April 13, 2010
Doctors at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital said in a report published in pediatrics that the current definitions for eating disorders, namely anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa need to be expanded to have more people diagnosed with eating disorders
“Anorexia nervosa is characterized by emaciation, a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwilling to maintain a normal or healthy weight, a distortion of body image and intense fear of gaining weight,” The National Institute of Mental Health states in a document.
Symptoms accompanying this eating disorder include depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications and impaired physical development.
They may also include thinning of the bones, brittle hair and nails, dry and yellow skin, growth of fine hair, mild anemia, and muscle weakness and loss, sever constipation, low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse, and low body temperature.
“Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food (e.g., binge-eating), and feeling a lack of control over the eating. This binge-eating is followed by a type of behavior that compensates for the binge, such as purging (e.g., vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics), fasting and/or excessive exercise,” the NIMH states.
Symptoms associated with bulimia include psychological illnesses such as depression, anxiety and or substance abuse problems, and physical conditions like electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal problems and oral and tooth-related problems.
The researchers said the diagnostic cutoffs for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa may be too strict and many people who suffer severe conditions, but can’t be diagnosed with any eating disorder by the current definitions.
Rebecka Peebles, MD and colleagues suggest the group of people who are diagnosed with “eating disorder not otherwise specified” or EDNOS by the current definition should be treated like they suffer anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa as their conditions are severe enough to be treated as patients suffering bulimia and anorexia.
Peebles’ team studied 1,310 female patients treated for eating disorders at Packard Children’s between Janunary 1997 and April 2008 and two-thirds of the patients had EDNOS. They found many patients with EDNOS were qualified for treatments indicated for anorexia and bulimia patients.
February 22, 2010
By Kevin Maurer
A North Carolina congressman said Thursday that he wants an investigation into reports that levels of a cancer-causing chemical in tap water at a Marine Corps base were downplayed and then omitted from official documents.
Democratic Rep. Brad Miller called for the probe by his House science subcommittee Thursday – a day after The Associated Press reported on new documents that indicate massive fuel leaks at Camp Lejeune and high concentrations of benzene found in a water well there in 1984.
“I am just disbelieving of their failure to act. It may have been worse than a failure to act. They may have acted to minimize or prevent the risk from being disclosed,” Miller told the Associated Press on Thursday. “It is hard to imagine they would let this go on. There was too much information that they had to have consciously disregarded.”
Benzene, a carcinogen, is a natural part of crude oil and gasoline. Drinking water containing high levels of it can cause vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions and death. Long-term exposure damages bone marrow, lowers the number of red blood cells, and can cause anemia and leukemia, according to the EPA.
In 1984, an environmental contractor found benzene at 380 parts per billion at a well near a fuel farm. When a draft report was turned in, the level was changed to 38 parts per billion. The company’s final report on the well, issued in 1994, did not mention the benzene.
The Marine Corps had been warned nearly a decade earlier about the dangerously high levels of benzene, which was traced to massive leaks from fuel tanks at the base on the North Carolina coast. The benzene was discovered as part of a broader, ongoing probe into that contamination.
Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., the Chair Emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the Marines and their families “deserve to know exactly what was in the water.”
“I want to know whether there are still toxic chemicals contaminating the water at Camp Lejeune. If there are, what is the Navy’s plan for dealing with them?” Dingell said.
Health officials believe as many as 1 million people may have been exposed to tainted water at the base before the wells closed two decades ago. Critics say little information on benzene contamination had been publicly known until recently.
“It is hard to believe that they let Marines and their families drink this water for 30 years and didn’t say a word about it when they knew they had a fuel tank farm right by the water supply that was hemorrhaging fuel,” Miller said.
North Carolina’s congressional delegation has been active on behalf of the health claims of former Camp Lejeune residents.
A bill introduced by Miller would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health care to veterans and their family members who have fallen ill from the water. Miller’s bill is identical to the now-rejected Senate bill introduced by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C.
Burr called the revelations disturbing.
“It’s very likely that this information will significantly change the direction and broaden the scope of the government’s scientific inquiry into the water contamination at Camp Lejeune,” Burr said.
The Senate passed legislation in September, written by Hagan and co-sponsored by Burr, preventing the military from dismissing claims related to water contamination pending completion of several studies.
Among those is a mortality study that would determine if there are higher mortality rates for those who served at the base during the years water was contaminated.
A Hagan spokesman said that the senator would welcome a hearing, but that her top priority is completion of the studies.
“Right now there are Marines and their families who are sick and seeking answers. It is clear that benzene, a known carcinogen, was in the water supply in dangerous amounts,” Hagan said in a statement to AP. “We cannot leave these families with mounting medical problems and half answers.”
February 15th, 2010
The drug smells like fish or dirty socks to some people and this could account for the well-known side effects of the drug, which can make people nauseated, they said.
But the problem could be solved by coating the pills so they do not smell or release the odor into the stomach, where it can be burped up, they wrote in a letter to the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“We wonder why this reaction to metformin has not been previously reported,” Dr. Allen Pelletier of the Medical College of Georgia and colleagues wrote in a letter to the journal.
“Patients may report that metformin nauseates them but do not further elaborate or distinguish this as a visceral reaction to the smell of the medication.”
They described two cases in detail.
The first had taken brand-name metformin (Glucophage, made by Bristol-Myers Squibb) for several years before being switched to an immediate release, generic version of metformin, which he refused to take.
“He reported that it smelled like ‘dead fish’ and nauseated him,” they wrote. An extended release generic version, coated to make it dissolve more slowly, solved the problem.
A second man refused to ever take metformin again, even coated formulations, they said.
“Our cases show that the distinctive odor of metformin (independent of other, well-known gastrointestinal adverse effects of the medication) causes patients to stop taking the drug,” they wrote.
Doctors may simply think patients are having the other side-effects such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, flatulence, distention and abdominal pain, but the smell could make patients feel ill, Pelletier and colleagues said.
“Although reaction to the odor of metformin has not been reported in the medical literature, hundreds of postings to message boards on the Internet note the peculiar odor of the drug, which is also well known to pharmacists,” they added.
“Trial of a film-coated, extended-release formulation may be a reasonable approach in such cases,” they said.
Doctors often struggle to persuade patients to take their diabetes drugs as directed and this could be one easy fix, they said.
February 11, 2010
Dieters in Hong Kong were Tuesday warned by government doctors against a craze for swallowing parasite worms as a means of losing weight.
The city’s Department of Health has been alarmed to see websites offering products containing potentially fatal parasites as a means of weight control.
The products are thought to use Ascaris worms: giant intestinal roundworms which grow up to 40 centimetres in length in a host’s intestine and lay up to 200,000 eggs a day.
A Department of Health spokesman warned that swallowing the parasites could cause abdominal pain and distention, vomiting, diarrhoea and malnutrition.
“Parasite infestation may also be fatal if serious complications such as intestinal, biliary tract or pancreatic duct obstruction arise,” the spokesman said. “The worms may even invade such organs as the lungs.
“The infestation can be treated with medication that kills the parasite. The worms may require surgical removal if there are obstructions.”
He urged people to consult doctors before dieting and said the only natural, healthy and effective means of weight loss was through dietary regulation and regular exercise.
Dieting is big business in Hong Kong where obesity levels have soared because of sedentary lifestyles, fast-food diets and long office hours in the city of 7 million.
Clinics and websites offer a bizarre variety of questionable short-cut weight loss methods including hot wraps, fat-dissolving injections and even using controlled fire to literally burn off fat.
January 18, 2010
By S.L. Baker
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drugs kill about 40,000 Americans each year and over the counter drugs (OTC) — from pain relievers to cough medicines — cause thousands of additional deaths. Drugs can sicken, and sometimes kill, through side effects, allergic reactions, overdoses and interactions. And now there’s another reason to worry about pills you put in your body. A recent recall of the OTC pain reliever TYLENOL Arthritis Pain Caplets has revealed that drugs can be contaminated with mold and chemicals when they are transported and stored on “engineered wood” pallets.
In consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), McNeil Consumer Healthcare (a division of Big Pharma’s Johnson & Johnson) recently expanded its voluntary recall to include all lots of TYLENOL Arthritis Pain pills with the distinctive red EZ-open caps. The reason? The FDA received numerous complaints that the pills smelled like mold or mildew. What’s more, after taking them, consumers said they suffered from nausea, vomiting, stomach pains and diarrhea.
The drug company press release about the recall discounted these physical complaints reported by people sickened by the musty smelling drugs, saying “to date all of the observed events reported to McNeil were temporary and non-serious”. Obviously, however, if someone was already suffering from a serious illness involving their gastrointestinal tract, they might not equate a worsening of symptoms to the Tylenol they took — or they might not even be well enough to file a report. So the actual number of people sickened by the contaminated pills, and the contribution of the bad meds to a person’s illness, may never be fully known.
The drug company identified the source of the musty odor of the drugs, but with reservations. The press release said the smell was due to trace amounts of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole “which is believed to be the breakdown of a chemical used to treat wooden pallets that transport and store packaging materials”. By saying “believed to be”, they implied they don’t know for sure. They did acknowledge that “the health effects of this compound have not been well studied” — which is certainly not much reassurance to the folks who took the pain-relievers and then became ill.
Meanwhile, Bob Moore, Chairman and CEO of Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS), a company that manufactures hard plastic pallets for food and drug transportation, spoke out against the use of wooden pallets. Of course, certain types of plastic (especially the soft kinds) are known to sometimes leach chemicals and are not necessarily safe. But plastic pallet-executive Moore made a compelling case outlining the dangers of currently widely used wooden pallets.
In a statement to the media, he warned the pallets are frequently contaminated with dangerous chemicals and pesticides. Moreover, they have been shown by numerous lab studies to also harbor deadly food poisoning bacteria and pathogens.
Moore pointed out that while pallets made from wood sound natural but they are actually made from “engineered wood” components that contain urea formaldehyde. This well-known carcinogen can come in contact with food and drugs under a variety of scenarios when products are stored and shipped on wooden pallets. Formaldehyde is also released into the air when it off-gases from pallets in storage and transportation compartments, posing additional risks to workers and consumers.
In addition, to kill insects on the wooden pallets, fumigation is often performed with methyl bromide, a highly toxic, ozone-depleting chemical, according to Moore. And random testing of commonly used wooden pallets commissioned by iGPS showed the pallets are frequently loaded with disease causing germs such as Listeria. The pallets were also found to be downright nasty and dirty — and sometimes contaminated with rodent nests during storage.
“This (wood pallet storing and transportation) is an industry that openly ignores its own safety rules and transports our food supply on deplorably unsanitary platforms,” said Moore. “We call on Congress and the FDA to take a comprehensive look at the role wood pallets play in contaminating our food and drug supplies and to take action.”
December 29, 2009
Johnson & Johnson is expanding a voluntary recall of Tylenol Arthritis Caplets due to consumer reports of a moldy smell associated with nausea and stomach pain.
The New Brunswick, N.J., company says it is now recalling all product lots of the Arthritis Pain Caplet 100 count bottles with the red EZ-Open Cap.
Johnson & Johnson had recalled five lots of the product last month.
To date, the side effects, which also include vomiting and diarrhea, have been “temporary and non-serious.”
The health care company says the odor results from the breakdown of a chemical used to treat wooden pallets that transport and store packaging materials.
December 7, 2009
The Wall Street Journal
By Vladimir Guevarra
Unilever PLC is recalling 10 million cans of its Slim-Fast ready-to-drink products in the U.S. and Canada due to the possible contamination of a bacteria that can make people sick, a spokeswoman said Sunday.
The spokeswoman, speaking by telephone from New Jersey, said there is no immediately available figure on the cost of the recall, how long it would take or how much in revenue the product contributes to Unilever’s total sales.
The spokeswoman stressed that the recall affects only the Slim-Fast line of ready-to-drink can products and not those that come in powder or snack-bar form.
She said she doesn’t have immediate information on whether customers have started calling Unilever’s hotline number since the company announced the recall Thursday. She added that she couldn’t comment on whether the company will compensate customers but said “the probability of serious, adverse consequences is remote.”
On Thursday, Unilever’s U.S. office said the recall is “due to the possibility of contamination with Bacillus cereus, a micro-organism, which may cause diarrhea and possibly nausea and/or vomiting.”
Unilever said the recall began after the Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods group conducted a quality test on the canned product.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the company is recalling all ready-to-drink products in cans that are currently in distribution centers, on-shelf or in back rooms in retail outlets or in consumers’ homes,” it said in a statement.
The spokeswoman Sunday said shipments of the product will resume after the problem has been corrected.
The ready-to-drink products are packaged in cartons and contain four, six or 12 cans containing 11 fluid ounces each. Individual cans are also sold in certain retail outlets.
A check on Amazon.com shows 24 cans of the product’s “Chocolate Royale” flavored drink costs $33.83.
The Unilever spokeswoman said buyers of the product should discard them and contact the company for a full refund.
A Unilever spokesman in London said there were no plans for a similar recall in the U.K. or Europe.
November 16, 2009
The Raw Story
By Agence France-Presse
Researchers have pinpointed the source of what is probably the worst mass poisoning in history, according to a study published Sunday.
For nearly three decades scientists have struggled to figure out exactly how arsenic was getting into the drinking water of millions of people in rural Bangladesh.
The culprit, says the new study, are tens of thousands of man-made ponds excavated to provide soil for flood protection.
An estimated two million people in Bangladesh suffer from arsenic poisoning, and health experts suspect the toxic, metal-like element has caused — and will continue to cause — many deaths as well.
Symptoms include violent stomach pains and vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions and cramps. A large dose can kill outright, while chronic ingestion of small doses has been linked to a large range of cancers.
September 19, 2009
The Scotland Herald
The United States and Europe face a new health threat from a mosquito-borne disease far more unpleasant than the West Nile virus that swept into North America a decade ago, a U.S. expert said on Friday.
Chikungunya virus has spread beyond Africa since 2005, causing outbreaks and scores of fatalities in India and the French island of Reunion. It also has been detected in Italy, where it has begun to spread locally, as well as France.
“We’re very worried,” Dr. James Diaz of the Louisiana University Health Sciences Center told a meeting on airlines, airports and disease transmission sponsored by the independent U.S. National Research Council.
“Unlike West Nile virus, where nine out of 10 people are going to be totally asymptomatic, or may have a mild headache or a stiff neck, if you get Chikungunya you’re going to be sick,” he said.
“The disease can be fatal. It’s a serious disease,” Diaz added. “There is no vaccine.”
Chikungunya infection causes fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, rash and joint pain. Symptoms can last a few weeks, though some suffers have reported incapacitating joint pain or arthritis lasting months.
The disease was first discovered in Tanzania in 1952. Its name means “that which bends up” in the Makonde language spoken in northern Mozambique and southeastern Tanzania.
The virus could spread globally now because it can be carried by the Asian tiger mosquito, which is found in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.
In the United States, the mosquito species tends to live in southern regions east of the Mississippi but has been found as far afield as western Texas, Minnesota and New Jersey.
Health officials are greatly concerned about the appearance of Chikungunya in the islands of the Indian Ocean – Mauritius, Seychelles and Reunion – which have beach resorts frequented by European tourists.
“It is hyper-endemic in the islands of the Indian Ocean,” Diaz told the meeting.
“Travel by air will import the infected mosquitoes and humans,” he added. “Chikungunya is coming.”
Diaz warned of possible double-infections involving Chikungunya and dengue fever or malaria, which are also carried by the Asian tiger mosquito.
The spread of the disease could be greatest in so-called mega-cities such as Mumbai and Mexico City, which have large and impoverished populations, poor health controls and water systems that provide ready breeding grounds for mosquitoes, Diaz said.
West Nile, spread by a different mosquito species, first appeared in New York in 1999 and now can be found in most of North America.
September 1, 2009
By Mike Adams
Here’s a seventh grade word problem for you: If swine flu has infected one million people and killed 500, how many people might be expected to die if it infects 150 million people (assuming no major changes in the virus)? The correct answer, of course, is 75,000 people, and that’s within the range of the number of swine flu deaths now being publicly predicted by the White House.
But there’s another part to this word problem: How many vaccine shots and hand washings does it take to boost vitamin D levels in the average person?
The question, of course, makes no sense. Vaccine shots don’t boost vitamin D levels any more than eating pork infects you with swine flu. So why is the official advice on swine flu protection essentially limited to “wash your hands, get your vaccine shot and cough into your elbow?” (Seriously. I’m not making this up.)
The Associated Press has distilled swine flu advice to “10 things you need to know.” None of those ten things include boosting your nutrition, getting more vitamin D or taking anti-viral medicinal herbs. They do, however, include hilarious explanations like “If you develop breathing problems, pain in your chest, constant vomiting or a fever that keeps rising, go to an emergency room.”
Emergency room in a pandemic?
Whatever for? They don’t bother to mention that in a pandemic scenario that strikes you with constant vomiting, the entire emergency room is likely to be overrun with other people joining you in a hospital room vomit fest.
Nor do they mention some other important math: The very limited number of anti-viral medication courses available in the U.S. The last time I checked, that was roughly 50 million courses. If the U.S. population is roughly 300 million people, and there are 50 million courses of anti-viral meds available, how many Americans will have no access to those meds? (Ahem… 250 million people…)
Here’s an even more interesting brain buster for you: If each vaccine shot generates $25 in revenue for drug companies, and the U.S. government orders the production of 160 million vaccines, how much money is Big Pharma making off the pandemic? That answer is roughly $4 billion in net revenues.
But even that doesn’t count all the repeat business from the future victims who suffer neurological side effects from the vaccines and have to be institutionalized and subjected to high-dollar medical care for years on end. In all, a mass vaccination program could end up generating over ten billion dollars in revenues for drug companies.
These numbers just don’t add up
Now let’s look at some serious statistics: If one million people have already been infected with swine flu, and 500 have died, that’s a fatality rate of 1 out of 2000 people. Depending on which research you believe, vaccines might at most be credited with preventing 1% of flu deaths during any given flu season (and that’s being very generous to the vaccine). So here’s the question:
How many people have to be vaccinated with the new swine flu vaccine to save ONE life from a swine flu fatality?
(Notice, carefully, this question has never been asked in the mainstream media. That’s because the answer isn’t exactly what most people want to hear…)
This question is easy to answer, actually. If the vaccine were 100% effective (that is, they prevented every death that would have otherwise occurred), they could be credited with saving 1 life out of 2000, right? Because that’s the normal death rate for this particular virus (these figures are widely quoted by AP, Reuters and the White House, by the way).
But no vaccine is 100% effective. As I mentioned above, seasonal flu vaccines might — at a stretch — be credited with preventing 1% of the deaths that might otherwise have occurred. With this 1% effectiveness factor calculated back into the formula for swine flu (assuming the same 1% effectiveness factor), it turns out that you would have to vaccinate 200,000 people to save ONE life from swine flu.
That puts a whole new perspective on the vaccine push, doesn’t it? 200,000 vaccines costs taxpayers roughly $5,000,000, and it subjects 200,000 people to the potential side effects of these vaccines which have never been subjected to any long-term testing whatsoever.
It all begs the question: Is it really worth it?
Is it worth spending $5 million and exposing 200,000 people to potentially dangerous vaccine side effects in order to prevent ONE death from swine flu? And why isn’t anybody breaking down the numbers on this issue and providing a serious cost / benefit analysis as I’m doing here?