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Toxic dental amalgam mercury fillings!

US issues health warning over mercury fillings

They're in millions of mouths worldwide, but have been linked to heart disease and Alzheimer's. Now a report concedes they may have a toxic effect on the body

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 29 June 2008

Amalgam dental fillings – which contain the highly toxic metal mercury – pose a health risk, the world's top medical regulatory agency has conceded.

After years of insisting the fillings are safe, the US government's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a health warning about them. It represents a landmark victory for campaigners, who say the fillings are responsible for a range of ailments, including heart conditions and Alzheimer's disease.

Earlier this month, in an unprecedented U-turn, the FDA dropped much of its reassuring language on the fillings from its website, substituting: "Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and foetuses." It adds that when amalgam fillings are "placed in teeth or removed they release mercury vapour", and that the same thing happens when chewing.

The FDA is now reviewing its rules and may end up restricting or banning the use of the metal.

Mercury is placed in tens of millions of teeth worldwide each year. About 125 tons of it is used annually in dental treatments in the EU alone. And it was used in eight million fillings (including one million in children and young people) in Britain in 2002-03, the last year for which the British Dental Association (BDA) can produce figures.

The association continues to insist that amalgam is "safe, durable and cost-effective" and "does not pose a risk of systemic disease", though it advises pregnant women to avoid "any dental intervention or medication". However, Norway and Denmark banned mercury from fillings earlier this year. Sweden has cut its use by more than 90 per cent over the past decade, and mercury use is also heavily restricted in Finland and Japan.

Mercury makes up about half of an amalgam filling, where it is mixed with silver and small amounts of copper and tin. The combination – which has now been used for some 150 years – is extremely durable, and its supporters used to stress that it locked in the mercury. They now accept, however, that mercury vapour escapes, is breathed in, and gets into the bloodstream and organs, but they also stress that levels are very low. Opponents argue that the metal accumulates in the body and no safe level is known.

Some research suggests that mercury from dental fillings may be linked to high blood pressure, infertility, fatigue, disorders of the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Dentists have been found to have high levels of mercury in their bodies as well being more susceptible to brain tumours and problems with concentration and manual dexterity.

However, a study that followed 507 Portuguese and American children for seven years after they received amalgam or mercury-free fillings found no differences in the rates of neurological symptoms between the two groups.

Nevertheless, more and more dentists – now some 500 in Britain – are setting up mercury-free practices, and more patients are demanding alternative fillings made of resin and glass.

The alternatives are more expensive and not as strong as amalgam, which leads the defenders of mercury to say that only mercury will do for molars, which carry most of the burden of chewing. And some have released another toxic material, the gender-bending chemical bisphenol A. But the alternatives are getting stronger, and the chemical is being used less in the newer products.

Even the BDA now says that the alternatives "have improved over time", adding: "Trends towards greater use of these materials imply that there is to be a sustained reduction in the use of dental amalgam."

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The sacred tree of the Druids- the oak tree!

Ancient Oak Trees Help Reduce Global Warming


ScienceDaily (June 28, 2008) — The battle to reduce carbon emissions is at the heart of many eco-friendly efforts, and researchers from the University of Missouri have discovered that nature has been lending a hand. Researchers at the Missouri Tree Ring Laboratory in the Department of Forestry discovered that trees submerged in freshwater aquatic systems store carbon for thousands of years, a significantly longer period of time than trees that fall in a forest, thus keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

“If a tree is submerged in water, its carbon will be stored for an average of 2,000 years,” said Richard Guyette, director of the MU Tree Ring Lab and research associate professor of forestry in the School of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “If a tree falls in a forest, that number is reduced to an average of 20 years, and in firewood, the carbon is only stored for one year.”

The team studied trees in northern Missouri, a geographically unique area with a high level of riparian forests (forests that have natural water flowing through them). They discovered submerged oak trees that were as old as 14,000 years, potentially some of the oldest discovered in the world. This carbon storage process is not just ancient; it continues even today as additional trees become submerged, according to Guyette.

While a tree is alive, it has a high ability to store carbon, thus keeping it out of the atmosphere. However, as it begins to decay, a tree’s carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Discovering that certain conditions slow this process reveals the importance of proper tree disposal as well as the benefits of riparian forests.

“Carbon plays a huge role in climate change and information about where it goes will be very important someday soon,” said Michael C. Stambaugh, research associate in the MU Department of Forestry. “The goal is to increase our knowledge of the carbon cycle, particularly its exchange between the biosphere (plants) and atmosphere. We need to know where it goes and for how long in order to know how to offset its effects.”

This could be a valuable find for landowners. Although it is not yet common in North America, emissions trading has been gaining popularity in parts of Europe. Also known as cap and trade, emissions trading works to reduce pollution by setting a limit on the amount of pollutants an organization can emit into the air. If they exceed that number, the group is required to obtain carbon credits. One carbon credit equals one metric ton of carbon-dioxide or other equivalent greenhouse gases.

Carbon credits can be purchased in a variety of ways. Such as: planting new trees or harvesting old wood that has stored carbon; collecting methane from landfills; or purchasing credits from other companies who have a carbon surplus by staying below their emission requirements.

This week, the California Air Resources Board announced the consideration of a large plan to fight global warming. The recommendations include reducing emissions, in part by requiring major polluters to trade carbon credits.

“Farmers can sell the carbon they have stored in their trees through a carbon credit stock market,” Guyette said. “Companies that emit excess of carbon would be able to buy carbon credits to offset their pollution.”

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Home -grown vegetables poisoned with pesticides!

Home-grown veg ruined by toxic fertiliser

Gardeners across Britain are reaping a bitter harvest of rotten potatoes, withered salads and deformed tomatoes after an industrial herbicide tainted their soil.
Caroline Davies reports on how the food chain became contaminated and talks to the angry allotment owners whose plots have been destroyed

What's the solution? Join the debate and find out more on our food blog

Caroline Davies The Observer, Sunday June 29, 2008

Mass spraying of pesticides on farms, pictured here in Florida, is putting gardens at risk. Photograph: David R. Frazier/Alamy

Gardeners have been warned not to eat home-grown vegetables contaminated by a powerful new herbicide that is destroying gardens and allotments across the UK.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has been inundated with calls from concerned gardeners who have seen potatoes, beans, peas, carrots and salad vegetables wither or become grossly deformed. The society admitted that it had no idea of the extent of the problem, but said it appeared 'significant'. The affected gardens and allotments have been contaminated by manure originating from farms where the hormone-based herbicide aminopyralid has been sprayed on fields.

Dow AgroSciences, which manufactures aminopyralid, has posted advice to allotment holders and gardeners on its website. Colin Bowers, Dow's UK grassland marketing manager, told The Observer that links to their products had been proved in some of the cases, but it was not clear whether aminopyralid was responsible for all of them and tests were continuing. 'It is undoubtedly a problem,' he said, 'and I have got full sympathy for everyone who is involved with this.'

He said the company was unable to advise gardeners that it was 'safe' to consume vegetables that had come into contact with the manure because of pesticide regulations. 'All we can say is that the trace levels of aminopyralid that are likely to be in these crops are of such low levels that they are unlikely to cause a problem to human health.'

The Dow website says: 'As a general rule, we suggest damaged produce (however this is caused) should not be consumed.' Those who have already used contaminated manure are advised not to replant on the affected soil for at least a year.

Aminopyralid, which is found in several Dow products, the most popular being Forefront, a herbicide, is not licensed to be used on food crops and carries a label warning farmers using it not to sell manure that might contain residue to gardeners. The Pesticides Safety Directorate, which has issued a regulatory update on the weedkiller, is taking samples from affected plants for testing.

Problems with the herbicide emerged late last year, when some commercial potato growers reported damaged crops. In response, Dow launched a campaign within the agriculture industry to ensure that farmers were aware of how the products should be used. Nevertheless, the herbicide has now entered the food chain. Those affected are demanding an investigation and a ban on the product. They say they have been given no definitive answer as to whether other produce on their gardens and allotments is safe to eat.

It appears that the contamination came from grass treated 12 months ago. Experts say the grass was probably made into silage, then fed to cattle during the winter months. The herbicide remained present in the silage, passed through the animal and into manure that was later sold. Horses fed on hay that had been treated could also be a channel.

Bryn Pugh, legal consultant at the National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners, said he was preparing claims for some members to seek financial compensation from the manure suppliers. But it was extremely difficult to trace the exact origins of each contaminated batch. 'It seems to be everywhere. From what I know, it is endemic throughout England and Wales. We will be pressing the government to ban this product,' he said.

Aminopyralid is popular with farmers, who spray it on grassland because it controls weeds such as docks, thistles and nettles without affecting the grass around them. It binds itself to the woody tissue in the grass and only breaks down when exposed to bacteria in the soil.

Shirley Murray, 53, a retired management consultant with an allotment near Bushy Park in Hampton, south-west London, said several of her allotment neighbours had used the same manure bought from a stables and all were affected. 'I am absolutely incensed at what has happened and find it scandalous that a weedkiller sprayed more than one year ago, that has passed through an animal's gut, was kicked around on a stable floor, stored in a muck heap in a field, then on an allotment site and was finally dug into or mulched on to beds last winter is still killing "sensitive" crops and will continue to do so for the next year,' she said.

'It's very toxic, it shouldn't get into the food chain. You try to be as organic as you can and we have poisoned ourfood. I've been everywhere, emailed all the right people, but nobody will speak on the record to guarantee what is safe to eat. We all think it is a scandal. Not to mention what it has cost in time and money.'

Pesticide expert Professor Vyvyan Howard, a toxico-pathologist at Ulster University, said it was 'a very powerful herbicide' but in his opinion was 'unlikely to pose any human health risks'. However, advice about its use should be strengthened, he said. 'I think the thing that is going to drive this is the commercial damage that could be done to market gardeners,' he said.

Guy Barter, the RHS head of horticultural advisory services, said they were receiving more than 20 calls a week. 'Our advice is not to eat the vegetables because no one seems to have any idea whether it is safe to eat them and we can't give any assurances,' he said. 'It is happening all over the country. A lot of cases we are seeing is where people have got manure from stables and the stable have bought their hay from a merchant, and the merchant might have bought hay from many farmers, possibly from different parts of the country. So they have no idea where the hay came from. So finding someone to blame is quite difficult.' Weedkiller in the soil should dissipate by next year, but in stacks of contaminated manure it might take two or more years to decay, he added.

Dow is planning a major publicity campaign to reiterate warnings to farmers over usage, and to encourage allotment holders to check the provenance of manure that they put down in an effort to prevent the problem escalating. On compensation, it was less forthcoming. 'There is no easy answer to that,' said Bowers. 'The first port of call is always where the manure comes from. From that point on, I can't really comment.

'The chain is horrendously complicated. In the cases we have managed to trace back, we might find that the farmer who supplied the manure didn't spray anything himself, but he might have bought in a couple of bales of silage from one of his neighbours, and that farm might have sprayed.'

Robin and Christina Jones spread a large amount of manure over their flower garden and vegetable patch at their home in Banstead, Surrey. When the potatoes failed, Robin took a sample to the RHS, which identified aminopyralid. His neighbour, who bought from the same source, suffered the same problems. 'We have lost 80 per cent of our vegetable patch,' said Jones, 65, a retired sound engineer. Raspberries, French beans, onions, leeks, even a newly planted robina tree were all affected. 'We are distraught. But what worries me is that the courgettes look very healthy. Had we not had the problem with the potatoes, we might never have realised. Now we are advised not to eat them.

'This is a very serious issue, and people must be made aware of the advice not to eat vegetables grown in contaminated manure.'

Sue Ainsworth, 58, an education consultant, said around 20 allotments at her site in Hale, Cheshire, had been affected. 'We first noticed with the potatoes. As they came through, they were deformed, all curled over and rotten underneath. But the worry is that the courgettes also planted on the manure are fine - but are they safe to eat? This must have affected thousands of people. I am really worried about this product and really think it should be withdrawn.'

She said the farmer who supplied the manure said he had used nothing unusual. 'But he may have bought in the straw and genuinely knew nothing about the herbicide used.'

Susan Garrett, 57, an IT consultant, said 20 plots were affected at her allotment in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. 'And that is just the plants we can see are damaged. We are angry it has been allowed to happen - not with the chemical company, but because there doesn't seem to be any protection for us or anything to stop it happening again.'

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Preventing heartburns

How pH Levels and Acidity Relate to Heartburn

Friday, June 27, 2008 by: Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D

The human body has a high water content; water is an essential medium for transportation of nutrients, biochemicals and oxygen all throughout the human body. This water-based medium may have acidic or alkaline properties that are measured by a graduated scale known as pH (potential hydrogen). Levels from 1.0 to 6.9 are considered as acidic pH, while 7.1 to 14.0 is alkaline pH. 7.0 is the neutral pH. The lower the pH number, the greater the acidity, and a higher pH number indicates greater alkalinity. The optimal goal should be a blood pH of 7.43, slightly alkaline.

Problems from imbalanced pH levels

Our diet plays an important role in maintaining appropriate pH levels in the body. Most diets can give rise to unhealthy acidic pH. An imbalanced pH can interrupt cellular activities and functions. Excessively acidic pH can lead to progression of several serious health problems such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and heartburn. Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is also known as acid indigestion and it causes the sensation of burning chest pain that starts behind the breastbone and moves forward to the neck and throat. Pain, pressure and burning can last for about 2 hours and generally worsens after eating. Bending over, wearing tight clothing, or lying down may draw attention to symptoms of heartburn. Heartburn due to gastroesophageal reflux disease is very common in adults and children. It can cause coughing, vomiting and other respiratory problems.

Role of pH levels and acidity in developing heartburn

pH levels in the body can greatly influence our overall health. Generally, our normal body pH is 7.0. However, it is not the same in all parts of the body. The pH measurement of blood is found in the range of 7.36 to 7.42. Similar to that, the pH values of the internal environment of the body range from 7.36 to 7.42. The pH level of urine may range from 4.5 to 5.0-6.0. The pH of the outer layers of our skin is 5.2. Thus, every body part has its own pH levels and its normal functioning depends upon maintaining normal pH.

pH levels and acidity can be associated with heartburn. The contents of the stomach are highly acidic, with a pH level of 2.0. It can cause symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease such as acid regurgitation, heartburn and chest pain. Excess acidity in the gastric juice in the stomach can lead to heartburn discomfort. The main cause of heartburn is irritation of the lower esophagus due to stomach acid. Generally, the esophagus has higher pH than the stomach. Open sphincter muscles of the esophagus allow the stomach acid to travel back into the esophagus. This condition is known as acid reflux. The esophagus is not capable of tolerating a highly acidic environment. When the esophagus comes in contact with stomach acid, there is an irritation of the esophagus. In some cases, it may become inflamed and damaged. People with heartburn can experience chest pain, tightness in the throat, difficulty in swallowing and other symptoms.

Heartburn may be caused by having caffeinated beverages, citrus fruits, chocolates, acidic vegetables, fatty foods, mint and spicy foods. Tobacco also can cause the heartburn.

Complications of heartburn

If the heartburn arising from the acidity is not treated properly, it can give rise to three main complications:

* narrowing of the esophagus

* ulcers of esophagus

* Barrett's esophagus

Narrowing of the esophagus may result from the damage to the esophageal lining due to frequent contact with stomach acid. The esophagus tries to heal itself by developing scar tissues over the damaged areas, which can cause narrowing of the esophageal tube. There may be swelling of the esophagus, which can also cause narrowing. Large pieces of food sometimes get stuck in the narrowed sections, which can cause difficulty in swallowing.

Damage to the esophagus can lead to some serious conditions such as ulcers or sores. These wounds may be painful and bloody and cause difficulty in eating. Barrett's esophagus is another serious condition caused by heartburn. It does not give rise to any symptoms and can be diagnosed by endoscopy. Due to repetitive exposure to stomach acid, the cells in the esophagus change themselves to appear like the cells in the small intestine. People with Barrett's esophagus are at higher risk of developing the cancer of the esophagus.

Treatment of heartburn

Acid suppression is the process that is used in conventional medicine for reducing the acid secretion in the stomach with synthetic drugs, but it can be accomplished with natural products and a change of diet. Having less acidity in the stomach causes less damage if it washes up into the esophagus. It can help to heal and prevent the esophagus damage resulting from GERD. Synthetic medications like antacids, sodium bicarbonates, H2-receptor antagonists, alginates and proton-pump inhibitors that are used for the treatment of heartburn due to acidity will stop the acid but prolong the problem and may lead to cancer of the esophagus.

I recommend perfectlyhealthy products for treatment of heartburn, including Heartburn Ease to heal the esophagus, along with Mega Greens plus MSM and pH Plus to achieve the proper pH level. To test your pH levels I recommend the perfectlyhealthy pH strips. Digestive Enzymes and Aloe Vera Gel are also helpful tools to stop the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. For more information and nutritional recommendations along with a protocol on how to stop taking synthetic antacids, visit (www.perfectlyhealthy.net) .

About the author
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. has specialized in Integrative Medicine for over twenty years, using conventional and natural methods to determine and discover the "root of the cause" in her clinic, South Coast Medical Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California, each and every day. Many people come in to the clinic from all over the world with severe chronic illnesses that conventional medical protocols have been unsuccessful treating. She realized early on that she can truly change lives through education as well as treatment protocols.
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. and her medical staff strives to look at the whole person while exploring the effects and relationships among nutrition, psychological and social factors, environmental effects and personal attunement. Out of frustration of trying to find the right products to help her patients she formulated the perfectlyhealthy brand of products. All perfectlyhealthy products are clinically tested. For more information on recommended products, please visit www.perfectlyhealthy.net or www.perfectlyhealthy.com.

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Tomatoes benefit on cancer

Beyond Lycopene: Scientists Study Health Benefits of Phytoene and Phytofluene From Tomatoes

Friday, June 27, 2008 by: David Gutierrez

The health benefits previously believed to come from the lycopene in tomatoes may actually come from different phytocompounds altogether, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and published in the journal Nutrition Research.

Researchers fed male rats a diet containing tomato powder for 30 days, then analyzed which compounds accumulated in the animals' prostate glands and livers. They found that in addition to lycopene, phytoene (PE) and phytofluene (PF) also accumulated in both glands.

PF concentrated more in the liver than PE or lycopene did, whereas lycopene concentrated most in the prostate, followed by PF and then PE.

In a follow-up experiment, the researchers fed the rats either a single dose of PE or a single dose of PF. In both groups, the concentrations of the chemicals in all tissues examined increased, with the exception of the adrenal gland.

"Results from this work provide a better understanding of relative PE and PF tissue accumulation, compared to lycopene," said lead author Jessica Campbell.

Lycopene is most well known for the role it might play in preventing prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States, and is the second most lethal cancer, behind lung cancer. Prostate cancer is estimated to kill 200,000 people around the world each year, with 500,000 new cases yearly. The incidence of prostate cancer has increased by 1.7 percent over the past 15 years.

The FDA has approved claims that tomatoes reduce the risk of gastric, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancers. But the FDA has raised doubt as to the effectiveness of lycopene alone in protecting against cancers, saying that the evidence does not support this claim. Instead, the agency believes that tomatoes' protective effects come from either a different compound, such as PE or PF, or a synergy between various ingredients.


Toxic sofas

At least 1,000 people suffer horrific burns from 'toxic' leather sofas

By Lucy Ballinger
Last updated at 6:33 PM on 28th May 2008

At least 1,000 people have suffered horrific burns from leather sofas sprayed with a toxic substance to stop them going mouldy.

Baby Archie Lloyd-Bennett is among the victims who have suffered chronic skin complaints from contact with one of the sofas.

He suffered blisters all over his body after lying on the chair, and has had hospital treatment for the angry red burns.

The nine-month-old boy now has seven lotions, creams and pills to treat his condition.

The Chinese-made settees are sold by High Street chain Argos and Land of Leather for between £600 and £850

Victims have visited A&E departments and doctors' surgeries with severe skin complaints after buying the leather suites from the shops.

The chairs had been treated with a fungicide to stop them going mouldy in storage. But the substance triggered violent irritant-related eczema in some customers

Baby Archie's mother Rebecca Lloyd-Bennett, 25, had to take her son to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

'He was red raw after lying on the sofa in his nappy,' Mrs Lloyd-Bennett told The Sun.

'He has been in agony. It is very itchy and he now has gloves to stop him scratching.'

The family's dog Kes was also affected by the toxic chemical. His hair fell out and he needed £1,000 of vet's treatment.

Solicitors have been approached by customers who have suffered from serious skin complaints from the settees, including one who claimed they were hospitalised for a week.

Last year there were 60 complaints about sofas from Argos and northern chain Walmsley's bought from the Linkwise Furniture factory in southern China.

Customers were told that not everyone who bought a sofa would suffer a reaction but the number was high enough to call it a 'widespread' outbreak.

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Medical practice

One in four child deaths is 'avoidable' says report exposing wrong diagnoses and treatments

Last updated at 23:29pm on 28.06.08

Failures in care by medical professionals, social workers and parents are responsible for one in four child deaths, according to a Government-backed report.

A panel of experts reviewed 126 deaths in one year and found 'avoidable factors', such as doctors misdiagnosing a serious illness or giving the wrong treatment, in 26 per cent of cases.

A further 43 per cent were due to 'potentially avoidable factors' – including missing important immunisations or delays in treatment.

The study, by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), found that in two thirds of the cases, the children died in hospital, many of them on emergency wards staffed by a high ratio of junior doctors with little paediatric training.

The review, the first of its kind, was funded by the Department of Health. It highlighted the fact that levels of experience and standards of care for children 'vary considerably' across the country.

It states: 'We have found, throughout this review, examples of failure to make thorough examinations and correctly interpret clinical signs. In some cases these failures have made significant contributions to the child's death.

'The errors concerned were repeated and compounded by the fact that the principal assessment was being performed by a junior doctor with no postgraduate training in paediatrics in settings where there was no supervision by an experienced specialist or paediatrician.'

The study team collected data on children under 18 who died in 2006 and the experts evaluated more than 120 deaths in detail. Around 3,000 children die in Britain every year.

Deaths were categorised as 'avoidable' if the panel found 'failures in the child's direct care by any agency with responsibility for the child'.

They were classed 'potentially avoidable' if no agency was directly involved with a child's care but should have been.

In one case highlighted by the report, a seven-month-old baby was twice sent away from a hospital's emergency ward just hours before dying from meningitis, after a junior doctor wrongly blamed the fever on a routine immunisation.

A ten-year-old boy known to have high blood pressure died of a brain swelling after nurses failed to read his blood pressure and lost his medical notes.

And one GP sent a baby with worsening breathing problems home to wait for an ambulance, during which time the child died.

The study criticised doctors for failing to examine and observe sick children properly, failing to recognise serious illnesses and their complications and not following published guidance on treating child patients.

There were also examples of cases where medical records were incomplete or inaccurate.

Conservative health spokeswoman Anne Milton said the report sent a 'sobering' message to Government.

'It is important Ministers take into account the advice to help reduce avoidable deaths,' she said.

The College of Emergency Medicine said it was 'fully aware' of inadequacies in emergency departments, which treat 3.5million children every year.

It said medical school prepared graduates very poorly for paediatric emergency care.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also called for improved training.

Acknowledging the importance of the report's findings, Dr Sheila Shribman, National Clinical Director for Children, said: 'We will look to the National Patient Safety Agency to work with CEMACH to consider how to take this important work forward.

'The inquiry also found many examples of high-quality care – there is much good practice we can all learn from.'

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Prepare for "cold" times

Stock up on Long Underwear!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sun Cycles, Always have, always been. Like clockwork. Of course it will get warmer, and of course it will get cooler. It has nothing to do with what the likes of Al Gore and the media spew forth, other than bilking you out of billions of dollars to enrich others.

Something May be Wrong with the Sun--and the Weather Could Get COLDER

The disappearance of sun spots was the hot topic at a recent international solar conference held at Montana State University. For the past two years, the sun has undergone a phase of relative inactivity, meaning usual solar phenomena such as sun flares, sun spots, and solar eruptions have all but disappeared.

"It's a dead face," Saku Tsuneta said of the solar surface. Tsuneta is with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and was one of the participants at the MSU conference

The good news is that without such intense solar activity disruptions to space technology and even our beloved gadgets here on earth have been minimal. While this provides some relief to those of us whose cell phones dropped calls at the tiniest solar flare, scientists are concerned that this means bigger things to come for Earth's climate.

Dana Longcope, a solar physicist at MSU, explained that the sun generally runs on an 11-year cycle and that there is usually a minimum of activity as the cycles change. The last cycle peak was in 2001 and the next cycle is predicted to peak around 2012. The sun is now as inactive as it was two years ago, and scientists aren't sure why. Some have even suggested that the inactivity portents the beginning of a new ice age. Geophysicist Phil Chapman, the first Australian NASA astronaut, confirmed that there are indeed no sun spots currently on the solar surface. He also noted that the earth cooled by about 0.7 degrees Celsius between January 2007 and January 2008. "This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record, and it puts us back to where we were in 1930," Dr Chapman says.

Oleg Sorokhtin is also certain that it's an indication of a coming cooling period. Dr. Sorokhtin is a fellow at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. He warns that climate change caused by man is "a drop in the bucket" compared to the fierce cold that inactive solar phases can bring.

In fact, 350 years ago, the sun experienced its longest recorded period of inactivity lasting over 50 years. During the same period, approximately 1650 - 1700, the Earth experienced a "mini" ice age. Some scientists maintain that this was only a coincidence, but others are not as sure.

Dr. Sorokhtin's advice: "Stock up on fur coats."

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Bees trying to adapt

Bees seeking 'sugary' garden pest

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website
27 June 2008 08:03 UK

A lack of suitable flowers may be forcing bumblebees to seek out aphids to feed on their sugary secretions.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BCT) said it was a behaviour that appeared to be becoming increasingly common.

Images captured by the BBC Scotland news website in a garden in Nairn, in the Highlands, show the bees visiting tree leaves covered with aphids.

The secretions offer a substitute for nectar, but do not contain the protein the insects need to stay healthy.

There have been warnings that bumblebee and wild bee populations around the UK are experiencing "catastrophic declines".

Bees are important pollinators of flowers and crops.

The bumblebees' behaviour of feeding on secretions from aphids could be a further sign of the problems facing the insects.

"There is a fine balance to be struck in the garden - the answer is to put plants in the garden that are of benefit to bees"
Craig Macadam
Buglife Scottish officer

Dr Ben Darvill, a BCT director and research ecologist based at the University of Stirling, said there have been several reports of the behaviour but the reason for it remained unclear.

He said: "It's hard to say for sure, but it does seem as if this behaviour is becoming more common.

"Bumblebees are known to feed from aphid secretions, and from extra-floral nectaries on unlikely plants like bracken - but it's more usual to see it in upland areas where there are few other flowers around.

"The fact that it is now frequently observed elsewhere may suggest that there are fewer of the right sorts of flowers around in people's gardens and in the wider countryside."

Dr Darvill said a fascinating aspect of the behaviour was the bumblebees' ability to apparently smell the sugar.

They normally choose flowers by colour, but are known to have "smelly feet" allowing them to detect if a flower has already been visited by another bumblebee for its pollen.

However, the intrigue is tinged with concern for the insects.

Dr Darvill said: "Bumblebees have struggled in recent decades from habitat loss - three species are extinct in the UK and many more are threatened - so perhaps bumblebees are having to find innovative ways of finding food."

But he added: "Although the aphid secretions provide them with a sugary solution, a substitute for nectar, they provide no protein.

"Bumblebees can only get their protein from pollen, which they feed to their growing young, so it is essential for a healthy population."

Research work at the University of Stirling, has demonstrated that certain pollens are particularly rich in protein, said Dr Darvill.

He said to help declining bumblebees, gardeners, farmers and land managers need to ensure a constant supply of forage plants from March through until September.

Flowers from the pea and mint families seem to be particularly beneficial.

Craig Macadam, Scottish officer with conservation group Buglife, said aphids were considered a garden pest but he would not wish to see them wiped out.

He said: "Ants often protect the aphids from other predators such as ladybirds and in return they take the honey dew secreted by the aphids.

"There is a fine balance to be struck in the garden - the answer is to put plants in the garden that are of benefit to bees."


Toxic pollen

Toxic pollen from genetically modified corn kills monarch butterflies, researchers find in lab tests

By Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.

An increasingly popular commercial corn, genetically engineered to produce a bacterial toxin to protect against corn pests, has an unwanted side effect: Its pollen kills monarch butterfly larvae in laboratory tests, according to a report by Cornell researchers.

Writing in the May 20 issue of the journal Nature, the researchers note that this hybrid crop, known as Bt-corn, has genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) spliced into the plant genes. These hybrids are very effective against the ravenous European corn borer, a major corn pest that is destroyed by the plant's toxic tissue. The engineered corn is safe for human consumption.

Unlike many pesticides, the Bt-corn has been shown to have no effect on many "nontarget" organisms -- pollinators such as honeybees or beneficial predators of pests like ladybugs. But the Bt-modified corn produces pollen containing crystalline endotoxin from the bacterium genes. When this corn pollen is dispersed by the wind, it lands on other plants, including milkweed, the exclusive food of monarch caterpillars and commonly found around cornfields.

John E. Losey, Cornell assistant professor of entomology and the primary investigator on the study, said: "We need to look at the big picture here. Pollen from Bt-corn could represent a serious risk to populations of monarchs and other butterflies, but we can't predict how serious the risk is until we have a lot more data. And we can't forget that Bt-corn and other transgenic crops have a huge potential for reducing pesticide use and increasing yields. This study is just the first step; we need to do more research and then objectively weigh the risks versus the benefits of this new technology."

Like all grasses, corn is wind-pollinated, and the pollen can be blown more than 60 yards from the edge of cornfields. "Pollen is that yellow dusting your car gets on spring and summer days; pollen is everywhere," explained Losey. "That's why we are concerned about this problem."

Other researchers on the study were Linda S. Rayor, Cornell instructor in entomology, and Maureen E. Carter, Cornell research aide.

"Monarchs are considered to be a flagship species for conservation. This is a warning bell," said Rayor. "Monarchs themselves are not an endangered species right now, but as their habitat is disrupted or destroyed, their migratory phenomena is becoming endangered."

In the laboratory tests, monarchs fed milkweed leaves dusted with so-called transformed pollen from a Bt-corn hybrid ate less, grew more slowly and suffered a higher mortality rate, the researchers report. Nearly half of these larvae died, while all of the monarch caterpillars fed leaves dusted with nontransformed corn pollen or fed leaves without corn pollen survived the study.

The toxin in the transformed pollen, the researchers say, goes into the gut of the caterpillar, where it binds to specific sites. When the toxin binds, the gut wall changes from a protective layer to an open sieve so that pathogens usually kept within the gut and excreted are released into the insect's body. As a result, the caterpillar quickly sickens and dies.

Bt-engineered corn is among the first major commercial successes for agricultural biotechnology. Last year, more than 7 million acres of the hybrid crop were planted by U.S. farmers primarily to control the European corn borer. Before the advent of Bt-corn, this pest was extremely difficult to control because it bores into the stalk, where it is protected from pesticides. It produces several generations a year. Because it was so difficult to control effectively with pesticides, annual losses averaged $1.2 billion.

In contrast, Bt-corn provides essentially total season-long control at a reasonable cost without the use of pesticides. At least 18 different Bt-engineered crops have been approved for field testing in the United States. As of last year, transformed corn, potatoes and cotton had been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for commercial use.

Several factors make monarch caterpillars particularly likely to make contact with corn pollen, Losey said. Monarch larvae feed exclusively on milkweed because it provides protection against predators. The plant contains cardenolides, which are toxic, bitter chemicals that the monarch caterpillar incorporates into its body tissues, rendering it unpalatable to predators. Milkweed grows best in "disturbed" habitats, like the edges of cornfields, Losey noted.

The butterflies overwinter in Mexico and by the spring begin migrating north. The first generation of the year crosses into Texas, other Gulf Coast states and Florida, seeking milkweed on which to lay their eggs and feed. By late May or early June, the second generation of adults has emerged and heads north to areas including the Midwest Corn Belt. Monarch caterpillars are feeding on milkweed during the period when corn is shedding pollen, Losey said. Thus "they may be in the right place at the right time to be exposed to Bt-corn pollen."

May 20, 1999

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20,000 persons die daily by cancer

Whilst 3000 a day die just from the pharmaceutical industry a day in the United "Corp" States. Making Sept 11 2001 simply a regular day occurance and some. -Craig

20,000 People Die Every Day From Cancer Across the Globe

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 by: David Gutierrez

Cancer is currently responsible for 20,000 deaths per day across the world, or 7.6 million people a year, according to a new report published by the American Cancer Society. In addition, 12 million people are diagnosed with some form of cancer every year.

The report, titled "Global Cancer Facts and Figures 2007" is based on data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and compares the rates of different cancers between the developed and less developed world.

Of the anticipated 7.6 million cancer deaths in 2008, 2.9 million are expected in the developed world, while 4.7 are expected to occur in less developed countries. Approximately 5.4 million new cancer cases are expected in developed countries, and 6.7 million in those less developed.

The report notes that the most common cancers vary between the developed and less developed world. In developed countries, breast, colorectal and lung cancer are the most common forms of the disease in women. While breast cancer is still number one in the less developed world, it is followed by cervical and stomach cancer. Among men, prostate, lung and colorectal cancers are most common in the developed world. In the less developed world, the most common cancers are of the stomach, lungs and liver.

Cancers caused by infection are much more common in the less developed world, accounting for 26 percents of cancers as opposed to 8 percent in the developed world. These infections include the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach cancer, and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.

Survival rates also differ, in particular among children. In Europe and North America, 75 percent of children with cancer live at least five years, while in Central America the figure is only 48 to 62 percent.

The report said that cancer rates and mortality are expected to rise in the less developed world as those regions increasingly adopt a lifestyle similar to that of developed nations, including "cigarette smoking, higher consumption of saturated fat and calorie-dense foods, and reduced physical activity."


One in 9 emergency cases caused by pharmaceuticals intake

One in Nine Emergency Room Visits Caused by Pharmaceuticals

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 by: Heidi Stevenson

A Vancouver, Canada study has documented that 12% of emergency room (ER) visits were the direct result of problems with a pharmaceutical drug. The length of stay for those admitted to the hospital was significantly longer.

When a study is well-designed, it's quite remarkable how often the result documents the high risks associated with conventional medical care. Once again, it's clear that pharmaceutical drugs carry great risks. However, as discussed at the end of this article, this study documents only a very small proportion of harm done by pharmaceutical drugs.

Study Design

The study, reported by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, was carefully designed by a panel of eleven pharmacists and doctors. The hospital was Vancouver General Hospital, which is large (955 beds) and offers a wide range of services, including emergency care. About 69,000 patients are treated every year.

The study team practiced the data collection process on real patients during a four week trial period. Three pharmacy research assistants who had been through pharmacy residency collected the data. The attending physician was asked his or her opinion of the reason for admission. If there was a discrepancy between the physician's and pharmacist's opinions, a panel consisting of one emergency doctor and one pharmacist adjudicated. To be included in the study, both panel members had to agree, with a high degree of certainty, that the cause was pharmaceutical.

Patients were randomly selected through use of a computer random number generating program. Any patient who had been transferred from another hospital or was returning for a scheduled visit was not included.

During the course of the study, 14,911 emergency patients were seen by the hospital. Of those, 1,194 were randomly selected and considered for the study. The number of study patients was 1,017. Of these, 122 -- 12% -- were seen for prescription drug-related problems. Of those, the study determined that 83 -- 68% -- were preventable.

Characteristics of patients who were in ER for pharmaceutical problems:

* Average age was 51.9.

* 62 (50.8%) were female.

* Number of comorbidities (other conditions) was 2.5 .

* Only 8 (6.8%) of the 117 used any complementary or alternative medications. The authors never stated whether they were the cause of any of the ER visits. However, of the people in ER for non-drug related reasons, 11.1% had used complementary/alternatives. That is, the alternative medicine users were 61.2% less likely to require ER services for complications with pharmaceuticals. (This point was not made by the authors, but the data clearly supports the statement.)

Study Results

The most significant types of drugs that sent people to the ER are as follows:

* Antimicrobial agents (mostly antibiotics), 11.2%

* Opioids, 11.2%

* Antipsychotics, 9.5%

* Benzodiazepines, 6.1%

The authors defined 68.0% of the pharmaceutical-caused ER visits as preventable.

Severity of the incidents were classed as:

* Mild, 19 cases (15.6%), not requiring treatment.

* Moderate, 91 cases (74.6%), requiring treatment or hospital admission, or resulting in non-permanent injury.

*Severe, 12 cases (9.8%), life threatening or resulted in permanent disability.

Causes of drug-induced ER visits were defined as follows:

* Adverse drug reactions, 393%

* Non-adherence to instructions, 27.9%

* Wrong or suboptimal drug, 11.5%

36.9% of those who went to the ER because of pharmaceutical problems were hospitalized, while 21.0% who went for other reasons ended up hospitalized. The median length of stay for the drug-related cases was significantly longer: 8 days, 2 days longer than the non-drug cases.

What This Study Shows Us

It's certainly interesting that we can confidently state that pharmaceutical drugs account for 12% of emergency room visits. This, though, is probably a very small percentage of the true pharmaceutical holocaust. Most drug-induced illnesses are never officially acknowledged. When a person develops Cushing's syndrome, the fact that it was likely caused by prescribed steroids is not generally noted and would not have been picked up by this study. In fact, the host of serious illnesses caused by steroids would not have shown up. The multitude of people who have become diabetic or developed heart disease is not figured in here. Other drugs, such as beta blockers, cause a huge amount of illness, though the connection between the drug and the illness is rarely made.

As demonstrated over and over on Natural News, the effects of pharmaceutical drugs are rarely benign. There is usually a price to be paid for using them. Occasionally, the price is a trip to the ER, or even death directly induced by the drug. In far more cases, though, the effects are seen months, often years, later, and the connection to the drug is never made.


Canadian Medical Association Journal, "Incidence, severity and preventability of medication-related visits to the emergency department: a prospective study", 2008;178(12):1563-9

About the author
* Heidi Stevenson, BSc, DIHom, FBIH
* Fellow, British Institute of Homeopathy
* Gaia Therapy (http://www.gaia-therapy.com)
* The author is a homeopath who became concerned with medically-induced harm as a result of her own experiences and those of family members. She says that allopathic medicine is the arena that best describes the motto, "Buyer beware."
* Iatrogenic disease is illness, disability, and death caused by medical practice. It is common, resulting in huge costs to society and individuals. It's possible - even common - to suffer an iatrogenic illness without realizing its source.
* Heidi Stevenson provides information about medically-induced disease and disability, along with incisive well-researched articles on major issues in the modern world, so members of the public can protect themselves.

Vitamin K and chronic inflammations

Vitamin K Reduces Chronic Inflammation Throughout the Body

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 by: David Gutierrez | Key concepts: vitamin K,

Higher vitamin K1 intake may decrease the incidence of the inflammation that has been linked to a variety of diseases, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

"Our findings provide one potential alternative mechanism for a putative protective effect of vitamin K in the progression of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, since both diseases are characterized by inflammation," the researchers wrote.

Researchers analyzed data from 1,381 participants in the Framingham Offspring study to determine blood vitamin K levels and dietary intake of vitamin K1 and vitamin D, as well as the occurrence of inflammation biomarkers. The participants had an average age of 59, and 52 percent were women.

The researchers found that higher blood levels and dietary intake of K1 was correlated with lower levels of 14 different inflammation biomarkers. After the researchers adjusted to exclude people with heart disease, increased vitamin K1 intake still correlated with lower levels of five specific biomarkers: a 15 percent reduction in CD40 ligand, 8 percent reduction in interleukin-6 concentration, 4 percent reduction in serum osteoprotegerin concentration, a 4 percent reduction in tumor necrosis factor receptor-2 and a 3 percent reduction in intracellular adhesion molecule-1 concentration.

Increased vitamin D intake was correlated with a decrease in one inflammation biomarker, urinary isoprostane.

The correlations held up even after the researchers adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, use of drugs including aspirin or statins, time of year and whether female participants were using hormone replacement therapy after menopause.

Vitamin K occurs in three main forms: phylloquinone or phytonadione, known as vitamin K1; and menaquinones, known as vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 can be synthesized by the human gut, and is also found in meat and fermented food products. Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables, including broccoli, lettuce and spinach. Vitamin K3, a synthetic form, is not recommended for humans.

Treating asthma through playing music

Boy beats asthma by playing euphonium

By Nigel Bunyan
Last Updated: 1:40AM BST 27/06/2008

Ryan Harrison, was diagnosed with the condition as a baby, and would get breathless when just standing and talking.

But six months after beginning lessons on the brass instrument, which looks like a small version of a tuba, his symptoms have diminished.

His mother, Marie Johnson, 32, said: "He began playing at the beginning of the year, and within a couple of weeks his breathlessness completely disappeared. Since then he has had no wheezing at all.

"I've heard of wind instruments helping children with asthma and I think it has helped Ryan manage his breathing and strengthened the muscles in his diaphragm.

"He still has sinus problems and sounds bunged up, but the wheezing has stopped."

The mother-of-three, of Chester-le-Street, whose son now plays with the West Pelton District and Community Brass Band, added: "Ryan is really pleased because it has made a massive difference to his quality of life.

"Beforehand he could get breathless just standing and talking. That was quite frightening and it would happen at least once a week.

"I would definitely recommend trying a wind instrument to others with asthma as it's another option which doesn't involve medication".

Leanne Male, assistant director of research at Asthma UK, said: "There has been very little scientific research on the benefits of wind and brass instruments to people with asthma.

"However, there seems to be increasing amounts of anecdotal evidence suggesting that it does help some people with asthma to better manage their condition.

"We think this is likely because musicians learn to focus and be aware of their breathing. They are also strengthening the muscles involved in breathing."

She added: "Asthma UK is all for people trying new breathing techniques or taking up wind instruments, as long as they continue to take prescribed medication".

The risks of using Roacutane for acnee

The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Your Depression Risk

Thursday, June 26, 2008 by: Seppo Puusa

More evidence has come in on the dangerous side effects of Accutane, the powerful acne drug, that is also known as Roaccutane in Europe. A Canadian study confirms that Accutane increases depression risk. The study found that Accutane more than doubles the risk of depression.

The study is the first controlled investigation to find a statistically substantiated link between isotretinoin (the active ingredient in Accutane) and depression, Dr. Anick Berard, from CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre in Montreal, and colleagues stated in a report in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

The researchers studied 30,496 people from Quebec who had at least one prescription of Accutane between 1984 and 2003. Among these people, 126 had a reported depression case. The researchers looked for Accutane use five months before the reported depression case (risk period) and compared it to a five-month control period. After adjusting for potential risk factors for depression, the study found that exposure to Accutane increases the risk of depression by 2.6 times.

The research report finishes by recommending that "current guidelines should possibly be modified to include psychiatric assessments of patients prior to and during isotretinoin therapy."

There are two known pathways Accutane can lead to depression: lower availability of serotonin and decreased brain activity in the areas that mediate depression.

Earlier research has shown that Accutane reduces the availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is also known as the "feel good" hormone. Low levels of serotonin have been linked consistently to many psychiatric symptoms, such as aggression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal ideation. Naturalnews reported about the study here: Suicide Link to Acne Drug Officially Established.

Among other side effects, Accutane increases sensitivity to sunlight. And dermatologists advice patients to avoid sunlight while on Accutane treatment. Sunlight is known to increase serotonin levels, and avoiding sunlight may further increase the problem with serotonin levels.

Another study, published at the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2005, found that Accutane was associated with decreased brain metabolism in the orbitofrontal cortex. Orbiofrontal cortex is the brain area known to counter symptoms of depression.

Once you understand the history of Accutane, these side effects shouldn't come as a surprise.

Chemotherapy drug for acne

Accutane is a cancer drug. Bet you didn't know that.

Isotretinoin, the active ingredient in Accutane, was originally developed as a chemotherapy drug. During the chemotherapy trials doctors noticed patients' acne clearing.

What do we know of chemotherapy drugs?

They are among the most dangerous poisons. Chemotherapy treatment often does serious damage to the body. And, if the patient is lucky, may have a little effect on cancer.

In this context it's no wonder the list of Accutane's side effects looks truly frightening. Ranging from chapped lips to heart attacks, serious organ damage and suicides. Click here for a complete list of Accutane's side effects.

A Miracle Drug?

Do the benefits of Accutane warrant such risks?

The fact remains that only a small percentage of the patients treated with Accutane develop severe side effects. Still, just because you don't develop acute symptoms from Accutane doesn't mean Accutane is safe for you. It causes damage to everybody who takes it. But in many cases the body can handle it in a way that doesn't produce immediate symptoms.

Accutane is often dubbed as the "Miracle Drug" because it works where no other (allopathic) acne treatment does. It is said to work up to 85% of the cases.

As dermatologists often argue, in the balance sheet of tragedy, Accutane has the least awful bottom line -- it saves more lives than it costs.

This might be true, if Accutane had no effective alternatives and would permanently cure acne. If this were the case, many acne victims would agree to face the risk. Because acne, though not fatal, can have serious psychological effects and devastate a person's self-esteem and social life.

But there are alternatives. Acne, like being overweight, is a lifestyle problem. And it responds quickly to dietary and lifestyle changes.

Dietary and lifestyle changes are the holy grail of acne treatments. They can give you the permanent freedom you are looking for. And in the process profoundly increase the quality of your life. Something that Accutane or other prescription drugs can never do.

And many acne victims find their new found, Accutane-given freedom much too temporary. Often acne returns as quickly as six months after the treatment.

In the end you are left with one question. How much are you willing to risk for temporary freedom?

About the author
Seppo Puusa is a health advocate, author and educator. He has shown thousands of acne victims how to support their bodies own healing mechanisms to cure acne and get permanently clear skin. His main website is Natural Acne Solution.Com
Seppo's two most important works so far are free minicourse Acne 101: What Einstein would have done to get clear and Clear for Life book.
Suffer from acne? Acne 101 flips on the light on for you. It explains the physiological changes that lead to acne. Put in this way acne suddenly makes perfect sense. You understand why nothing has worked before and what you need to do to cure acne. Click here for free subscription to Acne 101.
Clear for Life builds on the principles of Acne 101. It shows you how to correct the weak areas in your health and activate the body's own healing mechanisms. As your body returns to health it clears acne without any creams, lotions, pills, supplements or external products. And the results are permanent.
Clear for Life shows how curing acne can be simple, fun and delicious.
Click here to get Clear for Life.


Low testosterone= high risk in men

Low Testosterone Appears To Increase Long-term Risk Of Death


ScienceDaily (June 21, 2008) — Men may not live as long if they have low testosterone, regardless of their age, according to a new study.

The new study, from Germany, adds to the scientific evidence linking deficiency of this sex hormone with increased death from all causes over time--so-called "all-cause mortality."

The results should serve as a warning for men with low testosterone to have a healthier lifestyle, including weight control, regular exercise and a healthy diet, said lead author Robin Haring, a PhD student from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald, Institute for Community Medicine.

"It is very possible that lifestyle determines levels of testosterone," he said.

In the study, Haring and co-workers looked at death from any cause in nearly 2,000 men aged 20 to 79 years who were living in northeast Germany and who participated in the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP). Follow-up averaged 7 years. At the beginning of the study, 5 percent of these men had low blood testosterone levels, defined as the lower end of the normal range for young adult men. The men with low testosterone were older, more obese, and had a greater prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, compared with men who had higher testosterone levels, Haring said.

Men with low testosterone levels had more than 2.5 times greater risk of dying during the next 10 years compared to men with higher testosterone, the study found. This difference was not explained by age, smoking, alcohol intake, level of physical activity, or increased waist circumference (a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease), Haring said.

In cause-specific death analyses, low testosterone predicted increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease and cancer but not death of any other single cause.

DPC Biermann, Bad Nauheim, Germany, provided the testosterone reagent, and Novo Nordisc provided partial funding for this analysis.

Detailed results will be presented at The Endocrine Society's 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.


Adapted from materials provided by The Endocrine Society, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.


Caesarian babies-higher astma risk

Caesarean babies at higher asthma risk

21st June 2008, 10:00 WST

Babies born by caesarean section are up to 50 per cent more likely to develop asthma, according to a study of 1.7 million births.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health research found that the risk of asthma was even higher in infants who had an emergency caesarean section.

Published in the Journal of Paediatrics, the study looked at babies born in Norway between 1967 and 1998 and followed the children until 2002 or until they were 18.

Study author Mette Tollanes said there were two theories to explain why caesarean born babies were more prone to asthma.

“The first is that babies who are born by caesarean section are not exposed to their mother’s bacteria during birth, which is detrimental for development of the immune system,” she said.

“The other is that babies born by caesarean section have more breathing problems after birth because they are less exposed to stress hormones and compression of the chest.”

She said stress hormones helped babies empty their lungs of amniotic fluid and a lack of hormone exposure may affect long-term lung function.

Telethon Institute for Child Health Research paediatric respiratory physician Peter Sly said the study backed previous findings, including WA research, which had shown asthma risk was higher in caesarean babies.

“It’s solid data and if there’s a message here, it’s here’s yet another reason why women should not have elective caesareans,” he said. Thirty per cent of Australian babies are born by caesarean and WA has the country’s highest rate at 33 per cent.

Professor Sly said a natural delivery “switched on” many immunological and hormonal triggers that helped babies prepare for life outside the womb.

“It’s almost like a switching mechanism that says, ‘righto baby you’ve got to get out into the big wide world, you need this, this and this’, and without that then a lot of these mechanisms don’t kick in,” he said.

He said caesarean birth alone was unlikely to cause asthma, with genetic predispositions working in combination with other risk factors.




Study about the diagnostic errors

The Startling Truth About Doctors and Diagnostic Errors

By Maggie Mahar and Niko Karvounis, Health Beat. Posted June 19, 2008.

Diagnostic errors happen at alarming rates but remain underdiscussed. Doctors' overconfidence is just one reason why. Tools

Despite all of the talk about medical errors and patient safety, almost no one likes to talk about diagnostic errors. Yet doctors misdiagnose patients more often than we would like to think. Sometimes they diagnose patients with illnesses they don't have. Other times, the true condition is missed. All in all, diagnostic errors account for 17 percent of adverse events in hospitals, according to the Harvard Medical Practice Study, a landmark study that looks at medical errors.

Traditionally, these errors have not received much attention from researchers or the public. This is understandable. Thinking about missed diagnosis and wrong diagnosis makes everyone -- patients as well as doctors -- queasy. Especially because there is no obvious solution. But this past weekend the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) made a brave effort to spotlight the problem, holding its first-ever "Diagnostic Error in Medicine" conference.

Hats off to Bob Wachter, associate chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the keynote speaker at the conference. Wachter shared some thoughts on diagnostic errors through his blog Wachter's World.

Wachter begins by pointing out that a misdiagnosis lacks the concentrated shock value that is needed to grab the public imagination. Diagnostic mistakes "often have complex causal pathways, take time to play out, and may not kill for hours [i.e., if a doctor misses myocardial infarction in a patient], days (missed meningitis) or even years (missed cancers)." In short, to understand diagnostic errors, you need to pay attention for a longer period of time -- not something that's easy to do in today's sound-bite driven culture.

Diagnostic errors just aren't media-friendly. When someone is prescribed the wrong medication and they die, the sequence of events is usually rapid enough that the story can be told soon after the tragedy occurs. But the consequences of a mistaken diagnosis are too diffuse to make a nice, punchy story. As Wachter puts it: "They don't pack the same visceral wallop as wrong-site surgery."

Finally, Wachter observes, it's hard to measure diagnostic errors. It's easy to get an audience's attention by telling it that "the average hospitalized patient experiences one medication error a day" or that "the average ICU patient has 1.7 errors per day in their care."

But we don't have equally clean numbers on missed diagnoses. As a result, he points out, "it's difficult to convince policy makers and hospital executives, who are now obsessing about lowering the rates of hospital-acquired infections and falls" to focus on a problem that is much more difficult to tabulate.

This is a recurring problem in programs that strive to improve the quality of care: We are mesmerized by the idea of "measuring" everything. Yet, too often, what is most important cannot be easily measured. Wacther recognizes the urgency of the problem: "As quality and safety movements gallop along, the need to" address diagnostic errors" grows more pressing," he writes. "Until we do, we will face a fundamental problem: A hospital can be seen as a high-quality organization -- receiving awards for being a stellar performer and oodles of cash from P4P programs -- if all of its 'pneumonia' patients receive the correct antibiotics, all its 'CHF' patients are prescribed ACE inhibitors, and all its 'MI' patients get aspirin and beta blockers.

"Even if every one of the diagnoses was wrong."

Why so many errors?

Medicine is shot through with uncertainty; diseases do not always present neatly, in textbook fashion, and every human body is unique. These are just a few reasons why diagnosis is, perhaps, the most difficult part of medicine.

But misdiagnosis almost always can be traced to cognitive errors in how doctors think. When diagnosis is based on simple observation in specialties like radiology and pathology, which rely heavily on visual interpretation, error rates probably range from 2 percent to 5 percent, according to Drs. Eta S. Berner and Mark L. Graber, writing in the May issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

By contrast, in clinical specialties that rely on "data gathering and synthesis" rather than observation, error rates tend to run as high as 15 percent. After reviewing "an extensive and ever-growing literature" on misdiagnosis, Berner and Graber conclude that "diagnostic errors exist at nontrivial and sometimes alarming rates. These studies span every specialty and virtually every dimension of both inpatient and outpatient care."

As the table below reveals, numerous studies show that the rate of misdiagnosis is "disappointingly high" both "for relatively benign conditions" and "for disorders where rapid and accurate diagnosis is essential, such as myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, and dissecting or ruptured aortic aneurysms."

STUDY NAME: Shojania et al (2002)
ASSESSED CONDITION: Tuberculosis of the lungs (bacterial infection)
FINDINGS: Reviewing autopsy studies specifically focused on the diagnosis of lung TB, researchers found that 50 percent of these diagnoses were not suspected by physicians before the patient died.

STUDY: Pidenda et al (2001)
CONDITION: Pulmonary embolism ( a blood clot blocks arteries in the lungs)
FINDINGS: This study reviewed diagnosis of fatal dislodged blood clots over a five-year period at a single institution. Of 67 patients who died of pulmonary embolism, clinicians didn't suspect the diagnosis in 37 (55 percent) of them.

STUDY: Lederle et al (1994), von Kodolitsch et al (2000)
CONDITION: Ruptured aortic aneurysm (when a weakened, bulging area in the aorta ruptures)
FINDINGS: These two studies reviewed cases at a single medical center over a seven-year period. Of 23 cases involving these aneurysms in the abdomen, diagnosis of rupture was initially missed in 14 (61 percent); in patients presenting with chest pain, doctors missed the need to dissect the bulging part of the aorta in 35 percent of cases.

STUDY: Edlow (2005)
CONDITION: Subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in a particular region of the brain)
FINDINGS: This study, an updated review of published studies on this particular type of brain bleeding, shows about 30 percent are misdiagnosed on initial evaluation.

STUDY: Burton et al (1998)
CONDITION: Cancer detection
FINDINGS: Autopsy study at a single hospital: of the 250 malignant tumors found at autopsy, 111 were either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and in just 57 of the cases, the cause of death was judged to be related to the cancer.

STUDY: Beam et al (1996)
CONDITION: Breast cancer
FINDINGS: Looked at 50 accredited centers agreed to review mammograms of 79 women, 45 of whom had breast cancer. The centers missed cancer in 21 percent of the patients.

STUDY: McGinnis et al (2002)
CONDITION: Melanoma (skin cancer)
FINDINGS: This study, the second review of 5,136 biopsy samples found that diagnosis changed in 11 percent (1.1 percent from benign to malignant, 1.2 percent from malignant to benign, and 8 percent had a change in doctors' ranking of how abnormal the cells were) of the samples over time, suggesting a not insignificant initial error rate.

STUDY: Perlis (2005)
CONDITION: Bipolar disorder
FINDINGS: The initial diagnosis was wrong in 69 percent of patients with bipolar disorder and delays in establishing the correct diagnosis were common.

STUDY: Graff et al (2000)
CONDITION: Appendicitis (inflamed appendix)
FINDINGS: Retrospective study at 12 hospitals of patients with abdominal pain and operations for appendicitis. Of 1,026 patients who had surgery, there was no appendicitis in 110 (10.5 percent); of 916 patients with a final diagnosis of appendicitis, the diagnosis was missed or wrong in 170 (18.6 percent).

STUDY: Raab et al (2005)
CONDITION: Cancer pathology (microscopic examination of tissues and cells to detect cancer)
FINDINGS: The frequency of errors in diagnosing cancer was measured at four hospitals over a one-year period. The error rate of pathologic diagnosis was 2 percent to 9 percent for gynecology cases and 5 percent to 12 percent for nongynecology cases; errors ran from what tissues the doctors used, to preparation problems, to misinterpretations of tissue anatomy when viewed under microscope.

STUDY: Buchweitz et al (2005)
CONDITION: Endometriosis (tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found elsewhere in the body)
FINDINGS: Digital videotapes of the inside of patients' bodies were shown to 108 gynecologic surgeons. Surgeons agreed only 18 percent of the time as to how many tissue areas were actually affected by this condition.

STUDY: Gorter et al (2002)
CONDITION: Psoriatic arthritis (red, scaly skin coupled with join inflammation)
FINDINGS: One of two patients with psoriatic arthritis visited 23 joint and motor specialists; the diagnosis was missed or wrong in nine visits (39 percent).

STUDY: Bogun et al (2004)
CONDITION: Atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart beat in the upper chambers of the heart)
FINDINGS: Review of doctor readings of electro-cardiograms [a graphical recording of the change in body electricity due to cardiac activity] that concluded a patient suffered from this abnormal heart beat found that: 35 percent of the patients were misdiagnosed by the machine, and the error was detected by the reviewing clinician only 76 percent of the time.

STUDY: Arnon et al (2006)
CONDITION: Infant botulism (toxic bacterial infection in newborns' intestines)
FINDINGS: Study of 129 infants in California suspected of having botulism during a five-year period; only 50 percent of the cases were suspected at the time of admission.

STUDY: Edelman (2002)
CONDITION: Diabetes (high blood sugar due to insufficient insulin)
FINDINGS: Retrospective review of 1,426 patients with laboratory evidence of diabetes showed that there was no mention of diabetes in the medical record of 18 percent of patients.

STUDY: Russell et al (1988)
CONDITION: Chest x-rays in the emergency department
FINDINGS: One third of x-rays were incorrectly interpreted by the emergency department staff compared with the final readings by radiologists.


Misdiagnosis rarely springs from a "lack of knowledge per se, such as seeing a patient with a disease that the physician has never encountered before," Berner and Grave explain. "More commonly, cognitive errors reflect problems gathering data, such as failing to elicit complete and accurate information from the patient; failure to recognize the significance of data, such as misinterpreting test results; or most commonly, failure to synthesize or 'put it all together.'"

The breakdown in clinical reasoning often occurs because the physician isn't willing or able to "reflect on [his] own thinking processes and critically examine [his] assumptions, beliefs, and conclusions." In a word, the physician is too "confident."

Indeed, Berner and Graber find an inverse relationship between confidence and skill. In one study they reviewed, the researchers looked at diagnoses made by medical students, residents and physicians, and asked them how certain they were that they were correct. The good news is that while medical students were less accurate, they also were less confident; meanwhile the attending physicians were the most accurate and highly confident. The bad news is that the residents were more confident than the others, but significantly less accurate than the attending physicians. In another study, researchers found that residents often stayed wedded to an incorrect diagnosis even when a diagnostic decision support system suggested the correct diagnosis.

In a third study of 126 patients who died in the ICU and underwent autopsy, physicians were asked to provide the clinical diagnosis and also their level of uncertainty. Level 1 represented complete certainty, level 2 indicated minor uncertainty, and level 3 designated major uncertainty. Here the punch line is alarming: Clinicians who were "completely certain" of the diagnosis before death were wrong 40 percent of the time.

Overconfidence, or the belief that "I know all I need to know," may help explain what the researchers describe as a "pervasive disinterest in any decision support or feedback, regardless of the specific situation." Studies show that "physicians admit to having many questions that could be important at the point of care, but which they do not pursue. Even when information resources are automated and easily accessible at the point of care with a computer, one study found that only a tiny fraction of the resources were actually used."

Research shows that physicians tend to ignore computerized decision-support systems, often in the form of guidelines, alerts and reminders. "For many conditions, consensus exists on the best treatments and the recommended goals," Berner and Graber point out. Nevertheless, a comprehensive review of medical practice in the United States found that the care provided deviated from recommended best practices half of the time. In one study, the researchers suggest that the high rate of noncompliance with clinical guidelines relates to "the sociology of what it means to be a professional" in our health care system: "Being a professional connotes possessing expert knowledge in an area and functioning relatively autonomously." Many physicians have yet to learn that 21st century medicine is too complex for anyone to know everything -- even in a single specialty. Medicine has become a team sport.

But while it's easy to blame medical "arrogance" for the high rate of errors, "there is ubstantial evidence that overconfidence -- that is, miscalibration of one's own sense of accuracy and actual accuracy -- is ubiquitous and simply part of human nature," Berner and Graber write. "A striking example derives from surveys of academic professionals, 94 percent of whom rate themselves in the top half of their profession. Similarly, only 1 percent of drivers rate their skills below that of the average driver."

In another study published in the same issue of AMJ, Pat Croskerry and Geoff Norman note that such equanimity regarding one's own skills can lead to what's called "confirmation bias." People "anchor" on findings that support their initial assumptions. Given a set of information, it's much easier to pull out the data that proves you right and pat yourself on the back than it is to look at the contradictory evidence and rethink your assumptions. Indeed, Croskerry and Norman observe,"It takes far more mental effort to contemplate disconfirmation -- by considering all the other things it might be -- than confirmation."

Making things all the more difficult is the fact that, at a certain point, the alternative to confirmation bias -- what Croskerry and Norman call "consider the opposite" -- becomes impractical. If a doctor embraces uncertainty, he could easily become paralyzed.

What doctors need to do is to simultaneously make a decision -- and keep an open mind. Often, a doctor must embark on a course of treatment as a way of diagnosing the condition -- all the time knowing that he may be wrong.

Too often, Berner and Graber observe, physicians narrow the diagnostic hypotheses too early in the process, so that the correct diagnosis is never seriously considered. Reliance on advanced diagnostic tests can encourage what they call "premature closure." After all, high-tech diagnostic technologies offer up hard-and-fast data, fostering the illusion that the physician has vanquished medicine's ambiguity.

But in truth, advanced diagnostic tools can miss critical information. The problem is not the technology, but how we use it. Some observers suggest that the newest and most sophisticated tools are more likely to produce false negatives because doctors accept the results so readily.

"In most cases, it wasn't the technology that failed," explains Dr. Atul Gawande in Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. "Rather, the physician did not consider the right diagnosis in the first place. The perfect test or scan may have been available, but the physician never ordered it." Instead, he ordered another test -- and believed it.

"We get this all the time," Bill Pellan of Florida's Penallas-Pasca County Medical Examiner's Office told the New York Times a few years ago. "The doctor will get our report and call and say: 'But there can't be a lacerated aorta. We did a whole set of scans.'

"We have to remind him we held the heart in our hands."


Sometimes physicians are overly confident; sometimes they narrow their hypothesis too early in the diagnostic process. Sometimes they rely too heavily on advanced diagnostic tests and accept the results too quickly. As I explained in part one of this post, these are some of the reasons why physicians misdiagnose their patients up to 15 percent of the time.

"Complacency" (i.e., the attitude that "nobody's perfect") also is a factor, reports Drs. Eta S. Berner and Mark L. Graber in the May issue of the American Journal of Medicine. "Complacency reflects tolerance for errors, and the belief that errors are inevitable," they write, "combined with little understanding of how commonplace diagnostic errors are. Frequently, the complacent physician may think that the problem exists, but not in his own practice ..."

It is crucial to recognize that physicians are not simply deceiving themselves: In our fragmented healthcare system, many honestly don't know when they have misdiagnosed a patient. No one tells them -- including the patient.

Sometimes a patient who isn't getting better simply leaves the doctor and finds someone else. His original doctor may well assume that he was finally cured. Or the patient may be discharged from the hospital, relapse three months later, and go to a different ER where he discovers that his symptoms have returned because he was, in fact, misdiagnosed. The doctors who cared for him at the first hospital have no way of knowing; they think they cured him. In other cases, the patient gets better despite the wrong diagnosis. (It is surprising how often bodies heal themselves.) Meanwhile, both doctor and patient assume that the diagnosis was right and that the treatment "worked."

In still other cases, the patient dies, and because everyone assumes that the diagnosis was correct, it is listed as the "cause of death" -- when in fact, another condition killed the patient.

When giving talks to groups of physicians on diagnostic errors, Graber says that he frequently "asks whether they have made a diagnostic error in the past year. Typically, only 1 percent admit to having made such a mistake."

