First they came for the dogs… Microchipped pets develop aggressive, lethal tumors

Since I’m an animal lover who is owned by 2 Labrador retrievers (Ronin & Lucy Lu), 2 black cats (Bijou & Deja Vu), 2 horses (Missy Marquette & Bada Boom) and 2 sheep (Shebaa & Rambo) I felt the need to post this article for other health conscious individuals with 4 legged companions. Both my dogs are chipped but this article has given me pause that although my intentions were noble I may have inadvertently put them at risk.

Owners, Medical Reports Point to Link Between RFID Chips and Cancers in Canines

Highly aggressive tumors developed around the microchip implants of two American dogs, killing one of the pets and leaving the other terminally ill. Their owners — and pathology and autopsy reports — have suggested a link between the chips and the formation of the fast-growing cancers.

In the town of Paeonian Springs, Va., a five-year-old male Bullmastiff named Seamus died in February, nine months after developing a “hemangio-sarcoma” — a rare, malignant form of cancer that strikes connective tissues and can kill even humans in three to six months. The tumor appeared last May between the dog’s shoulder blades where a microchip had been implanted; by September, a “large mass” had grown with the potential to spread to the lungs, liver and spleen, according a pathology report from the Blue Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Purcellville, Va.

seamus_bullmastiff_with_microcOriginally scheduled to receive just a biopsy, Seamus underwent emergency surgery. A foot-long incision was opened to extract the 4-pound-3-ounce tumor, and four drains were needed to remove fluid where the tumor had developed.

When Howard Gillis, the dog’s owner, picked up his pet the following day, the attending veterinarian stunned him with this question: Did you know your dog had been microchipped twice, and that both chips were in or around the tumor?

“While we knew of one chip, which we had put in him at a free local county clinic, we knew nothing of a second chip,” Gillis said. “We believe one of them was put in Seamus by the breeder from whom we bought him when he was about nine months old.”

By December, the cancer was back — and the energetic, playful 150-pound dog was huffing and puffing, struggling to walk. Seamus “was 150 pounds of heart,” Gillis said in a recent interview. “He wanted to live.”

Gillis said he “got the microchip because I didn’t want him stolen. I thought I was doing right. There were never any warnings about what a microchip could do, but I saw it first-hand. That cancer was something I could see growing every day, and I could see it taking his life … It just ate him up.” To keep his beloved dog from suffering further, he had him put to sleep two months later.

In Memphis, a five-year-old Yorkshire Terrier named Scotty was diagnosed with cancer at the Cloverleaf Animal Clinic in December. A tumor between the dog’s shoulder blades — precisely where a microchip had been embedded — was described as malignant lymphoma. A tumor the size of a small balloon was removed; encased in it was a microchip.

scotty_yorkshire_terrier_with_Scotty was given no more than a year to live.

But the dog’s owner, Linda Hawkins, wasn’t satisfied with just a prognosis: She wanted to know whether the presence of the microchip had anything to do with Scotty’s illness. Initially, her veterinarian was skeptical that a chip implant could trigger cancer; research has shown that vaccine injections in dogs and cats can lead to tumors.

In a December pathology report on Scotty, Evan D. McGee wrote: “I was previously suspicious of a prior unrelated injection site reaction” beneath the tumor. “However, it is possible that this inflammation is associated with other foreign debris, possibly from the microchip.”

Observing the glass-encapsulated tag under a microscope, he noted it was partially coated with a translucent material, normally used to keep embedded microchips from moving around the body. “This coating could be the material inciting the inflammatory response,” McGee wrote.

Hawkins sent the pathology report to HomeAgain, the national pet recovery and identification network that endorses microchipping of pets. After having a vet review the document, the company said the chip did not cause Scotty’s tumor — then in January sent Hawkins a $300 check to cover her clinical expenses, no questions asked.
“I find it hard to believe that a company will just give away $300 to somebody who calls in, unless there is something bad going on,” Hawkins says.

Having spent $4,000 on medical treatment for Scotty since December, Hawkins accepted the money. But she says it hardly covers her $900 monthly outlays for chemotherapy and does little to ease her pet’s suffering.

“Scotty is just a baby. He won’t live the 15 years he’s supposed to …I did something I thought a responsible pet owner should — microchip your pet — and to think that it killed him … It just breaks your heart.”

Scotty and Seamus aren’t the only pets to have suffered adverse reactions from microchips. Published reports have detailed malignant tumors in two other chipped dogs; in one dog, the researchers said cancer appeared linked to the presence of the embedded chip; in the other, the cancer’s cause was uncertain.

