Acne Treatment News

2011-03-31 / Skin Care / 0 Comments

Largest Survey of its Kind Reveals the Truth About Negative Perceptions of Teenagers With Acne

Largest Survey of its Kind Reveals the Truth About Negative Perceptions of Teenagers With Acne PR Newswire HARROGATE, England, March 30, 2011 HARROGATE, England, March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The largest survey of its kind in the UK provides a valuable insight into just how teenagers and parents perceive teenagers with acne. The survey report publication coincides with the launch of a new website, which will provide invaluable support to acne sufferers and their families. The results of the survey confirm that teenagers with acne are consistently perceived very differently as compared to teenagers without acne. Respondents generally felt that teenagers with acne would be less sociable and less successful. Teenagers with acne suggested that they would offer a lot in return for not having acne; one in two teenagers would stay off facebook for a year if they could get rid of their acne forever! In addition, over a quarter of teens with acne would refuse to have their picture taken and a fifth have untagged photos of themselves on Facebook, while around 15% have airbrushed their image to make sure their acne isn’t visible in photos. “I would even take my mum as my date to the end of year school ball if it meant that my acne would be gone forever!” – Teenager. The survey also revealed that 70% of teenagers with acne have not sought medical advice, yet interestingly of the 30% who had sought medical advice, 91% noticed an improvement to their skin after using a prescription medicine. Results indicated: – That teenagers with acne are perceived less favourably than clear skin teens by both teens and adults and demonstrates how acne may impact tee’s’ opportunities for advancing socially and academically – That many parents appear to have misguided perceptions regarding the extent to which teens are affected by their acne – Living in the digital era of instant photography uploads and social networking could be making the issue of acne so much worse for today’s teenagers than previous generations – That the single biggest issue in the majority of teenagers’ lives is their appearance, well ahead of issues to do with their social life and education – A solid opinion amongst teenagers that their acne was not serious enough to warrant the doctors time – And finally, the panel was surprised that so few seek treatment when there are so many effective treatments for acne, especially given the risk of scarring in serious acne when left untreated “Acne affects almost 80% of adolescents and young adults aged 11 to 30 and can have a major impact on the lives of those affected. It is eminently treatable and I would positively encourage people to seek help from their GP. There is better use of existing treatments and new treatments coming onto the market all the time which work quickly to start clearing the spots associated with acne.” Dr Stephen Kownacki, GP Representative for the Acne Academy and Executive Chairman of the Primary Care Dermatology Society. Teenagers and young adults are the age group most commonly affected by acne and the effects of having acne can be very distressing, leaving a negative effect on people’s lives. Despite the high incidence of acne little research has been conducted to examine the perceptions of both teenagers and parents of teenagers with acne. “As Dermatologists we can control and manage acne effectively. Successful and early treatment will result in improved patient satisfaction, confidence and overall psychological wellbeing.” Dr Alison Layton, Consultant Dermatologist and Chair of the Acne Academy.

At Home Acne Treatment Ideas

Team up the healthiest natural ingredients with these easy-to-create recipes to enjoy the fabulous benefits of these at home acne treatment ideas. Pimples can damage our skin condition, therefore, it is highly recommended to treat them with the most efficient natural skin care remedies, as the ones presented below.

Fighting against the most severe skin problems can be pretty backbreaking, especially if you don’t have the secret weapons to defeat your enemies. Fortunately, the most skilled skin specialists came up with a complete list of inexpensive and efficient methods on how to prevent the appearance of zits. Moreover, you can use these soothing remedies also to get rid of pimples that ruin your flawless appearance. In order to guarantee the success of your complexion spa, it is essential to use only fresh and natural ingredients. Read through the following presentation of at home acne treatment ideas to see whether you have discovered the most simple and beneficial solutions to all your skin dilemmas.

Mint Wash

Use peppermint oil to create a fabulous wash for your damaged skin condition. Grab a medium bowl and mix ½ cup cool water with 1 tsp peppermint oil. Afterwards, add a few mint leaves to make the fusion even more soothing and healing. Cleanse your complexion, then dip a cotton ball into the lotion and apply it to the affected spots. Make sure you wipe your pimples with this mint wash, rather than rub it. Rubbing can do more harm than good to your sensitive skin.

Bean Tea

The name of this remedy might sound pretty strange, but in spite of this, you can create a soothing bean tea without any difficulties. All you have to do is take a medium bowl and boil a package of green beans. Leave it for 10 minutes and add some extra chamomile to it. Let the beans steep until the mixture cools. Put the lotion into a bottle and use it to wash your complexion with it at least three times per week. Use this revolutionary remedy to cure your skin from severe zits.

Olive Oil and Sugar

Use a soothing at home acne remedy to save time and money. In order to create this super-simple zit treatment mix 2 tsp of sugar with 4 drops of olive oil and a little water. Make sure you achieve the desired texture to be able to apply the mixture on your pimples. Thanks to the antibacterial quality of sugar, you’ll have the chance to get rid of zits after a few sessions. Use this healthy facial also to make blemishes disappear and restore the spotless condition of your complexion.

Rose Petals

Roses are not only lovely flowers but also some of the most efficient remedies against acne. Stop the severe acne breakouts by using this useful and simple home pimple treatment. Create a fine paste by crushing 6 rose petals. In order to achieve the ideal texture mix the paste with 1 tbs of honey, 1 tbs of natural yogurt and 2 tbs of rosewater. Mix all the ingredients and use a cotton swab to apply it on your complexion. Tackle the affected sections and make sure you leave on the facial for at least 15 minutes to have the desired results. Finally, wash the paste off with tepid water. Include this beauty ritual in your weekly skin care routine to make sure you have the best protection against pimples.

Fruit Paste

The miraculous combination of berries and citrus fruits can provide you with the secret remedy against acne breakouts. Create the perfect mixture to get rid of inflammation and the painful sensation given by whiteheads and severe zits. The first step towards creating the most soothing treatment for your complexion is to grab a bowl and mash one strawberry. Then add 1 tsp of lemon juice and half a tbs of honey. Mix all the crucial ingredients to get a fine paste you can easily apply on your skin. Use a cotton swab to place the facial on your pimples and on the affected areas and leave it on for 15 minutes. Finish up your skin spa by rinsing off the treatment with tepid water.

Clariant ~ Youth Concept Hair, Skin and Nail Solutions

MUTTENZ, Switzerland—Clariant launched Youth Concepts, its new concept of youth-focused guide recipes for personal care and decorative cosmetics formulators. Youth Concepts provides answers to major issues such as acne and dandruff treatment, sun protection, and the desire for balanced skin or vibrant makeup. The concept covers a broad range of ingredients suited to the sensitivity of young skin to ensure optimal mildness and hair- and skin-friendliness. In addition, the guide recipes embrace young people’s preference for healthier products with fewer preservatives and more natural ingredients that have less of an environmental impact.

Many of the ingredients fall within Clariant’s EcoTain range focusing on naturally derived and sustainable products. Many of the products are approved by ECOCERT®, e.g., its Velsan® SC preservative booster, based on natural raw materials; and Hostacerin® SFO, a co-emulsifier for achieving a healthy skin feel for day and under-eye creams, sunscreens, based on vegetable, renewable and GMO-free sources.

Clariant’s Youth Concepts are formulated for males and females within the 14 to 25 age group. The range includes:

Skin Care
Balanced skin: Hostapon® CT paste provides a mild, creamy, dense foam for facial cleansers, shampoos and shower products that resists hard water for effective dirt removal and pore cleansing. It is suitable for oily skin, preventing skin shine.
Natural and fresh skin feel: Hostapon SG is an amino acid surfactant for EO-free and sulfate-free rinse-off cosmetic formulations, such as facial cleansers, shampoos, shower gels and shaving preparations. Based on the natural occurring amino acid glycine, it creates rich and creamy foams with high rinseability. Lastly, it is free of preservatives.
Anti-acne: Octopirox® is a multi-functional active that provides high efficacy for acne treatment. It is active against bacteria, yeast and mold. After four weeks usage of an emulsion containing 0.3-percent Octopirox, the amount of free fatty acids that support acne growth in sebum was reduced by 40 to 45 percent, showing much lower activity of microorganisms. It has an excellent toxicological profile and is non-halogenated.
Sunscreen: Aristoflex® polymers are easy-to-process rheology modifiers and polymeric emulsifiers for sprayable lotions, gels, gel creams and creams. They have a fast breaking effect on skin that creates a non-sticky, light and silky skin feel for sunscreens, self-tanning and skin whitening formulations, as well as offering thickening and texture enhancement for decorative cosmetics.

Hair Care
Anti-dandruff: Octopirox is a mild anti-dandruff active ingredient for shampoos and leave-on hair treatments. It works on the actual cause of dandruff by curing microbial growth. It is not chlorinated and offers an excellent toxicological profile. Its solubility in surfactants makes it suitable for clear products with no need for additional stabilizers.
Smooth hair: Genamin® conditioners give volume and body to the hair combined with a natural feel.

Gloss/shine: SilCare Silicone WSI is an EO-free water-in-oil/water-in-silicone emulsifier that gives decorative cosmetics a brighter and shiny look by enhancing the shine of pigments. The glossy finish it creates can make eyes and lips look fresher and brighter. The emulsifier adds a smooth and silky feel to formulations and helps to reduce tackiness, resulting in easy spreading and application for all kinds of body lotions, sunscreens and skin care products.

Visually-appealing shower and bath products: Aristoflex TAC creates new sparkling optical effects and stabilizes air bubbles or particles in shower or bath products even at low concentrations. The suspending agent for surfactant systems forms clear and stable gels with a yield force over a wide pH range. It is EO-free and is especially suitable for combination with bio-polymers, creating economic and easy-to-preserve formulations with excellent rheology.

