HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

November-December 2012

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Charitable Gifts of Health

Looking for different kind of gift? Donate to a health-related organization in a loved one’s name—
but give to groups that will use your money wisely. Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) measures charities against a set of financial benchmarks; the groups below have received CN’s highest rating of four stars. To evaluate a charity yourself, CN says to confirm the group’s 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status, obtain copies of their financial records and check their “commitment to accountability and transparency” (for example, using objective markers to set CEO salary).

Action for Healthy Kids: Partners with schools to promote healthy eating and daily exercise among
children; activities include webinars and local trainings. www.actionforhealthykids.org

 

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH): Fights Big Tobacco through “advocacy,
education and legal initiatives.” http://ash.org

 

Center for Advancing Health: Works to encourage good health
habits and behaviors. www.cfah.org

 

Environmental Working Group:
Monitors toxins and their effects on health.
www.ewg.org

 

Water for People: Works to ensure access to safe water supplies everywhere. www.waterforpeople.org

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Infection-Fighting Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin, already known to play a crucial role in immune system support, has shown an ability to fight infections in two recent studies.

A team led by Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed data amassed during the Blue Sky Study in Mongolia on vitamin D levels in children. Like other countries that are relatively far from the equator, Mongolia experiences short winter days. This puts the country’s population at risk for deficiency in vitamin D, which is manufactured in skin exposed to sunlight.

The study participants were assigned to two groups. Both were given locally produced milk, but in one group the milk was supplemented with vitamin D. According to results in the journal Pediatrics, children in the supplement group caught respiratory infections at about half the rate as those in the milk-only group.

Another group of scientists has performed an analysis indicating that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).

An estimated 1.7 million Americans develop an HAI every year; about 100,000 die. Common HAIs include pneumonia, bacteremia [bacteria in the blood], sepsis, and urinary tract and surgical site infections. More than 40% of the US population is estimated to be is D-deficient.

The researchers noted that patients who were deficient in vitamin D were hospitalized more often, and for greater lengths of time, and that deficiency was linked to higher death rates. “We believe that intensive vitamin D supplementation in patients...could improve health outcomes,” they wrote in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology.

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UPDATE

Kathy Mattea Back With Soulful CD

We last spoke with Kathy Mattea (“Kathy Mattea: Facing the Future,” September 2008) in a moving interview about the Alzheimer’s disease that has afflicted her family. Mattea spoke about the power of music in that interview, and she had just released her CD “Coal,” about the industry that has both given and taken so much in her home state of West Virginia.

In her latest CD, “Calling Me Home” (Sugar Hill Records), the multiple Grammy-winning country singer returns to her musical roots with a bluesy and soulful bluegrass album that is ear candy anywhere but probably best enjoyed on a porch rocking chair on a sunny day.

Celebrating her native Appalachia, Mattea sings gracefully on these 11 uncluttered roots cover tunes. She is backed by a first-rate band with an authentic command of mountain music. Mattea also shows that she can easily fly solo; her haunting a capella conveys the raw qualities of her southern home. With Mattea’s more-than-capable voice, the listener feels both the blues and the beauty of
the place.

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NUMBERS

(Some) Good News on Heart Health

11.5%
Drop in the rate of adults with at least one cardiovascular risk factor

8%
Drop in prevalence of uncontrolled hypertension

9%
Drop in uncontrolled high LDL cholesterol

47%
U.S. adults with at least one risk factor

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Quote

“Things sweet to taste

prove in digestion sour.”

—William Shakespeare

(If your indigestion isn’t limited to the occasional holiday overindulgence,
see our digestive health story "Gut Feeling")

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