1 Out Of 3 Dogs And Cats Are Overweight And It’s Costing Us

They say over time you and your dog may start looking like each other, as the BBC reported. Well, at first glance, dogs and cats seem to be just mirroring the human obesity epidemic. Over the past decade, dogs and cats have been getting more and more overweight, according to the recently released Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2017 State of Pet Health. However, a closer look suggests that dogs and cats aren’t just simply mirroring their owners. The geographic distribution of overweight dogs and cats is not quite the same as the geographic distribution of overweight humans.

The Banfield report summarized their BARK Research Team‘s analyses of data on over 2.5 million dogs and 505,000 cats from Banfield’s 975 veterinary hospitals that span 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Based on the report, since 2007, the number of overweight dogs has increased by 158%. And cat lovers have gotten more cat per cat with a 169% increase in the number of overweight cats.

Now, more cat per cat may seem great for Instagram pictures or YouTube videos showing a Garfield-like cat rolling around like a beach ball. Just search YouTube for “fat cat” and you’ll get plenty of videos such as this one:

But being overweight hurts your cat (or your dog if you swing that way). As with humans, obesity has serious health consequences for dogs and cats but what’s even worse is that they may be suffering in silence because you don’t speak cat or dog. You can’t hear your cat or dog saying “ugh, walking up those stairs was tough” or “I feel terrible” or “this is really affecting my self-esteem” or “you suck as an owner.” As with humans, obesity can increase the risk of numerous chronic diseases among cats and dogs such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or various respiratory diseases. Indeed, the report found an 82% increase in arthritis and an 83% increase in tracheal collapse among dogs.

Therefore, just like the human obesity epidemic, the dog and cat obesity epidemic is costing people more money as quantified by the Banfield report. Over a four year period, owners of an overweight dog spend 17% more in healthcare costs and 25% more on medications. That’s a total of $2,026 more per year. For overweight cats, owners spend 36% more on diagnostic procedures and $1,178 more overall per year.

Doesn’t this sound just like the human obesity epidemic…except that the magnitude and costs of the human epidemic are much higher? Sort of. There may be some differences. As Karin Brulliard reports for the Washington Post, the map of dog and cat obesity doesn’t seem to match that of human obesity exactly. For example, Minnesota had the highest percentage of overweight dogs (41%) and cats (46%), even though Minnesota has lower obesity rates than about half the states in U.S. as this map on the MinnPost shows. Nebraska had the second highest dog and cat overweight rates (39% and 43%) while states like Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, which have had some of highest human obesity and overweight rates, ranked on the exact opposite end of the pet list.

Follow me on Twitter @bruce_y_lee and visit our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC)at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read my other Forbes pieces here.


Plague Is Found in New Mexico. Again.

The New Mexico Department of Health said this week that two women were found to have plague, bringing the total number of people this year in the state known to have the disease to three.

All three patients — a 63-year-old man and two women, ages 52 and 62 — were treated at hospitals in the Santa Fe area and released after a few days, said Paul Rhien, a health department spokesman.

Health officials in New Mexico have more experience with plague than many might expect: Every year for the last few years, a handful of people in New Mexico have come down with plague. One person has died.

While the word “plague” may conjure images of medieval cities laid to waste by the Black Death, the disease is still a part of the modern world. It is much less common than it once was, but it is no less serious.


What Is Plague?

Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which humans get when they are bitten by rodent-riding fleas. It decimated European cities during the Middle Ages, killing tens of millions of people, but today is found mostly in rural areas.

There are three main types of plague in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: bubonic plague, pneumonic plague and septicemic plague. All three share general symptoms — like fever, weakness and chills — but each subtype carries its own fearsome markers.

Pneumonic plague causes a rapid and severe form of pneumonia that can lead to respiratory failure and shock. It is the only type that can be spread person-to-person through the air if someone inhales infected water droplets.

Septicemic plague, which attacks a person’s blood cells, can cause skin or other tissue to turn black and die, especially on the extremities, like hands and feet. It is caused by either an infected flea bite or by handling an infected animal.

Bubonic plague is the best-known and common form of the disease. It is marked by the sudden appearance of bulbously swollen and painful lymph nodes (called buboes) in the groin or armpits.

How Deadly Is Plague?

It can be very deadly. Fifty to 60 percent of the cases of bubonic plague are fatal if they are not treated quickly, according to the World Health Organization.

Paul Ettestad, the public health veterinarian for New Mexico, said plague can be treated with antibiotics like gentamicin and doxycycline, but it is important to catch it fast.

Pneumonic and septicemic plague can be more serious. The World Health Organization described them as “invariably fatal,” but there are some people who have survived these forms of the disease.

In 2002, a married couple from New Mexico contracted plague at home and developed symptoms while they were on vacation in New York. One of the patients, John Tull, developed septicemic plague.
Mr. Tull’s kidneys nearly failed, and tissue in his feet and hands turned black and began to die. He was placed in a three-month medically induced coma and doctors amputated both his legs below the knee, but he survived.

