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[check mark] More Organic Foods


[check mark] Drug for Dogs?


[check mark] Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention


Organic Foods Continue to Grow

For the first time in 2005, all 50 states in the United States had some certified organic farmland. US producers dedicated over 4.0 million acres of farmland to organic production systems in 2005. California is the leading state in certified organic cropland, mostly for fruit and vegetable production. Other top states for certified organic cropland include North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, and Idaho. The US Department of Agriculture lifted restrictions on organic meat labeling in the late 1990s, and the organic poultry and beef sectors are now expanding rapidly. For more information, see the full report at


Source: USDA


Scientists Uncover Possible Cause of Antipsychotic Drug Weight Gain

New research now shows how and why some powerful drugs used for treating mental illnesses cause patients to gain so much weight that they develop complications such as diabetes and heart disease. According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there is now a connection between a whole class of antipsychotics to natural brain chemicals that trigger appetite. The researchers say that identification of the molecular players that link such drugs to increased food intake means there is now hope for finding a newer generation of drugs without the weight gain side effects.


This connection between its receptor and appetite control is incredibly intriguing, and it may open new avenues for research on weight control, possibly including drugs that suppress appetite safely.


Source: Johns Hopkins University


Overweight Girls Most Likely to Get Heavy Before Teen Years

According to new research among 2,379 girls in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's National Growth and Health Study reported in the Journal of Pediatrics, new-onset overweight was 1.6 times more likely to occur at ages 9 to 12 than later in adolescence. And that may lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors. In fact, the Overweight girls were 3 to 10 times more likely to have high systolic and diastolic blood pressure, low high-density lipoprotein, as well as elevated triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein.


New-onset overweight ranged from 2.1% to 4.8% through age 12. Thereafter, the annual incidence ranged from 0.4% to 2.2% such that the overall risk of overweight onset was 1.6 times more common at ages 9 to 12 than beyond. The risk of overweight onset at any given time was 1.5 times greater for African American adolescents than for Caucasian girls. Therefore, prevention efforts should take into account cultural differences.


As has been found in previous studies, overweight adolescents were 11 to 30 times more likely to be obese in young adulthood. Moreover, overweight in childhood carried substantial health risk during childhood. Because the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and overweight may already be present at age 9, pediatricians (and parents) should not delay in addressing the health correlates of overweight during childhood.


Source: MedPage Today


Two New Studies Back Vitamin D for Cancer Prevention

Two new vitamin D studies using meta-analysis, in which data from multiple reports are combined, suggest that they may reduce risk of breast and colon cancer.


The breast cancer study, published online in the current issue of the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, pooled dose-response data from 2 earlier studies-the Harvard Nurses Health Study and the St. George's Hospital Study-and found that individuals with the highest blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, had the lowest risk of breast cancer. The researchers divided the 1,760 records of individuals in the 2 studies into 5 equal groups, from the lowest blood levels of 25(OH)D (<13 ng/mL) to the highest (approximately 52 ng/mL). The data also included whether or not the individual had developed cancer.


The data showed that individuals in the group with the lowest blood levels had the highest rates of breast cancer, and the breast cancer rates dropped as the blood levels of 25(OH)D increased. The serum level associated with a 50% reduction in risk could be maintained by taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily plus, when the weather permits, spending 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sun. The colorectal cancer study, published online February 6 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is a meta-analysis of 5 studies that explored the association of blood levels of 25(OH)D with risk of colon cancer. All of the studies involved blood collected and tested for 25(OH)D levels from healthy volunteer donors who were then followed for up to 25 years for development of colorectal cancer.


Through this meta-analysis, the researchers found that raising the serum level of 25(OH)D to 34 ng/mL would reduce the incidence rates of colorectal cancer by half. They project a two-thirds reduction in incidence with serum levels of 46 ng/mL, which corresponds to a daily intake of 2,000 IU of vitamin D3; this would be best achieved with a combination of diet, supplements, and 10 to 15 min/day in the sun.


The meta-analysis on colorectal cancer included data from the Women's Health Initiative, which had shown in 2006 that a lower dose of vitamin D did not protect against colorectal cancer by 7 years of follow-up and after a study that randomized people to different calcium and vitamin D supplements. The researchers believe that the meta-analysis indicates that a higher dose may reduce its incidence. But much more research is necessary before we can be sure that these findings are real. For one thing, different ways of measuring 25(OH)D may have been used in the various studies. For another, it is difficult to tie dietary intakes and blood indicators of vitamin D. So stay tuned. In the meantime, it is important to get at least the Dietary Reference Intake of vitamin D. Clearly, we need more research to study individuals for the effect of vitamin D from sunlight, diet, and supplements on the risk of cancer.


Source: University of California, San Diego


FDA Approves First Obesity Drug for Dogs

The Food and Drug Administration announced this month its approval of Slentrol (dirlotapide), a prescription drug for the management of obesity by reducing appetite and fat absorption in dogs. It is by veterinarian prescription, based on the dog's weight and general health. They usually call a dog weighing 20% more than its ideal weight obese. About 5% of American dogs are obese, and another 20% to 30% are overweight. Slentrol is a new chemical entity called a selective microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitor that blocks the assembly and release of lipoproteins into the bloodstream. The mechanism for producing weight loss is not completely understood but seems to result from reduced fat absorption and a satiety signal from lipid-filled cells lining the intestine. To discourage human use, the drug label includes the warning, "Not for use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children," and cites adverse reactions associated with human use, including abdominal distention, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, headache, nausea, and vomiting.


Source: Chemical Communications


Rapid Detection of Food-borne Disease Bacteria

A new technique called desorption electrospray ionization now rapidly detects and precisely identifies bacteria, including dangerous Escherichia coli, without the time-consuming tests. It may be the basis of a new class of fast, accurate detectors to improve food safety.


Source: Purdue University