conditions.

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Love is a powerful painkiller, study finds

Sooner or later, love usually ends up hurting. But in its early, blissful throes, it actually lessens pain — at least of the physical kind. That's the finding, reported Wednesday, of a study by pain scientists and a psychologist who studies love.

The study, published online in the journal PLoS ONE, sprang from a meeting of minds between Arthur Aron of State University of New York at Stony Brook, a longtime researcher of the science of love, and Dr. Sean Mackey, a pain scientist at Stanford University. The two shared a hotel room while attending a neuroscience conference a few years back. Their epiphany came one evening over drinks.

"I'd had a couple glasses of Zinfandel and was chatting about pain and the brain systems involved … and he was chatting about love and the brain systems involved," Mackey said. "And we realized, you know, they could be influencing each other."

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

(THIS IS WHY WE SHOULD READ THE BIBLE AND EAT THE THINGS GOD TELLS US TO DO-- In it The Bible - is the secret of life!)

Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science.

By David H. Freedman

Image credit: Robyn Twomey/Redux

In 2001, rumors were circulating in Greek hospitals that surgery residents, eager to rack up scalpel time, were falsely diagnosing hapless Albanian immigrants with appendicitis. At the University of Ioannina medical school’s teaching hospital, a newly minted doctor named Athina Tatsioni was discussing the rumors with colleagues when a professor who had overheard asked her if she’d like to try to prove whether they were true—he seemed to be almost daring her. She accepted the challenge and, with the professor’s and other colleagues’ help, eventually produced a formal study showing that, for whatever reason, the appendices removed from patients with Albanian names in six Greek hospitals were more than three times as likely to be perfectly healthy as those removed from patients with Greek names. “It was hard to find a journal willing to publish it, but we did,” recalls Tatsioni. “I also discovered that I really liked research.” Good thing, because the study had actually been a sort of audition. The professor, it turned out, had been putting together a team of exceptionally brash and curious young clinicians and Ph.D.s to join him in tackling an unusual and controversial agenda.

Last spring, I sat in on one of the team’s weekly meetings on the medical school’s campus, which is plunked crazily across a series of sharp hills. The building in which we met, like most at the school, had the look of a barracks and was festooned with political graffiti. But the group convened in a spacious conference room that would have been at home at a Silicon Valley start-up. Sprawled around a large table were Tatsioni and eight other youngish Greek researchers and physicians who, in contrast to the pasty younger staff frequently seen in U.S. hospitals, looked like the casually glamorous cast of a television medical drama. The professor, a dapper and soft-spoken man named John Ioannidis, loosely presided.

One of the researchers, a biostatistician named Georgia Salanti, fired up a laptop and projector and started to take the group through a study she and a few colleagues were completing that asked this question: were drug companies manipulating published research to make their drugs look good? Salanti ticked off data that seemed to indicate they were, but the other team members almost immediately started interrupting. One noted that Salanti’s study didn’t address the fact that drug-company research wasn’t measuring critically important “hard” outcomes for patients, such as survival versus death, and instead tended to measure “softer” outcomes, such as self-reported symptoms (“my chest doesn’t hurt as much today”). Another pointed out that Salanti’s study ignored the fact that when drug-company data seemed to show patients’ health improving, the data often failed to show that the drug was responsible, or that the improvement was more than marginal.

Salanti remained poised, as if the grilling were par for the course, and gamely acknowledged that the suggestions were all good—but a single study can’t prove everything, she said. Just as I was getting the sense that the data in drug studies were endlessly malleable, Ioannidis, who had mostly been listening, delivered what felt like a coup de grĂ¢ce: wasn’t it possible, he asked, that drug companies were carefully selecting the topics of their studies—for example, comparing their new drugs against those already known to be inferior to others on the market—so that they were ahead of the game even before the data juggling began? “Maybe sometimes it’s the questions that are biased, not the answers,” he said, flashing a friendly smile. Everyone nodded. Though the results of drug studies often make newspaper headlines, you have to wonder whether they prove anything at all. Indeed, given the breadth of the potential problems raised at the meeting, can any medical-research studies be trusted?

