SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

January 31, 2011

Teeth show earlier species

8 ancient teeth point to earliest human species

By Michelle Fay Cortez BLOOMBERG NEWS

The discovery of eight ancient teeth in a cave east of Tel Aviv that was used thousands of years ago might point to the oldest human ancestors, a study has found.

The teeth are older than most of the hominid specimens previously found in southwestern Asia, say researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel. They used advanced imagining technology, comparative analysis and an examination of the earth and debris around the fossils to date them to 300,000 to 400,000 years ago.

While the features aren’t a direct match to Neanderthals or early modern humans, they have a “stronger affinity” to Homo sapiens, the investigators said in a report in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. One possibility is that the teeth belong to an ancient, direct ancestor of early humans that developed independently of others in Africa and Europe, said Rolf M. Quam, a professor of anthropology at the State University of New York   at Binghamton.

“This region of the world has been a crossroads for human population movements for a very long period of time and is situated just outside of Africa and just outside of Europe,” said Quam, one of the study’s researchers.    Alternately, the finding might reflect a local evolution of Neanderthals in southwestern Asia, showing that they were there earlier than previously believed, or that more than one species — one earlier in time, and one later — occupied that area, Quam said.      “It is possible the older teeth represent one species and the younger teeth represent a different species, since we know that different human species were occupying Africa and Europe at this time,” Quam said in an e-mail. “With such fragmentary evidence as eight isolated teeth, it is difficult to offer a clear answer.”

(How exciting!. . . .sure it’s too early to nail down, but every piece adds to the whole tapestry of our history.  Any other fans out there of the Jean Auel  “Clan of the Cave Bear” series?  To me it was magical. .  .  .  I so much loved it.          Jan)

January 30, 2011

Birthright Citizenship History

Birthright citizenship is fundamental

MARY SANCHEZ, The Kansas City Star

I write this in apology to the Chinese and Native American people living in the United States during the 1860s.    Your history is being shortchanged. You’re being maligned by the facts-be-damned tenor of immigration debate. But I’m sure you know some thing about how misplaced zeal can inspire bad law — or in this case, attempts to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.

The goal of some Republican members of Congress today is to undermine the standard of citizenship for every baby born on U.S. soil, sealed by the 14th Amendment. The new vision is that the children of undocumented immigrants, the vast majority being Latino, shouldn’t be included.

To drum up support, backers trounce on historical accuracy.    They pitch the idea that when Congress enacted the 14th Amendment in 1868, all they had in mind was rectifying the sins of that post-slavery era. In particular, the need was to address the Dred Scott decision, which said people of African descent could not be citizens.    The claim is that the framers of the 14th Amendment didn’t mean to include the children of immigrants in the citizenship clauses.    Problem is, you did exist. And,   thankfully, researchers have gone back to the original records. The D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center, in particular, has done a marvelous job of digging deeper.

Their scholars have reconstructed 1866 debates in which concerns were raised about the nation being overrun by births from people clearly viewed then as less equal:  gypsies in Pennsylvania and Chinese immigrants.   Senators also discussed birthright citizenship in context of native tribal sovereignty.    The 14th Amendment passed anyway. Meaning, they understood its ramifications for all. Court decisions later reaffirmed the intent.

Most notable is the 1898 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of San Francisco-born Wong Kim Ark. This son of Chinese immigrants left the U.S. and was denied re-entry. For much of the nation’s early history, Chinese immigrants like his parents were excluded by law from becoming citizens.      He sued. And the ruling is clear:

  • “To hold that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution excludes from citizenship the children born in the United States of citizens or subjects of other countries, would be to deny citizenship to thousands of persons of English, Scotch, Irish, German, or other European parentage, who have always been considered and treated as citizens of the United States.”

Legal scholars say there is virtually no chance the 14th Amendment will be rewritten. Wisely, it is very difficult to change the Constitution, requiring three-quarters of states to  ratify a joint resolution.    Such realities are causing a shift in tactics. The new plan involves states creating a bureaucratic and costly mess of state citizenships, in conflict with the Constitution. Such states would allow citizenship only to babies with at least one parent a legal permanent resident or citizen.   Lawsuits are expected, with the long-term goal of a favorable ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Congressional members from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma and Georgia have expressed interest.    Such dangerous tinkering would create a caste system in America, exactly what the framers of the 14th Amendment counseled against. They didn’t want something as sacred as citizenship to be left to whims of the day.

