Jarrid Wilson, Pastor and Mental Health Advocate, Dies by Suicide at Age 30

Harvest Christian Fellowship pastor Jarrid Wilson died by suicide on Monday evening (September 9) at age thirty.

The devout husband and father of two was known for his passionate preaching, servant’s heart, and mental health advocacy. In fact, Wilson is the founder of Anthem of Hope, a faith-based organization ‘dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.’

The tragic news of Wilson’s untimely death comes on Suicide Awareness Day (September 10).

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A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

In alignment with his passion to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health, Wilson was often open about his own battles with depression on his social media accounts.

Wilson even posted about officiating a funeral for a woman who took her own life on the day that he took his own.

Later that afternoon, the pastor wrote some hard truth regarding the reality of mental health battles, citing that while Jesus isn’t always “the cure,” he IS always the “comforter” and “companion.”

“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts,” wrote Wilson. “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.”

Jarrid’s wife Juli posted a heartbreaking tribute to her late husband today, honoring his hard-fought battle and the great man of God that he was in spite of his struggles:

“My loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious, give the shirt of his back husband went to be with Jesus late last night .

No more pain, my jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free. Suicide and depression fed you the worst lies, but you knew the truth of Jesus and I know you’re by his side right this very second.

I love you forever, Thomas Jarrid Wilson, but I have to say that you being gone has completely ripped my heart out of my chest. You loved me and our boys relentlessly and we are forever grateful that i had YOU as a husband and a father to my boys.”

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“You are my forever and I will continue to let other people know of the hope in Jesus you found and spoke so boldly about.

Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said ‘Hope Gets the last word. Jesus does.’ Your life’s work has lead thousands to the feet of Jesus and your boldness to tell other about your struggle with anxiety and depression has helped so many other people feel like they weren’t alone. YOU WERE an anthem of hope to everyone, baby, and I’ll do my best to continue your legacy of love until my last breath.

I need you, jare. But you needed Jesus to hold you and I have to be okay with that. You are everything to me. Since the day we met. J & J. Love you more.
These are photos of him in his happy place – fishing the day away . I’ll teach our boys all your tricks, babe. Promise. You are my #anthemofhope

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The church family Wilson left behind is just as devastated by the loss of their passionate leader who was on fire for Jesus.

“At a time like this, there are just no words,” Harvest Administrative Pastor Paul Eaton said in a statement.

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“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Eaton added. “At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day.”

Please join us in praying for the Wilsons and the Harvest Christian Fellowship church family during this devastating time.

If you’d like to support others struggling with suicidal thoughts, consider donating to Anthem of Hope today.

This content was originally published here.

Pastor, author and mental health advocate Jarrid Wilson dies by suicide – Religion News Service

(RNS) — Jarrid Wilson, a California church leader, author and mental health advocate, died by suicide Monday evening (Sept. 9) at age 30.

Wilson, known as a passionate preacher, most recently was an associate pastor at megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. A co-founder of the mental health nonprofit Anthem of Hope, Wilson was open about his own depression, often posting on his social media accounts about his battles with the mental illness.

“At a time like this, there are just no words,” said Harvest Senior Pastor Greg Laurie in a statement.

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Laurie said.

“At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day,” he added.

His wife, Julianne Wilson, posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”

“No more pain, my jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free,” she wrote in the caption.

“Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said “Hope Gets the last word. Jesus does,” she added.

A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

News of Wilson’s passing followed a series of tweets the young pastor posted throughout the day Monday that dealt with suicide, including a post encouraging followers to remember that even though loving Jesus doesn’t cure illnesses such as depression, PTSD or anxiety, Jesus does offer companionship and comfort.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety.

But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.

He ALWAYS does that.

Wilson also posted on the same day that he was officiating a funeral for a woman who had died by suicide. Kay Warren — who along with her husband, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, lost their son to suicide in 2013 — responded to Wilson’s tweet with encouragement. “Praying, Jarrid. Her devastated family needs so much tenderness and compassion right now. Grateful for your willingness to be the arms of Jesus to them,” Warren wrote.

Officiating a funeral for a Jesus-loving woman who took her own life today.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated for the family.

— Jarrid Wilson (@JarridWilson) September 9, 2019

The news of Wilson’s death comes on Suicide Awareness Day (Sept. 10) and follows a number of high profile suicides among pastors and the mental health community, including by 30-year-old Andrew Stoecklein, a pastor in Chino, California, who often preached about mental illness.

Wilson shared openly about his own mental health challenges in his most recent book, “Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World,” and blog posts. He blogged earlier this summer that he had dealt with “severe depression throughout most of my life and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions.”

On social media, he regularly encouraged others dealing with similar challenges with messages like, “I’m a Christian who also struggles with depression. This exists, and it’s okay to admit it.”

Jarrid Wilson. Courtesy photo

Breaking down the stigma of mental illness is one of the goals of Anthem of Hope, the nonprofit the pastor founded with his wife, Juli, in 2016. Anthem of Hope creates resources for the church to assist those dealing with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide. 

Laurie said Wilson wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.

“Tragically, Jarrid took his own life,” Laurie said.

“Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most,” Laurie added.

In his summer blog post, Wilson challenged the idea some Christians have that those who die by suicide are condemned to hell.

Christians wouldn’t tell someone with a physical illness like cancer they are going to hell because of their diagnosis, he noted. Neither should they assume it of people with mental illnesses, which can “lead many people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do if they didn’t struggle.”

“Those who say suicide automatically leads to hell obviously don’t understand the totality of mental health issues in today’s world, let alone understand the basic theology behind compassion and God’s all-consuming grace,” he said.

“We must do better at educating people on things they have a hard time wrapping their heads around. And mental health is definitely (a) topic Christians around the world must yearn to better understand.”

Justin Herman said he knew Wilson from working as a pastor in Riverside. They would cross paths and talk about mental health and abortion.

“I know the guy loved Jesus and I know that he loved what he was doing, loved his family,” Herman said.

To Herman, Wilson was “not just going with the program of life.”

“He was counter to culture and shaped culture in a lot of ways,” Herman said.

In addition to his wife, Wilson is survived by two sons, Finch and Denham; and his mother, father and siblings.

Friends of the family have started a GoFundMe account, with permission of Wilson’s wife, to help with financial support in the wake of Wilson’s death.

Last night, my good friend @jarridwilson passed away. As the primary income earner of their home, his precious wife @juliwilson and their two young kids will need a lot of financial support. Please consider donating to this @gofundme to support them: https://t.co/NxFnuf6KVT

— Jonathan Merritt (@JonathanMerritt) September 10, 2019

(This story has been updated. The source of the statement from Harvest Christian Fellowship, attributed in an earlier version to Administrative Pastor Paul Eaton, was changed at the request of the church to Senior Pastor Greg Laurie.)

This content was originally published here.

Jarrid Wilson, Pastor, Author and Mental Health Advocate, Dies by Suicide This Week

Jarrid Wilson, pastor and author of Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World, died by suicide on Monday September 9, 2019. The news of his death came the next day on World Suicide Prevention Day 2019. 

Jarrid, a passionate child of God and church pastor, worked so hard to help others find their way out of hopelessness, depression, and suicidal thoughts…but on this day, he died by suicide. He was a 30-year-old husband and father.

Jarrid Wilson Fought to De-Stigmatize Mental Illness in the Church

Previously, Wilson wrote about the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade that “my heart breaks for the families of Anthony and Kate, and I’m praying God will cover them with nothing but peace and comfort.”

So many people commented on Bourdain and Spade’s deaths that their eternal destiny was at stake that Wilson put pen to paper. He wrote…

I’m writing this post because I want people to understand that these statements couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, they’re ill-thought and without proper biblical understanding…Those who say suicide automatically leads to hell obviously don’t understand the totality of mental health issues in today’s world, let alone understand the basic theology behind compassion and God’s all-consuming grace.” 

Wilson openly admitted that he struggled with severe depression and suicidal thoughts: 

As terrible as it sounds, mental health issues can lead many people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do if they didn’t struggle. If you don’t believe me, I’d encourage you to get to know someone with PTSD, Alzheimer’s or OCD so that you can better understand where I’m coming from. As someone who’s struggled with severe depression throughout most of my life, and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions, I can assure you that what I’m saying is true.”

Jarrid Wilson’s Last Day Was Focused on Helping Others

On the day that Jarrid Wilson died by suicide, he tweeted what seemed to be messages of hope for those who struggle with mental health issues.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety.

But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.

He ALWAYS does that.

On the day of his death, Wilson officiated a funeral for a woman who died by suicide. Jarrid was an associate pastor at megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California.

Officiating a funeral for a Jesus-loving woman who took her own life today.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated for the family.

— Jarrid Wilson (@JarridWilson) September 9, 2019

In the middle of his own struggles and his work to help others with de-stigmatizing mental illness in the church, he challenged the church to develop a deeper theology around these issues.

“Stop telling people that suicide leads to hell. It’s bad theology and proof one doesn’t understand the basic psychology surrounding mental health issues. In closing, we must understand God hates suicide just as much as the next person. Why? Because it defies God’s yearning for the sanctity of life. But while suicide is not something God approves of, no mess is too messy for the grace of Jesus. This includes suicide.”

Jarrid and his wife, Juli, were the founders of faith-centered Anthem of Hope because of their “passion to help equip the church with the resources needed to help better assist those struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.”

Before news of his tragic passing spread, Juli Wilson posted this on Instagram.

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A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

In “Why Suicide Doesn’t Always Lead to Hell,” one of the last articles we published from Jarrid Wilson, he wrote:

“Does God approve of suicide? Nope!

Does God view suicide as a bad thing? Yup!

Is God’s grace sufficient even for those who have committed suicide? Yup!”

We at ChurchLeaders.com are grateful for Jarrid Wilson’s generosity to share his writing with our readers and for his determination to battle the demons of mental illness. Our prayers are with his family and friends as they grieve the loss of one who fought so well.

If you’d like to support others struggling with suicidal thoughts, consider donating to Anthem of Hope today.

This content was originally published here.

Michigan Governor’s Reckless E-Cigarette Ban Relies on a Breathtakingly Broad Reading of Her Authority To Protect ‘Public Health’

Today Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, announced that she is unilaterally imposing a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, based on the public health “emergency” allegedly posed by the “vaping crisis among youth.” Whitmer’s order, which will make Michigan the first state to impose such a ban, raises two obvious questions: Can she do that, and does it make sense? The answers are maybe and definitely not.

“We are not contesting the governor’s authority,” Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R–Clarklake) told The Detroit News. At the same time, McCann called the ban, which takes effect as soon as the rules are formally issued and lasts up to a year, “very premature,” noting that “no discussion on that topic has taken place.”

State Rep. Matt Maddock (R–Milford), chairman of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, described the ban, which applies to online as well as in-person sales, as an “Orwellian” edict aimed at “dismantling a legal industry.” He added that Whitmer is “essentially usurping the rulemaking process defined by the state Constitution,” since “there is no state emergency,” and “the governor can’t just outlaw bad habits just because she doesn’t like them.”

Benjamin Wetmore, Maddock’s legislative aide, tells me his boss has not seen the text of Whitmer’s order and is as puzzled as anyone else about the legal basis for it. “He has not seen the authority for the governor’s proposed order either,” Wetmore says.

When she announced her order on Twitter and Facebook, Whitmer did not say what statute gives her the authority to ban flavored e-cigarettes. “My number one priority is keeping our kids safe,” she said. “Right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe. That ends today.”

Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, says the governor’s order “has not been finalized yet,” but she referred me to Section 333.2226(d) of the Michigan Public Health Code, which says the department may “exercise authority and promulgate rules to safeguard properly the public health.” The code does not define “public health,” and it says, “This code shall be liberally construed for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the people of this state.” Last Friday, the department made a “finding of emergency” that says “a vaping crisis among youth” justifies “the promulgation of emergency rules.”

That finding does not cite any specific statutory authority for such “emergency rules.” But according to Chelsea Lewis, the governor’s deputy press secretary, the health department is relying on its general authority under Section 333.2226(d), combined with Section 24.248 of the Administrative Procedures Act, which says an agency may issue an emergency rule “without following the notice and participation procedures” that would otherwise apply when it “finds that preservation of the public health, safety, or welfare” requires it and the governor agrees.

In short, Whitmer’s e-cigarette ban rests on a breathtakingly broad reading of her authority to make emergency rules in the name of “public health,” however she defines it. “The rules will be filed in the next few weeks,” Lewis says. “They will take immediate effect once filed.”

Last year the New York Department of Health, whose powers include writing regulations that “deal with any matters affecting the security of life or health or the preservation and improvement of public health in the state of New York,” rescinded regulations that would have banned flavored e-cigarettes. Critics, who noted that similar bans have been introduced in the state legislature but have not gone anywhere, said the regulations were an improper usurpation of legislative authority.

The emergency that supposedly requires Whitmer’s ban is the recent surge in e-cigarette use by teenagers. Yet selling e-cigarettes to minors is already illegal in Michigan, and Whitmer, notwithstanding her avowed interest in protecting “public health,” is giving no weight to the interests of adult smokers who have switched to vaping, a much less hazardous source of nicotine, or are thinking about doing so. The e-cigarette flavors that she thinks are enticing “children” are indisputably popular among adults, many of whom say flavor variety is important in the process of replacing cigarettes with a far less dangerous alternative that delivers nicotine without tobacco combustion products.

“This shameless attempt at backdoor prohibition will close down several hundred Michigan small businesses and could send tens of thousands of ex-smokers back to deadly combustible cigarettes,” says Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes e-cigarettes as a harm-reducing alternative to the conventional kind. “These businesses and their customers will not go down without a fight. We look forward to supporting the lawsuits that now appear necessary to protect the right of adults to access these harm reduction products.”

This content was originally published here.

Suggested move to plant-based diets risks worsening brain health nutrient deficiency: And UK failing to recommend or monitor dietary levels of choline, warns nutritionist — ScienceDaily

To make matters worse, the UK government has failed to recommend or monitor dietary levels of this nutrient — choline — found predominantly in animal foods, says Dr Emma Derbyshire, of Nutritional Insight, a consultancy specialising in nutrition and biomedical science.

Choline is an essential dietary nutrient, but the amount produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body.

Choline is critical to brain health, particularly during fetal development. It also influences liver function, with shortfalls linked to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage, writes Dr Derbyshire.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

In 1998, recognising the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively, because of the critical role the nutrient has in fetal development.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. Yet national dietary surveys in North America, Australia, and Europe show that habitual choline intake, on average, falls short of these recommendations.

“This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets,” says Dr Derbyshire.

She commends the first report (EAT-Lancet) to compile a healthy food plan based on promoting environmental sustainability, but suggests that the restricted intakes of whole milk, eggs and animal protein it recommends could affect choline intake.

And she is at a loss to understand why choline does not feature in UK dietary guidance or national population monitoring data.

“Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorisation of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK,” she writes. “Choline is presently excluded from UK food composition databases, major dietary surveys, and dietary guidelines,” she adds.

It may be time for the UK government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to reverse this, she suggests, particularly given the mounting evidence on the importance of choline to human health and growing concerns about the sustainability of the planet’s food production.

“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this,” she writes.

“If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle, such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development,” she concludes.

This content was originally published here.

Your heart’s best friend: Dog ownership associated with better cardiovascular health

pets
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Owning a pet may help maintain a healthy heart, especially if that pet is a dog, according to the first analysis of data from the Kardiozive Brno 2030 study. The study examines the association of pet ownership—specifically dog ownership—with cardiovascular disease risk factors and cardiovascular health. The results are published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes.

The study first established baseline health and socio-economic information on more than 2,000 subjects in the city of Brno, Czech Republic, from January 2013 through Dec. 2014. Follow-up evaluations are scheduled for five-year intervals until 2030.

In the 2019 evaluation, the study looked at 1,769 subjects with no history of heart disease and scored them based on Life’s Simple 7 ideal health behaviors and factors, as outlined by the American Heart Association: body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking status, , blood glucose and total cholesterol.

The study compared the scores of pet owners overall to those who did not own pets. Then it compared dog owners to other pet owners and those who did not own pets.

“In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level,” says Andrea Maugeri, Ph.D., a researcher with the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno and the University of Catania in Catania, Italy. “The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.”

The study demonstrates an association between and heart health, which is in line with the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on the benefits of owning a dog in terms of , engagement and reduction of cardiovascular disease risk.

Dr. Maugeri says that the study findings support the idea that people could adopt, rescue or purchase a pet as a potential strategy to improve their cardiovascular health as long as pet ownership led them to a more physically active lifestyle.

Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., chair of the Division of Preventive Cardiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, says that having a dog may prompt owners to go out, move around and play with their dog regularly. Owning a dog also has been linked to better mental health in other studies and less perception of social isolation—both risk factors for heart attacks. Dr. Lopez-Jimenez is a senior investigator of this study.

More information:
Andrea Maugeri et al. Dog Ownership and Cardiovascular Health: Results From the Kardiovize 2030 Project, Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2019.07.007

Provided by
Mayo Clinic




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Vegan and Plant-Based Diets Worsen Brain Health

Summary: Eating a vegan or plant-based diet can be bad for your brain health, especially if you already have a low choline intake, researchers report.

Source: BMJ

The momentum behind a move to plant-based and vegan diets for the good of the planet is commendable, but risks worsening an already low intake of an essential nutrient involved in brain health, warns a nutritionist in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

To make matters worse, the UK government has failed to recommend or monitor dietary levels of this nutrient — choline — found predominantly in animal foods, says Dr. Emma Derbyshire, of Nutritional Insight, a consultancy specializing in nutrition and biomedical science.

Choline is an essential dietary nutrient, but the amount produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body.

Choline is critical to brain health, particularly during fetal development. It also influences liver function, with shortfalls linked to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage, writes Dr Derbyshire.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

In 1998, recognizing the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively, because of the critical role the nutrient has in fetal development.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. Yet national dietary surveys in North America, Australia, and Europe show that habitual choline intake, on average, falls short of these recommendations.

“This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets,” says Dr. Derbyshire.

She commends the first report (EAT-Lancet) to compile a healthy food plan based on promoting environmental sustainability but suggests that the restricted intakes of whole milk, eggs and animal protein it recommends could affect choline intake.

And she is at a loss to understand why choline does not feature in UK dietary guidance or national population monitoring data.

“Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorization of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK,” she writes. “Choline is presently excluded from UK food composition databases, major dietary surveys, and dietary guidelines,” she adds.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. The image is in the public domain.

It may be time for the UK government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to reverse this, she suggests, particularly given the mounting evidence on the importance of choline to human health and growing concerns about the sustainability of the planet’s food production.

“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this,” she writes.

“If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle, such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development,” she concludes.

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
BMJ
Media Contacts:
Press Office – BMJ
Image Source:
The image is in the public domain.

Could we be overlooking a potential choline crisis in the United Kingdom?

Choline can be likened to omega-3 fatty acids in that it is an ‘essential’ nutrient that cannot be produced by the body in amounts needed for human requirements. The United States (US) Institute of Medicine (IOM)1 and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)2 recognise that choline plays an important role in the human body and have established dietary reference values. The American Medical Association3 in 2017 published new advice stating that prenatal vitamin supplements should contain “evidenced-based” amounts of choline. Similarly the American Academy of Paediatrics4 5 (from 2018) called on paediatricians to move beyond simply recommending a “good diet” and to make sure that pregnant women and young children have access to food that provides adequate amounts of “brain-building” nutrients with choline being listed as one of these. Unfortunately, in the UK choline is not yet included in food composition databases, main nutrition surveys nor official recommendations. The present article discusses the current choline situation and explains why more needs to be done to include and monitor this essential nutrient in the UK.

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New Jersey appeals court overturns injunction on assisted suicide law – Health & Wellness – News – Catholic Online

A New Jersey appeals court ruled Tuesday that the state’s law permitting assisted suicide may take effect while a legal challenge against it is heard in court.

By
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

8/30/2019 (1 day ago)

Trenton, N.J., (CNA) – A New Jersey appeals court ruled Tuesday that the state’s law permitting assisted suicide may take effect while a legal challenge against it is heard in court.

The ruling reversed a previous decision from a lower court that had halted the law.

The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act is being challenged by a physician who says that it is a violation of religious freedom protections in the U.S. Constitution and laws against suicide.

Dr. Yosef Glassman is an Orthodox Jew who says that he is opposed to facilitating suicide both due to his religious beliefs and his profession as a doctor. He also objects to the law’s stipulation that a doctor who objects to assisted suicide must refer patients to another doctor who will help them end their life.

The law’s demands on doctors, Glassman said in his lawsuit, present “not only a violation of the rights to practice medicine without breaching the fiduciary duties owing to those patients … but also violations of their First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution to freely practice their religions in which human life is sacred and must not be taken,” the AP reported.

However, the appeals court said Glassman had not shown that irreparable harm would result from allowing the law to move forward during the court challenge.

“We conclude the court failed to consider adequately the interests of qualified terminally-ill patients, who the Legislature determined have clearly prescribed rights to end their lives consistent with the Act,” the appeals court said, according to the AP.

The assisted suicide law passed the New Jersey legislature narrowly in late March. The law allows those deemed by a doctor to have less than six months to live to request lethal medication to end their lives. The patient then must administer the medication themselves.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill into law April 12.

A self-described “lifelong, practicing Catholic,” Murphy said that he was aware of the Church’s opposition to assisted suicide, but that after careful consideration and prayer, “I have concluded that, while my faith may lead me to a particular decision for myself, as a public official I cannot deny this alternative to those who may reach a different conclusion.”

“I believe this choice is a personal one and, therefore, signing this legislation is the decision that best respects the freedom and humanity of all New Jersey residents,” Murphy said.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen condemned assisted suicide as “a grievous affront to the dignity of human life” that “can never be morally justified” in a letter to his diocese on July 30.

“Passage of this law points to the utter failure of government, and indeed all society, to care truly, authentically and humanely for the suffering and vulnerable in our midst, especially those living with an incurable disease as well as the frail elderly, the infirm and those living with disabilities,” he said.

He stressed that despite the new legality of the practice, it remains gravely immoral, and said the Church would continue advocating for the sanctity of all human life and working to educate lawmakers and the general public about the dangers of assisted suicide.

“With this law there will be a further desensitization of the value of human life,” said the bishop, adding that the elderly, sick and disabled could feel pressure to choose suicide so as to avoid burdening others.

He also clarified that Saint Peter’s University Hospital, sponsored by the Diocese of Metuchen, will not condone or participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Instead of assisted suicide, Checchio called for a renewed commitment caring for those living in pain and suffering while dying and who might otherwise consider suicide.

“Let us strive to help the sick and incapacitated find meaning in their lives, even and especially in the midst of their suffering,” he said. “Let us, as a society and as individuals choose to walk with them, in their suffering, not contribute to eliminating the gift of life.”

Assisted suicide is legal in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as in Montana under a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling.

This content was originally published here.

Opinion | Democrats Are Having the Wrong Health Care Debate – The New York Times

Four policies can effectively tackle the affordability issue. First, we need to address drug prices. The United States has just over 4 percent of the world’s population, and yet it accounts for nearly half of global drug spending. On average, the United States spends $1,443 per person a year on drugs. This cannot be explained by utilization; the difference is the drug prices we pay.

Switzerland, home to two of the largest drug companies in the world, negotiates drug prices. It has the second-highest per capita drug spending, at about $940 annually. That $500 per person difference between the United States and Switzerland translates to $160 billion per year in potential savings. Even just a third of those savings, $53 billion, would represent a 10 percent reduction in drug prices.

Despite a lot of talk about cutting drug prices, the Trump administration has taken no substantive action. Democrats need to endorse national, not just Medicare, drug price negotiations that use a value-based pricing framework — linking drug prices to their health benefits in reducing mortality and morbidity — international comparisons and affordability for the average citizen. If the negotiations are not successful, then the government should unilaterally set maximum drug prices.

Second, hospital prices are soaring and must be contained. Medicare and Medicaid set their own hospital prices, which have risen modestly in recent years. But hospital prices for the roughly 160 million Americans with private insurance have shot up as much as drug prices. In 1996, hospitals charged private insurance companies about 6 percent more than Medicare. In 2012, they charged 75 percent more than Medicare. A recent RAND study indicates that, on average, hospitals now charge private insurance companies 141 percent more than Medicare.

The main culprit behind this price escalation appears to be the mergers of hospital systems, which creates local monopolies. Researchers at Yale calculate that capping prices for inpatient care for private insurers at 120 percent of Medicare would save about 20 percent of those costs, approximately $90 billion per year. That cap may be too aggressive, but a cap of 140 percent would save more than $30 billion.

Next, we need a policy that targets wasteful insurance billing practices. In 2010, the National Academy of Medicine estimated that about 14 percent of health care spending was related to billing and insurance-related administrative activities. Updating those numbers for today, the Center for American Progress estimates that we spend nearly $500 billion a year on billing and insurance processing. Based on comparisons with other countries, about half of that is classified as “excess” — a polite way of saying waste.

The simplest approach is to empower an independent commission to create a clearinghouse for processing all medical bills with uniform standardized electronic formats for all insurers. Both Germany and Japan — countries with hundreds and thousands of insurance companies — have such centralized bill processing systems, generating low billing costs. Health economists suggest this could yield savings that are more than 3 percent of expenditures, about $90 billion per year.

The fourth option is to push even harder on switching from fee-for-service payment to value-based alternatives. As it stands, when physicians avoid an unnecessary test or deliver the same outcomes for less money, they suffer financially. Capitation, bundles and global budgets make doctors and hospitals responsible for both the total cost of caring for patients and the quality of their outcomes. Ultimately, it is doctors who write orders and decide on a patients’ suite of tests and treatments.

These four simple policies can easily save more than $100 billion and, if pushed aggressively, maybe close to $200 billion per year. Americans and American businesses are crying out for affordable health care. That, along with auto-enrollment, should be what Democrats fight for in 2020.

This content was originally published here.

Robert Mugabe in Singapore hospital as health worsens [photos]

Former president — and to his cadres in the Zanu-PF, the Founding Father — of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, is currently in a Singapore hospital getting the best medical assistance available.

That was the word from the country’s current head of state, Edward Mnangagwa, who, in a statement, assured fellow Zimbabweans that his predecessor, and former ally, was recovering well.

Why is Robert Mugabe in hospital?

According to a statement released by Mnangagwa, Mugabe has often been travelling between Zimbabwe and Singapore on a month-to-month basis for regular health check-ups.

The 95-year-old was remanded in the custody of healthcare professionals in Singapore in April after it was determined that he was not fit enough to be discharged.

“From the report the team gave me at the weekend, I am greatly pleased to inform the nation that the former President continues to make steady progress towards eventual recovery and that his condition is remarkably stable for his age,” Mnangagwa reported.

The president further confirmed that based on the report forwarded by his special envoy that includes Mugabe’s personal physician, the former president is responding well to treatment and that he could be “released fairly soon.”

HE President @edmnangagwa updates the nation on the condition of former president of Zimbabwe Cde RG Mugabe pic.twitter.com/BxCbhS45be

— Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting (@InfoMinZW) August 5, 2019

Prayers and well wishes pour in for Mugabe

Many supporters of Mugabe, including the EFF, have sent well wishes to Mugabe, praying that he recovers well and returns home as soon as possible.

Get well soon President Mugabe. The EFF wishes you a speedy recovery 🙏🏾 our prayers are with you. pic.twitter.com/B7jFKkVbsC

— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) August 5, 2019

We wish the former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe speed recovery on his health

— African Child (@African94982233) August 6, 2019

Speedy recovery Moetapele 🙏. #RobertMugabe https://t.co/W4A63ccTYj

— 《 I Have A Story To Tell 》🇱🇸 (@PolokoMokhele) August 6, 2019

Recent images of Mugabe in a dire state

Images of Mugabe in his current state have surfaced online. The aged Zanu-PF leader looks nothing like the stern leader that ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for so many years.

Pictures of the day @ robert mugabe pic.twitter.com/TXC0epd1iW

— mzansistories (@mzansistories) July 28, 2019

The state of Zimbabwe post-Mugabe

As Mugabe’s health deteriorates, so does the promise of a new dawn that has been dangled over the heads of Zimbabweans for decades.

Rising fuel and electricity prices, matched with a decaying infrastructure has pitted Zimbabwe in a worrying state. According to the most recent Freedom in the World report, Zimbabwe, under the rule of Mnangagwa, has regressed into the defunct state it was in back when Mugabe was at the helm.

“Zimbabwe’s political system returned in some ways to its pre-coup status quo, as the ruling Zanu PF party won deeply flawed general elections following the military’s ouster of longtime President Robert Mugabe in 2017.

“Despite Mnangagwa’s pledges to respect political institutions and govern in the interest of all Zimbabweans, his new administration has shown few signs that it is committed to fostering genuine political competition, and it has continued to enforce laws that limit expression,” the report read.

This content was originally published here.

Sexual abuse survivors who aren’t believed are at higher risk of poor mental health

Sexual abuse survivors who aren’t believed are at higher risk of poor mental health
Credit: Shutterstock

Survivors of sexual assault who encounter negative responses from family members when they disclose their abuse are at higher risk of poor mental health later in life, a new study by UNSW medical researchers has shown.

It is hoped that the study—and subsequent research—can help better inform and strategies to avert the longer-term emotional difficulties and risks that abuse survivors encounter later in life.

“There is ample evidence that sexual abuse is widespread among —for example, we know that nearly 1 in 5 globally, and approximately 20% of Australian women report exposure to sexual abuse in childhood,” says study lead author Associate Professor Susan Rees from UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry.

“The association between exposure to sexual abuse and a wide range of common mental disorders and adverse psychosocial outcomes is also well established.

“However, there are only few studies that have tried to qualitatively understand the possible range of sexual assault disclosure responses from parents and relatives—girls’ and women’s most likely confidantes—as well as the survivors’ associated emotional reaction, and mental disorder later in life.”

For this study, the researchers conducted interviews with 30 adult female survivors of sexual abuse who sought support from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Sexual Assault Counselling Service.

To better understand the interpersonal complexity of the survivor’s experiences, the team enabled the survivors to explore their experiences in a confidential one-on-one setting with skilled counselors. Together, they plotted the survivor’s experience on a visual timeline.

Survivors described the main three toxic responses from when they—often as a child—disclosed the sexual assault.

“Women described being ignored, blamed for the abuse or being threatened that some harm would come to them or the family if they speak out,” A/Prof Rees says.

Women who had these negative disclosure experiences then reported a range of adverse psychosocial outcomes experienced later in their lives—including social isolation, taking drugs, recurrent or persisting mental disorder and future risk of , including bullying at school.

“In short, we found that these are strongly associated with mental disorders and future adversity later in life—particularly if the negative disclosure experience occurred during childhood,” A/Prof Rees said.

The researchers hope that this more nuanced understanding may help to better inform interventions and public campaigns to encourage society to work towards breaking the silence that protects perpetrators and obscures the pervasive harms caused by against children and women.

“For example, parents need to better understand the importance of responding with affirming and caring responses if they are confronted with disclosures, given that the period immediately following a disclosure may be a critical window where survivors are particularly vulnerable,” A/Prof Rees says.

For , the researchers recommend special training to identify and respond to negative disclosure experiences.

And at a societal level, the researchers say they hope that the contemporary public attention for sexual violence, steered by the #metoo movement, will help promote “public acknowledgment of men’s culpability, rather than women’s responsibility.”

“We need to harness this impetus at the community level to overcome denial and victim blaming in the home, too,” A/Prof Rees concludes.

The study was a collaboration between UNSW Medicine and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Sexual Assault Counselling Service. The Service is planning future research on this topic.

“Our sample was non-representative and we therefore can’t generalize our findings to the wider population of women who have been sexually abused—so we need more research,” A/Prof Rees says.

More information:
Susan Rees et al. Believe #metoo: sexual violence and interpersonal disclosure experiences among women attending a sexual assault service in Australia: a mixed-methods study, BMJ Open (2019). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026773

Journal information:
BMJ Open




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Olathe School District adds licensed therapists at each high school to help with mental health

OLATHE, Kan. — A metro school district is rolling out a new program to help students with mental health.

It’s one of several ways they’re working to ease anxiety that comes with start of school and everyday life.

At this point, Mayci Armstrong is used to bells ringing and lockers slamming, but she remembers the struggle of that first day as a freshman.

“So my first day, oh man, what a mess,” Armstrong said. “I was so nervous.”

Now a senior at Olathe South High School, she and the rest of “Link Crew” showed freshmen around their new home for the next four years on Wednesday. The upperclassmen help fill them in on the good food, class locations and the inside scoop.

“Okay, girls,” Armstrong said, pointing passing through the hall. “That is the best bathroom in the whole school. It’s like a hotel restroom.”

“They’re going to have an upperclassman that’s going to kind of show them the ropes,” new Olathe Public Schools staff member Tina Mcleod said, “and they’re going to be able to have that all year long. So it’s a fabulous program.”

The district isn’t stopping there. They’re introducing a new program to put student wellness advocates in each of the five high schools in Olathe.

“This is something that is brand new, and we’re really excited about it that the district has allocated funds for these positions,” said Angie Salava, director of social, emotional, learning and mental health services. “They are not grant positions. They are permanent positions.”

Salava said data shows their students need help in areas of mental health. She noted that the suicide protocol was put to the test more than 500 times last year — and used in every single grade including Pre-K.

“We know that having that resource on site, it removes the barriers of time, transportation, and even money that can prevent some parents from seeking that help for their students,” she said.

That’s where advocates like Mcleod come in.

She’s one of five licensed therapists working for the district to provide individual and group counseling for students dealing with feelings like anxiety and depression.

“In general, I think that we want to give students a language to be able to communicate what they’re feeling and what their needs are,” Mcleod said. “We want to provide a safe environment and let them know that they have someone to talk to and they have supports.”

As Mcleod works to guide students through life, Armstrong is helping them navigate the halls — both equally important.

“I just like to help them relax a little bit because I know how scary it can be,” Armstrong said.

These mental health professionals will not only be in the high schools, but will also be available to schools in every feeder pattern to help students.


If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.

Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Click on the boxes below for our FOX 4 You Matter reports and other helpful phone numbers and resources.

This content was originally published here.

California Is Expanding Government Health Care to More Illegal Immigrants. Here’s What to Expect.

California is now extending health care benefits to more state residents, including young adult illegal immigrants, as conservatives warn it could attract more illegal immigrants to the state and further burden a health care system without sufficient doctors. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, last month signed into law a measure (Assembly Bill 4) amending the eligibility portion of the state Medicaid program known as Medi-Cal. 

