Vitamin D pill every day can beat diabetes

US Professor Philip Raskin, who will lead the study at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, said: “If you could prevent development of diabetes that would save people a lot of anguish and ­diabetes medication cost.”

The four-year trial across America will track 2,500 people age 30 or older who have pre-diabetes – a precursor to diabetes where blood glucose levels are higher than normal.

They will be given daily doses of vitamin D about five times higher than usually recommended.

Dr Raskin said: “The side-effects of vitamin D3 in the doses we’re going to use are few. It’s a fairly safe and inexpensive treatment.”

Financial toll of diabetes spreads beyond its sufferers

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Jerry Madrigal’s life is spent in medical offices.

What started as a small sore on the 49-year-old’s foot has turned into a diabetes diagnosis and an endless series of pricey procedures and prescription medications.

No longer able to work, Madrigal, of Corpus Christi, Texas, lives on disability checks and his wife’s part-time pay. He has no clue how much all of this costs; his medical bills are fully covered by government-funded Medicaid.

Diabetes’ financial toll extends beyond those diagnosed, reaching into the pocketbooks of taxpayers and those with health insurance who pick up the tab for the uninsured or those on government-funded health care plans.

“I think that everybody bears the cost of diabetes and its complications resulting in disability, because much of that is paid for through our taxes,” said Dr. Melissa Wilson, an endocrinologist who served on the Texas Diabetes Council.

The federal government estimated the total cost of diabetes at $51.3 billion in 2010. And diabetes often coincides with other health problems, such as stroke or kidney failure, making it difficult to pin down the exact cost of the disease.

Emergency room visits or conditions associated with diabetes, such as strokes and heart attacks, make the true costs of diabetes likely to be much higher.

And they continue to grow.

Nationwide, diabetes costs nearly tripled from $18.8 billion in 1996, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Medicare and Medicaid covered, on average, 42 percent, or $196 billion over 14 years, according to the agency.

That’s enough to pay the wages of a quarter million teachers during the same time.

Still, while the costs of diabetes skyrocket, prevention has not kept pace.

Self-management classes, widely regarded as one of the best ways to prevent the onset of expensive complications, have failed to live up to their potential and often struggle to stay afloat as funding gets stripped away.

That leaves people like Madrigal dependent on the government. Without Medicaid, Madrigal doesn’t know how he would afford the diabetes treatment to save his foot and keep him alive.

In the past year, he’s had four surgeries, including the amputation of his big toe. His kidneys are failing. He needs dialysis three times a week until he can get a kidney transplant.

At his sickest, Madrigal took almost a dozen prescription pills a day.

Madrigal worked as a laborer for years. He earned $350 a week and didn’t have health insurance.

Hospital social workers helped him enroll in the county’s indigent care program. Funded by property tax dollars, the program covers health care for the county’s poorest residents.

He stayed on that plan until he was able to enroll in Medicaid.

Madrigal’s situation is common in Texas, where Medicaid and Medicare paid for two-thirds of the state’s diabetes-related hospital stays in 2010, according to the state’s health department.

And those stays aren’t cheap.

Diabetes hospitalizations on average cost about the same as a new Lincoln MKS luxury sedan: $48,720, or 50 percent more than hospitalizations not related to diabetes, according to state reports released in April 2012.

That’s because people with uncontrolled diabetes are more prone to infections and have a tougher time fighting them, Wilson said. A spike in blood glucose levels, even temporarily, can paralyze white blood cells for up to two weeks, compromising a person’s immune system, she said.

People with diabetes also face hefty indirect costs, such as reduced productivity and increased absenteeism from work.

A January 2012 in Health Affairs found that people with diabetes have harder times finding and keeping jobs and earn far less over their lifetimes than people without diabetes.

Tricare, which provides health benefits for military personnel and retirees and their families, spent $76.5 million on diabetes care in Texas alone in 2011. That’s up 14 percent from 2007, adjusted for inflation.
Pharmacy costs made up 44 percent, or $33.7 million in 2011, according to Tricare’s reports.

For Madrigal, it’s too late to prevent some of the debilitating long-term complications of diabetes, but he’s doing all he can — closely monitoring his diet, exercising on the stationary bike in his living room and following doctor’s orders. He’s lost 45 pounds. At his last checkup, his blood sugar had dropped to prediabetic levels.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Is the snow going to put a stop to the Superbowl XLV?

Texas has been plunged into a big freeze this week leading to fears over whether the Superbowl will survive the weather this weekend. Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers fans will be waiting on tenterhooks to find out if the unexpected snow storms will lead to the cancellation of the XLV (45th) Superbowl.

It was on Wednesday that a blanket of snow was hurled across the Texan landscape, bringing it with it an icy furore and bitter cold winds that shutdown power plants and airports, and turned roads into ice rinks.

The Cowboys Stadium is of course a state of the art Mecca; it can house over 100’000 fans in its various seating arrangements and 300 executive suites, while for those at the back there’s a 160 x 70 foot video wall suspended from the closed dome ceiling which puts you right in the centre of the action.

It's up for grabs, but will it be the Steelers or the Packers who take it?

With the covered roof, masses of bodies and that HUGE TV SET in there, there’s no fear of the pitch becoming frozen. The only possible problems that could affect the big event will likely come from power shortages.

A few local power stations succumbed to the weather earlier in the week which left thousands of homes in the dark, while the occupants had to endure a rough few hours in frozen conditions. Utility workers moved quickly to rectify the situation, but with a -6 cold snap expected on the big day they’ll be going all out to make sure nothing gets in the way.