Finally, all this twisting and turning sidesteps the real concern: illegal immigration. We need to rectify the fact that millions of people have been drawn to the country for work, but without a viable way to do so legally.    But this handful of shallow-minded politicians would prefer to tinker with the rights of the approximately 340,000 babies born to those immigrants annually in recent years.    Those children and the nation would fare better if elected officials would stick to brushing up on constitutional history.

Mary Sanchez is a columnist for The Kansas City Star.

Apple’s Core Values

Filed under: Apple high-tech Giant — Jan Turner @ 12:10 am

JEFF CHIU ASSOCIATED PRESS    Apple CEO Steve Jobs acts as if his 34-year-old company is a startup, tech analysts say.

A P P L E S     C O R E    V A L U E S

Tech leader ended 2010 with record profits, having boosted R&D, added jobs


SAN JOSE, Calif. — Much of the tech world is struggling to regain its footing after a difficult recession — and then there’s Apple.   Never has this venerable company, which at age 34 is a grizzled veteran by Silicon Valley standards, stood so firmly atop the high-tech industry.

  • Last year, Apple’s market capitalization surpassed that of Microsoft, making it the most valuable property in the tech universe.
  • And during its just-completed fiscal year, it broke four consecutive quarterly records for revenue and profit. Amid the worst recession in decades, Apple hired thousands while others cut jobs.

It also weathered the announcement last week that it will be without its CEO, Steve Jobs, at least for a while. He’s taking another medical leave of absence and hasn’t said when he expects to return. It’s his third such leave —— he has survived     pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant — leaving some worried about the fate of the company now that its legendary leader is sidelined.

But Apple has entered 2011 in better shape than many of its competitors, Jobs’ health aside.    While other tech titans spent 2010 cutting costs and acquiring new technology through mergers, the $65 billion company is innovating like a startup.    “It has a different cultural mind-set,” said Charles Wolf, an analyst with Needham & Co. “They are acting like a startup though they are becoming a $100 billion company.”

Its iPhone revolutionized the market for smart phones, the must-have product of the decade. Its iPad is creating consumer electronics’ most promising new market: tablet computers.    “This past year has arguably been among Apple’s best, if not the best, year,” said Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu.    Experts point to three key factors that drive Apple’s relentless innovation: It invests heavily in research and development, is unafraid to cannibalize or kill its own products, and is able to extend its core technology across a host of products to create a dominant ecosystem of consumer gadgets.

“Never in our history has one company done so much to drive personal technology,” said Mark Gilmore, co-founder of Wired Integrations, a technology-consulting firm. “IBM developed the PC, but that was really geared to businesses. Ford developed the assembly line to help consumers have more access to automobiles, but that is really a single product. Sony has developed several consumer gadgets over the years, but none as game-changing as what Apple has done.”

Apple, no matter how many economic dark clouds may hover, never skimps on research and development. In 2009, at the nadir of the Great Recession, Apple’s R&D spending jumped 20 percent to $1.4 billion.    That contrasted with a 4 percent drop in spending on research among the SV150, the San Jose Mercury News’ annual report on Silicon Valley’s 150 largest publicly traded companies. While the SV150 cut payrolls by 6 percent, Apple went on a hiring binge, adding 2,300 employees to the fold, a 7 percent increase in its work force.

The pace of hiring accelerated in the company’s fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 25. In that year, Apple added another 12,300 employees, raising its number of full-time workers to 46,600, a 36 percent jump. Over the same period, Apple’s R&D spending soared 38 percent, and it opened 44 retail stores, ending the year with 317.

Apple’s innovation is not only relentless but also ruthless. No company is more willing to kill its babies. Rather than wait for competitors to draw the knife, Jobs does the deed himself.    In 2005, Apple killed off the popular iPod Mini to make way for the even-sleeker digital music player, the iPod Nano.    Apple executives readily acknowledge that the iPhone is cannibalizing its iPods, and the iPad tablet ultimately could threaten the company’s core laptop business.

Apple never skimps on R&D spending, even in a recession.

PAUL SAKUMA ASSOCIATED PRESS    Apple’s iPad may threaten its core product — laptops. Apple’s willingness to kill off older products in favor of more-innovative ones is key to its success, experts say.

PAUL SAKUMA ASSOCIATED PRESS    Among Apple’s innovations is the iPhone. When it premiered in 2007, it revolutionized the market for smart phones, the must-have product of the decade.

App store hits 10 billion downloads

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple says that its app store has hit the 10 billion downloads mark.    The milestone was announced Saturday on Apple Inc.’s website.    The company has sold tens of millions of iPhones since the device launched in 2007 and continues to expand the use of apps with its iPad tablet computer. Its app store has drawn an army of software developers hoping to piggyback on the company’s success. The store boasts more than 350,000 programs for the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.    Apple had said it would give the 10 billionth person to download an app a $10,000 gift card to its iTunes store. The winner is Gail Davis of Orpington, Kent, in England.

January 29, 2011



Scientists genetically engineer silkworms to spin spider silk and create a fiber that they hope            will be stronger than steel



Researchers added spider DNA to this silkworm so it can spin super-strong silk.

Scientists who meddle with the fabric of life are destined to meet an ugly fate. It’s a theme repeated again and again in novels and movies.    Take Frankenstein or Jurassic Park.

So why would Notre Dame University researcher Malcolm Fraser create a caterpillar that’s part silkworm and part spider?  Don’t worry, Fraser said he has no plans to create an army of giant spider-moths. What he wants to do is create a fiber that’s stronger than steel, yet lighter than the material that makes silkworms so valuable to the garment industry.      “They’re not as strong as spider silk yet,” Fraser said. “We believe it’s a matter of a few tweaks and it will be as strong as spider silk, if not stronger.”

His work fits in a rapidly growing field of research called transgenics, in which genes from one organism are spliced into another’s DNA.    It’s not exactly new. Farmers, for example, have for years used genetically altered corn and soybeans that tolerate glyphosate, an herbicide sold under the brand name Roundup.

At Ohio State University, researcher Kichoon Lee is splicing segments of DNA linked to human and animal muscle development into quail embryos. The plan is to identify gene-produced proteins that help the birds grow meatier after they hatch.      Lee said the research could help farmers identify and breed chickens that are more likely to grow bigger. He said his work also could lead to methods to quickly heal muscle injuries in people.

But back to Fraser and his spider-worms. He said his research holds the promise of creating a fiber that could be used in lighter, more-durable clothing. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel. One species found in Madagascar can produce an “anchor line” that can extend more than 80 feet without breaking.    Another type of spider produces silk that is almost as elastic as a rubber band, according to Randy Lewis, a University of Wyoming molecular biologist who has identified the proteins in spider silk and the genes that produce them.

Finding the right spider is half the battle. Spider silk cannot be mass-produced because, unlike silk worms, spiders don’t respond well to captivity. In fact, they eat one another.    And Lewis said efforts to artificially assemble web proteins in the same combination created by a spider’s spinnerets haven’t worked.      The idea to use a silkworm came from Kim Thompson, an entrepreneur based in Lansing, Mich., who created a company to develop and sell spider-silk-inspired fibers.    Using Lewis’ research and advice, Fraser transferred the genes that make spider silk proteins into silkworm embryos. He also inserted genes that make bioluminescent proteins so that the hybrid worms and the spider proteins in their silk could be identified with ultraviolet light.    When the light is shined on them, the silk grows green and the worms’ eyes glow red.

Using different genetic combinations, Fraser has created 20 strains of silkworm, each of which produces fibers that are a combination of silk and spider web.    “They are basically a protein bioreactor,” he said.    Fraser said more research must   be done to analyze the molecular structure of these composite fibers. So far, he has been able to produce strands that are nearly twice as strong as silkworm silk.    “We don’t know exactly what the proportions are between the spider silk and the silkworm silk,” Fraser said.    The altered silkworms pass on their spider genes to their offspring, he said, eliminating the need to constantly create silkworms in the lab.    Thompson said he hopes to sell the combined fibers to fabric-makers. Stronger fibers could help create lighter bullet-resistant vests and explosion-resistant walls and barriers.    “We believe that we can make it stronger than spider silk, based on what we’ve learned so far,” Thompson said. “We don’t believe that what’s in nature is the limit at all.”

NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY      The fibers produced by the mutated silkworm glow green because they include tagged proteins found in spider silk.

How to create a spider-silkworm

A team led by a Notre Dame University researcher has created a mutant silkworm that spins spider silk. How they did it:

  • STEP 1    Scientists identify the genes in a spider that produce the complex proteins found in spider silk.
  • STEP 2    The spider genes are placed inside a silkworm embryo using a process that uses a segment of parasitic DNA that inserts itself and the genetic material it carries into the DNA of the silkworm.
  • STEP 3    Researchers examine the mutated silkworm for evidence that the spider DNA is now part of the organism. This is first revealed through genetic “tags” inserted into the silkworm DNA that produce proteins that glow in ultraviolet light.
  • STEP 4    The silk is analyzed to determine how spider and silkworm proteins combine to create a ”hybrid” fiber. Researchers hope this could be used to make new athletic clothing, bulletproof vests and even airbags for cars.    Source: Notre Dame University; University of Wyoming; KraigBiocraft Laboratories Inc.

