Non-Egg “Mayo” May Need New Name After FDA Warning Letter

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to the makers an eggless mayonnaise-like spread called Just Mayo, telling the food company that they cannot call eggless mayo mayo.

The FDA noted that mayonnaise must contain eggs according to its food standard of identity.

Although the food company, Hampton Creek, uses the word “mayo” rather than “mayonnaise,” the FDA wrote in its warning that, “The term ‘mayo’ has long been used and understood as shorthand or slang for mayonnaise.”

Hampton Creek was also sued last year over a similar issue. The maker of popular mayonnaise brand Hellmann’s sued Hampton Creek because its spread did not contain eggs, but the plaintiff dropped the lawsuit after a strong response from Just Mayo supporters.

By Cheryl Bretton

Seniors Get A Free Checkup Every Year Under Obamacare, And It Includes Tests For Several Conditions

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Obamacare has several provisions that effect seniors specifically, including free annual visits and lower prescription costs, as well as special services to keep seniors from being cheated in fraudulent health care scams. What seniors need to know about their free yearly checkup and the free tests that come with it was recently explained by AARP.

The area of health care reform that covers seniors is Medicare, and it provides for Americans aged 65 and older.

Under Medicare, seniors are entitled to a yearly wellness visit free. This free visit is intended so that older Americans can consult their doctor and develop and maintain a plan just for them to stay healthy.

To use this service, seniors are advised to call their doctor’s office and say, “I would like to schedule my free annual wellness benefit,” according to the American Association of Retired Persons’s (AARP) vice president for health, education and outreach Nicole Duritz.

The yearly visit includes free screenings for cholesterol and diabetes, as well as consultation about the patient’s diet.

During this visit, seniors can expect to have their blood pressure checked and be asked questions about their medications, as well as how they have been feeling. Doctors may recommend changes to dosages, flu or tetanus shots, a mammography or colonoscopy (both of which are free under Obamacare), or another procedure.

Seniors are still advised to ask and make sure about who is covering the costs for anything done at the clinic or hospital, according to Duritz, who warned that it may make a difference if the tests are conducted during the free yearly visit or are scheduled for a later visit. The receptionist who handles the scheduling can also answer these types of questions, Duritz noted.

There are other considerations about medical costs as well, Duritz said. For example, if something is discovered during a colonoscopy, during which procedure the patient is sedated, how will the doctor proceed? If the doctor will remove the polyp during that procedure, there will be bill for that removal. These are things seniors are advised to consider and ask their doctors about before anything is undertaken.

Blog by Cheryl Bretton

25 US States Have Lice Resistant To Over-The-Counter Treatments

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According to researchers who tested 30 US states, head lice populations in the majority are now resistant to over-the-counter pesticides commonly recommended by doctors and schools.

“If you use a chemical over and over, these little creatures will eventually develop resistance,” said Dr. Kyong Yoon, a lead researcher on the study. “So we have to think before we use a treatment.”

Wide use of the main ingredient in many head lice treatments, pyrethoids, has caused a genetic change in many US lice populations, the researchers found.

“We are the first group to collect lice samples from a large number of populations across the U.S.,” Yoon said.

“What we found was that 104 out of the 109 lice populations we tested had high levels of gene mutations, which have been linked to resistance to pyrethroids.”

The mutations took place in a trio of genes linked together under the term “knock-down resistence,” or kdr, which have been known to scientists for decades from crop insecticide research. When kdr mutations take place, the nervous system, which is targeted by insecticides, is desensitized.

“The good news is head lice don’t carry disease. They’re more a nuisance than anything else.”

California, Texas, Maine, and Florida head lice have the highest degree of pyrethroid-resistence — they had all three genetic mutations. There was only one state of the 30 tested where pyrethoid-based treatments would still be highly effective: Michigan.

Why Michigan’s head lice had not developed resistance will be the matter of future research.

