Suicide, Not Car Crashes, #1 Cause of Injury Death

Sept. 20, 2012 — Suicide has overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S.

While public health efforts have curbed the number of car fatalities by 25% over the last decade, a new study shows suicide deaths rose by 15% during the same period.

In addition, deaths from unintentional poisoning and falls have also increased dramatically in recent years.

Researchers found deaths caused by accidental poisoning and falls increased by 128% and 71%, respectively.

“Comprehensive and sustained traffic safety measures have apparently substantially diminished the motor vehicle traffic mortality rate, and similar attention and resources are needed to reduce the burden of other injury,” researcher Ian Rockett, PhD, MPH of West Virginia University and colleagues write in the American Journal of Public Health.

Causes of Death Evolving

In the study, researchers looked at cause of death data from the National Center for Health Statistics from 2000 to 2009.

“Contrasting with disease mortality, the injury mortality rate trended upward during most of that decade,” write the researchers.

The top five leading causes of injury-related deaths were:

  1. Suicide
  2. Motor vehicle crashes
  3. Poisoning
  4. Falls
  5. Homicide

Researchers say the findings demonstrate that suicide is now a global public health issue.

“Our finding that suicide now accounts for more deaths than do traffic crashes echoes similar findings for the European Union, Canada, and China,” they write.

Researchers say deaths from unintentional poisoning rose, in part, because of a sharp rise in prescription drug overdoses.

For example, drug overdoses accounted for 75% of unintentional poisoning deaths in 2008, with prescription drugs accounting for 74% of those overdoses.

The study also showed that women had a lower injury-related death rate than men. Blacks and Hispanics had a lower rate of car fatalities and suicides, and a higher rate of homicides than whites.

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Author: Jennifer Warner

Vitamin D in Pregnancy May Be Key for Baby’s Brain

Sept. 20, 2012 Babies score higher on development tests if their moms get enough vitamin D during pregnancy, according to a Spanish study.

But this is also not a cause for healthy women to start worrying.

Nearly 2,000 mothers and their babies participated in the study, which found that inadequate vitamin D is linked to poorer mental and movement skills in infants.

“This study is really going to open the door for those of us who have been advocating a stronger stance on vitamin D recommendations for pregnancy and pre-pregnancy,” says Valencia Walker, MD, a neonatologist at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. She reviewed the study for WebMD. “This study helps prove that D matters, and that pregnant women should not be vitamin D deficient.”

For the study, researchers measured the vitamin D levels of pregnant women mainly during their second trimester. At 14 months, their babies underwent an approximately hour-long battery of standardized tests that measured their mental development and their psychomotor skills, or their ability to control their physical movements.

In all, 1,820 mother-infant pairs took part in the study, which is published in the journal Pediatrics.

The research team found that, for both measures, babies whose mothers had an optimal level of vitamin D scored slightly higher than babies of mothers who were D deficient.

Such a small difference in scores may not make any noticeable difference for individual babies, says researcher Eva Morales, MD, PhD, MPH, of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona.

But because so many women don’t get enough vitamin D, those small differences may translate into a large societal impact when the number of babies at risk of poorer development is taken into consideration.

“Further studies are needed to conclude if these scores can predict future neuropsychological development later in life,” Morales says.

Majority of Women Get Inadequate Amounts of Key Vitamin

Walker says certain groups have a higher risk of missing out on adequate levels of vitamin D. Those groups include women who are overweight or obese, women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and women with darker skin. 

Geography also plays a role. People from northern states, which don’t get much sun during wintertime, often have lower levels of vitamin D.

“Even here in L.A., where it’s often sunny, people don’t get enough sun, because of smog, because they stay indoors, or because they use a lot of sunblock,” Walker says.

How Much D Is Enough?

Access to vitamin D — whether through sunlight, food sources, dietary supplements, or a combination — is not the only issue. It’s not clear how much vitamin D is enough to ensure healthy development, says Morales, who adds that trials are under way to determine just that.

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Author: Matt McMillen

Supplements and COPD: NAC, Vitamin D, and Ginseng

Many people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) turn to dietary supplements and herbal medicine, as well as conventional Western medicine, to treat the lung disease.

“The curiosity is definitely there,” says Cleveland Clinic pulmonologist Umur Hatipoglu, MD. “And there is pretty convincing emerging data that we should look into.”

Of the many remedies touted for COPD, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), ginseng, and vitamin D “are the three big ones,” says naturopathic physician Jeremy Mikolai, ND, a researcher at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore.

NAC (N-Acetylcysteine)

NAC is an antioxidant supplement that has shown promise in some studies but not in others.

“NAC is a robust treatment for COPD that reduces phlegm and cough, thins mucus, and eases expectoration,” says Mikolai. It’s said to decrease the deterioration of lung function. However, the evidence to support that claim is weak, according to a research review done in 2006 on how NAC affects COPD. That review said the design of the study in question did not allow for “firm conclusions.”

Meanwhile, a large, three-year research project known as the BRONCUS study found that NAC did not prevent decline in lung function.

The BRONCUS study also looked at NAC from another angle. Could the supplement, the authors asked, cut the number of COPD flare-ups people get in a given year?

The authors report that NAC did not prevent flare-ups, but additional analysis suggested that the rate of flare-ups might be less in people not taking an inhaled steroid.

Despite that limited positive result, Hatipoglu says, NAC was “almost buried for dead after that study.”

Still, he does often recommend NAC for its ability to loosen sputum, although its effectiveness hasn’t been fully established.

“If my patients say they are doing better on it, I keep them on it,” says Hatipoglu, who adds that NAC is quite safe. Though NAC is safe, it does contain sulfur, which gives it an odor “like rotten eggs,” he says. In the BRONCUS study, researchers reported no side effects from NAC use.

Duffy MacKay, ND, says that he found NAC, which can also be inhaled via a nebulizer, to be similarly effective in his practice. 

“The constant buildup of mucus — that’s where NAC seems to be most active,” says MacKay, vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group that represents the dietary supplement industry.

Vitamin D

People with COPD may not have enough vitamin D. That could happen for several reasons:

  • Not enough time outside. (Sunshine helps the body make vitamin D.)
  • Because of their age. “Most COPD patients are older,” Hatipoglu says, and with age, it’s harder for the body to make vitamin D.
  • Not enough vitamin D in their diet. Vitamin D is added to milk and some other fortified foods. It’s also available in supplements.

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Author: Matt McMillen

Kroger Recalls Spinach in 15 States

Sept. 20, 2012 — Kroger stores are recalling listeria-tainted spinach sold in 15 states.

The recalled product is Kroger Fresh Selections Tender Spinach 10-ounce packages with the UPC code 0001111091649 and a best-by date of Sept. 16.

The product was sold in Kroger stores in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, central and eastern Tennessee, and Michigan.

It also was sold in Kroger, Jay C, Owen’s, Pay Less, Scott’s, and Food 4 Less stores in Indiana, Illinois, and eastern Missouri, and in Dillons, Baker’s, and Gerbes stores in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Kroger stores have removed the product from their shelves. Kroger urges customers to check their refrigerators for the product, as it may be contaminated with dangerous listeria bacteria. It should be thrown out. Not sure if you have the recalled product? The CDC says, “When in doubt, toss it out.”

Symptoms of Listeria Food Poisoning

Most people who eat listeria-contaminated foods get only mild gastrointestinal symptoms. However, listeria sometimes escapes from the gut into the blood, causing listeriosis.

People with weakened immune systems, the elderly, cancer patients, people taking immunity-suppressing drugs, and pregnant women — are particularly vulnerable to listeriosis.

  • Listeriosis usually begins with diarrhea or other intestinal symptoms. Patients soon develop fever and muscle aches. What happens next depends on a person’s risk factors:
  • Although pregnant women usually get a mild flu-like illness, listeria infection can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or fatal infection of the newborn.
  • Other adults may develop headache, stiff neck, mental confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.

Cooking kills listeria bacteria, but they can grow and multiply in the refrigerator.

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Author: Daniel J. DeNoon

Simple Tip May Ease Athletes’ Performance Anxiety

Researchers have revealed a simple trick that may help athletes keep their cool during a game’s high-pressure moments. Their advice to avoid choking under pressure: Clench the fist of your non-dominant hand.

The findings appear in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

In the study, right-handed athletes who squeezed a ball with their left hand or clenched their left fist before a competition were less likely to choke in high-stress matches.

Here’s why: The left side of the body is controlled by the right side of the brain

“Increasing activation in the right hemisphere decreases activation in the left hemisphere,” says study researcher Juergen Beckmann, PhD. 

Choking under pressure seems to be caused by a dominant activation in the left hemisphere, which controls key areas of the brain that help us psych ourselves out when under the gun.

Clenching Technique May Reduce Choke Risk

Brain scans show that a decrease of activation in the brain’s left hemisphere boosts performance, says Beckmann. He is the chair of sport psychology at the Technical University of Munich in Germany.

The researchers conducted three studies involving soccer players, judo experts, and badminton players. They tested the athletes’ skills during normal practice and during important matches that took place before a large crowd or video cameras. The researchers only tested right-handed people.

The athletes were less likely to choke under pressure when they squeezed a ball in their left hand than when they squeezed it in their right hand. 

This technique seems to work best in situations where movements such as kicking a ball are automatic. Overthinking them, however, can impair performance.

“So far, we know that the technique seems to work only with complex motor tasks which have become automated,” says Beckmann. “It should not only work with sports but also … could be helpful for elderly people to maintain balance when they are afraid that they might fall.”

Break the Thought Cycle

Beckmann and his team are now studying the technique among expert musicians.

“It might also be useful for surgeons or other professions in which precision, pressure, and highly automated tasks combine,” he says. To date, the team has conducted 13 studies, including one with gymnasts. “Whenever the specified conditions were given, the technique never failed.”

David Straker, MD, says some athletes start thinking the worst when they step up to the plate in a baseball game or need to take a foul shot on the basketball court — and then they choke.