“Providing a new public benefit to a group of people in the nation illegally will incentivize more people to risk breaking U.S. immigration law to settle in California,” Chuck DeVore, a former California assemblyman, said.

The law states that “an individual who does not have satisfactory immigration status or is unable to establish satisfactory immigration status, as required by Section 14011.2, shall be eligible for the full scope of Medi-Cal benefits, if they are otherwise eligible for benefits under this chapter.”

Prior to the bill’s passage, Calfornians under the age of 19 with an income below 400% of the poverty level were eligible to be enrolled in Medi-Cal. The measure expands the existing program to young adults who are 25 years old or younger, regardless of immigration status.

“Providing access to health care coverage and services to all Californians is a key goal of [the Newsom] administration, and this serves as an important step toward accomplishing that goal, while building on the previous expansion of full-scope coverage to children,” wrote Carol Sloane, spokeswoman for California’s Department of Health Care Services, which administers Medi-Cal, in an email to The Daily Signal.

President Donald Trump appeared to reference California’s decision to extend health care coverage to illegal immigrants earlier this month, telling reporters: “If you look at what they’re doing in California, how they’re treating people, they don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants. So at what point does it stop? It’s crazy what they’re doing. It’s crazy. And it’s mean, and it’s very unfair to our citizens.”

Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, criticized California for not covering senior citizens who are illegal immigrants.

“The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions,” Buiza said, according to NPR

Source of Funding

Sally Pipes, president and CEO of Pacific Research Institute, a conservative-leaning policy group in California, told The Daily Signal the new law will incentivize young illegal immigrants to go to California to benefit from the program. 

Pipes explained that the weight of Medi-Cal costs—roughly $98 million at a minimum estimate—will fall on California taxpayers. 

“Of course, it will hit middle-income earners most. That’s what most people are,” Pipes said. “A lot of these people are having a hard time affording premiums and deductibles already. Now they’re going to have to support people who are coming here illegally, when they’re having trouble paying for themselves.”

Newsom did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment from the governor about how the state plans to pay for the new program. 

“To help pay for expanding Medi-Cal and to subsidize health insurance premiums, California has enacted its own individual mandate, imposing a tax on those who fail to buy insurance,” DeVore said, adding that the estimated cost of $98 million is likely very low. 

The Sacramento Bee reported in late June: “To pay for those [health care] subsidies, the state will fine people who don’t buy insurance through a policy known as the individual mandate, which was first implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act. … It’s expected to bring in roughly $1 billion for premium assistance over three years.”

Medi-Cal’s Problems 

Pipes says that the subsidy rate—the level of income at which California residents will be eligible for Medi-Cal—was also was increased significantly.

“They’re increasing the subsidy rate from 400% under Obamacare to now up to 600% of the poverty level,” Pipes said. “Now, anyone earning up to $75,000 per individual and $150,000 per family is eligible to be on Medi-Cal. And it’s for anyone in California.”

Under Medi-Cal, Pipes said, doctors are paid approximately 40% less than what they would get for treating a regular patient.

“A third of the population is on Medi-Cal already,” she said. “Adding more people to Medi-Cal means that there are fewer doctors taking medical patients, because of the low reimbursement. It’s going to be harder to get a doctor at all, and if they do, the wait is going to be very long.”

California has offered to pay doctors’ student loan debt, in exchange for treating Medi-Cal patients. 

“Being entitled to Medi-Cal doesn’t mean that the estimated 90,000 newly-covered people will be able to see a doctor,” DeVore said. 

“In fact, Medi-Cal recipients often must wait six to nine months before receiving medical attention,” he added. “As a result, they continue to use California’s overburdened emergency rooms where Medi-Cal recipient use nearly doubled from 2006 to 2016.”

Future Expansion Under This Governor 

Pipes said she expects Newsom is not done with the Medicaid program, and will continue to push its expansion.

“The governor promised voters—in particular, the militant nurses union—that they would get single-payer health care,” Pipes said. “This is his first stepping-stone approach to moving towards single-payer health care. He knew he wouldn’t get it in his first year, but this is all part of his grand scheme, working towards no private coverage.”

The law requires appropriations from the Legislature in order to be enacted, either through the annual Budget Act or another appropriations measure, according to the legislative counsel’s digest

With a Democratic supermajority in the California Assembly, Pipes said, she does not anticipate any successful opposition to funding the new program.

The post appeared first on The Daily Signal.

This content was originally published here.

Canada has an excellent health care plan. Bernie Sanders’s might be even better

During last night’s Democratic debates, Senator Bernie Sanders naturally talked up his signature policy point, his Medicare for All proposal. He also made a familiar comparison, describing a bus trip he made from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, with Americans who fill prescriptions in the northern country at a fraction of what they cost south of the border.

“I took 15 people with diabetes from Detroit a few miles into Canada,” he said in last night’s debate, “and we bought insulin for one-tenth the price being charged by the crooks who run the pharmaceutical industry in America today.”

The differences between the two countries’ health plans are often highlighted in arguments for extending universal health care to all Americans, while eliminating private insurance. The US is the only industrial nation without universal health care, so it’s handy that such a close neighbor serves as an example of how it works. But, in fact, there are a few ways that Sanders’s plan would provide even more comprehensive coverage than Canada’s.

As Sanders said in a post-debate interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, his version of Medicare for All would include dental, vision, and hearing care for seniors in the first year of a transition to universal coverage. By the fourth year, all Americans would be eligible for the same benefits. Presumably, so would a plan under Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is “with Bernie” on healthcare. Senator Kamala Harris should be asked to clarify her stance on related co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses during Wednesday’s debate (July 31), the Washington Post suggests, though her proposal, which doesn’t eliminate private companies, does suggest the same type of comprehensive coverage.

What few Americans may realize is that these particular aspects of care are not entirely covered by Canada’s provincial health plans. But they’d certainly be an asset to the United States’ population—and particularly to senior citizens. Growing evidence suggests that a person’s vision, hearing abilities, and oral hygiene could all be connected to cognitive health.

The case for covering seniors’ hearing, dental, and vision care

Seniors are among the fastest growing demographics in the US, with those over 65 expected to outnumber children under 18 by 2030. Older adults have distinct health needs compared to younger adults: Namely, they’re at the highest risk of developing dementia. Already, about one in 10 adults over 65 is living with Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia), although the rate is higher among communities of color—which happen to be the fastest-growing aging populations in the US.

Rapid cognitive decline can result from several kinds of misshapen proteins building up in the brain. But the many pathways to dementia are still poorly understood—and at this point, impossible to prevent or treat. It’s costly, too: Currently, the US spends $290 billion (pdf) caring for those living with Alzheimer’s in particular, and the Alzheimer’s Association, a non-profit organization, estimates that that figure will reach $770 billion by 2050.

Some research has suggested there may be a relationship between poor oral hygiene, , and hearing abilities and developing cognitive decline or dementia. In the absence of successful tactics to prevent the conditions, some experts hope that interventions connected to these three functions could help slow or prevent dementia.

Suzann Pershing, an ophthalmologist at Stanford University School of Medicine, conducted a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology that found an association between poor vision and lower cognitive ability in older populations. She told the New York Times that “while this association doesn’t prove vision loss causes cognitive decline, intuitively it makes sense that the less engaged people are with the world, the less cognitive stimulation they receive, and the more likely their cognitive function will decline.”

The same is thought to be true of hearing loss, which can lead to social isolation. (Consider that even adults who don’t have hearing problems are liable to give up on conversation in a loud place.) Another possibility to explain this link, AARP magazine reports, is that straining to hear and understand sounds can put extra stress on the brain. “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market,” Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, told AARP magazine. “It should be the first thing we focus on.”

The connection to dental care is a little trickier. Preliminary research has shown that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a type of bacteria that causes periodontitis, is more commonly found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not clear if the bacteria itself plays a role in the brain’s deterioration, or if people living with dementia end up unable to take proper care of their teeth, resulting in severe infections.

To be clear, there are no known direct causes of dementia; there just appear to be risk factors that could lead to the condition. Suffering from hearing impairment, vision loss, or gum disease certainly does not lead to cognitive decline in everyone. But by the same token, every senior stands to gain from total vision, dental, and hearing coverage—perhaps especially those already dealing with cognitive impairment.

Canada is not a great role model for these forms of care

Which is why Sanders’s proposal stands to serve US seniors even better than Canada’s system serves its own elderly citizens. Across Canada, eye exams and treatments for conditions affecting the eyes are covered under provincial health plans. But lenses, frames, and contact lenses typically are not, except for those people on financial assistance. And while hearing tests are covered, provincial governments offer either no assistance or only capped subsidies for hearing aids, which are notoriously expensive.

Dental coverage for most seniors is missing entirely, until someone is in so much pain that they visit an emergency room. Most employers offer dental and vision coverage, but once a person retires, those benefits vanish, and relatively pricey private insurance becomes the only option.

The other leading Democratic candidates in the US have addressed seniors’ concerns in their policy talking points. As they should, if they’re aware of demographic trends and the fact that more senior voters are moving to the left. But only the Sanders platform—and by default Elizabeth Warren’s—is as specific about full universal coverage for these three issues.

One day, Bernie’s bus may need to travel to Canada again—this time bearing pointers for his neighbor to the north.

This content was originally published here.

Elizabeth Warren Calls for ‘Affordable, Gender-Affirming’ Health Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for health care that is high-quality, affordable, and “gender-affirming” in a tweet posted Tuesday afternoon. However, she has not always held that position.

Warren tweeted Tuesday that Americans are entitled to “high-quality, affordable, gender-affirming health care” and criticized the Trump administration for considering a proposal that would revise Obama-era protections for transgender adults, who make up 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, according to government data.

“But the Trump administration is trying to roll back important protections for trans Americans. Help fight back by leaving a comment for HHS in protest,” she added, along with a link to a Protect Trans Health petition:

Everyone should be able to access high-quality, affordable, gender-affirming health care. But the Trump administration is trying to roll back important protections for trans Americans. Help fight back by leaving a comment for HHS in protest: https://t.co/pKDcOqbsc7

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 13, 2019

The petition states:

The Trump-Pence Administration is trying to undermine the Health Care Rights Law, a lifesaving law that helps transgender people access the health care they need without discrimination from health care providers or insurers. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a regulation that falsely says discrimination against transgender people is legal.

The Trump administration is considering revising the Obama-era protections outlined in the Affordable Care Act — Section 1557, specifically — which bars discrimination based on race, sex, or sexual orientation. The Trump administration, essentially, wants to revert to the traditional meaning of sex discrimination, which does not include gender identity.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the following proposal in June:

The Department of Health and Human Services (“the Department”) is committed to ensuring the civil rights of all individuals who access or seek to access health programs or activities of covered entities under Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Department proposes to revise its Section 1557 regulation in order to better comply with the mandates of Congress, address legal concerns, relieve billions of dollars in undue regulatory burdens, further substantive compliance, reduce confusion, and clarify the scope of Section 1557 in keeping with pre-existing civil rights statutes and regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability.

HHS contends that the rule would “empower the Department to continue its robust enforcement of civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in Department-funded health programs or activities, and would make it clear that such civil rights laws remain in full force and effect.”

Critics consider the proposal a direct assault on the transgender community.

Via USA Today:

This section covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity, but the Trump-Pence White House has needlessly proposed a new regulation that would cruelly strip the ACA of specific protections for LGBTQ patients, specifically transgender people. This proposed regulation callously puts lives at risk, and it’s imperative the American people make their voices heard on why this it is dangerous and unacceptable.

On June 14, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed regulation based on a court’s outrageous claim that the ACA’s protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity is “likely unlawful.” This initiated a 60-day public comment period that runs through Aug. 12. In a press release sent out by HHS, Roger Severino, the Director of the department’s Office of Civil Rights, offered this ratonale: “When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform.”

While Warren has been attempting to brand herself as a strong transgender ally, she has expressed concerns in regards to taxpayer-funded services for transgender individuals in the past. She openly admitted that taxpayer-funded reassignment surgery for convicted murderer Robert Kosilek, who switched to “Michelle,” would be a bad use of taxpayer dollars.

Kosilek, who long battled the prison system for sexual reassignment surgery, sued the Massachusetts prison system for failing to allow him to receive the “gender-affirming” health care Warren purportedly supports. A federal judge sided with Kosilek in 2012, during Warren’s battle with former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).

“I have to say, I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars,” Warren said when asked about the ruling at the time.

Warren eventually walked that position back, with her then-presidential exploratory committee telling ThinkProgress in January that she “supports access to medically necessary services, including transition-related surgeries.”

“This includes procedures taking place at the VA, in the military, or at correctional facilities,” the statement added.

This content was originally published here.

A Health Care System That’s the Envy of the World

More is spent on taxes by households than on anything else in Amy’s country.  This exuberant taxpayer funding of the public health care utopia known as the “envy of the world” is today Bernie Sanders’s and Kamala Harris’s main advocacy platform all the way to 2020.

Addictive and mind-altering pharmaceutical chemicals are all Amy has at her disposal.  No back specialist or treatments are on the horizon.

The following events did not take place in the Soviet Union or Cuba.  None of this inhumanity was a figment of my imagination.  I’m narrating the details without hyperbole.

Recently, I took a ride through one amazingly affordable health care system — the one Obama and other notable Democrats paint as the “envy of the world.”  See how quickly you can figure out where this envy of the world dwells.

Got your seat belt on? This liberal utopia is a bit bumpy.

You enter a hospital emergency room.  For two months prior, you suffered abysmal pain, unable to shower, straighten out, or sit.  You’re the Hunchback of Notre Dame, debilitated with no reprieve.  When one of your legs isn’t numb from hip to toe, you experience sharp stabbing sensations that make you want to slit your wrists.

Yet you do exactly what your nation’s one-tier medical system instructs you to do: you visit a family doctor who routinely suggests an MRI.  And since you live in the proud lap of liberalism, which ensures the all-inclusive equity of suffering, you are told that your MRI is a mere twelve months away.  A referral to a spine clinic was offered at a six months’ wait.  Lucky for you, a generous dose of an opioid was prescribed in the interim.  The 60 Oxycontin pills (the most addictive opioid on the market, with a street value of $60/pill) were augmented by 270 pills of Gabapentin, a drug designed to deceive your brain into thinking you are not in pain.  You walk away a guaranteed addict with a pocket full of mind-altering chemicals.

By now you should be entirely consoled by the idea that many are in the same boat of egalitarianism for suffering and queues.  The thought of equitable misery is expected to work as an instant pain-reliever.  This barbaric philosophy is at the crux of government policies that outlaw private health care in this country.

This is how my friend’s journey through the cartel of socialist policies began.

As Amy tried to figure out how to take her next breath without screaming, she decided that a 12-month wait is simply inhumane.  She did what most people of means do: she arranged a private MRI.  A diagnosis of bulging spinal discs pressing on nerves in the lower spine resulted.  Amy, now $692 poorer, was always guaranteed health care when she needed it — that is, if she didn’t mind croaking from pain first.

In Amy’s country, an average annual income of $60,900 pays a health care tax bill of $5,516 for the privilege of the “free” health care perk.  In 2016, an average family sent 42.5% of their income straight into government coffers, out of which health care funding is allocated.  Top earners pay up to $37,361 annually for their shot at the “free” emergency room queues, MRI waits, and specialist appointments.

More is spent on taxes by households than on anything else in Amy’s country.  This exuberant taxpayer funding of the public health care utopia known as the “envy of the world” is today Bernie Sanders’s and Kamala Harris’s main advocacy platform all the way to 2020.

Amy’s journey continues…

Addictive and mind-altering pharmaceutical chemicals are all Amy has at her disposal.  No back specialist or treatments are on the horizon.

After a several days of continued suffering, with no relief from prescribed opioids, Amy, now in a wheelchair, heads to the nearest emergency room.  Official wait time is recorded as two hours.  In reality, the two-hour wait was simply the time needed to get through the three separate points of admission.  Bureaucracy requires it.

Amy enters a second waiting room, where she waits three more hours.  Ten hours later, loaded with more addicting opioids (Hydromorphine and Tramadol), Amy is sent home.  She is told that average wait time to see a back surgeon is between 18 and 24 months.

Next come two more visits to emergency rooms out of sheer desperation and helplessness.  Amy knows that these emergency rooms rarely do more than prescribe drugs and lend a sympathetic ear.  But when you have no other choices, you seek relief even where you know there isn’t any.

After each visit to an emergency facility, Amy is prescribed more addictive medications and told she needs to learn to manage her pain.  Amy understands that “managing pain” is code for “living with pain.”  Continuing this regime of ineffective addictive pill therapy is, likewise, synonymous with “there are no resources, no treatments, but you’re welcome to become a drug addict and not waste our time ever again.”  None of the drugs prescribed works.  Amy is told average time for surgery she needs is up to three years.

Amy finally realizes that private care surgery is the only option.  It’s the end of the line; she has to take control of her health, regardless of the public system’s incompetence and lack of resources.

A few days later — another trip to an emergency room by way of ambulance service that refused to drive her to a hospital with a spinal unit.  Amy waits four hours.  In the meantime, she’s generously offered more opioids for her pain. 

After six agonizing hours, Amy is admitted.  Once again, the wait begins.  At 3:00 A.M., a doctor on duty shows up, exactly eight hours since Amy was wheeled in.

Once at Amy’s bedside, the good doctor utters, “There’s nothing we can do for you here.  You should’ve gone to the other hospital with a spinal unit.  But don’t tell anyone I told you.”

