Cognitive skills may benefit from fish-rich diet

Cognitive skills may benefit from fish-rich diet Those whose diet includes regularly consumed oily fish may improve their cognitive skills and protect themselves from memory problems as they age, according to a new study.

Swedish scientist is examined fish consumption in teenage Swedish boys at age 15, and found that those who ate fish at least once a week had higher cognitive skills at age 18 than those who did not.

Moreover, combined intelligence scores for the group that consumed fish were nearly 11 percent higher, on average, than for those who ate fish less frequently.

Jon Getzinger of Ocean Nutrition Canada stresses a number of studies have linked the essential omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish to thinking, reasoning and remembering abilities in people at all stages of life.

However, given that many kids do not like the taste of fatty fish and so tend not to eat a lot of them, omega-3 EPA/DHA-enhanced foods "are an easy way to incorporate this nutrient into their diets," he adds.

In addition to boosting memory and cognitive skills, omega-3 fatty acids are also known to promote cardiovascular health.

Study: Retirement accounts down 15 percent

Retirement accounts down 15 percent, study says A new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has found that the median asset levels in retirement accounts dropped at least 15 percent since the end of 2007 as a result of the economic downturn.

The report looked specifically at defined contribution (401(k)) and IRA/Keogh accounts and found that among those with a defined contribution plan the median plan balance was $31,800 in 2007, but fell to $26,578 from year-end 2007 to mid-June 2009.

At the same time, for those with an IRA/Keogh plan, the median value of their plan was $34,000 in 2007, and fell to $28,955 in the same period.

"Americans have a great deal of work to do after the tremendous loss of wealth in 2008 to ensure financial security in retirement," Craig Copeland, EBRI senior research associate wrote in the August 2009 EBRI Issue Brief, no. 333.

"However, some optimism is warranted, as most individuals continue to contribute to their individual account plans and are in a position to accumulate added wealth as the economy recovers," he added.

The study is based on the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances, the Federal Reserve Board’s triennial survey of wealth, and was adjusted to account for the recession in 2008.

Obama birth certificate fallout impacts Lou Dobbs’ popularity

Obama birth certificate fallout impacts Lou Dobbs' popularity A CNN personality has been in trouble for providing a forum for those who believe President Obama was not born in the U.S. and is ineligible to hold the nation’s highest office.

Despite what some see as overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Lou Dobbs has been one of the last commentators still covering the so-called ‘birthers’ movement.

The conspiracy theory about Obama’s origins began in the 2008 presidential campaign, when a series of emails began to circulate alleging he was a Kenyan citizen, based on the fact that his father was Kenyan.

Obama’s attempt to counter the allegations further stoked the controversy when he posted a short-form copy of his birth certificate on his campaign website. Short-form certificates are printed by the local State Department upon request, while the long forms are issued on the actual day of birth.

However, while most commentators accepted the president was natural-born citizen and after an organization called published a series of facts last summer about Obama’s birth in Hawaii, Lou Dobbs, known as a vocal critic of illegal immigration, publicly challenged Obama again on July 15 to produce the long form.

According to the New York Observer, this has resulted in the popularity of Lou Dobbs Tonight plummeting— in the last two weeks his audience has decreased 15 percent in total viewers and 27 percent in his core 25-54 demographic— and in calls on CNN President Jon Klein to rein Dobbs in.

Geithner fails to rule out higher taxes

Geithner fails to rule out higher taxes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner caused an uproar last weekend when he declined to explicitly rule out increasing taxes to help patch the nearly $1 trillion federal budget hole.

If that is how the administration plans to fix the deficit it will be contrary to President Obama’s pledge not to raise the tax burden on families making less than $250,000.

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Geithner said the government has to bring down the deficits, which in addition to the budget gap also includes more than $800 billion in U.S. Treasury debt and over $2 trillion in total U.S. securities held by China, according to Reuters.

"That’s going to require some very hard choices," he added, and when pressed about whether this would entail a tax hike he said, " "We can’t make these judgments yet about exactly what it’s going to take and how we’re going to get there."

Amid the furor that followed, White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers sought to play it down, and on Monday the president’s spokesman said Obama was committed to keeping his promises on taxes.

During his electoral campaign Obama said he would cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans.

Study: Cancer patients likely benefit from vitamin D supplementation

Cancer patients likely benefit from vitamin D supplementation, study saysNew research suggests obese cancer patients tend to have lower levels of vitamin D, and doctors should take the weight status of such patients into consideration when establishing their vitamin D supplementation needs.

The study of 740 cancer patients was conducted by scientists from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and found that those with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30 — which is a common measure of obesity— had significantly lower levels of vitamin D compared to their non-obese counterparts (BMI lower than 30.

According to Carolyn Lammersfeld, national director of nutrition for CTCA and a principal investigator in the study, the current dietary recommendations for vitamin D which do not take into account a patient’s BMI need to be rewritten.

Scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed as studies show the average blood levels of the vitamin appear to have decreased in the U.S. population between 1994 and 2004.

This is happening at a time when a growing body of research points to vast health benefits of vitamin D that include not only bone health, but also a possible protective effect from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Consequently, health practitioners are suggesting supplementation in excess of the previous recommendations of 200 IUD. Some health practitioners advocate taking as much as 2,000 IUD a day.


CIS studies show mixed picture of illegal immigration

CIS studies show mixed picture of illegal immigrationAccording to new reports from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the illegal immigrant population is declining but the unauthorized border crossings that still take place in large numbers are having a profoundly negative environmental impact.

The analysis suggests the illegal population declined by 13.7 percent (1.7 million) from a peak of 12.5 million in the summer of 2007 to 10.8 million in the first quarter of 2009.

CIS estimates also suggest that because the legal immigrant population has not declined, the overall foreign-born population has held relatively steady.

At the same time, a CIS web video using exclusive hidden camera footage shows wildlife populations are increasingly threatened by illegal immigration and smugglers who are cutting paths through federally protected lands.

"Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border: Coyotes, Bears, and Trails," has found evidence of abandoned vehicles, drug drops, illegal groups trekking and camping, human waste and litter that are destroying Arizona’s ecosystems.

The document raises questions about the effectiveness of Obama’s immigration and environmental policies and suggests America’s borders are far from secure.


Vegetarian diet benefits people of all ages, study says

Vegetarian diet benefits people of all ages, study says Scientists believe that properly planned and executed vegetarian diets can cover nutritional needs and moreover protect against chronic diseases.

The health benefits, described in the recommendations published by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) apply to infants, children, adults, including pregnant women, as well as the elderly.

ADA has released an updated position paper on vegetarian diets that appears in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in which it says the conditions that can be prevented include heart disease and diabetes.

"[A]ppropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases," the paper states.

For example, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates, it says.

It also stresses vegetarian diets are typically lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals, which may explain their health benefits.

Support for healthcare bill declines as Republicans intensify criticism

Support for healthcare bill declines as Republicans intensify criticism As Congress heads off for summer recess, after having failed to debate the healthcare proposal, a new poll has found Americans are increasingly concerned about its final shape.

The New York Times/CBS News poll suggests people worry that overhauling the healthcare system will reduce the quality of care, increase health costs and tax bills and limit their options in choosing doctors and treatments, according to Dallas Morning News.

Specifically, a total of 69 percent have said a decline in quality will result from the government running a program that will provide universal coverage.

House minority leader John Boehner of Ohio appears to have understood the public sentiment when he said at a recent luncheon sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that "what was promised and what was delivered don’t add up and people are upset about it," quoted by

He also said the bill, which is now scheduled to be debated in September, will "get shredded" because the more people learn about its provisions the less they will like it.

Similarly, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele has blasted President Obama for pushing a healthcare agenda that he believes will slow the economy, increase the deficit and make healthcare worse for those who already have insurance.

Are we seeing signs of a recovery?

Are we seeing signs of a recovery?After a better-than-expected housing report, new economic data suggest the pace of the general economic decline has slowed substantially in the second quarter of 2009.

The U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 1 percent – far less than the 6.4 percent drop registered in the first quarter – according to a government report released Friday.

It was also less than the 1.5 percent predicted by economists surveyed by

Politicians have been split on their assessment of whether the economic stimulus package passed in February has contributed to the improvement.

While Democrats believe the government spending, made possible by the nearly $1 trillion stimulus, has stopped the economy’s free fall, many on the Republican side point to the dangers of a massive debt that is being accumulated and pushed onto the shoulders of future generations.

In an interview with CNN, Arizona Republican Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain admitted the spending may be helping the economy, but expressed concern that its levels are "unsustainable" and constitute only a short-term solution.

Many commentators expect the GDP to enter positive territory in the third or fourth quarter of the year, although it is hard to predict by how much. However, they are also suggesting that a sustained recovery will be difficult without an increase in consumer spending, which has thus far been hampered by high unemployment, currently at 9.5 percent.

Depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s

Depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer'sNew research has provided more reasons for those who combat depression to seek help, such as alternative medical treatments, because it has shown that depressed individuals are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease for which there is currently no cure. It typically affects those who are over the age of 65, but early onset cases have also been recorded.

The new study, conducted by UCLA scientists, recruited a group of 756 people between the ages of 55 and 91 who had mild cognitive impairment and followed their progress over the span of three years.

During that time, a total of 208 were diagnosed with depression, and the researchers noted that for every one-point increase on the test that measures the severity and intensity of depressive symptoms, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s went up by 3 percent.

Po H. Lu, an assistant professor of neurology and a member of the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, says "Our longer-term findings add to the body of evidence that suggests depression is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease."

Those who would like to avoid expensive medications that may produce undesirable side effects have a range of alternative medicine options to select from, including herbal remedies such as St. John’s wort extract to combat the symptoms of depression and anxiety.