Probiotic pill shows promise against diabetes
Scientists at Cornell University are reporting positive results from a probiotic pill that they say can control diabetes and they think it’s possible that the treatment could one day lead to a cure for the condition.
The researchers engineered the pill from a human gut bacteria called Lactobacillus, which helps secrete a hormone that releases insulin. People living with diabetes are typically unable to produce adequate amounts of insulin.
The probiotic pill was given daily to rats with diabetes over the course of 90 days. Throughout the study, researchers monitored blood glucose levels of the diabetic rats involved in the study, as well as those of a control group of diabetic rats.
The researchers found that the blood glucose levels of the rats involved in the study were about 30 percent lower than the rats in the control group. Researchers observed that the pill seemed to work by essentially giving cells in the rats’ intestines the ability to secrete insulin and help regulate blood glucose levels.
The findings of the study, published in the journal Diabetics, suggest that the probiotic pill may help diabetics manage their condition if the pill has similar effects in humans.
The scientists are now looking at whether higher doses of the pill could actually completely reverse diabetes in rats.
Currently, 29 million Americans have diabetes.
Toddler food has as much salt, sugar as junk food
The salt and added sugar content found in packaged meals for toddlers may be as high as that found in common junk food, according to new research.
Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed the nutrition data on more than 1,000 different foods from grocery stores in the Atlanta area and from the Gladson Nutrition Database. Foods under study were those marketed to infants and toddlers and included fruit and vegetable juices, milk, yogurt and formulas.
The researchers found that the majority of the foods for infants were considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be “low sodium” and, with the exception of mixed-grain and fruit products, avoided added sugar. But packaged foods for toddlers (geared toward one to three-year-olds) were found to be high in salt, with 72 percent of premade dinners exceeding the recommended limits on sodium content. Also, the majority of toddler dinners and snacks were found to include added sugars.
The researchers said they hope the study’s findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, will encourage parents to pay closer attention to nutrition labels when buying food for their young children. They pointed out that research shows that kids establish their taste preferences early in their lives and if they become accustomed to tasting lots of salt and sugar during their toddler yeares, they’re more likely to end up with unhealthy diets as adults.
Longest surgery: Feb. 4-8, 1951
When Gertrude Levandowski, a 58-year-old widow from Burnips, Michigan, enters a Chicago hospital to have an ovarian cyst removed, it’s clear to doctors that they can’t follow the usual procedure.
Levandowski weighs more than 600 pounds and a large part of that weight is the cyst itself. It’s so large that it’s putting pressure on the woman’s heart and the surgeons doubt that she’ll survive if they try to cut out the massive growth.
So the lead surgeon, Dr. M.S. Roberts proposes a very different approach to getting rid of the cyst. Instead of hacking it out, he suggests gradually draining fluid from the cyst — like slowly deflating a balloon — then removing the shrunken tumor once it no longer presents a threat to Levandowski’s heart.
So they begin to drain it. Over almost four days they suck fluid out of the cyst at a rate of 120 drops per minute until they’ve extracted about 200 pounds of liquid. Though it’s shrunken considerably, the growth still weighs more than 150 pounds, but it’s small enough to remove through more conventional surgery.
Despite the trauma to her body, Levandowski recovers quickly and when she leaves the hospital, she has lost half her weight. A few months later, after surgery to remove another 50 pounds of excess flesh, she weighs under 300 pounds for the first time in decades.
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FDA approves ADHD drug to treat binge-eating
The U.S. and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has, for the first time, approved a drug to treat binge-eating–a disorder characterized by repeated episodes of uncontrolled eating.
The drug is Vyvanse, a stimulant often prescribed as a treatment for ADHD.
Scientists tested Vyvanse on patients in various clinical studies and compared the effects with those from a placebo. At the start of the study, the patients on average reported bingeing on 4.79 days per week. After 12 weeks, the patients who received the drug on average reported bingeing on fewer than one day per week. The patients who received a placebo saw less of a reduction in their weekly binge days.
Researchers anticipate the drug could help many of the roughly 2.8 million people in the U.S. who currently live with binge-eating disorder. They did warn against the drug’s potential side effects, which may include elevated blood pressure and heart rate, insomnia, hallucinations and risk for abuse and addiction.
Heavy drinking in midlife raises stroke risk significantly
For middle-aged adults, drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day may increase their risk of stroke by more than 33 percent, according to research published in Stroke.
Scientists from St. Annes University Hospital in the Czech Republic conducted a study on twins to measure the effect of alcohol on stroke risk. The team monitored 11,644 sets of same-sex twins beginning between 1967 and 1970, starting with questionnaires that assessed their dietary habits. Researchers then monitored the twins for 43 years collecting health data from hospital visits, causes of death, blood pressure smoking and other factors.
By the end of the study, the twins who drank heavily were found to be 34 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who drank lightly. Almost 30 percent of all the participants had a stroke within the study period, The study suggests that age is a factor for risk, since those who drank heavily between ages 50 and 60 were more likely to suffer a stroke five years earlier than others, and twins who suffered a stroke drank more than their siblings who did not have a stroke.
Additionally, the researchers found that alcohol has a greater effect on stroke risk during middle age than blood pressure and diabetes do. Those conditions play a larger role after age 75.
Every year about 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke.
Eye-tracking tech could detect football concussions
A new device that tracks eye movements may be able to measure the severity of brain injuries for football players in emergency rooms and potentially even on the sidelines during games.
When a person is healthy, their eyes move in sync with each other. When there is brain injury, however, the eyes may move in different directions, although subtly enough that it often goes undetected by doctors. A team from NYU’s Langone Medical Center tested new eye-tracking technology on three groups: those with a brain injury visible in a CT scan, those with an injury that was not visible, and a healthy control group. The new tool, which can be carried in a backpack, more precisely tracks the location of each eye and compares their movements.
Eye movements were tracked as patients watched Shakira and Disney music videos. The results, published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, showed the eye tracker accurately detected brain injury, and was able to measure severity of injury based on the degree of eye coordination.
Researchers have long been searching for a more effective way to measure brain injuries, since doctors have been using electroencephalography or EEG for close to 50 years. An EEG uses electrodes on the scalp to detect brain impulses; however, there is no way to tell where the injury is coming from within the brain. Other tests such as blood marker, or neurophysiological testing may be altered by chemical pathways, or manipulated by patients.