How Common Is Plague?

Plague is a lot less common now than it was in centuries past, when millions died in repeated plague epidemics. From 2000 through 2009, there were 21,725 reported cases of plague worldwide, according to the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Of those, 1,612 were fatal.

Most cases of plague diagnosed since the 1990s have been in Africa, particularly Congo and Madagascar, although outbreaks have also happened in Asia and North and South America.

The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene said 56 plague cases were found in the United States — seven of them fatal — from 2000 through 2009, the last year for which figures were available.

Why Does It Keep Happening in New Mexico?

Plague arrived in the United States around 1900 on ships from China and soon jumped from fleas on urban rodents to fleas on rural rodents, Mr. Ettestad said.

It is now “entrenched” in large swaths of the western United States, with most cases occurring in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California, Oregon and Nevada, according to the C.D.C.

Plague in New Mexico has been especially persistent, Mr. Ettestad said. The state health department said it was found in four people in 2015, with one death. Four more people were found to have it in 2016; all were successfully treated.

Mr. Ettestad said there were environmental reasons that plague kept popping up in New Mexico. The area is home to vegetation like pinyon and juniper trees, which, he said, support “a wide diversity of rodents and fleas.”

That means that once plague has decimated one rodent species — say, the prairie dog — there are lots of other rodent species nearby it can jump to, like the rock squirrel.

“A lot of people have rock squirrels in their yard, and when they die, their fleas are very good at biting people,” Mr. Ettestad said. “We have had a number of people who got plague after they were bitten by a flea that their dog or cat brought in the house.”

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Plague?

Medical authorities are unanimous on this: If you live or have recently returned from any area where plague is found (like New Mexico) and you develop symptoms of the disease, then you should immediately go to a doctor or hospital.

Mom of boy with rare disorder shares photo of astronomical hospital bill


The mother of a young boy with a rare disorder is speaking out about the Senate Republicans’ proposed health care bill, which would give states the ability to reinstate a lifetime “insurance cap” — an act that would devastate her family.

Alison Chandra’s 2-year-old son, Ethan, was born with a rare condition called heterotaxy syndrome.

According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the beginning of the word (hetero-) means “different” and the end (–taxy) means “arrangement.”

Quite literally, heterotaxy syndrome results in one’s organs growing in a different arrangement than they are supposed to.

In Ethan’s particular case, his heart is badly malformed, he has two left lungs and around five spleens, his stomach is located on the right side of his body instead of the left, and his liver, gallbladder and heart are all aligned down the center of his torso.

On Friday, Chandra took to Twitter to explain why the Better Care Reconciliation Act would be a death sentence for Ethan — and her series of tweets has since gone viral.

“It seems fitting that, with the #TrumpCare debate raging, I got this bill in the mail today from Ethan’s most recent open heart surgery,” she wrote alongside a photo of an astronomical bill.

Chandra calculated that she would have had to pay $231,115 out of pocket for her son’s surgery without help from insurance, a bill impossible to foot by the average American.

And that was just for one procedure. As Chandra points out, patients like her son often need countless operations and prescriptions to keep them alive.

“He’s had four of these surgeries, some more involved than others. The one before this had him in the CICU for three weeks,” Chandra wrote. “We’re hopeful that going forwards he’ll need fewer and smaller surgeries, but this was not the last time they’ll open his chest.”

The former nurse, who had to stop working after her sick son was born in order to take care of him, continued on to say that without the help of insurance, her family could ultimately be faced with an impossible decision — bankruptcy or their son’s life.

“If this bill is passed, it will depend on how NJ government reacts in terms of safeguarding families like ours,” Chandra told BuzzFeed News in an interview. “Worst case scenario, Ethan will lose coverage or his coverage will become unaffordable (which is the same thing).”

Chandra says her family’s ultimate fallback plan is to move to Canada to seek care for her son, since her husband is a Canadian citizen.

But even then, Ethan would have to leave his long-time physicians who have a deep understanding of the way his particular case of heterotaxy syndrome needs to be treated.

Chandra also argued that the health care bill could mean death for people in similar situations that have no such backup plan.

“A lifetime cap on benefits is the same as saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not worth keeping alive anymore. You’re just too expensive,'” she wrote.

“Tell that to the boy who just tucked a sick firefly into bed with a leaf blanket and told me to keep the light on so he wouldn’t be scared.”

“Tell that to the boy who picks me bouquets of sticks instead of flowers because he loves them better so he’s sure I will too.”


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“Look my son in the eyes and tell him that he’s fought so hard to be here but sorry, you’re just not worth it anymore,” she ender her emotional plea. “I dare you.”

