Thursday, January 31, 2008
I see there's a whole spate of articles on seafood isn't THAT bad for you, or this is just another silly health scare, etc. But you might want to think about where these stories are coming from.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
If you read my Natural Health article, you'll see that unless you eat unpasteurized, artisanally fermented foods, as people of old used to do daily, you probably aren't getting too much beneficial bacteria, which is essential for health. It turns out the appendix might have evolved as a storage pouch for these pro-biotics:
(NewsTarget) Theorists may have unlocked the purpose for the appendix, the organ in the gut at the juncture of the large and small intestine, long thought useless. The theory calls upon observations and experiments done at Duke University Medical Center.
While not definitive, it seems that the purpose for the vestigial organ could be to repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria after a catastrophic die-off. If the body has an exceptionally bad bout of food poisoning, diarrhea, cholera or otherwise purges the contents of the lower gut, the beneficial flora are eliminated as well.
The position of the appendix is such that it avoids the purge. The beneficial bacteria within the appendix can repopulate the gut prior to bad bacteria gaining a foothold. Some have compared it to "rebooting" the gut, which is a major part of all good holistic colon cleanse programs.
Surgeons are quick to point out that in a "modern industrial society" the purpose of the appendix is marginalized by advances in modern medicine. According to the CDC 300 to 400 Americans die from appendicitis each year out of the approximately 320,000 who are diagnosed with it. It is for this reason that the CDC and surgeons recommend having the appendix removed in the event of inflammation.
Professor Douglas Theobald of Brandies University says that the idea “seems by far the most likely” explanation, and it “makes evolutionary sense.”
This news could cause a less cavalier approach to the removal of other “useless” body parts. Professor Gary Huffnagle of the University of Michigan says, “I'll bet eventually we'll find the same sort of thing with the tonsils.”
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
This is nice news:
According to researchers at the University of Haifa, a 90-minute siesta
helps speed up the process of long-term memory consolidation.
In a recent study, Prof. Avi Karni and Dr. Maria Korman of the Center
for Brain and Behavior Research at the University of Haifa found that
an afternoon nap changes the course of consolidation in the brain. "We
still don't know the exact mechanism of the memory process that occurs
during sleep, but the results of this research suggest the possibility
that it is possible to speed up memory consolidation, and in the
future, we may be able to do it artificially," said Karni.
Long-term memory is defined as a permanent memory that does not
disappear, or that disappears after many years. Long-term memory is
divided into two types---memories of "what" (for example: what happened
yesterday or what one remembers from an article one read yesterday) and
memories of "how to" (for example: how to read Hebrew, how to drive,
play basketball or play the piano).
In the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience,
the researchers worked with two groups of participants. Group members
practiced a repeated motor activity which consisted of bringing the
thumb and a finger together in a specific sequence. The research
examined the "how" aspect of memory in the participants' ability to
perform the task quickly and in the correct sequence.
One of the groups was allowed to nap for an hour and a half after
learning the task while the other group stayed awake. The researchers,
who worked in cooperation with the Sleep Laboratory at the Sheba
Medical Center and researchers from the Department of Psychology at the
University of Montreal, found that the group that slept in the
afternoon showed a distinct improvement in their task performance by that
evening, as opposed to the group that stayed awake, which didn't exhibit any
Following an entire night's sleep, both groups exhibited the same skill
There's more to this story, but according to the ISRAELI21c sources "if
you need to memorize something quickly or you've got lots of different
activities to learn how to do at one go, better find some time for an
(By Staff, www.Israel21c.org, January 8, 2008)
Monday, January 28, 2008
From The Onion:
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Caffeine Increases Miscarriage Chances
A new study by Kaiser Permanente Research Division in Oakland, CA says that the caffeine in two cups of coffee per day can double the chances of an expectant mother miscarrying. What do you think?
Car Rental Agent
"Coffee's for saps. You really want to miscarry, you go drink yourself some bleach."
"Falling down stairs and now this? Where is a pregnant woman expected to find any joy?"
"Okay, but those expectant mothers were also playing really violent video games on a somewhat regular basis. So, let's not just blame the caffeine."
