Saturday, May 12, 2007


Journal abstract below:

A Common Variant in the FTO Gene Is Associated with Body Mass Index and Predisposes to Childhood and Adult Obesity

Timothy M. Frayling et al.

Obesity is a serious international health problem that increases the risk of several common diseases. The genetic factors predisposing to obesity are poorly understood. A genome-wide search for type 2 diabetes-susceptibility genes identified a common variant in the FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene that predisposes to diabetes through an effect on body mass index (BMI). An additive association of the variant with BMI was replicated in 13 cohorts with 38,759 participants. The 16% of adults who are homozygous for the risk allele weighed about 3 kilograms more and had 1.67-fold increased odds of obesity when compared with those not inheriting a risk allele. This association was observed from age 7 years upward and reflects a specific increase in fat mass.

Plain language summary below:

To be considered robust, genetic association studies must be confirmed in more than one independent set of subjects. Frayling et al. present a genome scan of DNAs from a large case-control study for type 2 diabetes and identify a common genetic variant associated with obesity and a risk of being overweight. These findings were confirmed in 12 additional cohorts, among a total of 38,759 individuals. On average, individuals homozygous for the high-risk allele weighed nearly 3 kilograms more than individuals homozygous for the low-risk allele. The effect was consistent across samples, across ages (from 7 years upward), across genders, and irrespective of diabetes status.

Cancer treatment without toxic side-effects (maybe)

DRUG-infused bacteria will be used to target and kill cancer cells without toxic side-effects in a world-first discovery by Australian scientists. The nanotechnology takes the teeth out of the bacteria cell so it cannot cause disease, but then uses the cell as a delivery system for cancer treatment. Scientists who made the discovery believe the novel nature of the drugs will save countless lives and keep patients from having to endure debilitating chemotherapy sessions, in which healthy cells are also unavoidably poisoned.

"The breakthrough is using bacteria as drug carriers that go straight to the cancer cell rather than conventional therapy that floods the body,'' Dr Jennifer MacDiarmid said. "They don't have a chromosome so they can't cause disease like a normal bacteria.''

The technology has been developed so the delivery system recognises the markers of certain cancers and latches on to the appropriate cells, releasing the drug inside the tumours and causing less havoc to healthy tissue.

The technology was created by Sydney scientists working for a private company that is partly funded by both State and Federal Government grants, and has been welcomed by cancer experts. The breakthrough drug system will go through human trials by the end of the year and should be available to cancer patients in a few years.



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.


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