January 2011

Magnesium in Drinking Water

In 2009 the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended minimum levels of magnesium in bottled water, in order to help address the serious health problems that can result from a magnesium deficiency.

However, in the United States the FDA has refused to set a minimum recommendation for magnesium in bottled water. Critics of the FDA charge that their "foot-dragging" on this issue has cost "3 million avoidable deaths due to heart attack since 1977." What's the truth here?

Magnesium: Health Benefits
There's no question that magnesium is important to your health. Good dietary sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens like spinach, beans, and nuts (particularly cashews and almonds). Most daily multivitamins also include magnesium.

Macular Degeneration

A few years ago, my aging (but not decrepit) grandfather was diagnosed with macular  degeneration. Unfortunately, the prognosis for patients diagnosed with macular eye degeneration isn’t good; it’s thought of as an incurable disease that can ultimately lead to partial blindness. Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the retina in the center of the eye. Thankfully, new research suggests that despite predictions from experts that the numbers of people affected by the disease would increase, the numbers of diagnoses are actually decreasing by almost as much as 10%. 

Researchers are speculating that the change in numbers is the result of improved lifestyle habits, including changes in diet, less smoking, and more exercise. This analysis concurs with what is already suspected about the macular degeneration; this site statesthat the risk factors for macular eye degeneration include cigarette smoking, a high-fat diet, and obesity. Caucasian females are also much more likely to be diagnoses with macular eye degeneration, which is more commonly diagnosed on patients who are sixty and above. Avoiding cigarettes, eating healthily, and exercising might reduce the risk for getting the disease, but as with anything health-related, there are no guarantees.

News Flash: Breakfast Cereal Isn't Magic

You know that Vitaminwater is just soda, it's not actually vitamins, right? Well, in yet another blow to "neutraceuticals," the FTC has announced a class action lawsuit against General Mills cereals for two ridiculous claims they made for their cereals over the last few years.

The first claim was splashed across Rice Crispies in the winter of 2009, at the height of swine flu (and swine flu vaccine) panic. I remember walking down the cereal aisle, only to be stopped in my tracks by the bright yellow banner on the box trumpeting that the humble cereal "Now helps support your child's IMMUNITY."

NOW helps support immunity? Now helps support IMMUNITY? There were so many disbelieving ways to read that line.

Medical Films: Extraordinary Measures

Brendan Frasier should really stick to the action flicks. It’s not that he’s horrible in a drama (or romance, or comedy, or whatever); it’s just that every time he’s on screen, you think a mummy is going to pop out and scare you from somewhere. Plus, he’s got that yummy action hero look—he’s just not the same in a business suit. Still, his latest film, Extraordinary Measures, is a heartwarming family drama worth a watch. (Spoilers ahead.)

Vaccine/Autism Link Wholly Fraudulent

This is my mock-surprised face.  Andrew Wakefield has finally, officially, been pronounced a fraud, a cheat, and a liar.  An investigation by the British medical journal which originally published Andrew Wakefield's "findings" that vaccines caused autism called it an "elaborate fraud."

Presumably at the behest of his financers, Wakefield falsified the medical records of the children in his study.  To quote CNN, "of the 12 cases Wakefield examined in his paper, five showed developmental problems before receiving the MMR vaccine and three never had autism."