Confronting the end of ‘offline’.

Thanks to always-on mobile devices and the ubiquity of Internet connectivity, our lives are increasingly plugged into the network.

Few can say that this isn’t changing everything, from the way we pay for goods to the way we get places to the way that we elect public officials. (Nate Silver, I’m looking at you.)

There are seven billion people in the world. When we are all fully connected, will it unite us, or divide us? And how will we relate in that environment?

That was the topic at hand for the opening panel discussion at the Techonomy conference here in Tucson, where industry leaders assembled to assess the merits (and shortcomings) of the connected life.

Microsoft chief economist Susan Athey, Ericsson’s Douglas Gilstrap, the U.S. Department of State’s Bob Hormats and Greylock PartnersDavid Sze  – with Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick moderating — disagreed on whether the outlook was more positive than negative, and had a few data points to back up their views.

A few highlights:

Mobile broadband subscribers will grow 10X in the next six years, Gilstrap said, driven by a need to access information, healthcare and education — particularly in developing nations. (Seventy percent of that increase will be driven by the Asia Pacific region.)

Connectivity “will bring the world together, not push it apart,” Hormats said. We’re seeing that already: 25 percent of science and technology papers in the U.S. are written by authors from other countries. Roughly a quarter of U.S. patents are by foreign nationals.

And let’s not forget about the ways developing nations are using connected techology to catch up to a century of progress in developed nations — mobile banking in Kenya, or sensor systems for agricultural efficiency in India. ”It’s bringing developing countries more and more into the game,” Hormats said.

Ditto politics. “It’s changed the way foreign policy is conducted,” because the communication channels between nations are no longer intermediated by state departments. “Now every agency in government has its own state department,” Hormats said.

Connected technology empowers people politically, too. ”Even if they can’t vote, they now have the opportunity to use cellphones and other things to put pressure on their leaders,” Hormats said. “It’s just not tweeting.”

Finally, global healthcare efforts stand to benefit, such as initiatives to curb pandemics. With connected techology, we can see an outbreak occur in real time and quash it before it becomes a pandemic.

Some were bearish on the prospects, however. Athey said she was particularly concerned about the concentrated power of the companies who own and operate these channels. Sure, everyone seems to have a smartphone now, but Google — that little company in Mountain View, Calif. — controls 97 percent of mobile searches today. That’s all because of device defaults. ”We can think of mobile devices and online as democratizing everything, but there are a few key bottlenecks that remain,” she said.

It’s a platform play we should be concerned about. “Lots of companies know about you,” Athey said. “But knowing what you want to buy now — that contextual information is so much more powerful.” It’s why search ads sell better than display ads. The problem? “If only one company has that data, we can’t actually expect the benefits of that data to benefit the ecosystem.”

And worse, the more control consolidates, the less need there is to listen to customers. It then becomes a revenue game. Competition is necessary to keep customers first in priority.

Sze, a venture capitalist, was far more optimistic. We’re only in the “third inning, sort of fourth inning” of the unification through mobile technology. “There’s going to be more value created in the next five years than in the previous 15 of the Internet,” he said. ”It isn’t a linear progression. You get these breakpoints” that cause a “recombination of the pieces below” — the prior technologies that accumulated over time to get us where we are today.

“The phone that we have in our pocket are so much more powerful than the computers I [first used] when I worked,” he said as a proof point. Today, technology is increasingly seamless. You buy something at Starbucks with your phone. You obtain a boarding pass at an airport without talking to anyone. “You just couldn’t even imagine that fifteen years ago,” he said.

And it’s accelerating across the globe. Nations are joining the global information system “at an increasing rate,” Hormats said. “China now has more netizens than [the U.S. has] people.”

And even though China controls its citizens’ connectivity, freedom wins. ”What happened with the Arab Spring was telling,” Gilstrap said.

But the future isn’t predetermined, Sze said. “Technology doesn’t have a mind. It tries to spread, scale, and reduce friction. The interesting thing we’re confronting isn’t, ‘Is technology bad?’ it’s, ‘Can human beings interact at scale with less friction?’”

It goes back to the values society has had long before connected technology ever materialized.

“Humans are most happy when there’s less diversity and safety,” because it prioritizes social stability, Sze said. “Philosophically, that would mean everyone should stay separate.

“But the conflict, interaction, learning, stress that comes from that engagement at scale actually causes really great things to happen over time. Technology is pushing that to happen, rapidly. In the end, I do think that’s better. I do.”

Source: Smart planet

The end of the password era.

We snicker when we read that the most common, hackable passwords are “password” or “123456.” Who would possibly think that using “password” as your password is a good idea? You feel good and secure knowing that your 7-20 character passwords have plenty of numbers, symbols, and uppercase letters. Plus, you always get a “very strong” password strength rating when you create a new one. You’re online identity is locked down, Fort Knox style.

And then you read about Mat Honan. He’s a senior writer at Wired who, despite having “robust” alphanumeric passwords of seven, 10, and 19 characters long for his Apple, Twitter, and Gmail accounts, had them all hacked and lost years of stored documents and photos because they were linked together. Ever since being hacked, Honan has been looking into online security and what he discovered about our password-centric web is terrifying, to say the least.

No matter how complex, no matter how unique, your passwords can no longer protect you.

Look around. Leaks and dumps—hackers breaking into computer systems and releasing lists of usernames and passwords on the open web—are now regular occurrences. The way we daisy-chain accounts, with our email address doubling as a universal username, creates a single point of failure that can be exploited with devastating results. Thanks to an explosion of personal information being stored in the cloud, tricking customer service agents into resetting passwords has never been easier. All a hacker has to do is use personal information that’s publicly available on one service to gain entry into another.

Of course, it’s easy to make online security more secure but nobody can remember an insanely long, random password and nobody wants to encounter difficulties recovering your password when you forget it. That’s one of the (many) problems with password-based online security: these systems need to be convenient enough so that people keep using them. You might not be addicted to Facebook, for example, if logging into the site were onerous and recovering your password were a chore. Honan goes into great detail in his piece about how the password-based system is failing us (you can read it here).

He points to biometric approaches to security (like fingerprint readers and iris scanners) but shows how those could easily be compromised. He praises Google for moving in the right direction with its two-factor authentication system where a password is sent to your phone if someone tries to log into your Google account from another computer. But, again, that can be compromised by hacking into your cell phone account. So how does he suggest we move forward?

The only way forward is real identity verification: to allow our movements and metrics to be tracked in all sorts of ways and to have those movements and metrics tied to our actual identity. We are not going to retreat from the cloud—to bring our photos and email back onto our hard drives. We live there now. So we need a system that makes use of what the cloud already knows: who we are and who we talk to, where we go and what we do there, what we own and what we look like, what we say and how we sound, and maybe even what we think.

