Travelling to the U.S.? Watch out: Ontario is about to scrap out-of-country emergency health care coverage. Here’s what you need to know. | The Star

When Toronto resident Jill Wykes had a health scare over a racing heartbeat in Florida a few years back, the $3,000 hospital bill for a two-hour visit and three tests added insult to illness.

Fortunately, the seasoned snowbird had a comprehensive travel health insurance policy that paid the full tab.

But the incident, which turned out to be nothing serious, served as a reminder that medical emergencies can happen any time, anywhere.

Buying enough travel insurance to cover all eventualities becomes even more important for Ontario residents when the province scraps its out-of-country coverage of emergency health care expenses on Jan.1.

Until Dec. 31, OHIP will continue to pay up to $400 per day for emergency in-patient services and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient and doctor services. Starting next year though, that coverage stops.

A new program will provide kidney dialysis patients with $210 toward each treatment — actual prices in the U.S. range from $300 to $750 — but travellers will be on the hook for everything else.

The province says it’s cancelling the existing “inefficient” program because of the $2.8-million cost of administering $9 million in emergency medical coverage abroad each year. OHIP’s reimbursements also tended to offset only a fraction of the actual expenses.

Without private insurance, travellers can face “catastrophically large bills” for medical care, warns Ministry of Health spokesperson David Jensen, who “strongly encourages” people to purchase adequate coverage.

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Health care south of the border, in particular, costs an arm and a leg. On average, fees in the U.S. are double those of other developed countries, according to the International Travel Insurance Group.

The insurance provider cites an array of costs, including: ambulance, $500 and up; ER visit, $150 to $3,000; hospital stay, $5,000 per day; MRI, $1,000 to $5,000; X-ray, $150 to $3,000; hip fracture, $13,000 to $40,000.

The monetary ouch factor can be especially painful for snowbirds, who are flocking to warm spots like Florida, Arizona and Texas in growing numbers as baby boomers reach retirement age.

But a significant number of vacationers of all ages are putting their financial health at risk.

According to a recent survey by InsuranceHotline.com, 34 per cent of Canadian respondents said they were unlikely to buy travel insurance, often in the mistaken belief their province would cover them. And 40 per cent had unrealistic expectations of health care costs, thinking, for example, that emergency medical evacuation would be under $2,000. In reality, the service can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Jill Wykes and her husband Pierre Lepage leave nothing to chance during winters in Sarasota, Fla., an annual trek since 2011 when she retired as a travel industry executive.

The couple, now in their 70s, purchase a multiple-trip plan with a 60-day top-up for their four-month sojourn, which includes driving there and back and flying home for two short visits. Her policy costs about $900 while his is $1,600, because he falls into an older age bracket. They’re each covered for up to $5 million.

Wykes, a blogger and editor of snowbirdadvisor.ca, calls it “foolish” to travel anywhere without health insurance and advises against thinking “you would just drive or fly home if you were sick.” The financial fallout from an accident or sudden illness “can quickly rise into six figures” in the U.S., she adds.

Anne Marie Thomas of InsuranceHotline.com, which provides free quotes for all types of insurance, echoes Wykes’s advice.

“Now, more than ever, you need travel insurance because there will be zero coverage (as of Jan. 1),” she says.

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy and insurance can cover everything from trip cancellation or interruption to lost baggage and medical costs, Thomas explains, so it’s important to match your needs and situation. A sunseeker driving south, for instance, wouldn’t need trip cancellation.

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As an example, Thomas says a 70- or 80-year-old flying to Florida would pay about $2,000 for all-inclusive insurance for 15 weeks with a $10-million limit on medical costs.

The non-profit Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) calls the government cuts “short-sighted,” predicting they’ll boost the cost of private insurance by an estimated 7.5 per cent.

The CSA has always “strongly recommended” purchasing adequate insurance prior to departure, president Karen Huestis reminded travellers last month.

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Fledgling snowbird Linda Lanteigne, who’s driving to Florida with her husband in mid-January for a two-and-a-half-month stay, is unhappy about OHIP’s cancelled program.

As a taxpaying Canadian, “I don’t think it’s right to take away our coverage,” says the Ottawa-area retiree who’d like to see the government cover the same amount of emergency medical care that people would get in Canada.

Lanteigne, a former operating room buyer in a hospital, shopped around before deciding on a travel policy with the Canadian Automobile Association that will give her $5-million coverage for about $500.

Octogenarian Mae Youngman is living proof that health emergencies can happen anywhere. She’s had three surgeries outside Canada after suffering an aneurysm in Fort Lauderdale, an appendectomy in Sarasota and broken elbow in Mexico.

“It would have been very, very expensive,” to cover the costs without insurance, recalls the retired owner of a travel agency near Windsor, Ont., who’s heading to Cuba for two weeks.

“I’d never leave home without it.”

How to make sure you’re covered

Experienced travellers and representatives from the travel and insurance industries offer these tips:

  • Retirement benefit plans and credit cards may provide health insurance, but read the policy for any limits or exclusions.
  • Compare apples to apples when shopping for a policy. The cost will also depend on your medical history, age and length of vacation.
  • Before purchasing coverage, be aware of your health status, including pre-existing conditions, which must be stable for the required period.
  • Complete the insurer’s medical questionnaire thoroughly and accurately, and let them know if anything changes pre-departure.
  • Always read the policy, including fine print, so you understand what is and isn’t covered.
  • Check travel advisories before you leave; ignoring warnings about an impending hurricane, for example, could cancel your medical coverage.
  • Your purchased insurance has a start and end date so if your holiday is interrupted and you plan on returning, notify your insurer.
Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her at cvyhnak@gmail.com

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Influencer Said Kids Shouldn’t Learn About World War 2 Because It’s Bad For Their Mental Health

People have lashed out at the young influencer who spoke out and said that children shouldn’t learn about World War 2 because it negatively impacts their mental health.

As 22-year-old reality TV star and Instagram influencer Freddie Bentley claimed during his appearance at Good Morning Britain, learning about WWII had negative impacts on the mental health of millennials.

Stuart C. Wilson – Getty Images

While the young man said he didn’t want to be disrespectful to those who earned his freedom, he claimed that learning about the war has no value and should be replaced with more practical topics such as how to get a mortgage.

Good Morning Britain

“It was a hard situation, World War Two, I don’t want anyone to think I’m being disrespectful. I remember learning it as a child thinking ‘Oh my God it’s so intense,’” Bentley said.

“I don’t think encouraging death or telling people how many people died in the world war is going to make it better.

GETTY – CONTRIBUTOR

“There’s so many problems going on in the world, like Brexit, that’s not taught in schools. When I left school it hit me like a ton of bricks – I didn’t know anything to do with life.”

While the 22-year-old maintained he only had good intentions, viewers of the TV show were quick to confront him.

“They wouldn’t be here if these brave souls didn’t give/risk their lives for our freedom. Unbelievable. Selfish, deluded younger generation. Who think they are entitled. 1939-1945. A date to be remembered. What is happening to Britain?” someone responded.

Another one wrote: “ARE YOU HAVING A LAUGH!!!!! Not talking about the war in school? Not educating them on what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again!? You need to learn respect young man.”

What are your thoughts on this matter? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to SHARE this post with your family and friends and follow us on Facebook for more news and stories!

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The post Influencer Said Kids Shouldn’t Learn About World War 2 Because It’s Bad For Their Mental Health appeared first on Small Joys.

This content was originally published here.

Deeply unpopular Kentucky governor loses after attacking health care and teachers

With virtually all votes counted in Kentucky, Democratic challenger Andy Beshear leads incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin by more than 5,000.

Kentucky voters dealt a huge blow on Tuesday to Donald Trump and the state’s senior senator, Mitch McConnell, as they elected Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) over Gov. Matt Bevin (R), pending a possible recount. After declaring war on public education and working to undermine health care access, Bevin had tried to make the race about the impeachment of Trump.

According to Kentucky secretary of state’s office, Beshear has been declared the winner, though Bevin has thus far refused to concede. With all precincts reporting, Beshear had a 5,189 votes advantage, 709,577 to 704,388. The votes will likely be double-checked in the upcoming days. Kentucky has no automatic recount law, but Bevin could request one. Beshear has claimed victory.

Bevin ranked as the nation’s least popular governor for much of his term but ran with the strong support of both Trump and McConnell. Trump repeatedly talked up Bevin in the primary and general elections, calling him “one of best governors in U.S. [sic].”

Voters felt otherwise. Bevin ran on a promise to destroy Kentucky’s nationally acclaimed Obamacare system and has fought hard to do just that as governor, demanding onerous work requirements for Medicaid recipients that could cost tens of thousands of low-income Kentuckians their health care, and proposing to spend $270 million to do it. When teachers in the commonwealth went on strike to demand more funding for public schools, Bevin fought against them and accused them of enabling child molestation. He even complained during cold snaps that closing schools to keep kids safe if freezing temperatures was a sign that people are “getting soft.”

Bevin’s campaign included race-baiting ads claiming that Beshear “would allow illegal immigrants to swarm the state,” and repeated attempts to tie Beshear to the impeachment inquiry in Washington, D.C. — a process in which the Kentucky attorney general and governor typically have minimal involvement.

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager said Tuesday night that Trump had nearly reelected Bevin: “the President just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected in what turned into a very close race at the end. A final outcome remains to be seen.”

But Trump had made the race a referendum on his own popularity in a state he won by about 30 points in 2016. He told Kentucky voters on Sunday that “we have to send a strong signal to Nancy Pelosi and the Radical Left Democrats” by backing Bevin. His son Don Jr. held a poorly attended rally for Bevin in August. Mike Pence visited Kentucky the same month and praised Bevin’s handling of the opioid crisis.

Days before the election, Trump himself held a major rally with Bevin, where he explicitly warned his supporters, “If you lose, it sends a really bad message… and if you lose, they’re gonna say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. This was the greatest. You can’t let that happen to me.”

McConnell, who defeated Bevin in a 2014 Senate primary, also played a key roll in supporting Bevin this time around. With an approval rating no better than Bevin’s, the Senate majority leader could face a tougher than expected reelection next year.

Though an October poll showed a tied race, Bevin claimed days ago that he would win the race by between six and 10 points. “I think you’re going to be shocked at how uncompetitive this actually is,” he told the New York Times.

After the results were posted, Bevin suggested that he could have lost because of “irregularities,” and said he was not conceding the “close, close race” by any stretch. But given that Republicans simultaneously won other statewide offices, it will be hard for him to credibly argue that he was somehow cheated out of victory.

The post Deeply unpopular Kentucky governor loses after attacking health care and teachers appeared first on Shareblue Media.

This content was originally published here.

Arkansas Department Of Health Reports 9 Cases Of The Mumps At U of A In Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — Nine cases of the mumps at the U of A in Fayetteville have been reported by the Arkansas Department of Health. Other possible cases are still being investigated.

Mumps. Photo Courtesy: MGN Galleries

The mumps is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Coughing and sneezing can easily spread this disease infecting others. It can also be spread through shared drinking cups or vaping devices. There is no treatment for mumps and can cause long-term health problems.

The Arkansas Department of Health is asking that all children and adults get up-to-date with their MMR vaccine as it is the best way to protect against the mumps. While some people who get the mumps may not have symptoms, the symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, swollen glands under the ears or jaw. These symptoms usually last for about 7-10 days, but it can take a person up to 26 days to get sick after they have been infected. The ADH recommends to stay home for 5 days after swelling in the glands appear due to mumps still being present 5 days after the swelling disappears.

Below are the recommended doses of the MMR vaccine according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

• Your children younger than 6 years of age need one dose of MMR vaccine at age 12 through 15 months and a second dose of MMR vaccine at age 4 through 6 years. If your child attends a preschool where there is a mumps case or if you live in a household with many people, your child
should receive their second dose of MMR vaccine right away, even if they are not yet 4 years old.
The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• Your children age 7 through 18 years need two doses of MMR vaccine if they have not received it
already. The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• If you are an adult born in 1957 or later and you have not had the MMR vaccine already, you need
at least one dose. If you live in a household with many people or if you travel internationally, you
need a second dose of MMR vaccine. The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after
the first dose.

• Adults born before 1957 are considered to be immune to mumps and do not need to get the MMR
vaccine.

• Students that have never received an MMR vaccine will need to be excluded from class and
university activities for at least 26 days. However, they can return to class immediately once they receive a dose of MMR vaccine. They will need to receive a second dose of MMR vaccine 29 days after the first dose.

If symptoms are noticed, ADH recommends you contact your doctor’s office before going to a clinic since the doctor may not want you to sit in the clinic near others. They do not recommend going to work or public places in general.

Meanwhile, ADH is working closely with the U of A officials to stop the spread of mumps. They will be monitoring the situation closely and if the outbreak continues to spread, officials will keep you informed of any additional necessary steps taken.

ADH issued a health public health directive stating, “Any student not immunized with at least 2 doses of MMR according to University of Arkansas policy will either need to be vaccinated immediately or excluded from class/class activities for 26 days.” This directive is being issued up the authority of Act 96 of 1913, Arkansas State Board of Health Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Reportable Diseases.

For more information contact the Pat Walker Health Center at 479-575-4451

This content was originally published here.

‘Pay to breathe?’ ‘Oxygen bars’ hit New Delhi as India chokes under pollution & declares health emergency

A new fad sweeping India offers customers a breath of fresh air – literally. As pollution in New Delhi hits toxic levels, “Oxygen bars” are popping up in the city to help locals breathe easy, but some found the idea off-putting.

Officials in New Delhi were recently forced to declare a public health emergency over the city’s hazardous air quality after pollution levels soared to around 20 times what the World Health Organization deems safe, halting construction projects and closing schools across the capital. While the smog-choked air is inescapable for many, those with the cash may find a brief reprieve at their local oxygen bar.

Also on rt.com

© ANI via REUTERS
‘Theater of the absurd’: Delhi kids run mini marathon as city drowns in toxic smog (PHOTOS)

One such establishment is tucked in the corner of an upscale shopping mall in New Delhi, dubbed Oxy Pure, with bright lights and gadgets glowing through its clear glass storefront. Here, customers can pay between 299 and 499 rupees (around $4 to $7) for a 15-minute oxygen session, with their choice of several fragrances: orange, lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass or peppermint.

Delhi: An oxygen bar in Saket, ‘Oxy Pure’ is offering pure oxygen to its customers in seven different aromas (lemongrass, orange, cinnamon, spearmint, peppermint, eucalyptus, & lavender), at a time when Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city is in ‘severe’ category. pic.twitter.com/dZuVnY03jn

— ANI (@ANI) November 14, 2019

“Air pollution is going to dangerous levels so people are coming here to breathe pure oxygen,” Oxy Pure owner Aryavir Kumar told The National.

Each winter, air quality suffers in cities around India as winds die down and farmers burn the remnants of crops to make room for the next harvest. This time around, Kumar says New Delhi’s worsening smog has driven a surge of business at his establishment.

“We would get 15-20 people a day [before]. Now we are getting 30-40 customers every day,” he said. “There is a tremendous increase in the numbers of customers in the last two weeks.”

Conjuring images of a pulmonary ward, the bars deliver O2 through a standard cannula device which customers hook up to their nostrils, cranked out of a “concentrator” machine that pulls clean oxygen out of the polluted air. While Kumar is careful to insist the “oxygen therapy” does not cure any diseases, he says the air can rejuvenate “like a spa.”

Oxygen bars are not all that uncommon.

It offers a ‘natural high.’ We’re not used to breathing air which is > 20% oxygen. So, when you take a hit of oxygen at an oxygen bar, you immediately start to saturate your blood with oxygen, which can heighten concentration.

— TheRudim3nt (@TheRudim3nt) November 18, 2019

Despite the potential for benefits, many online found the concept downright dystopian, suggesting a future in which only the wealthy can afford to breathe non-toxic air.

Delhi is #1 most polluted air of 1,600 global cities AND #2 richest city in India. 15 minutes in “Oxygen bar” costs ₹ 500. Negligible for the rich, out of reach for poor, migrants living on ₹ 1,134/ month. The sweet privilege of clean air, clean water #EnvironmentalJustice

— Trishna | तृष्णा (@TrishnaTweets) November 18, 2019

This is your future India. “Pay to breathe “. Oxygen bar. And if you still don’t realise what petty politics / divisive politics does to you , you have lost the cause already. #DelhiPollution #Emergency #AirPollution pic.twitter.com/W4QsOwDx8Z

— bhupendra chaubey (@bhupendrachaube) November 15, 2019

“Commodify oxygen already,” tweeted another frustrated user. “F–k it, Commodify EVERYTHING. Subscriptions to life. $1.99 a minute.”

Here we are, even breathing is now becoming a commodityhttps://t.co/wyND3xTXoS

— Giulia Guidi (@giuliaguidi) November 18, 2019

Even so, the naysayers are unlikely to put a stop to the trend anytime soon. With India home to 15 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, the country’s air quality woes are here to say for some time, perhaps pushing a greater number of Indians into oxygen bars like Oxy Pure – at least those who can afford it.

Also on rt.com

© Stewart Goldstein
‘You still owe us $1,400’: Woman dependent on oxygen tank dies after provider cuts off electricity

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This content was originally published here.

The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they’ve worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.



via Diabetes Voice

“Four hundred million people are living with diabetes, the amount of insulin available is too low and the price is too high, so we really need to do something,” Emer Cooke, the W.H.O.’s head of regulation of medicines and health technologies, said in a statement.

Through a process called “prequalification” United Nations agencies, such as Doctors without Borders, will be able to buy approved generic versions of insulin.

The W.H.O. used similar tactics to make HIV/AIDS drugs more affordable.

In 2002, 7,000 Africans were dying every year due to AIDS because Western drug companies sold the life-saving drugs for around $15,000 a year. Now the drugs are made in countries with thriving generic drug industries and the medications cost only around $75 a year.

Rosemary Enobakhare the director of the Affordable Insulin Now campaign calls the new program “a good first step toward affordable insulin for all around the world,” but says it won’t do much to help the 30 million Americans with diabetes.

Any attempt to lower insulin prices would require “Congress to grant Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices,” she added.

Companies that made generic drugs have a hard time penetrating the U.S. market because the Food and Drug Administration imposes hefty fees for drug approvals.

Insulin is ten times cheaper in Canada because the government negotiates with manufacturers, a practice that’s illegal in the U.S.

This vial of insulin costs just $6 to manufacture.

At this pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, it can be purchased for $32. Twenty minutes away, in Detroit, the same exact vial costs $340.

It is time for a government that works for the American people, not drug companies’ profits. pic.twitter.com/Uo2T8GG54T
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 28, 2019

Earlier in the year, the Trump Administration announced preliminary plans to allow Americans to import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada. Through the program, state governments, drug wholesalers, and pharmacies can create proposals to import the drugs that would then have to be approved by the federal government.

The catch? It would not include insulin.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took a bus full of Americans to Canada earlier this year to call attention to the out of control cost of insulin.

“Americans are paying $300 for insulin. In Canada they can purchase it for $30,” Sanders said in a tweet. “We are going to end pharma’s greed.”

This family was able to save $10,000 buying insulin for their son in Canada, where the exact same insulin is one-tenth the price.

The profits the drug companies are making ripping off the American people is scandalous, it is outrageous and it has got to end. pic.twitter.com/Rew4ftIo0o
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 29, 2019

This content was originally published here.

According to a Study, Sleeping With a Snorer Can Take a Toll on Your Health

It’s hard to deny that living with a snorer can be challenging, especially if that person is someone you share the same room or bed with. But the consequences of second-hand snoring have recently been discovered and go far beyond being a simple nuisance.

We at Bright Side care about your well-being and here’s everything you need to know about the health risks of living with a snorer:

1. Insufficient sleep

This seems to be the most obvious consequence, but lack of sleep leads to health problems that we often don’t take seriously. Both the snorer and those who live with them can lose many hours of sleep, which are vital for the body to recover and fulfill biological functions, like memory consolidation and metabolism regulation.

It’s not just about getting enough sleep, but about doing it continuously. Spouses of people with sleep apnea tend to wake up almost as many times as they do, preventing all the phases of sleep from being completed and further damaging the biological mechanisms involved in that process.

In addition, a person who doesn’t get enough rest is prone to make more mistakes, think slowly, and lower their productivity. Another problem associated with this is constant irritability, which could have an effect on your relationships.

However, it has also been discovered that lack of sleep is a risk factor for anxiety and depression. And, beyond its psychological consequences, it also increases the chances of developing obesity or suffering from a stroke.

The fact that your partner’s snoring doesn’t let you sleep can erode the relationship little by little. Listening to a person snoring by your side every night and having to wake them up to stop them from making noise will only make them feel upset. Many even choose to sleep separately or get a divorce after trying to use earplugs or hearing aids to reduce the noise, without getting good results.

We’ve already talked about some consequences of not sleeping well, but if this is caused by your partner or a family member, they become the main reason for your bad mood and the primary target of your anger.

These conflicts impact your health in a bad way, since it has been proven that a negative atmosphere at home can cause stress, inflammation, and changes in appetite. The immune system is also weakened by constant arguing.

A study by Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, sought to evaluate the effects of snoring on both the snorers and their spouses. They selected 4 couples in an age range between 35 and 55, in which one of the members had severe sleep apnea.

The conclusion they reached was that the effect of the snoring sound didn’t affect the snorers as much. This is because the brain dampens respiratory interruptions during sleep. But 100% of their partners did suffer the consequences, especially in the ear that was exposed to snoring. The effect was equivalent to having slept for 15 years with an industrial machine.

The loud noises not only affect hearing, but they can also raise blood pressure to risky levels, especially for other diseases, according to research from the Imperial College of Science in London, which assessed the stress of people living near several European airports.

Their findings determined that, the higher the volume of noise, the greater the risk of hypertension. They realized that the body always reacted in the same way, regardless of whether the patient woke up with the noise or not.

They also discovered that these results could be transferred to any sound of more than 35 decibels, so people exposed to snoring were also at risk, since it can reach 80 decibels. Hypertension can lead to other diseases, such as kidney problems, dementia, and heart disease.

Dangers of second-hand snoring

Here are some possible consequences, direct and indirect, of sleeping near a person who snores:

How to prevent these problems

Sleeping with a snorer is an ordeal, especially when you have already tried everything to make your nights more bearable. If the headphones and earplugs no longer work, you could (if possible) go to sleep in another room and be with your partner at times that do not affect your rest.

smart pillow is being developed for the snoring partner, which will allow the snoring noise to be canceled out with an equal and opposite sound frequency. However, it has not yet reached the market, so this is a solution that you’ll only be able to use in the future.

You could also take a look at these tricks for those who want to stop snoring. They can be useful to regain harmony and, what’s most important, health in your home.

This content was originally published here.

