Cheap colour test picks up HIV.

A cheap test which could detect even low levels of viruses and some cancers has been developed by UK researchers.

The colour of a liquid changes to give either a positive or negative result.

The designers from Imperial College London say the device could lead to more widespread testing for HIV and other diseases in parts of the world where other methods are unaffordable.

The prototype, which needs wider testing, is described in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The test can be configured to a unique signature of a disease or virus – such as a protein found on the surface of HIV.

If that marker is present it changes the course of a chemical reaction. The final result is blue if the marker is there, red if the marker is not.

The researchers say this allows the results to be detected with “the naked eye”.

Prof Molly Stevens told the BBC: “This method should be used when the presence of a target molecule at ultra-low concentration could improve the diagnosis of disease.

“For example, it is important to detect some molecules at ultra-low concentrations to test cancer recurrence after tumour removal.

“It can also help with diagnosing HIV-infected patients whose viral load is too low to be detected with current methods.”

Early testing showed the presence of markers of HIV and prostate cancer could be detected. However, trials on a much larger scale will be needed before it could be used clinically.

The researchers expect their design will cost 10 times less than current tests. They say this will be important in countries where the only options are unaffordable.

Fellow researcher Dr Roberto de la Rica said: “This test could be significantly cheaper to administer, which could pave the way for more widespread use of HIV testing in poorer parts of the world.”

Source: BBC

Women smokers who quit by 30 ‘evade earlier death risks.

The results, published in the Lancet, showed lifelong smokers died a decade earlier than those who never started.

But those who stopped by 30 lost, on average, a month of life and if they stopped by 40 they died a year younger.

Health experts said this was not a licence for the young to smoke.

The study followed the first generation of women to start smoking during the 1950s and 60s. As women started smoking on a large scale much later than men, the impact of a lifetime of cigarettes has only just been analysed for women.

“What we’ve shown is that if women smoke like men, they die like men,” said lead researcher Prof Sir Richard Peto, from Oxford University.

He told the BBC: “More than half of women who smoke and keep on smoking will get killed by tobacco.

“Stopping works, amazingly well actually. Smoking kills, stopping works and the earlier you stop the better.”

Professor Peto added the crucial risk factor was “time” spent smoking, rather than amount.

“If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day for 40 years it’s a lot more dangerous than smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 20 years,” he said.

“Even if you smoke a few cigarettes a day then you’re twice as likely to die at middle age.”

He added it was hard to measure the risk of “social smoking” a few times a week.

Early death

The records from 1.2 million women showed that even those who smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes a day were more likely to die sooner.

Sir Richard said that it was exactly the same picture as for men.

The British Lung Foundation said the prospects for long-term health were much better if people stopped smoking before they were 30, but cautioned that this was not a licence to smoke “as much as you want in your 20s”.

Its chief executive, Dr Penny Woods, said: “Stopping smoking can also be difficult to do – an estimated 70% of current smokers say they want to quit, so you shouldn’t start and just assume you’ll be able to quit smoking whenever you want to.

“The best thing for your health is to avoid smoking at all.”

Prof Robert West, from the health behaviour research unit at University College London, said it was important to remember that smoking had more effects on the body than leading to an early death, such as ageing the skin.

“Around your mid-20s your lung function peaks and then declines. For most people that’s fine – by the time you’re into your 60s and 70s it’s still good enough. But if you’ve smoked, and then stopped there is irreversible damage, which combined with age-related decline can significantly affect their quality of life.

“Obviously there is an issue around smoking if they want to get pregnant because it affects fertility and then there are the dangers of smoking during and after pregnancy.”

The chartered health psychologist, Dr Lisa McNally, who specialises in NHS stop smoking services, also emphasised other factors.

Speaking to BBC News, she said: “There’s the danger isn’t there that people could almost take permission to continue to smoke to 30 or even to 40, but actually in my experience younger women quit smoking for other reasons other than life expectancy.

“They’re more concerned about the cosmetic effects.”

The Department of Health has announced that more than 268,000 people registered to take part in its “Stoptober” campaign – the UK’s first ever mass event to stop smoking.

Health minister Anna Soubry said the £5.7m campaign had “exceeded expectations”, adding that smokers were “five times more likely to give up for good after 28 days”.

Source: BBC

Linaclotide Is Effective for Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation.

Linaclotide was superior to placebo in improving abdominal pain and relieving constipation in this predominantly female patient population.

In recent phase IIb studies, linaclotide was effective in the treatment of constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C; Gastroenterology 2007; 133:761 and Gastroenterology 2010; 139:1877). Now, results of two phase III trials are reported.

Both industry-supported studies were placebo-controlled, double-blind trials in which investigators randomized patients with IBS-C to receive 290 µg of oral linaclotide or placebo once daily. The primary endpoint in each study was an improvement of 30% from baseline in the average daily worst abdominal pain score and an increase from baseline of 1 complete spontaneous bowel movement, both in the same week, for 6 of 12 weeks of treatment.