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ADHD News and Treatment

2011-03-30 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

More than five million American children and teens have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a condition that makes it difficult – if not impossible – to focus and complete tasks. When Katherine Ellison found herself yelling at her son constantly to shut up, she didn’t know that he had ADHD, nor that she had it too. Together, they embarked on a year-long quest to understand the disorder, investigating and trying different treatments. Ellison chronicled their experiences in a new book, Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention.

Buzz Ellison had many problems in elementary school. He could not sit still, and was constantly jumping up and down in class, not paying attention to his teachers, not focusing on the task at hand. As a result, his mother Katherine Ellison says, he was always in trouble.

“His attitude towards school really changed. I think he got bullied both by his peers and his teachers who insisted that he could do things that he really wasn’t capable of doing at that age and remembering things and they gave him a lot of negative feedback,” said Ellison.

Katherine Ellison, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, says she didn’t understand why he behaved like that, and admits, her behavior was also contributing to the situation.

“I was making things worse often by being anxious or being impatient or not understanding him. I realized at some point that I really hadn’t hugged him in a while. I wasn’t smiling when he came into the room because we were having such a hard time,” recalled Ellison.

Buzz was diagnosed with ADHD when he was nine. And, like many parents of children with ADHD, Ellison learned she had the disorder as well. She was in her late 40s.

“It was a great relief to actually get a diagnosis, because I had spent a lifetime really wondering what was going on and why I seem to be different from so many other people I knew,” Ellison noted. “I, like many people with ADD, had a rollercoaster of a life. For instance, I got sued for $11 million for a reporting error that I made in one of my first years as a newspaper reporter. And two years later, I won a Pulitzer Prize. So these are the kinds of things that often happen when you got this disorder; you’re capable of really amazing things and very humiliating, terrible things.”

Ellison and Buzz decided to work together to deal with their disorder and write a book about their experience.

“My son and I started out by writing a contract together, which was terrific because it changed the perspective from being a shameful problem that we had to a joint business project,” explained Ellison. “I also knew that he would cooperate with me. He wanted a percentage of the profits from the book. I was willing to do that because all of a sudden we’re partners rather than antagonists.”

Mother and son delved into the world of ADHD for a year, researching various remedies, specialists and alternative therapies for treatment.

“The two of us spent a lot of time going to neuro-feedback sessions, a process that’s a kind of bio-feedback for the brain where you’re actually conditioning your brain with the help of computers to slow down, become more calm and focused,” said Ellison. “We tried meditation. We both really focused on getting aerobic exercise and we got counseling. And all of these things helped.”

Ellison and Buzz also tried prescription drugs, which doctors often recommend to help youngsters cope with the symptoms of ADHD.

“I was completely against medication,” recalled Ellison. “I thought kids are being over-medicated, which they are, but it turns out that many kids are not getting the help they need. I want to really make clear that I don’t believe meds alone or meds for life are good strategies. And I think that it must be part of a more comprehensive approach.”

Although ADHD is an increasingly common diagnosis, there are many misconceptions about it.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is parents think that this is their fault,” said Peter Levine, a pediatrician in California, who specializes in treating children with ADHD. “Other parents will blame them for it because they see the way these kids acting and they will say, ‘What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you control your child?’ So parents will blame themselves. Another misconception is that the child really is not trying, because oftentimes these kids are trying harder than other kids to control their behaviors. That leads to a lot of frustrations.”

Levine says the first step in dealing with ADHD is getting the facts straight.

“In America, the diagnosis rate in children generally is quoted in the range of about 3 to 7 percent of children,” noted Levine. “It’s more common in boys, by about three to one. This is a highly inheritable disorder. They can’t get over ADHD. I mean it’s not something that you can make go away. As many as two-third of the children who have problems with ADHD will have difficulties as adults. You can’t cure it. You have to find ways of coping with it.”
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One of the most effective ways to do that, he says, is changing ones parenting style. That’s what Katherine Ellison did. She says she is now paying more attention to her son, spending more quality time with him, being less judgmental and giving him more positive feedback. And Buzz is responding with fewer outbursts at home and at school, more focus on doing his school work and a new interest in playing tennis.

Doping or Diet? ADHD Might Be Easily Conquered By Good Food

Along with autism, many people (experts and parents alike) think they know a thing or two about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Some will even insist that they know what causes it and how to cure ADHD, which is a developmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity and attentional problems that arise in young children, but can follow them throughout their adult life. But at this point, despite the myriad of theories that swirl around ADHD like a perturbed leaf pile on a blustery afternoon, everything is just conjecture.

However a new theory being floated about holds some true promise to coping and, possibly, dismantling the ADHD cycle. Over five million children ages four to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD (about ten percent of the children in the U.S.), so a viable solution to this vexing problem is welcome news, especially if the treatment is attainable for all. Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands, and lead author of a study on food and ADHD, holds true to the idea that ADHD is assuredly easy enough to regulate through a particular, but not unreasonable, diet. As reported in the British journal The Lancet this past February, it was discovered with a restricted diet alone, many children experienced a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms. Pelsser insists that 64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to food.

For those that are curious, the diet that Pelsser is advocating is hardly challenging or even expensive. The fairly strict diet utilized in the study consisted of water, rice, turkey, lamb, lettuce, carrots, pears and other hypoallergenic foods – all of which were free of additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. According to author Kristin Wartman, writing for the website Civil Eats, There are a multitude of credible scientific studies to indicate that diet plays a large role in the development of ADHD. One study found that the depletion of zinc and copper in children was more prevalent in children with ADHD. Another study found that one particular dye acts as a “central excitatory agent able to induce hyperkinetic behavior.” And yet another study suggests that the combination of various common food additives appears to have a neurotoxic effect—pointing to the important fact that while low levels of individual food additives may be regarded as safe for human consumption, we must also consider the combined effects of the vast array of food additives that are now prevalent in our food supply.

To be clear, Pelsser, and advocates of her findings, are not insisting that drugs like Ritalin, commonly used to treat ADHD, should be wholly dismissed in favor of a few turkey legs and a serving of salad. But modifying a child’s diet should be the first measure taken in dealing with an ADHD diagnosis or symptoms. Some children may not respond at all to the elimination diet, but according to this new data, many will.

Do you think it is enough to change up a child’s diet, eliminating questionable foods and introducing an array of whole foods, or do you think ADHD is a serious disorder that should only be dealt with using psychopharmacology? Is diet really the link to many developmental disorders, not just ADHD?
Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

Corpus Christi children at forefront of class-action lawsuit targeting foster care system

The state foster care system puts children in harm’s way, mismanages their health care and shuffles them from one location to the next, a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Corpus Christi says.

Two Corpus Christi children are at the forefront of the federal class-action lawsuit that asks for sweeping reforms of the state’s child welfare program, the Department of Family Protective Services. The case, M.D. vs. Perry, names Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Thomas Suehs, executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission; and Anne Heiligenstein, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services commissioner, as defendants.

In a prepared statement, Heiligenstein rejected the lawsuit’s claims of widespread problems and highlighted recent improvements the department has made, including $1 billion in additional funding during the last several years.

“We’re on the right path and will continue to do everything we can to protect Texas children, but I worry that a lawsuit like this will take critical time and resources away from the very children it presumes to help,” she said.

The Corpus Christi children’s stories, and those of seven other children the state shuffled between foster homes, health care facilities and case workers, were highlighted in the lawsuit filed by Children’s Rights, a national child advocacy group based in New York.

The situations described in the lawsuit paint a picture of a system that places children in inappropriate institutions, ignores their mental health needs, overmedicates them and doesn’t look for permanent homes.

“Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.

One Corpus Christi 14-year-old, identified as M.D., grew up in Corpus Christi and was first placed in state custody when she was 8 years old. The state first placed her in her aunt and uncle’s custody, but she was sexually assaulted by a cousin and removed from that home.

As a 10-year-old, she moved through three foster homes in six months and eventually moved to a treatment facility in Victoria, where she became suicidal. The state later moved her to another treatment center outside of Houston and then another center in Denton.

While there, M.D. walked to a nearby retail center and reported that she was raped. The suit claims M.D. wasn’t given counseling but instead was chastised for leaving the facility and sent to a juvenile detention center after a fight at the treatment center.

The girl now is at a therapeutic placement center in San Antonio where she is denied basic privileges.

“She has no visitors. She cannot have any toiletries.” the lawsuit says. “She is warehoused and alone.”

The lawsuit also details the life of a 16-year-old Corpus Christi boy identified as T.C., who has been in the state’s care for eight years. The state has moved T.C. through at least 20 homes and treatment centers, including one home where he stayed only seven days.

He stayed nearly a year at a treatment center in Victoria when he was 9 years old and was sent to seven different psychiatric and behavioral hospitals as far away as Waco and Tyler.

One treatment center where T.C. lived for a year had a history of licensing violations including accusations that staff members beat, chocked, cut and bruised children and children under its care attempted suicide. At one time, T.C. was sent to an adult jail for throwing a rock at an administration building.

T.C. now lives at a treatment center in Greenville, more than 450 miles away from Corpus Christi. Three of his brothers were adopted by a Corpus Christi family, but he has not been able to visit them, a problem the lawsuit says other children also have.

T.C.’s emotional and psychological health has deteriorated while in the state’s care, the lawsuit alleges, and the boy has been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and Asperger’s syndrome. More than once, T.C. has run away from a treatment center and tried to admit himself to a hospital.

The statement from Heiligenstein highlights changes the state department has made to address the problems.

The state recently reformed its system, increased its funding, decreased workers’ caseloads and is considering more reforms, Heiligenstein’s statement said.

Adoptions have increased by more than 50 percent in the last six years, and placements of foster children with relatives have increased by 38 percent. The use of psychotropic medications has decreased by 31 percent.

The Texas Legislature is considering a proposed redesign of the Texas foster care system. The proposal would provide homes for foster children closer to their communities, minimize the number of placements, keep brothers and sisters together, and provide financial incentives to reward high-quality foster care providers who move children to permanent homes more quickly, according to Heiligenstein’s statement.