“They have likely done this thousands of times. And 99% of the time, they do it perfectly, but still they choke,” he says. Straker is an adjunct assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. He often recommends a short course of therapy to help people change how they think and overcome self-defeating thoughts.

“See a therapist and try to work on changing how you think in these situations,” he says. “When you start ruminating, take a step back and remind yourself that you have done this so many times and you do it well,” he says. “The fist- or ball-clenching technique used in the new study may also help distract people from the negative thoughts.”

Move Over Olive Oil!

Move over olive oil a new study suggests there’s a new cooking oil combo with heart healthy benefits.

Researchers followed 300 people in India with mild to moderate high blood pressure for two months.

They were broken into three groups to compare treatments. The first took nifedipine, a commonly used blood pressure lowering medication. The second group was given the new oil, a blend of sesame and rice bran oil, and told to use about an ounce each day in their meals. The final group received both the medication and the oil blend.

The researchers found cooking with a combination of sesame and rice bran oil in a variety of ways worked nearly as well as the high blood pressure medication.

Systolic blood pressure dropped an average of 14 points for those using only the oil blend and 16 points for those taking medication. Those using both saw a 36-point drop.

Diastolic blood pressure also dropped significantly: 11 points for those eating the oil, 12 for those on medication and 24 for those using both.

Cholesterol also improved. Those using the oils saw a 26 percent drop in their “bad”, LDL cholesterol and a 9.5 percent increase in the HDL, the good cholesterol.

The catch, the oil was specially blended, and donated to the study. It isn’t commercially available. And blending these oils yourself is not advised.

However, researchers hope additional studies of this oil blend will yield similar heart healthy effects, making it commercially appealing.

I’m Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the latest breakthroughs from the world of medicine.

Freedom Alert – the gift that could save a life!

December is all about gift giving and showing loved one how much you can.  This year, if you have a friend or family member that is currently using a “Pay by the Month” emergency monitoring service, also known as PERS personal emergency response service, you know, you’ve see advertised on TV.  Think about getting them the best system ever and at the same time remove that monthly debt that is causing many seniors to suffer needlessly.

I’m talking about the Freedom Alert system.  This is the latest technology in PERS and there is NO MONTLY FEE!

Unlike the old systems that are offered on the TV commercials the Freedom Alert actually allow you contact, who you want in times of trouble.  And best of all you can actually talk to and listen to them directly from a very small pendant.

But as they say on those annoying TV commercials “But wait there’s more”!

You can actually communicate with your call anywhere in your home and your YARD!

Try that with those monthly service guys.

The Freedom Alert let you enter up to 4 contact people as well as your local 911 service.  It come with everything needed including all batteries, there are no hidden extra fees or costs.  Your Freedom Alert can be used on any standard home phone line.  Many of our customers will pack up their unit and take it with them when they visit friends and family for an extended time.  Just simply plug it in when you get there it’s that simply.

For year the monthly monitoring companies have been straining seniors who are on a fixed income.  For about the same amount of 4 to 6 months rental cost they can OWN this system and never pay out another dime.  We recently spoke with one of our customers and learned that he had been paying the monthly rent for over 5 years.  Together we figured that he has spend over $5,000.00 when he could have paid only $279.95 (includes free shipping) and had that other $4,000.00 + to use for other important expenses in his life.

It’s time to end the financial drain on our seniors, it’s time for taking control over whom you contact for help when needed.  It’s time you considered the latest product available and end that monthly auto billing deduction.

It time you looked at Freedom Alert  – Contact up to 4 people + 911

NO Monthly Fee!
NO Contracts!
NO Activation Cost!

HealthConnection, Inc. is a factory authorized dealer for Freedom Alert.  Located in Ohio they ship anywhere in the United States.  You can call HealthConnection for additional information at 1-800-838-8367 or visit the website

This holiday season give a gift that could save a life.  This is possible the best give you’ll ever give to that special loved one or dear friend.

The Greatest Gift Ever – Freedom Alert

If you’ve not looked at the calendar lately, there are only 9 more weeks until Christmas.  If you’re like most people you will be waiting until the last minute to do that all-important gift shopping.

The greatest give you can give to someone living alone or an elder couple that might be prone to having falls is the Freedom Alert system.  Unlike the more advertised personal emergency alert devices, the Freedom Alert does not require monthly fees.  The user can call up to 4 contact people (friends or family) and/or 911.  Having the Freedom Alert will bring peace of mine to everyone in the family knowing that if grandma or grandpa are in need of help they can reach someone with just the push of a button on the small pendant and talk to them anywhere in the house or out in the yard.

Yes!  This is the only device that offers a two-way communication pendant that work both in the home and around the property.

Step up to the latest technology with the Freedom Alert and stop paying those monthly fees.  Gone are the days where you have to scream across the distance of the home to talk to somebody in “the box” in the other room.  The Freedom Alert even uses the latest DECT technology for the best reception and range of operation.

You can use this device to contact just 911, or up to four contact number plus 911 the way it operates is totally up to you.

For far less then you would be paying in monthly fees for protection, you can own the Freedom Alert and use it anywhere in the USA and Canada.

Call HealthConnection, Inc. at 1-800-838-8367 for more details, or visit us at