Wednesday, April 27, 2005

New Food Pyramid Unveiled

The U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced its revised food pyramid to the public last week. But despite the sizable $2.5 million sum payed to the international marketing firm Porter Novelli for the creation of its symbol, many nutrition experts remained unimpressed with its substance. The goal of the pyramid was to distill the 70-page Dietary Guidelines for Americans into a graphic that would be useful to the public. But much of the details seem lost in translation. Check it out for yourself at

Thursday, April 21, 2005

NRDC Call-a-Thon

The Natural Resources Defense Council is rallying people together today in hopes of pressuring Bayer to stop selling the highly toxic pesticide lindane, which has been banned in more than 35 countries around the world. Lindane is an old, dangerous pesticide that targets the central nervous system and can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, seizures and coma. The chemical builds up in our bodies, and has been found in the blood and breast milk of people worldwide.

Aspiring activists are asked to call Bayer's Crop Sciences North American today, Thursday, April 21, from 9am-5pm EST and leave a message for Wayne Carlson, the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, urging Bayer to stop distributing this chemical. The call-in number is: 1-919-549-2828 (please note, this is not a toll-free call).

Friday, April 15, 2005

Runners Now Cautioned Against Drinking

Bucking traditional wisdom, some doctors are now cautioning runners against drinking too much during intense exercise. According to new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, an increasing number of athletes are severely diluting their blood by drinking too much fluid. The research involved 488 runners in the 2002 Boston Marathon. The runners gave blood samples before and after the race. These samples revealed that 13 percent had drank so much that they had hyponatremia, or abnormally low blood sodium levels. In three cases, the levels were so low that they were in danger of dying. Apparently, intense exercise prevents the kidneys from excreting excess water. As people keep drinking, the extra water moves into their cells, including brain cells. The engorged brain cells, with no room to expand, press against the skull and can compress the brain stem, the results of which can be fatal.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Onions Could Curb Osteoporosis

Scientists from the University of Bern in Switzerland believe they've discovered a compound in white onions that is able to reduce the breakdown of bone. The Swiss researchers fed dried white onion flakes (or extracts made from onion flakes) to young male rats. The rats also received injections of a chemical that marks bone loss. Based on levels of that chemical in the rats' urine, the onion-eating rats lost less bone. In addition, the scientists harvested bone cells from rats and then exposed them to parathyroid hormone, which increases bone breakdown. When these bone cells were later treated with onion extract, it seemed to curb bone loss. Continued research is underway.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Majority of Cancer Deaths Preventable

Over 60 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented if people stopped smoking, exercised more, ate healthier food and underwent recommended cancer screenings, according to the American Cancer Society. This year 1.368 million Americans will learn they have cancer and 563,700 will die. "The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2005, more than 168,140 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco use alone," the organization said in a statement. "In addition, scientists estimate that approximately one third (190,090) of the 570,280 cancer deaths expected to occur in 2005 will be related to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, overweight, obesity and other lifestyle factors." That totals 358,230, or 62 percent, of all cancer deaths.