Control Weight Gain and Prevent Heart Disease with Melatonin?

illustration of how melatonin is produced by the body
Melatonin is produced by body, in food and sold as a suppliment

Melatonin Might Help in Controlling Weight Gain and Preventing Heart Diseases Associated to Obesity

ScienceDaily (Apr. 28, 2011) — University of Granada researchers have proven that melatonin -a natural hormone produced by the body- helps in controlling weight gain -even without reducing the intake of food-, improves blood lipid profile -as it reduces triglicerids-, increases HDL cholesterol and reduces LDL cholesterol.

Melatonin is found in small quantities in some fruits and vegetables as mustard, Goji berries, almonds, sunflower seeds, cardamom, fennel, coriander and cherries. Thus, the intake of this kind of food might help in controlling weight gain and preventing heart diseases associated to obesity and dyslipidemia.

Trials with rats

University of Granada researchers have analyzed in young Zucker diabetic obese rats the effects of melatonin on obesity, dyslipidemia and high blood pressure associated to obesity. Melatonin was found to be beneficial for young rats that had not still developed any methabolic or heart disease. Researchers think that melatonin might help in preventing heart diseases associated to obesity and dyslipidemia.

Finally, authors state that, if this finding is confirmed in humans, administration of melatonin and intake of food containing melatonin might be a useful tool to fight obesity and the risks associated to it.

Continue reading Control Weight Gain and Prevent Heart Disease with Melatonin?

No Whooping It Up in School This Fall

Children without proof they got a whooping cough booster shot may have to miss class in fall 

graph showing increase of cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in California
Don't make this you kid's first lesson in statistics

By Sandeep Ravindran (San Jose Mercury News)

Christopher Carbone, 10, of Cupertino, gets his whooping cough injection…

It’s not even summer break yet, but Melinda Landau already is grimacing at the thought of keeping thousands of students home next school year if they fail to turn in the latest state requirement for anyone entering seventh grade on up: proof they’ve gotten the whooping cough booster vaccine.

“If school started tomorrow, only 4,500 of our 16,000 kids would get to start,” said Landau, the manager for health and family support programs at San Jose Unified School District.
And with public health officials scrambling to keep up after the worst whooping cough outbreak in 63 years, school officials from Gilroy to Palo Alto are urging parents to get their children vaccinated soon — to keep the highly contagious disease from spreading and to meet the new state law, which begins next school year. So far, too few parents are following through.

Less than a third of schoolchildren meet the requirement in the San Jose Unified and Santa Clara Unified school districts, and only about 1 in 10 do in many other districts, health nurses said. Getting everyone immunized statewide is no easy task.

“There’s 3 million students from seventh to 12th grade affected by the new law,” said Robert Schechter, a medical officer with the California Department of Public Health’s immunization branch.

“It has been a huge challenge,” said Eileen Obata, Gilroy Unified district nurse.
Continue reading No Whooping It Up in School This Fall

Electronic Billing Regs Approved In California

graphic of an email stamp
Faster, greener and saves $$$!

California’s Office Of Administrative Law Approves
Electronic And Standardized Medical Treatment Billing Regs

The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has adopted new regulations for standardized paper billing forms and electronic billing standards. The final regulations were approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and filed with the secretary of state on April 18, 2011. Approval of this rulemaking marks the completion of another set of regulations that is part of DWC’s 12-point plan to control medical costs in California’s workers’ compensation system by streamlining and relieving administrative burdens. “California will now be one of the first states in the country to provide for e-billing in workers’ compensation,” said DWC Chief Counsel Destie Overpeck. “These regulations encourage both workers’ comp insurers and medical providers to transition to e-billing, which means providers will get paid faster and more paper will be eliminated from the system.”

The  new regulations will streamline paper billing by standardizing billing forms and making it easier to communicate through the use of standardized bill review messages. Implementation of the electronic billing rules will improve efficiency of the billing and remittance process and produce quicker bill payment. By statute, claims administrators are required to accept electronic bills and may develop their own capacity to accept electronic bills or may contract with a vendor to perform the function. Participation in electronic billing is optional for medical providers.

Provisions relating to paper billing become effective on Oct. 15, 2011 and provisions relating to electronic billing become effective Oct. 18, 2012 in order to allow time for implementation. The regulations satisfy Labor Code section 4603.4 requirements and amend Title 8, California Code of Regulations section 9792.5, and adopt new sections 9792.5.0, 9792.5.1, 9792.5.2, and 9792.5.3.

The approved regulations, including the “Medical Billing and Payment Guide 2011” and the “Electronic Medical Billing and Payment Companion Guide 2012,” as filed with the secretary of state are now available. Also available at the DWC Web site are the final statement of reasons for the rulemaking, a summary of public comments made during the rulemaking and the division’s responses to those comments.

Night Time Might Not Be the Right Time

Evening and Night Work in Elder Care More Stressful!

illustration of a dark night with a crescent moon
Spooky or Stressful?

According to a recent Danish study, worse support from managers, more physical and mental abuse and a higher physical workload leads to more stress for nighttime workers.   That is partly what the staff at evening and night shifts in eldercare experience compared to their counterparts on day shift.
Researcher Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen performed the analysis, with the aim of the doctoral study being to investigate work-related health problems among shift workers in the Danish elderly. The studies were supported by the rate adjustment pool funds.

Questionnaire data collected from a cohort consisting of 2,870 newly-trained social and healthcare helpers and assistants showed that:

1. Upcoming shift workers lived more unhealthy than the next day work, even before they came into work

2. Smoking increased the probability of having evening, night work or work in 2/3-holdsskift night work a year later.

Cross-sectional data from questionnaires collected from 4,590 nursing staff in elder care showed:

1. Evening and night workers experienced lower quantitative requirements (i.e. the requirement to work quickly and cope with large workloads), lower job control, lower support from their leaders, more physical and mental violence, and a higher physical workload in relation to their colleagues on a day shift;

2. Apparently coincidences of adverse health factors among shift workers, which may contribute to why shift workers, are becoming more ill.

Data from an intervention study among 321 employees in elderly care and a follow-up measurement with 297 participants, who completed questionnaires, had blood tests and were interviewed showed:

1. Self-selected working hours increased the proportion of employees who were involved in planning their own working hours, from 19 percent to 97 percent;

2. Study could not demonstrate that self-selected working hours resulting in improved health and wellbeing.

To view the study, click here.


Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See for more information. or 860-553-6604.

Embarrassing Research About Your Brain

embarrassed face illustrationIf your gaffes often leave you embarrassed at social gatherings, blame your brain, scientists say.

Researchers at the University of California found that the feeling of embarrassment which comes with experiences such as hearing one’s own singing is isolated to a thumb-sized bit of tissue deep within the brain.

In people who show low levels of embarrassment — including those with dementia — this brain region is smaller than normal, found the researchers.

“This region is actually essential for this reaction. When you lose this region, you lose this embarrassment response,” lead researcher Virginia Sturm told LiveScience.

According to the researchers, the embarrassment centre is focused in an area called the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex; this tissue resides deep inside your brain, to the front and the right.

This region is integral in regulating many automatic bodily functions, such as sweating, heartbeat and breathing, but also participates in many thinking-related functions, including emotions, reward-searching behaviors (like those implicated in addiction) and decision-making.

“It has projections to higher centers and also has projections down to lower centers,” Sturm said. “It has a dual role in both visceral and also motor reactions.”

Size and shape of brain regions near this one have been associated with differences in personality. It’s believed that the bigger a particular brain region, the more powerful the functions associated with it would be.

For instance, extroverts have larger reward-processing centers, while anxious and self-conscious people have larger error-detection centers. Very giving people have larger areas associated with understanding other’s beliefs, studies have shown.

Those with dementia tend to have lowered levels of embarrassment, even when watching themselves singing miserably. Many things that those with dementia do, such as giving strangers massages or eating off of others’ plates, don’t seem to embarrass them.

When Sturm scanned their brains, she noticed that the less self-conscious and embarrassed the participants were, the smaller this embarrassment region in their cingulate cortex was.

Scanning this region of the brain could help diagnose these conditions earlier, since behavioral and social changes tend to happen before other symptoms that manifest themselves more obviously.

“A better understanding of the emotional changes that occurring in these diseases could be helpful early in the course of disease when the diagnosis might not be so obvious,” said Sturm who presented the findings at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Hawaii.

Health Officials Warn of Possible Measles Infections

pink, red and white spots
Are you seeing spots?

