Archive for January, 2016

A comprehensive review, which has sifted through data from 70 trials of the most popular drugs for the treatment of depression, shows that antidepressants may up risk of suicide, aggression. Study authors also found that big pharmas often fail to report critical side-effects of their products along with drug-related deaths.

The review found that antidepressants may make underage patients more prone to adopt an aggressive behavior. Still, no such side-effect was found in adults, though researchers suspect that some trial data may be misreported.

Nevertheless, researchers have suspected for years that antidepressants may boost risk of suicide as families have often complained that the drugs were behind their loved ones’ tragic end. But antidepressant makers and doctors have dismissed such claims because no comprehensive study has ever found a link between the two.

The research review which comprises data on more than 18,000 patients is considered the largest to date. It was carried out by a team at the Nordic Cochrane Center in Denmark, and reviewed by University College London in the U.K.

After analyzing trial data and comparing it to reports submitted by families of people who committed suicide, researchers found that the companies who funded the trials have often misclassified the deaths to their products’ benefit.

Study authors were startled and ‘deeply worried’ by the unprecedented situation.

“It is absolutely horrendous that they have such disregard for human lives.”

said Prof. Peter Gotzsche, lead author of the research and mental heart expert with the Copenhagen-based Nordic Cochrane Center.

In the U.S., antidepressant use saw a tremendous rise in just two decades. Currently, one in ten people take antidepressants on prescription, while one in four middle-aged women take the drugs.

But this doesn’t mean that the U.S. was hit by a tidal wave of depression in recent years. In fact, doctors often prescribe the drugs for off-label uses such as dependence, ADHD and autism in children, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Nordic Cochrane Centre researchers found that at least four deaths by suicide were misreported by a pharmaceutical company. In one case, a patient tried to kill himself after taking venlafaxine, but since he died days later in a hospital his death was no longer considered to having occured during the trial. Suicidal attempts were often mislabeled as a sign of either emotional instability or depression.

The review also found that though antidepressants do not seem to work on children they do boost their risk of suicide. This is why, study authors believe that it is better to follow alternative courses of actions including psychotherapy, art therapy, and exercise before resorting to medications.

Source: Antidepressants May Up Risk of Suicide, Aggression

The advice changes all the time

The advice changes all the time

Are the official dietary guidelines useful to average Americans? I’m not so sure.

Every five years, numerous dietary experts are tasked with putting together a summary of the most up-to-date nutritional science. Their end product is intended to be a series of dietary recommendations that will help public-health agencies, health-care providers, and educational institutions create federal nutrition policy, health programs and disease-prevention initiatives.

This past February, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advisory panel issued a 571-page report that upended a lot of conventional thinking. After reviewing all the data, they eased restrictions on cholesterol and urged us to eat less sugar and meat. But they also introduced concepts of sustainability and “dietary patterns”—which include how much and how frequently we should eat different foods—into the conversation. The official recommendations were released Jan. 7.

The new recommendations feel odd and a bit touchy-feely compared to the previous, more stern editions that had us go low-fat, avoid eggs, and micromanage the molecules of our meals. Yet regardless of whether the suggestions are ultimately right or wrong, there are two main issues that make them just north of useless.

1. The advice changes all the time.

It seems like there’s a giant Price Is Right wheel, but for nutrition advice. Every five years, we give it a spin, and up comes the dietary guidelines.

For example, all that cholesterol that we were supposed to watch is “no longer a nutrient of concern.” So have an egg with your shrimp scampi and don’t worry as much about counting up the grams of fat in your dinner. Remember the added sugars in the low-fat products we ate before? Eat less of those. But wait, there’s more: you can have coffee again!

It’s no wonder that a 2012 survey by the International Food Information Council found that more than half of Americans said it’s easier to do their taxes than to figure out a healthful diet. And 76% stated that all the constant changes to nutritional guidance make it harder to know what to believe.

We used to visualize dietary guidelines as food groups in a square. That changed into a pyramid that focused on low-fat eating and drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. Now it’s a plate.

As the rubric changed, so did the specific foods that we could or couldn’t eat: eggs, no eggs; nuts, no nuts; cholesterol, no cholesterol; don’t drink wine, now you can.

With this level of change and outright reversal of opinion, there’s never any guarantee that this year’s advice will be next year’s advice. This undermines the impact of the guidelines.

2. There’s too much nutritional noise.

The ink on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans wasn’t dry before the vegan Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was suing the government. The committee, which has sued over the guidelines in the past, disagreed with the conclusion that dietary cholesterol is not as bad as we thought, worried that the egg and meat industries unduly influenced the recommendations, and didn’t like that the guidelines neglected to tell people to eat less meat.

Some of the criticism has merit: The cattle industry did not like the government telling people about data indicating that red meat (particularly processed meats) can contribute to heart disease and cancer, so its lobbying group convinced a government agency to keep out language stating that you should eat less meat. Congress used the appropriations process to set limits on what the guidelines could even say.

For ordinary Americans, the reversals of recommendations, the lawsuits and the Congressional conflicts of interest all cast doubt on the validity of the guidelines. The combination of these influences makes the dietary guidelines mostly useless for most Americans.

In the midst of all the cacophony, we need dietary principles that we can rely upon. To do this, we might start by looking at the habits of healthy eating practiced in the Mediterranean. This would involve returning to meals at the family table; eating real food (mostly vegetables); and doing that without over-consuming. That’s a three-step healthy prescription that will remain as true today as it will be when the next dietary guidelines come out five years from now.

Source: Our Official Dietary Guidelines Are Useless | TIME

Six Foods Bill Marler Never Eats

Bill Marler B-W headshotUnpasteurized (“raw”) milk and packaged juices. Unpasteurized milk, sometimes called “raw” milk, can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites. Between 1998 and 2011, there were 148 food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk and raw milk products in the US—and keep in mind that comparatively few people in the country ever consume these products, so 148 outbreaks is nothing to ignore. As for unpasteurized packaged juices, one of Marler’s earliest cases was the 1996 E. coli outbreak from unpasteurized Odwalla apple juice. As a result, he won’t go near raw milk or juice. There’s no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurization,” he says.

Raw sprouts. Uncooked and lightly cooked sprouts have been linked to more than 30 bacterial outbreaks (mostly of salmonella and E. coli) in the US since mid-1990s. As recently as 2014, salmonella from bean sprouts sent 19 people to the hospital. All types of sprouts—including alfalfa, mung bean, clover and radish sprouts—can spread infection, which is caused by bacterial contamination of their seeds. “There have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination,” Marler says. “Those are products that I just don’t eat at all.” He did add that he does eat them if they’re cooked.

Meat that isn’t well-done. Marler orders his burgers well-done. “The reason ground products are more problematic and need to be cooked more thoroughly is that any bacteria that’s on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it,” Marler says. “If it’s not cooked thoroughly to 160°F throughout, it can cause poisoning by E. coli and salmonella and other bacterial illnesses.” As for steaks, needle tenderizing—a common restaurant practice in which the steak is pierced with needles or sliced with knives to break down the muscle fibers and make it more tender—can also transfer bugs from the surface to the interior of the meat. If a restaurant does this (Marler asks), he orders his steak well-done. If the restaurant doesn’t, he’ll opt for medium-well.

Prewashed or precut fruits and vegetables. “I avoid these like the plague,” Marler says. Why? The more a food is handled and processed, the more likely it is to become tainted. “We’ve gotten so used to the convenience of mass-produced food—bagged salad and boxed salads and precut this and precut that,” Marler says. “Convenience is great but sometimes I think it isn’t worth the risk.” He buys unwashed, uncut produce in small amounts and eats it within three to four days to reduce the risk for listeria, a deadly bug that grows at refrigerator temps.

Raw or undercooked eggs. You may remember the salmonella epidemic of the 1980s and early ’90s that was linked mainly to eggs. If you swore off raw eggs back then, you might as well stick with it. The most recent salmonella outbreak from eggs, in 2010, caused roughly 2,000 reported cases of illness. “I think the risk of egg contamination is much lower today than it was 20 years ago for salmonella, but I still eat my eggs well-cooked,” Marler says.

Raw oysters and other raw shellfish. Marler says that raw shellfish—especially oysters—have been causing more foodborne illness lately. He links this to warming waters, which produce more microbial growth. “Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that’s in the water,” he explains. “If there’s bacteria in the water it’ll get into their system, and if you eat it you could have trouble. I’ve seen a lot more of that over the last five years than I saw in the last 20 years. It’s simply not worth the risk.”

First published at Copyright © 2016 by Boardroom Inc., 281 Tresser Blvd., Stamford, Connecticut 06901-3229.

2015 – Profile in Obsession: Bill Marler, By Naomi Tomky March 24, 2015

2015 – The New Yorker – A Bug in the System
The New Yorker, Wil S. Hylton, February 2, 2015.

2014 – Q&A: Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler on What Not to Eat
The National Law Journal, Interview with Jenna Greene, November 3, 2014.

2012 – Bill Marler, Attorney, Blogger, and Food Safety Advocate, Talks Turkey (Or Spinach, Rather)
Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes, November 2.

2012 – Bill Marler Interview, Part Two: His Most Difficult Cases and Lobbying Congress
Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes, November 14.

2012 – Profiles in Public Health Law: Interview with William “Bill” Marler CDC Public Health Law News, July.

2012 – Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler On Sprouts, Raw Milk, and Why “Local” Isn’t Always Safer, Hanna Brooks Olsen, March 5.

2011 – Listeria outbreak draws Seattle lawyer to battle
Associated Press, Shannon Dininny, October 9.

2011 – Food-Borne Illness Attorney: Top Foods to Avoid
ABC News, Neal Karlinsky, September 29.

2011 – How to Keep Food Free of Salmonella: Lawsuits
The Atlantic, Barry Estabrook, August 31.

2011 – More Stomach-Churning Facts about the E. Coli Outbreak
New York Times, Mark Bittman, June 8.

2011 – Bill Marler: A Personal Injury Attorney and More
The Xemplar, Nicole Black, June 1.

2011 – Good Food Hero: Bill Marler, Food Safety Attorney
Good Food World, Gail Nickel-Kailing, May 23.