That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed. His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited; and he is a big draw at conferences. Given this exposure, and the fact that his work broadly targets everyone else’s work in medicine, as well as everything that physicians do and all the health advice we get, Ioannidis may be one of the most influential scientists alive. Yet for all his influence, he worries that the field of medical research is so pervasively flawed, and so riddled with conflicts of interest, that it might be chronically resistant to change—or even to publicly admitting that there’s a problem.

The city of Ioannina is a big college town a short drive from the ruins of a 20,000-seat amphitheater and a Zeusian sanctuary built at the site of the Dodona oracle. The oracle was said to have issued pronouncements to priests through the rustling of a sacred oak tree. Today, a different oak tree at the site provides visitors with a chance to try their own hands at extracting a prophecy. “I take all the researchers who visit me here, and almost every single one of them asks the tree the same question,” Ioannidis tells me, as we contemplate the tree the day after the team’s meeting. “‘Will my research grant be approved?’” He chuckles, but Ioannidis (pronounced yo-NEE-dees) tends to laugh not so much in mirth as to soften the sting of his attack. And sure enough, he goes on to suggest that an obsession with winning funding has gone a long way toward weakening the reliability of medical research.

He first stumbled on the sorts of problems plaguing the field, he explains, as a young physician-researcher in the early 1990s at Harvard. At the time, he was interested in diagnosing rare diseases, for which a lack of case data can leave doctors with little to go on other than intuition and rules of thumb. But he noticed that doctors seemed to proceed in much the same manner even when it came to cancer, heart disease, and other common ailments. Where were the hard data that would back up their treatment decisions? There was plenty of published research, but much of it was remarkably unscientific, based largely on observations of a small number of cases. A new “evidence-based medicine” movement was just starting to gather force, and Ioannidis decided to throw himself into it, working first with prominent researchers at Tufts University and then taking positions at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health. He was unusually well armed: he had been a math prodigy of near-celebrity status in high school in Greece, and had followed his parents, who were both physician-researchers, into medicine. Now he’d have a chance to combine math and medicine by applying rigorous statistical analysis to what seemed a surprisingly sloppy field. “I assumed that everything we physicians did was basically right, but now I was going to help verify it,” he says. “All we’d have to do was systematically review the evidence, trust what it told us, and then everything would be perfect.”

It didn’t turn out that way. In poring over medical journals, he was struck by how many findings of all types were refuted by later findings. Of course, medical-science “never minds” are hardly secret. And they sometimes make headlines, as when in recent years large studies or growing consensuses of researchers concluded that mammograms, colonoscopies, and PSA tests are far less useful cancer-detection tools than we had been told; or when widely prescribed antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil were revealed to be no more effective than a placebo for most cases of depression; or when we learned that staying out of the sun entirely can actually increase cancer risks; or when we were told that the advice to drink lots of water during intense exercise was potentially fatal; or when, last April, we were informed that taking fish oil, exercising, and doing puzzles doesn’t really help fend off Alzheimer’s disease, as long claimed. Peer-reviewed studies have come to opposite conclusions on whether using cell phones can cause brain cancer, whether sleeping more than eight hours a night is healthful or dangerous, whether taking aspirin every day is more likely to save your life or cut it short, and whether routine angioplasty works better than pills to unclog heart arteries.

But beyond the headlines, Ioannidis was shocked at the range and reach of the reversals he was seeing in everyday medical research. “Randomized controlled trials,” which compare how one group responds to a treatment against how an identical group fares without the treatment, had long been considered nearly unshakable evidence, but they, too, ended up being wrong some of the time. “I realized even our gold-standard research had a lot of problems,” he says. Baffled, he started looking for the specific ways in which studies were going wrong. And before long he discovered that the range of errors being committed was astonishing: from what questions researchers posed, to how they set up the studies, to which patients they recruited for the studies, to which measurements they took, to how they analyzed the data, to how they presented their results, to how particular studies came to be published in medical journals.

