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Tue, 19 Jun 2018
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Health & Wellness


Big Pharma pays universities for most medical research in the U.S.

drugs medicine
In the past, collaboration between scientists in academia and pharmaceutical companies was relatively uncommon. However, lately there has been a growing interest in developing financial partnerships between these two sectors. The drug industry's funding patterns for academic research has shifted from handpicked projects on investigation of the biology of disease to large integrated programs, with an emphasis on the development of therapeutic drugs and vaccines. In the last few years, pharmaceutical companies have also formed "science hubs" in bigger academic institutions to promote biomedical innovation.1

Some of these partnerships include GlaxoSmithKline at Harvard University, Pfizer at University of California, and AstraZeneca at University of Washington, etc.1 In fact, with the increasing financial ties between academia and the pharmaceutical industry, many drug companies have formed specialized divisions that are solely responsible for seeking research and development relationships with academic institutions.2


New study calls into question the 'high cholesterol myth' and the need for Statin drugs

A recent study in the BMJ Open Journal may be the final nail in the coffin for industry-recommended treatment of high cholesterol-indeed, with the very contention that high cholesterol is a health problem at all. The study concluded the following about LDL-C (the supposed 'bad' cholesterol):
High LDL-C is inversely associated with mortality in most people over 60 years. This finding is inconsistent with the cholesterol hypothesis (ie, that cholesterol, particularly LDL-C, is inherently atherogenic). Since elderly people with high LDL-C live as long or longer than those with low LDL-C, our analysis provides reason to question the validity of the cholesterol hypothesis.
As noted, the study refers to claims that 'high cholesterol causes plaque buildup in arteries (atherogenisis) that lead to an increased risk of heart disease' as a hypothesis. One can wonder how often a doctor has told his patient "I recommend that you take Lipitor because there is an unproven hypothesis out there that says high cholesterol is bad for you?"

Comment: Read more about Statin madness:


Journal of the American Osteopathic Association Review: Magnesium-deficient diet makes Vitamin D ineffective

Osteopathic Association
Vitamin D can't be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels, meaning Vitamin D remains stored and inactive for as many as 50% of Americans, according to a review of previous studies, published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

"People are taking Vitamin D supplements but don't realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, Vitamin D is not really useful or safe," said Professor Mohammed Razzaque, from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pensylvania.

"Consumption of Vitamin D supplements can increase a person's calcium and phosphate levels even if they remain Vitamin D deficient."

Wine n Glass

Is Obamacare driving people to drink? Study suggests yes

© Christian Charisius/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Do you want a case of vodka with your ObamaCare this year? Or perhaps a barrel of brandy?

More people do than used to be the case, and it ain't pretty.

Only a few years into Obama's signature healthcare law, also known as the Affordable Care Act, and more Americans have taken to the bottle, according to new research.

"We find relatively robust evidence that the ACA increased risky drinking," states the report, "The Affordable Care Act on Health Behaviors After Three Years," published by the National Bureau of Economic Research earlier this month. The paper was written by researchers from Georgia State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Kentucky, and Maryland-based analysis firm Impaq International.

The idea behind the research was to look at the impact of the ACA and the expansion of Medicaid on behavior related to future health risks, both those that increased the likelihood of future problems and those that decreased the chance.

For each year of the analysis, which ran from 2011 through 2016, the researchers collected data on more than 300,000 adults aged 19-64 years. That covered the three years before the full implementation of the ObamaCare program and three years after the kickoff date when buying insurance became mandatory.

What they found was that risky drinking behavior was trending downward during the data sample's first three years, which was the before-ObamaCare period. After the ACA was implemented, things changed for the worse.


How your diet could influence the age of menopause onset

high carb meal
© Getty Images

A diet high in carbs could bring on an earlier menopause, a study suggests.

Eating lots of pasta and rice was associated with reaching menopause one-and-a-half years earlier than the average age of women in the UK of 51.

However, the University of Leeds study of 914 UK women, also found that a diet rich in oily fish and peas and beans may delay natural menopause.

But experts say many other factors, including genes, influence timing of the menopause.

Comment: There is likely a very real connection between the diet and the age at which menopause begins. But this observational study, unfortunately, isn't good for much other than grabbing headlines. It's a very complicated picture, with many contributing factors. Changing to a low-carb diet, ditching the refined sugar, is certainly a good start which will help with overall health, including menopause.

See also:


Ten harmful hygiene habits to avoid

showering man
An article featured in Reader's Digest1 called out a number of so-called "healthy" hygiene practices that actually do more harm than good. Given the condensed nature of their commentary and the many misconceptions involved with these particular areas of hygiene, I would like to elaborate on some of them. You are probably aware that many commercial personal care products, such as bubble bath and hand sanitizer, are laced with harmful chemicals that can potentially damage your health.

But, what's your view on brushing your teeth right after a meal, cleaning your ears, douching or exfoliating? Are those widespread practices helping or hurting you? If you're not sure, let's take a closer look at popular hygiene routines that may be wreaking havoc on your health. Below are 10 hygiene habits that do more harm than good.

Harmful Hygiene Habit No. 1: Applying Hand Sanitizer


Making sense of the activated charcoal craze

activated charcoal
A London eatery called Coco di Mama is jumping on the charcoal bandwagon with its offer of a charcoal-laced croissant they describe as a "vegan delight." Below is an excerpt from their website:1
"We are so excited to bring you a charcoal-activated vegan croissant! It's quite an unusual looking item, but we can promise you it ... tastes better than it looks. Unlike a regular croissant, there is no butter. The key ingredients are sunflower margarine, soy and barley flour, activated charcoal, sugar and lemon. The alkaline properties of charcoal in the croissant help to detoxify any poisons in your body by neutralizing excess stomach acid."
They go on to suggest this blackened bakery item can help with hangovers and bloating, two claims that are not scientifically founded.2 Activated charcoal aside, the other ingredients in the croissant, such as margarine, soy and sugar - all well-known to damage your health - more than make this menu item and other foods like it not only undesirable, but also something to avoid.

The Guardian suggests this faddish food item is just one of many charcoal-influenced products hitting the market recently. They make mention of "charcoal bagels, ice cream, burger buns, smoothies and pizzas ... plus charcoal toothpaste and face masks."3 Before you join the charcoal craze and rush out to buy any of these products, let's take a closer look at the effects - positive or negative - activated charcoal may have on your health.

Evil Rays

Italian study links cell phone radiation to brain and heart tumors

cell phone
© weeksmd.com
Laboratory animals exposed to cellphone radiation developed heart and brain tumors similar to the types seen in some studies of human cellphone users, according to an Italian study published today. EWG said the findings reinforce the need for people, especially children, to exercise caution when using cellphones and other radiation-emitting devices.

The study by the Ramazzini Institute, published in the journal Environmental Research, supports the findings of the federal National Toxicology Program. Last month, the NTP reported that male rats exposed to radio-frequency radiation at levels including those emitted by cellphones had a greater chance of developing malignant brain cancer, and tumors in the heart and other organs.

Comment: What 15 minutes on your cell phone actually does to your brain

Life Preserver

Reduce inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases with baking soda

Baking soda
© Sci-News.com
The new study indicates that oral NaHCO3 activates a splenic anti-inflammatory pathway and provides evidence that the signals that mediate this response are transmitted to the spleen via a novel neuronal-like function of mesothelial cells.
A team of researchers at Augusta University has shown that when rats or healthy people drink a solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3), it becomes a trigger for the stomach to make more acid to digest the next meal and for little-studied mesothelial cells sitting on the spleen to tell the fist-sized organ that there's no need to mount a protective immune response. Their results appear in the Journal of Immunology.

"'It's most likely a hamburger not a bacterial infection,' is basically the message," said study senior author Dr. Paul O'Connor, from the Department of Physiology at Augusta University.

Comment: The many uses and benefits of baking soda:


CRISPR/Cas9 silences gene associated with high cholesterol levels through epigenetic regulation

CRISPR/Cas9 epigenetic repression system mice liver
© Charles Gersbach, Duke University
Histological sections of liver from control mice treated with saline (left) and the CRISPR/Cas9 epigenetic repression system in which cholesterol levels were lowered (right) show generally normal and healthy tissue.
Biomedical engineers at Duke University have used a CRISPR/Cas9 genetic engineering technique to turn off a gene that regulates cholesterol levels in adult mice, leading to reduced blood cholesterol levels and gene repression lasting for six months after a single treatment.

This marks the first time researchers have delivered CRISPR/Cas9 repressors for targeted therapeutic gene silencing in adult animal models. The study appeared online in Nature Communications on April 26.

The CRISPR/Cas9 system is based on an antiviral defense mechanism in bacteria in which the Cas9 enzyme recognizes the viral DNA sequences of previous infections and cuts up invading DNA during re-infection. Researchers have engineered the CRISPR/Cas9 system to not only locate and cut specific sequences of DNA, but to also turn on or off the expression of targeted genes without making permanent changes to the DNA coding sequence.