Birds Eye recalls UK products after horse DNA find in Belgium

Frozen food maker Birds Eye on Friday said it would withdraw some products in Britain and Ireland after it found traces of horse DNA in one of its ready meals sold in Belgium.

"Regrettably, we have found one product, chili con carne, produced for us by Frigilunch N.V. and sold in Belgium, that has tested positive for horse DNA at 2 percent," Birds Eye said in a statement.

"As a precautionary measure in the UK and Ireland we will withdraw all other products produced by the same supplier, namely traditional spaghetti bolognese (340g), shepherd’s pie (400g) and beef lasagne (400g)."

Birds Eye, which is owned by Pinnacle Foods in North America and by private equity group Permira in Europe, said it would also immediately withdraw the chili con carne product from sale in Belgium.

The discovery of horse meat in food labeled as beef has triggered product recalls and damaged confidence in Europe’s vast and complex food industry. The scandal erupted last month when tests carried out in Ireland revealed that some beef products also contained horse meat.

Birds Eye added that the withdrawn products would not be replaced on supermarkets shelves until it had completed an investigation into the issue and had complete confidence in Frigilunch N.V.

It said tests showed its beef burgers, beef pies and beef platters sold in Britain and Ireland did not contain horse DNA.

Source : foxnews[dot]com


Not all antioxidants reduce risk of stroke and dementia

All antioxidants are not created equal when it comes to reducing the risk of stroke and dementia, according to a new study from the Netherlands. 

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found no association between the total intake of antioxidants and a lower risk of these brain diseases.

Antioxidants have been touted for their ability to reduce a number of health risks, leading many people to indulge in antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries and chocolate and take high potency supplements. 

Past research has found that a diet high in vitamin C was associated with a lower risk of stroke and high vitamin E intake was associated with a lower incidence of dementia. But these studies don’t address the benefits of a generally healthy antioxidant-rich diet.

This study involved 5,395 adults age 55 and older who had no signs of dementia at the start of the study. Participants completed dietary questionnaires and were followed for an average of 14 years.

Three groups emerged: those with low, moderate and high levels of antioxidants in the diet.

About 90 percent of the difference in antioxidant levels was attributed to the amount of coffee and tea people drank. Coffee and tea contain high levels of flavonoids.

About 600 people developed dementia, and about 600 had a stroke during the follow-up period.

Researchers found those who consumed the most antioxidants had the same risk of stroke and dementia as those who ate the least antioxidants.

“Other studies have suggested that antioxidants may help protect against stroke and dementia,” said study author Dr. Elizabeth Devore, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “This study suggests that we really need to be specific about the antioxidants we’re taking in to reduce dementia and stroke risk.”

There’s a large body of research showing that vitamin C, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables, reduce the risk of stroke. Similarly, a number of studies have found that a high intake of vitamin E lowers the risk of dementia. The adults in this study had a higher intake of vitamin E-rich nut oils and seed oils, but vitamin E is also prevalent in dark leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables. 

Previous studies have also found that high flavanoids, the main antioxidant in coffee and tea, do not reduce these risks.  

As for the benefits of coffee and tea on the brain: “My guess is that we won’t find much of an association,” Devore said.

Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist whose work appears in the New York Times, among other national magazines and websites. She has authored several health books, including "Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility." Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Source : foxnews[dot]com

Entertainment reporter details life with rheumatoid arthritis

Christine Schwab was living the high life. She was married to a powerful TV executive and had a lucrative career of her own as a well-known TV fashion reporter doing makeovers for top-rated shows and covering high-fashion award ceremonies, like the Oscars and Golden Globes.

But a devastating diagnosis almost ended all that – and she recently sat down to discuss her new book, “Take Me Home From the Oscars,” with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of

Schwab first felt pain in her feet in New York City after doing a week of makeovers. She brushed it off at first as pain from walking around in heels – so she bought sneakers and got a foot massage. Still, the pain persisted.

When she returned to Los Angeles, she sought medical attention – but not one of three doctors could figure out what was wrong. And the pain was spreading to her knees.

“I’m on a treadmill; they call me manic sometimes,” Schwab said. “I thought maybe that was it; that I overdid something on the treadmill because I’m very much into health. I finally ended up at UCLA, and they diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It can occur at any age, and women are more susceptible than men.

At the time of her diagnosis, Schwab thought she’d end up in a wheelchair, and her glamorous lifestyle would be taken away. She decided to keep the diagnosis a secret – for 20 years.

“I was suffering, in a lot of pain, and I went through a lot of medications,” Schwab said.

She decided to reveal her diagnosis because she was hearing more and more about rheumatoid arthritis, and after doing some research – she realized just how lucky she was.

“I got into a research program, and I got one of the new biologics,” Schwab said. “The biologic put me in remission. I, and my joints, have been in remission for 15 years. I felt like it was time to give back. It was time to make a difference.”