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Quit Smoking Today

2011-03-26 / Health News / 0 Comments

SD Health Department’s quit smoking campaign adds online component

PIERRE, S.D. — The state Health Department is expanding a quit smoking campaign to include a web-based program.

The department said the online program offers information, motivational messages, step-by-step guides and support from others who have quit smoking.

A grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays for the expansion.

The Health Department offers other smoking cessation help through a phone-based service.

A 2008 survey found that 17.5 percent of South Dakotans smoke cigarettes.

“Quitting” video inspires Nunavut students

Students in Nunavut have chosen “Quitting,” a short video filmed by three Inuit youth, as the most powerful story about the challenges and benefits of quitting smoking.

The short video came in first among seven tobacco clips, shown during “the Smoke Stories: Quit Clips by Inuit Youth” video screening contest, organized by the Inuit Tobacco-free Network.

“Quitting,” filmed by three Inuit youth, Kendra Tagoona of Ottawa, Crystal Navratil of Inuvik and Nancy Etok of Kangiqsualujjuaq, includes personal interviews: Vicky Chevrier talks about her feelings when she first saw pictures of a smoker’s lungs; Jeannie Pascal talks about her friend who quit smoking after 46 years; and Mahtoonah Argna’naaq shares how proud she is that her boyfriend is trying to quit.

“It gets easier and easier,” says Chevrier in the vido. “I’m doing everything I possibly can.”

This video also includes black and white images of cigarette packages and vintage footage about the harms of tobacco use.

Thirty-eight classrooms from 12 Nunavut middle and high schools viewed various video clips filmed by Inuit youth for the Inuit Tobacco-free Network, run by the Ottawa-based Inuit Tuttarvingat health organization.

Students then voted for the video which they thought had a powerful enough message to be aired on television. Many held group discussions about issues such as tobacco use, quitting smoking and the effect of second-hand smoke.

Students finally selected “Quitting” as their favourite video clip.

“This contest gave youth a chance to watch people’s stories about their decision to start smoking, the physical and emotional effects of smoking, and what inspired them to quit,” said Dianne Kinnon, the director of Inuit Tuttarvingat, in a March 24 news release.

Classes which participated in the video screening contest could win either a $500 gift card for book purchases or a flip video camera for their class.

Innujaq School in Arctic Bay won the grand prize, a $750 gift certificate to purchase books or equipment.

The filmmakers of the winning video were also awarded prizes for their creativity, the news release said.

Quitting Smoking Before Surgery Not Risky, Study Finds

Doctors can safely recommend that patients quit smoking any time before surgery, according to a new study, Reuters reported March 17.

Past research had suggested that patients who quit smoking in the last few weeks before surgery suffered more post-surgical complications. As a result, some doctors recommend not quitting within eight weeks of a planned surgery.

The new study reviewed the results of nine different studies (and a total of nearly 900 patients) and found that in all of them, patients who quit smoking in the eight weeks before a planned surgery did not have more complications; and one study showed they had fewer complications. Patients who quit more than two months in advance of surgery also had fewer complications.

“It’s certainly better if [patients] quit earlier,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Peter Hajek, of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry in Britain. But quitting any time, he said, was still a good idea.

“Quit early if you can,” he said, “but if you can’t, quitting late is also alright.”

According to the study abstract, “further large studies would be useful to arrive at a more robust conclusion,” but there was no reason doctors should not tell their patients to quit smoking any time prior to surgery.

“We are pretty sure that until some new evidence of harm comes along…there is no sign of any danger,” said Hajek.

Dr. Philip Devereaux disagreed. “It’s not conclusively shown that it is safe to stop smoking prior to surgery,” he said.

Devereaux is a heart doctor and epidemiologist at McMaster University in Ontario who co-authored a comment on the study. He and a colleague wrote that the new analysis did not “definitively answer the question raised,” and that the “optimal timing of smoking cessation for patients seen close to their scheduled surgery awaits further research.”

Hajek and one of his co-authors indicated in disclosure statements appended to the research that they they have consulted with and received research funding from several makers of smoking cessation drugs.

The study, “Stopping Smoking Shortly Before Surgery and Postoperative Complications,” was published online March 14, 2011, in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Cancer Treatment Today

2011-03-25 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

GPs are blamed for cancer care referral lottery

Cancer patients face a lottery over how quickly their GP will send them to a specialist or whether they will be referred at all, a report warned yesterday.

It shows a 35-fold variation in referral rates nationwide, with some patients sent to hospital unnecessarily while others never get to see a consultant at all.

The study by The King’s Fund think-tank says most GPs refer patients within the two-week deadline for suspected cancer.

But it also found many late referrals, particularly for certain cancers.

One in three patients with stomach or oesophageal cancer requiring urgent investigation were given a non-urgent referral instead, delaying their treatment.

The report said: ‘An important component of cancer referral relates to the assessment of urgency, and there is growing evidence questioning GPs’ ability to do this accurately.’

Britain has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe, partly due to late diagnosis.

Evidence from cancer charities shows a quarter of cancer sufferers are being sent away by family doctors who dismiss their early warning signs as minor ailments. The King’s Fund report is based on the findings of an inquiry into general practice started by the think-tank in 2009.

An analysis of GP referral rates for suspected cancers from 51 practices in South London found wide variations. Referral rates for seeing a specialist within two weeks ranged from 0.7 to 25 per 1,000 patients, representing a 35-fold difference.

The percentage of diagnoses of cancer from these referrals also ranged from zero to 24 per cent.

The think-tank said that if the findings were replicated across England, practices that sent too many patients to see specialists – leading to a low rate of diagnosis because not many of them actually had the illness – risked creating anxiety and overburdening services.

On the other hand, GPs who did not refer enough suspected cases, which led to a high rate of diagnosis, could be leaving out patients with the disease who needed prompt specialist treatment.

Dr Laurence Buckman, of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee, said: ‘Given the increased intensity and complexity of general practice work, GPs need time off the treadmill so they can look critically at what they do and make improvements.

‘Reducing bureaucracy would help them, as would stopping the constant reorganisations within the NHS. Where GPs fall short, they need to be helped to see where they can make their service better and given the time, resources and staff support to do this.’

Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘Although general practice in this country remains the envy of the world, there is no room for complacency. Too many GPs remain unaware of significant variations in performance and do not give priority to improving quality.’

Health minister Lord Howe said: ‘We have a very strong system of general practice, but there is too much variation in quality.’

New brain cancer treatment closer to reality

Brain cancer often strikes suddenly, and it usually shows no mercy.

For people diagnosed with Glioblastoma, the odds are not good. Life expectancy for this deadliest form of brain cancer is about a year, but that might change if the Food and Drug Administration approves a new treatment.

It would be the first non-chemical treatment for brain cancer. That would mean no radiation and no chemotherapy. It’s undergoing clinical testing at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle.

Doctor John Henson says the treatment consists of bombarding the tumors with focused electricity. Patients wear hats with electrodes inside that have shown signs of preventing cancer cells from dividing.

“If we can inhibit cell division within the tumor, then that will cause the tumor to stop growing or perhaps even make it shrink,” he said.

Dellann Elliott went before a Food and Drug Administration panel last week asking that this new treatment be approved.

Glioblastoma took her husband Chris nine years ago, and she’s been fighting ever since for increased funding for research and new and better treatments.

“I feel like I just jumped across the Grand Canyon for brain tumor patients,” she said after that panel approved the treatment and sent it to the FDA for the final OK.

“There have only been three approved chemo’s in the last 35 years for brain cancer,” Elliott said. “When you look at that and see a new option that is completely safe and has a higher quality of life versus chemo, you know my message to the FDA panel was ‘Why would you not approve this?'”

Elliott said it doesn’t have the side effects and sickness associated with the current treatments for brain cancer. The only thing patients complain of, she said, is that their heads get warm.

Dr. Henson is excited to potentially have another option for treating patients because there are so few choices.

“After one episode of progressive disease, we run out of effective treatment options,” he said. “This is a completely new angle of attack, if you will, on the tumor.” It might make living with Glioblastoma manageable or even increase the odds or length of survival.

The FDA is expected to announce its decision on this new brain cancer treatment in a few months.

Jason Bargwanna hands drive to `inspiring’ Jason Richards

The Holden driver will take time out from cancer treatment to return to the track in an inspirational outing.

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Richards will drive Team BOC’s second car alongside Jason Bright after Jason Bargwanna agreed to step aside to give the sick Kiwi a spirit-lifting ride as he prepares to head to the United States for experimental medical treatment.

The V8 world is rallying behind the talented driver following the revelation that Richards is battling a rare form of stomach cancer.

Doctors have been unable to fight the tumour with chemotherapy and he will fly to Michigan in early April.

Richards last week won a development series race at Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 and says the return to racing was “like therapy”.

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“Team BOC’s cars have been doing extremely well recently so it’s hard to sit on the couch and watch,” Richards said.

“I can’t wait to get back racing with my team, who have been so supportive through everything, and having the test run in a Fujitsu V8 Supercar last week was a good indication that I am physically able to do it. Having said that, this is definitely not my comeback; it was a last-minute deal.

“Bargs has been very generous. I know very well how hard it is for a racecar driver to step away from a seat, and I’m grateful.” Bargwanna has been inspired by Richards’s battle and didn’t think twice about giving away the drive.

“I have taken inspiration from JR and his strength and character throughout these past few months,” Bargwanna said. “And if holding the stopwatch for the weekend at the AGP helps him in this battle then it’s a pleasure to do so.”

Breast Cancer Can Be Treated – Seek Early Medical Care

The World Health Organisation (WHO) research unit on cancer, GLOBOCAN, ranks Ghana as the 10th in Africa with the breast cancer burden.

In 2002, GLOBOCAN reported that the top 10 causes of cancer mortality in descending order in females in Ghana were cervix, breast, liver, haematopoietic organs, stomach, colorectal, ovary, bladder, pancreas and Kaposi sarcoma.

