Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to stop your sight from fading

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and didn't put on too much weight from all the extra food.
I'm always looking for something that hopefully you will find as interesting as I did.  This is about taking care of our vision, something we don't tend to think about.  Debbie and I just had our eyes examined and my eyesight actually improved!  I have been doing eye exercises recommended by my friend Dr Winer. Let me know if your interested and I'll be gladly share what he told me to do with you.
All the best,
Lou & Debbie

How to stop your sight from fading
Dr. Julian Whitaker provides prevention steps for common vision problems

By Dr. Julian Whitaker

It's easy to take our eyes for granted. They don't require much maintenance, and even for those who don't have 20/20 vision, corrective lenses are an easy fix.

But there are other eye problems that can develop, especially as we get older. They range from the merely annoying – such as dry, irritated eyes – to serious, vision-impairing diseases like macular degeneration. Fortunately, there are targeted nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes that can help prevent and treat common eye concerns.

Antioxidants help prevent AMD

The leading cause of blindness in older people is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which results in the loss of central vision and the ability to see fine details. AMD is primarily triggered by a lifetime of free-radical damage, so the best way to protect your eyes is to make sure they have an abundant supply of targeted antioxidants.

Scientists discovered years ago that taking a daily supplement containing relatively high doses of vitamin C (1,000-1,500 mg), vitamin E (300-400 IU), beta-carotene (15,000-25,000 IU), zinc (50-80 mg) and copper (4-6 mg) lowers risk of AMD and related vision loss, but nutritional research has gone far beyond these basic vitamins and minerals. And much of the latest science has focused on a handful of phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients provide powerful protection

Phytonutrients are health-promoting organic components found primarily in plants. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin scavenge free radicals in the retina and absorb damaging wavelengths of light. Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, contain both of these protective compounds. Egg yolks are another good source.

Anthocyanosides are strong antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels and improve ocular blood flow. The best dietary sources are bilberry, black currant, and other dark berries.

Few people get therapeutic doses of these phytonutrients from diet alone – a serving of leafy greens, for example, has only about 1 mg of lutein. For optimal protection, you need to take them in supplement form.

Look for a combination product targeting vision support that contains 15 mg of lutein, 2 mg of zeaxanthin and the anthocyansosides mentioned above. They're widely available in health food stores and online.

Cataracts aren't inevitable

Cataracts, or opacities of the lens of the eye, are another common problem associated with aging. More than half of all Americans in their 80s either have cataracts or have had surgery to replace the clouded lens.

I'm not going to knock cataract surgery, because people see much, much better afterward. But isn't prevention a better idea?

First, make some lifestyle changes to eliminate the factors linked with increased risk of developing cataracts and other vision problems. These include:

Abdominal obesity
Nutrition is also important. Not surprisingly, the same nutrients that protect against AMD have also been shown to help stave off cataracts.

One study found that older women who had the highest levels of lutein and zeaxanthin were about a third less likely to have cataracts. And in a more recent placebo-controlled clinical trial, people who took a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement for nine years were much less likely to have developed the most common type of cataracts than those who took a placebo.

N-acetyl-carnosine can help stop cataract formation

Another therapy worth trying is N-acetyl-carnosine. Free-radical damage isn't the only thing going on in cataract formation. Advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs, caused by the crosslinking of proteins, is another degenerative process that damages the lens.

Carnosine is a natural amino acid combo that inhibits AGE formation. Several studies show that when carnosine eye drops are used twice a day in eyes affected by cataracts, improvements are often noted in both vision and lens opacity. Look for these drops online and in health food stores.

Say goodbye to dry, irritated eyes

Most of us occasionally experience a dry sensation in the eyes, but for millions it's a daily occurrence. Caused by a decline in tear production or quality, this condition is particularly prevalent among older individuals.

Lubricating eye drops, or artificial tears, may soothe dry eyes, but they do little to address the underlying condition. Two of the processes at work in dry eyes are inflammation and free-radical damage.

