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Archive for June 24th, 2011

Reuters – Heart risks lower in men who get enough vitamin D

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Amy Norton Reuters3:22 p.m. EDT, June 24, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Men who consume the recommended amount of vitamin D are somewhat less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who get little of the vitamin in their diets, a large U.S. study suggests.

Following nearly 119,000 adults for two decades, researchers found that men who got at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day — the current recommended amount — were 16 percent less likely to develop heart problems or a stroke, versus men who got less than 100 IU per day.

There was no such pattern among women, however, the researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The authors say the findings do not prove that vitamin D, itself, deserves the credit for the lower risks seen in men. So they should not start downing supplements for the sake of their hearts.

“The evidence is not strong enough yet to make solid recommendations,” said lead researcher Dr. Qi Sun, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health.

On the other hand, the apparent benefits were linked to vitamin D intakes near what’s already recommended: Last year, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a scientific advisory panel to the U.S. government, bumped up the recommended dose to 600 IU for most people. Adults older than 70 were told to get 800 IU.

So these latest findings may encourage more people to meet those guidelines, Sun said.

But as far as whether vitamin D cuts heart disease and stroke risk, the jury is still out.

Sun said that more answers should come from an ongoing clinical trial that is looking at whether a high dose of vitamin D (2,000 IU per day) can cut the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases.

Clinical trials, wherein people are randomly assigned to a treatment or a placebo, are considered the “gold standard” of medical evidence.

So far, there have been few such randomized clinical trials testing vitamin D’s health effects.

A flurry of studies in recent years has linked higher vitamin D intake to lower risks of everything from diabetes, to severe asthma, heart disease, certain cancers and depression.

The problem with those studies is that were “observational” — researchers looked at people’s vitamin D intake, or their blood levels of the vitamin, and whether they developed a given health condition. Those kinds of studies cannot prove cause-and-effect.

The current study was also observational, based on data from two long-term projects that have followed two large groups of U.S. health professionals since the 1980s.

Out of 45,000 men, there were about 5,000 new cases of cardiovascular disease over the study period. These were defined by an incident of heart attack, stroke, or death attributed to cardiovascular disease.

After accounting for a range of factors — like age, weight, exercise levels and other diet habits, such as fat intake – Sun’s team found that men who got at least 600 IU of vitamin D from food and supplements had a 16 percent lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared to men who got less than 100 IU of vitamin D per day.

For women, though, there was no correlation between vitamin D intake and cardiovascular health.

It’s not clear why that is, Sun said. One possibility is that women may have less active vitamin D circulating in the blood; vitamin D is stored in fat, and women typically have a higher percentage of body fat than men do.

But more research is needed, Sun said, to know whether real biological differences underlie the current findings.

In theory, vitamin D could help ward off heart disease and stroke; lab research suggests that it may help maintain healthy blood vessel function and blood pressure levels, reduce inflammation in the blood vessels, and aid blood sugar control.

But until clinical trials help show whether vitamin D works, Sun advised people to stick with the tried-and-true ways of protecting their hearts: maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, eating a well-balanced diet and not smoking.

“There are many established ways to lower your cardiovascular disease risk,” Sun said. “People can focus on those measures.”

As for vitamin D, the sun is the major natural source, since sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis in the body. Food sources are relatively few and include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, and fortified dairy products and cereals.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online June 8, 2011.

Copyright © 2011, Reuters


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Los Angeles Times – To change your diet, change your palate, says ‘Biggest Loser’ nutritionist Cheryl Forberg

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

ForbergCheryl Forberg, nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser,” says people can learn to live good, healthful food (Linda Russell photography)


By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog2:42 p.m. EDT, June 24, 2011

“The Biggest Loser” contestants don’t just learn about exercise–upending their diets is an essential part of the program as well. Join a live Web chat Monday, June 27 at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. CT, 3 p.m. ET) with Cheryl Forberg, nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser,” who is also a registered dietitian.

Forberg wrote the eating plan for the show and counsels contestants on nutrition. Forberg is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and the author of “Flavor First: Cut Calories and Boost Flavor with 75 Delicious, All-Natural Recipes.” We asked her how people can change their palates and learn to appreciate the true taste of good food.

“I think when contestants come to ‘The Biggest Loser’ ranch they’re so accustomed to these over-salted, over-sweet, over-processed foods, that learning to eat clean foods is definitely like detoxing for a couple of weeks,” she said. “But once they’ve had a chance to kind of wean themselves away from the old foods that were their everyday fare, their taste buds wake up and they learn to appreciate the sweetness of a piece of fruit or the tanginess of a nice balsamic vinegar on their salad.”

Foods labeled “healthy” are still often perceived as bland and boring, Forberg added, but that doesn’t have to be the case. “I’m a classically trained chef who became a registered dietitian,” she said, “and I’ve spent my career figuring out how to make flavors really over the top.”

Case in point: On a recent trip to the ranch Forger demonstrated some easy way to cook vegetables, such as roasting a red pepper. “They went crazy eating it,” she said. “I posted a photo of it and some people asked what it was. That was a wake-up call that we really need to stick to basics.”

