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Tue, 27 Jun 2017
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Most home blood pressure monitors give inaccurate readings

Seventy per cent of readings from home blood pressure monitors are unacceptably inaccurate, which could cause serious implications for people who rely on them to make informed health decisions, new UAlberta research reveals.
"High blood pressure is the number one cause of death and disability in the world," said medical researcher Jennifer Ringrose, who led the research study. "Monitoring for and treating hypertension can decrease the consequences of this disease. We need to make sure that home blood pressure readings are accurate."
Ringrose and her team tested dozens of home monitors and found they weren't accurate within five mmHg about 70 per cent of the time. The devices were off the mark by 10 mmHg about 30 per cent of the time.

The findings are extremely relevant given millions of patients are asked to monitor their blood pressure through a device at home and report the results back to their doctor.

Attention

Naled pesticide used to fight Zika tied to developmental delays in Chinese babies

© C.M. Guerrero
Last September, over 100 protesters demonstrated on the steps of Miami Beach City Hall against the use of the pesticide Naled being sprayed in Miami Beach to combat Zika. A new study has linked the pesticide to deficits in motor functions in Chinese babies.
The pesticide widely used to fight Zika-carrying mosquitoes in Florida and across the nation has been linked to deficits in motor functions in Chinese babies, according to a new study.

The study, whose authors say it is the first to examine real-world exposure to naled outside workplace accidents or lab experiments, used cord blood from 237 mothers who gave birth to healthy babies at a hospital in southeast China between 2008 and 2011. At six weeks, the babies displayed no problems. But at nine months, the babies suffered from slight problems with coordination, movement and other motor functions.

The University of Michigan study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International on Thursday.

While the study provided only a close snapshot of a particular group of mothers, the authors say it suggests the need to take a closer look at using naled to fight mosquitoes, particularly since problems surfaced at lower exposure levels than previous studies.

"Just because changes are small, that doesn't mean they should be discounted," said lead author Monica Silver. "We really need to know more about it."

Pills

The opioid crisis is changing how doctors think about pain

This town on the eastern border of Kentucky has 3,150 residents, one hotel, one gas station, one fire station — and about 50 opiate overdoses each month.

On the first weekend of each month, when public benefits like disability get paid out, the local fire chief estimates the city sees about half a million dollars in drug sales. The area is poor — 29 percent of county residents live in poverty, and, amid the retreat of the coal industry, the unemployment rate was 12.2 percent when I visited last August— and those selling pills are not always who you'd expect.

"Elderly folks who depend on blood pressure medications, who can't afford them, they're selling their [painkillers] to get money to buy their blood pressure drug," Williamson fire chief Joey Carey told me when I visited Williamson. "The opioids are still $5 or $10 copays. They can turn around and sell those pills for $5 or $10 each."

Opioids are everywhere in Williamson, because chronic pain is everywhere in Williamson.

Comment: Pain is a sign or signal that something is not right within the body. To focus on getting rid of the pain without addressing the root cause of it hasn't been a very good approach, but to ignore it and tell people to learn to live with pain, while possibly better in certain respects, is not the best approach either. Until doctors can move beyond the pharmaceutical paradigm currently strangling Western medicine, it's likely that chronic pain sufferers will never find long lasting relief. Here are some non-pharmaceutical approaches to dealing with or healing the causes of chronic pain:


No Entry

The nightmare that is diet soda

At the peak of its popularity in 2005, 3 billion cases of diet soda were sold in one year. This beverage has since fallen out of favor, falling by 27 percent (or 834 million cases) as of 2016. Still, diet soda still makes up 25 percent of the carbonated beverages sold in the U.S.1 (by volume), which means many Americans are still partaking — undoubtedly many of them because they believe they're making a healthier choice than regular soda.

This — the idea that diet soda is in any way healthy — is one of the biggest prevailing myths in the nutrition realm today. If you're one of the nearly half of U.S. adults who consume artificial sweeteners, mostly in the form of diet soda, daily (even one-quarter of kids do so as well),2 it's important you're let in on the truth: If you drink a lot of diet soda, you're putting your health at risk.

What Are the Health Risks of Diet Soda?

A number of studies have been published recently that cast serious doubt on the safety of drinking diet soda. The health risks revealed include:

Stroke and Dementia

Drinking one artificially sweetened beverage a day may increase your risk of stroke and dementia by three-fold compared to drinking less than one a week.3 Even drinking one to six artificially sweetened beverages a week was linked to a 2.6 greater risk of stroke compared to not drinking any.

A 2012 study similarly found that people who drank diet soft drinks daily were 43 percent more likely to have suffered a vascular event, including a stroke.4 This significant association persisted even after controlling for other factors that could increase the risk, such as smoking, physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, diabetes, heart disease, dietary factors and more.

Bullseye

AI machine can identify autism in babies as young as 6 months - study

© UNC-Chapel Hill / YouTube
A brain-mapping AI could soon be used to identify infants most at risk of developing autism, before the symptoms even appear.

New research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that "autism imaging," a scan that can pinpoint signs of the condition in the brain, may one day lead to diagnoses in children as young as six months.

"The more we understand about the brain before symptoms appear, the better prepared we will be to help children and their families,"said senior author Joseph Piven, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

During the study, sleeping babies were placed in an MRI machine where their neural activity was monitored across more than 200 regions of the brain. Researchers then used the MRI data to map brain pathways thought to facilitate core skills and behaviors autism is known to affect - namely language, repetitive actions and social behavior.

Using this map, Piven and his team created an AI capable of narrowing down the neural connections central to the development of autism in children between six months and age 2.

Comment: See also:


Ambulance

Trans fat policy responsible for the deaths of millions

For the past six decades, saturated fats and cholesterol have been wrongly vilified as the central culprit of heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. However, research has demonstrated that it's actually sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats and processed vegetable oils found in many processed foods that are the real enemy.

In the decades saturated fats were demonized, the food industry responded by replacing saturated fats with more shelf-stable trans fats and a new market of low-fat (high-sugar) foods was born.

Americans' health has plummeted ever since, and millions have been prematurely killed by this mistake. Making matters worse, genetically engineered soy oil, which is a major source of trans fat, can oxidize inside your body, thereby causing damage to both your heart and your brain.

One of the first articles published exonerating saturated fats was in 1957 by Dr. Fred Kummerow,1 who has now spent eight decades absorbed in the science of lipids and heart disease. In 2013, Kummerow sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for not withdrawing trans fats from the market.2 It was Kummerow's lifetime work that revealed the dangers of trans fat and oxidized cholesterol and the relationship to heart disease.

Not surprisingly, trans fat is also linked to dementia as the arterial changes that occur in the heart muscle also occur in the brain, triggering neurological damage. Recent research has once again demonstrated the dangers to health and a great financial burden that eating a diet with trans fat has placed on the American public.

Syringe

Mercola: New Studies Reveal That Vaccines Harm

When it comes to vaccine safety, a complaint that I've frequently expressed is the lack of credible studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.

At best, we've had vaccination surveys1 based on self-reported data,2 and while that evidence strongly suggested unvaccinated children experience better health and fewer health problems, they were dismissed by most public health officials as unimportant. There are also published studies showing annual influenza vaccination takes its toll on your health, 3,4,5,6 and may do more harm than good in the long term.

Now, two pilot studies led by Anthony Mawson,7 an interdisciplinary epidemiologist and social scientist with a doctorate in public health, have helped to shed some light on the topic.

The gold standard in scientific research is replication and, while the conclusions of these studies need to be replicated using other data sources, they are another piece of evidence showing there are negative health outcomes for vaccinated children, and that unvaccinated children are actually healthier. It's a good start, and it's important to know these studies exist.

Life Preserver

Lifestyle changes to help regulate insulin that have nothing to do with food

Regulating blood sugar levels is a key feature of any health-promoting diet [15, 20] . High blood sugar levels after eating are a major stimulator of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are chemically reactive molecules that have important roles in cell signaling (the complex communication between and within cells) and in homeostasis (maintenance of a stable environment inside and outside the cell). But ROS are also potent signals for inflammation and stimulate the production of proinflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers), and also injure cells and tissue. As a result, chronic high blood sugar levels can cause serious damage throughout the body, including to blood vessels and vital organs. This is why diabetes (chronical hyperglycemia) is associated with higher risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, vision problems, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

When we consume carbohydrates, blood sugar increases. In response to the rise in blood sugar, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which facilitates the transport of glucose into the cells of the body and signals to the liver to convert glucose into glycogen and triglycerides for storage.

Using a wide array of enzymes, liver cells (called hepatocytes) first convert excess glucose into glycogen (which is stored in the liver and in muscle tissue) for short-term storage. When needed, the glycogen is rapidly converted back into glucose and released into the blood to maintain normal blood sugar levels and provide energy for the body's cells between meals. There is also a maximum glycogen storage capacity in the muscle tissue and liver, so whatever glucose is consumed beyond that amount is converted into triglycerides (molecules composed of three fatty acids and a glycerol) for longer-term storage in adipocytes (fat-storage cells). This process is also stimulated by insulin. Triglycerides are released by the liver into the blood to circulate to adipose tissues (fat deposits), where they are taken up by adipocytes. So when we eat a high-carbohydrate meal, blood glucose and blood triglycerides are increased.

Ambulance

Man dies after tattoo becomes infected with flesh-eating bacteria from Gulf of Mexico

A 31-year-old man died after he went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and his tattoo became infected with flesh-eating bacteria that live in ocean water, according to a new report.

The man had recently gotten a tattoo on his right calf. Despite the common advice to avoid swimming for a few weeks after getting a new tattoo, the man went for a swim in the ocean just five days after he received the tattoo, according to the report, published May 27 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

A few days later, he developed a fever and chills, and his skin became red over his tattoo and on other parts of his legs. Soon after the man arrived at the hospital, the red, painful lesions on his legs turned purple, and he developed large blisters filled with fluid.

Attention

Drugging without consent: Australian school children face involuntary weekly doctor visits

© Cattaneo / GlobalLookPress
In the Australian state of Victoria, a state program kicked in at the beginning of 2017 to mandate that children as young as 12 should see a doctor in school at least once a week, to receive drugs and medical treatment without parental consent.

According to the Herald Sun: