Monthly Archives: May 2017

“Fat But Fit”–No Such Luck

Medical scientists from the University of Birmingham are actively countering the theory that people can be simultaneously overweight and medically fit, presenting new research that reinforces that obese people are at a far greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease than people of a normal, healthy weight.

Researchers claim that the term ‘fat but fit’ is a fallacy that spurs the spread of obesity, a global public health epidemic. The study—presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Portugal—assesses the medical records of 3.5 million people in the United Kingdom between the years 1995 and 2015, in order to evaluate the legitimacy of the theory ‘fat but fit.’

Previous medical research suggests that obesity can have little impact on a person’s susceptibility to various harmful diseases, if they are considered to be otherwise medical healthy. Yet the research, which consistently tracked obese but “metabolically healthy” people, found that they were still at a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes and other heart-related conditions.

Specifically, the study found that obese people were 50 percent more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, and between 7 and 11 percent more likely to develop cerebrovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease. The United Kingdom’s largest funder of cardiovascular research, The British Heart Foundation, has stated that this research will help to dispel an ‘age-old myth.’

The data further estimates that approximately 28.1 percent of adults in the U.K. qualify as clinically obese, with a Body Mass Index greater than 30. In the United States, the statistics rise to approximately 66 percent.

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Artificial Sweeteners: Tied to Stroke & Dementia

A new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke suggests that artificial sweeteners, found in diet sodas, have considerable health risks for both the body and the brain.

The data was collected from the Framingham Heart Study, a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University, and involved data on 2,888 adults older than 45 and 1,484 adults older than 60 from Framingham, Massachusetts. In the group aged 45-and-older, researchers measured for increased risk of stroke; in the group aged 60-and-older, researchers measured for dementia.

The statistics analyzed how many sugary beverages and artificially sweetened soft drinks each person in the two different age groups drank, between the years 1991 and 2001. That data was than compared against the number of people who suffered from stroke or dementia in the next decade.

Researchers found that—juxtaposed against people who never drank artificially sweetened soft drinks—those who drank one per day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke. Those who drank one per day were also almost three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

Previous studies have shown a strong association between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and a host of adverse health effects, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Professor and chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Dr. Ralph Sacco confirms that this article “provides further evidence on artificially sweetened beverages and their possibly effects on vascular health…we believe the pathways of which artificially sweetened beverages would affect the brain are probably through vascular mechanisms.”

Moreover, artificial sweeteners have been shown to cause glucose intolerance in mice by altering gut microbiota, and have been associated with dysbiosis and glucose intolerance in humans. The cumulative research strongly indicates that there is no benefit to using artificial sweeteners, or drinking diet soda, compared to regular sucrose or sugary drinks.

To learn more about the gut-immune-brain connection, and the different ways in which various types of inflammation can affect the body and brain, register for Module VII: Autoimmune Disease & Inflammation, from August 10-12.

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Lyme Disease Awareness Month

The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has recently opened a new 16,000 square-foot $24 million facility, exclusively for the treatment of patients with chronic infectious diseases.

Named for the former director of the Hopkins’ division of infectious diseases, the John G. Bartlett Specialty Practice is expected to see approximately 170 patients each day. David Thomas, MD, director of the infectious diseases division at Johns Hopkins, explains that the geographic region of East Baltimore “has a greater burden of infectious diseases than most other regions of the country.”

The timing is particularly significant this month, as May represents Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Researchers and scientists across the country have consistently warned that the numbers of those afflicted with Lyme are expected to rise, calling the disease “a major U.S. public health problem.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are seeking to combat the rising epidemic, collaborating with local lawmakers and public health officials to raise awareness about Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses. Lawmakers in New York have recently spoken out in order to educate the public and medical community, in addition to fundraising money for further research.

There are approximately 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, and the number of those infected is expected to increase. According to Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, the illness is on track to produce its worst numbers in 2017. Moreover, many experts believe the true number of Lyme cases is higher than reported, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require ‘objective measures’ like positive blood tests or rashes; therefore, estimates indicate that CDC surveillance only captures approximately 10% of reportable Lyme cases. There is currently no vaccine for Lyme disease, and many physicians have noted that the FDA-approved blood tests are often inaccurate.

In order to learn more about the complex, multi-faceted nature of chronic infectious diseases, sign up for our upcoming Chronic Infections, Inflammation, and Biotoxins Symposium in Las Vegas, on August 12th. Experts will review the epidemiology of chronic infections from a global public health perspective, while discussing the application of advanced diagnostic techniques, including nanotechnology and genomic sequencing.

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