More health problems reported from cosmetic products

(CNN) Complaints of adverse health events related to cosmetic and personal care products more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The majority of those complaints stemmed from hair care products.
Northwestern University researchers looked at complaints collected by the Food and Drug Administration from 2004 to 2016. The information came from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Adverse Event Reporting System, which allows consumers or health care professionals to submit complaints about harm caused by using cosmetic products.
The study found that there were 706 related adverse events reported in 2015 and 1,591 in 2016. Compared with the average number of reports across the 12-year study period, that’s a 78% increase in 2015 and a 300% increase in 2016.
However, the lead study author, Dr. Steve Xu, believes the number of adverse health events is probably much higher and more data are needed.
“These numbers are likely underreported. We need better reporting, from both consumers and clinicians,” Xu said. “Broadly, the hope of our paper was to continue this discussion to modernize and expand the collection of data about personal care products. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, was our key point.”
The study authors largely attribute increases in reported adverse health events to WEN by Chaz Dean hair care products. In 2014, the FDA announced that it was investigating WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products because it had received complaints of hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching and rash. As of November, the FDA had received 1,386 complaints of adverse health events from these products.
In the course of the investigation, the FDA discovered that Chaz Dean Inc. and parent company Guthy Renker LLC had received more than 21,000 complaints. However, under current regulations, the companies are not required to report these complaints to the FDA.
Although the FDA investigation is ongoing, the WEN conditioning products have not been pulled from the market. The FDA has no authority to recall cosmetics products, although it can recommend recalls.
Manufacturers also do not have to receive approval from the FDA before cosmetics go on sale.
In an email, the FDA said that “The law does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information, including consumer complaints, with the FDA. FDA’s data on cosmetic adverse events are limited because reporting is voluntary. The FDA may take regulatory action against cosmetics on the market that do not comply with the laws we enforce, if we have reliable information indicating that a cosmetic is adulterated or misbranded.”
Xu said he still thinks most cosmetics are OK to use.
“When it comes to cosmetics on the shelves that are dangerous, it’s very hard to prove,” Xu said. “In general, cosmetics are a very safe product class.”
The Personal Care Products Council said in a statement that it “believes that mandatory adverse event reporting is critically important, which is why we have long advocated for it on Capitol Hill.” The council is a national trade association representing the cosmetic and personal care products industry.
“Nevertheless, despite the recent increase in reporting, the fact remains that only a very small percentage of cosmetics products on the market are associated with adverse events. And of those, a fraction are listed as ‘serious,’ ” the council said. “In other words, even with the increase, adverse reactions associated with cosmetics and personal care products are extremely rare.”
Dr. Robert Califf, former head of the FDA, said the root of these complaints lies in the FDA’s limited ability to regulate cosmetics.
“For cosmetics — and for dietary supplements — the FDA’s oversight authority remains stuck at the levels established in 1938, nearly 80 years ago,” Califf said in an editorial accompanying the study in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-California, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced a bill in May that would require further regulation of personal care products. If passed, the bill will require the FDA to test certain ingredients. It would also give the agency authority to issue recalls and require more complete product labels and warnings from manufacturers.
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Kim Harley, associate director at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health, said this kind of regulation, if enforced, could help the FDA learn more about the long-term health effects of cosmetics, which still remain largely unknown.
“When you think about harmful chemicals, you can think of two levels,” Harley said. “You can think of acute harm and chronic exposure. Acute would be ‘I use a cosmetic product, and I get this rash that’s almost immediate, or hair loss, or something like that.’ It’s an extreme reaction that’s happening so close in time to when you use the product, it seems it’s linked to the use of this product.”
Harley, who emphasized that most cosmetics are not harmful, says acute events are most likely the kind reported in the Northwestern study.
“On the other hand, there are chemicals that might, if we use them every day over a long period of time, have small, long-term impacts on our health,” said Harley, who conducts research on the effects of chemical hormone disruptors in cosmetics but was not affiliated with the new study.
“These effects may not be obvious on a day-to-day basis, but you know if you’ve been using this product for 20 years of your life, maybe it would have some sort of health impact over the long-term. And this is why we need more research. With these long-term health impacts, there’s so much we don’t know.”
In the meantime, the FDA encourages consumers and professionals to report any adverse events.

Senate Health Bill Reels as C.B.O. Predicts 22 Million More Uninsured

WASHINGTON — The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was edging toward collapse on Monday after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said it would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026.

Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Monday that they would vote against even debating the health care bill, joining Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who made the same pledge on Friday. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hinted that he, too, would probably oppose taking up the bill on a procedural vote expected as early as Tuesday, meaning a collapse could be imminent.

“It’s worse to pass a bad bill than pass no bill,” Mr. Paul told reporters.

Ms. Collins wrote on Twitter on Monday evening that she wanted to work with her colleagues from both parties to fix flaws in the Affordable Care Act, but that the budget office’s report showed that the “Senate bill won’t do it.”

The report left Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, with the unenviable choices of changing senators’ stated positions, withdrawing the bill from consideration while he renegotiates, or letting it go down to defeat — a remarkable conclusion to the Republicans’ seven-year push to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

But the budget office put Republicans in an untenable position. It found that next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law. Premiums and out-of-pocket expenses could shoot skyward for some low-income people and for people nearing retirement, it said.

The legislation would decrease federal deficits by a total of $321 billion over a decade, the budget office said.

Mr. McConnell, who is the chief author of the bill, wanted the Senate to approve it before a planned recess for the Fourth of July, but that looks increasingly doubtful. Misgivings in the Republican conference extend beyond just a few of the most moderate and conservative members, and Mr. McConnell can lose only two Republicans.

At least some of Ms. Collins’s concerns could be shared by Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, whose rural states would face effects similar to those in Maine.

“If you were on the fence, you were looking at this as a political vote, this C.B.O. score didn’t help you,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “So I think it’s going to be harder to get to 50, not easier.”

He added, “I don’t know, if you delayed it for six weeks, if anything changes.”

Under the bill, the budget office said, subsidies to help people buy health insurance would be “substantially smaller than under current law.” And deductibles would, in many cases, be higher. Starting in 2020, the budget office said, premiums and deductibles would be so onerous that “few low-income people would purchase any plan.”

Moreover, the report said, premiums for older people would be much higher under the Senate bill than under current law. As an example, it said, for a typical 64-year-old with an annual income of $26,500, the net premium in 2026 for a midlevel silver plan, after subsidies, would average $6,500, compared with $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act. And the insurance would cover less of the consumer’s medical costs.

Likewise, the report said, for a 64-year-old with an annual income of $56,800, the premium in 2026 would average $20,500 a year, or three times the amount expected under the Affordable Care Act.

The budget office report was a major setback to Senate Republican leaders, but it was too early to declare the legislation dead, and turmoil in health insurance markets could still induce Congress to take action this year. Many people thought the House repeal bill was dead after Speaker Paul D. Ryan pulled it from the floor on March 24, but a slightly revised version was narrowly approved by the House six weeks later.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Republican leadership, suggested that leaders would press forward with the Senate bill. He said that an argument could be made for delaying it “if you thought you were going to get a better policy,” but that that was not the case.

“This is the best we can do to try and satisfy all the different perspectives in our conference,” Mr. Thune said, adding that he did not think the politics would improve by waiting. “It’s time to fish or cut bait.”

The White House discounted the report, saying the Congressional Budget Office had “consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how health care legislation will impact insurance coverage.”

The Trump administration says the Senate Republican bill would not cut Medicaidbecause spending would still grow from year to year. But the Congressional Budget Office said that the bill would reduce projected Medicaid spending by a total of $772 billion in the coming decade, and that the number of people covered by Medicaid in 2026 would be 15 million lower than under current law.

In 2026, it said, Medicaid spending would be 26 percent lower than under current law, and enrollment of people under 65 would be 16 percent lower. And beyond 2026, Medicaid enrollment would continue to decline compared with what would happen under current law.

The Senate bill would make it much easier for states to obtain waivers exempting them from certain federal insurance standards, like those that require insurers to provide a minimum set of health benefits. The budget office said that nearly half of all Americans could be affected by these cutbacks in “essential benefits,” and that as a result, coverage for maternity care, mental health care, rehabilitation services and certain very expensive drugs “could be at risk.”

Before the budget office released its report on Monday, the American Medical Association had announced its opposition to the bill, and the National Governors Association had cautioned the Senate against moving too quickly.

The budget office’s findings immediately gave fodder to Democrats, who were already assailing the bill as cruel. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said Senate Republicans had been saying for weeks that their bill would be an improvement over the House bill, which President Trump had described as “mean.”

“C.B.O.’s report today makes clear that this bill is every bit as mean as the House bill,” Mr. Schumer said. “This C.B.O. report should be the end of the road for Trumpcare. Republicans would be wise to read it like a giant stop sign, urging them to turn back from this path that would be disastrous for the country, for middle-class Americans and for their party.”

The criticism was not confined to the Democratic caucus. Mr. Johnson, one of five Senate Republicans who came out against the bill unveiled last week, told a radio host that Senate leaders were “trying to jam this thing through.” He, too, suggested he would not vote even to begin debating the bill.

“I have a hard time believing I’ll have enough information for me to support a motion to proceed this week,” Mr. Johnson said later on Monday.

Beyond the number of Americans without health insurance, the Senate bill’s $321 billion in deficit reduction is larger than the $119 billion total that the budget office found for the bill that passed the House.

Earlier Monday afternoon, Senate Republican leaders altered their bill to penalize people who go without health insurance by requiring them to wait six months before their coverage would begin. Insurers would generally be required to impose the waiting period on people who lacked coverage for more than about two months in the previous year.

