Thursday: Health Points

"I never would have thought that we would be seeing these effects into the later 20s," said study co-author Kim Dietrich, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. "I'm actually quite astounded and quite worried about this. Although lead levels have been going down in this country, a large proportion of the population now in their 20s and 30s had blood levels in this neurotoxic range."

Childhood lead exposure has been linked with anti-social behavior, lower IQ, attention deficits, hyperactivity and weak executive control functions, all of which are risk factors for future delinquent behavior (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, in particular, is a risk factor for adult criminal behavior). Studies have also related sales of leaded gasoline or high atmospheric lead levels with criminal behavior.
Peak Corn: Blame Earl Butz. Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford's Secretary of Agriculture brought in the Farm Bill that dramatically increased the amount of corn produced in America. He encouraged farmers to "get big or get out," and to plant crops like corn "from fence row to fence row." Further billions in subsidies to farmers encouraged production, and soon America was awash in cheap grain, and with it cheap meat.


Peak Dirt: Really, Peak Dirt- the world is losing soil 10 to 20 times faster than it is replenishing it. Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe tells us that dirt is complicated stuff, made from sand or silt, then years of plants adding nutrition, bugs and worms adding their excrement, dying and rotting.
California Water Service Company reports high levels of mercury in water making it useless for drinking. Every attempts of purifying the water, such as boiling it, are useless, because the pollution level is high.


Mercury is much more dangerous when drinking than when breathing. However, boiling the water leads to mercury release into the air, so the pollution and health risk still exists.

California Water Service Company is now notifying residents about health concerns. Sheriff's Office itself is investigating the case to find out the reasons of why mercury level is so high.
Get enough sleep: Most of us know that money can't buy happiness, but who knew that a good night's sleep just might? That's a key finding of that University of Michigan study. "Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night," says study author Norbert Schwarz, Ph.D., a professor of psychology.


Take the long view: Having a sense of perspective will also improve your attitude. "It gives you more patience, and it certainly awakens you to the preciousness of the moment, which is fleeting," says M.J. Ryan, author of The Happiness Makeover. She remembers the times when her daughter wanted to sit on her lap and watch a video. "Yes, I had other things to do. But I said to myself, 'How long will this last?' I'm grateful for that time with her."
The germ, resistant to some antibiotics, has become a regular menace in hospitals and nursing homes. The study found it played a role in nearly 300,000 hospitalizations in 2005, more than double the number in 2000.


The infection, Clostridium difficile, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and a more serious intestinal condition known as colitis. It is spread by spores in feces. But the spores are difficult to kill with most conventional household cleaners or antibacterial soap.

C-diff, as it's known, has grown resistant to certain antibiotics that work against other colon bacteria. The result: When patients take those antibiotics, competing bacteria die off and C-diff explodes.
Dr. Monique M. B. Breteler told Reuters Health that her group had previously found that men, but not women, with a silent heart attack are more likely to have a stroke than men who had a recognized heart attack or those who had not had any heart attack.


To examine whether this might also be the case for dementia and so-called cerebral small vessel disease, Breteler of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and her colleagues examined data for more than 6300 participants in a population-based study.

At the start of the study, from 1990 to 1993, the subjects were classified as having a recognized heart attack, not having a heart attack, or having had an unrecognized heart attack based on EKG tracings. They were followed for the occurrence of dementia, of which there were 613 cases by 2005.
The Food and Drug Administration gained new powers in March to require distribution limits or other restrictions on the sale of new medicines.


"That's taking a considerable amount of time more for every application. That will go away in time," Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an interview with Reuters.

At present, the process is adding days or weeks to reviews of drugs that need the additional safety measures, she said.

Woodcock has worked at the FDA for more than two decades. In March, she returned to a previous post running the agency's drugs division after taking other leadership responsibilities.
Social psychologists have already shown that thoughts about death can spur buying behaviour. For example, in the months following 9/11 shops in the US noted a spike in purchases of luxury products, canned goods and sweets.


To better understand the link between thoughts of mortality and the urge to consume, Naomi Mandel at Arizona State University, Tempe, and Dirk Smeesters at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, asked 746 students to write essays on one of two topics: their death or a visit to the dentist. Each participant also completed a questionnaire designed to evaluate their level of self-esteem.