2011- Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat.
Inspire Books, Jeff Benedict, May 15

2011 – New Book Chronicles Islander Marler’s Work.
Bainbride Island Review, Connie Mears, May 13.

2010 – Food Safety Lawyer Puts His Money Where Your Mouth Is
AOL News, Andrew Schneider, September 29

2009 – Food Safety Lawyer’s Wish: Put Me Out of Business
Seattle Times, Maureen O’Hagan, November 23

2009 – WSU Discourse on Food Safety, Courtesy Seattle Lawyer
Kitsap Sun, Tristan Baurick,  August 29

2009 – When Food Sickens, He Heads for Courthouse
Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Matt McKinney, June 24

2009 –  Bill Marler, The Food-Safety Litigator
Culinate, Miriam Wolf, April

2009 – Food Fight:Bill Marler’s Beef (PDF)
Washington Law & Politics, David Volk, May

2009 – Candidate for Top FSIS Job talks E. coli Testing, Irradiation, Education
The Meating Place, Ann Bagel Storck, February 6

2009 – Five Minutes with Bill Marler, Well Known Lawyer, Food Safety Activist
CattleNetwork, Chuck Jolley, February 5

2009 – Heath Surveillance the Key to Fresh Produce
The Packer, Tom Karst, February 3

2008 – Seattle Food Contamination Expert in China as Tainted Milk Sickens Thousands of Kids
Seattle Health Examiner, September 23

2008 –  E. Coli Lawyer Is Busier Than Ever
Associated Press, February 4

2007 –  Legally Speaking: The Food Poisoning Lawyer
The Southeast Texas Record, John G. Browning, November 20

2007 –  The Nation’s Leading Food-borne Illness Attorney Tells All
Washington State Magazine, Hannelore Sudermann, August

2007 –  Back to Court: Burst of E. coli Cases Returns Jack in the Box Litigator to the Scene
Meat and Poultry News, Steve Bjerklie, June 8

2007 – Food Fight
Portland Oregonian, Alex Pulaski, March

2007 –  Mr. Food Illness Esquire
QSR Magazine, Fred Minnick, February

2006 –  Seattle Attorney Dominates Food-Borne Illness Litigation
KPLU, October 20

2006 –  How a Tiny Law Firm Made Hay Out of Tainted Spinach
The Wall Street Journal, Heather Won Tesoriero and Peter Lattman, September 27

2005 – Bill Marler – Education Holds Key in Tainted Food Fight
King County Bar Association Bar Bulletin, Ross Anderson, November

2001 –  THE INSIDE STORY: How 11 Schoolkids Got $4.75 Million in E. coli Lawsuit, Bryan Salvage, March 7

2001 –  Hammer Time: Preparation Pays When Disputes Escalate to Lawsuits
Meat & Poultry Magazine, David Hendee

2001 –  For Seattle Attorney, A Bacterium Brings Riches—and Enemies
The Wall Street Journal, Rachel Zimmerman

2001 –  The Bug That Ate The Burger
Los Angeles Times, Emily Green, June

1999 –  Courting Publicity, Attorney Makes Safe Food His Business
Seattle Post, Maggie Leung, September 7

Source: 6 Things A Food Poisoning Expert Refuses To Eat


It’s difficult to keep a conspiracy under wraps, scientists say, because sooner or later, one of the conspirators will blow its cover.

Source: Maths study shows conspiracies ‘prone to unravelling’ – BBC News

An Indiana principal reportedly pushed students out of the way of an oncoming bus before she herself was struck Tuesday.

Susan Jordan died at the scene after a school bus jumped a curb, killing her and injuring two children.

The bus driver told firefighters that she’s not sure why the bus jumped the curb, but that she saw Jordan push several students out of the way, according to Rita Reith with the Indianapolis Fire Department.

Principal Susan Jordan pushed kids out of the way of the bus before it hit her, the bus driver told authorities.

“What we were told, by the bus driver, in the instant that the accident occurred, she saw the principal push kids out of the way of the bus, before it hit her and killed her. She was a beloved principal at that school for 20 years, getting them loaded on the bus,” Reith told CNN.

“They just loved her,” she said. “Up to the minute she was alive, she was helping the kids.”

In an appreciation video posted to YouTube last year, students and staff at her school thanked Jordan and talked about what made her a success.

“She is everything I want to be when I grow up,” says one adult woman in the video. “She is kind. She’s caring. She’s compassionate. She’s loving. She’s sincere, and she’s a professional. She makes all of us want to be even better.”

Says another woman: “She’s the definition of wonderful.”

‘Everything was just kind of routine’

The accident Tuesday occurred at Amy Beverland Elementary School as buses were lined up for the end of the day dismissal.

“Everything was just kind of routine. At some point, the bus did jump the curb, again made contact with two of the students, hit an adult and that adult is deceased,” Reith told reporters.

She said the students, both 10, were taken to a hospital in serious condition. They are not thought to have suffered life-threatening injuries.

The Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, which is near Indianapolis, announced it would not hold classes Wednesday.

The school board released a statement praising Jordan and everything she gave to her community.

“Susan was an amazing educator. She had a remarkable way of making everyone she came in contact with feel valued and important,” it read.

“She had a passion for children that is unmatched. The entire Lawrence Township Community mourns her loss and extends our sympathy to the Amy Beverland Community the multitudes of people whose lives she touched.

Source: Principal dies after pushing students out of way of bus –

Six Cleveland police officers have been fired in connection with a November 2012 car chase that ended with officers firing 137 bullets at a car, killing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, said Detective Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association.

Loomis identified the officers as Wilfredo Diaz, Brian Sabolik, Erin O’Donnell, Michael Farley, Chris Ereg and Michael Brelo.

Brelo, the only officer indicted in the incident, allegedly fired 49 of the shots, including 15 from the hood of the car carrying Russell and Williams. He was acquitted of manslaughter and felonious assault last year.

Police in a tweet Tuesday said six other officers were suspended without pay for up to a month and a 13th officer retired last year.

Loomis, a veteran of 23 years, vowed to get the fired officers’ jobs back. There is “no rhyme or reason” to the dismissals, and he said he and other officers are scratching their heads because the firings seem random, as if names were picked out of a hat.

“This is nothing but politics. I have every confidence in the world we’re going to get their jobs back. I’m not going to stand for it,” Loomis said.

How, he asked, can the six officers be fired when a grand jury opted not to indict 12 of the 13 officers and the sole remaining officer, Brelo, was acquitted by Cuyahoga County Judge John P. O’Donnell?

In his May 2015 decision, O’Donnell ruled that Brelo’s use of force was permissible because he had reason to believe he was threatened. And it couldn’t be proved that Brelo’s shots were the fatal ones, so the judge couldn’t issue a guilty verdict on the manslaughter charge, he said.

May 2015: Michael Brelo found not guilty at manslaughter trial

May 2015: Michael Brelo found not guilty at manslaughter trial 02:00

‘I don’t trust police’

After the verdict, protesters outside the courthouse chanted, “No justice, no peace,” a slogan popularized during the Michael Brown protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Eric Garner protests in New York.

The protests were largely peaceful, though at least 71 people were arrested that weekend for offenses including felonious assault, aggravated rioting, unlawful congregation and failure to disperse, police Chief Calvin Williams said.

Russell’s and Williams’ family members also frowned on the verdict.

“All I know is that I don’t trust police no more. No police. None,” Williams’ brother, Alfredo Williams, said. “I can’t recover from this. …This verdict isn’t real. This verdict is fake.”

Loomis informed CNN of the firings as high-ranking police and city officials held a news conference regarding the 22-mile chase. During the chase, there were 46 supervisors on duty, 18 of whom were involved in the pursuit, said police Cmdr. James Chura, calling the incident unprecedented. Of those supervisors, one was terminated, two were demoted and nine were suspended for from three to 30 days.

As for the 105 officers involved in the pursuit, 63 were suspended for between one and 10 days, he said.

“We said we would conduct a fair process, and I believe we have done that,” Mayor Frank Jackson said. “They will feel however they feel, but we conducted this in a fair way, with due process.”

What happened that night?

The chase started the night of November 29, 2012, when a couple in a car sped away from an undercover officer.

Their engine backfired, sputtering and producing a loud bang in the tailpipe. Prosecutors said officers mistook the noise for gunshots, and a high-speed chase ensued.

Investigators said as many as 62 police cars joined at speeds of up to 100 mph through the streets of Cleveland.

After the chase, Russell rammed a police car in a middle school parking lot, police said.

That’s when the bullets started flying.

An investigation revealed 13 police officers fired more than 100 times in eight seconds.

Brelo got out of his police car, climbed atop the hood of Russell’s car and “fired at least 15 shots … downward through the windshield into the victims at close range as he stood on the hood of Mr. Russell’s car,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGlinty said.

Brelo told investigators he thought he and his partner were in danger, believing the couple in the car were shooting.

“I’ve never been so afraid in my life,” the former Marine told investigators. “I thought my partner and I would be shot and that we were going to be killed, at which point I drew my weapon and I shot through the windshield at the suspects.”

Russell and Williams were both homeless with a history of mental illness and drug use, according to Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Witnesses said they were most likely looking to buy drugs that night. A police officer ran a license plate check of the 1979 Chevy Malibu that Russell was driving. He had gotten it from a relative, and the check came back clean.

Still, the officer tried to pull him over for a turn signal violation. Russell then sped away.

Source: 6 Cleveland police officers fired for actions in chase –

A 2010 article published in Oncology Reports states pancreatic cancer is among the most aggressive forms of human cancer, characterized by a very high mortality rate. It represents the fourth leading cause of cancer death in United States, killing 32,000 people annually. With a 5-year survival rate of only 3 percent and a median survival rate of less than six months, pancreatic cancer carries one of the poorest prognoses. The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is one of the worst things a doctor ever has to tell a patient. The only FDA-approved therapies for it, Gemcitabine and Erlotinib, produce objective responses in less than 10 percent of patients, while causing severe side-effects in the majority. There is a desperate need for new options.

Clinical research to test new treatments is split into phases. Phase I trials are just to make sure the treatment is safe, to see how much you can give before it becomes toxic. Curcumin, the natural yellow pigment in the spice turmeric has passed a number of those. In fact, there was so little toxicity, the dosing was limited only by the number of pills patients were willing to swallow.

Phase II trials are conducted to see if the drug actually has an effect. Curcumin did, in 2 of the 21 patients that were evaluated. One patient had a 73 percent tumor reduction, but the effect was short-lived. One lesion remained small, but a curcumin-resistant tumor clone emerged. The other patient, who had a stable disease for over 18 months, showed slow improvement over a year. In fact, the only time that patient’s cancer markers bumped up was during a brief three-week stint where the curcumin was stopped.

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.

So curcumin does seem to help some patients with pancreatic cancer, and most importantly, there appears to be little downside. No curcumin-related toxic effects were observed in up to doses of eight grams per day. What happens after eight grams? We don’t know because no one was willing to take that many pills. The patients were willing to go on one of the nastiest chemotherapy regimens on the planet, but didn’t want to be inconvenienced with swallowing a lot of capsules.

The only surefire way to beat pancreatic cancer is to prevent it in the first place. In 2010 I profiled a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the largest such study in history, which found that dietary fat of animal origin was associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk.

Which animal fat is the worst? The second largest study has since chimed in to help answer that question. Researchers found that poultry was the worst, with 72 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer for every 50 grams of daily poultry consumption. Fifty grams is just about a quarter of a chicken breast. The reason white meat came out worse than red may be because of the cooked meat carcinogens in chicken, the heterocyclic amines that build up in grilled and baked chicken. These mutagenic chemicals have been associated with doubling pancreatic cancer risk.

Meat has been associated with significantly increased risk, whereas fake meat is associated with significantly less risk. Those who eat plant-based meats like veggie burgers or veggie dogs three or more times a week had less than half the risk of fatal pancreatic cancer. Legumes and dried fruit appear to be similarly protective.

My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer. By the time the first symptom arose, a dull ache in his gut, it was too late. That’s why we need to work on preventing it.

Carcinogens in grilled and baked chicken may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, while curcumin may help even in advanced stages of the disease.

Source: Turmeric Curcumin and Pancreatic Cancer | Care2 Healthy Living

Imagine being charged with a DUI when it’s been hours since you’ve had a drink, only to later discover that your body brews its own alcohol.

That’s what happened to an upstate New York woman when she blew a blood alcohol level more than four times the legal limit. Just before Christmas in Hamburg, New York, a judge dismissed the charges after being presented with evidence the woman suffers from “auto-brewery syndrome.”

“I had never heard of auto-brewery syndrome before this case,” attorney Joseph Marusak told CNN on the condition his client’s identity remain anonymous. “But I knew something was amiss when the hospital police took the woman to wanted to release her immediately because she wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms.”

“That prompts me to get on the Internet and see if there is any sort of explanation for a weird reading,” adds Marusak. “Up pops auto-brewery syndrome and away we go.”

“I’m in touch with about 30 people who believe they have this same syndrome, about 10 of them are diagnosed with it,” said Panola College Dean of Nursing Barbara Cordell, who has studied the syndrome for years. “They can function at alcohol levels such as 0.30 and 0.40 when the average person would be comatose or dying. Part of the mystery of this syndrome is how they can have these extremely high levels and still be walking around and talking.”

Extremely rare condition

Also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, this rare medical condition can occur when abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol. The process is believed to take place in the small bowel, and is vastly different from the normal gut fermentation in the large bowel that gives our bodies energy.

First described in 1912 as “germ carbohydrate fermentation,” it was studied in the 1930s and ’40s as a contributing factor to vitamin deficiencies and irritable bowel syndrome. Cases involving the yeast Candida albicans and Candida krusei have popped up in Japan, and in 2013 Cordell documented the case of a 61-year-old man who had frequent bouts of unexplained drunkenness for years before being diagnosed with an intestinal overabundance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or brewer’s yeast, the same yeast used to make beer.

Flat tire a blessing

It was a beautiful fall afternoon in 2014 when Marusak’s client met her husband at a restaurant for food and drinks. She consumed “four drinks between noon and 6 p.m.” says Marusak, “less than one drink an hour. We hired a local pharmacologist who said that a woman of her size and weight having four drinks in that period of time should be between 0.01 and 0.05 blood alcohol levels.” That would be beneath the legally impaired level of 0.08 BAC in New York state.

And here’s the “crazy thing,” says Marusak. “Her husband drives to meet friends and she is driving home. She gets a flat close to home but doesn’t want to change the tire so keeps on driving. Another driver sees her struggling with the car and calls it in as an accident. So if she hadn’t had that flat tire, she’d not know to this day that she has this condition.”

Because she blew a blood alcohol level of nearly 0.40, police procedure is to take the accused to a hospital, as that level is considered extremely life-threatening.

Instead of allowing his wife to be released as the hospital recommended based on her lack of drunken symptoms, the husband asked for tests to be run. Sure enough, Marusak says, the results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.30, hours and hours after her last drink. That prompted Marusak to do his own sleuthing.

“I hired two physician assistants and a person trained in Breathalyzers to watch her and take blood alcohol levels over a 12-hour period and had it run at the same lab used by the prosecution,” said Marusak. “Without any drinks, her blood level was double the legal limit at 9:15 a.m., triple the limit at 6 p.m. and more than four times the legal limit at 8:30 p.m., which correlates with the same time of day that the police pulled her over.”

Even more strange, says Marusak, is the fact that the woman exhibited no signs of the levels until she reached a blood alcohol level of between 0.30 and 0.40.

“That’s when she started to feel a bit wobbly on her feet.” Marusak explains that by pointing to the world of alcoholism, where the bodies of “functioning alcoholics” adapt to the high levels of booze in their blood.

Even though the Hamburg judge dismissed the case against his client, Marusak says it’s not over yet.

“I’ve heard the DA’s office says they plan to appeal. I’ll know more by the middle of January.”

Assistant Erie County District Attorney Christopher Belling confirmed a review of the judge’s decision is underway but declined to comment further.

In the meantime, Marusak’s client is treating her condition with anti-fungal medications and a yeast-free diet with absolutely no sugar, no alcohol and very low carbs. While that works for some, Cordell says, others relapse or find little relief

Source: Woman charged with DUI has ‘auto-brewery syndrome’ –

For decades, scientists believed that excess body fat was mere storage for unused calories. However, research conducted over the past 20 years suggests added fat is more than a little extra cushion—fat cells are actually “toxic factories,” each one producing inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers of inflammation) throughout the body and causing potentially serious damage to your health. It is this understanding that has led experts to more closely examine the effects of being overweight, even when an individual is considered physically fit.

In 1998, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. These guidelines noted being overweight but in good physical health would reduce the risk of premature death— in other words, being physically fit mattered more than body fat percentage.

But in 2015, the International Journal of Epidemiology released the results of a study that suggested the “fat but fit” theory wasn’t true, based on the health data of more than 1.3 million Swedish men whom researchers followed for 30 years. Those study authors found that the beneficial effects of exercise declined as obesity rates increased. Compared to physically fit obese men, normal-weight men who were not physically fit had a lower risk of dying.

These results are backed by a prior study published in January 2015 that identified a link between increased levels of fat in the body— regardless of physical fitness— and high levels of inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of all disease, especially chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Another study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research in 2015 observed a correlation between increased levels of white fat tissue and poorer prognosis in early-stage breast cancer. White fat, known as white adipose tissue, is fat stored for energy, but it also plays a role in raising inflammation levels when found in excess throughout the body.

Abdominal obesity, which is fat centralized in the belly, is a sign of high levels of visceral fat in the body. Visceral fat is the type of fat that accumulates in arteries and around organs, and has been credited with increased inflammation and disease risk. Emerging research has found that while this still holds true, fat may be further differentiated. A December 2014 study found that fat deposits may exist on the surface of the myocardium (muscular wall of the heart) and be contained completely beneath the membrane that encloses the heart— in contact with major coronary arteries and their branches. This fat, known as epicardial adipose tissue (EAT), is highly correlated with obesity, and thought to play a role in the development and vulnerability of plaque in the coronary arteries.

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If being fit doesn’t protect against the dangers of excess weight gain, what can?

While fitness is still an important component of optimal health, it is not a standalone marker.

If you are struggling with losing weight, you will reap significant benefits by increasing lean body mass with exercise.

Here are 3 other tactics that can help you lose weight and lower your disease risk:

1. Assess body fat rather than BMI
One of the primary challenges facing the nation today is the standard of measurement for obesity. At present, obesity is defined by body mass index (BMI), which is essentially a height-to-weight ratio. For example, a man who is 5 feet 10 inches tall weighs 220 pounds and has 12 percent body fat would be considered obese, according to the BMI scale. However, anyone with 12 percent body fat is not overweight or obese. This person is likely a bodybuilder with very high levels of lean muscle. His body fat percentage is a better indicator of his health risk. BMI drastically underscores fat levels in the aging population, particularly postmenopausal women who have lost substantial muscle mass that has been replaced with fat and yet their weight remains steady.

A bioelectrial impedance assessment (BIA) is a more comprehensive look at body composition, assessing lean body mass, body fat, and body water percentages, as well as showing where primary fat stores exist. These assessments are generally available through a physician’s office. Monitoring your body fat rather than BMI will help you better assess your overall health and weight management goals.

2. Add a probiotic to your supplement regimen
Research continues to identify the gut flora as a contributing factor to multiple aspects of health, including weight management and inflammation levels. Unfortunately, the typical American diet often leads to imbalances in the microbiota of the gut favoring the development of intestinal inflammation and increased risk of disease. A daily probiotic (not a dairy-based, sugar-laden probiotic) can help promote healthy bacteria in the gut. According to one study, the Lactobacillus plantarum strain offers the greatest potential for suppressing chronic inflammation in the gut. In November 2015, one study uncovered evidence that the landscape of the bacteria in your gut may be the greatest factor in determining which foods will optimally improve an individual’s weight and general health.

3. Consume a clean, nutrient-rich, whole-foods diet
While certain research may say that the Mediterranean diet is good for some people and that the Paleo diet is good for others, one fact remains: Whole foods are best. Strive to consume a wide variety of fresh vegetables and low-sugar fruits organically or locally sourced. Enjoy a mix of lean proteins from animal sources along with plant-based proteins that are high in fiber, like quinoa. Keep sugar, artificial sweeteners and ingredients, and processed foods out of your diet. These foods contribute to toxins in the body and negatively impact healthy gut microbiota.