The waiting-period proposal was meant to address a notable omission in the Senate’s bill: The measure would end the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that nearly all Americans have health insurance, but it would also require insurers to accept anyone who applied. The waiting period is supposed to prevent people from waiting until they get sick to buy a health plan. Insurers need large numbers of healthy people, whose premiums help defray the cost of care for those who are sick.

Under one of the most unpopular provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the government can impose tax penalties on people who go without health coverage. Republicans have denounced this as government coercion.

The repeal bill passed by the House last month has a different kind of incentive. It would impose a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for people who have gone without insurance.

Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday that Republican senators were working hard to pass their repeal bill but were not getting any help from Democrats.

“Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn!” Mr. Trump wrote, reiterating his assertion that the Affordable Care Act would be doomed if Congress did not come to its rescue.

Number of drug addicts in Iran doubles in six years

TEHRAN, Iran — The number of drug addicts in Iran has more than doubled in six years, with opium the country’s most popular narcotic, local media reported Sunday.

“There are about 2.8 million people regularly consuming drugs” in the country of 80 million people, Drug Control Organization spokesman Parviz Afshar told the ISNA news agency.

Citing experts from the health ministry, Iran’s Welfare Organization and his own agency, Afshar said the number of drug users was up from 1.3 million six years ago.

He said opium made up 67 percent of consumption, with marijuana and its derivatives accounting for 12 percent and methamphetamine around 8 percent of the total.

“Opium is still the most popular (drug) and methamphetamine use has dropped significantly,” he said.

In this Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 photo, drug addicts sleep in their chairs at drop in center and shelter, south of Tehran, Iran. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran’s neighbor Afghanistan produces some 90 percent of the world’s opium, which is extracted from poppy resin and refined to make heroin.

Iran is a major transit point for Afghan-produced opiates heading to Europe and beyond.

Opium production surged significantly after the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and overthrew the ruling Taliban.

By its last year in power, the Taliban had slashed opium output to just 185 tons a year, according to United Nations estimates.

But the UN says Afghan production has since rocketed, hitting between 4,800 and 6,000 tons in 2016.

Last year’s bumper crop, aided by better weather, pushed world opium output up by a third on the previous year and helped fund an intensifying Taliban insurgency.

That is despite a decade of international efforts to stabilize the country and billions of dollars spent on persuading Afghan farmers to grow other crops.

The UN’s crime and drugs agency said Thursday that the global narcotics market is “thriving” with opiates causing tens of thousands of avoidable deaths a year.

Hummus with pine nuts recalled over possible listeria contamination

Marketside classic hummus with pine nuts is among the products being recalled.

Story highlights

  • Three brands of hummus made by House of Thaller are being recalled
  • The pine nuts may be contaminated with listeria
  • Listeria can cause serious illness, especially in pregnant women and elderly people

(CNN)Three brands of hummus produced by House of Thaller are being recalled for potential listeria contamination. All three brands — Fresh Foods Market, Lantana and Marketside — have pine nuts on top and come in 10-ounce packages.

Knoxville, Tennessee-based House of Thaller is recalling the hummus products because ingredient supplier HVF Inc. informed the company that the roasted pine nuts may be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes.
The products were distributed from April 18 to June 13 in the United States and on April 20 in Canada.
Lantana white bean hummus with pine nut and herb topping.

Fresh Foods Market artisan hummus with pine nuts.

Consumers can check whether their product has been recalled by looking at the “USE BY” date and lot code, which starts with the letter W, on the top. The full list of expiration dates and codes is available on the US Food and Drug Administration’s website.
Listeria monocytogenes can cause a serious infection called listeriosis if people eat food contaminated with the bacterium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 1,600 people get listeriosis every year, and about 260 die from the infection. Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches, confusion and loss of balance.
Pregnant women, the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems are at a much higher risk of problems from listeriosis. Listeria has been known to cause miscarriages, stillbirths and premature delivery in pregnant women.
There have been no reports of consumers becoming ill from the hummus. However, anyone who has bought one of the recalled products should not eat it, and those with more questions can contact the House of Thaller Customer Service Center at 855-215-5142.
“No other brands or flavor varieties produced at our manufacturing plant are affected by this recall,” House of Thaller said in the recall announcement.

Huge Alzheimer’s breakthrough stuns scientists

Huge Alzheimer’s breakthrough stuns scientists

Scientists have just made a massive discovery that could have major implications for fighting dementia in old age.

Scientists have just made what could be the most important discovery about brains in a very long time, as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in a report released this past week that exercise, controlling blood pressure, and some brain training may be the magic formula to preventing mental decline, Alzheimer’s or dementia in old age.

While there are no proven ways to keep this mental deterioration from happening, this new report is an exciting indication that we may have more power to stop cognitive decline than we think. However, the government will need to do more research before such strategies are pushed as a viable method for ordinary citizens.

At the very least, these three strategies appear to do no harm, and at least two are really good for you even if they ultimately don’t work for preventing dementia. The report is based on a belief that changes in the brain begin long before symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other diseases, and it’s possible to catch the disease early on.

