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Study: High levels of vitamin D associated with bowel cancer survivability

BY Michael Johnsen

EDINBURGH, England — Bowel cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to survive the disease, according to a study released Wednesday and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Patients with the highest levels of vitamin D have half the risk of dying compared with those with the lowest levels, according to the research.
 
The study is the first to correlate total blood levels of vitamin D in bowel cancer patients after their diagnosis — which includes that produced after exposure to sunlight and that obtained from dietary sources — with their long-term survival prospects.
 
The University of Edinburgh team tested blood samples from almost 1,600 patients after surgery for bowel cancer.
 
The greatest benefit of vitamin D was seen in patients with stage-2 disease, at which the tumour may be quite large but the cancer has not yet spread.
 
Researchers found that three-quarters of the patients with the highest vitamin D levels were still alive at the end of five years, compared with less than two thirds of those with the lowest levels.
 
"Our findings are promising but it is important to note that this is an observational study," cautioned Malcolm Dunlop, of the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh. "We need carefully designed randomised clinical trials before we can confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements offers any survival benefit for bowel cancer patients."
 
The study's authors aim to set up a clinical trial to test whether taking vitamin D tablets in combination with chemotherapy can improve bowel cancer survival rates.
 
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Healthy Mama pitches a one-stop shop merchandising strategy with its line of pregnancy-friendly OTC products

BY Michael Johnsen

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — Healthy Mama recently introduced a new merchandising concept to appeal to the some 4 million pregnant moms each year — a full line of pregnancy-friendly OTC products. 
 
"Welcoming a little bundle of joy into the world is one of life's greatest moments, but also comes with a whirlwind of changes from aches and pains, to cramps and cankles," the company said. "While we all want immediate relief, navigating the cluttered OTC aisles and sifting through conflicting information online for safe remedies when pregnant or nursing,can be confusing and stressful. So creating a one-stop-shop in the aisle with all the safest solutions to those common, but pesky, pregnancy ailments is as important as ever."
 
The Healthy Mama brand is a complete brand of remedies providing pregnant and nursing women with the safest products available to help alleviate common pregnancy symptoms, the company stated. The family of products includes a pain reliever, pain reliever with sleep aid, antacid, laxative, prenatal vitamin and prenatal energy beverage.
 
The specialty channel has already bought into the concept. The complete line of Healthy Mama products are being sold together on one shelf in major retailers, including Babies-R-Us, Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath & Beyond and Harmon, Healthy Mama noted. 
 
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Kroger sets water conservation goal with the release of its eighth annual sustainability report

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Tuesday published its eighth annual sustainability report, setting its first-ever water conservation goal and providing a progress update on moving retail locations toward "zero waste" and sourcing 100% certified sustainable palm oil. 
 
Kroger is committed to reducing water consumption in supermarket locations by 5% in 2014, the company stated. This is Kroger's first public water conservation goal. In 2013, Kroger manufacturing plants reduced water usage by 61 million gallons, which is equivalent to the yearly water usage of 1,455 American homes.
 
The company is moving toward the EPA's Zero Waste threshold of 90%, in all Kroger retail locations. To get there, Kroger will increase the diversion rate to 70% for all stores by the end of 2015. Today, the company diverts 59% of waste.
 
Kroger is committed to sourcing 100% certified sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015, and has begun the transition to certified sustainable palm oil in three food production facilities that make products containing palm oil.
 
"We will achieve or exceed many of our 2015 goals and have begun the process of determining key 2020 goals in many areas. We intend to push for faster and more accelerated improvement across all areas of our business — including water conservation," stated Rodney McMullen, Kroger's CEO. "Our annual sustainability report contains both quantifiable evidence of the progress we are making and also stories that illustrate and inspire. Mainly, however, this report is a celebration of the dedication of our associates who bring to life — through their everyday activities — our goals and ambitions to lessen our environmental impact, support the work of community organizations and lead change in certain areas of our business and our industry."
 
Some of the highlights of Kroger's 2013 sustainability progress include: 
 
  • Last year, Kroger's family of stores contributed nearly 73 million pounds of food and other products to more than 100 local food banks. Between food and cash donations, Kroger contributed more than 200 million meals to families in need in 2013;
  • In 2013, the Kroger family of stores provided $46 million to more than 30,000 schools and charitable organizations participating in Community Rewards, a sales-based community fundraising program that enables shoppers to select a cause Kroger should support;
  • More than 45,000 employees participated in walking and weight loss challenges in 2013. Kroger associates walked 35.7 billion steps and collectively lost 36,214 pounds. Kroger also invested more than $27.5 million in incentives to associates that met health screening targets;
  • At the end of 2013, 27 of the company's manufacturing facilities had achieved a "zero waste" benchmark. Across the company's retail locations, Kroger added 200 more stores with organic recycling programs, totaling 988 locations;
  • Since 2000, Kroger has reduced energy consumption by nearly 35%. The Kroger family of stores has 557 ENERGY STAR certified store locations, as well as 517 that are eligible to become certified; and
  • Kroger spends nearly $2 billion annually with minority-owned and women-owned business enterprises. Kroger is a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's Million Dollar Club.
 
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