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The Economist

Food allergies

Patching things up

A new treatment for allergy to peanuts is being developed

 

Dec 20th 2014 | CHICAGO | From the print edition
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ANAPHYLAXIS, an allergic reaction that causes swellings and rashes and can thus block a person’s airways, is always unpleasant and sometimes lethal. Often, the allergen is in a specific sort of food. Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soyabeans and wheat are particularly risky. Together, they account for 90% of anaphylactic incidents in America, a country in which between 4% and 8% of children are reckoned to have a food allergy, and in which a third or more of such allergies are potentially life-threatening.

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Sugary Drinks Tied to Earlier Menstruation

BODY

 

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JANUARY 27, 2015 

Age of first menses has decreased substantially since the early 20th century, and studies have shown that younger age of menarche is associated with increased risk of breast and endometrial cancer in later life.Here is another mark against sugary drinks: A new study has found that drinking them is associated with lowered age of menarche.

By

The study, published online in Human Reproduction, used data on 5,583 girls ages 9 to 14 who had not yet attained menarche at the start. They filled out diet questionnaires yearly from 1996 to 1998. By 2001, 159 still had not yet had their first period.

After controlling for birth weight, maternal age at menarche, physical activity, and many dietary and behavioral factors, they found that girls who drank one-and-a-half 12-ounce cans a day of nondiet soda or sugared iced tea had their first period an average of 2.7 months earlier than those who drank less than two cans a week.

The lead author, Karin B. Michels, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard, said that the contribution of sugary drinks to early menarche was independent of the well-known contribution of obesity.

“Our findings are robust,” she said, “and not dependent on body mass index. Sugared beverages are not healthy to begin with, and there should be heightened attention to avoiding them.”

read more at BODY, MENSTRUATION, SUGAR

 

 

 

 

a scientific report

Huffpost Healthy Living

March 10, 2015

Posted: 03/02/2015 3:58 pm EST Updated: 03/02/2015 4:59 pm EST

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In mid-February, the government released a scientific report that will shape its 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Think of it as America’s basic nutrition policy. Most people who read the report would have viewed it as a snore; not much has changed.

Yes, the report lifted the longstanding advice to limit cholesterol in foods. That boils down to dropping advice to limit egg yolks. Liver is high in cholesterol, but rarely eaten. Shrimp is high in cholesterol, but so low in saturated fat — the prime driver of high blood cholesterol — that its cholesterol hardly matters.

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TIME

The sun is the biggest culprit in causing skin cancer, but there’s a beverage that may thwart it some


You may grab a cup (or two) of coffee every morning to help you wake up and face the day, but you may also be doing your skin a favor. Researchers in a new paper released January 20 say that coffee can protect against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.


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Los Angeles Times

Drink up, coffee lovers: Neurologists say a healthy appetite for coffee may reduce your risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

We’re not talking a cup or two of joe in the morning. Even a triple espresso might not be enough to register a difference.

In a new study, researchers found that Americans who downed at least four cups of coffee per day were one-third less likely to develop multiple sclerosis than their counterparts who drank no coffee at all. They also found that Swedish adults who guzzled at least six cups of coffee each day were also one-third less likely to get MS.

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TIME

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TIME

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Statins can lower cholesterol and even tamp down inflammation to keep the risk of heart disease down. But these commonly prescribed drugs may increase the risk of diabetes, and by a considerable amount

drugs that are among most prescribed drugs in America. In a study published in Diabetologia, scientists from Finland found that men prescribed statins to lower their cholesterol had a 46% greater chance of developing diabetes after six years compared to those who weren’t taking the drug. Doctors may have to weigh a serious potential risk before prescribing statins, the cholesterol-lowering What’s more, the statins seemed to make people more resistant to the effects of insulin—which breaks down sugar—and to secrete less insulin. The impact on insulin seemed to be greatest among those who started out with the lowest, and closest to normal, levels of blood glucose. And the higher the dose of the statin, and the longer the patients took them, the greater their risk of diabetes.

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The Need to Fast-Track Promising Vaccines

Ebola virus is among the most deadly pathogens, with case fatality rates of up to 90%.1 Ebola virus is categorized as a tier 1 pathogen by the US government because of its potential for deliberate misuse with significant potential for mass casualties. The current outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa with more than 23 000 cases and 9000 deaths2 also demonstrates the long-underestimated public health threat that Ebola virus poses as a natural human pathogen. There are no licensed vaccines or postexposure treatments for combating Ebola virus. However, substantial progress has been made in developing vaccines and antivirals that can protect laboratory animals against lethal disease.1,3 Advancing these interventions for human use is a matter of utmost urgency.

In this issue of JAMA, Lai et al4 report the use of a first-generation recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus–based Ebola vaccine (VSVΔG-ZEBOV)5 to treat a physician who experienced a needlestick in an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone during the current Ebola virus outbreak. A single dose of the VSVΔG-ZEBOV vaccine was administered approximately 43 hours after the potential exposure. The patient experienced a transient febrile syndrome after vaccination. Importantly, no evidence of Ebola virus infection was detected, and the vaccine elicited strong innate and Ebola virus–specific adaptive immune responses. Most significantly, the vaccine, which expresses the surface glycoprotein of Ebola virus, was able to induce an IgG antibody response against the Ebola virus glycoprotein at a level that has been associated with protection of nonhuman primates.5

It is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions from a single case report. The inability to detect evidence of Ebola virus infection most likely is because there was not an actual exposure; however, it cannot be completely ruled out that the intervention was effective in controlling Ebola virus replication. Even though this patient experienced some adverse events after vaccination, the patient reported having traveler’s diarrhea prior to receiving the VSVΔG-ZEBOV vaccine; therefore, it is also not possible to draw any strong conclusions regarding any adverse events from this case in regard to the safety of the vaccine. This is the second time that the VSVΔG-ZEBOV vaccine has been used to treat a potential exposure to Ebola virus. The initial use occurred in 2009 for a laboratory worker in Germany6 and also involved a needlestick injury. The results of that incident were nearly identical; however, the severity of adverse events following vaccination was less notable in the German case compared with the patient in the case report by Lai et al.4

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The spread of Ebola

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A panicky response in the West may worsen conditions in west Africa

Oct 11th 2014 | From the print edition

THE death toll from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three most affected countries in west Africa, now stands at around 3,900. Among cases diagnosed outside Africa, the total is one: Thomas Duncan, a Liberian national, who died in Texas on October 8th. Yet fear of Ebola in relatively unaffected countries risks making the tragedy in Africa worse.

On October 3rd Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, called for flights from “Ebola-stricken” countries to America to be suspended. Other Republican politicians have done the same. Plenty of African countries have already introduced flight bans. Some Western airlines have also altered their schedules. Read more

Stuck in the waiting room

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A long-touted health-care revolution may at last be about to arrive

Oct 11th 2014 | ROME | From the print edition

THE idea of telemedicine—health care provided using telecommunications equipment—has a lengthy history. Radio News, an American magazine, devoted its cover to a patient at home consulting a doctor in his surgery via a television link as long ago as 1924. When NASA began monitoring astronauts in space in the 1960s, fantasy became reality. It has been touted as health care’s future ever since.

But even smartphones and tablets have failed to usher in the telemedicine revolution: most health care still happens face to face. Now, enthusiasts think the wait is nearly over. Governments have been slow to embrace an approach that could improve coverage and outcomes, as well as saving money. But they are under increasing pressure from ageing populations and a surge in chronic diseases, just as public budgets are being squeezed.

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The Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

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Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been struggling since March to stop what has become the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. The disease is causing widespread fear and disruption in West Africa, and shows no signs of being brought under control.

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