Mental Health News

2010-12-29 / Health News / 0 Comments

Families worry mental health cuts will send kids spiraling

A week before Christmas, Judy Powelson was awaiting her son’s first visit home in nine months with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

Earlier in the year, the 17-year-old’s mental illness had spiraled out of control to the point that he attacked her, kicked a teacher in the groin and was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment. But since he entered residential treatment funded in part by the state, she’d seen him go through marked improvements — getting a 3.11 GPA and being voted MVP in soccer.

Now Powelson’s son, identified in court papers as T.G., is one of 20,000 students across California whose mental health services may be in jeopardy in the new year because of a line-item veto by the governor. In October, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger slashed $133 million in funding for what are known as AB 3632 services, a 25-year-old program that requires state and local education and mental health agencies to jointly provide education-related mental health services.
Families with children who suffer from mental illnesses ranging from depression to schizophrenia and who depend on these services have been thrown into chaos, parents and advocates say. Several counties, including Orange and Alameda, have sent out notices indicating that the services will be discontinued in January, attorneys representing the parents said.

“If my son loses this treatment, I will lose my son,” Powelson said, her voice quivering. “I will lose him to mental illness, I will lose him to the criminal justice system, to drug abuse, to suicide.”

She has filed a declaration about her son’s situation as part of a federal class-action lawsuit seeking to block cutbacks to or discontinuation of the services. This month, a federal judge in Los Angeles heard arguments from attorneys representing the families and various state and local agencies but said he would wait until the new year before considering whether to issue an injunction.

U.S. District Judge George Wu said it wasn’t immediately clear what would happen come Jan. 14, when a temporary order restoring the funding for the services is due to expire. He said he also wanted to wait for the outcome of a separate state court case in Sacramento challenging the governor’s veto, which is scheduled to be heard in early January.

“I understand that the state agencies are pointing the finger and saying, ‘It’s your problem, it’s your problem, it’s your problem,’ ” Wu said at the hearing, adding that each agency was “waiting for somebody to blink.” But he said it wasn’t the right time for him to issue an order because “it’s a complicated situation…. Bad things have not happened, but may happen in the future based on how these agencies act.”

Attorneys representing various state and county agencies said they were trying to determine where the funds would come from, not dodging their responsibilities. They also said the four named plaintiffs in the case were currently receiving the necessary treatment and had not been notified that it would be taken away.

“They’re here prematurely,” said Supervising Deputy Atty. Gen. Jennifer M. Kim, representing the governor’s office and the California Department of Mental Health.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs contended that a statewide court order was immediately necessary because vulnerable children were at risk of being harmed while the case was being litigated.

“Every day, a new county is saying they can’t provide the services,” said Laura Faer, an attorney for Public Counsel, which filed the class-action lawsuit along with Disability Rights California and the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

David Campos, whose son is the lead plaintiff, said he felt his child was being left behind while government agencies passed the blame.

“Everybody’s waiting for somebody else to take the first step,” said Campos, whose son, identified as A.C. in court papers, has been receiving counseling since kindergarten. Campos and his wife, Gail, have been trying to get help for their son ever since they adopted him at age 4 knowing he suffered the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and had been neglected and abused.

This summer, their son twice attempted suicide — swallowing half a bottle of Tylenol and trying to hang himself — and landed in juvenile hall. Through AB 3632 funding, he is receiving residential treatment for oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder in Texas.

“When I heard the news [of the cut], I felt like I had been punched in the stomach,” Gail Campos wrote in a declaration submitted with the court. “My son so desperately needs these services to get better, and I don’t want him to end up in the criminal system or homeless.”

Powelson said the treatment for her son, who has been diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder and intermittent explosive disorder, had been like the “light at the end of the tunnel” for her family.

“The bad days before turned into bad weeks and bad months. My husband used to say it was like a piano falling from a tall building,” she said. “Now, in treatment, he has a safe place to fall.”

Mental health beds set to move

It has been a process almost a dozen years in the making, but come January, 31 regional, specialized beds with the Northeast Mental Health Centre will be transferred from North Bay to the former Sudbury Algoma Hospital.

Thirty-one patients to fill those spots will move Jan. 14 to newly renovated quarters at the hospital, set in a park-like setting on Kirkwood Drive.

The move has not come without controversy, with some North Bay business leaders and union members complaining about the patient moves and associated job transfers.

But the woman in charge of organizing the transfer believes it will be a good one in the long run for the 31 patients involved.

Karen Bennett is vice-president of clinical programs with the North East Mental Health Centre, an agency that didn’t exist when the Health Services Restructuring Commission recommended the beds be moved from North Bay to Sudbury in 1998.

Until then, those beds were located in one of 10 provincially run psychiatric hospitals in the province. The commission transferred care of acute mental health services to hospitals and created the North East Mental Health Centre to oversee the operation of those 31 regional beds.

The 31 beds will be transferred to the Kirkwood building, which is owned by the North East Mental Health Centre. Sudbury Regional Hospital rents space from the mental health centre for some acute mental health beds it operates at Kirkwood.

The reorganization of acute mental health services to Sudbury and North Bay hospitals, and of regional beds to North East Mental Health Centre, has been a long time coming and there have been some hard feelings along the way.

While change is difficult for most people to accept, Bennett firmly believes the 31 patients currently in the 31 regional beds will receive even better care in their new quarters.

The 31 patients will be divided into two streams — 15 of them into specialized dementia care and 16 in the adult transitional program.

The goal of professionals working in both units is to help people get well so they can return to live at home, in long-term care or in other arrangements in their home communities.

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Yeast Infection Treatment News

2010-12-28 / Health News / 0 Comments

Can a Yeast Infection Be Cured From Reading A Book?

Yeast Infection No More is the Best Candida eBook In Internet History, With A large number of Satisfied (And today Yeast Infection Free) Users In 127 Countries Worldwide for any reason…

A large number of women and men of every age have completely cured their candidiasis condition and gained complete freedom from candida related symptoms naturally, without drugs, creams or “magic potions,” by simply using the clinically proven, scientifically-accurate step by step method found inside this amazing yeast infection freedom guidebook.

Linda Allen, a certified nutritionist, health consultant and author hasn’t just pumped out another “anti-yeast program” into an already over-saturated market. Linda’s Candidiasis No More can be more accurately described as a “Candida Bible.” It is quite simply probably the most comprehensive, complete, and precise guides to candida freedom you’ll ever read. What makes it so much different than other candidiasis publications available on the market?

Well To begin with, it’s not just a “yeast infection relief” program, it’s a candida cure program. This may seem like semantics or wordplay in the beginning, but once you have read just the first chapters, there won’t be any doubt in your mind that pursuing “yeast infection relief” is not only the wrong goal, it may be the reason that you’ve failed to stop and maintain your ‘candida free internal environment’. Yeast Infection No More shows you exactly why you need to fix the internal problem that’s causing your candidiasis, not just masking the symptoms or getting relief and then goes on to show you exactly how to get it done.

Secondly, what makes Yeast Infection No More different may be the amount of attention that is paid to every and every element required to achieve permanent freedom from candida albicans related symptoms. Yeast Infection No More not only thoroughly discusses the lies, myths and fallacies surrounding a very confusing subject, it is simply the most detailed ebook about yeast infection, and holistic health ever written.

