July 30, 2015

It's healthier to cook with LARD than sunflower oil

 Lard

From the BBC    It's healthier to cook with LARD than sunflower oil

A team from BBC's Trust Me, I'm A Doctor conducted new research that revealed what we thought we knew about cooking oils is plain wrong. Most people had come to the seemingly obvious, conclusion that frying with vegetable oils has to be healthier than cooking with animal fat. But is it?  For the problem is that when fats and oils are heated they change, and as they do so they produce chemicals that may cause heart disease and cancer.

When fats and oils are heated to a high temperature, they undergo what is called oxidation: they react with oxygen in the air to form substances such as aldehydes and lipid peroxides. At room temperature something similar happens, though more slowly. When fats go rancid they have been oxidized, and it results in the same by-products. It is these aldehydes they form that are the problem. Consuming or inhaling them, even in small amounts, has been linked to increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

'We found that oils which were polyunsaturated-rich - corn oil and sunflower oil - generated very high levels of aldehydes,' Professor Grootveld told me….Aldehydes, which are known promoters of cancer, heart disease and dementia when eaten or inhaled, were present in levels up to 20 times higher than recommended by the World Health Organization.

Sunflower and corn oil are fine, but only as long as you don't subject them to heat, such as frying or cooking,' said Professor Grootveld. 'It's a simple chemical fact that something which is thought to be healthy for us is converted into something that is unhealthy at frying temperatures.'

They advise:

• To reduce production of harmful aldehydes, go for a product high in mono or saturated fat (preferably greater than 60 per cent) and low in polyunsaturates (less than 20 per cent).
• The ideal compromise for cooking purposes is olive oil 'because it is about 76 per cent monunsaturates, 14 per cent saturates and 10 per cent polyunsaturates'.
• In view of its high saturate content, coconut oil is also recommended.

Lard vs. Coconut Oil

if you mix 1 part olive oil with 1 part coconut oil, the resulting mixture of fats will match lard’s fat composition numbers almost exactly. Butter and ghee are a little more balanced than olive oil and coconut oil but they have nearly twice the percentage of saturated fat that lard has.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Longevity and Well-being

Want Great Longevity and Health? It Takes a Village in the Wall Street Journal
The secrets of the world’s longest-lived people include community, family, exercise and plenty of beans.

In a string of whitewashed villages in the mountains of the Italian island of Sardinia, there are 21 centenarians in a population of 10,000. Only about four in 10,000 Americans reach the 100-year mark. So what do the Sardinians know that our own diet-and-health obsessed country doesn’t?
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The notion of a genetic advantage has been called into question. According to Dr. Pes, several studies have shown that the genetic markers of the centenarians—including markers associated with cardiovascular mortality, cancer and inflammation—don’t diverge significantly from those of the general population.
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The cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world was the humble bean. One five-country study showed that beans were the only food that predicted a longer life—for each 20-gram serving (about two tablespoons) eaten a day, the chance of dying dropped by 8%. Fava beans in Sardinia, black beans in Costa Rica, lentils in Ikaria, soybeans in Okinawa. Seventh-Day Adventists, America’s longest-lived subculture, eat all kinds of beans, taking their cue from God’s injunction, in the book of Genesis, to eat the fruits of “seed-bearing plants.”
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When it comes to longevity, the long-standing support of a community is significant. In the U.S., you’re likely to die eight years earlier if you’re lonely, compared with people who have strong social networks. In Sardinia, “One hand washes the other, and they both wash the face,” as Mr. Pinna told me, summing up the social symbiosis.
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A fanatic zeal for family has also survived here. Neither work, hobbies, friends nor a sports team would ever divert serious attention away from a spouse or children. In turn, parents and grandparents move serenely into old age, secure in the knowledge that their children will care for them. There are no retirement homes here.
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they lived in cultures that made the right decisions for them. They lived in places where fresh vegetables were cheap and accessible. Their kitchens were set up so that making healthy food was quick and easy. Almost every trip to the store, a friend’s house, work or school occasioned a walk. Their houses didn’t have mechanized conveniences to do house work, kitchen work or yard work; they did it by hand. People in the blue zones were nudged into physical activity every 20 minutes, my team estimated. This activity not only burned 500 to 1,000 calories a day; it also kept their metabolisms humming at a higher rate.

Drink tea.  Warm or iced Two cups of tea a day "dramatically increases longevity in women". It's the flavonoids that seem to protect against the ravages of heart disease and cancer.  Flavonoids are health-boosting plant compounds that are found in chocolate, fruit, red wine and coffee; however, tea made the biggest contribution to the flavonoid count in the 1000 women over 75 studied….Previous research has credited flavonoids a host of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, cutting the risk of dangerous blood clots and strengthening bones. 

Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation 'as bad as smoking'

Prof Russell Foster, a neuroscientist from the University of Oxford, said lack of sleep is damaging the health of the nation, with too many early risers trying to function with brain skills so damaged they could be drunk.
The comments follow studies which suggest that working night shifts speeds up the ageing process, and is linked to increasing risks of cancer, heart disease and type two diabetes.
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“We see this too much with really senior people,” he said. “Lack of sleep damages a whole host of skills - empathy, processing information, ability to handle people, but right at the top of the chain you get overly impulsive, impaired thinking, because of this problem.”
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Last year French research showed the brains of workers who had done night shifts for about 10 years had aged by an extra 6 and a half years…..Lack of sleep has been linked with factors such as disrupted metabolism and raised levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol, all of which may lead to higher blood pressure and increased stroke risk.

Shape up .Unhealthy lifestyle can knock 23 years off lifespan

Suffering from heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes could knock 23 years off life and yet they are preventably for eight out of 10 people. It is estimated that around 80 per cent of cases could be prevented by keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking or drinking too much.

For a man in his 40s, suffering from all three conditions reduces life by 23 years. It means that a 40-year-old's life expectancy would drop from 78 to just 55. Likewise someone in their 60s could lose 15 years, meaning a 60-year-old man might have just three years of life left.

Drinking and smoking 'raises dementia risk'
Drinking and smoking may raise the risk of dementia in later life because they shrink key parts of the brain.
Obesity, diabetes, smoking and drinking are each associated with smaller volumes of grey matter in crucial parts of the brain linked to memory, the researchers found.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink

Medical miracles

Doctors save man's hand by grafting it on to his leg for a month

Chinese surgeons have saved a hand severed in an industrial accident by grafting it on to the man’s ankle for a month before reattaching it to his arm….The surgical team were unable to reattach the hand to Zhou’s arm straight away as the severed nerves and tendons needed time to heal.  So his hand was sewn onto his leg in order to keep it “alive” until the arm was ready.

 Hand-Attached To Leg

Baltimore's Zion Harvey who lost both of his hands at the age of two when an infection turned to gangrene receives  double hand transplant.

An 8-year-old Baltimore boy who lost his limbs to a serious infection has become the youngest patient to receive a double-hand transplant, surgeons said Tuesday.  Zion Harvey received the hands earlier this month at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, though doctors did not publicly disclose the 11-hour operation until now.

A 40-person medical team used steel plates and screws to attach the old and new bones. Surgeons then delicately reconnected arteries, veins, muscles, tendons and nerves.

 Zion Harvey Double Hand Transplant

Zion is currently working with occupational therapists several times a day, and is not allowed to move his hands when not in their presence.  Right now they are working on small movements, like picking up light objects.
However, he appears to be transitioning back to life with hands just find, and has started instinctively scratching his nose with his new fingers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

July 29, 2015

Health Roundup: Heart disease

Good fat Fat 'helps FIGHT heart disease': Discovery could explain why some obese patients live LONGER after a heart attack than their slimmer peers

Certain types of body fat can help a person fight heart disease…..A team at the University of Oxford found the fat surrounding a person's blood vessels can help protect the body, triggering a defense against heart disease.  They discovered how the heart, and the arteries supplying blood to it, send out an SOS to the fat surrounding these tissues.  The result is, that the body stimulates a defense mechanism against the early stages of coronary heart disease.

The study, led by the British Heart Foundation, revealed that during oxidative stress, a process that leads to the furring of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, the fat surrounding the vessels and heart releases chemicals that minimize this oxidative stress and help prevent the development of coronary heart disease.  These chemicals are anti-inflammatory to minimize the inflammation triggered by oxidative stress and anti-oxidant to target the damaging process itself. Researchers are now focusing on how these healthy processes can be weakened if the fat is unhealthy, as can be the case if a person has type 2 diabetes.

Good News   As hospitals get more efficient, heart attack deaths are reduced.

