Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

How Safe is Your Food? GMO, Foodborne Illnesses and Biotechnology

From a blog item by the Center for Research on Globalization by Rady Ananda

GRAIN has released a global report, Food Safety for Whom? Corporate Wealth vs. Peoples’ Health, showing how governments and corporations use “food safety” to manipulate market access and control. Rather than making food safer, domestic and trade rules “force open markets, or backdoor ways to limit market access.” Highlighting aspects of the report, GRAIN states:

“Across the world, people are getting sick and dying from food like never before. Governments and corporations are responding with all kinds of rules and regulations, but few have anything to do with public health. The trade agreements, laws and private standards used to impose their version of ‘food safety’ only entrench corporate food systems that make us sick and devastate those that truly feed and care for people, those based on biodiversity, traditional knowledge, and local markets.”

Graph: Data compiled by GRAIN from government and UN sources, 2008-2010 (except Australia=2005)

Canadian raw milk producer Michael Schmidt makes a brief statement about these fake food safety laws that violate food freedom in this video (though he has confused it with food sovereignty, which is the right of a nation to determine food safety standards and appropriate ag technologies despite trade agreements):

In the next video, Paul Noble discusses raw milk and government intrusion. “If God had intended us to drink pasteurized milk, he would have put a pasteurizer on the cow.”

GRAIN notes, “During US President Obama’s visit to India in November 2010, Indian Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar made it clear that the United States can produce all the scientific studies it wants, and they will be respectfully reviewed, but India will not import US dairy products that offend domestic religious sensitivities.”

That corporations control governments is undeniable, and we see this with the Food Safety Modernization Act. On May 4th, citing the FSMA for its authority, the US Food and Drug Administration declared it can seize food without evidence of contamination. This blatantly violates the U.S. Constitution protecting citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.

In its 37-page report, GRAIN spends time showing how bilateral trade agreements inhibit developing nations from controlling imports and exports. Rules generated by the World Trade Organization, in the name of food safety, “do little to protect public health, serving only corporate growth imperatives and profit margins.” Several specific examples are given. (To follow developing and ongoing bilateral trade agreements,

Click here for the rest of the article

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , | 1 Comment

Child malnutrition caused by more than lack of food

Malnourished child

Image via Wikipedia

From the 1 May 2011 Science News Daily article

ScienceDaily (May 1, 2011) — Giving poor families land on which to grow crops has been shown to improve child nutrition. New research also shows that giving families non-agricultural land and better housing also is beneficial for children’s growth and nutrition…

…”Malnutrition is a major problem for the health of children under 5 years of age in rural Mayan Guatemalan villages,” said Dr. Agulnik, lead author of the study and a resident at Children’s Hospital Boston. “This study demonstrates that in areas where land scarcity is a major problem, land distributions supporting improved housing and community organization can improve child nutrition without changing a family’s income. It also suggests that in our population, living conditions, sanitation, crowding and community organization play a major role in causing child malnutrition.”

The study underscores the fact that childhood malnutrition is not only about food, said study co-author Paul Wise, MD, MPH, FAAP, who created a program at Stanford University in California called Children in Crisis to improve health care to children living in politically unstable regions. “While this study documents the terrible toll of poverty on child health, it also emphasizes the interaction between the child, infections, community life and the exercise of political power.”

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American Academy of Pediatrics, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience At Mall Of America(R) To ‘Help People Live The Best Lives They Possibly Can’

Construction Under Way on New Prototype Mayo Clinic Facility to Open This Summer

People will interact, engage, relate, participate and share with Mayo Clinic experts to learn more about what they want and need from their health care experience.

From the 3 May 2011 Mayo Clinic Press Release

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Construction has begun on ‘Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience’ at Mall of America. The new space is a health care laboratory designed to integrate health and health care needs to help people stay well and get well. People will interact, engage, relate, participate and share with Mayo Clinic experts to learn more about what they want and need from their health care experience.

“The concepts for ‘Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience’ are based on extensive interaction with individuals. We know that health permeates virtually all aspects of our lives — how we eat, socialize, care for our children, exercise, work and so on,” says David Hayes, M.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic who is leading the Mall of America project. “We know health care in the future will not be limited to hospitals and doctor’s offices. Mall of America provides an opportunity for Mayo Clinic to help transform health care delivery by enhancing convenience and enabling more people to access Mayo Clinic health resources on a day-to-day basis.”

At ‘Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience,’ you will be able to:

Interact with touch-screen health applications designed to entertain, inform and educate.
Engage with health care experience navigators who will help you assemble the tools you need to improve your health and well-being. These navigators will be experienced, Mayo-trained experts.
Relate individually with more in-depth information and programs tailored to your needs.
Participate in health education classes.
Share offerings from Mayo Clinic health professionals specific to women’s health, sports and performance health, preventive health and family and lifestyle health.
Learn more about the services Mayo Clinic provides at its Arizona, Florida, Minnesota and Mayo Health System campuses.
“This is really about Mayo’s commitment to helping people live the best lives they possibly can. The development of ‘Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience’ will be an exploration of health care, wellness and targeted prevention,” adds John La Forgia, senior administrator for the project. “Mayo is well known as a place for patients to find answers, but we would also like to gather more input about the future of preventive health services.”

“Our collaboration with Mayo Clinic throughout the past year has not only built momentum for this exciting venture, it has helped promote healthy living for thousands of mall visitors,” says Maureen Bausch, executive vice president of business development at Mall of America. “We look forward to the opportunities that our visitors will have to provide feedback and shape their own health experiences when this prototype space opens.”

‘Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience’ will be located on the first level near the East Market Rotunda. Construction began in April and Mayo Clinic plans to open the space in July. ‘Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience’ is a prototype space through which Mayo Clinic experts will gather input as part of the possible permanent facility Mayo Clinic plans for the Phase II expansion of Mall of America.

Mayo Clinic’s Arizona, Florida and Minnesota campuses, including Mayo Health System, will remain the patient-focused care centers that have been the hallmark of Mayo Clinic for more than 100 years. Both ‘Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience’ and the eventual permanent facility as part of the Phase II Mall of America expansion will complement these locations by providing convenient, day-to-day services to improve health and well-being, as well as offering direct connections to Mayo Clinic.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Violence Prevention is a Public Health Issue

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has addressed violence as a public health issue since at least 1979 (CDC Timeline of Violence as a Public Health Issue).

New Data: Cost of Violent Deaths

Cost of Violent Deaths chart

In the United States, violence accounts for approximately 51,000 deaths annually. Estimating the size of this economic burden is helpful in understanding the resources that could be saved if cost-effective violence prevention efforts were applied.

From the CDC Web site

Violence is a significant problem in the United States (U.S.). From infants to the elderly, it affects people in all stages of life. In 2006, 18,573 people died as a result of homicide and 33,300 took their own life. The number of violent deaths tells only part of the story. Many more survive violence and are left with permanent physical and emotional scars. Violence also erodes communities by reducing productivity, decreasing property values, and disrupting social services.

While the CDC does have violence prevention resources for public health professionals, it also has resources for the rest of us.

Help prevent violence

The Violence Prevention page includes resources on these topics. Many have hotline phone numbers.

VetoViolence Facebook page
Visit the Violence Prevention Web page for other resources, including social media options (Facebook, Twitter, email, etc)

  • Mental and Psychological Effects of Children’s Cartoons (
  • Build Healthy Teen Relationships To Prevent Teen Dating Violence (
  • LGBT Domestic Violence Assistance Programs React To Murder Of Gay Man By Husband (
  • Leading Workplace Violence Prevention Consulting Firm Acquires The Leading Workplace Violence Prevention Magazine (
  • Toronto police, social group team up for conference on South Asian family violence (
  • The intersection of psychology and public health (Monitor on Psychology, April 2011)
    ” At the CDC, Rodney Hammond worked to improve health for entire populations. As he retires, he predicts that the United States will need even more behavioral expertise to address burgeoning public health problems.””

    Looking back on your career, what accomplishment are you most proud of?

    I am really pleased that the CDC has taken a lead role in promoting the notion that violence is preventable. When CDC started working on violence prevention, the work was primarily focused on collecting and reporting data on violence. Then we moved toward developing evidence-based prevention strategies. Now we are working on community capacity building. We are poised now to help communities implement evidence-based prevention programs to reduce violence.

    One violence-prevention program I’d like to highlight is called STRYVE, (, which stands for Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere. It includes an online tool that is allowing local groups to network, assess conditions and share information about gaps in their communities that need to be filled by strong violence-prevention strategies. ”

    Going forward, what do you think are the greatest opportunities for violence prevention?

    You’re going to see more collaboration among government agencies, community groups and law enforcement. There’s no one model yet, but these collaborations might involve police referring people to programs in the community. Or it might involve using violence data — for instance, information about who is coming into hospitals for treatment after an assault — and determining which parts of a community are most at risk and what circumstances surround these injures, and targeting community resources accordingly.”

