Friday, October 19, 2012

Would You Like Some Fungus with Your Spinal Injection?

Health officials are hunting for the source of a meningitis outbreak among dozens of people who received steroid injections to treat back pain.

So far, 169 people have fallen ill with fungal meningitis and 20 have died after receiving shots in the spine. Health officials expect the case count to rise, warning that hundreds, if not thousands of patients who received epidural steroid injections could be at risk. The fungus, Aspergillus, causing illness may have contaminated the steroid injections at some point in the manufacturing process, but investigators are still searching for the cause.

Officials say the drug associated with the outbreak is methylprednisolone acetate, made by New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Mass. On Sept. 25 NECC voluntarily recalled three lots of the drug, and on Oct. 3 the company expanded the recall to include all lots of the medication, as well as other injectable drugs administered directly into the spinal fluid.
Health officials are also testing other medications used with the steroid injections, including lidocaine injections and antiseptic agents, as potential sources of contamination.

On Thursday, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ramped up warnings, recommending that doctors and health care personnel remove from their inventories all methylprednisolone products from NECC, and contact any patient who has received an injection of the drug since July. There is no evidence that more than three lots of the medication may have been contaminated, but Ilisa Bernstein, director of the Office of Compliance at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told reporters during a briefing that “out of an abundance of caution, we are urging physicians and health care personnel at clinics and hospitals to check their drug supply for all product purchased from NECC and discontinue use at this time.”

Florida health officials said Friday there are 17 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis due to contaminated steroids administered for back pain.
Four new cases were announced: a woman from Escambia County, and three Marion County women.
Three of the 17 people with meningitis have died, and across the U.S., the death toll has risen to 20 people. It's part of a national outbreak due to tainted steroids sold to health clinics in 16 states by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.
Meningitis is caused by the inflammation of protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Fungal meningitis is not contagious; health officials said that the condition was caused by tainted steroid spinal injections from the New England Compounding Center.
Dr. John Armstrong, Florida's surgeon general and secretary of health said that Floridians should not be worried about any NECC medication in any pharmacy.
"We want to reassure the people of Florida that no community pharmacy has had any NECC medications," he said. "This includes the top 10 pharmacy chains."
Residents with questions or concerns can call a meningitis hotline at 866-523-7339. Armstrong said more than 1,000 people have called so far.
Eight facilities in Florida received the contaminated lots of steroids but only six used them. Of the 1,038 people in Florida who received the injections, all but two have been contacted by state health officials.
The number of people exposed to contaminated steroids linked to a Framingham compounding pharmacy grew to 14,000 Thursday, and health officials said patients who got joint injections also may have been infected.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Can You Stay Healthy and Lose Weight? YES!

We are a culture obsessed with esthetics. Everyone wants to lose weight and be thin to look like the models in magazines and stars on TV and in movies. The problem is, we as Americans are more concerned with the way we look then how healthy we are. If you treat your nutrition properly however, you can have both.

The amount of “diets” out there today to lose weight are growing on a daily basis. Some are nutritionally sound and some are seriously flawed. Most of them areshort-term fixes for rapid weight loss with no concern for overall nutrition. Some purport to be healthy nutritional diets allowing weight loss while increasing nutritional competence. Most of them fail miserably at this.
Nutrition has gone through faddish times. During the early to mid 60’s, which we’ll call the Atkins protein era, the emphasis was on a very high protein diet (usually to the expense of fresh whole vegetables, fruits and grains.) There were many fortified foods that supplied the diet with increased amounts of protein. Not much attention was given to the source of the protein or the completeness of it either.

During the early to mid 70’s the shift was made to carbohydrate-based diets. By the end of the 1970’s the focus of diets were extremely high carbohydrates, most of them complex, more fresh fruits and vegetables. This was a healthier alternative to the high protein situation. However, still not the most healthful diet.

By the mid 1980’s the attention had shifted away from very high carbohydrates, to more moderate carbohydrate levels, complex carbohydrates, and more fresh fruits and vegetables. The USDA for the first time in 30 years changed their attitude of what constituted good nutrition by replacing the “four food groups”, (one of the groups being the dairy group, an absolute absurdity) with the “food pyramid”. Although the food pyramid falls short of absolute good nutrition, it comes a lot closer to what the ideal should be.

Diets towards the end of the 80’s and into early 90’s began again to shift back
towards the very high protein situation at the expense of fresh fruits and vegetables. They centered on such diets as the Atkins diet which promotes very high levels of protein with almost no carbohydrate, and on the modification of the Atkins diet, the Zonediet by Dr. Barry Sears, Ph.D. Dr. Sear's diet, although not as limiting and absolute as the Atkins diet, falls short nutritionally in many areas. First of all, it’s almost impossible for the average person to follow it, being extremely complicated and relying theoretically on bio-chemical processes that may not actually occur in living humans. Second of all, it’s not centered in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in certain vitamins.

The basis of healthy weight loss however, centers on one factor and one factor alone, and that is: you must eat a low volume of calories in order to lose weight. This is something that no one who has been on rebound diets or likes fad diets wants to accept. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the weight loss study through the thousands of people who have participated, it’s that eating less calories than your body actually requires to sustain its weight is the only way you can lose weight. Even when exercising sufficiently and burning many calories throughexercise, unless you eat less calories than your body is going to expend on a daily basis you will never, ever lose fat.

What is healthy eating and what is a good, balanced nutritional diet? My diet consists of 30% protein, 50% carbohydrate and 20% fat. All of my fats are of vegetable source and either polysaturated or monosaturated. All of my proteins are from plant sources or animal sources that are high in protein and low in fats, such as oily fin fishes, shellfish and poultry. Most of my carbohydrates are fresh vegetables. The rest are whole grains and fruit