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From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
October 2004

briefed by Jule Klotter
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Access to Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 2085/ S.1410)
Advocates for health freedom have been seeking federal legislation to ensure access to nonconventional medical treatments since shortly after the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. In May 2003, Dan Burton (R-IN) and Pete DeFazio (D-OR) jointly introduced the Access to Medical Treatment Act (AMTA) to the House of Representatives. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) presented the same legislation to the Senate two months later. Some form of AMTA has been introduced into four sessions of Congress. This version is identical to legislation that died in the 107th Congress

AMTA includes many safeguards that address safety concerns. Potential dangers posed by CAM treatments must be no greater than those posed by a comparable prescription medicine. If practitioners discover any dangers related to a treatment, they must stop using it and report their findings to the manufacturer and to the CDC. If practitioners discover any 'significant' benefits, they are to report these findings to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Only trained, licensed physicians or practitioners can administer CAM therapies under AMTA. Practitioners must explain to patients the treatment's benefits and side effects, and patients must sign a thorough informed consent document before the treatment is given. Although AMTA gives patients access to many treatments now used in other countries throughout the world, it does not authorize medical use of marijuana or assisted suicide.

American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF), founded in 1992, has made the passage of AMTA its main priority. Staff and members are busy educating and lobbying Congressional members for support, and they urge citizens to contact their representatives. AAHF's website ( contains information about AMTA and other health-related bills before Congress, including FDA-proposed regulations on dietary supplements.

Hill Brenna. May Update.
Eye on Health Freedom. Vol 04 Issue V
Office of Legislative Policy & Analysis. Access to Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 2085/ S.1410)

ADHD & Nutritional Deficiency
Retired public health scientists, Fred Ottoboni, MPH, PhD, and Alice Ottoboni, PhD, recently raised the question "Can Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Result from Nutritional Deficiency?" in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Summer 2003, pp.58–60). They contend that major changes in the U.S. diet over the last century have created a significant deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids and an excess of omega-6 fatty acids. The heavily-promoted vegetable oils sold in grocery stores contain high amounts of omega-6 fats and very little omega-3—a ratio of about 20 to 1. Our bodies, however, evolved on diets that provided a maximum of 4 parts of omega-6 to 1 part of omega-3. Every year, Americans consume about 66 pounds of the manufactured vegetable oils (safflower, corn, canola, etc.) that began to replace traditional fats like butter about a hundred years ago.

This radical change in diet has major consequences for infants. Research has shown that high consumption of vegetable fats and oils by pregnant women corresponds to low blood levels of DHA in both mothers and babies. Healthy development of the eyes and the brain require plenty of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in the fat of cold-water fish, and arachidonic acid (AA), an omega-6 fatty acid found in meat and eggs. Brain growth speeds up during the third trimester of pregnancy and continues until the child is about two years old. Infants whose mothers lack DHA during pregnancy and/or while nursing or whose nourishment consists of infant formula devoid of DHA or AA do not have the necessary building blocks for healthy brain and eye development. DHA deficiency afflicts much of the U.S. population. Average DHA levels found in the breast milk of U.S. women rank among the world's lowest.

The negative effects of too little omega-3 and too much omega-6 is compounded by the excessive consumption of starches and sugar. The high insulin levels that result are known to disrupt essential fatty acid metabolism. The Ottobonis also point out that high levels of omega-6 fatty acids along with EPA and DHA deficiencies, and/or high and unstable insulin levels, stimulate the enzyme delta-5 desaturase, used to produce inflammatory eicosanoids. These eicosanoids tell the body to produce more corticosteroids, such as cortisol. Cortisol impairs short-term memory and increases feelings of stress. Inflammatory eicosanoids also reduce brain levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of serotonin and dopamine are common among people diagnosed with ADHD.