The Yeast Infection No More ebook is quite extensive (250 pages of rock solid content) which focuses on 100% natural yeast infection treatment. Which means there aren’t recommendations for harsh prescription medications with nasty side effects. In yeast infection No More core formula section (The 5 step system) – There is nothing held back. In this section, Linda provides a detailed summary of each step, and then dives into the specifics inside a perfect chronological order. There’s also outstanding charts and checklists which will make it super easy to know where you are at within the program and follow it.

Because the Yeast Infection No More program isn’t a quick fix ‘fairy tale’ cure but an entire holistic solution targeted at eliminating the root cause of yeast infection and candida (no matter their severity) and ensure your will permanently be candida-free, it will take work and persistence to complete. “The dictionary may be the only place success comes before work” says Linda, as she emphasizes the “no quick fix” philosophy behind the entire ebook.

When there is any downside of the Yeast Infection No More ebook, it’s that it contains a lot information, that some readers may find it a bit overwhelming. Those who are looking for a quick start type of candida program, may be a bit intimated in the beginning. The good part however, is that even these types of readers can feel confident and assured that it will be well worth the effort as this will literally be the last book they ever need to read on the topic.

Treatments for Yeast Infection Demand Increases to Cure Condition at Home

Recent figures now suggest that 25% of the USA suffer from yeast infection related issues. People seeking home treatment for yeast infections seems to have hit an all time high. More alarmingly a yeast infection can be linked to a whole string of problems you would not normally consider.

Most of us of heard of the normal signs of a yeast infection but many don’t realize there are many less known effects including chronic, fatigue, digestive problems and more. These factors are often overlooked by most doctors, however it seems more people are starting to become aware of the problem known as ‘Candida overgrowth’. Making way for treatments for yeast infection

Luckily there are a few set of individuals who are willing to devote time into studying yeast infections further. Because of the circumstances of yeast infections, many people feel more comfortable to treat the condition themselves at home. This has made way for a guide which has become one of the top selling ebooks of its kind on the Internet.

Written by Sarah Summers a medical researcher and web master, the 12 Hour natural yeast infection treatment has made quite a stir on the Internet. It has taught countless people both male and female how to cure the condition in hours at home. In addition, unlike most drugs the treatment acts as a permanent cure of the root cause.

Flexible Spending Account Spending Spree

Last year, when you opted into your Flexible Spending Account at work, did you overestimate your spending needs? I haven’t done the childcare FSA, but I have opted into the health care FSA for years. It makes a lot of sense for me. It pulled money before taxes for me to spend on health care expenses not covered by insurance — like co-pays, over-the-counter medications, dental work.

This keeps me from having to add up the health expenses and hope they are enough to deduct at the end of the year for taxes. Usually, that isn’t enough to meet the tax deduction for health care expenses. (Thank goodness!) I overestimate though. I think “This will be the year I will get all the dental work done!” “What if I get really sick?” The past two years have been particularly troubling — leaving me to scramble lest I lose the money that was withheld. Flexible spending accounts are “use it or lose it.”

In most cases, this is at the end of the calendar year. In some, your employer will allow a few extra months to spend the rest of your FSA withholding. If you leave a job (voluntarily or not), you must use ALL of your FSA money by the last day of employment.

Last year, I had a good amount left in November. I went to the dentist and spent what I could there. (And she had a list for the new year that I knew I had to withhold a ton in order to get done.) I still had about 300.00 left.

My employer had issued a handy dandy “FSA Credit Card” which made paying for items easier.

In December, I refilled every prescription med I could. I bought fiber, band-aids, over-the-counter pain relievers, yeast infection medications, and somehow we managed to spend it all but 8 cents.

This year, I left my job in September. I realized the week before the clause about using it all before the last day of employment. EEEK! I had over 1K left. I went to the dentist (again) and dropped about $450. Then we went to the pharmacy. We got heating pads, fiber, band aids, first aid items, over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy medicines, refilled prescriptions, bought enough yeast infection medicine for the whole family of women for a year (Merry Christmas Michelle! A stocking full of Monistat!; a big expense when you are a college student prone to yeast infections), bought UTI and Yeast Infection test kits. I got a flu shot. (And was VERY glad when girl child came home with the flu and everyone else got it but m — I mean, not that they had it, but that I didn’t get it.)

It took two drug stores, enough cross-checking with the approved list of FSA items online via the phone to get a captcha on Google to make sure we weren’t auto-requesting, and a lot of tired bizarre stress my last night at my old job — but we spent it. Now, we are ready for the apocalypse in over-the-counter FSA covered items.

Check your FSA leftover amount before heading out — including things that might not have “cleared.”
Check the list of approved FSA items from YOUR insurance company before going out. Not all items are covered from year to year and they change. For example: vitamins and anti-diarrhea meds were covered in the past but weren’t this year on my plan, but other people could get these covered.
Ask the pharmacist for help. The pharmacist at our second drug store had a lot of good ideas.
Don’t forget that dental expenses, co-pays, and eye doctors count.
You can get a general idea of allowable expenses here in IRS Publication 502, but again check with your employer’s insurance company about the specifics.
ALWAYS save your receipts. The FSA issuers tend to ask for documentation at odd times and for the strangest items. (Doctor co-pays, prescriptions refilled via the insurance company prescription service, etc)

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ADHD News and Treatment

2010-12-27 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Medical Minute: Vision Revision for ADHD Diagnosis

Once she starts reading, Katy Kluck can’t stop. So mom was puzzled when Katy started struggling with schoolwork.

“I couldn’t really focus because there were so many questions on the page,” says Katy.

“Once they heard that Katy could not focus immediately they said well, she has an A.D.D. problem,” says Katy’s mom, Ann Kluck.

Afraid of using meds, Ann did some research, which led her to an optometrist.

“One of the questions we ask parents is to decide whether it’s an organic attention problem or maybe more related to a vision problem,” says Daniel Press, OD., a developmental optometrist.

Exams found Katy’s eyes didn’t work well together, the words moved and turned blurry.

She kicked-off eight months of vision therapy. It’s a workout using computer gaming, training the brain to use both eyes together.

“One of the eyes sees the red target, the other one only sees the blue target so if you’re going to do this well you have to use both eyes well together,” says Daniel.

The American Academy of Pediatrics vision experts say 60-percent of kids labeled as problem learners, actually suffer from undetected vision problems. But some have doubts. The American Academy of Pediatrics says vision therapy may give parents and teachers a false sense of security that a child’s problems are being addressed.

Caroline Moore says vision therapy worked for her. “My grades skyrocketed back up!”

So did Katy’s. “It makes me feel good because I’m getting good grades.”

Lack of proof or legit solution? One mom found the answer in her child’s eyes.

Do homeopathic treatments for ADHD work?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it’s Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Question asked by Suzie

Our 8-year-old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at age 6. We have tried several medications, stimulants and nonstimulants, and have not gotten good results. We are now looking at homeopathic treatment for our daughter, but the question is: Does it really work?

The short answer to your question appears to be no. Let’s talk about this short answer before we talk a little about a longer and more complicated answer.

Compared with studies in many thousands of children and adolescents – including studies lasting many years – as of 2007, the effects of homeopathy for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, had been studied with even minimal rigor in only four studies.

When researchers combined data from the 168 young people in these four studies, they found no evidence that homeopathic treatments were of benefit for ADHD. So at this point in time I think we have to conclude that by the standards used to assess Food and Drug Administration-approved medications, homeopathic treatments don’t work.

