Globe and Mail
MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT
March 4, 2009

Controversial chemical found in at least 84% of canned pop sold in Canada

The estrogen-mimicking chemical BPA, already banished from baby bottles and frowned upon in water jugs, has now shown up in significant levels in soft drinks.

Tests by Health Canada scientists revealed the highest levels were in energy drinks, the often caffeine-loaded beverages that have become popular with teenagers seeking a buzz and athletes chasing a quick pick-me-up. But the study also found the controversial compound in a wide variety of ginger ales, diet colas, root beers and citrus-flavoured sodas.

Bisphenol A was detected in 96 per cent of soft drinks tested, in quantities below regulatory limits. But a growing body of science suggests the chemical may have harmful effects at levels far below those limits.

Health Canada did not disclose the brand names of the beverages it evaluated, but estimated that the survey covered at least 84 per cent of canned soft drinks sold in Canada.

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Richard Alleyne
The Telegraph
March 2, 2009

Compounds from the vegetables mixed with selenium, which is contained in Brazil nuts, have been shown to prevent the skin cancer and work better at attacking tumours than conventional treatment, researchers said.

They believe that mixing isothiocyanates, the substances that give the greens flavour, and selenium found in the nuts, may even be added to sun screen lotion in future.

Laboratory tests suggest that these compounds target tumours more safely and effectively than traditional methods.

Now work is under way to develop the first commercially available drugs made from a cocktail of compounds to fight skin cancer.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University in the US have already made a drug which can halt the growth of skin cancer tumours in mice by up to 60 per cent.

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Sott.net
Mike Adams
Natural News
March 3, 2009

There's a popular medical thriller novel in which a global pandemic is intentionally set off by an evil plot designed to reduce the human population. In the book, a nefarious drug company inserts live avian flu viruses into vaccine materials that are distributed to countries around the world to be injected into patients as "flu shots." Those patients then become carriers for these highly-virulent strains of avian flu which go on to infect the world population and cause widespread death.

There's only one problem with this story: It's not fiction. Or, at least, the part about live avian flu viruses being inserted into vaccine materials isn't fiction. It's happening right now.

Deerfield, Illinois-based pharmaceutical company Baxter International Inc. has just been caught shipping live avian flu viruses mixed with vaccine material to medical distributors in 18 countries. The "mistake" (if you can call it that, see below...) was discovered by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Canada. The World Health Organization was alerted and panic spread throughout the vaccine community as health experts asked the obvious question: How could this have happened?

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Sott.net
Laura Sanders
Science News
March 3, 2009

Sweet reversal: Harmful effects of fructose traced to one protein in a study of mice.

Knocking out a liver protein in mice can reverse the damaging effects of a super-sweet diet. Diets loaded with high-fructose corn syrup wreak havoc on metabolic processes, but how fructose does its damage has been a mystery. The new study, appearing in the March 4 Cell Metabolism, identifies a possible culprit, a protein in the liver called PGC-1 beta.

The new research is "putting together things that we know and making a link," comments Carlos Hernandez of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The paper highlights the importance of PGC-1 beta in the whole process, says Hernandez, who wrote a commentary in the same issue of Cell Metabolism on the new research.

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By Martha Rosenberg, AlterNet
February 28, 2009

Pfizer is planting fake medical articles and issuing unbranded "PSAs" to push pills? Again? Say it ain't so.

Even as new reports surface about alleged fake medical articles Pfizer planted to sell seizure drug Neurontin for unapproved uses from 1995 to 2002, it looks like deja vu all over again.

Pfizer gave nonprofits $2.1 million in grants in 2008 for medical courses about the pain-and-fatigue ailment fibromyalgia for which its Neurontin follow-up pill, Lyrica, just happens to be approved.

Lyrica (pregablin), facetiously called Son of Neurontin at Pfizer, was discovered by Northwestern University chemist Richard Silverman in 1989, earning the university a cool $700 million when it sold royalties in late 2007.

It is funding the $100 million Richard and Barbara Silverman Hall for Molecular Therapeutics & Diagnostics, under construction now, which will employ 245 faculty, staff and research assistants and hopefully lead to other promising molecules.

Like Neurontin (gabapentin), Lyrica (Pregablin) is an antiepilepsy drug (AED) that modulates calcium channels to dampen the excitability of nerve endings and seizure activity. And, like Neurontin which made $3 billion a year from unapproved uses like bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder and restless legs syndrome, Pfizer has high hopes for its "crossover appeal."

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Treehugger.com
by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York
on February 27, 2009
Business & Politics


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Photo via SF Gate

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Reuters
Pete Harrison
March 2, 2009

Austria and Hungary reaffirmed their sovereign right on Monday to ban growing genetically modified maize after EU environment ministers squashed more attempts by the European Commission to lift the restrictions.

In a stinging rebuff to the EU's executive arm, an overwhelming majority of countries -- at least 21 out of the bloc's 27 member states -- voted against draft orders for Vienna and Budapest to end their GM crop bans within 20 days.

EU law provides for national GMO bans under certain cicumstances if the government can justify the prohibition.

It was the third time that the Commission had tried to get Austria's bans lifted and the second time for Hungary, with all the attempts roundly rejected by ministers in the past.

National GMO bans are the only area of EU biotech policy where countries can muster enough consensus under the bloc's complex weighted voting rules to secure an agreement. On applications for new GM products, for example, they are always deadlocked, leading to default approvals by the Commission.

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The New York Times
February 26, 2009
By BARRY MEIER and BENEDICT CAREY

The Justice Department charged the drug maker Forest Laboratories on Wednesday with defrauding the government of millions of dollars by illegally marketing the popular antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro for unapproved uses in children and teenagers.

In a civil complaint filed by the United States attorney’s office in Boston, federal prosecutors alleged that former top executives at Forest concealed for several years a clinical study that showed that the drugs were not effective in children and might even pose risks to them, including causing some to become suicidal.

From 2001 to 2004, Forest heavily promoted results from another clinical trial it had financed that showed that the drugs were effective, without disclosing the negative study to those researchers, its own medical advisers or its sales representatives, the complaint said.

An official of Forest, which is based in Manhattan, said the company’s lawyers were reviewing the complaint and did not have an immediate comment. Celexa and Lexapro are two versions of the same drug, citalopram. The drugs are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for adults.

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Alternet
By Amy Goodman, Truthdig
February 25, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/128912/

Is your lipstick laden with lead? Is your baby's bottle toxic? The American Chemistry Council assures us that "we make the products that help keep you safe and healthy." But U.S. consumers are actually exposed to a vast array of harmful chemicals and additives embedded in toys, cosmetics, plastic water bottles and countless other products. U.S. chemical and manufacturing industries have fought regulation, while Europe moves ahead with strict prohibitions against the most harmful toxins. The European Union says regulation is good for business, inspiring consumer confidence and saving money over the long term.

Most people would be surprised to learn that the cosmetics industry in the United States is largely unregulated. Investigative journalist Mark Schapiro is the author of "Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power." In the absence of oversight, researchers and journalists like Schapiro and grass-roots organizations have stepped into the breach.

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Cymbalta Crisis

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OpEdNews
February 25, 2009
By Sandra Thornton

After noticing a change in TV ads for Cymbalta, now only claiming to help with depression, I was led to do extensive research on the internet as well as using valuable input from my fellow victims of fibromyalgia, and what I found was appalling.

Per FDA requirements each potential drug requires three phases of testing. Phase I of testing assesses the safety and tolerability of the drug. Phase II tests the efficacy of the drug, and Phase III tests the effects from long-term use of the drug and builds on the findings of two previous phases to further evaluate safety and effectiveness. These three phases are long and grueling… The company then submits application to the FDA for approval, a process that can take up to 2 ½ years. It takes approximately an average of 12 years to get a new drug from the laboratory unto the pharmacy shelf.

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