The ” Lagarde List “

Editor’s Note (Ralph Turchiano) Re-Post Request for cross reference HSBC and Panama files. Original Post date 28 October 2012

Engineering Evil : Authenticity Still Requires further verification

Being on a List does not imply guilt

Current Source Info:


Keep Talking Greece

“Clicking on each image will open an enlarged image in a new window. This was done to make viewing easier.”

Taylor Swift Tops Canadian iTunes Chart With Eight Seconds of White Noise

“According to CBC News, paying $1.29 to download the song ”

It is time for Taylor Swift to drop the mic and take a bow because she has just accomplished the unthinkable. Swift hit number one on the Canadian iTunes chart this week with eight seconds of pure static.

A glitch in the Canadian version of iTunes released a track called “Track 3,” that looked like it could be a new track from her upcoming album 1989 but was actually just white noise. Nevertheless, the song soared to the top, beating out her new songs that actually are real music, including “Shake It Off,” “Welcome to New York” and “Out of the Woods.”

Haters might hate but once a singer scores a chart-topping hit comprised solely of white noise, it’s hard to deny she’s an unstoppable musical force. Continue reading “Taylor Swift Tops Canadian iTunes Chart With Eight Seconds of White Noise”

New home for an ‘evolutionary misfit’

Hallucigenia Reconstruction

Worm-like creature with legs and spikes finds its place in the evolutionary tree of life

One of the most bizarre-looking fossils ever found – a worm-like creature with legs, spikes and a head difficult to distinguish from its tail – has found its place in the evolutionary Tree of Life, definitively linking it with a group of modern animals for the first time.

The animal, known as Hallucigenia due to its otherworldly appearance, had been considered an ‘evolutionary misfit’ as it was not clear how it related to modern animal groups. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered an important link with modern velvet worms, also known as onychophorans, a relatively small group of worm-like animals that live in tropical forests. The results are published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature.

The affinity of Hallucigenia and other contemporary ‘legged worms’, collectively known as lobopodians, has been very controversial, as a lack of clear characteristics linking them to each other or to modern animals has made it difficult to determine their evolutionary home. Continue reading “New home for an ‘evolutionary misfit’”

FBI: We found US MILITARY AIRCRAFT INTEL during raid on alleged Chinese hacker

Accused of targeting F-22, F-35 and C-17 planes

By Darren Pauli

Posted in Security, 14th July 2014 07:29 GMT

FBI: We found US MILITARY AIRCRAFT INTEL during raid on alleged Chinese hacker

F-35 document allegedly stolen by Su and translated before being shipped to China.
F-35 translated document allegedly stolen and shipped to China.

A Chinese entrepreneur has been arrested for attempting to steal information on the United States’ Lockheed F-22 and F-35 aircraft and Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane.

Su Bin – along with two uncharged Chinese co-conspirators – is alleged to have hacked into Boeing’s corporate network as well as those of defence contractors in the US and Europe, to gain information the accused said in an email would help China “stand easily on the giant’s shoulders”.

Su, who had previously operated Chinese aviation firm Lode Technologies, is alleged to have broken into the Boeing network on January 2010, according to a report within a federal complaint unsealed in Los Angeles this week. The suspect and his “co-conspirators” are also alleged to have hacked the systems of other US defence contractors between 2009 and 2013 from a location in China. Continue reading “FBI: We found US MILITARY AIRCRAFT INTEL during raid on alleged Chinese hacker”

Wealth of US middle class now lower than Canada’s – report

Published time: April 23, 2014 00:59

Reuters / Emmanuel Foudrot

Reuters / Emmanuel Foudrot

American workers who previously made up the wealthiest middle class in the world have lost that distinction, according to new research that attributes the economic stagnation on rising income inequality in the US.

Economic growth in the US continues to be as strong if not stronger than other developed nations, although fewer Americans are reaping the benefit of their hard work. An analysis of income and spending numbers published Tuesday by the New York Times indicated that the wealthiest tax brackets are enjoying more financial growth, while the lower and middle income tiers are now lagging behind their counterparts throughout the world. Continue reading “Wealth of US middle class now lower than Canada’s – report”

Cuts and red tape are gagging US and Canadian science / Only 14 per cent said they felt they would be able to share a concern about public health and safety

14 April 2014 by Rachael Jolley

Politicians in the US and Canada are undermining scientific freedom through cuts, shutdowns and media policies

ON 1 October last year, the US federal government shut its doors after Congress failed to agree a budget. For 16 days, around 800,000 government employees twiddled their thumbs. Many of them were scientists.

Continue reading “Cuts and red tape are gagging US and Canadian science / Only 14 per cent said they felt they would be able to share a concern about public health and safety”

Russia Sends 4 Strategic Bombers on 24-Hour Arctic Patrol

Russia Sends 4 Strategic Bombers on 24-Hour Arctic Patrol

Russia Sends 4 Strategic Bombers on 24-Hour Arctic Patrol

© RIA Novosti. Ramil Sitdikov

Russia Sends 4 Strategic Bombers on 24-Hour Arctic Patrol


18:43 14/03/2014
KOTELNY ISLAND, March 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has dispatched four Tu-95MS strategic bombers on a 24-hour patrol over the Arctic Ocean, Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Friday.

Bondarev said the four aircraft left their home base at the Ukrainka airbase in Russia’s Far East late on Thursday to carry out a 12-hour non-stop combat patrol mission over the Arctic.

“After an in-flight refueling, they will continue the patrol for another 12-14 hours,” the general said. Continue reading “Russia Sends 4 Strategic Bombers on 24-Hour Arctic Patrol”

Yulia Tymoshenko, Former Ukraine Prime Minister, Starts Medical Treatment In Berlin

BERLIN (AP) — Ukraine’s former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, has started medical treatment at Berlin’s Charite hospital after arriving late Friday, but doctors treating her say it’s too soon to say how long this will take.

Hospital chairman Karl Max Einhaeupl says doctors will decide by Monday whether the 53-year-old needs an operation for her severe back pain resulting from slipped discs she suffered more than two years ago.

If she does have an operation the recovery period would typically last about four days followed by further rehabilitation

Einhaeupl told reporters on Saturday that Tymoshenko isn’t suffering any paralysis though she requires a mobility aid to walk around because she cannot put any strain on her right leg. Continue reading “Yulia Tymoshenko, Former Ukraine Prime Minister, Starts Medical Treatment In Berlin”

Russian soldiers training in Canada given 24 hours to leave country ( 9 Soldiers but Symbolic )

Andrea Janus,
Updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:34PM EST

Nine Russian soldiers who were participating in military exercises in Canada have been expelled from the country, as Ottawa continues to denounce Russia’s military intervention in Crimea, CTV News has learned.

A government source confirmed that the soldiers were informed Thursday afternoon that they had 24 hours to leave Canada.

Six of the soldiers were in Saint-Jean, Que., where they were leaning English and French. Another two soldiers were participating in a training program at CFB Gagetown, and the ninth soldier was teaching Canadian soldiers Russian in Gatineau, Que. Continue reading “Russian soldiers training in Canada given 24 hours to leave country ( 9 Soldiers but Symbolic )”

Canadian regulator warns TV porn not to skimp on home-grown erotica

Source: Reuters – Thu, 6 Mar 2014 09:40 PM

Author: Reuters
Televisión (Photo credit: Orban López Cruz)

TORONTO, March 6 (Reuters) – Three porn channels based in Toronto may not be Canadian enough for the country’s broadcast regulator, which said this week it is concerned they are not serving up the requisite 35 percent of Canadian content.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said it would hold a public hearing in April to consider whether the company behind AOV Adult Movie Channel, XXX Action Clips and Maleflixxx is showing enough home-grown erotica.

News that the porn channels may not be providing enough programming that is at least partly written, produced, presented or otherwise Canadian drew a raft of jokes and giggles from media outlets and Twitter followers. Continue reading “Canadian regulator warns TV porn not to skimp on home-grown erotica”

Joint statement on Ukraine from the the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission

EEV: This looks more like a form letter, than a truly diplomatic response. Historically this may go down as one of the most shockingly tepid responses to military aggression in history.

See below a joint statement from the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission.

We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine. We call on Russia to address any ongoing security or human rights concerns that it has with Ukraine through direct negotiations, and/or via international observation or mediation under the auspices of the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We stand ready to assist with these efforts.

We also call on all parties concerned to behave with the greatest extent of self-restraint and responsibility, and to decrease the tensions.

 We note that Russia’s actions in Ukraine also contravene the principles and values on which the G-7 and the G-8 operate. As such, we have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June, until the environment comes back where the G8 is able to have meaningful discussion.

We are united in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its right to choose its own future. We commit ourselves to support Ukraine in its efforts to restore unity, stability and political and economic health to the country. To that end, we will support Ukraine’s work with the International Monetary Fund to negotiate a new program and to implement needed reforms. IMF support will be critical in unlocking additional assistance from the World Bank, other international financial institutions, the EU, and bilateral sources. Continue reading “Joint statement on Ukraine from the the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission”

EU gives US six months to lift visas

Wednesday, 05 February 2014

The European Commission has requested that the US lift visas for citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.

If within six months the problem is not solved, the EU could introduce visas for US diplomats, the Commission warned, reports EurActiv.

The development comes as a result of the entry into force of a new EU regulation, which requires EU member states to “react in common” on visa matters, especially when third countries have differing treatments for EU citizens from different member states. Continue reading “EU gives US six months to lift visas”

US ranks near bottom among industrialized nations in efficiency of health care spending

Contact: Carla Denly 310-825-6738 University of California – Los Angeles

UCLA, McGill study also shows women fare worse than men in most countries

A new study by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and McGill University in Montreal reveals that the United States health care system ranks 22nd out of 27 high-income nations when analyzed for its efficiency of turning dollars spent into extending lives.

The study, which appears online Dec. 12 in the “First Look” section of the American Journal of Public Health, illuminates stark differences in countries’ efficiency of spending on health care, and the U.S.’s inferior ranking reflects a high price paid and a low return on investment.   Continue reading “US ranks near bottom among industrialized nations in efficiency of health care spending”

How long before YOU are eating frankenfish: It grows at terrifying speed and could wipe out other species. The GM super salmon muscling its way onto your plate

  • GM salmon  which grow twice as fast as wild fish have been developed
  • Eggs given  go-ahead in Canada while meat to be approved for sale in US
  • If they  escape from farms they could breed and wipe out wild fish
  • Imported  canned products could be in the UK within years

By  David Derbyshire

PUBLISHED: 18:15 EST, 2  December 2013 |  UPDATED: 18:15 EST, 2 December 2013

As they splash around in their tanks, they  look like any other healthy Atlantic salmon. Their eyes are bright, their skin  is gloriously silvery and their fully grown bodies exude power.

It’s only when you look closely at their  hatching dates that the alarm bells start to ring. A normal Atlantic salmon  takes 30 months to grow to maturity . . . this variety took just  16.

The majestic specimens are ‘frankenfish’ —  genetically modified salmon created in a secretive research base in the Panama  rainforest.

'Frankenfish' are genetically modified salmon created by company AquaBounty which grow at twice the rate of wild Atlantic Salmon, and are constantly hungry‘Frankenfish’ are genetically modified salmon created by  company AquaBounty which grow at twice the rate of wild Atlantic Salmon, and are  constantly hungry (file picture)

Continue reading “How long before YOU are eating frankenfish: It grows at terrifying speed and could wipe out other species. The GM super salmon muscling its way onto your plate”

Revealed: Australian spy agency offered to share data about ordinary citizens

• Secret 5-Eyes document shows surveillance partners discussing what information they can pool about their citizens
• DSD indicated it could provide material without some privacy restraints imposed by other countries such as Canada
• Medical, legal or religious information ‘not automatically limited’
• Concern that intelligence agency could be ‘operating outside its legal mandate’


, and,              Sunday 1 December 2013 19.20 EST

Man typing on a computer keyboard
The secret document shows the partners discussing whether or not to share citizens’ “medical, legal or religious information”. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Australia’s surveillance agency offered to share information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners, according to a secret 2008 document leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The document shows the partners discussing whether or not to share “medical, legal or religious information”, and increases concern that the agency could be operating outside its legal mandate, according to the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC.

The Australian intelligence agency, then known as the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), indicated it could share bulk material without some of the privacy restraints imposed by other countries, such as Canada.

“DSD can share bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national,” notes from an intelligence conference say. “Unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue.”

The agency acknowledged that more substantial interrogation of the material would, however, require a warrant.

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Continue reading “Revealed: Australian spy agency offered to share data about ordinary citizens”

China tells Japan it would ‘consider cancelling air zone in 44 years’

UPDATED : Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 6:04pm

Chris Luo

  • 112121.jpg
Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence, briefs reporters at a recent Beijing news conference. Photo: CNS

China’s defence ministry on Thursday hit back forcefully at Japan’s objections to its newly-established Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea that covers long-disputed islets claimed by both countries.

“Japan has absolutely no right to make irresponsible comments regarding China setting up the East China Sea ADIZ,” ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told media in a routine press conference, according to China’s Ministry of National Defence website.

Continue reading “China tells Japan it would ‘consider cancelling air zone in 44 years’”

Harvard students don’t know the capital of Canada

Friday, 22 November 2013

Harvard students are asked who is the capital of Canada?

This sort of question is typically answered by someone who has gone through the third grade in Europe (excluding UK), but students at Harvard (supposedly greatest school in the US), have exceptionally tough time coming up with the correct answer.

Finally, one Harvard student gets it correct, only to find out, the student is Canadian

Parents Fined For Not Sending Ritz Crackers In Kids’ Lunches


It’s quite possible that the single stupidest school lunch policy on the planet comes courtesy of a strange interpretation of the Manitoba Government’s Early Learning and Child Care lunch regulations (an earlier version of this article incorrectly pointed at the Manitoba Child Care Association as the source of the strangely interpreted policy).
Apparently if a child’s lunch is deemed “unbalanced“, where “balance” refers to ensuring that a lunch conforms to the proportions of food groups as laid out by Canada’s awful Food Guide, then that child’s lunch is “supplemented“, and their parent is fined.
Blog reader Kristen Bartkiw received just such a fine.

Continue reading “Parents Fined For Not Sending Ritz Crackers In Kids’ Lunches”

Researchers find being exposed to fast food symbols makes it harder to appreciate everyday joys

By Eric W. Dolan Monday, November 18, 2013 11:46 EST

McDonald's in Times Square via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Success, in the Western world, means “gaining time,” according to French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard. The faster we do things — work, eat, sleep, read — the more time we “gain.”

But this focus on time efficiency could be making the small things in life harder to enjoy.

A trio of Canadian researchers have discovered that simply being exposed to symbols of Western society’s culture of convenience can undermine people’s ability to find pleasure in everyday joys.

“It is ironic that technologies designed to improve well-being by minimizing time spent on mundane chores may ultimately undermine the surplus leisure time they permit. By instigating a sense of impatience, these technologies may prevent people from savoring the enjoyable moments life offers serendipitously,” doctoral student Julian House and professors Sanford E. DeVoe and Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto wrote in the study.

The research, published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science, found people exposed to fast-food symbols were less likely to find pleasure in beautiful pictures and music. The research also found those living in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of fast-food restaurants were less likely to savor pleasurable experiences.

Continue reading “Researchers find being exposed to fast food symbols makes it harder to appreciate everyday joys”

Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate is executive at company that built Obamacare website ( no-bid contract )

Posted By Patrick Howley On 4:57 PM  10/25/2013 In  |

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate is a top executive at the company that earned the contract to build the failed Obamacare website.

Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamacare enrollment website at CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of a Canadian company.

Townes-Whitley and her Princeton classmate Michelle Obama are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.

Toni Townes ’85 is a onetime policy analyst with the General Accounting Office and previously served in the Peace Corps in Gabon, West Africa. Her decision to return to work, as an African-American woman, after six years of raising kids was applauded by a Princeton alumni publication in 1998

George Schindler, the president for U.S. and Canada of the Canadian-based CGI Group, CGI Federal’s parent company, became an Obama 2012 campaign donor after his company gained the Obamacare website contract.

As reported by the Washington Examiner in early October, the Department of Health and Human Services reviewed only CGI’s bid for the Obamacare account. CGI was one of 16 companies qualified under the Bush administration to provide certain tech services to the federal government. A senior vice president for the company testified this week before The House Committee on Energy and Commerce that four companies submitted bids, but did not name those companies or explain why only CGI’s bid was considered.

On the government end, construction of the disastrous website was overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of longtime failed website-builder Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services.

Update: The Daily Caller repeatedly contacted CGI Federal for comment. After publication of this article, the company responded that there would be “nothing coming out of CGI for the record or otherwise today.” The company did however insist that The Daily Caller include a reference to vice president Cheryl Campbell’s House testimony. This has been included as a courtesy to the company.

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Why you can’t trust the wide boys: Men with broad faces like North Korean leader are more likely to cheat on their partners and lie

  • Study shows men wide-faced are less  trustworthy than thinner counterparts
  • They also tend to be aggressive, violent,  bigoted and exploitative
  • But the research also shows they are  likely to be more successful

By  Stuart Woledge

PUBLISHED: 05:00 EST, 19  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 07:56 EST, 19 October 2013

It is an established fact that someone with a  long face is probably feeling a bit sorry for themselves –  but scientists  say people with wide faces are untrustworthy.

