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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:00 am 
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Junk food companies and lack of playgrounds behind obesity crisis, academic says

FAT people are not to blame for being overweight, a top Melbourne academic claims.

Dr Samantha Thomas, who spoke at the annual Castan Centre for Human Rights Law Conference in Melbourne, said the war on obesity was failing because society put too much emphasis on personal responsibility.

"Obesity rates are still increasing because we put all the responsibility on the individual, but are completely reluctant to tackle the corporations that are part of the cause - the junk food companies, the soft drink companies, even the town planners who design new suburbs with no backyards or playgrounds," Dr Thomas said.

Dr Thomas, a senior research fellow at the Monash University School of Marketing, said more should be done to prevent obesity, rather than simply telling people to lose weight.

"It is easy to say 'I do the right thing, why don't they?', but for some people, for a variety of reasons, it is very hard to make the right decisions. We really need to create a healthy environment to help people do that," she said.

Dr Thomas said the anti-obesity fight should be similar to the war on smoking, with big tobacco companies blamed rather than individuals labelled weak or lazy.

"With the anti-smoking movement, we realised that tobacco was being heavily marketed at adolescents and we were disgusted," she said. "Junk food is heavily marketed at children and adolescents but, instead of trying to stop that, we just put all the responsibility on parents."

Dr Thomas said more than 60 per cent of the population was overweight or obese, so the situation affected more people than many would admit.

But YMCA Victoria spokesman Stephen Bendle said while environment did play a role in health, people needed to learn to make the right choices themselves.

"The YMCA encourages people to take responsibility for their weight and, just as importantly, for their overall health and wellbeing," Mr Bendle said.

Time to download 30kg

ROHAN Mills decided things would be different this year.

Mr Mills, 26, was 115kg and working as a computer programmer when he decided to change his life.

He joined a Transforming Lives program at the Macleod Recreation and Fitness Centre, run by the YMCA. He has since lost 30kg and is becoming a personal trainer himself.

"I was working at a computer all day, then playing video games and eating out of a pizza box," he said.

"At the start of the year, I didn't like who I was, so I scrapped everything and started again. I had tried to lose weight in the past, but I didn't know much about it.

"The YMCA really helped me by providing both information and support."
Mr Mills agreed that a healthy environment - with more parkland and fewer junk-food outlets - could help people lose weight.

"But at some point, you have to take responsibility for your own choices," he said.

HOW TO GET HEALTHY

* Don't skip meals
* Think about when and why you overeat, and try to address the causes
* Avoid yo-yo dieting. Simply reduce foods high in fat, sugar and salt
* Exercise, even if you start by just walking around the block.
* Get professional help if you need it.

http://www.news.com.au/national/junk-fo ... 6431238369


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:21 am 
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A slim improvement to obesity levels in Australian children, report finds

IN the first glimmer of hope for a problem that seemed irreversible, obesity in Australian children has reached a plateau.

A modest change in the rate of children who are overweight or obese has been recorded, falling from 25 per cent in 2007 to 23 per cent.

Professor Michael Bittman, who helped co-author a preliminary Australian Institute of Family Studies report, also found 79.9 per cent of pre-schoolers were a healthy weight.

“What is not plateauing in school-aged kids is central obesity. If you base it on central weight, on the waist circumference, they are growing.”

But one in five was fat: 15.2 per cent of four-year-olds were overweight and 5.5 per cent were obese.

"What has happened recently is it (obesity) has plateaued. That vast increase has slowed," said Prof Bittman, of the University of New England, in NSW.

But, while the figures were a cause for relief, experts said the $5 billion battle against near-epidemic childhood obesity was not over.

Waists of overweight kids continued to expand, obesity expert and paediatrician Louise Baur said.

"What is not plateauing in school-aged kids is central obesity," she said. "If you base it on central weight, on the waist circumference, they are growing."

An Australian Institute of Family Studies conference tomorrow will be told an eight-year study of Australian children has found mothers' girths were the strongest predictor of four-year-olds who would battle the bulge.