To curb inflammation, eat salmon and other cold-water fish on a regular basis and take a minimum of 2,000 mg of fish oil daily. Harvard researchers found that women with the highest intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids had a substantially reduced risk of dry eyes.

Try VIVA drops

To fight free radicals, I recommend VIVA Eye Drops from Corneal Science. In addition to being preservative-free, this product contains vitamin A and other antioxidants that improve the normal tear film and help heal the epithelial cells on the surface of the cornea.

In one study, people with dry eyes used one or two drops of VIVA in one eye and artificial tears in other several times a day for four months. Improvements were reported in 61 percent of the eyes treated with VIVA compared to 15 percent of the eyes treated with artificial tears.

These eye drops are also helpful for red, irritated eyes. I do not recommend drops that promise to get the red out. Overuse may result in dilation of the blood vessels, making them even redder. VIVA drops are available online and in some health food and drug stores.

Solutions for other common vision concerns

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve characterized by increased pressure in the eyes. If this condition is not addressed, it can cause permanent vision loss. Common treatments are drugs and surgery, but studies suggest that several natural agents can reduce pressures in patients with glaucoma. The best studied is high-dose vitamin C (1,000-1,500 mg), but Ginkgo biloba (60 mg daily), bilberry (320 mg daily) and magnesium (500-1,000 mg daily) also appear to be helpful for treating this vision concern.

Night vision often falters as we get older, making driving after dark a chore. Many of my patients with this concern tell me their night vision improved after they started taking a supplement containing most of the nutrients I mentioned earlier. This isn't surprising. Anthocyanosides, in particular, have been demonstrated to enhance light/dark adaptation and improve night vision.

The bottom line

Whether you want to treat an existing eye problem or maintain your vision, the best thing to do is improve your diet and take a comprehensive supplement aimed at supporting vision health.

To view this item online, visit http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?pageId=225965

Environmental Toxin May Play Important Role in Multiple Sclerosis: Hypertension Drug Possible Treatment

Environmental Toxin May Play Important Role in Multiple Sclerosis: Hypertension Drug Possible Treatment

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2010)
Researchers have found evidence that an environmental pollutant may play an important role in causing multiple sclerosis and that a hypertension drug might be used to treat the disease.

The toxin acrolein was elevated by about 60 percent in the spinal cord tissues of mice with a disease similar to multiple sclerosis, said Riyi Shi, a medical doctor and a professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering in Purdue University's Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Center for Paralysis Research and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.
The research results represent the first concrete laboratory evidence for a link between acrolein (pronounced a-KRO-le-an) and multiple sclerosis, he said.
"Only recently have researchers started to understand the details about what acrolein does to the human body," Shi said. "We are studying its effects on the central nervous system, both in trauma and degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis."
The compound is an environmental toxin found in air pollutants including tobacco smoke and auto exhaust. Acrolein also is produced within the body after nerve cells are damaged. Previous studies by this research team found that neuronal death caused by acrolein can be prevented by administering the drug hydralazine, an FDA-approved medication used to treat hypertension.
The new findings show that hydralazine also delays onset of multiple sclerosis in mice and reduces the severity of symptoms by neutralizing acrolein.
"The treatment did not cause any serious side effects in the mice," Shi said. "The dosage we used for hydralazine in animals is several times lower than the standard dosing for oral hydralazine in human pediatric patients. Therefore, considering the effectiveness of hydralazine at binding acrolein at such low concentrations, we expect that our study will lead to the development of new neuroprotective therapies for MS that could be rapidly translated into the clinic."
The researchers also learned the specific chemical signature of the drug that binds to acrolein and neutralizes it, potentially making it possible to create synthetic alternatives with reduced side effects. The studies are detailed in a paper appearing online this month in the journal Neuroscience. The paper was written by doctoral students Gary Leung, Wenjing Sun and Lingxing Zheng; graduate research assistant Melissa Tully, who is an MD-Ph.D. student at Purdue and the Indiana University School of Medicine; postdoctoral researcher Sarah Brookes; and Shi.
In multiple sclerosis, the myelin insulation surrounding nerve cells is destroyed and the nerve fibers themselves are damaged.
"We think that acrolein is what degrades myelin, so if we can block that effect then we can delay the onset of MS and lessen the symptoms," Shi said.
Acrolein induces the production of free radicals, compounds that cause additional injury to tissues after disease or physical trauma.
"We've discovered that acrolein may play a very important role in free radical injury, particularly in multiple sclerosis," Shi said.
The elevated acrolein levels in the MS mice were cut in half when treated with hydralazine. The drug represents a potential long-term therapy to slow the disease's progress.
"To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that acrolein acts as a neurotoxin in MS and also the first time anyone has demonstrated hydralazine to be a neuroprotective drug," Shi said.
Other researchers had previously shown that acrolein damages liver cells and that the damage can be alleviated by hydralazine, leading the Purdue researchers to study its possible effects on spinal cord tissues.
Further research will be conducted, and Shi's group has identified other potential compounds for binding acrolein. The research team, in a possible future collaboration with the Indiana University School of Medicine, also is working to improve the sensitivity of detection methods to measure acrolein levels in people with multiple sclerosis.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Scientists challenge TSA on scanner radiation