Cognitive training, blood pressure management for people with hypertension, and increased physical activity all show modest but inconclusive evidence that they can help prevent cognitive decline and dementia, but there is insufficient evidence to support a public health campaign encouraging their adoption, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Additional research is needed to further understand and gain confidence in their effectiveness, said the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.

“There is good cause for hope that in the next several years much more will be known about how to prevent cognitive decline and dementia, as more clinical trial results become available and more evidence emerges,” said Alan I. Leshner, chair of the committee and CEO emeritus, American Association for the Advancement of Science. “Even though clinical trials have not conclusively supported the three interventions discussed in our report, the evidence is strong enough to suggest the public should at least have access to these results to help inform their decisions about how they can invest their time and resources to maintain brain health with aging.”

An earlier systematic review published in 2010 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and an associated “state of the science” conference at the National Institutes of Health had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to make recommendations about any interventions to prevent cognitive decline and dementia. Since then, understanding of the pathological processes that result in dementia has advanced significantly, and a number of clinical trials of potential preventive interventions have been completed and published. In 2015, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) contracted with AHRQ to conduct another systematic review of the current evidence. NIA also asked the National Academies to convene an expert committee to help inform the design of the AHRQ review and then use the results to make recommendations to inform the development of public health messaging, as well as recommendations for future research. This report examines the most recent evidence on steps that can be taken to prevent, slow, or delay the onset of mild cognitive impairment and clinical Alzheimer’s-type dementia as well as steps that can delay or slow age-related cognitive decline.

Overall, the committee determined that despite an array of advances in understanding cognitive decline and dementia, the available evidence on interventions derived from randomized controlled trials – considered the gold standard of evidence – remains relatively limited and has significant shortcomings. Based on the totality of available evidence, however, the committee concluded that three classes of interventions can be described as supported by encouraging but inconclusive evidence. These interventions are:

cognitive training – which includes programs aimed at enhancing reasoning and problem solving, memory, and speed of processing – to delay or slow age-related cognitive decline. Such structured training exercises may or may not be computer-based. blood pressure management for people with hypertension – to prevent, delay, or slow clinical Alzheimer’s-type dementia. increased physical activity – to delay or slow age-related cognitive decline.

Cognitive training has been the object of considerable interest and debate in both the academic and commercial sectors, particularly within the last 15 years. Good evidence shows that cognitive training can improve performance on a trained task, at least in the short term. However, debate has centered on evidence for long-term benefits and whether training in one domain, such as processing speed, yields benefits in others, such as in memory and reasoning, and if this can translate to maintaining independence in instrumental activities of daily living, such as driving and remembering to take medications. Evidence from one randomized controlled trial suggests that cognitive training delivered over time and in an interactive context can improve long-term cognitive function as well as help maintain independence in instrumental activities of daily living for adults with normal cognition. However, results from other randomized controlled trials that tested cognitive training were mixed.

Managing blood pressure for people with hypertension, particularly during midlife – generally ages 35 to 65 years – is supported by encouraging but inconclusive evidence for preventing, delaying, and slowing clinical Alzheimer’s-type dementia, the committee said. The available evidence, together with the strong evidence for blood pressure management in preventing stroke and cardiovascular disease and the relative benefit/risk ratio of antihypertensive medications and lifestyle interventions, is sufficient to justify communication with the public regarding the use of blood pressure management, particularly during midlife, for preventing, delaying, and slowing clinical Alzheimer’s-type dementia, the report says.

It is well-documented that physical activity has many health benefits, and some of these benefits – such as stroke prevention – are causally related to brain health. The AHRQ systematic review found that the pattern of randomized controlled trials results across different types of physical activity interventions provides an indication of the effectiveness of increased physical activity in delaying or slowing age-related cognitive decline, although these results were not consistently positive. However, several other considerations led the committee to conclude that the evidence is sufficient to justify communicating to the public that increased physical activity for delaying or slowing age-related cognitive decline is supported by encouraging but inconclusive evidence.

None of the interventions evaluated in the AHRQ systematic review met the criteria for being supported by high-strength evidence, based on the quality of randomized controlled trials and the lack of consistently positive results across independent studies. This limitation suggests the need for additional research as well as methodological improvements in the future research. The National Institutes of Health and other interested organizations should support further research to strengthen the evidence base on cognitive training, blood pressure management, and increased physical activity, the committee said. Examples of research priorities for these three classes of interventions include evaluating the comparative effectiveness of different forms of cognitive training interventions; determining whether there are optimal blood pressure targets and approaches across different age ranges; and comparing the effects of different forms of physical activity.

When funding research on preventing cognitive decline and dementia, the National Institutes of Health and other interested organizations should identify individuals who are at higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia; increase participation of underrepresented populations; begin more interventions at younger ages and have longer follow-up periods; use consistent cognitive outcome measures across trials to enable pooling; integrate robust cognitive outcome measures into trials with other primary purposes; include biomarkers as intermediate outcomes; and conduct large trials designed to test the effectiveness of an intervention in broad, routine clinical practices or community settings.

