SUGAR VS. FAT=FRAUD

A newly discovered cache of internal documents reveals that the sugar industry downplayed the risks of sugar in the 1960s.  Luis Ascui/Getty Images

50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat

National Public Radio   source
In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat, according to a newly published article in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The article draws on internal documents to show that an industry group called the Sugar Research Foundation wanted to “refute” concerns about sugar’s possible role in heart disease. The SRF then sponsored research by Harvard scientists that did just that. The result was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, with no disclosure of the sugar industry funding.
Sugar Shocked?

The Rest Of Food Industry Pays For Lots Of Research, Too
The sugar-funded project in question was a literature review, examining a variety of studies and experiments. It suggested there were major problems with all the studies that implicated sugar, and concluded that cutting fat out of American diets was the best way to address coronary heart disease.

The authors of the new article say that for the past five decades, the sugar industry has been attempting to influence the scientific debate over the relative risks of sugar and fat.

“It was a very smart thing the sugar industry did, because review papers, especially if you get them published in a very prominent journal, tend to shape the overall scientific discussion,” co-author Stanton Glantz told The New York Times.

Money on the line
How The Food Industry Manipulates Taste Buds With ‘Salt Sugar Fat’
In the article, published Monday, authors Glantz, Cristin Kearns and Laura Schmidt aren’t trying make the case for a link between sugar and coronary heart disease. Their interest is in the process. They say the documents reveal the sugar industry attempting to influence scientific inquiry and debate.

The researchers note that they worked under some limitations — “We could not interview key actors involved in this historical episode because they have died,” they write. Other organizations were also advocating concerns about fat, they note.

There’s no evidence that the SRF directly edited the manuscript published by the Harvard scientists in 1967, but there is “circumstantial” evidence that the interests of the sugar lobby shaped the conclusions of the review, the researchers say.

For one thing, there’s motivation and intent. In 1954, the researchers note, the president of the SRF gave a speech describing a great business opportunity.

If Americans could be persuaded to eat a lower-fat diet — for the sake of their health — they would need to replace that fat with something else. America’s per capita sugar consumption could go up by a third.
In ‘Soda Politics,’ Big Soda At Crossroads Of Profit And Public Health
But in the ’60s, the SRF became aware of “flowing reports that sugar is a less desirable dietary source of calories than other carbohydrates,” as John Hickson, SRF vice president and director of research, put it in one document.

He recommended that the industry fund its own studies — “Then we can publish the data and refute our detractors.

The next year, after several scientific articles were published suggesting a link between sucrose and coronary heart disease, the SRF approved the literature-review project. It wound up paying approximately $50,000 in today’s dollars for the research.

One of the researchers was the chairman of Harvard’s Public Health Nutrition Department — and an ad hoc member of SRF’s board.

“A different standard” for different studies

Glantz, Kearns and Schmidt say many of the articles examined in the review were hand-selected by SRF, and it was implied that the sugar industry would expect them to be critiqued.

Obesity And The Toxic-Sugar Wars
13.7: COSMOS AND CULTURE
Obesity And The Toxic-Sugar Wars
In a letter, SRF’s Hickson said that the organization’s “particular interest” was in evaluating studies focused on “carbohydrates in the form of sucrose.”

“We are well aware,” one of the scientists replied, “and will cover this as well as we can.”

The project wound up taking longer than expected, because more and more studies were being released that suggested sugar might be linked to coronary heart disease. But it was finally published in 1967.

Hickson was certainly happy with the result: “Let me assure you this is quite what we had in mind and we look forward to its appearance in print,” he told one of the scientists.

The review minimized the significance of research that suggested sugar could play a role in coronary heart disease. In some cases the scientists alleged investigator incompetence or flawed methodology.

“It is always appropriate to question the validity of individual studies,” Kearns told Bloomberg via email. But, she says, “the authors applied a different standard” to different studies — looking very critically at research that implicated sugar, and ignoring problems with studies that found dangers in fat.

Epidemiological studies of sugar consumption — which look at patterns of health and disease in the real world — were dismissed for having too many possible factors getting in the way. Experimental studies were dismissed for being too dissimilar to real life.

One study that found a health benefit when people ate less sugar and more vegetables was dismissed because that dietary change was not feasible.

Another study, in which rats were given a diet low in fat and high in sugar, was rejected because “such diets are rarely consumed by man.”

The Harvard researchers then turned to studies that examined risks of fat — which included the same kind of epidemiological studies they had dismissed when it came to sugar.

Citing “few study characteristics and no quantitative results,” as Kearns, Glantz and Schmidt put it, they concluded that cutting out fat was “no doubt” the best dietary intervention to prevent coronary heart disease.

Sugar lobby: “Transparency standards were not the norm”

In a statement, the Sugar Association — which evolved out of the SRF — said it is challenging to comment on events from so long ago.

“We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however, when the studies in question were published funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today,” the association said.

“Generally speaking, it is not only unfortunate but a disservice that industry-funded research is branded as tainted,” the statement continues. “What is often missing from the dialogue is that industry-funded research has been informative in addressing key issues.”

The documents in question are five decades old, but the larger issue is of the moment, as Marion Nestle notes in a commentary in the same issue of JAMA Internal Medicine:

“Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor? Yes, it is, and the practice continues. In 2015, the New York Times obtained emails revealing Coca-Cola’s cozy relationships with sponsored researchers who were conducting studies aimed at minimizing the effects of sugary drinks on obesity. Even more recently, the Associated Press obtained emails showing how a candy trade association funded and influenced studies to show that children who eat sweets have healthier body weights than those who do not.”
As for the article authors who dug into the documents around this funding, they offer two suggestions for the future.

“Policymaking committees should consider giving less weight to food industry-funded studies,” they write.

They also call for new research into any ties between added sugars and coronary heart disease.

 

MIDDLE EAST
Department Of Defense Investigating U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrike In Syria
Mike Pence speaks to Republicans at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Si

 

 

Secretly Sick Presidents

THE SECRET AILMENTS OF PRESIDENTS

A history of illnesses kept from public

By Joel Achenbach and Lillian Cunningham                                                                                       The Washington Post in Chicago Tribune 9.13.16

In his second term as president, Dwight Eisenhower looked like an old man. He’d had a serious heart attack in 1955, requiring extensive hospitalization. He later suffered a stroke. In contrast, his successor, John F. Kennedy, seemed vibrant and flamboyant.

The reality was that Eisenhower wasn’t really that old — he was just 62 when he was first elected. And Kennedy wasn’t that vigorous and indeed was secretly afflicted by serious medical problems, including Addison’s disease*, that his aides concealed from the public.

In his second term as president, Dwight Eisenhower looked like an old man. He’d had a serious heart attack in 1955, requiring extensive hospitalization. He later suffered a stroke. In contrast, his successor, John F. Kennedy, seemed vibrant and flamboyant.

The reality was that Eisenhower wasn’t really that old — he was just 62 when he was first elected. And Kennedy wasn’t that vigorous and indeed was secretly afflicted by serious medical problems, including Addison’s disease, that his aides concealed from the public.

The history of the presidency includes a running thread of illness and incapacity, much of it hidden from the public out of political calculation. A stroke incapacitated Woodrow Wilson in 1919, for example, but the public had no inkling until many months later. And when Grover Cleveland needed surgery in 1893 to remove a cancerous tumor in his mouth, he did it secretly on a friend’s yacht cruising through Long Island Sound.

Presidential history reveals a more subtle trend: Age isn’t what it used to be. American culture has redefined old age, pushing it back significantly as people live longer and expect to be more active into their eighth or ninth decade or beyond.

Hillary Clinton is 68, and Donald Trump is 70. They’re the oldest pair of major party candidates in history. If elected, Clinton would be the second-oldest person to assume the presidency, after Ronald Reagan. Trump would be the oldest.

Health has suddenly become a preoccupation on the campaign trail in the wake of Clinton’s wobbly episode Sunday when she left a 9/11 service in New York City. The Clinton camp initially called it merely a case of overheating. Late in the day, the campaign revealed that, in fact, she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. On Monday, a Clinton spokesperson acknowledged that the campaign could have been more forthcoming on Sunday.

Neither candidate has released detailed medical records.

Clinton’s gender gives her an advantage on one respect: Women in the U.S. outlive men by several years. According to the Social Security Administration’s online life expectancy calculator, a woman of Clinton’s age is likely to live an additional 18.4 years. A man of Trump’s age is likely to live an additional 15.2.

Voters will have to determine if the murky health status of Clinton and Trump should be a factor in the November decision. What’s certain is that the campaign trail can be brutal and that the presidency itself can pound away at the health of whoever occupies the Oval Office.

President Cleveland kept his cancer surgery secret in part because cancer at the time was such a dreaded disease. He also didn’t trust reporters or think his medical condition was anyone’s business, Cleveland biographer Matthew Algeo, author of “The President is a Sick Man,” told The Washington Post.

Algeo makes a broader observation: The desire for secrecy led many American presidents to avoid the best doctors. “With presidents, a lot of times they don’t get the best care. You would expect they would, but they’re so paranoid about anyone knowing what’s wrong with them that they employ old family doctors,” Algeo said.

The public had limited information about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s physical condition and the fact that he used a wheelchair. By the time he ran for a fourth term in 1944, he had heart disease, was constantly tired and had trouble concentrating. Frank Lahey, a surgeon who examined Roosevelt, wrote a memo saying FDR would never survive another four-year term. The memo was not disclosed until 2011.

Roosevelt sailed to another victory and died in April 1945, leaving Harry Truman to close out World War II.

Kennedy suffered from Addison’s disease and had to take steroids and other drugs to ward off the symptoms, but he did so secretly. As the Los Angeles Times reported: “During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy’s opponents said he had Addison’s. His physicians released a cleverly worded statement saying that he did not have Addison’s disease caused by tuberculosis, and the matter was dropped.

“Kennedy collapsed twice because of the disease: once at the end of a parade during an election campaign and once on a congressional visit to Britain.”

The history of the presidency includes a running thread of illness and incapacity, much of it hidden from the public out of political calculation. A stroke incapacitated Woodrow Wilson in 1919, for example, but the public had no inkling until many months later. And when Grover Cleveland needed surgery in 1893 to remove a cancerous tumor in his mouth, he did it secretly on a friend’s yacht cruising through Long Island Sound.

Presidential history reveals a more subtle trend: Age isn’t what it used to be. American culture has redefined old age, pushing it back significantly as people live longer and expect to be more active into their eighth or ninth decade or beyond.

Hillary Clinton is 68, and Donald Trump is 70. They’re the oldest pair of major party candidates in history. If elected, Clinton would be the second-oldest person to assume the presidency, after Ronald Reagan. Trump would be the oldest.

Health has suddenly become a preoccupation on the campaign trail in the wake of Clinton’s wobbly episode Sunday when she left a 9/11 service in New York City. The Clinton camp initially called it merely a case of overheating. Late in the day, the campaign revealed that, in fact, she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. On Monday, a Clinton spokesperson acknowledged that the campaign could have been more forthcoming on Sunday.

Neither candidate has released detailed medical records.

Clinton’s gender gives her an advantage on one respect: Women in the U.S. outlive men by several years. According to the Social Security Administration’s online life expectancy calculator, a woman of Clinton’s age is likely to live an additional 18.4 years. A man of Trump’s age is likely to live an additional 15.2.

Voters will have to determine if the murky health status of Clinton and Trump should be a factor in the November decision. What’s certain is that the campaign trail can be brutal and that the presidency itself can pound away at the health of whoever occupies the Oval Office.

President Cleveland kept his cancer surgery secret in part because cancer at the time was such a dreaded disease. He also didn’t trust reporters or think his medical condition was anyone’s business, Cleveland biographer Matthew Algeo, author of “The President is a Sick Man,” told The Washington Post.

Algeo makes a broader observation: The desire for secrecy led many American presidents to avoid the best doctors. “With presidents, a lot of times they don’t get the best care. You would expect they would, but they’re so paranoid about anyone knowing what’s wrong with them that they employ old family doctors,” Algeo said.

The public had limited information about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s physical condition and the fact that he used a wheelchair. By the time he ran for a fourth term in 1944, he had heart disease, was constantly tired and had trouble concentrating. Frank Lahey, a surgeon who examined Roosevelt, wrote a memo saying FDR would never survive another four-year term. The memo was not disclosed until 2011.

Roosevelt sailed to another victory and died in April 1945, leaving Harry Truman to close out World War II.

Kennedy suffered from Addison’s disease and had to take steroids and other drugs to ward off the symptoms, but he did so secretly. As the Los Angeles Times reported: “During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy’s opponents said he had Addison’s. His physicians released a cleverly worded statement saying that he did not have Addison’s disease caused by tuberculosis, and the matter was dropped.

“Kennedy collapsed twice because of the disease: once at the end of a parade during an election campaign and once on a congressional visit to Britain.”

 * Addison’s disease is a disorder that occurs when your body produces insufficient amounts of certain hormones produced by your adrenal glands. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands produce too little cortisol and often insufficient levels of aldosterone as well.  Read more at source.

Eating Deer, Elk, and People Spreads Disease

A sign said DEPOSIT DEER AND ELK HEADS HERE at a government building next door to our hotel in Fort Collins, Colorado.  The heads were to be used in the study of chronic wasting disease which is related to mad cow disease and kuru.  RJN

___________________________________________

WHEN PEOPLE ATE PEOPLE, A STRANGE DISEASE EMERGED

In 1962, a local leader in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea asks Fore men to stop the sorcery that he believes is killing women and children.  Courtesy Shirley Lindenbaum

Most of the world didn’t know anyone lived in the highlands of Papua New Guinea until the 1930s, when Australian gold prospectors surveying the area realized there were about a million people there.

When researchers made their way to those villages in the 1950s, they found something disturbing. Among a tribe of about 11,000 people called the Fore, up to 200 people a year had been dying of an inexplicable illness. They called the disease kuru, which means “shivering” or “trembling.”

Once symptoms set in, it was a swift demise. First, they’d have trouble walking, a sign that they were about to lose control over their limbs. They’d also lose control over their emotions, which is why people called it the “laughing death.” Within a year, they couldn’t get up off the floor, feed themselves or control their bodily functions.

Many locals were convinced it was the result of sorcery. The disease primarily hit adult women and children younger than 8 years old. In some villages, there were almost no young women left.

“They were obsessed with trying to save themselves because they knew demographically that they were on the brink of extinction,” says Shirley Lindenbaum, a medical anthropologist with the City University of New York.

But what was causing it? That answer eluded researchers for years. Afterruling out an exhaustive list of contaminants, they thought it must be genetic. So in 1961, Lindenbaum traveled from village to village mapping family trees so researchers could settle the issue.

But Lindenbaum, who continues to write about the epidemic, knew it couldn’t be genetic, because it affected women and children in the same social groups, but not in the same genetic groups. She also knew that it had started in villages in the north around the turn of the century, and then moved south over the decades.

Lindenbaum had a hunch about what was going on, and she turned out to be right. It had to do with funerals. Specifically, it had to do with eating dead bodies at funerals.

In many villages, when a person died, they would be cooked and consumed. It was an act of love and grief.

As one medical researcher described, “If the body was buried it was eaten by worms; if it was placed on a platform it was eaten by maggots; the Fore believed it was much better that the body was eaten by people who loved the deceased than by worms and insects.”

Women removed the brain, mixed it with ferns, and cooked it in tubes of bamboo. They fire-roasted and ate everything except the gall bladder. It was primarily adult women who did so, says Lindenbaum, because their bodies were thought to be capable of housing and taming the dangerous spirit that would accompany a dead body.

“So, the women took on the role of consuming the dead body and giving it a safe place inside their own body — taming it, for a period of time, during this dangerous period of mortuary ceremonies,” says Lindenbaum.

But women would occasionally pass pieces of the feast to children. “Snacks,” says Lindenbaum. “They ate what their mothers gave them,” she says, until the boys hit a certain age and went off to live with the men. “Then, they were told not to touch that stuff.”

Finally, after urging from researchers like Lindenbaum, biologists came around to the idea that the strange disease stemmed from eating dead people. The case was closed after a group at the U.S. National Institutes of Health injected infected human brain into chimpanzees, and watched symptoms of kuru develop in the animals months later. The group, whichwon a Nobel Prize for the findings, dubbed it a “slow virus.”

But it wasn’t a virus — or a bacterium, fungus, or parasite. It was an entirely new infectious agent, one that had no genetic material, could survive being boiled, and wasn’t even alive.

As another group would find years later, it was just a twisted protein, capable of performing the microscopic equivalent of a Jedi mind trick, compelling normal proteins on the surface of nerve cells in the brain to contort just like them. The so-called “prions,” or “proteinaceous infectious particles,” would eventually misfold enough proteins to kill pockets of nerve cells in the brain, leaving the cerebellum riddled with holes, like a sponge.