Research has shed new light on the motives of  ‘wide boys’ who are more likely to lie and cheat than their thinner faced  contemporaries.

But the study also showed that those with  larger faces, such as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and  disgraced former US President Richard Nixon, were more cut-throat and therefore more  likely to be successful, particularly in business or in politics.

Untrustworthy: New research has revealed men with fat faces, such as Gordon Brown (left) and former US President Richard (right) tend to lie and cheat more than those with thinner facesUntrustworthy: New research has revealed men with fat faces, such as Gordon Brown (left) and former US President Richard (right) tend to lie and cheat more than those with thinner faces

Untrustworthy: New research has revealed men with fat  faces, such as Gordon Brown (left) and former US President Richard (right) tend  to be less trustworthy then those with thinner faces


Psychologists from Canada gave 150 men an  exercise to complete where they had to roll virtual dice on a screen and then  manually write down their score.

They were told that the number they recorded  would correspond to the number of tickets they received in a lottery. The  researcher then left the room while they completed the task.

But software secretly recorded the real total  allowing the psychologists to compare it with what the respondent had  entered.

About 20 per cent – or one in five – of the  men who took part cheated, all of whom had wide faces, according to The Times.

The results of the survey, by Canadian psychologist professor Cheryl McCormick,  provides further evidence that those carrying extra weight around their faces  tend to display antisocial personalities.

Wide-boy: North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un is definitely a man to be wary off, according to Canada's research 

Wide-boy: North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un is definitely  a man to be wary off, according to Canada’s research


Past research has suggested men with fat  faces tend to be more aggressive, violent, bigoted and exploitative of their  fellow man than those with slimmer cheeks.

Prof McCormick, from Brock University in  Ontario, argued they should not consider themselves less worthy.

She said: ‘We  were measuring within the general population. We have to keep in mind this is  something that doesn’t work well at the level of individuals.’

Past research she has carried out revealed  people do consider men with wide faces to be more unpleasant, but generally only  when making instant judgements.

‘This may only be useful to consider when you  are encountering strangers and have to make a snap judgment.

‘Actual experience of people tells us much,  much more than this trait alone.’

However, she also investigated which certain  psychopathic personality traits correlated with width of face, and found  ‘fearless dominance’ – where someone has low levels of anxiety while being  socially dominant – tended to reflect facial width.

She added: ‘There are gains and risks to marrying a man with a wider face.

‘Among chief executives dominant traits lead  to success in business, even if they may not have behaved in the most ethical  fashion. So you could have a wealthier life.

‘We have found no relationship between how  attractive men are rated and their facial width.

‘This could be because there are also certain  risks associated with marrying aggressive, dominant men.’

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Canadian Spycatchers Get Schooled / (Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle) who was caught spying for the Russians

October 15, 2013: The Canadian military is not happy with how the government handled a recent case of a naval officer (Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle) who was caught spying for the Russians. The military was particularly upset at how they were cut out of the investigation by CSIS (the Canadian CIA) and the RCMP (the Canadian FBI) and prosecution by civilian courts. The military would have preferred to court martial of Delisle, a procedure that could have kept more of the details (useful to foreign espionage agencies) out of the news. Last October Delisle pled guilty and earlier this year was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The military got to demote and expel him but the 42 year old Delisle will be out in as little as 15 years. At that point some of the secrets he knew would still be useful to some foreign governments. The military would have preferred to put Delisle away for life.

Because of Canadian secrecy laws there was little public knowledge of this case until January 2012 when two Russian diplomats were expelled from Canada and it soon became known this was connected with the arrest of a Canadian naval officer. Canadian secrecy laws kept any details out of the news until Delisle pled guilty on October 10th 2012.

Turns out that Delisle had not been recruited by Russian diplomats, as some believed, but had walked into the Russian embassy and offered his services. Delisle worked in a top-secret Canadian intelligence center where intelligence sharing operations (with NATO and other allies) were located. Delisle had access to secrets from all the countries involved, and for over four years (2007-11) Delisle delivered a thumb drive full of secret documents each month to the Russians. In return, Delisle was paid about $3,000 a month. Delisle did it for the money which, since the end of the Cold War, has become the primary motivation for spies recruited in other countries.

Canada was embarrassed by this lapse in their counter-intelligence (seeking out spies) efforts and reviewed and changed its procedures to at least make it harder for any future spy to operate within the Canadian military. Many of the resulting changes are classified, but are believed to involve increased sharing of counterintelligence (seeking out spies within Canada) operations between military intelligence, CSIS, the RCMP and foreign intelligence agencies. In the case of Delisle the American FBI told CSIS in late 2011 they suspected Delisle was a spy. CSIC later said they already suspected Delisle but the FBI tip enabled them to bring in the RCMP to build the criminal case and get an indictment in a civilian court. About this time the military was informed of the investigations and the FBI tip and told that prosecution would be handled by a civilian court rather that a court martial.

NSA’s ‘Homeland’ includes Canada, Greenland, Mexico, Central America

Posted By Josh Peterson On 7:15 PM  08/02/2013 In Politics

Americans now have responsibility for a bunch of new places they can’t find on a map.

It turns out that the National Security Agency considers Canada, Greenland, Mexico and parts of Central America as part of the U.S. “Homeland.”

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein — chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — displayed a diagram that revealed the NSA considers Mexico, Canada, Greenland and parts of Central American as part of the U.S. ‘Homeland.’

The diagram displayed  by Feinstein visualized the 54 events around the world allegedly disrupted by the NSA’s bulk data collection program.

The Atlantic Wire first noticed that while the senator correctly identified the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa on the map, North America was referred to as a single entity – the ‘Homeland.’

Following the 9/11 attacks, the federal government adopted the term ‘Homeland’ to refer to the nation itself. It turns out that designation seems to have taken on a different meaning within the past 12 years, without the broader public’s awareness.

The Atlantic Wire proposed a possible answer: “Is this a way of blending in Canadian and Mexican terror activity disruptions (which, we’ll remind you, is different from actual plots interrupted) to give a larger sense of the NSA’s success at halting terrorism within our borders?”

Trade and security agreements among the North American nations, however, are not new.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into force in 1994, created special economic and trade conditions between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

A North American security perimeter pact, announced in 2011, was recently criticized in the Toronto Star for potentially endangering the sovereignty of Canada.

The NSA and the Department of Homeland Security did not return The Daily Caller’s request for comment by the time of publication.

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Vitamins and Minerals Can Boost Energy and Enhance Mood

July 16, 2013 — Vitamin and mineral supplements can enhance mental energy and well-being not only for healthy adults but for those prone to anxiety and depression, according to a July 15 panel discussion at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® held at McCormick Place.

Bonnie Kaplan, Ph.D., professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, said Monday vitamins and mineral supplements can be the alternative to increasing psychiatric medicines for symptom relief of anxiety and depression. The supplements, she said, also can provide the mental energy necessary to manage stress, enhance mood and reduce fatigue.

In a series of studies she recently conducted in Canada, Kaplan found of the 97 adults with diagnosed mood disorders who kept a three-day food record, a higher intake of vitamins and minerals were significantly correlated with overall enhanced mental functioning.

Other vitamins that have been known to enhance mood, said C.J. Geiger, Ph.D., president of Geiger & Associates, LLC, and research associate professor in the division of nutrition at the University of Utah, include 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5 HTP), Vitamins B and D, as well as ginkgo biloba and Omega 3.

In her research, Geiger has found most adults define energy throughout the day as peaking mid-morning, falling to a valley in the afternoon after lunch and recovering with a pickup in late afternoon, settling back down before bedtime. However, these peaks and valleys did vary with gender, age and climate. She said many adults are known to use coffee, soft drinks, chocolate and candy bars as well as energy drinks, bars and chews with high sugar boosts to maintain energy throughout the day. She found other adults ate more frequent, smaller meals to sustain energy while making time for lots of rest and exercise.


International Counterfeit Drug Ring Hit in Massive Sting / 1,677 illegal pharmacy Web Sites claiming to be CVS, Walgreens etc..

Pill of Goods: International Counterfeit Drug Ring Hit in Massive Sting

Court documents review process that led the FDA to shut down more than 1,600 illegal pharmacy Web sites

By Dina Fine Maron  | Wednesday, July 3, 2013 | 5

Pill of Goods Image: EssjayNZ

It may be the largest organized crime network that you have never heard of, and it deals in counterfeit drugs. So says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which seized and shut down 1,677 illegal pharmacy Web sites last month as part of the largest Internet-based counterfeit drug sting yet.

The shuttered Web sites all claimed to be “Canadian pharmacies” but the FDA says that not a single drug shipment actually came from the U.S.’s northern neighbor. And testing on the multiple undercover purchases of drugs made by FDA offices in Colorado, New Hampshire and western Pennsylvania—described in official court documents reviewed by Scientific American—found that the drugs were actually not cheap, generic versions of the drugs; they were all counterfeits.

The bust is expected to be a major blow to a complex web of online drug distribution that “appears to be highly nimble,” according to the agency. The FDA agent leading this operation believes that the Web sites are part of a major online drug distribution affiliate network that calls itself EvaPharmacy. That network processes roughly 30,000 orders and grosses around $2.7 million—monthly, according to earlier research (pdf) from of the University of California, San Diego. All the Web sites shut down by the FDA were displaying fake licenses and certifications to convince potential U.S. customers that the “FDA approved” and “brand name” drugs were legitimate.

The agency found “a clear linkage and presence of a large, organized online drug distribution network,” according to the affidavit of Daniel Burke, special agent in the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. The crime network identified by the agency included 6,263 Web sites that all used one of at least eight site templates. Researchers believe the large international crime network is based in Russia and the Middle East, and that the seized Web sites were marketing directly to the U.S.

Most of the sites were slight adaptations of templates the network created, Burke said in his affidavit. (The agency declined to comment for this article.) They were carefully constructed to appear to be from real pharmacies like CVS, Walmart or Walgreens, according to the affidavit. In reality the shipments of counterfeit drugs came from India or Singapore instead of pharmacies in Canada. Federal agency warning banners displayed across Web sites like “” and “” now indicate that they are fraudulent and illegal. The U.S. government says it seized the domain names of the sites to prevent third parties from acquiring the Web site URLs and using them to commit additional crimes.

The FDA’s sting, which was carried out in conjunction with international partners, built on the work of academic researchers who have been carefully identifying these sites for the past several years. It took a coalition of computer scientists several years to identify the pages, as they worked through tracking which were legitimate Canadian pharmacies and which were illegal and did not ask for prescriptions. The only sure-fire test was to order drugs (pdf) and see how the Web site performed.  “Making the call” about whether a site was from a real Canadian pharmacy or was a fake “requires a little internet detective work,” says Chris Kanich, professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who led some of the research in this area.

Creating a complex computer algorithm that could capture all these sites is impossible, he says, because it remains too challenging to distinguish legitimate online pharmacies from fraudulent sites without making some online purchases. The FDA provides consumers with advice on how to find an online pharmacy through BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.

For this crime investigation there were no meetings in back alleys or surreptitious hand offs—just online purchases akin to what a consumer might do sitting at home. In one instance an FDA special agent purchased $105.45 of the diabetes drug Actos and arthritis medication Celebrex, and had them shipped to a U.S. address. As a free “bonus” the site offered to throw in four free pills of Viagra, according to official records. At no point during the purchase was the agent asked to provide a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner, complete a medical questionnaire or consult with a health professional.

Two weeks later, an agent received the purported drugs with a package postmarked from India. They were not the branded drugs as advertised; they were drugs that are illegal to sell in the U.S., and that purportedly contained the same active ingredient as the advertised drug. Some of the drugs came in a package simply labeled “sample-hermless [sic] medicine for personal use—‘Not for sale.’” Moreover, no directions for use or package inserts were included with the shipment.

Shutting down this slice of EvaPharmacy’s business amounts to a significant blow to the faux firm’s infrastructure, Kanich says. “They would need a really resilient business to recover from this.”

The shocking list of foods readily available in US grocery stores that are BANNED in other countries for containing dangerous chemicals

  • In Singapore, you  can get sentenced to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for using a chemical  in food products that’s common in frozen dinners
  • Mtn Dew and  products used to keep carpets from catching on fire are made from the same  chemical
  • A chemical  found in Chex Mix is known to cause cancer in rats

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 22:06 EST, 20  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 01:00 EST, 21 June 2013

If you enjoy snacks and drinks like Mtn Dew,  Chex Mix, Hungry Man frozen dinners, or roughly 80 percent of all the packaged  foods sold in your average, American grocery store, you may want to sit down  before reading this.

Many of the chemicals found in America’s most  common foods are considered to be so unhealthy that they’re actually ILLEGAL in  other countries.

A new book on nutrition lists six food  additives that are found in a wide range of popular groceries sanctioned by the  Food and Drug Administration, but foreign governments have determined to be too  dangerous to allow their citizens to consume.

Extreme! Mt. Dew is made with a chemical that also is used to prevent carpets from catching on fire 

Extreme! Mt. Dew is made with a chemical that also is  used to prevent carpets from catching on fire


Bubble gag: Bubble Yum contains a chemical that is known to cause cancer in rats 

Bubble gag: Bubble Yum contains a chemical that is known  to cause cancer in rats

Rich Food, Poor Food‘ by Doctor Jayson Calton and Mira Calton, a  certified nutritionist, features a list of what the authors call ‘Banned Bad  Boys’ – a list of the ingredients, where they’re banned and what caused  governments to ban them.

One of the most common ‘Bad Boys’ is  different variations of food coloring, which actually is made from petroleum and  is found in everyday items like soda, sports drinks, mac and cheese, cake, candy  and several other common, American products.

The chemicals used to make these different  dyes have proven to cause various different cancers and can even potentially  mutate healthy DNA.

Olestra is a fat substitute. It also causes a dramatic depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids  

Olestra is a fat substitute. It also causes a dramatic  depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids


Petroleum Loops: fruit loops are delicious - and made from a product that's made out of the same stuff that makes gasoline 

Petroleum Loops: fruit loops are delicious – and made  from a product that’s made out of the same stuff that makes gasoline

European countries like Norway, Finland,  France and Austria all have banned at least one variation of  petroleum-containing food coloring.

Another common additive banned in other  countries but allowed in the U.S. is Olestra, which essentially is a fat  substitute found in products that traditionally have actual fat.

For example, low-fat potato chips like  Ruffles Lite, Lays Wow and Pringles fat-free chips all contain Olestra – which  is shown to cause the depletion of fat-soluble vitamins. Different brands of  fat-free ice cream and mayonnaise at one time also contain the chemical.

Olestra has been banned in several countries,  including the United Kingdom and Canada.

In 2003, the FDA lifted a requirement forcing  companies that use Olestra in their products to include a label warning  consumers that the food their eating could cause ‘cramps and diarrhea,’ despite  the fact that the agency received more than 20,000 reports  of gastrointestinal complaints among olestra eaters.


Do you like citrus drinks, like Mt. Dew,  Squirt or Fresca? Then you also like brominated vegetable oil, which is banned  in more than 100 countries because it has been linked to basically every form of  thyroid disease – from cancer to autoimmune diseases – known to man.

In Singapore you can get up to fifteen years in prison and penalized nearly half a million dollars in fines for using an ingredient found in common U.S. bread products 

In Singapore you can get up to fifteen years in prison  and penalized nearly half a million dollars in fines for using an ingredient  found in common U.S. bread products


Hungry? 1 1/2 pounds of food (and chemicals used to make bleach and rubber yoga mats) 

Hungry? 1 1/2 pounds of food (and chemicals used to make  bleach and rubber yoga mats)

Other products made from bromine: chemicals  used to keep carpets from catching on fire and for disinfecting swimming  pools.

Other food products made from brominated  vegetable oil include New York brand flatbreads, bagel chips, Baja Burrito wraps  and other bread products.

Of brominated vegetable oil, the FDA says it  is approved ‘for flavoring oils used in fruit-flavored beverages, for which any  applicable standards of identity do not preclude such use, in an amount not to  exceed 15 parts per million in the finished beverage.’

Then there’s things like Hungry Man frozen  dinners, which will fill you up – with azodicarbonamide, a chemical used make  things like bleach and rubber yoga mats.

Most frozen potato and bread products – like  different varieties of McCain brand french fries – contain the chemical, as well  as several store brand bread products.

Azodicarbonamide is known to induce asthma,  and has been banned in Australia, the U.K. and most other European countries. If  you were to use it as a food ingredient in Singapore, you could face up to 15  years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

According to the FDA, Azodicarbonamide is  ‘approved to be a bleaching agent in cereal flour’ and is ‘permitted for direct  addition to food for human consumption.’

The final chemicals on the list – butylated  hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – are found in everyday  products like Post, Kellogs and Quaker brand cereals, as well as Diamond Nuts,  Chex Mix and gum brands like Wrigley’s, Trident, Bazooka and Bubble  Yum.

Both BHA and BHT are waxy solids made from  petroleum and are known to cause cancer in rats. It’s banned in Japan, England  and several other European countries.

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Heroic Canadian schoolboy disciplined for disarming knife-wielding classmate because it broke school rules

  • Briar  MacLean, 13, stepped after seeing a fellow pupil pull a knife on another during  argument at school
  • He disarmed  the boy, but was then disciplined by staff for ignoring school rules saying he  should have found a teacher
  • His furious  mother said that she has taught her children to stand up for others and not run  away

By  Damien Gayle

PUBLISHED: 08:41 EST, 1 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 08:41  EST, 1 June 2013

A schoolboy who bravely tackled a  knife-wielding pupil who was threatening a classmate was punished because such  heroic actions are strictly banned.