For children who pile on the kilos later, at about eight years old, TV time is the strongest predictor, thanks to what Prof Bittman said was "a lot of snacks like packets of crisps, while sitting in front of the TV and absent-mindedly stuffing their mouth".

The one bright spot for beleaguered parents was that swapping TV for computers might help.

Prof Bittman said gaming was not adding to screen time, as had been feared.

"Computers and games just don't show up," Prof Bittman said.

"The argument has been we have added to screen time, but it doesn't seem like that. It seems like (the culprit) is television."

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/nati ... 6434248882


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:57 am 
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How food labelling could change

Health claims on food could become more common if the billion-dollar Australian grocery industry has its way. But don't expect anything to happen very quickly.

A standard for health claims on food packaging has been more than 10 years in the making and when a draft standard was released in February, most thought it would be that version which would finally be put to the combined Australia and New Zealand food standards authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), for approval.

But a submission to the draft standard by the powerful Australian Food and Grocery Council - the leading organisation representing Australia's $108 billion food, drink and grocery manufacturing industry - says the draft is "extremely inadequate and unworkable" and it wants more consultation.

"The draft standard will not provide consumers with accurate information, will add significant burden and costs to industry and will significantly stifle innovation in food product," the council submission says.

Many claims on food would be "rendered illegal" under the new regime and packaging on an estimated 30,000 items on supermarket shelves would need changing, costing "hundreds of millions of dollars".

It estimates the cost of changing one label can be more than $15,000.

Council acting chief executive Geoffrey Annison says council members want to ensure existing "factual and scientifically based" health claims are able to continue to be used under the future labelling regime.

The initial draft included the plan to have all health claims substantiated before going to market, but the council, in its submission, proposed that manufacturers be allowed to make any health claims and market any product based on their own research.

If the claims were challenged, manufacturers would provide a dossier of research for authorities to verify, in much the same way as they do now.

And while Australian consumer advocacy group Choice says that was akin to the fox guarding the henhouse, New Zealand food safety campaigner Sue Kedgley says having to have all manufacturers' health claims approved before a product could be sold would create another level of bureaucracy.

"I wouldn't mind if the industry made health claims, but they had to be able to - on request - provide substantiated evidence of the claim that is made," Kedgley says.

"I can sort of see that if you say you've got to have a pre-clearance, you almost set up a new bureaucracy - then you've got to have pre-clearance for everything and all these officials. It can be quite a bureaucratic and time-consuming process."

Choice head of campaigns Matt Levey says the industry lobby groups were "fiercely resisting" the proposal to subject health claims to scrutiny by food regulators, but he was confident government ministers would want to protect consumers from overzealous health marketing and "we are hopeful of a sensible outcome after decades of consultation on this issue".

There may eventually be a sensible outcome, but it's unlikely there will be a quick outcome.

This month, Health Minister Kate Wilkinson backed business claims for a more workable approach and more time to find that approach when she attended a Canberra meeting of the trans-Tasman Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation.

She says businesses have raised concerns that requiring all health claims to be pre-market assessed would be "overly prescriptive" for general level health claims, which refer to health, and not a specific disease or disorder.

The meeting agreed to look for other options for general health claims, which the minister says "is a step in the right direction".

"New Zealand produces some really innovative foods for health and so it's important we develop a framework for label claims that supports our innovative producers and provides confidence for consumers."

But Mojo Mathers, the Green Party spokeswoman on food, says the onus should be on producers to back up their health claims, not for consumers to have to challenge them.

"I don't have a lot of faith in the industry's ability to self-regulate," she says.

"Putting the obligation on consumers to identify dodgy claims is not the way to ensure we have watertight labelling for health claims. It's the Food and Grocery Council's job to protect its members, but it's FSANZ's job to protect consumers, so that should be FSANZ's top concern."

She wanted an approach that will "promote innovation of high-quality products while still protecting New Zealand consumers".

"It doesn't have to be a tradeoff."

Under the current rules, there's only one health claim allowed on food labels: for folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube defects in developing foetuses.

However, Consumer says the lack of rules makes it too easy for manufacturers to market foods using claims about health benefits that aren't backed up by good evidence.

"Their main trick is to promote a single nutritional aspect of a food that's otherwise of limited nutritional benefit - for example, a ‘fat free' salad dressing that's high in sugar and sodium," the Green MP says.

Consumer has been campaigning for a new standard for years, but Kedgley says there's no need to wait for the "politics of procrastination" to run its course.

"You've got all these officials spending large amounts of money flying to Australia over decades to attend all these meetings."

But "under the Free Trading Act, you're not supposed to be able to make any false or misleading claims and they have the power right now to do something about it, but no one seems to be doing any monitoring".

"This has been going on for a decade, but why isn't anyone just ambling into supermarkets randomly picking up products and requiring substantiated evidence for some of these claims? I've seen claims which are manifestly untrue and that's what I object to. The problem is everyone's passing the buck," she says.

"Now, the onus would be on the Crown to prove it was misleading, whereas what one wants is the onus to be on the manufacturers to substantiate any claims they make.

"I don't mind how they do it, but surely no-one should be able to make untruthful claims. People can take these claims seriously and you shouldn't be able to mislead people."

Health claims on packaged foods, she says, "are actually marketing claims and the key issue is they must be truthful".

On the issue of truthful claims, everyone seems to agree and Annison says consumers must have "continuing trust in the truthfulness of label statements".

"We think consumers are entitled to know the substantiated positive health aspects of the food they eat, just as they are informed about potentially harmful ingredients."

But given the amount of time already taken to come up with a draft standard, it may be several years before any standard is agreed to.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food- ... abels-mean


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:14 am 
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Scientists discover possible antibiotics alternative

Melbourne scientists say they have made a major breakthrough in the search for an alternative to antibiotics.

Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, along with The Rockfeller University and the University of Maryland in the United States, have spent the past six years studying the structure of a viral protein called PlyC.

They say they have discovered the way it kills the bacteria that causes a range of infections including sore throats, pneumonia and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

They have described the protein as a powerful anti-bacterial killing machine and say that discovering what it looks like and how it attacks bacteria is a major step forward in developing alternatives to antibiotics.

They say scientists have been trying to decipher the structure of PlyC for more than 40 years.

Monash University's Dr Sheena McGowan says identifying the atomic structure of PlyC is crucial to understanding how it can be used to fight bacteria.

"Over the last few years or few decades, there has been a lot of instances of resistance to antibiotics of bacteria," she said.

"I'm sure you've all heard... of multi-resistant bacteria and drug resistant bacteria. What we're looking at over the next coming decades is a time when antibiotics may not be as effective as they are now.

"So by doing research early, we can start to look for alternatives."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-29/a ... ection=vic


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:24 am 
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Cancer specialist slams 'prostate spin for cash'

A PROMINENT Melbourne cancer specialist has slammed the management of prostate cancer in Australia, saying it has been hijacked by people with commercial interests.

Dr Ian Haines last night told a prostate cancer conference that PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests were doing more harm than good in Australia, causing many men to have damaging treatment for cancer that was never going to cause them any trouble.

The most positive estimates suggested PSA tests had only saved five lives in every 100,000 men tested (0.005 per cent) while causing many others to have treatment, including prostate removal surgery that gave them an 80 per cent chance of impotence and a 20 to 30 per cent chance of incontinence afterwards, he said. All of this harm could not be justified by so few lives saved and should mean every man having a PSA test is asked to sign a detailed consent form that shows they are aware of the risks.

Dr Haines, an adjunct clinical associate professor of medicine at Monash University, said he agreed with US doctors who said PSA testing was a public health disaster hijacked by people with commercial interests.

In particular, he took aim at surgeons charging $14,000 and more for robotic prostate removal surgery in private hospitals. He said a Harvard University study had shown it was no better than ordinary surgery in terms of rates of incontinence and impotence after surgery and only ''marginally'' decreased post-operative pain, infection rates and hospital time. ''It is in my opinion a win for marketing spin over substance,'' he said.

His comments came during a debate with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre urologist Associate Professor Declan Murphy, who argued PSA testing was saving lives through early detection and should continue.

