Category Archives: In the News

Canada’s War on Drugs…and Vitamins

On April 8, 2008, Canada’s federal government tabled bill Bill C-51.

Health Minister, Tony Clement says that Bill C-51 is designed to “modernize the Food and Drugs Act”.

Furthermore, the Bill “proposes to maintain a rigorous assessment of health products prior to making them available. In addition, we’re proposing to gain the ability to continuously monitor the safety of products even after they are approved”.

Sounds good.

Don’t want any tainted vitamins, herbs, etc, getting into the marketplace. And if they do, the government has taken the power and responsibility of recall from the manufacturers and given it to themselves.

So, essentially what the government is doing is asking the natural health product industry to prove that their products will do no harm. Once proven, manufacturers will be able to make claims of efficacy like the pharmaceutical industry.

This may even improve the business model for nutritional supplements in Canada. Vetted health claims might increase the legitimacy of the industry in the public’s eye. And yet, something doesn’t seem right with this piece of legislation.

Here is my problem with Bill C-51.

  • What are they protecting us from?
  • In 2006, the U.S. reported one death associated with the ingestion of vitamins. An unknown vitamin & it was reported that while the vitamin played a part, it was unlikely that it was the cause of death. How they would know that if the vitamin was unknown, I will never know.
  • Compare that to the 2006 data for Pharmaceutical deaths. The full report is here.
  • Pharmaceutical Categories associated with largest number of fatalities (Top 25)
  • Deaths – Substance
    382- Sedative/hypnotics/antipsychotics
    307 – Opioids
    252 – Cardiovascular drugs
    214 – Acetaminophen in combination
    210 – Antidepressants
    203 – Stimulants and street drugs
    139 – Alcohols
    138 – Acetaminophen only
    98 – Muscle relaxants
    93 – Anticonvulsants
    75 – Cyclic antidepressants
    69 – Fumes/gases/vapors
    66 – Antihistamines
    61 – Aspirin alone
    55 – Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
    49 – Unknown drug
    38 – Chemicals
    35 – Oral hypoglycemics
    27 – Miscellaneous drugs
    25 – Diuretics
    25 – Automotive/aircraft/boat products
    22 – Antihistamine/decongestant, without phenylpropanolamine
    20 – Hormones and hormone antagonists
    18- Anticoagulants

Vitamins – 1 death

Aspirin & Acetaminophen – 199 deaths

As far as I am concerned, that should be the end of the story. The government has no business creating a problem where none exists.

Fin

For those of you who want more, here are some interesting links.

video of an anti Bill C-51 rally

Health Minister, Tony Clement’s press conference to discuss Bill C-51

article in the Globe and Mail

article in the Vancouver Sun

The (CHFA) Canadian Health Food Association’s submission to the House of Commons.

article by Andre Picard, Globe and Mail

CHFA response to Picard article

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How to beat Emotional Eating

Are you an Emotional Eater?

Do your feelings drive your appetite and your eating behavior?

Do you eat when you are not hungry?

Do you continue to eat when you are full?…stuffed?…about to explode?

Do you ever find yourself on the couch with your hand at the bottom of a LARGE bag of chips?

Do you eat like this while you are alone?

When you are bored?

When you are stressed?

To take your mind off of your problems?

Do you feel guilty about this behavior?

YES

Then you are an Emotional Eater.

You’re not alone.

Janet Jackson and Britney Spears are celebrity examples of Emotional Eaters

So What Do I Do?

If you think that your manner of eating may constitute a threat to your health, please contact your doctor.

And here is some solid reference info:

What Do I Do Right Now?!

One tool you should look into right away is Mindful Eating.

Here are some links to mindful eating sites. TCME CAMP System Dr.Susan Albers Amazon book list

In the past few years, the practice of mindful eating has grown out of the more generalized psychiatric practice of Mindfulness Meditation, made popular by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

It finds it’s origin in Buddhist teachings. The Buddhist practice of Mindfulness can be defined as “awareness of one’s thoughts, actions or motivations”.

A similar practice is currently being espoused by Oprah’s protege, Mr. Eckhart Tolle.

TLC’s – I Can Make You Thin with Paul McKenna employed mindful eating in it’s weight loss plan.

In the 1920’s, Horace Fletcher was the diet guru of the day with his theory of Fletcherizing.

Mindful Eating – The Basics

Eat consciously. By this I mean:

  • Take a bite of food
  • Put down your implements/sandwich/glass/etc…
  • Chew your food
  • Taste your food
  • Enjoy your food
  • Repeat until you ‘think’ you are starting to feel full
  • Stop Eating
  • Eat again when you are hungry – not bored or nervous – listen for a ‘grumbly tummy’

That’s It.

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The Fox News B.S. Health Blog

Warning: Prepare to be Manipulated

Just to show how much they care about you and your health, the Fox News Health Blog is headlining these stories:

Girl Is One of 500 Suffering From Rare Genetic Disorder

This poor little girl, Emily Joost suffers from Aicardi syndrome. “Aicardi syndrome is an uncommon malformation syndrome characterized by absence of a key structure in the brain called the corpus callosum, the presence of retinal abnormalities, and seizures in the form of infantile spasms. It is inherited as an X-linked dominant trait and is lethal in males”.

Only 500 people in the entire world has this condition.

Fox News, in their inimitable style, have latched onto this highly emotional story in their quest for eyeballs.

If you, like me, were touched by this story, donations to the Aicardi Syndrome Foundation are being accepted here. I am sure that Fox News made a big donation.

10 Mistakes Women Make in Bed

Now we move from sorrow to sex.

Written by Fox Sex-pert, Dr. Yvonne Fulbright, Fox News as always, tackles the most serious subjects.

And Here’s the Top 10 Mistakes Women make in the Sack

1. Trading in Marilyn for Mommy.

2. Being unresponsive in the sack.

3. Forgetting to stay feminine.

4. Judging his porn pleasuring.

5. Being afraid to talk dirty.

6. Being unable to own your body.

7. Trash-talking other women.

8. Assuming you’ll be monogamous.

9. Ignoring his nipples.

10. Using too much teeth.

Miley Cyrus’ Offer From Playboy: Is the Age of Sexual Consent Being Challenged?

Staying with the SEX stories…

Fox reports that, “Hugh Hefner has said that he would like to see Miley Cyrus pose naked for Playboy—when she turns 18”.

Is this surprising?

Hugh Hefner, at 82 years old, can still freak people out.

One of those freakees was Fox columnist, Dr. Keith Ablow. Dr. Ablow had this to say:

“I believe Hefner’s offer, albeit cloaked in the disclaimer that Miley has to be legal to strip for him, may herald a challenge to the current age of sexual consent—which is between 16 and 18 in almost all states, lower only in South Carolina (and only when the sexual partners are both young)”.

“What Hefner chose to do was to express being sexually attracted to an underage girl. He knows that he is perceived as freeing American men to express their sexuality. In this case, he is presumably leading the way in suggesting that men ought to feel free to direct their sexual fantasies toward 15-year-olds—bemoaning, perhaps, the fact that they will have to impatiently wait to get them out of their clothes”.

It seems that along with medicine, Dr. Ablow has also been trained in the doctoring of SPIN.

Fox doesn’t mind cashing in on the celebrity of Miley Cyrus. They also don’t mind taking a story that MOST people found disturbing and a little bit creepy, and then spoon feeding us back our own opinions.

How do these Stories Impact your Health?

The answer is: They Don’t

Unbelievably, the Fox News Health Blog is the sixth fastest growing blog on WordPress.

Fastest Growing WordPress.com blogs

  1. Tennis Planet
  2. CNN Political Ticker
  3. FOX Embeds
  4. Lolcats ‘n’ Funny Pictures – I Can Has Cheezburger?
  5. The Page
  6. FOX News Health Blog
  7. Ask the Expert – Money Magazine

Seriously…people…Fox..News..Health..Blog

One story to make you cry and then two stories designed to get you in the mood for McLovin.

