Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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April 02, 2007

Hormones, Vaccines and the Terror of War - NewsGrabs 2 April 2007

Health Supreme News Grabs - a selection of alternative health news and related bits of information. Your window on emerging trends ...

In this issue:

Vitamin meta-analysis Methodology poor - Truth in Labeling - Ribena false vitamin claims - EFSA 'surprised' - ANH responds to EFSA accusation - EU Challenge to Spanish herbal ban - Organic is healthier - Beef hormones 'damage sperm' - Dairy co-op to stop use of hormone - EU Patents for conventional crops - FDA Push for Cloned-Animal Foods - ADHD drugs - Parkinson's drug damages heart valves - 'Chemical cosh' - Take this pill and shove it! - Vaccination campaign funded by drug firm - Iron nanoparticles toxic - Terrorized by 'War on Terror' - US attack against Iran?

- - -

Poor methodology in meta-analysis of vitamins (PDF)
Scientific papers often reveal more than is apparent from the reported results. A recent review of clinical trials by Bjelakovic et al. claimed to show that certain antioxidant vitamins increased the risk of death. Superficially, this study appears to have a degree of scientific rigour because of a detailed and extensive use of statistics. However, the statistics were inappropriately applied to poorly selected data, thus the conclusions are invalid. Researchers need to remember the fundamentals of the scientific method to avoid introducing experimenter bias. In this case, experimenter bias was compounded by a basic misuse of statistical testing.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), along with the Naturally Occurring Standards Group, is launching a new "truth in labeling" campaign that will enable consumers to distinguish between those vitamins and supplements that are truly natural or organic, and those that simply claim to be.

Schoolgirls rumble Ribena vitamin claims
Two New Zealand schoolgirls humbled one of the world's biggest food and drugs companies after their school science experiment found that their ready-to-drink Ribena contained almost no trace of vitamin C. GSK is in court in Auckland today facing 15 charges relating to misleading advertising, risking fines of up to NZ$3m (£1.1m). In Australia, GSK has admitted that its claims about Ribena may have misled consumers. The Australian competition and consumer commission said last week that claims on the nutrition information panel of Ribena's ready-to-drink cartons implied that the product had four times the vitamin C of orange juice drinks, when this was not correct.

EFSA surprised at legal threat over dossier assessment
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said that it will not bow to industry pressure over scientific assessment of vitamins and minerals submitted for the positive list of the 2002 food supplements directive.

ANH responds to EFSA accusation of legal threat
Since the ANH put the spotlight on the European Food Safety Authority and the European Commission over applications to the Food Supplements Directive positive list, it appears that certain cages have been rattled. The ANH now responds...

EC plans legal challenge over Spanish herbal ban
Under Spanish law, products containing herbal ingredients are classified as medicines unless they are included on a list of permitted plants drawn up in 1973. The list was last updated over 30 years ago, since which a number of extracts have become available in other member states - such as guaraná, ginseng, spirulina and passiflora - but are systematically removed from the Spanish market in Spain. If the EC is successful in its bid before the ECJ, it could open up considerable new opportunities for the sale of herbal supplements in Spain.

Organic IS healthier, say food scientists
Scientists found that some organic food is more healthy after tests on kiwi fruit grown by both methods. The American researchers discovered that organically grown kiwis had significantly higher levels of vitamin C and polyphenols - compounds associated with health benefits including reducing cholesterol, improving circulation and preventing cancer. With the biotech industry pushing to introduce clones to the country's food supply, the FDA is finalizing a favorable "risk assessment" for products derived from animal-cloning technology.

Beef diet 'damages sons' sperm'
Scientists have produced evidence to suggest that Europe was right to ban the beef industry from using growth promoters to increase yield. The University of Rochester found men whose mothers ate a lot of beef during pregnancy had lower sperm counts. The Human Reproduction study found they were three times more likely to have a sperm count so low they could be classified as sub-fertile.

This study is all about sperm counts - but perhaps there is an even larger skeleton in that hormone-closet. Why are there so many obese people? Are those growth hormones not only making the cows grow but their human predators as well?

Dairy co-op bows to pressure to stop use of hormone
In January, California Dairies' board voted to ask its members not to inject synthetic bovine growth hormone into their cows. If they do, their milk will have to be segregated and they'll pay a surcharge. "Consumer demand is obvious,'' Cotta said. The action by a co-op that ships 50 million pounds of milk every day is part of a sweeping, consumer-driven agricultural makeover, in which suppliers are forced to adapt to a changing marketplace. Demand for natural foods is rising, while increasing numbers of consumers are avoiding products that rely on antibiotics or growth hormones. And food retailers are listening.

Recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rbST, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration 14 years ago. Injected every two weeks into cows, it sustains lactation by stimulating cows' appetites so they eat more and produce more milk, perhaps an extra 5 quarts per day.

