UK NHS surgeon disagrees with hospital cafes full of sugary drinks and snacks

Dr Sally Norton, an NHS consultant specialising in weight loss and upper gastrointestinal surgery, is pushing for a move toward NHS hospital restaurants and cafes that champion fresh, locally sourced food and offer healthy and tasty snacks. Dr Norton is embarrassed that the patients she has performed surgery on are offered sugar-laden drinks and cakes amidst a massive obesity epidemic. “The NHS, which I understood to be an organisation that promotes and supports health (rather than just treating disease), is actually contributing to the [obesity] problem,” she comments, “I know I can't be the only one who thinks that a hospital should be setting a good example for its patients, visitors and its staff.” She goes on to say “If we can't be the leading light in promoting healthy eating, then who can? Shame on us, for allowing most of our hospitals to play willing hosts to the fast food outlets that are contributing to our health crisis… the NHS can and should make a stand.”

It’s official - artificial sweeteners cause metabolic disturbance!

A new study in Nature finds that artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose and aspartame can actually raise blood sugar levels instead of reducing them, inducing glucose intolerance. This completely opposes the regularly reinforced opinion that artificial sweeteners pose no risk to consumers. The study demonstrates that the consumption of commonly used artificial sweeteners drives glucose intolerance through creating alterations in the gut microbiota.  These changed microbial metabolic pathways in turn create susceptibility to metabolic disease e.g. obesity, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes etc. Whilst the study was carried out on mice, the researchers show similar artificial sweetener-induced dysbiosis and glucose intolerance in healthy subjects. Although the direct mechanism for creating the dysbiosis is still unknown, the paper calls for an urgent reassessment of the massive and widespread usage of artificial sweeteners.

Thyroid testing in the UK too crude for accurate diagnosis

In the UK, calls for thyroid diagnostic tests to be urgently reviewed are coming from multiple experts as current tests are labelled inadequate resulting in many patients being misdiagnosed.  UK NHS GPs rely too rigidly on testing only for the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is actually made in the pituitary gland rather than the thyroid, as a marker of thyroid imbalance/disease.  The British Thyroid Foundation states that thyroid disorders affect 1 in 20 people in the UK, and says that the testing is inconsistent across Britain.  However, numbers of sufferers are likely to be far higher if the correct and more sensitive diagnostic testing was carried out that actually involved testing the full suite of thyroid hormones.  Dr Mark Vanderpump, consultant endocrinologist at the Royal Free Hospital London describes the current TSH test as “crude” and agrees with journalist Audrey Snee’s description that many endocrinologists are too busy looking at the numbers on their screen rather than at the patient sitting in front of them. With ‘tired all the time’ (TAT) being cited as one of the main reasons for visiting the GP, new, improved and more sensitive thyroid testing is well overdue.

Unnecessary regulation on complementary medicines in Australia costing $70m a year

Leading industry association, Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA), has called on Canberra to dump unnecessary regulation and therefore reduce costs to industry and taxpayers. Richard Henfrey, president of CMA, said they “found clear examples where the regulatory burden has outstripped the benefits, particularly in terms of reduced consumer risk”.  The three areas identified by CMA for deregulation account for a total saving of Aus $70m each year. The document submitted by CMA also suggested a simplification of marketing and manufacturing as this too could bring about substantial savings.

Australian cancer vaccine trials set for 2015

Two cancer vaccine trials in Australia are about to begin, subject to funding.  The treatments are being developed by Ascend Biopharmaceuticals, who specialise in immunotherapy products, which have been developed to target cancer cells.  A recent media release by the company explains that ASN-002 "is a product based on an adenovirus (a type of cold-virus) that has been engineered to produce a powerful anticancer protein", which has been developed to treat the skin cancer basal cell carcinoma.  ASN-004, on the other hand, "is a vaccine being developed for the treatment of breast cancer".  It "delivers cancer antigens to dendritic cells which activates a powerful immune response to selectively destroy cancer cells which express the MUC1 protein". The MUC1 protein is also over-expressed in many other cancer types.  It is also present to a much lesser extent, on normal epithelial cell surfaces.

Contaminated vaccines being recalled worldwide

Following two European reports of “particulate” matter in the single dose syringes of Meningetec (meningococcal serogroup C conjugate) vaccine, Emerge Health is recalling all unexpired batches.  An Australian press release said Emerge Health has advised that “a review of batches manufactured since October 2012 found a small number of syringes had been contaminated with iron oxide (rust) and oxidised stainless steel, both of which originated from manufacturing equipment”. The release added “estimates provided to the TGA [Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration] by the sponsor indicate that the amount of iron oxide found in a contaminated syringe could be up to a maximum of 105 mg, with an estimated elemental iron amount of about 70%" and "if administered to a baby less than 7kg in weight there is a potential risk of iron toxicity".

Jerome Burne makes the case (again) for saturated fat

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, saturated fat is still being demonised by western governments, health authorities and the processed food industry, whilst processed vegetable oils are still being touted as the route to health.  Those keen to see this wrong righted, will be delighted to know that the persuasive Jerome Burne has been on the case recently in the UK Daily Mail. Burne sets out more evidence, which clearly shows, yet again, that saturated fat has been unfairly maligned.  Among the studies mentioned, Burne referred to the new Swedish and Canadian research, both of which show that those eating more high fat dairy were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.


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