Vitamin D Deficiency Tied to Military Suicide

BETHESDA, MD—A new study published in Public Library of Science ONE  found low vitamin D levels may correlate to suicide in active duty military personnel.

Vitamin DFor “Vitamin D Status and Suicide,” researchers at National Institutes of Health, Creighton University Medical Center and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences conducted a nested, case-control study using serum samples from the Department of Defense Serum Repository (PLoS ONE 8(1): e51543. doi:10.1371). All of the nearly 1,000 subjects were previously deployed, and the samples were drawn within 24 months of suicide. Researchers measured the 25(OH) D levels to estimate vitamin D status, then calculated odds ratio of suicide based on categorical octile levels.

Low vitamin D levels are common in active duty service members, as more than 30 percent of those tested had levels below 20 ng/mL. The scientists noted though average vitamin D levels were similar between the suicide and non-suicide group, the lowest octile of vitamin D levels was at the highest risk of suicide. Subjects in higher octiles had decreased risk.

In recent years, vitamin D deficiency has been tied to everything from obesity to autism; more science is surfacing regarding the vitamin’s role in brain health. For further information about recent research on vitamin D, download INSIDER‘s free digital issue, “2012: A Year in Review.”

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Science Strongly Supports Cranberry Benefits for Urinary Tract Health

Cranberry researchers encourage consumers to consider the wealth of evidence supporting the health benefits of cranberries

CARVER, Mass., Oct. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Cranberries in many forms are enjoyed by millions of people globally on a daily basis.  Despite the discussions stemming from the recent Cochrane Review, “Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections”, cranberry science and nutrition experts assert that consumers should still feel confident in consuming cranberries as a means of maintaining urinary tract health.  There is a wealth of scientific evidence, from independent research institutions globally, that has demonstrated that regular consumption of cranberry products helps promote urinary tract health.

“UTIs affect over 15 million U.S. women each year, and cranberries are regarded and researched as a viable means to help address the public health challenge that management of UTIs present, including the growing issue of antibiotic resistances,” says Dr. Amy Howell, Associate Research Scientist at the Marucci Blueberry and Cranberry Research Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  “For decades, cranberries have been recognized for their powerful anti-adhesion properties against bacteria like E. coli that cause urinary tract infections. The Cochrane Review analyzed results from some of the clinical trials, using criteria that apply to studies on drug treatments.  These are not necessarily appropriate for diet and nutrition research.”

Dr. Howell’s position is supported in the scientific literature.  Three new UTI clinical studies published after the Cochrane Review was prepared have indicated significant benefits in children, with the participants experiencing as much as a 65% reduction in UTIs and subsequent use of antibiotics. It is also important to note that a recent review contradicts the results of the Cochrane findings.  In the July 9, 2012 publication of the Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists reviewed thirteen cranberry and urinary tract health trials with 1,616 subjects and concluded that cranberry-containing products are associated with protective effects against UTIs. In addition, the Journal of Infection and Chemotherapy published a randomized clinical trial involving female patients with UTIs suffering from multiple relapses and the impact of cranberry juice.  The results showed that cranberry juice prevented the recurrence of UTIs in a subgroup of this female population with 24-week intake of the beverage.  This is another indication of the positive attributes of cranberries with respect to the urinary tract health.

Cranberry Benefits Go Beyond Urinary Tract Health

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), cranberry juice may also have a beneficial effect on blood pressure due to polyphenolic antioxidant compounds found in cranberries. The study, led by Janet Novotny, research physiologist for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, recently presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions, found that participants who drank cranberry juice as part of a healthy diet had lower blood pressure levels than those participants who did not.

“Cranberries naturally contain the flavonoid, proanthocyanidin (PAC) and other polyphenols that have potential health benefits,” explains Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, LD, FADA, past president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association. “Flavonoids have been heralded in heart health promotion.”

Given that Americans are looking for options to increase their fruit and vegetable intake, Diekman urges consumers to consider cranberry products as a way to achieve the recommendations.

“Cranberries fit within the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate recommendations,” states Diekman.  “Cranberry products – cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce or fresh cranberries – give people that slightly sweet but tart and tangy taste they enjoy, so it’s easy to help them incorporate into their daily lives.”

“The bottom line is if people are currently consuming cranberry products for their positive health benefits, the results of the Cochrane Review do not provide a compelling reason for them to change their current practices,” recommends Dr. Howell.

For more information about the health benefits of cranberries and current scientific research visit

About the Cranberry Institute
The Cranberry Institute is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1951 to further the success of cranberry growers and the industry in the Americas through health, agricultural and environmental stewardship research as well as cranberry promotion and education.  The Cranberry Institute is funded voluntarily by Supporting Members that handle, process, and sell cranberries. Supporting Members are represented in national and international regulatory matters and research efforts are done on their behalf.

Beta-Glucan Reduces Allergy Symptoms

EAGAN, Minn.—A new study published in the journal Food Science & Nutrition showed individuals taking a proprietary baker’s yeast beta-glucan (Wellmune WGP® from Biothera) had reduced allergy symptoms and improved the quality of life of ragweed allergy sufferers.

The randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study involved 48 healthy people equally divided into two groups. One group consumed a placebo, while the other group consumed a 250 mg serving of Wellmune WPG daily for four weeks in an area of southeast Ohio where pollen counts are high. Participants completed allergy surveys, including the Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (RQLQ) to asses differences in allergy symptoms.

Participants subjected to high pollen counts demonstrated statistically significant reductions in overall symptoms and severity, reductions in nasal and eye-related allergy symptoms and improvement on the Quality of Life Index.

“The findings suggest that Wellmune WGP can play an effective role in reducing seasonal allergy symptoms among ragweed allergy sufferers,” said Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., lead investigator, GLH Nutrition LLC.

The study found Wellmune WGP modulated the immune system when less of an immune response was needed; results demonstrate that Wellmune can prime the immune system to keep the body healthy.

15 Tips For Quitting Smoking

From Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Smoking is a highly addictive habit that has devastating consequences. Not only does it precipitate lung and pancreatic cancer, heart disease and a three-fold increase in age-related macular degeneration (AMD, the leading cause of blindness), it all too often results in sudden death.

After more than 30 years as a clinical cardiologist, I’ve learned firsthand of the cardinal relationship between smoking and disease.

Smoking and the Heart

Researchers have identified approximately 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke that can cause free radical damage to the blood vessels. These chemicals also increase the stickiness of blood, upping a person’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

We’ve also learned that nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke provoked high blood pressure (nicotine is a potent vasoconstrictor) and damaged the linings of blood vessel walls. But the alarming number of compounds in cigarettes and cigarette smoke has made it a virtual research nightmare to isolate the cause of smoking-related disease.

We do know, however, that excessive buildup of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which occurs in smokers, not only damages small blood vessels of the eye and heart, it robs the body of oxygen. A smoker might just as well hook himself up to the tailpipe of his car!

Finally, smoking also intensifies the oxidation of LDL and, remember, this sets the works in motion for clogged arteries. Further, research has proven that smoking severely depletes essential nutrients like vitamins C and E, both of which are needed to prevent free radical stress in blood vessels.

Smokers Lose 10 Years Plus Of Life

Smoking shortens lifespan according to new studies plus new curbs on smoking are being implemented by companies paying for health insurance. There’s never been a better time to kick the smoking habit for good.

Kicking the Smoking Habit

When it comes to smoking, I believe that biting the bullet and just saying “no” is the best way out. To get started, I suggest you prepare to quit one week ahead of time. Here are a few tips to help you lay the groundwork:

  • Remove all smoking-related items from your house, car and office—ashtrays, lighters, packs of cigarettes and butts.
  • Only smoke outside! This means all the time. No smoking in the car.
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke in your house, car, or office.
  • Start a daily exercise program—whether it’s walking, swimming, biking, or following along with an exercise video.
  • Tell everyone you know you are quitting.
  • Consider quitting during a break from your usual routine (vacation/over the weekend).
  • Buy a low-tar nicotine cigarette like True or Advantage to help wean you off more addictive cigarettes.
  • Talk to your doctor about low-nicotine patches. My patients have had success with patches. But please don’t smoke while using these patches.
    • If you’re depressed, talk to your doctor about the prescription drug Wellbutrin (Zyban).

Tips to Stay on the Smoke-Free Track

Many people start and stop smoking several times over in a lifetime. I’ve found that if you can quit for three straight days, the cravings for a cigarette get easier, and your risk of heart disease is cut in half, too.

The following tips will help you get through those three days…and any other difficult days that may come along.

  • At bedtime, take the money that you would have spent on cigarettes that day and toss it in a big glass jar. At the end of the first week, gather it up and spend it on yourself. See a movie or splurge on some small thing you’ve been wanting. Then save for longer time periods and make the rewards bigger!
  • Take a few “timeouts” (5–10 minutes) to be still and focus on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling slowly and rhythmically like you did when you smoked.
  • Avoid the locations of your smoking breaks, or favorite entertainment spots.
  • Eat celery or carrot sticks, or chew sugarless gum in the evening, or after a meal.
  • Drink 10 glasses of water daily. Add a slice of lemon or lime to enhance the flavor. Citrus may eliminate the urge to pick up a cigarette.
  • Commit to yourself and to a loved one to stop smoking. Ask for help if you need it, and don’t start smoking again!

Smoking addiction didn’t happen with your first smoke, so don’t expect your cravings to disappear overnight. Playing the “Is It Healthy?” Game is about bringing your attention to the moment and choosing the healthy behavior in that moment. The tips provided by Dr. Sinatra will go a long way to setting the stage for you to choose healthy when the nicotine craving begins to ravage your will.

If your oral fixation must be served, you might as well eat some of these detox foods.  Here’s a detox diet for smokers to help your liver clean out toxins from smoking. Good luck and happy breathing.

The Next Diet Trend: Suck Food Out of Your Stomach

Lisa Johnson has managed to dig up a new technology being tested for the morbidly obese. What do you think, will it take us one step closer to Wally World?

Oh, the phrases running through my head right now.

“This’ll turn your stomach!”

Or: “Eat whatever you want and suck it out later!”

What might seem like science fiction is actually already being tested on humans. Dean Kamen, the guy who brought us the Segway, is now developing a device called AspireAssist. Essentially it’s a pump for your stomach, so you can vacuum out calories before they hit your system.

And, yes, according to Kamen, it is fine to eat whatever you’re going to eat. All you need to do is wait an hour (hey, just like swimming!) while the food is broken down into a more liquid form in your stomach. Then just Hoover the stuff out!

The developers estimate you can reduce your calorie intake by about 30%. Beta testers of the product have admitted that some food seems to get clogged in the tube — such as broccoli and steak — so the company has some tweaks to work on.

My take? This is absolutely disgusting, ewh, ick, ewh … Who the hell thought this will be huge on the market?

Presumably you’d need a doctor’s approval as it requires a medical procedure to install the tube. I look at bariatric surgery as a form of mutilation, something that should only be used as an absolute last resort. But this … this tops everything.

Peddling to the Morbidly Obese

OK, so if you’re morbidly obese, you’ve been given a lot of dire threats from your doctors over the years. You’re probably downing a lot of pills, and you’re desperate — absolutely desperate — to lose weight, to not die, to live a more full life.  I get it, I truly, truly get it. This isn’t about vanity any more, or being teased, or judged … this is about living longer, about waking up the next morning.

But do we really need this device to be the siren call of redemption? Does this have to be the way we cure obesity in America?

There is ZERO behavior modification here. People can still eat more food than they need, and given the ability to remove it later. You know, there is a term for doing this regularly … it’s called an eating disorder!

What do you think?  Are you as disgusted as I am?



photo credit: Aspire Bariatrics

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