Amy’s visit ends with a fresh prescription of meds and a refill for more opioids.  Not even a hint of the word “surgery.”

The next morning, Amy’s pain gets worse.  She’s in the hospital again.  This time, a twelve-hour wait before she is seen.  When the neurosurgeon arrives he offers, “We don’t do surgery for your condition.  I’m happy to put you on a waiting list to see a back specialist.  If you’re lucky, the average twelve-month wait might expedite to a three-month wait.”  Amy’s visit ends with more helplessness, more crying and desperation. 

As Amy became completely bedridden, I made the case for private surgery south of the border, in Florida.  It was her only option for survival.  A ten-hour flight to Florida wasn’t feasible in Amy’s condition.  But an underground private clinic in a close-by city one hour’s flight time away was perfect.  The cost of surgery?  Twenty thousand dollars.

Three days after the original idea for private care, I picked up Amy from the long awaited surgery, able to walk and talk without groaning and crying.  Only hours after surgery, she was cracking her usual jokes.

Amy’s story doesn’t quite end here.  For lack of any good alternatives, this very Canadian (there you have it!) public health care mess more than charitably fed Amy all sorts of opioids.  Today, my friend is courageously fighting an opioid addiction — an addiction not one medical professional warned her about. 

Unless you live in Canada and have the dubious pleasure of experiencing the one-tier system of finding a family doctor, wait times in hospitals, wait times for imagery exams, wait times to see specialists and wait times for treatment or surgery, you can’t really appreciate the true meaning of the word “affordable” in Canada’s very affordable public health care.  Canada’s single-payer public health care system, heavily funded by taxpayers, forced over one million patients to wait for necessary medical treatments last year.  An all-time record in a country of only 36 million.  The only thing Canadians are guaranteed is a spot on a waitlist. 

Trouble with “affordable” and “free”: both are very expensive.

Valerie Sobel is a writer, economist, and pianist residing in Western Canada.

This content was originally published here.

The Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren Has Health Benefits for Both, According to a Study

The Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren Has Health Benefits for Both, According to a Study

In the modern world where both parents work full-time and crave professional success, the number of grandparents who are raising grandchildren is increasing rapidly. For many adults, the “intrusion” of grandparents is annoying, because, after all, it’s about their children, “and they know what’s best for them.”

If you have doubts about whether or not to allow your elders to participate in the upbringing of your child, we at Bright Side can tip the scales in favor of the love and care that only grandparents can offer.

Grandparents are good for your health.

The cultural and social situations that occur today have strengthened the relationships between grandchildren and grandparents, mainly because the number of households where both parents work full-time is continuing to grow. In addition, the family disintegration rate is increasingly high. Because of this, there are several studies that have been dedicated to investigating the connection between the bond that grandparents have with their grandchildren and the welfare of the latter.

A special investigation, carried out by the University of Oxford, showed that frequent contact and loving connections between grandparents and their grandchildren generate social and emotional well-being in children and young people. This bond protects grandchildren from problems with development that they could face and boosts their social and cognitive abilities. In addition, “close relationships between grandparents and grandchildren buffered the effects of adverse life events, like parental separation, because it calmed the children down,” says Dr. Eirini Flouri, one of the authors of the study.

It’s not enough to just be close, you also have to get involved.

These conclusions and results were revealed thanks to the analysis of 1,596 children of different ages in England and Wales. Different aspects like socioeconomic status, grandparents’ age, and the level of closeness in the relationship were evaluated. 40 in-depth interviews were also conducted with children from different backgrounds. These surveys, in addition to revealing the healthy benefits that this bond brings, also gave an overview of the importance of these relationships in our society, since almost a third of maternal grandmothers provide regular care for their grandchildren, and 40% provide occasional help with childcare.

The study focused mainly on children who were about to become teenagers, those who, surprisingly and contrary to what one might think, accept the relationship with their grandparents with great satisfaction and love. The reason? The survey revealed that today’s grandparents often have more time than parents to help young people in their activities, in addition to being in a position that gives them greater confidence to talk with their grandchildren about any problems they may be experiencing. However, the emotional closeness may not be enough: grandparents should be involved in education and help solve youth problems, as well as talk with teenagers about their future plans.

The benefits that grandchildren bring to grandparents

The relationships and bonds that grandchildren and grandparents have can also improve the well-being of older adults. A study by the Institute of Gerontology at the School of Social and Public Policy in London found that the grandparent-grandchild relationship is strongly associated with the quality of life of older adults regarding their health. This means that grandparents, mainly grandmothers, who provide care for their grandchildren, enjoy better physical health. The study highlighted the importance of leading a relationship that does not fill grandparents with responsibilities and lets them lead a life without major worries. Otherwise it could cause depression.

The research was based on official data of 8,972 women and 6,567 men, 50 years of age or older, who had one or more grandchildren at the start of the study and lived in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden, contemplating a period of 5 years.

We believe that the help and advice of those who raised us and can now help us raise our children should always be welcomed.

How close were you to your grandparents? What is the relationship that your children have with their grandparents? We would absolutely love to read your stories and opinions in the comments section.

Preview photo credit Coco / Disney Pixar

This content was originally published here.

Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but it has numerous mental health benefits for fans

Summary: Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but a new study reveals the music has positive mental health benefits for its fans.

Source: The Conversation

Due to its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics, heavy metal music is often associated with controversy. Among the genre’s most contentious moments, there have been instances of blasphemous merchandise, accusations of promoting suicide and blame for mass school shootings. Why, then, if it’s so “bad”, do so many people enjoy it? And does this music genre really have a negative effect on them?

There are many reasons why people align themselves with genres of music. It may be to feel a sense of belonging, because they enjoy the sound, identify with the lyrical themes, or want to look and act a certain way. For me, as a quiet, introverted teenager, my love of heavy metal was probably a way to feel a little bit different to most people in my school who liked popular music and gain some internal confidence. Plus, I loved the sound of it.

I first began to listen to heavy metal when I was 14 or 15 years old when my uncle recorded a ZZ Top album for me and I heard singles by AC/DC and Bon Jovi. After that, I voraciously read music magazines Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces, and RAW, and checked out as many back catalogs of artists as I could. I also grew my hair (yes, I had a mullet … twice), wore a denim jacket with patches (thanks mum), and attended numerous concerts by established artists like Metallica and The Wildhearts, as well as local Bristol bands like Frozen Food.

Over the years, there has been much research into the effects of heavy metal. I have used it as one of the conditions in my own studies exploring the impact of sound on performance. More specifically, I have used thrash metal (a fast and aggressive sub-genre of heavy metal) to compare music our participants liked and disliked (with metal being the music the did not enjoy). This research showed that listening to music you dislike, compared to music that you like, can impair spatial rotation (the ability to mentally rotate objects in your mind), and both liked and disliked music are equally damaging to short-term memory performance.

Other researchers have studied more specifically why people listen to heavy metal, and whether it influences subsequent behavior. For people who are not fans of heavy metal, listening to the music seems to have a negative impact on well-being. In one study, non-fans who listened to classical music, heavy metal, self-selected music, or sat in silence following a stressor, experienced greater anxiety after listening to heavy metal. Listening to the other music or sitting in silence, meanwhile, showed a decrease in anxiety. Interestingly heart rate and respiration decreased over time for all conditions.

Metalheads and headbangers

Looking further into the differences between heavy metal fans and non-fans, research has shown that fans tend to be more open to new experiences, which manifests itself in preferring music that is intense, complex, and unconventional, alongside a negative attitude towards institutional authority. Some do have lower levels of self-esteem, however, and a need for uniqueness.

One might conclude that this and other negative behaviors are the results of listening to heavy metal, but the same research suggests that it may be that listening to music is cathartic. Late adolescent/early adult fans also tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety but it is not known whether the music attracts people with these characteristics or causes them.

Heavy metal has positive effects on fans of all ages. The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

Despite the often violent lyrical content in some heavy metal songs, recently published research has shown that fans do not become sensitized to violence, which casts doubt on the previously assumed negative effects of long-term exposure to such music. Indeed, studies have shown long-terms fans were happier in their youth and better adjusted in middle age compared to their non-fan counterparts. Another finding that fans who were made angry and then listened to heavy metal music did not increase their anger but increased their positive emotions suggests that listening to extreme music represents a healthy and functional way of processing anger.

Other investigations have made rather unusual findings on the effects of heavy metal. For example, you might not want to put someone in charge of adding hot sauce to your food after listening to the music, as a study showed that participants added more to a person’s cup of water after listening to heavy metal than when listening to nothing at all.

Finally, heavy metal can promote scientific thinking but alas not just by listening to it. Educators can promote scientific thinking by posing claims such as listening to certain genres of music is associated with violent thinking. By examining the aforementioned accusations of violence and offense – which involved world-famous artists like Cradle of Filth, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson – students can engage in scientific thinking, exploring logical fallacies, research design issues, and thinking biases.

So, you beautiful people, whether you’re heading out to the highway to hell or the stairway to heaven, walk this way. Metal can make you feel like nothing else matters. It’s so easy to blow your speakers and shout it out loud. Dig!

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
The Conversation
Media Contacts:
Nick Perham – The Conversation
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The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

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Elderly couple suicide: High medical bills blamed for elderly Washington couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide; left notes about high health care cost – CBS News

A sheriff’s department in Washington state shared a story about an elderly man who killed his ailing wife and then himself, apparently because they did not have enough money to pay for medical care. The devastating story was shared on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and has gone viral. 

A 77-year-old man called 911 and told the dispatcher, “I’m going to kill myself,” according to the sheriff’s department. He indicated he had prepared a note with instructions and the dispatcher tried to keep him on the line, with no success. The man disconnected the call, and when deputies arrived at the house, they sent a robot mounted camera inside.

Both the man and his wife were found dead by gunshot wounds. Detectives are investigating it as a likely murder-suicide. 

Murder / Suicide near Ferndale

At 0823 hours this morning deputies responded to the 6500 block of Timmeran Lane near…

Posted by

“Several notes were left citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care,” the sheriffs department’s post reads. “Next of kin information was left in a note and detectives are working with out of state law enforcement to notify the next of kin.”

The identity of the couple has not been released. Their two dogs were brought to the Human Society for care. Several firearms were also impounded.

“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said, according to the post. “Help is always available with a call to 9-1-1.”

Americans spend more on health care than citizens of any other country, and that gap is projected to widen. Health care spending is expected to consume almost 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2027, according to a recent estimate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

Suicide rates have increased among all age groups in the U.S. between 2008 and 2017, including those age 65 and over.

How to get help for yourself or a loved one

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or thinking about suicide, talk to someone who can help, such as a trusted loved one, your doctor, your licensed mental health professional if you already have one, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

If you believe your loved one or friend is at risk of suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek help from a doctor or the nearest hospital emergency department or dial 911. It’s important to remove access to firearms, medications, or any other potential tools they might use to harm themselves.

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

-Ashley Welch contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

Clintons Dismiss Calls for Mental Health Reform and Demand Gun Ban

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton reacted to President Trump’s Monday morning remarks on the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, dismissing his push for mental health-based reform and calling for the ban of “assault weapons.”

Trump addressed the nation Monday on the deadly shootings that occurred over the weekend, resulting in more than 30 fatalities and dozens of injuries. He unequivocally condemned racism, bigotry, and white supremacy, calling them “sinister ideologies” that “must be defeated.”

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America, hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

While the president called for bipartisan solutions – including “red flag” laws – he urged lawmakers to address the festering mental health crisis in the nation as well.

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” the president noted.

Both Clintons took issue with Trump’s position.

“People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth,” Hillary Clinton tweeted. “The difference is the guns.”:

People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth.

The difference is the guns.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 5, 2019

Former President Bill Clinton took it a step further and renewed calls for an “assault weapons” ban, despite the fact that the 1994 ban did not have any tangible effect.

“How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks?” Clinton asked.

“After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths,” he claimed. “When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.”:

How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks? After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths. When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.

— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) August 5, 2019

“The ban lasted from 1994 to 2004 and, although crime fell during that time, a ‘detailed study found no proof’ the decline was due to the ban,” Breitbart News’s AWR Hawkins reported.

Even the New York Times admitted that “the law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.”

Additionally:

Hard numbers showed the percentage of “assault weapons” recovered by police during the ban only rose from 1 percent to 2 percent.

On top of all this, the Times points out that “assault weapons” are not the gun of choice for criminals anyway–and never have been. “In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, FBI data shows.” And as Breitbart News reported on January 15, 2013, deaths in which an “assault rifle” were involved constituted less than .012 percent of the overall deaths in America in 2011.

The nitty-gritty details of the 1994 assault weapons ban demonstrate the fundamental flaws in the left’s solutions for gun violence. The 1994 assault weapons ban identified five features and barred any semi-automatic rifle that possessed two of the five. Flagged features included a flash suppressor, pistol grip, collapsible stock, bayonet mount, and a grenade launcher. As the list demonstrates, the features were primarily cosmetic and did nothing to increase firepower.

As The Federalist’s Sean Davis explained in 2016:

The 1994 assault weapons law banned semi-automatic rifles only if they had any two of the following five features in addition to a detachable magazine: a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.

That’s it. Not one of those cosmetic features has anything whatsoever to do with how or what a gun fires. Note that under the 1994 law, the mere existence of a bayonet lug, not even the bayonet itself, somehow turned a garden-variety rifle into a bloodthirsty killing machine. Guns with fixed stocks? Very safe. But guns where a stock has more than one position? Obviously they’re murder factories. A rifle with both a bayonet lug and a collapsible stock? Perish the thought.

A collapsible stock does not make a rifle more deadly. Nor does a pistol grip. Nor does a bayonet mount. Nor does a flash suppressor.

The New York Times admitted in 2014 that Democrats manufactured the term “assault weapons” in order to ban a “politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with ‘military-style’ features’” and added that those weapons “only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.”

This content was originally published here.

The trouble with the GOP’s focus on mental health and guns

In recent years, in the immediate aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, Republicans tend to talk about new policies related to mental health. In response to the latest slayings, we’re hearing many of the same familiar refrains.

Here, for example, was Donald Trump’s unscripted comments to reporters yesterday afternoon:

“[T]his is also a mental illness problem. If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness. These are people – really, people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”

And here’s how the president followed up on the point this morning, reading scripted comments:

“[W]e must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but, when necessary, involuntary confinement.”

There are all kinds of relevant angles to comments like these, which seemed to refer to general policy preferences, not specific legislation. For example, the idea of imposing “involuntary confinement” on the mentally ill is the sort of approach that easily could be abused and applied too broadly. Policymakers would have to deal with the challenges with great caution and care.

But hanging overhead is a problem that’s tough for GOP officials to explain away: the last time they tackled a policy related to guns and mental health.

As regular readers may recall, one of the very first measures tackled by the Republican-led Congress in 2017 was, of all things, a gun bill.

When an American suffers from a severe mental illness, to the point that he or she receives disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, there are a variety of limits created to help protect that person and his or her interests. These folks cannot, for example, go to a bank to cash a check on their own.

As recently as 2016, they couldn’t buy a gun, either. The Social Security Administration would report the names of those who receive disability benefits due to severe mental illness to the FBI’s background-check system.

At least, that was the policy. Less than a month into the Trump era, Republicans passed a measure to block the Social Security Administration’s reporting policy, keeping the names out of the FBI system, and making it easier for the mentally impaired to buy firearms.

To be sure, the old system had flaws and was the subject of some legitimate criticism. It’s very difficult, for example, for someone to have their names removed from the background-check system once they’re on it.

But the GOP measure made no real effort at reform. It was more of a blunt object than a scalpel.

And two years later, it’s a political headache, too. The Republicans talking today about the mentally impaired having access to guns are the same Republicans who voted to expand gun access for the mentally impaired.

This content was originally published here.

Guns and public health: Applying preventive medicine to a national epidemic – CBS News

It happened again … twice in less than twenty-four hours. Are any of us surprised? And can anybody help?

When a panel of seven doctors was asked how many had seen a gunshot victim within the past week, three hands went up. “I think people think that if their loved one gets to the hospital, that there’s magic there. But sometimes it’s just too much for us,” said Dr. Stephanie Bonne.

If there was ever a time for preventive medicine, it’s now, says a group of doctors. 

“A grandfather was shot yesterday,” said Dr. Roger Mitchell. “A son was shot yesterday. Yesterday – a mother was shot yesterday. And then the day before that, there were five other people that were shot that were connected to Americans in this country.”

They’ve had enough, and seen enough.

“The only thing worse than a death is a death that can be prevented,” said Dr. Ronnie Stewart. “And to go and talk to the mom of a child who was normal at breakfast and now is not here, is the worst possible thing. And honestly, it drives us to address this problem.”

Drs. Stewart, Boone and Mitchell, along with Drs. Albert Osbahr, Niva Lubin Johnson, Chris Barsotti and Megan Ranney were in Chicago this past winter as more than 40 medical organizations, who normally operate separately, joined forces to address the 40,000 firearm-related deaths that occur each year.

Nothing like this has ever happened, they said. “And we recognize that this is an epidemic that we can address,” said Dr. Barsotti.

Their meeting followed a tweet from the National Rifle Association last November that helped fuel a movement: “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7

— NRA (@NRA)

In response, Dr. Bonne, a trauma surgeon in Newark, N.J., snapped a picture pof the waiting room and posted it to Twitter along with this message: “Hey, N.R.A., do you wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair that I sit in when I tell parents that their kids are dead.”