The World Health Organization releases a new plan to drastically decrease the price of insulin

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they’ve worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.



via Diabetes Voice

“Four hundred million people are living with diabetes, the amount of insulin available is too low and the price is too high, so we really need to do something,” Emer Cooke, the W.H.O.’s head of regulation of medicines and health technologies, said in a statement.

Through a process called “prequalification” United Nations agencies, such as Doctors without Borders, will be able to buy approved generic versions of insulin.

The W.H.O. used similar tactics to make HIV/AIDS drugs more affordable.

In 2002, 7,000 Africans were dying every year due to AIDS because Western drug companies sold the life-saving drugs for around $15,000 a year. Now the drugs are made in countries with thriving generic drug industries and the medications cost only around $75 a year.

Rosemary Enobakhare the director of the Affordable Insulin Now campaign calls the new program “a good first step toward affordable insulin for all around the world,” but says it won’t do much to help the 30 million Americans with diabetes.

Any attempt to lower insulin prices would require “Congress to grant Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices,” she added.

Companies that made generic drugs have a hard time penetrating the U.S. market because the Food and Drug Administration imposes hefty fees for drug approvals.

Insulin is ten times cheaper in Canada because the government negotiates with manufacturers, a practice that’s illegal in the U.S.

This vial of insulin costs just $6 to manufacture.

At this pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, it can be purchased for $32. Twenty minutes away, in Detroit, the same exact vial costs $340.

It is time for a government that works for the American people, not drug companies’ profits. pic.twitter.com/Uo2T8GG54T
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 28, 2019

Earlier in the year, the Trump Administration announced preliminary plans to allow Americans to import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada. Through the program, state governments, drug wholesalers, and pharmacies can create proposals to import the drugs that would then have to be approved by the federal government.

The catch? It would not include insulin.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took a bus full of Americans to Canada earlier this year to call attention to the out of control cost of insulin.

“Americans are paying $300 for insulin. In Canada they can purchase it for $30,” Sanders said in a tweet. “We are going to end pharma’s greed.”

This family was able to save $10,000 buying insulin for their son in Canada, where the exact same insulin is one-tenth the price.

The profits the drug companies are making ripping off the American people is scandalous, it is outrageous and it has got to end. pic.twitter.com/Rew4ftIo0o
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 29, 2019

This content was originally published here.

U.S. Must Provide Mental Health Services to Families Separated at Border – The New York Times

“The question is,” he said, “what happens from here and can it be enforced? I assume the government will appeal and get the order stayed because it’s brand new. They’ll say the judge got it wrong.”

The family separations were a key part of the Trump administration’s effort to deter migrant families at the southwestern border, where they have been arriving in large numbers, most of them fleeing violence and deep poverty in Central America.

Under the zero-tolerance policy, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted and jailed, a process that the government said could not be carried out without removing their children.

The federal government had reported that nearly 3,000 children were forcibly removed from their parents under the policy. An additional 1,556 migrant families were separated between July 2017 and June 2018, the government said last month.

President Trump suspended the policy in June 2018 amid a public outcry, and a federal judge in San Diego ordered the government to reunify the families.

But Judge Kronstadt found that the government had taken “affirmative steps to implement the zero-tolerance policy,” and that its implementation had caused “severe mental trauma to parents and their children.”

Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer with Public Counsel, which brought the case along with the law firm Sidley Austin, said the judge had found that the separation policy violated the families’ constitutional rights.

“You cannot have a policy of deliberately trying to injure a family bond,” he said. “Cruelty cannot be part of an enforcement policy, and here it was the cornerstone of the policy.”

Government lawyers had argued that it could not be held liable for mental health problems that might occur in the future, and that there had been no proof of existing irreparable harm to any of those subjected to the policy.

Further, they said that any harm that might have occurred was quickly abated when families were reunited.

The government declined to comment on the court’s ruling.

The lead plaintiff in the case, a Guatemalan migrant identified as J.P., was separated from her teenage daughter at the border on May 21, 2018. For more than a month, the mother said, she had no idea of her child’s whereabouts. They spoke for the first time after they had been apart for 40 days, and only because a lawyer encountered J.P. during a visit to the detention center in Irvine, Calif., where she was being held.

Until then, no one had explained to her in a language she could understand — she speaks a Mayan language — what had happened to her daughter, according to her lawyer, Judy London, who is with Public Counsel. Her daughter, 16, had been sent to a shelter in Phoenix.

“Despite her obvious terror and inability to comprehend what was happening around her, no one made sure she had understood information about how she could contact her daughter,” Ms. London said in a declaration filed with the court.

“To the contrary, the guards insisted she needed no help and could on her own use phones to reach her daughter,” she said.

This content was originally published here.

The amazing health benefits of turmeric | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Turmeric, an orange-colored spice imported from India, is part of the ginger family and has been a staple in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cooking for thousands of years.

In addition, ayurvedic and Chinese medicines utilize turmeric to clear infections and inflammations on the inside and outside of the body. But beyond the holistic health community, Western medical practitioners have only recently come on board in recognizing the health benefits of turmeric.

Here are some of the ways turmeric may benefit your body.

Blocking cancer

Doctors at UCLA found that curcumin, the main component in turmeric, appeared to block an enzyme that promotes the growth of head and neck cancer.

In that study, 21 subjects with head and neck cancers chewed two tablets containing 1,000 milligrams of curcumin. An independent lab in Maryland evaluated the results and found that the cancer-promoting enzymes in the patients’ mouths were inhibited by the curcumin and thus prevented from advancing the spread of the malignant cells.

Powerful antioxidant

The University of Maryland’s Medical Center also states that turmeric’s powerful antioxidant properties fight cancer-causing free radicals, reducing or preventing some of the damage they can cause.

While more research is necessary, early studies have indicated that curcumin may help prevent or treat several types of cancer including prostate, skin and colon.

Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease

A study in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry revealed that curcumin may improve memory and mood swings in people who suffer from mild cases of memory loss.

Researchers had a group of 40 adults between the ages of 50 and 90 take either a curcumin or placebo pill for 18 months. At the end, the memory and attention of participants who took the curcumin pill improved by 28%.

While the exact reason why turmeric can improve memory isn’t known, doctors believe it’s because the spice has anti-inflammatory properties. “It may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” Gary Small from UCLA told NDTV.

Potent anti-inflammatory

Dr. Randy J. Horwitz, the medical director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, wrote a paper for the American Academy of Pain Management in which he discussed the health benefits of turmeric.

“Turmeric is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available,” Horwitz states in the paper.

He went on to cite a University of Arizona study that examined the effect of turmeric on rats with injected rheumatoid arthritis. According to Horwitz, pretreatment with turmeric completely inhibited the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in the rats. In addition, the study found that using turmeric for pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis resulted in a significant reduction of symptoms.

Some research shows that curcumin might ease symptoms of uveitis — long-term inflammation in the middle layer of the eye. Other research shows that taking turmeric daily
for several months may improve kidney function for people with kidney inflammation.

Turmeric's leaves(Curcuma longa) - but turmeric's health benefits come mainly from its root.Turmeric comes from the curcuma longa plant. (Photo: Skyprayer2005/Shutterstock)

Osteoarthritis pain relief

Turmeric may also be helpful with another type of arthritis. Some research has shown that taking turmeric extract can ease the pain of
osteoarthritis. In one study,
reports WebMD, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen for relieving osteoarthritis pain.

Indigestion and heartburn aid

Curcumin works with the gallbladder, stimulating it to make bile, which may help with digestion. In Germany, turmeric can be prescribed for
digestive problems. Some research shows that turmeric may help upset stomach, bloating and gas. Turmeric may also help reduce the occurrence of irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS) in people who are otherwise healthy.

Heart disease

Studies have suggested curcumin may help prevent the buildup of plaque that can clog arteries and lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Impact on diabetes

Early studies suggest that taking turmeric daily can cut down the number of people with prediabetes who develop diabetes.

Raw is best

Natalie Kling, a Los Angeles-based nutritionist, says she first learned about the benefits of turmeric while getting her degree from the Natural Healing Institute of Neuropathy. “As an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiseptic, it’s a very powerful plant,” she says.

Kling recommends it to clients for joint pain and says that when taken as a supplement, it helps quickly. She advises adding turmeric to food whenever possible and offers these easy tips. “Raw is best,” she said. “Sprinkling it on vegetables or mixing it into dressings is quick and effective.”

If you do cook it, make sure to use a small amount of healthy fat like healthy coconut oil to maximize flavor. Kling also recommends rubbing turmeric on meat and putting it into curries and soups.

“It’s inexpensive, mild in taste, and benefits every system in the body,” Kling says. “Adding this powerful plant to your diet is one of the best things you can do for long term health.”

Quality matters

Turmeric is for sale at a market
Turmeric is for sale at a market. (Photo: ChiccoDodiFC/Shutterstock)

Safety can be an issue with turmeric, recent research finds. Turmeric is sometimes laced with pigments to enhance its brightness. In some cases those pigments can include lead, which contributes to cognitive issues and other serious issues. Lead is a neurotoxin that has long been banned from food for safety reasons.

Consumer Reports recently tested 13 turmeric products along with 16 echinacea products because these are the two most popular botanical supplements after horehound. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, sales of turmeric grew 30.5%. Of the 13 turmeric products tested, one had lead levels that exceeded Consumer Reports’ threshold standards and one had aerobic bacteria levels that exceeded the group’s set standards.

“Higher aerobic bacteria levels don’t necessarily make a supplement unsafe to take, but they can indicate that products were manufactured or processed in unsanitary conditions,” according to the report.

None of the products had lead levels that exceeded standards set by the nonprofit U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), but one had lead levels that exceeded Consumer Reports’ stricter threshold. According to James E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports, “No amount of lead is acceptable.”

Earlier this year, a Stanford University study found that the pigments added to turmeric in Bangladesh may contain lead chromate.

In the study, published in Environmental Research, researchers discovered that turmeric was likely the cause of blood lead contamination in Bangladeshis. They didn’t find evidence of contaminated turmeric outside of Bangladesh, and say that food safety checks are incentives for spice processors to limit the lead added to turmeric that will be exported.

However, the researchers caution, “the current system of periodic food safety checks may catch only a fraction of the adulterated turmeric being traded worldwide.” Since 2011, they point out, more than 15 brands of turmeric — distributed to countries including the U.S. — have been recalled due to excessive levels of lead. The research authors suggested that an “immediate intervention” was needed, bringing together producers and wholesalers to find solutions.

How to shop smart

Supplements like turmeric are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as food, not drugs. So they aren’t put through the same safety tests as medications. Therefore, it’s up to consumers to be vigilant about what they buy. Here are a couple of tips from Consumer Reports about how to be safe when buying them:

Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement. Don’t rely on a pharmacist or health store employee for advice. Consumer Reports sent “secret shoppers” to 34 stores in seven states and in most cases the pharmacists were unaware of potential risks of supplements or reactions with prescription medications. Instead, ask your primary health care provider for advice.

Look on the label, but don’t rely on it. Many products have certifications that verify a supplement contains what is on the label. You can read about some of the verification labels here. But just because a product doesn’t contain heavy metals, pesticides or other contaminants, doesn’t mean the supplement is safe for you to take. It depends on your medical conditions and medications.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information since it was published in January 2012.

The amazing health benefits of turmeric
From reducing inflammation to warding off heart disease, turmeric has impressive healing properties.

This content was originally published here.

Cheesesteak destination Max’s shut down by Philly Health Department

One of Philadelphia’s most storied cheesesteak shops was closed for business over the weekend, disappointing both regulars and tourists who flock to the increasingly-famous North Broad Street destination.

Max’s Steaks, which was featured in Rocky sequels Creed and Creed II and recently made a cameo on NBC’s This Is Us, was temporarily shut down due to health code violations, according to a cease and desist sign on its front door.

Also shuttered were the adjacent Eagle Bar and Clock Bar, on Erie and Germantown avenues, respectively. The three locations share an owner and are connected to one another via basement passages, according to Rasul Haqq, who said he works as an assistant manager and security guard at Max’s.

“We never had any serious violations before,” Haqq told a reporter outside the shop on Saturday. “It’s probably been 10 years since this place closed.”

The interior of Max’s Steaks as health inspectors walked through Saturday afternoon

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Health officials could be seen inside the establishment, giving it a once-over after crews had come in to fix the issues and give the place a deep cleaning. “It took us 48 hours to do the whole thing,” Haqq said. “Everybody pitched in.”

He and other staffers gathered outside said they expected Max’s to reopen early on Saturday night after inspectors approved the cleanup, but a return visit around 8 p.m. found the gates still half-pulled over the windows and only a few people inside.

Several groups walked up to the locked front door, only to be disappointed. “That spot says it has cheesesteaks,” one teenager said to his friends, pointing to a sign directly across the street. “Nah, we don’t want those cheesesteaks,” came the dejected answer.

Calls to the Philly Health Department’s weekend dispatch center to discover which violations were still outstanding on Sunday were not immediately returned.

Eagle Bar next to Max’s, with newly-cleaned floor mats hanging out to dry

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

A Health Department report shows the cheesesteak shop at 3653 Germantown Ave. failed its regular inspection on Nov. 7, with the sanitarian in charge citing “imminent health hazards” like live rodents and lack of proper temperature care for opened food ingredients.

While reactions on social media included pearl-clutching about dirty environs, these kinds of violations aren’t that uncommon in a city with old infrastructure.

The Inquirer’s monthly report of Health Dept. violations shows at least 37 restaurants were shut down for being out of code last month, including a Federal Donuts, a Starbucks, and various other facilities ranging from corner groceries to goPuff delivery warehouses.

Once closed, these places usually reopen within days, so it’s a good bet that a newly sparkling Max’s will return to normal operation this week.

This content was originally published here.

E.P.A. to Tighten Limits on Science Used to Write Public Health Rules – The New York Times

A E.P.A. spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, “The agency does not discuss draft, deliberative documents or actions still under internal and interagency review.”

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing on E.P.A.’s efforts. A top pulmonary specialist and a representative of the country’s largest nonprofit funder of research on Parkinson’s disease, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, are expected to testify that the E.P.A.’s proposed rule would eliminate the use of valuable research showing the dangers of pollution to human health.

Mr. Pruitt’s original proposal drew nearly 600,000 comments, the vast majority of them in opposition. Among them were leading public health groups and some of the country’s top scientific organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners said it was “deeply concerned” that the rule would lead to the exclusion of studies, “ultimately resulting in weaker environmental and health protections and greater risks to children’s health.” The National Center for Science Education said ruling out studies that do not use open data “would send a deeply misleading message, ignoring the thoughtful processes that scientists use to ensure that all relevant evidence is considered.” The Medical Library Association and the Association of Academic Health Science Libraries said the proposal “contradicts our core values.”

Industry groups said the rule would ensure greater public understanding of the science behind regulations that cost consumers money.

“Transparency, reproducibility and application of current scientific knowledge are paramount to providing the foundation required for sound regulations,” the American Chemistry Council wrote to E.P.A. in support of the plan.

The new version does not appear to have taken any of the opposition into consideration. At a meeting of the agency’s independent science advisory board this summer, Mr. Wheeler said he was “a little shocked” at the amount of opposition to the proposal, but he was committed to finalizing it. Beyond retroactivity, the latest version stipulates that all data and models used in studies under consideration at the E.P.A. would have to be made available to the agency so it can reanalyze research itself. The politically appointed agency administrator would have wide-ranging discretion over which studies to accept or reject.

This content was originally published here.

Being Surrounded By Chronic Complainers Could Be Damaging Your Health

Complaining might be good in some ways but overall, it doesn’t do much to help us. Sure, it’s a means of letting some stress out but when we become chronic complainers or surround ourselves with chronic complainers’ real problems tend to ensue.

The more we complain and the more surrounded we are by those who complain on a chronic level the more unhappy we become. Actually, according to Jon Gordon who wrote the book ‘The No Complaining Rule’, the harms of complaining could even be so severe that they would be comparable to those of secondhand smoke. If all we do is complain constantly or hear others doing the same, we’re going to be miserable and there is no denying that.

While there is nothing wrong with venting from time to time, the habit that comes with being so negative and ‘whiney’ is not one any of us need to allow forth in our lives. Think about the people in your life and who complains the most? How does that complaining affect you? As someone who grew up in a household where my parents were constantly complaining about even the most minuscule things, I can honestly say it brought me down drastically and could have really influenced the way in which I turned out. Perhaps I would have been more motivated at a younger age had that not been my reality.

In regards to complaining and overall health WKBW Buffalo reported as follows:

It turns out that constant complaining will not only turn off others, but it can actually wreak havoc in other ways, too. Although it’s quite obvious that complaining can bring down your mood and the happiness of others around you, it can also have a large impact on your brain functioning, and it can even take a toll on your body as well.

The more surrounded by complaining we are the more negative we tend to think. Every time we complain our brain works to rewire itself. This meaning that it makes the same reactions much more likely to occur again and again. This in a sense forcing us to get trapped in the same mindset as time passes.

While those who complain all the time might not be able to see how negative they are. They rub off on us and no matter how much we try to help them or offer advice it’s never enough. The more we try the harder we fall into their ways ourselves.

While you might not have noticed just yet complainers on a serious level are able to drain us all drastically. They spread their negative messages to all they can and make us feel like we’re surrounded by something we cannot escape from.

It is also important to understand that while a little complaining might be fine when it becomes constant rather than letting go of stress, it creates more. This is because it increases the production of something known as cortisol within our beings. When this happens we end up facing blood pressure raises and glucose spikes. Too much production of this can increase our risks of several serious health issues and is something we should be avoiding as best we can.

If you’re someone who feels like you’re complaining too much or like the people in your life are becoming too negative, take a much-needed step back and monitor your complaining shut it down before it comes out and cut ties with those who refuse to try and be more positive overall. You’ll be surprised how much more enriched you will begin to feel in a mere week or so.

In regards to being surrounded by chronic complainers Happify wrote as follows:

The chronic complainer can always find something negative to comment on. For a while, you may think this person is simply stuck in a rut—that once their lot in life changes a bit they’ll become more optimistic and happy.

You may even engage in some of the above tactics, trying to help them see the positive or find a solution for their problems.

But chronic complainers are not trying to make the problem go away. In fact, they probably derive real value from the time and attention they get out of complaining.

These people are called “help-rejecting complainers,” says Kowalski, and they can be difficult to deal with and hard to be around. While it may be in your nature to try to “fix” problems—be it challenging situations or negative attitudes—it’s important to know that you are NOT going to change this person.

Instead, focus on your own coping mechanisms, such as minimizing contact with them. Because of the constant negativity, it can be important to set up clear boundaries for yourself, such as steering clear from one-on-one time with these people.

Let’s say you share an office with one of these types. You might start to wear headphones at your desk, post a sign that says “complaint-free zone,” feign being busy when she wants to vent, or attempt to ignore her outbursts. If you consistently find ways not to engage, Cathy the Complainer will eventually seek attention elsewhere.

And if you start feeling guilty, remember this: Their endless complaining and your quest to help will be a frustrating experience for all, so think of your sanity and do your best to limit your exposure.

Once you start paying attention to who’s griping and how they gripe, you’ll have a better chance of hanging onto your happiness in a world where everyone seems to be complaining. Then you can decide for yourself how best to offer support—or run the other way.

For more on this topic please feel free to check out the video below. Remember that you matter and how you feel in life is based around how you act and who you allow within your life. If you want to feel better and better your health overall perhaps complaining is something you need to move away from.

This content was originally published here.

Instagram Influencer, 22, Claims Learning About WW2 Would Hit Millennials’ Mental Health

Freddie Bentley is a British reality television celebrity who is mainly known for his appearance on the reality game show “The Circle” and for his Instagram feed.

He has recently come under fire online after appearing on the TV show Good Morning Britain and arguing an unpopular opinion.

In the piece on GMB, Bentley states that children should not have to learn about WW2. In his opinion, too much time is spent on the subject. He is concerned that the emphasis on the destruction and killing of war is too much for young minds.

“I don’t want anyone to think I’m being disrespectful,” the 22-year-old celebrity said. He added, “I remember learning it as a child thinking, ‘Oh my god it’s so intense.’”

I agree with Freddie Bentley, I once watched Saving Private Ryan and still have flashbacks. Let’s stop this madness #freddiebentley #SaturdayThoughts #Millennialshttps://t.co/HkVelD11ko

— Millennial Mike (@MillennialMike3) November 2, 2019

People on Twitter, of course, did think that he was being extremely disrespectful. Many pointed out the number of young men who were killed fighting in that war so that people like Bentley would have the freedom to become whatever they wanted. Others pointed out that learning about the war was necessary in order to prevent another one in the future.

Lt. Jack Reynolds (aged 22) was famously photographed after being taken prisoner during the Battle of Arnhem. In the photo, he is seen giving the “two-fingered” salute to the German photographer.
Lt. Jack Reynolds (aged 22) was famously photographed after being taken prisoner during the Battle of Arnhem. In the photo, he is seen giving the “two-fingered” salute to the German photographer.

Many on Twitter pointed out Bentley’s age and how he seemed to fit the stereotype of millennial entitlement.

Bentley suggested that school should avoid potentially furthering any mental health issues children may be facing by forcing them to confront the realities of war at a young age. He recommended spending less time teaching the history of wars and more time explaining Brexit or helping children learn personal finance.

Most online commentators seemed to agree that schools could teach additional subjects but rejected his suggestion that these new subjects come at the expense of teaching about WW2.

@piersmorgan Please get GMB to send Freddie Bentley to Auschwitz to educate this boy along with Michael Wilshaw as https://t.co/cOPYquujcE’s hoping Piers

— Janet Turner (@chocibun) November 1, 2019

Bentley’s comments occurred during a segment on GMB in which he debated the question of whether students should be taught about WW2.

The segment followed an episode of the British version of The Apprentice television show. In the episode, one of the teams had difficulty with an assigned task because none of them were familiar with when WWII began.

Many people took to social media after that episode to decry the state of the British education system.

Shocked for 2nd time this week, Apprentice candidates not knowing when WW11 ended and now that famous celebrity Freddie Bentley on GMB stating WW1 and WW2 should not be taught in schools, @GMB @Lord_Sugar

— Colin Richards (@scoobybloobird) November 1, 2019

Bentley came to fame as a contestant on the reality game show, The Circle. Contestants on that show lived each in their own apartment. Their only contact with the other contestants and with the outside world was through a specially-made social network app known as The Circle.

Contestants could choose to represent themselves truthfully or make up a new identity to show the other contestants.

Each week, contestants were put through a sort of popularity contest with the least popular member among the group being kicked off the show. The winner received 50,000GBP.

