Thursday, January 25, 2007


But only if you have MS. Popular summary below followed by journal abstract:

Parasite infection could benefit patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study in the current issue of Annals of Neurology. The study involved 24 patients with MS, half of whom had a current parasitic worm infection. Over an average follow-up period of 4.6 years, patients were checked every three months for any worsening of their symptoms. Those infected with parasites had fewer relapses than those who were parasite-free. There were only three relapses in the infected group compared to 56 relapses among the uninfected patients. When they invade the human body, parasites are able to dampen down the immune response to prolong their own survival. As MS is the result of an overactive immune system, the authors suggest that mimicking a parasite infection could be an effective treatment.


Association between parasite infection and immune responses in multiple sclerosis

By: Jorge Correale & Mauricio Farez

To assess whether parasite infection is correlated with a reduced number of exacerbations and altered immune reactivity in multiple sclerosis (MS).

A prospective, double-cohort study was performed to assess the clinical course and radiological findings in 12 MS patients presenting associated eosinophilia. All patients presented parasitic infections with positive stool specimens. In all parasite-infected MS patients, the eosinophilia was not present during the 2 previous years. Eosinophil counts were monitored at 3- to 6-month intervals. When counts became elevated, patients were enrolled in the study. Interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10, IL-12, transforming growth factor (TGF)- , and interferon- production by myelin basic protein-specific peripheral blood mononuclear cells were studied using enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT). FoxP3 and Smad7 expression were studied by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.

During a 4.6-year follow-up period, parasite-infected MS patients showed a significantly lower number of exacerbations, minimal variation in disability scores, as well as fewer magnetic resonance imaging changes when compared with uninfected MS patients. Furthermore, myelin basic protein-specific responses in peripheral blood showed a significant increase in IL-10 and TGF- and a decrease in IL-12 and interferon- -secreting cells in infected MS patients compared with noninfected patients. Myelin basic protein-specific T cells cloned from infected subjects were characterized by the absence of IL-2 and IL-4 production, but high IL-10 and/or TGF- secretion, showing a cytokine profile similar to the T-cell subsets Tr1 and Th3. Moreover, cloning frequency of CD4+CD25+ FoxP3+ T cells was substantially increased in infected patients compared with uninfected MS subjects. Finally, Smad7 messenger RNA was not detected in T cells from infected MS patients secreting TGF- .

Increased production of IL-10 and TGF- , together with induction of CD25+CD4+ FoxP3+ T cells, suggests that regulatory T cells induced during parasite infections can alter the course of MS.



Virtually no pay discrimination there

Fatter people pay the price of being overweight by earning less, a Europe-wide study has found. For every 10 per cent increase in body mass index (BMI), a man loses 3.27 per cent in earnings, and a woman 1.86 per cent.

The effect is much stronger in the countries of Southern Europe - the Olive Belt - than it is in the "beer belt" of Northern Europe, say the authors, Giorgio Brunello, of the University of Padua, and B‚atrice D'Hombres, of the European Commission's research centre in Ispra, Italy.

One explanation is that fatter people are so common in the beer belt that they are less likely to be discriminated against than are those living in the svelte world of the "olive belt". But the issue is fraught with difficulties. The most obvious is distinguishing cause from effect: does being overweight reduce earnings, or do lower earnings cause people to be overweight? Poorer people may have an unhealthier diet, or do less exercise, for example.

Writing in Economics and Human Biology, the authors gathered data from the European Statistical Office on more than 40,000 people from nine countries: Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Ireland.

The raw statistics suggest quite a strong link between being overweight and reduced earnings, a 10 per cent increase in BMI being linked to a 3.49 per cent reduction in earnings in women and a 5.29 per cent reduction in men. But when occupations that require physical strength are taken out of the equation the association weakens and the reductions in earnings are roughly halved.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.

The use of extreme quintiles (fifths) to examine effects is in fact so common as to be almost universal but suggests to the experienced observer that the differences between the mean scores of the experimental and control groups were not statistically significant -- thus making the article concerned little more than an exercise in deception


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