Do you have a question for Cheryl Forberg? Email and join the chat to see the answer.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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HealthKey – FDA turns down Pfizer drug Remoxy

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

FDA turns down oxycodone drug Remoxy, says PfizerThe FDA turned down the extended-release oxycodone drug Remoxy, which is designed to resist abuse, announced Pfizer on Friday. The announcement came on the heels of the approval of Oxecta, an immediate-release form of oxycodone also by Pfizer. (Getty)


By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog4:15 p.m. EDT, June 24, 2011

After recently approving a form of the painkiller oxycodone designed to deter abuse, the Food and Drug Administration appears to be giving a colder shoulder to another form, also designed to prevent abuse.

Both are made by Pfizer. The company offered up a few details of its back-and-forth with the FDA in a news release issued Friday.

The drug company didn’t say precisely what issues the FDA had with Remoxy, an extended-release form of oxycodone, but they’ve existed for a while, as noted by MedPage Today. The agency turned the drug down in 2008 too. Pfizer said it was working to evaluate the agency’s issues with the drug.

But on Monday, Pfizer got the agency’s blessing for Oxecta, an immediate-release oxycodone drug designed to discourage snorting or injection.

Extended-release drugs tend to be prescribed for chronic pain and contain more of the active ingredient than immediate release drugs—an attractive element to someone seeking to abuse the drug.

The Motley Fool ruminated on Remoxy’s fate earlier this week:

“In theory, the approval for Oxecta should bode well for Remoxy, but this is the FDA, and you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it seems like the agency gets its kicks from abusing drugmakers.”

In this case, the drug-maker Pfizer had this to say about the drug’s future:

“Pfizer is working to understand and address the issues in the FDA Complete Response Letter. Pain is an important strategic disease area for Pfizer. We share the concern about misuse and abuse of opioid medicines and are committed to being part of the solution to address this important public health and safety issue.”

RELATED: More news from HealthKey

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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HealthKey – CDC: HIV testing resulted in many new diagnoses

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Expanded HIV testing over 3 years resulted in new diagnosesA government push to get more people tested for HIV resulted in more than 18,000 new diagnoses over three years. Students form a red ribbon during an HIV/AIDS awareness rally on World AIDS Day at Marina beach in the southern Indian city of Chennai. (Reuters / December 10, 2010)


By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog6:21 p.m. EDT, June 24, 2011

More people with HIV are aware of their status because of a three-year government campaign to get people, especially blacks, tested for the disease—18,432 people, to be exact. But not all got plugged into treatment afterward, says the CDC in a new report.

In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave $111 million for expanding HIV testing to health departments in 24 states and the District of Columbia, where many blacks had already been diagnosed with AIDS. Nearly 2.8 million HIV tests were conducted between 2007 and 2010 as a result, and about 0.7% resulted in new diagnoses, the agency announced Friday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Blacks made up about 60% of the tests and about 70% of the new HIV diagnoses.

Most, but far from all, of those diagnosed were linked to care afterward. Among the cases with follow-up data, 91% received their test results and 75% were linked to care.

Such follow-up care is crucial if the Expanded HIV Testing Initiative is to support the broader national strategy to reduce HIV/AIDS in the U.S., the CDC says in the report:

“However, for efforts like ETI to translate into better individual and population-level outcomes, persons infected with HIV must be engaged and retained in care, receive and adhere to effective treatment with HAART [highly active antiretroviral therapy] to maximize viral load suppression, and have access to ongoing prevention and support services, including risk-reduction counseling and other evidence-based behavioral interventions, partner services, substance use and mental health treatment, and case management.”

Officials hope that expanded testing might change the fact that 20% of those living with HIV don’t know it.

But there are signs, if slight, of progress. For the first time in nearly 10 years, there was an increase (just a bit) in the percentage of people (particularly young adults) who were “very concerned” about getting HIV, according to results from a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released earlier this week.

RELATED: More news from HealthKey

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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Orlando Sentinel – Coffee may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, study finds

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Coffee and Alzheimer'sThe USF team is excited that coffee, which is cheap and readily available, might be a safe way for Americans to protect their brains against the disease. (Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times)


By Linda Shrieves, Orlando Sentinel12:08 p.m. EDT, June 22, 2011

Coffee lovers, raise your cup to the latest research on the benefits of your favorite beverage. Researchers at the University of South Florida say there’s a mystery ingredient in coffee that could protect coffee drinkers againstAlzheimer’s disease.

Using mice bred with symptoms that mimic Alzheimer’s disease, a team at USF found that caffeinated coffee appeared to protect the mice from the memory-robbing disease.

In a study to be published June 28 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the researchers say coffee seems to have an unidentified ingredient that combines with caffeine to reduce brain levels of beta-amyloid — the abnormal protein that is thought to cause the disease.

The study was funded by the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the state of Florida.
The USF team’s findings about coffee seem to agree with previous observational studies, which found that people who drink caffeinated coffee in mid-life and older age have a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Armed with their latest study, the USF team is excited that coffee, which is cheap and readily available, might be a safe way for Americans to protect their brains against the disease.

“Because Alzheimer’s starts in the brain several decades before it is diagnosed, any protective therapy would obviously need to be taken for decades,” said Dr. Chuanhai Cao, one of the study’s lead authors. “We believe moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee is the best current option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss. Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, appears to directly attack the disease process and has few side effects for most of us.”

“No synthetic drugs have yet been developed to treat the underlying Alzheimer’s disease process,” said Dr. Gary Arendash, one of the study’s lead authors. “We see no reason why an inherently natural product such as coffee cannot be more beneficial and safer than medications, especially to protect against a disease that takes decades to become apparent after it starts in the brain.”

In earlier studies with Alzheimer’s mice, USF researchers have indicated that caffeine was probably the ingredient that provides protection — because it decreases brain production of beta-amyloid.

The new study, however, shows that it may not be caffeine itself, but a combination of caffeine and coffee’s compounds that together cause an increase in blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have low levels of GCSF — and it can improve memory in Alzheimer’s mice.

Although the current study was done only with mice, the research team says they’ve gathered clinical evidence of caffeinated coffee’s ability to protect humans against Alzheimer’s — and will publish those findings soon.

Coffee seems to work three ways to quash the brain’s production of the beta-amyloid plaque, researchers said. “Together these actions appear to give coffee an amazing potential to protect against Alzheimer’s — but only if you drink moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee,” said Cao, lead author of the study.

One note: The researchers used only coffee prepared in an automatic drip coffeemaker, not instant coffee, so they are unsure if instant coffee would provide the same benefit.

So how much should you drink for this benefit? Although the average American drinks 1.5 to 2 cups of coffee a day, earlier research suggests that it may take 4 to 5 8-ounce cups a day to protect against Alzheimer’s. Yet Cao isn’t sure you need to drink that much coffee to protect your brain from Alzheimers. He says that if you like coffee, keep drinking it — but don’t switch to decaf.

The research team also believes that starting moderate daily coffee intake in middle age — in your 30s, 40s and 50s — is optimal for providing protection against the disease — though increasing your coffee consumption in older age also appears to have some benefit.

“We are not saying that daily moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from getting Alzheimer’s disease,” Cao said. “However, we do believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of this dreaded disease or delay its onset.” or 407-420-5433.

Copyright © 2011, Orlando Sentinel

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Los Angeles Times – Research shows promise in reversing Type 1 diabetes

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Experiments in a small number of people show that an inexpensive vaccine normally used against tuberculosis may stop the immune system from attacking pancreas cells. 

InsulinThe findings contradict an essential paradigm of diabetes therapy — that once the insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas have been destroyed, they are gone forever. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)


By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles TimesJune 25, 2011

Preliminary experiments in a handful of people suggest that it might be possible to reverse Type 1 diabetes using an inexpensive vaccine to stop the immune system from attacking cells in the pancreas.

Research in mice had already shown that the tuberculosis vaccine called BCG, prevents T cells from destroying insulin-secreting cells, allowing the pancreas to regenerate and begin producing insulin again, curing the disease.

Now tests with very low doses of the vaccine in humans show transient increases in insulin production, researchers will report Sunday at a San Diego meeting of the American Diabetes Assn.
The Massachusetts General Hospital team is now gearing up to use higher doses of the vaccine in larger numbers of people in an effort to increase and prolong the response.

The findings contradict an essential paradigm of diabetes therapy — that once the insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas have been destroyed, they are gone forever. Because of that belief, most research today focuses on using vaccines to prevent the cells’ destruction in the first place, or on using beta cell transplants to replace the destroyed cells.

The new findings, however, hint that even in patients with long-standing diabetes, the body retains the potential to restore pancreas function if clinicians can only block the parts of the immune system that are killing the beta cells.

The results are “fascinating and very promising,” said immunology expert Dr. Eva Mezey, director of the adult stem-cell unit at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. But Mezey noted that the results had been achieved in only a small number of patients and that they suggest the vaccinations would have to be repeated regularly.

The key player in the diabetes study is a protein of the immune system called tumor necrosis factor, or TNF. Studies by others have shown that if you increase levels of TNF in the blood, it will block other parts of the immune system that attack the body, especially the pancreas.

To raise TNF levels, Dr. Denise Faustman of Massachusetts General Hospital and her colleagues have been working with the BCG vaccine, known formally as Bacille Calmette-Guerin. BCG has been used for more than 80 years in relatively low doses to stimulate immunity against tuberculosis. More recently, it has been used in much higher doses to treat bladder cancer.

Faustman first reported her findings in mice in a 2001 paper in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, but scientists reviewing her findings for that journal were so skeptical that she was not allowed to refer to “regeneration” of the pancreas in the paper. Instead, she was told to say “restoration of insulin secretion by return of blood sugar to normal.”

In 2003, she published a report in the journal Science in which she was able to use the word “regeneration,” but that finding was met by an “explosion of skepticism,” she said. Nonetheless, by 2007, “six international labs had duplicated the mouse experiments,” she said. “We needed to move forward into humans.”

In the human trial, Faustman and her colleagues studied six patients who had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes for an average of 15 years. They were randomly selected to receive either two doses of BCG spaced four weeks apart or a placebo.

Careful examination of those receiving the vaccine showed a decline of T cells that normally attack the pancreas. It also revealed a temporary but statistically significant elevation of an insulin precursor called C-peptide, an indication that new insulin production was occurring.