The study was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

Saudi Arabia, Waging War in Yemen, Gives It $66.7 Million in Cholera Relief (LOL….)

The newly elevated crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who as defense minister has led the country’s bombing and blockades of Yemen, showed his charitable side on Friday with a $66.7 million donation to fight the cholera outbreak in that country.

The donation authorized by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was announced by the ruling family’s charity, the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, which said the money would go to Unicef and the World Health Organization in response to their urgent pleas.

Accounts in the state-guided Saudi news media said “the donation is an initiative of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and accelerates the Kingdom’s substantial humanitarian efforts in Yemen.”

In a statement, Unicef said that it welcomed the infusion of Saudi money and that “we look forward to discussing this contribution” with the kingdom’s royal charity.

Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, said in an email: “W.H.O. welcomes all offers of support that would alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people. As with all funding we receive, these funds will be used in line with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, humanity and independence.”

The donation was among the first prominent actions of the crown prince, the 31-year-old son of King Salman, since he was abruptly promoted to first in the line of succession on Wednesday, bypassing his older rival, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and upending decades of royal custom.

It was unclear whether the money was a direct donation from the personal fortune of the crown prince, who like other members of the royal family is enormously wealthy. But $66.7 million would not necessarily be considered an onerous sum for the crown prince, who as deputy crown prince spent $550 million in 2015 to buy a yacht from a Russian vodka tycoon.

Unicef and other humanitarian groups have expressed growing alarm about the rapid spread of cholera in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, where the health care system has collapsed because of the war. A Saudi-led coalition began bombing the country more than two years ago after Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized the capital and evicted the Saudi-backed government.

The bombing campaign, which Crown Prince Mohammed has overseen as defense minister, has made only limited progress.

At the same time, the Saudis have faced growing criticism from human rights groups, which have accused them of indiscriminate bombings and air and sea blockades that have destroyed what is left of Yemen’s economy and worsened the humanitarian disaster there.

As many as 300,000 Yemenis could be infected with cholera in the coming weeks, half of them children, Unicef officials have said. Since the outbreak was declared two months ago, more than 1,265 people have died, Unicef’s resident representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relaño, told reporters in a conference call on Friday.

The Middle East regional director of Unicef, Geert Cappelaere, said last week that the agency had been so desperate to contain the cholera crisis in Yemen that it had taken the unusual step of paying the country’s doctors and nurses, who have not been paid in months.

Mr. Cappelaere said it was the worst cholera outbreak he had seen in Yemen and “just comes on top of what already was an incredibly daunting situation.”

Yemen is also facing a famine and a growing population of young children with severe malnutrition problems.

Cholera, once a common scourge of poor countries, is a bacterial disease spread by contaminated water that can cause fatal dehydration if left untreated.

The #1 Killer In The US: The Heart Disease Rates of Meat-Eaters Versus Vegetarians
By Arjun Walia of Collective Evolution

Please be advised that there are multiple, heavily soured articles at the bottom of this one with a wealth of information about vegetarian/vegan diets. Please check them out if you’re interested and want to further your research.

Proper nutrition is essential for good health, and it’s disturbing how little doctors learn about it in medical school. As a result, they are unable to educate their patients on how to use nutrition to improve their health, or they offer advice based on science paid for by food corporations. The studies in this area are also not as strong as they could be, and that’s simply because they modern day medical industry is very invested in chemical medication.

The scientific literature these corporations use to indoctrinate us from an early age has been exposed as fraudulent, as countless studies have emerged showing the many problems with the modern day diet, which is the generally accepted diet. The problems with mass marketing and the manipulation of science require serious attention. After all, what exactly are we supposed to think when multiple editors-in-chief of peer-reviewed journals come out and blatantly say most of the research published these days is completely false? What are we supposed to think when new publications constantly offer a different narrative than the ones presented by major food corporations?

A recent FOIA investigation actually uncovered documents that show how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manipulates media and science press. This is hardly a surprise, as government agencies have long been involved with media manipulation, and several mainstream media journalists and news anchors have revealed this fact time and time again.

So, have we been completely misguided about nutrition and human nutritional requirements, which is why it’s so great to see more and more people becoming aware of this fact and taking their health into their own hands. It’s not a mystery why disease rates keep rising. While there are multiple factors at play here, the evidence points to mass meat consumption as a major one.

