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FDA Rejects Avastin As Treatment For Breast Cancer

Published: Thursday, June 30, 2011 @ 9:24 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 30, 2011 @ 9:28 AM

The makers of the cancer drug Avastin have taken another blow.

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously rejected use of the drug to treat breast cancer. They said it is not safe or clinically beneficial for those patients.

The vote supports a move the FDA made last December to revoke its approval for Avastin.

The manufacturer, and some breast cancer patients advocated for the drug in hearings, saying it saves lives.

Cranberry juice can help prevent, not treat urinary infections

Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Dear Holly: Does cranberry juice treat a UTI?

— Berry Tart

Dear Berry Tart,

UTI stands for Urinary Tract Infection. Our body is full of bacteria and other microorganisms and usually these little guys are healthful. UTIs occur when harmful bacteria, called pathogens, set up shop somewhere in the urinary system.

Cranberry juice has been shown in the research to help prevent, but not to treat, UTIs. How? An infection occurs when certain bacteria can burrow into the lining of the urinary tract. A special compound in the fruit called proanthocyanidins seems to prevent those pathogens from adhering. This is kind of like being escorted from a bar by a burly bouncer — there’s no room for you, dear pathogen.

How much? The studies investigating this topic used anywhere from 1 to 10 ounces daily. I don’t recommend drinking a large amount of juice. If you are going to use cranberry juice for UTI prevention, try four ounces daily. Read the label to ensure that you’re buying real cranberry juice and not just flavoring. Most cranberry juice drinks are a blend of cranberry and other juices to mask the very tart flavor of the cranberries.

Women are at greater risk of UTIs than men. Anyone with poorly controlled diabetes is also at higher risk. Good blood sugar management prevents extra glucose from spilling into the urine and feeding pathogens. Finally, becoming dehydrated can also increase the likelihood you’ll get a UTI — so drink up with lots of water daily.

If you suspect you have a UTI, it is time to visit your doctor. Antibiotics are needed for treatment — cranberry is only useful for prevention.

What’s your question for Holly? Send them to

For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC owned by Holly Larson, registered dietitian. Visit Holly online at and follow her on Facebook at Have a delicious, healthy day!

Sweet truth: Don’t avoid all sugars

Published: Thursday, November 28, 2013 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 28, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Sugars are certainly on the national radar — New York passed a ban on over-sized sodas and schools are banning bake sales and vending machines are getting the boot.

While added sugars are not helping the obesity epidemic we face in this country and around the world, I wouldn’t advocate for a sugar free eating pattern. Why not? Sugars are naturally packaged with some healthful foods — milk and fruit. If you tried to follow a sugar free diet, you’d be missing out on those two nutritional opportunities.

What is sugar? Sugars are molecules that usually occur as a pair (aka disaccharides) in certain foods, like lactose in milk and fructose in fruit, or as much longer molecules to form starches, fibers and the kinds of carbohydrates we find in white bread, wheat bread, rice, quinoa and potatoes. Yes, white bread “breaks down to sugar,” but so too does any other starch.

Food is a mixed bag of many things; the calories come from whatever fats, proteins and carbohydrates are in the food. You also find vitamins, minerals, water, and phytochemicals. There is also the possibility of added colors, preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, “good” bacteria (i.e. probiotics - yogurt) and “bad” bacteria (i.e. food poisoning) and even yeast (bread and beer) and fungi (mushrooms - yum, or spoiled food - yuck).

While we’d prefer to categorize all foods as “good” or “bad,” most things with nutrition are gray; the poison is in the dose, as well as the processing.

Some foods containing sugars are healthy, like fruit and milk, but these days we are seeing too many added sugars. While they’re the same molecule, adding sugar doesn’t increase the nutritional value of the food — it just adds extra calories.

If you look at a food label, how do you know? Unfortunately, you don’t. Sugar is usually listed as a portion of the total carbohydrates, but from that information alone you don’t know if it was a part of the food originally, or added somewhere down the processing line. What you need to browse is the ingredient list; if sugar was added, and you know what the key words are, you’ll find them!

Besides “sugar,” here are some other sneaky ways to mean sugar:

Hint: most sugars end in -ose

• Agave Nectar

• Barley Malt Syrup

• Brown rice syrup

• Brown sugar

• Corn sweetener

• Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids

• Dehydrated Cane Juice

• Dextrin

• Dextrose

• Fructose

• Fruit juice concentrate

• Glucose

• High-fructose corn syrup

• Honey

• Invert sugar

• Lactose

• Maltodextrin

• Malt syrup

• Maltose

• Maple syrup

• Molasses

• Raw sugar

• Rice Syrup

• Saccharose

• Sorghum or sorghum syrup

• Sucrose

• Syrup

• Treacle

• Turbinado Sugar

• Xylose

Some foods contain only naturally occurring sugar (apples or milk), other contain only added sugars (sweet tea, chocolate chip cookies, pancake syrup) and some contain both (sweetened apple sauce, fruit flavored yogurt, chocolate milk, raisin granola). The best advice is to minimize added sugars in your daily routine; enjoy them as treats once in a while. If you practice eating mindfully, you’ll enjoy that treat for longer.