That shift will involve significant investment and inconvenience, and it will likely make privacy advocates deeply wary. It sounds creepy. But the alternative is chaos and theft and yet more pleas from “friends” in London who have just been mugged. Times have changed. We’ve entrusted everything we have to a fundamentally broken system. The first step is to acknowledge that fact. The second is to fix it.

With so much of our lives protected by easily hackable passwords, I’d say yes, it’s time we figure out a better way, even if that means navigating the Internet of the future is a little more complicated.

Source: Smart planet

The Scary Trend Of Boomer Addiction .

The picture of a drug addict in your head is probably not one of a grey-haired grandmother or grandfather, a middle-aged professional or a soon-to-be retiree.

But the face of drug addiction in the United States is changing, and a significant number of older adults, particularly those in the baby boomer generation, are struggling with both illicit and prescription drug abuse …

Conventional Medicine Turning Seniors Into Drug Addicts

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reported that the number of people in their 50s who are abusing illicit drugs more than doubled from 2002 to 2010, going from 2.7 to 5.8 percent in this population. Among those 65 and older, 414,000 used illicit drugs in 2010.1

One reason for this, NIH suggested, is that baby boomers were more likely to use illicit drugs in their youth, which may make the drugs seem more acceptable now. This certainly appears to be the case … but it doesn’t help that in many cases their physicians are the ones doing the “dealing.”

You see, the illicit drugs mentioned by the NIH are not only the “street” drugs that the name implies. This category also includes prescription medications, abuse of which has become so severe among seniors that the NIH has devoted a new section of its Web site to address its effects.2

Among seniors, the risks of all medications are increased, because the body takes longer to break down and get rid of the drug than it does in a younger person. As a result, the drug stays in an older person’s system longer, where it can cause even greater damage.

The most commonly abused prescription medications among seniors, along with their risks, include: 3

Opioids (Painkillers)

Morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl all fall into this category. These drugs are not only addictive, they can lead to slowed breathing and death if too much is taken.


Used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, medications such as Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and Sonata are also addictive, and cause side effects like confusion, drowsiness and impaired coordination. This can be especially risky among seniors, as it increases the risk of accidents and falls. Further, if these drugs are combined with alcohol or pain medications, the results can be deadly.


These include drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall (the latter of which actually contains amphetamine, known and sold on the street as “speed” or “crank”), which are often used to teat ADHD, narcolepsy and even sometimes depression. Along with being highly addictive, stimulants sometimes lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia, along with risks like irregular heartbeat, heart failure and seizures.

When a stimulant is combined with another medication, such as an over-the-counter cold medicine that contains a decongestant, it can cause dangerously high blood pressure or irregular heart rhythms.

Medications to Treat Normal “Aging” Cost More Than Costs of Most Chronic Disease

In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), it was revealed that spending for medications to treat conditions associated with normal aging, such as mental alertness, sexual dysfunction, menopause, aging skin and hair loss, tallies up to more than the costs of treating most chronic diseases!4

Use of such drugs jumped 18.5 percent, while costs increased close to 46 percent, from 2006 to 2011. Among those on Medicare (ages 65 and up), usage increased 32 percent.

In 2011, the study found, costs for these drugs ranked third in annual prescription-drug costs among commercially insured individuals, which was surpassed only by costs of treating diabetes and high cholesterol! If only more people realized that they could improve their mental abilities, sexual dysfunction, symptoms of menopause and more using healthy foods instead of drugs, the outcome of the study would be much different, as would, likely, their health …

More Prescription Drugs Typically Mean More Health Risks

According to statistics from the Kaiser Health Foundation, seniors aged 65 and older fill, on average, 28 prescriptions per year.5 There’s no doubt that the United States has been manipulated into becoming a “polypharmacy nation.” The word ‘polypharmacy’ simply means “many drugs,” but refers to instances where an individual is taking too many drugs — either because more drugs are prescribed than are clinically indicated, or when the sheer number of pills simply becomes a burden for the patient.

Many Americans are being impacted by polypharmacy, with unforeseen effects on their health – and this is now, before a new era of government-sponsored healthcare is likely to be ushered in, making drugs even more accessible and promoted as the only legally sanctioned treatment option; or worse, mandatory, as is already the case for certain types of pediatric cancers “requiring” chemotherapy be used, or compulsory flu vaccines during a state or federally declared health emergency.

More medication is often viewed as a strategy to improve health, but those taking the most prescription drugs are at the greatest risks from adverse drug reactions, some of which can be worse than the disease they’re intended to treat, and which cause a downward spiral of additional prescriptions being given in order to “treat” the original drug-induced symptoms.

On average, if you take one prescription drug you’ll be exposed to 70 potential side effects. Some of the more commonly prescribed drugs average around 100 side effects each — and some drugs even carry over 500! If you multiply this by multiple drugs, and then factor in the unforeseen effects of taking multiple drugs at one time, the health risks are astronomical. Dr. Michael Stern, a specialist in geriatric emergency medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, told the New York Times:6

“Polypharmacy is responsible for up to 28 percent of hospital admissions and, if it were classified as such, it would be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.”

In a study released last year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), officials emphasized that people should assume there IS risk in prescribed medicines.7 And, for the first time, deaths from properly prescribed drugs even outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States …

Teens Getting High From Drugs in Mom and Dad’s Medicine Cabinet

In another study presented at the annual meeting of The American Public Health Association, 10 percent of 7th to 12th graders surveyed said they had abused over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrups containing Dextromethorphan (DXM) and decongestants, to get high.8

This is yet another concerning trend, as teens will even go so far as to mix a variety of prescription pills together in a bowl at a party and take a mouthful of them like candy! The kids think this is a safe way to get high, since they see their parents taking the same medications all the time, but it often turns out to be a literal prescription for disaster, the side effects of which include permanent disability and death.

What many fail to realize, whether a senior or a teen, is that prescription drugs can be just as addictive and deadly as illegal drugs. The painkiller Fentanyl, for instance, is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine.

Also, in many cases there’s no difference between a street drug and a prescription drug. For example, hydrocodone, a prescription opiate, is synthetic heroin. It’s indistinguishable from any other heroine as far as your brain and body is concerned. So, if you’re hooked on hydrocodone, you are in fact a good-old-fashioned heroin addict.

With teens, the problem is that prescription and over-the-counter drugs do not have the same stigma as illegal drugs, plus they’re easier to access because their parents take them … and even if you take the recreational aspect out of it, the average child aged 18 and under in the United States still takes more than four prescription drugs a year!9

You Can Feel Great Without Drugs

…In fact, many report feeling better than they have in years once they’re able to wean off of their medications (which is something you should do only under the guidance of your health care practitioner).  Staying well naturally, without the use of drugs or even frequent conventional medical care, is not only possible, it may be the most successful strategy you can employ to increase your longevity. If you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will never need medications in the first place.

This includes:

  1. Proper Food Choices: For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should focus your diet on whole, unprocessed foods (organic vegetables, grass-fed meats, raw dairy, nuts, and so forth) that come from healthy, sustainable, local sources, such as a small organic farm not far from your home.

For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw. Personally, I aim to eat about 75 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs and humanely raised pastured organic animal products that have not been raised on a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation).

Nearly as important as knowing which foods to eat more of is knowing which foods to avoid, and topping the list is fructose. When consumed in excess, sugar acts as a toxin and drives multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of accelerated aging.

  1. Comprehensive Exercise Program, including High-Intensity Exercise like Peak Fitness: Even if you’re eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including not only core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching but also high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor.

I’ve discussed the importance of Peak Fitness for your health on numerous occasions, so for more information, please review this previous article.

  1. Stress Reduction and a Positive Attitude: You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease — from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer.

Effective coping mechanisms are a major longevity-promoting factor in part because stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day. The Emotional Freedom Technique, meditation, prayer, social support and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium.

  1. Proper Sun Exposure to Optimize Vitamin D: We have long known that it is best to get your vitamin D from sun exposure, and if at all possible, I strongly urge you to make sure you’re getting out in the sun on a daily basis. There is preliminary evidence suggesting that oral vitamin D may not provide the identical benefits, although it’s still better than none at all.
  2. Take High Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats: Animal-based omega-3 fat is a strong factor in helping people live longer, and many experts believe that it is likely the predominant reason why the Japanese are the longest lived race on the planet.
  1. Avoid as Many Chemicals, Toxins, and Pollutants as Possible: This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
  2. Avoid Prescription Drugs. Do your homework. You can start on this site by using the search engine at the top of every page, which links to previous articles we have written over the past 15 years. Just type in the name of the drug or condition you are taking it for, and you will likely come up with dozens if not hundreds of pages of information that will help you develop a strategy to stop using the drugs by changing your lifestyle to take control of your health


Source: Dr. Mercola









Why Weight Loss Surgery is NOT a Sound Treatment Choice for Type 2 Diabetes .

The Cleveland Clinic recently published its Top 10 Medical Inventions for 2013 list1. Doctors and researchers at the Clinic voted for what they thought were the most significant inventions out of 250 submitted ideas.

Noted medical inventions include an implantable neuromodulation device for the treatment of severe cluster headaches, a handheld melanoma detection device, a novel prostate cancer drug, and breast tomosynthesis (a.k.a 3D mammography).

But shockingly, and really almost unbelievably, topping the list at number one is using bariatric surgery for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

According to the Cleveland Clinic:

“Surgery for obesity, often called bariatric surgery, shrinks the stomach into a small pouch and rearranges the digestive tract so that food enters the small intestine at a later point than usual. 

Over the years, many doctors performing weight-loss operations found that the surgical procedure would rid patients of Type 2 diabetes, oftentimes before the patient left the hospital.

To explore this diabetes treatment hypothesis, 150 patients with Type 2 diabetes and obesity were enrolled in a study in 2007. 50 patients had gastric bypass surgery. 

This is a procedure that reduces stomach volume from the size of an inflated football to a golf ball size; 50 had a sleeve gastrectomy surgery, which reduces the stomach from the size of a football to that of a banana; and 50 were offered counseling in nutrition and exercise while they continued taking their diabetes medication.

By closing off most of the stomach to food, people who received bariatric surgery ate less and, therefore, lost weight. Patients in the study lost about five times as much weight on average as those only taking bloodsugar-lowering medications.

The study results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012, astounded the medical world. 

Compared with patients taking diabetes medication and receiving lifestyle counseling, those who had bariatric surgery were far more likely to be free of diabetes or to have reduced their dependence on diabetes medications for at least two years. The weight-loss surgery also helped many to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol. Most of the patients went from a dozen or more medications daily to none or just a few.”

Dr. Michael Roizen, Cleveland Clinic Chief Wellness Officer, told Reuters2:

“Bariatric surgery has been around for a while. The reason it was chosen as the top innovation is because Medicare has broadened its indication for payment, and Medicaid in many states follows Medicare. 

A lot of the other (private) insurance companies started covering it, so it’s much more accessible. The criteria that insurers use to cover the surgery has been broadened because of its effectiveness in controlling Type 2 diabetes.”

While this will probably sound wonderful to some, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is absolutely the wrong treatment and not at all an appropriate solution for the vast majority of people, and that’s what this list is all about — one of the primary criteria for making it onto the list was the number of people the product or procedure can potentially help.

Bariatric surgery as a treatment for type 2 diabetes is a prescription for the most invasive and costly (not to mention risky) intervention possible for a problem that is firmly rooted in a faulty diet and lack of exercise… What makes this recommendations particularly troublesome is that virtually 100 percent of type 2 diabetes cases can be successfully treated and reversed through appropriate lifestyle changes!

It’s also blatantly clear (they even state it outright) that it topped the list because Medicare (i.e. your tax dollars) will now pay for it, NOT because it’s been proven safe and effective.

On the contrary, they appear to base their opinion on the results from a singular study. This is probably ill advised.

Dr. John Ioannidis of the Stanford School of Medicine in California warns against placing too much faith in singular medical studies showing large effects of medical treatment (benefits or harms). His massive analysis, recently published in JAMA,3 tracked the fate of thousands of studies, from the effects demonstrated in the initial study, compared to the effects elucidated in subsequent trials.

Interestingly, in 90 percent of cases where “very large” effects were initially reported, such effects shrank or vanished altogether as subsequent studies were done to confirm the results. Dr. Ioannidis told Reuters4:

“Our analysis suggests it is better to wait to see if these very large effects get replicated or not… Keep some healthy skepticism about claims for silver bullets, perfect cures, and huge effects.”

In the case of weight loss surgery, there are already a number of studies showing both bariatric surgery and gastric banding are very risky procedures that produce poor long-term outcomes! But of course, that only means the revenue stream from those suffering with type 2 diabetes will continue to flow, and apparently that’s what really matters and drives medical recommendations in the US…

Nearly Half of Weight Loss Surgeries Result in Major Complications

All surgeries have inherent risks, but bariatric surgeries seem to have a much higher ratio of complications. Complications occur for both types of weight loss surgery, gastric banding and the more invasive gastric bypass.

For example, a study from 20045 reported that the risk of dying within 30 days of gastric bypass surgery was 1 in 50.  And, within the surgeon’s first 19 procedures, the odds of death within 30 days were 4.7 times higher, due to inexperience.

