No Return of Pulses in the Field Portends Dismal Survival.


This study’s findings support use of prehospital termination-of-resuscitation protocols.

Prehospital cardiac arrest patients who do not achieve return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) continue to be transported to the hospital despite the existence of prehospital termination-of-resuscitation protocols (JW Emerg Med Oct 17 2008). To determine survival rates in such patients, researchers analyzed data from two urban emergency medical service systems for patients who experienced cardiac arrest presumed to be of medical etiology from 2008 to 2010.

Among 2483 patients in whom resuscitation was attempted, survival to hospital discharge was 6.6%. ROSC in the field occurred in 36% of patients. Survival rates were 17.2% in patients with ROSC in the field versus 0.7% in those without ROSC. None of the 11 patients who survived without ROSC in the field had an initial rhythm of asystole.

Comment: If termination-of-resuscitation protocols that are based on ROSC had been followed in this study, the transport rate would have been halved. Although the authors’ recommendation for no transport of patients without field ROSC or shockable rhythm would save critical resources and reduce risks to prehospital providers and the public from collisions, nonmedical indications such as family wishes sometimes mandate transport of nonviable patients. When such patients are transported, these data are useful for receiving-hospital emergency physicians to determine whether to continue resuscitative efforts on arrival.

Source: Journal Watch Emergency Medicine .

9 genes found that affect bones.


Australian and UK scientists have shown that a large percentage of genes are likely to affect bone strength, potentially around 2,000 of the 21,000 genes in our bodies.

Identifying genes that lead to osteoporosis is an important first step in helping to treat this serious condition, which affects over 2 million Australians.

Out of 100 ‘knockout mice’, which have a gene disabled, the first generated on a ‘pipeline’ set up by the UK’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (as part of a global effort to knockout every gene in the genome one by one) the scientists identified 9 genes that appear to weaken or strengthen bone.

Professor Peter Croucher from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in collaboration with Dr Duncan Bassett and Professor Graham Williams from Imperial College London and colleagues at the Sanger Institute, used micro-CT and digital x-ray microradiography in combination with statistics and load bearing experiments to measure whether or not each of the first 100 genes impacted upon bone. Their results are published in PLoS Genetics, now online.

“We wanted to see what screening the first 100 knockout mice off the pipeline would tell us about the impact of these genes on bone, and whether or not our approach was an effective one,” said Professor Peter Croucher.

“The approach was successful in that we identified 9 genes that had not previously been described – each of which appeared to be important in regulating our skeleton. This suggests that roughly 8-10% of all genes may be involved in some way.”

“We believe a systematic screening of knockout mice in this way will give us the scale of data we need to define the structural and functional variations in genes that determine bone strength.”

CT scans and microradiography give us the structural information we need, and fracturing the bones afterwards tells us whether or not there is an increase or a decrease in the propensity to fracture. That’s the functional endpoint.”

“This has allowed us to describe four functional classifications of bone. Normal bone is strong and flexible, whereas abnormal bone can be strong but brittle, or weak and brittle, or weak but flexible.”

“At the moment, we’re trying to understand the potential role of the 9 genes we’ve just identified. Our results suggest that if you were to block some of them, it would result in higher bone mass and stronger bones. We’ll be making antibodies to those genes to test our results.”

“We believe that many genes will be individual players in complex pathways – so they will act as pointers to those pathways, and obviously some pathways will be much more important than others. It’s our aim to pinpoint the critical pathways.”

The study participants will be applying to The Wellcome Trust to fund the screening of the next 800-1000 genes off the Sanger Institute pipeline, over a period of 5 years.

Source: ttp://www.garvan.org.au

 

 

The therapeutic potential of ex vivo expanded CD133+ cells derived from human peripheral blood for peripheral nerve injuries.


CD133+ cells have the potential to enhance histological and functional recovery from peripheral nerve injury. However, the number of CD133+ cells safely obtained from human peripheral blood is extremely limited. To address this issue, the authors expanded CD133+ cells derived from human peripheral blood using the serum-free expansion culture method and transplanted these ex vivo expanded cells into a model of sciatic nerve defect in rats. The purpose of this study was to determine the potential of ex vivo expanded CD133+ cells to induce or enhance the repair of injured peripheral nerves.

Methods

Phosphate-buffered saline (PBS group [Group 1]), 105 fresh CD133+ cells (fresh group [Group 2]), 105 ex vivo expanded CD133+ cells (expansion group [Group 3]), or 104 fresh CD133+ cells (low-dose group [Group 4]) embedded in atelocollagen gel were transplanted into a silicone tube that was then used to bridge a 15-mm defect in the sciatic nerve of athymic rats (10 animals per group). At 8 weeks postsurgery, histological and functional evaluations of the regenerated tissues were performed.

Results

After 1 week of expansion culture, the number of cells increased 9.6 ± 3.3–fold. Based on the fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis, it was demonstrated that the initial freshly isolated CD133+ cell population contained 93.22% ± 0.30% CD133+ cells and further confirmed that the expanded cells had a purity of 59.02% ± 1.58% CD133+ cells. However, the histologically and functionally regenerated nerves bridging the defects were recognized in all rats in Groups 2 and 3 and in 6 of 10 rats in Group 4. The nerves did not regenerate to bridge the defect in any of the rats in Group 1.

Conclusions

The authors’ results show that ex vivo expanded CD133+ cells derived from human peripheral blood have a therapeutic potential similar to fresh CD133+ cells for peripheral nerve injuries. The ex vivo procedure that can be used to expand CD133+ cells without reducing their function represents a novel method for developing cell therapy for nerve defects in a clinical setting.

Source: Journal of Neurosurgery.

 

Computed tomography angiography: improving diagnostic yield and cost effectiveness in the initial evaluation of spontaneous nonsubarachnoid intracerebral hemorrhage.


Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is increasingly used as a screening tool in the investigation of spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). However, CTA carries additional costs and risks, necessitating its judicious use. The authors hypothesized that subsets of patients with nontraumatic, nonsubarachnoid ICH are unlikely to benefit from CTA as part of the diagnostic workup and that particular patient risk factors may be used to increase the yield of CTA in the detection of vascular sources.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 1376 patients admitted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with ICH over an 8-year period. Patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage, hemorrhagic conversion of ischemic infarcts, trauma, and known prior malignancy were excluded from the analysis, resulting in 257 patients for final analysis. Records were reviewed for medical risk factors, hemorrhage location, and correlation of CTA findings with final diagnosis. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the combined effects of baseline variables of interest. Model selection was conducted using the stepwise method with p = 0.10 as the significance level for variable entry and p = 0.05 the significance level for variable retention.

Results

Computed tomography angiography studies detected vascular pathology in 34 patients (13.2%). Patient characteristics that were associated with a significantly higher likelihood of identifying a structural vascular lesion as the source of hemorrhage included patient age younger than 65 years (OR = 16.36, p = 0.0039), female sex (OR = 14.9, p = 0.0126), nonsmokers (OR = 103.8, p = 0.0008), patients with intraventricular hemorrhage (OR = 9.42, p = 0.0379), and patients without hypertension (OR = 515.78, p < 0.0001). Patients who were older than 65 years of age, with a history of hypertension, and hemorrhage located in the cerebellum or basal ganglia were never found to have an identified structural source of hemorrhage on CTA.

Conclusions

Patient characteristics and risk factors are important considerations when ordering diagnostic tests in the workup of nonsubarachnoid, nontraumatic spontaneous ICH. Although CTA is an accurate diagnostic examination, it can usually be omitted in the workup of patients with the described characteristics. The use of this algorithm has the potential to increase the yield, and thus the safety and cost effectiveness, of this diagnostic tool.

Source: Journal of Neurosurgery.

 

Measuring surgical outcomes in neurosurgery: implementation, analysis, and auditing a prospective series of more than 5000 procedures.


Health care reform debate includes discussions regarding outcomes of surgical interventions. Yet quality of medical care, when judged as a health outcome, is difficult to define because of impediments affecting accuracy in data collection, analysis, and reporting. In this prospective study, the authors report the outcomes for neurosurgical treatment based on point-of-care interactions recorded in the electronic medical record (EMR).