Kdr resistant lice were found in the states colored pink

In light of the discovery, Yoon and his colleagues recommend using other treatment options for dealing with head lice. Currently though, many of those options are only available by prescription.

The research will be presented along with 9,000 other developments at the upcoming American Chemical Society meeting in Boston.

By Cheryl Bretton

Know Your Fats: Trans Linked To Death And Heart Disease, Saturated Not

Cardiovascular disease
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Not all fats are equal, according to research by a McMaster University team. Some fats are linked to death, heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes, while other fats are not associated with these health conditions at all. The issue is not as simple as a line between healthy and unhealthy fats, however, as lead author Dr. Russel de Souza explained.

“Fats should not be considered as one entire group of food,” de Souza told The Speaker.

“We have known for many years that different types of fat have different health effects. Fats that are liquid at room temperature, like olive oil, or canola oil, or those hidden away in nuts — contain essential fats that the body needs for growth and development. Saturated fat, which is solid at room temperature, like butter, behaves differently. Trans fat, which is a liquid fat that has been made solid in a food lab, behaves differently still.

De Souza and his fellow researchers at McMaster University, where de Souza is an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, analysed 50 studies, seeking for correlations between trans and saturated fats and health outcomes.

The team’s findings, which were published in the British Medical Journal, pointed to the danger of consuming trans fat. Trans fat, de Souza explained, has no health benefits but poses real heart health risks.

Trans fats is associated with a 34 percent increase in death overall, and more specifically a 28 percent increased risk of death from heart disease and a 21 percent increase heart disease risk.

The evidence for saturated fat is so far not conclusive enough for medical professionals to give a certain recommendation. A tentative one, though, was provided by de Souza, who advised that even though saturated fats were not associated with coronary heart disease, diabetes or stroke, many foods high is saturated fat, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and higher-fat milks, have been shown by research to increase cancer risk.

Health guidelines for dangerous trans fat limit consumption to less than one percent of energy. For saturated fats, the current recommended limit is less than 10 percent.

De Souza pointed out that there were very healthy options to the unhealthy fats — as well as the white flour and sugar commonly used as fat substitutes — in the foods people buy. In particular, de Souza suggested nuts, seeds and olive oils as healthier choices when it came to fats. Some diets, he said, already comply with these recommendations.

Cardiovascular disease
Dr. Russel de Souza

“The whole diet matters. Dietary patterns consistently associated with good health, such as Mediterranean diets, plant-based diets, or the DASH diet, tend to be low in saturated fat, but their healthfulness is not due solely to the fact that they are low in saturated fat — it’s likely because they combine a number of foods that are highly nutritious, such as whole grains, fruits, legumes, vegetable, and nuts; and avoid foods that contain refined starch and sugar and processed trans fats.”

The importance of the study, which confirmed five previous coronary heart disease studies, lies largely in the evidence that, contrary to what is commonly advised in popular dietary information, saturated fats are not the cause of increased death and heart disease, but trans fats definitely are.

“It’s important to remember that not all fats are equal,” stated de Souza. “And there may be important differences in the health effects of saturated fats from different foods.”

By Cheryl Bretton

Gender pay differences for doctors: Why women make less

Why women make less
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Setting out to access why men physicians make more than women, according to statistics, a joint-research team has published Thursday the results of their study, based on an analysis of data for 776 male and female physicians.

“In addition to implicit bias and differences in negotiations and social networks, women’s tendency to prioritize substantial pay less than men may account for some of the gender pay inequities that exist in our society. However, substantial pay is different from equal pay. I bet most women still want fair pay,” said Dr. A. Charlotta Weaver, lead author of the Journal of Hospital Medicine study.

Recent studies have determined that American female physicians make $50,000 less per year than male physicians — an average $165,278 compared with $221,297.

The new research, however, found that after accounting for age, geography, specialty, amount and type of work, women made around $15,000 less than men in the field.