Achieving optimal health is always a work in progress. Set small goals every month, week, and day that will drive progress. You don’t have to be perfect, but you should try to make everyday choices, a choice that will maximize your wellbeing— mind, body, and spirit.

Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, the nation’s largest franchise of physicians specializing in bioidentical hormone therapy. Dr. Jen spent 10 years as a traditional OB-GYN, and then became board-certified in regenerative medicine, with an emphasis on bio-identical hormones, preventative medicine and nutrition. She is the author of “The Sex Drive Solution for Women.”  Learn more about her programs at

For decades, scientists believed that excess body fat was mere storage for unused calories.

Source: ‘Fat but fit’: How carrying excess weight can have long-term health consequences | Fox News

The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil, is likely to spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

Zika transmission has not yet been reported in the continental United States, although a woman who fell ill with the virus in Brazil later gave birth to a brain-damaged baby in Hawaii.

Brazil’s Health Ministry said in November that Zika was linked to a fetal deformation known as microcephaly, in which infants are born with smaller-than-usual brains.

Brazil has reported 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, the WHO said last Friday, over 30 times more than in any year since 2010 and equivalent to 1-2 percent of all newborns in the state of Pernambuco, one of the worst-hit areas.

The Zika outbreak comes hard on the heels of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, demonstrating once again how little-understood diseases can rapidly emerge as global threats.

“We’ve got no drugs and we’ve got no vaccines. It’s a case of deja vu because that’s exactly what we were saying with Ebola,” said Trudie Lang, a professor of global health at the University of Oxford. “It’s really important to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.”

Large drugmakers’ investment in tropical disease vaccines with uncertain commercial prospects has so far been patchy, prompting health experts to call for a new system of incentives following the Ebola experience.

“We need to have some kind of a plan that makes (companies) feel there is a sustainable solution and not just a one-shot deal over and over again,” Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said last week.

The Sao Paulo-based Butantan Institute is currently leading the research charge on Zika and said last week it planned to develop a vaccine “in record time”, although its director warned this was still likely to take three to five years.

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said on Monday it was studying the feasibility of using its vaccine technology on Zika, while France’s Sanofi said it was reviewing possibilities.


The virus was first found in a monkey in the Zika forest near Lake Victoria, Uganda, in 1947, and has historically occurred in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. But there is little scientific data on it and it is unclear why it might be causing microcephaly in Brazil.

Laura Rodrigues of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said it was possible the disease could be evolving.

If the epidemic was still going on in August, when Brazil is due to host the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, then pregnant women should either stay away or be obsessive about covering up against mosquito bites, she said.

The WHO advised pregnant women planning to travel to areas where Zika is circulating to consult a healthcare provider before traveling and on return.

The clinical symptoms of Zika are usually mild and often similar to dengue, a fever which is transmitted by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito, leading to fears that Zika will spread into all parts of the world where dengue is commonplace.

More than one-third of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of dengue infection, in a band stretching through Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

Zika’s rapid spread, to 21 countries and territories in the Americas since May 2015, is due to the prevalence of Aedes aegypti and a lack of immunity among the population, the WHO said in a statement.


Like rubella, which also causes mild symptoms but can lead to birth defects, health experts believe a vaccine is needed to protect girls before they reach child-bearing age.

Evidence about other transmission routes, apart from mosquito bites, is limited.

“Zika has been isolated in human semen, and one case of possible person-to-person sexual transmission has been described. However, more evidence is needed to confirm whether sexual contact is a means of Zika transmission,” the WHO said.

While a causal link between Zika and microcephaly has not yet been definitively proven, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the circumstantial evidence was “suggestive and extremely worrisome”.

In addition to finding a vaccine and potential drugs to fight Zika, some scientists are also planning to take the fight to the mosquitoes that carry the disease.

Oxitec, the UK subsidiary of U.S. synthetic biology company Intrexon, hopes to deploy a self-limiting genetically modified strain of insects to compete with normal Aedes aegypti.

Oxitec says its proprietary OX513A mosquito succeeded in reducing wild larvae of the Aedes mosquito by 82 percent in an area of Brazil where 25 million of the transgenic insects were released between April and November. Authorities reported a big drop in dengue cases in the area

The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil, is likely to spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

Source: Zika virus set to spread across Americas, spurring vaccine hunt | Reuters

Dr. Gerd Lindner and Dr. Beren Ataç

Desmond  just sent me an e-mail with the below summary of an interview that he conducted with Dr. Gerd Lindner (who works with Dr. Roland Lauster) and his PhD candidate student (now doctor?) Beren Ataç at the recent WCHRS2014 in South Korea.  At the end of this post, I have embedded the video of Dr. Ataç’s presentation that was also filmed by Desmond.

FYI — Dr. Ataç’s Phd thesis was titled: “Development of a vascularized human hair follicle equivalent” and her mentors for that project included Dr. Gerd Lindner and Dr. Roland Lauster.

From Desmond:

Here’s my recount of the discussion I had with Dr Linder & Dr Atac about their work.

Firstly, it is with great excitement to mention that their work into regeneration of a hair follicle did not stop in 2010 after their ground breaking paper was published but rather continued at a remarkable pace with significant breakthroughs being made and some patents filed. Their presentation at the congress gave a great insight into how far along they actually are. It is also important to mention that their lab is subdivided into several teams, each working on regenerating a particular organ of the body such as the liver, kidney and of course the hair follicle.

Their aim is to have at least 10 organ models that are of human origin in order to provide a much better prediction of how a drug would perform in a clinical trial compared to animal studies. A FDA study showed that more than 92% of substances tested in animals show false negative results, and have to be excluded from use in/on humans because of toxic effects. They gave a few examples of where investigational drugs showed to be safe in animal studies but proved to be fatal in human subjects. Tegenero trial being an example.

The hair follicle team (Dr Lindner, Lauster & Atac) have FOUR goals:

1) To create a microchip system where many organs thrive.

2) To create a human hair follicle model that allows rapid screening of compounds that may have an impact on hair regeneration or removal! This may be performed on a single follicle or on a follicle embedded in an engineered full thickness skin equivalent

3) To engineer neopapillae (ECM coated dermal papilla cell spheroids) that will be transplantable into human subjects for patients suffering from Androgenetic Alopecia.

4) and ultimately, to have personalised chips of all genetic backgrounds to give a full picture of pharmacokinetics & pharmacodynamics of an investigational drug.

As for what they have achieved so far:

1) In 2010: Their original paper was published which we are well aware of.

2) In 2011: They bioengineered “human micro-hair follicles” in vitro. These micro-follicles displayed key characteristics of human vellus-like hair follicles. Mesenchymal, ectodermal and neuro-ectodermal originated primary cells from dissected human hair follicles were isolated and expanded. Dermal papilla fibroblasts were kept under low adherent culture conditions (along the same line as the EVAL scaffolds of the Taiwanese that we came across) resulting in the formation of dermal papilla-like aggregates. They then forced keratinocytes and melanocytes to attach to these dermal papilla spheres to allow further follicular development. The result was a self-organizing micro-organoid made up of separate segments enclosed by extracellular matrix membranes, sheath formations and a hair shaft–like fiber. Central ECM proteins and defined mesenchymal and epithelial markers were expressed. Furthermore, inner root sheath formation was found to be present and the melanocyte markers “p-Mel17”, “c-kit” and “TRP-1” were expressed in the supra-papillary region of the microfollicle. These results showed that the de novo formation of human microfollicles in vitro is possible and contains all the basic hair follicle like characteristics.

At this point they realised that after the addition of keratinocytes and melanocytes, the self-organizing micro-organoids followed a stringent pattern of follicular-like formation by generating polarized segments, sheath formations and the production of a hair shaft-like fiber. But the bio-engineered hairs were vellus-like and didn’t turn terminal. This is most probably due to lack of nutrient and oxygen supply during cell culture but may also be caused by an altered gene expression, a problem that Dr Jahoda’s team faced a few years later with their 3D hanging drop spheroid cultures.

Since then, they transferred their culturing method to a perfused bioreactor system and finally came to the conclusion that the best way to improve the microfollicle development is by also co-culturing endothelial cells with the hair follicle which turn into micro-blood vessels and are normally feeding the hair follicles the necessary oxygen, hormones and nutrients. In fact, our hair follicles are very well vascularised, and one can see where they are coming from.

3) So in 2013, they went at it again. They again used an ultra-low adherent attachment conditions. The low-adherent surface which is polycarbonate-based mimics mesenchymal condensation during embryonic development. Under these conditions, DP cells self-aggregate and are then coated with keratinocytes, melanocytes and endothelial cells. After 48 hours the newly formed micro-follicles are placed in a multi-organ chip platform to grow. They also used a new 3D matrix environment to enhance gene expression. These micro-follicles were cultured for 14 days, which showed further improvements in hair follicle-like expressions as you’ll see in the presentation.

So, I guess although they haven’t managed to completely replicate a fully functional (terminal) hair follicle, these follicles look very promising indeed. Some may even call it the endgame (of chess), where there are very few pieces left to play. Exciting times indeed and what a wonderful team of individuals working on such a revolutionary project. The Lauster team as we know them is made up of some great minds: Dr Gerd Lindner and Beren Atac to name a few. I wish them all the very best and I’m sure they’ll have very exciting news to share with the world in a few years.

Source: June | 2014 | The End of Hair Loss and Balding by 2020

Getting too little sleep during the week can increase some risk factors for diabetes, but sleeping late on weekends might help improve the picture, a small U.S. study suggests.

Researchers conducted a sleep experiment with 19 healthy young men and found just four nights of sleep deprivation were linked to changes in their blood suggesting their bodies weren’t handling sugar as well as usual.

But then, when they let the men get extra sleep for the next two nights, their blood tests returned to normal, countering the effect of the short-term sleep deprivation.

“It gives us some hope that if there is no way to extend sleep during the week, people should try very hard to protect their sleep when they do get an opportunity to sleep in and sleep as much as possible to pay back the sleep debt,” said lead study author Josaine Broussard of the University of Colorado Boulder.

The study doesn’t prove sleeping late every weekend can counter the ill effects of insufficient rest every other night of the week, Broussard cautioned.

And it doesn’t prove that catching up on sleep will prevent diabetes.

“We don’t know if people can recover if the behavior is repeated every week,” Broussard added by email. “It is likely though that if any group of people suffer from sleep loss, getting extra sleep will be beneficial.”

To assess the impact of sleep on diabetes risk, Broussard and colleagues focused on what’s known as insulin sensitivity, or the body’s ability to use the hormone insulin to regulate blood sugar. Impaired insulin sensitivity is one risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which is associated with age and obesity and happens when the body can’t properly convert blood sugar into energy.

The researchers did two brief sleep experiments. On one occasion, the volunteers were permitted just 4.5 hours of rest for four nights, followed by two evenings of extended sleep that amounted to 9.7 hours on average. On another occasion, the same men were allowed to sleep 8.5 hours for four nights.

After the four nights of sleep deprivation, the volunteers’ insulin sensitivity had fallen by 23 percent and their bodies had started to produce extra insulin. But when researchers checked again after two nights of extended rest, the men’s insulin sensitivity, and the amount of insulin their bodies produced, had returned to normal, mirroring what was seen during the portion of the experiment when the volunteers consistently got a good nights’ rest.

The volunteers were given a calorie-controlled diet to limit the potential for their food and drink choices to influence the outcomes. In the real world, when people don’t get enough sleep they tend to overeat, which may limit how much results from this lab experiment might happen in reality, the authors note in a report scheduled for publication in the journal Diabetes Care.

“The results from the present study are unlikely to be fully reflective of what may occur in persons who are older, overweight or obese, or have other potent risk factors for diabetes,” said James Gangwisch, a researcher at Columbia University who wasn’t involved in the study.

Chronically sleep-deprived people are more likely to develop other health problems, though, ranging from obesity to high blood pressure to cognitive deficits, the study authors point out.

“By catching up on sleep on the weekends, people are reducing average extent and severity of the effects of sleep deprivation,” Gangwisch added by email. “Ideally, we would all get sufficient sleep on a nightly basis.”

Getting too little sleep during the week can increase some risk factors for diabetes, but sleeping late on weekends might help improve the picture, a small U.S. study suggests.

Source: Sleeping in on weekends may help reduce diabetes risk | Reuters

Early markers of heart disease are worse with depressive symptoms, but that association was lessened or eliminated with regular physical activity, an observational study showed.

Higher Beck Depression Inventory-II scores correlated with more inflammation as indicated by C-reactive protein levels (P<0.001), more oxidative stress assessed by lower antioxidant glutathione (P<0.001), and poorer vascular function measured by both the augmentation index and subendocardial viability ratio (P=0.008 and P=0.001).

Those associations persisted through adjustment for a number of variables, including weight, age, and some cardiovascular risk factors, Arshed A. Quyyumi, MD, of Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute in Atlanta, and colleagues reported in a research letter in the Jan. 19 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

But getting the recommended level of physical activity interacted significantly with depressive symptom scores for inflammation and cardiac function.

“Thus, vascular stiffening and systemic inflammation that accompany worsening depressive symptoms were more pronounced in sedentary subjects, and these relationships were attenuated in subjects engaged in regular moderate to vigorous physical activity,” the researchers wrote.

“Our findings highlight potential mechanisms by which depressive disorders are linked to cardiovascular disease risk, and support the routine assessment of depressive symptoms to improve cardiovascular disease risk stratification,” they concluded. Physical exercise appears to prevent the adverse cardiovascular consequences of depression, but these findings need to be confirmed in a randomized trial.”

Their study included 965 individuals (median age 49) free of heart disease, cerebrovascular, or peripheral arterial disease at baseline who hadn’t previously been diagnosed with any affective, psychotic, or anxiety disorder.

Activity trims inflammation and cardiac function associations

Source: Could Exercise Shut Down Heart Effects of Depression? | Medpage Today

A clinicaPatricia Simpson l trial will use freeze-dried poop pills to determine whether or not a fecal transplant can help obese patients lose weight.

Fecal transplants are not as disgusting as one might imagine they’d be — they actually involve taking pills filled with freeze-dried fecal matter. Taking these pills can help change the communty of organisms living inside the gut, known as a microbiome, and subsequently help fight infections. Research has also shown giving fecal transplants from obese patients to slim patients could help them gain weight. But is the opposite true?

Dr. Elaine Yu, an assistant professor and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, hopes so. In a clinical trial, she’s giving 20 obese patients the pills, filled with fecal matter from healthy-weight individuals in order to see how their microbiomes change. “We have no idea what the result will be,” Yu told Ars Technica. But if all goes as planned, the fecal transplants will change not only the patients weights, but also their lean and fat body mass as well as insulin sensitivity — a major contributor to obesity.


Over the course of 12 weeks, half of the patients will receive a dose of the freeze-dried poop, with the others receiving a placebo pill. The researchers will monitor their progress over the next year, or beyond, depending on how successful their trial is. And the patients will not be on any restrictive diet; they’re expected to continue their current exercise and dietary habits. Fecal samples will also be collected to study the microbiomes of each patient.

Though fecal transplants have been used to alter gut microbiomes before, The New York Times reports the real challenge behind the process was creating suitable capsules for the fecal matter. This is where nonprofit company OpenBiome stepped in and created a capsule that can dissolve in the small intestine, while remaining solid in room temperature. This is important because feces typically dissolves in capsules.

The microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms and can weigh over 4 pounds. Up to two-thirds of a person’s microbiota is unique to their own bodies, meaning an obese person’s microbiome has a completely different composition than a lean person’s. The microbiome is mostly found in the intestines, where it helps the immune system fight off infections, helps the digestive system handle the food we eat, and produces vitamins B and K. As we grow up, so does our microbiome — babies, who are sterile within the uterus, immediately begin developing their own microbiomes from the air they breathe and the food they eat once they’re birthed.

Right now, Yu and her team hope to find another way to combat obesity. If their trial proves successful, Yu told Ars Technica that the team would be able to do all of the detail-oriented work in order to determine which microbial communities are affected — this would in turn provide the information for more targeted treatments in the gut.

Source: Fecal Transplant: Freeze-Dried Poop Capsules May Help Fight Obesity By Changing Your Gut Microbiota

Otzi the Iceman, a famously well-preserved Copper Age man found in the Alps in 1991, has given researchers a lot of insight into how our ancestors lived. The long-dead man’s clothing, tools, manner of death, and even tattoos have given us a peek at how life was 5,300 years ago – or how it was for Otzi, anyway.

Now, 25 years later, Otzi has given scientists a new insight into early human life: The bacteria in his gut help confirm an ancient, intimate connection between humans and a particular kind of microbe. This connection is so strong that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori can be used to trace ancient human migrations, telling scientists where and when humans from different parts of the world became intimately involved.

Otzi has given scientists the oldest-ever H. pylori evidence to investigate. In a study published Thursday in Science, researchers led by the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano’s Frank Maixner report the successful detection and analysis of the ancient mummy’s gut microbes.

Researchers have known for some time that H. pylori and humans have a long and storied history, probably stretching back at least 100,000 years. The bacterium only infects humans, and in modern times, it does so prolifically: Strains of it are found in the guts of around half the people alive today.

H. pylori strains are known to mix when they come into close contact for a significant period of time: When couples pair up, when children play together, and so on. The H. pylori strains found today are all mixtures of ancestral strains, created as humans came together from disparate parts of the globe. And that means we can use these bacteria to trace migration in much the same way that we can use genomic analysis to see when different groups of people interbred. The quickly evolving, mutation-prone bacteria diverge from one another so quickly that the differences between individual strains are many and minute, allowing for a high-resolution look at human transit.

The new study doesn’t provide any earth-shattering insight – no hitherto unknown human migrations have been revealed – but it does represent a major technological feat. Many bacteria can be found in well-preserved bodily tissues like bone, but H. pylori lives only in the gut. Otzi may have been incredibly well mummified in his icy grave, but his delicate stomach lining is long gone.

So the group of researchers took the long way round: They sequenced the DNA of the entire stomach, then weeded out everything but the H. pylori. 

“It’s a really huge amount of data, in our case it was originally hundreds of gigabytes,” study author Thomas Rattei of the University of Vienna said during a press conference held on Wednesday. “We had to separate the Heliobactor bacteria from other bacteria, and this was like searching for a needle in a haystack.”

Sebastian Suerbaum, a microbiologist at Hannover Medical School who wasn’t involved in the most recent study, told The Post that the technological accomplishment was impressive. “I did not think it was possible to do this from Otzi or even from younger mummies, because they’ve been dead so long and it’s so fragile, the bacteria,” Suerbaum said. “I think this may be a very unique opportunity.”

Or, in the words of study author Yoshan Moodley of the University of Venda, “This will, like, never happen again.”

In examining the 5,300 year old H. pylori DNA, the researchers noted strong similarities to the bacterial strains seen in modern day Central and South Asia, as opposed to those found in Europe. This doesn’t mean Otzi came from Asia all the way over to the Alps, the researchers explained: Modern day Europeans have a mixture of H. pylori with African origins and Asian strains, and it seems likely that this mixture occurred after Otzi’s lifetime, as a result of a later wave of migration out of Northern Africa.

Suerbaum, who did some of the earliest work using modern H. pylori to infer human migration patterns, said it was nice to see confirmation of previous research using actual ancient bacteria.

“It’s a study of one, of course,” Suerbaum said. As useful as Otzi is as a glimpse into the past, any work done on him is cursed with irreproducibility. There simply aren’t enough perfectly mummified humans from such an early period laying around waiting to be studied for researchers to confirm their conclusions. “But I think it provides a nice, solid data point. We have this person found in a precise location at this precise time with this precise strain,” Suerbaum said.

The researchers found one other point of interest: Otzi’s gut seems to have held a virulent strain of the bacteria – one that could potentially cause stomach upset or even ulcers – and he has protein markers associated with an immune response to the bug. Because Otzi’s stomach is long gone, the researchers can’t say for certain whether or not he was experiencing symptoms. But considering the fact that he died with an arrowhead in his shoulder, the possible tummy ache wouldn’t have been high on Otzi’s list of concerns.

Helicobacter pylori helps tell humanity’s story.

Source: Gut bacteria from Otzi the Iceman reveal our intimate ties to one microbe – The Washington Post

Stereotyping is a necessary evil. Stereotyping simplifies complex information so our brains can easily understand it, reducing the amount of processing we go through when seeing or meeting new people That said, it also causes us to generalize. If we see one hipster drinking PBR and wearing an “Everyone loves Grandpa!” T-shirt, our brain is like, #YesAllHipsters.

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When it comes to lesbians, I was curious if the stereotypes had a basis in reality, partly because I am a former gym teacher who drives a truck and loves cats and has a wardrobe that’s 90 percent flannel. I’ve probed the data to see if the old lines about U-Hauling, lesbian bed death and others had any statistical sway. The results were surprising.

1. U-Hauling.

The most common lesbian joke is often attributed to comedian Lea Delaria, who once remarked: “What does a lesbian bring on a second date? A U-Haul.” This plays into the notion that queer women tend to move in together at lightning-fast speeds. While there are no significant statistics comparing the cohabitation speeds of queer vs. straight women, there is some science that pinpoints why a lesbian couple might move in together sooner than a hetero couple. Some of these reasons have to do with societal norms, financial benefits and hormones.

“U-hauling happens for two reasons,” explains clinical psychologist Lauren Costine at AfterEllen. “Biologically our brains are wired for a relationships and connection. We emit much more oxytocin than men. Oxytocin is a hormone women emit when they’re falling in love, having sex, or breastfeeding. It’s biological encouragement to attach. It feels so good that for some women, in this case lesbians, they can’t get enough. Since there’s two women, there’s twice as much oxytocin floating around.”

And we all know what happens when you leave oxytocin floating around: trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond.

2. Processing.

Another oft-recited stereotype is that lesbians are known to process everything to death. Q: How many lesbians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A: I don’t know. Should we use LEDs? What wattage? Are these recyclable? Maybe this is a sign we should be lowering our carbon footprint. Let’s make a pro and con list of solar panel options and revisit this next year.

Processing is the tendency to overanalyze and overdiscuss every aspect that can be analyzed or discussed. When it comes to relationships, it turns out this works in lesbians’ favor. According to a 12-year study by John Gottman of the University of Washington and Robert Levenson of the UC Berkeley, gay and lesbian couples are excellent communicators who use fewer “controlling, hostile emotional tactics” when fighting, such as belligerence, domineering, and fear. “The difference on these ‘control’ related emotions suggests that fairness and power-sharing between the partners is more important and more common in gay and lesbian relationships than in straight ones,” Gottman explained.

3. Lesbian bed death.

The dreaded “bed death,” or the notion that lesbians in committed relationships stop having sex with each other, is a touchy topic. According to Karen Blair, a professor at St. Francis Xavier University and a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, only 15 percent of lesbian couples engage in sex more than twice a week, compared to 50 percent or more of other comparison groups (straight couples and gay men).

But! While it’s true that lesbians have less frequent sex than their straight counterparts, lesbian sex lasts far longer:

“Women in same-sex relationships reported significantly longer durations of sexual encounters than individuals in all three comparison groups, with their median duration falling within the 30 to 45 minute range, compared to the 15 to 30 minute range most commonly reported by participants in other types of relationships.” Also, almost 10 percent of lesbians get it on for more than two hours, compared to 1.9 percent of straight couples.

“Furthermore,” Blair explains, “very few women in same-sex relationships reported very brief sexual encounters, possibly providing a hint as to why their sexual frequency numbers tend to be lower than the other three groups.”

4. Lesbians know how to please their partners.

No doubt partially due to lesbians’ excellent communication skills and lengthy lap-nap sessions, lesbians have more orgasms than straight and bi women. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine polled 1,497 men and 1,353 women who’d been sexually active within the past year. Participants were asked to state their gender, sexual orientation and the percentage of time they orgasmed “with a familiar partner.”

Researchers found that heterosexual women reported orgasming just 61.6 percent of the time, and bisexual women following close behind with 58 percent. Lesbians, however, reported coming 74.7 percent of the sexytime.

Way to bring your gAy game, wimmin.

5. The L Word: Lesbians love Leisha.

According to data culled from its four million users, online dating site OkCupid revealed in a survey that “The L Word” was not only the most common phrase used on lesbians’ profiles, it was used so frequently it didn’t even fit on the graph relative to the amount of times lesbians used it. Analysts had to shrink it down to fit OkC’s template. Love it or hate it, if you like ladies, you probably watched the Showtime series that aired from 2004 to 2009. More than once.

Also unsurprising is the prevalence of Tegan and Sara and Ani DiFranco mentions, as well as cult fave TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which featured one of the first lesbian kiss scenes on U.S. television.

6. Lesbians are kinkier and druggier.

According to OkCupid data again, the attributes lesbians used to describe themselves most often were artsy, adventurous, kinky, and almost half said they were “into drugs.”

Curiously, straight women were more “into sports” (so there goes that lesbian stereotype?), as well as optimistic and far more likely to identify as religious.

In addition to drugs, lesbians and bisexuals tend to drink more alcohol than straight women. Though this rate has been declining in the past two decades, substance abuse is still a big issue when it comes to overall health (especially because queer women are less likely to have insurance and visit doctors regularly).

7. Lesbians reject cultural norms and dominant beauty standards.

Research has shown that lesbians tend to have better body images than straight women, possibly because they have a broader definition than the general public of what’s beautiful and sexy. (This also contributes to queer women having better sex, as the better one feels about one’s body, the more enjoyable sex is.) Some researchers posit that because dating a same-sex partner is already a move away from the mainstream, lesbians would also reject cultural messages about the “ideal” female body. Feminist values, which many lesbians ascribe to, also play into lesbians’ tendency to enjoy, celebrate and accept more body diversity than their straight counterparts.

Take a wild guess as to who has more orgasms, straight women or lesbians?

Source: 7 Lesbian Stereotypes That Are Actually True—and the Surprising Reasons Why | Alternet

Obama: Time to Disarm Americans so they’ll die faster, Islamists, gun control,

Source: Obama: Time to Disarm Americans so they’ll die faster

A $5 million lawsuit against Apple seeks to hold the company responsible for making the still-perfectly good iPhone 4s obsolete.

The perpetrator, according to the lawsuit, is a misleading and harmful iOS software update, which Apple claimed would improve performance and security, in addition to other alluring improvements, on all devices, Apple Insider reported.

And they did this despite full knowledge that the iOS 9 update would likely cause irreversible problems for smartphone users still clinging to the iPhone 4s.

This dirty trick is dubbed “planned obsolescence,” a fancy term that means the company purposefully made their older hardware unusable.

According to Tech Insider, the lawsuit has been filed by a Brooklyn man named Chaim Lerman, but any disgruntled iPhone 4s user from New York can join in if they fell for the marketing campaign and updated their old smartphones with the new iOS upgrade. So far, 100 people have joined in.

The new iOS was released in June of this year, and according to the lawsuit, Apple told its customers that the operating system would run on older devices, including the iPhone 4s and iPad 2. This was good news to people who are quite happy to hold onto older hardware, rather than run to their local Apple store every year to buy the shiniest and newest device.

But contrary to advertisements, the software “significantly slowed down” the iPhone 4s. The company allegedly conducted “internal testing” and knew ahead of time that the upgrade would spell the end for iPhone 4s.

Regardless of this knowledge, they still touted the upgrade as beneficial to all devices and the company’s ads, website, and the update page for the new iOS didn’t warn anyone that old hardware may become defunct as a result of the upgrade.

So what exactly does the lawsuit refer to when it talks about this “planned obsolescence?” What was the damage done?

The lawsuit claims that the software update slowed down phones’ performance to a crawl, and to the point that people could no longer happily use the devices every day. After iOS 9 was installed, apps slowed down, the touchscreen lagged, overall performance suffered, and in some cases, the iPhone 4s froze or crash.

And here’s the kicker: unhappy users, eager to restore their phone to its former glory rather than slog to the store and get a new one, couldn’t take back the damaging update.

Security protocols are strict and users aren’t allowed to downgrade back to an previous version. This left people with a choice: stick with a device that doesn’t work that well anymore, or shell out hundreds of dollars for a replacement. And iPhone users will usually buy a the latest iPhone when the old one becomes obsolete rather than switch to another platform. They’ve already invested money in things like apps.

Apple is actually the only smartphone company that continually upgrades its past devices. But though older phones can run the latest software, some features must be removed in order for the old device and new-fangled software to be compatible. As the Insider put it: “by definition, next-generation software is limited in its support of last-generation hardware.”

But this lawsuit argues that the company has a responsibility to protect its consumers, particularly those who don’t necessarily keep up with the seemingly endless changes in technology.

They’ve faced a similar lawsuit before, when in 2011 users complained that iOS 4 turned iPhone 3G into “iBricks.” That case was thrown out. It’s not clear if there is still time for unhappy iPhone 4s owners to join in the lawsuit.

A $5 million lawsuit against Apple seeks to hold the company responsible for making the still-perfectly good iPhone 4s obsolete. The perpetrator, according to

Source: Lawsuit Rats Out Apple’s Dirty Tricks: Did Company Make iPhone 4s Obsolete With iOS Upgrade?

Source: College Professor Allegedly Told Teaching Assistants To Sleep With – News aggregator IdealMedia – all the top stories

The total number of people using drugs in Portugal has actually fallen by more than a third since the country began focusing on treatment programs instead of punishment. In 2001, critics worried that drug addiction rates would skyrocket, but not only have they come down, heroin addiction rates have been cut in half. HIV infections, which are spread by shared needles, have also been cut in half, while the number of drug-related deaths has been cut by 75%. RELATED: Massachusetts Cops Decide Heroin Addicts Will Be Helped With Rehab, Not Arrested Under the decriminalization law, users are allowed to possess a 10-day supply of illicit drugs — anything from marijuana to heroin – and those who have more are sent before a three-person drug commission. The panel decides on a fine or treatment, but opts for treatment in four out of every five cases. About 25 countries have reduced criminal penalties for drug use since Portugal changed its approach on illicit drugs from a criminal matter to one of public health.