Briar MacLean, 13, stepped in after he  spotted an argument was quickly beginning to escalate between two boys at Sir  John A. Macdonald school in Alberta, Canada.

Suddenly one of the boys pulled out a knife  and began to threaten the other turning an scuffle into a potentially deadly  situation.

Hero: Briar MacLean, 13, from Alberta, Canada, stands outside his school where he tackled a knife-wielding pupil - and was punished because such heroic actions are strictly forbidden 

Hero: Briar MacLean, 13, from Alberta, Canada, stands  outside his school where he tackled a knife-wielding pupil – and was punished  because such heroic actions are strictly forbidden

The heroic teenager charged and tackled the  knife-brandishing youngster into a wall sending both attacker and knife falling  to the floor.

But for his bravery the pupil received not a  commendation but a stern telling off from staff for ignoring school  rules.

According to the Calgary Board of Education,  Briar should have left the scene to find a teacher – abandoning the unarmed  student.


Instead instincts kicked in and he chose to  act – meaning there were no cuts, no stab wounds, and no need to call an  ambulance.

Briar said: ‘He pulled out his flip knife so  I came in and pushed him into the wall.

‘It was just to help the other kid so he  wouldn’t get hurt.’

Briar’s reward for his bravery was a day in  the school office, removed from the other students, and a stern lecture about  not playing the hero.

'We've taught him to do the right thing': Briar with his mother Leah O'Donnell, who was furious when she learned her son was being disciplined for stepping in to help his classmate  

‘We’ve taught him to do the right thing’: Briar with his  mother Leah O’Donnell, who was furious when she learned her son was being  disciplined for stepping in to help his classmate

His mother Leah O’Donnell was furious at the  dressing down.

She said: ‘I received a call from the school  vice-principal indicating there was an incident at the school and that my son  had been involved.

‘They my son was in trouble for being a part  of it.

‘They told him they don’t condone heroics in  the school and he wasn’t allowed to go back to class for the day. Isn’t that  horrible?

‘In our family we teach our children that they  need to stand up for others and not run from danger out of  self-preservation’

 Briar’s mother Leah  O’Donnell

‘We’ve taught him to do the right thing and  to step in – in our family we teach our children that they need to stand up for  others and not run from danger out of self-preservation.

‘When did we decide as a society to allow our  children to grow up without spines? Without a decent sense of the difference  between right and wrong?

‘We’re coddling kids and that doesn’t make  for strong individuals when they grow up – what are we teaching these  children?’

A spokeswoman for the Calgary Board of  Education said details of the incident could not be discussed due to privacy  regulations.

But the Calgary Police Service confirmed they  were called to the school where a student had pulled a knife while fighting with  another, and a third boy had intervened to disarm the student.

The student with the knife has apparently  been suspended and police are still investigating, meaning charges have not been  ruled out.

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[Up to $20 Trillion U.S.] Offshore financial industry leak exposes identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world

Identities of the rich who hide cash offshore

David Leigh

The Guardian,  Wednesday 3 April 2013 18.59 EDT

British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands, the world’s leading offshore haven used by an array of government officials and rich families to hide their wealth. Photograph: Duncan Mcnicol/Getty Images

Millions of internal records have leaked from Britain’s offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world, from presidents to plutocrats, the daughter of a notorious dictator and a British millionaire accused of concealing assets from his ex-wife.

The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven  of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (£21tn) stashed in overseas havens.

In France, Jean-Jacques Augier, President François Hollande’s campaign co-treasurer and close friend, has been forced to publicly identify his Chinese business partner. It emerges as Hollande is mired in financial scandal because his former budget minister concealed a Swiss bank account for 20 years and repeatedly lied about it.

In Mongolia, the country’s former finance minister and deputy speaker of its parliament says he may have to resign from politics as a result of this investigation.

But the two can now be named for the first time because of their use of companies in offshore havens, particularly in the British Virgin Islands, where owners’ identities normally remain secret.

The names have been unearthed in a novel project by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [ICIJ], in collaboration with the Guardian and other international media, who are jointly publishing their research results this week.

The naming project may be extremely damaging for confidence among the world’s wealthiest people, no longer certain that the size of their fortunes remains hidden from governments and from their neighbours.

BVI’s clients include Scot Young, a millionaire associate of deceased oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Dundee-born Young is in jail for contempt of court for concealing assets from his ex-wife.

Young’s lawyer, to whom he signed over power of attorney, appears to control interests in a BVI company that owns a potentially lucrative Moscow development with a value estimated at $100m.

Another is jailed fraudster Achilleas Kallakis. He used fake BVI companies to obtain a record-breaking £750m in property loans from reckless British and Irish banks.

As well as Britons hiding wealth offshore, an extraordinary array of government officials and rich families across the world are identified, from Canada, the US, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, China, Thailand and former communist states.

The data seen by the Guardian shows that their secret companies are based mainly in the British Virgin Islands.

Sample offshore owners named in the leaked files include:

• Jean-Jacques Augier, François Hollande’s 2012 election campaign co-treasurer, launched a Caymans-based distributor in China with a 25% partner in a BVI company. Augier says his partner was Xi Shu, a Chinese businessman.

• Mongolia’s former finance minister. Bayartsogt Sangajav set up “Legend Plus Capital Ltd” with a Swiss bank account, while he served as finance minister of the impoverished state from 2008 to 2012. He says it was “a mistake” not to declare it, and says “I probably should consider resigning from my position”.

• The president of Azerbaijan and his family. A local construction magnate, Hassan Gozal, controls entities set up in the names of President Ilham Aliyev’s two daughters.

• The wife of Russia’s deputy prime minister. Olga Shuvalova’s husband, businessman and politician Igor Shuvalov, has denied allegations of wrongdoing about her offshore interests.

•A senator’s husband in Canada. Lawyer Tony Merchant deposited more than US$800,000 into an offshore trust.

He paid fees in cash and ordered written communication to be “kept to a minimum”.

• A dictator’s child in the Philippines: Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, a provincial governor, is the eldest daughter of former President Ferdinand Marcos, notorious for corruption.

• Spain’s wealthiest art collector, Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, a former beauty queen and widow of a Thyssen steel billionaire, who uses offshore entities to buy pictures.

• US: Offshore clients include Denise Rich, ex-wife of notorious oil trader Marc Rich, who was controversially pardoned by President Clinton on tax evasion charges. She put $144m into the Dry Trust, set up in the Cook Islands.

It is estimated that more than $20tn acquired by wealthy individuals could lie in offshore accounts. The UK-controlled BVI has been the most successful among the mushrooming secrecy havens that cater for them.

The Caribbean micro-state has incorporated more than a million such offshore entities since it began marketing itself worldwide in the 1980s. Owners’ true identities are never revealed.

Even the island’s official financial regulators normally have no idea who is behind them.

The British Foreign Office depends on the BVI’s company licensing revenue to subsidise this residual outpost of empire, while lawyers and accountants in the City of London benefit from a lucrative trade as intermediaries.

They claim the tax-free offshore companies provide legitimate privacy. Neil Smith, the financial secretary of the autonomous local administration in the BVI’s capital Tortola, told the Guardian it was very inaccurate to claim the island “harbours the ethically challenged”.

He said: “Our legislation provides a more hostile environment for illegality than most jurisdictions”.

Smith added that in “rare instances …where the BVI was implicated in illegal activity by association or otherwise, we responded swiftly and decisively”.

The Guardian and ICIJ’s Offshore Secrets series last year exposed how UK property empires have been built up by, among others, Russian oligarchs, fraudsters and tax avoiders, using BVI companies behind a screen of sham directors.

Such so-called “nominees”, Britons giving far-flung addresses on Nevis in the Caribbean, Dubai or the Seychelles, are simply renting out their names for the real owners to hide behind.

The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks caused a storm of controversy in 2010 when it was able to download almost two gigabytes of leaked US military and diplomatic files.

The new BVI data, by contrast, contains more than 200 gigabytes, covering more than a decade of financial information about the global transactions of BVI private incorporation agencies. It also includes data on their offshoots in Singapore, Hong Kong and the Cook Islands in the Pacific.

Grape seed and skin extract – a weapon in the fight against kidney disease caused by high-fat diets

28 February 2013

Ottawa, ON  (February 28, 2013) – New insight into grape seed extract as a therapeutic and preventative measure to fight obesity-induced kidney damage is presented in a new study. Grape seed and skin extract (GSSE) is known to contain powerful antioxidants. This study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, is the first to make a link between GSSEs and high-fat-diet-induced renal disease.

The authors examined the effect of GSSE processed from a grape cultivar (‘Carignan’) of Vitis vinifera from northern Tunisia on rats. Rats were fed a high-fat diet that induced a low-grade reno-lipotoxicity, that is, kidney damage associated with lipids. This was characterized by elevations in plasma urea and protein in the urine. The researchers found increased deposits of triglycerides (TG) (especially saturated fatty acids), increased signs of oxidative stress and depleted copper levels in the kidneys. There was also histological evidence of disturbance in the kidney structure.  When the animals received GSSE at 500 mg/kg bw (which corresponds to 35g/day for a 70 kg human adult) along with the high-fat diet there was a partial reversal of the TG deposition as well as the histological damage.  The authors suggest polyphenols including resveratrol are likely the components in GSSE responsible for the positive effects. Furthermore the GSSE prevented the oxidative stress and copper depletion.

“In our research, obesity-induced leaky kidney and proteinuria are shown to be prevented by GSSE, which suggests the use of GSSE as a preventive nutriceutical for high-risk patients,” said co-author Kamel Charradi, a researcher with the Laboratory of Bioactive Substance at the Center of Biotechnology of Borj-Cedria (CBBC) in Tunisia. This research group has previously published work showing the benefits of GSSE in combating obesity, heart dysfunction, brain lipotoxicity and kidney cancer.

The article “Grape seed and skin extract alleviates high-fat-diet-induced renal lipotoxicity and prevents copper depletion in rats” is available Open Access in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2012-0416


Full Reference: Charradi, K.,  Elkahoui, S., Karkouch, I., Limam, F. Hamdaoui, G., Ben Hassine, F.  El May, M.-V., Ahmed El May, Aouani, E. Grape seed and skin extract alleviates high-fat diet-induced renal lipotoxicity and prevents copper depletion in rat. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 10.1139/apnm-2012-0416.

Related information: Grape seed:

Author Contact: Kamel Charradi   Media Contact (Publisher) Jenny Ryan p. 613-949-8667 email:

About the journal Editor: Dr. Terry Graham (University of Guelph)

One of the NRC Research Press journals, Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism (issued monthly), publishes original research articles, reviews, and commentaries, focusing on the application of physiology, nutrition, and metabolism to the study of human health, physical activity, and fitness. APNM  is affiliated with Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and the Canadian Nutrition Society. The NRC Research Press journals are published by Canadian Science Publishing.

Disclaimer Canadian Science Publishing publishes the NRC Research Press suite of journals but is not affiliated with the National Research Council of Canada.  Papers published by Canadian Science Publishing are peer-reviewed by experts in their field.  The views of the authors in no way reflect the opinions of Canadian Science Publishing or the National Research Council of Canada.  Requests for commentary about the contents of any study should be directed to the authors.

149th Health Research Report 22 FEB 2013

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Health Research Report

149th Issue Date 22 FEB 2013

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano



In this Issue:


1. Infant gut microbiota influenced by cesarean section and breastfeeding practices

2. Analysis finds vitamin D potency varies widely in dietary supplements

3. Yale study links common chemicals to osteoarthritis

4. Building healthy bones takes guts : Lactobacillus reuteri, significant increase in bone density after four weeks

5. Study advances LSUHSC research, shows fish oil component reduces brain damage in newborns – DHA

6. Omega-3 lipid emulsions markedly protect brain after stroke in mouse study

7. Increasing evidence links high glycemic index foods and dairy products to acne

8. Study: Resveratrol shows promise to protect hearing, cognition

9. Mushroom-supplemented soybean extract shows therapeutic promise for advanced prostate cancer

10. OMEGA-3s Inhibit Breast Cancer Tumour Growth, U of G Study Finds

11. Scientists unveil secrets of important natural antibiotic



Infant gut microbiota influenced by cesarean section and breastfeeding practices

Practices may affect health in later life

Method of birth (vaginal birth s. cesarean delivery) and feeding practices (breastfeeding v. formula-feeding) influence the development of gut bacteria in newborns and thus may affect lifelong health, according to a new study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Bacteria in the gut play an important role in health, helping digest food, stimulating the development of the immune system, regulating bowels and protecting against infection. Disruption of the gut microbiota has been linked to a range of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, asthma, cancer and others.

“Our study addresses an important knowledge gap, since the infant gut microbiota has rarely been characterized with sequencing methods that provide sufficient coverage of the entire bacterial community,” writes Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, University of Alberta, with coauthors. “Our findings are particularly timely given the recent affirmation of the gut microbiota as a “super organ” with diverse roles in health and disease, and the increasing concern over rising cesarean delivery and insufficient exclusive breastfeeding in Canada.”

As little is known about the development of this gut microbiota, a team of Canadian researchers sought to understand how the gut microbiome is established during early life, and what factors might disrupt this process. They looked at data on 24 healthy infants as part of the larger Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study. CHILD involves more than 10 000 people, including 3 500 infants in 4 provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario) born after 2010 as well as their parents. The sample was representative of the Canadian newborn population, with 25% born by cesarean delivery, and 42% breastfed exclusively at 4 months of age.

New DNA sequencing technology was used by the research team to better understand the infant gut microbiome. Previous studies of this type have been conducted on laboratory cultures, although they were limited, as about 80% of intestinal microbes cannot be grown in culture. The DNA-based methods used in this study allow detection of virtually all bacteria since laboratory culture is not required.

The researchers found that infants born by cesarean delivery were lacking a specific group of bacteria found in infants delivered vaginally, even if they were breastfed. Infants strictly formula-fed, compared with babies that were exclusively or partially breastfed, also had significant differences in their gut bacteria.

“We want parents (and physicians) to realize that their decisions regarding c-section and breastfeeding can impact their infant’s gut microbiome, and this can have potentially lifelong effects on the child’s health,” says postdoctoral student and first author Meghan Azad, University of Alberta.

“The potential long-term consequences of decisions regarding mode of delivery and infant diet are not to be underestimated,” write the authors. “Infants born by cesarean delivery are at increased risk of asthma, obesity and type 1 diabetes, whereas breastfeeding is variably protective against these and other disorders.”

Beginning before birth, CHILD collects a range of information on environmental exposures such as pets, air pollution, household cleaning products, maternal and infant diet and more, and child health outcomes (including biological samples and clinical assessments). The researchers will use this information to study the development of the gut microbiome and its relationship to conditions such as wheeze and allergies in future studies.

“Children born by cesarean delivery or fed with formula may be at increased risk of a variety of conditions later in life; both processes alter the gut microbiota in healthy infants, which could be the mechanism for the increased risk,” writes Dr. Rob Knight, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist and an Associate Professor with the BioFrontiers Institute and Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States, in a related commentary.

“These issues are of direct relevance to pregnant women and health practitioners and should be considered when choices such as elective cesarean delivery and other interventions are discussed,” state the commentary authors

Analysis finds vitamin D potency varies widely in dietary supplements

Kaiser Permanente analysis finds consumers may not be getting the amount of vitamin D they expect

PORTLAND, Ore., February 11, 2013 – Vitamin D supplement potency varies widely, and the amount of vitamin D in over-the counter and compounded supplements does not necessarily match the amount listed on the label, according to a research letter published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The analysis showed that the amount of vitamin D in these supplements ranged from 9 percent to 146 percent of the amount listed on the label. Not only was there variation among different brands and manufacturers, but also among different pills from the same bottle.

“We were surprised by the variation in potency among these vitamin D pills,” says Erin S. LeBlanc, M.D., MPH, lead author and investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. “The biggest worry is for someone who has low levels of vitamin D in their blood. If they are consistently taking a supplement with little vitamin D in it, they could face health risks.”

According to a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 100 million Americans spend a combined $28 billion on vitamins, herbs, and supplements each year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering new safety guidelines for some supplements but, for the most part, the industry remains unregulated.

Some manufacturers participate in a voluntary quality verification program operated by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP)—an independent, nonprofit organization that sets public standards for the quality of dietary supplements. In order to receive the USP verification mark, manufacturers’ facilities undergo annual good manufacturing practice audits, and their products are tested for quality, potency, and purity. LeBlanc and her colleagues included one supplement from a USP Verified manufacturer in their sample. They found the amount of vitamin D in pills from that bottle was generally more accurate than the other bottles tested.

“The USP verification mark may give consumers some reassurance that the amount of vitamin D in those pills is close to the amount listed on the label,” said Dr. LeBlanc. “There are not many manufacturers that have the USP mark, but it may be worth the extra effort to look for it.”

The researchers tested 55 bottles of over-the-counter vitamin D from 12 different manufacturers. The over-the-counter vitamin D pills used in the analysis were purchased at five different stores in Portland, Ore. The compounded vitamin D was made by a compounding pharmacy in Portland. The analysis was conducted by an independent lab in Houston.

Yale study links common chemicals to osteoarthritis

New Haven, Conn. – A new study has linked exposure to two common perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) with osteoarthritis. PFCs are used in more than 200 industrial processes and consumer products including certain stain- and water-resistant fabrics, grease-proof paper food containers, personal care products, and other items. Because of their persistence, PFCs have become ubiquitous contaminants of humans and wildlife. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first to look at the associations between perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and osteoarthritis, in a study population representative of the United States.

“We found that PFOA and PFOS exposures are associated with higher prevalence of osteoarthritis, particularly in women, a group that is disproportionately impacted by this chronic disease,” said Sarah Uhl, who authored the study along with Yale Professor Michelle L. Bell and Tamarra James-Todd, an epidemiologist at the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The research was the focus of Uhl’s Master’s of Environmental Science Program at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The authors analyzed data from six years of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 2003-2008), which enabled them to account for factors such as age, income, and race/ethnicity. When the researchers looked at men and women separately, they found clear, strong associations for women, but not men. Women in the highest 25% of exposure to PFOA had about two times the odds of having osteoarthritis compared to those in the lowest 25% of exposure.

Although production and usage of PFOA and PFOS have declined due to safety concerns, human and environmental exposure to these chemicals remains widespread. Future studies are needed to establish temporality and shed light on possible biological mechanisms. Reasons for differences in these associations between men and women, if confirmed, also need further exploration. Better understanding the health effects of these chemicals and identifying any susceptible subpopulations could help to inform public health policies aimed at reducing exposures or associated health impacts.

Building healthy bones takes guts :  Lactobacillus reuteri, significant increase in bone density after four weeks

In what could be an early step toward new treatments for people with osteoporosis, scientists at Michigan State University report that a natural probiotic supplement can help male mice produce healthier bones.

Interestingly, the same can’t be said for female mice, the researchers report in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

“We know that inflammation in the gut can cause bone loss, though it’s unclear exactly why,” said lead author Laura McCabe, a professor in MSU’s departments of Physiology and Radiology. “The neat thing we found is that a probiotic can enhance bone density.”

Probiotics are microorganisms that can help balance the immune system. For the study, the researchers fed the mice Lactobacillus reuteri, a probiotic known to reduce inflammation, a sometimes harmful effect of the body’s immune response to infection.

“Through food fermentation, we’ve been eating bacteria that we classify as probiotics for thousands of years,” said co-author Robert Britton, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. “There’s evidence that this bacterium as a species has co-evolved with humans. It’s indigenous to our intestinal tracts and is something that, if missing, might cause problems.”

In the study, the male mice showed a significant increase in bone density after four weeks of treatment. There was no such effect when the researchers repeated the experiment with female mice, an anomaly they’re now investigating.

By 2020, half of all Americans over 50 are expected to have low bone density or osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. About one in two women and one in four men over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Drugs to prevent bone loss in osteoporosis patients are already in wide use, but over the long term they can disrupt the natural remodeling of bone tissue and could potentially have negative side effects that include unusual bone fractures and joint and muscle pain.

McCabe and Britton are quick to point out that this line of research is in its early stages and that results in mice don’t always translate to humans. But they’re hopeful the new study could point the way toward osteoporosis drugs that aren’t saddled with such side effects, especially for people who lose bone density from an early age because of another chronic condition.

“People tend to think of osteoporosis as just affecting postmenopausal women, but what they don’t realize is that it can occur with other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and Type 1 diabetes,” she said. “You don’t want to put your child on medications that reduce bone remodeling for the rest of their life, so something natural could be useful for long-term treatment of bone loss that begins at childhood.”

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and MSU. Research assistants Regina Irwin and Laura Schaefer co-authored the paper

Study advances LSUHSC research, shows fish oil component reduces brain damage in newborns – DHA

New Orleans, LA – Research conducted by a team of scientists from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Dr. Nicolas Bazan, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, found the novel use of a component of fish oil reduced brain trauma in newborn mice. The study reports that neonatal brain damage decreased by about 50% when a triglyceride lipid emulsion containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was injected within two hours of the onset of ischemic stroke. The paper, n-3 Fatty Acid Rich Triglyceride Emulsions are Neuroprotective after Cerebral Hypoxic-Ischemic Injury in Neonatal Mice, is published in the journal, PLOS ONE, available online at

The study compared the effectiveness of emulsions with two omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – as well as optimal doses and therapeutic window. The researchers found that DHA provided protection while EPA did not. The therapeutic window ranged from 90 minutes prior to several hours after with the optimal window for treatment 0 – 2 hours. There was no protective effect at hour 4.

DHA is an essential omega-3-fatty acid and is vital for proper brain function. It is also necessary for the development of the nervous system, including vision. Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, shellfish, and herring, are part of a healthy diet that helps lower the risk of heart disease. DHA has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Since inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases, DHA treatment has been widely demonstrated to have beneficial effects in patients with coronary heart disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, sepsis, cancer, dry eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration. Its potential benefit in stroke is now being documented.

EPA is also an omega-3 fatty acid found in coldwater fish. EPA can prevent the blood from clotting easily. Often paired with DHA in fish oil supplements, these fatty acids are known to reduce pain and swelling.

Ischemic strokes, representing about 87% of strokes, result from loss of blood flow to an area of the brain due to a blockage such as a clot or atherosclerosis. The damage includes an irreversibly injured core of tissue at the site of the blockage. The area of tissue surrounding the core, called the penumbra, is also damaged but potentially salvageable. The penumbra has a limited life span and appears to undergo irreversible damage within a few hours unless blood flow is reestablished and neuroprotective therapy is administered. A cascade of chemicals floods the tissue along with restored blood flow, including damaging free radicals and pro-inflammatory enzymes which can cause further damage and cell death.

Administering clot-busting drugs (thrombolysis) is currently the only treatment for ischemic stroke. But due to a narrow therapeutic window and complexity of administration, only 3–5% of patients typically benefit from thrombolysis.

Dr. Bazan’s group at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence has increasingly shown that DHA is a potentially powerful treatment for stroke for nearly ten years. His study published in 2011 found DHA triggered production of Neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), a naturally occurring neuroprotective molecule in the brain derived from DHA and discovered by Dr. Bazan. Not only did DHA treatment salvage stroke-damaged brain tissue that would have died, its repair mechanisms rendered some areas indistinguishable from normal tissue by 7 days.

“Stroke is a brain attack that each year kills 130,000 Americans,” notes Dr. Bazan. “Strokes can occur at any age, including in newborns, with long-term and devastating consequences. DHA is already widely consumed as a dietary supplement in the US, and from a therapeutic point of view, we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The researchers conclude that the findings suggest a need for further studies to determine if acute injection of these emulsions could be neuroprotective after stroke injury in humans. They also suggest that the emulsion rich in DHA will prove to be a novel and important therapy to treat stroke and could decrease mortality and increase long-term functional recovery after stroke in humans of different ages. The paper’s senior author is Richard Deckelbaum, MD, director of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 795,000 Americans have a stroke each year, and stroke causes 1 in every 18 deaths. Stroke is also a leading cause of long-term disability. Louisiana is among the states with the highest prevalence of stroke. It has been estimated that the direct and indirect costs of stroke in the United States totaled nearly $74 billion in 2010. In addition, with an estimated incidence of 1 in 2300 to 5000 births, stroke is more likely to occur in the perinatal period than at other times in childhood. Ischemic stroke in newborns is a disorder associated with significant long-term neurologic impairment. Twenty to 60% of survivors exhibit long-term detrimental neuropsychological consequences which include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and behavioral disorders.

Omega-3 lipid emulsions markedly protect brain after stroke in mouse study

New York, NY (February 20, 2013) — Triglyceride lipid emulsions rich in an omega-3 fatty acid injected within a few hours of an ischemic stroke can decrease the amount of damaged brain tissue by 50 percent or more in mice, reports a new study by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center.

The results suggest that the emulsions may be able to reduce some of the long-term neurological and behavioral problems seen in human survivors of neonatal stroke and possibly of adult stroke, as well. The findings were published today in the journal PLoS One.

Currently, clot-busting tPA (recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator) is the only treatment shown to improve recovery from ischemic stroke. If administered soon after stroke onset, the drug can restore blood flow to the brain but may not prevent injured, but potentially salvageable, neurons from dying.

Drugs with neuroprotective qualities that can prevent the death of brain cells damaged by stroke are needed, but even after 30 years of research and more than 1000 agents tested in animals, no neuroprotectant has been found effective in people.

Omega-3 fatty acids may have more potential as neuroprotectants because they affect multiple biochemical processes in the brain that are disturbed by stroke, said the study’s senior author, Richard Deckelbaum, MD, director of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons. “The findings also may be applicable to other causes of ischemic brain injury in newborns and adults,” added co-investigator Vadim S. Ten, MD, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics from the Department of Pediatrics at Columbia.

The effects of the omega-3 fatty acids include increasing the production of natural neuroprotectants in the brain, reducing inflammation and cell death, and activating genes that may protect brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids also markedly reduce the release of harmful oxidants into the brain after stroke. “In most clinical trials in the past, the compounds tested affected only one pathway. Omega-3 fatty acids, in contrast, are very bioactive molecules that target multiple mechanisms involved in brain death after stroke,” Dr. Deckelbaum said.

The study revealed that an emulsion containing only DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), but not EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), in a triglyceride molecule reduced the area of dead brain tissue by about 50 percent or more even when administered up to two hours after the stroke. Dr. Deckelbaum noted, “Since mice have a much faster metabolism than humans, longer windows of time for therapeutic effect after stroke are likely in humans.” Eight weeks after the stroke, much of the “saved” mouse brain tissue was still healthy, and no toxic effects were detected.

Studies are currently under way to test the emulsion in older mice and in mice with different types of stroke. The researchers are also conducting additional studies to identify more precisely how the omega-3 emulsion works and to optimize the emulsion in order to improve functional recovery after stroke.

After animal studies on dosages and timing, and if the emulsions continue to show promising results, Dr. Deckelbaum said, clinical trials could begin quickly, as such emulsions have already been shown to be safe in people. Similar emulsions are used in European ICUs for nutrition support, and in the US they have been found to be safe when tested in babies for their nutritive and anti-inflammatory effects.

Increasing evidence links high glycemic index foods and dairy products to acne

Medical nutrition therapy can play an important role, according to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics report

Philadelphia, PA, February 20, 2013 – A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has determined that there is increasing evidence of a connection between diet and acne, particularly from high glycemic load diets and dairy products, and that medical nutrition therapy (MNT) can play an important role in acne treatment.

More than 17 million Americans suffer from acne, mostly during their adolescent and young adult years. Acne influences quality of life, including social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression, making treatment essential. Since the late 1800s, research has linked diet to this common disease, identifying chocolate, sugar, and fat as particular culprits, but beginning in the 1960s, studies disassociated diet from the development of acne.

“This change occurred largely because of the results of two important research studies that are repeatedly cited in the literature and popular culture as evidence to refute the association between diet and acne,” says Jennifer Burris, MS, RD, of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University. “More recently, dermatologists and registered dietitians have revisited the diet-acne relationship and become increasingly interested in the role of medical nutritional therapy in acne treatment.”

Burris and colleagues, William Rietkerk, Department of Dermatology, New York Medical College, and Kathleen Woolf, of New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, conducted a literature review to evaluate evidence for the diet-acne connection during three distinctive time periods: early history, the rise of the diet-acne myth, and recent research.

Culling information from studies between 1960 and 2012 that investigated diet and acne, investigators compiled data for a number of study characteristics, including reference, design, participants, intervention method, primary outcome, results and conclusions, covariate considerations, and limitations.

They concluded that a high glycemic index/glycemic load diet and frequent dairy consumption are the leading factors in establishing the link between diet and acne. They also note that although research results from studies conducted over the last 10 years do not demonstrate that diet causes acne, it may influence or aggravate it.

The study team recommends that dermatologists and registered dietitians work collaboratively to design and conduct quality research. “This research is necessary to fully elucidate preliminary results, determine the proposed underlying mechanisms linking diet and acne, and develop potential dietary interventions for acne treatment,” says Burris. “The medical community should not dismiss the possibility of diet therapy as an adjunct treatment for acne. At this time, the best approach is to address each acne patient individually, carefully considering the possibility of dietary counseling.”

Study: Resveratrol shows promise to protect hearing, cognition

DETROIT – Resveratrol, a substance found in red grapes and red wine, may have the potential to protect against hearing and cognitive decline, according to a published laboratory study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The study shows that healthy rats are less likely to suffer the long-term effects of noise-induced hearing loss when given resveratrol before being exposed to loud noise for a long period of time.

“Our latest study focuses on resveratrol and its effect on bioinflammation, the body’s response to injury and something that is believed to be the cause of many health problems including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, aging and hearing loss,” says study lead author Michael D. Seidman, director of the Division of Otologic/Neurotologic Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital.

“Resveratrol is a very powerful chemical that seems to protect against the body’s inflammatory process as it relates to aging, cognition and hearing loss.”

The study is published online this week ahead of print in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery:

Hearing loss affects nearly one in five Americans. For most, hearing steadily declines with age. Noise-induced hearing loss, too, is a growing medical issue among American troops, with more than 12 percent returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with significant hearing loss.

Noise-induced hearing loss not only impacts a person’s ability to hear, it can cause difficulties with sleep and communication, and even raises the risk for heart disease by increasing a person’s blood pressure, lipids and blood sugar.

Dr. Seidman and his colleagues have published multiple papers exploring noise-induced hearing loss, as well as the use of resveratrol, a grape constituent noted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The latest study focuses the inflammatory process as it relates to aging, cognition and hearing loss.

It was designed to identify the potential protective mechanism of resveratrol following noise exposure by measuring its effect on cyclooxygenase-2 (or COX-2, key to the inflammatory process) protein expression and formation of reactive oxygen species, which plays an important role in cell signaling and homeostasis.

The study reveals that acoustic overstimulation causes a time-depended, up-regulation of COX-2 protein expression. And, resveratrol significantly reduces reactive oxygen species formation, inhibits COX-2 expression and reduces noise-induced hearing loss following noise exposure in rats.

“We’ve shown that by giving animals resveratrol, we can reduce the amount of hearing and cognitive decline,” notes Dr. Seidman.

Ultimately, these findings suggest that resveratrol may exert a protective effect from noise-induced hearing loss by the inhibition of COX-2 expression and reactive oxygen species formation, although other mechanism may also be involved.


Mushroom-supplemented soybean extract shows therapeutic promise for advanced prostate cancer

February 20, 2013

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) —

A natural, nontoxic product called genistein-combined polysaccharide, or GCP, which is commercially available in health stores, could help lengthen the life expectancy of certain prostate cancer patients, UC Davis researchers have found.

Men with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, known as metastatic cancer, and who have had their testosterone lowered with drug therapy are most likely to benefit. The study, recently published in Endocrine-Related Cancer, was conducted in prostate cancer cells and in mice.

Lowering of testosterone, also known as androgen-deprivation therapy, has long been the standard of care for patients with metastatic prostate cancer, but life expectancies vary widely for those who undergo this treatment. Testosterone is an androgen, the generic term for any compound that stimulates or controls development and maintenance of male characteristics by binding to androgen receptors.

The current findings hold promise for GCP therapy as a way to extend life expectancy of patients with low response to androgen-deprivation therapy.

Paramita Ghosh, an associate professor in the UC Davis School of Medicine, led the pre-clinical study with a team that included UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Ralph de Vere White, a UC Davis distinguished professor of urology. Ruth Vinall in the UC Davis Department of Urology and Clifford Tepper in the UC Davis Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine directed the studies in mice; Ghosh’s laboratory conducted the cell studies.

The research focused on GCP, a proprietary extract cultured from soybeans and shiitake mushrooms and marketed by Amino-Up of Sapporo, Japan. Researchers found that the combination of the compounds genistein and daidzein, both present in GCP, helps block a key mechanism used by prostate cancer cells to survive in the face of testosterone deprivation.

The research team had earlier shown that when a patient’s androgen level goes down, cancerous prostate cells kick out a protein known as filamin A, which is otherwise attached to the androgen receptor in the cell’s nucleus. The androgen receptor regulates growth of prostate cancer cells. Once filamin A leaves the cancerous cell’s nucleus, that cell no longer requires androgens to survive. Thus, loss of filamin A allows these cells to survive androgen deprivation, at and the cancer essentially becomes incurable.

The paper, titled “Enhancing the effectiveness of androgen deprivation in prostate cancer by inducing Filamin A nuclear localization,” shows for the first time that GCP keeps filamin A in the nucleus. As long as this protein remains attached to the androgen receptor, the cancerous cells need androgens to survive and grow. They die off when starved of androgens, thus prolonging the effects of androgen deprivation, which ultimately prolongs the patient’s life.

The team’s hypothesis is that metastatic prostate cancer patients with the weakest response to androgen-deprivation therapy could be given GCP concurrently with androgen deprivation therapy to retain Filamin A in the nucleus, thereby allowing cancer cells to die off.

De Vere White is now pursuing funding to begin GCP human clinical trials. Because GCP is a natural product rather than a drug, and requires fewer government approvals, it’s expected that these trials will proceed rapidly once funded.

“We should know within the first eight months or so of human clinical trials if GCP works to reduce PSA levels,” says de Vere White, referring to prostate-specific antigen levels, a tumor marker to detect cancer. “We want to see up to 75 percent of metastatic prostate cancer patients lower their PSA levels, and GCP holds promise of accomplishing this goal. If that happens, it would probably be a greater therapy than any drug today.”

The research was supported by a Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development service Merit Award (I01BX000400) from the Department of Veterans Affairs and by R01CA133209 from the National Cancer Institute.

Other authors were Benjamin A. Mooso, Sheetal Singh, Salma Siddiqui, and Maria Mudryj of the VA Northern California Health Care System; Ruth L. Vinall, Rosalinda M. Savoy, Jean P. Cheung, and Yu Wang of the UC Davis Department of Urology; Clifford G. Tepper, Anthony Martinez, and Hsing-Jien Kung of the UC Davis Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine; and Roble G. Bedolla of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

OMEGA-3s Inhibit Breast Cancer Tumour Growth, U of G Study Finds


February 21, 2013 – News Release

A lifelong diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit growth of breast cancer tumours by 30 per cent, according to new research from the University of Guelph.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, is believed to be the first to provide unequivocal evidence that omega-3s reduce cancer risk.

“It’s a significant finding,” said David Ma, a professor in Guelph’s Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, and one of the study’s authors.

“We show that lifelong exposure to omega-3s has a beneficial role in disease prevention – in this case, breast cancer prevention. What’s important is that we have proven that omega-3s are the driving force and not something else.”

Breast cancer remains the most common form of cancer in women worldwide and is the second leading cause of female cancer deaths.

Advocates have long believed diet may significantly help in preventing cancer. But epidemiological and experimental studies to back up such claims have been lacking, and human studies have been inconsistent, Ma said.

“There are inherent challenges in conducting and measuring diet in such studies, and it has hindered our ability to firmly establish linkages between dietary nutrients and cancer risk,” he said.

“So we’ve used modern genetic tools to address a classic nutritional question.”

For their study, the researchers created a novel transgenic mouse that both produces omega-3 fatty acids and develops aggressive mammary tumours. The team compared those animals to mice genetically engineered only to develop the same tumours.

“This model provides a purely genetic approach to investigate the effects of lifelong omega-3s exposure on breast cancer development,” Ma said.

“To our knowledge, no such approach has been used previously to investigate the role of omega-3s and breast cancer.”

Mice producing omega-3s developed only two-thirds as many tumours – and tumours were also 30-per-cent smaller – as compared to the control mice.

“The difference can be solely attributed to the presence of omega-3s in the transgenic mice – that’s significant,” Ma said.

“The fact that a food nutrient can have a significant effect on tumour development and growth is remarkable and has considerable implications in breast cancer prevention.”

Known as an expert in how fats influence health and disease, Ma hopes the study leads to more research on using diet to reduce cancer risk and on the benefits of healthy living.

“Prevention is an area of growing importance. We are working to build a better planet, and that includes better lifestyle and diet,” he said.

“The long-term consequences of reducing disease incidence can have a tremendous effect on the health-care system.”

The study also involved lead author Mira MacLennan, a former U of G graduate student who is now studying medicine at Dalhousie University; U of G pathobiology professor Geoffrey Wood; former Guelph graduate students Shannon Clarke and Kate Perez; William Muller from McGill University; and Jing Kang from Harvard Medical School.

Funding for this research came from the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance/Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund.

Scientists unveil secrets of important natural antibiotic

An international team of scientists has discovered how an important natural antibiotic called dermcidin, produced by our skin when we sweat, is a highly efficient tool to fight tuberculosis germs and other dangerous bugs.

Their results could contribute to the development of new antibiotics that control multi-resistant bacteria.

Scientists have uncovered the atomic structure of the compound, enabling them to pinpoint for the first time what makes dermcidin such an efficient weapon in the battle against dangerous bugs.

Although about 1700 types of these natural antibiotics are known to exist, scientists did not until now have a detailed understanding of how they work.

The study, carried out by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and from Goettingen, Tuebingen and Strasbourg, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sweat spreads highly efficient antibiotics on to our skin, which protect us from dangerous bugs. If our skin becomes injured by a small cut, a scratch, or the sting of a mosquito, antibiotic agents secreted in sweat glands, such as dermcidin, rapidly and efficiently kill invaders.

These natural substances, known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), are more effective in the long term than traditional antibiotics, because germs are not capable of quickly developing resistance against them.

The antimicrobials can attack the bugs’ Achilles’ heel – their cell wall, which cannot be modified quickly to resist attack. Because of this, AMPs have great potential to form a new generation of antibiotics.

Scientists have known for some time that dermcidin is activated in salty, slightly acidic sweat. The molecule then forms tiny channels perforating the cell membrane of bugs, which are stabilised by charged particles of zinc present in sweat. As a consequence, water and charged particles flow uncontrollably across the membrane, eventually killing the harmful microbes.

Through a combination of techniques, scientists were able to determine the atomic structure of the molecular channel. They found that it is unusually long, permeable and adaptable, and so represents a new class of membrane protein.

The team also discovered that dermcidin can adapt to extremely variable types of membrane. Scientists say this could explain why active dermcidin is such an efficient broad-spectrum antibiotic, able to fend off bacteria and fungi at the same time.

The compound is active against many well-known pathogens such as tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, or Staphylococcus aureus. Multi-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, in particular, have become an increasing threat for hospital patients. They are insensitive towards conventional antibiotics and so are difficult to treat. Staphylococcus aureus infections can lead to life-threatening diseases such as sepsis and pneumonia. The international team of scientists hopes that their results can contribute to the development of a new class of antibiotics that is able to attack such dangerous germs.

Dr Ulrich Zachariae of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics, who took part in the study, said: “Antibiotics are not only available on prescription. Our own bodies produce efficient substances to fend off bacteria, fungi and viruses. Now that we know in detail how these natural antibiotics work, we can use this to help develop infection-fighting drugs that are more effective than conventional antibiotics.”


These reports are done with the appreciation of all the Doctors, Scientist, and other Medical Researchers who sacrificed their time and effort. In order to give people the ability to empower themselves. Without base aspirations of fame, or fortune. Just honorable people, doing honorable things.


Man-made chemicals cited in health scourges -UN report : “a global threat that needs to be resolved,”

Tue, 19 Feb 2013 13:59 GMT


* Childhood cancers, male sperm count cited

* Action said needed to avert global threat

* Product labels may not identify components

By Robert Evans

GENEVA, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Man-made chemicals in everyday products are likely to be at least the partial cause of a global surge in birth deformities, hormonal cancers and psychiatric diseases, a U.N.-sponsored  research team reported on Tuesday.

These substances, dubbed EDCs, could also be linked to a decline in the human male sperm count and female fertility, to an increase in once-rare childhood cancers and to the disappearance of some animal species, they said.

“It is clear that some of these chemical pollutants can affect the endocrinal (hormonal) system and ….may also interfere with the development processes of humans and wildlife species,” the report declared.

The international group, academic experts working under the umbrella of the United Nations environmental and health agencies UNEP and WHO, issued their findings in a paper updating a 2002 study on the potential dangers of synthetic chemicals.

Declaring “a global threat that needs to be resolved,” the team said humans and animals across the planet were probably exposed to hundreds of these often little-studied or understood compounds at any one time.

“We live in a world in which man-made chemicals have become part of everyday life,” said their 28-page report, “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, 2012,” issued as a policy guide for governments.

EDCs include phthalates long used in making plastics soft and flexible. Products made from them include toys, children’s dummies, perfumes and pharmaceuticals, as well as cosmetics like deodorants that are absorbed into the body.

Another is Bisphenol A, or BPA, which is used to harden plastics and is found in food and beverage containers, including some babies’ bottles and the coating of food cans.

A few countries – including the United States, Canada and some European Union members – have already banned the use of some of them in certain products, especially those destined for the use of children.

But, the report said, “many hundreds of thousands” are in use around the world and only a small fraction had been assessed for their potential to spark disease by upsetting the endocrinal, or hormonal, systems of humans and animals.

Experts believe that in general, such chemicals can be absorbed into drinks and food from the containers they come in.


The team, created by a 17-year-old chemical management body called the IOMC working with a range of U.N. agencies, said a key problem was that manufacturers of consumer products did not identify many of their chemical components.

Consequently, the researchers said, they had only been able to look at “the tip of the iceberg”. Disease risk from the use of EDCs – or what could be even more dangerous a combination of them – “may be significantly underestimated.”

Using studies of the effect of the chemicals on humans and animals, the team added, a link to EDCs could be suspected in breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, infertility, asthma, obesity, strokes, and Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases.

Babies exposed to EDCs in the womb or in puberty, these studies suggested, were especially vulnerable to developing these diseases in later life as well as behavioral and learning problems like dyslexia as children.

In many countries, these disorders affected 5-10 percent of babies born, while autism was now recorded at a rate of one percent. Childhood leukemia and brain cancer is also on the rise, according to the report.

“All of these complex non-communicable diseases have both a genetic and an environmental component,” it said.

“Since the increases in incidence and prevalence cannot be due solely to genetics, it is important to focus on understanding the contribution of the environment to these chronic disease trends in humans.”

The researchers said their report had been based largely on studies in the developed world. But the size of the problem in developing countries had yet to be adequately assessed due to a lack of data from Africa, Asia and Latin America.  (Reported by Robert Evans; Editing by Mark Heinrich)–un-report/

Vision restored with total darkness

Contact: Mary Beth O’Leary 617-397-2802 Cell Press

             IMAGE:   Depriving normal visual experience in one eye early in life produces a reduction in visual acuity (amblyopia) for that eye (blue circles) while the acuity of the other eye is…

Click here for more information.     

Restoring vision might sometimes be as simple as turning out the lights. That’s according to a study reported on February 14 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, in which researchers examined kittens with a visual impairment known as amblyopia before and after they spent 10 days in complete darkness.

Researchers Kevin Duffy and Donald Mitchell of Dalhousie University in Canada believe that exposure to darkness causes some parts of the visual system to revert to an early stage in development, when there is greater flexibility.

“There may be ways to increase brain plasticity and recover from disorders such as amblyopia without drug intervention,” Duffy says. “Immersion in total darkness seems to reset the visual brain to enable remarkable recovery.”

Amblyopia affects about four percent of the general population and is thought to develop when the two eyes do not see equally well in early life, as the connections from the eyes to visual areas in the brain are still being refined. Left untreated, that imbalance of vision can lead to permanent vision loss.

In the new study, the researchers examined kittens with amblyopia induced by experimentally depriving them of visual input to one eye. After those animals were plunged into darkness, their vision made a profound and rapid recovery. Further examination suggested that the restoration of vision depends on the loss of neurofilaments that hold the visual system in place. With those stabilizing elements gone, the visual system becomes free to correct itself.

Darkness therapy holds promise for the treatment of children with amblyopia, the researchers say, but don’t try this at home. They think that the darkness must be absolute to work, with no stray light at any time. It is also important to address the original cause of the amblyopia first, and to ensure that a period of darkness will not harm an individual’s good eye.

The researchers are still working out just how much darkness is required, and for how long. Regardless, they say it is unlikely that a drug could ever adequately mimic the effects of darkness that they’ve seen.

“The advantage of a simple nonpharmacological sensory manipulation, such as a period of darkness, is that it may initiate changes in a constellation of molecules in a beneficial temporal order and in appropriate brain regions,” they write.



Current Biology, Duffy et al.: “Darkness alters maturation of visual cortex and promotes fast recovery from monocular deprivation.”

State Department must explain the secrecy surrounding its plans to give Mexican nationals Social Security benefits

Mexican Social Security Deal Gets Another Look


(CN) – The State Department must explain the secrecy surrounding its plans to give Mexican nationals Social Security benefits, a federal judge ruled, siding with a group of senior citizens.

Mexico and the United States reached a “totalization agreement” on Social Security benefits in 2004, but the U.S. Senate must still ratify it.

The Social Security Administration says such international agreements have been around since the 1970s, and that they aim to coordinate the U.S. Social Security program with the comparable programs of other countries.

An agreement with Mexico saves U.S. workers and their employers about $140 million in Mexican social security and health insurance taxes over the first five years of the agreement, according to a statement from the agency.

While the agreement with Canada came at a cost of $197 million to the U.S. system in 2002, the agency says that the Mexico agreement will cost the U.S. system about $105 million per year over the first five years.

Trying to learn more, TREA Senior Citizens League filed a Freedom of information Act request in July 2008 for 19 specific categories of records on the Mexico agreement created since 2001.

The nonprofit takes its name from The Retired Enlisted Association that established it as a special project in 1992.

Having waited nearly a year for the State Department to even acknowledge receipt of its request, TREA filed an administrative appeal in February 2010 because the agency still given a final determination about what it would produce.

Since it had not effectively denied the request, however, the State Department said that TREA’s sole recourse was to file a federal complaint.

TREA did just that in August 2010. By March 2012, meanwhile, the State Department had sent the group nine letters about its search, which identified 124 unique, responsive documents.

The agency claimed withheld 21 records from this trove pursuant to FOIA exemptions, and 19 documents withheld either in whole or in part remained contested by the time it renewed a motion for summary judgment in 2012.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell refused Thursday to review the 19 documents in camera, but sided with the government as to its explanation for withholding just three of those records.

“Should the defendant continue to withhold these sixteen documents, the defendant will be required to submit supplementary declarations that address the deficiencies discussed above,” he wrote. “Accordingly, if the defendant elects to continue to withhold these sixteen documents, it shall file jointly with the plaintiff, within twenty days, a proposed scheduling order to govern the timing of further proceedings in this action, including the filing of any further dispositive motions.”

As opposed to an in camera review, a public agency explanation of its reasons for withholding would “foment government transparency,” the decision states.


Infant gut microbiota influenced by cesarean section and breastfeeding practices ( Lifelong Effects )

Contact: Kim Barnhardt 613-520-7116 x2224 Canadian Medical Association Journal

Practices may affect health in later life

Method of birth (vaginal birth s. cesarean delivery) and feeding practices (breastfeeding v. formula-feeding) influence the development of gut bacteria in newborns and thus may affect lifelong health, according to a new study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Bacteria in the gut play an important role in health, helping digest food, stimulating the development of the immune system, regulating bowels and protecting against infection. Disruption of the gut microbiota has been linked to a range of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, asthma, cancer and others.

“Our study addresses an important knowledge gap, since the infant gut microbiota has rarely been characterized with sequencing methods that provide sufficient coverage of the entire bacterial community,” writes Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, University of Alberta, with coauthors. “Our findings are particularly timely given the recent affirmation of the gut microbiota as a “super organ” with diverse roles in health and disease, and the increasing concern over rising cesarean delivery and insufficient exclusive breastfeeding in Canada.”

As little is known about the development of this gut microbiota, a team of Canadian researchers sought to understand how the gut microbiome is established during early life, and what factors might disrupt this process. They looked at data on 24 healthy infants as part of the larger Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study. CHILD involves more than 10 000 people, including 3 500 infants in 4 provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario) born after 2010 as well as their parents. The sample was representative of the Canadian newborn population, with 25% born by cesarean delivery, and 42% breastfed exclusively at 4 months of age.

New DNA sequencing technology was used by the research team to better understand the infant gut microbiome. Previous studies of this type have been conducted on laboratory cultures, although they were limited, as about 80% of intestinal microbes cannot be grown in culture. The DNA-based methods used in this study allow detection of virtually all bacteria since laboratory culture is not required.

The researchers found that infants born by cesarean delivery were lacking a specific group of bacteria found in infants delivered vaginally, even if they were breastfed. Infants strictly formula-fed, compared with babies that were exclusively or partially breastfed, also had significant differences in their gut bacteria.

“We want parents (and physicians) to realize that their decisions regarding c-section and breastfeeding can impact their infant’s gut microbiome, and this can have potentially lifelong effects on the child’s health,” says postdoctoral student and first author Meghan Azad, University of Alberta.

“The potential long-term consequences of decisions regarding mode of delivery and infant diet are not to be underestimated,” write the authors. “Infants born by cesarean delivery are at increased risk of asthma, obesity and type 1 diabetes, whereas breastfeeding is variably protective against these and other disorders.”

Beginning before birth, CHILD collects a range of information on environmental exposures such as pets, air pollution, household cleaning products, maternal and infant diet and more, and child health outcomes (including biological samples and clinical assessments).  The researchers will use this information to study the development of the gut microbiome and its relationship to conditions such as wheeze and allergies in future studies.

“Children born by cesarean delivery or fed with formula may be at increased risk of a variety of conditions later in life; both processes alter the gut microbiota in healthy infants, which could be the mechanism for the increased risk,” writes Dr. Rob Knight, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist and an Associate Professor with the BioFrontiers Institute and Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States, in a related commentary.

“These issues are of direct relevance to pregnant women and health practitioners and should be considered when choices such as elective cesarean delivery and other interventions are discussed,” state the commentary authors

Stop REPORTING the Monsanto Cucumber Baldness article ( Can’t find any valid confirmation)

EEV: The following  article  is currently being accepted as real news by the Blogs…. There are no footnotes, references, publications, etc… No one is even bothering to see what the Lapine paper is….

If anyone has any validating info in regards to this claim…Please let me know. Until then the ONLY validating information is from the exact same paper who did the initial reporting… amusing yes until it validated all it is, is entertainment

Monsanto Cucumbers Cause Genital Baldness — Immediately Banned in Nova Scotia

A six-month study by AgriSearch, an on-campus research arm of Dalhousie University, has shown that genetically modified (GM) cucumbers grown under license to Monsanto Inc. result in serious side effects including total groin hair loss and chafing in “sensitive areas”, leading to the immediate and total ban of sales of all that company’s crop and subsequent dill pickles.

The tracking study of 643 men and women in Nova Scotia came about after reports began to surface about bald field mice and the bald feral cats that ate them being discovered by farmers on acreages growing the new crop.

“The bald wild animals raised a huge flag and we immediately obtained subpoenas for the medical records of all 600 plus adults who took part in focus groups and taste tests of the cucumbers by Monsanto in Canada,” said Dr. Nancy Walker, Director of Public Health Research at Dalhousie.  “Fully 3/4 of the people who ate these cukes had their crotch area hair fall out.  This is not a joking matter at all…these people now have hairless heinies.”

Nova Scotia became the first province or state in North America to ban a Monsanto GM food product, although GM corn and other food crops are currently outlawed in Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece and Hungary.  Governments in Australia, Spain, UK, France, Turkey, India and Mexico have public petitions or legislative bills under consideration.  Californians recently voted down a bill that would have required all GM foods to be clearly labeled.  Monsanto cucumbers have been ordered removed from all food stores in Nova Scotia, while Quebec stores have begun a voluntary removal, partially because the UPC code stickers contain some English.

“I pulled down my boxer shorts to get ready for bed one night and there it was…a pile of hair that looked like a chihuahua puppy,” said Eric LaMaze, who was paid $50 by Monsanto to compare the tastes of natural cucumbers to Monsanto GM cucumbers in March of this year in Halifax.  “Then I saw my bits and whoa they were like all shiny skin.  Bald.”

Mr. LaMaze and other taste test participants said the GM cucumbers tasted the same as the naturally grown cucumbers but made a slight “fizzing noise” when swallowed.  The participants also complained of raw skin in their genital area and some bed wetting.

Monsanto Inc., a self-described Sustainable Agriculture Company based in Creve Coeur, Missouri, where they share offices with major shareholder Bain Capital, issued a statement saying, “Next generation fruits and vegetables, including VO5 cucumbers, are safe for human consumption with some potential minor side effects.  Some fine-tuning is underway.”

McDonald’s Corp. issued a statement following the Nova Scotia ban announcing that they will replace dill and sweet cucumber pickles on their burgers with non-GM pickled zucchini as a precaution until it is proven that no Monsanto pickles were sold into the North American market.  McDonald’s website contains a bulletin to that effect and includes a revised hip-hop Big Mac jingle that now sings, “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickled zuke, onions on a sesame seed bun.”

Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq said a Canada-wide recall and ban will be issued within 24 hours.  “The Government of Canada takes this very, very seriously,” said the Minister.  “Being hairless down there should be a matter of personal choice for Canadian men and women and not one taken away by a cucumber.”

“They used to have the real cucumber slices in those salad things at the City Hall Dining Club,” sighed Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on the courthouse steps after being impeached by a Provincial Judge. “Those were good times…”

Robin Steel Reporting for The Lapine

Herbal treatments for postmenopausal symptoms can be recommended as an alternative to HRT

Contact: Rebecca Jones 020-777-26444 Wiley

Herbal and complementary medicines could be recommended as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for treating postmenopausal symptoms says a new review published today in The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (TOG).

The review outlines the advantages and limitations of both pharmacological and herbal and complementary treatments for women with postmenopausal symptoms.

The menopause is defined as the time after a woman’s menstrual periods have ceased (12 months after a woman’s final menstrual period). It is associated with an estrogen deficiency and can cause an increase in vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes), genitourinary symptoms (vaginal dryness, sexual dysfunction, frequent urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence), and musculoskeletal symptoms (joint pain) as well as sleep and mood disturbance.

One of the most common menopausal symptoms is hot flushes; approximately two-thirds of postmenopausal women will experience them, and 20% of women can experience them for up to 15 years, states the review.

Estrogen deficiency can also lead to longer-term health issues such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. While pharmacological agents are available to treat postmenopausal symptoms, many non-pharmacological treatment options are also available.

HRT is the most effective treatment of hot flushes, improving symptoms in 80 – 90% of women, says the review. However, the author notes that there are possible health risks associated with HRT, such as links to breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and cardiovascular problems.

Due to these possible risks, other treatment options may be equally effective, such as behaviour modification and herbal and complimentary medicines, says the author.

The review states that as many as 50 – 75% of postmenopausal women use herbal options to treat hot flushes, and of the complimentary therapies, soy, red clover and black cohosh have been the most investigated.

Soy is the most common plant containing estrogen, found naturally in food and supplements. Previous research has shown a reduction in hot flush symptoms with soy ranging from 20 – 55%. Red clover, a legume also containing estrogen, and black cohosh, a plant originating from the eastern United States and Canada, have also been reported to ease postmenopausal symptoms.

The author of the review recommends these herbal treatments as there are no significant adverse side effects associated with them, as long as they are used in women who do not have a personal history of breast cancer, are not at high risk for breast cancer, and are not taking tamoxifen. However, the review notes that herbal medicines are not regulated in many countries, and therefore the contents of a given product may vary from sample to sample.

Iris Tong, Director of Women’s Primary Care at the Women’s Medicine Collaborative, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island, and author of the review said:

“Up to 75% of women use herbal and complimentary medicines to treat their postmenopausal symptoms. Therefore, it is vitally important for healthcare providers to be aware of and informed about the non-pharmacological therapies available for women who are experiencing postmenopausal symptoms and who are looking for an alternative to HRT.”

TOG‘s Editor –in-Chief, Jason Waugh said:

“Postmenopausal symptoms can be very distressing and it is important to review the advantages and limitations of the non-pharmacological treatments available as well as the pharmacological ones. Even simple behaviour modification can make a difference to postmenopausal symptoms, including keeping the room temperature cool, wearing layered clothing, relaxation techniques and smoking cessation.”

Uncovering how morphine increases pain in some people

Contact: Jean-François Huppé 418-656-7785 Université Laval

The pain puzzle:

Researchers discover new pathway to reduce paradoxical pain

Quebec City & Toronto, January 6, 2013—For individuals with agonizing pain, it is a cruel blow when the gold-standard medication actually causes more pain. Adults and children whose pain gets worse when treated with morphine may be closer to a solution, based on research published in the January 6 on-line edition of Nature Neuroscience.

“Our research identifies a molecular pathway by which morphine can increase pain, and suggests potential new ways to make morphine effective for more patients,” says senior author Dr. Yves De Koninck, Professor at Université Laval in Quebec City. The team included researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec, the US and Italy.

New pathway in pain management

The research not only identifies a target pathway to suppress morphine-induced pain but teases apart the pain hypersensitivity caused by morphine from tolerance to morphine, two phenomena previously considered to be caused by the same mechanisms.

“When morphine doesn’t reduce pain adequately the tendency is to increase the dosage. If a higher dosage produces pain relief, this is the classic picture of morphine tolerance, which is very well known. But sometimes increasing the morphine can, paradoxically, makes the pain worse,” explains co-author Dr. Michael Salter. Dr. Salter is Senior Scientist and Head of Neurosciences & Mental Health at SickKids, Professor of Physiology at University of Toronto, and Canada Research Chair in Neuroplasticity and Pain.

“Pain experts have thought tolerance and hypersensitivity (or hyperalgesia) are simply different reflections of the same response,” says Dr. De Koninck, “but we discovered that cellular and signalling processes for morphine tolerance are very different from those of morphine-induced pain.”

Dr. Salter adds, “We identified specialized cells – known as microglia – in the spinal cord as the culprit behind morphine-induced pain hypersensitivity. When morphine acts on certain receptors in microglia, it triggers the cascade of events that ultimately increase, rather than decrease, activity of the pain-transmitting nerve cells.”

The researchers also identified the molecule responsible for this side effect of morphine. “It’s a protein called KCC2, which regulates the transport of chloride ions and the proper control of sensory signals to the brain,” explains Dr. De Koninck. “Morphine inhibits the activity of this protein, causing abnormal pain perception. By restoring normal KCC2 activity we could potentially prevent pain hypersensitivity.” Dr. De Koninck and researchers at Université Laval are testing new molecules capable of preserving KCC2 functions and thus preventing hyperalgesia.

The KCC2 pathway appears to apply to short-term as well as to long-term morphine administration, says Dr. De Koninck. “Thus, we have the foundation for new strategies to improve the treatment of post-operative as well as chronic pain.”

Dr. Salter adds, “Our discovery could have a major impact on individuals with various types of intractable pain, such as that associated with cancer or nerve damage, who have stopped morphine or other opiate medications because of pain hypersensitivity.”

Cost of pain

Pain has been labelled the silent health crisis, afflicting tens of millions of people worldwide.  Pain has a profound negative effect on the quality of human life. Pain affects nearly all aspects of human existence, with untreated or under-treated pain being the most common cause of disability.  The Canadian Pain Society estimates that chronic pain affects at least one in five Canadians and costs Canada $55-60 billion per year, including health care expenses and lost productivity.

“People with incapacitating pain may be left with no alternatives when our most powerful medications intensify their suffering,” says Dr. De Koninck, who is also Director of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec.

Dr. Salter adds, “Pain interferes with many aspects of an individual’s life.  Too often, patients with chronic pain feel abandoned and stigmatized. Among the many burdens on individuals and their families, chronic pain is linked to increased risk of suicide. The burden of chronic pain affects children and teens as well as adults.” These risks affect individuals with many types of pain, ranging from migraine and carpel-tunnel syndrome to cancer, AIDS, diabetes, traumatic injuries, Parkinson’s disease and dozens of other conditions.



Canadian funding for this international research included Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Krembil Foundation, Ontario Research Fund Research Excellence Program, Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec, Canada Research Chair funding, The Anne and Max Tanenbaum Chair Program, SickKids Foundation, and Université Laval.

About Université Laval

Located in Quebec City, the province’s historic capital and a World Heritage City, Université Laval is the first French-language university in North America. It is one of Canada’s leading research universities, ranking 7th among the country’s 94 university-level institutions in terms of research funding with $300 million devoted to research last year. Université Laval’s 1,500 professors-researchers share their knowledge with 45,000 students, 10,000 of whom are enrolled in graduate-level programs. For more information, please visit

About the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec

The Research Centre of the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec (IUSMQ) is one of Canada’s leading and fastest growing institutions dedicated to understanding the causes of neurological and psychiatric diseases in children, adults and the elderly and to improving their treatment. Founded more than 25 years ago in Quebec City and affiliated with Université Laval, the Research Centre brings together some 400 researchers, trainees and research professionals in uniquely trans-disciplinary efforts to solve the mysteries of the healthy and diseased brain and to further the development of novel therapeutics.

About The Hospital for Sick Children

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally. Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized family-centred care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health-care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children. A Better World. For more information, please visit

About SickKids Centre for Research and Learning

The SickKids Centre for Research and Learning will bring together researchers from different scientific disciplines and a variety of clinical perspectives, to accelerate discoveries, new knowledge and their application to child health – a different concept from traditional research building designs. The facility will physically connect SickKids science, discovery and learning activities to its clinical operations.  Designed by award-winning architects Diamond + Schmitt Inc. and HDR Inc. with a goal to achieve LEED® Gold Certification for sustainable design, the Centre will create an architectural landmark as the eastern gateway to Toronto’s Discovery District. The SickKids Centre for Research and Learning is funded by a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of Ontario, philanthropist Peter Gilgan and community support for the ongoing fundraising campaign. For more information, please visit


Yves De Koninck Faculty of Medicine Université Laval Quebec City, Canada

Polly Thompson  The Hospital for Sick Children Toronto, Canada (416) 813-7654, ext. 2059

No standard for the placebo? ” placebo ingredients for pills were disclosed in fewer than 10 percent of cases “

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Debra Kain 619-543-6163 University of California – San Diego

Much of medicine is based on what is considered the strongest possible evidence: The placebo-controlled trial. A paper published in the October 19 issue of  Annals of Internal Medicine – entitled “What’s In Placebos: Who Knows?” calls into question this foundation upon which much of medicine rests, by showing that there is no standard behind the standard – no standard for the placebo.

The thinking behind relying on placebo-controlled trials is this: to be sure a treatment itself is effective, one needs to compare people whose only difference is whether or not they are taking the drug. Both groups should equally think they are on the drug – to protect against effects of factors like expectation. So study participants are allocated “randomly” to the drug or a “placebo” – a pill that might be mistaken for the active drug but is inert.

But, according to the paper’s author, Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, this standard has a fundamental problem, “there isn’t anything actually known to be physiologically inert. On top of that, there are no regulations about what goes into placebos, and what is in them is often determined by the makers of the drug being studied, who have a vested interest in the outcome. And there has been no expectation that placebos’ composition be disclosed. At least then readers of the study might make up their own mind about whether the ingredients in the placebo might affect the interpretation of the study.”

Golomb pointed out these limitations to the placebo in a pair of letters to the journal Nature 15 years ago.

“A positive or negative effect of the placebo can lead to the misleading appearance of a negative or positive effect of the drug,” she said. “And an effect in the same direction as the drug can lead a true effect of the drug to be lost. These concerns aren’t just theoretical. Where the composition has been disclosed, the ingredients of the placebo have in some instances had a likely impact on the result of the study – in either direction (obscuring a real effect, or creating a spurious one). In the cases we know about, this is not because of any willful manipulation, but because it can in fact be difficult to come up with a placebo that does not have some kind of problem.”

Since 15 years have elapsed, the situation might have improved. Therefore, Golomb and her colleagues analyzed just how often randomized trials published in the past two years in each of the top four general medical journals actually disclosed the makeup of placebos.

The answer is not reassuring, according to the researchers, who found that the placebo ingredients for pills were disclosed in fewer than 10 percent of cases. (The nature of the “control” was significantly more likely to be stated for other types of treatments – like injections, acupuncture, or surgery – where people are more likely to question what “placebo” actually means.)

“How often study results are affected by what’s in the placebo is hard to say – because, as this study showed, most of the time we have no idea what the placebo is,” Golomb concluded.


Additional contributors to the study included Laura C. Erickson, BS, Sabrina Koperski, BS, Deanna Sack, BS, and UCSD Department of Medicine; Murray Enkin, MD, Departments of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada; and Jeremy Howick, PhD, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford, England.

Vitamin C rapidly improves emotional state of acutely hospitalized patients, say LDI researchers

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Mark Shainblum 514-340-8222 x6592 Jewish General Hospital

Simple treatment may counteract widespread problem of subnormal vitamin levels in acute-care patients

This release is available in French.

Treatment with vitamin C rapidly improves the emotional state of acutely hospitalized patients, according to a study carried out by researchers at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital (JGH) and the affiliated Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (LDI).

In a double-blind clinical trial, patients admitted to the JGH were randomly assigned to receive either vitamin C or vitamin D supplements for seven to ten days. Patients administered vitamin C had a rapid and statistically and clinically significant improvement in mood state, but no significant change in mood occurred with vitamin D, the researchers discovered. Their results were published recently in the journal Nutrition.

“Earlier studies, both in our hospital and in other centres, demonstrated that the majority of acutely hospitalized patients have subnormal levels of vitamins C and D in their blood,” said Dr. L. John Hoffer, MD, PhD, an investigator at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research.

“About one in five acute-care patients in our hospital have vitamin C levels so low as to be compatible with scurvy,” added Hoffer, also a Senior Physician in the Divisions of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, and a professor of medicine at McGill University.  “But patients are rarely given vitamin supplements. Most physicians are simply unaware of the problem. Subclinical deficiencies of vitamin C and D have each been linked to psychological abnormalities, so we examined that aspect in our clinical trial.”

“The lack of any effect of vitamin D on mood is good evidence we are not dealing with a placebo response,” said Dr. Hoffer. “This looks like a true biological effect. Our finding definitely requires follow up in larger studies in other centres,” he said. “The treatment is safe, simple and cheap, and could have major clinical practice implications.”




Mark Shainblum Research Communications Officer Jewish General Hospital  Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research Tel.: 514-340-8222 x 6592 Email: mshainblum@jgh, Website:

About the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital

The Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (LDI), located in Montreal, Quebec, is the research arm at the Jewish General Hospital, and has strong academic ties to McGill University. With over 150 affiliated researchers, the LDI is one of the largest and most important biomedical research institutes in Quebec and all of Canada. Major breakthroughs have been made by LDI researchers in the areas of HIV/ AIDS, aging, cancer, vascular disease, epidemiology and psychosocial science, and have thereby contributed to the health and well-being of millions of patients in Montreal, across Quebec and around the world.  Website:

About the Jewish General Hospital

Now in its landmark 75th year of providing Care for All, the Jewish General Hospital has been a mainstay of superior medical care for generations of patients of all backgrounds. One of Quebec’s largest and busiest acute-care hospitals, the JGH is committed to improving the quality of healthcare for all Quebecers in partnership with the provincial healthcare network. In this anniversary year, the Jewish General Hospital has redoubled its commitment providing patients the best possible care in a clean, safe and human-centered environment. The JGH is able to deliver these pioneering, innovative medical services by strengthening its role as a McGill University teaching hospital, by expanding and upgrading its facilities, and by pursuing cutting-edge research at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research. Website:

Xenical and Alli, inhibits a key enzyme that may lead to “severe toxicity of internal organs such as the liver and kidney.” The inhibition is irreversible and can be caused by a low level of the drug.

Contact: Dave Lavallee 401-874-5862 University of Rhode Island

Pharmacy researcher finds most popular weight-loss drug strongly alters other drug therapies

KINGSTON, R.I.— December 10, 2012 – A University of Rhode Island researcher has discovered that the weight-loss drug orlistat, known by the brand names Xenical and Alli, inhibits a key enzyme that may lead to “severe toxicity of internal organs such as the liver and kidney.” The inhibition is irreversible and can be caused by a low level of the drug.

Professor Bingfang Yan’s study funded by the National Institutes of Health, also found that the drug alters efficacy of medicines, and particularly limits the effectiveness of some anti-cancer drugs.

Part of the research results will be published in the journal, Biochemical Pharmacology, which has the article posted on its website today. Yan also alerted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to his findings.

Orlistat, which was originally approved by the FDA in 1999 as the prescription drug Exenical, was approved in 2007 as the over-the-counter medication Alli. It has been the most commonly used medicine to treat obesity for more than a decade, Yan said.

“Since it has been available over–the-counter, there has been a drastic increase of toxicity among patients using the drug,” Yan said. “It has been linked to severe liver failure, acute pancreatic failure and acute renal (kidney) failure.”

Yan said orlistat works in the intestinal tract by preventing fat from being absorbed by the body. It is generally accepted that orlistat remains in the intestine and that the body does not absorb it.

“But orlistat is reportedly absorbed, and certainly internal organs such as the liver and kidney are exposed to this drug upon absorption,” he said.

The study showed that the drug is a potent inhibitor of carboxylesterase-2, which is a major detoxification enzyme in the liver, kidney and gastrointestinal track. “When the activity of this enzyme drop in those organs, toxicity increases or the efficacy of some drugs are altered,” Yan said.

The enzyme is known to metabolize a wide range of medicines including aspirin and the cancer drugs irinotecan and pentyl carbamate of p-aminobenzyl carbamate of doxazolidine.

“This study shows that orlistat profoundly alters the therapeutic potential of the anti-cancer drugs,” Yan said. “In the case of the anti-cancer drugs, it weakens their effectiveness.”

Prior or co-presence of orlistat with one of the anti-cancer drugs resulted in cancer cells being far more prolific.

“Alli-based interactions can be key factors in the efficacy of medicines,” Yan said.

Yan was also interested in Alli’s effects on aspirin and its use as a blood thinner. “Aspirin is used to treat blood clots. Yan predicated: “Orlistat would increase the therapeutic potential of aspirin, which may increase the tendency of bleeding.”

This isn’t the first time that Yan has found critical drug interactions in his studies.

In 2006, he discovered that the anti-viral drug Tamiflu would be rendered ineffective in patients also taking the anti-clotting drug Plavix. His published findings have resulted in new dosing regimens for patients who need both drugs.

Yan is one of the authors of the 6-volume Encyclopedia of Drug Metabolism and Interactions.  This state-of-the-art integrated reference represents a global effort and presents more than 120 chapters by prominent authors from 11 different countries: the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Singapore, India, Japan, France, Denmark, and Switzerland.

Progesterone (NOT Progestin) is effective for hot flash treatment and provides an alternative to estrogen

2010 study posted for filing


Postmenopausal women who experience bothersome hot flashes or night sweats may have an alternative treatment to estrogen. According to a new study, oral micronized progesterone relieves those symptoms. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.


“This is the first evidence that oral micronized progesterone, which is molecularly identical to the natural hormone, is effective for women with symptomatic hot flashes,” said the presenting author, Jerilynn Prior, MD, professor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Available only by prescription and sold under the brand name Prometrium in the United States and Canada, this form of progesterone is manufactured from a steroid in yams.


“Vasomotor symptoms”—hot flashes (sometimes called hot flushes) and night sweats—are experienced by most women during the years around the final menstrual period. In the most symptomatic women (at least 5-10%) these symptoms disturb sleep, energy and quality of life, Prior said.


The researchers recruited 114 healthy postmenopausal women seeking hormonal therapy for hot flashes and night sweats and randomly assigned them to take either oral micronized progesterone or an inactive substance (placebo), both as three round capsules at bedtime. Neither the women nor the study team members were aware which treatment the study participants received during the three months of therapy. The time since their last menstrual flow was one to 10 years, with an average of four years. To be eligible to participate in the study, women could not have taken ovarian hormone therapy within the past six months.


Prior and Christine Hitchcock, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, calculated the average daily vasomotor symptom score, or VMSScore, from the data that subjects recorded in a daily diary. This score reflects both intensity and number for hot flashes and night sweats each day.


Progesterone, in a 300-milligram dose, was more effective than placebo at decreasing the intensity and number of symptoms, the authors reported, and the difference was both statistically significant and clinically important. The 68 women taking progesterone showed a 56% improvement from baseline in VMSScore, and a 48% reduction in the number of VMS; the 46 women taking placebo had 28% lower VMSScores and a 22% reduction in number.


“Women improve very quickly on oral micronized progesterone. The improvement is apparent within the first 4 weeks,” Prior said.


Micronized progesterone did not cause any serious side effects, she said. The drug may be an option for postmenopausal women who do not want to or should not take estrogen—”currently the only effective therapy for decreasing severe vasomotor symptoms,” Prior said.

Health, life insurers hold $1.88 billion in fast-food stocks: AJPH article

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Mark Almberg mark@pnhp.org312-782-6006 Physicians for a National Health Program

Harvard researchers say insurers put profits over health

Just weeks after the passage of a health bill that will dramatically increase the number of Americans covered by private health insurers, Harvard researchers have detailed the extent to which life and health insurance companies are major investors in the fast-food industry – to the tune of nearly $2 billion.

Although fast food can be consumed responsibly, research has shown that fast-food consumption is linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease, two leading causes of death, and contributes to the poor health of children. The evidence is so compelling that as part of the new health law more than 200,000 fast-food and other chain restaurants will be required to include calorie counts on their menus, including their drive-through menus.

A new article on insurance company holdings, published online in today’s [Thursday, April 15] American Journal of Public Health, shows that U.S., Canadian and European-based insurance firms hold at least $1.88 billion of investments in fast-food companies.

“These data raise questions about the opening of vast new markets for private insurers at public expense, as is poised to happen throughout the United States as a result of the recent health care overhaul,” says lead author Dr. Arun Mohan.

Among the largest owners of fast-food stock are U.S.-based Prudential Financial, Northwestern Mutual and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, and European-based ING.

U.S.-based Northwestern Mutual and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company both offer life insurance as well as disability and long-term care insurance. Northwestern Mutual owns $422.2 million of fast-food stock, with $318.1 million of McDonald’s. Mass Mutual owns $366.5 million of fast-food stock, including $267.2 in McDonald’s.

Holland-based ING, an investment firm that also offers life and disability insurance, has total fast-food holdings of $406.1 million, including $12.3 million in Jack in the Box, $311 million in McDonald’s, and $82.1 million in Yum! Brands (owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell) stock.

New Jersey-based Prudential Financial Inc. sells life insurance and long-term disability coverage. With total fast-food holdings of $355.5 million, Prudential Financial owns $197.2 of stock in McDonald’s and also has significant stakes in Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box, and Yum! Brands.

The researchers also itemize the fast-food holdings of London-based Prudential Plc, U.K.-based Standard Life, U.S.-based New York Life, Scotland-based Guardian Life, Canada-based Manulife and Canada-based Sun Life. (Table of data available at ; all data current as of June 11, 2009.)

“Our data illustrate the extent to which the insurance industry seeks to turn a profit above all else,” says Dr. Wesley Boyd, senior author of the study. “Safeguarding people’s health and well-being take a back seat to making money.”

Mohan, Boyd and their co-authors, Drs. Danny McCormick, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, all at the Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School, culled their data from Icarus, a proprietary database of industrial, banking and insurance companies. Icarus draws upon Securities and Exchange Commission filings and news reports from providers like Dow Jones and Reuters. In addition, the authors obtained market capitalization data from Yahoo! Finance.

The authors write, “The health bill just enacted in Washington will likely expand the reach of the insurance industry. Canada and Britain are also considering further privatization of health insurance. Our article highlights the tension between profit maximization and the public good these countries face in expanding the role of private health insurers. If insurers are to play a greater part in the health care delivery system they ought to be held to a higher standard of corporate responsibility.”

Several of these same researchers, all of whom are affiliated with Physicians for a National Health Program, have previously published data about the extent to which the insurance industry is invested in tobacco. They say that because private, for-profit insurers have repeatedly put their own financial gain over the public’s health, readers in the United States, Canada and Europe should be wary about insurance firms’ participation in care.


“Life and Health Insurance Industry Investments in Fast Food,” Arun V. Mohan, M.D., M.B.A.; Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.; David U. Himmelstein, M.D.; and J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., Ph.D. American Journal of Public Health, April 15, 2010.

Physicians for a National Health Program ( is an organization of 17,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance. To speak with a physician/spokesperson in your area, visit or call (312) 782-6006.

Physicians for a National Health Program 29 E. Madison St., Suite 602
Chicago IL 60602 (312) 782-6006

Seasonal flu vaccination increase the risk of infection with pandemic H1N1 flu by 68%

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Andrew Hyde 44-122-346-3330 Public Library of Science

Did seasonal flu vaccination increase the risk of infection with pandemic H1N1 flu?

Press release from PLoS Medicine

Did seasonal flu vaccination increase the risk of infection with pandemic H1N1 flu?

In September 2009, news stories reported that researchers in Canada had found an increased risk of pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza in people who had previously been vaccinated against seasonal influenza. Their research, consisting of four different studies, has now undergone further scientific peer review and is published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

Did previous vaccination against seasonal flu increase the risk of getting pH1N1 flu? Based on these studies – conducted by a large network of investigators across Canada led by Principal Investigator Danuta Skowronski of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, in collaboration with provincial leads Gaston De Serres in Quebec, Natasha Crowcroft in Ontario and Jim Dickinson in Alberta – the answer remains: “possibly.”

In a school outbreak of pH1N1 in spring 2009, people with cough and fever were found to have received prior seasonal flu vaccination more often than those without. Several public health agencies in Canada therefore undertook four additional studies during the summer of 2009 to investigate further. Taken together, the four studies included approximately 2,700 people with and without pH1N1.

The first of the studies used an ongoing sentinel monitoring system to assess the frequency of prior vaccination with the 2008󈝵 seasonal vaccine in people with pH1N1 influenza (cases) compared to people without evidence of infection with an influenza virus (controls). This study confirmed that the seasonal vaccine provided protection against seasonal influenza, but found it to be associated with an increased risk of approximately 68% for pH1N1 disease.

The further 3 studies (which included additional case-control investigations in Ontario and Quebec, as well as a transmission study in 47 Quebec households where pH1N1 influenza had occurred) similarly found between 1.4𔃀.5 times increased likelihood of pH1N1 illness in people who had received the seasonal vaccine compared to those who had not. Prior seasonal vaccination was not associated with an increase in hospitalization among those who developed pH1N1 illness.

These studies do not show whether there was a true cause-and-effect relationship between seasonal flu vaccination and subsequent pH1N1 illness (as might occur if, for example, the seasonal vaccine modified the immune response to pH1N1), or whether the observed association was not a result of vaccination, but was instead due to differences in some unidentified factor(s) among the groups being studied.

If the findings from these studies are real they raise important questions about the biological interactions between pre-existing and novel pandemic influenza strains. The researchers note, however, that the World Health Organization has recommended that pH1N1 be included in subsequent seasonal vaccine formulations. This will provide direct protection against pH1N1 and thereby obviate any risk that might have been due to the seasonal vaccine in 2009, which did not include pH1N1.

In an accompanying commentary in PLoS Medicine, Lone Simonsen and Cécile Viboud, who were not involved in the studies, write: “Given the uncertainty associated with observational studies, we believe it would be premature to conclude that increased the risk of 2009 pandemic illness, especially in light of six other contemporaneous observational studies in civilian populations that have produced highly conflicting results.” They conclude that “this perplexing experience should teach us how to best react to disparate and conflicting studies and prepare us for the next public health crisis, so that we can better manage future alerts for unexpected risk factors.”


Citation: Skowronski DM, De Serres G, Crowcroft NS, Janjua NZ, Boulianne N, et al. (2010) Association between the 2008󈝵 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine and Pandemic H1N1 Illness during Spring–Summer 2009: Four Observational Studies from Canada. PLoS Med 7(4): e1000258. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000258

Funding: This project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the British Columbia Ministry of Health and the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Alberta Health and Wellness, the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux du Québec, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ). Although agencies of the investigators provided infrastructure in support of the reported studies, the funders did not have a role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: DMS has previously received research grant funding from GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Pasteur for separate studies. GDS and NB have received research grant funding from GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Pasteur for separate studies. GB has received funding from GlaxoSmithKline for unrelated projects. SAVOIR contributor Allison McGeer has received investigator initiated research grant funding from GlaxoSmithKline, and speaking honoraria from GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Pasteur.




Danuta Skowronski BC Centre for Disease Control Epidemiology Services
655 West 12th Avenue Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4R4 Canada
+1 604-707-2511 +1 604-707-2516 (fax)

Ritinder Harry Communications Leader, BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) 655 West 12th Avenue Vancouver, BC V5Z 4R4 Canada +1 604 707-2412

Perspective article by Cecile Viboud:

Citation: Viboud C, Simonsen L (2010) Does Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Increase the Risk of Illness with the2009 A/H1N1 Pandemic Virus? PLoS Med 7(4): e1000259. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000259

Competing Interests:CV declares no competing interests. LS is a paid consultant for SDI health (a health data business), and has received research support since 2008 from Wyeth (now Pfizer) for pneumococcal vaccine modelling.




Cécile Viboud National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center 16 Center Drive Bethesda, MD 20892 United States of America
1-301-496-2146 1-301-496-8496 (fax)

Researchers develop dietary formula that maintains youthful function into old age

Contact: Jane Christmas
McMaster University

HAMILTON, ON. February 11, 2010 – Researchers at McMaster University have developed a cocktail of ingredients that forestalls major aspects of the aging process.

The findings are published in the current issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.

“As we all eventually learn, ageing diminishes our mind, fades our perception of the world and compromises our physical capacity,” says David Rollo, associate professor of biology at McMaster. “Declining physical activity—think of grandparents versus toddlers—is one of the most reliable expressions of ageing and is also a good indicator of obesity and general mortality risk.”

The study found that a complex dietary supplement powerfully offsets this key symptom of ageing in old mice by increasing the activity of the cellular furnaces that supply energy—or mitochondria—and by reducing emissions from these furnaces—or free radicals—that are thought to be the basic cause of ageing itself.

Most of the primary causes of human mortality and decline are strongly correlated with age and free-radical processes, including heart disease, stroke, Type II diabetes, many cancers, neurodegenerative diseases, and inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Successful intervention into the ageing process could consequently prevent or forestall all of these.

Using bagel bits soaked in the supplement to ensure consistent and accurate dosing, the formula maintained youthful levels of locomotor activity into old age whereas old mice that were not given the supplement showed a 50 per cent loss in daily movement, a similar dramatic loss in the activity of the cellular furnaces that make our energy, and declines in brain signaling chemicals relevant to locomotion. This builds on the team’s findings that the supplement extends longevity, prevents cognitive declines, and protects mice from radiation.

Ingredients consists of items that were purchased in local stores selling vitamin and health supplements for people, including vitamins B1, C, D, E, acetylsalicylic acid, beta carotene, folic acid, garlic, ginger root, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, green tea extract, magnesium, melatonin, potassium, cod liver oil, and flax seed oil. Multiple ingredients were combined based on their ability to offset five mechanisms involved in ageing.

For Rollo, the results go beyond simply prolonging the lifespan.

“For ageing humans maintaining zestful living into later years may provide greater social and economic benefits than simply extending years of likely decrepitude,” he says. “This study obtained a truly remarkable extension of physical function in old mice, far greater than the respectable extension of longevity that we previous documented. This holds great promise for extending the quality of life of “health span” of humans.”

Development of new and hopefully more effective supplements is ongoing.



Funding for this study was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 140,000 alumni in 128 countries.

Young adults’ blood lead levels linked to depression, panic disorder

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Todd Datz 617-432-3952 JAMA and Archives Journals

Young adults with higher blood lead levels appear more likely to have major depression and panic disorders, even if they have exposure to lead levels generally considered safe, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“Lead is a well-known neurotoxicant that is ubiquitous in the environment, found in air, soil, dust and water,” the authors write as background information in the article. Eliminating lead from gasoline has led to a dramatic decline in average blood levels, but remaining sources of exposure include paint, industrial processes, pottery and contaminated water. “Research on the neurotoxic effects of low-level lead exposure has focused on the in utero and early childhood periods. In adult populations, the neurotoxic effects of lead have been studied mainly in the context of occupational exposures, with levels of exposure orders of magnitude greater than that experienced by the general population.”

Maryse F. Bouchard, Ph.D., M.Sc., of the Universite de Montreal, Canada, and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,987 adults age 20 to 39 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004. Participants underwent medical examinations that included collection of a blood sample, and also completed a diagnostic interview to identify major depressive disorder, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

The number of young adults who met diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder was 134 (6.7 percent), 44 (2.2 percent) had panic disorder and 47 (2.4 percent) had generalized anxiety disorder. The average blood lead level was 1.61 micrograms per deciliter. The one-fifth of participants with the highest blood lead levels (2.11 micrograms per deciliter or more) had 2.3 times the odds of having major depressive disorder and nearly five times the odds of panic disorder as the one-fifth with the lowest lead levels (0.7 micrograms per deciliter or less).