Wikileaks “leaker” – was a problem

Army knew leaker was a problem, probe says

Leaders had been told not to deploy WikiLeaks suspect


WASHINGTON — Investigators have concluded that Army commanders ignored advice not to send to Iraq an Army private who is now accused of downloading hundreds of thousands of sensitive reports and diplomatic cables that ended up on the Wiki-Leaks website, McClatchy Newspapers has learned.

Pfc. Bradley Manning’s direct supervisor warned that Manning had thrown chairs at colleagues and shouted at higher-ranking soldiers in the year he was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., and advised that Manning shouldn’t be sent to Iraq, where his job would entail accessing classified documents through the Defense Department’s computer system.

But superior officers decided to ignore the advice because the unit was short of intelligence analysts and needed Manning’s skills, two military officials familiar with the investigation said. The commanders hoped they could address Manning’s discipline problems in Iraq, the officials said, but then never properly monitored him. One commander after another assumed that someone else was addressing Manning’s problems, one official said. Both officials spoke anonymously because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation.

Investigators are considering whether they should recommend disciplinary action against at least three officers in Manning’s chain of command. Investigators must submit their findings to Army Secretary John McHugh by Tuesday.    It’s the second time in just more than a year that Army practices have come under intense internal scrutiny after a major security failing.

A similar probe after an Army psychiatrist opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, killing 13, also focused on how superiors failed to take action despite signs that Maj. Nidal Hasan was seriously disaffected and might turn violent. That probe, which the Pentagon has yet to make public, resulted in 47 recommendations for changes in Army procedures, including granting supervisors better access to personnel records and imposing better screening for threats from Internet sources. Although none of Hasan’s supervisors has been disciplined, they still could face charges or administrative actions, Army officials have said.

Army commanders declined to comment on the record about the Manning investigation or the Hasan probe.      Manning, 23, is being held at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., facing eight charges that could result in a 52-year prison sentence. Hasan is awaiting court martial on murder charges in Texas that could result in the death penalty.    Manning isn’t cooperating with investigators, and prosecutors still don’t know how the hundreds of thousands of documents and files he allegedly downloaded reached WikiLeaks.

(It is certainly clear that everyone has a lot to do – – most of us have so-called full-plates these days. . . but with authority, comes responsibility.   On the surface (given our limited data-base we have here) it would appear that many are dropping the ball.   The results are terrible.  Too many are paying hugely for those who do not do their jobs with diligence and integrity.

This relates not only to our armed forces, but in the educational system and just simple common decency  on a personal level.   It is painful and destructive to be isolated and alone, without any kind of social net (work).  If only we could all make a bigger effort to “just get along”.      Jan)

January 28, 2011

Who’s Mountain Rose Herbs?

. . and Why Anyone Should Care!

(Hand-cream doesn’t seem to work for me and the older I get, the worse the problem.  Online search showed me that I was not alone and was properly-whelmed to acquire some terrific sounding recipes along with techniques!  One of them which I’m using –,  cited MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS as her source for organic everything to get the job done.

First bought my Wheat-grass, Kelp and Spirulina powders from Mountain Rose  for my going RAW efforts and have been delighted with each.  Easy to use, reasonably priced and I know my safety is excellent because it is all organic.   Their cite is beautiful and exciting – – the more you look, the better it gets.  They have teaching videos (YouTube) and how-to’s on many cosmetics; hand creams and lotions; salves,  lip balm; how to make potions and elixirs .  .  .   getting to feel like Merlin.

