Entries in Canada (9)


Canadian Slaughterhouses Reject American Horses

Tim Flach/Stone/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- American horses are being rejected by Canadian slaughterhouses, according to the Equine Welfare Alliance. The blockage of U.S. horses reportedly stems from a directive from the European Union, which buys much of Canada’s exported horsemeat. E.U. health officials found that American horsemeat samples had been tainted by steroids and carcinogens, and reportedly asked Canadian suppliers to stop buying American horses.

The embargo happened quickly and without much communication with American horse providers. In fact, some auctions already had horses en route to Canada by the time they were made aware of the changes.

The United States forced all horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007. Since then, the number of horses exported to Canada and Mexico has dramatically risen. More than 120,000 horses were exported to America's neighbors in 2011.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Canadian Government Backs BPA in Food Containers

David McNew/Getty Images(OTTAWA, Ontario) -- The Canadian government Thursday reaffirmed the safety of bisphenol A in food packaging, upholding its 2008 stance on the controversial chemical despite banning it from baby bottles.

The chemical, better known as BPA, is used to make hard plastic containers and metal can linings.

"Based on the overall weight of evidence, the findings of the previous assessment remain unchanged and Health Canada's Food Directorate continues to conclude that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children," Health Canada's Bureau of Chemical Safety wrote in its report.

BPA made headlines in 2008 when it was found to leach out of plastic when heated. Studies by the Canadian government at the time concluded the chemical was "not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children."

Two years later, however, the country declared the chemical "toxic" and banned it from baby bottles on the basis that, when heated, they might leach levels of BPA that are harmful to infants.

"Our science indicated that bisphenol A may be harmful to both human health and the environment and we were the first country to take bold action in the interest of Canadians," Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said at the time.

Under consumer pressure, U.S. companies followed suit, voluntarily pulling BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made the ban official in June, even though the human health risks of dietary BPA exposure remain unclear.

"The FDA ban of BPA in baby bottles is not based on definitive scientific studies," said Dr. Robert Brent, professor of pediatrics, radiology and pathology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. "The country is bordering on lunacy from the exaggerated fear of chemicals."

Laboratory studies in cells and animals have linked BPA to cancer, infertility and diabetes. And just three weeks ago, a study of more than 2,800 U.S. children and teens found those with high urinary levels of BPA were more likely to be obese.

"Our study can't identify obesity as being caused by BPA. But in the context of increasing evidence from experimental studies, it raises further concern," said study author Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

The FDA admits it "sees substantial uncertainties with respect to the overall interpretation of many published studies, and, particularly, their potential implications for human health effects of BPA exposure," according to a statement. But the agency said it will consider Trasande's study in its "ongoing evaluation of the safety of BPA."

The new report updates Health Canada's 2008 BPA risk assessment with data from six Canadian studies conducted in the past four years. The North American Metal Packaging Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based industry trade group, hopes the report will reassure U.S. consumers.

"Today's determination should put to rest once and for all any doubts as to where the Canadian government stands regarding the safety of BPA in food packaging," NAMPA chairman John Rost said in a statement. "Health Canada's assessment is based on actual exposure among all age groups from real-life food and beverage products, and should provide reassurance to consumers everywhere that BPA in food packaging is safe."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Wobbling Worrisome? Gait Changes May Be an Early Sign of Dementia

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Slow on your feet? This could be the first sign of memory loss to come.

Three new studies presented Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, Canada, finds that changes in walking patterns of the elderly are closely linked to memory loss and may actually be an early clue to dementia.

One group of researchers studied the strides of a group of elderly patients at Basel Mobility Center in Switzerland.  The study, conducted by lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Bridenbaugh, found that those participants with declines in cognition tended to walk more slowly than their memory-savvy counterparts, particularly when asked to perform a simple task — such as counting backward — while walking.

“Gait analysis can simply, quickly and objectively measure walking,” Bridenbaugh commented in a news release. “When problems emerge, this may provide early detection of fall risk and the earliest stages of cognitive impairment in older adults.”

Other doctors not directly involved with the research agreed that it can be difficult for older patients to perform tasks while walking.

“Someone with mild troubles trying to remember things, they might not be focused as much on walking,” said Dr. William Hu, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University. “I hear this all the time from patients: ‘I was rushing to go to the grocery store, and I left my purse at home.’ Asking a person to do another thing while walking really tests their cognitive reserve.”

Another set of researchers at the Mayo Clinic found similar results. The scientists looked at the changes in the pace and the stride of their patients over the span of 15 months. They found that these changes in walking were directly correlated to their memory loss.

Heather Snyder, senior associate director of the Alzheimer’s Association, reports that these studies “continue to build the evidence that there is a connection between gait and cognition.”

“Gait testing is an inexpensive way for us to observe potential changes,” Snyder said. “It can be done by any physician in their office, as a way to identify people that may need further evaluation.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Phone App Uses Men to Remind Women of Breast Cancer Checks

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(TORONTO) -- A sexy smartphone app that reminds women to check their breasts has raised eyebrows and cancer awareness too.

