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Current Health News: U. S. Food Safety

Food safety in the United States has not improved over the last four years according to a recent report by the CDC for 2008.

Food-borne illness include salmonella, E. coli, listeria, campylobacter, cryptosporidium, and many others.

Recent outbreaks of salmonella were traced to peanut butter from one company that sickened nearly 700 people with 9 reported deaths and eggs from two companies that sickened over 2000 people.

While children under age 4 have the highest frequency of infection from food-borne organisms, people over age 50 have the highest rate of hospitalizations and fatalities from these illnesses.

This lack of progress over the last four years may be due to failure to achieve goals set by the Healthy People 2010 government program, possibly due to reduced funding or reduced inspections.

Learn more about salmonella poisoning here

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Current Health News: Amyloidosis Testimonial

Werner Hunstein, professor emeritus of hematology at the University of Heidelberg, was diagnosed in 2001 with amyloidosis.

This rare disease is associated with buildup of abnormal amyloid proteins in various organs of the body. It is potentially fatal.

Alzheimer's disease is one form of amyloidosis.

Based on the recommendations of colleagues, Hunstein began drinking green Darjeeling tea every day.

For 20 months, he found that the daily green tea provided results as successful as chemotherapy. The buildup of toxic amyloid proteins stopped (letter, Blood, September, 2007).

While his experience may be unique, multiple studies have shown benefits from green tea with amyloid diseases like Alzheimer's.

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Current Health News: Superbugs: We Knew It Was Bad

In our time, superbugs have developed resistance to modern antibiotics. One of the three most dangerous superbugs found in hospitals is Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

P. aeruginosa is particularly dangerous for burn and wound patients, contact lens infections, and cystic fibrosis patients.

Dividing Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Bacteria. Tem, Negative Stain
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Once it forms colonies, it creates biofilms that are 1000 times more resistant to antibiotics, creating chronic infections almost impossible to treat.

Then, with those biofilms, one of the ways P. aeruginosa finally kills people is by making a poison similar to rattlesnake venom to destroy our cells (Welch M, Society for General Microbiology, Trinity College, Dublin, September 2008).

Other scientists have found that P. aeruginosa use protein F-actin and our own DNA from our neutrofils as building blocks to construct these biofilms.

By targeting these building blocks, they were able to disrupt the development of the bacterial biofilms (Parks Q, Journal of Medical Microbiology, March 2009).

This research may open the door for new approaches to treating superbugs.

More information on Superbugs and green tea

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Current Health News: Stop Smoking For Your Dog's Sake

If you're looking for another good reason to stop smoking, think about the health of your pets.

Research has shown that second-hand smoke may harm both people and animals. Now a survey found that increased awareness of this damage to animals may help motivate pet owners to quit smoking.

Educational programs targeting pet owners may help more people make their environments smoke-free (Milberger S, Pet owners' attitudes and behaviors related to smoking and secondhand smoke: a pilot study, Tobacco Control, February 2009).

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Current Health News: Increased MRSA Infections In US Children

A new study has found a dramatic increase in MRSA head and neck infections in children in the United States.

MRSA is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a "superbug" that has developed resistance to modern antibiotics.

This study reviewed six years of data from 300 hospitals and found that children's MRSA infections showed rates of 11.8% in 2001, 12.5% in 2002, 18.1% in 2003, 27.2% in 2004, 25.5% in 2005, and 28.1% in 2006.

The children were from 0 to 18 years old with a mean of 6.7 years.

There were more cases in the Northeast Central area of the United States (Naseri I, Nationwide Trends in Pediatric Staphylococcus aureus Head and Neck Infections, Archives of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, January 2009).

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Current Health News: Acupressure For Pediatric Surgery

Children may be given sedatives prior to surgery to help them stay calm. But the sedatives themselves can cause nausea or prolong the effects of anesthesia.

Now a new study tested the use of acupressure to lower pre-surgical anxiety.

Researchers used acupressure beads and applied them to a calming point between the eyebrows for 26 children prior to surgery and to a non-therapeutic point for another 26 children.

Within 30 minutes, the children receiving the acupressure bead were more calm, while those whose bead was in a non-therapeutic location were showing increased anxiety.

The use of acupressure had no side effects and did not affect the surgery. The researchers also stated that by reducing emotional stress, that it may be possible to improve recovery time and reduce the use of post-op medication (Kain Z, Anesthesia and Analgesia, September 2008).