Because of some “dental/gum problem in the family- grand-kid still in braces and even myself,  got some “neem” oil to help deal/heal the gums.  How-to came from Nadine Artemis from Living Libations.  She is one brilliant young lady whose mission is to teach how to care for your teeth on your own – properly.   So now, making own tooth powder with sea salt, baking powder, ground sage and a little oil essence (for flavor).  Teeth feeling great, cleaner and for sure SAFER.  Nadine is worth listening to. Google her name will bring up little mini videos.  Her site shows many items one can buy.  I notice the ingredients and do my best to duplicate.   Salt water rinse vital – re-establishes alkalinity in mouth, necessary for health of mouth, gums and teeth.  Per Nadine, we can even re-mineralize that enamel people have lost with all the harsh treatment our teeth get via ADA. Learned about Nadine from a past year with David Wolfe;   she was showcased and extremely popular.   Would I steer you wrong?   When it works for me. . . I feel I can attest to it for you.   Stay well,      Jan)


Company Committed to Organic

“For us, organic doesn’t only mean a tastier and more viable product,” Shawn Donnille, co-owner and operations manager of Mountain Rose Herbs, told Organic Connections. “The social and environmental benefits of organic products are priceless. If we are to find a sound and justifiable solution for the ecological crises we are faced with in the twenty-first century, we need to start with how our food is produced. Organic agriculture encourages healthy soil; it contributes to maintaining a healthy watershed, and it protects the health of the people who produce it and the people who consume it. For Mountain Rose Herbs, we could not imagine a more pressing issue.”

It is so pressing that all the way back in 2001 Donnille, shortly after his hiring at the company, proposed that Mountain Rose Herbs eradicate all conventionally grown products from their product line. Although it may sound odd, this was actually a first in the organic herb industry.

“Back then—and even to this day—you will find that every herbal products company out there offers organic herbs and spices while simultaneously selling conventionally grown herbs and spices alongside them,” Donnille explained. “This has me utterly perplexed because you cannot espouse the benefits of organic agriculture and implore everyone to live an organic lifestyle while contradicting yourself by selling conventionally grown materials side by side with organic ones. We decided back then that our commitment to organic agriculture began with our promise to never allow conventionally grown items into our product list and warehouse, and we knew it was not going to be easy to implement.

“This took years to accomplish, and it meant that we would have to be intimately engaged at the farming level. We helped establish eleven certified organic farms throughout the Pacific Northwest that produce exclusively for our needs. In addition, we also developed contracts with organic producers out of our state and overseas who would dedicate themselves to producing herbs, spices and teas exclusively for Mountain Rose Herbs. Between our domestic farms and overseas production, we are able to deliver our strictly organic guarantee. This concerted effort enabled us to completely abandon environmentally destructive agricultural practices, and we are happy to announce that we are the only commercial herb and spice company who has done so to this day.”

Click any image above to see a larger version.

Donnille also pointed out the importance of the human factor in their business dealings. “The growers we deal with are the result of years’ worth of friendly negotiations and convivial conversation. They know what we expect and how strong our views are, and as such they are much more ready to comply with our passion for absolute environmental commitment in everything we do. It basically comes down to the trust we have formed in our partnerships and the faith we place in our friendships.”

As it grows, the company plans to only expand its protective activities.

“Our big plan for the next couple of years is to purchase a 300- to 500-acre conventional farm with the sole intent of transforming it into an organic facility,” Donnille said. “We are also adamant about purchasing a farm directly adjacent to one of our major river systems so as to better enhance its health and vitality with organic agriculture and sound farming practices, which work to enhance aquatic communities. We intend to do this by giving up the immediate area of the farm along the river to one of the watershed organizations we chose for the purpose of protecting and enhancing that area for future posterity. This project in itself is massive and it will take us several years to accomplish.”

For more information on Mountain Rose Herbs, visit their website at

Shawn Donnille and Julie Bailey inspecting the quality of our freshly harvested organic Echinacea root at our Northern Farm

January 27, 2011

Dr Campbell/”The China Study”

NW YORK TIMES  January 7, 2011, 

Nutrition Advice From the China Study


Six years ago a small Texas publisher released an obscure book written by a father-son research team. The work, based on a series of studies conducted in rural China and Taiwan, challenged the conventional wisdom about health and nutrition by espousing the benefits of a plant-based diet.

T. Colin Campbell T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

To everyone’s surprise, the book, called “The China Study,” has since sold 500,000 copies, making it one of the country’s best-selling nutrition titles. The book focuses on the knowledge gained from the China Study, a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine that showed high consumption of animal-based foods is associated with more chronic disease, while those who ate primarily a plant-based diet were the healthiest.

Last fall, former President Bill Clinton even cited the book in explaining how he lost 24 pounds by converting to a plant-based diet in hopes of improving his heart health. The president gave up dairy, switching to almond milk, and says he lives primarily on beans and other legumes, vegetables and fruit, although he will, on rare occasions, eat fish.