The app, called Your Man Reminder, lets users pick the "hot guy of their choice" to remind them to check their breasts for signs of cancer.

"We wanted a way for young women to be reminded to be familiar with their breasts in a fun, cute way that would not spark fear and go viral," said Alison Gordon, vice president of strategic marketing and communications for the Canadian charity Rethink Breast Cancer. "It really centers on early detection. We want to make sure young women know what their breasts look and feel like regularly and check with their doctors if they find anything unusual."

One in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society, and the chance of dying from breast cancer is about one in 36. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammograms every two years for women between the ages of 50 and 75. But for younger women -- the demographic targeted by Rethink Cancer -- breast changes can signal a problem that should be followed up by a doctor.

"I tell my patients, 'If you see a change, get it checked out,'" said Dr. Therese Bevers, medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "What kind of change? It doesn't matter. If it's different to you, let's get it checked out."

Your Man Reminder aims to encourage women to think about their breasts so they'll be more likely to notice small changes. A YouTube ad for the app starts with a doctors explaining how "studies have shown that women are more likely to watch a video if it features a hot guy." Then Anthony, one of five hot guys women can choose for their reminder, explains the TLCs of breast checking: Touch; look; and check.

"Start by touching your breasts in any way that feels comfortable for you. Try to be familiar with them, and the way they feel," explains a topless Anthony. "Be on the lookout for anything unusual. And if you want to, have a friend check you out. ... If you notice anything out of the ordinary, even if you're not sure, check with your doctor."

Bevers said the ad had her and her colleagues laughing.

"It's funny, and to the extent that it might increase a woman's awareness about changes in her breast, I think it's great," she said. "But the vast majority of breast cancers that women self-identify are accidentally identified during normal acts of daily living. They're showering or scratching, or putting clothes on."

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against teaching women breast self-examination – intentionally eying, palpating and squeezing the breasts looking for lumps, redness, dimpling or discharge.

"I think women feel very guilty when they don't do these intentional activities, and I don't think that's a good emotion for these women to have," said Bevers. "And we know from the data that it's not intentional activities that tend to find breast cancers."

Gordon said the app is not promoting breast self-examination, rather encouraging women to get to know their breasts so they can spot changes sooner.

"However you want to be familiar with your breasts, it's up to you," she said. "Whether you're showering or putting on bra, just be aware of your breasts."

Gordon said the app lets users choose how they want their hot guy reminder: Monthly; weekly; or "surprise me."

"In the past, health information was always pamphlets. You'd pick one up, maybe read it and then shove it in a drawer," said Gordon. "Now everyone has phone on them all the time, so you get this pop up and it's cute and you can share it with friends through Facebook. We can take these important health messages so much further than we ever could have before."

The Toronto-based advertising agency John St. produced Your Man Reminder pro bono for Rethink Breast Cancer. And on Tuesday, it was among 10 winners at TED's second annual "Ads Worth Spreading" contest.

"The feedback has been incredible," said Gordon. "We have more than 2 million views on YouTube and more than 70,000 app downloads. That's huge. Well, not compared to Angry Birds, but this is not a game."

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Canadian Health Experts Take Aim at Energy Drinks

John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images(OTTAWA, Ontario) -- Energy drinks have been around for years. But as the market for these drinks grew, so did concerns about their safety.

Now a panel of experts assembled by Health Canada are calling for stricter control of Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar and a host of other so-called energy drinks.
These high-caffeinated drinks are classified as natural health products. But the panel says they are not foods. They are drug products and should only be sold on drugstore shelves under the supervision of a pharmacist, experts claim.

In fact, the specialists say "energy" drink is a misnomer. They suggest the products be renamed "stimulant drug containing drinks."
The panel also wants Canada to take the lead internationally by requiring warning labels on the cans about series adverse effects of the drinks.
In a report obtained by Postmedia News, the panel stressed that the health risks associated with these beverages outweigh their benefits.
The report was actually presented to the Canadian government almost a year ago. But details are only now becoming public as the government debates adopting tighter controls on the beverages.
Both the beverage industry and energy drink makers reject the panel's research and recommendations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Health Canada Panel Takes Aim at Energy Drinks

PRNewsFoto/Red Bull GmbH(OTTAWA, Ontario) --  An expert panel for Health Canada has targeted energy drinks in a report saying that drinks such as Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster should actually be renamed “stimulant drug containing drinks” and should only be sold under the direct supervision of a pharmacist.

According to Postmedia News the panel’s report makes the argument that these energy drinks should be under stricter control, especially when taking into consideration the ease with which young people can purchase the caffeinated beverages.

The panel aims to make give a clear signal to the general public that these drinks are in fact “drug products,” and not “foods.”