Source: 14 Years After Decriminalizing Heroin, Here’s What Portugal Looks Like – Good News Network

What Deters is describing is the basic function of every police department across the country. Everyone from the street cops to the mayor depends on drivers being extorted for traffic violations. It’s what pays their salaries.

Arlington Heights, OH — For years, locals knew that the stretch of road running through the village of Arlington Heights was notorious for police officers separating motorists from their money.

Neighboring officials even went so far as to label the town a “speed trap.” In spite of being the smallest community in the county, the village of Arlington Heights had the busiest court in the region and even the state – thanks to the Arlington Heights police department and their disreputable speed trap.

According to a 2007 report from the Enquirer, the overwhelming majority of cases (93%) that pass through court in Arlington Heights, are for traffic fines alone.

Despite issuing and collecting a record number of traffic fines, the money from those fines never found its way to the village bank account. The clerk of courts and the deputy clerk of courts, with the help of the ticket writing cops, enriched themselves to the tune of $260,000 before they were finally caught in October.

Even thought he was met with backlash from the Arlington Heights Police department, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who called for the dissolution of the village in 2012, said that referring to the village as a “speed trap” is appropriate.

“Basically, they were setting up speed traps on I-75 to fund the municipal workings of that village – which they then stole,” he said. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something off about a village that’s maybe a mile long setting up speed traps to raise money that then is used to fund a bunch of public employees. It just rubs me the wrong way.”

What Deters is describing is the basic function of every police department across the country. Everyone from the street cops to the mayor depends on drivers being extorted for traffic violations. It’s what pays their salaries.

Luckily for all the residents of Hamilton County, on Friday, the Arlington Heights police department was disbanded as a result of their years of revenue collection for criminals.

With the revenue collection arm now disolved, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office will begin patrolling the tiny village.

“You get to a point where it just doesn’t make sense anymore,” Deters said. “I think they’ve taken a hard look at what they’re doing out there, and if they’re letting the sheriff do it now, they made the right call.”

Source: “Speed Trap Town” Dissolves Entire Police Dept After Years of Officials Getting Rich from Fines | Alternet

Potassium Is Like Sex and Money

Hughes explains that potassium rich foods generate alkali and that bone is the great reservoir for the storage of alkali. Alkali is needed to counteract acid produced by protein rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish or dairy products. She adds that if the body gets more acid than it can excrete, it breaks down bone to add alkali to the system. If this situation continues over a long period of time, bone loss can lead to osteoporosis and fractures. The article in Nutrition Action reminded me of a column I’d written years ago about Dr. David Young, Professor of Physiology at the University of Mississippi. He hit a home run when he said, “Potassium is like sex and money. You can never get too much!” This is good news for me. Thank God, there are more ways to consume potassium than eating a cup of spinach. I’d die for roast beef and potatoes, both loaded with potassium, especially when you eat the skin of the potato. You can also get 1,200 milligrams of potassium by drinking three glasses of milk. A banana contains 450 mg and there’s potassium in citrus fruits, nuts and green leafy vegetables.

Source: Potassium Is Like Sex and Money

Seventy years ago this year World War II came to an end. Alongside the collective sigh of relief in Allied countries that the most brutal war humanity had ever witnessed was over, there was as well a sense of disbelief at the sight of the concentration camps, the existence of which to be sure had been well-known to the Allies.

Humanity had not witnessed anything resembling the Holocaust. A systematic, rational, industrial plan designed to eliminate completely an entire people from the face of the earth, the Holocaust was to become an exceptional phenomenon in History. Carried out by one of the most cultured nations the world had ever known, the Holocaust would turn out to be a distinctive story of genocide.

Within this unique event, unique individuals emerged who were willing to risk their lives in order to save the life of a Jew. The most well-known of them all was Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat, who is credited with having saved, directly and indirectly, the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Hungary. To be sure, there were many others. Wallenberg in a sense was primus inter pares, first among equals. His fate remains a mystery to this day. At the end of the war he was taken by Soviet forces never to be seen again.

Alongside these singular individuals, there was a singular nation that, as a collective endeavor, saved most of its Jews: Denmark.

In a sense, the role played by Denmark was distinctive, different from anything else known to us during the Holocaust.

To begin with, contrary to what happened in other countries, Denmark’s populace acted collectively, spontaneously and in an organized manner in order to save its eight thousand Jewish compatriots.

Further, the person to whom the surviving Jews of Denmark owed their lives, apart from the Danish people, was a German official, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, who revealed to the Jewish community his government’s plan to deport the Danish Jews to concentration camps. This was on the 28th of September 1943. Indeed, faced with disbelief on the part of the Jews, Duckwitz insisted that his information was true and that he was not trying to deceive them.

Also, in an unprecedented manner in those years, Danish fishermen ferried seven thousand and two hundred Jews to Sweden in a coordinated action that saved the lives of most of Denmark’s Jews.

Still, almost five hundred Jews were sent to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Czechoslovakia. However, all of those Jews, but fifty one of them, survived the Holocaust as well due largely to the Danish representations to Germany, enquiring for the well-being of the deported Jews.

The Danish case proved that a collective, spontaneous and organized endeavor aimed at saving Jews could be successful, even in the face of German might and determination.

True, on the whole, the attitude displayed by Nazi Germany toward Denmark was more benevolent than the attitude shown to most other nations in Europe. Indeed, German occupation in Denmark was relatively mild (in Nazi terms).

Nevertheless, when it came to the Jews of Denmark, Germany was no less virulent in its determination to eliminate them, once the decision was taken, than it was in other cases throughout Europe and beyond. This is where the role of Denmark’s non-Jewish population becomes so exceptional, and indeed so crucial. Without them, the Danish Jews would have perished as other Jews elsewhere did.

There were many cases of individuals who tried to save Jews during the Holocaust. These were individual examples of heroism. The Danish case is singular in that it was a collective, nation-wide effort.

There have been a few myths attached to the Danish story. For instance it has been said that Denmark’s king wore a yellow Star of David badge in public to identify himself with Jews who were compelled to wear such a badge to distinguish them from the non-Jewish population by the German occupying forces. This is apparently untrue. It never happened, so far as we know.

Further, some of the Danish fishermen who actually conveyed Jews to safety in Sweden were apparently paid to do so.

Notwithstanding the myths and partial truths, Denmark’s case is still unique in the context of the Holocaust.

In the darkest hour in Jewish history, indeed in human history, the people of Denmark kept a candle of dignity alight, a candle which can be seen in the distance today, seventy years after the end of World War II, as clearly as it was then

– See more at:

Source: History News Network | Only One Occupied Country in Europe Rose to the Defense of Jews During World War II.

Model and actress Pamela Anderson will appear on the cover of the final nude issue of Playboy, her 14th cover for the magazine.

Source: Pamela Anderson’s Playboy covers –

A growing number of women and men say they are bisexual, according to the latest national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As awareness about bisexuality has grown over the years, it could be getting easier for people to label themselves as bisexual, said Debby Herbenick, associate professor at Indiana University and author of the book “Sex Made Easy,” who was not involved in the study.

Researchers asked more than 9,000 people in the United States age 18 to 44 about the types of sexual experiences they have had, whether they are attracted to the same or opposite sex and whether they identify as being straight, gay/lesbian or bisexual. Interviews were conducted between 2011 and 2013 as part of the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth.

Many of the findings about sexual behavior, attraction and orientation were similar between the current survey and the previous (2006-2010) family growth survey. Similar to previous surveys the group conducted, 1.3% of women and 1.9% of men said they were homosexual.

However a few trends stood out. More women reported having had sexual contact with other women: 17.4% in the current survey compared with 14.2% in the 2006-2010 survey. And higher numbers of both women and men identified as bisexual, 5.5% of women and 2% of men, compared with 3.9% and 1.2% respectively in the last survey.

“It’s certainly not a new idea that women and men may be attracted to more than gender,” Herbenick said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy orientation to adopt. Women and men who self-identify as bisexual experience stigma not just from heterosexuals but also homosexuals,” she said.

The finding that women were more likely than men to say they were bisexual is consistent with what previous studies have found, said Casey E. Copen, demographer at the CDC National Center for Health Statistics and lead author of the study, which was published on Thursday.

Women were also more likely than men to report having same-sex sexual contact. Compared with 17.4% of women, only 6.2% of men said they had ever had this activity.

However, as Copen noted, the survey could have given women more opportunity than men to report same-sex sexual contact. For example, women were asked if they have engaged in oral sex or any other sexual experience with another woman, whereas men were asked specifically whether they have engaged in oral or anal sex with another man.

The wording of questions in the survey could also be part of the reason for the low number of men who said they were gay, Copen said. Other surveys have found that closer to 4% to 6% say they are gay, a higher proportion than the 1.9% in the current survey.

Among women who reported being lesbian, the rate of 1.3% is consistent with other surveys. Over the last several decades, fewer women have been saying they are lesbian and more report being bisexual, similar to what the current study found, Herbenick said.

There is high correspondence between how survey participants identified themselves — whether straight, gay/lesbian or bisexual — and the sexual attractions and behaviors they reported, Copen said. For example, among those who labeled themselves heterosexual, only 12.6% of women and 2.8% of men had had sexual contact with the same sex.

“You do expect some differences, because for some people … they may or may not have had the experiences they’re contemplating, [especially] if they’re younger,” Copen said.

The survey found some differences between women of different racial groups. Only 11.2% of Hispanic women have engaged in same-sex sexual contact compared with 19.6% of white women and 19.4% of black women.

The next survey, covering 2014 and 2015, will be coming out this fall, Copen said. These surveys are important to allow researchers “to separate out and study these categories, like lesbian and bisexual women and gay and bisexual men, because they all have different health outcomes and different levels of access to health care,” she said.

Understanding trends in sexual behavior and orientation can help health groups and programs reach at-risk populations, Herbenick said. For example, putting information about sexually transmitted infections in a gay bar may only reach men who identify as being gay, and miss men who have sex with men but do not identify as being gay.

“There are real effects when you find out what people are doing sexually that can translate into safer sex, sex education, (and) informing doctors and nurses (about) what people are doing so they can talk with them in more informed and compassionate ways,” Herbenick said.


Source: Bisexuality on the rise, says new U.S. survey –

Don’t pay too much attention to the raw numbers. Focus instead on what the trends mean for you.

