The pentagon has rejected a congressional report urging it to suspend its controversial anthrax vaccine program. Officials said the mandatory shots would continue.
A total of 351 service members have risked court-martial or administrative punishment for refusing to take the vaccine since the program started in March 1998. Many said they worried about its safety and believed the need for it has been exaggerated.
The House report accuses Defense officials of offering troops "an excess of faith but a paucity of science." It says troops already distrust the Pentagon for past medical mistakes involving atomic testing, Agent Orange, Persian Gulf Drugs and vaccines.
More than 400,000 active duty, reserve and National Guard members have received 1.5 million doses of the vaccine, which is given in six shots over 18 months.
Of those, 620 troops reported adverse effects, including loss of appetite, fever and flu-like symptoms. Only 76, the Pentagon says, suffered vaccine-related illnesses that required hospitalization or at least a day off from work.
The FDA approved the vaccine as safe in 1970. An FDA review in 1985 concluded it was safe and effective through skin contact but said there wasn't enough data to conclude it was effective against airborne exposure, the kind most likely to threaten U.S. forces.
Military officials have considered anthrax the top biological threat since 1991, when U.S. troops uncovered large stores of it in Iraq.
Pentagon officials say that at least 10 countries use the bacteria in weapons, including North Korea.
SOURCE: USA TODAY
DAIRY INDUSTRY USES GARLIC!
"The front page of "American Dairy Magazine" includes an advertisement from a company that sells organically grown garlic, which is used as a natural antibiotic for cows. In the ad, a farmer claims that the somatic cell count (number of pus cells in one quart of milk) has been reduced from 600 million to 180 million in just four months."
A MOTHER'S TOUCH
A new study shows that skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their newborns helps reduce pain and anxiety in infants.
Researchers studied 30 newborns that were either one or two days old. The infants were randomly assigned to be either held by their mothers in whole body skin-to-skin contact or left in a crib. To test the effectiveness of skin-to -skin contact, the newborns were given a standard heel stick, a procedure used to collect blood from infants. In a heel stick, the doctor pricks the infant's heel, squeezes the heel and collects a small sample of blood. The procedure, which is performed to make sure that the baby is healthy, lasts about three or four minutes.
The scientists measured crying, grimacing and heart rate of each infant during and after the heel stick. They found that crying levels were 82 percent lower in the contact group, compared with the no-contact group. Additionally, grimacing levels were 65 percent lower in the contact group. Heart rate was also lower in the contact group, demonstrating that these infants were less agitated by the procedure.
The researchers acknowledged that babies feel pain and that they actually feel pain while in the womb, but they are trying to find ways to help babies feel less pain.
TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF
Researchers at Boston State University School of Medicine and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University found that vitamin C, a simple, inexpensive supplement, lowered blood pressure by up to nine percent. The benefit was noted in the hypertensive patients who took 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day for a month. This is promising news for those who would like a natural alternative to blood pressure medication.
Fluoride is a cumulative poison and while the body excretes about 50% of the fluoride we ingest, the rest is stored, mainly in the bones. Less than 2% of Europe's population now has fluoridated water. Sweden and West Germany in 1971, Norway in 1975, Holland in 1976 and Denmark in 1977 banned fluoride. France rejected fluoridation in 1980. In the UK, 10% of the people still have fluoridated water.
The warning you read on an American toothpaste tube has been a legal requirement since 1997, but despite the results of recent worldwide trials, showing no significant difference in tooth decay between children living in fluoridated and non-fluoridated ommunities, more than 90% of us still use fluoride toothpaste.
Since 1990, there have also been numerous large-scale studies reporting a link between fluoride intake and hip fractures, with some showing an 87% increase among elderly populations. Skeletal fluorosis is said to be a serious risk in people who have ingested 10-20 mg of fluoride per day for 10 to 20 years.
Your gums absorb 90% of what you put on them and there's evidence that sodium lauryl sulfate may make gums weaker.
DRUGSTORE CHAINS TRACKING HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS
One of the nation's top drugstore chains has begun tracking herbal supplements used by customers in an effort to avoid potentially risky combinations with prescription drugs.
CVS Corp is asking customers to tell their pharmacists what herbal supplements they use. The information is entered into a computerized program that crosschecks them for adverse combinations. They are concerned that an increased use of vitamin and herbal therapies can lead to an increased chance of potentially dangerous drug interactions. For example, the supplement St. John's Wort, taken to relieve depression, reduces the effectiveness of some heart medications.
CVS will distribute forms to customers and then hold the information on what they're taking in a confidential patient profile.
When the patient gets a prescription filled, the computer system will automatically list possible reactions from mixing the drug with a supplement.
A recent study found that nurses with fake fingernails were more likely to harbor potentially harmful bacteria and yeast on their nails than nurses who have natural fingernails.
COPPER AND CHOCOLATE
Good news for chocolate lovers! Recent studies indicate chocolate is a good source of copper. A 1-ounce square of sweet or semisweet chocolate has about 0.2 to 0.3 milligrams of copper. People who eat chocolate get an average of about 10 percent of their copper from chocolate foods.
Studies indicate Americans have a shortage of copper in their diets. This is especially true for those who take zinc supplements to ward off illness. Zinc inhibits the body's ability to absorb copper, an essential component in maintaining sufficient levels of red blood cells which also protect against free radical damage and contribute to the heart's ability to pump blood.
Copper deficiency can resemble iron-deficiency anemia, and long term copper deficiency can result in high blood cholesterol.
SUGAR INTAKE LINKED TO GALLSTONE DEVELOPMENT
The gall bladder is the storage organ for bile salts, which are a cholesterol-based substance that help with the digestion and absorption of dietary fats. Gallstones are crystals or clumps of cholesterol that cause pain when the gall bladder contracts in
response to food entering the intestines.
A preliminary study conducted in southern Italy found that people who ate 400 calories or more of refined sugar each day were three times more likely to suffer from gallstones as those who ate no more than 260 calories of sugar. Those who consumed at least 600 calories from sugar were six times more likely to develop gallstones. Refined sugars are contained in foods such as cakes, cookies, soft drinks and table sugar. A 12-ounce can of soda contains 152 calories (all from sugar).
POLLUTION MAKES THE RAIN GO AWAY
Giving credence to popular suspicion, a scientist has produced evidence that pollution generated by factories and cars tinker with the weather.
The research, published in today's issue of Science, suggests that some of the most common types of air pollution can block clouds from releasing rain. The pollutants include specks of smoke, ash and sulfates. They are emitted by power plants, smelters, and other smokestack industries, as well as by forest fires and cars.
Scientists have long suspected that air pollution can alter the weather, but this is the first time anyone has taken a omprehensive look at clouds to find out whether urban pollution is tampering with them.
Pollution also seems to block the formation of ice crystals that could melt into raindrops.
SOURCE: USA TODAY