The NYT reports on how U.S. hospitals have dramatically lowered the time it takes to treat a heart attack patient, with lower times contributing to the 38 percent reduction in heart attack deaths we saw between 2003 and 2013. The lower wait times happened “with no new medical discoveries, no new technologies, no payment incentives”—rather, hospitals made a systematic effort to locate places where different stages of care could be undertaken more quickly and efficiently, and acted on that knowledge.

Yes to grapefruit. Daily glass of grapefruit juice 'protects against heart disease',

A daily glass of grapefruit juice keeps blood vessels healthy and could protect against heart disease, a new study shows.
Just half a pint a day was enough to improve circulation.  Scientists have identified that health-boosting chemicals, called flavanones, that are naturally found in citrus fruits are responsible for the benefits.  Flavanones help to improve the structure of blood vessel walls. The more elastic blood vessels are, the better blood flow to the heart is

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest regular grapefruit juice consumption could play a vital part in warding off heart disease.  However, patients with existing heart disease should be careful about drinking grapefruit juice as it can interfere with medication.  Levels of drugs used to treat raised cholesterol or high blood pressure can increase significantly after just one glass of the juice, exposing patients to a greater risk of side-effects.

No to cocaine. How cocaine damages the heart:  

Gruesome video shows barely functioning organ swollen to 3 times its normal size due to drug use…..
Dr Klaus Witte, a consultant cardiologist at Leeds General Infirmary, said cocaine causes changes to the structure of the arteries and the heart - and this, in turn, causes the heart to swell.  Studies have shown cocaine users have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries and thicker heart muscle walls than non-users – all of which can cause a heart attack.

"Every tablet I use for treating cardiac conditions, cocaine does the opposite,’ Dr Witte continued. ‘Cocaine changes the body’s lipid [fat] profiles, makes the blood sticky, makes the heart work harder and faster, changes the body’s hormonal profile. It leads to heart attacks, strokes and heart failure."  The class A drug is much more dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes in terms of toxicity to the heart, he added.
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The American Heart Association warns that cocaine kills 15,000 people each year in the US due to overuse or related accidents.  And many more deaths occur due to heart damage.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:59 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's

Alzheimers Scientists just took a major step forward in understanding Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease that is slowly damaging the brains of an estimated 5.3 million Americans, most of them over age 65, according to the Alzheimer's Association….Many years before any symptoms of Alzheimer's show up, amyloid has already begun to build up in the brain. Progressive brain damage and the various symptoms of the disease only show up after the amount of amyloid in the brain has stabilized.

MIT Technology Review:  The earlier Alzheimer’s disease is treated, the better. Maybe even before symptoms arise. That’s the idea behind experimental drugs designed to remove plaques from the brain and prevent cognitive changes.

Eli Lilly (solanezumab) and Biogen (aducanumab.) presented new data suggesting that antibodies designed to break up or clear the beta-amyloid plaques can slow the advancement of Alzheimer’s, particularly in patients with the mildest form of the disease.  The drugs are based on the “amyloid hypothesis,” that the buildup of starchy amyloid in the brain is the cause of Alzheimer’s.

The brain scans are a key innovation, and a recent one. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a fluorescent imaging dye made by Lilly that sticks to the plaques and makes them light up in a PET scanner (see “Brain Scan for Alzheimer’s”). Before that, Alzheimer’s plaques were usually diagnosed with certainty after death, during an autopsy.

That has meant as many as 25 percent of patients in drug studies haven’t actually had Alzheimer’s, but instead a different form of dementia. What’s more, scientists have discovered that the plaques start building up 10 to 20 years before outward symptoms arise, suggesting that drugs ought to be given much sooner.

Two early detection tests for Alzheimers on the horizon 

New saliva test may catch Alzheimer’s disease early

The saliva test was presented at the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington this week.  Once validated, the saliva test once would be a good screening tool, indicating a patient’s need for further, more invasive testing.

“This is important because the earlier you detect this disease,” said Sherzai, “the more we can have an effect on the outcome.”.  The study was presented at the conference but has not been published or peer-reviewed, which is the gold standard of scientific research. As a result, experts emphasize more research is needed before the saliva test can be used as a detection tool. Alzheimer’s risk reduction and prevention is the new frontier in the disease, according to Isaacson. So the only way to put a dent in the disease is to find some sort of biomarker decades before symptoms start.