“If this is reproducible and correct, it could be a phenomenal finding,” said Dr. Robert R. Henry of UC San Diego, who chaired the scientific program at the meeting. It suggests that once the destructive immune response is controlled, the body has the capability to produce more insulin, he said.

One of the patients receiving a placebo also showed a similar elevation of C-peptide, but that patient coincidentally became infected by Epstein-Barr virus, which is known to induce production of TNF.

The concentrations of BCG that the team used were much lower than they would have liked, but were the highest the Food and Drug Administration would permit, Faustman said.

She said she is now negotiating with the agency to use higher levels, which should produce a more pronounced effect, and to enroll more people.

The research is funded by philanthropists, primarily the Iacocca Family Foundation.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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Channel 13 CF News – Legal analyst explains jury instructions and murder charges

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

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Orlando Sentinel – Mount Dora mom launches campaign about rare condition a year after her son’s death

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

By Martin E. Comas, Orlando Sentinel10:32 a.m. EDT, June 24, 2011

MOUNT DORA — Vincent Groetzner was a fun-loving 6-year-old who enjoyed soccer and painting when his body temperature suddenly skyrocketed to 108 degrees a year ago. His mother quickly raced him to a hospital emergency room, where he died within minutes.

An autopsy showed that Vincent died of malignant hyperthermia, a rare condition caused by a faulty gene that, in addition to triggering a soaring fever, turns muscles extremely rigid.

Since her son died June 14, 2010, Vincent’s mother, Lisa Groetzner, 44, has launched a campaign to educate medical professionals and the public about malignant hyperthermia and what provokes it. She has spoken to University of Central Florida nursing students, visited hospitals and held seminars with paramedics and other emergency officials across Central Florida.

On Saturday, the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States will hold its annual conference in Mount Dora, largely because of Groetzner’s urging. Dozens of people are expected to attend the one-day event, including medical experts from across the country who are scheduled to make presentations about the condition and how to identify and treat it.

Groetzner, who works for a computer technology firm, had no idea such a condition even existed before her son died in front of her in the emergency room at Florida HospitalWaterman in Tavares.

“When Vincent died, I had to find out what this was and how to make sure that the medical community knows about this and hopefully prevent someone else from dying,” Groetzner said. “Otherwise, I feel it would be a disservice to Vincent.”

She soon delved into the condition — including its causes, treatments and how to identify it — by talking to medical experts and reading any literature she could get her hands on. She had her family genetically tested and discovered that her husband, Paul, her 6-year-old son, Dominic, and her 3-year-old daughter, Avelina, all carry the defective gene.

Malignant hyperthermia most often occurs when a person receives certain types of anesthesia during surgery. Former Orlando Magic forward Derek Strong, for example, almost died from malignant hyperthermia in June 1999 while having surgery to repair a broken nose.

But it also can be triggered by heat exhaustion, caffeine, strenuous exercise or other medical conditions, according to medical experts. If someone with the defective gene were to exercise vigorously outdoors on a hot day and then take in caffeine, such as coffee or some sodas, it could lead to an episode of malignant hyperthermia, said Dr. Andrew Herlich, an anesthesiologist with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy.

That’s the message Groetzner hopes to spread among medical professionals.

“They need to know that there are more cases that are not about anesthesia,” she said, pointing out that certainmuscle conditions also can trigger an episode.

Vincent, for example, suffered from a disorder that affects skeletal muscles, which also causes an increased risk of developing malignant hyperthermia. He was playing at a friend’s house when his fever started to rapidly climb on one of the hottest days of the year.

An episode occurs when the patient suffers extreme muscle rigidity, a racing heart and a body temperature that suddenly starts to climb rapidly. If recognized early, a patient is treated with cooling blankets and doses of the drug Dantrolene.

Vincent’s death drew the attention of medical professionals across the U.S. because it did not involve anesthesia, which was long thought to be one of the only causes of malignant hyperthermia when it was discovered in the early 1960s.

Herlich, who is scheduled to speak at Saturday’s event, pointed out that most general practitioners don’t know about malignant hyperthermia because it’s such a rarity.

“All anesthesiologists know about it. Many critical-care workers know about it,” he said. “But the general-care physician is relatively unaware of it. And I don’t mean this in a pejorative way. So when something like this hits the lay press, the awareness jumps. That’s a good thing. But it’s a sad thing that there are individuals who die before there’s more of an awareness.”

That’s why it’s important for medical professionals to ask patients about their family’s health history before surgery to learn whether a person may be susceptible to malignant hyperthermia, association officials said. The association has put up posters about the condition in hospital surgery rooms across the country for medical professionals, staff and patients.

Patients who have had problems with anesthesia or are concerned they may have malignant hyperthermia can be tested by undergoing a muscle biopsy or blood-drawn genetic test.

There are no exact numbers as to how many people have the defective gene that causes malignant hyperthermia. The rate of occurrence has been estimated to be as frequent as one in 5,000 or as rare as one in 65,000 administrations of general anesthesia with triggering agents.