Source: Here’s How Much The Average American Made Last Year, by Age and Sex — The Motley Fool

Antibiotics make C. diff infection easier because of their effects on bile acid and bacteria living in the gut, according to new research.

Bacteria in the gut are involved in many of the body’s functions, from the creation of neurons in the brain to regulating chemicals that help break food down.

Scientists at North Carolina State University found in experiments with mice that a single course of antibiotic treatment can open a window for Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, to thrive because bacteria responsible for altering bile acid were killed off, according to a new study.


Primary bile acids are made in the liver from cholesterol to aid in digestion and fat absorption, and in controlling lipoprotein, glucose, drug, and energy metabolism. The acids travel through the intestinal tract to the large intestine, where other bacteria convert them to secondary bile acids. These secondary acids inhibit the growth, and infection by, C. diff.

“These findings are a first step in understanding how the gut microbiota regulates bile acids throughout the intestine,” said Casey Theriot, an assistant professor of infectious disease at North Carolina State, in a press release. “Hopefully they will aid the development of future therapies for C. difficile infection and other metabolically relevant disorders such as obesity and diabetes.”

In the study, published in the journal mSphere, the scientists identified 26 primary and secondary bile acids in mice, defining their levels before and after treatment with an antibiotic.

The scientists then added C. diff spores to concentrations of the acids, finding primary bile acids allow spores to germinate, regardless of antibiotic treatment, which included the broad-spectrum antibiotics cefoperazone, clindamycin and vancomycin.

When the spores passed into concentrations that mimicked the large intestines of mice, altered secondary bile stopped C. diff from growing. When bacteria that turn primary bile acids into secondary acids had been killed during antibiotic treatment, C. diff was able to grow.

Scientists said the experiments showing the importance of gut bacteria to preventing at least one bacterial infection — and how antibiotics can prevent the inhibition of its growth — may help guide future research into preventing the infections.

Source: Antibiotics promote C. diff infection by killing gut bacteria –

The virus you likely never heard of is steadily marching north from Brazil. It’s Zika, spread by Aedes mosquitoes. It’s a flavivirus related to yellow fever, West Nile, Chikungunya, and dengue. The latest two that hit the U.S., Chikungunya and dengue, are painful and bad enough—and dengue can kill people […]

The virus you likely never heard of is steadily marching north from Brazil. It’s Zika, spread by Aedes mosquitoes. It’s a flavivirus related to yellow fever, West Nile, Chikungunya, and dengue. The latest two that hit the U.S., Chikungunya and dengue, are painful and bad enough—and dengue can kill people who are infected more than once. Zika adds an added nasty punch of perhaps causing microcephaly, a birth defect where babies are born with abnormally small skulls and brains, and often have developmental abnormalities.

Aedes aegypti mosquito. (Photo by James Gathany, CDC 2006)

Zika was first found in mosquitoes in the Zika forest in Uganda, then isolated in people in Nigeria in 1968, though there was serologic (antibody) evidence of it’s being present through many African countries, India and Malaysia. It was first found outside these endemic areas in 2007, when there was an outbreak on Yap, a South Pacific island.

Zika distribution pre-2007 - Emerging Infectious Diseases

This first map, shows the “known distribution of Zika virus, 1947–2007“. The red circle represents Yap Island. Yellow indicates human serologic evidence; red indicates virus isolated from humans; green represents mosquito isolates.”

These maps are intriguing, showing how quickly Zika is spreading. A similar pattern was seen with Chikungunya, which only reached Europe in 2007, and the Americas in 2013. That same year, in the largest outbreak to date, 28,000 people in French Polynesia (11% of the population) became ill.

Recommended by Forbes

Colombia is also seeing a huge rise in Zika cases, now with more than a thousand new cases a week. Brazil saw its first infection in May 2015. Since then, there has been an explosive increase in cases (estimated at 440,000-1.3 million) and associated cases of microcephaly, now numbering more than 1,000. (Curiously, the CDC says this is about a 10-fold increase; the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it is a 20-fold increase.)

Zika distribution 12-10-2015 - CDC

A map from December 2015 shows how Zika has spread northward since May, now with locally acquired cases in 10 Latin American countries, and travel-related cases diagnosed in the U.S. In just the time since I wrote the first draft of this post last week, Zika has spread further, most recently being found in Puerto Rico.

Given that mosquitoes don’t respect borders and that we now have Aedes-transmitted dengue and Chikungunya in the southern U.S., with similar climates as in now-endemic areas, I would expect us to soon begin seeing cases in Florida, Texas and the rest of the Gulf Coast, as well as perhaps California, as those areas all have the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the virus.

How is Zika spread?

Those pesky mosquitoes are the main way people contract Zika, dengue and Chikungunya. A transfusion-associated case of Zika was reported from Brazil last week.

There are also now two reports of possible sexual transmission of Zika. The first report is quite intriguing. A malaria researcher returned to Colorado from a trip to collect mosquitoes in Senegal. Both he and his wife later became ill with Zika, though she did not join in his travel. He appears to have infected his wife, noting “patients 1 and 3 reported having vaginal sexual intercourse in the days after patient 1 returned home but before the onset of his clinical illness.” Though not proof of sexual transmission, it is likely, given the hematospermia (bloody semen) reported in these two cases.

Symptoms–Does Zika Cause Microcephaly?

Most of the infections are asymptomatic. Illness occurs 3-12 days after the bite from an infected mosquito and lasts 4-7 days. The symptoms of Zika are easily confused with dengue and Chikungunya—fever, rash, joint pain, headache. Conjunctivitis is apparently more common with Zika. Other than serious birth defects, prompting travel alerts, or the spike in Guillain-Barre paralysis seen in Polynesia, Zika seems to be generally milder that these other viruses…but that will likely change as we learn more. We thought the same when West Nile virus, a member of the same family, emerged.

The biggest concern about Zika thus far is whether this virus is the cause of the surge in cases of microcephaly. To me, this seems likely, given the increase of these birth defects noted both in Fiji and in Brazil, corresponding with the outbreaks of Zika. There is no definitive proof yet…but it is further evidence that there are now two cases of Zika virus being isolated from amniotic fluid, explaining how fetuses might become infected. There was another report from Brazil of Zika virus found in the blood and tissue of a newborn with microcephaly, who died within minutes of birth.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is by reference lab work, so useful for hindsight, but not clinically. There are no rapid tests available in practice. But it’s useful to know what caused an infection, even if it is not treatable, as it might have implications for future care. For example, repeat dengue infections are much more likely to be life-threatening from hemorrhagic fevers than the initial illness.

There is only symptomatic treatment for any of these viruses—rest, fluids and pain meds, with acetaminophen (Tylenol) preferred. You should avoid aspirin or NSAIDs, at least until dengue is ruled out, as they could worsen the risk of bleeding.


Avoiding mosquito bites is the mainstay of preventing any infection from the critters. With malaria, the vector Anopheles mosquito generally bites at night or dawn and dusk, so using bed nets is an important route of prevention.

These disease-spreading mosquitoes are spreading between countries by travel, climate change and occasionally by human transmission to the insects.

In the last few years, the U.S. has had an invasion of Aedes mosquitoes, A. aegypti and A. albopictus. The Asian tiger mosquito, A. albopictus, which transmits all of these viruses, is an aggressive daytime feeder, making it much harder to avoid. It also can adapt to colder temperatures, meaning we will have much more trouble with it wintering over. One of the scary things is that this mosquito species has become resistant to four of the six pesticides used against it. This is part of why I support the use of Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes, which have shown a greater than 90% efficacy in reducing Aedes populations in South American trials.

One other thing that is important is protecting yourself from mosquito bites, even if you become ill with one of these viruses, so that you don’t infect other mosquitoes that feed on you, and thus fuel the spread of disease. Stay in, use a net or use an insect repellent—either permethrin on your clothes, or picaridin or DEET—on your skin.

It’s critical, too, to eliminate the breeding grounds for the mosquitoes, pools of standing water, as can occur in abandoned tires or buckets.


The CDC has issued a travel warning due to Zika for the countries in Latin America experiencing rapid spread, encouraging enhanced protection against mosquito bites. Pregnant women, in particular, are urged to take extra steps to avoid bites. The warnings should be applied more broadly, given the spread of Chikungunya and dengue as well, to other countries in Latin America.


Zika virus is the latest emerging infectious disease to grace the Americas. With globalization and climate change, we can expect to see more and more similar infections. The arboviruses dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika are likely to be growing problems in the U.S. over the coming year or two. Who knows—if global warming continues unabated, we might even see a resurgence of yellow fever in the south. Brace yourself for an exciting new year.

Source: Zika: Coming To America Through Mosquitoes, Travel And Sex – Forbes

A team of researchers plans to figure out why this happens

In recent years, scientists have made small steps towards understanding the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. Now, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland may soon illuminate the connection—they are launching the first experiment of its kind that will study a key process in the brains of sleeping humans, as NPR reports.

Disrupted sleep patterns have long been a common complaint for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes decades before they develop cognitive problems or noticeable memory loss. The reason, researchers have discovered, is likely the buildup of beta amyloid plaque, a sticky amalgamation of proteins that collects in synapses and is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. A number of studies published in the last five years have found that people (and mice) with disrupted sleep patterns had more beta amyloid plaque in their brains.

Researchers are starting to get a sense for why this is the case—sleep may sweep toxins from the brain, preventing beta amyloid from collecting in synapses. But scientists are still not sure what comes first—does the beta amyloid buildup cause the disrupted sleep, or the other way around? “It may be a vicious cycle,” Miroslaw Mackiewicz of the National Institute on Aging told the AP in July.

In order to better understand the brain’s “sweeping” mechanism that may be key to the Alzheimer’s puzzle, the Oregon team plans to observe people’s brains while they sleep. To do it, they’ll use a super-sensitive MRI machine to monitor just how and when the sweeping occurs during a participant’s sleep cycle. Though the researchers know it may be challenging to get volunteers to sleep in a noisy, confined MRI machine, they hope their findings could illuminate the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. If they can figure that out, new treatments and preventative measures for the disease may soon follow

Source: Not Enough Sleep May Help Alzheimer’s Take Hold | Popular Science