Saturday, 10 December 2011

40 per cent of Cancers due to Lifestyle

7 December 2011 Last updated at 02:04 ET
Over 40% of cancers due to lifestyle, says review
By Michelle Roberts
Health reporter, BBC News
Nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK each year - over 130,000 in total - are caused by avoidable life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, a review reveals.
Tobacco is the biggest culprit, causing 23% of cases in men and 15.6% in women, says the Cancer Research UK report.
Next comes a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in men's diets, while for women it is being overweight.
The report is published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Its authors claim it is the most comprehensive analysis to date on the subject.
Lead author Prof Max Parkin said: "Many people believe cancer is down to fate or 'in the genes' and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it.
"Looking at all the evidence, it's clear that around 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change."
Weighty matters
For men, the best advice appears to be: stop smoking, eat more fruit and veg and cut down on how much alcohol you drink.
For women, again, the reviews says the best advice is to stop smoking, but also watch your weight.
Prof Parkin said: "We didn't expect to find that eating fruit and vegetables would prove to be so important in protecting men against cancer. And among women we didn't expect being overweight to be more of a risk factor than alcohol."
In total, 14 lifestyle and environmental factors, such as where you live and the job you do, combine to cause 134,000 cancers in the UK each year.
About 100,000 (34%) of the cancers are linked to smoking, diet, alcohol and excess weight.
One in 25 of cancers is linked to a person's job, such as being exposed to chemicals or asbestos.
Some risk factors are well established, such as smoking's link with lung cancer.
But others are less recognised.
For example, for breast cancer, nearly a 10th of the risk comes from being overweight or obese, far outweighing the impact of whether or not the woman breastfeeds or drinks alcohol.
And for oesophageal or gullet cancer, half of the risk comes from eating too little fruit and veg, while only a fifth of the risk is from alcohol, the report shows.
For stomach cancer, a fifth of the risk comes from having too much salt in the diet, data suggests.
Some cancers, like mouth and throat cancer, are caused almost entirely by lifestyle choices.
But others, like gall bladder cancer, are largely unrelated to lifestyle.
The researchers base their calculations on predicted numbers of cases for 18 different types of cancer in 2010, using UK incidence figures for the 15-year period from 1993 to 2007.
In men, 6.1% (9,600) of cancer cases were linked to a lack of fruit and vegetables, 4.9% (7,800) to occupation, 4.6% (7,300) to alcohol, 4.1% (6,500) to overweight and obesity and 3.5% (5,500) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds.
In women, 6.9% (10,800) were linked to overweight and obesity, 3.7% (5,800) to infections such as HPV (which causes most cases of cervical cancer), 3.6% (5,600) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds, 3.4% (5,300) to lack of fruit and vegetables and 3.3% (5,100) to alcohol.
Dr Rachel Thompson, of the World Cancer Research Fund, said the report added to the "now overwhelmingly strong evidence that our cancer risk is affected by our lifestyles".
Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said leading a healthy lifestyle did not guarantee a person would not get cancer but the study showed "we can significantly stack the odds in our favour".
"If there are things we can do to reduce our risk of cancer we should do as much as we possibly can," he said.
Glyn Berwick, of Penny Brohn Cancer Care, which specialises in offering nutrition and exercise advice, agreed.
"We know from years of experience the positive impact that changing lifetsyles can have."
The president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Richard Thompson, said the findings were a wake-up call to the government to take stronger action on public health.
"The rising incidence of preventable cancers shows that the 'carrot' approach of voluntary agreements with industry is not enough to prompt healthy behaviours, and needs to be replaced by the 'stick' approach of legislative solutions," he said
The government said it was intending to begin a consultation on plain packaging by the end of this year.
Diane Abbott, Shadow Public Health Minister, said: "The government is failing on all the main public health issues.
"And the message from Labour, the Tory-led Public Health Committee, campaigners like Jamie Oliver and even some the government's own policy panels is clear: the government's approach to tackling lifestyle-related health problems is completely inadequate."
Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "We all know that around 23,000 cases of lung cancer could be stopped each year in England if people didn't smoke.
"By making small changes we can cut our risk of serious health problems - give up smoking, watch what you drink, get more exercise and keep an eye on your weight."

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Fidel and Thatcher... Needed only 4 hours of Sleep

Liking a lie-in in people's genes, researchers say

The study involved more than 10,000 people in a number of European countries

People who like a lie-in may now have an excuse - it is at least partly down to their genes, according to experts.

Experts, who studied more than 10,000 people across Europe, found those with the gene ABCC9 need around 30 minutes more sleep per night than those without the gene.

The gene is carried by one in five Europeans, they say in their study, published in Molecular Psychiatry.

The researchers said the finding could help explain "sleep behaviour".

Over 10,000 people took part, each reporting how long they slept and providing a blood sample for DNA analysis.

People's sleep needs can differ significantly.

At the extreme, Margaret Thatcher managed on four hours of sleep a night while Albert Einstein needed 11.

Fruit flies
People from the Orkney Isles, Croatia, the Netherlands, Italy, Estonia and Germany took part in the study.

A tendency to sleep for longer or shorter periods often runs in families”

Dr Jim Wilson
University of Edinburgh
All were asked about their sleep patterns on "free" days, when people did not need to get up for work the next day, take sleeping pills or work shifts.

When the researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich compared these figures with the results of the genetic analysis, they found those with a variation of a gene known as ABCC9 needed more sleep than the eight-hour average.

They then looked at how the gene works in fruit flies, who also have it and found flies without ABCC9 slept for three hours less than normal.

The gene ABCC9 is involved in sensing energy levels of cells in the body.

They say this opens up a new line of research in sleep studies, and it is hoped that future work could establish exactly how this gene variant regulates how long people sleep for.

Dr Jim Wilson, from the University of Edinburgh's centre for population health sciences, said: "Humans sleep for approximately one-third of their lifetime.

"A tendency to sleep for longer or shorter periods often runs in families despite the fact that the amount of sleep people need can be influenced by age, latitude, season and circadian rhythms.

"These insights into the biology of sleep will be important in unravelling the health effects of sleep behaviour."

Sleep expert Neil Stanley said around half a dozen genes had been linked to sleep patterns.

He added: "It's interesting to know about these genes, but in a way our genes are an irrelevance unless you were actually to obey them - but none of us do that."

Monday, 28 November 2011


Food We Eat Might Control Our Genes
Scientists find rice microRNA inside human cells
By Anne-Marie C. Hodge | November 25, 2011 | 22

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Image: Busse Yankushev Alamy
“You are what you eat.” The old adage has for decades weighed on the minds of consumers who fret over responsible food choices. Yet what if it was literally true? What if material from our food actually made its way into the innermost control centers of our cells, taking charge of fundamental gene expression?

That is in fact what happens, according to a recent study of plant-animal micro­RNA transfer led by Chen-Yu Zhang of Nanjing University in China. MicroRNAs are short sequences of nucleotides—the building blocks of genetic material. Although microRNAs do not code for proteins, they prevent specific genes from giving rise to the proteins they encode. Blood samples from 21 volunteers were tested for the presence of microRNAs from crop plants, such as rice, wheat, potatoes and cabbage.

The results, published in the journal Cell Research, showed that the subjects’ bloodstream contained approximately 30 different microRNAs from commonly eaten plants. It appears that they can also alter cell function: a specific rice microRNA was shown to bind to and inhibit the activity of receptors controlling the removal of LDL—“bad” cholesterol—from the bloodstream. Like vitamins and minerals, microRNA may represent a previously unrecognized type of functional molecule obtained from food.

The revelation that plant microRNAs play a role in controlling human physiology highlights the fact that our bodies are highly integrated ecosystems. Zhang says the findings may also illuminate our understanding of co-evolution, a process in which genetic changes in one species trigger changes in another. For example, our ability to digest the lactose in milk after infancy arose after we domesticated cattle. Could the plants we cultivated have altered us as well? Zhang’s study is another reminder that nothing in nature exists in isolation.


Four Drugs Cause Most Hospitalizations in Older Adults

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
NOV 28, 2011
Some medications may cause dangerous reactions.
Blood thinners and diabetes drugs cause most emergency hospital visits for drug reactions among people over 65 in the United States, a new study shows.

Just four medications or medication groups — used alone or together — were responsible for two-thirds of emergency hospitalizations among older Americans, according to the report. At the top of the list was warfarin, also known as Coumadin, a blood thinner. It accounted for 33 percent of emergency hospital visits. Insulin injections were next on the list, accounting for 14 percent of emergency visits.

Aspirin, clopidogrel and other antiplatelet drugs that help prevent blood clotting were involved in 13 percent of emergency visits. And just behind them were diabetes drugs taken by mouth, called oral hypoglycemic agents, which were implicated in 11 percent of hospitalizations.

All these drugs are commonly prescribed to older adults, and they can be hard to use correctly. One problem they share is a narrow therapeutic index, meaning the line between an effective dose and a hazardous one is thin. The sheer extent to which they are involved in hospitalizations among older people, though, was not expected, said Dr. Dan Budnitz, an author of the study and director of the Medication Safety Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We weren’t so surprised at the particular drugs that were involved,” Dr. Budnitz said. “But we were surprised how many of the emergency hospitalizations were due to such a relatively small number of these drugs.”

Every year, about 100,000 people in the United States over age 65 are taken to hospitals for adverse reactions to medications. About two-thirds end up there because of accidental overdoses, or because the amount of medication prescribed for them had a more powerful effect than intended.

As Americans live longer and take more medications — 40 percent of people over 65 take five to nine medications — hospitalizations for accidental overdoses and adverse side effects are likely to increase, experts say.

In the latest study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Budnitz and his colleagues combed through data collected from 2007 to 2009 at 58 hospitals around the country. The hospitals were all participating in a surveillance project run by the C.D.C. that looks at adverse drug events.

A common denominator among the drugs topping the list is that they can be difficult to use. Some require blood testing to adjust their doses, and a small dose can have a powerful effect. Blood sugar can be notoriously hard to control in people with diabetes, for example, and taking a slightly larger dose of insulin than needed can send a person into shock. Warfarin, meanwhile, is the classic example of a drug with a narrow margin between therapeutic and toxic doses, requiring regular blood monitoring, and it can interact with many other drugs and foods.

“These are medicines that are critical,” Dr. Budnitz said, “but because they cause so many of these harms, it’s important that they’re managed appropriately.”

One thing that stood out in the data, the researchers noted, was that none of the four drugs identified as frequent culprits are typically among the types of drugs labeled “high risk” for older adults by major health care groups. The medications that are usually designated high risk or “potentially inappropriate” are commonly used over-the-counter drugs like Benadryl, as well as Demerol and other powerful narcotic painkillers. And yet those drugs accounted for only about 8 percent of emergency hospitalizations among the elderly.

Dr. Budnitz said that the new findings should provide an opportunity to reduce the number of emergency hospitalizations in older adults by focusing on improving the safety of this small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications, rather than by trying to stop the use of drugs typically thought of as risky for this group.

“I think the bottom line for patients is that they should tell all their doctors that they’re on these medications,” he said, “and they should work with their physicians and pharmacies to make sure they get appropriate testing and are taking the appropriate doses.”

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Experimental Philosophy of Everyday Life

Experimental Philosophy of Everyday Life
Following closely the real life adventures in Thought Experiments of my dear friend MC-a mixture of self-realization, applied psychology and Philosophy-I wanted to delve more into the realm of Philosophy in everyday life.
Two prominent findings stood out:
1. Most of the personal conflicts are self-made or man-made and the person confirms it by their self-made or imagined justifications.
2. Most people do not wish to do anything about it, find reasons not do so or follow charlatan advice that reinforces their reluctance, at times adding an exotic note.
The story of a man who was walking with a stone in his shoes all his life, as explained by the Philosopher Counsellor Dr Lou Merinoff is a good illustration of the latter finding and the former finding is contrary to many of the Mental Health professional’s idea of why personal conflicts rise.
A good woman friend of mine, who lives in Teheran, Iran, sent me a link to an Iranian website where educated men posed nude in their blogs, as a protest in a country where women are subjected to extreme violence regarding the exhibition of their bodies, also to demonstrate that the beauty of something being exhibited is not in the object itself but in your thoughts, how you interpret it.
Without context, things have no meaning, I thought to myself. Having lived in countries known for its freedom: Australia, Sweden, UK and USA with forays into the closed political systems of Cuba and Burma, the photographs did not appear to be beautiful to me, appeared somewhat rude. Whereas photos of young women being hoarded into police vans by stern looking head to toe covered policewomen appeared very violent.
This is where the Experimental Philosophy or its use as a counselling tool comes in handy.
The photos themselves are not inherently bad, but my interpretation attaches values to them. Sounds very yogic as well, this western idea of experimental philosophy.
So what we call our “core values” can be seen to be influenced by context: time, distance, lack of awareness, ignorance among others.

Something to think about on this Sunday morning under grey skies in Paris but not an unpleasant day expected.
Regarding the man who has a stone in his shoes, IF he requests your help, if he is ready to accept your help, you should ask him to take the stone out of his shoes!
Those who are interested in reading about Knobe effect, please refer to ScientificAmerican/nov2011/knobe

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Protect the Heart in patients with Diabetes

Omega-3 fatty acids may stave off CV events in high-risk patients with diabetes
Kromhout D. Diabetes Care. 2011;34:2515-2520.
Low-dose supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may protect patients with diabetes and a history of myocardial infarction from ventricular arrhythmia-related events, new data from the Alpha Omega Trial suggest.
Daan Kromhout, MPH, PhD, of the division of human nutrition at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and colleagues randomly assigned 1,014 patients aged 60 to 80 years with diabetes to consume one of four margarines supplemented with daily recommended doses of omega-3 fatty acids: 400 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day; 2 g alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) per day; a combination of the recommended daily doses of EPA, DHA and ALA; or placebo for 40 months. All patients had MI within the past 10 years.
On average, patients consumed 18.6 g margarine daily, according to the researchers, leading to additional intakes of 223 mg EPA, 149 mg DHA and 1.9 g ALA per day. During a median follow-up period of 40.7 months, 29 patients developed a ventricular arrhythmia-related event and 27 died of MI. Data indicate that supplementation with any combination of the omega-3 fatty acids decreased ventricular arrhythmia-related events compared with placebo. However, patients assigned EPA and DHA plus ALA supplementation experienced the lowest incidence, with adjusted analyses suggesting that supplementation decreased these events by 84% vs. placebo (HR=0.16; 95% CI, 0.04-0.69). Results were similar for the combined endpoint of cardiac arrest and sudden death (HR=0.13; 95% CI, 0.02-1.09) and placement of cardioverter defibrillators(HR=0.19; 95% CI, 0.02-1.55).
Although the researchers found no significant reductions in fatal MI among the treatment groups, after adjustment for potential confounders, combined supplementation of EPA and DHA plus ALA appeared to reduce the combined endpoint of ventricular arrhythmia-related events and fatal MI by 72% (HR=0.28; 95% CI, 0.11-0.71), the researchers said.
“While more research is needed to definitively determine the role of these fatty acids in protecting people from ventricular arrhythmias, they seem to provide a benefit to the heart attack patients who also had diabetes,” Kromhout said in a press release. “This is the first study that showed a significant protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids in high-risk patients with diabetes who were on state-of-the-art drug treatment for their heart attack.”
Disclosure: Unilever provided an unrestricted grant for distribution of trial margarines to the patients, and one researcher reports being an employee of Unilever.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Nature Vs Nurture Once again, this time Nature vs Practice

November 19, 2011
Sorry, Strivers: Talent Matters
HOW do people acquire high levels of skill in science, business, music, the arts and sports? This has long been a topic of intense debate in psychology.

Research in recent decades has shown that a big part of the answer is simply practice — and a lot of it. In a pioneering study, the Florida State University psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues asked violin students at a music academy to estimate the amount of time they had devoted to practice since they started playing. By age 20, the students whom the faculty nominated as the “best” players had accumulated an average of over 10,000 hours, compared with just under 8,000 hours for the “good” players and not even 5,000 hours for the least skilled.

Those findings have been enthusiastically championed, perhaps because of their meritocratic appeal: what seems to separate the great from the merely good is hard work, not intellectual ability. Summing up Mr. Ericsson’s research in his book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell observes that practice isn’t “the thing you do once you’re good” but “the thing you do that makes you good.” He adds that intellectual ability — the trait that an I.Q. score reflects — turns out not to be that important. “Once someone has reached an I.Q. of somewhere around 120,” he writes, “having additional I.Q. points doesn’t seem to translate into any measureable real-world advantage.”

David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, restates this idea in his book “The Social Animal,” while Geoff Colvin, in his book “Talent Is Overrated,” adds that “I.Q. is a decent predictor of performance on an unfamiliar task, but once a person has been at a job for a few years, I.Q. predicts little or nothing about performance.”

But this isn’t quite the story that science tells. Research has shown that intellectual ability matters for success in many fields — and not just up to a point.

Exhibit A is a landmark study of intellectually precocious youths directed by the Vanderbilt University researchers David Lubinski and Camilla Benbow. They and their colleagues tracked the educational and occupational accomplishments of more than 2,000 people who as part of a youth talent search scored in the top 1 percent on the SAT by the age of 13. (Scores on the SAT correlate so highly with I.Q. that the psychologist Howard Gardner described it as a “thinly disguised” intelligence test.) The remarkable finding of their study is that, compared with the participants who were “only” in the 99.1 percentile for intellectual ability at age 12, those who were in the 99.9 percentile — the profoundly gifted — were between three and five times more likely to go on to earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work. A high level of intellectual ability gives you an enormous real-world advantage.

In our own recent research, we have discovered that “working memory capacity,” a core component of intellectual ability, predicts success in a wide variety of complex activities. In one study, we assessed the practice habits of pianists and then gauged their working memory capacity, which is measured by having a person try to remember information (like a list of random digits) while performing another task. We then had the pianists sight read pieces of music without preparation.

Not surprisingly, there was a strong positive correlation between practice habits and sight-reading performance. In fact, the total amount of practice the pianists had accumulated in their piano careers accounted for nearly half of the performance differences across participants. But working memory capacity made a statistically significant contribution as well (about 7 percent, a medium-size effect). In other words, if you took two pianists with the same amount of practice, but different levels of working memory capacity, it’s likely that the one higher in working memory capacity would have performed considerably better on the sight-reading task.

It would be nice if intellectual ability and the capacities that underlie it were important for success only up to a point. In fact, it would be nice if they weren’t important at all, because research shows that those factors are highly stable across an individual’s life span. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

None of this is to deny the power of practice. Nor is it to say that it’s impossible for a person with an average I.Q. to, say, earn a Ph.D. in physics. It’s just unlikely, relatively speaking. Sometimes the story that science tells us isn’t the story we want to hear.

David Z. Hambrick and Elizabeth J. Meinz are associate professors of psychology at Michigan State University and Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, respectively.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup and Fatty Liver Disease

High-fructose corn syrup consumption may push fatty livers to the brink
March 18, 2010 | 6:12 pm
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is one of the many consequences of obesity, as fat accumulates not only across the body and around the visceral organs, but inside the organ that helps break down fats, filter toxins from the bloodstream and create useable fuel from the food we eat. About 3 in 10 American adults suffer from nonalcoholic fatty liver. But it's a population of patients that's grown so fast, there isn't a lot known about their risks, and what factors aggravate those risks.

Researchers know those with nonalcoholic fatty liver are more likely than those without such fatty deposits to develop cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure requiring transplant. Still, a minority of those patients will do so, and doctors wish they could identify what factors may push those with fatty liver toward those outcomes.

The development of tough scar tissue in the liver can be a sign that liver failure may lie ahead. For heavy alcohol consumers, an alcoholic bender can cause scarring, or fibrosis, and lead to trouble. That's why those with signs of alcoholic fatty liver are urged to stop drinking alcohol.

A new study suggests that for those with nonalcoholic fatty liver, drinking a lot of beverages sweetened with fructose may do the same thing as liquor.

The study, published in the journal Hepatology, tracked 427 patients with fatty liver disease to see whether consumption of fructose made a difference in the progression of fatty liver to the organ's failure. The Duke University researchers asked subjects only about how many fructose-sweetened beverages a week they drank, including fruit juices and soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup -- yielding a conservative accounting, since the stuff is also used in baking and other processed foods. Though only 19% of the fatty liver patients consumed few or no fructose sweetened beverages, 28% drank at least one a day.

Best represented among the heavy fructose consumers were subjects who were younger, male and Latino, and who had a higher BMI.

Compared to subjects who drank the least fructose beverages, those who drank the most were significantly more likely to have the hepatic scarring that will more often progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer. And older subjects who regularly consumed fructose beverages showed more signs of liver inflammation. After they stripped out the effects of age, gender and body-mass index, the researchers also found that the heavy fructose drinkers also have lower levels of HDL (or "good") cholesterol.

Duke University hepatologist Dr. Manal Abdelmalek said in a news release that high-fructose corn syrup, which was first introduced into the human diet in the 1970s and has accounted for an average of 10% of Americans' caloric intake over the last decade, "may not be as benign as we previously thought." While researchers have demonstrated clearly that the stuff has "fueled the fire of the obesity epidemic," added Abdelmalek, "untill now, no one has ever suggested it contributes to liver disease and/or liver injury."

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Australian Researchers find FAT TASTE

Australian researchers say fat is 'sixth taste'
March 8, 2010

It's a theory set to confirm why humans are so fond of fatty foods such as chips and chocolate cake: in addition to the five tastes already identified lurks another detectable by the palate -- fat.

"We know that the human tongue can detect five tastes -- sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (a savoury, protein-rich taste contained in foods such as soy sauce and chicken stock)," Russell Keast, from Deakin University, said Monday.
"Through our study we can conclude that humans have a sixth taste -- fat."
Researchers tested 30 people's ability to taste a range of fatty acids in otherwise plain solutions and found that all were able to determine the taste -- though some required higher concentrations than others.
They then developed a screening test to see how sensitive people were to the taste and found that, of the 50 people tested, their ability to detect fat was linked to their weight -- a finding which could help counter obesity.
"We found that the people who were sensitive to fat, who could taste very low concentrations, actually consumed less fat than the people who were insensitive," Keast told AFP.
"We also found that they had lower BMIs (Body Mass Indexes)."
Keast said the research, conducted in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, New Zealand's Massey University and Australian science body CSIRO, suggested that the taste of fat could trigger a mechanism in the body.
"We all like eating fatty foods. What we speculate is (that) the mechanism is to do with stopping eating. Your body is able to tell you you've had enough and stop," he explained.
"And if you are insensitive to it, you're not getting that feedback."
With fats easily accessible and commonly consumed, it was possible that people may become desensitised to the taste of fat, leaving some more prone to overindulging in calorie-rich foods, he added.
The results, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, have not definitively classified fat as a taste but Keast says the evidence is strong and mounting.
For something to be classified as a taste there needed to be proven receptor mechanisms on taste cells in the mouth, he said.
"We have what... we will call possible candidate receptors for fat on taste receptor cells," he said.

Study Shows Why It’s Hard to Keep Weight Off By GINA KOLATA Published: October 26, 2011

For years, studies of obesity have found that soon after fat people lost weight, their metabolism slowed and they experienced hormonal changes that increased their appetites. Scientists hypothesized that these biological changes could explain why most obese dieters quickly gained back much of what they had so painfully lost.

But now a group of Australian researchers have taken those investigations a step further to see if the changes persist over a longer time frame. They recruited healthy people who were either overweight or obese and put them on a highly restricted diet that led them to lose at least 10 percent of their body weight. They then kept them on a diet to maintain that weight loss. A year later, the researchers found that the participants’ metabolism and hormone levels had not returned to the levels before the study started.

The study, being published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, is small and far from perfect, but confirms their convictions about why it is so hard to lose weight and keep it off, say obesity researchers who were not involved the study.

They cautioned that the study had only 50 subjects, and 16 of them quit or did not lose the required 10 percent of body weight. And while the hormones studied have a logical connection with weight gain, the researchers did not show that the hormones were causing the subjects to gain back their weight.

Nonetheless, said Dr. Rudolph Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia, while it is no surprise that hormone levels changed shortly after the participants lost weight, “what is impressive is that these changes don’t go away.”

Dr. Stephen Bloom, an obesity researcher at Hammersmith Hospital in London, said the study needed to be repeated under more rigorous conditions, but added, “It is showing something I believe in deeply — it is very hard to lose weight.” And the reason, he said, is that “your hormones work against you.”

In the study, Joseph Proietto and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne recruited people who weighed an average of 209 pounds. At the start of the study, his team measured the participants’ hormone levels and assessed their hunger and appetites after they ate a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast. The dieters then spent 10 weeks on a very low calorie regimen of 500 to 550 calories a day intended to makes them lose 10 percent of their body weight. In fact, their weight loss averaged 14 percent, or 29 pounds. As expected, their hormone levels changed in a way that increased their appetites, and indeed they were hungrier than when they started the study.

They were then given diets intended to maintain their weight loss. A year after the subjects had lost the weight, the researchers repeated their measurements. The subjects were gaining the weight back despite the maintenance diet — on average, gaining back half of what they had lost — and the hormone levels offered a possible explanation.

One hormone, leptin, which tells the brain how much body fat is present, fell by two-thirds immediately after the subjects lost weight. When leptin falls, appetite increases and metabolism slows. A year after the weight loss diet, leptin levels were still one-third lower than they were at the start of the study, and leptin levels increased as subjects regained their weight.

Other hormones that stimulate hunger, in particular ghrelin, whose levels increased, and peptide YY, whose levels decreased, were also changed a year later in a way that made the subjects’ appetites stronger than at the start of the study.

The results show, once again, Dr. Leibel said, that losing weight “is not a neutral event,” and that it is no accident that more than 90 percent of people who lose a lot of weight gain it back. “You are putting your body into a circumstance it will resist,” he said. “You are, in a sense, more metabolically normal when you are at a higher body weight.”

A solution might be to restore hormones to normal levels by giving drugs after dieters lose weight. But it is also possible, said Dr. Jules Hirsch of Rockefeller University, that researchers just do not know enough about obesity to prescribe solutions.

One thing is clear, he said: “A vast effort to persuade the public to change its habits just hasn’t prevented or cured obesity.”

“We need more knowledge,” Dr. Hirsch said. “Condemning the public for their uncontrollable hedonism and the food industry for its inequities just doesn’t seem to be turning the tide.”

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Pancreatic Cancer, Diabetes Education, Vitamins, Obesity decreasing..Medical News of Interest this week

Summary of some Health News of Interest

Diabetes Education and Cognitive Change Counseling can bring about a reduction in Blood Glucose in patients struggling to control their Diabetes. Some of the reductions are equal to or better than some of the newer medications for Type 2 Diabetes.
More is not Better, a study among older women in Iowa concludes about Vitamin usage and increased mortality.
Multivitamins, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc seems to be the culprits with worse results with Iron when used without a medical reason to do so. Calcium is protective and Vitamin D is recommended for people with deficiency in Vitamin D.
Three personalities who died in the past few days all died of Pancreatic Cancer: Steve Jobs, The Nobel Prize winner in Medicine from Rockefeller U and Roger Williams the Pianist. Is there an increase in Pancreatic Cancer? Yes there is, especially in people with lifestyle pattern consistent with Ill health. Steve Jobs’ pancreatic cancer was a rare one.
One in eight, approximately, medical advances touted as bringing benefit to humanity are later withdrawn because of the wrong premises on which the studies were based. Do not be the first one to adopt a study nor be the last one to do so, is a good advice given to me at University of Miami School of Medicine.

Now the Good News is: Americans are tad less Overweight than just one year ago, now 36.6 per cent are of normal weight, one per cent higher than one year ago.
Have we succeeded in getting the message across about nutrition and exercise? Don't be so eager to accept the accolades before you realize that a sagging economy have made more people eat at home.
The take home lesson is EATING OUT IN AMERICA is dangerous to an ordinary American!
The results are in for the Science and Maths scores from around the world, the first two cities whose students came out ahead are…
Both in China
Shanghai and Hong Kong. They both recruit their teachers from the top 30 per cent of the graduate cohorts whereas in the countries in the failing grade recruits teachers from the bottom 30 per cent.
Needless to say this will have some implications on the quality of education of future health care providers. But USA is ahead of Asian 2 dollar Wal-Mart manufacturers and 1 800 Foreign Accents from India in that it is still possible to get a good all round education in the USA and not just a career oriented limited education. Hurrah for that!
Some other good news, which we in the Indian Health Services would recognize, is the value of expressive writing. Indians being much more visual people use Talking Circles in which emotions are expressed freely and openly find good results from this ritual which has also symbolic significance in their historic annals.
Dr Pennebaker from UT in Austin, a psychologist has conducted some experiments and he has concluded”
Stress, trauma, and unexpected life developments — such as a cancer diagnosis, a car accident, or a layoff — can throw people off stride emotionally and mentally. Writing about thoughts and feelings that arise from a traumatic or stressful life experience — called expressive writing — may help some people cope with the emotional fallout of such events. But it’s not a cure-all, and it won’t work for everyone. Expressive writing appears to be more effective for people who are not also struggling with ongoing or severe mental health challenges, such as major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

I have to admit that Talking Circle is good for people who are suffering from emotional disturbances in addition to their physical problems, such as the PTSD or depression.
Today I was sitting down to a lunch of Alaskan Haddock in Olive oil sprinkled with Zatar from Israel (mentioned in the old testament) and some cilantro and a touch of sweet pepper, and happened to be reading Archives of Internal Medicine published only yesterday and in it there were three studies in three different social contexts about the worth of diabetes education and cognitive changes that help those struggling over the years to control their diabetes. Lo and behold, the education was much better than many of the newer medications for Diabetes! Hats off to our cadre of Diabetes Educators. I rushed with the news to my colleagues who were doing just that over their lunchtime, educating a group of Indian patients with Diabetes… I shared the news with them.

The Indians had a big smile on their faces!

Friday, 30 September 2011


Sept 1 left Miami for Bangalore via Frankfurt.
Sept 5 Bangalore to Kuala Lumpur
Sept 9/10 Malacca
Sept 11 Kuala Lumpur to Singapour
Sept 11 Singapour to London
Sept 12 London to Paris
Sept 18 Paris to London
Sept 19 London to Miami
Sept 21 Miami to Oklahoma City
Sept 22 Oklahoma City to Omaha
Sept 23-29 With American Indians
Sept 30 Back to Miami

The conversations which were memorable : Dr Li KL, Dr Tan and Mrs Irene G in Malacca, Family in Paris, Family in Miami, Steve Avery in Sioux City, Hocank and UmonHon Indians in the Indian country

Good Food to remember: Coconut Grove in Bangalore; Ole Sayang Nyonya in Malacca, Maroosh in Miami, Vivace in Omaha and LAN in Miami

Grateful for every one who made this month special. Merci Beaucoup!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women
Qi Sun, MD, ScD; Donna Spiegelman, ScD; Rob M. van Dam, PhD; Michelle D. Holmes, MD, DrPH; Vasanti S. Malik, MSc; Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH; Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(11):961-969.

Background Because of differences in processing and nutrients, brown rice and white rice may have different effects on risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. We examined white and brown rice consumption in relation to type 2 diabetes risk prospectively in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses' Health Study I and II.

Methods We prospectively ascertained and updated diet, lifestyle practices, and disease status among 39 765 men and 157 463 women in these cohorts.

Results After multivariate adjustment for age and other lifestyle and dietary risk factors, higher intake of white rice (5 servings per week vs <1 per month) was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes: pooled relative risk (95% confidence interval [CI]), 1.17 (1.02-1.36). In contrast, high brown rice intake (2 servings per week vs <1 per month) was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes: pooled relative risk, 0.89 (95% CI, 0.81-0.97). We estimated that replacing 50 g/d (uncooked, equivalent to one-third serving per day) intake of white rice with the same amount of brown rice was associated with a 16% (95% CI, 9%-21%) lower risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas the same replacement with whole grains as a group was associated with a 36% (30%-42%) lower diabetes risk.

Conclusions Substitution of whole grains, including brown rice, for white rice may lower risk of type 2 diabetes. These data support the recommendation that most carbohydrate intake should come from whole grains rather than refined grains to help prevent type 2 diabetes.


Thyroidal Effect of Metformin Treatment in Patients With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Mario Rotondi; Carlo Cappelli; Flavia Magri; Roberta Botta; Rosa Dionisio; Carmelo Iacobello; Pasquale De Cata; Rossella E. Nappi; Maurizio Castellano; Luca Chiovato
Authors and Disclosures
Posted: 09/09/2011; Clin Endocrinol. 2011;75(3):378–381 © 2011 Blackwell Publishing

Metformin is widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Growing evidence supports the beneficial effects of metformin also in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It was recently reported that metformin has a TSH-lowering effect in hypothyroid patients with diabetes being treated with metformin.
Aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of metformin treatment on the thyroid hormone profile in patients with PCOS.
Patients and measurements Thirty-three patients with PCOS were specifically selected for being either treated with levothyroxine for a previous diagnosis of hypothyroidism (n = 7), untreated subclinically hypothyroid (n = 2) or euthyroid without levothyroxine treatment (n = 24) before the starting of metformin. The serum levels of TSH and FT4 were measured before and after a 4-month period of metformin therapy.
Results Thyroid function parameters did not change after starting metformin therapy in euthyroid patients with PCOS. In the 9 hypothyroid patients with PCOS, the basal median serum levels of TSH (3·2 mIU/l, range = 0·4–7·1 mIU/l) significantly (P < 0·05) decreased after a 4-month course of metformin treatment (1·7 mIU/l, range = 0·5–5·2 mIU/l). No significant change in the serum levels of FT4 was observed in these patients. The TSH-lowering effect of metformin was not related to the administered dose of the drug, which was similar in euthyroid as compared with hypothyroid patients with PCOS (1406 ± 589 vs 1322 ± 402 mg/day, respectively; NS).
Conclusions These results indicate that metformin treatment has a TSH-lowering effect in hypothyroid patients with PCOS, both treated with l-thyroxine and untreated.


Metformin is a widely used drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Metformin is commonly regarded as safe drug, because no clinically relevant pharmacologic interaction was described with most of the commonly used drugs, with the exception of folate and vitamin B12.[1–3] With specific regard to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), metformin is not licensed for the treatment of this condition in any country to date.[4] Nevertheless, in the last few years, growing evidence supported beneficial effects of metformin in PCOS.[5,6] These studies prompted consensus statements and recommendations for the use of metformin in patients with PCOS.[7–10]

Despite the fact that metformin was introduced nearly 50 years ago in the clinical practice for the treatment of diabetes, only recently has this drug was reported to modify the thyroid hormone profile,[11–13] producing a significant decrease in the serum levels of TSH. Vigersky et al. [11] described four patients with primary hypothyroidism, being euthyroid on l-thyroxine (LT4), in whom the administration of metformin led to a significant fall in the serum levels of TSH. In these patients, the serum levels of FT4 were unchanged, and no clinical sign of thyrotoxicosis was observed. The effect of metformin was found to be reversible, because drug withdrawal was accompanied by a significant rise in serum TSH levels, which returned to the premetformin serum concentration.[11] More recently, it was demonstrated that the TSH-lowering effect of metformin is also observed in primary hypothyroid patients with diabetes and primary hypothyroidism, who are not treated with L-T4 replacement therapy.[13]

Despite the clinical relevance of these findings, the mechanisms by which metformin produces a TSH-lowering effect remain largely unknown. To further characterise the effect of metformin treatment on circulating thyroid function parameters, we investigated the impact of metformin treatment on the serum levels of thyroid hormones and TSH in a cohort of patients with PCOS, both euthyroid or hypothyroid


Short-term Intensive Therapy in Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes Partially Restores Both Insulin Sensitivity and Beta-Cell Function in Subjects With Long-term Remission

Hu Y, Li L, Xu Y, et al.
Diabetes Care. 2011;34:1848-1853

Study Summary

The goal of this Chinese study was to examine the effect of intensive glycemic control therapy (IT) on insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients compared with persons with normal glucose tolerance (NGT) and those with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Investigators assigned 48 newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients to IT (continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion, multiple daily injections, or oral hypoglycemic agents) with the goal of achieving fasting plasma glucose (FPG) < 6.1 mmol/L (110 mg/dL) and postprandial glucose (PPG) < 8.0 mmol/L (144 mg/dL). Treatments were maintained for 2 weeks after the target was achieved, and patients were followed for 1 year. Hyperglycemia relapse was defined as FPG > 7.0 mmol/L (126 mg/dL) or PPG > 11.0 mmol/L (198 mg/dL). Patients who maintained optimal glycemic control for at least 12 months without medication were defined as being in remission, and those who relapsed during the 1-year follow-up were defined as nonremission. Those in remission received no medication, whereas the relapsed patients resumed oral hyperglycemic agents or IT during the 1-year follow-up period. Homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) was used to estimate insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), beta cell function (HOMA-beta) and the disposition index.

After short-term IT, 21 of 48 newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients (44%) achieved remission for 1 year, and 27 patients had relapsed (nonremission). There were no apparent differences in therapeutic effectiveness among the 3 different therapies. Before IT, HOMA-IR in both remission (3.12 ± 1.4 [mean +/= SD]) and nonremission (2.70 ± 1.7) groups was significantly higher than that in IGT (1.96 ± 1.1) and NGT (1.37 ± 0.6) persons. After IT, HOMA-IR in the remission group after treatment (1.72 ± 0.8) and at 1 year (2.12 ± 1.3) was comparable with that in IGT and NGT groups (P > .05). However, in the nonremission group, HOMA-IR was reduced from 2.70 ± 1.7 before IT to 2.34 ± 1.4 immediately after IT and to 2.60 ± 1.9 at the 1-year follow-up. IT restored more HOMA-beta in the remission group (44.6 [95% CI, 32.1-69.1] after therapy; 51.9 [28.8-79.8] at 1 year) than in the nonremission group (26.5 [14.9-43.8] after therapy; 31.9 [18.8-52.7] at 1 year). Although more restoration of HOMA-beta was observed in the remission group than in the nonremission group, there was no statistical difference. Disposition index in the remission group was significantly higher than that in the nonremission group after IT and at 1 year.


Glycemic control is fundamental to the management of diabetes with the objective of (safely) reducing hyperglycemia to as near normal as possible.[1] The current recommendation for newly diagnosed patients is immediate initiation of metformin.[2] However, studies have shown that early intensive insulin therapy can induce and maintain diabetes remission.[3,4] One important and interesting finding of the current study is that similar remission was achieved with oral agents (metformin plus gliclazide if necessary) as with insulin. Treating diabetes intensively at diagnosis, regardless of therapy, achieved a 1-year remission rate of 44%. Thus, for the patient who wants to try lifestyle modification without drugs, as many do, it appears that such a strategy might be effective after first aggressively reducing hyperglycemia. Another interesting finding was that for patients who achieved remission, insulin sensitivity was nearly fully restored, but beta-cell function was only modestly improved after intensive therapy. This may therefore be an important marker of who can maintain glucose control with lifestyle-only therapy following a course of intensive glucose reduction.

Milder Forms of Yoga will Help Older Adults with Diabetes

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Sep 02 - Gentle yoga classes may help people with type 2 diabetes take off a small amount of weight and improve their glycemic control, a small study suggests.

The study, of 123 middle-aged and older adults, found that those who added yoga classes to standard diabetes care shed some pounds over three months. Meanwhile, their average blood sugar levels held steady -- in contrast to a non-yoga control group, whose blood sugar levels rose.

The findings, reported August 11th in Diabetes Care, do not suggest that yoga should replace other forms of exercise for people with type 2 diabetes.

To really lose weight and control blood sugar, more vigorous exercise would work better, according to Dr. Shreelaxmi V. Hegde of the Srinivas Institute of Medical Science and Research Center in Mangalore, India.

Among the 60 study participants who took yoga classes several times a week, the average body mass index declined from 25.9 to 25.4.

"In our study the effect of yoga on BMI and blood sugar control was marginal," Dr. Hegde, the lead researcher on the work, told Reuters Health in an email.

"But," she added, "it should be noted that yoga controlled the blood sugar levels which otherwise rose in the control group."

In addition to that, markers of oxidative stress declined in the yoga group by 20%, on average.

The significance of that is not clear. Dr. Hegde said that if such a decline in oxidative stress were sustained over time, it might lower the chances of diabetes complications.

Further, long-term studies are needed to see whether that is the case, the researchers say.

According to Dr. Hegde, yoga may curb oxidative stress because it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

There are caveats. The yoga used in this study was a gentle form, Dr. Hegde said, and parts of the practice were adapted for people who had additional health problems; certain poses were avoided in people who had heart disease, for example.

In the real world, yoga classes vary widely. Some are vigorous work-outs involving complicated poses that would not be appropriate for older adults with chronic health conditions.

Older adults with diabetes can look for yoga classes designed specifically for older people and those with chronic medical conditions. In the U.S., hospitals and local community centers are increasingly offering such classes.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Testosterone and Fatherhood

12 September 2011

Fatherhood 'lowers testosterone to keep men loyal'
By Michelle RobertsHealth reporter, BBC News
As soon as a man had a baby, his testosterone levels dropped substantially
Men appear to be biologically wired to care for their babies, say researchers who have discovered levels of testosterone go down after fatherhood.
This drop in the male hormone presumably makes the dad more family-oriented and less likely to stray, say the Northwestern University team.
Testosterone increases a man's sex drive and helps him compete for a mate.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences work followed 624 young men before and after they became fathers.
This revealed that as soon as a man had a baby, his testosterone levels dropped substantially.
Men with newborn babies less than a month old had especially reduced levels of testosterone.
art Quote
This shows the hormonal and behavioural trade-off between mating and parenting, one requiring a high and the other a low testosterone level”
Prof Ashley Grossman of the Society for Endocrinology
Larger falls were also seen in those who were more involved in childcare.
Biological driver
The lead investigator of the work carried out in the Philippines, Christopher Kuzawa, said: "Raising human offspring is such an effort that it is co-operative by necessity, and our study shows that human fathers are biologically wired to help with the job.
"Fatherhood and the demands of having a newborn baby require many emotional, psychological and physical adjustments. Our study indicates that a man's biology can change substantially to help meet those demands."
And the researchers believe lower testosterone levels might protect against certain chronic diseases, which could, in part, explain why married men and fathers often enjoy better health than single men of the same age.
Prof Ashley Grossman, spokesman for the Society for Endocrinology, said life and biology may be "much more subtle and adaptable than we had previously thought.
"This shows the hormonal and behavioural trade-off between mating and parenting, one requiring a high and the other a low testosterone level."
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said the findings were fascinating:
"Testosterone levels in men generally don't change that much. They can slowly decline as men get older and change in response to some medical conditions and treatment. But to see dramatic changes in response to family life is intriguing.
"The observations could make some evolutionary sense if we accept the idea that men with lower testosterone levels are more likely to be monogamous with their partner and care for children. However, it would be important to check that link between testosterone levels and behaviour before we could be certain."

Saturday, 27 August 2011

America the Beautiful.. Thank you all those migrants who continue to make this country GREAT

I am spending a few days in Miami, enjoying the sunshine, relaxing at the beaches and eating well. The last item brought me to the Whole Food Stores in Aventura, where shopping carefully for organic foods is always a pleasure.
But this post is not about eating well or organic food but about the kindness of Americans. I have been traveling to USA on so a regular basis that I no longer feel a stranger here, I am never here long enough to get deeply involved in the superficiality but long enough to understand the nature of the people who inhabit this country.
On this visit to the USA, I have already been to Seattle, Portland, Omaha, American Indians and now South Florida. This is the microcosm of the world, where the world is treated well. Immigrants in no other country can hope to be treated with such dignity as in the USA. I have been watching the Latins walking with their heads up high, whether they spent their childhoods in Pinar del Rio or Cochabamba! Somalis in Seattle, Asians so fresh to Portland that the mist of that continent still clung to their persons.. and South Florida where I can get by with Spanish and Portugese…
In a few years time, the “white” americans outside of the Midwest will have lost its meaning, the mixing of the immigrant population and the diversity is such that there would be an economic distinction between people, such as poor and rich , and the colour and national origin would be lost amidst that.
I had stocked the required food stuff from Whole Foods and walked towards the rented Avis car and deposited the various packages in the boot (trunk) of the car. Decided to pop into Best Buy for a minute, and within about a short span of time was back at the car.
That is when I realized that I had lost the keys to the car. Fortunately I had the local cellular phone that I use. Before making any frantic calls, I decided to go back to the shops I had been a few minutes earlier to enquire whether or not any one had turned in the keys. I went back to the car to check, to find out that the newer cars are virtually burglar proof and once they are locked, you do need a professional to come and open it.
Ah well, is this happening to me? I am in the parking lot of a shopping mall, not anywhere near a residential area, with a rental car full of food sitting there locked.
I am staying at the beach house of my sister just five miles away and the AVIS rent a car facility at the Fort Lauderdale airport is less than 10 miles away. And there was no help in sight, in terms of a taxi or a machinist or a person with knowledge of breaking into cars!
After waiting for a few minutes, I called the number of AVIS at Fort Lauderdale airport. The automated query system wanted to know whether I needed roadside assistance, I pressed 1 and very quickly a voice came over. I had difficulty understanding the accent, since it was a local American accent, very strong. He was not connected to AVIS but a contractor who does the roadside help for AVIS rent a car company. I knew that he was strange to the rental car business when he didn't understand anything about Frequent Renters or the AvisFirst Programme. Before I could explain, he was in a hurry to tell me how much his services would cost me. I tried not to be overcome by the magisterial pronouncements.
375 dollars for the lost key
150 dollars for towing the car to AVIS
Loss of the contract with the company or extra payment for bringing another car, which would mean an extra 200 dollars.
I said to myself without getting upset, I know that I am in the land of such exploitation of transport difficulties but 800 dollars is it a fine or punishment for loosing keys? Is this man telling me the truth or is it a joke?
As a recent practitioner of Classical Yoga Psychology, I said to myself, no need to get upset about this, but watch this as you are watching a movie, detach your self from this.
I felt I was in a theatrical production and I was trying to act my part, Boot for trunk, Z instead of Zee, so the other person on the phone knows and judges a foreigner.
But this parasite on the society, for those who exploit the situations such as this are parasite who do not provide a serive but they do it at an exaggerated price, was kind enough to listen to me
I am a frequent renter from Avis, could you please call them at Fort Lauderdale airport location and ask them what concessions I am entitled to.
If he had not made that telephone call, the story would have had a much sadder ending.
I was holding on to my telephone, hoping it had enough battery for this long, at times incoherent conversation. He comes back, Hello Sir, I spoke to them, they said someone in the area would bring the key to you. His name is Mr Edwards. Before I could ask for an explanation, the slimiest example of exploitative humanity had hung up to attend to other unfortunates. I thought, AVIS recognizing my status as a Frequent Renter is sending a man from Fort Lauderdale office, which is only a short distance away with a master key.
I had given the intermediary all the details, the car, the plate number, my mobile phone number, the vague address of Whole Foods ( US 1, across from Aventura hospital which I could see from the parking lot). I was wondering what will happen. Would Avis come? Would they send someone? At least I felt that I had escaped a shark who wanted to charge me close to 800 dollars and that I was in the safe hands of a legitimate business such as AVIS.
But I was not prepared for the surprise the next telephone call brought me.
The telephone rang a few minutes later. It was a sweet voice form Avis in Fort Lauderdale.
Hello, Sir, a Mr. Edwards who was in the parking lot of Whole Foods found the keys and he called us and he has volunteered to return back to the Whole Foods to bring you the keys.
Could this be really happening? Doesn't this happen only in the movies?
All Life’s but a stage, did Shakespeare said that?
I was astounded by this. This was better a solution than I had hoped for. Someone finding the keys and finding a way to return to me.
She also gave me a telephone number which I called. A gentle voice, American one, answered, he said, he will be at the Café at Whole Food in a few minutes.
He found the keys, I kept on thinking, he could easily find the car, since the keys are equipped with alarms, he could have driven away in it or taken what was inside, but this gentleman is not like that, otherwise why did he call Avis? Why didn't he just throw away the keys or just take it to one of the shops and go on with his business. Somehow, from the beginning I had a good feeling about mr E. that he had gone the extra mile to help a fellow human being.
What makes us want to help another person? A personal experience? A genuine desire? An empathy? Modern lives are so full of commitments and a time urgency that it is better not to get involved and go on your way. Obviously Mr. E was not like that.
A few minutes later, I met Mr. E at the café of the Whole Foods. He came over and he had the keys in his hands.
He found the keys in the parking lot, sure enough; it said AVIS and a toll free number, and also the license plates of the car. He looked around and he couldn't find a Chevrolet Impala nearby, so he decided to go home and went on line and was able to track the car down to Avis rent a car company in Fort Lauderdale. Remember, Avis is located in every single metropolitan area and there are thousands of Avis locations, but without his investigation, he couldn't have found out that this Chevrolet Impala with the said license plates belonged to Avis at Fort Lauderdale Airport.
He decided to call them and they confirmed his doubts, yes the car was Avis rental car and it matched the records and confirmed that it had been rented to me.
So this kind man, Mr. E, he must have been busy all the time since he left the parking lot, it was all well under one hour, decides to drive back to the Whole Foods and wait for me at the Café.
I am a traveler and I have been very lucky in my travels but Americans are just an unique breed of people. They are very kind to foreigners. And I can tell you this proudly, in my twenty years of traveling to this country, I am yet to have a bad experience, despite the locations I travel to, the frequency with which I travel.
Thank You, America the Beautiful.
The kindness was not to end there. When I went to return the car at the Avis Fort Lauderdale Airport Counter, the person behind the counter, with whom I had conversed in French earlier was efficient, professional and very very helpful. Thank you Avia, just for this gentleman and his efficiency I might even fly into Fort Lauderdale and rent from Avis there the next time, rather than Miami.
One thing for sure, after completing between 100 and 200 rentals with AVIS rent a car, there is no need for another choice for me, I am loyal to AVIS, because they are loyal to me…

Thursday, 25 August 2011

one in four adult americans are taking Statin Medications.. eat peanuts instead..

Study says dietary changes more effective to lower bad cholesterol

A diet rich in nuts can help lower bad cholesterol, according to a Canadian study.Picture: AFP
Thursday, August 25, 2011 - Page B16

A DIET packed full of "cholesterol-lowering" ingredients such as nuts, beans and high-fiber grains cut bad cholesterol better than a low-saturated-fat diet, even though both diets were vegetarian, according to a Canadian study.!

The drop in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the so-called bad cholesterol — was big enough that dietary changes could be an alternative to statin medications for many people, said researchers led by David Jenkins at the University of Toronto.!

"There's no question that statins have made a major difference in terms of cardiovascular disease control," he told Reuters Health of the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.!

But at least for now, "we can only get so far with statins."!

One in four adults aged 45 and older in the United States takes the cholesterol-lowering drugs.!

Jenkins and his colleagues wanted to see how big an effect a diet based on the pillars of cholesterol lowering foods could have on LDL numbers without statins.!

They randomly split 351 Canadians with high cholesterol into three groups, all of whom were assigned to vegetarian diets. One group got nutrition counseling promoting a low-saturated-fat died for six months. !

In the other two groups, dieticians helped participants fit more cholesterol-lowering foods — including soy milk, tofu, nuts, oats, peas and beans — into a healthy diet. The dieticians met with some people twice, others seven times.!

After six months, people on the low-saturated-fat diet saw a drop in LDL cholesterol of 8 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) on average.!

That compared to decreases of 24 mg/dL and 26 mg/dL in participants on the cholesterol-lowering diets. The average starting LDL was about 170 mg/dL, where a number 160 mg/dL and up is considered high.!

"That drop is really a lot," said Yunsheng Ma, a nutrition and heart disease researcher from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, who was not involved in the study.!

"A lot of people rely on the medication, but diet is really powerful actually," he told Reuters Health.!

"People ignore that. They think if they're on statins, they can do anything they want, they can eat the high-fat foods because the statins are going to take care of that. "!

One in five of the participants dropped out before the full six months, and even those that didn't had a hard time sticking closely to the diet plans — but many still saw cholesterol benefits.!

The researchers had everyone in the study who was taking statins to go off the medication for the diet intervention. Jenkins said the question of how diet and statins could lower LDL in tandem is one for future research.!

But for those who like the idea of changing their diet instead of going on medications, this is a reasonable option, and doctors should try to encourage patients with high cholesterol to change their diets, Jenkins said.!

"While genetics or very high cholesterol may mean that diet isn't enough to get LDL down without statins for some people, a majority of patients could benefit from a dietary change," said Joan Sabate, head of nutrition at Loma Linda University in California.!

"By changing the diet and their lifestyle he can establish good control of their cholesterol," she added.

Friday, 19 August 2011


By Amy Norton
NEW YORK | Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:15pm EDT
(Reuters Health) - People with relatively high levels of certain pesticides in their blood may have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes -- particularly if they are overweight, a new study suggests.

The study, reported in the journal Diabetes Care, is not the first to link chemical pollutants to diabetes.

A number of studies have found a connection between diabetes risk and exposure to older pesticides known as organochlorines, PCBs and other chemicals that fall into the category of "persistent organic pollutants."

Organochlorines are now banned or restricted in the U.S. and other developed countries, after research linked them to cancer and other potential health risks. PCBs, which were once used in everything from appliances to fluorescent lighting to insecticides, were banned in the 1970s.

However, as the name suggests, persistent organic pollutants remain in the environment for years and build up in animal and human body fat.

In the U.S., diet is the main potential source of exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- with fatty foods, like dairy products and oily fish, topping the list.

Lab research has suggested that some persistent organic pollutants impair the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, which could help explain the link to type 2 diabetes.

Some of the compounds also have been shown to promote obesity, which is itself a major risk factor for diabetes, noted Riikka Airaksinen of Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare, who led the new study.

For the study, Airaksinen's team measured blood levels of several persistent organic pollutants in about 2,000 older adults.

Just over 15 percent had type 2 diabetes. The risk was higher, the researchers found, among people with the highest levels of organochlorine pesticides.

Those with levels in the top 10 percent were about twice as likely to have diabetes as their counterparts in the bottom 10 percent.

But the link appeared to be limited to people who were overweight or obese.

That, the researchers write, suggests that the pollutants and body fat "may have a synergistic effect on the risk of type 2 diabetes."

The results alone do not prove that organochlorine pesticides were the reason for the higher diabetes risk, Airaksinen told Reuters Health in an email.

The researchers accounted for participants' age, sex, waist size and blood pressure levels. But they had no information on things like diet and exercise habits -- which might help explain the pesticide-diabetes link.

But the overall body of research, according to Airaksinen, is pointing toward a cause-and-effect relationship.

The findings are "highly concordant" with past studies on persistent organic pollutants and diabetes risk, agreed Dr. David R. Jacobs, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who has worked on some of that research.

"I fear that the association of chlorinated persistent organic pollutants with diabetes is causal," Jacobs, who was not involved in the current study, told Reuters Health in an email.

"There is a large scientific background of cell-based and animal research that shows that these compounds disrupt endocrine (hormonal) function," he noted.

And unlike the current study, which was done at one time-point, some others have found that people's levels of persistent organic pollutants predict their odds of developing diabetes in the future, Jacobs said.

Experts say that one way to limit your exposure to the chemicals is to limit the animal fat in your diet.

The fat in fish like salmon and tuna, however, is considered generally healthy.

"In Finland," Airaksinen noted, "we have studied a group of professional fishermen who consume a lot of fish in their diet, and have found that their mortality from various common diseases is actually lower than the general Finnish population. This suggests that the health benefit from eating fish surpasses the potential health risks."

Though most persistent organic pollutants have been long banned, Jacobs said, "they are generally all around us in fatty tissues of living organisms." Those chemicals are released in various ways, he said, and are being constantly recycled.

Pesticides and other industrial chemicals in use now are safer, in the sense of not being persistent, Jacobs said.

"But," he added, "a chemical that is bad for the health of one life form -- say insects and weeds -- is not likely to be good for humans. We need much better and more thorough safety testing for substances that we use in industry and for pest control."

Sunday, 14 August 2011


Bacon 'can increase diabetes threat'

New research has suggested that eating bacon regularly can drastically increase the chances of diabetes, with members of the public urged to keep a close eye on their dietary habits.

According to a study conducted by scientists at Harvard University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming 100g of red meat daily can leave individuals 19 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Processed meats - including mince, salami and ham as well as bacon - were found to be more harmful, with 50g per day increasing the risk by in excess of 50 per cent. However, one expert played down the findings.

"Based on analysis of previous studies, this research simply suggests eating a daily portion of red meat may increase someone's risk of developing type 2 diabetes," said Dr Iain Frame of Diabetes UK.

Earlier in the week, Association of International Cancer Research scientific co-ordinator Dr Mark Matfield observed that recent surveys have indicated bad diet can also play a role in causing cancer.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Increased Psychiatric Hospital Admissions for Children in the USA

More US children hospitalised for mental illness

Sunday, August 7, 2011

US CHILDREN are increasingly likely to be admitted to the hospital for mental problems, although the rates of non-psychiatric hospitalisations have remained flat, according to a study.!

From 1996 to 2007, the rate of psychiatric hospital discharges rose by more than 80 per cent for five to 13-year-olds and by 42 per cent for older teens, the study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, said.!

"This occurs despite numerous efforts to make outpatient services for the more vulnerable kids more widely available," said Joseph Blader of Stony Brook State University of New York, the study's author.!

"It (hospitalisation) is a pretty traumatic thing for a family when your child is admitted to a psych unit," he added, noting that such moves were a last resort.!

Overall, short-term hospital admissions for mental illness rose from 156 to 283 per 100,000 children per year over the ten years of the study, which was based on data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey.!

For adolescents, the rate increased from 683 to 969 per 100,000, while it went up from 921 to 996 for adults and dropped from 978 to 808 for people aged 65 and older.!

For youngsters, bipolar disorder showed the steepest increase, while anxiety diagnoses dropped.!

Although there have been concerns about over diagnosis of bipolar disorder and other mental problems among children, Blader said that was unlikely to be hiking the rates since hospitalisations are based on whether or not people are considered a danger to themselves or others, not psychiatric labels.!

"Most typically it's volatile and aggressive behavior, or over reaction to minor provocations that lead to assaults on family members or peers," Blader told Reuters health.!

"Whereas before we had hoped that more outpatient services would lead to a decrease in hospitalisations, the findings suggest a pressing need to learn what might have reversed that trend."Reuters

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Death and Exhaustion from Video Games

Xbox addict 'dies from blood clot'

The family of a budding computer programmer have on Saturday launched a campaign to raise awareness about the health risks of playing online computer games after their son died following a marathon session on his Xbox.
A post-mortem revealed that 20-year-old Chris Staniforth -- who was offered a place to study Game Design at Leicester University -- was killed by a pulmonary embolism, which can occur if someone sits in the same position for several hours.
Xbox 360 controller
Deep vein thrombosis normally affects passengers on long-haul flights, but medical experts fear youngsters who spend hours glued to their consoles might also be at risk and have urged them to take regular breaks.
Professor Brian Colvin -- an expert on blood-related conditions -- said it was "unhealthy" for youngsters to spend long periods in front of their consoles.
"There's anxiety about obesity and children not doing anything other than looking at computer screens," he told The Sun.
David Staniforth has now launched a campaign to warn other parents of the dangers.
"Games are fun and once you've started playing it's hard to stop.
"Kids all over the country are playing these games for long periods - they don't realise it could kill them," he told The Sun.
A coroner's court in Sheffield was told how the youngster -- who had no underlying medical conditions -- was complaining of a low heart rate before collapsing outside a Jobcentre.
Staniforth's distraught father said his son would spend up to 12 hours playing on his Xbox.
"He got sucked in playing Halo online against people from all over the world."
Online computer games are extremely popular as thousands interact in shared science fiction worlds.
Reports of gamers collapsing after spending 15 hours in front of video games are fairly common throughout Asia.
In 2005, a South Korean gamer died after playing online games for three days without taking a break.
Microsoft -- which manufactures the Xbox -- said it "recommend gamers take breaks to exercise as well as make time for other pursuits."

Friday, 29 July 2011


Retrain your brain

Thursday, July 21, 2011

EVERY leader faces a share of irritating screw-ups and minor setbacks. In response to those annoyances, some leaders get irritable and stressed out. Others keep on moving.

To be in that enviable latter category, you need resilience: train your brain to bounce back from hassles rather than get snagged by them. Find a quiet place where you won't be interrupted. Sit comfortably and focus on your breath. Notice yourself inhale and exhale.

Don't try to change your breathing, just be attentive to it. As thoughts, sounds, or other distractions come up, let them go and return your attention to your breath.

By doing this 30 minutes a day you will teach your brain to go to a quiet calm place when it is stressed, rather than triggering your fight or flight response.

Today's management tip was adapted from "Resilience for the Rest of Us" by Daniel Goleman. Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters. Reuters


Cambodia's orphan tourism puts some children at risk: experts

Thursday, July 28, 2011

PICTURES of hundreds of former volunteers line the walls of a muddy courtyard in Cambodia's tourist hub of Siem Reap, their faces once familiar to the orphans playing there but now long gone.

The colourful gallery at the Acodo orphanage illustrates a growing trend of holidaymakers donating their time and skills to children in the impoverished country — but experts fear they could be doing more harm than good.

Marissa Soroudi, a student in her 20s from New York, is one of the many volunteers teaching English at Acodo, near the famed temples of Angkor and home to more than 60 orphans between the ages of three and 18.

The young American, who pays US$50 a week to work at the orphanage, plans to stay for a few days before travelling on but she knows it is tough on the children to watch volunteers like her come and go.

"There are so many people volunteering that it's kind of like, one leaves and another swoops in," she said.

"They say better not to talk about it with them. Don't say 'I'm leaving in a week', don't do any of that because then they get upset. Better to just not come."

Short-term volunteers may have good intentions, but childcare experts say they are putting some of the most vulnerable children at risk.

"Constant change of caregivers gives emotional loss to children, constant emotional loss to already traumatised children," Jolanda van Westering, a child protection specialist at the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) told AFP.

"And the constant exposure to strangers poses risks of harm, of violence and abuse, because we know that oftentimes volunteers come to an orphange without having their backgrounds checked."

As the gateway to the ancient temples of Angkor — which attract more than a million visitors a year — a steady stream of tourists passes through the sleepy riverside town.

And many want to do more than just sightsee in one of the region's poorest nations.

On noticeboards in hotels, cafes and souvenir shops, wide-eyed children stare from posters for schools and orphanages, encouraging travellers to donate time and money for their particular cause.

"Visitors see some poverty and they feel bad about it," said Ashlee Chapman, a project manager with Globalteer, an organisation that matches volunteers with local organisations.

"They want to do something," she adds, saying they might visit a children's project for a few hours, donate money and toys, "take a holiday snap and feel that they've contributed."

As the so-called volunteer tourism sector flourishes, so too does the number of institutions housing children.

In the past six years, the number of orphanages in Cambodia has almost doubled to 269, housing some 12,000 children, according to Unicef.

Friends International, a local organisation that works with marginalised urban children and youths, says tourism has contributed to the increase.

Visiting orphanages has become a tourist "attraction" in big cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, said Marie Courcel, alternative care project manager at Friends International.

That in turn encourages the institutionalisation of youngsters, many of whom are very poor but actually have at least one living parent, she said.

Only one in 10 of the orphanages are funded by the state, the rest rely on charitable contributions to survive.

At Siem Reap's Acodo, huddled with the children in the shade of the only tree, Soroudi organises the afternoon activity.

Following her lead, the orphans make headpieces out of grass and add licks of paint to green and yellow conical hats, costumes they will wear in that evening's traditional Khmer dance show.

The daily half-hour event attracts a tourist crowd who thank the young performers with donations of money.

Van Westering said she worried about the dangers for children who are expected to raise funds for their care by begging or putting on shows for tourists.

"They have to do their best and they hear that also if they don't there isn't enough money for their care," said Van Westering. "You can just imagine what that does to children to live in that kind of insecure environment."

Her advice to tourists pondering a brief working stint at an orphanage is simple: "Don't go. Give blood, support a community-based organisation that provides day activities for a child but where the children go home at night."

Betsy Brittenham, an interior designer in her 50s from Arizona, and her 15-year-old daughter Alex are spending three weeks as volunteer teachers at one such place, the Grace House Community Centre, where the children return to their families each evening.

