Saturday, May 30, 2009

How Dangerous Is Hydroxycut?

/24-7/ -- On May 1, 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release urging consumers to stop using 14 varieties of the diet aid Hydroxycut and return unused portions to the place of purchase. The FDA also sent a letter to health care professionals stating that officials "believe [Hydroxycut] presents a serious public health risk." In response, the manufacturer of Hydroxycut, Iovate Health Sciences, Inc., decided to issue a voluntary recall of all products named by the FDA. But just how dangerous is Hydroxycut, really? Was the FDA justified in its action, or is this an overhasty response to a minor health concern.

About Hydroxycut Injuries

The main rationale for the FDA's action regarding Hydroxycut is liver damage. In some patients it seems to create acute liver toxicity that required hospitalization in more than 2/3 of the reported cases, and required liver transplants for two of them. One of the patients was deemed unsuitable for a liver transplant because of significant damage to other organs. This patient, a 17-year old male, had taken an elevated dose of Hydroxycut, and died after the decision was made not to pursue the liver transplant.

In addition to liver damage, the FDA determined that a number of serious illnesses have been associated with Hydroxycut use, including cardiovascular injury, seizures, and severe muscle damage known as rhabdomyolysis.

The Numbers of Hydroxycut Injuries

In its press releases and statements, the FDA claims there have been 23 cases of confirmed liver damage resulting from the use of Hydroxycut. The cases appeared over a seven year period. With millions of bottles of Hydroxycut being sold every year, the number of injuries may seem very small, making many believe that FDA's statement and subsequent recall is something of an overreaction.

The Rationale for the Hydroxycut Action

Hydroxycut seems to cause what is known as idiosyncratic liver toxicity, a condition which is inherently very rare. The toxic reaction occurs in less than 10 people per 100,000, and often in less than 1 per 100,000. Although toxic reactions are rare, idiosyncratic liver toxicity is the most common form of drug-induced liver toxicity because it is unpredictable, generally undetected in clinical trials, and often occurs with only recommended doses of a drug.

In addition, the FDA did not know what ingredient of Hydroxycut was responsible for the liver toxicity. It did not know whether liver toxicity was the result of a biologic extract or a heavy metal. It did not even know whether the toxicity may have been the result of contaminated or badly blended pills. Reports of liver damage have been associated with Hydroxycut since its introduction, but it was believed at first that the ingredient ephedra, associated with seizure, cardiovascular damage, and other adverse health effects, was responsible for the damage. But Hydroxycut has been ephedra-free since the ingredient was banned in 2004, and reports of liver damage have continued.

Because of all the unknowns, the FDA could not issue a specific caution that would identify users with an elevated risk from Hydroxycut and thereby reduce future cases of liver toxicity. The only way the FDA could protect users was to ask them to stop using Hydroxycut, a request that will likely stay in effect until a causative agent can be identified.

So, How Dangerous Is Hydroxycut?

We're back to the place we started then, with the question of how dangerous is this diet aid? The answer is: no-one knows. The FDA's action is designed to stop more people from suffering adverse, potentially deadly reactions to Hydroxycut while the agency and the manufacturer of the supplement determine what is the cause. Once the ingredient responsible has been identified, we can expect Hydroxycut to return to the market either reformulated or with specific warnings that may help users make informed decisions about whether a diet supplement with no proven effectiveness is worth the potential risk.

If you would like to learn more about Hydroxycut or other dangerous drugs, visit the website of pharmaceutical injury law firm Schlichter, Bogard & Denton today.

Source: Schlichter, Bogard & Denton

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

'Hidden Health Tax' for Family Health Care Coverage Climbed to $1,017 in 2008

TT Note: Just another glimpse into the small print of taxes we pay everyday. It's just not called a tax.

/PRNewswire / -- The so-called "hidden health tax" for family health care coverage grew to $1,017 in 2008 according to a report released today by the consumer health organization Families USA.

