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Philip Morris turns health protection into wealth protection

Until last week, all cigarette flavors were equal, then new Food and Drug Administration regulations made one flavor more equal than all the others. Because of a loophole written into the law, the FDA banned all flavored cigarettes except menthol. The only flavor sold by Philip Morris, the FDA's industry ally in passing legislation to allow the ban, just happens to be menthol.

Sold as a way to protect public health, the ban is more flash than substance. At the time he signed the legislation President Obama crowed, "The decades-long effort to protect our children [has] emerged victorious. ... Today, change has come." Change came, but it didn't do much when it got here.

Menthol is the No. 1 cigarette flavor used by underaged smokers and the most popular among all smokers. A menthol ban would have had many times the impact of banning all other flavors combined.

The menthol exception makes the new regulation particularly toothless among blacks. Mentholated brands are preferred by three-quarters of black smokers. Blacks tend to be more likely to smoke and to smoke more. As a result, blacks suffer a disproportionate share of lung cancer.

Consumers should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to smoke or go hang gliding or eat fattening ice cream, but even by the standards of nanny state advocates this rule is ludicrous. There is no logical health explanation for why menthol flavored cigarettes are allowed but other flavors are banned.

However, there is an economic reason for the distinction and for Philip Morris to be a cheerleader for regulation. The more regulatory hurdles faced by potential competitors, the easier it is for large tobacco concerns to keep their 

For instance, other rules require new tobacco products to get a difficult and costly to obtain marketing approval from the FDA. Under the new FDA flavor regulation many competitors' brands are now being eliminated and Philip Morris doesn't have to worry about them introducing new ones.

Even if the FDA were to grant approval for new products, still other government barriers exist to protect Philip Morris. As is well recognized in economics, government advertising bans protect dominant firms in an industry from pesky upstarts.

Indeed, while the television and radio advertising bans on cigarettes in the 1960s slightly decreased overall cigarette use over time, they also increased stock prices for large tobacco companies.

It is no surprise Philip Morris supported the new advertising bans that included the removal of tobacco advertising from sales counters in retail outlets and the elimination of many types of outside advertising. Without advertising or even showing the new cigarettes at retail counters, how can one even think of starting a new brand?

All the Big Brother health benefit rhetoric might have meant something if the single most popular flavored tobacco wasn't excluded. Instead we get government-expanding regulation virtually guaranteed not to have an impact. That's not change, that's business as usual.  read full report

Is Your Pet in Pain?

Animals naturally hide their pain. Pets may be suffering even though they don’t show obvious signs. AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines have decoded signs of animal suffering and ways to relieve it.

To protect themselves from predators, animals naturally hide their pain. Your pet may be suffering even though he isn’t showing obvious signs. Advancements in veterinary science have decoded subtle telltale signs of animal distress. Observing your pet’s behavior is vital to managing his or her pain. How well do you know your pet? Use these five clues from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) to help you understand your pet’s body language.

Clue 1—Abnormal chewing habits

If your pet is showing abnormal chewing habits, such as dropping its food or chewing on one side of the mouth, it may have a dental disorder or a mouth tumor. Additional signs may include weight loss, bad breath or excessive face rubbing. Routine dental checkups are important to prevent and treat dental disorders and related pain.

Clue 2—Drastic weight gain or loss

Pain directly influences your pet’s weight and eating habits. Animals carrying excess weight have an increased chance of tearing ligaments and damaging joints. Pets with arthritis or muscle soreness may not want to access their food because bending over is uncomfortable. Arthritis pain may also cause pets to gain weight while their eating habits remain the same due to lack of exercise. Pain can also cause animals to loose their appetites which will lead to weight loss.

Clue 3—Avoids affection or handling

Did Fluffy used to be active and energetic, but now sits quietly around the house? Avoiding affection or handling may be a sign of a progressive disease such as osteoarthritis or intervertebral disc disease. Although your pet may appear to be normal before petting or handling it, the added pressure applied to its body may expose sensitive and painful areas. Hiding is also a sign of pain. Because the animal is hurting, she will hide to avoid a vulnerable position (this allows the pet to prevent painful interactions).

Clue 4—Decreased movement and exercise

Osteoarthritis or joint disease is the most common cause of pain. Pets that limp may be reluctant to go up or down stairs, exercise, or play. Weight and joint injuries can also go hand-in-hand. Losing unnecessary pounds will help overweight pets decrease pressure on sore joints and reduce pain. Consult your veterinarian about exercises, diets and medical therapies that can help improve your pet’s health.

Clue 5— “Accidents”

Pet owners often believe that “accidents” are a result of behavioral issues. Although behavioral issues may cause unwanted surprises, going to the bathroom in inappropriate places may be caused by pain. Pets with sore joints or arthritis may not make it to a convenient location due to painful obstacles like stairs.

Urinary tract infections also may cause a messy situation. In addition to having “accidents,” symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include, lethargy, fever, tender lower abdomen and difficulty urinating. Even after the urinary tract infection is dealt with it may be necessary to get a new litter box because the cat makes painful associations with the old litter box.

The lack of verbal expression does not mean that your pet is not experiencing pain. Minor behavioral change can be cause for alarm. Being aware of your pet’s habits can help you and your veterinarian assess and treat your pet’s pain. Pain management has become an integral part of your pet’s overall healthcare. Diagnosing and managing pain is among the 900 standards an animal hospital is evaluated on in order to become accredited through AAHA. For more information about the advancement of pain management, check out the AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. For more info  

Cause of irritable bowel syndrome

As discussed previously, irritable bowel syndrome is believed to be due to the abnormal function (dysfunction) of the muscles of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract or the nerves controlling the organs. 