15-year-old schoolboy develops test for Alzheimer's disease

A 15-year-old British boy has developed a potential test for Alzheimer’s disease which could allow the condition to be diagnosed 10 years before the first symptoms appear.  Currently Alzheimer’s can only be detected through a series of cognitive tests or by looking at the brain after death.

But Krtin Nithiyanandam, of Epsom, Surrey, has developed a ‘trojan horse’ antibody which can penetrate the brain and attach to neurotoxic proteins which are present in the very first stages of the disease, some of which can occur a decade before symptoms are prevalent.  The antibodies, which would be injected into the bloodstream are also attached to fluorescent particles which can then be picked up on a brain scan.

Krtin submitted his test to the Google Science Fair Prize and learned that he had made it through to the final last week. He will find out next month if he has won a prestigious scholarship and mentoring to take his idea further.

Major Alzheimer's breakthrough as scientists unveil new drug that slows progression of the disease by 30%

Landmark drug to stop Alzheimer's disease has been unveiled today.  Solanezumab has been shown to slow or even halt the illness by tackling beta amyloid, the toxic protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimer's, destroying vital connections between cells.  Existing drugs simply address the symptoms - and failure to deal with the underlying causes means they quickly wear off, and the disease soon takes its devastating course.

Patients with mild Alzheimer's disease who took solanezumab early in the course of their disease preserved more of their cognitive and functional ability, the company said. Results suggest that if given to patients early enough, the antibody therapy will be able to slow cognitive decline - by around 30 per cent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:59 PM | Permalink

The "Uniquely American evil"

I simply can't bring myself to watch the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing and arranging the sale of body parts of aborted babies.    Planned Parenthood markets, sells and profits from the sale of human organs and body parts harvested from the killing of what it otherwise describes as a  'nonhuman mass of cells' .  As one twitterer described it:
Planned Parenthood: "Unborn babies aren't human, but their body parts are."

Mark Steyn, Clumps, Lies and Videotape

No other country in the civilized world has a "Planned Parenthood": a billion-dollar abortion conglomerate. One Tweeter said so what? Abortion is only "three per cent" of what Planned Parenthood does. In fact, as I pointed out on the air, they perform a third of a million abortions a year, which is as many as France, Germany and Canada combined.

And, putting aside whether one is "pro-life" or "pro-choice", the nature of the abortions in those other countries is different: again, as I told Sean, in France abortion is legal up to 12 weeks; Italy, 13 weeks; Norway, 18 weeks, but it requires the approval of a government commission. Nowhere else in the western world takes 39-week-old "fetuses", delivers them sufficiently to preserve the commercially valuable parts and then crushes the non-sellable parts in order to preserve a technical denial of infanticide. That is a uniquely American evil, and Americans should be utterly ashamed of it.  American liberals ought to understand that in far more left-wing societies (Scandinavia, the Netherlands, France) they do not do this - because it's not a left/right thing, it's a good/bad thing, and Planned Parenthood's abortion-industrial complex is on the wrong side of that divide.

I've Got A Crush On You, Baby

So the "right to choose" has facilitated the rise of a characteristically American racket: a billion-dollar "non-profit" that gets over half its funding from the US taxpayer and pays its eight top executives an average of 300 grand in order to serve as the paramilitary wing of reproductive liberalism. Planned Parenthood is an abortion-industrial complex: America is, alas, the abortion mill of the western world, and Cecile Richards' organization is its Standard Oil, US Steel and American Tobacco combined. Its ministrations fall disproportionately on minority women, so in that sense it is still true to the racist and eugenicist theories of its founder, Margaret Sanger: among blacks in New York City, there are more abortions than births - a grim ratio one otherwise has to go to Russia and its satellites to find.
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The most forceful part of Kirsten Powers' column is the headline: "Crush Planned Parenthood." But to do that is to ask American liberals to confront honestly the metastasizing evil they have loosed upon the land. It is easier, under the cover of "choice", to go on crushing the parts of babies with no retail value.

Camilla Paglia interview in Salon

Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!  Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers.  It’s so simplistic!