Methods

The authors’ neurosurgery practice collected outcome data for 19 physicians and ancillary personnel using the EMR. Data were analyzed for 5361 consecutive surgical cases, either elective or emergency procedures, performed during 2009 at multiple hospitals, offices, and an ambulatory spine surgery center. Main outcomes included complications, length of stay (LOS), and discharge disposition for all patients and for certain frequently performed procedures. Physicians, nurses, and other medical staff used validated scales to record the hospital LOS, complications, disposition at discharge, and return to work.

Results

Of the 5361 surgical procedures performed, two-thirds were spinal procedures and one-third were cranial procedures. Organization-wide compliance with reporting rates of major complications improved throughout the year, from 80.7% in the first quarter to 90.3% in the fourth quarter. Auditing showed that rates of unreported complications decreased from 11% in the first quarter to 4% in the fourth quarter. Complication data were available for 4593 procedures (85.7%); of these, no complications were reported in 4367 (95.1%). Discharge dispositions reported were home in 86.2%, rehabilitation center in 8.9%, and nursing home in 2.5%. Major complications included culture-proven infection in 0.61%, CSF leak in 0.89%, reoperation within the same hospitalization in 0.38%, and new neurological deficits in 0.77%. For the commonly performed procedures, the median hospital LOS was 3 days for craniotomy for aneurysm or intraaxial tumor and less than 1 day for angiogram, anterior cervical discectomy with fusion, or lumbar discectomy.

Conclusions

With prospectively collected outcome data for more than 5000 surgeries, the authors achieved their primary end point of institution-wide compliance and data accuracy. Components of this process included staged implementation with physician pilot studies and oversight, nurse participation, point-of-service data capture, EMR form modification, data auditing, and confidential surgeon reports.

Source: Journal of Neurosurgery.

 

 

 

 

JUPITER trial.


Benefits of statin therapy outweigh risk for diabetes August 10, 2012 On March 1, 2012, after experts revealed that statin therapy may increase the risk for diabetes, the FDA added a warning to all statin labels. However, new data from the JUPITER trial suggest that the benefits of statin therapy outweigh the risk for diabetes. See Also Exercise may reverse increasing CV risk in patients with … Lower coronary flow during hypoglycemia ups CV risk for type … Statin linked to increased myalgia The Justification for Use of statins in Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin (JUPITER) trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 17,603 men and women without previous cardiovascular disease (CVD) or diabetes. Paul M. Ridker, MD, MPH, the Eugene Braunwald professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, a translational research unit at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and colleagues sought to determine whether rosuvastatin 20 mg (Crestor, AstraZeneca) compared with placebo could decrease the rate of first-ever cardiovascular events in patients with LDL ,130 mg/dL and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) ≥2 mg/L. Focus was also emphasized on the effects of rosuvastatin on incident type 2 diabetes. Patients were randomly assigned to rosuvastatin 20 mg or placebo and were followed for up to 5 years for the primary endpoint (MI, stroke, admission to hospital for unstable angina, arterial revascularisation or cardiovascular death), in addition to the protocol-prespecified secondary endpoints of venous thromboembolism, all-cause mortality and incident physician-reported diabetes. According to data, patients with one or more major diabetes risk factors (n=11,508) were more likely to be female, have higher baseline BP, HbA1c, glucose, and triglycerides and lower baseline HDL cholesterol compared with those who did not have diabetes risk factors (n=6,095). “As expected, trial participants with one or more major diabetes risk factor had an increased risk of developing diabetes during trial follow-up,” researchers wrote. They found that, overall, incident diabetes was more apparent in the rosuvastatin group (270 reports of diabetes vs. 216 in the placebo group; HR=1.25; 95% CI, 1.05-1.49). Additional data showed that for individuals with one or more risk factors, rosuvastatin was linked to a 39% reduction in the primary endpoint (P=.0001), a 36% reduction in venous thromboembolism (P=0.15) and a 28% increase in diabetes (P=.01). In patients with diabetes risk factors, 134 vascular events or deaths were avoided for every 54 new cases of diabetes diagnosed, researchers wrote. Those without risk factors accounted for 86 vascular events or deaths and no new cases of diabetes were diagnosed, they added. Among patients assigned to rosuvastatin, CV benefits came with the risk for new-onset diabetes approximately 5 to 6 weeks earlier compared with those in the placebo group, researchers said. It is for this reason that Ridker and colleagues suggest further research. In an accompanying editorial by Gerald F. Watts, DSc, PhD, DM, FRACP, FRCP, and Esther M. Ooi, PhD, from the Cardiometabolic Research Centre and Clinical Services of Royal Perth Hospital School of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia, said the study was intuitive and based on new evidence. However, Watts and Ooi suggest that independent data from other studies are needed to strengthen a recommendation to the FDA. “Additionally, the question of whether or not long-term use of statins impairs glycemic control in established diabetes merits investigation, as do the precise macrovascular and microvascular consequences of statin-induced diabetes. Only robust, longer-term cohort data can address these questions,” Watts and Ooi wrote. Disclosures: The JUPITER trial was funded by AstraZeneca. Dr. Ridker has served as a consultant for various entities, receives additional research grant support from Novartis, and holds patents held by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital which have been licensed to Siemens and AstraZeneca. Several researchers received grant support from AstraZeneca. Dr. Libby was an unpaid consultant involved in clinical trials for various pharmaceutical companies and is a member on several advisory boards. Dr. Watts has received honoraria or lecture fees from AstraZeneca and other pharmaceutical companies. All other researchers report no relevant financial disclosures. For more information: Ridker PM. Lancet. 2012; 380:565-571. Watts GF, Ooi EM. Lancet. 2012; 380:541-543. ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00239681.