Another Article From Us: Arnhem Hero Who Flicked V-sign at The Germans Dies at 97

Bentley came out publicly as gay on that show though he chose to present himself as straight to the other contestants. Since the show, he has been popular on Instagram.

This content was originally published here.

Red meat red flags discredited: Fake meat may be worse for your health

Let them eat steak: Hold the shame, red meat is not bad for you or climate change


Will Coggin


Opinion contributor
Published 5:00 AM EDT Nov 2, 2019

Imagine ordering dinner at your favorite restaurant. You know what you want without hesitation: a perfectly marbled 8-ounce steak cooked medium rare. Just before you order, your date tells you they’ve read that cows cause climate change and that meat might be unhealthy. Suddenly, the Caesar salad seems like a better option.

We’ve all been steak-shamed before. Ever since Sen. George McGovern’s 1977 Dietary Goals report declared red meat a health villain, Americans have been chided out of eating red meat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, red meat consumption has fallen more than 24% since 1976. During that time, study after study has attempted to tie red meat to a laundry list of health problems.

Until now. 

So many studies, so many flaws

Three studies published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine did something too few papers do: Ask whether the previous studies had any meat on their bones. 

The researchers who wrote the report analyzed 61 past studies consisting of over 4 million participants to see whether red meat affected the risk of developing heart disease and cancer. 

All three came to the same conclusion: Decreasing red meat consumption had little to no effect on reducing risk of heart disease, cancer or stroke. 

How can so many studies be wrong?

Steaks and and other beef products for sale at a grocery store.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Nutritional research often relies on survey-based observational studies. These track groups of people and the food they eat, or try to tie a person’s past eating habits to a person’s current state of health. The result is something akin to a crime chart from a mob movie with a random red string connecting random suspects trying to figure out “who dunnit.”

Observational studies rely on participants to recall past meals, sometimes as far back as a month. Even when eating habits are tracked in real time using food diaries, issues arise. Research has shown that participants don’t give honest answers and often pad food diaries with typically “good” foods like vegetables while leaving out things like meat, sweets and alcohol. There’s also the matter of having to accurately report portion sizes and knowing the ingredients of the food eaten in restaurants.

Beef may be healthier than fake meat 

The room for error is huge. A much better form of study would be to lock people in cells for a period of time so that you could precisely control what they ate and did and then measure outcomes. Obviously, there are ethical issues with such a structure, which is why observational studies are more common, if flawed.

Some companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have tried to cash in on the misconception about meat’s healthfulness. According to the market research firm Mintel, 46% of Americans believe that plant-based meat is better for you than real meat. Ironically, the anti-meat messages could be leading people to less healthful options. 

Science on your side: Don’t let vegetarian environmentalists shame you on meat 

Plant-based meat might enjoy the perception of being healthier, but that perception is far from reality. A lean beef burger has an average of nearly 20% fewer calories and 80% less sodium than the two most popular fake-meat burgers, the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger. 

Fake meat is also an “ultra-processed” food, filled with unpronounceable ingredients. The National Institutes of Health released a study in May finding that ultra-processed foods cause weight gain. Unlike observational studies, this research was a controlled, randomized study. 

Earth will survive your meat-eating

It’s not just the flawed health claims about red meat that deserve a second look. In recent years, we’ve been told reducing meat consumption is essential to saving the planet. But despite what critics say, even if everyone in America went vegan overnight, total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the United States would only be reduced 2.6%.

Eat better meat: Don’t go vegan to save the planet. You can help by being a better meat-eater.

Since the early 1960s, America has shrank GHG  emissions from livestock by 11.3% while doubling the production of animal farming. Meat production is a relatively minor contributor to our overall GHG levels. In other countries, it may have a higher impact. The solution is not lecturing everyone else to go meat-free. Sharing our advancements would prove to be a more likely and efficient way to reduce emissions than cutting out meat or replacing it with an ultra-processed analogue.

Those who enjoy a good steak now have a good retort the next time they’re criticized for their choice: Don’t have a cow.

Will Coggin is the managing director at the Center for Consumer Freedom.

This content was originally published here.

Anti-abortion pregnancy clinics team up to target millennials with lies about health care

The groups, which refuse to offer the full range of reproductive health care, hope to target more millennials with phone apps.

Obria, the under-the-radar anti-abortion group that provides misinformation via its “crisis pregnancy centers,” is expanding.

A New Generation, a Florida-based anti-abortion “pregnancy resource center,” just announced it would be affiliating with Obria. Doing so will allow the group to offer more medical services, as Obria is technically a medical clinic.

Of course, those medical services don’t include things like birth control. Instead, it will be the usual fare places like this offer: ineffective abstinence counseling and medically unsound information about abortion.

A New Generation was particularly pleased to join with Obria because Obria aggressively markets to millennials, and A New Generation wants to “better minister” to them, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Obria has an app that lets people talk to an Obria provider, which A New Generation thinks millennials will find particularly appealing. In fact, the head of A New Generation described it as a “tele-medicine app, so clients will be able to reach us by using their phones and talk to a nurse face-to-face to get the information they need.”

“Tele-medicine app” wildly overstates what Obria offers — and what A New Generation wants to offer. Obria doesn’t offer birth control. Obria doesn’t offer medication abortions. And Obria doesn’t connect people with health care professionals who would give them a full range of reproductive health options.

Despite all the government money Obria is receiving, it still isn’t offering actual medicine. Instead, the organization, which has received $1.7 million in Title X funds, will teach people about “restraint,” California Healthline reports. It won’t use any of the money to provide condoms to fight skyrocketing levels of STDs.

The head of A New Generation frames this partnership as being “able to meet the needs of women with their health care needs” but then clarified: “[W]hen they find themselves in a crisis situation, instead of turning to maybe an abortion provider, they would turn to us, because we’ve already built a relationship with them.”

Obria isn’t building relationships with anyone. It’s using its ever-increasing — and now government-funded — platform to spread lies and to stop people from getting the reproductive health care they want and need. And now, it’s got yet another clinic to help with that endeavor.

The post Anti-abortion pregnancy clinics team up to target millennials with lies about health care appeared first on Shareblue Media.

This content was originally published here.

Instagrammer Says Learning About WWII is Bad for Millennials’ Mental Health

In school, learning about history was probably one of the most bittersweet things. Though the subject was very interesting, it really did put into perspective just how vile and disgusting humans can be. And even though people tried to promote it as a way to prove “just how far we’d come”, judging by the current state of the world, it is clear to see we’ve not really made as much progress as we had hoped.

Now, an Intsgrammer named Freddie Bentley has come forward claiming that teaching history, particularly about WWII is detrimental for Millenials’ mental health. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, I have to bring you this kind of news.

Keep reading for all the details around the issue.

An Instagram influencer claimed that it is “bad” for millennials to learn about WWII.

Reality TV star Freddie Bentley decided to announce this during a segment of Good Morning Britain, leaving the entire country speechless.

We all know WWII was the worst war that the world has ever seen.

The conflict lasted from 1939-1945, and over the six years, saw the death of up to fifty million people, making it the bloodiest war. On one side, we had the Axis powers – Germany, Italy, and Japan – and the other, the Allies – France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China.

While it seemed global power was in the hands of western Europe, this war shifted power toward the United States and the Soviet Union.

Innocent men and women lost their lives out on the front line defending their respective countries, primarily without a choice. This is why we work hard to honor them for their service.

In a very controversial interview on Good Morning Britain, a twenty-two-year-old Instagrammer decided to vouch to scrap the teaching of the Second World War to students, as it could prove to have a negative effect on their mental health.

The reality star defended his statement by saying this:

“It was a hard situation, World War Two, I don’t want anyone to think I’m being disrespectful,” he said, “I remember learning it as a child thinking ‘Oh my God it’s so intense’.”

Oh boo hoo, Freddie, at least you didn’t have to live through it.

He believes it will worsen mental health in youngsters.

“I don’t think encouraging death or telling people how many people died in the world war is going to make it better.”

Freddie is the classic example of “let’s wipe out history.”

Not teaching these kinds of subjects in schools makes children grow up thinking in a more narrow-minded way, while also encouraging nonchalant attitudes towards important chunks of history.

In simple words: Just because you don’t like it, didn’t mean it didn’t happen.

I think not.

We are not out here to clean the slate and pretend it didn’t happen. Bad things always happen. We can’t sugar-coat wars and expect people to forget what really happened, can we?

Instead, Freddie wanted to replace learning about WWII by learning how to understand mortgages instead.

Brilliant (!)

We can learn about mortgages and learn about the history that has defined us all and the countries we live in.

People quickly moved to social media to share their opinions.

And let me tell you, hardly anyone, besides a few entitled youngsters, agreed with him.

People had other theories about what worsens mental health in Millenials.

This is so true.

Freddie starred in a British TV show named in which people lie about their identity.

I mean, are we really listening to these kinds of people? No thank you.

“Wrap him in cotton wool…”

It seems as if that’s what he wants! Not everything can be ignored, especially not a war that killed millions of people!

This conversation was sparked after candidates on the British version of The Apprentice did not know the dates of the war.

via: Instagram

Fans of the show were left shocked and angry at the candidates’ response to the war. One of the teams was left debating the dates after the task involved them having to find a pre-war copy of a book.

This led to a whole heap of criticism directed towards the British education system.

A war that defined modern Britain and businessmen and women don’t know when it occurred? It’s quite pathetic really. It wasn’t even long ago!

People were also claiming that forgetting about such impactful horrors means it’s easier for history to repeat itself, and with the current political and economic climate of the world, we seem to be drifting closer towards another one.

Are people just choosing to be ignorant or do we have a serious flaw in education?

One person tweeted how the whole team should have been fired for their appalling behavior.

Freddie’s comment just added to the anger of the public.

He also stated this: “There are so many problems going on in the world, like Brexit, that’s not taught in schools. When I left school it hit me like a ton of bricks – I didn’t know anything to do with life.”

First, second and third of all, Brexit is a very recent occurrence that only happened due to the instability of the country.

And now Britain is paying the price for it.

Standing by Freddie’s comments only prove one thing: Some Millenials care about nothing but themselves. And that’s just the sad reality of the situation.

Most Instagram influencers are known for doing sketchy things. keep scrolling to read more about their problematic behavior.

This content was originally published here.

Anti-abortion group is spreading lies to stop college kids from getting health care

Students for Life of America wants to take access to health care away from nearly half a million students in California.

The head of Students for Life of America, Kristan Hawkins, is very willing to spread utter falsehoods about medication abortion in order to push her dangerous anti-choice agenda.

Her latest round of lies occurred because California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill that requires medication abortion, a nonsurgical procedure, at all public universities in the state. Anti-abortion radicals like Hawkins are furious, so they’ve resorted to making up claims about the safety of medication abortion and are now offering legal assistance to health care workers offended by the procedure.

In fact, SFLA is actively seeking out public university health care employees who oppose the law. The day the law was passed, the organization posted a tweet saying, “if you are a student or employee who is worried how this affects your #consciencerights message us and we will assist you.”

SFLA likely has to try to solicit these sorts of claims because these so-called conscience rights claims are vanishingly rare. Last week, the federal government had to admit in court that, where it had once claimed there were 343 religious rights complaints in 2018, there were actually only about 20 — for the entire country.

The organization is also outright lying about the dangers of medication abortion. Medication abortion is a procedure where a patient takes one medication when they visit the health care facility and a second medication at home. It’s incredibly safe, with serious complications occurring in fewer than 0.4% of patients, and it’s incredibly successful, with an overall success rate of 95-99%.

Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, SFLA calls the procedure a “dangerous,” and Hawkins says it will “put students’ lives at risk.” She also said, “California just ensured women will die in their dormitory bathrooms, bleeding out alone from the abortion pill.” None of that is supported by evidence.

Of course, what really puts students’ lives at risk is a lack of access to safe, legal health care, including abortions. And with approximately 400,000 female students on California’s public university campuses, that access is a necessity.

The post Anti-abortion group is spreading lies to stop college kids from getting health care appeared first on Shareblue Media.

This content was originally published here.

This Artist’s Graphic Nails How Mental Health Can Affect Your Body Too

If you live with a mental health condition, this probably isn’t news to you — your mental health issues can also lead to physical symptoms, too. A graphic created by artist Melissa Webb perfectly captures this experience, and is a good reminder that it’s not just “all in your head.”

Webb, also known as Mellow Doodles, created an illustration to remind people of the physical symptoms of mental illness. The design reads, “I wish people know that my mental health is so physical too” alongside a woman with arrows highlighting her symptoms. Physical mental health symptoms can include headaches, jaw and teeth pain, sweating, nausea, fatigue, sensory overload, cramps, restless legs and more.

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Super proud and excited to tell you that I’ve been creating some work for @timetochangecampaign ! ????????They were one of my DREAM collaborations. It’s an incredible mental health campaign for tackling stigma, set up by @mindcharity and @rethinkmentalillness ????????❤️⁣ ⁣ I really, really, really don’t think this gets talked about enough. Mental health problems cause so many physical symptoms too. Some of them can be incredibly painful. They are very real and just as valid as any other illness. Does this resonate with you? ⁣ ⁣ Go give @timetochangecampaign a follow to see the fab work they do (and see some of the work I’ve done too over the coming days/weeks ☺️)⁣ ⁣ ⁣ -⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #timetochange #timetochangecampaign #mentalhealthquotes #mentalhealth2019 #depressionsymptoms #anxietysymptoms #mentalhealthstigma #mhsupport #mentalhealthsupport #mentalhealthadvice #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthtips #mentalhealthawareness #mentalwellbeing #mentalwellness #mentalhealthmatters #illustratoroninstagram #mentalhealthillustration⁣

A post shared by Melissa Webb • The Doodle Bar (@mellow.doodles) on

Webb created the physical symptoms graphic for the U.K. campaign Time to Change, which was set up by the charities Rethink Mental Illness and Mind to tackle stigma around mental health. Webb said she also wanted to tackle mental health stigma by showing how much of an impact mental illness can have on both your mind and body.

“The physical symptoms that mental health problems can cause are so difficult, and so wide ranging, and it felt really important for it to be addressed,” Webb told The Mighty via email, adding:

Often I think the reason mental health is not taken seriously is because people assume it’s ‘all in your head.’ In fact, it produces a whole range of symptoms like any other illness — and these physical manifestations can be just as difficult, and sometimes just as debilitating, as the internal struggles.

While we call it “mental health,” there’s a very good reason your physical health can be impacted too. Anxiety, for example, is a fear response that triggers your nervous system like you are responding to a threat. This can include sweating, tension and affect your digestive system. The neurons that help govern your mood, like serotonin, travel throughout your body — and 95% of your serotonin is made in your gut.

Mighty community member Lindsay P. explained how her mental health affects her physical symptoms in the article, “24 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Mental Illness“:

“I get really hot and start sweating when my anxiety is high,” Lindsay said. “My friend and I joke that it’s like I’m having hot flashes. However, at the time it’s happening, it’s not too funny. I also have stomach cramping and often feel like throwing up when I’m having prolonged anxiety attacks.”

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Last time I posted this, I got lots of questions about what ✨ reparenting ✨ means. I want to talk about this briefly because it’s one of the things that has helped me the most!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ We all have an inner child. All of us. ????‍???? Nurturing ourselves in the way we would a child switches up the perspectives we have on ourselves. If you’re incredibly hard on yourself, set high expectations and get impatient with yourself too, you might need this especially. ????⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Reparenting, to me, is about providing my inner child with the support they need. And this is two sided:⁣⁣ •Being loving, patient and gentle with ourselves in times when we are feeling sad, fragile or scared makes the most incredible difference. ❤️ ⁣⁣ •And on the other hand, there’s times where we might need some more discipline, boundaries and a firm approach – and being able to do this with yourself in a supportive way will also help enormously.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I always recommend @nu_mindframe’s youtube video on reparenting. But also have a google, search reparenting and see what you find. And look at books on working with your inner child. ????????⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ It might be that you were missing some parental support, emotionally or practically, as a child and so it’s really important for you to give that to yourself now. Or it may be that you are just missing these influences, guidance or support in your adult life. And instead have an inner critic making life difficult and painful. The good news is that we can absolutely provide ourselves with all of the things a positive parent would. Although it is wonderful to receive support and love externally, you have everything within you to give it to yourself now. Look after little you and the rest will follow ❤️⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ???? Prints of this illustration available from £8, website in bio ????⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ~⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #mhquotes #selfcompassion #mentalhealthquotes #selfcarewords #colourfulquotes #confidencequotes #kindnessquotes #selfcompassion #mentalhealthquote #reparenting #peptalk #selfreminders #reparent #innerchildwork #innerchild #colourfulquotes #quotesandsayings #quotestagrams #selflovequotes #quoteprints #letteringprints #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthtips #mentalhealthawareness

A post shared by Melissa Webb • The Doodle Bar (@mellow.doodles) on

Webb uses her illustrations to tackle other mental health subjects like setting boundaries, how to support others when they have a hard time, self-care ideas and colorful quotes and phrases to remind you you’re not alone. She said as an artist, visually appealing graphics with simple language is often an easier way to communicate important information when we’re stressed.

“I came to understand through personal experience that sometimes when we most need support for our mental health, picking up a word heavy or academic book that might help us can be so overwhelming,” Webb said. “My illustrations are intentionally bright and colourful so they are less daunting and more accessible. … For the people who need the work most, this is hopefully a better way to reach them.”

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If you have a friend who is really struggling right now, here’s some things you can do to help ⬆️⁣ ⁣ Signs they’re really struggling:⁣ ????They’ve been signed off from work.⁣ ????They’ve recently been diagnosed.⁣ ????They’ve stopped showing up for social occasions.⁣ ????They’re not answering calls/texts.⁣ ????They’re quieter or less engaged than usual. ⁣ ⁣ I know it can be scary and you might not know what to say. You feel helpless and you want them to know you care. So helping practically will help give you a clear role in supporting them. ????⁣ ⁣ ➡️These may seem so basic to people who haven’t experienced something like depression, but these everyday tasks seem like mountains to climb when you can barely function enough to face getting out of bed. Soon, the washing is piling up, the letters start arriving with URGENT stamped on them, there’s no clean cutlery left and the fridge is empty. When your brain is telling you you’re a terrible human and the world feels hopeless, this can be immensely overwhelming. ????????⁣ ⁣ So take a lasagne over and show your friends they are loved in a practical way. Feeling loved is one of the greatest sources of hope and comfort in our difficult times. And you have the power to make people feel loved every day. How magical is that? ❤️⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ~⁣ ⁣ ⁣⁣ #mentalhealthquotes #mentalhealth2019 #depressionsymptoms #anxietysymptoms #mentalhealthstigma #mhsupport #mentalhealthsupport #mentalhealthadvice #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthtips #mentalhealthawareness #mentalwellbeing #mentalwellness #mentalhealthmatters #illustratoroninstagram #mentalhealthillustration⁣⁣ ⁣

A post shared by Melissa Webb • The Doodle Bar (@mellow.doodles) on

In the art she shares on her own platform and creates with Time to Change, Webb said she hopes to reduce the stigma and shame still associated with mental health. She also wants to help others realize that struggling with your mental health is common and you are not alone.

“So many people feel ashamed to be experiencing problems with their mental health and it’s such a shame when it is so common,” Webb said. She continued:

Often, when a conversation is started around mental health, you find that almost everyone has some sort of experience of it — whether that’s through past or current experience, or through seeing a friend or family member go through their own struggles. We are much more similar than we realise — and realising this helps build connection as well as lessen the shame around it. This is always such a positive thing for people and I hope my work can help aid that in some way.

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Working on your self development and growth is important, but so is accepting yourself. This seemed a pretty revolutionary idea to me after years of reading self help books and working on personal development. And I wanted to share it with you too ????⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ~⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #mhquotes #mentalhealthtips #mentalhealthquotes #selfcarewords #colourfulquotes #growthmindset #personaldevelopment #selfcompassion #mentalhealthquote #bekindtoyourself #peptalk #selfreminders #selfdevelopment #letteringlove #selfkindness #colourfulquotes #quotesandsayings #quotestagrams #selflovequotes #quoteprints #letteringprints #illustratedquote #womenofillustration #mentalhealthawareness #mentalwellbeing #mentalwellness #selfacceptance #illustratoroninstagram #wordsoftheday⁣

A post shared by Melissa Webb • The Doodle Bar (@mellow.doodles) on

This content was originally published here.

As He Attacks Medicare for All, Mayor Pete Gets Campaign Cash From Health Care Executives

Thirty-seven-year-old South Bend, Indiana mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has undergone a dramatic shift in health care policy in less than two years.

Responding to criticism of his vague health care policies in early 2018, Buttigieg “declared” on Twitter that, “Most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages…I do favor Medicare for All.”

Later, as he entered the Democratic presidential primary, he landed on a kind of compromise: a single-player option he likes to call “Medicare for All Who Want It” that lets him show support for those frustrated by the high costs and substandard results of the American health care system while preserving the profit-driven forces that have contributed to that system.

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Now, as he continues to promote his plan, which critics call “Medicare for Some,” he’s taken an antagonistic approach to true Medicare for All, as proposed in the Medicare for All Act, and to his opponents who support it: Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), who “wrote the damn bill,” and frontrunner Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is cosponsoring and continues to support it.

In a new digital video ad from Buttigieg’s campaign, corporate consultant and former Facebook executive Joe Lockhart says, “Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren believe that we have to force ourselves into Medicare for All, where private insurance is abolished.” Lockhart cofounded Glover Park Group, a corporate consulting and lobbying firm with current and recent clients in the health sector including ​Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Horizon Therapeutics, Intuitive Surgical, and Sanofi U.S.

A still from Buttigieg’s recent anti-Medicare for All digital video ad.
Pete for America

Pharmaceutical, health insurance, and hospital industry donors have flocked to Mayor Pete all year. As of mid-2019, he was second only to Donald Trump in overall campaign cash from donors in the health sector. Among Democratic candidates, he was second to former Vice President Joe Biden in terms of pharmaceutical and health insurance donations.

A Sludge review of Buttigieg’s recent third-quarter campaign finance report shows that as he rails against Medicare for All, executives and other managers in the health sector have kept the money flowing.

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Over 100 individuals in leadership, legal, consulting, or financing roles in health sector donated $200 or more to Pete for America between July and September. These donors include pharmaceutical industry leaders such as the chief corporate affairs officer at drugmaker Pfizer, the president of Astex Pharmaceuticals, a state lobbyist for Biogen, a vice president of public policy at Novartis, and the deputy vice president at the nation’s largest pharmaceutical trade association, PhRMA, as well as attorneys for AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck.

The donors identified by Sludge gave a total of close to $97,000 to the Buttigieg campaign in the third quarter of 2019. Below are these donors’ employers, occupations, and total amount donated from July through September.

