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Black Women’s Health Study Shows High Death Rate For African American Women With Sarcoidosis. But why? That Is The Real Question That Little Has Been Done To Answer.

A new study has been released demonstrating a high death rate for African American women with the disease sarcoidosis.  Boston University researchers determined that  sarcoidosis accounts for 25 precent of deaths among African American women who identified that they had the disease in the Black Women’s Health Study

Sarcoidosis is a disease that causes inflammation of the lungs, liver, skin, lymph nodes and other tissues.  It usually develops in individuals between the ages of 20 and 40.  For most patients it is a disease that attacks their lungs.  The most high profile person to have had the disease and die was the former comedian Bernie Mac.

The next question is now that we have this information what can be done to prevent early deaths from sarcoidosis.  Unfortunately that is not an easy answer.  There is very little research on the why and how people develop and die from sarcoidosis.  The following quote from researcher Dr. Melissa Tukey sums up the point:

“"Despite the disproportionate morbidity and mortality of sarcoidosis in black females, few studies have specifically addressed causes of death in this population," said study lead author Melissa Tukey, MD, pulmonary and critical care medicine fellow at Boston Medical Center.”

Information such as this should continue to raise awareness of the lack of research and funding for research that look into the diseases that affect African Americans.  This disparity in research should not be acceptable to anyone in our society.

Last week there were many stories in the media with glaring headlines that for the first time in the history of the United States the birth rates of “minorities” were higher than those of “whites”.  While many focused on the social and political points of this story, many missed one of the major issues which was the affect of this change in birthrates on healthcare.  America is quickly becoming a majority minority nation and we can no longer afford to have research policies and practices that ignore the health issues of this emerging majority.  If we do not see radical changes in funding for research that looks at diseases such as sarcoidosis, the future healthcare costs of treating those with these types of diseases will cripple our nation.

We hope that policy makers, ummm are you listening Congressional Black Caucus, use this latest information to request that the White House review current oversight of research grants and consider focusing on increasing funding for research of diseases that will become far more common as the ethnic makeup of our nation changes.

You can read the press release on this study by following the link.  We close by thanking the research team from Boston University for conducting and publishing this research.

Amy’s Food Announces They Has Removed BPA From Their Canned Food Products. When Will Campbell’s Soup Follow Amy’s Lead? Don’t Hold Your Breath.

We always want to recognize those corporations in the United States that continue to express concern for consumer safety and health by removing BPA from their products.  Corporations such as Whole Food Markets and Kroger took an early lead by switching their cash register receipt tapes to those that did not contain BPA.  The next step is corporations taking BPA out of their canned food products and we are happy to see that one company has made that happen.

Today we are greeted with the news that Amy’s has announced that they have completed their planned transition of the production of all its canned products to a non-BPA liner.  As a consumer who loves Amy’s organic canned chili we are happy to read this.  Amy’s decision and implementation of non-BPA liners in all their canned food products demonstrates that this can be done if the corporation is committed to doing it.  Here is what Amy’s had to say about their decision to do this.

““Amy’s has rigorously tested the newest non-BPA can linings and chosen the most safe and effective option available. It is important that consumers understand that BPA is omnipresent in the environment from a multitude of sources. Tests on our canned products with the new liner show extraordinarily low BPA levels of less than 1 part per billion,” said Berliner.

Once Amy’s chose the best can option, it took more than a year for the can industry to provide sufficient inventory for Amy’s to ensure that all of their cans could be made with this new non-BPA liner.

Due to public outcry and concerns, many other food companies have made recent announcements that they will begin, or consider, a transition to non-BPA cans. In contrast, Amy’s has already quietly and efficiently made the complete transition as of March 1, 2012.

“We know that busy, health conscious families count on us for delicious organic meals every day. The trust of our consumers is critically important. We want them to know that we have taken every step to make sure that not only is our food always safe, but our packaging is equally safe,” added Rachel Berliner, Co-founder.”"

Are you watching Campbell Soups?  It is not enough to announce that you will make the switch to non-BPA liners anymore.  It is time for all other food producers to follow Amy’s lead and put consumer health and safety before profits.  Stop making promises and do it.

We want to thank Amy’s for making this switch.  We look forward to enjoying Amy’s chili on our hotdogs, burgers and fries this summer.

You can view the entire press release by following the link.  You can visit Amy’s website by clicking here.

New Study Demonstrates Further Connection Between BPA Exposure And Development Of Breast Cancer

A new study has been published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America that demonstrates further evidence of a connection between exposure to bisphenol a (BPA) and the future development of breast cancer.  Here is a quick overview:

“This study assessed the effects of BPA on fetal mammary gland development in nonhuman primates. Pregnant rhesus monkeys were fed 400 μg of BPA per kg of body weight daily from gestational day 100 to term, which resulted in 0.68 ± 0.312 ng of unconjugated BPA per mL of maternal serum, a level comparable to that found in humans. At birth, the mammary glands of female offspring were removed for morphological analysis. Morphological parameters similar to those shown to be affected in rodents exposed prenatally to BPA were measured in whole-mounted glands; estrogen receptor (ER) α and β expression were assessed in paraffin sections. Student's t tests for equality of means were used to assess differences between exposed and unexposed groups. The density of mammary buds was significantly increased in BPA-exposed monkeys, and the overall development of their mammary gland was more advanced compared with unexposed monkeys. No significant differences were observed in ER expression. Altogether, gestational exposure to the estrogen-mimic BPA altered the developing mammary glands of female nonhuman primates in a comparable manner to that observed in rodents.”

So what does this all mean you ask?  The finding by this study continues to build upon previous studies that the exposing female fetus to BPA increases the risk of future development of breast cancer.  If you are pregnant you should consider not eating foods that come from containers (cans and bottles) that contain BPA.

