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Tue, 21 Jan 2020
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Health & Wellness


Mexican TV star dies from parasitic tissue infection after reportedly eating tapeworm-contaminated pork

sebastian ferrat
© AFP / Genome Biology
Instagram / @sebastianferrat ; MRI scans showing a tapeworm in a brain
Actor Sebastian Ferrat, beloved in his native Mexico, has died after a long and horrifying struggle with an infection he reportedly contracted from contaminated pork. Is 2020 the year to give up bacon?

Fans are in deep sorrow as Sebastian Ferrat, 41, died on Sunday after a long battle with a grave illness that local media identified as cysticercosis, a parasitic infection that attacks the brain, muscles, or other tissues. According to reports, the actor, best-known for his roles in various television dramas, contracted the deadly infection after eating spoiled pork.

He reportedly languished in a coma for several months in hospital before finally succumbing to the infection.

Comment: While the incidents noted above by themselves aren't particularly significant, and the risk of contracting an infection of one kind or another are heightened due to unsanitary conditions or when in an unfamiliar country, if we take into account the sheer number of reports of outbreaks and unusual infectious diseases, there does appear to be a trend - here are some stories from just this year:


Wearing shoes from a young age makes your ankles less flexible

© Sebastian Kopp/Getty Images
Wearing shoes from a young age may not help you put your best foot forward
Your shoes are changing your feet. The ankles of people who habitually wear shoes are different to those of people who walk barefoot.

These changes to ankle bones take place over the course of a person's life, and there is no evidence that they can be passed on genetically.

In modern industrial societies, most people wear shoes from a young age. However, in traditional hunter-gatherer societies people often go barefoot, or wear only very thin footwear.

"We know that there are some variations in the feet of modern humans, due to the use of shoes," says Rita Sorrentino of the University of Bologna in Italy. But most previous findings relate to the front and middle of the foot. Sorrentino and her team have focused on the ankle, which is crucial because it links the foot to the leg.

They studied 142 ankle bones from 11 populations from North America, Africa and Europe. These included modern sandal-wearing Nguni farmers in southern Africa, people living in modern New York, and preserved bones from Stone Age hunter-gatherers.

Comment: See also: For more:


Tired of being tired: 6 ways to fight fatigue

fatigue office coffee
Taking ownership of your health will be key to help you live your best life. If you suffer from chronic fatigue, it becomes increasingly difficult to feel and look your best.

Understanding the root causes of fatigue and discussing with your clinicians may be exactly what is needed to get you back on your path to success.

Better quality sleep: Most people know you need 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but getting quality sleep is just as important. First, you want to make sure you don't have sleep apnea, which can hurt your ability to get a good night's rest. You also need to prepare well for sleep. You can discuss getting a sleep study with your clinician, especially if you snore, to evaluate whether you have sleep apnea. To help you get enough sleep, have a consistent sleep time, avoid screen time at night, sleep in cooler temperatures and make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible at night.

Comment: See also:


'Ultraprocessed' foods may make you eat more, clinical trial suggests

ultraprocessed vs real food
Researchers tracked how much people ate on “ultraprocessed” (left) and “minimally processed” (right) diets that were matched for calories and nutrients.
Something about the industrial processing of food makes us more likely to overeat, according to a new study. Volunteers ate more and gained more weight on a heavily processed diet than an unprocessed one, even when the two diets had the same available calories and nutrients.

The study is "a landmark first," and a "shot over the bow" in a debate over the health of processed food, says Steven Heymsfield, an obesity researcher at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge who was not involved with the work. But some experts question whether the study controlled for important differences between the diets.

The definition of "processed food" is controversial. Nearly all the food at grocery stores is subject to some processing: It's pasteurized, vacuum sealed, cooked, frozen, fortified, and mixed with preservatives and flavor enhancers. Some of these processes can change its nutritional qualities. And some studies have found associations between processed diets and increased risk of obesity, cancer, and even earlier death, but none has shown a causal link.

Comment: It could be that the processed foods, carefully formulated to maximize palatability, are addictive, and there is little doubt this has some affect on how much of it people eat. But it could also be that the food is so lacking in essential nutrients that the body actually signals one to eat more of it in order to get the minimum required nutrition. While the above study meticulously measured the nutrient content of the foods served in both trials, matching them as best they could, how many unknown nutrients are found in fresh whole foods that are lost during processing?

See also:


Can lowering inflammation help treat major depression?

It is estimated that 7.1% of the adult population in the U.S. experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017. The highest rates are among those ages 18 to 25 years. Many people believe depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is a theory that has been widely promoted by drug companies and psychiatrists, to the point it is now accepted as fact.

However, this is just a theory and, worse, it's a theory that has been largely discredited. The idea spread quickly after it was proposed in the 1960s when it appeared antidepressant drugs altered brain chemicals. In the 1980s, Prozac (fluoxetine) was released by Eli Lilly and heavily promoted to balance brain chemicals and affect depression.

Prozac had fewer side effects than some of the earlier antidepressants and soon became the poster child for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants. However, while heavily prescribed, data repeatedly showed SSRIs worked no better than placebos for those experiencing mild to moderate depression.

Comment: The link between depression and inflammation is becoming more and more evident. See also:

Bacon n Eggs

Relationship between Ketogenic Diet and Sleep: It's complicated

It's not uncommon to hear people report sleep problems when they start a ketogenic diet. A big reduction in carbohydrate intake combined with significant increase to fat intake — which happens on a keto diet — can cause changes to sleep patterns. These macronutrients have different effects in the body and can affect sleep in distinct ways.

Studies of high-fat diets show mixed results. Some research suggests eating abundant fats can improve sleep quality, while other studies show high-fat diets linked to more disruptive sleep and trouble falling asleep. (I'll talk about the effects of protein and carbohydrates on fats in a minute.)

There are a small number of studies that look at keto diets and sleep. They show this very low-carb, high-fat diet may offer benefits for sleep, both through weight loss and other pathways. A just-released study on the effects of keto found that adhering to this eating plan helped reduce daytime sleepiness in a group of obese patients. Previous studies have found similar results, along with increases to REM sleep. Other research has shown ketogenic diets increase REM sleep and sleep quality in a group of children with epilepsy. (A ketogenic diet has shown the capacity to reduce seizures, making it an effective dietary therapy for people with epilepsy.)

Comment: See also,


FDA approves Merck's new live Ebola vaccine which it says can shed and cause immunosuppression

merck ebola
Merck has received the FDA's fast-tracked approval of a live, genetically modified Ebola vaccine which, according to its vaccine insert, can cause a novel new form of Ebola-type infection, resulting in immunosuppression and possible shedding of live virus to others.

On Dec. 20th, 2019, Merck announced it received FDA approval for an Ebola vaccine which contains the virus known as recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus - Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV), and will be marketed under the name ERVEBO.

The rVSV-ZEBOV is a live, replication-competent virus, produced with the same African green monkey derived Vero cell line Merck used to create the Rotateq vaccine targeting rotavirus infections. The Vero cell line has been previously identified to carry at least two surreptitious simian endogenous retroviruses whose significant risks to human health have not yet been formally evaluated.


Man's blood was so full of fat, it turned white and almost killed him

fatty blood
© Koehler et al., Annals of Internal Medicine, 2019
A man in Germany had so much fat in his thickened, pale blood, it basically looked like milk, scientists report - and it could have killed him if doctors hadn't resorted to a long-abandoned treatment pioneered by ancient healers thousands of years ago.

In this case, the patient presented at hospital with what's known as extreme hypertriglyceridemia: a disease marked by high levels of fatty triglyceride molecules in the blood.

Ordinarily, doctors would treat this condition with a technique called plasmapheresis, which extracts blood plasma from the body, removes the excess triglycerides (or other toxic components), and returns the clean, filtered blood to the patient.

There was just one problem.

Comment: One instance where bloodletting is actually called for is iron overload.



Widespread overuse of herbicides leading to resistant black-grass is costing UK £400 million per year

blackgrass in wheat field

Blackgrass in wheat field
Scientists from international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) have for the first time put an economic figure on the herbicidal resistance of a major agricultural weed that is decimating winter-wheat farms across the UK.

A vital ingredient in mince pies, biscuits and stuffing -- and of course a large amount fed to turkeys, the future of Christmas dinners containing wheat could be at risk, with the persistent weed making its way across British fields.

Black-grass (Alopecurus myosuroides) is a native annual weed which although natural, large infestations in farmers' fields can force them to abandon their winter wheat -- the UK's main cereal crop. Farmers have been using herbicides to try and tackle the black-grass problem -- but in many areas of England the agricultural weed is now resistant to these herbicides. The cost of black-grass heralded as 'Western Europe's most economically significant weed', is setting back the UK economy £400 million and 800,000 tonnes of lost wheat yield each year, with potential implications for national food security.

Comment: For years researchers have been sounding the alarm on how the unsustainable and destructive merry-go-round of bigger and badder pesticides is going to lead to an apocalyptic end to our food system, but few have listened. Now we're at the breaking point and they're still trying to solve the problem with the same approach that has always failed: more pesticides. The future of humanity is bleak.

See also:


Access to Homeopathy threatened by latest FDA action

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a new guidance that could lead to the end of homeopathy in America in less than three months

The consequential action taken by the FDA involves the elimination of the administrative framework for homeopathy that the agency used for 30 years, one that allowed manufacturers of homeopathic remedies to thrive while ensuring the quality and purity of homeopathic medicines. We are referring to the withdrawal of Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) 400.400, which has served the industry and consumers well.

Homeopathic medicines are now in real danger. The newly revised Draft Guidance, if adopted as currently written, will be a recipe for the destruction of homeopathy as we know it in America.

Comment: More Alternative Medicine Crackdown:
In the British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society's responses to NHS England's report on low-value treatments, both organisations said homeopathy should be blacklisted. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence also said multiple reviews had "showed no evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy".
In the U.S., homeopathy has been regulated by the FDA ever since the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed in 1938. The ostensible reason given for FDA's regulatory review has been a surprising surge in sales of homeopathic OTC medicines. While FDA estimates this number to be $2.9 billion, the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists reported that the figure was closer to $800 million. This is a paltry drop in the bucket compared to the $374 billion spent on conventional drugs in 2014...

Given the fact that homeopathy has met with resistance simultaneously on multiple fronts, many are wondering if this is an organized effort. Dr. Larry Malerba, who has practiced homeopathic medicine for more than 25 years, says that he has never witnessed this level of antipathy toward holistic medicine before:
"When one considers the broad array of recent anti-homeopathy activities that cross international borders, it would be naïve to think that there wasn't a common motivating influence. One has to wonder who stands to gain the most from this witch hunt."
Homeopathy, in particular, is a thorn in the side of Pharma because of the fact that its unique medicines are FDA regulated, safe, inexpensive, and can't be patented. Malerba asked the question,
"Could it be that the media is missing the larger story here, that a powerful medical monopoly is seeking to destroy one of its most successful competitors?"