The hidden health tax is the undisclosed insurance premium surcharge, paid by America's businesses and insured families, when they purchase health insurance. That surcharge subsidizes the uncompensated health care costs of the uninsured.

"As more people join the ranks of the uninsured, the hidden health tax is growing," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "That tax hits America's businesses and insured families hard in the pocketbook, and they therefore have a clear financial stake in expanding health care coverage as part of health reform."

"Reforming our health care system is not just a moral imperative -- it's an economic necessity," said Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "Today 46 million uninsured Americans turn to emergency rooms when they need medical care and the cost of that care is paid for by every American with insurance. As this report shows, that hidden tax will only continue to grow unless we do something about it. That's why I'm committed to passing comprehensive health care reform this year. We must repeal this hidden tax and lift the burden from American families and businesses by ensuring quality, affordable health care for all Americans."

Families USA contracted with Milliman, Inc., a well-respected, independent actuarial consulting firm, to array and analyze the data for the report.

According to the Families USA report, "uninsured people are less likely to get the care they need when they need it, and they are more likely to delay seeking care as long as possible." When they do receive care, it is paid for in several ways:

-- More than one-third (37 percent) of that care is paid by the uninsured
themselves out of their own pockets;
-- Third-party sources, such as government programs and charities, paid
for another 26 percent of that care; and
-- The remaining amount, approximately $42.7 billion in 2008, is
considered uncompensated care; those costs are shifted onto the health
care bills of insured people, ultimately resulting in the hidden
health tax through higher premiums.


Based on the Milliman, Inc. data, the uncompensated care cost in 2008 across the insured, non-Medicare, non-Medicaid population was $1,017 per insured family and $368 per insured single person.

Based on a previous Families USA report about the hidden health tax in 2005 -- using the same federal data sources used by Milliman, Inc. but arrayed by Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University -- the hidden health tax has grown: for family health coverage it grew from $922 to $1,017 and for individual coverage it grew from $341 to $368.

"Due to the economic downturn, more and more people are losing their jobs and their health care coverage," said Pollack. "As a result, it is highly likely that the hidden health tax for 2009, which is not yet known, will be considerably higher than the $1,017 amount experienced in 2008."

"This new Families USA report shows why all Americans will benefit from health care reform and should push stakeholders to make health insurance work for everyone as soon as possible," said Ronald A. Williams, Chairman and CEO of Aetna Inc. "Covering the uninsured will lighten the burden of the hidden tax on those who have coverage today," he continued. "While doing so, we also must focus on other reforms to improve value and quality in health care."

"This research shows that the market in which we buy our healthcare is filled with cross-subsidies, making it dysfunctional and unsustainable," said Dan Danner, president and CEO, National Federation of Independent Business. "Until individuals understand how much they are really paying for their healthcare, costs cannot be brought under control. Until costs are addressed, we will continue to struggle with coverage."

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Obama's Court Nomination Validates America's Rush to Buy Firearms

TT Note: Interesting story on the newest nominee for the Supreme Court.

/PRNewswire/ -- President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court validates the concerns of millions of American citizens who have been rushing to gun shops for the past seven months, fearing their Second Amendment rights are in jeopardy, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

Judge Sotomayor was part of a Second Circuit Court panel that ruled in January that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states, in Maloney v. Cuomo. That is in direct conflict with a Ninth Circuit opinion earlier this spring in Nordyke v. King that the Second Amendment is incorporated to the states, and therefore does place limits on states' ability to regulate the individual right to keep and bear arms.

"Starting literally last Nov. 4 and every day since," noted CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, "concerned Americans, many who had never before owned a firearm, have been crowding into gun shops. Their concerns that the Obama administration may somehow try to destroy Second Amendment rights have certainly been affirmed with the nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

"Sure, Congress has turned a cold shoulder to renewal of the ban on semiautomatic sporting rifles," he continued, "and the president did sign the guns-in-parks bill, but only because he had to in order to save his credit card legislation.

