Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Researchers start trial of 'world's best' flu jab

RESEARCHERS in Adelaide have developed a vaccine they believe could be the world's best defence against an influenza or bird flu epidemic. The Flinders Medical Centre's influenza vaccine which is in its early trial stage has been boosted by a natural sugar adjuvant. Adjuvants amplify the immune system's response to the virus to increase the effectiveness of vaccines.

Leader of the research team Director of Diabetes and Endocrinology Professor Nikolai Petrovsky says the sugar-based adjuvant is safe. "Our data already shows our adjuvant enhances the immune response against the common flu virus and we expect it to work equally well for an avian (bird) flu vaccine," he said.

Head of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Professor David Gordon said the addition of an adjuvant is critical for providing protection and conserving vaccine supplies in the event of a pandemic. "Traditional vaccines can cause pain for a few days, but another major advantage of our vaccine is that many people have experienced no pain from the injection," he said.

The team is looking to test the vaccine on healthy people aged between 18-70 years who have not received a flu vaccine this year.


Watchdog pulps super-juice claims

PRICEY "superfruit" juices touted as possible cures for cancer, diabetes and other diseases may not be so super after all. Consumer watchdog Choice tested the exotic juices -- which cost up to $85 a litre -- and found people can get the same health benefits from eating an apple. It has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and state food authorities to take action against juice sellers who make the outrageous claims.

The so-called super juices are made from tropical fruits and berries including acai, goji, noni and mangosteen. They are usually only available in health food stores, gyms or via internet and mail order.

Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said the juices may offer false hope to sick Australians. He said the juices could also be dangerous if ill people believed the hype and used them as substitutes for conventional medicine. "You get a novelty fruit, call it a super-fruit, throw in a secret Himalayan mountain or Chinese valley with mist on it, or a Pacific island with traditional healers that live to 150, and it's a very potent brew. Then if it costs a lot, people assume it must be rare and very good for you," Mr Zinn said.

Some brochures for juices sold in Australia claim mangosteen juice is better than chemotherapy for cancer and also outperforms drugs routinely prescribed for anxiety, arthritis and heroin addiction. One noni juice seller claims its product can cure cancer and diabetes while improving your golf game. "It's the claims they make that are concerning. They're making therapeutic claims, which are not backed up by science," Mr Zinn said.

He said Choice tests found people could get the same antioxidants from red apples and other cheap fruits available at any supermarket or greengrocer. "If you want to spend $85 on these juices and you like them, that's not bad for anything but your wallet. But it's the misleading claims of curative and preventative powers around the juice of these berries that's a concern and a breach of the Food Standards Code."



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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