This array suggested a bigger, underlying dysfunction, and Ioannidis thought he knew what it was. “The studies were biased,” he says. “Sometimes they were overtly biased. Sometimes it was difficult to see the bias, but it was there.” Researchers headed into their studies wanting certain results—and, lo and behold, they were getting them. We think of the scientific process as being objective, rigorous, and even ruthless in separating out what is true from what we merely wish to be true, but in fact it’s easy to manipulate results, even unintentionally or unconsciously. “At every step in the process, there is room to distort results, a way to make a stronger claim or to select what is going to be concluded,” says Ioannidis. “There is an intellectual conflict of interest that pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded.”

Perhaps only a minority of researchers were succumbing to this bias, but their distorted findings were having an outsize effect on published research. To get funding and tenured positions, and often merely to stay afloat, researchers have to get their work published in well-regarded journals, where rejection rates can climb above 90 percent. Not surprisingly, the studies that tend to make the grade are those with eye-catching findings. But while coming up with eye-catching theories is relatively easy, getting reality to bear them out is another matter. The great majority collapse under the weight of contradictory data when studied rigorously. Imagine, though, that five different research teams test an interesting theory that’s making the rounds, and four of the groups correctly prove the idea false, while the one less cautious group incorrectly “proves” it true through some combination of error, fluke, and clever selection of data. Guess whose findings your doctor ends up reading about in the journal, and you end up hearing about on the evening news? Researchers can sometimes win attention by refuting a prominent finding, which can help to at least raise doubts about results, but in general it is far more rewarding to add a new insight or exciting-sounding twist to existing research than to retest its basic premises—after all, simply re-proving someone else’s results is unlikely to get you published, and attempting to undermine the work of respected colleagues can have ugly professional repercussions.

In the late 1990s, Ioannidis set up a base at the University of Ioannina. He pulled together his team, which remains largely intact today, and started chipping away at the problem in a series of papers that pointed out specific ways certain studies were getting misleading results. Other meta-researchers were also starting to spotlight disturbingly high rates of error in the medical literature. But Ioannidis wanted to get the big picture across, and to do so with solid data, clear reasoning, and good statistical analysis. The project dragged on, until finally he retreated to the tiny island of Sikinos in the Aegean Sea, where he drew inspiration from the relatively primitive surroundings and the intellectual traditions they recalled. “A pervasive theme of ancient Greek literature is that you need to pursue the truth, no matter what the truth might be,” he says. In 2005, he unleashed two papers that challenged the foundations of medical research.

He chose to publish one paper, fittingly, in the online journal PLoS Medicine, which is committed to running any methodologically sound article without regard to how “interesting” the results may be. In the paper, Ioannidis laid out a detailed mathematical proof that, assuming modest levels of researcher bias, typically imperfect research techniques, and the well-known tendency to focus on exciting rather than highly plausible theories, researchers will come up with wrong findings most of the time. Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right. His model predicted, in different fields of medical research, rates of wrongness roughly corresponding to the observed rates at which findings were later convincingly refuted: 80 percent of non-randomized studies (by far the most common type) turn out to be wrong, as do 25 percent of supposedly gold-standard randomized trials, and as much as 10 percent of the platinum-standard large randomized trials. The article spelled out his belief that researchers were frequently manipulating data analyses, chasing career-advancing findings rather than good science, and even using the peer-review process—in which journals ask researchers to help decide which studies to publish—to suppress opposing views. “You can question some of the details of John’s calculations, but it’s hard to argue that the essential ideas aren’t absolutely correct,” says Doug Altman, an Oxford University researcher who directs the Centre for Statistics in Medicine.