The process was so odd that some compared it to Dr. Jekyll’s transformation to Mr. Hyde: “the same entity but in two manifestations — a ‘kind’, innocuous one and a ‘vicious’, lethal one.”

The epidemic likely started when one person in a Fore village developed sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a degenerative neurological disorder similar to kuru. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in a million people in the U.S. develop CJD the difference is that others rarely come into contact with infected human tissue.

Though the Fore stopped the practice of mortuary feasts more than 50 years ago, cases of kuru continued to surface over the years, because the prions could take decades to show their effects.

According to Michael Alpers, a medical researcher at Curtin University in Australia who tracked kuru cases for decades, the last person with kuru died in 2009. His team continued surveillance until 2012, when the epidemic was officially declared over. “I have followed up a few rumoured cases since then but they were not kuru,” he wrote in an email.

When Shirley Lindenbaum visited a South Fore village in 2008, one man said excitedly, “See how many children we have now?”  Courtesy Shirley Lindenbaum

But while they remain rare, transmissible prion diseases did not die out with the last kuru case, as people have found repeatedly in recent decades. People have developed variant CJD after eating the meat of cattle infected with mad cow disease. Dr. Ermias Belay, a prion diseaseresearcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that’s the only scenario in which there is “definitive evidence” that humans can develop a prion disease after eating the infected meat of another species.

But, he says, there are still a lot of open questions about how and why humans get prion diseases.

For one, it’s still a mystery why animals, including humans, have those proteins in the first place — the Jekylls that can be so easily turned into Hydes. One leading hypothesis, described recently in the journal Nature, is that they play an important role in the protective coating around nerves.

But here’s the bigger question, says Belay: “How many of these diseases actually jump species and affect humans?”

Kuru showed that people could get a prion disease from eating infected people. Mad cow disease showed that people can get a prion disease from eating infected cow. But what about other prion diseases in other animals? Could, say, hunters get sick from eating infected deer? That’s what researchers in North America, including Belay, are trying to find out right now.

Chronic wasting disease in North America is spreading fast,” says Belay. The disease causes infected wild deer and elk to starve to death. “In early 2000, we had about three states that reported CWD in the wild in deer and elk. Today, that number is 21.”

Belay says the disease is “a little bit concerning” because, unlike mad cow disease and kuru, where infectious prions were concentrated in the brain and nervous system tissue, in an animal with chronic wasting disease, the misfolded prions show up all over the body. They can even be found in saliva, feces and urine, which could explain how the disease is spreading so quickly among wild deer and elk.

The CDC is working with public health authorities in Wyoming and Colorado to monitor hunters for signs of prion disease.

“Unfortunately, because these diseases have long incubation periods, it’s not easy to monitor transmission,” says Belay. He says he and his colleagues have yet to find any evidence that hunters have picked up chronic wasting disease from the meat of infected wild animals.

“And that, in itself, is good news for us,” he says.

But, as with kuru, it will take years — maybe even decades — before he can know for sure.

 

History on Glenview Road

 

Judge Abner Mikva

Abner Mikva.jpg   1926-2016

I learned about Abner Mikva at my first American Federation of Teachers convention at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago.  Our delegation was composed of young teachers working to jump-start the the sleepy union local at our school.  Ab was a young state representative trying to fight the corruption and mismanagement in Illinois government.  In his speech he compared the state’s allowance for highways to that for education:  Said, The Department of Transportation has money up its asphalt!

The second time I saw him in person was in our house on Glenview Road when he rang our doorbell on a Sunday morning! He was campaigning to represent our largely Republican congressional district, having been been squeezed out of his home district  in Chicago by political powers, including Mayor Richard J. Daley, who didn’t like a smart,  honest,  progressive guy.   He said that it was lonely in the campaign and he wanted to meet some friends.  We drank coffee and had a good talk.

He’d been attracted by the car in our driveway with a lot of Democratic election signs on it.  Car belonged to a teacher who’d come to do some union work with me.  It was plastered with signs because he had a part-time political job.

I think Ab lost that election but later tried again and won the seat.

During a later campaign, he spoke at our school with opponent John Porter.  Porter spoke well,  a little stiff.  Ab came across warm, maybe even passionate. Ab won re-election narrowly.

Ab  was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and became Chief Judge.  He has had a number of special assignments like  leading a commission to investigate the University of Illinois  for admitting unqualified applicants with political connections.  He was an advisor to President Obama.

Obama awarded him the Presidenrtial Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

How did Ab get started?t

One of the stories that is told about my start in politics is that on the way home from law school one night in 1948, I stopped by the ward headquarters in the ward where I lived. There was a street-front, and the name Timothy O’Sullivan, Ward Committeeman, was painted on the front window. I walked in and I said “I’d like to volunteer to work for [Adlai] Stevenson and [Paul] Douglas.” This quintessential Chicago ward committeeman took the cigar out of his mouth and glared at me and said, “Who sent you?” I said, “Nobody sent me.” He put the cigar back in his mouth and he said, “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.” This was the beginning of my political career in Chicago.  Wikipedia

 

Ab was a good guy,  a highly respected public servant, and I’m glad to have been in touch with him.

And I’m sorry he’s gone.

Very readable article on Ab’s life and service  here.

rjn

 

Worst Threat to Women

 

Hidden Heart Disease Is The Top Health Threat For U.S. Women

Tracy Solomon Clark didn't realize that the shortness of breath and dizziness she felt at age 44 was actually serious heart disease.

Tracy Solomon Clark didn’t realize that the shortness of breath and dizziness she felt at age 44 was actually serious heart disease.  Benjamin Brian Morris for NPR

Tracy Solomon Clark is outgoing and energetic — a former fundraiser for big companies and big causes. As she charged through her 40s she had “no clue,” she says, that there might be a problem with her heart.

It was about six years ago — when she was 44 — that she first suffered severe shortness of breath, along with dizziness. She figured she was overweight and overworked, but never considered heart disease.

“That was the furthest thing from my mind,” Solomon Clark says. “I was young!”

But it was her heart. Her doctor sent her to the hospital emergency room, where physicians diagnosed a blockage in a key artery. They inserted a stent to open it up and ease blood flow to her heart.

Ultimately Solomon Clark, who lives in Gardena, Calif., got several more stents to treat what turned out to be serious cardiovascular disease. Last year she had double-bypass surgery to replace the left main artery of her heart.

She’s not alone, according to Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, who directs the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, says she’s not surprised by Solomon Clark’s experience. Bairey Merz often meets young and middle-aged women who have no idea they are at risk for heart disease and a heart attack.

She and colleagues recently surveyed 1,011 women ages 25 to 60, a random sampling from across the U.S. Only about half of those interviewed knew that heart disease is the leading threat to women’s lives, the scientists found. Many thought breast cancer poses a bigger risk. They were wrong.

Every year in the U.S. about 40,000 women die from breast cancer, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, roughly 10 times that number die from heart disease.

Greater awareness and advances in detection and treatment have dramatically decreased breast cancer deaths over the past few decades, Bairey Merz explains. But heart disease now claims the life of 1 in every 4 women.

Many women with heart disease could benefit from effective treatment, including aspirin, statins, beta blockers and the like, says Dr. Laxmi Mehta, a cardiologist at the Ohio State Wexler Medical Center. But they can be helped only if they are diagnosed.

After the stent was placed, Solomon Clark continued to have periodic bouts of dizziness, shortness of breath and even a little pain. The symptoms were eventually traced back to continuing heart trouble.

But not right away. When she returned to an ER to have the symptoms checked out, tests suggested no new blockages, and the emergency room doctors told her she might just be suffering an anxiety attack.

Last year Solomon Clark had double-bypass surgery to replace the left main artery of her heart.

Last year Solomon Clark had double-bypass surgery to replace the left main artery of her heart.  Benjamin Brian Morris for NPR

Mehta chaired a committee of the American Heart Association that this year released the organization’s first scientific statement on the problem of heart attacks among women.

Even after a heart attack, Mehta says, women are less likely than men to be referred to cardiac rehabilitation programs, though these programs significantly reduce the chances of a second heart attack.

Part of the reason women are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all is because heart disease looks a lot different in women than it does in men, she says. And men have been the focus of most heart disease research.

For example, men are more prone to blockages in major arteries — these are relatively easy to spot on an angiogram, and are more likely to prompt timely diagnosis, Mehta says.

Women, on the other hand, are more likely to have problems with tiny arteriesembedded in the heart, she says. These smaller blood vessels often are not visible on angiograms, and also don’t fill up with plaque.

“They don’t have enough of a wall to build up plaque,” says Bairy Merz. “That’s how tiny they are.” But these small arteries can lose flexibility and run into problems — constricting too much and cutting off blood flow to the heart.

In her survey, Bairey Merz found that 74 percent of the women had at least one heart disease risk factor, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, irregular menstrual periods, early menopause or a family history of heart disease. Yet only 16 percent reported having been told by a doctor that they had an elevated risk.

Instead, Bairey Merz says, the doctors, who also were surveyed by the researchers, were more concerned about their patients’ weight and breast health than heart disease.

All primary care doctors should routinely assess a woman’s risk for heart disease, Mehta says. And if they don’t, women should take the lead and bring up the subject of heart disease and their individual risk. (You can start by using this online risk calculator.)

Pay attention to your body, Mehta tells her patients. “If something seems out of the ordinary, it’s best to seek medical attention, especially if something is occurring only with exertion — or worsening with exertion.

“I’d rather be wrong and go to the ER,” Mehta says, “than die at home.”

A Surgeon

 

As I work with the doctors I have now, people I like and trust, I remember a surgeon who was good to me a long time ago.

When I was maybe 35 years old, a neglected skin cancer, basal cell, had grown to the size of a half dollar on my left temple. My internist referred me to a surgeon who removed the tumor and grafted skin from behind my right hear to cover the wound.  Later I wrote this poem.                         {Ever see a half dollar? 1.2 inches across.}

 

Levin, you bound my head too tight about

a knot of gauze that gnawed my scalp as I

emerged from anesthetic murk. When I

complained you blamed it on the fight I gave you

coming through to conscious wrath.  When you,

who’d snipped, and patched and finely stitched,

finally spun off the swath, you called in all

the floor staff, other cutters, cops and cleaners

to my bed to look and wonder, shake your hand, allowed

in friends and neighbors, local merchants and a TV crew

to praise your nifty work. You were proud,

but at the first, when a friend had come to speak

of dread and anger, you could hear,

and in the legal instance you could bend.

Levin, I bitched, I didn’t pay you,

but I loved you and I didn’t want you dead.

______________________________________

Levin died a year later of a brain tumor.

rjn

 

 

 

Water, Water, Everywhere , Which is Better to Drink ?

 

Where does your water from?   I know that people who suck plastic bottles are sure that they are getting something better than tap water, something worth paying more  than for gasoline, worth many times more than tap water.

 

Image result for plastic water bottles in trash photos

 

OK, I give up–except on one point:

Who knows where that miraculous bottled water has come from?  Anybody reading labels?

In front of me on this hotel room desk is a 5 ml. bottle of water labeled to come from “protected springs” at various Pennsylvania sites.  Niagara Bottling LLC is shown to be in  Ontario, Canada.  Their web address is given where you can read this:

UPDATED – Tuesday September 8, 2015    Niagara Bottling (“Niagara”) issued a voluntary recall of spring water produced at our two (2) Pennsylvania plants from June 10-18th, 2015 because the operator at one of our contracted springs failed to notify us that there was evidence of E. coli bacteria at the spring source.

As of September 7, 2015 Niagara has found no E. coli contamination of any kind in our finished products or in the spring water that was delivered to our bottling facility. We are pleased to report that all samples received from consumers have tested absent for E.coli.

I’ve seen bottles with a notice like this–SOURCE:  Such a Spring, Such another Spring, and other sources.

I cracked up when I check the label on water bottle at our last hotel–SOURCE:  Public Water Resource, Plymouth , Michigan.  Tap water, damn it!  They are selling tap water, and admitting it!     rjn

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source

Tap Water vs. Bottled Water

Why Tap Water Is Better Than Bottled Water

  • Bottled water is not safer than tap water. In fact, more than half of all bottled water comes from the tap.
  • Buying bottled water is like pouring money down the drain. Bottled water costs from $0.89 per gallon to $8.26 per gallon, compared to fractions of a penny for water from your tap. That makes bottled water thousands of times more expensive than tap water.
  • Water bottle garbage is a major source of pollution.
  • Buying a reusable bottle is an easy way to save money and help the environment.

Is My Tap Water Safe?

FACT: Bottled Water is Not Safer Than Tap Water

Did you know that tap water is tested more frequently than bottled water? In fact, in the United States, our drinking water is continuously monitored and treated according to federal standards. If local tap water is unsafe then water companies are obligated, under federal law, to notify the public.

But My Tap Water Tastes Bad, What Should I Do?

How To Check Your Tap Water Quality

Contact your local water company to request a copy of the Annual Water Quality Report, also known as the Consumer Confidence Report. These reports are intended to help people make informed choices about their drinking water. These reports contain a lot of useful information but are often overwhelming or confusing to read. We’ve put together a helpful guide on how to read your report and choose the best filtration system for your home.

What’s in Your Toothpaste?

 

YOUR HEALTH

How To Pick A Tooth Paste

Go to any pharmacy or grocery store and stand in front of the toothpaste aisle and you will face an overwhelming array of choices. Each brand has a plethora of options

PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: And I’m Patti Neighmond in Los Angeles. One of the best things you can do to prevent tooth decay is brush your teeth well and floss every day. But choosing a toothpaste can be overwhelming.

LARRY KOZEK: Toothpaste, look at that.

NEIGHMOND: I’m standing in a local pharmacy with my dentist Dr. Larry Kozek. We’re looking at rows and rows of toothpaste.

KOZEK: I remember when toothpaste used to be toothpaste.

NEIGHMOND: What do you mean?

KOZEK: Well, it was white, it tasted like peppermint. Now we have a whole menu of items in there. We’re afraid not to put things in toothpaste. We’re afraid it won’t sell if it doesn’t have everything in it.

NEIGHMOND: Well, exactly, ’cause what are we looking at? Truly radiant, sensitive, daily repair, advanced whitening.

KOZEK: Pro-health, my goodness – radiant white.

NEIGHMOND: But does all this do anything or is it hype to sell the product?

KOZEK: Let’s see, can we read some of these ingredients?

NEIGHMOND: Yeah.

KOZEK: Water, zorbitrol, hydrated silica, poloxamer 407.

NEIGHMOND: Moisturizers, flavorings, coloring. But Kozek says the single most important ingredient is fluoride.

KOZEK: Because fluoride is the ingredient that hardens the enamel and makes the tooth more resistant to the acids of the bacteria in the mouth.

NEIGHMOND: And there are different types of fluoride.

KOZEK: Sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride. And it’s pretty well accepted that the stannous fluoride is more effective. So if I were looking for a toothpaste and wanted the basic protection and basic care, I would look for a toothpaste that had stannous fluoride in it.

NEIGHMOND: When you were reading that list of ingredients, was that among them?

KOZEK: I didn’t see that in any of those (laughter).

NEIGHMOND: So let’s see if we can grab another one and see if it has stannous fluoride in it.

KOZEK: OK, well, let’s take this here.

NEIGHMOND: This one didn’t contain it either. Another important ingredient, he says, triclosan to fight bacteria that causes tartar. Some worry this chemical is contributing to antibiotic resistance. And if you have sensitive teeth, desensitizing toothpaste does work.

And the whiteners, do they work?

KOZEK: Everybody likes to have white teeth. And we find that the whiteners that are added to the toothpaste and to the mouthwash over time tend to be able to help people keep their teeth whiter but strictly a cosmetic.

NEIGHMOND: And, of course, floss.

KOZEK: The singularly – the most important feature of cleaning our teeth. Which works better, waxed dental floss, plain dental floss, glide dental floss? As long as we mechanically are able to use this string to dislodge the film of plaque on the teeth, we’re doing an effective job.

NEIGHMOND: Kozek recommends flossing first, followed by brushing. Patti Neighmond, NPR News.

Slicing Meat Shaped Modern Humans

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Chew On This: Slicing Meat Helped Shape Modern Humans

Audio for this story from All Things Considered will be available at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET.

Katherine Du/NPRiKatherine Du/NPR

Miss Manners and skilled prep cooks should be pleased: Our early human ancestors likely mastered the art of chopping and slicing more than 2 million years ago. Not only did this yield daintier pieces of meat and vegetables that were much easier to digest raw, with less chewing — it also helped us along the road to becoming modern humans, researchers reported Wednesday.

And our ancestors picked up these skills at least 1.5 million years before cooking took off as a common way to prepare food, the researchers say.

Chewing, it turns out, takes a lot of time and energy, say Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman, evolutionary biologists at Harvard University. They recently set about measuring precisely how much effort is required to chew raw food, and to what degree simple stone tools might have eased the toil.

“Every time I go out to dinner, I watch people chew,” Lieberman tells us. “And sometimes, I actually count how many times they chew.”

Nom Nom: Chimpanzee skull (top), A. afarensis jaws (center) and human jaws. It's likely that tool use and meat-eating reduced the evolutionary pressure to have big, powerful jaws and sharp teeth, the researchers behind a new Nature study say.

Nom Nom: Chimpanzee skull (top), A. afarensis jaws (center) and human jaws. It’s likely that tool use and meat-eating reduced the evolutionary pressure to have big, powerful jaws and sharp teeth, the researchers behind a new Naturestudy say.

John Reader/Science Source

It’s not just a hobby. Lieberman’s interest gets to some basic questions of how humans evolved.

Scientists have long known that Homo erectus, an ancestor of modern humans who lived about 2 million years ago, had already evolved to have a bigger body and brain than earlier hominins, and would have needed much more daily energy to survive. But the jaw and teeth of H. erectus were much like ours today — significantly smaller and less powerful than those of Australopithecus afarensis, or other hominins of earlier epochs.

A diet that included cooked meat would have provided that ready energy without the need for sharp canines and big grinders. But the research evidence is pretty clear that cooking didn’t become common until about 500,000 years ago, Lieberman says. So, how did H. erectus get the needed calories?

To test a long-held hypothesis that simple food processing might be the answer, Zink and Lieberman invited some Harvard colleagues to what Zink calls “a lab café,” and served them small portions of carrots, beets, jewel yams and goat meat. The food was served variously as roasted or raw; sliced, pounded or left in hunks.

“If I were to give you raw goat,” Lieberman says, “you’d chew, and nothing would happen.” Like a lot of wild game, goat meat tends to be stringy, he says. Chewing a big piece makes it more elastic, but it doesn’t readily break into pieces.

“But if you cut goat into smaller pieces,” he says, “your ability to chew it would improved dramatically.”

All the volunteers (14 for the vegetables and just 10 for the goat meat) wore a number of small sensors pasted to their faces, to detect and count contractions of various muscle fibers as they chewed the bite of food to the point of swallowing. The scientists then translated those contractions into a measure of muscular effort, and also checked to see how well the food was broken up.

Their results, published in the journal Nature, suggest that when eating a diet made up of one-third meat, if early humans pounded the vegetables before eating them, and sliced the meat, they would need to chew 17 percent less often and 26 percent less forcefully than if they started with larger slabs of the food. Every little flex of the jaw and grinding of the teeth adds up: Over the course of a year, Lieberman says, simply having a sharp stone to slice meat would reduce the number of “chews” needed by 2.5 million.

“I think it’s amazing,” he says, “to think that the simple stone tool could have amassive effect on how effectively we chew a piece of meat.”

It’s possible, he and Zink think, that the benefits of meat-eating and food processing favored the transition to smaller teeth and jaws.

But it seems more likely, they write in their study, that tool use and meat-eating simply reduced the evolutionary pressure to have big, powerful jaws and sharp teeth, “thus permitting selection to decrease facial and dental size for other functions, such as speech production, locomotion, thermoregulation, or, perhaps even changes in the size and shape of the brain.”


The Time Traveler’s Cookbook–take a look:  Several years ago, as part of our Meat Week coverage, we put together a tongue-in-cheek cookbook — based on archaeological digs and actual historical texts — tracing humanity’s changing relationship with meat. Check it out below or download the PDF.

 

 

 

 

 

Old Folks at Home–a Zoo

ANTHONY SOUFFLE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE PHOTOS Brookfield Zoo veterinary staff prepare Sabu, a 5-year-old male snow leopard, for X-rays after surgery to remove a tongue tumor.

Caring for zoos’ elderly
Medical advances lengthen animals’ lives but lead to unsettling questions
By Ted Gregory Chicago Tribune  3.6.16

   Ramar the gorilla is on Celebrex. Hiss Majesty the caiman lizard has been fitted with a prosthesis, and Heidi the reindeer eats hay soaked in water.   They’re geriatric animals at Brookfield Zoo and Shedd Aquarium, and their population is increasing, a result of generally improving care for animals in mainstream zoos and aquariums across the country.  

Those improvements have brought a new challenge: higher numbers of age-related health problems in animals. To address those maladies, zoos and aquariums are leaning on human health-care technology and tweaking traditional approaches. But the further institutions evolve in animal care, the deeper they venture into a cloudy ethical landscape of determining when to end an animal’s life.   “We’re not doing it to create longevity records,” Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs at Brookfield, said of improving care for animals. “We’re doing it because we’re trying to create the best care and welfare.

It’s subtle, but it’s a big difference in how we approach things.”   Like medical care for humans, care for zoo and aquarium animals has been improving steadily through decades of more useful technology, better medicine and growing bodies of research. And the relatively new maladies zoo and aquarium veterinarians are seeing resemble those seen by physicians treating people in their golden years.

In Ramar’s case, it was arthritis in his knees. Hiss Majesty was stricken late in life with a cancerous growth in a foot. Heidi is 14 years old and her teeth are deteriorating. Cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, failing eyesight and kidney malfunction are other conditions elderly animals share with their human counterparts.  

ANTHONY SOUFFLE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE PHOTOS Brookfield Zoo veterinary staff members move Sabu from the operating table after surgery to remove a tumor from underneath his tongue on Feb. 24.