Last year, a Chihuahua bled to death in the arms of his distraught owners in Agua Dulce, Calif., just hours after undergoing a chipping procedure. The veterinarian who performed the chipping confirmed that dog died from blood loss associated with the microchip. charlie_brown_longhaired_chihu

In another case, a kitten died instantly when a microchip was accidentally injected into its brain stem. And in another, a cat was paralyzed when an implant entered its spinal column. The implants have been widely reported to migrate within animals’ bodies, and can cause abscesses and infection.

In 2007, The Associated Press reported on a series of veterinary and toxicology studies that found that microchip implants had “induced” malignant tumors in some lab animals. Published in veterinary and toxicology journals between 1996 and 2006, the studies found that between 1 and 10 percent of lab mice and rats injected with microchips developed malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants.

Dr. Katherine Albrecht is a privacy expert who has writtern extensively on the topic of implanted microchips. She is an outspoken opponent of implantable microchips, RFID, and retail privacy invasion. Katherine has authored pro-privacy legislation, testified before lawmakers around the globe, written for numerous publications including Scientific American, and granted over 2,000 media interviews. Katherine is syndicated radio host, bestselling author, and the U.S. spokesperson for, the world’s most private search engine. Katherine holds a doctorate in Education from Harvard University.

Health behaviours may account for substantial portion of social inequality in risk of death

An analysis of nearly 25 years of data for about 10,000 civil servants in London finds an association between socioeconomic position and risk of death, with much of this relation accounted for by health behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and physical activity, according to a study in the March 24/31 issue of JAMA.

The higher prevalence of unhealthy behaviours in lower socioeconomic positions is seen to be one of the mechanisms linking lower socioeconomic position to worse health. ‘However, major changes have occurred in population lifestyles. These include the decreasing prevalence of smoking and a remarkable increase in obesity since the 1990s. Given that changes in health behaviours may be socially patterned, previous studies with a single assessment of behaviours may have provided an inaccurate estimation of their contribution to the association between socioeconomic factors and mortality,’ the authors write.

Silvia Stringhini, M.Sc., of the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Villejuif, France and colleagues examined the role of health behaviours in the association between socioeconomic position and mortality. They also compared whether the contribution of health behaviours differs when assessed at only 1 point in time than when assessed through the follow-up period. The British Whitehall II longitudinal study, established in 1985, includes 10,308 civil servants, ages 35 to 55 years, living in London. Analyses were based on 9,590 men and women followed up for mortality until April 30, 2009. Socioeconomic position was derived from civil service employment grade (high, intermediate, and low) at the beginning of the study. Smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and physical activity were assessed 4 times during the follow-up period.

A total of 654 participants died during the 24-year follow-up period. The researchers found that in the analyses adjusted for sex and year of birth, those with the lowest socioeconomic position had a 1.6 times higher risk of death from all causes than those with the highest socioeconomic position. Overall, health behaviours assessed at baseline explained 42 percent of the association between socioeconomic position and all-cause mortality; this increased to 72 percent when they were entered as time-dependent covariates (a variable that is possibly predictive of the outcome under study). All health behaviours taken together at baseline explained 29 percent of the gradient for cardiovascular mortality and 45 percent when they were entered as time-dependent covariates. These figures for noncancer and noncardiovascular mortality were 61 percent and 94 percent, respectively.

‘The difference between the baseline only and repeated assessments of health behaviours was mostly due to an increased explanatory power of diet, physical activity, and alcohol consumption. The role of smoking, the strongest mediator in these analyses, did not change when using baseline or repeat assessments,’ the researchers write.

‘This study suggests that health behaviours explain a substantial part of social inequalities in mortality and demonstrates the importance of taking into account changes over time in health behaviours when examining their role in social inequalities.’

‘Our findings may not necessarily have straightforward policy implications. On the one hand, the findings imply that health policies and interventions focusing on individual health behaviours have the potential not only to increase the population’s health but also to substantially reduce inequalities in health. On the other hand, if health behaviours are socially patterned and determined, for example, by financial factors, the capacity to respond to health education messages, or the environment in which they live, the same policies aimed at improving the population’s health may contribute to an increase in social inequalities in health,’ the authors conclude.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Placebo Effect Breakthrough: It's Not Just in the Mind. It Actually Alters Physiological Response of the Spine

“The placebo effect can be traced in part to physical changes that take place in the spine when a fake drug is taken, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, and published in the journal “Science.” The placebo effect refers to a phenomenon in which a person’s symptoms diminish after taking a biologically inactive treatment that they believe to be a real drug. It is a well-documented effect that is particularly strong for conditions originating in the central nervous system, such as pain and depression. “These results provide direct evidence for spinal inhibition as one mechanism of placebo analgesia and highlight that psychological factors can act on the earliest stages of pain processing in the central nervous system,” the researchers wrote.

