Consumer Awareness for Health Care

For the most part, Americans are champ consumers. But we’re not such good shoppers when it comes to our own health. Studies show that Americans spend more time researching car purchases and new appliances than they do choosing doctors and health plans.

We’re not even sure we have options. Over half of all Americans said in a recent survey they did not feel confident that they could reduce the cost of health care by shopping around. And many of us are shy about negotiating with our doctors, or asking if an expensive test is really necessary.

Meanwhile, escalating health care costs have burdened both employees and employers. The average cost of a visit to the doctor is about $199; a visit to the ER costs about $922, according to AHRQ. About 25% of those visits are unnecessary. You can imagine how many billions of dollars this costs everyone every year.

You can start researching NOW to get coverage before the OPEN ENROLLMENT IS UP!!! 




New Blood Pressure Facts Revealed

New science is changing the way people 50 and older judge their blood pressure, and a slew of new studies on foods and hypertension suggest it may be easier than you thought to reduce high blood pressure.

For adults under 65, it’s that upper number in your blood pressure reading that may be the best indicator of future heart problems or even premature death. A normal reading is around 120/80. If that first number is 140 or higher, you have reason for concern.

For those 65 and older, however, it’s a trickier situation. Readings may vary more and doctors need to be careful in prescribing blood pressure medication for older patients.

One safe, effective way to decrease blood pressure for all age groups is to eat foods that work naturally to dilate blood vessels so the heart doesn’t have to work so hard.

Eat more of these six fabulous foods for an easy, delicious way to help lower your blood pressure numbers:


Holiday Health Facts

It’s that time of year again when we enjoy festive meals with family and friends, deck our halls with colorful decorations and listen to squeals of delight as our children open their brightly-wrapped presents.  To help ensure your kids have fun and stay safe this holiday, here are a few tips to remember.

Hard Facts

In 2012, 3,270 children 19 and under were seen in emergency rooms for injuries caused by nonelectric holiday decorations, like broken ornaments. In 2011, an estimated 193,200 children were treated in an emergency room for a toy-related injury. And in the same year, an estimated 136,314 children ages 19 and under were injured due to a fire or burn.

Top Tips

  • Natural trees look beautiful and smell great, but if they’re not watered regularly, needles can dry out and pose a potential fire hazard. Make sure your tree has plenty of water by checking it regularly.
  • Keep holiday candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep.
  • Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game this holiday season. It’s worth a second to read the instructions to make sure the gift is just right
  • Keep a special eye on small pieces, including button batteries that may be included in electronic toys. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
  • Kids love to reach, so to prevent burns from hot holiday food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.
  • Kids are curious and will want to play with the ornaments on the tree, so you might as well prepare. Move the ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks towards the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for the ones that are safer for young kids.

– See more at:



Find the Perfect Toy for the Right Age

  • Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it’s just right for your child.
  • Before you’ve settled on the perfect toy, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards.

Don’t Forget a Helmet for Riding Toys

  • If your children have their hearts set on a new bike, skateboard, scooter or other riding equipment, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun.
  • Learn more bike safety tips and watch our helmet safety video.

Store Toys After Play

  • After play time is over, use a bin or container to store toys for next time. Make sure there are no holes or hinges that could catch little fingers.

Sign Up to Receive Product Recalls

  • Safe Kids compiles product recalls specific to children and sends twice-monthly e-mail alerts for recent recalls. Sign-up for the latest recall information.
  • Go to for additional information about product recalls related to kids.


– See more at:

How Movember Got started in Australia by The Co-Founder of Movember!

Adam Garone: Healthier men, one moustache at a time!



Adam Garone is co-founder of Movember – the month-long fundraising event held every November where men grow a moustache (a ‘mo’), raising awareness and money for men’s health along the way.
Movember has grown from a group of 30 mates, who wanted to bring the mo back into fashion and also raise money for a good cause, into a world-wide phenomenon. In 2007, some 96,000 ‘Mo Bro’s’ across Australia joined the campaign, raising $14 million dollars for health charities, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue – the national depression initiative.
“We want to fundamentally change the way men think, talk and act about their health”

“We want to fundamentally change the way men think, talk and act about their health”, explains Adam. “The mo is a conversation starter; a vehicle for men to talk about their health. We get lots of emails from guys saying that they were suffering from depression and by growing a mo they were able to speak about it.” It’s a clever campaign which has struck a chord, not only in Australia, but also in New Zealand, the UK, Canada, Spain and other countries around the world.​

Last year Movember launched internationally into New Zealand. It raised over $850,000 for the New Zealand Prostate Council- the highest amount ever raised for the organisation by $835,000. Thrilled with the results, Adam and his team spent the best part of 2007 gearing up for international launches in the US, UK and Spain.

“We never anticipated it would have such a following in Australia, let alone globally”, says Adam, who is now based in the US as Movember’s North America Operations Director.

Adam began his career in the Australian Army before completing his Master of Marketing at MBS. After graduating, he spent seven years in the e-commerce industry, managing product development and online marketing for Vodafone and other Australian companies.

Though the original idea for Movember was sparked by a conversation among a group of friends who decided to ‘bring the mo back to its former glory’, Adam – a health and fitness buff – also recognised a gap in the market for men’s health. “While there are a lot of events for women’s health there was previously none for men’s.”
Furthermore, Australian charities hadn’t traditionally used the internet to raise money, which is where Adam’s online expertise came into play: Movember’s registration and sponsorship is all managed online, making it easy for Mo Bros to sign-up, and equally simple for sponsors to support the campaign.

Movember culminates in end-of-month parties where Mo Bros and Mo Sisters (women who encourage their friends and partners to support the cause) celebrate the end of the campaign and crown the Man of Movember.

-Story courtesy of


Who is Looking Out For Your food safety?


In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology and issues we’re attempting to do the same.

If it seems food safety issues are on the rise, that’s because they are. About 48 million people contract some form of food poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even in the midst of a government shutdown, crises like the current salmonella outbreak occur. But the question on many people’s minds is whether the federal investigators in charge of food safety are still around to protect the public, or if they too have been furloughed.

According to a Department of Health and Human Services contingency plan, the Food and Drug Administration “will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities” in the event of a government shutdown. However, that plan identifies approximately 700 FDA staff members who would remain to “inspect regulated products and manufacturers, conduct sample analysis on products and review imports offered for entry into the U.S. This number includes active investigators who will be needed to perform inspections.”

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has 9,633 employees, 8,415 of whom are still working. A little more than 1,200 employees are furloughed but field inspections of meat, poultry and egg products continues, according to Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety at the USDA.

Bottom line they are on the job and reporting to work,” Hagen told CNN. “The Foster Farms alert (related to the Salmonella outbreak) is a result of an ongoing investigation.”

“So despite the government shutdown, food safety inspections remain at, or nearly at, normal levels. But that may not be as safe as you think.

For example, at any given time the FDA is responsible for watching over some 167,000 domestic food facilities or farms, and another 421,000 facilities or farms outside the United States, according to FDA officials. But there are only about 1,100 inspectors to oversee these facilities, officials told CNN in 2012.

There is a third party audit system, where farms or facilities hire auditors to inspect their premises and provide scores. But some say the audit system is full of conflicts of interest; shortly before Jensen Farms in Colorado caused a listeria outbreak that killed 30 people, a private inspection company’s auditor gave them a “superior” grade, even after noting that they had no anti-microbial solution in place to clean their cantaloupes.

Here is a breakdown of each of the government agencies in charge of food safety:

Stands for: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food Safety Role: In the food safety chain, the agency’s mission is to protect the American public from health threats, usually in the form of food-borne illness.

The CDC works in tandem with the Food and Drug Administration to investigate individual cases and outbreaks of food-borne illness (primarily bacteria-based like listeria, salmonella and E. coli) and trace them back to their origin.

The CDC started the Foodborne Diseases Centers for Outbreak Response Enhancement (FoodCORE) in 2009 to develop and perfect methods to detect, investigate, respond to, and control multi-state outbreaks of food-borne diseases. Centers currently exist in Connecticut, Ohio, New York City, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.

Stands for: Food and Drug Administration
Food Safety Role: The FDA regulates all food not overseen by the USDA, which inspects poultry, meat and processed egg products. The FDA has a multi-faceted role in the food safety chain, which can be broken down like this:

Food defense: The FDA works with other governmental agencies and private businesses to prevent and reduce the risk of malicious attacks on the food system from terrorists, criminals, counterfeiters and others who would seek to harm the public. The FDA provides a tool for private businesses to use to build their own defense plan.

Recalls: The FDA keeps the public apprised of voluntary recalls by food companies, and recently gained the authority to issue mandatory recalls of foods that have a “reasonable probability” of being adulterated or misbranded and could cause serious illness or death to humans or animals.

Emergencies: In times of emergencies and weather crises like flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes or power outages, the FDA and CDC provide information and guidelines for food storage and disposal.

Outbreaks: The Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (A different CORE than the aforementioned CDC FoodCORE) network manages outbreak response, as well as monitoring activities after an illness has been identified. It was designed to streamline efforts across the agency, and develop strategies to prevent and identify future threats to the food system.

Labeling: The FDA is responsible for assuring that foods sold in the United States are safe, wholesome and properly labeled. This applies to foods produced domestically, as well as foods from foreign countries, and is overseen by the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

Stands for: Food Safety and Inspection Service
Food Safety Role:: FSIS is the public health agency in the USDA in charge of making sure that the nation’s commercial supply of meat (excluding game meats), poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. This is accomplished several ways.

Inspections: FSIS inspectors inspect animal carcasses before and after slaughter to ensure that no diseases are present, take samples for inspection, monitor the safety of animal feed and medications and enforce regulations such as temperature control, trimming and sanitation procedures.

At egg production facilities, FSIS agents inspect all egg products, with and without added ingredients, including whole eggs, whites, yolks, and various blends – with or without non-egg ingredients – that are processed and pasteurized. FDA, rather than FSIS is responsible for the inspection of egg substitutes, imitation eggs, and similar products.

Recalls: When FSIS determines that a food item poses a risk to the public, the agency forms a committee to determine if a recall is needed, and collaborates with producers to make sure that the product is contained, and that the public has received adequate warning via the media and the FSIS website. If a risk is posed, but it is determined that a recall is not needed, FSIS will issue a public health alert.

Labeling: FSIS develops and provides labeling guidance, policies and inspection methods in order to protect consumers from misbranded and economically adulterated meat, poultry, and egg products. This is to ensure that all labels contain accurate, truthful information.

Stands for: United States Department of Agriculture
Food Safety Role: The USDA has primary responsibility for the safety of meat, poultry and certain egg products. The agency’s authority is regulated by: the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, the Egg Products Inspection Act and the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act.

The agency is also responsible for inspecting all meat, poultry and egg products sold in interstate commerce, and re-inspecting imported meat, poultry and egg products to makes sure they meet United States safety standards. The USDA inspects eggs in processing plants before and after they are broken for further processing. FSIS falls under the governance of the USDA.

The USDA is the leader in setting the federal policies that determine national standards for food safety, and has also maintained the Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-674-6854) since 1985. The agency introduced in 2004, and mobile Ask Karen on 2011 and claims the combined sites now have a nearly 99 percent self-service rate, meaning that nearly all users are able to find the answers to their questions almost immediately.

Stands for: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Marine Fisheries Service
Food Safety Role: The FDA is the primary agency responsible for ensuring the safety, wholesomeness, and proper labeling of domestic and imported seafood products. But the NMFS, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, conducts, a voluntary, fee-based seafood inspection and grading service under NOAA. This program focuses on marketing and quality attributes of domestic fish and shellfish, per the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. These services are provided nationwide, in U.S. territories and in foreign countries.

Stands for: Department of Health and Human Services
Food Safety Role: HHS is the parent organization of the FDA and the National Institutes of Health. The agency is currently working in collaboration with federal food safety partners and the President’s Food Safety Working Group (FSWG), to develop a flexible and responsive food safety system.

