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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
by Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
In a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) report on cats developing severe neurological symptoms due to a degradation of myelin, the fatty insulator of nerve fibers called axons. Because myelin facilitates the conduction of nerve signals, when it is lost or damaged there can be impairment of sensation, movement, thinking and other functions, depending on what particular nerves are affected. This loss of myelin is found in several disorders of the central nervous system in humans -- the best known being multiple sclerosis (MS).
So what caused the cats to develop neurological problems? Although the researchers' statement to the media practically buries the fact, a close read shows the animals were fine until fed irradiated food. What's more, when they were taken off the irradiated diet, the animals' nervous systems began healing.
The new study took place when the researchers were faced with reports of a mysterious illness in pregnant cats. A commercial company had been testing various diets on the animals to see how the food impacted growth and development in the felines. The food used, it turns out, had been irradiated. Irradiation, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for many human as well as animal foods, involves exposing foods briefly to a radiant energy source such as gamma rays or electron beams in order to kill bacteria.
Some of the cats eating the irradiated cat food exhibited very severe neurological symptoms, including movement disorders, vision loss and even paralysis. "After being on the diet for three to four months, the pregnant cats started to develop progressive neurological disease," said Ian Duncan, a professor of medical sciences at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and an authority on demyelinating diseases, in a statement to the media.
The sick cats were shown to have widely distributed the very severe demyelization of the central nervous system. Their neurological symptoms were very much like those seen in people with MS and other demyelization disorders. When the felines were taken off the irradiated foods, they began to recover slowly. However, according to Dr. Duncan, the restored myelin sheaths were no longer as thick as normal myelin sheaths.
The finding is important, the scientists concluded in their study, because it shows the central nervous system retains the ability to reestablish myelin -- so strategies that could be developed to spur the growth of new myelin sheaths anywhere nerves themselves are preserved could be a possible therapy for treating a host of severe neurological diseases in humans. "The key thing is that it absolutely confirms the notion that remyelinating strategies are clinically important," Duncan stated.
Curiously, although the scientists' related their findings to possible human applications, they were quick to dismiss a possible connection between people, irradiated food and health risk. "We think it is extremely unlikely that (irradiated food) could become a human health problem," Duncan explained in the media statement. "We think it is species specific."
However, not everyone agrees irradiated food is fine for humans or animals. According to the Center for Food Safety, studies have shown irradiation produces volatile toxic chemicals such as benzene and toluene, which are known or suspected to cause cancer and birth defects. A 2001 study found an association between colon tumors and 2-alkylcyclobutanones (2-ACB's), a new chemical compound detected only in foods that have been irradiated.
For more information:
About the author:
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.
by Sheryl Walters, citizen journalist
SIDS is the sudden unexplained death of an infant and is the number one cause of death in U.S babies less than one year old. Fortunately the SIDS rate has dropped over 50% since 1983, but it is still responsible for 2500 deaths each year according to the American SIDS Institute. There are many hypotheses for why SIDS happens but there is no known cause. Factors such as stomach sleeping, a smoker in the house, and blankets in a baby's bed increases the risk. Research has shown that a baby who is breastfed has a much lower risk of dying of SIDS than a formula fed baby.
The benefits of breastfeeding in general are very well known. Breastfed babies are less likely to get infections because of the maternal antibodies in breast milk. Illnesses that they are less likely to get include ear infections, stomach viruses, diarrhea, and respiratory infections. In addition, breastfed babies have a lower risk of obesity, asthma, Type I and II diabetes, and childhood leukemia.
In fact, breastfeeding is known to be so beneficial that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has included breastfeeding as part of its Healthy People 2010 Objectives. The goals stated in these objectives are to have the percentage of breastfed newborns at 75%, infants still breastfeeding at 6 months old at 50%, and babies breastfeeding at one year old at 25%. Data collected by the CDC in 2004 reported these figures at about 73%, 42%, and 21%, respectively.
