Parents arrested seeking conventional cancer treatment

A media frenzy has erupted this week after 5-year old brain tumour patient, Ashya King, was taken out of the UK’s Southampton Hospital by his parents and flown to Spain seeking a different, but still conventional, cancer treatment. Brett and Naghmeh King fled to Spain in the hope of getting their son proton beam therapy, but instead a manhunt ensued and they have been arrested, detained and denied bail. All the while their young son languishes alone in a Spanish hospital, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the terror and heartbreak of Sally Roberts and her young son Neon in a similar situation back in 2012.

ANH-Intl’s Robert Verkerk PhD had this to say about the situation, “The Ashya King case, like that of Neon Roberts, shows just how far the NHS will go to use state power to manage the health of British minors. Without detailed facts of the medical case available it isn’t possible to say which treatment would likely give Ashya the best chance of survival as well as the highest quality of life. But surely British parents should have the right to seek medical opinions and treatment options outside of the UK? A mature discussion of the relative merits and risks of proton beam therapy versus the proposed NHS treatment among experts in Spain, the UK or elsewhere would also surely afford Ashya the best possible care, while also informing Ashya’s family of the various options. The arrest of his parents, especially given that their actions appear to have been entirely motivated by their love for their child, looks to be an over-reaction — one which seemingly challenges fundamental human rights relating to private and family life.” 

Thankfully the public, UK MPs, and the police have got behind the parents the arrest warrant has now been withdrawn and the Kings reunited with Ashya. A proton beam clinic in Prague is also ready to treat Ashya.

Novartis admits to hiding drug side effects

On Friday 29th August the Japanese unit of Swiss pharma giant Novartis issued a statement saying it had failed to report at least 2,579 cases of serious side effects in patients using its leukaemia and other cancer drugs, reportedly including some fatalities. The company has yet to confirm what action it will take following the latest news, since it has already replaced the entire senior management team in Japan and enforced staff training. This is not the first we’ve heard of this. In July, Japanese prosecutors laid charges over claims that falsified data was used to exaggerate the benefits of a popular blood-pressure drug, and they also indicted a former employee, Nobuo Shirahashi, alleging he manipulated the data in clinical studies that were later used in marketing the drug Valsartan. Japanese media are now predicting that the number of cases involved could rise as Novartis probes 6,000 other cases.

First human trials of Ebola vaccine to start soon

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will sponsor the first trial of an Ebola vaccine, which is due to start next week in the US. Following a prediction from the World Health Organization that as many as 20,000 people could be infected in West Africa before the epidemic is brought under control, the vaccine testing has been fast-tracked. The trial will enroll 20 healthy adults who will get a shot in the arm to see first if the vaccine is safe, and second if it generates an immune response. NIH, alongside British medical foundations, will separately test the vaccine in Britain, Gambia and Mali. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is discussing a trial in Nigeria. Once again the NIH are very keen for a vaccine to be developed and possibly stockpiled for future outbreaks. All familiar territory well travelled by preparations for the bird flu and swine flu pandemics.

Diabetic dangers increased by high carbs

Journalist Jerome Burne is no stranger to the idea of calorie restriction, but his new article focuses on diabetics rather than cancer patients. Referencing a new paper, he outlines why carbohydrate restriction should be the first approach in diabetes management. This is contrary to the usual advice of cutting out fats from the diet, but comes with the promise of reliably reducing high blood glucose without weight loss (unless it’s necessary), reducing or eliminating medication, and no side effects comparable to those seen with many drugs. The added benefit of course is that reducing or cutting out starchy carbs will naturally result in weight loss if it’s needed. Now that the fat/heart disease link has been blown out of the water the majority of people, diabetics included, will do better to keep the healthy fats and ditch the starchy and refined carbs instead.

Walking slashes cancer risk 

A new report by Walking for Health, a network of walking groups run by Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers, has revealed physical activity as a ‘wonder drug’ for some cancers. By simply walking one mile a day, those diagnosed with breast and prostate cancers can cut their risk of death by up to 40 per cent, and for bowel cancer patients, doubling the walking distance can halve the risk of dying. An estimated 1.6 million of the 2 million people living with cancer in the UK are not active enough and as Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said “Today’s research highlights the very simple reality – walking can save lives.” The research also showed physical activity to reduce the impact of some debilitating side effects of cancer treatment, such as swelling around the arm, anxiety, depression, fatigue, impaired mobility and weight changes. Considering only 36 per cent of British women meet the Government’s moderate activity target, we agree with Devane’s statement, “We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to what is a very simple and obvious solution. Physical activity is a wonder drug and health care professionals must prescribe physical activity, such as walking, as a standard part of cancer recovery.” This will come as no surprise to health and fitness advocates, who alongside NASA scientists, have long understood that being active engages gravity, which is not an optional choice, it’s essential for human health.

UK hospital food overhaul

Following a report by the Hospital Food Standards Panel, the UK’s National Health Service’s (NHS) unhealthy and inedible meals may soon be a thing of the past. There are plans for all patients to be checked for malnutrition, given an individual food plan and given help eating and drinking. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented, "we know that if you give people healthy, nutritious food it means they recover more quickly, they stay in hospital for a shorter amount of time and it costs the NHS less, so there are lots of reasons why this is very important." Hospitals will need to ensure that food served in the canteen is also healthy, meets guidelines on salt, sugar and fat and is sustainably sourced. Food standards at hospitals will be scored and all results posted for the public to see. The report also recommends that hospitals develop food and drink policies that encourage healthy eating, high-quality food production, sustainability and excellent nutritional care. Whilst any change is a step in the right direction, our concern is that the government’s outdated Eatwell Plate, akin to the US’ My Plate, is going to be used as the benchmark for a healthy meal.

Monarch butterflies now endangered species 

Once ubiquitous in the US countryside, the Monarch butterfly is now endangered. At the point at which Monarchs should be migrating back to their winter breeding grounds, environmental groups have petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to list them as a threatened species. The petition has been filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society and Monarch researcher Dr. Lincoln Brower. The butterfly population has declined by 90% since the dramatic surge in Roundup use on so-called “Roundup Ready” crops, and this has led to the killing of milkweed, a primary source of food for the Monarch butterfly. University of New Hampshire Entomologist, Alan Eaton, said “The material that’s widely used in agricultural fields is glyphosate, a herbicide. It’s a broad spectrum killer. It’s basically aimed at weeds in the field. As a result, milkweed tends to be killed so there aren’t as many (Monarch butterflies).”

Ukraine could become test ground for GM crops in the EU

Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director at The Oakland Institute, warns that the Ukraine’s deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is likely to result in their fertile soil being used to grow GM crops. In an interview with Sign Of The Times (SOTT) he says, “there is a lot of pressure from the bio-technological industry, such as Monsanto, to have [GM crops] approved in Ukraine. Europe has been quite resistant in allowing GMOs, but if they are successful in Ukraine then there might be a domino effect in Europe.” Once the IMF loan the country $17 billion, he believes there will be a big push to privatise Government-controlled land and make it a valuable commodity, then deals can be struck and the land can be acquired by foreign corporations.

Germany demands return to non-GMO fed poultry

German supermarket giants announced last Thursday that they demand the German Poultry Association (ZDG) stop using GMO feed for both egg and poultry meat production. The ZDG unilaterally declared in February 2014 that it was stopping using GM-free animal feed, following similar moves by other associations in England and Denmark, but poultry suppliers will now have to rush to get their feed supply chains free from GMO feed by January 2015. German retailers also indicated that they will demand a completely GMO-free feed supply chain in all animal feed sectors, including dairy, pork and beef as a next step. These decisions came after close consultation with Brazilian authorities, resulting in the supermarkets concluding that the reasons given by ZDG to stop using GM-free animal feed did not stack up. Henry Rowlands, Global GMO Free Coalition Coordinator, said, “The wool has been pulled over the eyes of retailers across Europe by the GMO industry over the past year. We welcome the news that they have started to fight back in the interest of their customers, who do not want to buy GM-fed eggs and meat.”

Gardasil vaccine in the news again

Over 200 girls have come down with symptoms ranging from fainting to numbness in the hands and headaches after receiving the Gardasil vaccine. The girls, from a small town in Columbia, were aged between 9 and 16 and overwhelmed the town’s limited medical facilities as many of them were rushed to hospital. The parents all fear the illnesses are a reaction to the vaccine, but regulators and medics think it may be a case of mass hysteria.


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