Source: Endocrine Today.

 

Obesity Surpasses Smoking in Terms of Ill Health Effects.


This may come as a surprise to some, but data collected from over 60,000 Canadians show that obesity leads to more doctor visits than smoking.

The idea that being overweight can be worse for your health than smoking is likely to make many balk, considering how “normal” it has become to carry around extra pounds, but in terms of overall health effects and subsequent health care costs, it’s likely true.

The study estimates that if obesity were not a factor, doctor visits in Canada would decrease by 10 percent. The decrease would be even greater if you take into account problems related to type 2 diabetes, which is also directly related to obesity and poor diet.

With the obesity epidemic putting pressure on health care systems everywhere, this news may trigger financial penalties or incentives to get people to lose weight, according to Medical News Today [1].

“Just as smokers have higher life insurance premiums, people who are obese could also be made to pay more for health insurance. The complication is that obesity tends to be more prevalent among people with low income, making this solution difficult to implement,” Medical News Today said.

… “The fact that obesity is more serious than smoking helps people understand the gravity of the problem because they already have some kind of intuitive understanding of how bad smoking is,” says [lead researcher, James] McIntosh.

Excess Weight is a Gateway to Chronic Disease

Canadian and American obesity statistics are neck-to-neck, with about one-quarter to one third of adults in the obese category. A staggering two-thirds of Americans are overweight. This does indeed place a heavy burden on the health care system. It’s important to realize that a large number of diseases are directly attributable to obesity, including:

Diabetes Polycystic ovarian syndrome Urinary incontinence Pickwickian syndrome
Cancer Gastro-esophageal reflux disease Chronic renal failure Depression
Congestive heart failure Fatty liver disease Lymph edema Osteoarthritis
Enlarged heart Hernia Cellulitis Gout
Pulmonary embolism Erectile dysfunction Stroke Gallbladder disease

Most Adults and Teens Not Exercising and at High Risk of Disease

Physical activity and good health go hand-in-hand. The problem is most adults and teens aren’t physically active enough to stay healthy and maintain ideal weight. According to a series in the journal Lancet on physical activity and health, not exercising is leaving around a third of adults (1.5 billion people) and 4 out of 5 adolescents at a 20-30 percent greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

Reported by Medical News Today [2]:

“Investigations revealed that the recommended activities, known as moderate-intensity activities, like walking for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week, or running for 20 minutes 3 times a week, is not being done by approximately 3 out of 10 adults worldwide.”

Worse yet, an estimated 80 percent of 13 to 15 year olds are not getting the recommended one hour per day of physical activity! According to one of the Lancet reports [3], lack of exercise causes as many as 1 in 10 premature deaths around the world each year — roughly as many as smoking…

Too Much TV Linked with Thicker, Weaker Kids

There can be little doubt that our modern lifestyle is at the heart of the problem. We eat poorly and don’t exercise enough. The results of this sedentary, under-nourished lifestyle are evident in today’s children. Today, one-third of all American children ages 2-19 are overweight or obese. Most of these children will become diabetic.