Hey @NRA ! Wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair I sit in when I tell parents their kids are dead. How dare you tell me I can’t research evidence based solutions. #ThisISMyLane #ThisIsOurLane #thequietroom pic.twitter.com/y7tBAuje8O

— Stephanie Bonne (@scrubbedin)

“And you hit send. And then what happens?” asked medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.

“I was part of a chorus,” Dr. Bonne replied.

A chorus of thousands of medical professionals who responded #ThisIsOurLane.

“Our motto is do no harm, for physicians. But I think the community felt that harm was being done to us by that tweet,” said Dr. Lubin-Johnson.

Dr. Ranney said, “I remember sitting there and thinking, how can you lecture docs, many of whom are gun owners, about what we do and don’t know?”

Dr. Ranney is chief research officer for Affirm, an organization trying to address gun violence through the same tools doctors use to combat problems like obesity, the opioid crisis, and heart disease.

This public health approach is not new: in the 1950s, doctors worked with the auto industry to help make cars and roads safer. In the ’60 and ’70s, they spoke out against the dangers of tobacco; and in the ’80s and ’90s, to combat HIV and AIDS, they promoted safe sex and research.

Today, the focus is gun violence in all its forms. It may surprise you to know that mass shootings make up less than 1% of firearm-related deaths. The leading cause is suicide, followed by homicide, and then accidents.

But good answers on how best to prevent these deaths are hard to come by. That’s because of 1996 legislation defunding any research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promoting gun control.

Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), who appended an amendment to a spending bill disallowing government funds from beings used to, in whole or in part, advocate or promote gun control, told the House, “This is an issue of federally-funded political advocacy … a[n] attempt by the CDC to bring about gun control advocacy all over the United States.” $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget was re-allocated, and it had a chilling effect on almost all firearm research. 

“What was lost was 20-some years of effort to understand and prevent a huge health problem,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, whose work on handgun violence lost government funding after Congress passed that 1996 legislation. “Consciously, deliberately, repeatedly, over and over, we turned our back on this problem. It’s as if we, as a country, had said, ‘Let’s not study motor vehicle injuries. Let’s not study heart disease or cancer or HIV/AIDS.’

“And the result, I believe, is that tens of thousands of people are dead today whose lives could have been saved if that research had been done.”

In 2018, Congress said government dollars could be used to research gun violence, just not to promote gun control. But Dr. Wintemute says federal research into gun violence is still underfunded.

While private donations for research are now increasing, Dr. Wintemute has over the years spent more than $2 million of his own money to continue his research at the University of California-Davis.

Dr. LaPook asked, “Are you a wealthy man who can afford to just do that, as a rounding error?”

“It’s not rounding error,” he laughed. “But I live a very simple life. I earn an academic sector, ER doc’s salary.”

“So, you are changing your lifestyle in order to fund this research or have in the past?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“What drives you to do that?”

“People are dying,” Dr. Wintemute replied. “Given the capacity to do it, how can I not? It really is just that simple.”

His work has led to some surprising conclusions. For example, his studies revealed that in some states comprehensive background checks as implemented had no effect on the number of firearm-related deaths. That’s in part because of a lack of communication among agencies.

“We have learned that probably hundreds of thousands of prohibiting events every year do not become part of the data that the background checks are run on,” Dr. Wintemute said.

Consider the 2017 shooting of 46 parishioners at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Due to a domestic violence conviction, the shooter should had been stopped from buying any guns, but that information was never shared with the FBUI, which oversees the background check system.

“So you think, okay, it’s not as effective as we want, but it can become effective if we do A, B, and C?” Dr. LaPook said.

“There’s no question about it,” Dr. Wintemute replied.

But it’s policy proposals from doctors on issues like background checks and registrations that concern gun-rights advocates.

Dr. LaPook said, “The point the N.R.A. was trying to make with its [“stay in your lane”] tweet was, what makes doctors experts on gun policy?”

“Doctors are not experts on gun policy unless they do their homework,” said Dr. Wintemute. “What doctors are experts on is the consequences of violence. If doctors choose to be, they can become experts on policy.”

When asked if advocating for gun control part of the mission of Affirm, Dr. Megan Ranney said no. “This is about stopping shooters before they shoot,” she said.

The NRA did not respond to “Sunday Morning”‘s repeated requests for an on-camera interview. However, in a phone conversation earlier this year, two representatives said the organization does support research into gun-related violence, but expressed concern that – say what they will – the ultimate goal of many who advocate such research is to take away the guns of responsible citizens.

Dr. Ronnie Stewart said, “We’re not well-served by this overly-simplistic view of simply two sides fighting each other. We have to work together. And that includes engaging firearm owners as a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.”

For these doctors, the issue isn’t about whose lane it is; it’s about what they can do.

As Dr. Stephanie Boone said, “I know that the house of medicine can fix this.”

And, Dr. Albert Osbahr added, “Enough is enough.”

       
For more info:

       
Story produced by Dustin Stephens.

This content was originally published here.

World Health Organization declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency | Science | AAAS

An Ebola victim was laid to rest Sunday in Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

World Health Organization declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which surfaced in August 2018, is an international emergency. The declaration raises the outbreak’s visibility and public health officials hope it will galvanize the international community to fight the spread of the frequently fatal disease.

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our effort,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “We all owe it to [current] responders … to shoulder more of the burden.”

As of today, Ebola has infected more than 2500 people in the DRC during the new outbreak, killing more than 1650. By calling the current situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, has placed it in a rare category that includes the 2009 flu pandemic, the Zika epidemic of 2016 and the 2-year Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa before it ended in 2016.

The declaration does not legally compel member states to do anything. “But it sounds a global alert,” says Lawrence Gostin, a global health lawyer at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During the West African epidemic, for instance, the U.S. Congress supplied $5.4 billion in the months after WHO’s emergency declaration.

Even as they declared the emergency, WHO officials attempted to tamp down reactions they said could harm both the DRC’s economy and efforts to stop the outbreak. “This is still a regional emergency and [in] no way a global threat,” said Robert Steffen, the chair of the emergency committee that recommended the PHEIC designation and an epidemiologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, during a press teleconference today. He added in a written statement: “It is … crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region.”

The DRC’s minister of health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, issued a statement accepting the declaration but expressing concern about its motives and the potential impact on his country. “The Ministry hopes that this decision is not the result of the many pressures from different stakeholder groups who wanted to use this statement as an opportunity to raise funds for humanitarian actors,” Kalenga wrote. He said such funds could come “despite potentially harmful and unpredictable consequences for the affected communities that depend greatly on cross-border trade for their survival.”

Steffen’s committee previously declined three times, most recently last month, to recommend that WHO declare the outbreak an international emergency. What changed, he said today, was the 14 July diagnosis of a case of Ebola in the large, internationally connected city of Goma, from which 15,000 people cross the border into Rwanda each day; the murders last weekend of two health workers in the city that is currently the Ebola epicenter of the DRC; a recurrence of intense transmission in that same city, Beni, meaning the disease now has a geographical reach of 500 kilometers; and the failure, after 11 months, to contain the outbreak.

Funding is also at issue. In June, WHO announced its funding to fight the outbreak fell $54 million short; today, accepting the emergency committee’s recommendation, Tedros said the funds needed to stop the virus “will run to the hundreds of millions. Unless the international community steps up and funds the response now, we will be paying for this outbreak for a long time to come.” (A written report from today’s meeting added: “The global community has not contributed sustainable and adequate technical assistance, human or financial resources for outbreak response.”)

When the first known Ebola case in Goma was diagnosed this week, concern spiked about international spread. In addition to being a metropolis of nearly 2 million people where Ebola may spread quickly and be difficult to trace, Goma has an international airport. Separately today, the government of Uganda, in conjunction with WHO, issued a statement describing the case of a fish trader who died of Ebola on 15 July; she had traveled from the DRC to Uganda on 11 July before returning to the DRC.

“Although there is no evidence yet of local transmission in either Goma or Uganda, these two events represent a concerning geographical expansion of the virus,” Tedros said. The risk of spread in DRC, [and] in the region, remains very high. And the risk of spread outside the region remains low.”

Last month, the outbreak’s first known Ebola fatalities outside the DRC were reported in a 5-year-old boy and his grandmother. The two had traveled from the DRC to Uganda after attending the funeral of a relative who died from Ebola.

Health officials are also worried about the safety of those battling the outbreak. Since January, WHO has recorded 198 attacks on health facilities and health workers in the DRC, killing seven, including two workers who were murdered during the night of 13-14 July in their home in Beni. The two northeastern DRC provinces that have experienced the outbreak are also plagued by poor infrastructure, political violence, and deep community distrust of health authorities.

Josie Golding, epidemics lead at the Wellcome Trust in London applauded the declaration of the public health emergency. “There is a grave risk of a major increase in numbers or spread to new locations. … This is perhaps the most complicated epidemic the world has ever had to face, yet still the response in the DRC remains overstretched and underfunded.”

Gostin called the declaration “long overdue. Until now the world has turned a blind eye to this epidemic. WHO has been soldiering on alone, bravely alone. And it’s beyond WHO’s capacity to deal with all of this violence and community distrust.”

PHEICs are governed by the International Health Regulations, a global agreement negotiated in the wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak. The regulations, in force since 2007, stipulate that a PHEIC should be declared when an “extraordinary” situation “constitute[s] a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “potentially require[s] a coordinated international response.”

WHO officials also today addressed the thorny conflict over whether a second, experimental Ebola vaccine, in addition to a Merck vaccine that has already been given to 161,000 people in the DRC, should be deployed there now. Officials worry that Merck’s stockpile—although it is being stretched by reducing the dose of the vaccine being given to each recipient—will be depleted before the outbreak ends. But on 11 July, Kalenga gave a firm “no,” rejecting the use of any new experimental vaccine in the country because of unproven effectiveness and the potential for public confusion. (A Johnson and Johnson [J&J] vaccine that has been shown to be safe in healthy volunteers is waiting in the wings and its use has been advocated for by several infectious disease experts.)

But today, Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said the organization still supports introducing the J&J vaccine if it can win “appropriate national approval.” “The Ministry has expressed concern about introducing a second vaccine … mainly around the issue of confusion in the local population. We are working through those issues about where and when the vaccine could be used,” Ryan said.

David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and formerly WHO’s assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, said today’s emergency declaration may have set a precedent. “The Emergency Committee appears to have interpreted the need for funding as one of the reasons a PHEIC was called—this has not been done in the past.”

This content was originally published here.

Smartphones, Tablets Cause Mental Health Issues in Kids as Young as Two

Our smartphones—we’d feel lost without them. They serve many purposes; sometimes they are a quick way to distract fussy or “bored” children and keep them occupied. There’s a growing amount of evidence, however, that the use of electronic devices can be harmful to children.

A recently published population-based study of over forty-four thousand participants looked at the effects of screen time on children aged two to seventeen years and is the newest to point to a very disturbing issue: 

“After 1 h/day of use, more hours of daily screen time were associated with lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and inability to finish tasks.” (1)

Screen time included television, smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices. On a scale of low use of one hour a day, moderate use at four hours a day, and high use at seven or more hours a day, the incidence of depression, anxiety, and mental illness was twice the rate for high users than low users. Even moderate users were found to experience lesser psychological well-being than low or no users of personal electronic devices. The observations in the study were consistent regardless of race, sex, and socioeconomic status.

This is particularly disturbing when you take into account that pre-teens spend an average of six hours a day in front of a screen and most teenagers average more than nine hours—and that’s apart from using computers for school work. (2)

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Poor Physical Health

The relationship between children’s screen time and poor physical health has been definitively established.

A great body of research has linked children’s excessive screen exposure to poor diet, childhood obesity, diabetes, poor sleep, and lowered general physical fitness. (3, 4, 5, 6) As we know, it’s impossible to separate physical from mental health. When someone spends an inordinate amount of time looking at a screen, necessary daily motor movement is reduced significantly. A comprehensive Canadian study found detrimental effects across the health board for children who engage in more than two hours of screen time on a daily basis and recommends no more time than that, in favor of physical activities. Children are not meant to be sedentary. (7)

Mental Health and Cognitive Development

Other research has found a relationship between impaired brain development in young children and exposure to electronic devices. The younger the child, the greater the relative rate of development; “the critical period” between birth and age three is when the neural network is most rapidly forming and laying the foundation for the rest of life. Children’s experience and environment during this time is extremely influential in how the brain grows. (8)

Higher amounts of screen time for young children has been directly associated with poor brain development and behavioral problems. (9, 10) In fact, more than two hours a day of screen time in pre-school children can delay mastery of language and cause underdeveloped memory, poor reading and math skills, and sometimes trouble distinguishing virtual from physical reality. (11)

Giving Your Child a Smartphone is Like Giving them Drugs

Giving your child a smartphone is like “giving them a gram of cocaine,” warns Mandy Saligari, a top addiction therapist working in the United Kingdom. (12)

Long periods of time spent messaging on Instagram, Snapchat or any other social app can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. Some studies have shown that “coming off” smartphones can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Screen Time and Adolescents

Pre-teenagers and teens are no less at risk for harm caused by too much screen time. As children get older, their use of electronics changes from entertainment and education to social interaction—often replacing face-to-face human contact. With increased use, many adolescents become addicted to their devices, as the brain releases dopamine (the pleasure hormone) with certain visual stimuli and engagement. (13) Ninety-one percent of teens access social media on at least an occasional basis, with more than half more than once a day. (14)

This excessive use of electronic devices can cause a hormone imbalance and affect neurotransmitters in the brain. This imbalance can affect behavioral and emotional responses; addicted adolescents can experience anxiety, depression, impulsivity, and insomnia. (15) “Facebook Depression” is a real condition characterized by mental health and self-esteem issues.

From an article published by the American Psychological Association:

“[Among students in grades 8, 10, and 12] psychological well-being (measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness) suddenly decreased after 2012. Adolescents who spent more time on electronic communication and screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on nonscreen activities (e.g., in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) had lower psychological well-being. Adolescents spending a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest.” (16)

Further, adolescents who spend a lot of time on their smartphones can develop “text neck”: a repetitive strain injury caused by hunching over a handheld device. Muscle pain in the neck, shoulders, and back can result from the commonly-assumed head-forward posture. The Cleveland Clinic reports that an increasing number of teens and pre-teens are being treated for pain associated with this condition. If left unaddressed, “text neck” can create other musculoskeletal problems, including respiratory, heart, and circulatory issues. (17

Additionally, physical manifestations of cell phone dependence or addiction can include the development of vision, hearing, and tactile problems. Common behaviors associated with other types of addiction (including substance abuse and gambling) have been linked to teens’ screen addiction as well. (18)

Screen Time Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following daily maximum screen time limits for children:

Digital media has its place in children’s lives, as long as it doesn’t replace real-life experience or interactive learning and personal relationships. The consequences of overuse can influence children’s physical and mental health in the short and long terms. 

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Child detention is a mental health crisis

The children who have been detained in overcrowded, squalid migrant camps at the border aren’t just facing poor living conditions. They are also facing higher risks of serious mental health problems, some of which could be irreparable.

The big picture: Children are fleeing life-or-death situations in their home countries, and instead of healing their psychological and emotional trauma, federal officials are exacerbating the damage through means that the medical community views as flagrant violations of medical ethics.


The literature is clear: People who seek asylum and are detained in immigration camps, especially children, suffer “severe mental health consequences.” Those include detachment, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which put them at higher risk for committing suicide.

What they’re saying: Medical professionals remain appalled at what they’ve seen and are raising alarms the U.S. immigration system is still needlessly hurting the already vulnerable mental health of these kids.

  • Marsha Griffin, a pediatrician in Texas, visited the Ursula detention center in late June with colleagues from the American Academy of Pediatrics. She recalled a young boy in a cage crying because his father had been taken to court and he had lost his aunt’s phone number. Another child relinquished his space blanket, saying it led to nightmares. “This is child abuse and medical neglect,” Griffin said.

Between the lines: Parents and other adult caregivers are usually the only source of stability for children. Every expert interviewed said separating them in any capacity is psychologically damaging and morally intolerable.

  • “The children who are separated — I’m speechless,” said Rachel Ritvo, a child psychiatrist who has practiced at Children’s National Medical Center. “That was what was done in slavery. That’s what was done in the Holocaust.”

The bottom line: “Most kids will have lasting scars from what they have seen or are enduring right now,” said Wes Boyd, a psychiatrist and bioethicist at Harvard Medical School who has evaluated more than 100 asylum seekers in the past decade. “They’re going to need as much medical help as they do legal help.”

Go deeper: Growing up, and parenting, as a refugee

This content was originally published here.

A Black Immigrant Woman Is Now the Most Powerful Health Official in California

It was an early summer morning at the San Ysidro Health Center, situated on the Mexican border. A flu outbreak gripped a nearby ICE detention center, where a larger humanitarian crisis continued to unfold, threatening the future of hundreds of children.

In a small conference room, brimming with 20 or so of the San Diego area’s most diverse academic and activist minds, Nadine Burke-Harris sat at the head of the table. The 43-year-old pediatrician from San Francisco was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to become California’s first-ever state surgeon general in February. The role is part policymaker, part spokesperson, and full-time advocate for the state’s public health. All of which were needed to protect children at the border, as Burke-Harris later opined in the Washington Post.

In a country where Black people, immigrants, and women all report being unseen by medicine—in research, in practice, and in policy—Burke-Harris is all three. And she is poised to become one of the most powerful women in U.S. state-level government. Ever.

With that new leverage, Burke-Harris has heaved her political and medical capital not toward the expected battle cries—curing cancer, ending HIV infection, or undoing the opioid crisis—but on an affliction which most people don’t even know they experience: toxic stress. “I am not a surgeon general who is going to just tell people to eat right and exercise,” she said.

To Burke-Harris, toxic stress is not about enduring a long line at Starbucks, being ghosted, gentrification, or negativity. It cannot be cured by a warm bath, a juice cleanse, exercise, or meditation. It’s what she calls “higher allostatic load”: the ongoing wear and tear from structural instability, and it bears heavily on people of color, women, queer people, homeless people, poor people, and anyone whose existence is systematically marginalized. This is called John Henryism or weathering, and is worse than a cradle-to-grave crisis: It’s womb-to-grave.

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Burke-Harris, pictured left, visiting with community members. Image: Office of the Governor

Black women in the U.S. have double to triple the likelihood of giving birth to a premature child as their white counterparts, quadruple the risk of dying in childbirth, and double the risk of their infant dying within the first year after birth. Meanwhile, a 2018 research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association flagged the suicide risk of black boys aged 5 to 11 as triple that of white boys. Working-class men of color who escape the school-to-prison for-profit pipeline must try 16 times harder to get a therapy appointment than a middle-class white woman. A 2016 Journal of Health and Social Behavior study found that 30 percent of therapists responded to calls for help from middle-class white people, 21 percent to middle-class black women, and 13 percent to middle-class black men.

And on top of it all, a culture of intolerance makes the toxic stress even worse, what with BBQ Beckys, the outcries over a black Little Mermaid, the stigmatization of black athletes and their strength, and the everyday silencing of black pain. And the racial divide is widening.

It’s a good thing, then, that Burke-Harris has been readying herself for a role like this for her whole adult life. Burke-Harris was born in Canada to Jamaican parents; her father brought the family to Palo Alto when he got a Fulbright to teach biochemistry at Stanford. But she knows what it feels like to never feel quite settled in a country. She watched her mother nurse a brother’s 105-degree fever rather than go to the hospital, fearing it might endanger their immigration status. Nonetheless, she climbed quickly: undergrad at Berkeley, medical school at UC Davis, a public health degree at Harvard, and a residency at Stanford, where she was the only black person in her class. In medical school, someone assuming she was a janitor barked that she should “get a mop and mop up that mess.” She declined.

When asked if it’s stressful—as a public official, as a woman, as a minority, as an immigrant—to shoulder California’s hopes, she resists. “Why would I choose that when I can choose joy?” she said.

But Burke-Harris isn’t an advocate in the way one might presume. At the luncheon in San Diego, her telling of a story about an asthmatic 10-year-old girl took a sharp turn from anecdote to diagnosis, casually racing through medical specifications. She paused. “I’m new to public office,” she said unapologetically. “I’m a doctor.” The room erupted in laughter—Burke-Harris’s as well.

She debuted in the national consciousness as many these days do, via a viral video. In her TED talk—watched 2.3 million times since it posted in 2015—she discussed a kind of man-made pathogen tied to 7 out of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. “Folks who are exposed in very high doses have triple the risk of heart disease and lung cancer,” she said, “and a 20-year difference in life expectancy.” The talk was about childhood trauma and toxic stress, which she later outlined in more detail in her book, The Deepest Well. The clinic she ran in one of the worst neighborhoods in San Francisco has been envied nationally and mimicked—badly—in New York.

But for all her scientific rigor, she is full of surprises. “Did you see Night School?” she asked me in the car, racing between back-to-back meetings. “There’s a scene in there where Tiffany Haddish asks Kevin Hart ‘What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I’m probably the only person who cheered the medical accuracy there.”

Her friends say it’s not by chance that she reached this level. “Even back then, it was clear that she was guided by a fierce desire to help those who could not help themselves,” said Vivek Murthy, who, at 37, became the nation’s youngest-ever U.S. Surgeon General in 2014. Murthy and Harris-Burke are fellow alumni in the Soros Fellow program and share a dorky coffee mug with their faces on it. And they are aligned on their approach to health. “For most people and policymakers, prevention is less tangible than treatment,” Murthy said. “It’s much easier to picture treating someone with a heart attack than it is to imagine altering the complex threads that determine whether a future heart attack occurs.”

Kimberlydawn Wisdom is Michigan’s state surgeon general, the first state SG in the country, and a close friend. She said Burke-Harris’ appointment is a dream outcome. “California has the power to change the game as no other state,” Wisdom said. “Suddenly I can picture, in my own lifetime, every state and territory having their own surgeon general. It’s just too bad there’s only one Nadine. She’s proof that we’re evolving as a society to include not just diversity but also different perspectives, the true strength of real diversity.”

In her TED talk—watched 2.3 million times—she discussed a kind of man-made pathogen tied to 7 out of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S.

California’s reputation as a game-changer is well-earned. In 1990, San Luis Obispo, nestled in the central part of the state, became the first city in the world to ban all indoor smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants; California was the first state to ban smoking in the workplace in 1995 and, in June, Beverly Hills became the first U.S. city to ban tobacco sales.

California similarly has been a leader in requiring LGBTQ history in schools and banning gay conversion therapy, pushing for over-the-counter access to PrEP for HIV, legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, and pioneering needle exchanges. Pregnant Californians are entitled to four months of paid leave and new parents get three months (unpaid) to bond with their newborn, compared to the federal law, which doesn’t protect any amount of time. This year, California also passed a law much more revealing of baked-in bigotry: it became the first state to ban race-based hair discrimination.

Back in San Ysidro, Burke-Harris toured a maternal health building, complimenting breastfeeding posters (some in Tagalog), praising a cooking program that teaches recipes based on local grocery coupons, and asking lab technicians what software they’re using. But it was later, meeting with other pediatric activists, that the impact of her training became clear. “Working with children, we’re working with families and working with generations,” she said.”There’s a built-in comprehensiveness.” It makes for one hell of a training ground for public policy.

But before launching any new programs, Burke-Harris wants more data, so she helped pass a law requiring all recipients of Medicaid in California to have their Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) scores evaluated and reported. This provides a metric through which to measure toxic stress.The program is $45 million to implement and $60 million to follow through over three years.

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Burke-Harris visiting with community members. Image: Office of the Governor

That’s music to Bruce Baldwin’s ears. Baldwin, a 63-year-old tobacco prevention treatment coordinator in California’s rural north, always thought early experimentation with alcohol and stronger drugs—beginning at 12—derailed his life. People would tell him to “be a man, tough it out.” But then he got sober, and his problems remained. It was only with more awareness that he realized his ACE score—the impact of an impoverished childhood without a mother—played a part too. “ACE scores go back further than you can even remember. Your body remembers, though.” He’s hoping Burke-Harris’ impact will help more people like him. “She changed my life with a YouTube video,” he said of her TED talk. “Imagine what she’ll be able to do with real power.”

As both of us packed our things into TSA trays at San Diego’s airport, I asked Burke-Harris to name something she wanted to be common knowledge a generation from now. “Heart attacks start in childhood,” she said without hesitation. “That’s why this is so important. It is the root of the root of pretty much every root. It’s where, how, and why everything begins.”

I asked her about her frequent analogy that toxic stress will be for the 21st century what infectious diseases were to the 20th century. Does that mean her goal is to be the Jonas Salk of our time?

“Yes,” she said with searing determination, her eyes aglow with the superpower of being seen. “That’s exactly what I want to do.”

This content was originally published here.

Study: Psychiatric Diagnoses Are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ In Treating Mental Health – Study Finds

LIVERPOOL, England — No two people are exactly alike. Therefore, attempting to classify each unique individual’s mental health issues into neat categories just doesn’t work. That’s the claim coming out of the United Kingdom that is sure to ruffle some psychologists’ feathers.

More people are being diagnosed with mental illnesses than ever before. Multiple factors can be attributed to this rise; many people blame the popularity of social media and increased screen time, but it is also worth considering that in today’s day and age more people may be willing to admit they are having mental health issues in the first place. Whatever the reason, it is generally believed that a psychiatric diagnosis is the first step to recovery.

That’s why a new study conducted at the University of Liverpool has raised eyebrows by concluding that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless,” and worthless as tools to accurately identify and address mental distress at an individual level.

Researchers performed a detailed analysis on five of the most important chapters in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Heath Disorders (DSM). The DSM is considered the definitive guide for mental health professionals, and provides descriptions for all mental health problems and their symptoms. The five chapters analyzed were: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and trauma-related disorders.

Researchers came to a number of troubling conclusions. First, the study’s authors assert that there is a significant amount of overlap in symptoms between disorder diagnoses, despite the fact that each diagnosis utilizes different decision rules. Additionally, these diagnoses completely ignore the role of trauma or other unique adverse events a person may encounter in their life.

Perhaps most concerning of all, researchers say that these diagnoses tell us little to nothing about the individual patient and what type of treatments they will need. The authors ultimately conclude that this  diagnostic labeling approach is “a disingenuous categorical system.”

“Although diagnostic labels create the illusion of an explanation they are scientifically meaningless and can create stigma and prejudice. I hope these findings will encourage mental health professionals to think beyond diagnoses and consider other explanations of mental distress, such as trauma and other adverse life experiences.” Lead researcher Dr. Kate Allsopp explains in a release.

According to the study’s authors, the traditional diagnostic system being used today wrongly assumes that any and all mental distress is caused by a disorder, and relies far too heavily on subjective ideas about what is considered “normal.”

“Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.” Professor John Read comments.

The study is published in the scientific journal Psychiatry Research.

This content was originally published here.

How Democrats’ ‘Medicare For All’ Will End Your Health Choices Forever

Half of the Democratic presidential contenders taking this week’s debate stage support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ambitious government takeover of health care, a plan dubbed “Medicare for All.” Current polls show that as many as 70 percent of Americans are willing to jump on the Medicare for All bandwagon, so they’re just giving the people what they want.

But polls also show that Americans who are more likely to support the proposal are also less likely to understand it. When the nation faces the prospect of a total health care overhaul, that’s a frightening thought.

Many developed nations are struggling with government-managed health care, but Sanders’ proposal goes further toward a reckless single-payer system than anything ever tried around the world. The astronomical $33 trillion price tag alone, which Bernie has no concrete plan to fund, will be paid for by generations of Americans. Costs aside, the rosy benefits under Bernie’s proposal, in which the government supposedly covers everything from surgery to dental care, would prove costly in more ways than one.

While many developed nations are currently struggling with their single-payer systems, no one has ever attempted a program as far-reaching as Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, which seeks to abolish all private insurance and replace it with a government-managed system that completely pays for all procedures. According to its proponents, including leading presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, organizing all insurance under the government would reduce administrative costs. But in reality, we’d simply be throwing gasoline on a fire.

For one thing, the U.S. government doesn’t have a stellar record of efficiency or quality in health-care management. Just look at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ utter neglect of veteran’s healthcare. Even if Sanders could miraculously fix government mismanagement, his idea of eliminating all cost-sharing between the insurer and the health-care consumer has been proven to worsen costs.

Already, the majority of our health-care spending goes toward only 5 percent of the population, most of whom suffer from preventable chronic illnesses. When President Obama eliminated surcharges for pre-existing conditions, people lost their financial reward for living healthily. Unsurprisingly, life expectancies have fallen in the past years (due to preventable conditions), and health-care costs have grown. Today, over half of health-care is spent on 5 percent of the population, largely on preventable chronic conditions.

Bernie and co. are now proposing to take this failed idea to an extreme: eliminating all personal responsibility for health care. Under his plan, consumers could get a medical procedure done, or new glasses, orthotics, or teeth cleanings, all for free, whether or not the procedures are medically necessary.

An extensive economic study by the RAND Corporation proved just as much: without cost-sharing, consumers are likely to drive up the tab by getting more care than they need. In other words, Bernie’s plan would cost even more than $33 trillion. Although, at that point, what’s a few trillion dollars anyway—right?

The alternative Bernie could offer—rationing services—would be equally harmful. Many nations with single-payer have already been forced to ration their care due to the overwhelming burden of paying for everyone. In Canada, more than 1 million people are waiting for some type of procedure. In the United Kingdom, people are unable to receive a life-changing corrective surgery for their blindness.

To strike a balance between draconian rationing and prodigal spending, the United States has, for decades, successfully employed a freer system. When people have to pay for their choices, whether that’s the choice to have an elective operation or the choice to live unhealthily, everyone makes the choice right for them—without imposing the cost of their choice on anyone else. While 71 percent of Americans appreciate their current private insurance, under Bernie’s plan, they’d no longer have that choice.

Now that many top Democratic presidential hopefuls have rallied behind Bernie’s radical proposal, the American voter is left with their own choice: Do we want an expensive and deeply flawed overhaul of a life-saving sector, or should we continue to try and fix our free market system, which has produced the best specialty care in the world?

If the folks on this week’s debate stage get their way, this may be the last health-care decision you ever get to make.

This content was originally published here.

Dates and Your Health: the Ideal Food or a Sugary Nightmare? – One Green PlanetOne Green Planet

Dates have long been used as sweeteners and a quick snack, or meal even, for centuries. They are cholesterol-free and very low in fat. Plus they’re energy boosters, making them a suitable snack for the health-conscious. Also, they’re rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, A1 and C, proteins, dietary fiber, iron (11 percent), potassium (16 percent), calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. The soluble and insoluble fibers and amino acids present in dates can also help to improve the digestive system.

Despite these benefits, one cup of dates has around 29 mg of fructose and a high glycemic index, which can increase blood sugar levels significantly. So, why do many people who choose to eliminate excess sugars from their lifestyle still consume dates? Well, it seems that dates are naturally rich in nutrition despite being rich in fructose, so there’s a trade-off. Some even consider dates the most ideal food.

Here is a nutritional breakdown of ten dates:

Serving Size: 10 dates

As you can see, there are 61 grams of carbohydrates in a serving size and only 6 grams of fiber to counteract those carbs. Even though there is not that much fiber, still, all of the other ingredients, vitamins, and minerals make dates benefit the body immensely. How? Well, as aforementioned, the magnesium found in dates can reduce blood pressure, and they have anti-inflammatory benefits, reducing inflammation in the arterial walls and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-related health ailments.

Also, the B6 vitamin in dates has been shown by JAMA Internal Medicine to improve brain performance and better test scores. A summary of the health benefits of dates range from:

Ultimately, dates are good for overall health despite their fructose concentration. Even if your diet is a sugar-free one, devoid of high-fructose corn syrup, agave, honey, coconut sugar, and cane sugar, you probably still eat fruit, and dates are a fruit too, with loads of benefits. When picking out your dates, look for plump ones with unbroken, smoothly wrinkled skins, and avoid those that smell rancid or are hardened. Dried dates keep for up to a year in the refrigerator while fresh dates should be refrigerated in tight, sealed containers and can keep for up to eight months. 

Next time you need to sweeten a plant-based recipe, make your own energy bars, or mask the green flavor in your smoothies, look no further than the humble date. Their lovely flavor and beneficial qualities bring sweetness to any food. Sure, they aren’t sugar-free, but they won’t hurt your efforts to reduce your sugar. What you really want to do is reduce artificial and refined sugars from your diet, not the beautiful, natural sugars in whole dates.

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

For more Vegan Food, Health, Recipe, Animal, and Life content published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!

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Why having a sister is good for your mental health | I Heart Intelligence.com

Sure, she can often drive you crazy by using your stuff without asking permission, singing annoyingly, or taking the last piece of candy. At the same time, however, she is one of your closest, most trusted supporters, a true friend, a play buddy, and a great accomplice in pranks.

Of course, we could be listing such wonderful sister qualities endlessly.

But what many people don’t think about is the connection between having a sister and our mental health.

So, if you haven’t called your sister recently to tell her how much you love her, you are about to be given a good reason to do so. Sisters can improve our mental health, and this is how it all works.

А 2010 Brigham Young University Brigham Young University study discovered having a sibling encouraged children to be more kind and helpful. And apparently, if you have a sister, regardless of the age gap, it’s even better.

The research involved 395 families with two or more children, including at least one child between the ages 10 and 14. The adolescent child was filmed while giving answers to questions about a sibling closest in age. A year later, researchers followed up with the families.

“What we know suggests that sisters play a role in promoting positive mental health,” Alex Jensen, an assistant professor at the School of Family Life at BYU, told Motherly, “and later in life they often do more to keep families in contact with one another after the parents pass.”

In addition, the study discovered that having a sister can help you become a kinder and more giving person.

This is due to the fact that sisters promote positive social behaviors such as altruism and compassion when they show love and affection.

But that doesn’t mean that brothers don’t matter. The study found that loving siblings impact each other positively no matter their gender or age differences.

“Sibling affection from either gender was related to less delinquency and more pro-social behaviors like greater kindness and generosity, volunteering, and helping others,” the study’s lead author, BYU professor Laura Padilla-Walker, told ABC News. “Even if there is a little bit of fighting, as long as they have affection, the positive will win out. If siblings get in a fight, they have to regulate emotions. That’s an important skill to learn for later in life.”

Do you have a sibling? If so, how would you describe your relationship? Share your stories with us in the comment section below.

This content was originally published here.

10 Simple Asanas That Are Good Specifically for Women’s Health

The state of the back and the blood circulation in the pelvis is the basis of female health. Poor blood and lymph circulation can cause all sorts of different problems like gynecological diseases, belly pain, pain in the lower back, hemorrhoids, sexual disorders, and problems with the intestines. In yoga, there are exercises that first and foremost impact important female body functions and can prevent some health issues.

We at Bright Side have collected the basic asanas that help the body to recover and feel great. And the best time to do them is right in the middle of the day — if that’s not possible, you can do them any time that’s convenient for you.

1. Butterfly

How to do it. Sit straight, put your feet together, and spread the knees out to the sides, lowering them as close to the floor as you can. You can lean on the wall with your shoulder blades in order to control your posture. The lower back shouldn’t touch the wall. Stretch upward.

The time: 1-3 minutes.

The effect: Relieving tension from the belly and the inside of the hips, increasing the mobility of the hip joints, and stabilizing the menstrual cycle.

2. Twist

How to do it. Sit down on a plain surface, the back should be straight, and the legs should be crossed so the knees are on top of the feet. Put your left arm behind you and put your right arm on your left knee. When breathing in, stretch upward, and do a twist, hold it for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

The time: 2 minutes.

The effect: Relaxing the back, improving digestion, and decreasing the waist size.

3. Сandlestick at the wall

How to do it. While lying on your back, lift your legs, straighten them, and put them against the wall, you can spread them at shoulder width. Spread your hands to the sides. Relax, stretch your legs, and slowly breathe in, expanding your rib cage and melting your shoulder blades into the ground. Hold this position and try to breathe slowly and deep.

The time: 3–5 minutes.

The effect: Opening the chest, relaxing the shoulders and the belly, increasing the circulation of the lymphatic fluid, decreasing leg swelling, stimulation of the organs of the abdomen, and getting rid of tiredness and bad moods.

4. Hero pose

How to do it. Sit on your knees and then slowly release the legs and lower your buttocks between your heels, the feet should be on the sides of the hips. Press your palms together in prayer position in front of your body. Stretch your neck and your back and open your chest. Breathe deep.

The time: 1 minute.

The effect: Stretching the hip muscles and the muscles between your legs, relieving period pain, and improving the mobility of hip joints.

5. Opening

How to do it. Sit down with your back straight and spread your legs as wide as you can. When breathing in, lift your hands up. When breathing out, lean forward as much as you can, but don’t round your back, instead only lean in as much as you can while keeping your back straight.

The time: 1 minutes, 8–10 times.

The effect: Making the back stronger, getting rid of spasms in the groin, stimulating blood circulation in the pelvis, improving the function of the ovaries, regulating the menstrual cycle, and preventing cellulite.

6. Downward facing hero pose

How to do it. Sit on a mat, your pelvis should be on your heels, spread the knees to the sides — keeping the feet together, lean forward with your chest. Stretch your hands forward as far as you can, put your forehead to the floor, hold this position.

The time: 1 minute.

The effect: Relaxing the lower back and the neck and stimulating blood circulation in the small pelvis area.

7. Downward facing dog

How to do it. From a sitting position on your heels with your knees spread to the sides, put your hands as far forward as you can, stretching well. Lift your pelvis, and straighten your arms and legs. Move the weight of your body to the legs, trying to put the heels on the floor. Keep your legs and back straight, without bending them or rounding the back.

The time: 2 times, 30 seconds each.

The effect: Regeneration of brain cells, bringing color to the face, stretching the back of the hips, decreasing the signs of cellulite, stretching the back, and removing neck spasms.

8. Dancer’s pose

How to do it. From a standing position, lift your right leg behind you, bend it at the knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull it back and up. Drop your right leg and move it forward, repeat on the other leg.

The time: 30–40 seconds for each leg.

The effect: Improving posture, kidney function, and metabolism.

9. Shoulder bridge

How to do it. Lie on your back, bend your legs at the knees, put your feet shoulder-width apart, and put your arms along your body. Lift the pelvis and bend the back, without lifting the shoulders, neck, or head from the floor.

The time: 1 minute.

The effect: Eliminating back pain, making the abs stronger and preventing painful periods, decreasing the amount of waist fat, and improving digestion.

10. Relaxation

How to do it. Lie on your back, and if you need to, put a small pillow or comforter under your head. Bend your knees and pull your feet as close to the pelvis as possible. Spread the knees to the sides and put the feet together. Put your hands by your sides. Relax completely when breathing out.

The time: 3 minutes.

The effect: Relaxing the muscles, a positive influence on the mood, a slow stretching of the lower back and the inside of the hips, stimulating the blood circulation in the small pelvis, and improving the circulation of the lymphatic fluid.

These exercises are also great because you don’t need any special preparation before them. You can do them at home or outside. Do you know any other effective exercises you could share with other people?

Illustrated by Natalia Okuneva-Rarakina for BrightSide.me

This content was originally published here.

California health care: Some undocumented adults get coverage

California becomes first state to provide health care coverage to some undocumented adults


John Bacon


USA TODAY
Published 9:41 AM EDT Jul 10, 2019
In this May 9, 2019, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom gestures towards a chart with proposed funding to deal with the state’s homelessness as he discusses his revised state budget during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli, AP

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation making California the first state to provide health care coverage to young, undocumented adults, a $98 million measure targeting almost 100,000 people.

The immigrants, ages 19 to 25, are eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The law signed Tuesday was a win for Newsom, who rejected as too expensive a state Senate plan to include adults 65 and older living in the state illegally.

President Trump has called the plan “crazy.” Newsom shrugs off the criticism, calling California “the most un-Trump” state in the nation.

Newsom signed the measure the same day the state forecast an average premium increase of less than 1% for 2020 in the state’s individual insurance marketplace, the lowest such rate change in the state program’s history.

The coverage expansion and the low average premium hike are mostly being funded through restoration of the individual mandate that requires California residents to purchase health insurance for themselves and their dependants. Californians who fail to purchase insurance would face a state tax penalty.

The plan is similar to a part of President Barack Obama’s health care law that Republicans in Congress eliminated as part of the 2017 overhaul to the tax code.

Not that the state is desperate for cash: California is projected to have a surplus of more than $20 billion, the largest in 20 years.

“The bold moves by Gov. Newsom and the Legislature will save Californians hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums and provide new financial assistance to middle-income Californians, which will help people get covered and stay covered,” said Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director.

Lee said California is “building on the success of the Affordable Care Act” and expanding coverage to hundreds of thousands of people. The California Immigrant Policy Center lauded the inclusion of undocumented young adults but called the plan “bittersweet.”

“The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions'” said Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.

Newsom has pledged to further expand coverage in the future. The new rules are effective in January and are part of a larger effort to ensure everyone in the state has access to health insurance.

This content was originally published here.

Total Ban on Fracking Urged by Health Experts: 1,500 Studies Showed ‘Damning’ Evidence of Threats to Public Health, Climate

By Jake Johnson

A comprehensive analysis of nearly 1,500 scientific studies, government reports, and media stories on the consequences of released Wednesday found that the evidence overwhelmingly shows the drilling method poses a profound threat to public health and the climate.


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The sixth edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (the Compendium), published by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York, found that “90.3 percent of all original research studies published from 2016-2018 on the health impacts of fracking found a positive association with harm or potential harm.”

The analysis also found that:

  • 69 percent of original research studies on water quality found potential for, or actual evidence of, fracking-associated water contamination;
  • 84 percent of original research studies on human health risks found signs of harm or indication of potential harm.

“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends,” the Compendium states.

Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York, said in a statement that “the case against fracking becomes more damning” with the publication of each edition of the Compendium.

“As the science continues to come in, early inklings of harm have converged into a wide river of corroborating evidence,” said Steingraber. “All together, the data show that fracking impairs the health of people who live nearby, especially pregnant women, and swings a wrecking ball at the climate. We urgently call on political leaders to act on the knowledge we’ve compiled.”

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MUST READ: @PSRenvironment⁩ and Concerned Health Professionals of New York @ssteingraber1 have released the 6th edition of the #fracking science #Compendium! Compiling and analyzing ~1500 studies, this critical resource shows how #FrackingHarmsHealth! https://t.co/QW8ioIYKUU pic.twitter.com/jztVLQgBoI

— PSR Environment (@PSRenvironment) June 19, 2019

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According to the Compendium, the first edition of which was published in 2014, the “feverish pace” of U.S. fossil fuel extraction — which has accelerated under President Donald Trump — “has spurred a massive build-out of fracking infrastructure,” putting air quality and water sources at risk in communities across the United States.

In addition to the harmful effects of fracking on those who live near oil and gas development projects, the Compendium found, the drilling practice is “also at odds with the emerging scientific consensus on the scale and tempo of necessary climate change mitigation and with rising public alarm about the impending climate crisis that this consensus has amplified.”

“Despite efforts by the gas industry to suppress all health data on fracking, the Compendium documents the serious harm fracking holds for pregnant women, children, and those with respiratory disease,” Walter Tsou, MD, MPH, interim executive director of Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, said in a statement. “We need to ban fracking.”

The sixth edition of the Compendium comes just days after more than 100 environmental groups sent a letter urging Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to investigate the link between fracking and the emergence of rare childhood cancers in rural Pennsylvania counties.

As Steingraber — one of the letter’s signatories — told online environmental outlet The Daily Climate on Wednesday, much of the data in the Compendium comes from Pennsylvania, which is home to over 100,000 active oil and gas wells.

“What makes fracking different from any other industry I’ve studied in public health is that there’s no industrial zone,” Steingraber said. “It’s taking place literally in our backyards, and unfortunately some of the best evidence for both polluting emissions and emerging health crises is coming out of southwestern Pennsylvania.”

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Feds to Sell Even More Public Land for #Fracking Near Sacred Park https://t.co/AJPxc2OuWi @FrackAction @Frack_Off

— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) February 3, 2019

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

This content was originally published here.

California Officially Becomes First State To Provide Health Benefits to Some Illegal Immigrants

Thousands of illegal immigrants in California will be able to receive state-funded health insurance under a law signed Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The law, SB-104, extends health care benefits to everyone 19 to 25 years of age who is income eligible, regardless of their immigration status, CNN reported.

Officials have estimated about 90,000 people will be covered by the law, with a cost of about $98 million per year. Coverage will take effect in 2020. California will be restoring the individual mandate to have health insurance in order to collect revenue that can pay for the new law. The Obamacare mandate was removed nationally by the GOP-controlled Congress in 2017.

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California already covers health care for illegal immigrants under 19.

Although Newsom balked at a $3.4 billion-per-year proposal to expand health care coverage for illegal immigrants regardless of age, he has also said that he will increase coverage.

President Donald Trump has condemned the law.

California doesn’t “treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants,” he told reporters on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

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“At what point does it stop? It’s crazy what they are doing. And it’s mean. And it’s very unfair to our citizens, and we’re going to stop it. But we may need an election to stop it, and we may need to get back the House,” Trump said.

But Newsom said California is right where he wants it to be.

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“If you believe in universal health care, you believe in universal health care. We are the most un-Trump state in America when it comes to health policy,” Newsom said, according to NPR.

At least one Republican state legislator foretold troubles from the law.

“We are going to be a magnet that is going to further attract people to a state of California that’s willing to write a blank check to anyone that wants to come here,” state Sen. Jeff Stone said.

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“We are doing a disservice to citizens who legally call California their home.”

CNN earlier this month released the results of a national poll on giving illegal immigrants government-funded health care. The poll found that 59 percent of those surveyed were opposed to giving health care to illegal immigrants while 38 percent supported the concept.

Government-funded health care for illegal immigrants has become a central issue as Democrats seek to select their 2020 presidential nominees.

Linda J. Blumberg of the Urban Institute is one of the many critics of insurance for all and said it might create “strong incentives for people with serious health problems to enter the country or remain longer than their visas allow in order to get government-funded care,” The New York Times reported.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

This content was originally published here.

Medicare for All Means Real Choice: One Health Card, Good Anywhere You Go | Common Dreams Views

A new survey out this week is an important step forward to demolishing one of the principle talking points against Medicare for All.

No doubt, you’ve heard this one: “People love their insurance! Under Medicare for All, you’ll lose your private insurance and your doctor.” Uh, no.

A Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted after the first Democratic presidential primary debates found that when people hear the real story—that under Medicare for All you can keep your preferred doctors and hospitals, support climbs to a clear majority of 55 percent. Support among Democrats gets to 78 percent.

Even if you go to a provider that is “in your network,” you may still get hammered with a surprise medical bill by a physician, or other provider on call that night at the hospital, or lab or supplier the hospital generally uses who is “out of network.” That’s not choice, it’s robbery.

For independents it’s a big leap of 14 points, up to 56 percent support. That support eclipses the disinformation peddled by the health care industry, their lobbyists, their mouthpieces in Congress—and too many in the media—that if you lose your private insurance you will lose your preferred doctor or other provider.

The inconvenient truth for the lobbyists and their cheerleaders is that Medicare for All offers real choice, not the illusion of choice under the profit-focused insurance system. Medicare for All means one health card, good anywhere. You can go to any doctor, any hospital or clinic or other provider you prefer.

That, of course, is the opposite of how the present, market-based, insurance system works.

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Nearly all private insurance corporations restrict choice by forcing you into a narrow network, with a limited set of doctors and hospitals that are part of their network, usually dictated by a medical group that contracts with the insurer. Many insurance companies actually re-negotiate with the medical group every year, meaning you get handed a new network and can overnight lose that trusted doctor, the specialists you count on, and which hospitals are in your narrow network.

It gets worse. If you “choose” to go outside the network, to a provider you liked before, or one closer to home, the insurance company slams you with a huge additional charge, or you get rejected when you walk in the door.

Nurses see the damage every day. Our patients denied care, making painful choices of whether to get the care they need, or facing catastrophe with astronomical hospital bills.

Further, even if you go to a provider that is “in your network,” you may still get hammered with a surprise medical bill by a physician, or other provider on call that night at the hospital, or lab or supplier the hospital generally uses who is “out of network.” That’s not choice, it’s robbery, and generally you don’t know you were “out of network” until the bill comes. Check out why so many people are starting GoFundMe accounts to pay for medical bills when they thought they were “in network.”

Under Medicare for All, the two actual bills, H.R. 1384 in the House and S. 1129 in the Senate, narrow networks are gone. All networks are gone. So are all surprise medical bills. So are all out of network charges. So are all premiums, all deductibles, all co-pays for such basics as emergency care, doctor’s visits, mental health, dental, vision, long term care, and so much more.

Nurses see the damage every day. Our patients denied care, making painful choices of whether to get the care they need, or facing catastrophe with astronomical hospital bills.

Imagine that. Under Medicare for all, real choice, guaranteed care. No wonder the desperate lobbyists and all their gang are so desperate to hide the truth.

This content was originally published here.

California Health Benefits to Illegal Immigration: First State to Offer Full Coverage | National Review

California governor Gavin Newsom has finalized a deal with the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature to provide full health benefits to low-income illegal immigrants under the age of 26.

Newsom’s office released an outline of the state’s 2020 budget Sunday night that calls for $98 million in new annual spending to make some 90,000 previously uninsured illegal immigrants eligible for the state’s Medicaid program, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The new spending will be offset by a fine on uninsured Californians similar to the “individual mandate” imposed at the federal level under Obamacare and subsequently reversed by the Trump administration.

Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, celebrated the expansion of health benefits for younger illegal immigrants but lamented the exclusion of elderly illegal immigrants.

NR’s afternoon roundup of the day’s best commentary & must-read analysis.

NR’s afternoon roundup of the day’s best commentary & must-read analysis.

“For California’s immigrant communities, today’s budget deal is bittersweet,” Buiza said in a statement. “The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions. And the exclusion of many immigrants from the Earned Income Tax Credit will perpetuate the crisis of economic inequality in our state.”

The provision of health care to young illegal immigrants represents a compromise between Newsom and Democrats in the legislature who have long demanded that the budget include funds to provide benefits to all California residents regardless of immigration status.

The budget, which must still pass a final vote in the legislature in the coming weeks, includes a total $213 billion in annual spending, which California Democrats believe they are well-positioned to cover considering this year’s budget surplus.

“The budget agreement we’re finalizing tonight builds on the strong budget proposal of the governor, while adding significant legislative priorities,” said Democratic state senator Holly Mitchell, who leads the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. “The budget agreement maintains our agreement to responsible budgeting, which includes the largest reserves in history — over $20 billion — finally paying off the remaining wall of debt from the Great Recession and making supplemental pension payments.”

Roughly 40 percent of the nation’s illegal immigrants reside in California and that number is rising as record numbers of asylum-seekers continue to arrive at the San Ysidro border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego each day. In 2018, half of all births in California were paid for by the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, and 30 percent of those babies were born to mothers in the country illegally.


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This content was originally published here.

40 percent of Americans want to foot the bill for illegal aliens’ health care, poll finds

Most Americans don’t believe that their tax dollars should go to fund health care benefits for those who have entered the country illegally, but a surprisingly high minority does, according to a new CNN poll.

The CNN survey of 1,613 American adults — conducted June 28-30 by independent research company SSRS — found that while 58 percent of Americans are opposed to the idea of taxpayer-funded health insurance for illegal aliens, 38 percent of respondents were on board with the idea; 3 percent were undecided.

Unsurprisingly, two-thirds (66 percent) of Democrats surveyed said they supported taxpayer-backed health insurance for illegal immigrants, while only a scant 10 percent of self-described Republicans supported it. And 63 percent of independents said they opposed the idea, as opposed to the 34 percent in favor of it.

The poll also found similar enthusiasm levels between Republicans and Democrats on voting in next year’s presidential election. At least 75 percent of Democrats answered that they were “extremely/very enthusiastic” compared to 73 percent of Republicans.

The CNN/SSRS poll has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Not so long ago, a debate about whether or not to open up publicly funded health insurance benefits to illegal aliens would have sounded like the satire of past election cycles, but that’s just where things are right now in the 2020 Democratic primary.

At one of last week’s two Democratic debates, every single Democratic candidate raised their hands on stage in favor of giving health care to illegal aliens.

On the campaign trail, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., have both spoken in favor of public health care benefits for illegal immigrants.

At an event in June, Democratic candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said that he would “absolutely” include coverage for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in his trademark Medicare for All proposal.

Meanwhile, the state of California has gone out ahead of the 2020 Democratic field and has begun offering state medical benefits to illegal alien adults. President Donald Trump criticized the move Monday, telling reporters that California’s elected officials “don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants.

Estimates put the current cost of illegal immigration to the U.S. somewhere between $75 billion and $150 billion every year; however, those estimates don’t account for the record-breaking border numbers the U.S. has seen over the last few months or what will happen if the U.S. incentivizes even more illegal immigration with new health care entitlements.

This content was originally published here.

Sanford Health, top surgeon accused of defrauding, harming patients

Sanford Health, top surgeon defrauded millions from government, complaint alleges


Jonathan Ellis


Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Published 3:28 PM EDT Jun 28, 2019
The Sanford Medical Center stands on Friday, June 28, in Sioux Falls.
Erin Bormett / Argus Leader

Sanford Health and one of its most lucrative surgeons have been accused of defrauding the federal government out of millions of dollars while also harming patients in a stunning complaint filed in federal court.

The 111-page complaint, filed by two Sanford doctors in August 2016, was unsealed by a federal judge late Thursday. On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota filed a motion to intervene in the case, bringing the specter of government sanctions and even criminal charges.

The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Wilson Asfora, a neurosurgeon with Sanford, defrauded the federal government by performing unnecessary spine surgeries. The complaint also alleges that Asfora and Sanford had an elaborate scheme in which Sanford bought medical devices from a company owned by Asfora, and that Asfora then implanted the devices in patients, creating an incentive to perform unnecessary surgeries and a violation of federal law.

Dr. Wilson Asfora in 2009.
Argus Leader file photo

More: Sanford Health announces massive merger plan with Iowa’s UnityPoint Health

The court filing, brought by two of Asfora’s colleagues, Drs. Dustin Bechtold and Bryan Wellman, alleges that Sanford’s leadership ignored complaints from doctors and intentionally covered up Asfora’s surgical errors. It also alleges that Sanford and Asfora billed Medicare and other programs for care that was never provided. Those accusations, if true, could get the health system suspended from government health programs, including Medicare, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues.

The filing says that Sanford’s executive leadership, including President and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, and doctors who were supposed to ensure patient safety, ignored repeated warnings and complaints that Asfora was performing unnecessary surgeries.

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Dr. Allison Suttle, Sanford’s chief medical officer, denied the allegations in a statement to the Argus Leader.

“Dr. Wilson Asfora is an exceptionally talented surgeon who provides excellent care to his patients,” she said. “His unique skills and expertise are a great asset to our region. He has saved the lives of hundreds of patients. The allegations in this lawsuit have been investigated and were found to have no merit. Sanford Health is confident in the care provided to our patients and will continue to provide quality care. We will vigorously defend this baseless suit.”

At one point, in October, 2015, Sanford fired Asfora. The complaint says that Asfora ran into Wellman and another spine surgeon, Dr. Troy Gust, and told them he had “dirt and skeletons” on Sanford. Asfora predicted he would be reinstated, and he was two weeks later.

The complaint includes 50 pages of accounts in which Asfora is alleged to have performed unnecessary surgeries on patients. In those accounts, Asfora not only performed the surgeries, but he also filled patients with unnecessary screws and medical devices manufactured by his company, Medical Designs, that were then billed to the federal government.

Asfora and Sanford, the complaint alleges, received kickbacks by using medical implants in unnecessary surgeries. Medical Designs produced medical screws and spacers used in spinal fusion surgeries. The complaint alleges that Asfora used those devices on spinal fusion surgeries that were unnecessary in order to generate profits for himself.

“One level,” says a summary of one patient’s fusion, “was all that was medically necessary for this patient. Dr. Asfora put in three additional cages, which this patient did not need, but which Dr. Asfora personally benefited from financially. Dr. Asfora never saw this patient prior to surgery. Three of these levels were off-label, medically unnecessary, and medically tainted by kickbacks.” 

It’s not the first time that Asfora and Sanford have been in trouble with violating federal anti-kickback laws. An Argus Leader investigation in 2014 revealed that Asfora formed an entity known as a Physician Owned Distributorship. PODs allow their doctor-owners to profit off of devices that they implant, which critics say increases the likelihood of doctors performing surgeries for financial gain.

Sanford and Asfora agreed to pay $625,000 in fines for violating anti-kickback rules.

Surgeons with the Orthopedic Institute had a separate POD, but they abandoned their POD amid concerns about violating federal law. Asfora continued his POD, which the complaint attributes to more frequent and aggressive surgeries performed by Asfora.

This content was originally published here.

13 Health Benefits of Watermelon – Cleansing, Alkalizing And Mineralizing

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Watermelon is one of my all-time favorite fruits. It is very cleansing, alkalizing and mineralizing—excellent for flushing out the kidneys and bladder, healing and preventing a wide range of ailments.

Watermelon is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family which comprises fruits like cantaloupe, pumpkin and similar plants that grow on vines on the ground.

Watermelons can be round, oblong or spherical in shape; light to dark green in color, with lighter mottling stripes.

Its succulent flesh is commonly bright red in color but there are also other varieties with dark brown, orange, yellow, pink and even white flesh.

Watermelon Nutrition Data

The water content in watermelon is extremely high at 92%. It is rich in beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B5 and smaller amounts of B1, B2, B3 and B6.

This big fruit is a rich source of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and smaller amounts of copper, iron and zinc.

As in tomatoes, watermelon is loaded with lycopene, the red carotenoid pigment that gives the fruit its red color. This important antioxidant is powerful in neutralizing harmful free radicals in our body.

Perhaps, one of the most important compounds in watermelon is citrulline. Read on to learn more about what citrulline can do for your body.

Health Benefits of Watermelon Juice

Watermelon juice is very cleansing, alkalizing, diuretic and mineralizing.

Watermelon is so rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. The benefits of drinking watermelon juice is that it is easily digestible and the nutrients are quickly absorbed by your body at the cellular level.

Drawing from the rich antioxidant and beta-carotene, the health benefits of watermelon are immense.

It is alkalizing

Consuming foods that are highly acidic will cause your blood to be acidic, potentially lowering your immune system and increasing the chances of developing a chronic disease.

The key to fighting and preventing diseases then, is to create an alkaline environment in your body. Due to its high water content, watermelon has a very alkaline pH, making it an excellent food for reversing symptoms of acidosis (over-acidity).

Harmful pathogens—parasites, harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts—thrive in an acidic body, whereas an alkaline environment neutralizes the toxic condition, preventing cell damage and aging.

Watermelon has a 92% water content and is rich in electrolytes, making it an excellent rehydrating food. This is important, as dehydration causes the body to be acidic.

Reduces inflammation in the body

Recent studies have discovered that watermelons have 1.4x the lycopene content of tomatoes when compared in the same volume.

Lycopene is the phytonutrient in the fruit that gives it its red-pink color. And, in watermelon, this antioxidant is available in abundance.

Unlike lycopene from tomato that needs to be processed for best bioavailability, the lycopene from watermelon is available directly to the human body immediately after consumption. What this means, is that no processing of the watermelon is necessary to enjoy the benefits of lycopene.

Thanks to lycopene and other powerful nutrients in watermelon juice, they act as inhibitors for various inflammatory processes. Reducing inflammation provides relief and healing to individuals suffering from body and muscle aches, and various forms of arthritis.

Protects against asthma and allergy attacks

The presence of lycopene in high concentration in watermelons, plus its easy bioavailability, helps to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in cases of asthma and allergies.

Several studies reported lower rates of wheezing and allergic rhinitis in children who consumed antioxidant-rich foods such as watermelon.

Oxidative stress resulting from excessive free radicals in the body, can have a harmful effect on the airway function, causing asthma and allergy attacks. In this case, consumption of watermelon juice helps raise the immune responses in preventing attacks.

Treats arthritis

The arthritis.org website agrees that watermelon is beneficial for individuals suffering from various forms of arthritis.

Studies show that watermelon can lower C-reactive Protein (CRP)—a measure of body-wide inflammation linked to arthritis flares and heart disease.

Watermelon is rich in carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin, which is beneficial for individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, reducing painful inflammatory joint conditions.

Treats conditions in the renal system

Among all fruits, watermelon has the highest amount of amino acid citrulline, a word derived from citrullus, a Latin word for watermelon. This compound is found in the highest concentration in the white rind (the white matter just under the skin).

This is why it is beneficial to include the rind when juicing watermelon, especially if you have a kidney or bladder issue.

High concentrations of citrulline and vitamin C (ascorbid acid) in watermelon rind juice help to break down kidney stones, clean out the kidneys and bladder, and reduce inflammation caused by free radicals.

The citrulline in watermelon is also key in making this fruit richly hydrating and naturally diuretic. The natural diuretic effect ensures that your kidneys and bladder are effectively flushed of toxins, thus reducing fluid retention in the body.

Ladies who have PMS issues with water retention may find relief when drinking watermelon juice a week prior to their menstruation, and also prevent bloating.

At the first sign of an urinary tract infection (UTI), start drinking freshly-extracted watermelon juice—flesh, seeds, rind and all—till symptoms are gone.

Calms the gastrointestinal tract

Like most fruits, watermelon juice has a natural laxative effect that helps improve regularity, for a healthy digestive system.

Watermelon juice helps to calm the gastrointestinal tract, regulates pH levels, reduces inflammation and acidity. This makes it an excellent, healing drink for individuals suffering from acid reflux.

Watermelon juice is one of the best juices to drink when one’s constipated. If you have chronic constipation, make it a point to drink a glass of watermelon juice daily to improve regularity. This is especially useful for children who are constipated—most kids love watermelon juice and it is easy to have them drink it.

To relieve that occasional constipation, drink a big jumbo glass of watermelon juice (about 20-30 ounces) on empty stomach.

Provides electrolytes to your body

Watermelon juice is rich in various minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorus) to replenish electrolytes lost after a good workout.

If you have any of these symptoms, chances are that you have an electrolyte imbalance: muscle aches, spasms, twitches and weakness; restlessness, frequent headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations, fatigue, numbness and pain in joints, and dizziness.

Drink watermelon juice consistently every day to supply your body with these rich minerals until your symptoms disappear.

Improves eye health

Watermelons contain high levels of beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) that is converted into vitamin A (retinol) in your body when needed.

If you’ve read that vitamin A is toxic at high levels, that is only referring to supplementary sources (synthetic) and doesn’t apply here. Dietary sources (natural foods) of vitamin A is non-toxic at all, even in high amounts.

Beta-carotene is the red pigmentation that gives watermelon flesh its color. It is an antioxidant that protects your eyes from free radicals damage.

One of the main causes of eye problems is due to low intake of antioxidants and vitamin A in one’s diet. So it makes sense that when you flood your system with watermelon juice (or other high-antioxidant juices) that is rich in these compounds, they help to nourish and improve your eye health.

Vitamin A is essential for good vision, and it protects your eyes from various eye problems such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal degeneration, night blindness and the like.

Lowers the risks of strokes and heart attacks

The health benefits of watermelon is just endless. The combination of high antioxidants, lycopene and other essential vitamins and minerals in this fruit plays an important role in reducing the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Studies show that the rich nutrients in watermelon, along with lycopene are health-promoting agents that reduce risk of cardiovascular disorders.

High consumption of lycopene in watermelon has been observed to reduce the thickness of the internal layer of blood vessels, thus reducing the risk of myocardial infarction.

Risks of heart attacks, ischemic strokes and artheroslerosis are also much reduced when oxidation of LDL is prevented by drinking watermelon juice.

The diuretic effect of watermelon juice flushes out toxins and excess salt out of your body. This process causes the walls of your blood vessels to relax and widen, thus improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. This can be observed even after drinking just one glass of watermelon juice.

Eliminates toxic wastes from your body

Watermelon is one of the best fruits to be included when doing a juice cleanse. Alternatively, you can also do just a watermelon detox as it is effective for removing toxic wastes from your body that are slowing down your metabolism.

When toxins are eliminated, it is only natural that your largest organ, your skin, will have a healthy glow. You may expect clearer, smoother skin that is properly hydrated.

Individuals who suffer from itchiness on the skin as a result of acidosis toxicity, may also find relief after a watermelon juice detox.

Protects against various cancers

Watermelon is a valued source of natural antioxidants with special reference to its lycopene, ascorbic acid and citrulline. These compounds have been shown to act as protection against chronic health problems such as cancer.

In fact, watermelon has the highest concentration of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene has been extensively researched for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties.

It is reported to be especially protective against cancers of the prostate, lung, colorectal, endometrial and breast.

Improves sexual health

As discussed above, drinking watermelon juice relaxes and dilates your blood vessels and increases your overall energy and stamina. This works well for athletes as well as for men who needs that extra energy in bed!

Watermelon acts as a natural viagra, according to an Italian study. Consuming watermelon juice that has high content of citrulline has been found to improve erection hardness in men suffering from mild erectile dysfunction.

In the study, men with mild erectile dysfunction (erection hardness score of 3) received L-citrulline supplementation for a month. L-citrulline is the natural form of citrulline.

50% of the men were found to have an improvement in the erection hardness score from 3 (mild ED) to 4 (normal erectile function), with no adverse effects.

Number of intercourses per month increased, and all participants reported being very satisfied with the treatment.

Aids weight loss

Like all fruits and vegetables, watermelon is very low in calories. Consumption of 100 grams of watermelon provides about 30kcal. It contains almost 92% water and 7.55% of carbohydrates, out of which 6.2% are sugars and 0.4% dietary fiber.

Eating watermelon or drinking of its juice is very satiating and fulfills your body’s need for all the nutrients that it needs. It makes you feel full for longer.

And, because watermelon helps to keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy, prevents constipation, water retention and bloating, and removes toxins from the body—these all contribute to gradual weight loss.

As your body becomes healthier, weight loss often comes naturally.

Watermelon For Individuals With Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)

Experimental studies have indicated that patients with high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) are more prone to risks of coronary complications. Elevated oxidative stress and LDL oxidation are major contributory factors.

As discussed above, watermelon juice is excellent in countering both these conditions: oxidative stress and LDL oxidation.

Lycopene in watermelon has the potential to reduce oxidized cholesterol in diabetic state. It has the ability to decrease body glucose and raise insulin level in type 2 diabetes.

In a study, watermelon extract was administered to diabetic rats. At the end of the study, a rise in insulin level 37% whilst decline in glucose 33% were observed. The study concluded that watermelon extract is a hyperinsulinemic and hypoglycemic product.

So, can you have watermelon if you have diabetes?

The answer depends on your overall diet. If you generally watch your diet and eating foods mostly low in sugar, it would not hurt for you to eat watermelon, even drink watermelon juice in moderatioin. Here are some tips:

While watermelon extract may not be easily available (per study above), perhaps for individuals who have diabetes—opt for watermelons that are less ripe. This article tells you how to pick ripe watermelons, the opposites are true for picking unripe watermelons.

The flesh of a less ripe watermelon will be lightly pinkish, not red, and will be low in sugar content.

Wash the watermelon clean, include the watermelon rind and skin in your juicing to enjoy its full benefits of kidney cleansing.

Health Benefits of Watermelon Seeds

Eating a small amount of watermelon seeds can give you the chance to enjoy its many nutrients and benefits.

Watermelon seeds are packed full of healthy fats. These fats can decrease your appetite, help you feel full, and strengthen your hair, skin, and nails.

Watermelon seeds are rich in zinc and magnesium, two essential minerals that the vast majority of Americans do not get enough of. Zinc and magnesium can help boost your metabolism, give you more energy, and prevent depression. These minerals also support mental clarity.

Another surprising nutrient you’ll find in watermelon seeds is iron. One ounce of watermelon seeds has 25% of the iron that a grown man needs every day. Hitting your recommended daily iron intake can prevent fatigue, improve mental functioning, and prevent anemia.

Watermelon Consumption Tips

So, the question is: Is eating too much watermelon bad for you?

While watermelon is great and beneficial for all the health conditions we discussed above, eating too much of anything in the long term may have an adverse effect.

It is fine though, to eat watermelon or drink its juice for a season, therapeutically, depending on the severity of your health condition.

Here are some tips on preparing and consuming watermelon.

Some of the links I post on this site are affiliate links. If you go through them to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you). However, note that I’m recommending these products because of their quality and that I have good experience using them, not because of the commission to be made.

About Sara Ding

Sara Ding is the founder of Juicing-for-Health.com. She is a certified Wellness Health Coach, Nutritional Consultant and a Detox Specialist. She helps busy men and women identify their health issues at the root cause, in order to eliminate the problems for optimum physical/mental health and wellbeing.

This content was originally published here.