Researchers told 15 healthy men that their arms were being treated with two separate creams – one of them an anesthetic, the other a placebo. They then applied painful heat to the treated sections of the participants arms while taking a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan of their spinal cords. Both creams were, in fact, medically inactive placebos. Yet the men not only reported experiencing significantly less pain when treated with a cream they believed to be active, but the fMRI scans showed that the activity of the nerves in their spine was also significantly reduced. This shows that when given a placebo, the mind is not just filtering pain away – the body actually feels less.

“It is deeply rooted in very, very early areas of the central nervous system. That definitely speaks for a strong effect,” lead researcher Falk Eippert said. The researchers still could not explain how the perception of treatment created an effect in the spine, however. They suggested that the body might respond to treatment with a perceived drug by releasing its own natural painkillers.”

U.S. herpes rates remain high – CDC

1 in 6 Americans infected with herpes

Highest rates found among blacks, women

WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) – About 16 percent of Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 are infected with genital herpes, making it one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday.

Black women had the highest rate of infection at 48 percent and women were nearly twice likely as men to be infected, according to an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 21 percent of women were infected with genital herpes, compared to only 11.5 percent of men, while 39 percent of blacks were infected compared to about 12 percent for whites, the CDC said.

There is no cure for genital herpes, or herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which can cause recurrent and painful genital sores and also increases the likelihood of acquiring and transmitting the AIDS virus. It is related to herpes simplex virus 1, or oral herpes, which causes cold sores.

Several drugs are available to treat herpes symptoms and outbreaks, including acyclovir, which is available generically or under the Zovirax brand name, and valacyclovir, known generically as Valtrex — both made by GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK.L). Ganciclovir, sold as Zirgan, is made by privately-held Sirion Therapeutics, Inc.

The CDC estimates that more than 80 percent of people with genital herpes do not know they are infected.

“The message is herpes is quite common. The symptoms can be often very innocuous,” Dr. John Douglas of the CDC said in a teleconference.

“Because herpes is so prevalent it becomes … a really important reason to use condoms on a consistent and correct basis with all of your partners,” Douglas said.

Douglas said the increased rate of infection in blacks is not do to increased risk behavior but likely due to biological factors that make women more susceptible as well as the higher rate of infection within black communities.

The CDC estimates that there are 19 million new sexually transmitted disease infections every year in the United States, costing the health care system about $16 billion annually.

Source: Reuters By JoAnne Allen

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Low Levels of Vitamin D Linked to Muscle Fat, Decreased Strength in Young People

There’s an epidemic in progress, and it has nothing to do with the flu. A ground-breaking study published in the March 2010 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found an astonishing 59 per cent of study subjects had too little Vitamin D in their blood. Nearly a quarter of the group had serious deficiencies (less than 20 ng/ml) of this important vitamin. Since Vitamin D insufficiency is linked to increased body fat, decreased muscle strength and a range of disorders, this is a serious health issue.

Vitamin D insufficiency is a risk factor for other diseases,” explains principal investigator, Dr. Richard Kremer, co-director of the Musculoskeletal Axis of the Research Institute of the MUHC. “Because it is linked to increased body fat, it may affect many different parts of the body. Abnormal levels of Vitamin D are associated with a whole spectrum of diseases, including cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and autoimmune disorders.”

The study by Dr. Kremer and co-investigator Dr. Vincente Gilsanz, head of musculoskeletal imaging at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles of the University of Southern California, is the first to show a clear link between Vitamin D levels and the accumulation of fat in muscle tissue – a factor in muscle strength and overall health. Scientists have known for years that Vitamin D is essential for muscle strength. Studies in the elderly have showed bedridden patients quickly gain strength when given Vitamin D.

The study results are especially surprising, because study subjects – all healthy young women living in California – could logically be expected to benefit from good diet, outdoor activities and ample exposure to sunshine – the trigger that causes the body to produce Vitamin D.

“We are not yet sure what is causing Vitamin D insufficiency in this group,” says Dr. Kremer who is also Professor of Medicine at McGill University. High levels of Vitamin D could help reduce body fat. Or, fat tissues might absorb or retain Vitamin D, so that people with more fat are likely to also be Vitamin D deficient.”

The results extend those of an earlier study by Dr. Kremer and Dr. Gilsanz, which linked low levels of Vitamin D to increased visceral fat in a young population. “In the present study, we found an inverse relationship between Vitamin D and muscle fat,” Dr. Kremer says. “The lower the levels of Vitamin D the more fat in subjects’ muscles.”

While study results may inspire some people to start taking Vitamin D supplements, Dr. Kremer recommends caution. “Obviously this subject requires more study,” he says. “We don’t yet know whether Vitamin D supplementation would actually result in less accumulation of fat in the muscles or increase muscle strength. We need more research before we can recommend interventions. We need to take things one step at a time.”