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Current Health News: Sweet Dreams

Looking for a more pleasant, restful sleep?

Perhaps you should stop and smell the roses.

A new study has found that what you smell while you are sleeping will influence your dreams.

Researchers in Germany tested specific odors, applied while people were sleeping, and recorded the emotional content of their dreams when they awakened (Stuck B, The Impact of Olfactory Stimulation on Dreams, American Academy of Otolaryngology, 2008)

The smell of rotten eggs stimulated bad dreams and the smell of roses stimulated pleasant dreams.

O.K. It seems to make common sense. Nicer odors improve our lives. Even subway companies and prisons have worked with floral scents to improve pleasantness.

If you want to experiment with pleasant odors before sleeping, put a few drops of rose or jasmine essential oil (not synthetic) in a pan of boiling water. Keep one pan for this purpose only. Then let the odors permeate your whole residence. Perhaps add a drop of rosemary for remembrance, too.

Is your sleep disturbed? Learn about sleep apnea here

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Current Health News: 80% Less Teenage Smoking

Spain has discovered a way to keep 80% of their teenagers from smoking.

What's their secret?

Sports.

A new study has found that 80.9% of adolescents, age 13 to age 19, who actively play a sport do not smoke (Tercedor, Increase of tobacco comsumption and reduction of the physical activity practice level in Spanish adolescents: AVENA study, Nutricion Hospitalaria, 2008).

However, in Spain, studies show that only 59.2% of teenagers are physically active (approximately 71% of the boys, but only 47% of the girls). These percentages are similar in many other countries, including the United States. France reaches a high of 75% of men and 58% of women playing a physically active sport.

Increasing enjoyable sports and physical activities for teenagers may not only help protect them from smoking, but would also reduce the risk of obesity.

Since tobacco use tends to increase as physical activity levels decline, societies should also promote lifelong physical activity choices.

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Current Health News: Salmonella and E. coli In Your Salad

New research has identified ways that Salmonella and E. coli attach themselves to your salad greens.

Both are equipped with flagella used for movement. In both cases, these flagella can flatten and attach to the surface of leafy greens. Salmonella genetically engineered without flagella are unable to attach to leaves, and some plant leaves can resist the attachment of flagella (Shaw RK, Enterohemorrhagic Eschericia coli exploits EspA filaments for attachment to salad leaves, Applied Environmental Microbiology, May 2008, and new research with Dr. Gadi Frankel at Imperial College London).

Salmonella and E. coli live in the intestines of cows and chickens. Contamination of salad greens occur from agricultural use of contaminated manure or contaminated water, processing contamination, or preparation contamination.

The possibility of salad contamination increases as more people choose the health benefits of increased fruits and vegetables combined with local mismanagement during globalized trade.

One way of reducing agricultural contamination would be local "vertical farming."

Radiation treatments at high dosage will kill almost all of the living bacteria. It does not remove the dead bacteria or toxic byproducts. The United States recently allowed radiation of some salad greens to kill bacteria in case the leaves have become contaminated.

Other solutions have found that natural products like FIT containing ingredients like grapefruit extract and citric acid, kill 99.9999% of the bacteria almost instantaneously. These natural products can be applied during a flume water wash, simultaneously removing dead bacteria and byproducts.

Economic facts about Salmonella food poisoning

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Current Health News: Poor Quality Children's Food

Childhood obesity has more than doubled since 1976 (CDC) and yet food packaged for children still has poor quality nutrition.

According to a new study, 89% of children's food products exceed recommended levels for sugar, fat, or salt.

In a Canadian study, researchers chose 367 food products that promoted fun, cartoons, or children's movies and TV, buying them from a national supermarket chain.

Using internationally recognized nutritional criteria, they found that approximately 70% of the products exceeded recommended calories from sugar (even excluding candy, soft drinks, and bakery goods), 23% exceeded recommended calories from fat, and 17% exceeded recommended milligrams of sodium/salt.

Despite the excess sugar, fat, or sodium, 63% of these products presented a positive nutritional claim on their labels, such as low fat, whole grain, natural, or no artificial flavors (Elliott et al, Assessing 'fun foods': nutritional content and analysis of supermarket foods targeted at children, Obesity Reviews, 2008).