The Buttigieg campaign provided Sludge with the following statement:

Pete has always supported making Medicare (or a similar public health insurance vehicle) available to all Americans in order to achieve universal health care. He consistently describes his health care plan as a pathway to Medicare for All, which is likely why the health insurance industry has attacked his plan. For instance, our campaign website says, “If private insurers are not able to offer something dramatically better, this public plan will create a natural glide-path to Medicare for All.” Simply put, he has the same end goal as some of the other candidates in the race but differs on how to get there. 

Health sector interests including pharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurers, and hospital groups generally oppose Medicare for All, as it would allow the government to negotiate down drug and care costs, cutting into industry profits. Democratic Party political groups have accepted significant amounts of money from lobbyist bundlers who have pharmaceutical and health insurance clients, as Sludge and Maplight have reported.

In July, Sanders created and signed a pledge to reject all contributions over $200 from the PACs, executives, and lobbyists of pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, urging his opponents to join him. Biden, who did not sign it, has, like Buttigieg, reaped the benefits of large donations from industry executives.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Buttigieg’s campaign has recieved $1,266,225 from individual donors in the health sector through the third quarter.

Mayor Pete is no stranger to special-interest support. His very first successful political campaign was fueled by lobbyist fundraisers, as the Center for Public Integrity/TYT reported, and as of July 2019, this year’s effort has been led by 94 contribution “bundlers,” or well-connected supporters who raised at least $25,000 in campaign checks for him.


After City Incentives, South Bend Real Estate Executives Donate to Mayor Pete’s Presidential Campaign

After Record Fundraising Haul From Big Pharma, McConnell Vows to Block Drug Pricing Bill

Health Industry Lawyers and Lobbyists Seem to Really Like Michael Bennet


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Illegal RV sewage dumping in Seattle pollutes waterways and poses a public-health hazard | The Seattle Times

Since 2015, the number of parked RVs located within the Sodo and Ballard neighborhoods of Seattle has increased dramatically, now totaling hundreds. Many of these RV owners fail to follow proper waste-disposal protocols, instead discharging their accumulated sewer wastes, including “black water,” directly into the city storm drains. The result is that untreated sewage is being released directly into our local waterways.

Using Environmental Protection Agency wastewater pump-out and treatment statistics, it’s estimated that Seattle RV campers likely discharge more than 1 million gallons of untreated sewage annually into our waterways, including the Duwamish Waterway and Salmon Bay. For comparison, a July spill of 3 million gallons from the West Point Treatment Plant closed multiple King and Kitsap counties’ beaches and could lead to enforcement actions.

To better understand the potential impact of RV discharges, the Sodo Business Improvement Area and Ballard Alliance commissioned Anchor QEA, a Seattle-based environmental science and engineering firm, to evaluate existing water-quality data and collect a storm drain water sample from a heavily populated RV parking area in Sodo. The sample from the storm drain in the midst of the RVs registered 300 times greater than the state water-quality standard for fecal coliform bacteria.

Sadly, this sampling result is consistent with recent trends in deteriorating water quality in the area. For example, historic water quality monitoring data showed a decades-long improvement in the Duwamish River — until 2015, when fecal coliform bacteria measurements began to spike upward. This coincides with the movement of hundreds of RVs into Sodo.

While a more definitive pollution-identification study is needed on the relative impact of illegal black-water discharges, the data points strongly suggest that illegal dumping of sewage and trash, along with unsanitary conditions in unregulated RV encampments, increase public-health risks and could result in serious outbreaks of communicable diseases such as hepatitis A and typhus.

Not only do these poor waste-management practices have the potential to endanger RV residents, but they frustrate ongoing efforts to clean up our waterways and adversely impact the marine environment and public health.

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Seattle is known worldwide as an environmental leader and the protector of Puget Sound. However, the data indicates that unchecked dumping of untreated waste into Seattle’s stormwater system threatens to undo decades of cleanup and restoration. Turning back this tide of pollution starts with stopping the proliferation of dilapidated and malfunctioning RVs — something we have raised with Mayor Jenny Durkan as well as the City Council. While the mayor’s office has engaged productively, council members turn a blind eye to the issue, choosing instead to keep the status quo and continue to allow derelict RVs to remain parked on our neighborhood streets, threatening the safety of our waterways.

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Sodo BIA and the Ballard Alliance have shared this study with Seattle officials and have asked to partner with the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Health, King County, and Seattle Public Utilities to develop approaches to stop this ongoing problem.

It is time to stop ignoring the impacts of unregulated RV encampments and illegal raw-sewage dumping. It is disturbing to think that something as basic as enforcing city codes regarding dumping raw sewage from RVs could roll back decades of progress made in cleaning and protecting Puget Sound.

This content was originally published here.

Patient With Measles Who Visited Disneyland, L.A. Starbucks May Have Exposed Visitors: Health Officials

A measles patient visited Disneyland last week while contagious and could have exposed others to the disease, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Tuesday.

The patient was at the theme park on Oct. 16, between 9:15 a.m. and 8:35 p.m., and before that, at a Los Angeles Starbucks coffee shop on 3006 S. Sepulveda Blvd. on Oct. 16, between 7:50 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Anyone who visited Disneyland or the coffee shop during those time periods could be at risk of developing measles for up to 21 days after being exposed.

Those who believe they may have been exposed should review their immunization records, reach out to their health care provider as soon as possible and watch out for symptoms, including fever and an unexplained rash.

Those who experience symptoms should stay home and call their doctor immediately, health officials said.

#PressRelease : Measles Exposure Advisory – Confirmed #measles case traveled throughout Southern California. View https://t.co/cDtfp6XY16 for more info. More times and locations may follow as details become available. pic.twitter.com/k2zllK0kgC

— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) October 23, 2019

The disease is considered among the most contagious viruses in the world. About 90% of people who have never been immunized experience the symptoms seven to 21 days after exposure, authorities said.

“The measles virus can remain in an environment for several hours, so when we list public exposure sites we take that into consideration. Individuals that were in those potential sites while that person was infection could be at risk of being exposed,” health officer Nichole Quick told KTLA.

So far in 2019, there have been 19 confirmed cases of measles among Los Angeles County residents, and another 11 cases among non-residents who traveled through the county, health officials said.

The majority of those cases were found among patients who were not immunized or did not know whether they had ever been immunized, according to the health department.

“For those who are not protected, measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that initially causes fever, cough, red, watery eyes, and, finally, a rash,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis  said. “Measles is spread by air and by direct contact even before you know have it. The MMR immunization is a very effective measure to protect yourself and to prevent the unintentional spread of this potentially serious infection to others.”

Public Health officials said they will provide an update with additional locations and time periods in which people could have been exposed to measles in connection with this patient.

This content was originally published here.

Smoke From Wildfires and Horse Respiratory Health – The Horse

Smoke is an unhealthy combination of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, soot, hydrocarbons, and other organic substances. Smoke particulates, which are a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air, can irritate horses’ eyes and respiratory tracts, and hamper their breathing.

“Owners should limit their horses’ activity when smoke is visible,” said UC Davis veterinary professor John Madigan, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, ACAW.

During California wildfires with persistent smoke several years ago, the Tevis Cup—a 100-mile endurance race—was postponed based on adverse air quality for exercising horses. This is an example of important management decisions that can protect horse health.

It is important to use human health air-quality advisories and apply them to horse events where horses will be exercising and breathing harmful smoke. If humans’ eyes burn and are bothered by smoke,  you can assume horses will be in the same boat. Providing horses with resting from exercise, limiting smoke exposure when possible, and monitoring for signs of increased respiratory rate or cough should be at the top of owners’ to-do lists when wildfires are near. And should a concern arise, always consult your veterinarian.

“It’s also important to provide horses with plenty of fresh water, which keeps airways moist and helps them clear inhaled particulates,” said Madigan.

If a horse is having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately to ensure the horse has not developed a reactive airway disease or bacterial infection accompanied by bronchitis or pneumonia. Horses can suffer from constriction of the airways, just as humans can.

In cases of heavy smoke exposure, it can take four to six weeks for smoke-induced damage to heal, during which time the horse should not be heavily exercised. Premature exercise could aggravate the condition, delaying healing and compromising the horse’s performance for weeks or months.

“If the horse has further smoke-related problems, such as persistent cough, nasal discharge, fever, or increased rate of breathing or labored breathing, the owner should contact a veterinarian, who may prescribe respiratory medications such as bronchial dilators or other treatments that will hydrate the horse’s airway passages and reduce inflammation,” Madigan said. “The veterinarian also may recommend tests to determine whether a secondary bacterial infection is contributing the horse’s respiratory problems.”

This content was originally published here.

Being a Loud Woman May Be Good for Your Health, According to a Study

Managing our emotions is often complicated. Sometimes it’s necessary to mitigate them, remain silent, and keep calm in moments of stress. We don’t want them to harm our personal relations. But on other occasions, what works best to maintain our relationships is to speak out and express ourselves. After all, letting out all that we’re feeling and thinking can help us see things from a different perspective. However, what you may not be aware of is that both behaviors can have significant effects on your health.

Bright Side wants to talk to you about a study that claims raising the volume of your voice is not always a bad idea.

Auto silence is a behavior people engage in when they’re afraid to express their real emotions. If properly externalized, they worry their feelings may affect their relationships with people close to them in some way, such as family members, friends, or employers. They choose auto silence because they dread having to start a disagreement, being the cause of an argument, or even breaking up a relationship.

More than 300 women participated in the study.

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) conducted a study where they evaluated 304 married women who were near or after menopause. They reported experiencing certain feelings about putting someone else’s needs before their own, such as self-silencing, to avoid damaging a relationship. This type of behavior was met with bouts of constipation, an increase in cholesterol levels, depression, and obesity.

More yelling, less stressing

One of the points that researchers measured was the frequency at which these women experienced anger or euphoria outbursts. They addressed these as moments when they were able to let their emotions out by raising the volume of their voice and verbally stating what made them feel frustrated. Those who showed this behavior more often registered as having better health than those who didn’t. They also experienced the psychological benefits of preventing the repression of these emotional states.

Hiding your emotions has physical consequences.

Maintaining a facade of joy and calm doesn’t mean that this state is real. It’s a behavior that’s related to a greater sensitivity to rejection. A permanent state of alert that triggers the levels of stress are closely associated with the decrease of life expectancy in both men and women worldwide. During these episodes, blood pressure and glucose levels rise, so the chance of developing a cardiovascular condition increases.

There’s a healthy way to express yourself.

Although raising our voices from time to time to let go of negative emotions can be liberating, we must also consider that it enables us to say things that don’t help our relationships. In another experiment carried out with cancer patients, women showed some improvements by openly expressing their emotions. On the contrary, progress slowed when negative feelings were prevalent. For this reason, it’s good to keep in mind that showing respect for you and those around you is essential to maintain a healthier body and relationships.

Do you communicate your feelings in some other ways? How would you change the way you express yourself to improve your relationships? Tell us what you think in the comments!

This content was originally published here.

Elijah Cummings has died: Baltimore congressman is dead at 68, from longstanding illness and health issues – CBS News

Representative Elijah Cummings, of Baltimore, died early Thursday at the age of 68, his office said. Cummings passed away at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 2:45 a.m. from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” his office said.

He hadn’t returned to work after having a medical procedure that he said would only keep him away for about a week, The Baltimore Sun noted.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and Cummings’ wife, said in a statement that Cummings was “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.”

“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem,” Rockeymoore Cummings said. “I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half staff in his memory. The White House, too, lowered its flag.

“He was not just a great congressman, he was a great man,” House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on MSNBC Thursday morning.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Young said in a statement that “people throughout the world have lost a powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice.”

President Trump praised Cummings’ “strength, passion and wisdom” in a tweet, despite the insults he hurled at Cummings this summer.

“My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!” the president tweeted shortly before 9 a.m.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, a Democrat and 23-year House veteran, was a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump and a recent target of intense criticism from the president.

Cummings missed two roll call votes Thursday, the first day back following a two-week House recess. He previously released a statement saying he’d be back by the time the session resumed. He hadn’t taken part in a roll call vote since Sept. 11.

The procedure already caused Cummings to miss a September hearing on Washington, D.C., statehood. The statement didn’t detail the procedure.

He previously was treated for heart and knee issues.

Humble beginnings

A sharecropper’s son, Cummings was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations of Mr. Trump’s dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to the president’s family members serving in the White House.

The president responded by criticizing Cummings’ district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Mr. Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now” and go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Cummings told the Baltimore Sun that he had only spoken to Mr. Trump one-on-one once, in 2017. Cummings recalled saying: “Mr. President, you’re now 70-something, I’m 60-something. Very soon you and I will be dancing with the angels. The thing that you and I need to do is figure out what we can do — what present can we bring to generations unborn?”

Working way up

Cummings’ career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who left the seat to lead the NAACP.

Cummings continued his rise in Congress. In 2016, he was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign” for president.

Cummings was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008.

Throughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents. He was a firm believer in some much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of AIDS. Cummings was very popular in his district, where he was a key member of the community.

Cummings said in an interview with “60 Minutes” in January that he was one of the few members of Congress who lived in an inner city environment.

“I like to be among my constituents. Let me tell you something man, if I don’t do well in this block I’m in trouble. I mean, if you wanna take a poll, if I lost in this block I might as well go– I might as well stay home,” Cummings said in the interview.

Cummings was born on Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly and he would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.

“I was devastated,” Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before he won his seat in Congress. “My whole life changed. I became very determined.”

It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become House speaker pro tem, the first black delegate to hold the position. He would begin his comments slowly, developing his theme and raising the emotional heat until it became like a sermon from the pulpit.

Cummings was quick to note the differences between Congress and the Maryland General Assembly, which has long been controlled by Democrats.

“After coming from the state where, basically, you had a lot of people working together, it’s clear that the lines are drawn here,” Cummings said about a month after entering office in Washington in 1996.

Cummings chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2003 to 2004, employing a hard-charging, explore-every-option style to put the group in the national spotlight.

He cruised to big victories in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which had given Maryland its first black congressman in 1970 when Parren Mitchell was elected.

Cummings addressed his recent health issues in the January interview with “60 Minutes.”

“Like I tell my constituents, “Don’t get it twisted. You know, I may– my knee may be hurtin’ a little bit, but my mind is clear. My mission is clear.” And I am prepared and able to do what I have to do. And I will do it to the very best of my ability, so help me God,” Cummings said.

This content was originally published here.

Avoiding red or processed meat doesn’t seem to give health benefits | New Scientist

Many health bodies have said in the past that people should limit their red meat intake

Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty

Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty

There are no health reasons to cut down on eating red or processed meat, according to a new review of the evidence. The claims, which contradict most existing dietary advice, come from a review of existing studies led by the Spanish and Polish Cochrane Centers, part of a global collaboration for assessing medical research.

Numerous health bodies have said for decades that we should limit our intake of red meat because it is high in saturated fat, thought to raise cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks. More recently, both red and processed meat have been linked with cancer.

In the latest review, though, the authors came to a different conclusion because they considered separately the two main kinds of research. The best evidence comes from randomised trials. In these, some participants are helped to change their diet in a certain way, such as eating less meat, and the rest aren’t. At the end, the health of the people in the two groups is compared.

But such trials are costly and hard to do. According to one estimate, only about 5 per cent of nutrition studies are large, good-quality randomised trials. It is much more common to do research that just observes what people choose to eat undirected. Known as observational studies, these are notoriously open to bias and can give misleading results.

Bradley Johnston of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and his colleagues first reviewed all previous observational studies looking at the health impact of eating red or processed meat. These pointed to a “very small” adverse effect on deaths, heart disease and cancer.

Then they separately reviewed the 12 randomised trials that have been done in this area, and found that there was little or no health benefit for people who cut down on eating these meats. Based on these findings, the authors conclude that people should “continue to eat their current levels of red and processed meat unless they felt inclined to change them themselves”. However, they added that some might want to change their diet because of animal welfare or environmental reasons.

“It may be time to stop producing observational research in this area,” Tiffany Doherty from Indiana University’s Pediatric and Adolescent Comparative Effectiveness Research team wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Duane Mellor, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says people shouldn’t take the advice as a green light to eat more red meat. “What it doesn’t say is that we can tear up the guidelines and start eating twice as much meat. But red meat three times a week is not a problem.”

Journal reference: Annals of Internal Medicine, DOI:

More on these topics:

This content was originally published here.

Americans Spent More on Taxes in 2018 Than on Food, Clothing and Health Care Combined

A grocery shopper in Los Angeles on July 24, 2019. (Photo by Mark RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2018 than they did on the basic necessities of food, clothing and health care combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

The survey’s recently published Table R-1 for 2018 lists the average “detailed expenditures” of what the BLS calls “consumer units.”

“Consumer units,” says BLS, “include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons living together who share major expenses.”

In 2018, according to Table R-1, American consumer units spent an average of $9,031.93 on federal income taxes; $5,023.73 on Social Security taxes (which the table calls “deductions”); $2,284.62 on state and local income taxes; $2,199.80 on property taxes; and $77.85 on what BLS calls “other taxes.”

The combined payments the average American consumer unit made for these five categories of taxes was $18,617.93.

At the same time the average American consumer unit was paying these taxes, it was spending $7,923.19 on food; $4,968.44 on health care; and $1,866.48 on “apparel and services.”

These combined expenditures equaled $14,758.11.

So, the $14,758.11 that the average American consumer unit paid for food, clothing and health care was $3,859.82 less than the $18,617.93 it paid in federal, state and local income taxes, property taxes, Social Security taxes and “other taxes.”

I asked the BLS to confirm these numbers, which it did while noting that the “Pensions and Social Security” section of its Table R-1 included four other types of payments (that many people are not required to make or that do not go to the government) in addition to the average of $5,023.73 in Social Security taxes that 77.21% of respondents reported paying.

“You asked us to verify the amounts for the total taxes and expenditures on food, apparel/services, and healthcare,” said BLS. “Based on table R-1 for 2018, your definition for food, apparel, and healthcare matches the BLS definition and the total dollars. Your dollar amounts for federal, state, and local income taxes and for property taxes are correct, as is the amount for Social Security deductions. For the combined pension amount [$6,830.71] that we publish however, in addition to the $5,023.73 for Social Security, there is an additional amount for government retirement deductions [$135.11], railroad retirement deductions [$2.85], private pension deductions [$608.22], and non-payroll deposits for pensions [$1,060.79].”

That Americans are forced to pay more for government than they pay for food, clothing and health care combined has become an enduring fact of life.

A review of the BLS Table R-1s for the last six years on record shows that in every one of those years, the average American consumer unit paid more in taxes than it paid for food, clothing and health care combined.

In 2013, the average American consumer unit paid a combined $13,327.22 for the same five categories of taxes cited above for 2018, while paying a combined $11,836.80 for food, clothing and health care.

In 2014, the average American consumer unit paid $14,664.13 for those same taxes and $12,834.34 for those same necessities.

In 2015, it was $15,548.36 versus $13,210.83. In 2016, it was $17,153.30 versus $13,617.60. And, in 2017, it was $16,750.20 versus $14,489.54.

Even when all the numbers for the last six years are converted into constant December 2018 dollars (using the BLS inflation calculator), the largest annual margin between the amount paid in taxes and the amount paid for food, clothing and health care was last year’s $3,859.82.

The margin was so great last year that you can add the $3,225.55 Table R-1 says the average consumer unit paid for entertainment to the $14,758.11 it paid for food, clothing and health care, and the combined $17,983.66 is still less than the $18,617.93 it paid for the five categories of taxes.

You get a similar result if you add the combined $2,903.50 that the average consumer unit paid in 2018 for electricity ($1,496.14) and telephone services ($1,407.36).

Yes, Americans on average paid more in taxes last year than they paid for food, clothing, health care, electricity and telephone services combined.

Was the government you got worth it?

(Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSNews.com.)

This content was originally published here.

Veterans Affairs To Share Veterans’ Health Information Without Consent

Thousands of veterans were alarmed to learn VA is quietly rolling out is plan to automatically share veterans’ health information with third parties without written consent.

You got that right. Thanks to the VA MISSION Act, VA will now automatically enroll, or opt-in, all veterans into a health information sharing system with numerous government agencies and private organizations after September 30, 2019, unless you object in writing on a paper form.

Veterans must submit the VA Form 10-0484 in person or by mail to their local VA Release of Information office by of September 30, 2019, if they do not want to be “automatically enrolled” into the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia Project.

Sound absurd? Here is what VA wrote in its Virtual Lifetime Electronic
Record (VLER) FAQ:

All Veterans who have not previously signed form 10-0484 as of September 30, 2019 will be automatically enrolled, but have the option to opt out.

Let me say that a third way in case I have not been clear.

VA will automatically share your health information with third parties without your written consent unless you opt-out in writing or submit a revocation in writing submitted in person or by US mail. You cannot submit your opt-out or revocation electronically.

How ironic, right?

In the name of technology, VA is about to force veterans into an electronic data sharing system without consent. The only way to prevent this violation is to present your objection on an agency mandated form ON PAPER by hand or snail mail by Monday. How old school.

And we are just learning about the deadline now.

In order to opt-out or revoke consent, there are a couple of forms you need to consider, noted above… but you only have until Monday to figure it out.

Curiously, the VA Form 10-10164 opt-out that is not technically an official form until October 2019 based on the available form.

One could argue that submitting the 10-10164 before September 30 may still result in a veteran’s automatic opt-in and then opt-out since the form may lack legal effect until October 2019.

So, the forms you can use to opt-out or revoke consent:

How do you get the form to VA? Can I send it on eBenefits or
fax it to Janesville Evidence Intake Center?

No. The agency requires that you either hand deliver the
signed form or mail it to the local Release of Information office at your VA Medical
Center by Monday.

No revocations will be processed after September 30, 2019. I
hope VA will not auto-opt-in veterans who submit the new form before the
deadline.

Either way, if you fail to take action by September 30, your
health information will be shared with the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia
Project.

Good luck.

Once health information is shared, it cannot be unshared as
best I can tell from the information available including the old form.

This means meaning you lose control of your data. While you can possibly opt-out at a later date, whatever is shared is out there in the great and mysterious cloud for whatever hacker to access however and whenever they choose.

Who may get access?

The eHealth Exchange is a massive data-sharing system between federal agencies and private organizations in all 50 states that was originally controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services.

A nonprofit called The Sequoia Project took over management of the eHealth Exchange for “maintenance.” Many VA contractors and vendors are on the Board of Sequoia including Cerner and Mitre Corporation.

VA reassures us everything is safe. Right. Kind of like all
the times our data was illegally shared or hacked within the existing system?

“Rest assured. Your health information is safe and secure as it moves from VA to participating community care providers,” promises VA.

Believe them? We don’t, either.

We Drove To Minneapolis VA To Investigate

On Thursday, colleague Brian Lewis and I went to Minneapolis VA Medical Center immediately after reviewing what I describe below to confront agency officials about the highly questionable timing of the notice.

The Facebook Live video contains our initial impressions, which later evolved after we spoke with local officials and conducted an additional deep dive. Veterans who do not revoke consent/opt-out by September 30 will be enrolled automatically per the VLER FAQ.

We learned some inside baseball by asking around about it
and inspecting the facility. But, many of the VA officials we spoke with were
generally unaware of what VA Central Office was rolling out.

Our local Release of Information booth at Minneapolis VA did not have any of the forms available for veterans seeking to opt-out or revoke their previous consent. The attendant seemed to think her boss might bring some forms up sometime Friday or Monday since a few veterans were asking about it.

Fantastic.

Btw, you may have noticed my reference to “booth” about our ROI. In order to speak with someone at ROI, Minneapolis VA leadership decided to move the ROI intake to the open lobby area where anyone and everyone can hear about what you are asking about regarding your private health information.

So much for privacy when trying to get your private health
records.

For newbies reading this, Brian and I are veterans rights attorneys in the Minneapolis Metro who are well-known, but not well-loved, by VA officials locally and nationally.

I will explain the forms in a bit.

Back In The Day When Consent Was In Writing… And It Mattered

For years, VA was required secure informed consent from veterans prior to the sharing of health information. Whether you were a veteran trying to get care in the community or allow your attorney access to a claims file, you were required to provide VA with a release of information granting consent to share the date.

If you wanted to give VA your genomic information so they
could share it with private researching organizations for God knows whatever
reason, specifically the Million Veteran Program, you had to sign a form
granting permission.

If you wanted to opt in to allow your community care provider to use the health exchange to access your electronic health records, you need to sign the VA Form 10-0485. If you wanted to revoke that access, you needed to sign and submit the VA Form 10-0484.

There’s Gold In Those Records, Boys And Girls

To me, and millions of other veterans, this process seems
straightforward, but VA officials, university researchers, and private industry
really wanted more access to more veteran data since our electronic health records
comprise one of the most valuable datasets in the history of the world to date.

Yes, there is an incredible monetary value within the database containing all of our electronic health information, and private industry would profit handsomely from various marketing, advertising, and health solutions that could be developed by simply accessing our records.

Now, that access to our records comes at a cost. For at
least the past eight years, standard HIPAA requirements to de-identify records
no longer provide the security previously believed. Companies like Facebook
readily work to hack HIPAA protections using algorithms to connect HIPAA de-identified
data with a person’s Facebook profile using various markers including data like
that given by veterans to the Million Veteran Program, for example.

That data can then provide the backbone of entirely new research and advertising arm of companies like Facebook and Google to connect pharmaceutical ads with individuals who may be interested in the newest and greatest pill for anxiety or erectile dysfunction.

VA Throws Off The Heavy Yoke Of Privacy

Fortunately for business partners, researchers, and anyone
else who wants to access our data but not be troubled with difficult privacy
laws, VA will no longer have its research potential hamstrung by sentimental
laws like the Privacy Act or HIPAA.

Veterans can thank Congress and its passage of the VA MISSION
Act for allowing automatic access to all veterans’ health information by third
party community care providers and “partners.”

One of my readers alerted me to a change in protocol yesterday
starting with a PDF flyer circulating at VA.

That flyer, called the Veteran Notification Flyer, informs veterans of the five things we “need to know” about the VA’s new implementation of the health information mandate. I included this below in italics verbatim from the agency’s flyer.

You may be thinking, ‘Well, at least VA thought to give you
notice.’

Not exactly. I have not received any notice yet. However,
many veterans are writing in starting yesterday with notice letters that VA was
transitioning veterans into a new and brave system of data sharing.

The flyer was created September 11, 2019, informing veterans that in 20 days the process was flipping on its head where we need to opt-out after automatically being opted-in.

5 Things You Need To Know About Health Information
Sharing

If you are a little unclear about how to be sure no one
receives the health information, you are in good company. A lot of readers and
agency officials were unclear of exactly what is going on, and multiple dates
are floating around within VA’s own notices.

One page reads, “VA will begin opting all Veterans into
health information sharing, beginning January 2010.” Another page
reads, “VA Systems will begin opting all Veterans into health information
sharing, beginning January 2020.”

So, when did or will VA start the sharing of our health information
without consent?

An intranet notice to VA employees indicated the actual
process of sharing will start on or about November 18, 2019.

The VLER FAQ sheet probably provides the best advice
specific to veterans who do not want their data shared in the electronic system:

All Veterans who have not previously signed form 10-0484 as of September 30, 2019 will be automatically enrolled, but have the option to opt out. Beginning late 2019, a VA patient’s information will be shared with any community providers that also provide health care services for the shared patient.

“Revocation forms will not be processed after September 30,
2019. However, if you submit VA Form 10-0484, before September 30, your
preference will remain honored and no further action is needed by you.”

This language suggests the form must be submitted before
September 30, because the agency will stop processing them after September 30.

But how to do you revoke the consent that you never granted?

What is also important is the language difference between
the two forms.

Old VA Form 10-0484 vs New VA Form 10-10164

Let’s start with the new form, VA Form 10-10164. Basically,
the form says the agency cannot share your health information unless treatment
is required for an emergency:

So, the opt-out is not absolute. The form also indicates the
opt-in means all your health information can be shared for treatment.

What about your mental health records? How will VA protect
that data? Could that data also be shared with DHS or other organizations for
their own purposes?

The VA Form 10-0484 handles the issues differently.

First, it addresses that the signer revokes their previous
consent. Obviously, most of us never consented to this program. So, by signing
this 0484, can you preemptively revoke?

That is a question for your local Release of Information
Official.

The old form provides the following list about revocation
that I think is far clearer about what is at stake. Here is the list from VA in
italics:

One of the differences that jumped out at me in the old form was the promise that VA “will no longer share any of my individually-identifiable health information”. It did not qualify that revocation by stating the information will be shared in an emergency.

However, the revocation qualifies the health information by calling it “individually-identifiable health information” demonstrating the agency will share your information so long is it is de-identified. As noted above, merely adhering to HIPAA is no longer sufficient to protect your identity or other information that can be traced right back to you with today’s computing power.

What About Health Information Already Shared

The old 10-0484 says the information “already exchanged”
will continue to the used despite revocation meaning once the information is
out there, it is out there.

The health information being passed between VA and its
community care providers is supposedly shared in “guidance” with the Health
Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

Do we have enough information to make informed decisions?
Does VA seem to give a rip about our informed consent?

I plan to update this post as more information comes out. You may want to check back from time to time.

Stay informed on VA news, scandals and benefits. Get our daily newsletter via email.

This content was originally published here.

Jarrid Wilson, Pastor and Mental Health Advocate, Dies by Suicide at Age 30

Harvest Christian Fellowship pastor Jarrid Wilson died by suicide on Monday evening (September 9) at age thirty.

The devout husband and father of two was known for his passionate preaching, servant’s heart, and mental health advocacy. In fact, Wilson is the founder of Anthem of Hope, a faith-based organization ‘dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.’

The tragic news of Wilson’s untimely death comes on Suicide Awareness Day (September 10).

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In alignment with his passion to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health, Wilson was often open about his own battles with depression on his social media accounts.

Wilson even posted about officiating a funeral for a woman who took her own life on the day that he took his own.

Later that afternoon, the pastor wrote some hard truth regarding the reality of mental health battles, citing that while Jesus isn’t always “the cure,” he IS always the “comforter” and “companion.”

“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts,” wrote Wilson. “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.”

Jarrid’s wife Juli posted a heartbreaking tribute to her late husband today, honoring his hard-fought battle and the great man of God that he was in spite of his struggles:

“My loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious, give the shirt of his back husband went to be with Jesus late last night .

No more pain, my jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free. Suicide and depression fed you the worst lies, but you knew the truth of Jesus and I know you’re by his side right this very second.

I love you forever, Thomas Jarrid Wilson, but I have to say that you being gone has completely ripped my heart out of my chest. You loved me and our boys relentlessly and we are forever grateful that i had YOU as a husband and a father to my boys.”

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A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

“You are my forever and I will continue to let other people know of the hope in Jesus you found and spoke so boldly about.

Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said ‘Hope Gets the last word. Jesus does.’ Your life’s work has lead thousands to the feet of Jesus and your boldness to tell other about your struggle with anxiety and depression has helped so many other people feel like they weren’t alone. YOU WERE an anthem of hope to everyone, baby, and I’ll do my best to continue your legacy of love until my last breath.

I need you, jare. But you needed Jesus to hold you and I have to be okay with that. You are everything to me. Since the day we met. J & J. Love you more.
These are photos of him in his happy place – fishing the day away . I’ll teach our boys all your tricks, babe. Promise. You are my #anthemofhope

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The church family Wilson left behind is just as devastated by the loss of their passionate leader who was on fire for Jesus.

“At a time like this, there are just no words,” Harvest Administrative Pastor Paul Eaton said in a statement.

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“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Eaton added. “At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day.”

Please join us in praying for the Wilsons and the Harvest Christian Fellowship church family during this devastating time.

If you’d like to support others struggling with suicidal thoughts, consider donating to Anthem of Hope today.

This content was originally published here.

Pastor, author and mental health advocate Jarrid Wilson dies by suicide – Religion News Service

(RNS) — Jarrid Wilson, a California church leader, author and mental health advocate, died by suicide Monday evening (Sept. 9) at age 30.

Wilson, known as a passionate preacher, most recently was an associate pastor at megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. A co-founder of the mental health nonprofit Anthem of Hope, Wilson was open about his own depression, often posting on his social media accounts about his battles with the mental illness.

“At a time like this, there are just no words,” said Harvest Senior Pastor Greg Laurie in a statement.

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Laurie said.

“At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day,” he added.

His wife, Julianne Wilson, posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”

“No more pain, my jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free,” she wrote in the caption.

“Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said “Hope Gets the last word. Jesus does,” she added.

A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

News of Wilson’s passing followed a series of tweets the young pastor posted throughout the day Monday that dealt with suicide, including a post encouraging followers to remember that even though loving Jesus doesn’t cure illnesses such as depression, PTSD or anxiety, Jesus does offer companionship and comfort.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety.

But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.

He ALWAYS does that.

Wilson also posted on the same day that he was officiating a funeral for a woman who had died by suicide. Kay Warren — who along with her husband, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, lost their son to suicide in 2013 — responded to Wilson’s tweet with encouragement. “Praying, Jarrid. Her devastated family needs so much tenderness and compassion right now. Grateful for your willingness to be the arms of Jesus to them,” Warren wrote.

Officiating a funeral for a Jesus-loving woman who took her own life today.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated for the family.

— Jarrid Wilson (@JarridWilson) September 9, 2019

The news of Wilson’s death comes on Suicide Awareness Day (Sept. 10) and follows a number of high profile suicides among pastors and the mental health community, including by 30-year-old Andrew Stoecklein, a pastor in Chino, California, who often preached about mental illness.

Wilson shared openly about his own mental health challenges in his most recent book, “Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World,” and blog posts. He blogged earlier this summer that he had dealt with “severe depression throughout most of my life and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions.”

On social media, he regularly encouraged others dealing with similar challenges with messages like, “I’m a Christian who also struggles with depression. This exists, and it’s okay to admit it.”

Jarrid Wilson. Courtesy photo

Breaking down the stigma of mental illness is one of the goals of Anthem of Hope, the nonprofit the pastor founded with his wife, Juli, in 2016. Anthem of Hope creates resources for the church to assist those dealing with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide. 

Laurie said Wilson wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.

“Tragically, Jarrid took his own life,” Laurie said.

“Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most,” Laurie added.

In his summer blog post, Wilson challenged the idea some Christians have that those who die by suicide are condemned to hell.

Christians wouldn’t tell someone with a physical illness like cancer they are going to hell because of their diagnosis, he noted. Neither should they assume it of people with mental illnesses, which can “lead many people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do if they didn’t struggle.”

“Those who say suicide automatically leads to hell obviously don’t understand the totality of mental health issues in today’s world, let alone understand the basic theology behind compassion and God’s all-consuming grace,” he said.

“We must do better at educating people on things they have a hard time wrapping their heads around. And mental health is definitely (a) topic Christians around the world must yearn to better understand.”

Justin Herman said he knew Wilson from working as a pastor in Riverside. They would cross paths and talk about mental health and abortion.

“I know the guy loved Jesus and I know that he loved what he was doing, loved his family,” Herman said.

To Herman, Wilson was “not just going with the program of life.”

“He was counter to culture and shaped culture in a lot of ways,” Herman said.

In addition to his wife, Wilson is survived by two sons, Finch and Denham; and his mother, father and siblings.

Friends of the family have started a GoFundMe account, with permission of Wilson’s wife, to help with financial support in the wake of Wilson’s death.

Last night, my good friend @jarridwilson passed away. As the primary income earner of their home, his precious wife @juliwilson and their two young kids will need a lot of financial support. Please consider donating to this @gofundme to support them: https://t.co/NxFnuf6KVT

— Jonathan Merritt (@JonathanMerritt) September 10, 2019

(This story has been updated. The source of the statement from Harvest Christian Fellowship, attributed in an earlier version to Administrative Pastor Paul Eaton, was changed at the request of the church to Senior Pastor Greg Laurie.)

This content was originally published here.

Jarrid Wilson, Pastor, Author and Mental Health Advocate, Dies by Suicide This Week

Jarrid Wilson, pastor and author of Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World, died by suicide on Monday September 9, 2019. The news of his death came the next day on World Suicide Prevention Day 2019. 

Jarrid, a passionate child of God and church pastor, worked so hard to help others find their way out of hopelessness, depression, and suicidal thoughts…but on this day, he died by suicide. He was a 30-year-old husband and father.

Jarrid Wilson Fought to De-Stigmatize Mental Illness in the Church

Previously, Wilson wrote about the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade that “my heart breaks for the families of Anthony and Kate, and I’m praying God will cover them with nothing but peace and comfort.”

So many people commented on Bourdain and Spade’s deaths that their eternal destiny was at stake that Wilson put pen to paper. He wrote…

I’m writing this post because I want people to understand that these statements couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, they’re ill-thought and without proper biblical understanding…Those who say suicide automatically leads to hell obviously don’t understand the totality of mental health issues in today’s world, let alone understand the basic theology behind compassion and God’s all-consuming grace.” 

Wilson openly admitted that he struggled with severe depression and suicidal thoughts: 

As terrible as it sounds, mental health issues can lead many people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do if they didn’t struggle. If you don’t believe me, I’d encourage you to get to know someone with PTSD, Alzheimer’s or OCD so that you can better understand where I’m coming from. As someone who’s struggled with severe depression throughout most of my life, and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions, I can assure you that what I’m saying is true.”

Jarrid Wilson’s Last Day Was Focused on Helping Others

On the day that Jarrid Wilson died by suicide, he tweeted what seemed to be messages of hope for those who struggle with mental health issues.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety.

But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.

He ALWAYS does that.

On the day of his death, Wilson officiated a funeral for a woman who died by suicide. Jarrid was an associate pastor at megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California.

Officiating a funeral for a Jesus-loving woman who took her own life today.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated for the family.

— Jarrid Wilson (@JarridWilson) September 9, 2019

In the middle of his own struggles and his work to help others with de-stigmatizing mental illness in the church, he challenged the church to develop a deeper theology around these issues.

“Stop telling people that suicide leads to hell. It’s bad theology and proof one doesn’t understand the basic psychology surrounding mental health issues. In closing, we must understand God hates suicide just as much as the next person. Why? Because it defies God’s yearning for the sanctity of life. But while suicide is not something God approves of, no mess is too messy for the grace of Jesus. This includes suicide.”

Jarrid and his wife, Juli, were the founders of faith-centered Anthem of Hope because of their “passion to help equip the church with the resources needed to help better assist those struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.”

Before news of his tragic passing spread, Juli Wilson posted this on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

In “Why Suicide Doesn’t Always Lead to Hell,” one of the last articles we published from Jarrid Wilson, he wrote:

“Does God approve of suicide? Nope!

Does God view suicide as a bad thing? Yup!

Is God’s grace sufficient even for those who have committed suicide? Yup!”

We at ChurchLeaders.com are grateful for Jarrid Wilson’s generosity to share his writing with our readers and for his determination to battle the demons of mental illness. Our prayers are with his family and friends as they grieve the loss of one who fought so well.

If you’d like to support others struggling with suicidal thoughts, consider donating to Anthem of Hope today.

This content was originally published here.

Michigan Governor’s Reckless E-Cigarette Ban Relies on a Breathtakingly Broad Reading of Her Authority To Protect ‘Public Health’

Today Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, announced that she is unilaterally imposing a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, based on the public health “emergency” allegedly posed by the “vaping crisis among youth.” Whitmer’s order, which will make Michigan the first state to impose such a ban, raises two obvious questions: Can she do that, and does it make sense? The answers are maybe and definitely not.

“We are not contesting the governor’s authority,” Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R–Clarklake) told The Detroit News. At the same time, McCann called the ban, which takes effect as soon as the rules are formally issued and lasts up to a year, “very premature,” noting that “no discussion on that topic has taken place.”

State Rep. Matt Maddock (R–Milford), chairman of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, described the ban, which applies to online as well as in-person sales, as an “Orwellian” edict aimed at “dismantling a legal industry.” He added that Whitmer is “essentially usurping the rulemaking process defined by the state Constitution,” since “there is no state emergency,” and “the governor can’t just outlaw bad habits just because she doesn’t like them.”

Benjamin Wetmore, Maddock’s legislative aide, tells me his boss has not seen the text of Whitmer’s order and is as puzzled as anyone else about the legal basis for it. “He has not seen the authority for the governor’s proposed order either,” Wetmore says.

When she announced her order on Twitter and Facebook, Whitmer did not say what statute gives her the authority to ban flavored e-cigarettes. “My number one priority is keeping our kids safe,” she said. “Right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe. That ends today.”

Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, says the governor’s order “has not been finalized yet,” but she referred me to Section 333.2226(d) of the Michigan Public Health Code, which says the department may “exercise authority and promulgate rules to safeguard properly the public health.” The code does not define “public health,” and it says, “This code shall be liberally construed for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the people of this state.” Last Friday, the department made a “finding of emergency” that says “a vaping crisis among youth” justifies “the promulgation of emergency rules.”

That finding does not cite any specific statutory authority for such “emergency rules.” But according to Chelsea Lewis, the governor’s deputy press secretary, the health department is relying on its general authority under Section 333.2226(d), combined with Section 24.248 of the Administrative Procedures Act, which says an agency may issue an emergency rule “without following the notice and participation procedures” that would otherwise apply when it “finds that preservation of the public health, safety, or welfare” requires it and the governor agrees.

In short, Whitmer’s e-cigarette ban rests on a breathtakingly broad reading of her authority to make emergency rules in the name of “public health,” however she defines it. “The rules will be filed in the next few weeks,” Lewis says. “They will take immediate effect once filed.”

Last year the New York Department of Health, whose powers include writing regulations that “deal with any matters affecting the security of life or health or the preservation and improvement of public health in the state of New York,” rescinded regulations that would have banned flavored e-cigarettes. Critics, who noted that similar bans have been introduced in the state legislature but have not gone anywhere, said the regulations were an improper usurpation of legislative authority.

The emergency that supposedly requires Whitmer’s ban is the recent surge in e-cigarette use by teenagers. Yet selling e-cigarettes to minors is already illegal in Michigan, and Whitmer, notwithstanding her avowed interest in protecting “public health,” is giving no weight to the interests of adult smokers who have switched to vaping, a much less hazardous source of nicotine, or are thinking about doing so. The e-cigarette flavors that she thinks are enticing “children” are indisputably popular among adults, many of whom say flavor variety is important in the process of replacing cigarettes with a far less dangerous alternative that delivers nicotine without tobacco combustion products.

“This shameless attempt at backdoor prohibition will close down several hundred Michigan small businesses and could send tens of thousands of ex-smokers back to deadly combustible cigarettes,” says Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes e-cigarettes as a harm-reducing alternative to the conventional kind. “These businesses and their customers will not go down without a fight. We look forward to supporting the lawsuits that now appear necessary to protect the right of adults to access these harm reduction products.”

This content was originally published here.

Suggested move to plant-based diets risks worsening brain health nutrient deficiency: And UK failing to recommend or monitor dietary levels of choline, warns nutritionist — ScienceDaily

To make matters worse, the UK government has failed to recommend or monitor dietary levels of this nutrient — choline — found predominantly in animal foods, says Dr Emma Derbyshire, of Nutritional Insight, a consultancy specialising in nutrition and biomedical science.

Choline is an essential dietary nutrient, but the amount produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body.

Choline is critical to brain health, particularly during fetal development. It also influences liver function, with shortfalls linked to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage, writes Dr Derbyshire.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

In 1998, recognising the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively, because of the critical role the nutrient has in fetal development.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. Yet national dietary surveys in North America, Australia, and Europe show that habitual choline intake, on average, falls short of these recommendations.

“This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets,” says Dr Derbyshire.

She commends the first report (EAT-Lancet) to compile a healthy food plan based on promoting environmental sustainability, but suggests that the restricted intakes of whole milk, eggs and animal protein it recommends could affect choline intake.

And she is at a loss to understand why choline does not feature in UK dietary guidance or national population monitoring data.

“Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorisation of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK,” she writes. “Choline is presently excluded from UK food composition databases, major dietary surveys, and dietary guidelines,” she adds.

It may be time for the UK government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to reverse this, she suggests, particularly given the mounting evidence on the importance of choline to human health and growing concerns about the sustainability of the planet’s food production.

“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this,” she writes.

“If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle, such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development,” she concludes.

This content was originally published here.

Your heart’s best friend: Dog ownership associated with better cardiovascular health

pets
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Owning a pet may help maintain a healthy heart, especially if that pet is a dog, according to the first analysis of data from the Kardiozive Brno 2030 study. The study examines the association of pet ownership—specifically dog ownership—with cardiovascular disease risk factors and cardiovascular health. The results are published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes.

The study first established baseline health and socio-economic information on more than 2,000 subjects in the city of Brno, Czech Republic, from January 2013 through Dec. 2014. Follow-up evaluations are scheduled for five-year intervals until 2030.

In the 2019 evaluation, the study looked at 1,769 subjects with no history of heart disease and scored them based on Life’s Simple 7 ideal health behaviors and factors, as outlined by the American Heart Association: body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking status, , blood glucose and total cholesterol.

The study compared the scores of pet owners overall to those who did not own pets. Then it compared dog owners to other pet owners and those who did not own pets.

“In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level,” says Andrea Maugeri, Ph.D., a researcher with the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno and the University of Catania in Catania, Italy. “The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.”

The study demonstrates an association between and heart health, which is in line with the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on the benefits of owning a dog in terms of , engagement and reduction of cardiovascular disease risk.

Dr. Maugeri says that the study findings support the idea that people could adopt, rescue or purchase a pet as a potential strategy to improve their cardiovascular health as long as pet ownership led them to a more physically active lifestyle.

Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., chair of the Division of Preventive Cardiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, says that having a dog may prompt owners to go out, move around and play with their dog regularly. Owning a dog also has been linked to better mental health in other studies and less perception of social isolation—both risk factors for heart attacks. Dr. Lopez-Jimenez is a senior investigator of this study.

More information:
Andrea Maugeri et al. Dog Ownership and Cardiovascular Health: Results From the Kardiovize 2030 Project, Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2019.07.007

Provided by
Mayo Clinic


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Vegan and Plant-Based Diets Worsen Brain Health

Summary: Eating a vegan or plant-based diet can be bad for your brain health, especially if you already have a low choline intake, researchers report.

Source: BMJ

The momentum behind a move to plant-based and vegan diets for the good of the planet is commendable, but risks worsening an already low intake of an essential nutrient involved in brain health, warns a nutritionist in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

To make matters worse, the UK government has failed to recommend or monitor dietary levels of this nutrient — choline — found predominantly in animal foods, says Dr. Emma Derbyshire, of Nutritional Insight, a consultancy specializing in nutrition and biomedical science.

Choline is an essential dietary nutrient, but the amount produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body.

Choline is critical to brain health, particularly during fetal development. It also influences liver function, with shortfalls linked to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage, writes Dr Derbyshire.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

In 1998, recognizing the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively, because of the critical role the nutrient has in fetal development.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. Yet national dietary surveys in North America, Australia, and Europe show that habitual choline intake, on average, falls short of these recommendations.

“This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets,” says Dr. Derbyshire.

She commends the first report (EAT-Lancet) to compile a healthy food plan based on promoting environmental sustainability but suggests that the restricted intakes of whole milk, eggs and animal protein it recommends could affect choline intake.

And she is at a loss to understand why choline does not feature in UK dietary guidance or national population monitoring data.

“Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorization of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK,” she writes. “Choline is presently excluded from UK food composition databases, major dietary surveys, and dietary guidelines,” she adds.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. The image is in the public domain.

It may be time for the UK government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to reverse this, she suggests, particularly given the mounting evidence on the importance of choline to human health and growing concerns about the sustainability of the planet’s food production.

“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this,” she writes.

“If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle, such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development,” she concludes.

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
BMJ
Media Contacts:
Press Office – BMJ
Image Source:
The image is in the public domain.

Could we be overlooking a potential choline crisis in the United Kingdom?

Choline can be likened to omega-3 fatty acids in that it is an ‘essential’ nutrient that cannot be produced by the body in amounts needed for human requirements. The United States (US) Institute of Medicine (IOM)1 and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)2 recognise that choline plays an important role in the human body and have established dietary reference values. The American Medical Association3 in 2017 published new advice stating that prenatal vitamin supplements should contain “evidenced-based” amounts of choline. Similarly the American Academy of Paediatrics4 5 (from 2018) called on paediatricians to move beyond simply recommending a “good diet” and to make sure that pregnant women and young children have access to food that provides adequate amounts of “brain-building” nutrients with choline being listed as one of these. Unfortunately, in the UK choline is not yet included in food composition databases, main nutrition surveys nor official recommendations. The present article discusses the current choline situation and explains why more needs to be done to include and monitor this essential nutrient in the UK.

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New Jersey appeals court overturns injunction on assisted suicide law – Health & Wellness – News – Catholic Online

A New Jersey appeals court ruled Tuesday that the state’s law permitting assisted suicide may take effect while a legal challenge against it is heard in court.

By
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

8/30/2019 (1 day ago)

Trenton, N.J., (CNA) – A New Jersey appeals court ruled Tuesday that the state’s law permitting assisted suicide may take effect while a legal challenge against it is heard in court.

The ruling reversed a previous decision from a lower court that had halted the law.

The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act is being challenged by a physician who says that it is a violation of religious freedom protections in the U.S. Constitution and laws against suicide.

Dr. Yosef Glassman is an Orthodox Jew who says that he is opposed to facilitating suicide both due to his religious beliefs and his profession as a doctor. He also objects to the law’s stipulation that a doctor who objects to assisted suicide must refer patients to another doctor who will help them end their life.

The law’s demands on doctors, Glassman said in his lawsuit, present “not only a violation of the rights to practice medicine without breaching the fiduciary duties owing to those patients … but also violations of their First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution to freely practice their religions in which human life is sacred and must not be taken,” the AP reported.

However, the appeals court said Glassman had not shown that irreparable harm would result from allowing the law to move forward during the court challenge.

“We conclude the court failed to consider adequately the interests of qualified terminally-ill patients, who the Legislature determined have clearly prescribed rights to end their lives consistent with the Act,” the appeals court said, according to the AP.

The assisted suicide law passed the New Jersey legislature narrowly in late March. The law allows those deemed by a doctor to have less than six months to live to request lethal medication to end their lives. The patient then must administer the medication themselves.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill into law April 12.

A self-described “lifelong, practicing Catholic,” Murphy said that he was aware of the Church’s opposition to assisted suicide, but that after careful consideration and prayer, “I have concluded that, while my faith may lead me to a particular decision for myself, as a public official I cannot deny this alternative to those who may reach a different conclusion.”

“I believe this choice is a personal one and, therefore, signing this legislation is the decision that best respects the freedom and humanity of all New Jersey residents,” Murphy said.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen condemned assisted suicide as “a grievous affront to the dignity of human life” that “can never be morally justified” in a letter to his diocese on July 30.

“Passage of this law points to the utter failure of government, and indeed all society, to care truly, authentically and humanely for the suffering and vulnerable in our midst, especially those living with an incurable disease as well as the frail elderly, the infirm and those living with disabilities,” he said.

He stressed that despite the new legality of the practice, it remains gravely immoral, and said the Church would continue advocating for the sanctity of all human life and working to educate lawmakers and the general public about the dangers of assisted suicide.

“With this law there will be a further desensitization of the value of human life,” said the bishop, adding that the elderly, sick and disabled could feel pressure to choose suicide so as to avoid burdening others.

He also clarified that Saint Peter’s University Hospital, sponsored by the Diocese of Metuchen, will not condone or participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Instead of assisted suicide, Checchio called for a renewed commitment caring for those living in pain and suffering while dying and who might otherwise consider suicide.

“Let us strive to help the sick and incapacitated find meaning in their lives, even and especially in the midst of their suffering,” he said. “Let us, as a society and as individuals choose to walk with them, in their suffering, not contribute to eliminating the gift of life.”

Assisted suicide is legal in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as in Montana under a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling.

This content was originally published here.

Opinion | Democrats Are Having the Wrong Health Care Debate – The New York Times

Four policies can effectively tackle the affordability issue. First, we need to address drug prices. The United States has just over 4 percent of the world’s population, and yet it accounts for nearly half of global drug spending. On average, the United States spends $1,443 per person a year on drugs. This cannot be explained by utilization; the difference is the drug prices we pay.

Switzerland, home to two of the largest drug companies in the world, negotiates drug prices. It has the second-highest per capita drug spending, at about $940 annually. That $500 per person difference between the United States and Switzerland translates to $160 billion per year in potential savings. Even just a third of those savings, $53 billion, would represent a 10 percent reduction in drug prices.

Despite a lot of talk about cutting drug prices, the Trump administration has taken no substantive action. Democrats need to endorse national, not just Medicare, drug price negotiations that use a value-based pricing framework — linking drug prices to their health benefits in reducing mortality and morbidity — international comparisons and affordability for the average citizen. If the negotiations are not successful, then the government should unilaterally set maximum drug prices.

Second, hospital prices are soaring and must be contained. Medicare and Medicaid set their own hospital prices, which have risen modestly in recent years. But hospital prices for the roughly 160 million Americans with private insurance have shot up as much as drug prices. In 1996, hospitals charged private insurance companies about 6 percent more than Medicare. In 2012, they charged 75 percent more than Medicare. A recent RAND study indicates that, on average, hospitals now charge private insurance companies 141 percent more than Medicare.

The main culprit behind this price escalation appears to be the mergers of hospital systems, which creates local monopolies. Researchers at Yale calculate that capping prices for inpatient care for private insurers at 120 percent of Medicare would save about 20 percent of those costs, approximately $90 billion per year. That cap may be too aggressive, but a cap of 140 percent would save more than $30 billion.

Next, we need a policy that targets wasteful insurance billing practices. In 2010, the National Academy of Medicine estimated that about 14 percent of health care spending was related to billing and insurance-related administrative activities. Updating those numbers for today, the Center for American Progress estimates that we spend nearly $500 billion a year on billing and insurance processing. Based on comparisons with other countries, about half of that is classified as “excess” — a polite way of saying waste.

The simplest approach is to empower an independent commission to create a clearinghouse for processing all medical bills with uniform standardized electronic formats for all insurers. Both Germany and Japan — countries with hundreds and thousands of insurance companies — have such centralized bill processing systems, generating low billing costs. Health economists suggest this could yield savings that are more than 3 percent of expenditures, about $90 billion per year.

The fourth option is to push even harder on switching from fee-for-service payment to value-based alternatives. As it stands, when physicians avoid an unnecessary test or deliver the same outcomes for less money, they suffer financially. Capitation, bundles and global budgets make doctors and hospitals responsible for both the total cost of caring for patients and the quality of their outcomes. Ultimately, it is doctors who write orders and decide on a patients’ suite of tests and treatments.

These four simple policies can easily save more than $100 billion and, if pushed aggressively, maybe close to $200 billion per year. Americans and American businesses are crying out for affordable health care. That, along with auto-enrollment, should be what Democrats fight for in 2020.

This content was originally published here.

Robert Mugabe in Singapore hospital as health worsens [photos]

Former president — and to his cadres in the Zanu-PF, the Founding Father — of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, is currently in a Singapore hospital getting the best medical assistance available.

That was the word from the country’s current head of state, Edward Mnangagwa, who, in a statement, assured fellow Zimbabweans that his predecessor, and former ally, was recovering well.

Why is Robert Mugabe in hospital?

According to a statement released by Mnangagwa, Mugabe has often been travelling between Zimbabwe and Singapore on a month-to-month basis for regular health check-ups.

The 95-year-old was remanded in the custody of healthcare professionals in Singapore in April after it was determined that he was not fit enough to be discharged.

“From the report the team gave me at the weekend, I am greatly pleased to inform the nation that the former President continues to make steady progress towards eventual recovery and that his condition is remarkably stable for his age,” Mnangagwa reported.

The president further confirmed that based on the report forwarded by his special envoy that includes Mugabe’s personal physician, the former president is responding well to treatment and that he could be “released fairly soon.”

HE President @edmnangagwa updates the nation on the condition of former president of Zimbabwe Cde RG Mugabe pic.twitter.com/BxCbhS45be

— Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting (@InfoMinZW) August 5, 2019

Prayers and well wishes pour in for Mugabe

Many supporters of Mugabe, including the EFF, have sent well wishes to Mugabe, praying that he recovers well and returns home as soon as possible.

Get well soon President Mugabe. The EFF wishes you a speedy recovery 🙏🏾 our prayers are with you. pic.twitter.com/B7jFKkVbsC

— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) August 5, 2019

We wish the former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe speed recovery on his health

— African Child (@African94982233) August 6, 2019

Speedy recovery Moetapele 🙏. #RobertMugabe https://t.co/W4A63ccTYj

— 《 I Have A Story To Tell 》🇱🇸 (@PolokoMokhele) August 6, 2019

Recent images of Mugabe in a dire state

Images of Mugabe in his current state have surfaced online. The aged Zanu-PF leader looks nothing like the stern leader that ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for so many years.

Pictures of the day @ robert mugabe pic.twitter.com/TXC0epd1iW

— mzansistories (@mzansistories) July 28, 2019

The state of Zimbabwe post-Mugabe

As Mugabe’s health deteriorates, so does the promise of a new dawn that has been dangled over the heads of Zimbabweans for decades.

Rising fuel and electricity prices, matched with a decaying infrastructure has pitted Zimbabwe in a worrying state. According to the most recent Freedom in the World report, Zimbabwe, under the rule of Mnangagwa, has regressed into the defunct state it was in back when Mugabe was at the helm.

“Zimbabwe’s political system returned in some ways to its pre-coup status quo, as the ruling Zanu PF party won deeply flawed general elections following the military’s ouster of longtime President Robert Mugabe in 2017.

“Despite Mnangagwa’s pledges to respect political institutions and govern in the interest of all Zimbabweans, his new administration has shown few signs that it is committed to fostering genuine political competition, and it has continued to enforce laws that limit expression,” the report read.

This content was originally published here.

Sexual abuse survivors who aren’t believed are at higher risk of poor mental health

Sexual abuse survivors who aren’t believed are at higher risk of poor mental health
Credit: Shutterstock

Survivors of sexual assault who encounter negative responses from family members when they disclose their abuse are at higher risk of poor mental health later in life, a new study by UNSW medical researchers has shown.

It is hoped that the study—and subsequent research—can help better inform and strategies to avert the longer-term emotional difficulties and risks that abuse survivors encounter later in life.

“There is ample evidence that sexual abuse is widespread among —for example, we know that nearly 1 in 5 globally, and approximately 20% of Australian women report exposure to sexual abuse in childhood,” says study lead author Associate Professor Susan Rees from UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry.

“The association between exposure to sexual abuse and a wide range of common mental disorders and adverse psychosocial outcomes is also well established.

“However, there are only few studies that have tried to qualitatively understand the possible range of sexual assault disclosure responses from parents and relatives—girls’ and women’s most likely confidantes—as well as the survivors’ associated emotional reaction, and mental disorder later in life.”

For this study, the researchers conducted interviews with 30 adult female survivors of sexual abuse who sought support from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Sexual Assault Counselling Service.

To better understand the interpersonal complexity of the survivor’s experiences, the team enabled the survivors to explore their experiences in a confidential one-on-one setting with skilled counselors. Together, they plotted the survivor’s experience on a visual timeline.

Survivors described the main three toxic responses from when they—often as a child—disclosed the sexual assault.

“Women described being ignored, blamed for the abuse or being threatened that some harm would come to them or the family if they speak out,” A/Prof Rees says.

Women who had these negative disclosure experiences then reported a range of adverse psychosocial outcomes experienced later in their lives—including social isolation, taking drugs, recurrent or persisting mental disorder and future risk of , including bullying at school.

“In short, we found that these are strongly associated with mental disorders and future adversity later in life—particularly if the negative disclosure experience occurred during childhood,” A/Prof Rees said.

The researchers hope that this more nuanced understanding may help to better inform interventions and public campaigns to encourage society to work towards breaking the silence that protects perpetrators and obscures the pervasive harms caused by against children and women.

“For example, parents need to better understand the importance of responding with affirming and caring responses if they are confronted with disclosures, given that the period immediately following a disclosure may be a critical window where survivors are particularly vulnerable,” A/Prof Rees says.

For , the researchers recommend special training to identify and respond to negative disclosure experiences.

And at a societal level, the researchers say they hope that the contemporary public attention for sexual violence, steered by the #metoo movement, will help promote “public acknowledgment of men’s culpability, rather than women’s responsibility.”

“We need to harness this impetus at the community level to overcome denial and victim blaming in the home, too,” A/Prof Rees concludes.

The study was a collaboration between UNSW Medicine and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Sexual Assault Counselling Service. The Service is planning future research on this topic.

“Our sample was non-representative and we therefore can’t generalize our findings to the wider population of women who have been sexually abused—so we need more research,” A/Prof Rees says.

More information:
Susan Rees et al. Believe #metoo: sexual violence and interpersonal disclosure experiences among women attending a sexual assault service in Australia: a mixed-methods study, BMJ Open (2019). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026773

Journal information:
BMJ Open


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Olathe School District adds licensed therapists at each high school to help with mental health

OLATHE, Kan. — A metro school district is rolling out a new program to help students with mental health.

It’s one of several ways they’re working to ease anxiety that comes with start of school and everyday life.

At this point, Mayci Armstrong is used to bells ringing and lockers slamming, but she remembers the struggle of that first day as a freshman.

“So my first day, oh man, what a mess,” Armstrong said. “I was so nervous.”

Now a senior at Olathe South High School, she and the rest of “Link Crew” showed freshmen around their new home for the next four years on Wednesday. The upperclassmen help fill them in on the good food, class locations and the inside scoop.

“Okay, girls,” Armstrong said, pointing passing through the hall. “That is the best bathroom in the whole school. It’s like a hotel restroom.”

“They’re going to have an upperclassman that’s going to kind of show them the ropes,” new Olathe Public Schools staff member Tina Mcleod said, “and they’re going to be able to have that all year long. So it’s a fabulous program.”

The district isn’t stopping there. They’re introducing a new program to put student wellness advocates in each of the five high schools in Olathe.

“This is something that is brand new, and we’re really excited about it that the district has allocated funds for these positions,” said Angie Salava, director of social, emotional, learning and mental health services. “They are not grant positions. They are permanent positions.”

Salava said data shows their students need help in areas of mental health. She noted that the suicide protocol was put to the test more than 500 times last year — and used in every single grade including Pre-K.

“We know that having that resource on site, it removes the barriers of time, transportation, and even money that can prevent some parents from seeking that help for their students,” she said.

That’s where advocates like Mcleod come in.

She’s one of five licensed therapists working for the district to provide individual and group counseling for students dealing with feelings like anxiety and depression.

“In general, I think that we want to give students a language to be able to communicate what they’re feeling and what their needs are,” Mcleod said. “We want to provide a safe environment and let them know that they have someone to talk to and they have supports.”

As Mcleod works to guide students through life, Armstrong is helping them navigate the halls — both equally important.

“I just like to help them relax a little bit because I know how scary it can be,” Armstrong said.

These mental health professionals will not only be in the high schools, but will also be available to schools in every feeder pattern to help students.


If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.

Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Click on the boxes below for our FOX 4 You Matter reports and other helpful phone numbers and resources.

This content was originally published here.

California Is Expanding Government Health Care to More Illegal Immigrants. Here’s What to Expect.

California is now extending health care benefits to more state residents, including young adult illegal immigrants, as conservatives warn it could attract more illegal immigrants to the state and further burden a health care system without sufficient doctors. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, last month signed into law a measure (Assembly Bill 4) amending the eligibility portion of the state Medicaid program known as Medi-Cal. 

“Providing a new public benefit to a group of people in the nation illegally will incentivize more people to risk breaking U.S. immigration law to settle in California,” Chuck DeVore, a former California assemblyman, said.

The law states that “an individual who does not have satisfactory immigration status or is unable to establish satisfactory immigration status, as required by Section 14011.2, shall be eligible for the full scope of Medi-Cal benefits, if they are otherwise eligible for benefits under this chapter.”

Prior to the bill’s passage, Calfornians under the age of 19 with an income below 400% of the poverty level were eligible to be enrolled in Medi-Cal. The measure expands the existing program to young adults who are 25 years old or younger, regardless of immigration status.

“Providing access to health care coverage and services to all Californians is a key goal of [the Newsom] administration, and this serves as an important step toward accomplishing that goal, while building on the previous expansion of full-scope coverage to children,” wrote Carol Sloane, spokeswoman for California’s Department of Health Care Services, which administers Medi-Cal, in an email to The Daily Signal.

President Donald Trump appeared to reference California’s decision to extend health care coverage to illegal immigrants earlier this month, telling reporters: “If you look at what they’re doing in California, how they’re treating people, they don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants. So at what point does it stop? It’s crazy what they’re doing. It’s crazy. And it’s mean, and it’s very unfair to our citizens.”

Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, criticized California for not covering senior citizens who are illegal immigrants.

“The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions,” Buiza said, according to NPR

Source of Funding

Sally Pipes, president and CEO of Pacific Research Institute, a conservative-leaning policy group in California, told The Daily Signal the new law will incentivize young illegal immigrants to go to California to benefit from the program. 

Pipes explained that the weight of Medi-Cal costs—roughly $98 million at a minimum estimate—will fall on California taxpayers. 

“Of course, it will hit middle-income earners most. That’s what most people are,” Pipes said. “A lot of these people are having a hard time affording premiums and deductibles already. Now they’re going to have to support people who are coming here illegally, when they’re having trouble paying for themselves.”

Newsom did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment from the governor about how the state plans to pay for the new program. 

“To help pay for expanding Medi-Cal and to subsidize health insurance premiums, California has enacted its own individual mandate, imposing a tax on those who fail to buy insurance,” DeVore said, adding that the estimated cost of $98 million is likely very low. 

The Sacramento Bee reported in late June: “To pay for those [health care] subsidies, the state will fine people who don’t buy insurance through a policy known as the individual mandate, which was first implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act. … It’s expected to bring in roughly $1 billion for premium assistance over three years.”

Medi-Cal’s Problems 

Pipes says that the subsidy rate—the level of income at which California residents will be eligible for Medi-Cal—was also was increased significantly.

“They’re increasing the subsidy rate from 400% under Obamacare to now up to 600% of the poverty level,” Pipes said. “Now, anyone earning up to $75,000 per individual and $150,000 per family is eligible to be on Medi-Cal. And it’s for anyone in California.”

Under Medi-Cal, Pipes said, doctors are paid approximately 40% less than what they would get for treating a regular patient.

“A third of the population is on Medi-Cal already,” she said. “Adding more people to Medi-Cal means that there are fewer doctors taking medical patients, because of the low reimbursement. It’s going to be harder to get a doctor at all, and if they do, the wait is going to be very long.”

California has offered to pay doctors’ student loan debt, in exchange for treating Medi-Cal patients. 

“Being entitled to Medi-Cal doesn’t mean that the estimated 90,000 newly-covered people will be able to see a doctor,” DeVore said. 

“In fact, Medi-Cal recipients often must wait six to nine months before receiving medical attention,” he added. “As a result, they continue to use California’s overburdened emergency rooms where Medi-Cal recipient use nearly doubled from 2006 to 2016.”

Future Expansion Under This Governor 

Pipes said she expects Newsom is not done with the Medicaid program, and will continue to push its expansion.

“The governor promised voters—in particular, the militant nurses union—that they would get single-payer health care,” Pipes said. “This is his first stepping-stone approach to moving towards single-payer health care. He knew he wouldn’t get it in his first year, but this is all part of his grand scheme, working towards no private coverage.”

The law requires appropriations from the Legislature in order to be enacted, either through the annual Budget Act or another appropriations measure, according to the legislative counsel’s digest

With a Democratic supermajority in the California Assembly, Pipes said, she does not anticipate any successful opposition to funding the new program.

The post appeared first on The Daily Signal.

This content was originally published here.

Canada has an excellent health care plan. Bernie Sanders’s might be even better

During last night’s Democratic debates, Senator Bernie Sanders naturally talked up his signature policy point, his Medicare for All proposal. He also made a familiar comparison, describing a bus trip he made from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, with Americans who fill prescriptions in the northern country at a fraction of what they cost south of the border.

“I took 15 people with diabetes from Detroit a few miles into Canada,” he said in last night’s debate, “and we bought insulin for one-tenth the price being charged by the crooks who run the pharmaceutical industry in America today.”

The differences between the two countries’ health plans are often highlighted in arguments for extending universal health care to all Americans, while eliminating private insurance. The US is the only industrial nation without universal health care, so it’s handy that such a close neighbor serves as an example of how it works. But, in fact, there are a few ways that Sanders’s plan would provide even more comprehensive coverage than Canada’s.

As Sanders said in a post-debate interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, his version of Medicare for All would include dental, vision, and hearing care for seniors in the first year of a transition to universal coverage. By the fourth year, all Americans would be eligible for the same benefits. Presumably, so would a plan under Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is “with Bernie” on healthcare. Senator Kamala Harris should be asked to clarify her stance on related co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses during Wednesday’s debate (July 31), the Washington Post suggests, though her proposal, which doesn’t eliminate private companies, does suggest the same type of comprehensive coverage.

What few Americans may realize is that these particular aspects of care are not entirely covered by Canada’s provincial health plans. But they’d certainly be an asset to the United States’ population—and particularly to senior citizens. Growing evidence suggests that a person’s vision, hearing abilities, and oral hygiene could all be connected to cognitive health.

The case for covering seniors’ hearing, dental, and vision care

Seniors are among the fastest growing demographics in the US, with those over 65 expected to outnumber children under 18 by 2030. Older adults have distinct health needs compared to younger adults: Namely, they’re at the highest risk of developing dementia. Already, about one in 10 adults over 65 is living with Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia), although the rate is higher among communities of color—which happen to be the fastest-growing aging populations in the US.

Rapid cognitive decline can result from several kinds of misshapen proteins building up in the brain. But the many pathways to dementia are still poorly understood—and at this point, impossible to prevent or treat. It’s costly, too: Currently, the US spends $290 billion (pdf) caring for those living with Alzheimer’s in particular, and the Alzheimer’s Association, a non-profit organization, estimates that that figure will reach $770 billion by 2050.

Some research has suggested there may be a relationship between poor oral hygiene, , and hearing abilities and developing cognitive decline or dementia. In the absence of successful tactics to prevent the conditions, some experts hope that interventions connected to these three functions could help slow or prevent dementia.

Suzann Pershing, an ophthalmologist at Stanford University School of Medicine, conducted a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology that found an association between poor vision and lower cognitive ability in older populations. She told the New York Times that “while this association doesn’t prove vision loss causes cognitive decline, intuitively it makes sense that the less engaged people are with the world, the less cognitive stimulation they receive, and the more likely their cognitive function will decline.”

The same is thought to be true of hearing loss, which can lead to social isolation. (Consider that even adults who don’t have hearing problems are liable to give up on conversation in a loud place.) Another possibility to explain this link, AARP magazine reports, is that straining to hear and understand sounds can put extra stress on the brain. “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market,” Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, told AARP magazine. “It should be the first thing we focus on.”

The connection to dental care is a little trickier. Preliminary research has shown that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a type of bacteria that causes periodontitis, is more commonly found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not clear if the bacteria itself plays a role in the brain’s deterioration, or if people living with dementia end up unable to take proper care of their teeth, resulting in severe infections.

To be clear, there are no known direct causes of dementia; there just appear to be risk factors that could lead to the condition. Suffering from hearing impairment, vision loss, or gum disease certainly does not lead to cognitive decline in everyone. But by the same token, every senior stands to gain from total vision, dental, and hearing coverage—perhaps especially those already dealing with cognitive impairment.

Canada is not a great role model for these forms of care

Which is why Sanders’s proposal stands to serve US seniors even better than Canada’s system serves its own elderly citizens. Across Canada, eye exams and treatments for conditions affecting the eyes are covered under provincial health plans. But lenses, frames, and contact lenses typically are not, except for those people on financial assistance. And while hearing tests are covered, provincial governments offer either no assistance or only capped subsidies for hearing aids, which are notoriously expensive.

Dental coverage for most seniors is missing entirely, until someone is in so much pain that they visit an emergency room. Most employers offer dental and vision coverage, but once a person retires, those benefits vanish, and relatively pricey private insurance becomes the only option.

The other leading Democratic candidates in the US have addressed seniors’ concerns in their policy talking points. As they should, if they’re aware of demographic trends and the fact that more senior voters are moving to the left. But only the Sanders platform—and by default Elizabeth Warren’s—is as specific about full universal coverage for these three issues.

One day, Bernie’s bus may need to travel to Canada again—this time bearing pointers for his neighbor to the north.

This content was originally published here.

Elizabeth Warren Calls for ‘Affordable, Gender-Affirming’ Health Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for health care that is high-quality, affordable, and “gender-affirming” in a tweet posted Tuesday afternoon. However, she has not always held that position.

Warren tweeted Tuesday that Americans are entitled to “high-quality, affordable, gender-affirming health care” and criticized the Trump administration for considering a proposal that would revise Obama-era protections for transgender adults, who make up 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, according to government data.

“But the Trump administration is trying to roll back important protections for trans Americans. Help fight back by leaving a comment for HHS in protest,” she added, along with a link to a Protect Trans Health petition:

Everyone should be able to access high-quality, affordable, gender-affirming health care. But the Trump administration is trying to roll back important protections for trans Americans. Help fight back by leaving a comment for HHS in protest: https://t.co/pKDcOqbsc7

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 13, 2019

The petition states:

The Trump-Pence Administration is trying to undermine the Health Care Rights Law, a lifesaving law that helps transgender people access the health care they need without discrimination from health care providers or insurers. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a regulation that falsely says discrimination against transgender people is legal.

The Trump administration is considering revising the Obama-era protections outlined in the Affordable Care Act — Section 1557, specifically — which bars discrimination based on race, sex, or sexual orientation. The Trump administration, essentially, wants to revert to the traditional meaning of sex discrimination, which does not include gender identity.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the following proposal in June:

The Department of Health and Human Services (“the Department”) is committed to ensuring the civil rights of all individuals who access or seek to access health programs or activities of covered entities under Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Department proposes to revise its Section 1557 regulation in order to better comply with the mandates of Congress, address legal concerns, relieve billions of dollars in undue regulatory burdens, further substantive compliance, reduce confusion, and clarify the scope of Section 1557 in keeping with pre-existing civil rights statutes and regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability.

HHS contends that the rule would “empower the Department to continue its robust enforcement of civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in Department-funded health programs or activities, and would make it clear that such civil rights laws remain in full force and effect.”

Critics consider the proposal a direct assault on the transgender community.

Via USA Today:

This section covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity, but the Trump-Pence White House has needlessly proposed a new regulation that would cruelly strip the ACA of specific protections for LGBTQ patients, specifically transgender people. This proposed regulation callously puts lives at risk, and it’s imperative the American people make their voices heard on why this it is dangerous and unacceptable.

On June 14, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed regulation based on a court’s outrageous claim that the ACA’s protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity is “likely unlawful.” This initiated a 60-day public comment period that runs through Aug. 12. In a press release sent out by HHS, Roger Severino, the Director of the department’s Office of Civil Rights, offered this ratonale: “When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform.”

While Warren has been attempting to brand herself as a strong transgender ally, she has expressed concerns in regards to taxpayer-funded services for transgender individuals in the past. She openly admitted that taxpayer-funded reassignment surgery for convicted murderer Robert Kosilek, who switched to “Michelle,” would be a bad use of taxpayer dollars.

Kosilek, who long battled the prison system for sexual reassignment surgery, sued the Massachusetts prison system for failing to allow him to receive the “gender-affirming” health care Warren purportedly supports. A federal judge sided with Kosilek in 2012, during Warren’s battle with former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).

“I have to say, I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars,” Warren said when asked about the ruling at the time.

Warren eventually walked that position back, with her then-presidential exploratory committee telling ThinkProgress in January that she “supports access to medically necessary services, including transition-related surgeries.”

“This includes procedures taking place at the VA, in the military, or at correctional facilities,” the statement added.

This content was originally published here.

A Health Care System That’s the Envy of the World

More is spent on taxes by households than on anything else in Amy’s country.  This exuberant taxpayer funding of the public health care utopia known as the “envy of the world” is today Bernie Sanders’s and Kamala Harris’s main advocacy platform all the way to 2020.

Addictive and mind-altering pharmaceutical chemicals are all Amy has at her disposal.  No back specialist or treatments are on the horizon.

The following events did not take place in the Soviet Union or Cuba.  None of this inhumanity was a figment of my imagination.  I’m narrating the details without hyperbole.

Recently, I took a ride through one amazingly affordable health care system — the one Obama and other notable Democrats paint as the “envy of the world.”  See how quickly you can figure out where this envy of the world dwells.

Got your seat belt on? This liberal utopia is a bit bumpy.

You enter a hospital emergency room.  For two months prior, you suffered abysmal pain, unable to shower, straighten out, or sit.  You’re the Hunchback of Notre Dame, debilitated with no reprieve.  When one of your legs isn’t numb from hip to toe, you experience sharp stabbing sensations that make you want to slit your wrists.

Yet you do exactly what your nation’s one-tier medical system instructs you to do: you visit a family doctor who routinely suggests an MRI.  And since you live in the proud lap of liberalism, which ensures the all-inclusive equity of suffering, you are told that your MRI is a mere twelve months away.  A referral to a spine clinic was offered at a six months’ wait.  Lucky for you, a generous dose of an opioid was prescribed in the interim.  The 60 Oxycontin pills (the most addictive opioid on the market, with a street value of $60/pill) were augmented by 270 pills of Gabapentin, a drug designed to deceive your brain into thinking you are not in pain.  You walk away a guaranteed addict with a pocket full of mind-altering chemicals.

By now you should be entirely consoled by the idea that many are in the same boat of egalitarianism for suffering and queues.  The thought of equitable misery is expected to work as an instant pain-reliever.  This barbaric philosophy is at the crux of government policies that outlaw private health care in this country.

This is how my friend’s journey through the cartel of socialist policies began.

As Amy tried to figure out how to take her next breath without screaming, she decided that a 12-month wait is simply inhumane.  She did what most people of means do: she arranged a private MRI.  A diagnosis of bulging spinal discs pressing on nerves in the lower spine resulted.  Amy, now $692 poorer, was always guaranteed health care when she needed it — that is, if she didn’t mind croaking from pain first.

In Amy’s country, an average annual income of $60,900 pays a health care tax bill of $5,516 for the privilege of the “free” health care perk.  In 2016, an average family sent 42.5% of their income straight into government coffers, out of which health care funding is allocated.  Top earners pay up to $37,361 annually for their shot at the “free” emergency room queues, MRI waits, and specialist appointments.

More is spent on taxes by households than on anything else in Amy’s country.  This exuberant taxpayer funding of the public health care utopia known as the “envy of the world” is today Bernie Sanders’s and Kamala Harris’s main advocacy platform all the way to 2020.

Amy’s journey continues…

Addictive and mind-altering pharmaceutical chemicals are all Amy has at her disposal.  No back specialist or treatments are on the horizon.

After a several days of continued suffering, with no relief from prescribed opioids, Amy, now in a wheelchair, heads to the nearest emergency room.  Official wait time is recorded as two hours.  In reality, the two-hour wait was simply the time needed to get through the three separate points of admission.  Bureaucracy requires it.

Amy enters a second waiting room, where she waits three more hours.  Ten hours later, loaded with more addicting opioids (Hydromorphine and Tramadol), Amy is sent home.  She is told that average wait time to see a back surgeon is between 18 and 24 months.

Next come two more visits to emergency rooms out of sheer desperation and helplessness.  Amy knows that these emergency rooms rarely do more than prescribe drugs and lend a sympathetic ear.  But when you have no other choices, you seek relief even where you know there isn’t any.

After each visit to an emergency facility, Amy is prescribed more addictive medications and told she needs to learn to manage her pain.  Amy understands that “managing pain” is code for “living with pain.”  Continuing this regime of ineffective addictive pill therapy is, likewise, synonymous with “there are no resources, no treatments, but you’re welcome to become a drug addict and not waste our time ever again.”  None of the drugs prescribed works.  Amy is told average time for surgery she needs is up to three years.

Amy finally realizes that private care surgery is the only option.  It’s the end of the line; she has to take control of her health, regardless of the public system’s incompetence and lack of resources.

A few days later — another trip to an emergency room by way of ambulance service that refused to drive her to a hospital with a spinal unit.  Amy waits four hours.  In the meantime, she’s generously offered more opioids for her pain. 

After six agonizing hours, Amy is admitted.  Once again, the wait begins.  At 3:00 A.M., a doctor on duty shows up, exactly eight hours since Amy was wheeled in.

Once at Amy’s bedside, the good doctor utters, “There’s nothing we can do for you here.  You should’ve gone to the other hospital with a spinal unit.  But don’t tell anyone I told you.”

Amy’s visit ends with a fresh prescription of meds and a refill for more opioids.  Not even a hint of the word “surgery.”

The next morning, Amy’s pain gets worse.  She’s in the hospital again.  This time, a twelve-hour wait before she is seen.  When the neurosurgeon arrives he offers, “We don’t do surgery for your condition.  I’m happy to put you on a waiting list to see a back specialist.  If you’re lucky, the average twelve-month wait might expedite to a three-month wait.”  Amy’s visit ends with more helplessness, more crying and desperation. 

As Amy became completely bedridden, I made the case for private surgery south of the border, in Florida.  It was her only option for survival.  A ten-hour flight to Florida wasn’t feasible in Amy’s condition.  But an underground private clinic in a close-by city one hour’s flight time away was perfect.  The cost of surgery?  Twenty thousand dollars.

Three days after the original idea for private care, I picked up Amy from the long awaited surgery, able to walk and talk without groaning and crying.  Only hours after surgery, she was cracking her usual jokes.

Amy’s story doesn’t quite end here.  For lack of any good alternatives, this very Canadian (there you have it!) public health care mess more than charitably fed Amy all sorts of opioids.  Today, my friend is courageously fighting an opioid addiction — an addiction not one medical professional warned her about. 

Unless you live in Canada and have the dubious pleasure of experiencing the one-tier system of finding a family doctor, wait times in hospitals, wait times for imagery exams, wait times to see specialists and wait times for treatment or surgery, you can’t really appreciate the true meaning of the word “affordable” in Canada’s very affordable public health care.  Canada’s single-payer public health care system, heavily funded by taxpayers, forced over one million patients to wait for necessary medical treatments last year.  An all-time record in a country of only 36 million.  The only thing Canadians are guaranteed is a spot on a waitlist. 

Trouble with “affordable” and “free”: both are very expensive.

Valerie Sobel is a writer, economist, and pianist residing in Western Canada.

This content was originally published here.

The Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren Has Health Benefits for Both, According to a Study

The Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren Has Health Benefits for Both, According to a Study

In the modern world where both parents work full-time and crave professional success, the number of grandparents who are raising grandchildren is increasing rapidly. For many adults, the “intrusion” of grandparents is annoying, because, after all, it’s about their children, “and they know what’s best for them.”

If you have doubts about whether or not to allow your elders to participate in the upbringing of your child, we at Bright Side can tip the scales in favor of the love and care that only grandparents can offer.

Grandparents are good for your health.

The cultural and social situations that occur today have strengthened the relationships between grandchildren and grandparents, mainly because the number of households where both parents work full-time is continuing to grow. In addition, the family disintegration rate is increasingly high. Because of this, there are several studies that have been dedicated to investigating the connection between the bond that grandparents have with their grandchildren and the welfare of the latter.

A special investigation, carried out by the University of Oxford, showed that frequent contact and loving connections between grandparents and their grandchildren generate social and emotional well-being in children and young people. This bond protects grandchildren from problems with development that they could face and boosts their social and cognitive abilities. In addition, “close relationships between grandparents and grandchildren buffered the effects of adverse life events, like parental separation, because it calmed the children down,” says Dr. Eirini Flouri, one of the authors of the study.

It’s not enough to just be close, you also have to get involved.

These conclusions and results were revealed thanks to the analysis of 1,596 children of different ages in England and Wales. Different aspects like socioeconomic status, grandparents’ age, and the level of closeness in the relationship were evaluated. 40 in-depth interviews were also conducted with children from different backgrounds. These surveys, in addition to revealing the healthy benefits that this bond brings, also gave an overview of the importance of these relationships in our society, since almost a third of maternal grandmothers provide regular care for their grandchildren, and 40% provide occasional help with childcare.

The study focused mainly on children who were about to become teenagers, those who, surprisingly and contrary to what one might think, accept the relationship with their grandparents with great satisfaction and love. The reason? The survey revealed that today’s grandparents often have more time than parents to help young people in their activities, in addition to being in a position that gives them greater confidence to talk with their grandchildren about any problems they may be experiencing. However, the emotional closeness may not be enough: grandparents should be involved in education and help solve youth problems, as well as talk with teenagers about their future plans.

The benefits that grandchildren bring to grandparents

The relationships and bonds that grandchildren and grandparents have can also improve the well-being of older adults. A study by the Institute of Gerontology at the School of Social and Public Policy in London found that the grandparent-grandchild relationship is strongly associated with the quality of life of older adults regarding their health. This means that grandparents, mainly grandmothers, who provide care for their grandchildren, enjoy better physical health. The study highlighted the importance of leading a relationship that does not fill grandparents with responsibilities and lets them lead a life without major worries. Otherwise it could cause depression.

The research was based on official data of 8,972 women and 6,567 men, 50 years of age or older, who had one or more grandchildren at the start of the study and lived in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden, contemplating a period of 5 years.

We believe that the help and advice of those who raised us and can now help us raise our children should always be welcomed.

How close were you to your grandparents? What is the relationship that your children have with their grandparents? We would absolutely love to read your stories and opinions in the comments section.

Preview photo credit Coco / Disney Pixar

This content was originally published here.

Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but it has numerous mental health benefits for fans

Summary: Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but a new study reveals the music has positive mental health benefits for its fans.

Source: The Conversation

Due to its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics, heavy metal music is often associated with controversy. Among the genre’s most contentious moments, there have been instances of blasphemous merchandise, accusations of promoting suicide and blame for mass school shootings. Why, then, if it’s so “bad”, do so many people enjoy it? And does this music genre really have a negative effect on them?

There are many reasons why people align themselves with genres of music. It may be to feel a sense of belonging, because they enjoy the sound, identify with the lyrical themes, or want to look and act a certain way. For me, as a quiet, introverted teenager, my love of heavy metal was probably a way to feel a little bit different to most people in my school who liked popular music and gain some internal confidence. Plus, I loved the sound of it.

I first began to listen to heavy metal when I was 14 or 15 years old when my uncle recorded a ZZ Top album for me and I heard singles by AC/DC and Bon Jovi. After that, I voraciously read music magazines Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces, and RAW, and checked out as many back catalogs of artists as I could. I also grew my hair (yes, I had a mullet … twice), wore a denim jacket with patches (thanks mum), and attended numerous concerts by established artists like Metallica and The Wildhearts, as well as local Bristol bands like Frozen Food.

Over the years, there has been much research into the effects of heavy metal. I have used it as one of the conditions in my own studies exploring the impact of sound on performance. More specifically, I have used thrash metal (a fast and aggressive sub-genre of heavy metal) to compare music our participants liked and disliked (with metal being the music the did not enjoy). This research showed that listening to music you dislike, compared to music that you like, can impair spatial rotation (the ability to mentally rotate objects in your mind), and both liked and disliked music are equally damaging to short-term memory performance.

Other researchers have studied more specifically why people listen to heavy metal, and whether it influences subsequent behavior. For people who are not fans of heavy metal, listening to the music seems to have a negative impact on well-being. In one study, non-fans who listened to classical music, heavy metal, self-selected music, or sat in silence following a stressor, experienced greater anxiety after listening to heavy metal. Listening to the other music or sitting in silence, meanwhile, showed a decrease in anxiety. Interestingly heart rate and respiration decreased over time for all conditions.

Metalheads and headbangers

Looking further into the differences between heavy metal fans and non-fans, research has shown that fans tend to be more open to new experiences, which manifests itself in preferring music that is intense, complex, and unconventional, alongside a negative attitude towards institutional authority. Some do have lower levels of self-esteem, however, and a need for uniqueness.

One might conclude that this and other negative behaviors are the results of listening to heavy metal, but the same research suggests that it may be that listening to music is cathartic. Late adolescent/early adult fans also tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety but it is not known whether the music attracts people with these characteristics or causes them.

Heavy metal has positive effects on fans of all ages. The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

Despite the often violent lyrical content in some heavy metal songs, recently published research has shown that fans do not become sensitized to violence, which casts doubt on the previously assumed negative effects of long-term exposure to such music. Indeed, studies have shown long-terms fans were happier in their youth and better adjusted in middle age compared to their non-fan counterparts. Another finding that fans who were made angry and then listened to heavy metal music did not increase their anger but increased their positive emotions suggests that listening to extreme music represents a healthy and functional way of processing anger.

Other investigations have made rather unusual findings on the effects of heavy metal. For example, you might not want to put someone in charge of adding hot sauce to your food after listening to the music, as a study showed that participants added more to a person’s cup of water after listening to heavy metal than when listening to nothing at all.

Finally, heavy metal can promote scientific thinking but alas not just by listening to it. Educators can promote scientific thinking by posing claims such as listening to certain genres of music is associated with violent thinking. By examining the aforementioned accusations of violence and offense – which involved world-famous artists like Cradle of Filth, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson – students can engage in scientific thinking, exploring logical fallacies, research design issues, and thinking biases.

So, you beautiful people, whether you’re heading out to the highway to hell or the stairway to heaven, walk this way. Metal can make you feel like nothing else matters. It’s so easy to blow your speakers and shout it out loud. Dig!

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
The Conversation
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The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

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Elderly couple suicide: High medical bills blamed for elderly Washington couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide; left notes about high health care cost – CBS News

A sheriff’s department in Washington state shared a story about an elderly man who killed his ailing wife and then himself, apparently because they did not have enough money to pay for medical care. The devastating story was shared on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and has gone viral. 

A 77-year-old man called 911 and told the dispatcher, “I’m going to kill myself,” according to the sheriff’s department. He indicated he had prepared a note with instructions and the dispatcher tried to keep him on the line, with no success. The man disconnected the call, and when deputies arrived at the house, they sent a robot mounted camera inside.