OK, that’s the short answer. The longer answer is that homeopathic approaches do not appear to work better than placebo treatments, so they don’t work in any specific way for ADHD. But placebos can have powerful beneficial effects for many health conditions, ranging from depression and chronic pain to Parkinson’s disease. Recent studies show clearly that when people believe they are taking an active medication but are receiving a placebo their brains activate in much the same way – but to a lesser degree – as their brains do in response to the active medication.

The internet is chock-full of treatments promising the sun, moon and stars for all sorts of medical problems. The vast majority of these have never been adequately tested.

Look for the last few lines of small print underneath all the gigantic claims made on internet sites for homeopathic ADHD treatments. You’ll always see something along the lines of “claims have not been scientifically established” or “treatment is not intended for medical purposes.” In psychiatry, we often say that a new medication works best just before it is approved for use, because its sheen has not been rubbed off by clinical experience.

Although homeopathy doesn’t work in formal studies, it does not mean it might not help certain individuals, and your child might be one of them. But I would strongly suggest that if multiple ADHD medications have failed it is possible that your daughter has been misdiagnosed and is being given medications that work for a condition she doesn’t have.

Before doing anything in terms of alternative treatments, I’d make sure you got your daughter the best mental health assessment you can find to make sure that she doesn’t have a condition such as bipolar disorder, which can often resemble ADHD in childhood but requires different types of medication.

Letter: ADHD detail

Regarding the prescription of drugs to children for ADHD which attracts the attention of health services (your report, 22 December) it is interesting to note that a strong motivator for parents to push for diagnosis and treatment is the enhancement of benefit payments they receive.
An appraisal of the proportion of families reliant on state benefit whose children are diagnosed in comparison with those not receiving benefit would be enlightening.

Parenting support in early years helps but there do appear to be parents out there who promote challenging behaviour in their children with the intention of obtaining increased benefit income from disability living allowance.

Perhaps someone has researched this or has figures to support or refute this observation.

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Wellness Today

2010-12-24 / Health News / 0 Comments

Alberta health officials sound alarm over syphilis outbreak

Syphilis is spreading fast in Alberta, and the number of reported cases have risen exponentially over the last decade. According to a report by the Alberta Health and Wellness, reported cases of the sexually transmitted infection have risen from two in 1999 to 267 in 2009. “We have a problem,” reads the first headline of the document, titled The Syphilis Outbreak in Alberta. “Alberta continues to experience a sustained outbreak of syphilis which shows no signs of abating,” the report says. The bacterial infection is transmitted through intimate sexual contact, and can be easily treated if detected in its early stages. It frequently has no symptoms, though, and if left untreated, can spread to the brain, heart, blood vessels and bones, and can eventually be fatal. Dr. Martin Lavoie, Alberta’s deputy chief medical officer of health, believes the spread of the infection is partially caused by a growing complacency about safe sex, particularly as people have come to view HIV as a treatable condition rather than a deadly infection.

$5K grant gives CJHS wellness program a boost

Student health and wellness efforts at Clinton Junior High recently got a big boost.

The school was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for use by its health council. Bonnie Brown, computer discovery teacher and member of the school’s health council, applied for the funds.

“Healthy students are able to achieve their full academic potential, full physical and mental growth and lifelong health and well-being,” Brown said. “Nutrition, physical activity and learning well are all linked components. We want our students to be informed and productive citizens, today and in the future.”

CJHS uses the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, a school health and wellness program created by the National Football League and the National Dairy Council. Students can log into the program’s Web site and keep track of what they’re eating and how much physical activity they’re getting.

Brown has also held educational meetings to discuss nutrition and the importance of exercise.

With the grant money, she said, the program can be expanded to more students. Currently there are 15 students on the panel, but Brown said she’d like to include all seventh-graders.

“If we get the seventh-graders on board, they can continue the program next year here at Clinton Junior High,” Brown said.

Incentives will be awarded in each Fuel Up to Play 60 challenge, such as jump rope, hula-hoop and running competitions, she said.

Sheila Grogan, executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, said her agency’s focus is on making Mississippians healthier.

“The grant request submitted by Clinton Junior High School proposed a project that will encourage students to eat healthier and exercise,” she said. “This aligns with the vision of our foundation. Students across our state are becoming more active and learning lifestyle choices that will support a healthy lifestyle now, and in the future.”

Clinton Junior High’s grant will allow the purchase of jump ropes and other PE equipment as well as educational materials about health and wellness.

“We’re also looking for restaurants interested in providing students with healthy selections from their store menu,” she said. “They can come during our school lunch periods.”

Seniors May Need A Push To Use Free Wellness Exam

Fewer than 10 percent of seniors took advantage of the “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam paid for by Medicare, according to the government.

So what does that mean for how seniors will use the new, more comprehensive preventive health exam benefits that kick in by 2011?

“I don’t think people will be running to do this,” said Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. While she applauds the new benefit, she said seniors may not see the value without a strong recommendation from their doctor.

The wellness visit, which was included in the new health law at a projected cost of $3.6 billion over next 10 years, has several advantages over the “Welcome to Medicare” exam.

The new benefit can be used every year and it is free. Medicare patients had a 20 percent co-pay on “Welcome To Medicare” exam — although that is eliminated starting Jan. 1.

The exam would include the usual checks of vital signs, height, weight, establish a schedule for screenings for patients and seek to identify cognitive impairment, functional ability and depression.

Aside from improving patients’ health, doctors have another reason to promote the wellness exam — a bigger reimbursement. They will get an average of $172 for it compared to the $136.80 they got for the “Welcome to Medicare” physical, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Roland Goertz, president of the academy, said most doctors have found ways to provide preventive care during patient sick visits in the past. “You had to be creative, but with this new benefit it will give more status to the value of prevention,” he said.

Nonetheless, patients may not understand the need for checkup when they’re feeling well, he said. “It will take a culture change,” he said.

Dr. Barry Straube, chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said he’s confident more seniors will take advantage of the new wellness exam. But he wonders whether busy doctors will promote it.

New grants help promote wellness in Fall River

Fall River —

If you live in Fall River, you’re more likely to smoke, suffer from substance or mental illness and to die of cancer than people living in other parts of the ccommonwealth. In most cases, Fall River residents are twice as likely to experience these conditions when compared with others in the state. While there are many factors that contribute to these rates, including our high unemployment rates and stress associated with poverty, the most important question to ask is what are we doing about it. In the last month, three major grants have recently been announced that specifically target these conditions and, in time, could begin to bring these high numbers down.

On Nov. 1, the city of Fall River announced that it was one of only three cities in the country to be awarded a grant of 1.4 million dollars per year for the next four years by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for substance abuse prevention, mental health promotion, and short-term therapies for depression and anxiety. Led by staff from Stanley Street Treatment and Resources, the grant will provide screenings for people who may be in the early stages of substance use or who show early signs of depression or other mental illnesses. These conditions are well known to be associated with unemployment and poverty, but few efforts have been funded to head off the conditions early enough to prevent people from developing more chronic conditions that are more difficult to treat.

