Researchers at Boston University Medical School studying 16,000 women have decided that working around strong electromagnetic fields increases a woman's risk of breast cancer.Women working as electrical engineers, around fluorescent lights, or as computer operators had a 43 percent greater chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer than those who had very little exposure to electromagnetic radiation. It is thought that the pineal gland is affected, reducing melatonin which in turn leads to higher estrogen levels. This, through some obscure mechanism, seems to stimulate cell growth.1
1. Epidemiology, September, 1996.
GATT and Vitamin Restrictions
The Federation of Natural and Traditional Therapists (FNTT) in Australia is warning that a proposal due for consideration in October could place severe restrictions on vitamin and mineral supplements, and may increase their cost by a factor of nine. The United Nations/World Health Organization's Codex Commission will be setting international medical standards. One item on the agenda is a proposal to ban the manufacture, transfer or selling of all nonprescription food supplements. According to the FNTT, the main intent is to regulate such items in Europe, but because of the GATT treaty, the United States and Australia could face trade sanctions if they did not comply.2
2. Australian Associated Press, August 19, 1996.
Shark Cartilage Slows Cancers
According to research at New Zealand's Wellington Medical School, shark cartilage seems to inhibit blood vessel growth, thus inhibiting the growth of many types of cancers. Rats that were fed the cartilage reduced their blood vessel proliferation in abnormal tissues by 70 percent over a one year period.3
3. Paul Davis, lead researcher, in an interview by Reuter News Service, August 19, 1996.
Consumers Not Alerted to Drug Interactions
In an experiment performed by U.S. News & World Report, 245 pharmacies were presented with prescriptions for a combination of drugs with potentially serious drug interactive effects. They found that less than half the time, on average, did the pharmacists recognize the danger and alert the consumer. The results varied widely according to geographical area as well as other factors. Independent drug stores warned customers less often, as did stores in lower income neighborhoods. In Denver, one dangerous combination was quietly dispensed more than half the time, while the vast majority of pharmacists in Indianapolis refused to fill the prescription.4
4. U.S. News & World Report, August 19, 1996.
Tongue Depressors Spread Fungi
An outbreak of a fungal infection among newborn babies in a London hospital has been blamed on wooden tongue depressors used by the hospital staff. Three babies died and one baby's arm had to be amputated. In the latter case, the spatula was used to secure tubes onto the arm. The problem is thought to have arisen because of a combination of naturally occurring fungus on the wood, increasing microbial drug resistance, and warm, moist conditions in neonatal incubators.5
5. The Lancet, August 17, 1996.
Retinitis Drug Study Halted
A controlled study of a drug developed for AIDS-related CMV retinitis was halted in August when early results showed no benefit and a possible harm. MSL 109 produced no improvement in the retinitis progression during the early part of the study when compared to a placebo, and there was a higher death rate among the drug group. An interesting twist was that the placebo group had a lower than expected mortality rate.6
6. Associated Press, August 15, 1996, reporting on an announcement by the National Eye Institute.
Urinary Infection in Women
A study of 795 women at the University of Seattle concludes that urinary infections in females are indeed related to sexual activity. Risks for sexually active women were higher, and rose to as much as seven times normal when using spermacides as part of a birth control method. Single women were more prone to the problem than similarly matched married females, for reasons unclear to the researchers.7
7. New England Journal of Medicine, August 15, 1996.
This Is Your Brain on Acid...
In an accidental discovery, British researchers say they have found a distinct link between pH levels and intelligence. Working with 42 boys ages 6 to 13 with muscular dystrophy, and a control group of 42 healthy boys, they found higher IQs when tests showed an alkaline brain chemistry. They are not sure if the intellect changes the pH or vice versa. Other studies have shown a correlation between nerve transmission speed and pH.8
8. Reuter, August 15, 1996, reporting on an announcement by Caroline Rae for the Medical Research Council.
Vitamin C-Enriched Coffee
The Stella Bella company has announced the development of a vitamin C enrichment to their coffee beans that is tasteless, odorless, and withstands high brewing temperatures. Two cups are said to provide the adult minimum daily requirement. Promoters are no doubt hoping people will see this as a healthy alternative to ordinary coffee.9
9. For information contact Carter Communications, (818) 752-1500.
Diagnostics Can Make You Sick
Recent increases in diagnostic studies are leading to a higher exposure to risks from treatment and the tests themselves, says a Dartmouth Medical School physician.10 His study found a 300 percent increase in Medicare diagnostics over a seven-year period, leading to more surgical procedures that may not have been necessary.
10. JAMA, April 17, 1996.
Yogurt in School Lunches
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been considering allowing yogurt to be substituted for meat in school lunches across the country. Cheese and peanut butter are already considered acceptable substitutes. Officials think that children will welcome the change, but worry that they may cut back on milk consumption. A decision is expected soon.11
11. Associated Press, August 8, 1996.
Experiments that connected patients to a computer by telephone increased patient compliance significantly in a recent study by researchers at Boston University Medical Center. Patients interacted with pre-recorded messages by pressing numbers on their phone. The patients were asked to call the computer once or twice a week to report their progress or get tips from the computer. If they didn't call, the computer called them. One study found a 60 percent increase in exercise compliance among the computer consulting group. Another group exhibited a 17 percent drop in average cholesterol levels compared to the non-computerized group. A spokesman for the research group predicts that such interactions "will be a major means of delivering health care in the 21st century."12
12. Dr. Robert Friedman, quoted by the Associated Press after describing the work at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.
Brian Sutton, DC
Manitou Springs, Colorado
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