Friday, July 29, 2005

Health - Week In Review

So much has been happening this month in our industry it's been hard to keep up with the news...

For example, on July 19 the USA Senate confirmed the nomination of Lester M. Crawford as the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration by a vote of 78 to 16.

He was nominated for the post by President Bush in February, but the nomination was put on hold because several senators were unsatisfied with his explanation of why a "morning after pill" has not been approved for use without a prescription. The FDA is expected to decide by Sept. 1/05 whether the pill could be sold without a prescription. We'll bring you more info on this controversial subject in September.

In other news, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has filed a petition to place warning labels on soft drinks that contain caloric sweeteners. They want a series of rotating health notices on containers of all non-diet soft drinks - carbonated and non-carbonated - containing more than 13 grams of refined sugar per 12 oz.

And the glycemic index (GI) is being embraced in some areas of the world as a tool to help control appetite, weight, obesity, diabetes and other health concerns but it's not being too warmly received by American scientists, according to panelists at a session held during the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo.

There's more... much more.

Have you read all our latest articles online? They're posted at:

- Pfizer Drug Giant Warned By FDA
- SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora The Explorer, and Kids Nutrition
- Is It The Low-Carbs ...Or Is It The Protein That Helps Shed Pounds?
- Are We Unintentionally Killing Our Kids With Fluoride?
- Why Use Pharmaceutical Grade Bottles For Supplements?
- Fun Facts: How Do You Get Better Bubbles In Chocolate?
- Women and Infertility - New Study

More on the way. Stay tuned... and stay healthy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora The Explorer, and Kids Nutrition

Nickelodeon, the children's television programmer, has licensed several of its characters - including SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer - to several fresh produce distributors that will begin introducing a range of fruits and vegetable packages featuring the Nickelodeon characters in supermarkets next month.

Starting this fall, Grimmway Farms, Inc., Arvin, CA, will produce 1.6-oz single serving to 5-lb bags of baby cut and peeled carrots in pkgs featuring SpongeBob, Dora, and Sportacus & Stephanie. Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, CA will feature SpongeBob on its bags of spinach. And LGS Specialty Sales, NY, distributors of oranges, tangerines and clementines, will feature SpongeBob, Dora, Blue's Clues and The Backyardigans characters on its bags of fruit. Upcoming deals also include using Nickelodeon characters on cartons of low fat milk.

"Nickelodeon recognizes the importance of health and wellness for kids and is proud of the efforts the network is making to encourage kids to eat right and make healthy food choices," said Sherice Torres, vice-president, Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products. "We're thrilled to be able to add to the fun of eating fruits and vegetables."

The network also plans to unveil a series of public service announcements that focus on the importance of starting the day by eating a balanced breakfast.

According to "Kids Food and Eating Behaviors," a research study conducted by Nickelodeon and Cogent Research, only 50% of kids in the USA eat breakfast everyday and only 39% of kids eat 3 meals per day on a daily basis.

On-air, the network has committed $20 million and 10% of its air time to health and wellness messaging.

I think they need to hear about Goji Juice :-)

Food Business News July 26, 2005

Pfizer Drug Giant Warned By FDA

FDA regulators warned Pfizer Inc. about "misleading promotion" of its antibiotic drug Zyvox in a professional journal, according to a letter released Tuesday, July 26, 2005.

The advertisement does not include information about Zyvox's risks, implies it is superior without supporting evidence, and claims it can treat more infections than for which it was approved, the Food and Drug Administration letter said.

The agency called on the drugmaker to halt the advertisement and take the extra step of sending out new, more accurate promotions.

"Because the violations ... are serious, we request, further, that your submission include a comprehensive plan of action to disseminate truthful, nonmisleading and complete corrective messages," the letter said.

Patients using the drug can experience blood disorders like anemia and a build-up of lactic acid in the cells and blood -- but those risks were not included in the ad, the FDA said.

Source: CNN Money, Reuters News Release - FDA warns Pfizer about drug ad: Regulators warn the drugmaker about "misleading promotion" of its antibiotic drug Zyvox. July 26, 2005: 11:36 AM EDT

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Are We Unintentionally Killing Our Kids With Fluoride?

Fluoride in tap water can cause bone cancer in boys, a disturbing new study indicates, although there is no evidence yet of a link for girls.

New American research suggests that boys exposed to fluoride between the ages of five and 10 will suffer an increased rate of osteosarcoma - bone cancer - between the ages of 10 and 19.

The recent Associated Press Release on the subject points out that about 10 per cent of the UK population, six million people, receive fluoridated water, mainly in the Midlands and north-east, and the government plans to extend this, with Manchester expected to be next.

About 170 million Americans live in areas with fluoridated water.

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway , Switzerland, West Germany, Netherlands and Italy have all banned the addition of hydrofluorosilic acid to drinking water. So have Japan and India, where fluoride occurs naturally and skeletal fluorosis (thickening of bones) is prevalent.