Next time, just pick up the Enquirer.

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Fat-o-Phobia

We have officially gone crazy.

In Japan, employers are forcing their employees to eat fish sausages, participate in a “lifestyle reform programs,” and attend boot camps designed to reduce the incidence of metabolic disease or metabo.

Not to be upstaged, the Japanese government has introduced compulsory ‘fat checks‘ for people over 40 years of age.

It’s not just the Japanese that are panicky about obesity.

This article in The Independent brought my attention to all of the medical classifications we now have for obesity and supposedly aberrant eating behaviors.

We all know about bulimia and anorexia.

But did you know about:

and my personal favorite

  • Rumination – Like a cow, ‘bringing up’ partially digested food and then spitting it out or digesting it.

How about:

Maybe, for simplicity’s sake, we could lump all of these conditions together under one banner:

  • Obesophobia – a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of gaining weight

I am not for one second suggesting that people have legitimate mental & physical issues concerning food and their bodies.

But, why oh why, does every human peculiarity have to become a syndrome or a condition?

Why do we have to be afraid of everything?

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News Flash! Caveman Diet Good…Your Diet Bad

Swedish scientists have just published a research paper that indicates that eating a diet rich in lean meat, vegetables, berries and nuts is effective in lowering YOUR chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Keeping in mind that it was only a three week study, and additional long term research will be required, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that the volunteers reduced body-fat, lowered their blood pressure and slashed levels of a blood-thickening agent (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1) known to cause deadly clots.

The results, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, support earlier scientific and real world findings that praise the health benefits of the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet.

The theory behind this way of eating is that prior to the advent of agriculture (10,000 years ago) our ancestors lived only on foods that could be speared or picked from trees and plants.

Some scientists argue the human genome has been unable to keep pace with our advances in agriculture and food preparation. The theory is that the modern human body is not genetically programmed to thrive on our modern diet. Our technology may be modern, but our bodies haven’t fully caught up and chronic ailments like obesity and type 2 diabetes are the result.

To that end, following the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet means no cereals, bread, milk, butter, cheese or sugar but plenty of lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

To test its effect, the Swedish researchers recruited 20 healthy volunteers and put them on caveman rations for three weeks.

Each patient was assessed for weight, body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol at the beginning of the experiment.

They were then given a list of stone-age foods they could eat, including fresh or frozen fruit, berries or vegetables, lean meat, unsalted fish, canned tomatoes, lemon or lime juice, spices and coffee or tea without milk or sugar.

Banned foods included beans, salt, peanuts, dairy products, pasta or rice, sausages, alcohol, sugar and fruit juice.

However, they were also allowed up to two potatoes a day and a weekly treat of dried fruit, cured meats and a portion of fatty meat.

After three weeks, the volunteers were tested again.

Among the 14 who successfully completed the diet, the average weight loss was around five pounds. BMI dropped by 0.8. Systolic blood pressure fell by an average of three mmHg. And the levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 dropped by 72 per cent. Other favorable effects were the increase in antioxidants and a healthier potassium-sodium balance. One potential negative was the reduction of calcium. This effect should be addressed in further studies.

Official Scientific Conclusion:

This short-term intervention showed some favourable effects by the diet, but further studies, including control group, are needed. blah,blah,blah

My Conclusion:

Fruit, vegetables, lean meat good. Bagel-Fuls BAD

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Breaking News! The government thinks you’re fat!

Jeremy Sammut of ABC News (Australia) has written an article claiming that government sponsored programs that promote public health don’t work.

While his focus is specific to the Australian experience, his claim that Australia’s government has squandered public funds on advertising campaigns may be applicable to both Europe and North America. The fact is, obesity is on the rise in the ‘developed’ world. Attempts by national or regional governments to promote a healthy lifestyle have been unsuccessful in reversing this trend towards obesity.

Sammut makes a few very interesting observations.

First, he claims that when government assumes the role of health nazi/nanny, it absolves the individual of “their primary responsibility for the unhealthy lifestyle decisions they continue to make”, and as a result, “the lifestyle disease ‘epidemic’ is blamed on a lack of government-funded entitlement to preventive primary care”.

This takes us to the second point; “the limits of government authority over individual behaviour, and the importance of personal qualities in regulating it – why nearly 40 years of health promotion has coincided with ascending rates of lifestyle disease”.

And if we are going to allow government to assume authority over our behavior, we have to question the motivations behind this program.

Quite often, “advocates of more spending on lifestyle disease prevention often draw false parallels with the success of the campaign against tobacco smoking”. This argument is specious in that smoking bans and the ‘sin’ taxes applied on tobacco products are examples of public health regulation, not health promotion.

You would think that applying this model to public exercise and nutrition would be near impossible. Smokers were a minority group and their behavior was found to be less than enchanting by a large portion of the population. Simply put, the majority ganged up on them and enacted laws that made smoking a financial and logistical pain in the butt.

How would government apply this strategy when the majority of the population does not exercise, eats junk food and has no intention of changing?

They would start with the children. Apply a little parental guilt. Ban junk food from school (already happening). Slap a sin tax on ‘junk food’. Expand that tax to include bacon, eggs, cheese, filet mignon, etc…

Wow! Big Brother wants to tax my bacon & eggs.

While that is unlikely (I hope) to happen, Sammut’s argument is that the health promotion programs advocated for by certain lobby groups, prepared by marketing companies and approved by governments have not been successful.

In Canada, advocates of the ParticipACTION program (historical info) have considered it a success due to it’s longevity and the fact that “two years after the agency had ceased to operate in 2001, almost 80% of Canadians still recognized the ParticipACTION logo and message”.

No mention of it’s positive impact on the health of Canadians. Wasn’t that the point of the program?

Nope, cheesy commercials that you can’t get out of your head. Like this ,this, this, and check out this spoof. Classic fromage.

My Two Cents

As much as I appreciate the light that Dr. Sammut has shined on this subject, I was a little disappointed by his conclusion.

“It is therefore timely to review the evidence. Because when the assumptions are questioned and the evidence examined with a clear eye, what is revealed is that there is actually slim support for the belief that preventive public health policies – be they ‘community-wide’ or ‘high-intensity’ lifestyle interventions – have in the past brought obesity and lifestyle disease under control, or that they are likely to in the future”.

Review the evidence?

Do nothing?

While I agree that most if not all governments have a great talent for throwing great big bags of money at problems that they have no hope of solving, does that mean that as a society we are doomed to accept gluttony and sloth as our birthright?

Here are two possible solutions.

In the U.K., doctors are able to write prescriptions for exercise.

Personally, while I believe that this plan is flawed due to the fact that when the government is looking to spend public dollars, there will always be bureaucrats and service providers ready and willing to overcharge and under-deliver. However, to be fair, I should mention that this program has not been in operation long enough to show whether it is successful or not.

Another possibility would be to offer tax refunds to those individuals that can prove that they are pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Instead of demonizing the couch potatoes amongst us, reward the energizer bunnies.

What do you think?

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NYC Food Police: Keeping New Yawkers safe from the evil Big Mac

Newsweek reports that as of this past Monday, New York City’s health department began ticketing restaurants that haven’t complied with the new law requiring them to post calorie counts on their menus.

By the end of Monday, five restaurants had been ticketed. The perpetrators: Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds, Popeye’s, Sbarro and TGIFridays.

Lucky for them that the citations were little more than warnings. They carried no fines, because a federal judge had said the city could not impose fines until mid-July. When imposed, the fines will range from $200 to $2,000.

And what about those rebels that refuse to go along with this by-law? While the New York State Restaurant Association has taken the city of New York to court over this issue, the restaurateurs themselves seem to be falling into line.

And just to make sure they do, the form that the city gave to the offending restaurants carried the warning that the health department “expects that the conditions will be addressed promptly.” The form cautioned that “any recurrence of these conditions could result in further action being taken.”

Maybe they should call in McDonaldland’s former Chief of Police, Big Mac.

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