Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Food sweetener could be 'fuelling' childhood diabetes, study finds

Journal article here. A sample of 16 fatties is a joke. And a 10 week trial is pretty weak too

The sweetener fructose, a cheap sugar substitute found in thousands of processed foods and soft drinks, may be increasing childhood diabetes and the obesity crisis, new findings suggest. In a study by researchers at the University of California, 16 volunteers were put on a controlled diet with high-levels of fructose – a sweetener derived from corn.

After 10 weeks, the volunteers had developed more fat cells around the heart, liver and other major organs as well as showing signs of food processing abnormalities linked to diabetes and heart disease.

Another group of volunteers, who were also on a controlled diet but without the fructose, did not show the fat cell increase or the food processing abnormalities. Both groups put on the same amount of weight.

Children are said to be in a higher risk group as they are more likely to eat products with high-levels of sweeteners over longer periods of time. "This is the first evidence we have that fructose increases diabetes and heart disease independently from causing simple weight gain," Kimber Stanhope, a molecular biologist who led the study, told a Sunday newspaper.


Breast cancer drug combination offers new hope to women

Comment from Britain

A new breast cancer drug has been shown to shrink tumours in women for whom all other treatments have failed. Forty per cent of women with an aggressive and advanced form of breast cancer who were given the treatment in clinical trials saw their tumours reduce. The new drug - a combination of Herceptin with a particular type of chemotherapy - slowed the spread of disease in more than half of women with HER2-positive cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. In 40 per cent of cases, tumours were reduced for at least six months.

The results are particularly significant because the research was carried out on women whose cancer was progresssing despite the fact they had already tried many other drug treatments. Charities described the study's findings as "promising" and called for rapid major trials to test the drug on larger numbers of women.

Around 10,000 women in Britain are diagnosed with HER2-positive cancer each year, making up around 20 to 30 per cent of all breast cancer cases. The diagnosis means women have been found to have large quantities of a protein known as HER2 on the surface of the tumour cells, which makes the disease more aggressive.

In recent years, the "wonderdrug" Herceptin, which targets this protein, has been hailed as the best solution for such women. The new trial found that for those women whose disease had continued to progress, the combination of Herceptin with a type of chemotherapy called DM1 - which prevents the cell division which spreads cancer - could offer a last hope.

On average, the 110 women in the study had already undergone seven types of different drug treatments, which had failed to stop the spread of their cancer, before they were given the "two-in-one" treatment, called TDM1. Tumours were shrunk in 40 per cent of cases, while a further 12 per cent of women saw their disease stabilise for six months or more, according to the study, which will be presented later today [Sunday] at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, in Texas.

Experts said the new treatment - which is not yet licensed in this country - could offer hope to women who had exhausted all other options. Charities called for rapid large scale trials to see if the new drug was as effective as the US study suggests.

Dr Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support said: "These findings are definitely promising. What we need is more work quickly to see if the results are as good using large scale, randomised control trials." The combination drug is not yet licensed, and TDM1 could take three to five years to be available in this country.

Dr David Miles, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said it was rare to see a drug work so dramatically on women whose disease was so aggressive. He said: "These results are promising news for the thousands of women with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer who have already received many rounds of new treatment, and need new options to be available. To see such efficacy in such a large proportion of women with this aggressive type of cancer is unusual".


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