Of course people like the American Chemistry Council will argue that these studies mean nothing about the safety of BPA because they were conducted on “monkeys” and “rodents” and not humans.   What they will not tell you is that is the way that studies like this must be conducted.  It is not ethical to conduct this type of studies on humans.  Unfortunately we have a long and somewhat recent history of horrible acts of secret and unethical medical research such as the Tuskegee Experiment and VD research in Guatemala.

The other interesting part of this growing story of a connection between BPA and breast cancer is the response by Komen.  At what point will Komen be forced to acknowledge the research on BPA and join the call to remove BPA from our food containers?  Or will Komen continue to demonstrate their inability to disagree with their sponsors and continues to chose money over science.

Finally we must ask again why the US Food and Drug Administration decided to take no action regarding BPA just a few weeks ago.  How much more information do you really need before you do what you are charged with doing and protect the public from BPA?  We are all watching and wondering when the FDA will stop being in the pocket of the American Chemistry Council and big plastics.

You can read the abstract of the study by following the link to PNAS website.  We close by thanking the following researches for conducting this study and sharing the information with the public:

Andrew P. Tharp, Maricel V. Maffini, Patricia A. Hunt, Catherine A. VandeVoort, Carlos Sonnenschein and Ana M. Soto

European Food Safety Authority To Conduct New Study On The Health Threats Caused By BPA Exposure. Includes Upcoming Public Discussion By Scientists On The Health Risks Of Low Level Exposure To BPA.

It seems, for the near future at least, that any efforts to remove toxic chemicals from our food system will be driven by scientists in the European Union.  While our own Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does nothing, the European Food Safety Authority has announced that they are starting work on a new risk assessment of bisphenol A.

“The scientific opinion will evaluate dietary and non-dietary exposure to BPA. In support of its new risk assessment, EFSA invites Member States, research institutions, academics, food business operators, packaging business operators and other stakeholders to submit data on BPA, in particular concerning its: occurrence in food and beverages, migration from food contact materials, and occurrence in food contact materials. Deadline: 31 July 2012”

Scheduled to be completed in May of 2013, this new risk assessment includes an upcoming forum hosted by EFSA to discuss the possible low-dose effects of BPA on our health on June 14 and 15 in Parma Italy.   What we find funny is that the current agenda for the discussion includes the following:



Dose response relationships: biological and modeling aspects Jason Aungst, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, US Questions

Maybe having someone from our own FDA at this event will make our FDA reconsider their ongoing lack of efforts to address health safety issues connected to BPA in food containers here in the USA.  Of course maybe the point of anyone from the FDA participating in this event is to ensure that our own corporate/profit driven consumer safety regulations spread to the E.U.

It will be interesting to watch what actions are taken in the EU regarding BPA.  Many member nations have taken action to remove BPA from some form of consumer products.  France's center right government was the most aggressive by passing law to remove BPA from canned food items.

You can visit the European Food Safety Authority’s website by following the link.

Nebraska Issues Report Showing Continued Disparities In Healthcare For Women Of Color

It seems we can’t go more than a few weeks before we come across another report demonstrating the growing national problem of disparities in healthcare for women of color.  Today’s news of ongoing healthcare disparities comes from the State of Nebraska.

Here is just a sample of what the report issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Women’s Health Advisory Council:

“A report issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Women’s Health Advisory Council shows that while Nebraska is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, women of color continue to experience disparities in deaths, health outcomes, preventive care, health care access, and social determinants of health.

From 2007-2009, Black women in Nebraska were more likely than women of other racial/ethnic groups to die from cancer, heart disease, and stroke.  American Indian women and Hispanic women were more likely to develop diabetes, and American Indian women more likely to die from the disease.

"Addressing health disparities is one of my top priorities," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Department of Health and Human Services.  “While multi-cultural and ethnic issues are challenging, it’s our goal to close the gap and help more Nebraskans live healthier lives."

Racial/ethnic minority women face greater barriers in access to health care and use of recommended preventive services.  Black women were less likely to have mammograms, while Hispanic women were less likely to receive cholesterol screening than White women.  Hispanic and American Indian women were less likely to report having personal doctors.  Minority women were less likely to have doctor visits in the past year, due to cost.”

As our nation continues to focus on healthcare and health insurance issues, it is reports like this that demonstrate that the status quo cannot be the answer to our national healthcare problems.  If you are concerned about healthcare costs, this report demonstrates that by not providing preventive care to everyone we see the development of disease like diabetes that cost our nation large amounts of dollars to treat.  If you are worried about a mandate for health insurance, by not creating a way to ensure that everyone has health insurance (mandate, single payer or any other idea) we create growing disparities in healthcare that cause real harm to women of color.  We need to stop playing politics with healthcare and start implementing a real solution.  The inability to address access to healthcare has real costs to all of us.

The other point that reports such as these by the State of Nebraska demonstrate is that with our nation quickly becoming a “majority minority” nation, we need to ensure that our healthcare professionals start to reflect the diversity of our nation.  We strongly believe that many of the problems in our current healthcare system can be connected to the lack of cultural understanding by healthcare professionals.  There should be no reason for women of color to be less likely to receive cholesterol screenings or mammograms.  But they do and it is a growing problem.

So far the debate/discussions on healthcare reform have been largely silent on the issues of cultural awareness and diversity.  At some point elected officials, healthcare advocates and healthcare professionals associations must bring this issue to the table.  If we don’t start to put in place solutions to cultural issues we will continue to see report after report that demonstrates growing disparities.

We hope that our readers will share this latest report from Nebraska with friends and family.  You can read the media release by following the link.