The stated goals of the FSWG include prioritizing prevention, strengthening surveillance and enforcement and improving response and recovery. The group is chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

HHS also maintains the website, which consolidates recalls, alerts, food safety and food poisoning information, as information about reporting food problems.

Consumer resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts
FDA Food Safety
United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Education


Diet Pill Supplement OxyElite Linked to Liver Failure

OxyElite Pro

Health officials are asking stores to pull a fat-burning supplement from shelves after officials linked it to cases of liver failure and acute hepatitis in 29 people.

Two people have undergone liver transplants and one person has died, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health. Twenty-four of the people who fell ill reported using OxyElite Pro before being diagnosed; the patients had no other medication or supplement in common.

While the investigation is ongoing, health officials advised people to “discontinue use of the product at this time.” Hawaii investigators are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Anyone who develops symptoms such as abdominal pain or discomfort, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting, and yellow skin or eyes should consult their doctor immediately,” Health Director Loretta Fuddy said in a statement.

OxyElite Pro is sold nationwide. Because it is a dietary supplement, it did not have to be approved by the FDA before going to market.

USPlabs, the company that produces OxyElite Pro, said it stands by the safety of all its products, but “out of an abundance of caution,” the company is stopping domestic distribution of OxyElite Pro with the purple top and OxyElite Pro Super Thermo Powder.

“The company continues to believe these versions are safe and are not the cause of the cluster of liver toxicity that has occurred in Hawaii,” USPlabs said in a statement.

USPlabs informed the FDA that counterfeit versions of OxyElite Pro have been circulating in the United States, according to an advisory issued by the FDA. The agency is investigating whether counterfeit products are linked to any of the hepatitis cases.

USPlabs once also produced a product called OxyElite Pro with DMAA, but that has not been manufactured or distributed since earlier this year, the company said.

In April, the FDA said it was using “all available tools at its disposal” to eliminate supplements containing the stimulant dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, from the market. The agency said DMAA can cause increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, chest tightening, cardiovascular problems and even heart attacks.

FDA spokeswoman Tamara Ward told CNN at the time that 11 companies had received warning letters from the FDA over the past year asking them to stop marketing products that contain DMAA. All but one — USPlabs — agreed to stop using DMAA in supplements.

– CNN Health update

GOOD NEWS: Teenagers Are Getting More Exercise and Vegetables


Teenagers are exercising more, consuming less sugar and eating more fruits and vegetables, a trend that may be contributing to a leveling off of obesity rates, a new study shows.

The findings suggest that aggressive anti-obesity messages aimed at children may be starting to make a difference, albeit a small one. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

Still, most teenagers were falling short of federal recommendations, which call for children to get at least an hour of physical activity daily, a central message of Michelle Obama’s signature “Let’s Move” campaign. The new data showed that most children engaged in an hour of exercise fewer than five days a week and spent more than two hours a day watching television, chatting online and playing video games.

The numbers also revealed something of an age and racial divide. Younger children had the highest levels of physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption. But as children got older, the frequency of eating junk foods and engaging in sedentary behaviors crept up, along with average body mass index, a crude measure of obesity.

Black and Hispanic adolescents lagged behind whites on almost every measure of progress, even after the researchers tried to take into account the influence of socioeconomic factors.

“In some ways you can interpret what we found positively by saying we’re beginning to bend the curve, and hopefully we’ll start seeing a downward trend in obesity,” said Dr. Ronald J. Iannotti, a study author and chair of the department of exercise and health sciences at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “But there’s large room for improvement.”

The study analyzed data from a national survey of tens of thousands of schoolchildren in grades 6 through 10, which was carried out once every four years from roughly 2001 to 2010.

Childhood obesity rates, which have more than doubled since 1980, rose slightly between 2001 and 2006, then leveled off by 2010, at roughly 13 percent. The proportion of those who were overweight also plateaued at around 17 percent.

Obesity tends to follow children into adulthood, raising the risk of heart disease and cancer as well as Type 2 diabetes, a disease that has also risen sharply among children.

In the past year, other studies have hinted at improvements in the obesity rate among younger children, with some even showing a decline in some cities. But little was known about the extent to which physical and dietary behaviors might have played a role.

The new study found that at the same time obesity and overweight appeared to level off, there were, on average, very slight increases in physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption and the eating of breakfast, another habit public health officials consider a marker of healthy behavior.

The opposite trend was seen for behaviors that are widely discouraged. The amount of time teenagers spent watching television fell from about three hours a day in 2001 to less than two-and-a-half hours by 2010. Teenagers also reported drinking slightly fewer soft drinks and eating less candy.

Boys overall reported more physical activity than girls, but they also watched more television and played more video games and ate fewer fruits and vegetables.

One expert who was not involved in the study, David B. Allison, the director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said it was impossible from the data to deduce a cause and effect, since any number of factors that could influence obesity rates may have changed over time.

“We should be very cautious about drawing any attributions about causes based on time trend data,” Dr. Allison said.

But Dr. Iannotti said the findings seemed to suggest a pattern. “I think the public health message is beginning to be accepted,” he said.


info by By ANAHAD O’CONNOR of The NY Times



CDC Sounds Alarm on Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Report cites overuse of antibiotics as key to the life-threatening problem.

info by Dennis Thompson, HealthDay News

MONDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News)  More than 2 million people come down with infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year in the United States, leading to at least 23,000 deaths, according to a report released Monday by federal health officials.

The report marks the first time that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has performed a comprehensive analysis of the impact on society from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, said Dr. Steve Solomon, director of the agency’s Office of Antimicrobial Resistance.

“This is scary stuff, and we want people to know about it,” he said.

The report outlines how antibiotic resistance occurs in patients and spreads through the community. It also lists medical procedures that have become more dangerous because of these bacteria. Those procedures include dialysis, chemotherapy, complex surgery and organ transplants.

Antibiotic overuse is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance, according to the report. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs, but as many as half of those prescriptions are either not needed or not the best course of treatment for the patient, the report said.

“Patients need to understand that antibiotics are not the solution for every illness,” Solomon said. “It’s important that people not take antibiotics when they aren’t necessary. It contributes to resistance, and it also has consequences to the patient in the form of side effects.”

The CDC also faulted the use of antibiotics in food animals to prevent, control and treat disease, and to promote their growth. “The use of antibiotics for promoting growth is not necessary, and the practice should be phased out,” the report stated.

The centerpiece of the CDC report is a threat-level assessment for 18 bacteria- and antibiotic-related illnesses, broken down into three categories: urgent, serious and concerning.

Three antibiotic-related illnesses are ranked as urgent threats demanding immediate attention:

  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae , or CRE, are a family of bacteria that have developed remarkable drug resistance in recent years. Half the people who get bloodstream infections from CRE die. About 9,300 hospital infections of CRE occur each year. “A lot of those bacteria are becoming resistant to every antibiotic we have,” Solomon said of CRE. “We are very concerned about significant spread over the next few years.”
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae — the bacteria that causes gonorrhea — are showing signs of resistance to the cephalosporin family of antibiotics. The CDC estimated that about one-third of the 820,000 annual gonorrhea infections involve strains that have become antibiotic-resistant. “The cephalosporins are really the last line of defense we have against gonorrhea,” Solomon said. “It has shown its ability to become resistant to every antibiotic we throw at it. If we lost those — if this cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea spreads — that disease is going to be untreatable.”
  • Clostridium difficile is bacteria that, although not antibiotic resistant, poses an urgent threat because it causes diarrhea linked to at least 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 American deaths each year. C. difficile infections occur because of antibiotic use that destroys the good bacteria in people’s bodies that protect against illness. “Because there has not been as much success in addressing the problem of antibiotic overuse, we are flagging that as an urgent problem because it has to be brought under control,” Solomon said.

Twelve infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria are listed as serious, and three as concerning. For each bacteria threat, the CDC offers guidance for what healthcare industry officials, medical professionals and the general public can do to limit its spread.

Infections by antibiotic-resistant bacteria add as much as $20 billion in excess direct health-care costs, with additional costs for lost productivity as high as $35 billion a year, according to the report.

