Daily Archives: June 7, 2011

An apple a day really does keep the doctor away


It also has health giving properties – reducing blood sugar levels, cholesterol and harmful fatty acids, according to the new study Photo: DANIEL JONES

An apple a day keeps your body toned and slender

An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, claim scientists, after finding that they boost muscles and fight fat.

Telegraph | Jun 7, 2011

By Richard Alleyne

Researchers have discovered that ursolic acid – a substance found in the peel – has natural body building qualities and could help people keep a toned, slender body.

It could even help with diabetes.

In experiments they discovered that it boosts muscle growth by up to 15 per cent and reduces body fat by more than a half.

It also has health giving properties – reducing blood sugar levels, cholesterol and harmful fatty acids, according to the new study.

Dr Christopher Adams, the study leader at the University of Iowa, said the substance could be especially useful in the elderly who naturally lose body muscle, known as atrophy.

“The old saying goes that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’,” he said.

“Muscle atrophy causes big problems. It’s also very common – it affects most people at some point in their lives, during illness or ageing. But, there’s no medicine for it.

“We studied muscle gene activity in people with atrophy and used that information to find chemicals that might block atrophy.

“One of those chemicals was especially interesting. It’s called ursolic acid and it’s particularly concentrated in apple peels.”

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, showed that ursolic acid reduced muscle wasting in mice.

They believe the substance works by reprogramming genes that cause muscle wasting and fat build up.

“Interestingly, although ursolic acid increased muscle weight in mice, it did not increase total body weight, and further investigation showed that mice fed ursolic acid had less body fat than mice that were not fed the compound,” he said.

Now they plan to try it on humans to see if it has the same effect.

Baby milk “Nespresso“ machine draws fire

swissinfo.ch | Jun 6, 2011

by Matthew Allen

The modern way of feeding infants? (nestle.com)

Nestlé stands accused of encouraging mothers to stop breastfeeding over a new lifestyle consumer machine that dispenses substitute baby milk formula from capsules.

Its BabyNes product, built along the lines of its successful Nespresso coffee machine, has reignited a long standing debate about the morality and possible health implications of commercialising breast milk alternatives.

The machine, that is being trialed in Switzerland, mixes capsules of baby milk formula with filtered water to quickly produce bottles for infants. The high-end machine costs SFr249 ($295) with packets of 26 capsules setting people back between SFr49 and SFr55 – four times the cost of Nespresso coffee.

Nestlé said it is providing a convenient product for mothers who are unable to breast feed by producing a bottle in less than 30 seconds. The firm denied that it is advocating an alternative to World Health Organization (WHO) advice.

“Nestlé supports exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, in line with WHO recommendations, and continued breastfeeding thereafter while progressively introducing solid food into the infant’s diet,” the company said in a statement.

Inventions to scandal

Breast feeding campaigners have accused the Vevey-based concern of rampant commercialism that could come at the expense of infant health.

“This toy for the rich is putting across the idea that parents can trust a machine to meet the needs of their babies,” Patti Rundall of Baby Milk Action, told swissinfo.ch.

When Nestlé founder Henri Nestlé invented the Farine Lactée breast milk substitute powder 145 years ago, it was hailed as an infant health breakthrough that would help mothers who were unable to breastfeed – and their babies.

But the 1970s saw a scandal erupt around the formula following its sale in developing countries. Infant deaths were blamed on contaminated water being mixed with the powder while Nestlé was accused of encouraging mothers to stop breastfeeding with aggressive marketing practices.

The outcry resulted in damaging publicity for Nestlé and a coordinated attempt by campaigners to call on consumers to boycott the company’s goods.

The WHO intervened in 1981 to put guidelines into place that prohibited direct marketing in developing markets while many countries implemented their own legislation.

Marketing or information?

Rundall believes that Nestlé’s press release highlighting the new BabyNes product infringes that code.

“This press release was picked up by the world’s media and I have seen articles from many countries,” she said. “This is not just a consumer product like a coffee machine and information should be passed on via health care experts.”

Nestlé disagreed with this interpretation, stating: “We fully comply with the WHO Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes as implemented by national governments. We take all allegations of non-compliance with the WHO seriously.”

WHO said it does not comment on commercial products.

Nestlé said it would evaluate the potential introduction of BabyNes into other markets, but would not expand on whether developing economies could be targeted in future.

Made for Angelina

The price tag of the product would put off low income consumers, but Swiss campaigning group Berne Declaration believes it could set a negative aspirational trend in developing economies.

“During the previous scandal, the lifestyle message [feeding with baby formula] came from developed markets to developing ones,” spokeswoman Andrea Hüsser told swissinfo.ch.