Still, Ioannidis anticipated that the community might shrug off his findings: sure, a lot of dubious research makes it into journals, but we researchers and physicians know to ignore it and focus on the good stuff, so what’s the big deal? The other paper headed off that claim. He zoomed in on 49 of the most highly regarded research findings in medicine over the previous 13 years, as judged by the science community’s two standard measures: the papers had appeared in the journals most widely cited in research articles, and the 49 articles themselves were the most widely cited articles in these journals. These were articles that helped lead to the widespread popularity of treatments such as the use of hormone-replacement therapy for menopausal women, vitamin E to reduce the risk of heart disease, coronary stents to ward off heart attacks, and daily low-dose aspirin to control blood pressure and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Ioannidis was putting his contentions to the test not against run-of-the-mill research, or even merely well-accepted research, but against the absolute tip of the research pyramid. Of the 49 articles, 45 claimed to have uncovered effective interventions. Thirty-four of these claims had been retested, and 14 of these, or 41 percent, had been convincingly shown to be wrong or significantly exaggerated. If between a third and a half of the most acclaimed research in medicine was proving untrustworthy, the scope and impact of the problem were undeniable. That article was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Driving me back to campus in his smallish SUV—after insisting, as he apparently does with all his visitors, on showing me a nearby lake and the six monasteries situated on an islet within it—Ioannidis apologized profusely for running a yellow light, explaining with a laugh that he didn’t trust the truck behind him to stop. Considering his willingness, even eagerness, to slap the face of the medical-research community, Ioannidis comes off as thoughtful, upbeat, and deeply civil. He’s a careful listener, and his frequent grin and semi-apologetic chuckle can make the sharp prodding of his arguments seem almost good-natured. He is as quick, if not quicker, to question his own motives and competence as anyone else’s. A neat and compact 45-year-old with a trim mustache, he presents as a sort of dashing nerd—Giancarlo Giannini with a bit of Mr. Bean.

The humility and graciousness seem to serve him well in getting across a message that is not easy to digest or, for that matter, believe: that even highly regarded researchers at prestigious institutions sometimes churn out attention-grabbing findings rather than findings likely to be right. But Ioannidis points out that obviously questionable findings cram the pages of top medical journals, not to mention the morning headlines. Consider, he says, the endless stream of results from nutritional studies in which researchers follow thousands of people for some number of years, tracking what they eat and what supplements they take, and how their health changes over the course of the study. “Then the researchers start asking, ‘What did vitamin E do? What did vitamin C or D or A do? What changed with calorie intake, or protein or fat intake? What happened to cholesterol levels? Who got what type of cancer?’” he says. “They run everything through the mill, one at a time, and they start finding associations, and eventually conclude that vitamin X lowers the risk of cancer Y, or this food helps with the risk of that disease.” In a single week this fall, Google’s news page offered these headlines: “More Omega-3 Fats Didn’t Aid Heart Patients”; “Fruits, Vegetables Cut Cancer Risk for Smokers”; “Soy May Ease Sleep Problems in Older Women”; and dozens of similar stories.

When a five-year study of 10,000 people finds that those who take more vitamin X are less likely to get cancer Y, you’d think you have pretty good reason to take more vitamin X, and physicians routinely pass these recommendations on to patients. But these studies often sharply conflict with one another. Studies have gone back and forth on the cancer-preventing powers of vitamins A, D, and E; on the heart-health benefits of eating fat and carbs; and even on the question of whether being overweight is more likely to extend or shorten your life. How should we choose among these dueling, high-profile nutritional findings? Ioannidis suggests a simple approach: ignore them all.

For starters, he explains, the odds are that in any large database of many nutritional and health factors, there will be a few apparent connections that are in fact merely flukes, not real health effects—it’s a bit like combing through long, random strings of letters and claiming there’s an important message in any words that happen to turn up. But even if a study managed to highlight a genuine health connection to some nutrient, you’re unlikely to benefit much from taking more of it, because we consume thousands of nutrients that act together as a sort of network, and changing intake of just one of them is bound to cause ripples throughout the network that are far too complex for these studies to detect, and that may be as likely to harm you as help you. Even if changing that one factor does bring on the claimed improvement, there’s still a good chance that it won’t do you much good in the long run, because these studies rarely go on long enough to track the decades-long course of disease and ultimately death. Instead, they track easily measurable health “markers” such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood-sugar levels, and meta-experts have shown that changes in these markers often don’t correlate as well with long-term health as we have been led to believe.

On the relatively rare occasions when a study does go on long enough to track mortality, the findings frequently upend those of the shorter studies. (For example, though the vast majority of studies of overweight individuals link excess weight to ill health, the longest of them haven’t convincingly shown that overweight people are likely to die sooner, and a few of them have seemingly demonstrated that moderately overweight people are likely to live longer.) And these problems are aside from ubiquitous measurement errors (for example, people habitually misreport their diets in studies), routine misanalysis (researchers rely on complex software capable of juggling results in ways they don’t always understand), and the less common, but serious, problem of outright fraud (which has been revealed, in confidential surveys, to be much more widespread than scientists like to acknowledge).

