Sleep Disorders: News and Treatments

2011-05-31 / Health News / 0 Comments

Asheville Dr. offers natural treatments for weight, fatigue

Dr. Nikolas Hedberg usually draws a crowd when he speaks around Asheville.

With topics such as chronic fatigue, arthritis, fibromyalgia and painful ailments that are not usually well understood, the chiropractor’s talks are always popular.

But even these can’t compare with his talks on thyroid disorders. Those are always standing-room-only.

“I’ve been giving talks all over Asheville the past six years, and every time I did one on thyroid, it was a packed house,” said Hedberg, DC, DABCI.

“Everyone was on thyroid medication, but still they weren’t feeling any better, they weren’t losing weight, they had cold hands and feet, their hair was falling out, they had sleep problems.”

It isn’t just something that caught Hedberg’s attention. Today, an estimated 28 million people — or one in 10 — in the United States are living with a thyroid disorder. Many of them, Hedberg said, are women, and most don’t know they have it.

“Thyroid disorder is an epidemic in this country,” he said. “The fifth most prescribed drug in the U.S. is thyroid medicine, specifically Synthroid.”

Considering the importance of the thyroid — a small gland located about halfway down the front of the neck — Hedberg felt he needed to take action beyond his private practice. So he wrote a book.

His self-published “The Thyroid Alternative: Renew your Thyroid Naturally” has just been released.

“I wanted to write a book about thyroid disorder and help people understand it. One person’s problem is not the same as another’s,” he said.
Little gland, big job

The thyroid produces thyroid hormone and calcitonin. Its main role, Hedberg said, is to control metabolism, or energy production.

“It is important for fat burning, sugar burning, to make energy for everything in your body to function — your brain, heart, liver — everything.”

The most common form of thyroid disorder is known as Hashimoto’s disease, also called hypothyroidism, which is low or underactive thyroid function.

It can produce symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain or inability to lose weight, constipation, depression, sensitivity to cold, slow wound healing, unrefreshing sleep, hair falling out, and others (see box).

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders can affect your ability to achieve and maintain restful nighttime sleep and can also cause excessive daytime sleepiness. Disorders associated with the daytime sleepiness may seriously interfere with daytime productivity or quality of life.

If you are having trouble sleeping, specialized diagnosis and treatment may be required. That’s why Springhill Medical Center offers state-of-the-art sleep testing and evaluation by experienced sleep disorder specialists to identify individual problems and help patients regain restful sleep.

Sleep disorders fall into four major categories. The first, excessive sleepiness during the day, can be caused by a few things. One of them is sleep apnea or repeated cessation of breathing during sleep. It can occur hundreds of times, and may be associated with snoring, daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure, personality changes and impotence.

Narcolepsy is a disease of the central nervous system. It is characterized by “sleep attacks” at inappropriate times. Narcolepsy may also involve episodes of muscle weakness and dream-like experiences while awake.

Nocturnal Myoclonus involves involuntary twitches of the limbs during sleep causing multiple arousals and subsequent daytime sleepiness.

Insomnia is an inability to initiate sleep. It can result from numerous factors including poor sleep hygiene, emotional difficulties/stress, use of certain medications, breathing difficulties or other medical problems.
Disturbances of the sleep/wake schedule include jet lag, frequently changing work schedules and disorders of the sleep/wake rhythm.

Parasomnias are unusual sleep-related behaviors and can include nightmares, bed wetting, sleep walking and kicking, thrashing and hitting.

Because most sleep/wake problems are hidden by sleep, a nighttime sleep study in the laboratory is often required. This non-invasive nighttime study involves the continuous monitoring of the EEG, EKG, eye movements, muscle tension, respiratory activity and blood oxygen saturation.

Michael Ledet, MD is a sleep specialist at Springhill Medical Center. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine, Lipidology, and Sleep Medicine. He is available to see patients at two office locations:

Daphne office:
28260 Hwy 98 Suite B
Hours: Monday (morning), Tuesday (all day), & Thursday (morning)

The ‘first step’ after diagnosis

New and recently diagnosed Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients, their families, carers and even aged care staff who look after them, will now be able to access a free information seminar and have the degenerative illness explained.

The recently launched First Steps program, run by Parkinson’s NSW and the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI), will help PD patients understand what has, what is and what will happen to their body.

Neurologist at the University of Sydney’s BMRI and Mind Research Institute, Dr Simon Lewis, said that the program- a state first- will also enable PD patients to deal with the shock of diagnosis and learn how to cope with the disease.

“It’s about getting those people who are just shell shocked with the diagnosis,” Dr Lewis said.

“They’ve just had life changing news, they have 101 questions and they don’t realise what they have. Two weeks later, it hits them.”

The seminar will also explain some of the early warning signs of PD, such as mood change, loss of smell, constipation and sleep disorders.

“The most dramatic of its symptoms, however is known as Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD). Parkinson patients have been known to start acting out in their dreams, often punching or kicking the person sharing their bed…during one of the phases of sleep – Rapid Eye Movement (REM).

“The way the brain is wired you are not allowed to move during REM. There’s a dead man’s break between the connection of dreaming and moving your arms and legs.

“[If you are at risk of developing PD], that dead man’s break breaks down.

“For some Parkinson patients it comes as a revelation and relief, not to mention their spouses, that the condition may be responsible for things that go ‘bump’ ‘kick’ in the night.

“…What you see [in the seminar] is this look of realisation on the people’s faces- maybe because the husband has punched [his wife] in the middle of the night. Of course the husband may not know as [she finds it] too embarrassing to tell him.

“And now here they are five years down the line. It’s an amazing thing as they may have been hiding this fact and have been feeling guilty about it.

“Through the seminar, we can say, ‘Hey this is part of your disease and understanding the symptoms is part of getting your head around your own condition’.”

Dr Lewis explained that PD patients, families and aged care staff who attend the seminars will also receive information about treatment (including medication which could switch off violent night-time behaviours) and support.

The next seminar will be held in Sydney on Monday June 20th at 1.30pm at the BMRI and will feature talks from local Parkinson’s experts. However, Dr Lewis said that his team aim to run the First Steps program in rural settings throughout NSW, and hopes that it gets picked up and offered throughout the whole country.

Dr Lewis said that BMRI also aims to conduct specific research into predicting the development of PD in people with RBD.

“We believe the disease spreads slowly through the brain and non-physical symptoms can often predate the disease by many years, potentially offering an early way of recognising the condition.”

Problems with thinking and memory are also common in Parkinson’s diseases with patients being six times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

BMRI researchers are therefore also investigating the causes of PD and are trialling memory training.

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Anxiety Treatment News: Massage Therapy Lessens Anxiety in Mothers of Asthmatic Children

2011-05-27 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

80-year-old dementia sufferer’s ‘undignified’ treatment at Dundee hospital condemned

A Scottish hospital has been condemned over the treatment of an 80-year-old dementia patient who was not given the “care, dignity and respect she deserved”.

The 80-year-old woman, named only as Mrs V, was taken to Ninewells Hospital, in Dundee, with a chest infection in December 2008. She was given an “unacceptably high” number of sedatives over an 11-day period of treatment after she became anxious and distressed, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland said.

Staff at the hospital administered sedatives rectally 57 times and by injection 29 times before she died of pneumonia.

The woman’s condition meant she was unable to eat and was given no food. But she could see other people eating and could not understand why she was not, leading to further anxiety and distress.

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland said her treatment was degrading, unnecessary, and may have breached her human rights. The commission’s report, Starved of Care, said Mrs V was given repeated, uncomfortable and undignified administrations of sedative medication.

It also said staff did not display “the knowledge, behaviour and attitudes” needed to care for her properly. The report found Mrs V had been agitated and distressed before her transfer to the medical ward.

She thought she should be at home to care for her children. Family members told inspectors she was agitated during their visits and she begged them to take her home with them when they left.

But her agitation was heightened by not being able to eat. The report said: “There was a lack of shared understanding, across medical and mental health services for older people, about the best way to manage people with dementia who become physically unwell while in mental health care.

“We consider that Mrs V was not given the care, dignity and respect she deserved. It can be argued that her rights to privacy and dignity and right to be free from degrading treatment (articles eight and three of the European Convention on Human Rights) were infringed.

“While all members of the care team must reflect on our findings and examine their own individual attitudes and practice, we strongly advise the NHS to examine the performance of individual practitioners.

“Poor clinical decision-making and negative attitudes to people transferred from mental health care appear to have played a significant part in the problems we identified with Mrs V’s care and treatment. We consider that Mrs V’s care could and should have been better managed in an acute medical ward.”

The Dundee hospital, which was not named in the commission report, admitted that the standard of care received was unacceptable.

Dr Margaret McGuire, NHS Tayside director of nursing, said: “The standards of care received by this patient were woefully inadequate, wholly inappropriate and utterly unacceptable.

“Since this event we have initiated a number of service improvement programmes for dementia patients.

“As part of these improvements, we have appointed a nurse consultant in dementia care who is leading improvements in care for our dementia patients and ensuring all members of staff who care for dementia patients have appropriate training and education.”

The commission has revisited the hospital twice since the case and has acknowledged improvements in staff training for dementia care.

Music therapy enhances quality of life for patients with fibromyalgia

University of Granada researchers have proven that music therapy combined with other relax techniques based on guided imagery reduces significantly pain, depression and anxiety, and improves sleep among patients suffering from fibromyalgia. Thus, this therapy enhances patients’ quality of life. This pioneer experimental study in Europe has shown that these two techniques enhance the well-being and personal power of patients with fibromyalgia, who are allowed to take part in their treatment.

This research study was conducted with patients suffering from fibromyalgia from the provinces of Granada, Almería and Córdoba, Spain. They undertook a basal test at the beginning of the treatment, a post-basal test four weeks after the intervention, and another post-basal test eight weeks after the intervention, at the end of the study.

Treatment at home

The researchers applied a relaxation technique based on guided imagery and music therapy to patients, in a series of sessions conducted by a researcher. Patients were given a CD to listen at home. Then, researchers measured a number of variables associated to the main symptoms of fribromyalgia -as pain intensity, quality of life, impact of the condition on patient’s daily life, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, self-efficiency, well-being. Then, patients were given the chance to participate in their own treatment through an understanding of their condition.