The Ottobonis give several examples of research literature that link low levels of DHA and AA with ADHD. In a study of 56 children, for example, LJ Stevens and colleagues found that the children with the most severe symptoms had the lowest plasma levels of DHA and AA [Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;62(4):761–768]. Despite the link between attention deficit disorder and DHA deficiency, not all studies of DHA supplementation have shown benefits. Barry Sears believes that some studies used insufficient supplement doses. In addition, he says that researchers need to control intake of high-glycemic carbohydrates that quickly raise insulin levels and, thereby, disrupt fatty acid metabolism and affect brain chemistry. He gave children with ADHD 10–15 grams of DHA and EPA each day via pharmaceutical grade fish oil. He also restricted their intake of high-glycemic carbohydrates. The children's ability to concentrate and their behavior improved within weeks.

" The choice seems clear," the Ottobonis warn. "We can either continue to depend on prescription drugs to mask the symptoms of ADHD, or consider preventing ADHD by modifying the American diet, particularly for childbearing women and their children. Should we decide to continue to depend on prescription drugs, which do not remedy the underlying causes of nutritional deficiency disease, we can look forward to a country in which there will be more and more children with undersized brains who cannot learn, use costly prescription drugs, drop out of school, commit crimes, and cause anguish for their parents."

Ottoboni, Fred, MPH, PhD & Ottoboni, Alice, PhD. Can Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Result from Nutritional Deficiency? Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Summer 2003. pp 58–60.

Baroque Music & Dementia
Australian psychiatrist and musician Christian Heim led a study testing the effects of baroque music on 14 dementia patients living in a Newcastle nursing home. During the six-week observational study, specially-chosen Baroque music played at a low volume, for four hours each evening on a speaker system that reached all bedrooms and common areas. "Baroque" refers to music written during the late-1600s to mid-1700s and includes the composers Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, Corelli, and Telemann. Researchers chose slower pieces with a tempo of about 60 beats/minute, such as J.S. Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze" or the second movements of many concerti. Other studies have shown that such compositions produce alpha brain waves and "a state of calm, relaxed alertness." Throughout the six weeks, nursing staff took notes on patient behavior. The researchers found a 40% reduction in adverse behaviors that included wandering, distraction, inability to focus, calling out, verbal abuse, and agitation.

Janelle Tavender, Director of Nursing at Maroba Nursing Home where the study took place, described the effect that the music had on one patient during an Australian Broadcasting Corp. interview. The woman was very vocal and unable to focus long enough to eat. She also wandered into all the bedrooms and would strip the beds and "often herself." When the music was added to her environment, the patient could sit for five-minute periods and eat some food. Although she still wandered into other patients' bedrooms and would lie down on their beds, she no longer stripped the beds or herself. Because of the music's positive effect, staff has continued to use slow baroque pieces of music to calm her.

Baroque Dementia. The National Interest. 11 July 2004.
Baroque music 'calms dementia.' Herald Sun. 20 January 04.

Caffeine Allergy
For over 25 years, Ruth Whalen, a medical lab technician, suffered unexplained physical and mental deterioration. Her problems began with a case of hives during her senior year of high school that changed into an acute psychotic break when an emergency room doctor injected her with epinephrine (adrenaline). It wasn't until she was committed to a psychiatric ward that a doctor recognized that she wasn't bipolar or schizophrenic; she was allergic to the caffeinated products that she was ingesting.

Caffeine allergy causes reactions in brain tissue, particularly the prefrontal cortex, producing a lack of focus and comprehension, lack of organizational skills, and a loss of verbal and social inhibition. Caffeine also raises catecholamine levels, which causes the body to produce more dopamine and increases activity. Too much dopamine leads to agitation. These symptoms can be mistaken for hyperactivity and ADHD, anxiety neurosis, or panic disorders. If the allergy remains undiagnosed, patients continue to ingest caffeine. Damage caused by this masked cerebral allergy can eventually lead to dementia, paranoia, and hallucinations. Patients with caffeine allergy are often diagnosed as having bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Whalen warns that caffeine withdrawal can be difficult because both noradrenaline levels and glucose levels drop when caffeine is stopped. People feel a lack of motivation and lethargy that makes them think they are depressed. Ingesting caffeine raises noradrenaline levels again, turning on the "fight or flight" response and increasing adrenaline, dopamine, and glucose levels.