“The current trend is manipulating young mothers into believing infant feeding is a lifestyle event like drinking Nespresso.”

Nestlé claims a filtration system in the BabyNes machine has tackled the problem of contaminated water being used to mix the powder. “The use of boiled water is therefore not required,” the company stated.

The company also defended the safety of its powdered formula after earlier independent tests of a range of brands had shown some to be contaminated with bacteria.

“The safety and quality of our products is a non-negotiable priority for Nestlé,” the firm said.

It remains to be seen how commercially successful such a product will prove to be. Nestlé’s premium coffee capsule machine Nespresso is expected to achieve sales of more than SFr3 billion ($3.56 billion) this year.

But Sara Stalder, head of the Swiss Consumer Protection Association, had a scornful message for the product on her blog on the CPA’s website.

“For me it’s clear that this machine would be ideal for Angelina Jolie: with six children and a deep purse, such a machine would be perfect,” Stalder wrote.

A Scary Side Effect of Eating GMO Foods

stopagingnow.com | Jun 7, 2011

While the long term health consequences of consuming genetically modified foods are not yet know, scientists do know one thing. Consuming genetically modifying plant DNA leads to the development of “GMO” microorganisms, which reproduce continuously inside the human body. And as the Alliance for Natural Health reports, the implications could be deadly. It’s time to tell the USDA we won’t stand for more GMOs!

This article is republished with permission from the Alliance for Natural Health USA, May 31, 2011. Go straight to the source.

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Genetically Engineered Food Alters Our Digestive Systems!

GE organisms actually become part of the bacteria in our digestive tracts and reproduce continuously inside us. But the USDA now wants to to remove all controls from GE corn and cotton! A new Action Alert.

There are no human clinical trials of genetically engineered foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that genetic material inserted into GE soy transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. Even after we stop eating GE foods, we may still have the GE proteins produced continuously inside us.

As the Institute for Responsible Technology has noted, the genetic engineering process creates massive collateral damage, causing mutations in hundreds or thousands of locations throughout the plant’s DNA. Natural genes can be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their behavior. Even the inserted gene can be damaged or rearranged, and may create proteins that can trigger allergies or promote disease.

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Doctors will launch court fight if Dr David Kelly inquest demand is turned down


Questions: Dr Kelly during questioning by the Commons select committee in London in 2003

Prime Minister David Cameron said last month he did not want the Kelly files re-opened.

Daily Mail | Jun 7, 2011

By Miles Goslett and James Slack

A group of doctors is preparing to mount a legal challenge if the Attorney General this week refuses an inquest into the death of weapons inspector Dr David Kelly.

Dominic Grieve, who has spent nine months considering the case for a new inquiry, is expected to announce his decision on Thursday.

Campaigners are braced for him to deliver a ‘No’ verdict after Prime Minister David Cameron said last month he did not want the Kelly files re-opened.

If this happens, the doctors – who have unearthed mountains of evidence which casts doubt on the Hutton Inquiry verdict of suicide – will lodge an immediate judicial review. The Attorney General would then have to justify his decision in the High Court.

Last night Dr Stephen Frost said: ‘We doctors and lawyers are unanimous in our view that the case for an inquest into Dr Kelly’s death as presented by us to the Attorney General is unanswerable in law.

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‘It would therefore be very surprising if the Attorney General decided that no inquest was necessary. If he were to say no we would vigorously contest his decision in the courts through judicial review.

‘A proper inquest into the death of any British citizen is required by the laws of this country. Everyone now knows that the Hutton Inquiry, which purported to fulfil the coronial requirement, was a woefully inadequate instrument for investigating Dr Kelly’s death.’

Dr Michael Powers QC, representing the doctors, added: ‘The doctors have become the voice of all those members of the public who have disquiet about both the form and the adequacy of Lord Hutton’s inquiry.’

Dr Kelly is said to have killed himself in July 2003 after being named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing the Labour government of lying to take Britain into war in Iraq.

Uniquely for a suspicious death, no coroner’s inquest has been held. Instead, the public inquiry into his death chaired by Lord Hutton found he committed suicide by taking painkillers and cutting his left wrist with a blunt knife.

The doctors say a string of unanswered questions include whether Dr Kelly could have lost a fatal amount of blood through the severed ulnar artery in his wrist.

There are also questions over whether he could have cut his wrist in the way described by the Hutton Report. Dr Mai Pedersen, a close friend, says an injury to his right arm had left Dr Kelly unable to cut even steak with it, and he had to do this clumsily with his left hand.