Recently, I spoke with T. Colin Campbell, a co-author of the book and professor emeritus at Cornell University, about the success of the book, the research behind it, and why he thinks the nation’s health woes can be solved by plant-based eating. Here’s our conversation.

Q. How did you end up writing this book?
A. I have been in the field for a long time and had a major research program at Cornell. We published a lot of research over the years. My program had a good reputation. I’d finally gotten to a point where we’d discovered a lot of things that were very exciting, things that were provocative. Finally I sat down to write the book, to tell my story.
Q. What was so unusual about your story?
A. In the beginning of my career I was teaching nutrition in a very classical sense. Nutrient by nutrient. That’s the way we did research, that’s the way I taught it. I came to believe, after doing the work we did in the Philippines and China, that there was a very different world of understanding nutrition. I ended up with a view now that is almost diametrically opposed to what I had when I started my career.
Q. How have your views changed?
A. I was raised on a dairy farm. I milked cows. I went away to graduate school at Cornell University, and I thought the good old American diet is the best there is. The more dairy, meat and eggs we consumed, the better. The early part of my career was focused on protein, protein, protein. It was supposed to solve the world’s ills. But when we started doing our research, we found that when we start consuming protein in excess of the amount we need, it elevates blood cholesterol and atherosclerosis and creates other problems.

The problem is that we study one nutrient out of context. That’s the way we did research — one vitamin at a time, one mineral, one fat. It was always in a reductionist, narrowly focused way. But I learned that protein is not quite what we thought it was. We’ve distorted our diet seriously through the ages, and we have all the problems we have because of that distortion.

What loomed large for me was that we shouldn’t be thinking in a linear way that A causes B. We should be thinking about how things work together. It’s a very complex biological system. The body is always trying to restore health every microsecond of our lives. How do we furnish the resources for the body to use? In order to try to understand that, we shouldn’t be giving ourselves individual nutrient supplements. We shouldn’t be trying to discover which gene causes what. But those two areas have become the major focus of research over the years.

Q. So how should we be eating?
A. I don’t use the word “vegan” or “vegetarian.” I don’t like those words. People who chose to eat that way chose to because of ideological reasons. I don’t want to denigrate their reasons for doing so, but I want people to talk about plant-based nutrition and to think about these ideas in a very empirical scientific sense, and not with an ideological bent to it.

The idea is that we should be consuming whole foods. We should not be relying on the idea that genes are determinants of our health. We should not be relying on the idea that nutrient supplementation is the way to get nutrition, because it’s not. I’m talking about whole, plant-based foods. The effect it produces is broad for treatment and prevention of a wide variety of ailments, from cancer to heart disease to diabetes.

Q. Do you advocate a 100 percent plant-based diet?
A. We eat that way, meaning my family, our five grown children and five grandchildren. We all eat this way now. I say the closer we get to a plant-based diet the healthier we are going to be.

It’s not because we have data to show that 100 percent plant-based eating is better than 95 percent. But if someone has been diagnosed with cancer or heart disease, it’s smart to go ahead and do the whole thing. If I start saying you can have a little of this, a little of that, it allows them to deviate off course. Our taste preferences change. We tend to choose the foods we become accustomed to, and in part because we become addicted to them, dietary fat in particular.

If we go to a plant-based diet, at first it might be difficult, but it turns out after a month or two our taste preferences change and we discover new tastes and feel a lot better, and we don’t want to go back. It’s not a religion with me, it’s just that the closer we get to a 100 percent plant-based diet, the better off we’re going to be.

Q. Have you been surprised by the success of your book?
A. I have been a little surprised. When I finished writing the book with my son, who had just finished medical school, I didn’t know how well it was going to do. We had an agent who shopped the manuscript around, and the publishers all wanted 60 to 70 percent of the pages to be recipes. I said, “That’s not my shtick.” They wanted me to dumb it down.

I went to a small publisher in Texas who let us do what we wanted to do. I didn’t want to proselytize and preach. I didn’t want to write a book that says, “This is the way it has to be.” It’s a chronology. Here’s how I learned it, and let the reader decide. I say, “If you don’t believe me, just try it.” They do, and they get results. And then they tell everybody else.

January 26, 2011

Dr knows food? ya sure?


Published: September 16, 2010                                                                                                                                                                                 Doctor and Patient

Teaching Doctors About Nutrition and Diet


Within days of being accepted into medical school, I started getting asked for medical advice. Even my closest friends, who should have known better, got in on the action.

“Should I take vitamins?”

“What do you think of this diet?”