Whalen's experience raises important questions: How common is caffeine allergy? Is caffeine allergy a factor in the high numbers of ADHD and other psychiatric disorders?

Whalen, Ruth, MLT. Caffeine Allergy: A Hidden Allergy and Toxic Dementia.
Whalen, Ruth, MLT, BA. Caffeine Anaphylaxis: A Progressive Toxic Dementia. The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, First Quarter 2003.

Antidepressants for Children
FDA drug safety analyst Andrew Mosholder first noticed that some of GlaxoSmithKline's studies concerning its antidepressant Paxil showed an increase in the incidents of 'emotional lability' among patients under 18 years in Fall 2002. "Emotional lability" includes suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts. The FDA requested more information about the studies from the company and assigned Dr. Mosholder to analyze the data. In the summer of 2003, both the FDA and the British government, who had been performing its own investigation, recommended that Paxil not be given to patients under 18 years because of the increased risk of suicide.

The FDA extended its investigation of pediatric antidepressant use in July 2003, by asking the manufacturers of eight other antidepressants for information about their pediatric studies. Although Prozac is the only one that has been FDA-approved for pediatric use, doctors have also prescribed Zoloft, Luvox, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Effrexor, Serzone and Remeron to children. By December 2003, Dr. Mosholder told his colleagues that children taking antidepressants were more likely than those on a placebo to have suicidal tendencies: "3.2 vs. 1.7%, according to data from more than 4,000 trial subjects." About the same time, British regulators publicly recommended that doctors not prescribe any SSRI antidepressants, except Prozac, to depressed youngsters. Dr. Mosholder's superiors, however, were not eager to follow Britain's lead.

Critics doubted Dr. Mosholder's conclusion because of the inherent difficulty of determining if suicide is a side effect of the medication or a consequence of depression for which a patient is receiving treatment. In addition, they claimed that the definition of suicide behavior or a 'suicide event' was too subjective in many of the studies. Because of the subjective nature of classifying an incident as 'suicidal,' there's the risk that some have been misclassified. Even though his bosses considered the data in the pediatric studies to be unreliable, Dr. Mosholder "believed the mistakes ought to affect both the drug group and the placebo group equally, leaving the bottom line unchanged," according to a Wall Street Journal article (25 May 2004).

Dr. Mosholder asked for permission to present his findings to the February 2004 advisory committee meeting of outside experts who were scheduled to consider the possible risk. Permission was denied. Instead, those advisory committee members heard more about the unreliability of the data than Dr. Mosholder's analysis. Robert Temple, associate director for medical policy in the FDA's drug-evaluation center, explained that they didn't want to discourage potentially beneficial drugs "when we weren't sure that was the right thing to do, and it may be the wrong thing to do." The advisory committee decided to schedule another meeting in late summer 2004, to consider the results of an analysis performed at Columbia. On March 22, 2004, the FDA did ask that the labels of 10 antidepressants include a warning to watch for "worsening depression or the emergence of suicidality."

While published studies indicate that the benefits from using Prozac, Paxil (Seroxat in Britain), Zoloft, Celexa, and Effexor outweigh the risks, unpublished data tells another story. Britain's The Guardian relayed the results of a Lancet review that looked at unpublished data. The April 23, 2004, review found that only Prozac provided benefits that outweighed risks. Other antidepressants that the reviewers examined either showed no benefit when compared to a placebo and/or produced an increased risk of suicide or suicide thoughts. An editorial in the same issue of the Lancet pointed to an internal memo from GlaxoSmithKline that "demonstrated how it 'sought to manipulate the results of published research.'"

New York State attorney general Eliot Spitzer has filed a civil lawsuit against the British drug company GlaxoSmithKline. The lawsuit charges the company with fraud because it allegedly concealed the results of studies that directly contradicted its claims of efficacy and safety while actively marketing Paxil to U.S. doctors. At least four studies, performed between 1998 and 2002, found Paxil was either no more effective than the placebo and/or it had a higher risk of suicidal behavior than the placebo.

