2010/10/31

Health and Fitness for Monday November 1, 2010

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Pfizer recalls more Lipitor over odors

NEW YORK (UPI) -- Pfizer is recalling yet more Lipitor shipments over reports of unpleasant odors, the drug company said.

The New York company announced Friday a recall of about 38,000 bottles of 40-milligram tablets distributed in the United States, The Wall Street Journal reported. Pfizer recalled about 332,000 bottles of the cholesterol-lowering medicine in August.

The company linked the uncharacteristic smell to the bottles, which it said were supplied by an outside manufacturer in Puerto Rico.

Pfizer warned there may be more recalls because products made before production procedures were fixed could still be on the market.

The company said Friday the odor is consistent with the presence of 2,4,6 tribromoanisole, or TBA, which was found at a very low level in a sample bottle during the probe that led to the first recall. TBA is used as a wood preservative on pallets.

Pfizer spokesman Ray Kerins said the company has taken steps to cut risk of TBA contamination, including requiring the use of plastic pallets to transport empty bottles.

Lipitor is the best-selling prescription drug in the world.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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Brain circuitry, PSTD flashback link

MINNEAPOLIS (UPI) -- U.S. researchers have linked increased activity in the right side of the brain to flashbacks related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Flashbacks -- the re-living of past experiences -- and/or recurring nightmares, anger or hyper-vigilance mark the disorder that can follow any psychologically traumatic event.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis used a non-invasive measurement of the brain's magnetic fields called magnetoencephalography to identify flashbacks linked to a hyperactive brain network.

The researchers found differences between signals in the temporal and parieto-occipital right hemispheric areas of the brain that other types of brain scans -- such as X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging -- have not shown. In those with PTSD, the temporal cortex is thought to be responsible for the re-living of past experience, the researchers say.

The study, published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, finds a clear difference in activity among the circuitry in the brains of PTSD sufferers versus those without the condition.

"Having a diagnostic exam capable of confirming post-traumatic stress disorder is critical in treating these patients properly," Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, the study leader, said in a statement.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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High deductibles can delay healthcare

LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- Californians who have health insurance plans with high-deductibles -- more than $1,000 -- may delay care or risk financial jeopardy, researchers say.

A report from the Center for Health Policy Research at the University of California, Los Angeles, says 3 million Californians in 2007 were enrolled in high-deductible health plans, many of them self-employed or poor who often cannot afford the deductible and put off healthcare.

Lead author Dylan Roby says high-deductible plans are defined as those that have out-of-pocket deductibles of $1,000 or more for individuals or $2,000 or more for families, some which can exceed $5,000 annually.

"Many Californians can't afford higher-premium plans, especially in the current economic climate," Roby says in a statement. "But the alternative -- high-deductible plans -- may cost less initially but can cost thousands of dollars when you need healthcare."

The study also says the vast majority of members in high-deductible health plans had no health savings account that might help mitigate the cost of the deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.

Roby says healthcare reform -- The Affordable Care Act -- which help these families because the California Health Benefits Exchange will provide more robust insurance as part of national healthcare reform, while capping out-of-pocket deductibles at $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families, and offering subsidies for those with low incomes.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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New device may reveal brain injury secrets

LONDON (UPI) -- British researchers are probing the puzzling second wave of damage -- days after the initial injury -- found in some head injury patients.

About 1 million people with head injuries annually in United States experience a mysterious second round of brain damage days after the initial injury, just as they appear to be recovering.

Limited clinical trials are in progress using a new monitoring device capable of second-by-second monitoring of brain chemistry, the researchers say.

The device -- developed at the Imperial College London -- uses the "microfluidic method" to measure glucose quickly as an indicator of activity in fractions of a second.

Brain activity decreases in patients following initial trauma with chemical changes spreading from the injury site and knocking out nerve cells -- what researchers call depolarization. It takes large amounts of glucose to reactivate the cells, so monitoring glucose levels can help doctors tell whether or not a patient is taking a turn for the worse, the researchers say.

The new device also is being tested on patients who have suffered trauma, stroke or aneurysm, the researchers say.

The study is published in Chemical & Engineering News.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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Get Ready for Thanksgiving

Start planning for Thanksgiving well in advance, and make sure you're ready for the big day when it rolls around! Learn how to host a Thanksgiving party, try out some new stuffing recipes, or -- if you're feeling especially daring -- have a go at deep-frying your turkey this year!

Helpful tips, recipes, and more are available fee from the ArcaMax Thanksgiving Feature, as well as trivia, interactive quizzes, and books to sample free from BookDaily.

-- From the ArcaMax editors

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Pet Products May Be Hazardous To Your Pets

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Pet Products May Be Hazardous To Your Pets

Linda Chae

There are few events more distressing than the injury or death of a pet. Psychologists have likened it to the death of a family member.

After the recent pet food contamination that killed some pets and made many others sick, worldwide attention focused on making sure pet products are SAFE. Can you honestly trust most manufactures to do that for you?

Products we normally use on our pets – shampoos, odor eliminators, etc. – may create health concerns for our pets just as they can impact our health. Toxic synthetic chemicals used in personal care products are also used in pet care formulas. When scientific studies show these ingredients cause cancer, heart disease, hormone disruption and other aging diseases in humans, the tests on animals generally have the same results.

We need to be aware that chemical ingredients cost pennies and profits are huge, so incentives to inform consumers may be missing. Our pets’ lives are more important than that. I, for one, am willing to spend more to protect my pets and extend the quality of their lives.

Living on a ranch presents a host of unique problems every day. Our horses, dogs and cats are exposed to more things that require greater care than you can imagine. So, I have had the opportunity to identify a variety of solutions for these four-legged loved ones. That includes protecting them from various problems in the environment, small critters and the irresponsible actions of two-legged creatures as well.

Here is what I have learned:

Shampooing is a major effort that can be very messy. Putting your dog in the bathtub or shower isn’t exactly fun for them or you. I recommend using a safe, ToxicFree® pet shampoo. Remember, you are applying it all over their body and most of the time it is not all rinsed out of their hair. So you’ll want one without harmful ingredients or drying agents that will irritate their skin. Find a natural, organic shampoo without synthetic chemicals that can affect your pet’s overall health. It may cost a few pennies more per application, but the safety of our pets is worth it.

Can you imagine having your pet sprayed by a skunk? It’s the worst smell and it lingers for days! Our dogs have greeted us with this unpleasant odor and it nearly drives us out of the house. We use an oxygen-based odor eliminator to neutralize the worst pet odors safely. I recommend you look for products with NO artificial fragrance. Synthetic fragrance is toxic for pets and humans. These petroleum-based ingredients settle and hover about 12” off the floor where pets and babies (if you have any) spend a lot of time – walking and crawling through non-biodegradable toxins!

As an informed consumer, you can make effective, healthy choices –for yourself AND your pets. I recommend you avoid the following at all cost:

• Sodium laureth sulfate: ethoxylated cleanser found in most shampoos - may contain dioxane, which is banned by the California Safe Cosmetic Act.
• DEA (diethanolamine): carcinogenic foaming agent; significant risk to children (National Toxicology Program; FDA Office of Cosmetic Fact Sheets)
• Propylene glycol: can cause brain, liver and kidney abnormalities (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
• Parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, ethyl): xeno-estrogens which may contribute to sterility and hormone imbalances (Brunel University)
• Fragrance (usually contain phthalates): highly toxic; can affect central nervous system (Environmental Health Network; FDA Office of cosmetics Fact Sheet).

I sincerely hope this information is helpful. We all love our pets. Now you can protect your little friends and feel confident you are making the very best choices for them. Extend your pet’s life…now.

========

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Get Ready for Thanksgiving

Start planning for Thanksgiving well in advance, and make sure you're ready for the big day when it rolls around! Learn how to host a Thanksgiving party, try out some new stuffing recipes, or -- if you're feeling especially daring -- have a go at deep-frying your turkey this year!

Helpful tips, recipes, and more are available fee from the ArcaMax Thanksgiving Feature, as well as trivia, interactive quizzes, and books to sample free from BookDaily.

-- From the ArcaMax editors

 

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Carolyn Hax for Monday November 1, 2010

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How Can I Survive Paying My Debt?

Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

I am in a large amount of debt from stupid decisions combined with a year of unemployment. I make a very good salary now but have little to spend after I pay my bills. I am on fixed payment plans, and while I will be totally out of debt in four years, I will have basically zero extra money for those four years.

My boyfriend and I had planned to get married, but with my financial situation we aren't going to be able to save up much, and having children is completely out of the question for four years (at which point I will be 30). I guess I am asking how I survive the next four years getting nothing I want and not being able to move forward with my life at all.

-- Ohio


Survive? You're in debt, not Haiti.

And who says you're getting nothing you want and not moving forward? You have a job that pays you well, you've found someone you want to grow old with, and it's mutual, you'll be debt-free in four years, and you're all of 26. So, no big vacations or other indulgences, but that's the way most students, nonprofit types, many hourly workers, etc., are living. Your situation is not drastic, it's inconvenient, and to the best of your knowledge it's temporary.

If you have a simple wedding, you'll move forward. If you find ways to travel on a shoestring, you'll move forward. If you learn to cook frugally and healthfully, or to do without things you used to regard as necessary, or scour your area code for free things to do, or pick up yoga by getting DVDs from the library, you'll move forward. And, barring fertility issues, waiting a few years to have kids won't have serious consequences, and might just make you a more mature parent.

Dear Carolyn:

A girl I used to be close friends with has become super-competitive and feels the need to one-up me on everything I say or do. It's become very frustrating to have a simple conversation with her. How do I handle talking to her so I do not encourage her to keep doing this? I do not want to participate in the competition and want to make this clear.

-- Louisville


The only way to make it absolutely clear is to decline to return her volleys. Anytime she crows about something, and you find yourself responding with some defense of what you did or said, then stop yourself -- mid-sentence if need be -- and say, "Oh never mind," then change the subject. You want to respond to one-uppings with "Hey, that's great!" or "Really? I'm so happy for you" and nothing else.

It will probably stick in your throat, since it will feel like rewarding a one-upper, but it's merely a short-term reward. What she really wants -- the long-term reward she's after -- is attention. Being jealous would give her that attention, as would resenting her success, or questioning your own accomplishments.

A breezy "Good for you!" on the other hand, has the great advantage of being a kind response to someone secure, and a deflating response to someone insecure. That's just the right target to hit.

========

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.



Copyright 2010 Washington Post Writers Group

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Pearls Before Swine for Monday November 1, 2010

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About Italian Food: The weather didn't help at all...

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Italian Food

Quick/Easy Recipes

Le Basi

Classic Recipes



From Kyle Phillips, your Guide to Italian Food
With Halloween this year: The Casa del Popolo in the next tows organized a Halloween party with activities indoors and out, including a bonfire and trick-or-treating, which sounded like a lot of fun so I took Daughter C and a couple of cousins to it. And they did have fun indoors, for a while -- all the kids from C's school were there -- but it was pouring, so no bonfire and no trick-or-treating. So we went home, and while the kids played I built a fire in the den, the first of the year, and grilled steaks and sausages, which we served with all sorts of veggies and a 1999 Brunello which was quite nice. Fun, and at about 11 -- after it had stopped raining one of C's classmates did come trick-or-treating. Tomorrow will be All Saint's Day, and the day after Il Giorno dei Morti, the Day of the Dead, i.e. Memorial Day

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Porchetta!
And doesn't this make a fine Halloween image? I took it on the third day of Torino's Salone del Gusto at a porchetta stand in the Regione Marche's area, and... Read more

On Storing Dried PorciniÂ...
Fresh porcini mushrooms are wonderful, but they're only available after a period of rains, and (usually) only in autumn or winter. During the rest of the year the only option... Read more

On Piccata...
Got a note from Maria, who writes, In today's food section of the San Francisco Chronicle there was an article about Chicken Piccata and the origin of "piccata". The writer... Read more

Cakes, Pies, Pastries, Biscotti and More
Italy has incredibly rich pastry traditions, from rich Sicilian cannoli and Cassata to the seductive orange-laced ricciarelli from Siena, and on to the elegant chocolatey wonders of the areas long under Austria. Something for everyone and every occasion!

 


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