Health Points: Tuesday

Of 216 reported cases so far, 68 have been confirmed by lab results, public information officer Jim Shires said. Nine people have been hospitalized, but only one was believed to still be in the hospital, Shires said.

Shires is part of a nine-person incident management team from Jefferson County that arrived to help Alamosa officials respond to the outbreak, which health officials said may be caused by the municipal water system.
Children who take vitamin D supplements may be less likely to develop type 1 diabetes later in life, according to researchers who analyzed the findings of five previously published studies.


The researchers found that children who were given additional vitamin D were about 30 percent less likely to develop type 1 diabetes than children who didn't receive vitamin D supplements. The evidence also indicated that the higher and more regular the dose of vitamin D, the lower the risk of developing diabetes.
It is tempting to look for a quick fix to cellulite, especially when so many advertisements claim to provide a solution. Unfortunately, there is no overnight cure. Nothing can get below the surface of the skin and rearrange the connective tissue or fat cells underneath. Because fat is compressible, some procedures, such as body wraps, may appear to provide a solution to smoothing the skin. But any visible effects will be temporary -- unlikely to last more than 24 hours…


…You can diminish the appearance of cellulite or reduce the chances you will get it with regular exercise, especially strength training. A good strength-training program will increase your chances of maintaining lean muscle as you get older, and this in turn reduces your chances of increasing the size of your fat cells.
But as I think about it more, I realize that when organic really pays is when this money—the very money we raised the other night—goes to fund new research that then gets into the hands of the people who really need it, such as a mom who learns that feeding their children organic foods can reduce their dietary pesticide exposure by 97 percent, and then makes the immediate switch to organic baby food. Or, people who learn that of the 11 most important nutrients, organic foods contain, on average, 25 percent higher concentrations of these nutrients, and then switch to organics in order to feed their bodies more nutrient-dense foods. How about the farmer who learns that even very low levels of organophosphate insecticides can disrupt developing brains and nervous systems, and then immediately stops spraying his crops for the sake of the health of his grandbabies growing up in a house across the field. Or a diabetes sufferer who learns that eating vegetables rich in fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium could lead to a 28 percent lower risk of Type-2 diabetes, and then starts serving his children more vegetables, so they don’t have to suffer the way mom and dad did.
"Just what the world doesn't need is another way to get as much food as they want whenever they want it," said Jeanne Goldberg, a professor of nutrition science at Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition.


The unlimited quantity has turned some sporting events into games of can-you-top-this in the stands, with fans competing to see who can shovel the most hot dogs down their gullets. But for the most part, the scene is the same as in any other section.

"People knocking that stuff back isn't exactly the prettiest thing to watch," Drew Nurenberg, 30, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, who bought all-you-can-eat seats with his wife for a Philadelphia Flyers game last month, said. He added: "People looked like they were taking advantage of it, but not overly taking advantage."
The problem of obesity cannot be reduced simply to genetics, the researchers said, and it also cannot be blamed solely on our environments or learned behaviors. Media coverage, they advised, should highlight that the obesity epidemic is the result of a variety of factors, and that change requires a comprehensive approach that tackles the problem from all sides.


"Obesity's not rocket science," said Dr. Diane Finegood, director of CIHR's Institute for Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes. "It's a lot more complex."
Is this news? Not to T. Colin Campbell, author of the book "The China Study," which details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer.


"I get frustrated when I see articles like this--time and time again--being published by researchers who know not that much of their findings have already been shown before," Campbell said, when I asked him if he'd seen the study.

"These earlier results are simply ignored, thus awaiting rediscovery by some future researcher or medical practitioner. This is the main question for so many similar reports...why haven't we heard this before?"
It used to be that the only teens seen at a gym were students on athletic teams, intent on additional training.


But in recent years, some Chicago-area gyms have become preferred hangouts for a growing number of high school students who want to be fit and healthy. Many also have discovered that gyms provide something equally important: a place to gossip, flirt and socialize with peers.

Bad Diet, Good Diet: Sugar vs. Vegan

According to a new study eating a diet rich in sugar and sweets has been linked to asthma in kids. Charlene Laino of WebMD Medical News is on it:
Sugar might do more than just plump up our children, it could also help give them asthma, animal research suggests.


Asthma now affects nearly 9% of children and teens, a figure that has doubled since the 1980s, according to a study published last year.

Poor eating habits, including frequent consumption of candy and other sugary foods, are among factors blamed for the increase of asthma in children and teens, says Sonja Kierstein, PhD, of the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Kierstein and colleagues hypothesized that a sugar-rich diet may prime the immune system of the airways to allergic inflammation. The inflammation, in turn, can cause a narrowing of the airways and mucus production, resulting in asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

Kierstein, who performed the study while at the University of Pennsylvania, presented the findings here at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Okay, better news. Research has determined that a plant food rich vegan diet may help ease rheumatoid arthritis. Reuters reports:
A gluten-free vegan diet full of nuts, sunflower seeds, fruit and vegetables appears to offer protection against heart attacks and strokes for people with rheumatoid arthritis, Swedish researchers said on Tuesday.


The diet appeared to lower cholesterol and also affect the immune system, easing some symptoms associated with the painful joint condition, they said.

The study suggested diet could play an important role for people with rheumatoid arthritis who are often more prone to heart attacks, strokes and clogged arteries, said a team from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

"These findings are compatible with previous results of vegetarian/vegan dietary regimens in non-rheumatoid arthritis subjects which have shown lower blood pressure, lower body mass index and lower incidence of cardiovascular disease," the researchers wrote in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.
Don’t eat sugar, and, eat lots and lots of fruits and vegetables—sounds like a fantastic idea!

Health Points: Friday

The Food and Drug Administration listed poor sanitation and other deficiencies in 47% of 199 inspections from January 2001 to February 2007, according to a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. None of the cases was referred to the FDA's enforcement arm for further action.

E. coli bacteria in bagged spinach from California killed three people and sickened at least 205 in 2006. The spinach may have been tainted when feral pigs roamed through cattle feces at a nearby ranch and crossed into the spinach fields, investigators from the FDA and California said last year.
The best that Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and one of the study’s authors, can offer is a few guidelines and observations about why studies have yet to answer the stretching questions.


If your goal is to prevent injury, Dr. Gilchrist said, stretching does not seem to be enough. Warming up, though, can help. If you start out by moving through a range of motions that you’ll use during activity, you are less likely to be injured.

In fact, Dr. Gilchrist said, in her review of published papers, every one of the handful of studies that concluded that stretching prevented injuries included warm-ups with the stretches.
The legislation is aimed at curbing the fallout from Americans' unhealthy eating habits, seen in rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The hope is that the labels will help people make healthier choices when they're eating out.


But dozens of studies have produced mixed results on whether nutrition labeling improves consumers' eating habits. It can't hurt to make the information available, nutritionists say, however, the truth is, if people want a Big Mac for lunch, knowing that it has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat probably isn't going to stop them.
Scientists said they, too, are concerned about the findings of the water testing commissioned by the Associated Press, but several said that there is no need for people to stop drinking tap water.


The contaminants present are "in the parts-per-billion level and essentially at homeopathic doses," said Phyllis Gardner, a Stanford University physician and pharmacologist. "It can't possibly have an effect."

The fact that the substances are in tap water at all concerns Gardner and others. "I wish they weren't there," said Mary Vore, a professor of toxicology at the University of Kentucky. "But I will keep drinking the water."
New rules announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will tighten air quality standards set a decade ago, reflecting a growing amount of research indicating that smog poses greater health risks than previously thought.


The air in Chicago, which met federal smog standards for the first time last year, will fail again under the new limit.

Under the regulations outlined by top EPA officials, the allowable level of smog in the air will be 75 parts per billion, down from the current standard of 85 parts per billion but higher than 60 parts per billion recommended by pediatricians and environmental groups to protect children and the elderly.
A recent study of the PACE (People with Arthritis Can Exercise) program by researchers at the University of North Carolina showed significant improvements in reducing pain and fatigue among those who completed the eight-week course, with benefits persisting for up to six months after completion of the course.


"I liked it because it's not just an exercise program," said Laurie Maietta, who taught the PACE course last fall at Panther Physical Therapy in Hampton. "You have the exercise program, an educational program, and a relaxation component as well."

Arthritis sufferers tend to be less fit than seniors who don't suffer from this condition. Which is too bad, said Dr. Moira Davenport, director of sports and emergency medicine for Allegheny General Hospital, because "exercise can definitely help people suffering from arthritis. It strengthens the muscle around the affected joints, and takes away some of the pressure and pain."
The study, by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, found that men and women who were severely obese were 45 percent more likely than normal-weight adults to develop pancreatic cancer over five years…


…Pancreatic cancer is difficult to catch early, and 95 percent of patients die within five years of being diagnosed. Because of this dismal prognosis, researchers consider it particularly important to pinpoint the modifiable risk factors for the disease.
In many ways, pediatricians do know more than parents. When your doctor says your newborn needs to ride in a rear-facing car seat, don't argue. When he says your 2-month-old with a 105-degree fever needs to get to the doctor's office -- and fast -- you'd better listen.


But there are far more areas that are gray and have no science, or not very good science, to back them up, says our panel of pediatric experts. They say that sometimes, this means your pediatrician is giving you his or her opinion, not medical fact.

"There are several ways to approach many issues in pediatrics. There isn't one clear-cut way," says Dr. Robert Needlman, co-author of the latest edition of "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care." "Pediatricians really should make a distinction between what's based on research and what's based on our own particular beliefs."
The U.S. federal standards for acceptable levels of pharmaceutical residue in bottled water are the same as those for tap water -- there aren't any.


The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the $12 billion bottled water industry in the United States, sets limits for chemicals, bacteria and radiation, but doesn't address pharmaceuticals.

Some water that's bottled comes from pristine, often underground rural sources; other brands have a source no more remote than local tap water. Either way, bottlers insist their products are safe and say they generally clean the water with advanced treatments, though not explicitly for pharmaceuticals.
Tests on mice show that diacetyl, a component of artificial butter flavoring, can cause a condition known as lymphocytic bronchiolitis, said the team at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.


The condition can lead to obliterative bronchiolitis -- or "popcorn lung" -- a rare and debilitating disease seen in workers at microwave popcorn packaging plants and at least one consumer.

At least two microwave popcorn makers -- ConAgra Foods Inc and Weaver Popcorn Co Inc -- have said recently they would stop using diacetyl.