The nervous control of the gastrointestinal tract, however, is complex. A system of nerves runs the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the anus in the muscular walls of the organs. These nerves communicate with other nerves that travel to and from the spinal cord. Nerves within the spinal cord, in turn, travel to and from the brain. 

(The gastrointestinal tract is exceeded in the numbers of nerves it contains only by the spinal cord and brain.) Thus, the abnormal function of the nervous system in IBS may occur in a gastrointestinal muscular organ, the spinal cord, or the brain.

The nervous system that controls the gastrointestinal organs, as with most other organs, contains both sensory and motor nerves. The sensory nerves continuously sense what is happening within the organ and relay this information to nerves in the organ's wall. 

From there, information can be relayed to the spinal cord and brain. The information is received and processed in the organ's wall, the spinal cord, or the brain. Then, based on this sensory input and the way the input is processed, commands (responses) are sent to the organ over the motor nerves. Two of the most common motor responses in the intestine are contraction or relaxation of the muscle of the organ and secretion of fluid and/or mucus into the organ.

As already mentioned, abnormal function of the nerves of the gastrointestinal organs, at least theoretically, might occur in the organ, spinal cord, or brain. Moreover, the abnormalities might occur in the sensory nerves, the motor nerves, or at processing centers in the intestine, spinal cord, or brain. 

Some researchers argue that the cause of functional diseases is abnormalities in the function of the sensory nerves. For example, normal activities, such as stretching of the small intestine by food, may give rise to abnormal sensory signals that are sent to the spinal cord and brain, where they are perceived as pain. Other researchers argue that the cause of functional diseases is abnormalities in the function of the motor nerves. For example, abnormal commands through the motor nerves might produce a painful spasm (contraction) of the muscles. Still others argue that abnormally functioning processing centers are responsible for functional diseases because they misinterpret normal sensations or send abnormal commands to the organ. 

In fact, some functional diseases may be due to sensory dysfunction, motor dysfunction, or both sensory and motor dysfunction. Still others may be due to abnormalities within the processing centers One area that is receiving a great deal of scientific attention is the potential role of gas produced by intestinal bacteria in patients with IBS. Studies have demonstrated that patients with IBS produce larger amounts of gas than individuals without IBS, and the gas may be retained longer in the small intestine. Among patients with IBS, abdominal size increases over the day, reaching a maximum in the evening and returning to baseline by the following morning. In individuals without IBS, there is no increase in abdominal size during the day.
There has been a great deal of controversy over the role that poor digestion and/or absorption of dietary sugars may play in aggravating the symptoms of IBS. Poor digestion of lactose, the sugar in milk, is very common as is poor absorption of fructose, a sweetener found in many processed foods. Poor digestion or absorption of these sugars could aggravate the symptoms of IBS since unabsorbed sugars often cause increased formation of gas.
Although these abnormalities in production and transport of gas could give rise to some of the symptoms of IBS, much more work will need to be done before the role of intestinal gas in IBS is clear. Dietary fat in healthy individuals causes food as well as gas to move more slowly through the stomach and small intestine. Some patients with IBS may even respond to dietary fat in an exaggerated fashion with greater slowing. Thus, dietary fat could--and probably does--aggravate the symptoms of IBS. For more information visit: http://www.bowtrol.com

Breast Enhancement Surgery

Breast enlargement surgery, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), was the fourth most popular invasive surgical procedure among cosmetic plastic surgeries performed in 2000. 

In a press release dated July 12, 2001, the ASPS says that breast augmentation was performed on 212,500 women last year. Meanwhile, millions of women have been subjected to the ill effects of these modern day vanity contraptions that were bought in good faith. Remember!!
Silicone gel implants were banned in 1992 by FDA. If you have (or had) a ruptured silicone breast implant, you will be denied Health Insurance Coverage. Saline-filled implants tend to have a higher rate of leaking and deflation than silicone gel implants, which means more frequent surgery to replace them. In a study published in the Lancet medical journal, Dr Lori Brown of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says: "There is emerging consensus that both the incidence and prevalence of breast-implant rupture are much higher than previously suspected." 21% overall increase in cancers for women with implants, compared to women of the same age in the general population. Implant patients were three times as likely to die from lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia as other plastic surgery patients.The study is based on medical records and death certificates of almost 8,000 women with breast implants, including silicone gel implants and saline implants, and more than 2,000 other plastic surgery patients. 
( National Cancer Institute (NCI), Boston University, Abt Associates, and the Food and Drug Administration, with Dr. Louise Brinton from NCI as lead author. ) For more information visit: http://www.breastactives.com

Beta glucan Lowers Blood Lipids

BERLIN—Barley beta-glucan reduces serum lipid levels, according to research presented in April at the First International Congress on Pre-Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. In the six-week study, 76 men and 79 women with hypercholesterolemia, aged 25 to 73, completed a four-week lowfat diet prior to baseline. At the beginning of the trial, test subjects were randomly allocated to one of four treatment groups or a control group and assayed for blood lipids and other cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers. During the course of the study, test groups were administered 3 g and 5 g doses of low molecular weight (LMW) or high molecular weight (HMW) barley beta-glucan (from Cargill) twice daily, in cereal and juice. Posttreatment assessment of blood lipids and other CVD biomarkers revealed improvements in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, markers of glycemic control (glycosylated hemoglobin, HOMA model) and a key marker of inflammation (hs-CRP). The researchers concluded both doses of LMW and HMW barley beta-glucan improved blood lipids over a six-week treatment period. For more information visit: http://www.optimumdiabetics.com

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