Friday, January 25, 2008
LAST Friday, in front of 4 million television viewers and a studio audience, the chef Jamie Oliver killed a chicken. Having recently obtained a United Kingdom slaughterman’s license, Mr. Oliver staged a “gala dinner,” in fact a kind of avian snuff film, to awaken British consumers to the high costs of cheap chicken.
“A chicken is a living thing, an animal with a life cycle, and we shouldn’t expect it will cost less than a pint of beer in a pub,” he said Monday in an interview.
“It only costs a bit more to give a chicken a natural life and a reasonably pleasant death,” he told the champagne-sipping audience before he stunned the chicken, cut an artery inside its throat, and let it bleed to death, all in accordance with British standards for humane slaughter.
Mr. Oliver said that he wanted people to confront the reality that eating any kind of meat involves killing an animal, even if it is done with a minimum of pain.read more here.
As always, you can use our stuff:
Ans. to secret question: Soylent Green
related articles from the blog:
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Second, they are, prudently, warning pregnant and breastfeeding women to NOT eat fish because the mercury can harm their baby...and yet INJECTING mercury and other heavy metals (at least through the digestive tract, there are certain detox mechanisms, but you bypass them all if you inject it directly) into pregnant moms and babies is 100% safe? Hello? Also, if you start with a large mercury burden in your body, give birth, then add a few pieces of sushi's worth of mercury, aluminum, etc., into a newborn, I think Grandma would say, that just can't be good...
Unfortunately, we've contaminated a perfectly healthy source of food. FertiltiyBitch's suggestion is to stay away, FAR AWAY, from tuna altogether.
From the NY Times:
Recent laboratory tests found so much mercury in tuna sushi from 20 Manhattan stores and restaurants that at most of them, a regular diet of six pieces a week would exceed the levels considered acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Sushi from 5 of the 20 places had mercury levels so high that the Food and Drug Administration could take legal action to remove the fish from the market. The sushi was bought by The New York Times in October...
“The owner of a restaurant whose tuna sushi had particularly high mercury concentrations said he was shocked by the findings. “I’m startled by this,” said the owner, Drew Nieporent, a managing partner of Nobu Next Door. “Anything that might endanger any customer of ours, we’d be inclined to take off the menu immediately and get to the bottom of it.”
Although the samples were gathered in New York City, experts believe similar results would be observed elsewhere.
“Mercury levels in bluefin are likely to be very high regardless of location,” said Tim Fitzgerald, a marine scientist for Environmental Defense, an advocacy group that works to protect the environment and improve human health.
In 2004 the Food and Drug Administration joined with the Environmental Protection Agency to warn women who might become pregnant and children to limit their consumption of certain varieties of canned tuna because the mercury it contained might damage the developing nervous system. Fresh tuna was not included in the advisory. Most of the tuna sushi in the Times samples contained far more mercury than is typically found in canned tuna.
Over the past several years, studies have suggested that mercury may also cause health problems for adults, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and neurological symptoms.
No government agency regularly tests seafood for mercury.
At Blue Ribbon Sushi, Eric Bromberg, an owner, said he was aware that bluefin tuna had higher mercury concentrations. For that reason, Mr. Bromberg said, the restaurant typically told parents with small children not to let them eat “more than one or two pieces.”
Scientists who performed the analysis for The Times ran the tests several times to be sure there was no mistake in the levels of methylmercury, the form of mercury found in fish tied to health problems.
The work was done at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, in Piscataway, a partnership between Rutgers and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School....
In general, tuna sushi from food stores was much lower in mercury. These findings reinforce results in other studies showing that more expensive tuna usually contains more mercury because it is more likely to come from a larger species, which accumulates mercury from the fish it eats. Mercury enters the environment as an industrial pollutant.
A number of studies have found high blood mercury levels in people eating a diet rich in seafood. According to a 2007 survey by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the average level of mercury in New Yorkers’ blood is three times higher than the national average. The report found especially high levels among Asian New Yorkers, especially foreign-born Chinese, and people with high incomes. The report noted that Asians tend to eat more seafood, and it speculated that wealthier people favored fish, like swordfish and bluefin tuna, that happen to have higher mercury levels.