Schwab admitted to Alvarez she was fearful of losing her career – that arthritis didn’t – couldn’t fit into the world of beauty and fashion.

“They should take away that you never give up hope,” Schwab said of people reading her memoir. “You never, ever give up hope. Arthritis is like a roller coaster. You have good days, and you have terrible days. You just have to keep on moving forward and not give up hope, and you have to reach out to people.”

Schwab said her message is especially important for children suffering from juvenile arthritis. She started working with the Arthritis Foundation and even has a Facebook page dedicated to helping children with the disease.

And no matter what – Schwab said she’s not going to let the disease define her.

“I am going to define myself,” she said. “And, I’m doing really good. My joints are in total remission.”

Source : foxnews[dot]com

Bridging the gap for heart health disparities

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in all women across the United States.

But, for certain groups – risk factors and rates of disease are higher than others – and according to one doctor, awareness and health education may be lacking in some areas.

Dr. Nakela Cook, a cardiologist and chief of staff for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently sat down to discuss this topic with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of

Because February is American Heart Month, the NIH is trying to raise awareness through the Heart Truth campaign to reach certain individuals.  

The campaign aims to educate women that the leading cause of death for them is heart disease – and she hopes the campaign will motivate people to take action and reduce their risk.

Cook noted, like so many other diseases, heart disease does not discriminate – and it doesn’t matter what you wear, who you are or where you live. But, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and help educate those around you.

“African-American and Latino women – we know there is a higher prevalence of being overweight or obese,” Cook said. “Diabetes also has a high rate in these populations, so they do contribute.”

Cook said this is a result of multiple factors: African-Americans tend to have a higher propensity toward development of high blood pressure, but they also, once they have the disease, have worse outcomes from the disease.

And, if you have high blood pressure, that’s important in predicting your long-term risk for cardiovascular disease.

“I think there is a combination of genetic issues, but there’s also some lifestyle issues – things we can really address in order to try to stem the tide against high blood pressure,” Cook said. “Some of that may be being overweight (or) having higher sodium in the diet or not getting the exercise we need on a daily basis in order to reduce the risk.”

Cook said there is a difference in terms of where these women live and the development of heart disease, as well as some cardiovascular risk factors, like high blood pressure.

“We definitely see that in the Southeast, there are higher rates of high blood pressure and higher rates of cardiovascular disease among African Americans,” Cook said. “There are areas in the country that we feel really need intense focus in terms of trying to stem the tide against disease.”

Cook added she realizes they can’t always reach certain populations – especially rural ones – where residents may have a difficult time accessing doctors and addressing personal risk for heart disease, so those places are affected by higher rates of heart disease, too.

“Women really do take the care-taking role for families, and I think it’s important that the whole family really focuses on this together, and that we empower women to be the agents of change – so they can take their families along with them, and their communities too,” she said.

“And if we can find that point, that nexus point, where someone in the family is taking that step to get the family healthy and make the right choices – increasing fruits and vegetables, decreasing salt, choosing lower-fat, lower-cholesterol meals – then I think we can really see almost a network-type of effect of improvement across our communities.”

For more information on the Heart Truth campaign, visit the NIH’s website, and check it out on Facebook.

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Costlier robotic surgery on the rise for hysterectomies, with no added benefit

Robotic surgery is increasingly being used for women’s hysterectomies, adding at least $2,000 to the cost without offering much benefit over less high-tech methods, a study found.

The technique was used in just 0.5 percent of operations studied in 2007, but that soared to almost 10 percent by early 2010. Columbia University researchers analyzed data on more than 260,000 women who had their wombs removed at 441 U.S. hospitals for reasons other than cancer. The database covered surgeries performed through the first few months of 2010.

Women who had the robotic operations were slightly less likely to spend more than two days in the hospital, but hospital stays were shorter than that for most women. Also, complications were equally rare among robotic surgery patients and those who had more conventional surgeries. Average costs for robotic hysterectomies totaled nearly $9,000, versus about $3,000 for the least expensive method, a different type of minimally invasive technique using more conventional surgery methods.

Traditionally hysterectomies were done by removing the womb through a large abdominal incision. Newer methods include removing the uterus through the vagina and minimally invasive "keyhole" abdominal operations using more conventional surgery methods, or surgeon-controlled robotic devices.

Robotic operations involve computer-controlled long, thin robot-like "arms" equipped with tiny surgery instruments. Surgeons operate the computer and can see inside the body on the computer screen, through a tiny camera attached to the robotic arms. The initial idea was for surgeons to do these operations miles away from the operating room, but robotic operations now are mostly done with the surgeon in the same room as the patient.

Theoretically, robotic surgeries make it easier to maneuver inside the patient, and are increasingly used for many types of operations, not just hysterectomies.