“Is yogurt good for me or not?”

Each and every time someone posed such a query, I became immediately cognizant of one thing: the big blank space in my brain. After all, even with medical school acceptance in hand, I was no more a doctor than they were.

But I also soon realized that many of their questions had nothing to do with medications or operations, or even diseases. With all the newspaper and television reports about newly discovered carcinogens and the latest diets and miracle nutrients, what my friends and acquaintances really wanted to know was just what they should or should not eat.

Years later, as a newly minted doctor on the wards seeing real patients, I found myself in the same position. I was still getting a lot of questions about food and diet. And I was still hesitating when answering. I wasn’t sure I knew that much more after medical school than I did before.

One day I mentioned this uncomfortable situation to another young doctor. “Just consult the dietitians if you have a problem,” she said after listening to my confession. “They’ll take care of it.” She paused for a moment, looked suspiciously around the nursing station, then leaned over and whispered, “I know we’re supposed to know about nutrition and diet, but none of us really does.”

She was right. And nearly 20 years later, she may still be.

Research has increasingly pointed to a link between the nutritional status of Americans and the chronic diseases that plague them. Between the growing list of diet-related diseases and a burgeoning obesity epidemic, the most important public health measure for any of us to take may well be watching what we eat.

But few doctors are prepared to effectively spearhead or even help in those efforts. In the mid-1980s, the National Academy of Sciences published a landmark report highlighting the lack of adequate nutrition education in medical schools; the writers recommended a minimum of 25 hours of nutrition instruction. Now, in a study published this month, it appears that even two and a half decades later a vast majority of medical schools still fail to meet the minimum recommended 25 hours of instruction.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill asked nutrition educators from more than 100 medical schools to describe the nutrition instruction offered to their students. While the researchers learned that almost all schools require exposure to nutrition, only about a quarter offered the recommended 25 hours of instruction, a decrease from six years earlier, when almost 40 percent of schools met the minimum recommendations. In addition, four schools offered nutrition optionally, and one school offered nothing at all. And while a majority of medical schools tended to intersperse lectures on nutrition in standard, required courses, like biochemistry or physiology, only a quarter of the schools managed to have a single course dedicated to the topic.

“Nutrition is really a core component of modern medical practice,” said Kelly M. Adams, the lead author and a registered dietitian who is a research associate in the department of nutrition at the university. “There may be some pathologists or other kinds of doctors who don’t encounter these issues later, but many will, and they aren’t getting enough instruction while in medical school.”

For the last 15 years, to help schools with their nutrition curriculum, the University of North Carolina has offered a series of instruction modules free of charge. Initially delivered by CD-ROM and now online, the program, Nutrition in Medicine, is an interactive multimedia series of courses covering topics like the molecular mechanism of cancer nutrition, pediatric obesity, dietary supplements and nutrition in the elderly.

“Physicians have enough barriers trying to provide their patients with nutritional counseling,” Ms. Adams said. “Inadequate nutritional education does not need to be one of them.”

Ms. Adams and her colleagues believe that the fully developed online curriculum helps address two issues that frequently arise: the relative dearth of faculty in a medical school with appropriate expertise and the lack of time in an already packed course of study.

The flexibility of the online program has already helped students at the Texas Tech School of Medicine in Lubbock. Medical school teachers at Texas Tech, which has one of the best nutrition education programs in the country, were finding that they had difficulty maintaining the intensity and quality of instruction once more senior medical students began working in hospitals scattered across the school’s widely dispersed campuses. Students at a hospital that had the luxury of a trained faculty member, for example, would be immersed in a diabetes workshop that involved “becoming diabetic” for a week and regularly checking blood sugar readings and self-administering “insulin” through a needle and syringe, while students at another hospital would be left with no instruction at all. The online Nutrition in Medicine course allowed all the students to continue learning about diet and counseling patients despite their disparate locations and resources.

“We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel at other campuses when we already had these online courses that are so well done,” said Katherine Chauncey, a registered dietitian and a professor of clinical family medicine at Texas Tech.

More recently, Ms. Adams and her colleagues have begun working on online nutrition education programs geared toward practicing physicians. “Many of them are realizing that their training wasn’t adequate enough to make them feel comfortable counseling patients,” Ms. Adams said. Short, focused and relatively easy to navigate, these courses are meant to help fill in those gaps in knowledge for older doctors. Eventually, practicing physicians may even be able to earn continuing medical education credits, a requirement of many hospitals, state licensing boards and specialty boards.

“It’s extremely difficult to get people to change their diets and their habits around food,” Ms. Adams said. “Anything that improves a doctor’s confidence and skill set will go a long way in helping patients.”

Added Dr. Chauncey: “You can’t just keep writing out script after script after script of new medications when diet is just as important as drugs or any other treatment a patient may be using.”

Ancient Arctic Forest

Ancient Arctic forest offers clues to warming


PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOEL BARKER   LEFT: Ellesmere Island was home to the forest before it was buried by an avalanche 2 million to 8 million years ago.

There are no trees on Ellesmere Island, a frozen polar desert that lies on Canada’s northern tip.    In fact, there are few signs of life in this icy wasteland.    While camping there last year, Ohio State University researcher Joel Barker stumbled onto a time capsule buried millions of years ago.

  • What Barker unearthed was a mummified Arctic forest — a discovery scientists say offers a peek into the way plants reacted to climate change eons ago, and perhaps into how arctic areas will respond to global warming today.

“I was talking to a park ranger,  and he mentioned that they had found these logs,” Barker said.    After snagging a few samples, Barker tracked down researchers at the University of Minnesota, who also had seen the wood deposit.    Neither he nor the Minnesota team could pinpoint where on the island the wood — birch, larch, spruce and pine — had come from.    Determined to find the source of the wood, Barker secured a grant from the National Science Foundation and returned to explore the area this year.    And what he found a few miles away was a perfectly   preserved forest that had been smothered by an avalanche 2 million to 8 million years ago.

ABOVE: The ancient remains of trees have been preserved so well that they still could be used for firewood.

“These aren’t just fossils,” Barker said. “You can burn this stuff. It’s just like wood  you would find anywhere today.”    The site is the 12th frozen forest researchers have found in the Arctic.    Barker’s find, however, is the farthest north.    “This was really on the northern edge of where a forest could grow,” said Barker, who presented the findings yesterday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Next, Barker will test tree   rings in order to determine what the temperature, precipitation and other environmental conditions were when the forest was covered.    “At the time that these trees were growing, there was drastic climate change taking place,” said Robert Blanchette, a biologist at the University of Minnesota.    By conducting a chemical analysis of the wood, scientists can determine what life was like millions of years ago in the forest, located 500 miles from the North Pole.    Those findings, and others that might follow another planned trip to the Arctic, might help scientists determine how the world’s coldest regions will respond to ongoing global warming.

January 25, 2011

Vit-D Council – 1-21-11

(It would be a good thing for all to go directly to the Vitamin D Council for all the latest news on the subject.  Following up on the links provided below also is highly informative.  e.g. I did not know there was so much info on YouTurbe.  Jan)

In This Issue
Dr. Cannell responds to a letter from a father whose son was born vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D News
The latest vitamin D headlines from around the globe.

Vitamin D Council YouTube channel
Watch videos about vitamin D.

The untold need for vitamin D during pregnancy

Father and son at pierDear Dr Cannell:

Thank You for solving what has been a mystery to me for 45 years. I am an orthopedic radiographer (RT(R). I am very involved with Dexa scans and Vitamin D.

Until your recent letter I thought that my son just had poor bones when he was an infant. His x-rays in our office looked like it could be a battered child. Thank God I knew better and was believed. He was then sent to physical therapy to help with balance and coordination, where on the first day fell and broke both wrists. The endocrinologists and orthopedists could find no reason for his soft bones.

That was 38 years ago.

He turned out to be a fine young man and a RN. His life was tragically cut short at the age of 30 but I wish he could read your letter and know that it was not his fault or mine that he had so many fractures. Not until I started doing Dexa scans did I have my 25 OH Vitamin D level checked, it was 9 ng/ml.

Thank you for your dedication to the understanding of Vitamin D. At our orthopedic practice, we are still showing about a 70% vitamin D deficiency on new patients. Some of or family practice and primary care gate keepers are finally seeing the light as it used to be about 85%.

Paul Simpson

Read Dr. Cannell’s response >
Related newsletters

Vitamin D Deficiency Rickets: Another Tragedy
Dr. Cannell receives a heartbreaking letter from a mother whose 5 week old daughter was wrongfully removed from her care.

Vitamin D Deficiency Rickets: Another Shattered Family
Dr. Cannell receives an email from a family devastated by false allegations of shaken baby syndrome.

Vitamin D Council
1241 Johnson Ave. #134 San Luis Obispo, California, United States 93401

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