He said a US study recently predicted that if you took PSA tests away, the number of men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer would triple. The same effect would be seen in Australia, he said, taking men back to the 1970s when only 49 per cent survived longer than five years, compared with 90 per cent in the 2000s.

''This improvement is due to the introduction of PSA testing in the early 1990s which led to diagnosis of prostate cancer at a much earlier stage,'' he said.

Professor Murphy said many men with low-risk disease were being monitored rather than treated with surgery these days to reduce the harm of over-diagnosis, which he accepted was a problem.

Both doctors warned of legal risks of recommending, and not recommending, tests. Professor Murphy said he knew of two doctors being sued for not doing PSA tests on patients diagnosed with advanced cancer.

About 16,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in Australia. About 3000 die from it.

There is increasing conflict over PSA testing with medical colleges taking differing views, confusing GPs and Australian men who don't know what to do.

A recent survey of 136 GPs by the Epworth Hospital's Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre found a third of GPs did not refer to any guidelines when testing for prostate cancer, while 70 per cent said the guidelines were unclear.

Last year, a US Preventative Services Taskforce recommended doctors discourage the use of PSA tests because of evidence that the harms outweighed the benefits.

It followed research concluding that 1410 men would have to be screened, with 48 cases of prostate cancer found, to prevent the death of one man.

In 2009, leading US epidemiologist Dr Peter Bach told The New York Times that another way to look at the study was to consider that if one man had a PSA test and it led to a biopsy, ''there is a one in 50 chance that in 2019 or later he will be spared death from a cancer that would otherwise have killed him. And there is a 49 in 50 chance that he will have been treated unnecessarily for a cancer that was never a threat to his life.''

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nationa ... z22EJa3kDC


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:19 am 
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DNA clue found to female longevity

Disrupted DNA in the "power packs" of cells may explain why women tend to live longer than men, research suggests.

Mutations in the mitochondria - rod-like bodies in cells that generate energy - cause men to die early, scientists believe.

The evidence emerged from studies of male and female fruit flies.

Like humans and other animals, the flies only inherit mitochondrial genes from their mothers. This could account for the fact that mitochondrial mutations are more likely to affect men, say scientists.

"While children receive copies of most of their genes from both their mothers and fathers, they only receive mitochondrial genes from their mothers," said lead scientist Dr Damian Dowling, from Monash University in Australia.

"This means that evolution's quality control process, known as natural selection, only screens the quality of mitochondrial genes in mothers. If a mitochondrial mutation occurs that harms fathers, but has no effect on mothers, this mutation will slip through the gaze of natural selection, unnoticed. Over thousands of generations, many such mutations have accumulated that harm only males, while leaving females unscathed."

The study appears in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology. It found that genetic variation across mitochondria was a reliable predictor of life expectancy in male, but not female, flies.

Most inherited DNA, comprising the majority of genes, is wrapped up in the nucleus at a cell's heart. The mitochondria have their own separate DNA, which is also passed down to offspring - but only by mothers.

In earlier research, Dr Dowling's team linked the maternal inheritance of mitochondria to male infertility.

"Together, our research shows that the mitochondria are hotspots for mutations affecting male health," said the doctor. "What we seek to do now is investigate the genetic mechanisms that males might arm themselves with to nullify the effects of these harmful mutations and remain healthy."

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpres ... 872503775A


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:20 am 
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Bomb sniffing “electric nose” turns cancer detector

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have used a device called the CyraNose 3200 to sniff out malignant mesothelioma, a nasty form of cancer often caused by exposure to asbestos.

The CyraNose is a commercial device used to detect chemical vapours. Named for the legendarily-large-of-proboscis French writer, the CyraNose is often described as an “electric nose” thanks to its ability to sniff out chemicals. The unit’s handheld form factor means it is often used in airport security applications, as a means of detecting explosives residues.

Associate Professor Deborah Yates of the University’s St Vincent's Clinical School said the devices, and others like them, have attracted medical researchers because they offer a non-invasive way to test for the presence of chemicals that indicate disease.