They found that subjects with low self-esteem who wrote about death ate more cookies, when given the opportunity, and bought more items from a hypothetical shopping list compared to those who wrote about the dentist. In people with high self-esteem, thoughts of death had little effect.

Dopey About Heart Attacks...

According to a new study most people don’t know the symptoms of a heart attack. Reuters reports:
Symptoms can include nausea and pain in the jaw, chest or left arm. But the research team said shorter hospital stays and a move to outpatient treatment have decreased the amount of patient education on the subject.

Kathleen Dracup and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing said they looked at 3,522 patients in the United States, Australia and New Zealand who had previously suffered a heart attack or had undergone a procedure, such as angioplasty, for heart disease.

They found that 44 percent of them scored poorly on a true-false test measuring how savvy they were about symptoms.
Here’s an idea. Try not to have one in the first place. Remember, only you can prevent heart attacks.

Bulking Up on Heart Disease

New research claims that athletes who “bulk up” increase their chances of developing heart disease. Joene Hendry of Reuters reports:
"Our work demonstrates a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome, an established cardiovascular risk factor, among retired National Football League (NFL) linemen," said Dr. Marc A. Miller, of Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York. Football linemen are position players commonly of large body size.

A clustering of heart disease and diabetes risk factors including high blood pressure, low levels of 'good' cholesterol, high levels of blood lipids (fats), and elevated blood sugar and body weight make up the metabolic syndrome.

When Miller and colleagues compared metabolic syndrome rates among 510 retired NFL players, they found that nearly 60 percent of linemen had metabolic syndrome, compared with 30 percent of those playing other positions.

Moreover, greater than 85 percent of the linemen were obese, as opposed to half of the non-linemen, the researchers report in The American Journal of Cardiology.
We’ve seen this before:
Personally, I think all professional sports should discourage this kind of training. Clearly, bigger is NOT better.

Lower Cholesterol, Lower Prostate Cancer-Risk

Here’s more prostate cancer news. A new study has determined that men who lower their cholesterol cut their risk of prostate cancer. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports:
"Prostate cancer is controlled by the male hormone testosterone. The main molecule that forms testosterone is cholesterol," said Dr. Murugesan Manoharan, an associate professor of urology at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, who was not involved in the study. "So it is known that prostate cancer is related to testosterone, and testosterone is related to cholesterol."

The study's inference is that by lowering cholesterol, you also lower PSA, which in turn may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, Manoharan said. "Obviously this is a very small study and does not confirm anything, but it is a very good start that could lead to something more at a later point," he said.

The results of the study were expected to be presented Wednesday at the American Urological Association annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

For the study, researchers collected data on 1,214 men taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. The researchers found that PSA levels were lower after starting the statins, and the drop in PSA was proportional to the drop in cholesterol.
Too bad the study used statins to lower cholesterol—stupid. Instead, try this: Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally.

Heart Health: Aspirin a Miracle?

“With very few exceptions, nobody is predestined to have a heart attack. Heart disease is easily preventable, but not by taking aspirin,” explains Dr. Fuhrman, but a new study links taking aspirin with lower blood pressure. Ed Edelson of HealthDay News reports:
The new report is the first study to show the drug's benefit -- although only when taken at night -- with prehypertension, defined as blood pressure just below the 140/90 level. Prehypertension is a known warning sign of future risk of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.

Why aspirin should do its good work for blood pressure at night but not in the daytime is not clear, Hermida said. Research indicates that it can slow the production of hormones and other substances in the body that cause clotting, many of which are produced while the body is at rest.

The three-month study included 244 adults diagnosed with prehypertension. A third of them were advised to follow general rules of hygiene and diet designed to reduce blood pressure, another third were told to take a 100-milligram aspirin tablet every night at bedtime, and the final third were told to take the same aspirin dose on awakening.

Researchers monitored blood pressure levels at 20-minute intervals from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and at 30-minute intervals at night before the trial began and three months later.

Systolic blood pressure (the higher number in the 140/90 reading) dropped 5.4 points and diastolic pressure by 3.4 points for those taking aspirin before bedtime. No drop in blood pressure was found in those taking morning aspirin or following the general guidelines.
Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t agree with all the mumbo-jumbo surrounding aspirin and heart health. He talks about it here:
Five studies to date have examined the effects of daily or every-other-day aspirin use for primary prevention for periods of four to seven years.1 Most participants were men older than 50 years. Meta-analysis of the pooled data from all of the studies show that aspirin therapy reduced risk for coronary events by 28 percent, but with no decrease in mortality. In other words, aspirin use did not result in longer life. There was no reduction of death due to heart attack or stroke.


Based on this unimpressive data, and in spite of pooled data that shows for most adults, aspirin therapy causes more harm than good,2 most Americans take it for granted that taking an aspirin every day will prevent heart disease.

Advice on aspirin for prevention against heart attacks and stroke must be based on each individual’s cardiac risk. For those at very high risk, with known risk factors such as the conventional, high-saturated fat, low-nutrient diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and overweight, the benefits of aspirin may outweigh the risk. But for those of us who eat healthfully, exercise and don’t smoke, taking aspirin will increase our risk of cerebral hemorrhage and other bleeding complications.

For healthy people, the risks outweigh the benefits. That is why, in contrast to typical physician recommendations aimed at reducing risk, I recommend that people eliminate their risk factors. Daily aspirin consumption is for those satisfied with mediocrity and willing to gamble with their lives.
I know a few people that take aspirin daily and all of them are overweight, out of shape, and take aspirin as a result of previous heart trouble. Seems like an ineffective easy way out to me.
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Have a Healthy Heart!

How do you keep your heart healthy? Well, for a long time Americans have turned to drugs. Has it worked? Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times investigates:
While doctors still advise patients to diet, exercise and stop smoking, the medical community has adopted an almost singular focus on cholesterol-lowering drugs as the fastest and best way to battle heart disease. Americans spend $18 billion a year on cholesterol-reducing drugs, making them the nation’s biggest-selling class of drugs.

Clearly, drug treatments have played a role in the health of American hearts. Since 1950, age-adjusted death rates from cardiovascular disease have dropped 60 percent, a statistic praised by government health officials.

Average blood pressure and cholesterol levels are dropping, partly because of drug treatments. But drugs don’t get all the credit. A sharp drop in smoking has had a huge impact on heart health. And major changes in diet have also played a role. Surveys of the food supply suggest that consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol has decreased since the early 1900s. Medical care has also improved.

But an important lesson from the last 50 years is that when it comes to improving heart health, it is important to look beyond the medicine cabinet.

Just a few small changes — eating more fish, vegetables, nuts and fiber — can have a major impact on your risk for heart problems. For some people, drinking moderate amounts of wine may offer additional benefits. Even a 55-year-old man who is about 20 pounds overweight and does not exercise regularly will have a heart-disease risk far below average if he regularly consumes fish, nuts, fiber and vegetables and drinks moderate amounts of wine.
Okay, it makes sense that drugs would make an impact, but, are they really the best option? Dr. Fuhrman has his doubts. He points out some the drawbacks of drugs:
When resorting to medical intervention, rather than dietary modifications, other problems arise, reducing the potential reduction in mortality possible, as these individuals are at risk of serious side effects from the medication. The known side effects for various statins (the most popular and effective medications to lower cholesterol) include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia.
So, what’s the answer? America’s got it half right. You do need to change your diet, but for OPTIMAL health you’ve got to make a profound change—not just a few small changes. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
When you drop body fat, your cholesterol lowers somewhat. But when you reduce animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein intake, your cholesterol lowers dramatically. In fact, when a high-fiber, high-nutrient, vegetable-heavy diet was tested in a scientific investigation, it was found to lower cholesterol even more than most cholesterol-lowering drugs.1


The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high-protein foods) are without question. However, they contain an assortment of additional heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol.2

In areas of the world where people eat a diet of unrefined plant foods, people have total cholesterol levels below 150, and there is zero incidence of heart disease in the population.3

The average cholesterol level in rural China, as documented in the massive China Cornell Project, was 127 mg/dl. Heart attacks were rare, and both cancer and heart disease rates plummeted as cholesterol levels fell, which reflected very low animal product consumption. The lowest occurrence of heart disease and cancer occurred in the group that consumed plant-based diets with less than two servings of animal products per week.
I think most people approach health and nutrition too cavalierly. You need to be vigilant. It’s a fulltime job. You can’t go half-assed—know what I mean?
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Wednesday: Health Points

Harvard researcher Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, and colleagues in Italy studied 870 people diagnosed with DVT from 1995 to 2005. They compared their particulate air pollution exposure in the year before their diagnosis to that of 1,210 matched people without DVT.

They found that DVT risk goes up 70% for every 10 microgram-per-cubic-meterrise in particulate air pollution above 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air (the lowest pollution level measured in the study).

The U.S. EPA standard for particulate air pollution is 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air. However, it's likely that fine and very fine particles cause most of the health risks linked to particulate air pollution.
The simple truth, experts say, is that pounds must also be shed to keep cardiovascular trouble away.


"There is a debate out there about whether this generation is going to live as long as their parents, and the truth is they probably won't," said study author Dr. Gregory L. Burke, director of the division of public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of medicine in Winston-Salem, NC.

"My ultimate worry is that we've seen a 50-year decline in cardiovascular disease mortality, but if you begin to look at recent trends, it's beginning to plateau," he added. "And my fear is that because of the increase in obesity we're going to begin to see a reversal of that trend where heart disease rates begin to go up."
On Saturday, a tornado with the second-strongest rating killed six people, destroyed a 20-block area, and blew dust off mountains of mining waste, or chat piles.


"You can look at the chat piles and see that a lot of the material has blown off," said John Sparkman, head of the Picher housing authority. "We went up on a chat pile an hour and a half after the tornado hit, and you could see dust blowing fine material all over the place from that vantage point."

Long-term exposure to lead dust poses a health risk, particularly to young children.
The two conditions appear to increase one's risk for retinal vein occlusion, a condition that leads to vision loss. It results from one or more veins carrying blood from the eye to the heart becoming blocked and causing bleeding or fluid build-up, according to background information in the report published in the May issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.


The Irish study found that people with high blood pressure had more than 3.5 times the risk of developing retinal vein occlusion than those without it. People with high cholesterol levels had an approximately 2.5-fold higher risk of retinal vein occlusion.

The findings come from an analysis of 21 previously published studies involving 2,916 people with retinal vein occlusion and 28,646 people without the condition. It found that 63.6 percent of patients with retinal vein occlusion also had hypertension, compared with 36.2 percent of people without the eye condition. High cholesterol levels were more than twice as likely to be found in those with retinal vein occlusion as those without (35.1 percent vs. 16.7 percent).
Fairbank Farms is issuing a voluntary recall of selected ground beef products produced at its Ashville, N.Y., facility and sold through Price Chopper, Shaw's, BJ's, and Wilson Farms retail outlets and C&S Wholesale distributor.


The affected product may contain small pieces of hard plastic. All recalled products have either a "sell-by" date of 05/13/08, 05/15/08, or a "Julian date 124" on the package's label.
New research shows "alarming levels" of obesity in most ethnic groups in the United States, principal investigator Dr. Gregory L. Burke, of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina told Reuters Health. The study also confirms the potentially deadly toll obesity exacts on the heart and blood vessels.


"The obesity epidemic has the potential to reduce further gains in U.S. life expectancy, largely through an effect on cardiovascular disease mortality (death)," Burke and colleagues warn in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Among 6,814 middle-age or older adults participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, or "MESA" study, researchers found that more than two thirds of white, African American and Hispanic participants were overweight and one third to one half were obese.
The question is loaded and points to a really interesting diagnosis: What IS the biggest environmental problem on the planet? The answer is subjective, of course. If you are talking about global warming then coal plants are the biggest problem on the planet. If you are talking about natural resource preservation then deforestation is the biggest problem. Insert water for life sustainability and disease, or plastics for waste. To be sure, cigarettes are no one’s friend: Neither health nor the environment. In fact, in terms of litter, they are the biggest source of it: More than two billion pounds of cigarette butts are discarded worldwide – more than two pounds for every person in China. I use that country as an example because as I traveled from Beijing southward along the Silk Route, people still smoked a lot – everywhere. In Southeast Asia too people light up.


Smokers’ waste is rather easy to calculate. Figure out how many cigarettes are smoked and you’ll find out how many butts are tossed. You can’t recycle ‘em. One thing I’d like to know is the emission factor, or pollution due to smoking.
The experiments were conducted with the brain cells of rats and they show that contact with this ingredient called methylisothiazoline, or MIT, causes neurological damage.


Which products contain this chemical compound MIT? Head and Shoulders, Suave, Clairol and Pantene Hair Conditioner all contain this ingredient. Researchers are concerned that exposure to this chemical by pregnant women could put their fetus at risk for abnormal brain development. In other people, exposure could also be a factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other nervous system disorders.