Spending hours in front of the TV or playing video games is of course a hallmark of a sedentary lifestyle.

If you needed any more proof that too much time in front of the TV is not good for kids, then you’ll be interested in a new study that not only affirms that TV-time is linked to sleep problems and weight problems, but also to weaker muscles [4]. The new study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity [5], shows that the number of hours in front of the TV during preschool years is linked to increased waist size and decreased leg strength.

According to the authors:

“Watching television excessively in early childhood may eventually compromise muscular fitness and waist circumference in children as they approach pubertal age.”

This is significant, the study’s authors said, because it not only could affect performance in sports activities, but also cardiovascular health and susceptibility to injuries.  TV programming also expose your children to commercials promoting health-harming junk foods; literally programming them from infancy to have a skewed understanding of what to eat. Just as you don’t want your child exposed to ads for cigarettes during Saturday morning cartoons, neither should your kids be bombarded by non-stop commercials for sugary foods and snacks.

Tips for Raising Healthy Weight Children

If you have children who are overweight or obese, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of my book Generation XL, which is packed with tools to transform the health of your children. In the meantime, I would recommend getting started on these crucial lifestyle changes right now:

  1. Set strict viewing limits for TV, computer and video games
  2. Make exercise a part of your family’s daily schedule. Remember, children model your behavior more than anything else
  3. Get rid of the junk food and sweetened drinks
  4. Set family meal times and prepare home-cooked meals for your family
  5. Reward your children with kind words, not food

Where Americans Spend Grocery Money, 1982 vs. Today

Overall, about 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods [6]. This includes restaurant foods (i.e. food away from home) and processed grocery foods that require little or no preparation time before consuming.

When looking at the ratio of money spent on store-bought groceries only, Americans spend nearly a fourth of their grocery money on processed foods and sweets—twice as much as they did in 1982—according to Department of Labor statistics [7]. Pricing of meats, sugar, and flour has had a great influence our spending habits. These items have actually seen a decrease in price per pound, which has had an inverse effect on Americans’ spending habits, in that cheaper prices encourage people to buy more.

The result is obvious. Compared with shoppers 30 years ago, American adults today are twice as likely to be obese, and children and adolescents three times as likely to be overweight. Pediatric type 2 diabetes—which used to be very rare—has markedly increased along with the rise in early childhood obesity. According to previous research, early onset type 2 diabetes appears to be a more aggressive disease from a cardiovascular standpoint

Soda—One of the Greatest Threats to Your and Your Children’s Weight and Health

According to the 2010 Report by the Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans [10], the top 10 sources of calories in the American diet are:

1.    Grain-based desserts (cakes, cookies, donuts, pies, crisps, cobblers, and granola bars) 139 calories a day 6. Alcoholic beverages
2.    Yeast breads, 129 calories a day 7. Pasta and pasta dishes
3.    Chicken and chicken-mixed dishes, 121 calories a day 8. Mexican mixed dishes
4.    Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks, 114 calories a day 9. Beef and beef-mixed dishes
5.    Pizza, 98 calories a day 10. Dairy desserts

 

Between the previous graphic showing where the majority of food dollars are spent, and this listing detailing the top sources of calories in the American diet, it’s easy to recognize that the dietary roots of the American weight problem is linked to carbs—sugars (primarily fructose) and grains—in the form of processed foods and sweet drinks. You’ve often heard me state that soda is the number one source of calories in the US diet, which it was, based on the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The updated NHANES survey above covers nutritional data from 2005-2006, placing grain-based foods in the top two slots.

Still, soda comes in at number four, and I still believe many people, particularly teenagers, probably still get a majority of their calories from fructose-rich drinks like soda.

Needless to say, obesity and its many related chronic health problems will also take a toll on your lifespan, and soda is a major culprit driving these sad health trends. Term Life Insurance may have an alternative motive for creating and posting an infographic online showing soda’s effect on your body [11], but in this case the industry managers are actually trying to help you out while simultaneously adding to their bottom lines.

Basic Tenets of Optimal Health

Leading a common-sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to achieve a healthy body and mind. And while conventional medical science may flip-flop back and forth in its recommendations, there are certain basic tenets of optimal health (and healthy weight) that do not change:

  1. Proper Food Choices: For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed foods. For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw.

Avoid sugar, and fructose in particular. All forms of sugar have toxic effects when consumed in excess, and drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of chronic disease and accelerated aging.

I believe the two primary keys for successful weight management are severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains) in your diet, and increasing healthy fat consumption. This will optimize insulin and leptin levels, which is key for maintaining a healthy weight and optimal health.

  1. Regular exercise: Even if you’re eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor. HGH also helps boost weight loss.

So along with core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching, I highly recommend that twice a week you do Peak Fitness exercises,’ which raise your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold for 20 to 30 seconds, followed by a 90-second recovery period.

  1. Stress Reduction: You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease — from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer.

Meditation, prayer, social support and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using simple tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden, emotional problems.

  1. Drink plenty of clean water
  2. Maintain a healthy gut: About 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, and research is stacking up showing that probiotics—beneficial bacteria—affect your health in a myriad of ways; it can even influence your ability to lose weight. A healthy diet is the ideal way to maintain a healthy gut, and regularly consuming traditionally fermented foods is the easiest, most cost effective way to ensure optimal gut flora
  3. Optimize your vitamin D levels: Research has shown that increasing your vitamin D levels can reduce your risk of death from ALL causes. For practical guidelines on how to use natural sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D benefits, please see my previous article on how to determine if enough UVB is able to penetrate the atmosphere to allow for vitamin D production in your skin
  4. Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible: This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
  5. Get plenty of high quality sleep: Regularly catching only a few hours of sleep can hinder metabolism and hormone production in a way that is similar to the effects of aging and the early stages of diabetes. Chronic sleep loss may speed the onset or increase the severity of age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss

Source: Dr. Mercola

 

City Officials Are Waging a War on Gardens.


It’s hard to imagine what could be controversial or even illegal about planting a couple of rows of tomato plants, green peppers and a cucumber vine … but depending on where those vegetables are planted, they have been the subject of great debate – even prosecution.

Across the United States and Canada a war is being waged against urban homeowners who want to plant gardens on their own property.

From Quebec to Oklahoma to New Jersey to Michigan and Georgia, people who have the “audacity” to try growing their own fresh, organic foods are being forced to pull up their plants, or in some cases, have been forced by the city to dig them up.

Cities Cracking Down on Vegetable Gardens

In Drummondville, Quebec, Josée Landry and Michel Beauchamp planted what some have called “a gorgeous and meticulously-maintained edible landscape full of healthy fruits and vegetables.” Rather than planting grass or ornamental flowers, this couple chose to use their land to grow food (in a rather attractive way, I might add … the picture of their garden is in the featured article).

The “problem,” the town says, is that a vegetable garden may only take up 30 percent of a yard’s area, and theirs takes up nearly the whole space. Due to this town code, they’ve been ordered to remove their garden in two weeks or less.

If it sounds ridiculous to you that a city government would spend time and money to pursue and even prosecute a resident for — of all things — planting a vegetable garden, be prepared to be amazed, as this is not an isolated case. Far from it …

  • In 2011, Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan was charged with a misdemeanor and threatened with jail time for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard
  • In British Columbia, Dirk Becker was threatened with six months in jail for converting an acre of his 2.5-acre lot into an organic farm. What’s even more unsettling about the charges in this case is that the lot was literally stripped bare down to a gravel pit before this.

The owner spent over a decade healing the land and converting it into a self-contained ecosystem that is now home to thriving vegetable crops, fruit trees, bees, butterflies, birds, frogs, dragonflies and more. But because the area is zoned a “residential” lot, the local government is calling on him to “cease all agricultural activity” or pay the consequences.

  • Earlier this year, city inspectors bulldozed more than 100 types of plants, including garlic chives, strawberry and apple mint, being grown by Denise Morrison in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The inspectors said her plants were too tall, but city code allows for plants over 12 inches if they’re meant for human consumption, which hers were. Morrison is now suing the city for violating her civil rights.1
  • Steve Miller was fined $5,200 for growing vegetables in his Clarkston, Georgia backyard, which he not only consumed but also sold at farmers markets and shared with friends.2

Why are Vegetable Gardens Demonized and Lawns Embraced?