Now let me give you a recent example of the persisting insularity of liberal thought in the media. When the first secret Planned Parenthood video was released in mid-July, anyone who looks only at liberal media was kept totally in the dark about it, even after the second video was released. But the videos were being run nonstop all over conservative talk shows on radio and television. It was a huge and disturbing story, but there was total silence in the liberal media. That kind of censorship was shockingly unprofessional. The liberal major media were trying to bury the story by ignoring it. Now I am a former member of Planned Parenthood and a strong supporter of unconstrained reproductive rights. But I was horrified and disgusted by those videos and immediately felt there were serious breaches of medical ethics in the conduct of Planned Parenthood officials. But here’s my point: it is everyone’s obligation, whatever your political views, to look at both liberal and conservative news sources every single day. You need a full range of viewpoints to understand what is going on in the world.

Networks Covered Cecil the Lion More in 1 Day Than Abortion Videos in 2 Weeks

Before Cecil, there was the Confederate flag brouhaha to distract  people from the metastasizing evil set loose upon the land by Planned Parenthood's eugenics agenda.

Data from the 2010 Census reveals that 78% of their abortion clinics are placed in low-income minority neighborhoods…

”These census results clearly show that Planned Parenthood continues to pursue the eugenics philosophy of its founder, Margaret Sanger, who believed that Blacks and the poor were “unfit” to reproduce. She dedicated her life to controlling the population of these “undesirables” by advancing birth control and sterilization in their neighborhoods.”

The founder of Planned Parenthood wrote in a letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, "“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."

 Palin Image-Logos

Planned Parenthood makes a profit on selling human body parts of aborted fetuses of all colors, so why is the federal government subsidizing them?  All the health services they say they provide women are available to all under Obamacare.

Defund Planned Parenthood.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:53 PM | Permalink

You have no idea how big Africa is

Via Neocon,  I was introduced to Kai Krause and the True Size of Africa.

"Africa is so mind-numbingly immense, that it exceeds the common assumptions by just about anyone I ever met: it contains the entirety of the USA, all of China, India, as well as Japan and pretty much all of Europe as well - all combined !


Go to the Kai Krause site to understand why and to download a pdf version of the original map.

 True Size Of Africa

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:47 PM | Permalink

Amazing - lanterns powered by salt water

 Saltwater-Powered Lantern

Thanks to a trio of Philippine inventors This Portable Salt-Powered Lamp Stays Illuminated for 8 Hours on a Glass of Seawater

Not only are the Philippines prone to natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes but the country is made up of over 7,000 islands, most of which do not have access to electricity, says the team. But one thing they do have is the sea, an abundant source of saltwater that can now be used to light homes and, in emergencies, power cell phones.

The saltwater-powered lamp uses the same science that forms the basis of battery-making. Where they differ from batteries is that the entire reaction is safe and harmless. Moreover, there are no flammable materials or components that go into lamp. Used 8 hours a day, every day, the team says the lamp can provide light for 6 months (or even over a year if used more efficiently) without having to replace any parts.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:14 PM | Permalink

July 21, 2015

Health Roundup: Medical Breakhroughs

5 Exciting Ways Health-Tech Startups Are Improving Lives

1. Expanding access to healthcare knowledge
2. Building communities
3. Increasing accountability
4. Advancing research
5. Driving personalization


HIV / AIDS
Experimental Vaccine 'completely protects against the HIV virus and could have an enormous impact,' say experts

An experimental vaccine completely prevented HIV infection in half of monkeys given the jab, a new study found.
The monkeys were given the vaccine and then exposed to high doses of an aggressive virus that is the equivalent of HIV in humans.The results were so positive they spurred Johnson & Johnson to test the vaccine in people.
The international trial is underway in 400 healthy volunteers in the United States, East Africa, South Africa and Thailand.

Since it began spreading 30 years ago, AIDS has killed 40 million people worldwide.  Today, some 35 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  Despite progress in treatments, experts believe a vaccine is the best hope for eradicating the disease.

Cystic Fibrosis Breakthrough for cystic fibrosis sufferers as scientists use gene therapy to significantly improve the function of patients' lungs

A breakthrough treatment for cystic fibrosis has offered hope for thousands of patients. A landmark British study showed the gene therapy treatment significantly improved the working of patients’ lungs. The condition, which is caused by the faulty gene CFTR, leads to recurring chest infections and patients have to undergo physiotherapy up to four times a day to clear their lungs.

Scientists from Oxford University and Imperial College London have developed a treatment which repairs the faulty CFTR gene by adding a healthy gene on top, the Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal reported.  Patients inhale a virus, delivered via a nebuliser, which contains the healthy gene and ensures it reaches the cells in the lungs where it is needed.
Once inside the cells, the healthy genes help them function properly and clear mucus from the lungs.