The chemical causes these effects by preventing communication between neurons. Essentially, it slows the networking of neurons, and since the nervous system and brain function on a system of neural networks, the slowing of this network will suppress and impair the normal function of the brain and nervous system.

Living to 100

Do you want to live forever? I do. I plan on sticking around for as long as possible and Dan Buettner of The Huffington Post has compiled a list of nine healthy habits that’ll help get you to 100. Take a look:
For the the last five years, I've been taking teams of scientists to five pockets around the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives. We call these places the Blue Zones. We found a Bronze-age mountain culture in Sardinia, Italy, that has 20 times as many 100-year-olds as the U.S. does, proportionally. In Okinawa, Japan, we found people with the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world. In the Blue Zones (Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, Calif.; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica), people live 10 years longer, experience a sixth the rate of cardiovascular disease and a fifth the rate of major cancers.
  1. Move naturally: Be active without thinking about it. Identify activities you enjoy and make them a part of your day. Cut calories by 20 percent.
  2. Cut calories by 20 percent: Practice "Hara hachi bi," the Okinawan reminder to stop eating once their stomachs are 80 percent full.
  3. Plant-based diet: No, you don't need to become a vegetarian, but do bump up your intake of fruits and veggies.
  4. Drink red wine: In moderation.
  5. Plan de Vida: Determine your life purpose. Why do you get up in the morning?
  6. Down shift: Take time to relieve stress. You may have to literally schedule it into your day, but relaxation is key.
  7. Belong/participate in a spiritual community.
  8. Put loved ones first/make family a priority.
  9. Pick the right tribe: The people surrounding you influence your health more than almost any other factor.
These are fantastic suggestions. Be active, eat plants, and relax—perfect! You won’t get much argument out of Dr. Fuhrman:
Increasing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and raw nuts and seeds (and greatly decreasing the consumption of animal products) offers profound increased longevity potential, due in large part to broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients that a vegetable-based diet contains…

… Centenarian studies in Europe illustrate that those individuals living into their hundreds were likely to have consumed a plant-based diet consisting of fewer than 2000 calories per day. Multiple studies have confirmed that the thinnest people live the longest…

… As we condition our muscles and gain strength, our bones thicken and strengthen along with the muscle. Without regular exercise along the way, your bone structure can deteriorate as you get older. Some people survive with weak bones, but their quality of life suffers when they are immobilized by arthritis and osteoporosis…

…A safe and satisfying work environment, a happy marriage, a satisfying social and/or family life, and activities you enjoy are all related to positive health outcomes. Emotional wellness starts right here your finger tips end. As you respect and appreciate the value in the world around you and develop interests in other people and in such things as art, music, entertainment, sports, nature, and physical activity, you can respect yourself more for your ability and desire to appreciate the value of things not yourself.
Okinawans are fascinating people. These avid plant-eaters live a long-long time. In fact, they made John Robbins’s list of longest-lived people in his book Healthy at 100. Check it out:
  1. Abkhasia: Ancients of the Caucasus, where people are healthier at ninety than most of us are at middle age.
  2. Vilcabamba: The Valley of Eternal Youth, where heart disease and dementia do not exist.
  3. Hunza: A People Who Dance in Their Nineties, where cancer, diabetes, and asthma are unknown.
  4. The Centenarians of Okinawa: Where more people live to 100 than anywhere else in the world.
Now, for the flipside, primitive people like Inuit Greenlanders and Kenyan Maasai have short life expectancies—why? Too much meat in their diets. More from Dr. Fuhrman:

Inuit Greenlanders, who historically have had limited access to fruits and vegetables, have the worst longevity statistics in North America. Research from the past and present shows that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the overall Canadian population.1


Similar statistics are available for the high meat-consuming Maasai in Kenya. They eat a diet high in wild hunted meats and have the worst life expectancy in the modern world. Life expectancy is 45 years for women and 42 years for men. African researchers report that, historically, Maasai rarely lived beyond age 60. Adult mortality figures on the Kenyan Maasai show that they have a 50% chance of dying before the age of 59.2
I guess the same can be said about us; between all the fast food, beef jerky, potato chips, cheese pizza, and no exercise, Americans start dying at middle-age. We’d learn a lot from our foreign neighbors.
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