The word ‘cancer’ evokes desperation that stirs grief and pain; a scourge that strains intellectual, social and emotional resources.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that there are over 20 million people living with cancer in the world today, with the majority in the developing world.

According to medical experts, cancer, which is the term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and invade other tissues, is one of the killer diseases that afflict men and women.

Each cancer is thought to first start from one abnormal cell. What seems to happen is that certain vital genes which control how cells divide and multiply are damaged or altered. This makes the cell abnormal. If the abnormal cell survives, it may multiply “out of control” into a malignant tumour, which consists of cancer cells that have the ability to spread beyond the original area.

It is for this reason that the President of Breast Care International (BCI), Dr Beatrice Wiafe-Adae, has called for a concerted effort and intensive education to highlight the worldwide growing breast cancer crisis and its effect on women in particular.

She said it was necessary to demystify breast cancer to disabuse the minds of patients of the fear, misconception and myths surrounding the disease and encourage women to go for regular, medical examination of their breasts.

Dr Wiafe-Adae, who is a breast cancer specialist and surgeon in charge of the Peace and Love Hospitals at Kumasi and Accra, said the cause of the disease was unknown but women with breast cancer-positive family histories should have regular breast examinations and mammograms (breast x-ray), since they are at risk.

Just being a woman makes one at risk from breast cancer. Other risk factors are having a long menstrual cycle, women who never had children and women who have a history of lumps in their breasts.

However, being free from these factors does not mean a woman is free from getting breast cancer.

At the media launch of the Susan G. Komen Ghana Race Dr Wiafe-Addae said some myths about breast cancer in Ghana were that the disease was incurable and sometimes attributed to witchcraft, or the result of a curse in the family, and worst of all, disease sufferers face stigmatisation.

The Susan G. Komen Race for the cure series began 28 years ago in Dallas, Texas and is now recognised as the most successful campaign worldwide targeting the mobilisation and awareness of the general public with regard to breast cancer.

Since the first race that attracted 800 participants, it has now extended to annual races that attract more than 1.5 million participants and more than 100,000 volunteers.

The Ghanaian race for the cure of breast cancer, which will take place on June 25, African Union Day, is expected to attract between 5,000 and 10,000 young and old people who will walk to raise awareness for the cure of breast cancer.

It is widely known that breast cancer can be treated if reported early and doctors maintain that cancers need multi-disciplinary treatment and various specialists. However, if left untreated, it may spread and destroy surrounding tissues.

Given the complex nature of the disease, early detection of cancer is crucial for effective treatment and such detection is almost impossible without the requisite equipment and trained personnel.

Doctors contend that irrespective of the type of cancer a patient develops, he or she may need one of the following processes — surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy — and usually patients who have prostate and breast cancers undergo hormonal therapy.

Ghana received a boost to enhance the care and treatment of cancer cases in the country, when in April last year, the government secured a $13.5 million loan from the OPEC Fund and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa to upgrade and expand the radiotherapy centres at the Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching hospitals in Accra and Kumasi respectively.

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Anxiety Treatment News

2011-03-25 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

One in five delay dental treatment over cost

ONE of the region’s top dentists has been heavily involved in a major study of the nation’s teeth.

Professor Jimmy Steele, head of the Dental School at Newcastle University, said the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey had shown a “remarkable continued improvement” in the dental health of Britons.

But the survey also showed that one in five people in Britain are delaying vital dental treatment because of the cost.

The survey showed that just over a quarter (26 per cent) said that the type of dental treatment they opted to have had been influenced by the cost and almost one fifth (19 per cent) said they had delayed treatment for the same reason.

Other barriers to dental treatment included “extreme dental anxiety”, experienced by about 12 per cent of adults with teeth.

The survey showed that 92 per cent of adults who tried to make an NHS dental appointment were able to do so.

Professor Steele said: “Whilst more people than ever before are regularly visiting their dentist and British teeth are better than they ever have been, for some people visiting the dentist is still difficult for reasons of cost and particularly anxiety, more than one in 10 British adults are still classed as extremely anxious about attending the dentist and this can still be a major barrier to ensuring good teeth.”

He said there is an ideal opportunity for people to find out about dental health when Newcastle University hosts an open morning this Saturday March 26.

Free advice from some of the top experts in the country will be available, as will demonstrations of techniques and treatments.

The open day will take place at the Dental School on Framlington Place, Newcastle NE2.

The survey was commissioned by the NHS Information Centre and carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

Health Matters: Anxiety

Q I can’t put my finger on why but I’ve started to feel increasingly anxious about things in general, and in situations within which I shouldn’t really be under stress.
Sometimes just the thought of going out or doing something just a little out of the ordinary can spark it but I have also woken up feeling anxious, without any apparent reason for doing so. What could be causing this and how can I best deal with it?

A Anxiety is something that can affect us all at certain times – particularly if faced with a dangerous or seemingly threatening situation.

It affects different people in different ways and some are more prone than others to suffering.

Experiencing a certain level of anxiety is not a bad thing as it helps keep the brain alert and aware of signs of danger – that said, there is no reason for anybody to feel anxious all the time and it becomes a problem when it starts to impact on everyday life.

Symptoms of anxiety will include a constant feeling of worry, sweating, irritability, dizziness, lack of concentration, diarrhoea and sometimes muscle pain. Worrying about what the symptoms mean can often cause a sufferer to become even more anxious so it can be a vicious circle.

Various things are thought to contribute to the onset of anxiety.

Genes are thought to play a part and research has also suggested that it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain itself that will determine whether or not a person suffers symptoms of anxiety.

Other factors will include lifestyle – personal circumstances such as stressful times associated with moving house or the breakdown of a relationship – and also in very specific cases, addictions such as those to drugs or alcohol.

In most cases it is likely to be a combination of factors that leads to people suffering with anxiety and there are a number of simple lifestyle factors that may be worth looking at as a first step to dealing with this condition.

Firstly, don’t be afraid to speak to friends or colleagues if you are feeling anxious about a particular situation or task – it’s often subconsciously worrying about something that leads to anxious feelings, usually in the middle of the night when there’s nothing you can do.

Take time to relax and don’t feel guilty about it. Some people find meditation and exercise help. Yoga and Pilates can help both body and mind unwind but likewise, a good aerobic session can be a great stress buster.

A good diet is key to an overall healthy lifestyle and be mindful of the excessive consumption of things such as caffeine – not always a positive stimulant – and also alcohol.

Make an appointment with your GP as there are treatments available that will help you. These include psychological therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

CBT is one of the most effective types of treatment for severe anxiety and will involve working with a therapist to identify behavioural patterns and change those that are unhelpful. There are various medications available for the treatment of anxiety and if your symptoms necessitate this course of action, your GP will be able to advise.

You don’t have to be embarrassed about being anxious – it’s something that affects us all in different ways and at different times. The important thing is to try and address the symptoms and in doing so you will hopefully limit future episodes.

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Healthy Nutrition Today

2011-03-23 / Nutrition & Diets / 0 Comments

Eat Right Challenge on tap for March

The Webster County Health Unit encourages county residents to make healthy food choices during National Nutrition Month by issuing an Eat Right Challenge for the month of March.

“Science shows us that a healthy daily diet means eating a variety of colors of foods, choosing fruits and vegetables, and controlling portion sizes,” said administrator Jaci McReynolds.

The Eat Right Challenge offers daily suggestions throughout the month of March to help people take action to improve their eating habits. To compete in the challenge, county residents should visit the Health Unit’s website at to print out the calendar, or visit the Health Unit to pick up a copy; initial each day that they follow the suggested tip; and then turn the calendar in to the Health Unit by April 1 to be entered into a drawing for prizes.

“It’s our hope that by entering the challenge and following the daily tips for one month, our community members will develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime,” McReynolds said.

The prize drawing will be held April 1. Winners will be notified by phone. For more information on National Nutrition Month or Webster County’s Eat Right Challenge, call 417-859-2532.

7 Healthy Foods To Avoids…

Yep, you heard us. Now, of course, we don’t mean all healthy foods (as if we’d let you off the hook that easily). Instead, recent studies by food industry experts have targeted a few foods that, while they certainly have healthier reputations, are potentially hazardous because of the ways they are raised, grown and sold.

Below we’ve listed seven of the potentially worst offenders, as well as some healthier alternatives. (Feel free to begin the guillotine drum roll):

1. Canned Tomatoes

Fredrick Vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri, explained that the linings of the tin cans used for canned tomatoes contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a synthetic estrogen linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity – some of the very top health conditions plaguing black Americans.

“Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food,” says Vom Saal. “Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. You can get 50 mcg of BPA

per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young. I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

Easy alternative: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings). You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes at stores such as Trader Joe’s and Pomi. If your recipe allows, substitute bottled pasta sauce for canned tomatoes. Look for pasta sauces with low sodium and few added ingredients – adjust the recipe as needed.

2. Corn-Fed Beef

According to Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and farming author, cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The study also found that grass-fed beef is lower in inflammatory omega-6s and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

Easy alternative: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets and Whole Foods. Also, cuts on the bone are cheaper because processors charge extra for deboning. If you have any questions, just ask the butcher or store manager.

3. Microwave Popcorn

Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of any given microwave popcorn bag, have been connected to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA.

“In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular and pancreatic cancer,” said Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group Studies. “The microwaving process causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. They stay in your body for years and accumulate there.”

Researchers are currently worried that the PFOA levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

Easy alternative: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned, fun, dirt-cheap way: in a skillet or a pot on the stove. For flavorings, add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or even soup mix.

4. Nonorganic Potatoes

Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board Moyer and farm director of the Rodale Institute. “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They actually have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

Unfortunately, root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting.

Easy alternative: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh. And don’t worry – organic potatoes are only $1 to $2 a pound, pretty comparable to conventional spuds.

5. Farmed Salmon

When nature made salmon, she didn’t intend for them to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. Thanks to these unnatural conditions, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, and pesticides, such as dioxin and DDT.

“The most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus,” explains David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish. “Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks.”

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, there is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the very same drugs and chemicals.

Easy alternative: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon. Also, canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones

Nearly 95 percent of African Americans are lactose intolerant, so technically there aren’t too many of us consuming much milk or milk products anyway. But for that lingering five percent, as well as those that do still try to eat some dairy products despite the intolerance, there’s reason to be concerned. Most milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

“When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society. “As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. While there’s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

Easy alternative: Check labels for rBGH-free and/or rBST-free products that are produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. Also try Wal-Mart’s Great Value label, which does not use rBGH.

7. Conventional Apples

Sad but true: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually descended (or grafted) from a single tree so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. Because of this, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful, but many health experts disagree.

“It’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples,” said Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers, and increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides with Parkinson’s disease.”

Easy alternative: Buy organic apples. But if your wallet just can’t quite manage it, just be sure to not only wash them carefully, but peel them as well.

The Diabetes Diet: Take Back Your Health!

The sad truth about diabetes: According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, which is over 8% of the population. What about those who are prediabetic? A whopping 79 million people, and the numbers are on the rise, especially for the younger population. Complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, and even amputation.

The good news? You can virtually rid yourself of Type II Diabetes through diet and exercise – not a bunch of costly pills. Our bodies were not made for this sickness. We have done it to ourselves, via poor food choices and inactivity. According to the Diabetes Prevention Program, even a small amount of weight loss – 5% to 7% of your body weight coupled with only 150 minutes a week of physical activity can help slow the progression of developing diabetes or even prevent it entirely.

So, first things first. Ask yourself these questions.

1. Am I willing to make a permanent lifestyle change?
2. Am I willing to exercise and make an honest effort with my diet?
3. Am I willing to not fall prey to the diet mentality and eat fresh, whole foods – and give my body the actual nutrients it needs?
4. Do I have a support group?
5. Am I able to take it a single day at a time and not get discouraged?
6. Will I make small changes, instead of overwhelming myself with trying to change my whole life?

If you are ready to tackle your eating, you can talk to a dietitian about your own personal goals. However, eating healthy is really just common sense, and by taking a sensible approach, you can achieve success without shelling out a lot of money or time.

Make sure to get the following:

Healthy carbs: Carbs are not “bad.” Just look for the healthiest sources, found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and lower fat dairy products.
Fiber-rich foods: Dietary fiber includes plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Foods high in fiber include veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, and wheat brain.
Heart-healthy fats: Look for oils, such as hemp, flax, olive or canola, as well as seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, etc.) and nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc). These healthy fats can help lower your cholesterol level. Heart-healthy fish, like salmon, cod, tuna, mackerel and herring, can be incorporated a couple times per week as well.

Foods to Avoid:

Saturated fats: High fat dairy products and animal proteins, such as beef, hot dogs, sausage, bacon and cheese contain saturated fats.
Trans fats: Trans fats can be found in processed foods, baked goods, shortening, margarine and certain oils.
Cholesterol: High-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins contain cholesterol.
Sodium: Aim for less than 2,000 mg of sodium per day.

Rules to Live By:

Aim for a healthy mix of whole foods daily. If you get the majority of your calories from healthy grains, nuts, seeds, beans and produce, you don’t have to count calories, and you can eat healthy amounts that will keep you satisfied all day long. Make sure you are eating at stable intervals throughout the day. (Don’t skip breakfast and lunch and then gorge on dinner, which wreaks havoc on your body. Instead, have 5 healthy meals per day.)

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Depression Treatment News

2011-03-22 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Controversial Shock Therapy Works for Depression

Natasha Tracy and the Bipolar Burble welcome Steven Schwartz, the BiPolar Badger as a guest blogger this week. Steven will be speaking from the point of view of someone who has chosen to get electroconvulsive therapy treatments and is in the middle of his current series of electroconvulsive therapy treatments.
Electroconvulsive Therapy Primer

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the second most controversial medical procedure. (Abortion is the first.) Certainly when I write about ECT it seems to prove the controversy of this topic. And it doesn’t matter what I say about ECT, even if it’s not pro or con, people insist on expressing very strong viewpoints on the use of ECT.

And generally the strong viewpoints are anti-ECT. They are from the ECT-is-torture crowd. A prevalent crowd online, to be sure, but someone needs to actually talk about the facts of ECT.
ECT Saves Lives

ECT saves people absolutely nothing else can. And if you have ever looked down the long, dark, hallway of treatment only to see a black hole, you would know how essential it is to have it as an option.

I know people don’t want to hear this, but ECT saves lives. ECT brings people out of the deepest, darkest depressions that no medication can touch. ECT saves people who are suicidal. ECT saves people who are determined to kill themselves while in the hospital.

It is critical this be an option, no matter how untenable it may be.
ECT Kills Brain Cells

That being said, electroconvulsive therapy induces a clonic seizure in the brain. You won’t feel it, you’ll be under anesthesia and other medications, but the whole point of treatment is to produce a seizure. And seizures cause brain damage. A friend of mine who’s epileptic will tell you how that goes. He spends an awful lot of time trying to prevent brain-damaging seizures.

ECT can cause memory loss and cognitive deficit. Mind you, there’s not a lot of science to back that up the kind of dramatic stories typically touted online.

ECT Can Offer Hope. ECT Can Cause Problems.

In the end, ECT is a gamble. You are doing something unpredictable to your brain. Bad things could happen. Very bad things, in fact. But nasty treatments for severe, intractable depressions are like that. If depression could be cured with lollipops it wouldn’t be a problem, but to the best of my knowledge, lollipops don’t have a very high success rate.
Modern ECT is Safe and Effective

There is no point in comparing modern ECT with ECT from 30 years ago. Everything has changed.

Which is to say modern ECT is safer and more effective than ever before (safety and efficacy are relative). Every year we learn more about the brain and how to target specific areas for treatment. It is now common to see ultra-brief-pulse unilateral ECT rather than bilateral ECT. This means the current runs through a small portion of your brain comparatively. Still a gamble, no doubt, but we’re getting better.
Anti-Psychiatry and Anti-ECT People Are Vocal

I have no doubt ECT has gone very wrong for some people. I have no doubt it has been terrible. It may very well be the case ECT has caused long-term problems. But this small handful of people are the ones filling up all the space on the internet. One person’s experience, good or bad, cannot be the basis for the opinion of a treatment in general. Chemotherapy and radiation kill people. But people do it because they are facing a horrible disease. Just like those who choose ECT.
People Who Have Received ECT Are Ashamed

People who have received ECT are scared to say so.

People who have had electroconvulsive therapy are scared of being judged. They are scared of all the vocal people mentioned above. They are scared of all the people who think something brutal, inhumane and akin to rape saved their lives. I don’t blame them for being scared. Standing up to loud opponents about such a delicate and fragile subject is tough. People have enough problems.
People Shouldn’t Be Ashamed of ECT

But of course people shouldn’t be afraid of admitting they had ECT. They shouldn’t feel bad about a treatment that did (or didn’t, for that matter) help them.

There are people with positive experiences with ECT even if they aren’t shouting it from the rooftops.
Guest Blogger: Steven Schwartz, the BiPolar Badger

Which brings me to next week’s guest author: Steven Schwartz – the BiPolar Badger. Steve is in the middle of a series of six ECT treatments and he’ll be writing about his experiences thus far. Steve has had ECT in the past, has found it effective, and has chosen to do it again.

More on the BiPolar Badger:

Steven Schwartz is a former journalist living with BiPolar disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Writing about his personal experiences of life with Mental Illness to reduce its stigma, shame and misconceptions. Steven writes in a open, frank, humorous and sometimes brutally honest style as a way of showing the human side of living with Mental Illness.

I hope you’ll all join me in reading his guest post this week, for a view within shock therapy.

Online Messaging Provides Effective Follow-Up Care For Depression

Online messaging has been shown to be effective in providing follow-up care to patients suffering from depression, U.S. researchers say.

UPI reports that follow-up online messaging by trained nurses resulted in less depression among patients being treated for depression.

Dr. Gregory E. Simon, a Group Health psychiatrist and Group Health Research Institute senior investigator, says the study involved a randomized controlled trial of 208 Group Health patients.

Half had three online care contacts with a trained psychiatric nurse, and were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, take their antidepressant medication as prescribed and be more satisfied with their treatment for depression.

The patients in the trial were starting antidepressant medication prescribed by their primary care providers.
“While more Americans are taking antidepressants, the quality of care for depression remains among the lowest scores on the U.S. health care report card,” Simon said in a statement.

Online Messaging Provides Effective Follow-Up Care For Depression

“Especially in primary care, where most treatment for depression starts, not enough patients receive follow-up contact or take their antidepressant medication as prescribed.”

In previous studies, Simon and colleagues delivered organized care for depression via telephone calls.

Organized depression care includes systematic contact with patients, assessment of their depression and whether they are taking their antidepressant medication as prescribed, and guidelines for evidence-based care.

One such guideline is suggesting that the primary care provider change the dose, or add or switch to another medication, if depression or side effects bother a patient after a standard trial period.

For each phone contact with a patient, clinicians wasted a half hour playing “phone tag,” Simon said.

According to the authors, unlike phone calls, online messages require no simultaneous live contact, so they may boost the convenience and affordability of follow-up care.

Simon and colleagues found that secure, asynchronous messages within Group Health’s existing EMR can improve care of chronic conditions, and that patients being treated for depression are particularly likely to use online communication with their healthcare providers.

“We worried that patients might need live voice contact in real time to be understood and feel supported,” the researchers concluded.

“But this online care management helped these patients, even though they never met the trained psychiatric nurse in person or talked with her on the phone.”

The findings are published online ahead of print in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Elderly Depression – Key To Treating Depression Among The Elderly Disclosed

The numbers are, well, depressing: More than 2 million people age 65 and older suffer from depression, including 50 percent of those living in nursing homes. The suicide rate among white men over 85 is the highest in the country — six times the national rate.

And we’re not getting any younger. In the next 35 years, the number of Americans over 65 will double and the number of those over 85 will triple.

So the question becomes, how to help elderly depressed individuals?

Researchers at UCLA turned to a gentle, Westernized version of tai chi chih, a 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art. When they combined a weekly tai chi exercise class with a standard depression treatment for a group of depressed elderly adults, they found greater improvement in the level of depression — along with improved quality of life, better memory and cognition, and more overall energy — than among a different group in which the standard treatment was paired with a weekly health education class.

The results of the study appear in the current online edition of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

“This is the first study to demonstrate the benefits of tai chi in the management of late-life depression, and we were encouraged by the results,” said first author Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a UCLA professor-in-residence of psychiatry. “We know that nearly two-thirds of elderly patients who seek treatment for their depression fail to achieve relief with a prescribed medication.”

In the study, 112 adults age 60 or older with major depression were treated with the drug escitalopram, a standard antidepressant, for approximately four weeks. From among those participants, 73 who showed only partial improvement continued to receive the medication daily but were also randomly assigned to 10 weeks of either a tai chi class for two hours per week or a health education class for two hours per week.

All the participants were evaluated for their levels of depression, anxiety, resilience, health-related quality of life, cognition and immune system inflammation at the beginning of the study and again four months later.

The level of depression among each participant was assessed using a common diagnostic tool known as the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, which involves interviewing the individual. The questions are designed to gauge the severity of depression. A cut-off score of 10/11 is generally regarded as appropriate for the diagnosis of depression.

The researchers found that among the tai chi participants, 94 percent achieved a score of less than 10, with 65 percent achieving remission (a score of 6 or less). By comparison, among participants who received health education, 77 percent achieved scores of 10 or less, with 51 percent achieving remission.

While both groups showed improvement in the severity of depression, said Lavretsky, who directs UCLA’s Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program, greater reductions were seen among those taking escitalopram and participating in tai chi, a form of exercise that is gentle enough for the elderly.

“Depression can lead to serious consequences, including greater morbidity, disability, mortality and increased cost of care,” Lavretsky said. “This study shows that adding a mind-body exercise like tai chi that is widely available in the community can improve the outcomes of treating depression in older adults, who may also have other, co-existing medical conditions, or cognitive impairment.

“With tai chi,” she said, “we may be able to treat these conditions without exposing them to additional medications.”

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Weight Loss Today

2011-03-20 / Weight Loss & Obesity / 0 Comments

Dukan Diet: Newest Fad or Weight-Loss Answer?

It’s supposed to be the French version of the Atkins Diet and it’s making big waves – both in Europe and now in America, but one New York City-based dietitian said the Dukan Diet can be a dangerous choice – despite the fact that princess-to-be Kate Middleton and her mother are allegedly using the diet to shed pounds before Middleton’s big day.

“The Dukan Diet is not based on any scientific data, and seems to be a modified version of the Atkins Diet,” Tanya Zuckerbort, a Fox News contributor said.” This diet is protein-centric and highly restrictive in the initial stages, without much research to back it up.”

The Dukan Diet has been popular in France for years, and now Dr. Pierre Dukan is bringing his weight-loss plan overseas to North America. It consists of high-protein, low-fat meals—which is nothing new—but adds very large amounts of water and oat bran. The diet is cut into week-long cycles with some including vegetables. There is no fruit allowed, but wine and dessert are allowed for a certain number of days—thus appealing to the French.

And what about exercise? The requirement is very light, about 20 minutes a day, with no elevators allowed.

Zuckerbrot was concerned about the restrictions on fruits and vegetables in the plan.

“A diet consisting of high fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and a small amount of heart healthy fat is the key to looking and feeling your best,” she said.

Dukan’s book has already sold millions of copies worldwide and has been translated into 14 languages—but is it all just hype?

According to Zuckerbrot, the Dukan Diet already has a bad reputation in the world of dietitians.

“France’s National Agency for Food, Environmental and Work Health Safety pointed out the Dukan Diet as one of 15 imbalanced and potentially risky diets. The British Dietetic Association, has also listed the Dukan Diet as one of the five worst diets of 2011,” she said.

By eliminating key foods from your diet, Zuckerbrot said Dukan’s plan can create a nutrition deficiency as well as high cholesterol and even kidney problems.

The bottom line with this diet, is it will more than likely come and go with the rest — there is just not enough variety, Zuckerbrot added.

“You will initially see weight loss on the Dukan Diet, but this eating plan is not sustainable. Also a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates is expensive. This diet is just that, a diet, not a healthy maintainable lifestyle,” she said.

HCG is High Markup, Fast Selling Weight Loss Supplement

Back in the 1950s, one of the trendy activities for overweight and wealthy Americans was to travel to Europe for special, “HCG Drops,” unavailable in the states. Times have changed, and now these same drops are available for general consumption for anyone looking to shake off a few pounds. A great source of HCG for independent retailers is “I did the six week program myself and lost 30 pounds, as well as 16” total around my body,” says Debbie Burks, owner of Buywise. “The program really does work. This past holiday season was the first one for me where I not only didn’t gain weight, but actually lost weight instead.”

HCG is an all natural and homeopathic product that works in conjunction with the body’s hypothalamus gland. “You use it along with following a strict protocol and diet,” Burks says. “You take it three times a day, 10 drops at a time, and there are many doses in a bottle. Depending on how much weight you want to lose, you can do a three or six week program,” she adds.

Burks has studied up on the product, and is very knowledgeable on exactly how it works. “The body consists of three types of fat,” she says. “Structural fat, around your face and cheekbones; reserve fat, which is what the body normally draws from when it needs to, and abnormal fat. If you do a low-calorie diet without the drops, you’ll be affecting your regular fat,” Burks says. “Yet with the HCG drops, it actually works with the abnormal body fat, and because you’re on a low calorie diet, your body will draw what it needs from your abnormal stored fat. That’s where the weight loss comes in.”

Because of its high success rate among users, HCG is selling well, with a high markup for retailers. Buywise wholesales a starter pack of twelve, two oz. bottles for $192, or $16 each, and Burks has seen them advertised in a national vitamin chain store for $159.98 for the two oz. size. “I recommend keeping one bottle at the register to generate POS interest,” Burks says. “We have brochures we can email to our customers. Once they buy HCG, we also have an ebook that we can send, so retailers can read about the product and then pass that knowledge on to customers.” Buywise has a $100 minimum order. However, new customers receive a 10 percent discount off any order over $100. “This is a product that’s going to be a fast seller with a big markup, and it really works,” Burks says. “I’m living proof of that.”

FDA loosens belt on weight loss surgery

REGION — Three and a half years ago, Mike Ross was headed for an early grave.

He weighed 405 pounds, led a sedentary lifestyle, and suffered from sleep apnea, high blood pressure and other health issues.

“I was in pretty rough shape,” Ross, a Norwalk resident, recalled. “I was told more or less by my doctor that I needed to do something, and do something soon.”

So Ross did do something.

He consulted with Dr. Neil Floch, owner of Fairfield County Bariatrics & Surgical Specialists, P.C. in Norwalk, and in October 2007, underwent laparoscopic surgery and had an adjustable gastric band– or LAP-BAND — inserted on his stomach.

Within 13 months, Ross had shed most of the 227 pounds he would ultimately lose. He now regularly visits the gym, is conscience of what he eats and has cured the conditions that once ailed him.

“I feel like I did when I was in my mid-20s,” Ross said. “The surgery really made a big difference in my life, and I recommend it to anyone that’s even considering it.

“It’s life changing,” he said, “and I think it’s something a lot of people can benefit from.”

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the use of the LAP-BAND system to 27 million obese American adults who have failed more conservative weight loss alternatives.

Adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 30 and 40 who have at least one related comorbid condition, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension or sleep apnea, are now eligible for the LAP-BAND system, created by the California-based health care company Allergan, Inc.

According to Floch, director of minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at Norwalk Hospital, the FDA’s decision to loosen the restrictions on the LAP-BAND system adds a new category of patients, specifically those with lower BMIs, but who suffer from a major medical problem.

“It’s really a great help to a lot of people,” Floch said of the surgery. “We know that only 5 percent of patients who are 80 pounds overweight will be able to lose that weight and keep it off, and long-term diets only work maybe 15 percent of the time.”

The approval to expand the use of LAP-BAND is based on a five-year study of 149 patients to determine the safety and effectiveness of the system as a treatment for obesity in adult patients with a BMI of less than 30 and greater than 40, with and without comorbid conditions.

Floch, whose practice participated in the clinical trial, said the study found that patients with lower BMIs did just as well, if not better, than heavier patients.

“There’s no magic about this,” he said. “This is a device to limit how much and how quickly you eat, and it also helps to take away some of your hunger.”

Laparoscopic gastric banding is the second most common weight loss surgery, after gastric bypass. With gastric banding, an adjustable silicone band is placed around the top portion of the stomach.

Squeezed by the silicone band, the stomach becomes a pouch with about an inch-wide outlet. After banding, the stomach can only hold about an ounce of food.

On average, patients who have undergone gastric banding lose about 60 percent of excess body weight, so a person who is 100 pounds overweight can expect to lose 60 pounds, Floch said.

Gastric banding is considered the least invasive and safest weight loss surgery, he said. The procedure can be reversed if complications occur.

Roberta Burn of New Canaan said she experienced complications, such as vomiting and internal bleeding, after having LAP-BAND surgery in 2006.

She lost 115 pounds after the surgery, but regained 50 pounds after the band was removed. She later had gastric bypass surgery and has since lost the weight she put back on.

And although Burn’s complications with the band forced her to undergo multiple surgeries, she still recommends it for people struggling with obesity.

“It did good things for me,” she said. “Only 10 percent of people have compilations and have to have it taken out. It doesn’t seem like a significant amount of people.”