The main explanation for the big increase "is that robotic surgery has been marketed extensively to not only hospitals and physicians, but also directly to patients. There is minimal data in gynecology that it is advantageous," said Dr. Jason Wright, an assistant professor of women’s health and the study’s lead author.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Our findings highlight the importance of developing rational strategies to implement new surgical technologies," the researchers wrote.

They note that 1 in 9 U.S. women will undergo a hysterectomy, usually after the age of 40. Reasons include fibroids and other non-cancerous growths, abnormal bleeding, and cancer.

Traditional abdominal operations remain common and more than 40 percent of women studied had them, costing on average about $6,600.

A JAMA editorial says the study doesn’t answer whether the robotic method might be better for certain women, and says more research comparing methods is needed. Still, it says doctors and hospitals have a duty to inform patients about costs of different surgery options.

Dr. Myriam Curet of manufacturer Intuitive Surgical of Sunnyvale, Calif., said surgical robots can help surgeons overcome the limitations of other minimally invasive methods for very overweight patients, those with scarring from other surgeries and other complexities.

Source : foxnews[dot]com

Demand for Botox, fillers drives US cosmetic surgery growth

Botox, fillers and chemical peels were among the most popular cosmetic treatments in the United States and fueled growth in the plastic surgery industry for the third consecutive year, according to statistics released on Tuesday.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons said 14.6 million procedures were done in 2012, an increase of 5 percent from 2011.

"For the third consecutive year, the overall growth in cosmetic surgery continues to be driven by a significant rise in minimally invasive procedures, while surgical procedures remain relatively stable," Gregory Evans, the president of the society, said in a statement.

Botox treatments rose 8 percent last year to 6.1 million procedures, along with the skin-smoothing treatment microdermabrasion. Demand for fillers to smooth out wrinkles jumped 5 percent, while laser hair removal treatments rose 4 percent and chemical peels jumped 2 percent.

Overall, minimally invasive treatments accounted for 13 million procedures in 2012, while surgery such as breast enlargements and facelifts dropped 2 percent to 1.6 million.

"Female cosmetic breast surgeries such as breast augmentation, as well as body contouring procedures like tummy tucks, were some of the most popular procedures performed in 2012, although they saw declines," Evans explained.

Although breast enlargement surgery dropped 7 percent from the previous year, it was still the most popular surgical cosmetic treatment with 286,000 procedures, followed by nose reshaping, liposuction, eyelid surgery and facelifts.

Reconstructive plastic surgery, which improves function or abnormal appearance, was also up slightly last year with tumor removal the top surgery.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons represents more than 7,000 surgeons in the United States.

Source : foxnews[dot]com

Drug overdose deaths up for 11th consecutive year

Drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year, federal data show, and most of them were accidents involving addictive painkillers despite growing attention to risks from these medicines.

"The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gathered and analyzed the data.

In 2010, the CDC reported, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide. Medicines, mostly prescription drugs, were involved in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths that year, overshadowing deaths from illicit narcotics.

The report appears in Tuesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

It details which drugs were at play in most of the fatalities. As in previous recent years, opioid drugs – which include OxyContin and Vicodin – were the biggest problem, contributing to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths.

Frieden said many doctors and patients don’t realize how addictive these drugs can be, and that they’re too often prescribed for pain that can be managed with less risky drugs.

They’re useful for cancer, "but if you’ve got terrible back pain or terrible migraines," using these addictive drugs can be dangerous, he said.

Medication-related deaths accounted for 22,134 of the drug overdose deaths in 2010.

Anti-anxiety drugs including Valium were among common causes of medication-related deaths, involved in almost 30 percent of them. Among the medication-related deaths, 17 percent were suicides.

The report’s data came from death certificates, which aren’t always clear on whether a death was a suicide or a tragic attempt at getting high. But it does seem like most serious painkiller overdoses were accidental, said Dr. Rich Zane, chair of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

The study’s findings are no surprise, he added. "The results are consistent with what we experience" in ERs, he said, adding that the statistics no doubt have gotten worse since 2010.

Some experts believe these deaths will level off. "Right now, there’s a general belief that because these are pharmaceutical drugs, they’re safer than street drugs like heroin," said Don Des Jarlais, director of the chemical dependency institute at New York City’s Beth Israel Medical Center.

"But at some point, people using these drugs are going to become more aware of the dangers," he said.

Frieden said the data show a need for more prescription drug monitoring programs at the state level, and more laws shutting down "pill mills" – doctor offices and pharmacies that over-prescribe addictive medicines.

Last month, a federal panel of drug safety specialists recommended that Vicodin and dozens of other medicines be subjected to the same restrictions as other narcotic drugs like oxycodone and morphine. Meanwhile, more and more hospitals have been establishing tougher restrictions on painkiller prescriptions and refills.

One example: The University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora is considering a rule that would ban emergency doctors from prescribing more medicine for patients who say they lost their pain meds, Zane said.

Source : foxnews[dot]com