Monday, July 09, 2007


Junk food, transfats could cause blindness. That's why you see millions of blind people walking around. What rubbish! Just another of the many assertions based on the myth that dietary antioxidants are beneficial. Taking antioxidants can in fact cause premature death

AUSTRALIA faces an epidemic of blindness because young people are eating too much junk food, health experts have warned. Alarming new research has revealed a poor diet can lead to the eye disease macular degeneration, which causes blindness in later life. In recent years, MD numbers have skyrocketed and now the disease affects a staggering one in seven Australians over 50 - about 850,000 people. The disease causes progressive damage to the central part of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye which enables people to see detail clearly.

Poor nutrition reduces the levels of antioxidants in and around the eye's retina and enables waste products caused by fatty foods to damage the eye. Specialists say MD used to only affect people in their 70s, but now they are seeing people as young as 40 suffering from it. Leading optometrist Allan Ared, a Sydney specialist with clients in Queensland, said transfats in processed foods were a significant risk. "Macular degeneration is a modern-day epidemic, but if you look back 100 years, we never had a problem with this disease," he said. "It's only in the last 10 to 15 years that experts even became aware of what MD was.

"What's happened is processed foods have altered our nutritional intake and we are now eating foods every day that our ancestors only ate on special occasions. "That bag of chips you eat today may certainly impair your vision tomorrow." [The guy should be prosecuted for talking such lies]

Experts advise people to eat vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, as well as foods rich in antioxidants, such as dark leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, nuts, wholegrains, meat, fish and seafood. Clinical studies [I'd like to see them] show high-dose vitamin and zinc supplements can reduce the progression of MD by 25 per cent. Alison Muir, national education co-ordinator for the Macular Degeneration Foundation, recommends people cut down on junk food. "This disease is increasing and it is partly because we have a lot of processed foods in our diets now," she said.



Keeping a cat can irritate the lungs and exacerbate the symptoms of asthma, even in people who have no specific allergy to the animals, researchers say. Up to 15 per cent of people are allergic to them, with their sensitivity attributed to a reaction against at least one particular protein that is secreted from the cat's skin.

A Europe-wide study by a team from Imperial College, London, took samples from the mattresses of 1,884 people with certain common allergies. They found that increased exposure to cat allergen was associated with greater sensitivity of the respiratory system in the volunteers, and encouraged symptoms of wheezing or breathlessness in those who were not known to be allergic to cats.

The increased symptoms, known as greater bronchial responsiveness (BR), suggested that reduced exposure to cats may be beneficial for allergic individuals, regardless of their specific allergies, the researchers said. "This was an unexpected finding," Susan Chinn, lead author of the study, said. "We presupposed that we would find increased responsiveness only in those individuals . . . whose blood tests showed that they were allergic to cats. But our study suggests that all allergic individuals have signs of asthmatic responses if exposed to cat allergen, even if blood tests show that they are not allergic to cats." Dr Chinn and her team report their findings in this month's issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

The study included measurements of house dust mite and cat allergen in mattress dust samples, and data on sensitisation to four main allergens - cat, house dust mite, Cladosporidium (a common mold) and timothy grass. Participants were given a methacholine challenge test, a medical procedure used to diagnose asthma, and the results were compared with the allergens found in the mattress samples.

This study lends weight to previous research that found asthma to be strongly related to indoor allergens. However, that all patients exposed to cats showed greater responsiveness was unexpected. "Our primary results showed no correlation between levels of house dust mite and BR among individuals with sensitisation to any of the four tested allergens," said Dr Chinn. "But even moderate exposure to cat allergen resulted in significantly greater responsiveness."

The researchers said that they could not rule out the possibility that cat allergen exposure could be a proxy for exposure to endotoxins, which are found in bacteria that is thought to encourage asthmatic symptoms. Such compounds are found in higher concentrations in the homes of cat owners. "Based on the current research, it appears that many individuals could benefit from reduced cat ownership and exposure," Dr Chinn said. "However, because the findings were unexpected, it is important that results are replicated in other studies before firm recommendations are made.

Muriel Simmons, the chief executive of the charity Allergy UK, said yesterday that the link between cat allergy and asthma was well established. "We know that cat allergens are among the most sticky and resilient particles, and the most common source of allergies after the house dust mite. Even if you move into a house where cats have previously lived, allergens can maintain even after thorough cleaning."


AIDS medicine cuts through drug resistance

There might be something in this but the research methodology leaves much to be desired

AN EXPERIMENTAL AIDS drug taken in combination with a recently approved medication dramatically reduced the amount of virus in the blood of patients with a history of drug resistance, two international studies have found. The studies, published yesterday, reported that up to 18 per cent more drug-resistant patients experienced a drop in the amount of virus in their blood to undetectable levels after 24 weeks than among those taking a standard drug regimen. The results with the experimental drug etravirine give a much-needed boost in the fight against drug resistance among HIV patients, particularly those resistant to the class of drugs known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, or NNRTIs.

"There are a lot of patients out there who need salvage therapy with a new NNRTI and it looks like we'll have one," said Mark Wainberg, director of the McGill University AIDS Centre in Montreal, who was not part of the study. Between half and 60 per cent of patients on antiretroviral medications developed resistance to a drug in this class, said Dr Wainberg, who has consulted for the maker of etravirine, Tibotec Pharmaceuticals. The company plans to seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for etravirine in coming months. The drug, previously known as TMC125, blocks one of the enzymes needed for replication by the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.

The two studies, funded by Tibotec, followed 1203 patients with HIV in 18 countries. The patients had severely compromised immune systems and were resistant to NNRTIs and another commonly used class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. About half the patients were given etravirine and a protease inhibitor from Tibotec called Prezista, which was approved by the FDA last year. The remainder were given Prezista and a placebo. Patients in both groups were also given other AIDS drugs depending on the recommendation of their doctors. [So control goes down the drain with a large Whooosh!]

William Towner, one of the study authors, said that using several drugs at once had proven to be an effective strategy against the quickly mutating AIDS virus. One of the studies found that 62 per cent of patients on the etravirine regimen suppressed the virus to undetectable levels, compared with 44 per cent in the placebo group. The other study reported successful viral suppression in 56 per cent of the etravirine group compared with 39 per cent in the placebo group.

Most side effects were mild or moderate and occurred at about the same rate in the experimental and control groups. Rash, however, occurred slightly more often in the etravirine groups.



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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