On Wednesday Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesperson broadcast a Twitter message just after sun-up to inform the world that media activities would go to plan. He was true to his word and with the roof closed the Packers, Steelers and a whole clutch of reporters continued with their business ahead of Sunday’s game.

“The show goes on,” Aiello wrote. “Media day is on schedule. Drive carefully.”

The North Texas climate is usually moderate but this cold front has shown a frostier nature to the oil capital’s wintry side.

Players on both sides have felt the pinch too; even the Packers who must feel the cold conditions give them a little home comfort and advantage.

“It’s a little too cold for me,” said Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews. “Texas is supposed to be hot and humid. I was looking forward to that. I am a California guy.”

Steelers safety Ryan Clark was like a stuck record as he repeatedly said, “Man, it’s freezing in here!” between questions, and his team mate Hines Ward added, “It’s crazy. I didn’t even think it could snow in Texas!”

[adsense]On how badly the storm affected Texas and potentially the game, Suppovitz of the NFL said, “Wherever you go, you always want to have a contingency plan. In South Florida, we have a contingency plan for flooding. In Detroit, we had a contingency plan for snow. In Indianapolis next year, we’ll have similar plan like that for deep cold and snow.”

“Here, we had a contingency plan for frozen precipitation because ice is the thing that you have to be most concerned about.”

Michael Morris, the director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said sand truck crews gave the “bad storm” everything they had to keep roads clear.

“I don’t think the question is we will never have a Super Bowl again in a town that has had weather or the potential for bad weather,” he said. “I think they want to showcase the investment they’ve made in their stadiums. I think the judgment will be how ‘was our response?’ And I’m proud of our response.”
So it looks like the big game is going o be fine. It can snow all it likes with that big roof covering the stadium; and once the big event kicks of, the players and fans won’t care in the slightest what the weather is doing outside.

Let us know who you think will win this year’s Superbowl by leaving a comment.

While you wait for the big game reflect on some NFL legends like George Blanda, Don Meredith, Patrick Chung, Julius Peppers, and the best that never made it – Marcus Dupree.


Willie Nelson charged with possession of marijuana

Legendary Singer Willie Nelson was yesterday charged with possession of Marijuana after 6 ounces were found on his tour bus.  A Texas border patrol spokesman told the press that during a routine check an officer could smell pot and a search of the bus revealed the sizeable marijuana haul.

Bill Brooks, a border patrol spokesman, said that at about 9am on Friday the bus pulled into the Sierra Blanca checkpoint and an officer smelled pot when a door was opened. A thorough search resulted in officers finding the marijuana.

According to Brooks the Hudspeth County sheriff was called to the scene whereupon Nelson and two others were arrested.

Sheriff Arvin West later told the El Paso Times that Nelson had claimed ownership of all the marijuana.  Nelson was held in custody for a short while but after paying a $2500 bond the singer was released.

Nelson’s spokeswoman Elaine Schock has so far declined to comment on the incident despite several emails from the Associated Press.

Willie Hugh Nelson was born in Abbot, Texas on April 30, 1933, and is one of the country’s most respected artists.  At the grand age of 77 he is still writing and performing live, and his past life has been spent as a writer, musician, poet and political activist. His fame reached monumental proportions during the outlaw country movement of the 1970s, and he is still regarded as iconic in American popular culture.

Willie Nelson continues to tour and he has ranked alongside such prestigious names as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Dave Matthews. He also continues writing and recording albums at a prolific rate, often experimentally crossing genres which blend his unique style with reggae, blues, jazz, folk, and popular music.

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Read about other celebs with drug offences such as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Rapper TI, Charlie Sheen and Lief Garrett.


David Arquette fights for Calif climate law

Straight from his separation with Courtney Cox, quirky actor David Arquette has lent his celebrity weight to the campaign against a November ballot that would suspend California’s greenhouse gas emissions law.

The law, put in place in 2006, is there to encourage a statewide reduction in carbon emissions, bringing them back to the same levels as 1990 over the next decade.

In a one minute video called, “Don’t mess with California” Arquette is portrayed as the state of California, and dressed in an American-flag print kung-fu suit he proceeds to fend off the threat of thugs who represent Texan oil interests.

He visited Sacramento on Tuesday morning to promote the video and raise awareness of the campaign opposing Proposition 23.  Jared Ficker, head of the Green Technology Leadership Group said, “The spots will run on YouTube and other websites and are aimed at young voters who might not be won over by traditional campaign advertising.”

Ficker’s company are the brains behind the campaign and their action committee is also responsible for steering companies towards greener methods of energy use and production.

Oil companies have thrown a lot of money into supporting Proposition 23 which would see the 2006 law suspended and a potentially dangerous increase in greenhouse gas emissions from California.

Opponents of the law, known as AB 32 and set to be implemented in 2012, say it will cause unemployment and hurt smaller companies, however, Cleantech is a long term project which has projected the creation of 500,000 jobs in the next ten years – contradicting the spin from the oil companies.

Arquette is synonymous with the big screen but this is his first active foray into politics.  On the subject of his new mini-movie the 39 year old said, “It seemed like a great way to get the message across in a very intriguing way that young voters could tune into, start talking about, send to their friends, it’s all about getting people to the polls to vote for the future.”

He is not using the campaign as a distraction from his marriage troubles, “When I was told to come up here, that was a thought of mine,” he said, “but my belief is that the most important aspect of celebrity is you can raise awareness, lend your name and support to certain things and get people talking.  And that’s why I’m here.”

Click here to see Don’t mess with California

Share your thoughts on David’s political activism by leaving a comment.

Read about his separation from Courtney Cox, her IVF treatment and their combined victory over smoking.