“We think we have the ability to prevent brief periods of drinking, drug abuse or depression from becoming life-long conditions if we intervene early,” commented Nancy Paull, executive director of SSTAR. “The focus of our efforts over the next four years will be to identify people with early symptoms and to get them into brief treatment,” she said. “A lot of people we see in treatment have sought help years after problems first developed,” she added, “ when it’s much more difficult to turn around.” Substance abuse, including the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and depression not only create substantial health problems on their own, they often lead to the development of other health problems when people fail to attend to their physical health.

A second grant to address one of these conditions in Fall River and other nearby communities was announced on Nov. 18. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health began a new media campaign that targets smokers in the Southcoast region of the state. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the funds will address the high smoking rate with positive ads that encourage smokers to seek help with quitting.

Ads in newspapers, on billboards and on SRTA buses, as well as on radio stations, in Fall River and New Bedford feature local people who have quit smoking. Their stories encourage smokers to speak with their physicians about medicines and counseling covered by their insurance, as well as the use of the free Smokers’ telephone Quitline (1-800-Quit-Now or 1-800-784-8669). Southcoast Hospital has already been recognized by DPH for their efforts to encourage smokers to quit through the use of the Quitworks program for health care providers.

“There has never been more help available to help smokers quit,” commented Judith Coykendall, who runs the Partners for Clean Air program for the Southcoast out of Seven Hills Behavioral Health. “We are hopeful that our smoking rates, which are double that of the rest of the state, will start to come down as people take advantage of these resources.”
A third new major prevention grant was also recently announced by DPH to address the health of SouthCoast residents. The Massachusetts Cancer Prevention Policy Initiative brings $750,000 over the next five years to address the some of the environmental and lifestyle factors that frequently lead to the development of cancers.
Rates of lung, stomach and colon and other cancer have been higher in Fall River and other SouthCoast communities for years. Cancer is now the leading cause of death in Massachusetts, surpassing heart disease several years ago. The higher rates in Fall River can be attributed to greater rates of smoking and alcohol use, while factors such as diet and sedentary lifestyle have also been implicated in research studies over the past decade.
In order to lower the rates of cancer in our area, project staff will be working closely with participants in VOICES for a Healthy Southcoast, a coalition of seventeen towns from Swansea to Wareham that is focused on policy and environmental changes that will encourage healthier lifestyles. The goals of lowering rates of smoking, increasing physical activity and eating healthier diets will be achieved by changing laws and regulations that affect these behaviors and by making it easier for people lead more active lives by increasing opportunities for walking and purchases of fruits and vegetables.

“Years ago we thought that educational programs would motivate people to change certain behaviors for a positive impact on their health,” suggested Maria Evora-Rosa, the DPH staff member who will be coordinating the project. “Now we realize that we have to make the healthy choice the easy choice; we have design our communities in ways that provide convenient and cost-effective opportunities for healthier living. We also know that making the unhealthy choice the more difficult choice through local legislative change has worked in many communities, especially pertaining to the access of tobacco products. Through local initiatives, we can have a significant impact on our community’s health.” she added.

“We now see some cancers – lung, skin, colorectal and some breast, just to mention a few, as more of a chronic disease that may develop over a lifetime,” said Gail Merriam, director of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Program. “In order to prevent these diseases from occurring, we have to address the environmental and behavioral factors that lead to their development,” she said.

Clearly, the combination of these three major grants in Fall River and nearby communities has the potential of beginning to bring our numbers down.

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Acne and Skin Care News

2010-12-23 / Skin Care / 0 Comments

Better acne treatment inside and out

Most of us have experienced acne. For some it is merely an occasional nuisance while others find it to be a seriously embarrassing and frustrating issue that seems to defy all logical treatment. And for a few with really bad acne, it can leave emotional scars that are more than just skin deep.

Successful acne treatment requires getting to the root cause of the acne and fixing it at the source. We need to address issues with skin turnover, bacteria and fungal infections, inflammation in the body and hormone imbalances. And, yes, diet, stress, and sleep also play a role.

Acne is the result of clogging of the skin’s oil glands, with or without inflammation and infection. We know that acne is caused by hormones and bacteria. The oil glands secrete a waxy oil called sebum, and become whiteheads (closed and plugged oil glands), blackheads (open and plugged oil glands), and pustules (red and inflamed, often infected). At a basic level the simplest form of acne is when the oil glands are plugged by the normal outer layer of dead skin, called keratin.

Good skin care involves twice daily washing, moisturizing, and sun protection. We recommend cleansers that gently and effectively rejuvenate the skin by dissolving surface oil, bacteria and impurities without harmful over-drying, leaving your skin feeling fresh and clean. A good moisturizer should be oil-free and provide nutrients that encourage healthy skin. By combining a sunscreen with moisturizer it makes for a very simple step in your daily regimen. We recommend the ABI product line for basic skin care with outstanding results.

When it comes to make-up, avoid heavy pore-clogging, high-fragrance foundations such as Revlon, Loreal, Maybelline, Mary Kay, Lancome, Elizabeth Arden, etc. We suggest mineral make-up which does not clog pores. Our favorite brand is YoungBlood, which is full of nutrients and antioxidants and includes sunscreen.

Control of acne requires an effective and convenient way to control sebum production and gently exfoliate dead skin cells. This can be done with daily topical treatments, such as glycolic and salicylic acid topicals, retinoids, and fruit peels. Microdermabrasion can be very helpful in preventing keratin build up but can worsen acne during a flare up.

A crucial part of successful acne treatment is to understand the role of infection. P. Acnes is a common bacteria that inhabits oil glands, causing a worsening of the size and inflammation of plugged glands. Once acne moves beyond whiteheads or blackheads into pustules or boils then additional treatment is indicated. For milder cases, prescription topical antibiotics often work well. For more intensive infections systemic antibiotics are helpful. The Blu-U light therapy effectively kills the P. Acnes bacteria. Adding the photosensitizing agent Levulan to the Blu-U is great for the most resistant cases.

For many people acne is a sign of underlying inflammation or problems with the immune system as a whole. Everything from diet, stress, poor sleep, infections and allergies might be playing a role in acne due to inflammation.

Certain foods cause acne due to the effects on various hormones in the body that deal with inflammation. High sugar and high glycemic diets will cause spikes in insulin and with it our stress hormone cortisol will rise. Cortisol will directly stimulate the sebum glands and cause acne. Too much saturated fat in the diet will cause inflammation and high cortisol. Stress and lack of sleep will both cause high cortisol, and again, this can lead to more acne.

Sneaky underlying infections in the gut or bloodstream, such as the yeast Candida, can cause inflammation and acne. Interestingly, the “good” bacteria in the body, especially in the gut, play a big role in keeping the immune system strong and help to keep “bad” microbes and inflammation under control. When the immune system is weakened it allows the otherwise harmless microbes to take over — and this can happen in the skin. The beneficial bacteria in the gut also plays a role in removing toxins and excess hormones from the body, both of which may help acne. We often treat for infections such as Candida and include a probiotic (our body’s beneficial bacteria) supplement as part of our acne treatment plan.

Believe or not, delayed food allergies can cause acne due to the resulting inflammation and increased cortisol hormone production. We see numerous cases where acne just disappears as patients eliminate certain foods they are allergic to such as gluten or dairy products.

The skin is often a tell-tale sign of an underlying hormone imbalance. Similar to cortisol, the androgens or “male hormones” such as DHEA, testosterone, and its byproduct DHT, all increase oil production in the skin and stimulate hair growth. When the androgens are in excess relative to the “female hormones” such as estrogen and progesterone then the skin can become oily, hairy or both.