In addition to reducing the risk of disease, breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from SIDS. Breastfeeding is beneficial for this for a number of reasons.
*Breathing: Breastmilk is non-irritating to airways like a foreign material such as formula could be. In addition, if aspirated breastmilk is less likely to cause apnea.
*Swallowing: Learning to coordinate swallowing and breathing is important in reducing SIDS risk. Research has shown that breastfed babies learn to coordinate more quickly than bottlefed babies because they are usually fed more often (so they get more practice) and also because breastfed babies tend to have better alignment of the jaw and muscles which helps to keep airways open.
*Reflux: Breastfed babies are less likely to have gastric reflux which can increase risk of SIDS.
*Mother/child connection: Breastfed mothers have hormonal cues that keep them more in tune with their baby during the night. As a result they may be more likely to read changes during their baby's breathing or sleep rhythm.
Breastfeeding is so beneficial to babies in countless ways. Decreasing the risk of SIDS is a huge incentive to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies.
American SIDS Institute, (www.sids.org)
Ask Dr. Sears, (http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/T...)
Benefits of Breastfeeding, (http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastf...)
Breastfeeding Among U.S. Children Born 1999-2005, CDC National Immunization Survey, (http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/da...)
Posted by A at 7:00 AM
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
by Louis Lazaris
A controlled study conducted in the U.S by researchers at the National Cancer Institute indicates that men and women whose diets are high in red or processed meats are more likely to die from cancer or heart disease. The study included data collected over a 10-year period between 1995 and 2005, and involved half a million males and females between the ages of 50 and 71.
According to the results of the study, published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, those who ate 4 ounces of red meat per day - or a serving equal to a small steak - had a more than 30 percent increased mortality rate compared to those who ate the smallest amount of red meat.
Last week the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Canadian Cancer Society, in response to the study, is planning to change its recommended limit on red and processed meats. Heather Chappell, the Canadian Cancer Society's senior manager of cancer control policy says, "This takes it that next step and actually looks at the impact that has on cancer deaths. This really is a significant addition to our body of knowledge in this area."
322,263 men and 223,390 women from eight U.S. states filled out questionnaires detailing their usual food and drink consumption. The red meat included beef, cold cuts, hamburger, liver, pork, sausage, as well as meats in prepared meals such as pizza and lasagna. White meat included chicken, turkey, fish, cold cuts, tuna, and sausages made from poultry.
The heaviest meat eaters ate about 8 1/2 servings of meat per week and had a 31 percent increase in mortality rates in comparison to the lightest meat eaters, who consumed about one serving of meat per week.
Jennifer Macey of Australia's AM radio broadcast interviewed one of the authors of the study, Dr. Rashmi Sinha, to inquire about methods used to ensure that results were due to red and processed meat consumption and not due to other factors.
Sinha explains, "We were controlled for many different factors such as body mass index, family history of cancer, alcohol intake, education, smoking, other dietary factors, so we tried to control to the best of our ability with the information that we had."
The researchers reported that if the lowest level of intake of meats was consumed by all participants, 11 percent of deaths in men and 16 percent of deaths in women could have been prevented.
Cancer deaths increased by 22 percent, and cardiovascular-related deaths increased by 27 percent among the heavy meat eaters that were male. For females, the increases in death rates among the heavy meat eaters were 20 percent for cancer and 50 percent for heart disease.
This study was much broader in scope than past studies that have compared death rates in different types of meat eaters. Prior studies have been conducted involving vegetarian populations in the U.S. and Europe, as well as on Seventh-Day Adventists, who promote a vegetarian diet.
Sinha explained, "They combined their results, so it was a bit more ambiguous. This is a big study. That's what's interesting."
These results come on the heels of a similar study conducted in the U.K. that analyzed data from 52,700 men and women. In that U.K. study, those that did not eat meat had a significantly lower risk of cancer than those that did eat meat.
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