“If we have a lot of animals that are living longer, we need ways to care for them and also make sure we have enough space for newer animals,” said Lisa Faust, vice president of conservation and science at Lincoln Park Zoo, which is participating in a collection and analysis of species data to determine median life expectancy for all animals in zoos and aquariums. “It’s a balancing act.”  

To reach the point of giving human medications to Ramar, Brookfield performed CT scans on the silverback gorilla to pinpoint specific joints that were giving him the most trouble, said Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine at Brookfield. Adkesson then compared Ramar’s scans with those of humans and spoke with the patients’ doctors to get a clearer sense of how much pain Ramar was experiencing.   “A lot of our animals end up on medications that are very similar to what you’d probably find in the drug cabinet of an older person in a nursing home,” he said.   In addition to giving Celebrex to Ramar, zoo staff changed the position of hand holds in his exhibit to allow him to pull, relieving pressure on his knees. They also gave him a rolling stool to sit on, instead of squatting, and separated him from the rest of the group to eliminate other apes’ increased aggression toward Ramar, a typical response to older gorillas.  

Heidi, the reindeer, is arthritic and is on a low dose of anti-inflammatory medication. Her more pressing issue is that she has lost a few teeth, prompting use of the water-softened hay. Keepers at Brookfield’s Hamill Family Wild Encounters, where Heidi is on display, also use fans and misters to keep her cool in hot weather, lead keeper Andy Schertz said. Keepers at Brookfield’s Hamill Family Wild Encounters, where Heidi is on display, also use fans and misters to keep her cool in hot weather, lead keeper Andy Schertz said. 

Andy Schertz tends to Heidi, a 14-year-old Brookfield Zoo reindeer, on Feb. 25. Heidi has already shed one of her antlers for the year, and the other will fall off soon.

  All animals at Brookfield are on a preventive health program that includes routine checkups and, if necessary, preventive surgeries. In late February, for example, Sabu, a 5-year-old male snow leopard at Brookfield, underwent surgery to remove a mass on his tongue that might have become malignant.  

Animals tend to mask pain to prevent isolation from their herd, flock or school, and to avoid predators looking for vulnerable prey, experts say. They are, of course, unable to tell keepers and veterinarians about the pain they may be experiencing.   Technology helps to close that communication gap.   Brookfield acquired a thermal-graphic camera that detects heat — an indicator of arthritis or inflammation — as well as a pressure-sensitive gait analysis mat that allows veterinarians to track an animal’s walk and determine if it’s becoming lame. In addition, Brookfield officials say they are one of only two zoos in North America with a CT scanner.  

Maggie is a 54-year-old orangutan who has played surrogate mom to several abandoned babies at Brookfield Zoo.

Shedd Aquarium uses a mammography unit to X-ray tiny frogs and is looking at how to take heart rhythm readings of fish by adapting a device designed for human EKGs, said William Van Bonn, the aquarium’s vice president of animal health.  

Granddad, an 85-year-old Australian lung fish, swims in his Shedd Aquarium enclosure on Feb. 26.

Hiss Majesty, the lizard Shedd says is at least 15 years old, developed a tumor in his right rear foot. Tumor and foot were removed in the middle of last year. Today, after being fitted with a prothesis made through the use of a 3-D printer, Hiss Majesty can be seen in the Amazon Rising exhibit, where he sometimes wears his prosthetic and sometimes doesn’t.  

At Lincoln Park Zoo, one of its more prominent, geriatric residents has avoided surgery so far. Maku, an eastern black rhinoceros that will mark his 30th birthday Friday, receives joint-enhancing nutrients in a powder sprinkled on his fruit and vegetables, said Dr. Kathryn Gamble, the Dr. Lester E. Fisher director of Veterinary Medicine at the zoo.  

On a broader scale, Lincoln Park’s Population Management Center is running the Survival Statistics Program, data collection and analysis aimed at finding species’ median life expectancy, with the aim of planning better care for animals as they approach later stages of life.   The program has analyzed data from 297 species in institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and compiled median life expectancies for 235 of those species, Lincoln Park spokeswoman Jillian Braun said. It continues to add species and update data as more information flows in, Braun said.  

Finding the balance between caring for older animals while opening space for newer ones raises the sensitive issue of euthanizing animals, a topic that institutions are refining as animals’ health care advances.  

A few weeks ago, Brookfield’s Adkesson and his team gave a presentation on euthanasia to zoo staff. The goal is to start having open, candid conversations about age-related conditions earlier in an animal’s life, and to make sure that discussion includes veterinarians, keepers, nutritionists and welfare assessment teams, Adkesson said.   Those delicate conversations on animals’ quality of life often involve whether they are interacting normally with other animals in their group and care staff, eating normally, maintaining proper weight or experiencing muscle wasting.  

“Euthanasia is a difficult thing to process, and it’s a difficult thing to do,” Adkesson said. “But in many ways, it is a final act of kindness, and it is an ability to alleviate suffering and to let an animal end its life with dignity and some grace.”   He said staff at the zoo prefer never to euthanize an animal too late, not even by a day.   Dr. Vint Virga, an expert on animal behavior and author of the book “The Soul of All Living Creatures,” who has consulted with zoos and similar institutions for years, cautioned against taking too rigid an approach to ending the life of an animal in a zoo, aquarium or wildlife park.   Every situation and every animal needs to be considered independently, he said. Whatever decision an accredited institution makes, it’s almost always more humane than the animal’s fate in the wild — a fact that sometimes gets forgotten.   “A pronghorn losing its life to a cheetah is rough,” Virga said. “Nature is not as kind to these animals as some people might think.”tgregory@tribpub.com    Twitter @tgregoryreports

Cookie, an 82-year-old cockatoo, is fed by her Brookfield Zoo keeper in an off-exhibit area.