Low Carb Diets May Burn More Calories, Says Study
Traditionally, the belief has been that weight gain or loss is directly related to consumption and burning of calories. Now, new research suggests that certain diets, namely, those with low carbohydrate (carb) content, are better calorie burners than others. This study has been published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and suggests that a low-carb diet can help people maintain weight...
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  • Prominent Doctors Aren’t Disclosing Their Industry Ties in Medical Journal Studies. And Journals Are Doing Little to Enforce Their Rules

    The dean of Yale’s medical school, the incoming president of a prominent cancer group and the head of a Texas cancer center are among leading medical figures who have not accurately disclosed their relationships with drug companies. This story was co-published with The New York Times.


    One is dean of Yale’s medical school. Another is the director of a cancer center in Texas. A third is the next president of the most prominent society of cancer doctors.


    These leading medical figures are among dozens of doctors who have failed in recent years to report their financial relationships with pharmaceutical and health care companies when their studies are published in medical journals, according to a review by ProPublica and The New York Times and data from other recent research.


    Dr. Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, the president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, for instance, declared that he had no conflicts of interest in more than 50 journal articles in recent years, including in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.


    However, drug companies have paid his employer nearly $114,000 for consulting and speaking, and nearly $8 million for his research during the period for which disclosure was required. His omissions extended to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which is published by the group he will lead.


    In addition to the widespread lapses by doctors, the review by ProPublica and The Times found that journals themselves often gave confusing advice and did not routinely vet disclosures by researchers, although many relationships could have been easily detected on a federal database.


    Medical journals, which are the main conduit for communicating the latest scientific discoveries to the public, often have an interdependent relationship with the researchers who publish in their pages. Reporting a study in a leading journal can heighten their profile—not to mention that of the drug or other product being tested. And journals enhance their cachet by publishing exclusive, breakthrough studies by acclaimed researchers.


    In all, the reporting system still appears to have many of the same flaws that the Institute of Medicine identified nearly a decade ago when it recommended fundamental changes in how conflicts of interest are reported. Those have yet to happen.


    “The system is broken,” said Dr. Mehraneh Dorna Jafari, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. She and her colleagues published a study in August that found that, of the 100 doctors who received the most compensation from device makers in 2015, conflicts were disclosed in only 37 percent of the articles published in the next year. “The journals aren’t checking and the rules are different for every single thing.”


    Calls for transparency stem from concerns that researchers’ ties to the health and drug industries increase the odds they will, consciously or not, skew results to favor the companies with whom they do business. Studies have found that industry-sponsored research tends to be more positive than research financed by other sources. And that in turn can sway which treatments become available to patients. There is no indication that the research done by Burris and the other doctors with incomplete disclosures was manipulated or falsified.


    Journal editors say they are introducing changes that will better standardize disclosures and reduce errors. But some have also argued that since most researchers follow the rules, stringent new requirements would be costly and unnecessary.


    The issue has gained traction since September, when Dr. José Baselga, the chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, resigned after The Times and ProPublica reported that he had not revealed his industry ties in dozens of journal articles.


    Burris, president of clinical operations and chief medical officer at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, referred questions to his employer.


    Continue Reading…


    Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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    Immigrating to US Can Drastically Change Your Gut Microbiome, Says Study
    When immigrants arrive in the United States, their gut microbiomes start to change. The native strains of bacteria that they bring from other continents are replaced by those found more commonly in Westernised bodies and the overall diversity is lost. This fascinating discovery was made by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Somali, Latino and Hmong Partnership for Health and Wellness. It was published in the scientific journal Cell
    According to the study, moving to the US can seriously mess with immigrants’ microbiomes. “We found that immigrants begin losing their native microbes almost immediately after arriving in the U.S. and then acquire alien microbes that are more common in European-American people,” says lead author Dr Dan Knights, a computer scientist and quantitative biologist at the University of Minnesota. Some of the strains they lose are the ones that help them break down and glean nutrients from fibres found in Southeast Asian staples like wild greens, coconut and tamarind.
    The researchers began the study with the assistance and inspiration from Minnesota’s large community of refugees and immigrants from Southeast Asia, particularly the Hmong and Karen peoples, ethnic minorities that were originally from China and Burma and that, today, have communities in Thailand. They adopted a novel community-based participatory research method wherein members of the Hmong and Karen communities in Minnesota and Thailand were involved in designing the study, recruiting participants and educating their communities about the findings. 
    The team of researchers compared gut microbiota of Hmong and Karen people still living in Thailand; Hmong and Karen people who had immigrated to the US; the children of those immigrants; and Caucasian American controls. Much to their advantage, they were also able to follow a group of 19 Karen refugees as they relocated from Thailand to the US, allowing them to track how the refugees’ gut microbiomes changed longitudinally in their first six to nine months in the US.
    The researchers were surprised to find that significant changes happened fast. In the first six to nine months, the Western strain Bacteriodes began to displace the non-Western bacteria strain Prevotella. This Westernisation also continued to happen over the course of the first decade in the US, and overall mircobiome diversity decreased, the longer the immigrants had been in the US. Analysing the participants’ food logs suggested that eating a more Western diet played a role in perturbing the microbiome but could not entirely explain all the changes.
    Other studies have shown that people in developing nations have a much greater diversity of bacteria in their gut microbiome, the population of beneficial microbes living in humans’ intestines, than people living in the US. “But it was striking to see this loss of diversity actually happening in people who were changing countries or migrating from a developing nation to the US,” says Dr Knights. Lead author, Dr Pajau Vangay, added, “Obesity was a concern that was coming up a lot for the Hmong and Karen communities here. In other studies, the microbiome had been related to obesity, so we wanted to know if there was potentially a relationship in immigrants and make any findings relevant and available to the communities.” 
    The researchers also learnt that changes in the microbiome were even more pronounced in the children of immigrants. “We don’t know for sure why this is happening. It could be that this has to do with actually being born in the USA or growing up in the context of a more typical US diet. But it was clear that the loss of diversity was compounded across generations. And that’s something that has been seen in animal models before but not in humans,” explained Dr Knights. It should be noted that the research was not able to establish a cause and effect relationship between micrbiome changes in immigrants and the immigrant obesity epidemic. However, it did show a correlation that greater Westernisation of the microbiome was associated with greater obesity. 
    Dr Knights is of the belief that this research conveys a lot about our health. “When you move to a new country, you pick up a new microbiome. And that’s changing not just what species of microbes you have, but also what enzymes they carry, which may affect what kinds of food you can digest and how your diet interacts with your health,” he said. “This might not always be a bad thing, but we do see that Westernisation of the microbiome is associated with obesity in immigrants, so this could be an interesting avenue for future research into treatment of obesity, both in immigrants and potentially in the broader population.”
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