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Health News Archive 10 - Other
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Money Laundering to be Legalized

About seven percent of paper money may be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, according to a study.

Researchers requested $1 bills from people in a grocery store and waiting in line at a concession stand.

They then soaked each bill, 68 in all, in a vial of brain-heart infusion broth for 30 to 60 minutes.  After the bill was removed, the broth was incubated, streaked onto an agar plate and incubated again. It was then monitored for growth of bacterial colonies.

The bills yielded 93 bacterial isolates and 94 percent of the bills had bacterial colonies.

Further, seven percent of the bills were contaminated with bacteria that could cause disease to hospitalized patients or patients with compromised immune systems, according to researchers.  That's why they try and take all your money when you are hospitalized!

Pope TW, et al. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Wright-Patterson Medical Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; Bacterial contamination of paper currency; Southern Medical Journal; December 2002;95(12):1408-10.

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Docs Urged to Keep Up with Alternative Medicine

Use of alternative medicine among children with disabilities or chronic illness is on the rise, according to the nation's largest group of pediatricians. This means that doctors caring for these children must be aware of non-mainstream therapies and ready to help families sort through the types of care available to them, the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Children with Disabilities writes in the March 2001 issue of Pediatrics.

The article sets forth a new policy on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), in which the committee concludes: "Distinctions among unproven therapies, CAM, and biomedicine may become blurred, presenting special challenges to the pediatrician. To best serve the interests of children, it is important to provide balanced advice about therapeutic options, to guard against bias, and to establish and maintain a trusting relationship with families."

More and more Americans with chronic illness or disability are using CAM to care for themselves, the committee notes. The same is true for families of children with disabilities. "Up to 50% of children with autism in the United States probably are using some form of CAM," the committee points out.

While there is currently little scientific evidence for the effectiveness of various types of alternative medicine, the committee observes, the same is true for many commonly used therapies in conventional medicine. And the placebo response clearly offers benefits of its own.

"Many parents become frustrated with biomedical therapies because of complexity, discomfort, bewildering technology, or uncertainty of cure," the committee writes. "Indeed, for some conditions, biomedicine has little or nothing to offer."

But, they add, CAM is not always benign. "Alternative therapies may be directly harmful by causing direct toxic effects, compromising adequate nutrition, interrupting beneficial medications or therapies, or postponing biomedical therapies of proven effectiveness."

Furthermore, the committee adds, "the Internet has dramatically increased exposure of families to sophisticated marketing, testimonials, and unproven claims. Some parents are attracted to simple explanations of causality, some by an approach perceived to be more 'natural.'"

So the responsibility falls to pediatricians, the authors write, to help parents navigate through the choices offered by both conventional and alternative medicine, and provide the best care to their children. "The pediatrician is in a position to balance a commitment to family-centered care with the ethical responsibility to guard the welfare of children."

SOURCE: Pediatrics 2001;107:598-601.

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Pycnogenol® Enhances (you know) for Men with Fertility Problems

Reported in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine in October, 2002, this study provided uplifting results.  Nineteen subfertile men were given 200 mg of Pycnogenol® daily orally for 90 days.  Semen samples were analyzed before and after Pycnogenol® treatment for sperm count, motility score and strict morphology before and after capacitation, and mannose receptor binding. 

Test results demonstrated that Pycnogenol® improved the quality and function of sperm in men with fertility problems by a mean of 38% for quality and 19% for function. 

Journal of Reprod Med October, 2002;47:821-824.

View more info on Pycnogenol

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Save $13.3 Billion Shopping Online

November 16, 2001

The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to renew a ban on Internet taxes, ensuring that the country’s 130 million Internet users will not face new taxes for another two years.  The Internet tax ban is now extended until November 1, 2003.  The House of Representatives last month approved an identical bill, which drew support from President Bush.  The bill is now expected to go straight to Bush for signature into law. 

The Internet now accounts for slightly less than 1% of all retail sales, even though more than half of all Americans are now online.  A 1992 Supreme Court decision prohibits states from collecting taxes on transactions unless the retailer has a physical presence in the state.  That adds up to $13.3 billion of savings for customers who shop on-line, according to one study.  

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Supplements Associated with Illnesses and Injuries

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
FDA Consumer Magazine (Sept.-Oct. 1998)

Herbal Ingredient: Chaparral (a traditional American Indian medicine)
Possible Health Hazards: liver disease, possibly irreversible

Herbal Ingredient: Comfrey
Possible Health Hazards: obstruction of blood flow to liver, possibly leading to death

Herbal Ingredient: Slimming/dieter's teas
Possible Health Hazards: nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, chronic constipation, fainting, possibly death (see "Dieter's Brews Make Tea Time a Dangerous Affair" in the July-August 1997 FDA Consumer)

Herbal Ingredient: Ephedra (also known as Ma huang, Chinese Ephedra and epitonin)
Possible Health Hazards: ranges from high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, nerve damage, injury, insomnia, tremors, and headaches to seizures, heart attack, stroke, and death

Herbal Ingredient: Germander
Possible Health Hazards: liver disease, possibly leading to death

Herbal Ingredient: Lobelia (also known as Indian tobacco)
Possible Health Hazards: range from breathing problems at low doses to sweating, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, and possibly coma and death at higher doses

Herbal Ingredient: Magnolia-Stephania preparation
Possible Health Hazards: kidney disease, possibly leading to permanent kidney failure

Herbal Ingredient: Willow bark
Possible Health Hazards: Reye syndrome, a potentially fatal disease associated with aspirin intake in children with chickenpox or flu symptoms; allergic reaction in adults. (Willow bark is marketed as an aspirin-free product, although it actually contains an ingredient that converts to the same active ingredient in aspirin.)

Herbal Ingredient: Wormwood
Possible Health Hazards: neurological symptoms, characterized by numbness of legs and arms, loss of intellect, delirium, and paralysis Vitamins and Essential Minerals

Herbal Ingredient: Vitamin A (in doses of 25,000 or more International Units a day)
Possible Health Hazards: birth defects, bone abnormalities, and severe liver disease

Herbal Ingredient: Vitamin B6 (in doses above 100 milligrams a day)
Possible Health Hazards: balance difficulties, nerve injury causing changes in touch sensation

Herbal Ingredient: Niacin (in slow-released doses of 500 mg or more a day or immediate-release doses of 750 mg or more a day)
Possible Health Hazards: range from stomach pain, vomiting, bloating, nausea, cramping, and diarrhea to liver disease, muscle disease, eye damage, and heart injury

Herbal Ingredient: Selenium (in doses of about 800 micrograms to 1,000 mcg a day)
Possible Health Hazards: tissue damage Other Supplements

Herbal Ingredient: Germanium (a nonessential mineral)
Possible Health Hazards: kidney damage, possibly death

Herbal Ingredient: L-tryptophan (an amino acid)
Possible Health Hazards: eosinophilia myalgia syndrome, a potentially fatal blood disorder that can cause high fever, muscle and joint pain, weakness, skin rash, and swelling of the arms and legs (Source: FDA Statement before Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, Oct. 21, 1993)

Reprinted with permission of 
Medline plus Health Information: a service of the National Library of Medicine

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