Herlich said he has seen and treated four cases in about 35 years of practicing medicine, all of which were the result of anesthesia. He also works as a consultant for an association hotline that medical professionals and emergency responders can call for information when they believe they are treating a case of malignant hyperthermia.

Michael Wesolowski, a spokesman for the Malignant Hyperthermia Association, said Groetzner’s efforts have significantly increased awareness of the condition, particularly the fact that it can be triggered without anesthesia.

“She’s spreading the message that it’s incumbent upon the medical profession to be prepared,” Wesolowski said.

Framed on a wall at the Groetzner home is Vincent’s soccer jersey, signed by his teammate. Throughout the home are dozens of pictures of Vincent wearing a cheerful smile and tousled hair, along with his artwork.

“We want to get the word out there,” Lisa Groetzner said. “Because we may have other children that might end up in the ER with this. … And I just can’t let another child go through with this. Otherwise, Vincent’s death would have been in vain.” or 352-742-5927.

Copyright © 2011, Orlando Sentinel

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Orlando Sentinel – FDA Food & Product Recalls & Updates

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Tip of one of the knives can protrude through the bottom, posing a laceration hazard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a recall of about 217,000 in Calphalon Contemporary Cutlery Knife Sets in the United States and about 300 sets in Canada. The tips of the 8-inch slicing knife and/or the 8-inch bread knife can protrude through the bottom slot row on the wooden block holder, posing a laceration hazard. Calphalon has received one report of a cut finger injury. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.


Continue reading Recall alert: Calphalon knife block sets can pose laceration hazard »



Mediterranean Thin Crust Pizza

Kashi is recalling approximately 11,000 cases of frozen pizzas, including Mediterranean Thin Crust Pizza, Roasted Vegetable Thin Crust Pizza, and Mushroom Trio and Spinach Thin Crust Pizza due to possible plastic fragments in an ingredient in the pizza crusts.

The impacted products include the following individually packaged pizzas:

Kashi Mediterranean Thin Crust Pizza packaged in a 12.7 ounce box and marked with UPC Code 1862732905 3 and Best If Used Before date of either May10 12NU, May18 12NU, or May19 12NU;
Kashi Roasted Vegetable Thin Crust Pizza packaged in a 12.2 ounce box and marked with UPC Code 1862737342 1 and Best If Used Before date of either May09 12NU or May14 12NU;
Kashi Mushroom Trio and Spinach Thin Crust Pizza packaged in an 11.9 ounce box and marked with UPC Code 1862737344 5 and Best If Used Before date of May17 12NU.
No other Kashi frozen pizzas or other products are included in the recall, and no consumer complaints have been reported. The products were distributed nationwide through U.S. retail grocery stores.


Continue reading Recall alert: Select Kashi pizzas may contain plastic fragments »



Nielsen-Massey: Vanilla paste recall was unnecessary 


A voluntary recall of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas’ Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste has been found to be based on a false-positive Listeria reading reported by the company’s outside testing laboratory. Subsequent investigations and further tests by the FDA, the outside lab in question and another independent lab brought in to re-verify the results, all came back negative. There were no positive results in any raw material used or for any of the equipment used in the process. Additionally, the other independent lab and the FDA laboratory, using the exact same gallon bottle of Paste which tested positive initially, found no trace of Listeria whatsoever. As the FDA did not have any findings as a result of their investigation, no Form 483 was issued.


Continue reading Nielsen-Massey: Vanilla paste recall was unnecessary »



Recall alert: Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste 


UPDATE! Recall  found to be unneededNielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc. of Waukegan, Illinois is voluntarily recalling lot No. 11123 of itsNielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Pastebecause it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. This recall extends nationally to all states of the United States and outside the United States in Canada. This recall extends to all levels of distribution, including the retail level. The recalled product was offered in translucent plastic one-gallon- and one-quart-size containers, through a variety of distribution channels including direct delivery to business customers, distributors and retail sales. There have been no reports of illness related to Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste.


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Orlando Sentinel – Missy Elliott has Graves’ disease–what is it?

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Missy Elliott has Graves' diseaseMissy Elliott, shown here at the 2006 Grammy Awards, reportedly has Graves’ disease, the autoimmune disorder in which the thyroid gland overproduces hormones. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images / February 8, 2006)


By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog8:36 p.m. EDT, June 23, 2011

Missy Elliott has been out of the limelight for a few years now because she’s battling Graves’ disease, undergoing treatment that has included radiation, according to media reports. The disease, which affects the thyroid gland, may not be familiar to most people, but it can cause a long litany of unpleasant symptoms.

Essentially, Graves’ disease causes too much thyroid hormone to be produced, a condition called hyperthyroidism. The thyroid gland’s hormones help regulate the body’s metabolism, affecting mood, weight and energy. But in people with Graves’ disease, the immune systemattacks the thyroid gland, causing it to overproduce thyroid hormone.

Having too much thyroid hormone can cause rapid heart rate, anxiety, tremors, weight loss, double vision,insomnia, increased sweating, fatigue, muscle weakness, menstrual irregularities and, in men, enlarged breasts. And that’s just for starters.  Other classic signs of Graves’ disease include an enlarged thyroid gland, or goiter, and bulging eyes. Missy Elliott appears to have suffered a few of these, according to this USA Today article.