In the first trial, 804 patients (mean age, 44; 90% women) were treated for 26 weeks. The primary endpoint was achieved in 33.7% of the linaclotide group versus 13.9% of the placebo group (P<0.0001), and the number needed to treat (NNT) was 5.1. The abdominal pain improvement criterion was met by 48.9% of the linaclotide group versus 34.5% of the placebo group (NNT, 7.0), and the complete spontaneous bowel movement criterion was met by 47.6% of the linaclotide group versus 22.6% of the placebo group (NNT, 4.0). Linaclotide was more efficacious than placebo in achieving all other endpoints involving relief of abdominal pain, bloating, and bowel symptoms, including the Bristol stool form scale and straining. Diarrhea resulted in discontinuation in 4.5% of linaclotide patients versus 0.2% of placebo patients.

In the second trial, 800 patients (mean age, 44; 91% women) were treated for 12 weeks, followed by a 4-week randomized withdrawal period. The primary endpoint was achieved in 33.6% of the linaclotide group versus 21.0% of the placebo group (P<0.0001). Diarrhea resulted in discontinuation in 5.7% of linaclotide patients versus 0.3% of placebo patients. During the 4-week withdrawal period, in patients re-randomized from linaclotide to placebo, abdominal pain increased and spontaneous bowel movements decreased to levels similar to those in the placebo group during treatment. Patients who remained on linaclotide showed sustained improvement. Patients who initially received placebo were given linaclotide and showed improvement similar to that of patients initially treated with linaclotide.

Comment: These studies establish that linaclotide is effective not only for chronic constipation, but also for constipation-predominant IBS. Although symptoms might occur after discontinuation of the medication, they do not appear to rebound to levels worse than those at baseline.

Source: Journal Watch Gastroenterology

Another Health Fraud — “Fat-Blocking” Soda.

“Pepsi Special” is the latest “healthy soda” to hit the market, this time in Japan. Infused with dextrin, a type of fiber that’s popular in fiber supplements in the U.S., Pepsi Special is being marketed as a “fat-blocking soda,” as it claims to help reduce your body’s absorption of fat.

How Can Soda Claim to Help You Absorb Less Fat?

Pepsi’s Japanese partner, Suntory Holdings Limited, is reportedly basing their claim, in part, on a 2006 study that found rats fed dextrin absorbed less fat from their food,1 and Japan’s National Institute of Health and Nutrition now allows it to bear the designation as a “food for specified health use.”

These are foods that are meant to be consumed “by people who wish to control health conditions, including blood pressure or blood cholesterol.”2 But can soda really be healthy?

Not likely.

Pepsi Special is far from a health food. Adding fiber to a disastrous combination of high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid, caffeine and coloring does not make it good for you. But it may “fool” some people into thinking it does, which could make them drink even more of it, further damaging their health.

Soda is a leading contributor to the rising rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases facing much of the developed world, and any claims to the contrary are dangerously misleading. As Dr. Walter Willett, chair of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Time:3

“Unless Pepsi can provide data from controlled studies in humans to the contrary, their claim should be regarded as bogus and deceptive.”

Pepsi’s Eager to Cash In on Health-Conscious Consumers

Remember Pepsi Raw, which was introduced in the UK in 2008? This was another one of the soda company’s ridiculous creations – a concoction of sugar, caramel coloring, coffee leaf and sparkling water that was supposed to be another “healthy” version of soda.

While it had 10 percent less sugar than regular Pepsi, Pepsi Raw was simply another sugar-sweetened beverage, not a health drink. It was removed from the market just two years after its release.

Earlier this year, Pepsi Next was released. Pepsi Next claims to have 60 percent less sugar without sacrificing taste, but the secret to keeping its sweet taste comes from the use of not only high fructose corn syrup, but also THREE artificial sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose, all of which are linked to several dozen serious health risks.4

It’s all part of the company’s plan to beef up their share of profits from the “healthy foods” category, with reports noting they hope to boost their nutrition business from $10 billion to $30 billion by 2020.5

This is a classic corporate move. Find something that people are interested in and sell it to them even if it is deceptive and worsens their health. Most of these companies have absolutely ZERO interest for your health; they are only focused on their bottom line profits. So the age old adage is appropriate, Buyer Beware.

Is “Healthy” Soda Too Good to be True?

In a word, yes.

There’s nothing healthy about soda, even if it contains fiber or is sugar free. Drinking soda is in many ways worse for you than smoking, and it is only because of massive marketing campaigns from the industry that these sugary beverages are deemed so acceptable, including for our most vulnerable members of society – our kids.

If I asked you to quickly recall a commercial or slogan from leading soda companies, like Coca-Cola or Pepsi, chances are you’d have no trouble recalling the friendly polar bear commercials or “the real thing” logo, and if you asked your kids, they’d probably come up with a few too.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for how beverage bigwigs have gotten their products firmly embedded into the homes and psyches of millions of Americans and others worldwide. Coca-Cola, for instance, spends close to $3 billion a year on advertising. With that amount of money it’s no wonder the company has managed to hold on to its wholesome reputation.

