Health Blog Video: Mosquitoes and the City

July 22nd, 2011 by Abby Hitchcock | Tags: City

Ah, summer in the city. If urbanites arent contending with a stifling heat wave, theyre slapping at the aggressive mosquitoes that prefer big-city infrastructure as their hunting grounds. As the WSJ reported last week, two types of mosquitoes inadvertently imported from Asia are settling into new digs in big U.S. cities.

In this WSJ video, State University of New York at Albany professor Laura Kramer talks about one of these species, the Asian tiger mosquito. It prefers cities because there are lots of small, artificial containers like tires and cans its chosen places to breed.

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Vitamin-enhanced products skirting Health Canada regulations

July 22nd, 2011 by Declan Nguyen | Tags: Canada, Health Canada

OTTAWA — Health Canada cannot always uphold its safety and nutritional quality standards for foods because of a “legal loophole” that allows companies to sell snacks and drinks fortified with vitamins and minerals, internal government records suggest.

The problem, flagged by top nutrition experts at Health Canada over two years ago, is still not resolved, even though the chief of the food directorate’s nutrition evaluation division recommended regulatory amendments to resolve the matter as far back as February 2009.

“This legal loophole continues to have a significant potential to impact on the ability to administer the provisions of the Food and Drug Regulations with respect to foods,” wrote Nora Lee, the chief of Health Canada’s nutrition evaluation division, in internal correspondence released under access to information.

That’s because food companies found a way to get around Health Canada’s food regulations that tightly control the amount of vitamins and minerals that can be added to drinks and foods — by classifying vitamin-fortified products as natural health products (NHPs).

Under the current food regulations, Health Canada limits the ability of companies to boost products with nutrients at their discretion, part of the regulator’s goal to ensure the integrity of the food supply and make sure people don’t overconsume certain nutrients. Mea Full Post…

Beware the lipo cowboys who peddle sub-standard fat reduction techniques

July 22nd, 2011 by Declan Nguyen | Tags: Fat, Substandard Fat

It is the surgical technique that promises to permanently remove stubborn fat clinging anywhere from a double chin to chunky ankles, with minimal bruising and swelling in less time than it takes to do a gym workout.

Small wonder that liposuction is fast becoming one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK. But rising demand comes at a price and experts are concerned about unscrupulous ‘cowboy’ practitioners cashing in by offering the treatment to unsuitable patients, sometimes with disastrous results.

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Return to smoking after heart attack ups death risk

July 21st, 2011 by Declan Nguyen | Tags: Attack, Heart Attack

On average, people who started smoking again after being hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome ACS — crushing chest pain that often signals a heart attack — were more than three times as likely to die within a year as people who successfully quit in a study led by Dr Furio Colivicchi of San Filippo Neri Hospital in Rome

“Relapse is a major risk factor for long term survival,” said Dr David Katz, associate professor of internal medicine at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City

Quitting smoking has a similar lifesaving effect for ACS patients as taking recommended drugs to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, added Katz, who was not involved in the new study

To gauge the effects of resuming smoking after a heart “event,” and to see how many people are likely to relapse, Colivicchi and his colleagues tracked 1294 patients who reported being regular smokers before they were hospitalized with ACS

All the participants had ceased smoking while in the hospital and declared themselves motivated to continue abstaining once they were released Patients received a few brief smoking-cessation counseling sessions while in the hospital, but no further counseling, nicotine replacement or other smoking-cessation help was provided after they left the hospital

The researchers interviewed patients about their smoking status at one, six, and 12 months after their release from the hospital and found that a total of 813 63 percent had relapsed by the end of the first year About half had begun smoking again within 20 days of leaving the hospital

Within a year, 97 patients died, with 81 of those deaths attributed to cardiovascular causes, according to findings published in the American Journal of Cardiology

After adjusting for patient ages and other variables, the researchers found that resuming smoking raised a person’s risk of death three-fold compared to patients who didn’t relapse

The earlier a patient fell off the wagon, the more likely he or she was to die within a year — those who resumed smoking within 10 days of leaving the hospital were five times as likely to die as those who continued to abstain

Very few patients relapsed after being smoke-free for six months

“If you manage to stay off cigarettes for six months, you probably have the addiction beat,” said Dr Nancy Rigotti, director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who was not involved in the study

Colivicchi’s group did not measure how often the patients smoked — an important predictor of relapse and early death, Katz noted

Nonetheless, the results indicate a need to improve the way doctors help patients quit smoking, said Rigotti

“People don’t take treating tobacco use seriously in the medical setting,” and recommended treatments have not made their way into practice, she said

Colivicchi agreed A successful program to help patients quit should take “a comprehensive long-term approach, including individual counseling, post-discharge support and pharmacological treatment,” he told Reuters Health in an email

A recent study from Harvard Medical School suggested that a comprehensive anti-smoking counseling program for heart attack patients could save thousands of lives at a relatively low cost

These findings, along with the results of the Italian study, said Rigotti, suggest that hospitals and insurers should work together to implement comprehensive anti-smoking programs to continue to help patients after they leave the hospital

Little evidence dietary, lifestyle changes linked to Alzheimer’s risk: panel

July 21st, 2011 by Joseph Tishler | Tags: Panel

Evidence that diet, even the popular and fish oil-heavy Mediterranean regimen, can lower the overall risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life is scant, a U.S. government panel reports.

There is no strong evidence that any dietary or lifestyle changes can reduce a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a U.S.

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