    What role do you think psychology has to play in the future of public health?

    I’ve noticed that many psychologists are getting master’s degrees in public health or just taking courses in public health during their doctoral training. Their involvement in the public health system will be very beneficial because some of the top public health problems — obesity, violence and smoking — have a lot to do with behavior. Psychologists bring unique expertise in how behavior can be influenced and how healthy behavior can be encouraged.”

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Finding Aids/Directories, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

Food Environment Atlas / Food Desert Locator


The USDA’s Food Environment Atlas allows one to “get a spacial view of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so”.

County level statistics can be viewed on food choices, health and well-being indicators, and community characteristics.

The Food Desert Locator identifies low-income census tracts where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. The interactive map is similar to the Food Environment Atlas.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Health Statistics, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Doctor’s Office Is Usually First Stop In Medication Mishaps

From the 6 May 2011 Medical News Today article

Harmful effects of medication bring an estimated 4.5 million patients to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms yearly, according to a new study, and people who take multiple medications are particularly vulnerable to unpleasant or dangerous side effects, allergic reactions and toxicity.

Such medication mishaps are a widely recognized problem in health care, but until now, most research has focused on their incidence in the hospital.

“The outpatient setting is where 80 percent of medical care takes place-where we would expect the real burden of the problem to be,” said Urmimala Sarkar, M.D., lead study author, at the University of California, San Francisco.

Analyzing data from 2005 to 2007 from the National Center for Health Statistics, the researchers found that 13.5 million outpatient visits during this three-year period had links to negative effects from prescription medications, in the study appearing online in the journal Health Services Research. …

…While some unwanted effects are inevitable with drug treatment, “many are preventable,” Sarkar said. To reduce their incidence, she said, “medical counseling in doctors’ offices and pharmacies has to be better. Patients need to know what medications they’re on and their possible side effects, and to understand what they’re allergic to.”

Steps to alleviate drug-related problems ultimately should include changes in the health care system, such as coordinated electronic medical records to facilitate information sharing between clinicians, Sarkar said.

Sarkar U, et al. Adverse drug events in U.S. adult ambulatory medical care. Health Services Research online, 2011.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Vs. Fitness: Why Fitness Does Not Necessarily Equate To Health

From the 5 May 2011 Medical News Today article

It is a commonly held belief that the fitter you are, the healthier you are. Is this so? Most experts agree that a certain level of fitness is required for health. However, this leads to several questions: What level of fitness qualifies as healthy? Can you be detrimentally fit? What is the equation for optimal fitness with optimal health? Assuming that the range of fitness runs from total couch potatoes to ultra-marathoners, how is one to determine an answer?

A recent study by researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmond, MA, analyzed the blood of marathoners less than 24 after the race finish and found abnormally high levels of inflammatory and clotting factors similar to the ones known to appear in heart attack victims. Dr. Arthur Siegel, director of Internal Medicine, and the study director said, “My concern is for people who exercise thinking ‘more is better’ and that marathon running will provide ultimate protection against heart disease. In fact, it can set off a cascade of events that may transiently increase the risk for acute cardiac events.” …

…..”Fitness does not necessarily equate to health. Optimal health is a combination of many things-both mental and physical. When mental or emotional stress levels are high, intense physical training may actually add to the body’s stress load, ” say Dian Griesel, Ph.D. and Tom Griesel, authors of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust (BSH, 2011)….

….Walking may be the ideal exercise. “Walking interspersed with short 30-60 second bursts of running is exactly what we were designed to do and has a most beneficial effect on our heart and circulatory system. Anyone can do it. No special equipment or gym memberships are required,” recommends Dian Griesel, Ph.D. who wears a pedometer at all times to track her mileage.

The Griesel’s remind us that repetitious, monotonous, stressful activities are not requirements for fitness. Rather, they conclude “The search for fitness does not have to take over our lives to be effective. Mowing a lawn, housecleaning or a good game of tag or Frisbee with a group of others count as healthful ways to improve fitness. Maybe we all need to find ways to simply get active, instead of stressing ourselves with trying to run marathons.”

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

The Sound Of Music Benefits Everyone

music therapy

Image via Wikipedia

From the 6 May 2011 Medical News Today article

Children with disabilities and their parents are likely to benefit from music therapy sessions, which can improve social, motor and communication skills, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) research has found.

Kate Williams studied the effect of the Sing & Grow music therapy intervention on children with disabilities and found that music therapy also provided benefits for parent-child bonding and for parental mental health….

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment


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