They, and other beverage giants, are also in the habit of forming strategic alliances with ostensibly health-focused organizations that make it appear as though they are looking out for your health, which is about as laughable as Big Tobacco sponsoring a marathon. For instance, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are sponsors or partners of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and have featured exhibits at their annual conference.

Diet Coke has also teamed up with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to raise awareness for women’s heart health program, even though Coca-Cola is one of the main retailers of sugar in the United States and it is very clear that sugar and fructose are actually leading causes in the increasing rates of heart disease.

Fructose: Soda’s Dirty Secret

The primary reason why soda is so dangerous to your health?


The fructose content of the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used in many popular soda brands has been grossly underestimated. Around 100 years ago the average American consumed a mere 15 grams of fructose a day, primarily in the form of fruit, not industrially produced isolate, which is infinitely different on a physiological level. One hundred years later, one-fourth of Americans are consuming more than 135 grams per day, largely in the form of soda.

Fructose at 15 grams a day or less is generally harmless (unless you suffer from high uric acid levels). However, at nearly 10 times that amount it becomes a major contributor to obesity and nearly all chronic degenerative diseases. Instead of consisting of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, many soda brands, including Coke, Pepsi and Sprite, contain as much as 65 percent fructose, nearly 20 percent higher than originally believed.6 Thanks to the excellent work of researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig, and Dr. Richard Johnson, we now know that fructose:

  • Is metabolized differently from glucose, with the majority being turned directly into fat
  • Tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body’s appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”), doesn’t drive glucose into the cell to create satiety, and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
  • Rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity (“beer belly”), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure — i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
  • Over time leads to insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.
  • Leads to a dopamine-mediated hedonistic syndrome, which causes an insatiable desire to consume more of the same, despite the broad range of adverse, even life-threatening health effects caused by excessive fructose consumption.

Diet soda, by the way, is NOT a healthy alternative, even though it’s fructose-free. People who drink diet soft drinks daily may be 43 percent more likely to suffer from a vascular event, including a stroke or heart attack,7 as well as are more likely to experience weight gain, increased waist size, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Warning: 5-Hour Energy Shots Linked to Deaths

If you’re thinking of ditching your soda in favor of another caffeine kick like 5-hour Energy, be warned that 13 potentially related deaths and more than 90 adverse reaction claims (including 33 hospitalizations) following its consumption have already been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although the product’s label does not disclose how much caffeine it contains per serving, it’s been estimated at over 200 milligrams (compared to about 100-150 for a typical 8-ounce cup of coffee). Consuming large quantities of caffeine in energy drinks can have serious health consequences, especially in children and teens, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases even death.

Are You Hooked on Soda and Energy Drinks to Give You a Boost?

There are a number of reasons why people drink soda, but many do so because they’re addicted to the ephemeral energy boost they get from the caffeine and sugar. There are, however, natural ways to give your body lasting energy without any of the downsides of consuming fructose, excessive caffeine or artificial sweeteners.

These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet with limited sugar, fructose and processed foods. See my nutrition plan for a naturally energy-enhancing diet.
  • Increasing your intake of animal-sourced omega-3 fatty acids, e.g. krill, wild salmon, free-range eggs, to support your energy levels
  • Release draining emotional stress and negativity with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT); this (and Turbo Tapping) can also help you to beat soda cravings
  • Sleep when you’re tired, and make sure you’re getting high-quality sleep while you’re at it
  • Exercise, and be sure to include high-intensity interval exercises like Peak Fitness for near endless energy
  • If you need a supplement, do the above steps first and then try ones that are designed to increase your level of foundational energy at the mitochondrial level. Some of the best are vitamin B12, Ubiquinol and magnesium.

Source: Dr. Mercola



Certain Emergency Department Patients Newly Diagnosed with PE Can Be Discharged Home.

A systematic review shows that none of 741 patients died within 90 days of discharge.

It is now common for emergency department (ED) patients with a new diagnosis of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) to be managed as outpatients, yet despite recommendation by many professional societies, outpatient treatment of ED patients with a new diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) remains uncommon.

In this systematic literature review, the investigators reviewed prospective studies that: only included symptomatic patients with a new diagnosis of PE confirmed with radiologic study, utilized a risk assessment tool for PE, reported 90-day outcomes, and offered specific outpatient therapy with follow-up. Of 2286 studies initially screened, 7 met these criteria. Of 741 patients, 13 suffered recurrent PE, and 3 had major bleeding events; there were no related deaths. All patients who had recurrent PE were undergoing active cancer treatment.

Comment: After careful assessment of risk, discharge home from the ED may be appropriate for patients with a new diagnosis of PE, low risk for recurrence, and no evidence of cardiopulmonary distress. Prior to discharge, patients should receive anticoagulation teaching and arrangements for follow-up.

Source: Journal Watch Emergency Medicine