Both the man and his wife were found dead by gunshot wounds. Detectives are investigating it as a likely murder-suicide. 

Murder / Suicide near Ferndale

At 0823 hours this morning deputies responded to the 6500 block of Timmeran Lane near…

Posted by

“Several notes were left citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care,” the sheriffs department’s post reads. “Next of kin information was left in a note and detectives are working with out of state law enforcement to notify the next of kin.”

The identity of the couple has not been released. Their two dogs were brought to the Human Society for care. Several firearms were also impounded.

“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said, according to the post. “Help is always available with a call to 9-1-1.”

Americans spend more on health care than citizens of any other country, and that gap is projected to widen. Health care spending is expected to consume almost 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2027, according to a recent estimate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

Suicide rates have increased among all age groups in the U.S. between 2008 and 2017, including those age 65 and over.

How to get help for yourself or a loved one

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or thinking about suicide, talk to someone who can help, such as a trusted loved one, your doctor, your licensed mental health professional if you already have one, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

If you believe your loved one or friend is at risk of suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek help from a doctor or the nearest hospital emergency department or dial 911. It’s important to remove access to firearms, medications, or any other potential tools they might use to harm themselves.

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

-Ashley Welch contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

Clintons Dismiss Calls for Mental Health Reform and Demand Gun Ban

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton reacted to President Trump’s Monday morning remarks on the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, dismissing his push for mental health-based reform and calling for the ban of “assault weapons.”

Trump addressed the nation Monday on the deadly shootings that occurred over the weekend, resulting in more than 30 fatalities and dozens of injuries. He unequivocally condemned racism, bigotry, and white supremacy, calling them “sinister ideologies” that “must be defeated.”

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America, hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

While the president called for bipartisan solutions – including “red flag” laws – he urged lawmakers to address the festering mental health crisis in the nation as well.

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” the president noted.

Both Clintons took issue with Trump’s position.

“People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth,” Hillary Clinton tweeted. “The difference is the guns.”:

People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth.

The difference is the guns.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 5, 2019

Former President Bill Clinton took it a step further and renewed calls for an “assault weapons” ban, despite the fact that the 1994 ban did not have any tangible effect.

“How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks?” Clinton asked.

“After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths,” he claimed. “When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.”:

How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks? After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths. When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.

— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) August 5, 2019

“The ban lasted from 1994 to 2004 and, although crime fell during that time, a ‘detailed study found no proof’ the decline was due to the ban,” Breitbart News’s AWR Hawkins reported.

Even the New York Times admitted that “the law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.”

Additionally:

Hard numbers showed the percentage of “assault weapons” recovered by police during the ban only rose from 1 percent to 2 percent.

On top of all this, the Times points out that “assault weapons” are not the gun of choice for criminals anyway–and never have been. “In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, FBI data shows.” And as Breitbart News reported on January 15, 2013, deaths in which an “assault rifle” were involved constituted less than .012 percent of the overall deaths in America in 2011.

The nitty-gritty details of the 1994 assault weapons ban demonstrate the fundamental flaws in the left’s solutions for gun violence. The 1994 assault weapons ban identified five features and barred any semi-automatic rifle that possessed two of the five. Flagged features included a flash suppressor, pistol grip, collapsible stock, bayonet mount, and a grenade launcher. As the list demonstrates, the features were primarily cosmetic and did nothing to increase firepower.

As The Federalist’s Sean Davis explained in 2016:

The 1994 assault weapons law banned semi-automatic rifles only if they had any two of the following five features in addition to a detachable magazine: a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.

That’s it. Not one of those cosmetic features has anything whatsoever to do with how or what a gun fires. Note that under the 1994 law, the mere existence of a bayonet lug, not even the bayonet itself, somehow turned a garden-variety rifle into a bloodthirsty killing machine. Guns with fixed stocks? Very safe. But guns where a stock has more than one position? Obviously they’re murder factories. A rifle with both a bayonet lug and a collapsible stock? Perish the thought.

A collapsible stock does not make a rifle more deadly. Nor does a pistol grip. Nor does a bayonet mount. Nor does a flash suppressor.

The New York Times admitted in 2014 that Democrats manufactured the term “assault weapons” in order to ban a “politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with ‘military-style’ features’” and added that those weapons “only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.”

This content was originally published here.

The trouble with the GOP’s focus on mental health and guns

In recent years, in the immediate aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, Republicans tend to talk about new policies related to mental health. In response to the latest slayings, we’re hearing many of the same familiar refrains.

Here, for example, was Donald Trump’s unscripted comments to reporters yesterday afternoon:

“[T]his is also a mental illness problem. If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness. These are people – really, people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”

And here’s how the president followed up on the point this morning, reading scripted comments:

“[W]e must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but, when necessary, involuntary confinement.”

There are all kinds of relevant angles to comments like these, which seemed to refer to general policy preferences, not specific legislation. For example, the idea of imposing “involuntary confinement” on the mentally ill is the sort of approach that easily could be abused and applied too broadly. Policymakers would have to deal with the challenges with great caution and care.

But hanging overhead is a problem that’s tough for GOP officials to explain away: the last time they tackled a policy related to guns and mental health.

As regular readers may recall, one of the very first measures tackled by the Republican-led Congress in 2017 was, of all things, a gun bill.

When an American suffers from a severe mental illness, to the point that he or she receives disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, there are a variety of limits created to help protect that person and his or her interests. These folks cannot, for example, go to a bank to cash a check on their own.

As recently as 2016, they couldn’t buy a gun, either. The Social Security Administration would report the names of those who receive disability benefits due to severe mental illness to the FBI’s background-check system.

At least, that was the policy. Less than a month into the Trump era, Republicans passed a measure to block the Social Security Administration’s reporting policy, keeping the names out of the FBI system, and making it easier for the mentally impaired to buy firearms.

To be sure, the old system had flaws and was the subject of some legitimate criticism. It’s very difficult, for example, for someone to have their names removed from the background-check system once they’re on it.

But the GOP measure made no real effort at reform. It was more of a blunt object than a scalpel.

And two years later, it’s a political headache, too. The Republicans talking today about the mentally impaired having access to guns are the same Republicans who voted to expand gun access for the mentally impaired.

This content was originally published here.

Guns and public health: Applying preventive medicine to a national epidemic – CBS News

It happened again … twice in less than twenty-four hours. Are any of us surprised? And can anybody help?

When a panel of seven doctors was asked how many had seen a gunshot victim within the past week, three hands went up. “I think people think that if their loved one gets to the hospital, that there’s magic there. But sometimes it’s just too much for us,” said Dr. Stephanie Bonne.

If there was ever a time for preventive medicine, it’s now, says a group of doctors. 

“A grandfather was shot yesterday,” said Dr. Roger Mitchell. “A son was shot yesterday. Yesterday – a mother was shot yesterday. And then the day before that, there were five other people that were shot that were connected to Americans in this country.”

They’ve had enough, and seen enough.

“The only thing worse than a death is a death that can be prevented,” said Dr. Ronnie Stewart. “And to go and talk to the mom of a child who was normal at breakfast and now is not here, is the worst possible thing. And honestly, it drives us to address this problem.”

Drs. Stewart, Boone and Mitchell, along with Drs. Albert Osbahr, Niva Lubin Johnson, Chris Barsotti and Megan Ranney were in Chicago this past winter as more than 40 medical organizations, who normally operate separately, joined forces to address the 40,000 firearm-related deaths that occur each year.

Nothing like this has ever happened, they said. “And we recognize that this is an epidemic that we can address,” said Dr. Barsotti.

Their meeting followed a tweet from the National Rifle Association last November that helped fuel a movement: “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7

— NRA (@NRA)

In response, Dr. Bonne, a trauma surgeon in Newark, N.J., snapped a picture pof the waiting room and posted it to Twitter along with this message: “Hey, N.R.A., do you wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair that I sit in when I tell parents that their kids are dead.”

Hey @NRA ! Wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair I sit in when I tell parents their kids are dead. How dare you tell me I can’t research evidence based solutions. #ThisISMyLane #ThisIsOurLane #thequietroom pic.twitter.com/y7tBAuje8O

— Stephanie Bonne (@scrubbedin)

“And you hit send. And then what happens?” asked medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.

“I was part of a chorus,” Dr. Bonne replied.

A chorus of thousands of medical professionals who responded #ThisIsOurLane.

“Our motto is do no harm, for physicians. But I think the community felt that harm was being done to us by that tweet,” said Dr. Lubin-Johnson.

Dr. Ranney said, “I remember sitting there and thinking, how can you lecture docs, many of whom are gun owners, about what we do and don’t know?”

Dr. Ranney is chief research officer for Affirm, an organization trying to address gun violence through the same tools doctors use to combat problems like obesity, the opioid crisis, and heart disease.

This public health approach is not new: in the 1950s, doctors worked with the auto industry to help make cars and roads safer. In the ’60 and ’70s, they spoke out against the dangers of tobacco; and in the ’80s and ’90s, to combat HIV and AIDS, they promoted safe sex and research.

Today, the focus is gun violence in all its forms. It may surprise you to know that mass shootings make up less than 1% of firearm-related deaths. The leading cause is suicide, followed by homicide, and then accidents.

But good answers on how best to prevent these deaths are hard to come by. That’s because of 1996 legislation defunding any research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promoting gun control.

Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), who appended an amendment to a spending bill disallowing government funds from beings used to, in whole or in part, advocate or promote gun control, told the House, “This is an issue of federally-funded political advocacy … a[n] attempt by the CDC to bring about gun control advocacy all over the United States.” $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget was re-allocated, and it had a chilling effect on almost all firearm research. 

“What was lost was 20-some years of effort to understand and prevent a huge health problem,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, whose work on handgun violence lost government funding after Congress passed that 1996 legislation. “Consciously, deliberately, repeatedly, over and over, we turned our back on this problem. It’s as if we, as a country, had said, ‘Let’s not study motor vehicle injuries. Let’s not study heart disease or cancer or HIV/AIDS.’

“And the result, I believe, is that tens of thousands of people are dead today whose lives could have been saved if that research had been done.”

In 2018, Congress said government dollars could be used to research gun violence, just not to promote gun control. But Dr. Wintemute says federal research into gun violence is still underfunded.

While private donations for research are now increasing, Dr. Wintemute has over the years spent more than $2 million of his own money to continue his research at the University of California-Davis.

Dr. LaPook asked, “Are you a wealthy man who can afford to just do that, as a rounding error?”

“It’s not rounding error,” he laughed. “But I live a very simple life. I earn an academic sector, ER doc’s salary.”

“So, you are changing your lifestyle in order to fund this research or have in the past?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“What drives you to do that?”

“People are dying,” Dr. Wintemute replied. “Given the capacity to do it, how can I not? It really is just that simple.”

His work has led to some surprising conclusions. For example, his studies revealed that in some states comprehensive background checks as implemented had no effect on the number of firearm-related deaths. That’s in part because of a lack of communication among agencies.

“We have learned that probably hundreds of thousands of prohibiting events every year do not become part of the data that the background checks are run on,” Dr. Wintemute said.

Consider the 2017 shooting of 46 parishioners at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Due to a domestic violence conviction, the shooter should had been stopped from buying any guns, but that information was never shared with the FBUI, which oversees the background check system.

“So you think, okay, it’s not as effective as we want, but it can become effective if we do A, B, and C?” Dr. LaPook said.

“There’s no question about it,” Dr. Wintemute replied.

But it’s policy proposals from doctors on issues like background checks and registrations that concern gun-rights advocates.

Dr. LaPook said, “The point the N.R.A. was trying to make with its [“stay in your lane”] tweet was, what makes doctors experts on gun policy?”

“Doctors are not experts on gun policy unless they do their homework,” said Dr. Wintemute. “What doctors are experts on is the consequences of violence. If doctors choose to be, they can become experts on policy.”

When asked if advocating for gun control part of the mission of Affirm, Dr. Megan Ranney said no. “This is about stopping shooters before they shoot,” she said.

The NRA did not respond to “Sunday Morning”‘s repeated requests for an on-camera interview. However, in a phone conversation earlier this year, two representatives said the organization does support research into gun-related violence, but expressed concern that – say what they will – the ultimate goal of many who advocate such research is to take away the guns of responsible citizens.

Dr. Ronnie Stewart said, “We’re not well-served by this overly-simplistic view of simply two sides fighting each other. We have to work together. And that includes engaging firearm owners as a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.”

For these doctors, the issue isn’t about whose lane it is; it’s about what they can do.

As Dr. Stephanie Boone said, “I know that the house of medicine can fix this.”

And, Dr. Albert Osbahr added, “Enough is enough.”

       
For more info:

       
Story produced by Dustin Stephens.

This content was originally published here.

World Health Organization declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency | Science | AAAS

An Ebola victim was laid to rest Sunday in Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

World Health Organization declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which surfaced in August 2018, is an international emergency. The declaration raises the outbreak’s visibility and public health officials hope it will galvanize the international community to fight the spread of the frequently fatal disease.

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our effort,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “We all owe it to [current] responders … to shoulder more of the burden.”

As of today, Ebola has infected more than 2500 people in the DRC during the new outbreak, killing more than 1650. By calling the current situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, has placed it in a rare category that includes the 2009 flu pandemic, the Zika epidemic of 2016 and the 2-year Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa before it ended in 2016.

The declaration does not legally compel member states to do anything. “But it sounds a global alert,” says Lawrence Gostin, a global health lawyer at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During the West African epidemic, for instance, the U.S. Congress supplied $5.4 billion in the months after WHO’s emergency declaration.

Even as they declared the emergency, WHO officials attempted to tamp down reactions they said could harm both the DRC’s economy and efforts to stop the outbreak. “This is still a regional emergency and [in] no way a global threat,” said Robert Steffen, the chair of the emergency committee that recommended the PHEIC designation and an epidemiologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, during a press teleconference today. He added in a written statement: “It is … crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region.”

The DRC’s minister of health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, issued a statement accepting the declaration but expressing concern about its motives and the potential impact on his country. “The Ministry hopes that this decision is not the result of the many pressures from different stakeholder groups who wanted to use this statement as an opportunity to raise funds for humanitarian actors,” Kalenga wrote. He said such funds could come “despite potentially harmful and unpredictable consequences for the affected communities that depend greatly on cross-border trade for their survival.”

Steffen’s committee previously declined three times, most recently last month, to recommend that WHO declare the outbreak an international emergency. What changed, he said today, was the 14 July diagnosis of a case of Ebola in the large, internationally connected city of Goma, from which 15,000 people cross the border into Rwanda each day; the murders last weekend of two health workers in the city that is currently the Ebola epicenter of the DRC; a recurrence of intense transmission in that same city, Beni, meaning the disease now has a geographical reach of 500 kilometers; and the failure, after 11 months, to contain the outbreak.

Funding is also at issue. In June, WHO announced its funding to fight the outbreak fell $54 million short; today, accepting the emergency committee’s recommendation, Tedros said the funds needed to stop the virus “will run to the hundreds of millions. Unless the international community steps up and funds the response now, we will be paying for this outbreak for a long time to come.” (A written report from today’s meeting added: “The global community has not contributed sustainable and adequate technical assistance, human or financial resources for outbreak response.”)

When the first known Ebola case in Goma was diagnosed this week, concern spiked about international spread. In addition to being a metropolis of nearly 2 million people where Ebola may spread quickly and be difficult to trace, Goma has an international airport. Separately today, the government of Uganda, in conjunction with WHO, issued a statement describing the case of a fish trader who died of Ebola on 15 July; she had traveled from the DRC to Uganda on 11 July before returning to the DRC.

“Although there is no evidence yet of local transmission in either Goma or Uganda, these two events represent a concerning geographical expansion of the virus,” Tedros said. The risk of spread in DRC, [and] in the region, remains very high. And the risk of spread outside the region remains low.”

Last month, the outbreak’s first known Ebola fatalities outside the DRC were reported in a 5-year-old boy and his grandmother. The two had traveled from the DRC to Uganda after attending the funeral of a relative who died from Ebola.

Health officials are also worried about the safety of those battling the outbreak. Since January, WHO has recorded 198 attacks on health facilities and health workers in the DRC, killing seven, including two workers who were murdered during the night of 13-14 July in their home in Beni. The two northeastern DRC provinces that have experienced the outbreak are also plagued by poor infrastructure, political violence, and deep community distrust of health authorities.

Josie Golding, epidemics lead at the Wellcome Trust in London applauded the declaration of the public health emergency. “There is a grave risk of a major increase in numbers or spread to new locations. … This is perhaps the most complicated epidemic the world has ever had to face, yet still the response in the DRC remains overstretched and underfunded.”

Gostin called the declaration “long overdue. Until now the world has turned a blind eye to this epidemic. WHO has been soldiering on alone, bravely alone. And it’s beyond WHO’s capacity to deal with all of this violence and community distrust.”

PHEICs are governed by the International Health Regulations, a global agreement negotiated in the wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak. The regulations, in force since 2007, stipulate that a PHEIC should be declared when an “extraordinary” situation “constitute[s] a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “potentially require[s] a coordinated international response.”

WHO officials also today addressed the thorny conflict over whether a second, experimental Ebola vaccine, in addition to a Merck vaccine that has already been given to 161,000 people in the DRC, should be deployed there now. Officials worry that Merck’s stockpile—although it is being stretched by reducing the dose of the vaccine being given to each recipient—will be depleted before the outbreak ends. But on 11 July, Kalenga gave a firm “no,” rejecting the use of any new experimental vaccine in the country because of unproven effectiveness and the potential for public confusion. (A Johnson and Johnson [J&J] vaccine that has been shown to be safe in healthy volunteers is waiting in the wings and its use has been advocated for by several infectious disease experts.)

But today, Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said the organization still supports introducing the J&J vaccine if it can win “appropriate national approval.” “The Ministry has expressed concern about introducing a second vaccine … mainly around the issue of confusion in the local population. We are working through those issues about where and when the vaccine could be used,” Ryan said.

David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and formerly WHO’s assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, said today’s emergency declaration may have set a precedent. “The Emergency Committee appears to have interpreted the need for funding as one of the reasons a PHEIC was called—this has not been done in the past.”

This content was originally published here.

Smartphones, Tablets Cause Mental Health Issues in Kids as Young as Two

Our smartphones—we’d feel lost without them. They serve many purposes; sometimes they are a quick way to distract fussy or “bored” children and keep them occupied. There’s a growing amount of evidence, however, that the use of electronic devices can be harmful to children.

A recently published population-based study of over forty-four thousand participants looked at the effects of screen time on children aged two to seventeen years and is the newest to point to a very disturbing issue: 

“After 1 h/day of use, more hours of daily screen time were associated with lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and inability to finish tasks.” (1)

Screen time included television, smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices. On a scale of low use of one hour a day, moderate use at four hours a day, and high use at seven or more hours a day, the incidence of depression, anxiety, and mental illness was twice the rate for high users than low users. Even moderate users were found to experience lesser psychological well-being than low or no users of personal electronic devices. The observations in the study were consistent regardless of race, sex, and socioeconomic status.

This is particularly disturbing when you take into account that pre-teens spend an average of six hours a day in front of a screen and most teenagers average more than nine hours—and that’s apart from using computers for school work. (2)

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Poor Physical Health

The relationship between children’s screen time and poor physical health has been definitively established.

A great body of research has linked children’s excessive screen exposure to poor diet, childhood obesity, diabetes, poor sleep, and lowered general physical fitness. (3, 4, 5, 6) As we know, it’s impossible to separate physical from mental health. When someone spends an inordinate amount of time looking at a screen, necessary daily motor movement is reduced significantly. A comprehensive Canadian study found detrimental effects across the health board for children who engage in more than two hours of screen time on a daily basis and recommends no more time than that, in favor of physical activities. Children are not meant to be sedentary. (7)

Mental Health and Cognitive Development

Other research has found a relationship between impaired brain development in young children and exposure to electronic devices. The younger the child, the greater the relative rate of development; “the critical period” between birth and age three is when the neural network is most rapidly forming and laying the foundation for the rest of life. Children’s experience and environment during this time is extremely influential in how the brain grows. (8)

Higher amounts of screen time for young children has been directly associated with poor brain development and behavioral problems. (9, 10) In fact, more than two hours a day of screen time in pre-school children can delay mastery of language and cause underdeveloped memory, poor reading and math skills, and sometimes trouble distinguishing virtual from physical reality. (11)

Giving Your Child a Smartphone is Like Giving them Drugs

Giving your child a smartphone is like “giving them a gram of cocaine,” warns Mandy Saligari, a top addiction therapist working in the United Kingdom. (12)

Long periods of time spent messaging on Instagram, Snapchat or any other social app can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. Some studies have shown that “coming off” smartphones can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Screen Time and Adolescents

Pre-teenagers and teens are no less at risk for harm caused by too much screen time. As children get older, their use of electronics changes from entertainment and education to social interaction—often replacing face-to-face human contact. With increased use, many adolescents become addicted to their devices, as the brain releases dopamine (the pleasure hormone) with certain visual stimuli and engagement. (13) Ninety-one percent of teens access social media on at least an occasional basis, with more than half more than once a day. (14)

This excessive use of electronic devices can cause a hormone imbalance and affect neurotransmitters in the brain. This imbalance can affect behavioral and emotional responses; addicted adolescents can experience anxiety, depression, impulsivity, and insomnia. (15) “Facebook Depression” is a real condition characterized by mental health and self-esteem issues.

From an article published by the American Psychological Association:

“[Among students in grades 8, 10, and 12] psychological well-being (measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness) suddenly decreased after 2012. Adolescents who spent more time on electronic communication and screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on nonscreen activities (e.g., in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) had lower psychological well-being. Adolescents spending a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest.” (16)

Further, adolescents who spend a lot of time on their smartphones can develop “text neck”: a repetitive strain injury caused by hunching over a handheld device. Muscle pain in the neck, shoulders, and back can result from the commonly-assumed head-forward posture. The Cleveland Clinic reports that an increasing number of teens and pre-teens are being treated for pain associated with this condition. If left unaddressed, “text neck” can create other musculoskeletal problems, including respiratory, heart, and circulatory issues. (17

Additionally, physical manifestations of cell phone dependence or addiction can include the development of vision, hearing, and tactile problems. Common behaviors associated with other types of addiction (including substance abuse and gambling) have been linked to teens’ screen addiction as well. (18)

Screen Time Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following daily maximum screen time limits for children:

Digital media has its place in children’s lives, as long as it doesn’t replace real-life experience or interactive learning and personal relationships. The consequences of overuse can influence children’s physical and mental health in the short and long terms. 

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This content was originally published here.