Smoking is related to blood lead levels, so the researchers conducted additional analyses excluding the 628 smokers. Among non-smokers, the elevation in risk between the highest and lowest blood lead levels was increased to 2.5-fold for major depressive disorder and 8.2-fold for panic disorder.

Low-level lead exposure may disrupt brain processes, such as those involving the neurotransmitters catecholamine and serotonin, that are associated with depression and panic disorders, the authors note. Exposure to lead in individuals predisposed to these conditions could trigger their development, make them more severe or reduce response to treatment.

“These findings suggest that lead neurotoxicity may contribute to adverse mental health outcomes, even at levels generally considered to pose low or no risk,” they conclude. “These findings, combined with recent reports of adverse behavioral outcomes in children with similarly low blood lead levels, should underscore the need for considering ways to further reduce environmental lead exposures.”


(Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66[12]:1313-1319. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor’s Note: This study was supported by a fellowship from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and by a career development award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Navy spy prepared threat assessments for Canadian ships


Navy spy Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Delisle, who has pleaded guilty to selling vast amounts of top secret material to the Russians, had access to top-level files while performing his job preparing threat assessments for navy ships.

In his confession interview with the RCMP, Delisle described his job by saying, “I prepare all the threat assessments for the ships when they deploy overseas, to any port.”

A retired naval intelligence officer, who had the same profession as Delisle, said this meant Delisle had access to files and secret information supplied by CSIS, the CIA, FBI and British intelligence sources.

“There is a need to know requirement,” said Hugh Williams. “Based on what he is looking at and based in that area, he would would be looking at information from a wide variety of sources.”

Delisle’s access to high-level information is what makes his betrayal such a concern for Canada and its allies. His job as the threat assessment officer for the Canadian navy in the Atlantic opened secret doors that would be closed to other officers. Delisle gathered and sold information to the Russians for $3,000 a month.

Delisle was posted to the security unit HMCS Trinity, an intelligence facility at the naval dockyard in Halifax. It tracks vessels entering and exiting Canadian waters via satellites, drones and underwater devices.

Delisle, 41, pleaded guilty in a Halifax court Oct. 9 to breach of trust and two counts of passing information to a foreign entity between July 2007 and Jan. 13, 2011, in Ottawa and Kingston, Ont., and Halifax and Bedford, N.S., where he lived.

Delisle will be sentenced for spying in January. He is currently in jail but on full navy pay and maintains his rank in the service.

(CBC News)


Canada lawmakers ban masks at protests

By Agence France-Presse Wednesday, October 31, 2012 21:23 EDT

Guy Fawkes mask via AFP

OTTAWA — Parliament passed a ban on wearing masks at riots that punishes violations with up to 10 years behind bars in a bid to crack down on radical groups.

The measure, adopted 153 to 126 on the Halloween holiday that sees revelers walk the streets in masks and costumed, aims to target the “growing threat” of vandalism and violence, said Parliamentarian Blake Richards, who sponsored the bill.

Lawmakers are especially targeting the Black Bloc anarchist group, whose members dress in black, their faces hidden by glasses, scarves and hoods.

They have sometimes showed violence during massive student protests against plans to raise university tuition costs in Quebec.

The bill sets 10 years in prison for people who wear a mask during a riot without legitimate excuses, and five years if it is an illegal protest.

Opposition members said the law was not necessary because the criminal code already sets punitive measures.

“The police already have all the tools that they need: we saw that in Quebec,” said New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae stressed the bill had broad implications.

“Are we going to ban people from appearing in a protest because they are wearing a burka?” he asked. “Are we going to say that on a cold day that people can’t wear a mask?”

Mother who killed 14-month-old daughter and 10-week-old son while in grip of postnatal depression will not face prison… as banker husband stands by her

  • Jeff Boots still  supports wife Felicia after she smothered their two babies
  • He discovered  tiny bodies in walk-in wardrobe and screamed: ‘Oh my God’
  • Mother insists  she is ‘good person and mum’ in heartbreaking court letter
  • She pleads guilty  to manslaughter and goes to mental hospital NOT prison

By Arthur Martin

PUBLISHED:10:12 EST, 30  October 2012| UPDATED:17:51 EST, 30 October 2012

A mother with postnatal depression killed her  two babies because she had delusions that they would be seized by social  services, a court heard yesterday.

Jewellery designer Felicia Boots, 35,  suffocated her ten-week-old son Mason and 14-month-old daughter Lily days after  the family had moved into a new £1.4million home in an area known as Nappy  Valley because it is popular with young, rich families.

Her husband Jeffery, an investment banker,  returned home that evening to find the house in darkness and his wife sitting on  the stairs, hugging herself.

She had tried to kill herself but inflicted  only superficial damage to her neck.woman suffering postnatal depression has  admitted killing her two babies who were then discovered dead by their father at  the family’s home.

Felicia Boots, 34 who smothered her ten week old son Mason, and 14 month old daughter Lily Skye, was suffering from postnatal depression when she smothered them and laid them side by side in a wardrobeFelicia Boots, 34 who smothered her ten week old son  Mason, and 14 month old daughter Lily Skye, was suffering from postnatal  depression when she smothered them and laid them side by side in a wardrobe

Jeff Boots, who discovered his children's bodies, is supporting his wife who had become worried that her antidepressants medication was harming her sonJeff Boots, who discovered his children’s bodies, is  supporting his wife who had become worried that her antidepressants medication  was harming her son

He ran upstairs and found their children  lying side by side on the floor of a walk-in wardrobe in the master bedroom of  the semi-detached house in Wandsworth, south-west London. They had apparently  been strangled with one of his ties, the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Boots, 35, was heard wailing: ‘My lovely  son, my beautiful daughter. They have gone. Help me, help me, help me.’

His wife had been diagnosed with postnatal  depression after the birth of both children. She had been prescribed  antidepressant medication and her condition outwardly appeared to be  improving.

Hours before she killed her children she sent  a photograph taken on her mobile phone of Lily to her husband, who took this as  a sign that she was feeling better.

He was unaware that she had stopped taking  the medication because she was worried about its side effects while breast  feeding despite reassurances from her doctor.

Computer records show she made a series of  Google searches about her concerns in the preceding weeks.


Felicia Boots counsel read a letter to the  court from the mother, who said that she would never forget  the events of May 9 – the day she killed her children.

It read: ‘May 9, 2012, is a day I will be  eternally sorry for.

‘It should never have happened.

‘It troubles me more than anyone will ever  know.

‘Part of me will always be missing.

‘I am a good person.

‘I am a good mum and I never meant any of  this to happen.

‘I am truly  sorry.’

In a note found next to the bodies she ‘questioned how she could have done such a thing’. She wrote how ‘she was scared  and sorry’ and that her ‘life started to fall apart a few weeks  before’.

Her husband called the emergency services but  paramedics were unable to save the children.

His wife, who was ‘unsteady and weak on her  feet’, was arrested.

Mr Boots told officers at the scene that his  wife was a good mother and he ‘could not believe that she would do such a  thing’.

Yesterday Mrs Boots wept as she admitted two  charges of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished  responsibility.

Her not guilty plea to two murder charges was  accepted by prosecutor Ed Brown QC.

Her husband, who was in court, is standing by  his wife. Mr Brown said Mr Boots had written ‘a moving statement supportive of  his wife in very sympathetic terms’.

A statement from Mrs Boots was read to the  court by her lawyer Kate Bex. In it she said: ‘The ninth of May 2012 is a day I  will be eternally sorry for. It should never have happened and it troubles me  more deeply than anyone will ever know. A part of me will always be missing. But  I am a good mum and I never meant this to happen.’

Mr Justice Fulford said a prison sentence  would be ‘wholly inappropriate in this case’. He ordered that she be detained at  a mental health unit until doctors deem her fit for release. ‘This is an almost  indescribably sad case,’ said the judge.

‘Although the roots of Mrs Boots’s actions  were profoundly tragic given the loss of two such young lives, what occurred was  not what most people would regard as criminal activity.

‘I unreservedly accept that what the  defendant did to the two children she and her husband loved and nurtured, was  solely the result of psychological and bio-physiological forces that were beyond  her control.

Mr Justice Fulford said: ‘I unreservedly  accept that what she did  to the two children, that she and her husband loved  and nurtured, were  the results of physical and biological factors beyond her  control’

‘This has always been a happy family. This is  someone who delighted in  being a mother and she was good at it.

‘This case is the polar opposite  of the  appalling incidents of child neglect and cruelty that sometimes  come before the  courts.’

Canada-born Mrs Boots had married a fellow  Jehovah’s Witness shortly  after she left high school but the marriage failed  when she left the  church.

She married Mr Boots in August 2007 and the  couple moved to the  UK in 2008.

That same year her brother Scott Sinclair  committed suicide in his Toronto apartment after also abandoning the  religion.

Although most women have the ‘baby blues’ for  a short time, one in ten  goes on to suffer full-blown clinical depression which  is unlikely to  improve without treatment.

Four women in every 1,000 giving birth have  to be admitted to hospital,

Jeff Boots and his wife Felicia Boots were a 'contented couple'. Mrs Boots had begun to suffer from depression and left a note saying she could not explain why she had killed her childrenJeff Boots and his wife Felicia Boots were a ‘contented  couple’. Mrs Boots had begun to suffer from depression and left a note saying  she could not explain why she had killed her children


Postnatal depression typically develops in  the first one to two months after childbirth, but can develop several months  later.

Low mood, believing you are unable to cope  and difficulty sleeping are all common symptoms of the  depression.

Mood changes, irritability and tearfulness  are all common after birth but normally fade shortly after birth.

If the symptoms persist, it could indicate  postnatal depression.

As long as postnatal depression is recognised  and treated, it is a temporary condition you can recover from, the NHS assures  patients.

It is very important to seek treatment as it  is unlikely to ‘cure’ itself.

Treatment for postnatal depression includes  self-help advice, cognitive behavioural therapy and antidepressant  medicine.

PND is thought to be the result of several  things including physical and emotional stress of looking after a newborn baby,  hormonal changes and social problems inclduing anxiety over  money.

Women deemed more at risk of PND are those  who have a previous history of depression.

Source:  NHS

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Research dispels myth that sudden cardiac arrests happens mainly during sports

Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser 613-569-4361 x273 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Sudden cardiac death in Ontario under age 40 – is exercise dangerous?

It’s a tragic news story that often makes headlines – a young, healthy, fit athlete suddenly collapses and dies of cardiac arrest while playing sports.

Dr. Andrew Krahn of the University of British Columbia, presenting a study at the 2012 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress about sudden cardiac death in Ontario, suggests this is a problem that warrants attention, but says don’t blame the sports.

Reviewing coroners’ reports, Dr. Krahn and a team of researchers found there were 174 cases of presumed sudden death in Ontario in 2008 in people aged two to 40 years.

Heart disease was present in 126 cases (72 per cent), 78 per cent of which was unrecognized. The majority of victims were male (76 per cent) between the ages of 18 and 40 (90 per cent).

With sudden cardiac death, people who seem to be perfectly healthy can die suddenly. Each year up to 40,000 Canadians die of sudden cardiac arrest. A significant proportion of these cases occur in otherwise healthy, young individuals.

Dr. Krahn’s research dispels a myth that sudden cardiac death often takes place during rigorous physical activity. In fact, he found the majority of events (72 per cent) occurred at home.

Only 33 per cent of events involving children/adolescents and just nine per cent of events in adults occurred during moderate or vigorous exercise.

“Put it this way: If you have a 13-year-old kid who is not the star athlete who dies at home watching TV, it doesn’t make the news,” said Dr. Krahn. “But if the same kid is a high school quarterback or hockey star, then it’s covered.”

Regardless of the location of the cardiac event, Dr. Krahn believes his research sheds some light on this issue.

“This research gives us an idea of the scope of the problem – there are almost 200 young people who die suddenly every year in Ontario. A good proportion of them have unrecognized heart disease. So the question is: How can we catch this before it happens?”

He suggests more attention be paid to possible warning signs such as fainting. He believes that teachers, coaches and an aware public may be key to detecting risk, ensuring prevention and formal medical evaluation and therapy.

“I would advocate for careful screening of people who faint, using questionnaires and education of healthcare professionals so that when warning signs present themselves, they recognize them and this information gets passed on to the right people,” he says.

A nationwide screening program would be the most effective measure but there isn’t currently such a thing in Canada, says Dr. Krahn. “Unfortunately, we lack a simple, inexpensive test that is ideally used for screening,” he says. “There is a global debate about the merits of screening, which is not performed in most countries.”

Still, there are other measures that could potentially save lives, feels Dr. Beth Abramson, a Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher.

Training in CPR and the placement of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in schools, arenas and gyms could save the lives of many of these people, she says.

“Our goal is to make AEDs as available as fire extinguishers in public places from Yellowknife to St. John’s,” says Dr. Abramson. “The odds of surviving a cardiac arrest can increase to up to 75 per cent when early CPR is used in combination with an AED in the first few minutes.” Since 2006, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has helped place more than 3,000 AEDs in schools and other public spaces.

The importance of AEDs was demonstrated this past summer when NHL hockey player Brett MacLean suffered a cardiac arrest at an arena in Owen Sound, Ont., during a pick-up game with friends. Players immediately performed CPR on the ice, while a spectator retrieved the AED in the arena.

Through their action, the 23-year-old survived and is currently recovering his home town of Port Elgin.


The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CCS policy or position. The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation (, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy.

Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.

For more information and/or interviews, contact the CCC 2012 MEDIA OFFICE AT 416-585-3781 (Oct 28-31)


Diane Hargrave Public Relations 416-467-9954 ext. 104

Congress information and media registration is at

After October 31, 2012 contact:

Jane-Diane Fraser Heart and Stroke Foundation (613) 569-4361 ext 273

Health Canada suspends dispersal of Novartis flu shots after discovery of virus particle clumps

By Helen Branswell, The Canadian  PressOctober 27, 2012

TORONTO – Canada is following the lead of several European countries and  suspending distribution of flu vaccine made by the pharmaceutical firm  Novartis.

The decision relates to the discovery by the company of tiny clumps of virus  particles in some batches of flu vaccines made at the Novartis production  facility in Italy.

Health Canada, which announced the move, said Novartis has agreed to suspend  distribution of its vaccines — sold in Canada as Fluad and Agriflu — while the  department investigates the situation. All the Novartis vaccine Canada purchases  is made at the Italian plant.

The department is also telling doctors and others who administer flu shots to  hold off using Novartis product for the time being.

“We think it’s prudent, given the response of certain European countries to .  . . request of Novartis — and they will be complying — to stop distributing and  then to recommend to practitioners to refrain from using the (Novartis) vaccine  just until this review is completed,” Dr. Paul Gully, senior medical advisory  for Health Canada, said Friday.

Italy, Germany and Switzerland have suspended distribution of some Novartis  flu vaccine, and in the case of Germany recalled some lots of vaccine, after the  clumping issue came to light.

In a statement issued Friday night, the company said more than one million  doses of its flu vaccines have been administered in Europe so far this season  and no unexpected adverse events have been reported.

As well, it said that it has already delivered about 70 per cent of its  Canadian order (roughly 1.5 million doses), again without hearing of problems in  people who have received Novartis flu shots. The company said people who have  received Novartis flu shots are not at risk.

Novartis said finding minute clumps of virus protein in vaccines is not  unusual. They said their vaccines passed quality inspections and they are  confident the products are safe.

“The aggregate proteins are predominantly influenza virus-derived (mainly  hemagglutinin), all normal and necessary components of influenza vaccines,” the  company said. “Aggregation of these proteins is not unusual in vaccines  manufacturing.”

Hemagglutinin is the protein on the outside of flu viruses that locks onto  cells in the human respiratory tract to start the process of infection. Flu  vaccines are designed to provoke the immune system to produce antibodies to  hemagglutinin to protect against infection.

In fact, this isn’t the first time protein clumping has disrupted Canada’s  flu vaccine supply.

During the 2009 pandemic, there was a delay in delivery of unadjuvanted  vaccine for pregnant women when GlaxoSmithKline, Canada’s pandemic vaccine  supplier, found visible protein aggregation in some of the vaccine.

Adjuvants are compounds that boost the response a vaccine generates. Canada  used adjuvanted vaccine during the pandemic, but bought some unboosted product  for pregnant women as a precaution.

Novartis makes only about 20 per cent of Canada’s annual flu vaccine  purchase. GlaxoSmithKline makes the bulk of Canada’s seasonal flu vaccine,  though a variety of other suppliers have a share of the Canadian market.

Still, because of the way vaccine orders are placed, the hold on Novartis  vaccine could put some provinces and territories in a position where they face a  temporary vaccine shortfall, just at the time when flu shot programs are getting  underway, Gully admitted.

He said Health Canada hopes there is a rapid resolution of the situation. But  if provinces or territories have a problem with supply, efforts will be made to  share across jurisdictions, he said.

Both Fluad and Agriflu are sold in single-dose formulations, pre-loaded into  a syringe.

Fluad contains an adjuvant and is licensed for use in people 65 and older.  Older adults do not mount a good response to flu vaccine and the inclusion of an  adjuvant is an effort to improve the protection they get from flu  shots.

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