February 22nd, 2012
By: Sora Song
Gluten-free products are all the rage these days, but many health-conscious eaters who buy them may be wasting their money, the authors of a new commentary in Annals of Internal Medicine suggest.
Going gluten-free is necessary for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. The disease causes inflammation in the small intestine and can lead to malnutrition.
Yet many others without celiac disease have also adopted gluten-free lifestyles — no doubt inspired in part by athletes and celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham — in hopes of losing weight, boosting energy and resolving any number of potentially gluten-related symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, gas, headache, ADHD and mouth sores.
Many such adopters have been diagnosed by their doctors with “nonceliac gluten sensitivity,” a condition that by some estimates affects as many as 18 million Americans. But the authors of the commentary, celiac researchers Dr. Antonio Di Sabatino and Dr. Gino Roberto Corazza of Italy’s University of Pavia, question that figure, noting that there’s no official data on the prevalence of nonceliac gluten sensitivity, nor is there any consensus among doctors about how to diagnose it. Unlike with celiac disease, which can be identified through blood tests and bowel biopsies, there’s no good test to determine gluten sensitivity.
What there is, however, is a lot of hype surrounding the supposed benefits of gluten-free eating. Such claims “seem to increase daily, with no adequate scientific support to back them up,” the authors write. “This clamor has increased and moved from the Internet to the popular press, where gluten has become ‘the new diet villain.’”
It’s possible that people who have bad reactions to common gluten-containing foods — pasta, breads, baked goods and breakfast cereal — may actually be sensitive to something else in wheat flour or to other ingredients in the foods, the authors suggest. It’s also possible that some people develop gastrointestinal or other symptoms simply because they believe they’re food-sensitive.
That’s not to say that nonceliac gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist. But the authors say that more clinical research is needed to help define it and to prevent a “gluten preoccupation from evolving into the conviction that gluten is toxic for most of the population.”
In the meantime, until researchers figure out the best way to diagnose gluten sensitivity, the authors discourage people from cutting out gluten entirely, which could lead to a diet that’s lacking in fiber — and put serious dent in your wallet — and suggest that doctors use an “oral challenge,” a test in which a patient drinks a gluten beverage to see if symptoms arise, to help identify likely cases of sensitivity.
February 17th, 2012
By: Maureen Salamon
Remote controls may not be for just appliances anymore. In a new small study, women with severe osteoporosis were implanted with a microchip that releases bone-building drugs at the push of a button, a delivery method that could someday become common for various health conditions.
Roughly 1.5-by-2.5 inches in size, the microchip significantly improved patient compliance with a drug regimen that normally requires painful daily self-injections, study authors said. The clinical trial, conducted on seven osteoporosis patients in Denmark, was the first to test a wirelessly controlled microchip in this capacity.
“It frees patients from the burden of managing their disease on a daily basis,” said Robert Farra, co-author of the study and president and chief operating officer of MicroCHIPS Inc., the Waltham, Mass., company that funded and supervised the trial. “I think there will be a class of drugs [for other conditions] that will be very suitable to use the chip for . . we were very pleased with the results.”
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September 10, 2010
By: Kate Kelland
Daily tablets of large doses of B vitamins can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with memory problems and may slow their progression toward dementia, data from a British trial showed on Wednesday,
Scientists from Oxford University said their two-year clinical trial was the largest to date into the effect of B vitamins on so-called “mild cognitive impairment” — a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Experts commenting on the findings said they were important and called for larger, longer full-scale clinical trials to see if the safety and effectiveness of B vitamins in the prevention of neurodegenerative conditions could be confirmed.
“This is a very dramatic and striking result. It’s much more than we could have predicted,” said David Smith of Oxford’s department of pharmacology, who co-led the trial.
“It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay development of Alzheimer’s in many people who suffer from mild memory problems.”
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) affects around 16 percent of people aged over 70 worldwide and is characterized by slight problems with memory loss, language or other mental functions.
MCI does not usually interfere with daily life, but around 50 percent of people diagnosed with it go on to develop the far more severe Alzheimer’s disease within five years. Alzheimer’s is a mind-wasting disease for which there are few treatments and no cure, and which affects 26 million people around the world.
Smith and colleagues conducted a two-year trial with 168 volunteers with MCI who were given either a vitamin pill containing very high doses of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, or a placebo dummy pill.
These B vitamins are known to control levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood, and high blood levels of homocysteine are linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Helga Refsum, who also worked on the trial, stressed that vitamins were given in extremely high doses.
“This is a drug, not a vitamin intervention,” she said.
The pills, called “TrioBe Plus” contained around 300 times the recommended daily intake of B12, four times daily advised folate levels and 15 times the recommended amount of B6.
Brain scans were taken at the beginning and the end of the trial to monitor the rate of brain shrinkage, or atrophy.
The results, published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One journal, showed that on average the brains of those taking the vitamin treatment shrank at a rate of 0.76 percent a year, while those taking the dummy pill had an average brain shrinkage of 1.08 percent.
People who had the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the trial benefited the most from the treatment, with their brains shrinking at half the rate of those on the placebo.
Although the trial was not designed to measure cognitive ability, the researchers found those people who had lowest rates of shrinkage had the highest scores in mental tests.
Commenting on the study, Paul Matthews, a professor of clinical neurology at Imperial College London said that although the vitamins used are generally safe and inexpensive, the study “should not drive an immediate change in clinical practice”
“Instead, it sets out important questions for further study and gives new confidence that effective treatments modifying the course of some dementias may be in sight,” he said.
June 24, 2010
The Business Insider
By Vincent Fernando
Deutsche Bank has a new and improved index of U.S. financial conditions, and this index just slumped back towards the lows of our recent crisis.
June 8, 2010
By Kate Devlin
Studies suggest that some products can exacerbate existing conditions and even trigger breathing problems in people who have never previously suffered from the illness.
If proven, the link could make some cases of the disease preventable, according to Dr Jan-Paul Zock, an expert in occupational asthma. Around five million people in Britain suffer from asthma.
Rates of the condition are thought to have doubled in the two decades to the mid 1990s, but plateaued since then.
A range of studies have shown a link between asthma and exposure to some cleaning products, Dr Zock, from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, said.