The treatment is still in the early stages of development and has been tested on only a few patients. Professor Eric Alton, of Imperial College London, said: ‘Patients who received the gene therapy showed a significant, if modest, benefit. The results are encouraging.’ Current treatments include enzymes, proteins, or salt solutions which are inhaled through nebulisers to help thin and clear mucus from the lungs.

Pancreatic cancer.  Blood Test IDs Pancreatic Cancer in 250 of 250 Patients

“This study creates enthusiasm that early detection of pancreatic cancer, which is incurable unless removed during very early stages, might become a reality.”

Medical advance.  Blood Test The simple blood test that reveals ANY virus you've ever had - and could help doctors diagnose patients with 'mystery illnesses'

A simple test could reveal any viruses a person has ever had - allowing for better diagnosis of disease. The new tool can detect hundreds of viruses at a time from just a single drop of blood.  The test, called VirScan, makes it possible to test for all current and past infections, rather than testing for specific viruses at a time. It also only costs $25 (£16), a fraction of the cost of existing tools, and uses smaller samples of blood, US researchers say. VirScan works by screening the blood for antibodies against any of the 206 species of viruses known to infect humans.

Testing for a wider range of viruses can uncover unexpected factors affecting individual patients' health – and can help doctors make better diagnoses. It also allows researchers to see similarities and differences in large populations. This could be helpful when studying conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is suspected to be caused by viruses, although the link has not been established

Tuberculosis Could a common heartburn drug cure TUBERCULOSIS? Prevacid offers 'excellent' hope of new treatment, say scientists

TB continues to be a global pandemic, second only to Aids as the greatest single-agent killer in the world.
In 2013 alone, the TB bug mychobacterium tuberculosis was responsible for 1.5 million deaths and almost nine million new infections. Resistance to TB drugs is widespread, creating an urgent need for new medicines.
Swiss scientists screened a number of existing drugs in hope of finding new treatments to counter TB, which caused 1.5 million deaths in 2013. Lansoprazole, marketed as Prevacid, is an antacid used to treat heartburn. They say the class of drug offers 'an excellent opportunity to treat TB'

Lansoprazole belongs to a class of drugs known as 'proton-pump inhibitors' that keep the stomach from pumping too much acid, thus preventing heartburn and ulcers.  Professor Stewart Cole, who led the research, said: 'Proton-pump inhibitors are both safe and widely sold around the world.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

July 12, 2015

Health Roundup: Cancer Edition: immuno-oncology, skin, breast and lung cancers

The Economist Doctors are trying—with some success—to recruit the immune system to help with the war on cancer .  There are four ways of dealing with cancer: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapies.  Now scientists are adding a fifth: "immuno-oncology" like Bristol Myers' Opdivo or the arthritis vaccine currently in trials.

Like targeted treatments, these new approaches often use antibodies—proteins that match up to other proteins with great specificity. Unlike the targeted therapies, though, the new treatments do not directly attack cancerous cells, but instead unleash the immune system on them.


Skin cancer
Skin cancer jab 'can give TEN more years of life':

Trials have shown that Opdivo boosts average survival rates by 56 per cent.  Doctors said it marked a ‘major milestone’ in the fight against skin cancer. Trials have shown that Opdivo – a brand name for the drug nivolumab – boosts average survival rates by 56 per cent and some patients who had been given months to live have since returned to work.

It is one of a new type of drugs in so-called immunotherapy, which work by teaching the body’s immune system to attack cancerous cells. Experts describe them as a ‘paradigm shift’ in the war against cancer and they are particularly effective against some of the deadliest tumors.

The FDA granted accelerated approval for Skin Cancer Drug Opdivo in Dec 2014

The drug developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb costs about  $12,500 per month, or  $150,000 annually.  Opdivo, is a PD-1 inhibitor. PD-1 helps cancer cells masks their presence in the body, which allows them to grow and metastasize before the immune system can detect and attack them.

Lung cancer  The FDA expanded the approved use of Opdivo (nivolumab) to treat patients with advanced (metastatic) squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with an estimated 224,210 new diagnoses and 159,260 deaths in 2014.

Arthritis. Jab that targets agony of arthritis using patient's own cells: Could help hundreds of thousands by preventing painful swelling

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by immune system mistakenly attack joints. The Vaccine 're-educates' the immune system not to attack healthy tissue and the jab is also said to be kinder to the body than existing drugs.  While longer trials of the drug are needed,  experts are so far excited by results.

Breast cancer Fresh doubts over breast cancer tests: Harvard finds routine screening fails to cut deaths

A Harvard study of 16 million women has cast doubt on the benefits of routinely offering breast cancer screening.
The data suggests that routine screening is leading to significant numbers of ‘false positives’ – in which women are wrongly told they might have breast cancer when, in fact, they do not. Other women might undergo grueling chemotherapy to treat small, slow-growing tumors which might never have troubled them if they lived on in ignorance.

Breast cancer Hormone in The Pill 'shrinks tumors in half of cases', say scientists

Progesterone could help treat half of all breast cancer patients, say experts.  The hormone, found in many contraceptive pills, is involved in signals between cell molecules that can hold back tumor growth
Experts reveal progesterone receptor 'talks to' other receptors sensitive to estrogen, which fuels breast cancer in many cases Has the effect of applying a brake on the estrogen receptor's ability to stimulate tumors, research reveals.

Breast Cancer: Eradicating a single protein in the blood could stop breast cancer in its tracks, scientists say

Scientists have identified a key molecule, a single protein which triggers the growth of blood vessels in tumors that have spread to the brain - a common secondary site for breast cancer to spread. By withholding the protein, called DOCK4, a particular part of the blood vessel did not form as quickly, meaning tumors grew at a slower rate, scientists found.
Dr Georgia Mavria, from the University of Leeds, said the discovery could help develop new drugs and identify people at risk of their breast cancer spreading.


Melanoma. Deadly Melanoma May Not Show Up as a Mole

But a new study finds that the sometimes-deadly skin cancer melanoma usually arises in normal skin, where there is no dark spot or sign of cancer until the melanoma suddenly shows up.  Moreover, melanomas that arise in non-mole areas of the skin tend to be more aggressive and deadly than those that do arise from moles, the study found.
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People whose melanomas did not arise from moles (called de novo melanomas) tended to do worse than people with mole-associated melanoma, the researchers said in their findings, presented June 1 at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting…..In general, between 20 and 30 percent of melanomas are mole-associated, but themajority of melanoma cases are de novo cases — they arise in skin that looks normal until the melanoma forms.

How being obese could help you FIGHT cancer 

Overweight patients survive 3 months longer than thinner peers surprising study reveals. While the study does not indicate that being overweight is in any way protective for patients undergoing cancer treatment, Dr Zafar said…. the results suggest that there could be an aspect of biology that could put thinner patients at a higher risk for poor outcomes.. Dr Zafar continued,  'There may be a relationship between having a lower BMI and how much treatment patients can tolerate.'I would hypothesise that the lowest weight patients in our analysis received or tolerated less treatment, or received adequate treatment at first, but became too sick to receive additional therapy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:40 PM | Permalink

July 11, 2015

Health Roundup: Autism, depression, diabetes, dementia, hospital stays and delirium

Mental Illness: Schizophrenia. Have scientists discovered what causes schizophrenia? Condition may occur because 'gene mutations disrupt chemical balance of the brain'

Autism. People with autism have 'supercharged' brains: Those with the condition are 'over-sensitive to the world - and not impaired'

Scientists found rats reared in a predictable environment were less likely to exhibit some of the symptoms of autism
Findings consistent with the theory that autism is the consequence of supercharged brains that make the world an intensely painful place  Experts hope their findings will help develop new therapies to treat autism.

Can autism be diagnosed by a child's sense of SMELL? Children with the disorder continue to sniff a bad odor for longer than those without

Children without autism have a sniff response in which they try and limit the flow of air through their nose when they smell something bad But children with the disorder continue to smell the odor . New sniff test was accurate in diagnosing autism in 81% of children.  Increasingly abnormal sniff response was associated with more severe symptoms of autism

Depression Depression SHRINKS key part of the brain responsible for creating new memories, scans reveal

The large study of nearly 9000 people compared brain volumes in those with/without depression.
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Those who suffer chronic depression have a significantly smaller hippocampus than healthy individuals, researchers discovered.  The mental illness tends to shrink this area of the brain which is  associated with creating new memories, storing memories and connecting them to our emotions.  The study highlights the need to treat depression in teenagers to stop further bouts.


Diabetes. Is type 2 diabetes caused by BACTERIA in the gut? Toxins trigger insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels, study finds

Bacteria responsible for common skin infections, food poisoning and MRSA could also trigger one of the most prevalent diseases of our time - type 2 diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes comprises 90 per cent of all people with diabetes. Scientists at the University of Iowa  discovered exposure to Staphylococcus aureus bacteria causes  insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and systemic inflammation - hallmark symptoms of the disease in rabbits.  Professor Patrick Schlievert, who led the study, said: 'We basically reproduced type 2 diabetes in rabbits simply through chronic exposure to the staph superantigen."

Obesity,  a known risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, alters a person's microbiome - the ecosystem of bacteria that colonize a person's gut, and affect their health.  Professor Schlievert said: 'What we are finding is that as people gain weight, they are increasingly likely to be colonized by staph bacteria - to have large numbers of these bacteria living on the surface of their skin.  'People who are colonized by staph bacteria are being chronically exposed to the superantigens the bacteria are producing.'  Professor Schlievert's past research has shown that superantigens - the toxins produced by all strains of staph bacteria - disrupt the immune system.

Diabetes and Dementia Could diabetes trigger DEMENTIA? People with type 2 suffer 'memory loss and declining decision-making skills'

People with type 2 diabetes lose brain power as their ability to regulate blood flow drops, research suggests.
A study by experts at Harvard Medical School suggests that the impact can be seen in memory and cognition tests - with the decrease in thinking skills dropping over just two years.  They found a significant decrease in cognitive power, which impacted their ability to cook and bathe themselves.

The study size was small. The US researchers tracked 40 people over two years.  Of those, 19 had type two diabetes and 21 did not have diabetes.Study leader Dr Vera Novak, whose work was published in the journal Neurology, said: ‘Normal blood flow regulation allows the brain to redistribute blood to areas of the brain that have increased activity while performing certain tasks.

Dementia.  Blocking a protein that builds up in the blood 'helps combat memory loss'

A protein that accumulates in the blood as we age may provide the basis for new treatments to reverse dementia, research has shown. The molecule, dubbed B2M, is found in higher concentrations in the blood and cerebral spinal fluid of aging humans, scientists said.  And in mice, inhibiting B2M improved learning and memory in laboratory experiments.  And mice genetically bred not to have B2M did not develop memory decline
'We are very excited about the findings because it indicates that there are two ways to potentially reverse age-related cognitive impairments,' study co-author Dr Saul Villeda of the University of California, San Francisco.

Delirium Delirium: A Surprising Side Effect of Hospital Stays

Often misdiagnosed as dementia, delirium can cause hallucinations and delusions…….Turpin’s experience illustrates the consequences of delirium, a sudden disruption of consciousness and cognition marked by vivid hallucinations, delusions and an inability to focus that affects 7 million hospitalized Americans annually. The disorder can occur at any age — it has been seen in preschoolers — but disproportionately affects people older than 65 and is often misdiagnosed as dementia.

While delirium and dementia can coexist, they are distinctly different illnesses. Dementia develops gradually and worsens progressively, while delirium occurs suddenly and typically fluctuates during the course of a day. Some patients with delirium are agitated and combative, while others are lethargic and inattentive.
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Patients treated in intensive care units who are heavily sedated and on ventilators are particularly likely to become delirious; some studies place the rate as high as 85 percent. But the condition is common among patients recovering from surgery and in those with something as easily treated as a urinary tract infection. Regardless of its cause, delirium can persist for months after discharge.
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A recent meta-analysis led by Harvard researchers found that a variety of non-drug interventions — which included making sure patients’ sleep-wake cycles were preserved, that they had their eyeglasses and hearing aids and that were not dehydrated — reduced delirium by 53 percent. These simple fixes had an added benefit: They cut the rate of falls among hospitalized patients by 62 percent.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 AM | Permalink

My broken arm

The reason why I haven't been posting for the past month is simple -  I broke my right arm in a freak accident.  Among the many things you can not do easily with one arm in a sling is typing and blogging.  But my doctor says that my recovery is "ahead of schedule."  It's amazing what a lot of sleep, rest and Advil can do. 

Since I've been doing exercises to increase my range of motion, I've started typing again.  And now blogging.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink