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Wed, 19 Sep 2018
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Health & Wellness


'Incurable' & drug-resistant: Deadly superbug colonizing hospitals across globe

superbug Staphylcocus epidermidis
© William WEST / AFP
The superbug Staphylcocus epidermidis on an agar plate in Melbourne on September 4, 2018.
Doctors are warning of a potentially fatal and "formidable" pathogen which has spread to hospitals across the globe and is resistant to all known antibiotics.

A team of researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia discovered three multidrug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis which emerged in recent decades and spread globally. The team studied samples from 78 medical institutions across 10 countries, releasing their findings in the journal Nature Microbiology on Monday.

"Often it just colonises the skin," researcher Ben Howden said as cited by ABC News Australia. "It doesn't necessarily lead to infection. But in a smaller number of people it can lead to a serious, invasive infection requiring complex treatment."

S. epidermidis, a relative of the better-known MRSA superbug, is found commonly on human skin, and poses no real threat to the majority of the human population. However, people who have compromised immune systems, are recovering from surgery or have implanted medical devices such as catheters or joint replacements are susceptible to the potentially-severe and sometimes fatal infection.

"The discovery is really that there's this bacteria that's been spreading in hospitals around the world somewhat unrecognised for a number of years," Howden said. "This is just another example of the use of antibiotics driving bacteria to become more and more resistant."

Wine n Glass

The debate rages: Latest research contends no amount of alcohol is safe

Any and all alcohol consumption is bad for your health, according to a new global report from health experts, who are attempting to settle the drinking debate once and for all.

The report, published in The Lancet medical journal, claims to be the most comprehensive of its kind and goes against previous studies which have suggested a glass of red wine is equal to going to the gym, or that drinking alcohol makes you live longer.

While the researchers acknowledged that moderate alcohol use can help protect against heart disease and diabetes, they said the risks associated with drinking alcohol - such as cancer and other illnesses - far outweigh any benefits.

"The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising," said the report, which called for national medical guidelines - that suggest drinking one or two glasses of wine or beer per day are safe - should be amended.

Comment: This latest pronouncement is unlikely to be the final salvo in the battle; no doubt a contradictory study is on its way to further confuse the issue. See also:


How to spot autistic students who are 'social masking'

There's a popular saying when it comes to autism spectrum disorder (ASD): "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." The spectrum is incredibly vast and every child is different - no one displays all of the same signs in the exact same way. This means that it can be really tricky for teachers to identify them and then offer the right support for those pupils.

So how, as a teacher, can you spot the signs? Girls and boys adopt various coping methods for surviving the social chaos of primary and secondary school. But one of the key indicators for school staff to look out for is a trait called "social masking", which is very common among girls.

Social masking is when a child copies the behaviours of those around them to fit in. It can be hard to spot because the copied behaviour may come across as merely conventional.

However, there are signs to look out for: a girl with ASD might observe behaviour and display an exact copy of it. For example, if a child in their class makes a joke and everybody laughs, the child with ASD may repeat this joke on more than one occasion to trigger the same response from her peers. This can, of course, be irritating for the other children, which may confuse and upset the girl because she may not understand the social issues that repeating somebody else's joke can create.

Comment: Further reading:


Wash yer hands! Study finds that highest levels of viruses at airports were found in plastic security trays

plastic security trays
© PA
The research found viruses were most commonly found on plastic trays at the passenger queue.
Plastic security trays retain the highest levels of viruses at airports, a study has found.

Pandemic experts found evidence of viruses on 10% of airport surfaces tested - which also included shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters and children's play areas.

The various surfaces were swabbed at Helsinki-Vantaa airport at peak-time as part of a scientific investigation carried out by experts from the University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare during the winter of 2016.

The research found viruses were most commonly found on the plastic trays that are circulated along the passenger queue at the hand luggage X-ray checkpoint.

Comment: As if the DNA-destroying X-ray machines weren't enough!


Coconut oil is poison? Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra slams Harvard professor who made the ludicrous claim: 'unscientific nonsense'

Dr. Aseem Malhotra
A Harvard professor who claimed coconut oil is poison has today been slammed as talking 'unscientific nonsense' by a furious cardiologist.

Professor Karin Michels, who also heads the tumour research center at the University of Freiburg in Germany, made the controversial statement last month.

She described the oil as 'one of the worst foods you can eat' - and said even lard is healthier, despite being abundant in saturated fat.

But Dr Aseem Malhotra, an avid supporter of saturated fats and founder of the campaign group Action on Sugar, said her comments were bringing the prestigious Harvard University into 'disrepute'.

Comment: It appears that the regular slamming of low-carb diets in the media is now being joined by the regular slamming of coconut oil. It's likely the hubbub is financially motivated (possibly by the vegetable oil industry?), although a smoking gun has yet to be uncovered.

See also:


An explanation of why saturated fat cannot raise cholesterol levels (LDL levels)


"Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.' H.L. Mencken.

Of all the flaws of the human mind, the number one must be the overwhelming desire to find simple, easy to understand answers - to everything. I think this is why my favourite film of all time is Twelve Angry Men. It was a stage play first.

A black youth is accused of killing his father. The evidence that is presented by the prosecution seems utterly overwhelming. A unique knife is used for the murder, one that the youth was known to carry. He was seen leaving the apartment after shouting 'I'll kill you' and suchlike. Most importantly, however, he was a young black youth, and young black youths are widely considered to be the sort of person who do such things.

Comment: See also:


Former longtime editor of JAMA: 'It's not the fat that makes us unhealthy'

George Lundberg
Hello and welcome. I am Dr George Lundberg, and this is At Large at Medscape. Today I am in my angry-old-man persona. I often write about nutrition and disease. And I usually admit in advance to knowing little about nutrition, much like most of my physician readers.

It has been 11 years since independent investigative science journalist Gary Taubes published his best-seller, Good Calories, Bad Calories,[1] after 15 years of serious study, enabled by that amazing new tool, the Internet. Turns out, it's not fat that makes us unhealthy. In 640 total pages with 459 notes, 1700 references, and 924 Amazon customer reviews, Taubes demolished what the medical, scientific, and nutrition fields (since at least the 1960s) had spent countless billions of dollars building and profiting (but also dying) from: the fat food theory of the causation of "diseases of human civilization" - atherosclerosis, coronary artery heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, stroke, cancer, dementia, and even osteoporosis and arthritis.

Comment: For the original video of Dr. Lundberg giving this talk, click here.

Life Preserver

Lower your cancer, diabetes and heart disease risk: Eat dinner early or skip it altogether

eating dinner early

Eating dinner at 2 p.m., or skipping supper altogether, and fasting until the next morning, combats weight gain and reduces cancer risk.
For years, a standard dietary recommendation said to stabilize your blood sugar and insulin levels (thereby optimizing energy and maintaining a healthy weight) has been to eat three square meals a day with small snacks in between. On top of that, health experts (influenced by the food industry) maintained that processed foods fortified with RDA nutrients are just as good as, and maybe even better than, cooking from scratch.

Vegetable oil in lieu of saturated animal fats, low-fat instead of full-fat, and products fortified with iron and other vitamins and minerals are but a few examples. Today, science is clearly pointing out the fallacies of these strategies. In fact, this all-day grazing - especially on processed foods - has been identified as a key driver of obesity and chronic ill health.

The most obvious risk with spreading out your meals to morning, noon and evening is overeating. Other less obvious risks are biological changes that result in metabolic dysfunction and the inability to burn fat.

Remember, our ancient ancestors did not have access to food around the clock, year-round, and from a historical perspective it is beyond obvious your body was designed for intermittent periods of fasting - either daily or seasonally, or both. In fact, modern research reveals a number of beneficial effects take place when you go for periods of time without eating, and the timing of these periods of fasting also appears to have a significant influence on your biology.


The Poison Squad that shook America's faith in preservatives

Poison Squad
© U.S. National Library Medicine
Harvey Wiley and members of the "Poison Squad," circa 1905
More than a century ago, enterprising manufacturers added brand-new chemical preservatives into food to keep it fresh as it traveled from the farm into rapidly growing American cities. Milk no longer went rancid! Meat no longer spoiled! But some scientists wondered: could all these preservatives be doing more harm than good? It took a crusading chemist named Harvey Washington Wiley to take this the fight all the way to Washington, D.C., where he recruited a "poison squad" to test their health effects - and, in the process, created the nation's first law to protect against poisons in our food supply. But did he succeed? Are the preservatives we eat today safe? Listen to this episode to hear Wiley's story - and learn why some of the chemicals he tested are still in our food today.


Australia's Cancer Council: Monsanto needs to come clean on any potential links to cancer

cancer council
© (Rose Grant: ABC Rural)
Glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup, is one of Australia's most common weedkillers.
The Cancer Council is urging global chemical giant Monsanto to come clean on any potential links to cancer with one of its popular weed killers following a major lawsuit in the US.

The agribusiness was ordered to pay $US289 million ($396 million) to a former school gardener who is dying of cancer, after a jury in California found the company's Roundup weed killer contributed to his illness.

However, Monsanto has denied the link between Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, and cancer, and will appeal the decision.

Comment: Australia don't hold your breath on Monsanto coming clean on any potential links to cancer! Ms. Ioannou said the "product desperately needs to be reviewed as a result of the risks involved" - What a great idea! If the Cancer Council wants the truth the reviews should be conducted by independent scientists and organizations that are not beholden to Corporate Agriculture companies like Mosanto/Bayer.
The active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide may be "the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment," being responsible for a litany of health disorders and diseases including Parkinson's, cancer and autism, according to a new study.

It's "the most popular herbicide on the planet," widely used on crops like corn and soy genetically engineered to be "Roundup Ready," and sprayed on weeds in lawns across the US. But in the peer-reviewed study published last Thursday in the journal Entropy, authors Anthony Samsel, an independent scientist and consultant, and Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, crush the industry's claims that the herbicide glyphosate is non-toxic and as safe as aspirin.

Looking at the impacts of glyphosate on gut bacteria, Samsel and Seneff found that the herbicide "enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins," and is a "textbook example" of "the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins."
As noted in this Baum Hedlund blog post, all of the SST majority witnesses have ties to Monsanto and/or the chemical industry:
"Dr. Lowit was the subject of a letter from former EPA scientist, Marion Copley, to Jess Rowland questioning her manipulation of data and being under the influence of Monsanto. Robert Tarone, has acknowledged that he is a paid Monsanto consultant. Timothy Pastoor used to work for Syngenta, another glyphosate-based herbicide manufacturer like Monsanto, and spent a considerable amount of his career defending the herbicide atrazine. EFSA was caught relying upon copied and pasted Monsanto summaries of its studies-with Monsanto's spin."
The industry-friendly atmosphere didn't go unnoticed. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), ranking member of the STT committee, told the committee that "if we are truly interested in defending scientific integrity, we should be doing more than simply hearing from industry-friendly scientists."