The breakdown of the reasons women make less than men goes like this, according to the study: working women are younger, less likely to be leaders, and more often work part-time.

Women physicians more frequently prioritize other work interests over financial compensation, the researchers found. Women considered pay the fourth most important priority, while men ranked it the second. Both ranked optimal work load first.

Women more frequently were employed as pediatricians and staff in university settings.

It was also found that women work more nights, report fewer daily billable encounters than their male peers, and are more often divorced than male physicians.

“The gender earnings gap persists among hospitalists,” concluded the researchers. “A portion of the disparity is explained by the fewer women hospitalists compared to men who prioritize pay.”

By Cheryl Bretton

Stomach balloon approved by FDA for weight loss

ReShape Dual Balloon
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Dieting leaving you with that empty feeling? The FDA Tuesday approved a new device to fill in for food in the stomachs of weight loss practitioners with a device that requires no surgery: a dual balloon system.

Although medical professionals do not fully understand how filling the stomach triggers feelings of fullness — even in the absence of actual food — they understand that it works.

The ReShape Dual Balloon device is placed in the stomach through the mouth. The typical procedure is a 30 minute minimally invasive endoscopic one, according the the FDA.

Unlike some surgical measures undertaken to lose weight, the balloon does not alter the stomach’s anatomy.

The balloon is meant to be used for around six months while the person also exercises and follows a medically supervised diet.

“For those with obesity, significant weight loss and maintenance of that weight loss often requires a combination of solutions including efforts to improve diet and exercise habits,” said William Maisel, M.D., M.P.H., acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “This new balloon device provides doctors and patients with a new non-surgical option that can be quickly implanted, is non-permanent, and can be easily removed.”

The balloon is not meant for all dieters. Only obese adults with a body mass index of 30 to 40 kg/m and who have one or more obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, are recommended to try it.

The FDA made their decision on the balloon after the successful results of a clinical trial in which 187 obese participants ranging in age from 22 to 60 lost an average of 14.3 pounds (or 6.8 percent of total body weight) in six months, and who kept off around 10 pounds after six more months. This was contrasted against a control group of roughly the same size who lost only 7.2 pounds in the first six months.

The device is not recommended for those who have had previous gastrointestinal or bariatric surgery or who have been diagnosed with inflammatory intestinal or bowel disease, large hiatal hernia, symptoms of delayed gastric emptying or active H. Pylori infection, nor is it for those who use aspirin daily or who are pregnant.

Potential side effects for the procedure, the FDA warned, include headache, muscle pain, and nausea from the sedation and procedure; in rare cases, severe allergic reaction, heart attack, esophageal tear, infection, and breathing difficulties can occur. Once the device is placed in the stomach, patients may experience vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, gastric ulcers, and feelings of indigestion.

By Cheryl Bretton

Cheap osteoporosis drug cuts breast cancer deaths by nearly 20%

breast cancer
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In what some have called one of the most important cancer research findings in the last decade, based on data from 19,000 women, researchers have discovered that a type of inexpensive drug which is currently unavailable for preventing secondary tumor growth in bone has been found to reduce breast cancer deaths by 18 percent.

The drugs, bisphosphonates, are commonly used to prevent osteoporosis bone loss, and the scientists behind the new study believe bisphosphonates starve cancer cells in the bone.

According to their research, women may benefit most from taking the drugs early in their treatment.

The research team looked at data from 26 separate trials of the drug, and found a 28% reduction in cancers for post-menopausal women, as well as an 18 percent reduction in death within 10 years of first diagnosis.

Breast cancer accounts for 25 percent of the cancers women develop. Worldwide, there are nearly 2 million new cases diagnosed yearly.

In the US, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, it is predicted, and this year around 230,000 new cases are expected, while 42,000 women are expected to die this year from the disease.

Bone is a frequent second host to the breast. Even when a tumor is removed from the breast, tiny cancer fragments can remain and spread, usually settling in bone where it can lie dormant for years.

Although the drug costs less than 10 cents per day, the scientists expressed concern that this low drug value will keep pharmaceutical companies from producing it. The drug is not in patent. This has caused cancer research advocates to call for new guidelines on the production of bisphosphonates.

The report, “Adjuvant bisphosphonate treatment in early breast cancer: meta-analyses of individual patient data from randomised trials,” was completed by the staff of the Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG)

By Cheryl Bretton

Couchsurfing toddlers get bullied more as kids

Couchsurfing toddlers
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Are your rugrats babysat by the TV? Dr. Linda Pagani of the University of Montreal, who just completed an extensive study of the long-term effects of toddler TV viewing, says they might suffer for it later.

“Basically, too much time in front of the telly creates a time-debt for other enriching activities,” Pagani told The Speaker. “In early childhood children need live interaction to help their brains develop and to maximize their emotional intelligence. It is like IQ, we are born with a potential, but need interactions with people and objects in the environment to fully develop it. More television time means less time for play and less time in active social exchanges of ideas and information.”

In their most recent research, Pagani and her team surveyed the experience of almost 2,000 Canadian children and their parents, and found that kids were likely to be bullied in sixth grade an extra 11% for every 53 minutes of daily TV viewing at 29 months of age.

Not only were kids more likely to be bullied, but early television viewing was also found to be associated with deficits in problem solving ability, emotional control, peer play competence, social contact ability, and eye-contact — which is important for friendship and self-affirmation in relationships.

Dr. Linda Pagani
Dr. Linda Pagani

“Watching the telly is not an effortful activity, and thus it fosters lifestyle habits that are less energetic and there is less of a tolerance for more demanding interactions on a social level. It also does not hone shared eye contact, for which we are wired at birth. Therefore, less effortful interactions mean less activities that foster and reinforce shared eye contact. Eye contact is the most powerful mode of information exchange apart from talking and one reinforces the other.”

So how should a child’s day be broken up? Pagani referred to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a professional association dedicated to the health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Half of the 24 hours of their day should be spent sleeping, eating, and tending to hygiene, according to the AAP, which leaves 12 hours to fill. Of those 12 hours children should get no more than 1 to 2 hours of television per day. She pointed out, though, that the recommendations relate particularly to quality TV viewing time.

“Assuming the content is of quality not more than two hours per day for over age 2,” Pagani advised, “and try to favor other pastimes that involve interaction between the child and others, and add some creative play to that too.”

Pagani had a simple suggestion for busy parents who wanted to mitigate the negative effects of occupying their toddlers with television: “Lots of social interaction.”

Pagani also offered some broader context for understanding the role of television in the lives of children:

“Television is effortless — is this the kind of natural habit we want our children to develop? The brain is like a muscle and social, cognitive, and motor sedentariness (effortlessness) is detrimental to its architecture.

“Our previous research has shown that excessive televiewing has a long-term negative influence on children’s bio-psycho-social well-being,” Pagani told us, referring to a wealth of past research she and her team had completed, “therefore the AAP guidelines which discourage any viewing prior to age 2 and not more than two hours beyond age 2 are there to favor conditions for brain development and (intellectual, social, and physical) non-sedentary lifestyle habits.”

Too Much Television? Prospective Associations Between Early Childhood Televiewing and Later Self-Reports of Victimization By Sixth Grade Classmates” was published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

By Cheryl Bretton

Babies’ and children’s brain growth limited without fish oil fatty acids

fish oil
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According to new research by UCI scientists, fetus’, babies’ and children’s brains need the types of fatty acids found in fish to develop. Dietary deficiencies in this area actually limits brain growth, Susana Cohen-Cory, professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California-Irvine’s School of Biological Sciences and lead researcher on the study, found.

The study represents proof for the first time of how n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids cause changes in the molecules of a developing brain. Constraints caused by deficiency of these nutrients result in limited growth of neurons and connecting synapses because docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is required neural and synaptic development, is based on fatty acids.

The team used African clawed frogs. The frogs were an excellent model, according to the researchers, because the embryos develop outside of the mother and are translucent, so the development of neurons and synapses can be observed in the intact, living embryos.

The team found that when they cut off the fatty acids to female frogs, the healthy growth of the central nervous system of their tadpole offspring was inhibited — poorly developed neurons and limited numbers of synapses resulted.

When the researchers returned the fatty acids to the next generation of mother frogs, neuronal and synaptic development returned to normal for the third generation.

The foods that have n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring and other oily fish — which are the richest source of this nutrient. They can also be found in eggs and meat. Other foods, such as nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and nuts also have the fatty acids, but much less. Oily fish contain 10 to 100 times more dietary DHA than the non-meat options.

Additionally, DHA is present in breast milk. It is also an ingredient in baby formulas and is a supplement for premature babies.

The study, “Impact of Maternal n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Deficiency on Dendritic Arbor Morphology and Connectivity of Developing Xenopus laevis Central NeuronsIn Vivo,” was completed by Miki Igarashi, Rommel A. Santos, and Susana Cohen-Cory

By Cheryl Bretton

Alcohol interferes with sleep, but not by disrupting the circadian clock

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A drink before bed? Around 50 million adults in the US take a drink to help them fall asleep, but that drink is being advised against by researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Their research has found that alcohol actually disrupts sleep–even if it causes people to nod off. It disrupts sleep differently from what is commonly believed, however. Rather than the circadian rhythm, alcohol actually affects the body’s homeostatic system.

“Based on our results, it’s clear that alcohol should not be used as a sleep aid,” Dr. Pradeep Sahota, chair of the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology and an author of the study, said in the press release.

Around one-third of our people’s lives are spent sleeping, and around 20 percent of America’s 250 million adults use alcohol. This is relevant to the nation’s health and economy, the researchers pointed out. They cited research that has found alcohol-related sleep disorders cost the US  at least $18 billion per year.

The MU team have spent five years studying the interaction between sleep and alcohol, and have concluded in their most recent report that alcohol disturbs sleep, but in a way that may surprise scientists and readers alike.

“The prevailing thought was that alcohol promotes sleep by changing a person’s circadian rhythm–the body’s built-in 24-hour clock,” said Dr Mahesh Thakkar, another author of the study. “However, we discovered that alcohol actually promotes sleep by affecting a person’s sleep homeostasis–the brain’s built-in mechanism that regulates your sleepiness and wakefulness.”

The body has two systems that both play a role in sleep. The homeostatic system builds up pressure to sleep the longer a person stays awake, and the circadian system is an internal clock regulated by the body’s perception of light and dark.

A person might drink a lot of coffee and power through a night without sleeping. In the morning they would feel increased pressure to sleep from their homeostatic system, but their circadian clock would tell them it was time to be awake.

Alcohol does something of the opposite, the researchers found. It promotes sleepiness through the homeostatic system while leaving the circadian rhythm unaffected. While a person may nod off more quickly, it will be likely that they will not sleep through the whole night.

“Alcohol disrupts sleep and the quality of sleep is diminished. Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, which increases your need to go the bathroom and causes you to wake up earlier in the morning,” Sahota pointed out.

The researchers advised other options that could be pursued by people having difficulty getting a good night’s rest.

“If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, don’t use alcohol,”said Thakkar. “Talk to your doctor or a sleep medicine physician to determine what factors are keeping you from sleeping. These factors can then be addressed with individualized treatments.”

The report, “Alcohol Disrupts Sleep Homeostasis,” was completed by Drs Mahesh Thakkar, Pradeep Sahota and Rishi Sharma, and was published in the international biomedical journal Alcohol.

By Cheryl Bretton





Chinese shoppers banned from Beijing store

Chinese shoppers banned from Beijing store
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A Beijing clothing shop has drawn the ire of locals by banning Chinese shoppers from patronizing the store. The store has cited the particularly “annoying” character of Chinese shoppers as the reason for the ban, as well as concerns over theft–both material and design.

“Chinese people can not enter (except employees),” read the sign posted in the store’s window on Albemarle Road, Chaoyang District.

The staff emphasized repeatedly to reporters, “We did not want to put up this notice, because it would make others think we look down on our own, but some Chinese customers are too much.”

When asked for an explanation, a clerk stated that the business targeted mostly foreign business, and that they did not want Chinese shoppers to enter.

The staff further explained that Chinese women often come in and try on a lot of clothes, but in the end purchase nothing, to the acrimony of the clerks.

Because the shop has limited manpower, the staff reasoned, it was difficult to gather the energy to deal with these retail business problems, so they just put up a “Chinese people can not enter” sign.

The shop owner also said that he was partially prompted by a concern over designs being copied by competitors.

A shop clerk also cited a recent instance of a Chinese customer stealing a foreigners purse–which was caught on security camera. The victim of the crime claimed that the store was associated with the pickpockets and demanded compensation to the tune of $5,000. The shop owner was distressed by this loss.

According to Chinese reporters, this is the first time people in Albemarle Road have said “no” to Chinese customers.

Legal experts have commented that the shop’s action may constitute discrimination.

China University of Political Science Professor Lixian Dong said that businesses on Albemarle Road may use soft pressure to influence their clientage. This is understandable, said Lixian, because businesses have the right to choose their own business model, but a sign that explicitly says “Chinese people can not enter” is somewhat radical and could be considered discrimination in China, although it is probably not against the law.

“If there is a ban against Chinese people, but these staff are Chinese people, why is it they can enter?” said Lixian. “Although legally the behavior of these businesses may not be illegal, from a cultural point of view this approach may not be appropriate.”

By Cheryl Bretton

Photo by Ling Han

Sex Offenders in Florida Are Forced to Live in Makeshift Camps, It’s Off the Grid, and It’s Making the Public Less Safe – ACLU

Sex Offenders in Florida Are Forced to Live in Makeshift Camps, It's Off the Grid, and It's Making the Public Less Safe - ACLU
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A large group of people formerly convicted of sex offenses are living in a makeshift camp in Florida’s Miami-Dade County. They have been forced to live off the grid because of ordinances that prohibit them from living near a school–a designation that has been expanded by local government to include shelters and other non-educational facilities. This, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has had the opposite effect of that intended by the sex offender registry–it has made the area less safe, and has prevented the former offenders from improving. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the county on behalf of the constitutional rights of the former offenders.

The sex offenders are not allowed to live within 2,500 feet of a school. Many of the offenders, who would otherwise be able to find shelter with family or loved ones, are not able to do so, according to the ACLU. In some cases, various other buildings–such as emergency shelters–have been labelled “schools” for the purposes of the ordinance, in order to keep former sex offenders from living nearby.

In addition to thwarting the intended purpose of the ordinance–which was meant to increase public safety–the conditions created placing barriers before the re-integration of sex offenders into society has created conditions in which the offenders are more likely to reoffend, ACLU has stated.

Read more: ACLU Files on Behalf of Sex Offenders

The only two factors proven to reduce reoffending in sex offenders are treatment and stable employment, so by making it more difficult for past offenders to establish themselves so that they can participate in treatment and get a steady job, the ordinance again is has had the opposite effect of that intended, according to ACLU.

Several recent studies have found that, although residence restrictions for sex offenders are increasing, they are not working. Studies in California, Colorado, Minnesota have shown that the laws either have no impact or increase reoffending rates.

The motivation for increasing restrictions for sex offenders is often the demands of the public, who are fearful for the safety of their children and loved ones. Some groups, such as the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers have begun pointing out, however, that the restrictions only offer a “false sense of security.”

By Cheryl Bretton

Photo: Chris Goldberg