Legal codes that outlaw planting vegetables on a large percentage of your yard, or restrict them to only certain areas, like the backyard out of view of the public, truly defy all common sense.

New York Times author Michael Pollan was one of the first to tackle the absurdity of the pursuit of lush green lawns – which he says are a “symbol of everything that’s wrong with our relationship to the land” – over environmentally friendly and productive landscapes like vegetable gardens, meadows or orchards.

Unlike a vegetable garden, which gives back in the form of fresh produce and a symbiotic relationship with soil, insects and wildlife, a lawn gives nothing, yet requires significant chemical treatments and meticulous mowing and watering to stay within society’s confines of what a properly “manicured lawn” should be. Writing in The New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan said it best in his article “Why Mow? The Case Against Lawns”:3

“Like Jefferson superimposing one great grid over the infinitely various topography of the Northwest Territory, we superimpose our lawns on the land. And since the geography and climate of much of this country is poorly suited to turfgrasses (none of which are native), this can’t be accomplished without the tools of 20th-century industrial civilization — its chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and machinery.

For we won’t settle for the lawn that will grow here; we want the one that grows there, that dense springy supergreen and weed-free carpet, that Platonic ideal of a lawn we glimpse in the ChemLawn commercials, the magazine spreads, the kitschy sitcom yards, the sublime links and pristine diamonds.

… Need I point out that such an approach to “nature” is not likely to be environmentally sound? Lately we have begun to recognize that we are poisoning ourselves with our lawns, which receive, on average, more pesticide and herbicide per acre than just about any crop grown in this country.

Suits fly against the national lawn-care companies, and interest is kindled in “organic” methods of lawn care. But the problem is larger than this. Lawns, I am convinced, are a symptom of, and a metaphor for, our skewed relationship to the land. They teach us that, with the help of petrochemicals and technology, we can bend nature to our will. Lawns stoke our hubris with regard to the land.

What is the alternative?

To turn them into gardens. I’m not suggesting that there is no place for lawns in these gardens or that gardens by themselves will right our relationship to the land, but the habits of thought they foster can take us some way in that direction.

Gardening, as compared to lawn care, tutors us in nature’s ways, fostering an ethic of give and take with respect to the land. Gardens instruct us in the particularities of place. They lessen our dependence on distant sources of energy, technology, food and, for that matter, interest … The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature half way.”

Is it Your Constitutional Right to Grow Food on Your Land?

If you choose not to rely on the food sold in your supermarket, want to control the conditions in which your food is grown, or even if you can’t afford the prices at the supermarket, what other option do you have than to raise your own? And why should it be illegal for a person to plant food on any area of the land they own and pay taxes on?

When governments start meddling with the issue of food freedom, including the ability to grow your own food on your own land, it is a serious affront, as most people would agree this is an absolute, basic, and unalienable right. The good news is that many residents are now fighting back. Last year after Julie Bass was legally threatened for growing vegetables in her front yard,

Facebook pages were created in her support and local media outlets aired the story as well. Probably as a result of the backlash, the city backed down and quietly dropped the charges, although the city ordinance stating that only “suitable” plant material is allowed in a front lawn has not been changed, which means the charges could be reinstated at any time.

As people are becoming more interested in where their food comes from, and in securing food that is grown responsibly and without chemicals, the interest in backyard (and front yard) veggie gardens is only going to continue to grow – and it’s time for local ordinances to reflect this.

The featured article states:4

“It’s not the 1950s anymore: Not everyone needs to grow a perfectly manicured lawn, especially when vegetable gardens can look just as attractive, improve the soil (instead of requiring tons of pesticides), and provide fresh food. If the problem is that these types of front yards are illegal in current city codes, then the codes need to change, along with people’s assumptions that a burnt-out, water-sucking lawn is better than a few patches of thriving tomato plants and string bean vines.”

If you’re thinking of planting veggies but are not sure where to begin, Better Homes & Gardens has a free All-American Vegetable Garden Plan5 that can be put into a 6×6 area. It’s a great starting point for beginners. You can also visit a few local plant nurseries around your home, especially those that specialize in organic gardening. The employees are likely to be a great resource for natural planting tips that will help your garden thrive.

