This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.

Many staff members of most NGO’s that work in foreign countries are citizens if those countries. Such is the case with Haiti, where over 85% of MSF’s staff, medical and non-medical, are Haitian. They did so despite the losses they and their families suffered. Geraldine Augustin is one of those who is caring for her fellow Haitians.

Like thousands of Haitians, Geraldine Augustin started helping people just after the disaster. She is a young, passionate and energetic medical student who has just joined MSF. She belongs to the almost 1,500 Haitian staff employed by MSF in the country and who make our medical activities possible. She works in an MSF post-operative structure set in what used to be a girls school. She tells us about her life and work after the earthquake:

“I am Geraldine Augustin and I am finishing my medical studies. On the 12th January I was headed to university for a class. Suddenly the earth started to shake and the next second all the houses were under the earth, there were dead and injured people everywhere. I was lucky enough not to get hurt, but my mother was killed.”

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.  

General Medicine/Family Medical

6 malaria cases reported for US soldiers in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A U.S. military spokesman in Haiti says six American soldiers involved in the aid mission have come down with malaria.

Malaria is one of the many diseases that is neglected by the pharmaceutical companies because it affects mostly people in third world countries and is not profitable.

Big hearts may mean trouble in cross-country skiers

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Like many other top athletes, Harald Sjoelshagen, a 66-year-old Norwegian, has an enlarged heart. When doctors noticed it in the early 1960s, he was already training hard, skiing or running almost every day. He didn’t need to worry, they told him, because he showed no sign of underlying disease.

So for the next 45 years, he strapped on his Fischer cross-country skis almost every March to compete in Norway’s Birkebeiner ski marathon, slightly longer than the 31 miles facing contestants on Sunday in this year’s Winter Olympics.

Stents, surgery both prevent strokes: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A newer, less invasive approach to preventing strokes using a device called a stent proved to be as safe and worked just about as well as surgery, U.S. researchers said on Friday, a finding that may be a boon to medical device makers.

For many years, surgery has been the preferred way to clear away dangerous fatty deposits in neck arteries that can cause strokes.

But newer, less invasive approaches using angioplasty and stents have been approved for use in higher-risk patients, stirring debate over which approach is best.

Stomach bugs up risk of heartburn woes years later

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A serious bout with a tummy bug may mean heartburn years later, new research shows.

Serious bacterial or viral infections of the digestive system-known medically as infectious gastroenteritis-may lead to some cases of irritable bowel syndrome, possibly by causing low-grade inflammation in the intestine, Dr. Alex Ford of McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton, Ontario and his colleagues note.

Study casts doubt on virus link to chronic fatigue

LONDON (Reuters) – Hopes of discovering treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome dimmed on Friday after a new study cast doubt on previous findings that a virus linked to prostate cancer might also be associated with the condition.

A Dutch research team investigated a possible link in a European group of patients with the fatigue disorder, also known as ME, that affects 17 million people worldwide, but found no evidence of the virus, known as XMRV.

Smoke from home fuels tied to emphysema

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People who burn wood or other “biofuels” for heat or cooking may have a heightened risk of emphysema and related lung conditions, a new study suggests.

In an analysis of 15 international studies, researchers found that people exposed to smoke from “biomass” fuels in their homes generally had a greater risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than those who used other sources for cooking and heating.

Got milk intolerance? U.S. experts say it’s unclear

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Many Americans believe they have lactose intolerance and thus avoid dairy products, but no one really knows whether they are damaging their health, experts told a national conference on Wednesday.

In fact, no one has even done the research needed to tell how many people have actual lactose intolerance, which makes it difficult or impossible for them to digest milk, cheese or yogurt, the experts told a “consensus conference” at the National Institutes of Health, a meeting called to define the state of science.

Electric stimulation may help stroke victims swallow

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Tiny electric shocks to the throat may help stroke victims overcome disabling swallowing difficulties, a small British study suggests.

Up to three-fourths of people suffering strokes are left drooling or choking on foods and drinks because brain areas involved in swallowing have been wiped out. Many never recover, and some require a feeding tube.

A bottle of pills to kick the bottle

LONDON (Reuters) – Does this sound like anyone you know? Darryl is 35, has a steady job, a stable home and good marriage, enjoys a few beers in front of the TV most nights — doesn’t have what most people would call a drink problem.

In the United States alone there are probably around 36 million Darryls, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which created the character, played by an actor on its website to help train doctors.

trading one bad habit for a drug induced bad habit. Another ingenious idea from big Pharma to make money.

H1N1/Seasonal Influenza

Children and obese hard hit by swine flu: experts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – People who were morbidly obese and school-aged children were much more likely to become seriously ill or to die from H1N1 swine flu, U.S. experts said on Wednesday.

