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Archive for the ‘health’ category

Nov 11, 2019

Do You Need Vitamin D Pills?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

North Americans spent more than $936 million on vitamin D pills in 2017, doctors ordered more than 10 million laboratory tests for vitamin D for Medicare patients at a cost of $365 million in 2016, and 25 percent of older adults take vitamin D supplements. A Kaiser Health News investigation recently reported that the man most responsible for the obsession with vitamin D pills, Boston endocrinologist Michael Holick, has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by supplement and drug manufacturers, the indoor-tanning industry and commercial laboratories that run blood tests for vitamin D (New York Times, August 18, 2018). Many doctors have been concerned about the recommendations for very high doses of vitamin D for a long time. In 2004, highly-respected Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, then head of Boston University’s Department of Dermatology, asked Holick to resign from the department. In 2014, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reported that there is not enough evidence to recommend routine vitamin D testing. In 2015, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield reported that they had spent $33 million on 641,000 vitamin D tests.

No Benefits Shown in Recent Studies • Vitamin D pills were not shown to help prevent heart attacks or cancer: A study led by a Harvard researcher, Dr. Joanne Manson, followed 25,871 men and women for a median of 5.3 years. Participants who took vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), 2000 IU per day, had no added protection from heart diseases or cancers (NEJM, November 10, 2018).

Nov 10, 2019

Fingerprint test could tell if people took drugs or skipped medication

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, neuroscience

A fingerprint test developed by British scientists could tell if patients are skipping medication.

Forgetting or failing to take drugs can have serious consequences, particularly for people suffering from chronic conditions or those with mental health issues.

Non-adherence to prescribed medication is a major problem for the NHS, with some studies showing only 50 per cent of people take long-term drugs as instructed, at a cost of around £300 million in wasted medicine each year.

Nov 10, 2019

The Problem With Labeling Gut Troubles ‘Dysbiosis’

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, health

On the first page of Heinz Koop’s fecal analysis test results, a bar showed where he fell on a gradient from green to red. A label above said, in German: “Overall dysbiosis.” Koop was not in the green or even the yellow regions, but a worrisome orange. It was a bad result — but, he says, “I was kind of happy.”

Doctors hadn’t given him a satisfying answer about his recurring bloody diarrhea and other gut troubles. But Koop had learned on Facebook that he could test his gut microbiome — the community of bacteria and other organisms living in his gastrointestinal tract — to look for problems. Koop ordered a test from a German laboratory called Medivere. The results said his gut microbes were imbalanced, which was something he thought he could treat. Soon he would be attempting to correct this imbalance by chauffering a friend’s fresh stool samples home to implant up his own colon.

Trillions of microbes living on and in our bodies, especially our guts, make up our microbiome. The bugs in our bowel are not just there to slow down our poop, as one researcher speculated in 1970, but are intricately connected to our health. Gut microbes help us digest our food, make critical vitamins, and keep pathogens out. Over the past decade or so, research into the microbiome has exploded as researchers have tried to tease apart the complex connections between our diseases and our resident microbes.

Nov 7, 2019

There’s A Promising New Vaccine For One Of The World’s Top Health Threats

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Scientists Announce Promising New Dengue Vaccine : Goats and Soda Dengue afflicts nearly 400 million people worldwide every year, but a vaccine has remained elusive. New research offers a path forward.

Nov 6, 2019

Adjusting Gut Bacteria to Combat Cognitive Decline

Posted by in categories: health, neuroscience

A new paper explores adjusting the types of bacteria in the gut as a potential way to improve health in older people.

The microbiome

The gut microbiome is a fascinating and diverse ecosystem filled with a myriad of bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi, and viruses that interact with each other and our bodies in diverse and complex ways.

Nov 5, 2019

All children to receive whole genome sequencing at birth, under ambitions laid out

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, health

All children will be able to receive whole genome sequencing at birth, under ambitions laid out by the Health Secretary.

Matt Hancock said that in future, the tests would be routinely offered, alongside standard checks on newborns, in order to map out the risk of genetic diseases, and offer “predictive, personalised” care.

Ministers have already promised that such tests will be offered to all children diagnosed with cancer by the end of this year.

Nov 4, 2019

How we Benefit from Getting our Genomes Sequenced

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, finance, food, genetics, habitats, health, internet, mobile phones

When the first smartphones arrived, few people understood how they would change our reality. Today, our internet-connected mobile device maps our travel, manages our finances, delivers our dinner, and connects us to every corner of human knowledge. In less than a generation, it has become almost an extension of our central nervous system — so indispensable that we can’t imagine leaving home without it to guide us.

We are about to embark on another journey even more important to every individual and to human society. We are entering the age of genomics, an amazing future that will dramatically improve the health outcomes of people across the planet. Soon, we won’t be able to imagine a time when we left home without knowledge of our genome to guide us.

Continue reading “How we Benefit from Getting our Genomes Sequenced” »

Nov 4, 2019

Light-activated pancreatic cells produce insulin on demand

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Diabetes is one of the leading health problems in our modern world and requires the careful management of a patient’s insulin levels. New research from Tufts University may make that process a little easier. In mouse tests, the team implanted beta cells that produce more insulin on demand, when they’re activated by blue light.

At the heart of both types of diabetes is insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, allowing cells in the body to properly use it as energy. In type I diabetes, beta cells in the pancreas don’t produce enough insulin, sometimes because the immune system destroys those vital beta cells. In type II diabetes, a patient’s cells stop responding to insulin, or the pancreas can’t keep up with demand, meaning blood glucose levels spike to dangerous highs.

Managing the condition requires constant monitoring of blood sugar levels and boosting insulin levels as needed, either by directly injecting the hormone or through drugs that amplify the beta cells’ production of it.

Nov 3, 2019

How we’ll get to Mars — what’s the biggest challenge, money or technology?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, economics, habitats, health, nuclear energy, space travel

“There are a number of critical technologies that have to be assessed and tested before we go to Mars,” he told Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald.

His short-list includes reusable landers, new space suits, mining gear, water and fuel production plants and safe nuclear power sources that could be used to power habitats and equipment on the red planet.

Continue reading “How we’ll get to Mars — what’s the biggest challenge, money or technology?” »

Nov 3, 2019

High-Intensity Exercise Boosts Memory In Seniors

Posted by in category: health

A new study suggests that seniors should be doing high-intensity exercise to improve their memory.

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