Gastric banding consists of surgically inserting a band around the top section of your stomach, and cinching it into a small pouch. This is often touted as a simpler, less invasive procedure to gastric bypass, and whereas gastric banding is at least reversible, while gastric bypass is not, the complications are often so debilitating that patients opt to have the bands removed completely. According to research6 published last year, nearly 40 percent of patients who undergo gastric banding experience major complications, including:

Band erosion Malnutrition Infection
Kidney stones Bowel and gallbladder problems Liver failure
Black-outs Increased risk of death Abnormal band expansion


Furthermore, the study found that:

  • Nearly 50 percent of patients required removal of their bands
  • Nearly 1 out of 3 patients experienced band erosion
  • 60 percent needed to undergo additional surgery

The researchers concluded that:

LAGB [laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding] appears to result in relatively poor long-term outcomes.”

Even according to, one American clinical study that included a 3-year follow-up reported a staggering 88 percent of gastric banding patients experienced one or more adverse events, ranging from mild to severe. Common complications, from gastric banding included the following — and keep in mind that excess weight increases your risks even further, which means everyone who undergoes weight loss surgery is at even greater risk:

Gastroesophageal reflux Band slippage and/or pouch dilation Stomach obstruction
Esophageal dilation Reduced esophageal function Difficulty swallowing
Leaking or twisted access port into the stomach Band eroding into the stomach  

Gastric Bypass Will Wreak Havoc on Your Digestive Processes and Ability to Absorb Nutrients

Gastric bypass involves stapling your stomach into a pouch that’s only a half-ounce in size, so it literally cannot hold much. The idea is that you’ll feel full faster, since your stomach will be unnaturally tiny, but this also means you’ll often be eating meals that are sorely lacking in nutritional requirements.

A small opening is also created to allow food to empty slowly from the pouch. Because the opening is so small (made this way deliberately to keep the small amount of food you’ve eaten in your stomach longer, making you feel “full”), food must be chewed very thoroughly or it won’t be able to fit through the opening, leading to vomiting.

You’ll also be instructed to eat the protein portion of your meal first, because you very well may get too full to fit in a vegetable or anything else. Even liquids must be restricted for up to 45 minutes before and after a meal, lest they take up what little space you have to consume actual food. As you might suspect, because bariatric surgery patients can consume very little roughage, constipation is often a problem. It is even described as “normal” to have a bowel movement only once every two or three days!

Snacking is also expressly forbidden after gastric bypass, as you’re only allowed three small meals a day, and you may have to write off certain foods entirely because your body just can’t digest them anymore. This includes red meats, skins of fruits and vegetables (where the bulk of the antioxidants are) and fibrous vegetables. This is simply NOT a healthy way of eating, and the long-term implications are just as severe as the short-term risks. Hair loss and muscle loss are common after the surgery — both signs that your body is not receiving proper nutrition.

Proper Diet — The Most Important Strategy to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

What makes this so frustratingly ironic, if not downright tragic, is that your diet is not only the most effective way to reversetype 2 diabetes, it’s the ONLY way! Yet the medical community keeps coming up with one bad diabetes treatment after the other, and I think they’ve really hit it out of the park with this one — all because Medicare and insurance companies will pay for it…

Seven years ago, Dr. Ron Rosedale wrote the article Doctors Cause Diabetics to D.I.E., and if you have type 2 diabetes, or know someone who does, you’d be well advised to read what he has to say on this matter.

“I have been incensed about the traditional medical treatment of diabetes for decades,” Dr. Rosedale writes. “Diabetics have been told that they can eat meals multiple times daily that turn into sugar and even sugar itself, as long as they take enough insulin to lower their blood sugar.

The importance of limiting the intake of sugar and foods that turn into sugar has been almost totally ignored. There has been virtually no recognition that high levels of insulin are at least as much of an insult to a person’s health as high levels of sugar (see Insulin and its Metabolic Effects).

With blinders on, drugs have been and are still being given to lower blood sugar, even though they essentially whip the islet cells of the pancreas to produce more insulin. These unfortunate, overstressed islet cells have been producing excess insulin for years and often decades to try to compensate for the insensitivity, the resistance of the body’s cells to insulin’s signal.

This is much like whipping a horse to run faster at the end of a race; it runs faster for a little while, but if you keep doing it, it collapses and dies.

So too do the islet cells that manufacture insulin in the pancreas die when drugs, nay doctors, whip them to keep producing more insulin when they are tired and sick. At this point, a diabetic, who originally had plenty of insulin being produced, and whose problem was merely one of insulin resistance that is easily remedied via proper treatment and diet, now starts losing the ability to produce insulin and becomes, in addition to insulin resistant, insulin deficient; a much more serious and problematic disorder caused by Doctor Induced Exacerbation (DIE).”

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Sans Surgery or Drugs

Amazingly, one in four Americans has some form of diabetes or pre-diabetes. If this is not a clear sign that conventional health recommendations are flawed, I don’t know what is.

I too have personal experience with this disease. I developed it myself at one time, and most of my paternal relatives (my dad included), have, or have died from, diabetes.  My personal experience with diabetes and subsequent review of the literature made it VERY clear to me that virtually every case of type 2 diabetes is reversible… And the cure for type 2 diabetes has NOTHING to do with giving insulin or taking drugs to control your blood sugar.  In fact, giving insulin to someone with type 2 diabetes is one of the worst things that can be done. Any physician still doing this suffers from profound ignorance of insulin physiology.

It’s important to understand that many of the conventional recommendations for treating diabetes are not only flawed but dead wrong.  If you need a refresher, please review my previous article, Deaths Halt Diabetes Study. Once you understand that type 2 diabetes is a fully preventable condition that arises from faulty leptin signaling and insulin resistance, the remedy will become clear.

To reverse the disease, you need to recover your body’s insulin and leptin sensitivities!

How do you do that? As mentioned earlier, the ONLY way to accomplish this is through proper diet and exercise, as detailed in my free Nutrition Plan. Surgery will not do the trick, and there is NO drug that can correct leptin signaling and insulin resistance… Adhering to the following guidelines can help you do at least three things that are essential for successfully treating diabetes: recover your insulin/leptin sensitivity; normalize your weight; and normalize your blood pressure:

  • Severely limit or eliminate sugar and grains in your diet, especially fructose which is far more detrimental than any other type of sugar. Following my Nutrition Plan will help you do this without too much fuss.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is an absolutely essential factor, and without it, you’re unlikely to get this devastating disease under control. It is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to lower your insulin and leptin resistance. If you’re unsure of how to get started, I recommend reviewing my Peak Fitness program for tips and guidelines.
  • Avoid trans fats.
  • Get plenty of omega-3 fats from a high quality, animal-based source, such as krill oil.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels. Recent studies have revealed that getting enough vitamin D can have a powerful effect on normalizing your blood pressure and that low vitamin D levels may increase your risk of heart disease.
  • Optimize your gut flora. Your gut is a living ecosystem, full of both good bacteria and bad. Multiple studies have shown that obese people have different intestinal bacteria than lean people. The more good bacteria you have, the stronger your immune system will be and the better your body will function overall. Fortunately, optimizing your gut flora is relatively easy. You can reseed your body with good bacteria by eating fermented foods (such as fermented vegetables, natto, raw organic cheese, or raw milk kefir) or by taking a high quality probiotic supplement.
  • Address any underlying emotional issues and/or stress. Non-invasive tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique can be helpful and effective.
  • Get enough high-quality sleep every night.
  • Monitor your fasting insulin level. This is every bit as important as your fasting blood sugar. You’ll want your fasting insulin level to be between 2 and 4. The higher your level, the worse your insulin sensitivity is.