Preliminary data showed the morbidly obese had four times the rate of hospitalizations and deaths, while the death rate for children was five times higher than usual, experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Findings confirm H1N1 flu’s toll on pregnant women

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – New research from Australia confirms that the HIN1 flu hits pregnant women particularly hard-especially if they have asthma, obesity or diabetes.

“This finding underscores the importance of education regarding recommendations for vaccination in pregnancy and the need for rapid testing and earlier use of antivirals in suspected influenza,” Dr. Michelle L. Giles of Monash Medical Center in Clayton, Victoria, and her colleagues write.

New inhaled drug protects from flu in single dose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A single dose of an experimental influenza drug saves more mice from H5N1 avian influenza than the preferred drug Tamiflu, researchers reported on Thursday, and can also protect against infection.

The tests of Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd’s CS 8958 or laninamivir show one inhaled dose worked better than Tamiflu to keep mice alive when infected with a normally deadly dose.

H1N1 pandemic at less severe end of spectrum: WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) – The current H1N1 swine flu pandemic is relatively less severe than some other influenza outbreaks, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

“This pandemic appears to be on the less severe side of the spectrum of pandemics that we have seen in the 20th century,” the United Nations health agency’s top flu expert, Keiji Fukuda, told a briefing.

Pandemic has not yet peaked, WHO experts advise

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The pandemic of H1N1 swine flu has not yet peaked, a committee of experts advised the World Health Organization on Tuesday.

“The committee advised that it was premature to conclude that all parts of the world have experienced peak transmission of the H1N1 pandemic influenza and that additional time and information was needed to provide expert advice on the status of the pandemic,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said by e-mail.

Women’s Health

Hormone replacement tied to lung cancer risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who use hormone replacement therapy combining estrogen and progestin may have a higher risk of lung cancer than non-users, a new study finds.

Whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) itself is to blame is not certain, researchers say. But the findings add to the complicated mix of potential health effects of HRT.

Soy unlikely to trim body fat after menopause

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Estrogen-like compounds found in soy won’t help limit body fat in post-menopausal women, new research shows.

Animal studies and small studies in humans have offered some evidence that these compounds, known as isoflavones, could help build muscle mass and reduce fat mass, Dr. Oksana A. Matvienko of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls and her colleagues write in the journal Menopause.

Men’s Health

Test allows men to check their sperm count at home

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Home fertility tests aren’t just for women anymore.

A new device that looks a lot like those home ovulation and home pregnancy tests but checks sperm count will soon be available in Europe, and is undergoing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review for marketing in the US.

Single Men Have Higher Risk of Stroke

Feb. 24, 2010 (San Antonio) — Get married! Be happy! Single and unhappily married men are at increased risk of dying from stroke, suggests a study of more than 10,000 men.

After taking into account other stroke risk factors, men who were single in the 1960s were 64% more likely to suffer a fatal stroke over the next three decades than their married counterparts, the study shows.

The risk of fatal stroke was also 64% higher in men who reported dissatisfaction with their marriages than in men who rated their marriages as successful, says Uri Goldbourt, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Pediatric Health

Physically fit students do better academically too: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Getting students to exercise more might not just address obesity issues but also improve their grades with a U.S. study finding physically fit students tend to score higher in tests than their less fit peers.

Test scores dropped more than one point for each extra minute it took middle and high school students to complete a one mile run/walk fitness test, according to Dr. William J. McCarthy and colleagues at the University of California in Los Angeles.


Extended-Release Mirapex Approved for Parkinson’s Disease

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) — Mirapex ER (pramipexole dihydrochloride extended-release) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a once-daily option to treat early Parkinson’s disease, drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim said in a news release.

Mirapex was first approved more than a decade ago. Approval of the extended-release form was based on a clinical study of more than 400 people with early Parkinson’s who were assessed after nine weeks and 18 weeks.

Hospital Stays May Spur Brain Decline in Seniors

TUESDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) — Elderly people who have been hospitalized have an increased risk of cognitive decline.

That’s the finding of U.S. researchers who analyzed data from 1994 through 2007 on 2,929 people, aged 65 and older, who did not have dementia at the start of the study. During an average follow-up of 6.1 years, 1,287 were hospitalized for a non-critical illness and 41 were hospitalized for a critical illness, while 1,601 of the participants were not hospitalized.

Battling Pain: Are Doctors Too Reluctant to Prescribe Opioids?

Pain is one of the most common reasons that people end up in the doctor’s office. And yet, until 1983, the field of pain management did not have its own medical society; today, the specialty still isn’t widely taught in medical schools. For centuries, doctors even debated whether eliminating pain was morally acceptable: would it, for instance, defeat God’s purpose in condemning Eve’s daughters to suffer in childbirth?