With over 35% of children in the United States, Canada, and Europe overweight, parents may want to avoid processed prepared foods, and high calorie fast foods, and try adding more low calorie fruits, and healthy low calorie vegetables to their children's diets.

When appropriate, they may want to include green tea at 0-2 calories per cup as part of a healthy diet.

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Current Health News: Diabetes Triples The Risk Of Tuberculosis

Researchers have reviewed studies of 1.7 million people that included diabetes and tuberculosis.

Using meta-analysis, they found that diabetics showed an increased risk of active tuberculosis more than three times greater than non-diabetics. This was true regardless of the international population or the individual study design.

This work is considered preliminary and causality relationships between diabetes and active tuberculosis have not yet been determined.

Tuberculosis (TB), one of the greatest epidemics of mankind, is becoming increasingly difficult to manage because of drug resistance. Currently TB kills about 1.6 million people annually.

Diabetes, which affects about 24 million people in the United States (CDC, NDIC), has also increased from 30 million people to about 246 million people world-wide over the last two decades (International Diabetes Federation).

Here's information about green tea and tuberculosis.

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Current Health News: Not 42?

According the The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, the answer is 42.

However, new research has discovered that half the answer is 143.

Chemists from Ohio have analyzed the scaffolding from 24 million organic compound molecules known to exist.

They found that 12 million of them had molecular shapes that could be described by just 143 structural frameworks.

They also found that a top heavy "power law" was associated with the minimized shapes. In other words, a small number of successful shapes appeared in a large number of compounds.

By identifying successful shapes researchers hope to reduce the labor involved in developing new chemical products (Lipkus AH, Structural Diversity of Organic Chemistry. A Scaffold Analysis of the CAS Registry, Journal Of Organic Chemistry, June 2008).

This message was brought to you by oceans that still have fish.

O.K., Douglas Adams, you're right..."A cup of tea would restore my normality."

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Current Health News: Barak Obama Drinks Green Tea

According to a story in the Washington Post June 2 (also referring to the New York Times), Barak Obama, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency in 2008, drinks green tea.

In fact, Obama loves green tea so much that his staff has been known to clean out stores of his favorite flavors during his primary campaign.

What's his favorite?

According to reports, he loves bottled green tea made by Honest Tea, a Maryland company specializing in organic tea.

His favorite used to be Community Green Tea. Then it was Green Dragon Tea. Now he's drinking Black Forest Berry.

Since the tea was hard to find everywhere in the U.S., the company owner has sold 40% of the company to Coca-Cola to assure distribution.

Green tea...a winner for 5000 years.

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Current Health News: Some Drugs May Increase Risk Of Secondary Infections

Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease may be treated with drugs including anti-TNF agents that suppress immunity.

These drugs have been associated with increased risk of tuberculosis, but now a new survey also shows increased risk of infection from invasive Staphylococcus aureus, histoplasmosis, and nontubercular mycobacteria.

Since risk of these other infections was greater than tuberculosis risk, researchers recommend improved pre-screening and follow-up with patients using anti-TNF agents (Winthrop KL, Mycobacterial and other serious infections in patients receiving anti-tumor necrosis factor and other newly approved biologic therapies: case finding through the Emerging Infections Network, Clinical Infectious Diseases, June 2008).

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Current Health News: Addictions In The Matrix

Scientists have found a new way to help people with addictions.

They put the addictions into a virtual reality world.

Whether it's drugs, alcohol, violence, smoking, overweight, or just chocolate, people struggle to develop real world skills that will help them stop addictive behavior.

Most therapy involves identifying problem areas and practicing better solutions through imagination, hypnosis, or real-world challenges.

Now, scientists have developed virtual reality environments for smoking, cocaine, and alcohol, as well as fear of heights, flying, and public speaking, that effectively create strong emotions or cravings so the patient can practice new coping skills. The virtual reality programs use real actors in multiple stressful situations and include olfactory stimuli (Bordnick P, Assessing reactivity to virtual reality alcohol based cues, Addictive Behaviors, June 2008).

OK. Time to give up that chocolate truffle. And that chocolate truffle. Oh-oh, must be déjà vu.

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Current Health News: Younger Women Having More Strokes

Indicators point to obesity as the cause of a startling increase in strokes in women aged 35 to 54 in the United States.

