Herbal Remedies Are An Overlooked Global Health Hazard

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Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine, please share your comments below…..

didyouknow?Millions of people around the world use herbal health remedies, following a tradition that began millennia ago. Many believe that herbs are safe because they have been used for many years, but researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Stony Brook University are raising awareness that long-term use of herbal remedies is no guarantee of their safety. The invited commentary appears in EMBO reports.

Dr. Donald M. Marcus, professor emeritus of medicine and immunology at Baylor, and Dr. Arthur P. Grollman, distinguished professor of pharmacological sciences at Stony Brook University, discuss the scientific evidence showing that the plant Aristolochia can cause aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN). People with this condition experience interstitial nephritis, renal failure and cancers of the urinary track.

The authors remark that in Taiwan, according to the national prescription database, between 1997 and 2003, 8 million people were exposed to herbals containing Aristolochia. Studies of patients with renal failure and cancer in Taiwan and China show that tens of millions of people in those countries are at risk of AAN.

In genetically susceptible people, consuming Aristolochia can lead to the formation of complexes between aristolactam, a compound in Aristolachia, and DNA in renal tissues. These complexes lead to mutations in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene, which in turn initiate the process toward kidney cancer. Additional studies have shown that this process may also lead to the development of cancer in the liver and the bladder.

Marcus and Grollman indicate that other herbals and traditional medicines are responsible for severe adverse events in Africa and Asia, but in these cases epidemiological data are lacking.

Although Aristolochia has been used as a herbal remedy for more than 2000 years, “the intrinsic toxicities were not recognized, owing, in large part, to the latency period between exposure and the onset of symptomatic disease, and, in part, to genetic determinants that confer susceptibility to only approximately 5 percent of those exposed to this herb,” said the authors. The long-term scientific study of AAN revealed the association of the disease with Aristolochia.

Almost all carcinogens and many toxins require a long period of time before symptoms appear. This makes it very difficult for a layman or a professional to identify a particular compound as the cause of an illness when it was taken months or years earlier.

“The history of Aristolachia indicates that other herbs that have been used for a long time may also have toxic and/or carcinogenic compounds,” said the authors. “It is prudent to assume that many herbs may contain toxic or carcinogenic substances that can cause subsequent health problems for humans.”

Marcus and Grollman disagree with the World Health Organization’s endorsement of the use of traditional herbal remedies on the premise that traditional medicine is of proven quality, without mentioning the lack of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of herbal remedies or their demonstrated hazards, as in the case of Aristolochia.

The authors emphasize that their primary concern is “the prevention of toxicities associated with herbal medicine and not a categorical rejection of traditional healing practices. Herbal remedies pose a global hazard. We encourage the global health community to take actions that will evaluate both long- and short-term safety, as well as the efficacy of botanical products in widespread use.”

The authors declare having no conflict of interest.

Global Employee Health & Fitness Month

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb, please share your comments below…..

seniorexerciseIn conjunction with May’s “Global Employee Health & Fitness Month,” the Austin sports medicine team at Medicine in Motion presents compelling reasons for establishing health and wellness programs at the workplace.

Held every year during the month of May, Global Employee Health & Fitness Month promotes “the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to employers and their employees through worksite health promotion activities and environments.” Given that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have projected that the United States’ National Healthcare Expenditure will continue to rise and reach $5 trillion by 2022, worksite wellness has never been more important. According to the “Guide to Workplace Wellness” by Health Advocate™, some of the workplace costs related to having unhealthy employees include:

* Obesity-related conditions cost more than $13 billion each year in medical expenses and lost productivity.

* A typical smoker costs about $3,900 each year in medical expenses and lost productivity.

* Stress costs approximately $300 billion each year in medical expenses, lost productivity, missed work days, accidents and employee turnover.

* Diabetes costs 14 million disability days each year.

* Cardiovascular disease cost $142 billion in lost productivity in 2001.

As health care costs continue to rise for workplaces, many organizations are seeking ways to improve the health and wellness of their employees. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, increasing physical activity can:

* lower the risk of heart disease,

* lower the risk of stroke,

* lower the risk of high blood pressure,

* lower the risk of colon and breast cancers,

* help prevent weight gain,

* improve cardiovascular and muscular fitness strength,

* prevent falls,

* improve bone strength, and

* reduce symptoms of depression.

Programs that focus on education of and engagement with employees on topics such as nutrition, stress management, physical fitness, and smoking can facilitate a healthier worksite. A healthier workforce, in turn, can lead to higher productivity, fewer missed days, decreased health care costs, higher morale, and stronger retention rates – all of which will improve an organization’s bottom-line.

The 2010 “Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings” report revealed that for every dollar spent on wellness initiatives, medical expenses dropped by about $3.27, while the costs associated with missed days by employees decreased by about $2.73. This and other similar return-on-investment studies continue to collect evidence that offering workplace wellness programs makes an enormous impact on employee health and organizational savings.

Medicine in Motion (MIM) specializes in providing top quality sports medicine in Austin, Texas, for athletic individuals of all ages and levels. The staff at MIM believes active bodies are healthy bodies, therefore it is the office’s goal to keep patients energetic and fit. To that end, MIM provides treatment of injuries and illnesses, including the use of physical rehabilitation; promotes healthy living with personal training and nutrition coaching; and offers comprehensive sports medicine evaluations to optimize health, activity level and sports performance. For more information or for questions regarding sports medicine in Austin, contact Medicine in Motion at 512-257-2500 or visit the website at http://www.medinmotion.com.

Obesity – A Global Pandemic – Stay Vigilant With Your Lifestyles!

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By Madhavi Dandu

Lifestyles have undergone dynamic changes over the decades and the people of today’s society are leading a more sedentary life that is bracketed in coziness and escorted by machine comforts. However, there have also emerged arrays of lifestyle disorders that are unwarranted and have potentially harmful implications for our health. The sturdy man of the yester centuries has transformed into a weak and vulnerable person! Most of the developing and developed societies around the world are suffering from conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stress and many more diseases. Of all the diseases stated, obesity has emerged almost as a pandemic around the world. The excess body weight that finds discrepancy with the BMI indices has been described as the condition of obesity and is significantly different from healthy body dimensions.

Why so much of concern?

The condition of obesity is not a disease in itself but, a frontrunner for an array of real diseases which carry life threatening implications. Obesity is not incurable or hard to control and rather requires only lifestyle changes through incorporation of positives.

While it is easy to assume that lifestyle changes will rid us of the problem. One must keep in mind that doing so has become increasingly difficult because of unhealthy habits we have developed. We have developed an obsession to eat junk and easy foods, and chose to laze around in our cozy homes making it even more difficult for our bodies. It is for this reason that obesity has surfaced up as a pandemic that stands to threaten the health of global societies. Fitness experts are therefore, not shying away from labeling it as a disease.

Obesity implications –

Obesity is characterized by the deposition of excess fats in our body thus, increasing our weight. When we eat more than our body requires, excess energies are produced. This extra energy is stored in the form of adipose fat tissues. The process of fat deposition is very slow but consistent.

One of the major health hazards that are prospectively associated with obesity is diabetes. High fat deposition and obesity reduces the capacity of the body to respond to elevated blood sugar levels through proper insulin production. The fat tissue has its own hormone production profile and it interferes with the healthy mechanism of the body!

This is how the body develops insulin resistance which results in high blood glucose levels. This further deteriorates the body processes and organs like the eyes and kidneys.

Other major ailments that are caused by obesity are –

Coronary heart diseases: The excess fat that travels in the blood deposits as arterial plaque and makes the arteries rigid and also narrower. This is one of the major causes of cardiac arrest.

Joints pain: Pain is experienced in the knee joints due to increased weight. In severe cases, proper joint therapies are considered. Some cases may also require joint replacement.

Catalyzes stress: Obese persons are generally found to be lacking initiative and vigor towards life and have greater tendency to slip into stress and depression. A toned up body is always full of self confidence and potential!

How to take care?

A few lifestyle tips can change all this easily and constitute the common social talk. These are –

1. Eat healthy! – Avoid junk food and eat home cooked healthy meals.

2. Lives an active life – Make the time to do light exercises.

3. Remain vigilant – Keep a track of your body dynamics and weight.

4. Never skip meals – Have a well regulated diet as fasting irresponsibly increases the chance of putting on weight.

So never let your life passions take a negative hold on you. Reduce the chances of health threats that could otherwise be waiting for you as you move forward with irresponsible lifestyles.

Take care!

– Madhavi Dandu is a senior editor at UrbanWired with deep love and passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and fashion. Given how uninformed people were about personal health, fitness, she saw the need to educate average joe and jane about healthy living through her writing.

Global Sugar Intake Behind The Rise In Type 2 Diabetes

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diabeteswordFrom Your Health Journal…..A great article in one of my favorite web sites to promote called Red Orbit, written by Lawrence LeBlond. The article is entitled Global Sugar Intake Behind The Rise In Type 2 Diabetes. Obesity is on the rise all over the world, and one health risk factor associated with obesity is type 2 diabetes, which in many cases, is environmental – sometimes reversible with weight loss. Believe it or not, more than 350 million people around the glboe are believed to have diabetes, and for years health experts have debated on what the exact driver of the illness has been. While sugar intake has been viewed as a culprit in many eyes, scientists have long refuted that conjecture and attributed the global health crisis to too much overall food intake and obesity. Recently, a new study suggests through compelling evidence that Type 2 diabetes is being largely driven by the rising consumption of sugary foods and drinks. Please visit the Red Orbit web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

More than 350 million people worldwide are believed to have diabetes, and for years health experts have debated on what the exact driver of the illness has been. While sugar intake has been viewed as a culprit in many eyes, scientists have long refuted that conjecture and attributed the global health crisis to too much overall food intake and obesity.

But in a new finding by three California universities – Stanford, UC-Berkeley and UCSF – suggests through compelling evidence that Type 2 diabetes is being largely driven by the rising consumption of sugary foods and drinks. This evidence comes in the form of large-scale analysis of worldwide sugar availability over the last decade. The findings have been published in Wednesday’s (Feb. 27) issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

In all, the American researchers looked at sugar intake in 175 countries, including the United States. They found increases in sugar intake account for a third of all new cases of diabetes in the US and a quarter of all cases worldwide. In the countries studied, the researchers found an average 150-calorie-per-day increase in the availability of sugar – roughly the equivalent of a can of cola. This accounts for a rise in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes by 1.1 percent.

The team also found that, in the countries studied, an increase of 150-calories-per-day for all food, regardless of sugar content, only led to a 0.1 percent rise in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, adding credence to the evidence that sugar intake is a prominent driver for onset of diabetes.


The study’s lead author, Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said the finding was “quite a surprise.”

“We’re not diminishing the importance of obesity at all, but these data suggest that at a population level there are additional factors that contribute to diabetes risk besides obesity and total calorie intake, and that sugar appears to play a prominent role,” Basu said.

While the study cannot prove that sugar alone is causing diabetes, it does confirm that the longer a population is exposed to excess sugar, the higher its diabetes rate will be after taking obesity and other factors into account. The study also found that diabetes rates waned over time when sugar availability dropped, independent of changes in consumption of other calories.

To read the full article…..Click here

Kids’ Obesity A Global Threat

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From Your Health Journal…..”The Toronto Sun has some amazing articles, including the one being reviewed here today about childhood obesity. Please visit The Sun’s site to read many great articles. This article discusses obesity in Canada, where according to the Childhood Obesity Foundation, 1.6 million Canadian children are considered overweight or obese. Reports have shown that obesity has overtaken hunger as a larger global threat. Data from reports have also shown the last 20 years showed a worldwide 82% increase in obesity – meaning an increase in diseases such as early type 2 diabetes, heart and circulatory disease. Not only does this data apply to Canada, but worldwide. Please visit The Sun’s web site (listed below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

Are your kids too chubby? According to the Childhood Obesity Foundation, 1.6 million Canadian children are considered overweight or obese. And we are not alone. A recent report, called the Global Burden of Disease, indicated that obesity has overtaken hunger around the world as the biggest threat to global health. So now that the holiday cookies have all been eaten, it’s time to get kids on track nutritionally.

The above-mentioned report which compared data from the last 20 years showed a worldwide 82 % increase in obesity – meaning an increase in diseases such as early type 2 diabetes, heart and circulatory disease as well as other ailments caused by carrying too much weight.

The good news is that obesity can be prevented, says Dr. Jonathan Maguire, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, who is involved in a massive research study called TARGet Kids! The program (a collaborative effort between his hospital, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, and various participating children’s clinics) follows children from birth with the aim of understanding and preventing common problems that can impact their health later on.

“We know that children who are obese are likely to be adolescents who are obese and adults who are obese. We know that obesity can be prevented, but we don’t know much about how to do that,” says Dr. Maguire, adding that diets just don’t work. “If we can understand why one child becomes obese and another child does not, maybe we can develop tools and interventions to keep kids from being obese before it starts.”

Already, 5,500 Canadian children are involved in the program (check it out at www.targetkids.ca) which is studying not only obesity but also iron deficiency, and the impact of vitamin D on colds and asthma in kids. Early results on the study’s obesity arm have already shown that screen time is associated with the development of obesity in kids: Limiting TV and computer time is a step that parents can take to help their kids, Dr. Maguire says.

To read the full article…..Click here