“Today we do things in ways that can be hard for the patient,” Yates said. “Breath testing can be done for everyone: you just breathe out.” Breath testing is, she added, suitable for the old, they young, the infirm and even patients in intensive care. Better yet, “you can do it lots of times,” Yates pointed out, compared to nastier and more invasive tests.

The CyraNose therefore appealed as a way to test for Mesothelioma, a disease that is most often contracted after exposure to asbestos but can take decades to develop and is not always malignant. An easier, non-invasive, test is therefore desirable as a screening mechanism, given that many people have been exposed to asbestos and are keen for an accurate diagnosis. Breath testing also offers the chance for earlier diagnosis, as this gives treatment a greater chance of success.

Yates and her fellow researchers “trained” the CyraNose by exposing it to breath from a control group that does not have mesothelioma, and a group of sufferers. This “training” process is allowed by the CyraNose’s software, which conducts pattern recognition so it can “smell” the presence of cancer with its 32 chemical sensors.

The research found the CyraNose accurate in 88% of cases, as detailed in the European Respiratory Journal. Yates told El Reg those results are encouraging, and she now hopes to proceed to a screening study to further test the technique as a means of diagnosing the disease. Using breath tests to assess the progress of treatments is another possible application.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/08/03 ... ut_cancer/


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:25 am 
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How to spot and prevent strokes

DISCOVER common stroke symptoms, how best to respond and ways to help reduce the chances of a stroke.

1.Live a healthy lifestyle

Our chances of having a stroke are highly influenced by how we live our lives, says National Stroke Foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor. "Many of the risk factors associated with stroke are lifestyle-related so they're highly modifiable," she says.

Studies have found smokers are four times more likely to have a stroke compared with non-smokers. People who drink heavily are also three times more likely to have a stroke than those who drink in moderation.

"We have evidence to show that if people have a healthy diet low in salt and saturated fats and exercise for 30 minutes over the course of a day, they can significantly reduce their risk of stroke," Lalor says.

2.Lower blood pressure

"This is the single biggest modifiable risk factor," Lalor says. "It's called 'the silent killer' because many people don't know they have high blood pressure."

Figures suggest a person with high blood pressure is four times more likely to have a stroke, yet, Lalor says, it is something everyone can keep control of through lifestyle and, if required, medication.

She says people should regularly have their blood pressure checked.

"If you're over 45 and your stroke risk is low, checks are recommended every two years. If your risk is moderate, go every six to 12 months, and if your risk is high your GP will advise."

She says strokes can happen at any age.

One of the best things to do to keep blood pressure low is to reduce salt intake.

3.Recognise stroke's signs

The "FAST" test is not only an easy way to recognise the most common signs of stroke, it has also been found to identify up to 89 per cent of strokes.

The FAST test involves asking these simple questions:

•Face: Has the person's mouth drooped?
•Arm: Can they lift both arms?
•Speech: Is their speech slurred and do they understand what you are saying?
•Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away.

The National Stroke Foundation has a free iPhone app called Think F.A.S.T which lists the signs of stroke and helps you know your risk.

http://www.news.com.au/news/how-to-spot ... 6443067896


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:26 am 
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Low-risk people benefit from heart drugs

PEOPLE at low risk of a heart attack could still benefit from taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, researchers say.

Half of all heart attacks occur in patients with a low cardiovascular risk, and a large study has shown the risk of these events is reduced when patients take drugs to lower cholesterol, University of Sydney researchers say.

The researchers, from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) at the university, have questioned whether Australian guidelines should be changed to allow more people access to cholesterol-lowering drugs.

NHMRC deputy director Anthony Keech and research fellow Jordan Fulcher said the safest option to lower bad cholesterol levels was to eat well, exercise and lose weight if necessary.

But there was also a role for cholesterol drugs, they wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday.

However, expanding the use of the drugs to low-risk people could come at a significant cost.

The two main cholesterol drugs were in the top three most dispensed Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications in the 2010/11 financial year, the article said.

Drugs targeting cholesterol were the most costly class of medication in the PBS.

But the authors said there was now evidence that cholesterol-lowering drugs could help treat people at low risk of heart disease.

"This new evidence must be urgently considered, with appropriate economic analyses, for incorporation into clinical and PBS guidelines," they wrote.