  • ·         Source: Dr. Mercola


What Exercise Can Teach You…

Exercise has all sorts of benefits. You already know it increases your energy, improves your health and is the number one thing you can do to extend your life. But have you ever considered that exercise can improve your life in other areas?

You can change.

When you set a goal and lose weight, you discover that your actions and decisions lead to results. Like many people, you may have started off thinking you will never lose weight. It’s too hard. It takes too long. But when you really commit to exercise and eating healthier, you see results. Losing weight teaches us that our decisions matter. It also teaches us we are capable of creating change in our lives. Life isn’t what happens to you. Your life is what you choose to create. What other positive change can you create in your life?

You show up.

How many people get caught up in excuses and justifications for not exercising? I am too busy. My job takes up too much of my day. I have kids who need all of my time and there’s no time left in the day to exercise. I am tired at the end of the day and can’t get myself to exercise. I have heard it all. I know it’s challenging to squeeze everything you have to do into a day. I understand.

But, if you decide to be different, and to show up for exercise every day, you are not only investing in your health, you are also accountable and reliable. You are telling yourself that your health matters. You do what you say you are going to do. Knowing you can count on yourself is big. It boosts your confidence and is personally rewarding.

If you invest more time in coming up with creative time management solutions for your life than you do in a cycle of excuses, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. In what other areas of your life can you benefit from showing up?

You can hit big goals.

Whether your goal is a 10lb weight loss, to run a 5k or to improve your numbers at the doctor’s office, exercise teaches us that we can achieve big goals. Most exercise goals—whether improving your fitness or your body—happen because of decisions you make daily. Those small decisions add up to big results. The reason more people don’t see the results they want is because they want overnight success. They want a quick fix, because quick fixes are easier than having to consistently wake up and decide to exercise.

People who are willing to go the distance and take stair steps to their health are the ones who see lasting results. They wake up and say, what can I do today for my health? And they know that three months from now, that daily decision will meet a bigger goal of health and fitness.

People also learn they can meet other goals this way too. One of the main reasons people often have trouble with big goals is because those goals seems so far away. Achieving big goals can seem overwhelming or insurmountable, so you don’t begin. The number one principle to tackle big goals is to break them down into smaller, manageable, bite-sized goals that ultimately lead to achieving the big goal.

Small steps take away the feeling of being overwhelmed, so you get started. Review your goals. Think in terms of what you can accomplish today. What goals could you achieve if you broke them down into smaller steps?

Exercise can be so much more than the cardio workout you need—it can be a conduit for reaching your life’s potential.

Source: Dr. Mercola

How Fitness Protects Aging Brains .

Aging Americans are experiencing cognitive decline in numbers never before seen. Alzheimer’s disease has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Consider these troubling statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association1:

  • 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s estimated that up to 16 million will have the disease by 2050.
  • One in eight Americans age 65 and over has Alzheimer’s. Every 68 seconds, another American develops Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older.
  • Alzheimer’s deaths increased by 66 percent between 2000 and 2008.
  • One in seven of the estimated 800,000 people with Alzheimer’s lives alone, left to fend for himself/herself.

If you develop Alzheimer’s disease, it’s a far greater problem than just memory loss — it can kill you. And it makes every other medical problem much more difficult to treat. Although many will claim Alzheimer’s is not preventable, there ARE measures you can take that will lower your odds of developing age-related cognitive decline or, worst case scenario, full on dementia.

The aspect of your brain function that typically begins to decline first is connected with your working memory, or your capacity to process information. Researchers have identified five functions that tend to be the first ones to decline with age:

  1. Processes requiring your attention
  2. Working memory capability, or the amount of information you can work with, without losing track
  3. Understanding complex text
  4. Making inferences and drawing conclusions
  5. Putting information into your memory and retrieving it later

Three Major Requirements for Brain Power

Cognitive changes related to aging are actually related more to today’s diet and lifestyle, rather than to the aging process itself. As you age, the cumulative effects of environmental toxins, exposure to free radicals, poor nutrition, stress and other factors take their toll on your body. What has been called “age-related cognitive decline” is really an accumulation of this damage to your cells. But this cognitive decay is NOT set in stone!

There are three primary factors that play a powerful role in maintaining sharp mental function, even as you age:

  1. Regular exercise
  2. The foods you choose to eat or avoid
  3. Managing your emotional stress

The latest studies, discussed in the following section, really underscore just how important exercise is in order for your brain to function optimally. You already know how important it is to “exercise” your brain by learning new skills, adopting new and varied daily routines, and engaging in creative activities. Such mental and social exercises stimulate brain activity and promote new neural connections. However, physical exercise is even more important than mental exercise, when it comes to protecting your brain from cognitive decline.

Latest Studies Show Exercise Builds Bigger Brains

Size does matter when it comes to brain function. Declines in thinking and memory have been linked to actual brain shrinkage (atrophy). However, a new study published in the journal Neurology2 found that physical exercise not only protects against age-related brain changes, but also has more of an effect than mentally stimulating activities.

A team at the University of Edinburgh followed more than 600 people, starting at age 70, and kept detailed logs of their daily physical, mental and social habits. Three years later, their brains were imaged for age-related changes, such as brain shrinkage and damage to the white matter, which is considered the “wiring” of your brain’s communication system.

People who engaged in the most physical exercise showed the least amount of brain shrinkage.

In contrast, subjects showed no measurable benefit from mental or social activities. The researchers were not discouraging people from engaging in mental and social activities — just emphasizing that those activities are not as effective in preventing brain atrophy as is physical exercise. Crossword puzzles just can’t compete with a regular 30-minute workout at the gym.

Because the findings showed only an association, not a causal relationship, the authors could not rule out the possibility that people with less deterioration in their brains were simply more likely to be physically active3. However, other studies tend to support the Edinburgh study’s findings.

For example, Kirk I. Erickson, PhD of the University of Pittsburgh, found that adults aged 60 to 80 walking moderately (just 30 to 45 minutes, three days per week for one year) showed a two percent increase in the volume of their hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of your brain important for memory4. Erickson told WebMD:

“Generally in this age range, people are losing 1 to 3 percent per year of hippocampal volume. The changes in the size of the hippocampus were correlated with changes in the blood levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).”

BDNF is part of a cascade of proteins, produced in your brain, that promote neuron growth and prevent neuron death. Erickson also found higher fitness levels associated with alarger prefrontal cortex. He called exercise “one of the most promising nonpharmaceutical treatments to improve brain health.” The important take-away from these studies is that mental decline is NOT inevitable! Exercise is as good for your brain as it is for the rest of your body.

Exercise Protects Your Brain from Stress Hormones

Exercise increases your brain health in a variety of ways. Exercise:

  • Jump-starts neurogenesis — the creation of new brain cells. Neurogenesis is thought to be especially prevalent in your hippocampus. As you age, the stem cells in your brain tend to become less active and you produce fewer new cells, which may slow your brain function.5
  • Encourages new brain cells to join the existing neural network, instead of “rattling around aimlessly in the brain before dying.” Exercise helps the new brain cells learn how to “multitask.”
  • Upregulates production of brain chemicals and growth factors, like BDNF, which is key in maintaining memory, skilled task performance, and overall cognitive function.
  • Lifts your mood and helps neutralize the harmful effects of stress by boosting neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, and may even protect your brain cells against the effects of stress hormones.
  • Increases insulin sensitivity and may even help you make better food choices.

Exercise doesn’t have to be exhausting to be effective — three to five hours per week has been shown to be adequate. According to one study, the odds of developing Alzheimer’s were nearly quadrupled in people who were less active during their leisure time, between the ages of 20 and 60, compared with their peers.

The Healthy Brain Diet

The third major factor in supporting your brain as you age is diet. Your brain cells cannot regenerate and repair unless they have the necessary raw materials with which to rebuild. Ideally you want to upregulate repair and regeneration in your brain and this is best accomplished by optimizing insulin and leptin signaling in your body.

The best way to achieve this optimum signaling is by lowering your carb intake and limiting your protein consumption to one gram of protein per kilogram of LEAN body mass. For most adult men this is 75 grams or less of protein every day. The key to success with this program is to replace the reduced carb and protein intake with healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado, butter, olive oil and fats from healthy pastured animals. Coconut oil is particularly beneficial for brain health and has actually been shown to be helpful in senile dementia

The two most important nutrients for your brain are fats and antioxidants, so those will be my focus in this article. Just keep in mind these foods should be part of a more comprehensive approach to your diet. Regardless of your particular health concerns, I encourage you to take this opportunity to review my total nutrition plan.

The Most Important Macronutrient for Your Brain is FAT

Sixty percent of your brain is fat. DHA alone makes up about 15 to 20 percent of your brain’s cerebral cortex, as well as 30 to 60 percent of your retina, making it an essential nutrient for both brain and eye health. Your neuron membranes are composed of a thin double layer of fatty acid molecules. Myelin, the protective sheath surrounding your neurons, is composed of 30 percent protein and 70 percent fat.

You can protect your brain by giving it healthful fats from whole foods, such as organic eggs from pastured hens, whole raw milk from pastured cows, raw nuts, avocados, and olive oil. Eggs and dairy are a rich source of lecithin, choline and vitamin B12 — nutrients especially important for good brain function. There is also evidence that coconut oil may offer very significant protection against brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and may even stop brain atrophy in its tracks.

They key to brain health, is to make sure you are consuming plenty of healthy fat as I mentioned above. That will be about 98 percent of your fat or so. But it is crucial to make sure you are getting the essential fats from marine life that in the form of omega-3 fats.

I believe it’s important to get the bulk of your omega-3 fats from animal-based sources because the DHA and EPA are far more important for your health than the plant-based ALA. While ALA can convert into DHA/EPA, this conversion is severely impaired when you have elevated insulin levels, which affects more than 80 percent of Americans.In two different studies, taking 800-900 mg of DHA per day for 16-24 weeks resulted in significant improvements in memory, verbal fluency scores, and rate of learning.

Chances are you’re not getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats from your diet alone, so you may want to consider a supplement. My favorite is krill oil. Krill oil is an extraordinarily potent — and environmentally sustainable—form of omega-3 fat that contains both DHA and EPA. Krill oil is special in that it crosses the blood-brain barrier, so it’s highly bioavailable to your brain. Most people only need two to three 500 mg capsules of krill oil per day in order to get all of the DHA and EPA they need.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Will Help Keep Your Brain Sharp

The best sources of antioxidants are from whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. If you chose to use a supplemental antioxidant I believe astaxanthin is likely your best choice here

Your diet should be rich in vegetables, preferably organic and locally grown. In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, a vegetable-rich diet was found to help prevent age-related mental decline. Veggies, particularly spinach, were found beneficial in retarding central nervous system and cognitive behavioral deficits. And a six-year study involving almost 2,000 Chicago-area seniors showed that older people who ate more than two servings of vegetables each day were mentally sharper than those who ate less.

Ideally, your diet should be low in sugar, especially fructose. Experts are starting to look at memory problems like Alzheimer’s as a form of brain starvation, and glucose metabolism appears to play an important role in the disease. It’s already known that diabetics have four times the risk of Alzheimer’s, and those with prediabetes have triple the risk.

Veggies are generally better than fruits because they are lower in sugar, but the exception is berries. Berries contain pterostilbene, which has been found to reverse some of the negative brain effects of aging. Wild blueberries are high in anthocyanin and other antioxidants, and are known to guard against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. Blueberries improved learning capacity and motor skills among aged rats in animal studies.

Studies show that the sleep hormone melatonin can also help slow down your brain’s aging. Artificially aged mice treated with melatonin had reduced oxidative stress and markers of cerebral aging and neurodegeneration, indicating the melatonin offered both neuroprotective and anti-aging effects6. Melatonin actually has antioxidant properties that may help explain its important anti-aging role, as it helps to suppress harmful free radicals in your body and even slows the production of estrogen, which can activate cancer.

Emotional Stress Accelerates Brain Aging

Besides exercise, in order for your brain to work its best, you simply must get a handle on your daily stress. When you feel stressed, your adrenal and pituitary glands go into their “flight, fight, or freeze” mode and dump adrenaline, cortisol and dopamine into your bloodstream. Cortisol in particular can be problematic when released too frequently in your brain, so if you are spending a lot of your time stressed, you will likely experience some undesirable effects.

Persistently elevated cortisol levels are associated with accelerated aging, mood problems such as depression and anxiety, and many chronic diseases. To avoid these, you must learn how to relax and help your body reestablish equilibrium. Restoring balance after an episode of stress gets easier with practice, even for those who find it difficult to relax.You may want to experiment with yoga, meditation, breath work, or your favorite stress reduction technique.

One of the best tools for decreasing stress is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). EFT has been scientifically shown to significantly improve both cortisol-related stress levels and self-reported psychological symptoms after a single treatment session7. And EFT is easy to learn.

Two Neurotoxic Metals to Watch Out For: Mercury and Aluminum

When it comes to maintaining brainpower, what you keep out of your body is as important as what you put into it. Minimizing your exposure to mercury is extremely important for your brain. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the worst sources of mercury. If you have amalgams, you may want to consider having them removed, but you should ONLY have this done by a qualified biological dentist. And you should be as healthy as possible prior to undergoing this procedure. You may find my mercury detox protocol helpful.

Also avoid aluminum, such as in antiperspirants, cookware, etc. Avoid flu vaccinations as they contain both mercury and aluminum. And stay away from all artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, which are highly toxic to your brain.

Finally, challenge your mind daily. Even though the most recent exercise study found mental exercise less important than physical exercise, other studies show that mental stimulation, such as traveling, learning to play an instrument or doing crossword puzzles, is associated with a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s—not to mention increasing your quality of life! Just for fun, check out a couple of websites that specialize in “brain games”:

Additional Strategies to Significantly Lower Your Alzheimer’s Risk

What is interesting and important to understand about chronic disease is that it very rarely exists in a bubble. What I mean is, if you are developing changes in your brain that are indicative of Alzheimer’s, you’re probably also experiencing signs of insulin resistance, such as diabetes or obesity.

And, meanwhile, you may also be showing signs of heart disease, such as high blood pressure, as, very often, chronic diseases are intricately intertwined; they’re the product of imbalances in your body that are manifesting, likely after years spent festering just below the surface. This can actually be a good thing, however, as implementing a few simple techniques address the underlying causes of multiple chronic diseases, and Alzheimer’s is no exception.

This includes:

  • Optimize vitamin D. In 2007 researchers at the University of Wisconsin uncovered strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer’s patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests. Scientists launched the study after family members of Alzheimer’s patients who were treated with large doses of prescription vitamin D reported that they were acting and performing better than before.

Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important biomolecules in your brain and protect brain cells. Vitamin D receptors have been identified throughout the human body, and that includes in your brain. Metabolic pathways for vitamin D exist in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain, areas that are involved in planning, processing of information, and the formation of new memories.

Sufficient vitamin D is also imperative for the proper functioning of your immune system to combat excessive inflammation, and, as mentioned earlier, other research has discovered that people with Alzheimer’s tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their brains.

  • Fructose. Ideally it is important to keep your level below 25 grams per day. This toxic influence is serving as an important regulator of brain toxicity. Since the average person is exceeding this recommendation by 300 percent this is a pervasive and serious issue. I view this as the MOST important step you can take. Additionally, when your liver is busy processing fructose (which your liver turns into fat), it severely hampers its ability to make cholesterol. This is yet another important facet that explains how and why excessive fructose consumption is so detrimental to your health.
  • Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3. This is indirectly related to fructose, as it will clearly lead to insulin resistance. However other sugars, grains and lack of exercise are also factors here.
  • Vitamin B12: According to a small Finnish study recently published in the journal Neurology, people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin) the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent. Very high doses of B vitamins have also been found to treat Alzheimer’s disease and reduce memory loss.
  • Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate, such as the one described in my nutrition plan. Strict vegetarian diets have been shown to increase Alzheimer’s risk, whereas diets high in omega-3’s lower your risk. However, vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day.
  • High-quality animal based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. (I recommend avoiding most fish because although fish is naturally high in omega-3, most fish are now severely contaminated with mercury.) High intake of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA helps by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder. Researchers have also said DHA “dramatically reduces the impact of the Alzheimer’s gene.”
  • Avoid and remove mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of mercury, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
  • Avoid aluminum, such as antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc.
  • Exercise regularly. It’s been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized, thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. New research has shown that people with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1alpha in their brains, and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s. I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique for my specific recommendations.
  • Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain both mercury and aluminum, as well as egg proteins (e.g. myelin basic protein), which the body may produce antibodies against and that cross-react with the myelin coating your nerves, in effect causing your immune system to attack your nervous system!
  • Eat blueberries. Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
  • Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Avoid anticholinergic and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain night-time pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.

One study8 found that those who took drugs classified as ‘definite anticholinergics’ had a four times higher incidence of cognitive impairment. Regularly taking two of these drugs further increased the risk of cognitive impairment. Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, which is one of the primary building blocks of your brain. As Dr. Stephanie Seneff reports:

“Statin drugs interfere with cholesterol synthesis in the liver, but the lipophilic statin drugs (like lovastatin and simvastatin) also interfere with the synthesis of cholesterol in the brain. This would then directly impact the neurons’ ability to maintain adequate cholesterol in their membranes. Indeed, a population-based study showed that people who had ever taken statins had an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a hazard ratio of 1.21. More alarmingly, people who used to take statins had a hazard ratio of 2.54 (over two and a half times the risk to Alzheimer’s) compared to people who never took statins.”

Watch the video on youtube.URL:

Source: Dr. Mercola


Novartis receives positive CHMP opinion for Bexsero®, a groundbreaking vaccine to help prevent devastating MenB infections, the leading cause of meningitis in Europe.

  • Meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) disease is easily misdiagnosed, can kill within 24 hours and may cause serious, life-long disabilities[1],[2]
  • Upon approval, Bexsero will be the first and only broad coverage MenB vaccine to help protect all age groups, including infants
  • Anticipated approval of Bexsero highlights Novartis leadership position in global fight against meningococcal disease

Novartis announced today that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has adopted a positive opinion for Bexsero (Meningococcal Group B Vaccine [rDNA, component, adsorbed]) for use in individuals from 2 months of age and older. Upon regulatory approval, Bexsero will be the first licensed broad coverage vaccine that can help protect all age groups against MenB disease,[3] including infants, the age group at the greatest risk of infection.[4]


“We are proud of the major advance that Bexsero represents within the field of vaccine development against what up until now has been a very challenging disease target,” said Andrin Oswald, Division Head, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. “For over two decades, our researchers and clinicians have been dedicated to finding a solution to prevent MenB disease. Our steadfast determination has been inspired by the testimonies from survivors and families who have lost loved ones to this disease.”


Currently available vaccines do not offer broad protection against MenB, which accounts for up to 90% of all meningococcal disease cases in some European countries.[5] MenB disease is easily misdiagnosed, can kill within 24 hours and may cause serious, life-long disabilities.[1],[2] About 1 in 10 of those who contract the disease dies despite appropriate treatment.[2] Up to one in five survivors suffers from devastating, life-long disabilities such as brain damage, hearing impairment or limb loss.[5] The highest rates of MenB disease occur in the first year of life, peaking by 7 months of age.[6]


“MenB disease is a major cause of meningitis and septicemia in children, and its ability to cause a rapidly progressive, devastating illness makes it one of the infections most feared by both parents and pediatricians,” said Dr Matthew Snape, Consultant in Pediatrics and Vaccinology at the Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford. “A vaccine that is able to reduce the incidence of this disease would be a major advance towards the prevention of childhood meningitis.”


The European Commission generally follows the recommendations of the CHMP and delivers its final decision within three months, which will be applicable to all European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Upon approval, each member state will evaluate Bexsero reimbursement schemes and determine the potential inclusion of the vaccine into National Immunization Programs. Novartis is committed to making Bexsero available as soon as possible and is already engaging with governments interested in the early adoption of the vaccine.


The tolerability profile and immunogenicity of Bexsero has been established through a comprehensive clinical program including data from large Phase II/III clinical trials involving almost 8,000 infants, children, adolescents and adults.[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12] Starting from two months of age, Bexsero offers several immunization schedule options that can fit with routine vaccination visits.


“We welcome this news, which is immensely significant for parents and doctors. For the first time in the fight against meningococcal disease, we have in sight a potential solution in protecting against MenB disease,” said Bruce Langoulant, President and Member, Governing Council of Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO), and father of a meningitis survivor. “Many of our members and supporters have been personally impacted by meningitis and have watched as loved ones suffered the devastating effects of this disease.”


Bexsero is the result of more than 20 years of pioneering vaccine research.[13] MenB has been a particularly challenging target because the outer coating of the bacteria is not well recognized as an antigen by the immune system, making it especially difficult to develop a broadly effective vaccine until recent scientific developments.[14] Bexsero was developed using an award-winning scientific approach that involved decoding the genetic makeup (genome sequence) of MenB.[14],[15] This innovative approach provides the foundation for a new generation of vaccines that can help prevent other diseases with a significant diversity of disease-causing strains.


Following the approval of Menveo® in 2010, the anticipated approval of the groundbreaking vaccine Bexserounderscores the unique leadership position of Novartis in the global fight against devastating meningococcal disease. Together, the two vaccines help to protect against all five main serogroups of meningococcal bacteria (A, B, C, W-135 and Y) that cause the majority of cases around the world.[15]



[1] Thompson MJ, et al. Clinical recognition of meningococcal disease in children and adolescents. Lancet 2006;367:397-403.
[2] World Health Organization. Meningococcal meningitis. Fact sheet #141. December 2011 update. Available at: Last accessed 26 Sep 2012.
[3] Donnelly J, et al. Qualitative and quantitative assessment of meningococcal antigens to evaluate the potential strain coverage of protein-based vaccines. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010;107:19490-5.
[4] Rosenstein NE, et al. Meningococcal disease. N Engl J Med 2001;344:1378-88.
[5] Health Protection Agency. Meningococcal Reference Unit isolates of Neisseria meningitidis: England and Wales, by serogroup & epidemiological year, 1998/99-2008/09. August 17, 2010. Available at Last accessed 26 Sep 2012.
[6] Cohn, A. et al. Changes in Neisseria meningitidis disease epidemiology in the United States, 1998-2007: Implications for prevention of meningococcal disease. Clin Infect Dis 2010;50:184-91.
[7] Santolaya ME, et al. Immunogenicity and tolerability of a multicomponent meningococcal serogroup B (4CMenB) vaccine in healthy adolescents in Chile. Lancet 2012;379:617-24.
[8] Gossger N, et al. Immunogenicity and tolerability of recombinant meningococcal serogroup B vaccine administered with or without routine infant vaccinations according to different immunization schedules: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2012;307:573-82.
[9] Vesikari T, et al. Immunogenicity of an investigational, multicomponent, meningococcal serogroup b vaccine in healthy infants at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Presented at IPNC, Sept 11-16, 2010; Banff, Canada. Poster #180.
[10] Findlow J, et al. Multicenter, open-label, randomized phase II controlled trial of an investigational recombinant meningococcal serogroup B vaccine with and without outer membrane vesicles, administered in infancy. Clin Infect Dis 2010;51:1127-37.
[11] Snape MD, et al. Immunogenicity of two investigational serogroup B meningococcal vaccines in the first year of life: a randomized comparative trial. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2010;29:e71-9.
[12] Prymula R, et al. Catch-up vaccination of healthy toddlers with an investigational multicomponent meningococcal serogroup B vaccine (4CMenB) – exploration of a two-dose schedule. Presented at 29th ESPID Meeting, 7-11 June 2011; The Hague, The Netherlands.
[13] Rappuoli R. Reverse vaccinology, a genome-based approach to vaccine development. Vaccine 2001;19:2688-91.
[14] Giuliani MM, et al. A universal vaccine for serogroup B meningococcus. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2006;103:10834-9.
[15] World Health Organization. Meningococcal position paper. Weekly epidemiological record No. 44, 2002, 77, 329-40. Available at: Last accessed 26 Sep 2012.

Source: Novartis Newsletter.

Updated Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Strep Pharyngitis.

The 2012 IDSA guidelines strongly emphasize using testing to guide treatment.

In its first update in 10 years, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) issued revised guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of Group A streptococcal (GAS) pharyngitis.

To establish the diagnosis, testing is not indicated in patients with features highly suggestive of a viral cause (rhinorrhea, cough, oral ulcers, overt viral features) or in children younger than 3 years. Because clinical features inadequately discriminate between viral and GAS pharyngitis in all other cases, a rapid antigen detection test (RADT) should be performed. No treatment is recommended for patients with negative RADT results, with the exception of children and adolescents, who should have a culture performed to guide treatment. Antistreptococcal antibody testing is not recommended.

Recommended treatment is a 10-day course of penicillin or amoxicillin. For patients who are allergic but not anaphylactically sensitive to penicillin, a 10-day course of a first-generation cephalosporin should be used; for patients who are anaphylactically sensitive to penicillin, clindamycin or clarithromycin for 10 days or azithromycin for 5 days is recommended.

The guidelines support the use of analgesics and antipyretics but do not endorse the use of adjunctive corticosteroid therapy.

Comment: These guidelines focus on minimizing inappropriate antibiotic treatment of non-GAS pharyngitis by emphasizing testing in appropriate patients and treatment based on the results. Every emergency department should have a way to deal with delayed results, such as positive cultures from abscesses and positive assays for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Antibiotic stewardship is important, and these guidelines should be respected.

Source: Journal Watch Emergency Medicine


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