HEALTH

Zak Designs launches Snow White products

BY Michael Johnsen

SPOKANE, Wash. Zak Designs on Monday announced the launch of a line of products that showcase Snow White and her seven friends to correspond with the fall release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney Vault on Blu-ray hi-def and DVD.

The products feature traditional artwork.

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Illinois files TRO against state officials’ enforcement of 2005 regulation

BY Michael Johnsen

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Less than one month after a district judge in New York ordered the Food and Drug Administration to allow women under the age of 18 to purchase Plan B without a prescription within 30 days, the Circuit Court in Springfield, Ill. on Friday issued a temporary restraining order against the Governor of Illinois and other state officials, ordering them not to enforce a 2005 administrative regulation that required all pharmacies to dispense Plan B and other forms of abortion-producing drugs.

The two issues are not necessarily linked — Plan B remains one of the only over-the-counter medicines approved with a dual Rx/OTC status for the same ingredient at the same strength for the same indication. Plan B is currently available without a prescription for women over the age of 18, but available only with a prescription for women under the age of 18.

The New York ruling changes that.

The Illinois court reverses a standing order from then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which mandated pharmacists to dispense Plan B without regard to any personal beliefs that Plan B is an abortion agent. While technically Plan B prevents conception when taken within 72 hours of sexual activity, as opposed to aborting a pregnancy, several religious groups consider Plan B an abortive agent.

Many pharmacy groups, including the American Pharmacists Association, support “refuse and refer” policies, whereby an objecting pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription based upon their personal belief system, so long as they refer that prescription either to another pharmacist or to another pharmacy.

“This is yet another step on the road to full protection for the rights of conscience of all health care workers,” stated Francis Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice. “In ruling in favor of our clients, the court rejected the attempt of Illinois officials to trample on the rights of our clients and disregard existing laws passed by the legislature for the very purpose of protecting those rights. We will continue to press this issue until we have obtained full protection for the conscience rights of these professionals who should not have to choose between their deeply held religious beliefs and license revocation and other penalties.”

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Study suggests eating broccoli daily may be good for gut

BY Michael Johnsen

BALTIMORE, Md. A small, pilot study in 50 people in Japan suggested that eating 2.5 oz. of broccoli sprouts daily for two months may confer some protection against a rampant stomach bug that causes gastritis, ulcers and even stomach cancer.

Citing their new “demonstration of principle” study, a Johns Hopkins researcher and an international team of scientists caution that eating sprouts containing sulforaphane did not cure infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. And they do not suggest that eating this or any amount of broccoli sprouts will protect anyone from stomach cancer or cure GI diseases.

However, the study does show that eating a daily dose of broccoli sprouts reduced by more than 40% the level of HpSA, a highly specific measure of the presence of components of H. pylori shed into the stool of infected people. There was no HpSA level change in control subjects who ate alfalfa sprouts. The HpSA levels returned to pretreatment levels eight weeks after people stopped eating the broccoli sprouts, suggesting that although they reduce H. pylori colonization, they do not eradicate it.

“The highlight of the study is that we identified a food that, if eaten regularly, might potentially have an effect on the cause of a lot of gastric problems and perhaps even ultimately help prevent stomach cancer,” stated Jed Fahey, an author of the paper who is a nutritional biochemist in the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Cancer Chemoprotection Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Broccoli sprouts have a much higher concentration of sulforaphane than mature heads,” Fahey explained, adding that further investigation is needed to affirm the results of this clinical trial and move the research forward. The study, published April 6 in Cancer Prevention Research, builds on earlier test-tube and mouse studies at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere about the potential value of sulforaphane, a naturally occurring biochemical found in relative abundance in fresh broccoli sprouts.

“I like them,” Fahey said. “I eat them all the time, but not every day. Variety is the spice of life: I eat blueberries on the other days.”

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