Decisions about a patients’ pain treatment are now made much more collaboratively, but even in modern times, the process is fraught with moral judgment, stemming largely from the nature of available pain treatments and an incomplete understanding of how to use them. Patients who ask for more pain drugs are eyed as potential addicts; doctors who prescribe pain medications too frequently fear being arrested for it. (See TIME’s special report “How to Live 100 Years.”)

Mental Health News

Depression, the Thyroid, and Hormones

The thyroid produces and regulates hormones. Those hormones can affect your energy levels, your mood, even your weight. They can also be factors in depression. Read on to find out what causes thyroid-related depression and how it’s treated.

Sleep Disorders: Sleep and Depression

If you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, you may be having trouble getting to sleep. There’s a reason for that. There is a definite link between lack of sleep and depression. In fact, one of the major signs of depression is insomnia or an inability to sleep.

That’s not to say insomnia or other sleep problems are uncommon. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the United States, affecting nearly one out of every three adults at some point in life. More women suffer from insomnia than men, and as people get older, insomnia becomes more prevalent.

ADHD Tied to Brain’s Reward Pathway

Sept. 8, 2009 — A problem in the brain’s reward center may be behind symptoms like inattention associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

New research suggests this dysfunction in the brain’s reward pathway interferes with how people experience reward and motivation. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain essential to normal functioning of the nervous system.

“These deficits in the brain’s reward system may help explain clinical symptoms of ADHD, including inattention and reduced motivation, as well as the propensity for complications such as drug abuse and obesity among ADHD patients,” says researcher Nora Volkow, MD director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in a news release.

Antidepressant shows benefits for low sex drive

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The antidepressant bupropion may hold promise for improving symptoms in younger women diagnosed with so-called hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a small study suggests.

The disorder, called HSDD for short, is diagnosed when a person has a persistently low interest in sex, and that disinterest is causing personal distress or relationship problems.

Nutrition/Diet/Healthy Recipes

Low-carb diet can increase bad cholesterol levels

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Cutting down on carbs may help people lose weight, but it may not be so good for lowering cholesterol, new research shows.

People who ate a diet low in carbohydrates but relatively high in fat lost the same amount of weight over six weeks as those who consumed a high-carb diet.

Feast Like the Greeks

The range of bean and vegetable main dishes in the Greek repertory is striking; every region has its specialties. Extremely healthy, these dishes contain no saturated fat whatsoever and lots of fiber. Many of the traditional dishes are called “olive oil dishes” (or ladera), because they are cooked with copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil. I tone down the amounts in my kitchen. But I still use enough to ensure that the broth accompanying vegetables or beans is alchemized to a velvety sauce, often enhanced with a splash of fresh lemon juice or vinegar just before serving.

Vegetarian Dishes From a Greek Holiday

The range of bean and vegetable main dishes in the Greek repertory is striking; every region has its specialties. Extremely healthy, these dishes contain no saturated fat whatsoever and lots of fiber. Many of the traditional dishes are called “olive oil dishes” (or ladera), because they are cooked with copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil. I tone down the amounts in my kitchen. But I still use enough to ensure that the broth accompanying vegetables or beans is alchemized to a velvety sauce, often enhanced with a splash of fresh lemon juice or vinegar just before serving.

Black-Eyed Peas With Vegetables and Small Pasta

1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 large carrots, finely chopped

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water

2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced

1 bay leaf

1 dried hot pepper, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup small pasta, such as elbow macaroni or tubettini, or small square Greek egg noodles

1/2 to 1 cup chopped cooked spinach or greens (optional)

1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, to taste

1. Cover the black-eyed peas with water, bring to a boil and then drain.

2. Combine the drained black-eyed peas, onion, carrots, red bell pepper, dissolved tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, hot pepper and 1/4 cup olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Cover with water by 2 inches, and bring to a gentle boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Add salt to taste, and continue to simmer until the beans and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the pasta, increase the heat to medium-high, and simmer five to 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and much of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the greens, another 2 tablespoons olive oil if desired and the vinegar. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: This tastes even better the day after it’s made (though you may want to wait to add the pasta until you reheat). It will keep in the refrigerator for three or four days

Stewed Cauliflower With Red Onions and Tomatoes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 medium-size red onions, halved and sliced across the grain

Salt to taste

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 bay leaf

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup red wine

8 kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar (optional)

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onions. Cook, stirring, until very tender, about eight minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the garlic, and stir for another minute or so until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, with their liquid, and bring to a simmer. Simmer about eight minutes until cooked down and fragrant, and add the cauliflower to the pot. Stir together, and add the bay leaf, rosemary, pepper, dissolved tomato paste and wine. Bring to a simmer, and add salt to taste. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer 30 to 40 minutes until the cauliflower is very tender.

2. Stir in the olives and vinegar if using, and adjust salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, and stir in the remaining olive oil. Serve hot or warm.

Yield: Serves four.

Marinated Giant White Beans and Beets

For the beans:

1 pound dried large lima beans

1 large white onion, cut in half

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow or red bell pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, soaked for five minutes in cold water, drained and rinsed (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

For the beets:

8 small beets, greens cut away, scrubbed

1/3 cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Salt to taste

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. Place the beans in a large pot. Cover by 2 inches with water, and bring to a gentle boil. Skim off any foam, and add the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add salt to taste, and simmer an additional 20 minutes until just tender. Remove from the heat. Remove and discard the onion, garlic cloves and the bay leaf. Allow the beans to cool in the liquid, then drain through a strainer set over a bowl. Gently toss the beans in a bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, celery, peppers, onion and herbs. If desired, add 2 to 4 tablespoons of the bean broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Cook the beets while the beans are cooking. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, add 1/4 cup of the vinegar and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Remove from the heat, add the garlic to the pot and set aside to cool. Remove the beets from the pot (do not drain), slip off the skins and cut in wedges.

3. Combine the remaining vinegar, the sugar and 1/4 cup of the beet broth (discard the garlic). Toss with the beets. Arrange the beans on a plate or in a bowl and surround with the beets. If you wish, serve this dish with skordalia.

Yield: Serves six to eight.

Advance preparation: The beans and the beets can both be prepared up to three days before serving.

Greek Yellow Split Pea Purée

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 cups yellow split peas, washed and picked over

Salt to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Pita bread, endive or small romaine lettuce leaves, or crudités for dipping

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy saucepan, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, five to six minutes. Add the split peas and enough water to cover by an inch, and bring to a boil. Skim foam off the top, reduce the heat, cover and simmer one hour. Add salt to taste, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes to an hour until the beans fall apart and sink to the bottom of the pot. Stir often to prevent them from sticking. The water should cloud, and some of the split peas will be intact while others will disintegrate. Continue to simmer until they have mostly disintegrated.

2. When the beans have fallen apart and are soft and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Replace the lid and let sit for 20 minutes. If the mixture looks more like a soup than a purée, with most of the liquid on the top, place a strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture into the strainer. Let sit for 10 minutes while the liquid runs through the strainer, then return the split peas to the pot. Taste and adjust salt. Moisten as desired with the broth. Add a generous amount of pepper, and whisk in the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice. Whisking helps break down the split peas and contributes to a smooth texture. Transfer to a bowl or plate, top with a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

Yield: Serves six to eight.

Advance preparation: This will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator. Retain any liquid that you’ve poured off from the pot, as the peas will continue to thicken and stiffen and you will probably want to thin them out. Reheat gently and serve.

Greek Baked Beans With Honey and Dill

1 pound dried large lima beans or white beans, soaked if necessary for six hours or overnight in 2 quarts of water and drained (limas require no soaking)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, preferably a sweet red onion, finely chopped

1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons honey, such as clover or acacia

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup, loosely packed, chopped fresh dill

1. Combine the drained beans and water to cover by 3 inches in a large, oven-proof casserole or Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium size, heavy skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender and lightly caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. After 30 minutes, drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add the remaining olive oil, the tomatoes and the liquid in the can, bay leaf, honey, and 2 cups water or enough to just cover the beans. Stir in the onion, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven. Bake one hour, stirring often and adding water if necessary. Add the tomato paste, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 more minutes, until the beans are tender and the mixture is thick.

4. Stir in the dill, cover and let sit 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with thick slices of country bread.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: This can be made through step 3 a day or two ahead of time. Add water if the mixture is too thick to bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Bring to a simmer, and proceed with the recipe. Leftovers will be good for three or four days.


    • TMC on February 27, 2010 at 22:03

    Another shaking of Mother Nature’s mantle. I would expect more rattling as she settles herself.


    … lactose is milk sugar and is not in aged cheeses nor properly processed unadulterated yogurt, because those products are made to get rid of it, and thus can be eaten with those people with lactose intolerance.  Since butter is made of mostly fat churned from cream, some may also be able to tolerate pure forms of real butter.

    This is not the same as having a cow dairy intolerance, allergy, or a casein (milk protein) intolerance or allergy.   People with allergy or intolerances to cow dairy or cow milk protein cannot tolerate any sorts of cow dairy products.

    The calcium is not in the lactose. People with lactose intolerance can eat some dairy products and get calcium that way.  WTF ?

    Full blown cow dairy intolerance can be a side effect of gluten intolerance and/or celiac and is often partially healable to become just lactose intolerance once a gluten free diet is adhered to, and the lining of the digestive tract heals.

    I’m flabbergasted at the claims by the “experts” that this topic hasn’t been studied.  What planet are they from ?  

    And haven’t they heard of calcium from other food sources and calcium supplements?

    lactose (sugar)  per wiki is C 12 H22 O 11

    Calcium is an elemental chemical, a metal,  symbol Ca

    arrrggghhhhhhh  !!!!

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