Even if you only have access to a patio, you can still grow some of your own veggies using containers.  Tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, lettuce, and peppers are examples of plants that thrive in containers, but the sky is really the limit. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to garden or prefer not to then you can still access healthy vegetables grown locally by supporting local farmer’s markets

Source: Dr. Mercola

 

Normal weight at diabetes diagnosis associated with higher mortality among adults.


Patients who develop diabetes at a normal weight may be at higher risk for mortality compared with those who are overweight or obese at diagnosis, according to data from a pooled longitudinal analysis of five cohort studies.

The study included 2,625 patients (aged >40 years, 50% women) from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, Framingham Offspring Study (FOS), and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who developed incident diabetes.

Researchers chose the studies based on repeated measures of body weight, fasting glucose level and medication use. Other factors included demographic characteristics, health behaviors and clinical factors, as well as follow-up for events and mortality, researchers wrote.

Mercedes R. Carnethon, PhD, from the department of preventive medicine at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and colleagues found that the portion of patients who were normal weight at the time of incident diabetes ranged from 9% to 21% (overall 12%). Additional data found that 449 patients died during follow-up, including 178 from cardiovascular causes, 253 from noncardiovascular causes and 18 causes not classified.

Within the pooled patient sample, total (284.8 per 10,000 person-years); CV (99.8 per 10,000 person-years); and non-CV mortality (198.1 per 10,000 person-years) were higher in normal-weight patients, compared with rates among overweight or obese patients.

“These patterns are consistent for total and non-CV mortality within each cohort and present for CV mortality in CHS and FOS,” researchers wrote. “Mortality rates were markedly higher in CHS cohort participants who were older, on average, than other cohort participants.”

Once adjustments were made for demographic characteristics and BP, lipid levels, waist circumference and smoking status, HRs compared normal-weight patients with overweight/obese patients for total (HR=2.08; 95% CI, 1.52-2.85); CV (HR=1.52; 95% CI, 0.89-2.58); and noncardiovascular mortality (HR=2.32; 95% CI, 1.55-3.48).

Researchers concluded that the mechanisms to explain their findings remain unknown. They recommend further studies research normal-weight patients with diabetes as they apply to other mechanisms, such as inflammation, distribution and action of adipose tissue, atherosclerosis and position of fatty plaques and pancreatic beta-cell function.

  • Source: Endocrine Today.

 

Normal weight at diabetes diagnosis associated with higher mortality among adults.


Patients who develop diabetes at a normal weight may be at higher risk for mortality compared with those who are overweight or obese at diagnosis, according to data from a pooled longitudinal analysis of five cohort studies.

The study included 2,625 patients (aged >40 years, 50% women) from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, Framingham Offspring Study (FOS), and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who developed incident diabetes.

Researchers chose the studies based on repeated measures of body weight, fasting glucose level and medication use. Other factors included demographic characteristics, health behaviors and clinical factors, as well as follow-up for events and mortality, researchers wrote.

Mercedes R. Carnethon, PhD, from the department of preventive medicine at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and colleagues found that the portion of patients who were normal weight at the time of incident diabetes ranged from 9% to 21% (overall 12%). Additional data found that 449 patients died during follow-up, including 178 from cardiovascular causes, 253 from noncardiovascular causes and 18 causes not classified.

Within the pooled patient sample, total (284.8 per 10,000 person-years); CV (99.8 per 10,000 person-years); and non-CV mortality (198.1 per 10,000 person-years) were higher in normal-weight patients, compared with rates among overweight or obese patients.

“These patterns are consistent for total and non-CV mortality within each cohort and present for CV mortality in CHS and FOS,” researchers wrote. “Mortality rates were markedly higher in CHS cohort participants who were older, on average, than other cohort participants.”

Once adjustments were made for demographic characteristics and BP, lipid levels, waist circumference and smoking status, HRs compared normal-weight patients with overweight/obese patients for total (HR=2.08; 95% CI, 1.52-2.85); CV (HR=1.52; 95% CI, 0.89-2.58); and noncardiovascular mortality (HR=2.32; 95% CI, 1.55-3.48).

Researchers concluded that the mechanisms to explain their findings remain unknown. They recommend further studies research normal-weight patients with diabetes as they apply to other mechanisms, such as inflammation, distribution and action of adipose tissue, atherosclerosis and position of fatty plaques and pancreatic beta-cell function.

  • Source: Endocrine Today.