Gut microbes may improve response to immunotherapy treatment

In a new study from the University of Texas , presented at the National Cancer Research Institute's Cancer Conference in Liverpool, researchers found that patients with malignant melanoma (skin cancer) that had spread, are more likely to respond well to immunotherapy treatment, which uses the body's immune system to target cancer cells, if they have a good diversity of gut bacteria. Dr Pippa Corrie, Chair of the NCRI's Skin Cancer Clinical Studies Group, said: "There is growing evidence that gut bacteria play a vital role in warding off disease, absorbing nutrients from the food we eat, and maintaining normal function of our immune systems". This approach now needs to be tested in clinical trials to see who it will benefit and find out the best way to adapt patient's gut bacteria to promote healing.

GM by the back door?

GM Watch reports that the EU Commission and a few pro-GMO member states may be trying to quietly push new GM crop approvals to avoid notice by concerned parties. Two new GM insecticidal maize varieties have been put forward for authorisation to be grown in the EU. If passed these will be the first new GM crops legally authorised for cultivation in 18 years. A vote that was expected to take place on the 16th November has been postponed as "discussions are still ongoing". Jean-Michel Wal who is a member of the the EFSA GMO panel has criticised the panel over its failure to properly assess the risks of GMO crops. ANH has reported on this issue regularly over the past few years. The most potent weapon to date has been people power and we need to continue to resist the introduction of these crops, particularly while their safety is unknown.

World Health Organization issues new recommendations on ante-natal care

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a series of new recommendations aimed at improving ante-natal care to reduce the incidence of stillbirths and complications in pregnancy. Last year, an estimated 303,000 women across the world died from pregnancy related causes, 2.7m babies died in the first 28 days of life and 2.6m babies were stillborn. Good health care during pregnancy can prevent many of these deaths, but globally only 64% of women receive ante-natal care four or more times during their pregnancy. The new WHO guidelines recommend pregnant women should receive at least 8 ante-natal appointments to help detect potential problems. This can reduce perinatal deaths by up to 8 per 1000 births compared to only four appointments. The new guidelines contain 49 recommendations in total in relation to the care pregnant women should receive at each appointment including being given information on nutrition, exercise, substance use and testing.

UK Dieticians and Registered Nutritionists petition to make Nutritionist a protected job title

A group of trainee dieticians calling themselves Fight the Fads have created a petition calling for the title of 'Nutritionist' to be made a legally protected title, following a Daily Mail article entitled, ‘How to become a clean eating guru in a month. What this petition doesn't do though is differentiate between those practitioners who follow a (minimum) 3 year accredited science based course and those who choose a 1 month 'dip' into the nutrition world. As always these reports sensationalise something that at best, is designed to give individuals an introduction to healthy eating. The nutrition course featured in the Daily Mail article is the College of Naturopathic Medicine’s Certificate in Nutrition for Everyday Living. The course details state quite clearly that, "With our Nutrition for Everyday Living course, you’ll gain the knowledge and confidence to make educated choices about the food you eat". It isn’t about a professional qualification. Perhaps the discussion here should be around proper recognition of appropriately qualified nutrition professionals rather than protectionist measures around titles. With the current spiralling chronic health crisis, we need more, rather than fewer, qualified nutritional professionals to support appropriate diet and lifestyle strategies for disease prevention. For more clear, scientifically-based information on healthy eating take a look at ANH Intl's Food4Health guidelines.

Childhood cancer sufferers living longer, but with poor health

A new US study has reported that since the 1970's more children are now surviving cancer diagnosis. However, since 1990 more survivors are living with severe, disabling or life threatening chronic health conditions than those treated in the period 1970-1979. Researchers concluded that because of the substantial increase in survival rates over the past 30 years, the population of survivors now includes patients who may have died in previous years. However, despite the evolution of treatments, the self-reported health status of survivors has not improved.

Americans say obesity is an even bigger threat to health than heart disease

In a new survey by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the National Opinion Research Centre (NORC) in Chicago, Americans say they view obesity as as big a health threat to health as cancer and more serious than heart disease. However, most do not seek help to combat the problem. Understanding of the severity of obesity and its associated health risks has increased in recent years, but the stereotyping of people with weight issues continues to create a block to people seeking help to manage the condition.

MHRA fails to comply with its own guidelines on cannabis regulation

Delegates from the UK Cannabis Trade Association (UKCTA) met with Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) officials to discuss its opinion that products used for medical purposes are medicines. The MHRA used the example of vitamin C to explain whether products should be regarded as medicines or food supplements. They explained that if vitamin C was being used to treat scurvy, it was clearly a medicine, whereas if it was used to supplement a normal diet it could be regarded as a food supplement. Maybe they could use the same criteria with water and dehydration! It is the view of the trade association that cannabidiol (CBD) products should be regulated at different levels dependent on the purpose for which they are used and the concentration at which CBD is present. The trade association’s legal counsel advised that the MHRA had failed to comply with its own guidelines and requirements in issuing its opinion to CBD suppliers and that any requirement to comply with regulations would have to be addressed on an individual, product by product basis.