Monday, June 21, 2010

New Tobacco Regulations and FDA Rules Take Effect June 22

/PRNewswire/ -- Starting tomorrow (June 22), new regulations and FDA rules authorized by the Family Smoking and Prevention Act will further limit the tobacco industry's ability to deceive consumers with misleading marketing and labeling that imply "light," "mild" or "low-tar" cigarettes are safer, as well as other practices that make products more appealing to youth. The Act, which was overwhelmingly approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama one year ago, grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products.

"It is not surprising that Marlboro Lights are the most popular brand in the nation. Decades of clever packaging, branding and other misinformation are intended to suggest that some tobacco products are not as harmful as others. The fact that they will no longer be available under that name is significant," said David Willoughby, CEO of ClearWay Minnesota(SM). "The anniversary of the law and new regulations offer a good reminder that tobacco use is still one of our most significant health concerns, costing Minnesota nearly $2 billion a year in health care costs. These changes are a step in the right direction."

On June 22, the following components of the Act will go into effect:
-- Prohibit terms such as "light," "low" and "mild" in all advertising,
labeling and marketing of existing cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
products. Evidence demonstrates that these terms can mislead consumers
into believing that certain products are safer.
-- Require larger, stronger warning labels on all smokeless tobacco
products and in advertisements. Though youth smoking is generally
decreasing, 15.6 percent of high school boys and 2.4 percent of high
school girls use smokeless tobacco, according to the Minnesota Youth
Tobacco and Asthma Survey.
-- FDA rules also will ban branded product tie-ins, such as t-shirts,
with cigarette and other tobacco purchases, and prohibit sales of
cigarettes in packages of fewer than 20 cigarettes. Some retailers
split packs, making cigarettes more affordable and accessible to
youth.



In response, tobacco companies have announced plans to use color-coded packaging to replace the terms "light," "low" and "mild." Lighter colors will signify light cigarettes. For example, Marlboro Lights are now Marlboro Golds.

"With its latest color scheme, the tobacco industry is continuing to use sophisticated marketing to hide the dangers of their products," Willoughby said. "But make no mistake: All cigarettes (whether light or gold) are harmful and a significant health risk. On June 22, choose to quit instead of choosing a color. QUITPLAN Services and other resources can help."

This year's new regulations build on changes that occurred under the Act in 2009, including:

-- Granting the FDA authority to issue tobacco product standards that
promote public health, such as removing or reducing harmful
ingredients.
-- Requiring companies to disclose tobacco product contents, as well as
changes in products and research about their health effects.
-- Banning all artificial or natural characterizing flavors other than
tobacco or menthol from all cigarettes and their component parts.



For more information on QUITPLAN Services, go to www.quitplan.com. For more information on the FDA, go to www.fda.gov.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scientist links African HIV, cancer to diet

A University of Georgia scientist has discovered a connection between HIV incidence in Sub-Saharan Africa countries and the amount of corn people consume there.

While studying the role diet plays in infectious diseases, Tim Williams, an agronomist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, discovered that in nations where corn is a major part of diets the number of HIV infections is higher.

His findings were published in the May issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. U.S. Agency of International Development funded the work.

Contaminated corn linked to cancer, too

Using data from the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, Williams also found a link between eating toxin-prone crops and the number of liver and esophageal cancer cases.

He found that HIV and esophageal cancer deaths were significantly related to corn, or maize, consumption. In contrast, liver cancer deaths decreased with less maize consumption, perhaps because HIV dominated the anticipated consequences of the toxins that promote liver cancers.

“Good quality corn is unlikely to be the reason for this HIV-maize connection,” said Williams, a third-generation African who now directs the Peanut Collaborative Research Support Program on the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga.

“Contamination of their corn is believed to make Africans more vulnerable to infection,” he said.

Two toxins attack corn

Corn is prone to two toxins, fumonisin and aflatoxin, which can attack crops in the field or during storage. In the U.S., corn, peanut and other susceptible crops are inspected and tested for such toxins.
But in developing countries where people rely on these crops as primary food sources, proper testing to protect people from consuming contaminated crops is often skipped until acute poisoning results in deaths.

“In developing countries like those in Africa, a farmer may have a few bags of grain, and to use a significant amount to test for toxins is a high cost to assure quality. And then, by the time it’s analyzed, the farmer has sold the grain, and it’s been eaten,” Williams said.

Aflatoxins can cause a deficiency in protein, vitamins and minerals and suppress immunity, he said. Fumonisins are a group of mycotoxins found most often in corn.

“The discovery that fumonisin may be promoting HIV came as a surprise, but there is some evidence that this toxin increases the porosity of membranes which would increase the risk of becoming infected,” Williams said.

Ten-year study

For the past 10 years, Williams has lead a multi-university research effort studying how food toxins associated with cancers can also cause susceptibility to infectious diseases.

“I first thought I’d find a solution to liver cancer in the developing countries,” he said. “Liver cancer kills a significant number of people in Africa, but the cancer aspect was soon replaced in priority by the other effects on health associated with nutrition and immunotoxicity.”

If the theory is right, improving corn quality in Sub-Saharan Africa could significantly reduce HIV transmissions in the region, he said.

Toxins can be removed

And doing it may be relatively easy. Fumonisin can be removed from foods in a number simple ways, he said. Addressing the aflatoxin issue is also technically simple, but requires people to think outside the present regulatory box.

Williams’ team hopes to manage the toxin by adding a very cheap binding agent to protect consumers from being poisoned by their food rather than depending on more expensive testing methods.

“By addressing aflatoxin differently, we should be able to reduce all infectious diseases, and improve general nutrition,” he said. “Existing interventions work with difficulty in Africa, and they are more of a burden to the people.”

Farm techniques are preventative measures

Controlling insects, adding fertilizer, harvesting correctly and irrigating corn are all prevention methods used at the farm level. Storing crops in a cool, dry area helps, too, he said.

Most of these steps are costly for small farmers and not easily applied in developing countries. More research is needed to form a proper intervention strategy.

“It’s taken us 10 years to get this far, and when you start doing large-scale human trials, you need of a lot of funding,” he said. “Since the effects are usually deferred, or manifest in other illnesses, little attention has been paid to contamination, until now.”

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

HearUSA Introduces AARP Hearing Care Program for Americans Aged 50+ in Georgia Today

PRNewswire-- Designed to help millions of Americans aged 50+ who have hearing loss, the AARP Hearing Care program, provided by HearUSA (AMEX:EAR) , is being launched in Georgia today as part of a nationwide rollout.

While one in 10 Americans have hearing loss, it is older men and women who are much more likely to suffer from this life altering condition. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly one in five adults 45-64 years old; one in three adults 65-74 years old; and half of all adults 75 years old or older have a hearing impairment.

The program being introduced today is provided by HearUSA, one of the nation's leading providers of hearing aids and hearing care.

Georgia residents are among the millions of 50+ Americans nationwide who will have access to the Hearing Care Program, which is exclusively for AARP members and available only through selected credentialed hearing healthcare providers.

"The program features more affordable state-of-the-art digital hearing aids that are also smaller, smarter and more comfortable than ever before," said Stephen Hansbrough, CEO and chairman of HearUSA.

Hansbrough added that the program offers uniform pricing and extended warranties on hearing aids and related products; thorough testing and evaluation; and all-important best practices hearing rehabilitation (acclimation guidance and support) that far exceed industry standards.

It is anticipated that, by 2011, the HearUSA nationwide network of approximately 3,500 credentialed hearing care providers will be available to AARP members in all 50 states and the US territories.

Following are the hard facts about hearing loss:

-- Loss of hearing is a serious life issue, a medical condition that is
associated with physical, emotional, mental and social well-being.

-- Among seniors, hearing loss is the most prevalent medical condition,
following arthritis and hypertension.

-- Ninety-five percent of all Americans with hearing loss can be treated
with hearing aids.

-- However, only one person in five who could benefit from hearing aids
uses them.


"This program has been designed to address the concerns and confusion that are preventing so many from receiving treatment for their hearing loss," said Dr. Cindy Beyer, audiologist and HearUSA senior vice president.

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Governor Signs Legislation to Improve Access to Home-based Care

Governor Sonny Perdue today (June 4) announced that he has signed House Bill 1040 which will improve access to home-based care.  HB 1040 amends the Nurse Practice Act to allow a designated unlicensed person who is trained by a Registered Nurse to provide a defined set of skilled services to a specific person, as long as those services are ordered by a physician, dentist or podiatrist for a person who is disabled.  The legislation was introduced by State Representative Jimmy Pruett, one of the Governor’s floor leaders.

“This legislation will allow thousands of Georgians to be cared for at home that currently cannot afford home-care by a licensed nurse,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.  “As a result of HB 1040 healthcare will be more affordable and more accessible.  It will allow more disabled Georgians to stay in their homes.”

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Spending Time in Nature Makes People Feel More Alive

/PRNewswire -- Feeling sluggish? The solution may require getting outside the box - that big brick-and-mortar box called a building.

Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive, finds a series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology. And that sense of increased vitality exists above and beyond the energizing effects of physical activity and social interaction that are often associated with our forays into the natural world, the studies show.

"Nature is fuel for the soul, " says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. "Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature," he says.

The findings, adds Ryan, are important for both mental and physical health. "Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don't just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings," says Ryan.

In recent years, numerous experimental psychology studies have linked exposure to nature with increased energy and heightened sense of well-being. For example, research has shown that people on wilderness excursions report feeling more alive and that just recalling outdoor experiences increases feelings of happiness and health. Other studies suggest that the very presence of nature helps to ward off feelings of exhaustion and that 90 percent of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities.

What is novel about this research, write the authors, is that it carefully tests whether this increased vitality associated with the outdoors is simply the feel-good spillover from physical activity and people-mixing often present in these situations. To tease out the effects of nature alone, the authors conducted five separate experiments, involving 537 college students in actual and imagined contexts. In one experiment, participants were led on a 15-minute walk through indoor hallways or along a tree-lined river path. In another, the undergraduates viewed photographic scenes of buildings or landscapes. A third experiment required students to imagine themselves in a variety of situations both active and sedentary, inside and out, and with and without others.

Two final experiments tracked participants' moods and energy levels throughout the day using diary entries. Over either four days or two weeks, students recorded their exercise, social interactions, time spent outside, and exposure to natural environments, including plants and windows.

Across all methodologies, individuals consistently felt more energetic when they spent time in natural settings or imagined themselves in such situations. The findings were particularly robust, notes Ryan; being outside in nature for just 20 minutes in a day was enough to significantly boost vitality levels. Interestingly, in the last study, the presence of nature had an independent energizing effect above that of being outdoors. In other words, conclude the authors, being outdoors was vitalizing in large part because of the presence of nature.

The paper builds on earlier research by Ryan, Netta Weinstein, a psychologist at the University of Hamburg, Germany, and others showing that people are more caring and generous when exposed to nature. "We have a natural connection with living things," says Ryan. "Nature is something within which we flourish, so having it be more a part of our lives is critical, especially when we live and work in built environments." These studies, concludes Ryan, underscore the importance of having access to parks and natural surroundings and of incorporating natural elements into our buildings through windows and indoor plants.

The paper was coauthored by Weinstein; Jessey Bernstein, McGill University; Kirk Warren Brown, Virginia Commonwealth University; Louis Mastella, University of Rochester; and Marylene Gagne, Concordia University.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Study Shows 1 in 5 U.S. Veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan has PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Depression

/PRNewswire/ -- This past Memorial Day honored those Americans who have died in military service including over 4,000 in Iraq and 1,000 fallen soldiers in Afghanistan. According to the latest Pentagon study, released in April this year, nearly 20 percent--or one in five returning war veterans--reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression. The study also reports that approximately half of them sought treatment.

Memorial Day this year not only paid tribute to Americans who have died in military service but also marked final day of Mental Health Month. Paul Huljich chose that same month to share his own story of struggling with mental illness in order to help others like him. In Betrayal of Love and Freedom (www.betrayalofloveandfreedom.com), Paul Huljich shows that contracting mental illness conditions such as PTSD do not have to incapacitate you for life. He believes that--through awareness and 30 day regiment of diet, exercise, sleep and stress reduction techniques--anyone can free themselves from the chains of mental illness. And moreover rediscover their purpose in life outside of a chemical strait jacket and other consequences that befall the victims of mental illness.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after a terrifying or life-threatening event, or a series of events causing extreme levels of stress. PTSD is a complex anxiety disorder that displays myriad symptoms of depression, aggression and emotional detachment. Often doctors choose to prescribe a number of given antidepressant drugs to victims of PTSD, including Paxil, Seroquel and Klonopin. According to Paul Huljich, "[the] taking of these drugs without exploring other healthier, more holistic alternatives is extremely dangerous in the long term. These drugs only offer a band aid to the time bomb waiting to go off at any second."

The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 reported on a series of cases involving veterans who died in their sleep after taking a cocktail of various prescribed medications. Its study noted that antipsychotic drugs doubled the risk of sudden cardiac death, a fact that adds to the growing concern about existing speculations on serious adverse effects of psychiatric medications commonly prescribed to emotionally disturbed or traumatized soldiers.

Paul Huljich overcame his mental illness without the use of any medication. Through a basic 30 day regiment based on diet, exercise, sleep and stress reduction techniques, he beat the odds and won. For the past decade he has been symptom-free of the debilitating disorder. He has done what so many of the experts have said couldn't be done, finding a natural, drug-free way to overcome Bipolar disorder and avoid the pain suffered daily by millions.

Now he wants to share his story to help inspire others to fight back! As featured in CNN, New York Times Book Review, Psychology Today, Harper's, Forbes.com, Organic Food News Today, and interviews in over 30 radio shows across the country, Paul Huljich's message is beginning to change the way in which we regard mental illness and its stigmas. In publishing Betrayal of Love and Freedom (www.betrayalofloveandfreedom.com), Paul states "I hope that people will pause for a moment and reflect on where they are in their lives - and where they are headed. But most of all, I wish for my story to give them hope."

Proceeds from the sale of Betrayal of Love & Freedom will be donated to his newly founded non-profit organization, The MWellA foundation (www.mwella.com), which focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle of mind, body, and spirit.

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