A Healthy Heart and How It Relates to Diet

Studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.” (source)

From a scientific/biological perspective, the benefits of a meatless diet are inarguable. It makes one wonder why there is such a harsh resistance to this lifestyle. Skeptics will often point to the theory that we’ve been doing it this way for thousands of years, but that’s not true. Many experts in that field have repeatedly argued that our ancestral diets were mostly plant-based, that meat was a ‘rare treat,’ and that our digestive systems aren’t really built for digesting meat on a daily basis.  Some of our ancestors had, as anthropologist Katherine Milton describes them, “different yet successful diets.” She says  some hunter-gatherer societies obtained almost all of their dietary energy from plants, and others obtained it from “wild animal fat and protein,” but that “does not imply that this is the ideal diet for modern humans, nor does it imply that modern humans have genetic adaptations to such diets.” (source)

An article by Rob Dunn written for Scientific American titled “Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians” explores this issue from an evolutionary perspective, revealing how our guts might be evolved to perform best on a vegetarian diet, with perhaps the occasional piece of meat here and there as a rare treat.

The point is, it’s not all cut and dry like we’ve been made to believe.

There are many aspects to good health, and a vegan/vegetarian diet has proven to have benefits in several different areas. It’s particularly notable when we look at heart health. The number one cause for death in the United States, it is directly impacted by diet.

Our standard American diet, also known as SAD, has put our country at the top of the list in the world for obesity, which increases the risk for serious health problems. Overwhelming scientific evidence links the consumption of meat and meat products to numerous diseases. . . . The World Health Organization (WHO) now places red and processed meat at the same danger level as cigarettes and asbestos. Meat is the new tobacco.” – Dr. Joanne Kong (source)

Take a look at the graphic below regarding heart disease, the number one killer of Americans today. The risk of death from heart disease is significantly lower in vegetarians, and even lower in vegans.

Even the American Dietetic Association has weighed in with a position paper, concluding that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

These diseases include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and more.

There is a lot of science to back this up now, so much so that even the President of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kim A. Williams, has adopted a vegan diet. Talk about heart health…

He often sees patients who are overweight and struggling with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. One of the things he advises them to do specifically is to go vegan. He is also the Chairman of Cardiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. His enthusiasm for a planet-based diet comes from his interpretation of medical literature, having cited several studies proving that people who pursue vegetarian diets live longer than meat eaters and have lower rates of death from heart disease, diabetes, and kidney problems. (source)

It’s great to see more and more professionals realize this, as the science shows that a vegan/vegetarian diet can halt and even reverse multiple diseases.

Research carried out by Dr. Dean Ornish, who found that patients who were put on a program that included a vegetarian diet had less coronary plaque and fewer cardiac events, is also commonly cited.

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

Another heart surgeon who has done a lot for awareness, Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, explains:

Veganism is a very fine form of nutrition. It’s a little extreme to tell a person who is using flesh foods that you’re going to take everything entirely away from them. When I was in practice in medicine, I would tell the patients that the vegetable-based diet was the healthy way to go, and to keep away from the animal products as much as possible. People are very sensitive about what they eat. You can talk to people about exercising  relaxation, good mental attitude and they will accept that. But you talk to them about what they are eating and people are very sensitive about that. If an individual is willing to listen, I will try to explain to them on a scientific basis of how I think it’s better for them.”  (source)

This trend is inciting further scientific inquiry as its popularity grows. At least 542,000 people in Britain now follow a vegan diet — up from 150,000 in 2006 —  and another 521,000 vegetarians hope to reduce their consumption of animal products. It is evident that veganism has become one of the fastest growing lifestyle choices.

One of the most comprehensive studies ever performed on this subject is “The China Study,” conducted by Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas Campbell. Their findings showed direct correlations between nutrition and heart-disease, diabetes, and cancer, proving that cultures that eat primarily plant-based diets have lower to no instances of these diseases and that switching to a plant-based diet can successfully reverse diseases already established in the body.

The Common Criticisms of This Type of Lifestyle Change

[…] The problem with many of the truths we hold as universal, not just about nutrition, but all aspects of our world, is that we’ve been bombarded with beliefs from biased sources for years and then accepted those believes as truth. And when someone believes something for a long enough time, if they encounter information that conflicts with that belief system, they do everything in their power to defend it. It’s called cognitive dissonance, and it’s why it can be extremely difficult to talk to a meat-eater about the benefits of veganism/vegetarianism.

The bottom line is, humans do not require meat, and a vegan/vegetarian diet, or a diet severely restricted in meat consumption, is a far healthier option.

This growing awareness is part of a shift in human consciousness that’s taking place on several different levels. Transparency is emerging within not only the food industry, but our health industry, the financial industry, our political systems, and more. We are finally learning that the truth truth regarding so many different topics has been skewed.

Please check out the articles below:

Plant Based Protein vs. Protein From Meat, Which One Is Better For Your Body?

9 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat

What Would Native American Wisdom Say About Going Vegan or Vegetarian: Would It Agree or Disagree

Scientists Say You’ll Get Your Protein From Plants Not meat, If You Want To Be Healthier

Meet Dr. Heather Skenkman, The Ironman Triathlete Vegan Cardiologist

This article originally appeared on Collective Evolution.