How to do this? Get started with these delicious recipes:

• Use fresh or dried fruit in place of jam.

• Replace your sugar-drenched “fruit” yogurt with a delicious fruit parfait.

• Flavor your morning coffee with spices instead of sugar.

• Remake old favorites — most banana bread recipes are really just cake by another name. Try this (best) banana bread recipe and enjoy actually tasting the banana!

What is the sweet summary? Sugar, when found naturally in foods like fruit and milk, is a healthy part of a balanced eating plan. Too many added sugars, usually founds in sweet drinks and treats, should be kept to a minimum.

What’s your question for Holly? Send them to

For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC owned by Holly Larson, registered dietitian. Visit Holly online at and follow her on Facebook at Have a delicious, healthy day!

Cranberries can play tasty, healthy role at Thanksgiving

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Cranberries make an obligatory, but barely noticed appearance at Thanksgiving meals. With a minimal amount of advance preparation, cranberries can play a tasty and healthy role at the meal.

Cranberries appear at Thanksgiving because of their close association with the early English settlers in Massachusetts. Native Americans, who harvested cranberries for both food and medicine, may have shown the starving English that cranberries were edible and useful.

The English name is said to be a variant of “craneberry,” allegedly because English settlers thought the flower, stem, and petals resembled the neck, head, and bill of the crane bird.

Your Thanksgiving cranberries may be one of the more local dishes. All but two percent of the world’s cranberries are grown in North America, including nearly half in Wisconsin.

Cranberries are high in antioxidants that may fight cancer and promote healthy cardiovascular and immune systems. And they help prevent urinary tract infections.

Only around five percent of cranberries are sold fresh and whole. The remainder are processed into products such as juice and sauce.

The best way to determine if whole cranberries are fresh is to drop them on the counter. The fresh ones bounce, and the rotten ones don’t.

Most cranberries are marketed through cooperatives. Best known is Ocean Spray, a cooperative that controls two-thirds of cranberry production.

Most organic cranberries are grown in Quebec and distributed through the Organic Growers’ Cooperative. Organic cranberries were until recently thought to be impossible to grow profitably, because weeds and pests must be controlled by hand.

The last thing that a harassed cook wants to do is allocate time to fussing over cranberries. Unfortunately, conventional supermarket canned cranberry contains high fructose corn syrup. Unhealthy foods lurk everywhere in the Thanksgiving meal, so why let cranberries add to the problem.

Relish made from fresh whole cranberries is not only healthy, it has a chunky crunchy texture that is more pleasing than the cooked or gelatinous processed products. The basic recipe is quite straightforward.

In a food processor, coarsely chop two cups of organic whole cranberries, one-half cup organic nuts such as walnuts or pecans, and one-half cup local honey. Make extra for leftovers. The relish will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Most recipes call for chopped orange, apple, or other fruit. These are fine additions, but they need to be chopped by hand, so if you are pressed for time just stick with cranberries, nuts, and honey in the processor.

Organic cranberries, organic fair trade nuts, and local honey are available at MOON Co-op Grocery, Oxford’s consumer-owned full-service grocery featuring natural, local, organic, sustainable, and Earth-friendly products. MOON Co-op, located at 512 S. Locust St. in Oxford, is open to the public every day.

275 sick in multi-state infection outbreak

Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 @ 9:22 AM
Updated: Thursday, July 25, 2013 @ 9:22 AM

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating a multi-state outbreak of an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis, whose cause has not yet been determined.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local officials, are also scrutinizing the outbreak.

“As of July 18, 2013, CDC has been notified of more than 200 cases of cyclospora infection in residents of multiple states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, and Wisconsin,” the FDA said in a statement.

The agency said it is unclear whether all the cases are part of the same outbreak.

Reports today, July 25, indicated at least 275 people have the illness.

Cyclosporiasis is caused by ingesting food or water containing a one-celled parasite that is too small to be detected without a microscope. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting and body ache.

Untreated, the illness can last from a few days to a month or more. Other symptoms may include headache, fever, weight loss and fatigue.

Most people with healthy immune systems recover from the infection without treatment. Older people and those with weakened immune systems might be at higher risk for prolonged illness. The condition is typically treated with the antibiotics Bactrim, Septra and Cotrim, according to the CDC.

Cyclosporiasis is most common in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Outbreaks in the United Statesand Canada have been linked to imported fresh produce.

(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington and Pallavi Ail in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian and Andre Grenon)