In its report, the CDC outlined a four-pronged strategy for combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria:

  • Preventing infections and preventing the spread of resistance.
  • Tracking resistant bacteria.
  • Improving the use of existing antibiotics.
  • Promoting the development of new antibiotics and new diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria.

“As different as these problems are, the same strategies to address them are shared in common,” Solomon said. “By helping people understand that those four core strategies are shared among the ways we address all of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we put it all in context and provide a glimpse of the big picture.”

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said he appreciates the report’s frank, down-to-earth manner.

“[The report] gives us a handle. Something we can use to talk with the public,” he said. “Obviously, there is an enormous risk to the health of the public by antibiotic resistance, and it’s going to take a multiple-sector response to resolving it.”

Gut bacteria may be key to fighting obesity

Different kinds of bacteria that live inside the gut can help spur obesity or protect against it, according to new research from scientists at Washington University in St. Louis.

They transplanted intestinal germs from fat or lean people into mice and watched the rodents change.

And what they ate determined whether the good germs could move in and do their job.


Thursday’s report raises the possibility of one day turning gut bacteria into personalized fat-fighting therapies, and it may help explain why some people have a harder time losing weight than others do.

“It’s an important player,” said Dr. David Relman of Stanford University, who also studies how gut bacteria influence health but wasn’t involved in the new research. “This paper says that diet and microbes are necessary companions in all of this. They literally and figuratively feed each other.”

The research was reported in the journal Science.

We all develop with an essentially sterile digestive tract. Bacteria rapidly move in starting at birth — bugs that we pick up from mom and dad, the environment, first foods. Ultimately, the intestine teems with hundreds of species, populations that differ in people with varying health. Overweight people harbor different types and amounts of gut bacteria than lean people, for example. The gut bacteria we pick up as children can stick with us for decades, although their makeup changes when people lose weight, previous studies have shown.

Clearly, what you eat and how much you move are key to how much you weigh. But are those bacterial differences a contributing cause of obesity, rather than simply the result of it? If so, which bugs are to blame, and might it be possible to switch out the bad actors?

To start finding out, Washington University graduate student Vanessa Ridaura took gut bacteria from eight humans — four pairs of twins that each included one obese sibling and one lean sibling. One pair of twins was identical, ruling out an inherited explanation for their different weights. Using twins also guaranteed similar childhood environments and diets.

She transplanted the human microbes into the intestines of young mice that had been raised germ-free.

The mice who received gut bacteria from the obese people gained more weight — and experienced unhealthy metabolic changes — even though they didn’t eat more than the mice who received germs from the lean twins, said study senior author Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, director of Washington University’s Center of Genome Sciences and Systems Biology.

“This wasn’t attributable to differences in the amount of food they consumed, so there was something in the microbiota that was able to transmit this trait,” Gordon said in a statement. “Our question became: What were the components responsible?”

Then came what Gordon calls the “battle of the microbes.” Mice that harbored gut bacteria from a lean person were put in the same cages as mice that harbored the obesity-prone germs. The research team took advantage of an icky fact of rodent life: Mice are coprophagic — or eat feces — so presumably they could easily swap intestinal bugs.

What happened was a surprise. Certain bacteria from the lean mice invaded the intestines of the fatter mice, and their weight and metabolism improved. But the trade was one-way — the lean mice weren’t affected.

Moreover, the fatter mice got the bacterial benefit only when they were fed a low-fat, high-fiber diet. When Ridaura substituted the higher-fat, lower-fiber diet typical of Americans, the protective bug swap didn’t occur.




Why? Gordon already knew from human studies that obese people harbor less diverse gut bacteria. “It was almost as if there were potential job vacancies” in their intestines that the lean don’t have, he explained.

Sure enough, a closer look at the mice that benefited from the bug swap suggests a specific type of bacteria, from a family named Bacteroidetes, moved into previously unoccupied niches in their colons — if the rodents ate right.

Robert W. Karp, a program director for genetics and genomics at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, told the New York Timesof the new study, “This is all weird and wonderful.”

How might those findings translate to people? For a particularly hard-to-treat diarrheal infection, doctors sometimes transplant stool from a healthy person into the sick person’s intestine. Some scientists wonder if fecal transplants from the lean to the fat might treat obesity, too.

But Gordon foresees a less invasive alternative: Determining the best combinations of intestinal bacteria to match a person’s diet, and then growing those bugs in sterile lab dishes – like this study could – and turning them into pills. He estimates such an attempt would take at least five more years of research.

“”In the future, the nutritional value and the effects of food will involve significant consideration of our microbiota–and developing healthy, nutritious foods will be done from the inside-out, not just the outside-in,” said Gordon.


2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Surgeon Accused of Faking Operations Surrenders Medical License



An orthopedic surgeon accused of faking operations surrendered his medical license voluntarily Monday and has admitted to guilt in some of the cases against him, according to New York State court documents.

Dr. Spyros Panos, who formerly worked for the Mid Hudson Medical Group in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., surrendered his license to practice medicine in New York this week following charges of medical misconduct. Panos faced at least 250 counts brought by the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct involving fraud and negligence between 2007 and 2011, the court order showed.

Doctor Accused of Faking Surgeries

Panos, 44, and his attorneys at Feldman, Kleidman & Coffey did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment. Representatives for the Mid Hudson Medical Group also failed to return calls for comment.

Larry Hughes, a spokesman for Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, where Panos performed many of the surgeries under investigation, said he was unaware of the surrender filing and couldn’t comment.

In his response to the license surrender order, Panos admitted that he failed to render appropriate care, didn’t maintain accurate medical records and submitted bills for seven former patients for which he was not entitled to payment. The identities of the patients were redacted from court documents to maintain their privacy.

The response also stated that Panos cannot “successfully defend against” at least one alleged act of misconduct “in full satisfaction of the charges” and that the surrender allows him to “resolve this matter without the various risks and burdens of a hearing on the merits.”

“It is a rare occurrence for the OPMC to put this type of pressure on a physician and for the physician to lose his license,” said J.T. Wisell, an attorney for 154 of the more than 250 plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits accusing Panos of performing botched or unnecessary surgeries, or pretending to perform surgeries that never actually took place.

The Federation of State Medical Boards, which represents 70 state medical boards, reported that of the three quarter of a million practicing physicians in the United States, only 1,905 of them lost their licenses to practice medicine in 2011. Of the more than 88,000 physicians who practiced in New York State that same year, just 185 — less than one percent — lost their licenses.

Fake Surgeries Are Rare but Hard to Spot

Panos was terminated from his employer, Mid Hudson Medical Group, in 2011 and is also the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, although he has not been charged with a criminal offense, Wisell said.

His alleged victims say they are grateful that he’s out of business, at least in New York.

“I’m glad someone finally stopped him,” said Debra Cole, a retired telephone company technician who is suing Panos for allegedly performing two faked knee surgeries and causing her years of unnecessary pain. “To do everything he’s allegedly done and to be able to continue to operate on other people, it was just terrible.”

Debra Nenni McNamee, whose mother, Constance Nenni, died less than 24-hours after having an alleged “phantom” knee surgery performed by Panos said she hoped Panos’ license surrender would start a domino effect.

“Now maybe the other medical professionals and facilities involved who allowed him to do what he did will be held accountable or come forward to prove they are not guilty,” she said.

Arthur Caplin, the director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center and a former non-MD representative with the New York State medical licensing board, said he also found it troubling that others besides Panos aren’t under investigation.

“You can’t perform this many suspect surgeries without the cooperation of many other people,” he said.

Brian Brown, McNamee’s attorney, said Panos used patients like her mother as human cash registers, scheduling as many as 22 surgeries a day. The average orthopedic surgeon typically schedules no more than 32 procedures a month, according to American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons statistics.

Attorneys Brown and Wisell noted that clients with potential cases against Panos began flooding their offices with calls immediately after journalist Sarah Bradshaw wrote about the first few lawsuits for the Poughkeepsie Journal in September 2010. Bradshaw said she was tipped off to the litigation from an anonymous source.

Wisell said the latest developments should help the plaintiffs’ cases finally move forward after two years. But the lawsuits are by no means a slam dunk because there is still a legal stay in place that prevents plantiff’s attorneys from taking sworn statements from any employee and former employee of the Mid Hudson Medical Group or any hospital where Panos practiced, Wisell said.

The stay was put in place for Panos to avoid self incrimination in the federal cases of fraud and billing irregularities, Wisell said. Mid Hudson Medical Group and the various hospitals and surgical centers where Panos practiced have submitted billing records, surgical records and surgical schedule logs to plantiff’s lawyers but under the stay, are not yet required to directly respond to civil actions, Wisell said.

Brown agreed, stating, “While this demonstrates that Dr. Panos is finally willing to admit some guilt, it is clear from their legal strategy that his former medical-group, MHMG, the hospitals involved and their legal team are not. So they shamelessly continue to drag the victims through a tortured litigation process and avoid taking simple responsibility for their profit-driven failures.”

Wisell also noted that Panos still has a license to practice medicine in Virginia. While he is legally obligated to keep the Virginia state medical board up to date about the legal consequences in New York, Wisell said it could take some time before any action was taken and there is no federal mandate that stops Panos from practicing medicine in other states.

McNamee said taking away Panos’ license is a start, but it’s not enough.

“He wakes up every morning spending the illegal funds he collected while his victims wake up every day in pain,” McNamee said. “In my mother’s case, all we have are memories.”

Eleven States Get Failing Grades for Nursing Home Care

More than one-and-a-half million Americans live in nursing homes, but the quality of care varies greatly. A report out Friday shows, for the first time, which states do a good job of caring for seniors and which fail to ensure that they won’t be neglected or abused.

Minnie Graham lived in a nursing home outside Dallas for about a year when her family noticed bruises on her, then two black eyes.
Minnie Graham lived in a nursing home outside Dallas for about a year when her family noticed bruises on her, then two black eyes./ CBS News

Minnie Graham was a great-grandmother. At 97, she suffered from dementia.

“She was a fine Christian woman,” her granddaughter, Shirley Ballard, says. “And very loving. She would do anything for anybody.”

Graham lived in a nursing home outside Dallas for about a year when her family noticed bruises on her, then two black eyes.”They said she fell out of her wheel chair,” Ballard says, adding she “absolutely” did not believe that had happened.

Graham’s family placed a clock, equipped with a hidden camera, in her bedroom, recording video for weeks. Graham resisted being changed; a nursing aide mocked her, pulled, pushed, then what sounds like a slap can be heard. The video also caught another aide shoving her.

“That should never happen to people, ever, in nursing homes, anywhere,” says Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care.

His nonprofit elder advocacy group released what it says is the first comprehensive state-by-state reviewof nursing home care. It ranks and grades states based on 2012 federal data combining staffing, inspections, deficiencies and complaints.

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States that got As: Alaska, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Oregon, Maine, Utah, Idaho, South Dakota and North Dakota.

States that got Fs: Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Michigan, Nevada, Illinois and Iowa.

In Oklahoma, a hidden video caught a nursing assistant shoving a glove in a 96-year-old woman’s mouth. In Ohio, which lacks staff, video caught a caregiver flinging a senior onto her bed.

Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care
Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care/ CBS News

“You’ve got to be able to have a good vetting process to be able to determine which people, the caregivers, are going to treat the residents with dignity and respect,” Lee says. “You’ve got to hire the right people. State officials need to hold nursing homes accountable. And nursing homes need to hold themselves accountable and step up and start providing better care.”

According to the report, just seven states provided nursing home residents with more than one hour of professional nursing care daily. States that did the best had larger and more experienced staff.

We tried to speak with Minnie Graham’s nursing aides about what the hidden camera recorded. They declined. Both were fired and arrested; their cases are still pending. Minnie Graham died within weeks of the video.

She just gave up on life,” Ballard says. “She didn’t want to live anymore, and then to be treated like that in her last days –.”

Advocates for the elderly say improvements must be made soon. The nursing home population is expected to increase 40 percent over the next decade.


(CBS News)

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