The Heart Foundation's clinical issues director, Dr Robert Grenfell, said more work was needed to reduce people's heart attack risk by encouraging exercise and diet changes before giving them a pill in the absence of disease.

"We'd be telling people who aren't sick to take a pill for something they haven't got," Dr Grenfell told AAP.

"Active lifestyle and a healthy diet are the first steps.

"All these things need to be done before we consider that a pill is the answer to this."

Dr Grenfell said further research and an analysis of the cost and the benefits to patients were needed before cholesterol drugs were recommended to low-risk people.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/busine ... 6443489964


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:41 am 
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Benefits of cholesterol-cutting drugs outweigh diabetes risk

The benefits of taking cholesterol-lowering medications outweigh the increased risk some patients have of developing diabetes from using the drugs, a report out Thursday says.

Patients who were at higher risk for diabetes were 39% less likely to develop a cardiovascular illness on statins and 17% less likely to die. Patients who were not already at risk for diabetes and were taking statins had a 52% reduction in cardiovascular illness, and no increase in diabetes risk.

"When we focus only on the risk (of diabetes) we may be doing a disservice to our patients," says lead author Paul Ridker of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "As it turns out for this data, the hazard of being on a statin is limited almost entirely to those well on their way to getting diabetes."

Statins are proven to lower heart attacks and strokes. But after several studies showed that some people are at a slightly higher risk of developing diabetes when on statins (9.9%, compared to 6.4% for those not on statins, the Food and Drug Administration required statin makers in April to add warnings to labels saying they can raise blood sugar levels.

"We're concerned that many diabetics stopped taking statins because of those warnings," says Ridker, whose findings were published in The Lancet. The study analyzed results from a study of 17,000 patients in 2008. Ridker was the principal investigator for that study, which lead many physicians to prescribe statins for preventive uses in people who don't have heart disease.

Some health experts don't agree with the new findings, and think that too many physicians prescribe statins anyway. About one in four Americans over age 45 takes a statin drug, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Prescribing statins to people who don't have heart disease "is still a big issue, despite what this paper says," according to physician Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego. "Per 100 people you have two heart attacks less and one increase in diabetes. They're trying to say it benefits more than it harms. But the benefit is so small."

Topol says the patients he sees aren't aware of the risks associated with taking statins. "The patient doesn't know this might make their protection for heart attack marginally better but it also could backfire by inducing diabetes," he says.

Many patients who become diabetic are often put on statins anyway, Ridker says, because heart disease is the No. 1 killer of diabetic people. Nearly 26 million Americans — 8.3% of the population — have diabetes, says the American Diabetes Association.

"The 'take home' for clinicians is to know what the risk factors are," says Larry Deeb, former president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association. "But very often if you throw diabetes into the mix, it's cardiovascular disease that will kill them."

By no means, though, should everyone with diabetes be on statins, Deeb says — unless they have other risk factors for heart disease. Even then, Topol says, the best prevention is exercise and diet.

"Many people can't tolerate statins," Topol says. "Diabetes alone is still not a commitment to lifelong statin use."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/sto ... csp=34news


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:31 am 
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Drugs regulator warns cough, cold medicines may harm young children

COUGH and cold medicines may cause harm to children and should not be given to those aged under six, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has advised.

And such remedies should only be given to children aged between six and 11 on the advice of a doctor, pharmacist or nurse practitioner.

The TGA issued the new advice yesterday as a result of a review into the use of these medicines in children which concluded that while there were no immediate safety risks with such products, ''there is evidence that they may cause harm to children.

''Furthermore, the benefits of using them in children have not been proven,'' the TGA said.

The reasons for the changed advice included that a baby may appear to have a cold but actually be suffering from a much more serious illness, such as asthma, influenza, pneumonia, or other infection that required early medical treatment.

The TGA statement says cough and cold medicines offered only temporary relief of common symptoms such as runny nose, cough, nasal congestion and fever. ''They do not affect the severity of the viral infection or shorten the time the infection lasts.

''Overdose of these medicines can lead to serious harm.''

Possible side effects triggered by such medicines included: allergic reactions, increased or uneven heart rate, slow and shallow breathing, drowsiness, hallucinations, convulsions or nausea.

The type of medicines affected by the new advice include: antihistamines, anti- tussives, mucolytics/expectorants and decongestants.

The TGA changes drew general support from medical leaders but resistance from pharmacists.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians told the TGA review into the issue that the proposed changes may have unintended negative consequences. Parents might be tempted to give medicines intended for others to a younger sibling with a cough.

''Parents may guess a dose, with potential for overdosing and associated harm,'' the college said.

It was crucial there were effective educational campaigns to ensure caregivers had a very clear understanding of the reasons for the changes, it said.

However pharmacy representatives were reported to have reservations. While the pharmacists acknowledged the lack of evidence for efficacy of cough and cold remedies, they contended that lack of data did not equate to evidence of lack of efficacy.

''The pharmacy profession submitted that available data do not support safety concerns within the Australian context, and that the available evidence does not support the proposed restrictions,'' the TGA reported.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nationa ... z23e2ni6m0


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:35 am 
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Vegies' benefits linger

Getting children to eat vegetables can be a challenge, but research points to even more evidence about the benefits.

Just one daily serving could significantly reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in adulthood - conditions that can lead to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, researchers in Finland and Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute say.

Their study followed 2000 children over 27 years, examining diet and exercise habits. Those who frequently ate vegetables in childhood were less likely to develop blood pressure, cholesterol and overweight problems. The research was published in Diabetes Care.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/vegie ... z23plDJrx5


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:31 am 
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Older Dads Hand More DNA Changes to Kids: Research

Children of older fathers are known to be more at risk for diseases including schizophrenia and autism. Now, a new scientific look at the genes passed down within families may have pinpointed a reason why.

The study, reported today in the journal Nature, found that older fathers transmit more new DNA variations to their children than younger dads, with each added year of age resulting in an average of 2 extra new mutations. The genetic changes occur in men as they age because of environmental factors, such as radiation, or through mistakes that occur in cell division.

The research led by scientists at Reykjavik, Iceland-based deCode Genetics Inc. (DCGNQ), is the first to quantify the number of new, or de novo, mutations that fathers hand along by age to their children. The findings may suggest that dads-to-be should consider collecting their sperm at a young age and storing it for later use, according to Alexey Kondrashov, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“If the paternal-age effect on the de novo mutation rate does lead to substantially impaired health in the children of older fathers, then collecting the sperm of young adult men and cold-storing it for later use could be a wise individual decision,” Kondrashov wrote in an accompanying editorial that called for further study on the issue.

Mental processes may be most affected, leading to illnesses such as schizophrenia, because more genes express themselves in the human brain than elsewhere.

Autism Increase

The de novo findings suggest it may be “reasonable to assume that the ongoing increase in the incidence and prevalence of autism in many human populations could be due, at least in part, to the accumulation of mutations resulting from relaxed selection and a higher average paternal age -- and not only to better recognition of cases,” Kondrashov said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March reported that one in 88 children in the U.S. had autism or a related disorder in 2008, the latest period for which data was available. That was a 23 percent rise from 2006, the agency’s researchers reported, saying it was unclear how much of the increase was due to increased awareness of the disease.

Genes are the blueprints for making all the proteins needed by the human body to grow, develop and work properly. DeCode Genetics’ group looked at the DNA shared by 78 groups of Icelandic mothers, fathers, and children.

A 20-year-old father transmits on average 25 new mutations to his child while a 40-year-old transmits 65, the study found. Mothers always transmit about 15 new mutations, regardless of their age, according to the accompanying editorial.

Men Worse

Men probably contribute more mutations because sperm have to divide many more times than eggs, which don’t actively split when women are of reproductive age, according to Kondashov.

“The only important thing when it came to explaining the mutations was the age of the father,” said study author Kari Stefansson, who is also the chief executive officer of deCode Genetics (DCGNQ). “There’s very little else to be accounted for. That’s a stunning observation.”

Most de novo mutations are neutral, and all mutations in the genome were once de novo, Stefansson said by telephone. Once scientists determine the importance of de novo mutations relative to heredity mutations in autism, it will be easy to see how much contribution a father’s age has to the child’s health. That work hasn’t yet been done, he said.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-0 ... arch-shows


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:40 am 
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Cancer and heart drugs top TGA approvals

CANCER and heart disease patients have benefited from the greatest number of new drug treatments approved by Australia's drug regulator in the past decade, a report shows.

There were 795 new medications approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in the 10 years to 2011, with the highest number of new drugs approved for cancer.

The Medicines Milestones report found 115 cancer drugs were approved by the TGA between 2002 and 2011, while 82 medicines for heart diseases were given the green light.

Vaccines accounted for the third highest number of approvals with 57 new immunisations available for use in Australia over the 10-year period.

These included National Immunisation Program vaccines such as whooping cough and measles, mumps and rubella while injections for cervical cancer and influenza were also endorsed.

Only six new treatments for depression were approved, despite the condition being the most frequently managed mental health problem in 2008/09, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Depression is the only mental health issue that has been nominated as a National Health Priority focus area.

Most of the almost 60 mental health drugs approved in the period were for a variety of other conditions including anxiety, addictive disorders and dementia-related illnesses.

The report said there were about 60 drugs for depression in the final stages of clinical trials worldwide.

Thirty-three new arthritis treatments were accredited and 27 additional treatments for diabetes were approved over the past decade.

"This has meant real improvements for people living with these all too common conditions," said Dr Brendan Shaw from the Australian Medicines Industry, which commissioned the report.

"While many of the new medicines will help large numbers of people, there were also treatments for much rarer conditions, including Niemann-Pick disease Type-C, Pompes and Fabrys diseases," he said.

There are currently more than 3,000 medicines and vaccines in development worldwide, including 800 to treat various types of cancer and 250 targeting cardiovascular disease.

The report said the industry would probably focus on developing improved treatments for dementia-related diseases, which are expected to increase along with the ageing population, and conditions associated with obesity, such as Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease.

There are also about 145 vaccines in the pipeline, including a number for HIV/AIDS.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaki ... 6458174176


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:25 am 
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New cancer drug more potent than medicines

In a new study, MU medicinal chemists have taken an existing drug that is being developed for use in fighting certain types of cancer, added a special structure to it, and created a more potent, efficient weapon against cancer.

"Over the past decade, we have seen an increasing interest in using carboranes in drug design," said Mark W. Lee Jr., assistant professor of chemistry in College of Arts and Science.

"Carboranes are clusters of three elements — boron, carbon and hydrogen. Carboranes don't fight cancer directly, but they aid in the ability of a drug to bind more tightly to its target, creating a more potent mechanism for destroying the cancer cells," he explained.

In the study, Lee and his research team used carboranes to build new drugs designed to shut off a cancer cell's energy production, which is vital for the cell's survival.

All cells produce energy through complex, multi-step processes. The key to an effective drug is targeting the process that cancer cells depend on more than healthy cells.

By increasing the binding strength of a drug, a smaller dose is required, minimizing side effects and increasing the effectiveness of the therapy. With carboranes, Lee found that the drug is able to bind 10 times more powerfully.

"The reason why these drugs bind stronger to their target is because carboranes exploit a unique and very strong form of hydrogen bonding, the strongest form of interactions for drugs," Lee said.

Lee said that this discovery also would lead to further uses for the drug.

"Too often, after radiation or chemotherapy, cancer cells repair themselves and reinvade the body. This drug not only selectively shuts off the energy production for the cancer cells, but it also inhibits the processes that allow those cancer cells to repair themselves," he said.

"When we tested our carborane-based drugs, we found that they were unimaginably potent. So far, we have tested this on breast, lung and colon cancer, all with exceptional results," Lee added.

According to Lee, this is the first study to show systematically how carboranes can improve the activity of a drug. Lee believes this discovery will open additional possibilities of improving drugs that are used to treat other diseases, not just cancer.

While it will be several years before the new drug would be available on the market, Lee said that clinical trials could begin within the next two years.

Their study was published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life ... 999109.cms


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