The increased cancer risks, identified in the newly available study conducted at the Harvard School of Dental Health, were found at fluoride exposure levels common in both the US and Britain. It was the first examination of the link between exposure to the chemical at the critical period of a child's development and the age of onset of bone cancer.

Although osteosarcoma is rare, accounting for only about 3 per cent of childhood cancers, it is especially dangerous. The mortality rate in the first five years is about 50 per cent, and nearly all survivors have limbs amputated, usually legs...

To read our complete article on this subject and view sources, visit our online version of BLV Health Watch through this link.

For text version recipients of this newsletter, here's the link again:

Our son who just reached 5-years-old last week, is not allowed to use fluoridated tooth paste. He is allowed to use Dr. Mindell's toothpaste, or a children's toothpaste from another company we are affiliated with --- made from all-natural ingredients neither of which contain ANY harmful chemicals such as fluoride. Plus we live in an area without public water. Our water comes from our own well and we also use a purifyer for our drinking water.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Plastic Softeners - Some Dangers Confirmed

The next time you grab that soft squeezable bottle of water, soft drink, juice... or even liquid supplement, keep in mind that plastic softeners (also known as phthalates) are used to make that bottle soft.

In a big move this year, the European Parliament has voted to permanently ban the use of plastic softeners used in children’s toys. A total ban extends to three phthalates, DEHP, DBP and BBP, which have been classified as reprotoxic and linked with cancer, as reported recently in "Chemistry & Industry Magazine."

A recent clinical study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) appears to support the fact that dangers do exist for us in regards to DEHP.

And when you read the recent UK Guardian article on the subject, you might think twice about drinking from that soft bottle. And you might get a better understanding from the USAToday news article why leaching of these chemicals (phthalates) from soft plastic products should get more research attention.

Get the details in our full article "Why Use Pharmaceutical Grade Bottles For Supplements?" with some links to both sides of the story.

For those of you receiving the text version, here's the link:

New Clinical Study - Infertility And Women

New research suggests that medications commonly referred to as fertility drugs may be ineffective for women who lack a gene called the estrogen receptor beta, as reported in a recent press release by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

View BLV Health Watch online for the full details through this link.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hormone That Controls Appetite Linked To Memory And Learning

Researchers from Dundee University have found a link between the hormone leptin, thought to control appetite, and the brain's memory and learning process.

The Scottish scientists involved in the research note that there is already much evidence to show how the hormone leptin signals information regarding the status of fat stores to specific receptors located in the hypothalamus region of the brain. According to them, this controls our desire to eat, and therefore, our weight.

But leptin and its receptor are widely expressed in many brain regions outside the hypothalamus and evidence is accumulating that it has other neuronal functions that are unrelated to its effects on energy homeostasis.

This includes research showing that leptin has a significant influence on learning and memory processes in the hippocampus region.

Jenni Harvey, one of the Dundee researchers, told the BBC: "Leptin enhances the level of communication between brain cells in the hippocampus in a process known as long-term potentiation (LTP). Defects in either leptin or genes that regulate leptin result in obesity and also cause impairments in LTP."

Previous studies have found that people who are obese throughout life are more likely to lose brain tissue, and scientists have already predicted that the current obesity epidemic will give rise to a major increase in dementia.

Earlier this year California based Kaiser Permanente, a health care delivery organization, cautioned that developed countries may face an explosion in age-related dementia in the next 20 years if they fail to contain the present obesity crisis.

In a longitudinal population-based study conducted over a 27-year period and published in May 2005 in the online version of the British Medical Journal, researchers concluded that being overweight or obese in middle age considerably increases risk of dementia in later life.

According to the May 2005 research, the initial onset of dementia may also affect appetite and cause weight loss.

In my humble opinion, I feel a whole lot better knowing I have 4 master molecules going to work inside my body everyday. They're my "little generals" organizing and instructing my cells and hormones to do what they were intended to do.


Hunger hormone also involved in memory and learning
Overweight countries face dementia epidemic
Obesity in middle age and future risk of dementia: a 27 year longitudinal population based study
BBC - Hunger hormone linked to memory


Read our latest articles online at:

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What Is Lycium Barbarum?

Ever since the LA Times article came out about lycium barbarum early this week, and how it may repress some cancer cells, we've been flooded with calls and requests for further information.

To clear up the confusion, I've written a new article dedicated to this nutritional miracle.

You can find out all about lycium barbarum through this link.

If you're receiving the text-only version of our blog, here is the link again:

Contact us if you have any further questions. We'll be happy to help!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

On The Subject of Ribose - Good or Bad?

July 13, 2005 the Associated Press article came out written by their Medical Writer, Lindsey Tanner, with the bold headline "Study: What's Good Often Turns Out Bad"

The opening quote:

"New research highlights a frustrating fact about science: What was good for you yesterday frequently will turn out to be not so great tomorrow."

Now at first, I was expecting yet another article with a negative slant towards vitamins and natural health and well being research, etc... since much of today's media seems to enjoy bashing all the positive research in this area --- but what I found was something pleasantly different, and totally in line with what I've been talking about in previous special subscriber-only editions of BLV Health Watch.

The study being referred to in the article was conducted by Dr. John Ioannidis, a researcher at the University of Ioannina in Greece.

In a review of major studies published in three influential medical journals between 1990 and 2003, including 45 highly publicized studies that initially claimed a drug or other treatment worked, nearly one-third of the original results did not hold up, according to the report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Contradicted and potentially exaggerated findings are not uncommon in the most visible and most influential original clinical research," said study author, Dr. Ioannidis.

According to the Associated Press article, Ioannidis examined research in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA and Lancet — prominent journals whose weekly studies help feed a growing public appetite for medical news.

Editors at the New England Journal of Medicine added in a statement: "A single study is not the final word, and that is an important message."

Quoted from the AP article:

The refuted studies dealt with a wide range of drugs and treatments. Hormone pills were once thought to protect menopausal women from heart disease but later were shown to do the opposite, and Vitamin E pills have not been shown to prevent heart attacks, contrary to initial results.

Contradictions also included a study that found nitric oxide does not improve survival in patients with respiratory failure, despite earlier claims. And a study suggested an antibody treatment did not improve survival in certain sepsis patients; a smaller previous study found the opposite.

Ioannidis acknowledged an important but not very reassuring caveat: "There's no proof that the subsequent studies ... were necessarily correct." But he noted that in all 14 cases in which results were contradicted or softened, the subsequent studies were either larger or better designed. Also, none of the contradicted treatments is currently recommended by medical guidelines.

Not by accident, this week's JAMA also includes a study contradicting previous thinking that stomach-lying helped improve breathing in children hospitalized with acute lung injuries. The new study found they did no better than patients lying on their backs.

DeAngelis said she included the study with Ioannidis' report to highlight the issue. She said the media can complicate matters with misleading or exaggerated headlines about studies.

Ioannidis said scientists and editors should avoid "giving selective attention only to the most promising or exciting results" and should make the public more aware of the limitations of science.

"The general public should not panic" about refuted studies, he said. "We all need to start thinking more critically."

This leads directly into a request we got from one of our readers to review information on ribose.

Our subscriber had found one study on the subject, titled, "Research: Benefit of Ribose in a Patient With Fibromyalgia"

Here's a quick overview of what the study was about...


Ribose was added to the existing treatment regimen of a woman with fibromyalgia, resulting in a decrease in symptoms. It has been postulated that patients with fibromyalgia may have an alteration in muscle adenine nucleotide metabolism, leading to depleted energy reserves and an imbalance in cellular adenosine-triphosphate:adenosine 5'-diphosphate:adenosine 5'-monophosphate (ATP:ADP:AMP) ratios with an abnormal energy charge. As a key component in adenine nucleotide synthesis, ribose supplementation may be useful in such patients.

Needless to say in our opinion, one study on one woman does not make findings conclusive.

I hunted for additional studies on the subject and I wasn't very impressed by the data I did manage to find. I don't want to be overly negative, but I did find plenty of info on the subject from various websites refuting any benefits --- specifically as they relate to energy and/or athletic performance benefits. One such website (note - the info on this site is a bit old) stated:

"The only research that supports a ribose supplement comes from research on patients with heart conditions who lack the ability to synthesis ribose in the first place. The bottom line on Ribose is that there is still a great deal of research to be done before any claims of athletic performance benefits can be made unequivocally. You'd be wise to save your money and put in some time at the gym rather than relying on this supplement just yet."

What is ribose?

According to one educational site, ribose is a type of 5-carbon sugar, an aldopentose found in riboflavin and ribonucleic acid (RNA) as well as in free ribonucleosides and ribonucleotides. Ribose is a simple carbohydrate that plays a role in high-energy phosphate and nucleic acid synthesis.

Needless to say, there are many sites out there selling ribose. Sometimes all it takes is one positive study (regardless of how thorough the study was) and there's a rush to get it to market.

Here at BLV, we're not convinced on the benefits of ribose supplements at this time.

Hope this answers the questions our reader had on this subject. Sorry --- it probably was not the answer you were hoping to hear.

Visit our July edition of BLV Health Watch online for the full links to sources for this article.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Are Your Favorite Supplements in the EU About To Disappear?

On July 5, 2005 we got the word that Codex adopted international guidelines for vitamins and minerals. Just one short week later the bad news came out for the UK’s "Health Food Manufacturers Association" (HFMA) and other groups such as the "Consumers for Health Choice" who have been protesting - to no avail - another law affecting the supplement industry.

"The European food supplements directive is valid, decided a European court ruling today, ending months of uncertainty for much of the region's supplements industry, and disappointing those behind a major effort to overturn the law."

The HFMA and the National Association of Health food Stores (NAHS), responsible for the joint case against the Commission, say the directive threatens up to 5,000 commonly consumed products on sale in the UK because they contain more than 200 nutrients not on the directive's "positive" list of permitted substances.

The trade bodies have today asked the British Prime Minister to intervene in Europe following their defeat.

How will this affect your access to supplements?

For those supplements already on the "approved" list, you might actually see lower prices and more competition because it opens the door for companies supplying supplements on this list to import to your region.

For supplements that are not listed might have to kiss them goodbye after August 1 when the law goes into effect.

...or wait a great deal of time and expect dramatically higher prices while those ingredients go through the process (and expensive testing) to get on the approved list...

Oh --- and don't expect all of the supplements not yet approved to go through the process to get on the list. It's an expensive process. So expensive that the UK released funding to support more supplement dossiers in June.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it wanted to encourage further dossier submission, by giving derogation to all dossiers submitted in the UK or another member state, and supporting the scientific work, in order to protect consumer choice in the UK.

At that time, only 29 dossiers had been submitted to the FSA. A major barrier to their submission was cost, which can go up to €350,000 for the more complex materials, which have little readily available data.

The funding helped push up the number of submissions but the deadline to submit and get on the list was July 12 --- oddly enough, that's the same date that was given for the final court ruling to come out which determined whether or not the directive would go through at all.

In a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research at the end of May this year, Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the rules implied by the supplements directive were "wholly out of proportion to the risks run."

In fact, earlier in April the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, although not legally binding, stated the European Union's food supplement directive, set to enter into force in August, infringes basic principles of European law and should be rewritten which pushed the directive back into court.

Both Tony Blair's and the senior judge's position on the matter gave quite a bit of hope to groups like the CHC, NAHS and HFMA that the directive would not go through.

But --- the decision has been handed down.

The directive will roll forward with an August 1 entry into law for the EU.

USA and Canadian residents... if you think this won't affect us, well... you just might change your mind when you know more about CODEX and realize it is coming from the World Health Organization, a standard both our countries tend to follow.

If you're a regular reader of BLV Health Watch, you've read past updates I've posted on this subject. If you are new to our newsletter, you can search our archives through this link:

I'll try to keep you informed as this story unfolds.

Meanwhile, any feedback our European friends can send our way as to what DOES happen on August 1 ...and in the weeks/months following... would be greatly appreciated. We would like to hear how this directly affects our loyal readers living in the EU.

Sidenote: What is really sad about all of this in my humble opinion is that science has really only begun to study the many benefits that can be derived from plant life on our planet. Many mysteries and wonderful health benefits are being discovered on a regular basis only in recent years --- and I'm certain there are many more to come. Will this directive and/or CODEX prevent access to future incredible discoveries for "we, the people?" If it does, I have a feeling the boomers might have quite a lot to say about it.

What (Or Who) Is Winning The Cancer War?

I'm probably in trouble just for posting this article on our website... and someone may come along insisting I take it down.

So, if you want to read it, you better rush over to our latest edition of BLV Health Watch at:

Look for the article:

"Diet Vs. Drugs - What (Or Who) Is Winning The Cancer War?"

Posted July 17, 2005

The new study released will open some eyes. But hurry, I'm not sure how long this article can remain on our site.

Stay well. Be healthy.

We appreciate you!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Animal Feed Staple Might Evolve to Super Food of the Future

South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced this week that it will collaborate with eight other African research organisations in a $17m project to develop a more nutritious sorghum cereal, reports the country's Business Day publication.

Africa grows more than 50% of the world's sorghum, adapted to harsh climatic conditions, which is the dietary staple for more than a half billion poor people worldwide.

But it lacks important vitamins and minerals. According to the CSIR, the new research aims to boost levels of vitamins A and E, iron, zinc, and essential amino acids.

In the West, amid recent high prices for corn and wheat, the resilient sorghum grain has been the focus of research to tease out new functionalities from this cheap, easy to grow food crop.

Used principally for animal feed by 'developed' countries, in a recent ARS (US government) study, food scientist Scott Bean at ARS in Manhattan, Kansas, investigated the kernels of food-grade sorghum, aiming to bring the gluten-free grain into mainstream food products such as breads, biscuits, pizza crusts and noodles.

"We are working on identifying the chemical reasons behind why certain sorghum hybrids are of much better quality – crumb grain, texture of bread – than others," said Scott Bean, lead researcher on the project.

We already know most experts believe the goji berry is possibly the most nutritionally dense food on our planet. It will be interesting to see how the new sorghum of the future measures up.

Stay tuned!

Source: FoodNavigator/Europe