Floch said the majority of people who struggle with gastric banding surgery are heavier patients with addictive eating habits.

Patricia Grissom of Southington identifies herself as a “depressed eater.”

She tried multiple diets with minimal success, which along with the embarrassment of being overweight, made her depressed.

“I would sit and eat for no reason,” she said. “I didn’t know how to stop myself.”

Grissom said she chose to have gastric banding surgery last year because she knew the surgery would force her to change her eating habits.

And it worked.

Instead of sweets and chocolate, Grissom now craves the taste of fruits and vegetables. Bread and red meat are difficult to digest, so she steers clear of those, as well.

“It’s a whole lifestyle change,” she said. “It’s not a quick fix. You can’t rely on the surgeon to do everything for you. He gets you started and you have to be accountable for yourself and what you do.”

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Skin Care Today

2011-03-19 / Skin Care / 0 Comments

Professional Skin Care Market Rebounds in Europe and the United States in 2010, According to Latest Kline Research

A rise in visits to professional outlets for skin care treatments in 2010 gave way to sales growth for the global professional skin care products market. While Japan remained flat with 0.1% growth, Europe recovered in 2010, posting a 3.0% increase following a 3.3% decline in 2009, and sales in the United States increased by 2.7% in 2010, according to the recently released study Professional Skin Care 2010 Global Series: Market Analysis and Opportunities by worldwide consulting and research firm Kline & Company.

Most of the leading professional skin care companies enjoyed respectable sales gains in 2010. Brands from the medical care providers channel reaped the strongest growth, with SkinMedica and SkinCeuticals posting double-digit gains. Market leader Obagi, entrenched in the medical care providers segment, maintained its leading position in the U.S. market, experiencing a 13% sales gain for the year.

In the highly fragmented markets of Europe and Japan, Guinot was the leading brand in 2010. While some brands are well established in a single professional channel, such as Sothys and SkinMedica, an increasing number of professional skin care brands adopt multi-channel strategies.

Spas and salons remains the largest purchase channel in the United States, but market share for the channel continues to decline due to stiff competition from other channels and the general market for facial treatment products. Beauty institutes are the leaders in both Europe with 59% and Japan with nearly 68% of market share. Spurred by customers’ trust in doctor’s knowledge in managing various types of skin problems, the medical care providers channel has grown the most in 2010 across all regions.

A number of professional outlets are now offering non invasive alternatives to invasive cosmetic procedures. Marketers also want to appeal to a wider group of consumers, such as teenagers, mature clients, pregnant women, and men, by expanding their portfolio with specifically targeted product lines.

“Looking ahead, there are several areas that marketers should take into consideration for future planning,” suggests Karen Doskow, Industry Manager at Kline’s Consumer Products Practice. “They should be working closely with accounts to help them adapt to the new consumer demand and stock the products that will cover the most prevalent of skin care concerns.” Introducing smaller sizes of products for retail to appeal to a more frugal consumer would be another strategy to consider, Karen points out.

As predicted with Kline’s FutureView forecasting model, the industry experienced a slight but recognizable growth in 2010. Over the next five years the market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 4.2% in Europe, 6.7% in the United States, and 2.6% in Japan.

Professional Skin Care China will be released in May 2011.

Shiseido promises brighter skin

The latest range of products from Shiseido are claimed to give women brighter skin and protection against ultraviolet rays.

THE perception of beauty differs from one culture to another. For the Japanese, it is flawless, snow-white skin or bihaku, as they believe in the proverb that goes, “A woman’s light skin causes one to overlook the absence of other desired physical features”.

Japanese skincare brand Shiseido believes in this idea. Recently, the brand invited a platoon of journalists from Asia to snowy Sapporo for a preview of its new products containing the brightening agent m-Tranexamic Acid, which is said to inhibit melanin production. Combined with other potent ingredients, the new White Lucent products are claimed to be able to give women brighter skin as well as powerful protection against ultraviolet rays.

One of Shiseido’s ‘whitening ambassadors’ Choi Ji Woo for South Korea.

We headed for Moerenuma Park on the outskirts of Sapporo for a seminar on the harmful effects of UV rays and Shiseido’s new products. The former 189ha landfill was transformed by landscape sculptor Isamu Noguchi. It was his last work before he died in 1988. The park took 17 years to complete and was opened to the public in 2005.

The park is said to reach its “peak radiance” in winter. Indeed, we were gob-smacked at the radiance of the Glass Pyramid – the nucleus of the park – bathed in sunlight and surrounded by dunes of snow, where the preview was being held. Cameras clicked furiously as we alighted the buses. The scene clearly reflected Shiseido’s message about women being able to attain lucent skin through their products.

At a dusk cocktail party held in the atrium of the pyramid later, the “whitening ambassadors” for the various markets were introduced – actresses Chiaki Kuriyama (from the movie Kill Bill, global), Choi Ji Woo (Winter Sonata, for South Korea) and Fala Chen (Moonlight Resonance, for Hong Kong). These lovely women affirmed that a daily skincare regimen has helped make a difference and improved their complexions.

“Consistency is very important,” said Chen. “You have to use the right products for a period of time and really stick to it.”

Choi added: “Eating food that’s good for your body is important, too. I drink plenty of water and regularly consume vitamin C.”

Brightening effect

In the past, harmful ingredients such as lead and mercury were used to achieve the bleached look. Today, thanks to scientific R&D and a better understanding of the dangers of UV radiation, efficacious ingredients have been discovered and are used in skin brightening products.

The star ingredient in the Shiseido White Lucent Serum, the brightening agent m-Tranexamic Acid, can now be found in the new SWL Brightening Spot-Control Foundation SPF25 PA+++), Spot-Control Base UV SPF35 PA+++ and Skincare Powder (not sold here).

The foundation achieved quasi-drug status (a product category between cosmetics and medicine) when Japan’s Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry certified its “ability to restrain the production of skin’s melanin pigment, effectively preventing spots and freckles”.

Thanks to the newly formulated foundation with ground m-Tranexamic Acid, skin achieves a natural-looking finish.

Spots and other discolorations are said to be camouflaged by the Luminizing Magic Powder in the foundation. The powder features ingredients that reflect yellow and blue light, making spots seem invisible and producing a more luminous skin. The brightening affect is amplified if the foundation is used together with other White Lucent products.

The new collection of brightening products also contain Shiseido’s super Hydro-Synergy Complex for day-long hydration and Radiance Optimizing Powder (found in the Foundation and Skincare Powder), which lends skin shine and radiance.

The Spot-Control Base UV comes in three shades: ivory to correct uneven skin tone, green to neutralise redness and pink to correct dull or yellowish skin. Shiseido recommends applying it after your morning skincare routine to help the foundation spread evenly and last longer.

Vitamin D from the sun prevents rickets, osteoporosis and some cancers, but over-exposure to UVA and UVB rays results in premature ageing and skin cancer.

The Multi-Defense UV Protector SPF50 PA+++ in the suncare range, a foundation primer that does not wear off with sweat or water, is said to effectively block out UV rays and brighten skin at the same time.

The OptiVeil-UV Technology by Shiseido allows the sunscreen to better adhere to the skin. Thanks to the lightweight and non-sticky texture of the product, it’s easily removed with a water-based cleanser rather than oil-based cleansers as recommended in the past. As a result, there is less stress on the skin.

It contains Thiotaurine and rose apple leaf extract which are said to protect against various oxidative stressors.

“UV rays target from all directions. Even if you stand under a tree, the rays will be reflected off the ground. Particles in the air can also scatter UV rays. So protection is important,” said Shiseido R&D centre’s leading expert in UV research and bihaku, Kiyoshi Sato.

“But this doesn’t mean that you should stay out of the sun. Going out is good for mental health. You can guard against UV radiation by wearing protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses.”

Prices range from RM125 to RM195. The new Shiseido brightening products will be available from tomorrow at Shiseido counters.

Suki Skincare ~ Adult Acne Skincare Line

Suki Skincare launched a line of products to combat adult acne. The company offers a line of skincare products that treat the signs of acne without harsh actives, ensuring safe and gentle cleansing.

Suki Skincare’s Adult Ace line includes:
Bio-Active Purifying Face Serum: Treat the most prominent symptoms of acne with this oil-free serum specifically designed to help reduce breakouts. Created using cosmeceutical-grade, standardized white willow bark extract and blended with goldenseal extract and apple enzymes, this serum combats blemishing, cleans the skin and provides soothing moisture.
Renewal Bio-Resurfacing Peel: Nurse blemish-prone skin with this corrective antioxidant-rich organic peel that works to reveal a visibly smoother, refined complexion. Standardized white willow bark extract and pumpkin enzyme combine to effectively buff blemishes and open clogged pores.
Transformative Cleansing Clay: This 3-in-1 purifying anti-inflammatory cleanser lifts impurities, dirt and toxins to the surface and helps reduce blemishing, irritation and redness.
Concentrated Balancing Toner: Balance skin’s natural pH while efficiently prepping it for additional treatments with this inflammation-soothing, blemish-reducing toner. Rich in natural vitamin C polypeptide liposomes and formulated with standardized white willow bark extract, this toner boosts the immune system as it simultaneously calms irritation.
Pure Facial Moisture – Balancing: Remedy an oily, acne-prone complexion with this 100-percent clean, breathable and bacteria-fighting oil concentrate. The floral blend of organic chamomile, Echinacea, lavender and rose extract creates a non-greasy formula that calms irritation, soothes sensitivities, balances oil production and moisturizes without clogging pores.

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Allergies Treatment News

2011-03-18 / Allergies / 0 Comments

Pet Food Allergies: Steps to Take for Treatment

What exactly are pet food allergies?

Pet food allergies are defined as immune system, or inflammatory, responses triggered by certain foods. Other pets may not have true allergies, but are still sensitive to certain ingredients, on a less severe level.