Parking tickets soar to record levels


Parking tickets soar to an all time high Photo: ALAMY

The number of parking tickets issued to motorists has reached record levels triggering accusations from motoring groups that councils are harvesting fines to plug gaping holes in their finances.

Telegraph | Jun 3, 2011

By David Millward

It is estimated that town halls are pocketing more than £320 million a year in fines and the latest figures released by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, have shown a continuing rise in the number of penalty charges being issued.

The tribunal, which handles appeals outside London, said councils in England and Wales issued 4,035,555 parking tickets in the 12 months ending in March 2009, compared with 2.5 million in 2003 and 794,851 in 2000-1.

These figures reflect a growing number of councils taking advantage of “decriminalisation”, which has transferred parking control from the police to the town hall and allowed them to keep the cash raised from fines.

At the last count 272 councils now have these powers with the number rising steadily each year as more authorities join the system.

In 2000, only 48 councils had these powers. By 2005 this had risen to 150 and in 2007 194 councils enforced on-street parking.

Under the Traffic Management Act, councils are forbidden from using parking fines as a means of raising revenue, but motoring groups believe this is regularly flouted by local authorities, especially at a time when they are lobbying for penalties to be increased.

“With the number of parking tickets at an all-time high and absolutely no evidence that an increased penalty amount will lead to better compliance, as some councils are suggesting. We believe demands for any raising of the penalty level are more about plugging holes in some council coffers.” said an AA spokesman.

Professor Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation added: “The law does not allow local authorities to use parking as a means of making money – however hard pressed their budgets.

“Local authorities that are showing a big surplus in their parking budgets should look carefully at every area of their operation – particularly in the back office where challenges are considered.”

The Tribunal’s latest report showed that the number of appeals against parking tickets rose by 15 per cent, reaching 14,269. Motorists succeeded in overturning parking fines in 57 per cent of cases.

Councils outside London now have the power to use CCTV cameras to catch motorists parked illegally, enabling a ticket to be issued by post some time later.

Motoring groups complained that the use of CCTV made it harder for motorists to mount an appeal, because of the time which elapsed after the original offence.

Caroline Sheppard, the chief adjudicator, highlighted cases where CCTV was used to issue tickets to cars which were still moving – the fines were subsequently quashed.

“Councils cannot simply rely on the CCTV vehicle being an approved device, it is how and where it is used that matters,” she said.

“Enforcement authorities should regularly remind themselves of the Transport Secretary’s guidance and ensure that the use of the CCTV enforcement is properly supporting their transport objectives and that it is being applied fairly and with integrity.”

Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Economy and Transport Board, defended councils’ record on parking.

“To put these figures into perspective, fewer than one in 200 tickets issued last year resulted in an appeal which suggests that, on the whole, parking officers are getting it right,” he said.

“We know parking restrictions are never going to popular but these restrictions are in place to keep people safe, keep traffic moving and ensure parking spaces are available to those who need them.

“Any money received from parking fines has to be spent on transport improvements which benefit motorists, pedestrians and other road users.”

Melbourne to get a taste of Antarctica – literally


Cold front … Antarctic winds will whip Melbourne. Photo: Craig Abraham

SMH | Jun 7, 2011

by Megan Levy

If you thought this morning was cold, brace yourself for an even icier blast this evening.

A severe cold front swept through Victoria late this morning, the start of what is set to be a wintry week across the state.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Phil King said this morning was actually warmer than yesterday in Melbourne, which registered a low of 8.9 degrees at 5.27am today.

However icy 40km/h winds from the north-west made it feel like it was zero degrees on Melbourne’s streets.

‘‘Most people have been saying it felt colder this morning. It actually was 4 to 5 degrees warmer than yesterday but the apparent temperature was colder because of the wind,’’ Mr King said.

Alpine areas have been enduring sub-zero temperatures since yesterday.

At 8am today, the temperature at Mount Hotham was hovering around minus 6 degrees, while Falls Creek and Mount Buller were at minus 5.

Mr King said up to 30 centimetres of snow was forecast to fall before the weekend, the official start of the snow season.

Heavy snow is expected to begin falling this afternoon as the rain band moved north, while the alpine resorts are not expected to climb above zero degrees until the weekend.

Mr King said the cold front that hit this morning meant the wind would swing around from the south, blasting the state with Antarctic winds for the coming few days.

That will result in snow down to as low as 500 metres from tonight and into tomorrow in low-lying hills around Melbourne, including the Dandenong and Macedon ranges.

‘‘The front’s still coming through now,’ Mr King said.

‘‘It has been a north-westerly wind this morning but it’s still very cold because we had a cold day yesterday and it will turn around to the south and be with us for the next couple of days.

