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(NaturalNews) The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) has challenged a decision to recognize the American Dietetic Association (ADA) as Michigan’s only certifying agency for dietitians or nutritionists. “In order to adequately protect the profession of nutritional therapy, certifying organizations that specialize in nutrition (and not simply dietetics) must be recognized,” the ANH writes in a press release. The Michigan Board of Dietetic and Nutrition recently voted to accept the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the ADA’s credentialing arm, as the only certifying agency in the state. The ANH has requested that the board revisit this decision and accept certification from other agencies such as the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS) or the American Clinical Board of Nutrition. According to the ANH press release, dietitians and nutritionists are trained in different fields and specialties, with different underlying philosophies. Whereas nutritionists are trained to understand the impact of diet on different bodily systems and to use an integrative approach to prevent and treat disease, the ANH says, dietitians are trained in food service management for institutional settings. “Hospital food by law is controlled by dieticians, and almost everyone recognizes that the poor food in hospitals is a medical disgrace,” the ANH writes. In addition, the ANH notes, the ADA’s credentialing standards are significantly laxer than those of many other agencies. For example, the CBNS requires 100 more hours of supervised experience than the ADA, in addition to an advanced nutrition degree an a certifying exam. “Michigan may not even realize that it is also barring the best-educated, most highly qualified professionals from providing nutritional therapy to Michigan residents,” the ANH writes. The ANH acknowledges that there is overlap between the two professions and that some dietitians can provide individualized counseling as well. “There are many different dietary and nutritional therapies to choose from, which is why freedom of consumer choice is absolutely essential in this field,” it writes. Sources for this story include: http://www.anh-usa.org/playing-monopoly-with-our-health.
(NaturalNews) Where you have your baby can determine how natural the birth is, says a new review in The Cochrane Library . According to an analysis of over 10,000 women from various randomized trials, those who bear children in alternative birthing centers rather than in conventional hospital rooms require less pregnancy drugs and other unnatural interventions. Hospital rooms, where most women have their babies, can be dreary and drab, indicative more of sickness and death than of a new life coming into the world. Alternative birthing centers, on the other hand, feel more like home with comforting, peaceful decor in a relaxed setting. In the alternative birth setting, women use roughly 18 percent less epidural anesthesia, 22 percent less oxytocin, and are 17 percent less likely to have an episiotomy. They are also 11 percent less likely to require a Caesarean section. According to Ellen Hodnott, author of the study and chair of perinatal nursing research at the University of Toronto, woman who give birth in alternative facilities are nearly twice as likely as those who birth in hospitals to be satisfied with the overall experience. And these same women are more likely to breastfeed their children as well. “Birth environment affects not only the women who are laboring but also the behavior of care providers,” explained Hodnett. “In a setting that seems less ‘medical’, staff might listen to women more, empowering them to make their own choices.” Because all the women were randomly assigned to birth settings apart from their personal preferences, it is undeniable that the birth setting itself plays a primary role in both the quality of the pregnancy and in how natural it ends up being. Sources for this story include: http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab000012.html http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/features_julieshealthclub/2010/09/study-alternative-birth-centers-help-increase-vaginal-birth.html
(NaturalNews) Long-term use of the popular diabetes drug metformin (originally marketed as Glucophage) may cause patients to develop a steadily worsening vitamin B12 deficiency, Dutch scientists have found. “Our study shows that this decrease is not a transitory phenomenon, but persists and grows over time,” wrote the Maastricht University Medical Center researchers in the British Medical Journal . This is an issue of particular concern given the prevalence of diabetes and the popularity of metformin as a treatment. “Metformin is considered a cornerstone in the treatment of diabetes and is the most frequently prescribed first line therapy for individuals with type 2 diabetes,” the researchers wrote. “In addition, it is one of a few … associated with improvements in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, which is a major cause of death in patients with type 2 diabetes.” Earlier, short-term studies had found that use of the drug might lead to insufficient levels of the vitamin in the body. The new study confirmed this trend over the long term. “Metformin does … induce vitamin B12 malabsorption, which may increase the risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency — a clinically important and treatable condition,” the researchers wrote. The researchers assigned 390 Type 2 diabetes patients at the outpatient clinics of three nonacademic hospitals to take either metformin or a placebo pill three times per day for more than four years. The average study participant had been diagnosed with diabetes 13 years prior and had been undergoing insulin treatment for seven years. Average participant age was 61. Among those taking metformin, vitamin B12 levels began to steadily drop relative to those who were taking a placebo pill. The biggest drop occurred in the first few months, but the decrease continued over the course of the study. After four years, participants in the metformin group had undergone a 19 percent relative reduction in their levels of the nutrient. They were 11.2 percent more likely than placebo participants to suffer from B12 insufficiency and 7.2 percent more likely to suffer from deficiency. For every 8.9 patients treated with metformin, one would develop insufficient vitamin B12 levels. This increased risk remained after researchers adjusted for other risk factors including age, duration of diabetes, insulin dose, sex, smoking status and previous treatment with metformin. “Our study shows that it is reasonable to assume harm will eventually occur in some patients with metformin-induced low vitamin B12 levels,” the researchers wrote. The researchers found that metformin seems to inhibit the intestine’s absorption of vitamin B12. Fortunately, calcium supplements appear to reverse this effect. Vitamin B12 is critical for maintaining nerve and red blood cell health. It can be found in animal products, nutritional yeast and fortified breakfast cereals. Symptoms of deficiency include anemia, fatigue, nerve damage and cognitive changes. Because similar symptoms often occur in diabetics and the elderly, deficiency may be hard to detect in such populations. Yet while B12 deficiency can carry severe consequences, it is relatively easy to correct with supplementation. The researchers suggested that all patients taking metformin have their vitamin B12 levels tested regularly to avoid potentially severe consequences. “Vitamin B-12 deficiency is preventable; therefore, our findings suggest that regular measurement of vitamin B-12 concentrations during long-term metformin treatment should be strongly considered.” the researchers wrote. Nearly 11 percent of the U.S. population, or 24 million people, suffer from diabetes. Of these 5.7 million are undiagnosed. In addition, 57 million people in the United States alone are estimated to be pre-diabetic, or at imminent risk of developing the disease. Worldwide, an estimated 246 million people suffer from the disease. Prevalence is only expected to increase as the spreading Western diet and lifestyle lead to increasing rates of obesity. Sources for this story include: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64J7BF20100520; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/722267; http://www.medpagetoday.com/Endocrinology/Diabetes/20220.
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(NaturalNews) The overall decline in tobacco use around the world has hurt many tobacco farmers, but scientists have identified an alternative use for tobacco that could spark new life into the tobacco industry and revolutionize modern agriculture. According to a report published in the journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research , tobacco has long been used as a natural, organic pesticide, and it could be the answer to the widespread use of outmoded, chemical pesticides that are destroying both health and the planet. According to the report, small-scale farmers and even backyard gardeners have used tobacco, and nicotine in particular, for hundreds of years to deter and kill crop pests. Cedric Briens and his colleagues from the University of Western Ontario studied how tobacco works as a natural pesticide. They came to realize that it kills pests, inhibits bacterial growth, and fights harmful fungi. Tobacco becomes a natural pesticide through pyrolysis, a technique that transforms its leaves into a potent “bio-oil” using high heat and vacuum pressure. The team tested this bio-oil on 11 different fungi species, four bacteria, and the Colorado potato beetle, a highly destructive agricultural pest that has become resistant to chemical pesticides. They discovered that not only was the solution effective against the beetle, but it also worked against some of the bacteria and fungi. The report states that because of the unique equipment used in tobacco farming, it is difficult for tobacco farmers to transition to other crops. Many continue to produce it even though overall demand is in decline, which leaves many of them with excess crop every year that ends up going to waste. So using it as an alternative to harmful, chemical pesticides could not only turn the tobacco industry into a positive benefit on society, but also save the livelihoods of the farmers that grow it. Sources for this story include: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-10/acs-tai102710.php
After Medicare slashed payments to doctors, doctors simply "treat" more patients to make up for the shortfall of revenue
(NaturalNews) When Congress cuts Medicare reimbursements to doctors, doctors may simply respond by ordering treatments for more patients, according to study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and published in the journal Health Affairs . “Hospitals and doctors will respond to changes in how they are paid,” researcher Joseph P. Newhouse said. In 2003, Congress reduced Medicare reimbursements to doctors for certain chemotherapy drugs out of concern that excessive markups — in some cases, as much as 20 percent more than what doctors were paying for the drugs — provided a financial incentive for doctors to prescribe the drugs in cases where they were not, in fact, the best treatment. But some critics of the cuts warned that they might remove too much of the profit motivation, causing specialists to stop treating many patients. “At the time, I think we were legitimately concerned about that,” said oncologist Craig C. Earle of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. But an analysis of Medicare claims for 22,478 patients who were diagnosed with lung cancer found that within a month of diagnosis, chemotherapy was prescribed for 18.9 percent of patients after the law went into effect in 2005, compared with 16.5 percent before it went into effect. “These markups were a substantial portion of [doctors'] income,” Newhouse said. In response to a loss in profit from those markups, he said, many doctors apparently responded by increasing their prescription rates. “In sum, far from limiting access,” the researchers wrote, “[the law] actually increased the likelihood that lung cancer patients received chemotherapy.” The researchers also found that after reimbursement rates were decreased, doctors became more likely to prescribe more expensive drugs, even when there was no evidence that such drugs were more effective. “The financial incentive seemed to have an effect where there’s not strong evidence or more than one equally good treatment option,” Earle said. Sources for this story include: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/17/health/17drug.html.
(NaturalNews) The average age of puberty in girls is now nine, in a phenomenon increasingly being blamed on rising obesity and exposure to hormone-disrupting pollutants in the food supply. The study was conducted in 2006 by researchers from the world-renowned Department of Growth and Reproduction at University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark. The researchers found that among 1,000 girls, the average age of breast development was nine years and 10 months, a full year earlier than when a similar study was conducted in 1991. “We were very surprised that there had been such a change in a period of just 15 years,” researcher Anders Juul said. Although the study was conducted in Denmark, experts believe that it applies to other parts of the First World, including Europe and the United States. This earlier age of maturation is even more striking when compared with the 19th century, when girls reached puberty at an average age of 15, and boys reached it at 17. Since then, the age of puberty has moved back steadily, until age 14 for boys and age 12 for girls were formally declared “normal” in the 1960s. These numbers were based on the average age of first period for girls and of voices breaking for boys. It’s not just scientific studies suggesting these figures are now obsolete; anecdotal reports of boys dropping out of choir schools when their voices break at age 12 or 13 are now widespread. According to Richard Stanhope, an expert in childhood hormonal disorders, specialists are now convinced that early puberty is a real phenomenon. Early puberty can be hard on children who are mature physically but still young emotionally, experts warn. “All the things we experience as teenagers are difficult enough to cope with, but when it happens at 10 or 11 it is much worse,” Stanhope said. “These children are also at a much higher risk of being sexually abused, because it is hard for some adults to understand and behave appropriately towards them.” A girl interviewed anonymously by the Times of London said her early development subjected her to teasing at school. “I had to wear a bra at nine,” she said. “I used to pretend to be ill to get out of changing for PE. The worst part was men coming on to me as though I was an adult when actually I was 11.” The biological risks can also be dire. Earlier menarche in girls means a longer lifetime exposure to estrogen, which has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease. “If girls mature early, they run into teenage problems at an early age and they’re more prone to diseases later on,” Juul said. “We should be worried about this regardless of what we think the underlying reasons might be. It’s a clear sign that something is affecting our children, whether it’s junk food, environmental chemicals or lack of physical activity.” “We don’t know if this is the result of better nutrition or environmental factors, but it does create social problems for girls who are already living in a sexualized society,” agreed Richard Sharpe, head of the human reproductive sciences unit for the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council. The cause of early puberty remains contested, but the condition has been convincingly linked both to increased obesity rates and to exposure to endocrine-disrupting toxins such as bisphenol A, the chemical found in plastic water bottles and lining canned foods and beverages. Supporting both of these hypotheses, a recent study in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that while only 35 percent of girls who ate meat four times a week or fewer had reached puberty by age 12.5, 49 percent of those who ate meat 12 times a week had done so. Levels of persistent organic pollutants are typically higher in foods high in animal fat, such as meat and dairy. Sources for this story include: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article7148975.ece.
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