Mathews, Anna Wilde. Debate Over Antidepressants, FDA Weighted Risk of False Alarm. The Wall Street Journal 25 May 2004
SSRI dangers for children 'suppressed.' The Guardian. 23 April 2004
Teather, David & Boseley, Sarah. Glaxo faces drug fraud lawsuit. The Guardian. 3 June 2004

Genetics & Psychiatric Disorders
Why do some individuals react more to stress than others? The answer—at least partly—may lie in the genes. Researchers are investigating the interaction of genes and environmental stress. In 2000, researchers began studying mice that were genetically-altered to lack the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTT). 5-HTT helps 'recycle' serotonin after its release into the synapses between neurons. These mice behaved normally until they were exposed to a stressful environment; then they displayed "unusually fearful" behavior and had increased levels of stress-related hormones. When rhesus macaques with a short version of the serotonin transporter gene are raised in a stressful environment, they also have impaired serotonin function. When raised in a normal environment, however, macaques with a short version of the gene have normal serotonin function.

Genes apparently have a role in human stress response as well. Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt, and colleagues looked at the 5-HTT genes in 847 New Zealanders (Science, V01.301, No. 5631, July 18, 2003). They found that only 17% carried two copies of the 'stress sensitive' short version of the 5-HTT gene while 31% had two copies of the 'stress protective' long version. Most of the people (51%) had one of each. The researchers narrowed their study group to people who had suffered multiple stressful life events between the ages of 21 and 26. Forty-three percent of this group had two copies of the stress-sensitive, short version of the gene, and only 17% had two copies of the long version. Those with two 'short' 5-HTT genes in this multiple-stressor group were also more likely to have contemplated or attempted suicide: 11% compared to 4% of those with the long version.

Mice, monkeys offer clues to role of genes in violence and psychiatric disorders. CRIMETimes, Vol. 9, No. 3, 2003.

Long-Lasting Effects of Meditation
When Western scientists first began studying the effects of meditation in the 1970s, they noticed that heart rate, perspiration, and other signs of stress decreased as the meditator relaxed. Scientists, like Richard Davidson, PhD (University of Wisconsin), have also been considering the long-term effects of meditation. In 1992, Davidson received an invitation from the 14th Dalai Lama to come to northern India and study the brains of Buddhist monks, the foremost meditators in the world. Davidson traveled to India with laptop computers, generators, and EEG recording equipment, thus initiating an ongoing study. Now, Buddhist monks travel to his Wisconsin lab where they meditate while in a magnetic imaging machine or they watch disturbing visual images as EEGs record their responses to see how they regulate emotional reactions.

Any activity—including meditation—will create new pathways and strengthen certain areas of the brain. "This fits into the whole neuroscience literature of expertise," says Stephen Kosslyn, a Harvard neuroscientist, in a New York Times article (14 September 2003), "where taxi drivers are studied for their spatial memory and concert musicians are studied for their sense of pitch. If you do something, anything, even play Ping-Pong, for 20 years, eight hours a day, there's going to be something in your brain that's different from someone who didn't do that. It's just got to be." Buddhist monks practice three forms of meditation: 1) focused attention on a single object for long time periods 2) cultivating compassion by thinking about anger-causing situations and transforming the negative emotion into compassion and 3) 'open presence,' "a state of being acutely aware of whatever thought, emotion or sensation is present without reacting to it."

Knowing the effects that meditation has on the monks' brains, Davidson decided to see what effect meditation has on neophytes. He set up a study with 41 employees at a nearby biotech company in Wisconsin (Psychosomatic Medicine 65: 564–570, 2003). Twenty-five of the participants learned 'mindfulness meditation,' a stress-reducing form that promotes nonjudgmental awareness of the present and is taught by Jon Kabat-Zinn. They learned the practice during a 7-hour retreat and weekly classes. During that 8-week period, these participants were asked to meditate for one hour each day, six days a week. Brain measurements were taken before instruction, at the end of the eight weeks, and four months later. Measurements showed that meditation increased activity in the left frontal region of the brain, "an area linked to reduced anxiety and a positive emotional state." Also, at the end of the 8 weeks, the participants and 16 controls who did not meditate received flu shots to test immune responses. When researchers took blood samples from them one month and two months after the injections, they found that the meditators had more antibodies against the flu virus than the non-meditators. Davidson and colleagues said that people with the strongest immune response also had more left-sided brain activity.

Hall, Stephen S. Is Buddhism Good for Your Health? New York Times. September 14 2003
Meditation Helps with Anxiety and General Health. 7 February 2003.

In an article published in Latitudes (Vol 6, Issue 2), Aristo Vojdani, PhD, MT, discusses the difference between non-autoimmune obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with Group A streptococcal infection). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder involves an unintentional and uncontrollable replay of thoughts or actions. In an attempt to reduce the anxiety that arises when the obsession cannot be stopped, people with OCD develop a set of actions or rituals that involve washing and cleaning, checking (i.e., that the stove is off), symmetry, counting, repeating, redoing, and hoarding in order to hold their fear at bay. In many cases, OCD is preceded by a major stressor, such as a family member's illness or job loss. Children with OCD tendencies have linked hearing bad news about war or terrorism or seeing frightening movies to their developing "full-blown" OCD. The rituals that OCD patients use to calm their fears do not always have a noticeable link to the obsessive thought(s) plaguing them, and scientists do not understand why some have a compulsion to clean and others turn to hoarding—or why these symptoms may change. Scientists have discovered that adults with OCD have more activity in the caudate nucleus, orbital frontal regions of the brain, and basal ganglia. Basal ganglia, "the thought-filtering station," has many serotonin receptors. OCD patients respond to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and to behavior therapy, according to research by Dr. J. Schwartz and colleagues at UCLA.

About 25% to 30% of children with OCD may actually have PANDAS, a disorder in which the body's immune cells attack its own B-cells or the basal ganglia while fighting streptococcus. Chiildren who develop OCD, tic disorders, or anorexia nervosa after a streptococcal infection need to be checked for serum antibodies against streptococcal antigens and their cross-reactive epitopes on B-cells and nerve cells. (Immunosciences Lab, phone 310–657–1077 or 800–950–4686, offers a PANDAS panel.) In contrast to non-autoimmune OCD which may take years to develop, PANDAS symptoms appear quickly. Also, OCD symptoms increase and decrease sharply in PANDAS while changes in OCD symptoms among non-autoimmune OCD patients are more gradual. In addition to OCD, children with PANDAS may display numerous other symptoms that include tics, trembling, twitches, grimacing, clumsiness, loss of math skills, sensitivity to touch and clothing tags, poor attention span, distractibility, irritability, impulsivity, separation anxiety, and bedtime fears. Dr. Vojdani says that PANDAS treatments being investigated include plasmapheresis to remove autoantibodies reacting to B-cell receptors and basal ganglia cells, intravenous immunoglobulin, and daily doses of amoxicillin as a prophylactic measure.

Vojdani, Aristo, PhD, MT. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Differentiation between Non-Autoimmune OCD and the Autoimmune version of the disease called PANDAS. Latitudes, Vol. 6, Issue 2, 2003.

Photic Stimulation
Photic stimulation—whether from a strobe lamp or a device like the Biolight or Little Calm Machine—affects brain wave frequency and can be used to reduce anxiety and pain. Electromagnetic brain waves are influenced through entrainment; they follow compatible frequencies in the environment much like a tuning fork will vibrate, without being struck, if a compatible pitch sounds. When people watch a light that pulses at 10 cycles (Hz) per second, their brain waves take on the calm, but alert, alpha frequencies (8 to 12 Hz). If the pulse declines to 5 or 6 cycles per second, theta brain waves arise bringing a deeply relaxed, dream-like state.

An Australian website ( lists several studies involving photic stimulation devices and their ability to calm anxiety, reduce pain, and relieve headaches. Dr. Norman Shealy and Dr. Richard Cox used photic stimulation devices on more than 5,000 patients suffering from chronic pain and stress symptoms during the 1980s. Their studies found that 88 out of 92 patients responded to 30-minute sessions at 10 Hz with significant relaxation. Thirty patients responded to 5 Hz after 5 minutes, reporting relaxation and pain relief. Relaxation increased when photic stimulation was used in combination with relaxation audio tapes. Dr. Thomas Budzynski programmed a device between 3 and 7 Hz and found that it induced a hypnotic state within 10 to 15 minutes. Patients report feeling relaxed and having a sense of well-being at the end of the session—an effect that lasts for 3–4 days for the majority. Dr. Norman Thomas and David Siever found that stress and nervousness indicators (index skin temperature and muscular tension measured with an EMG) showed greater levels of relaxation in people using a photic stimulation device at 10 Hz for 15 minutes than those using autosuggestion relaxation exercises.

What I find so interesting about this research is that we are so responsive to environmental frequencies—light and sound. If we can use pulsing light and Baroque music to calm brain waves intentionally, what frequencies in our home and work environments are affecting us unintentionally, perhaps even promoting stress and anxiety?

Budzynski, Thomas, PhD, et al. Academic Performance Enhancement with Photic Stimulation and EDR Feedback. Journal of Neurotherapy (3–3)2.
Photic Stimulation Research.

Tracking Moral Choices
Philosopher Joshua Greene is working with neuroscientist Jonathan Cohen and other scientists at Princeton's brain-imaging center to understand how the brain responds to moral dilemmas. Greene created three categories of questions for volunteers to consider while a magnetic resonance imaging scanner generates images of their brain's activity: non-moral questions (e.g., whether to ride a bus or train to work), impersonal moral choices that don't involve physical contact with another person, and personal moral choices. In his article "Whose Life Would You Save?" (Discover, April 2004), Carl Zimmer gives an example of an impersonal moral choice that Greene's volunteers face: "Imagine you're at the wheel of a trolley and the brakes have failed. You're approaching a fork in the track at top speed. On the left side, five rail workers are fixing the track. On the right side, there is a single worker. If you do nothing, the trolley will bear left and kill the five workers. The only way to save five lives is to take the responsibility for changing the trolley's path by hitting a switch. Then you will kill one worker. What would you do?" In contrast, a personal moral dilemma involves physically contacting another human being. Again, Zimmer uses the runaway trolley scenario; but this time, instead of being at the wheel, you are on a footbridge, watching the trolley fly down a single track toward 5 workers. The only way to stop the trolley is to push the large man standing next to you in front of the trolley and blocking its motion. In both situations, one life may be sacrificed to save five; but in the impersonal dilemma, you hit a switch and condemn a man to his death. In the personal moral choice, you push a man to his death.

As Greene accumulated data, he found that impersonal moral decisions and personal moral decisions tend to stimulate different areas of the brain. Impersonal moral decisions, like non-moral choices, activate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (on the surface of the brain near the temples), an area that takes part in comparing several pieces of information and logical thinking. Personal moral questions activate brain areas that have to do with empathy for others, interpreting body language, and strong emotions—i.e., the area behind the center of the forehead, the superior temporal sulcus, the posterior cingulate, and the precuneus. Greene believes that these areas form a neural network that holds the emotional instincts that underlie many of our moral judgments. In most people either the logical-reasoning network or the emotional-intuitive areas predominate. When both areas respond equally, however, people have difficulty making a decision. Greene has noticed that his volunteers take about the same amount of time to respond to a non-moral question and an impersonal moral question. However, it takes them almost twice as long to say 'yes' to a personal moral question (in which they are agreeing to personally harm or kill another) as to say 'no.' Arriving at a 'yes' in these cases means that logic and emotion battle it out. Brain scans show that the logical network and the emotional network are both active, as is the anterior cingulate cortex, an area of the brain that mediates between conflicting input.

Greene is also finding evidence that cultural values, personal experience, and genetics actually create different patterns in our "moral circuitry." For example, moral questions involving purity activate the emotional network in people from India whereas Americans tend to react to questions involving individual autonomy. Researchers believe that the emotional responses that underlie and guide our moral decisions are learned at a young age. Greene hopes that this research on moral judgments and brain responses will bring understanding and more objectivity to people's discussions of moral issues.

Zimmer, Carl. Whose Life Would You Save? Discover April 2004


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