The European Patent Office’s decision to grants patents to conventional crops is worrying farmers’ groups
The European Patent Office (EPO) has opened a Pandora’s box by deciding to grant patent rights to seeds developed through conventional breeding processes. The immediate reaction to the EPO’s plan to grant general patent rights to conventional crops has been the collective protest by farmers from India, Europe and Latin America, who have gathered in Munich, where the EPO is based.

FDA 'Cherry Picked' Evidence to Push Cloned-Animal Foods
A report released yesterday by the Center for Food Safety, a research and advocacy organization that supports a federal ban on cloning livestock, says the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has selectively applied the research tying cloning to genetic abnormalities.

Taking the drugs out of ADHD
The groundbreaking classification table, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III), meant doctors could diagnose with greater confidence and prescribe medication that would produce instant results. Now, more than 25 years since his global revelation, Dr Spitzer's own attitude towards doctors using his chart has taken a dramatic turn. He says 30 per cent of children diagnosed with a mental disorder don't actually have it and are instead showing perfectly normal signs of being happy or sad...

Parkinson's drug pulled from market after reports of heart valve damage
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that pergolide, sold under the name Permax and also in generic versions, is being withdrawn at the agency's request. At least 14 patients have needed to have heart valves replaced, Temple said, adding he believes that is an underestimate. He estimated that between 12,000 and 25,000 people currently used the drug, which is known as a dopamine agonist.

'Chemical cosh' early death risk
Patients with dementia are dying early because they are being prescribed sedative drugs inappropriately in nursing homes, warn researchers. A five-year investigation revealed the antipsychotic drugs were being used as a 'chemical cosh' to control patients, contrary to expert advice. Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "It is a disturbing revelation that confirms some of our worst fears about neuroleptics, which have been the subject of numerous health warnings. It is a national scandal that people are being sedated in this way."

Take this pill and shove it!
While Pfizer was the first drug giant to ax a major portion of its sales force, it's probably not the last. Some industry insiders predict that it's only a matter of time before similar cutbacks extend across the industry.

Doctors seem to be getting fed up with the reps, said Andrew Brana from the sales research firm TNS. Fifty-one percent of doctors responding to a survey complained about "over-aggressive sales practices," said Brana...

Health Care Costs -- An International Comparison
My thanks to Dean Baker at the Center for Economic Policy and Research for digging up these statistics. These are the cumulative increases in health care costs in the first half of this decade among OECD nations. I've sorted them in ascending order (fastest rising costs last). Guess who's in last place...

Vaccination campaign funded by drug firm
A campaign fronted by doctors and celebrities to persuade European governments, including the UK, to vaccinate all young girls against cervical cancer is being entirely funded by the drug company that markets the vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur MSD, which markets Gardasil in Europe on behalf of the drug giant Merck, spent millions on what was billed as the "first global summit against cervical cancer", held in Paris on Thursday with doctors and patient organisations from across Europe.

Widely used iron nanoparticles exhibit toxic effects on neuronal cells
Researchers at UC San Diego have discovered that iron-containing nanoparticles being tested for use in several biomedical applications can be toxic to nerve cells and interfere with the formation of their signal-transmitting extensions.

"Iron is an essential nutrient for mammals and most life forms and iron oxide nanoparticles were generally assumed to be safe," said Sungho Jin, a professor of materials science at UCSD and senior author of a paper to be published in Biomaterials. The paper is currently available on the journal's website. "However, there are recent reports that this type of nanoparticle can be toxic in some cell types, and our discovery of their nano-toxicity in yet another type of cell suggests that these particles may not be as safe as we had once thought."

Terrorized by 'War on Terror'
How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world.

Where is the U.S. leader ready to say, "Enough of this hysteria, stop this paranoia"? Even in the face of future terrorist attacks, the likelihood of which cannot be denied, let us show some sense. Let us be true to our traditions.

Operation Bite: April 6 sneak attack by US forces against Iran planned, Russian military sources warn
The long awaited US military attack on Iran is now on track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 am on April 6, the Good Friday opening of Easter weekend, writes the well-known Russian journalist Andrei Uglanov in the Moscow weekly “Argumenty Nedeli.”

Easter Surprise: Attack on Iran, New 9/11... or Worse
If you’re from the US, contact your Senators today and ask them to support the Webb amendment prohibiting the Administration from attacking Iran without congressional approval. Tell them to support the Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) bill making it harder for Bush to declare martial law and take over the National Guard, and while you’re at it, tell your Senators to only fund troop withdrawal and to bring the troops home. Thank those Congress members who voted against more war funding.

We could be looking at WWIII. The time for positive action is now.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Monday April 2 2007
updated on Thursday December 16 2010

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