Early Puberty for Girls on the Rise

An interesting new study shows that American girls are actually hitting puberty earlier than they used to – a change that is causing more risks for behavioral problems as adolescents and breast cancer as adults.

The findings, published in Pediatrics magazine, show that about 15% of 1,239 girls showed the beginning of breast development by the age of 7.  The new study doesn’t explain why girls are developing earlier.  It did show that heavier girls with a higher body-mass index were more likely to begin puberty earlier.  Since one third of children are overweight in America today, early puberty trends may be related to the obesity epidemic.

Hitting puberty early has many ramifications. It increases the odds that girls will develop low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression.  Girls who hit puberty earlier are more likely to attempt suicide and to be sexually active earlier.

Best Beef Makes the Cut

Health conscious consumers are demanding that they have their cake and be able to eat it, too. Or at least their steak.  This demand is being felt out on the ranch, and the cows and their cowboys are responding. Back on the prairie, or should I say cattle farm, modern-day wranglers are investigating and experimenting with new breeds of cattle, a variety of feed-types, and new technologies to get the healthiest, leanest cuts of beef possible.

Over the past 15 years the grades of beef produced in Canada and elsewhere have improved significantly. What used to be available only in the most exclusive restaurants, the coveted AAA grade, is now available in ordinary supermarkets. Back in the bad old days only about 1/3rd or the beef being produced merited the AAA designation. Today beef producers are churning out about 70% of their beef as AAA.

These cuts tend to be leaner, smaller and with a better taste. As consumers become more educated about the meat they are eating, they prefer these high-end cuts of meat, and with breeding, feeding, and other modern meat production practices consumers are getting what they want at more affordable prices with greater availability.  Now that our steaks are so good for us, we can enjoy them guilt-free. Just don’t overcook your gourmet cut of steak!

Timing a Pregnancy Post-Miscarriage

People in the medical profession, and regular couples, have long tried to figure out the secret to healthy conception after a miscarriage.  Certainly, most couples who miscarry feel a sense of loss and frustration, and they are eager to try again quickly.  But, is this the most advantageous idea?  Or is it healthier for the mother and fetus to wait awhile before trying again?

A new study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland suggests that women may actually have more success with a pregnancy if they get pregnant quickly after a miscarriage.  The scientists found that women who conceived within six months of a miscarriage had better chances of having a successful and full-term pregnancy than did women who conceived later.

Interestingly, this is contrary to an earlier study from Latin American that found that women should wait more than six months after miscarrying; and, this earlier study formed the basis of the World Health Organization’s 2005 recommendations that women put off a pregnancy for six months after miscarrying.

This Scottish study is the first attempt to provide better data for the optimal timing of pregnancy.  The World Health Organization has called for more studies on conception after miscarriage, and this study certainly shows an important beginning to this research.

Dangers of Dietary Supplements

More and more people today take vitamin supplements without consulting a medical professional. Their assumption is that these supplements can only be beneficial, and that they don’t need to be approved or checked by a healthcare professional.  A recent study by Consumer Reports says otherwise.  The report listed 12 ingredients that are found in supplements that are linked to serious side effects.

These ingredients include: aconite, bitter orange, chaparral, colloidal silver, coltsfoot, country mallow, germanium, greater celandine, kava, lobelia, and yohimbe.  The FDA spokesperson says that the FDA does caution consumers about possible side effects with seven of these supplements (aconite, chaparral, colloidal silver, comfrey, germanium, kava and yohimbe), but that they do not know with what evidence or scientific basis Consumer Reports has come to these conclusions.

While the FDA used to regulate dietary supplements in the same fashion that they regulated other foods, this changed in 1994.  Since that time when DSHEA was signed into law by President Clinton, it has been up to the manufacturer to determine which supplements are safe.  Doctors urge the general public to be very aware of what supplements they are using and to check with their doctor before starting to use any new supplements.