Beta blockers can quell the high heart rate and nervousness, but there isn’t a treatment to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid gland. So anti-thyroid medications are used to prevent the excess production of thyroid hormone.  These medications are often taken alongside doses of radioactive iodine, which shrink the gland, or with surgery that removes the gland altogether. The Mayo Clinic outlines the options.

Then the opposite problem occurs – hypothyroidism, in which the body can’t produce enough, if any, thyroid hormone. Patients must then take medications so they get enough thyroid hormone; otherwise, the outlook is weight gain, depression and sluggishness.

Women are more likely to get the disease than men, and it usually develops after age 20.

According to reports, Elliott had radiation treatments. She’s quoted as saying:

“My thyroid is functioning, so I haven’t had to take medication in about nine months. [But] you live with it for the rest of your life.”

If the disease is untreated, complications get worse over time. But, if diagnosed properly, the disease is no cause for panic. WebMD offers an overview:

“Although the symptoms can cause discomfort, Graves’ disease generally has no long-term adverse health consequences if the patient receives prompt and proper medical care.”

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Orlando Sentinel – Actor Peter Falk Dies at 83

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Peter Falk: 1927-2011
posted by otownrog on June, 24 2011 1:49 PM

Peter Falk was best known for the TV series “Columbo,” playing a deceptively cunning detective who always got his man (or woman) by allowing himself to be underestimated. He won four Emmys playing that part.
But before and after he wore the trenchcoat and drove the battered old Volvo, he made a mark in movies.
I remember him in “Robin and the Seven Hoods,” “The Great Race” “Pocketful of Miracles” (one of his two Oscar nominations) and other ’60s fare.
But he attained big screen immortality with “The In-Laws,” co-starring the great Alan Arkin.
“Serpentine, Shel! Serpentine!”

Falk, a damned funny guy in that film, oddly and magically cast in “Wings of Desire” (playing himself, essentially), the grandpa who reads the story of “The Princess Bride” to little Fred Savage, died Thursday.
He was 83.
Falk came to Orlando for the 2005 Florida Film Festival with the film “The Thing About My Folks,” which he appeared in opposite Paul Reiser. Look at this list of credits – half a century of work. He was a great character actor on stage and screen.


I have to say that I am utterly hearbroken. It’s like losing the Golden Girls and many of the other well-reknowned actors that have died in the last 10 years. Peter Falk was an icon in crime dramas with a unique style of acting that was so unlike many others. He will be deeply missed and his work greatly treasured. I know personally his role in “The Princess Bride” was one of my fondest memories of his career in playing the kindly grandfather with a slightly stern attitude who dearly loved his grandson, which often reminded me of the things my own grandfather would do out of his way to make me happy when he could.

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Time News Feed – Is Google Hiding Its Gay Pride Support With a Disappearing Doodle?

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011


Until now, it seemed Google could doodle no wrong. Now, some critics contend Google’s hidden rainbow illustration casts a cloud over Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.

To celebrate gay pride in June, Google has placed a little rainbow next to its search bar that pops up when users type in terms like “gay,” “lesbian,” “homosexuality,” “LGBT,” “marriage equality,” “bisexuality” and “transgender.”

(PHOTOS: A History of Google Doodles)

Some in the gay community say Google’s use of the disappearing rainbow instead of a fully-fledged Doodle is a disappointment. And, they allege, hiding the iconic symbol behind “pride-related” search terms is just a way to avoid anti-gay group ire.

The hidden doodle “should keep the six-color rainbow, a symbol universally associated with gay pride ever since San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker created it 33 years ago, from appearing on the pages of those who are still opposed to gay rights. And keep Google from having to deal with any backlash,” writes The Atlantic’s Nicholas Jackson.

Google declined to explain why the feature only appears with certain searches. “As you may imagine, it’s difficult for us to choose which events to celebrate on our site, and have a long list of those we’d like to celebrate in the future,” a statement from the company said.

Critics are quick to reel off the events Google has commemorated with Doodles that seem rather trivial in comparison: Paul Cezanne’s 172 birthday, Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary, and Sesame Street.

“I just want the same treatment as Vivaldi, who was properly celebrated even 269 years after his death,” writes Jackson, who is openly gay.

© 2011 Time Inc.

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Time News Feed – Casey Anthony Trial: Does it Matter What the Parents Think?

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Joe Burbank / Reuters

Cindy and George Anthony, parents of Casey Anthony, leave the courtroom with Judge Belvin Perry (R) following at the Orange County Courthouse during the second day of their daughter’s first-degree murder trial, in Orlando, Florida, May 25, 2011.

Joe Burbank / Reuters

As defense lawyers continued to hammer away at forensic evidence, this time trying to raise doubts about hairs found in Casey Anthony’s trunk, the drama again centered on events taking place outside of the Orlando courtroom where Anthony stands trial for the murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee.

(MORE: Casey Anthony: The Social Media Trial of the Century)

After court wrapped up on Wednesday, Mark Lippman, the lawyer for Casey’s parents, George and Cindy, gave an off-camera interview with Gary Tuchman for Anderson Cooper 360. Tuchman reported that he asked Lippman, “Do your clients George and Cindy Anthony think that [Casey Anthony] is not guilty?” Lippman responded, “They don’t think that…they do not believe she is innocent.”

Cooper talked up the bombshell exclusive, but late Wednesday night, Lippman began walking back his statement, saying he was misinterpreted. “The Anthony family maintains that they simply want justice in this case,” Lippman said in a statement.

Because the interview took place off camera, there’s no definitive way to know what Lippman actually said and whether Casey’s parents believe she killed their granddaughter. But Tuchman is a veteran journalist who’s covered large stories, and it’s unlikely he would get something that important wrong.

(MORE: Why the Forensic Evidence May Not Be Enough to Convict Casey Anthony)

But the larger question raised by the interview is: Does it really matter what the parents think? Tuchman speculated that George could be in a lot of trouble if the jury believes the explanation in Jose Baez’s opening statement that Caylee drowned in her grandparent’s pool and George disposed of the body. That’s a bit of a stretch. First, this jury will only decide Casey’s guilt or innocence. Second, Baez has offered no evidence to back up the claim. Third, none of the forensic evidence points to George as the culprit. If Casey is found not guilty, then Orlando prosecutors would have to indict George for the crime. But given the lack of evidence pointing at him, that doesn’t seem likely.

The pain George and Cindy experienced losing a granddaughter has often been lost in the media maelstrom. Cooper pointed out that George wears a button every day in court with a picture of Caylee and that, had she lived, she would have turned six. How much weight the jury gives to any of these events versus the forensic barrage they’ve been subjected to is anyone’s guess.

© 2011 Time Inc.
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MSNBC – Casey Anthony trial: Who’s ‘Lawyer Gaga’?

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

By Kerry Sanders
NBC News
updated 6/22/2011 2:02:00 PM ET

ORLANDO, Fla. — If the captivating developments unfolding in the Casey Anthony courtroom are indeed our nation’s first “social media murder trial,” then here’s a peek behind the curtain.

Of course there is #CaseyAnthony, who’s accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter #Caylee.

But did you know there’s a “Lawyer Gaga”?  “The Velvet Hammer”? The “Sharpie Lady”? “The Jesus Juror”?

It’s the story within the story that social media does not chronicle like the MSM (mainstream media), but indeed here, social media creates.

Some of this has developed on Facebook, but most of this alternate world lives on the quip-filled, unfiltered planet called Twitter.

At times the hashtag #CaseyAnthony trends into the top 10.

If you don’t understand, a quick explanation: Those who write on Twitter often put a keyword in their 140-character-or-less burst to be posted. That keyword is preceded by a #. The more people who use that # in front of the same word, the more likely it is your comments about the same subject will rise to the coveted top 10 spot.

As I sit on the 23rd floor of the Orlando courtroom, my seat squished between a blogger and a rotating parade of spectators, I alternate on my iPad between taking notes as I have for 30 years as a journalist, and toggling over to Twitter to post comments about the trial.

(A quick aside: Just about every reporter has an iPad because the judge said he would not allow the sound of clicks on a computer keyboard. If you’re watching old-school, on TV, you may notice at times the soft glow shining on a journalist’s face. Those are our iPads.)

Back to Twitter. In this instantaneous online world, often I am asked questions. Some are simple: Where is Caylee’s father?  Answer: He was never in Caylee’s life, and Casey says he died in a car accident shortly after Caylee’s birth.

And there are questions I won’t answer: Do you think she’s guilty?  I leave that answer to the jury. I’m a journalist, not a talking head on cable TV.

I also threw a question out to those who follow me on Twitter: Where are you watching? City, state, country?

Story: Anthony trial: Chemist counters prosecution expertsI was surprised, perhaps because I’m new to this Twitter world, but folks told me they are watching and following the murder trial at work in Philadelphia, in Enid, Okla., in suburban Atlanta.

But I was also told people are tuned in and online in the United Kingdom, in Germany, in Japan and even in Nigeria.

Which brings me back to “Lawyer Gaga,” and others.

These are not the made-up names people use on Twitter (Twitter handles — mine is @KerryNBC).

No, these are the names people on Twitter have given to the incidental players.

Much of this world is created by the “Twitterati” seated in the courtroom, the folks who perhaps are bored by the endless scientific testimony.

“Lawyer Gaga” is a blonde who is often seated just in camera view. Her real name is Whitney Boan and occasionally, we’re told, she works with the defense. “Lawyer Gaga” has yet to speak in the courtroom. She isn’t even seated at the defense table.

“The Velvet Hammer”?  That’s Judge Belvin Perry, whose smooth style while harshly scolding the lawyers has given birth to @JudgePerrySays on Twitter.

“The Jesus Juror”? He’s an alternate juror whose beard and good looks earned him the nickname. Folks, since there are no pictures allowed of jurors you have to trust the eyeballs of those in the courtroom on this one.

And “The Sharpie Lady”?  She’s the self-appointed monitor in the line for tickets. Her role was greater when there was more chaos. The rules recently changed for public seats in the courtroom.  She was writing — with a Sharpie pen — the numbers of each person in line so no one would cut and steal position.

“The Sharpie Lady” is not simply an Internet phenomenon, she’s also a real person, and if you were here you would know her. Why?  She had a shirt printed up so everyone knows who she is. Emblazoned on the front it says: “The Sharpie Lady!”

Then there’s “neck-brace-guy,” but I suggest if you really need to know more, join the conversation. If I’m not taking notes, I’ll be right there with you @KerryNBC.

© 2010

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ABC News – Casey Anthony Trial: Witness Rebuts Human Decomposition in Car’s Trunk

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011


June 22, 2011


A forensic chemist testifying in the Casey Anthony trial said today that the car belonging to the Florida mom accused of murdering 2-year-old daughter Caylee did not test positive for human decomposition.

Michael Sigman, a chemist at the National Center for Forensic Science, said that air samples from Casey Anthony’s car trunk tested positive mainly for gasoline. Chloroform and two other chemicals were present.

“I could not conclusively determine that the presence of those compounds indicated that there had been human remains in the trunk of that car,” Sigman told jurors.

Casey Anthony, 25, is accused of murdering Caylee in the summer of 2008. She could face the death penalty if convicted.

The prosecution has argued that Caylee died from chloroform and duct tape placed over her nose and mouth. The defense argues that she actually drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008, 31 days before she was reported missing.

Sigman’s testimony casts shadow over the prosecution’s star witness, Dr. Arpad Vass. Vass testified earlier this month that the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car had an abundance of chloroform, a sign of human decomposition and a chemical that also can be used to commit murder.

Evidence photos in Casey Anthony murder trial

Sigman originally collected air samples from the Pontiac Sunfire’s trunk in July 2008. One of his air samples was sent to Vass to analyze. Sigman then analyzed another sample on his own.

“The results of that test were consistent with the presence of gasoline,” Sigman said.

Sigman collected five more air samples from the car’s trunk using different methodologies to concentrate the sample. Those samples showed gasoline, chloroform and two other chemicals.

Sigman said chloroform is frequently found in bleach.

Casey Anthony Trial Sticks to Forensics

Upon cross examination, Sigman said that the methodologies he used to analyze the samples was not as good as the method used by Vass.

Sigman used tedlar bags to collect air samples. He also collected samples using two other methodologies in an attempt to concentrate the samples to gain a better reading. Those methods were the collection of solid phase microfiber samples and the use of activated carbon strips.

Vass’s results came from the use of a triple sorbent trap.

Along with the sample sent to him from Sigman, Vass also reviewed samples from the carpet of the trunk. When he opened a can containing a sample from the car’s trunk, he was struck by the odor.

“I essentially jumped back a foot or two…I was shocked that that little itty bitty can could have that much odor associated with it…I would recognize it as human decomposition,” Vass told jurors on June 6.

Vass works at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee where he analyzes the odor of death by working with cadavers at a “body farm.”

Vass said that chloroform is normally found in trace amounts, in parts per trillion. The trunk sample showed chloroform in the parts per million range, significantly higher than the average.

Upon cross examination, Sigman told prosecutors that Casey Anthony’s trunk did smell, but because he doesn’t study human decomposition, he couldn’t say the car reeked of death.

During today’s abbreviated hearing, the defense continued to focus on scientific evidence.

Gatorade Bottle With Syringe Found With Caylee’s Remains

An FBI toxicologist said that hair samples from Caylee’s skull did not test positive for xanax, valium, rufies and six other drugs. The hair was not tested for chloroform. The toxicologist acknowledged that testing hair is not the best way to see if someone was drugged.

Two other experts testified about a Gatorade bottle containing a syringe found in a red Disney bag near Caylee’s remains. Caylee’s skull was found on Dec. 11, 2008 in a wooded area near the Anthony family home.

The “cool blue” Gatorade bottle contained a “whitish, murky liquid,” said Michael Rickenbach, a forensic chemist with the FBI.

Rickenbach said that the liquid seemed to be some type of cleaning solution and a mix of testosterone. He said that low levels of chloroform were present, but chloroform is often found in cleaning solutions. Its unclear what role the Gatorade bottle plays in the defense team’s strategy.

Rickenbach also tested a car seat and steering wheel from Anthony’s Pontiac Sunfire. Neither tested positive for chloroform, he said. A test of Caylee’s favorite doll, found in the Pontiac Sunfire, tested positive for chloroform, but the levels were too low to be tested further, Rickenbach said.

The questions about the chloroform on the steering wheel and other objects appeared to suggest that if Casey Anthony had chloroform on her hands, it would have been on the steering wheel and other objects as well, but the judge blocked that line of questioning.

The continual focus on forensic evidence has done little to shed light on the defense’s shocking opening statements that Caylee drowned and George Anthony, Casey Anthony’s father, helped dispose of the body.

On Tuesday, the prosecution revealed that a one time jailhouse neighbor of Casey Anthony had come forward who had a story similar to Casey Anthony’s defense.

April Whalen was assigned to a cell next to Casey Anthony for five days in 2009. Whalen’s 15-month-old son, Isaiah, accidentally drowned in the family pool during a Christmas celebration in 2007. Whalen’s father, Lynn Whalen, called 911.

Lynn Whalen told ABC News on Tuesday that he believed his daughter had talked to Casey Anthony while they were in jail together.

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