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  So let me ask you a question,  "Are you going to be flying home this week?"
I have been listening and watching what people have been saying about the TSA and the naked scans they are employing to "make us safe".
Somehow I don't feel safe with what I have been hearing.
Read this and let us know what you think.

Lou & Debbie


Scientists challenge TSA on scanner radiation

Warn of 'potential health consequences' to elderly, pregnant women, children

Posted: November 22, 2010       11:09 pm Eastern
By Drew Zahn                     © 2010 WorldNetDaily

Federal officials claim radiation risks from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's new full-body scanners are low, but several scientists are calling on the administration to rethink whether the numbers really add up.

The TSA says the radiation from its security scans amounts to about a thousandth of the amount a patient receives from a standard chest X-ray, or an amount "equivalent to two minutes of flying on an airplane."

But a physics professor at Arizona State University in Tempe not only conducted his own study, finding the radiation exposure 10 times what the TSA estimates, but also argues that the health risks aren't mathematically worth taking.

Prof. Peter Rez explained to MSNBC that while the risk of getting a fatal cancer from the screening is minuscule, it's about equal to the  probability an airplane will get blown up by a terrorist. Either way, the professor argues, dead is dead.

"There is not a case to be made for deploying [the scanners] to prevent such a low probability event," Rez says.

Furthermore, a team of scientists from the University of California San Francisco have written a letter to the White House warning that the scanners present – above and beyond the risks to the general population – "potential serious health risks" to certain segments of society, such as the elderly and the pregnant.

"There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations," say the cosigners of the letter, which include experts in biochemistry, imaging, X-rays and cancer research. "We are unanimous in believing that the potential health consequences need to be rigorously studied before these scanners are adopted."

The backscatter X-ray technology used in airport security scanners penetrates the skin only about 1/4 inch before the rays are scattered,  whereas medical X-rays transmit completely through the body. The TSA has determined, therefore, that the amount of radiation emitted from the airport scanners is significantly less than at the doctor's office.

The University of California scientists, however, disagree.

"The X-ray dose from these devices has often been compared in the media to the cosmic ray exposure inherent to airplane travel or that of a chest X-ray," the professors' letter states. "However, this comparison is very misleading: Both the air travel cosmic ray exposure and chest X-rays have much higher X-ray energies, and the health consequences are appropriately understood in terms of the whole body volume dose. In contrast, these new airport scanners are largely depositing their energy into the skin and immediately adjacent tissue, and since this is such a small fraction of body weight/volume, possibly by one to two orders of magnitude, the real dose to the skin is now high."

The professors are calling on the administration to specifically reexamine potential risks to the following groups:

Older travelers, those greater than 65 years of age, who may be at particular risk from the mutagenic effects of the X-rays;
A fraction of the female population especially sensitive to mutagenesis-provoking radiation leading to breast cancer, women typically exempted from X-ray mammograms, for example;
The population of immuno-compromised individuals, such as HIV and cancer Patients;
Children and adolescents;
Pregnant women and their unborn children;
And men in general, because of the proximity of the testicles to skin, which is most highly effected by the backscatter rays.
The TSA claims that the machines' safety has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, the Commerce Department's National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

"In summary, the potential health risks from a full-body screening with a general-use X-ray security system are minuscule. Several groups of recognized experts have been assembled and have analyzed the radiation safety issues associated with this technology," the FDA states. "As a result of these evidence-based, responsible actions, we are confident that full-body X-ray security products and practices do not pose a significant risk to the public health."

When New York Times reporter Susan Stellini called these research organizations to ask about their evaluations, however, she discovered the machines were primarily tested for whether the amount of radiation emitted meets guidelines established by the American National Standards Institute, an organization she suspects may be operating with a conflict of interest.

"Guess who was on the committee that developed the guidelines for the X-ray scanners? Representatives from the companies that make the machines and the Department of Homeland Security, among others," Stellini writes. "In other words, the machines passed a test developed, in part, by the companies that manufacture them and the government agency that wants to use them."

Both Rez and the team from University of California have also brought up yet another "red flag" with the airport scanners.

"The scary thing to me is not what happens in normal operations, but what happens if the machine fails," Rez told the Times. "Mechanical things break down, frequently."

"Because this device can scan a human in a few seconds, the X-ray beam is very intense," the California professors' letter states. "Any glitch in power at any point in the hardware (or more importantly in software) that stops the device could cause an intense radiation dose to a single spot on the skin. Who will oversee problems with overall dose after repair or software problems?

"The TSA is already complaining about resolution limitations; who will keep the manufacturers and/or TSA from just raising the dose, an easy way to improve signal-to-noise and get higher resolution?" the professors continue. "Lastly, given the recent [underwear bomber incident], how do we know whether the manufacturer or TSA, seeking higher resolution, will scan the groin area more slowly leading to a much higher total dose?"

The scientists' letter, addressed to Dr. John P. Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology, concludes, "We urge you to empower an impartial panel of experts to reevaluate the potential health issues we have raised before there are irrevocable long-term consequences to the health of our country. These negative effects may on balance far outweigh the potential benefit of increased detection of terrorists." 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

FDA Failing to Monitor Safety of Medical Devices


Would you be surprised to learn that the FDA is not doing their job?
If your like us you won't have any problem believing this.  It really is up to us to take care of our health and do things proactively to stay healthy.
All the best,
Lou & Debbie

FDA Failing to Monitor Safety of Medical Devices: Report

Lax procedures around approvals, poor follow-up plague the agency, investigators claim

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not doing its job of properly monitoring the safety of medical devices, the authors of a new report charge.

The FDA has the authority to approve both drugs and medical devices, but the investigators believe that the division responsible for device approval and safety is lax in both its initial approval of devices and its ongoing monitoring of related problems.

"The agency often misses problematic devices," contends lead author Shannon Brownlee, an instructor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

The report is published in the Nov. 3 online edition of the BMJ.

In their article, Brownlee and New York-based medical investigative journalist Jeanne Lenzer focus on the FDA's approval and follow-up of a device that prevents or reduces seizures in patients with epilepsy who don't respond to drug treatment.

This apparatus, called a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) is made by Texas-based Cyberonics. The VNS, which is implanted under the skin, works by sending electrical impulses to stimulate the vagus nerve in the neck.

The FDA approved the device in 1997 and some 60,000 patients around the world are using it, according to the manufacturer. In 2005, the FDA also okayed the device as a treatment for medication-resistant depression. There are some 5,000 people who use VNS to treat depression, Cyberonics says.

Brownlee and Lenzer's concern: That during the 13 years the device has been on the market there have been 900 FDA-reported deaths of people using the device to control their epilepsy.