Surveys from 1988 to 1994 showed only one-half percent stroke rate and a new survey from 1999 to 2004 shows a 2% stroke rate in this age group, over triple the previous rate.

Women between age 45 to 54 also had over double the risk of stroke as men in the same age group.

Independent risk factors were heart disease and an increase in waist circumference fat. Women's waistlines have increased almost two inches over the last decade.

Other risk factors included high blood pressure and high cholesterol (Towfighi A, Neurology, 2007).

Over the last decade, not only have women's waistlines increased but their weight/height ratio (body mass index or BMI) has also increased, along with blood sugar levels.

Overweight and obesity open the door for increased strokes, heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. Losing weight can lower the risk of these diseases.

Here's more information about stroke prevention.

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Current Health News: Honey For Childhood Coughs

A new study has found a small dose of buckwheat honey is more effective for relief of children's nighttime coughing than an over-the-counter cough suppressant.

In a small study, researchers at Penn State College of Medicine studied 105 children with upper respiratory infection nighttime coughing. They provided a single dose of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored dextromethorphan cough suppressant, compared to no treatment being given 30 minutes before bedtime.

Parents reported significantly less nighttime coughing for their children with the buckwheat honey.

In this study, dextromethorphan (DM) used in over-the-counter cold medications, did not provide significantly better results than no treatment at all (Paul IM, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2007).

Some agencies recommend caution using over-the-counter medications with children younger than 6 years old.

Honey, on the other hand, is generally recognized as safe for almost all children.

For additional help during cold season, check out this information about green tea gargle and flu prevention.

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Current Health News: Are Anti-Drinking Ads Too Much Fun?

Many anti-drinking advertising campaigns emphasize the problems with becoming drunk. They show young people being thrown out of popular clubs, falling down drunk in public, and being carried home.

Unfortunately, these ads seem to enhance the social status of this level of drinking rather than stop it.

A three year study of young people's responses to the social consequences of becoming drunk has just been concluded.

Instead of interpreting the ads as cautions against drinking alcohol, young people tend to interpret them as desirable goals. Getting thrown out of a nightclub becomes a mark of personal esteem and pride. Extreme drinking becomes a show of strength.

At the same time, young people report the knowledge that drinking can have harmful physical consequences. But they interpret the social events shown in the anti-drinking ads as inconsequential escapades (Griffin C, University of Bath, 2007).

There is no question that alcoholism is deadly rather than fun. The hazardous effects of alcohol on the human brain, liver, other organs, and total health are well-documented. Other reasons to carefully control alcohol intake include the high calorie count.

But what can be offered to replace excessive alcohol drinking?

Throughout history, tea has been offered as a reliable substitute for alcohol addiction. Green tea has a safety record spanning almost 5000 years, is psychologically satisfying, and has broad-spectrum health benefits according to research.

Because the experience of tea changes with every harvest and every preparation, it offers endless variety and opportunities to acquire a healthy habit rather than a destructive addiction like alcoholism.

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Current Health News: Mini Strokes Need Fast Help

A mini stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) is usually felt as a temporary disturbance or weakening of one side of the face or one side of the face and the same side arm.

Mini strokes are a sign of circulatory problems in the brain and increase the probability of future mini strokes or TIAs, or even a major stroke in the near future.

A new study from the University of Manchester has found that people experiencing mini strokes need to receive a complete examination by a specialist within a few days.

Even waiting two weeks after the mini stroke can increase the risk of life-threatening strokes (Smith C, Journal Neurology Neurosurgery Psychiatry, 2007).

The risk of a major stroke within a week of the initial mini stroke can be as high as 10%.

Here's more on seven stroke warning signs and stroke prevention.

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Current Health News: Improving protection against E. coli and Listeria

Industrialized societies are always looking for better ways to protect food from contamination, but would you have suspected adding jasmine tea and wildflower honey would help?

Researchers have now found that either jasmine or green tea mixed with honey and sprayed on meat products will reduce both Listeria by up to 20% and E. coli 0157 on turkey breast slices and hot dogs.

And when the hot dogs had already been pretreated with sodium lactate, potassium lactate, and sodium diacetate, there was a synergistic effect with the tea and honey spray that kept bacterial contamination lower even 14 days later (Fung D, Food Safety Consortium, 2007).

These studies are preliminary and need further review before widespread implementation.

But the benefits from improved food protection techniques could be great.

E. coli contamination has caused approximately 73,000 illnesses annually and cost over $400 million for health care, not including the economic cost of product recalls. Listeria accounts for the majority of deaths annually from contaminated food in the U. S. (CDC).

Here's more on food poisoning protection.

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Current Health News: New Research On Veteran's PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder is part of the diagnosis of many injured veterans.

This mental health disorder is characterized by debilitating fear, insomnia, persistent memories and flashbacks, and chronic stress.

It reduces normal functioning in society and can become dangerous.

It has also been difficult to diagnose, monitor, and treat.

Researchers at Emory University are working with veterans with PTSD. They measured fear by the startle response, indicated by blinking the eye when a blast of air suddenly hits the throat. Normal people were startled when the blast of air hit them and calm when it did not.

But veterans with PTSD were unable to change their startle response when they were presented with safe conditions.

This test for abnormal fear regulation may prove to be a useful biomarker for PTSD and a way of monitoring the efficacy of treatment programs (Davis M, Neuroscience, 2007).

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Current Health News: Learning The Lipid Flip

Want to watch the lipid flip in real time?

Researchers have developed new laboratory techniques that will help (Sidorov V, ACS Bioconjugate Chemistry, 2007).

The lipid flip, as complicated as a dance or gymnastic routine, is the process that a fat or lipid uses to go through a cell membrane while entering a cell.

The lipid flip is involved in most cellular activities. Greater knowledge of the lipid flip could help Alzheimer's, cancer, and heart disease research.

The research in the above report concentrates on lipid-flipping enzymes: the flippases, the flopases, and the unforgettable scramblases.

And you thought scientists didn't know how to have fun at work.

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Current Health News: Polypharmacy Hazards?

As more people live longer, they may acquire more than one age-related disease.

Seeking treatment, they can end up taking more than four different prescription medications, a situation known as polypharmacy.

There are potential problems from polypharmacy, mostly based on insufficient communication.

Since drugs can interact with each other or create side effects by themselves, it is very important that people keep track of their medications and discuss their whole program with their physician.

Older people are particularly vulnerable. Up to 20% of nursing home patients have, at times, received over 10 medications daily (Bernabei R, Journal of Gerontology, 1999).

Drug interactions and inappropriate usage have led to increased adverse events, hospitalizations, and deaths (Stern M, Weill Cornell Medical Center, 2007).

People who use prescription drugs should learn about side effects and interactions, and discuss their programs with their licensed health care providers. Second opinions may be advantageous.

And most important, keep in mind that old truism "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

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Current Health News: Calling All Bats!

Is vampire bat saliva in your future?

Researchers at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, are testing Desmoteplase, a clot-dissolving chemical from vampire bat saliva that may help cerebrovascular stroke victims.

They hope to learn if using the bat saliva chemical within a 3-hour window immediately after the occurrence of a stroke will help prevent future disabilities.

Do you know the Seven Stroke Warning Signs?

Up to 30% of stroke victims become disabled permanently, making stroke the top cause of adult disability in the United States.

But drinking daily tea may help prevent strokes before they happen, as well as dramatically reducing brain damage from strokes.

Human studies show up to 75% fewer strokes among people who drink 5 cups of tea daily, and animal research shows up to 80% less brain damage with tea or EGCG, the primary catechin polyphenol from green tea (green tea stroke studies).

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Current Health News: Stay In School And Live?

A new study in the U.S. Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Albano JD, 2007) shows correlations between educational level, gender, race, and cancer survival rates.

Researchers reviewed death certificates from 47 states plus the District of Columbia for all people aged 25-64 for the year 2001. They found the greatest cancer survival rate differences between those who stopped with high school (12 years education) and those who went on to college (more than 12 years education).

People who went on to college survived longer.

While there were racial differences in the results, this is usually attributed to the socio-economic disparity that is associated with educational levels.

This study is considered preliminary for several reasons. Most prostate cancer occurs in men over age 64, and breast cancer in the U.S. has decreased since 2002 when hormone replacement therapy was decreased. These two groups are not part of the data of this study.

So, take out those student loans, hit the books, and live longer.

You're investing in your brain and your body.

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More Current Health News Articles:

A Little Smog Is Worse Than You Think

Flu And Smoking Research

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