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April 24, 2009

Latest News Updates

Keep up-to-date on the latest health and politics news with our regular updates and analysis of the key stories from around the world.

Natural Health News

April 19, 2009

An herbal extract inhibits the development of pancreatic cancer
An herb recently found to kill pancreatic cancer cells also appears to inhibit development of pancreatic cancer as a result of its anti-inflammatory properties, according to researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. The data were presented at the AACR 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver. Thymoquinone, the major constituent of the oil extract from a Middle Eastern herbal seed called Nigella sativa, exhibited anti-inflammatory properties that reduced the release of inflammatory mediators in pancreatic cancer cells, according to Hwyda Arafat, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Surgery at the Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and a member of the Jefferson Pancreatic, Biliary & Related Cancers Center.
Read article at physorg.com

April 19, 2009

Fish oil protects against diseases like Parkinson's, study
Dr. Nicolas Bazan, Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence, Boyd Professor, and Ernest C. and Yvette C. Villere Chair of Retinal Degenerative Diseases Research at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, will present new research findings showing that an omega three fatty acid in the diet protects brain cells by preventing the misfolding of a protein resulting from a gene mutation in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Huntington's. He will present these findings for the first time today at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Nouvelle C Room, at the American Society for Nutrition, Experimental Biology 2009 Annual Meeting.
Read article at physorg.com

April 14, 2009

Omega-3 linked to lower levels of inflammation
Increased blood levels of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are associated with lower levels of a marker of inflammation linked to heart disease, says a new study from Australia.
Read article at nutraingredients.com

For more natural health news, click here.

See also our 2001-2008 news archive, by clicking here.

Pharma "Business with Disease" News

April 20, 2009

Tamiflu 'may be tied to abnormal behavior'
Influenza patients between ages 10 and 17 who took Tamiflu were 54 percent more likely to exhibit serious abnormal behavior than those who did not take the antiflu drug, according to a final report, released Saturday, from a Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team.
Read article at physorg.com

April 19, 2009

Studies find factories release pharmaceuticals
Federal scientists testing for pharmaceuticals in water have been finding significantly more medicine residues in sewage downstream from public treatment facilities that handle waste from drugmakers. Early results from two pivotal federal studies compare wastewater at treatment plants that handle sewage from drugmakers with those that do not.
Read Associated Press news story at google.com
Comment: Reports suggest that US manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water — contamination the US federal government has consistently overlooked.

April 15, 2009

Aspirin 'causes brain to bleed'
Aspirin may cause bleeding in the brain, according to new research. Brain scans of 1,062 people found a 70 per cent higher incidence of microscopic bleeding among those taking the drug or carbasalate calcium, a close chemical relative, than among those not taking such anti-clotting medication.
Read article in The Scotsman (Scotland/UK)

April 15, 2009

Exposure to valproate during pregnancy can impair a child's cognitive development
Three-year-olds whose mothers took the antiepileptic drug valproate during pregnancy had average IQs six to nine points lower than children exposed to three other antiepileptic drugs, a landmark multi-center study has found.
Read article at physorg.com

April 9, 2009

Genentech Withdraws Psoriasis Drug Linked to Brain Infections
Genentech Inc. began pulling its psoriasis treatment Raptiva from the U.S. market because of the drug’s link to a rare, fatal brain disorder that has troubled at least four other medicines.
Read article at bloomberg.com

April 7, 2009

New Report Urges FDA Clinical Trial Reform
Current FDA Corrective Actions Fall Short in Several Important Areas
(Washington, D.C) – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) is releasing a new “white paper” report, The ABCs of Drug Safety: Accountability, Balance, and Citizen Empowerment, which focuses on the severe problems with the current system for conducting and regulating clinical trials. The report details the urgent need for reform. Mark Cohen, GAP Executive Director and coauthor of the report, stated “The current clinical trial reform process is rife with conflicts of interest that put trial subjects at risk and produce suspect data on drug safety and efficacy. Making matters worse, federal oversight is wholly inadequate.”
Read press release at whistleblower.org
Comment: Click here to read a copy of the report's Executive Summary. Click here to read a copy of the report in full.

For more pharma "business with disease" news, click here.

See also our 2001-2008 news archive, by clicking here.

GMO News

April 18, 2009

Opponents of GM crops protest in Spain
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Spanish city of Zaragoza calling for a ban on the use of genetically modified crops. They want their government to follow Germany’s lead in banning GM maize.
Read article at euronews.net

April 14, 2009

Germany deals blow to GM crops
Agriculture minister Ilse Aigner joins European mutiny over genetically modified crops by banning corn variety MON 810
Germany has thrown its weight behind a growing European mutiny over genetically modified crops by banning the planting of a widely grown pest-resistant corn variety. Agriculture minister Ilse Aigner said there was enough evidence to support arguments that MON 810, which is the only GM crop widely grown in Europe, posed a danger. "I have come to the conclusion that genetically-modified corn from the MON 810 strain constitutes a danger to the environment," Aigner told reporters in Berlin.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)

April 14, 2009

Failure to Yield
Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops
For years the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields. That promise has proven to be empty, according to Failure to Yield, a report by UCS expert Doug Gurian-Sherman released in March 2009. Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.
Read article on the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) (USA)
Comment: To read the UCS report, click here.

For more GMO news, click here.

See also our 2001-2008 news archive, by clicking here.

Other Health-related News

April 17, 2009

Vitamin D deficiency may raise cesarean risk
Women with insufficient vitamin D intake during pregnancy may be at increased risk for birth by cesarean section, study findings suggest. Of 253 women who gave birth in a Boston, Massachusetts hospital, those deficient in vitamin D were nearly 4-times more likely to deliver by cesarean section than women with higher levels of vitamin D, report Dr. Michael F. Holick and colleagues.
Read news report at reuters.com

April 17, 2009

Low vitamin A and C levels may boost asthma risk
Low dietary intakes of vitamins A and C may increase the risk of developing asthma, suggests a review of 40 studies and 30 years of research. Low blood levels of vitamin C and lower dietary intake of vitamin C-containing foods were associated with a 12 per cent heightened risk of asthma, say findings published online in Thorax.
Read article at nutraingredients.com

April 8, 2009

Hospital hunger a 'growing problem'
At least 240 people die in English hospitals every year from malnutrition, latest figures show. The official figures for 2007 also show another 19 died in private or publicly run care homes. Almost 140,000 were discharged from hospital with this easily-preventable condition - more than the 130,000 who were malnourished when admitted.
Read article on the ITV News website (UK)

April 8, 2009

Pesticides not a threat to honey bees – Benn
Hilary Benn, Defra Secretary, has rejected calls from the organic lobby to ban insecticides they say damage the health of honey bees. The Soil Association, the UK’s biggest organic certifiers, wrote to Mr Benn asking him to prohibit the use of a group of pesticides, called neonicotinoids, which have already been withdrawn in France, Germany and Italy. The Co-op supermarket has also banned the use of neonicotinoid sprays arguing they damage the neurological and immune system of honey bees. However, in a letter to the Soil Association this week, Mr Benn said there was no evidence the use of those pesticides caused the decline in bee numbers.
Read article in the Farmers Guardian newspaper (UK)
Comment: Benn, head of the British government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is totally incorrect in claiming that there is no evidence that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides is causing a decline in bee numbers. In Germany, sales of these pesticides were banned in May 2008 after 700 beekeepers along the Rhine reported that two-thirds of their bees had died following the application of a neonicotinoid pesticide known as clothianidin. Tests on the dead bees showed that 99% of those examined had a build-up of clothianidin. In France, a neonicotinoid pesticide known as imidacloprid has been banned on sunflowers since 1999 and as a sweetcorn treatment since 2003, after a third of honeybees were wiped out. As such, given that the UK is one of the world’s biggest exporters of pharmaceutical drugs, we find it particularly significant to note that both imidacloprid and clothianidin are produced by a division of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Bayer. In the light of this information, consumers might well now be wondering who, exactly, Benn is protecting when he claims that there was no evidence the use of those pesticides caused the decline in bee numbers?

April 7, 2009

Pesticides blamed for some childhood brain cancers
A new study finds that children who live in homes where their parents use pesticides are twice as likely to develop brain cancer versus those that live in residences in which no pesticides are used. Herbicide use appeared to cause a particularly elevated risk for a certain type of cancer. It is well established that many pesticides cause cancer in animals. This study highlights a new and compelling reason to avoid or limit pesticide use and take necessary precautions during exposure. It also adds to a growing body of research that finds that pesticide exposure -- especially with farm life and pesticide use -- might be contributing significantly to this deadly disease.
Read article on the Environmental Health News website (USA)
Comment: To read the abstract of the study, click here.

For more health-related news, click here.

See also our 2001-2008 news archive, by clicking here.

Political News

April 18, 2009

The Torturers’ Manifesto
To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush’s Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity. Their language is the precise bureaucratese favored by dungeon masters throughout history. They detail how to fashion a collar for slamming a prisoner against a wall, exactly how many days he can be kept without sleep (11), and what, specifically, he should be told before being locked in a box with an insect — all to stop just short of having a jury decide that these acts violate the laws against torture and abusive treatment of prisoners. In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.
Read editorial in the New York Times (USA)

April 15, 2009

Officials Say U.S. Wiretaps Exceeded Law
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

April 14, 2009

EU elections heading for record low turnout
With European Parliament elections fast approaching, EU citizens are less interested in the poll than ever before in a situation that could see the abstention rate across the bloc hit a record 66 percent. A soon to be released survey from the European Commission's polling service, Eurobarometer, shows that interest in the election is weak right across the union, reports France's Liberation daily. The newest EU citizens, from member states that joined in 2004 and 2007, are as indifferent as their "old European" cousins, who have decades of experience in EU electoral listlessness.
Read article at euobserver.com

April 10, 2009

EC memo tells staff how to dodge difficult questions
European Commission officials have been told they can evade freedom of information rules by keeping two sets of documents, a "whitened" text for public release and a "separate" classified version. A leaked 15 page "vademecum" issued by the Commission's trade department to staff has been attacked by campaigners for encouraging officials "to conceal information from public scrutiny".
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)
Comment: To download the leaked memo, click here.

For more political news, visit the news pages on the website of the International Alliance for Health, Peace and Social Justice, and the news page on the European Referendum Initiative website.

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