Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Junk "science" about "junk" food

Predictable nonsense: The weakest possible evidence (self-reports) added to the "correlation is causation" fallacy

Eating junk food can make you depressed, doctors have warned. Those who regularly eat high-fat foods, processed meals, desserts and sweets are almost 60 per cent more likely to suffer depression than those who choose fruit, vegetables and fish. Researchers claim their study is the first to investigate the link between overall diet and mental health, rather than the effects of individual foods.

Dr Eric Brunner, one of the researchers from University College London, said: 'There seem to be various aspects of lifestyle such as taking exercise which also matter, but it appears that diet is playing an independent role.'

The study, in the British Journal of Psychiatry, used data on 3,486 male and female civil servants aged around 55. Each participant completed a questionnaire about their eating habits and a self-report assessment for depression five years later.

The researchers found that those with the highest consumption of processed food were 58 per cent more likely to be depressed five years later than those eating the least amount.


Malaria vaccine for Africa likely to be distributed from 2015

Not a magic bullet but a big step forward

The first vaccine against malaria is likely to be distributed in Africa from 2015 after the “milestone moment” of the continent’s largest final-stage drug trial, scientists have told The Times.

A meeting of 1,500 specialists in infectious disease will be told tomorrow that more than 5,500 children have been given the RTS,S vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the British pharmaceutical company, as part of the trial. Vaccine developers will tell the conference that the phase three trial is under way in seven countries around Africa, marking a major step in bringing the drug to licence.

Malaria is a parasitic disease that infects about 250 million people every year, resulting in almost a million deaths. It is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is passed to humans by infected mosquitoes when they bite. The disease can damage the nervous system, kidneys and liver, and severe cases can quickly lead to death. About 40 per cent of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, mainly in the poorest countries. The problem is especially serious in Africa, where one in every five childhood deaths is due to the effects of the disease. An African child has on average between 1.6 and 5.4 episodes of malarial fever each year, with one child dying every 30 seconds from the disease.

Delegates at this week’s conference in Nairobi will be told that although the vaccine will not be a “magic bullet” against the disease, the latest trials of RTS,S brings it within reach of regulatory approval.

Dr Joe Cohen, vice-president of vaccine research and development at GSK, and one of the inventors of RTS,S, said that initial data would be filed within the next 12 months, with trial results expected by 2012 and implementation by 2015. “There is enormous excitement at reaching this milestone of this pivotal phase three trial. We are really forging ahead now,” he said. “We can see implementation starting broadly in 2015. Just a few years ago the idea of a malaria vaccine entering final phase three trials would have been unthinkable. It’s a tremendous breakthrough.”RTS,S, also known as Mosquirix, is the first potential malaria vaccine to make it to large-scale efficacy and safety trials, but also the first to target a more complex human parasite rather than a bacterium or virus.

The trials, which began in May, have now reached countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Gabon. The vaccine has been given to between 5,000 and 6,000 children, and will eventually involve more than double the number. Data from earlier trials of RTS,S, published last year, showed that it reduced the risk of malaria by 53 per cent in children aged between 5 months and 17 months. It was shown to be safe and tolerable and could be given alongside other vaccines.

Even a partially effective vaccine would have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives a year. However, since it is likely to be five years before it is in use, experts said that eradicating the disease would mean fighting on many fronts. Essential elements include insecticides to spray bednets, building houses to deter mosquitoes and finding new drugs and funding existing ones. Global estimates suggested that $4.2 billion (£2.5 billion) would be needed each year to fight malaria.

Dr Ashley Birkett, director of preclinical development at the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, the non-profit organisation, said that a rethink of funding strategies was needed, including the target of an 80 per cent effective vaccine by 2025. “With vaccine development you have to take a long-term approach,” Dr Birkett said. “RTS,S is the first step not only to preventing illness and death but ultimately to eradicating the disease.”


1 comment:

John A said...

"Those [in Government] who regularly eat high-fat foods, processed meals, desserts and sweets are almost 60 per cent more likely to"

... maintain a level of intelligence sufficient to feel frustrated/depressed/apalled/worried about the direction(s) the government is headed.