The question of whether any of these deaths were due to the device remains unanswered, however, even though Cyberonics did conduct the post-marketing study the FDA requested at the time of approval. However, the FDA did not require the study to report the cause of death for individuals using the device, Brownlee and Lenzer said.

FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley said the agency is engaged in an ongoing effort to improve overall medical device safety monitoring. "We have an initiative underway to strengthen post-market monitoring," she said.

But Brownlee believes the story of the VNS device to be just one example of the FDA's failure to monitor the safety of medical devices before and after they are out in the marketplace. For example, she pointed out that less than one-third of devices approved under FDA's pre-market approval process had ever been evaluated in a randomized trial.

And she said that it was physicians, not the FDA, who spotted serious problems with certain implanted defibrillators, for example. "It was physicians keeping their own database that alerted the company to the problem," Brownlee said.

Moreover, she believes the agency is not capable of detecting potentially unsafe devices through its own harms database. Brownlee cited a finding that many post-approval studies are either not done, or conducted so poorly "as to be meaningless."

According to the BMJ, the FDA referred Brownlee and Lenzer to five post-approval studies that they said established the device's safety. However, Brownlee said these studies do not prove the device was not the cause of deaths, since none contained mortality data.

Brownlee also said that when the device was approved for depression it was over the objection of FDA's own panel of scientists. And, according to Brownlee, the company has suggested that VNS may be useful for a wide range of other ailments, including obesity, stroke and traumatic brain injury, and has patented the device for these potential therapies.

According to Brownlee, the FDA will only improve when it gets more staff, better funding, more authority and more outside experts to objectively evaluate device safety.

The new findings come on the heels of a recent embarrassment for the agency: In October, the FDA apologized for mistakenly approving the Menaflex knee implant over objections from its own scientists. In its announcement, the FDA admitted it caved to political pressure from New Jersey senators and a congressman. The FDA has now taken steps to rescind that approval.

"I have sympathy for the FDA, which is understaffed and underfunded in many areas," Brownlee said. "But there is no question that this agency had been captured by the very industries that it is supposed to regulate," she said.

Defending the VNS, Cyberonics chief financial officer Greg Browne said that "none of the approximately 900 deaths reported to the FDA were attributed to VNS therapy."

"Available data demonstrate that all-cause mortality rates for VNS therapy patients are less than half the rates in the comparable non-VNS epilepsy patient population," he added.

Dr. Jerry Avorn, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of an accompanying journal editorial, agreed with the article's authors that, "until recently the part of FDA that approves devices has been run in a much more loose manner than the part of FDA that approves drugs."

While the FDA has started to deal with some of these problems, "it's still more of a wild west environment than the drug side of FDA," he added.

The agency needs to look harder at the standards it uses when approving new devices, and should revamp its surveillance systems to spot people who have received faulty devices, he added.

"All government regulation is not a bad thing," Avorn said. "It can sometime be life-saving," he said.

More information

For more information on the FDA and medical devices, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

SOURCES: Shannon Brownlee, M.S., instructor, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Hanover, NH; Jerry Avorn, M.D., professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Karen Riley,spokeswoman, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Greg Browne, chief financial officer, Cyberonics; Nov. 3, 2010, BMJ, online

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

words of wisdom from a 90 year young woman

This was sent to me by my Mom, I've learned (over time) that she's usually right... 
Lou & Debbie

 Written by a 90 year old

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.
  • Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  • When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  • Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
  • Pay off your credit cards every month.
  • You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  • Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
  • It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  • Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  • When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
  • It's OK to let your children see you cry.
  • Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
  • Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
  • Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  • Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  • When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
  • Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  • Over prepare, then go with the flow.
  • Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
  • The most important sex organ is the brain.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  • Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
  • Always choose life.
  • Forgive everyone everything.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Time heals almost everything. Give time --- time.
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  • Believe in miracles.
  • God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
  • Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  • Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
  • Your children get only one childhood.
  • All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  • Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  • If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • Yield.
  • Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift." 
  • The best is yet to come...
So now that we have the wisdom of a 90 ear old, what's going to change for me?
I love older people.
Just wondered. . . What would you add to the list?