Vitamin D, covid, IBD and blood pressure

Vitamin D has been hitting the headlines as a potential preventative treatment for covid prompting the UK government to order a rapid review of its use. Both the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have reported back concluding there is insufficient evidence to determine if supplementation with vitamin D could reduce the risk of respiratory infections including covid-19. Both reviews appear to ignore the increasing evidence being published on preprint servers reporting on links between disease severity and low vitamin D in covid patients. In direct contradiction to the rapid reviews a report from The Royal Society found an association between disease severity and mortality in covid patients who are deficient in vitamin D, recommending all UK adults should take vitamin D supplements throughout the year. A rapid response in the BMJ points to vitamin D deficiency as an underlying factor in the number of deaths in care homes and the high impact of covid-19 infections on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. Leading experts in the field of vitamin D have slammed the reviews calling them ‘narrow-minded and ‘abysmal’.

Emphasising the essentiality of vitamin D for human health new research published in Cancer shows how use of vitamin D supplementation can combat the development of inflammatory bowel disease in cancer patients being treated with immunotherapy. Researchers publishing in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found higher doses of vitamin D (2000 IU) reduced mean systolic BP more significantly than a dose of 800 IU. Given the failure of governments and health authorities to recommend meaningful levels of vitamin D supplementation, despite the raft of scientific research supporting its use, it’s up to each one of us to take responsibility for correcting deficiencies and reducing our own risk. Get smart about vitamin D supplementation to protect yourself and your loved ones!

Deaths attributed to covid are dropping below the 5-year average

Total deaths registered in England and Wales dropped below the five-year seasonal average according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In the week ending 19 June 2020, there were 65 fewer deaths than the five-year average. It has also recorded the lowest number of deaths where covid was referenced on the death certificate. Many of the 24 Euromomo partner countries are also showing the same pattern of drop off in deaths into negative excess mortality from all causes. What’s quickly becoming clear is that our previous predictions related to excess mortality are now being realised as we move through the spike of excess mortality related to covid that’s likely to have accelerated the deaths of the more elderly and vulnerable in society, who were close to passing anyway.

CRISPR gene editing causes unintended changes to human embryos

New studies have raised concerns about unintentional ‘off-target’ changes when using CRISPR gene editing techniques to modify human embryos. Previous research has called attention to such changes to DNA in cattle. As with the cattle, the off-target changes made are hard to detect and are often missed by standard assessment methods. These new studies underscore just how little is known about the effects and safety of CRISPR techniques, not just in cattle, but humans also. This is a timely reminder why the EU regulates such technologies so heavily and should act as a warning to legislators and their backers, who are trying to shoehorn in amendments to the new UK Agriculture Bill to allow unrestricted and potentially reckless use of such technologies into the UK and our food chain against the will of many UK citizens.

Bayer fights back

Bayer has agreed to settle thousands of outstanding lawsuits brought against Monsanto in the US, over claims Roundup causes cancer, rather than face the court system. The company has agreed terms with over 75% of the filed claims totalling an eye-watering $10.1-$10.9 billion, which includes a reserve fund to settle future claims. The company has also settled Dicamba related lawsuits and litigation over PCB contamination of water. Future lawsuits could be kyboshed by proposals to create a class action settlement, which would also see the creation of a ‘hand-picked’ panel of scientists to decide if there is a link between Roundup use and cancer. In a huge blow to consumer choice, Bayer has obtained a permanent injunction against the State of California preventing it from requiring Roundup to carry a cancer warning. The judge in the case said the warning was misleading and not scientifically supported. Once again, the financial clout of Bayer has won out knocking very real and scientifically supported concerns over human health into the sidelines.

UK organisations fight back against cheap low standard food imports

Pressure on the UK government to maintain high welfare standards for imported foods is growing as organisations push back against clauses in the Agriculture Bill opening the door to cheap, poor quality imports. Upping the ante, UK supermarket, Waitrose’s new executive director, James Bailey has published an open letter adding his voice to the chorus of calls urging the UK government to maintain UK standards for imported food. In it he says, “It would be simply wrong to maintain high standards at home yet import food from overseas that has been produced to lower standards” adding his certainty that customers will share the same view. In response to the huge public outcry and pressure from the agricultural sector, industry and consumers, the UK government has announced it will set up a Trade and Agriculture commission to help safeguard the interests of British farmers in future trade negotiations. In further developments yet another amendment to the UK Agriculture Bill has been tabled to be heard in the Lords on 7 July 2020, which seeks to exempt a range of genome editing techniques from regulation in England. Beyond GM, GM Freeze and GM Watch have come together to launch a campaign to oppose such changes on the grounds it would it would pose significant risks to human health and the environment.