While often referred to as “allergies,” these types of lower-grade, long-term reactions to diet are more accurately described as food sensitivities. A food allergy or sensitivity is entirely specific to the individual animal, and a food that is “non-allergenic” for one pet may cause severe reactions for another. Just as a cake may be labeled “hypoallergenic” for most human beings, because it’s made without nuts, dairy and gluten, it could cause a severe and even fatal reaction for a person with a strawberry allergy, if it is made with strawberries. Similarly, a “hypoallergenic” pet food made with, say, lamb and rice or duck and potatoes, will not even come close to improving the situation for a dog who’s allergic to lamb, or potatoes.

Different theories abound about how and why pet food allergies occur. Most holistic practitioners agree that true allergic reactions are usually the result of an underlying health problem or system imbalance. All dogs and cats are exposed to a variety of allergens in daily life, and never have a reaction of any kind. Pets don’t actually develop allergies as a result of exposure to allergens, but because they have suddenly become susceptible or vulnerable in some way.

Feeding a single type of food long-term without any dietary variety is also thought to be linked with an increased risk of food intolerance developing. Pets who enjoy a varied, whole-food diet, develop far fewer food allergies than one-food pets. Bad quality food in itself may deplete the immune system over time, because they are laden with toxins and other substances that place unnecessary burden on the body, or because they lack important nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes and so on. Many such nutrients may not be included in nutrient profiles, but still are vital for the long-term optimal health and vitality of a cat or dog.

Vaccines, chemicals, medications such as antibiotics or steroids, stress and genetics, can all predispose a pet to pet food allergies as well. It’s true that certain ingredients have a much higher incidence of causing allergic reactions than others, but the key is to uncover what your own pet can and cannot tolerate. For many dogs and cats, the most common culprits are wheat, corn, soy, rice and sugar beet pulp, as well as various preservatives and by-products.

The Elimination Diet

For many lucky pets in Eureka and Wildwood, eliminating the high-risk ingredients of wheat, corn, soy, rice and beet pulp—and usually identifying single proteins that they are able to tolerate—are the only steps needed to manage pet food allergies, and they go on to be free of allergies for the rest of their lives. In other cases, cutting out all glutenous grains from the food and also treats, brings about a dramatic improvement. A “hypoallergenic pet food” per se, is never actually required.

In other cases, feeding a food that’s very minimally processed with a single protein source, can make a vast difference. Many pets seem sensitive to beef in the form of a beef-flavored kibble, but can actually tolerate lightly cooked hamburger or a piece of raw steak very well. High-heat processing used to make kibble, can alter the amino acid structure of proteins, making them unrecognizable to the body and triggering off a pet food allergy that vanishes when the human food equivalent is fed. Genetically modified grains also are thought to be involved by some in the pet food industry. Try to be sure grains you do feed are certified organic.

Sometimes, an elimination die, or “feeding trial,” is needed to uncover the cause of pet food allergies. This involves feeding an extremely simplified diet for about four weeks, say fish and sweet potatoes or duck and potatoes, until allergies subside; and then gradually adding in one new ingredient each week thereafter, to observe for any sign of intolerance such as itching or diarrhea. Laboratory-based allergy testing is another option but can be costly, and many times the results are inconclusive or inaccurate.

In many chronic cases, real commitment is necessary to uncover what is causing a pet food allergy. Scrutiny of the label for everything that passes your pet’s lips, including snacks and treats, is crucial. Patterns often emerge, where for example, diarrhea occurs every week after a dog returns from daycare and the cause is the cookies he receives there.

In addition to determining what foods the pet cannot tolerate, and committing to avoid them long-term, detoxification and support of the immune system with herbs can be immensely helpful. Supplementation with digestive enzymes and probiotics can help get the body back on track, and ensure proper absorption of the foods being fed.

Court finds allergy treatment claims misleading

Australia (MMD Newswire) March 15, 2011 — The Federal Court has found three companies and two individuals made false claims and misled consumers about their ability to test for and treat allergies.
The findings conclude proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against:

* Willesee Healthcare Pty Ltd

* Sophie Georgonicas

* Theoliza Pty Ltd

* Maria Colosimo, and

* Theta Line Pty Ltd.

“Recently the ACCC has taken action against a number of traders in the health and wellbeing industry,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said today.

“These proceedings reinforce the ACCC’s commitment to stamp out unsubstantiated claims by traders which put the health of consumers at risk.”

Each respondent claimed they could diagnose, treat and/or cure allergies using “Nambudripad’s allergy elimination technique” (NAET) or similar techniques. These techniques involve identifying allergens by testing the resistance of the customer’s arm muscle to pressure applied while holding a vial of the suspected allergen. The purported treatment then involves the application of pressure or needles to points on the customer’s body, while the customer is exposed to the potential allergen.

Its proponents believe this process clears energy blockages which have been caused by the allergen, thereby desensitising the customer to the allergen.

The court declared the companies and individuals engaged in false, misleading and deceptive conduct by representing one or more of the following:

* that they could test for and identify an allergen or a substance to which a person is allergic, when they could not

* that they could cure or eliminate all or virtually all allergies, or allergic reactions, when they could not

* that they could successfully treat a person’s allergies or allergic reactions, when they could not

* that after receiving treatment it would then be safe or low risk for a person to have contact with the substance or allergen to which they had previously suffered adverse reaction, when none of their treatments could achieve this result.

Each of the respondents is restrained from engaging in similar conduct for a period of three years, either by injunction or an undertaking to the court.

The court ordered the respondents to display corrective notices on their websites and in their clinics. The respondents must also send letters or emails to current and former customers explaining that they engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, apologising for that conduct and outlining the remedies obtained by the ACCC. Each respondent is also required to pay a contribution to the ACCC’s costs of the proceeding.

The court will consider proposed consent orders in relation to four additional joint respondents on a date yet to be fixed.

In February, a separate trader, Allergy Pathway Pty, and its director, Paul Keir, were fined for contempt of court after previously giving undertakings to the court not to make certain representations about Allergy Pathway’s ability to test for, identify and safely treat allergies. The ACCC has also taken action against traders this year for misleading claims relating to cancer cures and treatments.

Media inquiries

* Mr Graeme Samuel, Chairman, (03) 9290 1812 or 0408 335 555

* Mr Brent Rebecca, Media, (02) 6243 1317 or 0408 995 408

Docs: Early treatment combats allergies best

Get the antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays, inhalers and eye drops ready.

By starting those allergy remedies now, sufferers can help head off the misery that will arrive when tree pollen counts start climbing, allergists say.

“We’re advising our patients to at least start their anthistamines a week or two before their best guess of when they’re going to start having symptoms,” said Jeff Raub, an allergist with Group Health Associates in Springdale, Ohio.

High humidity and even traffic can bring on the allergins.

“We have a very large number of automobiles and diesel-fuel vehicles driving right through the middle of the city exhausting all of these chemicals into the air,” he said.

Pollutants emitted by cars aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms.

Warm weather kicks off nature’s pollen powerhouse.

Cooler temperatures mean trees make less pollen. Wind can also clear away pollen, and a good rain after a dry spell can wash away pollen and other crud in the air.

Pollen levels of 20 and under are considered low; when they get above 100, they move into the “high” category.

If they top 1,000, they move into the “very high” category. That amount of pollen won’t kill anyone, allergists say, but it will make everyone miserable.

The good news is effective remedies for allergy sufferers are plentiful, experts say.

Antihistamines, eye drops, nasal sprays and inhalers all relieve symptoms.

For people who don’t respond to those medications, allergy shots, or immunotherapy, is often their best bet, said David Bernstein, an allergist with the University of Cincinnati and the Bernstein Allergy Group.

“The real problem with the shots is there’s a long buildup phase, and people get impatient with them,” he said.

The shots help desensitize patients to whatever they’re allergic to. But it can take months — or longer — before patients get any relief.

Some allergists, including Bernstein, are taking a new approach called “cluster therapy.”

The approach speeds up the process. A patient might get two or three doses of the allergen in a weekly visit, instead of one dose a week.

“Instead of six to eight months, it takes two to three weeks for patients to get built up to where they need to be,” he said. “But they do need monthly maintenance.”

Don’t blame the trees in the backyard for sneezy symptoms, said Dave Gamstetter, a natural resource manager for the Cincinnati Park Board. The wind can blow some pollen 50 miles or more.


Allergy offenders

Allergies happen when the body’s immune system overreacts to a particular stimulus, whether it’s pollen, pet hair or peanuts. Several types of remedies are available combat seasonal allergies. Here’s a guide:

– Antihistamines: These are the first line of defense, especially for seasonal allergies. Antihistamines work by blocking a substance called histamines, which cause the allergic reaction — sneezing, itching, watering eyes and even hives. A variety are available by prescription and over-the-counter. Older generation antihistamines, including Benadryl, can cause drowsiness.

– Decongestants: These ease congesting by shrinking blood vessels and decreasing blood flow to the sinus passages, which allows mucus to flow more freely. People with high blood pressure, certain types of glaucoma and coronary artery disease should talk to their doctors before taking decongestants.

– Steroid nasal sprays: These reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, which eases congestion, and other allergy symptoms.

– Allergy eye drops: Some eye drops use antihistamines; others contain corticosteroids, the same ingredient found in steroid nasal sprays.

– Leukotriene inhibitors: These block the production of leukotrienes, a substance that causes the inflammatory process that occurs when the body has an allergic reaction.

– Immunotherapy: These work by gradually introducing the allergen to the body to slowly modify the allergic response. If someone’s allergic to box elder pollen, for example, they’ll get shots containing tiny amounts of the pollen, then the dose will gradually increase over a course of several months or longer until the allergic response stops.

Reasons to sneeze

Here’s what’s making you miserable by the season:

– Spring: Tree pollens and mold.

– Summer: Grasses, and later in the summer, ragweed.

– Fall: Ragweed until the first hard frost.

– Winter: Dust, dust mites and animal dander.

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