Massage Therapy Lessens Anxiety in Mothers of Asthmatic Children

Asthma is a common, chronic childhood disease, and when a child is asthmatic the entire family’s anxiety levels can rise. New research shows massage therapy lowers anxiety in mothers of asthmatic children.

Researchers set out to determine if learning to massage their own asthmatic children provided relief from anxiety among the children’s mothers, according to an abstract published on

“Studies showed a relation between the life quality of children suffering from asthma and the anxiety level of parents,” the researchers noted. “These parents are looking for ways to confront their stress, to reduce their anxiety in encountering with their asthmatic children, and to improve their performance.”

Sixty mothers with asthmatic children aged 5 to 14 years were divided into two groups: One that was trained to massage the head, neck, face, shoulder, hand, leg and back of their children every night before bedtime for one month; and one whose children received standard medical treatment.

The researchers found the daily massage sessions reduced the mothers’ anxiety. “Daily massage helped mothers to have more sense of participation in caring their children and as a non-pharmacological method can be accompanied with pharmacological methods,” the researchers wrote. “The results showed no significant difference in mean anxiety level between the two groups before the intervention but there was a significant difference between them after intervention.”

The study was conducted by personnel at the Department of Pediatrics Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Isfahan University of medical sciences, Isfahan, Iran.

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Asthma Treatment Today

2011-05-25 / Asthma / 0 Comments

Asthma Patients Are Over-Prescribed Antibiotics

Asthma treatment often results in unnecessary antibiotics being prescribed to children, says a new study.

One in six children with asthma are prescribed roughly 1 million unnecessary antibiotics to US children with asthma. Another study published in the same issue of the journal Pediatrics noted the similarities between the United States’ over-medication and Belgium, where children with asthma were found to be nearly twice as likely as other children to receive an antibiotic.

“You must have a good reason to prescribe both an asthma drug and an antibiotic,” study author Dr. Kris De Boeck of the University Hospital of Leuven told Reuters Health.

The “overuse” and “incorrect use” of antibiotics will “put pressure on bacteria and drive them to develop survival strategies,” which could prompt new drug-resistant bacteria to emerge, added De Boeck.

For the study, Dr. Ian M. Paul at Penn State Colelge of Medicine and his team examined information collected as part of national surveys about US doctor’s visits. They looked at more than 60 million visits involving children with asthma that had no symptoms presenting suggesting the use of an antibiotic. In one in six of those visits, the children received a prescription for an antibiotic.

De Boeck’s study involved a database from the insurer that covers over 40 percent of the Belgian population and found that 75 percent of children who received asthma drugs also got an antibiotic, which occurred in less than 40 percent of kids who were not given any drugs to treat asthma.

Many doctors are likely offering antibiotics “out of fear, out of habit,” wrote De Boeck in an email to Reuters Health.

“Some physicians state that parents do not want to leave the consultation room before they get a medicine.”

Bacteria May Have Role in Asthma

People with severe asthma are more likely to have antibodies against the disease-causing bacteria Chlamydia pneumoniae than the general population and in some cases antibiotic treatment can greatly improve symptoms according to research presented today at the 111th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

“We conclude that a subset of severe asthmatics harbor infectious C. pneumoniae in their lungs, resulting in antibody production and increased asthma severity,” says Eduard Drizik of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who presented the study.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease, whose causes are not completely understood, affecting over 300 million people worldwide, including almost 24 million American children and adults. There is no cure for asthma and the disease is managed by controlling disease symptoms. The recognition that asthma pathogenesis involves chronic inflammation has led to a flurry of studies exploring the prevalence of various infectious organisms in the asthmatic condition.

Having previously demonstrated an increased prevalence of C. pneumoniae in the lungs of children and adults with asthma, the researchers conducted a study designed to determine if the presence of Chlamydia-specific antibodies could predict asthma severity and if these antibody-positive patients would benefit from treatment with antibiotics.

“The data revealed a statistically significant link between Chlamydia-specific IgE antibody production and the severity of asthma,” says Drizik. “Of the asthma patients analyzed, 55% had Chlamydia-specific IgE antibodies in their lungs compared to 12% of blood donor controls.”

Moreover, patients who were treated on the basis of asthma severity with antibiotics had significant improvements in asthma symptoms and some even experienced a complete abolition of these symptoms.

“Physicians should therefore fully explore the involvement of microbes in difficult to treat asthma cases, since there might be a cure for some types of asthma after all,” says Drizik.

Medical Advances in the Treatment for Asthma

Medical Advances in the Treatment for Asthma, have advanced so positively in the last 10 to 15 years. The treatment is now so effective that some of the world’s top sports star play sport at the highest level, but at the same time need to take preventive medication to suppress and stop any chance of an Asthma attack.

Some of the current inhalers are so beneficial all one does is take a micro dose inhalation maybe one – two or three times a day, that’s it you get on my life and work and exercise with no side effects.

Plus once you know your prescription as prescribed by a bona fide medical practitioner and/or doctor you now have the option to buy the Asthma medication you need online. Some remedies for the treatment of Asthma are – Homeopathic Spray – Respitrol Oral Drops – Asthma Home Remedies.

One of our work colleagues suffers from Asthma and they tried out the Homeopathic Spray and they found the treatment very effective, the explained the results to their doctor and he concurred no they just use the Homeopathic Spray.

Medical Advances in the Treatment for Asthma are so intrusive and effective now in 2011.

Rise in mercury, dust can trigger asthma attacks

GURGAON: Frequent fluctuation in temperature, dust storms and exposure to grain dust can trigger asthma attack especially during this time of the year. City doctors said that the frequency of asthma attack can go up by 25-30%.

Experts warned that asthma is often wrongly diagnosed as a seasonal cough or cold. This, in turn, leads to a large percentage of patients missing out on proper treatment that can result in a full blown asthma attack.

According to Dr Sushil Upadhyay, Sr Consultant Pulmonology at Artemis Health Institute, “With a change in season, there is a 50% rise in the number of patients who come with asthma or allergy symptoms. Every year, around 10-15% of new asthma cases are reported around this time period.”

As per the doctors, these symptoms may vary with time and also from individual to individual. Doctors also advise that one should look out for warning signals for first timers to prevent an attack. “Patients might experience breathlessness, wheezing and tightness in the chest. A few people may experience episodic coughing which is severe during early morning and late night,” added Dr Upadhyay.

Doctors also advise that patients who have a history of asthmatic attacks must take preventive measures to stay in good health. “People with asthmatic tendencies should avoid a sudden change in temperature like directly stepping into the sun from an air conditioned room or vice versa. One should stand in the shade for some time after coming out of a cool place into the sun and/or switch off the car air conditioner a couple of minutes before reaching office, so that the temperature change is gradual,” said Dr Vivek Singh, consultant pulmonologist at Colombia Asia hospital.

The other seasonal problems at this time of the year include those like allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis and allergic asthma. “These differ from patient to patient. While some have a runny nose, others have red, watery, itchy eyes coupled with breathing problems,” said Dr Nevin Kishor, senior consultant, Pulmonology, Max Hospital, Gurgaon.

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Stop Smoking News

2011-05-24 / Other / 0 Comments

Kicking the hard-core habit

Meg Dougherty and Darlene Richardson are pleasant, well-mannered women, but in the world of smoking-cessation counseling, they rank among the hard cases.

Dougherty started smoking cigarettes sometime in her 20s. She’s not sure how many attempts she has made to stop, but nothing worked for more than six months.

Richardson remembers exactly how and where she started: at a party shortly after her marriage at 21. And she stayed hooked for decades, even when “it made me feel like I was taking my tongue and licking an ashtray.”

Then, at age 50, both women enrolled in the JeffQuit smoking-cessation program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The program, which instructors offer at sites around the country under the name QuitSmart, is for anyone 18 or older, but especially for those who have tried to stop and failed.

“It’s almost been too easy,” said Dougherty, a nurse who reports being smoke-free since March 2. “It’s the first time I can see myself quitting for years and years.”

Cessation researchers and counselors say that with the growing public awareness of smoking’s health risks, social rejection through smoke-free areas, and the rising price of cigarettes, it’s mostly folks such as Dougherty and Richardson who are left.

“Individuals who have continued to smoke despite pressure to quit tend to be more ‘hard-core’ than were smokers of several years ago,” says Robert Shipley, who developed the QuitSmart program (the parent of JeffQuit) and has led the Duke Medical Center Stop Smoking Clinic since its inception in 1977.

To reach this group, physicians, therapists, and researchers are enlarging their bag of tricks, repackaging old techniques, trying newer ones like acupuncture, and looking for genetic clues to what makes it harder for some people to quit.

They are prescribing antismoking drugs more aggressively while taking a gentler approach in counseling. One might call it “talk softly and carry a big prescription pad.”

“In every smoker, there’s a non-smoker trying to come out,” says Frank Leone, who directs the Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Programs at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “We want to make that as easy and effective as possible. The field has shifted toward being more supportive. ‘You deserve not to smoke and here’s how we’re going to do it.’ ”

Leone drew up the “Quit Smoking Comfortably” curriculum used in the free smoking-cessation classes and workshops offered by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The mix of prescribing and counseling is similar to that of QuitSmart.

Lorraine Dean, manager of the department’s Tobacco Policy and Control Program, said that about 800 people have taken the program in the last year.

Statistics bear out the need to reshuffle the smoking-cessation deck. As the percentage of adults who smoke has slowly fallen, so has the effectiveness of cessation programs.

At the time of the first Surgeon General’s Report in 1964, about 42 percent of adults over the age of 18 smoked cigarettes. By 2009, the figure was just under half that, although the decline has slowed in recent years.

But at the same time, Shipley says, smoking-cessation programs have proved less successful. He cites one study showing that the success rate (6-12 months of abstinence) grew from about 20 percent in 1965-69 to about 30 percent in 1970-74, but has been declining in recent years, slipping back to around 20 percent.

Prospective quitters may be getting some help on the DNA front.

A new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania indicated that the number of so-called mu opioid receptors in the brain may show why many people find it so tough to quit.

“For the first time, we’ve identified a mechanism that explains why people with a particular genetic background may be more prone to relapse when they try to quit smoking,” said study director Caryn Lerman, a psychiatry professor at the Penn medical school. Nicotine, she said, releases brain chemicals such as beta-endorphins, and those with more of these receptors found nicotine more pleasurable.

Medications that block the activity of these receptors have had mixed results, but further research may show how they can become more effective, Lerman said.

The researchers used positron emission topography (PET), a nuclear imaging technique, to measure the amount of mu opioid receptors in smokers’ brains. The machines are too expensive for use in treating individual smokers, Lerman said. But “eventually, we hope to be able to predict who will have the easiest time quitting” and design programs more tailored to the individual.

Meg Dougherty was sitting in a small circle of chairs in an exercise room in Jefferson’s Center City complex. “I feel like I should be wearing a ’smoke-free’ tiara,” said Dougherty, who lives in Overbrook.

Sitting beside her, smoking-cessation counselor Anna Tobia was a verbal streaming billboard of encouraging messages for Dougherty and two others. “You have to try new ways of coping, that’s what this comes down to. . . . You’ve given up so much. . . . I feel like without a doubt you’re going to stay.”

The four-week program costs $249, though many insurance plans will cover $200. It is based on moving slowly into abstinence. Tobia calls it a “warm chicken” approach compared with the “cold turkey” methods used years ago. Participants attend an opening class and then ease down into quitting by smoking progressively weaker brands of cigarettes. They may even have started wearing a nicotine patch before the program begins, flooding their bodies with nicotine the way one might have a large meal to kill the appetite. Nicotine gum and lozenges also are used.

Smokers who have tried and failed to quit are being reached with a program of supportive counseling, drugs, and other techniques.

Other weapons in the program’s arsenal are a tobacco-free fake cigarette with an adjustable draw to help them disassociate the hand-to-mouth movement of smoking from the pleasure sensations that follow – and discounted acupuncture and stress-reduction programs. There is also a self-hypnosis CD that another QuitSmart practitioner, Lafayette Hill and Jefferson University Hospital psychiatrist Francisco Merizalde, finds particularly helpful. “It’s the combination that makes it work,” he says.

The most commonly prescribed drugs are Chantix and Zyban, which contains the same medicine as the antidepressant Welbutrin. (It’s used to help break the addiction; there’s no assumption that smokers are depressed.)

Chantix was prescribed sparingly in past years due to possible side effects including depression and suicide attempts. But Shipley and other cessation experts say it is generally safe if used under supervision and that if nothing else works, it’s still a lot safer than continuing to smoke. He believes that a combination of drugs and mental reinforcement is most effective with most longtime smokers.

Whatever is prescribed for QuitSmart clients, however, it is buttressed by supportive group sessions and a self-hypnosis CD. Tobia makes herself available as much as possible by cellphone and frequently calls or e-mails clients while they are in the program or after completion.

New York City Smoking Ban Starts Today

Beginning today, Monday, May 23, 2011, smoking is not allowed in outdoor public spaces around New York City, including beaches, parks and plazas. (That means Central Park, Yankee Stadium, the Coney Island boardwalk and so on — or everywhere it’s fun to smoke.) Health officials have pointed toward second-hand smoke as the reason for the new policy. But will police actually be patrolling for public smokers? How will the ban be enforced in a city full of smokers? And what will happen to the loosie man?

The city is leaving most of the enforcement responsibility up to us. “We expect the new law will be enforced by New Yorkers themselves, who will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking,” read a joint press release from the Parks, Health and Transportation Departments. So look forward to some shouting matches on the Great Lawn.

But there’s also a $50 fine, if the complainer can get someone in charge to pay attention:
Q: What is the penalty for smoking in a park or other area where smoking is prohibited?

A: We expect that the new law will be enforced mostly by New Yorkers themselves, who will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking. This is how similar laws have worked in other places, including Chicago and Los Angeles. However, people who violate the new law could receive a $50 ticket.

Q: What should I do if someone refuses to stop smoking in a park, beach or other area where smoking is prohibited?

A: New Yorkers are encouraged to inform a Parks Department employee or a Park Enforcement Officer if one is available. Otherwise, complaints can be made by calling 311.

The city is also planning an ad campaign to alert everyone of the changes.

Expert smokers, who still own the sidewalk, to be extra aggressive today, exhaling onto every baby they see.

Reynolds Suggests Snusing As Tobacco Ban Takes Effect

The Wall Street Journal ’s David Kesmodel writes that R.J. Reynolds is “seizing on new antismoking laws in New York City” while the Winston-Salem Journal’s Richard Craver says the hometown tobacco company is merely “attempting to make lemonade” out of the ban on smoking in the city’s parks, beaches, boardwalks, and pedestrian plazas that was signed into law in February and takes effect today.

Whether you see it as an aggressive ploy to fill the void left when the last wisp of cigarette smoke wafted into the ozone layer at midnight, or as defensive move to salvage some sales out of yet-another intrusion on personal freedom, Reynolds has launched a newspaper campaign for Camel Snus this morning in local New York newspapers (except the New York Times, which does not accept tobacco advertising) as well as USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. has some thumbnail images of the full-page ads, which carry the headlines “NYC Smokers Enjoy Freedom Without the Flame” and “NYC Smokers Rise Above the Ban.” “Smokers, switch to smoke-free Camel Snus and reclaim the world’s greatest city,” reads the copy in one of the ads.

An R.J. Reynolds’ spokesman says the company simply wants to “make adult smokers in the city aware of a smoke-free tobacco product that’s available to them” and that “as trends in tobacco use change, Camel is transforming by offering adult smokers options, like smoke-free Camel Snus, to consider switching to.” It refers to the products as “spit-free, smoke-free, mess-free tobacco that comes in a small pouch” on its website. “Just slide it under your upper lip and enjoy.” It also plays up the two-century-old Swedish heritage of the product.

“Some public-health advocates, pointing to the difficulty of quitting smoking, argue that products like snus could play a role in reducing tobacco-related harm,” Kesmodel writes. “Others say the products may entice more people to take up tobacco, and could keep smokers who otherwise might drop tobacco altogether from doing so.”

Bill Godshall, the executive director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania, tells Craver that Reynolds is the first large U.S. tobacco company to encourage smokers to quit smoking by urging them to switch to a smokeless product. The ads, however, do not make any claims of reduced health risks, which doesn’t mean that anti-smoking groups find them acceptable.

“These ads continue Reynolds’ irresponsible marketing of snus as a way for smokers to get their nicotine fix in the growing number of smoke-free places,” says Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids spokesman Vince Willmore.

In a separate piece in yesterday’s Winston-Salem Journal, Craver reports that Matthew Carpenter, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the department of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, is conducting a federally funded study that aims to answer two key questions in the debate: 1. Can a smokeless product … contribute to a smoker quitting cigarettes — particularly one who doesn’t want to stop? 2. If it does, could an increase in use of smokeless-tobacco products over cigarettes cause a net harm to the population?

But Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says research should also evaluate whether the marketing of smokeless products result in more people actually using tobacco, “which could result in more deaths, not fewer.”

Craver discusses some prior research that indicates that the use of smokeless products may be effective in curbing withdrawal and craving among smokers who want to quit. But, he points out, “the evolution of some health-advocacy groups from anti-smoking to anti-tobacco is ratcheting up the moralistic aspect of buying and consuming a legal product.”

Ken Kendrick, the managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, published an op-ed piece in the Arizona Republic yesterday that calls on Major League Baseball to enact a ban on smokeless tobacco just like one that has been in effect for minor leagues teams since 1993.

“Ballplayers aren’t indulging a harmless habit when they use smokeless tobacco,” he writes. “They’re damaging their health with a product that causes cancer and other serious diseases. And they’re endangering the well-being of countless kids who look up to them and who copy everything major leaguers do.”

Kendrik says that while cigarette sales are down, the promotion of smokeless products as a substitute is having an effect: Smokeless-tobacco use by high-school boys has risen 36% since 2003. “Every time a kid sees a major-league player using smokeless tobacco,” he writes, “baseball is contributing free promotion.”

Tobacco use falls despite cuts to funding

Emily Kecskemety, a senior at Pittsford Sutherland High School, was watching the movie Hairspray one day and was bothered by all the smoking in the film.

The big-screen version of the Broadway musical had scenes with teens smoking in a high school bathroom, teachers smoking in the faculty lounge and pregnant mothers smoking during a dance number, even though it was a PG-rated movie.

She and other members of Reality Check, a high school club aimed at preventing teen smoking, created an awareness-raising activity out of the movie.

“A group of us decided to play a game and stomp our feet every time we saw something smoking-related and we couldn’t believe the significant amount of times we did see something,” Kecskemety, 17.

Pittsford’s Reality Check is one of a few teen-run anti-tobacco efforts still in existence in Monroe County after federal and state funding for such groups were cut. And although teen smoking rates are declining, concern remains that without such peer programs, the rates could again rise.

“These groups have to stay alive because smoking companies target teens and teen awareness efforts are some of the main reasons why smoking has gone down,” said David Walling, former Monroe County coordinator of Reality Check. “When teens educate other teens about the ways that tobacco companies are focusing on younger kids to get them hooked, kids get totally offended because they don’t want to be duped.”

Cigarette use by high school students declined from 27.1 percent in 2000 to 12.6 percent last year, according to the state Department of Health.

Close to 80 percent of adult smokers began before age 18, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

New York budgeted $47 million in 2011-12 for tobacco-prevention initiatives, said Morris Peters, spokesperson for the state budget office, down $17 million from last year. Three years ago, the state spent upwards of $80 million annually on programs.

The New York state Department of Health Tobacco Control Program helps run Reality Check, a statewide initiative empowering youth to participate in reducing tobacco use among peers, removing tobacco advertising from magazines delivered to schools and removing tobacco use from movies rated G, PG and PG-13.

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Cancer Prevention News

2011-05-20 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Volunteers needed for study on cancer prevention

Here’s a chance to be a part of history – by eventually making cancer part of the past, the American Cancer Society hopes.

ACS wants to recruit 500,000 U.S. adults ages 30-65, from all races and ethnic backgrounds, for a massive, lengthy study on cancer prevention. Participants should be willing to commit to the Cancer Prevention Study-3 long-term and should not have previously been diagnosed with cancer. The study’s purpose is to improve understanding of the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer.

People can sign up at today’s Sevier County Relay for Life fundraiser, 6-10 p.m. at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge. There they will read and sign a consent form, complete a brief survey, provide some physical measurements and give a small blood sample.

Later, at home, they’ll complete a more detailed survey. Then, they’ll periodically be asked to update it.

Coffee for cancer prevention: good idea?

It’s nice when sinful foods turn out to be not so sinful, and coffee has been earning high marks lately on the nutrition front — to the point that some are now calling it a health food. Adding to the growing evidence is a study published yesterday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which found that drinking copious amounts may reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer.

“Those in the study who drank one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer,” says study author Kathryn Wilson, an epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health. “The ones who drank six cups a day had a 60 percent lower risk.”

That’s a heck of a lot of coffee — consumed by just 5 percent of the men in the study, which was comprised of nearly 48,000 male health professionals. But it didn’t matter whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated, Wilson tells me, to get the prostate cancer benefit.

(No way to know, though, whether brewed was better than instant since the vast majority of the participants drank brewed.)

Women coffee drinkers may also have some protection against breast cancer. Swedish researchers reported last week that women who drank five or more cups of coffee a day had about a 55 percent lower likelihood of developing a less common type of breast cancer — that’s not dependent on estrogen — compared with those who drank just one cup.

Being a two-cup-a-day coffee drinker myself, I’m wondering if I should make a point to drink more.

“Don’t change your habits based on the results of single study,” Wilson tells me. While accounting for potentially confounding factors like PSA screenings and smoking habits, the study, which simply observed dietary and lifestyle habits, can’t show for certain whether one particular habit really made the difference in disease risk.

On the other hand, Wilson adds, “people who drink a lot of coffee shouldn’t feel guilty about it. For many, it’s their best source of antioxidants.”

That’s likely because they’re not eating the recommended five to eight servings a day of fruits and vegetables — which also protect against cancer.

Besides containing antioxidants, coffee appears to improve the action of the hormone insulin, Wilson says, which could add to its cancer protective effects. And those same attributes might also explain coffee drinkers’ lower risk of Parkinson’s, strokes, gallstones, colon cancer, and liver disease.

If you do decide to up your intake of java, you might want those extra cups to be decaffeinated to avoid disrupting your sleep. (Skimping on sleep, which raises your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, could negate the benefits of coffee.)

And avoid those frothy mocha, caramel concoctions that contain hundreds of calories, or you could find yourself packing on pounds. Not a good idea if your goal is to lower your risk of cancer.

Report outlines successes, challenges in cancer prevention efforts

A new report from the American Cancer Society details cancer control efforts and outlines improvements as well as gaps in preventive behavior that contribute to cancer mortality. Increasing rates of obesity observed since the early 1980s appear to have slowed in the past decade, particularly among women and girls, but nearly one in five adolescents and about one in three adults is obese. Vaccination against the virus that causes cervical cancer is up, but smoking declines have stalled. Meanwhile, proven cancer screening tests remain underutilized, particularly in un- and under-insured populations. The report, Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures (CPED), says social, economic, and legislative factors profoundly influence individual health behaviors, and that meeting nationwide prevention goals will require improved collaboration among government agencies, private companies, nonprofit organizations, health care providers, policy makers, and the American public.

Since 1992, the American Cancer Society has published CPED as a resource to strengthen cancer prevention and early detection efforts at the local, state, and national levels. Below are highlights of this year’s report.

Tobacco Use

Smoking rates in U.S. adults and youth have stalled. Among adults, the smoking rate remained unchanged in the past 6 years (2009: 20.6%). Among high school students, the smoking prevalence did not change significantly between 2003 and 2009 (19.5%), but use of smokeless products is increasing in some groups. Smoking among middle school students also did not change between 2006 and 2009 (5.2%).

States’ funding for tobacco control ($517.9 million) in 2011 was the lowest amount allocated since the 1999 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), with only 2% of states’ revenue from tobacco taxes and the MSA allocated for tobacco control.

Federal tobacco control funding to some extent offset declines in states’ funding. Several federal tobacco control initiatives, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations and funding for tobacco control, went into effect in 2010. Provisions for tobacco dependence treatment coverage in the Affordable Care Act for previously uninsured individuals, Medicare, and Medicaid recipients either went into effect in 2010 or will be implemented in upcoming years.

As tobacco marketing and sales become more restrictive due to regulations, the industry is moving toward unregulated venues and products. For example, point-of-source advertising and promotions are increasingly being targeted by the industry, as are products such as small cigars that are not subject to the same regulations governing cigarette sales and marketing.

Overweight and Obesity, Physical Activity, and Nutrition

Currently, an estimated 18.1% of adolescents and 34.3% of adults are obese. Increasing rates of obesity observed since the early 1980s appear to have slowed in the past decade, particularly among women and girls.

In 2009, the prevalence of obesity among adults exceeded 20% in all states except Colorado (19.3%).

HPV Vaccination for Cervical Cancer Prevention

To prevent cervical cancer, vaccination against certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is recommended for adolescent girls. The initiation of the HPV vaccination series among U.S. females aged 13 to 17 increased from 25% in 2007 to 44% in 2009, and nearly one in three completed the entire series.

Cancer Screening

Mammography usage has not increased since 2000. In 2008, 53% of women aged 40 and older reported getting a mammogram in the past year. Women who lack health insurance have the lowest use of mammograms (26%).

In 2008, 78.3% of adult women had a Pap test in the past three years. However, there is persistent under-use of the Pap test among women who are uninsured, recent immigrants, and those with low education.

Colorectal cancer screening rates increased from 38% in 2000 to 53.2% in 2008; however, rates remain substantially lower in uninsured individuals. To date, 26 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation ensuring coverage for the full range of colorectal cancer screening tests.

Improving these numbers, says the report, will require coordinated efforts. “For example,” the authors write, “the price and availability of healthy foods, the incentives and opportunities for regular physical activity in schools and communities, the content of advertising aimed at children, and the availability of insurance coverage for screening tests and treatment for tobacco addiction all influence individual choices.”

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Dental Care Today

2011-05-18 / Other / 0 Comments

New Jersey Dentist Expands Sleep Apnea Expertise at Prestigious Dental Institute

As a cosmetic dentist in New Jersey, Dr. Jerry Strauss focuses on the overall oral health of his patients as he strives to create and maintain the smiles they desire. As part of his commitment to complete oral care, he often treats symptoms of sleep apnea to help his patients avoid common side-effects ranging from hypertnesion to heart disease, which is why he recently completed a comprehensive 3-day sleep apnea course at the internationally recognized Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.

Fairfield, NJ (PRWEB) May 17, 2011

At his New Jersey cosmetic dentistry practice, Jerry Strauss, DMD says he strives to provide comprehensive dental care to enhance his patients’ overall oral health. While he specializes in improving their smiles with procedures such as teeth whitening or porcelain veneers, he stresses the need to address patient concerns on a case-by-case basis, which can include a variety of concerns, from sleep apnea to TMJ treatment. As part of this dedication to providing complete oral care, Dr. Strauss recently traveled to the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI) for a post-graduate course on successful treatment of sleep apnea.

At LVI, Dr. Strauss says day-1 of the sleep apnea program included a comprehensive presentation that not only focused on the effects of sleep apnea on adults, but also how this deadly disease can affect children. Day-2 of the LVI course concentrated on obstructive sleep apnea, and the need for immediate treatment to help patients manage the disease and improve overall quality of life. And finally, Dr. Strauss says day-3 included a presentation from the Dr. Brian Allen, an expert in dental sleep medicine. Ultimately, Dr. Strauss says he has a new appreciation for the disease, adding that the course will be helpful in his practice and personal life, as he too suffers from the effects of sleep apnea.

Whether enhancing a patient’s smile with porcelain veneers, treating the host of medical problems associated with sleep apnea, or reducing his patients’ level of anxiety with sedation dentistry, Dr. Strauss says he constantly strives to create a positive experience with each office visit. Maintaining a steadfast commitment to continuing education courses is yet another essential element of his New Jersey practice’s success. As Dr. Strauss returns to his practice from the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, he says he believes he is better equipped to treat and manage sleep apnea, and help his patients continue to share their beautiful smiles.

About Dr. Strauss

Jerry M. Strauss, DMD earned his dental degree from Boston University’s School of Graduate Dentistry. He then completed a general practice residency at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, where he also served as a clinical instructor. Dr. Strauss has achieved Master Status with the Academy of General Dentistry by completing 1100 hours of continuing education, which is the highest honor the academy offers. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation.

Expanding 40 years of necessary medical care

The growing pains forcing expansion of the Henrietta Johnson Medical Center confirm how much the Southbridge health care agency has become a gem to the city of Wilmington.

Monday’s kickoff of a $4 million campaign to more than double its response to growing demand for dental care, women’s health screenings, prenatal and pregnancy care and routine family health services secures HJMC’s role as a “medical home” for the unemployed and uninsured.

And the campaign will prepare HJMC for the coming federal health reform mandates that begin in 2014.

In the last five years, requests for service grew 17 percent. Nearly 7,000 patients were serviced, with 66 percent falling below 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline and 84 percent of that group below 100 percent of the guideline. Inadequate exam and treatments rooms prevent hiring new medical staff, and women’s services are busting at the seams.

The numbers tell much about trends in unmet health needs in northern Delaware. For example, dental visits increased by 83 percent, but 10 percent of slots are reserved for walk-in emergency cases. The expansion will provide for another dentist and dental hygienist and help HJMC continue to provide health care to homeless families at no cost.

But most important, for those fortunate enough to have medical insurance, this campaign allows HJMC to continue to be a buffer against a rise in their premiums as well. Health insurers typically pass on the costs of caring for uninsured patients to those who have insurance.

Amerigroup Foundation Supports Health Services for Virginia’s Uninsured

The Amerigroup Foundation announced that it will provide more than $150,000 in support of the delivery of health care services to uninsured Virginians. The majority of this donation will be directed toward the southwest region of the state and the 2011 Remote Area Medical® Health Expedition in Wise County, Va., this July. Organizations receiving funds include The Health Wagon, the Virginia Dental Association Foundation and The University of Virginia Office of Telemedicine.

The Remote Area Medical® Volunteer Corps is a nonprofit, all-volunteer medical relief corps serving remote and impoverished areas of the United States and abroad. In Virginia, the Virginia Dental Association Foundation (VDAF), a local free clinic, The Health Wagon, and The University of Virginia annually team up with RAM to spearhead a three-day event, providing eye, dental and medical care to the uninsured and underinsured in the region.

“This project represents positive and worthwhile endeavors that promote and enhance access to health care delivery for citizens of Southwest Virginia,” said Teresa Gardner, RN, FPN, DNP, executive director of The Health Wagon. “We are very thankful for Amerigroup’s support for us to continue valuable and needed services.”

“Amerigroup has allowed us to expand our reach into underserved communities,” said Dr. Terry D. Dickinson, executive director of the VDAF. “Their support will create $1.28 million in free dental care, benefit the community at large, decrease the disparities in health care, increase health literacy and encourage better personal choices through not only the RAM Health Expedition, but also VDAF’s additional Mission of Mercy projects.”

“The University of Virginia is delighted to partner with the Amerigroup Foundation to expand access to high-quality specialty care services via our telemedicine network. We have facilitated more than 22,000 clinical encounters sparing patients more than 6.5 million miles of travel for access to health care services. In many cases, the patients we have served might otherwise never receive care in a timely fashion. This partnership enhances our ability to serve patients in need when they need care, regardless of geographic and financial barriers to access,” said Dr. Karen Rheuban, medical director of the University of Virginia Office of Telemedicine.

Last year’s RAM Health Expedition event was the largest of its kind in the nation, drawing individuals from more than 16 states. Run with the help of 1,746 volunteers, $2.3 million in free care was provided to more than 2,800 patients with 5,683 distinct encounters. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 3,000 patients.

“The Foundation is thrilled to be able to provide not only funds, but also volunteers, to support the amazing work of the RAM,” said John E. Littel, chairman of the Amerigroup Foundation. “We will be able to directly connect, better understand and strengthen the long-term health needs for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured.”

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Health Care Today

2011-05-17 / Health News / 0 Comments

Gingrich to call for health care repeal in Iowa

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich will call for repeal of the nation’s health care law and stress his opposition to a federal mandate that everyone obtain insurance coverage, as he makes his first presidential campaign foray into Iowa.

USA TODAY’s Susan Page writes today that the GOP presidential nomination is now wide open because former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has opted to skip next year’s presidential race. Nowhere is that more true than in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential caucuses nine months from now.

The Iowa caucuses are a test of a candidate’s organizational strength because it requires a presidential hopeful to get his or her supporters out on a cold, wintry night to one of more than 1,700 precinct meetings — the first step to becoming an all-important delegate for the presidential nominating convention.

Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa caucuses, in large part because of his appeal to social conservatives in the state.

A spokesman for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told Politico that the governor will tell his fellow Republicans today to step up their campaigning and go after Huckabee’s supporters.

“Iowa is a full-spectrum state, and everyone — including evangelicals — wants someone who will articulate a message of job creation and slashing the federal debt,” Branstad’s communications director Tim Albrecht told Politico. “The person who best exhibits those leadership qualities will do well in Iowa, and they should build a campaign there to prove it.”

Gingrich will talk about health care and other issues on a 17-city tour, beginning with a speech to the Kiwanis Club in Dubuque. His campaign says he’ll talk about a “patient, innovation rich” health care system for the 21st century.

The current health care system “has no incentives to provide better care or to lower costs,” Gingrich says. “Consumers have little information on which to base their health care decisions because they have no data on who provides the best care and what the cost is.”

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, considered the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, outlined his principles for a health care overhaul last week. The issue is a political liability for Romney, who signed into Massachusetts law a health care plan that includes a mandate to obtain insurance coverage that is similar to the one in federal law that Romney, Gingrich and other GOP candidates want to repeal.

Romney be in Las Vegas today to visit a fundraising phone bank and to participate in a townhall meeting on Facebook.

Meanwhile, there could be some indication of the presidential campaign plans of Donald Trump. NBC announced its prime-time schedule yesterday and The Celebrity Apprentice will go on — with or without the real estate mogul saying “you’re fired” to the show’s participants.

“If he decides to run for president and is unavailable to do the show, we will bring the show back and there will be somebody else sitting at the head of the boardroom table,” NBC entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt said.

Daily check up: Patrick’s payment bill to be heard today

A hearing on payment plan: A legislative committee this morning will vet Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to dramatically overhaul the way that doctors and hospitals are paid, shifting from a system in which they are paid for each service provided to one based on a patient’s overall care. The Associated Press reports that Patrick wants the bill on this desk by fall, but lawmakers have said they will take their time. Check back here throughout the day for updates.

Rhode Island’s Medicaid experiment: Republicans lawmakers who want to overhaul Medicaid by capping state payments and giving governors more flexibility in managing the money have pointed to Rhode Island as a success story. The state in 2009 cut just such a deal with the federal government, capping its payments through 2013. The health secretary who negotiated the deal, a Republican, says it has saved the state tens of millions of dollars. Janet Roberts of the New York Times reports, his successor, a Democrat, says he can’t find those savings.

Health care gone mobile: Patients have access to a growing number of mobile applications to help them track their weight, heart rate, and medications. Marion Davis writes for the Globe about the Boston-area companies developing the apps and how they changing the way we interact with doctors and get involved in our care.

Interpreting the pregnant pause: A Charlestown company is developing a tool to analyze not what patients say but how they say it. Through pauses in speech, stuttering, and the tone or pace of a person’s voice, Cogito Health says it can identify people at risk for depression or unlikely carry out a plan for managing their chronic disease. Globe reporter Carolyn Y. Johnson writes that the company believes it may even be able to determine when a patient’s says yes to attending a followup visit but really means no.

Kindred Healthcare Announces Senior Notes Offering

Kindred Healthcare, Inc. (the “Company” or “Kindred”) (NYSE:KND) today announced that it is planning to issue an aggregate principal amount of up to $550 million of senior notes due 2019 (the “notes”) to qualified institutional buyers in accordance with Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and to certain non-United States persons in offshore transactions in accordance with Regulation S under the Securities Act. Kindred intends to use the net proceeds from the sale of the notes and borrowings under certain senior secured credit facilities to fund its previously announced acquisition of RehabCare Group, Inc. (“RehabCare”) (NYSE:RHB) and to repay outstanding indebtedness of Kindred and RehabCare. The notes are expected to be guaranteed by substantially all of Kindred’s domestic 100% owned subsidiaries, including, following the acquisition, RehabCare and its domestic 100% owned subsidiaries.

The notes have not been registered under the Securities Act or the securities laws of any other jurisdiction and may not be offered or sold in the United States without registration under the Securities Act or an applicable exemption from registration requirements. This announcement does not constitute an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities and shall not constitute an offer, solicitation or sale in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements regarding the Company’s expected future financial position, results of operations, cash flows, financing plans, business strategy, budgets, capital expenditures, competitive positions, growth opportunities, plans and objectives of management and statements containing the words such as “anticipate,” “approximate,” “believe,” “plan,” “estimate,” “expect,” “project,” “could,” “should,” “will,” “intend,” “may” and other similar expressions, are forward-looking statements.

Such forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain, and stockholders and other potential investors must recognize that actual results may differ materially from the Company’s expectations as a result of a variety of factors, including, without limitation, those discussed below. Such forward-looking statements are based upon management’s current expectations and include known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which the Company is unable to predict or control, that may cause the Company’s actual results or performance to differ materially from any future results or performance expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors discussed below and detailed from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

Monday morning political briefing

President Obama will be back in Boston for a fund-raiser Wednesday, a week after potential GOP opponent Mitt Romney vowed to repeal Obama’s health care law. Meanwhile, the public has a chance today to weigh in on legislation aimed at cutting costs from Romney’s health-care reform in Massachusetts.

Race to 2012

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be chatting with supporters this morning in Nevada. Although Romney hasn’t formally announced his presidential run, he has been ramping up and is holding a major fund-raising event for his exploratory committee today. Voters in the Granite State, meanwhile, will get a visit from former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Friday.
The Senate will unveil its version of the state budget Wednesday, and the most highly anticipated portion of the legislation is the potential inclusion of municipal health-care reforms. The House version, including a measure stripping collective bargaining rights from municipal unions in an effort to cut costs, and lawmakers who supported the bill are still hearing from unhappy union members.


Should legislators lower the age of eligibility for a driving learner’s permit?

Yes: 15 percent

No: 85 percent

“No, the Legislature should not lower the age of eligibility to have a learner’s permit. Kids today don’t take their responsibilities as seriously as we did when we were younger,” said one Herald reader.

Scott Brown’s wild ride

The 2012 race for re-election is in full swing now that Democratic Newton Mayor Setti Warren announced he’s running against Brown. While Brown has made low-key visits across the state, Warren continues his well-publicized campaign tour this week at a breakfast in Methuen tomorrow and a delegate dinner in Ipswich Wednesday.

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Acne Treatment Today

2011-05-14 / Skin Care / 0 Comments

New prescription treatment allows Canadians to manage acne better

Galderma Canada today announced Canadians now have access to a new once-a-day combination topical acne treatment designed to help people with mild to moderate acne. Tactuo™ is the first prescription topical acne gel to combine adapalene (0.1 per cent) with benzoyl peroxide (2.5 per cent). When used together, the two ingredients work effectively to unplug blocked oil glands and eliminate acne-causing bacteria, providing fast and visible results as early as the first week of use1. Tactuo™ can now be prescribed for patients who suffer from acne.

“Acne can be a very tough experience to deal with because it is highly visible for sufferers and caused by a multitude of factors. Patients often become frustrated with multiple treatments to rid their blemishes,” says Jerry Tan, MD, FRCPC, Adjunct Professor, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario. “Tactuo™ allows patients to manage acne with one combined treatment, giving them the ability to concentrate on their lives instead of their skin. We are thrilled that Canadian patients now have access to this novel product.”

Acne affects more than five million Canadians2, with 80 per cent of those between the ages of 12 and 243. Although acne is most commonly seen as a stage of puberty, it can also begin in adulthood, with 75 per cent of adult acne occurring in women4.

Tactuo™ offers acne patients an easy-to-apply combination gel, which requires only one application per day before bed time. In most countries, Tactuo™ is marketed under the name Epiduo™, and it is already the number one prescribed topical acne medication in the U.S. The availability of Tactuo™ in Canada reinforces Galderma’s ongoing commitment to the future of dermatology by providing innovative treatment options for patients.

Acne affects millions of Canadians, and it is a common myth that it will disappear without the use of any medication. “If left untreated acne can worsen, leaving unwanted scars on an individual’s skin,” says François Fournier, President, North America, Galderma Laboratories, L.P. “As the worldwide industry leader in the field of dermatology, our goal at Galderma is to make Canadians aware that individualized treatment approaches to the management of acne are available.”

A Tactuo™ clinical trial published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology demonstrated that Tactuo™ reduced the median number of total acne lesions by more than 50 per cent at the end of the 12-week study, which was significantly better than monotherapy with either adapalene (35.4 per cent median reduction in total lesion count) or benzoyl peroxide (35.6 per cent median reduction in total lesion count) alone.5

“The need for an effective once-a-day acne treatment was clear given the prevalence of acne among Canadians and the absence of a similar combination therapy,” says Wendy Adams, General Manager of Galderma Canada Inc. “We believe that as in the U.S. and other countries, Tactuo™ will become the product of choice for acne patients. This is a unique, effective combination, which provides quick, visible results that are sustained over time. It’s an exciting time for Canadian acne patients and Galderma Canada.”

Tactuo™ is now available for prescription and at pharmacies across Canada. Patients should speak with their family doctor or dermatologist to learn more about Tactuo™ and its suitability for their skincare needs.

The Surprising Strategy That Cleared My Acne

Different from the whiteheads and blackheads that afflict many a high school teenager’s morning, cystic acne is made of achingly large and swollen bumps that form nodules deep beneath the skin’s surface. You can usually feel one ‘cooking’ for awhile before it jumps out in all its crimson glory, fated to take up residence so long on your face for so long, I used to joke that I should start charging rent.

From antibiotics to Retin-A creams to a purge of all oil-containing cosmetics in my vanity and gulping down copious amounts of water like a fish, I tried every Cosmo tip and dermatologist’s prescription. I ordered ProActiv kits under the glow of the infomercial midnight hour, and succumbed to the cutting words and extractions of estheticians who told me it was all my fault for not taking care of my skin properly. (The solution entailed seeing them monthly, of course.)

When not even fancy new microdermabrasion and laser treatments would stop the breakouts and I stopped short of trying Accutane for fear of the freak-tastic possible health effects (balding and stomach ulcers are not usually on top of my to-do list), I finally relegated myself to a lifetime of applying a daily face of heavy makeup to camouflage the unsightly bumps and purplish discoloration that breakouts left in their wake.

It was at this point when a friend mentioned she had heard that dairy could be a cause of cystic acne. In my countless visits to every kind of ‘skin expert’ out there, no nutrition-based plan had ever been prescribed. Cheese addict that I was, it seemed a painful proposition to part with my comfort food — but I was desperate. So I decided to go dairy-free for a solid two weeks as an experiment. After all, I told myself, I had tried far stranger and more arduous regimes. And if nothing happened, I could always abate my disappointment with a slice of pepperoni pizza.

During those two dairy-free weeks, something happened that I had never witnessed in all my years of high school, college and beyond: My acne breakouts ceased.

I was speechless. How was it that not a single skin expert I had seen all those years had ever once mentioned a link between food and breakouts as a possibility to me? In fact, I had once even asked a dermatologist if foods like cheese and chocolate could cause breakouts, and was only told with a shrug that there was no scientific evidence linking the two.

Reflecting on all of this now after well-earned time spent enjoying a clear complexion, I asked famed medical-turned-holistic doctor, Manhattan’s Dr. Frank Lipman, how this could be.

“I’m not sure why traditional dermatologists don’t recognize the link, because it is so very clear. Then again, doctors don’t believe that diet has an effect on many diseases. It may be because we aren’t taught about nutrition in Medical School,” explains Lipman.

Harder yet was finding an explanation as to why dairy can have such a profoundly negative effect on the skin. Again, I was looking in the wrong place by searching traditional medicine for the answer. It takes an expert in the science of nutrition, and how the body processes food, to get to the heart of the matter.

Another medical-turned-holistic doctor, Dr. Susan Blum of Rye Brook, New York, says that sugar causes inflammation in the body, which is often reflected in acne — an inflammatory condition of the skin. White sugar and dairy products, which are high in milk sugars, are prime triggers of this kind of inflammation inside the body.

There’s also another way that sugar whips acne eruptions up into a frenzy. “Many people with acne have too much yeast in their digestive tract, and yeast love sugar. So when you eat sugar, the yeast have a party, and grow. Your skin has yeast in the sebaceous glands,” explains Blum, of the microscopic cells that secrete the oil known as sebum in the skin.

“When yeast grows from the sugar, your skin reacts against it. Something about the dairy sugar is especially reactive for the yeast in the skin, so I suspect that is also something else in the dairy that causes a yeast reaction,” adds Blum.

When it comes to what else could be floating around in your dairy products, the options nowadays are endless.

“There are over 60 hormones in an average glass of milk. The process of pasteurization eliminates many of the beneficial components of milk, and homogenization creates fats that are foreign to most human digestive systems,” says Lipman.

Now before you all think I’m writing a dissertation on dairy as the anti-Christ, let me make it clear that I still enjoy some here and there. Just because you decide to eliminate something from your diet doesn’t mean that you have to abstain from it for the rest of your life, or else risk lightning striking you down as you pluck away at a piece of string cheese.

Once I cleared my system from the build-up of eating so much dairy by going off of it cold for several weeks, I’ve found that a yogurt parfait or spinach quiche here and there have no adverse reaction on my skin now. I’ll even enjoy a slice of pizza or toasted bagel with cream cheese as a treat occasionally, although I often do get a red bump afterwards. I’m a New Yorker, after all.

But in addition to drastically cutting down on dairy, I’ve also flooded my diet with anti-inflammatory foods that help balance, hydrate and heal skin from the inside, too.

Celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder is launching a book this month, The Beauty Detox Solution, that dedicates an entire chapter to the ill skin effects of dairy. With image-conscious clients on her roster, she hones in on the foods that best combat an inflammatory reaction in the skin.

Snyder recommends incorporating nutritionally dense leaves like kale and romaine into your daily diet, as well as antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies that burst with flavor and color. Zinc promotes the repair of skin cells, and can be found in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and coconut. You can also take 30mg of zinc citrate a day.

“Good” fats like those found in avocado, nuts and fish, will help keep skin healthy and glowing. Incorporating green smoothies into your diet, which I do as a breakfast ritual every day that gives me a clear mind and focused energy in addition to clearer skin, is a great way to start your day with a knockout punch to inflammation. I’ve included two signature recipes by Lipman and Snyder at the end of this story as options.

It’s of course ideal to buy organic when it comes to fruits and veggies, though if you’re budgeting, The Environmental Working Group has this handy list of the most important foods to buy organic, as well as those where organic doesn’t matter as much.

Yet don’t let the price tag of organic foods be the make-or-break factor for your decision to eat a skin-clearing diet.

“If you can’t afford organic, don’t let that deter you. Wash your produce extremely well, and you can dilute some apple cider vinegar in a soak to help remove some of the waxes and pesticides,” offers Snyder.

And remember; no matter how much good you do for your skin, you’re not going to see results unless you cut down or out the inflammatory factors. That means dairy and sugar — and according to Blum and Lipman, can also include gluten and factory-farmed meats.

Gluten, the chewy glue-like bond that comes from wheat and related items like rye and barley, can be difficult to avoid in our carb-centered society, but multitudes of gluten-free options are springing up in grocery stores and on menus alike, now that more people are trying to avoid the often troublesome ingredient in a quest for more balanced energy and health.

After going on a gluten-free stint (I now keep about 60 percent gluten-free), I can attest to the further skin-enhancing and energizing effects of freeing your diet from its doughy grasp.

Another bonus? Since aging is essentially a disease of inflammation, eating an anti-inflammatory diet will also help combat wrinkles, sagging, dry skin, and other telltale signs of age.

Friends ask me all the time how I can cut down on so much ‘fun’ food. With my palatte cleared of the junk and processed foods, I found that my taste buds readjusted pretty quickly, and I can savor the “good stuff” as far more flavorful and rich now.

I also rapidly got used to the taste of clear, beautiful skin and an overall sense of wellness and energy.

Triple whammy improves acne outcomes

Using a triple combination therapy for patients with moderate to severe acne vulgaris shows significantly improved outcomes, a study suggests.

A total of 378 patients were randomly assigned to receive 300mg lymecycline orally once daily given in combination with either topical adapalene 0.1% and benzoyl peroxide 2.5% or a vehicle gel, for 12 weeks.

Both groups showed a significant reduction in inflammatory and noninflammatory lesions at week 12, although patients taking the combination therapy displayed a faster onset of action from week two for non-inflammatory lesions and week four for inflammatory lesions.

Patients in the combination group showed a significantly greater reduction in total lesion count at 12 weeks – 74.1% – than those in the vehicle group – 56.8%.

The success rate – determined by clear or almost clear skin – was significantly higher in the combination group, at 47.6% than vehicle group, at 33.7%.

Lead researcher Professor Brigitte Dréno, head of the department of dermatology at the university hospital Nantes concluded: ‘These results demonstrated the clinical benefit of combining adapalene and benzoyl peroxide with lymecycline in the treatment of acne vulgaris.’

Got wrinkles, acne, or dark spots? Midland doctor says HydraFacial can help

Everyone wants better skin. Now a new machine claims to use science to help you get a smooth and beautiful face.

It is called the HydraFacial™, and its available at the Beauty by Rx Medical Spa, owned by Dr. Steven Morris.

The treatment first exfoliates your skin, while infusing it with serums.

These serums hydrate your skin, and specific serums can be used to treat different skin conditions, such as acne, dark spots, and even wrinkles. It also has light attachments that can treat discoloration or acne.

“There is not anybody that is not going to benefit from it,” said aesthetician Michelle Clickner.

Clickner works at Beauty by Rx.

I decided to test it out. After the intense exfoliation treatment, the machine extracts impurities from your pores.

“Can you feel the pressure, the suction of it?” asks Clickner.

I can. It is definitely an intense treatment.

“It is basically vacuuming out your skin,” I respond.

Right after the treatment my skin appeared red and irritated. I was disappointed. One week later though some acne and dry skin that I had been unable to get rid of for months started to clear up.

Clickner says it isn’t just about keeping your skin looking good, it is about keeping your skin healthy. The antioxidants in the serums promote cell health.

“People don’t realize what is available out there, and skin care has advanced so much.”

Alma Lasers pixel modules for aesthetic fractional laser resurfacing

Alma Lasers Introduces the iPixel Fractional Ablative Technology

Unique Roller Handpieces Glide Across the Skin to Dramatically Reduce Treatment Time While Delivering Safe, Effective Energy for Skin Rejuvenation

BUFFALO GROVE, Ill.,Alma Lasers Ltd., a global leader in laser, light, radiofrequency and ultrasound-based aesthetic treatment devices, today announced the launch of its new iPixel series of innovative pixel modules for aesthetic fractional laser resurfacing.

The iPixel CO2, and the iPixelEr—each feature Alma’s roller-style technology which delivers fast, safe treatments with great maneuverability and versatility. This innovative design allows the physician to glide the laser along the patient’s skin smoothly, delivering precision and an effective ablative treatment in a fraction of the time.

With Alma’s unique modular platforms, each of the new iPixel series modules can be used with existing Alma systems. This enables treatment providers the advantage of offering another option in safe and effective treatments without the need to purchase additional systems that take up valuable office space. “The iPixel series applicators are rolled across the skin,” said Alma Lasers CEO Dr. Ziv Karni. “All modules pulse energy into the thermal ablative processes while channeled through a single row of seven pixels.”

In the case of the iPixelEr, for use with the HarmonyXL, the energy delivered is impressive while treatment time is cut in half. For a limited time, the HarmonyXL is now available with all three applicator tips — the iPixelEr, the 7X7 stationary and the 4mm Erbium tips — allowing skin care professionals to choose the right technology for each patient’s needs.

The iPixelCO2, for use with the Pixel CO2 system, channels 70 Watts of energy into only seven pixels, and pulses are released as the roller wheels turn, regardless of the speed at which the handpiece is moving. “While the rollers speed up the treatment, the energy per laser spot causes fractional ablation leading to improved patient and physician satisfaction,” Karni said. “With the iPixel, the removal of fine lines, wrinkles and post-acne scars and skin rejuvenation is quicker without compromising results.”

“All skin care professionals are looking for faster, more efficient technologies without the need for costly disposables to meet the demands of time-pressed patients and revenue stream objectives. These modules provide outstanding advantages to professionals seeking the best results for their patients and practice,” said Avi Farbstein, EVP/GM of North America.

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Mental Health Today: Mental health budget targets youth

2011-05-13 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Mental health budget targets youth

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called early intervention the centrepiece of her government’s $2.2 billion commitment to mental health unveiled in Tuesday’s budget.

Ms Gillard said over $400 million will be spent treating mental health issues in youth, when sufferers are most receptive.

Flanked by former Australian of the Year and mental health expert Patrick McGorry, Ms Gillard chatted with students at a Headspace centre in Melbourne’s west on Friday.

“It’s when people are young that they’re most likely to actually confront some of the most serious mental health conditions,” she said.
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“We understand if you can reach out to the community, if you can have people come into a space where they feel comfortable like this one, if we can have them access services early, that can make a real difference.”

The $419.7 million allocation will be spent over five years to triple the number of Headspace centres from 30 to 90.

Those centres will be backed by additional Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres, which provide more intensive treatment.

Professor McGorry, who pioneered the Headspace concept, said the funding was a huge boost to a “missing stream of care in the health system”.

He said young people suffering mental health issues can heal with timely treatment, and he called the plan the “antidote” to the failed institutionalisation system.

“(This funding) is going to strengthen our country because it’s going to mean that young people can rightfully take their place in the workforce,” Prof McGorry said.

“The big thing about mental health is that it does strike people in the most productive years of life and we’ve just accepted that until recently.”

Prof McGorry said the challenge for the private board of Headspace was to ensure the funds were spent effectively.

“These are precious dollars, as the prime minister said, they’ve been hard won, we’ve got to make sure the implementation stage is done right,” he said.

Headspace acts as a first point of contact for youth, and can provide counselling and referral services.

Labor’s Mental Health Minister Mark Butler confirmed $580 million of the $2.2 billion had been redirected from other mental health announcements.

Mr Butler said the Headspace centres would be set up in areas of need, with communities able to apply to the Headspace board.

No answer yet on mental health recommendations

The province released its official response to Judge Anne Derrick’s report on the death of Howard Hyde on Thursday.

But neither the minister of justice nor the minister of health could say how many of Derrick’s recommendations will be accepted.

Instead, the 50-page document, billed as Building Bridges, breaks up the 80 recommendations made by Derrick in December into five thematic thrusts.

Those themes — training, collaboration, use of force, supports within the criminal justice system, and mental health services — include “actions,” some already announced and underway.

“We need to be able to reassure people in this province who either have a mental health disorder or are concerned about these issues,” Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said at a press conference.

“The purpose of this response is designed to put in place, fill gaps, services, better training, better communication, better collaboration between (the departments of health and justice).”

How that collaboration will look will largely have to wait until the province releases its mental health and addictions strategy this fall.

Until then, there are few details, including any new investments available.

Stephen Ayer, executive director of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, called the response an “excellent first step.”

“There’s a lot of work to be done yet, particularly the development of a mental health strategy for Nova Scotia,” said Ayer.

“We are waiting for that, and obviously, that’s going to be an important document in terms of how they’re going to move forward in terms of resourcing additional funds for mental health.”

Macarthur mental health groups welcome Federal Budget’s $2.2 billion

MACARTHUR mental health support group Beautiful Minds has applauded the $2.2 billion five-year mental health package announced as part of the Federal Budget last Tuesday.

Beautiful Minds founder Sandra McDonald congratulated the government on its investment but questioned how much funding would be poured into the Macarthur region.

“Mental health is such an under-funded area so to get an extra $1.5 billion will help address this serious lack of funding in our health system,” she said.

“People with mental illness need to be treated fairly so it’s great to see this funding coming through but I want to know how much of that will flow through to the Macarthur region.”

Mrs McDonald said staffing of mental health facilities was a big issue which needed to be addressed with the new funding. She said the Campbelltown Community Mental Health Centre had 60 staff catering to 2000 clients.

“We have such a need out here for that funding and I’d like to see additional staffing out here to help deal with mental health issues,” Mrs McDonald said.

City mental health clinic in default on bank loans

One of Baltimore’s largest providers of drug treatment services is in default on loans of up to $2.5 million, its bank says, raising questions about the financial well-being of a clinic that treats hundreds of addicts in the city.

Bank of America is suing Baltimore Behavioral Health Inc. for access to its financial records, alleging that the West Pratt Street clinic is in default and has refused to provide “critical financial information.” The bank also claims that clinic funds paid for board members’ monthly spa services, boat repairs and personal mortgage payments, an accusation that one BBH board member dismissed as unsupported “hype.”

The bank’s lawsuit, filed April 29 in Baltimore Circuit Court, is the latest in a string of recent challenges for BBH. Its revenue has dropped sharply since late 2009, when state mental health officials clamped down on its ability to bill for high-cost treatment, leading to layoffs and prompting the clinic to seek a buyer for its campus.

In late December, the U.S. Department of Labor opened an inquiry into BBH’s employee retirement plan after former workers said money deducted from their paychecks as far back as 2009 never reached their retirement plan accounts. A department spokesman this week declined to comment.

BBH, a private clinic that has received $65 million in government payments over the past five years, specializes in treating patients with both mental illness and drug addiction, mostly billing the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. It says it treats 150 people a day, down from 225 a year ago.

The clinic was the subject of a Baltimore Sun investigation last year that revealed unusually high Medicaid billings and detailed the nonprofit organization’s control by several family members earning six-figure salaries.

Terry T. Brown, a BBH vice president, said the clinic remains committed to treating patients at its Southwest Baltimore campus. To raise needed cash, BBH hopes to sell its buildings and then lease back some space, he said. The adjacent B&O Railroad Museum has shown interest in buying the property.

“I’m hoping we’re viable to withstand the changes in our economic situation,” Brown said.

Bank of America says it is demanding access to the clinic’s books to conduct an audit. It claims the clinic has denied bank officials their contractual right to review those financial records for the past nine months.

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Healthy Nutrition News

2011-05-11 / Nutrition & Diets / 0 Comments

Lavaca School Honored In National Health Challenge

Lavaca Elementary School is the only Arkansas school to receive an award in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s HealthierUS Challenge, the Lavaca School District learned last week.

According to an email from Wanda Shockey, Arkansas Department of Education child nutrition director, to Lavaca school officials, the school is the first in the state to be so honored. The elementary received the USDA program’s Bronze Award.

Only 958 of the nation’s 93,000 schools have received a Bronze, Silver or Gold award, Shockey wrote. In this round, 252 schools from 17 states received awards. Lavaca will receive $500, a plaque and a large banner from the USDA.

The HealthierUS School Challenge is a voluntary national certification program that recognizes excellence in nutrition and physical activity, according to the USDA. A key component of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative to raise healthier children, the HealthierUS program is designed to bring schools closer to compliance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations for school meals and foods.

“It’s kind of cool. … We work hard here, we really do,” Lavaca Superintendent Jared Cleveland said Friday.

The USDA award and certification though May 2015 is not the first recognition the district has received in recent months for its healthy practices.

In December, the Lavaca School Board was among six chosen statewide to receive the annual Arkansas Healthy School Board Award from the Arkansas Coordinated School Health Initiative.

Anne Sneed, Lavaca’s special projects coordinator, said the board was recognized for implementing wellness policies, health services, physical education programs, health education curriculum, nutrition/food services, staff/faculty wellness, tobacco prevention/cessation and staff training. Lavaca School Board advocacy led to:

◗ Restructuring the food-service program to include use of whole grains, low-fat milk and additional fresh vegetables. It resulted in an 8.64 percent increase in the district’s meal participation rate.

◗ Implementing the kindergarten through 12th-grade SPARK physical education curriculum, which engages students in structured activities during their PE classes. The school is designated as a SPARKPE Showcase School for the southeast region of the country.

◗ Implementing a water-only vending policy.

◗ Working to host a school-based wellness center at Lavaca Middle School. The wellness center addresses physical and mental well-being of students and also serves as a clinic for community and staff.

The Lavaca Wellness Center opened Jan. 3. Funded through a $175,000 Coordinated School Health and Wellness Center Initiative grant, its health services include eye and ear exams.

“We need to try to change learning conditions,” Cleveland said, noting that learning conditions differ at school and at home.

“My thing is you can truly interweave parental and school involvement. To encourage that, we try to instill healthy habits in students, … and kids in turn teach their parents,” he said.

The district’s Wellness Center provides the school a means to monitor and maintain students’ health. Healthy folks are happier folks, and healthy children learn better, Cleveland said.

Parents become involved because they care about their children’s health, he said.

“If we’re going to be the heart of the community, we want to be a healthy heart,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland credited Lavaca Child Nutrition Director Glynieta Price and her for the concept and development of the district’s healthy nutrition program.

Shockey said ADE’s Child Nutrition Unit worked with Price and her staff to modify menus to meet the HealthierUS requirements.

Cleveland said although only the elementary received the award, the healthy nutrition changes are district-wide. The entire district is being considered for an award at the Silver or Gold level, he said.

“We want the highest-quality food. Food that looks and smells and tastes good and that kids enjoy,” the superintendent said.

Changes include simple acts like moving to whole wheat bread, and more complicated changes like cooking from scratch, he said.

The changes also included changing the cafeteria’s environment to encourage socialization. Music plays in there now, and the students are encouraged to talk to one another.

The changes cost the district “just a hair more,” but it’s not trying to make money from its food program. Being budget-neutral is the goal, Cleveland said.

“We’re just trying, and it’s so nice to be recognized for our efforts, but we’d do it anyway because it’s for the kids,” Cleveland said.

Three Oklahoma schools were recognized in June 2009 with Gold HealthierUS awards – all of them from the Shawnee School District in Pottawatomie County just east of Oklahoma City. Their certification expires this month, according to the USDA.

The Indian food & beverage ingredients sector has been witnessing steady change. Rising awareness has shifted the focus of the industry to health from taste

Life of an average consumer today is changing constantly. Lifestyles are becoming fast paced and oriented towards convenience and solutions on- the- go. People are more aware of the interplay between the food they eat and the role it plays in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Armed with this self- knowledge, consumers are increasingly seeking food and beverages that enhance their health.

Further rapid improvement in f&b safety & quality norms is also pushing the food processors to think about healthy ingredients for their produce. On other hand industry is tackling to meet these demands with new product innovations, technologies and healthier food ingredients.

Mohan Gantra, managing director for Cloud 9, Goldwin Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, said, “In 2007-08, the health beverage segment in India had registered 50% growth rate with a market size of over Rs 500 crore. With this significant growth rate the Indian health segment would touch Rs 1,100 crore by 2012. The national market is gradually learning the world class trends of healthy eating. Little more time is required for the market to understand.”

“To make our Cloud 9 drink healthier we use natural energy boosters like Guarana, Ginseng Taurine, Pomegranate and “B” group vitamins which help keep your health in check. Gaurana is a rich natural source of caffeine which acts as a stimulant and increases mental alertness, stamina and physical endurance besides fighting fatigue. Ginseng builds mental and physical vitality and strengthens immunity, whereas Taurine work as a metabolic transmitter and also has a detoxifying effect and strengthens cardiac contractility. Pomegranate is a rich antioxidant which prevents free radicals from doing their damage and regulates oxidative stress. Pomegranate juice tends to act as an inhibitor on enzymes responsible for damaging cartilage.” Gantra said.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the global market for food ingredients was estimated to be worth roughly $25bn in 2007, and was expected to touch $30bn by 2010, demonstrating a growth rate for the market of 5-6% year on year. The Indian market has a low base when compared with the global market and was valued at $470m-475m for the year 2007, which is a meager 1.6% of the global market.

Says, Aditi Basu, senior consulting analyst for the chemicals, materials and foods practice, South Asia and Middle East for Frost & Sullivan, “Despite a low base, the scope of growth in the Indian food ingredients market is huge, given the current market size for processed foods in India, which stood at $72bn-75bn for the full year 2007-2008 and has been growing consistently at the rate of 9% year on year. The Indian food processing market is the fifth-largest market in the country and is a “sunrise sector” in India after IT. Further, growing urbanisation, changing lifestyles and the need for convenient healthy foods have ushered in a new category of functional and health foods that claim to be fortified with certain new-age health ingredients offering functional health benefits over and above the basic nutritional value of the foodstuff.”

“Today, India has become homeland for many fatal diseases like diabetes and asthma. Soya protein has been found to have a number of health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart diseases, cancer and osteoporosis, alleviating menopause problems and managing diabetes. Using soyabean as a key food ingredient will improve the nutritional status of children with a positive impact on anthropometrics and cognitive characteristics. The current health awareness will help persuade the masses to accept soyabean and its product in their daily diet,” Ricky Thaper, former consultant at the American Soyabean Association – International Marketing (ASA – IM) told F&B News.

Leading Players
Frost & Sullivan research says that there are over 50 significant market players in the Indian food ingredients market, including globally prominent ingredient companies, such as Danish group Danisco, Dutch group DSM, US group The Solae Company and Germany’s BASF, which have an entire portfolio of ingredient types. Big players have already established their presence in India. These companies operate out of their subsidiary offices in India. For most of the ingredient types, the market is fairly concentrated, with the leading players occupying nearly 60-70% of the market.

In India, food and beverage giants such as PepsiCo, Coca Cola, and Kellogg’s are drastically shifting their product portfolio to more nutritious and healthy products. Even Nestle India, a subsidiary of Nestle, is set to compete with other giants in the health foods category.

Currently, the key ingredients in the Indian market are food colours, flavours, sweeteners, antioxidants and antimicrobials, emulsifier and stabilizers. Their use in the processed food and beverage sector is indispensable. There are also a huge range of special ingredients like probiotics, prebiotics and bio-enzymes.

In addition, there are bulk ingredients like dairy, oils, fats, sugars, basic proteins, emulsifiers, acidulants, phytochemicals, sweeteners, flavours, colours, enzymes, meat seasonings, bakery mixes, fruit preps, vitamin/mineral pre mixes, etc. Other leading companies in the space are Grifith Labs, Pristine Organics, Cargill Flavours, AB Mauri, Sonarome ITC Colors and Phytotec Extracts to name a few.

Future Outlook
According to Frost & Sullivan and Confederation of Indian Food Trade and Industry (CIFTI), food wing of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the market is brimming with innovative products and is set to drive growth. There are scores of opportunities for novel product development and the growing demand for convenience foods is giving the segment a further fillip.

According to a report, consumers are expected to increase their spending on packaged foods by 56.5% per capita to $18billion by 2012. The market holds enormous growth potential for snack food, which is estimated to be worth $ 3 billion and growing at a rate of 8-20% annually. Juices and carbonated drinks are also high growth segment at 25% per year. The dairy industry, already the biggest in the world, is forecast to cross $108 billion in revenues by 2011. This will only see significant opportunities for the food ingredients market.

In addition to the growing middle class in India, urbanization, changing lifestyles and the need for convenient healthy foods is pushing the growth of the food ingredients market. As consumers evolve from a subsistence living, they invariably spend a large portion of their new income on food and as a result, they demand healthier food and beverage options. There is a catch though. Generating more income does not mean they are willing to sacrifice convenience. Consumers want healthier products but are unwilling to go out of their way to get it. This means that food and beverage manufacturers need to get creative. To offer nutrition at a convenience is one of the major reasons foods and beverage fortification is so important right now.

“Globally, food ingredients is a multibillion dollar industry and is fast expanding. Innovation in the food and beverage market, especially in the processed food domain, has created innumerable opportunities for new product development in the ingredients market as well,” Aditi Basu added.

The food ingredients sector is indicating ample prospects for growth. The segment is an obligatory factor for the growth of the food and beverage sector which is registering an annual growth rate of 14-16 %. Further the importance of healthy ingredients like soya isolate, whey protein concentrate, dietary fibres and Omega 3 fatty acids among others cannot be ignored. These ingredients are also driving the development of the wellness/ health foods industry to clock 20% growth annually.

5 healthy foods on the cheap

Grocery prices are going up, and the biggest increases sometimes seem to be for the healthier items. But you don’t have to sacrifice health for your budget. Here are five items that will feed your family inexpensively:

† Eggs: For 13 to 18 cents per egg, they pack a lot of nutrition, vitamin D and lean protein.

† Kale: At less than $1 a pound, kale is considered a super green nutritionally.

† Whole-grain pasta: For 10 cents to 40 cents per serving, this is a great source of fiber, which will fill you up.

† Apples: If you buy them bagged, each apple will cost roughly 40 cents.

† String cheese: The individual stick runs 18 to 35 cents per serving, is portable and contains calcium.

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