The city has warned women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and children not to eat fresh tuna, Chilean sea bass, swordfish, shark, grouper and other kinds of fish it describes as “too high in mercury.” (Cooking fish has no effect on the mercury level.)
Dr. Kate Mahaffey, a senior research scientist in the office of science coordination and policy at the E.P.A. who studies mercury in fish, said “We have seen exposures occurring now in the United States that have produced blood mercury a lot higher than anything we would have expected to see,” Dr. Mahaffey said. “And this appears to be related to consumption of larger amounts of fish that are higher in mercury than we had anticipated.”...
“The current advice from the F.D.A. is insufficient,” said Dr. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health and chairman of the department of environmental medicine at the University of Southern Denmark. “In order to maintain reasonably low mercury exposure, you have to eat fish low in the food chain, the smaller fish, and they are not saying that.”
Some environmental groups have sounded the alarm. Environmental Defense, the advocacy group, says no one, no matter his or her age, should eat bluefin tuna. Dr. Gochfeld said: “I like to think of tuna sushi as an occasional treat. A steady diet is certainly problematic. There are a lot of other sushi choices.”
ans. to secret question: SOYLENT GREEN
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
LONDON (Reuters) - Caffeine appears to lower a woman's chances of developing ovarian cancer, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday, while smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol do not.
The benefit for caffeine drinkers also seemed strongest for women who had never used oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormones, the researchers wrote in the journal Cancer.
'With regard to caffeine and caffeine-containing beverages, we generally observed a lower risk of ovarian cancer with increasing intake,' Shelley Tworoger of Harvard Medical School and colleagues wrote."
read more here:
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Newer, Stronger Evidence Caffeine Increases Miscarriage Risk
High doses of daily caffeine during pregnancy – whether from coffee, tea, caffeinated soda or hot chocolate -- cause an increased risk of miscarriage, according a new study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. The study controlled, for the first time, pregnancy-related symptoms of nausea, vomiting and caffeine aversion that tended to interfere with the determination of caffeine’s true effect on miscarriage risk. (Embargo expired on 21-Jan-2008 at 00:05 ET)
Am. J. of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Monday, January 21, 2008
This is very retro, but I've stopped with the tampons. My yoga friend was telling me about how you need to "go with the flow," and not even do inversion poses during that time of the month. And also, in Chinese medicine, especially if you have sluggish blood, "blood stasis," like I do, you don't want to be plugging things up. Unfortunately, that makes a lot of sense. And remember toxic shock syndrome? Eeeek.
That old post is here.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I'm always happy when my rants actually start making in the mainstream. We've stopped using sunscreen (but we dont' go out and bake all day at the beach, either) and try to get some sun every day. Be not afraid, enjoy the sun!
This is hot off the press from Reuters News Service:
A little more sunshine might help you live longer, according to a study published on Monday suggesting that for some people health benefits from the sun outweigh the risk of skin cancer.
Sunlight spurs the body to produce vitamin D but fear of skin cancer is keeping many people in the shade and depriving them of an important protection from a range of diseases, researchers said.
"The skin cancer risk is there but the health benefits from some sun exposure is far larger than the risk," said Johan Moan, a researcher at the Institute for Cancer Research in Oslo, who led the study. "What we find is modest sun exposure gives enormous vitamin D benefits."
A number of studies have found protective effects from higher vitamin D intake for some cancers and ailments such as rickets, osteoporosis and diabetes, Moan said. Certain foods contain vitamin D but the body's main source comes from the sun.
The researchers calculated that given the same amount of time spent outside, people living just below the equator in Australia produced 3.4 times more vitamin D than people in Britain and 4.8 times more than Scandinavians.
This means even though rates of internal cancers such as colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer rise from north to south, people in the sunnier latitudes were less likely to die from the diseases, the researchers said.
"The current data provide a further indication of the beneficial role of sun-induced vitamin D for cancer prognosis," said Richard Setlow of the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, who worked on the study.
Getting more vitamin D -- which helps the body's immune system work properly -- is also critical for people living in places like Scandinavia where long winters and short days during the year limit sun exposure, Moan added.
In Norway, Moan estimated that doubling the sun exposure for the general population would also double the number of annual skin cancer deaths to about 300 but that 3,000 fewer people would die from other cancers.
"The benefits could be significant for people in other countries as well," he said in a telephone interview. "I would be surprised if they were different."
Moan, whose findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, recommended daily sun exposure for about half the time it takes a person to get sunburn.
Another way to get more vitamin D could be designing sunscreen that blocks long ultraviolet wavelengths that trigger the deadliest forms of skin cancer while letting through short ultraviolet wavelengths that produce the vitamin, the researchers said.
Some previous GreenFertility posts:
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
There are many reasons for maintaining a healthy weight--aiding conception is just one of them. But did you know that if you do manage to conceive, if you are obese, you're setting your child up for a lifetime of obesity and its attendant health problems? (Plus look at the stats on obese 11 month olds--what's next, in utero gastric bypass surgery?)
Newswise — The number of overweight and obese Americans continues to grow rapidly. Today, 50 percent of adults are overweight and up to 20 percent are obese. While the number of overweight/obese children is at an all time high, the steady increase of overweight infants – individuals under 11 months old – is alarming.
Research studies have found that pregnant women who are overweight/obese are more likely to give birth to heavier babies, and the risk of overweight children becoming obese adults is nearly nine times greater than for children who are not overweight. Studies also show that greater body-weight at birth and weight gain early in life increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese as an adult. Inheritance studies show that a child’s body mass index (BMI) correlates more closely with the mother’s BMI than with it’s father’s, suggesting that an interaction of both genetic and intrauterine influences, may contribute to later-life obesity risk in the offspring.
Armed with these and other data, a team of researchers from the USDA-Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center has examined whether the subtle effects of fetal exposure to the mother’s obesity can have a latent effect on the offspring. In a new report, investigators studied whether fetal exposure to gestational obesity leads to a self-reinforcing viscous cycle of excessive weight gain and body fat which passes from mother to child. The results of the new study suggest they do.
These findings add to the existing body of evidence showing that both maternal obesity and genetic background influence offspring’s susceptibility to obesity. It goes further, to highlight the role of post-natal obesegenic diet as a determinant in revealing subtle programming imposed by maternal obesity. The results also demonstrate that high levels of adiposity (body fat) occur in the offspring of obese mothers despite consuming similar calories as their lean-offspring counterparts and that offspring obesity is associated with insulin resistance. The “programming” of susceptibility to obesity occurs in the absence of changes in birth weights and other fetal outcomes.
According to Dr. Kartik Shankar of the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, “The mother’s body composition at conception has important implications for the metabolism and risk of obesity in the offspring in later years. Not only do these findings help us appreciate the reasons for the rapid rise in obesity, this novel model will allow us to understand the underlying mechanisms and should provide fertile opportunity for translational type research.”
Friday, January 11, 2008
From News Target:
There are three major issues involved with kosher meats. Kosher meats are those listed in the Bible as derived from animals deemed edible for the Jewish people. Any animal with a cloven hoof that chews its cud is allowable; conversely, those which lack both of these characteristics are forbidden. Cattle, sheep, goats, and deer are examples of kosher mammals. Horses, dogs and pigs are forbidden. Birds are allowable according to custom, but generally, it seems that birds of prey are forbidden. Chicken, quail, and doves are kosher; eagles are forbidden.
The second issue in regard to kosher meats has to do with the way the animal is slaughtered. The Bible is clear in its instruction that Jews are not to eat the animal's blood. It is also taught that man is not to cause the suffering of any other living thing. As a result, from the time of the giving of the instructions, a procedure has been carried down through the generations detailing how the throat is to be cut and the blood drained immediately. The cut is to be swift and sure, done with a knife that is always to be kept sharp and free of nicks. Done correctly, a kosher slaughter causes very little or no discernible suffering to the animal.
Both the animal and the slaughter must fit within the kosher rules. Both conditions must be met. Many people think any beef is kosher, but it is not if it was slaughtered in the most common way, which is not always humane and after which the blood is not removed.
A third rule for kosher meat is that the meat from a diseased animal cannot be considered kosher. In fact, with meat labeled Glatt Kosher, the lungs of the mammal have been checked for lesions and parasites and any other indications of illness. Only producers who have earned a disease-free status are used, and to better insure this high quality meat, the animals are given more room and not fed any animal by-products. Animal by-products, which are being added to some feed, can mean ground-up animals such as diseased dogs and cats from animal shelters, and even feces. Kosher animals such as cattle are vegetarian animals, not carnivorous; the conventional producers' purpose in adding the animal by-products is not for nutrition, but for adding bulk more quickly and cheaply. Additionally, kosher animals are young animals and so are less likely to contract diseases such as Mad Cow Disease.
The kosher slaughtering procedure has been shown to have direct results on meat quality. The purpose of this article is simply to point out these types of results. The author in no way intends to sway anyone to any specific religion. The intent is to point out that if a person still wants to eat meat, but is concerned with humane issues, he/she might want to consider trying kosher meats. Also, if a person is eliminating meat for health reasons, but really misses his/her burger, kosher ground meat might be an occasional treat to consider.
There has been much media coverage of the conditions of slaughterhouses and the disturbing treatment of animals by mainstream packing plants. Although such plants are regulated by the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (1979), the regulation on how many shots to the brain allowed is five. That means an animal can be shot five times in the head before it collapses. With kosher slaughter, the carotid arteries, the primary blood suppliers to the brain, are severed at the same time as the trachea and esophagus. Because the loss of blood is so great, as is the drop in blood pressure, the animal is rendered insensate almost immediately. Studies have shown an unconscious state occurs within seconds. This has been determined by checking certain physiological criteria related to the eyes, tongue and tail. Both the Humane Slaughter act and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have acknowledged that kosher slaughter is more humane than the common method.
The humane treatment of animals is important on a nutritional level too. Kosher slaughterers are extensively trained in how to treat the animal, the knife and the actual cutting. A gentle and calm approach on the part of the kosher slaughterer was observed to result in little or no reaction to the throat cut. Though a slight flinch was observed when the blade first touched the throat, it was a much less vigorous flinch than that of a reaction to an ear-tag punch. The animals were so loosely restrained that they could have pulled away, but they didn't. Animal welfare researchers have found that on a physiological level, all stunning methods (a form of conventional slaughter) trigger a massive secretion of epinephrine, an amount which increases with improper use of the stunning method. Other research has shown that there appears to be a fear pheromone released in the blood by animals undergoing stress.
While many consumers have been made aware of the problems with meat from animals who have been given hormones, most are not aware that hormones also enter the meat "naturally" through the bloodstreams of stressed, fearful and hurt animals. Both domestic farm animals such as cattle, pigs and poultry, and lab animals such as dogs and rats, were studied to see how fear-induced secretions affected the meat and the eater of the meat. Fear experienced during the slaughtering process resulted in elevated levels of steroid hormones, generally associated with adrenal-cortical secretions. Primary substances included adrenalin, cortisone-like secretions, and steroids which stimulate fear pheromone production. These remain in the meat and are transmitted to those who eat it. Humans have been found to be particularly susceptible to their effects. This is thought to be the cause of at least two conditions; the onset of puberty in girls at abnormally earlier ages, and 50% of impotence not attributable to other causes. ...
A more alarming finding from a study in Britain found the more meat eaten by pregnant mothers, the higher the levels of stress hormone, cortisol, was found in the child. The study looked at children born in 1967-8 to mothers who were told to eat a pound of red meat a day to avoid pregnancy complications. The cause of the higher cortisol levels was not known; it is possible that the mothers who ate the most meat experienced more stress during the pregnancy. Correlations do not prove causality, but are red flags that call for more investigation.
Furthermore, the 'bleeding out' of the kosher slaughtered animal provides an additional protection against potentially infectious organisms which are generally transmitted in the blood. Though a lot of the fluids drain out, the meat is also soaked in salt in such a way as to remove most of the remaining fluid. No precautions of this sort are ever done with the normal slaughtering procedure. Conversely, normally slaughtered animals may be treated less gently, which often results in petechial hemorrhages, (small pinpoint hemorrhages visible on the skin or other membranes). Thus, the meat contains even more blood than that from the kosher animal.
The American Health Department found that each year, one in four Americans suffer from diseases caused by spoiled food. This is significant, given that the blood is where the bacteria grow. In regard to kosher poultry, cold-water plucking is done, which helps prevent the spread of salmonella bacteria.
read more here.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
It's interesting once people start really digging for info about the food they eat, that they are shocked at our poisonous food system! This woman went from someone who "rolled her eyes" at kids with food allergies to now only eating organic! She has a whole website about her work, interestingly, one of the kids featured was diagnosed with autoimmune food allergies and then a neuroblastoma (the kind of tumor they first thought our son had). Doctors keep telling us we are merely "unlucky" or lightning striking twice, three, four times...but I'm wondering if there is a way to get more parents to compare stories. Our kids are obviously canaries in a coal mine, showing us the results of MSG in food, GMOs, pesticides, heavy metals, zillions of vaccines, etc.
In Europe, they keep a much closer tabs on these things (and chemicals) because with their national healthcare systems, they know THEY have to pay for the consequences! Maybe I should bone up on my French...
By Kim Severson
January 9, 2008
ROBYN O’BRIEN likes to joke that at least she hasn’t started checking the rearview mirror to see if she’s being followed.
But some days, her imagination gets away from her and she wonders if it’s only a matter of time before Big Food tries to stop her from exposing what she sees as a profit-driven global conspiracy whose collateral damage is an alarming increase in childhood food allergies.
Ms. O’Brien has presented her views, albeit in a less radical wrapper, on CNN, CBS and in frequent print interviews. Frontier Airlines and Wild Oats stores distribute the allergy-awareness gear she designed.
Her story is one of several in a new book, “Healthy Child, Healthy World” (Dutton, March 2008), whose contributors include doctors, parents and celebrities like Meryl Streep.
Sitting at the table in her suburban kitchen, with her four young children tumbling in and out, Ms. O’Brien, 36, seems an unlikely candidate to be food’s Erin Brockovich (who, by the way, has taken Ms. O’Brien under her wing).
She grew up in a staunchly Republican family in Houston where lunch at the country club frequented by George and Barbara Bush followed Sunday church services. She was an honors student, earned a master’s degree in business and, like her husband, Jeff, made a living as a financial analyst.
Ms. O’Brien was also the kind of mom who rolled her eyes when the kid with a peanut allergy showed up at the birthday party. Then, about two years ago, she fed her youngest child scrambled eggs. The baby’s face quickly swelled into a grotesque mask. “What did you spray on her?” she screamed at her other children. Little Tory had a severe food allergy, and Ms. O’Brien’s journey had begun.
read the rest here.
As always, to get on the New York Times' site you can use our info:
Ans. to secret question: SOYLENT GREEN
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
What's the deal with our capitalist system and the weak avowals of "the market will decide,"etc. Obviously, this irradiation is up to no good because they don't want us to be able to decide!
(NewsTarget) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to relax its stance on food labeling to allow some foods which have been irradiated to be labeled as "pasteurized" instead.
The proposed rule changes would allow companies to label food as pasteurized when the treatment of irradiation doesn't cause any material change in the product or any material change in the consequences that may arise from ingesting the product. This could include changes to the texture, smell, taste, and shelf life; as well as the nutritional, organic or functional properties of food.
"This move by the FDA would deny consumers clear information about whether they are buying food that has been exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation. . . an industry attempt to make consumers buy products that they otherwise might avoid," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy group that "challenges the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources."
Read more (blech) here.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Newswise — One in four Americans in the hospital right now has a urinary catheter. One percent of them will get a urinary tract infection from that catheter. All of those will require antibiotics. A few may suffer life-threatening complications.
And with every new case, UTIs will retain their title of “most common hospital-acquired infection,” responsible for 40 percent of infections related to hospitalization.
But despite all this, a new study finds, American hospitals don’t seem to have a consistent strategy for preventing catheter-related UTIs. In fact, the study shows, most hospitals aren’t using basic tactics that have been proven to keep patients from getting catheter-related UTIs in the first place.
The study provides the first-ever national snapshot of hospital efforts to prevent urinary catheter-related infections. It’s published in the January issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases by a team led by patient safety experts from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.
The picture that develops from this snapshot is chaotic, with nearly half of hospitals lacking a system that tells them which patients currently have a catheter, and three-quarters lacking a system that can tell them how long a patient has had a catheter or whether one has been removed. Nearly one-third of hospitals didn’t even track the UTI rates in their patient populations.
Meanwhile, less than 10 percent of hospitals used an approach that has been shown to reduce UTI rates and decrease the time patients spend on catheters: a simple reminder that asks doctors every day whether a patient’s catheter is necessary, or even makes catheter removal the default action unless a physician says otherwise.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Health Literacy Leads to Longer Life(NewsTarget) Higher health literacy is directly correlated with a longer life, according to a new study published in Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers gathered health and demographic information via interviews with 3,260 Medicare patients over the age of 64, and also gave them tests to determine how well they were able to read and understand health information. After a follow-up period of approximately 5.7 years, the researchers consulted the National Death Index to determine which of the participants had died.
The health literacy test involved reading two passages and solving four mathematic problems; participants received a score from zero to 100. Those with scores of 55 or lower were defined as having inadequate health literacy; those with scores of 56 to 66 were defined as having marginal health literacy; and those with scores above 66 percent were defined as having adequate health literacy.
The researchers found that participants with inadequate health literacy were significantly more likely to die during the follow-up period than participants with adequate health literacy. This correlation held true even after demographics, socioeconomic status and participants' health behaviors at the beginning of the study were adjusted for. The researchers further found that formal education, as measured by years of schooling, only had a very weak correlation with mortality risk. The correlation between inadequate health literacy and death was strongest for cardiovascular disease.
read more here.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
from the NY Time's Health blog:
Pregnant women are exposed to twice the amount of radiation from medical scans as they were a decade ago, a new study has found.
Although the total amount of radiation exposure to pregnant women is still relatively low, the doubling effect in just a decade is the latest indicator that medical scans are exposing patients to record amounts of ionizing radiation, a type of radiation that can alter cells and lead to health risks, including cancer.
Researchers from Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School looked at the use of several imaging techniques that can expose a patient to ionizing radiation, including nuclear medicine exams, CT scans and plain-film X-rays. They studied more than 3,200 patients who had received scans from 1997 to 2006, some of whom were pregnant. The investigators found that during this time, the number of imaging studies that would expose pregnant women to radiation increased by 121 percent. The findings are being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
The greatest increases were in the number of CT scans performed, although such scans aren’t routinely done during pregnancy. The most common scan performed during pregnancy, an abdominal ultrasound, does not expose the patient or fetus to ionizing radiation. The data showed that the use of scanning tests is increasing far more rapidly than the number of deliveries, which rose only 7 percent during the period.
Earlier this year, a government study found that the per-capita dose of potentially hazardous ionizing radiation from clinical imaging exams in the United States increased almost 600 percent in the last 25 years. The use of CT scans in particular is on the rise, jumping to 62 million in 2006, from 3 million in 1980. CT scans expose patients to far more radiation than standard X-rays.
The notion that pregnant women are also being scanned at an increasing rate is even more troubling, given that exposure to excess radiation can severely damage a developing fetus. Some of the rise is due to the fact that better technology is now available to diagnose abnormalities, said Dr. Elizabeth Lazarus, assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at Brown. She added that hospitals and insurers also want to make fast diagnoses to shorten hospital stays and improve care, which may prompt doctors to order scans more often.
In some cases the benefits of a scan to both mother and baby far outweigh the risks, but the latest data suggest doctors are not always being circumspect before ordering scans of pregnant women. “I want to assure patients that CT can be a safe, effective test for pregnant patients,” said Dr. Lazarus. “However, there are alternatives that should at least be explored. Pregnant patients should ask their doctors about other imaging or diagnostic tests that may not expose the fetus to radiation.”