Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

The new look of the FDA’s website

Science Intelligence and InfoPros

If the FDA has announced earlier a new structure (see Phar. Executive, Dec. 2011), the agency has also released a new website on the first days of January.

Mark Senak, the Eye on FDA, has immediately compiled the good points but also a certain number of questions and concerns:

In a few words,

  • The new version is very nice and neat. The most compelling feature is that the landing page is CLEAN and follows a logic.  Tabs are nicely displayed at the top to feature each area in which the FDA operates. The information is grouped and organized and the space is not crowded.
  • It being new, there are a few bugs: Most of the links on the landing page don’t work, …
  • About the new blog, FDA Voice: There have been only three entries since the first which was on December 23. The challenge here will be to keep it real…

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January 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Autonomous Individual or Cog In The Wheel? [Blog Item at The Public’s Health]

Autonomous Individual or Cog In The Wheel? [ The Public’s Health]

Excerpt from the 29 December 2011 blog item

Although a community can only be as healthy as its collective individuals, by name alone, public health implies promoting wellbeing at the population level, even at the expense of the individual. There are two often-mentioned competing concepts in public health: the principle of autonomy and the ethical theory of utilitarianism.

Autonomy implies individuals have control over their lives and should be able to make decisions governing their health, as they are the only ones who truly understand their own personal choices and lifestyle. For example, if one of us as an individual chooses to consume high fat or high sugar foods, then we should be able to do so without the government imposing taxes on our unhealthy products of choice. It is our body alone, and no one should tell us how to treat it.

Utilitarianism, on the other hand, is an ethical theory that guides decisions based on the act that will produce the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. …

Read the entire posting by Dr. Rubin here

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Nutrition Myths to Put to Rest in 2012? [ FOOD, FACTS and FADS]

Nutrition Myths to Put to Rest in 2012? | FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Excerpts from the 2 January 2012 blog item

Myth #1:  High Fructose corn syrup is no worse than sugar.

This myth is probably the most controversial. According to the Corn Refiner’s Association, sugar and high fructose corn syrup have the same number of calories and both contribute 4 calories per gram. They are also equal in sweetness. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup contain nearly the same one-to-one ratio of two sugars-fructose and glucose: …


Myth #5   Egg yolks raise your cholesterol.

Dietary cholesterol has almost nothing to do with blood cholesterol in healthy people….

Myth #7  Granola is good for you.

Granola is oats with added sugar and baked in oil for crunch.  …

Myth #10 Low-fat foods are better for you.

Low fat is associated with salt and refined carbohydrates.  …

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

The good food news of 2011 [ Grist blog item]


English: Organic cultivation of mixed vegetabl...

English organic farm

The good food news of 2011 [Grist]

Among the topics

1. Urban farming is flourishing.

3. Local food isn’t just delicious and eco-

5. We don’t need industrial ag to feed the world.

The results of a long-term study by the Rodale Institute also proved that organic farming is just as productive as conventional, and better at building soil (this is key, since “yield” is at the heart of the “feed the world” discussion).

8. Food access got more attention.

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Telltale Statistics from The Real State of America Atlas [Science Is Everyone’s Story]

Telltale Statistics from The Real State of America Atlas  [Blog item from Science Is Everyone’s Story]

by  Kat Friedrich

Since I’ve heard through the rumor mill that search engines and blog readers like bullet points, I’ve decided to toss Google a bone. This post is a series of statistics from The Real State of America Atlas: Mapping the Myths and Truths of the United States. These numbers may surprise you.

The Real State of America Atlas

Poverty and housing

  • In 2000, 12 percent of Native American houses on reservations lacked complete plumbing. This situation is almost nonexistent in the rest of the United States.
  • In 2009, 32 percent of Native Americans were living below the federally set poverty line. The matching statistic for whites was 9 percent.
  • Subprime mortgage lending has led to many people losing their homes. 61 percent of African-American women who borrowed mortgages in 2005 received subprime ones. The matching statistic for white women was 22 percent.

Journalism and diversity

  • In 2008, 88 percent of United States radio reporters and 76 percent of TV journalists were white. (In 2009, 75 percent of United States residents identified as white.)
  • 53 percent of foreign-born residents of the United States are from Latin America.
  • The national average number of foreign-born workers in the labor force is 16 percent.
  • Meanwhile, 64 percent of United States newspapers reduced their coverage of international news between 2007 and 2009. It’s unlikely immigrants made those newsroom decisions.

Environmental emotions and actions

  • 61 percent of Americans surveyed said they were sympathetic to the environmental movement in 2010.
  • As of November 2010, there were 1,280 Superfund sites in the United States in line for cleanup, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Does sympathy equal action? Not necessarily.
  • In 2005, women became the majority of motor vehicle owners in the United States. However, only 26 percent of auto industry employees are women. Women are also more likely than men to believe global warming is a serious concern. Guess who’s designing our cars?


January 3, 2012 Posted by | Health Statistics | , | Leave a comment

The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction (link to NIMH brochure and personal musings)

The US National Institute of Mental Health has recently published an easy to read brochure which outlines brain changes in the still developing adolescent brain.  An understanding of these changes go a long way in explaining puzzling contradictions in teen behavior.

These sections of the brochure especially resonated with me. They essentially point to growing evidence that even up to their early 20’s, people are still maturing emotionally. They have not yet reached full capacity to think and reason.

“The (functional brain imaging) scans also suggest that different parts of the cortex mature at different rates. Areas involved in more basic functions mature first: those involved, for example, in the processing of information from the senses, and in controlling movement. The parts of the brain responsible for more “top-down control, controlling impulses, and planning ahead – the hallmarks of adult behavior- are among the last to mature.”

“Several lines of evidence suggests that the brain circuitry involved in emotional responses is changing during the teen years. Functional brain imaging studies, for example, suggest that the responses of teens to emotionally loaded images and situations are heightened relative to younger children and adults. The brain changes underlying these patterns involve brain centers and signaling molecules taht are part of the reward system with which the brain motivates behavior. These age-related changes shape how much different parts of the brain are activated in response to experience, and in terms of behavior, the urgency and intensity of emotional reactions.”

As adults, we have the responsibility to continue to nurture young adults, provide guidance, and fully respect them in the light of how they are able to reason, react emotionally, and learn.

These responsibilities we have as adults should resonate in the public sector.
For example, those who market and advertise should exercise caution with “emotionally laden images” when targeting teens and young adults to buy their products and services. To do otherwise is disrespectful.

In a similar vein, I believe that the recruitment of people under 21 into the armed services is not too farm removed from recruiting child soldiers. Again, it is easy to market with images appealing to the emotions involved with sense of adventure, being in a group of like minded individuals, patriotism, and fighting evil. But is the age group of 18-21 a good fit for the military? I think not.  Recruiting in this age group is taking advantage of the still developing, not fully developed  areas of the brain devoted to analyzing risks and self control. People in this age group should be guided and nurtured in environments in which risk taking and self control  are valued, not violence based or used against individuals or groups. I believe the military is violence based under the guise of words as protection, defense, and patriotism. The military is no place for a developing brain.

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment


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