The panel’s recommendations were presented to the government almost a year ago, but have been running into opposition from the beverage industry. If these recommendations were be enacted, this would set an international precedent for energy drink regulation, something that the Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, would be expected to defend on the world stage.

The panel proposes that energy drinks be classified under the National Association of Pharmay Regulatory Authorities as a “Schedule III.” This label is attributed to drugs without prescription, but that are sold on pharmacy shelves and purchased under “direct supervision of the pharmacist.” The panel urges that energy drinks be distributed as drugs are, but in a beverage format.

In addition to the change in distribution protocol and naming specifics, the panel also suggests that the drinks carry labels stating that serious adverse effects, including death, can occur.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Canadian 12-Year-Old Delivers His Baby Brother

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(CAMPBELL RIVER, British Columbia) -- Gaelan Edwards first met his new brother in an unusual way: The 12-year-old actually helped deliver the baby after his mother couldn't make it to the hospital in time.

Danielle Edwards, 30, of Campbell River, British Columbia, told Canada's CTV she woke up on Saturday around 2 a.m. already in labor.  That's when she called for her son, Gaelan.

"Gaelan, when you see the shoulders, I need you to hang on to the shoulders and I need to you pull them out," Edwards instructed her son.

Gaelan, who said he'd seen TV shows on childbirth and had read a few medical books his mother kept in the home, remembered what he learned.

He took the baby's shoulders and eased him out.  He then went to get scissors, a clamp and a blanket, and cut the umbilical cord.  After that, he wrapped his new baby brother in a blanket.

The family then went to the hospital where mother and baby got a clean bill of health.

Dr. Salih Yasin, associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, said women can sometimes go into labor very quickly, especially if they've previously given birth, as Edwards had four other times.

And if there are no complications, delivery isn't as daunting as it may seem.

"Birth is a natural process that the human body is made to take care of on its own," he said. "There are many stories of babies being delivered in cars or in parking lots."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Canadian Doctor Caught Treating Dead Patients

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Canada has been heralded as a country with outstanding government-provided health care, but even the Great White North apparently has its share of medical scams.

A doctor in Calgary has been found guilty of billing the government for patients he never treated, many of whom are already deceased.

The Toronto Sun reports Dr. John van Olm was discovered to have billed the province of Alberta for treating up to 185 patients a day on 12 dates between 2006 and 2007, a figure that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta determined far exceeded what was possible.  An investigation revealed many of those reported patients had been dead for some time.

Dr. van Olm has been suspended for at least three months and ordered to pay $99,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.  The doctor has also been ordered to take a course on medical record charting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Terminal Baby at Center of Treatment Battle Returns to Canada

Photodisc/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- After receiving a tracheotomy at a St. Louis hospital that his native Canadian government denied him, Baby Joseph, the 15-month-old terminally ill infant at the center of an end-of-life debate, has returned to his Ontario home where he is set to spend his remaining days with family.

"The tracheotomy was successful," said the Rev. Frank Pavone of New York City-based Priests for Life, Joseph's medical care at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis. Priests for Life is an organization which lobbies against abortion rights and euthanasia and was active in advocating for Baby Joseph's further treatment in the U.S.

"We were anticipating that he would need to go to an intermediate facility after the procedure but he responded so well that he's been off the machines and breathing tubes completely for a week. He's breathing on his own," he says.

Joseph Maraachli, who has come to be known as "Baby Joseph," was thrust into the forefront of the end-of-life debate in February, when Canadian doctors told his parents, Moe and Nader Maraachli, that their baby's degenerative disease was so bad that no treatment would bring him out of a persistent vegetative state. Joseph suffers from a progressive neurological disease called Leigh Syndrome -- the same disorder that claimed the life of Joseph's then 18-month-old brother eight years ago.

Though health care professionals presented Joseph's parents with a consent form that would allow doctors to take him off life support, the Maraachlis refused to sign the waiver and fought for their son to receive a tracheotomy -- a procedure that would allow them to care for their baby in his final days at home.

For months Baby Joseph's life was literally in negotiations as pro-life advocacy groups fought the Canadian government to allow him the procedure, underscoring the sensitive balance many parents may face between keeping their babies alive as long as possible and pouring money and medical resources into a losing battle.

The case was brought to the Consent and Capacity Board, an independent body created by the government of Ontario, and then a supreme court judge. Both entities ruled that Baby Joseph's breathing tube should be removed. It was only after Priests For Life offered to pay for Baby Joseph's medical costs that the infant was able to get the tracheotomy on March 21. The cost of the jet to the hospital, chartered with Kalitta Air, was donated to the family.

Felicia Cohn, Ph.D., director of medical ethics at the University of California at Irvine, told ABC News that she has been involved in similar conflicts, and an ethical process must be under way to assist both parties.

If conflict arises, a clinical ethicist or an ethics committee may assist in the decision making process. The court is a last resort and is a sign of persistent conflict.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio