British GPs to be paid for dementia diagnosis

It’s well known that there’s a dementia time bomb that is about to blow up in most Western countries.  Well, today NHS England has announced a £5 million deal which will reward British GPs to the tune of £55 for each diagnosis of dementia.  Aren’t good GPs diagnosing dementia already?  Is the initiative just another assured route to market for dementia drugs?  Whatever the answer, the Patients Association has slammed the decision.  While NHS England’s efforts to raise awareness of dementia are to be applauded, the lack of effective approved treatments and challenges over focusing on dietary, nutritional and environmental prevention strategies in earlier life (or even recognising their importance) make it seem unlikely that much in the way of benefit will come for the initiative.  Given the fact that research now shows us that 50% of Alzheimers can be beaten with high dose B vitamins, one of the least expensive strategies should be simple supplemention.  But with further education about the causes and early onset of the disease a very close second.  

Disciplinary enquiry forces EC chief to resign

Paola Testori Coggi, Director General of the European Commission’s Health and Consumers unit (DG SANCO), has had to resign following an investigation into a breach of tender policy. Bureaucratic wheels move extremely slowly as the incident happened in 2012 when she alerted an NGO to the timing of a tender for a food-related study. She later cancelled the tender and the study realising she had acted against the Commission’s fair practice policy. Yet her resignation came only after the fraud investigation on the 15th October 2014. Whilst her actions were looked into by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), it was concluded that as no money had changed hands, no criminal offence had occurred. The Commission’s spokesperson for inter-institutional relations and administration, Antony Gravili, stated that this was the culmination of a “sober fact-based investigation” and marked the end of an otherwise “impeccable 32-year career in the Commission, with no suggestion of any other such incidents.”

Calls to slash sugar

UK public health expert, Annie S. Anderson, has published an article in the journal Public Health Nutrition calling for the food industry to stop tinkering with foods and make a concerted effort to slash sugar content. Anderson, from the University of Dundee’s Center for Public Health Research, says there is no dietary need for free (added) sugars and argues that simply advising people against them is not enough. She believes that, “Reducing consumption of sugar, preserves and confectionary, biscuits, buns and cakes should be the main strategy to reduce sugar intake overall, rather than maintaining high consumption of lower-sugar-content versions of these same foods.” She also notes, “Importantly, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages does not easily fit within a healthy diet and intakes should be minimal.”

Honeybees harmed by herbicide

A new study in the Journal of Experimental Biology looked at the broad-spectrum herbicide, Glyphosate, and it’s impact on Apis mellifera (honeybees) and found that it can disrupt learning behaviors and severely impair long-term colony performance. The scientists found that learning behavior and short-term memory retention decreased significantly compared with the control groups. Writing in, Judson Parker explains how once the honeybees have had contact with the herbicide they then take the chemical back to the hive, where larvae come into contact with it. This will likely result in lower overall foraging rates, which could have long-term negative consequences on colony performance – and even lead to the disappearance of the colony altogether. Beekeeper Zac Browning told, "Without some real action we'll see this industry dwindle away."

Curcumin for psychological and cognitive benefits in an older population

An Australian study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology has highlighted the positive effects of curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population. The researchers used 60 healthy adults aged 60–85 and for four weeks gave them either a daily dose of 80 milligrams of curcumin (400 mg of a solid lipid curcumin formulation) or a placebo. They found it was associated with reductions in fatigue following a mental challenge, improved measures of sustained attention, working memory, and improved resilience to the detrimental effects of psychological stress on mood. The participants of the study receiving the curcumin also displayed improved measures of calmness and contentedness. Blake Ebersole, Technical Director of Verdue Sciences, who funded the study, commented, “These new findings could help to establish new opportunities and markets in the brain health category that can benefit from the improvements in short term memory, attention, fatigue and alertness shown in this study.”

EFSA finds no evidence of benefit from chromium

The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) has set population reference intakes (PRIs) for zinc and Adequate Intakes (AIs) for selenium, but claims that setting similar levels for chromium is not warranted. In its latest work on dietary reference values (DRVs), EFSA has delivered its scientific opinions on zinc, selenium and chromium and has found “no evidence of beneficial effects associated with chromium intake in healthy subjects.” Chromium is necessary for insulin to regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins but EFSA found that “the mechansim for these roles and the essential function of chromium in metabolism have not been substantiated.” However if a consistent dose-response relationship can be established, the NDA has said that DRV’s could be derived.

Natural Defense Council sues EPA

The US Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has sued the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after it approved a weed control product containing glyphosate and 2,4-D. A known component in Agent Orange, 2,4-D has been linked to life-long health conditions and severe birth defects, as well as deaths, and glyphosate to colony collapse disorder and the decline of the monarch butterfly. The NRDC contends that the herbicide, Enlist Duo, will further deplete the monarch butterfly population as well as being a risk to human health. The approval of the Dow AgroScience product has been issued with restrictions such as Dow having to track and report weed resistance, comply to a 30 foot in field no spray zone for application areas, and not use the product when wind speeds are above 15 miles per hour. But with the government branch stating that the process could be a template for future approvals of herbicides for genetically modified crops (GMO), opposing environmentalists, organic consumers, and farmers are concerned the EPA has not considered the full impact prior to the approval of Enlist. 


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