Here, we reach the heart of the problem: what Berner and Graber call "the remarkable discrepancy between the known prevalence of diagnostic error and physician perception of their own error rate." This gap "has not been formally quantified and is only indirectly discussed in the medical literature," they note "but [it] lies at the crux of the diagnostic error puzzle and explains in part why so little attention has been devoted to this problem."

One cannot expect doctors to learn from their mistakes unless they have feedback: At one time, autopsies provided physicians with the information they needed. And the results were regularly discussed at "mortality and morbidity" conferences, where doctors became Monday-morning quarterbacks, discussing what they could have done differently.

But today, "autopsies are done in 10 percent of all deaths; many hospitals do none," notes Dr. Atul Gawande in Complications: A Surgeons Notes on an Imperfect Science. "This is a dramatic turnabout. Throughout much of the 20th century, doctors diligently obtained autopsies in the majority of all deaths ... Autopsies have long been viewed as a tool of discovery, one that has been used to identify the cause of tuberculosis, reveal how to treat appendicitis and establish the existence of Alzheimer's disease.

"So what accounts for the decline?" Gawande asks. "In truth, it's not because families refuse -- to judge from recent studies, they still grant their permission up to 80 percent of the time. Instead, doctors once so eager to perform autopsies that they stole bodies [from graves] have simply stopped asking.

"Some people ascribe this to shady motives," Gawande continues. "It has been said that hospitals are trying to save money by avoiding autopsies, since insurers don't pay for them, or that doctors avoid them in order to cover up evidence of malpractice. And yet," he points out, "autopsies lost money and uncovered malpractice when they were popular, too."

Gawande doesn't believe that fear of malpractice has driven the decline in autopsies. Instead," he writes, "I suspect, what discourages autopsies is medicine's 21st century, tall-in-the-saddle confidence."

This is an important point. Autopsies have fallen out of fashion in recent years: "Between 1972 and 1995, the last year for which statistics are available, the rate fell from 19.1 percent of all deaths to 9.4 percent. A major reason for the decline over this period is that "imaging technologies such as CT scanning and ultrasound have enabled doctors to 'see' such obvious internal causes of death as tumors before the patient dies," says Dr. Patrick Lantz, associate professor of pathology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Nowadays an autopsy seems a waste of time and resources.

Gawande agrees: "Today we have MRI scans, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, molecular testing and much more. When somebody dies, we already know why. We don't need an autopsy to find out ... Or so I thought ... " Gawande then goes on to tell the story of a autopsy that rocked him. He had completely misdiagnosed a patient.

What autopsies show

The autopsy has been described as "the most powerful tool in the history of medicine" and the "gold standard" for detecting diagnostic errors. Indeed, Gawande points out that three studies done in 1998 and 1999 reveal that autopsies "turn up a major misdiagnosis in roughly 40 percent of all cases."

A large review of autopsy studies concluded that, "in about a third of the misdiagnoses, the patients would have been expected to live if proper treatment had been administered," Gawande reports. "Dr. George Lundberg, a pathologist and former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, has done more than anyone to call attention to these figures. He points out the most surprising fact of all: The rate at which misdiagnosis is detected in autopsy studies have not improved since at least 1938."

When Gawande first heard these numbers he couldn't believe them. "With all of the recent advances in imaging and diagnostics ... it's hard to accept that we have failed to improve over time." To see if this really could be true, he and other doctors at Harvard put together a simple study. They went back into their hospital records to see how often autopsies picked up missed diagnosis in 1960 and 1970, before the advent of CT, ultrasound, nuclear scanning and other technologies, and then in 1980, after those technologies became widely used.

Gawande reports the results of the study: "The researchers found no improvement. Regardless of the decade, physicians missed a quarter of fatal infections, a third of heart attacks and almost two-thirds of pulmonary emboli in their patients who died."

But these numbers may exaggerate the rate of error. As Berner and Graber observe, "Autopsy studies only provide the error rate in patients who die." One can assume that the error rate is much lower in patients who survived.

"For example, whereas autopsy studies suggest that fatal pulmonary embolism is misdiagnosed approximately 55 percent of the time, the misdiagnosis rate for all cases of pulmonary embolism is only 4 percent ..." a large discrepancy also exists regarding the misdiagnosis rate for myocardial infarction: although autopsy data suggest roughly 20 percent of these events are missed, data from the clinical setting (patients presenting with chest pain or other relevant symptoms) indicate that only 2 percent to 4 percent are missed."

Still, they acknowledge that when laymen are trained to pretend to be a patient suffering from specific symptoms, studies show that "internists missed the correct diagnosis 13 percent of the time. Other studies have found that physicians can even disagree with themselves when presented again with a case they have previously diagnosed."

On the question of whether the diagnostic error rate has changed over time, Berner and Graber quote researchers who suggest that the near-constant rate of misdiagnosis found at autopsy over the years probably reflects two factors that offset each other:

diagnostic accuracy actually has improved over time (more knowledge, better tests, more skills);
but as the autopsy rate declines, there is a tendency to select only the more challenging clinical cases for autopsy, which then have a higher likelihood of diagnostic error. A long-term study of autopsies in Switzerland (where the autopsy rate has remained constant at 90 percent) supports the theory that the absolute rate of diagnostic errors is, as suggested, decreasing over time.

Nevertheless, nearly everyone agrees, the rate of diagnostic errors remains too high.

We need to revive the autopsy, Gawande argues. For "autopsies not only document the presence of diagnostic errors, they also provide an opportunity to learn from one's errors (errando discimus) if one takes advantage of the information.

"The rate of autopsy in the United States is not measured anymore," he observes, "but is widely assumed to be significantly 10 percent. To the extent that this important feedback mechanism is no longer a realistic option, clinicians have an increasingly distorted view of their own error rates.

"Autopsy literally means "to see for oneself," Gawande observes, and despite our knowledge and technology, when we look we are often unprepared for what we find. Sometimes it turns out that we had missed a clue along the way or made a genuine mistake. Sometimes we turn out wrong despite doing everything right.

"Whether with living patients or dead, we cannot know until we look. ... But doctors are no longer asking such questions. Equally troubling, people seem happy to let us off the hook. In 1995, the United States National Center for Health Statistics stopped collecting autopsy statistics altogether. We can no longer even say how rare autopsies have become."

If they are going to reflect on their mistakes, physicians need to "see for themselves."


The high risks in diabetes!

One in three diabetics dead in 10 years, study

17th June 2008, 14:45 WST

Alarming new diabetes research predicts almost a third of Australians with the disease will die in the next decade.

The figures, presented at an international diabetes conference, are the first to forecast the mortality and morbidity in Australia due to type two diabetes, and the picture is grim.

From a nationally-representative sample of diabetics, 13 per cent would die in the next five years and 31 per cent would be dead within a decade.

One in five will have a heart attack by 2018, and one in 12 will suffer stroke or other complications like amputation, blindness and renal failure.

“We didn't know what to expect from the study but it's true to say these are quite compelling figures,” said clinical pharmacologist Professor Danny Liew, from St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne.

“The outlook for diabetics is not good and it will only potentially get worse because there will be more people in the future developing it.”

About 700,000 Australians have diabetes, with about 85 per cent diagnosed with the type two, a lifestyle form of the condition which is triggered by poor diet, lack of exercise and resulting weight gain.

Experts have warned of a looming “diabesity” crisis, as a growing number of Australians of all ages are burdened with the twin lifestyle conditions.

Prof Liew and his colleagues used the nation's largest diabetes study, AusDiab, to build a predictive model to assess the health outlook for diabetics using a sample of 825 people.

The group was older and had a variety of complications, like obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

“It's hard for us to say how typical it is of the diabetes population because they have a number of risk factors, but it is definitely close, and the dangers of those risks are clear,” said Prof Liew, who presented the data at the American Diabetes Association meeting in San Francisco.

“Even if you look at it conservatively, the burden of the disease is high.”

Stephen Colagiuri, a professor of metabolic health at the University of Sydney, said that while the numbers developing diabetes were on the rise, death rates overall were decreasing.

“The situation is still bad but it's not as bad as it used to be, largely because we're treating people better and keeping them in better health for longer,” Prof Colagiuri said.

“But the complications are still a major burden.”

A type two diabetic costs an average of $5,350 a year to treat, from $4,000 in early-stage disease to almost $10,000 for people with common, diabetes-related complications.



Natural heparin-seaweed(and a source of Iodine!)

Edible seaweed 'stops blood clotting'

18th June 2008, 10:30 WST

An Australian biotechnology company turning edible seaweed into an anti-blood clotting product is presenting its work to an international conference in the US.

The biotechnology company, Marinova, says it is developing the vegetable-based alternative to the animal-sourced drug Heparin from undaria seaweed, harvested in Tasmania's east-coast waters.

Lovers of Japanese food will better know undaria as wakame seaweed, usually found in miso soup.

The Heparin-like products being derived from the seaweed are called fucoidans.

Marinova CEO Nick Falk said fucoidans could replace Heparin.

"Here we have a completely natural, traceable, Heparin alternative that has no toxicity problems and is not synthetic - this is potentially a huge market," he said.

Mr Falk is due to explain Marinova's progress at the BIO 2008 conference in San Diego this week.

Trials using the fucoidans on human blood have been encouraging and Marinova's head researcher, Dr Helen Fitton, says the seaweed anti-coagulant could be commercially available within 10 years.

The blood samples used in experiments have come from people who took capsules containing fucoidans.