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Bay Area diet doctor peddles extreme weight loss, loses license … – KGO

“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days,” sounds like an amazing diet, but a San Lorenzo doctor has lost his license in connection with the program after a state undercover investigation.

The diet involves eating just 500 calories a day, and that can be a serious shock to your system. The bottom line–make sure a doctor is directly overseeing your diet if you’re going to try something this extreme.

There is a connection between a medical office in San Lorenzo and a spa 400 miles away. People from both locations now have criminal convictions in connection with the A Slim Me diet plan.

“We had no clue that what we were doing was incorrect,” said Maryanne Kuzara who works on the program. “It tells the body to take every single nutrient that’s locked in the fat, flush it into the blood stream to be utilized.”

HCG is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy, and in prescription form, it’s normally used for fertility treatments. The FDA has not approved HCG as a diet aide saying, “There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss,” and that they’ve received reports of “pulmonary embolism, depression, cerebrovascular issues, cardiac arrest and death” associated with HCG injections for dieting.

“Cause really, if you want to do a self-injection, we’ll do one today,” said Kuzara’s sister Therese Rickard, who was caught treating a patient on hidden camera.

When asked what the worst case scenario is in a situation like this, Cassandra Hockenson of the Medical Board of California said, “Somebody could have died.”

When the state medical board received a complaint about A Slim Me’s HCG program, they sent an undercover investigator.

The owner’s sister offered prescription HCG injections without a doctor having seen the patient, as required by law.

“An individual could be diabetic and they don’t know it and who’s checking, you know, I mean who’s looking at them to see if there’s more that they need, that’s why it’s so important,” Hockenson continued.

Investigators learned that the spa’s doctor lived 400 miles away in San Lorenzo. Allen Fujimoto, 83, declined to speak with us on camera, citing health issues. In his interview with investigators, he admitted training A Slim Me’s owner and her sister once in 2009 and that they purchased HCG using his license.

“They dispense the medication and then I sign it late,” he said.

Fujimoto also claimed he visited the spa every two months to review charges and that he rarely saw patients at A Slim Me during the past seven years.

The California medical board took away Fujimoto’s license, effective this past New Year’s Eve and he pled guilty to aiding and abetting an unlicensed practice of medicine. So did Kuzara. Her sister pled guilty to the unlicensed practice of medicine–all misdemeanors.

You would think a criminal conviction that brought a $1,000 fine, suspended jail sentence and three years of probation, Mary Anne Kuzara would be careful about how she runs her business now.

We asked an orange county woman to call A Slim Me for an HCG appointment just two-and-a-half weeks ago.

“And they said, ‘Okay, well the doctor will be in at 12.'”

When Taylor arrived, no doctor. She tells us it was Kuzara, who described the supposed benefits of HGC and then a physician’s assistant offered an injection right then and there.

“Other than him telling me he could inject me, that was like, the end of our conversation,” Taylor said.

Kuzara says she has a new doctor and that his assistant spoke with Taylor that day. If she had decided to go through with the injection the physician’s assistant would have done a more thorough medical exam.

“And that if they had decided to get on the program, he would have written them a prescription and he would have filed it for them,” said Kuzara.

The medical board tells us a health care professional should actually do the consultation from the start so they’re taking another look at the spa and how it works.

Kuzara says she has just sold most of her interest in the business. By the way you can take HCG for weight loss if a doctor approves, but it’s considered an off-label use.

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The Latest Thinking On How To Prevent Cancer, From Smoking And Diet To Sleep

This story is part of our “This Moment In Cancer” series. Sign up here to get series updates in your inbox.

Cancer seems to strike so randomly that the idea that we might have any control over it may seem foolish.

Certainly, no one can entirely protect themselves against the disease. But it’s increasingly clear that lifestyle factors can have a major impact on cancer risk — affecting most cancers, experts say.

If smoking and obesity can be reduced, “We are going to see decreases in cancer mortality, at least over the next decade or two, that dwarf anything I and my colleagues can produce in terms of new, miraculous cures,” says professor Bob Weinberg, a biologist at MIT and the Whitehead Institute who has spent a lifetime devoted to seeking cancer cures.

“Without any doubt, the greatest decreases in cancer-associated mortality will come from preventing the disease rather than trying to treat it, as I try to do,” he says. “Thus, a conservative person would say between 50 and 60 percent of cancer deaths are preventable today. Not by the development of new drugs, but by stopping smoking, by retaining a reasonably lean figure.”

Smoking

Smoking rates are down nationwide, but cigarettes still play a role in about 40 percent of all cancers, according to a CDC report from November. Enough said.

Diet

Next up, unfortunately for many of us, is obesity, which has been implicated in more and more cancers as Americans have gotten larger and larger.

Diet and nutrition studies are notoriously difficult to conduct, so researchers can’t say with any certainty whether a weight gain of a particular amount at a specific time will increase cancer risk.

But large population-based studies like the Nurses Health Study have suggested that overall, people who are heavier are at higher risk for more than a dozen cancer types.

It’s also difficult to tie specific foods to cancer risk, but researchers believe that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and olive oil — the classic Mediterranean diet– is healthier than a high-fat and highly processed American one. Red meat — particularly processed red meat like cold cuts and, unfortunately, bacon — may pose extra cancer risk.

That doesn’t mean you have to go cold turkey on meat, researchers say, but generally eating less is healthier than eating more.

“The more processed meat, the more red meat you take, potentially the higher your risk,” says Dr. Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist and oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We do think that modest portions of meat are probably fine.”

In general, no food needs to be completely eliminated, as long as you eat it in moderation, says Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, a senior physician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“Personally, I don’t think there’s enough evidence to say that any particular food should never be consumed,” she says. But evidence does suggest that diets that are good for the heart, like the Mediterranean diet, are also good for moderating cancer risk.

People who lose large amounts of weight through bariatric surgery are at significantly lower risk of cancer, which suggests that “the weight itself is directly linked to the risk of developing many cancers,” says Ligibel, whose own research focuses on lifestyle changes to prevent breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence.

Ligibel says it’s not completely clear why excess weight increases cancer risk, but it may be because the extra pounds can trigger damaging inflammation. “We know that excess weight impacts not only inflammation but also metabolism and the immune system,” she says.

Exercise

Exercise likely makes a difference too. In breast cancer, research suggests that physically active people are at 20 percent lower risk for developing the disease than inactive people; in colorectal cancer, there’s a 30 to 40 percent lower risk.

You don’t have to run marathons to get a benefit, though. Ligibel says a 30-minute brisk walk every day, or 150 minutes per week, has been linked to lower cancer risk.

For women, the benefits of this kind of exercise appear to be present even after menopause, she says, and exercise seems to be effective even at reducing the risk of aggressive, hormone-independent breast cancers, which remain the hardest to treat.

“It’s never too late to start,” she says.

And if you carry a few extra pounds, getting exercise is probably just as important for you as for people who are slim, she says.

“Anything you’re able to do is better than nothing,” Ligibel says. “Even if you’re not losing a lot of weight through your exercise, we do have evidence to suggest that [getting exercise and eating a healthy diet] are still beneficial.”

Sleep

Getting enough sleep also impacts cancer risk. Although researchers are still trying to understand the connection between sleep deprivation, the body clock, and cancer, there’s evidence of a link.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that sleep deficiency and disruption of the circadian clock increase the risk of a variety of different types of cancer,” says Dr. Charles Czeisler, a sleep expert at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

People who work the night shift long-term are at higher risk of developing cancer, studies suggest. And people who are chronically sleep-deprived also seem to carry a higher risk of cancer, he says.

It’s not yet clear why, though the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin seems to play a key role, Czeisler says.

“It would appear that melatonin helps to keep cancer at bay, and light suppresses the release of melatonin,” he says. “If we stay up all night, either working on our screens or just having fun, our exposure to light during the night is going to suppress the release of that hormone.”

Women who are totally blind have half the breast cancer risk of those who are visually impaired but can still see some light, Czeisler says. His research has found that Icelandic men who are chronically sleep-deprived are four times more likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than men who sleep well. And animal research has shown that tumors grow faster in animals with disrupted sleep, he says.

Alcohol

Another lifestyle change you can make to reduce your cancer risk — and again, this probably isn’t a surprise — is to avoid drinking too much.

Although up to one drink a day for women and two for men has been associated with healthy living, more than that can boost cancer risk, Ligibel says. People who smoke and drink are at even higher risk, because of what appears to be a synergistic effect, she says.

Vitamins

The American Cancer Society, among others, recommends against using supplements to prevent cancer. Earlier studies of vitamins like E and selenium found that they actually increased risk of cancer rather than preventing it. There is some interest now in vitamin D. But it’s safest to get that from sunlight and diet.

Medications

While most cancers are a combination of lifestyle and environment, cervical cancer and some head and neck cancers have been linked to the contagious human papilloma virus, or HPV. Young adolescents are generally encouraged to get vaccinated against HPV to prevent these types of cancers.

Since most cancers are not caused by infectious agents, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to prevent a lot more cancers with vaccines, experts say, though some researchers are developing vaccines to help people who already have cancer better fight off the disease.

Breast cancer treatment drugs like tamoxifen and the newer estrogen-lowering drugs called aromatase inhibitors have been found to cut in half the risk of hormonally-driven breast cancers in women with an increased risk of developing breast cancer and in women over 60. But because the drugs have side effects, they are mainly taken by those at particularly high risk for breast cancer, Ligibel says.

Chan, at MGH, says he’s increasingly convinced that aspirin can help reduce the risk of several types of cancer.

“There’s definitely very strong evidence that people who take aspirin have a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer,” and perhaps other cancers, says Chan, a leading researcher in this area.

The research is still too preliminary to suggest that everyone should be taking aspirin to reduce their cancer risk — aspirin carries its own risks, and people should talk to their doctor before beginning any new medication, Chan notes. But people who are already taking a baby aspirin a day to help prevent heart disease may also see an extra benefit in cancer risk reduction.

Mental Attitude

There isn’t much solid data about attitude and cancer, other than an emphatic statement from experts that people should not blame themselves if they get cancer.

But your mental state might have some effect. Just last week a study in the British Medical Journal found that people who reported high levels of anxiety or depression were more likely to die of cancer than people who did not suffer this kind of distress.

This doesn’t prove cause-and-effect, but it does hint that the immune system might not fight off cancer as well in someone who is under this kind of stress.

Chan says it’s clear that mental and physical health are linked; people who are depressed are less likely to take good care of their health, for instance. But the connection to cancer still needs more research.

Understanding the biological pathways that are common to psychological stress and cancer might offer new treatment possibilities, he says. “There is definitely some overlap between some of the things we think of as being clearly psychological issues and some that clearly have a biological basis for disease, such as cancer,” he says.

The bottom line, Chan and other experts say, is that most of the same things we all know we’re supposed to do to be healthy also help prevent cancer. Although you may feel like you have no control over cancer, your actions can make a significant difference, regardless of the genetic hand you’ve been dealt.

“Anything you can do to modify your behavior and do what you can to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I think will be value added down the line,” Chan says.

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ON ABC7 NEWS AT 11: Bay Area doctor busted in connection with extreme diet program – KGO

“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days,” sounds like an amazing diet, but a San Lorenzo doctor has lost his license in connection with the program after a state undercover investigation.

The diet involves eating just 500 calories a day, and that can be a serious shock to your system. The bottom line–make sure a doctor is directly overseeing your diet if you’re going to try something this extreme.

There is a connection between a medical office in San Lorenzo and a spa 400 miles away. People from both locations now have criminal convictions in connection with the A Slim Me diet plan.

“We had no clue that what we were doing was incorrect,” said Maryanne Kuzara who works on the program. “It tells the body to take every single nutrient that’s locked in the fat, flush it into the blood stream to be utilized.”

HCG is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy, and in prescription form, it’s normally used for fertility treatments. The FDA has not approved HCG as a diet aide saying, “There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss,” and that they’ve received reports of “pulmonary embolism, depression, cerebrovascular issues, cardiac arrest and death” associated with HCG injections for dieting.

“Cause really, if you want to do a self-injection, we’ll do one today,” said Kuzara’s sister Therese Rickard, who was caught treating a patient on hidden camera.

When asked what the worst case scenario is in a situation like this, Cassandra Hockenson of the Medical Board of California said, “Somebody could have died.”

When the state medical board received a complaint about A Slim Me’s HCG program, they sent an undercover investigator.

The owner’s sister offered prescription HCG injections without a doctor having seen the patient, as required by law.

“An individual could be diabetic and they don’t know it and who’s checking, you know, I mean who’s looking at them to see if there’s more that they need, that’s why it’s so important,” Hockenson continued.

Investigators learned that the spa’s doctor lived 400 miles away in San Lorenzo. Allen Fujimoto, 83, declined to speak with us on camera, citing health issues. In his interview with investigators, he admitted training A Slim Me’s owner and her sister once in 2009 and that they purchased HCG using his license.

“They dispense the medication and then I sign it late,” he said.

Fujimoto also claimed he visited the spa every two months to review charges and that he rarely saw patients at A Slim Me during the past seven years.

The California medical board took away Fujimoto’s license, effective this past New Year’s Eve and he pled guilty to aiding and abetting an unlicensed practice of medicine. So did Kuzara. Her sister pled guilty to the unlicensed practice of medicine–all misdemeanors.

You would think a criminal conviction that brought a $1,000 fine, suspended jail sentence and three years of probation, Mary Anne Kuzara would be careful about how she runs her business now.

We asked an orange county woman to call A Slim Me for an HCG appointment just two-and-a-half weeks ago.

“And they said, ‘Okay, well the doctor will be in at 12.'”

When Taylor arrived, no doctor. She tells us it was Kuzara, who described the supposed benefits of HGC and then a physician’s assistant offered an injection right then and there.

“Other than him telling me he could inject me, that was like, the end of our conversation,” Taylor said.

Kuzara says she has a new doctor and that his assistant spoke with Taylor that day. If she had decided to go through with the injection the physician’s assistant would have done a more thorough medical exam.

“And that if they had decided to get on the program, he would have written them a prescription and he would have filed it for them,” said Kuzara.

The medical board tells us a health care professional should actually do the consultation from the start so they’re taking another look at the spa and how it works.

Kuzara says she has just sold most of her interest in the business. By the way you can take HCG for weight loss if a doctor approves, but it’s considered an off-label use.

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Worried about your diet? This app lets your phone scan food for harmful chemicals


The phone’s display acts as the light source, beaming colors at an object while the camera captures details about the reflected color.


Image: Udo Seiffert/Fraunhofer IFF

The makers of an industrial hyperspectral camera called HawkSpex have created an app that lets you use your smartphone’s existing camera and display to scan an object and see what’s inside it.

German firm Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation hopes consumers will find its HawkSpex app useful for things such as testing for pesticides in fruit sold as organic or scanning cosmetics to tell whether they’re authentic.

The company targets its existing industrial scanner at manufacturing processes, but it requires a special spectral camera to capture and analyze the light reflected from the surface of an object.

Knowing that certain spectrum ranges are associated with a substance allows the sensor, combined with software analysis, to generate a fingerprint for each substance.

The forthcoming consumer app, scheduled for release towards the end of 2017, can perform similar analyses with a smartphone’s camera. This capability has been achieved by reversing the process it uses to acquire fingerprints using the spectral camera, according to professor Udo Seiffert of the Fraunhofer IFF.

“The [phone’s] camera gives us a broadband three-channel sensor, that is, one that scans every wavelength and illuminates an object with different colored light,” he said.

The phone’s display acts as the light source, rapidly beaming a series of colors at an object while the camera captures details about the reflected color. An algorithm, optimized for the smartphone’s hardware, performs an analysis of the object’s chemical composition.

According to Fraunhofer IFF, the company has finished the first version of the app, but is holding off on a private beta until it’s developed features to support scanning different objects.

If the app works as planned, Fraunhofer IFF may find it easier to distribute to consumers than similar technology in the recently announced H2 phone, which features a dedicated material sensor from Consumer Physics.

Consumer Physics has sold a handheld molecular scanner called SCiO for several years, but scaled it down to a sensor format small enough for smartphone. It will rely on third-party developed apps that are customized to analyze different objects.

In contrast, Fraunhofer IFF says it will be taking a “Wikipedia approach” to its app, allowing consumers to add support for different objects. Consumers would send data from each scan to Fraunhofer IFF, whose engineers would verify the measurements and then update the app.

“Once the app is launched on the market by the end of this year, active users will be able to contribute to the whole big thing and create new applications, for instance, that test pesticide exposure of heads of lettuce, by teaching the system such problems,” Seiffert said.

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Weight loss plan depends on personality type, says ‘Biggest Loser’ trainer

You’ve probably heard that your personality type drives your career and relationship decisions, but what about your weight loss plan?

Jen Widerstrom, a health and fitness trainer from NBC’s ‘The Biggest Loser,’ believes finding a diet plan isn’t about a one-size-fits-all approach— it’s about doing what best suits you.

“For [an author] to write a diet plan and not include the reader, you’re already starting them off with failure, because I don’t want them to do what I’m doing, I want them to lean into who they are,” Widerstrom told Fox News. 

More on this…

In Wiederstrom’s new book, ‘Diet Right for Your Personality Type,’ she categorizes people into these five different personality groups, giving them a customized 4-week diet and fitness plan.

THE ORGANIZED DOER
A person who craves routines and rules, is results oriented but is self-critical and who neglects to celebrate their success and progress, fits in this type. They would do “best on a diet that is highly structured, with prescribed foods and recipes to eat at each meal,” Widerstrom explains in the book.

THE SWINGER
This is someone who is social and extroverted but requires accountability. They are always trying the latest diet and have a “seeing is believing” mindset. A Swinger needs a lot of options to satisfy their desires and not feel too restrained by a strict diet plan, Widerstrom said.

THE REBEL
These spontaneous and impulsive types have high energy and dislike routine. They can become inconsistent in dieting and exercise and are often noncommittal.

“Because there is a lack of attention to detail, [they] don’t think about portion size, [they’re] not really tuned in to [their] hunger cues, and end up overeating at meals,” Widerstrom said.

Rebels also need their workouts early in the day, since their disorganization can lead them to a local happy hour rather than the gym, she said.

THE EVERYDAY HERO
People in this group are collaborative, committed friends. They may get overloaded at times, which can cause inconsistencies with exercise and even a habit of relying on grab-and-go foods or drive-throughs.

“They would never take on a new task or even invest in themselves if it was competing with something else that was already in their life, like for a spouse or a child,” Widerstrom said.

To stay on track, Everyday Heroes need to rely on others for support so they can invest more time into their personal health, she wrote in the book.

THE NEVER-EVER
They can be smart and efficient when they want to be, but Never-Evers are often filled with negative self-talk and pessimism. Finding a workout buddy or a personal trainer can help them succeed. They’re people that can flourish with the power of accountability.

Whatever personality you are, Widerstrom has a few foundational health rules that apply to everyone.

“I honestly want you having consistent sleep. Really make sure you get quality rest, it’s the only time your body recovers. Number two is hydration, you don’t realize it but your body can’t decipher between ‘I’m thirsty’ and ‘I’m hungry’ and that’s where cravings come from,’ Widerstrom said. “And finally it’s that nutritional timing, having that snack stash. I’ll have a pear or a banana or almonds or even just a healthy bar so I know that I’m setting myself up to put fuel in my body.”

For more visit teamjennifer.com.

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