Pre-menopausal women commonly have estrogen dominant cycles due to a lack of sufficient progesterone, causing premenstrual breakouts. During and after menopause many women experience a flare up of acne not seen since their teens or at all due to the falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. Other hormone conditions such as low thyroid and polycystic ovarian syndrome can affect the skin. A hormone analysis is a very important step in acne treatment and correction of hormone imbalances will improve skin and overall health. In some cases we prescribe medications that block hormone receptors in the skin.

Our acne treatment protocol typically involves treating the skin directly while evaluating the whole person beneath. Certainly proper skin care and aesthetic procedures will do wonders for reducing acne and improving skin health but we also help with lifestyle issues such as dietary changes, stress management, and improving sleep — all of which can build the immune system and reduce acne promoting inflammation.

An integrated medical-aesthetic approach looking for underlying causes is often the “cure” for difficult to treat acne. We’ve seen many cases where years of acne frustration ended simply and quickly with proper treatment of immune system or hormone imbalances. For better acne treatment, consider an approach that works inside and out.

Erin Larson is a certified laser specialist, aesthetician, and co-owner of Bellezza Laser Aesthetics. She has worked with many different brands of laser equipment and is experienced with every aesthetic laser procedure as well as the Levulan procedure for precancerous lesions, microdermabrasion and numerous skin care product lines. Bellezza is located in the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado ( Call 254-1195 for a complimentary consultation.

Scott Rollins, M.D., is board certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other complex medical conditions. He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado ( Call 245-6911 for an appointment or more information.

Herborium Provides Editorial on Natural Acne Treatment for U.K.’s National Primary Care Review

Herborium Group, Inc., (PINKSHEETS: HBRM | PowerRating), a Botanical Therapeutics(TM) company (, today announced that it has been selected to provide the editorial on alternative acne treatment for National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) Review, Spring 2011 edition.

“Exposure in such a prestigious medical review to tens-of-thousands of U.K. general practitioners and dermatologists is a significant boost in Herborium’s European brand building efforts, as well as promising acceleration of sales; it also advances the company’s goal to become the worldwide leader in natural medicine,” commented Dr. Agnes P. Olszewski, Herborium’s president and chief executive officer. “The Review is distributed to 36,000 general practitioners and almost 2,000 dermatologists and dermatological groups.”

The high-profile exposure comes at a most advantageous time, as AcnEase, ( Herborium’s all botanical, clinically tested acne and Rosacea treatment continues to grow as the treatment of choice in the U.K. and EU. Since general practitioners and dermatologists can operate their own pharmacies on premises and sell both prescriptive drugs as well as supplements, and natural medicines Herborium expects a further growth in sales as a result of the Editorial.

Currently, the only class of FDA approved drug to treat the cause of acne is isotretinoin. Manufactured by Hoffman La-Roche and marketed under the trade name Accutane in the U.S., and Roaccutane in Europe, this drug class was recently taken off the market due to the high number of severe side effects and the pending class-action lawsuits.

AcnEase represents a safe, effective, and natural alternative for treatment and prevention of acne.

The Spring 2011 edition of The NAPC Review is solely devoted to Acne etiology and treatments and is co-sponsored by the British Skin Foundation and the British Association of Dermatologists. The NAPC Review is sent to every General Practitioner and every Dermatologist in Great Britain effectively covering all doctors who treat patients with acne and Rosacea. Herborium’s clinically tested botanical acne medicine, AcnEase, currently being sold in the U.K. since 2004, was cited as a reason for Herborium’s selection.

About Herborium Group, Inc. Herborium Group, Inc., a Botanical Therapeutics(R) company, focuses on developing, licensing, and marketing proprietary, botanically based medicinal products to consumers and healthcare professionals. The Company’s business model focuses on emerging market opportunities spearheaded by the growth of a new market sector located between high-cost, high-risk, ethical pharmaceuticals and commoditized classic nutraceuticals (supplements). The Company uses clinical validation and a proactive regulatory strategy based on the FDA Guidance for Industry: Botanical Drug Products (FDA Guidance 2004) to establish and maintain a differential advantage. For more information, please visit and

One of our most important responsibilities is to communicate with shareholders in an open and direct manner. Comments are based on current management expectations, and are considered “forward-looking statements,” generally preceded by words such as “plans,” “expects,” “believes,” “anticipates,” or “intends.” We cannot promise future returns. Our statements reflect our best judgment at the time they are issued, and we disclaim any obligation to update or alter forward-looking statements as the result of new information or future events. The Company urges investors to review the risks and uncertainties contained within its filings with the OTC Markets and/or Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Cancer News and Treatment

2010-12-22 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Tanning beds still draw fans despite skin cancer risk, new study finds

Are tanning beds still popular? Apparently so. A new study finds 18% of women and 6.5% of men in America say they use tanning beds, even though indoor tanning has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota based their findings on surveys of 2,869 white people between age 18 and 64 who were asked about their recent indoor tanning habits. In addition, the study says, most didn’t know that using tanning beds could increase their chances of getting skin cancer. Check out this abstract of the study published Monday in the Archives of Dermatology.

Warnings about indoor tanning are hardly news. This American Cancer Society report explains why tanning beds are linked to higher rates of melanoma.

And teens are particularly at risk. “Young people tend to think they’re not vulnerable to skin cancer,” dermatologist Hanspaul Makkar says in this Hartford Courant story. “Most of the damage that leads to skin cancer happens before the age of 18.”

How much exposure is too much? College students posing as teens set out to assess how well tanning businesses complied with laws and federal guidelines regarding exposure to UV radiation. This Los Angeles Times story reports on the findings.

Flexible Fitness: Exercise may decrease breast cancer risk

According the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in American women, affecting more than 250,000 women a year.

Multiple studies have examined what steps individuals can take to lower the risk of both diagnosis and recurrence. One common theme in these studies is exercise.

Numerous studies have found a link between exercise and decreased cancer recurrence and mortality. The main conclusion of these studies is that moderate intensity exercise lowers the risk of new cancer development, progression of current tumors and recurrence once in remission.

In fact, some studies have shown a decrease in recurrence of up to 30 to 40 percent for those who exercise moderately for three to four hours per week. Both moderate- and high-intensity exercise have been correlated with decreased breast cancer death, though high-intensity exercise does not confer the same preventive benefits as moderate exercise. It was also found that women with hormone-responsive tumors especially benefited from regular exercise, as exercise tends to lower estrogen levels in the body.

Why does exercise lower breast cancer risks? The answer to this question is not fully known, but two current hypotheses look at the body’s estrogen and insulin levels. Research has shown that obesity increases the risk for developing breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women. It is also known that obesity and weight gain increase the body’s estrogen levels after menopause.

Conversely, estrogen levels are lowered by physical activity and are further kept in check by reducing body fat, a byproduct of exercise. Therefore, one plausible answer to this question is that exercise and weight loss may have a protective effect by lowering a woman’s blood-estrogen level.

The second hypothesis centers around insulin levels, which are increased by obesity and weight gain. Some studies have suggested that an increase in circulating insulin may lead to decreased survival rates with breast cancer. Therefore, exercising moderately is an important step for women to take in order to reduce their cancer risk or decrease the risk of cancer recurrence.

This is also significant because weight and exercise are influencing factors that women can control, unlike other risk factors like the environment or genetics. Exercise guidelines include moderate exercise totaling three to four hours per week. The American Cancer Society recommends walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes daily, which would fulfill these guidelines.

Other forms of aerobic exercise are also acceptable, but moderate intensity appears to be an important factor. Housework and general occupational activity, on the other hand, have not been shown to confer protective benefits against cancer. It is suggested that these activities are not of sufficient intensity to confer protective benefits, unlike moderate recreational activities.

There can be some roadblocks to achieving these exercise goals –– chiefly the fatigue and de-conditioning that can result from cancer treatment. Lifestyle changes can also be difficult to make, and motivation level and depression can influence success.

If these are issues you are dealing with, find support from medical practitioners, friends or community groups to help you achieve your goals. Take your health into your own hands and strive for an active, healthy lifestyle while reducing your cancer risk.

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Diabetes Treatment and Prevention News

2010-12-21 / Diabetes / 0 Comments

How drinking milk could protect you from diabetes

Drinking milk may help prevent type 2 diabetes – the disease linked to obesity.

Contrary to the popular perception of dairy products as unhealthy, regular consumption could actually reduce the risk of developing the condition by up to 60 per cent, according to a study.

The ingredient responsible is trans-palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid found in the dairy fat of milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States say it can combat type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 2.3million Britons.

In the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than 3,700 participants were followed for 20 years by researchers.

They took measurements including blood glucose, insulin and levels of fatty acids.
They found that higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid were associated with healthier levels of blood cholesterol and insulin.

Overall, those with the highest levels of trans-palmitoleic acid had about a 60 per cent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Lead researcher Dariush Mozaffarian said: ‘The magnitude of this association is striking.

‘This represents an almost three-fold difference in risk of developing diabetes among individuals with the highest blood levels of this fatty acid.’

The study also appears to confirm previous research showing that a diet rich in dairy foods is linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes and related metabolic abnormalities.

A review of 324 studies of milk consumption and effects on health last year suggested the health benefits of milk outweigh any dangers that lie in its consumption, cutting deaths from common diseases by 15-20 per cent.

As little as one-third of a pint a day shows benefits in some studies while others involve regular consumption of almost a pint a day.

Dr Mozaffarian said: ‘There has been no clear biologic explanation for the lower risk of diabetes seen with higher dairy consumption in prior studies. This is the first time that the relationship of trans-palmitoleic acid with diabetes risk has been evaluated.

‘We wonder whether this naturally occurring trans fatty acid in dairy fats may partly mimic the normal biologic role of its cis counterpart, cis-palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid that is produced in the body.

‘In animal experiments, cis-palmitoleic acid protects against diabetes.’

Professor Gokhan Hotamisligil, senior author on the study, said this latest research had strong findings, but needed to be confirmed by a trial which set out to prove how it worked.

He said: ‘This is an extremely strong protective effect, stronger than other things we know can be beneficial against diabetes.

‘The next step is to move forward with an intervention trial to see if there is therapeutic value in people.’

Death Toll Estimate from French Diabetes Drug Climbs Over 2,000

The French Health Ministry has launched an investigation into the deaths of possibly more than 2,000 people who took the type 2 diabetes drug and appetite suppressant Mediator, and developed heart valve problems. When the French daily Le Figaro broke the story last month, 500 people were thought to have died. Mediator had been on the market since 1976, and was only pulled off in 2009. More than 5 million French people took the drug during that time. The privately-owned Servier, which makes it, is France’s second largest pharmaceutical company after Sanofi-aventis. It reported “consolidated” revenues of $5 billion in 2009-2010.

The case is reminiscent of GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia. This past September, the FDA significantly restricted its use and the European Medicines Agency suspended it altogether, after cardiologist Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic pointed the heightened risk of heart attack and stroke. From 1999 to 2009, more than 47,000 people on Avandia suffered heart attack, stroke, heart failure or death. The New York Times noted the often conflicting advice FDA staffers gave on its safety.

It is still unclear as to who knew what and when in Mediator’s case. But Le Figaro got hold of a letter which reveals that in 1998, three doctors with France’s Securite Sociale—which oversees health insurance, warned the French drug regulatory agency that Mediator could damage heart valves. Their warning was apparently ignored. They pointed that the medication was chemically similar to another Servier appetite suppressant that had been banned in 1997. Remember Fen Phen? In 1997, the FDA forced then American Home Products to withdraw its appetite suppressants Redux and Pondimin, after those drugs combined with another diet pill phentermine, cause heart valve lesions in overweight patients. Looks like those drugs might be related to Mediator, and if so, the health risks are well documented.

The French hope to find out what happened by January 15. Meanwhile Servier’s 88-year-old founder, Jacques Servier, told Le Monde that he is “shocked and stunned.” He would like to know “where these 500 dead people are”.

MOH clears way for pig cell diabetes research

Mon, 20 Dec 2010 6:37p.m.

By Rachel Morton

The Ministry of Health has cleared the way for more research to be done on how pig-cells affect type one diabetes sufferers.

Russia has just registered the New Zealand drug diabecell which was first tested on a patient here 14 years ago.

Researchers hope it won’t be long until it’s registered here too.

Fourteen years ago Michael Helyer put himself forward as a guinea pig for a treatment for type 1 diabetes; he was injected in the abdomen with pig cells.

Fourteen years on and he’s still experiencing the benefits.

The cells have mimicked his natural insulin production, meaning he doesn’t need to inject himself as often.

“This is a world first therapy and New Zealand is the first to have a product that has phased through trials and we’re certainly on the map around the world,” says Susanne Clay of Living Cell Technologies.

On the map because finally there have been two significant developments; the drug diabecell has been registered for use in Russia and the New Zealand phase of testing has progressed, the Ministry of Health has approved two more patients.

That means within a year the drug could be registered here too.

“The final trials that will allow us to apply for approval in New Zealand,” Susanne Clay says.

The drug is currently only being tested on people with unstable type 1 diabetes, meaning they have unexpected extreme highs and lows of blood sugar.

But if the drug successfully treats those patients, it could eventually become available for all sufferers of type 1 diabetes like Mr Helyer.

Mr Helyer says he is disappointed New Zealand wasn’t the first to register the drug, the testing was halted here for 10 years after fears pig viruses could be transmitted to people.

But Mr Helyer says the results speak for themselves and it will be a major medical breakthrough when diabecell is available for all type 1 diabetes sufferers here.

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Anxiety News and Treatment

2010-12-17 / Health News / 0 Comments

Anxiety increasing due to cancer treatment waiting times

Anxiety among patients who wait for treatment of cancer is on a rise as the Cancer Society says that waiting times for treatment are increasing that adds to their stress.

According to the society, more specialists are needed for treating patients at most cancer treatment centres but at the moment there are fewer specialists than is needed.

A complaint has been received by the Wellington region’s Capital and Coast District Health Board about patients waiting for seeing a medical oncologist.

There are no reports of people waiting to see a specialist and getting his appointment but there are reports of about 43 people considered semi-urgent being on the waiting list, and five being overdue for an appointment.

According to Fiona Pearson, the Cancer Society’s Wellington manager of support and information, due to the waiting time added to a patient’s list, he gets more stressed.

Pearson said, “I understands a number of specialists have retired or moved into the private sector in the past few years, which has left a gap in public health.”

According to a spokesman for Ryall, due to the lack of specific details, he was unable to say anything about the situation.

Brain Anomaly Leaves Woman Without Fear

THURSDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) — Researchers who have studied a woman with a missing amygdala — the part of the brain believed to generate fear — report that their findings may help improve treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders.

In perhaps the first human study confirming that the almond-shaped structure is crucial for triggering fear, researchers at the University of Iowa monitored a 44-year-old woman’s response to typically frightening stimuli such as snakes, spiders, horror films and a haunted house, and asked about traumatic experiences in her past.

The woman, identified as S.M., does not seem to fear a wide range of stimuli that would normally frighten most people. Scientists have been studying her for the past 20 years, and their prior research had already determined that the woman cannot recognize fear in others’ facial expressions.

S.M. suffers from an extremely rare disease that destroyed her amygdala. Future observations will determine if her condition affects anxiety levels for everyday stressors such as finance or health issues, said study author Justin Feinstein, a University of Iowa doctoral student studying clinical neuropsychology.

“Certainly, when it comes to fear, she’s missing it,” Feinstein said. “She’s so unique in her presentation.”

Researchers said the study, reported in the Dec. 16 issue of the journal Current Biology, could lead to new treatment strategies for PTSD and anxiety disorders. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, more than 7.7 million Americans are affected by the condition, and a 2008 analysis predicted that 300,000 soldiers returning from combat in the Middle East would experience PTSD.

“Because of her brain damage, [the patient] appears to be immune to PTSD,” Feinstein said, noting that she is otherwise cognitively typical and experiences other emotions such as happiness and sadness.

In addition to recording her responses to spiders, snakes and other scary stimuli, the researchers measured her experience of fear using many standardized questionnaires that probed various aspects of the emotion, such as fear of death or fear of public speaking. She also carried a computerized emotion diary for three months that randomly asked her to rate her fear level throughout the day.

Perhaps most notable, Feinstein said, are her many near-misses with peril because of her inability to avoid dangerous circumstances. In one case, when she was 30, she approached a drugged out-looking man late one night who pulled a knife and threatened to kill her.

Because of her complete absence of fear, the woman — who heard a choir singing in a nearby church — responded, “If you’re going to kill me, you’re going to have to go through my God’s angels first.” The man abruptly let her go.

The mother of three was also seen by her children approaching and picking up a large snake near their home with no seeming regard for its ability to harm her, Feinstein said.

“Its a perfect example of the sort of situation she gets herself in that anyone without brain damage would be able to avoid,” Feinstein said. “With her brain damage, she’s so trusting, so approachable to everything. In hindsight, [her response to the man with the knife] may have saved her life because the guy got freaked out.”

Alicia Izquierdo, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University in Los Angeles, said the study results add to existing evidence that the amygdala should be targeted in developing therapies for phobias, anxiety disorders and PTSD, “where too much fear is a bad thing.”

“In small doses, fear is a good thing — it keeps us alive,” Izquierdo said. “For many years, we have known from studies in rodents and monkeys that the amygdala is necessary for the normal expression of fear. Those who study the amygdala in animals are limited, however . . . and can only speculate about what this brain region does for the experience of fear.”

“This is one reason why the study . . . is so meaningful: We can now say that the amygdala is important for the expression and the subjective experience of fear,” she added.

Feinstein said PTSD treatment tactics targeting the amygdala would not involve surgically removing or altering it. Rather, it is thought that the amygdala’s hyperactive response in frightening situations can be modified over time through repetitively doing things a patient considers scary.

“This prolonged exposure therapy involves approaching the things causing them distress and fear the most,” Feinstein said. “We don’t ever want to surgically alter this area.”

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Pain Management News

2010-12-16 / Pain Management / 1 Comments

Boston Scientific takes pain management unit off the auction block

Boston Scientific Corp.’s neuromodulation business, in which Stryker Corp. was rumored to be interested, is reportedly no longer for sale.

Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE:BSX) is still stuck with its pain management business.

The Natick, Mass.-based medical device giant was rumored to be looking to offload its neuromodulation unit for about $1.5 billion over the summer, with Stryker Corp. (NYSE:SYK) said to be a leading suitor.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) also looked into buying the business, but not for much more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. Stryker reached “advanced talks” for a transaction in August, according to various news reports, but the companies reportedly couldn’t agree on the value of business.

Boston Scientific spent most of 2010 trying to drum up interest in its neuromodulation and neurovascular businesses. Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Stryker agreed to pay $1.5 billion in cash for the neurovascular unit on Oct. 28, surprising some analysts.

Cochlear developer’s new pain management breakthrough

by Gillian Samuel Monday 13 December 2010 10:55 am

Cochlear former chief technical officer Dr John Parker is leading development of a world-first smartchip to treat chronic pain.

NICTA, Australia’s ICT Research Centre of Excellence, is preparing to run medical trials on the miniature implant device in human patients next year.

The INS2, which stands for Implantable Neuro Sensing and Stimulation, comprises a smartchip embedded in a biocompatible device smaller than a match head, which is sewn into a 1.2mm wide lead made of polymer yarn integrated with electronic wires.

This is implanted in the spine or another suitable location and connected to a central battery-powered intelligent computer processor, around the size of a mobile phone SIM card, which is also implanted in the body. Previous designs involved cumbersome external components and leads.

The INS2 measures nerve impulses and uses electric pulses to block their signals to the brain. “There is real potential for this device to not only be used to treat things like chronic back pain, lower limb pain and pain from nerve damage, but also conditions like migraine headaches and even help ease Parkinson’s disease tremors or epileptic seizures,” Dr Parker said.

NICTA, which is funded by the NSW and Commonwealth governments, plans to manufacture the pain management technology through a commercial spin-out company, Saluda Medical.

Precision Pain & Rehab cuts ribbon

The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Precision Pain & Rehabilitation Specialists Dec. 2.

Members of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Meet & Greet Committee were present to help Precision Pain & Rehabilitation Specialists celebrate its new location in the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach resort area.

Located in the Summit Office Suites at 18958 Coastal Highway in Rehoboth, Precision Pain & Rehabilitation Specialists was opened by Dr. Jeffrey Conly. Conly specializes in pain management, and has special training in the use of x-ray guided injections, EMG/Nerve testing, medication management and rehabilitative techniques.

He is also one of the first physicians in the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach area trained in the use of spinal cord stimulation in the treatment of chronic pain.

Conly is fellowship trained and double-board certified in pain medicine as well as physical medicine and rehabilitation. Most forms of insurance are accepted and the office is currently accepting new patients.

For more information, or for an appointment, call 827-2323.

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Weight Loss News

2010-12-14 / Weight Loss & Obesity / 0 Comments

Taxing Sodas Won’t Spur Much Weight Loss, Study Says

MONDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) — Taxing sodas and other sweetened drinks would result in only minimal weight loss, although the revenues generated could be used to promote obesity control programs, new research suggests.

Adding to a spate of recent studies examining the impact of soda taxes on obesity, researchers from Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Graduate Medical School looked at the impact of 20 percent and 40 percent taxes on sales of carbonated and non-carbonated beverages, which also included sports and fruit drinks, among different income groups.

Because these taxes would simply cause many consumers to switch to other calorie-laden drinks, however, even a 40 percent tax would cut only 12.5 daily calories out of the average diet and result in a 1.3 pound weight loss per person per year, researchers said.

A 20 percent tax would equate to a daily 6.9 calorie intake reduction, adding up to no more than 0.7 pounds lost per person per year, according to the statistical model developed by the researchers.

“The taxes proposed as a remedy are largely on the grounds of preventing obesity, and we wanted to see if this would hold true,” said study author Eric Finkelstein, an associate professor of health services at Duke-NUS. “It’s certainly a salient issue. I assumed the effects would be modest in weight loss, and they were.”

“I believe that any single measure aimed at reducing weight is going [to be small],” Finkelstein added. “But combined with other measures, it’s going to add up. If higher taxes get people to lose weight, then good.”

As part of a growing movement to treat unhealthy foods as vices such as tobacco and liquor, several states in recent years have pushed to extend sales taxes to the purchase of soda and other sweetened beverages, which, like other groceries, are usually exempt from state sales taxes.

Other motions have seemed to target the poor, such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal earlier this year to ban sugared drinks from groceries that could be purchased by residents on food stamps.

Finkelstein’s study, reported online Dec. 13 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that high soda taxes wouldn’t impact weight among consumers in the highest and lowest income groups. Using in-home scanners that tracked households’ store-bought food and beverage purchases over the course of a year, the data included information on the cost and number of items purchased by brand and UPC code among different population groups.

Researchers estimated that a 20 percent soda tax would generate about $1.5 billion in annual revenue in the United States, while a 40 percent tax would generate about $2.5 billion. The average household cost would be $28.

Finkelstein explained that wealthier households seemed impervious to the tax because they can afford to pay it, while poorer income groups weren’t as affected because they tend to buy lower-priced generic products or buy in bulk.

“It’s largely very cheap calories for them,” he said, adding that store brands such as Wal-Mart cola also contain more calories than the name-brand Coke.

Dr. Stephen Cook, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), said the study is valuable because it echoes the results of others similar to it.

“It’s good to see an amount of replication in the findings,” said Cook, also an assistant professor of URMC’s Center for Community Health. “It brings up an important point of how we should address obesity, as a disease or a public health threat.”

Despite the modest weight loss resulting from the soda taxes, both Finkelstein and Cook support such a measure as one of many possible ways to attack obesity, which affects one-third of Americans.

As for the revenue generated, it can also tackle obesity if it’s funneled toward weight-control programs and not other government initiatives, Cook said.

“The other side of the taxing coin is what we do with the money,” Cook said. “We need to take the revenue and use it for interventional programs instead of it being used as a money grab. I think it’s good when it’s properly done and the money is used for those strategies.”

Cook added that future measures could include taxing foods with added sugars as well as lowering the prices of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and skim milk.

Imagining Eating Sweets Helps With Weight Loss

If you’re trying to lose weight, satisfying your sweet tooth — at least in your mind — could help.

Imagining that you’re eating a sugary snack or other specific food you love could actually help you stick to your diet and stop consuming the treat you’re picturing, say researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

The study, published in the journal Science, debunks the common wisdom that thinking about a particular food will fuel your craving for it even more and ultimately drive you to eat it.

“These findings suggest that trying to suppress one’s thoughts of desired foods in order to curb cravings for those foods is a fundamentally flawed strategy,” lead author Carey Morewedge, an assistant professor of social and decision sciences, said in a statement.

University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Dr. Christos Ballas said the research demonstrates the power of visualization.

“It is counterintuitive, but when you dig a little deeper, it does make sense,” he told AOL Health. “You have to imagine the process of eating M&Ms. It’s similar to other studies where people practice visualizing.”

One such study found that people who play violin and didn’t practice but did picture practicing were better off than those who didn’t visualize playing or practicing at all. Another study found that people suffering from psychological pain felt better after taking a Tylenol, according to Ballas.

“Your mind takes the word and whatever associations go with that word — i.e. pain — and puts them together,” he told AOL Health. “The mind makes unconscious associations.”

Morewedge’s team tested the impact of repeatedly picturing eating a certain food on the consumption of that food. They learned that imagining eating the food seemed to lower the person’s appetite for it.

“People who repeatedly imagined the consumption of a morsel of food — such as an M&M or cube of cheese — subsequently consumed less of that food than did people who imagined consuming the food a few times or performed a different but similarly engaging task,” he said.

The researchers did five experiments designed to gauge the link between thinking about eating something and actually eating it.

In the first, participants were asked to imagine doing 33 repetitive tasks one at a time. One group was told to picture putting 33 quarters into a washing machine, another imagined inserting 30 quarters into the machine and then eating 3 M&Ms and a third group pictured feeding 3 quarters into the machine and then eating 30 M&Ms.

After the mental imagery exercise, the subjects were given access to a bowl of M&Ms. Those who had pictured eating 30 of them ate significantly fewer than those in the other two groups who imagined eating only three or none at all.

Another variation of the same test was performed, with similar results. The other three experiments were designed to measure whether imagining eating the specific food — not just thinking a lot about the food or thinking about eating a different snack — was what caused people to subsequently consume less of it. The researchers found that it was only the act of picturing the consumption of a certain food that led to a reduction in the actual consumption of it.

“To some extent, merely imagining an experience is a substitute for actual experience,” another study author, assistant professor of marketing Joachim Vosgerau, said in a statement. “The difference between imagining and experiencing may be smaller than previously assumed.”

The research teams says it hopes the study will help in the creation of products that stop unhealthy cravings, like those for cigarettes, junk food or drugs.

“We think these findings will help develop future interventions to reduce cravings for things such as unhealthy food, drugs and cigarettes, and hope they will help us learn how to help people make healthier food choices,” said Morewedge.

Avoid Depression for Successful Weight Loss, Omega-3 Fats Can Help

Clinical depression rates are rising in America almost as quickly as the number of overweight and obese individuals. It makes sense that people who may be depressed are less likely to be concerned over weight issues as they become less involved with physical health issues and their external environment.

While researchers are unable to say whether depression leads to excess weight or if the extra pounds contribute as an underlying cause of depression, those individuals who fall into the obese classification (BMI above 30) are 50 to 150% more likely to suffer from depression than normal weight individuals. Clearly there is a close relationship between the physical and psychological manifestations that contribute to excess weight and clinical depression.

Depression Closely Linked to Body Weight
Depression is a devastating condition that can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of a person’s life. Depressed people are more likely to eat a poor diet of processed junk foods and become less physically active. The results of a study conducted at the University of Washington and reported in the journal General Hospital Psychology demonstrates that treating obese individuals for depression can have a significant impact on their weight loss efforts.

Study Confirms That Treating Depression Leads to Weight Loss
The study involved 203 obese women for a period of 12 months who had been diagnosed with clinical depression. All participants were placed on a reduced calorie diet and broken into 2 groups. Both groups were monitored for caloric intake with food questionnaires and physical activity. Half of the participants were also treated for their depression and their progress was marked using a traditional symptom checklist.

Women who demonstrated the most marked improvement of their depression symptoms were able to lose the most weight. Researchers found that 38% of the women who experienced improved mood lost 5% of their body weight, compared with only 21% in the non-treated group. The study found that depression is closely linked to decreased physical activity, and most of the weight loss was due to an increased level of exercise.

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