European Tourist with Viral Disease Spent 12 Hours in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara health officials are putting residents on alert after the California Public Health Laboratory reported that a European tourist infected with measles spent time in town.
He visited three locations during his 12-hour stay on March 31 and April 1: Holiday Lodge Motel at 2825 State Street, Shintori Sushi at 3001 State Street the evening of March 31, and Our Daily Bread at 831 Santa Barbara Street the morning of April 1. During that time, officials noted, the 29-year-old man may have exposed people around him to the highly contagious viral disease. The onset of his illness began April 2, and he was infectious from March 29 – April 6.

“A small number of the Santa Barbara public may have been exposed in the locations that the tourist visited, but since he did not spend a substantial time at any of these and he was not yet ill, the risk of transmission is probably low,” reads a statement issued by the county’s Public Health Department. “The period during which any susceptible person in Santa Barbara would become ill is April 8 – April 29.”

Symptoms of a measles infection include a rash that can be pink or take the form of red blotches, fever, cough, runny nose, white spots in the mouth, and red, swollen, watery eyes. “It is usually a moderate to serious illness with intense discomfort, unlike a common cold,” the statement notes. If residents think they may be infected and are exhibiting any of the symptoms described above, the Public Health Department is asking that they contact their medical provider immediately and not go to a doctor’s office or emergency room in order to prevent possible transmission.

Though measles were declared eliminated from the United States in 2000 – thanks to widespread vaccinations – the disease has been imported hundreds of times from foreign countries since then. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 692 reported cases throughout the country from 2001-2010, the vast majority of which were import-associated. Twenty-nine cases were reported in January and February of this year.

CDPH: Do Not Eat Certain Louie’s Brand Sprouts

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Interim Director Dr. Howard Backer today warned people not to eat certain sprouts distributed by Louie Foods International because the sprouts may be contaminated with Salmonella. The contamination was identified during routine testing. To date, no illnesses have been reported.Louie Foods International is recalling all Louie’s brand sprouts with a “Use-By” date on or before 4/14/11.

Products affected by the recall include:

Louie's Sprouts labels
Evidently all sprouts aren't good for you!d

• Louie’s Alfalfa Sprout Mix, 4 oz. cups (UPC 11324 04401)
• Louie’s Alfalfa Sprout Mix, 16 oz. bags (UPC 11324 16401)
• Louie’s Clover Sprouts, 4 oz. cups (UPC 11324 04406)
• Louie’s Clover Sprouts, 16 oz. bags (UPC 11324 04406)
• Louie’s Spicy Sprouts, 4 oz. cups (UPC 11325 04402)
• Louie’s Broccoli Sprouts, 4 oz. cups (UPC 11324 04407)

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea which may be bloody. Most infected people recover within a week. Some may develop complications that require hospitalization. Infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for more severe illness. People who develop symptoms of Salmonella infection after consuming these sprouts should consult their health care provider.

The affected sprouts were sold to California distributors located in the Central Valley and along the Central Coast. Consumers are urged to destroy the above-listed products or to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers may contact
Louie Foods International at (559) 264-2745 for additional information.

Consumers that observe the product being offered for sale are encouraged to report their findings to the CDPH toll-free complaint line at (800) 495-3232.

OSHA Seeks Employer Input On Adding ‘Ergonomics’ Column To Injury/Illness Logs

man in the ultimate ergonomic computer chair
Can I get one of these at Office Max?

Washington, DC (CompNewsNetwork) – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking input from the business community on its proposal to add a column for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) on employer injury and illness logs, known as the form 300 log.OSHA is holding three teleconferences in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy to gather small business input on the proposal.

The proposal would require employers already mandated to keep injury and illness records to add the step of checking a column when recording work-related musculoskeletal disorders, also commonly known as ergonomic injuries.

Interested businesses that wish to participate in one of the teleconferences should contact Regina Powers at by April 4 and indicate the teleconference in which they wish to participate.

Proposed Rule

The proposed rule covers only MSDs that employers already are required to record under the longstanding OSHA rule on recordkeeping.

Before 2001, OSHA’s injury and illness logs contained a column for repetitive trauma disorders that included hearing loss and many kinds of MSDs. In 2001, OSHA proposed separating hearing loss and MSDs into two columns, but the MSD column was deleted in 2003 before the provision went into effect. OSHA’s proposal would restore the MSD column to the Form 300.