‘‘The coldest air will come through tonight, and that’s when we’ll get snow down to low levels.’’

In Melbourne, the temperature is expected to reach a maximum of 11 tomorrow in the city, with scattered showers, possible hail and thunderstorms and south-westerly winds averaging up to 50 km/h.

Mr King said the cold conditions would clear for the long weekend, when the next high pressure system would cross the state.

May coldest on record in Eastern Oregon

East Oregonian | Jun 5, 2011

By DEAN BRICKEY

Temperatures in Pendleton, Milton-Freewater and La Grande were so low last month the National Weather Service is calling it the coldest May on record in those communities.

And precipitation at Hermiston, Heppner, La Grande and Walla Walla caused May to be the third wettest on record.

Dennis Hull, warning forecast meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Pendleton, said the average temperature was 53.3 degrees in Pendleton. That was 4.7 degrees below normal. The previous coldest May averaged 53.9 degrees in 1991.

High temperatures averaged 64.8 degrees, or 5.4 degrees below normal. The highest was 82 degrees on May 14. Low temperatures averaged 41.9 degrees, or 4 degrees below normal. The lowest was 30 degrees, on May 1, the only day the temperature dropped below freezing.

The cooler, wetter weather has been a bane for farmers and ranchers.

“The conditions in May … have delayed the maturity of our cereal crops and have contributed to much greater stripe rust than we’ve seen in previous years,” said Steve Petrie, superintendent of the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center near Adams.

In Milton-Freewater, Hull said the average temperature was 55.8 degrees, which was 4.4 degrees below normal. Until this month, May 1962 was the coldest with an average of 56 degrees.

High temperatures last month in Milton-Freewater averaged 65.9 degrees, or 5.8 degrees below normal. The highest was 77 degrees on May 11. Low temperatures averaged 45.7 degrees, or 2.9 degrees below normal. The lowest was 39 degrees on May 1.

Ron Brown, owner of Earl Brown and Sons, a Milton-Freewater apple producer, said the colder weather hampered pollinization in late April and early May.

“We’re experiencing size problems,” Brown said. “By now, we should have much larger fruit than we have.”

Mother Nature could make up for that as the growing season continues, however, he said.

“I think it’s just making us later on heat units,” Brown said. “It’s pushing us later into the fall for harvest.”

Pendleton’s precipitation totaled 2.76 inches during May, which Hull said was 1.54 inches above normal. Measurable precipitation — at least .01 of an inch — fell on 15 days with the heaviest, 0.72 of an inch, reported May 15.

Precipitation this year in Pendleton has reached 8.10 inches, or 1.82 inches above normal. Since October, the water year precipitation at the Pendleton airport has been 14.53 inches, which is 4.15 inches above normal, Hull said.

In Hermiston, precipitation totaled 1.83 inches last month, which was 1.09 inches above normal. Measurable precipitation fell on 12 days with the heaviest, .48 of an inch, reported May 14. It was the third wettest May on record, Hull said. The wettest was 2.84 inches in 1994.

Hermiston’s precipitation this year has reached 5.50 inches, which is 1.65 inches above normal. Since October, precipitation at the Hermiston airport has been 10.85 inches, or 3.80 inches above normal.

In Heppner, precipitation totaled 3.36 inches during May, or 1.69 inches above normal. Measurable precipitation fell on 14 days with the heaviest, 2.01 inches, reported May 15. It also was the third wettest May on record for Heppner. The record was 3.45 inches in 1994.

Heppner’s precipitation this year has totaled 9.81 inches, or 2.57 inches above normal. Since October, precipitation at Heppner has been 15.73 inches, or 4.70 inches above normal.

Pendleton’s highest wind gust was 51 mph on May 11, the only day the wind exceeded 50 mph. In Hermiston, the highest gust was 55 mph on May 14.

Hull said the outlook for June from the agency’s Climate Prediction Center is for below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation throughout the region.

Normal highs for Pendleton airport rise from 76.1 degrees at the start of June to 81 degrees at the end of June. Normal lows rise from 50.3 degrees to 53.3 degrees. The 30-year normal precipitation is .78 of an inch.

Hermiston should expect high temperatures ranging from 78.5 to 82.2 degrees and low temperatures from 51.4 to 54.2 degrees. Normal precipitation is .56 of an inch.

Milton-Freewater’s temperatures should range from 77.2 to 81.7 degrees on the high side and from 52.9 to 55.9 on the low end. The community’s normal precipitation in June is 1.05 inches.

In Heppner, high temperatures should range from 74.7 to 79.2 degrees and lows from 47.1 to 49.8 degrees. The 30-year average precipitation is 1.08 inches.