"But a Supreme Court justice is a president's legacy," Gottlieb observed. "Judge Sotomayor would become a justice for life, and her anti-Second Amendment position would continue affecting her decisions long after Obama is gone from the White House.

"A Supreme Court nominee's philosophy generally reflects the philosophy of the president that nominates them," Gottlieb concluded. "Judge Sotomayor's position on the Second Amendment is a clear signal that Mr. Obama's claim that he supports gun rights is nothing but lip service from a man who consistently argued and voted against those rights in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate. American gun owners have every reason to oppose this nomination, and let their senators know why."

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

H1 N.......what?!!? America's Mexican "Influenza"? asks Researcher Lawrence Broxmeyer, MD

TT Note: Hold on to your flu-like symptoms, folks. This doctor looks at the flu epidemic of 1918 and some researchers' findings. When compared to today's trendy virus, there appears to be some room for debate on the current flu-like symptoms. Is it really the flu?

/24-7 / -- All that is H1N1 does not glitter, at least with respect to the tireless efforts of Virologists, Epidemiologists and Health Officials to stake claim that the current "flu-like illness" pandemic is tied to "Influenza".

"The "H" and "N" of influenza sub-typing" Lawrence Broxmeyer, MD mentions, "revolves around two glycoproteins called Hemagglutin and Neuraminidase, both of which can be, and are, associated with infectious diseases such as the minuscule, viral forms of tuberculosis, a disease which ought to be high on the differential diagnosis for 'flu-like illness' . Since August, 2008, a Medline study in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry showed that sputum neuraminidase levels over 1.0 mU per mL were proven associated with having tuberculosis in 92% of cases, previous to which bacteria closely related to TB where shown, through crystallization, to produce the same protein neuraminidase used to subtype 'Influenza'."

Furthermore, reminded Lawrence Broxmeyer MD, "Khomenko's 1993 study, showed that the explosive contagiousness of just such influenza-like forms of tuberculosis are exactly the stuff that previous epidemics and pandemics could have been made of." Khomenko was cited by Nobel nominee Lida Mattman in her textbook prior to her untimely death last year.

"That is exactly why", reiterated Lawrence Broxmeyer, MD "that in response to the present world "flu" pandemic, Japan's Health Ministry's Tuberculosis Infection Diseases Control Division deputy director Takeshi Enami went hand in hand with Yoshio Nanba, director of The Office of Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response, to attend a news conference in Tokyo on May 1, 2009."

But back in the US, the CDC and NIH seem to feel differently, ignoring everything but "the virus". There was much the same "Influenza" talk when in 1990, a new multi-drug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis outbreak took place in a large Miami municipal hospital. Soon thereafter, similar outbreaks in three New York City hospitals left many sufferers dying within weeks. By 1992, approximately two years later, drug-resistant tuberculosis had spread to seventeen US states, with mini-epidemics in Florida, Michigan, New York, California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania and was reported, not by the American, but the international media, as out of control. Viral forms of swine, avian and human TB can be transmitted from one species to another. By 1993 the World Health Organization (WHO), proclaimed tuberculosis a global health emergency.

"No one can deny the similarities between the onset of the 1918 epidemic and that of today," mentioned Lawrence Broxmeyer MD, "Yet a Press Release, issued on August 19, 2008, by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), contains a striking finding and conclusion: The 20 to 40 million deaths worldwide from the great 1918 Influenza ("Flu") Pandemic were NOT due to "flu" or a virus, but to pneumonia caused by massive bacterial infection."

Subsequently, a study published in JAMA by Talbot and Moore in 2000 showed that Mexican immigrants to the US have the highest case rates for tuberculosis among foreign born persons.

The research of Lawrence Broxmeyer MD first proclaimed that the 1918 pandemic was due to bacteria, particularly mutant forms of flu-like fowl, swine, bovine, and human tuberculosis (TB) bacteria. These forms of tuberculosis are often viral-like, mutate frequently and can "skip" from one species to another. Moreover the antibodies from such viral TB forms react in the compliment fixation and later "viral" assays. They also grow on cultures which are supposed to grow only viruses.

In a supportive 16-page-paper which appeared in Population and Development Review, University of California demographers Andrew Noymer and Michel Garenne came up with convincing statistics showing that undetected tuberculosis may have been the real killer in the 1918 flu epidemic.

Noymer's hypothesis stands sound against history. Few flu "experts" are aware that in medical texts printed circa 1918 "Influenza" was attributed not to a virus but a bacteria called Mycobacterium influenzae, discovered by Pfeiffer and Canon in 1892......not exactly a coincidence since Richard Pfeiffer worked, at one time, for Robert Koch, the discoverer of tuberculosis, a disease also caused by another bacillus called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Both mycobacteria stained best with carbol-fuchsin, a bacterial stain commonly used in the staining of mycobacteria as it has an affinity for the mycolic acids found in their cell walls. Mycobacteria such as tuberculosis are particularly deadly because they share properties of the fungi ("myco-") as well as bacteria. TB was, not all that long ago, referred to as "captain of the men of death".

Mycobacterium influenzae was considered by most to be the cause of influenza until 1933. But there were serious diagnostic problems with Mycobacterium influenza. Stengel and Fox warned about them in their widely quoted W.B. Saunder's 1915 version of "A Textbook of Pathology". Problems with identification revolved mainly in that although the bacterial influenza occurred abundantly in the sputum of flu patients at first, it decreased in quantity as the cases advanced. And when purulent expectoration stopped Mycobacterium influenzae "disappears entirely".

In 1933 English physicians Wilson Smith, Christopher H. Andrewes, and Patrick P. Laidlaw removed secretions from the throat of a humans with flu-like symptoms thought to have "influenza" , and then filtered out a suspected infectious agent, which by virtue of the fact that it went through a filter was falsely proclaimed to be "a virus". Injecting it into ferrets, the ferrets then developed the same flu-like symptoms which Smith, Andrews and Laidlaw summarily declared as "influenza".

But to government pathologist and pioneer physician/researcher Sir John Crofton (1912-69 ), who by virtue of his office had examined some of Laidlaw's human "Flu" samples, Laidlaw's entire study was flawed. Crofton found Laidlaw's Flu samples to be laced with Mycobacteria influenza, which by then had been renamed Hemophyllis Influenza. Crofton personally confronted and challenged Laidlaw to come to his laboratory for the proof that his Influenza samples weren't viral. However historical and political momentum carried Laidlaw's study through and a great opportunity was missed to correct the record.

In a landmark study, Dr. Robert Donaldson, working out of the Pathological Society of Great Britain had ruled out that the mycobacteria now referred to as H. Influenza by itself was behind 1918, perhaps because of its disappearing nature. Yet at the same time he quickly added that there wasn't "the slightest shred of evidence" that the disease was due to a "virus" or influenza. Nor was Donaldson ever able to refute Broxmeyer and Noymer's feelings that TB was behind the many deaths in the pandemic, specifically because it is well known that secondary bacterial infections, be they from opportunistic Haemophillus influenza or any other common bacteria, are a common secondary manifestation in TB-infected lungs. During the pandemic, one-third of patients who had Haemophillus influenza where also found to have tuberculosis - keeping in mind, as always, that many other cases with TB went undiagnosed.

"In order to understand why we have this emphasis by those virologists invested in a 'killer flu' in the US today", said Lawrence Broxmeyer MD, "one must look back historically at the science itself."

In truth, until the late 1940s influenza 'viruses' were studied as infections, which, although filterable, were conceived of as analogous to bacteria, a kind of ultra or viral-like bacteria.

Not to be deterred, and still seeing Influenza as a great opportunity for virology, in 1941 virologist Hirst claimed that influenza ''virus'' could agglutinate (or clot) red blood cells of fowl and other animal species. The "H" in H1N1 comes to us through Hirst, who showed that ''virus'' particles first adsorbed to the red cells and, after a certain time, eluted again as a result of what could be interpreted as an enzymatic reaction. But 6 years later, Middlebrook and Dubos made this seem nothing more than a cheap hat trick by showing that similarly red blood cell agglutination could be produced by sera from patients with tuberculosis. Takahashi and Ono reviewed similar red cell agglutination occurring in the presence of tuberculous serums.

"As Influenza historian van Helvoort aptly pointed out", summed-up Lawrence Broxmeyer MD, "indeed, in the 1930s and 1940s the concept of 'filterable viruses', including Influenza, were subject to such criticism that Virology's very foundations were threatened. Dogmatized statements like those coming from pioneer virologist Andre Lwoff in 1957 : ''Viruses should be considered as viruses because viruses are viruses'' were totally unacceptable, and did little to help the situation.

So it was in 1952 that Cornelius P. Rhoads, Director of Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City, remarked in a conference introduction that the term ''viruses'', such as that of Influenza, had achieved ''a high professional status with doubtful credentials''.

What we have today, mentioned Broxmeyer, is a pandemic with "flu-like" symptoms. And flu-like symptoms dosen't necessarily mean Influenza is the underlying cause.

Reference: Pubmed. Lawrence Broxmeyer MD, Bird flu, influenza and 1918: The case for mutant Avian tuberculosis. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(5):1006-15. Epub 2006 Jun 27. http://drbroxmeyer.netfirms.com/PDF%20001%20Bird%20Flu%20Editorial.pdf

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Federal Stem Cell Rules Would Hinder Existing Research, Consumer Group Warns

TT Note: Another fine example of the changes made in policy over the last 3 months or so. Help one group. Destroy another. This seems to be the rule of the land these days.

Stem cell research does have some great potential. Why not let the earlier approved lines continue their research?

/PRNewswire / -- -- Regulations governing stem cell research proposed by the Obama Administration -- unless modified before final implementation on July 1 -- prohibit federal funding of important research that had received funding under the Bush Administration, Consumer Watchdog said today. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group called on the National Institutes of Health to change the draft regulations.

On March 9, President Obama signed an executive order intended to lift restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. As part of the order, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were directed to develop regulations "to help ensure that NIH-funded research in this area is ethically responsible, scientifically worthy, and conducted in accordance with applicable law."

"Most of us were heartened when President Obama lifted Bush Administration restrictions on funding stem cell research, but the perverse effect of these proposed NIH rules is that the limited research scientists were able to conduct under Bush will now be ineligible for federal funding," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Stem Cell Project Director. "Certainly this is not what President Obama intended and the regulations must be modified."

Bush allowed the NIH to fund research on embryonic stem cell lines that were derived before 9 pm, Aug. 9, 2001. In practice there were about 20 lines that were available to scientists that qualified for federal money. Embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to develop into virtually any cell in the body, are derived from embryos left over from in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and would otherwise be destroyed.

The Bush approved stem cell lines were derived before the proposed NIH rules and do not meet some of their specific technical standards. In addition some stem cell lines derived with state or private funding or in other countries since 2001 don't meet some of the technical specifications of the proposed NIH rules.

For instance, under the new NIH guidelines donors would have to be told that the embryos would be used for stem cell research. When some of the earlier lines were derived, donors were told more generically that the embryos would be used for research. The new regulations call for an explicit statement that the results of using the human embryonic stem cells may have commercial potential and that the donor would not receive any financial benefit from such commercial development. They also would have to be told that the stem cell lines derived from the donated embryos might be maintained for many years.

"The NIH guidelines set the highest standards and make sense going forward," said Simpson. "However the earlier lines were derived under Institutional Review Board (IRB) supervision, following ethical guidelines then in place, suggested by such organizations as the National Academies of Science, or covered by state regulations like those of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. It would be wrong to preclude them from federal funding going forward. You can't hold someone to standards that didn't exist when these lines were derived in good faith according to then existing standards."

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Congressional Credit Card Reform a 'Charade,' Consumer Advocate Says

/PRNewswire / -- The credit card legislation passed yesterday by the United States Senate won't protect consumers against outrageous interest rates or other egregious practices and represents an astounding victory for the banking and credit card industry, a consumer advocate said today.

Harvey Rosenfield, head of the California-based Consumer Education Foundation, noted that under the Senate bill:

-- There is no cap on credit card interest rates. In recent months,
companies have raised interest rates for some consumers -- even those
with good credit -- to over 30%.
-- Companies can raise interest rates on future purchases at any time.
The bill only prevents companies from increasing interest rates on
previous purchases.
-- Credit card companies can unilaterally changes the terms of the credit
card contract.
-- Companies can still use fine print "arbitration" clauses to prevent
consumers from suing them in court.


"This is not 'reform,' it's a charade," said Rosenfield. "After what American consumers have gone through, they deserve real relief. After all, the banking industry would not exist today were it not for a trillion dollar taxpayer bailout that allows banks to borrow our money from the US Treasury at a fraction of a percentage point and then turn around and loan it to us at twenty to fifty times that rate."

"The credit card industry's attempt to portray this as a defeat is just posturing designed to protect its political allies in Washington. As usual, no one in that city seems to be looking out for the interests of the people of our country."

The Consumer Education Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. In March, it co-published a two hundred page report on the causes of the financial debacle: "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America." The report can be downloaded at WallStreetWatch.org.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

And Still the Smoke Is Thick..

TT Note: Guess the smoke will stay pretty thick over this burning issue. To me, it makes sense that a cigarette with no carcinogens and no secondhand smoke could be a very big boost for the family of someone who is a heavy smoker and who has been unable to quit. But what do I know. I'm only the asthmatic child of a heavy smoker who didn't know he was destroying my health with his habit. Did he quit? You bet. One week before his death.

Are E-Cigarettes Becoming a Victim of Friendly Fire or Vicious Assault From Special Interest Groups?

/PRNewswire/ -- While e-cigarettes have no known carcinogens and offer the benefit of no secondhand or sidestream smoke, some say that the products have been falling victim to friendly fire in the media. While the e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers believe they are on the same side of health organizations who want people to stop using tobacco, some anti-smoking campaigns are hostile to the idea.

Cheryl Healton, President and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, is concerned that the product could be used to slow down the quitting process.

The American Legacy Foundation states on its website:

"We have seen no studies regarding whether e-cigarettes actually help smokers quit or, instead, delay cessation attempts by providing smokers with a way to continue their smoking behaviors when they cannot smoke a tobacco product."

With four prominent politicians on the board of directors, ranging from state attorney generals to senators and one who was named to World Pharmaceutical Frontiers' first "Pharma 40" list, it could easily be understood how this could be more of a political agenda than in the best interests of smokers and the public of the United States.

Even amid all of this, e-cigarettes are still rolling out to the public. Demand seems to be growing by the day, no matter what type of negative campaign comes along, suggesting that the public seems to be making up their own minds on the matter. After a recent spot on The Today Show concerning e-cigarettes, sales skyrocketed.

"Our sales shot up 100%," says Kyle Newton of EcigarettesChoice.com. "We're working harder every day to keep up with growing demand... people are elated that we're able to offer these products. I lost my mom to tobacco-related lung cancer, so this is an extremely personal issue for me... I wish they had been available for her."

And Kyle isn't alone in this personal quest. A quick search on blogs and forums for e-cigarette related information reveals a plethora of comments that support the product and an overwhelming displeasure of the FDA and special interest health groups' treatment of these products.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Proposed E-Cigarette Ban Pushed In The Name Of America's Health Actually A Backdoor Boost To Pharmaceutical Companies

TT Note: I've been watching this debate with interest. If our government is so very concerned with the safety of these electronic cigarettes, then shouldn't our government also be so very concerned with the safety of traditional cigarettes? Seems just a tad bit confusing, doesn't it?

/24-7 / -- Our leading health groups are marching a parade against newly marketed e-cigarettes. This parade is lead by the backdoor politician, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). This seemingly health conscious senator, who has taken well over $100,000 from the pharmaceutical companies that market smoking cessation products, is trying to ban a product that offers none of the carcinogens of traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes vaporize a water-based solution that gives the user the sensation of smoking while emitting only a light water vapor. This eliminates the public concern of secondhand smoke as well as cutting out all the carcinogens associated with tobacco and the chemicals used in tobacco cigarette production.

Senator Lautenberg claims the FDA should run extensive testing on these products to "verify" their safety, but many are concerned that stance is contrary to the American principle of "innocent until proven guilty". Many doctors believe that halting this far less harmful smoking alternative would, ironically, save the pharmaceutical companies that market smoking cessation products billions of dollars a year.

A few people have spoken up for e-cigarettes, most notably Chair of the Tobacco Control Group for the American Association of Public Health Physicians, Dr. Joel L. Nitzkin, who has stated his vigorous opposition of Senator Lautenberg's proposals. He and many other reasonable individuals are convinced that it is harmful to public health to ban a product that is by default far less dangerous than its traditional counterpart and put what amounts to a government seal of approval on the more dangerous product. Not only that, but many complain that Senator Lautenberg is not a medical professional.

Who should our lawmakers and the FDA be listening to? Should we listen to a non-medically licensed politician whose motives align themselves with the big pharmaceutical companies he protects or should we listen to the health professionals that are all but screaming for us to actually pay attention to our country's real health issues?

When a government is in the pockets of private companies, we run dangerously close to abandoning our democratic process and a government that will sacrifice the health of its citizens is a government by the money, for the money. Let's tell our politicians that the people are the government and politicians can only ignore their constituents for so long before their game runs out.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Toxic Food, Herbs, Botanicals... yuck

Sure hope I haven't bought any of the stuff from this company! I'm a big tea drinker, love my Irish blend (like mainlining caffeine ;-) and herbal teas (to calm me down from the caffeine...). Do any of you remember reading the stories when Consumer Digest (I think) analyzed what was in our cereal and other products? I didn't eat anything out of a box for years. I don't like reading about things like this...

FDA: More than $1.5 Million of Adulterated Food, Food Ingredients Seized
Filthy conditions, failure to correct violations prompted action

At the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Marshals today seized more than $1.5 million worth of food products, including herbs and botanicals, stored under filthy conditions at the American Mercantile Corporation of Memphis, Tenn.

During an inspection of American Mercantile in March, FDA investigators discovered evidence of extensive rodent and insect infestation throughout the company’s warehouse. The company failed to correct these problems. Acting on a warrant issued by the United Stated District Court in Memphis, U.S. Marshals seized all FDA-regulated food products exposed to rodent and insect contamination at the facility. The seized products violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they were held under insanitary conditions under which they may have become contaminated with filth.

“FDA will not tolerate a company’s failure to adequately control and prevent filth in its facility,” said Michael Chappell, the FDA’s acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The FDA is prepared to use whatever legal means are necessary and appropriate to keep potentially contaminated products out of the marketplace.”

American Mercantile stores and processes food ingredients, which are then sold to and used in the dietary supplement and herbal tea industries. The seized articles include food products, such as sarsaparilla, spearmint leaves, cornstarch, sweet orange peels powder, licorice powder, sassafras, and salt.

The FDA has no reports of illness associated with consumption of the products.

Obama: Muslim Father, Mormon Mother, Is He a Musmon?

TT Note: Sometimes, stories just pop out and demand attention. For me, this is one of them. The LDS has long been allowing posthumous baptisms. My understanding is their members believe it is their duty to try and save everyone. I really do wonder what the Obama family thinks of this development of his mother now being a Mormon. How does that mesh with his Islamic upbringing? How does that mesh with his current belief, whatever that may be?

LDS Church Investigates Baptism Performed for Obama's Late Mother

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at http://www.eogn.com.

Several newsletter readers have written to point out a story in today's newspapers: President Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who died in 1995, was baptized posthumously into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints last year during her son's campaign, according to Salt Lake City-based researcher Helen Radkey. The ritual, known as “baptism for the dead,” was done June 4 in the Provo temple, and another LDS temple rite, known as the “endowment,” was performed in the same temple on June 11, said Radkey, who found the record while doing genealogy research in the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints immediately reiterated its policy regarding proxy baptisms. "The offering of baptism to our deceased ancestors is a sacred practice to us, and it is counter to church policy for a church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related," said LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter.

"The church is looking into the circumstances of how this happened and does not yet have all the facts," he added. "However, this is a serious matter, and we are treating it as such."

The White House declined to comment Tuesday.

Many newspapers are carrying the story today. You can find some of the articles at http://news.google.com/news?pz=1&ned=us&hl=en&q=Mormon+Church+Obama%27s+mother.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Government Not the Only Ones Wanting Your Info

TT Note: This article highlights some of the potential headaches Americans could face with Obama's electronic information gathering. How many times do we hear on the news that another doctor's office has just thrown out sensitive information? Just wait until the hackers find their way in to your doctor's office. Can someone get me some aspirin, please?

Obama's Support for Digital Health Records May Increase Identity Theft

/PRNewswire/ -- President Obama has proposed sweeping reform of the nation's healthcare system and said he believes all medical records should be computerized and standardized within five years. The President hopes this will result in increased quality of care, decreased costs, and creation of thousands of new jobs. Todd Feinman, a published security expert and CEO of Identity Finder (http://www.identityfinder.com/), cautions, however, that electronic medical records add higher risk of identity theft unless they are carefully protected. "The HIPAA Privacy rules have only been around for a couple of years; many healthcare providers are still unprepared to protect patients' personally identifiable information (PII), which if stolen could lead to identity fraud." Feinman discusses below the special HIPAA compliance initiative his firm has enacted to ensure electronic patient health information (ePHI) is protected.

In 2006, the Health and Human Services issued final ruling regarding HIPAA enforcement and set civil money penalties for violating HIPAA rules. These regulatory requirements call for organizations to proactively protect patient health information, but still too often PHI ends up unprotected in a spreadsheet on a nurse's computer. "If healthcare providers have a security breach, not only would that be a violation of patients' privacy, but also the associated costs would be dramatically higher than implementing some simple, preventive measures," says Feinman. The upcoming changes by the Obama Administration could make organizations' exposure of PHI even worse.

Feinman's company, Identity Finder, has developed software that searches for and secures PHI, the type of sensitive information specifically referred to by HIPAA privacy legislation. Many healthcare providers and healthcare payers are now cleaning PHI from computers using Identity Finder. Wayne Martin, Information Security Officer at University of Virginia's Health System, had the following to say, "Identity Finder helps us locate patient health information so that we can protect it at the source and educate users on the proper handling of information in accordance with University, State, and Federal policies."

Identity Finder has taken a groundbreaking approach by giving organizations insight into the root cause of the problem. Most organizations don't even know where their PHI is. "Not only do we help organizations find and protect PHI, but we also give them the ability to monitor how much exposure the organization has to unsecured PHI so they can prevent data leakage issues." Feinman's engineers have spent years developing proprietary search algorithms to find confidential personal information quickly and accurately.

The software automatically finds PHI such as social security numbers, medical record numbers, dates of birth, driver licenses, personal addresses, and other private data within files, e-mails, databases, websites, and system areas. Once found, the software makes it simple for users or administrators to permanently shred, scrub, or secure the information. Their recently released management console aggregates the data and provides a report card for organizations to see how their policies are performing.

Identity Finder can be run centrally by administrators or stand-alone on a PC or Mac by data owners. For this reason, Identity Finder is an ideal fit for both smaller and larger healthcare providers and payers, as well as other organizations who want to minimize their risks and prevent confidential data loss.

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