Like the volunteers at Acodo, Betsy pays for the privilege of working on her holiday but she sees no downsides to the experience. "When you volunteer like this you're bringing your money and you're making tremendous strides and teaching their children. It's something you can't put a price on."AFP

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Closing Casinos can have an Effect on Indian's Health

Downturn widens racial wealth gap

The wealth gap is said to be the widest in nearly three decades
The wealth gap between American whites and minorities has grown wider during the recession, according to an analysis of US Census data.

It found the median wealth of white US households in 2009 was $113,149 (£69,000), compared with $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks.

This left whites with about 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics.

Those ratios compared with 7:1 for both groups back in 1995.

Asians also lost their top ranking to whites in median household wealth, more than halving from $168,103 in 2005 to $78,066 in 2009.

The report suggests Asian households were clustered in places such as California that were hit hard by the property market meltdown.

The study, compiled by the Pew Research Center from 2009 data, found the wealth gap was the widest it has been since the government began publishing such statistics by ethnicity in 1984, when the white-black ratio was roughly 12:1.

'Big declines'
The data analysis demonstrates that the economic recession, which plunged housing values and caused widespread unemployment, widened an existing racial wealth gap significantly.

In other findings:

About 35% of black households and 31% of Hispanic households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, compared with 15% of white households
The share of wealth held by the top 10% of American households increased from 49% in 2005 to 56% in 2009
About 24% of all Hispanic and black households in 2009 had no assets other than a vehicle, compared with 6% of white households, a situation little changed since 2005
"What's pushing the wealth of whites is the rebound in the stock market and corporate savings, while younger Hispanics and African-Americans who bought homes in the last decade... are seeing big declines," Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who specialises in income inequality, told the Associated Press news agency.

Between 2005 and 2009, the median net worth of Hispanic households dropped by 66% and that of black households by 53%, according to the report.

That contrasted with the median net worth of white households, which dropped by just 16%.

Before the recession, housing equity accounted for about 66% of the net worth of Hispanics and some 59% of black families. About 44% of the wealth of white families consisted of housing equity.

A geographic analysis of the study suggests a disproportionate share of Hispanics live in California, Nevada and Arizona, states which have experienced some of the steepest declines in US housing values.

Hispanics and blacks are the two largest minority groups in the US, making up 16% and 12% of the population respectively.

The figures reported in the Pew study are based on the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation, which surveyed 36,000 households on wealth from September to December 2009.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Oh La La La Agneau et Fromage? Emission Carbon!

L'agneau à la première place du podium des aliments les plus polluants


jessica rat, Le mardi 19 juillet 2011, à 18h 07
On l’a évoqué à plusieurs reprises, la viande est néfaste pour l'environnement, contribuant entre autres activement à la déforestation. Les ruminants rejettent par ailleurs d’importantes quantités de gaz à effet de serre (GES) dans l’atmosphère durant la digestion. Des faits éprouvés qui n’ont cependant pas empêché la consommation mondiale de viande d’exploser au cours des quatre dernières décennies...

La production a ainsi triplé entre 1971 et 2010 et les experts estiment qu'elle devrait encore doubler d'ici 2050 pour atteindre plus de 544 milliards de kilos par an (!)

L’Environmental Working Group (EWG) a quant à lui calculé l'impact de la consommation de viande et d'autres aliments faisant partie intégrante de notre quotidien sur les émissions mondiales de CO2. Il a pour ce faire jaugé la quantité de CO2 émise lors de chaque étape de leur "vie", de la production jusqu'à la fin de parcours dans la poubelle.

D’après ses calculs, l’agneau devancerait le bœuf. Alors que ces deux animaux présentent les mêmes caractéristiques – il s’agit de deux ruminants qui se nourrissent de quantités de nourriture sensiblement identiques –, l'agneau émet 50% de plus d'équivalent CO2 pour chaque kilogramme mangé uniquement parce qu'il produit moins de viande comestible que le bœuf.

Produire, manger et jeter moins de viande permettrait une baisse notable des rejets carbone

Le fromage produit à partir de lait de vache, qui génère autant de rejets carbone durant sa production que la viande de bœuf, complète le podium. Les auteurs soulignent toutefois que la consommation de fromages moins denses est déjà

... Lire la suite sur

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


How to breathe life into your body
From sport to singing, sleep problems to stress, better breathing can change your life, says Maria Fitzpatrick.

It is our life force, so it’s no wonder “a breath of fresh air” has come to mean relief. But are we harnessing it the way we were designed to?
Breathing “properly” and to our full potential is not only good for our overall wellbeing, it’s increasingly seen as having a key role in alleviating all sorts of modern ailments, from anxiety to exhaustion.
Increased awareness and control over our breathing mechanism, and using our lungs to their full capacity, can lead to all sorts of benefits – from pain and stress relief to improved energy levels, enhanced athletic performance and singing ability, and even gaining control over a stutter.
Many of us have got into the habit of “shallow breathing” – caused by a hurried lifestyle, stress, poor posture and lack of physical activity. Diaphragmatic breathing, sometimes referred to as deep breathing or abdominal breathing, means inhaling deep into the lungs by flexing the diaphragm (rather than shallowly, using just the upper rib cage); it expands the abdomen rather than the chest. Many health and fitness experts believe it is a healthier, more efficient way to breathe, lengthening and deepening our breaths, increasing oxygen levels in the blood, raising energy in the body, relaxing intestinal muscles, and creating a sense of relaxation as the heart rate, cortisol (the stress hormone) and blood carbon dioxide levels drop.

Man Robs Bank to go to Jail to get medical care

Man robs bank to get medical care in jail
By Zachary Roth


Some people who need medical care but can't afford it go to the emergency room. Others just hope they'll get better. James Richard Verone robbed a bank.
Earlier this month, Verone (pictured), a 59-year-old convenience store clerk, walked into a Gaston, N.C., bank and handed the cashier a note demanding $1 and medical attention. Then he waited calmly for police to show up.
He's now in jail and has an appointment with a doctor this week.
Verone's problems started when he lost the job he'd held for 17 years as a Coca Cola deliveryman, amid the economic downturn. He found new work driving a truck, but it didn't last. Eventually, he took a part-time position at the convenience store.
But Verone's body wasn't up to it. The bending and lifting made his back ache. He had problems with his left foot, making him limp. He also suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.
Then he noticed a protrusion on his chest. "The pain was beyond the tolerance that I could accept," Verone told the Gaston Gazette. "I kind of hit a brick wall with everything."
Verone knew he needed help--and he didn't want to be a burden on his sister and brothers. He applied for food stamps, but they weren't enough either.
So he hatched a plan. On June 9, he woke up, showered, ironed his shirt. He mailed a letter to the Gazette, listing the return address as the Gaston County Jail.
"When you receive this a bank robbery will have been committed by me," Verone wrote in the letter. "This robbery is being committed by me for one dollar. I am of sound mind but not so much sound body."
Then Verone hailed a cab to take him to the RBC Bank. Inside, he handed the teller his $1 robbery demand.
"I didn't have any fears," said Verone. "I told the teller that I would sit over here and wait for police."
The teller was so frightened that she had to be taken to the hospital to be checked out. Verone, meanwhile, was taken to jail, just as he'd planned it.
Because he only asked for $1, Verone was charged with larceny, not bank robbery. But he said that if his punishment isn't severe enough, he plans to tell the judge that he'll do it again. His $100,000 bond has been reduced to $2,000, but he says he doesn't plan to pay it.
In jail, Verone said he skips dinner to avoid too much contact with the other inmates. He's already seen some nurses and is scheduled to see a doctor on Friday. He said he's hoping to receive back and foot surgery, and get the protrusion on his chest treated. Then he plans to spend a few years in jail, before getting out in time to collect Social Security and move to the beach.
Verone also presented the view that if the United States had a health-care system which offered people more government support, he wouldn't have had to make the choice he did.
"If you don't have your health you don't have anything," Verone said.
The Affordable Care Act, President Obama's health-care overhaul passed by Congress last year, was designed to make it easier for Americans in situations like Verone's to get health insurance. But most of its provisions don't go into effect until 2014.
As it is, Verone said he thinks he chose the best of a bunch of bad options. "I picked jail."
(Photo: Ben Goff/The Gaston Gazette)

Thursday, 16 June 2011


TV time tied to diabetes, death

Thursday, June 16, 2011

PEOPLE who spend more hours in front of the television are at greater risk of dying, or developing diabetes and heart disease, with even two hours of television a day having a marked effect, according to a US study.!

Every day, US residents spend an average of 5 hours watching television, while Australians and some Europeans log 3.5 to 4 hours a day, said researchers led by Frank Hu, at the Harvard School of Public Health.!

"The message is simple. Cutting back on TV watching is an important way to reduce sedentary behaviors and decrease risk of diabetes and heart disease," Hu said.!

"The combination of a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet and obesity creates a 'perfect breeding ground' for type 2 diabetes and heart disease."!

Many studies have found a strong link to obesity. A 2007 report found that more TV time was associated with higher blood pressure in obese children.!

Another study that same year found that overweight children who watch food advertisements tend to double their food intake.!

For the new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hu and his team reviewed eight studies examining the link between TV time and diseases, that in total followed more than 200,000 people, for an average of 7 to 10 years.!

Hu and his colleagues found that for every two hours of daily television that people watched, their risk of diabetes increased by 20 per cent. Reuters!