If a study somehow avoids every one of these problems and finds a real connection to long-term changes in health, you’re still not guaranteed to benefit, because studies report average results that typically represent a vast range of individual outcomes. Should you be among the lucky minority that stands to benefit, don’t expect a noticeable improvement in your health, because studies usually detect only modest effects that merely tend to whittle your chances of succumbing to a particular disease from small to somewhat smaller. “The odds that anything useful will survive from any of these studies are poor,” says Ioannidis—dismissing in a breath a good chunk of the research into which we sink about $100 billion a year in the United States alone.

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All over 40s should consider daily dose of aspirin: leading expert

Prof Peter Rothwell of Oxford University has found that taking the painkiller daily for five years can reduce the chance of developing colorectal cancer by a quarter and cut deaths from the disease by a third.

He said these results are the 'tip of the iceberg' and are likely to be an underestimate of its benefit in colorectal cancer prevention.

n addition he believes a similar effect is likely in other cancers such as breast, ovarian, womb, stomach and small bowel.

Prof Rothwell who is 46 said he and his wife both started taking low-dose aspirin themselves in order to reduce the chance of cancer several years ago and others in their 40s and 50s should consider it.

"The whole approach to aspirin is likely to change over the next few years. Currently people take it to prevent vascular events (such as heart attacks and stroke) but it is likely that in five years people will be taking it to prevent non-vascular diseases like cancer as well."

The drug, which is over 110 years old, was originally formulated as a painkiller but researchers are increasingly finding new benefits for it in diseases ranging from heart disease to dementia.

Prof Rothwell examined trials in which people took 75mg of aspirin a day for an average of five years and followed them up for 20 years.

The findings are published in The Lancet medical journal.

This is a lower dose than when used as a painkiller and costs the NHS just three pence per patient per day.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in Britain with around 39,000 people diagnosed each year and around 16,000 die annually.

Prof Rothwell, of the John Radcliffe Hospital and Oxford University, said the trials looked at the benefits of taking aspirin for five years but he suspects the effect of taking it for longer would 'undoubtably be much larger'.

He said as colorectal cancers start to appear in the people aged 55 and older and take around ten years to develop, the ideal time to start taking aspirin would be in the 40s and continue with it until around the age of 75 when the side effects of aspirin start to outweigh the benefits. The effect of taking aspirin may continue for around ten years after stopping it, he said.

The major side effect of aspirin is internal bleeding because it can disturb the lining of the stomach but this is reduced at lower doses.

The Department of Health has announced that pilots of a new colorectal screening programme will start next year in people using a scope to look for changes in the bowel that could signal cancer.

Prof Rothwell said use of aspirin would dovetail perfectly with the new programme as the drug prevents more cancers at the top of the bowel which will not be detected by the screening test.

There was a 70 per cent reduction in cancers and deaths from cancers in the upper colon among those taking aspirin for five years, the analysis found.

Aspirin blocks the effects of substance called cyclo-oxygenase and is produced by some forms of cancer which is why Prof Rothwell believes other cancers will respond to aspirin.

Other experts have now called for guidelines to be drawn up on how aspirin should be used to prevent cancer.

Dr Robert Benamouzig and Dr Bernard Uzzan, of the Avicenne Hospital, in Bobigny, France, wrote in an accompanying editorial: “This interesting study could incite clinicians to turn to primary prevention of colorectal cancer by aspirin at least in high risk-populations. Specific guidelines for aspirin chemoprevention would be the next logical step."

Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer said: “These are very positive results. This was a big study over a long period of time and reinforces the message that aspirin may be important in significantly reducing the number of cases and deaths from bowel cancer.

"The results suggest that taking aspirin in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle might reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer. However, anyone considering starting a course of medication should first consult their GP.

“As Professor Rothwell suggests, a low dose of aspirin may fit well with the flexible sigmoidoscopy screening programme that will be launched by the Government next year. We will have to see how these results might be considered during the roll out of flexible sigmoidoscopy.”

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